Sunday, August 30, 2009


I don't mean to make this into a weight loss blog, because it isn't, but I just had to share the results of my latest body composition test. In the past 10 weeks I've lost 4lbs and about 2.5% body fat!!! Let's celebrate with pizza and ice cream... just kidding. I'm very excited that what has sometimes been hard has paid off, and I really can lose weight healthfully. YAY!


No run today so I thought I'd give a little update on our Chicago trip. D. was helping out with a conference and I tagged along to do some sightseeing.

We got there last Sunday afternoon and had Ghiradelli ice cream sundaes for my birthday.

Nom, nom, nom, nom.

Then we hit Navy Pier for some ferris wheel action.

I actually took this photo. Very artsy, if I say so myself.

It was only slightly terrifying.

The next day I hit up the Lincoln Park zoo.

This is a sea lion getting its teeth brushed (and then rewarded with a fish- not sure how well that works).

And on a skyline boat tour on the Chicago river.

I took that one, too. I'm on a roll here!

The next day I went to the Museum of Science and Industry. One of my favorite exhibits was the Smart Home.

They also had this cute little R2D2 mailbox outside.

Monday and Tuesday mornings I got in a short run along a popular walk, run, bike, swim path along Lake Michigan. Nice views, but it was super crowded- even at 7am, which should miss most of the "before work" crowd and the tourists.

You would not catch me in that water. Those people are wearing wet suits!

And that's about it for Chicago other than tromping around the Miracle Mile area. Fun, fun, fun. I really enjoy Chicago!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Worm Ranching

After seeing an exhibit about vermicomposting at the Smart House exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry I decided I was ready to take the plunge and actually set up a worm composting system in our kitchen. Every morning I throw away banana peels and coffee grinds... perfect garden food... and the only thing holding me back was my fear that kitchen composting would stink up the kitchen. Not so with the worms. As long as you don't "overwhelm" them, they turn your kitchen trash into fertile soil smell free.

Here's the worm farm in pictures.

Take one Rubbermaid

Punch some holes in the top (easier said than done)

Put in some starter dirt

And then the stars of the show

In the bucket

Covered with shredded newspaper (I think this is the only thing the Shopper Stopper has ever been good for)

And in the cabinet

To make compost, just add food in the dirt under the newspaper and the worms do the rest. Easy peasy.

Fly-by Post

Hi all,

This is going to be a quick post, but expect some great things in the worlds of tomatoes and worms in the near future. That's right. I bought the box, I bought the soil, and I bought the worms. But first my run.

Distance: 11mi
Type: Long
Time: 1:42:36
Pace: 9:20 min/mile

This was a pretty good run despite the fact that I think my hip belt makes my joints hurt and I need to return to wearing the Camelbak. It was also crazy busy out this morning. The Madison Mini Marathon was going on and there was some kind of high-school-aged triathlon thing happening. All I can say about that is that riding a bike in a bathing suit and 60 degrees can't be fun.

Okay, I'm going to run away for now, but like I said, stay tuned for tomatoes and vermiculture.

Friday, August 28, 2009

So I'm a Puker...

Hiya! I'm back!

I've actually been back since Wednesday afternoon, but I've been busy busy busy getting back on track after a great trip to Chicago.

Today's run was pretty hard. It was supposed to be a warm-up plus 30 minutes in HR zone 3, but I think I pushed myself beyond that.

Distance: 5mi
Type: Tempo
Time: About 46 min total including the warm-up and cool down
Pace: A little over 9 min/mile

I warmed up for .5 mi and then did the core of the workout for the next 3.5 miles followed by a 1 mi cool-down. The first 1/2 mile of the tempo run time got lumped in with my warm-up so I don't know how fast I was going. The next three miles were done in 8:31, 8:20, and 8:04. The first mile pace was about right for a tempo run- I was really pushing myself at the end.

And then I puked. I have a really sensitive stomach when it comes to pushing myself during runs. Does anyone know how I can stop this? I puke after almost every race. It's really irritating! Do I just need to do more hard runs to raise my puke threshold?

Anyway, it was a good run even if it wasn't what was scheduled.

I did a few runs in Chicago along Lake Michigan Monday and Tuesday and caught up on the weight training I missed when I was gone on Wednesday. Tomorrow will be 11 miles.

I hope to do a longer post about the trip this weekend. Have a great Friday, everyone!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It are my birthday!


Happy Birthday to me!!! As of 5:45am Eastern time I am 27 years old. Thank you to all the people who remembered me and will remember me today (it's only 7am after all).

