Mind Over Matter

Today I learned that, barring injury and illness, I will finish the Philadelphia Marathon.

To start out, I awoke to my phone ringing at 9:00am.

I’m supposed to be at work at 8:00am. Yeah, not good. I have no idea what happened – I guess I turned off my alarm, or never set it at all. So I raced around to get ready (skipped breakfast), biked to work (which I wasn’t going to do because of my planned 9 miles this evening), and walked in at 9:36 out of sorts and mortified.

The day never really improved from there – I never really mentally woke up, and I had to survive on food from the cafe upstairs (which meant I ate a bagel sandwich with bacon, a scone, and a chocolate croissant. Not so fantastic).

By the time I got home, the last thing I wanted to do was go out and run 9 miles (I’m going away this weekend, and didn’t want to have to worry about my long run, or miss time with family because of it).

I sat at my computer, watching the time tick by. I texted my brother to try to get some motivation, but all he had to say was “Don’t go – it’s going to rain” (really helpful, right?) I had also decided that Trader Joe’s “Chocolatey Cats” cookies were the perfect running fuel (to be fair, it’s absolutely “that time of the month”).

Finally, I got dressed, sat around some more, and then resentfully headed out the door. I re-planned in my mind, and told myself that I would only do 7 of my planned 9 miles.

I started out,  ran a couple of feet, and was immediately hit with horrible side cramps.

The cramps and the overall crappy feeling lasted until around mile 3 or 4, during which time I decided to just do a different, 6-mile loop. The whole time, I was just telling myself that all I had to do was do the one loop I decided on, and then I could go home and know at least I had gotten out and “ran”.  My mind wandered a little bit, and all of a sudden, I noticed that my stride wasn’t labored anymore. Actually, it was quite free – I seriously almost felt like I was floating. Riding this more than welcome Runner’s High, I reevaluated my route in my mind, and decided to go in a direction that I figured would take me 7 or 8 miles.

The rest of the run was as good a run as I’ve had recently – there were some decent hills which were as difficult as they ever were, my big toes started really hurting when I had just a few turns/streets left to go, but I kept on.

When I reached my apartment complex, where I usually stop, I stopped my Garmin, looked down, and couldn’t believe it.

I ran exactly 9 miles.

And not only did I run those 9 miles, but I ran them in 1:26 (exactly!), which put me at a 9:33 min/mile pace. Not going to win any records, but that’s a pretty decent pace for me in any long run.

I am so proud of myself. I was honestly thisclose to not going out at all, to just giving up and letting my overall bad day and apathetic mood win.

And now, I couldn’t be happier. Not only did I go out and run, but I went out, accomplished my goal, and rocked it in the process. Based on how mental running a marathon seems to be, how mental even going out and doing long runs is, I’m pretty confident in my ability to overcome that aspect of it. I know I have a long way to go, but now I know that there is a part of me that can and will rise to the occasion.

Philly, here I come.



August 6, 2010 at 8:52 pm 1 comment

Following Foodie – The Christmas Special

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season! I’m home in Philly, but I started off my celebration of Christmas with a little trip down to Cincinnati. My family and I used to spend Christmas in Cincinnati all the time, but we haven’t been there in December for at least 6? 7? years.

I started off my holiday weekend on Saturday night with a new Cincinnati tradition – Downtown Dazzle, aka Santa repelling down a building in Fountain Square.

You might remember Fountain Square from it’s appearance in my Oktoberfest post. This time, though, the Square was decked out for the holiday season

The tradition of Santa repelling has been taking place for about 5 years, and it was actually my uncle’s idea to start it! He’s an event planner in Cincinnati, and he thought it would be a great Cincinnati holiday tradition.

After watching the Cincinnati Boys’ Choir,

admiring the Christmas tree,

seeing Santa, an elf, and Rudolph scale down a building,

and watching some fireworks

my aunt, uncle, cousin, and other uncle went in search of food. After a few misses (downtown Cinci was pretty busy, what with all the spectators also looking for a good meal), we ended up at Nicholson’s Tavern and Pub, a “Scottish” pub-type restaurant.

I was immediately drawn to their impressive draught beer selection, and had no problem finding one of my favorites, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout.

