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I know this was supposed to be “Wordless Wednesday” but I’m rambling…  Besides, I just wanted to put cute dog pictures up.

Do you know what happens when I can’t run?

I get GRUMPY.  And I drown my frustrations/injury sorrows in everything in our kitchen – namely, peanut butter and ice cream.  Now I have to go grocery shopping tomorrow because I’ve eaten everything that isn’t nailed down.

I’ve noticed that I take much better care of myself when I run.  Specifically, right after a good long run.  Even stupid little things, like using moisturizer, or flossing.  Right after I get done with a good long run, I feel like I want to do other things that are good for myself.

Oh sure, there are times when I just don’t feel like running that day.  And in those times, I do get a little frustrated, but it’s a different kind of frustrated than the way I’m feeling right now.  Now that I CAN’T run, there is nothing I want more right now than to lace up my shoes and go pound out a 20 miler.

I miss my long runs.  They are my “me time.”  They are the times when I get to just zone out and think about nothing.  Or think about anything and everything.  Whatever I feel like that day.  It’s just my time for me.  I haven’t had a good long run in two and a half weeks – not since my 18 miler.  Oh sure, the first 10 or 12 miles of my long run a week and a half ago were good, but then it all went downhill and that kind of put a sour note on the whole thing.  I’m starting to go a little stir-crazy.  I used to think people were weird when they said things like that, but now I completely understand.

I have my orthopedist appointment on Friday morning and I am absolutely terrified that he’s going to tell me it’s something that requires weeks of rest to improve.  I want to go there, have him look at it, and say I’m good to go.  And then this weekend I can try my 20 miler again.  Unfortunately, I’m pretty much expecting that not to be the case.  Even if it looks okay, I know I shouldn’t jump right back in to 20s.

I know there are plenty of other races.  I know I’m the only one who this really matters for.  But it’s still making me crazy.  I set out to do my marathon on May 30th.  And if May 30th rolls around and I’m not running, I’m going to be so frustrated.  Even if it is for the best.

I think I’m already mentally preparing for the worst and shifting my sights to the September marathon instead.  If Buffalo works out, fantastic.  If not, I’ve already dealt with the disappointment.  But man, that’s an expensive race shirt and goody bag.

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  1. Pin your number to your pant leg. It makes it easier to take off layers while you run.  It’s far more likely you’ll be needing to take your shirt off during a race than your pants!  (One would hope…)
  2. Even if you’re cold at the start, wear a t-shirt! You’ll be wishing you did very shortly!
  3. If it hurts, STOP!!! It’s okay (heck, good!) to be smart about your physical well-being.  If anybody understands this, it’s other runners.
  4. Walking through aid stations is a good idea. It’s MUCH easier to actually get the water IN your mouth if you’re walking.  Plus it’s only for a second, so unless you’re aiming to WIN (not me!), it won’t make much of a difference.
  5. Get there early and hit up the restrooms BEFORE the 20-minute line forms. Yikes.

So I tried out the new shoes last night (just 2 miles) and it was hard to tell if they helped at all.  I was so hyper-sensitive to everything and even the slightest twinge had me on edge.  I know this is more severe than a “worn out shoe” pain.  I was just in denial.

I decided to take the week off and just rest it.  I’ll continue icing and using the heating pad before bed.  I have an appointment with my orthopedist for Friday morning.  If he looks at it and says it’s okay, great.  If not, I’ll work on my recovery one day at a time.

I may not be able to run the Buffalo Marathon May 30th like I planned, but I can work towards the one I had planned for September.  There’s lots of other races.

Stupid knees!

If you had told me a year ago that I would be voluntarily cooking, and enjoying, something called fiddleheads, I would have thought you were nuts.  But here they are!

One of our recent CSA items in our crop share was fiddleheads!  These puppies are only available for about two weeks every year, so I was determined to get some and try them out.

Image source

Fiddleheads are part of the fern family.  They are essentially just baby ferns before they unroll into the regular ferns you see out in the woods.  But they’re harvested before they have a chance to unroll.

