Tag Archives: Running

Easter Dinner Success!

Living in NYC and away from our family can be tough sometimes when it comes to planning for holidays. We understandably can’t make it home for every holiday. We try to go upstate as much as possible, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. When Hubby and I started signing up for 2012 NYRR races this year, we completely forgot to check what weekend Easter was going to on. So, we signed up for the Scotland run and didn’t realize it was on Easter weekend until a few weeks before it. We decided that maybe this year we would spend Easter weekend in NYC. Sometimes it’s also nice not to have travel on a holiday weekend with all the masses and crazy drivers.

This meant that the domestic and traditional side of me decided I needed to plan a nice holiday dinner. Yes, it was only the two of us. Yes, there was no particular need to go all out. But my inner Betty Crocker had some plans of her own.

After church and some spring cleaning on Sunday, I set to work to make a respectable Easter dinner. I decided earlier in the week to make ham – note that I’d never made it before. If you’ve made ham then clearly you know this was the easiest part of my meal. I don’t know what I was expecting or why I had built up in my head that this was going to be an undertaking, but it was not. I bought a ham at the store, took the plastic wrapping off, added 1/2 cup of water to a pan, put the ham on the pan, covered it with foil, and cooked it in the oven for an hour. Boom – ham done. Simple as that. I even bought a pre-cut ham, which made the whole process even easier.  

Next up on my list was scalloped potatoes. This was kind of a process. I would say my prep time took about 30 minutes for all the slicing and dicing of the potatoes and onions. Here is the recipe:

Au Gratin Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 russet potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 onion, sliced into rings
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter a 1 quart casserole dish.
Layer 1/2 of the potatoes into bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Top with the onion slices, and add the remaining potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a medium-size saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Mix in the flour and salt, and stir constantly with a whisk for one minute. Stir in milk. Cook until mixture has thickened. Stir in cheese all at once, and continue stirring until melted, about 30 to 60 seconds. Pour cheese over the potatoes, and cover the dish with aluminum foil.  Bake 1 1/2 hours in the preheated oven.

The end result? A total success! This recipe made a LOT of potatoes. We’ve pretty much been eating them all week. Along with the potatoes, I baked some asparagus. I placed the asparagus in glass pan, covered it with butter, parmesan cheese, garlic powder and onion powder, then put some foil over the pan and popped it in the over for about 30 mins. And here’s my plate:

I also threw together a tossed salad for us and enjoyed some wine. And we even used our diningroom and ate at a proper table. I know that probably sounds weird to a lot of people, but I feel like most NYCers will get it. I think that a lot of city people, with small spaces, tend to eat in their livingroom areas for the most part. A lot of NYC apts don’t even have a diningroom. And although we have one, we RARELY use it and I don’t really know why. I mean, it looks really nice and inviting, right….

So we had a very proper Easter dinner in the diningroom and everything. How fancy. And lastly we had some delicious oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

How was your Easter? Did you travel to visit family? Stay at home? Host a dinner?

And now we’re into the next week already, which is Week 12 of marathon training. This is a cut back week for me and I’m really liking it so far. I ran 6 miles on Monday night and then managed to drag myself out of bed on Tuesday morning for a quick 4 miles. I’m hoping the rainy drizzle will end by later today so I can squeeze in 7 miles after work.

It’s so strange for me to think that last year at this time I was getting ready for the Boston Marathon. It does NOT feel like it was a full year ago. What an amazing race. Of course, with the new, ridiculously hard standards, I’ll never make it back there again. So I will just relish the memories!

Who out there is running the Boston Marathon this year? Good luck to all you runners!!

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Mid-Week: The Good, The Bad, The Sweets

Hello Wednesday. I wish you were Friday. So far, this week has been one of those really never-ending weeks. I’m actually glad I’m back in training mode because it’s keeping me sane.

The Bad
Besides having some residual head cold symptoms lingering, it just seems like every day there is another new issue to contend with or another frustration. My motto this week has kind of been two steps forward and eight steps back. And for a control freak like me, that is tough to handle.

