Throo The Zoo 5K – Louisville, KY (May 12, 2018)

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Me crossing the finish line at the Throo The Zoo 5K – Louisville, Kentucky

Race: Throo The Zoo 5K

Place: Louisville Zoo, Louisville, Kentucky

Date: May 12, 2017

Time: 22:58*

Major question of importance…will the course of the Throo The Zoo 5K ever actually be a 5K?  Because…once again I didn’t even hit 3 miles for this race.  In fact, when I crossed the finish line, my watch read 2.99 miles.  I know it’s not hard to measure a course.  I’m not even good at running tangents, but…come on.  I do give it a pass because it is a zoo run and it is supposed to be fun…but I swear…move the start line back or the finish line out just a little bit…and GOLDEN!

Whatever.

So…I was talked into doing the Throo The Zoo 5K by my good friend, Melissa.  She had a team started for the race and made sure to inform me that…hey…they have finisher’s medals this year because…it was their 25th anniversary of the race.  So…I signed up.  We all know how much I LOVE 5K races right? *sarcasm*

I am NOT a sprinter.  Not one bit.  Not at all.  This is why I have NO finishing kick at the end of races.  If I am sprinting…I’m done a the end.  My energy is spent.  Maybe this is because I didn’t grow up a runner…I don’t know.  But…5Ks are not my forte nor something that I actually enjoy running.

But…they do make for good speed play.  And it’s a fun way to do speed work, as I am an avid hater of doing anything that means pushing hard and then recovering.  LOL!  I can’t help it.  Speed work and treadmills are what injure me.  So I’m reluctant to do either.

Also…Saturday is my “long” run day and I had 81 minutes on tap for that morning.  I also hate training by time.  But I’ve made that known from the start.  My plan was to run for an hour ahead of the race…pause and drive to the zoo…and then finish up my long run with the race itself.  My original plan had been to finish up my run after the race, but it was going to be very hot that day and once the sun came out…I probably would have died.  I normally love training in the heat, but this year it’s not working so well for me.  MEH.

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Gluten Free Green Acres and the Spicy Tofu Sushi Rolls.  LOVE vegan sushi.

The night before, I met up with Melissa and Paul for sushi at Dragon King’s Daughter (sushi is my new pre-race BFF…at least for now)…and then we went back to the apartment so that Cathy could apply KT tape.

I needed to stretch and roll and then sleep because I needed to wake up early enough to fit in a sweaty 60 minutes of running, change, eat, get to the zoo…and then see what I could do.  So…that’s what I did.

Morning was an early alarm for me.  I suited up, put on my Nox Gear Tracer 360 and head lamp and headed out for some easy paced miles.  I am working very hard on keeping my long runs and easy runs slower more consistently.  Slowing down has never been my forte.  I am a work in progress there.  After just over an hour of running (I like round numbers so I went over the time to get to a perfect mileage number), I had 8 miles under my belt and went inside to stretch out, eat, and change into clothes for the race.  I decided to ditch the tank top and wear a crop because I was dying in a tank top before the sun came up and with the race starting at 8 am…the sun would be up and if the Indy Mini taught me anything it was if I overheat…I’m done.

I fixed up my protein shake using my OWYN protein powder (coffee flavored) with my Four Sigmatic Cordycep Mushroom Elixir and took it on the road with me for the drive to the zoo.  That would be my fuel for this race as I seem to forget to buy bananas these days.  This was new…but doing new things on race day seems to be my thing this year.  I have no idea why.  I drank it on the way there, but soon, Cathy and I were stuck in the zoo traffic and barely moving.  The race start time was quickly approaching and we still had about a half mile to go.  We quickly made the decision to park in the Kroger parking lot and make the walk to the zoo.  It made for a nice warmup anyway, right?

Traffic is usually an issue, but it has never been this bad.  But with the promise of a medal at the end, the 5K sold out and…yeah…it was a mess.  Melissa was apparently in the zoo round-a-bout and no moving.  So…we weren’t alone.  In fact, we got to the start line before she and Paul did.  Which is CRAZY!

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Laura and I before the race.

As I was standing around waiting for the race start, I convinced myself that I didn’t need to pee (I mean, I rehydrated with Nuun, and then drank a protein shake…and I really did need to pee, but port-a-potty lines were RIDICULOUS)…which seemed to work.  And then I saw Laura!!  Laura and I talked and we’ve started making some plans to do long runs together this summer…so that will be fun.  Start time was approaching, so I shed my Run The Bluegrass hoodie and went to line up with Laura at the start.

We both noted the lack of certain regulars at this race…which could be a good thing in the end for us.  HA!  We also noted a lot of kids lining up at the front of the start…which race officials specifically asked NOT to do…but…I mean…it’s the zoo.  It is a safety concern though.  That being said, one of said kids was like…pretty close to being one of the first in…and he was 12 so…I mean…some do deserve it, but others probably should have moved back.  Especially since the road this starts on is narrow and crowded at the start.

Speaking of the start…a random airhorn went off prior to the race…and it really just confused all of us at the start line.  It was not the official start.  But now that everyone was ready and prepared…the official start was counted down by the emcee on the microphone at the start line.  And with a simple…”GO”…we were off and running.

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Me at the start of the Throo The Zoo 5K – and that’s the guy with the stroller who ended up passing me at the end.

I kept my training shoes on (they are heavier than my racing shoes) to help me better pace myself this race.  The first mile was spent on the narrow-ish Illinois Avenue, just outside of the Louisville Zoo.  My legs still felt good at this point, surprisingly, after my miles that morning, so I just worked on running comfortably hard.  I wasn’t going to all-out sprint it…but I wanted to see how much I could push myself.  The first turn takes us into the entrance at the back of the zoo.  Last year, I remembered rocky areas and my Newton shoes would get stones stuck in the lugs.  This year…I kept my Adidas Boston Boosts on to prevent this from happening.  Glad I did…because the rocky section was just the start.  Further into the race, construction was happening in this first mile and there was a big section on the path that was stones and loose rocks.  I made a good decision to wear the heavier shoes.  We hit Mile 1 soon after hitting this parking lot area of the zoo, pass the water stop and zig-zag up a hill and head back into the zoo.  I could hear a lot of people coaching some younger runners near me.  “Try to run faster.  You have to run faster.”  UGH.  Let them have fun.

Back into the zoo and we get some fun rolling hills.  I was now in the presence of a man with a running stroller.  He was running strong, but one of the steep uphills inside the zoo slowed him down to a walk.  For most of the rest of the race…I could hear him talking to his child about the animals that were out and about my socks.  I literally was steps ahead of him for the rest of the race.  Here we can see walkers heading into the first mile and it’s this fun area where the late wave and the first wave get to meet.  Some of them cheer and send out encouragement, which is nice.  And the zoo employees that are stationed around are also amazing for that too.  Mile 2 hits around the start of the African Outpost section of the zoo.  And my watch beeped a little after the mark.  Here we go again.

I didn’t once glance at my watch, because I never do when running, so why start during races.  But I could feel the strength and energy draining as the hills continued and we hit the worst of them all…Gorilla Hill.  This is a long and winding climb that does take runners out of the zoo for the final sprint to the finish.  I was slowing down on the hill, and when the flat road came back as we all came out to the parking lot to finish, I couldn’t find a finishing kick.  Well, I never have one anyway, but there was nothing left.  I did manage to get shout-outs from Howard, Matt, Amy, and others who ran to the race to cheer on finishers.  So that was amazing.  They could recognize me this time because I had on fun socks and colorful shorts.  I learned my lesson after KDF.  HA!!