I'm excited because I'm going to Chicago today with D and staying until Wednesday morning. He's working at and attending a conference, and I'm going to do some sightseeing, and we'll meet at the end of the day for dinner. I have a co-worker who used to live in Chicago, and she's had some great recommendations for places to see and go to eat. I'm planning to go to the Lincoln Park Zoo and take a skyline boat cruise on Lake Michigan, plus do some serious window shopping because our hotel is right on Michigan Ave.

But the most important thing is that this afternoon we have a date with the Ghiradelli Chocolate Shop for sundaes. Oh dear... it's right by our hotel... I'm glad I don't have an insulin resistance test scheduled for right after this trip.

I bid you adieu for a few days. If you really don't care about my birthday, but you love tomatoes and food prep, check out the previous post- I added some pics of our newest harvest.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Hello from tomato land. I just harvested 18 lbs of tomatoes from the garden. I have no idea what we are going to do with all of them because we are going out of town tomorrow, but I did manage to give away 4 to the guy who lives next to us. The most exciting thing is I picked one with a nose! Call the Enquirer. Edited to say: Pictures at the bottom.

Today's run was really really good. Not my fastest ever, but I felt really strong the whole time.

Distance: 10 mi
Type: Long
Time: 1:33:45
Pace: 9:22 min/mile

Part of this was fueled by an unintentional (Can anyone else just not control themselves at a restaurant?) carbo load last night at Bluephies. Three pieces of bread with olive cheese spread and 4 baby enchiladas are good for long runs but no so great for the figure. Oh well... I'm back to normal eating habits today.

Some people post pictures of all the beautiful things they cook and eat during the day. Me? It's all about farm animals and vegetables (remember, for the purposes of this blog a tomato is a vegetable).

Tomato with a nose!

I kind of thought about trying to put sunglasses on it after the fact, but I really don't think that would have worked.

Here is our harvest (minus the nasty ones I didn't realize were nasty when I was picking them):

This is maybe 15lbs of tomatoes. You know how many lbs of tomatoes the Joy of Cooking katsup (I think it was katsup) recipe calls for??? 40lbs!!!!! I can't even imagine.

Today I just washed and bagged the little guys and threw them in the freezer. This is how you preserve tomatoes if you have access to modern conveniences and are lazy/going out of town the next day:

So I guess having a deep freeze is helpful if you want to save a lot of food. Not sure if there are any outlets in our storage unit... or if we could get something that big down there without anyone noticing (we did get the treadmill up here...).

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Fair

No run today. It was more cross training at the sensory deprivation gym for me. The picture on the left is what I got to look at all 45 minutes I was on the elliptical. Sometimes you get lucky and someone will be running on the track. No music except that I brought my MP3 player. Actually this gym has some perks because it is open earlier than the other gym and it's never crowded (I wonder why...). Also, I think it's a bit cooler than the other gym.

Anyway, today will hopefully be less stressful than yesterday. I feel like I have 29348793840329 things to get done before we leave for Chicago on Sunday. Work to do, e-mails to write, stuff to mail. Blah. I'm excited to go, but not about all the run-up. Probably no paper of the day. Almost everything on my list needs to get done STAT.

I'm in kind of a blah mood (and the weather is cold and rainy-ew) so I'm going to end with some happy pictures I took at the fair last weekend.

Enormous rabbit laying on a frozen water bottle.

Afro chicken

Nom nom nom nom nom

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Easy peasy


Distance: 5mi
Type: Easy
Time: 49:16
Pace: 9:51

Still doing the really slow easy stuff. It was raining when I got up this morning, but it had stopped by the time I started to run. It started again at about mile 4 and I came home pretty wet. I am not one of those people who likes to run in the rain, but I guess it's good for me to remember I'm not made of sugar, and I won't melt. This is turning into a busy day, so I better get moving. Not sure if there will be a paper of the day today. Maybe if everything I'm working on turns out...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sensory Deprivation Zen Elliptical Training

Real quick one before our staff meeting!

No run today. I did 45 minutes of elliptical/Zen mind training at the Shell this morning. The normal gym (the one with the TVs) isn't open in the mornings this week because school is not in session so I had to go to the more bare bones gym where your only visual stimulus is watching people run around an 1/8 mile track. Actually, it's kind of fun to put on my MP3 player and zone out for 45 minutes. My daydreams can be pretty entertaining... to me anyway.

Also, the world has ended. Brett Favre is going to the Vikings. Actually I don't care about the NFL, the Packers, Brett Favre and the rest, but don't let anyone in WI hear me say that. The radio station is giving away, "We'll never forget you, Brent" t-shirts. This is bigger news than the mayor of Milwaukee getting beaten with a pipe for trying to break up a family fight at the fair last weekend. Crazy stuff.

