Thursday, April 24, 2014

Providence, Chicago and Boston, (and...MDI, GULP!), OH MY!

My city hopping marathon tour began (bright and early!) Monday morning at the mile 14 hydration station on the Boston marathon course. My husband and I, along with our good friend Steve, volunteered with the Maine Track Club at the station. It was an extremely long, but very fun and rewarding day. From being feet away from the elites flying by, to meeting my virtual Hanson's training partner, Erika, from Florida, to seeing marathon dreams come true for many friends, it was just a surreal day. The absolute best part of it, however, was seeing my husband become invested and excited in the marathon. He has always supported by marathon adventures, although he now admits that he thought marathoning may just be a phase, not something that has completely consumed my life, but he, naturally, has never been as obsessed with it as me. We chatted most of the way home about the marathon and the elites. The next morning, I was exhausted from the long day and ready to sleep in late. However, I was woken by him watching videos on his computer. Crankily, I rolled over wondering what the hell he was doing (SLEEP IN DAMNIT). Much to my surprise, he was watching the marathon. He wanted to see where Meb got in front and where Shalene fell back (his words). I was shocked. We ended up watching the whole thing again. I was ecstatic to see him interested. Towards the end of the mens race, we were even picking out spots along the course where he could watch me next year. Which leads me to my next very exciting point. Now, after 6 months of waiting, I can finally say "I am running Boston NEXT year!" Yahoo!

MTC Boston Marathon Volunteers

The newest marathon fan!

But before Boston, I have two (umm, maybe three) marathon to conquer.

#1 - Chicago - 10/12/14. It is official. I am IN! Flights and hotel are booked. This will be my first (very mini) vacation/marathon combo and I couldn't be more excited. In fact, this will be the first time (in our 9+ years together) Nate and I have even been on a plane together/on a "vacation." I think we are well overdue (even if there is a marathon involved - sorry Nate!).

#2 - MDI. Well, this came as a bit of a surprise and was rather unplanned...but...

Oops. My plan as of now is to run with a friend, pending an injury free Chicago training/marathon. MDI is easily the most scenic marathon I've done and I'm excited to have chance to go back and actually enjoy the course and not race it.

#3 PROVIDENCE, BABY! 10 days and counting. I am not sure I can concisely put how this training cycle has gone down quite yet. I am still a bit on a roller coaster ride about it. I had a perfect 10 and a half weeks on the Hanson's plan, then modified the plan for the last 8 weeks. Even with the modifications, I managed 5 days of running each week, averaged 45 -50 miles most weeks and did most SOS (something of substance) workouts, although I cut back the mileage on some, and the pace on others. One second I feel like I'd be lucky to even get my time from my last marathon (3:32). Then the next I remember that even with the modified plan, I've put in more mileage and more work than I ever have before.I know that when push comes to shove, it's going to come down to how my hip flexor feels that day. If it feels good, pending any weather issues/wall hitting, I know i have a PR in my legs. If my hip flexor is tight and cranky that day, it's not happening. This is something I have just come to accept, and I suppose, at this point, time will tell.

10 perfect weeks of Hansons...and then some modifications.
Regardless of what happens, I do know that the fitness I have gained from this marathon cycle is monumental and it will show this racing season. Tuesday was the first day of track and I had four - one mile repeats on the schedule, at 7:30 pace. I fell into the first one on feel without looking at my pace and was shocked to see it read 6:45 at the mile mark, at lactate. I followed that up with two more comfortable mile repeats at lactate in 6:35 and 6:45, and then the hip flexor tightened up and I put out the last on in 6:50. I needed this run for my brain - to convince me that 1) I can still run fast 2) running feels good 3) I am faster and stronger than last year. Now, if my brain can just remember this track workout for the next 10 days, I might be able to maintain sanity during taper!

;-) hehe

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Recipe #11: Enchilada Quinoa and Some Random Happenings!

