Monday, September 23, 2013

Women Rock Half Marathon

This past weekend I ran my first half marathon.  My goal was to run the whole thing, and do so in under 2:30.  I managed both!! I only walked through the water stops, and my official time was 2:21:50.  It was an absolutely perfect running day - sunny but cool.  Mid 50s at the start and mid 60s by the finish.  My sister came out to run it with me (although we didn't actually run together since she is faster than I am).

This was a new race in Chicago and a bit disorganized, but still fun.

1. Starting line was on sidewalks (they did not close off the street) which made for a very congested start.
2. Corrals unclear - we all assumed that they would be closing off the street so crowded up by an entrance near the barricades by the starting line - not lined up in the designated pace corrals
3. No PA announcements telling us what to do or where to line up at start
4. Even though the half marathoners were supposed to start 30 minutes before the 5k and 10k, no one really made that clear so everyone went at once
5.  The course was along the lakefront bike/running path, but it had not been closed off to other traffic.  In fact there was a Leukemia society Team in Training doing their final pre marathon long run also on the course.
6.  Bananas at the end were lousy.  The volunteers even apologized - apparently the bananas had been donated and in retrospect they figured the reason they were donated was because they weren't good.
7.  Congestion at quite a few parts due to the 3 distances/turnarounds

1. The course itself was beautiful - great scenery and views of the lakefront.  If it had been closed off, would have been perfect.
2. Finishers received a necklace at the finish line.  They allowed you to swap it out for a medal, that had originally been created for people who did the full 4 race team ortho series.  I was never planning on wearing the necklace, so the medal swap was great.
3.  Post race party included a glass of champagne - admittedly not the best champagne but a cute gimmick and we got to keep the glass
4. The congestion actually helped me keep on pace and make it so I was able to run the whole thing.
5. Very friendly volunteers receptive to feedback.  They were apologetic about the overlap with the Team in Training but apparently had not been informed that that would be happening
6.  Attention to the little details - like comp tampons in the port a potties at the start, announcing your name as you cross finish line

Would I do it again next year?  Probably, depending on the schedule.  After a quick stop at the post race party we went to lunch at Ed Debevics - kids choice, and then home.  My sister and I each took a shower and a nap before we headed out to dinner.  

Notes to self for what worked for me...
My playlist was perfect, started slow and built up.  Livin on A Prayer actually came on at 6.75 miles (Woah, we're half way there, woah, livin' on a prayer, Won't you take my hand and we'll make it, I swear)
One of my last songs was I Love this Town also by Bon Jovi.  At about 12.5, Jon and I had a little conversation...

You want it? You got it 
You ready? I'm on it 
Come on now, here we go agaiiinnnnnn...

That's why I love this town

Dinner the night before was grilled chicken with salad and quinoa (my sister's suggestion since I told her I didn't have a go-to prerace dinner yet).  I got hungry later and had a peanut butter sandwich and yogurt before going to bed.  Waffle with peanut butter and banana in the morning, and try to keep the water intake morning of to a minimum.  I did pop a couple of sports beans just before each water stop so I could wash them down with water.  

What not to do? Set up intervals on my phone.  I did it to help make sure I didn't bonk at mile 8 like the Fort 2 Base, but walking the water stations worked better.  I was afraid to try and switch programs mid run, but next time, I'll set it to keep me updated on my expected finish time. 

I was happily surprised that I was not sore the next morning, especially since I was after the Fort 2 Base.  I definitely want to do another one, not sure when though.  It's about to start getting colder here in Chicago, but I plan on doing a race a month to keep me going and hopefully can plan another half for early spring.  While I am very  happy with my time, I know with cross training I'll be able to do even better next time.   Another plus, we were running this as an MS fundraiser and managed to raise over $2200 for MS in our Mom's honor. Unfortunately she couldn't be there to cheer us on, but we made sure to post pics to Facebook so she could keep track of us and called her after the race.