We didn’t have to wait too long for a table, and after everyone ordered a drink, we were served nice hot bread

I really wasn’t in the mood for heavy pub food, and was excited to see a few interesting salads and sandwiches on the menu as well. After much internal debate (should I get traditional pub food, as I was in a pub?), I decided on the Grilled Ahi sandwich, with a side of steak fries.

It was delicious! I love ginger, and there was a definite gingery kick to this sandwich. I also appreciated the portion of fries – just enough.

However, the star of the meal was the real reason we came there in the first place – the Sticky Toffee Pudding. Before the dessert was brought out, some sugared spoons were brought to the table

And then, the dessert itself:

Yum! We split it between three people, and there was still some left over! It was so rich, but really delicious, too :D

Other highlights from my trip to Cinci included a trip to my Uncle’s in Northern Kentucky for his holiday open house. I can’t believe it, but I forgot my camera! Which is horrible, because other than the food (which included baked brie, amazing guacamole, little ham sandwiches, and chili dip), my uncle’s house is something to marvel at. For one thing, he has 7 Christmas trees. He also collects Peanuts memorabilia (specifically Snoopy stuff), and 4 of the 7 trees are Peanuts themed. Instead of looking tacky, though, it’s just really, really cool.

On Wednesday, I finally got to come home to Philadelphia, and was greeted with my family’s Christmas tree,

Christmas decorations

and the remains of the blizzard of ‘09.

In comparison, here’s what we received, in Michigan (where it’s supposed to be nice and snowy).

Christmas Eve Day started for me with a chilly and icy 4-mile run. It felt wonderful, though, and set a nice precedent for the day, as did my unpictured bowl of yogurt.

The rest of the day was spent shopping (I just needed a few more things!), baking (more on that later :) and hanging out with my family.

Before church (our parish’s version of “Midnight Mass” takes place at 10:30), we had a Christmas Eve meal of stuffed shells, bread-machine bread and salad. I made the salad, a replica of my asparagus-pomegranate-chickpea salad I made before.

Not a huge fan of stuffed shells, I had some salad and bread.

Following food, we took some Christmas photos.

After church we swapped our Pollyanna gifts, a tradition we’ve had since we stopped going to Cincinnati, I think. Instead of everyone buying gifts for each other, we each draw a name. I was so excited for my gift – I drew my Phillies-loving brother, and actually bought for him the picture that I used for that post, as well as baseball-related book.

Christmas morning, we awoke to presents under the tree!

I love Christmas so much. And although I do love opening presents, as I get older, it’s becoming more fun for me to watch others open their presents, and to enjoy time with my family and their craziness.

I got some pretty cool stuff

but it was really more fun to watch everyone else open their gifts.

The rest of today has been spent doing exactly what I think you should do on Christmas – sitting around, napping, and eating. I had a fairly tame breakfast and lunch,

but have definitely supplemented it with some (previously promised) Christmas cookies.

Yum. Now, maybe I’ll go for a run. Or perhaps sit around and watch The Nightmare Before Christmas

December 25, 2009 at 5:20 pm Leave a comment

Freezer Finds

I’ve heard the phrase “bottomless pit of a freezer” many times before, but it’s never before really applied to me. Possibly because for the last few years I’ve shared a freezer, and this year it’s all mine, to stuff with whatever I feel fit (if my brother ever ate here, I would be more than happy to share space, but, that’s not the case, so…). And stuff it I have

This is what happens when you are too lazy to organize steal bread from work work at a bakery that lets you have whatever you want. It’s not like I can even do anything with it! All the bread that’s in there is awkwardly shaped, so it doesn’t just “sit” nicely. Maybe I will clean it out before I go home, though, and foist some off on my family.

However, after seeing TJs Chili Lime Chicken all over Jenna’s blog (and after doing Christmas shopping all morning left me uncreative and unwilling to actually "make” anything), I recalled that I had seen some in my freezer a long time ago.

Guess what I learned while searching for them? Frozen bread HURTS when it lands on your toe :(

I was successful, though! And thus I had lunch:

I had no idea what I wanted for dinner when I came home from work. I started first with some leftover spaghetti squash and Near East Rice, but I knew that the lack of protein wouldn’t satisfy me, so I once again braved the freezer to find some frozen Apple Chardonnay Chicken Sausages. No toes were harmed this time, but it’s possible that my freezer door is still not completely closed…(I’d check, but I’m too cold).

