Snow Day

December 26, 2010 at 5:11 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I got off of work today 2 and 1/2 hours early because of the incoming snow storm!  On the one hand I’m excited that I don’t have to spend the night at work (like I did last year for one of the monster storms), but I am really not looking forward to the full day of shoveling I have awaiting me tomorrow.  I enjoy working outdoors when there is a peaceful inch or two of snow, but if we get a foot like they are predicting, it is going to be a mess.   Good thing I bedded down the little dudes with extra straw.

 

so precious

 

 

So how was everyone’s holiday?  I drove down to Virginia and celebrated Christmas on the 22nd with my family.   Here are some of my favorite things that I received:

Le Creuset dutch oven!

Yaktrax! They snap right onto your shoes and give you better traction on snow or ice. They even glow in the dark ;)

A toothbrush sanitizer! I am a total freak about germs so I absolutely love this. It zaps your toothbrush with a UV light killing 99% of bacteria including salmonella, E. coli , and strep!

Cute nesting flower measuring cups.

The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life- I read it in one day. A rolling-pin.

I asked for a rolling-pin because I don’t own one.  When my mom and I were out shopping before Christmas, we found a new rolling-pin at Williams Sonoma that had different bands so that you could adjust the thickness and roll consistently even dough.  We decided to make that new pin the one we use to make Christmas cookies every year and I took this old one.  The old pin had been used by my mom and I for as long as I can remember, but she just told me this year that it actually once belonged to my dad’s mom.  She died when I was about 2, so it’s kind of cool to have something of hers.  Plus it brings up memories of me and my mom baking together :)

My brother and his girlfriend made homemade vanilla extract! Well, she made it and he made the label for it ;) She used whole vanilla beans and soaked them in different alcohols for a couple of months. She left out the corn syrup that is added to most commercial extracts and you can see the vanilla flecks floating in it!

lululemon yoga mat strap

I drove back to Philly on the 24th to work the afternoon holiday shift.  And then I worked on Christmas morning.  After work I went for a hike off of Forbidden Drive.  There was no snow on the ground at this point- I’ll have to test my Yaktrax some other time!

 

going up...

 

 

at the top...

 

 

 

and back down again

 

 

nerd!

 

 

At one point the path turned in to an obstacle course. Yeah, I hurdled it ;)

 

 

The only covered bridge in a major U.S. city. Yes, technically, it is within Philadelphia limits. So picturesque.

 

After my hike I went over to a friend’s house for Christmas dinner.  She was kind enough to invite me to join her family so that I wasn’t all alone in my apartment.

How was your holiday?

 

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Blog Slump

December 16, 2010 at 9:03 pm (Uncategorized)

I just haven’t felt like blogging lately.  So I haven’t.  It’s equal parts not having much exciting to talk about and the usual holiday craziness.

Last night was my work place’s end-of-year party.  I punked out and didn’t go.  I for some reason had it in my head that I was leaving for Virginia earlier than was actually the case, so I never RSVP’d.  No matter, I was kind of glad to stay home.  It was way too damned cold to try to dress cute and go out anyway.

Boys suck. No really, they do.  At least the ones that I find.  Dear Santa, please fix this.  Thank you, Kelly.

I am flippin’ excited to go vegan on January 1st! After gradually eliminating one animal product after the other from my diet over the years, I am finally ready to do it all the way.  So why wait til then you ask?  Because I’m a weirdo and like the idea of my veg-iversary being on 1-1-11. ;)  Unfortunately, this has given me the feeling of “you only have a couple weeks left to eat your favorite non-vegan things” and so I have been eating like crap.  But I’ve also been reading up, learning, and preparing myself for this lifestyle change.  I’m hoping for a couple of great things for Christmas such as:

Okay, so I actually know I will be getting this.  My dad slipped up and asked me “So how are you liking your new How It All Vegan cookbook?” last time I went home.  Meanwhile my mom was shooting him a “Shut up, it’s a Christmas present and I haven’t given it to her yet” look. Haha, good one dad.  (I already have most of their other cookbooks, but have yet to get this one).

