Winter Squash and Parsnip Soup

I don’t like winter weather.  I grew up in the South, so a little snow flurry causing total panic and a statewide emergency once a year is about all I can handle.   The winters in D.C., where I went to college, just about did me in and are 80% of the reason why I moved California.  So yes, I am a big baby about cold weather, and while you might have had to trudge through the snow this week, I had to turn on my heat and ride my bike in the rain and it was hard.

Luckily, I spent half of Sunday peeling, chopping and cooking a metric ton of winter root vegetables–beets, butternut squash, turnips and parsnips–and making them into delicious warm hearty meals for the week.  I roasted most of them and served them over risotto (I used this recipe from The Newlywed Cookbook), but I still had lots of squash and parsnips left for this easy, yummy soup.

Winter Squash and Parsnip Soup

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Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 an onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 12 ounces butternut squash, peeled and roughly chopped (use a food processor to speed up the chopping)
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 cans low-sodium chicken broth

Instructions

  1. In a large dutch oven or stockpot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat until the butter is melted.
  2. Add the onion, celery and garlic and saute until translucent, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the squash, parsnips and thyme and saute for another 3 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes.  All the vegetables should be soft.
  5. Let cool a bit before processing in batches in a food processor or blending with an immersion blender until smooth.
  6. Return to the pot to heat back up and serve with warm, crusty bread.  Enjoy!

My Ass is Weak and I Run Like a Spaz

So, as part of the sports medicine workup for my hip pain, I had my running gait analyzed by a sports medicine specialist and a biomedical engineer.  This meant I got to run on a treadmill with three people watching me intently the entire time, and then I got to review video footage taken of me running from every angle in SLOW MOTION.  This is a uniquely horrifying experience.

This is partly because watching yourself run on video in slow motion means watching every single micron of jiggly stuff on your body jiggle at quarter speed.  But it’s mostly because although you thought you were pretty good at running, you know, because you do all those marathons and stuff, you find out that actually you run like a total embarrassing spaz.

It became apparent that my hips wobble from side to side way too much, my feet cross over the midline every time I take a step, and my knees want to knock together so I compensate by turning my feet out like a duck.  And there are probably other things they said that I didn’t really hear because I was too busy watching my thigh fat bounce up and down in wide-eyed terror.

Anyways, all of this stuff happens because my glutes and my core are too weak to properly stabilize my body when I run, and it actually puts a whole lot of extra stress on my hips and knees.  This is apparently very common, especially in women.  They seemed surprised that I haven’t had an injury until now, and I guess it’s just because I’m a total badass beast.  Okay I know that isn’t really why, but I just needed to say something to reclaim a tiny shred of my ruined self esteem.

But, here is the good part:

They think the pain in my hip is just regular old gluteal tendonitis brought on by overuse and my bad running form, and it’s not actually related to my deformed hip.  So, according to sports medicine, if I do the butt-strengthening exercises they gave me and improve my form, I can probably run again once it stops hurting.  The orthopedic surgeon might have a different opinion, but for now let’s just hope he feels the same way.

Also, when I told my dad I had gluteal tendonitis, he said “tendonitis of your BUTT!  HAHAHAHAHAHAHA” and I had to explain to him that yes, dad, all of your muscles are connected to some sort of tendon, including your butt muscles.  He still thought it was funny.

This guy has gluteal tendonitis and he is super excited about it.

This guy has gluteal tendonitis and he seems pretty excited about it.

Adventures in Cross Training

So, that pain in my hip led to an xray, which led to me finding out that I actually have a congenital hip deformity that I never knew about for my entire life.  This is not exactly what I was expecting to hear.  I got to see the films, and my pelvis is definitely lopsided, my left hip bones are shaped weird and and both my hip sockets are rotated backwards somewhat.

This is not my xray, it's from the internet.  Mine looks like this, but weirder.

This is not my xray; it’s from the internet.  Mine looks like this, but weirder, and sadly I don’t have a copy.

So I saw a sports medicine specialist, who said the pain might or might not be related to this weirdness, and who referred me to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon who specializes in congenital hip deformities.  Hopefully he will be able to tell me what it all means and what implications it has for the rest of my life, because at this point I really have no idea.

I am also going to have physical therapy for six weeks to strengthen and stretch my legs and core, and I also get to go to the sports performance lab to have my running gait analyzed by a biomedical engineer, which is pretty futuristic and awesome.  The good news is that after that I might be able to run again, although racing won’t be in my future for a while and I don’t think marathons will ever.

