Soundtrack of my Life - The Marathon Playlist

I don't normally run with music, but I put together a playlist just in case I need a little something to get me through the last six miles this Saturday.

It's Time by Imagine Dragons
I'm opening with this one. Great beat and lyrics

So this is what you meant
When you said that you were spent
And now it's time to build from the bottom of the pit
Right to the top
Don't hold back

It's time to begin, isn't it?
I get a little bit bigger but then I'll admit
I'm just the same as I was
Now don't you understand
That I'm never changing who I am

Chasing the Sun by Sara Bareilles
It's no secret I am a HUGE Sara fan, so many of her songs will be on my playlist. I know all the lyrics and can sing them if I need to keep my mind off things.

You said, remember that life is
Not meant to be wasted
We can always be chasing the sun!
So fill up your lungs and just run
But always be chasing the sun!
The video is from a live performance of the song, and as usual, better than the studio recording.

Counting Stars by One Republic
I love that the song starts with an acoustic version of the chorus

Lately I've been, I've been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I've been, I've been prayin' hard
Said no more counting dollars
We'll be counting stars
Yeah, we'll be counting stars

Glamour Puss by KT Tunstall
Off her Tiger Suit Album, this song rocks with a ton of sass and attitude.

Long legs ... taking you somewhere
Catch your reflection in a window pane
The universe is startin' to feel ya
Drinking tequila like it's the name of the game

Well you know it hasn't happened yet
You're relying on your next cheque
I know that you're a glamour puss
My explanation's useless
So you chew, chew on the root
In your beautiful high heeled shoes
Miss Glamour Glamour Puss

Love Runs Out by One Republic
I guess I'm on a bit of a One Republic kick - I discovered this new song while streaming One Republic's Native Album, which has been re-released as an extended version. I downloaded the song from iTunes after a few listens. It is amazing and totally fits the running theme.
I'll be your light, your match, your burning sun,
I'll be the bright and black that's making you run.
And I feel alright, and we'll feel alright,
'Cause we'll work it out, yeah we'll work it out.
I'll be doin' this, if you ever doubt,
'til the love runs out, 'til the love runs out.

I'll be your ghost, your game, your stadium.
I'll be your fifty thousand clapping like one.
And I feel alright, and I feel alright,
'Cause I worked it out, yeah I worked it out.
I'll be doin' this, if you ever doubt,
'til the love runs out, 'til the love runs out.

I got my mind made up and I can't let go.
I'm killing every second 'til it saves my soul.
I'll be running, I'll be running,
'til the love runs out, 'til the love runs out.
And we'll start a fire, and we'll shut it down,
'til the love runs out, 'til the love runs out.

Some of the other songs on my list, in no particular order:

Don't Stop Believing - The Glee Version (because it is an a capella rendition of the song)
Shake it out - Florence and The Machine
Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People
Let the Rain - Sara Bareilles
Parking Lot - Sara Bareilles
Locked out of Heaven - Bruno Mars
Stone in Love - Journey
Best Day of my Life - American Authors
I Can Talk - Two Door Cinema
Pompeii - Bastille (yes, it's overplayed, but catchy)
Clarity - Zedd, feat. Foxes


Running With The Professors

If someone had told me a year ago I would be running regularly with not one, not two, but three partners, I would have scoffed at the notion with a "no way - never". Afterall, in all my years of running (20+), it's always been a solo gig. Running has always been a refuge of solitude for me - an escape from the chaos of every day life. I never wanted to impose my pace on another person and felt the same way. Plus, I didn't know too many runners who liked running at 5am.

So, how I ended up with 3 running partners seems pretty random now - several chance encounters, common pasts, one common goal and voila - a running quartet. I now regularly run with three guys I call "The Professors". I know that may conjure up visions of old men in tweed jackets, but these guys aren't too old and certainly don't wear tweed (that I know of - I've only seen them in neon yellow jackets). Naresh, Andy and Dan are PhDs and Professors at the University. Obviously, I am the "one of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong" on SO many levels here (yeah, I run the slowest, too).

