Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fresh tomato sauce

Because carboloading pasta needed to be jazzed up a little
(with something that had no butter, protein, or fat, according to my Runner's World plan)

My best attempts to use up the remnants of that CSA box by halving this recipe:

1.5 lbs heirloom tomatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 white onion
1 small clove of garlic
small bunch of stubby carrots
pinch of salt

1. Blanche and peel the tomatoes by cutting a small X in the bottom, dropping them into boiling water for about 30 seconds, and ladling them out. Rinse under cold water, and peel back the skin. (This proved difficult for craggy heirlooms, so I re-blanched a few times.)

2. Squeeze the seeds out over a strainer/bowl. Reserve the juices and tomato pump. Coarsely chop the tomatoes.

3. Mince the onion, carrot, and garlic.

4. Sauté the carrots, onion, and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer for 30-45 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Note: Mine was carrot and onion-y, which I think was delicious-- just not your typical pomodoro sauce, that's all.

Monday, October 24, 2011


My wonderful roommates bought me my first-ever massage as a post-marathon treat. The massage was booked for 3:45pm at a yoga studio an hour away, near the beach. As my workday quickly dwindled, a plan slowly unfolded. 

I started training for this marathon at almost exactly the same time I started dating someone. I guess it's fitting that both ended within a day of each other. I finished the marathon and thought, "What now?" The answer? I have no fucking clue. I lack a little direction right now, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to run around aimlessly. I'm infamous for my inability to relax. Not since I was conceived, my mom says, have I been able to sit still. I'm trying to be at peace with this whole ebb-and-flow thing, be okay with the fact that I'm actually going stir-crazy though I need to relax and let my body recover. Massage, beach, sunset... then rushing back home so we could go out to the bar for trivia like we do every week.

After my massage, I had a magazine, my MCAT book, and a decent craving for a hot cup of coffee. But instead of looking up beachside cafés, instead of a Point A-to-Point B direct route, I would just drive. I decided to follow the traffic, hugging the coast until I hit a nice little strip mall with a Starbucks inside a Safeway. I splurged on a Salted Caramel Mocha, got a bar of spiced chocolate, and treated myself to a sunset on the beach. I found a break in a chain-link fence and a sign that said, "WARNING: Dangerous cliffs. Do not go beyond this point." Damn right I took that as an invitation.

 I started on the cliff, overlooking the ocean. I didn't want to get my massage-oiled feet wet and sandy. But soon I found myself sans ballet flats, clambering over boulders down to the beach, welcomed by a scruffy fisherman and equally scruffy dog who ran up to me barking, like he had been waiting for me. Five times in a row.

I keep thinking about blogs and how certain people only like posts with a unified theme. A central topic that has subtexts and develops throughout the paragraphs. That's not what this is. My thoughts aren't cohesive. I've only got photos. Lots of them.

NWM 2011: Marathon Finish

Well, so there it is. My marathon finish.

It has taken a while to sink in, that I've accomplished that. It didn't feel that special at first-- it felt like a really hard, long run that my friends happened to be cheering at. But calling myself a marathoner, trolling through the results page to see that no one else from my hometown, no one else from my alma mater even competed in the (full marathon) race, seeing that I actually broke the top 25% of finishers... that makes it sink in. It's only my second race I've ever competed in, but I've got the bug.

4am wakeup to eat my pre-race food (bagel, PB, honey and Gatorade)

5:15am wakeup call for final preparations and to walk down to the start (0.8 mi away)

Back in the first half of the marathon, when I was all smiles and focus
My official Tiffany & Co. finisher's necklace
A bouquet from my sweet sister that was waiting on the doorstep of my apartment

The mood got dampened a bit the next day, but you know what? I was only ever doing this for myself and my own goals. He wasn't ever giving me pep talks or cheering me on. I went for runs with his friends while he slept. And I have the necklace to prove that I've accomplished my goal. It feels good.

I was out weeks 4-8 of my 16-week training plan with a strained hip flexor and bronchitis. I jumped back into the plan when every person I talked to and article I read told me to stop. I wanted it so badly, though I also felt like I was making too many excuses and wasn't pushing myself hard enough. I let almost every double-digit run slide, missing two twelves and a fourteen, and then doing 8-milers instead of 12, twelves instead of 16, and only one of the two 20s on my plan. But even if only for frugality's sake, I signed up for that race, so I was going to run it, damnit.

Miles 1-9 were great. Hills were just what I was anticipating, the scenery was beautiful, I stopped at every hydration station and ate every banana/orange slice/energy chew offered. Around mile 11.5, my piriformis started to hurt-- bad. I hadn't taped my right leg, so my foot was numb, burning, and tingling. Four of my friends were there, waiting, cheering, yelling, taking pictures... being their amazing, crazy selves. All I could do was turn on my iPod for a few songs (which I had decided to use on an emergency basis, since I wanted to get the most out of the experience), tighten my sweatshirt against my lower back to apply a little pressure and hope for the best, even though it was all I could think about... until mile 14.6, where two of my friends were standing on the sidewalk, waiting to join in. They had boundless enthusiasm, and all of a sudden we were clapping, singing (yelling), and half dancing to the Black Eyed Peas' "Pump It (Louder)", a Nike+ powersong at mile 16 or so-- even after the music was too distant to hear. I was too excited to have them there to actually care that I looked like a fool. With one guy running on each side of me, I kind of felt like I could tackle anything. It was amazing.

At mile 19, my housemate joined the three of us, and with 10k left, I was on track to make my goal time, a 4:30:00 marathon. But then I hit a wall--hard-- around mile 21. Nausea, anger, depletion of energy, dehydration... all of it. The "bitch zone" is a real thing. I stopped to walk 7 or so times not due to muscle ache, but nausea, and now wish I had obeyed the "puke and rally" sign we saw around mile 23, just before a hill that I didn't remember coming. I definitely wouldn't have been the only one. I resolved to run from mile 25 on, and that was pure adrenaline. The four of us pressed on, and they left me with a half mile to go for the finisher's chute. I turned on my iPod a second time to find the most adrenaline-pumping song on my carefully-crafted marathon playlist. It had turned off after two hours of pause, so it shuffled to something random. I wasn't even looking at it, just pressing the play button enough times to turn something on. (I kind of lost the capability for coherent thought around mile 22.) The song: "I get by with a little help from my friends", by the Beatles. The least adrenaline-pinching, but most appropriate song I could have ever picked. Needless to say, there were tears at the finish. And I'll be back for more.