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Me with my Throo The Zoo Finisher’s Medal after the race!

So, I ran it through to the finish, my watch never even beeping for a third mile.  MEH.  Oh well.  And that guy with the stroller…he passed me in the final straight-away.  Naturally.  I finished the race and received a medal and magnet…then moved out of the way to wait for Cathy to join me.  I told her I needed to round up my mileage so I did a short jog in circles in the grass before grabbing some water, a banana, and going to stand at the finish line to wait on Melissa and Paul to finish.  Cathy told me that I was the 6th female in, so that guaranteed me an age group award.  That was exciting.  It was just a matter of where I placed for it.

They weren’t too far behind me and we cheered them in to the finish line.  We went to meet up with them afterwards.  Cathy went to grab them both water and Gatorade and then get their official finishing times for them.  They both had a good race and Melissa was about to head out for her 2nd 5K that morning with the Girls on the Run girls she had been coaching.

As Cathy and I had nowhere else to be and my running was now done for the day, we waitited with Paul to cheer in Melissa’s mom, who signed up at the last minute to walk it.  She did great and actually beat her time goal.  WOOHOO!!  And then I won a door prize randomly…which ended up being Louisville Bats tickets and some chicken place gift cards (these are of no use for me, but I’ll take the baseball tickets).

The announcers started to do age group awards, so I wandered over that way, but they ended up pausing halfway through for the costume contest awards.  I wandered back over the shade of the tree where everyone was huddled and just talked a little bit and laughed a lot.  And when age group awards resumed, I missed the first ones, and I suddenly heard my age group announced with me as coming in first.

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First place age group award at Throo The Zoo 5K

WOOHOO!  I hurried that way to go claim my certificate.  I definitely wasn’t expecting that result as I ran this race faster last year and came in 2nd in my age group.  And I haven’t felt very fast as of late.  So…after running 8 miles prior to the race itself…this was a pleasant surprise indeed.

Afterwards, Cathy and I left to make the walk back to the car and head to brunch.  We hit up North End Café for a Basic Breakfast and some chill time.  Later that afternoon, we were headed out to a wine tasting with our friend Michelle, so this was fuel to get us through to that.  And I made sure to get some protein for some much needed recovery as well.

And the winery…that was a whole lot of fun!

So, the official results of the Throo The Zoo 5K is that I finished the race in 22:58…with the course being short AGAIN this year.  I hope that gets fixed in the future.  I slowed down each mile and Gorilla Hill was a struggle, but I’ll take this time with over an hour of running ahead of the race itself.  I was 54/2589 finishers overall. I was the 6/1685 female finishers. And I was 1/239 people in my age division! Maybe my endurance is coming back.  I hope to get heat adapted sooner rather than later so I can endure a bit more, but I’m pretty proud of this result when all is said and done.

 

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Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon – Louisville, KY (April 28, 2018)

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Me heading into the finish line for the KDF miniMarathon – Louisville, Kentucky

Race: Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: April 28, 2018

Time: 2:05:03

Three weeks ago (and I hope to put up a blog about this, but time has been short and I haven’t had much time to get online while home (and I’m not home much these days) so it hasn’t happened yet), I was out on a training run.  Nothing big.  It was supposed to rain and storm that morning, so I got up early and headed out in the dark to get in whatever I could, if not the entire run, before the weather moved in.  I didn’t go too far from my apartment, again, just in case the weather rolled in, but I was running on a bit of the sidewalk that I normally didn’t run.  It’s near a cemetery, which is fine, but the sidewalk can sometimes be a path of treachery.  That morning…it was.  It was Mile 3.4 of my run and…

I fell.

I fell hard.

It was one of those moments that seem to happen in slow motion…but it probably played out hilariously fast and painfully.  But it was early.  No cars were on the road at that point and no one was hanging out at the cemetery gates or at the apartments across the street.  My ankle twisted on…something.  I don’t even know what…if it was a rock, a branch, the side of the sidewalk.  I felt my ankle twist…I tried to compensate…but down I went…while heading down a hill.

Gravity…is a bitch.

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I shook it off.  Actually, I didn’t even pause my Garmin.  I think it automatically paused.  At that point, I could have cared less.  I was a few weeks out from the half marathon I wanted to race (KDF was my warmup) so I needed to make sure I wasn’t broken.  I popped up…looked at my feet (thanks headlamp), looked at my hands and arms…I was bloodied…but when I did this jog in place thing, nothing on my foot or ankle bothered me…so I kept going.  And I finished the run, noting the scrapes on my knees, the road rash on my leg, and the gash on my hand from playing Slip-N-Slide with the sidewalk.

I took a shower…and went out for brunch (gluten free pancake FTW) that morning at North End Cafe and…after sitting, really started to feel my foot getting sore.  But…I pressed on.  Until I could no longer press on.  Sitting for long periods of time or stopping my forward momentum became painful.  At one point, I bought a bag of frozen edamame from Whole Foods (I already had frozen peas in my fridge, so I didn’t need more!) to put on my foot/ankle while Cathy (the roomie) finished up grocery shopping.  By the time we got home, I was in tears and putting any weight on my foot was excruciating.  Ice happened in 20 minute spurts the rest of the evening.  I also had to bow out of the Louisville City soccer match that night because there was no way I was getting down the stairs at the apartment, let alone the stadium.

I told the roomie to go.  And she almost did.  But, in the end, she stayed with me.  And ate popcorn and watched movies.  For those who are curious…we watched Apollo 13 and then Coco (the new Pixar movie)!

All that being said, I woke up on Sunday and was able to walk.  YAY!!  I took through Wednesday off from running completely.  I realized just as I was heading out that I was supposed to run Thursday, but it was early and I was suited up and it was a 30 minute run.  And it all went well.  Until my other foot started bothering me.  I took more time off and called my podiatrist.

I was trying to make a long story short…so let me wrap this up.  On the Thursday before the Kentucky Derby miniMarathon (it ran that Saturday) my podiatrist took X-rays of my feet and saw no fractures (but I have an extra bone in each foot!)…but I had some swelling in a muscle on the side of my foot I twisted…and my left foot (the one that now bothered me) had some stress reactions in the 2nd and 5th metatarsals.  So…he taped me and told me to have some fun.

Good thing I wasn’t all-out racing this one.

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My night before the race meal – Vegan Sushi from Dragon King’s Daughter – the Green Acres & Spicy Tofu Rolls

That Friday, I did a short test run and, while a little sore, found everything manageable…and my friend Leah was aiming for a 2 hour marathon, which would keep my pace in check, I figured I had a game plan and one that wouldn’t destroy me.  That night, my roomie and I met up with our local BFFs…Melissa & Paul Nolan…for dinner.  Our fuel of choice…Dragon King’s Daughter.  I’ve been finding that the rice, avocado, tamari combination has been working well for my body…so my dinner was two Vegan Sushi Rolls…the Spicy Tofu and the Green Acres.

