Tuesday, October 6, 2015

TC 10 Mile 2015 (Dancing Yetis)

TC (Twin Cities) 10 Mile
2:32:01 PR! *
Average Pace 15:13/mile **

*A distance first is always a PR - LOL!
**This varies quite a bit from my GPS watch, which recorded a 15:02/mile. 
I'm not sure what to think about that, I've never had such a variance before.

Welp!  Despite the fact that this race was a real stinker pace wise, for the first time this year I'm claiming a PR.  Granted, it's not a PR to take huge pride in.  But given I won't see many of those for the near future ... I'll take it!  So, here's to running a distance for the first time.  Hoorah!

Anyway, PR aside, the days leading up to this race were a roller coaster for me.  For those of you who don't know, the TC 10 mile is incredibly popular and entry is awarded via a lotto system.  For three years I have entered said lotto.  FINALLY, in 2015, I got in, and I was thrilled.

Then, despite my best efforts at first, about a month before this race my training went to pot.  And to make matters even worse, the week of the race protesters made statements that they were going to shut down the race

Trying not to worry too much about what was to come, on Friday my friend and I went to packet pickup over our lunch hour, which was pretty fun though somewhat crowded (at least we came away with tons of free snacks). Then, trying to treat everything like business as usual, Saturday evening I worked on my pre race ritual of rounding up all my race gear and hoped for the best.


Since the 10 mile gun time was scheduled for 7am, and I had carpools to catch that started at 5:15 (with a few pickups along the way), I had set my race morning alarm for 4am.  I figured that would give me enough time to eat a bit of breakfast, let my stomach settle, and get dressed before I had to go.

Of course, the above schedule was all in theory.  Reality was that I jumped awake at 2:30 on race morning thinking I had over slept, and then never managed to get back to sleep afterwards.  So by the time the 4am alarm went off, I was none too happy.

With no other option at that point, I just rolled out of bed and prepared for the day.  I ate a bowl of cereal with almond milk, had a small serving of cottage cheese, and starting drinking water.

After a while of dawdling around the house and letting my breakfast settle, I eventually dressed and headed out to make my first few carpool pickups.  A few ladies in my gym's run club live fairly close to me, so I picked them up and drove them out to my friend's house in Eden Prairie.  Once there, I parked my car, and her husband drove us down town to drop us at the race start.

Due to the lack of traffic on the roads ANYWHERE in Minnesota at 5am on a Sunday, we were surprised to be running a bit ahead of our anticipated arrival to the race start.  The plan was to arrive about 6:30, but actually ended up there just after 6:00, which proved to be quite a nice surprise: when we arrived that meant ... no porta-potty lines!  Taking advantage of the opportunity, a few of our group ran over to the wall (seriously, there were TONS of toilets available) and returned in no time.  After taking care of that business, we wandered around for a bit, and then eventually headed to gear check.

Gear check for this race is quite the well oiled machine, and good thing given the literally tens of thousands of participants.  I wish I had taken a picture, but simply put: they line up UPS trucks literally down an entire block, and you look for the truck that starts with the first two digits of your bib number.  IE - my bib was 30472, so I needed to look for truck number 30 (for bib numbers 30,000-30,999).  When I did find my truck, instead of using my gear bag, I ended up in a huge debate - it was much colder than I had anticipated, and I wasn't sure I really wanted to drop my jacket and gloves.  Finally, making a game time decision, I opted to risk being annoyed by my jacket rather than freeze pre-gun, and I kept all my gear.

With that decision made, it was about time to line up for the race, so we headed to the corrals.  Corrals were laid out fairly uniquely, definitely in a way I had never seen at a race before.  The lay out ended up being kind of cool, as the X shape allowed us to see each wave depart as they were released.

 I was in corral 4 with two of our group, so we anxiously watched each corral depart.  And then ... it was time.  Corral 4 was called forward towards the start line, the announcer counted down and ... we were off!


