Monday, November 29, 2010


So PhillyGuy and I successfully hosted our first (albeit miniature) Thanksgiving. Thanks to some faithful bloggers and my personal favorite food nerd, Alton Brown, the menu was fantastic. I brined my eleven-pound turkey and cooked it perfectly. I made pumpkin scones for everyone for breakfast. I even got to use our wedding china for the first time.

(Incidentally, I always thought we got five sets from various people. Turns out I should have opened the boxes. Truth: we got four place settings and one set of four soup bowls.)

Anyway...the sad thing? I did not get to document ANY of my culinary prowess. Because I left my f&%^$ng memory card AND card reader at work. Fat lot of good a camera with no memory does.


I remembered to bring it home today, because I was super-freakin-pumped to show you what PhillyGuy and I spent Saturday night doing: DECKING THE HALLS.

I love, love, LOVE decorating for Christmas. I forced him to watch Love Actually, I drank Trader Joe's Candy Cane green tea, and I Christmas-ified the house.

(Editor's note: I uploaded and posted this picture before I realized PhillyGuy's creepy foot snuck in there, and I'm far too lazy to take another, sorry about that. Have some colored lights to make up for it.)

Best part? Tonight, after I came back from the gym - and MAN, did I ever work up a sweat - two miles in under 18 minutes for the first time in for-flipping-ever, followed by P90X chest & back - I got to hang out on the couch, lights off, reading on my new Nook Color by Christmas-tree-light.

It's okay - I don't mind being a nerd.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Philly Half Recap

recap time!

In a nutshell, I am so, SO glad I ran this race. I've been hemming and hawing for years about running a half. I bought a bib (gasp) for the Disney half in...wait for it...2005, and trained well for about two months before I found myself wobbling and limping around with an injured right hip in November of that year. I waited it out, let my hip heal, went back to running for a few months, hurt my right knee. Blah blah blah.

It was a full two years later that I finally signed up for and ran Broad Street 2008 as my first long race. I'd done a handful of 5ks by then and was running 15-20mpw, so with six weeks of training and a few long runs, I was in. I met my goal of 1:30 for that race, and then promptly found myself injured a few weeks later. Right knee this time. But that's what gave me the real "long race" bug.

I'm glad I ran this as my first half, instead of the Distance Run back in September. I blew off my training far too much for that, and I'd have been miserable the entire race. This time, I trained - not a lot, but I trained consistently.

More than anything, this race was FUN. Let's recap.

Standing at the starting line, I wasn't even nervous - I had some anticipation, and I was definitely ready to start, but I was just HAPPY to be running. The purple corral crossed the starting line about twenty minutes after the elites, and we were off.

The first two miles were slow - Arch Street is narrow, and there wasn't much room to weave, so Stephanie and I were held back a little bit. Once we made the turn onto Columbus, everything opened up a lot more...and we made the unfortunate mistake of weaving a bunch. Our pace picked up significantly, but this is where we really started to add distance. D'oh.

Once we turned onto Washington, we ran into Melissa! She looked so happy and was keeping a great pace for her first marathon. We ran together for a couple minutes before she took off up ahead.

We saw Lisa just past mile 4 - she was our first familiar face in the crowd and I think we ended up screaming more for her than she did for us - it was so nice to see a friend! I was a little surprised at how few and far between the spectators were for this race.

(photo courtesy of Lisa)

After that, we just cruised for the next few miles. It felt amazing - yes, I was working, but I felt strong and our pace felt sustainable. Our fastest mile was when we crested the hill on Chestnut Street approaching Drexel and the Mile 7 marker.

And then.

See, the entire race...I had to pee. Bad. When we saw the first porta-potties at Mile 2.2, I considered stopping then, but there were already people lined up and I didn't want to break my rhythm so early in the race. So, I sucked it up. Past the next two sets of porta-potties. Finally, though, at Mile 7, I couldn't fathom the idea of running for another hour without a little relief. So, Stephanie agreed to stop with me.

