Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Communion Sugar Cookies

I know it's been a while since my last post and I have a lot of things to write about this week especially after my 4 day camping trip in Acadia National Park.  First though, I have an entry from a few weeks ago that I would like to post.

Since Thanksgiving I haven't really baked or decorated anything and I was itching to pick it back up again.  I've been following this food blog for weeks now and I have been dying to try one of Annie's delicious-looking recipes.  I decided to start with a simple sugar cookie recipe which didn't turn out to be as simple as I had hoped...

The recipe calls for real vanilla beans which cost about $13 for two beans.  I decided to go ahead and buy them to see if they would make a difference in the taste.  I creamed the butter and the confectioner's sugar together (this time remembering to let the butter sit out so it would reach room temperature) and then added the egg, the vanilla, and the lemon zest.  I had never even seen a vanilla bean before, so I laid out a piece of wax paper so I wouldn't lose a single seed form this 6 and a half dollar bean.  Contrary to what I had expected, the seeds were all stuck together like a paste inside the bean, so I just put the shell between my finger and a spoon and scraped the seeds out.  Luckily, the seeds stuck to the butter in the bowl and it wasn't hard to get them off of the spoon or my fingers.

I mixed the rest of the ingredients together and was left with a big sticky ball of dough.  I wrapped it in plastic wrap and stuck it in the fridge with a note that said "don't touch" and left it in there for a couple of hours.  I came back from work and took the cookie dough out of the fridge and floured up a board.  I had never rolled out cookie dough before so I just dove right in with my roller and used way too much flour for fear of the dough sticking to everything.  I definitely didn't give the dough enough time to defrost after taking it out of my fridge and it started breaking apart in chunks under my rolling pin.  I put it back together and let it warm up for about a minute and tried again.  This worked slightly better and I had about 16 cookies when I was finished.  I always used the non-stick tinfoil to bake on but I especially noticed with these cookies that the tinfoil would brown the bottom and the top still would be a little doughy.  The cookies also spread a little and didn't have a crisp shape like the cookie pictured below.  I made some cookies at a later date with one of these silpats and they came out evenly colored and cooked and slid right off the mat.  And they're relatively cheap!  I will definitely have to order some before my next baking extravaganza.

The next part of the process was decorating the cookies.  I used this recipe for the royal icing and it's never failed me.  Making royal icing with a handheld mixer is a pain.  Whenever I used my mixer I would sit in front of the television for about 15 minutes waiting for my icing to stiffen up.  However, I made the icing at someone else's house with their stand mixer and it was phenomenal.  The trick to making royal icing perfect is to add the water 1 tablespoon at a time, which is much easier with a stand mixer.  I knew the icing was a perfect consistency when I could scrape the spatula across the bottom of the bowl and the icing would stay in place.  Also, when the beater pulls away from the rest of the icing it will form peaks.  What I should have done next was take a spoonful and try to pipe some icing to make sure it wasn't too thick, that way I could go back and add more water if necessary.  However, it wasn't until I had committed to a full bag of yellow icing that I realized the icing was way too thick.  I was too stubborn to put the whole thing back in the bowl and add more water so I told myself that as I kept piping and my hands warmed up the bag the icing would be easier to work with.  It wasn't.  Moral of the story, just go back and add more water.

The next step was to make the color flow icing.  I went back to my white royal icing that I had put aside and added a few drops of water and mixed it in.  Color flow icing is used to fill a large area with an even amount of color, so it needs to have the right consistency in order to flood the area.  After mixing drops of water into the royal icing, you want to pick up the spoon and let the color flow icing drip back into the bowl.  When that icing disappears back into the rest of the icing within 8 to 10 seconds, that's when you know the consistency is perfect.  I put the icing in a parchment paper bag and cut off the tip and let it flood the area inside of the border I had piped.  I used a toothpick to pop any remaining bubbles and fill in the edges.

After letting the color flow icing dry for about 2 or 3 hours, I went back and piped some names, dates, and messages on the cookies, which was incredibly difficult since the icing was still thick.  The handwriting didn't come out that great as a result.

