Annexing new running territory

Here's an image of the jogging path I tried out on Monday, as provided by Google Earth.

Here’s an image of the jogging path I tried out on Monday, as provided by Google Earth.

I’ve got three basic routes I run near our home another three near Bluffton and Oubache State Park I run with my sister (who HOPEFULLY will find time to start running again soon). But when I run in Fort Wayne after work it’s almost always been indoors at a YMCA.

Now that spring appears to finally be sticking around (never mind last night’s frost), I’m determined to start investigating the nearly 70 miles of trails in the Fort Wayne metro area. On Monday I figured I’d start by running the 10K version of the Trailblazer 5K the kids and I ran last fall. This seemed exceptionally convenient because I can stop at the Jorgensen Y to change into my running clothes after work and hop right on the trail.

I ‘d done the  5K route on Saturday while I was out doing some last-minute Easter shopping, and I was reminded how beautiful and rural it was despite being tucked into what’s now a fairly populous suburb. But as I drove the 10K route on the way to the Y, I was surprised to discover that part of the course was nothing more than a sidewalk that winds its way through a subdivision. Even worse, there are a couple of tricky turns that could wind up getting you hopelessly lost inside cul-de-sac city.

In the end, I opted for 5 miles of speed work on the jogging path that encircles the Y and a nearby middle school. Turns out it’s only 1.2 miles long, but the quarter miles are well marked, which makes it nice for doing intervals. In a lot of ways it’s like the Ossian trail I frequent, only twistier and with a handy-dandy drinking fountain just a few feet off the path in a stunningly elaborate playground.

This wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I imagined exploring the Fort Wayne trails system, but I’m glad to add this course to my list of workout options.

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Dealing with excess Easter bounty

Is it just me, or do those jellybean eyebrows make this Easter Bunny look kind of mean?

Is it just me, or do those jellybean eyebrows make this Easter Bunny look kind of mean?

Coming back from Grandma and Grandpa’s Easter shindig Sunday night, I tried to get out of the car with an armload of leftover desserts and wound up dropping the fruit pizza all over the driveway.

“Good,” said Ben. “Now it will be that much easier to throw it away!”

My brother Brent and niece Kyla with her bag of goodies after the Easter Egg Hunt. (Luckily, hers wasn't as hard to find as some of the older kids, one of whom found hers in the corn field, covered with husks!)

My brother Brent and niece Kyla with her bag of goodies after the Easter Egg Hunt. (Luckily, hers wasn’t as hard to find as some of the older kids, one of whom found hers in the corn field, covered with husks!)

The kids and I were of a similar frame of mind: The Sunday splurge mindset – magnified by an unprecedented bounty that overcompensated for the ever-growing holiday guest list — MUST be confined to Sunday and should NOT, under any circumstances, be granted an opening to bleed over into Monday.

I used to feel helpless about this sort of thing. Leftover Grandma goodies were likely to be sampled later that same night, and the next day I’d work my way through whatever remained. It might take me several days to shift out of “feast” mode and get back to my usual (over)eating patterns.

These days I’ve got a pretty clear Monday dietary template I switch into, regardless of whatever occurred the day before. Overly yummy leftovers are mentally designated into an appropriate slot in the week. Grandma’s potato casserole became part of Monday’s dinner (though I abstained). The coconut bunny cake Colleen decorated went into the garage freezer, destined to re-emerge for some future Sunday dinner, which is about the only time in the week we plan to have dessert.

With the unfortunate accident that befell the fruit pizza, that left only the remnants of the Oreo “lasagna” Rowan made to take to her boyfriend’s family’s get-together, and Ben cleaned that up after Monday’s baseball practice.

One thing we didn’t do was visit the candy locker, which has been largely abandoned in recent months. The kids’ Easter baskets no longer contain much in the way of candy. As for the bounty from Sunday’s Easter Egg Hunt, Ben took most of his candy to school to share with friends, and the girls have gotten better about rationing theirs. I had a couple of Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs as Saturday’s pre-run snack, and that seemed to do the trick.

My niece Monroe gets in a hand of Euchre in between kickball games and golf-cart Frisbee. It was a beautiful day, something we no longer take for granted after that harsh winter!

My niece Monroe gets in a hand of Euchre in between kickball games and golf-cart Frisbee. It was a beautiful day, something we no longer take for granted after that harsh winter!

