Thursday, June 27, 2013

Recipe Day

I don't eat a lot of meat, although sometimes a nice barbecue bacon cheeseburger does call my name, so I'm always looking for alternative sources of protein.  I had the idea to make a lentil spaghetti sauce, though I've never had a lentil in my life.  Sam made it and it was maybe the best pasta I've ever had.

Quinoa Pasta with Red Lentil Sauce

Note: To make it vegan, use veggie broth and subtract the cheese.  Still tastes amazing.
Serves 5.  Or just you with a bunch of leftovers.

Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 an onion, diced
1 small shallot, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
30 oz. of tomato sauce (we used Muir Glen organic tomato sauce)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper
1 cup of red lentils
1 tablespoon of chopped basil
1/2 cup of chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup of red wine
1/2 cup grated parmesan

Saute onion, shallot, and garlic in olive oil
Add tomato sauce and cook on medium until heated (about 5 minutes)
Add salt, pepper, red pepper, basil, chicken stock, wine, and bay leaf
Add lentils, cover, and heat until lentils are cooked through (about 10 minutes)
Add parmesan

Optional: Remove bay leaf and put sauce into the blender for a smooth consistency.  The lentils should be fully blended and the sauce will be thick. Pour mixture back into sauce pan and heat on low until served.
Post blender
Cook 3 cups of quinoa macaroni pasta for approximately 8 minutes in boiling water
Drain pasta
Toss each serving of pasta with 3 tablespoons of sauce
Pour sauce to taste over the top of each serving

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Running the Mountain

"Don't take this for granite."
- David Pengelly

The Pengelly Double and Single Dip is the only race I've heard of that gives out growlers instead of t-shirts.  It's because you're going to need it.

2013 Pengelly Double Dip Races, 10 Years Old and Not Getting any Easier

The Double Dip is a half marathon that covers ground on both Mount Sentinel and University Mountain.  Also, there's that little matter of a 2700 ft. elevation gain.

The Single Dip, which I ran, is a 10K that starts with a short run to a steep climb up the face of Mount Sentinel.  The view of Missoula is beautiful, but you have to get there first.

Mount Sentinel
This was a race I had to do some training for.  I would make mid-week attempts at running up Sentinel, followed by running up and down stairs to recover.  I did okay if you didn't count the wheezing at the end.

I was nervous enough about this race that the night before it I actually had the thought, "I could just not go."  But I had registered and worked pretty damn hard, so I was going.  This was going to be my bragging rights race.  I'd never run it before and had no time goals.  My goals were this: finish the race and don't fall down.

Sam and I got to the starting area on a sunny and bright Saturday morning.  I have a bad time psyching myself out so I thought, "Crap, it's gonna be too hot, I should have worn shorts," and "Good Lord, everyone here is in really good shape."  A woman walked past me in a sports bra and shorts while I hugged my new growler and hoped to get through this.

The Dip races are smaller than a typical road race because we're insane and also because the Double is capped at 200 runners.  So when we lined up I was suspiciously close to the front.  Before I knew it, the gun fired and we were off.

I ran to the base of Sentinel too fast, always my problem.  But I more than ate up time on the power hike up the trail.  I could hear the wind and the sound of people breathing hard.  One of the runners had a watch that talked; it told her (and everyone nearby) the distance and current pace.  Most of us were quiet, concentrating on the grade of the trail and our next step.  The guy behind me tripped and fell and we all paused to help.  He dusted off his knees and laughed.

Once we made the turn that would take us to the fire road and the longer trek down the mountain, people sped up.  They started talking, laughing.  The volunteers pointed us in the right direction and cheered.  I thought, "Okay, that was the hard part.  Just five miles left to go and I didn't have a heart attack.  This is good."

I tripped on a rock, but stayed on my feet.  I reached the rolling fire road that cuts a downward diagonal across Sentinel and there were butterflies on the trail.

This was the point where I finally hit my zone.  My nerves were gone and in its place was overwhelming gratitude.  I get to live here and I get to do this.  This is why I run.

