Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Greens and Peas...

We aren’t big on traditions in our house. For Thanksgiving, our tradition has become one of me getting up super early to run the Atlanta Thanksgiving Half while CR turns the channel to the news and tries to catch a glimpse of me. In our almost 20 years of marriage, we have only put up a Christmas tree once that I can remember. We used to be out of town most Christmases and that was our excuse. Now I think we are just lazy in that regard. It would require someone to take the tree down and all… I have lights on our fake ficus tree. I usually plug them in on Christmas Eve. It is truly festive. :)

Our New Year’s is not totally devoid of tradition, I do partake in black eyed peas, collard greens, ham and cornbread on New Years Day. I thought this was a common tradition but in reading yesterday, I am now wondering if this just might be a southern thing. You tell me… Have you heard of this? Here is the story...

Apparently, greens and peas guarantee a prosperous year. The tradition comes from Civil War days and is folklore so there are other versions of the story. When the Union troops came through and pillaged the land, the only thing left behind were black eyed peas and greens to feed the livestock which southerners used to survive. The greens are said to represent dollar bills and the peas represent coins. Toss in some cornbread to represent gold and you have good luck, wealth and hope for good things to come. I am not sure where the pork comes in to the picture. I did read that the more pork you have the more you luck you will have so pork chops, pork loin, bacon and ham for everyone! (BTW if you have any uncooked greens left over, you can tack them to the ceiling for good luck. I guess that is a southern version of mistletoe? I will probably pass on that tradition…)

Happy New Year one and all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It is beginning to look a lot like Iron...

Two days ago I embarked on a virtual 70.3 race, Iron Christmas. Two days ago, I was not thinking clearly. My planned runs for the week were easily 13.1 miles. In my mind, I just needed to squeeze in a 1.2 mile swim and a 56 mile bike ride. Child’s play (cough, cough). The swim was easy enough. As always, the bike comes back to bite me. Never underestimate the bike! Do you know how long it takes to ride 56 miles? I do now.

My plan became a series of 2-a-days that came to a screeching halt when on Tuesday evening, CR casually asked me what I had planned for Thursday night. “Oh, erm, nothing”, I replied knowing that trying to explain the importance of me completing a virtual race as opposed to whatever he had in mind for Thursday would go over about as well as my plan to start spelling my name with a Y. Turns out his store is having a Christmas/birthday party on Thursday night. The details are a little sketchy but I am told it involves BBQ, me bringing toffee, and everyone shooting bowling pins. (Not to worry, CR works at a gun range and apparently bowling pins make fun targets).

Given my newfound plans for Thursday, I have been hustling up time on the bike. 20 miles here, 10 miles there. I have logged 44 miles at this point and have 12 more to go along with a 6 mile run sometime between now and tomorrow night. Should be interesting! All in all a big thank you to Lucas for pushing us to get our booties off the candy cane train this week and keep moving. Did I mention there were time penalties for eating cake?

Well, I have some miles to log, BBQ to eat and bowling pins to shoot.... I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gifts in my mailbox...

I opened up my mailbox Monday morning to discover a package with my name on it! I had a brief moment of "what in the world" and "who do I know in MA" before I remembered that I was participating in the Blogger Gift Exchange over at Run with Jill. Trust me when I tell you, your mind really does start to chip away the minute you blow out the candles on your 40th birthday cake.

My gift came from Karyn at Running Mumma. She is in the process of training for her first marathon, so stop over and give her some blog love! Fun (or maybe lame) fact, I tried to get people to spell my name (Karen) with a Y instead of an E for a few months in my late teens. It was only slightly less successful than my half birthday celebration initiative. Somehow spelling Karen with a Y seemed so much cooler. Clearly, Running Mumma's parents knew...

Not only does she have a name that is spelled the coolest way possible but also selected the perfect gift. My gift: a box of Vanilla GU (my current fave), carrot cake Larabars and a ITunes gift card! True blogger gift love. Thank you Karyn!