And:

and perhaps most awesomely:

On a completely different topic… is anybody else watching the Sing Off? Nerd alert:  my friends and I were semi-obsessed with a cappella  groups in college.  We even made weekend trips out of going to see the groups from nearby schools perform (the Hullabahoos, an all male group from UVA, were our absolute favorites).

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Foodies

December 6, 2010 at 10:23 pm (Uncategorized)

I have a fun discovery to share with my Philly readers.  Maybe I am late to the game, but did you guys know that there is a show on NBC called Foodies?  It is a half hour long show airing weekdays at 9pm (or 2:30, 5, or 6 am).  In each episode the host, Tim Furlong, highlights several restaurants/cafes/bars in a particular area of Philadelphia.  So far I have seen episodes on Olde City, Rittenhouse Square, Northern Liberties, Manayunk, Chestnut Hill, and Conshohocken.  I keep a list of restaurants I want to try, and now that list is much longer.  (National Mechanics for their legendary veggie burger anyone?)

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Hot Yoga

November 30, 2010 at 6:58 pm (Uncategorized)

Hey bloggies, I need some advice.  I am trying to decide whether I should purchase today’s Groupon. It is for 10 classes of hot yoga at Dana Hot Yoga in Bala Cynwyd and only costs $39 (regular price is $120!).  I love yoga, but I hate being hot.  I’m not kidding, I REALLY hate it.  So, I’ve never tried hot yoga.  And yet I hear so much about it that it sort of intrigues me.  Have any of you done hot yoga?  Any advice?  Am I going to feel like I’m about to pass out the entire time?  Anyone want to do it with me?

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Thanksgiving In Virginia

November 27, 2010 at 11:45 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

I drove down to my parents’ house in Virginia on Wednesday morning.  I have to drive back up to Philly today- boo!  It’s been so nice to be home.  My mom made me an awesome espresso when I woke up this morning and my dad is currently out in the driveway washing my car in the cold.  What a lucky girl!

In the past few days there has been a lot of movie watching.  Pre-Thanksgiving I don’t want to start watching Christmas movies yet, so we went with some of our favorite comedies- Napolean Dynamite and Best in Show. Napoleon Dynamite is one of those polarizing movies- you either love it or you hate it.  We love it.  Totally my sense of humor.  And Best in Show is just plain hilarious.  With a cast including Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey, Christopher Guest, Jennifer Coolidge, and Jane Lynch, it’s hard to go wrong.  After dinner on Thanksgiving, the official start to the holiday season in my opinion, we watched another favorite- Love Actually. I’ve probably seen it 10 times and it never get’s old.

Thanksgiving was just the four of us (‘rents, me, and the bro-ski).  I have the world’s smallest family.  My mom and I did all the cooking.  All I need is cranberry-orange relish, some stuffing, and my super amazing sweet potato casserole to be happy.  Oh and I had some fresh green beans too.  This was my first official vegetarian Thanksgiving, although I was never a big fan of the turkey anyway and so there were many years I just didn’t eat it.

Let’s face it, it’s all about the dessert for this girl.  We made a pecan pie and this scrumptious pumpkin roulade with ginger buttercream.

mmmm...

I will definitely need to work on a veganized version of this for next year.  Here’s the recipe (from Ina Garten):

Pumpkin Roulade with Ginger Buttercream

cake ingredients:

3/4 c. flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp kosher salt

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 c. sugar

3/4 c. plain canned pumpkin

1/4 c. confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for dusting

Filling ingredients:

12 oz. Italian mascarpone cheese

1 1/4 c. sifted confectioners’ sugar

2 T heavy cream

1/4 c. chopped crystalized ginger

pinch of kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 13×8″ sheet pan.  Line the greased pan with parchment paper and then grease and flour the paper.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.  Stir to combine.  Place the eggs and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light yellow and thickened.  With the mixer on low, add the pumpkin, then slowly add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.  Finish mixing the batter by hand with a rubber spatula.  Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the top springs back when gently touched.

While the cake is baking, lay out a piece of parchment paper the size of the cake and sift 1/4 c. confectioners’ sugar evenly over it.  As soon as you remove the cake from the oven, loosen it around the edges and invert it onto the prepared surface.  Peel away the paper that it was baked with.  With a light touch, roll the warm cake and the new sheet of paper together (don’t press!) starting at the short end.  Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the filling.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the mascarpone, confectioners’ sugar, and cream together for about a minute, until light and fluffy,  Stir in the crystallized ginger and salt.

