Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Run 2014: Huff 50K

We did it, we did it, we did it!!!! I can hardly believe that after months and months of training and running and generally working our asses off we finally ran the Huff 50K!! And it went well! Really super well! We finished in 6:55:55.19 which is just under my dream goal of 7 hours. The goal that I never really thought was even possible. But we did it. I still can't really believe it even though it's been three days. Don't mistake me, it was hard. The hardest thing that I've ever done. But it was sooooo worth all the work and pain to be able to say that I am an Ultramarathoner

Before the race!

On the whole, the race went really well. Much better than expected. We had great weather on race day. It was about 28F at the start of the race and 32F by the end and both dry and still for the whole day. A thin layer of clouds kept it from getting too hot or bright. The race started a little late and it was 8:28 when I pushed start on my phone. I started the race feeling really good so we decided to just go with the flow and see what I could do. And the first loop of 15.6 miles went fast. I felt great and had no problem maintaining a faster pace than I have in a long time. My pace fluctuated between 10-11 minute miles with my fastest mile coming in at a 9:52! We finished the first loop in about 2 hours 57 minutes with an average pace of about 10:57. It was a really fun loop! We ran with one man from about miles 5-8 who regaled us with stories of his running experiences and general chit chat. And then from miles 13-15 we ran with a 17 year old high school kid named Joel. He was pretty shy and quiet and kept pace with us well. We got separated at the end of the first loop when he ducked into the tent to grab some food. My main challenge this loop was that the mouth piece of my pack froze and I wasn't able to drink from it. I drank some from Justin's pack and got cups of water and gatorade at each of the four aid stations.

The second loop started out pretty well and gradually slowed down which was about what I expected. Justin managed to get my mouth piece open at the start which was wonderful. Having more reliable access to water was really helpful. In general, the second loop was much more difficult than the first loop. Because really, the first loop felt easy and comfortable. It was only 15.6 miles. But the second loop was miles 15.6 thru 31.2. And that's a much harder set of miles. My legs were quite tired by the end, of course, but my biggest problem was that my back hurt quite badly. I'm not really sure what the cause was. I hadn't had that problem during any of the training runs so I was rather surprised to have it be such a problem. Around mile 22 I asked Justin if he could think of anything to talk about because I knew that having a conversation would help me focus on something other than my back. I'd been trying to come up with a topic for a couple of miles of that point and just wasn't able to come up with anything. Justin started talking about animals and we spent the next several miles jumping from one type of wild animals. That held me until mile 27 when my back started to get to me. My back felt completely fine when I was walking so it was hard to push through and run as much as my legs felt like they could have. Walking made my legs tighten up though and then it was harder to run. The last five miles went much like that. Walk some and then run for as long as I could stand and then drop back down to a walk. It was painful and frustrating and I just about started to cry several times. But Justin stuck with me the whole time despite me urging him to go ahead. He could have finished much faster if he had left me and picked up the pace a little. But he wouldn't go and we finished the race just like we ran it; side by side.

Tired but happy ultramarathoners!

And then after the race there was a heated tent, dry clothes, lots of warm soup and hot chocolate, and a new friend named Matt (he finished 17th!) who shared conversation, advice, and a bottle of marshmallow vodka with us. All in all, it was a pretty darn good day!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Run 2014: Pre Huff 50K Thoughts

Okay, guys. This is it. The Huff is tomorrow. I'm not exactly sure how it's possible for it to already be the middle of December but it is. And it's crazy. It seriously feels like spring wasn't that long ago. And like we were just deciding to run the Huff and settling on training plans. But it's actually been 9 months and here we are. The Huff is tomorrow.

And I am definitely nervous. Which is stupid. We've been training for this for months and just two weeks ago we ran 28 miles. A 50K is only 31 miles. It's totally, totally, doable. But mentally is feels so extremely different than a simple training run. If I crap out of a training run it's no big deal. No one is expecting anything of me and no one is disappointed. But this is serious. We've invested money, energy, and an obscene amount of time into this craziness. And if I crap out of this race then it's all just been a waste. So yeah. It feels like a big deal.

But. I really do feel confidant that I can do this race. I know that I've run 28 miles. And I didn't die. I didn't even feel close to dieing. And even when I was finishing that I was thinking 'If I had to run 3 more miles right now I could'. And that was before our taper. I've now had two weeks of light running and my legs feel good. We ran an easy 5 miles last night and it really was easy. I think I can do it. I really only have one goal for tomorrow and that is to finish the Huff 50K and get that darned belt buckle. My very, very ambitious second goal is to finish in 7 hours. I'm not sure if that's doable or not. I'm kind of leaning toward not possible. But if I did that would be fantastic. So yeah.

To discuss practical things, we're planning on carrying our packs, electrolytes, and a limited amount of food. There will be food at the aid stations but having run many times on our own we have certain things that we know that we like. So we'll be carrying ham and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We'll also both have a collections of sport chews, beans, and gels. I haven't exactly decided what I will carry. Probably more than I need just because I can.

I think I also have a pretty good handle on what I'm going to wear. The answer of course is a million things. But in reality it's supposed to be 26F at the start with an eventual high of 33F, no wind and no chance of precipitation. So it should be a very good day for a run if a little cold for my tastes. But it should be fine. The only thing I'm undecided on is what shoes I will wear. I'm waffling between my Merrel Ascends and my New Balance Minimus Trails. They're quite different shoes and I've been really liking my Ascends. However, I haven't worn them for anything longer than 12 miles. And I'm hesitant to test their mettle on an event like this.