Naresh and Andy have run together for years. Andy and I happen to share a common past - we graduated from the same class at MIT, but somehow our paths never crossed back in college - weird because I know his wife (she also graduated from MIT) and when we play the "do you know so and so" game, it's always "yeah, I know him / her". Dan joined in - he is the fastest runner of the group, attempting to qualify for Boston. Naresh, Dan and I live less than a mile apart in the same subdivision, so it has been easy for the three of us to meet up in the cold, dark mornings.

Running with a group has its advantages - there's always interesting conversation (Andy always recounts some hilarious circumstance), so the time and miles pass by quickly. Having people to run with this harsh winter kept me on track with the running program. If I didn't have someone expecting me to show up on the snowy, cold streets at 5:30, I would have run a shorter distance inside on the treadmill or stayed in bed. It's peer pressure at its best - we've braved crazy blizzard conditions, sub zero temperatures, and drenching cold rains together. They've watched me slip, fall on the ice and helped me get back up. Andy complains a lot and we get to listen. We've also run through the soft snow, viewed several beautiful sunrises and watched the cold winter morph into spring (even if it doesn't feel like spring yet).

I know that running with a group of guys is a little "different" (I tend to get weird looks from my non running female friends when I tell them my weekend running plans and who I'm running with), but I'm an engineer and have been surrounded by men most of my life - I'm used to it. At the end of the day, we're simply runners driven by the same inexorable goal to go further or faster. Achieving those goals together has resulted in a special camaraderie, one I wouldn't trade.

Sorry, no photos of my and my running buddies, because we've never taken one. Maybe after this weekend....


Why I Run

Seen Along My Run

To feel the air in my lungs
To hear my feet hit the ground in a steady cadence
To see the moon and stars above - to know that I am so blessed when I see a shooting star
To watch the morning sky turn imperceptibly from black to deep blue to blue grey
To view the magic of the rising sun - the spectrum of colors from blue to the ball of yellow, an arc peeking over the horizon

To hear the birds chirping in the early hours of spring and summer
To see the bunny scamper across the lawn
To see the red fox run along the watery ravine
To watch the blue heron spread its majestic wings and fly away
To hear the geese honking as they fly above

To smell the lilacs and peonies and know that it is May
To smell the honeysuckle and know that it is June
To smell the crisp air and dried leaves of fall
To see the glimmer of dew on the grass in summer and fall
To be amazed by the layer of fog over the water as the golden sun beams through, casting shimmering beads of light on the water's surface.
To crunch over freshly fallen snow as it continues to softly fall, enveloped in stillness

To feel the wind howl across my face
To be battered by rain and sleet
To feel the inside my nose freeze immediately as I inhale the sub Zero air
To let gravity draw me down effortlessly on the downhills, to work my butt off on the inevitable uphill that follows
To feel my legs, heavy and sore, carry me forward even though I want to stop
To grow stronger with each stride and subsequent run
To enjoy the camaraderie that comes with running with friends
To feel that runner's high

I run to know acutely that I am alive

1. Good Morning Run #shirleyruns #seenonmyrun #sky #sunrise, 2. Still Waiting for Spring #seenonmyrun #morning #aroundtown, 3. The Running Trail #snow #snowglobe, 4. Loved Running Through This Part of the Trail #runchat #wildflowers, 5. 189/365+1 Great Morning for a Run. Inspired by @tmsweet. #sunrise #sky #clouds, 6. Mile Four #11miles #11/11/11 #running #chambana, 7. Clear Skies and Path, 8. Mile 2, 9. Coming into The Light #run #road #sky #goodmorning #morningruns, 10. Finished up - 20.2 miles today #run #selfie


A Week of Running Posts

1. A Snowy, Cold and Windy #run Today., 2. Take Off, 3. The Finish - Eleven Miles #11miles #11/11/11 #running, 4. After Nine Miles #selfportrait, 5. Well Earned, 6. Runners, 7. The View on My Saturday Run, 8. Post 21 Mile #run #shirleyruns #selfie, 9. Early Morning Run, 10. Run in the Ocean #fromwhereistand #brooksrunning

In honor of "Marathon Week", I will be sharing a series of running themed posts.

