Run, Cook, Eat!

Rain, Super-Easy Pasta Sauce.

It’s raining and soggy and thundery and gross in San Francisco. We generally don’t have thunderstorms here, which surprises me, having grown up in the midwest. But we’ve had 3 so far this year…two in the past week. And we’re in the midst of a prediction of 10 days of rain.

Since we’re in for constant rain for at least a week, I went out to do my intervals last night regardless of weather. It was pouring and miserable. On my jog over to the track I spotted another girl going for a run. I caught her eye, and we both laughed audibly at the sheer ridiculousness of what we were doing.

My intervals were pretty crappy – I couldn’t keep my pace, and the combination of weird rippling rainy track and my new shoes made all sorts of new muscles hurt. So I called it quits as soon as I could, only doing 2 of the 1-mile repeats at goal pace, and doing the third one at a tempo/long run pace.

I did this partially in order to go home and make PASTA SAUCE. In particular, the awesome-looking pasta sauce I’d spotted on Smitten Kitchen that I hadn’t been able to stop thinking about since she posted it on Sunday.

The sauce recipe is simple enough that I think I can convey it in its entirety in three sentences:

Super Easy Pasta Sauce

Cut a medium onion in half and remove the peel. Add 28 oz (one can) of whole peeled tomatoes, the onion halves, and 5 tbs butter to a pot, and simmer gently for 45 minutes. Salt to taste, remove the onion halves, and serve (with or without Parmesan) over noodles.

The End.

Easy enough. But did it live up to expectations? Maybe not. After seeing how many food bloggers (Smitten Kitchen, Orangette, The Wednesday Chef) raved over this simple recipe, I was expecting game-changing life-affirming tomato sauce. And it wasn’t.

But it was good. Solid. Simple. And incredibly cheap. It wasn’t overly acidic like many simple homemade pasta sauces, and the butter was pleasant. The onions seemed to sweeten it lightly. I will certainly save this recipe for more easy weeknight meals, but it wasn’t the amazing pasta sauce I was hoping to find.

At risk of removing the minimalism that makes this recipe so appealing, I might make a few changes next time. Next time I think I’ll add a few cloves of peeled garlic in the same manner as the onions. Including fresh herbs removes the pantry appeal of the dish, but some chopped basil on top would have been lovely as well.

But it was some good solid comfort food that made my rainy night better.

Sauce recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen who in turn adapted from Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking.


New shoesies.

I’m working on a food post or two, but for now, it’s just a weekly run report for you all…

It’s clearly been time for new running shoes for about a week, and putting that purchase that off until my paycheck came certainly impacted my knees. I didn’t have anything out of the ordinary scheduled in terms of distance, but new parts of my knees began aching, leaving me a sad hurt-y runner. Shoes are generally supposed to last 300-500 miles per pair, but I find that usually I can feel 300 miles approaching and I can’t wait much longer that that, or I risk injury or soreness.

Intervals at the track on Tuesday were a mixed bag. It was slightly humid, which slowed me down so I was having a hard time meeting my goal pace. But on the plus side, it was warm enough that the large training group of attractive men all took off their shirts during their workout. Not bad!! Eye candy makes the time pass more quickly. Skinny muscle-y runner boys with nice backs are very nice…

Friday I had a 6 mile tempo run. I was feeling really great, and once again settled into a 9:22 min per mile pace, which was faster than called for. (I LOVE this “chilly” San Francisco weather. It makes me fast!) It felt great while running, but as soon as I stopped I could feel the hurt within my left knee and below the kneecap. Normally it’s my I.T. band on my right leg that bothers me, not this, so I’m choosing to attribute this to my worn-out shoes. Ow ow ow.

After that, a trip to Fleet Feet for some new shoesies was definitely in order. I had been running with Asics Gel Foundation 8s and inserts for the last year or so, but the gentleman at Fleet Feet suggested Asics Kayano 16, which were a bit less on the control side of the spectrum. He said this choice would help with the I.T. band pain, since the control may have been overkill and CAUSING the I.T. band pain. These Asics Kayano 16 - New shoesies!were a step up in price from my previous shoes ($140 vs $90), but my knee health is worth spending some extra cash to preserve. The shoes feel good, and the design is fairly striking (for asics at least) – the laces curl around towards the instep to match the natural shape of your foot.

The shoes received their debut on my Sunday 10-miler. The shoes were nice and comfy and a pleasure to run in, but sadly the weather was rainy and disgusting. W joined me for 5 miles since she had a shorter run scheduled this weekend, but I kept plodding along in the rain to get up to the 10 I needed. The previous night for me involved work + reception + wine + far too little sleep, so I was really feeling icky, tired, and dehydrated the entire time. A good This American Life episode got me through. Long run, check. I’m looking forward to my knees returning to normal after a day or two off.

