Monthly Archives: December 2012

Behind the name

The original intent of this blog was to talk about this and that, but a fair amount about my health and fitness goals, routines, and things I had learned.  There are several people I follow on twitter, in blogs, and on fitocracy that talk a great deal about nutrition, health, and fitness.  Really, what can I say that more qualified and learned people are not already stating?

That’s what I tell myself.  The real reason I don’t talk about my exercises and health goals is because I am a bit shy about that kind of stuff.  I should have realized this about myself before I named my blog “All The Exercises!”  My lack of fitness posting might give people the idea that I don’t exercise, and that I must have meant to name this blog “All The Food!”  But I do workout!  I post my workouts on fitocracy and have for about a year now.  I really like that I can see my progress over time; be still my nerdy heart, they have graphs!

In preparation for my half and full marathons, I was running 4-5 days a week and would also try to make it to the gym once or twice.  Since the marathon is over, I am still planning to run 3-4 times a week but I really want to up my weight lifting.  I plan to run 5-10 mile runs, but I will be going to the gym in the mornings to lift weights.  While training for the marathon, my lifts went down a bit and frequency dropped a lot.  I also didn’t really follow any plan, so that probably didn’t help my lifting progress.

I am, hopefully, getting a strength training book for Christmas, which will set me on a program for picking up heavy things and putting them back down.  I am going to post some of my exercises on here as a sort of accountability.  Hopefully, getting to put down days that I have great workouts and having to put down days that I make excuses for not working out will get me going to the gym.  I am thinking that once a week or so I’ll post a summary of how my week went, all the good and the bad.  These are probably going to be little quickie posts with a little commentary if something specific happens.  Here’s hoping I can make a habit of it.

My kind of workout!

My kind of workout!


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November Summary and Week 5: Middle Eastern Beef Shawarma

Beef shawarma is like a middle eastern version of a Greek gyro or a Turkish doner kebab.  Traditionally, meat is put on a vertical spit and turned while exposed to a flame.  Thin slices are then cut off the meat as it is cooked and stuff into a bread of some sort and topped with hummus or tahini and vegetables.  The recipe I found is from middle eastern food and it was pretty good.  My only real complaint was that the tahini sauce turned into a paste, rather than staying thin.  Really, it was like refrigerated peanut butter.

As I was making this as part of a dinner with friends, I also made some Beef Samosas from allrecipes, which allowed me to pull out the rest of those chutneys from the other night!  I did substitute mashed cauliflower for mashed potato, which I prefer to use when I can, and baked them rather than deep-frying.  So, where are the pictures?  The problem was that I told all my guests to arrive hungry…

Beef Samosas

Beef Samosas

This was the meat for the Beef Shawarma
This was the meat for the Beef Shawarma
Tahini paste

Tahini paste, way too thick…

Yeah, I didn’t get a chance to take many pictures.  That’s a good sign, right?  I enjoyed it and there wasn’t anything left of the shawarma.  There were three samosas left and some of the filling.  Anyone hungry?

So, November turned out pretty good!  I would definitely make most of the food again and take into account the issues I had.  Crepes?  Oh, yeah!  I would use those in place of some of the more traditional bread products.  Bibimbap?  Work on my egg frying technique and try to find some authentic gochujang and I want this right now!  Beef samosas?  Spiced vegetable and beef deliciousness in baked packets are always welcome in my belly.  Tacos al pastor?  So easy and so good, I could make this any time.  Dahi batata puri?  Make the sauce/chutneys in advance and this is one of the quickest dinners.  I need to find some tamarind!

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November Week 4: Indian Chaat – Dahi batata puri

That’s a lot of unfamiliar words, let’s break it down.

Chaat is a term for savory street food in India.
Dahi is a Hindi word for yogurt.Batata mean potatoes.
Puri is a an unleavened bread that is fried and puffs up like a ball and turns hard.

Traditionally, the top of the puri is broken and a mixture of potatoes and chickpeas are stuffed inside.  The thing is, I don’t have any puri and didn’t quite have the drive to make them in addition to making everything else for the dinner.  The recipe, from allrecipes, called for a couple of ingredients that I had to find recipes for!  I had to make green chutney and sweet and sour chutney.

The thing is, the sweet and sour chutney called for tamarind which I couldn’t find.  So I had to look up a substitute for tamarind, to make sweet and sour chutney, to make the dinner!  I also had to make the Dahi part of the dinner.  I made the two chutneys, the yogurt sauce, and the rest of the dinner and stuffed all the yumminess into a pita.  While I am sure that the puri would have made the dinner even better, this was still pretty awesome.


