Best Pie Ever (Strawberry-Rhubarb Version)

The best thing about our crazy non-winter here (it never got really cold enough to wear my really excellent new winter jacket more than twice, it didn’t snow at all, and it basically rained all winter with temperatures just above freezing) is that local strawberries have already started showing up at the market. That means that rhubarb season and strawberry season are going to be coincident for longer than the usual scant week of overlap. And that means that I’ve attempted to make strawberry-rhubarb pie for the first time ever.

Look at my pie! Now go make your own!

Look at my pie! Now go make your own!

A side note

There is no German word for pie. If you look it up in the dictionary, you find “die Pie” or possibly ” gedeckter Obstkuchen” which translates as covered-up fruitcake which is…not the same thing at all. I posit that the lack of pie in both their vocabulary and their lives is one reason why Germans have the reputation for being so dour and humorless.

An additional side note

Germans are not humorless. We just don’t get their sense of humor most of the time. When we think they’re angry and yelling at each other, they are actually telling jokes, except that you have to have read both Nietzsche and Schopenhauer in order to appreciate them.

On Pie Crust

In the US, I generally bought the Pillsbury frozen pie crusts after one or two disastrous experiments with Crisco-based crusts that never got flaky or ever tasted any good at all. But the other day, I really wanted to make a quiche (I’ll post a recipe for that later in the week or early next week.) and couldn’t just go to the store for a pie crust (see above paragraph regarding Germans and the embarrassing lack of pie in their lives.) so I had to make my own. After a good long perusal of various recipes on the internet, I came to the stunning realization that I didn’t need to use shortening. I could just use butter for the whole damn thing (Note that I am not the only one to have ever had this revelation, when I was searching for strawberry-rhubarb recipes, I discovered that Smitten Kitchen had the exact same thought, only six years ago! ) And the quiche came out tasty and amazing! And the crust was both tasty and flaky. And caused the Wife to say I make the best quiche ever, or at least very good quiche. Regardless, I no longer fear the pie crust, rather I embrace it in all its flaky, buttery goodness. And I possibly did the dance of joy for a few minutes over my Mad Baking Skilz!

On to the pie.

It seems that every strawberry-rhubarb pie recipe on the internet comes from this one which came from a 1997 issue of Bon Appetit (I don’t know where they got it from, but really there are only so many ways to combine strawberries, rhubarb, and sugar in a pie crust) My version is a slightly tweaked version of the slightly tweaked version that Smitten Kitchen posted in 2010.

Ingredients:

  • 1 double crust pie dough, refrigerated (see below for crust recipe)
  • 750 grams (1.5 pounds) fresh rhubarb
  • 500 grams (1 pound) fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten and blended with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)
Pre baking, artfully crimped edges, decorative slits, and everything

Pre baking, artfully crimped edges, decorative slits, and everything

Preparation

  1. At least several hours before you want to make the pie, make the dough and store it in the refrigerator
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F or 180°C (with Umluft – if you don’t know what that is, you don’t have it; otherwise 200°C)
  3. Prepare the rhubarb – clean and rinse it, cut off the leafy bits and the wider bit at the other end. Cut it into 1.5 cm (1/2 inch or so – yes, I know the conversion is inexact. Cooking is an inexact process.) pieces. No need to peel according to Rhubarb Central (for all your Rhubarb needs)
  4. Prepare the strawberries – wash, rinse, hull and cut into pleasing sized pieces that seem like the right size for a pie. If they’re about the same size as the rhubarb pieces, that’s probably about right.
  5. Roll out 1/2 of the pie dough (one of the refrigerated disks) to a 12″ circle and put in 9″ pie plate (I use the fold into quarters method to get it into the pie plate.
  6. Mix rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and cornstarch together in a bowl and pour it into the pie plate.
  7. Roll out the other disk of pie crust, trim it to 11″ and cut decorative slits in it.
  8. Place it over the tasty mess of berries in the pie plate. Then fold both dough crusts under and “decoratively crimp” the edges together. You’re on your own there. Pie dough crimping is a giant sucking black hole of internet advice, videos, and tutorials. Do the best you can or spend all of Thursday inadvertently watching pie-making videos.
  9. Optional: Take the leftover dough, roll it out and make whimsical decorative accents using cookie cutters or whatever is handy. Glue your artistic masterpieces to the pie dough with the egg yolk glaze/glue.
  10. Brush the glaze over pie dough.
  11. Put the pie on a cookie sheet or other solid surface (the recipe I used didn’t say why. I assume to prevent inadvertent spill-over from reaching the bottom of the oven.)
  12. Bake it for about 20 minutes
  13. TURN DOWN the oven temperature to 350°F (175°C and turn off Umluft) and cook an additional 20 to 30 minutes until pie is golden brown and juices are visibly bubbling.
  14. Remove pie from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Seriously, let it cool. Then the fruit mixture will have time to set properly and the pie won’t be runny. We solved the problem by making it the night before and eating it for breakfast.

