Race Recap: Cherry Blossom 10-Miler

I’ve been wanting to run this race for over a year now. I heard about it last March when I was on the lookout for more races, but didn’t realize that because of its popularity, the lottery to get a spot is held back in December. Okay, I thought. Next year! So when December rolled around, I was fresh off of my dual-marathons and looking for some spring races. I entered the lottery and luckily got a coveted spot. Hooray!
Then I got pregnant. And my energy levels plummeted. And my training came to a screening halt. And my appetite disappeared. Hmm. Well, I obviously can’t back out of a race… I mean, it’s paid for, I thought. So clearly I’ll still run it, just not that fast. It’ll be fine. Those were my thoughts yesterday as I went to pick up my race “packet” (which only consisted of my bib and my t-shirt: ZERO free schwag). I continued to think that this morning as I got dressed and got myself moving before sunrise and even as I was standing in front of the start line, adrenaline pumping with all the other runners.
20140406-210515.jpg It was after all a beautiful day in the Nation’s capital. Blue sky. No clouds. Sun beaming down. A little bit of a chill to the air but not frigid. Let’s do this.
The gun goes off and off we go! The course is unique in comparison to most DC races as it stays almost exclusively around the monuments. Starting by Washington, we head around Lincoln, down the memorial bridge, around Lincoln the other way, past FDR and MLK before heading off towards Jefferson and then back to finish at Washington. Pretty straight forward. Unfortunately, my body was not nearly as into the idea. I tried keep an easy pace but somewhere around mile 4 I started to not feel so hot. Then my stupid shin cramp started happening again. Then I had to pee and wait in a long line. (But a line with a view)20140406-211106.jpg At mile 5 I was thinking “really??? Only half way??” I wanted to give up by mile 6. My pace slowed down (which was fine) but I had basically lost any kind of motivation to finish strong. The last few miles I slogged through as best I could. I eventually kicked into a higher gear towards the very end, but even that effort was pretty sad. The finisher’s chute was chaotic and unorganized which didn’t make the accomplishment feel particularly celebratory. Eventually I found some water and the medal tent, where I received my prize.

20140406-211604.jpg After taking my finisher’s selfie, I headed home and that’s when the real fun began. It’s not uncommon for me to feel tired post-race but today I was feeling all new levels of exhaustion. I almost fell asleep in the shower. At several points later in the day I felt so light headed I thought I was going to pass out. I kept feeling like my heart was racing even when I was standing still. I was straight OUT OF IT. My guess is a combination of dehydration+low blood sugar cause by the nausea/low appetite, but needless to say I’ve felt not awesome. So, that all being said, I feel like I’ve finally learned my lesson. No more racing during the pregnancy. Other people might be able to handle it. I cannot. So no more. I’m putting myself into temporary retirement. So long running…for now.

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Hello April ’14

Wow. March is over. March went by much much faster than February or January did. Perhaps it was the schizoid weather? Or maybe because I slept through a lot of it? But I’m happy it’s over. Generally I don’t have a big seasonal preference, but this year I’m really really looking forward to summer. Maybe it’s the being back in school thing. Don’t know. Anyway.

** March’s Monthly Challenge**

Keep a daily journal. I calculated my entries last night and out of 31 days in the month, I wrote 16 times. That’s certainly far more than I normally would, but also way less than once a day. I blame the fatigue. It’s hard to feel particularly into writing about your day when your eyes want to close on you by 8pm.

