Race Recap: 2017 Firecracker 5k

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Last year, this race was my target run for my 5k PR.  This year, I ran it because it’s part of the Four Season’s Challenge I’m participating in with the Oklahoma Sport and Fitness race team.  And it would be a fun way to get some tempo work in for my 26.2 training.  I’ve been having a rough time on runs recently (thanks OK heat and humidity) and this was a welcome change to slogging through some miles on my own.

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Start line (photo: Fleet Feet Tulsa)

Based on this year’s race, you wouldn’t know that last year I really tried to work on my 5ks.  While I definitely improved my times over the course of two years of dedicated speedwork and practice, I never really nailed down the pacing.  And that is certainly apparent in this race!

I didn’t really know what to expect from this run as far as finish times go.  Marathon training and 5k training don’t work the same systems and so I’m out of 5k shape.  On the drive over to Fleet Feet, Chap was trying to tell me he was sure I could finally break that 22 minute mark.  And while yes, I would like to eventually nail that goal, marathon training is not the season to do it.  So I was just going to run hard and try to hit a seven something pace.

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Rainy start! (Photo: Fleet Feet Tulsa)

Race morning was completely different from last year’s sunny and hot start.  This year, as we were waiting at the starting line, it started pouring on us!  I don’t mind the rain at all for short races, and it actually felt really good because the air was so sticky without the rain.  It seemed like it took forever for them to get us started and I even started to get cold just standing there.  I was soaked before we got started.

Finally, we were off!  The whole first mile it kept raining on us, and eventually it stopped but the streets were still wet.  I had my watch on and my Strava app to help me pace but for some reason I never looked at my watch.  And while Strava will tell me how fast I ran the previous mile, the rain water kept my headphones from staying in my ears.  I decided to run by feel.

The race starts out pretty flat, heading west towards the BOK center.  We hit a little hill on Denver taking us north towards Brady area and then turn back east to a flat streak to Guthrie Green.  Another baby hill (by this time though, we’re at or past halfway and it feels huge) takes us up by Cain’s and then back down.  We ran back along the same Denver route and back to the store.  Those hills also felt gigantic in this last mile.  I walked a little, but tried to only allow myself 5 deep breaths to regroup and then started running again.

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Tough finish (Photo: Fleet Feet Tulsa)

I finished tough, being dragged along by the motivating words of fellow racers, “less than half a mile to go, come on.  One foot in front of the other.”   I always appreciate this encouragement even though sometimes I’m like, “walking is still one foot in front of the other.”  Sometimes it’s good to get a dose of my own medicine, and have someone else telling me that I can hang longer than I think.

Finally the finish line was in sight and I crossed, trying my best to hold down some puke (if you’re new here, get used to puke talk on race posts.)  I managed to keep it down but decided no more breakfasts on 5k days.

My finishing time was 23:42  , which managed to be a 4th in my age group placement (last race in that age group in Tulsa!).  It’s a little slower than last year’s but I am so pleased that I’m that close after distance training the past 16 weeks.

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Positive splits!

After studying my splits, I know I have an out-of-the-gate-too-fast issue to work on.  I ran by feel, and it didn’t feel like a 6:32 mile when everyone else around me is trotting along or passing me (of course they are, I start in the front of the pack).  Maybe I need to start a little farther back.  My paces dropped off significantly each mile, but that first mile was my fastest ever recorded on my apps so that’s a pretty encouraging stat :).

Overall, it’s a fun race and one of the more popular ones in Tulsa (in my opinion – seems like a lot more people at this one than some others I’ve done).  Fleet Feet always puts on a great after party, and has awesome support through volunteers.

2 of 4 races down for the challenge and I love how the medals are coming together!

Later that afternoon, I got to run 5 more miles to finish off that day’s assigned 8.  Michelle joined me, the humidity was gone and it was only in the 80s.  It was awesome.

What’s your philosophy on racing 5ks?  Run as hard as you can the whole time?  Or start a little slower so you can really push it at the end?

Races: The Sweetheart Double

Last weekend I ran for the first time in the Tulsa Fleet Feet Sweetheart Run.  When I first put it on the calendar, I was thinking I would race the 5k in my ever-continuing effort to break the 22 minute mark.  Then I discovered their option to do the 5k and 10k, one right after the other.  I figured this would be a fun option, especially as I increase mileage a bit with upcoming half marathons (and a looming full in July – I know, I still don’t know how that happened).  Also, since there are few things better than running with friends, I enlisted the company of Teresa for the 5k and Michelle for the 10k.  I tried to rally some more friends but was unsuccessful.