So, I have been working on this blog post since Sunday night, and four days later, it is finally ready to post. Truth is, after starting it on Sunday, I really have not been in the mood to write. Sunday night, (after devouring the delicious new recipe to come later in this post), we decided to bring Smokey the Cat back to the emergency vet (for the fourth time). We were now going on about 5 weeks of emergency vet/regular vet trips and an exorbitant amount of expenses.

One week of meds for poor Smokestack! 
But we knew Smokey was sick again. The vet we saw was excellent, but sadly informed us that as a result of having the catheter in for too long, Smokey's kidneys had shut down and were unable to recover. As we were speaking, his little body was giving way - he had developed a heart murmur, and his body temperature was plummeting (earlier in the day we caught Smokey and Dixie cuddling on the bed...very strange for Smokey to let the dog so near, must have been for warmth). We had no other option at this point but to put him to rest. This was our first animal loss and was extremely hard on us, and especially on my husband as Smokey was his "wingman." I have been spending the week giving extra cuddles to our other cats and dogs, not wanting to take one moment with them for granted.

Dixie keeping Smokey warm in his final hours.
Dogs are amazing creatures...she knew he was not well,
and took care of him. 
Nate's Wingman. They shared a love for Lays. 

Smokey <3 
Fenway, Smokey and Dixie upon one of Smokey's returns from the E-vet. 

Anyways, tonight was the first night I started to feel a little bit more like myself, so, back to the delicious recipe.

On Sunday night, I made "Enchilada Quinoa and Black Beans." First and foremost, you should know that this recipe can serve a small army! I ended up splitting it in two and we ate (well!) for two nights this week. Nate really enjoyed this recipe and stated that it tasted just like enchiladas. This recipe was also extremely easy to make.

Here is the recipe:

1 Cup Quinoa
1 can black beans
Olive Oil
1 onion
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 can of corn
3 cloves garlic
1c enchilada sauce
Cumin to taste
Chili powder to taste
Cilantro to taste
lime juice
Mexican shredded cheese mix

1. Boil the quinoa. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add in the onion, green and red peppers, corn and garlic. As it is cooking, add in the cumin, cilantro, and chili powder. (I say add to taste because I never measure my spices!). Sprinkle some lime juice over the mix.

2. In a large bowl, mix the quinoa with the can of black beans. Add in the sautéed vegetable mix and the enchilada sauce.

3. Pour the mixture into a greased casserole pan. Top the dish with the Mexican cheese (you may want to add some throughout the mix as well). Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes and then enjoy!

As I said before, this recipe makes a ridiculous amount of food. It is going to be a great one to have on hand when we have late nights after school (conference night!) and need a quick pre-made meal.

HUGE skillet of vegetables!
Cheesy Enchilada deliciousness
(this is one dish of two this size that the recipe made)
On another, training related, note, someone using the Hanson's method reposted this quote from the Hanson's Marathon Method training book on their facebook page this week and I got a BIG kick out of it....

"How much and what kind of pain you feel the day after a marathon can vary; however, it's common to feel stiff, sore, and supremely worn-out. The marathon breaks down your muscles on a microscopic level, leaving them in dire need of time for rest and repair." 
Hansons Marathon Method, by Luke Humphrey, pg 207

Well, that is refreshing and reassuring (I think???). "Supremely worn out" might describe it at the moment! As of today I hit 725 miles training for this marathon (I don't think I hit 700 miles till the end of May, mid June last year....). My training seems up and down - one run feels awful, the next I feel amazing. The hip/glute issue I was having is slowwwllyyy resolving itself (knock on wood) and feels to be at about 80%-90% right now. I have come to the conclusion that I have absolutely no clue what to expect on marathon day and have no guesses to how it is going to go. If I wake up that morning and the hip feels good and loose, it will go fine. If it is tight and achy and I have no range of motion, I will probably have to settle for 8:30-8:45's for the race as that is all I can seem to get out of it range of motion wise when it is tight. Not knowing has kind of taken some of the pressure off. Whatever happens, happens. Time shall tell! 

