Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Winding down ...

The year is winding down. 2009 has gone incredibly fast. My next post will be a "Year in Review" sort of post, ... today, tomorrow, whenever I get it done. It's been a full year. I wonder what 2010 has in store ...

I ordered a laptop today. My first. I'm excited to get it. That way I can sit in a comfy chair and still be "wired". :-)

Here are the hats for Lace-Up Against Breast Cancer on February 14. There will be some black, some pink. I'm going for pink.

I got an email inquiry today about the Polar Bear Fun Run & Lunch on Saturday. (Map below if you want to run). You DO NOT have to be an RTC member to attend. Everyone is welcome! Please come!! 11:00 AM Saturday, running or not, with lunch provided afterwards. 2026 Kal Lane SW.

Here's the photo of my Norwegian friends, Ann-Kristin and Espen running Chester Woods a couple of years ago. I promised her I'd post it for her. :-) I'm also sending her a calendar.

Packet pick-up for the Resolution Run actually started yesterday. I picked up my jacket this afternoon. They're very nice, fleece this year rather than the "windbreaker" type.

This morning I got up at 4:30. Matt was, unbelievably, just going to bed!! I could not keep his schedule. Apparently, he'd just gotten home at 4:00 AM after hanging out at a friend's house. So, for "breakfast" (at 1:00 PM!!) I made him pumpkin pancakes using a mix from Trader Joe's. I had one too. (I was hungry after my morning workout. More on that in a sec.) Very good.

I did a bunch of baking today, getting ready for everything going on in the next couple of days: trip up to St. Cloud including a breakfast run, post-Resolution Run party, lunch here Saturday. I made some pumpkin bread with chocolate chips and walnuts, "2010" cookies ...

and good 'ol Neiman Marcus cookies, my standby.

Morning workout: I ran down tot he Y, but no one was there to run at 5:15 AM. Not surprising being it's a holiday week. I did see Lisa in the fitness center, but she wasn't running outside. So I decided to lift before going back out to run. Then I ran our "old" Wednesday morning run which we haven't done in a long time. It's been shortened by 4 miles now. Well, my GPS wasn't cooperating so I eventually turned it off. I knew it was about 10 miles. Got back to the Y and swam for 45 minutes (that felt good). Then ran home (total of 14.45 miles after mapping out the course on What a workout! But I feel fine. In fact, I'm going to go out and shovel when I publish this post.

Thought for the day: "You may forget with whom you laughed, but you will never forget with whom you wept." --Anonymous

Until next time, I faithfully remain Ramblin' Renee.

5K Route for Polar Bear Fun Run on Saturday

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Need for Speed

Went out to the indoor track this evening to put in a few miles (or whatever I ran in 1:00.05 anyway). No basketball games in there today. Yay!! Let's see if I can remember who all was there: Casey, Andy, Tom W, Tom O, Trevor, Dave, Dan (and his boys), Marilee, Renee K, Rob, Mark, Jenny, Andy, Renee S.

It's really fun to watch Travis Beniak run. So fast, such beautiful form. Wow. For the most part, I just ran in lane 5 to get in some miles inside in preparation for Zoom!Yah!Yah! on January 10 (150 laps on the St. Olaf indoor track--a marathon). The rest of the crew did a ladder workout, I believe. I did do a couple of timed quarters (slow!) and some 100's. I think that after the marathon, I will get back to doing speedwork on a regular basis as I have certainly lost speed. My 1/4s were 1:34 and 1:29. I did put in 2 hours on the Stairmaster this morning. Hopefully that had something to do with being slow. Most of my laps were about 1:00, so I'm going to call it 7'ish including water stops.

Marilee had a birthday last week and apparently she got talked into buying a round after this week's workout. So we were off to Whistle Binkie's after leaving the track.

Thank you, Marilee, and happy belated birthday!!

Matt again ran in shorts today, with temps in the teens. Today I decided to capture it "on film".

I made my friend Kathryn's cinnamon chip cookies for after the run today. The concensus was that the recipe is a keeper. Kind of tastes like a cinnamon roll in cookie form.

For dinner I made salmon ...

(just baked it for 10 minutes @ 450 with some olive oil and lemon pepper)

and asparagus soup (Cooking Light recipe on my recipe blog).

Delish. With a slice of Great Harvest Bread, dinner was complete.

