Saturday, October 23, 2010

Too much soup?!

What do you think?
I think you guys know by now how much I enjoy a fall day of cooking and today was no exception. I had a 14 miler on deck (yep, back to training...California International Marathon in December!), but I ended up listening to my legs and scaled it back to a 10.5 miler. Definitely didn't do enough stretching/sticking post-Chicago.

Met Selin to cause some trouble at Sports Basement, but I only stuck to the necessary items:
Headlamp to, you know, see (Tuesday's run was not only a rough return to weekday running, but it was also a super dark one).
And arm warmers. I have a really hard time controlling my temperature when I run and I really really hate having to tie anything around my waist. These will do. Successful morning :)

The rain finally started pouring down when I got home (thank goodness) and it was perfect for the afternoon of cooking I had planned. I've wanted to make a big batch of soup for awhile now and I picked up some lentils the other day at Whole Foods.
So colorful!

Paired with a few other ingredients,
I made that soup happen.

Veggiful Lentil Soup
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 large carrot, sliced and halved
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp thyme
5 slices turkey bacon, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
10 c chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp hot pepper paste
1 1/2 c green lentils
1 1/2 c red lentils
parmesan rind
2 c broccoli rabe, chopped

Place lentils in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside as you prepare the rest of the soup.

Heat olive oil in a stockpot and brown bacon bits.
Add onions, leeks and celery; cook until softened. Add carrot and pepper paste and cook for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and thyme and cook for another 3-5 minutes.

Stir in lentils and pour in broth. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add parmesan rind and broccoli rabe and let simmer for another 20-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

I thought this was a pretty good soup...not my favorite, but I'm sure it would be better with some homemade chicken stock. Maybe swap out the turkey bacon (which honestly doesn't have much flavor in my opinion) for some chunks of nice smokey keilbasa?

For dessert, I sliced into a dragon fruit for the first time
I'm obsessed with anything dragon fruit flavored and I love the way dragon fruit looks.
Plus, how can you not love a fruit that doubles as a bowl?

Sadly, I'm not really that into the taste. It definitely doesn't taste like artificial dragon fruit flavor. In fact, I think it tastes a lot like water :[

Luckily I had some red bean mochi to snack on. I don't know why but I LOVE LOVE LOVE anything made with glutinous rice. I guess it's not a texture most people enjoy, but there's just something about that chewy, sticky, gummy texture that I can't get enough of!

As all this cooking and snacking took place, I also felt compelled to watch the Giants/Phillies game. Let it be known I usually don't watch baseball, but for some reason I've been following since I went to my first Giants game last month. What can I say? This city is glowing with orange and it's hard not to get caught up in it!
I planned on baking some blondies for book club tomorrow based on this recipe by Smitten Kitchen. It was incredibly easy and I ended up adding some 62% cacao dark chocolate chunks and 1/4 c bourbon to the mix. Also, since I don't have any brownie tins, I turned these into mini muffins.

They smelled SOOOO good as they baked and I was on the edge of my seat waiting for them to finish while watching this:
The minute they won, I heard yelps and screams outside and lots of honking and celebrating. I love this city :)

I might even love it as much as I love snacking on these nuggets:
Yum. Not quite what I expected, but not bad. I was hoping for a slight bourbon taste, but I guess it all burned off? Maybe I should have done half without the bourbon and half with just to compare. Ah well. These puppies are all packed and ready for tomorrow!
How would you spend a rainy fall afternoon?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The hills are alive

With the sound of thousands of Nike Women's Marathoners!!

This particular race will always have a special place in my heart since it was my very first marathon and my first visit to San Francisco. I was absolutely thrilled to cheer for some pretty awesome ladies this morning :)
Did I mention this was my first time as a cheerleader? Yeeeah.

Since I was cheering on a bunch of half marathoners (real life friends and a Twitter/blogger buddy!) and a super speedy solo marathoner, I needed to do some serious planning. Naturally, I ran to the cheering spots (gotta multi-task!) and managed to rack up 8 miles with a few pauses here and there. Not too shabby for my first post-Chicago, post-sick run.