All in all I feel strong. My ankles are both stable when braced and I don't have any pain while running. My only other complaint is that sometimes my shoulders are sore after wearing the pack for hours on end. But that's always minor and feel better in a couple of days. Physically, I feel like I'm as ready as I'll ever be. Which is good because I'm out of time.

In summary: I'm nervous but I think I got this.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Run 2014: Weeks 37 & 38

Week 37:
November 18
     2.03 in 18:48, average 9:15
     Super, super cold run. High of 17 with winds of 20mph and gusts of 30mph. We had planned three miles but turned back after one. My cheeks and fingers were freezing in particular. 

November 20
     7.28 in 1:25:57, average 11:48
     Pretty unremarkable run. There was snow on the ground left over from earlier in the week and it made for interesting trail running. The combination of snow, leaves, and darkness made it much harder to tell where to step. 

November 22
     23.85 in 5:52:00, average 14.45
     Interesting run temperatures were around freezing when we started and near 50F by the time we were finished. It was a very wet run. It rained on us at least four distinct times. They were spaced perfectly so that we'd just be finally getting dry and then it would rain again. Our feet were completely soaked with muddy water by the end from the rain, puddles, and melting snow. 

Week 38:
November 28
     4.88 in 49:13, average 10:05
     Fairly boring run at my parents house. Neighborhood sidewalks with just a dusting of snow.

November 30
     28.57 in 6:45:07, average 14:11
     Good run. Fairly dry with only a few slippery patches. Started the run at 50F and was 60F by the time we finished. No hat, no gloves, and capris. It felt like freedom! We also ran our first marathons in this run as a by product of training. Just a little bit ironic.

These last two weeks of running have been really good actually! We got in our last two long training runs before the Huff and they went well. Don't misunderstand me, I don't mean to say that they were easy. They definitely weren't. I was extremely tired and limping by the end of both of them. But I still consider them a success because I know that I can do this. 28 miles was very long and very sucky and by the last few miles I just about cried every time I had to go down a hill. But even at the end I was still feeling like I could do a couple more miles if I had to. And that's a wonderful feeling.

The last two runs have been a bit rougher in terms of food. We've had the up what we've been carrying and I'm still not sure that I'm getting enough calories. The other downside is the added weight. My shoulders have been sore today because of wearing the pack. For the 28 mile run I carried for myself:

60oz of water (and ran out at mile 27)
pb&j sandwich
ham slices
a baked potato
a snack baggie of cut pineapple
7oz of applesauce
orange Clif Shot Bloks
a package of Jelly Belly Sport Beans
a blackberry GU

I did pretty well on that amount and variety of food. Over the course of the 28 miles we stopped five times for foods/electrolytes and we really should have stopped a 6th time in the middle. Over all though I was pleased with our food choices. It was nice having a variety and every stop I had a different combination of things. That worked really well for me.

Physically, I've been feeling pretty good. My legs feel strong. They get very tired and hurt (sometimes a lot) by the end of runs but that doesn't last more than a day or two. Doing intensive stretching after the runs helps a lot. Especially the hour+ that we do after the long runs. It's amazing how much looser everything is after that. My right ankle is not particularly happy at any point. It makes squatting quite painful. But it does well with the brace and I can run on it. So I'm not too worried.

This week marks three weeks until the Huff 50k and the start of our taper weeks. The plan that we're (loosely) following calls for shorter runs of 13 & 10 the two weekends before the race. I don't know that we'll cut back that much since that plan is for a road marathon and we're running a trail ultra. We have to balance resting with not losing all of our stamina. I'll keep you posted on what we decide to do!

Huff 50k: 3 weeks

Monday, December 1, 2014

december 1

The Rosses know how to do Thanksgiving right!

Happy 17th to these two crazy kids!

Katherine and I. I wish I had gotten a photo with Rebecca too!

Happy December 1st and a belated happy Thanksgiving to you! I didn't intend for there to be radio silence on the blog last week but I found myself completely absorbed in preparations for our long holiday weekend. We had a three day trip to my parents house, three birthdays, two thanksgivings, and one 28(!) mile run all packed into a five day weekend! To say that it was a whirlwind would be an understatement. It was crazy and loud and wonderful and I loved every minute of it!

But today I'm feeling a wee bit tired from all of that and I think that tonight we're planning a quite night, some yummy food, a hot bath, and maybe just a little bit of holiday decorating. Just what I need. Welcome to December!

Friday, November 21, 2014

tweed fingerless gloves

Please tell me that I'm not the only person who is in love with fingerless gloves! I got my first pair before a trip to NYC at Christmastime when I was in high school and it was mind blowing how much easier it was to do things without bulky gloves in the way. That pair has long since disappeared and I've been wanting to replace them for a while. I was looking for a pair that was really cute, warm but not too bulky since I knew I'd be wearing them around the house a lot, and not terribly expensive. As much as I love Etsy, I just wasn't finding what I was looking for.

And then I happened upon some Lionsbrand Heartland yarn on sale at Meijer for $2.50 a skein. It's just a simple acrylic worsted weight yarn but the colors options are fantastic. I picked up a half a dozen skeins in various colors and started hunting Ravelry for patterns that used this brand of yarn. I ended up finding a pattern for crocheted fingerless gloves that looked like a good option. I picked this gorgeous tweed out of my stash and whipped up the first glove. And. just. wasn't really very impressed. It just really didn't look or fit at all like I wanted it to. So I made lots and lots of tweaks and I'm now super happy with what I came up with. I think they're a huge improvement over the original pattern and I've been wearing them pretty much nonstop for the past few days both inside and outside!

