22 September, 2013

Running Milestone

Sometimes the sunrises are worth waking up
early and lacing up the sneakers 
Bless me, running gods, for I have slacked. It has been far too long since my last weekend run. After my new running shoes failed to magically make me run faster, and caused me blisters in a place I wasn't expecting, I fell into a state of apathy.  But this past week I had a few minor victories. 

My manager suckered me back into Walking League, and last Wednesday was my first time back.  They've started a separate path for running.  It's a one-mile course that goes around a few sports fields and I found myself running over hilly grass, gravel, and occasional sidewalk.  I only made three miles, but considering it had been about a month since the last time I even wore my running shoes, I put that experience in the 'win' column.  The duct tape on my heels (the shoes rub my Achilles tendons on both feet) gave out near the beginning of the second mile, so even though I had enough time to do another 1/2 mile I decided to stop.  When I got home that night, I brutally warped my shoes, repeatedly bending back the part that rubbed on my tendon.

Thursday morning, I had crazy-sore muscles in a brand new place: the outsides of my thighs, where they meet my hips.  I chalked this up to the uneven terrain from Wednesday.   After some stretching and ibuprofen, I was fine.  Then I spent all day Friday in the theme parks with family, and the left side got sore all over again.  The silver lining there was I wore my running shoes all day with no trouble.  Apparently the shoes have been beaten into submission!

This morning, I set the alarm for 6:15 and got up to run.  My goal was 5 or 6 miles.  For whatever reason, my pace was slow from the get-go, but as long as I was running the speed didn't matter.  The big loop around my neighborhood is 1.5 miles, and by the end of the first mile I had settled into my (slow) pace and didn't get winded, form blisters, or otherwise lose my motivation.  Right when I hit mile 5, I realized that my sore hip muscle had come back with a vengeance, and it was cramping up.  It felt like a Charlie horse in the WAY wrong place.  Since my initial goal was 5 or 6, I considered turning right and heading back toward the house.  But I turned left.  I actually committed myself to the last mile.

That's right, I voluntarily ran a mile in pain, albeit loping a little like someone whose legs were different lengths.  I walked funny to stretch the muscle, ran my intervals as scheduled (because running actually hurt less), and made it to my goal and then some: 6.05 miles.  My race pace should've been just about 1:30-1:36, and I came in right at 1:40.  That's a snail's pace, but I'm just glad I finished.  I no longer feel like the half marathon I've got 11 weeks from yesterday (and the other one I've got 12 weeks from today) is an insurmountable goal.

So...wondering about the title of the post?  Well, today is the first time I can really recall running through muscle pain.  Aside from my various foot ailments, my only other running injury to date was an occasionally sore knee.  And generally speaking, I chicken out when there's pain involved.  But I know what a sore muscle feels like and knew I wouldn't do any actual damage to myself if I kept going.  And I kept going.  And I'm still sore, but it's nothing I can't handle.

Today, the sunrise,the rainbow, and all the friendly neighborhood dogs weren't my only rewards.  Today I'm wearing my sore muscle like a badge of honor.  Tomorrow, however, I'd like to be pain-free.  Seems that would be a way better reward!

11 September, 2013

Three's Company...Four's a Crowd...Let's Have a Party!

Below is a snippet of a conversation this morning at work between me and a guy who also works in the building.

Him: what are you drinking these days? (he has some sort of booze hook-up and often brings in bottles to people at work)
Me: nothing really. I don't like to drink alone.

Me: well, I occasionally make Jell-O shots with vodka...
Him: we should go out for a drink some time.
Me: eh...I only really go out on Fridays to Applebee's.  Don and I befriended the bartender there, and he only works Fridays and Saturdays. So Fridays are sort of my designated day to have a social life.
Him: oh, well then I'll go there and buy you a drink.
Me: thank you?


There I was, picturing awkward drinks with my usual Friday "date" and another "date."  So I did what any rational person would(n't) do: decided to invite more people to join Jamie's Awkward Party (also known as Jamie's Inappropriate Men Party).  So far, I found one other guy to come along - a guy friend (married, so he definitely fits in the parameters for the second party name) who works in another department. He doesn't know the other players, and apparently thrives on awkward.  I joked about inviting Scott, but...well, that just seemed like a bad idea on many levels.  I really am planning on inviting some more people from work.  If I build up enough of a crowd, then it'll be much more of a party atmosphere and (hopefully) less awkward.

So...anyone free on Friday around 2:45?  First round of fried green beans are on me (or one of my dates...)!

