Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Oh CANADA! Race Review

I have trained for races, run them and felt great afterwards. Training has included watching my diet, long runs, short fast runs, long at tempo runs. I have stood in the starting corrals and felt excited, ready to challenge and push myself.

This was not one of those races. I did virtually no training, running a mere 6 times in the past year and my longest run was 2 miles. I can offer a million excuses as to why I didn't train but ultimately my priorities are very different than they were two years ago.  But I was excited about seeing Shelia run her first half and was looking forward to the road trip, so packed my bags and drove to Detroit.

We lined up in our corrals at 6:45am, in the 40 degree darkness.  I didn't even wear my timing chip since I was planning on walking and didn't want this time on my permanent record.
The gun went off and as my section crossed the start line, peer pressure kicked so I started running. I actually felt pretty good running so kept running. The sun started rising and as we approached the bridge to Canada, I was still feeling strong, remembering why I sign up for these things in the first place. I stopped to take pictures, (one very cool perk of not caring about time) and as soon as the slope of the bridge changed, started running again.  I had one of my best mile times ever, running into Canada with a 9:30 pace.  I was having a great time, high fiving border patrol officers, talking with nearby runners. It was fun.Miles 4-6 continued in the same way. I counted up how many half marathons I have done and thought maybe I could do one more to get to 10. I was in love with running; that I was running.

We entered back into the US via a tunnel which was cool to see, but it was hot and stuffy.  I did stop again at the US/Canada line, but was relieved to get out of the tunnel and be back in the US>

Miles 7-9 were rough. Everything started hurting. A lot.   My hip flexor starting hurting and that is unusual for me.  I popped more Aleve. My feet starting hurting.  I remembered why I said this would be my last race.

By Mile 10 I wished I knew Detroit better so I could cheat.  Surely there was a faster way to finish.
Mile 11 brought out the hate.  I hated the couple holding hands walking in front of me, I hated the 500 pound person who lapped me.  I hated the 86 year old man that passed me at such a speedy clip he startled me.  I hated running, I hated myself for not training. I hated. Everything.

Mile 12 was the longest mile ever. I continue hating everything and since I was downtown, I was super annoyed with all the people who are were just walking around the course. They were crossing the street in front of me, I hated them. I hurt.

A half marathon is 13.1 miles and many people leave off that .1 but when you are running it, holy hell that .1 is as long as any mile before it. I turned a corner and could see the finish line and started running.  I don't care how sore I was, I vowed a long time ago to never cross a finish line walking and this was no exception.

I crossed the finish line, grabbed my medal and chocolate milk. Usually I feel amazing at this point but really I just felt blah. I was impressed with my overall time of 3:25. I was thinking it was going to take me 4 hours so I was quite happy with a sub 3:30. But mostly I just hurt.  A lot.

I had said going into this that I was not going to do another half but part of me wishes I had gone out on a higher note. But my life is so different than it was two years and so are my priorities. So I am not saying never, but it is going to take a lot!

As far as races go, the Free Press International is pretty great. The pre race expo was large with an OK amount of free stuff and packet pick up was easy.  Crowd support was amazing with people lining the entire course. There were plenty of water stations giving out water or lemon lime gatorade. There were several live bands at "entertainment stations" throughout.  Overall organization was good and there were plenty of port o johns along the course. The medal is a nice size and heavy and the dual US/Canadian ribbon is very cool.  It is a large race which is nice since you don't feel like you are going to be last. The course is mostly flat with a few inclines going up the bridge and climbing out of the tunnel.  The weather was perfect - 40 and clear when we started and ended up in the mid 50s. It was windy on the bridge, but overall the course was pretty, and it was pretty cool to cross into Canada and then back into the US. I'd absolutely recommend this race.  I would NOT recommend running it without training though....HOLY CRAP I AM SORE!

Friday, October 4, 2013

September Music

Still loving the way music is trending these days! 

The Wire by Haim - a fun poppy song.
Get Me Golden by Terraplane Sun
Sirens by Pearl Jam - OK there is a backstory here. I have recently listened to A LOT of Pearl Jam and while some is good and some I don't really like, I have been following the countdown to their new stuff.  Say what you will about them, but the longevity is impressive. The first track from their latest album "Lightening Bolt" is good, but distinctly punky. I had listened this, their second released song the day it came out and thought I really liked it.  Fast forward a few weeks and I was listening to the radio, not really paying attention and all of a sudden I heard the music playing and thought "Wow this is pretty..wonder who this is."  It was Pearl Jam.  I was just as shocked as you.
Loud Like Love by Placebo
Bad Blood by Bastille - you may remember Bastille from last month. I like them.  A lot. I would be very surprised if a Bastille song wasn't on my Amy's Audibles for 2013.
High Road by the Cults - Speaking of Amy's Audibles, Cults has been featured for their song "Go Outside".  I really like them for their etherealness that is sweet and haunting at the same time.
Why Do You Only Call Me When I'm High - Artic Monkeys - love the tempo of the refrain
Wrecking Ball - Miley Cyrus - I know.  I know.  But crazy stunts aside, I like her music.  And the lyrics are good. (I put you high up in the sky - And now, you're not coming down - It slowly turned, you let me burn-And now, we're ashes on the ground  I know.  I feel ashamed listing it.  But there ya go.
Changing of the Seasons by Two Door Cinema Club - LOVE the Lyrics.  LOVE. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Is it....Seitan?

(To find the humor in the title, you must know seitan is pronounced Satan and  have watched SNL during the late 80s.)

I really don't mean to be a no meat groupie, but IT IS SO EASY TO NOT EAT MEAT!  I have less than 3 weeks until my "no meat training period" is over and honestly, I don't know that I will go back.  I haven't missed it, at all, and I feel good.  I have always been freaked out by WHERE meat comes from, went a month not eating chicken after I made eye contact with a chicken on a Tyson truck that immediately turned into the Tyson plant, and hate dark meat because I think it tastes too bloody and that freaks me out. I needed the meat to be totally cooked through because rare meat or even shades of pink made me gag.   It's been a comfort not having to think so much, and really, how often do you eat meat with no flavorings, marinades or sauces?  Rarely.  

So last night I tried seitan for the first time and was so pleased.  Seiten is a wheat gluten,  first developed in China and is popular in the cuisines of Japan and other East and Southeast Asian nations. In Asia, it is commonly found on the menus of restaurants catering primarily to Buddhist customers who do not eat meat. It is super high in protein and has a chewy texture so is often called the Wheat Meat.  Read more here.  

I have been craving curry chicken salad with grapes, but knew tofu, even extra firm tofu, would not have the texture or the solidity needed for the recipe.  Intrigued by the wheat meat name, I decided to try seitan. IT WAS SO GOOD!  It really does have the same texture as chunks of chicken and the curry dressing was the flavor I wanted.  Add in grapes and some almonds, and this was the texture and taste I had been craving, without meat!  I used this super simple recipe, went light on the curry since this was my first time and am giddy with the result.   

I have never been one to experiment in the kitchen, but there is something incredibly freeing about using plant based products that do not need to be COOKED as much as prepared. I don't have to worry about not cooking the chicken enough and getting sick.  I am EXCITED about recipes now, no longer JUST searching for vegetarian options, but knowing I can substitute in a meat alternative and be good to go. 

Yes, I know that me not eating meat is not going to stop the world from killing animals.  I actually agree with self sustaining farms and that way of life.  But for ME, I feel better not eating meat, and that is the most important thing.  And now that I know I can just substitute plant based product in my favorite meals, I don't have to miss a thing!   PS Happy World Vegetarian Day!  Yes, it's a thing.