California International Marathon 2012

subtitle: maybe someday I’ll learn not to start too fast.

It’s now quite comical to me that I signed up for this race right after Big Sur (which at the time was the hardest race of my life) to smash my PR. The running gods TOTALLY had something else in mind.

On Saturday afternoon I met up with some of my favorite people at the Expo.  We talked about our strategy, given the fact that it was going to be pouring rain with a crazy headwind. Pretty much everyone decided that finding a pace group was the way to go, so that you’d have people to draft off.

I decided I’d line up with the 3:30 or 3:35 group depending on how I felt in the morning.  There was my first mistake.

When we got to the start the wind was howling and the rain was blowing sideways.  I huddled under an awning with Beth and Jana until about 10 minutes to 7, when it was time to brave the elements and line up.  I had put on gloves, arm warmers, and compression socks, but at the last minute I decided to grab a $2.00 throwaway poncho to wear for the first few miles.

I spend the first couple miles with the 3:30 pace group, which under normal conditions probably would have been fine.  But running into the wind was so exhausting, I used up all my energy way too early on.  Miles 6-10 were the worst, and even trying to stay behind people didn’t seem to make much of a difference.  By mile 10 we’d run through some huge puddles and my shoes were completely heavy and full of water.  I started feeling a tightness in my right leg so I backed off the pace a little bit.

The tightness turned to some more serious pain in my knee, hip and ankle so I took my first walk break at mile 15.  I was relieved I’d kept my poncho because it was COLD as soon as I stopped running. That seemed to help a little bit, and I was able to start running again.  The rain was still coming down like crazy but fortunately the wind wasn’t blowing as hard.  Somewhere around mile 18, I heard my name and was thrilled to see these ladies cheering (even with the horrible weather. <3)

(thanks for the photo, XLMIC!)

I wish I could say that the rest of the race went perfectly, but it didn’t.  The knee pain kept coming and going and I took a few more walk breaks.  I swore I would never run another marathon again, but was still grateful to have the opportunity to run at all.

FINALLY we crossed the bridge onto J Street and I immediately started counting down the blocks. FIFTY + blocks.  It’s impossible not to look at those damn street signs.  I took my last walk break somewhere around mile 23 and the 3:45 pace group passed me.  I decided that I was NOT going to let that happen, no matter how badly my knee hurt.  I picked it up, finally ditched the poncho (it had actually stopped raining around mile 25!) and rounded the final turn to finish in 3:42:56, 10 minutes slower than my PR, but my second best marathon time (and faster than Big Sur!)

It was tough out there, and I honestly am not sure if I want to do another marathon again any time soon.  But I am SO grateful for my amazing friends and of course, my favorite cheerleaders.

 PS. I’m guessing no1curr, but here are mile splits: (7:38, 7:47, 7:26, 7:48, 7:43, 7:43, 8:00, 8:14, 8:01, 7:43, 7:33, 7:49, 8:03, 8:24, 9:41, 8:34, 9:42, 8:10, 8:28, 10:43, 10:18, 8:48, 10:08, 8:19, 8:14, 8:07, 2:21) average: 8:33. One of these half marathons was not like the other.

CIM: Goals for marathon #8

I’ll be running my eighth marathon in 3 days, and I kind of have some goals. Waaaay back when I finished Big Sur (aka the hardest marathon I’ve ever done) I decided my goal for my next marathon was to beat that time by 20 minutes, which would be a 3:29.  As I trained over the last 12 weeks, I kept stalking the McMillan pace calculator.

After my half PR, it said I could do a 3:27:51.  After my unofficial 10K PR, it said I could do 3:26:26.  But then there was this:

Crap.  If the wind is blowing from SSW, and the course runs from Northeast to Southwest (I think…I’m not too great with the meteorology stuff), that means it’s going to be a pretty nasty headwind.  Just like Big Sur.

So I’m going to stand by my goal of 3:29 as my number one goal but I’ll be pretty happy with a PR (under 3:32), or, if the wind really sucks like it looks like it’s going to… I just want to beat my Big Sur time.  Because although it hasn’t been perfect, it’s still been a pretty good training cycle, with some awesome track workouts (and one HORRIBLE one. But I’m choosing to ignore that one).

Most importantly, a bunch of my friends will be there, both running and cheering, and I can’t wait to see them all.  I have been so lucky to find this amazing group, so even if the race goes to crap, at least I won’t be alone out there!



CIM: Week 10

Hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Are you sick of reading these training recaps yet?

Week one of taper was a good one, complete with an unofficial PR!

I know it doesn’t really count because it was just a training run, but that’s my fastest 10K ever (by 30 seconds!)

Here’s how the week went down:

Monday – rest, as always

Tuesday – 6.3 miles at 8:24 min/mile.  Just a regular after-work run

Wednesday – Got up EARLY for a track workout.  The training plan called for 5 x 600, but I decided to do 4 x 800 + 4 x 400.  My first 800 was 3:17 and I was super bummed, but managed to do the next 3 in 3:08.  400s were 88, 89, 88, 87 (I think that’s the first time I’ve ever run that many under 90!) 5.2 miles total.

Thursday – rest

Friday – The unofficial 10K PR! I didn’t warm up at all, and I didn’t realize I was going that fast…I was just trying to push it a little bit.  My last 3 miles (one of which was downhill) were all under 7:00.  VERY pleasantly surprised when I checked my watch! 6.2 at 7:05 min/mile

Saturday – an easy 6.6 miles at 8:55 min/mile

Sunday – my last long run! 16 at 8:33 min/mile

Total: 40.3 miles

Seitan Pot Pie

On Sunday we ventured into the city with to stock up on tons of pantry stuff at the one and only Rainbow Grocery. If that store could open a branch in Walnut Creek, I would appreciate it immensely. (I realize that’s never going to happen).

Since we were going all the way across the bay anyway, we decided to add a couple side trips.  First, we went to Trouble Coffee for lattes and toast.  It was a beautiful day, so we strolled down to the beach.  Ellie’s gotten pretty awesome at walking, but the sand provided some new challenges.  Still, she LOVED every minute: watching the dogs, saying hi to people, and trying to explain to us everything she saw.

I’ve lived here for 2+ years now but I always seem to forget that November is pretty much the best month of the year on the ocean side of the city.  It was perfect.

It’s still a tiny bit warm for comfort food, but that’s not stopping me.  This was a little bit involved for a weeknight, but it was delicious.  Filling and hearty, with a whole-wheat cornmeal crust and plenty of seitan and vegetables inside, all three of us loved it.  It’s definitely going into the rotation all fall and winter long!

I made my seitan using this recipe, but if you’re short on time, you can use store-bought. I know it’s kind of wrong, but I un-veganized this recipe.  I used butter in the crust instead of shortening.  If you’re vegan, you can use shortening (or I’d imagine Earth Balance would be pretty good too), but since I’m not, I just couldn’t make pastry without real butter.

Seitan Pot Pie


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup cold water
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Filling
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 large russet potato, diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 lb seitan, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 2/3 cup white whine
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • salt and pepper


  1. To make the crust, place the flours, salt, sugar, cornmeal, and baking powder in a medium bowl and stir together with a fork.
  2. Add the butter and blend in with a pastry cutter, or rub between your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Add the vingegar and water (a few tablespoons at a time), and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together.
  4. Knead it gently once or twice, then pat it into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Keep in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
  5. To make the filling: heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  6. Add the garbanzo flour and stir constantly until golden brown and fragrant, about 10 minutes.
  7. Add the onion and continue stirring for about 5 minutes, until the onion softens.
  8. Add the carrots, celery, and potatoes and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in the white wine.
  9. Scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan and stir well.
  10. Add the seitan, broth, corn, sage and thyme and cook until the vegetables are soft and the sauce has thickened slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  11. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  12. Ladle the filling into a 3 quart casserole dish or several smaller, oven-safe bowls.
  13. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and roll out between two pieces of plastic wrap until it's about 1/4" thick.
  14. Gently drape over the casserole and trim so there's about 1" of extra dough around the edges.
  15. Prick all over with a fork.
  16. Place the casserole on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, until the crust is browned. (If you're using smaller bowls, drop the baking time to about 30 minutes)
  17. Remove from the oven and cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

(adapted from Veganomicon)


CIM Training: Week 9

After that lame 25 mile week, I was relieved to be above 50 again this week.  My runs were all pretty decent, but by the end of the week I was definitely ready for taper to start.

I took no pictures all week, so here’s my dailymile graph.

Monday – rest

Tuesday – started out with 7 blah miles on the treadmill at ungodly hour.  When I got to school, I got talked into racing the Turkey Trot (a one-mile race around campus that most of the staff members do along with the kids. Including one teacher who ran a 9:05 in HEELS). I ran 6:13. Not in heels.

Wednesday – Too much election excitement meant my morning track workout didn’t happen, so I ran 8 tempo miles after school (7:22 min/mile)

Thursday – 5 miles recovery (8:55 min/mile)

Friday – 7 easy treadmill miles bright and early (8:51 min/mile)

Saturday – 5 miles with Mike and Ellie.  I pushed the stroller for the last half and MAN that kid is getting heavy. (8:48 min/mile)

Sunday – 20 miles.  8 miles on the treadmill before the sun came up followed immediately by 12 on the roads.  I picked it up for the last 3 miles and ran them all under 8 min/mile.  Overall pace was 8:36 min/mile.

Total: 53 miles

Pumpkin Roll Cake with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

A couple thoughts:

1. I used to get SO irritated with my mom because she had a “No Christmas Music until December 10th” rule. DECEMBER TENTH.  Now I totally get it.  Mike put on Christmas music the other night and I was SO not ready for it.

2. Of all the things I have to be thankful for, central heating is definitely in the top 3.

3. I used to think I wanted to move to Colorado.  Then this morning it was 40 degrees and I realized I would not survive one second there.

4. I feel like the pumpkin window is closing way too fast.  People are already on to red cups and Christmas cookies and I’m like WAIT. I still have six big cans of pumpkin and 92 pumpkin recipes I haven’t made yet!  So here’s one of them.

Even if you don’t make the cake, at least make the caramel sauce.  I don’t like buorbon, but I could (ok, did) eat this sauce with a spoon.

The original recipe for this cake comes from The Pastry Queen cookbook, but I changed a couple things.  First of all, I left the nuts out of the filling.  I also used only cream cheese instead of cream cheese + mascarpone, and I skipped the whipped cream on top and melted chocolate on top because it was already plenty rich.  As for the caramel sauce, it called for rum, but I used bourbon instead.

Pumpkin Roll Cake with Bourbon Caramel Sauce


  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Filling
  • 3 8-ounce packages cram cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
  • Caramel sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp bourbon


  1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350 F and line a 12x17" jelly roll pan with parchment and spay with cooking spray.
  2. Beat the egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium high for about 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar and mix for another minute.
  3. Scrape down the bowl.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice together onto a sheet of wax paper. Add to the egg yolk mixture one third at a time, mixing until incoporated after each addition.
  5. Add the pumpkin and mix on low until combined.
  6. Put the egg whites in a clean bowl and whip with a hand mixer until they form soft peaks. Gradually stream in the sugar and continue beating until the mixture hold stiff peaks. Fold gently into the cake batter.
  7. Spread evenly in the jelly roll pan and bake for 15 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack.
  9. To make the filling, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and spices and beat on high for one minute.
  10. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until it hold soft peaks. Fold into the cream cheese mixture.
  11. Remove the cake from the pan but don't take off the parchment. Spread the filling over the cake and roll the cake up starting from the short side closest to you, peeling the parchment off as you roll.
  12. Wrap well and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  13. To make the caramel sauce, put the sugar in a wide, heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Don't stir, but swirl the pan gently until the sugar is melted and golden brown (don't let it get too dark or it will taste burnt and you'll have to start over).
  14. Once the sugar is melted, turn the heat to low and stir in the butter.
  15. Stir in the cream very gradually (a spoonful at a time) until the caramel is uniform and smooth.
  16. Remove from the heat and add the bourbon.
  17. Serve the cake with the caramel on the side.

CIM Training: Week 8

Hideous picture to go with an equally hideous week of running.

I was on top of the freaking world after my 57 mile week/200 mile month.  It was awesome.  And then I got sick.

I actually only missed 3 days of running, but one of them was a long run (which I started but cut short because my throat hurt too much and it just didn’t seem worth it to keep going) so I ended the week with a measly 25 miles.  Fortunately this week I was able to get right back on track, and I’m grateful that it was a pretty minor cold.

Three more days until taper starts!

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – 7.66 miles (8:13 min/mile)

Wednesday – Track workout: 5 miles total, with 5 x 800 (3:14, 3:15, 3:15, 3:16, 3:11)

Thursday – 7 miles (8:17 min/mile)

Friday – Sick

Saturday – Sick

Sunday – 5 miles

Total: 25 miles

Miso Sweet Potatoes with Tofu

I know it’s a little crazy but I actually have TWO recipes to share this week.  HOLD THE PRESSES.  I’m sharing the healthy one first because it seems like it’s been awhile since anything healthy has graced this blog.

Other than the fact that I’ve actually been cooking things, not much is new around here.  Ellie is still obsessed with the headband from her Halloween costume.  I’m still obsessed with watching No Reservations on Netflix.  Good times.

On Sunday night I made these sweet potatoes, only I added some maple syrup and some sauteed tofu (I also used yellow sweet potatoes instead of orange, but they were a little dry, so I think I’d stick with orange).  I served them with oshitashi spinach on the side.  Ellie LOVED the sweet potatoes.  She’s entering a (hopefully extremely brief) phase where she’s really skeptical about anything green, so the spinach was a no go (and then I added mirin, which makes it taste amazing, but has alcohol in it).

Miso Sweet Potatoes with Tofu


  • 1 16-oz block tofu, drained and diced
  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup water


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Toss the potatoes with a few tbsp olive oil, spread on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until tender (about 30 minutes).
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wide skillet and add the tofu. Sautee until golden brown on all sides. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the miso paste, tahini, lemon juice, maple syrup, and water until smooth.
  4. When the potatoes are done, toss them in a large bowl with the tofu and dressing.

CIM: Week 7

PEAK WEEK! I broke my weekly mileage record by one mile, and ran 200 miles in a month for the first time.  I took two rest days, but I think it really helped me get through 57 miles (which is a lot for me) without too many issues.  On Saturday I felt a little achy in my right knee, but by Sunday morning I was good to go for my first 20 miler of this training cycle.

It seems a little early to have my peak week since there are still 5 weeks until the race, but next week will be around 49, and the week after, 52.  Then, taper madness!

Megan recently posted about running more miles, and it made me think about the mileage I’ve been running lately. For my first few marathons, I think I peaked at MAYBE 40 miles a week, with one 20 miler.  I did okay, and I eventually ended up breaking 4 hours on my third try.  But Advanced Marathoning changed everything! When I had a plan all laid out for me, I didn’t really doubt that I could run so many more miles than I was used to.  I was really intimidated by that 55 mile week, but the plan built up to it gradually, and I survived.  Someday in the future, I’d love to try and peak at 70 miles a week…but we’ll see.

Monday – rest

Tuesday – 7 miles @ 8:17/mile

Wednesday – AM: Super early 7 mile run with Aron; PM: 5.75 miles

Thursday – rest

Friday – AM: 8 w/ 5 @ 7:18/mile; PM: 4.2 miles

Saturday – 5.25 miles easy

Sunday – 20 miles @ 8:54/mile

Total: 57.2 miles! (October total: 204 miles)

My long run felt sort of like cheating.  I woke up really early, ran to the gym and did 6 miles on the treadmill, ran home to drop off my phone and headlamp, ran a 7 mile loop, then ran the last 5 with Mike and Ellie.  Breaking it up like that made it SO much easier to face, and the last 5 miles ended up being the fastest.

I recovered the best way I know how: with pizza.

I based it on this recipe, but with homemade white crust, canned artichoke hearts rather than fresh, and pizza sauce instead of oil. I don’t use pecorino often enough!

Momofuku Birthday Cake

In spite of the fact that the compost cookies completely flopped, I am completely in love with the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook.  When Mike decided he wanted his birthday cake to be THE birthday cake from the book, I was super stoked….until I realized that I didn’t have any acetate sheets or clear vanilla extract.  But I can assure you that even with regular old vanilla extract, this beats any other homemade funfetti cake by a mile (and I’ve tried a few).  Plus, you can buy acetate sheets (overhead transparencies) from the print-shop section of an office supply store for about a dollar a sheet (I used 2 sheets for the cake) and just tape them together.

Thanks to my less than stellar reading comprehension skills (an affliction that worsens when I’m overly excited about trying a new recipe), I started baking only about 8 hours before we wanted to eat.  The recipe tells you to put the cake in the freezer for at least 12, and then thaw in the fridge for 3, but 3 hours in the freezer was plenty.

This cookbook is what initially sold me on baking by weight (The Bread Baker’s Apprentice recommends it as well, but I couldn’t be bothered until sweets were involved), so I HIGHLY recommend using a kitchen scale for this.  I am listing the weights because I didn’t measure by volume, except for liquids and little stuff like baking powder.  The directions say to bake it in a quarter sheet pan and then use cake rings to make 6″ round layers.  I just divided the batter in thirds and baked it in 6″ round pans and it worked perfectly.

My parents, Mike and I all agreed that this cake was HEAVENLY.  It’s very sweet, but the frosting is like no other homemade frosting I’ve ever had; a perfect hybrid of buttercream and cream cheese frosting.  The crumbs between each layer are a must because of the unexpected contrast they provide.  I know the recipe looks like a major production, but it’s a lot of fun to put together!

Momofuku Birthday Cake


  • 100 g sugar
  • 25 g light brown sugar
  • 90 g cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 20 g rainbow sprinkles
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • Cake
  • 55 g butter, at room temperature (1/2 stick)
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 250 g granulated sugar
  • 50 g light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 245 g cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 50 g rainbow sprinkles
  • Soak
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Frosting
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 tsp corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 200 g powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • pinch baking powder
  • pinch citric acid


  1. First, make the crumbs: Preheat the oven to 300F. Combine all the dry ingredients and mix will. Stir in the oil and vanilla and mix until clusters form. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Cool completely before using in the cake.
  3. To make the cake, turn the oven up to 350 F. Line 3 6" cake pans with parchment rounds and grease the sides.
  4. Combine the butter, shortening, and both sugars in the bowl of a mixer and beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute or two after each addition.
  5. Add the buttermilk, grapeseed oil, and vanilla and beat on medium-high for 5 minutes, until the batter is well-mixed.
  6. Divide evenly among the pans
  7. Add the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles, and mix on low just until combined.
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the edge of the cake bounces back when poked and the middle is set.
  9. Cool in the pans on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then remove the layers from their pans and cool completely.
  10. To make the frosting, beat the butter, shortening, and cream cheese together in the bowl of a stand mixer for about 3 minutes.
  11. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and beat on high for another 3 minutes.
  12. Add the powdered sugar, salt, baking powder, and citric acid and mix on low so you don't send powdered sugar flying all over your kitchen. Once it's incorporated, turn the mixer up to high and beat until smooth and creamy.
  13. To assemble the cake, put a piece of parchment or wax paper on a plate and set one of the layers on it.
  14. Wrap a 3" tall, 20" long strip of acetate around the base of the cake and tape it in place.
  15. Mix the milk and vanilla (for the soak) together in a small bowl, and brush a third of it over the first layer.
  16. Spread one fifth of the frosting evenly over the cake. Sprinkle with some of the crumbs, press them into the frosting, and top with a thin layer of frosting.
  17. Place the second layer on top of the frosting and tuck another strip of acetate (the same size as the first one) in so you have a 5" tall ring.
  18. Set a second cake round on top of the frosting and repeat with the soak, crumbs, and frosting.
  19. Add the third layer, brush the remaining soak over it, and spread the remaining frosting on top. Sprinkle with a few of the remaining crumbs.
  20. Place the plate in the freezer for at least 3 hours.
  21. Carefully peel the acetate off the sides of the cake and defrost in the refrigerator for 3 hours before serving.

(from Momofuku Milk Bar)

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