Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Runner's High

I go out the back door, see the sliver of moon, and take off for my morning run. Step step step step step step. Soon the coolness and dark lull me into a trance. On and on I go making the rounds and finding peace before a busy day ahead. Far away a train whistles and brings me back. I look up and see the beauty, then I pick up my speed and run towards home into breaking dawn. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Electronics Failure and Detox Salad

I was determined to get out early to do my long run last Friday after the previous week's heat. Summer running, is summer running - hot & humid - but there are ways to combat that some, and getting out before the sun rises is one of them.  I knew if I could get out in time, I'd be down by the beaches in about 45 minutes and would be able to see the sun rise, as long as there wasn't full cloud cover.

I got up at 4 and made myself eat a packet of instant, pre-sweetened vanilla, cranberry and pecan oatmeal because my runs are beginning to reach the point where I need a little something in order not to bonk, especially with the warmer temps when my body feels like it's working so much harder.

I had pre-filled some water bottles and frozen them, and added two that weren't frozen to my Fuel Belt, then took off.  I was about a mile into my run and my Garmin would not stop beeping so I finally stopped and looked at it.  Imagine this:  it's dark, but I need glasses to see the Garmin so I put on my prescription sunglasses.  I'm sure one of the cars that passed me thought I was a moron.  I was dismayed at what I saw: "Low Battery." The most likely cause is that when I thought I turned it off after Thursday's walk, I hadn't.  I figured it wouldn't last the planned 8-ish miles, so I put on Runkeeper.  Unfortunately, a couple miles later, I discovered Runkeeper had stopped and saved a 1 mile run.  Aaaaaagh!!!  I put it back on and hoped for the best because I knew my Garmin was going to die.

Sure enough, I remember looking at my Garmin at 4.1 miles and it was still on and then the next time I looked it had shut itself off.  Even though I had Runkeeper going, I felt frustrated for the last few miles of my run.

In the end, I was able to cobble my time and pace together by taking the first 4 miles from the Garmin and the last 4 from Runkeeper. I ran 8.3 miles in 1:46 which is about an average pace of 12:50 - much better than last week.  I'd still like to get down to a flat 12 minute mile for these long runs but maybe that sort of pace is out of my reach now.  We'll see.

Here are a couple pics I took, including the aforementioned sunrise.  Are the hydrangeas blooming in your area?  Around here they've pretty much not bloomed and everyone is complaining. As I came near the area with all the flowers, I actually saw one. Which is why I call this first photo, "The Lone Hydranger"  Ha!  I crack myself up.

Breaking Dawn

Here comes the sun!

After my run, I went home, ice bathed, then got dressed and went grocery shopping.  Once home from that, I decided to head for the beach.  I threw on my suit, packed a nice lunch and plenty of water and spent 4 hours relaxing and enjoying the day. The weather was much nicer beach weather than the sweltering we experienced last weekend!

When I got home, I prepped dinner and decided to try to make a version of Detox Salad.  A couple years ago when we visited my sister, I discovered this Detox Salad from Round Swamp Farms.  I said then I was going to try to make it, but never did.  When we went back over last weekend, I went to the market to find that salad.  Honestly, I didn't really care about the cost, but because Mr. Helen was with me he pointed out how much I was paying for the small container.  As we came back home on the ferry I swore that I really was going to try to figure it out.

All I had to go on was the label showing the list of ingredients, but as a testimony to my years of cooking experience, let me just say, my version was a smashing success!  The reason I know this? Mr. Helen wanted to take a container of that to the beach when we went together on Saturday.  He preferred it over a sandwich, chips or the clam fritters that he often buys. He also said he thought my version was better but couldn't pinpoint why.

It's really delicious and if you like quinoa, you'll like this salad. I'm going to share what I did but honestly, I eyeballed a lot of this, except the dressing.  If you make it, you can do the same - look at both photos (old post has a picture of the salad I bought, this post has my own salad).

Copycat Detox Salad
my original copycat version of Round Swamp Farms Detox Salad

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1 1/4 cups cooked corn kernels (~ 2 ears scraped)
1 1/2 cups shredded red cabbage
1/2 bunch scallions, green part only chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
Generous handful of Baby Kale - or - Arugula

4 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
3-4 T extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. tumeric

In a large bowl, put the quinoa, corn, cabbage, scallions, carrots, and kale.  In a small container, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper, and tumeric.  Pour over salad ingredients and stir until well incorporated.

