Monday, March 27, 2017

Running Shoes and Vegetarian Jambalaya

Ever since I quit racing regularly (which means I'm not 'in training' all the time) I don't pay as much attention to my running shoes.  A couple weeks ago while running my shins and left knee started aching, which is a pretty good sign I need new shoes.  When I got home I took them off and turned them over to look at them.  I was shocked to see how worn they were.  My left shoe, which is the side I pronate more (also the foot I fractured), had a spot on the bottom where I think I could have punched through with my finger. Oops!  I started looking for new shoes, specifically looking outside of Asics because I wasn't thrilled with the last iteration of the Cumulus.  I don't know why shoe manufacturers have to constantly tweak good shoes - it's very annoying.  After trying several different kinds, I still ended up with Asics, but this time I chose the Nimbus 18.  I used to wear Nimbus when I marathoned but they're expensive and once I started running less, I went down one notch to the Cumulus, which were not quite as expensive and were fine for the running I was doing. When I went out for my first run in them Sunday, I was  delighted at how cushioned and supportive they were.  I'd forgotten that Nimbus are so much more cushioned (thus more $).  My whole run felt fabulous.  I love getting new running shoes! Also, I have now activated the gear feature on my Garmin so I can keep track of the mileage.

Our weather has remained unseasonably cool and gray.  Over the weekend it rained off and on as well and felt really raw.  When the weather is like this I don't love to eat salads which are sort of a staple lunch for me so I'm always looking for ways to fit in more vegetables.

I went through my "recipes to try" file and found one for vegetarian jambalaya, looked at it quickly and thought I had most of the ingredients so decided to make it for this week's lunches and/or a side dish for dinner.  Once I got into making it, I realized some of my ingredients were frozen where they called for fresh and vice-versa.  I also forgot one thing completely, but no matter this came out absolutely delicious!  Probably my favorite thing about this recipe is that you don't have to finely dice anything, all the vegetables are chunked!

Helen's Vegetarian Jambalaya

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 stalks celery, cut into chunks
3 carrots, cut into chunks
4 shallots, peeled then cut lengthwise into quarters
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/4 cups converted white rice
1 1/2 cups canned black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
8 ounces frozen okra, cooked for 3 minutes in the microwave, remove and drain

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the celery chunks, carrots and red onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper, thyme, paprika, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the paprika is toasted, about 1 minute.
Add the rice to the skillet and stir to coat. Add 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer until the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.
Lift the lid then scatter the black-eyed peas and okra over the rice. Continue to cook, covered, until the rice is cooked through, about 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, 3 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork stirring in the okra and black-eyed peas. Season with salt and pepper.
Makes 8 generous 1-cup servings: 129 calories; 4 g fat; 63 mg sodium; 20 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber;  4 g sugar; 4 g protein
Notes:  I used my enameled cast iron dutch oven for this recipe. Make sure to use converted rice (like (Uncle Ben's).  Using regular long-grain rice will cause it to be sticky and not a nice fluffy mixture. The original recipe said this is four servings which I guess might be true if this is all you're eating.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Everything Imploded But It's a Relief

You know that saying about the best laid plans, right?

A couple weeks ago, right after I put my goals out into the universe, my weight had a huge upswing, which really messed with my head. I griped in an email to Shelley, who acted like the BIF that she is:  supportive and sympathetic.  She also restated why she gave up the scale several years ago.  Which I totally get... and which I have now done, at least for a while.  Because followed by the huge upswing, I lost a tiny amount and then had another big gain.  That's my wonky thyroid.  This is a been there, done that situation for me and I know the best and kindest thing I can do for myself is to stop trying to track my progress via the scale.  I am continuing to eat well and exercise regularly and eventually my thyroid will simmer down and I can go back to using the scale should I choose.

Those few weeks were so stressful and I began to dread my weigh-in.  Honestly, it has been a huge relief to just let it go.


My mother-in-law died this past Tuesday after a 22-year diagnosis of Alzheimer's.  Her type was slow moving and she was able to be at home until 6 years ago.  Over the last 6 years she degraded much more quickly - ultimately not remembering anyone and becoming mute and still.  A few weeks ago, she stopped chewing so there was no more feeding her.  She was quite willing to drink so she was fed high calorie drinks until this past Friday when she just stopped swallowing.  By Sunday, Hospice had been called in to keep her comfortable and she died very early Tuesday morning.

While the family is grieving, they have really been grieving for years. So, in some ways, her death is a relief.  It is truly inexplicably horrible to have a person you love there in body, but not in mind or spirit - to watch them slowly devolve into nothingness.  I wouldn't wish 22 years of that on anyone.

Because relatives are traveling from down south, her service won't be until a week from today. Several people have mentioned how long that is to wait, but for this family, in the scheme of things, it's not long at all.


I know I also mentioned about a couple races I'd decided to sign up for, the first of which was a quarter marathon.  Well, just as I needed to ramp up my mileage to prepare to run that distance, our weather became completely uncooperative.  Winter, which should have been over with roared in at the end of February and has stuck around.  We should be having temps in the 50's right now and it has been in the 30's along with relentless winds that have given us feel like temps in the teens.  Oh, and we had several snow storms.  Which meant my longer runs have had to be done on a treadmill.  Not the best way to train for a road race.

Even though I started thinking I should maybe just not run this race as it seemed like the training for it was just stupid hard for no reason, I just pushed through and kept on.  At one point a couple weeks ago I mentioned to some friends that this race was allowing a deferral or transfer if you requested it by March 24th and of course they all cheerleaded, "You can run this no problem! Who cares if most of your longer runs have been on a treadmill!" Etc., etc. You'd think at my age I'd have learned by now to pay attention to possible warning signs but nope, I just barreled on ahead.

When my mother-in-law died, the decision was made for me.  Because of the timing of her services, I will have a house full of company and many family activities Wednesday-Sunday of next week and the race is Saturday.  Yesterday I contacted the race director to find out what my choices were:  Defer to 2018 , or run a 5K or half marathon put on by this same race director. The 5K will be held when I am on vacation and I have no desire to run a half marathon at this time, so I deferred until 2018.  Who knows if I'll even want to run it then but that was basically the only choice except just not running, which might still happen in 2018.  We'll see.

But here's the thing.  As soon as I had deferred that race, I felt a huge surge of relief.  I can't even explain it properly but I suddenly felt free.  I still have the 10K in May so let's see how that goes.

It's odd how life is sometimes - you make your plans then everything changes.  I think that's one reason why I generally don't put goals out in the universe.  My experience is that once you do that, God laughs.  This time around, it's all a relief.