They came back to the apartment so that Cathy could tape up Melissa (who had been dealing with an achy Achilles since the blast of cold at the New York City Half Marathon).  They left after that to check out the Balloon Glow and I got busy baking Lemon Blossoms for the finish line and to stretch and foam roll.

I made a point to get to bed at a decent time and got up with enough time to do my stretching routine, eat breakfast, wake up the roommate (because she turned off her alarm and her door remained closed), get her coffee, get into my race clothes (I have some new black running shoes, so I thought I would emulate Des Linden at Boston and wear all black…NEVER AGAIN!), put my hair up, got my number pinned on, and waited for Melissa & Paul to come pick us up.  She had VIP parking and we had nowhere to be until that evening (Louisville City soccer…and they were coming with us anyway), so it worked out.

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Leah, Jay and I – the nuun Ambassadors at KDF Marathon/miniMarathon

We got down to Slugger Field to park, with the aid of Melissa’s barrier pass and VIP parking pass.  YAY!!  We got parked and I headed toward the statue outside Slugger Field to meet up with my running coach, Linda (who was running this race ONLY because she wanted to keep my pace slower than I would run it on my own) and Leah, who we were hoping to pace to a half marathon PR at the 2 hour mark (her current PR is 2:15).

There were a lot of photo ops happening…and I thought I missed the nuun Ambassador one, but Leah is one of the ambassadors and the other one, Jay, happened by, so we went ahead and snapped a photo.  YAY!!  Linda wanted to get into the corrals, so I missed the KDF Ambassador Alumni photo…but…it’s okay.

We worked our way into the corrals, where Linda got us positioned about the back of Corral B.  She thought we were up in A…but she was wrong (and I was right, HA!).  We stayed there though…but we realize in hindsight we should have probably dropped back further for Leah’s sake.

The National Anthem was beautifully sung and they prepped the wheelchair race to go off with a cannon.  That misfired.  So we got a “Ready? GO!” situation there.

Oh my my!

The elites were to be sent off next.  With a cannon blast.  Which also misfired.  So…no boom…but the “GO” shout-out happened.  So exciting.

And then…it was time for the rest of us.  AND…the cannon still misfired so no big boom for us either.  And…we made our way to the starting line…the three of us together…and we were off.

Too fast, honestly, to start.  Both Linda and I noticed immediately that Leah’s breathing was too hard and fast so we reigned it in after the first mile.  We attempted to do that, but the crowd was carrying us along and while I felt we were slowing down, the reality of the Gamin shows that we weren’t…but we weren’t too far ahead of the pace.  But heading into Mile 4, Leah started walk breaks.  This was fine, we now had an unintentional bank to work with.  When she was ready, we started up again.  She looked defeated…but we did our best to lift her spirits…and when she needed to walk again, she said her stomach was starting to act up.  YIKES!

In fact, somewhere near Mile 7-ish, we found some port-a-potties just beyond the water stop so she could make a stop.  Linda and I ducked off to the side to wait, and this was where we met up with Tonya, another of my friends who was an ambassador least year.  She said she was having tummy troubles as well and this was her third stop.  I’ll discover that this was a common theme among people that day.  Maybe it was the change from winter to mid-50s weather.  Who knows?  I felt good though…and when Leah emerged, we started to run again.

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Me, Leah, and Linda in front of Churchill Downs during the KDF miniMarathon – Louisville, Kentucky

And then Linda and I lost her as we neared my favorite part of the race: Churchill Downs.  We hopped up on a curb and finally found her again, making the dash to take a photo in front of the famous horse track.

This is my absolute favorite part of the race.  Every time I have run it.  And, true to form, I did yell, “RUN LIKE PRETTY PONIES!” as we were entering it.  The run down the hill through the tunnel and up into the infield was easy-peasy for me.  And I don’t like hills.  I got to the top with Linda and we realized we had lost our third again.  We pulled off to the side…no horses out training yet…and waited a moment.  She got to us…but she was walking.  I knew that the race photographer was around the corner, and I really wanted some good photos this year inside Churchill Downs…so we got her running again through there.  My photos, for the record, were crap again.  MEH!  I just am not a pretty runner.

We were heading out of Churchill Downs after walking and I spotted the next downhill out through the tunnel and back up toward the road.  I said, “Linda, it’s a downhill.  I HAVE to run the downhill.”  She told me to go on and I got to the top, stepped off to the side, had Linda catch me and we waited for Leah.  We could tell Leah was upset and frustrated, and while we helped get her to the split…where she was looking for another stop, Linda asked her what she wanted us to do.

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Me heading toward the finish line of the KDF miniMarathon (I passed the chick in pink at the end, LOL!)

And with that…we were off.  Linda and I picked up the pace.  Linda had originally wanted me to negative split this race (as I am horrible at finishing fast).  So, we picked it up and ran a bit faster through Mile 10…then I held it steady through Mile 12.  She told me to go on as she was going to slow herself down (she has the Flying Pig Full Marathon this weekend).  And I made every attempt I could to pick it up and just FLY to that finish line.  The 2 hour mark had just passed and I started weaving through the crowd, heading downtown via S 2nd Street before making the turn onto Main Street and heading the few blocks down it before the final turn and the finish line.  I held on strong, just plugging away as much as I could.  It’s hard for me to run slow and kick it in the end.  My legs and body just don’t like to pick it up.  So, this was a mental and physical struggle…but I was, honestly, ready to be done and off the course.  I was also getting hungry because I was out there longer than I normally am.  Is that weird?

I kicked it as much as I physically could make myself kick at that point.  The song “Danger Zone” from Top Gun was playing, so that was motivational at least.  And I crossed the finish line, happy that it was over.  Linda apparently decided she didn’t want to slow down because she kicked it into high gear and was just behind me.  I don’t know how she does it.  She immediately said, “That was stupid.”  LOL!!  We went to get our medals and suddenly, Cathy was at our side!!  Holy Moses.  She somehow got into the finisher’s chute and walked with us around to get our water, our treats, and into the runner recovery area.  Here we met up with some friends of Linda’s and then Linda went to get stuff from her car and try to catch one of her clients doing her first full marathon on the course.  I went to Melissa and Paul’s car to change while Cathy went to get coffee.  I needed coffee…trust me.

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Me (I’m stylin’!), Britni, Melissa & Paul after finishing the KDF Marathon/miniMarathon!

After that, we went to meet up with Melissa and Paul, who were finished and waiting for us in the Chicken Garden near Waterfront Park.  We ended up taking the long way around, but we got to them, and I immediately doled out Lemon Blossoms from my stash.  I also delivered a container of them to the Moms Run This Town/She Runs This Town booth in the finisher’s area.  WOOT!  Mission: Accomplished.  Melissa and Paul knew people who were out on the full course and waited to see them in.  We, actually, ended up staying for the entire race…and didn’t leave until the last runner crossed.

Their friend, Britni, had almost an hour PR for her marathon time…which is amazing considering she almost died in a car accident the weekend before when driving home from Disney World (she did the Dark Side Challenge).  And their other friend came in…and between all of us, we demolished the remainder of the Lemon Blossoms.  Paul and Michelle Bolton found us too, and since Michelle is also a gluten-free runner…I passed on a few to her (as promised).

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This photo makes my legs look so long! HA!  Always finish…and finish strong!

