Coconut Curry Noodle Soup

Last time I posted I think the season could still be considered summer. Now we are knee deep in autumn. This is totes my favorite season. Changing leaves, cool weather/perfect running weather, cozy food, and art contest prize delivery trips!

Michael and I ran in a 5K with a few of his friends earlier this month.

I have yet to run a race in my FiveFingers, a goal I set for myself in the spring to reach by the end of the summer, but this 5K was amazing. It was at Mallow Run Winery, a bit south of Indianapolis. Firstly, I’m super happy with my time of 24:25. Guys, that’s a 7:52 per mile average pace! That’s under 8 minutes! These are things I never thought I’d say about myself as a runner. Secondly, we got a free glass of wine after the race. Thirdly, we tasted various wines after our free glasses.

Fourthly, we bought two bottles of wine per couple and sat on the patio and enjoyed many glasses. Wine and running and friendly people are a good combo!

In the last month my magazine’s amazing art director and I have traveled to three cities to deliver prizes for our art contest. Do you have a kid? You should so enter! Multiple perks to these trips include: making the day of a kid and his or her family, giving money to art programs in schools, getting to visit awesome cities!

San Diego. We visited the San Diego Zoo. Oh mah Gawd, it was worth every dollar of the $40 we paid to get in! We ate cupcakes two nights in a row. We saw seals. We hiked on the beach And we saw Erica!

I went to high school with Erica. She moved to L.A. for college and is still there. I’m glad we’ve stayed friends despite miles and time. The kind of weird thing about this whole trip is that most of the time it was cloudy. I thought San Diego was sunny almost all the time.

Knoxville. We had a hotel…disaster…horror story…grossness…long story short, the hotel was terrible and we ran at 11:30 at night. Before we broke free from trucker hell, we wandered around downtown Knoxville. Jen had a contact emergency that took us to this little grocery.

They had growlers and eight beers on tap IN THE GROCERY. Like a little bar in the grocery with awesome beer! I died a little. Just one more reason the South is superior.

Kalamazoo. The Bell’s Brewery is located in Kalamazoo. Oktoberfest is in season. Have you had Oktoberfest on tap at the Brewery that it comes from? Holy amazing caramel-flavored beer awesomeness! We sat in the bier garden and enjoyed some pints. I left with a six pack of Oktoberfest and a variety six pack.

I just realized that I sound like a drunk. Wine. Beer. Beer. I am not a drunk. I am not a drunk …

So cozy autumn food. It goes well with Bell’s beer. It goes well with cool weather. Unfortunately we are having some sort of Indian summer during the days. 70s and 80s, what? I don’t care. I’ve been cooking roasted chicken, potatoes, and butternut squash (which, sidenote, is amazing, sweet, and creamy just diced, salted, peppered, and nutmeged, and roasted), vegetarian chili, and a new soup, coconut curry noodle soup.

This soup is coconuty, spicy, flavorful, and I love the slurpy noodles. I actually managed to eat most of the soup with chopsticks! As is, the recipe is vegetarian, but I’d say add in some chicken or shrimp if you so desire. One of my favorite soup perks is how it lasts for multiple meals. This one gave me two dinners and two lunches. Plus, it was insanely affordable. I got my ingredients at the farmers market and an incredible international grocery in town called Saraga. They have a whole aisle practically of curries. And all sorts of produce from around the world. And all of the exotic food that costs a fortune at the regular grocery cost half the price. I think overall, this meal, or four meals, cost me around $10. Seriously, guys.

The recipe calls for Singapore noodles, but you can sub any rice noodle. Laksa paste is a type of curry paste. I found a jar at Saraga, but if you can’t, just go for any curry paste available. As for vegetables, I used a carrot, a zucchini, and a red pepper.

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Muffins, Races, and BFFs galore!

I got an iPhone about a month ago. God it’s worlds better than the LG Ally I had. And universes better than the HTC Eris before that. I can confidently say that I am an Apple girl all the way! I’ve been snapping lots of pictures with my iPhone. It’s not the world’s greatest quality (like I won’t be taking tons of pictures with it when we go to SPAIN! More later.), but it’s so nice to take photos when I’m out and about.

So here is a brief tour of the last week in my life via photos.

Two weekends ago we went to Chicago for the Shamrock Shuffle, an 8K that starts and ends in Grant Park. This was my first race since I’ve gotten serious about running. Marnie and her boyfriend Jannson have done it the past two years I believe. The weather was perfect on race day. I ran the 5 miles in 44 minutes. So proud of myself!