On my way to cheering spot numero uno, I managed to see one of the first runners as she zoomed past the 4.5 mile mark.
So fast, you can barely see her! I thought it was kinda cool since I've never seen the front of the pack before :)

I veered off the course for a bit to run along the Crissy Field Promenade before cutting across to the runners' giant climb. I really really wanted to park myself at the top of this hill because I remember it being the steepest, longest, most brutal climb of the race. I also remember thinking the hill was totally worth it for the view.
Amazing. I only wish it was a clearer day!

This was also the last major incline I remember from running the race. Seriously, everything else was a speed bump compared to that monster. Three years later, I ran up a dirt path alongside the runners and it was still tough!
SO, my sign said 'Last Hill'...though, now I know I probably should have specified, last super steep hill. Some people were really not nice about it. I got called liar a bunch of times and some people were REALLY snippy. Meh? So I kept yelling 'I mean, last big, steep one!' Ah well. You win some, you lose some.

I had a tough time spotting people, but luckily I told friends what to look for and they ended up having to shout my name so I could see them!
(yeah, I braved the chill just so they could spot me and maybe so I could finally rock my gear from Chicago ;p)
Wooo! Two out of four rockstars charging it up the never ending incline!

I hung out until a little before 9am and started my run toward Lake Merced to cheer on my full marathoner buddy. I ran back down toward Crissy Field and saw more runners as they started their ascent (so many runners!).
Rocked out to the song that was stuck in my head all afternoon because someone had it on repeat at the bottom of the hill...

I might need to add it to my running mix. haha.

One hour to make it to Lake was a tough call. Run? Cab? Take a chance w/the rerouted bus routes and then run?? I planned on running to a major street and hopping into a cab, but I managed to get to a bus stop just as one was pulling up. Sweet!

See, Lake Merced was another rough spot for me when I ran 3 years ago. It's a 4.5 mile empty stretch along the lake's perimeter and you run right next to traffic. Since it's so far out, there aren't a ton of spectators out there...and it pops up right when you need people the most - miles 19-23.5!

A friend of mine agreed to come out and cheer with me so she parked herself with a sign around mile 22 just in case I couldn't get there in time. We were equipped with water and Chomps just in case our runner needed them!

My bus dropped me off just north of the lake and I ran along the eastern side...little did I know I would be running alongside the marathoners for TWO miles. Flashbacks!!
Everyone was looking great and so strong, despite the change in weather (at this point, it started raining and the temperature dropped a little)! So many purple TNT proud of everyone for fundraising AND rocking the challenging course :)

I eventually made it to mile 22 and we waited for speedy to come by. We saw her after awhile and it was like we were two proud mommas! She looked FABULOUS for 22 miles in...chipper and fast! We ran with her for a minute or two, but she was too fast for us...we were worried that we were slowing her down. Still waiting to see if she made her goal of 4 hours :)

Congratulations to ALL the half marathoners and marathoners!! You guys tackled some serious hills and bad weather and still looked amazing. I loved watching you all and taking a little side trip down memory lane :) Enjoy the recovery and the sweet earned it :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

10.10.10 - The date for redemption.

Oh yeah, it was also the date to motivate.
Two years ago, I arrived in Chicago to tackle my second marathon. I arrived alone and unprepared, but surprisingly excited to take on the challenge. My training was horrible that summer - I lacked the discipline and motivation to properly train (I ended up only doing a handful of long runs). I don't even think I made it to 18 that summer. Terrible. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have run that year. The only thing that got me out there was the fact that I had already paid for my registration ticket and hostel!

Flash forward to the present. I signed up for this year's Chicago Marathon for a few reasons:
  1. I'm a nerd and get excited at the idea of running on 10.10.10
  2. I kept reading about other bloggers signing up and it made me want to run it again
  3. It's flat, it's fast and I was determined to finally drop my marathon time to under 5 hrs.
I think they're pretty good reasons, don't you?

I was determined to redeem myself during this year's race. I was sure the hill training and extra speed would pay off.

I woke up wired race day morning and headed out for my 3/4 mi walk to the start. I threw on a trusty pullover since, you know, dark mornings usually mean a slight chill in the air, right? Wrong. Had to be a least 65 at 6:30am. Wruh-wroh!

Checked my gear and weaved my way to the giant blue 4:45 Nike pacer sign. I had hoped to meet up with Val since we were planning to run around the same pace, but of course we were wearing the colors everyone else decided to wear. D'oh!
I ended up getting trapped in the massive crowd at the start, but I told myself to chill out and just stick with my pace tattoo. I could find the pacers later. The first 1/4 mile or so zoomed thing I knew we were zipping past my hotel (ha!) and nearing the first mile mark.
One minute ahead of pace. Calm down.