The lines were sort of long, but they were moving quickly - I'm guessing we were stopped for about 3 minutes or so. I was antsy, Steph was antsy - and then it was finally my turn. AND THEN. I walked into the porta potty, shut the door and looked down. I CANNOT EVEN DESCRIBE TO YOU THE HORROR THAT WAS THE SEAT OF THAT TOILET. two words (and they are NOT words for the faint of heart): bloody. poop.

That was it. I turned around and went right back out. Running the next 6.whatever miles with a full bladder was so, so, SO much better than dealing with that nightmare. And that, my friends, is the story of our 13:25 mile.

We saw PhillyGuy just past the awful porta potty station, up around 33rd and Chestnut - poor guy was literally just standing there by himself, no one around at all. The spectator situation was kind of weak, especially compared to Broad Street, where all ten miles are flanked by hundreds of people.

There was a little bit of a hill in the next mile, as we ran past Drexel frat houses and towards the Zoo. And then another little bit of a hill. And then another little bit of a hill. AND THEN THERE WAS THE GRANDADDY OF ALL HILLS, which seemed to last for ALL of mile 10. We made the conscious decision to walk the majority of that hill - I knew that if I tried to run it, I'd use up every once of gas I had left in my tank, and the last three miles would be pure misery.

Which, okay, they sort of were anyway. But whatever.

My favorite "cheer zone" was at the turnaround/switchback onto West River drive. I wish to god I had a picture of that - probably 6 or 8 young-ish kids, decked out in amazing costumes (I may have been hallucinating by then, but I recall a court jester-type outfit and a soft pretzel, among others), BLASTING Snap's "I Got the Power." Ridiculous as it may seem, that actually cheered me WAY up and gave me a good blast of energy.

At this point, I was feeling great mentally and aerobically, but my legs were really starting to get heavy and tired. Stephanie and I stopped once to stretch and then shuffled on. Somewhere in mile 11, both of us turned on our music for the first time in the entire race. I signaled to her a few minutes later that once my Garmin read 12 miles, I was going to take a walking break. And we broke. I could see the actual Mile 12 marker in the distance, so I suggested we walk to that marker and then kill it for the rest of the race.

Seeing my Garmin hit 12.25 miles at that stupid 12-mile marker was sickening. I knew we were getting increasingly over our distance, but I hadn't realized it was by a full quarter mile. But, whatever. It was time to kill it. And before I knew it, we were coming up the (f*#%&ng) hill off of MLK/West River with the museum on our left. I have never in my life felt so completely and totally exhausted. Every muscle in my body and every fiber of my lungs was screaming at me to stop. I screamed, too - I told Stephanie I wasn't sure I could do it. Thankfully, she was there to tell me otherwise - as we sprinted with every once of speed left in us around the Eakins Oval, we passed plenty of walkers, and if I wasn't running with a friend, that may well have been me.

It was insane - "Chariots of Fire" playing, the crowd screaming, the announcer calling out the winners of the MARATHON (gah, people run a marathon in the time it took me to run a half!), and all I could think was "WHY IS THIS FINISH LINE SO FAR AWAY????"

But - we did it. We finished. I ran my first half marathon with an official time of 2:23.50. I got my first medal EVER, a kickass shirt, a 13.1 mug, and a great sense of accomplishment. And maybe I'll run another one of these someday.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I didn't hit my sort-of-secret time goal of 2:15, but I did just fine. With plenty of help and encouragement from running buddy Stephanie.

Recap tomorrow. For now I'm hanging on my couch drinking Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride tea out of my 13.1 "been there, run that" mug that I picked up at the expo :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Elimination Diet

I mentioned on Twitter a while ago that PhillyGuy has been prescribed a very restrictive diet.

He's been having some GI issues and, among other things, is now being tested for various food allergies. This requires a couple of things, including starting with a completely clean slate.

The doctor called it an "elimination diet." Because it basically has eliminated all major possible allergens from his diet. What does that include? Let's see. Gluten and lactose, for sure. All dairy products. Most sugars - refined AND naturally occurring. Acidic stuff. Any refined carbohydrates or other processed food. Nothing with nitrates. Artificial sweeteners. Artificial ANYTHING. And (I suspect) soy.

