This was my 6th half marathon race. Every race I run I am always nervous. Usually my anxiety increases until I feel like I might puke. And this time my anxiety was high, but not that high. Honestly, I had low expectations for this race. I have been sick with a cold and allergies and been running slow this winter too. All in all, I would have been happy with any time under 2 hours. I had resolved not to beat myself up even if my time was over 2 hours.
The morning was cold. In the 30’s and with a piercing wind. My original plan to wear spring weight clothes was scrapped and I broke out my winter gear. I didn’t sleep hardly at all the night before and had nightmares about getting to the start line late. Finally, I was sore from the 30 miles I had already put in over the course of the week. I hurt at the start line.
But there I was. At the start. Lined up in the last wave of half marathon runners, hoping my broke down body didn’t make me into a liar. I had signed up in the last wave, expecting to finish in under 2 hours, and now hoping I could do it.
The first mile all I could think was that my body was moving too slowly as I watched people pull away from me. Then my running app announced my time: 7:58. I better slow down, I thought. Then for the next several miles I trundled along through Peaceful Valley, then Browne’s Addition. I barely registered the historic mansions passing by in my peripheral vision. I was fixated on the ground in front of my feet.
When I got to People’s Park I caught up with the first groups of walkers I would pass. I was able to maintain a good pace and energy through switchbacks leading up to Kendall Yards. At the first turn around point I got to see some of the truly fast runners coming back my way as I went out and they flew back in. At about 8 1/2 miles I felt a flood of adrenaline and endorphins hit my brain and I couldn’t feel my body. It was like I had gone numb for a quarter mile. Then feeling returned and I continued on out to Mission Park. As I was heading out to start the loop around the park, I saw a friend of mine completing his loop on his way back to the finish. Then, after managing to get my fleece hoodie off, and all of my gear back on, I started the final 3 miles of the race.
This is my favorite part. I love seeing people up ahead and passing them. Especially if we have been trading places during the race. I knew the route back in to the finish well since I run this area all the time during my regular runs. I was able to maintain and pick up speed those last few miles. Just after the 13 mile marker I realized I was still holding back and remembered that I didn’t need to anymore. This was it. The finish line. When I crossed it I had a PR of almost 2 minutes and placed 4th in my age group. I was tired but not spent. It was an excellent race.
One of my very favorite things is roasted red pepper soup. Sometimes I buy the Pacific brand that comes in a box and eat it immediately. Sometimes I make it. Tonight I decided to make it.
- 2 c chopped red, orange or yellow bell peppers
- 2 c mixed cherry, grape or other small tomatoes
- 1 tbl olive oil, divided
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 c chopped red onion
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 c white wine
- 2 c pumpkin soup (see note)
- 1/4 c chopped parsley
Note: I had a jar of my mom’s homemade, canned pumpkin soup on hand. If you don’t, then: cut any small winter squash in half (pumpkin, Hubbard, butternut, acorn, anything with orange flesh), oil a baking sheet and roast, cut side down, at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes. Let the squash cool enough to handle. Scoop the flesh from the skin and set aside. Add with the roasted vegetables, along with 2-3 cups of vegetable or chicken stock.
Preheat your oven to 415 degrees F. In a bowl, mix the tomatoes and bell peppers together with 1 1/2 tsp olive oil, salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Spread mixture out on a baking sheet and roast until peppers are browned at the edges and tomatoes have burst, about 25 minutes.
While the vegetables roast, sauté the onions in the rest of the olive oil. Salt and pepper liberally. Allow the onions to cook until they are browned at the edges. Add garlic and stir to mix. Add wine and scrape up any browned bits then add tomato and bell pepper mixture. Stir some more. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Then add either pumpkin soup, or roasted squash and stock. Bring to a low boil over medium high heat, then lower heat and allow to simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes. Add parsley and stir.
Finally, blend soup until you have the desired consistency, either in a blender (not my preferred method) or with an immersion blender.
The result is a creamy soup with a smoky undertone.