After sitting around and letting everyone relax…we decided it was time to head out and head home (because showers needed to happen for sure).  We walked Britni to her car and she gifted Melissa and I with our BB-8 figures she picked up at Disney.  I still owe Melissa money for that, now that I think of it.  HA!  And then we made the walk back to Slugger Field’s parking lot, stopping to take a few photos with the finish line, while it was still up.  After that, we needed to make our way back to Southern Indiana.  We got back to the Nolan’s house and we transferred everything to our car, told them we’d see them around 4:30 to grab Indian food before heading to the soccer match that night.

So, the official results of the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon are that I finished in 2:05:03 (my slowest KDF miniMarathon and one of my slower half marathons).  I was 2517/8268 finishers overall. I was 965/4792 female finishers. And I was 195/748 finishers in my division. There was definitely no negative splits this time around.  In fact…my first half of the race average a 9:13/mile and my last half was a 9:32/mile.  Ah well…you win some; you lose some.  It was definitely not the race I wanted or intended to run, nor did I hit any of the goals I had set out for this race, except not to blow myself up actually racing it.  It does suck though…as this is the first year I won’t get a Top 100 Female Finisher award.  Dang it.

And if that wasn’t enough excitement…the Indian food was amazing and something the four of us had all been craving…and Louisville City FC got the WIN that night.  So…yeah…in the end…it was all good.

As for the foot/ankle situation…they can be little twingy at times, but seem to be on the mend.  I also am still allergic to the tape adhesive, so I’ve had to remove it for the next few days and will tape it up again for the weekend.  All-in-all…I’m on the mend and looking forward to my next race.

Maybe this time I can fly.

It all depends on these feet…the weather…and just, overall, needing those perfect conditions for the magic to happen.  It will.  Whether it’s the next race or another one. If anything the past few years has taught me…and this whole running slower thing as well…is patience.

OH!!  I also learned that people look for me at races wearing bright colors or a super hero costume, so none of my friends who were out cheering saw me that day.  And those in the race thought they saw me and then said, “But that person was in all black so it couldn’t have been you.”  Guess what.  It was.  Go figure.  I was trying to get my Desi Linden on and instead I got my race ninja on.  Even Cathy told me I wasn’t ever allowed to wear all black to a race because I wasn’t easy to spot coming into the finish line.  Live and learn, friends.

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Cathy and her three runners – Me, Melissa & Paul, displaying our bling at the Louisville City FC soccer match that night.

 

A Wild & Wonderful Weekend

In the midst of everyday stresses and stressors, it’s always nice to have a little break from the things that are just…making you feel so BLAH about life and what you are doing with your life.

For me, this week, it was having my beautiful sister, Karla, drive up from Birmingham, Alabama, with her eldest son, my nephew, Landon.  I didn’t know how much I needed her and the distraction of having her and Landon here to really just allow me to relax, smile, and be me again!

Family, especially my sister, is, apparently, the cure to what ails, troubles, and bothers you.  I’ve been having…a not so amazing time these past few weeks…and, unfortunately, it’s something I am not really allowed to discuss.  Censorship sucks, yes?  YES!  But…just trust me…the type of personality I have and the person I am…it’s been bothering me on a fundamental level, which, has added a lot of added stress to my already chaotic life.

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Suckage.

But this weekend…was amazing.  I love spending time with my sister…and it doesn’t happen often enough.  So, her texts and calls that ask what I’m doing on certain weekends means…she’s coming to visit.  And I LOVE when she comes to visit.  She and I are best friends and sisters and just…have always been close.  So, me living this far away for 11 years (YES…11 years as of Friday)…has not been easy on either of us.  But here is some of the mischief that we got into this weekend, helping me to not even think about the bad and sucky things that have made a certain portion of a time of my day…a thing I have resented and even loathed at times over the past couple of weeks.

Here’s to sisters…and nephews…and family…and general FUN!  They make the world right again.

1.  Fish in the Water

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One thing Karla and I had discussed for Landon to do while here was to go to the new water park in New Albany.  Unfortunately, Friday left us with thunderstorm warnings and the threat of pop-up storms.  So, at around 3:30…when she arrived and we left the office…the lifeguards were being sent home and the park was closing.  So, Plan B…go to the YMCA and let him swim.  He was swim tested and given permission to go to the life guard chair in the lap pool and to go down the slide in the kids pool.  So, for a good portion of the afternoon…about an hour and change, that’s what he did.  Cathy, Karla, and I all sweltered to death in the humidity of the pool area of the YMCA while he played and cooled off in the pools.  It was worth it to see the smile on his face!

2.  SUSHI TIME!

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My sister commented a week or so ago about how delicious my vegetarian sushi looked when I Instagram-ed it and posted it to Facebook.  And then…I had a brilliant moment of brilliance.  My nephew, Landon, is a very, very, very picky eater.  BUT…he does love cheese things.  Cheese quesadillas, cheese sandwiches, mac & cheese….ALL THE CHEESE!  With the excitement over sushi on my post, I thought of the perfect place for us all to grab dinner, that even Landon couldn’t turn his nose up and refuse to order anything.  Dragon King’s Daughter to the rescue!  For those of you who are not local, Dragon King’s Daughter is an Asian-fusion restaurant with two locations…one in New Albany, Indiana, and one in Louisville, Kentucky.  The menu includes traditional fare from the Far East, as well as contemporary fare with a unique twist.  They offer classics of Japanese dining such as lemongrass miso, vegetable, and sushi rolls, as well as a multitude of new creations including a mixture of East and West forms and flavors.  On the kids menu…a cheese quesadilla…and for the adults…we all went sushi.  My sister and I figured we could get a roll each and split one…so I got the Vegetable Roll, she got the Buffaroll, and we split the Green Acres Roll.  Cathy went for the fishies…and got the Shrimp Tempura Roll and the Dragon King’s Daughter Roll.  And after that…a trip over to the Comfy Cow for an ice cream dessert.  What a great first few hours.

3.  Playtime at the County Fair

It just so happens that the Floyd County Fair happens across the street from where I life.  Convenient, yes?  After dinner and dessert, we came home and walked over to the fairgrounds to scope out some rides and the barns with Landon.  He went on three rides (he had 4 tickets, but he wanted his mom to ride with him on one he wasn’t sure about).  He loved going to see the animals.  And one of the highlights for me was seeing my sister crack up every time the goats bleating.  Her laugh is so contagious.  We all shared lemon shakeups and just walked around.  After that…it was time for showers and then we were all down on the couch to watch Zootopia and then…they took over my room and went to bed and I crashed out on the couch so I could get up early and head out for my 12 mile run and get it done before too much of the morning was passed.

4.  It Runs in the Family

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One of the best things we decided to do, was to go for a short run together.  After my 12 miler, I got home and Karla and Landon put on their running clothes.  We hiked up to Sam Peden Park and ran a loop.  It was hard for Karla, as she hasn’t run in a long while…and she’s not used to the crappy air quality of the Ohio River Valley, but she was a trooper and pressed on.  I ran right there with her to encourage her…and Landon…he was busy chasing down the Army men who were running there.  He beat quite a few.  It was awesome.  Landon has amazing speed and gorgeous running form.  He’s a natural and I love watching him run.  Needless to say, it was a great way to start the day as a family.

