Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Burgers, Baby

I never EVER make burgers. Yet so inspired by Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals over the weekend, I wanted to try a burger. Into the meat I tossed:

- crushed red pepper
- black pepper
- Vermont Maple Mustard (from Fox Meadow Farms)
- thyme
- Japanese style Panko seasoned breadcrumbs

The pan was turned on Medium-Low and the burgers cooked for just about 8 minutes on each side, crisping the outside a deep brown and leaving the inside just a teeny bit pink. I threw freshly shaved American cheese on the top for a few minutes at the end, then took them off the heat, covered the pan and let them sit for a few minutes.

Burgers included: fresh pickles, tomato slices and garlic cooked kale.

The burgers were incredibly flavorful - quite unexpectedly so! I'M A BOSS BURGER COOKER!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Tough Mudder Tri-State 2013

Victory headband!
I'm finally able to lift my arms to my keypad to type this post. Do you happen to have an extra spine lying around? TOUGH MUDDER WAS AWESOME! I would abso-freakin-lutely do it again.

Originally we were planning to run as a group of ten. Well, things happen, and my particular group ended up being two co-workers, super fit Brian and both Tough Mudder and Mudderella champion, Polina, and my 21-year old cousin Steve, who just happens to be a Marine. Four was a perfect number. We were of relatively the same fitness level and got along splendidly; always positive, encouraging and constantly making jokes. I couldn't have asked for a better crew.

When we arrived at around 9:00am, parking was directly on site and we gathered near registration to start assembling our gear and getting tags on our clothes. It was overcast, windy and chilly. All I could think about was the Arctic Enema obstacle (jumping into a ice-water-filled dumpster, swim under a wooden board, and swim out the other side) and how much I was dreading it. I decided to wear my Under Armour Cold Gear shirt (collared and long sleeved), UnderArmour Run Stretch Woven 17" Capri's, fingerless lifting gloves, extra thick Under Armour socks and my most comfortable Nike Lunarglide running shoes. (FYI: Under Armour sponsors Tough Mudder, so do yourself a favor and try to wear Under Armour!) My shoes are a little heavy, as they're trainers, not racers, but they got me up, down and over the obstacles with out any problems.

Tire Walk
By the time we got started, it was closer to 10:30. They got us all psyched up and sent us on our way! I had no problem trotting along with my friends; in fact the most controlled part of the entire race is when you're running between obstacles. The walls that you have to pull yourself over... well, I wouldn't ever be able to do that on my own. It wasn't awkward at... all... having my co-worked hoist my butt over wood planks. Hey! It just brings you closer together! Running through the woods was the only part that tripped me up. I mean, you're literally wading through feet-deep of water and mud. You can't see what's at the bottom, and you pray you're not going to trip over a root. Monkey Bars and Just the Tip were the most difficult ones for me. A word of advice: always keep two hands on each bar as you go across the monkey bars. I tried to swing from one to the other and fell on the SECOND one! Mud Mile was a lot more physically taxing than I thought it 'd be. That was a lotttt of little muddy hills. Everyone looked exactly the same; zombies covered head to toe in mud. The Arctic Enema ended up being a relief. Seven miles in, covered in mud and sweating, I was relieved to get into some crisp, refreshing water. Then... subsequently just as happy to get the hell out of there because that dumpster was COLD.

What do I do with these...?
When we finished, to be perfectly honest, I could've kept going. I was on an adrenaline high and my muscles felt good. Bring an entire change of clothes. Socks, shoes, underwear, everything. You really might never be able to use those clothes again. I was able to wash my shoes out (!!!), but I had a hole or two in my Under Armour shirt. That was tough to swallow. What's the purpose of Cold Gear if it's got holes in it? Three weeks later, I was still q-tipping dried mud out of my ear.

Two weeks later, my husband and I volunteered at the World's Toughest Mudder. Those guys are insane. And super nice. We were stationed at the A-Frame Berlin Walls and after the first two hours, I had my favorite Mudders and was looking forward to seeing them on their next circuit. I'd absolutely recommend volunteering - the Mudders were constantly thanking us for our service... while they were carrying giant logs. Made it all worth it!

I should start training for another race. Tough Mudder won't pick up again until next year, so there's lots of time to train for it! But it's so so bitterly cold outside and hard to get motivated. Help!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tough Mudder and Pull-Ups

I forget how I got turned on to Tough Mudder. The point is that I did. I had it in my mind that I was going to do it. Then I rallied some coworkers, mostly through trash talk, and convinced my CEO to sponsor an entire team. So now, not only have I registered, I have to put on a tough face for my colleagues since it was my super... awesome... idea.

OKAY! I have less than four weeks to get into top agility shape; mostly so my ankles don't break when I jump off an elevated platform into a shipping crate of ... ice. Again, awesome idea, Katie.

Here's a picture of me. Doing one pull-up. Because that's literally all I can do. Living in New York City is perfect for this. Scaffolding is EVERYWHERE. 

