Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Recap

I should have taken more pictures. Oh well. My bad.

Thanksgiving this year was local, as it always is, with plans to go to my parent's house for turkey and more. But the day began with the annual tradition of running the Alexandria Turkey Trot, which is 5 miles around these parts. Per our tradition, Rebecca and I ran it together. This year, we also con'd a coworker to join us, even though we were all up past 1 am the night before rocking out on Rock Band (while enjoying some alcoholic beverages) in honor of her husband's 30th birthday.

We rolled out of bed sans alarm at 8 am and headed down to the race. Weather this year was cool, but perfect for running, which brought out a large crowd of approximately 2500 people. The gun went off and it took us about 1 minute to cross the starting line. The plan was to do some run/walking, but typically, I am just along for the ride and run when I am told to run, and walk when I am told to walk. I don't call the shots! The race actually seemed to go by extremely quickly and before I knew it, we were at the half way point! It was right around that point, that we took a brief walk, ran another mile or so, and then took another walk break at the water stop. With the one last hill in sight, it was decided that we'd walk up the steep part and run on in for the last mile of the course. Once we started running again, Rebecca decided to take off for the last mile, while I stayed back to run my coworker in for the last mile. Turns out, Rebecca finished almost a minute ahead of us...that was one fast last mile!

With the race over, we hurried home to start cooking up the items we signed up to bring over for our feast. First up was to make the pie crust for Rebecca's homemade gluten free chocolate chunk pecan pie. After the crust was made, it sat in the refrigerator for about an hour and half, while we worked on the gluten free stuffing. The stuffing action began the day before, when we made a loaf of gluten free "wheat" bread (it tasted like regular wheat bread, minus the wheat). So we took the loaf and cut it up into chunks to be toasted in the oven. There were so many chunks we had multiple rounds of 2 trays going in the oven and one in the toaster. While that was going on, we were boiling chicken stock and sauteing celery, onions, garlic, rosemary, and thyme among other spices to make up the mixture once the bread chucks were ready to go. Finally, we mixed them all together and put 2 big casserole dishes full into the oven to bake for a bit. In the meantime, we went back to the pie crust dough and rolled it out, before fitting it to the pan. Once the crust was in, it was into the oven to bake for a bit, before adding the filling. In only a few hours, we managed to have both items done, with plenty of time to spare to shower, get ready, and head over to my parent's for food!

It is safe to say that both the stuffing and the pie were big hits. And I'd even be so bold to say that the pie was the best pie I have EVER had. It was nearly impossible for me to stop eating the leftovers of it this weekend. I'll just have to add that to the reasons for why I have been gaining some weight.

The next morning, I realized that we had a LOT of stuffing left over, so I decided to turn it into a breakfast meal by making this:

I call this magical creation: The Stuffing Omelet (creative, I know)

This was also made the following morning...and we still have a ton left ;)

The rest of the weekend was kind of a blur. Saturday, we went on a photo exploration to the US Botanical Gardens with my sister (of course all the photos are still on the camera and not here) and had a lot of fun trying to take good shots between the crowds of people. I failed miserably, with the exception of a few photos, but I think Rebecca took a lot better ones. Maybe she'll post them one of these days ;)

And Sunday, we did some shopping around, before heading out the door for a great run in the unseasonably warmer weather. I was planning to run long, and fortunately Rebecca joined me for the first 5 miles, which was awesome and made the time fly by! After we returned back home, I set out into the darkness for the next 7 miles of pure enjoyment with me and my headlamp. Legs felt good, pace was quick, and my HR was low. What else could I ask for!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How To Get Fat On 30 Miles a Week

This is the time of the year, known as the "Offseason", or as others call it, the "Outseason", where workouts taper down, diets come back to normal, and the mind and body have a chance to recover. It's also known to many as "The battle of the bulge". Most experts say it is safe to put back 3%-5% of the weight you lost while peaking for that last "A" race over the course of this period. This is NOT the time of year to to just sit on your A$$ and gain that 3%-5% in the first few weeks though! Let me explain.

The end of October brought Halloween. The beginning of November brought our Anniversary (hooray!). The end of November will bring Thanksgiving. And the end of December will bring about the holidays and New Years. What do all of these holidays have in common? You guessed it, FOOD! And typically, lots of it.

Now, I'm going to be honest here for a second. I COULD be stronger and control my intake of crap. But sometimes, you just have to let it happen. I've learned that if you force yourself to omit something, eventually you will just end up binging and eating more than you would have if you didn't limit it in the first place. So, I let it happen from time to time to keep me sane.