Just after baking, as we waited for it to cool enough to eat.

Just after baking, as we waited for it to cool enough to eat.

What to do with the constructed, cooked, and cooled pie:

Serve with whipped cream. Possibly for breakfast. Or dinner. I am assuming that you know how to make or buy whipped cream or can use the internet to figure it out. We flavored ours with a bit of vanilla and that was a perfect complement to the pie. This pie is not too sweet and really, it’s better that way, the tastes of the strawberries and the rhubarb really come through.

Breakfast Pie

Pie, it’s what’s for breakfast

My pie dough:

Ingredients for two crust pie:

  • 2 ¼ cups (280 grams) whole wheat flour (you can use white flour here, I just like the taste of the whole wheat and how well it pairs with the strawberry and rhubarb)
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) white flour + additional white flour for surfaces
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks (225 g) very cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup ice water + 1/4 cup additional ice water

Method:

  1. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl
  2. Cut the cold butter into cubes, add it to the dry ingredients and use a pastry blender to blend it to the “pea sized crumble” stage. Don’t over mix. And yes, a pastry blender is a little thing you use in your hand, you don’t need the stand mixer for this at all.
  3. Add 1/2 cup ice cold water and mix with a rubber spatula until things come together. Add up to ¼ cup additional water as necessary just to get the dough to stick together (add by teaspoonful)
  4. Divide dough in half, cover with plastic wrap and shape into two disks.
  5. Put the dough disks in the refrigerator for no less than 2 hours.
  6. If you’ve never done this before and need pictures to help you out, go here.
A close-up of our whimsical decorative dough cut-outs. Yes, they're cats. No, they are not evenly spaced around the edges and no, they don't all face the same direction. Cats, remember?

A close-up of our whimsical decorative dough cut-outs. Yes, they’re cats. No, they are not evenly spaced around the edges and no, they don’t all face the same direction. Cats, remember?

And that’s it. Best pie I ever made.

And if you’re wondering…

When this thing is going to be a triathlon blog again, well I’m getting on the road bike on Friday for the first time since October and tonight I am going to swim with my little Wednesday night group for the first time in over a month. Now I’ve got to stop nattering on the blog so that I can get my run in today before swim group meets. Also, I just got my MIO Link in the mail and I can now measure my heart rate without feeling like I am suffocating (claustrophobia reaction to the usual chest heart rate strap). It’s very pretty and seems to function just fine and I will write more about it when I’ve had more than one run while using it.

And also, no, I had absolutely no idea who Smitten Kitchen was until this week when I needed a good pie recipe. But giving credit where it is due is a good habit to get into. Also, she has good pie crust tutorials.

Happy Pie-ing!

Obligatory cat pictures

As I was setting up a shot of the pie with some slices taken out just to show how nice and not-runny the filling is, Captain Dukie photobombed me.

As I was setting up a shot of the pie with some slices taken out just to show how nice and not-runny the filling is, Captain Dukie photobombed me.