I tried to remember everything.  The way the breeze felt and the happy look of the volunteers at the water station.  On the final downhill I learned the funny, half scary feeling of "controlled falling."

When I got off the trail, it felt weird being on a road again.  The breeze dissipated and I got hot.  It slowed me down a little, but I didn't mind.  When I got to the last hundred yards, I was spent.  It was a good race.

Closing in on the finish

The Pengelly Double and Single Dip honors David Pengelly, an accomplished climber and fellow Missoulian who passed away in 2003.  I like to think that his favorite saying, etched into a rock on the Pengelly Ridge Trail, was about gratitude.

I was grateful to run this race and for those few miles where I could stop taking it all so seriously.  I was grateful that I only tripped once and that the volunteers told us exactly which way to go because I worry about getting lost.  I'm grateful for the people that make these races happen.  And I'm grateful for the growler, which Sam has enjoyed very much.

The growler is mine, the beer is for Sam
 Next up - The Missoula Half Marathon in July!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Running on the Fly

I've been asked for a lot of running advice lately and it made me realize a few things: I actually have advice to give, I should have probably asked for advice when I was a beginner (I pretty much still think I am one), and I should write some of it down.  This might actually help someone, a lot of it is ridiculous, and all of it is true.

1. Get fitted for shoes!  

I can't stress this enough.  I'm lucky enough to live down the street from The Runner's Edge, THE store in Missoula for runners.  If there isn't a specialty store near you, I'd recommend doing this wherever you buy your shoes: try on several pairs, talk to the employee helping you and tell them what kind of running you do/want to do, let them measure your feet, and run around outside in the shoes before you buy them.

2. Dress like a highlighter.

If you run on sidewalks, through intersections, in the dark/in the pre-dawn, the colors of your clothes should come with exclamation points.  Yellow! Blue! Orange! Fuchsia! Please don't hit me with your car!


3. Pay attention to your surroundings, especially when those surroundings have engines.

I've been nearly hit by cars more times than I can count.  (See here for one example).  It sucks when you're really in the zone, but it's important to pay attention for both yourself and the driver.

4. Your mantras will be a little embarrassing.

Mine is "Strong like an Amazon."  It's from Buffy.  I love that show and I don't mean ironically.  I have a couple others; you might have a few as well.  They might be silly, ultra-serious, whatever.  They help me get through that last mile and that's pretty awesome.


5. You may become a gear head.

I want neon pink calf sleeves, a new sports bra, and a Garmin so bad.  A year ago, I didn't even know what compression gear was.  Runner beware: the swag rocks.
6. Side stitches hurt.  Intestinal cramps hurt worse.

That's all I really need to say about that.

7. Ruts happen.

Sometimes you won't be feeling it and that's okay.  I'm talking about when it lasts more than a day or even a week.  I spent this whole winter in a running rut; I just couldn't get out there.  I don't even know what I did instead.  Which brings me to:

8. Mix it up!

Run different distances and try new routes.  Enter a race or set a new goal.  Run some hills.  If you don't have hills, run some stairs.  If you don't have stairs, I can't really help you.

9. The cost of entering races adds up.

But I've never experienced anything that compares.  I love race day.  I have my clothes ready the night before (sometimes they're clean, sometimes they're clean'ish).  I like sitting down to a breakfast I've planned out like I was storming the beach at Normandy.  I like pinning on my number and heading out to the starting line.  I love/hate the nerves and how sometimes I can't sleep the night before.  I love the energy of the crowd, volunteers, and other racers.

Seriously, it's worth it.

10. Runner's high is a real thing.

Why do you think we're all so freakin' happy?  Mine makes me feel like a badass, like I just broke a world record, beat Shalane Flanagan, ran past all my jealous exes, and ate french fries with no consequences.

There you have it.  Ten seemed like a good round number, but I have a feeling I could go on for a while.  So, let's call this "Running on the Fly Part One."  Adios for now!