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Athens Marathon Training: Reclaiming My Time

7 Aug

If are you reading this, you probably have already heard that I am officially Chef Kefi, CPNP. I passed my certifying exam this week and am now a real, live Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.  As such, I spent my week interpreting the meme-inspiring words of Auntie Maxine herself and was reclaiming my time left and right.

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The good news is that I had a really fun week… but the bad news is that I missed a lot of running time. I almost never deviate from my training plans so it doesn’t make me TOO nuts to have an off week, but it certainly makes writing a training recap a little more difficult.

Athens Marathon Training Week 3: Reclaiming My Time

Monday: 60 minute slow flow and meditation at Past Tense — so necessary for the night before the big test!

Tuesday: NO MORE TESTS DAY IS THE BEST DAY! After I passed my test and wept the most genuine tears of joy that have ever been shed, I got right down to the business of reclaiming my damn time. It was 2 pm and HOT, but you think that bothered me one little bit? Nope. Got in a wonderful 75 minute run and loved every single second.

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Then, of course, there was the little matter of celebrating. SummitKef and I couldn’t quite summon the skills to get this shot right, but as I do not intend to reclaim even one second of time working on my selfie game, we just kept the party moving right along.

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Wednesday: y’all, the people of OffRoad are trying to kill me.  This week’s death sentence included two 10-minute pushes marked by looooong ascents. Dru, you win.

Thursday: meant to run hills, but got caught up at work until 8 pm and then had a ton of party prep to get done so just had to skip it. Womp. I muttered a teeth-clenched prayer to St. Maxine herself that my newly-found free time would not be eaten up by work and reminded myself that one missed run is just the way things go sometimes.

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Friday:  was up way late on Thursday night so slept in on Friday.  Planned to get at least my planned 30 minute run in at lunch (plus maybe some of those missed hills if I had the chance) but then — of course– it was the one Friday we were swamped at work and had to work right through lunch. Another missed run– I did not love that, but BabyKef was coming down after work down to help  me with the rest of the party prep, and we turned out about a million cookies that looked like this, so I called the day a net win:

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Saturday: If you want any evidence that I was plum out of effs to give, I’ll tell you this: I had planned to run for about 2:45 on Saturday starting in Rosslyn at 6 am. At 1015 am, I finally set out from Petworth, ran 60 minutes and then abandoned ship. I hadn’t slept well (see also: too much work, too many party projects) and just couldn’t get into a good headspace. Usually I can work with that and find a phrase to focus on to get me back into the groove, but right around the hour mark my calf was cramping something FIERCE and I was just.plain.done.

All this extra energy left me feeling a little nutty… which I’m sure early arrivals to my celebration noticed (…sorry about that, guys). But then MrKef’s cowboy hat came out and I remembered that I will have allllllll kinds of time next week to make up for those missed miles but I will never get to celebrate the RECLAMATION OF ALL MY DAMN TIME with my dearest friends ever again. So celebrate I did.

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Weeks to Race Day: 14
Total Miles This Week: 14 … whoopsies
Gains: William-Wallace-style FREEDOM, several letters behind my name
Losses: uh, the 20ish miles I didn’t run

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Three Books I Read In One Sitting

19 Jun

I’m supposed to be studying for my Boards 24/7, but I went a little overboard and put the entirety of the 2016 NYT Notable Books of the Year list on hold at the library and now I have to read all these books before their return date. Whoopsies.

But it’s not procrastinating if you read them really quickly, right? In general I am not a speed reader (we leave that to ThisIsYourLifeNowKef), but these three books sucked me in and didn’t let go until I finished them. Since I should be studying, I’ll just give you the quick and dirty–ask me about my full thoughts sometime after August 1st or so.

When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

What happens when a young neurosurgeon becomes the patient? This posthumously-published memoir of Kalanithi’s struggle to maintain meaning as he faced the end of his life is stunningly-written and deeply resonant. The book is worth reading just for the final paragraph, which has to be among the most touching words ever put to page.

