Hard fought 60 miles

Greetings readers! I’ve been a little MIA due to a laptop snafu (I had to take it to the Apple genius bar over the weekend for emergency surgery), but now the trusty laptop and I are back in action. I needed to use up some PTO (paid time off) days before the end of the quarter, so I took Monday and Tuesday off from work and surprised my mom with a visit to Pennsylvania. Before I left on Sunday morning, I fit in an 8 mile run. Damn, it was treacherous. The entrance to Prospect Park was a sheet of ice and slush and the park itself was full of fallen (or cracking/bending) trees. I’ve decided it’s a victory that I didn’t fall and break anything. I am not a winter runner AT ALL, so Boston training is going to be interesting, to say the least.

Last week I hit 60 miles which was within my planned range. However, the week’s mileage was far from effortless. I’ve realized that even if my body and mind are ready and willing to run, sometimes a late night in the office, an evening with friends, or a freak October snowstorm get in the way. Ideally, I’d have run closer to 70 miles last week, but my life isn’t all about running. If less mileage means that I have a more full and balanced lifestyle, then that’s what I will choose. Boston training is still a few months away (I’ll likely begin in January), but I’m already mulling over the type of training plan I’ll follow. Running 80 miles was a fun experiment, but I likely won’t run that amount more than a few times this coming Winter/Spring. I know that for me, personally, I have a harder time running in the Winter (ice, cold, dark), so I want to be realistic with my goals rather than over-reach. Anyway, that’s still a few months out! Right now I’m T-minus 19 days until the Philly Half and am in the midst of an important training week. The plan for now:

Monday, October 31- 5 miles, easy

Tuesday, November 1 – 8 miles w/ 4 strides at the end

Wednesday, November 2 – 11 miles, easy (and super early!)

Thursday, November 3 – 3 mile shake out in a.m., 9 miles p.m. including 6 mile tempo

Friday, November 4 – 7 miles, easy

Saturday, November 5 – 13 miles w/ 4 @ goal HM pace (this needs to be finished by 8:45am AWESOME)

Sunday, November 6 – Marathon Spectating! and 4 miles easy

Total: 60 miles (although subject to change)

One of the great things about visiting the fam is that I have people to cook for. A single girl can only eat leftovers for so many days. On Sunday night I made a butternut squash and caramelized onion pasta dish that even Grandma liked. When she asked what kind of cheese I was using, I said it was a French variety called chevre. I’m pretty sure if I told her it was goat cheese, that would have been a deal breaker. Grandma likes her Kraft! But anyway, the dish came together pretty quickly, was healthy, and there were zero leftovers. Even my picky sister cleaned her plate.

Autumn Pasta (makes about 6 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 Tbs canola oil
  • 1/2 sprig rosemary
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 lb chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 lb whole wheat penne pasta
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss squash, 1 Tbs oil, fresh rosemary, and salt and pepper on a baking sheet and cook for about 30 minutes or until squash is soft and slightly browned. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large saute pan and cook onion until soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add chicken breast and cook thoroughly (in same pan as the onion). Cook pasta according to box instructions, drain, and return to pot. Add the squash, onions, chicken, and goat cheese and toss lightly until combined. Salt and pepper to taste. I also added some red pepper flakes to my dish because I like things spicy!

Later on that day, I baked some banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. I definitely didn’t share these with the trick-or-treaters, heh.

The recipe is based on Karen Demasco’s The Craft of Baking (a lovely cookbook, btw), but next time I would swap butter for the oil and make sure my banana was extra extra ripe. I felt that the banana cupcake flavor profile could have used some work.

Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting (makes 12 cupcakes)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup canola oil (next time I would try 5 Tbs butter)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup + 2 Tbs buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbs white whole wheat flour

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a muffin tin with paper (or foil) liners. In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the sugar and oil together until light. Beat in the banana, egg, egg yolk, buttermilk, and vanilla. Set aside while you combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Slowly add the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined. Don’t over mix or you’ll make the batter tough! Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling them 3/4 full. Bake the cupcakes for about 18 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting –

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter (I used Skippy)
  • 2 Tb butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2-4 Tbs half ‘n half

Directions: In a large bowl, combine the sugar, peanut butter, butter, and vanilla and use a hand mixer to beat together until creamy. Slowly stream in half ‘n half (or milk) if you need to thin out the frosting.