I still need to write up all my notes and make them into a real pattern so that I can replicate these again. They're such a perfect fit for my hands that I would hate to forget what I did! But the best part now is that since I only used half of the skein of yarn I have plenty leftover to make something else. Any suggestions for me? What else do you think that I should make with this yarn?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Run 2014: Weeks 35 & 36

Week 35:
November 6
     6.41 in 1:21:59, average 12:47
     First full run in the dark. Low 40s F and sleeting. But fun! Does that make me weird?

November 8
     20.15 in 4:33:19, average 13:34
     A lovely run on the Indiana Trail 100 trail. We did one loop and then added a few miles at the end to make it add up to 20.

Week 36:
November 11
     Nothing for me but honorable mention for Justin. He's got mad skills.
     3.02 in 20:44, average 6:52
 November 13
     7.11 in 1:22:47, average 11:39
     A great run. Dark but dry. Pretty cold but no problems.

November 15
     15.96 in 3:26:34, average 12.57
     Scaled back a little for a rest week. Was cold and breezy. Around 20 when starting out.

After Nov 6th's cold, dark, wet run.

A good two weeks. Long runs have gone well. I'm pleased with our average speeds on the long runs. That average includes our stops. We're currently stopping at the same locations as the aid stations. So around miles 4, 9, & 14. This has been working well for me. I drink water between stops of course but stopping at certain times makes eating much easier for me. I don't eat and run well so this gives me a chance to focus on getting some food into me. Currently our snacks consist of: a full peanut butter and jelly sandwhich, six slices of ham, 7 oz of applesauce, a bag of Jelly Belly Sport Beans, and a package of Clif Shot Bloks. This is spread out over three or four rest stops with any extra being eaten after the run. In the car on the way home we eat leftover pizza and drink Nuun and water. And of course before we leave the house we have a large breakfast (eggs, pancakes, oatmeal, & banana). I know this sounds like a ton of food. But it's definitely not. We frequently have dinner at the usual time and occasionally we eat early despite having lunch between 1-2 pm. Let's just say that it's interesting keep us well fed given how much our training has ramped up in the last few months.

My ankles have been doing alright. I'm wearing a brace on each and that seems to be helping. My left ankle is fine between runs but the right one is sore when it's bent a lot (ie squatting). But it's doing alright. I had a little bit of a sore left knee after Nov 13th's run but by the 15th it was feeling fine and I didn't have any trouble with it. We've been doing about an hour of yoga after each long run. If you're looking for some good videos check out Yoga with Adrian on YouTube. She has several videos that work well for getting a thorough stretch in after a run. I'd start with the Yoga for Beginners video. It's one of my favourites.

We only have 5 weeks/4 long runs before the Huff 50K! Our plan at the moment is to do two more mileage increasing runs and then two taper weeks. We're really about there. We're both going to be breaking in new gore-tex shoes so that we have some backups in case it's pouring. Although if it's another year like 2011 (the year we volunteered at) we'll be screwed either way!

Here's hoping for dry weather!

Huff: 5 weeks

Monday, November 17, 2014

surprise snow!

First snow of the year!

See the snowflakes?

Late last night.

Early this morning.

Mid morning.

It's here, you guys! The first real snow of the year! I love snow so I was practically giddy when it started up yesterday afternoon. There was no snow in the forecast so it was a surprise when the flakes started falling! Oddly enough we were working on the snowblower and generator at the time. Of course we didn't get near enough snow to actually need either of them but we're feeling well prepared for our early winter!

Winter 2014/2015 is off with a bang! We normally don't have snow that sticks until mid December or later. It'll be fun to see how this winter is. I'd be happy with lots of snow all the way through February. That's not a popular opinion around here so I'm certainly the odd one out!

I hope your week is off to a great start. Mine definitely is!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Run 2014: Week 34

Week 34:
October 28
     Track run of some sort. I don't remember precisely what it was supposed to be. I wasn't feeling well and didn't finish all my laps.

October 30
     7.91 in 1:37:49, average 12.22
     Another good trail run on the local mountain bike trailers. The same place we've done our last few Thursday runs. We're planning on doing all our Thursday runs here until the Huff at least.

November 2
     16.8 in 3:48:32, average 13.36
      Another good run on the Indiana Trail 100 trail. We added a section that we had skipped this time and ended up at almost seventeen miles. It was cool, sunny, and still.

Things went pretty well this week. Tuesday and Thursday were unremarkable runs. Good enough but nothing really happened. There are a couple things of note from Saturday's run. One, I bought and wore a second ankle brace. This helped a lot although I still had some soreness in my right ankle. But it felt much much better during and after this run compared with the last few runs.

Two, we spaced all our chews so that we stop and rest/eat in the locations where the aid stations will be. This worked decently. There are effectively four aid stations per loop but one of them is a mile before the start. So for our training runs we've been skipping the last station and just eating more at the end. I think having less stops will work out okay. I'm making sure to eat plenty at each stop to make up for things being less often. I also did a good job getting water into me. I'm not always fantastic at that so it was nice to feel like I was doing a better job.

And three, we've started experimenting with eating real food during our runs and I really think it's helping. Last week we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We spent a bunch of time talking about it while we were running (and hungry) and come up with several other things to try; spice cookies, Reese's Peanut Butter cups, cold plain lunch meats, and applesauce.  I feel like there were more but that's what we can think of at the moment. Anyway, the sandwiches settled well for both of us. We ate half at mile 9 and the other half at mile 14. So I imagine those will become a regular in our rotation.

As a whole, though, it was a pretty good week. No major aches or pains. And the compression sleeves are continuing to work wonders on the day after. My very own miracle every week! Seriously though, they are so worth the money.

