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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Olive Oil Tomato Basil Fettuccine

I love feeling connected to an enormous community knowing that I share a common bond with millions of other people in the world.  I love being involved in an activity that clears my brain and helps me feel accomplished every single time I place one foot in front of another.  I just love to run.  I love planning out routes.  I love researching new shoes.  I love meeting new running friends.  I love perusing running race expos.  I love thanking the volunteers and race organizers for their amazing help.  But, most of all, I love sitting inside on a beautiful day, looking out at the sun, and counting down the minutes until I can go out for my almost-daily run.  In my life, a day without running is like a day without air.

Some people find this weird.  "You're not even fast."  "You're a middle of the packer."  "You're constantly injured."  "You're going to need a hip or knee replacement."  "What benefit does running give you?"

The truth is: (1) No, I am not fast.  I am comfortably paced.  (2) Indeed I am a middle of the packer, sometimes even a back of the packer.  (3)  I am constantly injured, but I can manage my injuries.  (4)  No comment.  (5)  I cannot think of anything that running doesn't do for me.  And really, #5 is the only one that matters.

Running is my therapy.  It gives me, a slow middle of the packer with relentless injuries, a sense of purpose.  There are so many people out there in this world that can't run; that can't be active for one reason or another, so every single time I am out there, I am reminded of this.  I run because I can run.  But more importantly, I run because I smile when I run.  Well, most days.

Running endurance events has become increasingly popular over the past decade.  When I signed up for my first marathon back in 2006, I had absolutely no idea about the running community that existed out there.  Hundreds of thousands of people run half-marathons and full marathons each year.  Millions more are accomplishing shorter 5k and 10k races.  And, I find it pretty damn awesome that some of those folks are famous chefs.  Did you know that Gordon Ramsay is an avid marathoner and has finished the south Africa 54-mile Comrades ultramarathon 3 times?  That, is impressive.

Runners obsess over carbs during their training regime and before the big event.  It's fitting because running burns nearly 100 calories (this is an approximate number for the average person, your specific number will vary for age, sex & size) for each mile.  If you're out there for 26.2 miles, that's nearly 2,600 some calories burned, at a minimum, just for the race alone.  You better be eating right, and you better be refueling/rehydrating right, or you're not going to be going anywhere.

I'm at about week 4 now for my training for the upcoming Twin Cities marathon.  At the same time, I'm training parallel for the upcoming Disneyland Half-Marathon in September.  The whole family is heading out to participate.  Mom and I will be completing the 5k on Saturday.  Then Dad, Erica, Erica's boyfriend Bo, Ron, and I will be completing the half-marathon on Sunday.  It's Ron's first endurance running event, so we're celebrating our weekly weekend long runs with carb-filled pasta dinners.  This one is incredible.  I'm going to toot my own horn here about 6 times because I basically prepped the recipe all by myself.  Granted, I had help from some athletic chefs from a cookbook titled, The Athlete's Palate Cookbook.  But, the recipe I ultimately came up with was kind of my own measurements and ingredients.

The pasta was purchased at the farmers market this past weekend.  Holy buckets, it's amazing.  I highly recommend checking out your specialty section of the grocery store to find some kind of fresh, unique pasta.  Please, PLEASE, PLEASE do not use boxed pasta for this meal.
Olive Oil Tomato Basil Fettuccine
adapted from a number of places
  • 8-10 oz. cooked chicken, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 2/3 cup sun-dried tomato halves
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 8 oz. fresh pasta (We use the Sunrise Creative Gourmet Tomato Basil Fettuccine)
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 t dried basil
  • 1 t minced onion
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • salt
  • 1/8 t red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 T pine nuts
  1. Cook chicken (I used a boil method, but you can prep however you wish).  Chop and set aside.
  2. Place sun dried tomato halves in bowl and pour hot water over tomatoes.  Cover and let sit for about an hour, or until tomatoes are soft.
  3. In the last few minutes of the chicken, cook pasta according to package directions, to al dente.
  4. While pasta is cooking, whisk chicken broth, olive oil, garlic, and seasonings in a large bowl.
  5. Drain tomato halves and mix in bowl broth/oil blend.
  6. Stir chicken in broth/oil blend.
  7. Once pasta is cooked, drain and transfer to bowl with tomatoes, chicken and broth/oil.
  8. Immediately stir in 1/4 c grated cheese, stirring to coat all ingredients.
  9. Serve in bowls and sprinkle with pine nuts.

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