I felt like I finally hit a comfortable pace around mile 2...not too fast, just a smidge faster than a comfortable jog. Enh. I was now hitting my splits consistently...4 min ahead of my pace band. I'm sure anyone running near me from miles 1-6 could hear me chanting "calm the f down. Keep a steady pace." O yeah, I was talking to myself.

I kept this up for the first 16 miles...teetering between 3 and 4 min ahead of pace. I was running strong and steady and felt like I could maintain this speed for awhile. All of a sudden between 16 and 17, it hit me. The sun, the heat, defeat. I finally hit a split. Then I watched everything go downhill. I went from hitting my splits to 1 min slow to 2 min slow, to I stopped paying attention.
I want that puppy.

Nerves/hypochondria set in and I started taking sips of Gatorade and water at every aid station. I stepped my pace back big time and focused on what my body sounded like. Breath (huffing and puffing or calm?), heartbeat (pounding or not?). My brain went into overdrive. Why? I've been here before. I know how to run in the heat. (o yeah, that was chant number 2) I guess I was just super freaked out that I wasn't prepared. And I was bummed I wasn't going to meet my goal. The goal I had trained all summer for.

Around mile 21 in Chinatown, I looked up and saw part of my cheering section! My brother and his girlfriend drove down from Ann Arbor to cheer (slash hang w/their friends in town, obvs) and snagged an awesome spot along the median. Woo!

I got a burst of energy soon after that. Maybe it was the crowd, or the giant pink dragons, or Jamie was sending good vibes from the crowd (even though I didn't see him), or perhaps it was Chariots of Fire blasting as we turned a corner. Yeah. Could have been that. Haha.

At some point during all this (I have no idea when because I must have blocked it out) the event level went from yellow (less than ideal) to red (potentially dangerous). Seriously Chicago, cut a girl a break! This was like a repeat of 2008!

I struggled through to 22, telling myself that I had to make it to the Redhead and her awesome cheering skills! I think I ended up missing the Redhead by 20 min or so and decided it was finally time for a pee break. Guess all those liquids finally got to me. HA.

Not the best idea since I watched all my energy go down the hole. I left that porta potty surprisingly drained of all energy and I didn't think it was possible to go any further. At mile 23, I had mentally given up. I'll admit it, I also turned into a giant baby and had a silent boo hoo session as I shuffled along.
I knew there was no way I was going to make my goal of 4:45 so I reassessed and decided I just wanted to come in under 5 hours. Slow and steady. Drink and walk through the water stops.

The last few miles were tough and they seemed to drag on forever. More chanting took place along the way...this time it was more like me yelling at myself. I knew I could finish. I had done it 3 times before. I knew I could run in the heat. It was all I ever trained in. Why was this so difficult?

Next thing I knew I was 800m from the finish (hallelujah!) and I knew that little speed bump was coming up. Muahahaha. The speed bump I refused to let beat me. Charged it through to the finish...4:57. Done.

I have mixed feelings about this race. I'm happy I shaved 13 minutes off my PR and that I finally dipped below 5 hours. I trained properly this time. I ran 14 minutes faster than 2008. I got my redemption.
I know there's no such thing as a perfect race or perfect conditions, but I can't help but wonder what if the heat didn't get to me. What if I stuck with my pace band?

Meh. What ifs are no fun. There's always next time...

Monday, October 11, 2010


With a belly full of yummy eats, another segway tour to report on and a brand new marathon PR!

It was quite the weekend and I wish it didn't fly by so quickly :( I'm working on a couple of weekend recap posts for y'all, but in the meantime...

Monday, October 4, 2010

My first DNS

Kinda embarrassing, but I didn’t run yesterday’s Bridge to Bridge 12k for one simple reason: I woke up late. Terrible, right? In my 5 years of running, I have not missed a race and I’m still kicking myself for the snafu. I have no idea if I hit 'off' instead of 'snooze' on my phone, or if I just didn’t hear it go off…either way, MAJOR fail. At least the registration fee went to a good cause.

