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!!