1,000+++ Miles Club
January 13, 2010, 12:59 pm
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Tall Mom 1,000+++ Club

I have two running goals for 2010: to complete my first marathon, and to run over 1,000 miles in one year.

Coincidentally, one of my favorite running blogs Tall Mom on the Run started a group to help people meet the goal of 1,000+ miles in 2010! I signed up, and I’m really excited that there will be plenty of other awesome runner/bloggers attempting the same goal as me.

Stealing the stats from Mel, 1,000 miles in a year is:

1,000/12 months in a year= 83.33 Miles per month

1,000/52 weeks in a year= 19.23 Miles per week

1,000/365 days in a year= 2.74 Miles per day

I’m up to 49.06 miles as of January 13. This rate should be sustainable, especially if I’m training for a marathon (or two?) this year, but please wish me luck!!

Barefoot and COLD.
January 10, 2010, 8:17 pm
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The last two runs of this week both were really satisfying. My schedule got messed up so I did my tempo run on Friday and my long run on Saturday. It was bad planning on my end, and I suffered for it a bit on Saturday, but it turned out OK.

Tempo run: I had one mile easy, 4 tempo miles, followed by one more easy mile on the schedule. JY joined me after work, and we jogged to the track together. Friday and Sunday nights seem to be the quietest at the track – no training groups – and we were two of maybe 6 other people there total. My 4 tempo miles were supposed to be 9:35-9:50 per mile, but I felt really great and I settled into a consistent 9:22 per mile for all 4 miles. I’m chalking it up to wonderfully cool weather, and using the first lane since the track was practically empty.

JY mentioned she’s curious about barefoot running, so we decided to take a brief barefoot jog on the grass football field in the center of the track. Fun but COLD! It was dewy, so by the time we made it to the opposite end of the field, my feet felt numb, like I’d been wading in the ocean. We hurried back to the other end of the field, dried off, and jogged the last mile back to the office. It was a fun experiment, but I’ll save it for a sunny Saturday afternoon next time.

Long run: 11 miles. W and I met up downtown, ran to the Ferry Building, down to the ballpark, back up to Fisherman’s Wharf, over the hill at Ft. Mason to Crissy Field and Golden Gate Bridge, looping back to end near Divisadero. My knees were complaining for the first few miles, but it got notably better after mile 4 or so. My marathon training plan called for 10:50 per mile, but we did more like 10:32 per mile, in anticipation of the half marathon in a few weeks.

Yoga: I made it to class on Wednesday this week as well. Nothing too exciting to report – all except two of us were new students, so we had a nice simple well-explained class. We only had to do downward facing dog for 2 minutes instead of the standard 5 minutes, which was oh-so-excellent.

Food: I’m still making homemade bread rather obsessively. This week included peasant bread (a bit of wheat and rye flour) and light wheat (light on the wheat flour rather than light on the calories.) I have lots of dough in the fridge, so J and I are going to try to use it to make naan with dinner tonight. I’m looking forward to this week’s CSA box, so I can try David Lebovitz’s potato leek soup recipe, to be paired with warm crusty bread.

Yoga & A Mess of Intervals
January 6, 2010, 7:40 pm
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Positives about this week:

1) I hung from ropes upside-down in yoga without vomiting.

2) I will be able to fit in all my workouts with no problems since J is busy with a conference.


1) I made a mess of my intervals yesterday and my legs are KILLING me.

So, I made it to my first yoga class of 2010, and it was a really great class! I left feeling better than ever. I started Iyengar yoga last year and it uses lots of props to modify poses and to help people of varying abilities get at different muscles.

We started out class by doing standing poses modified with a folding chair to lean on. By doing this, and following it with the corresponding pose minus chair, I was finally able to feel poses stretching my I.T. Band. For the FIRST TIME EVER.

I’ve asked a few yoga-knowledgeable people how to stretch the IT band, to no avail. This is the only time I’ve been able to feel it during poses, and it’s awesome. The trick, it turns out, was to start with my front knee slightly bent. Then I could feel the groin/hip muscles activating the way they’re actually supposed to during normal standing poses. Then you straighten your front leg while still maintaining the same muscle activation you just found. I really was able to feel my IT band stretch, and key in to that. This makes me enormously happy, since I’d had bouts of IT band related knee pain during the summer and fall last year.

