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2011 Celtic Solstice

18 Dec

Going in, I figured we’d file this one under “don’t try this at home.”

The bar Christmas party went until 2 on Friday night, and by the time I drove home, it was well after 2:30.  The race was in 6 hours, and I needed to be up by 7 in order to be at the start on time.

When the alarm went off, it propelled me out of bed to the point where I was on autopilot.  I couldn’t find my shoes, my Garmin, my iPod, or my workout clothes. All of these were exactly where I’d left them on Friday night, but for some reason, my brain just wasn’t seeing the obvious. All the while, the cats were screaming for breakfast.

Eventually, I got my stuff together and plodded over to the park for the start.  Coffee awaited, and it was a welcome addition to the morning.  I don’t like to eat before races, but this time I made an exception because a) it was the nectar of the gods, and b) it was warm.  Warm was important…it was 32 degrees at the start.

With all that behind me, I wasn’t expecting a good race.  I hadn’t really run more than a mile since the marathon, and this was five of them in a row.  Plus a friend of mine recently had his worst half-marathon time.  I didn’t know if that was contagious or anything, but since he actually trained, and I hadn’t, I had to think it wasn’t a good thing.

And then, I blew the damn thing out of the water.  I finished the first mile in around 11:15, and the times just kept getting better and better. When I came over the finish line at just under 55 minutes, it was officially my best 5 mile time ever.

No, I don’t know where it came from.  Yes, I’m paying the price this morning.  Still, I love how my body went on autopilot and cooperated the way I needed it to.  I don’t think I’ll be running under these conditions again, but it’s nice to know that I don’t have to shy away from events the night before races.

36th Marine Corps Marathon

22 Nov

I came.  I saw.  I didn’t beat Oprah.

I wasn’t ready for my second marathon.  Not by a long shot.  A summer of oppressive heat and one work disaster after another had cut into my training schedule to the point where I’d only managed one 18-miler, and a near 20-miler.

(Okay, there was opportunity for a second 20-miler, but when a bird poos on your shoulder a mile into the run, you just know it’s not going to be your day.)

Needless to say, I was already nervous going into the weekend. More than once, I’d considered deferring until 2012, but something kept telling me not to.  No, I was going to start the race.  If I was plucked of the course by a Marine, so be it.  But there was no way, no how, I was ever going to see a DNS in the Filz history of athletic results.

Then, Saturday, the weather rolled in.  Once again, I considered deferring.  I mean, who in their right mind would want to run a marathon while the first measurable snow DC has seen in over 30 years is on the ground?  By then, though,  I was in line to pick up my number.  If I was going to make the call, I was going to have to do it in a matter of seconds.

I didn’t do it.  I went to the expo, bought another layer of clothes, and told myself that I still wasn’t going to get a DNS.

Arriving at the start line at 6, I wrapped myself in my car’s emergency blanket and waited two hours for the official kick off.  I decided to join up with the 5:30 Clif pace group, figuring if I just stuck with them until The Bridge, I could be comfortable in the knowledge that I was at least going to be allowed to finish the race.

I stuck with them almost the whole way.  In fact, I did better than the actual pacer.  He was forced to withdraw thanks to an unfortunate stomach issue that’s best left undiscussed.

The tour of DC, though, was magnificent.  With the exception of The White House, we passed all the major landmarks, us locals pointing out the sights to the folks who hadn’t been to DC in quite awhile, or well, ever.

It was fun, it was casual, it was relaxing. I stopped worrying about the time and just decided to enjoy the nice day in DC.  And, yes, it was gorgeous despite the snowstorm the day before.

I don’t know if I’ll do MCM again, honestly. I’ve conquered the city twice, and I’m a little tired of giving up Halloween weekend to do it.  But I’m not done with marathons, not by a long shot.

General Tso’s Chicken

27 Jun

Despite the drama of the weekend, I also found the time to put together the Slow Cooker General Tso’s Chicken from the Crockpot 365 blog.  Perfect for race day, I threw everything together in less than 10 minutes on Saturday before leaving for the race.  By the time I got back from my post-race WW trip, I only had an hour to wait to add the last little bit.  Another hour after that, it was done.

And it was delicious.

There are definitely a few differences between this one and a General Tso’s from the Chinese takeaway.  For starters, like the Crockpot Lady said, the chicken isn’t battered and double-fried.  Personally, I think that’s a good thing.   The second is that it’s not quite as spicy.  I think next time, I’ll add a few more red pepper flakes and see where that takes me.