Knowing this was going to be a hard and long race, I tried not to think about too much in the first few miles and just started nice and slow.  I do remember thinking that the course was too much like many of the Minneapolis races I've run in the past, in that we ran down towards the stone arch bridge and around that general area of downtown.  I tried really hard not to be disappointed by this, but it was a little hard not to be, as I had really high hopes that this course was going to be beautiful and new to me.  Oh well, not a big deal.

The typical noob runner behavior of course reared its ugly head during this segment of the race, and I got cut off several times by people zig-zagging in front of me.  I was trying not to be annoyed by it, but it is a bit frustrating when people do this (especially when you end up passing them not even half a mile later when they've burnt out, as they fired out of the gate too fast).  Several times I even took full on elbows, which really annoyed me; I was fairly certain they were intentional.  To that I say: hey runners, here's a tip - if you want to be in a faster corral, get yourself qualified ... or don't self seed at the back of the pack and then be surprised when you have to wade through a heard for the first 2 miles!! 

OK, rant over.

Some time around mile one or two, we passed through a pedestrian tunnel that really proved to be a HUGE funnel for the race.  There was a considerable log jam both on entry and exit of the tunnel, and again much pushing and shoving ensued.  Knowing I was going to eventually need a walk break anyway, I chose to just let the people around me swear and push, while I leisurely strolled along the far edge.  Interestingly, I got out of the tunnel just about as quickly as the pushers, using considerably less energy in the process.  Heh.

After the tunnel, we crossed a bridge over the river and headed towards the University campus.  At this point, the race started to shake out some, perhaps due to the first of several decent hills.  Ready for another walk break, I chose this portion of the race to walk the uphills and run the downhills.  I just love running down hill, by the way.  It makes me feel like my feet are spinning out of control like the road runner or something.  Beep Beep.

Aside from the people pushing each other and hills, now that I look back on it, the first four miles of the course weren't particularly memorable for me.  I do recall catching some odd smelling sniffs here and there ... possibly due to stagnant river or sewer water.  But other than that, it was pretty much your standard downtown running environment.  Oh, with the first water stop at around mile 3ish and then about every mile or so thereafter.

To make matters even less interesting, the first 4ish miles of the 10 mile course are much different from the Marathon course:

As a result, there weren't many (if any) spectators, which was kind of a bummer for me (since I like to people watch).  However on the plus side, the race courses do eventually merge.  So, once we hit the point where we were running the same course as the marathoners, things got much more interesting from a ... things to look at perspective. 

The first thing I recall seeing after the merge was the giant inflatable "wall", which was at mile 20 for the marathoners (just before mile 4 for us).  I know that wasn't really set up for us to enjoy, but I did get a kick out of it none the less, since I pretty much felt like I hit the wall at that point as well.  With my lack of training, running 4 miles right now is a lot, so my body was already starting to really feel fatigued.

The down side to seeing the wall was - I still had 6 miles left to go, which was over half of my distance.  I tried not to think about that too much, and instead focused on the yetis that were dancing just a quarter of a mile down the road.

Yes, I said yetis.  As in plural.  Somewhere around what was mile 4 or 4.25 for us, two grown what I am guessing to be men were dressed in full on, white fur yeti costumes with blue rubber faces.  They had a "chaperone" of sorts with them: a grown woman in regular street clothes wearing a white furry ski cap with ear flaps that had a yeti face on it as well.  The three of them were dancing to non-existent music.  Before 8am.  In the middle of the city.

Makes my unicorn costume and twinkie distribution of previous years seem almost normal.  LOL!

Not long after the yetis, I passed several VERY NICE mansions houses along the river, and was stunned to learn that apparently for these people, marathon spectating is a huge drinking occasion.  Several houses had set up spectator areas in their front lawns to host groups of no smaller than 20-50 people plus. One house in particular had filled their yard with a giant bounce house and one of those huge white, outdoor tents that you typically set up for a wedding.  That in itself is quite remarkable, but it isn't even the most ridiculous thing ... because inside the tent was a 3 table long buffet set up for what I believe was to be a bloody mary bar.  Said table included 5 or 6 giant bottles of Belvedere vodka, a bunch of what I assumed was tomato juice bottles, and the entire rest of the tent was filled with tables and chairs to host a party.