 The cookies tasted great and everyone enjoyed them, but personally, I love the taste of a chewy cookie and these sugar cookies had the texture of a shortbread cookie.  The recipe called for confectioner's sugar rather than granulated, which could certainly have added to the dry consistency.  I also used a lot of flour when I rolled out the dough.  Also, I could not taste any strong vanilla flavor from the vanilla seeds, and I'm sure most of the flavor came from the vanilla extract anyway.  Next time I make these cookies, I will be sure to try it with granulated sugar instead.  And I don't think I'll be buying any more vanilla beans...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Start of Summer

I forgot how much I missed playing ultimate frisbee.  I love the fact that I've been playing for five years and can actually teach people some things.  I also love that my athleticism is so much higher than it was in college and I felt great on Sunday.  And I love the feeling of still being sore three days after playing (the 4 mi run  yesterday probably didn't help much).

I didn't play at all during the year except for at a hat tournament at the end of March.  I played well that day - I scored a few points and had my most awesome layout.  But playing for about 6 hours (maybe more) wrecked my body.  I was sore for about four days after that tournament.  Ultimate frisbee engages all of these muscles that you do not normally use while running, especially the ones in your hips, because you are constantly changing direction and sprinting across the field.  Your back and arms are also engaged from throwing the disc.  It's a great workout and a ton of fun.  It's going to do wonders for my fast-twitch muscles (the ones that help you sprint), playing once a week will be a great supplement to my training.  I have an awesome team this year and I'm really excited to meet new people and get my competitive streak on.

I thought that my best year of ultimate was during my junior year in college.  I felt really athletic (working out 6 days per week) and I had great throws and was starting to handle (the handler is like the quarterback of ultimate frisbee).  After Sunday's playing, though, I schooled my junior year self.  I was beating people to the disc and staying in for numerous points.  It felt amazing.  It's astounding how much my athleticism has changed in a mere 5 months.  Words cannot describe how excited I am for the summer.  Also, I will be going away in June this year rather than August and therefore will not be missing the championships and the league party.  Sunday got me incredibly excited for summer and ultimate, this is going to be great.

I hope to post more informative accounts of my ultimate frisbee games but for now I'm just very excited for summer to start.  Last night, I went to an amazing Yankee game and this weekend I will be going camping for the first time ever in Acadia National Park in Maine.  I'm excited to go camping and I have a lot of packing to do.  Any suggestions on what to bring will be greatly appreciated :)

Oh and sometime soon I will post pictures of my latest cookie creations...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hot Off the Press!

When I checked my phone this morning I had a text, a missed call, and a voicemail all from my mother (which isn't unusual for her).  When I listened to the voicemail she left me I was too excited to call her back, which lead to another phone call and voicemail later.  The article I was interviewed for was published in the Bergen Record.

I had been reading this series in the Bergen Record called "I Want to Run a 5K."  The articles seemed to be geared towards people who were 40 and older, and they aimed to get people motivated to sign up and complete their first 5K run.  I thought I would just email the author for the fun of it and share my story with him.  It seems as if my generation has been hit hardest by the economic recession, and a lot of recent graduates have had to return home and sit around while they wait for jobs to come.  Another thing I love about running is how good it makes you feel.  Whether you completed a 10 minute run or a 6 mile run, running gives you a sense of accomplishment which is extremely valuable for all of the recent graduates that seem to be down on their luck.  I always get excited when I hear about people who are trying out running or other sports because I fully believe in leading an active lifestyle (which up until recently I didn't do myself, with the exception of playing ultimate frisbee in college).  So I'm not really sure what came over me when I emailed the author of this series but I felt like I should share my story and hopefully inspire others to start leading an active lifestyle as well, especially all of those stay at home grads.

I'm floating! And also have heel strike.  Read the article here
Long story short, the author emailed me back and said he had gotten some responses from younger adults but would like to write about my story, especially since I had recently finished my first 5K, another reason why I thought I could contribute to the series.  We talked over the phone and a photographer came to take my picture while I was "running" around the park near my house (I put running in quotation marks because she just asked me to jog back and forth between two spots, I felt a little awkward which is why it looks like I'm posing.  Side note: at one point she told me to start running and then just stop mid stride.  I felt like a doof and almost fell over).  I didn't want to tell anyone until the actual article was published for fear of my story getting scratched.  I also didn't know how to tell people without sounding like I was showboating.  I'm happy that my story was printed and I hope that people read it and it inspires them to create their own active lifestyle and maybe even sign up for their first 5K.  I also have the article saved under my bookmarks because I particularly like the quote at the top of the article if I do say so myself.  I hope to use it for motivation and as a reminder of all of the people I'd be letting down if I didn't do my runs.  It also seems that I now have a reputation to uphold...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Crochet Forays