The plan was to run with Teresa in the 5k, and chase Michelle in the 10.  The race fell on the day exactly 9 weeks from my Boston 5k race, so I’ve been in speed training mode for a while – including track workouts, circuits and partner runs with M, who is faster than me.

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Flowers and a bib, true love.

I spent the night at Michelle’s, mostly because I currently don’t have a toilet in my house (post about the bathroom renovation is forthcoming) but also because who doesn’t love a sleepover?  We are a sight to be seen getting ready in the morning.  Making sure we’ve got coffee, food, bibs, shoes and gear all before heading out the door is a chatty, calm chaos with some pump-up music in the background.

We met up with Teresa at the Studio and walked to the start line.  It was a little chilly and overcast but I knew we would warm up once we started running.  Cassi and Steve were there to cheer us on!

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StudiOne community is the best.

In true Michelle and Sprenkel race form, we barely made it into the corrals before the gun went off.  I stayed with Teresa and Michelle went on to run a 4th place age group finish.  Teresa really wanted to beat her 5k time from last year, but I should have coached her better out of it considering she hadn’t run even close to the same training as she did the race before.  Life was just tough the weeks leading up to the race and didn’t leave much time for training.  If I had one wish for her, I would love that her competitive side could subside so she could just enjoy being out in the race (but I also know it took me years to develop that kind of relaxed approach).  I loved running with you T, and am so proud of the runner you are, and are becoming!  Can’t wait to race out there with you again!

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Blurry but smiling!

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Our prizes!

I had about ten minutes to find Michelle.  We reviewed our plan at the start line which was basically run fast but don’t kill us.  I would stay with her as long as I could, like I do on our longer training runs, with a more specific goal of staying under an 8 minute average.

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Start line!

The first part of the course led us out of the flat Blue Dome neighborhood.  We were mostly downhill out of downtown towards the river. We both had our watches on, and the Strava app going but I wasn’t paying too much attention to pace.  My effort to this point felt strong, kind of in that perfect not too easy but not totally taxing zone.  We were a little chatty and I was just thinking of staying with her as long as I could.

We cruised right down the Denver hill and my next goal was to really push the flat two miles we had left before we had to go back up the hill.  This is also the part of the race where the lead runners started to run back against us.  Michelle pointed out there were only 9 females ahead of us, we had a good chance of placing in the top 10 ladies.  Soon, we were part of that lead pack running against the big stream and that is always encouraging to me.  With the breaths we had (Michelle had more than I did), we cheered on people running against us.

Then we were at the hill, four miles behind us, 2.2 in front of us.  We fell into the climb with another gal in a St. Jude singlet and the three of us pulled each other up that hill.  Michelle pulled ahead of me, and I could hear her expletives as I let out exasperated sighs and our new pal commiserated with us.  It was long and moderately steep – several blocks. There were moments I thought I would puke but seeing those two girls in front of me kept me in a run instead of a walk.

The ending was not glamorous.  I was hot and humid by mile 5 and taking the cups of water to pour on the top of my head.  This trick makes me look really really sweaty but also quickly cools me down.

When that final stretch of a few turns around the block hit, I tried to draw on thoughts of track workouts, step ups and jump lunges – all things from my training that make for strong legs.  If anything, it’s distracting and helps tick off some distance.

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Glamorous action shot

Finished strong, reaching my goals and hitting a 10k PR.   We hung around for a little while to get our official results – a 2nd place age group for M, 3rd for me.  9th overall female for M, 11th for me.

Overall, I really enjoyed this course.  I loved doing the back to back races and getting the magnetic metals for each was clever.  I’m very pleased to be placing in age groups in 10k distances and satisfied with how the harder running and circuit training is paying off.  It hasn’t been perfect but it has been consistent.

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2 and 3, 9 and 11.

Next race: Saturday, March 11, St. Patrick’s Day 5k.

Tulsa Love: Retro Den Home Styling

Before I officially settled in Tulsa, my sister friend Katie toured me around her favorite places.  Places I hope to tour you around via the blog or if you ever come visit.  One of the first on her list was a vintage furniture store called Retro Den and we were heading there for a succulent planting event.  Not a lover of furniture, vintage or plants I was far from convinced this would be great, but open minded anyway.