Yes, I'm talking bottles like this:

I couldn't help it.  As I ran past, my jaw dropped and I shook my head in disbelief.  What a sight!

Eventually, the course fed from the road along the river onto Summit.  It was here that I saw my favorite sign of the race: a young boy, who was small enough I doubt he could even read his sign, stood holding a giant piece of tag board and cheering with his mother.  The sign simply said: GO WEIRDO.

Seemed appropriate enough for me.  Ha!

Not long after that sign, around the six mile mark, I pretty much hit my limit.  Though I had been trying to maintain run/walk intervals up to that point, I had hit one hill to many, and I threw in the towel.  Rather than try to keep pushing to run, since my knees were starting to talk to me, I decided to just walk at as fast a clip as I could maintain.

Somewhere during that time, I would guess between miles six and eight, I began to discover that there are a couple flaws in running a major race near to the old neighborhood where you grew up.  First of all, you will run past the junior high you attended so long ago, you hardly remember what it looks like inside (Ramsey Jr.).  Second of all, you will likely pass spectators on course who are wearing lettermen jackets from the high school you attended ... with graduation years on the arm that are 20 years your junior.

I couldn't help but laugh when I actually saw a young girl with a 2019 graduation year on her arm.  Since I graduated from the same high school in 1999, I blurted out "I graduated 20 years ahead of you from the same school - go Highland!!" and then snickered.  I'm sure she thought I was just some weirdo old lady, but whatever.  It gave me something else to think about for at least half a mile.

By mile eight I was trying to think positive, being that I knew some of my gym friends would be there to cheer, but too late - I had already began the death march.  Everything on me was hurting.  Everything.  My knees, my back, my hips ...

I also had some fears about needing to pee and not knowing if I could wait until the finish line.  And I really, really knew that though I wanted to - I simply could not trust that fart.

My friends at mile eight did their best to pep me up, but I was hurting so bad I just waved them off and kept going.  Now my goal was clear - only two miles left.  Just focus and do this thing.

Between mile eight and nine, things were pretty much a blur.  Finally when I hit nine, I could tell myself - just one more mile.

I was so miserable at that point that I just wanted to be done.  So despite the feeling that I had nothing left in me, I started picking up run intervals again.  They were slow.  They were short.  But they got me here:

At which point I knew, I had less than half a mile left.  And it was mostly downhill.  So I picked up and ran as best I could, the rest of the way to the finish.  Where, I might add, I was beat by the first marathon wheeler.  Who had 16 miles on me, and I started close to an hour ahead of him.  Check out the video evidence.

After clearing the finish line, I hobbled down a bit to a group of folks awarding finishers medals, and one of these hefty bad boys was slung around my neck:

After that, I continued down the chute to find myself being offered bottles of water, chocolate milk and an assortment of fruit and other snacks.  Once I filled my hands with all that I could carry (and cared to eat), I followed the signs to the next stop - finisher's shirt pickup.  There I turned in the coupon on my bib for this:

By this time, I was kind of in a post race haze.  Though I met my friends, I totally spaced out and missed the fact that there was a post race beer garden and a coupon on my bib for one free beer.  Truth be told, I think the real reason I missed that was that I was mostly concerned about getting more food ... as our post race party plan included a short, free trip on the light rail to the Victoria stop (racers rode free on race day by showing their bib), and then a short walk to CafĂ© Latte for the likes of this:

Once we ingested all the calories we burned on course via cake, my husband picked the four of us up and we headed home.  During the ride, of course, we hashed out performance specs ... all of my friends were much better than mine, of course.  But regardless, here are mine, just because.

And of course, before we could call it a day, one last group photo to mark the occasion.

TC 10 mile, official finishers!!


And that's the story of how race bib #66 joined my collection.  Here's to another race soon... which despite my misery this week, is already scheduled for this coming Saturday.  Thankfully it's just a 5K this time!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Runners Must Persevere

The Marathon.  Twenty six point two miles. 

A spectacle of human accomplishment.  A feat that is accessible enough that anyone can train for and attempt, yet difficult enough that few ever do.