Then so did Devil-kitty. I then gave up on getting this shot the way I wanted it, preferably without a cat in it.

Then a minute later so did Devil-kitty. I then gave up on getting this shot the way I wanted it, preferably without a cat in it.

In which IKEA and Chocolate are more useful than not

Well, in all the excitement of marathon training and discovering the joys of pie crust (see tomorrow’s post) I somehow managed to completely lose the partially finished blog post that was to have been titled, “The Swedish Horse of Depression – How IKEA and my insufficient language skills took a perfectly reasonable quaint winter custom and turned it into something else entirely.” I will attempt to recreate that post here for your reading pleasure.

Let me explain. No, it will take too long, let me sum up.

I’ve been battling pretty hard this winter against depression. I don’t know if it’s just a really bad case of SAD, or something less winter-dependent. In any case, there have been days (weeks, really) where getting out of bed is hard, I’m so tired I feel like I can’t do anything, and that the parts of my brain that deal with decisions and anything more intellectual than watching the Musketeers on the BBC iplayer are a bit beyond my abilities. My poor Wife has been doing her best to remain cheerful and helpful throughout, but I know it’s not easy for her.

Anyway, so in a cheering-up expedition about a month or so ago, we went to IKEA, because where else would you go to remember all that is good in life? As we were heading out with our haul of meatballs, kitchen tools, bedding, and more nondescript shelving, I saw something colorful and adorable on a shelf in the food area.

It was this. A chocolate horse wrapped in brightly colored foil. I read the German description of how the Swedes would make these colorful items for their children during the long dark winter nights. And I thought, “Of course! That’s brilliant! Making chocolates during the winter to help ward off the depression that comes with twenty hours of darkness a day! We must have one!”

I then proceeded to embellish the tale with the idea that at winter’s end, there would be a great party at which much chocolate would be consumed, after the chocolate horses were broken in ceremonial fashion to signify the end of the long night and the coming of spring. It was so logical and clear in my head that I was utterly convinced that that must be what the Swedes were doing.

Then, of course, I said all this out loud to the Wife (who shall be known henceforth as the Wife Who Knows All Things about All Things, Especially Swedish Customs and IKEA Related Trivia or W.WKATATESCIRT for short) who immediately said as anyone who doesn’t inhabit my brain and correctly interpreted the explanatory sign would, “Well, no. Those horses were wood. They were brightly painted toys.” So then I was left with the question of why? Why would IKEA mislead us so?

And then I realized something Important. It didn’t matter. If the Ceremonial Breaking of the Chocolate Horse of Depression ™ was going to help me, then that is what we were going to do. And we did.

We set the Chocolate Horse of Depression ™ on the table in a suitably danger-free area.

Behold, the Chocolate Horse of Depression. (as sold by IKEA)

Behold, the Chocolate Horse of Depression. (as sold by IKEA)

Then I got one of my wooden swords out. My favorite wooden sword, in fact. (Yes, I have a favorite wooden sword. Doesn’t everyone?)

You can't actually see me in the picture, but trust me, I'm on the other end of the wooden stick.

You can’t actually see me in the picture, but trust me, I’m on the other end of the wooden stick. I believe this shot is actually me in mid-swing. Devil-kitty is not impressed.

And then I smashed the adorable, brightly-colored Chocolate Horse of Depression ™ with a few well-placed blows.

The first of which cracked it pretty neatly open.

The first of which cracked it pretty neatly open.

And after the thing was reduced to tiny little pieces, it was transferred to a bowl and symbolically consumed (Actually, no. It was literally consumed. But with symbolic meaning.)

Also, note out really clever and cool coffee table. Which is a cheap IKEA table with a sheet of glass over it and a nice selection of our race numbers as decoration.

Also, note our really clever and cool coffee table. Which is a cheap IKEA table with a sheet of glass over it and a nice selection of our race numbers as decoration.