Why is it "Marathon Week"? Of course, today is Patriot's Day and the annual running of the Boston Marathon.
Closer to home, I will be running my first marathon this Saturday. In the world news, eyes will turn to Boston. Locally, there will be the hype and fanfare surrounding the big event that attracts close to 20,000 participants. I'll obsess over the fact that my training program only has me running a max of 3 miles before the race and I'll get antsy with nervous energy. I'll stalk the Weather channel forecast, praying for good weather (right now it looks to be a low of 49degF and a high of 64degF on the day of the race - slightly warmer than I'd like it, but really not too bad). I'll carbo load with friends, hopefully get enough sleep and hopefully just relax during the run.

If you want to read some of my previous running posts, here is a small collection:

My First Half Marathon
My Second Half Marathon
Running Inspiration
The Muddy 5K
11 Miles on 11/11/11
Running That First Mile


Even the Blackbird Knows It's Spring

Safe Haven

We'll just get through these next two days (snow expected tonight, ugh) and continue with Spring, please.

The photo reminds me of a great song, Blackbird, from the Beatles

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free.

Blackbird fly Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird fly Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Performed here by Paul McCartney


Spring Projects

We're taking advantage of the wonderful, spring-like weather and working around the house. Scott is here for several days and I've taken time off from work. We've been busy -

  • The cars have been washed and vacuumed.
  • Scott changed the oil in all three cars, using synthetic oil. This is an important detail, as the local "quick change oil place" uses regular oil which results in lower fuel efficiency. You can get synthetic oil at the "quick change oil place", but that oil change will run you $80.
  • The window blinds I ordered two weeks ago arrived Monday. I installed them Wednesday and Thursday. These new blinds have a top down option, which is great. Better yet, they actually function properly (the old ones did not).
  • The old grill has been completely dismantled and disposed of.
  • The new grill was moved from the garage to its warm weather spot on the back patio.
  • Scott instructed Brian on how to use the hack saw to break down the dried out Christmas tree. Normally, the Christmas tree gets picked up by city recycling, but each time they were scheduled to pick up, the tree was buried under a huge mound of snow and ice. Now it will go via the Spring refuse pick up.
Today's project - installing a double drapery rod for our 4-wide bank of windows in the family room. I've always put this off because the expanse is so wide. When we first moved into the house, I could only find rods up to 120" in length - not long enough. Now they are available up to 144" long and available at the local Lowes. I figured the job would take an hour - the instructions stated an estimate of 20 minutes. I'm pretty handy with the power drill, so the mounting hardware went up without any issues. Then I went to assemble the rods which commenced what seemed like the longest, most frustrating 90 minutes of my life.
I won't go into any details, but here are my Facebook statuses that accompanied the experience:
I may have a degree in chemical engineering from MIT, but installing this dang drapery rod is kicking my butt! The instructions suck.
Apparently, I should have studied mechanical engineering at MIT instead.
It took two chemical engineers to figure out the drapery rod installation. We ended up disassembling the rods, finials to get it to work. And we didn't get into a fight while trying to figure it all out!
Now I need a beer or glass of wine!
But I can't have a beer or glass of wine because I have to pick up my son from school. Instead, I'm drinking a green kale smoothie. I feel totally lame....
I had some prosecco after picking up the boy from school and feel much better.

Well, it's done now, so the next step is picking out drapes. Wish me luck!

This week's tool of choice - the power drill.
Tool Of Choice #drill #homeimprovement
What is it about the high pitched rev of the power drill that makes you feel, well, powerful?

My reward after struggling with something as simple as a drapery rod - a little bit of bubbly Prosecco

Wishing you a nice weekend! It will be warm here and I wish the same for you!