The 717 totally tore it up!

Coffee always tastes better with two of your best friends. Especially after steak dinner at 11pm the night before! This was one of my favorite trips to Chicago yet.

One of my visiting people rules is Never Show Up to a Friend’s House Without a Baked Good in Hand. This weekend we were runners, so I picked a healthful baked good that would give us fuel.

These ginger-cranberry oatmeal muffins from Everybody Likes Sandwiches were perfect. Made with only whole-wheat flour, oats, and no butter or oil, I really felt OK about eating these muffins. And they were not heavy or dense. Nicely the opposite in fact. I think my favorite part was the chewy candied ginger bits and tangy cranberries. Click over to Jeanette’s blog for the recipe. The only thing I did different was replace the oil/melted butter with a mashed up and very ripe banana, per Jeanette’s suggestion.

This past weekend my bff Bette came up from Charlotte to visit. Bette and I have been friends for 16 years. I have been down to North Carolina to visit her (in a non-working-at-camp visit) about five times in the last three years. Oh and plenty of times before that too. Bette, on the other hand, had visited me in Indiana twice in the past 16 years. Granted, North Carolina is like 20 times cooler than Indiana. But I was ecstatic when she finally bought a plane ticket to see my city.

We ate crepes, drank local beer,  went to Luna Music for National Record Day (OMG The Head and the Heart album is to die for!), hung out in Zionsville, and ate cupcakes, despite less than ideal weather on Friday and Saturday.

We even found some sunshine time to take Mira to 100 Acres at the Indianapolis Art Museum.

I hope she comes back sooner than 11 years from now!! I do love the girl.

And in news that I cannot yet document in photographs, Michael and I are going to Spain for 10 days in May. In fact, we leave in 2 1/2 weeks!! We’ll be staying six days in Granada and two days in Madrid. Hopefully there will be some site seeing, beach going, hiking in the Sierra Nevadas, lots of delicious food and wine consuming, and merriment!

Have you been to Spain? I’d love to hear favorite places, recommendations, and general input.

How I Set My Feet Free

Back in January I decided that it was time to get new running shoes. From what I’ve heard, you should replace shoes every 6 to 8 months. What kind of shoes to get? I loved my Nikes. But Sam and I had been discussing barefoot running and FiveFingers shoes for awhile.

FiveFingers Bikalas

So I started doing some research. I read articles and I turned to one of my favorite running/cooking blogs, (Never home)maker. I remembered how, as a kid, I’d sprint around the house barefoot, loving the feeling of the grass and earth under my feet. And so I went for it. I decided to free my feet and get some minimalist running shoes.

Before I jump into my experience transitioning to minimalist shoes, here’s some brief background for you. I know barefoot and minimalist running are kind of a fad right now and I want you to know there are more reasons to considering this kind of running than just jumping on a bandwagon.

Running shoes, padded and all, encourage you to strike (where or how your foot lands on the ground) heel to toe. When running barefoot, you tend to strike with the middle or front of your foot. Striking with your heel first causes more impact, or stress, on your joints. Therefore, you need more padding in the heels of your shoes to relieve the impact. From what I’ve read, running heel to toe and in padded shoes isn’t necessarily wrong, but can be one of the causes of running injuries. So basically, running and striking on the front or middle of your foot relieves stress and impact on your joints.

Then there’s the whole history of how humans used to run factor. Our ancestors didn’t have shoes. They walked and ran everywhere barefoot. That’s how they’re feet and legs and bodies were built. So our feet are kind of built to run barefoot.

Lastly, barefoot or minimalist running strengthens your feet, especially the arches, and your calves. You’ll use muscles you didn’t use as much when running in regular shoes.

So there are the facts. Here’s how it went for me.

I first bought some Saucony Kinvaras. These look like regular running shoes, but they’ve got muuuch less padding and whatnot in the soles. I figured these would be a good transition shoe into minimalist running.

 

The guy at the running store advised me to wear them around for about a week before I started running to allow my feet and legs to get used to them. My first few runs in these shoes were…different. I could feel different parts of my legs working, specifically my hips. But after those first few runs, my times were faster, my stride became more efficient, and my body hurt less.

 

Enter Michael (that’s the chocolate chip cookie-obsessed boy of my last post). He wanted to buy some Vibram FiveFingers. We talked about them a lot. We tried them on a few times at an outdoor store in town. Finally I decided that with the success of the Kinvaras, I’d take the next step.