Flash forward 2.5 years later and one of my big resolutions is keeping a pot of their succulents alive and I’ve hired these girls to style my living room.  Obviously I was so wrong about how I would feel about my experience in the store, and actually ended up planting several succulents alongside A. Daly that very day, and putting a sale hold on a gorgeous industrial cart that just screamed at me.  Good work Katie Carp.

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One variation of couch location

Those succulents have since died (not their fault, mine.) but that cart table is now the center of this styling session for my living room.  Fast friendships grew out of the Ashleys too, as they’re both so personable, warm and funny and I spent a lot of my early down time days hanging around their shop or bringing them food in exchange for little shop gifts.

As much as I’d like to do a full makeover and update to my house, I think it’s more realistic financially to just update the actual furniture.  My whole time in Tulsa I’ve been working with a strange mix of pieces I acquired in Memphis or Austin or from my parents’ attic/basement.  I had all the pieces that I needed but it looked like a patchwork quilt of furniture, and a cluttered one at that.

I had a little bit of money saved up, and I started selling pieces off. (The LetGo app and Facebook groups are a great place for this).  Soon I’d sold off all my living room furniture except my precious cart table and that brought about a proper theme for this Christmas (last year’s snow ski, this year furniture).  I asked for a couch, and that was it.  Santa generously pulled through with some couch cash and a suggestion to get a designer to go with it.  The Ashleys!

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Couch and designer for Christmas

Before we even started our session, the As began gathering intel.  There were forms to fill out, Pinterest boards to make, screenshots to share.  This was surprising to me but shouldn’t have been.  I do the same thing to people when they start working out with me.  Why are you doing this?  What do you want to accomplish?  What are you willing to do?  Not do?  What’s your budget?

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In my own attempt at designing my living room, I wanted it to center around travel and books.  I don’t have a television so wanted art on the walls to inspire chatter about places I’ve been or places to go.  Books on the shelves could be topics of chatter too.  The cart needed to stay.  I love the bookcases and the length of the room.  The mantle is overwhelming.  I want a gallery wall and a cozy country feel.  I want the room to feel open, calming, warm, inviting and friendly.  I want a tufted or nailhead trimmed sofa and cozy reading chairs, maybe a reading nook.  And a gallery wall.  My budget is about the price of the sofas I’m looking at.

We scheduled the consult for a Thursday morning at 9am.  Normally this is late in the day for me, but I was feeling under the weather and barely out of bed when they arrived offering coffee, bright yellow tulips and friendly chit chat.

First, we took a tour of my house.  In their styling sessions, the As will use pieces you already have in your home (especially if your budget is as small as mine) to “shop your space” and I knew they were probably looking around for those things.  But I was also beaming with excitement as they complimented other parts about my home.  I loved this house when I first toured it, and still do, but there’s something about being reminded why you fell in love with something in the first place, especially after it’s flaws start to come through (cabinet doors that don’t shut, painted shut windows, loosey goose doorknobs, shower knobs that don’t let the bath faucet on).  It’s important to say that these were genuine compliments; I don’t feel like they were fluffing me up to love them more.

The tile in my kitchen, the modern and old mix of furniture in my bedroom, the light from my windows, my quirky little bathroom sink.  They brought so much appreciation for my own home back to me, and I’m going to hold onto that forever.

Then it was down to business.  The living room.  The mantle.  Without hesitation, the first thing to go was the Christmas decor.  Since it is mid-January, I reluctantly complied.  They both agreed, based on the photos I submitted, that my big map could stay (yay!) but needed to just rest on the mantle instead of hang.  They cleared off the rest of it while I just stood back and watched.  Then we went hunting for things again, this time to the garage.  They spotted a metal basket and two old milk jugs from my parents’ basement that I loved when I saw them down there and had carted around through three living spaces.  My favorite part of the day (after the house loving of course) was watching them carefully wash and prepare these vintage jugs for use in my current living room.

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The day-of before

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Packing away Christmas

They brought them in and toodled around with the perfect placement.  I’m still just standing back watching, amazed at what’s happening before me.  They worked so well in sync together, checking in with me and my vision, but also just knowing my vision well enough to decide things together.