In other news, the running this weekend went GREAT! I don't believe I have ever felt so prepared heading into a race. I mean, I did the Dopey Challenge (5k, 13.1 and 26) this weekend (minus the cheering crowds, t-shirts and medals) so I just have to recreate it a couple of weeks from now. I am truly excited!

Since I don't have anything else to do this week (LOL), I am doing the Iron Christmas 70.3. If you have some time to work in a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 miles of running broken up any which way between now and Friday, check out the challenge at Super Fatlete.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Three Things for Thursday

1. Our office had its annual Christmas Party this afternoon. Over the years the party has dwindled from a dress up event in a rented ballroom to a catered lunch in the office to this year's "potluck dessert" party. Honestly, today's party was probably more fun than I have had in a while at one of our parties. We had a variety of coffees and assorted fancy creams, baileys and kahlua as well as entirely too many desserts. After everyone was revived from their diabetic comas, we played catch phrase for about an hour. Catch Phrase is a little like the $25,000 pyramid if you are old enough to remember such things. You basically give clues so that your team can guess the word or phrase. So. Much. Fun.

2. Tomorrow begins the final uber long run of the plan for the Goofy Challenge. I am sticking with Galloway for this one. Tomorrow AM is a 13 miles run followed by a 26 mile run on Saturday. Kind of interesting that the Galloway plan takes you to the full 26 miles. It worked well 2 weeks ago with 10 and 22 miles so we will do it again this weekend! Hard to believe the race is only 3 weeks away...

3. I popped into the pool for some laps yesterday AM. It has been way too long and it showed. I did 1600 meters in about 30 minutes which wasn't really bad in terms of time but I could tell it in my arms. I am *this close* to committing to a 70.3 next year so need to work the swim back into my routine. Well, that and get my bike fixed... right after I get my new oven ;)

Speaking of ovens, CR spent all day Monday investigating options and it was determined that my oven is so ancient there are no longer parts made for it. Of course, now that I have no oven, I am craving all sorts of things that can only be made in an oven. Chex mix for example. Yes, I can buy it but for some reason I am dying to make it. I do not know why...

My lack of an oven made the dessert potluck a little challenging but I did manage to pull off some super easy, old school treats on my stovetop.

Nut Mallow Goodies

1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. butterscotch chips
1/2 c peanut butter
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 c peanuts

Melt the 1st three ingredients over low heat until smooth. (You probably could do it in a microwave as well). Once melted, remove from heat and stir in the marshmallows and peanuts. Spread into a wax paper lined 8x8 pan. Chill until firm and cut into squares. Voila. You have a treat for your dessert potluck.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Jingle all the way...

My Saturday morning started early with the buzz of the alarm clock at 5 AM. Even though my eyes were barely open, I hopped out of bed to pull myself together for the Jingle Jog 5k. I have wanted to do this race so many times in the past and have never gotten around to it due to other conflicts. I wasn't going to miss it this year! I made a peanut butter sandwich with pumpkin butter, grabbed my ipod full of Christmas tunes and my santa hat then headed out the door.

I have a habit of arriving earlier than necessary for races and this was no exception. I only wish I had the same habit for other occasions in life. My thought in getting there a little early is to avoid an issues with directions or parking once I get there which usually saves me a lot of unwanted stress. I arrived just as the vendors were getting set up so I kept warm in my car entertaining myself with facebook and taking a quick 20 minute nap. (I have no issues sleppeing anywhere which is a bonus for times like this...).

I wiped the sleep out of my eyes and braved the cold to head across the street and pick up my number. For a 5k, this race had more vendors than any I had ever seen. There was a truck from the Salvation Army to pick up toys along with their brass band and a catering truck offering hot chocolate and coffee. In the vendor area, there were bouncy houses for the kids and a rock climbing wall, more than a few restaurants offering up BBQ sandwiches, brunswick stew, breakfast burritos, cupcakes, doughnuts and the like. All at 8 AM.

