Thursday, July 29, 2010

grilled pizza goodness

I don't know about you, but in the summer I absolutely hate using my oven. I try to cook as many meals as I possibly can on the grill. It's so fun to be outside grilling up some dinner while my kiddos play in the baby pool or slide on the slip and slide. I can't tell you how many outfit changes we have each day in the summer, or how often I run inside to grab something and come back out to find two totally nude boys splashing around in the pool. I have apologized to all of my neighbors and tried to keep them dressed as best I can, but kids will be kids. Heck, on some of those really hot days I wish I could be naked, too (although I think my neighbors would be a little less okay with that).
Last night I made the most wonderful pizza...on the grill. It is so yummy and easy, and because the pizzas are small personal sized, they can be custom-made. That means I get to have my veggie-loaded pizza, my husband can have his meat-covered pizza, and the kids can have cheese.  I always make my dough homemade. It is really easy to do, and can be made in the morning and left to rise all day, so when it's time for dinner, you have perfectly bubbly, airy crust. I use 3 cups of flour (you can mix wheat and white), 1 tsp of yeast, 2 tbsp of olive oil, 2 tbsp of kosher salt, and about a cup of hot water. I pop all the dry stuff in the cuisinart and slowly add the liquids while it's pulsing. Once a dough ball forms, knead it out a bit and let it rise for hours in an oiled bowl. Too easy.
For my pizza last night I used a caesar dressing for the sauce, tomatoes, basil, zucchini (because this time of year EVERYTHING should have zucchini in it), mushrooms, and a 4 cheese blend of shredded italian cheese. I would totally have put feta on, but I was out and too lazy to go to the store. It was delicious. For my husband's pizza I used deli salami instead of pepperoni, roasted pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, and I snuck in some zucchini. my kids like raw veggies better than cooked, so they got cheese pizza with zucchini slices on the side. We were all in heaven.
The trick to getting perfect grilled pizza is flipping the dough. I brush olive oil on th dough lightly and put it on the grill for 5-7 minutes. Then I flip it and add the toppings. The result is a pizza that can handle fresh toppings without getting horribly soggy or burning the cheese. The grill marks on the dough are pretty beautiful, too. Once you see the bottom browning and crisping up and the toppings looking soft and melty, you know it's ready.
Have you ever had grilled pizza? What's your favorite kind?

Monday, July 26, 2010

not the brightest bulb sometimes

Do you ever have those moments when you realize you are a complete idiot? I had one today. As you may recall, the last Saturday I was excited to meet up with a new running club and knock out ten miles. I got up early and went to the meeting place...and waited...and waited...and nobody showed up. I was a little discouraged, but I was up and dressed, so I decided to go ahead and run by myself. And I ended up rocking a pretty sweet ten-miler that incorporated some wicked hills, which I need because Nike is a hilly little course!

Although I felt great about that, I was still a little saddened that no running club people were there to run with, so I went to the website again today to see if maybe I had missed something.  Guess what? I went to the wrong meeting place! Grrr...I don't know what I was thinking!  I think we will be back at my in-laws house this weekend, so I am going to try to meet them again. This time I will actually go to the right place, though!

Today was the first day of my marathon training. I logged three miles on the treadmill (which I will never do again unless I absolutely have to) and lifted. This is the first time I have ever really lifted since High School a zillion years ago, and I am not loving it. I know lifting is really good for you, but it is so time-consuming, and so much of it is just sitting around waiting to do the next set.  I bet once I start seeing results I will like it more, though. My marathon buddy, Jayme, loves lifting and swears by it. 

Tomorrow I knock out some sprints.  Woo hoo!