5.  Wild Eggs

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Breakfast was the next most important stop on Saturday.  We stopped off at Highland Coffee for some coffee first…and then took the drive over to Westport Road to go to Wild Eggs.  Landon already knew he wanted pancakes and BACON.  He made sure to tell me that if I got an omlette, he wanted my BLUEBERRY muffin.  Since I can’t eat the muffin, I was totally cool with this.  It had been forever since I went to Wild Eggs for breakfast…but it was a nice return.  They even have gluten-free bread and a gluten-free menu now.  LOVE that.  Yes…it even includes gluten-free pancakes, French toast and the like.  That was exciting.  But after 13 miles of running and a hike to and from the park…I wanted some protein.  So I ordered the Surfer Girl Omlette (fresh spinach, wild mushrooms, tomato, cream cheese and onion and topped with diced fresh avocado, pico de gallo, sour cream and fresh alfalfa sprouts. Served with skillet potatoes).  I got mine without the cream cheese and sour cream.  My sister got the same thing, just without the mushrooms (she hates mushrooms).  And Cathy got the Kalamity Katie’s Border Benedict (green chili cheddar corn cakes,topped with chorizo, two poached eggs and queso fundido, pico de gallo, sour cream, green onions and avocado. Served with skillet potatoes and an Everything Muffin).  And, yes, I got a blueberry muffin for Landon.  He was pretty full after eating the two pancakes that were as big as his face and the bacon he ordered…but he took a few bites.  The rest…came home with us and then went home with them today.

6.  Pierced Ears

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Okay, here is something that I didn’t expect to happen this weekend.  My sister and I got to talking about earrings…and she brought up how her daughter (she’s 16 months) had her earrings work out perfectly…and how my mom (whose holes closed because she stopped wearing earrings) had just gotten her ears pierced a few weeks ago.  I said that I keep saying I need to get it done but just haven’t pulled the trigger.  I think a part of me thinks it will fail again.  As a kid, I gave the pierced ears a try about 5 times, but always and an allergic reaction to them.  My sister was the same way, but it worked for her as an adult.  So, she told Cathy to pull into somewhere that could pierce my ears.  We did.  And now I sit here with beautiful 4mm white gold studs in my ears.  Karla taught me how to clean and turn the earrings every day (3 times a day)…and the rest is history.  So here is hoping that they work out this time around…because I have wanted to have pierced ears for a long, long time.  Leave it to my sister to get me to do something like this on a short weekend visit.  HA!

A shopping trip to a few of our favorite stores followed up that little adventure.

7.  Putt-Putt

Because you can’t just spend the day shopping when you have a 9-year-old boy with you, we took Landon to the Renaissance Fun Park.  We had discussed Go Karts…but opted, instead, for putt-putt.  It had been ages since my sister and I went putt-putting.  It was a lot of fun.  The easy holes on the course they put together there are actually quite challenging.  But we had a blast.  Afterwards, Landon and I took on some air hockey…which he won…and then he played a few more games after that…until the money on his card ran out.  It was worth every moment to see him out there laughing and being a competitive little boy.


8
.  SOCCER!!!

One of the main reasons my sister aimed for this weekend was that the local professional soccer team, Louisville City FC, was playing on Saturday night.  And, since Landon is a HUGE soccer fan, and soccer player himself, we thought it would be fun to take him to a match.  I said I wanted to get him a replica jersey for him to wear during the match and she picked him up a hat and then got a t-shirt for Chace.  I made sure Karla wore the logo t-shirt I owned to the match as well.  They got some pizza for dinner and we settled into our seats at midfield to enjoy.  I have never seen Landon so into an event as that soccer game.  Seriously, he was shouting at the players and the refs…and it was just magical and fun and amazing.  I bought him ice cream at half time because…it’s my job as Auntie…to spoil him and get him hyped up on sugar.  HAHA!  In the end, after a horrible call by a ref, we ended in a draw of 1-1…and Landon had hoped that some of the players would come over to the midfield (they usually do) so he could get pictures and some autographs, but they all returned to the locker room without coming over.  He was bummed, but he still had a fantastic time, and I loved seeing him light up the way he did when Louisville City scored the first goal of the match!

9.  Home-Cooked Breakfast

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I gave my sister and Landon the option of grabbing breakfast out at a restaurant before they hit the road…or having me cook breakfast for them.  Landon really wanted waffles (with powdered sugar, which he now LOVES thanks to Wild Eggs putting it on his pancakes), scrambled eggs…and bacon.  So, my sister and I hit the grocery store for bacon (this vegetarian does not have bacon on hand), eggs, and a gluten-free waffle/pancake mix.  And then, this morning, I got to cooking.  I started the waffles first, knowing that would take the most time.  He wanted the Mickey Mouse shaped waffles…so I made that happen for him.  And, because we adults weren’t too sure we wanted waffles, we had gluten-free avocado toast with our eggs.  I started cooking the bacon before Karla emerged from the bedroom, but she took over that so I could focus on toasting the bread, doing the waffles, and scrambling the eggs.  It all finished up at the right time…everything done when it should be.  Breakfast was served.  And I didn’t take a picture of it, but Karla and I cook epic breakfasts together.  And Cathy now has lots of bacon in the fridge for this coming week.  Which makes her happy.

After that…they had to hit the road and get home…

It was hard to let them go, but I know Karla’s husband and other two kids were missing her and Landon like crazy.  I just was having such a good time and all the time together went by way too fast.

They got home late this afternoon…and she said that they missed me as well.

I hope we do it again soon.

Sisters really do make everything better!

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The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, KY (March 17, 2016)

Me at the start of The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, Kentucky

Me at the start of The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, Kentucky

Race: The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K

Place: Frankfort, Kentucky

Date: March 17, 2016

Time: 13:09

It took too damn long to get back to Frankfort, Kentucky for an actual race.  It took way too long.  But…yesterday…despite my own skepticism about being able to do this race and do it well enough to make myself not feel totally out of shape and defeated…I ventured out to Frankfort for what used to be the first race of the Frankfort Trifecta.

The Frankfort Trifecta is no longer a thing.  It seems that the Frankfort Striders stepped in and created a HUGE race series that has something like 17 or so races…and I love Frankfort, but there is no way I can do all of that.  So, I’m sticking to my Trifecta races (all three are still running…just not as an overall series…which is nice because it takes a lot of pressure off of me…having placed the 2 years I competed in all three races) and just hoping for the best at this point.

All that being said, the madness began last night.  I was scheduled for 4 miles that day, so I ran 2.25 of them that morning, saving the remaining 1.8 and change for the race.  I kept the miles easy so I would have some gas in the tank at the end of the day.  BUT…it was also a gym morning so off I went, keeping my usual routine much lighter and easier.  Same reasoning.  And then…work.  I stood for half of the day at my standing desk because, starting on Wednesday after work, my left hamstring had been sore and tight…and I figured that it had a lot to do with how much and long I sat on Wednesday.  Trying to counter that, I did more standing than I normally would have on a sprint effort run day.

Oh…that’s the other thing…I…AM…NOT…A…SPRINTER.  I never have been.  I never will be.  I have short legs that can move, but they need time to warm up and find their strides.  5Ks and shorter races are the bane of my racing existence, and yet, I know the importance of doing them…and so I do.

But, I digress.