I need to get this 2010 Cookie Count Contest going. What's up with that?? Well, send me your guess for how many cookies I will bake in 2010. I'll keep a running count on my blog. The person who's closest at the end of the year will get a batch of cookies of their choosing. Send me your guess at :-)

From Peg: There is an opening for an assistant manager at the Grand Ave Running Room store in St. Paul. The manager, Kira, is currently taking applications for this position. If you or someone you know is interested in a career with the Running Room please send a cover letter and resume to Kira's attention at . Kira would like to conduct interviews next week.

My friend Kathy Carlson is coming to the Polar Bear lunch run on Saturday all the way from Waite Park (St. Cloud). I am so happy!! Hope it's a good crowd as there's lots of food. Thank you RTC for providing the free meal!!

I guess I'll venture down to the Y in the early AM (5:15) and see if anyone else shows up. Afterwards, I'll go for a swim. I'm off work until next Wednesday. :-)

Well, there are dishes to wash so I'd best get busy. Until tomorrow ...

Monday, December 28, 2009

A New Week

The Vikings are playing terrible football. It's am embarrassment watching them. So I turned off the TV and decided to post. I vacuumed furniture during the commercials so the time wasn't a total waste.

Not too much to report today. Morning run: 10.03 miles. Slippery. Dark. Windy. But ... I got 'er done without mishap. After work: Purchased all the stuff for Saturday's Polar Bear Run and Lunch here. Jean's bringing the sloppy joes. I'm doing BBQ chicken sandwiches, calico beans, veggies, chips, beverages (water, G2) and cookies. So that's all good to go.

This afternoon, Matt went for a run in SHORTS and a long-sleeved T-shirt. Brrrrrr. I was cold just looking at him. I don't know how he did it. Short socks, too. Crazy kid. But he survived and is apparently none the worse for wear.

Tuesday: Track workout at 5:30 PM at RCTC indoor track. 5:15 warm-up.

BTW: Resolution Run packet pick-up is Thursday during store hours.

I was thumbing through the MDRA annual and noticed some Chester Woods photos, both taken by me I believe! They're both from the back. One is Jim Mason and Lynn Saari. The other is Ann-Kristin and Espen Gjertsen. :-) Jim Mason must have sent them in.

My New Year's Eve plans are changing, weather permitting. I'm going up to St. Cloud and joining a dozen other River Runners for dinner and a few stops at some other local establishments from the sounds of it. It sounded like too much fun to pass up. :-) I'll stay with Donnie and Cindy and return here sometime Friday morning.

Supper tonight: Nothing too exciting. I picked up a cheese pizza at Sam's Club to make Matt happy. :-) I had 1 1/2" of one piece. It was good.

Also had a salad, as I always do, and some winter squash (baked with brown sugar). Delicious.

I got a side of salmon for tomorrow night, and some asparagus to make asparagus soup. Yum.

Soon it will be time to take down my santa decorations and put up snowmen.

I'll leave the santas up for a while yet. I stitched this pillow a few years ago. Was doing a lot of this embroidery stuff then. Not so much any more. BTW: The snowman's nose is all french knots.

Truly was a slow news day. Stay warm. The mercury is supposed to dip below zero tonight.

Quote for the day: "A friend is someone you can do nothing with, and enjoy it."  --Anonymous

Sunday, December 27, 2009

This 'n That

(My nephew Andrew :-)

This morning I ran 7.15 miles before church. It was 14 degrees and quite pleasant actually. A bit of a NW wind, but I didn't mind. I was dressed appropriately. Nice, peaceful run--a few snowflakes in the air. Legs felt fine after 15 yesterday. Late morning I ran down to the Y and lifted, then swam for an hour, then ran to the library to return 3 books, then ran to Canadian Honker to request a donation of chicken noodle soup for Lace-Up Against Breast Cancer and then ran home. (About 5 miles total.) It was one of those days where I felt like I could just run and run and run ... Love those days. :-)

I attempted making peanut brittle for the first time on Christmas Eve. I calibrated my candy thermometer before starting (water boiled at 210) so I knew it was reading 2 degrees cold. According to the recipe I needed to cook it until it got to hard crack stage (300 degrees). Well, I boiled and boiled and it wasn't getting much past 265. So I dropped a little syrup in cold water and sure enough, it turned brittle so I knew it was at hard crack and took it off the heat. Don't know what was up with the thermometer. I was actually worried I'd burned it as it smelled really hot. But after pouring it out and cooling it, it had turned out just fine. So I'm pleased with my first foray into candy making.