08 September, 2013

Culinary Creation

I found this recipe for Cheesesteak Stuffed Bell Peppers on Pinterest, and immediately wanted to try it.  Though I don't think bell peppers have any place in civilized cheesesteaks, I love stuffed peppers and thought it sounded delicious.
For me though, something about this recipe was lacking.  The stuffed pepper recipe I have in my memory, courtesy of the mom of my college boyfriend Ryan, was pretty much just rice and ground beef and tomatoes.  I can't imagine a stuffed pepper without rice.  It just seems wrong.  So I made up my own hybrid recipe.  It was so good I thought I should write it down before I forget about it!
Cheesesteak-Stuffed Peppers
4 bell peppers*
1 small box Steak-Umms (6 steaks)**
1/2 yellow onion, diced
8 oz. baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 bag of boil-in-bag brown rice
1 small can of diced tomatoes
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1. Cut the tops off of the bell peppers, scooping out the seeds and ribs from inside.  Dice the onion and slice the mushrooms.
2. Bring about 6" of salted water in a stock pot to a boil.  Submerge the peppers in boiling water for 2 minutes each. Use the same pot of water to cook the rice according to package directions. 
3. Brown the "steaks" according to package directions, draining the steaks on paper towels as they come out of the pan.  Either shred the meat as it cooks, or chop it after removed from heat.  Use leftover pan drippings to brown the onions and mushrooms, cooking until soft and lightly caramelized.  Drain onions and mushrooms well.
4. Open the canned tomatoes, pouring the liquid from the can into the bottom of the baking dish.
5. Combine rice, tomatoes, steak, onions/mushrooms, and half the cheese in a bowl. This is the time to check your salt level and add more if needed.
6. Place the peppers, cut-side up (duh!) in your baking dish, stuff with filling mixture, top with remaining cheese.
7. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, or until cheese on top is browned and beautiful.
* I definitely had enough stuffing for one more pepper, but just cooked the leftovers in a small single-serve dish.  If you have someone in your family who is pepper-averse, I recommend the same.
** My cousin Alicia balked at the idea of eating Steak-Umms.  You can absolutely substitute thinly-sliced steak, ground beef, slices of roast beef, ground turkey, those vegetarian crumble things... whatever makes you happy!

07 September, 2013

Could Be...

There is a song early on in West Side Story, sung by Tony before he even meets Maria.  The song "Something's Coming" describes the feeling he has that something major is about to happen.

It's only just out of reach, down the block, on a beach, under a tree.
I got a feeling there's a miracle due, gonna come true, coming to me!

The song is stuck in my head today.  See, I've got butterflies in my stomach.  I have no idea why - it could be one of a half-dozen different things racing through my head, or maybe it's just heartburn from breakfast!  But if it's heartburn, it's the most optimistic heartburn I can remember.  I'm genuinely happy for the first time in a while, and I really do feel like I'm on the verge of... I don't know.

However, I can't give myself over completely to this unsubstantiated wonder.  See, there was another movie that featured this song...

(TERRIBLE quality video and audio, and no clue what the graphic in the middle of the screen is doing there.  Skip to 1:10 and you'll get the idea.)

(also, slightly off-topic: this is another example of the type of driving I tend to see from men driving BMWs)

So, I don't know what is coming.  It could be something wonderful and amazing and unexpected... or it could be a bus.  For now, I'll accept the moderate insomnia and randomly sweaty palms and feet and hope for the best.  And until the bus hits me, I'm going to keep smiling and enjoy the ride!

04 September, 2013

Another Hodge Podge Post

I don't think I've mentioned on the blog (though Facebook knows alllll about it!) that my work building has a... considerable challenge with German cockroaches.  I had one run across my desk last week, and I'm still a little emotionally scarred!  The pest control department even came out last week to spray the lockers in the hallway because it seemed like all of the guys were shaking roaches out of their clothes and shoes.

One of my trainers stopped by today to tell me had training forms for me, but they were in his locker.  I asked him to shake the roaches off before bringing them to me, and he laughed, telling me there are no roaches in the lockers on his end of the building but they are in the microwave in that workshop.  He told me that he was heating a frozen meal - 4 minutes on high heat - and when he opened the microwave a roach ran out from under the turntable.  That's right, you can kill a Gremlin in the microwave but you can't kill a cockroach that way.  They.  Are.  Monsters.

skip to 2:00 for gratuitous exploding Gremlin action

In other news, I barely slept last night.  (I'm fine, just letting someone live in my head rent-free.)  After laying there not sleeping until 10:30, I got up and came back downstairs.  I watched The Daily Show and Colbert Report before going back upstairs.  After falling asleep around 12:30, I woke up at 1:20 and 3:05 before my alarm finally went off at 4:15. 

Ordinarily, on tired days I wear my hair in a bun and wear comfy/frumpy clothes and keep a low profile.  And I hear "are you ok?" or "no sleep?" from the folks in the building all day long.  This time, I made a conscious effort to hide the bags under my eyes behind glasses, hair down, a dress, and heels.  And all day I heard variations of "you look pretty today."  You can judge for yourself whether that really meant "thank you for showing me your boobs," but I'll take it!  (btw, I had a cardigan on at work)

Though I still feel generally off and it's likely I'll be asleep long before 8:00 tonight, I left today with a solid self-confidence boost I desperately needed. My original plan for tonight was to bake chicken thighs and make mashed potatoes for my next few meals, but I didn't want to commit to that much manual labor.  Instead, I stopped for a sub - half for dinner, half for tomorrow's lunch - and will try that whole cooking thing again tomorrow night.

For now, I'm just hoping I've evicted my brain tenant enough to sleep for a really long time tonight.  And perhaps I'll try this dress-up thing again tomorrow.