Besides being under the weather I think they could tell I was overwhelmed and were so kind in listening to my mini-panic about clearing off the mantle.  Last fall I’d spent a little over $100 on lanterns and candlesticks and big books to try to fill it out, and they just took them off.   It’s frustrating to feel like you tried on your own, and couldn’t find the look you wanted, but then such a relief to finally get the mantle under control (this is why you hire the As!).

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Too soon our styling session was over and the cheery girls left me to bask in my delightfully arranged living room (still just with a cart in it but simplified), but not without homework.  I had five main tasks for the next month before we come tighter again.

  1. Buy a couch
  2. Paint the fireplace white
  3. Get a snake plant and some philodendron
  4. Only buy white things, and no more new pieces
  5. Look for a jute rug

I was a little nervous about being left to these devices on my own but the girls were supportive in answering questions I had (what kind of paint? where do I buy those plants?) and even pinned examples of it all to our shared Pinterest board.

The couch is ordered, the fireplace is painted and the plants are happy in their new home!  I can’t wait to share an updated post with you once the couch is in its place, but this one was meant more to focus on these delightful girls and their very-worth-it service.  If you’d like to read more about this service, check out this link.  At the very least, even if you’re not into furniture, vintage or plants, swing by their shop near 12 and Harvard to say hi.  You won’t be sorry.

 

2016 Firecracker 5k

Good morning y’all!  I hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th of July – I sure did.

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Firecracker 5k 23:20

I started off one of my favorite holidays by running in the Fleet Feet Firecracker 5k.  I’ve been working on 5k spadework and tempo runs since January and in March, when the temps were still low and the weather kind of dreary, I decided to shoot for this race for my 21:something goal.  Well about three weeks before the race, I was out on a practice 5k run and realized I had completely forgotten what the heat and humidity can do to average pace times.  It’s no joke how much it can slow you down!  (Seriously, we learned about it in grad school, although now I can’t remember the specific statistic.  I just know that it’s true).

So after that practice run, I nearly bagged signing up for the race.  It was three weeks away, definitely not enough time to get ready to PR and close enough to the race that the fees would be high.  I had pretty much talked myself out of it.  But then this other  voice in my head took over.

You can’t just skip the race because you think you won’t do well.

Well, I could.  But I decided that I wouldn’t.  I signed up that day, staying true to my goal of running this race but adjusting what I expected from the outcome.  I decided I would shoot for under 24 minutes and work on getting faster each mile.  I hit half of that goal.

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Flat Sprenk ready to go.

The race was set for 7:30 am and it looked like we’d luck out with no rain and temps in the low 70s.  I’m not one to get to the race early to hang around so we headed to the start line around 7:15.  I had my usual coffee and water at wake-up time and banana at the start line.  Works well for this distance.

The start line was crowded!  I ran into one of the runners I follow on Instagram but had never met in real life and we wished each other luck – man, what technology does!  Honestly I don’t remember thinking about much except wanting to get it started.  I need to get better at calming down at the start to stick with the game plan.  Which was to start slower and pick up pace as the race went on.

When I race a race, rather than run it for fun, I work my way up to the front of the pack.  It’s an intimidating place to be with all of these lanky, sleek-muscled fast-looking people!  But I go there because I’m racing, just like them.  And even though I feel like I don’t fit in, I do.  Mostly.

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Waiting for the strollers to go.

This race I got swept up into them a little out of my league.  I could feel when we made our first turn onto Boulder off of Second that I was going too fast.  I checked my app (which was off anyway because I didn’t start it on time….so much to think about at that start line!) and saw I was running a sub-7!  Whoa Sprenk, slow down!  So I slowed my pace a bit but wanted to keep it steady and still under 8 minutes.  By 1.5 miles, I was hot but still pushing.  We looped around in near Guthrie Green and headed back toward the Denver dip in the road.  I had to walk up that hill.  I even tried to pull on the strength of all those mornings running back and forth over the Boulder bridge but it just wasn’t there.  (The end of the race can be real tough if you tank it in the first mile like I did on accident).

Then I was on Second with the finish line in sight.  But still so far.  I turned it up a gear (or thought I did).  Making my way into the crowd.  Closer and closer to the finish line.  I felt like I was sprinting but video that Chap got showed later I definitely wasn’t.  Oh well, it’s all in the perceived effort right?