So that is the quaint Swedish custom of breaking and eating the Chocolate Horse of Depression ™  at the end of a long winter. And I am doing better. But I have no idea if that has to do with the ceremony, the coming of spring, the 50 miles a week I’m running (And that’s a post for another day. The one about how I usually use exercise to help manage my generally mild to moderate depression, but when I reach the level of marathon and ironman training and it’s not helping, then I know there’s something NOT RIGHT with my stupid head.) or just some other utterly random event that set my brain chemistry back on the upswing to normal. In any case, I think we will be breaking the Chocolate Horse of Depression ™ every winter, possibly more than once, if necessary.

Training update: Last week was a cutback week, so only 42 miles, the week before was 52 miles and this week is another 53 miles. It’s my last high-mileage week before tapering starts. And I am right there on that razor’s edge of overtrained, so I think I did it right this time around.

Here is the teaser for tomorrow’s post:

My entirely homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie just after getting its egg yolk sponge bath and just before it went into the oven. Tune in tomorrow to see what it looked like after it was baked, along with the recipe.

My entirely homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie just after getting its egg yolk sponge bath and just before it went into the oven. Tune in tomorrow to see what it looked like after it was baked, along with the recipe.

I’ll be posting the recipe tomorrow because this is possibly the best pie I’ve ever made. It’s so good that I’m going to be making it again for my mother-in-law this weekend when they are visiting for Easter.

And finally, Devil-kitty looking especially silly:

Devil-kitty, who should possibly be called Derpy-kitty based on this photo.

Devil-kitty, who should possibly be called Derpy-kitty based on this photo.

 

Go for it!

How the heck is it already Thursday again? Time, stop moving so fast, please.

Several things happened recently that seem connected and that require discussion.

Over the weekend, A(short for his real name), a person fairly close to me died. He was a boss, a mentor, and a friend. He died of an awful complication to a horrible disease and he wasn’t even fifty. His fire, his spirit, his zest for life, and his attention to detail in all aspects of his work and life marked him as special. He could make people cry easily with his brutal honesty, but rarely did so. He could use his force of personality to command the attention of a room full of people, and then use his sometimes surprising humor to set them all at ease before laying out whatever impossible, time-critical task we had to somehow finish this time. He worked hard, played hard, and found joy in life. It was much too soon to lose such a bright star. I miss him.

I have also joined an informal German class last week. Most of the members of this group are women and mothers (it meets at 10 am, what do you expect?). One of them is a 61 year old grandmother from Morocco. I had no idea she was that old until we did an exercise yesterday where we all said our ages out loud. We also learned that she married at 14, had her first child at 15, raised 7 children and now has 20 grandchildren. By most accounts, a successful life. She, however, due to the culture she was raised in, never learned to read and write. So she is now. At 61. In a second language. With joy and anticipation.

The message I am taking from these things is that:

1) It is NEVER too late to start.

2) But you have to start TODAY because we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.

So go out and do it now. That thing that you always meant to do. It’s time. Don’t wait.

 

And of course, an image for TBT. This one is remotely connected to A.

The stalwart researchers on a month-long bio-physical interactions cruise off the coast of Barbados, 1996. This is where I learned the salp joke.

The stalwart researchers on a month-long bio-physical interactions cruise off the coast of Barbados, 1996. This is where I learned the salp joke. That’s me, 4th from the left.

It’s sort of a funny story. So, I’m not particularly good at telling jokes. I tend to drag them out too long, I don’t judge my audience well, etc. One of my favorite jokes is about hyperiid amphipods. It goes like this:
“How many hyperiid amphipods does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”

“None! They screw in salps!”

…and that’s the joke. Which only a very small subset of marine biologists even gets. So telling it to a room full of systems engineers is fairly high on the futility meter. A thought the room’s reaction (blank stares, dead silence) was so hilarious that whenever he was feeling down, he’d ask me to tell him the salp joke again, usually in front of an unsuspecting engineer, just so he could watch the reaction again. The telling got better every time. A, this one’s for you. I hope it makes you smile even now.

