Potato Cakes and admitting defeat

Two months ago, I signed up for a variety of races in an attempt to keep my running love alive post-marathon. Most of them are in 2011, but one was for the half-marathon race in Hamilton which is happening tomorrow – just shy of one month after Chicago.

After Chicago, I was so disappointed with my performance that I began to look at the upcoming half-marathon as an opportunity to redeem myself. I reasoned to myself that I’d seen some people run second races a month after the first one before, and since I basically ran Chicago at my LSD pace, I could think of it like a training run. I barely did anything during the first week after the marathon. To be frank, I wasn’t even sure my feet could fit into my running shoes because they were so beaten up. When I attempted to go for a run during the second week, it felt like my calves had been ripped to shreds. Then I began seeing a massage therapist, who informed me as she proceeded to invoke pain in areas I didn’t know even hurt, that my balance was off and that my quads and hamstrings were a complete mess. Apparently those muscles don’t complain until they are so far gone that you’re one hop, skip and a jump away from injury. Sigh.

Last Sunday, when it began to snow during my run, I realized how miserable I had been over the last few weeks. My legs were hurting whenever I ran, I was substituting long runs on an elliptical – a machine that I abhor  –  and for what? To run but “not race” a half-marathon just to prove something to myself? I know that Chicago did not represent all of the time I spent training throughout the summer. I know that there will be other opportunities, and that I will try again in the future. I also know, that I was/am exhausted and in desperate need of a break. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I stopped running midway through my run on Sunday. I just didn’t have it in me anymore. I felt pain in every step I took and I just wanted it to stop. I decided right then and there that I had to stop cornering myself into situations that would set me up for failure. Ironically, it also stopped snowing minutes after I stopped running. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I’ve decided not to run the race tomorrow. I think it is for the best in the long run.

I also decided to take the entire week off from running. I just can’t believe it’s taken me this long to recover from my marathon. Instead I’ve been doing as many yoga classes that I can cram into my schedule and I’ve been doing 1-2 spinning classes each week. I’m certain that I’ve lost a lot of the fitness I built up over the summer, but I’m confident that I can build it up again when I’m ready to. It’s definitely not the same, and I really miss running, but more than anything, I miss running without feeling pain. For now, I’m trying to be kind to my body by doing lower impact things that will allow my legs to heal. Having a few massages here and there can’t hurt either, right?

♦♦♦

You what else can’t hurt?

Potato Cakes

Though I don’t normally buy potatoes on my own, I had a bunch of potatoes that needed to be used up from my organic produce basket. I decided to try using same method to steam them that I use for vegetables by adding about 1 inch of water, bringing it to a boil, and adding a few chopped potatoes. A few minutes later, soft potatoes were ready for experimenting. Not quite as delicious as the roasted variety, but hey, it’s something different!

Potato cakes are incredibly easy and adaptable to your tastes. You start with a base of potatoes and some kind of binding agent. I used an egg and a few heaping teaspoons of peanut flour. Then you get to go crazy with your fillings and flavours.

I started with some chopped kim chee, leftover butternut squash (+ skin!), Sriracha, and chopped steamed broccoli.

Mix until everything is well incorporated.

Form into patties with your hands.

And cook on medium heat for a few minutes on each side.

Mmm, stack, photograph, and enjoy. Or you could skip feeling the need to provide photographic evidence of your late night “fast food” dinner and just move from cooking to eating.

And if you’re like me at all, you’ll realize that these taste even better with some dijon mustard.

A few days later, realize that nothing would please you more than to have more potato cakes. This time, I added chopped black olives, tahini, dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, dill, paprika, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes. What can I say? I like my food with a kick!

While these cooked, I wondered which ones I would like better.

I…. may have to make more to decide.

Really, I don’t think you can go wrong with these.

In fact, I recently received another bunch of potatoes from my organic food basket. Guess what’s going back on the menu?

Let there be cake. Potato cake. Go, make some and let me know what you think!

♦♦♦

Potato Cakes (method)

Ingredients:

  • 1-3 small potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2-3 tsp peanut flour
  • 1 egg
  • your favourite flavours: as you can see from above, I mixed tahni, dill, black olives and a variety of spices for one set of cakes, and kim chee, broccoli, and butternut squash for the other cakes.
  • coconut oil (for frying)

Directions:

  • In a medium pot, bring 1-2 inches of water to a boil, add chopped potatoes and cover. Allow to cook for about 20 minutes or so, the potatoes are finished when they can be easily pierced by a fork. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Add peanut flour (or regular flour/bread crumbs), egg, and whatever toppings suit your fancy (seriously!). You can’t go wrong because potatoes on their own can easily be adapted to taste great with whatever you put in it. Mix everything well and form into 4-5 patties.
  • In a large frying pan, heat coconut oil (any other oil works too) and fry each patty or cake for a few minutes on each side, flipping when a nice golden crust forms.
  • Enjoy!
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14 thoughts on “Potato Cakes and admitting defeat”

  1. Don’t worry! After my second half marathon, i could barely walk for two weeks. i had worn off all the cushioning in my already less-cushioned shoe. it was quite discouraging. Taking a break is never a bad thing!

    1. Yeah, oddly, it took me quite a while to recover from my second marathon as well! I was walking and jogging without pain a couple of days after scotia last year. Bah! PS. I hope all is going well with you for your upcoming marathon!!!

  2. Oh, I don’t think you’re defeated at all! You’ve made a really smart decision for your health and sanity. You’ve pushed your body REALLY hard this year. Maybe the marathon didn’t meet your expectations but you ran a MARATHON and completed months of hard core training in smoggy Toronto heat. If your body is telling you not to run, than the smartest thing for your long-term health, fitness and running prowess is to relax and switch gears. Plus it could be a good chance to develop other forms of fitness, cycling, yoga, swimming, etc.

    1. Thanks – I know you’re right… if only I could learn to appreciate the other forms of fitness as much as running! I really need to invest in a bike of some sort so that I can ride around the city. 🙂 In the meantime, I’m hoping that it’ll be cooler next summer in Toronto!

    1. Thank you, Haley! I have to admit that I have been enjoying the break more than I thought I would. I do miss running, but I’m hoping this break will help ensure that I will be able to train even harder next cycle. 🙂

  3. I think Ry will LOVE this recipe! Thanks!

    I’m currently struggling with the fact that I have lost most of my fitness from the marathon as well; I think it’s important to come to terms with the natural ‘cycle’ of a runner, that you will never be as fit in an ‘off-season’ as pre-marathon and that WE DID IT ONCE, WE CAN DO IT AGAIN! But this time, our bodies will remember our hard work and dedication and adapt a little bit faster – and hopefully a little bit more injury free!

    <3 Give me a FB shout whenever you want to talk, I have more than enough time sitting on my butt now, ha!

    1. Yes, I will have to repeat that in my head when I start from ground zero…….again. haha. When I’m running up those nasty hills next year, I’ll have to remind myself that once upon a time, I managed to do it so there’s no excuse to not do it again!

      Hope you’re healing well and eating lots of delicious food! If you do make the potato cakes, let me know how you both like them!

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