The Great Bay Half Marathon 2012

I just ran my first half marathon on the East Coast!  Last year when I was training for the Eugene Marathon, I worked the Race for the Roses Half Marathon into my training schedule and I PR’d for the first time in YEARS!  I had pretty high hopes for this race because I knew that my confidence with the 13 mile distance during marathon training had the potential to lead to a great half.  Unfortunately, the race website refers to the “roller coaster hills,” but never says “WARNING: THIS COURSE IS SO HILLY YOU WILL DIE.”  So I had some unrealistic expectations going into this race.

So here is my mile-by-mile race recap:

Pre-race: I picked Julia up around 8:45am at her apartment.  I know, 8:45am!  So luxurious.  Most races are almost over by then.  This race started at 11am, which is good because it was pretty freezing out at 7am.  We drove the hour and 20 minutes to Newmarket, New Hampshire, which is a small rural area near the coast.  I was feeling really prepared.  I think I brought everything I own related to running in the car… OH SHOOT!! Except my GARMIN!!! Which I didn’t realize I had forgotten until we were halfway there.  At this point I had a minor almost crying panic attack.  Not because I NEED my Garmin to race, but because I had spent my ENTIRE day at work on Friday (so busy at work these days!) reading about a new pacing strategy I was going to try.

We got to the parking area and got on the race shuttle to the start without any problem.  Of course, the bathroom lines were SUPER long, so Julia and I grabbed some paper towels and headed out to the woods!

At this point I hadn’t taken the time to calmly think through a new race strategy and I got a little caught up in Julia’s race strategy.  She was planning to stick to the 8:00 pacer they had running the race and just try to hold on.  So I thought, YEAH, I can just hold onto a pacer.  WTF was I thinking (you may notice below that my lovely running partner is about 20 feet taller than me)!! I decided to start with the 8:30 pacer.

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Miles 1-4: I started with the 8:30 pacer, but then I felt comfortable going a little faster, so I just decided to go a little in front of him… and then I didn’t know where he was.  And then I knew I was an idiot because I had gone out too fast.  My whole plan I had developed on Friday at work was to go out super comfortable like a 9 or 9:30 pace and then push at the halfway point or later.  I had wanted to try this because I always always go out too fast in a race and then die and all running literature/scientific studies show that this is the worst race strategy ever for having a good time.  So pretty much my plan went in the crapper.  I started getting really nervous about the moment when the 8:30 guy would pass me.  I was worried it would really mess with my head and I would feel like walking or slowing down a lot if I felt really defeated.  And then it happened.  at around mile 4.5 the 8:30 pacer passed me… and I dropped off immediately.  Cool.

Miles 5-9: I kept trudging along.  The course was ridiculous.  The hills NEVER EVER STOPPED.  I mean, this course was 100% rolling hills with some enormous hills dispersed throughout.  I got my iPod out when the 8:30 pacer passed me so that I could get the negativity out of my head.  I’ve been reading a blog by a woman training for a 50 mile race and she recently discussed the ebbs and flows of a race/training run and the importance of letting yourself believe that the bad times in a run or race will pass.  It is so easy to struggle and immediately give in to the race just being “a bad race.”  But really that hard time could just last for 2 miles if you decide to let it pass.  So I tried really hard to just accept the struggle and not let it dictate the rest of my race.  I also started thinking about this saying that I had seen on Pinterest: image

I walked up the killer hills and I took an espresso GU at mile 6.3.  PS… espresso GU is delicious!!! Coffee frosting in a pouch!  I decided to try GU out today because I had a SUPER hard time getting myself to chew on anything during our 20 mile training run and I ended up really suffering during that run.

Mile 9-12: Did I say I liked that GU?  WTF was I thinking trying that out today??!! That was all I could think as the promised 2X caffeine in the espresso GU went rolling through my stomach.  My portapotty radar turned on and I started feeling really angry that this was actually happening to me during a race.  The 9:00 pacer passed me around mile 9 and told me he was on pace.  I thought I would tag onto the group running with him, but then I just didn’t.  All I could think about was my stomach.  But then I realized I was still running pretty strong for such a hilly course, and he didn’t get tooooo far in front of me.

I passed the portapotty at mile 9.75 thinking I was okay for now and there would be another one soon.  IDIOT!!!  I spent the next 2 miles scanning the bare trees to see if any of them had a trunk wide enough to conceal my bare bottom.  No such luck.  So I did the penguin shuffle for 2 miles and continued to scan each rock, bush, and house to see if there was any sign of a bathroom area for me.  I also considered for a good 5 minutes the diaper capacity of my running skirt.  Conclusion: I would really rather not try that today.  So there I was at mile 12.25 (SO CLOSE TO THE FINISH!!) and I went into that portapotty.  In hindsight, if I had my Garmin on and knew how close I was to breaking 2 hours I would not have gone to the bathroom.

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Miles 12-13.1:  Even though I had a struggle in the middle of the race, I don’t think I have ever felt so strong in a race from mile 10-13.  My legs felt pretty great considering how hard the course was.  I realized that during the last mile and I felt pretty proud of myself for having a positive thought.  lol.  I also felt a lot better because I went to the bathroom, I guess.  I ran a strong finish and I started kicking pretty darn early.  I was SHOCKED when I saw the race clock ahead of me said 2:01 something.  I immediately felt proud of my race and super angry about every moment I had spent in the bathroom or slowing down at all that had kept me from breaking 2 hours.  If only I had known, I swear I would have kicked earlier.  Think about the damage I could have done on a flat course.  I know I would have PR’d.  So I finished in 2:01:32.  I felt like crying for a good 15 minutes for some reason.  I was so mad at myself for not following my race plan.  I really want to know how I would do if I started out slow.  I guess I am still young, so I have plenty of time to work on new race plans.

