Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dessert and Idol

Now that my marathon is over I have been able to spend more time on some of the other things I love, like baking.  I have lined up about 10 great cookie recipes I want to try, and I have started sharing some recipes at the blog Sweet as Sugar Cookies which hosts a weekly Sweets for Saturday post where baking bloggers everywhere post a photo and link to a sweet treat they have made.  Last week there were 166 tempting recipes to look through. If you need an idea for something to bake, I'm sure you will find something to satisfy your sweet tooth.

With all the cooking I have planned, my goal is to post one new recipe a week.

Another thing I love is a good TV show.  I don't have a lot of time to watch TV so it has to be something worthwhile.  I love my DVR and use it for everything I watch. Unexpectedly,  I have gotten hooked to American Idol this season.  I liked Simon Cowell's frankness and thought the show would be a dud without him, but its just the opposite. I think Steven Tyler is fabulous!   Other than being the lead singer of Aerosmith, I didn't know what kind of person he was. I  thought he was some stuck up rocker guy, but he is witty, kind and funny. He blurts out funny lines, gets so into the music he sometimes sings along, and is able to tell someone no without being mean.  His interaction with the girl in the wheelchair brought me to tears.  I am loving the show so far and hope it continues. I like Jennifer Lopez more too.   The only thing I don't like about him is the strange high pitched scream/singing  thing he does.

I know they say Randy is supposed to be the top dog on Idol this year, but not for me.  He's just there, I don't dislike him, but he doesn't keep me coming back.  I am enjoying the auditions and am looking forward to Hollywood week.

Are you a fan of American Idol?  What do you think of the new judges?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Apple Cake with Browned Butter Frosting

I totally forgot I had this recipe to share until I was looking through my pictures and remembered how fabulous this was!  On my October visit to Vermont, I brought back apples that I used to make this cake. With apples still available at the store, you can make this cake too. The browned butter frosting was the perfect topping.  I loved the caramel, nutty flavor of this frosting. 

Apple Cake  adapted from Southern Living
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 stick butter, melted
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 lb apples (about 4 large), peeled and cut into chunks

Toast pecans in shallow pan 5-7 minutes in 350 degree oven. Set aside.  
In large bowl, mix butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until blended.
In separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture, stirring until mixed.  Add apples and 1/2 cup pecans.  Batter will be thick.  
Spread batter into greased 9 x 13 inch pan.
Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
While cake cooks prepare frosting.

Browned Butter Frosting
2 sticks butter
1 (16 oz) powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

In small sauce pan over medium heat, cook butter for 6-8 minutes, stirring constantly. When butter starts to turn golden brown, remove pan from heat and pour into a small bowl.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour or until cooled and beginning to solidify.
With an electric mixer, beat butter at medium speed until fluffy.  Add powdered sugar alternating with milk. Begin and end with powdered sugar.  Beat on low speed until blended.  Mix in vanilla.
Once cake is cool, cover with frosting and top with remaining 1/2 cup pecans.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

What's next...

Have you ever been to South Dakota?   Thanks to the Running USA 2010-2011 race calendar, I  just made plans to travel to Deadwood, SD for a half marathon this summer!  Upon getting this race booklet, I went through it page by page with a highlighter in hand and marked all the places I would like to visit that were hosting half marathons. I am fortunate to live in a town that offers many great running events, but it is very exciting to plan a race weekend that includes visiting a new place too. Click here to see the electronic version of the race calendar.

You may have heard of Deadwood if you watched the HBO series by that name.  It is an old western town, near the Black Hills where Mt. Rushmore in located.  To make this even more fun, my sister and brother-in-law will be joining Andy and I to run the race!  It will be the first half marathon for all three of them.  They were inspired to run after my daughter, Cate completed her first one earlier this month.

The only other race I have planned so far is a local 5K, Lady Track Shack, in February.  This will be my third year running this race and it is for a good cause.

As far as training goes, I have been in recovery mode these past two weeks and have one more week of a lighter schedule.  Last night's run was brutal.  I was scheduled for 4 miles.  Due to rain, I went to the gym to hit the treadmill.  I was so exhausted after 2 miles, that I took a walk break!  What is that about?  How is it that I can run 26.2 miles and then struggle with four?  It was very hot in the gym and I did eat half of a peanut butter snickers before hand, but I didn't expect to struggle so much.  It was a relief to be done.

While visiting other blogs, I came upon the cutest cupcake scarf! You can win it @Just Add Glitter and Stir (unless I win it). Open until midnight 1/28/11.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Disney Marathon Recap

Before the race
This day started when the alarm went off at 2:50am.  My plan was to leave the house by 3:30am so I could beat some of the traffic.  This race draws 17,000 runners and the roads entering Disney get pretty packed the closer it gets to 5:00am, the time runners are supposed to be in their corrals. This morning felt like the movie Ground Hog Day as I had done all of this the day before when I went to watch my daughter run the half marathon. Both my sleeping and eating schedules were all wacky.  Fortunately I was so tired from getting up early Saturday morning that I actually fell asleep by 9:30pm Saturday night.  That gave me about five and half hours sleep.  My plan was to eat a Clif Bar for breakfast because this is what I typically ate pre-running during training, but I was eating breakfast at 3:00am and not running until almost 6am.  So I decided to eat a PBandJ at home and took a Clif Bar with me for later.

