Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fishies!

Earlier this month, Eric and I finally made it to the aquarium to see the fishies. I meant to post the pictures from our trip but I've been a bit of a slacker this month. Let's just blame it on lack of morning sunlight. I do my best blog writing early in the morning over a bowl of warm oatmeal and a mug of hot coffee, but with the sun rising later these days I end up just eating breakfast and heading straight to work. Anyhow, here's the pictures from the fishies weekend!
We arrived around 11AM to find that the line for tickets was
extremely long. I noticed that there was a Legal Sea Foods
across from the aquarium, so lunch took priority!
Eric decided to get steamers for his appetizer and convinced
me to try some. They were good, but nothing special in my
opinion. My entree (which is not pictured) was fantastic
though. The hummus was delicious!
The first thing we saw as we entered the aquarium were the
penguin tanks.  The summary? Penguins poop. A lot.
They also like to stand around and flap their wings.
This tank had a "no photography" sign on it. I took that to
mean that there was no flash photography and took a
picture anyhow. The fish was obviously interested in what
I was doing.
Again with the flapping of the wings! I think this one was
trying to dry them off, but he just looked a little silly.
Fishies!
After what turned out to be a relatively lackluster trip to see
the fishies, we headed home. I made Eric his belated birthday
dinner. It was a good recipe which I've since added to my
portfolio of quick and tasty recipes.

What's your take on aquariums? Fun or boring? After our trip, I think the New England Aquarium could use some renovation to be a little more with the times!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November Foodzie Box

It's Foodzie box time again! I'm late this month with my review but it's still November for a couple more days.
Foodzie is changing up their tasting box as of this month. The box is bigger and the samples contained within are also bigger. They're changing up the types of boxes available (Cooking Box?! I want that one!) and they're all going to be bigger. However, they are also increasing the monthly subscription price, which I've yet to decide whether I can justify the $10 increase. I'm pretty confused by the changes but I'm hoping to get the cooking box next month before I decide what to do with my subscription.
In the box this month:
  • Pickled Figs
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Nougat
  • Cornbread mix
  • Fruit and Nut Crostini
  • Garlic and Onion Pistachios
I prefer my Crostini without fruits or nuts in them, but that's just my preference. These would have likely been good with the pickled figs, but I couldn't bring myself to eat the pickled figs.
I took one whiff of this and decided not to even attempt it. I'm not a pickled fruit person. I like my fruit spreads sweet with a touch of tart, not acidic. Sorry, I'm not sorry.
Eric and I both thought that this was alright, but that it needed a chocolate coating. I think that a thin dark chocolate coating would have balanced out the lovely toasted almond flavor perfectly.
I took the cornbread mix and made it into a batch of corn muffins per the recipe on the label. The resulting muffins were not a big hit. The muffins are way too crumbly  and I think the recipe was lacking in some sort of binding agent. However, despite that particular failing, I quite liked how they taste. I could actually taste the corn in the mix which makes it feel more wholesome and less processed. I would happily try the mix again with a tweaked muffin recipe.
I'm no stranger to cranberries, being from New England. I love dried cranberries and I'm thinking these may find their way into my oatmeal sooner or  later.
I like pistachios, but I hate opening pistachios. They hurt my fingers or they fly across the room as I am attempting to pull the shell apart. The couple of handfuls that I had before I gave up were quite good. Not too garlicky and not too oniony, but the flavor was also in each nut. I turned the bag over to Eric after getting  frustrated with them and he consumed them all in an evening.  This is the first Foodzie box item that he has liked enough to actually finish off, so these were definitely the favorite of the box.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Lowell 1st 10K: Week Zero

Source: Lowell 1st Run
About a month ago, while Eric was in Vegas, I started thinking about my race schedule for 2012. I knew I wanted to run a race in early January, just to get the year off to a good start. I poked around Cool Running and Running In The USA in search of a race. Nothing really struck my fancy until I came across this race. I was drawn in by the fact that there are tech t-shirts, tech hats and a finisher's medal for both the 5K and 10K version of the race. It also has chip timing and a decent course profile.