Just to warn you, this post is about some crochet projects I have made over the past few weeks.  I always get grief from my family and friends about my crocheting but I don't care if it's a hobby for old ladies it makes me happy and people enjoy the things I create.  This post goes into a pretty lengthy detail of my adaptations to the patterns I found online, so please feel free to skim this post and just take a look at the pictures :)

A couple weeks ago, I was attempting to clean out my room when I (of course) became distracted by the huge bag of yarn I had shoved under my desk.  I went online to my saved patterns and tried to think up of something to make with this extra yarn.  We always seem to have an excess of plastic bags in my house because we save them for when we walk the dog.  They're in the railing, in the pantry, under the desk, you get the idea. So, I decided to use the extra yarn I had left over to make a plastic bag holder.  I did not insert a picture of said holder into this blog because I made it with mismatched leftover colors of yarn.  The resulting product was an odd striped pattern, with some colors not even making it a full round and other colors taking up about a third of the project.  I adapted it from this pattern.  If anyone decides to make this, I would suggest that once you get to round 4 to just keep repeating that round until you get your plastic bag holder to the length you desire.  The pattern on LBY's site will leave you with a holder that won't fit too many bags.  

Whenever I am making a pattern that is crocheted in rounds and I need to change color, I always end up with this awkward breaking point between colors.  I had messed around with inserting the new color yarn during the sl st to fasten off the previous round and as the chain for the next round.  I think the technique that worked best was to use the new color yarn to create the sl st in the last round.  Then when I wove in the ends I would just try to cover up the colors to make it look like even rows.

Easter was just around the corner and I have a bunch of kids I work with and see often.  So, in the spirit of Easter and adorable animals, I decided to make baby duck and bunny Easter egg cozies.  In total, I made 8 ducks and 5 bunnies. Unfortunately, the picture that I took of the bunnies somehow got deleted off of my camera when I was transferring the pictures onto my computer, so I just have the picture of the ducks.  I adapted these patterns for the ducks and the bunnies.

The first duck I made I sewed the beak on backwards so the open end was facing outwards.  It produced a cute effect, but I decided to sew the rest on correctly.  I also hate using beads for eyes because they have a higher chance of falling off and aren't safe for very young children.  Sewing a perfect circle for the eyes can be tricky (see the duck in the back L corner), but towards the end I think I got the hang of it.  Always cut yourself a long thread of embroidery yarn and create a pyramid effect when stitching (stitches increase in width until you get to the center and then decrease to the same width as when you started) otherwise you'll get square looking eyes.  Beads are certainly easier but I would prefer to stick to yarn.  

The baby bunnies have a pom pom tail and I've never made a pom pom before.  A friend of mine had made some as a toy for her pet cat, but even after she described the process to me I was still lost.  The pattern on LBY was no help either, as they said just to refer to the packaging directions.  So, I resorted to YouTube and watched this video.  I made my own cardboard donut thingy and my first pom pom came out great.  The trick is to keep your fingers locked in the center while you are threading the yarn through the two pieces of cardboard or else the strings you cut will fall out.  

Next came the problem of attaching the pom pom to the bunny.  I first tried to sew the pom pom to the bunny but that left it too loose and I could easily pull  it off.  I could have glued it on with fabric glue but I didn't have any at my house.  So what I did instead (and what ended up holding up to a 3-year-old) was I sewed the pom pom to the bunny, then went back through the pom pom's center, and back through the center a second time and through the bunny.  This held on pretty well and was a good alternative to messy glue that might dry out and not hold up.

I then finished these projects by slipping them over Easter eggs with pieces of candy inside.  The kids loved to pretend the ducks and bunnies were pooping out eggs, so all in all I think this was a successful Easter gift.  

The second gift I made was for a friend who had just received her black belt in tae kwon do.  I could not make the ceremony but I wanted to do something special for her and this idea was actually suggested by her brother.  I adapted this pattern to make a tae kwon do blackbelt.  

