Thursday, August 16, 2018

A Run Worth Analyzing

Thursday evening I hit a little milestone post-surgery: I completed my third 4-mile run of the week, bringing my miles to 12 before I even reached the weekend. It's my longest mileage week of recovery!

But that's not why I want to analyze this run. I want to remember how it felt.

I ran the first two miles with Elizabeth, who is about 23 weeks pregnant, and the last two alone. For the first mile, we stuck together. We kept a very easy pace of about 9:51. I felt like my body had shifted into its perfect gear; I could have kept at that pace forever and never needed a rest.
We took a brief walk break at a mile and took a photo, then ran the second mile nice and easy. Including the walk at the beginning, our average pace was 10:21, which is much closer to the pace we tend to run together these days. Little Pudge is getting to be a burden for Elizabeth.
At the two mile mark, Elizabeth dropped back as planned and I continued on my own. We agreed that I would just finish my run without looping back to check on her at all, and she'd meet me at the end.

My third mile and fourth miles were fast. There were times I saw 9:10 or faster on my watch. I took a brief walk at the end of mile 3, more because I wanted to than that I needed it, and by the end of mile 4 I was so desperate to finish strong that I was scared to slow down for fear I'd end up walking again. I finished the last quarter mile at a sprint, running sub-9.
It was like my legs had a mind of their own. They felt amazing and strong. It was humid and gross out, and my breathing was ragged, but it's been worse.

I felt like I was transcending something.

And I had to stop and think after this run, because lately I've been so sure that summer has sapped me of all my speed and strength, and back-to-school stress has sapped me of my motivation and energy. But tonight I saw that everything is still there. It's just been resting a bit as I acclimate.

I've been slow lately because of the combination of summer, work, and having a pregnant running buddy, and pace has been one major factor in my reluctance to build distance right now. In fact, I spent some of our run tonight lamenting over my disinterest in running a half marathon anytime soon and yet not wanting to miss the opportunity this winter - I don't want to wait another year to run a half!
I ran this route three times this week, and felt stronger and faster each time.
By the time I finished this run, I realized that maybe I am ready to build distance after all, because I felt it all fall into place again.

As Elizabeth and I adjust our plans to fit both our needs as her pregnancy continues, I'll have the opportunity to build my own schedule and work in long runs. The only thing holding me back is myself. The good news is that I think they're finally starting to really fall away.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

We Eat Tofu Now

This post is going to be full of pictures of delicious meals that don't look very appetizing. Why is photographing food so hard?!

For the longest time, I've had an issue with eating meat at home. For some reason, if I've prepared and cooked it, I get grossed out eating it. The texture makes me want to gag. I often end up eating whatever side I've prepared and leaving the meat to go to waste.

This happens even with things I typically love, like salmon and shrimp. It never happens when I'm at a restaurant, but we don't go out to eat very often, so most nights I barely touch my dinner.

I've always really loved tofu, but have been scared to cook it at home. Once I bought a block of it and it sat in the fridge for six months before I tossed it, untouched. Sometimes when I order a meal with tofu, I ask Matt if he wants any, but usually it's spicy so he doesn't partake. While we were in Seattle, I had tofu a couple times, and Matt was finally able to try some himself. Imagine my surprise when on our last night there, he ordered tofu in his poke bowl.
That was a turning point. When I realized Matt would eat tofu, it made more sense to learn to cook it. The consistency (somewhere between an omelet and frittata) never freaks me out and I like that its mild flavor can really take on any taste.
I watched a YouTube video to learn how to cook it, bought some already-pressed tofu, and tried it out. I was intimidated, but it turns out it's really easy to prep and cook! I'm still figuring out if I prefer the super firm or extra firm variety, but we've had tofu for every home-cooked dinner for two weeks now and I am very happy with it.
This is the brand our stores carry. Right now I think I prefer the extra firm to the super firm.
My favorite way to prepare it is with curry. I sometimes use a million shortcuts that would make Sandra Lee proud, including adding frozen vegetables or sweet potatoes to the dish instead of fresh. Dinner takes ten minutes to make and tastes amazing.
We usually use Patak's Korma curry, but I want to learn how to make it from scratch.
I'm excited to learn more ways to prepare it, because unlike most meals, it's so quick and easy to make that I don't mind experimenting a little. Plus, a block costs about $3 and easily makes enough food for two nights, so we're saving money on top of everything else.
Passage Foods sauces have all proven tasty!
This pad thai did not disappoint! 
I am not going vegetarian, but Matt and I are both happy to be eating less meat because the meat industry - especially beef - is terrible for the environment. I'm also happy to finally be able to stomach a meal at home. I feel like I'm on a soapbox, but it's not moralistic at all. I'm just suddenly in love with tofu and I don't know why it took me so long to buy it!

If you've been curious but intimidated, like I was, take it from me - tofu is awesome!


Saturday, August 4, 2018

Your Love Is

After Scott and Robby's ceremony, a few people came up to me to compliment my speech/poem. One of Robby's old colleagues suggested I put the poem online so other people could use it at weddings. Part of me preened to hear such high praise, but the socially-inept part of me just mumbled an awkward (but genuine) "thank you".

A third part of me - the writer, the artist - was torn between wanting to share the poem and wanting to avoid the possibility of someone else taking credit for it. In the end, the proud part won out, so I've posted the poem below. I really believe it's the kind of poem that's better heard than read, but I'm not about to record myself reciting it.

If you want to use it, please give credit where it's due.
I spent a few months choosing a photo of the guys and formatting the poem (I think I printed more than a dozen drafts before I was happy with the final result) before framing it to send to them. They received it today in the mail.

Being asked to speak at their wedding and being able to share these words, which I wrote for them specifically, was one of my proudest moments. I am happy to share them here, too, so that others can hear the message of love and perhaps share it with others.