Saturday, January 26, 2008

Midnight Cupcakes

Nothing really makes me hungry like a long run, particularly in the cold, and if I take a nap after I run, as I did today, I usually wake up starving. First I crave salt, so I hit the pretzels or corn chips (check), then I need water to hydrate (check), and then I crave baked goods like there is no tomorrow, and given that it's usually about 11:00/midnight when these ridiculous cravings attack, and I'm honestly hungry, not just munchy, I often end up baking something for myself to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Tonight's winner: Buttermilk Cupcakes and Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting. The best part of course is sampling the batter along the way (OMG YUM!!), and this time I made my own buttermilk for the first time (do people actually keep buttermilk around anyway?). I love anything with cream cheese frosting and lemon...and I added a hint of almond to the batter and it was oh so good.

And then of course, the additional perks of getting to wear my Marimekko apron and the therapeutic release of using small electronic kitchen appliances just add to the fun. I did discover that I dislike cooking out of cookbooks that don't have the nutritional content listed...I'm a bit skeptical. I used the first (and only) cookbook my husband ever owned, "How to Cook Everything." I always sort of mocked it...but since my new Cooking Light cookbook is lost somewhere in the was the best option. And I have to say I was quite impressed. I'm always a little worried when I improvise with recipes (Katie E. knows exactly why such concern should arise) like not sifting my cake flour (the horror!), using salted butter (no!) instead of unsalted...and doing a mediocre low speed whip job because my $9 hand mixer from Menard's has only 10 speeds. High, Extra High, Super Extra High, and Other Really Really Ridiculously High Speeds I have yet to use because it covers me and my kitchen with flying bits of batter.

And then sadly, there's one in every batch. The casualty. The cupcake martyr. It was a very sad moment for this little guy, but then of course Pinot realized she DID actually like lemon cream cheese frosting and all was right with the world and our floor was a bit cleaner.

Voila!! Delicious. I'll definately enjoy my swim tomorrow!!!

My First Half Marathon

Today I ran in my first half marathon. The Securian Frozen Half Marathon, part of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival. When I think about it I suppose it is a bit crazy that I went from a handful of 5k and 10K races straight to doing two full marathons in a year, never doing anything in- between. In my mind I always figured if I can ski for hours, I could do a marathon, really not acknowledging that training for a marathon and running one is nothing like skiing 35 kilometers. As I always say, "there is NO glide in running." But, if I had done a half marathon first, I don't think I would have been as delighted as I was this morning to discover how much I liked running a mere 13.1 miles! I think I can safely say now that 13 miles seemed short, my legs felt so light, I was hardly sore, and was just giddy with how fun it was. I ran with my friend Linda and helped her take 10 minutes off her previous time which was awesome! I know I can run faster if I'm running for just me, so it will be interesting to see how much I like the distance it after I run one that way. But for now, I'm totally sold on them. Granted I still loved running the two full marathons I've done, and I'm already looking forward to the Twin Cities Marathon in October, that is if I can hold out and not sign up for Grandma's Marathon in June. (It's so tempting!!) But it is exciting and a bit more relaxing to envision a spring and summer of training for shorter races and seeing how well I can do. And not having to get up quite so early to get my runs in on Saturday mornings. I can run faster, train a bit faster, and not have to deal with the same kind of physical impact and wear and tear on my body.

We took a photo (above) of the Salubrians at the race (from L to R, Linda, Melissa (Supermel), Caren, Bill, and Kerstin (nordicski).