The Good: Training on Track
But, I’m trying to focus on the positives. One being that I ran on Monday and Tuesday. Monday I logged 3.5 miles at the gym and Tuesday, I got my butt out of bed in the morning for a brisk 5-mile run. So far, I am on track for my mileage this week.

The Good: Delicious Dinner
Also on Monday, I made a delicious dinner after my run. I baked some tilapia, topped it with butter and lemon, and then sprinkled with dill, cilantro and garlic powder.

Our side dish was a vegetable medley. My colleague brought in some fresh kale from his garden, so that’s what inspired the dish. Along with kale, I added zucchini, potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, and a few grape tomatoes. It was very filling and delicious. 

The Good: Balade
Ok – so another positive was getting together with a friend last night for dinner and finding a new hidden gem. My friend Katie and I love exploring new ethnic, eclectic cuisines. We used to have a monthly date where we would try new and different restaurants. I think we kind of forgot about that tradition when we joined our book club.

But last night took us back to exploration. We ended up around Union Square and then walked a little south and east. We would up at: Balade – a Lebanese pitza and grill.

The waiter was super nice and helped us with our pronunciation and meal selection. We chose to share a bunch of small plates and it was the perfect amount of food.  We started with some hummus that had a light touch of lemon and was really good.

Then we had the Sambousik: “decadent pastry pockets filled with seasoned ground beef and toasted pine nuts.”  Along with the Grilled Halloumi Cheese: “grilled, sizzling hot cypriot cheese slices served with tomatoes and cucumber.” 

And last we had the Fatayir with Spinach and Feta (my favorite): “mini-pies stuffed with chopped spinach and feta cheese.”  

Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take photos. It’s taking a little time to get back into the swing of things, but I’m working on it.

I guess, upon reflection, although my week has been kind of tough, it’s also had some high points. It’s all about balancing the good with the bad. I’m hoping that my little head cold will work its way out of my system today when I sweat it out at the gym and then eat a healthy dinner.

The Sweets: Sugar, Sugar
I guess I might as well also admit another bad point of my week have been my intense sugar cravings. I don’t know why they are so out of control, but with Valentine’s day candy and cadbury eggs showing up, I’ve found myself veering off my course and making unplanned stops at CVS and 7-Eleven to stock-up on totally unnecessary and unhealthy sweets. It’s my weak spot and I’m totally failing.

My new plan is to allow myself just a hint of the sugar I am craving tonight. I bought those ever-so-delicious-and-addicting sweettart hearts, and I am only allowing myself to eat five mini hearts tonight after a healthy dinner. I will give moderation a shot, and if that fails, I might have to just throw them out.

What about you (if anyone is reading) – how do you squelch temptations? Can you have them in the house or do you have to get rid of them? Can you practice moderation?

 

 

 

 

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To Do Tuesday

I like “To Do” lists in a really sick way. I finish every night at work by making a list for the next day. And the few times that I don’t do this, I find myself hopelessly lost the next morning. It’s probably a little OCD and weird, but it’s one of those quirks I just don’t want to fight.

So my Tuesday To Do list at work was kind of out of control because Wednesday is my last day of work before a few days off for vacation. Then my at home To Do list includes packing, making dinner, cleaning up, blogging, etc.

Then there is the creation of the Maine sightseeing and suggestions list I’ve been compiling slowly. I plan to dedicate some serious time to that tomorrow.

All in all, my list making has gotten a little out of control.

I did get back some sanity yesterday when I managed to squeeze in a quick 5 mile run in between the bouts of rain. There is nothing like a solid 45 minutes of just you and your thoughts to help get everything straightened out.

After my run, I made us a pretty decent dinner of pork chops, brown rice and a green bean and mushroom mixture. It was what I like to think of as a “man’s meal.” Well more so if I replaced the rice with potatoes. It would be a meat and potatoes meal by anyone’s standards.