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Run/walk experiment #4: 13 minutes faster on a 15-miler

I can’t say I enjoyed the run/walk version of this course nearly as much as the previous week’s “long slow run.” There’s just something relaxing and meditative about going out for a long run that can’t be replicated when you’re breaking things up into segments. (At least not for me, not yet.)

On the other hand, it felt good to finish this 15-miler 13 minutes faster than last week (2:45 vs. 2:58). It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t transformative, but it felt like the start of subduing this course, making it my own, and eventually getting better at it.

This wasn’t a standard 4 minutes run, 1 minute walk, by the way. Because the first 1 1/3 miles are on a fairly busy highway, I waited to start my first walking segment until I turned off onto the 6-mile side road straightaway that makes up the bulk of this out-and-back course. I walked for 1.5 telephone poles, ran half a mile, and continued that pattern until I got back to the highway again, where I ran it in.

I was a bit stressed about my pacing, first wondering if I was going too fast for a 15-miler, then fretting whether I wasn’t going fast enough to get a better time.

On the other hand, I never worried about whether I was going to make it, which is always part of the background noise on any run 15 miles and up. I knew with the walk breaks I’d make it, even if I had to slow down. Whereas when I’m in LSD mode (long slow distance), walking feels like failure.

To recap, in previous run/walk experiments I shaved 10 minutes off a 10-miler, 4 minutes off a 7-miler, and 7 minutes off a course of undetermined length that I ran twice, first running the whole way for time, then doing it again at a 4:1 run/walk.

I’m still not sure if I’m going to get in any long races before the Parlor City Trot half marathon on Labor Day Weekend, and I really can’t say if I’ll be running that one or run/walking it. More “research” is needed. But it seems clear that these run/walk sessions push my limits and I’d like to think that eventually they’ll help speed up my “long slow runs” as well.

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A kid’s point of view: comfy shoes + no more cast!

nikesMy new Nike Pegasus 30 shoes are awesome!!! I didn’t realize how bad my old Adizeros were until I tried good shoes on. My Pegasus are the best shoes I’ve ever had!! They have AMAZING cushion and support.

I also found out that my gait is more or less straight, which is good.

In other news I got my cast off on Thursday!!! When the nurse got done with the saw, I ran over to the sink to wash my arm off. You are very lucky you weren’t there because my skin was peeling. It was so gross! It was like my arm had dandruff, but worse!

beancast

Getting my cast cut off!

My hand felt floppy out of the cast. The doctor said it was because I haven’t used those muscles in like a month. I have to wear a splint for 2 weeks, but at least I get to take it off when I take a shower.

After we were done the doctor told us about a race he ran this winter when it was below zero. Would you believe he ran in snow shoes? He said the snow was so deep he felt like a snow plow!

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Gluten-free lemon coconut bars for amateurs

Should I put off this post about a really tasty treat that would be great for Easter (or any festive springtime celebration, really) because we only managed one crappy cell-phone shot before they disappeared?

Sorry the photo doesn't truly capture how tasty these are, but as Grandma Annie-Bananie used to say, "That's just the way it is."

Sorry the photo doesn’t truly capture how tasty these are, but as Grandma Annie-Bananie used to say, “That’s just the way it is.”

Nah. We live life on the fly around here, careening into cool discoveries and maddening roadblocks with equal frequency, and this blog, for better or worse, tends to reflect that.

If you want to see awesome artsy photos of these bars, click here for the original recipe from greenkitchenstories. If you want to know how they worked out for a frequently flustered  family trying to figure out how to help a kid deal with a possible gluten issue, then keep reading.

Before we get to the recipe, here are the answers to a couple of key questions:

1. Is it hard to make your own almond flour?

Not really. We threw some raw almond slivers in our coffee grinder and that seemed to work out OK. Almond flour is expensive, as with so many things involved in a gluten-free diet, so we’re looking to save a bit where we can.

2. Do these bars taste OK if you don’t bother with the lemon zest?

As I mentioned earlier, these disappeared pretty quickly. Grandma Linda raved about them, though she agreed with Ben and I that the zest would’ve added a deeper “tang” that would make them even better. We plan to try that next time. But you can get by with just bottled lemon juice, as we did.

The recipe

Crust

Coconut "oil" looks and acts like Crisco at room temperature.

Coconut “oil” looks and acts like Crisco at room temperature.

