Friday, August 20, 2010

Roar




I just wrote a whole post that amounted, well, the feeling expressed in the above picture. I wrote it, felt it, and deleted it. For while some believe that my blog is like my confessional, that is far, far, like galaxy far far away, far from true. I share a lot that is true, but I keep a lot for myself too. I like to think I keep a good balance. I like to write out things to get them off my chest, let my feelings flow and truly examine my own thoughts, but that doesn't mean everything written needs to be shared. That is what the delete key is for. (Ok, that's what my journal is for, but you get my point). So instead, you can just imagine a good guttural howl coming from the picture above and then move on to cookies.

Because that is what I do, I get mad and then make cookies. And watch videos of baby pygmy goats. 



I wasn't in the mood to go completely original on the recipe so I took a recipe I found in a Seattle Times article and incorporated my own flour blend into it instead of the suggested flour blend. I also added a combination of peanut butter chip and chocolate chips. I think I like to make cookies so I can eat copious amounts of cookie dough. Often times, like today, I eat so much cookie dough, I have absolutely no interest in the cookies themselves. But that's okay, I like to share. Also, I think I just like to use my new Kitchenaid standing mixer that the Baker got for "me" for my birthday. You can get one here: Buy Now , if you don't have one, yeah its a big purchase but I can't imagine life without one now.





Gluten- Free CLASSIC CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Makes about 3 dozen
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 (12-ounce) bag gluten-free chocolate chips
3/4 bag peanut butter chips.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
3. In a standing mixer, beat together on medium speed butter and sugars until a thick paste forms, about 1 minute. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add dry ingredients and vanilla; mix until a dough forms. Stir in gluten-free chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.
4. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough about 2 inches apart onto cookie sheets.
5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
6. Remove sheet from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer cookies directly onto rack to cool completely. While first sheet is cooling, bake the second sheet of cookies. Store cookies in an airtight container.
Adapted From, Easy Gluten-Free Baking, by Elizabeth Barbone (c) 2009, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

And just in case you don't believe me about the baby pygmy goats:


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Math makes me a liar

Climbing Mt. Thorpe at CC100 as a pacer.

Not even a month ago I was on the fast track to resting. I knew I needed it, I was ready. Within 10 days of that post, however, I was out running a solo 40 mile effort in the Headlands and on Mt. Tam and I was back at it even if I never really felt like I was back in training mode. I felt like I not really ramping it up, not really hitting it that hard. I had that 40 mile run, but then I wasn't putting in the consistent double days I wanted and didn't feel like I was doing long enough long runs. In short, I was feeling like a slacker, while at the same time feeling still tired enough to not really worry to much about it. I wanted to get in good training for CC100, but accepted that maybe I wouldn't achieve the same type of peak training I did for WS. I felt like I put in a really good week while in Ohio and ran a bunch and on some really cool trails, but at the weeks end, I aborted my 40 mile night run because I was just feeling toasted. I was not inspiring confidence in myself or my training. Last week, I started to taper. Didn't do multiple doubles, didn't push extra hard. Took time to nap and rest. This week, even more so. At this point, I resigned myself to having only average training which may ultimately benefit me anyways heading into CC100.

And then I looked at the numbers for the past 6 weeks and mathematics proved me a liar.

I haven't been slacking. I haven't had a light go of it. In fact, I realized that I have the highest 6 week average all year. Which probably means in my entire life since this year I have ramped up my training more. I have been averaging just over 100 miles per week for 6 weeks. Not exactly light and leisurely. Oops, silly me. Only silly me to think that I was slacking or not putting in good hard work. Even though I would like to get up to averaging even more miles, 100 mile weeks are still huge and for the most part I have been able to weather them with a bit of a casual attitude. That makes me excited for future training blocks, but I will say, I plan to not piggie back them so closely on top of other peak training like I have this summer. I have had two "low" weeks all summer and it was pretty much only WS week and the week following that each were in the mid 70s. Nothing lower since the week after Miwok in May. I have kicked my own butt well. And so I have to have a bit of confidence in my own abilities at this point, even if I am a bit intimidated by tackling the 100 mile distance again.

