Sunday, November 17, 2013

Black Bean Soup!

Back in January I decided to start eating more vegetarian meals for dinner. I had gotten in a rut with dinners – meat or fish and a vegetable; healthy but not a lot of vegetables. It also had been a while since I truly cooked - lots of ingredients, following a recipe. Plus my friend Jessi went almost vegetarian and lost a ton of weight. Of course, she was also running a serious number of miles and lifting weights. So with the small change in the diet and more running, I’ve been able to reach one weight loss goal (less than 150 #) and maintain it, despite a very hectic fall semester of teaching. Hopefully when the fall semester winds down I’ll be able to step up the running again and maybe make my next weight loss goal of 145 #.

Here is a recipe for black bean soup that I developed myself, taking from various other recipes:

Ingredients. Didn't know how much I was going to use so I bought extras.

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced (remove seeds or omit for less spiciness)
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 can chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
Olive oil

1. Sauté garlic for a few seconds in 1-2 tblsp olive oil
2. Add onion and sauté until softened
3. Add green pepper and jalapeno and sauté for several minutes
4. Add spices and heat for a minute or two
5. Add black beans and tomatoes
6. Add 1 can broth and 1 can water (I’m rethinking whether the extra water was needed.)
7. Stir and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 min.
8. Puree 3-5 ladles of soup in a blender and add back to soup
9. I thought the soup looked too soupy and wanted it thicker so I boiled it for 5-6 min to reduce the liquid a bit.


 The soup was a success! The taste is really good, different flavor notes, and a definite kick to it! I'll be making this again!

The soup! Yummy and spicy! (ignore the corn bread fail in the background)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

3 Days at the Fair 2013

This was my second effort at the 48 hour race at 3 Days at the Fair held at the Sussex County fairgrounds and hosted by NJ Trail Series. Last year I ‘ran’ 54.9 miles in about 45 hrs. This year, I was there a day early to volunteer (two 4 hr shifts) and was able to start with everyone else on Friday morning. My goal was to run more than last year, to be able to run most of the first day, and to not sleep as much during the night. Well 2 out of 3 aren’t bad.

I put all my gear under the pavilion near the start/finish area and my tent next to the bathrooms. Little did I know that the barn next to me was going to be housing chickens & roosters! I worked with Jessi and Steve in the kitchen serving all the runners who already started the 72 hr race. Dave had his usual intense race look on his face. His goal for the weekend was 300 miles! I caught up with Bill and Fred, 2 runners I met three years ago at this same event and look forward to seeing each year.  Also spotted running in circles was Melissa and Steve. Steve planned on a beer marathon for Saturday – 26 beers in 26 miles!

The next morning I woke around 6:30 AM after sleeping surprisingly well and drove to a local diner for breakfast. The waitress was surprised I ate most of my breakfast – 2 eggs, 2 sausages, 2 French toast, oj, and 2 cups of coffee. I came back to the fairgrounds, changed, and taped my feet to prevent blisters. The day proved to be warm and sunny and I wore my running skirt and started with my Mizuno Wave Rider 15s. I packed well but still forgot one necessary item – Vaseline to prevent chafing. Luckily Jessi came through with some Body Glide!  I had planned on a 5 min run/1 min walk for as long as I could but ended up ditching that once I started catching up with people. I really need to start sticking with my plan for these races. There’s always plenty of time, usually, to catch up with people!  I continued running and walking throughout the day, eating and hydrating well. After mile 19 I finally took a break to sit with my feet up. I switched shoes for some more miles. Towards the end of the evening, I decided to take my shoes off and prop up my feet. That was a huge mistake! I couldn’t even put on my Sauconys, and they are a wider shoe than the other pairs I was wearing that day. Oh well, I switched to my Keen sandals and walked another 2 miles before getting some sleep. The tent was cold and damp and I had trouble falling asleep. I really should have showered before going to bed! I set the alarms on my cell phone to wake up in 4 hrs; seven hours later I finally got out of the tent! This was not what I planned!

The total for the first day was 35 miles! This was a new 1 day PR! 