I had packed all my gear in a bag the night before so I didn't have to worry about forgetting something.  I brought a trash bag, 2 Clif bars, one for before and one for after the race, iPod, headphones, iFitness belt with phone, toilet paper (just in case) and 2 bags of Honey Stingers, my Garmin and heart rate monitor, Clif Shot pace bracelet, sunglasses, an old track suit to keep me warm, a towel to cover the car seat and a pullover for afterwards.  We also packed a cooler with G2, chocolate milk and water.  I wanted to be prepared.

The traffic delayed our arrival by 20 minutes, but we got there in plenty of time.  The temperature was a brisk 40 degrees and I decided to wait in the warm car for a little while before heading out.  I started making my way to the corral, via the bathroom around 4:40am.  The walk to the corrals took about 20 minutes and was wall to wall people.  I got to Corral D about 5:20am, 10 min till start time. Before I knew it they were singing the national anthem, setting off fireworks, and the first wave was off.  I spent such a short time waiting that I never ate the Clif Bar and didn't use the trash bag. My wave was scheduled to start at 5:47am.

I had set a goal of about 4.5 hours for this race.  I did not know if this was possible or not, but I wanted to keep my eye on the Clif Shot 4:30 pace group, in the wave in front of me.  The start was crowded and cold, so I kept my warmup jacket on. You could feel the warmth from the fire shoots above the start.  I needed to run about a 10 min mile to meet my goal. I ran the first mile in 10:36.  I knew I needed to pick it up, but I was just trying to find a comfortable pace for me.  I felt good from the start and ran the next 4 miles at about a 9:50 pace.  At this point I was starting to warm up although we kept running through pockets of cold air.  

The race begins outside of Epcot and we run the first few miles on a large 4 lane road.  It is so dark, that you can't see much ahead of you. As I run, I keep looking for an open space to occupy.  My husband and daughter were on the sidelines at mile 4, but I didn't even see them.  My next chance to see them would be mile 8 by the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC).  The running felt good and I was staying pretty steady with my pace.  During miles 5-9 I was running about a 9:20. I took my gloves and jacket off around mile 7, but didn't feel like I could just throw it down anywhere.  Most people dropped their extra layers earlier on and it is all collected and donated.  I didn't feel right about randomly dropping a jacket, that someone would have to pick up, so I tied it around my waist and decided I would give it to my family when I saw them.  
Mile 8.2 
As I approached the TTC dawn was breaking and I was glad about that.   I stayed to the right side and began looking for familiar faces.  I ran by the spot I had occupied the day before as a spectator and when I didn't see them, figured they didn't make it in time.  There was one section of spectators left and as I came through the underpass, I saw them with smiles and signs.   What a great feeling that was!  I handed them my jacket and off I went, telling them I would see them at mile 12.   

I had been worried about  having to go the bathroom during the race to the point that I probably convinced myself I needed to go.  When I came upon a set of bathrooms just before mile 10 with no lines, I decided to go and get it over with.  From that point on, it wasn't an issue.   We headed into the Magic Kingdom from here, a great section to run as Main Street is filled with spectators and lots to see, including a run through the castle.
Magic Kingdom
Leaving the Magic Kingdom we run past the Grand Floridian Hotel and head toward the Polynesian and  another chance to see our family and friends who have braved the cold and early morning hours to cheer us on.  Out of the 26.2 miles there were about 4 places along the route my family could see me run by.
Mile 12
Mile 12 was the last viewing spot until the finish line. I had decided to put my name on my shirt using duct tape so people in the crowd could cheer me on too.  I am glad I did that.  Volunteers at the water stations and people in the crowd offered personalized words of encouragement that helped me to keep going.

From here we were headed down back roads to Animal Kingdom.  The first half of the marathon was over before I knew it.  With a time of 2:07:48 I was in good shape to make my goal.  This was the fastest half I have run to date!

Miles 13-18 weren't bad although I was starting to feel a little discomfort in my legs. It was during this section of the race that I realized I would regret not taking advantage of all this race had to offer in addition to conquering 26.2 miles so I decided to stop for some photos along the way as long as the line wasn't long.  (The competitive side of me was not willing to throw all caution to the wind for the sake of fun.)
Peter Pan Crew on the road to Animal Kingdom

King Louie and Balloo in Animal Kingdom
Mile 17
Miles 19-22 were some of the hardest miles. At this point we have left Animal Kingdom and are running down a long boring highway to Hollywood Studios.  Not much to see and we have to keep running over overpasses which seem steeper than they are.  At this point, my legs are getting tired and I know I have a ways to go.  I definitely slowed down during this section and reminded myself I would be done sooner if I just kept running.  I started to walk longer through the water stations.  Finally we got to the next park and there was more to see.