Chinese Fried Dumpling Recipe

Friend Shelly requested the recipe for dumplings I posted about in my last post. I "more or less" use the Fried Dumpling "Guo-Tie" from Pei Mei's Chinese Cookbook Volume 1, a classic, must-have cook book in any Chinese household. There are three volumes, but I only own one - my mother had all three and based on the condition of the physical books, volume one was the most used.


I noted my changes in Italics below

3/4 lb ground pork (I use 1 pound)
4 oz shelled shrimp, diced (I don't use shrimp, hence the increased amount of pork.)
3 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked, minced
10 oz Napa cabbage (I have substituted a pound package of frozen chopped spinach)
1 scallion, minced (I tend to use more)
1 ts ginger, minced (I tend to use more)
2 Tb soy sauce
1/2 ts salt
2 Tb sesame oil
~50 store bought potsticker wrappers (NEVER!) OR
ingredients for homemade wrappers (Always):
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup boiling water
1/4 cup cold water, as needed

1. to make wrappers, add boiling water to flour and mix with chopsticks. slowly add cold water a little at a time, kneading with hands until dough is formed. cover with cloth and let stand 15 mins.
2. mix pork, shrimp, mushrooms, scallion, ginger, soy sauce, salt, sesame oil until thickened.
3. blanch cabbage in boiling water ~ 2 mins, plunge into cold water and squeeze dry. chop finely, squeeze dry again, add to pork mix. OR finely chop raw cabbage, add 1 ts salt, mix to combine, let stand 20 mins, squeeze dry and add to pork mixture. (I always blanch the cabbage. If using spinach, thaw it and squeeze dry. The spinach is great if you can't find Napa or if you want to save some time)
4. if making wrappers, remove dough to floured board and knead until smooth. divide into 40 pieces. flatten each piece by hand and roll into 2 1/2″ round thin pancake.
5. fold potstickers: put 1 Tb filling in center, fold over to make a half circle, and pinch edges together. carefully stretch a little longer.
6. heat pan very hot. add 2 Tb oil. when oil is hot enough, add enough dumplings to cover bottom of pan (in pretty pattern). cook until bottoms are golden brown, about 1 min. add 2/3 to 1 cup water, cover, steam until water is gone. fry another 1/2 min.
7. place serving plate over frying pan. invert quickly. prepare remaining portions, serve.

My General Notes:

  • Dumplings are not something one simply "whips up" for dinner. The process is labor intensive and time consuming, but totally worth the time and effort.
  • You must prepare the wrappers from scratch. Purchased "Pot Sticker Wrappers" from the store are totally different in consistency. They are really Won Ton Wrappers and just wrong for authentic Guo-Tie. Heck, if you are going to use purchased wrappers, just order take out.
  • Home made dumplings are more fun to make with friends and family. Whenever I get together with my sisters or parents, we take a day out to make dumplings. I've had my book club friends help me on two occasions - the time just flies, the process doesn't feel like "work" and everyone feasts on delicious food they helped create.
My Preparation Notes:
  • I always double the recipe. Even before my kids turned into voracious, all consuming teenagers, they could eat at least 20 dumplings apiece. I can eat at least 20, probably more like 30 in one sitting (yeah, we're pigs)
  • I prepare the meat filling the night before.
  • For the wrappers (that you MUST make from scratch), divide the ball of dough in half, then into quarters. Work with one section of dough, creating a long rope, about an inch in circumference. Then divide the rope into 10-12 sections and roll each piece out into the round pancake wrapper.
  • Once you have some wrappers made, your helpers can start wrapping the dumplings.
  • I generally make 40-50 dumplings, then cook them.
  • Rinse and repeat, eat and be merry!
Back in 2009, I posted my family's dumpling making Sunday - you can read about that here --> New Year's Dumplings

They say food brings people together. There is nothing more memorable than creating, cooking and enjoying good food with great friends and family.



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