Monday, October 21, 2013

Firsts and Nexts

Over the past year and a half, I have had the privilege of running some "first races" with some of my nearest and dearests.  First it was a 5k with Amy in Portland, ME...then a 5K with Derek in Franklin, MA....and this month I got to run another couple firsts:  My co-worker/friend Katie ran her first 5k (at one of my favorite races, no less) and a couple friends ran their first half marathons - all in the same weekend!  

I was so excited for Katie and her first race.  After I posted a picture about the Huff N Cuff 5k on Facebook, Katie registered!  Running your first race at the Huff N Cuff definitely sets the bar high.  Truth be told, I am a little biased, since a friend is the race organizer, however it really is an awesome race - great schwag (long-sleeve T and a snazzy pint glass), live music by the talented Brian Richard, oh yeah, and free beer. Yup, I said WACHUSETT beer.  Happy girl, right here.  (I had to let Katie in on a secret - all races don't have as great a post-race party and race schwag as this race.)

Anyway, we had a great time, with exceptional company. And I was super proud of Katie - her first race and a PR no less! 
Katie and I - pre-race! (Yes, blue was the Training Dept. uniform for the day)
The next day was...dun dun dun...Smuttynose.  As beautiful as Saturday was, Sunday turned out to be the complete opposite.  I should have known, it being Smuttynose and all.  As my friend Henry said, "I've run Smuttynose 4-5 times, and it has rained every year I've run."  Thanks for jinxing us again, Henry. (Kidding!)  Alas, I saddled up the next day with CRB and plans to meet up with at least a few of the dozen or so people I knew running the race.  

CRB and I - ready to run!
It was so chilly and windy at the start that I just wanted to get going.  We met up with Jessica, who was running her very first half marathon that day (yay Jess!), and found our corral.  

Now, I had planned on going for a PR that day, and for the first 10 miles, I felt like I could do it.  Then it happened - tight IT band, lower back pain, knee hurt...I just fell apart.  It definitely wasn't my worst half, by a long shot, but it was not the PR I wanted.  Next up - Rock'N'Roll Half in VEGAS!!  Just have to keep myself healthy and well for a few more weeks. 

A couple days before my October Race Extravaganza (a.k.a. October 5-6), I received a packet from the B.A.A.  It was my "participant" certificate and 2013 race record book.  I've said it since April, the B.A.A. has be so classy and amazing in how they have communicated with all involved in the marathon this year.  It was overwhelming and emotional to look at these things...the proof that April 15 did actually happen, and it wasn't just a bad dream.  Emotions from my first marathon came flooding back.  I just sat and stared at it for awhile.

My first marathon
And then, a couple weeks later another package arrived.  My signed copy of 4:09:43 from Hal Higdon.  He had emailed the 75 of us to say it was coming.  When I picked up my number for the 5k, Henry said, "Hey! You're famous!"  I must have had a confused look on my face, because he said, "Hal's book. I read it. You're famous!"  I felt humbled that Hal chose my blog and a small piece of my story to tell.  I felt more touched that Hal, a runner, told the story of us runners on that day.  He felt it. He encapsulated how we felt (at least a small number of us...the true gamut of emotions that day will never be truly understood.)

Wow. So humbled. 

Next, I have my sights set on Las Vegas. I want my PR. :) 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

CRB's Birthday and October Happenings

Again, I've been slacking in my blogging!  Big things have been happening around here - as in CRB turning the big 3-0 this month!  We had a small football/bday/come-see-our-new-place shindig at the end of September, for which I took on my biggest baking challenge to date - I made Jupiter.  Yes, you read that correctly. And yes, I am slightly insane. :)  

It all started when he "liked" a picture on Facebook. The picture was posted on the website, and it originally came from an Aussie baker's blog, Cakecrumbs.  I jokingly commented/questioned if he would like that for his birthday cake, his mom seemed to think it was a cool idea, and so it was.  Challenge accepted!  I had to do a bit of research to find the recipe, and realized that all the measurements were in metrics. Ack!  So, after a bit of online searching and recalculating, I had a plan.  

This girl on Cakecrumbs really is amazing. Her recipe and instructions were spot on.  Here is what I did....

First, make the center core of Jupiter (which is a rock core, scientifically speaking, of course) as a chocolate mud cake.  It was a dense chocolate cake, baked in 1-cup glass prep bowls.
Step 1 - Jupiter's core
Next up was the layer of "liquid, metallic hydrogen".... well, let's just go with a white sponge cake.  
Put the rock/ice core in the white layer - hemisphere pan did the trick for this part.

Last layer, "molecular hydrogen" blue sponge cake works here.
Yes, it is a little well done. The crusty edges come off in the shaping process.

Ultimately, I baked 4 times - center, middle layer, then outer layer twice, since I didn't have two pans big enough for the blue outer layer. I was toast after 5 hours of baking, so I left the assembly and decoration for the next day.

I shaped both hemispheres, trying to get them as round as possible. Using my Grammy's buttercream frosting recipe, I used that as glue between the two halves, did a thin crumb coat, let that dry, then did a thicker smooth coat of icing.
Crumb coat
(please ignore the mess behind the cake! lol!)
After the smooth coat of frosting dried, I set to work on making Jupiter look like, well, Jupiter. I thinned some frosting with almond milk, and added some orange and brown gel icing coloring.  I then painted on the stripes and swirls of the largest planet.  And of course, the Great Spot too!

Ta da!
And what did the Birthday Boy think??
I think he likes it! (Photo credit to CRB's Mom, Judy)

And the inside (Again, thanks Judy for the pictures)
The next weekend, we had the Smuttynose half marathon.  The one where I wanted to PR.  Well, not in the cards for this girl.  I had an awful head cold for about two weeks prior to the race, didn't get much running in, and didn't feel 100% that day.  Oh yeah, and it was raining. Again. Just like last year.  

More to come on my October racing...which involved another few "first races" for a few of my friends. Stay tuned....