I crossed the line at 23:20.  Not fast enough for an age group place which is always fun, but fast enough to meet my sub-24 goal!  I chowed down on a breakfast taco and then had to run home to change before a morning at the studio.  IMG_1267

I’m so glad I raced.  Even though I didn’t meet my original goal, I didn’t quit and I learned from this race.  I’m a firm believer that every race, every training run has something to offer you if you’ll just look.  The good and the bad.  Yesterday wasn’t bad, it wasn’t my best.  But it was good!  And I learned that I need to pace myself!  This lesson will give me a focus for the next training cycle 🙂

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Sun was so bright!

 

Quick Race Review:

I enjoyed this race.  The course was challenging but a nice tour through downtown’s neighborhoods.  The medal was awesome (and not too common for 5ks) and so were the breakfast tacos.  I was not crazy at all about the very stiff cotton t-shirts we got and am certain I’ll never wear mine.  That’s mostly my only complaint about this particular race!  I’d definitely do it again next year.

Japanese Clear Onion Soup

The recipe trials continue!  I’m not a whiz enough to come up with recipes on my own from scratch so I scour books, blogs and Pinterest for recipes that I like the looks of and that are healthy, easy and made with fresh ingredients to try out in my kitchen.  If it’s too hard for me to make or doesn’t taste great, you bet I won’t make it again and I’ll let you know here.  But if it’s easy and delicious, I also love to share that too! I found this delicious dish one night as I was rolling and scrolling through Pinterest.  It comes from www.livingchirpy.com, a blog run by a South African couple (I had no idea about any of this until writing this blog post, but how cool!).

Here’s the picture that caught my attention on Pinterest:

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My inspiration (www.livingchirpy.com)

I can just taste the beloved appetizer of Hibachi restaurants.  I screenshotted the recipe and this weekend when planning for my meals, remembered it was stored in my phone.  The ingredient list is simple and so was preparing it.  But of course, I managed to “mess up” one of the simplest recipes I’ve reviewed so far.

Scores: 

  • Taste: 10 out of 10!
  • Ease: 9 out of 10! (only because I couldn’t follow directions completely)
  • Total time: 43 minutes

Utensils you’ll need

  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Bag for onion and celery remains
  • Soup pot
  • Strainer

Ingredients you’ll need

  • Olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 6 cups of broth of choice
  • Button mushrooms, sliced (to taste)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (let’s be honest, I can only ever manage to get garlic to a chopped stage)
  • Sriracha, coconut aminos to taste

So, I had no wine on hand for this prep.  I did have the Dance Workout station on Spotify which made the kitchen a delightfully upbeat place.  Y’all, if you don’t like cooking, do whatever you can to help you enjoy it a little more. It’s one of the first steps to a healthier lifestyle (and thinner wallet!).

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My favorite kitchen helper

To begin, you’ll first chop the onion, celery and carrots.  Don’t worry too much about how small each gets chopped, we’re not actually going to eat any of these, they’re just for the broth.

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Trifecta for a good broth!

The onions will join the olive oil in the soup pan over medium heat first.  Stir occasionally for about 4 minutes.  Or until you’re tired of waiting and ready to put the other veggies in.  Just be careful not to leave those onions unattended, they will burn!  Add the carrots, celery and garlic to the pot and mix together.  The six cups of broth are added next.

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THIS IS WHERE I SCREWED UP! PAY ATTENTION!

You’re supposed to bring the broth to a boil and then reduce it to simmering for 30 minutes.  DO NOT KEEP IT BOILING AND LAY DOWN TO TAKE A NAP!  A nap is a great idea since there is minimal clean up in this one BUT reduce that heat first.

Just in case you don’t listen to me, here’s what will happen: about half of your broth will evaporate into your kitchen air, leaving maybe a serving and a half of soup left.  DON’T PANIC though, just add the remaining 2 cups of broth from one of the containers :D.  You can let it simmer some more if you want, I just let it warm up a bit.

No harm done.  Next, put a strainer over another pot and pour the broth and veggies into the strainer.  Discard the veggies and examine your first pot of homemade broth!

IMG_0159.jpg I found some pre-sliced mushrooms at the grocery store so I just threw in an appropriate amount for my taste.

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(Sprenkel tip: If you don’t love mushrooms enough to put the whole box in, and likely won’t eat more later, just buy them from the bulk section of the front produce area.) I am not a huge fan of mushrooms so I put in just enough to cover the surface of the soup.  I did not let double layers of mushrooms form.  Keep the heat on low and let the mushrooms cook a bit while you chop some scallions.  Add those babies in and you’re done!