Paper of the Day: Prediction and Interaction in Complex Disease Genetics: Experience in Type-1 Diabetes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You say tomato...

Important note: For the purposes of this post, a tomato is a vegetable and not a fruit. Bear with me, people.

Last night D and I had our first adventure into the world of canning our own food. I picked about 37 tomatoes from our garden this weekend (and only had to toss a couple of them) so we had to do something to preserve them. Enter canning. Last week D made some delicious salsa with our tomatoes and we thought that would be an easy thing to try. So how does one go from a bunch of tomatoes sitting in a Whole Foods reusable bag on the living room floor to canned salsa? Here's the story in pictures.

First you get some tomatoes. Lest you think our tomatoes are any less freaky than our carrots, check out The Jolly Red Giant on the right there:

And the Siamese Tomato Twins:

Okay. Enough with the tomato pictures. How does one make tomatoes into salsa?

First you have to blanch them. This seems to be a recurring theme in vegetable prep. To do this, you cut an X very lightly on the bottom of each tomato, then each tomato is boiled for about a minute

followed by an invigorating ice bath

and a chance to dry.

This makes the tomato's skin shrivel up so you can peel it off.

As you can imagine, this is incredibly messy. Don't wear your prom dress.

Then the tomatoes are cut up and put in the food processor along with onion, jalepeno, and spices.

Puree, and you have salsa.

So now for the canning part. The first thing is that we did not actually put anything into cans. We used jars. I guess we could call it "jarring", but then what would we call my driving or D's atonal musical compositions?

Canning tomato products or anything acidic is easier than canning non-acidic foods because they are less vulnerable to spoilage.

Everything gets washed first thing and then the jars go into a 250-degree oven for 40 minutes and the lids and rings get a dip in the hot tub.

The salsa has to get hot, too.

When everything is nice and sterilized, you funnel the hot salsa into the hot jars and screw on the hot lids.

using some fancy canning tools we bought from Target.

Each jar is set aside to cool. During the cooling process, somehow (physical science is a complete mystery to me) a vacuum is created(?) in the jar which causes the lid to get sucked down. This keeps the bacteria and other nasties out.

And there you have it. Canned salsa. I know you'll all want to run out and do this yourself now that the price of salsa at the store is an astronomical $1.79.

Anyway, as a city girl, it's been an eye-opening experience to learn how much work is involved in the simplest things we buy from the grocery store. It makes me think of In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, a book that is mainly about the evils of modern packaged food. I remember reading the book and nodding along to everything he wrote, but it's one thing to believe that and a whole different thing to commit yourself to a life without those conveniences. Just one bag of broccoli, just one can of salsa is the result of hours(!) of work when you think about the whole life cycle of the food from getting the garden ready, tending it, harvesting the crops, and finally preparing it. It makes me appreciate all the conveniences I have and gives me a lot of respect for all the men and women who were and are still completely self sufficient when it comes to food.

Heart Rate Training

I'm going to see if I can get in the habit of doing just a short blurb for each workout in the morning. Yes I just said I was going to only post once a week, but this blog basically has no continuity anyway, so who cares?!? Maybe one big post with pictures (which will hopefully be today) a week and little ones each day. I'm less motivated to visit blogs that don't get updated at least once a day unless I have some other personal connection with the author so I should try to do the same with mine, right?

Distance: 4mi
Type: Easy
Time: 39:39
Pace: 9:54

I'm doing another cut back week this week. I have a little more mileage but no intensity work. I'm also using my heart rate monitor so I know how hard or easy I'm running. Easy runs are kept in HR zone 1. It's both physically and psychologically difficult to run that slow. Actually the day after leg day when I'm trying to lose weight it actually feels about right to run that slow, but part of me hate hate hates it. All I can think about is how much faster I was this time last year. And I was. I But all I can do is accept that and try to move forward and improve where I am now. There are a lot of differences between this year and last year. I just can't compare. And anyway, the whole point of this run was to go slow. It doesn't do me any good to run my easy runs too hard, and every runner falls into that trap.

All right... enough free electronic therapy for one day.

Ah! One other thing... my goal is to read one new paper every day at work. Sometimes when I'm working on a project I get stuck because I'm just not sure of the best way to present some information. I'm hoping that this project will give me more ideas of what's going on in the research world.

Paper of the Day: Genome Based Predictions of Common Diseases: advances and prospects.

The truth is that I know next to nothing about genetics, but it's going to be an important component of an upcoming project so I guess I better start learning!