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Julia PR’d by like 11 minutes or something and finished in 1:46.  WTF!!!! Why do I train with her!!??  I liked this race, I’m glad I did it, I will never do it again.  WHY would you ever run such a hilly course?  not cool.  Next weekend I’ll be running 22 miles with that speedster.

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Chickpea pasta sauce

There are two ways to stand in line at the grocery store:

1. Let your anxiety and impatience build up as you scrutinize every move that the customer or cashier make.  “What the… who pays with checks anymore?!”

OR

2. Realize that you have nothing to do with the things going on in front of you.  You have just been gifted 2-5 minutes of relaxation.  Set your basket down and chill out.

An hour before dinner time this evening I realized I didn’t have any of the ingredients I needed to make dinner, so I rushed over to Trader Joe’s.  I was feeling a little frantic on my way to the store, but I made the conscious decision to take a chill pill when I got to the store.  I felt my irritation building when I saw 4 people in the express line at checkout, but I reminded myself that I would prefer to have a #2 experience, rather than a #1 (mega Bee-otch) experience.  And look how I was rewarded…

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I LOVE Peonies.  They were right next to me, so I just stared at them until it was my turn to swipe my credit  card.

Down to business…

BEST pasta sauce ever.  Make this tomorrow.  Not tonight.  I don’t want to stress anyone out!

I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, but I have changed it a little bit, too.

Chickpea Sauce!

Makes enough for Hungry Hungry Brendan and Kaetlin… or 3 normal people.

Ingredients:

olive oil

1 medium onion sliced

3 cloves garlic coarsely chopped

4 oz. turkey bacon diced (I use Trader Joe’s peppered)

Dried or fresh basil

1 14oz. can diced tomatoes

1 15oz. can garbanzo beans

1/2 cup chicken broth

Directions:

Begin by sautéing the onions and garlic in olive oil (2 turns of the pan… lol do I sound like Rachael Ray!?) over medium-high heat.  When they start to get soft, add the diced turkey bacon and a good 7-10 shakes of the dried basil (or add your fresh basil).  Also add salt to taste ( don’t actually taste it).  Give these ingredients some time to cook together until the onions are gorgeously translucent and your house smells like Italy, or until your eyes stop burning from the onions.

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Continue to watch and stir unless the only “me time” you get during the day is while your significant other does the dishes.  In that case, let them stick to the bottom and burn a little.  It will still taste fine.

Then add the diced tomatoes.  You can also put 1/2 cup of the garbanzo beans into the pot, but pour the rest of the can into the food processor.

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I add a good amount of the sauce in there, too, because Brendan doesn’t like chunky tomatoes, but it is fine either way.  Add the chicken broth in there with the garbanzos, blend it to a nice chunky puree, and then add it back into the sauce.

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Let it simmer for 20 to 30 minutes uncovered for best results, but it will be just fine if you are too hungry to wait that long.

We had this with quinoa linguine and an arugula strawberry summer salad, but this sauce is also excellent served with eggs, by itself, or with bread…

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My pictures are kind of blurry, but you get the idea.  I’m not a food blogger, remember!!


Food Blogger?

There is no way I could be a food blogger.  It isn’t that I can’t cook.  I can.  It isn’t that I don’t love food blogs.  I HEART them.  The big problem is really that good food bloggers are always AMAZING photographers.  Let’s face it.  Point n’ shoot cameras kinda suck at capturing the deliciousness of food. 

My favorite food blog is Smitten Kitchen.  I went through a phase where I cooked one of her recipes pretty much every other night for a few weeks.  Delish, but it is hard for me to find recipes on fancy food blogs that aren’t completely intimidating.

When I have a specific ingredient that I want to use or a certain kind of recipe I am looking for, I always go to Foodgawker.  I really love just clicking through page after page on FG even when I’m not looking for something.  It is really inspiring.  It has also made me super aware of food trends.  You know something’s up when there are 3 “cake in a jar” recipes each day for a month.

I can sometimes just spend hours clicking from one food blog to the next, but the blog recipes that get put to use the most in my kitchen are from healthy living blogs.  I have tried a few Crockpot recipes from PBfingers and I often try salad ideas from CarrotsNCake and HealthyTippingPoint.  However, my FAVORITE blog recipe is definitely the flourless cookie recipe I found on CarrotsNCake

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Makes 6 cookies

Ingredients:

3/4 cup Old Fashioned Oats

1/2 tsp. Baking Powder

2 Tbs. Brown Sugar

1/4 cup Natural Peanut Butter (creamy or crunchy)

1/4 cup Egg Whites

1/4 cup Chocolate Chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Mix together first three ingredients.  Add remaining ingredients and combine.  Have a taste!! yum.  Spoon 6 heaping tablespoons onto a cookie sheet.  No need to grease.  Bake for 8-10 minutes depending on your oven. 

Best enjoyed with a friend, or a movie, or ice cream, or straight off the sheet! 

I topped mine with 3 marshmallows each just for fun one night, but they are perfect without them. 

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Brendan and I have these about three times a week, or whenever we don’t go out for ice cream.  I love that the recipe only requires a bowl, measuring spoons, and the 1/4 cup measuring cup.  It makes clean-up way better, but it also makes it really easy to memorize the recipe.  I forced Brendan to memorize it early in my obsession with the recipe in hopes that he would want to make them for me.  Too bad I always start making them before he even feels like dessert! 

Try them!