The other yoga high point? I did what this person’s doing:

So this is a rope sirsasana. (I think in my class’ version, the feet are on the other side of the ropes and up against the wall. I dunno. I’ve only done it 3 times.) I had a substitute instructor make us (the beginner class!) do this a few months ago, and it was miserable. I felt really queasy, and the pressure in my right ear felt wrong, so I freaked out. The worst part of this pose is that it requires some arm and core strength to get in and out of it – arm and core strength I do not have. Our ropes are up against the wall, and I need an instructor to help me climb up the wall and onto the rope, then flip back down. So anyway, I was freaking out, and the substitute instructor COULD NOT COME QUICKLY ENOUGH to get me down from this hell. I left class feeling really angry and upset, which was totally new for me in regards to yoga. I didn’t come back for a month until my normal teacher returned.

Anyway, a month ago my regular instructor asked us to try it, and he took care of me. He let me out quickly, and it wasn’t too bad. Nervewracking, but not bad.

Last night we did the pose again, it was actually GOOD for the first time. My final problem with the pose – my legs throbbing from the ropes – was remedied when the teacher came over and tucked a blanket between my thighs and the ropes. Now the pose even feels GOOD! Yay!

In contrast to my yoga class, my run last night sucked. I’d planned to run after work with my co-worker, both heading to the track together where then I’d do intervals. But morning = fail, and I forgot my iPod, sensor, and armband, which left me with no way to do my intervals. So we jogged 3 miles to my house, which I counted as my warm-up. Then I went back to the track via the bus, in order to do 12 x 400m intervals, 90 sec RI. I thought the 3 mile warmup would be fine, since the training plan says 1-2 mi for warmup. But no. Three miles was way too much. By the time I got through 3 intervals, I knew I wouldn’t make it through the whole thing.  I ended up calling it quits after 10 x 400m, which I feel sort of bad about. Oh well! On to a better tempo run later this week…

Macaron Class
January 4, 2010, 7:35 pm
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On Saturday I took advantage of the massive free time that comes with the holidays and I took a macaron-making class at Baking Arts in SOMA. It was really wonderful, and definitely worth it to learn to make a moderately complicated treat. Richard – the instructor – was incredibly kind and a great teacher. I’d love to come back and take the croissant class soon. Some photos from my macaron-baking adventure:

Our sample to start the class.

Our wonderful instructor Richard.


Now we try it ourselves – here’s the almond flour, egg white, and powdered sugar mixture.

Next you add the meringue.

Piping practice.

Sprinkled with espresso powder and ready for baking…

I made this!

The macarons I made even have feet! Success!

My filled macarons.

Finished and ready to go home. No, I did not eat them all immediately!

First Run of 2010!
January 3, 2010, 10:00 am
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This Saturday morning I did my first run of 2010! This ties in directly with my main running resolution for 2010: to complete my first marathon. Gulp. That’s big, and I’m a bit scared.

As of December 31, I’ve decided to say it aloud: I’m aiming to do the Eugene Marathon on May 2, 2010.

My newish running partner W and I are both doing the Kaiser San Francisco Half Marathon on February 7, so I’d been following the Furman Institute half marathon training plan for the last month or two. I’m a big fan of their philosophy, since running 3x a week keeps it fun and allows recovery time, rather than making running something that gets in the way of other parts of my life. Plus, the speedwork and tempo runs they include have been a wonder at improving my pace. Since I was a few weeks into the Furman plan for the half marathon, I decided to skip the first few weeks of their full marathon training plan for beginners and start at the first 10 mile long run.

It was nice and cloudy and chilly out, so W and I had a nice run through Golden Gate Park to the ocean and back. This is actually the first time I’ve run the “back” part of it – I’m making baby steps to get over my aversion to hills. W had some knee trouble partway through so we walked a quarter mile or so, but it quickly went away.

I got a chance to try out some of my stocking stuffers on this run as well: Nuun tablets and Wright Socks. The Nuun tablets, which dissolve in water to make a light-tasting sports drink, were not bad. I prefer the salty taste of Gatorade, but I think I could drink more Nuun since it’s not so sugary. The Wright Socks were awesome. My past experience has shown that it’s generally the 12+ mile runs that give me blisters, so I’ll reserve final judgement, but thus far I LOVE these socks. They’re the right amount of squishy and I am blister free.

Oh, I also finally tried the Christmas Gu – the gingerbread vanilla one. As a Gu-hater I was not expecting to like it, but damn…yes I did. It tasted like cookie dough. And the Vaselinelike texture was so much less offputting when it tastes and sort of feels like cookie dough. (Rather than the standard fruit flavored Gu. Strawberry banana vaseline? Ick.) Time to hunt down a box of these holiday flavors and order more.