An event that brings people together of all backgrounds, all income levels, all nationalities.  A sport that is often dominated by the minority of the world.

A day where runners, despite their personal goals, will not hesitate to throw those goals out the window to support another runner.  Sometimes even to their own, major personal detriment. 

During the 2010 Zheng-Kai marathon Jacqueline Nyetipei Kiplimo
from Kenya saw a Chinese elite disable athlete struggling to drink water. 
 She ran with him from the 10km to the 38km mark aiding him through all the water stations.
This slowed her time — she came in 2nd in the race — not only costing
her the win but also the $10,000 cash prize.

An event where, just two years ago in Boston, terrorists showed up and set off bombs.  The result of which included three deaths and close to 300 injuries - some so grave that emergency amputation was required.  Yet despite those losses, some of those very people who were injured turned around and repeated the marathon yet again.

This weekend is the Twin Cities Marathon.  And unfortunately, despite all of the above triumphs, a local group has chosen this event as their platform to protest.  Their goal is to shut down all runners.  To prevent all of the above from being completed.

While I am not running the Marathon, I am competing in the 10 mile.  And regardless of my distance category, for the life of me I just cannot understand why anyone would choose to interrupt an event that encapsulates all of the above.

But knowing the running community, I also question if these protesters will even stand a chance.  Because we're talking about people who will run in sub zero temperatures, people who push themselves to true physical failure and actually have to crawl to the finish, people who will literally shit themselves and still keep going.  I just can't see people like this letting a few folks standing in the street stop them.

So this weekend, I say - go for it, runners.  You've pushed this hard.  Don't let a little set back keep you from finishing.  Just push a little harder ... and you'll get there.  To the finish you deserve.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Women Run the Cities 10K 2015 (Dropping Down)

Women Run the Cities 10 mile 10K (6.2 miles)
Average Pace 13:59/mile

So.  Let's be real before I even get into this recap. 

Training for a race is hard.  It isn't always fun.  And for me, lately, running has been a drag.  I'm way slow compared to what I used to be, I get frustrated because of it, and I find I've lost my joy in running a little bit as a result.

I started out training for this race thinking - I got this!  I am SO going to be ready to run a 10 miler in 2 months.  But somehow, in the last few weeks, training got away from me ... and I showed up on race morning for this 10 mile race with my longest run to date being a 5 miler.  Which I completed two weeks ago.  DERP!

With a hard reality facing me, and knowing I have to do this again in one week (thanks to winning the TC 10 mile lotto - whoo hoo!), I made a decision that was a bit disappointing to myself.  I decided to participate in the race, but to remove the timing chip on the back of my bib, and drop down to the 10K distance.

It was a hard decision to make, and felt a bit defeating to my ego, but ... them's the breaks.  You don't train, you can't race.

And so the story begins.


You may recall that I ran Women Run the Cities last year and had a great time.  Since the race was so well organized in 2014, I was really looking forward to running it again in 2015. 

Before I go too far, I have to say -  sometimes, having run a race in the past and repeating it can be a bit of a sand trap.  I say this because, if you had a really good time one year, your expectations can be unrealistically high the following year.  Lucky for me, Women Run the Cities is not one of these instances.  My repeat in 2015 was every bit as fantastic as I could have anticipated, despite my own personal disappointment in my training.

With this being said, at 7 am on race morning, I found myself picking up a friend in Eden Prairie and driving off to the Fort Snelling light rail station.  Taking advantage of the park and ride service provided (for a price, of course), we hopped the train to Minnehaha Falls park, happily avoiding the parking log jam that is that area on event day.  By 7:45 we had parked at the station, caught the train, walked to the event, and found the third person in our party.  Easy-peasy.

Having plenty of time prior to the gun, the three of us spent some time roaming the pre-race party.  There were several booths with freebies - everything from protein drinks to drop bags to massages.  After looking around for awhile, we decided the freebies weren't really worth dealing with (either carrying on course during the race, or putting into gear check to retrieve later), and decided to flee from the ever growing crowd.  This meant heading down into the park, closer to the falls.  Which look like this, in case you've never seen them.