Recipe notes:

3/4 cup dry quinoa and 1 1/2 cups of water will get you 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
I bought a small package of the preshredded red cabbage, then threw it in my food processor to chop it a bit more.
I used 4 T of olive oil, but next time I make it I'm going to try 3 T.
When we took this to the beach, we put some leftover rotisserie chicken on top - delicious!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Tortuous Long Run and A Weekend Getaway

My sister, who lives in the Hamptons, offered her house to Mr. Helen and me if we wanted to come for a long weekend. She has been away traveling a lot and offered us several weekends to choose from so we could be there alone. It's a really nice home with a pool and set back on a cul de sac so it has lots of privacy. The issue that arises is that Mr. Helen has split days off - Saturday and Monday - so he has to be able to get vacation time for Sunday.  1. Hard to do this time of year with everyone taking vacations and 2. He's pretty dedicated to his job.  In other words, annoying.

We talked and talked and taled about it and finally I just said to him, I'm going.  You can come with me but I'm still going either way.  As readers of this blog know, I was not thrilled with staycation and I was thinking a long weekend getaway would be just the ticket.  So I started making plans to go alone. Talked several times with my sister about things to do and also, how I could get a long run in on Saturday morning, since I'd be traveling on Friday morning.

I got my reservation to go over on the ferry and was all set but then Thursday night Mr. Helen informed me he had worked the time off.  I think it was driving him nuts that I was going to go without him.  So, I had to change the ferry reservation and unfortunately, we couldn't get on until 6 p.m. on Friday because it was booked.  Since I now had to wait, I decided I would get up early Friday and go ahead and get my long run done since I'm not over confident of the running areas where my sister lives.

My plan was to get up at 4:00 like I normally do, and get out by 5 because of the heat and humidity situation.  If you didn't know, we've been in an extended high heat/high humidity stretch here, which is very unusual as normally we have cooling ocean breezes.  Well, I ended up staying up too late Thursday night and didn't even wake up until 4:45 so by the time I got out and running it was nearly 6:00 (I needed coffee and to make my Nuun for later, etc.).  It was also 78 degrees, 95% humidity, and 75 dewpoint and all those numbers would rise fast as the sun actually got up. Plus, instead of a body workout day or a rest day, I had run 5K the day before so my legs weren't really rested. But, I wanted to get it done so I decided I'd run partially by the ocean, hoping for a breeze, but also because that route has some shade for when the sun came up.  Long story short, it was brutal. But I survived it and have the photos to show.  I took pictures to keep my mind off the fact that I was dying lol.  Here's the photo story of my run.

I took a few shots of the sky when I first started.  I'm mostly in the dark on my weekday runs so it was nice to see the sun coming up, even though I knew it was gonna get hot!

 There were a couple of places I could turn back towards home and make the run shorter.  This was one of them.  I felt ok right here but really wanted to jump in the fountain!

I stopped in front of the repurposed fire station to eat some Shot Bloks.  This was about 4.5 miles in and I was starting to drag a bit. Lori and Debby, I took these pictures of flowers for you gardening gurus.

I just loved this King Hibiscus.  Photo below this one is the whole plant.

Shortly after the flowers, I thoroughly regretted my decision to keep going because by mile 6 my shoes were squishing, I had sweat so much.  Mile 7 consisted of way more walking than I intended and by this point there was almost no hiding from the sun.  I was drained but there was nowhere to go but home. Finally, I got home and immediately took my shoes off.  This is how wet my socks were!

Once I stripped off my socks, and took the insoles out of my shoes and left everything on the patio to dry, I went inside and got my Nuun slushie and headed for an ice bath.

Definitely not as fast as I've been running but this run was a get it done and survive it run.

Thankfully all I had to do after this was finish packing and wait to get on the ferry.  We arrived at Orient Point at 7:40 then had an hour drive to my sister's.  Even though we didn't get there until late, I'm glad we went because starting Saturday morning, the next two days consisted of sleeping in, lazing around the pool until noon-ish, then we showered and went into town, one day to walk around and the next to listen to some music.  Then back to the pool and relaxing and dinner and back to the pool until bedtime.  We stopped at a couple farm stands and did a couple leisurely walks for a bit of "exercise."  Honestly, these few days were far better and more relaxed than our full week off.  I arrived to this week feeling completely refreshed!

We really enjoyed the pool and the float.

The heat followed us.  So crazy for beach/coastal areas!

Sag Harbor is known for attracting mega yachts.  This wasn't even the biggest one we saw.

I had my own pool boy.

Mr. Helen was wearing his fancy ring that I bought him for our 20th anniversary.  He said, "Hey take a picture of our rings."

Bacon-wrapped filet, baked potato with sour cream and fresh chives, and caprese salad - the tomato and fresh mozzarella were from a farm stand down the road.  This meal would have easily cost us $150-$200 in a restaurant over there but we made it and probably enjoyed it even more since we were poolside in our bathing suits eating it up.

