Monthly Archives: October 2011

Whew

Races wear me out – even when I don’t run them.

Yesterday, our store put on a Halloween-themed 5K. I didn’t race. Instead, I dressed up in a Cookie Monster suit and scurried around all day, assisting with whatever needed assistance.

I’m horribly bad at being efficient at stuff like this. At one point, it came to my attention that we needed some anchors for the legs of our tent. So, wanting to be helpful, I was all like, “Oh, I’ll just run over to the store and grab some weights and bring them back over here.” Which is how I ended up ferrying four 20-pound dumbbells across multiple parking lots, from one end of the shopping center to the other.

…in a Cookie Monster suit.

It probably looked like I was doing some sort of Crossfit for Furries workout, panting and sweating as I lugged the dumbbells across the parking lot in twenty-foot spurts.

But that wasn’t end of the day’s discomfort. Because one thing that I  failed to anticipate when choosing my costume was that little kids were going to be ALL OVER THAT SHIT.

If you want to see me at my very awkwardest, just put a five-year old in front of me and watch the ensuing conversation. Little kids. How the hell do you talk to little kids? Maybe it’s because at least half of my brainpower is devoted to reminding myself not to swear, but I never know what I’m supposed say to them. And I usually end up saying something totally inane.

Gah. Kids. Come see me when you’re old enough to understand sarcasm. And buy alcohol.

Anyway, the race was a success. We had over a thousand runners. Nothing major went wrong. And it was kinda fascinating to be on the other side of a race, for once. I have a new understanding of and respect for all of the logistical stuff that goes on for even a small – in the grand scheme of things – race.

I came home and passed out while the clock still read single digits.

But not before having a beer, of course.

Great Divide has always treated me well: their  Wild Raspberry Ale was surprisingly enjoyable, and their Fresh Hop is one of my favorite Pale Ales. So how does their Hoss Rye Lager stack up?

This is one of the more unique Oktoberfest-style beers I’ve tried. A lovely reddish color with a thick and creamy head, you can definitely taste the hearty rye in here, along with dried cherries and something a little warm and spicy – cloves? Pumpernickel? Complex and fun to sip on a chilly evening. 6.2% ABV.

Bottom line: Definitely worth trying if you’re looking for something a little different in the Marzen category! (Purchased at Total Wine, $2/12oz)

And because it’s Monday…a look back at last week’s training:

So, I’ve been trying to increase my mileage this fall. When I trained for Chicago last year, my weekly mileage topped out in the mid 50s. And while I didn’t necessarily feel under-trained when I took to the start line of that race, I certainly didn’t get the result I wanted. So this time around, I’m increasing the volume a little, hoping to go in to CIM in a little better shape for 26.2.

I can’t remember if I’ve ever run 60+ miles in a week. Probably not. But I have to say that my legs feel pretty great! I backed off of the speed-work this week; instead of doing a track workout, I turned my mid-week medium-long run into a marathon-pace tempo. It’s tough to increase mileage and build speed at the same time. (Which is reflected in a slightly slower average pace this week. And that’s fine!)

With five weeks to go until CIM, I’m planning on another 60+ week this week, then a slight stepback week, then one more week of higher mileage (and one more 20-miler, while I’m going to try to do early in the week) before taper time.

Happy Monday – and Happy Halloween! Anyone slutting it up today?

In an effort to do something slightly more productive with my life…

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with my friend Newt, catching up on what’s new in our respective lives. I don’t chat with my friends often enough…probably because I am horrible at picking up the phone. But that’s another story.

Anyway. As her (very well written) blog documents, she’s a super-busy mom-doctor with another kiddo on the way. I flopped on my bed and sipped a class of wine, pressing my phone to my ear, as she recounted the various challenges of juggling child care, pregnancy, a demanding career, a husband whose work sends him on international travel on a regular basis…

and then my head started spinning. Stressing about getting your toddler picked up from day-care on time while trying to, oh, you know, save your patients’ lives?

I just can’t. Even imagine.

Talking to my college friends is always a reminder of the fact that my life hasn’t exactly gone the way I always expected it to. Perhaps, if I’m being totally honest with myself here, that’s one of the reason my calls are sparser than they should be.

I mean…what, exactly, have I done with my life?

I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have been voted “Most Likely to Work Retail” in either my high school or college graduating classes. I’m a smart chick. So maybe that’s why I feel a little weird about the fact that, at this point, nearly all of my friends from way-back-when have letters after their names or spawn to care for or both.

In fairness to myself, it’s not like I didn’t at least start to go down that path. I did several years in financial consulting: constant travel, long and unpredictable hours, intense all-night report-writing caffeine benders. And I didn’t totally hate it. It just…I don’t know. When my husband’s schooling and/or career ambitions moved us for the umpteenth time, I just decided to just try something else.