March Goals

1) Read: Mansfield Park. One of the Austen novel’s I know nothing about. Certainly had to slog through this one, but I did finish it. A review will be along shortly. Not my favorite Austen. Doesn’t help that there are NO good (and accurate) film adaptations. Boo!!
2) We just switched health insurance plans so: Find a good doctor! And by doctor, I mean midwife. Because that’s how I am.
3) Clean out my closet AND the guest bedroom closet – eek! Nope.
oreo truffles4) It’s Birthday month in our house: plan a delicious Birthday dinner and bake a yummy Birthday Cake for the hubs  I’m counting this even though it didn’t really happen. The hubs is on a health kick and requested no cake. So I made a few oreo truffles just to have a little something. And instead of a nice dinner, he wanted to go out with just the boys, so I was off the hook.
IMG_05725) Plant some seeds! Spring is around the corner! Check! And spring certainly is around the corner, provided it doesn’t snow again. Until I can be sure of that, I’ve had to just start some seeds indoors, and hope they germinate. Most of the seeds are for various herbs, but there’s also some tomatoes and peppers in there. Fingers crossed!

** April’s Monthly Challenge**

Knowing now what my energy levels will likely be for the next month, and also knowing what I have still to finish for school, I’m going to go very easy on myself in April. The goal? H2O. Just drink a lot of. I think the midwives told me I need 10 glasses. So that’s the goal for now. 80oz of water…everyday.

April Goals

1) Read something fun
2) Craft project: fix my earring display system
3) Get the garden ready for seedlings
4) Do something on the DC-list
5) Apply for volunteer position

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I did it!

Today seemed like it was going to be another bumpy day. I had a meeting in the morning, but by the afternoon, my energy levels were pretty low. I didn’t have much hope for doing anything productive, save for maybe trying to get myself to eat a vegetable.

But as it’s Thursday, and on Thursday’s my gym has a back to back yoga class combination, I decided to drag my butt off to the gym for some gentle stretching. The first yoga class is a vinyasa style which while not super gentle, isn’t nearly as intense as a power yoga class which is not something I can handle right now.

So we go through the poses, I’m trying to focus on just breathing and elongating, as I haven’t been to yoga in a couple of weeks and just need to stretch out a bit.

And then – it happened. We moved into our inversions so I grabbed a spot by the wall and decided to test my tripod headstand.

I somehow managed this:

What?? Please note that in the video, there is no kicking up of the feet into a vertical position, which is generally how I have to manage. Nope. Somehow I did the whole contract your core and slowly raise your legs up. I couldn’t believe it. I did it! I would have been jumping up and down if I wasn’t being all namaste.

I just checked something off my yearly list AND my bucket list without even trying  hard. YESSSS.

Now I’m going to treat myself to a delightfully bland dinner of plain pasta. Because that’s all my stomach will tolerate right now.

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(Not so) Wordless Wednesday: Life Changed

So maybe you had figured it out. Maybe you took the various sporadic puzzle pieces of information and put 2 and 2 together and figured things out. I mean, even i can admit there have been some serious changes around here. Infrequent posts. Lethargy. No workout recaps. No food posts. Few updates in general save to mention that I have no motivation to do anything.

But not having motivation and not having energy could be attributed to any number of things. Poor diet. Hormones. Thyroid issues. Depression. Stress. Any one of those things could have been the cause of what was and is currently going on with me.

But they are not.

There’s a different cause.

It’s a parasite about .97cm long and is causing me to turn into someone I barely recognize.

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Yep…I’m preggo. For the last month I’ve been doubting whether or not it could actually be true and whether all these crazy physical symptoms are real or just figments of my imagination but yesterday I had my first ultrasound and received positive, irrefutable proof, that there is in fact something growing inside me, something that supposedly will arrive as a little baby sometime in early November.

Talk about some life-altering news. Don’t get me wrong, excitement is definitely on my emotional forefront as planned as such things can be, but there are a lot of emotions swirling inside me. I still haven’t fully processed what this all means and just how different life will be a year from now but I imagine that just takes some time.

So with this new found knowledge, I feel like my goals for the year and upcoming months will likely change. I don’t foresee me breaking any 1-mile PRs. My ability to try out new recipes is hampered by my constant nausea and current preference for bland foods. And until my energy levels settle themselves, I’m going to take it pretty easy.