Where was I?  Oh yes…leg stuff.  My hamstring was still a bit unhappy when I ducked into the bathroom at work to get dressed for the race.  Cathy and I ducked out early to hit the road.  Dinner had to be on-the-go…so it was vegetarian sushi.  Figured it wouldn’t be too heavy before a race, but it wouldn’t have me feeling hungry just before doing it either.  So…yay for that.  We actually hit a few pockets of slow-ass traffic, which hindered our progress to Frankfort, but we got there.  I had to make my mandatory stop at Kroger to use the facilities (if I can avoid port-o-potties, I do…because…PRINCESS!), and then continued into Frankfort to get to the race.  We parked…noticed that the start line wasn’t set up where it usually was…but it was, instead, on the other side of the square.  Interesting.  So, I hiked that way…and realized that packet pickup was not in the building it normally was held in.  Now…with only 10 minutes to race time…I was starting to stress out.  IT WAS ALL DIFFERENT!

And then I found…my dear friend Linda.  She just suddenly was there…a sea of people having parted ways…her back to me…standing on the corner.  I went up behind her and tapped her on the shoulder.  She didn’t know I was coming and gave me the biggest smile and hug.  That helped.

A LOT.

I asked where packet pickup was now and she pointed to a table…then just went over there with me and got my race shirt, bag, and bib.  I handed everything off to Cathy, who began to pin me up while Linda and I talked for a moment.  But, you see, Linda knows EVERYONE!!  So, I got introduced to a bunch of people and got the very fair warning to not run over any kids during the race.  This is important, because this is THAT race where all the kids want to start up front and…well…some of them actually do belong up there, for sure.  Some…maybe not so much, but you gotta love the enthusiasm.  I promised her I would be very vigilant of the little humans.  I wasn’t familiar with the course being run this way, but Linda quickly gave me an overview before everyone started to line up.  There was a prayer and an Irish blessing (it DOES run on St. Patrick’s Day after all) and then we all moved forward and awaited the airhorn that would send us on our way.

It blew.

We took off.

Me after finishing The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, Kentucky

Me after finishing The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, Kentucky

My legs felt tired and heavy from the start.  The hamstring, much like in the morning, didn’t bother me while moving though, so that was good.  My hip wasn’t aching…but, I raced hard on Tuesday…did 4 miles on Wednesday, and was now racing hard(ish) again on Thursday.  Talk about giving these legs a bit of a workout this week.  And all of this ahead of another big adventure this weekend.  So…while I made a few surge attempts, the legs were sort of reluctant to get moving…even when I willed them to go a bit faster.

We turned a corner…turned again, stepping over a big hole, and took off up a hill…leading to the main drag that would take us up another (steeper) hill and then across a bridge and toward the state Capitol building.  Close to the turn around point, we hit Mile 1.  I didn’t look at my watch, I just kept going.  I rounded the turn to now run on the other side of the road and headed back the way we came…down the long stretch…up to the bridge…then D-O-W-N to the main drag.  At this point, you know you’re getting there.  You’re almost done.  It was basically straight on to the finish line.

I was slowing down, but I wasn’t having it.  Linda was just slightly ahead of me…and then another woman…and me.  I did all I could, minding my form, my hip, and my leg…to try to catch up, but it wasn’t having it.  Once again, I lack that finisher’s kick that other people have.  I even had people just up and sprint by me…as always.  Frustrating when your mind is willing, but your body just isn’t capable.  Between that and the strong wind that was blowing right into our faces…well…yeah.  It was one of those finishes.

But…I crossed…and it was awesome.  I felt good.  I felt…incredible.

Cathy came over, waving the race sign, and said, “Shit, Twin…you placed!”

All that being said…I grabbed some water and ducked into an alley to do my plyometric exercises and stretches that I’m supposed to do after a run.  See, I can behave.  Well, I did half of them and got bored, to be honest, so I can semi-behave.  We ducked back into the melee and I put my Boston Marathon windbreaker back on…because with the sun going down it was getting chilly.

Rebecca, Linda, and Me...all 1st place finishers in our age divisions at The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, Kentucky

Rebecca, Linda, and Me…all 1st place finishers in our age divisions at The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, Kentucky

Cathy was right…I ended up taking first in my age division…and…get this…TYING MY TIME from 2014, when I ran this race last.  I wasn’t expecting that.  I was very, very happy with that performance, considering I was really struggling after that first mile.  My Garmin said my first mile was in 7:01…so…I haven’t run that fast in…a very long time.  VERY long.  And when I do, I can’t sustain it.  So, YES!!  Happy.  SO freakin’ happy because this injury has had me struggling to do this running thing for over a year.  I’ll take a time of 13:09 and celebrate it!!  Embrace it!!

The awards ceremony followed…the only hitch being that someone was being shown as winning female overall that wasn’t the actual female overall winner.  So, they had to pause for a moment and go get it figured out.  I had been chatting with Debbie Brown about my physical therapy and amazing physical therapist when this began and she went to go get it all straightened out.  Because she’s Debbie.  And she’s awesome.

So, once that was straightened out…the awards commenced.  Overall winner was awarded to the correct, and super-fast, Roberta Meyer.  For the overall male winner…it was Aaron Schaffner.  It usually is.  LOL!!  He’s STUPID-FAST!!  As in…blink and you might miss him.  He was also in a Boston Marathon jacket…but I bet he ran his better than I ran mine.  HA!

The rest of the awards for female runners was next…and I took first in the 35-39 age division with my time of 13:09.  My overall pace was 7:04 for the entire 3K distance…so…that’s sort of impressive…for me…at this point in my running.  It was pointed out by the announcer that I was also wearing a Boston Marathon jacket.  Then he said, “Or is that New York.” Cathy said, “She has one of those too.”  LOL!

True story.

Anyway…I stayed and cheered for the other winners, took a picture with Rebecca Atkins (1st female 40-44) and Linda [Word] (1st female 45-49).  And then gave hugs and made my departure.  I might have flailed happily as I was walking away, because this was such a huge boost to my confidence…even though my legs and brain aren’t quite working in tandem yet.  They’ll get there.

I’ll get there.

Me with my age division award at the The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, Kentucky

Me with my age division award at the The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, Kentucky

So, the official results of The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K are that I finished in 13:09.  I was 35/701 finishers overall.  I was 9/466 female finishers.  And I was 1/62 finishers in my division.  I take nothing for granted anymore.  Every run I am able to accomplish without pain or with minimal pain is a blessing.  Getting through this week of harder runs, and really pushing and challenging myself has not only terrified me, but empowered me.  I said it 2 years ago…and I’m going to say it again…Running is a gift, and I’m thankful I can do it again…even if it means slowing down for a little while to allow myself ample time to heal.

I’m looking forward (or so I am telling myself) to including a bit of speed work in my upcoming training…as well as continuing to focus on my hill repeats (because Frankfort hills are just…relentless!)…and, maybe I can finally figure out how to get that finishing kick.  Until then…relentless forward motion…

“Don’t fear moving slowly forward…fear standing still.”     ~ Kathleen Harris

Things happen in threes…

Don’t worry, this isn’t a post about something else going wrong with me.  Quite the opposite.  This is a post about how I am  finally feeling like myself again.  I am regaining confidence.  I’m working hard to regain any lost momentum and strength and fitness that I have lost over the past year of being unable to run.