Some assembly required for this dinner


Pita, mashed potato, chickpeas, and spiced yogurt


Green chutney, sweet and sour chutney, and chopped onion


All the sauces were delicious


Not quite authentic, but still very tasty

I would definitely make this again.  I could make the chutneys and freeze or can them so that it doesn’t take long to make, prepare the vegetables and spiced yogurt then stuff it into a pita.  Oh yeah, this is going into the book for later.

Week 5: Middle Eastern Beef Shawarma

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November Race: Thunder Road Marathon!

That’s right, I ran a marathon.  Why no exclamation point on that one?  Because it was a bit anticlimactic.  I’ve read that this can occur after a big event.  You work towards something for weeks, months, or even years and after you’ve accomplished it you are a bit lost without that goal.  Anyway, here’s how it went.

We drove up to Charlotte, NC on Friday to pick up my packet and go to the expo.  I signed up for the carbo-load dinner, but we ate lunch at around 4 and so decided to skip the dinner.  The expo was pretty good, I ended up buying some gels and chews and a spi belt.  The night before the race, I laid out all the things I would need and packed my power pack, nebulizer, medicine, and put some of  the gels and chews into the belt.

The morning of the race, I got ready quite early and had breakfast in the hotel restaurant.  Do not get the “breakfast buffet” option before running a marathon.  I really cannot stress that enough.  I didn’t think I had eaten all that much, but buffets are so deceptive.  “I’ll need some protein, a spoon of scrambled eggs and maybe a couple of pieces of bacon for the salt.  I really should have some carbs, so a slice of toast would be a good idea.  I need some simple carbs and sugars to start off the race, some fruit would fit that category.  I never really get a chance to eat biscuits and gravy, so maybe one biscuit and a spoon of gravy.  A couple more pieces of fruit, just to cleanse the palate. ”  These thoughts, and the actions they caused (eating all that food), would come back to haunt me.

I got close to the start line and did my nebulizer about 30 minutes before the race started.  I cut it a bit close there, I finished under 10 minutes before the start of the race.  I left my friend in the crowd and went allllll the way to the back of the pack.  Considering I wasn’t going to be setting any records, I didn’t want to get in the way of people who were going to be running faster that I was.  I tried to find the 5 hour pace runner, but no one was there holding the sign.  I just ended up running based on how I felt.

Map of the marathon

Map of the marathon

The race had the marathoners and the half-marathoners starting at the same time, so there were about 3,400 all waiting to cross the starting line.  It took me about three minutes to get from the back of the line to the start line.   There aren’t too many pictures of me during the race, but here are a couple.


Yes, I was cold. It was 40F outside at 7:30am.


Just a few of the 3,400 people running the half and full marathon.

The first five to six miles was awesome.  There were a lot of spectators along the road holding signs.  People were hanging out of their cars and buses cheering us on.  There was a fair amount of weaving in and out around people, some of the runners were on a run/walk/run plan which required some maneuvering.  I was running a little faster than I should have, which is to be expected.  According to the chip timing, I was averaging a 10:30 minute mile by 6.2 miles.  However, I stood in line for a good 5 minutes, at least, for access to a bathroom.  Oh yeah, remember that breakfast?  It almost made a reappearance at around miles six to eight.  At about mile 10, I opened a powerbar gel packet and started sipping on it.  It was like a liquid jolly rancher, a younger me would not have minded it at all, but it was a bit sweet.  I sipped on it for a couple of miles, but threw it away still half full.  I never used one while training, but thought it might be a good idea to try some supplemental energy for the race.  Probably not the best idea, but I didn’t have any ill-effects.  The half-marathoners peeled off at mile 12, and there were only a few people around me after that for the rest of the race.  At 13.1 mi, I was averaging a 11:30 minute mile.   The worst miles for me were 17-20, those were the time when there were almost no spectators, pain was starting to set in, and I was wondering why I was doing this to myself.  My pace at mile 20 was an average of 11:45, slowing down a little bit more.


This is around mile 16, not hating life yet!

Miles 17-18 were when I was cursing a couple of my friends and family for telling everyone I was running a marathon.  “Damn it, I can’t quit because EVERYONE is going to ask me how I did.  I can’t say I didn’t finish cause ‘it was hard.'”  At mile 18, I saw my friend for the last time before he would see me at the finish line.  Those were a lonely eight miles.  The best part of the race was about to come though.