Back later for tomatoes!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

La Florida

Hi everyone! I've been getting off track with my plan to update every Sunday because I've had some pretty full weekends lately. Hopefully that makes for more interesting- if less frequent- posts.

Last week was a big running week for me.

M- 5mi easy
T- 6mi with hill repeats
R- 6mi progressive tempo
F- 4mi easy
S- 10 hot miles. I was back in FL, and I am not used to the heat and humidity. The last two miles were pretty rough, but I made it through with the help of my mom who biked along with me. Never doubt the motivational power of having company on a long run.
Su- 3mi easy

I only got in two upper body workouts and a few days of push-ups last week. This week is a cut-back for running, but I'm going to be back on track with lifting and pushups (and eating- mmmmm TooJay's chocolate coconut cake).

I got my fresh fish and seafood fix when I was in Florida last weekend. I know you can get the fresh stuff up here, but it's just not the same.

When I got back on Monday, I was welcomed by lots of ripe tomatoes:

I picked 13 ripe ones and only had to chunk two of them out because they had rotten spots. And I don't think that was really a waste because they made a very satisfying splat.

I've already given a few away, and we are having people over for dinner tonight so fresh salsa is on the menu. Plus broccoli, but I'm so over that right now. Just call us the vegetable pushers.

The reason I went back to FL this weekend was to see my baby brother graduate from UCF. I don't have any good pictures of the graduate, but here's a really unflattering one.

Just to be fair, here's a bad one of me:

A shark ate my other arm. That's why you can't see it. This picture just proves that I am infact a Florida girl, even though I reside north of what some people (my dad) consider the arctic circle (I-40).

Anyway... obviously we went to the beach. There were tons of sea turtle nests:

And we saw a really cute little ghost crab, but I didn't have my camera. :(.

Otherwise we played Euchre, saw Julie and Julia (very cute, I highly recommend it) and at chocolate cake (well, I ate chocolate cake), which is pretty much an ideal weekend for me.

Hope all is well out there in Blogland. Hopefully I'll be back on track with Sunday posting this Sunday.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Carrot Freak Show

Morning all,

We had some guests in town so I didn't have a chance to do my Sunday update until Monday, but I guarantee this post will be worth the wait.

I had some good, tough runs and lifting sessions last week.

Monday- 4.5mi and upper body.

Tuesday- 6mi with 2 x 800 fast and 2 x 1 mile. I thought the first of the two mile repeats was going to kill me. I'm working on trying to push myself during my training just like I will have to push during a race. I did lower body strength in the afternoon.

Wednesday- 45 minutes on the elliptical Wednesday. I definitely needed an easy day. Upper body in the afternoon. My shoulders were super sore because I'm doing tons of overhead presses this round.

Thursday- 4.5 mi with 1 mile fast at the end. Lower body in the afternoon. This was one of those days where I didn't want to lift weights, but it actually ended up being a great workout. I was doing squats and I got in the groove with my stance and was getting good depth. It was a nice reminder that some of the best workouts are the ones we don't really feel like doing.

Friday- A very very tired 4 mi plus a lot of walking around.

Saturday- Decided to make this a rest day. It was kind of rainy out, and I was just plain tired. I did do a max push-up test and made it to 15. I squeezed another four out at the end but I just couldn't do the 20th. I'd love to be able to do 30 pushups by the end of the year, but we'll see.

Sunday- 9 mi long run. This actually went pretty well. The weather was beautiful and I felt strong the whole way. My average pace as 9:20 min/ mile, which is a little disappointing because this time last year I was running right around 9 min/mile or even a little under, but I have to accept that this is not last year, and I need to be happy with what I have now.


Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Carrot Freak Show:

You will be shocked and amazed at the three-legged carrot:

The Siamese carrot triplets. Three bodies and three heads all joined together by the same neck!

The horror! The terror! Shield your childrens's eyes! No mind is able to comprehend the carrot freak show! Anyone who even attempts it will surely be driven mad.

Heed my warming, good people, that this could happen to you if you don't thin your carrots and give them proper room to grow. Otherwise you might have one of those lurking in your garden. Not that I don't have dinner plans tonight with ole Mr. Three-legs up there.

But seriously, we had a great harvest from our garden this week. My in-laws (our special guests noted above) helped us collect and clean all this stuff. Here's a picture of the bounty. What is up with my nose, though? I swear I've been laying off the 2-buck Chuck.


We had a great weekend, enjoying the beautiful weather, eating tasty food, and playing tourist here and in Milwaukee. I'm getting kind of tired of typing (how do you people who do this every day keep up with it???), but this picture pretty much sums things up:

I can't believe the most flattering picture of me from the entire weekend involves a styrofome cheese cowboy hat.

Until next time!