In the mean time, I have been doing something I haven’t really done for years: cross training.

After being lazy for about two weeks, I decided since I couldn’t run I might as well try out the exercise classes that they offer at work as part of the wellness program.  Not only are the classes really good, and offered AT WORK so you don’t even have to go anywhere, but they actually reward you for participating.  It’s amazing.

But I found out that years of too much running and not a lot of other forms of exercise has made me kind of inept at other forms of exercise.  I tried Boot Camp and Kickboxing, and I struggled kind of a lot, which was made slightly worse as far as my pride goes because I was surrounded by women who, although middle aged, had arms like Michelle Obama and high kicks like a mom version of Chuck Norris.

I realized that although my legs look somewhat like the Hulk’s in terms of muscle, my arms are weak, pathetic little noodles and my coordination leaves something to be desired when doing kick-jab-cross-jab-kick-bounce-jab combos.  All in all, although I’m hoping to be able to run a little again soon, I think it’s probably good for me to branch out a bit.  Even if I can’t lift my arms above the shoulders for a few days afterwards.

Spicy Peanut Slaw with Brown Rice

So remember that time I stopped running for a few weeks because I was fine until all of a sudden my hip started hurting, a lot?  Well, I went and got those xrays that I had put off, and as it turns out I don’t have an injury per se, but I do have a significant congenital deformity of the hip and pelvis that is probably the cause of my problems and that I never knew about for my entire life until right now.  SURPRISE!!!!!!

This probably means that I can’t run marathons again, ever, because the stress will just cause more and more progressive damage and I don’t really want to have a hip replacement when I’m 35.

I feel old.

Also, I might need to change the name of this blog to something like hungrygirlsits.

But since I don’t really feel like dealing with this right now, let me distract us all with an easy, healthy weeknight recipe.  I sort of invented this one evening when I had all of these things in my fridge and not a lot of time, and to my surprise it actually ended up tasting pretty delicious.

Spicy Peanut Slaw with Brown Rice

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Ingredients

The slaw15469645567_da998fff53_z

  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 package marinated tofu (I use this marinated baked tofu from trader joes), cut into small cubes
  • 1/3 cup almonds, chopped or slivered
  • 1 small or 1/2 large avocado, cubed
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil, chiffonaded

The dressing

  • 1 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 2 tsp water
  • Dash of ground ginger
  • Dash of chili powder15034856924_bf80358a8e_z

For serving

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrots, tofu, almonds, avocado, cilantro and basil.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, soy sauce, sriracha, water, ginger and chili powder until smooth.
  3. Toss the slaw with the dressing and serve over the warm brown rice.

That Time I Took a Week off of Running

I took a whole week off of running.

I went to the doctor about the pain in my left hip, and she referred me to a sports medicine specialist, gave me prescription strength naproxen, recommended some stretches and suggested I take a week off and then start back slow to see how it went. She also wanted me to get an X-ray, which I admit I have not done yet because I’m waiting for my new insurance so that it will be free. This is not generally a good idea but since I’m 98% sure nothing is broken I thought a week wouldn’t make too much difference.

So a whole week went by, and I walked, I biked to work, I did pilates and yoga DVDs, and I did not run one step. I didn’t even put on my running shoes.

The good:

  1. Because I didn’t have to get up to run, I got a LOT of sleep.  It was seriously awesome.  Especially spending a lazy Saturday morning in my warm bed listening to the rain, instead of outside running my miserable ass off in the rain.
  2. I got to wear actual pajamas instead of sleeping in my running clothes like I usually do because it makes it mentally easier to roll out of bed and go for a 5 am run.
  3. I had enough time every morning to actually style my hair and pick out a decent outfit instead of throwing clothes on my body and running out the door.
  4. I wasn’t a ravenous hangry monster hunting desperately for snacks all day long.

The bad:

  1. I am finding out just how much of my self-esteem is tied to physical activity, and it’s unfortunately a lot.  Learning how to feel good about myself without having to run every day is clearly something I need to work on.
  2. I’m very sad to say that the number of carbs I can/should eat each day has been reduced, which is especially a tragedy during the season of Halloween candy.
  3. I just like running, and it’s a bummer not to be able to do it.  I know I can do other things, but it’s not the same.

So after seven days of not running , I decided I could probably run two miles. Just two. That shouldn’t be a problem for a person who can normally run 12 or 13 miles pretty easily, right?