Sauteed Fiddlehead and Mushroom Pasta

Again, bear with me and the crappy camera and bad lighting.  Our apartment is extremely dark.

Ingredients

  • Approx. 1 cup fiddleheads
  • LOTS of sliced mushrooms
  • Approx. 1/4 cup sliced onions
  • Approx. 2 cloves minced garlic
  • Approx. 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • Approx. 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Spaghetti (or whatever pasta you feel like)
  1. Remove brown papery covering from fiddleheads and boil for 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  3. Add 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to a large skillet and saute fiddleheads, mushrooms, onions, and garlic.  One minute before removing from heat, add red pepper flakes and white wine.
  4. Mix sauteed veggies with pasta, drizzle with olive oil, and enjoy!

Next time we make this we’re going to try some kind of light garlic sauce.  But it was delicious with just the olive oil too!

So Sunday was my first half marathon.  I signed up for it so long ago (October 2009) that it was weird to think that it was finally race day.

Saturday night it was time to get ready and lay out everything for the race…

If you notice, the massage stick has an ace bandage wrapped around one end.  That’s not just for fun…

On Saturday afternoon, my husband and I went out for an… interesting… motorcycle ride (we got lost).  We decided to leave Rocket out of his crate since we are working on transitioning him to “big boy” status.  Unfortunately, Rocket decided to be not so good…

Ahh… Rocket.  He threw it all up later that night.  Having dogs is fun.

Anyway, back to the race!

We got up at 5am and were out the door by 6am.  It was a two hour drive from our house to Middlebury.  I was really glad my husband was going with me because I am horrible at waking up and doing a long drive first thing in the morning.

Even though the weather report called for rain, it turned out to be a beautiful day!

The girl next to me at the start was wearing Vibram Five Fingers, which I am really interested in trying out…

She was really happy with them and highly recommended them.  Now I just need to find someone to buy them for me.  Anyone…?

The pre-race festivities were fairly small.  I checked in at the tent and got my race shirt and timing chip.  I turned out to be #27, which was surprising.  I didn’t realize I registered so early!  There were 400-something individual runners, and several 2-person relay teams.

The gun went off pretty much on time.  There may have been a few minutes of a delay, but overall, it was a very well organized race.  I started my watch with the gun and got going.

The start of the race runs through downtown Middlebury.  There were lots of people lining the streets and cheering.  Not an enormous crowd, but it was nice to be at a race where there were people cheering somewhere other than the start and finish.

At the first mile marker, I checked my watch and was shocked – I was running a 9:00/mile pace!  Usually when I do my long runs I do around a 10:00 mile.  I figured I’d be in the 9’s this time, but I didn’t think I’d actually run a 9:00 mile.  It felt good too!

Once we got out of downtown, we headed out on some country roads, through a covered bridge, and out into some farmland.  Mile two felt good.  At the second mile marker, I was shocked to see that I maintained that 9:00 mile.  And still felt great!

Mile 3 was when the hills started.  It was also when my  left knee started to rebel.  I ordered new shoes after my disastrous 20-miler last weekend, but they were still in the mail.  So I had to run in my old shoes.  I figured it would be okay, since I didn’t usually get any knee pain until around mile 12 or so.  And at that point I could manage to deal with it for a few miles until the end.

Unfortunately, my knee decided it didn’t want to wait until mile 12 to give me problems.  Starting in the third mile, I had the same pain in my knee (under my kneecap) as I did on my 20 miler the previous weekend.  I walked through the water station to give my knee a second to recover (and a chance to drink – I am not that coordinated).  I managed to make it to 3 miles without being in agony, but once I got to that point, it was all over.  I spent mile 4 to mile 8 doing a combination of run/hop and walking every 100 feet or so.  It was awful.

Somehow, I was able to hop/walk my way to 8 miles…

Oh my… I don’t look very happy…

At 8 miles, we were back at the starting area and my husband.  I waved him over to my side of the road and explained what was going on with my knee.  I was so upset.  I decided to try to keep going, since I had made it that far, and only had 5 miles left.  I got another 100 feet or so down the road and realized it wasn’t going to happen.