TBT: high school hair edition

And it’s been more than a week for the blog, did y’all miss me?

Since it’s Thursday already (this week went by fast, apparently, that’s what deadlines and jetlag will do to you) I can just post this picture.

It’s from the spring of 1988 when I was a senior in high school, visiting my excellent friend Joeshlabotnik (who now has over 66,000 photos at his Flickr account) at college. Yes, I still have the jacket, packed in a box in my brother’s basement and waiting for the next big high school reunion. What is interesting is that I actually weigh the same now as I did in that picture (racing weight, yay) and my hair is currently as long and as unmanageable.

TBT 1988

TBT 1988

So the big questions is: should I get a haircut and how short?

in running news, I ran 170 miles in March, highest monthly total ever. And I’m feeling surprisingly uninjured these days.

In running toy news, the MIO Link optical wrist band heart rate monitor is now available for pre-order and ships April 10th!

A blog post of no real content

Going to continue blogging semi-regularly, but tonight I don’t have a whole lot to report. I only got 3 runs in this week and only 25 miles run, but I have spent the entire weekend doing martial arts and was at a workout of one sort or another every day since I got to the US. I am very much off my schedule for the month, but it really couldn’t be helped this time. I am struggling to not feel guilty for not running even though I’ve been doing lots of other things that take up all my time. I’m pretty sure that missing today’s run will not make me fail the marathon. I don’t even really know what constitutes failing a marathon. Maybe oversleeping and consequently failing to show up?

Also, I have not updated this week’s running totals for the little virtual runner’s group that I am part of (I’m running this month’s challenge) and I am also going to not feel guilty about that. I have actually been busy. So busy that I don’t really have the time to spend on the internet. Also, very tired. I hope nothing exciting happened on the internet while  I was gone and that nobody was wrong there, either.

Anyway, here’s a picture of Ron, who belongs to the friend who let me stay all week and use her internet and spare bedroom and generally disrupt her schedule for a week while I am in the US.

cat sleeping near an electric heater

Ron, keeping himself warm and toasty in front of the heater.

TBT: Bike and Cat Edition

Well, I missed posting yesterday, but I had a good excuse. I was in transit for 12 hours of yesterday, then went immediately to a dojo to train in martial arts, then fell into bed at a friend’s house where we had failed to set up the wifi for me (until today as I had a fairly amusing password error which prevented me from sampling the toothsome wares of the internets).

Since I’m traveling and don’t have the external drive with all my old photos on it (and the even older ones are all in a box in my brother’s basement), I can only go back to 2008 here. I swear, sometime soon I will actually make that other post I keep mentioning. But no time for that today, spring is finally here, and it’s a gorgeous day! I’ve run 13 miles in the warm sun (and given myself a sunburn in the process), was completely overwhelmed at the size and choices in the super large American supermarket, and closed a bank account at a bank in a town that I haven’t lived in for 7 years.

A Trek 520 Touring bike

This is my touring bike. It’s a 1998 Trek 520, so the bike is a throwback, even if the photo of it is from 2008. The cute panniers are no longer being made and work for weekend trips when we stay at hotels and commuting to the office. Since coming to Germany, it has acquired much wider tires and a post office yellow set of Ortlieb panniers.

I actually bought matching bikes for myself and my then boyfriend who later became my husband. I still have the bike. Maybe that should be an advertising slogan. Trek touring bikes, made to last through multiple marriages.

And here is the cat that I had at that time, whose death paved the way for Devil Kitty and Captain Dukie. After she died (and she was a wonderful cat and I still miss her) I started fostering difficult cats for one of the local cat shelters. And eventually they sent me the boys and after I had (partially) rehabilitated them, they informed me that they weren’t leaving.

a black cat

My darling Kudra cat

Until tomorrow, dear readers!

(and no, you did not miss any previous Throwback Thursdays, this is the first one I’ve ever done.)