To make the short sleeves, I just ended with the black at row 5.  The legs I ended at Row 11 because they started to get too long and the pants flared out too much.  When making the hands, I made Row 5 like this: (2 sc, sc2tog) 3 times for a total of 9 st.  Row 6 was (1 sc, sc2tog) 3 times for a total of 6 st, the same number of stitches as the sleeves on the arm.  I continued for about 3 or 4 more rows until the arms were as long as the legs.  When I use this pattern again, I probably won't work in the back loops on the dress, arms, and legs because it gave the outfit a raised striped pattern rather than a smooth one.  I attached and stuffed everything (except for the arms and legs).  To make shoes, just crochet the feet in a color other than the skin color.  There are so many different things you can do with this pattern but the best adaptation is what follows....

My absolute favorite part of this doll is the hair.  In the pattern, they said to crochet this fuzzy yarn into the head but I had an idea of my own: I thought I could get a better effect if I used a latch hook to attach the hair to the head.  I cut about 2 in size pieces of yarn and hooked them into the head, starting at round 7 (you'll see if you make this doll that the increasing pattern in rounds 1 - 6 creates a ridge, that's where I started inserting the hair).  I started with a short row (ended right above eye level), and with each increasing row I added another strand of hair on each side (Round 7 had 14 strands of hair, round 8 had 16, etc).  This created a diagonal line across rounds 7 - 13 and once I reached round 14, I followed the stitches in a circular pattern around the back of the head.  I filled in the hairs on the top and any spaces that may need them on the back of the head.  The hair still didn't look quite right, because the girl whose doll this was has tight curly hair.  I was reminded of the pom pom video I had seen on YouTube where the woman said to brush the pom pom out to separate the individual threads in the yarn.  I took a fine tooth comb and brushed the hair out to separate the threads and each thread came out curly (since the threads are twisted together to make the yarn).  I finished the hair by giving it a trim.

I know this may all sound a little crazy, especially at the part where I brushed out the doll's hair and gave it a trim.  In my defense, the gift was very well received and I enjoyed making it.

One thing I have realized while trying to write this post is that it is very difficult to describe how I worked a pattern in words.  Next time, I'll be sure to take more pictures of my progress and include them with my directives.  Hope you enjoyed (or at least tolerated) this post.  I have a few gifts I'm working on currently so there will be another one soon enough :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My first not-so-flat 5K

The first 5K I ran was in Flushing Meadows, Queens.  It was a completely flat course and I ran it in 30:23. Not bad for my first 5K.

So I came into this race, 5 weeks later than my first one, expecting to beat my best time.  I didn't.

I had been awake on and off since 4:00AM listening to the thunderstorm and the pouring rain.  It stopped around 5:45, right before I woke up and I had hoped it passed.  It didn't.  As I was leaving my house, I heard the low rumble of thunder in the distance, and 15 minutes later I was hydroplaning on the highway, about 5 minutes behind another man who had spun out and hit the median.  I was thinking to myself "great, I'm going to die on my way to a 5K.  At the South Mountain Recreation Complex.  How fitting."  Kendra, another Endure to Cure athlete who was running the race with me, had the same thoughts.

I got to the parking site a little after 7:30AM,  30 minutes before the race began.  The shuttle took us to the site and I was lined up to run at 7:55AM.  I had time to stretch pretty well, but not enough time to push myself towards the front and get in a quick warm up run (my first mistake).  My adrenaline was pumping from the drive down and race jitters, so I guess that counted as a warm up, right?  Not really.

The first thing I realized about this course was that it wasn't flat.  The training runs around my neighborhood are somewhat flat, except for one hill and a slight incline/decline.  I tried to remember everything I was told during hill sprints and what I kind of learned during my training runs.  The hills weren't as steep as I had anticipated, but they just kept coming.  Up and down, up and down, and even the slight incline on mile 2 was a killer.  My second mistake was not taking advantage of the declines.  When I was running downhill, I felt like I was flying and I was passing people left and right.  I thought that maybe I was doing something wrong and I should be conserving my energy, when in actuality, I should have taken advantage of that momentum and let myself sprint down that hill, and then use that momentum to help me up and over the next hill.  I may be wrong, but it just makes more sense to me, especially in a 5K race where I shouldn't be too worried about conserving my energy.

Third mistake?  Taking water.  I don't know what I was thinking, I didn't need it, and even though trying to drink water while running went better this time than during my last race, it still left a feeling in my throat like I had swallowed a rock.  I still have that feeling.

