Monday, May 31, 2010

ADK or Bust!

Our vacation has finally arrived!  All we need to do is figure out how the humongous pile of stuff on the floor is going to fit into the back of the Subaru or in the pod on top!

The weather is looking so-so and there are forest fires in Quebec causing some smoke in the area.  Hmmmm.....could be an interesting week.  If the weather permits we will climb Algonquin Mountain and several lesser peaks/trails.  We hope to kayak a couple of times and at least wade knee-deep in Mirror Lake.  We will do the obligatory walk about town going in and out of all the cute little shops and scarf up some coffee and pastries.  There is the footrace up Whiteface Mountain for Jerry on Sunday.  If the weather fails us we have a brand new puzzle, some games (LCR and Pass the Pig), and lots and lots of books to pass the time.  Regardless of the weather, we will most certainly revel in our time up north and it will pass much too quickly.

Here is a photo of the cabin we are renting again this year:  Chickadee Lodge

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

They're Trying to Kill Me

Last night I went for a trail run with Jerry and Abby.  This shouldn't be much of a big deal since this whole blog is about family fitness and doing things together, but I swear they are trying to kill me!

Actually I have said that about Jerry for a very long time, but now I seriously think Abby is in on it too!  When it comes to Jerry I have fond memories of floating in Lake Erie while trying to overturn a capsized Hobie.  I remember the extremely narrow trail carved into the side of a mountain we hiked in Glacier National Park on our "honeymoon."  I remember being on the back of the tandem  with loaded panniers careening downhill into Fort Ticonderoga at about 50 mph.  Oh, I know he loves me but seriously, come on........

So even though it was over 80 degrees I agreed to go with them last night to Liberty Park.  Within 30 seconds of the run I already had a stomach cramp and my legs felt super heavy.  Ugh!   The two of them hung together running effortlessly while I choked and groaned behind them.  I could occasionally see them look over their shoulders to see just how far back I was.  I hung on though and it turned out to be a great run!  They moved through the mud and downhills much faster than I dared, but I am thinking if I can hang with them this summer maybe I will really be greatly improved by the fall marathon.

Later in the evening, Abby was getting things ready for her trip to Cedar Point today.  I heard her to say to no one in particular, "That run felt really good." 

In an effort to avenge myself, I did a little research and discovered that the annual footrace up Whiteface Mountain is going to be held while we are there next month.  I knew Jerry could not say no.  Unfortunately, they do not provide a ride back down so I guess I will just have to drive up instead of run along with him.  Maybe next year we could run it together since Gina will most likely have her license to drive!!??  Just kidding - I am not sure what would be scarier:  the thought of her driving up a mountain or the two of us running 8 miles uphill together.   I'm scared just thinking about both of those options!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Week in Review 5/16/10 - 5/22/10

Sunday:  13.1 mile run
Monday:  1 hour yoga
Thursday:  6 mile run
Friday:  4.2 mile run

I felt really happy all week about how things turned out in Cleveland on Sunday.  I thought I was ready to run on Thursday but I ended up feeling pretty tired halfway through.  I did see a turkey on the trail though!  Oh well, I knew the weekend would not be conducive to running so I headed back out on Friday.  This time I saw the owl!  By Saturday I was feeling pretty crappy - not sure if I ended up fighting off some bug but I feel a whole bunch better today.

So now we are looking down the barrel of the last week of school, followed by our much anticipated week in the Adirondacks.  To put it simply - I CAN"T WAIT! 

We celebrated the half marathon finish with some chinese takeout - all veggie dishes, of course.  Monday I made falafel wraps and baked sweet potato slices.  Tuesday was a new pea pesto which got mixed reviews.  It was the first time I ever used tarragon in anything.  Wednesday was simple baked potatoes and roasted asparagus.  Thursday I boiled rosetto ravioli - we have not had that in years and it was nice to revisit that simple meal - no complaints.  Friday we did the tofu stirfry with bagged coleslaw mix and noodles.  Saturday we grabbed some more falafel/hummus rolled pitas from Aladdins on our way home from teaching Sunday school.  All in all it was a good nutritious week - at least I thought so.

Jerry and Abby did some nice trail running together this week.  I'm a little jealous but I had lots and lots to do.  Gina is hanging onto swimming to release some of the end of the school year stress.  We are just so looking forward to getting up to the mountains and taking some long, deep breaths of that delicious air!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cleveland Half Marathon - A Little BIt Faster!

Last month I was really happy with the way things turned out at the Spring Classic.  My half marathon time was a little bit faster than the previous half I ran in 2008.  That was good.  I was not really sure how to approach Cleveland.  It's always nice to go a little bit faster with each and every race, but we all know that is not always possible.  I knew the crowd would factor in - there were 15,000 runners registered for Cleveland as opposed to the couple hundred at Spring Classic.  You add in the weather, the course, and all the other variables that are out of your control and the truth is you just never know how things will work out.  For that reason, I just didn't come up with a set of goals this time.