However, instead of going at this from a "don't eat X, Y and Z" angle, the doctor (very helpfully) prescribed it from an "only eat A, B, and C" angle, which makes it much easier to follow. What does that leave us?

Just about any type of meat, as long as it's not processed - that means pork, chicken, red meat and fish. No ham, no bacon, no processed or treated lunch meat. Eggs. Brown rice, quinoa and millet (which I actually thought was birdseed and did not realize was available for human consumption). Nuts. Specific types of green and generally non-fibrous vegetables - summer squash, spinach, asparagus, green beans. Cook and season your foods with olive oil, parsley, salt and black pepper. Drink water, mint tea (SO GOOD) or fennel tea (vom vom vom).

It's been a challenge, for sure. Our meals have been repetitive, but (honestly) delicious. On the weekends, for breakfast we almost always have eggs over-easy, on top of quinoa and spinach. I've been pan-frying thick-sliced turkey breast and pretending it's canadian bacon. Dinner has been some kind of meat, either pork chops, chicken breast or steak, simply grilled with just salt, pepper and parsley. On the side, I roast veggies - almost always asparagus or fresh green beans - with olive oil, salt and freshly-ground pepper.

It's a challenge because it eliminated SO MANY of the things we had made staples, like mushrooms and onions and garlic and brussels sprouts. And seasonings! I have a cabinet full of herbs and spices that I can't touch.

But it's also been good, and not only because PhillyGuy is feeling MARKEDLY better. It's been good because we don't go out to eat or order takeout as often. It's been good that I now appreciate how tasty simple things can be. The first night I made veggies with only salt and pepper, instead of our usual rosemary/parmesean cheese mix, we were both shocked at how GOOD it was.

I've been cheating, though. Brown rice with just salt and pepper isn't quite as tasty as, say, asparagus. So I use some Earth Balance, too. I figure it's dairy free, gluten free and bad could it possibly be?? (Answer: soy. I bet soy is off-limits.)

Don't get me wrong - I'm looking forward to the next stages of this diet, when he gets to systematically introduce different allergens. Fruit would be nice, you know. Or cheese. In the meantime, the lack of tasty food groups and different spices has not stopped the dogs from assuming their usual begging positions.

It also hasn't stopped Sophie from having demon eyes in every freakin' picture.

And it hasn't stopped them from playing with their Martha Stewart screaming skeleton toy. That no longer screams (thank god) because Cosmo broke the screamer thing within the first ten minutes that the toy was in the house.

Still looking for anyone who wants to join a little pace group for the Philly half this weekend!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Short and Sweet

Yeah, I have like seven posts backed up in my brain. And no time to sit down and write out any of them. IMPORTANT QUESTION AT THE END!


Last week I intended to run my last LONG training run. I planned to do twelve miles. We spent the weekend helping my mom move, so I pushed the run until Tuesday.

And then Tuesday I was crabby and not feeling it. I headed out solo. I dressed too warmly. My camelbak was annoying me. I was really bored and distracted - and not the GOOD kind of distracted. I started playing games with myself. "Self," I said around mile five, "you don't have to run steady miles. Let's do intervals!" So I'd run a quicker half-mile, then walk for a tenth of a mile, and then repeat.

And then I decided that enough was enough and I didn't need to do twelve miles. So I did nine instead.

Whatever. Mental stamina...I does not have it. I hit nine right after the end of the river trail, and then walked the .37 miles to the little grocery store by my house before remembering to turn the Garmin off.

Stephanie and I met up for our last long run this weekend and knocked out 7.5 miles along parts of the race route, which I swear to god I will post about sometime before the actual race.

In the meantime:

Does anyone want to plan to run the half this weekend as a group? As I told Stephanie this weekend, my (somewhat lofty) goal is to average ten-minute miles. My other, more realistic goal is to finish without crawling or dying. Anyone who wants to join the cause is more than welcome - I do far, far better when I run with friends.