The start of the second day, Saturday, started with a 1 mile walk in my sandals and pajamas before getting back to the start/finish, the kitchen, and coffee!  This was one of my plans: set up the tent past the start finish and my gear near the finish and always start the day with 1 lap before breakfast. I had some coffee and breakfast and grabbed some clothes for a quick shower and the start of the second day. I was in the middle of a running streak and Steve, who is in his 2nd year of a running streak, was encouraging me to run at least 1 mile that day. Unfortunately, my legs and my mind were not into it. Some of the highlights of the second day: cool and overcast and I alternated between short sleeve and long sleeve shirts and wore tights. Walking a lap with Melissa while eating a hot dog and drinking a Mountain Dew as she completed 100 miles. Beer miles! As I reached various milestones I grabbed one of the many beers I packed for the event: lap 27 for the marathon mark, lap 32 for the 50K,  lap 51 for 50 miles and lap 57 for the new PR for the 48 hr event.  In the afternoon, Lara and Scott arrived with their sons Adam and Sam. Adam was going to run the weekend and had some serious goals. It was fun to watch him run. He’s only 8 yrs old and he would run pretty fast and then walk. He was certainly having fun as he occasionally would raise his arms as if he was winning a race.  During the evening, I was planning on going to sleep but saw Lara and Scott discussing what to do with Adam. Lara wanted to get some sleep and Scott was heading out to the far gate to act as a traffic cop. I was planning on going to sleep but told them I’d walk another mile with Adam. I found out the next morning that after only a few hours of sleep he got up in the middle of the night to continue walking laps. His mom got up to walk several miles with him!

After my walk with Adam, I took a shower and went to bed. I set my alarms again but for 6 AM as I knew I wasn’t likely to get up any earlier! Total for day 2 was 29 miles. I still counted it towards my streak.

Sunday’s weather was cool again but overcast and rainy. I started walking in my Keen’s and pajamas before breakfast. I ate breakfast while walking another lap before changing into running gear for more walking. I continued walking until the race finally ended for a total of 7 miles for the day. Total for the weekend was 71 miles! A PR for 48 hrs! Everyone enjoyed the pancake breakfast and awards ceremony before packing up and leaving for the day.

Other highlights of the weekend: the amazing food put together in the kitchen. Thanks to Jessi for overseeing the food/kitchen/volunteers and all the baked goods! Bill Gentry cranking out some seriously fast miles at the end of the race. Hey Bill – stop saving so much energy and you might be able to run more miles during the weekend! Steve attempting a beer marathon and having to stop drinking beer after 9 miles. Watching Adam, Anya, Ryanne, and many other young runners have fun and put in some serious mileage! Adam had never run anything more than a 5K and he ran 45 miles! Ryanne ran an ultra (27 miles) and Anya ran 41 miles! Seeing the 24 hr runners run crazy fast – Sergio qualified for the US 24 hr team with 151 miles. Dave and John battling it out for second place for the 72 hr race. Dave finished 1 mile ahead of John. Dave didn’t meet his goal of 300 miles but had a new PR of 233 miles! MaryLou had a new Canadian record for 72 hrs with 253 miles! And of course all the people – old friends and making new friends.

And I continued my streak the next day with a 2.5 mile run. The streak didn't end until the next month - 74 days and 309.7 miles.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NJ Ultrafest 50K - 2013 version

Going into the NJ Ultrafest 50K this past weekend, I knew that I would have a slow time. The questions were how slow and how much was it going to hurt? My training was sub-optimal at best. I was sick the first week of January and this semester I was teaching 3 classes and 1 lab at 3 different community colleges, which proved to be stressful and tiring even though I had taught the courses before. Which also meant that I wasn’t running nearly enough and my two longest runs were 12.6 and 12.7 miles. And then there was the weather (cold!) and the trail conditions (snow, water, and mud!).