The End of Eddy – Edouard Louis

I’ve spent more time talking and thinking about this book than I did reading it– the autobiographic novel is less than 200 pages but manages to tackle (among other things): socially-prescribed expectations of masculinity, class-based systemic violence, and resiliency in the face of abuse, isolation, and neglect. Many have called The End of Eddy a French version of Hillbilly Elegy, but I resist the comparison.  Certainly, The End of Eddy aims to connect the personal injustices waged against its gay protagonist with the massive marginalization and humiliation of his working-class family in a factory town, and its US-release was timed with the rise and near-election of a dangerous right wing politician (Le Pen), two similarities to Hillbilly Elegy that make drawing the parallel clean and neat. But Eddy has none of the suggestions for redemption of Elegy— like the author/main character, Eddy’s readers are left weighing the balance of blame and forgiveness for the family and neighbors who torment him.

Grief is the Thing with Feathers – Max Porter

Honestly, I haven’t the slightest idea how to describe this book, but if Gregor woke up a bug on the day of his mother’s funeral, Metamorphosis might have been a it like GITTWF. We meet a father and his two boys just after the sudden death of their wife/mother, and large parts of the book are spent in sparse-but-touching observations of grief and the act of living after the life you once knew is gone. Somehow, an allegoric crow borne of Ted Hughes’ (of Sylvia Plath fame) mind becomes the shepherd of their grieving process, and even manages to illuminate their most poignant moments. To be honest, I couldn’t make much sense of the Crow, but I loved the rest of the book so much I didn’t care. If someone knows a sophomore Literature major, I’d love them to close read it for me and let me know what to make of it.

Green Goddess Dressing

6 Jun

I’m dipping my toe back in the water of baking and blogging– so here’s a short and sweet recipe from Half Baked Harvest that I have been slathering on pretty much everything. Healthy fats mixed with feta cheese? And you just throw it in a food processor and whirl? Yes please.

Half Baked Harvest’s Green Goddess Dressing

  • 1/4 c tahini
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 of an avocado or 1 small avocado
  • 2 TBS lemon juice
  • 2 TBS roasted pistachios
  • 1 c fresh basil
  • 1/2 c fresh mint
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/3 c feta

Assembly

1. Put everything in the food processor.

2. Puree until to desired texture.

3. Eat on everything.

Pacers St Pattys Day 10k Recap

9 Mar

I haven’t written much about running recently- largely because I haven’t had any races since my big “A” race back in November 2015. Nuts.

With all the extra time not spent on training for a specific goal, I focused the last several months of my prolonged off-season on beating the hell out of my legs in order to gain some strength. This is a bit of a revolution for me, as I will pretty much always choose running for 90 minutes over squats, push-ups, and burpees for 30 minutes. Of course, it turns out that 100% of expert exercise science consensus is not wrong–after about 2 months of regular strength training (ESPECIALLY consistent core work…. blech), I noticed a big difference in how my muscles felt during/after runs, and an even bigger difference in the numbers ticked off by my Garmin.

I signed up for the the St Pattys Day 10k mostly because I love 10ks and just don’t think there are enough of them. I’ve been running a lot with a Oiselle Teammate who is quite a bit faster than me, and I’ve been more or less keeping up — so I had a sneaky suspicion this race could be a PR. Previously, my best was 51:30 from the 2015 Capitol Hill ClassicCapitol Hill Classic, so of course I hope I could eek it in under 50:00, but I wasn’t too sure.

Here’s how it went:

Mile 1: 7:27
Mile 2: 7:32
Mile 3: 7:50
Mile 4: 7:45
Mile 5: 7:44
Mile 6: 7:45
Last 0.29: 2:04

I spent the first two miles pretty much freaking out– maintaining any mile split that began with a 7 was absolutely new territory for me. Somewhere into mile 3, I switched from the doubting voice to the DO IT voice, and decided to commit to making this sub-50 10k happen. Per my race MO, I tuned out whatever nonsense people were engaging around me and just focused on the phrase I had chosen for the day; for this race, I went “fly fast to the finish then rest,” another Oiselle maxim.

And that’s pretty much what I did! I finished in 48:09, which came as a huge surprise and a big relief, and then went straight from the finish line to the movie theater for that rest (if you haven’t seen Get Out yet, stop everything you’re doing and go see it right now).

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Like all Pacers Races, the St Pattys Day 5k/10k is amazingly well organized. Packet pickup is easy, the race is metro accessible, and day-of logistics are a dream (plenty of portapotties, lots of volunteers, well marked gear check/info/medical/etc booths). Almost everyone else I talked to commented on how beautiful the course is- Ohio Drive is the main drag, so you pass the Washington Monument, WWII memorial, Tidal Basin, and Kennedy Center but, per usual, I was too dialed-in to say whether the course is pretty or not. It is, however, pretty flat, and I most certainly took note of that.

