Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Marathon Training Update: Week 13

Flying Pig training is ticking right along! On March 10th, I completed my 6th half marathon – the Tom King Classic. It was a gorgeous day, and I stretched it out into 16 by running 3 miles around LP Field before. The logistics of having a race at a football stadium are genius: plenty of parking, inside bathrooms, lots of space, awards/post-race buffet in the club level, and finishing on the 50-yard line with your picture on the Jumbotron.

photo (16)

My original plan was to run the half at marathon goal pace – 10:20/mile. But I inevitably got caught up in racing, and I felt good on a flat course and started laying down 9:40/mile splits. Mom & Dad ran the 5K, and Joe was post-call, so I was on my own. At mile 8, I picked up a new friend who had been near me most of the time, and we started talking. We got each other through the last 5 miles, and I finished in 2:09:45. It was so refreshing to finish a half feeling pretty good, since the last two hadn’t gone well.


Two weeks later, I met my mom for 18 miles on the Stones River greenway, a new-to-me place to run. Spring in Middle Tennessee is remarkably green, and the greenway was a great way to experience its beauty. We ran 9 miles to the top of the Percy Priest dam and then turned around. The hills started to take their toll around mile 13, and 15-18 were a major struggle. There was walking. There were aching hips and knees and the beginning of a blister on the bottom of my left toe. My mom kept telling me that marathon training feels like this. But we finished with a personal distance record for me!

photo (17)

With a 16 and an 18 under my fuel belt, the next stop is 20, which seems like an unspeakably long way to run. Additionally, I’m doing it the day before my ordination to the priesthood. With friends and family in town who run, we’ll break it up into loops so that I always have company. It’ll be a great way to catch up with people and share another big accomplishment with them.

Only 5 1/2 weeks away from my marathon debut!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wasabi Salmon with Bok Choy, Cabbage, & Shiitakes

I grew up watching Indiana University college basketball with my mom. If you want proof of our street cred, we had two (not simultaneous) cats named Bobby Knight. Since they moved to Nashville, my parents have had season tickets to Vanderbilt men’s basketball games, and as one of my alma mater’s and the place of our employment, Joe and I have also become Commodores fans. Since the athletics at my undergraduate university were seriously lacking and not supported by the student body, it’s been exciting to watch some real student-athletes populate a good, talented team. Unlike other universities, a lot of our players stay to get their degree, so the fans get to watch them develop as players and people. They’re actually STUDENT-athletes, and I enjoy cheering for a team that I can be proud of on and off the court. After our big SEC tournament win, we were headed to the NCAA tournament for March Madness. Unfortunately, Saturday night’s game against Wisconsin didn’t go as we had hoped, and I was devastated for this group of seniors that the season ended with frustration and anger.


So thanks to Festus, Steve, Lance, Jeff, and Brad for being great men and great athletes. We’ll miss you, but we know that there are great things to come for you all. Thanks for making this season one to remember. I’m holding out hope for the women’s basketball team to make a big run in the NCAA tournament!

Unlike these guys, I’m not naturally athletic. I played basketball in 7th grade and scored a grand total of 2 points. I was cut from the cross-country team my sophomore year (which is a long and painful story). But I can always get behind lean protein and veggies. One of my major dietary weaknesses is carbs, but I didn’t even miss them in this meal. I made two salmon fillets and 1/2 the mayonnaise mixture but the full amount of vegetables. For a one-pan, 30-minute meal, this one is awfully elegant and sophisticated. Perfect with a bottle of white wine on a warm spring day.


Wasabi Salmon with Bok Choy, Cabbage, & Shiitakes
source: Bon Appetit


  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi paste (Japanese horseradish paste)
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 4 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets (preferably wild)
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound baby bok choy, halved (or regular, chopped)
  • 2 cups (packed) finely shredded green cabbage (about 5 ounces)
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, sliced if large (or 4 oz package mixed gourmet mushrooms)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 450°. Heat a large rimmed baking sheet for 15 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, mix mayonnaise and wasabi in a small bowl. Stir in half of ginger and half of garlic; set aside. Season fish all over with salt and pepper. Place bok choy, cabbage, and mushrooms in a large bowl. Drizzle with oil and add remaining ginger and garlic. Toss to coat; season with salt and pepper.

