Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Ah, Thanksgiving. Much like Christmas, people bitch and moan about the true message of Thanksgiving becoming lost in the commercial shuffle. "It's not about gorging ourselves on food," they say. "It's about giving thanks for all our blessings."

I don't know about you, but I was very thankful that I could sit down to a feast with my family and friends. I mean, the point is that we are thankful we have food, right? What better way to say it then with pie?

But I digress. This year's Thanksgiving was a quiet one. Since Bill and Amanda were staying in California due to the imminent birth of my nephew (more on that coming up on the blog), and my stepsister and her husband (Marin and Scott) were having their own Thanksgiving, there were only four of us at the main dinner event this year at my Aunt Kim's house. But there is certainly something to be said for a small celebration--in years past we've had around 12 people and while it's nice to catch up with everyone, I tend to like a more intimate holiday. I was certainly thankful that we were all healthy and happy and that we could spend the day with each other.

In preparation for Thanksgiving, I had been watching a lot of stuff on the Food Network--including their Thanksgiving Live show hosted by my favorite celebrity chef, Alton Brown. As part of the show, he demonstrated the proper way to carve a turkey. I'd always thought of carving the turkey as some kind of master skill that took years to develop, like surfing or juggling. Turns out, not so much. Cut along this bone here and wrap around that bone there...and wa la! Perfectly carved turkey!

I thought to myself, this is the year. Carving the turkey was always the realm of the Grandma or the Dad, but not this year! This was MY year! To show that I could actually handle the responsibility without ruining Thanksgiving. So after the turkey had been resting for about 30 minutes (always rest the turkey you guys--or all the juices spill out) I seized the opportunity. Before anyone else made a move toward the bird, I loudly asked, "can I carve the turkey?"

I had expected a bit more of a response. Maybe a raised eyebrow or a questioning look. But no. Everyone just pretty much shrugged and said "sure." Ok, so it wasn't the dramatic moment I had expected. But I was still a little nervous. Still, no time like the present. I slapped that bird on the cutting board, grabbed the carving knife and went at it. And you know what? Alton was right, it worked perfectly! I got the whole breast off in one piece and carved it right onto the platter. It was juicy and tender, just the way my Aunt likes it.

So basically I saved Thanksgiving.

Not really, but I figured this story needed an exciting ending.

 The turkey master!

 After eating with my family and watching the first two hours of The Sound of Music, I headed over to Chris and Kent's place  to catch up with Mom who had celebrated Thanksgiving with them. I was just in time for pie (or should I say MORE pie) and to watch Miracle on 34th Street, one of the best Thanksgiving and Christmas movies ever. By the end of the night, we were all stuffed, lethargic, tired, happy, and thankful for one another. And isn't THAT what Thanksgiving is all about?

 Well, that and pie. Here are my Aunt's pumpkin pie and pumpkin crisp. SO GOOD!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cross that one off the bucket list

I love it when a plan comes together.

A little more than a year ago, I started the Couch to 5K program. In the beginning, I could barely jog for 60 seconds without wanting to die. And that gradually I worked up to 3 minutes, then 5, etc. etc. When I ran my first mile, I felt like I had climbed a mountain, and when I posted about it here on the blog people were so supportive and I thought that maybe I could actually get to that 5K.

Well guess what? This morning, I participated in my first 5K race. And it felt AMAZING.

There have been set backs of course. Remember when I sprained my ankle back in September on vacation? I lost four weeks of training time and I thought for sure I wouldn't be able to hit the 3 miles in time for a race in early November. After a particularly bad run around the middle of October (some days your legs just feel like lead) I posted on Facebook that I didn't think it was going to happen.

But then my ankle healed, people encouraged me, I kept on going, and this morning BAM. 5K race, scratched off the list. It was a race for a local high school charity (actually my high school's rival), and I didn't have any idea what to expect. It was a chilly but clear day, and Mom drove me over to the high school. The last thing I wanted to worry about while running was where I was going to put my keys (confession: usually I just stick my car key in my sports bra).

When we arrived (about 30 minutes before race time) there were people of all ages milling around. People were dressed in turkey costumes, some had their dogs, and there were a lot of kids and moms with strollers. There was also a sound system pumping out some Top 40 songs and the whole mood of the place was people having a fun time.

Number 128, baby!

When I picked up my race packet the day before (which really only contained a bunch of ads), I also got my race number. There's a strip attached to the back of the number that tracks your time and I would assume has some kind of GPS thingy. I pinned on my number and joined in on the fun group warm-up 15 minutes before racetime. We then all lined up under the scaffold starting line and with a "ready, set, GO!" we were off. To the races.

So you probably want to hear about the actual run itself. I had done a practice run on the course the week before and while it went well, the number of hills made me nervous. There weren't a lot of flat stretches on this course, and hills have not been my strong suit. But you know what they say about race day adrenaline? BELIEVE THE HYPE. I made it up a hill longer and steeper than any I had done before, and the downhill parts definitely helped me catch my break. By the 2 mile mark, I couldn't believe how good I felt--when usually I would be reaching the gasping for air stage of the run and forcing myself forward. I think there was a lot of the "I can't believe I'm actually doing this" feeling that really spurred me on.

The volunteers and cops standing at the intersections where the roads were closed also did an awesome job cheering us all on, and I found myself chatting and getting encouragement from other people during the actual race. When I approached the last turn that led to the finish line I sprinted forward, got a bunch of high fives from the bystanders (and Mom) and leaped across the finish line! I was tired sure, but I also felt awesome.

Coming into the finish line!

The plan from here is to do a 5K at least every 6 months so I'll keep up with the training. My time today was almost exactly 42 minutes which is good for me (the best I've ever done was on the treadmill and 40 minutes), but I would love to eventually get myself to 30 minutes. But in 6 months I'm going to shoot for 35 minutes. Instead of sitting on my laurels, I'm just going to keep going! And thanks to everyone for all your amazing support, I couldn't have done it without you!


For some reason, I always want to pronounce this "gooble."

Mom and I are such turkeys.