Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Salad Slingin'

I am one of those people who has an idea for a recipe (pizza, oatmeal, salad, etc) and then just totally throws that idea out of whack by dumping a whole bunch of extras on it.

Well, last week, I stuck to my guns. I really wanted to make a spinach, chicken, apple, walnut, goat cheese sandwich salad. So what happened? We had a spinach, chicken, green apple, pecan, cranberry, goat cheese salad and it was delicious!




See? I stuck to my guns (for the most part) and it was a win.

What else happened? We ran out of salad dressing so I made up my own with: a little olive oil, balsamic, rice vinegar, cracked pepper, and lemon juice. It was okay, but mostly I was just glad I had the ingredients to make a halfway decent dressing.

Proof of previous salad mess.


Don't think the haphazard salad won't ever happen again, but it's fun to see what happens when you stick with a plan. 

Are you a recipe follower or a more go with the flow kind of cook?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Favorite City

Hard to imagine that it's already Monday...

Alas, we had a great time with Kristin visiting from Nashville. We indulged in plenty of satisfying food, tasty drinks, some good sweat and laughter. The last time she was here was November 2010.


We lucked out with beautiful weather Thursday morning and I was able to take the morning off work so we opted to conquer Spencer's Butte with a little hike. 


Almost there...

Two miles later, we reached the top and were standing above some of the clouds. 




As I said, it was a beautiful morning. We could have stayed up there for hours.


I think Jonah Bell enjoyed it just a little bit...


After our descent, we headed to Vero (an adorable espresso house) for caffeine and fuel. Kristin had an egg, bacon and tomato sandwich. 


And I had a berry scone. Worth every ounce of butter in that thing. 


Last night, we capped off her visit with a trip to Le Bar for fancy drinks and laughter. We talked about our favorite cities (if we could choose one to move to) and why we like ours (Eugene/Nashville). 

The pros for Eugene: big enough that you don't know everyone, but small enough that the commute is always quick, accessibility to outdoors and athletic activities is abundant and easy, mild weather, organic/healthy food easily available.

The pros for Nashville: climate (warm most of the year), community feel, the emphasis on shopping local/supporting your neighborhood, culture & music. 



It was a great weekend! Kristin's visit reminded me how important it is to stay in touch with good friends and make the effort. This girl is about to graduate with her masters in education policy from Vanderbilt. Holy impressive.

What is your favorite city and why? What are the pros/cons of your current city?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I Heart Trader Joe's.

Have I said that lately? I fear it's been too long since I've uttered such words.

The other day I went there kind of starving after a long run and ended up buying the sample item they were giving away in the store. Luckily, that sample item was a very delicious $4.99 arugula pizza.


Monday, I decided to roll meatless and naturally, Trader Joe's helped with a lot of the ingredients. Into the pan went TJ's frozen fire roasted corn, TJ's frozen grilled bell peppers and onions, TJ's black beans and mushrooms, plus a little taco seasoning. 


Then, a grilled sweet potato (also now found at TJ's)...


While filling the burritos, I added quinoa (more protein and fiber - whoop!), avocado (healthy fats), a little cheese, mild salsa and TJ's non fat sour cream. 

I finally wrapped up the burritos in locally made whole wheat tortillas with cheddar and hot sauce on top paired with TJ's broccoli to broil for 10-15 min. 

Do you have any idea which one belongs to the manfriend?



Mmm...

This Meatless Monday dish was perfect because it was healthy, but has those satisfying characteristics with the creamy tastes from the sweet potato, black beans, mushroom and avocado.

Additionally, it's great if you're trying to feed big hungry men who like meat because you can fill up the burrito (or make extras) and still keep it healthy. I promise, they'll be satisfied with this dish!

And if this post didn't prove why you too should love Trader Joe's, I'll leave you with the message I saw this week inside their store.


OH, and guess who is visiting? Kristin from Nashville!

We had a fun girl's night eating pizza, drinking wine and catching up with other friends last night. Having friends visit is the best. Let the fun continue! Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hagg Lake 25K Recap

Hey oooo! Now let's get to this race recap. Beware: there are a lot of photos. Click here for my random thoughts mid race.

It was an early race morning. The manfriend and I woke up at my parents' house at 5:30 am to get on the rode shortly after 6. My mom came with us so we all loaded up and headed off for the 2 hr drive. 




I fueled with cereal and a banana at 6 am and then a half almond butter/jelly sandwich an hour before the race. 

Sunday's race weather was PERFECT! High 30s - mid 40s with no rain. I chose capris, a light tech t and my long sleeve Portland Marathon shirt, plus cheap gloves and a headband. Don't I look dorky? 


I picked up my bib, stopped by the bathrooms and then gathered to get instructions at the "start line" (there wasn't one). One of the racers sang the national anthem and the crowd sang along.


At 9:10 am we were off. The first mile or so, we were sent right up a rocky road to warm up, which was kind of fun and then we turned back around, headed back to the start and headed out on the loop around Hagg Lake. 