Wrong, as I found out 1.5 miles in when my hip started hurting so bad that I had to limp home. That’s right, I ran less than two miles and then I couldn’t even walk like a normal person. I am well and truly effed, especially as far as the CIM is concerned, which is six weeks away.

I will rest some more and try again, but there’s really no way I’m going to be able to magically pull off 26 miles injured and without having properly trained.  So it’s time for some more sleep, more yoga and pilates DVDs, more walking and biking, and maybe branching out to other forms of exercise while I dream of future races.  I have been wanting to take ballet classes again (I did ballet for nine years as a kid, but that was ten years ago), so maybe this is my chance.

My Best Worst Race Ever

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Conditions were perfect.  It was gorgeous clear, October day.  The course was beautiful, winding around Lake Natoma and past the Folsom Dam.  There were enough runners for it to be fun, but not so many that it was annoyingly crowded.  Miles 1-4 felt awesome, and we were all on track to break our half marathon record and make it under 2 hours once and for all.

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And then that pain in my left hip came back, this time with a vengeance.  By mile 5 it was hurting all the way down into my knee.  By mile 6 it was raging with every step I took, and by mile 7 I knew I was not going to make it.  I wasn’t going to ruin anyone else’s race, so I told the boys I would meet them at the finish at the entrance to the beer garden.

I would like to say that I am an adult and I did not burst into tears as I limped along the edge of the trail for another mile until the next aid station, but I did.  This was 20% because it hurt, and 80% because I was disappointed that for the first time I started a race that I couldn’t finish, because I was angry at myself for letting it get this bad, and because I had a terrible sinking feeling that this meant I was not going to be able to run the CIM after all.

At the aid station, an extremely kind and wonderful volunteer named Sandy insisted on driving me the last 5 miles to the finish line in her own car.  Sandy, if you are out there, know that you did a good deed and that I am forever grateful to you.  I got there just as the fastest runners were finishing, which meant that there were still plenty of Luna bars left and that the massage tent was virtually empty.  I met the guys at the beer tent, and we all enjoyed a free post race brew.  Special congrats to Alex for kicking ass in his first half!

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So right now, I am resting, icing, making a doctor’s appointment and hoping against hope that I can keep training after a little while and maybe still run the CIM.  It’s not looking great but I’m not giving up yet.  If not, I will have to seriously consider what else to do with my life for a while, since at least 25% of my time is spent running, preparing for running, recovering from running, and thinking and blogging about running.  I probably should have diversified my hobby portfolio before this happened, but since I’ve been running pretty constantly for the last five years without any injuries I really wasn’t expecting to need to.

But don’t worry, I will continue to provide you with more melodramatic updates on my condition as things play out.

Getting Ready for the Folsom Blues Breakout Half

Happy Friday!  I just finished my first week at my new job, and tomorrow is RACE DAY!  Not marathon day, but half marathon day, which is more than half as good.  I’m running the Folsom Blues Breakout Half with my husband and our friend Alex.  I’ve never done this race before, but I’m excited about it for several reasons:

  1. It’s almost like a preview of the first part of the CIM course, which starts in Folsom
  2. It’s October and the weather is finally awesome for running
  3. The race is Johnny Cash and prison themed
  4. There is free beer at the finish
  5. The medal doubles as a bottle opener.  For real.

However–there is this thing that started as a soreness in my left hip, didn’t go away for two weeks and then turned into an intense pain shooting down my left leg.  I confess that I was bad, I ignored it, and I’m sorry, but when it didn’t get better I decided to take my own advice and give it a rest.  My worst fear is that it doesn’t heal and I can’t keep training, so I skipped my runs on Wednesday and Thursday and twice a day I’ve been rolling it out with a foam roller and stretching a lot.  It feels way better, but I won’t find out how much better until I actually run tomorrow.

I haven’t been totally lazy though, because I started commuting to my new job…via BIKE!  This is a big deal for me because a) I have been driving a very long way to my job for the last 2 1/2 years and b) historically I am NOT good at riding a bike.  As in, I didn’t really know how to ride one at all until my husband taught me when I was seventeen years old, and after that things were kind of shaky, and may have included a somewhat devastating bike accident when I was in college in Washington DC that was witnessed by about 1,000,000 tourists.

That said, I think I will be okay because I only have a one mile ride to work on residential streets, and because (since I am very aware of my limitations as a cyclist) I am super extra careful.  But if you see me on my bike, give me a wide berth just in case.

Now, its time to carb load with some Hungry Girl Pizza and go to bed early so I can be ready for BEAST MODE tomorrow!