I felt like such an idiot walking off the course.  I run 15+ miles all the time.  13.1 is not a problem for me!  But I felt like there was a big “DNF” stamped on my forehead.  It was obvious that I was injured, but I still felt like a failure.  I know I did the right thing by stopping.  If I hadn’t, I could have made it worse and given myself an even more serious problem, or needed more of a recovery time afterwards.  This race was not my focus.  It was just supposed to be for fun.  And it wasn’t worth compromising my full marathon just to finish.

My full is five weeks away.  When I got home from this race, I spent a lot of time looking up runners knee (what I am 90% certain this problem is).  I iced it when I got home, tried to keep from bending it too much, took a NSAID, and used the heating pad before going to bed.  Today it is feeling much better.

My new shoes arrived today and now I’m off to the basement and the treadmill to see if that helps at all.  I also made an appointment when my orthopedist for Friday just in case the problem is still there.  I hope I don’t end up needing it.

All in all, this was a nice race.  The course was nice – very hilly, but good.  There were portions that were on dirt roads, which was different, but also more forgiving on the legs.  It was well run, and had nice support along the course (spectators and aid stations).  I definitely plan on running it again next year – and finishing it this time!

New shoes, ordered!

I wear Asics GT-2140s and had a heck of a time finding them in my size and width.  I wear a 6.5 D (wide) which is apparently very popular.  So when I finally managed to track some down (thank you, 6pm.com!), I ordered two pairs.  Now I won’t have to buy shoes for quite a while!  I’m hoping these two pairs last me through this marathon and my one I have planned for the end of September.

Yay for new shoes!

So today I had my first 20 mile run planned.  I had been looking forward to this run all week.

Unfortunately, the world had other plans.

I was all suited up and ready to go!  Jade and Rocket are wondering if they’re coming.

I decided to run to work and back twice since it’s 5 miles each way.  I had been checking the weather all morning and it looked like we would be alright for a while, so I headed out the door.  Before I even got down our driveway, it started to rain.  A couple feet down the road I noticed that it wasn’t raining, it was HAILING.  That’s right, HAIL.

Right then I knew this would either be an excellent run where I overcame all sorts of adversity, or it would just suck.  Turns out it was kind of both.

Things I got over on this run:

  • Adverse weather – Hail to start, and then it ended up raining off and on through the whole run.
  • Hills!
  • Running on busy 55mph roads
  • Running decently far from home

Once I got to work I felt good and decided to change it to just a straight “out and back” run.  So I continued around town for another 5 miles.  At 10 miles I turned around and took the same route back.

Everything was fine and I was feeling good until mile 12.  When I have IT band issues it’s always in my right knee.  When my left knee hurts, it’s always more “runners knee”-ish.  And today my left knee started acting up like something awful.

I managed to hobble another 4.2 miles, and at mile 16.2, I ended up calling my husband in tears because I needed him to come pick me up.  I really wanted to keep going, but I was 3.8 miles from home and I knew there was no way I was going to make it all the way back.  I cried all the way home because I was so mad at myself for not being able to finish.  When I got home I went straight to the basement and did another 1.3 miles on the treadmill, but once I hit 17.5 I knew there was no way I was going to make it to 20 miles.

The most frustrating part is that as soon as I stopped, my knees felt fine.  It was just when I was running.  I think I just need to replace my shoes.  You’re supposed to replace your running shoes every 300-500 miles, and these have 300+ miles on them.  Hopefully that will take care of the problem.

So here it is…  My valiant effort…

I still have two more 20+ mile runs before my full, so I should be okay.

This coming weekend is my first competitive half marathon!  It should be lots of fun!

So this dish has become a staple in our house.  We seem to eat it once a week because not only is it SUPER easy, but my husband LOVES IT (so do I)!  He actually specifically requests it for dinner just about every week.  Yes, this is my meat-loving husband I am talking about.  And I promise, I didn’t brainwash him.  If he ever turns 100% vegetarian, I’m certain it will be because of this dinner.  My best friend is also planning on making this dish to feed to her tofu-skeptical brother.