Today is my runniversary. Or it could be. I don’t actually know the date of my first run. Or the run that started it all. The run that was the first of hundreds of runs. Thousands of miles. I do know this: it was an unseasonably warm day in the first two weeks of April, 2013. It was a Thursday or Friday. And it was an act of desperation.
It was a day when my anxiety was overwhelming. It was so bad I left work early in the afternoon because I couldn’t function. When I got back to my stifling second floor apartment I looked at my couch and thought that I could lay down on that couch and drive myself crazy listening to my racing thoughts and hyperventilating, or I could leave. I could run. I could run until I was tired. And then I could turn around and come home. Walk home if I had to.
And so I did. I also don’t remember how far or how fast I ran. I’m sure it was slow and short. What I do remember is the feeling of my heart pounding, not because I was terrified about the collapse of every plan I had made for my life, but because my body was working hard. And I remember how warm it was. And I remember the sun shining on me.
That was the beginning. The first step.
Some days I know I won’t have time to cook when I get home. That’s when I break out the crock pot. I figure that anything I can braise I can throw in the crock pot and, bonus, it’s done by the time I get home. Today I decided to use: chicken from the freezer, vegetable stock I made last fall and the last of the dates hiding in the back of my refrigerator to make a middle eastern spiced chicken.
- Chicken– I used a package of 3 small thighs
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbl cumin
- 1 tbl coriander
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbl cardamom pods
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Enough stock to fill the crock pot
Put everything in crock pot and turn on high. Turn down to low after about 30 minutes. Leave on low all day.
I check before I leave for work to make sure the crock pot doesn’t need to be topped off with more stock.
Comfort food. Salty. Sweet. Fatty. Comfort food.
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 1 Apple, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 c. Chopped cabbage
- 1/2 lemon
- Fresh cracked black pepper
Heat a medium frying pan on medium heat. Cook bacon crisp. Remove from pan. Don’t drain bacon grease. Add the onion to the pan and cook until onion starts to caramelize. Then add the apple and let cook until it starts to brown. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add cabbage and stir to combine. Squeeze lemon juice from half a lemon into the pan. Stir and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes– until the cabbage is wilted.
This dish is easy, fast, salty and sweet.
A handful of silver hairs has shown up like long overdue party guests. The crows feet radiating from the corners of my eyes. The inch long scar on my left hand. The criss cross of lattice shaped creases working their way from finger tips to wrists. The well worn balls of my feet. My stretch marks. Faint but there. Striations creasing the no mans land below my belly button. The vertical scrapes below my hip bones. The way the skin of my belly hangs when I bend over. Stretched like an overworked rubber band while I carried my son.
This body has worked. And it shows.
It was lacy. It had pearl buttons. I had favorited several different versions in Ravelry. It was the perfect project for spring and fall. And I already owned the pattern. The yarn (Cascade Venezia Sport) was a bit of a shot in the dark since I had never seen it in person but it looked pretty online. And the pattern is written by one of my favorite designers– Shirley Paden. Once I had ordered a sweater’s worth of yarn, I was committed.
I modified the pattern to work the body and sleeves in the round. The body up to the armholes, and the sleeves up to the shoulder shaping. Since this sweater is worked in an all over lace pattern, shaping is a bit of a challenge. I left off the selvedge stitches and worked the increases and decreases into the lace pattern as I could. It’s always a bit tricky though.
Working the pattern in the round sped up the knitting and decreased by 2/3 the amount of sewing up. This was a pretty fast knit and I enjoyed it throughout the knitting and finishing.
The edging and buttonholes in the neck placket is crochet. It’s been so long since I picked up a crochet hook that I had to watch YouTube videos to remember how to single crochet, but once I found a good video it all came back to me. The sweater is pretty and feminine. I especially like the bell shaped sleeves.
Pattern: Oriel Lace Blouse, Interweave Knits, Summer 2007
Yarn: Cascade Venezia (I used just under 4 skeins)
Needles: sizes 3, 5, 6 and 7
Mods: working the sweater as much in the round as possible.