The race today was just plain fun. After a ridiculous 45 minutes of changing my clothes every 5 minutes, because it was just too warm, or was it too cold?- I couldn't figure out what to wear. Was there wind? I think I felt wind! We finally lined up outside and it was chilly, but it was the perfect kind of chilly you want to feel before running or a ski race. It was a fun crowd...only a motley crew would get up early on a Wintery morning and come out to run in Minnesota, especially given that last year the temperature hovered around freezing. But today it was 18 degrees!!! And it felt like 8 degrees!! It was so hot...we could hardly cope!! It's crazy to think that 48 hours ago it was -15 in cities! At the race, there were in fact four people I saw running in shorts and one man in a singlet with bare arms. I'm not that least not yet.
The first 5 miles went by so fast, mainly because it was an out and back race so my friend Linda and I were amused watching the winners zoom by us on their way in (we first saw them after we'd been running only 45 minutes!!!) and then we started looking for our speedier friends to come by. Somewhere in there my friend Sage's partner Barb appeared with a big grin and a sign with my name on it!! "Go Kerstin"....and in small print at the bottom, "pronounced with a Norwegian Accent." It was awesome. I had a fan!! How cool was that. It was a high efficiency sign, as Sage's Go Sage (in a Ukrainian or Russian accent??) was on the other side. Funnily enough, another cheerer that was right next to Barb kept calling me Sage the whole rest of the race which made me smile. But I was fine with that because Sage is MUCH easier to pronounce then my name. Had I corrected him it would have probably turned into a 15 minute conversation about Swedish linguistics and grammar.
The mile before the turn around did seem to be deceptively long, but Linda said we would likely hear the turn around before we saw it and she was right. We saw a friend from our running group, Mary, (who unfortunately just broke her ankle on a run) at the turn around, had a few hugs and kept going. We kept up our run/walk, 4:1 method the whole time and it felt so great. I love that system. I noticed on the miles where we skipped the walk for whatever reason my body would nag me and say, Hey! You're supposed to walk a bit. On the way back things were quieter, the crowd was thinning out more. There was a woman in purple running in Minnie Mouse Ears with a sign on her back that said "It's Just Like Florida..." so that entertained us for a while. I wondered if she had just run Disney and was happy about the smaller crowd. I did get a bit colder on the way back and we started to slow down a bit, but we kept going. We added a bit more walking in and it felt good to stretch out. We kept going and were nearing downtown Saint Paul again. I could tell Linda was getting a wee bit tired because she wasn't smiling anymore!! But, she was so right when she said "you can do anything for 4 minutes!." We kept going and we could see the turn back up to the finish line. That hill was steep! We walked the hill and then ran through the finish, very happy to be done. 2:23:20 was my time and I was very happy with that. Linda had a fabulous PR of 10 minutes!! I was worried I'd run too fast for her...but I think she'll run with me again!! :)

We cheered a bit more then got some food. We got nifty little mugs with snowflakes on them (and people know I LOVE snowflakes)and they came with little spoons attached to the handle so you could stir your cocoa. It will be oh so cute on my desk at work. Melissa, Sage and I went out for breakfast after which was great. Now I have to find another half marathon to do soon....I don't think I can wait until the SLC Half in April!!

I also have to post these next photos. That's Chris (the husband), Erin (the sister, who ran Grandma's with me and is running SLC Half with me), and Me skiing at the golf course near my house. I think we're laughing because Sage had just fallen down trying to take our photo!

And the next photo is our crazy cat Pinot with her crazy eyes playing the tail game which she plays for hours every evening. That darn tail is just always hovering just out of reach!!

Friday, December 7, 2007

New Do

I did it. I cut all my hair off. It was SO freeing. I have been grinning ever since and feel so great. Startingly, I even managed to turn a few heads at the mall!! (imagine my surprise, I don't thing that has ever happened before, or at least I never noticed...I finally ducked into the bathroom to see if my fly was down or something was stuck to my shirt....)

Here's the proof! Scroll down for a "before" photo at my friend's brother's wedding. Long and boring. Now I have fun hair!!!!!!!!
This is the haircut I always wanted but didn't
know it. I am armed with my Rough Paste and Volumizing it's going to be a fun weekend. I can make it sleep or tousled or messy or even stick straight up in all directions! It's great!