The fourth mistake I made?  I think I was having a little too much fun during the race.  One thing that I love about running are the other runners.  Runners are such happy people that are always looking to give encouragement.  For about half a mile I was running alongside this couple, and the woman was announcing the mile markers and their pace, which was great because the first mile marker was about .46 miles off.  We exchanged smiles and encouragements and I eventually lost her around mile 2 when she decided to run behind with her students.  The last tenth of a mile was a sprint uphill to the finish.  We went downhill, came around a bend, and then it was a slight incline to the finish.  The woman behind me was moaning and groaning so I turned to look at her and she apologized for being sour.  I got all amped up and told her that it was ok and to just dig her toes in and sprint up that hill, she was almost there.  I think I was saying that more for myself than for her, and she kind of stared at me with a look that said "ok little girl, you go right ahead and do that."  Which I did.  I liked cheering people on because it helps me as a runner too, but for my next race I hope to run with a little more focus and save the encouragements to fist pumps, cheers, and claps.

I started coming up the hill and watched the clock tick past 30:23, my PR.  I was still determined to run an amazing race, and I'm not going to lie I was hoping the clock was a little off since I started way behind the start/finish line.  I sprinted up that hill and ran hard across the finish line, and my parents were waiting for me with congratulations.  I also saw a girl from my school that I had known since pre-k, which was totally random but a nice surprise.  I don't even remember what I said to her other than "thanks." I felt so happy and content after my race, probably still because I was hoping that the timing chip was off.  I saw the official results and was proved wrong, and my mood dropped a little.  I was still enjoying the fact that I was with other Endure to Cure athletes and my family and I still had a day at the zoo to look forward to, but I couldn't help being disappointed over not beating my PR.

I was thinking about the race on my drive home after visiting the zoo.  My time was only 50 seconds longer than my previous race, and that was on completely flat ground.  I remembered my struggles up Lincoln Ave: stopping to walk, barely shuffling my feet up the hill after running less than 3 miles.  I should be proud of the effort I put in despite the time and pace I ran it in.  I crushed those hills, and I wish I could go to Flushing Meadows and run that 5K over again and compare my time.  Maybe sometime this week I'll run the 5K I mapped out in my neighborhood and see what time I do it in.

If anything, this experience has shown me how I want to run over the next few months.  Because I have been running 4 miles 3 or 4 days a week for the past couple of weeks, I was thinking I could upgrade to a 4 mile race over the summer.  But after today I realized: what's the rush?  Why should I continue to push myself to run further and further races, it's not like once I hit a certain age I won't be able to run anymore.  And it's not like I'm going to run a marathon and stop running entirely, but I want my journey to that marathon to be a long and meaningful one.  This is why I didn't want to do Chicago in the fall.  I'm in no rush and in no way ready to run a marathon in October.  I know that if I really wanted to, I could, but why would I push myself to do it when my heart and my body aren't ready or willing to?  I want to keep running 5Ks into the fall and get my time below 30 minutes.  Once I reach that goal, then I'll worry about running longer races.  It doesn't matter if I run a 5K or a marathon, I'm still raising money for Endure to Cure, spreading the message, and becoming a stronger person.

My next 5K probably won't be until August.  I'll be playing ultimate frisbee every weekend and working two jobs during the week, so I don't know what my training is going to look like.  However, I know it is not going to stop, and I know that when I run that 5K in August I will do it in under 30 minutes, hills or no hills.

Oh and at least I can relish in one win today: I won my week's matchup in fantasy baseball.  Little victories.

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Running Shorts

My second 5K will be on May 15, 2011.  I chose this particular race because it was enough time after finals and my first 5K, which was on April 2.  Also, it's at the South Mountain Recreation Complex, the site where I used to work.  Also, it's to support the survivors of breast cancer, and I have known 4 women on my block alone who have had breast cancer.  I'm running for the survivors; my race fee went towards the survivors of breast cancer while the money I raise will go towards a survivorship study for pediatric cancer patients.

Survivorship is a very under-studied field.  The women (and I'm sure there are men too) of the Susan G Komen foundation have raised millions of dollars to help women who have had breast cancer.  My project is on a somewhat smaller scale.

