Tag Archives: pynk

Dallas Marathon 2014

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It has taken me a month to recap this race on my blog, partly because I already wrote about it on my running group but mostly because I was waiting for my mixed feelings to resolve into something ultimately positive. I have a tendency toward self-flagellation after any athletic event or performance, regardless of outcome – I spend ages obsessing over how I could’ve done better. It’s a blessing and a curse, but it keeps me striving for bigger/better/faster/more, so I choose to embrace it.

This was my 1st full marathon and it was full of meaning. Dallas was my 1st half marathon in 2009 – I quit drinking while training for it, so this medal is my version of a 5 year chip. I trained for months, hitting all but one of my scheduled runs. My right knee wasn’t always thrilled, but I felt ready after record mileage, a half-marathon PR and an AG award for my last half before the marathon.

About a week out, I developed an ache in my left thigh/buttock that quickly went from uncomfortable to excruciating. I thought it might be a hamstring tear or piriformis syndrome, but a visit to my beloved chiropractor┬áconfirmed that it was sciatica due to a bulging and possibly herniated L4-L5. I’ve spent nearly 2 years rehabilitating the mess between my C2-C5, so this news was pretty demoralizing – I wasn’t ready for more traction/decompression.

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The pain was slowing me down considerably & there was concern from family, friends & Dr. Cox about the distance, so I briefly considered switching from the full to the half. Then I received my crazy bib # – 999 – on what would’ve been my grandmother’s 99th birthday, so I took it as I sign that I had to try. Worst-case scenario? I would start but not be able to finish, which felt preferable to finishing the half & realizing I could’ve gone farther. I recalculated my goal pace based on my decreased ability and estimated my finish time at 5 hours. I was 2 days out & could barely sit or stand up without searing electric pain down my left leg. As long as I was in motion, though, it was tolerable.

The weather was overcast on race morning & heavy rain was forecasted for afternoon. I met up with my brother Kris, my sister-in-law Jen & a few of their friends, most of whom were running the half. Jen is my favorite running buddy & the races shared the same course for the first 9.5 miles, so the time with her flew by.

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We hugged goodbye at the split & I was on my own, maintaining a slower pace than I’d planned but still in pretty good shape. The hills were starting to hurt a bit around mile 13, but the promise of seeing my awesome husband every 3ish miles (he found me 8 times on the course, carrying a backpack full of just-in-case) in his bright pink Wonder Woman shirt kept me in good spirits. He even ran a bit with me, even though he hates to run.

At mile 15, the intermittent rain became a torrential downpour. It would continue for the entirety of the next 11.2 miles. Good thing I had my custom-made poncho with me.

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Despite the weather, the volunteers were all cheerful & the spectators were amazing. Great course support, even when the 25mph wind gusts made it impossible to keep water cups on the tables.

By mile 20, my back & leg were pretty wrecked but I was still enjoying myself. The rain made the potholed streets a bit harder to traverse and my knee was starting to lock up, so my pace slowed to a shuffle. I never hit the infamous wall and I never doubted that I could finish the distance, but I was starting to worry that the course would close before I could cross the line – the time limit was 6.5 hours & judging by my recalculations, I would be cutting it close.

By mile 21, I’d already decided to do another marathon (maybe Cowtown in March). My Garmin died around this time, so I quit caring altogether about pace & just looked for mile markers. The sag wagons were nowhere in sight, so that gave me hope.

Around mile 22 I passed the Doublewide, the bar where I used to get blackout drunk & make terrible decisions before I traded drinking for distance running. I flipped it the double bird and picked up my pace.

Downtown Dallas never looked so beautiful as I shambled toward the finish line. I was amazed by how many spectators were still there, despite the rain & the late hour.

I finished in 6:19:16, over an hour slower than I’d hoped. But I made it with a grin on my face & a profound sense of gratitude for the ability to run, even when it hurts.

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I picked up my finisher medal & my Dallas Duo medal (for also running RnR Half in March) & I found my husband. Hugging him felt better than any medal or PR ever has, and that’s when I finally cried.

He had doughnuts & hot coffee waiting for me in the car. I may have run all day, but he was the one who worked his ass off to support me – I am so thankful to have him on my team.

I rode the finisher’s high into Tuesday, when my depleted endorphins & exhaustion finally caught up with me. I spent about 24 hours disgusted with myself for finishing nearly 80 minutes slower than I’d hoped, for not pushing myself harder, for walking part of the last 10K. I was a marathoner, yeah, but I still felt like I’d failed.

As with any failure (or half-assed success), I ultimately chose to use the disappointment as fuel for my fire. I registered for Cowtown & started my training cycle again. The upshot is, unless I fall asleep or into an open manhole, I’ll most likely PR my next marathon!

If you made it through this ramble, then I sincerely thank you. I needed to get it out there so I can finally shake off the disappointment & move forward. I still have severe sciatica, but I’m running through the pain & treating with a TENS unit and an inversion table. Eventually I’ll go get that MRI & schedule some traction/decompression sessions, but for now I’m just focusing on my training schedule. We’ll see how Cowtown goes!

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Homemade salted caramels

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I’ve never grown out of the “I made something for you” phase of childhood – it’s still my favorite way to give gifts. Whether it’s layered soap bars or layered dessert bars, I derive so much pleasure from putting effort & love into handmade presents.

This Christmas, I spent a lot of time making treats to give to neighbors, church friends & family. The biggest hit was probably the salted caramels. They are super easy to make – it’s like culinary alchemy – and they store well in the fridge. They can be used in other recipes, melted into coffee or just devoured on their own.

I do recommend measuring your ingredients before you begin – the process relies on quickness. You won’t need a candy thermometer, but a candy mold makes it easy to portion them out.

ingredients:
1 cup of sugar
6 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
Sea salt to taste

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method:

Measure your ingredients & keep close by. I also recommend greasing your molds now by spraying lightly with cooking spray or brushing with oil (I use coconut oil & a pastry brush).

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Place sugar in a dry saucepan over medium-high heat and continuously whisk or stir with a spatula as it melts (this helps prevent burning).

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As soon as your sugar is liquid, light brown & just about to bubble, stop stirring.

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Add the butter & whisk until melted. It’ll foam up a bit, so watch your fingers!

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Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in the cream ’til smooth.

Now it’s time to pour the liquid into molds – I transfer my liquid into a measuring cup first for easier pouring.

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I use a silicone Wilton brownie bites mold & I fill each cavity about half full. (The liquid can also be transferred to a jar if you prefer to use it as a caramel sauce.)

Lightly dust the top of each caramel with sea salt.

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Place mold in fridge or freezer until caramels are firm enough to unmold. After unmolding, they can be individually wrapped in wax paper squares or pieces of Saran Wrap Press’n’Seal.

That’s it! Minimal effort for rich, soft, buttery caramels that kick the pants off of those pale processed Kraft cubes.

Please try them and let me know what you think! And if I ever bring you a bag of them, know that they are basically little chewy squares of my love for you. ­čśÇ