Saturday, April 30, 2011


Guess who's here!

Mom & Dad!

They drove out to the Bean Town to cheer me on in the marathon tomorrow! I'm so excited.

We started the carb-load a day early with dinner at our new favorite restaurant, Thai Jasmine.

Yes, it looks like a jail and it's in an interesting part of town. But it will surprise you when you go inside. And sorry for the bad picture... my Business Man couldn't quite slow down enough as he was turning into the drive.

View from our booth. Like the gold-fringed awnings on the bar? Yea, I do, too. These might be going up in our future place.
My mom & dad had never eaten Thai food, so of course we had to order some appetizers.

That would be a crispy roll and a spring roll. Crispy rolls are my favorite. Think an egg roll on crack. Thaaaaat good.
For my entree, I ordered the Sesame Noodles, to start my carb-load for the marathon. It was deeeee-lish.

(I haven't quite mastered the art of taking good food photos in restaurants yet.)
So that was our Friday evening. This morning, I woke up and ran an easy 3 miles to shake out my legs before the big race tomorrow! We are getting ready to leave for Cincy in a little bit... gotta get there in time for our 4:30 dinner reservation. I might have waited til' the last minute to make the reservation so we will be eating with the early bird specials.

My Business Man & I at Thai Jasmine last night.

Adios til' after the marathon!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Let's talk numbers...

So... (as if you didn't know already)... I am running my first marathon on Sunday.

I am excited/nervous/petrified/happy all at the same time. I know, it takes talent to feel all those feelings at once.

In discussion with some of my friends/co-workers, a lot of people have told me, "Just run for fun! It'll be such an accomplishment to finish!"

And yes, it will be a huuuuge accomplishment to finish a marathon!

But, the competitive side of me thinks about the numbers. My finish time, pace per mile, negative splitting. After running competitively for 8+ years straight, I'm not quite ready to just "run for fun."

According to several online "running pace calculators", my half-mary time (from November) of 1:36 puts me at about a 3:20 marathon, 7:38-pace. Yikes! That is crazy fast (for a marathon).

So, in a desperate attempt for reassurance, I emailed my former coach last week asking for advice. [Side note: He has run many, many marathons, with a PR of 2:25. He knows his stuff.] I told him my sob story. "I'm afraid to start the marathon at 7:38-pace, because, yea it will feel good for awhile, but I don't want to die at mile 16! I'd still have 10.2 miles to go!" Followed by, "But I don't want to go out too conservatively and finish feeling like I could have run faster and never know what I could have done. Because who knows if I'll ever run one of these marathons again!"

So he responded with a great plan: 

  • Start out the first 8 miles at 7:55-8:00 pace. (I ended up averaging this pace for quite a few of my long runs, especially the ones I ran outside vs. treadmill.)
  • The next 8 miles at 7:45-7:50 pace.
  • Then see what I have left for the last 10.2.
I think this plan sounds great. It divides the race into segments, and I will have loads of fun figuring my splits in my head. (Which is one of my favorite things to do while running long. Remember, I am a math teacher. Numbers fascinate me.)

So, all in all, I'd be happy under 3:30. I mean, I'll be "happy" just finishing, since it is my first marathon, but I'd really like to run under 3:30. And the closer to 3:20, the better.

But we'll see what happens! It could be raining sideways and 30+mph winds. That would definitely change things.

At a track meet that likely had crazy winds. Almost all our meets were crazy windy.  Miss you ladies! 

On a slightly funnier note, I had my students "predict my finish time" today. A lot of them know I've been training for the race, so I thought this could be fun. I told them my half-marathon time from November, and let them make an educated guess from there. I will be giving extra credit to the person who is closest.

Here were some of my favorites... they left me little notes of encouragement with their guesses.

"I think your time will be maybe 2 hrs. 45 mins. Ruuunnnnn! I hope you finish!"
I hope, I do, too... haha. But pretty sure I won't be finishing in 2:45.