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I headed to bed fairly early Monday night after our manly dinner and watching The Bachelor Pad (so bad I know, totally negates the dinner manliness).

Then Tuesday (today) was a frenzied dash to the almost finish as I get closer to vacation time. It feels like I was trying to scramble to get everything done today when I technically have tomorrow as well. As usual, I did not make it out for an early morning run, but I have high (delusional) hopes to squeeze in a run on Wednesday morning. I just finished up making dinner for hubby and me…

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Spaghetti with mushroom sauce with grape tomatoes.

And now it’s time to try to finish packing. I am going to soak up this short vacation to Maine like nothing else. It’s almost here…are you sick of me saying that yet?!

I am going to attempt to post my book review of “The Hunger Games” before we leave tomorrow night though. Add another “to do” to the list! Have you read it?!

Tell me where you’ve traveled to this summer. Anywhere fabulous you would recommend?

Midweek with a Movie Review

How is it Thursday? This week is FLYING by. I last posted on Tuesday and really wanted to get back into the swing of any everyday post, but not happening. The good news is that we’ve made it over the mid-week hump and I’ve actually managed to get some running in.

Tuesday – no running to speak of. I’m pretty sure that was the day I attempted to run in the morning before work (a plan my husband laughs at whenever he hears it), but of course I just hit snooze instead. Seriously people – how do you do it? Unless I am meeting someone, I just can NOT seem to get up and run. It could have to do with the fact that a morning run for me means running at 5:45 a.m., which to my mind is CRAZY early. If I could run at 6:30, things might look a little different. But because of my work schedule, it has to be that early. ARGH!

So seriously – tell me your early morning running tricks. I think next time I may try sleeping in my running clothes. I believe this might instill a more pronounced sense of guilt if I’ve worn the clothes and done all the prep, only to hit the snooze five times. We’ll see how that works out for me. Other tips?

So because  I did not get my lazy arse up on Tuesday morning (or Wednesday), I decided to squeeze my run in before our book club meeting Wednesday evening. I fueled up with a decent lunch and then ate an early dinner of leftovers from Tuesday night.

Brown rice, chicken, grape tomatoes, mushrooms and carrots with low sodium soy sauce. It made for decent pre-run fuel on Wednesday afternoon as well.

After work I begrudgingly hit the gym treadmill for four quick miles before book club. An outside run would have been ideal, but not realistic given my time constraints.

Run done – feeling better, I headed to our book club meeting which happened to at a movie theater this time around (we usually meet at a restaurant that coincides with our book theme) to see The Help. I actually read The Help awhile ago and you can check out my book review here.

I will say upfront that I RARELY like a movie even half as much as the book. So I was a little surprised when halfway through the movie, I found myself enjoying it. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked the book better. But the movie did not make me want to scream insults or get up and leave. And before you say it sounds like I really didn’t like it. I truly did. I just won’t ever give a movie as much credit as a book, no matter how well-scripted and acted it is. The movie reel in my mind that goes along with the book is always 10 times better.   

Anyway…it was good. I love Emma Stone (like in a serious girl crush kind of way) and I think I’ve seen just about every move she’s been in. I do need to see the other new one she is in with Steve Carrell and Ryan Gosling though – it’s on my list.

To summarize this travesty of a movie review, I will finish by saying it’s a good movie, I thoroughly enjoyed it, thought the acting was great and I recommend it.

So now it’s Thursday evening and it’s time for what I hope will be a delightful run in exceptionally tolerable weather, a delicious dinner (there may be corn-on-the-cob on the menu), perhaps reading a bit of The Hunger Games (just started it, sooooo good), and then if I’m being completely honest…probably some Jersey Shore. 🙂 Have a great night all!

A Tough Ten Miles…in 80+ Degrees

Holy hotness! I was up this morning at 6:30 and really wanted to make it out of the house for a run by 7 a.m., but could not get myself moving. I drank quite a bit of water and had some coffee, along with a bowl of oatmeal before I left. I knew it was probably going to be a tough run…


That’s a completely fake smile – I was really dreading the run.