Halloween is annually a weakness for me. There is always an endless supply of candy brought into my office, of which happens to be some of my favorite varieties, such as: Nerds, Laffy Taffy, Tootsie Rolls (I'm a role model for nutrition, I know). Add to that, homemade baked goods that people have left over and you have a recipe for disaster. AND, we haven't even started yet with Thanksgiving (I loves me some Thanksgiving food!).

But before I get ahead of myself, there is also something else. Since Rebecca and I celebrated our 1st Anniversary, we managed the time-honored tradition of eating our wedding cake. The top tier of our cake, which was gluten free so Rebecca could have it, had been wrapped up and stored for the past year. So you can imagine our excitement to celebrate by eating 1 year old cake! It was actually pretty darn tasty and you never would have known it was a year old. However, we believe that the frosting on the cake may not have been gluten free. Well guess what that means? More cake for me!

So let's do the math. Candy from Halloween + a whole wedding cake all to myself = weight gain. However, I'd also like to point out that I have been putting in a solid 30 miles of running a week, so its not as if I am sitting on my rear all day and just eating this stuff. I just find it amazing that I can still gain weight while putting up some decent mileage.

I just know that I've gotta get through these next couple of months and keep up the solid miles, or else I might have to (gasp) watch what I eat...

Anyways - Have a Happy Thanksgiving and be sure to eat well! You can burn it all off by running in your local Turkey Trot. I know we will be ;)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Ad-Hoc Long Run

I apologize for the recent rash of enthusiastic running-related posts. Its just that for whatever reason, my run mojo has been found and I'm going with the flow. So indulge me for a bit, while I continue on my ways of being one with the road/trail.

3 posts ago, I talked about the benefits of flexibility in training. This week's long run was a perfect example. I set out Monday night with the intent of pressing my luck at my first dark longer run of the fall, now that daylight savings time has passed and running after work is essentially all in the dark, unless you run on a treadmill in the gym. But that wouldn't be fun, now would it?

As I began my run, my legs felt shockingly fresh, with an extra sense of spring to them. I figured the feeling would pass, like in most cases as the distance increases, but this time it didn't. As I neared the last mile of my planned route, I started to think my legs were feeling too good to stop now. So I began a different run route that would nearly double my planned run. Of course, before deciding, I made sure to do the math in my head that 1) I didn't have any hard workouts within the past 24 hours prior or planned for tomorrow, and 2) This distance wouldn't be outside the abilities of which I have been running. Once I confirmed that such as decision would be safe, I was good to go and thus began my ad-hoc long run!

Once again, the glory of not being on an official plan resulted in an amazing run. Not only did I finish it feeling fresh like when I began, but my pace was faster than any of my long runs I've done in the past 2+ months. I found myself settling into the quiet of running in the dark. The benefit of this is that very few others are out there, so it truly does make for a quiet run. I should note that I do run with a headlamp when it is dark so I know where lies in front of me. However, not knowing what is too far ahead allowed my mind to melt away from being focused on anything other than thinking about the next place my foot will land based on the restricted view of what my headlamp would light up. It was a fun feeling not knowing what was 20 ft or 1 mile ahead. And before I knew it, my run was done. It felt late, since I had been running for quite some time in the dark, but I checked my watch and it was still pretty early...at least there is something to enjoy about it being dark this soon!

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Little Alma Mater Pride

Its been a long time since my college hay day, but I have to be a bit prideful. No, not from the 3-6 football team, or from this exhibition disaster by the basketball team...but from the rugby team I used to be a part of. Specifically, this story. Syracuse is only the 2nd team in the history of the Upstate NY Division 1 Rugby League to qualify for the USA Rugby National Sweet 16 Championships in California. This is a huge accomplishment. I'll be headed up there this weekend for our annual rugby alumni pilgrimage, where we play each other (alumni vs college team). For the first time, I think the college team has a chance at winning. We'll see!

Posted in: College
By Brian Lowe
Nov 14, 2009 - 2:22:34 PM

Col_KUvSyracuse_i__1.jpg
In what is unquestionably one of the biggest upsets in years in college rugby, Syracuse has stunned Dartmouth 6-5 in the Northeast Rugby Union semifinals Saturday at West Point, NY.

The Big Green led 5-0 at halftime, but a couple of second half penalty goals proved to be enough to get the Hammerheads home.

Syracuse went into the semi as the underdog, but as a consequence of their win, they have qualified for the national Round of 16 for the first time ever.