My next race is the the GW Parkway Classic, and I’m not sure whether I’ll shoot for another PR or just enjoy the course and the run. Both are equally appealing right about now–so only time will tell. Until then, it’s back to the burpees.

 

A Lemon Cranberry Tea Cake For High Class Turn Ups

1 Mar

I’m 4-5 seconds from wildin’ and we got 3 more days til Friday, so today I gotta type and dash. Because I know my readership is full of people who turn up with Rihanna on Saturday and attend pinky-up high teas on Sunday, I present this pretty little cake especially for yall. The cake itself is dainty and sophisticated–pretty much what you’d expect from a tea loaf–and the cranberry swirl and candied lemons give it just enough sour sass to be memorable.  Basically, a good girl gone bad.

To make this cake, I and combined a few recipes from the beautiful blog A Hint of Vanilla, the creator of which has artistry and genius that far exceed mine, so go check her out. Her bona fides include a world-class pastry education AND beautiful food photography, and all these recipes were easily made gluten/sugar free if you’re with me on that front. No word on whether she makes paragraphs-long Rihanna references, though.

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Lemon Cranberry Tea Cake

–For the cranberry swirl

  • 6 oz cranberries (about half of the bag you get in the grocery store)
  • 60 mL brandy (I used a cherry brandy we bizarrely had hanging out)
  • juice and zest of one orange
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch cloves
  • 1/2 TBS vanilla
  • 2 TBS maple syrup

–For the Cake

  • 6TBS butter
  • 1/3 c honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 c flour (I used CupforCup for gluten free)
  • 1/2 c almond flour
  • scant 1/2 c buttermilk (or 1/2 c milk + 1/4 tsp white vinegar or lemon juice)

–For the candied lemons

  • 1 lemon
  • 200 mL water
  • 1/2 c sugar (I used coconut sugar and it was beautiful)

–For the lemon glaze

  • 2 TBS butter
  • 2 TBS honey
  • 2 TBS milk
  • zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Assembly:

  1. To make the cranberry swirl: place all the ingredients for the cranberry swirl in a medium sauce pan and heat over medium-low heat. Stir frequently. After about 5ish minutes, the cranberries will soften and burst–remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Then, transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth. Texture will be something like smooth jam.
  2. To make candied lemons: slice the lemon as thin as you can–the original recipe suggest 1 mm, mine ended up somewhere about 3-4mm. Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan, then turn heat down to low. Add lemon slices and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let lemon slices soak in syrup until ready to use.
  3. To make the cake: Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly grease two small loaf pans or one large one. Mix together dry ingredients, set aside. In a standing or electric mixer, cream together butter and honey until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
    1. With the mixer on medium speed, add the egg, then turn up to medium-high for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat again for about 15 seconds. Add the egg yolk and beat on medium-high for another 20 seconds. This crazy beating schedule should get you a shiny batter.
    2. Using a rubber spatula, alternate folding in the dry flour mix and the buttermilk to the honey/butter/egg mixture. Begin and end with the dry mix, so that it takes 4 additions to use all the dry mix and 3 additions to use all the buttermilk. Do not overdo it- fold in until just combined. Finally, add in your desired amount of cranberry swirl and fold in–I used about 1/2 cup and think my bread could have used a bit more… start there and, if you decide to add, move up slowly. But again- don’t go crazy mixing this beautiful batter.
    3. Fill your prepared pans so each is about 2/3 full. Arrange 2-3 candied lemon slices on top. Bake the loaves for 30-40 minutes (mine took around 36 or 37), or until center is set and top is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool in pans.
  4. To make lemon glaze: Mix all glaze ingredients together in a small sauce pan until just simmering. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour/spoon glaze over cooled cake. Allow glaze to cool completely before serving.

 

Practically Healthy Blueberry Fig Newtons

13 Feb

There has been a proliferation of posts that are decidedly not gluten/sugar free around here recently. Today, we’re headed back to the realm of the mamby pamby with my second crack at gluten-free/sugar-free fig newtons. Long time readers may remember that my first attempt was totally delicious but did not at all resemble fig newtons. These were just as delicious, and got a bit closer to the actual thing (though they are still a little closer to a granola bar cookie than a fig newton). I love that these are a little salty and kind of reminded me of those salty oatmeal cookies from Teaism everyone is obsessed with. Plus, the hardest thing about them was digging my food processor out of the back of my cabinet–just ten minutes of prep time and throw ’em in the oven. I whipped them up before work one day and they were very well received by a bunch of people who like healthy food but also like gluten and sugar–so safe to say that normal people would like them as much as I do.

