Friday, October 31, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I find that no matter how fun a vacation was, it’s still always nice to be home. This time was no exception, especially since Husband was nice enough to greet me at the airport with flowers! Oh, and the house was immaculate! The freshly-vacuumed carpet was enough to make me swoon – and think that maybe I should go away more often. I’m glad to be back in time for Halloween. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a holiday that’s entirely devoted to eating lots of candy. (As an additional bonus, I went to the dentist yesterday, which means I can devour lots of candy guilt-free without having to explain anything in the dentist’s chair.) Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Marathon Training! Week 20

So here’s my overly-obvious fact of the week: knees are really important for running. My knees have been a little sore on my last few runs. The pain wasn’t that bad, yet I knew that things weren’t quite right. I tried to take it easy on my runs, running slower and less often than I usually do. This morning I woke up early for my long run, but I knew that the 18 miles I was hoping for was probably a long shot. Within the first few minutes of running, I felt the knee pain again. I took it really slow, and I ended up running 4 miles at my slowest pace yet. I made it back home, ready to drink some water and figure out my next move. I wanted to keep going, but I knew it probably wasn’t the best thing for my knees. Thankfully, the voice of reason (disguised as Husband) intervened. I asked for his advice, and he said I should definitely take a break from running. He said something clever about pain being the body’s way of saying “stop!” (Or, in the case of my knees, “stop running, you crazy marathon trainee! You’re making us miserable!”) This was actually the scenario that I worried about yesterday. I worried what would happen if I couldn’t finish the 18 miles. But, I am surprisingly calm about everything today. I’ve accepted that I can’t wave a magic wand to make my knees better. (But, if you do happen to have such a wand, please let me know, so I can borrow it.) All I can do is to relax my knees and hope and pray. I’m realizing now that my trip with my mom is actually happening at a perfect time. That will force me to not run for a couple weeks, which is probably just what I need to heal. I have no idea where this will leave me with the marathon itself. I just keep reminding myself of the goal that I made when I signed up for this: My goal was to complete the marathon (not in any specific time), but only if it wouldn’t do any physical damage to my body. I’m hopeful that things will all work out. And I guess I just have a much better excuse for eating good food and relaxing with my mom on our trip – it’s all for the sake of my knees!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Miracle in the Kitchen

Cooking has not come naturally to me. I know that some people are blessed to be able to whip up a delicious, tasty meal in the kitchen without pots boiling over or other trouble brewing. Clearly, I do not have that ability. As a single girl, I subsisted on nightly meals of omelets (or, more accurately, scrambled eggs with stuff tossed in) or cereal. My grandmother, clearly worried about my (lack of) cooking skills and the fate of her future great-grandchildren, gave me a subscription to “Quick Cooking” magazine for Christmas one year. Now that I’m married (since Husband politely overlooked my culinary challenges and agreed to marry me anyway), I make a predictable rotation of meals, mostly including: spaghetti, grilled cheese, and tacos. Poor Husband eats it all and never complains, even when it’s a streak of Hamburger Helper. The past few weeks I’ve gone on a quest to find new recipes that might broaden our meal options and break our usual routine. I cooked up some new dishes: a few mediocre casseroles, a pasta dish that tasted like cardboard despite a number of expensive ingredients, and a terrible dish called “Chinese Hamburger” (which marked a rare cultinary feat of looking and tasting equally awful) that will haunt my cooking nightmares for years to come. My neighbor, without even knowing it, intervened. She invited me over for dinner the other night when Husband was out of town. She served a delicious, hearty soup that I fell in love with. She said the recipe was easy (hooray!) and she’d give it to me (double hooray!). I made it when Husband got home, and it really was easy to make. Best of all, we both liked it and we happily ate the leftovers. The recipe is called “Chicken Tortilla Soup.” (I call it “The Recipe that Saved Me From Selling Our Stove.”) 1 can (15 oz) black beans 1 can (15 oz) pinto beans 1 can (8.75 oz) corn 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce 2 cans (14.5 oz each) chicken broth 1 jar (16 oz) chunky salsa 3 cups of cooked chicken (bite-sized pieces) 1 medium zucchini, chopped 2 tablespoons chili powder 1 teaspoon ground cumin garlic, to taste Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 30 minutes. I also added some chopped onion, and I’m sure you could add other veggies to the recipe as well. We topped our bowls of soup with shredded cheddar cheese, a bit of sour cream, and crumbled tortilla chips. Husband called it delicious. I call it a miracle.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Marathon Training! Weeks 18 and 19

Now that it's October, I can actually say that the marathon is "next month." I’ve realized that I have only a few more long runs left before the marathon itself! It’s exciting to finally see the light (or the finish line?) at the end of the tunnel. My long runs the past couple weeks have gone much better. For a variety of reasons, I ended up running my long run last week (of 16 miles!) at the gym on base. I figured that no one would notice that I was running for so long, since most (normal, sane) people do not spend nearly 3 hours at the gym. One of the workers noticed, though. After I finished running, he asked, “How long was that run? 5 miles?” I told him that it was 16 miles and that I was training for a marathon. For a few seconds, he just shook his head and kept repeating “wow, 16 miles.” I almost felt the same disbelief, too. This week I hope to run 18 miles for my long run. It will be my last long run for a few weeks because I’m going on a trip with my mom next week. And although I’m committed to running, I’m also committed to having a great time with my mom on a trip we’ve planned for a long time. So my running shoes will have a break of their own, relaxing in my closet while I’m gone. *** Since I’ve been running so much, I hardly ever go for walks anymore. But Husband and I decided, on a whim, to go for an evening stroll together around our neighborhood on Saturday night. The weather was perfect, and it was so pleasant to casually walk and admire the homes. We saw another couple that we knew, as well as a gorgeous sunset. I enjoyed it so much, and it made me miss the walks I used to take before I started marathon training. I do hope to do much more walking, once the marathon is over. I don’t think I’ll give up running altogether. But I probably won’t be running 16 miles…at the gym, or anywhere else.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

New Addition

Husband and I are the proud parents of a new bundle of joy that arrived yesterday.

She weighs approximately 5.5 lbs, and from what we can tell, she’s very healthy. (Not to mention, sleek! And modern!) We anticipate that we will up late at night with her, but only because we are excited to spend time with her. She joined our family because we’ve nearly pushed our previous computer to her limits. She was over six years old, which has to equate to about 90 years in electronic years. She was near-wheezing and sluggish, and we decided that it was time to give her a break before she expired. Enter, our new addition: We expect a very happy life with her…assuming that we can figure out Vista first.