All in all, with it being so quick and easy, and only 4 points per serving, this one’s definitely a keeper.

 

“Dreaded” Druid Hill? Pshaw.

25 Jun

This morning, I finished the Dreaded Druid Hills 10K in 1:09.

A decent time to be sure, but that wasn’t the real victory. See, when I first started running a few years ago, I couldn’t seem to master hills. I’d be on the road — making a decent pace — then I’d run into a hill and it would all go to hell in a handbasket. I’d slow down and walk and then never quite get the momentum up again when I started heading down. I’d speed up a little, but all in all, with each hill, my race time would slip away.
Nemo and Dory
I went into this morning with kind of the same mentality. Then, something started to change. I don’t know what happened, but it was like I suddenly turned into Nemo. You know, that little clownfish from the Disney movie? As I approached a hill, I’d mentally chant “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.” And then, I did. I may have slipped the pace a little, but I just kept RUNNING. Even on the hill from hell that we have to do twice.

I feel so empowered now. And downright sexy. Awesome start to the weekend.

How do you f#$k up a college staple?

13 Jan

It’s been an insane week so far, and we’re still not over it yet.  Last night, I almost called the sushi guy, but I stood firm and then made what had to have been the biggest disaster to date.

But first, let’s go back to Saturday….

  • Saturday was my first “meal” out since starting this little adventure.  It was an event, so it counted in the “rules. ”  My friend and I split a wine and cheese plate (which is why it’s a “meal,” not a meal).  Good times, but when I got home, I realized that before starting this project, I probably would have polished off that cheese plate myself.  I have to wonder, then, if stunts like that are what’s been holding me back in the WW arena?  Must explore further….
  • Sunday, sis cooked.  This is the second time she’s done it (two Sundays), and I have to say I like this pattern.  She destroyed the kitchen with the Chicken Pizza recipe from the new Hungry Girl show (don’t ask for it, I don’t think I was paying attention), but it’s starting to come back to normal.
  • Monday was the Shrimp and Grits.  Another one from the Cook This, Not That book, I only altered the recipe by making 3/4 c of grits instead of the 1/2 c.  Delicious, especially the next day when the broth had a chance to seep into the grits themselves.
  • Tuesday was Buffalo Chicken Dip. Not fancy, but a good comfort food when its supposed to be snowing outside.

Which leads us to last night.

Last night I just wasn’t in the mood to cook anything.  One of those house-full-of-food-and-I-have-nothing-to-eat kind of things.  I didn’t want to devote the time to actually putting together a full meal, but I also had had a long day and my brain was kind of done.  I was thirty seconds away from calling for sushi when I saw it: cream of broccoli soup, a can of peas, and some rice.

When I was in college, this was a typical finals-week meal for me.  One of those things that magically came together because I was either too poor to order or too not in the mood to make a decision about anything — especially pizza toppings.  A couple of cans, a thing of milk, and twenty minutes, and dinner was on the table.

So, I commenced to screwing it up royally.  First thing’s first.  It wasn’t broccoli soup in college it was Cream of Mushroom.  This, I learned last night, is extremely important flavor-wise.  Next, I forgot that the whole point of this is to cook the rice IN the soup mix.  Thankfully, another recipe I’m doing tonight (and NOT screwing up) needs brown rice.  Lastly, measurements are key.  The rice never quite soaked up all of the liquid, so I basically found myself eating broccoli soup with rice and peas.  Gross.

I’m pretty sure my college days are over for a reason.  Next!

I’m a big loser

8 Jan

At least according to the lady at Weight Watchers….

My first weigh in after I started this little project tells me I’m definitely on to something.

There’s just 4.6 less pounds of me that’s on whatever it is!!!

Squee. :)

It’s official

6 Jan

Cook This, Not That has replaced Stephen King’s The Shining as the scariest book of all time.

No, it’s not the fact that I have to actually cook these meals (trust me, I’m looking forward to the shrimp and grits), but more the fact that I have, from time to time, eaten the comparison meals as what I think is a healthy option.

And trust me, I’ve now learned that fish is NOT a healthy option at a restaurant.

I’m trying to swear off buying new cookbooks until I’ve put the ones I have to good use.  Still, 10 minutes after checking CTNT out of the library, I have a feeling it’ll be coming home to stay eventually.  So far, I’ve abandoned tonight’s Thai Rice and Pineapple plan for the Shrimp Fra Diavolo.  Delicious (sorry, again no picture…we kind of fell on it right after it was done cooking), hot, and shrimpilicious.

And just like the world of Forrest Gump, the Thai Rice will keep for another day.