This is what sticky, slippery mud looks like.


I was quickly introduced to the Hagg mud before even hitting mile 2 when my foot slipped and my body twisted almost all the way around. I was about 90% sure I was going down, but somehow stayed upright. 


The terrain along the course was fairly rolling and gradual with a few of these scary as hell, muddy downhills mixed in. At this point, the manfriend, my mom and other spectators were perched on the side of the hill just waiting for someone to come careening down on their rear. That someone was NOT me. :)


Around mile 6.5 the path took us out to the road along the lake where my pace quickly went up to an 8 min mile, which I was surprised to see after several 11 min miles. 


So, if I could describe the race in thirds, I'd say the first third was fun and exciting (I kept saying "I love trail running!" in my head), the second third was me thinking about how sore my butt was and the third was a total swamp fest


There were two aid stations out on the course. I sped right past the first one since I was carrying my water bottle with nuun and Shot Bloks + a larabar in the pouch.


At the second aid station (around mile 10), I grabbed a handful of trail mix and Fritos and those things seriously never tasted so good. Not that I've had any since probably college, but still. The salt was just what I needed.

Throughout the race, I felt pretty steady so I think I fueled well. I drank every mile or so and ate approx. every 2 miles, even if it was just a Shot Blok.


At mile 11.5, I stepped into a huge puddle and my right foot went from completely dry inside my Montrails to disgustingly wet. For the next 3.5 miles I just felt the squish of mud between my toes at every step. Ugh. 

The last mile or so was like running through a swamp. At times I had so much mud on each foot that I was probably carrying a good 5-10 lbs of just mud with me!

And finally, I rounded the last bit of trail to the finish line at 14.75 miles on my Garmin. Happy, strong, tired, finished.



After posing for the final mud pic, I promptly walked right into the lake to rinse off the caked mud from my lower legs.



I devoured 1.5 grilled cheese sandwiches (fake cheese, white bread and all), chicken noodle soup, a choc chip cookie, trail mix and probably a few other things. Running makes me hungry. 

Race Stats:
Finish time: 2:37:45
Place/age group: 6th
Overall place: 93, 21st female
Miles (per Garmin): 14.75
Avg pace: 10:10
Cost of race: $56?
Race swag: women's Mountain Hardwear tech t-shirt and trail socks

Would I do this race again? Heck yes! Would I do the 50K? Nah, once around the lake was fun, but I'm not sure I'd want to push my luck.

Local runners looking for a trail race for next year, add Hagg Lake to your calendar, but be sure to sign up as soon as it opens. I think it sold out in a matter of days.

Random: Before the race, a local female runner in her late 50s was talking to someone about how she felt great after Saturday's 50K and that she wasn't even sore. She was one of the cra cra craaaazy 18 runners running both the 50K and 25K on back to back days. I am not that hardcore.

Thanks again to mom and the manfriend for being my fabulous cheering section and photographers (not to mention waking up at 5:30 am on a Sunday)!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Thoughts on Hagg Lake

First of all, the Hagg Lake 25K was a blast! I finished the race with mud caked on my shoes, shins, calves and socks. I will do a full recap on the blog in the next day or two, but for now, a few thoughts about the race.


Thoughts that went through my head mid race:

 I LOVE trails! 

This is like having suction cups on the bottom of your shoes AND being on a slip 'n slide of mud all at the same time.

Why is that guy wearing ALL white? Does he think he's being funny? Because I don't think it's funny at all. (He later proceeds to fall and get completely muddy.)

Up, down, up, down...

Not sure if I'll still be upright at the bottom of this hill. AHHH!

SO much fun!
Okay, so maybe I shouldn't have run Friday night and rode on the trainer on Saturday. My ass really hurts running up these hills. 

This is fun, but I would NOT have wanted to run around the lake twice (like the 50Kers). 

Fritos have never tasted so good. When was the last time I had a frito?

Mile 11.5 - Ugh. Foot.completely.drenched.in.mud. Squish, squash, squish, squash...

Okay, just think of this mud as some lavish spa treatment for your feet and legs. Ha. 

Mile 14! Almost there! Can't.run.any.faster. Mud is so slippery. 

I'm going to finish under 3 hrs!

Wahoo! Finish line! Wait, I thought this was 15.5 miles not 14.75? I sort of want to run 'til my watch shows 15.5. I'm a mileage addict. 

Grilled cheese made of fake cheese and white bread has never tasted so good. mmm...



Okay, those are most of the entertaining thoughts I had through the 15 miles. I'll fill you in on the details soon, but for now, Happy Monday!

Thanks to the manfriend and mom for cheering me on and taking photos!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lady and the Tramp

Let's be honest, no hunk of meat looks attractive on camera. Perhaps there's a reason for that... Anywho, I haven't given up meat thus far (although I'm tempted at times) and last night I wanted to "beef up" our spaghetti so I bought some lean, locally grown grass fed beef. 

I brought it home, whipped out my Betty Crocker cookbook and had meatballs formed in approx. 7 minutes! 