I accept that, as a woman, I have underdeveloped back muscles that make it much more difficult for me to pull my body weight up more than any man. (Yep, that's what I'm telling myself.) Dude, pull-ups are hard. No matter how much my brain is telling my arms to just pull, pull, pull, my body gets stuck. Then my arms start shaking. Then a searing fire-pain rips through my arms. And then I'm back on the ground. I watch my husband do ten of these without one single, staggered breath. But....?? Wha--?? How!!!

Something tells me I'm not going to be able to take the training very seriously, being as I usually reach for a glass of wine before my lemon water when I'm finished. Hm. Also, can I ask why exercising makes you want to eat healthier? All I want to do is eat lettuce leafs and wheat pellets. (Until tomorrow when I'll be scarfing down coffee and bagels around 9:30am.)

So anyway, a great routine has become running up to Riverbank State Park with its soccer fields, baseball fields, basketball courts, a track and my training ground: a child's playground. There I can spend six minutes trying to do my one pull-up, and then throw in a few dips, leg ups, pushups and monkey bars and feel great about myself because little Sammy over there is too scared to even climb up to the top of the slide. It does wonders for my confidence. Thanks, tots! I guess if I had to set a goal, since I can feel the breath of my colleagues on my back already, it would be to do three pull-ups before the event. I think that would make me feel good about my super intense training regimen.

Don't even get me started on what I'm going to wear. I need to go read some female Tough Mudder finisher blogs!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Finding Motivation Again

I'll never forget the day in high school, when I was sitting next to my friend Michelle Watkins, and for whatever reason, certainly not unprovoked, she quipped, "You know, Katie, one day you're going to turn around and wake up and be 30 and be fat." I thought it was the most atrocious thing I'd ever heard. Of course I wasn't going to just wake up and be FAT. Have you seen my Mom? She's a 6' pencil! I could shovel in as many carbs as I wanted, and I did. I was involved in so many sports that I'd drop into bed exhausted and sore every night. I kept it up in college, my body was tight as a drum. I kept it up after college, and of course there was Miami: races and run clubs for a solid year.

But two years later, I live in this:

And anything close to a beachy waterfront looks like this:

And you can eat things like this from street carts for $5.

And wash it down with:

My kitchen is about as big as your driver seat, so I've completely stopped cooking and buy nearly every single meal out. Do you know how high in sodium and calories even the 'healthiest' eat-out foods are?? It's nearly impossible to maintain any kind of control over your health unless you're buying the ingredients and cooking them yourself.

And to top it all off, I'm going to be 29 this year. Twenty-nine. Almost thirty. I don't mind the milestone, but my body knows that I'm not 22 anymore either. I wouldn't say that I'm getting 'soft', but I certainly can't be hoarking carbs down without a second thought. 

I know, I know, I can hear you already. 

"It's not New York. It's YOU, Katie. YOU make every decision to put that piece of thai food in your mouth, or not pack your gym bag." 

Blah, blah, blah. It's New York's fault.

That being said... I need to get back on the horse. I need to try to eat better and get exercising again. I need motivation. What seems to be motivating me right now is my two-week honeymoon in fabulous Spain at the end of August. It's going to be one million degrees there and I'll be wearing probably next to nothing every day. Is that enough motivation? Since when did I ever NEED motivation...??? Ugh. 

Should I just stick these girls all over my bathroom mirror?


I'm going to order a delicious, fatty pizza and think about how to make this work. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

New Ground

Hel-LO New York!

A quick update!

I've settled into my new corporate job in Manhattan and have finally adopted a running routine again, in none other than the amazing Central Park.

Route - October 6th
New York's Nike Run Club is absolutely organized chaos compared to Miami's, and I only made it through two runs with them until I decided to simply drop my stuff off at the five-story Niketown on 57th Avenue and settle into a nice jog at my own pace.

I've got a small secret:: I'm tentatively training for the ING marathon - yes, eek! marathon! - at the end of January. I'm at 6.5 miles as of last week. I've set my own schedule to increase my mileage by one mile each week until two weeks before the race, which will put me at a maximum of 22 miles. I think that's ample enough time and distance to prepare for it. I'd love to qualify for Boston when/if I make it to Miami. I'm pretty sure I'll never want to run a marathon ever again, so if I qualify, I can put it in the books and consider it done. I wouldn't even necessarily RUN Boston. Doesn't qualifying for it sound like an accomplishment in and of itself??? YES IT DOES!  I need to keep my pace at less than nine minutes per mile. It's been steady at 8:45-9:30 minutes per mile for the last 3 weeks which is completely acceptable to me. I honestly have no idea if I can keep this up as the weather gets wicked cold in December and January, and I adamantly refuse to join a gym. But the fire's been lit, and I think it's one that I won't be able to douse!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Missing Miami