I bought these Vibram Bikala LS’s, the FiveFinger running-specific shoes. These have pretty much nothing between your feet and the ground but a thin layer of rubber and polyurethane. Plus the whole toe thing looks pretty rad! The first day I wore the Bikalas, I walked 5 miles in them. My feet ached a bit after, as is to be expected. They were working differently! After a week of wearing them around in my daily life, I went for a run. I started with the intention of stopping when things stopped feeling good. I’d read that if you push yourself when transitioning to Vibrams, you could injure yourself. I think I ended up running 3 miles that day. And it felt so good. Fast. Light. Natural. I won’t lie, my calves, they hurt like crazy for a good four days after. Tight balls of ouch. I stretched a lot. Just proof that I’m using new muscles!

Just a quick comparison for you. On the far left are my old Nikes. For regular running shoes, they don’t have a whole lot of padding in the heel. Next are the Kinvaras. The Bikalas are on the right.

 

 

Now I alternate between the Kinvaras and the Bikalas. The Kinvaras have been nothing short of wonderful. Me and my calves are getting more and more used to the Bikalas every run.

Have any of you tried minimalist running shoes? What has your experience been like?

Red Lentil & Vegetable Soup

Oh the weather outside is frightful…cold…frigid…very winter-like for early December. Perfect soup weather. And perfect running weather.

That’s right bitches. I ran outside in 20° weather yesterday and today. And today I ran my best 5K time – 25 minutes. And then, just for good measure, I ran another half a mile. Total mileage and timeage? 3.6 miles in just under 30 minutes.

Now I swear I’m not bragging. I’m just amazed by myself. In high school, when we were forced to run at crew practice, my friend and I were the last people to finish because we walked most of the way. So guys, if I can do it, so can you. I swear.

Now, once you finish running, or just standing outside for 2 seconds, you’ll need something to warm you up. And I’ve got that covered. You will need a bowlful of red lentil and vegetable soup. It’s like tomato soup with substance, a bright sunny kick from some lemon juice, and a nice, warm cumin flavor.

Cumin reminds me of my dad’s chili, which reminds me of being toasty in winter.

Toasty up your insides. Make this soup. Maybe add some green beans, because that’s kind of what I want to do next time I make it. And there will be a next time, and a time after that, and a time after that…….

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The Awkward Runner

Remember how I said I’ve started running to combat the baked goods?

I’ve always enjoyed working out, but I’ve never been a big outdoor runner though. I thought it was just too hard. And honestly, I’m a klutz and I look kind of stupid when I run.

Then my friend Marnie started running. She passed along this training program to me. I moved to Raleigh that fall and, instead of looking for a gym to join, I started Marnie’s program. And running outside was actually kind of fun! But then, the weather got cold, and I chickened out and joined a gym.

And a gym is where I’ve been hanging out ever since. Well until this spring. A few of my coworkers started running at lunch. One of them was training for the Mini-Marathon here in Indianapolis. And I figured, why not? The weather is gorgeous. I kind of enjoyed it before. And the elliptical was not having quite the effect on my waistline that I’d hoped. So I bought a pair of kickass gray and hot pink Nikes and started running.

Besides a period of excessive heat this summer, I’ve been running outside pretty consistently. I’m at a 28 to 30 minute 5K. Once I ran 6 freaking miles! Not fast, but I did it. And, while I’m certainly not addicted yet, I kind of look forward to runs. There’s this incredible satisfaction in running somewhere I usually drive. Turns out I’m also very goal-oriented and competitive with myself. Running has become this mental battle and constant challenge.

So yesterday I decided that I’d treat myself to a nice winter-weather running shirt. This way I’d be more motivated to continue my newfound hobby through the colder months. I stopped in a running store in town and got these two items.

Under Armor short sleeve shirt (this is the back because it looks cooler than the front, which is plain white).

And this Mizuno long sleeve shirt. It has this Thermo Plus technology, which is basically this material in the shirt that heats up when it gets wet, i.e. when you sweat.

So, I drove home with my new clothes, thinking about how excited I was to run this week. EXCITED TO RUN, it’s true! I actually wanted to suit up and go for a run then, but the Colts game was on. Heh. This morning I woke up to 9 degree weather. Nine degrees with a high of 20° the next few days! I don’t know that I’m hardcore enough to run in under 20 degree weather quite yet. So I’ve put my new clothes on my kitchen table so I can look at them and hopefully hang onto my excitement.

Do any of you run? When did you start to call yourself a runner? Do you have any cold-weather running tips for this newbie?