 

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Baking Project (TWD): S’mores Brownie Cake

My birthday was this past Saturday so I was pretty happy that our 2nd TWD assignment for March was a cake. But here’s the thing- if a cake is going to be my birthday cake, it’s got to be a little bit over the top. I have pride and ego riding on this. So how could I tweak a rich, chocolate almost-a-brownie cake with a rich ganache coating? Well, for one I’d take out the mocha flavor. Because coffee is not something I’m really into these days. And two- something has got to be done about the double chocolate. I like chocolate, but chocolate cake plus chocolate frosting just screams ‘overly rich’ to me. So I started looking up alternative frosting ideas.
I stumbled on this:

S'Mores Cake of the Month (2)
Hmm. A chocolate cake with a s’mores twist. This could work. At first I tried looking for a marshmallow ganache but had trouble so instead I settled on a marshmallow buttercream. I could even keep the prescribed ganache, add in some graham crackers some how and call it good!

So with my plan set, it was time to make the cake. The cake itself was pretty easy, though I admit a technique I’ve never used before in cake-making. Or brownie-making for that matter. Instead, the egg-sugar mixture is whipped up into a meringue-like substance before adding in flour. Reminded me of the macronage in macarons.IMG_0517IMG_0523

Anyway. I divied my batter into two 9″ cake pans since I don’t have any other kind of cake pan and baked for about 30 minutes. I may have over baked a little as when I pulled them out my toothpick came out super clean.

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After letting the cake cool down in their pans I then began the process of trying to get them out of said pans. Didn’t work. I was kicking myself for not putting parchment paper on the bottom. I looked up some tricks on how to remove a stuck cake. IMG_0529One suggestion recommended not cooling your cake in its pan. Thanks. I first tried letting the pans sit in hot water to supposedly loosen the greased bottom. That didn’t work. Then I wrapped a damp dish cloth around the pan and jostled it to and fro. Somehow that did work? I don’t know why but I was saved! I quickly transferred the cake to the fridge for a deeper chill.

Then I was bad. And I left the cakes in there. For over 24 hours. I totally meant to Saran Wrap them up but I got busy and forgot. By the time I remember they already started to feel a bit dry, though not horrifically so. I continued on.
It took me three days to finally get around to frosting and assembling that cake. Poor thing. Probably thought I was neglecting it.

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I eventually got around to melting down the chocolate into ganache and whipping up some marshmallowy frosting. Assembling the cake was somewhat tricky. The graham crackers in the middle created a gap in my layers which my frosting had trouble covering. So I used more graham crackers on the sides of the cake as decoration. And then, because no s’mores can be complete without some char, I whipped out my hand-dandy kitchen torch and flambéd the top portion. Et voila!

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The result?
A very very rich dessert. The good? I rarely make layer cakes so I was pretty pleased with how the cake look aesthetically. The bad?  The “cake” tasted more like a dry brownie which is my fault likely. I had hoped that the frosting would have helped that, but It didn’t really. The ugly? I used salted butter when making the buttercream as it’s all I had on hand and the salt was WAY noticeable. The frosting didn’t really taste like marshmallows at all to me so that would definitely be an improve. And also, charring marshmallow fluff buttercream doesn’t create a burnt marshmallow flavor like you’d find in a s’mores.

So even though I know the dryness is my fault, the whole thing was just a bit too much. Maybe that’s a sure sign of entering adulthood – when desserts officially become *too* sweet. Then again, my appetite has been off this week, so maybe I just wasn’t into the cake this time. My husband devoured his slice, so it clearly wasn’t terrible.

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You can check out the rest of the TWD bakers’ creation here.

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MIA

I can’t believe it’s been two week since my last post.

I’ve tried. I swear I’ve tried. But by tried I mean I half-heartedly thought about it.

