This past weekend required a lot of prep work. Months of sacrifice, sore legs, tired feet, and lots of laundry. Yep, I ran my third half marathon! The inaugural Dolittle full and half was held in Waukesha, WI on Sept. 25. Chris dropped me off for the 8am start.
We headed out on the Glacial Drumlin trail, where the entire out-and-back route was run. It was SO GORGEOUS. The weather was perfect: slightly cloudy with a high of 65 degrees. The trail was clean and flat and wide enough that I never felt crowded.
Couldn’t ask for a better day or path!
Mid-stride. Of course I know how to pose while running!
My thighs started feeling sore halfway in. Hitting the turn-around point was revitalizing, but the pain persisted. And then I started to feel a twinge in my knee. At this point, I was walking more than I was running, or at least that’s how it seemed. At about mile 10, I decided that it was alright to feel the pain now, because THIS is what I had trained so long for! So, I consciously let the pain wash over me for five seconds, after which I told myself that it’s all in my head and that I could get through to the end. This worked, but only for a little while. I knew my time was no where near what I wanted. I kept going, with the mile markers motivating me further.
Finally, at mile 12, I put away my earbuds, as it’s best to experience the final mile and finish line with all the senses. I pushed through, passed people on the sidelines cheering, and gave it all I had to finish strong and with a smile on my face.
Rocking out as I crossed the finish line!
Chris and my mom were at the finish line, waiting with cameras at the ready. Some gatorade and a handful of fruit tasted so darn good!
The medal is really pretty!
We headed off to brunch where I shamelessly gobbled up a veggie omelet, sweet potato hash browns, toast and a beer. The rest of the day was spent mostly on the couch.
Except for dinner. I was sooo hungry by dinner time, that I wanted something substantial. A beautiful butternut squash had been sitting on our counter for a week, waiting to be crafted into a delicious meal. I combined that with pasta and two (!) cheeses for an amazing, comforting, and easy dinner.
I call this a “bake” rather than mac & cheese, because it doesn’t use béchamel sauce as a base. Simply boil the squash, puree it with the other sauce ingredients, mix in pasta, and bake to create a slight crust. Whether you’re refueling from a long run or just looking for a tasty, filling meal, this is where it’s at!
Cheesy Butternut Squash Pasta Bake
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 8 oz whole wheat or gf pasta – a small shape like macaroni, penne or rotini work best
- ¼ C milk
- ½ C reserved pasta water
- 2 tbsp butter
- Sea salt & black pepper
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp thyme
- 3 oz aged cheddar, shredded
- 2 oz gouda, chopped small
- Additional paprika to sprinkle on top
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8×8” baking dish; set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add all of the cubed butternut squash, cover, and boil 12 minutes. Remove the cover if it threatens to boil over. Drain in a colander.
Refill that same pot with water; add salt this time and bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
While the pasta cooks, transfer the drained squash to a large bowl. Add the milk, butter, spices and pasta water. Use an immersion blender to puree until completely smooth. Alternatively, use a stand blender to puree.
Stir in the cheeses, and then the cooked pasta. Transfer to your prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with paprika for some added color. Bake at 400 for 15 min, uncovered.
Serve and enjoy!