I waffled about whether I'd sign up for the 5K or the 10K, but I ended up going with the 10K. If I'm going to get all that wicked sweet swag, then I'm darn well going to earn it. I considered it's proximity to my Thanksgiving race with a bit of uncertainty, but decided that it will actually benefit me since I'll be in decent 10K shape given the extra 4.5 weeks of training through the holiday season.

Now that I've finished the 5K training, it seems like a good time to reassess the pace chart. My race time puts me between two rows in my pace table, so I've decided to use a range for training times. This gives me a little more freedom when I'm not quite feeling up to snuff.
I finalized the tiny little training plan on Saturday and you can check it out here. I'm pretty excited for this race and can't wait to get another 10K under my belt. This week's training schedule looks like this:


Do you have any races planned for the winter? Or are you hibernating until Spring comes? Lemme know in a comment down below!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving

Cubing the Sourdough loaf for the stuffing
12+ hour cold brine bath for the turkey
Smeared in butter, filled with garlic, onion, apple,
orange and herbs
Date, Walnut and Blue Cheese ball for the appetizer
My lovely hostess gift from my mom :)
It's actually a cornucopia!
Not sure if pink carnations are holiday appropriate, but
they're pretty so who cares?
I had to stop and smell the flowers to get the onion
scent out of my nostrils.
Time to dig in. :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Race Report: Gobble Wobble Thanksgiving 5K

Thirteen weeks of Turkey Trot focused training culminated in Southborough's 5th Annual Gobble Wobble Thanksgiving 5K Road Race. Of all the races I ran this year, this one is the one that I felt the most organized and prepared for, which did wonders for my mental state.

The Training
Week Twelve+ - 23.95 mi
Week Eleven - 9.63 mi
Week Ten - 19.80 mi
Week Nine - 19.03 mi
Week Eight - 17.75 mi
Race Report: HipHipHer Race 5K
Week Seven - 10.88 mi
Week Six - 15.2 mi
Week Five - ~15 mi
Week Four - 17.07 mi
Week Three - 11.62 mi
Week Two - 16.12 mi
Week One - 15.75 mi
Week Zero - the plan

Total Mileage: 191.80 miles

Despite the sub-par performance at the training plan's scheduled tune-up race, I was confident that my peak race would provide a better result. I made sure to get more sleep than last time and I kept my diet in check. Just like last year, my brother came down the night before to deliver me the Thanksgiving turkey for brining and run the turkey trot with me. We headed to the race around 7:30AM to pick up our bibs and t-shirts and I was quite pleased to see that the race had chip timing and a certified course. We also met up with one of my friends from work who graciously agreed to come and play photographer for us (thanks!!). I was concerned on Wednesday morning given the rainy, cold and generally miserable weather, but Thursday proved to be much nicer than the previous day.
As we were lining up at the start line, I was genuinely surprised at the turnout. This is definitely one of the largest 5Ks I've done -- there were just short of a thousand people. After the national anthem, the horn went off and we were through the balloon gate.

Kilometer 1 - 5:23.28 (8:40 min/mile)
My brain was working against me in this first kilometer. Despite having gotten a good half mile warm-up in, I could not find my rhythm in stride or breathing. I couldn't seem to find a good lane either. I just wanted one that didn't have kids who went out too fast together and then just stopped to walk 5-6 abreast on the road. Seriously kids? Seriously? I could also write a dissertation on how much I hate it when people run races with headphones on and have no sense of their physical surroundings, but I'll spare you.

Kilometer 2 - 5:27.05 (8:46 min/mile)
Shortly after Beepy informed me that I'd passed the 1K mark, I passed some poor kid who lost his shoe and was off to the side of the road and found my rhythm. I tackled the tiny little hills with a little extra effort and reminded myself to conserve enough to make it up the one hill in the course. I heard lots of people complaining about the hills as I ran by but I just rolled my eyes and kept going. Clearly these people have not run the Westborough 5K route, that's where the real hills are at.