Friday, July 23, 2010

group runs and ratatouille

This weekend I am going to be staying at the in-laws house. Since my marathon training starts on Monday (yikes), I really need to get a good ten mile or so run in on Saturday. Usually when we visit I just run by myself for three to five miles, but this time I am going to try something different. I am going on a group run with the local running club. I have never done anything like this before, and I don't know a single soul on the running club, but I think it will be fun. I am not sure what the pace of the group is, so I emailed and hopefully will get a response today. I certainly won't be hanging with a group of 7 minute milers; but I also don't want to run twelve minute splits, either. I'm really hoping this is a fun experience, and it will make me want to seek out and run with other clubs when I travel. Running is a social activity for me, and so a group run appeals to me.
Yesterday I made dinner for the first time in weeks. Since hubby is a teacher, he is off this summer and is doing the cooking. I appreciate it, but am growing a bit weary of brats and hamburgers! We had grilled chicken, lentils, and my favorite, ratatouille. This is the perfect time of year to make it, as the squash and eggplants are coming into season. I like to make mine in the same style as the movie Ratatouille. It's so pretty that way, and the veggies get so tender and delicious. My kids ate the lentils like they were candy, which is good, since we will be having a lot of them during my training.

I'm also hoping to finish my book. It is getting a bit long at this point, as the last few chapters have been dedicated to selling the world on the barefoot running idea. I'm sorry, but I'm just not sold on it. Plus, the book really paints a picture of Nike as being pretty evil, and I like Nike. I have really enjoyed the book for the most part, and will finish, but it's getting a little long for me.

What are your plans for the weekend?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

detox time

I am down to my last week before I officially start training for Nike.  For this week I am just continuing to build my miles, incorporate a sprint workout (which I totally HATE but know will be good for me), and watch what I eat. I'm off the fast food, the potato chips, the cocktails (well, not totally off the cocktails...but I have cut down quite a bit), and am really focusing on consuming the right kinds of foods. I already remember from the last marathon that this can be tricky, since I am a pretty busy person and good food is usually not fast. I plan to combat this by preparing meals in advance (at least always have a whole grain carb of some sort on hand) so that I can simply reheat if time gets tight.
One more thing that I am adding to this training schedule is two days of weights. I did not do any weight training last time, and I think that is ultimately what led to my fatigue during the last marathon (well, that, and the fact that I was at about mile 22 of my 26.2).  In fact, I am having my FitCamp instructor put together a strength schedule for me to do twice a week.  I know me. I will not do any weights if I don't have a schedule to follow. I just don't love them. Maybe after I have been lifting for a bit I will start to.  For now, though, this is much easier for me, and I will do it.
The last time I ran in 3:48.  This time I will finish at 3:30 or below.
I'm almost finished with my ultramarathon book. It is incredible. Makes me want to run all the time. It's probably just what I needed before starting my training. I'm getting pretty motivated.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I am reading the most incredible book right now. One of my husband's softball buddies, and a fellow marathoner, joined the Peace Corps (how cool is that ?!?!), and he left the book for me.  I started reading it last night, and am halfway through already. I can't put it down. 

What is this book, you ask??

It is Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen, by Christopher McDougall.  I am, of course, a subscriber to Runner's World Magazine, and so I recognized his name as a regular contributor. What I did not realize, however, is a running book, Anthropological ethnographic encounter, and novel, all wrapped up in one.  Plus, the writing is great.

Even better, in the part I have read, the strongest runner yet is...get this...a woman. Awesome! She is right in the middle of a major trail race now, and I hope she finishes. I found myself running out of breath with her and bending over on the uphills.

This book makes me want to run. But probably not 100 miles. I'll stick with my pesky 26.2. 

Would you ever run an Ultramarathon?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

conversations with Paula Radcliffe and Tiger Woods

...Well, not really. Yesterday I logged 5 miles, the longest distance I have run since completing my marathon. I am trying to get geared back up to start training for the Nike marathon, and so I am slowly increasing my mileage over the next few weeks. Since I haven't been running in forever, and the runs I have done were without my nikeplus and ipod, I haven't logged anything for over a month. I think nikeplus missed me, because after my run, Tiger Woods congratulated me on completing another 250 miles. Then, when I plugged my ipod in, Paula Radcliffe came on to congratulate me for running 500 miles on my nikeplus so far.