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I am so surprised at the simplicity of this recipe (not at all surprised that I managed to botch it a bit) and how closely the taste matches that of the restaurants’.  The mushrooms remind me a little bit of a pizza which is a weird thing to taste in a Japanese soup but I didn’t mind it.  I’ll make this one again for sure.

(Original recipe said to add Sriracha and/or soy sauce to taste but I forgot!)

State 17: The Sedona Marathon Event (2/3)

This race is the one that brought back some confidence to my feet, heart and mind.  You don’t know about the race that sucked it right out of me down to my lungs and bones because I haven’t written it yet.  I promise to, it’s important to see all the sides of racing but it’s not time yet.

It is time to review State 17: Arizona.  I picked Sedona because that’s where Grandpa Sprenkel lives and he invited me.   Also because it is a breathtakingly beautiful place.

The race was scheduled for a Saturday morning.  This is not unheard of in the running world (St. Jude Half another favorite that’s hosted on Saturday) but it is a little unusual.  I was carb loaded from the pasta the night before and after all that strategizing, we (my cheer team and I) went to bed with a pretty good plan for the morning.  There were parking lots with shuttles to the start but after the fiasco with state 15 shuttles, I’m a little wary of them.

We went to Starbucks first thing because it was on the way (they’re on the way to anything aren’t they?) for coffee and my pre-run meal of oatmeal, dried fruit, nuts and brown sugar (about half of each packet).  This is routine for me on race days no less than two hours before the start -either made at home or from Starbucks.  With a small cup of coffee and water on the side.

Next we drove to make sure we could find a parking spot.  Then, our plan kind of fell apart.  We found one but still had so much time before the 9am start.  I didn’t want to hang out in the cold at the start, and the cheer squad didn’t want to stay in the car.  So we hiked to a local breakfast diner and Grandpa got some food while I used the bathroom more than twice and continued to hydrate and try to stay warm.

After leaving Nick’s Cafe and seeing the long line of cars in the single-lane that the shuttle would be using, we made the decision to just walk to the start line.  I’m guessing it was maybe half a mile.  I was still shivering and my teeth were a chattering but the walking definitely helped (so did my moms calf-length down coat that she thoughtfully and selflessly gave to me in regular Davi fashion.  Thanks mama 🙂 ).

We made it to the start, hiking up the final hill I would have to climb to the finish, in time to see the marathoners get started.  They were on the same out and back course I was, except their out is twice as long.  From the preview drive we took Friday, I knew it was a doozy and hilly race.  But I took all the pressure off myself when I decided I would enjoy it fully, taking pictures along the way.

I made a playlist on Spotify during some of our downtime that morning, taking suggestions from friends on Facebook.  It was a mix of my favorite 90s tunes, some slow and sweet country and energy-driving techno.  I put it on shuffle in hopes the right songs would just appear when needed.  It worked.

The miles just rolled on by.  The air was as crisp and clear as the sky looks in my pictures.  My legs felt strong and pain free underneath me and lungs worked how they were supposed to.  I was in my own little world, surrounded by the most magnificent beauty of mother nature.

Everything went great until I accidentally snagged a water cup that was full of gatorade.  I knew it even before that first drop hit my tongue.  I could smell the lemon and just thought, “oh shit.”  I’ve had a bad experience with gatorade in the middle of a long training run – if you’re not used to it, the sugar can do crazy things to your insides.  Not a good thing period, but especially when you’re in the wilderness with limited options for disposal.  But I was too far committed to the quick shot of liquid.  I got the whole disgusting gulp.  Ugh.  But it all turned out fine and everything stayed in 😉

I remember one big hill towards the end (not the very last one) that was big and steep.  I fell into stride with the gal in white long sleeves in my pictures and we made a silent sort of deal to not stop running.  We made it to the top together and stayed close the last few miles.  With one mile to go I was still feeling strong but was starting to get warm due to the cloudless sky.  I stopped to take off my top layer and get one last drink of water before pushing through the last mile and up the final hill(s).

I finished somewhere around 2 hours but with some extra mileage on my app.  I went searching for the girl in white to tell her thanks for the hill support but my crew found me first.  I lamented about the mismeasured course while stretching and eating.  The 26 and 13 mile markers were together at the same spot, with the same start and finish line.  It just doesn’t work.  The half marathoners got an extra tenth of a mile I think.  Oh well, I wasn’t too caught up in it.  My mind had already moved on to pizza.

