Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gobble Gobble!

I’m sitting here in front of the Macy’s Day Parade recovering from my 5-mile Turkey Trot with a cup of roiboos tea, slightly procrastinating the cooking of the Great Meal. It was cold like back east this morning (35 degrees at 6am!) – we had ice on the windshield and had to sit with defrost on for 5 minutes since who has a ice scraper in San Diego?! Anyway, I managed to eek out my goal of breaking 39:00 – I finished 38:50 give or take a few seconds (that my unofficial Garmin time). I was bargaining with myself around mile 3 that breaking 40:00 would be ok, but at mile 4 I realized that if I ran under 8:00 for the last mile, I might be able to get in under 39.

On the menu for my most favorite-est holiday (seriously, I get to run a race, hang out with my family, cook, eat and drink vino/beer to my heart’s content), is the best stuffing recipe eva. It involves chestnut, prune, and pancetta stuffing. But I don’t get pancetta because it is the Prada of bacon (like $10+ pound). But the Coach of bacon is good enough (I got center cut). My dad usually is my sous chef but he is sick so rather than him be Typhoid Moe I’ll have to recruit different help this year.

Zee Menu:

Turkey, of course. A little 10 pound free-range one from Henry’s.

Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

Chestnut, Prune, and Pancetta Stuffing

Parmesan-Roasted Butternut Squash

Skillet Greens with Crispy Shallots and Cider Gastrique

And some pre-bought desserts from Fresh & Easy.

That’s all folks! Gotta go cook now (and drink some vino!). Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Death And Taxes

You know that saying “nothing is certain except death and taxes”?  I think I might change it to “nothing is certain except Hispanic and religious radio stations.” Did you ever notice that? That you can be driving in a wasteland of sorts with no cell coverage from any carrier yet you can find one or seventeen Hispanic and/or religious radio stations coming in loud and clear?

I have a feeling if I were stranded on Antarctica with two radios, I would be able to listen about the Wrath of God with mariachi music in the background.

I have always had a long commute (save for two short stints in 2001 and 2008). The craziest of commutes was about 45 minutes through a mountain road that wore down the tread in nearly new tires in just 25,000 miles. Alternate routes home were an additional 30-45 minutes, so, it was the best option if I wanted to not live my life in my car.

We were living in the First Place Gold Medal Winner of Real Estate Implosion (i.e. Inland Empire). I still remember that when we were in escrow for that house in 2004; I had to go to the inspection on my lunch break and had yet to drive the mountain route (we had taken the freeway from points north during the house hunt).

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Holy White-Knuckled Ride, Batman. What the hell did I get myself into? I voluntarily signed up (or rather, took out 400K of mortgage debt) to do a twice-a-day Dance with Death involving driving 55 mph (to keep up with traffic that rides your ass if you don’t and turn offs are sporadic), around hairpin turns, some places without guardrails, some points with 1000+ foot cliffs. And in the dark from November through March. I was freaking out some (I ended up getting use to it well enough since I am here writing this, alive).

Anyway, this two-lane road is in the middle of nowhere (well, in the middle of the Cleveland National Forest). It goes up to 2600 feet and curly-cues back down to about 1300 feet. When there is an accident that blocks the road, you are stuck. Like turn off your engine and get the blanket out of the back to keep warm while you wait. There is no cell service for sizeable stretches. Not even Verizon could hear me now. Hit the scan button for radio stations there was only Hispanic and Christian radio stations coming in clearly. Therefore, I declare a new phrase “Nothing is certain except Hispanic and Christian radio stations.”

Running

I ran 10 miles yesterday and at mile 6 I had a Seth Myers moment asking myself “Really?” as I stopped to take a 30 second walk break. I don’t know, maybe that full bottle of prosecco the day before had something to do with it. But it hit me out of nowhere, the need to just walk. I preemptively ate another clif blok, drank more diluted Gatorade, and had a full on debate with myself about how it was really not a good idea to cut the run down (again) to 8 (after I had planned 12 and reasoned 10 was good enough before I started). I somehow managed to salvage the run and finished up two damn hills with an average pace of 8:56. Splits were all over the place, but, hey, I got ‘er done.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I’ve Finally Done It

I’ve fallen off the Etsy cliff. I’ve done opened myself a “store” to hock my crocheted (and nailed/glued soon to be constructed) items.

