Mainely Running
Join me as I train in Maine and race all over the world in pursuit of my goal to run a marathon on all 7 continents

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Born not to run

I must admit that I never thought of plantar fasciitis as a real injury. “Big deal, your heel hurts,” was my general opinion. Then, I got my karmic revenge- I got plantar fasciitis. It’s been more than two years, and I hardly remember what it felt like to walk and run pain free. I’ve done a round of cortisone injections, physical therapy, switched shoes, got orthotics, slept with a horrible foot brace to keep my foot flexed, and shivered multiple times a day as I iced my feet. And yet every step still hurts, a lot.
Some part of me knows that stopping running and high impact activity might resolve it. But it would be stopping for a long time, and I have trouble taking a single day off. Working out is my sanity, in a life where I spend 14 hours a week on a plane and 10-12 hours sitting at a desk. Not only is running the most physically and mentally satisfying, it is often the only practical option, as I’m away from home and need to work-out in the early morning before the gym is open. The daily sweat session is my absolution from guilt about what I ate, it is my peace from the constant bombardment of e-mail and phones, it is a chance to remember who I am. I can’t give that up, even if it means living in pain.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter in Maine

I haven't been to Maine since Christmas, which is a long time for me to be away. I don't ever realize quite how unbalanced my life has become until I go home. It is like going back in time. The TV stays off, the laptop stays off (mostly), and the cell phone has limited reception. Amazing how much more time there is in my day. Time to run in a bracing westerly wind that feels like it's blowing my soul clean. Time to tromp around the yard in my rubber boots looking at the first buds of spring. Time to get dirty in the garden. Time to lay in bed in the boathouse under a thick pile of blankets and listen to the surf and the foghorn. Time to go to a memorial service for a strong, courageous woman who became a mother to an entire island in her 105 years on earth. Time to bake and cook and then sit down for a long Easter dinner. Time for a sunrise Easter service and coffee and crossword. Time for music- guitars and piano and 3 part vocal harmony. Time to remember what really matters.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Mainiac Confesses (And a vegetable tart)

Even though I've lived in MA for about 9 years now, I pretty much always to claim to be here temporarily and against my will. My this weekend, I actually realized I was happy to live in Boston.

Saturday we did a scavenger hunt pub crawl. Normally I'm not a huge pub crawl person, it's just standing around chugging beers. This was a BLAST! We were running all over the city, figuring out clues, taking pictures, asking questions.... I actually learned something about the history of the city too. Of course, I also fell down stairs in front of about 300 people- not because I was drinking too much, but because I was so intent on finding the next clue that I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing.
This morning, I paid for the pizza and beer indulgences of yesterday with a double whopper of spin interval followed by turbo kick. Then, I headed into the marathon expo. It's so cool to have the whole city taken over by runners. It was also like torture because I'm not running! I still got my feet taped up by a physical therapist, because my heels have just been horrible lately. Hopefully some extra support for the next few days will help.

For dinner- a grilled (which turned out to be roasted because the grill was out of propane) tart.

Summer Vegetable Tart For Any Season
3/4 cup almond meal flour
1 1/4 cup unbleached white flour or whole wheat flour
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons agave nectar (or honey)
1/4 cup fig jam or spread, (add 1 tablespoon water to thin out slightly)
2 1/2 to 3 cups yellow onions, julienned (about 2 medium sized onions)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 red bell peppers
4 Japanese or Chinese eggplant (or 1 regular eggplant)
3 zucchini squash, medium sized
1/3 to ½ cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled (Laura Chenel brand works well)
4 or 5 fresh figs, quartered (If you don’t like figs, don’t use them.  Substitute your favorite berry jam for the fig jam.)

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Place flours in a bowl and stir to combine.  Put in a food processor with butter and honey.   Process until dough comes together and begins to pull away from the sides of the food processor.
Gather dough into a ball and form a flat disk.  Place on the bottom of a buttered 8- or 9-inch tart pan.  Press from center outward to cover the bottom of the pan and then build the dough evenly up the sides, about 2-inch or so.  (This is a rustic tart thus beauty doesn’t matter.)
Bake crust for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove and let cool a little.

While the tart shell is baking, heat a fry pan over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the onions, turn heat down to medium and cook, stirring occasionally until onions are soft and limp, and begin to lightly brown and caramelize (about 15 to 20 minutes).  Set aside and let cool.

Grill Vegetables:
Cut peppers into 4 or 5 strip like pieces, disgarding the ribs, seeds and stem.  Cut zucchini lengthwise into ¼-inch thick strips.  Do the same with the eggplant.  Place vegetables in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Grill vegetables until you have grill marks and they’ve all softened up.  Remove to a plate to cool.

Of course, in my case the grill was out of propane. So I roasted the veggies in the oven at 450 for 30 minutes. And while they were roasting I decided to clean the grill- which was much more than a 30 minute project, and I ended up looking like a chimney sweep.

