Marathon Training Week 10

I got back on track with my running in week 10.  I also changed up my training schedule to try to make it better with my new work schedule.  Rather than running Tuesday/Thursday, I switched it up to Monday/Wednesday.  This also allows me to have a rest day before my long run day (Friday).  This week was a drop-back week for my long run.  I again did a mixed effort run where I did the middle 4 miles of the 10 miler at a quicker pace.  Sadly my “quicker” pace these days is actually not all that fast.  I’m not sure if it is due to the high mileage I’ve been putting in causing me to be more fatigued and slower or if it is age-related (diet-related, weight-related, etc).  I definitely feel okay though know that with the increased days and miles, I’m putting a lot more stress on my body than I have before.  I certainly am quite cognizant of how my body is feeling because I have much experience with injuries in the past.  I definitely do NOT want to hurt myself before this marathon like I did with the last one (that was not a fun experience).   Wednesday’s treadmill run happened after I had dinner and surprisingly wasn’t too bad – considering I did it about 30 minutes after finishing my dinner.  Saturday’s 7 miler also was on the treadmill and I did some long incline walks/runs to try to build some hill mileage into my training.  I probably should be doing more hill type stuff but we’ll see what happens.

Here’s a summary of last week’s running.

( ) = # of miles on my plan

Monday – 4.5 (3)

Wednesday – 4.1 (6)

Friday – 10.03 (10)

Saturday – 7 (8)

Sunday –  4.25 (5)

Weekly Total – 29.88 miles (32)

We’ve not had any rain for a while so things have dried out a bit and all the previous wet weather has caused a lot of plants to blossom early.  It is quite pretty out although my allergies have been driving me nuts as of late.

 

 

My long run also took me through some interesting neighborhoods along with a small park that I like because they have an actual restroom (yes I do plan many runs around where I can make pit stops).

Other fun things that happened this week included making some bread for a work potluck.  One of my coworkers has some health issues so we were all trying to come up with low-fat recipes to bring.  I figured I could just make some bread since I already had some dough sitting in the fridge just waiting for me.  I had made the dough for sandwiches but decided to switch it up and use it for dinner rolls.

I really find it fascinating how yeast works.  I just love watching how bread rises and gets so big!

For this recipe, I did an egg wash on the dough and baked it for ~23 minutes (internal temp hit around 205F).  The small cast iron was a tester for my wife to make sure it tasted okay.

I got her approval and took it to work and it was a big hit.

This past week we also hit up one of the local Korean BBQ places, Blue House Restaurant.  We had been once not too long after they opened last year.  They have an “All-You-Can-Eat” option.  I noticed they added a lot more cuts of meat to their selection and as they started bringing meat out I realized they changed up how they were serving it.  When we first came, each meat order came as a large plate of meat.  This time they only brought out essentially a one to two person portion.  This is smart because it allows us as patrons to try more types of meats rather than getting full on just one type.  I definitely went to town and had the Kalbi, Bulgogi, octopus, pork bulgogi, shrimp, chicken.  It was all very good and we cooked it up right at the table.  I’m always a fan of Korean BBQ.  The banchan (“side dishes”) were only okay at this place and not as plentiful as it is at other Korean establishments we’ve visited.

Since it was St. Patrick’s Day, we had stopped by a local micro brew, Sactown Union Brewery, for a few beers before dinner.  I had a Nitro Stout that they just released on that very day called Big Fella and then the Carpe Noctem (a coffee oatmeal stout).  At Blue House, we shared an OB (Korean beer) and a bottle of their Pomegranate soju.   The soju was a bit too sweet for our tastes.

Overall a pretty good week for both running and eating.

-StewsCat

Marathon Training Week 9

Marathon Training Week 9

Week 9 had some highs and a lot of lows.  As you’ll see below, I ended up only doing 2 runs the entire week.  For my scheduled Tuesday and Thursday runs I can blame work for not getting them in.  Normally I get off work around 6 but due to various circumstances on both those days I had to stay late and was just too tired to get a run in when I got home.  I’m not sweating it too much.

The high of the week was actually hitting the 18 mile distance and feeling somewhat okay afterwards.  I keep telling myself that for the actual race I’ll be doing an additional 8.2 miles so I better feel “okay” after an 18-miler.

Here’s a summary of last week’s running.

( ) = # of miles on my plan

Tuesday – 0.00 (3)

Thursday – 0.00 (8) – in reality, 8 miles was a bit ambitious considering 18 the following day.

Friday – 18 (18)

Saturday – 4.05 (5)

Sunday –  0.00 (4)

Weekly Total – 22.05 miles (37)

My long run was taken along the American River Trail again.  This time I went further and traversed the bridge past William Pond Park.  I ran over this bridge when I did the Run The Parkway Half.  There were tons of Canadian Geese out.  They were just all over the place.

