Pumpkin Penne

I know I know, the pumpkin recipes in the blogworld are running rampant. Generally I stick to pumpkin pies and that’s it. My mom sent me a link to a recipe for pumpkin penne and I figured since I had an extra can laying around I’d give it a shot.

I will also preface this with the fact that I absolutely cannot stand Rachael Ray. The recipes exceed 30 minutes, her voice drives me up a wall, she abuses nutmeg on a regular basis, and most importantly – her dishes just don’t taste good. BUT I was feeling adventurous so I gave this one a shot anyway.

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1 pound whole-wheat penne

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 shallots, finely chopped

3 to 4 cloves garlic, grated

2 cups chicken stock

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

1/2 cup cream

1 teaspoon hot sauce, to taste

Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

2 pinches ground cinnamon

Salt and black pepper

7 to 8 leaves fresh sage thinly sliced plus more, for garnish

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

 

Now for the modifications. I used all dried spices because I didn’t have fresh on hand, upped the garlic to five cloves, and substituted a parm-asiago mix. I also added crushed red pepper flakes because the teaspoon of hot sauce just didn’t do it for me. I like it HOT!

Finely chop the shallots, and grate the garlic. I’m assuming she used a microplane, but I’m not cool enough to own one of those. I used a regular handheld grater. Add to the pan with 2 tbsp of olive oil.

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Add two cups of chicken stock, and then stir in the pumpkin.

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Add 1/2 cup of cream. You can substitute fat-free half and half if you are looking to keep calories low. It will just take a little bit longer to thicken up. Add the hot sauce, cinnamon, sage, and nutmeg. Add salt & pepper to taste.

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I didn’t photo this, but I boiled one box of penne rigate and then added it to the sauce after it had thickened up after 10 minutes or so.

I decided to roast a head of garlic and serve it with a loaf of French bread. In the interest of time, I chose Pillsbury Simply Rustic French Bread.

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Garnish the pasta with shredded cheese and a sprinkling of sage.

Here’s the finished product!

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The best way to describe the taste is deconstructed butternut squash ravioli. Since we love the ravioli, we really enjoyed the pasta! I didn’t add any salt during the initial cooking, but I definitely felt it needed it afterwards. I added salt, cracked black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to my plate. It really helped bring all of the flavors together.

Thanks Rachael Ray, finally I got a winner!

Sunday Morning

This morning the boyfriend and I headed downtown with our dog to take him to the dog park. Lucky for me, the park is right on the trail at Town Lake so I was able to squeeze in a quick run!

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Another beautiful morning in Austin, and another great run. Here are my splits:

Mile 1 10:34

Mile 2 11:04

Mile 3 10:46

We were in a rush to get moving this morning and I forgot to grab a Gu or Clif bar. I ran these three speedy miles solely on coffee we picked up on the way downtown. “Melissa runs on Dunkin!” 🙂

Operation Jack

During the winter of 2009, I found myself wrapped up in running blogs. Danica at Chic Runner and Sarah at SkinnyRunner amazed me with the amount of miles they covered during the course of a week. Mileage totals I had never ran in my life they were running in 7 days. I was inspired. I set my sights on Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio (the full, but I later downgraded to the half due to an injury) in November 2010.

At the end of January, I discovered a post on Danica’s page talking about Operation Jack and it’s founder, Sam Felsenfeld. Sam is attempting to run at least 1 marathon a week (61 total for the year) to raise Autism awareness. His son Jack was diagnosed with Autism just after he turned 3 years old. He hopes his 2010 year of marathons will help raise money for autism research as well as awareness across the country. He has just 10 marathons left this year to reach 61. Check out these posts to see how he went from couch to marathoner:

Where I Come From

From Unable to Run a Mile to a Full Marathon in 18 Months: Not as Unrealistic as You’d Think

Why I Think Couch to 26.2 is a Reasonable Goal

And then also, he posted another one today after I asked him via Twitter what his pace used to be like before he started BQing like nobody’s business:

The Secret of My Success

One of the races he is participating in is the RnR San Antonio next month. I created the team “Your Pace or Mine” and set up a donation page. Unfortunately, neither of my teammates are going to be joining me, so I will be flyin’ solo – running for Operation Jack! If you would like to make a donation to my team, I would greatly appreciate it! $1, $5, $10 – whatever you can! Fundraising really isn’t my forte; I feel awful asking people for money, especially with the economy the way that it is. Any little bit helps though 🙂 thank you in advance if you do donate! It’s really for a great cause.

Don’t forget to check out Sam’s blog to watch his progress, and if you’re on Twitter, you can follow him at @operationjack.

The Great Running Shoe Debacle

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Last fall when I first moved to Austin, I came to the realization I would need a new pair of sneakers. I had a couple pairs which I wore casually, but none I would be able to run regularly with.