  • Scatter vegetables across one side of baking sheet. Arrange salmon on other side. Roast, stirring vegetables occasionally, until salmon is cooked through, 12–15 minutes. Divide vegetables among plates; top with salmon. Serve wasabi mayonnaise alongside.

  • Friday, March 16, 2012

    Kale & Tortellini Soup

    I’ve developed a bad habit that goes something like this: make blog-worthy meal, forget to take a picture, promise to take a picture of the leftovers, take the leftovers for lunch which I eat in my windowless “office”, get down to the final serving of the leftovers and realized I haven’t taken a picture of this meal. So that’s why you’re getting an iPhone picture of this soup in my Pyrex container.

    photo (15)

    I’m on-call from Friday morning until Monday morning every other weekend, and two weekends ago, I had an awful call. I only go in for emergencies (i.e., deaths), and I went in four times. None of the patients were over 60. I haven’t talked much about work here because most of the stories are not my stories to tell, but I was zonked. I needed some therapeutic time in the kitchen and some comfort food, and this meal fulfilled both. The broth was surprisingly but pleasantly spicy from the red pepper. I generally prefer blended soups to soups with a lot of component parts, though for a satisfying meal, this did the trick.

    Kale & Tortellini Soup
    source: Apple A Day
    Yields 6 servings


    1 tsp. olive oil
    1 medium red onion, chopped
    4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
    2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
    3 ribs celery, chopped
    1 tsp. dried oregano
    1 tsp. dried Herbes de Provence (or thyme)
    1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
    1 (14 oz.) can low-sodium fire-roasted diced tomatoes
    8 c. low-sodium vegetable broth
    1 (14 oz.) can canellini beans, drained and rinsed
    6 oz. kale, washed, ribbed, and chopped
    1 (9 oz.) package whole wheat cheese tortellini
    1/2 c. grated Parmesan, for garnish (optional)


    1.  Heat oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 3 minutes more.

    2.  Add in carrots, celery, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes.  Cook mixture, stirring often, until softened, 5-6 minutes.

    3.  Add the tomatoes, with their juices, and broth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes.

    4.  Add beans, kale, and tortellini and continue simmering until tortellini are cooked through, about 6 minutes.  Serve topped with Parmesan cheese, if desired

    Monday, March 12, 2012

    Running Reads

    As if it wasn’t enough to spend 3-5 hours of my week running, sometimes I also read about running in my spare time. So I thought I would review a few of the running-related books that I’ve read in the past several months.


    Mile Markers by Kristin Armstrong

    I wanted to like this book more than I did, but at the end of the day, I just can’t relate to Kristin Armstrong that much. I don’t have a gaggle of girlfriends with whom I go gallivanting through the streets of Austin. I don’t have kids, and I’m not nearly as fast. The book is primarily a compilation of Armstrong’s blogposts and writings for Runner’s World organized by topic (“mile marker”). However, that lends itself to being chronologically disjointed and occasionally confusing. I did appreciate how she combines running and her faith and her odes to the support and camaraderie of her running friends, but I had trouble relating.


    Run to Overcome by Meb Keflezighi

    It’s actually been almost a year since I’ve read this book, but with Meb’s Olympic Trials success, it would be a good read before this summer. In large part, the book is an answer to the critics who claim that Meb isn’t “really” an American since he immigrated from Eritrea. What is more American, more of an example of what our national mythology holds up than an immigrant coming to American and being able to find success? Additionally, the “real” American argument is pretty thinly veiled racism, but that’s a rant for another time. Meb’s good-guy personality and his hard work shine through this book, even if the writing is pretty second-rate. It’s a quick read for anyone interested in the back story of an Olympic runner. I’ll certainly be cheering for Meb when he runs in London.


    Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

    Just in case I’m not the last runner in the world to read this book, there’s a reason that it’s so popular. I started it with some skepticism due to those militant barefoot runners who take so much inspiration from it, but there was very little barefoot propaganda in the book. The story is marvelously told, weaving in scientific discoveries and history with the main narrative of the “greatest race.” I couldn’t recommend it more highly, even if you’re not that into running. If you are into running, it will make you want to run more. While the book touches on veganism, barefoot running, and more, it isn’t about those movements specifically. At the end of the day, a well-written, fascinating story is really what this book is.  