I skipped my usual Monday morning run since my sister was leaving around lunch time, but was able to start running again Wednesday, a little sluggish and Endomondo was goofy, but it felt good..  The next few weeks I can take it a little easy as my next race is a 5k with my daughter - her 1st so I'll let her set the pace.  November I'll be back down to the lakefront for a 10 miler so I can't slack completely.  Not sure which race to do after that.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Crockpot Frikadeller

This is a mix of Mark Bittman's recipe for Frikadeller and a crockpot Swedish meatball recipe I found online. Growing up we ate frikadeller a lot and I always found them to be really dry, sorry Mom. I like these because of the rich sauce.

1-1/2 lb of ground meat - should be mix of pork and veal, but I can't bring myself to use veal, so I use pork and beef.
1/2 cup or less of plain bread crumbs
3/4 cup of cream
a pinch of ground cloves
pepper to taste

2 (10 oz) cans cream of mushroom condensed soup with roasted garlic
1/2 cup water
1 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine all the meatball ingredients. I add the bread crumbs and cream a little at a time and mix as I go.

Make meatballs about golfball size or smaller, put in crockpot.  Mix the soup and water and pour over the meatballs.  Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.

In a small bowl, combine sour cream, flour and pepper and blend well.  about 30 moniutes before meatballs are done cooking, add a spoonful of the hot liquid from the crockpot and blend.  Add the sour cream mixture to crockpot, stir well, cover, and cook on low for 30 - 40 minutes until thickened and blended.  Serve over mashed potatoes (or hot cooked rice).

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sister by Rosamund Upton

This book was recommended to me by a friend whose opinion I usually agree with.  I wanted to like this book, and while I didn't hate it it fell short on a few key levels for me.  

Despite the premise being that a woman in NY is called back to London urgently to help find her missing sister, I felt the story took a while to get going.  

The story is mostly told as a series of interviews between Beatrice and Mr Wright who works for the police department.  

Tess was pregnant and expecting soon.  She was unmarried and the father didn't want to be involved with the baby.  Tess and Beatrice had a brother Leo who died of cystic fibrosis at a young age and they know they are both carriers.  Tess signs up for a in utero trial cure for CF.  

Not long after Beatrice arrives in London Tess' body is found and ruled a suicide.  Beatrice refuses to believe that Tess committed suicide, and continues to investigate Tess' death at her own peril. This was the part of the book I found interesting, but at first I didn't buy the ending.  I skimmed the book again the next day to see if there was some detail I missed and with fresh eyes it did seem more plausible, but still not satisfying.  

Next up Paris by Edward Rutherford.  I've read a few of his books and have thoroughly enjoyed some (Russka and London) and couldn't get through New York or The Princes of Ireland.  I'm hopeful about this one.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Trinity Six

This book had a lot going for it, but I was disappointed with the ending.  But I'll get to that.

The book starts off in London, 1992 with the death of Edward Crane.  He was 76 years old and died in a hospital. His obituary described him as a career diplomat.  On the surface nothing would seem strange abut a 76 year old man dying, but in time we learn that his death was not what it seemed.

Sam Gaddis is a professor at University College London in Russian History who gets involved in researching a ring of Soviet and British spies - the Trinity Six. He is tipped off by a journalist friend of his who dies after telling him about the story she is working on.  Sam is convinced she was killed to silence the story but has no proof.  He continues investigating on his own, drawing both the attention of MI6 and the FSB.  He wants to stop but is compelled by the story and hopes to score a big book deal with the completed story as he is heavily in debt.  

At times Sam's not sure who if anyone he can trust, although he continues to get information from multiple sources.  I enjoyed it until the very end.  While some reviewers were frustrated by Gaddis' mistakes I thought they made him more believable.  He is not a spy, he is an academic, of course he's going to make some mistakes and take some risks.  I feel like the ending wasn't very realistic, as all the loose ends are too neatly tied up in the end.  Not sure if Cumming is planning a sequel (this was published in 2011), which could make the ending make sense.  

Still I've missed the Cold War spy novels and this definitely is reminiscent of those. I also appreciated the similarities between the fictional President of Russia - Sergei Platov - and Vladimir Putin.  I would be willing to try another by this author, but first I think it's time I read one of John le Carre's since I never have.