Christmas dinner was turkey and the trimmings. I cooked the "roast beast" in one of those Reynold's bags in my roaster again. It works beautifully. The turkey is so moist, though very anemic looking as it doesn't really brown. But the skin gets tossed anyway.

Last night I made turkey wild rice soup, which everyone enjoyed.

New Years' Eve: There is a run planned from Beetles on 2nd at 4 pm Thursday. 2-5 miles and then some social time. Might be held in conjunction with Team R.E.D. I will be there.

Reminder: Med-City marathon registration (half, full) is $30 through 12/31. That's a bargain.

I'll leave you with this photo of Chrismas gifts from friends ...

Quote for the day: "Life's short; eat cookies". :-)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Big Day :-)

Yup, today was the big "6th Annual Fun Run and Beer Exchange". I ran. I ate. I exchanged beer. :-) It was fun, I have to say. Our social director didn't even show up! I got started just after 6:00 and ran 11 miles before heading back to the Y to meet up with the others. I neglected to get a running photo. Sorry about that. We ran the 5K route around the neighborhood surrounding the Y (and I ran .9 extra to get in 15), cleaned up and then headed over to Brother's Bar & Grill for breakfast. It was packed in there. Mayor Brede was at the table next to us. I guess he's in there every week. I hadn't been there for breakfast before, but I will go back. I looked at the menu and ordered oatmeal, but then re-considered having pancakes after K.C. ordered a walnut pancake. They can be ordered in quantity: 1 or 2. I thought it sounded skimpy until someone had me turn around and look at one. It was bigger than a plate. Ginormous!! And looked delicious. So I changed my order to a walnut pancake. It was delicious.

Just look at it compared to my fork!! In attendance: K.C., Dan, Jim, Jerry, Tom, John and not pictured, Andrew.

After we ate, it was back out to the parking lot and the tailgate of K.C.'s pick-up to exchange bottles.

So here's what I ended up with:

I have to share some absolutely gorgeous photos with you. They're from Kathy Mathiasen, a River Runner friend. She is such a talented photographer. The horses are her own. So strong and powerful, but peaceful at the same time. I love these photos and thank you Kathy for sharing them, and letting me share them with others.

So what did I do for excitement on a Saturday evening? Cleaned all the drawers in my kitchen--took everything out, wiped them out and sorted the contents. Cleaned the oven, including the 3 racks (I do not like that job). Cleaned the microwave. Cleaned the sink. Very glad to get it done. Yesterday I got FrontPage loaded on my computer and today, with Pat Ross's help, was able to access the River Runners site and make my first post. :-) One of the things I want to do is add a page for the USATF team circuit races. A good project for next week.

Just a reminder that Runner of the Year nominations are due by January 4. Information is on the RTC website and nominations can be sent to the RTC president. The award, along with many others, is presented at the annual banquet which will be February 6, 2010. More info on the banquet is on the RTC website as well.

I'll close with the back of a T-shirt that was spotted at Brothers' this morning:

"The faster you run, the faster you're done". :-) How true.

Wishing you every happiness during the holidays.

Friday, December 25, 2009

From My Home to Yours ...

... I hope you had a very Merry Christmas. I enjoyed a few quiet, solitary moments with the Christmas lights this morning. I love the early mornings, the quiet time before the sun comes up and the rest of the world awakens.

An unexpectd knock on the door last night at 9:30 proved to be my son Eric. I was so happy to see him, and so thankful that he was home and safe. He said he drove 40 mph the whole way and saw 7 cars in the ditch, most still occupied with their lights still on. Had I known he had decided to travel, I would have been worried sick.

My niece and nephew Kaleigh and Andrew sure enjoyed their Christmas gifts, and I sure enjoyed having them here.

Just a note about Off-Season Striders: Saturday morning at Dunn Bros. on Elton Hills. Next week, my house for the Polar Bear Fun Run & Lunch, later start than usual. More on that later next week.

Signing off,
Rochester's Ramblin' Renee

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

I wish each and every one of you a wonderful holiday hoping that you are able to spend time with those you love, and those that love you.