My reasonably healthy dinner was completely destroyed by both multiple handfuls of Muddy Buddies (that I made for my BROTHER. Too bad he’s NEVER HOME TO EAT THEM, so I do…), and me trying to eat my way through a bag of GH Granola…whoops :)

I should go to bed. I have 6:00am wakeup, and an 8 hour work day tomorrow…(I know, I know, wait ‘til I actually get a job and this is the norm, but in my defense, my 8 hour day will most definitely involve being on my feet the entire time, lifting heavy things, and general running around…Rough life, I know.)

December 16, 2009 at 10:28 pm Leave a comment

Happiness Is…

Remember when I mentioned my ultimate comfort food? Well, after an extremely frustrating day at work, it was all I wanted for dinner…

It couldn’t be easier to make, and it’s not even a real “recipe” – just some stuff thrown into pasta, that isn’t really healthy at all.

It originated when I was living in Germany – as we often did, a couple friends and I got together to make dinner. Our random grabbing of things off the supermarket shelf produced pasta, pesto, pancetta, and parmesan (in German it’s not all “p”s…;) Made in my friend’s kitchen, I think we each ate a dinner plate full of pasta (I swore I had pictures somewhere, but alas).

I don’t know why it’s become such a comfort for me – maybe because the people I ate with are still some of my best friends, and eating with them was always so fun and, yes, comforting.

Tonight, I made it with whole wheat pasta and Canadian bacon.

I crisped up the “bacon”

cooked the pasta

added the pasta and the pesto to the bacon

and added the cheese.

Eaten with leftover green beans, and it was a delicious, and yes, comforting, meal.

To top off my comforting meal? Muddy Buddies, hot chocolate, and Charlie Brown… :D (Cross another off my list!

December 15, 2009 at 9:27 pm Leave a comment


Or, Christmas “cookies” part 3

It’s funny – when I actually think about it, many of the cookies that my family usually makes for Christmas aren’t that at all! We have bars (Keebler Bars, Hello Dollys), savory snacks (oyster crackers, Chex Mix), sweet snacks (Pretzel “Cookies”, Muddy Buddies, Wreaths), and finally, actual cookies (Anise, Pfeffernüsse, Springerle, Sugar, Chocolate Crinkles). Yup, my family goes Christmas “cookie” crazy.

I made another “cookie” today – Chex Muddy Buddies (which I will never make in the microwave, thanks though…). My brother mentioned them after I made the oyster crackers, and I figured it would be a nice snack for him to have while studying for finals (aren’t I a great sister?). Of course, they’re also a great snack for me…I stole little handfuls all day yesterday – hopefully the fact that they’re in containers now will dissuade me a little

It’s funny – that seems like such a small amount of Muddy Buddies to me! Trufax – when I make it at home, I double the recipe (18 cups of Chex!), and make it probably 3 times throughout the holiday season. My family loves Muddy Buddies.

I *did*, however, use PB&Co Creamy Peanut Butter instead of Jif or Skippy, and they seemed to have suffered little from the switch. 

I did eat real food yesterday, too, in the form of waffles

leftover pizza

and dinner – Garlic Tahini Green Beans and Near East Garlic and Pecan Grains.

The beans couldn’t have been easier, or more delicious! I sautéed the beans in a bit of butter (yes, I admit it), and added a diced garlic clove when they were almost done. I then added probably about a tablespoon of tahini, and let them cook a little longer. After I took them off the heat, I added some toasted pine nuts, and a squirt of lemon juice. Divine!

I was trying to eat “lighter” because of my snacking throughout the day (a few oyster crackers might have been consumed as well…), but my good intentions were thwarted when I stopped over at my friend’s house to drop something off, and she invited me in for a drink and to attend part of her Department Christmas Party. No pictures, but I might have snacked on a few (million) lime-flavored tortilla chips, baked brie, and fudge.

No regrets, though, and after starting my morning with some 30 Day Shred (I’ve been doing this a couple of times a week recently – I want to build a nice strength base before I *really* start marathon training) and a nice bowl of yogurt, I feel much better :)

Now if I only didn’t have to work today…

December 15, 2009 at 10:56 am 3 comments

Cornmeal Fail

Today I made actual Christmas cookies (as opposed to “fake” ones), in the form of Double Chocolate Pillows, as rec’ed by Bobbi. To make them Christmassy, I crushed up candy canes in all of them, and topped half the batch with crushed candy canes as well.

