Monday, March 28, 2011


If you don't think you have it in you to run, I would think again. Now granted, I really enjoy running (crazy, I know) and my mom frequently likes to tell me that "humans were only made to run if they are being chased," but nonetheless, I still run. Why, you may ask? It's more so about the feeling after the run because quite frankly, running hurts. Of course, there is the all important "runner's high" and it is most definitely real. I usually get my first kick of runner's high at around mile 4. You have this feeling that you're invincible and could totally kick out 20 more....until you hit about the 9th mile and are wondering where the second runner's high is hanging out. And it doesn't least that second kick never came for me this past weekend.

Here's where I'm going with this. I've now run two half marathons that have been pretty much the same course called the River City Half Marathon that runs along the American River in the Sacramento Area. Now I should preface, I run half marathons, I doubt I'll ever run a full marathon. My body just wasn't meant for 26.2 miles. Last year, my first and only concern was just finishing the race as it was my first half marathon, and the longest I would have ever run consecutively. Well, I finished under 2 hours!! I was ecstatic! It was a great run. I felt amazing the entire time, and that never happens during any run. There's always some part along the way where I'm pep talking myself, but strangely, I enjoyed the entire run. The course was flat, the weather was perfect, and the scenery was serene.

Crossing the finish line last year...whoop whoop!

Soo, I decided I'd run the same race this year. I signed up and started training at the end of December. I knew I had extremely busy months ahead with family events, friends' birthdays, weddings, baptisms, etc. so I knew training was going to be tough to squeeze in. It all went down hill not a month from the day of the half. I had some sort of pelvic injury, not too terrible but enough that I decided to stay off it and then ultimately decided that running was not worth injuring myself further.

Well, that thought flew out the window the Friday before the race. I decided there was no way I wasn't going to at least start the race. I trained a heck of a lot, registered, and had a set goal in mind. But I told myself the race would have to be for fun. No going out there to kill myself or beat my time from last year (which was my original goal).

Waddya know, here I am below finishing the last leg of the race. Wasn't gonna let that orange dude back there beat me....kicked it into gear to finish strong...cause I was hurtin and wanted it to be over! I know, my hat looks ridiculous. As you can see, the weather wasn't as bright and sunny as last year.

I ended running all 13.1 with a couple stops to stretch the hips. Again, I was ecstatic to have finished. I happened to look back at my training calendar after the race...didn't realize that I had "stayed off my feet" for 20 days prior to the race. Still not sure how I completed that one...but I know for one thing, a lot of running is completely mental and all in the head.

Ultimately the real reason I run, just like one of the greatest runners, Steve Prefontaine said, "You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement." A great sense of achievement always comes after doing something that is physically and mentally challenging, and to me, running 13.1 miles and all the added miles to train for it, was totally worth it.

Sport drink of choice...Pedialyte!!

And of course, I had one of my best friends with me through the whole thing. And she kicked major a$$!

Both Stef and I had our biggest fans there cheering us on the entire way (through text messages ;-) They are the best cheerleaders!
Until next year...I'm gonna keep on running :-)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cake Pops!

Only recently have I really desired to learn how to make cake pops. It was after a baptism where they had cake pops as the party favor did I learn how freaking amazing they are! I always thought they looked extremely difficult to conquer (and I'm in no way saying they are the easiest thing to make) but it made so much more sense after following the detailed visual instructions from Ashley Stock's blog. So with her expertise, I went to town... literally.

Had to stop at Michael's for a few supplies: candy melts, cake pop sticks, and styrofoam (I'm gonna keep you guessing as to why styrofoam is needed).

Candy Melts

So you bake your cake as usual (as the box tells you), let it cool, and dump the thing in a bowl with half a container of your choice frosting. I would go with the same flavor as your cake, but but it's all about creativity so whatever floats your boat. Then mash away! Once mashed, roll the cake into 1-inch balls.

Now here is where I'm going to insert some things I've learned. Use less of a roll and more of a compact. If you roll the cake until its a solid ball, you've pretty much got yourself cake dough all over again. I didn't realize this until all my cake was in the form of highly dense rolled cake balls. So a more compacting technique may get you a cake-ier consistency which, I would think is what it's all about.

Technique tip: The balls should be somewhat small as a small carboard stick needs to withhold the cake balls weight (another reason you don't want dense balls ;-)

Confetti Cake with Rainbow Chip Frosting

Once the cake balls are formed, the sticks must be placed. So, microwave the candy melts until smooth adding a large spoonful of shortening for thinner consistency. Dab the stick into the melted candy and place in the cake ball. Should look like the picture below once sticks are placed.
Technique time: After sticks are placed, use a styrofoam base as a holder for the cake pops. The stick should be able to harden to the cake ball in this right side up fashion. Because my cake balls were so dense and large, the stick fell right through the cake ball despite the candy melt "glue" to hold it in place.

Once the candy melt glue has hardened to withhold the cake balls weight you are ready for dipping and covering the entire cake ball with the candy coating.
Now, as you can see below, I have not perfected the "covering of the cake ball", so I really don't have any techniques tips for this part of the project. However, I can tell you that the consumers have thus far loved the extra glob of candy coating. I had to dump this extra glob on so my cake ball would finally stick to the stick, but the presentation was/is awful! With some practice, I will master the candy coating adding sprinkles, colored icing, and more decortions!
So ta-dah! Here they are all set in my cake tupperware ready for my consumers at work.