I am tapering now and enjoying it. I am really pulling in the reins and not being tempted to sneak in anything extra. I have a lot of couch time scheduled in the next two weeks. This past Saturday, I had a great final long run over to the Headlands from the city (13 miles) then another 18/19 miles with the Endurables. It was fun to run by myself and then be pushed faster by the group. I was tired from the previous 6 weeks but could tell my legs were strong and ready. I also figured out a few key fueling things I need to bring back for CC100 including Chia Seeds.

When did I forget how freaking awesome Chia Seeds are for running? I mean seriously. I was on the bandwagon with Chia Seeds before Oprah was going on about them and long before Born to Run came out. But somewhere along the way, they got pushed to the back of the cupboard and I stopped using them regularly. Well, I brought them back and let me not forget about them again! I had a great run with them on Saturday. I took a spoonful of chia seeds with a sip of water after I had finished my breakfast. I highly recommend you pick some up from my OpenSky shop!

In a lot of ways, I am happy to be shown a liar. I was feeling badly about so many changed or aborted workouts in the past 6 weeks that my confidence was a bit flat. Now, I feel a bit better. I am still nervous, but I think the anticipation I feel is different this time. I feel like I am back to the beginning, when all I was considering was how to make it to the finish line in one piece and how to enjoy the heck out of myself along the way.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A few of my favorite things

I love naps. Young adult novels. Wearing sweat pants.

I love brussel sprouts, broccoli and persimmons. Hugs. And the feeling of accomplishment after a hard days work.

I like weimaraners. Taking pictures of food. And I love muffins.




I have said that last part before, but I have to say it again. I love muffins. There is something about muffins that I adore. And I love to make them. I think I should start a bakery with just muffins, gluten free of course. The muffins I make could never get a bad wrap for being unhealthy. But they are damn delicious.

I also love the bounty of the summer. There is so much amazing produce and we are flush with delicious fruits and vegetables. At this point in the summer, one might even argue we are at the point of being overwhelmed with certain vegetables. Mainly zucchini. I can only think of so many ways to prepare zucchini. And I had not yet figured out a good recipe from which to start my gluten free adaptation. The other day, I stumbled upon a recipe by Jenna of Eat, Live, Run and decided to give it another go on the zucchini muffins since we had a few zucchini that were still lurking around from the previous week's CSA book from Eatwell Farms. On top of that, I was keen to continue to see just how versatile my gluten free flour mixture was. I have successfully used the same mix in waffles, pancakes and pizza. Why not muffins too?




Why not indeed. I am happy to report that they were phenomenally good. So good that when the baker ate one, he said, "I kind of wish you hadn't given away half of them" (as I had given away 1/2 dozen to our good friends). But I reassured him not to worry, there were plenty more zucchini left to go through and make into glorious, cinnamon sugar topped zucchini muffins.



Tuesday, August 10, 2010

In my dreams, there is pizza

Is it deja vu? Have you seen this post before? It is possible if you have been reading and keeping up with my Fast Foodie Cooks blog. I have decided to combine my blogs back into one. I don't need two. I thought I wanted to make a go at a "real" professional-like food blog but by dividing the food from the running you take away part of what makes me who I am. It is the play between food, running and life that interests me. Maybe I will never "make it" as a food blogger or as any kind of blogger, but frankly, I just have to be true to who I am. I am a Fast Foodie. So to reintroduce you to the foodie part of me (for those of you who weren't checking out the (gluten free) goodness going on over there, here is my most recent and exceptionally delicious post. And while I finish up the transition, you will probably stumble upon broken links, missing pictures, etc. I am working on all of that, stick with me!



There are a few things I don't eat very often: pizza and burgers. Partially because, for the most part, you can't find healthy (fast foodie) type versions of them. Partially because when I do eat them it is a treat or indulgence. But mostly because they usually aren't done well gluten free. In fact, they are usually appallingly bad. They don't crisp up right, they have a weird metallic taste (xanthum gum taste), or they are too sweet. Or they are just plain not good. I have found myself wondering if anyone even tasted the recipe or product before they put it on the market. I mean most of us do know what pizza is suppose to taste like. Thus, for the most part, I go without. I mean I have eaten 2 burgers in the span of time since I stopped being vegan (its just not the same without the bun) and maybe had pizza a half dozen times (and half of those times have been pain inducing but oh so worth it real gluten-y goodness).