Fill the Tart:
Put the caramelized onions in the tart and spread so you have an even layer.  Drizzle the thinned out jam over the top of the onions evenly.
Layer the vegetables on top, anyway you wish.  Distribute the crumbled goat cheese on top of the onions.  Spread figs over the top of the tart.
You can serve the tart warm by covering with foil and warming in the oven  for 8 or 10 minutes if desired.  It is also great served room temperature.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Running leads to poor decisions

I had a wonderful, wonderful run this morning. I was just going to do my standard 6 miler, but it was so nice to be running in bright sunshine and on familiar roads, that I just couldn't stop. I did 9 and could have kept going if I didn't have so much to do at home.

I felt so good, and since it was already 11, that I decided it would be a good day to skip the coffee. NOT a good idea. I went out to do errands and felt like I was wading through mud. Right now, I'm struggling not to face plant on my keyboard. It is probably more a result of the late night and time change, but I blame the lack of caffeine.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Granted I've been working in California all winter and spring, so I've been exposed to warm sunshine, but there is something about spring at home that just makes me so happy.

Despite getting home around 2:30 am Thursday (thank you Jet Blue), I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30 Friday morning to head up to Waterville to ski. It was a glorious day. The snow was still awesome, and the sun was bright and warm. Plus, it was $1. How can you loose? We got our runs down to about 3 cents a run.

Then Saturday, I was looking for any excuse to be outside. I ignored all my indoor chores, and swept the deck, hung out laundry and blankets to air out, and did my nails on the deck. So when it came time to make dinner, I decided to fire up the grill. I was planning on making Naan, because I'd seen a recipe in the globe. I love Nann, it's basically why I get Indian food. They had it cooked over an open flame on the stove, but I figured I could use the grill. It worked great!

Stovetop naan

Makes 6 rounds

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 teaspoons sugar
7/8 cup milk, heated until warm to the touch (30 seconds on high in a microwave)
1 egg, beaten to mix
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1/4 cup plain yogurt
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour (I used half whole wheat)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
Extra flour (for shaping)
Nigella or cumin seeds (for sprinkling, optional)
2 tablespoons butter

1. In a small bowl, stir the yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar into the milk. Set aside for 15 to 20 minutes. The mixture should become slightly frothy.

2. In a bowl, stir together the yeast mixture, egg, oil, and yogurt.

3. In a food processor, place 3 cups flour, salt, baking powder, and remaining 2 teaspoons sugar. Cover and pulse 5 times. With the motor running, slowly pour the yeast mixture through the feed tube and process until the dough pulls away from the sides and forms a rough ball. The dough should be soft, but not sticky. If it is too sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, up to 1/2 cup.

4. Transfer the dough to a large bowl and cover with plastic. Leave to rise in a cool place for 2 to 3 hours or until double in size or refrigerate overnight.

5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Punch it down and divide into 6 equal pieces. Form each into a ball. Set them aside on the counter, covered loosely with plastic wrap. Rest for 30 minutes.

6. Working with one ball at a time, press it flat with your fingertips and palms. If you are using nigella or cumin seeds, press them into the dough now. Roll it to a 1/4-inch-thick oval that is about 8 to 10 inches long.

7. Set the dough on a wire cooling rack. Place it on the grill, turned to high. When the dough starts to bubble, place the rack down on the burner and, using tongs, lift an edge to see if the surface has started to brown. When it is lightly browned, flip it with the tongs. Repeat with the other side. The dough should cook about 1 minute on a side.

8. Rub the naan lightly with butter and transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining dough.

Connie Pollard. Adapted from Sanjay Thumma.
© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What would Thoreau think?

I think Thoreau would approve of me watching the sun rise as I run in the morning (even if I do listen to my i-pod sometimes), but I wonder what he would think about me watching the sun rise out of the window as I ride a spin bike and listen to loud techno music. Is it any less of an authentic experience?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Great Bay Half

After getting on the plane Thursday night in my flip-flops and t-shirt to find it snowing furiously, I was pleasantly surprised to wake up Sunday morning to find it sunny and 50. I was signed up to run the Great Bay half marathon in Newmarket, NH, and even better my room-mate was running the 5k, as was my friend Argentina (her first race ever!). Nothing better than having company. Argentina tried to bail at the last minute, but I manage to convince her to convince her at the last minute. We all need some tough love once in awhile.

I ran the course blind. I had no time expectations and didn't want to know what was coming. It felt strange to be at a start with thousands of people, after just 99 of us in Antarctica! I was hot before we hit the first mile mark so I decided to sacrifice my long sleeve shirt. Luckily, when I back 5 hours later it was still in the same spot. I love New Hampshire! After that I just cruised. The course was rolling hills, but after Antarctica I have a new perspective on hills. We had a nice 3 mile stretch on dirt roads (but no mud!), and then ran by the ocean for then next 5 or so. The scent of salt air instantly invigorates me. We then did an out and back section for the final 3 miles. I missed not knowing everyone I passed and getting high 5's like in Antarctica.

I finished in 2:05. Not a PR. I probably am in PR shape, but I didn't choose to go for it. I just wanted to enjoy the course, and I did. I felt good the whole race. More importantly I felt good to enjoy the rest of the day, including free Smuttynose beer at the finish, and then my flight to California and drive to Santa Rosa.