My biggest complaint at the moment is how much of our weekend gets eaten up by our long runs. It's 1.25 hours transit to the park and back + a 4 hour run + bathroom before/after, stretching, and changing = next thing you know you've been gone 6 hours. Plus all the prep work beforehand to get things all gathered up and the work once you're home of cleaning things up! It's quite the ordeal. But it's worth it and we're really getting down to the wire. Only a few more weeks!

Huff 50k: 7 weeks

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Run 2014: Weeks 31 - 33

Week 31:
     Nada. Nothing. To be honest I don't remember what exactly happened this week. I know that Justin was having leg cramps on Friday night/Saturday and since we were visiting my family I didn't feel up to heading out on my own. But I'm not sure what happened on Tuesday or Thursday nights. Something apparently. 

Week 32:
October 14   
     3.14 miles in 29:41, average 9:27
     We had to take the car into the shop and because of that Justin got off work much later than normal. We still managed to tuck a quick 3 miler in between him getting home and making supper. I was pretty proud of us actually.

October 18
     12.19 miles in 3:22:49, average 16:38
     Another terrible average but a really good run! We were at Shades State Park and it was beautiful! The trees were brilliantly colored but they hadn't really started dropping yet. It was wonderful. Even the freak storm (it wasn't supposed to rain that day!) wasn't a big deal. It was actually really fun. Climbing up wet slippery rocks while it pours on your head? Awesome!

October 19
     Bonus: 7.71 mile hike in Turkey Run State Park on a gorgeous sunny fall day!

Week 33:
October 23
     7.18 miles in 1:15:52, average 10:34
     A much better pace! This was a fun and pretty easy trail run on the local mountain biking/multi use trails not too far from our house. These trails have lots of back and forths and many ups and downs. Not a ridiculous amount of elevation change but definitely enough to make my legs work tired.

October 26
     15.32 in 3:04:32, average 12:03
     A pretty good run actually. Our first run of the Huff loop. It was hillier than I remembered it being but it went pretty well. I was pretty tired by the end and was walking up most of the big hills. But our pace averaged out great. So I'm pleased with how it went.

Taking a break in Shades State Park

Well, things haven't gone quite as smoothly as I would have hoped. We missed a run each in weeks 32 & 33 because Justin's grandpa died and we weren't feeling up to it. I know that some people like to head out on runs when they're feeling upset or emotional but that's not really how either of us are. So we cozied up inside for a couple of nights and spent time together. It was definitely the right choice for us.

But that means that we're not catching up as quickly as we might have. I think it'll be fine. I'm still feeling confidant about running the Huff. I really do think that we can do it. We're obviously not using the training plan exactly at the moment but it's still definitely guiding our runs. I think we'll probably continue to base our runs off of it every week even if we don't follow it precisely. 

On our long run this past week we went out to the park where the Huff is held and ran one loop of the Huff trail. For the actual race we'll run this same loop twice. The path is marked with special markers that say "Indiana Trail 100" which is actually another race that is run in the spring on this same trail. It went well and it was pretty. It was interesting to see where they had obviously changed the route in the last few years. All of the changes involved going up hillsides to get away from marshy areas. That definitely added a decent bit of elevation change since every time we went up we had to come back down again! But I think I'll get used to it. We're planning on doing all our long runs out there for the training cycle. As in all seven of them. Yes ladies and gentlemen we have seven long runs until the Huff!

Aside from all that, physically I've been feeling pretty good. My left ankle is still doing well with it's brace and my legs have been feeling pretty strong. My right ankle has been a bit sore with running on the trails so much. I'm working on my ankle exercises again to see if I can get it settled out. If I can get it to calm down then I'll end up bracing it also. Obviously I need to spend sometime this winter/down season to work on strengthening my ankles. Right now though, I'm working damage control.

In other news, I need gaiters. My socks and shoes were filled with leaf bits and dirt. Does anyone have any that they recommend?

Huff 50k: 8 weeks

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Run 2014: Weeks 28 - 30

Week 28:
September 16
     2 x 1200 @ ~2min per lap
     4 x 800 @ ~2min per lap
 September 20
     12.03 in 1:59:37, average 9:52
     This was a really good run for me. Our usual route was taken over by a festival in the middle so we drove further into town and ran a different stretch of the greenway. It made for some different scenery and it was pretty fun. 

Week 29: - Taper week!
September 23
      6 x 400 @ 2min per lap
     Fun and pretty easy. There was a cross country meet going on at our usual track so we went to a local park and figured out an out and back route. It was a beautiful day and lots of walkers were out. It made it entertaining. 

September 25
     3.1 in 28.55, average 9:19
     This was supposed to be an easy run. And this pace was what felt easy. I love distance training. It makes the short stuff so much fun!

September 27 - Fort4Fitness Half
     13.28 in 2:05:04, average 9:25
     I started my phone as soon as I started moving forward so it doesn't like up exactly with the timing chip. But that was the goal. It was still a record with my fastest half marathon and longest 1 hour run to date.

Week 30:
September 30
     1 x 1600 @ ~2min per lap
     The plan was to run 3 x 1600 but we just didn't have it in us. We were both super sore still since it was only three days after the half marathon.

October 2
     3.12 in 30:51, average 9:54
     Because of how Tuesday's run had gone we decided just to do another 3 miler and work on easing back into things. Let me tell you, this one was much harder than the week before. Things were still somewhat sore but not as bad. It was more just the fact that I felt like I was working pretty hard and my pace just doesn't reflect that. It was an interesting one to be sure. Also, this was my first run in long sleeves. It was chilly!