And hey, maybe I'll even lose a 1/4 lb more at my weigh in on Tuesday!...or at least a few ounces!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Christmas all around

Well, I have officially gotten into the Christmas season. My first christmas tree is up in our house and I love it and all it's scandinavian splendor. We already probably have enough ornaments to outfit two trees! We also go the train set up around the tree, but we are short a few sets of tracks to make a full circle...but we can go back and forth and the cat loves it. We also gave our skiers a place of honor. Nevermind that half of one of the string of lights at the bottom has already stopped working, I still love the feeling the tree gives to the house and how it looks through the window when you drive up the driveway.

I also got together with some friends and make christmas cookies and frosted and decorated them. It was the most fun I'd had in a long time!! I think I could be a professional cookie baker if I could avoid eating the bits!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Frosty, the Runner

Well, I did it. I finally got over my I don't want to run outside in the winter weather because it's cold and I'm not ready for winter blues and had my first great cold weather run. I ran a beautiful 7 miles down the Gateway trail. Getting out the door was another story. I dragged out my ski bags which hold most of my cold weather running/skiing gear and basically made a big running clothing heap in the basement and still never found my favorite Craft long underwear top (but had the bottoms), nor my favorite running/skiing jacket (just plain gone), but I did rediscover my favorite blue snowflake hat (the one my sister always tries to steal!) and my favorite aqua running turtle neck and fleece lined running tights, smartwool socks, Craft sports bra liner, and super awesome running glove/mitten combos. Those gloves have to be the best thing I ever bought.

I was out early enough noone else was braving the weather yet and I was surrounded for the most part by trees on the trail so the wind was minimal. However, the wind was pretty nippy on my way out, but on the way back it was almost non existant even though I could see the snow blowing sideways. I did wish I had my face mask in the end....but I survived unscathed. In the end my hat was frozen to my forehead, my eyelashes had turned into icicles, and I had frost forming on my chin and cheeks. Here's proof of my frosty face!

Along the way I discovered a few things. First, my Garmin does not like to work properly in cold weather. I ended up stuffing it up my sleeve to keep it warm and working. I think I'll create a Garmin cozy for it. I also discovered that I really like running in a few fresh inches of snow because it cushions every step I take. Nothing hurt at all or even get twingy on my run. I felt like I was running on cusions and pillows the whole way and when I had to run under the bridges and overpases where the snow couldn't reach the ashpalt was cold and hard and jolting.

All in all, it was a great starter winter run. I'm happy I finally began my half marathon training. January 26th will be here before I know it, and next comes SLC in April. I also discovered that if you are covered in icicles and frost that you start melting instantly and leave little puddles of water around the house. But Pinot loved drinking the drips.
DH and I also picked up our first marital christmas tree! I am so excited. I have been collecting scandinavian christmas ornaments and decorations my whole life and I am finally going to have my own Swedish tree like my family had growing up. We also have our first train set from my parents to set up around the base of our tree, another family tradition. We don't have the whole village yet, but that will come in time. The christmas tree almost fit inside my ski box...but not quite, just about a foot too long! We thought the car looked very festive. We braved the winter storm we got today and managed to get to Minneapolis and back, not ending up in a ditch, unlike many of our other road patrons. Why people who own large cars need to emphasize their apparent importance and idiocy by driving 60 mph during the first snow storm of the year befor the plows have cleared the freeways while the rest of us are driving 30-45 I will never understand.

And, in keeping with Christmas cheer, DH had a great time snow blowing our 'new and improved' driveay that he worked so hard to smooth out. (The old pieces of the middle of our driveway are currently in a huge pile in the garage. Now that the snow is here we'll have to be more aggressive at slowly dumping them in dumpsters so we can park in the garage!) We inherited a gently used snow blower from a friend, as well as a leaf blower. As the proud new owners of a lawnmower, snowblower, and a leaf blower...we're ready for just about anything. Here it is! (Mom, this photo's for you!-don't mind the closed eyes)

As for the weight loss, I officially re-joined weight watchers this past week to lose the 11 lbs I've gained. So, I'm on the right track. It's been a LONG time since I religiously counted points so it's been a bit of an adjustment, but we'll see how I did on Tuesday. I'm sort of pretending I'm joining for the first time and it's been about 3 years since I made it's sort of is. I'm just happy to be moving in the right direction.