Constant rain caused a string of handling errors and there were a slew of penalties, although in the end Dartmouth’s focus was off and that is primarily what led to their downfall.

“Syracuse was the better team on the day,” Dartmouth head coach Alex Magleby told ARN. “They made the right adjustments and we didn’t adjust too well.”

Syracuse will face the winner of the late semifinal between Army and Fordham in Sunday’s NRU championship decider.

NRU men’s DII semis:
Vermont 15-10 UMass
Middlebury 11-0 Stonybrook

NRU women’s DI semis:
Brown 26-10 UMass
Army 46-0 Syracuse

Elsewhere on the east coast, Delaware capped off a perfect run in the Mid-Atlantic Premier League by dropping Virginia 38-3.

UD led 12-3 at the main break. Delaware captain and #8 Mike ‘Chief’ Levin (3) again led by example.

UVA had to scramble to find an alternative field due to the heavy storms that lashed the coast late in the week and eventually a multi-purpose field was secured for the game.

UD’s support play was exceptional on the day, as it has been all season long, and that is what paved the way to the win.

“It was a good game for the guys and a nice way to end the regular season,” said Delaware head coach Bjorn Haglid.

“We went through undefeated and now it’s about getting ready for Kutztown in March.”

In the Friday night match, Penn State held off a late charge by Navy to post a 20-10 victory in Annapolis, MD.

It was 13-10 at halftime to PSU and the Nittany Lions did a good job on the positional play aspect of their game in the second half to hold on for the win.

“It’s always a tough game,” Penn State head coach Don Ferrell told ARN. “I thought it was a pretty good performance by our guys.”

As a result of the final round of the regular season in the Premier League, Delaware finished on top of the standings ahead of Penn State, Navy and Kutztown.

The MARFU championship will be played next March with the two top finishers going through to the national playoffs.

Monday, November 9, 2009

This One Goes Out To The One I Love

It seems like it was only yesterday that we celebrated our wedding and were whisked off on our honeymoon. It has now been one year since that wonderful day. We've grown closer together, bought a house together, and most importantly, shared the past year together. I can only hope each year will be as good as this one has been.

Happy anniversary!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Flexibility in Schedules

One of the glorious things about not being on any plan for a specific race is to do things by feel. My running lately, though not scheduled through an actual plan, is still somewhat structured. I'm not going to try and mash up a speedwork session the day before or after a long run just because I feel like it. I still have my principles!

But, what I've noticed about these past almost 2 months of just running without a plan, is that some days you have it and others you don't. While on a plan, you may feel guilty about "only" running 4 miles, when you were supposed to run 6. Or that you were supposed to do a tempo run, but you just ran an easy pace. Take away the perception that "I must do x, y, and z or my season will be ruined", and workout seems to be fun again. I think its that freedom to choose what I WANT to do today, rather than knowing I HAVE to do something, that I enjoy most about this little deal I have with myself.

And I am starting to think I am on to something here. A few seasons ago, I took training and sticking to my schedule a lot more seriously. This year, I took a more hands off approach, allowing for a bit more flexibility. I enjoyed my training a lot more because of it. Did it allow me to maximize my potential output? Not necessarily. But then again, I am not trying to win anything outright. I am trying to improve, but still have fun.

However, depending on the distance you are training for, flexibility is all relative. The longer the distance, the less flexible you can be with your schedule. For example, long swims, rides, or runs, are a critical part of any training plan, whether training for a marathon or an Ironman. You can't necessarily just run 6 miles, when you need to hit up a 20 miler. Its kind of hard to get around doing that. But some of the other stuff in between should be able to have some flexibility, like swapping out a tempo run for an easy run. If its not there that day, don't force it.

As long as there is consistency in training, I think flexibility in the schedule is a good thing. And that has me continuing to do what I WANT to do, which is what motivates me to get out there each time and have fun.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Race Bling

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I placed 2nd in my age group at the Home Run 10k. Despite the chip timed race, they were unable to post results and/or determine age group awards at the race. So when I found out that I won an award, I was told that I'd receive it in the mail. Well, I finally did!

I just have to laugh at the message in the letter. If you can't read it, it says "Please find the enclosed prize for being first or second in your age group...." Really? They couldn't have printed 2 different versions of the letter - one to send to 1st and one to send to 2nd? Strange. Anyways, my "prize" is a gift certificate to Potomac Pizza. How much is on the card? I haven't a clue. But I'll find out one of these days when I venture over to Maryland to find out!
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