Kilometer 3 - 5:35.79 (9:00 min/mile)
This was one of those insidious hills like I had to deal with in my 10K this past June. It was a gradual incline over roughly a half a mile and it makes you feel like you suck. However, having run that 10K and recalling how the tricky inclines make you feel, I pushed through and tackled the hill faster than I thought I would.

Kilometer 4 - 5:13.36 (8:24 min/mile)
I'll be honest. I don't remember a lot about this kilometer, but I suspect that's because I had to shut down the part of my brain that was being a whiner. I didn't have room to do anything but think about my form, my breathing and keeping it all in check. I think I might have also being doing some race math in my head. I knew that I might finish in under 27 minutes. However I have a hard enough time doing math in my head normally so I wasn't exactly very trusting of the result I came up with.

Kilometer 5 - 5:00.00 (8:03 min/mile)
This last kilometer was key for me. It was mostly downhill and I knew I could push it and still finish strong. This is where those 1K intervals at 5K pace workouts really came into play.
After seeing this photo, it becomes apparent to me that I have to work some of my good ol' barefoot running sessions in again. I'd like to get my forefoot strike back.
See the focus and determination? I couldn't see the clock yet but I was reaching my full out sprint at this point. As an aside, Beepy totally clashes with my super stylish moving traffic cone getup. When I finally rounded the corner and saw the gun time at 26:54, I was beyond thrilled. I had not seen a sub-27 minute number on the clock since May.

Garmin Time: 26:39.48
Official Time (net): 26:43.34

I didn't want to miss Nate's finish so I marshaled the remainder of energy and headed over to watch.
He managed to finish strong with a net time of 29:06.50, his second best time of the year. After the race he told me he didn't have to stop and walk at all, which I was quite happy with since I made him a little training plan with that particular goal in mind.
Blinded by the sunlight.
I'm thinking that our next race together is likely to be the Spring Festival 5K in Westborough next May. This should give him plenty of time to train up.

Me though?  Well my next race is coming up fast, as in January 1st fast, and it's going to be a 10K. Details to follow next week.

Did you walk or run a Thanksgiving race? Or did you stay home and relax with family? I'd love to hear about it, let me know in a comment down below! :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Trot Training: Week 12+


Playing catch up!
I meant to put this up on Wednesday, but instead I spent most of the day chopping vegetables, making pie and a cheese ball.

Previous Weeks
Week Eleven - 9.63 mi
Week Ten - 19.80 mi
Week Nine - 19.03 mi
Week Eight - 17.75 mi
Week Seven - 10.88 mi
Week Six - 15.2 mi
Week Five - ~15 mi
Week Four - 17.07 mi
Week Three - 11.62 mi
Week Two - 16.12 mi
Week One - 15.75 mi
Week Zero - the plan

Last Week's Training
Monday (11/14) - Mixed Intervals on the 'mill
The standard:
1 mile @ recovery
1 mile @ 10K
1K @ 5K
600m @ 3K
300m @ 1.6K
1 mi @ recovery

Tuesday (11/15) - Easy/base run
Another one of the lock it in at 6 mph and press random kind of work outs. I just wish that I could escape work early enough to go outside one of these days.

Wednesday (11/16) - Rest
Rest and recovery is always good. :)

Thursday (11/17) - PSP and Zumba!
Bunches of push-ups, bunches of squats, and bunches of planks followed by some dancing.

Friday (11/18) - Barefoot Treadmill run
I haven't run barefoot on my treadmill at home in ages, felt like it was time to sprinkle in one of these workouts. Gotta build my calluses back up!

Saturday (11/19) - Tempo run
Felt pretty good despite being super sore all day, that and I like working at my 10K pace. .5 mile at recovery, 3 miles at 10K, .5 at recovery
Sunday (11/20) - Zumba!
Just me and Elena, everyone else was gone for the holidays it seems.

Monday (11/21) - Easy/base run
Forgot my headphones, but the news was interesting last night so it made up for the lack of headphones.

Tuesday (11/22) - Rest
Worked late to make up for some missed time, didn't want to do anything but eat, sleep and read when I got home.