This week started off with me still dealing with the aches and pains in my left quad (aka: the leg that doesn’t have the torn hip labrum) which just got me all worked up all over again.  I contacted Katie (my physical therapist) on Tuesday prior to running some hill repeats to get her thoughts on it.  I didn’t hear back from her before I went running, but she managed to work me in on Thursday afternoon to take a look at the quad.  We discussed cutting back on my mileage…just in case.

That being said, as I mentioned in a previous blog…it seems to just be a muscle strain, and it doesn’t bother me while I’m running.  Sometimes when I am warming up…and cooling down…but not during the actual act of running.  I purchased a (pink) lacrosse ball this weekend to help give some trigger point therapy to the spot and so far so good.

Despite all of that, I had a horrible treadmill run on Wednesday…rain.  LOTS of rain.  So, after that, I made it a point to get outside on Thursday for my 4 miles that morning.  It wasn’t easy…but it was SO much better than the treadmill.  And I don’t hurt like I do after running on a treadmill…so there is some helpful insight.

And so…with a bit of stress at work…a couple of good and bad running days…and lots of good food (that I cooked)…it was a pretty good week.  And with that being said…here are three things I’m loving this week:

1. Running With the Gang

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Me and Matthew after Tuesday Hill Repeats at Iroquois Park

So, there is this amazing group of fantastic runners that I used to go out and pound out some miles with…every Saturday.  They were my training group.  They pushed me, they made me better, they accepted me.  I trained with them through cold winters and hot summers.  They helped me through injuries and helped me with each comeback.  Well, with a year of being mostly unable to run, I wasn’t up to running with them.  My speed is lacking and I just don’t feel fit enough to keep up.  BUT…that being said, on Tuesday, I ran 6 miles of hill repeats with Matthew (who trained hard with me the summer I was working toward my first marathon)…and on Saturday, I ran 10 amazing miles with most of the group.  It felt awesome to be out there again, clicking off the miles.  At one point, we even joined up with the Anthem 5K, relatively close to the leaders of the race.  And as we ran through Mile 2 with them, we all commented on how this is what it felt like to be up front.  We left the course shortly after that to round off the mileage.  I can’t even begin to describe how good it felt to be out there with all of them again.  I had really missed it and them.  And Matthew has told me a few times that he and everyone else are so happy that I am back.  Over 10 very strong miles later…I feel like my comeback is officially a comeback.  Add on the 2 fantastic miles I added in this afternoon (it was SO windy, but it was too pretty not to go out and run…so I kept it short and easy)…and my confidence might slowly be building too.  I owe a lot of that to all the people who have continued to tell me to be careful, to do what is best for me, to not rush anything…and who have been waiting for me to come back to them. Arms open.  I’m back!


2. THIS BOOK!
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I am a bookworm.  And I love it when I’m walking through a bookstore or a library and a title or subject catches my eye.  That actually happened on Friday.  The book is Fit Not Healthy by Vanessa Alford, a true and personal account of the author’s downward spiral in an attempt to improve her performance in running, pushing her body harder and further, determined to be the best runner she can be.  Even though she was a physiotherapist, she soon becomes trapped in a spiral of extreme dieting and exercise in order to improve her performance and maintain her ‘fit and healthy’ look.  She ignored the growing concerns of friends and family, denying that there was anything unhealthy about her fitness training, until her body begins to rebel against her.  She was offered a commercial sponsorship and attracted the attentions of elite coaches, but striving to become faster and fitter, she fell into the trap of overexercising and calorie deprivation.  I have known and still know so many runners (and athletes) who do not fuel their body right…who take stupid risks with their helps because they are trying to fit into their idea of the “perfect” body, the “perfect” weight, the “perfect” athlete.  Denial is a demon that is hard to defeat.  This book has had me turning page after page.  The disordered thinking, eating, and exercising that Alford did is not only scary…but an eye opener.  My dearest friends…we are all beautiful works in progress.  DO NOT try to better yourself by taking risks with your body.  It will and does catch up to you!  Take care of your body…it’s the only place you have to live.

3. SHOPPING!!
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There really is something so therapeutic about shopping.  Retail therapy is real and it is life-changing.  This weekend, along with getting some upcoming birthday shopping done, my roommate and I both invested a little bit…in ourselves.  I purchased some reflective gear (capris and a matching top) for running, as well as a pair of Adidas Grete Shorts.  I usually am a running skirt girl, but I LOVE these shorts.  And I got them for $10 at the Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass.  I picked up shampoo bar and body wash from LUSH (LOVE LUSH!), and I picked up good eats at Annie May’s Sweet Café, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe, Rice, Cellar Door Chocolates, and of course, the food of my own making…including getting some batch cooking done for this week.  All my meals are prepped and ready.  And it didn’t take long at all.  NICE!  AND…I also have indulged in some delicious berries and peaches this weekend too.  LOVE my fruit for a snack.  And some of my favorites are close to being back in season!!

All-in-all…what a fantastic weekend.  And now…I’m working on some upcoming goals and plans…and feeling good.  I haven’t been able to say that in a long time.

How did you spend your weekend?  Do anything fun?  Eat anything delicious?  Read anything amazing?  Tell me all about it!

Product Review: Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice

Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice

Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice

Product: Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice – $4.69+

You know, it only seems appropriate that in the February Cuisine Cube (aka: Happy V-Day 2015), a package of Forbidden Black Rice was included.  Nothing compliments the month of L-O-V-E like something that starts with the word forbidden.  Sounds exotic and exciting and…tasty.  Tasty because, well, it’s followed by the word rice!

February is all about love.  And one thing that I love is receiving my Cuisine Cube each month.  I mean, nothing says love quite like a box full of exciting, new, and enticing foods that are new to me and you.  But that’s what Cuisine Cube is all about.  This small group of foodies are searching high and low for gluten free products that aren’t highly processed, that are made by the smaller businesses and companies…and then…they ship these to you…each month.  This subscription is one of the best things I have ever done.  I mean…5-6 items for a month (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, dessert…and sometimes an added bonus!)…that’s a fantastic deal.  Seriously, you’ll fall in love with this service as quickly as I did.  I certainly encourage you to give them a try.  With subscriptions starting as low as $29.99…how can you turn that down?

Now, Lotus Foods is not a company that I am unfamiliar with anymore.  A few Cuisine Cube boxes ago, I received two pouches of the Lotus Foods Rice Ramen…and I loved them.  The products produced by Lotus Foods are recognized for their exceptional cooking quality, taste, texture, and superb nutritional value.  The ancient and new rices that compose their products are grown on family farms in limited quantities, on healthy, chemical-free soils.  The rice and rice products that are produced by Lotus Foods are found in specialty gourmet, natural food markets, grocery stores, white tablecloth restaurants throughout the United States, becoming a fast favorite of consumers who are seeking healthier options, as well as chefs and foodies across the country.

How’s that for a recommendation, eh?  So, last time it was noodles…this time…

Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice.

