Month: March 2014

The Great Chickpea Conundrum

Well folks – I’ve got another one for you. Just when you thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse than the worst smoothie ever, I may have bested even myself.

Yesterday, I found myself with a very rare day where I had nothing really planned to do with myself. Matt kept looking at me suspiciously like I was keeping something from him or something. After doing my 10 minute ab routine on my living room floor (30km race, 10 minute ab routine….that’s the same, right? ;)), I was suddenly overwhelmed by a bug I don’t get very often….the cooking bug!

I started simple by making up a batch of turkey meatballs. The first batch looked (and smelled) amazing, but both Matt and I were a little under-whelmed with the actual flavour, and ended up dousing them in barbeque sauce to give them some appeal.

Final score: a solid 6 out of 10, with an A for effort. I’ll take it.

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The next undertaking was Matt’s mom Dianne’s chili recipe, which I’ve wanted to make ever since I tried some of it out at the syrup bush a couple of weekends ago. After getting the recipe from Dianne, and a quick trip to the grocery store, all of the ingredients went into the slow cooker, and I sat back to admire my handiwork, feeling pretty good about things.

I really, really should have stopped there and called it a day.

While Matt was napping on the couch, I got it in my head that (considering I was on such a roll) I wanted to make a sweet, but healthy snack for this week, something to grab and go quickly that would satisfy a sweet-tooth craving after meals and during the mid-afternoon slump. I was literally right in the middle of pouring over cookbooks when I got an email from my friend Cara with a recipe for “Chickpea Blondies” that she absolutely raved about, and had to share the recipe.

Fate? I think so.

Considering it a call from the chickpea gods, I snuck out of the house and over to Target (where I proceeded to spend almost $300 on assorted house gadgets, in addition to the $4 in chickpeas that I originally came to buy). In my defence, part of that $300 was a Kitchen Aid food processor, which I did need to make the blondies anyways. I’ve never owned a food processer, and was super excited to crack it open and use it immediately!

The exact instant I got home, I ripped into the shiny Kitchen Aid box and pulled out the sparkling new food processer.

Oooh, aahhh.

How do they get the plastic so shiny and clean like that when it first comes out of the box anyways? The appliances never do look as nice after the first use as they do when they come out of the box.

I decided to double up the recipe for the blondies to make a double batch so that I could give some to my mom, who is always on the hunt for healthy but yummy snacks just like I am. I cheerfully (and immediately) dumped two full cans of chickpeas into the food processor. There were so many that the lid could hardly close on my 7 cup food processer.

I think deep down in my heart, at this point, I knew that something was going wrong, but I couldn’t place my finger on what.

After adding in the other ingredients (totally yummy stuff like vanilla extract, maple syrup and peanut butter), I forced the lid closed on the food processor (you ever get the feeling that those types of things just aren’t meant to be “forced”?), closed my eyes and hit “Low” speed.

I fiddled with the lock mechanism to be sure the bowl was locked down…..closed my eyes again, and hit Low.

At this point Matt was sitting on the couch watching some video on his iPad, and I think I snapped something at him about the volume on his iPad being too loud or something like that, to which (because he knows me too well), he responded by getting up to come and see what exactly was the matter.

About 45 seconds later, he had adjusted the handle of the bowl, and hit the Low button again, and the food processor was cheerfully beating the chickpeas into submission.

My joy was short lived, because the machine sputtered to a halt about 20 seconds later, the blades choking on the sheer amount of chickpeas in the bowl which had come together in this very dry, very dense, very chalky sort of paste.

I say again – I think deep down in my heart, at this point, I knew something was going wrong.

Re-starting the food processor about 4 or 5 times, I finally got the batter to sort of soften up a bit and look something like an actual blondie batter. I scraped it out of the food processor bowl and into the baking pan, and into the oven it went (although I seriously had my doubts because between you and me, I had snuck a taste of the batter, and it tasted like a food processed chickpea, and absolutely nothing like a blondie).

Hope for some magic to take place in the oven (you know, like a fairy to come and replace half the chickpea content with sugar and butter), I let it do its thing, and came back to it 20 minutes later.