After a bit of research and test runs in Academy, I decided on Asics Gel Nimbus 11. They fit like a dream, as if I was walking on soft, pillowy clouds. I used them for a few classes at the gym, and on the elliptical.

When I began training in May for my first half marathon, I slipped on the Asics and hit the road. A month went by, and I decided I needed a new pair. They weren’t worn out, but they just didn’t feel right. And hey, I’m a girl – I love buying a new pair of shoes 🙂

Enter Mizuno Wave Rider 13. I really liked how light they were and the way they looked, but after a few runs I noticed they weren’t quite supportive enough. I ended up wearing them to work instead (be jealous, I wear jeans & sneakers to work) and switching back to the Nimbus.

In the beginning of July, I was plagued by an intense case of shin splints. I was icing after every single run, stretching, and following a training plan that increased weekly mileage by no more than 10%. I took a few weeks off from training to allow my legs to recover.

I went to the Road Runner Sports website and answered a few questions from Shoe Dog to determine which pair was best for me. My feet are incredibly flat, so I pronate quit a bit when I run. At this point, I was using the Nike+ system and I was looking for a Nike shoe. From the results the website provided me, I chose Nike Structure Triax 13.

I am really not a huge fan of Nikes to begin with, but these really alleviated the problem. I was officially pain free. For about a month. This was just enough time for me to wear down the cushion on the arch of the shoe.

Next up? Asics GT-2150. The arch support in these shoes was the best out of all of the previous shoes, as it is a stability shoe. After an 8 miler and a 9 miler, the pain returned. Gah! It was at this point where I headed to Runtex to see if they could help. I was given a prescription for orthotics, and off to InStep I went.

The combination of the 2150 and orthotics was just what I needed! I ran the half marathon in them, and I had no shin pain whatsoever afterwards.

After my recent 10k, the outsides of my calves started hurting. This was a completely new issue, which I can blame the speedy downhill running I did for an hour. I think also it may have come from “over-correcting” my pronation problem.

Yesterday, I went back to Runtex on a mission to purchase a new pair of running shoes. A few pairs were recommended to me, and here’s the winner:

 

 

Mizuno Wave Inspire 6. I am keeping my fingers crossed this will be the LAST time I need to change running shoes. I am tired of having to take unplanned rest days because of shin pain, and most importantly? I’m tired of shelling out $100+ every couple months! Wish me luck!

What running shoes do you run in? Did it take you awhile to find the “perfect” pair?

2010 IBM Uptown Classic 10k Race Recap

Packet pickup was quick and painless. I headed over to Amplify Credit Union on Friday after work and received this:

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Dare I say the contents of the bag were better than what we got at the Wine & Dine 1/2? Yes, that is 100% correct. Swag bag contents aren’t incredibly important, but I was surprised that this small race gave its runners more than a Disney one. Especially if you think of it like this: $35 10k versus $135 1/2 marathon. A little weird.

I woke up at 5am this morning, and had a cup of coffee while I got ready. The road right near the start would be closing at 7 so I wanted to get there before then, even if it meant standing around until the 8am start.

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Once I had parked, I had a Lemon Zest Luna Bar, drank some water, and did a little bit of light stretching. After I pinned my race bib to my shirt, I made my way to the start.

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Thank god they had a bouncy house, they are my favorite 😉

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The race had either 2000 or 3000 runners; the announcer said both numbers but I’m not sure which was accurate. Either way, the average runner age was 39, which I thought was pretty interesting. It’s great that people stay active as they get older because some people just write it off as “Well, I’m old so I can’t run anymore or stay in shape”.

Here’s a few pics from the course:

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Oh why hello there LV…

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After running through the Domain, the rest of the course was pretty boring. We basically ran the perimeter of the IBM complex and on a few roads. Luckily my iPod playlist kicked ass and really powered me through the miles.

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In the home stretch!!

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I crossed the finish line at 1:13:20. I am ecstatic with my time, considering I haven’t put in a single mile since the half. I felt amazing as I ran through the finish chute and the announcer called out my name. Loved it 🙂

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I grabbed a chocolate Muscle Milk Light and I’ve got to say – it was pretty damn tasty. I heard someone complaining that it was chunky, but the people handing them out instructed you to shake it well before opening. Apparently he wasn’t in the mood to follow directions. Another plus: Muscle Milk = milk-free. That’s a win in my book!

The race directors were really on top of things – they already were posting runners’ times! I appreciated that, except my page wasn’t posted yet. I had a rough idea from my Garmin, so I figured I would just check the website later.

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After I finished stretching, I decided that I wasn’t going to wait in line for a massage. It was already kind of long, and I was in the mood to get the hell outta there.