Legend has it that heirloom forbidden rice was once eaten exclusively by the Emporors of China.  It is said to enrich health and ensuire longevity.  Forbidden rice is known for it’s beautiful, rich, deep purple color.  It has a soft texture and a slightly nutty taste.  This rice is high in a class of flavonoid antioxidants called anthocyanins, which is rich in iron and considered to be a blood tonifier.  A recent study also shows that a spoonful of black rice brown, or 10 spoonfuls of cooked black rice contains the same amount of antioxidants as a spoonful of fresh blueberries.  How’s that for a healthy powerhouse?  But, let’s not stop there…forbidden rice provides the richest nutritional value, providing higher levels of vitamins and minerals and fiber than any other bran rice, as well as a comprehensive range of amino acids, proteins, vegetable fats, and essential trace elements that are necessary for the body.  It is called “tribute rice” or “longevity rice” and was reserved for the Emperors of the Ming Dynasty to ensure their good health and long life.

Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice (cooked)

Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice (cooked)

This rice is super easy to prepare.  As I was being a bit nontraditional (shocker, I know) with mine, I ended up soaking my rice for about 30 minutes in water.  And then, I got to cooking it.  I turned on the stove and brought it up to a boil.  Once I had the rice rocking and rolling in the boiling water, I covered the pan and lowered the heat, letting the grain cook for 30 minutes.  When the rice was done, I removed it from the heat and let it sit another 10 minutes.

From there…I fluffed it with a fork and gave it a try.  Because, I had to taste it before it was messed with, yes?  Yes.  LOVE.  I would eat this rice however it was prepared.  On its own, even without any seasoning, it was honestly really good.  There is this great flavor to it.  Yes…the rich nuttiness that they mention above is there.  The rice is soft and just has this great flavor to it.  Don’t let the color dissuade you.  It’s amazing.

So, once I knew what it tasted like, I went and added a bit of sugar, some rice vinegar, and salt.  And BAMMO!  SUSHI RICE!  I let it sit while I was at work and then…tonight…dinner was vegetarian sushi!  Vegetarian sushi made with the Lotus Food Heirloom Forbidden Rice.  It was AMAZING!  The forbidden rice actually did great as the sushi rice.  It held together gorgeously and really made for a pretty sushi roll.  It wasn’t your standard white or brown rice roll. This gave it, not only a great flavor, but also a fantastic look on the plate.  It tasted amazing.  I have enough to do another two rolls as well, so this makes me super happy!

The Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice is simply made up of black rice.  It is gluten-free and wheat-free, non-GMO and vegan.  It is love.

As far as nutrition goes, the Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice is a powerhouse of nutrients and a great addition to your diet.  One serving is 1/3 cup dry rice.  This serving will give you 200 calories and 2 grams of fat.  A serving of this amazing rice will also give you 0 mg sodium, 175 mg potassium, and 1 gram of sugar.  This rice also gives you 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein.  Filling, tasty, and delicious.  What more could you want?

I was excited that I started seeing some of the Lotus Foods products in my local grocery store.  I haven’t spotted the actual rices like the Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice, but this was certainly a great introduction to this product.  And, I have Cuisine Cube to thank for it!

Vegetarian Sushi made with Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice

Vegetarian Sushi made with Lotus Foods Heirloom Forbidden Rice

 

Restaurant Review: Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse and Seafood, Charleston, South Carolina

Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse and Seafood, Charleston, South Carolina

Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse and Seafood, Charleston, South Carolina

Restaurant: Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse and Seafood, Charleston, South Carolina

This past weekend, I found myself enjoying my time in South Carolina.  Not just anywhere though…but the beautiful and historic city of Charleston.  I was going there to run in the Charleston Marathon…and then explore with Cathy (my roommate), and my friends Amanda (roomie’s sister) and Richie (Amanda’s hubby).  Now, I’ve never been to Charleston, South Carolina…but this is Amanda and Richie’s favorite place to spend their time.  So when they have time…this is their stomping grounds.  When they originally heard that I was running the Charleston Marathon, they were very helpful in suggesting things to do while in Charleston.  And shortly after leaving their home, Richie called and said they just booked a room at the resort and would be going with us.  I was elated.  Nothing like going somewhere with people who know the city.  I was so excited.

So, we arrived late on Friday night and had to do a bunch of pre-race stuff.  Saturday I ran the marathon.  Afterwards, I usually can’t stand to stomach anything for a little while.  My insides are just all messed up.  I mean, come on, running over 26.2 miles will do that to you.  So, I went back to the hotel, showered, and then Amanda came over.  We settled in as I gave some Greek yogurt a try (for the protein).  That stayed down…so I knew I could safely do something for lunch…as long as it was easy to digest and not too heavy.

We had mentioned sushi…and that sounded like something I could handle.  And, literally just across the street and up a block was the place we went for said sushi…Wasabi!

We stepped inside and were greeted by the hostess, who I think at the time was unwrapping a snack in the nearby closet.  She apologized and picked up three menus, carrying them over to a booth near a window that overlooked the street.  We settled into the table and began to peruse said menu.  I am BIG on vegetarian sushi.  Cathy…not liking much fish in sushi was also looking at vegetarian options.  Amanda…she was just trying to decide on what classic roll to get.  She’s the non-vegetarian traditionalist who isn’t afraid of some fish in her roll.  I asked how many rolls we were getting.  Amanda, the regular, said she usually got two.  So, I began making decisions based off of that.  But the more they talked, the more it sounded like everyone was getting one roll.  And Cathy seemed interested in the same one as me.  HA!  Knew that was going to happen.

Then, Amanda came up with a great suggestion…we could all get one roll each and then split the roll Cathy wanted to try three ways.  Amanda is brilliant like that, for real.  So, when our waiter returned and was prepared to take our order, we had an idea of what we wanted.

Amanda chose between the two she was eying and ended up ordering the California Roll ($5.00).  With the decision made to order an extra roll of the one I had my heart set on, Cathy went off the beaten path and ordered the Calamari Tempura Roll ($6.00).  As for me…I went with the Avocado Maki Roll ($5.00).  Then, we ordered a second Avocado Maki Roll to split between the three of us.  Order was in…now we just sort of sat at our booth and talked about the city and what Amanda had in store for us.

Pretty soon, our sushi rolls were arriving.  And we were more than happy to dig in.  There was nothing stand-out or noteworthy of this sushi just looking at it.  It was perfectly rolled nori, surrounding perfectly packed rice and our filling.  Cathy commented that her calamari was giving her the finger…so she set out to devour it before it could insult her further.  HA!  That’s what happens when your food has appendages and the like.  By the steady stream of “Mmmm”…we definitely enjoyed what we were having.

I must say…the 8 slices of the Avocado Maki Roll I had from Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse and Seafood were absolutely delicious.  A little creamy with the fullness of the rice and the texture of the nori.  Mmmm…seriously good.  I topped each of my slices of with some of the pickled ginger and a touch of the wasabi offered on the side of the plate.  It was sheer perfection in roll form.  Honestly…amazing.  I mean…nothing that any other good sushi place couldn’t do…but it had been forever since I had sushi…and this settled perfectly into my marathon stomach.  Lots of flavor and great texture.  The avocado was perfectly ripe.  It was a heavenly slice of sushi roll for sure.

I was so happy with this place.  Amanda had recommended it because it was gluten-free friendly.  And it left me wanting to go back for more.  I, sadly, didn’t have enough time this time around, but when I return…it will definitely be a stop.  If you’re visiting Charleston, South Carolina…and you love sushi…go and try Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse and Seafood!!  Simple food, but done really, really well!

Wasabi's Avocado Maki Roll

Wasabi’s Avocado Maki Roll