Tuesday Twofer

The post about why I haven’t been posting has to wait another day as I haven’t finished it yet and I have too much to do to get it done in the manner it deserves.

There’s wordless Wednesday and Throwback Thursday, but what’s Tuesday? Today it’s Twofer Tuesday since I’ve only got about two minutes at the moment and too many things on the to-to list.

Two running recommendations:

1) For long runs, my Nathan running vest/backpack is the best ever, even though I tend to pack too many things into it. (Always a phone, extra cash, a couple of gels, a packet of tissues, lip balm, and the iPod. Often a jacket and/or spare gloves just in case).

2) Running with one’s significant other. Especially nice slow recovery runs where we get to chat for an hour or so. I know it’s hard for most couples because there’s always the fast one, but every once in a while, if the fast one slows down, it’s really lovely bonding time

Two photos:

two cats on a bookshelf, looking smug

People wonder why one shelf of our Wall of Billy has been left inexplicably empty. This is why.

a picture of bibimbap

The Wife has started making her own version of Korean Bibimbap. I’ll post a recipe when I get it from her.  But because she’s German, her version includes bacon.

She made this the first time last month and it’s possibly the best thing ever to come out of our kitchen. Really tasty with bok choi, fried tofu, the usual ingredients, but instead of egg, she finished it with German bacon. #ilovemywife

That’s all for today. More tomorrow (or Übermorgen – I’m on a plane tomorrow and I don’t know if I’ll have internet on the other side)

Running recap and Irish playlist

Oops! How does it happen that I think things are going well, I’ve got everything under control, then all of a sudden it’s February mid-March and I haven’t posted in two and a half weeks almost two months?

Triathlon Running recap:

Well, I’m behaving as a runner these days. A runner who swims once a week and does aikido three times a week, and basically doesn’t bike at all unless it’s for transportation. I’ve heard from the lovely folks at the small town marathon I’m running in May that they are not a BQ race. Then a week later, I heard from them again and their course got certified this month and they ARE a Boston qualifier. Which is great, but I’m never going to be able to qualify for next year anyway as I’d need a 3:45 and that’s probably not going to happen. This one will be a dress rehearsal then for late fall when I only need a 3:55 to qualify for 2016 (apparently, there are benefits to aging, after all).

I ran 115 miles in January. That’s more than I ran in any one month in all of 2013 and more than all but two months of 2012 (the last two months before my last stand-alone marathon). I’m too lazy to go back farther than that. February was 129 despite being horribly sick with norovirus in the middle and missing 4 runs including a long run. This month so far I’ve had a couple of nice long runs (18 on Saturday) and some ok other runs. This month, I’m on my way to over 190 miles.

Maffetone, the short version:

I had a long post about this in my head along with several different graphs I made in Matlab, none of which I feel like going into now, but to sum up: Maffetone sucks. And does not work for me. After two months of solid running at Maffetone heart rate, my pace did not consistently improve at all. After the first week, I went from having to practically walk to somewhat slower than my usual recovery/slow run pace and it never got any better. I suspect that is because my max HR is much higher than the age prediction formulas say it would be. Anyway, the heart rate strap still makes me claustrophobic, I can’t stand running that slowly anymore and screw the maffetone method, I’m going back to what works. I’ve got marathons to run and Boston to qualify for this year.

In other news, the Wife admitted to me that her last 16 mile long run felt so good that she wants to upgrade from the 2/3 marathon distance she was planning on racing in May to the full with me. Success! My evil plan worked!

I have another post describing why I’ve not managed to update in 2 months. I’ll put that one up tomorrrow. (Yes, this is probably the shortest post I’ve made to this blog. That’s the new method. Short and often. Like I like my…ummm….nevermind.

until then, Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

Mid January check-in and cat amusement

So while we were out on our run today, Captain Dukie thought he’d grab a little computer time. Somehow with his little feet, he managed to press Cntrl-Opt-Command-8. Then he was searching for some lost files. Neither he or I could actually find pOuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh on the system, though. And normally, things are a nice cheery blue and white on this machine, not weird need-to-depress-four-keys-at-once-to-achieve inversions.