Wednesday (11/23) -
Shaking off some cobwebs! I dragged Nate and Eric to the gym with me too. :)
1 mi@recovery, 1x1K @ 3K pace, 90s active rest, 1x1K @ 3K pace, 1 mi@recovery


Total Mileage: 23.95

Stay tuned for the race report!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Kitchen Adventure: Red Velvet Cupcakes

Last year, for Christmas I got a copy of Cook's Illustrated Holiday Baking. The cover has the most beautiful looking piece of Red Velvet cake that I've ever seen, and I've been itching to try out the recipe since I got the magazine a year ago.
Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, Holiday Baking 2010

Cake
2.25 cups (11.25 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup powdered buttermilk
Pinch table salt
1 cup (8 oz.) water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
1 1-oz bottle red food coloring
1.5 sticks (12 tbsps.) unsalted butter, softened
1.5 cups (10.5 oz.) granulated sugar
72 mini cupcake liners

Frosting
1 stick (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (8 oz.) confectioners' sugar
8 oz. cream cheese
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line your cupcake pan with the liners. Set the pan aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, powdered buttermilk, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  3. In a 2 cup measuring cup, combine the water, vinegar, vanilla extract and eggs. Gently (it splashes easily!) whisk together until combined. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the red food coloring and cocoa powder, gently mixing until a smooth paste is formed.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until fluffy. Pour in one third of the flour mixture and mix until just combined, then pour in half of the egg mixture. Repeat this until all the water and flour is gone. You'll end with flour.
  6. Using a small spoon or cookie scoop, fill the liners with a single scoop of batter. Bake for roughly approximately 15 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out cleanly. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack. Unless you have an extremely large mini cupcake pan, you might need to do this a couple times. It's okay to let the batter sit on the counter while you wait.
  7. While the cupcakes are cooling, in a large bowl, cream the butter.
  8. Slowly beat the confectioners' sugar into the butter in small increments, unless you want a mushroom cloud of sugar in your face. Once the sugar well enough incorporated, beat the mixture on high and add the cream cheese in in four pieces. The frosting will be of medium stiffness.
  9. Frost and decorate the cupcakes to suit your needs!
  10. Consume tasty cupcakes!
Do you love or hate red velvet? What's your favorite kind of cake? Let me know in a comment down below! :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

21

22 years ago, I remember my parents telling me that my mom was pregnant. Being roughly 5 at the time, I'm not sure I quite understood entirely what that meant.
Then he arrived with his fluffy peach fuzz head of hair.
But now he's 21, a real adult.
I know you hate this picture, but it's actually a good one!
That meant we had to celebrate with our own take on
tea time.
There were crumpets,
teeny little egg salad sandwiches,
and teeny little roast beef with
horseradish sandwiches.
And no birthday would be complete without cupcakes.
Happy Birthday lil' bro!

Turkey Trot Training: Week 11


The Final Countdown
I can't even believe Thanksgiving is only a week away. I'm definitely going to do a better job of resting, hydrating and eating before this week's race. None of that crap from the HipHipHer Race 5K.  I also think I'm either going to take a half or the whole day of Wednesday off to finalize Thanksgiving dinner preparations, and also because I want to take a day off.

Previous Weeks
Week Ten - 19.80 mi
Week Nine - 19.03 mi
Week Eight - 17.75 mi
Week Seven - 10.88 mi
Week Six - 15.2 mi
Week Five - ~15 mi
Week Four - 17.07 mi
Week Three - 11.62 mi
Week Two - 16.12 mi
Week One - 15.75 mi
Week Zero - the plan

Last Week's Training
Monday (11/07) - Quick and easy circuit
I forgot to write down what I did and I don't even remember. All I know is that it left me very sore the next day which is an indicator to me that I'm not strength training enough!

Tuesday (11/08) - Zumba practice in the basement
Sore from lifting, I didn't really want to do anything except dance around the basement.