IMG_20170310_094504IMG_20170310_105756

It is amazing how quickly the water level drops after no rain for a few weeks.  Not sure when we’re going to get more rain but I feel like we need some more over the next 1-2 months to feel okay with being out of the drought.

IMG_20170310_094149

My last run I ran past this tree with these bright vibrant yellow flowers.  Now, 2 weeks later the flowers are still there but they appear so much more dull.

IMG_20170310_114129.jpg

So I crossed the bridge and explored some new territory.  I stopped at a bathroom/water fountain area that was cool but a bit isolated.  I pictured a horror movie where I was being chased by some masked villain.  Luckily this was only about a 1/4 mile detour.

IMG_20170310_105909IMG_20170310_111202

Even though my 18 miler was slower than my 16 miler, I think it is good progress.  It is amazing how I slowed so much on the 18 miler even though for the 16 miler, I had put in some tough fast hill miles the night before the 16 miler.  Strange how the body works.

IMG_20170310_130420

Sunday I woke up in a funk and just wasn’t feeling it (it = life).

IMG_20170311_110842.jpg
The dog had the right idea

So rather than get a run in that may have helped my mood, I went out to dinner for some cocktails and pizza.  I had the notion of doing a few night miles after dinner but when I ordered that second cocktail, I knew that running was out of the question.  I also had a baking fail.  I decided to make some bread but was too cocky and didn’t check the temperature of the bread when I finished and of course the center of the loaf wasn’t cooked.  It was just gummy paste.  Fail.  But at least the cocktail and pizza look delish!

IMG_20170312_174339.jpg
Negroni
IMG_20170312_180724.jpg
Three types of pepperoni!!  And prosciutto with arugula

-StewsCat

IMG_20170311_102156.jpg

Pita Bread

Pita Bread

So I’ve definitely struggled with what I can make to help us get through the week for lunches while at work.  In the past I’ve done tortillas, loaf bread, and sandwich bread rolls.  D suggested I could make pitas.  So I looked up some recipes and in true me fashion tweaked it to create my own version of things.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 cup all-purpose flour

I started by adding the yeast and sugar into the water and letting it sit for about 5 minutes.  Then I proceeded to make a poolish with the water/yeast/sugar and whole wheat flour.  I mixed this up thoroughly and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes.

img_20170122_164021

You can see that it is a pretty wet mixture. To the poolish I added the olive oil and the AP flour.  This dough is less water % than many of my breads so came together fairly easily and I hand kneaded for about 5-8 minutes.  I formed the dough into a ball and coated it with olive oil and let it rest for about 1.5 hours.

img_20170122_165459
Before rising

After the dough doubled in size, I punched down the dough and deflated it.  The dough was then divided into 8 balls.

img_20170122_184104

Each ball was then placed on a floured surface and a rolling-pin was used to roll out the dough into about a 6-8″ disc shape.  I had read that there are two different ways to cook pitas.  The oven method creates a great “puff” but the downside is that you don’t get the nice brown spots from the stove top method.  I elected to try both to see which one I felt was better.  I didn’t get the nice separation of the pita as I expected with the stove top method.  I used a cast iron pan for stovetop.  The oven I had at 450 F and a baking sheet (pre-heated).

img_20170122_185038
Rolled out dough

For the pita in the oven, I palmed the dough disc and flipped it onto the baking sheet.  These I cooked for about 3 minutes (sometimes a little more).

The stove top pita stayed flat but I cooked them for about 45 seconds on the first side and 1-2 minutes on the second side.

img_20170122_190046

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of stove top vs oven-baked.

img_20170122_190938
Stove top on the left, oven on the right

Overall they came out decent, though a little dry.  Not too bad and something that may go into the rotation for lunches.

-StewsCat

 

New (to me) pizza dough recipe

New (to me) pizza dough recipe

I tried a new pizza dough recipe this past weekend – mostly due to my lack of planning.  I oftentimes start putting the dough together the night before to allow the yeast to essentially knead the dough with a long fermentation.  However I forgot to do this so woke up on Sunday realizing I needed a quicker recipe.  I have done my usual same-day bread recipe for pizza dough but was wondering if there was another option.  After some google searching, I settled on a recipe that sounded fairly simple yet good.  This recipe is adapted from Roberta’s (a well-known pizzeria in Brooklyn, NY).  I didn’t have any 00 flour so just used AP flour for the entire recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 306 g AP flour
  • 8 g fine sea salt
  • 2 g active dry yeast
  • 4 g olive oil
  • 200 g warm tap water

I combined the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.  In my measuring cup, I combined the warm water, olive oil and dry yeast.  I allowed the yeast to bloom for a few minutes before mixing it with the flour/salt mixture.  I kneaded/mixed the dough in the bowl for 3 minutes.

img_20170108_142829

I then covered the bowl with a towel and let it sit for 15 minutes.

img_20170108_144451

I proceeded to knead the dough again for 3 minutes within the bowl.  I was a bit surprised how much the dough had formed up into a cohesive ball.

img_20170108_144654

img_20170108_144700

img_20170108_144940

Earlier in the day I had made some pasta so had a large sheet of parchment paper on the counter that was floured.

