Today's lunch is a little bit random, so it will pair nicely with the random thoughts going through my mind today.

Last night for dinner, I made an "easy" dish that included seasoning some chicken breasts and making them at 400 degrees, along with baking some seasoned veggies (asparagus, yellow pepper, and red pepper).  Well, the chicken didn't thaw all the way, but the package said "Cooks perfectly, even when frozen!"  I should have realized that sure, it would cook fine, it would just take longer (duh!).  So the prep for the dinner *was* easy, but it took quite a while to bake.  I should have just thrown it all in the frying pan and sauteed it.

Anyway, today's lunch was a leftover chicken breast with leftover veg.  I added some lettuce and reduced-fat shredded cheddar and made it into a salad.
It was pretty much just "ok" last night, and it's pretty much just okay again today.  Meh.  Oh well.  I did bring some Thanksgiving leftover reduced-fat, reduced-sugar pumpkin chocolate chip cookies today!  Yay!!

Random things I've been thinking today:
  • relationships are a lot like the people that comprise them: beautiful but also complicated, fragile, and usually a little messed up
  • If I won $200 million, what would I do?  Obviously pay off all debt (mine and my loved ones).  Move my folks to Bburg; dad would never have to work another day in his life; get them a nice, one-level house all set up for dialysis; and a fenced-in backyard for Katie :).  I think that's pretty much it.  Any leftover would go to charity.  Of course it would always be nice to have more money, but I also think it's good to accept and embrace teh 
  • Spent a lot of time on this morning's run thinking about whether or not now is the right time for me to train for a marathon.  The more I think about it, the more I think not.    If Bob ended up doing it, I would be extremely sad not to do it with him, but I just don't think now is the right time for me.  The thing is, marathon training takes a lot of time, and I feel like I am giving all of the time I can at that point, in regards to my fitness.  I just don't think I can give any more.  Plus, all through the half training, I was looking forward to taking the winter to do strength training.  I really want to get stronger, and I think that is where I want to focus my energy.  So that's sort of where I am leaning right now.  It's always possible I could change my mind tomorrow, though ;)
 
The other evening I made cheeseburger zucchini boats for dinner (inspired by a pic I saw on Pinterest), and boy were they delicious!!  Seriously good!  I actually fed the boys deconstructed cheeseburger zucchini boats (along with a quarter of a whole grain English muffin and strawberry applesauce), and they both had clean plate club!  They had to eat their meat and zucchini before they could have seconds of the English muffin and applesauce, and they had no problem eating everything.
Bob was actually out for the evening, so I went ahead and made two whole zucchinis, which meant that I had enough for a nice leftover lunch the next day.  I added some reheated steamed veggies to my lunch and it was super filling!  This meal was definitely a winner, and I will be making it again.  I think Bob will like it, too!

This was another one of those meals that illustrates to me how easy "clean" eating is.  This all came together so quickly for me and used a small number of fairly inexpensive ingredients.
Ingredients (I didn't really measure anything, just threw it all together!)
  • 1 lb. pckg ground beef (I used 85% lean and drained off the grease)
  • Sprinkle of Mrs. Dash
  • Sprinkle of garlic powder
  • Sprinkle of McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Shredded cheese (I used reduced-fat cheddar)
  • 2 zucchinis

Directions
  • First thing to do is preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  • Cut your zucchinis in half length-wise.  Then take a paring knife and cut out a wedge of the center of each half (basically, make your "boat")
  • Put your zucchinis on a baking sheet that is lined with aluminum foil (for easy clean-up) and pop them in the oven to cook while you're doing your meat
  • Brown your meat in a skillet over medium-ish heat
  • Sprinkle in all of your seasonings.  I say, you can't have too much flavor, so be generous with your sprinkling.  Add whatever seasonings you prefer!
  • Once your meat is cooked through, pull your zucchinis out of the oven and put your skillet on a hot pan holder next to your baking sheet.
  • At this point, I pulled meat out for the boys' plates, topped the meat with the shredded cheddar, and cut off some zucchini and added it to their plates.
  • Fill your zucchinis with your cooked meat and then top with as much shredded cheese as you please
  • Pop it all back in the oven to bake just until the cheese is melted and starting to bubble


This worked for me!  The zucchini cooked enough to not be raw but still had a nice density and bite to it.  It complemented the cheesy ground beef perfectly!

You can eat this as your entire meal, or you can serve it with a side of steamed veggies.  It also paired very nicely with my leftover steamed broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower.  The ground beef and cauliflower was especially good together!

Enjoy!
 
On Saturday, Bob and I ran in the Star City Half Marathon in Roanoke.

Stats for me:
Total race time -- 2:13:59
Avg pace -- 10:14
For my age range -- 35 out of 62
For women -- 179 out of ?
Overall -- 379 out of 573

We both PRd, which means that we both hit personal records for our best time in the half marathon.  
This isn't a totally huge feat, since it is only our second race, but I have to say that it absolutely feels like a MAJOR accomplishment, and here's why: it was probably the best run of my life (to date).

