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Some Wise Words From Other People

5 Jan

While the rest of the blogosphere is writing about goals and resolutions for the coming year, your girl Kef is just trying to keep her head above water. School, work, and self care are each their own full-time job, and I’ve been working overtime at each of them for the last year or so. I’m grateful to have a job I love, to be in the LAST SIX MONTHS of my NP program (#praiseHim!), and to be injury-free enough to run… but none of those wonderful truths make me want to rip my hair out any less on those days when I feel like I’m spinning my wheels (and not in the kicking-ass-on-a-seated-climb-to-your-college-playlist kind of way).

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Since my life is chock full milestones this year–finally being done with grad school, running my first full marathon, transitioning to a new role at work– I’m not stressing about goals set arbitrarily to the new calendar year. I love the idea some people have to choose a word and pursue it as the theme for the year, but we allllllll know I am a woman of many words and could never choose just ONE. So, instead, I’m choosing two phrases to get me through the tough 6 months I have ahead of me:

1) Goals are often simple, but never easy.

The tremendous Kelly Roberts wrote these words earlier this week on the Oiselle blog. I love this mostly because it is an elegant way to state the obvious: the difficult part isn’t figuring out what needs to be done, it’s actually breaking inertia and doing the work. The path to our desired result is pretty clear, if only we get out of our own way and do what we already know is required. Simple to say, never easy to do.

2) There is no secret. Keep going.nosecret

This is a tried-and-true Oiselle maxim I have always loved. It’s easy to feel like everyone else has a vat of the magic sauce that makes everything fall into place effortlessly–especially when they only post the clean-house/best-lighting/perfect-pace picture on social media. This phrase is a reminder that there is, actually, no secret, and that everybody else is in the same boat. As the good witch said, “you’ve had the power all along, my dear”–you just have to keep going.

So that’s my story for the next little while, and I’m sticking to it, whether I like it or not. What are your goals/resolutions/words/phrases for 2017?

 

Weekend Overachieving: Coconut Curry Chicken and a Record Run

8 Aug

It’s been a minute since I’ve had a happy surprise on the running front, and even longer since I made my dear husband something nutritious that he would also call delicious. Great news-I did both this weekend!

Let’s start with running- I have been doing my long runs with the Arlington Road Runners Club for the past couple of Saturdays, and it has been just the kick in the pants I need to remember that the hole is not actually that deep.

I had 90 minutes planned for the run, which probably would have been about 10 miles in the stank heat and humidity that Saturday showed up with. Around mile 6, Courtney pointed out that it was time to either take an uber home or make the decision to run the rest of the route with her… the rest of the route being ANOTHER TEN miles. Previous to that morning, the longest I had ever run was 13.5 miles, but I was feeling great and thought to myself, “Let’s see what the ol’ girl can do” (and that’s a direct quote–things have been weird in Kef-landia lately).

Long (run) story short- I finished the route, very much thanks to the AWESOME ARRC volunteers who set up life-changing water stops at miles 7 and 11 and Courtney for being the world’s BEST run-buddy-cheerleader. I’ve been living in a world where I didn’t believe I could ever run that far and, lo and behold, I did it without even planning to. How do you like them apples?

Annoyingly, I forgot to turn my watch back on after a water fountain break and missed some mileage on my watch. Whatever.

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Anyway, I worked and napped and ate and Hoodwinked with SummitKef for the rest of Saturday. I woke up on Sunday ready to kick more ass. I cooked a week’s worth of food in 3 hours, a nice reversal of my usual Sunday routine, which is to eat a week’s worth of food in 3 hours.

This curry chicken took ~20 to put together, made enough for him to eat all week, and got big thumbs up from MrKef. It is based off a Whole30 recipe, but I had to punch up the spice for my audience.