October 4
     10.6 in 2:27:25, average 13:55
     Okay, guys. I know that those numbers look bad.  A 13:55 minute mile is slow. Like I broke a toe and I'm hobbling slow. BUT. It was actually a really good run! This was our first trail run of this cycle and it was a lot of fun. It was in the low 40s, drizzly, and quite windy but we drove over to the local mountain biking trails and got in a good 10 miles. We had originally had 18 miles on the docket but really didn't feel like we were up for that yet. So we set out at a gentle pace and hoped to make it to double digits if everything went well. And it really did.

After our first trail run of the season

Well, now that the half is done we only have one goal for the rest of this year. Get our strength built for the Huff 50k. This is really our big run for the year. It was fun to do the half but we really just threw it in because we knew that we would already be training for something longer. And now that it's over it's time to refocus. There are a couple of things that we'll be doing differently. One is that we'll be shifting as many of our runs as possible to trails. Long runs will always be on trails and hopefully a good number of our tempo runs will be as well. Trail races are very, very different from road races and we want as much training on the trails as possible before the Huff.

However, because we'll be shifting to trails our times and speeds will slip, by a lot. We'll still be doing track repeats and pushing on the tempo runs. But I'm expecting all of my numbers from here on out to be in the double digits and that's just how it'll be. It s possible to build mileage and maintain speed. But road paces don't equate to trail paces. At all. So it will be interesting to see where I settle out on my pace for our trail runs.

The one other change that I'm anticipating is getting to run with Justin more often. I am really looking forward to this part of training. We'll still run separately sometimes of course. But there are times where it's easier and safer to run together. When we're first running in a new park for instance. Because park maps are never fully accurate and parks aren't frequently well signed, it'll be better if we run together until we become familiar with the trails. This will mean more runs with Justin which always means more fun! We always have interesting conversations. This past run we spent a long time talking about all the foods we would put at an Ultra aid station. It would be the best aid station ever!

All in all, I am looking forward to seeing how all this goes. Did I mention we're already eying a race for January? I'm pretty sure we're insane ;-)

Huff 50k: 11 weeks

Monday, October 6, 2014

Chunky Tomato Basil Soup

You know how sometimes you have that one perfect meal that just sticks with you? That's how this soup and fries meal is for me. We had been in New Zealand for two and a half weeks almost and the whole time it had been cold, rainy, and windy. In short, perfect normal October weather. The only problem was that October in the Southern Hemisphere equals springtime. So for weeks Justin and I had been craving soups and pastas and everything fallish. And just about all we could find was salads and sandwiches. We had some very, very delicious foods but it just wasn't what I was craving.

And then, the night before we were due to take the fairy back to the north island, we stumbled upon a little pub that had soups. Well, Justin got the seafood chowder and I got the most delicious and satisfying bowl of chunky tomato basil. The potatoes were pretty tasty too; served freshly fried with a scoop of sour cream. But it's that tomato basil that has really haunted me.

Ever since that cold Springtime (October) afternoon, I've been looking to recreate that meal. A couple of weeks ago, almost exactly two years since I had that perfect bowl of soup, I stumbled upon this recipe that tasted exactly how I remembered it. Delicious, warm broth with chunks of onion and tomato and just a hint of oil floating on top. Sprinkle it liberally with sea salt and just a pinch of fresh parmesan. Mmmmm... 

Now all we have to find is the perfect seafood chowder. If you have a favourite recipe let me know in the comments!

Chunky Tomato Basil
      Adapted from: The Roasted Root

Servings: 4-6

1 tablespoons olive oil
2 small yellow onions, chopped
*8 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½  teaspoons dried basil
3 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes with juice
1 ½ cups chicken/turkey stock
1 tbs butter
½ tsp baking soda
Sea salt to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese for serving

In a large pot, sauté the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.

Dump the diced tomatoes with juice, broth, basil, and butter into the pot. Stir until butter is melted.

Add the baking soda. This will create a reaction with the acidity in the soup and will fizzle up so stir continuously.

Bring the soup to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes with the lid on.

Justin and I liked ours with freshly grated parmesan on it.

*We love lots and lots of garlic so we added eight cloves. If you have more normal tastes, I would scale back to 4 cloves. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Run 2014: Fort4Fitness Half Marathon Recap

Well, we ran the Fort4Fitness Half Marathon on Saturday and it went fantastic!!! I was really, really pleased with how I did and my time was better than I expected. My over all time was 2:03:46 which averages out to be a 9:27 minute mile! I have never, ever run that fast for that long. My long runs are usually around a 10 minute mile and that's how I have been training for the last few months so this is huge. I guess the track repeats and tempo runs really did pay off. It's been two days and I still feel giddy everytime I think about my PR for this half marathon. I'm already looking forward to pushing my training next fall again and seeing what I can do next year.

Pre race selfie.

In general though the race went really well. My pace was challenging but wasn't unmanageable by any stretch of imagination. My pace wasn't as steady as I might have liked and it certainly wasn't negative splits. I started out a little faster than I intended but that's normal for a race. It's really easy to get swept along by the crowd and adrenaline. My second mile was a 8:51 and was my fastest. From there each of my miles gradually slowed by 3-5 seconds and by the 12th mile were down to 9:49. But I picked up the pace the last mile (which was a gradual uphill slope the entire way) and finished with a 9:33. I'm mostly just proud of my ability to maintain a strong pace even though I started out much faster than I meant to. It would have been so easy to burn myself out at the beginning and I wouldn't have been able to rally back.

Justin's view from corral B. I was further back in E.