Since the park shelter near the falls offers - gasp - flushing toilets, it proved to be a handy last second, pre race stop.  And since the third person in our party had done packet pickup for us on race day, prior to me arriving, I decided to utilize gear check.  No point in running a race with a brand new shirt.  (I also ditched the jacket I wore pre-race, since it seemed warm enough to manage a tank top during the run ... go RaceRaves, and InkNBurn chameleon capris, lol.)  Gear check was even more efficient than packet pickup, so I was in and out lickety split.

Ok.  Well ... I guess this means time to line up for the race, then?

The race was scheduled to start at 8:30, so at around 8:15 or so the three of us meandered over to the corrals.  Lucky for me, we were all doubting our training.  So, we decided to self-seed towards the back of the pack.  I think, if I recall correctly, the nearest pacer to us had an 11 or 12 minute mile pacing balloon.  I saw that and thought ... works for me!

Some time around 8:30, there was lots of hub-bub at the front of the line.  It was hard to tell, but perhaps they were singing the national anthem?  I dunno.  I do know that some time around 8:35 (or maybe a hair earlier), we finally crossed the mat. 

And away we go!

Having started in the slower section, the first mile seemed both easy and hard at the same time.  Easy, because maintaining a 12 minute mile isn't too hard to do even on lack of training ... but hard because it feels like the next 5 billion miles after that are forever away time wise.  You can just about imagine my surprise, then, when we came across the 1 mile marker in about 7 minutes.

What?  I couldn't even!  My GPS said we had barely cleared 0.5 miles.  How could this be?

Some runners behind us started rejoicing and remarking that - wow, that first mile felt really good, and gee they were excited because this run was going to be a great one for them.  I hated to burst their bubble, but I informed them that everyone's watches around us were reading at a half mile.  As we neared closer to the sign, we realized that ...  Hahahahaha!  Just kidding.  This was the "1 Mile Turnaround" sign.  Blerg.

Prior to the 10K and 10 mile race, at 8am they hosted a 1 mile run for young girls.  Apparently that was their turn around point.  Good for them. Boo for us.  Man, that felt like false advertising.

Despite the let down, the three of us continued on at a conservative pace, chatting along.  Finally, when we cleared the first mile ... for real this time ... I told my friends I was going to take a walk break and waved them on.  From there on out, I was on my own.

Not having any real plan, after a brief walk break, I picked back up an ran with the goal of getting to mile 2 before taking another break.  Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed not much further down the road, since the first water stop was around 1.5 (very odd, and in my opinion, much too early).  Not knowing when my next chance for water would be, I decided to take the stop, slowing to walk so I could drink.

After that, I pulled on my headphones, and started "the game".  You know the one.  Run to a set point, take a walk break, repeat.  Choosing random intervals based on feel, I bumbled through the rest of the race using this method.

Somewhere around what I would guess was 2.5 miles, there was another water stop (why?!  why were they so close together at the beginning and so far apart at the end?!)  Again not knowing when I'd have another opportunity, I took a drink.  It was also at this point that the 10K and 10 mile split.  Hanging a left, I went up and over the bridge and continued on.

Ironically, after crossing the bridge, I found myself running in a crowd of women and listening to a song about how there were "too many dicks on the dance floor".  I couldn't help but snicker the whole song as I ran, knowing that there was hardly a dick to be found in the crowd. 

Not long after that, everything started to turn into a blur.  Rather than think about how much further I had left to go, I tried to focus on my run/walk intervals (which became more and more walk, less and less run).  By the final mile, I was pretty much just walk, and was dawdling at that.  If I recall correctly, as I cleared mile 6, my watch beeped out the current mile interval was 17:XX. 

Eeesssshhh.  That's no good.

On the plus side, I had rounded the final corner of the course and was on the home stretch back into the park.  Though I didn't have the finish gate in my sites, I knew I didn't have much left to go, and decided to put my best effort into running to finish.

And with much spectator cheering all around me, I made it all the way to the mat.  Huzzah!