Now, I know that, again, this should be such a big deal, since I've only been running for a short while, but it feels so huge to me.  When we ran the previous half marathon (our first ever!) in May, it was H-A-R-D.  I was in pain for a lot of the run.  It doesn't help that I got a side stitch about a mile and a half in, but seriously that whole run was so tough.  It felt like it lasted forever, and there was at least one point where my brain was begging me to just stop and walk.  I didn't feel like it was ever going to end.  I felt nauseous and my body felt like it was coming apart.  I should say, there were some moments where I did feel good, of course.  I felt elated when I began.  I felt overcome with emotion several times throughout the race, thinking of meeting the monumental goal, thinking of my kids, my family, my friends and loved ones.  But overall, it was very hard and there were points where I wasn't entirely sure I would finish.

This race, though, was totally different, and that's why, for me, it was my personal best -- my personal record.

Starting out, I was nervous...but eager.  We began, and I was trying to run super slow.  When we hit our first five minutes, my nike+ told me that we were running at a 10 minute pace, which is definitely fast for me.  But I felt great!  So I kept with it and heard 10 minute pace again as we hit our first mile.  I kept cruising and started to realize that I was *not* going to get a stomach cramp (which almost always hits me within the first two miles).  It is a big deal for me to not get a stomach cramp.  

As we kept running, I felt better and better.  I let myself relax and listen to my rockin' playlist.

Bob and I hit the hit the incline right before mile 6, and we started slowly but steadily making our way up the course's biggest hill.  Onward we went!  Bob was really moving at this point.  I started to fizzle out around the top of the hill, but I just kept picking my feet up and putting them back down again.

Once we started descending the hill, I thought, "This could be my best run yet!"

Miles 7-10ish were through a beautiful residential neighborhood that was just a joy to run through.  Then we headed back towards the finish line.  We actually passed the finish line and kept on running to finish out the last three miles of the course.  

Miles 10-12 were the hardest for me, both physically and mentally.  By this point, my body was starting to ache.  My arms were sore from holding them in position for so long.  I had been running for about 1:50 at that point.  My knees were sore (my right knee had started to get a little tender at about mile 4, so it was pretty achy by mile 10), my ankles, my glutes, oh lord my hip flexors were singing...you get the idea.  There wasn't much on my body that wasn't starting to make itself known.

So we started running through a park area that was actually part of the 5K course I ran last summer.  I recognized it and remembered that, oh yeah, 5K, 3.2 miles, that was a major endeavor for me.  It reminded me, mentally, that I still had a sizable distance to run.  So on we trucked.  I kept wondering how much more we would have to run before we could make the final turn towards the finish.  Finally, finally we made our last turn, and my spirits picked back up.

At mile 12, an awesome song came on and I started boogying as I ran.  I was super jazzed up!  Then I started thinking about sentimental things: all I had accomplished, how much I love my boys, how inspiring they are, how much I love Bob and what an inspiration he has been, how much I love my mother...just everything.  And I started crying (not the first time I cried during the race).  This left me feeling breathless, and I started worrying that I was running out of energy.

So I told myself to get focused and finish the damn race!

Bob and I started cruising pretty hard for the last half-to-quarter mile.  He really started to book it, and I could tell that he wanted to break free and turn on his speed.  I was pretty much running with all the energy I had left.  I started to worry that he might keep running hard and cross the finish significantly ahead of me.  Part of me wanted him to run his fastest and get his best time, and part of me wondered what I would do if we didn't do our usual thing and hold hands across the finish line.  At the last minute, he slowed down and I kept pushing hard, and we grabbed hands, and we ran across the line together!

With the race we did in May, I was so exhausted when we crossed the line, I was too tired to even let myself feel any emotion.  I thought I was going to puke and was just focusing on getting to a bathroom.

With this race, I was actually gulping back tears as we crossed the finish line.  We sat on the grass, and I let myself feel the sense of accomplishment that I felt like I really worked hard to earn.

It was such a great race!

I was very thankful that Bob got it into his head that he wanted to do another race, and that we ended up doing the Star City Half.  After the one we did in May, I wasn't sure I wanted to do another one, because it had ended up being so tough.  I wasn't sure I'd be able to finish one ever again.

Now I know I can, and I feel like I'm back on track.  I still think a full marathon is in the very distant future (meaning, not anytime soon!), but I do still think it's a tenable goal.  One day.

I also have to say that I truly believe the strength training I started doing this summer (with a lot of help from my personal trainer and a lot of support from Bob) made a HUGE difference in my ability and endurance.  I feel like I'm leaner and stronger.  I've got more confidence, and the power to back it up.

So, all in all, it was an amazing experience, from start to finish.  I've grumbled about the training, and I complain about running in the cold, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.  
 
I attempted to make a mushroom barley soup, but it came out almost tasting like a risotto.  Needless to say, I know the kids are not overly fond of soup, so I made them grilled cheeses (which seem like a nice compliment to soup) and then put some of the barley dish on the side, along with some lettuce from the salad.

The verdict: they both ate one piece of barley!

I will count that as a success :)