This is what I came back to:

The cat's been on the internet again...

The cat’s been on the internet again…

So, more importantly, I’m still attempting the Maffetone training, hating it slightly less, but still unsure about my belief levels.

So far, I’ve run 46 miles this year, pretty much all of it at an average HR around 140 bpm. Most of it was at something between 10:30 and 11:30 paces which is both frustrating and disappointing. It’s getting slightly better, I suppose. Last week was 27 miles running, one day of swimming, a couple of easy bike rides to town and 3 days of aikido. So, we’re taking it easy this month ;-)

I have two sort of serious and important posts in the works, but the silly cats have preempted them. Later in the week I’ll get to the one where I talk about bike commuting and safety (a friend of mine almost got hit the day before yesterday) and why it’s going to be a rough transition when/if we move back to the US where the drivers see us as nuisances and not people who have a right to use the road.

Until next time, the Wife, Captain Dukie, Devil-Kitty, and I will continue to search fruitlessly, but hopefully for pOuhhhhhhhhhhh!

At least the post-run greeting committee is warm and soft, despite their inherent destructiveness.

At least the post-run greeting committee is warm and soft, despite their inherent destructiveness.

 

 

2014 Resolutions and 2013 Wrap-up before it’s so late it’s irrelevant

Today, we took down our adorable tiny Christmas tree and all the wonderful cards we received. The last day of Christmas is always bittersweet. We have also managed to eat every last bit of Christmas cookies, candy, and cake that was left in the house, so it’s well and truly over until next year.

One batch of the roughly 1000 pounds of fudge we made for the holidays. Sadly, all of it has been given away and/or consumed.

One batch of the roughly 1000 pounds of fudge we made for the holidays. Sadly, all of it has been given away and/or consumed.

And now for the important parts of this post. What we did and what we’re going to do.

What we did last year:

Short version – last year I did an Ironman. Which I shall never tire of saying, sorry (not really. Ironpeople are never sorry for bringing it up. Again. Maybe this year I’ll actually finish last year’s race report.). I was going to run up a mountain this year, but instead, I’ve decided to qualify for the Boston Marathon and just like that, another obsession is born. The Wife has decided to do her first 70.3 triathlon this year, so we have some fun training times ahead of us.

Long version – here’s my season recap for this year which basically says that I did an Ironman (did I mention that already?) and got a bunch of PR’s along the way, which was nice. Here’s last year’s resolutions post where go into stupefying detail about how to write resolutions and then give a laundry list a mile long of all the things I wanted to do or work on during 2013. Here’s the (hopefully less painful) summary of last year:

  • Ironman (see above.)
  • 4:00 marathon – cancelled because I was too tuckered out from Ironman (see above) to do anything meaningful with the rest of the fall. Poor, poor, pitiful me.
  • Flossing. Yep, still flossing. Like a boss.
  • Basic medical care, cats + humans. Behaving mostly like an adult and doing this stuff when we’re supposed to. Except the dentist. I never did go back to have the ancient cavities replaced. They still don’t bother me at all, giving me zero incentive to actually have things done.
  • Being a Scientist. Working on it. Was harder than I’d imagined. But there’s still hope.
  • Being a German speaker. Passed the B2 German exam and the civics exam for residency in May!
  • Being a home handyperson. Not really. Something had to fall off the (overly ambitious) list and this was it. Not that things are in bad shape, but I still want to reorg the bathroom and living room the way I did with the kitchen in 2012.
  • Getting wedding rings and having the accompanying wedding. Yeah, that one worked out pretty well. In case you were wondering, yes, we are legally in a Lebenspartnership here, but that’s like a civil union and not like a marriage. For US Immigration purposes, we needed a wedding and a marriage, so we had (another) one. It was beautiful and we had so much fun with it and that’s the one perk of same-sex unions. We get to (in fewer than half of the US states, though) have a lot of weddings. To the same person. (Because we have to in order to satisfy different states and countries patchwork and not wholly equal laws and regulations. So to counteract the lack of equality in a lot of places, we express our joy in those places that do consider us equal under the law by having more parties there.) OK, same-sex equality rant over. This is supposed to be a tri-blog, after all.