"God bless us every one." --Tiny Tim, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Here We Go Again

We're getting hit by mother nature again. The timing couldn't be worse--so many people wanting to travel to be with loved ones for the holidays, including my oldest son. I'm afraid he won't be able to get home until Saturday and that makes me sad. VERY sad. It will be so different having Christmas without him. But I don't want him trying to drive in this either as I'd be worried sick. I'll just have to sit tight, and I hope he will too.

I have a public apology to make. In the December issue of RTC News, the caption under Laura Lenz's photo is left over from the September issue. It says it's "me and Judy Weller" when in fact it's Laura Lenz holding a stalk of (my) Brussels sprouts. So sorry to everyone involved.

Well, I guess it's official now--I'm a co-webmaster for the St. Cloud River Runners. My mug is online. :-)

John The Penguin Bingham is retiring from column-writing at Runners' World. Read his article online. It's a good one.

A cookie note: Mary Chestolowski brought decorated cut-out cookies to the cookie exchange on Sunday. They were nice and thick and I really liked them, so I asked her for the recipe. Here's what she said: "It's your recipe Renee! :) I love them too."  :-) Funny. Here's a slideshow from Sunday:

I bought myself some alstromeria at Sam's Club the other day. I say you can't go wrong for $3. Totally cheerful. They had lots of different colors to pick from.

Here's some fun photos from Tom Woo (Team R.E.D. shots):

Totally useless information: Yesterday I got a mailing from SELF magazine that my subscription is up for renewal. Well, my one year subscription expires in July!! That's really pushing it!

Spotted today when I was out and about after work: Amy Anshus at Great Harvest (it was a busy place today), Betsy Baartman and her son Brandon at Running Room buying Brandon some shoes, and Shaun and Sue Palmer outside Running Room. It was good to see all of them. I was, and am, having kind of a tough day. They all lifted my spirits. I am so thankful for my friends.

I did some time in the kitchen today--finally got those cut-out snowflakes cut out, baked, and decorated. Matt helped me put on the (edible) pearl decorations.

They're a lot of fun to do even though they're "putsy".

Then it was time for a Norwegian delicacy--lefse!! It's riced potatoes, butter, salt, flour and a little sugar rolled thin and baked on a round griddle. Spread with a little butter and sprinkled with brown sugar and rolled up, it's divine.

Dan Strain is looking for some (brave) runners tomorrow morning for 10 miles from Panera South at 7 AM. I'll have to take a pass. It's really nasty out there and only supposed to get worse. This morning I ran to the Y, swam an hour, and ran home. Now ... I think I'll go ride the bike for a while. Some decompression time is called for.

Stay warm. Stay safe. Stay home.

Ramblin' Renee

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Firsts, Second Part

OK. I'm back to ... Sunday!! The COOKIE EXCHANGE!! I made a couple of desserts for the occasion, one being a raspberry topped white cake ...

and the other being Mississippi Mud Cake ...

Deadly, but delicious. My items for the exchange were these caramel chocolate bars that taste EXACTLY like a Snickers bar ...

and Peanut Sitting Pretties which I make all the time. Basically a thumbprint cookie with a dab of frosting and a peanut m & m on top. They're pretty on a tray of cookies.

I think the event was a success. I had 3 last-minute no-shows and there were still 30 of us there. I didn't count noses, but I double-checked my guest list and 30 it was. Pictured below are Angie, me, Laura and Kristin.

I didn't get much of a chance to talk to people, but there was certainly a lot of chatter going on. I wouldn't expect anything less!!

So what we did was spread out the cookies on the dining room and kitchen tables and then take our empty containers and go around and take 2 of each kind of cookie as each person brought about 5 dozen.

Evan Chestolowski, age 9 days, even made an appearance. I got my baby fix. I just love holding those precious little people.

Thank you to everyone that brought me a bottle of wine. We didn't open them all, by the way. :-)

When all was said and done, we each went home with a nice assortment of cookies.

Fun, fun, fun!! So, that was Sunday afternoon. Sunday evening brought a Lace-Up Against Breast Cancer committee meeting at Laura's house. Noteworthy: The giveaway this year will be an embroidered fleece hat. I am going to try to get some chicken noodle soup donated rather than chili like we had last year. We need lots of volunteers! If you would like to volunteer, contact Sarah. Welcome new committee member Dave Morrill!! Overall winners get pink hammers (half marathon). Cool. :-) There will be another cookie baking extravaganza in January sometime. Stay tuned. I will need lots of help!!