They’re quite good! (Yes, I tested one two :) The peppermint flavor isn’t as strong as I would have liked in the ones without candy canes on top, but I didn’t have peppermint extract to use.

I have very little counter space, so I tend to go all over when I make cookies, or anything, really.

I was really excited for dinner, but it didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked :( I had some Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Pizza Dough in my fridge, so I thawed it out all day, to make some pizza for tonight. I dusted the pan with cornmeal (very important to note), rolled out the dough, and topped it with pesto, sautéed mushrooms, sliced Canadian bacon, sliced shallots, chopped green pepper, parmesan and gruyere cheese (yup, it was a “clean out the fridge” sort of pizza). I made two, because the dough seemed a little “iffy”, and I didn’t think it would stand being refrozen. They looked so pretty coming out of the oven!

But obviously I didn’t use enough cornmeal, as the pizzas were COMPLETELY stuck to the pan.

I did manage to get the other pizza pretty much up, with a lot of work and knife “skills”.

Sadly, it didn’t taste all that great, either. The crust was really dry, and there wasn’t a ton of flavor in the toppings either. I still ate my share, but it certainly didn’t live up to expectations.

Luckily, I made my favorite green beans to eat alongside, which were much more satisfying.

Now, I’m watching Jingle All the Way. I have a set list of Christmas movies that I “need” to watch during the holidays, and this is one of them. It’s definitely a family favorite, but I guess I’ll have to be okay with watching it alone this year.

My List of Favorite Christmas Movies:

  • A Muppet Christmas Carol – watched! on the drive home for Thanksgiving
  • The Snowman – I own the DVD, so I’ll watch it shortly
  • Timmy’s Gift – a Precious Moments movie that I only have on VHS at home
  • Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer – watched! last night :)
  • Jingle All the Way – watching now ;)
  • Joyeux Noel – a German/French/English film that everyone MUST watch (it’s about said companies on Christmas Eve during WWI – I cry every time!), I own the DVD, and will watch it soon
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas – my mom and I will watch it at home
  • The Santa Clause – watched most of

Elf and Love Actually get honorable mentions, and I do like watching Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Story, but I can live without watching them…The others are non-negotiable. It’s just not the holiday season without them! What Christmas (or holiday) movies do you love to watch?

December 13, 2009 at 9:17 pm 1 comment

“Running” Errands

Today is quite drippy and dreary. It’s just above freezing, so the little bit of snow and ice we had accumulated is melting and turning into a lovely slush.

I was supposed to do a longer run with my running buddy today, but she cancelled on me last minute, due to how icy and yucky it is outside. Instead of being disappointed and blowing off running altogether, I decided to go on a slightly shorter run (about 4 miles), and deposit some money at the same time (as I had a route mapped out that runs right by my bank).

The run was actually really really nice! It’s amazing what a couple of degrees, and lack of wind, does – I actually felt quite warm the entire time. It was icy, but I actually kind of enjoyed that, as it forced me to slow down a bit, and really concentrate on the run, and really just relax a little. I ran a pace of about 10 min/mile, which I would normally be a bit disappointed with for a run of that distance, but I’d much rather run slowly, and not slip and fall (which has become my biggest fear).

After running, and inspired by Tina’s Starbucks breakfast, I decided to make myself a breakfast sandwich. I used an Arnold’s Sandwich Thin as the base, gruyere for my cheese, egg whites mixed with shallots, green pepper and a mix of greens, and a slice of Canadian bacon.

I picked some up at the store the other day, and I’m really liking it! I used it in place of pancetta in my ultimate comfort food (which I was sure I did a post on, but I will have to later – here’s a picture for now), and it worked perfectly.

I made a sort of messy omelet out of my eggs,

and then sort of mashed it all together to be able to pile it on the sandwich.

I ate it with some ketchup

and some apples.

On the plate for the rest of the day, I have no idea! I was going to go shopping, but I think I’ll wait ‘til tomorrow. Due to the weather, and the fact that it’s a Sunday not far before Christmas, I can imagine only hellish results. So, I don’t know. We shall see :)

December 13, 2009 at 2:06 pm 1 comment

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