For now, I am going to enjoy this (semi) taper and I am really going to enjoy volunteering the mile 14 water stop at the Boston Marathon on Monday! Happy (almost) marathon Monday! 

Post Run stretch-cuddles in last year Boston Marathon
Volunteer jacket. Dug it out for my run 4/15 to honor the day. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mission 24 Recipe #10: Kale and Spaghetti Squash Casserole

It is hard to believe, but even with no new recipes the whole month of March, I am still on track to meet my goal of experimenting with 24 new recipes in 2014 for Mission 24. I finally had the energy to dig up and plan a new recipe for today's dinner. This afternoon I whipped up a Kale and Spaghetti Squash Casserole. I tend to stay away from casseroles because they usually call for some sort of cream and lots of cheese, but I decided to suck it up and give it a try.

To start with, I cleaned and cooked the spaghetti squash as I usually would (40 minutes at 400 degrees). I had a little surprise in today's spaghetti squash. Apparently, my squash has sprouted! I am just going to take this as a sign that spring has indeed sprung!

While the squash was cooking, I sautéed the kale, an onion and a few cloves of garlic. At the same time, I also mixed together 1/2 cup of sour cream, 1 egg and 1/2 cup of cottage cheese (my stomach may have churned a few times during this step...the consistency of these items does not sit well with me). When the spaghetti squash was done, I grated it out into spaghetti strands and mixed it in with the kale/onion/garlic I sautéed and the cottage cheese/sour cream/egg mix in a casserole dish. I decided it needed some mozzarella cheese and breadcrumbs sprinkled on top as well before I put it in the oven (the original recipe did not call for this). Last, I put it in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes. 

Voila! Dinner!

Nate really enjoyed this recipe. He has requested it with breadcrumbs mixed in throughout for next time. I really loved how the kale on top crisped up with the breadcrumbs making it nice and crunchy. I still could kinda taste the sour cream/cottage cheese in there, which was a turn off for me, but I think if I reduce the amounts a bit for next time I can manage. Other than that, it was a really yummy (and easy) dish.

On another note, today we started our spring planting! I am wicked psyched to get our garden up and running (FINALLY) this year. We moved into our house August four years ago (really cannot believe it's been four years!) and unfortunately the previous owners had let the garden overgrow, as they were busy making a huge out of state move. It has been overgrown ever since, but in the fall, Nate took down the old fence and we begun the planning. In May, he will be building me a brand new fence (thank you, You Tube). We have 8 huge boxes to fill, so I started some seeds today! Time to see if I have a green thumb! 

Onions, tomatoes, green peppers and cauliflower!
One of two kits ready to roll! 

And last, but not least, after another trip to the vet last week, we made one final, as the vet called it, "Hail Mary" attempt at saving Mr. Smokey. I am literally sick to my stomach every time i think about how much money was spent to save this cat, but somehow, he seems to be turning a corner. He is doing better the last few days, but if he digresses, he will need to be put down. Since he came back home on Wednesday, he has been quite the cuddle bug, and even has found a new found love for his doggie siblings! 

Despite the look, he really is loving this...

as is his dad....

Smokey's medicine cabinet...twice a day...

Until next time...happy running (4 weeks until Marathon day!) , happy eating, and happy spring! 

Kale and Spaghetti Squash Casserole

1 Spaghetti Squash
1 bunch of Kale
1 onion
1/2 C sour cream
1/2 C cottage cheese
Mozzarella cheese and breadcrumbs (if you choose)
Spices of you choosing (I used pepper and parsley)

1. Cut spaghetti squash in half and clean. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.
2. Sautee kale, onion and garlic.
3. Mix egg, cottage cheese and sour cream.
4. Mix everything together in a casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheese and breadcrumbs.
5. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.