I was pleased with my decision to wear my running pack. I was able to cruise through the water stations and not get hung up by the other runners. I did snag a gatorade at the aid station on mile 7 and take a couple of sips. I then spent the next two miles chugging water and trying to get the flavor out of my mouth. Ick. The sport beans that I carried worked well for me which is what I expected. I had fifteen beans and I ate them in fives. So I ate them at the end of miles 3, 7, & 11. That seemed to be a good balance and I had plenty of energy to sprint to the finish.

Me after the race and I was very, very sweaty.

I was a little less pleased with my clothing choices. Saturday morning I ended up settling on shorts, a tank top, and my arm warmers. I was definitely cold before the start but that didn't last long. By the end of the first mile I had stripped off my arm warmers and was carrying them. About a half mile later I was ready to take my shirt off. I made it a little further but at the end of mile three I hopped up on the sidwalk, stripped off my pack and shirt, shoved the shirt and arm warmers inside, flung the pack back on and got back on my way. I just couldn't stand being that hot even though it was about 56F outside. I was sweltering. So now I know that even if it is only 53 at the start I should go ahead and skip the shirt. (Note: I did not see a single other person, man or woman, going shirtless. But Justin said he saw several of both genders up with the fasties where he was. I did however see many, many people running in long sleeves, capris, tights, or some combination of the two. People are bat-shit crazy.)

My legs did very well during this race. I wore my ankle brace of course and that seemed to go fine. I didn't have any major complaints during this run. I know I had some aching in my right ankle at a few points. And I also got a couple of mild blisters. But I was really pleased with how I felt and the minimal amounts of aches and pains that I've had since then. I wore my calf compression sleeves all day Saturday after the race and those seemed to really help.

Justin is mostly dry courtesy of his long wait for me to finish.

And Justin's race? It went fantastic. He blew his previous time of 1:56:23 out of the water and set a new PR of 1:44:37. That averages out to exactly an 8 minute mile but his fastest, and last, mile was a 7:35. He finished up in 286th place out of the 2403 finishers of the race. And those last 3 miles? Yeah, he passed 162 people! Let's just say that Justin's a badass!

So by all accounts, it was a pretty darn good race for the both of us.

After race selfie. Feeling satisfied and very proud.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Run 2014: Pre Half Brain Dump

Well you guys, this is it. 21 hours until I'll be standing at the starting line for the Fort4Fitness Half Marathon. Am I nervous? A little which is silly. Three of my last four long runs were longer than a half marathon. And the more I think about that the less nervous I get. I know how I'm feeling, I know how my training has gone. and I know that I can do this run easily. What I'm most concerned about is what on earth am I going to wear?!?!

I have a pretty basic system set up for when I run. If it's 60F or warmer then I wear shorts and a running bra. If it's under 60F then I wear more clothing. But tomorrow's weather is going to be all kinds of screwed up. It's predicted to be 53 at 8am when I'll be queing up and 66 by the time I'm done with the race. What do I even do with that?! Wear a tank top and be cold at the beginning and hot at the end? Wear just a bra and freeze before the start? Wear a bra and my arm warmers? I did that the other week and let me tell you it is not the sexiest look ever. The rest of my outfit is easy; my new balance minimus trail 10s and my favourite shorts from god knows where. Whatever I end up deciding I'll be sure to get photos of it. It's bound to be good.

I'm planning on carrying my running pack and carrying sport beans for the race. I've been training with my pack for the past month or so and I enjoy being self sufficient. I also wore my pack during the previous half marathon and I liked being able to run through aid stations. Also, I don't like drinking out of cups while I run. It should be a win win situation.

I've been having a few physical aches that I'm hoping won't affect my race any. My left leg has been sore this week and I don't precisely know why. I am still running in my left ankle brace and during my last few runs my my left calf and shin have been aching. I have also felt a little bit in the ball of my left foot at the beginning of runs but that has always settled in and gone away. My left calf has also been sore when not running and I have had some tenderness along the inside of my shin bone. I've been wearing my calf sleeves on a regular basis and that seems to be helping. I don't intend to wear them during the race however. I haven't enjoyed running in them any of the times that I have tried it.  

I've also been thinking about my goal for this race and I feel like I have a few. One: Finish the half marathon. Period. That's it. Two: Match my previous time of 2:10:27. That is a perfectly lovely time and should be quite doable. I've been consistently running a 10 minute mile for the majority of this training cycle. And three: If the stars align and I feel amazing, fantastic, stupendous! I'd love to get this thing done in 2 hours. That's what I was originally training for but like I said before I know how my runs have gone and that would be a huge stretch. That would have to be close to a 9 minute mile and that's insane. I'll be very happy with ten minute miles.

I think that's all the important things! Justin is also running the half and looks prime to set a new PR and one of the sister-in-laws is running her first 10k tomorrow too. It should be a fun day. I'll be back next week with a race recap!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Today in Langedom

Today is the first day of fall!! Or first day of fall according to some people. There seems to be some confusion on the internet world as to whether today or tomorrow is the first day of fall. I've officially decided that it's today and I'm going to celebrate it as such! The weather is perfect for fall and I have apple cider in the fridge all ready for when Justin comes home later.