Since the recipe isn’t readily available online anywhere (at least where I can see), I can’t really print it here.  But I can tell you the adjustments and you can make ‘em yourself if you wish.

  • I used fire roasted tomatoes.  The recipe calls for a cup of tomatoes, and a 1/2 cup of white wine.  Since I ran out of wine at a quarter-cup, I decided to make up for it with another 1/4 cup of tomatoes since they were on hand.  Sis said it was a little spicy because of it; I told her to get over it.
  • Instead of regular pasta, I used whole-wheat.  It cuts the calories a little bit.
  • I skipped the garlic.  No real reason, I was distracted by the cat stealing shrimp from the bowl and chasing after her.  I don’t know if it really made a difference, though.

All in all, a tremendous success.  I’m definitely looking forward to lunch tomorrow.

New Year’s

2 Jan

It’s the second day of the New Year, and so far things are going well.  In year’s past, yesterday’s hangover (a direct result of Friday night’s Toga party) would have been handled with a call to the takeout place for cheese fries. Delicious, cheesy, what-could-I-possibly-be-thinking cheese fries.

Not this year. Oh, there were cheese fries to be sure, but this year, I decided to make them at home. It only took 20 minutes to put them together, and most importantly I knew the WW points value of everything going in my mouth. Let’s just say it’s much, much better than the standard 30+ for a takeout order.

  • 15 frozen steak fries
  • 2 tbs fat free ranch salad dressing
  • 2 tbs fat free shredded cheddar cheese
  1. BAKE the fries according to the package directions.
  2. Top with cheese and microwave until the cheese melts
  3. Pour on the ranch dressing.

See, so easy even a Delta House survivor could do it.  Did they turn out just like the carryout?  No.  But my stomach still appreciated the effort.

I was also thinking about “the rules” of this little project.  When I started, I thought it was just the takeout deliveries I was going to stop. But yesterday, I found myself considering driving to the takeout place to pick them up so that it wouldn’t count against me. Even though I had everything in the house, I just didn’t feel like putting them together myself.

And that, I realized, is the problem.  It’s not the takeout guy; it’s the fact that I can usually talk myself into any excuse not to cook.  From breakfast to dinner,  I can find a reason (time, convenience, don’t know what I’m doing) to not pick up my pots and pans.

So, I’m modifying the rules.  Instead of counting the days from takeout deliveries, I’m counting all dinners out that are dinners out because I don’t want to cook.  Dates and “occasion” dinners (birthday, etc) are still permitted, as are exceptions when I travel. But if I’m in Baltimore and the only reason I’m going out is because I don’t feel like cooking or it’s “easy,” that won’t fly.  I can recreate those restaurant meals at home or die trying.

Let’s hope I don’t die trying. :)

Day 1: Greek Lamb and Orzo

30 Dec

I have a couple of life-rules that have served me well over the years.

  1. Never root for the New York Yankees
  2. Never start a diet on a Monday
  3. Never start your New Years Resolutions on January 1

#1 is pretty self-explanatory for a Baltimore girl, but #2 and 3 are the result of tried science.  When a new project is started on a Monday or on the first of the year, it’s almost guaranteed to fail within days.  Start it on an off day, and the results are much better.

So, I thought I’d get started this morning.

I decided to start out relatively easy with Betty Crocker’s Greek Lamb and Orzo, and headed downstairs to check the pasta supply.  That’s when things went horribly, horribly wrong.  I’m still traumatized by the details, so I can only say that I’m glad I was wearing my glasses when the entire box of spaghetti decided to empty its contents at my face.  I grabbed the box, determined to save at least some of the spaghetti that hadn’t fallen out, and tipped the box up.  Good plan, right? Well, it would have been if I hadn’t also been holding a box of orzo that then opened up and spilled a good portion of its contents all over the floor.

After cleanup and a trip to Wegmans for supplies, I was finally ready to get started. The recipe — billed as a quick 20 minute endeavor — was pretty spot on as far as prep time goes.  To be sure, all it was was opening two cans of tomatoes, cutting up some celery (I used two stalks, not one), and making sure the lamb cooked before adding everything.  Another five minutes or so, though, would have been better.

All in all, I think it turned out pretty well.  I did forget to drain the lamb, so it was a tad greasier than I anticipated.  Also, I turned the orzo up to boil and then was distracted by a shiny object. The result: I kind of forgot to turn it down. It was a little burned on the bottom, but not too bad.

Paired with an amazing Virginia Meritage, I’ll definitely take another pass at this again.

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