Feminism is the radical belief that women are people too.
This is my great grandmother:
The baby she is holding is me. I am 2 months old in this picture.
My Granny Walker was the second or third youngest of thirteen children. She married at 18. When she was 19 (in 1930) she had her first child– my Grandma Frances. Over the next few years she had two more children during the depths of the Great Depression. My great grandparents were poor. My great grandfather was a farmer, in Oklahoma. He was illiterate but good with sums. Reading wasn’t important but not being cheated in business was. My granny was an amazing seamstress. She had a treadle machine and could fashion a pattern from newspaper by looking at a picture of a garment.
My Granny was an energetic and loving woman who did her best to care for her family during desperate times. When she couldn’t buy fabric, she made clothes for her children from flour sacks. When her family was on the edge of starvation she picked cotton by hand. When my mother needed it, Granny took her in.
My Granny did what was necessary to take care of her family and I have to do the same. As a single mom to an elementary aged boy I still have to make breakfast, pack a lunch, and get him to school. As a professional with obligations to my clients I need to go to work. But I will do what I can today. I will not spend money. I will wear red.
I will make my own choices. Shape my own life. Take care of my responsibilities. I will live this day, as I do every day, in the belief that I am a person.
The last four weeks have been tough. I had the flu. That included one solid week of running a fever, chills, fatigue, headache, body aches generally having no energy. Then there was another week where I didn’t run a fever but I was still tired and achy. I now have a sinus infection that I’m taking antibiotics for (and tearing up my intestines) and I started seeing blood in my urine again. Which is to say that running has been especially challenging this month. In fact, I looked back at this month today and realized that my last really enjoyable run was February 2.
Until Thursday. When I headed out the front door of the YMCA yesterday morning I didn’t feel tired or particularly frazzled. It was colder by a few degrees than it has been but I wasn’t that cold. I could feel my fingers and toes. I was even running a little faster than I started out on Wednesday. It was shaping up to be a good run.
The ice on the Centennial Trail is mostly gone at this point. Footing is sure. I powered through the first 3 miles of my run. Then out past Kendall Yards. After I turned to run home I saw another runner in the distance and watched as we approached each other. As we came close he pulled up and greeted me and I realized who he was. One of the people that I follow on Strava. We have never met in person but I started following him after we ran the same route at the same time. It was a neat moment and reminded me how much I love the community of runners. I don’t have the time to join a running or training group at this time in my life but I still get to participate in this community through social media. I am grateful for that.
I modified this pattern pretty heavily. The pattern calls for size 0000 needles and lace weight yarn. I don’t own needles that size and I knew I wanted to use leftover Noro Silk Garden paired with a neutral colored yarn. I decided to use size 4 needles because they worked with the yarn I chose (the Noro paired with an off white skein of Cascade 220 superwash.) changing the needle size and yarn this significantly also required that I change the number of stitches I cast on. I figured out that the pattern was worked in multiples of 10, plus the selvedge stitches, so I cast on 55 stitches. The first section of the pattern is a ruffle, then the main part of the scarf is a slip stitch pattern. Once I got to the slip stitch portion I was able to easily memorize the 8 row repeat, which made the project one of my portable projects. I worked on it a little at home, but most of the knitting happened away from home while I waited.
One of the things that always surprises me is how much a of a commitment scarves are. I like mine long. I usually shoot for them to be about as long as I am tall– 60″. That always takes more time than I think it should. When the scarf was almost as long as I was tall, I started the second ruffle. That was easily finished. I’m pleased with the scarf. I like the color changes in the 2 leftover skeins of Noro and I think it pits well with the white. I wouldn’t mind making the pattern again with a different color combination, or even on smaller needles.
Pattern: Murano Scarf, from the Winter 2008 Interweave Knits
Needles: size 4, straight
Yarn: leftover skeins of Noro Silk Garden and Cascade 220 in white
Modifications: bigger needles, bigger yarn, less stitches