Traveling: Galveston, Texas

Galveston is an island one hour from Houston, perfect for a day trip. With weather in the 80’s, it was good to be near the ocean, but the town itself can be seeing in just a few minutes.

“Waffle House”: we did it like golfer Bubba Watson and went to this southern cultural icon for breakfast.

Waffle House

Waffle House

Pleasure Pier: carnival rides and a scary roller coaster, but you have to pay to even walk through it.

The Beach: so nice to actually be able to lay in the sun during my Spring Break!

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The Strand Historic District: a neighborhood downtown with Victorian buildings, shops, and ice cream stores.

 

 

 

Traveling: Easter in Houston, Texas

Not really sure what being a godmother entails, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to spend Easter with my goddaughter in Houston, Texas. We didn’t really do anything religious, but it was still a blessing to see little E. smiling all the time. As you can see from the pictures, she loves photos and eating, just like me!

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Besides the waffle bar my friends S. and J. prepared for Easter brunch, we also went to a couple of different places to eat in Houston. The brisket at Goode Company got me hooked on Texas barbecue for the whole week, but I was happy to see Houston also has some creative cuisine at The Union Kitchen.

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My First Marathon

26.2 miles in 4h45m21 (10:53/mile)! I did it! What a great feeling it is to accomplish a goal! And I did it with only 14 weeks of training, instead of my planned 20, and no injuries!

My first marathon!

My first marathon!

The Monday before the race I felt confident and excited, but as Friday and Saturday rolled in, I started having massive headaches. Also, my hamstrings were extremely sore from doing Cross Fit. The day before, I got a massage to relax me, but even after that I was still about to cry as I didn’t think I would have it in me. Besides all the physical and emotional woes, I did make a point to enjoy my food. The boyfriend and I went to True NY Pizza Company in Sparks for a baked ziti pizza. Yup, pasta as a pizza topping might be my favorite new thing, but I think I’ll have to reserve the 1,000 calorie slice for marathon days only. Then, of course, dessert: frozen yogurt topped with Nutella and all sorts of sweets.

The day of the race I arrived at the finish line 5 minutes before, just in time for a quick picture and the national anthem. I started too fast, with a 9 minute mile right away, but during that first mile I met S., a 50 year old woman who had done many marathons before and was planning on finishing this one under 5 hours, just like me. Throughout the whole race we were near each other and without her, I would have fallen behind. For most of the time, there was no one else in sight, so seeing her a bit ahead of me, made me feel confident I was at least going the right way!

My first marathon!

My first marathon!

The weather was perfect (60’s), I was wearing my favorite clothes, including my compression socks, the water stations had Vanilla gels, and the course was mostly flat. Everything was falling into place when at mile 21 the right side of my right foot started to hurt. I had to run the last 5 miles on my tippy toes. Oddly enough, those were one of my fastest miles and I passed S. to finish strong. I got 3rd place in my age group (18-29)! Okay, there were only 5 people in my age group, but still, I not only got a finisher’s medal, but also an award!!! Overall, I was number 45 out of 86, right in the middle of the pack. Not too bad for my first marathon.

The boyfriend was waiting for me at the finish line with a sign that read “Run, E., Run. I have cheesecake.” And he did! When we got home he also had a cake with candles that said 26.2 miles. What a sweetheart! I’m also really proud of him and my friends S. and B. who ran the 10k distance for the first time.

After devouring the cheesecake, we had all-you-can-eat sushi at Hiroba’s, where I finished my meal with more cheesecake. The afternoon was spent lying on the couch, but a few hours later we got up to have a celebration dinner at Harrah’s Steakhouse. Nice dress, high heels, a 1995 bottle of wine, onion soup in an onion bowl, crab cake, steak with béarnaise sauce, and, of course, more dessert, a tiramisu in a cute chocolate cup. I pretty much ate all of the 4,000 calories I had burned during the race in one sitting.

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I can’t express how happy I feel to have achieved this goal: a marathon, under 5 hours, in my hometown, before my 30th birthday. Plus, eating and drinking all of my favorites for a whole weekend. Exceptional! One of the best days of my life. The very best part, though, was being able to share this experience the boyfriend. He was by far the most supportive person during this period, even a couple of days later, when the tiredness and crankiness finally hit me.

Thank you everyone for all the encouragement. I am grateful I have been able to share this journey with you as well. And no, I won’t be running another marathon anytime soon. Training was a part-time job, and now I need a vacation from it, although more baked ziti pizza and another massage do sound good right now…

Eating: Borsch – Cabbage and Beet Soup

The boyfriend had some cabbage and beets in the fridge, and when I googled these two words, a Cabbage and Beet Russian soup called Borsch came up. At first it didn’t look too appetizing, but after a day, this low calorie soup was actually very tasty.