Besides cooking, baking, and some running, I spent much of the last two days with this guy:

Kiwi the cat kept me company while I watched the entire first season of The Walking Dead (omg). It was dark and scary and luckily Kiwi made a good Zombie watching buddy.

Are you a winter runner? What are your tips? I’ve already bookmarked some gear that might make the season bearable – i.e. yaktrax and a knuckle lights. The cold doesn’t scare me so much as the thought of falling…uneven sidewalks + ice + dark morning runs = recipe for a fractured ankle.

Links to look at:

Greatist, a nutrition, happiness, and fitness site, just created an A-Z Guide for all things healthy.

What’s the deal with compression socks and running? Do they work? Check out the article for the scientific explanation.

  • Sweetsbeatsandrunningfeet

    Those cupcakes look amazing! I love banana and peanut butter together!

  • AR

    If the sidewalks suck, run based on HR. I know I’ve whined about the miserable winter here  48594350943 times and frankly, I could deal with it all if it wasn’t for the lack of clear running paths in this shithole. If I’m stuck running in ankle deep snow (or more) and/or frozen tracks, I try to ignore pace and even mileage to an extent. You feel like shit going 11 minute pace through 6 inches of snow, but if your HR is where it would be for a faster effort on non shitty surfaces, I think it works out. Or so I tell myself. And frankly, I still prefer it to 90 degree temps.

  • Shady

    I’m not a winter runner (in fact this will be the first winter when I can call myself a ‘runner’) but I’m totally looking forward to your more experienced readers winter running advice.

  • Anonymous

    @AR – but when it’s 90 degrees, i can wear my ridiculous one-shouldered sports bra!! but, let’s be honest, i will probably wear it regardless of temperature.

    when are you coming to do long runs with me? k, thanks.

  • Runthelongroad.com

    Knuckle lights are awesome and yaktrax are OK…just don’t wear them for a real long run. After 20 miles my feet felt like they were being squeezed to death!

  • I’m not a huge fan of winter running but it beats the treadmill inside any day. Anyways, I usually plan to meet up with friends because I don’t like running in the dark by myself.

    In terms of compression socks, going to confess I didn’t read the article, but I can understand why they work after running. I’m guessing the premise is to help blood flow from the lower legs back to the systemic circulation…to reoxygenate, detoxify, etc. As far as during running, I’m not sure how it increased blood flow (unless they mean venous return, I’m not sure how it increases arterial forward flow), but maybe its helps with diminishing inherent leg vibration or something.

    I’ve worn compression socks after, but not during running. My legs have felt better, but not sure how much of that is placebo effect…

  • Nicole

    I have never heard of knuckle lights until now, but wouldn’t they go in crazy directions while you swing your arms while running?

  • I am definitely not a winter runner. I hate being cold and by the end of January I’m always fantasizing about summer dresses and bookmarking recipes for berry pies. Unfortunately, I’m running a marathon in March and thus will be running my 20-milers in the middle of January and February. Not really looking forward to that, but it’ll all be worth it when race-day comes!

  • I would actually rather run in the winter than in the 90 degree humid heat of summer. But I’m a weirdo. I run through the winter in Boston, without access to a treadmill (I will this winter!!). I wouldn’t worry so much about a broken ankle as the long-term strain on calves/ankles of running on uneven surfaces. This is a good time to do some prehab to make sure you’re strong enough. And if things start getting achey– hit the treadmill. Or remember those indoor track workouts.  I also really love the REI activestretch fleece lined spandex. Oh, yes.

  • Anonymous

    oh my gosh, those cupcakes. I want the entire plate, please. YUM. I’m weird, because i actually like winter running, minus the freak storms and snow/slush/ice. There’s something about getting out there in the dark morning hours that is so different, in a good way? Remind me I said this in mid-January. 

    Happy running this week! Tell me where you’ll be along the course on Sunday!!

  • Liz

    I’m so not a winter runner! I prefer running in the heat, which I guess is a good thing since it’s going to hit 60 degrees for Sunday’s marathon! I’ll have to look into those knuckle lights, I wear a headlamp, but I could always use more light!

  • Kristen

    I actually love winter running(I know I’m probably alone on this one). I love the feeling of a crisp/chilly morning run – way better than the heat/humidity if you ask me! Your training schedule is insane – you are such a champ! 

    I’m running the Philly full – maybe I’ll see you there! Good luck!

  • Anonymous

    hmm, i guess it would be a good exercise in minimizing arm swing!