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Coconut Curry Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 medium potatoes, rinsed and chopped (sweet potatoes if you’d like!)
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 TBS curry powder
  • 1-2 TBS hot sauce of your choice
  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes, fire roasted
  • 1/3 c coconut milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lime, sliced

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Heat olive oil in a saute pan over med-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft, 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add curry powder and cook another 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and hot sauce. Stir well, and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer contents of pan into blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Add salt, pepper, and coconut milk and blend again.
  3. Arrange chicken and potatoes in a casserole dish, Pyrex pan, or any high-rimmed oven-safe dish. Pour the curry sauce over the chicken and potatoes, and distribute so everything is covered. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

2015 RnR Brooklyn Half Recap: She Thought She Could and So She Did

13 Oct

Another race in the books: I ran the Inaugural RnR Brooklyn Half Marathon last weekend!

My updates here are sporadic, at best, these days so for those trying to keep track at home I’ll catch you up: I decided in March that it was time to get serious about running and make some goals. I had been chasing a sub-2:00 half for some time, and, while that was the main goal for this season, I also had less quantifiable things to achieve. I wanted to become a stronger runner who could run predictable races and get through this season injury free.

But mostly, I wanted a half time that started with a 1.

My “A” race for the season is the OBX Half in November, and my original intention for Brooklyn was to use it as a training run. I was under strict orders from my running coach to “jog it–no time goals,” and I had just completed a tough week of high mileage running, which had only gone okay, and I hadn’t performed nearly as well as I had wanted to at my track group time trial on Thursday. All of this to say, I wasn’t feeling “race ready” as I headed up to NY.

Grand Army Plaza, starting line for the 2015 RnR Brooklyn Half

It took an inordinate amount of time to get from DC to NY, and after finally fighting all the traffic 95 had to offer, the heavens opened up and let down a deluge of rain and wind pretty much the second I entered Brooklyn. The expo was just about as poorly planned as I’ve seen– the Brooklyn Expo Center is RIGHT on the water, which means it’s surrounded by one-way streets… not the best plan for getting 17,000 people in and out. Plus, they put the t-shirt pickup outside (though the chocolate milk people somehow got to stay indoors… go figure), so everyone was forced to trek into and out of the pouring rain at least twice to complete expo errands. No bueno, RnR.

Things were not looking all that positive, but I finally made it to JetSet and KimmieKef’s house, where I was greeted by Mr. Met himself,

photowho made the brilliant suggestion of getting my customary pre-race gluten-free pizza from Telio, where they have GLUTEN FREE SPANAKOPIZZA. Yes, that’s right my dearies– glutenfree dough covered with onions and spinach and feta. I am so sad to report that we did not take a picture of this gift from God, but rest assured that it was kefi in a box. Man, oh man.

Flash forward a few hours and the Mets have won their first playoff game since 2006 and it’s race day! After some coffee, eggs and a GF waffle, I got on the train and made the long trip out to Brooklyn. I sat there feeling kind of tired, a bit rundown the miles I had already put in that week, and just let the loop of negative talk run for awhile, until this question came to me:

“Who has time for thoughts like this?”

And then, just like that, I decided to be happy, see how I felt, and run whatever race I had in me that day.

It’s a good thing I decided to stop being miserable before I got off the train, because what awaited me was… chaos.

rnrstartofficialThink that picture is actually a starting line shot? It may also double as the line for the portapotties. I didn’t count, but it seemed like there were approximately 9 portapotties for 17,500 people. I got there with exactly 6 minutes to spare and thankfully talked my way toward the front of a very.long.line, which is more than I can say for this guy,

rnr guy who cut the portapotty linewho looked at a half-mile long line of women who had to pee (and at least one of us who had to poop!), darted into a portapotty and came out flipping everyone the bird. Not cool, dude. Not cool.

Anyyyyyywaaaay, so now I’ve taken care of business and am ready.to.go. I made the last-minute decision to run with the 2:00 pace group. We exchanged niceties and then waited… and waited… and waited for the 7:00 start.

At 7:31, we got going. Apparently, the other 17,499 runners had to wait in some insane security line. Not sure how I missed that trainwreck, but for once I was glad to be left on the platform!

Miles 1-3

Our pacer was Garrett, who is a superstar on the Dashing Whippets. It was his first time pacing, and his plan was a 9:05 pace for a 2:00 finish. Great, sounds like I could stick to the race plan of “just jogging” and still make my goal time of sub-two.

rnr garrett b

Garrett and someone who is not me.