"Tarah says 3 hrs 22 mins! Good luck Mrs. Anderson!"

"I think it will take you 3 hrs 18 mins. Good luck! GO! GO! GO!"
The times ranged from 1:10 to 4 hours, so we shall see what happens! [Side note: 1:10, really? If they knew I ran a half in 1:36, how on earth would I run a full in 1:10?  Looks like we need to do a lesson on proportions!]

So, there ya have it. My race goals laid out. Now we'll just have to see how it goes!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Energy to burn!

What does one do with all her free time during the last week of taper before the marathon?

  • Nap. Naps are good. Definitely fell asleep for a good hour after coming home from school yesterday.
Too bad I wasn't napping with this cutie... sadly she is back in IL. 
  • Read for fun. No textbooks or basal readers for this girl. I'm in the middle of In the Woods; it's pretty good so far. We have book club on Thursday. Will I finish it? Probably not... but of course I will still go for the yummy eats and conversation.
I love the bumper sticker on my fridge. "Love People. Cook them tasty food." And yes, there is a bumper sticker on our fridge. Don't ask.
  • Obsessively check the weather forecast for the marathon on Sunday.
Can't we just exchange the forecasts for Saturday & Sunday?

  • Pump myself up by looking at old racing pics of myself. Yes, it might be a little weird to look through pictures of yourself, but at this point I need all the pumping-up I can get!
I like this pic because it looks like I am flying. Look Ma! No feet on the ground! It also looks like I am giving someone the stink-eye. It's hard to look cute all the time.

One of my favorite pics, obviously because I was leading... haha. Too bad we still had a lap to go and those two girls behind me passed me. It was still a PR tho!
    That was right at the end of our cross country championships senior year. (Hence the look of death on my face.) Yes, it was cross country, and yes, we ran on the roads. The course we usually ran was extremely flooded. It was an interesting experience to say the least!

  • When all else fails, bake

I have been craving a good monster cookie lately, and while browsing through the cookbook my Business Man's mom gave me, I stumbled across these Energy Cookies.

Perfect! Chock-ful of peanut butter, oats, wheat germ, dried fruit, and sunflower seeds, these definitely fit the bill. And they're even somewhat healthy!

Crisp on the edges, and chewy in the middle, just the way I like 'em.

Energy Cookies

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp. milk
  • ½ cup powdered milk
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ cup flour
  •  cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (or cherries)
  •  cup sunflower seeds


Preheat oven to 375*F. In large bowl, cream together butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar. Add egg, milk, and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Mix in powdered milk, baking powder, baking soda, flour, wheat germ, and oats. Stir in dried apricots, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds. Dough will be sticky.

Drop by tablespoons-ful onto greased cookie sheet. Bake 9-10 minutes at 375*F or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Celebrations

Like I said in my last post, my Business Man's family came to visit for Easter! It was so good to visit with them and spend the weekend together.

Before they came in on Saturday, my Business Man and I spent Friday taking a quick trip down to IKEA in Cincinnati with some friends just for kicks and giggles. We didn't make any big purchases, but Amber & I both came home with some lovely orchids for Easter. We also exposed John & Amber to the wonder that is Red Robin....... and my conclusion is that bottomless fries are so good.

Posing with our orchids in the store... John's being a creeper in the background. 
In addition to a beautiful flower, I also brought home a new loaf pan from IKEA! We just had one loaf pan before (the horror!) and it was super-small so I was excited to find this one, which is super-long.

Why so long? It must be a Swedish thing...
I had to test out the new pan ASAP, so Saturday morning after my last long run (!) for my marathon, I set out to make Almond Poppyseed Bread. This is one of my Business Man's mom's recipes, and man oh man is it good. It is called "bread" but due to the ingredients it should probably be considered a dessert. But that's okay, because dessert is perfectly acceptable for breakfast on holidays!

My Business Man and I gobbled this up for breakfast on Easter, before meeting his parents and little sisters at church.

My flower in the background!