Today I'm washing out root beer bottles to store for next year. This weekend was my favourite weekend/festival of the whole year; Johnny Appleseed Festival! I don't have any photos because I'm always way too busy looking at things to take any so you'll have to just imagine it! There's just so much to look at. Craft booths with everything country and kitsch imaginable. Antique booths full of nicknacks and furniture; cast iron pans and vintage pyrex were particularly popular this year. Frontier town with tents full of animal skins, wooden guns and swords, and beaded jewelery. A Civil War encampment with cannons, men in uniforms, and women in hoop skirts. And food booths, food booths galore: kettle corn, chicken and dumplings, caramel apples, fresh pressed cider, turkey legs, pies, and of course root beer. The root beer is delicious and so fun. The first time you buy root beer it comes in a beautiful glass bottle. If you keep and wash your bottle then you can get it refilled for a dollar or two. Forever. This year Justin and I refilled our bottles that we bought six years ago. It's the best part of Johnny Appleseed Festival. 

Today I'm defrosting the small freezer. It was almost empty already and I want to get it cleaned out so that I can begin filling it back up with fall things. It's almost soup season and I want to get a big batch of chicken/turkey stock made up so that I have it on hand in the freezer. Stock is my favourite way to add more nutrients to any kind of soup. Split pea and lentil soups both taste extra delicious made with stock instead of plain water and I love knowing that the stock makes them even healthier. 

Today I'm making our favourite white chocolate chip scones. With our running schedule ramped up we're currently eating two snacks a day in addition to our normal three meals. One of those snacks is usually a muffin/scone with a thick slab of butter in the middle. Is it the healthiest snack ever? Maybe not. (Well, the butter is healthy but the sugar in the muffin is not so much.) But they give me energy to get through our late afternoon runs and they're super super yummy. If you haven't tried this recipe yet you need to. They're amazing.

Today I'm still thinking about all the delicious things that we ate this weekend: the root beer at Johnny Appleseed Festival, the first apple crisp of the season, and two new recipes. We made an Asian Chicken Cabbage Noodle recipe that was a little bland but was a good starting point. I need to tweak with the recipe a little to ramp up the flavor but it was really simple to throw together and not bad as it was. And we also made a tomato basil soup recipe that was amazing! I'm hoping to share that recipe with you later this week. 

Today I'm loving this recent post by my lovely friend Stacey. Stacey's an interior designer in Fort Wayne, IN and has the most impeccable taste! I love following her blog and seeing all the beautiful things that she picks out. She posted a collection of mid century modern looks inspired by a show called Blacklist and there are several items that I would love to have in my house!

Today I'm enjoying my new phone. I've been eagerly looking forward to the iPhone 6 coming out... so that I could buy an iPhone 5s for cheaper! Since that happened recently I ordered a 5s and it came this past week. It's not much different than my 4s but it's lovely to have a phone again. Those three days without one were definitely different! 

Today I'm looking forward to the Big Bang Theory Season 8 premiere. We watched Season 7 this weekend and are finally caught up! Season 8 premieres tonight and I'm assuming that it won't be available online for a while but I'm looking forward to getting to see a new episode every week as they come out!

Today I'm contemplating the best way to wash windows. We have seventeen windows with storm windows and they're all pretty filthy. Since they're predicting beautiful weather this week it seems like the perfect time to wash the exteriors of the windows. But the question is how? Since I have storms in addition to the sashes they're extra complicated. I'm predicting that this activity will take up a decent chunk of time. If you have any suggestions let me know in the comments. I'm open to any advice you might have!

And there you have it. A short list of things that I'm doing and thinking about today. Welcome to my brain! I hope that your week is off to a great start!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A week in my kitchen: 9/18/14

Joining up with Heather from Beauty That Moves to share photos from my kitchen this week.

A sampling of photos celebrating real foods and all the work, and fun, that happens in the kitchen everyday.

*  *  *  *  * 

  • Hot dog buns this week. They may not look as perfect as the ones from the store but they taste much, much better. I bought a bunch of bratwursts at the local meat market also. So we have quite the feast planned.
  • I bought and grated four and a half pounds of parmesan. That should last us quite a while but it's good to have the freezer stocked up. It's perfect for a quick mug of stracciatella soup or alfredo sauce.
  • As much as we try to take care of it, sometimes the cast iron just needs a little scrubbing and reseasoning! The longer we cook with it the less often I need to do that though. I hardly ever even get it wet anymore.
  • Butter and honey are the perfect start to every yeast dough! This recipe also had three cups of milk that got warmed up as well. I think that would be the perfect drink. A mug of warm cream with a teaspoon or so of honey mixed in, and just a hint of vanilla. Yum.
  • My south facing sink is beginning to get direct sun again. It won't be too long until I have to dig out my baseball cap to wash the lunch dishes :-)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Run 2014: Weeks 21 - 27

Week 21:
July 29
     2x800 @ ~2min per lap
July 31
     7.04 in 1:06:17, average 9:25
August 2
     13.13 in 2:12:45, average 10:07

Week 22:
August 5
     4x1200 @ ~2min per lap
August 7
     8.26 in 1:17:43, average 9:24
August 9
     10.02 in 1:39:43, average 9:57

Week 23:
August 12
     1000, 2000, 1000, 1000
August 14
     7.03 in 1:05:07, average 9:16

Week 24:
August 23
     10.28 in 1:40:58, average 9:50 

Week 25:
August 25
     10x400 @ 2min per lap
August 27
     7.02 in 1:11:34, average 10:11
August 29
     15.02 in 2:39:08, average 10:36

Week 26:
September 3
     17.08 in 3:25:57, average 12:03
     (Ran 15 walked 2.08. Justin knee problems)

Week 27:
September 9
     4x800 @ ~2min per lap
September 13
     15.16 in 2:48:09, average 11:06
     (Justin knee problems)

Overall Thoughts:
Things have been very hit and miss for us the past few weeks. Work has been insane for Justin and time has been really crunched for the last few weeks. It's been challenging to get the runs in and we've been extra tired. For the most part though, when we've been able to run things have gone pretty well. My ankle has been fine. I've done a few shorter runs without the brace and my ankle is usually really tired and a tiny bit tweaky. Because all our tempo and track runs are so long I don't feel like this is a good time to wean myself off of the brace. Running 5-7 miles braceless isn't exactly easing into things. So for now the brace remains a fixture.