Overall I highly recommend this race as a recreational experience.  There are water and aide stations along the way but not every mile.  There are very little humans along the course cheering but it’s a great scenic run.  A little mismeasured but made for some mental conditioning.

I left the course feeling like myself again.  I know I can run 13.1(+) miles without walking too much.  I know I can do it in a strong and confident way.  I know I can do it on hills and at altitude.  Because I did!  Happy to be back 😀

Recipe Trial: Pasta Fagioli with Zucchini Soup

The recipe trials continue!  I’m not a whiz enough to come up with recipes on my own from scratch so I scour books, blogs and Pinterest for recipes that I like the looks of and that are healthy, easy and made with fresh ingredients to try out in my kitchen.  If it’s too hard for me to make or doesn’t taste great, you bet I won’t make it again and I’ll let you know here.  But if it’s easy and delicious, I also love to share that too!

This week I chose a recipe from a cookbook my delightful mama gave me for Christmas.  It’s called weeknight wonders by Ellie Krieger.  She claims quick and nutritious meals for dinner in less than 30 minutes.  We’ll see about that!

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I’m a visual person so a recipe with a photo is 138x more likely to be made by me.  I like to see what ingredients are in it and get a gauge of what it will look like all at once.  This book doesn’t have photos for many of the recipes (which I understand, that can add so much work to publishing) but I found one that did to try.

I’m still not eating meat, just to see how I do without it and wanted something that was warm for these chillier Tulsa nights, and able to freeze since I’m traveling a lot this month.

Taste: 6/10

Simplicity: 8/10

Total time: 37 minutes

Tools You’ll Need

Cutting board

Sharp knife

1 cup measuring cup

Soup pot

Stove

Can opener

Cheese grater

 

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 onion, chopped

Garlic (I used pre-minced)

3 Zucchini, chopped

1 can of white beans (I used Navy)

1 can of diced tomatoes (I used 2, with seasonings)

3 cups of vegetable broth

Salt

Pepper

Parsley for garnish

First, pour yourself a glass of wine and turn on a Spotify station to keep you company.  I chose Hot Country this week.  Chop the onion and place into the soup pot with the olive oil in the bottom.  Cook for 3-5 minutes before adding garlic.  I put in 2 Tbsps of pre-minced.  Turn the heat to low and let these flavors mingle for the time it takes you to open your can of beans.  The recipe called for rinsing and draining but I pretty much just open it, keep the can covered to drain out the extra juice and dump it in the pot.  I can’t say I’ve ever rinsed a can of beans in my life even though every single recipe tells me to.  Rebel am I.

Stir those ingredients together and let them get to know each other just long enough to open and add the 1 or 2 cans of tomatoes.  I chose two because I love tomatoes.  Then pour in the 3 cups of veggie broth.

That all happens pretty quick.  The next part is what took me the longest – chopping the zucchini.  I don’t really have an efficient method for chopping squash and I was also a little distracted by my adorable helper so this took the bulk of the time.  Add chopped veggie to the soup pot and bring to a boil.  Once all the ingredients are boiling, turn the stove down to low and let them blend for 20 minutes (great time to clean up and grate the parmesan cheese!).  This is also where Ellie added elbow macaroni but I didn’t want to so I didn’t.  But if you do want it, add a cup before letting the soup sit for 20 minutes.  Pre-simmering, time spent adding ingredients to pot was just over 12 minutes.

On this particular round of cooking, I roasted some brussels sprouts to toss in a caesar dressing while I waited, and managed to get some dishes cleaned.  I also grated the parmesan cheese to add to the soup at the end – about half a cup, plus more for garnish.

Once the 20 minute timer dings, add the grated cheese to the soup and stir, saving some for garnish.  Top with a sprinkle of parsley and serve hot.

I’m not crazy about the soup but it’s not horrible either.  I’m not going to toss it out but will likely freeze whatever I don’t eat tonight.  There’s a strong tomato flavor (obviously, I added and extra can) which is fine with me but the zucchini and beans don’t add much.  I LOVE how many veggies are in one serving though so that’s a plus.  And it was filling with the beans and squash.   I may experiment with some additional spices next time or if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them!