So I just took the dough and placed it on the parchment paper, divided the dough in half, and formed two balls.

img_20170108_145320

I let the dough rest under a towel (I used my water bottle sprayer to mist the top to maintain moisture) for about 3 hours.   The dough continued to rise.

img_20170108_174749
After 3 hours of rest

I preheated my oven to 545F.  I took one ball of dough and on a well-floured countertop flattened the dough out into a pizza shape.  I then topped it with marinara, mozzarella, mushrooms, zucchini.

img_20170108_174930

img_20170108_175240

About 1-2 minutes before the pizza was done, I removed it and topped it with some prosciutto.

Et voilà

img_20170108_180424

img_20170108_182000

The above recipe makes 2 good-sized pizzas.  I did like this recipe because the dough seemed sturdier than ones I’ve made in the past.  It was easy to create the pizza shape and didn’t rip/tear like some of the ones I’ve created.  Overall I thought the taste was decent.

-StewsCat

No knead sandwich bread

Last week for our work potluck I decided to bring bread since it was easy for me to do and something homemade.  I had already done a trial run on some honey wheat dinner rolls but also wanted a backup.  On my fb feed I saw a posting from King Arthur about how 2016 was the year of no-knead bread.  Now originally when I started my baking endeavors, I started with the no-knead variety just due to the ease of it.  The following link came up the weekend before the potluck.  I really like that you can make this ahead of time and toss it in the fridge for up to 7 days without doing any additional work.  My scale also was on the fritz – which I figured out appears to be due to low battery.

Ingredients:

  • 3.5 cups AP flour
  • 1.5 cup water
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • ~2.2 tsp active dry yeast

Basically I mixed up all the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  After covering it with some saran wrap, I let it sit out on the counter for about 2 hours before putting it into the fridge.

img_20161218_201018
After mixing, before letting it sit for 2 hours on counter
img_20161218_222039
After 2 hours on counter

I made up this mixture on Sunday and pulled it out of the fridge on Tuesday evening to make for a Wednesday lunch potluck.  I like how simple the recipe is because after removing it from the fridge, I layed the dough out on my well floured countertop and shaped the dough (no kneading, no stretch and fold, no additional manipulations).  Since my scale was not working, I eyeballed the size of each roll.

img_20161220_205746

Each roll was dusted with some flour.  I covered the rolls and let it sit at room temperature for about 1-1.5 hours to allow it to rise/proof.  After this time, I checked the roll by depressing a finger into the dough.  The dough sprung back about halfway.  During the proofing, I preheated the oven to 450 F.  The recipe calls for using a pan in the bottom of the oven to create steam.  Rather than fussing with this and tossing in water into a hot oven, I elected to just use my water bottle sprayer.

Once the dough was ready, I took a knife and made some slash marks on top of each roll.  I placed the parchment lined cookie sheet of dough into the oven and sprayed the inside with 5-6 spritzes of water before closing the oven door.  Initially I let the bread bake for 10 minutes, then opened the door and quickly spritzed some more water into it.  I then let it bake for an additional ~13-15 minutes.

img_20161220_225359

As you can see, there were some creases that opened up on the sides of the dough.  This was most likely due to my not tightly rolling the dough balls into a cohesive ball.  Nevertheless I think it gave them a more homemade feel.  My coworkers raved and said the bread rolls were good – I didn’t end up getting to try one.

I also attempted to re-create the honey wheat rolls.  However, as described above my scale wasn’t working properly, I had to eyeball the ingredients with volume (measuring cups) rather than weight.  I also tweaked it slightly and so when I had my wife pull it out and start the stretch and fold process (as I had previously done: here), the dough did not come together like I had hoped.  It remained a very moist gloopy mess that you could not form.  In an attempt to salvage it, I put the wet dough into my loaf pan to see if it would at least attempt a rise.  Luckily the dough actually did rise somewhat (maybe 1 inch in the pan) and I tossed it into the oven and hoped for the best.  Overall it didn’t get the oven spring that you’d normally see but it baked well and actually had decent crumb.  Wasn’t my best effort but was still good.

img_20161220_225404

I’m excited to see what I will continue to try doing in 2017!

-StewsCat