Wednesday (11/09) - Mixed Intervals
Didn't get enough sleep the night before cause my brain would not shut off!
1 mile @ recovery
1 mile @ 10K
2 minute active rest
1K @ 5K
2 minute active rest
600m @ 3K pace
2 minute active rest
300m @ 1 mile pace
1 mile @ recovery

Thursday (11/10) - Zumba!
I love my zumba classes but I really wish some participants would complain less in class. Yeah, so what a song is "hard"? Doesn't mean it shouldn't be part of the rotation.

Friday (11/11) - 5 miles easy
On the treadmill. Again. I don't think I've been outside in a couple of weeks.


Saturday (11/12) -Rest
We went to the aquarium (finally) and spent most of the day walking around. I was intending to go for a run when we got home but my foot hurt so bad from some inexplicable happening that I decided to take it easy.


Sunday (11/13) - Zumba!
Less whining = happier Sarah.

Total Mileage: 9.63

How has your week been, training or otherwise? Let me know in a comment below! :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Want It Now!

Instant gratification is everywhere.

In fact, we're completely surrounded by it. It's a concept that drives many daily interaction with our environments. Smart phones with data plans allow us instant access to the internet wherever there's coverage. Fast food restaurants allow us to eat food whenever the cravings strike us.


Our inner Veruca Salts are running amok. We want everything now and we don't want to wait. Why else would anyone consider weight loss surgery over traditional means? It's the veritable Golden Goose of anyone who's ever had a weight problem.

Last week as I was running on the treadmill, I saw a commercial for liposuction promising to take at least 5" off your waist measurements. I scoffed, rolled my eyes and continued with my run but it made me remember. There was a time in my life when I would have spent hours after seeing that commercial wishing with a desperation that bordered on insanity that I could have 5" magically taken off my waist line. I didn't want to have to work for the weight loss. At that point in my life, I would not have appreciated it even if I could have lost 5" off my waist.

10 lost inches and years of hard work later, I still find myself in situations where I want it now. I want the few pounds of fat that I've gained over the last couple of months to magically disappear. I don't want to have to think about it. It was during one of those mental gripe sessions with myself that I stopped myself and thought, "Exactly! It took that many months for it to happen, so it's certainly not going to go away in anything less than that!" Sometimes you just have to remind yourself to have patience, and instant gratification isn't always the best course of action.

Have you had to remind yourself to step back and be patient lately? I'd love to hear about it! Leave me a comment down below! :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Turkey Trot Training: Week 10


Holy crap, I totally forgot to write up last week's training!
I've gotten so into recording it all on DailyMile and having them e-mail me a training summary of the previous week, that I completely forgot to write up this post.

Previous Weeks
Week Nine - 19.03 mi
Week Eight - 17.75 mi
Week Seven - 10.88 mi
Week Six - 15.2 mi
Week Five - ~15 mi
Week Four - 17.07 mi
Week Three - 11.62 mi
Week Two - 16.12 mi
Week One - 15.75 mi
Week Zero - the plan

Last Week's Training
Monday (10/31) - Mixed Intervals on the treadmill
Forgot my headphones, so it was a boring 45 minutes. I ended up counting my stride rate.
1 mile @ recovery
1 mile @ 10K
1K @ 5K
600m @ 3K
300m @ 1.61K
1 mi @ recovery

Tuesday (11/1) - Rest

Wednesday (11/2) - 1K Intervals on the Treadmill
I did not forget my headphones this time. Yay!
1 mile @ recovery warm-up
1x1K @ 5K
2 min active recovery
1x1K @ 5K
2 min active recovery
1x1K @ 5K
1 mile @ recovery cooldown

Thursday (11/3) - Zumba & Weights
I did 20 minutes of lifting before I went to zumba because I'm finding it hard to wedge them into my workouts now. The longer intervals don't really lend themselves to my circuit training style.

Friday (11/4) - Rest


Saturday (11/5) - 3 mile Tempo run on the treadmill
Watched the Bruins game while running. :)

Sunday (11/6) - 6 miles easy on the treadmill
Watched the Patriots game this time! I find that sports are really good for distracting me while on the treadmill.

Total Mileage: 19.8

This week's plan is almost over so I'm not even going to post the picture. I'll be better next week!

How has your week been, training or otherwise? Let me know in a comment below! :)