I worked on breaking in a new pair of running shoes over the last few weeks and ran my long run in them this week. This pair is New Balance Minimus Trail 10v2 and I'm a fan. They have a much wider toe box and feel great. The pink Merrells in the photo above are getting quite worn and I will probably relegate them to normal shoes very shortly.

The track runs are still going great. I've consistently hit all of my desired paces either spot on or just a few seconds faster than assigned. This has been lovely and reassuring despite my long runs being slower than preferred. Tempo and long runs have both been alright. Sometimes they go great, sometimes they're hell. I'm not really sure what makes the difference.

September 13th was our first run this training cycle that I needed a shirt. It was actually cold enough that I wore shorts and my UnderArmour quarter zip which is insane. I love that thing and it's been a staple of my running wardrobe for the past few years. It's been wonderful to finally have fall weather here and I'll be curious to see what the cooler weather does for our runs.

Justin has been having some knee pain on our last two long runs. The track run in between didn't hurt him at all though. He's currently trying to pin point exactly where it hurts so that we can work on figuring out what's causing it. We'll have to see how that goes.

As for now, we're two weeks out from the Fort4Fitness half marathon so we're going to begin a little bit of a taper. It'll be interesting to see how that goes!

Fort4Fitness: 2 weeks
Huff: 14 weeks

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A week in my kitchen: 9/11/14

Joining up with Heather from Beauty That Moves to share photos from my kitchen this week.

A sampling of photos celebrating real foods and all the work, and fun, that happens in the kitchen everyday.

*  *  *  *  * 

  • A trip to the farmers market to stock up on peppers. Justin cut them all and we now have seven varieties of peppers pickling on our counter. Note that they're arranged from mildest to hottest in the second photo. 
  • I finished using up a batch of homemade vanilla so I drained two more. This time we made two varieties; bourban and vodka (regular). I've already made a decent dent in the regular vanilla. We go through it really quickly. I plan to start two more batches today. 
  •  We're getting lots of veggies from the farmer along with our milk, eggs, and meat ever week. It's always fun to see what comes! This week it was tomatoes, spaghetti squash, and watermelon.
  •  Justin discovered copycat Chipotle recipes online and, surprisingly, they're real food recipes that aren't full of junk. This week we made burrito bowls and they were delish. 
  • Not exactly from my kitchen but this past week I had the most amazing strawberry milkshake ever. If you find yourself in NW Michigan make sure you hit Country Dairy. It's about 30 miles north of Muskegon and they make all they're own milk, cheeses, and icecream in house. We stopped there twice last week and stocked up on cheeses and milkshakes on our drive home. The milkshakes didn't last long though ;-)


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Run 2014: Weeks 14 - 20

Week 14: 
June 10th
     400, 600, 800, 1200, 800, 600, 400 @approximately 2 minutes per lap
June 12th
      7.03 in 1:06:32, average 9:27
 June 14th
      9.00 in approx 1:28:00 ish, average 9:51
I forgot to restart endomondo after my break so my times aren't accurate.

Week 15: Katherine in town
June 22nd
     9.02 in 1:30:51, average 10:04

Week 16: Katherine in town
June 28th
     9.01 in 1:29:06, average 9:54

Week 17: 4th of July camping
July 3rd
     6.83 in 1:24:55, average 12:26
Very horrible run on an empty stomach. Walked frequently. 
July 5th
     11.01 in 1:50:42, average 10:03
Good run from the park into town. Spot on pace.

Week 18:
July 10th
     7.72 in 1:20:13, average 10:24
July 12th
     9.65 in 1:51:09, average 11:31

Week 19:
July 17th
      7.24 in 1:09:20, average 9.35
Faster than pace.  No chews and felt fine.
July 20th
     12.02 in 2:00:42, average 10:03
Spot on pace.

Week 20:
July 24th
     7.02 in 1:07:31, average 9:37
Faster than pace and no chews.
July 26th
     8.02 in 1:19:01, average  9:51
Faster than pace and no chews.

Overall thoughts:
As you can see I got very behind on updating and we haven't done a spectacular job getting our runs in. But things have been going really well actually. In the last couple of weeks I have quit eating electrolytes on the shorter runs (less than 8 miles) and it hasn't been bad at all. I haven't noticed a decrease in energy on the runs where I haven't had chews and my times have been better since I'm not having to fuss around with getting the chews out.

As far as the training plan goes, everything still seems doable. The assigned paces have seemed managable and physically the runs have felt fine. Nothing has been particularly sore and I haven't needed my compression sleeves in weeks. My ankle has been feeling fine. I'm still running in the brace although I have loosened it significantly. If I were running shorter distances I would transition to running without it but it's just too much of a pain in the butt to deal with all that at this point.

We're currently planning all our runs to include a water refill at one of two water fountains. This has been working pretty well and I've enjoyed not using the pack. I'm thinking that I'll need to transition to it soon though. I'd like to get used to running for longer non-stop and don't want to get in the habit of relying on having a break during my runs.

All in all, the running has been doing quite well. We've been successful in continuing to build mileage and maintain the speeds that we're hoping for. We're hoping to be able to resume our speed training soon and we'll see how things go after that.

Fort4Fitness: 9 weeks
Huff: 21 weeks