Friday, August 13, 2010

A lovely run and Zucchini Brownies

Yesterday morning I talked myself into getting up for my run. After Tuesday's awful run, I was afraid I'd never run again. I bribed myself, saying it'd be only a short 6-mile run, then I'd come home and could even go back to bed if I wanted. It was dark and chilly, and I was tired and unmotivated, but I did it. By the time I'd turned my first corner I was back in Running Heaven. It was such a lovely run and I felt so good, and the sky was beautiful as it turned from night to day. The sunrise wrapped the clouds and the wheat & potato fields in new warmth and soft hues, while the Tetons turned from dark to light blue on the horizon. It couldn't have been prettier. My feet trod softly but swiftly. Since it was a short run, I went faster than usual. But I didn't really feel like I was pushing myself. After I got into the motion, I just let my body go on autopilot, and let my mind do its own thing, and my soul just soaked it all in. All too soon, my six miles were over. Since I'd gotten up early enough, I decided to go a little further.

Next thing I knew I was back up on the fields, repeating the six mile loop. On the second loop, a guy whizzed past me. I'd started slowing down until that happened. He gave me a new burst of energy as I decided to stay right behind him. But he was FAST! I had fun seeing how long I could keep close. It wasn't long. No matter. I kept my pace up because it felt good. Then I saw the guy stop and walk. He'd gone too fast. Just before I caught him, he took off again. I tried reeling him in, but he was too speedy. Oh well. But then again, he stopped to walk and I nearly got him before he started running again. It became a game for me. I still had time to enjoy the morning light, but I also had a runner almost teasing me with his bursts of speed, and it was fun to see how my steady pace compared to his speed-play. I did eventually pass him on one of his walking moments. It wasn't long though before I heard him breathing as he closed in on me. No way, I thought with a grin, This is my game, this is my win. So I bolted. I was almost home anyway and had plenty of energy. My last mile was fast. This time, he didn't pass me. I was disappointed when I heard him finally turn off into a subdivision (I assume he lives there), but thrilled with my speed. I kept it up and ran hard all the way home. I'd told Jeff I'd be home around 7am. That was when I'd planned on doing only 6.25 miles. It was 7:08 a.m., and I'd run 12 1/2 miles, with an average of 7:55 minute miles - and that includes the long steep up-hills and headwinds I had to deal with. For some of my running buddies, this is their average, normal run. A fast run for them is sub-7 minute miles. But for me, I felt like I was flying. It was just the run I needed to get over my disappointing run on Tuesday.
This morning I rode 20 miles. It wasn't all that great. My de-railer got out of whack and wouldn't let me shift into my lowest three gears. I was riding with a group and kept up just fine, but the hills were not fun and it was frustrating to feel so tired. I guess I now need a lovely ride to get over today's mediocre ride. :)

Reading: I read "Hunger Games" on Saturday. It was gruesome, violent, and disturbing. I admit though that it was also a good story, well-written, and believable. I had a hard time putting it down. I took it with me as we drove to Lava Hot Springs to swim. I read all but the last two chapters on the drive, then finished it when we got home after we'd put the kids to bed. So there's my review: it was icky but I couldn't put it down.

Recipes: I made zucchini brownies the other day. Oh, they were yummy. I added a decadent topping, which completely cancelled out any kind of nutritional benefit the zucchini added, but hey - it's still healthy, right?

Zucchini Brownies:
2 Cups Zucchini, peeled and shredded
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. soda
1/2- 1/3 cup cocoa (depending on how chocolatey you like it - more cocoa for a darker chocolate)
1/2 cup oil
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour

Mix together and put into a greased cake pan (9x13). Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes without topping, and 25-30 with topping (the topping seems to make the brownies need longer baking time).

Optional Topping (I just messed around when I threw it together, so the quantities are all approximate):
1/2 cup brown sugar (generously rounded)
3 Tbs. White sugar
3+ Tbs. butter, softened
1/3 + cup flour
1/2 + cup chocolate chips
1/4 + cup coconut (optional)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Make a crumb mixture by combining the sugars, butter, and flour. If it seems too dry to stick together, add more butter. If it is too moist to make crumbs, add more flour & sugar. Sprinkle clumps on top of the brownie batter before baking. Spread chocolate chips, nuts, and coconut on top. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or 20-25 if you like them really gooey.

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