But I made it out and headed to Central Park. I knew that there was a long training run going on and was excited that there would be other crazy people out running in the heat. That always makes me feel better and less strange. And indeed, there were a lot of people.

I decided to run between 8-10 miles, based on how I was feeling. About 3 miles into it, I sensed that 8 miles would be most likely. After I got past Harlem Hill, I started to see the NYRR water stops. Ohh how tempting they looked. I watched as runners around me darted to the table, but my guilt won out and I kept on trucking because I hadn’t signed up for the run and felt bad stealing water. Plus, I wasn’t parched yet.

However, by mile 7, I was pretty darn thirsty and I decided to just do it. I grabbed a cup and slinked away with an all too obvious suspicious look on my face. But it was just what I needed. I had finished the Central Park loop and felt okay, so I decided to run the Reservoir loop. Here are my splits…

I was completely happy with my splits and average pace. It was super hot by the time I got home and I was dripping with sweat. I refueled with some Gatorade and a banana with peanut butter.

The rest of today has been spent eating, drinking more coffee, cleaning, doing some laundry, standing in front of the air conditioner, and perhaps there was a little nap in there as well (and maybe watching two Sex and the City episodes).

Plans for tonight include a trip to Hoboken with one of my current co-workers to get together with one of our previous co-workers. I am hoping (unrealistically) that maybe it will cool down slightly.

Hope you all are having a good weekend – stay cool!

2011 Boston Marathon Race Recap

Yes, this is the latest race recap ever, but it’s finally posted nonetheless. I always try to write my recaps right after every race, when the memories are the freshest (and rawest). But it is what it is, and this will be a recap a little bit more removed.

I’m going to spare you all the race day lead-up stuff, except to say that I ran and traveled with my friend Lauren and the poor girl did a lot of traveling to get to Boston. But we were together for a lot of it, so that made it better. I will say that we stayed at The Boston Park Plaza and the location was extremely convenient. I got a great deal on Hotwire, so no complaints about the price either (although I did book the room back in May 2009!).

So anyway – we did the whole expo thing the day before and checked out some of the swag, but we were kind of tired. So we bailed early, relaxed at the hotel and then had a nice pasta dinner with some friends. Riding the jam-packed T was an experience that I’d like to soon forget, but I digress.

Anyway – on to race day! It just so happened that our old running coach (not officially our coach, but he helped out the team A LOT) from high school was staying in our hotel two doors away from us! Well, he offered to give us a ride to the start so we wouldn’t have to take the buses at the crack of dawn. Obviously, we accepted this generous offer, and so we got to sleep in a little bit. But still, it was an early morning.

We were up and took care of all our pre-race activities (you know the drill) and then we met up with Jerry (coach). We hopped in the car and away we went to the starting line. We headed straight to the start instead of the Athlete’s Village because we weren’t getting there super early and didn’t need to wait around for hours. We went right to the start area and were thrilled that we got to see the professional men and women start their race. They started a solid half hour before all of us “regular” runners.

As this was going on, Lauren and I were doing some last minute fueling with Gatorade and Gu Chomps. But we cut ourselves off early enough to hit the porta potties by the starting line one last time before line-up.

And then slowly, all the other waves began to line up and my nerves really started kicking in. I was supposed to be in one of the waves before Lauren, but I decided to just start in her Wave and corral so we could run together. As they called our wave to the starting area, we began shedding our “throw-away clothes.” I was rocking a nice Christmas sweater, previously purchase for an ugly holiday sweater party, so I had no qualms about tossing it in the bag. Plus, I read beforehand that all the clothes that are left behind are gathered and donated to the needy. I’m very glad they do that.

So in we went to our corral and started walking up the hill (yes, there is a hill you have to go up to get to the actual starting line) to reach the start. And once we crossed the line, we were officially running The Boston Marathon!!