Some of the “thingies” I’ve completed and you should totally buy [wink, wink]:

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It’s supposed to rain here this weekend – I’m hoping we’ll have one morning rain-free so I can get my 12 miles in. I have no desire to do 12 on a treadmill at the Y! (I know I can run in the rain and won’t melt, but then I have to get a poncho and/or run without music which on long runs is not ideal).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Snow Canyon Half Marathon: A PR You’ll Pay For…

…in the form of ridiculously sore quads, calves, and achilles. Would I do it again? Yes. Does it feel like cheating? Kind of.

I have failed to download my splits as of late, and rather than put of writing up my little blog post about it just to have my mile splits up, I am just doing it. ([in Govenor Aaaahnold accent] “Ya. Just do it. Pump da ion.”) I do remember though that miles 12 and 13 were a miserable experience with 9:02 and 9:07 miles. Miles 1,9, 10, and 11, were in the 8’s. Mile 2,3,4,5,6,7, and 8 were in the 7’s thanks to the downhill. But if you don’t train for the downhill? It’ll bite you in the ass. For me around mile 11 or so, my legs started questioning why they were still attached to my body seeing as I was beating the living hell out of them. For the first time since Surf City in Feb, I took 3 walking breaks. Albeit, very short – like 10-20 seconds each, but I was hurting. So while you might get a fast time and a PR doing a downhill race, it is not necessarily easy. And I was sore through Wednesday. I still have some lingering soreness in my calves and achilles. Knees faired surprisingly well. Maybe because my quads and calves took the brunt of it.

I ended up finishing 1:47:18 which was entirely unexpected. Could I do this on a regular course? I’m not so sure. I think I can probably break 1:50:00 on a good day on a normal course, but not sure about the 1:47’s. Which is why I feel like it’s kind of cheating. But in my future quest to BQ who knows how many years from now, you can bet your butt it’ll be at the St. George Marathon.  I need all the help I can get.

Some race pics:

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I really liked this race. It was very cheap ($35), you get a cheesy little medal and technical tee (which is too big for me) but for that price point, you can’t  expect Rock ‘n Roll quality medals/tees. It was well-organized with the busses but could have used more porta-potties at the start (I was on the first bus up the mountain so I avoided the potty line entirely). The scenery is beautiful and interesting and it entirely paved. There was lots of food goodies at the finish, the runners in Utah were super-nice and friendly, it was chip-timed, there was GU (which I didn’t use but some people rely on the race having it), etc. For the money, you can’t really beat it. It was also interesting running with the Southern Utah locals who are clearly accustomed to running downhill. They would fly past me on the down and the second we would hit an incline (and there were some ups), they would slow down to like 10:00+ pace and I would trot by only to be passed on the down again.

After the race we drove over to Zion National Park and camped at the Watchman Campground for two nights.

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 IMG_1894 (Still wearing my compression sleeves in a futile attempt to reduce the upcoming soreness. I walked around like Frankenstein (“Puttin’ on the RITZ!!!”) all of Monday)

The park is awesome and way better than I expected. I wish we had a couple more days there. We will have to go back for sure, because the hikes were beautiful and totally doable in a day. And we had three fawns that stumbled into the bushes of our campsite chewing on vegetation who seemed as freaked out to see us as we did them. First time I’ve had a wild deer about 10 feet away.

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(This is the trail to Observation Point which we did the day after the race. 8 miles round trip, 2148 feet elevation gain. The climb up was fine. The walk down was brutal for me.)

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There are only two small bummers about the park: (1) if you camp in the park, there are no showers. You have to buy a shower at another place which has unpublished, irregular hours. So we didn’t shower for more than 48 hours because the place (Zion Rock & Mountain Guide) you could supposedly buy shower time from for $5 from was never open, (2) T-Mobile has no in-network coverage (and possibly other carriers don’t either) so you will be “roaming” and we know what cell roaming does to the wallet.  I realized after I don’t know how many KBs of slow data usage that we were, in-fact, roaming (I had to look at a separate settings screen to figure it out [smacks heel of hand into forehead]).