In October 2010, I joined a non-profit foundation called Endure to Cure.  This group is made up of athletes from around the world who compete in endurance events to raise money for pediatric cancer research.  This year, we are attempting to raise $50,000 to start a survivorship study at the Chicago Comer Children's Hospital to help children and adolescents who have beaten cancer cope with the crippling side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

So, back to the shorts, I went to Sports Authority on Saturday to find a pair of pink shorts to wear during the race next week.  Since this is a breast cancer awareness race, I should be wearing something pink.  It was my first pair of real running shorts, and if you need me to elaborate on what I mean by this you'll have to ask.  After walking through the women's and girl's department looking for the perfect pair of shorts, I settled for a $16.00 pair that were (what I thought to be) a size too big and decided they would have to do.

I haven't run since April 26th, the Tuesday before last.  This past week was finals and I was swamped with a 15 page paper, a revision of a paper, a 5 page paper, an essay analysis, a take home final, a film analysis, another essay analysis, and an 8 page paper.  For my three classes.  So needless to say, after the heat during that last week in April, my last run being over 47:00 long (it was 4 miles, and a few days before that I had ran 4 miles in 41:30), and the amount of work I was hit with, I didn't get a chance to run.  The first day back after that much time off is always very difficult, especially for me, because I need to get back into a routine.  I found a new artist I liked (Ellie Goulding, check her out), updated my iPod, and was all excited about ground-hog proofing my garden, so I felt a run was in order.  I slipped on my new running shorts to test them out and hit the road.

I'm terrible at remembering to stretch before my runs, and my calves/shins were not happy about it during the first mile.  On the plus side, the new shorts felt great and I was loving the album I was listening to.  I kept pushing up the slight incline and by the time I finished my first mile in 9:43 I felt like I was running naturally.  The rest of the time I kept reminding myself to fix my form: swing my arms more when heading up hills, keep my feet under me when going down hills, keep my hips square with my shoulders, stay strong through your abs and ribs, don't slouch but relax your shoulders.  It seems silly but when I started having slight back pain I looked into good running form and so far it has helped.

The second mile came at 20:02, and about halfway through that mile my iPod headphones decided to be temperamental and scratchy.  Note to self: don't ever get iPod headphones again.  I was bummed because I was loving my new album and I actually stopped at one point to see if I could fix the headphones.  Bad idea.  My legs would not stop moving, I could not walk in a straight line, and I realized that nothing was going to get fixed if my head wasn't thinking clearly.  So, I kept running.

Now, I could have looked at this situation and thought my run was ruined, and maybe if I wasn't on track for a PR I would have.  But I checked my time and kept running towards my third mile mark, trying to make it within 30 minutes.  I took this opportunity to forgo the music and learn to push myself intrinsically, not extrinsically with awesome music (no seriously, you need to check out Ellie Goulding if you haven't by now).  I ran my first 5K in April without music because I didn't want to have to mess with my equipment and I wanted my success to be based on my personal motivation, not by being motivated by music.  So I pushed through the last mile and a half without my iPod.

I came to the hill on Lincoln, which I've been told isn't really a hill but it's a hill to me.  I kept my eyes about a third of the way up to the top, keeping my pace, and when I saw the top of the hill I really pushed it, using my arms to propel me up the hill, pushing off with my toes, and telling myself "up and over" (the problem I had with Lincoln was I was so exhausted by the time I got halfway up the hill I was barely jogging over the top, making my last mile 3 or 4 minutes longer than my pace time).  I had made it, felt pretty good, and had 3 minutes to run .3 miles and beat my PR.

I modified my 4 mile run so I would jog past my house, run around the block, and pass my house again.  The hardest part of my first 5K was when I was rounding the bend to what I thought was the finish line, and then realized that I had run down a path, loop around, and then come back up to reach the finish line.  Seeing the finish line and then realizing it's not as close as you thought is extremely demoralizing, so in order to up my mental game I thought I would tempt myself with that finish line and learn to ignore my feelings of self doubt.  I ran around the block and back down my street with just under 1 minute to go.

I reached the 4 mile mark in 41:02, 28 seconds better than my previous PR.  Needless to say, I felt great, and as I placed my hands on my legs to catch my breath I touched something hard under my shorts.  I yanked the tag off of my shorts and threw it in the garbage.  These $16 size medium bright pink shorts are here to stay.