As I cleared through the finisher's chute, I was given a BOTTLE of water (yes, a bottle - thank god!), and awarded a finishers medal.  Not to be outdone by previous years, this year's medal was equally as cute and featured both a small sun catcher portion and a little dangle at the bottom.


Upon clearing the chute, I was dumped out to a food tent, where I was disgusted by the lack of sportsmanship.  Just in front of me, a more elite runner who had gone back to gear check and retrieved her duffle bag, was pumping the bag full of Lara bars off of the post-race buffet.  She literally took multiple fistfuls.  How rude.  Thankfully, the volunteers were on it and scolded her immediately.  I was so glad to see that.  There is nothing worse than coming in as a late finisher to find out a bunch of jerks ahead of you were greedy pigs, taking three of each item and leaving none for you.

Upon taking my FAIR SHARE of snacks, I headed back to gear check and retrieved my things.  Then, since I had time to kill while my 10 miler friends finished the course, I wandered the vendor booths from the beginning of the day.  And, after some inner debate and realizing the shirt tent still had plenty of leftovers, I went and exchanged my shirt for one size up (I figured since it was a long sleeve, having a slightly larger size might be nice for layering).  The staff there was exceedingly friendly, and happily helped me with the exchange.

The shirt: essentially a maroon version of last year,
with the half zip moved to the side of the neck instead.

Not long after, the rest of my party made it through the finish.  With a fist pump and a few cheers, we celebrated that they managed to run the entire distance.  Then, after they had a chance to enjoy their FAIR SHARE of snacks, we said our goodbyes and headed for home.


And that's the story of how race bib #65 joined my collection.  All in all, Women Run the Cities proved to again be a well run race with volunteers who are not only enthusiastic but also well equipped to do whatever job they are staffed to do.  In fact, I don't doubt that I'll end up running this race again next year.  Though ... the distance may be debatable.  LOL!

Here's to another race soon! 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Recipe: Delicious Way to Use Fresh Tomatoes - Roasted Tomato Base

Ah, summer.  Though it's coming to an end, I am still basking in its glory thanks to my ever fruitful vegetable garden.  For some reason, my tomato plants just don't want to throw in the towel this year, and about once a week I get a healthy 5-8 pounds of romas ripe off the vine.

As you know, I love to can tomatoes, so you think I'd be thrilled to have this ongoing harvest.  But here's the dig ...


That many jars of canned tomatoes took about 50 pounds of fruit.  So getting a meager 5-8 pounds from the garden just doesn't make it worth while to set up another round of canning.

So ... the challenge comes.  What to do with so many ripe tomatoes?  And how do I use them all up with out (1) getting sick of them by the time my next round is ripe to harvest and (2) avoid letting them get over-ripe in the process?

Luckily for me, about a month or so ago I came across a recipe on a woman's blog (who writes mostly about canning).  After reading the recipe, I thought it appeared to be easily scaled to accommodate any size tomato harvest, and figured it would be the perfect solution in helping me consume all this excess produce.  So I thought - why not give it a shot?

Although the recipe was originally written with the intention of it being soup, I took a guess that would work as tomato base for anything - marinara, pizza sauce, and so on.  So I tried it for the first time over labor day weekend while making eggplant parmesan, and I have to say ... loved it!! 

Needless to say, when I had another bountiful harvest again this weekend, I made a second batch for pasta dinner Monday night.

The roasted flavor of this sauce is just wonderful, the ingredients list is exceedingly basic, and using fresh harvested tomatoes you just can't get much healthier!!  As an added bonus, this pairs fantastically with zucchini noodles (if you're so inclined).



Roasted Tomato Base



  • 5-8 pounds Roma tomatoes
  • One large onion
  • Olive oil
  • Oregano
  • Salt


1. Wash tomatoes.  Remove top stem and any imperfections on skin.  Slice in half, and using a spoon, remove the inner seeds.  As you near the final 1/4 of your tomatoes, turn your oven on to 425 degrees.