To assemble, carefully unroll the cake and spread it evenly with the filling.  Re-roll the cake while peeling away the parchment paper.  Transfer to a serving platter, cut the ends to make a neat edge, and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

It’s a slightly complicated recipe to get right, but it’s worth it!

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My 2nd Half Marathon

November 23, 2010 at 7:21 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Let’s start at the beginning…

  • The night before: ate too much.  Not good.
  • Race morning: woke up at 4:00 am!  I like to have time to eat, hydrate, digest, and relax.  As soon as I woke up I ate a Clif bar and drank half a cup of coffee.  After that, I guzzled water until about 5:00- then no more.
  • Left my condo at 5:30 to drive myself a little closer to the race (I live a few miles from the start).  I parked my car in the same place I did last year and walked the remaining 1.25 miles to the start.  I had a banana that I had intended to eat at this point, but my stomach was still feeling too full from the night before, so I skipped it.  it ended up being the right choice even though normally I’d say just the Clif bar isn’t enough food before a 13.1 mile run.
  • I probably arrived at the race a little after 6am (race to start at 7), so I had about 45 minutes to shed some excess clothing, check my bag, and use the porta-potties.  By the way- ick!  I always stick some hand sanitizer or wipes in my bag.  All those thousands of people using the bathroom without washing their hands seriously grosses me out!
  • There was kind of mass chaos when people started trying to find the corrals.  I admit that I didn’t really study the starting area map ahead of time because I’d done it last year and the corrals were really easy to locate.  The problem this year was that there were just so many people jammed into a small space that you could never really see what you were walking towards.  I found my corral about 5 minutes before the gun went of.  Re-tied my shoes, ditched the gloves, put the earphones in… ready to run!
  • By the way, the yurbuds that I bought at the expo are AMAZING.  Worth every penny.  LOVE.
  • About 23 minutes after the gun went off, I finally made it to the starting line!
  • The first 3 miles went great.  I maintained about a 10:15 pace.  Overall I was hoping to finish with a 10:45 pace (last year I ran the half at 11:09 pace).  So my mini goal was just to get into the 10’s.  My loftier goal was to come in at around 2:15:00 (or a 10:19 mile but I knew this would be a pretty far reach for me since none of my training runs went that well).  I knew I would probably slow down near the end, so I aimed to start a little fast to give myself a time cushion.  This was very different from my plan last year.  Last year was my first half marathon, and I’d heard a lot of horror stories about people going out too fast and then crashing in the last couple of miles.  Afraid of doing that, I held back in the beginning.  But from that first race I learned that for me, it’s better to go out a little fast.  Also, my goal last year was really just to finish and have a good time.
  • I took several pre-planned walk breaks.  I love walk breaks, and I find that they really don’t slow my overall pace down. I’m able to mentally and physically take a short break, and then start back up running feeling a little renewed.  These breaks are also when I drink and fuel.  Here’s what I did:

mile 3-   0.1 mile walk break

mile 5-  0.1 mile walk break, ate a gel

mile 7-  0.2 mile walk break

mile 9-  o.2 mile walk break, ate a gel

mile 11-  0.2 mile walk break

mile 12-  0.1 mile walk break

So all in all, I walked 0.9 miles (and ran 12.4!)

  • I wore a fuel belt with two 8 0z. bottles of water that I dissolved a nuun tablet into.  I swear by nuun. You can read what I think about nuun hereI don’t like dealing with the mayhem at water stations. It’s so great to just run on by that whole jumbled mess and be able to drink when I want to.
  • I felt much less excitement this year.  The crowd support was pretty weak, sometimes non-existent, for a good portion of the race.  Did you guys feel this too?  Where were all the people?  I didn’t have anybody cheering me on either.  That’s what happens when your family lives out-of-state and your friends all work on Sundays :(  Last year my friend Desiree was able to come out and cheer me on.  Seeing her and her sign at the 10 mile marker (yes, after that killer death hill of misery) was such a boost.  But I was less nervous too.  Last year the adrenaline hit me so hard that a few times I felt light-headed and thought I would pass out!
  • Hills.  Oh those hills. The one by the Drexel campus around mile 8 and the one as you enter Fairmount Park around mile 9 are killer.  Thankfully most of the course, with those two exceptions, is flat.  Until you reach the end.  Who loves that incline up West River Drive approaching the art museum right at the end as much as I do? ;)
  • Chafing. When I could already feel the bra burn beginning at mile 5, I knew things would be ugly.  I was right.