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All in all, I really enjoyed the race. The course was decent, the weather was gorgeous, my iPod playlist kicked ass – I was in the zone 🙂

After I got home, it was time for a (of course) cocktail!

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Now I’m off to take care of some important business: FOOTBALL!

Happy Sunday!

Inaugural Disney Wine & Dine 1/2 Marathon Race Recap

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Well, first things first: we finished our first 1/2 marathon!! When I initially stumbled across the race website back in May, I knew we were meant to run it. Our wine nights, whether in person or via Skype, are frequent. We love to cook and enjoy delicious food. The Wine & Dine 1/2 was calling our name!

We trained separately for five months, her in Florida and I in Texas, and we met up in Orlando on October 1, 2010. Our first stop? The Expo at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex.

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Obviously since neither of us had done a race this large before, we had never experienced an Expo. Needless to say, our wallets were not pleased by the time we dragged ourselves out of there.

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The Expo was pretty well organized, and there was minimal chaos. It might have helped that we showed up the first day, only one hour after it opened. You pick up your number, check your D-Tag, and pick up your swag bag (not impressed with the contents, I will say though). Quick and painless!

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After picking up all of our race supplies, we grabbed a glass of Prosecco and began wandering around. We both invested in iFitness belts, a Wine & Dine t-shirt and wine glass, and I purchased a BondiBand. We also saw Jeff Galloway speaking on stage about running the race using the Galloway Method.

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That evening we headed to Café Tu Tu Tango for dinner and drinks, followed by a trip to a dueling piano bar and a nearby dance hall. Probably not the best pre-race day lineup, but the race wasn’t until 10pm the next night. Vacation mode was in full-swing!

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Saturday was fairly uneventful, as we rested up for the big night! Lots of eating, napping, and watching tv. Around 5:30pm, we began getting ready:

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and headed to the food court for a pre-race snack: almond butter & bananas on whole wheat toast:

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We boarded the bus at 6:30 to head over to the start line. In hindsight, I probably should have brought this food with me. It was WAY too early to eat that, with a 10pm start time. We were fully stocked with Gu, but something substantial closer to the race would have been much more beneficial.

Here we are at the pre-race party:

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Around 9:45 we were all herded towards the starting line. We were in Corral C, but the race didn’t start in waves, which I thought was a little odd. Everyone started at once, and it made certain stretches of the race really cramped.

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And we’re off!

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This is what a lot of the race looked like, extremely dark and on back roads. I know there is only so much we can run in the parks, but the rest of the course was pretty boring. Don’t get me wrong though, there was a bit of entertainment:

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And after running all of this:

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… it was a HUGE relief it was to see this:

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After running through Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and a couple hotels, we were about to cross the finish line in Epcot – thank god!!

We finished in 3:12. We walked probably about 50% of it, but we were completely okay with that. Our goal was to finish, and that’s exactly what we did 🙂

After crossing the finish line, we were handed a bag with a banana, muffin, granola bar, etc. in it. Then we got in line to receive our medals, and headed to pickup our bag from bag check. This is where things took a turn for the worse.

We were all funneled through four separate doors, which we assumed would lead us to four separate lines for bag pickup. This was not the case; the four doors emptied out into one large building, which had little to no airflow. Cramming hundreds of hot, sweaty runners into a small confined area only minutes after finishing a half marathon? Massive fail. People were passing out left and right. Disney definitely dropped the ball here, although it was pretty surprising since they put on numerous other endurance events throughout the year.

After grabbing our bag, we entered the Finish Line Party. Basically, it was the Food & Wine Festival setup. This party was open to the 11,000 runners, plus family/friends of the runners who purchased tickets for it (at $35, if anyone is curious). Now imagine all of those people in line at 25-30 food/drink kiosks. Pure pandemonium. The last thing you want to do after running a half is stand in line waiting for food. Especially when you enter the party with only about an hour to enjoy to it! We hit the champagne kiosk,  which had a bearable line. Then we went to Puerto Rico for frozen mojitos, and Carly had some soup. We snagged a spot on the steps of the Mexico ride, and then we decided we needed to leave ASAP. After grabbing a beer from the 15 Beers for 15 Years kiosk, we headed towards the exit.

A place where I expected Disney to fail was the transportation back to our hotel, since there were SOO many people at Epcot. However, we were able to board a bus right after we arrived at our bus stop. We arrived at our hotel, and then it was time for this:

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Happiness 🙂

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Overall, we had a GREAT time! I mean, we finished our first half marathon together – how awesome is that! Would we run this race again? Definitely. The logistics at the bag pickup/finish line party need to be worked out on Disney’s end, but it was the Inaugural year so we can’t complain too much.

Hopefully we’ll be back for the 2011 race!

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