 

Borsch – Cabbage and Beet Soup

Ingredients:

1 head of cabbage – cored and chopped

3 beets – peeled and grated

1 onion – chopped

4 cloves garlic – minced

2 medium carrots – chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (traditionally, dill)

6 cups of water (or more)

1 Knorr chicken stock cube

1 cup pasta sauce

 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Wrap the beets in a large sheet of foil, place on a baking sheet, and cook until tender when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes. Let the beets sit until cool enough to handle. Grate them on the large-hole side of a box grater. Set aside. (Note: next time I’ll try grating raw beets, since they will cook in the soup later anyway.)

In a large pot over medium-high heat add oil and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the cabbage, stir to combine, and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage wilts, about 5 minutes (or more if you have a lot of cabbage like I did). Add the beets, carrots, tomato sauce, and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine and add chicken broth or water with the Knorr cube. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer, and cook until vegetables are tender and flavors blend, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot, with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and a sprinkle of dill, if you like (which I didn’t).

 

Makes 8 servings of 100 calories each.

Borsch

Borsch

Marathon Training – Week 8

The marathon in Reno is already this week, and I feel really good about being able to do the whole 26.2 miles, but this past weekend I got anxious when I saw the course map because I know I have a horrible sense of direction and I’m afraid I’ll get lost if the course is not very well marked. So this Saturday, the boyfriend drove me around from downtown, going thru Iddlewild Park, Mayberry Dr., 4th Street, Silva Ranch Rd., 3rd Street, all way to Crystal Peak Park, which is the turn around point. Then on Sunday he dropped me off at the park and I was able to do the whole 13.1 miles back to downtown in 2h25. I am feeling very confident with my training and the course now, but I’m still not sure about my 5-hour goal. There are quite a few hills near Crystal Peak Park! Nevertheless, I’m super excited for Sunday.

Other highlights of the week: my friend S.’s birthday dinner at “Slice of the Peak“, the “Up & Atom” fundraiser improv show the boyfriend did for my students’ trip to NY/DC, and spending all day painting shoes with my students.

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Eating: Baked Eggplant Parmesan

A few weeks ago I made an eggplant parmesan the boyfriend loved, so when I got more eggplants in my organic basket last week, I knew what I had to make for my “How I met your mother” series finale dinner.

It is a delicious dish, but it takes a while to prep. At least I can make it over the weekend, and then just bake it the day of.

The first step of the whole process is to peel, slice, and salt the eggplants. Then you have to leave them in a colander to bleed for an hour. Apparently this will take the bitter taste away. Then you wash the slices so they are not so salty and pat them dry with paper towels. Since I don’t have much patience, I only bled them for 20 minutes and quickly dried them with a towel after washing off the salt. They turned out just fine! Next time I’ll also try to skip the eggs and breadcrumbs process since I’m baking and not frying them.

 

Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients

2 large eggplants – peeled, sliced, bled, dried

4 tomatoes – chopped

4 cups pasta sauce (1 1/2 jars)

3 tbsp fresh rosemary

1 tbsp salt

3 eggs – beaten

3 cups breadcrumbs

3 cups mozzarella and parmesan cheese – mixed

 

Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat eggplant slices with beaten egg, then bread with breadcrumbs. Place eggplant slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake 15 minutes, flip and bake another 15 minutes.

Increase oven temperature to 475°F. Mix pasta sauce, tomatoes, and rosemary. In an ovenproof dish, layer pasta sauce, then eggplant, and top with cheeses. Repeat, finishing with cheese. Bake until the cheese melts and turns golden in spots, about 30 minutes.

 

Makes 8 servings of 360 calories each

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

Marathon Training – Week 9

Monday: basic training at the CrossFit place next to yoga. The workout went faster than last week’s, but I still don’t like how they push us. The result: my right knee started to hurt.

Tuesday: met my friend T. at the lower Galena Creek trail. 1.5 miles uphill. Horrible. 1.5 miles downhill. Much better. I know hills are important, but I really can’t stand them. 2 hours later: my right knee was really hurting.

Wednesday: had to rest. Grr…

Thursday: had to rest again. Grr…

Friday: had to rest again. Triple grr… Now I missed 3 days of training! How am I going to complete my 20 miles tomorrow???

Saturday: after 3 days, my knee was finally better and I was excited to run, except when I checked the weather it was cold and windy… Four hours later I’m still on the couch, thinking of every single reason not to run. Finally, I tell the boyfriend I was going on a quick one. 4 hours later: I had done over 20 miles!!! To celebrate, I went dancing for 4 hours with some girlfriends.

Sunday: felt great! Still got a massage, just in case 😉