ouch

  • Mile 9- I was ready to be done at this point.  A 9 to 11 mile run is a fun challenge for me, anything longer than that and it starts to get really hard.  My average pace was somewhere between 10:30 and 10:45 at this point.  I just kept telling myself to hold on to it!
  • Mile 12- I look at my Garmin and see that it says I have run 12.33 miles, not 12!  This is bad.  I have run a full third of a mile longer than the official race distance. It dawns on me that my 10:45 pace that I have been so happy to hold on to is really going to be slower when calculated for the shorter official race distance.  I start to freak out.  Nooo!  I will be so pissed if my official pace is in the 11 minute range!  I start to really give it my all- I have to do better than last year!
  • The FINISH- I crossed the finish line with a time of 2:22:58 on my watch (and 13.33 miles- boo). I was thinking- Is this good or bad?  How will my 10:44 pace translate to 13.1 miles?  Last year my official time was 2:25:57, so at the very least I shaved a solid 3 minutes of my previous time for a new PR! At the beginning of this year I’d really hoped I’d be running at a 10:00 pace by now, but given all my injuries this time around, I really can’t be too upset with how I did.  I’ll take it :)  UPDATE:  My official chip time was 2:22:53 for a pace of 10:55.  phew, just barely made it to the 10’s!  By the way, does anyone understand how your chip and clock time can be different?
  • Nothing beats your first time.  I had SO much fun last year.  I enjoyed the race this year too, but the excitement just can’t compare.
  • The medals rock- they are so pretty!

  • I totally hit up the free massage tent this year.  Did anyone else get one?  The line moved kind of slow but it was because the messages lasted for what seemed like about 20 minutes.  My masseuse was named Brandi and she was hard-core.  I swear she was using the full weight of her body to drill her pointy elbow into my sore muscles.  I almost screamed a couple of times.  No lies.  Parts of the massage did feel really good.  She told me she was finishing massage school and wanted to become a full-time sports masseuse because us athletes need her services more than people in a spa do.  I couldn’t agree more at that moment!

  • After the race, I walked (read: hobbled) back along Kelly Drive towards my car.  I sat down in the grass across the street from Boathouse Row for about an hour watching the marathoners finish their final mile.  It’s always interesting to watch them at that stage.  I’ll see a grandma with a smile on her face after 25 miles and think, “Hey if she can do it, then I can totally handle a full marathon next year”.  Then a couple of seconds later I’ll see a super-fit guy in his twenties with tears in his eyes and a look of pure agony on his face and think “Holy crap, look at that dude.  Why would I ever want to put myself through that?”  I had fun watching and cheering them all on.  I was hoping to see one of my co-workers, but I had no idea what time to expect her and never did see her.

  • The rest of the afternoon and evening consisted of:  a nice hot shower (except oh my hell does that sting on the bra burn), putting on my compression socks, finally getting some post-run food (I wasn’t feeling the snack bag they gave out and forgot to pack my own protein bar to eat afterwards), bumming it on the couch, a fabulous dinner of black bean enchiladas at one of my favorite restaurants in Manayunk, Winnie’s Le Bus (they gave 10% off the check to anyone with a race number), and the newest Harry Potter movie.

All in all, one fabulous day :)

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Philadelphia Marathon Race Expo

November 20, 2010 at 4:39 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

I went to the race Expo on Friday around noon. I didn’t think it was as good as some other race expos I have been to (hello do we really need 3 booths devoted to just lotion?) but I did walk away with some great stuff.

any other purple corral-ers out there?

this year's shirt (front)

love the map on the back

I finally found a pair of running tights to wear for the race.  I know you are not supposed to wear anything new on race day, but these were on clearance and I literally have nothing else to wear.