I've been running sporadically here and there; dabbling in soccer and you know, the occasional run-for-your-life backyard water balloon fight. But I don't even feel guilty admitting that it's hard to stay motivated about running while I'm living here. I really miss my boardwalk runs. I miss smelling the salty sea air and feeling that breeze on my body. I wouldn't have any distractions but the occasional fellow walker/jogger and the ocean as my constant companion. I could follow the boardwalk planks for miles, until they merged into a concrete pathway lined with rows of palm trees. It's no wonder that I got into running while I was living in South Florida. I could tolerate the humidity really well, it was so flat and open; the sidewalks and paths were calling my name every evening. Back here, the streets and sidewalks are crowded, hilly and filled with stagnant summer air. I realize that I was running in this environment for years prior to living in Miami so it seems silly to gripe about the difference. But I can honestly say that the running atmosphere is one thing that I can't toss into the 'Grass is Always Greener' syndrome that's come over me since I've moved back home. When I was living down there, I missed home. Now that I live here, I miss it there. I'm sure if I were to go back down, I would miss it here again. But for not even one moment did I ever prefer running here than down there. Miami really is a paradise - for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy to be home. But I think it's fair and understandable that I miss the quintessential paradise destination that was my home for one year. I must say, I've been running around wonderful Rock Creek Park and finding myself gazing over the Potomac River at our gorgeous skyline dotted with so many famous memorials in the sunset. But it's not the same. I was spoiled!

Last night I had a great 7 mile run, hills and all. You can see me sporting the awesome zany sports bra that Victoria gave me as a goodbye gift at my last dinner in Miami. It cheered me up instantly! Keep posting your Facebook pictures, all of my Miami friends. And Victoria, keep booking your infamous Tri's. You've been motivating me from Day 1!! I'm thinking of you each time I go out there.

I miss all of you guys down there - and my Nike's miss you, boardwalk planks! 


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Antietam Battlefield 10K - Success!

It was a grey and quiet when I woke up, late, at 7:15am on Sunday morning to drive 90 miles out to Antietam Battlefield in Sharpsburg, MD for this 'local' 10K. Who am I kidding - I didn't drive. Alejandro bravely took the wheel since I could hardly keep my eyes open, recovering from a wonderful Saturday night.

Antietam is the site of the bloodiest single day battle of the American Civil War. Over 23,000 men, including six generals, between the Confederate and Union forces, were killed in a 12 hour period. As we pulled into the National Park, their sacrifice was palpable.

This was the friendliest race I had ever been to! There were about 450 registrants total, including the 10k and 5k. Local volunteers greeted us warmly when we picked up our packets and directed me to the (clean and toilet paper-filled!) port-a-Johns. Yep, I was prepared this time. Volunteers and racers were still cheering every participant from the earlier 5k as they came across the finish line. Before our race, a high school junior sang the National Anthem. She blew Deborah Cox out of the water. (Deborah sang the National Anthem at the ING Marathon in Miami earlier this year for 25,000 people.) This girl's powerful voice cut straight across the National Park and directly into my heart; my hairs bristled.  We stood in a moment of silence for all soldiers, past and present. I felt a lump forming in my throat. To stand in silence over a battlefield was pretty damn powerful for a bleak, Sunday morning. Then the starting gun screamed... and we were off!

There were big hills, there was lots of uneven pavement and the air was muggy and thick. But I could hardly keep my eyes off of the beautiful countryside. Alejandro ran with me for the first 3.5 miles then took off when I slowed, as symptoms of a hangover and sleep deprivation crept in hard.

Award Ceremony at the Finish
This was the second race in which I found a running buddy for the last two miles. I passed a 44 year old Navy retiree, Mark, walking in his toe-shoes and everything, who picked up his pace to jog with me in the final miles. You can learn a lot about someone when you're running next to them. It's like sitting on a plane; you're next to that person until you reach the destination so you might as well make the most of it. He had quite an inspiring story - he lost 200+ lbs and quit his 2 pack a day smoking habit about five years ago, when he found himself winded after climbing a flight of stairs. I asked him how I would ever get my little brother to stop smoking and he said, "He won't stop until he's found something that's worth living for. You're just going to irritate him by asking him to stop; he's got to want to do it for himself." He told me that he had failed out of college and was driving home from a late night bartending shift at 22 years old and pulled into the Naval recruiting station thinking, 'Anything is better than what I've got going for me right now.' That man changed his own stars. I asked him about any little idiosyncracies he has when he races. He said every time he runs, he remembers all the buddies that he lost in Iraq and Vietnam and feels that they're running there with him.
Burnside Bridge

PS - My three idiosyncracies are:
 1. Lucky pink underwear reserved only for race days
2. Never, ever walk
3. Always sprint over the finish line

We finished in under an hour, sprinting over the finish line. I said goodbye to him and was suddenly flooded with nausea. I proceeded to sprint down to the port-a-Johns and yak my brains out. I instantly felt better and we had a lovely morning driving the 8 mile loop and touring the battlefields. I highly recommend a visit to this historic site during the summer months; its an amazing story. Oh, and while you're there, why don't you go for a little jog?  :)
Gallery photos of Antietam National Park; taken on days a little brighter than mine!