Well, you know what they say about best laid plans. The start of the race weaves around a traffic circle and it was tight and crowded. Garrett was a gem and charged through. We picked up a few more pace group members and pressed on. We were just ahead of that 9:05 pace, which at first really freaked me out, but then I realized that I felt GREAT and banished the last of those doubts lingering in the back of my mind. Miles 1-3 8:57, 9:15, 8:56.

Miles 4-6

Now we were getting into the meat of the race, and Garrett was going nuts. First he was running at an 8:30 pace, then a 9:30 pace… it was an emotional roller coaster for me and I decided to get off the ride. I was still feeling really good, so I let the good times roll and took water at each aid station. I was grateful for the flat course and the AMAZING crowd support–there were spectators everywhere!

The 10K mark was the point at which I realized that I was really going to do it: I was finally going to go under 2:00. In a race. I had expected some big emotional moment at the finish line when I did this because I have known for so long that I can do it and have come just short of the this goal 3 or 4 times, but you know- the most emotional moment for me was right there at the halfway point, when I realized I would do it and my first reaction wasn’t so much surprise or shock as it was, Well, of course you are. I feel like the phrase “She thought she could and so she did” has been going on on a lot of runners’ instagrams that I follow and it felt particularly true on Saturday: I had put in the work, and now it was time to reap some results! Miles 4-6 8:35, 8:49, 8:57

Miles 7-9

Previous to the 10k point (or there about), the course is on residential-ish streets. Miles 6-10ish were an out- and -back on a long, boring stretch of almost highway. I was lucky enough to happen upon a woman named Hayley (whose name I only learned because she had a HUGE cheering section at the turnaround) who was not only running a perfect 8:55 pace, but also blaring music out of her phone because she had lost her headphones. Hayley and I ran pretty much in sync and together for 4 miles without exchanging words or acknowledging that we were doing it! This is when I realized how much I like running with people (which I hadn’t done at all in this or the last training cycle) and decided that I would bring that part of my training back. Thanks to Hayley who got me through some boring middle miles with her tunes and on-point pace! Miles 7-9 8:52, 8:56, 8:52

rnrhayley

Thanks, Hayley! Also, isn’t the internet scary that with very little info I could find her?

Miles 10-13.1

There was a small off ramp that had a fairly steep incline, and I decided to power up it and I was back on my own again. I was starting to feel it here, but I reminded myself that I had no time for negativity and kept it moving. Pretty soon, we were in the park! Crowd support in Prospect Park was so good that the entirety of the last 5k felt like being in the Finish Chute! It was also the worst part… most of mile 12 was up a long, slow hill. I just focused on getting to that last mile marker and making sure nothing catastrophic was going to get between me and this damn goal! And then, there it was: the FINISH! I clocked in at 1:57:44 for a 5-minute PR and finally-FINALLY- A SUB-TWO HALF!!!!!
Miles 10-13.1: 8:43, 8:48, 9:07, 8:10, 2:37 (0.39–my watch said the race was a bit long).

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Race recap:

Pros:  this was a mostly-flat course with awesome support and especially good aid stations– 10 water stops in 13 miles? Yes please! Getting to the start was super easy on public transportation. Oh, and did I mention that medal is also a BOTTLE OPENER? Big ups to whoever thought of that one. And, of course, Garrett and Hayley, my official and unofficial race pacers!

Cons: a poor choice for the expo location + crazy security lines + way too few portapotties meant you had some really pissed off New Yorkers on your hands before they ran 13.1 miles. Add mile markers that were consistently off, a lackluster smattering of post-race food (shouldn’t bagels be required if the race is in NY?) and really poor post-race signage (how the hell am I supposed to know how to get out of Prospect Park?) and you have some disappointed runners–isn’t the whole point of a huge event company like RnR buying up all the little guys that they can execute these details anywhere?

Take Home: I’ll run this race again next year if it works for my schedule, but I won’t plan a season around it.

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