2. Lay the tomatoes on a cookie sheet, cut side down/skin up.  You can opt to slightly overlap the tomato slices in order to fit more on per sheet, but make sure that at least 1/2 of each tomato's skin is exposed to flame.

3. Drizzle tomato skins with olive oil and place in oven.  You should end up with 1-2 cookie sheets of tomatoes baking at this point.

4. Peel the onion, then slice it into 1/4" thick rounds.  Place on a separate cookie sheet, drizzle with oil, and place in oven.  Be careful when opening the oven once the tomatoes are inside!!  The excess moisture cooking out of the tomatoes sometimes creates a hot steam build up inside the oven, and can scald your face when the oven is first opened.  I recommend carefully venting the oven open and standing to the side for a second, first, before looking inside.

5. Allow vegetables to roast for about an hour or so (timing isn't scientific and will vary depending on the tomato's thickness and how you stacked them on the sheet). 

**Tip - if you are serving this with pasta, start your water to boil after you vegetables have been roasting for about half an hour.  That gives you 15-20 minutes to bring the water to a boil, and 10 minutes or so to cook the pasta.** 

Make sure the onions are further from the heat source than the tomatoes, as they will brown much more quickly.  Keep a careful eye on the onions after the 30 minute mark - you may need to remove them well ahead of the tomatoes to avoid burning them.  Tomatoes are done roasting when they have cooked down and skins are caramelized.  Mine, when done, looked like this:

6. Remove vegetables from oven.  Using tongs or similar, remove onions from cookie sheet and place them in the bottom of a blender.  Then add the tomatoes (with skin still attached) on top of the onions.  Be careful to leave any watery liquid from the tomatoes behind on the tray - you may dispose of it after it has cooled. 

7. Once all roasted vegetables are in the blender, season lightly with salt and oregano - the roasted flavor doesn't require much for additional seasoning.  Place the lid on the blender and pulse until the vegetables reduce into a smooth sauce.  Be careful while blending, the sauce inside will be hot.  You may need to vent the lid once or twice in between pulses to let out built up steam.

8. If you are serving over pasta, serve immediately - while the sauce is still hot.  If you are thinning with stock to make tomato soup, move the sauce into a larger pot and stir in heated broth - again, serve immediately while still hot.  This base also keeps fantastically well in the freezer, so don't be afraid to pack it down into smaller containers to save for future meals.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Minor Shift

Hm.  I've been writing this blog now for a little over two years, I think.  Maybe close to two and a half. 

During the time that I've written this blog, I've always tried to keep on a set posting schedule - Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  I set that arbitrary rule because I realized when I started reading others blogs (well before I ever thought I'd start this one), nothing bothered me more than to really get sucked into someone's blog ... only to find out a few days later that they had built up a string of 5-6 posts and blew through their story telling wad ... so they'd disappear for a month straight.  Or longer.

When I set up this blog, I told myself I didn't want to be "that guy".

Regardless of my original goals, in the last few weeks, I've gotten a little busy with other things.  Which has left me a bit deprived from my usual hunt and peck for info that I want to post on this blog.  Not that this is a bad thing - it's good to keep busy.  But it also means that for me, right now, keeping up with 3 posts a week is a bit much.

So starting today, and for the foreseeable future, I am going to change my blog to a 2 post a week set up.  Check in with me each Tuesday and Thursday for news.

And who knows ... maybe I'll make it through this busy spell and switch back to a 3x format.  We'll see!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Suds Run 5K 2015 (Wearin' Jeans)


Suds Run 5K (3.15 miles)
Average Pace ??:??/mile

*untimed course, forgot my gps watch

Last weekend, if you had seen me in the morning, you would have never known it was a race day.  I slept in until 7, got up and showered, and even dried my hair.  Then, with the unseasonably cool weather, I put on a long sleeved shirt, a sweatshirt and ... jeans. 

Yes, I just said jeans.

Ok, so let's set the record straight before I go any further.  I wasn't so much "racing" this event, as I was participating in it with family.  See, we had all registered together for this race earlier in the spring with the intention of most of us running (and a few walking with strollers at the back of the pack).  And then, something terrible happened and ... well, let's just say cancer sucks.