5 tbsp coconut oil

3 tbsp maple syrup

2 cups shredded coconut

1 cup almond flour (we ground slivered almonds in our coffee grinder)

1 pinch sea salt

2 egg whites (save the yolks for the lemon curd)

Filling

3 eggs + 2 egg yolks

6 tbsp maple syrup

1/3 cup lemon juice + 1 tbsp zest (we didn’t use the zest, as I mentioned above)

1/3 cup almond flour

Dust with 3 tbsp coconut flour (we used powdered sugar)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Melt the coconut oil (it’s solid at room temperature) in a sauce pan on low/medium heat. Add maple syrup, shredded coconut, almond flour and salt. Stir until everything is combined. Remove from the heat.

2. Crack two eggs, save the egg yolks for later and add the whites to the sauce pan while stirring. Keep stirring for about a minute; mixture should be getting sticky.

3. Line a 12×8 inch baking dish with baking paper (we just used baking spray) and pour the coconut mixture into it. Spread it over the bottom of the pan, using a spatula or your hands. Bake for 10-12 minutes while you get to work on the filling.

4. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs + the 2 egg yolks. Add the rest of the ingredients. Beat for two more minutes.

5. Pour the mixture over the baked crust in the baking dish. Bake 16-19 minutes or until edges are light brown and center is set.

6. Let cool for at least 10-15 minutes before slicing up the bars. Dust with coconut flour or powdered sugar.

7. Now they’re ready to eat — and hopefully you will get better photos of these than we did!

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Shopping fun at the running store

Look what I found on the $25 clearance stack!

Look what I found on the $25 clearance stack!

After substitute teaching at Colleen’s school yesterday, we took off on a shopping trip – to the Three Rivers Running Company.

Colleen gets down in the "start position" in her new Nike Pegasus at the Central Fort Wayne YMCA.

Colleen gets down in the “start position” in her new Nike Pegasus at the Central Fort Wayne YMCA.

It was the first time she got measured properly for running shoes and had her gait analyzed. (In a house with four “girls,” all of whom can fit into each other’s shoes, it’s not uncommon for her to grab a pair of my shoes or sneak a pair out of her big sister’s room.) Funny thing is, we discovered the youngest girl in the family has the biggest feet. And now she has her own pair of “real” running shoes. (Her last pair came from Kohl’s.)

I went for a test run in the Adidas Boost, which I loved, but they didn’t have it in my size. I settled for the Boost Glide, which was less sleek, not as flashy and $30 cheaper. It kind of felt like buying the ugly step-sister model, but when we stopped at the downtown YMCA afterward to try out our purchases, I liked how they felt on the track and even began to view their understated color scheme as “tasteful” rather than “boring.”

We were in kind of a hurry – Ben called during our run to see when we were bringing home dinner – so I didn’t try out my bonus purchase, a pair of Vibram Five Fingers marked down to $25 in the clearance stack.

But I slipped them on after our late dinner and wound up falling asleep in them. (Hey, herding  kindergartners is exhausting!) When I woke up several hours later, my feet still felt comfy, as if I’d slept in socks or slippers. I’m still wearing them, in fact. So  far, so good. I’m not going to wear them on pavement, but we’ll see how they feel on the trail.

My Adidas Supernova Glide Boost looked better once I got them away from all those other flashier shoes.

My Adidas Supernova Glide Boost looked better once I got them away from all those other flashier shoes.

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A modest proposal to change the name of ‘junk food’

Ever wonder how the factory stamps an "M" on these guys without cracking the candy shell?

Ever wonder how the factory stamps an “M” on these guys without cracking the candy shell?

Would it be easier to stay away from junk food if we called it something else?

It’s obviously a derogatory term, but the meaning has been hijacked by pop culture to the point that most people think of it not as commercialized crap but as a guilty pleasure. (It’s easy to scoff at somebody else’s Pop Tart fixation, so long as nobody messes with your Twinkies.)

For me, it helps to think of it as “industrial food” because that strips away the marketing glitz and all the pop culture tie-ins and reminds me that this is basically food made in a factory, as cheaply as possible.

That doesn’t have much of a ring to it, though. What if we called it fabricated food, or industrial-grade human filler? (I was going to type “human fuel,” but that would imply that this crap has some sort of nutritional value – which it rarely does.)

Any other nominations?

 

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