The weather was perfect!  Low 50s at the start so I was fairly comfortable waiting around in shorts and an extra long-sleeve T-shirt that I pitched before entering the starting area. 

One of the best parts of the day was that we brought one of Gina's friends who is a great HS cross-country runner.  She seems to have the desire to continue running and we wanted to share with her what the marathon venue feels like.  It's always great to see how someone reacts to the day.  That is the great part of running in general - all ages, all sizes - you either get it or you don't.  She gets it!

My brain is so used to 4-hr marathon splits that I had an extremely difficult time trying to calculate what sort of final time I might end up with.  I was clicking off lots of 8.30s and that was feeling really good.  My usual marathon goal pace is right around 9-minute miles so 8.30s are a good deal faster.  I hadn't studied the course very much since I assumed it was the same as last year, but it felt very different.  The distraction was kind of good, I guess.  I thought when I got to mile 9 or 10 I would pick it up if possible but I forgot how that section is a gradual climb with headwinds off the lake.  Not so nice and it did cause me to slow down over miles 11 and 12. 

Jerry and the three girls were on the shoreway just before mile 12.  Apparently they REALLY liked the idea that they could walk on the highway.  I was super happy to see them at the end of all that gradual climbing.  It wasn't until I got to mile 12 that I could calculate an approximate finish time.  My watch read 1:43 which left me a good 11 minutes to beat the time from Spring Classic.  I realized I was also close to beating the time from my very first half marathon in 2003.  The group of runners I had been around seemed to be collectively picking up the pace so I just went along with it.  I finished at 1:51.13!  Super happy but with lots of sore toes and feeling a bit beat up from all that concrete city street running.  The fact that I improved a time from 7 years ago tells me that I have been doing some things right and I hope to continue and make a good run at Columbus in October.

We then headed out to the 25th mile to await the finishers.  It was really great to watch the bell curve play out as the first finishers trickled in and then a few more until it was constant runners around that 3:45/4 hour mark.  Lots of amazing effort out there on the course - you just can't explain it unless you've been there.  We did our best to cheer and not say the things I know we runners don't like to hear:  You're Looking Good, You're ALMOST there.  The truth is you are NOT looking good and you are NOT almost there until you are within crawling distance of the timing mat!  We found that most runners just stared ahead as we cheered but if we said, "No more turns now, the finish is straight ahead!"  that almost always got a head turn and a smile. 

Now it's time to focus on getting ready for vacation!  School is over in 9 days.  I am working on getting Abby to agree to a 10K in June and Gina will focus on swimming and getting ready for swim camp.  Jerry is in full Burning River mode and planning a 50-mile training run at night during Memorial Day weekend.  Good times ahead without a doubt!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I Love Lentils!

My Grandma used to make the best lentil soup!  I always loved the earthy, comforting taste of it.  I could open a can of Progresso Lentil soup and eat the whole thing -warm or cold, doesn't matter.  I came across this recipe a few months ago in a vegetarian cook book and it has become one of our favorite dishes.  It's super easy comfort food at its finest.

Lentil and Rice Casserole
1 cup uncooked rice (brown or white - I mix it up)
1 cup dried lentils
1 cup chopped onion
32 oz vegetable/chicken broth
1 tbsp dried italian seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 8-oz pkg shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat casserole dish with cooking spray.  Combine all ingredients, mix well.  Pour into dish and bake, covered for 1.5 to 2 hours.

In the last post I wrote about our new hiking supplies.  Everything got tested out on Mother's Day during a short hike of Wetmore Trail leading to the goat farm that Jerry has been telling us about for years.  It was a wonderful way to spend the day - splashing through several stream crossings to make sure the waterproof Gortex boots kept the girls feet dry (they did!).  Gina spoke to the goats and we all enjoyed being close to farm animals again.  Jerry and the girls then treated me to an awesome homemade Thai stir-fry with so many veggies it was unbelievable!  It was so nice to watch someone else do all the washing and chopping and cooking and cleaning up!  Of course the Pièce de résistance had to be the chocolate lava cakes that ended the meal.  Heavenly, warm, gooey, delicious chocolate..........Thank you one and all for a great day!  Oh and the handmade cards with lots of writing inside were just what I wanted and that LUSH sandstone soap - you know it makes me happy!

So now we are looking forward to Sunday when I will run the half marathon in Cleveland.  I hate to say it's no biggie, but honestly I am just viewing it as a chance to run in a crowd and enjoy the day that God brings on.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I Ain't Goin' Nowhere!