I showed up to the race site on Friday around 5 PM. Saw that Jen was working solo at the registration table with a long line of runners waiting to pick up their race packet, so I jumped in and helped. I continued to help with registration and anywhere else until dinner – sushi! Thanks to Jessi for bringing in a huge platter of sushi. This has become a regular meal pre-ultra/marathon for a couple of years now. In the past I shied away from sushi – from the thought of eating raw fish, to the taste of the seaweed in the rolls. But I’ve found much to my surprise that I like sushi and it’s a nice relaxing meal with friends. Sushi and beer was good but it was COLD! I was not relishing the thought of sleeping in a tent the night before a big race with the temps dropping into the 20s. Thankfully Jessi decided to drive home and let me sleep on her futon. A little warmer and more comfortable than a tent! But I know I hadn’t gotten enough sleep the past two nights (average 5 hrs) with the 5 AM wake-up on Saturday! Ugh!

A stop at QuikChek for some coffee! and back to the race. Once back at the fairgrounds, I quickly set up my stuff at the start-finish – extra shoes & socks, clothes, food, beverages, etc.  – got some more coffee and a muffin from Jessi (definitely less calories and protein than my usual pre-race meal). Then wandered around chatting with people and helping out where needed. Soon it was race time – a very reasonable 7:45 AM start for the 50K. I started a few seconds late (was staying in the barn away from the wind) which was fine, it allowed me to pass a few people and run some with Mirna who was running her first 50K. My goal for the first 11 miles was to use a run/walk approach (8 min running/1 min walking) and to eat on a regular basis given that in my last 50k race I felt I hadn’t eaten enough prior to and during the second 10 mile loop. But based on how I felt on Saturday, it looks like I still have some learning to do. I also wanted to keep my time at the aid stations to a minimum. No need to add to my time in what is already going to be a slow race!

For the first loop I kept to my run/walk pattern, walking some when it got really wet or when I needed to eat. Quickly got some food at the far aid station and back to the start-finish. Time: 2:22:43 for 11 miles (12:58 pace); not bad. I wore my Mizuno Wave Rider 15s with wool socks for the first loop. Shoes & feet got wet and my feet started to feel sore. So I switched to my Sauconys and new socks, a quick stop in the bathroom, and a bit of food from the aid station and I started my second loop. Spent about 9 min taking care of things. Not bad.

View of part of the course. Many of us tried to stick to the left side to keep our shoes dry.
I started the second loop and was just not feeling it. I was tired, my legs were sore (about 2 miles into this loop I was running more than I had in 2013), and I just did not want to run. So I ended up walking most of the first out and back all the way to the far aid station where I picked up some cup-o-noodles and orange soda and had renewed energy. Definitely need to eat more! I tried to get back to a run-walk routine as much as I could. The second loop wasn’t nearly as slow as I expected. Time: 2:57:30 (17:45 pace).  

Obviously trying to keep my shoes clean and dry did not work!

I really wanted to stop after the second loop but I was determined to finish and get my sweet finisher’s jacket! This time I needed to spend a little more time at the aid station. Added a few more layers, had another bathroom break, and food! Time at aid station: ~20 min. I grabbed a hotdog and some gummy bears and continued walking while eating. The extra food certainly helped as I was able to run more, though definitely at a slower pace and at most for 1-2 minutes at a time. I made it to the far aid station for more food – noodles and Mountain Dew (never thought I’d like it but I do) – which gave me some more energy. But my legs were definitely taking a beating from my lack of training. As I made my way back to the start I caught up with Elaine who was attempting the 50 miler at Melissa’s urging. Elaine had never run more than a marathon and was moving slowly so I encouraged her to run more so she would finish her 3rd loop as quickly as possible. (Note: Never listen to crazy younger runners that encourage you to run a distance much greater than you’ve run before. They think they are invincible). I kept up running and walking till I made it to the fairgrounds and the only visible hill on the course. At this point, I pretty much walked the rest of the way. I was tired and my legs and knees were sore! I ran a bit of the downhill but even that hurt! I made it to the finish for my jacket and medal and to the sounds of cheers from a group there for another runner. Clearly when I finished I was not looking happy as Rick, the RD, asked if I was pissed or sore. Not pissed. Just sore and tired! Time: 3:05:07 (18:30 pace)

Finisher's jacket and medal!

Total time: 8:52:22 (17:11 pace).  I definitely need to get more focused on training. I really would like to break 7 hrs for a 50k and I think I can. A few days after the race my legs are feeling good and I will be back to running this week. Next event: 3 Days at the Fair.