One more photo...DH learned how to use the timer function on my camera. So mom, you can see where in the house our tree is!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Chris and I spent a great weekend in Portland, Oregon following my marathon. The occaision was my best childhood friend, Leah's brother's wedding. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed seeing friends and celebrating. We stayed at the funky Jupiter Hotel which had chalkboards as doors which we enjoyed writing on. My favorite place was the Japanese Gardens where Chris and I and all the other spectators fought with amateur photogaphers to get the elusive photo of the bridge and trees with noone gawking on it. We amazingly lucked out. I love this photo!!

The wedding was fun. This is my best childhood friend and her fiance Val (or Prince Valiant as we call him in Minnesota!) I hadn't seen my friend in 15 months, so we had a blast together. I can't wait for her wedding next July! Here's one of us together.

We stayed at the Jupiter hotel where our door was a giant chalkboard, so we were able to write fun quotes on the door each day. We also had a huge green fuzzy pillow on our bed that looked like a giant fluffy pickle.

We also lucked out in that our hotel was right next to the best restaurant in Portland, the Douglas Fir. They have some of the best food ever. Now, I'm not a french toast conisseaur, but my sister is. And, I almost never order french toast, but this was by far the best french toast I have ever had. Chris and I had a moment for my sister when this french toast arrived, because we realized if we had been on a french toast quest the grail had arrived. And, this french toast was made out of croissants. Nuf said. It rocked. And, I ate all of it.

Marathon #2


I woke up at 6am and it was already 70 degrees. There was NO breeze in the sky. I couldn’t believe it. Just a few days ago they were predicting thunderstorms all day! I ate my breakast and thanked my sleepy husband as he dropped me off at the shuttle parking lot. I could feel the energy and I was excited and nervous. I was doing this again!

I met up with my running team at the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis and we all took photos and wrote our names on our arms. I lined up at the 5:00 mark with my friend Linda and we waited. The gun went off and we started walking about 6 minutes later. Prior to the start several people in my group said they were going to just run the first 2 miles or maybe just try walking the water stops. I was tempted, but I knew I wasjust going to do what I’d always done, run 4 minutes and walk 1 minute. My teammates passed me and one of them said.."Go Kerstin" (pronouning my name correctly!!) and laughing said "That's the only time today it will be prounounced correctly!!!" And she was right (aside from when I passed my family and friends that is....). After about 5 minutes my left shin started burning and throbbing. I started walking and massaging it thinking this is not good!! People kept telling me to keep running, thinking I was already tired... but my leg was killing me. I tried to calm myself down, and tried to run in out, but it still hurt. This was not the marathon start I was hoping for!!! I just kept moving, trying to breath and relax. Only at about mile 3 did I finally realize I couldn’t feel it anymore-thankfully!

But, I kept going. I was super hot and drenched with sweat almost instantly. Thinking, maybe not carrying my own water was not a good idea, but it was so nice to not have the weight of the water on my waist. The first few water stops were totally chaotic. The volunteers were not prepared and they didn’t have any cups full of water or PowerAde and they were running out of water. I didn’t understand why all the water and PowerAde was on one side of the street, so all the runners were crowded in, stacked up 5-6 people waiting, pushing for fluids. It was really frustrating and I was tempted to just skip them, but I knew it was too hot to do that. I had to get a little aggressive to get my water, but I just did what I had to do. Some of the volunteers were so overwhelmed and knocking cups over trying to pour the water so fast. I almost wanted to hop around the water table and help! By mile 6 I was already feeling that Grandma’s marathon was much better run and organized. The next two water stops were equally as chaotic and frustrating, many people were skipping them. I didn't understand why they didn't have water stations on both sides of the street, especially in the early section of the race until the runners had thinned out.