My biggest regret of this whole experience is not the failed blondie. It’s that I didn’t take a picture of the finished product. It literally looked like someone had taken sand from the desert and sprinkled it into a baking pan, with some chocolate chips on top, and it tasted, as you can probably guess, like a mashed up, piping hot, dry, sticky chickpea, with the faintest, faintest hint of something sweet, but not even close to “being good”.

Like, not even in the same universe as “being good”.

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I could hardly swallow the tiny bite that I took of the stupid thing, and my mouth puckered up like I’d just taken a tequila shot. BLECH. Disgusting.

I threw out the whole pan immediately (trust me, it wasn’t a snack that needed a second or third taste to make my mind up on) and went to lick my wounds on the couch, wondering what I always wonder, almost every single time that I try to bake or cook:

“What went wrong?????”

It wasn’t until about 3 hours later that I realized what I’d done, in a moment of clarity that could only be described as an epiphany.

I had doubled the amount of chickpeas in the recipe with the idea of making a double batch…..but I hadn’t doubled ANY of the other ingredients in the entire recipe.

Sweet lord above. That’s a lot of chickpeas.

I’m not giving up on the blondie recipe (although the friends that I’ve told about this little encounter have written me off completely and suggested that I stick to buying my baked goods from now on), and plan to try again tonight with the proper ratio of chickpeas (yuck) to yummy stuff (mmm).

If you’re interested in checking it out, here is the recipe. Foretold is forwarned, don’t double up on the chickpeas.

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Chickpea anyone?

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A Tough Call

Morning Everyone.

If you notice the time stamp on this entry, you may (or may not) notice that it is race day morning at 11am…and here I am posting a blog entry. Sigh.

I made the toughest call that I’ve made in years to skip Around the Bay. After 4 long weeks of dealing with this atrocious sore on my foot, it has finally, finally healed up enough that I’m able to wear a running shoe without pain, BUT, it still isn’t absolutely 100% perfect. (I would give it 93% to be exact). And the deal was that it had to be perfect. 93% doesn’t cut it.

DISCLAIMER – IF YOU’RE SQUEAMISH, OR DON’T WANT TO LOOK AT A PICTURE OF MY FOOT – AVERT YOUR EYES NOW!!!

Here is my foot today (it looks much worse than it feels – it’s all new skin so I can hardly feel it anymore!)

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It is sooo much better, but just not where I need it to be….yet.

A little piece of my heart knows that I could have pushed through and finished the race. But for once, my brain spoke up louder than my heart, and reminded me (sternly) that Around the Bay is not the goal race. The goal race is San Diego, and the goal is to represent the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society strong in the marathon. Running Around the Bay on my foot the way it is right now, while it might make me feel happy and proud of myself, I feel, would put San Diego in jeopardy. And that’s why I decided to skip it. Simple as that.

I am absolutely, admittedly, terrified of what missing this race means for the marathon. I haven’t run in a month (since the Chilly Half). This 30km race was supposed to be a huge check in the box for me, a huge stepping stone, that I slipped on, and ended up face first in the river instead of skipping across the water.

In all of my infinite wisdom, I guess I never really factored in what you should do when instead of jumping easily from stepping stone to stepping stone, you miss a step and end up face first in the water with some broken teeth. Guess I’ll have to let you know after I’ve dried myself off and gotten back up on the rock 😉

Anyways – my head is in the right place, and that’s a win. I’m focused, and I’m more determined than ever to pick myself up, dust myself off and get on with it. My foot is finally in a place where I can start to think about running on it again, and my plan is to start this Friday. Missing Around the Bay means that I’m going to have to rely on my own motivation to get my butt out the door and do a (couple of) 30km training runs on my own, without the motivation of a race. I’ll let you know how that goes!

Have a fabulous Sunday, I hope that your own stepping stones are coming along, and that your training is progressing a little smoother than my own at the moment!!! Keep the faith, trust the process, and we’ll all make it to the finish line together. No guarantees on whether our sanity will make it with us. 😉

-Sara xo

 

 

Be Your Own Hero

Real or fictional, can you think of someone who you totally admire and want to emulate?