The race itself was a bit of a spectacle for the variety of costumes. Everything from santa hats to elves to someone dressed like a pink pig (which I am not sure how that fit into Christmas but to each his own...). Plenty of dogs were costumed and out for the run as well. I ran part of the way with a father - daughter pair. The daughter was probably 9 or 10 and the Dad kept sprinting ahead so he could take pictures of her running. He must have done it about 10 times. Hopefully he got a good shot. What felt like minutes after we started, I was sprinting across the finish line. If you are ever in the Atlanta area, this would be a fun race for the holiday season. This was their 23rd running so make plans to attend next year!

In other news, I had BIG plans to do my holiday baking today only to discover that after 30 some odd years of faithful service my oven has gone to the big appliance store in the sky. I might have cried a bit. I doubt if we are going to be able to afford to get a new one any time real soon so there will be no Christmas baking this year. I am the person at work and in my circle of friends that brings copious amounts of baked goods in at Christmas each year so to not be able to make treats, well, it is very sad. I am currently investigating recipes for things that can be made on the stove or perhaps I could start a new tradition of holiday cleaning (or not...) :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Let's Talk Galloway...

I am not going to lie, the last 10 miles or so of the Chickamauga Marathon last month were torture. Extreme knee pain. How ironic that what felt like a 10 mile death march was being played out on a civil war battlefield. After several weeks to sort of analyze the situation, the only thing I can really blame is my lack of commitment to the training plan. My muscles felt great post-race, the only thing holding me back was my knee and somewhat my hip. Basically, the pain was in one knee and mostly limited to going up or down stairs. I think it was probably classic runner’s knee, you know, going too far too soon in the plan without gradually building up the mileage.

A little less than two weeks after the marathon, I had my Thanksgiving half. I knew I didn’t want to cancel the race but had a lack of confidence in my ability to run full force since I was still experiencing knee pain. During the Chickamauga, I noticed more people than usual using a run-walk program. I know this because it was a no headphones race and all I could hear were the chirps of the various timers going off. Well, I could hear than and the dulcet tones of the only songs running through my head (John Denver’s Country Roads and Thank god I’m a Country Boy – I have no idea why as that is not my normal playlist, feel free to mock me).

The idea of doing the Thanksgiving Half Galloway style really appealed to me. I do not judge people who walk a marathon, get it done however you need to do it. You finished the same 26.2 I did, kudos to you. I am, however, hard on myself and judge myself for walking more than a water stop. Knowing I wasn’t going to be able to run the whole half, I had to let go of that issue within myself. I can’t say I completely OK with walking but it definitely made a difference in finishing versus not finishing that race.

The premise of Galloway at a high level is that you are giving your body rest breaks before you actually need it. Theoretically, when you get to those later miles while runners typically might slow down you are still filling good and can maintain your normal pace. The training plan on the Walt Disney website for the Goofy Challenge calls for 2 runs midweek (which I run as opposed to run/walk) and a long run (or two) on the weekend. For the Thanksgiving half, I ended up running a 6:1 ratio. Six minutes of running, one minute of walking. Of course, it took me three miles to realize that I didn’t have the timer set correctly on my Garmin but once I got going, it worked great. In the end it added about 10 minutes to my overall finish time. The difference being, I felt decent when I finished. I probably would have felt great had my knee not been bothering me going into the race.

The Saturday following the Thanksgiving Half, I was able to run 23 miles using Galloway from start to finish. I never felt any knee pain during that run and felt pretty good at the end. Had it been an actual marathon, I am pretty sure I could have pushed out three more miles. At this point, my knee feels 100% better and I am leaning towards running the 5k and Half during the Goofy and then using Galloway for the full. I cannot tell you how shocked I was at my ability to churn out those 23 miles. There is definitely something to methodology. Most likely, I will revert back to my normal running pattern for future races. For now, this works and I am so happy that I got over my self imposed running only rule and gave the Galloway method a try!

On sort of a post note, I have read that runner's knee can be helped by doing some strengthening exercises to include the abductor muscle. I have been working more on strength training the past few weeks in addition to sticking with the running plan in order to help the issue.