Around mile 20, the route had us going through NoDa.  NoDa, short for North Davidson, is a funky, artsy neighborhood of Charlotte.  The people there were awesome.  They still had a good crowd out for the slow runners and were in good cheer.  They had drawn in chalk on the road and build a wall with a doorway in it for the runners to “break through the wall” while running.  I was quite emotional at this point and they were exactly what I needed way out in the middle of nowhere.  After 20 miles, I had to play games with my mind.  “Just run to the next water stop, you can walk while you drink.”  “You can make it to the next mile marker, it’s just another 10 minutes.”  “It’s just another 5 miles, you’ve run 5 miles dozens of times this year.”  Anything to keep going.

Crossing the finish line.  Chip timing was 5:13:50.

Crossing the finish line. Chip timing was 5:13:50.

Taking the chip off my shoe, swaddled in my foil blanket and wearing the heaviest medal ever.  I could kill a man with this thing!

Taking the chip off my shoe, swaddled in my foil blanket and wearing the heaviest medal ever. I could kill a man with this thing!

I finished in 5:13:50.  The crowd was a bit thin at that point, most runners probably finished in around 4 hours.  I wasn’t last, but I wasn’t far from it.  Here are my stats:

Overall: placed 926/1019 finishers
Female 25-29: placed 63/66 finishers

So, not the best time, but I am not disappointed.  In fact, not bad for a first time marathoner with asthma and anemia.

The rest of the trip involved lying down, going to a Brazilian steakhouse, and sleeping.  Walking the next couple days was painful, but no lasting damage and no blisters.  The marathon was well-organized, with a lot of water stations and provided energy chews (shot bloks) at miles 16 and 20.  I’d do it again, but maybe not next year.  I am considering another marathon, but I may do one closer to home next time.

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November Week 3: Korean Bibimbap

This a case where you might say “You’re doing it wrong!”  Traditional, homemade bibimbap is more like a “cleaning-out-the-fridge” dinner.  You have some rice and cooked meat from a few days ago, some vegetable from lunch yesterday, throw in some pantry staples and a fried egg on top and you have bibimbap!  Well, I am a rebel and bought all the ingredients (I could find) to make this recipe.  As this is a vaguely defined, adaptable dish, finding a “recipe” for it was a challenge.

I used the one from Korean Bapsang with a few modifications.  I couldn’t find gochujang (red pepper paste), , and I didn’t want to fool with mushrooms so those things were left out.  I did try to make a faux red pepper paste sauce using red pepper flakes instead of the gochujang but that didn’t go well, it had no flavor.  I also should have known better on the rice, holy crap that is a lot of rice!  Next time, I’m going to half the rice amount.  The results:

Right to left: rice, seasoned beef, cucumbers, carrots, spinach, bean sprouts, egg, zucchini, and the fake red pepper paste sauce. Not pictured is the kimchi.


The egg really is the best part

Bibimbap all assembled, prior to mixing

It was ok, though the fault was likely mine.  My egg yolk broke in the pan, so the egg was over cooked a bit more than I would have liked.  It was a bit bland, though that was due to the lack of proper red pepper paste (gochujang) sauce.  I had some for lunch the next day and added some sriracha sauce and it was much improved!  Unfortunately I didn’t bring an egg to fry and top the bibimbap for lunch, it would have been so delicious.

Next Week: Indian Chaat – Dahi Batata Puri

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November Week 2: French Crepes

Recently, while visiting a friend in Pennsylvania we stopped for brunch at a creperie.  I ordered the most amazing buckwheat crepe with smoked salmon, dill creme fraiche, and capers.  I like the idea of crepes; a thin not-pancake that you can fill with an assortment of sweet or savory yummies sounds like my kind of breakfast/second breakfast/elevensies/luncheon/afternoon tea/dinner/supper.  I decided to use the recipe from allrecipes but I used butter to coat the pan, rather than oil.  It took a bit to get the thickness right, but I got it down after the first three crepes.  A little ham, a lightly fried egg, and some goat cheese resulted in a very delicious dinner!

Batter cooking on the stove

Some were a bit thicker than others

Crepe with ham, goat cheese, and a fried egg

I later used the leftover crepes as the “bread” to make a couple quick faux-pizzas with some leftover tomato sauce, ham, and mozzarella cheese.  No pictures of those as I wanted to eat them IMMEDIATELY after they came out of the microwave.

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