I have a list a mile long, but at the top of it has to be Lisa Osborne, the New Zealand born program director for BodyAttack. Not far behind Lisa would be Sheryl Sandberg (the COO of Facebook, and the author of “Lean In”, a book about women, work and the will to lead which I haven’t been able to put down since I bought it). If you asked me to keep going, I would list off Ray Zahab (ex-chain smoker and pub-crawler turned ultra marathoner and social activist for clean drinking water), Tosca Reno (author of The Eat Clean Diet, cancer-widow of Robert Kennedy and ex-editor in chief of Oxygen Magazine), my mom, for facing the diagnosis of one of her children with a nearly terminal cancer, and handling it with the grace and strength of a marble statue.

The world is full of heroes, all you have to do is look around, and you’ll find one somewhere.

What struck me tonight though, as I sat on my couch devouring Lindt chocolates with my injured foot up on the couch (grumble, grumble), was the key message delivered to us this quarter by the woman at the top of my list; Lisa Osborne.

At the beginning of this particular BodyAttack release, the key message that Lisa asked us instructors to take back to our classes was this one: Be Your Own Hero. The funny part is that as I sit here on my couch, feeling kind of sorry for myself, worrying endlessly about my classes and my marathon, and stuffing chocolates in my face, I couldn’t feel further from a hero.

Something in Lisa’s message got me thinking a bit about what qualities I admire most in the people that I listed above. Kindness is number one. Hard work is number two. Strength of character and physical strength is number three. Courage is number four. Intelligence is number five. Resilience is number six. I could go on and on.

Today’s post is short, but I really wanted to share Lisa’s message about Being Your Own Hero with you. My goal for the next little while is to carry that message with me through everything that I do. If I was watching myself from the outside in, what would I think? Would my actions, thoughts, words be something that I admired if they were coming from someone else? If not, maybe I need to think about those actions, thoughts or words a little bit more.

What do you think? What if at the end of the day, we looked back at ourselves with the same sort of admiration that we look at those incredible people that we idolize? I think that would be pretty cool. I hope you do too.

Happy Tuesday all – hope you’re having a fantastic week.

-Sara xo

 

 

 

What I’ve Learned from a Pair of Blisters

 

I feel like I’m sitting down with a crisp piece of paper, a brand new ball point pen, a mug of hot chocolate and hours on end of free time to write a long, lazy, newsy letter to an old friend that I haven’t seen in over a year.

(That’s you by the way, you’re an old friend!)

While it’s only been 46 days (but who’s counting?) since my last post, as usual, with the way that things move around here, I feel like I’m a completely different person from the last time that I wrote. The real question, is where to begin my newsy letter to my old friends.

For starters: my brother is doing phenomenally well at home! He’s started working afternoons at my dad’s office doing IT related work, he’s put on about 6 or 7 pounds (moment to hate on the guy for literally struggling to put on weight…seriously, WTF), he’s hanging out with his friends, staying out late, taking shots at the bar, and otherwise acting like a normal 21 year old. Sometimes I get this frisson of fear that runs all the way through me because I just can’t believe that it’s actually happened. Like at any moment, someone or something might swoop in and take it away from us. Did we actually live this miracle? Has it actually happened for us? And if so, the question that keeps me up at night sometimes….why? Why us? Of all of the people suffering in that hospital, why were we chosen for the miracle? I rest my mind with the thought that for now, we are all happy, healthy and looking forward to what comes next. Worrying about what could come in the future is like worrying about the weather, or what might happen on the flight that you’re on. Useless and counter productive. You may as well sit back and enjoy the ride. Or so I’ve been told.

On the fundraising side of things, I cannot tell you how fabulous things have been going!! I’ve had a flurry of support come in from my friends, family, even perfect strangers have jumped in with both feet for my cause, and I am SO grateful. We held a fundraising event last Thursday evening at a local yoga clothing store (Lolë Atelier for those who may know if it – big ups to Lolë!!). I’ve been working on it for months, all with the looming fear that 4 people would show up, and it would be a big fat flop.

My fears were put to rest within about 5 minutes of the event starting. I have the best friends and family in the entire world. End of discussion.