When I asked myself what I’m good at, the answer was obvious to me. I’m good at writing.

That was a little over two years ago. So here I am.

I’m a writer. Not in the sense of this blog (because I don’t make a cent off of this blog) but in that…that’s the career I identify with. What I set out to be. What I’ve, frankly, failed at being over the last two years, by my own standards, anyway. Aside from a few freelance projects of varying levels of prestige.

Mostly, though, I work at a specialty running store (which I actually love!) and do a little writing on the side. If I added up all of the money I’ve made as a writer over these two years, it probably wouldn’t equal a month of the salary I used to make in consulting.

Is that pathetic? Maybe. Does it make me feel like a total douchebag when I talk to my more-successful friends? Yeah, kinda.

But this much I do know: My life really isn’t that difficult at the moment. And I’m not challenging myself in the way that I should.

Enter: National Novel Writing Month. Starting: November 1.  The challenge: to write 50,000 words (the length of a short novel or novella).  That’s it.

(For perspective, this blog post, to this point, is 539 words.)

I actually attempted this NaNoWriMo thing last year, too. But I didn’t say anything about it on the blog. And I wouldn’t say it was all that successful. Fiction writing is…different. Different, and hard.

I’m going to try again though. I put a NaNoWriMo badge over on the right sidebar and everything. And I’m going to post my word counts alongside my weekly running stats. Maybe I’ll share some reflections and snippets here and there, too.

It’s entirely possible that the whole thing will totally suck. And I’m OK with that. At least I will have tried.

ANYWAY. You all don’t come here to hear me whine about my phantom career and my underachiever status. So here’s some running stuff:

I have to work all weekend, so I knocked my long run out this morning. Two out-and-back jaunts on the Reedy Creek Bike & Bridle at Umstead.

Dare I say that this has been one of the best long runs I’ve had in recent years? Things just sort of came together. Even though I was running solo on a monotonous route, somehow I was never really bored. I was shooting for an average mile pace somewhere around 9:00, and managed to nail it without even really thinking about it. And had some gas left in the tank to crank it up a little at the end.

A pack of Gu Chumps and one Gu (split up between three feedings – one at 7 miles, one at 12 miles, one at 17 miles) kept my belly happy.

Everything just worked on this run. I even managed to keep my shit together on the hills.

Five weeks until CIM!

Does that make this a toddler blog?

Today, it occurred to me that this blog is now in its third year. Actually, its official birthday was Sunday.

Two years old. Wow. Um…I guess it’s time to potty train? 

One of the best things about having a blog is that your inane thoughts are recorded on the internet forever. So I can look back two years ago today and see that I penned a detailed description of my cat…for my, like, three readers. (Good lord, those old posts are embarrassing.)

A year ago was a little better. I was still pretty fresh off of the Chicago Marathon Shitshow 2010 and was trying to do mile repeats and was frustrated that my legs were still all manky. (Also, I made something that looks delicious with shrimp and wonton wrappers.)

I guess some things never change. A year later I’m still complaining about my workouts and going out too fast in races.

As illustrated by the lovely photographs from last Saturday’s American Tobacco Trail Ten Miler.

That first girl in all black? That’s my friend Erin, who won the race and finished approximately fifteen minutes before me. She is probably running an appropriate pace here. The second girl in black is me. Going out way too fast.

And about an hour later, we have a picture of pain.

It’s entirely possible that the guy behind me was actually walking. I’m a dumbass.

(And thank you, Carolina Snapshot, for taking these and I’m sorry for stealing them. Truly. When, one of these days, I have a race that I actually want to remember in all of its glory, I promise I’ll fork over for the rights.)

Anyway. Since it was MY BLOG BIRTHDAY (ish) and all, I decided to make some cupcakes.

Oh okay…no, I didn’t. I had planned to make cupcakes anyway. I’ve been helping to coach a walk-to-run program for the last few weeks and tonight was their last practice of the session. They have improved so much and I am ridiculously proud of them. So naturally, we celebrated with a giant potluck of junk food.

Potlucks are always such a funny thing. Maybe it’s just me and the fact that I tend to be a bit of a competitive person, but…you’ve gotta bring your A game to a potluck. Because who wants to be the dish that no one eats? No, you wanna be the dish that everyone is whispering about: Who brought these? They’re delicious!

It worked, because these Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Brown Butter Buttercream (via Food Network) were a big hit.

Somehow I came across these while poking around on the ‘nets and I figured that they had to be good  if it had the word “butter” twice in the recipe title.

I pretty much love anything made with brown butter. The cake part came out well (light and airy; well-spiced but not cloying) but it was definitely the buttercream that was the star here. Although very sweet, it added a slightly savory element to the cupcakes that was unusual and fun.

Also, can I just say that the cheapo pastry bag + tips set that I picked up at Target a few weeks ago has been a fantastic investment? