Welcome Home, Piper!!

We got a puppy!  Matt and I are thrilled to welcome Piper into our lives and home.  Isn’t she adorable?

Our new GSP puppy Piper

Piper is a two month old German Shorthaired Pointer.  Yesterday Matt and I drove from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin to pick Piper up from her breeder, Alliwood Shorthairs, and we just made it home from our 1750 mile round trip this afternoon.  We drove there in about 14 hours, stopped for a few hours in a Chicago-area hotel with Piper (not easy with a little pup!), before getting back on the road at about 2:15am this morning.  Needless to say, we are exhausted and should probably be sleeping right now… but I want to share a few more photos of our goofy, happy, snuggly new family member first!!

We are looking forward to enjoying many adventures with Piper!  (The first of which starts tonight… housebreaking!)  :-)

Our new puppy Piper

Bark In the Park 5K

Good morning! Well, by the time I post this blog it will probably be evening, but I am typing this from the car at 6:54am on Sunday morning as Matt and I are heading out to Wisconsin on a very important mission. I’ll tell you more about that in my next post! :-)

Today’s post is a recap of the DelCo SPCA’s Bark in the Park 5K that I ran on Saturday at Rose Tree Park in Media, PA.  As the name implies, this was a dog-friendly event and runners were encouraged to race with a dog. I originally planned to run with Matt’s parents’ super-speedy GSP, Bella, but Bella wasn’t available so I switched things up and ran with Hershey the chocolate lab instead.

Hershey

Hershey is a sweet, loving 4 ½ year old pup who is extremely laid back and eager to please. She is not a runner (she’d much prefer to sleep all day!) so I was a little apprehensive about taking her to a 5K.  I ran a mile with her the day before the race to make sure that she could physically run and then showed up at the race Saturday morning hoping that she was ready to go!

When the race began Hershey shot out of the starting area with an uncharacteristic pep in her step and we happily ran our first mile together with her heeling impressively well at my side.  Good girl, Hershey!  Then the second mile came around and Hershey realized that this was not just a short jaunt in the park.  She slowed down significantly and by the second lap around the park’s cross country course I was running with my left arm extended out behind me, giving my running buddy an encouraging “come on, Hersh!” every minute or so.  Hershey never wanted to flat out stop but it was very clear that she had a different idea of what a comfortable 5K pace was.  Oh well!

We dragged our way around the second lap and focused on dodging the participants of the 1 mile walk that had started at the same time as the 5K.  The walkers took up an enormous amount of space on the course with their dogs wandering around at the end of their leashes, seemingly oblivious to the fact that a race was going on at the same time on the same course.  I don’t know how this could have been remedied, but it was certainly not ideal, especially since I had a dog of my own which made dodging the walkers that much more difficult.

Annie and Hershey 5K-

After about 21 minutes Hershey and I finally came into view of the finish line but we weren’t done quite yet (much to Hershey’s chagrin).  We ran past the finish and followed a poorly marked loop up and down a few more hills before turning back to finally cross the line.  We finished in 26:25*, good for 18th place overall out of 155 runners and 4th female.  I don’t know how many dogs were ahead of us but I think Hershey did a great job in her first 5K!

Bark in the Park Runkeeper

*The official race time clock was ticking away in the 29s when I finished and, according to the official results, my time was 29:32. I had both a stopwatch and Runkeeper recording my 26:25 finish so I am positive that the official time was not correct!

The Bark in the Park event benefited the Delaware County SPCA which is a great cause, but the 5K was poorly managed and I probably won’t go back next year. The race started 20 minutes late, parts of the course were virtually unmarked (especially that last loop to the finish), and the combination of the 5K runners with dogs trying to pass through the mob of oblivious walkers with dogs during the second lap of the course was just crazy. All of this plus the wildly inaccurate timing made Saturday a strange racing experience. Luckily, I was running purely to have fun and I think Hershey and I definitely accomplished that!! :-)

Miles since last post:  37.4
Days since last post:  8
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.87
2014 TOTAL MILES: 1458.6

Related Posts:
•  Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/18/14)
•  Martin’s Run 5K (10/5/14)
•  Haverford Township Day 5K (9/27/14)
•  Run A Muck 5K-ish Trail Race (9/20/14)
•  Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13/14)
•  Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28/14)
•  Radnor Red Steeplechase 5K (8/17/14)
•  Riddlewood Swim Club 5K (8/3/14)
•  Swarthmore Lions Independence Eve 8K (7/18/14)
•  Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10/14)
•  Media 5 Miler (6/20/14)
•  Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1/14)
•  Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30/14)
•  Run for Victory 5K (5/18/14)
•  Elwyn 5K (5/3/14)
•  St. Tim’s 5K (4/26/14)
•  Rick’s Run 5K (4/19/14)
•  Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3/14)
•  Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4/14)
•  New Year’s Eve 5K at the YMCA (12/31/13)
•  Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14/13)
•  Turkey Trot 5K (11/28/13)
•  Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2/13)
•  Oy Vey 5K (10/27/13)
•  Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19/13)
•  Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21/13)
•  The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

Italian White Bean Hummus

If you’ve ever eaten at an Italian restaurant I’m sure that you’ve enjoyed a nice piece of crusty bread dipped in olive oil.  But have you ever had the pleasure of tasting white bean hummus served with that olive oil?  I was recently at a restaurant where they stirred herby, creamy white bean hummus into the oil and I absolutely loved it.  I liked it so much, in fact, that as soon as the meal was over I decided that I was going to make my own white bean hummus at home so I could eat it by the spoonful!

To be honest, I didn’t actually intend to eat this hummus by the spoonful, but as soon as I blended together the rosemary, beans, garlic and lemon juice I couldn’t help but lick the spoon 2 or 3 or …7? times!  It was just SO delicious!  The rosemary is fragrant, the lemon is bright, the garlic is strong (as it should be!) and the white beans are blended into a smooth, creamy consistency perfect for dipping.

Italian White Bean Hummus with Rosemary, Garlic and Lemon.  Delicious and so easy to make!!

 

Italian White Bean Hummus
(Recipe from Racheal Ray)

You will need…
1 – 15oz. can Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
3 sprigs Rosemary, leaves removed from the stem and roughly chopped
Juice of 1 Lemon
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Olive Oil (approximately)
Salt, to taste
3 tablespoons Tahini

Directions:
Add all ingredients to the bowl of a blender or food processor.  Blend together until smooth, adding more olive oil as you go if needed.  I used a Vitamix and found that blending on low between speed settings 2-4 while using the tamper to push the ingredients into the blades worked well.  Once the hummus has reached a creamy consistency use a spatula to scrape the dip into a bowl.  (Don’t leave any hummus behind… you’re going to want to eat every last drop!)  Serve with crackers, crusty Italian bread, or just a spoon.  :-)

Italian White Bean Hummus 2-

Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K

Two weeks ago when I ran Martin’s Run 5K and won $75 in gift certificates AND a signed baseball I was positive that I had hit the motherload of all 5K awards.  But guess what?  I was wrong because the raffle prizes that Matt and I won at this morning’s Fueled Up and Fired Up 5K in Wallingford, PA just paid for all of the 22 races that I’ve done in 2014!!  Here’s what we won:

  • A bucket of craft beer (pumpkin and fall varieties, of course!) and a gift certificate to Quotations, a gastropub in Media
  • Brunch for 6 at Brandywine Prime in Chadds Ford
  • And… drumroll, please… 150 gallons of heating oil from the event’s main sponsor, Wilson Oil!!

The heating oil alone is easily worth $450+ and is definitely something that we would otherwise be buying at this time of year so yeah, that just paid for all of my race entries from the last 10 months.  Thanks, Wilson Oil!  :-)

Annie Fueled Up

The race itself was pretty exciting too.  Last year’s Fueled Up 5K was my second race and I remember being so excited afterwards because I finished the race without walking (a big feat at the time!!) and I got a then PR-time of 26:51.  I knew going into today’s race that I can now run much faster, but I was curious to see how different my race and splits would be after 12 months of running.  Here’s a side by side comparison of last year vs. this year’s race!

I ran almost 3 minutes faster this year and finished with another sub-24 time (!!) of 23:56.  Woohoo!  As you can see in the stats above, I went out really fast but the first mile also had a huge downhill so that 7:16 pace felt surprisingly comfortable.  Matt and I passed one another a few times during the second mile as we wove through relatively flat neighborhoods, but then I pulled into the lead for good at the 2 mile marker, just before we entered the woods for the long climb up the paved Smedley-Leiper Trail.

Last year I vividly remember working SO HARD to keep from walking up the winding hills on the Smedley-Leiper Trail.  Apparently the race directors remember this too because this year they had a separately timed “King of the Hill” challenge that tracked the last 0.8 mile stretch for all of the 5K and 5 mile runners.  This was a fun idea and helped to give some additional insight about pacing and finishing speed.  I placed 7th overall in the 5K and, looking at the 5 mile results, if I had run the same pace in the 5 mile (not likely), I would have finished 8th overall.  So basically with all of the 5K and 5M runners lumped together for the last 0.8 mile stretch, I would be sitting in 14th place in terms of overall race pace.  But get this… for the King of the Hill challenge I ended up 8th overall!  So I actually ran up the big hill and finished the race at a much faster pace than several of the runners that had overall faster races.  (Sorry, that got a bit complicated there, but I find it interesting!)

Matt finished 13th overall and 2nd in his age group with a 24:46.

Matt finished 13th overall and 2nd in his age group with a 24:46.

My 23:56 finish time was good enough for 3rd place female and 1st in my age group which reminds me… I only have one more weekend to go before I join the 30-39 age group!!  I turn 30 on November 1st so I better have a good last race in the 20-29 AG in next Saturday’s Bark in the Park 5K.  As the name implies, the Bark in the Park is a dog friendly event so I will be borrowing Bella the GSP to run with me.  I’m looking forward to having a 4-legged racing buddy!

Miles since last post:  71.1
Days since last post:  13
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.88
2014 TOTAL MILES: 1421.2

Related Posts:
•  Martin’s Run 5K (10/5/14)
•  Haverford Township Day 5K (9/27/14)
•  Run A Muck 5K-ish Trail Race (9/20/14)
•  Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13/14)
•  Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28/14)
•  Radnor Red Steeplechase 5K (8/17/14)
•  Riddlewood Swim Club 5K (8/3/14)
•  Swarthmore Lions Independence Eve 8K (7/18/14)
•  Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10/14)
•  Media 5 Miler (6/20/14)
•  Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1/14)
•  Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30/14)
•  Run for Victory 5K (5/18/14)
•  Elwyn 5K (5/3/14)
•  St. Tim’s 5K (4/26/14)
•  Rick’s Run 5K (4/19/14)
•  Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3/14)
•  Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4/14)
•  New Year’s Eve 5K at the YMCA (12/31/13)
•  Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14/13)
•  Turkey Trot 5K (11/28/13)
•  Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2/13)
•  Oy Vey 5K (10/27/13)
•  Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19/13)
•  Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21/13)
•  The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

Apple Crisp

It’s October, which means that mornings are starting out clear and cool, evenings are getting darker sooner, leaves are changing colors, and we finally closed the windows in our bedroom (but don’t worry, the heat won’t be on for another few weeks!).  You know what else happens in October??  APPLE CRISP SEASON!!!  Yes, it’s officially the best time of year to enjoy warm, cinnamon-y baked apples with a sugary, spice-filled topping and a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream on top.  YUM!!

Apple Crisp

Matt’s dad visits up state New York every fall and inevitably returns with dozens of freshly picked McIntosh apples.  When we were at Matt’s parents’ house last weekend we loaded up a big grocery bag full of apples and then set about finding an apple crisp recipe worthy of the season.

Like many of my favorite recipes, the recipe below is from our trusty cookbook, The New Best Recipe.  I can’t stress enough how fantastic this cookbook is.  It has detailed, easy to understand instructions, long intros about how and why the authors chose certain ingredients or cooking methods, and tons of illustrations.  Not that you really need an illustration for apple crisp, but that feature has definitely come in handy for some of the more complicated recipes that we’ve attempted.

Apple Crisp

With this back story in mind, it should come as no surprise that this recipe for apple crisp turned out perfectly.  The McIntosh apples melted into a flavorful, applesauce-like filling and the firmer Granny Smiths held their shape and gave the crisp a good texture.  There’s just the right amount of tart lemon to offset the sweetness of the apples and the topping was absolutely delectable.  In fact it’s making my mouth water right now just looking at the photos!!! :-)

Apple Crisp (serves 5-6, from The New Best Recipe)

For the topping…
6 tablespoons Flour
1/4 cup Light Brown Sugar, packed
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Salt
5 tablespoons cold, unsalted Butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup coarsely chopped Almonds, Pecans, or Walnuts (I used sliced almonds)

For the filling…
3 McIntosh Apples, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
3 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1/2 teaspoon Grated Zest and 1 1/2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar

Vanilla Ice Cream

Directions:
Start by making your topping.  Combine the flour, sugars, spices and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Blend for a few seconds to mix.  Add in the pieces of butter and pulse the food processor 10 times for 4 seconds each.  Don’t overmix the topping.  Accordingly to the original recipe, your topping will first look like dry sand, then like coarse cornmeal.  Add in the nuts and pulse again 4-5 times for 1 second each.  Refrigerate the topping for at least 15 minutes while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling, combine the apples, zest, lemon juice and sugar in a large bowl and mix well to coat the apples.  Use a spatula to transfer the apple mixture to a 9-inch deep dish pie plate (make sure to scrap the sides of the bowl to get all of the sugar and lemon flavor!). :-)

Sprinkle the chilled topping evenly over the apple mixture.  Bake the crisp in a preheated 375° oven for 40 minutes, then increase the heat to 400° and bake for another 5 minutes until the topping is golden brown.  Remove the crisp from the oven and allow it to cool slightly for 10-15 minutes or as long as you can wait… it will smell GREAT at this point!  Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

1171 Apple Crisp

Martin’s Run 5K

This morning I ran Martin’s Run 5K at my favorite local running spot, Ridley Creek State Park.  I’ll skip the race for a moment go right to the takeaways… check out these goodies!!  Best 5K haul EVER, right???

Prizes from Martin's Run

Yup, you’re seeing that right.  That’s a first place age group medal, a $25 gift certificate to Giant, a $50 gift cert to Buca di Beppo, a snazzy red t-shirt, and, oh yeah… a baseball autographed by Phillies first baseman, Ryan Howard!  The gift certificates were part of the (extremely generous) age group award and the baseball was the lucky result of $5 worth of raffle tickets that I bought on a whim after the race.  Good job, me!

The race itself was pretty awesome as well.  The 46° start temperature was the coldest weather I’ve run in since April and it felt fantastic.  We started on the park’s multi-use trail right at picnic area 17 and followed an out and back course over relatively flat terrain.  There was a downhill right before the turnaround point (and, consequently, an uphill right after the turnaround point!), but it really didn’t feel too hard after the hills at Run A Muck two weeks ago.

Unfortunately I have no idea what my splits were in today’s race.  Runkeeper occasionally likes to torment me by losing its GPS signal and bouncing my path all over the map, resulting in wildly inaccurate splits.  The app worked normally for my warm up and cool down, but decided to go haywire during the actual race, cheerfully reporting that I completed my first mile in a mere 3 minutes, 51 seconds when I had barely made it through the first half mile.  I was able to manually correct the course lines after the race but the timing data was lost.  Oh well!  I had a timer going on my (non-GPS) watch during the race as well so I filled in the few spots where I happened to look at it on the map below.

Martin's Run Runkeeper Stats

Regardless of what my splits were, I’m really happy with how today’s race went.  I finished in 23:54, 3rd place female, 1st place AG, and 13th overall out of 104 participants.  That’s two sub-24 races in a row!!!  :-)

Matt skipped today’s race but it turns out that I wasn’t alone.  I found two friends from my Monday night running group before the race started.  Yay!  I also came across a big, green Philadelphia celebrity after the race and got my picture taken with him…

Me with the Phillie Phanatic

I’ll be taking a break from racing next weekend because Matt and I will be busy partying it up with my brother-in-law and his soon-to-be wife at their wedding!!  Then my next race will be the Fueled Up and Fired Up 5K on October 18th.  Last year’s Fueled Up was the first 5K that I did without walking and I’m looking forward to seeing how much faster I can finish this year!

Miles since last post:  39.2
Days since last post:  7
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.86
2014 TOTAL MILES: 1350.1

Related Posts:
•  Haverford Township Day 5K (9/27/14)
•  Run A Muck 5K-ish Trail Race (9/20/14)
•  Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13/14)
•  Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28/14)
•  Radnor Red Steeplechase 5K (8/17/14)
•  Riddlewood Swim Club 5K (8/3/14)
•  Swarthmore Lions Independence Eve 8K (7/18/14)
•  Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10/14)
•  Media 5 Miler (6/20/14)
•  Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1/14)
•  Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30/14)
•  Run for Victory 5K (5/18/14)
•  Elwyn 5K (5/3/14)
•  St. Tim’s 5K (4/26/14)
•  Rick’s Run 5K (4/19/14)
•  Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3/14)
•  Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4/14)
•  New Year’s Eve 5K at the YMCA (12/31/13)
•  Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14/13)
•  Turkey Trot 5K (11/28/13)
•  Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2/13)
•  Oy Vey 5K (10/27/13)
•  Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19/13)
•  Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21/13)
•  The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

Farewell Summer Flowers, Hello Pumpkin Beer!

Happy October!  I love this time of year.  Cool, crisp mornings, changing leaves, lots of apples and, soon, pumpkin-flavored everything.  Call me crazy, but I like to wait until it really feels like autumn before going on pumpkin overload.  (My one exception is pumpkin beer… Southern Tier Pumking is the best!)

The only thing that I don’t like about fall is that my once-lush summer garden inevitably wilts and dies as the temperatures drop and the days get shorter.  Luckily it appears that my garden hasn’t yet gotten the memo about it being October because everything is still vibrant and perfect as of today.  It’s hard to believe that in a few weeks I’ll be tearing out those zinnias, dahlias, pepper plants and other summer growth as I prep the garden for winter.

I took numerous photos of the flowers in my garden over the summer and thought that October 1st would be the perfect day to share their summer beauty before the garden transitions to fall.  Farewell, summer flowers, and hello, pumpkin beer!!

Is there anything about autumn that you don’t like?
Does the arrival of pumpkin beer make up for it?  :-)
What’s your favorite pumpkin-flavored item at this time of year?