Brooks running tights with a sassy red slash

I have seen yurbuds at expos in the past, and this time I finally bought a pair.  They are FAB-U-LOUS!  They fit right over your existing earbuds and they make it so they don’t slip and fall out.  You can even yank on the earphone wire and they stay put!  The girl at the booth took a picture of my ear and then told me what size I needed to buy.  Another great thing about them is that since they fit so well and block out a lot of extra noise (like wind), you actually end up listening to your music at a significantly lower volume!

And my last fabulous purchase was 2 rolls of KT tape. Have any of you ever tried this stuff before?  I am in awe of it.  I lied down on the bench and the KT Tape guy applied the tape to both of my feet in a way specific to my injuries (plantar fasciitis on the left and Achilles tendonitis on the right).

 

taping for plantar fasciitis

 

 

taping for Achilles tendonitis

 

It felt really good when I stood up and while walking around the rest of the day.  I don’t think I will wear it during the race because as you can see in the picture, it started to roll up by the end of the day from all the rubbing against my shoe.  I don’t want to have to worry about bunched up tape on race day.  I wish I had gotten this stuff earlier on in training so I could have tested it out on a longer run.  If you go to the KT Tape website you can watch videos on how to apply the tape for other various running injuries including IT band and Runner’s Knee.

By the way, did anyone talk to that creepy old guy working the cryotherapy wrap booth?  He kind of freaked me out.

Okay, I am off to charge my watch, finalize my playlist, lay out my clothes, and carbo-load while watching Chariots of Fire :)  Good luck to everyone running tomorrow!

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Just One of Those Days

November 18, 2010 at 9:54 pm (Uncategorized)

Today has been just one aggravation after the next. All minor in the grand scheme of things, but a pain in the ass nonetheless.

I started the day off with a trip to the optometrist.  I only get one covered visit every two years with my health insurance plan, and yet I have already gone three times in the last two years.  I just am never quite happy with the way I see out of my right eye, and keep hoping a slight change in prescription will make things better.  Well I found out today that I have just enough of an astigmatism in my right eye to make my vision slightly blurry (even with contacts) but not enough of an astigmatism to actually be able to correct it. Basically it means I have to live with less than perfect vision.  My eye doctor is awesome though and didn’t charge me for the visit.  I love him and if anyone in the area needs a good one, I can definitely recommend this guy to you.

The next aggravation involved electronics which is the most sure-fire way to ruin my day.  My tv was working fine on Tuesday one minute, and the next I couldn’t get any of the basic channels.  Dealing with Comcast makes me want to claw my eyes out. They are the most frustrating company (hello why do you have to change the channel lineup every 2 months without any notification which makes my Tivo stop working?!) and their technicians are completely worthless.  Long story short, I wasted an hour with the tech guy who was not able to fix anything and only set me up for another appointment almost 2 weeks from now!  I then spent another 3 hours or so on the phone with my brother (who is a tech genius but lives in Virginia), rearranging wires, and resetting systems.  Grr, is having television really worth all this?  Some people get by without it, right?

I went out for a 4 mile run to try to calm myself down.  I turned my Garmin on in the car and made the short drive to the same stretch of Kelly Drive where I do all my short runs.  My Garmin usually finds a satellite within a couple of minutes.  Not today.  It took almost half an hour before it was ready to go.   Gahh!

And to top it all off…  I was kind of frantic and spazzed/stressed out after an afternoon wasted on such crap that I was a little to quick bringing my water glass up to my mouth and did this to myself…

 

FYI it is really hard to take a close-up picture of your mouth without making it look gross. My apologies.

I wonder if my dentist can manage to squeeze me in after I get back from the expo tomorrow.  Here’s to hoping that tomorrow goes a little better than today did.

 

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Forecast

November 15, 2010 at 8:01 am (Uncategorized)

The current forecast for race day next week is partly sunny with a high of 56!  Let’s hope it stays that way!

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Throw-away clothes

November 14, 2010 at 7:16 pm (Uncategorized)

Just a quick post here-

If anyone is looking for some cheap throw-away clothes to buy before the Philly marathon, Target is selling warm comfy sweatpants for 6 dollars and change.  Score!  :)

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