All it took was a little chopped onion, worchestershire sauce, salt and pepper, 1 egg,  a little milk and bread crumbs. Then I cooked them on 400 deg for 20 min. 




And just like that, we had a nice little Lady and the Tramp dinner for two with leftovers for the manfriend.

I'm definitely feeling carb loaded up. Tonight will likely be a similar pasta like meal for dinner before the Hagg Lake 25K tomorrow.

It's kind of weird, for trail races, I don't feel like I have to be all precise about fueling or resting or what not. It seems like the nature of trail runners is much more "go with the flow." Funny how that gets passed on and sets the tone for other runners as well. 

So, no, I don't have any time goals for tomorrow really, but expecting to finish around 3 hrs. I guess I have no idea what to expect other than I've heard it's rolling hills and will likely be muddy...much muddier than McKenzie River Trail.


I have my trail shoes out and am planning to wear capris and layers for the mud, cold, hail, rain, etc. Oh and I have yet to actually do any packing. It's probably time I get on that seeing as how we're leaving in 45 min or so...

Oh and I'm kind of looking forward to stuffing my face at the aid stations. But seriously, these trail runs have some fun fuel. When else is it "proper nutrition" to eat Pringles, candy, Oreos, etc? 


Okay, time to pack! See you on the other side of this race. If you want to follow it, the hashtag is #haggmud. And I believe I set my twitter to automatically update when I finish the race, but who knows.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Modifications on the Mat

I used to be one of those people who HAD to do the hardest version of every pose. 

The reason was twofold: to challenge myself, but also to prove my strength. While that hasn't entirely changed, I have made a few modifications. Lately, I've been opting to step rather than jump when given the option to "jump or step your way back to plank."


Sometime in the last few months, I finally started listening to my body a bit more rather than powering through everything (ahem, taking an active rest day). And many days, I notice it feels much more natural to step back to plank rather than jump. 

With this little change, I've also found that I no longer look down on the "easier" version of poses. Some days, easier is better. 

The point is, no matter how small the change is, listening to your body can be a game changer. It can shift the way you see yourself and what you "have to do" in life or on the mat.

Have you had any revelations lately while on a run, laying on your yoga mat or spinning on the bike?

In the early days when I only ran alone, I used to say running was the cheapest therapy. And in a lot of ways, I still agree. Solo, uninterrupted time is much too sparse in our daily lives.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Shrimp Thomas

Happy Valentine's Day! I thought I'd share with you what we made for dinner tonight. 

After racing to the 4:30 pm hot yoga class (holy sweat), it was time to get down to dinner making business. Tonight, the manfriend was very helpful in the kitchen. Often times I shoo him out of the kitchen, but it was nice to cook together. Plus, this is his family's recipe. 



Shrimp Thomas
This is a creamy dish, but heck, if you don't have it too often, you should be just fine. 
Serves 4

Ingredients: 
1.5 lbs large shrimp or prawns
1 cheep bear (PBR, Coors Light)
4 T butter (or earth balance)
1/4 c minced shallots or green onions
1 c whipping cream
1.5 T worcestershire sauce 
2 T Kahlua
1/2 t salt and cayenne
2 T flour
Hot cooked rice (I use brown)
broccoli for side
1/4 c chopped parsley + 1 t dried tarragon (for garnish, optional)

1. Shell and devein shrimp. Place in glass bowl/dish with beer. Marinate for 2 hrs (or 30 min if that's all you have). 

2. In broad skillet, melt butter and saute green onions over medium heat about 5 min until soft and golden.

3. Drain beer from shrimp into skillet with butter mixture. Set shrimp aside. Simmer about 10 min to reduce liquid to 1 cup. 

4. Add cream, salt, cayenne, worcestershire sauce, kahlua and simmer 2-5 min. 

5. Work flour into sauce, stirring until slightly thickened. Easier to do if you take a bit of the beer mix in a small cup and work the flour into it similar to making gravy. 

6. When sauce starts to thicken, add shrimp and cook 2-5 min depending on the size of shrimp. Be careful NOT to overcook. Shrimp can quickly become rubbery if overcooked. 

7. Serve shrimp and sauce over rice. Garnish with broccoli and a sprinkling of parsley and tarragon. 


Enjoy your dinner with a glass or two of cheap wine. Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon isn't bad for $1.99!




Mmm...

I added some chopped red pepper and shredded carrots to my plate to beef up the veggie factor, but otherwise, mine looked the same. The manfriend and I have made this dish together about four times and this was definitely the BEST ever.

It's all about using cheap beer so it doesn't overpower the sauce and not cooking the shrimp too long.

I hope you had a great Valentine's! I ate way too much sugar and chocolate, but it was all in the name of the holiday. Yeah, bad excuse. I do need to sport a bikini in 3 weeks...

What's your favorite indulgent meal? Pizza for me! Do you prefer holidays out or in? If it's New Year's, I like to be out on the town most of the night, but for Valentine's I'd rather just stay in and relax.