After I got home from the meeting, I felt like I needed some kind of workout as I didn't do anything in the morning. I felt kind of like I needed a workout after being around all these sweets all day, so I got on the Stairmaster for an hour and 40 minutes at about 9:30 PM. No wonder I'm tired all the time ... !!

This week is a bit quieter, theoretically. I don't have much on the calendar, but am still keeping plenty busy. Yesterday late afternoon I volunteered at Community Food Response with food distribution. One set of volunteers goes out to area restaurants, grocery stores, etc. and picks up the donated food and brings it to Bethel Lutheran church.

It's then repackaged into containers which fit neatly into brown grocery bags.

It's given away to anyone who wants it. It's a great program as this food used to be thrown before this program was started.

We give each family unit enough for a meal (more generous if food is very plentiful that day, as it was yesterday) including an entree, vegetable, salad, sandwiches, soup, dessert. Food is distributed M-W-F from 5 to 6:30 PM. It's a wonderful program.

I'd made a pot of split pea soup for supper and enjoyed a bowl when I got home. I used the recipe on the back of the bag of peas (Hy-Vee brand I believe). I think it was the best split pea soup I'd ever had. Slightly different than the way I usually make it. It had 5 sliced carrots, no celery, a red bell pepper and I used 5 cloves of garlic rather than the one called for. It was delicious. I didn't even add any ham. And I didn't miss it a bit.

That, along with a salad made for a delicious dinner.

Here are a few Off-Season Striders photos that John sent from Saturday's run. Randy said it was a good-sized crowd that hung around for a while afterwards. Naturally, I wasn't there!! My absence seems to draw the biggest crowds. :-)

Looks like they had a lot of fun. Wish there were 2 of me sometimes. Most times, actually. Then I could get so much more done. Thanks John for sending the photos!

The Zoom!Yah!Yah! runners get periodic emails from race director Dick Daymont. This snippet appeared in one that arrived in our inboxes on Saturday. "...we do expect a good race with Renee "the cookie lady" Saxman having run the fastest 2009 time (3:42:30). This time on 1/10 would put Renee in the "Top 5" female ZYY times." Oh. My. Gosh. Now I feel like I'm expected to WIN this thing.  BTW: Ron Giles has the second fastest male time in this year's field. GO, RON!!!

We got about 4" of snow in the last 24 hours. I got some of it shovelled last night after delivering cookies to the neighbors.

This morning's 11.01 mile run was nice, but required Yak Trax on that new snow. Incredibly, the bike path had already been plowed when I got out there (highway 52 frontage road). Thank you Park and Rec!! If only the county had enough money to plow the rest of it (Bamber Valley Road around the west to 2nd St SW). :-( This evening I went out to the University Center indoor track to run a few laps while the others did speedwork (I did run 3 x 1/4 mile timed--I've definitly lost a bit of speed since the summer as they were about 1:30's.) There are public locker rooms adjacent to the track. Nice facility. Also out there were: Casey Graham, Marilee Hardyman, Tom Woo, Jim Mason, Roger Heil, Peter Maves and someone else I didn't know running with Peter.

That's Roger and Marilee in the top photo and Casey, Jim and Tom in the bottom photo. Bruce, Lisa and maybe Mark are running at 5:15. Right now my legs don't feel like the have another run in them so soon. Especially with the conditions outside. I'll see how I feel but I have a feeling I'll lift and then get in the pool. Another idea would be a ski in the afternoon... After the track, I got a few groceries and went to the mall. I think I'm done shopping now. Both places were pretty busy, probably in anticipation of the storm that's due sometime in the next day or 3. I finally had a bowl of chili just before 9 PM.

As promised, here is my reduced-fat Chex Mix recipe. It was on one of the Chex boxes several years ago but they don't print it any more. I also use the microwave variation. It's the same ingredients as regular Chex Mix but you use 3 Tbsp. of butter instead of 6. (80 calories per serving vs. 130 for regular). You're supposed to omit the nuts, but I still use them. The microwave instructions are: Melt butter. Stir in seasonings. Gradually stir in remaining ingredients until evenly coated. Microwave uncovered on high 5 to 6 minutes, thoroughly stirring every 2 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.

Well, it's nearly 11:00 and I'm about ready to pass out right on this keyboard. So ... good night. ;-)