Almond Poppyseed Bread

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. poppyseeds
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ tsp. almond extract
  • Glaze
    • ¼ cup orange juice
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • ½ tsp. vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350*F. Combine liquid ingredients in bowl. Stir in dry ingredients. Divide among 2 greased loaf pans. Bake in preheated oven 45-50 minutes.

For glaze, combine orange juice, powdered sugar, almond extract, and vanilla extract until smooth. Drizzle over bread; then remove bread from pans.

*You can also make muffins instead of bread. Bake at 350*F about 20 minutes.

After church, we all headed back to our little apartment to make lunch/dinner. (linner?) My Business Man's brothers were in town by this point, so we had a full house! 

Everything for the meal turned out great!

Chicken up front, risotto in the back.

Risotto again, along with the almond poppyseed bread and golden honey pan rolls.
It was my first time making risotto, and let me just say that you must make it at some point in your life. And sooner rather than later. It is so creamy and delicious and you don't even have to add obscene amounts of cream, butter, and/or cheese to get it that way. I am hoping to do a post soon about this specific risotto, but in the meantime click here to see the recipe.

We also had a strawberry spinach salad and my great-aunt Betty's recipe for glazed fruit salad, which is super yummy as well. I make it a lot in the summer months for cook-outs and whatnot.

And we can't forget the dessert. PW's Blackberry Cheesecake. I could just eat bowls of the topping straight-up. Or put it on top of my oatmeal or yogurt. Now wouldn't that be a nutritious choice?

Yum............ (made with gluten-free cookie crust!)

After we were subsequently stuffed, we all tried to find a seat in our teeny apartment to watch Tangled. Very cute movie!

It was great to spend the day celebrating the risen Lord with our family!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Guess Who's Coming to Visit??

No, not the Easter bunny...

But my Business Man's family!

We aren't able to go home for Easter (stupid work), so we invited both our parents to come out and spend Easter here in the Bean Town. My parents decided to come next weekend (for the marathon!) instead, but my Business Man's family is still coming this weekend! His brothers go to college about 100 miles from here, so they'll be joining us as well.

So this will be my first 'official' big holiday meal. In our teeny tiny apartment kitchen. Cooking dinner for 8. 

Now, before I start blabbering on about what will be served at our Easter celebration, I want to rewind back to last night. My Business Man had a networking event to attend up in Toledo, and of course I got to accompany him. With the promise of a yummy meal afterward.

This gave me an excuse to dress up a bit today. I mean, not that I don't dress nice everyday for school, but I made sure to look extra-cute.

I got this dress from the Limited back February on clearance. Finally had a chance to wear it!
Several students asked me what I was so dressed up for... I replied with, "I've got a hot date tonight!" And they just laughed. [Side note: I also received a kiwi fruit from a student yesterday. I guess apples are overrated.]

Anyways, after the big networking event, we headed over to Biaggi's for dinner. Swoon. 

They have the most delicious focaccia bread I have ever eaten, and they give it to you right when you sit down. With a little olive oil and parmesan cheese; I was in fluffy carb-heaven. Who says you can't start carb-loading for a marathon 9 days early?

Not my picture, but you get the idea.
I ordered the Garlic Shrimp Oreganata, which is described as "Oven-roasted shrimp in an oregano and garlic breadcrumb crust. Served with capellini pasta tossed in a fresh tomato-basil sauce." It was soooo good! And my Business Man's lasagna was delicious, too.

I just love Biaggi's. If you have one anywhere near, you should definitely try it.

Anyways... back to Easter. I mentioned my Business Man's family is coming. So I am making Easter dinner. Which I'm sure I'll get lots of help, because his family is awesome.

I braved the crowds of Meijer this morning to get my groceries, and it really wasn't too bad just yet. I knew I wouldn't want to go at all tomorrow because the day before holidays brings all the crazies to the supercenters.

Here's the loot:

I didn't get out quite as low as our usual grocery bill, but I thought I did pretty well! Just under $100 for all that.