Yes, I know I talk a lot about things I don't eat on this blog. And then I turn around and make them into something I can actually have. I thought about that a lot recently since we've been talking about the new Tartine Bread book that's coming out in September. Not a single thing I can eat in it, but I sure will be making sure that I pour over the recipes like nobodies business for some amazing ideas.

But I too have some amazing ideas. Like gluten free pizza. Ok, I didn't say it was an original idea but there are a few baked goods that very few in the gluten free world have mastered. Bread and pizza crust, really anything made with a basic dough in the gluten world, is hard to replicate. And these recipes are often coveted and additionally, it is hard to wade through the sea of available recipes to find the ones that are actually good.

But this one was good.



I will continue to work on it, but the initial success has me so excited I couldn't help but share it. So here it is. I look forward to playing with it more and will update it with new successes and ideas. All I know, is that there is going to be much more pizza eating around here.

Gluten Free Pizza Dough

First things first, you need to make your flour mixture. I have been playing with this mixture as my base for most of my baked goods lately and have found it delightfully versatile. You won't use it all in the dough recipe

GF flour mix:
  • 1.25 cups tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)
  • 1.25 cups sweet rice flour
  • 1.5 cups brown rice flour
  • .5 cups sorghum flour
  • 2 tsp xanthum gum

Gluten Free Pizza Dough:
  • 1.75 cups gluten free flour mixture
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp xathum gum
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 3 ounces active yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

In a standing mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix the dry ingredients except the yeast until incorporated. Add yeast into warm warm to dissolve then add it and the remaining wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until dough is holding together and forms a ball.

Remove dough from the mixture and let rise, covered in a warm place for an hour. You can skip this step in a pinch but it will crisp up even better if you do.

Once the dough is done rising, it is time to shape. First preheat your oven to 450 degrees. On a large piece of parchment paper, place the dough in the center. Dust the dough with tapioca flour so your fingers don't stick. Add more tapioca flour as you gently press the dough out into the desired size. You can either use a pizza stone (thus make a circle) or baking sheet (thus a rectangle). Spread the dough carefully until the crust is 1/4 inch thick. You won't be able to get the dough off the parchment paper, so place dough and parchment on your baking vessel. Let rise for another 20 minutes.

Once the second rise is complete, lightly drizzle olive oil over the crust. Bake at 450 degrees until the dough is golden, crispy and has air bubbles (yes air bubbles on a gluten free crust!).
Remove from oven.

Being very careful, using the parchment, flip the crust over so that the golden bottom is now your surface to put toppings. Now top with your favorite ingredients, lightly brush the edges with olive oil and bake again for 6-10 minutes.

Toppings:

Pizza #1: Mom's Marinara and fresh basil leaves

Pizza #2: Fresh figs, thinly sliced, Humbodlt fog goat cheese, fresh thyme, saffron sea salt, light drizzle of honey.

Shop til you drop

I am all for trying new things and one of the things I thought I would give a go to is Open Sky. Working with OpenSky gives me the opportunity to be able to bring the products I recommend directly to you, without you having to hunt them down or wonder if you are picking up the right thing. I have no plans on becoming a saleswoman in every post, but will make more and more products available to you as I develop my store. I am open to suggestions.

Today is my grand opening! Wahoo. And at this point I only have one thing to share with you: Food of course!


These gluten free raw crackers are amazing and flavorful. You can grab a box of six for $23 with Caraway, Sunny Garden Herb and Pumpkin Pesto by checking out my shop here.

To sweeten the deal and prove how mindblowingly easy it is to shop at OpenSky, you can get Free Shipping to celebrate the grand opening! Just type in FREESHIPPING at checkout and you'll be on your way.

Enjoy checking out OpenSky and I will continually update my store with great new products! And thanks for your support!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Finishing Kick

Mile 93, Burning River 100 mile, crewing for Nathan.