So, like all good families do, when race day arrived - we decided to pull together and walk this race as a team instead.  Regardless of the situation, we were just going to have fun.

Which meant that, at 10am on a cool Saturday morning, we found ourselves here.

Of course, I was reveling in one additional special treat.

I guess when you say beer, my husband will do just about anything.  Heh.

Though the starting area was crowded, things seemed reasonably well organized prior to gun time.  Most of us stood in line for 21+ wristbands (this is a SUDS run, after all), which went quickly and without event.  A few in our group did day of packet pickup, and although that line was a bit longer, it still went just fine.

Well, fine except for the fact that our shirts looked like poop.  Literally.

Ugh, so ugly.  Oh well, I guess I can't love them all.

After everyone in our group was properly bibbed and banded, it was just about time for the gun, so we headed on over to the starting area.  There we saw markers for various paces, starting at 8min/mile or better and working backwards to 12min+.  Though the race was fairly casual, with no assigned corrals, people seemed fairly respectful of the system and looked to be choosing appropriately.  With the seeding system as it lay, we found ourselves behind the dogs in the walkers/stroller section. 

Despite being in the very back corral, we were pleasantly surprised by a timely release, and before we knew it we were on our way and crossing the Stone Arch Bridge.

Though I've done several races downtown that utilize the Stone Arch Bridge, I have to say that this course was slightly more interesting than many I've done before.  Maybe not so much in the beginning, but later on the course does filter into Boom Island Park and through the trail system there, which is really a beautiful wooded treat.

Along the course we all happily chatted and tried to keep the munchkins in the stroller entertained.  As we walked, we were pleasantly surprised that the cool morning was turning out to be a lovely and sunny day.  In fact by the time we cleared mile one, I was regretting wearing a sweatshirt and long sleeved shirt, and was secretly wishing I would have had the poopy race t-shirt with me to change into on course.  But I didn't, so I just shed my sweatshirt and hoped for the best.

By the time we cleared mile two, we were definitely ready for the on course beer garden, and happily herded in to have some fun.  The dedicated area was surprisingly large, below is only about half of the space captured via the panoramic feature on my iPhone.

Of course, it's not a party without some photo evidence.  Notice the "Duck, Duck, Gray Duck"' costumed group behind us.  It was fun to see people get into the spirit and have a little fun.

Surprisingly, though we walked and were definitely at the back of the pack, we were neither the first ones in, nor the last ones out of the beer garden.  Maybe the nearby band encouraged people to stay an loiter, I don't know.  But after the beer cups were emptied, we were ready to be on our way.

The final mile (or what was left of it, since the beer garden was well past the 2 mile mark) was a very pleasant journey along the Boom Island trail system and then a short jaunt back to the starting line.  Before we knew it, we were near the finish. 

A few in our group had started to lag behind, but my husband, myself, and the two who had originally planned to run with me excitedly held hands and raised them in victory as we passed through the finish line.  There, we promptly hustled over to the snack table and - screw bananas - filled our pockets with mini nut goodies.

After everyone cleared the finish, we headed into the park for our free post race lunch and second round of beers (our bibs included 2 beer tickets each).  Lunch, by the time we got there, consisted of your choice of a veggie burger or non-veggie brat and a bag of plain potato chips.  Beer options included a few light versions - Miller and maybe MGD?  I don't recall as I don't drink water when I want beer, lol!  Plus, there was a gluten free option, and then Smithwick's or Finnegan's.  In addition to this bounty, there was a water station and a root beer station as well, though the root beer had run out well before our arrival - a huge disappointment for any kids walking the course (perhaps they should have required people to cash in their drink ticket for it instead of just pumping it freely?)

As we feasted, we enjoyed watching the costume contest, and also people in the "suds pit".  Which eventually proved irresistible for a few in our party.

Finally, after lounging in the grass and enjoying the sun for maybe an hour post race, it was finally time to call it a day.  So, we said our goodbyes, and headed for home.


And that's the story of how race bib #64 joined my collection - here's to another race soon!