We had such a good time and this getaway was the perfect reward for that brutal long run.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Catching Up: Running and Other Summer Stuff

I am a Netflix/Amazon Prime/On Demand queen in the summer.  I love finding new shows and being able to watch them whenever, especially since I might go 2-3 days without looking at anything other than the news before I go out to run.  Early summer, I watched both seasons of Grace and Frankie, which I loved.  It was just great to see mature women as the stars of the show.  Next I picked Nurse Jackie.  That had 7 seasons and I just finished it wishing it would go on.  It's a fascinating look at addiction and I highly recommend it.  Lately, I've been watching OJ: Made in America, which is a documentary.  It's cool but sobering to look back at something I lived through.  Next?  I'm not sure, though I have Friday Night Lights, in my queue Mr. Helen might want to watch that one with me.


It's not only dark when I go out to run now, often the streetlights are still on when I get home, depending on the length of my run.  This always makes me feel a little melancholy as it signals the beginning of the end of summer to me.

Leaving for my run this morning:

One block away from home, lights still on:

August 2nd, about 10 minutes into my run it looked like this.  Sigh.


Gracie came here for a week's camp and I picked her up for an overnight and some fun.  We went downtown and shopped a little, visited the Nathan Hale Schoolhouse and the Whale Tail, then went to a concert on the beach Friday night.  She also talked Mr. Helen into taking her to the cheesy arcade where she won 361 coupons and promptly redeemed them for crap.  A grand time was had by all and we can't wait for her to move back here!

Jammin' to the sounds of the Beach Boys cover band! She's the only person who could get him to put those pink sunglasses on top of his hat lol.


Last week my left knee starting having an ache after every run and no Motrin or ice would help it. Right then I knew it was time for new shoes, even without counting mileage.  Aches and pains in my legs/knees has always been a sign.  I know what type of shoe I need but after reading reviews, decided I'd best go to an actual store and try them on.  While Mr. Helen had Gracie at the arcade, I took off for for Dick's to try them on.  I figured I'd come home and online.  Then I remembered I had a scorecard bonus check from buying the new treadmill and I'd gotten a bunch of coupons in the mail. Off I went and I'm glad I did because I needed a half size larger than I've been wearing.  Honestly, with every new version of a shoe, it's probably best to try them on because the tweaks they make can change the shoe!  Here they are: Asics Cumulus 18.  I happen to love the color too and best of all, after using my coupons and discounts, my $120 shoes cost me $30 out of pocket.  I'll take it!


Every year I plant tomatoes, basil and one other thing in pots on my patio.  This year I chose something called a "Salsa Pepper" figuring the tomatoes and peppers would come in at the same time and I'd make fresh salsa.  Well, even though I've watered (we're in a moderate drought), the tomatoes have been slow going this year.  Usually I'm overrun, especially with the grape tomatoes but I've had to continue buying tomatoes for my lunch salads.  Basil has been good but the pepper wasn't doing any better than the tomatoes and I couldn't figure out why.  The other day, I walked over to it to turn it and when I did, I saw this:

Ha ha!  Totally camouflaged, not to mention I was looking for red peppers and I guess whatever kind this is can be either green or red.  Time to make salsa, even if I have to buy tomatoes.


Wednesday morning while out running I suddenly felt my Garmin just fall off my wrist.  So I picked it up to put it back on thinking how weird that was and huh, I couldn't refasten in.  It was still sort of dark (and I wasn't wearing glasses) so I walked over to a street lamp and discovered it had literally broken in two!

While I would love to get a brand new Garmin, this one works fine, and the replacement strap was only $15 compared to $300 for the new unit.  I had to use Runkeeper on my phone this morning and while it's fine in a pinch, I'll be glad to see the new strap come in today!


Shelley and her post about spiralizing vegetables made me realize I hadn't done that in a while and also reminded me of my favorite Sundried Tomato Pesto.  I bought fresh zucchini at the farmer's market and made a batch of pesto and I was in zoodle heaven for lunches last week.

If you're looking for something different, give this a try. Because of the heart-healthy oils and nuts in the recipe, it's quite filling and the calorie values are not that much different from eating a large salad with dressing. You could also add some chicken to this and it would be delicious!

Sundried Tomato Pesto
(based on one from paleOMG)

3 oz. sundried tomatoes, packed in oil
1 cup walnuts
½ cup basil leaves, packed
juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves

½ teaspoon salt
½ cup olive oil**

Using a strainer-style spoon, scoop sundried tomatoes out of oil and drain a bit.  Put into a food processor or blender with the walnuts, basil, lemon juice, garlic and salt.  Process on high then begin to drizzle olive oil in. **Watch the consistency of the pesto, you may not need the full half cup of olive oil.**

Put in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.