  • i don’t understand people who enjoy outdoor activities in winter, but maybe it would be useful for me to learn to like one so i complain less about the cold…  my fingers are crossed for a mild winter for your boston training! (and for my own sanity, let’s be real).

    where are you spectating the marathon? i want to crash your party. possibly with a hot toddy thermos.

  • Anonymous

    i’ve just staked out my spot! Southeast corner of Franklin and Lafayette Avenues, just after mile 9. Sort of near where you and Sofia were last year…i’m dragging Sarah with me!

  • Ali

    STOP MAKING DELICIOUS THINGS AND NOT SHARING THEM WITH ME. Rude.

  • Ann

    Check out the season 2 premiere on the abc website. Love that show! Happy running!

  • J (Morning Runner)

    I run in the winter, and basically year round outdoors, unless it is blizzarding snow, pouring rain and/or lightning.

    I wear a headlamp so I can see the group and don’t trip and fall.  I think it works pretty well to keep me safe and also alert cars and other people out walking that I am there.  If I run and there is snow on the ground I just take it slow so I don’t fall and usually I am on the roads which have been cleared by the plows.  It is basically a day by day thing in the winter – just have to see if it snows and if it safe to be out there.

  • Good for you for recognizing the need for balance between life and running! Sometimes its hard for me to “step back” in the midst of training. Nice workout scheduled for saturday – interested to hear how it goes!
    Man, I hate winter running. Not gonna lie. I’m all confused about what to wear for the Philly Half. Going back and forth between long sleeve dri fit and/or running sleeves. Those knuckle lights are GENIUS! Definitely ordering some.
    I just got these running gloves from city sports that have terry cloth material on the thumb/palm area perfect for winter snot 🙂

  • Awwww, Kiwi looks so snuggly! He’s fuzzy just like my Indy.

    That pasta looks great, and I just happen to have a butternut squash sitting on my counter! I may have to vegetarian-ize it and try it out.

    I am a winter running, but my best tip is to move to CA so you don’t have to deal with ice and snow! 😉

  • Anonymous

    haha, I would love to move to California! Le sigh…maybe someday.

    You could definitely leave out the chicken in the butternut squash recipe or replace it with some white beans!

  • Meister @ The Nervous Cook

    You’re inspiring me! I’m at about 50–53 miles/wk, headed toward 60… you’re keeping me at it. 

    So far I feel like fall has been fickle but mostly lovely; that weird snowstorm made Central Park a little treacherous, too, but reminded me how much I love those bracing mornings, feeling so alive, that little ache in your lungs from the cold air until your body warms up and pitches into it… Man, running. Nothin’ else like ie.

  • abbey

    Hi! I love your blog, I’m starting a blog, which will not be NEARLY as good as yours or the other couple that I love to read but I’m excited none-the-less…But anyway…

    1. THANK YOU for the butternut squash recipe! My goal for this morning was to find a tasty one to use for the squash currently in my kitchen and this looks like a winner!

    2. I live in Cleveland (only been here in horrible weather town for a year) and I am trying the winter running thing too…should be interesting but both asics and this brand called ice bug make some really good (i think, i haven’t tried them yet) ice-shoes with little spikes in them for good traction (they recess if your walking on cement)…I’m definitely going to buy a pair, they are both surprisingly lightweight.

    3. I LOVE COMPRESSION SOCKS. I use them for recovery purposes, especially after long runs. I was having horrible leg pain/soreness after my long runs (i have plenty of old injuries from my gymnastics years that flare up after long running) and I bought some compression socks and it was amazing how much better I felt. I actually use the medical brand Kendall T.E.D. anti-embolism socks, they’re medically graded for compression and less expensive than the other brands. Try em out!

  • I ran outside all last winter while training for a May 1st marathon and it was rough. Some things I learned- hat and gloves are most important, for me it gloves especially. I found that if my gloves weren’t warm enough my hands were just painfully cold. I am probably going to get some warmer gloves this year- I have a brooks pair and lululemon pair which are great but not when its super cold (below freezing). Also body glide or something similar for your face when its cold and windy. And finally a gym membership because inevitably the weather will take a turn and it will snow when you had planned to do a 16 miler outside. 

  • Great work on getting in the miles, even though it’s tough. Maybe you can make some early am treks up to CP for winter motivation. I’d be down for BK to change up the scenery, too! Running in the winter is definitely tough. I’ve never trained for a marathon, just a half, so this will be interesting. Flexibility will probably be key– treadmill runs, swapped long run days, lunchtime runs, etc. Boston, here we come! 🙂

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