What we’re going to do this year:

I’ve decided against running up a mountain this September as it interferes with both our vacation plans and my BQ plans.

My A Races:

  • Mainz Marathon (May)
  • Frankfurt Marathon (October)

My B Races:

  • Frankfurt 1/2 Marathon (March)
  • Wiesbaden 70.3 (August)

My C Races:

  • Platte, Fertig, Los (only 450 meters of climbing in 5 miles up Plattestraße in Wiesbaden) (March) (Yes, I’m doing this one just for fun. For some definition of fun.)
  • Frankfurt City Tri (As usual, the week before Wiesbaden. I’ll probably do the sprint distance again. Maybe I’ll get first woman on the bike again this year.)
  • Lauf für Mehr Zeit – Frankfurt’s AIDS charity run. (September) If we’re not on the beach in Crete.
  • Cologne Triathlon Weekend (September) I may do the Oly here for fun since the swim is so beautiful and I’ll be there anyway, sherpa-ing for the Wife at her first half-iron distance triathlon. (Go Wife!)

Intense BQ-based navel-gazing ahead

(with a side-order of Maffetone nattering)

First, about navel-gazing. That refers to omphaloskepsis, or the act of meditative belly-button contemplation. Which is different from naval-gazing, which involves looking excessively at pretty boats, er ships. So, originally I’d hoped to BQ this May in Mainz, but then I realized that Mainz would only count towards 2015 when I will still only be 44 and the BQ time is 3:45 which is 17 minutes faster than my current marathon PR. However, Frankfurt, in October will count towards 2016, when I’ll be 45 and only need to pull off a 3:55, a mere 7 minutes faster than my PR. A majority of the predictors imply that based on my 1/2 marathon and 10k times in 2013, I should be able to swing a 3:53. I’m going to try for that at both Mainz and Frankfurt with some fun triathlon in the middle along with a couple of cool holidays.

Maffetone. Still not sure I believe in him. I’ve started HR training this month and seriously, keeping the HR below 180-43 (+5 for good behavior the last 4 or 5 years) is making me into one angry runner. I was reduced to almost 13 minute miles in the middle of Sunday’s long run. People were walking faster than I was running. I snapped at the Wife. It was miserable all around. I think I may have had a HRM malfunction in the middle of the run or something. Or the constriction around the chest (which triggers my claustrophobia) started to bother me. Or I have no aerobic fitness or something. I don’t know. But I cannot wait until March when I can get one of these fancy optical HRM that I get to wear around my wrist instead of my chest. I will stick with the Maffetone method at least until the end of February, but if my paces aren’t improving by then, I’m going back to the usual. In case you were wondering, all this started because the Wife has gotten so fast that I can no longer rely on running with her to keep my long run pace slow enough anymore and since I’m wearing the hated strap, I thought I might as well go all the way and see what happens.

So here’s my marathon training plan for the next few month in graphical format:

My weekly total mileage and long run length up to and including the Mainz Marathon this May. Races are marked as red dots on the long run (blue) line.

My weekly total mileage and long run length up to and including the Mainz Marathon this May. Races are marked as red dots on the long run (blue) line.

That’s the quick version of what I’m up to for the next year. Oh, and blogging. I resolve to blog no fewer than 52 times this year (that’s once a week at a minimum).

 

Captain Dukie was a bit traumatized by our being away for almost two weeks at Christmas. So now, all of my seated activities involve peering over a cat. For example, breakfast.

Captain Dukie was a bit traumatized by our being away for almost two weeks at Christmas. So now, all of my seated activities involve peering over a cat. For example, breakfast.