And now for the menu. My Business Man's mom has to eat gluten-free, so I tried to incorporate things that she would be able to eat so we didn't have to cook 16 million different things.

Easter Menu 2011

Strawberry Spinach Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette
Glazed Fruit Salad
Blackberry Cheesecake

I think my Business Man's mom will be able to eat almost everything, except for the rolls. I even got gluten-free shortbread cookies for the cheesecake crust! 

While we're on the topic of Easter-type foods, I would like to flashback to Easter 2008. My Business Man and I (thinking back on it, it was probably just me) wanted to make a dish to take to both our family's Easter celebrations, so we settled on a recipe from Taste of Home for Spinach Dip in Bunny Bread.

He was just thrilled to spend his evening shaping bread dough into bunny shapes. Can't you see his enthusiasm?

I enjoyed it very much and even acted like a bunny at some points.

The finished product! And then we carved big holes out of their bellies and filled them with spinach dip. A little weird, but cute.

Maybe I'll need to add an appetizer course to the menu. ;-)

And another flashback picture:

My hair was short!
My mom and dad hid tons of Easter eggs filled with candy around the house for us to find. And we were 19 and 20 years old. And it was so much fun. For the record, I found the most eggs. Mom, will you hide eggs for us this year?

And now, we're off to go on adventure with some friends from the Bean Town. Think Swedish super-store... yessssssssssssss!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thoughts on a cold & rainy Wednesday...

Today is Wednesday, which means it's almost Thursday, which is really my Friday because there's no school this Friday! Got that?

Here's why:

1. The taper has come into full swing. Due to taper, here's the amount of miles I ran today.

Yup, that's right. I get to take two rest days this week! And only 10 miles for my long run! I will admit, I'm getting a lil' antsy... just ready for this marathon to be here!

2. Yesterday we had a 2-hour delay for school, thank you very much to the rainstorm that knocked out the school's power in the wee hours of the morning. I very much enjoyed my morning at home with Katie Couric and Matt Lauer. And drinking my coffee in a real mug, not a travel mug. It's the little things.

3. I scored some sweet Rite-aid deals on my way to school yesterday morning. A free bag of chips, free Lysol disinfecting wipes, and two free chocolate-covered Peeps. Ever heard of 'em?

My Business Man and I sampled them as an appetizer to our gourmet dinner tonight. The verdict? Better than regular Peeps. I thought the best part was the chocolatey shell. If I could wrap that shell around a peanut buttery filling, that would be golden. (Hmmm... wonder if anyone's ever invented that before?

4. Our gourmet dinner tonight.

Yes, my friends, that is a frozen pizza. And yes, it came that way. (And yes, I do serve my Business Man frozen pizza. I can't be Betty Crocker all the time.) My Business Man thought that I deliberately broke the pizza in two. "How did you do that?" he asked. Although breaking a frozen pizza in two might be somewhat fun and exhilarating, the thought had never crossed my mind before.

It still baked up nicely!  Minus the fact I kinda forgot about it while it was in the oven. I blame the distraction otherwise known as the internet. However, no worries... I am all about crunchy crispy edges and burnt cheese so no pizza was left behind. (My mom and I fight each other over scraping the edges of crunchy crispy casserole dishes... it is an exciting life, I tell ya.)

5. And last, but not least, these lovelies. Yes, those would be cake pops. It's been awhile since we've seen cake pops on the blog!

Last weekend, one of my friends had a girls' night, and I taught everyone how to make cake pops.

It was so much fun! I love sharing my love of cake with others. It was a little adventurous trying to keep the balls on the sticks... but any disasters were immediately taken care of. (Aka devoured.)

We made the best flavor ever, Funfetti. And attempted to make some to look like Easter eggs. They turned out interesting-looking, that's all I can say.

A great way to spend a Friday night, if you ask me.

And it provided me with yummy snacks for the week to come! (And my Business Man, too... I did share.)

Happy Hump Day, y'all... one more day until the long weekend!

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