I was feeling good, but started to tire early, around mile 7-8, I wasn’t sure why. My left hamstring and hip was so tight from falling down the stairs the previous week due to my cute cat Pinot, I was hoping it would stay loose longer, but no such luck. I may have started out a bit fast, but my Garmin said I was right on target, but I felt fatigued as if I was going faster. By mile 10 I was feeling pretty nauseous, perhaps the GU and all the fluids I was taking because it was so hot. This had only happened once before, and that was a really hot training run. The nausea lasted about 2 hours, until about mile 20. That was a really lone time to not feel so hot! But I just kept moving. Thinking about the next mile marker. I had to make two bio breaks which was new for me. I kept running, looking for a short bathroom line but they were all really long. Still hoping to get under 5 hours I followed another runner into the yard of a house undergoing remodeling that had a porta potty on the side lawn. Luckily it was open. No line there!! The second time I had to wait about 6 minutes to go, but there is nothing worse then running when you have to go!

I kept looking for my family and friends who I thought would be out there, and that really kept me going. I didn’t see any of them until about mile 20-21…and I was so glad they were there. They gave me energy. I kissed my husband and hugged my sister and my friend Katie ran along side me for a bit. I ran up onto the Lake street bridge, finally making the turn into Saint Paul. I was hoping to get a second wind, waiting for it to come, but it didn't. Not this time. I was disappointed, but I finally had to let the 5 hour pacer go, and adjusted my time expectations. It took me a few minutes to mentally get in a positive zone again. I kept up my walk/run cycle the whole time and walked all the water stops. I could definitely tell the gradual hills were taking a toll on my legs. A women I skied with in college ran with me a bit and my super fast coworker saw me on Summit and ran with me a bit, that really helped. (Thanks Sage!!)

Once I got to Summit avenue about 22 miles…I was in survival mode, but still having fun. I was so glad people were out with their hoses and oranges and bananas. I wished I had salt tablets with me. Around mile 22 my fingers started to swell, turned white around the knuckles, and I knew that wasn’t a good sign and I started drinking everything I could. In the past, when that has happened to me I know that’s the first signs of heat stress and dehydration in me. I was able to stop the swelling, but I could barely bend my fingers, and my wedding rings were stuck on! I learned never to run in my rings again!! I kept going, up the gradual hill of Summit Ave. Those 3-4 miles of gradual uphill were sure a killer especially after you’ve run 20 miles!

I kept up my running and walking, saying I could do anything for 4 minutes. I thought, I’ll just keep running when I have 2 miles to go, but couldn’t do it. I thought I’ll keep running until I have 1 mile to go…but even that was to hard. As soon as I saw the hill arc down and I could see the state capitol and a guy said only 1/3 mile to go…I kept running. I sure hoped he was right, I didn’t think I could do much more!! And then I could see the finish line. I passed my coach (and Melissa-Supermel who was right next to her), passed my in-laws, and just kept pushing to the finish line. I crossed it and staggered on in. Exhausted, but knowing I had given it my all. My chip time as 5:02:18. and although I had wanted to go under 5 hours I was proud to have finished! I was hoping to be able to go faster given that Grandma’s was also really hot and humid, but that’s ok. Now I have a Twin Cities time to beat next year!

I was also really disappointed in the food after…there was no source of protein at all and I was too tired to peel an orange. But, the chicken/veggie broth was probably a sodium lifesaver!! I wish they would give runners little food bags because I kept dropping my food and water on the ground because I was so tired I couldn’t’ hold it all and eat and drink and the same time and didn’t want to stop moving. I finally used my space blanket as a sort of makeshift carrying vessel!! I sat on the grass, watching people come in and then we headed to our favorite diner for some much needed lunch. I also think I learned I can’t really indulge like I want to after a marathon, the burger and milkshake I ate also made be very nauseous. So…I had a great time the second time around, and learned a lot too. I am proud I did it and can’t wait for my next marathon.

It's been 10 days post marathon and I still like them. I must be crazy!!! I'm about ready to start back into my regular workout regimen. I am so proud of myself for doing it again, but now I am going to focus on losing the 10 lbs I've gained in training for the past 2 marathons. I'll definately feel much more like myself when I'm back to my goal. I'm looking forwar to cooler weather, snow and winter sports!