    Friday, March 9, 2012

    Southwestern Pizza with Black Beans and Corn

    If I wanted to toy with your emotions, I might hint (wink wink nudge nudge) about how there was big doings going on at our house, that I had a “big announcement” coming up, or that we were thinking about adding another member to our family. But it all happened so fast, and Monday night, we met our newest family member:


    Meet Stitch! He’s a 6 year old Ragdoll (to go with our other two Ragdolls), and he came to us because his previous family was very stressful for him and he needed a home without young children and dogs. So far, he’s integrating pretty well after spending about 24 hours under our bed. He is super sweet and wants lots of love from Joe and me even if he isn’t too sure about the other cats in the house yet. I never thought I’d own three cats, but adopting an older cat was much less intense than getting another kitten, and I’m very happy that we can give Stitch a home where he can be happier.

    This week I’m thankful for fluffy cats and avocados. I bought a couple of avocados this week assuming I could figure out some way to use them. When I proposed this dinner to Joe, his eyes lit up, and I hoped it would live up to his expectations. No worries there. The black bean base was the perfect spice level, and all of the toppings made it fun to eat. Using a pre-made pizza crust (processed food alert! Sorry I’m not sorry!) meant that this will be a repeat weeknight dinner for sure.


    Southwestern Pizza with Black Beans and Corn
    source: Prevention RD
    Yields 4 servings (2 slices each)


    1 roll Pillsbury original pizza dough
    1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
    1 chile en adobo, minced + 2 tsp adobo sauce
    1/2 tsp chili powder
    1/2 tsp cumin
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 small tomato, diced
    1/2 small red onion, diced
    1/2 cup frozen corn kernels (no need to thaw)
    1 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese
    2 green onions, diced
    1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
    1/2 avocado
    2 Tbsp nonfat plain Greek yogurt
    1 Tbsp lime juice


    Preheat your oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and unroll pizza dough, stretching and pressing to create a rectangle reaching the sides of the baking sheet.

    Bake the dough for 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

    Meanwhile, place the black beans in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave them on HIGH for 45 seconds. Add the chile en adobo, sauce, chili powder, cumin, and salt to the bowl and use the back of a fork to smash the beans into a thick paste.

    Spread the black beans on the pizza dough, followed by the tomatoes, red onion, and frozen corn. Bake the pizza for 8 minutes or until edges of the pizza are just starting to turn golden. Remove the pizza, sprinkle the top with cheese, and bake for another 3-4 minutes until the cheese is melted.

    While pizza baked, mash the avocado with the Greek yogurt, lime juice, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. When pizza is done baking, smear the avocado cream across the pizza and sprinkle with green onions and cilantro. Serve immediately.

    Sunday, March 4, 2012

    Stuffed Peppadew Peppers for Krystal’s Virtual Baby Shower Fiesta

    I was very excited to be asked to participate in my very first virtual baby shower for my good blog friend Krystal! Krystal and I share a love of fun pop music and spin class, and she even made me a mix CD that I rely on often for motivation on long runs.


    Krystal is Filipino, and her husband Eric is Cuban, so our task was to come up with something from either of those cultures for her baby shower fiesta. I wanted to make an appetizer that wasn’t heavy or time-consuming, and these little bite-size peppers were perfect. Even though the peppadew pepper technically comes from South Africa, the sweet heat with some creaminess from the goat cheese makes me think of the Caribbean. These would go very well with a mojito after the baby comes!

    Please join me and others in congratulating Krystal and Eric on the impending addition to their wonderful family!


    Stuffed Peppadew Peppers
    source: inspired by Rumba & Eat, Drink, Smile


    1 jar peppadew peppers (found in larger grocery stores near the pickles & olives)
    1 small log high-quality goat cheese


    Allow goat cheese to soften at room temperature. Drain and rinse peppers. Using your hands, stuff goat cheese into peppers.