Next Race, Next Goals; The Midnight Circus; & Healthy Eating & Salmon Cakes

Next Race, Next Goals
Well, I’ve signed up for my next race: the New Year’s Day 5K. Yes, I know it’ll be January and potentially cold and snowy and all that bad stuff, but I wanted to do something to kick the new year off right. The greater issue is not what the weather may be like at that time, but the face that I’ve fallen deeply out of love with running. Just this weekend I was stamping my foot and insisting to Mindy that I hated running and that I never wanted to speak to running again.

I think the main problem is that I’ve hit my first plateau and I don’t know how to deal with it. I’ve seen steady improvement since I started running in April and now it’s just the same thing over and over again. Long (for me) runs are a bore. Shorter runs aren’t getting any faster. I suppose the mature thing would be to continue and push through it, but part of me really wants to just give up. At this point, I’m not quite sure which side will win. Regardless, I’ll be out in Lincoln Park on New Year’s Day, pounding the pavement in the frigid cold, trying to win some semblance of personal pride.

In other fitness news, I’ve set two other major goals for myself: 1) to do one freakin’ pull up; and 2) to master the splits. Both are circus related. I so wish I had enough disposable income to take both flying trapeze and silks class regularly, but at the current moment that is not the case and I’ve decided to stick with taking flying trapeze once a month. Owing to what I learned during my first silks class, however, I know that being able to do pull ups and the splits will greatly enhance my silks potential. They’ll help for trapeze, too, but since flying trapeze tricks take advantage of momentum, pull ups aren’t quite as important as they are for the silks (although a good splits will make things look a lot prettier). Thus, while I wait until finances become more available, I’m going to work on these two fundamentals in the meantime.

For the pull ups goal, I recently ordered this fantastic looking pull up bar, which doesn’t need to be screwed into a door frame at all. I haven’t received it yet, but I’m really looking forward to trying it out and seeing how far I can progress. Right now the number of pull ups I can do is exactly zero, so, you know, I’ve got nowhere to go but up (literally!).

For the splits goal, I’ve been doing this stretching routine from Blogilates since the beginning of September. While I’m still nowhere near being able to do the splits, I’ve seen enough improvement in how far I can move my legs that I have hopes for splits in the future. I am now able to do lizard pose, which I couldn’t before, and pigeon pose with my front leg at a 90-degree angle instead of just folded under my body. I can also put my legs in a wide enough stance such that I can bend over and easily place my forearms on the ground. I couldn’t do that at a yoga class a few months ago, so it’s easy enough to see my progress, even if every single stretch still hurts me and makes me wonder if I’ll ever be able to do the splits.

The Midnight Circus
If my motivation was waning in any way, I received a jolt of it this weekend when I went to the Midnight Circus in Margate Park. The circus itself is small, but the talent level is not. If you have the opportunity to see this circus, I highly recommend it. Here are some photos of the performances:

Rope:

Rope

Static Trapeze:

Static Trapeze

Lyra (this is why I need to learn to do the splits):

Lyra

A very bendy girl:

Bending

The most beautiful pole dance I have ever seen (yes, a beautiful pole dance):

Pole Dance

Hand balancing:

Hand Balancing

Reason #2 to take circus classes: circus dudes are hot. You can’t necessarily tell from this photo, but this guy proves my point, as does pretty much every guy I’ve worked with in trapeze class. (Reason #1 is the awesome things you’ll do that you never thought were possible. That trumps hot dudes every time.)

Healthy Eating & Salmon Cakes
As I stated in my last post, it’s time for me to put down the cookies and get back on a healthy eating plan. Sure, I’ll still make my decadent desserts and ice creams for the meetups, but outside of that I want to focus more on healthy recipes that taste great.

I’ve been reading a lot of the archives at Nerd Fitness lately (hence the pull up link above). What I love about this site is Steve’s approach to fitness: not one thing works for everyone. You have to find what works best for you and do that. That’s been my exact approach ever since I started working out for real in college. Same with food. I don’t follow any one particular diet, except for the one purported by Michael Pollan: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. I fall off that bandwagon every now and again (oh, Honey BBQ Frito Twists, why you taste so good???) but because I don’t think of anything as 100% off limits, it’s always pretty easy to get back on it.

Steve’s a champion of the Paleo diet and I’ve been reading up on what he has to say about that. While this baking obsessed chica is by no means ready to swear off grains or dairy (flour and butter being my, well, bread and butter!), I have to admit that the Paleo diet kind of makes sense. If nothing else, it’s a reminder to me that meals should consist of a hearty amount of vegetables or fruit combined with a moderate amount of protein and a small amount of dairy or grain (if you’re going to eat those, which I am). Desserts should occur in limited quantities.

My first thought was to do a pumpkin soup with sage and bacon. It was a variation on a butternut squash soup that I like, except that I wanted to try to work with real pumpkin. It came out fine, but for the amount of work that went into it (have you ever tried peeling a pumpkin?), I know it’s not something I’ll ever try again, especially since butternut squash is so delicious and this was only okay. Fail…ish.

I turned next to this recipe I found in my Runner’s World special report on “Superfoods for Runners.” It remains debatable as to whether I’m actually a runner anymore, but regardless, the food suggestions are solid. The idea of “salmon cakes” may sound weird, but they are surprisingly moist and delicious and not at all fishy tasting like you might expect canned salmon to be. I paired the cakes with a salad of mixed greens with lemon-dill dressing and had a great weeknight dinner, with enough leftover to take to work for lunch. The recipe is not Paleo owing to the oats, but there’s absolutely nothing bad about these ingredients. Unlike the pumpkin soup, this merits repeat appearances in my kitchen.

Salmon Cakes

1 can wild salmon, drained
½ cup frozen chopped spinach or chopped, steamed baby spinach
½ red bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon chopped dill
juice from ¼ lemon
½ tsp lemon zest
¼ cup quick cook rolled oats
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Shape into 6 cakes (I used an ice cream scooper) and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 375º for 20 minutes.

Makes 2 servings.

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