The store was packed, filled to the brim with all of the people that I love and cherish most in the world. To say it was a special evening just doesn’t cut it; it was one of the best nights I’ve ever had. People shopped, did yoga, ate baked goods (including this demon fudge that my friend Lindsay and I were up until nearly midnight trying to get right the night before), and just celebrated my brother and everything that he’s accomplished.

We raised nearly $2,500, but that isn’t what really matters to me. I think in the world that we live in, the absolute most precious thing that a person can give to another person is their time. I know that I cherish my time more than I cherish any money. Finding an hour in the day feels like finding a $50 bill sometimes (or so it feels!!). For so many people to take the time to come out on a Thursday night just to support my family….there just aren’t any words. I’ll let the pictures below do the talking!

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The last picture is my brother and I. Can you see the stem cell resemblance?

Sorry….that one will never get old 😉 😉

On the running side of the coin, it’s been a horse of a different colour. And the colour is baby puke green. Everything was going really well with my running, I had a couple of crazy beast runs on the treadmill while I was overseas in Lebanon (yes – I went overseas to Lebanon since the last time I wrote….jeez….this post could be 15 pages long…..), and in general, I was feeling fit and ready to rock for the Chilly Half Marathon on March 2nd.

Ready to “rock”……how ironic….

On the Friday before the race, I kicked a mother-effing rock. Sorry for the swearing, but I wrote that sentence without the “mother-effing”, and it didn’t really come across with the venom that I wanted it to. So “mother-effing” stayed in.

We’ve had this big decorative rock sitting with it’s butt-end jutting out just into the path of our driveway ever since we’ve moved in. I’ve dropped my iPod on it and shattered the screen, I don’t even know how many people have tripped over it on their way up the drive…but that son of a gun messed with the wrong person this time. The exact instant that the ground thaws, that rock is going off the highest cliff I can find. Or into a rock crusher. Or maybe an incinerator or a meat grinder………..whatever would be most painful for it…..*insert evil cackle here*.

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I was innocently walking up the driveway, fresh off my massage, feeling like I was ready to run the half marathon right then and there…..and BAM. Rock to the top of my bare foot (I was wearing my flat work shoes at the time). I knew I was in trouble right away, not from the big cut and blood on my foot, but from how bad it actually hurt, and the way that it puffed up right away.

Sure enough, my foot bruised up like crazy, and there was a big and quite deep gash on the top of it that bled for a good hour straight.

(Sure, when I needed to donate stem cells to save my little brother’s life, my blood thickens up like gumbo. When trying to stop the gash in my foot from getting blood on my brand new couch…….it flows like water).

I instantly freaked out because I was concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to run the race on Sunday. I got through my Attack class on Saturday, but it was painful to have the running shoe on my foot. We came to the (expert) conclusion that my foot wasn’t broken because I was able to walk around barefoot with minimal pain…..I went to bed freaking out, not sure what the heck I was going to do.

Race morning was a disaster. I was all over the place, forgetting things here, there and everywhere. My bib wasn’t on my shirt, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to wear, couldn’t find my iPod headphones, hadn’t charged my iPod up in the first place, and my foot still hurt like crazy in a running shoe. I literally made the decision as I was walking out the door that I was going to do it, and be damned if I was going to let the rock win.

At the race start, I realized that I had forgotten my running jacket at home. #EpicFail. I decided to run in just my long sleeve top and my puffy winter vest. Anyone looking at me probably thought it was my first time running in my life, but that’s cool, I deserve the judgment for my sheer stupidity.

I ran into one of my class participants and chatted with him for a few minutes. It’s always nice to have a connection back to my classes when I’m at races for some reason. It calms me down a lot to see people from the gym for some reason. Maybe because they always seem to have this absolutely unfailing faith that I can do absolutely anything. God bless their hearts…if he only knew the morning I had had!!!

We finally got off and running, literally. It was cold. Let me repeat that one more time for effect. It. Was. Cold. It was also wet. My feet were soaked within about 45 seconds, but I was pleased to note that once my feet had frozen solid, I could barely feel the top of my foot anymore.