Things have been funky with me to say the least. Energy levels are at an all time low. My appetite has gone completely wonky. Motivation to do anything is shot. Save for maybe curl up and take a nap. Didn’t help that last week was my Spring Break from school so I had no major tasks to accomplish.

I have such low energy/motivation/appetite I didn’t even finish making myself a birthday cake. Wait, what? But it’s cake! Yes. It is. And the two fully baked cake halves are sitting in my fridge just begging to be assembled and topped with frosting, but even that task seems too much.

I need to get over this. Or at the very least, learn how to still get on with my day. I don’t know if I’m doing what I should be doing by listening to my body and resting, or taking the easy route and completely submitting to ever lazy whim that goes through my head. I’d guess it’s some sort of mix.

So I vow to do better. Still have half the month to go. I can do better.

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Baking Project (TWD): Buttermilk Scones

scones10I think this is the first time since I join the Tuesdays with Dorie Group back in 2012 that the item we made was one of the ones I suggested. Hah! how exciting! Yet despite voting for scones, when this weekend rolled around, I really didn’t feel like baking them. I mean, I was doing well on my diet (that didn’t include white flour…or buttermilk), I didn’t want bready, deliciousness sitting around my house for days and of course I didn’t even think I’d have the time to make these.

Then I looked at the recipe. And I realized it could probably be made in about 30 minutes from start to finish…cooking time included. And as the recipe called for no eggs, it lended itself to be cut in half or third or whatever. I was very tempted to make it in my food processor, as I figured that would cut down on the time, but after watching the pbs video, it looked pretty easy to just mix by hand. So that’s what I did.

In a large bowl, you mix all your dry ingredients together and then cut in your butter. The video showed Chef Marion squishing the butter into the flour with her fingers, so I did that too. It felt wonderful actually. Reminded me of playing in a sandbox when I was little – gotta love tactile sensations! Once the mixture starts looking like cornmeal, you add in your buttermilk and stir with a spoon (or your fingers again) until you get a “rough looking dough”. It looked really dry to me and I was tempted to add more buttermilk but I thought I’d try kneading it first.

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I dumped my veryb dry, crumbly dough onto my pie mat and starting mashing it with me hands, and voila! It came together pretty easily. I shaped my lump into a circle roughly 7″ in diameter which was easy to measure with my pie mat and then did my best to cut 6 equal pie slices out of my circle. Looks close enough, yes? The wedges got tossed onto a baking sheet and into the oven. I love recipes where I can complete all my clean-up in the same amount of time it takes for my goodies to finish baking. PERFECT TIMING I tell you.scones3 scones4

I was somewhat suspicious of my scones when they first popped out because they looked so pale. But I thought – the recipe knows best. I grabbed one and immediately broke off a hunk to try it. Warm, soft, but a little too gummy in the middle so I through the tray back in the oven. I think I ended up cooking them for an extra 10 minutes and they still never really turn a nice golden brown, but I was getting antsy for breakfast so I figured they hit good enough status.

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I’m happy I had watched the video because otherwise I wouldn’t have known how to properly serve these bad boys. Chef Marion cut them in half (I thought you were just supposed to eat them like pizza?), lathered on some whipped cream and fresh berries, coved it back up and then topped the whole scone sandwich with more cream and berries. I mean, for realz? We had no fresh berries so I opted for some blueberry preserves and canned whipped cream. That first bite was gooooood. Delicious. Hit the spot.scones8 scones9

When my husband came downstairs I offered to make him some too, in the same fashion. He took a bite and said “Oh – these are good”. A couple of bites later “These are really good” and finally, with a clean plate “Those were excellent. Good job!”

I will say they certainly peaked with the fruit and whipped cream, but even by themselves they were pretty darn tasty. I’d definitely make them again if I didn’t have a bazillion other recipes I wanted to try. Although, since it was so easy, I’ll certainly keep the recipe in my back pocket if I ever need a fancy-ish breakfast offering.

To check out the other TWD bakers’ results, click here.

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