I knew I needed to get at least one run in to break in the new kicks
Me likey the new color :) I was a little worried that I wouldn't get these in time, but as soon as I laced these puppies up, all was well in the world again. I love fresh cushioning! Now, what to do with my other 3 pairs...o yes, we're back to this again. Anyone know of places in SF that take old running sneakers??
I also dated new sneaker process.

I took a windy loop around the neighborhood before running errands. Not quite the same as racing a 12k, but I’ll take it. On the race week agenda: Tuesday 5 miler w/the running group, maybe a short n' speedy Wednesday run, and an easy 2 miler on Saturday...just to get the legs moving.

This DNS was a fairly appropriate way to close out yet another week of firsts...

First time I realized a speedy run can be comfortable
Tuesday's 5 miler was another speedy one and I felt amazing afterward. I was in the zone and felt like I was running strong (well maybe not at the end when I was too nervous I'd trip on my own two feet since it was so dark). All this time I've been sticking to my cruising pace...I had no idea I had a speedy side that was itching to bust out!

First Giants game
Wednesday night I went to my very first Giants game...

Amazing seats. I don't think I'll be able to go to another game. I've been spoiled. Hahaha. Also, I found out that they serve amazing caramel corn at AT&T Park.
Warm, gooey, buttery, AAAAHHH!! SO GOOD!

First knife purchase
Hi new knife!

I've been sitting on this WS gift card since I moved so when I got an email saying there was a sale on Wüsthof Classic knives, you bet I zoomed out to get one.

It's not my first Wüsthof knife, but it's the first I've purchased on my own. My o so favorite santoku knife was a gift from Jamie. I went into the store with the intent to buy the 6" chef's knife, but when I compared it to the feel of the 8", there was too big of a difference not to upgrade. The 8" just felt right (that's what she said har, har, har). Plus, why would I get a shorter knife than the one I already have?

I'm content. Best. Purchase. Ever. And yes, I'm THAT excited about a knife.

First stew-y/to be frozen and eaten later kitchen adventure
It had to be done sometime (recipe is at the end of this post)...
I was craving some Japanese curry and I figured what better time to make it than oh, you know, a Friday afternoon. That's just how I roll.

It's been awhile since I made a batch and I was worried I didn't have a pot big enough, especially with all the nuggets of deliciousness I planned on putting in it. Thankfully my pot didn't overflow and it was a successful curry afternoon. This version used a couple ingredients I had in the apartment that desperately needed to be cooked: Japanese sweet potato, mystery box carrots, kabocha squash, and (the not so perishable) frozen peas. Delish.

First time out on a Friday night (you know, out out)
I met up at a friend's for dinner before we all went to a going away party. *Note: I also had my first Morningstar Farm Chipotle Black Bean Burger and I LOVED IT.
I think I just love all bean-y foods. It was nice and spicy, filling and had a great texture. Definitely recommend it.

The going away party was at a very interesting (to say the least) bar called Kozy Kar on Polk Street. I say interesting because there are booths/seating areas set up like the back of a van and the floor is lined with naked photos. It's kinda like the bar fell out of a scene in Boogie Nights. Very random.
Anyway, it was a wallet-friendly bar from what my receipts tell me and cans of PBR were all over the place. I don't think I've ever seen so much PBR before!

So that was my pre-race week week of firsts. This week I'm taking it easy, getting lots of rest and taking a preemptive strike against germs. Yeah, my office is full of sickies right now and with my luck, I'll catch something this week. Ech. Oh, hey Airborne, NyQuil and three best friends.

Kitchen Cabinet Curry
3/4 to 1 lb stew beef
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 kabocha squash, chopped
1 japanese sweet potato, chopped
1 3.5 oz package S&B Golden Curry Sauce Mix, medium hot
1 1/2 tbsp oil
2 c water
3/4 c chicken broth
1/2 c frozen peas, defrosted
2 bay leaves

Sprinkle flour, salt and pepper over beef to coat. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a 3 quart pot and add beef. Brown beef and scoop pieces onto a plate, leaving oil and brown bits in the pot. Add 1/2 tbsp oil and saute onions for 1 minute. Add squash and sweet potato and cook for 3 minutes.
Pour in 1/2 c water and cover for 5 - 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once root vegetables start to soften, pour in the remaining liquid and bring to a boil.

One by one, stir in the sauce mix blocks until they are fully incorporated.
Add bay leaves and peas, simmer for at least 20 minutes.
Serve over rice. YUM!!