My first thought during the first mile – “This is  mayhem!!” We were shoulder-to-shoulder and could barely move. There was no way to manuever around anyone, we were just traveling as one large mass. At times, Lauren and I were squished together or pulled apart by the crowd. It was crazy, but there were also SO many people cheering for us on the sidelines. It was so invigorating to have so much support. The first few miles were a little frustrating for me because it felt a little claustrophobic, but our times were pretty good:

Mile 1 – 8:43
Mile 2 – 8:27
Mile 3 – 8:07
Mile 4 – 7:59

However, after that fourth mile, Lauren told me to slow it down. Apparently, that is something which is hard for me to do during the first part of a marathon. I tried, but my speed just kept inching back up.

Mile 5 – 8:18
Mile 6 – 8:16
Mile 7 – 8:10
Mile 8 – 8:25
Mile 9 – 8:20

Just before Mile 10, Lauren told me that she was not feeling good at all and that we needed to really slow down. A few seconds later, we heard people screaming our names and turned to see Lauren’s two sisters and families on the sidelines. They had said they would be closer to mile 12-13, so we were not expecting to see them for a while. We all hopped around and said hello and then we took off again.

But things were not going well for Lauren–she was in pain and it wasn’t easing up.  We started slowing our pace a bit.

Mile 10 – 8:38
Mile 11 – 8:46
Mile 12 – 8:33
Mile 13 – 8:59

By the time we reached the half marathon point, she was not a happy camper. She said something to the effect of “I can’t believe we’re only half way and I feel this bad.” I felt really bad for her because we all know that feeling of pain and the dread of all the miles ahead of you. We continued to slow and I continued to try to help her to push through it.

And while that was going, I was continuing to marvel at the crowds. The Wellesley College girls were absolutely roaring by the time we ran by. It was the loudest screaming I had ever heard in my life. And for a solid 8-10 miles of the race, we must have been near someone who had “Vegas” written on their shirt because that’s all we heard was “Let’s go Vegas, Come on Vegas.” I tried to find the person, but couldn’t spot him/her anywhere around us.

Mile 14 – 8:51

Just after mile 14, Lauren said she had to go to the bathroom. In our previous races, we took water or Gatorade every two miles after about the 4th mile, but in this race we seemed to be taking water almost every mile, which I think was a little too much. We ran about another half mile and then she spotted a porta-potty and I stood off the side waiting.

Mile 15 – 9:40

After she came out, we started running again. But no long after she started experiencing a tight pain in the back of her leg. Finally, she told me that she was going to have to stop. I thought about it for a minute and realized that if I stopped again, I might not start back up. I was feeling some pain and wasn’t sure I could continue running once I took another break. I felt awful and did not want to leave Lauren. But in races sometimes, there comes a point where you and your running buddy have to make that decision. She told me she would be fine and to go. I decided that continuing on was my only option.

Mile 16 – 8:37
Mile 17 – 9:43

I said goodbye to Lauren, we made a plan for where to meet-up afterwards, I wished her good luck and I kept running. I felt awful as I left her behind, but I knew that I had to press on.

I was a little lonely running it alone, but the crowds around me were amazing. They really kept me going.

Mile 18 – 9:24
Mile 19 – 8:41
Mile 20 – 9:11

Once I hit Mile 20, I knew that there were supposed to be some major hills coming up, so I prepared myself. We started to incline and I pushed myself a little hard.

Mile 21 – 9:33
Mile 22 – 9:09
Mile 23 – 8:56

And then just like, I was passing Boston College and seeing  a sign that said it was all down-hill from there. I was so confused. The big hills I had been dreading weren’t that big at all. They were more like rolling hills . I guess having done my training in runs in Central Park on those rolling hills really paid off. I was thrilled that the homestretch was ahead of me. Just three more miles.

Mile 24 – 9:25

By the last two miles, my feet were on fire, I could feel a gigantic blister on my toe and my legs were heavy and dragging. But then as we got closer into the city, the crowds became even more intense if that is possible. It was so awesome. I looked around and took it all in.