We got busy last week and started gathering supplies for our vacation to the Adirondacks next month.  We decided it was time to change the way we hydrate on our hikes and purchased two new hydration packs for Gina and Abby.  We have been sharing two Camelbaks for a long time - one is a waistpack and the other is a backpack.  We noticed last year that it was getting kind of gross slurping water out of the same mouthpieces.  When the girls were little it seemed fine and dandy, but there was something strange about it last year.  I found some last week at REI-outlet and ordered two.  Stylish, built for a woman's frame - everyone will be much happier being boss of their own water from now on!  No more stopping on the trail to ask for a drink of water from somebody else's pack.

We then moved onto the task of buying new hiking boots for both girls.  I inherited the pair we bought in Lake Placid for Gina a couple years ago.  She has been wanting more ankle support and now her feet should be done growing so we are pretty comfortable spending the money on "good" boots.  I expect Abby to keep growing so she still had to shop on a budget!  We spent a fair amount of time looking online and then took a trip to Gander Mountain for sizing.  Abby found a pair of North Face there that we bought.  We ended up ordering a pair of Merrell boots for Gina and another pair of North Face shoes for Abby just to be sure.  They arrived and the fashion show soon followed.

Adirondack hiking trails can pretty much be described in one word:  ROCKS!  Little rocks, big rocks, mammoth giant scare-the-beejeezus out of me rocks.  If I think about it too much I get terrified because one small slip on a big giant hard rock could be devastating.  So when we shop for hiking shoes I am constantly flipping them over to look at the treads.  I want the "grippiest" shoes I can find!  Apparently the girls have caught on to this because as soon as Gina took her boots out of the box, she flipped them over and said "I ain't goin' nowhere in these!"   That's right, Gina, nowhere but up Algonquin Mountain - supposedly one of the hardest hikes in NY state.  Hopefully there will be no slipping and sliding (except on our butts when we are too scared to stand up going down some of the huge rocky sections!).

Abby made her selection for the shoes we ordered (the blue ones) so I will just need to return the other ones to Gander Mountain.  It's going to be a great vacation!  We're on the countdown - bring on the mountains!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Week in Review 4/25/10 - 5-1/10

Monday:  5 mile run
Tuesday:  30 minutes yoga, 4 mile run with Jerry
Wednesday:  30 minutes yoga
Thursday:  10 mile run
Friday:  4 mile run
Saturday:  4 mile run with Abby

Total Running Miles:  27 miles

People always ask me what I think about while I run since I normally run by myself and I do not use an ipod unless I am on the treadmill.  Well, my good friend, Veronica, lost her mom this week and that thought swirled around my head through most of my runs. Thursday's ten miles were spent remembering the Charlottesville Marathon which Veronica and I both ran in 2006.  It was my third marathon and her first.  It was incredibly hot, hilly and humbling.  I always think back to that as the toughest race I've ever done - I mean I hit the wall at mile 11 and never recovered.  It was a LONG day!  But the highlight of the day was watching Veronica finish her first marathon.  Her Mom and Dad had made the trip from Cleveland to support her and they had a great time witnessing what transpires during a marathon - especially a tough one like C'ville.  At the finish line, Veronica looked strong and her Mom was waiting to join her in crossing the finish line.  It was a moment we all really treasured and now even more so with her passing. 

The funeral was Saturday morning and Jerry and I returned home around 2 in the afternoon.  I went immediately to Abby's room and asked her if she wanted to run with me.  She said yes!  We discussed where to go and decided on the Buckeye Trail in Bedford.  We changed and got into the car.  It was one of those cathartic runs that took me from feeling sad to feeling near bliss.  Abby pulled away as soon as we got on the trail but I had her in sight and just locked in on how awesome she is.  It was a quiet run.  We stopped by the overlook to enjoy a quick view of Tinkers Creek and the valley extending out before us.  Twenty minutes out, twenty minutes back.  Forty minutes of the best therapy out there and we both needed it badly.

I'm still learning vegetarian ways and still struggling with meal timing.  Track meets, swim practice, evening runs - it is making life so hectic (just like everyone else), but I am getting through day by day and still getting lots of compliments from the crew on our meals.  We returned home from NY last Sunday and whipped up Huevos Rancheros (eggs, rice and hot sauce).  That is always a crowd pleaser, especially on a tired Sunday night.  Monday I tried a new way to make tofu - I drained it and pressed it and cut it into triangles then marinated it in teriyaki sauce.  When I returned home from work I took the triangles and put them in a ziploc baggie with panko bread crumbs and shook it gently.  Then I baked it for half an hour or so.  It was SOOOOOOO good!  As a matter of fact, by the time Abby and I returned from track there was barely enough to go around.  I will repeat that at the end of this week with two packs of tofu!   We also had very simple french bread pizzas and roasted asparagus; tuna noodle casserole; stuffed shells and salad, and quickie quesadillas on Saturday night.   I think very soon Jerry will sneak out on his lunch hour and gorge himself on meat.   Yesterday after his 20 mile run I thought he was going to eat the kitchen chairs.  I need to address that issue next I guess - how to feed someone training for a 100-mile race without resorting to meat for protein.