I think that is a very cool thing, and very smart of Nike to motivate runners that way. As you may recall, a lot of my runs during my marathon training did not synch, so I wonder how many miles I have actually run?  For a while I tried to keep track on, but it just got to be too much work logging everything all the time. That is why I love the nikeplus. When it works (about 75% of the time), it logs all my runs and keeps track of my mileage for me. It's one less thing I have to do, and I like that.

All that being said, there are a few things I would enhance to improve the functionality. For example, after my 26.2 I really wanted to look back over the miles and see what my pace was for each mile. I was unable to really break things down, though, since all nikeplus shows you is what your pace was at the time you crossed each mile, and if your pace changed. It doesn't give a split time at all, and that is what I was really looking for.
Also, it would be cool if nikeplus could take the data from my runs and allow me to create customized training plans that incorporate pace in there.

Saturday I have a race, and I can't decide whether to do the 5k or 10k. I know I need the miles; but it would be fun to get one last fast race under my belt before I start back to so much distance. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

4th of july fun

Happy belated 4th of July! I hope you all did something fabulous for the weekend. It was so fun having the holiday fall on a just seems more fun that way, doesn't it? Birthdays, Christmas, you name it. I would rather have them fall on a Saturday or Sunday than a Tuesday.  Of course, my birthday is usually a week-long celebration (tee-hee), but it is still nice on a weekend. I figure if I have to keep having birthdays, I might as well get to stretch them out!

For the 4th this year we went to St. Louis. Let me first say that St. Louis is a fabulous place to visit. If you have not been, I highly recommend it. There is so much to do for people of all ages.  It's impossible to get bored there.  The first day we went to Six Flags. I hadn't been to an amusement park since I was a teenager (many years ago), and as soon as I walked through the front gates, I was excited. Just seeing all those amazing roller coasters, hearing the music playing all over the park, and smelling all of the yummy (albeit horribly expensive and unhealthy) food from the vendors made me want to board the fastest coaster right away. The best part...there were no lines. I don't know how this was possible on the July 4th weekend, but we literally walked on every ride. Amazing. My favorite ride was the Evil Kneivel roller coaster.  It was a classic, wooden coaster, and it was fast and FUN. There was also an amazing section for little kids, with a water feature and some log rides and teacup-like rides. The kids all had a great time, and it was a great day.

The next day was just as full, as I went to the Stone Hill Winery in Hermann, Missouri with my sister in law and some of her family members for lunch and a wine tour. The winery is German, and so the restaurant food was quite meat-intensive (and by this I mean sausage). They had a "sausage sampler" appetizer that my husband would have cried over. I did not have it, but instead opted for the bacon, ham, and cheddar quiche. It was yummy, but I would have rather had some veggies in my quiche instead of meat. I ordered a side salad to counteract it.

The winery tour was really neat. If you haven't ever toured a winery, I would highly recommend it. It is so interesting to see how wine is made. It is such a rustic science, and a really beautiful sight to behold aged wooden casks in mold-lined cellars. After the tour we got to taste some of the wines, and the clear favorites were the sweeter white wines. I tend to like Chardonnays and there were not any wines like these available. The whites were more like a Reisling or a Gewurtstraminer; very sweet, but on that hot day, they tasted great! After the tasting, we all split a bottle of the Vignoles and listened to the live band that was playing in the courtyard.After the winery, we went back to my SIL's house for a catfish fry, which are apparently Missouri tradition. My brother in law fried up catfish nuggets in a cornbread batter, and they also made some eggplant and other things. Fortunately, they also had a veggie tray to accompany all that fried food. It was delicious. I ate and drank way too much that day. It was totally worth it.

Finally, it was the 4th! We spent it at Lake St. Louis, a private lake that my SIL's grandparents live on. We spend the afternoon boating, swimming, fishing, and having a great time. We ate burgers, hot dogs, tons of different salads and sides, and watched the fireworks once it got dark. It was a really great day and weekend, but my poor family is still tired from the weekend!  We would do it again in a minute.