Mile 25 – 9:19

As I got closer to the finish, I noticed that if I pushed just a bit, I could make it in under 4 hours. So I pushed and pushed ahead.

Mile 26 – 9:03
.43 (I ran it a little longer) – 3:40

For a grand finish of: 3:53:08!!

Hurray!! I ran the Boston Marathon and finished in under 4 hours! It was such an amazing feeling to finish that race. I can’t even explain it. I immediately called my husband (I had my phone around my waist in my SpiBelt) to tell him the good news. I also told him about Lauren. He was checking our status online and kept refreshing the screen until he finally saw that Lauren finished as well! I felt so relieved.

I made it through the thousands of people, got some food and snacks and then headed to our hotel to our meeting spot. After we took a quick shower at the hotel, we were then on our way back to the train station to head out. I limped my way to the station (I had an utterly nasty blister), and proceeded to eat an entire Snickers bar Lauren gave me. We made our way onto the train and back to NYC, and FINALLY up to my apartment where we crashed HARD.

All in all, it was an amazing race. The hype is well-deserved. Having only run smallish marathons in the past, the Boston Marathon was completely overwhelming and exciting and something that I will NEVER forget. I doubt I’ll ever make it back there, now that the qualifying times are changing. But that’s alright with me. Once was enough-it was a run I will cherish forever.

Sunday Football and Food

So this post is a little bit late, but here it is anyway. Sunday was an uber productive day for me. After the race on Saturday, I pretty much just vegged. So Sunday was go time.

I started the day with a nice breakfast….

Then I cleaned the apartment from top to bottom while jamming out to the music channel (Party station). I finished cleaning in decent time, so then I thought I’d try bringing our laundry to the laundry mat. Usually Hubby brings the giant bag over because there’s so much laundry between the two of us, I can barely carry it. But I only packed the essential stuff to wash and waddled myself over there with our giant bag.

I was feeling pretty darn proud of myself as I loaded the clothes into the washers. However, the feeling quickly turned to utter embarrassment when I realized the machine to refill the wash card only accepted cash and I only had my credit card. I stood for a moment contemplating my options and then reluctantly took all our clothes out of the washers, repacked the bag and trudged back home. At first I was just embarrassed and then it quickly turned to annoyance and then anger at myself and the laundry mat. I huffed and puffed around the apartment and cursed our broken dryer in the basement. Then I cursed the guy who was supposed to get it fixed. And finally I decided I needed to go for a run.

I threw on some warm running clothes and headed out in the 20-degree weather. And you know what, within the first half mile I felt better. I was releasing my tension and anger and working through the issue as I ran. I ran a short three miles along the East River and headed home. And when I entered our apartment, it was like I was a new person.

Do you ever use running as a source of therapy or stress relief?

So instead of pouting, I ran out to the store to get a few things I needed to make dinner. Hubby was away for the weekend and requested “something snacky” for dinner. We had planned to watch the Steelers vs. Jets game at night because Hubby is a HUGE Steelers fan.

So I made a veggie platter to snack on, along with some tostitoes and salsa.

And then I made a Broccoli and Cheese Soup adapted from this Cooking Light recipe.

Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Total: 33 minutes
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups)

Ingredients
1  cup  chopped onion
2  garlic cloves, minced
3  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1  (16-ounce) package broccoli florets
2 1/2  cups  2% reduced-fat  skim milk
1/3  cup  all-purpose flour  wheat flour
1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
8  ounces  light processed cheese, cubed

Preparation
Heat a large nonstick saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Add broth and broccoli. Bring broccoli mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes.

Combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add milk mixture to broccoli mixture. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Stir in pepper. Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until cheese melts.

It’s not the lightest soup ever, but it was delicious! I won’t make that everyday, but on a cold winter night, it was just perfect.

And while eating dinner, we watched the Steelers kick butt and secure their spot in the Superbowl!