Hurray for silver frozen linings.

At kilometer 5 my iPod died. I actually laughed out loud when that happened, because I just couldn’t imagine anything else going wrong for me that particular weekend. Little did I know.

At kilometer 8, I realized that I was developing a blister on my left foot. A big blister. I could feel the skin rubbing raw on my inside arch and I thought to myself, oh boy. Here we go. I muscled on until I hit kilometer 10, where there happened to be a Saint John’s Ambulance tent. Pushing my “Mental Matt” out of my head, I stopped and asked the kind folks for a Band-Aid.

*Insert moment of zen breathing here before you read the next sentence*

They didn’t have a Band-Aid.

Saint John’s Ambulance. At a half marathon. Seriously. WTF. In front of my very eyes, there was a defibrillator, an intubation kit, a stethoscope and a little light that you shine in people’s eyes. I could have collapsed of cardiac arrest right there on the gravel and been in perfectly capable hands. But god forbid I get a blister.

I carried on, and made the executive decision that I was going to get there no matter what. I talk in my classes a lot about not giving up when things get tough. I’ve been fortunate enough in my running and my triathlons that I have never really had to suffer too much.

Okay, okay. I suffered a lot in the Half IronMan, like a LOT. But let’s forget about that for now 😉

Anyways, I’ve been pretty lucky that I’ve never had to suffer too much. I’ve not really been tested too strenuously to put my money where my mouth is and “not give up” when things get difficult. Damned if I was going to walk off a course and land my first ever DNF because my feet hurt. As the kilometers ticked by, I realized with a  sinking heart that I had developed an equivalent blister on my right foot. I could feel the blood starting to ooze inside my shoe. At one point, I wondered if it might actually soak right through my shoe.

I should mention that while all of this was going on, I was powering through kilometers like it was my job. I felt so super strong running. I just really, really wish that I could somehow wave a magic wand and eliminate the blisters from the race, because I really wonder what I would have been able to do had I been in tip top condition.

I got to the finish line really pleased with my race, despite the nonsense with my feet, the iPod, the cold, the wet and my less than ideal running attire. When I stopped running, I knew that I had hurt myself pretty badly, but just focused on getting home to get my shoes off.

When I finally did get my shoes off at home, the entire sole of my left sock was soaked in blood, and the right one had a pretty sizable stain as well. I had taken all the skin off about 2 inches of the inside of my left arch, and shredded up the right arch pretty decently as well. I couldn’t put any weight on either foot….which made walking interesting….;)

Long story (sorry, I told you it was going to be a long, newsy, lazy letter) short, the blisters have been so extreme that I haven’t been able to wear shoes for about 6 days. I missed an entire week of my classes (horror of all horrors), and am only just now (9 days later) starting to ease back into running shoes (still with pretty significant pain).

Back to the title of this post, what I learned from a pair of blisters. I learned that I’m a lot tougher than I think I am. I learned that even when things fall apart and everything is working against you, the only person that ultimately gets the final call on whether you give up or whether you don’t, is you. Don’t blame the blisters, or the cold, or the iPod. It’s you that gets the final call. You can’t always control what happens to you. But you can control how you react to it.

On the flip side, I learned a bit about race preparation, and what it can mean for your race. My iPod should have been charged, if I wanted it. I should have been wearing blister-preventing socks (since I know that I’m prone to blisters because I over-pronate). I should have been wearing the proper race gear.

I am now three weeks out from Around the Bay. My feet are just starting to think about healing a little bit, but I am hopeful to be able to run a little bit this weekend, and to do another big run next weekend to prepare. Is it ideal? No. But I’ve learned to roll with it. I’m starting to develop a little bit of faith in myself: I’ll get it done. It feels good. I look back at the girl writing this blog at this very moment last year, and she is hardly recognizable to me.

Anyways – that’s what I’ve been up to my friends. Please, please won’t you update me on what you’ve been doing the last couple of months?! I just know that you’ve been up to amazing things, and I want to hear all about them.

Lots of love – and I promise to check in before too long!

Work hard – train hard, and never give up. Least of all on yourself.

xoxo