There is a moment that comes, maybe more often than we would like, in ultras, where we wonder how in the hell we are going to continue on. It is more than a bonky moment, more than a mental lull, it is a convergence of factors that stop us in our tracks and have us begging for mercy. I remember when I ran Vermont in 2008, I came into Margaritaville and simply had no idea how I was going to keep going. I just felt done. It is a little freaky to feel this way, to feel that no food, no drink, no motivational speech will be able to pull you out of the funk. You keep moving though and somehow, things change. Things get better. For as little explanation as there may be for getting to the point of done, there is even less to explain the sudden ability to pick it up again and hammer it out to the finish. Sometimes we are lucky and never feel this way in a race, but more often than not we are faced with this, as well as many other, challenge in ultras.

For me, the ups and downs, trials and tribulations, problem solving and emotional navigating are what keep me coming back to ultras time and time again. I find it such a (good) challenge to try to find my way among all of the factors that affect the outcome and running of a race. There are far more factors involved in running an ultra than shorter distance races. 

Last week, I was in Ohio, crewing for Nathan as he ran Burning River 100. He had an excellent training block leading up to the race, was fully heated trained as one can be in the balmy SF summer and had a great plan leading into the race. We were surprised by cooler than expected temperatures and he clipped along right on schedule throughout the first 85 miles. He had worked his way up to 3rd place at this point, but was place swapping with 4th and 5th countless times over those later miles.

Kristin, Nathan's sister and crew captain extraordinaire, and I were waiting for Nathan at the car wash aid station at mile 93.3. We waited, encouraged by Nathan arriving earlier than expected at the previous aid station. Jack Pilla came through the aid station in 3rd, running scared that Jay Smithberger and Nathan were going to catch him. Next came Jay several minutes later. Kristin and I became nervous. Nathan had been on his splits all day, taken in good calories, drinking well and all in all, without complaint. We finally saw the bright yellow of his La Sportiva jersey and met him with a smoothie. "I just want this to be over". His face said it all. He was in the weeds. Looking for a way out. A way to just feel better, mentally, physically. We tried to encourage, bolster his spirits. But there is little you can say that actually helps. Just keep going, I said, it will get better.  He was 7 minutes behind Jay at this point.
He left the aid station and continued. Kristin and I hastened to the final crew spot 3 miles later to give him one last bottle and push him out to the finish. We were nervous, worried about him. Hoping he would shake it off. 

We waited. Jay came through. I watched me watch. The minutes slipping away. I saw a red jersey coming towards the aid station. Annette, first woman running a phenomenal race, had caught Nathan but he was close behind her. I got him into the aid station and out again in front of Annette. Nothing seemed better since the car wash and he had 4.6 miles to go. All we could do was hope and think good thoughts. He was now 11 minutes back from Jay (in 4th place). Kristin and I jumped in the car and drove up the hill past him. She rolled down the window and sang him a couple of lines from "My Favorite Things". He smiled. And in that smile, I saw something easily missed. I saw that things were changing.

Yanko family cheering section. Hometown running has its advantages!

We got to the finish line and met up with the whole Yanko family who were waiting to cheer Nathan in. Many of the family had been out all day cheering, it was an impressive show of support. Soon we saw a light coming down the road. Here comes Jay! Someone said. Then a pause. Wait there are two lights! No three!!! We gazed down the straight away along Front Street. Sure enough there was Jay loping along to the finish but chasing him down was Nathan and further back Annette, both closing so quickly it would be easy to forget the 100 miles on their legs. It was amazing, delightful. Jay held off Nathan by 11 seconds. Annette was another 30 seconds back. It was an inspiring run by all of them. And I was so happy for each of them.

Nathan finishing strong

But what really is worth examination to me, is that last 4.6 miles. Nathan and Annette, went from 11 minutes back to 11 (and 40) seconds back. That kind of finishing kick is absolutely fascinating. Where do we get the energy, where do we get the power? In some ways, it is baffling, in some ways it is simple. All I can say is, it never ceases to be amazing. Nathan had a great race and I was truly pleased to see him run such a smart race, battle through a tough spot and finish in such an incredible manner. It is the moment you remember that no matter happens in an ultra, give it a few more miles and things will change.

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