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I found this recipe buried in my email draft box, so I have no idea if it’s mine, someone else’s, or my take on someone else’s recipe. It’s hard for me to believe I would have come up with using the liquid from a can of beans instead of an egg…so, to whoever’s recipe I may/may not be plagiarizing– you have my apologies and gratitude.

Practically Healthy Blueberry Fig Newtons

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 1 c almond flour
  • 3/4  c oat flour (I just ground up gf old-fashioned oatmeal)
  • 2 TBS coconut sugar
  • 1.25 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lime zest
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/3 c coconut oil, melted
  • 3 TBS aquafaba (the water inside a can of garbanzo beans)

For the filling

  • 1 c soaked dried figs
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • generous 1/3 c blueberries
  • 1 tsp lime juice

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Combine all crust ingredients until you have a well-mixed batter.
  2. Blend all the filling ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
  3. Arrange half the crust batter in a square on a parchment- or silicon-lined baking sheet. Spread filling over top. Then layer second half of crust batter on top of filling. I found it easiest to use my fingers for all of this spreading and layering- you do you.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes (I went about 23)- or until crust is set and ever-so-slightly-browned. Let cool before slicing and serving.

Butternut and Parmesan Pancakes Riley Freeman Would Cosign

3 Feb

A few weeks ago, we went really wild and talked about how vegetables can actually be dessert..  Today I bring you the counterpoint to that mind-boggling switch up: pancakes that are savory.

Like most things I’ve been posting lately, this isn’t my recipe and it came to my attention via QueijoKef, who always has her finger on the pulse of what’s good on Instagram. These pancakes check all my boxes– they’re veggie based, easy to make, AND they incorporate the world’s must under-appreciated herb: sage. As I’ve been saying: no one knows you like your college roommate.

I whipped these up after a long run on Saturday and was thrilled to find they taste like a more sophisticated Red Lobster cheddar biscuit. This, of course, meant I decided it was appropriate to wake my poor husband out of a deep slumber with a resounding, “FAM’S EATING CHEDDAR BISCUITS, GRANDDAD!” If that reference means nothing to you, watch seasons 1&2 of the Boondocks and get back to me.

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Anyway, MrKef and I both loved these without reservation or qualification. I am reposting the recipe here because our president thinks he can turn off corners of the internet and I would never want to lose this recipe– but please know it comes from the geniuses at SmittenKitchen.

Butternut and Parmesan Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 c roasted and mashed butternut squash (this was about 1/2 small squash for me)
  • 1/3 c Greek yogurt (you already know I used Fage)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c finely grated gruyere, comte or parmesan
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea or table salt
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 c all-purpose flour (I used Cup4Cup for gluten free)
  • Butter or olive oil for frying pan
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons butter
  • pinch or two of salt
  • a few fresh sage leaves

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Quarter butternut and lightly grease flesh with olive oil. Place on cookie sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes, flipping them around 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, scoop out 1 cup and mash until mostly smooth.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk squash, yogurt, eggs, cheese, salt, pepper and baking powder until smooth. Add flour and stir until just combined. Batter will be thick.
  3. Heat a large frying over medium-low to medium heat. Coat the bottom with butter or olive oil, or a combination thereof, and spoon in pancake batter, a heaped soup spoon or scant 1/4 cup at a time. Press the back of the batter mound to flatten the pancake slightly. Cook until golden brown underneath, flip and then cook until the color until golden brown on the second side. If this is happening very fast, lower your heat. If you’re worried pancakes have not cooked in the center, you can finish them for 10 minutes in a 250 degrees oven. You can also keep your pancakes warm there until needed. Repeat with remaining batter.
  4. To finish, wipe out frying pan and place butter, a pinch or two of salt and sage leaves back in it, heating over medium. The sage leaves will crisp and the butter will brown in a minute or two so keep a close watch on it. Pour leaves and butter over pancakes and quickly understand why you’ll never have them another way.
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