At this point, I only have one future half marathon I am officially registered for and that is the Safari Park Half Marathon in March. I do have lots of other floating around in my head, though, including Highland YMCA Half Marathon, Southern California Half Marathon, Palm Springs Half Marathon, Arizona Distance Classic, LA County Half Marathon, La Jolla Half Marathon, etc. Decisions, decisions. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Two “Yutes”

We are heading to Yute-ah tomorrow morning and I had deluded myself into thinking the drive was like 6 hours but, really, is closer to 7. I am running the Snow Canyon Half Marathon on Saturday morning which is supposed to be  scenic with the red rock and such. I was lured in by how downhill the course is, but now I’ m apologizing to my knees in advance. Look at this shite:

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Miles 3-6 are a bit on the WTF side. 8% grade at one point. Um. What in theee hell was I thinking? I have run some steep hills before, both up an down, but generally the length of the steep hills is not long. I feel like 8% is kind of a lot. No? Well, I just mapped a hill around my house and I am good with like 6-7%. But not for 3 solid miles.

After that we are headed to Zion National Park where we will be “roughing it” in a tent at a campground with flushable toilets but no showers. Shower option is to go outside the park to a commercial/private campground and pay $5. Holy Expensive Shower. But considering the camp site is $18 a night – we’re saving some dough and I’m hoping to get by on just one paid shower in two days. Stinky much?

I’m not sure what to expect of St. George. An anecdote from a co-worker’s buddy who owned a house there was that if he had two houses – a house in Hell an a house in St. George – and had to sell one, he’d sell the house in St. George. Doesn’t sound like a glowing review of the city. Nevermind an abundance of cheap-ass lodging (and I mean cheap, like $35-50 a night). I hope it’s at least scenic to overcome what will probably be a stay at a dilapidated, dated motel.

But most importantly – they have a Cracker Barrel!!! I have a not-so-secret love affair with Cracker Barrel. Love, love, love it. I don’t care if some consider it just a hair above Dennys quality and the food is artery-clogging unhealthy. I still want to marry it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hallo-weiner

Because I am the Queen of Holiday Decoration Procrastination, I spent Saturday evening carving up a storm and roasting seeds. I got two pumpkins 2+ weeks ago from Fresh & Easy (2 for $5!) and I finally got around the doing ‘em up this weekend.

We hunted around online for some cool free carving stencils and the only ones I really liked cost $1 each. I am too cheap for that, plus I am a decent copy-cat pencil artist. Give me a drawing and I can generally replicate it pretty well.

I finished this one quickly – like 20 minutes.

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This guy, was my piece d’ resistance. As soon as I got the idea of carving an owl, I couldn’t consider any others. It took an hour or so to do. My owl on a creepy tree branch:

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We harvested the seeds from the pumpkin and made Sweet & Spicy Roasted Seeds, and Curried Roasted seeds from this recipe. Sooo good. Addictive! At least I’m getting my daily fiber. But my jaws are kinda tired from the chewing. I feel like a cow chewing cud or something.

For the Trick or Treaters, we ended up camping out with the neighbors in their driveway watching the Steelers game. So, at times, certain kids didn’t realize there were two families in one driveway even when the other person would hold out candy – they were oblivious once the got the first treat. Other kids were totally on to it and would go down the line to all the adults (even those without candy) trying to maximize their haul. I am guessing we got 200-300 kids. A house down the street does a crazy haunted yard thing and apparently there was a 5-10 minute line to go in. When I say my neighborhood is crazy about holiday decorations, I am not exaggerating. We even had ah-hoc fireworks. Really.

Running shtuff – I did 10 miles on Saturday, 1:29:39. I had wanted to do 11-12 but when I got to 5, I knew it was not my day. We had rain in the morning so I didn’t get out until 9:45am and then it got hot, fast. So, I accepted the 10 and hopefully it’ll be enough for this Saturday’s race. My last long run was Long Beach – which means 3 weeks time between my longest run and race day. Two weeks is better. Hoping that won’t bite me in the ass. If I survive Death by Political Robocall. Martin Sheen called me at 9am Sunday morning. I hung up before I could hear what he was calling about.