Russell from Up, Hollywood Studios

Phineas and Ferb, Hollywood Studios

Safari Mickey
By mile 24 we were out of Hollywood Studios and only 2.2 miles from the finish.   My thighs are aching. Every lift of my leg is an effort.  I am still running slowly and the miles feel long.  I am relieved to see the shoot and head toward to finish.  There is a big cheering crowd and I do my best to speed up and have a strong finish.
I give both Mickey and Goofy a high five as I cross the finish  line.  When I see my time, I am pleasantly surprised 4:32:30!  We are handed a mylar sheet and given our medal which is heavier than I thought it would it be.  Walking feels weird and my muscles are tight, especially behind my knees.  I grab a can of Coke and enjoy the hell out of it.
 Marathon Girl 
I meet up with my family and experience a flood of emotions.  They have lived this race with me for 20 weeks.  I could not have dedicated all that time for training without their support.  They believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself and their encouragement kept me going.  Three of my friends from work came to see me too. Having them all here for me meant a lot!

This was one of the hardest things I have done, but I am glad I took on the challenge!

5 mile 49:23 pace 9:52  
10 mile 1:37:06 pace 9:42  
Half marathon 2:07:48 pace 9:44  
20 mile 3:22:05 pace 10:06 
Finish 4:32:30 pace 10:23

Friday, January 7, 2011

Marathon Weekend is HERE

Race weekend is finally here!  Wow, pretty much describes everything I am feeling.  

It's going to be a busy weekend.  My daughter is running the half marathon tomorrow and I am running the full marathon on Sunday.   We went to the expo last night after work and the place was crazy with people, but not as crazy as it's going to get.  We had a chance to get our race bags, make some posters, listen to some speakers and walk down every aisle of the expo.  We didn't want to miss a thing and we didn't. 
We had a chance to listen to John "The Penguin" Bingham speak and he was quite entertaining.  He co-authored the book on running that I like so much, Marathoning for Mortals.  I thought I might go crazy buying things, but I showed great self control.   I planned on getting some marathon paraphernalia because this may be the only one I ever run, but I decided the shirt I got in the goody bag, was enough.

At the Clif Bar booth, we got to taste about 8 of their products from the shots, to the blocks, to the chocolate roks. They had a new product I liked so much, I bought a few. This bar has 20g of protein and the lemon flavor is perfect.
The only other place that got my money was bondibands.  I love mine so much I had to get a couple more.  All in all the expo was a hit.  

Tomorrow I will be watching Cate in the half marathon so I will have 2 early wakeup calls this weekend.  As we have gotten things ready for her, I am getting some of my things in order too.  Last year I took a trash bag with me to keep me warm and dry as I waited for the race to start.  I am bringing one again.  The weatherman is predicting a start time temperature of 39 degrees Sunday and I don't want to freeze while I wait, plus it gives me something to sit on too.   Last year I think I stood around the entire time I waited, but now I know that extended standing only tires my legs out and I need to save that energy for running, so I plan on sitting more this year. 
Getting my trash bag fitted
I have decided what I am wearing as long as the weather forecast doesn't change too much.  I will be the girl in the pink shirt!  I will not be wearing my fuel belt for the race.  I don't really want to carry all that liquid when there will be plenty of water stops, but I will be bringing my Stingers for eating.
I am trying not to over-think the race at this point.  I have one more 20 minute run tomorrow I need to do after we get home from watching the half. I had a great tempo run on Wednesday and had lots of energy.  Let's hope it stays around for Sunday, I'll be starting the race at 5:47am.  


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Final Week of Marathon Training

Holy cow - the race is one week away!!

I am not quite sure how I feel about that.  My life has centered around preparing for this race for the past 5 months.  It has been on my mind every day.  I have been very dedicated and stuck to my training plan.  I have one week left and it doesn't include very much running.  I will be running for 30 minutes 4 days next week and that is it!

That is such a weird feeling.  The reduction in mileage has taken a bit of my confidence away.  It is a challenge to trust the process and believe that I will still be able to run that many miles, when, on the day of the race, it will be 2 weeks since I have run over 10 miles.

I have mixed emotions about the approaching day.  I am ready for it to be here and run the race, or perhaps ready for it to be over.  I am also nervous about what it will feel like to actually run that distance and how my body will react. I am anxious about what it will be like after the race when I no longer have this goal to focus on.  I don't want to fall off this track of fitness either.  I have 3 weeks of post-race recovery training to follow, but after that I am on my own.

It looks like the temperature on race day will be perfect, morning temperature in the high 40s.   Last year I ran the 1/2 marathon and the weather was absolutely freezing. As long as it's not that cold I'll be happy.  I will be wearing lucky number #6760 on race day. Can't wait to see what wave I'll be in.  The first wave goes off at 5:35am and the last at 6:03am.  The sooner I start, the sooner I finish.

I will spend this week getting my head ready for the race, do my best to stick to a regular schedule of eating and sleeping and most importantly decide what I am going to wear.   Help me decide - Do you think I should wear a long sleeve or short sleeve shirt that day?