So once again, I made my pad thai, but this time I finally remembered to take pictures!  I’ve also experimented with stuff, so now it’s better than before!

Press and slice your tofu.  I tend to slice mine into 1/4 inch cubes.

While cooking the tofu, get some water boiling for the rice noodles.  We have found that we like the flat and wide rice noodles and NOT the thin rice sticks.  The sticks tend to be chewier.  Cook according to package directions, drain, rinse, and set aside.

Saute tofu in approx. 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil until browned and crispy on the outside.

That is some golden deliciousness right there.

My tried-and-true sauce combination.  Make sure you shake up the hot sauce before pouring!

Man I wish I had a better camera.  And better lighting.  Sigh…

Add about 3 tbsp peanut sauce and hot sauce to taste.  Stir to coat the tofu.

Add in fresh broccoli, sliced water chestnuts, and about another 3 tbsp of the peanut sauce.  Stir to coat.

Stir in rice noodles.  Add more peanut sauce if desired (we tend to like ours with a little extra sauce).

Enjoy!

Other things that are delicious to include:

  • Peanuts
  • Crunchy noodle things (can’t remember their actual names…  I’ll find out.)
  • Scallions

I’ve wanted to write a review of my tofu press for a while now, but hadn’t gotten around to taking pictures until this week.  So here goes!

What is it?

The TofuXpress tofu press is a clear plastic box with a spring-loaded lid that, when locked in place, will press down on your tofu to remove the water.  It also comes with a lid for the box which you can use when marinating your tofu.

What’s the point?

Have you ever tried to press tofu?  It’s a gigantic pain.  The typical method of pressing tofu is to put the tofu between two plates and then pile weights (cans of soup, etc.) on top.

My former “tofu press.”  What you can’t see is the three cookbooks on top of the toaster oven.

Also, please excuse the nasty counter.  We live in a crappy apartment and the kitchen SUCKS and the counter is all chipped and stained.  Someday we’ll have a house… Someday…

Obviously, this type of tofu press is extremely awkward and severely limits the amount of time you can spend pressing the unrefrigerated tofu.  And you aren’t a true tofu chef until your “press” has toppled over and made some sort of mess all over your kitchen or fallen on your head while you are reaching into a cupboard.

So how does it work?

I admit, from just looking at the picture of the tofu press I had a slightly difficult time figuring out how this little gizmo worked.  But I bit and bought one (two actually – one for me, and one for my best friend who first introduced me to the wonders of tofu).  When it arrived, I was happy to see that the press was extremely easy to use!

Step 1: Place your tofu into the press and attach the top (the sides of the spring top latch into the base)

Step 2: Enjoy watching the action!  (No matter how many times I do this, I always watch it for a second.  It’s so cool!)

Step 3: Put in the refrigerator and let it press for as long as you like.  I usually press mine for two days.  There’s always one in there ready to be used at a moment’s notice.

Step 4: Remove from the refrigerator and admire your “hard work.”

Step 5: Before removing the top, pour off the water.

Step 6: Remove the tofu from the press, slice, and enjoy!

Does it work?

YES!!!  I am SO so thrilled with this press.  It really helps you to get to a whole new level of tofu firmness.  When pressed overnight, it’s way better than anything I was able to do with my plates, toaster oven, and books.  The presses compactness makes it so easy to put the tofu in, stick it in the fridge and leave it for a couple days without any problem.  Again, without this press, I couldn’t press my tofu for more than a few hours because it had to stay out on the counter.

Here’s a great (and amusing) Facebook comment my friend left for me about the one I bought for her…

That just about says it all.  We’ve been spreading the good word to all our tofu-loving friends.

Where can you get one (or two)?

TofuXpress

One press = $36.95

Two presses = $69.90

Let me know if you try one out!  I love this thing!

I should note that I wasn’t compensated for this review in any way.  I just really love this thing!

Need to contact me?

geonerdette at gmail dot com

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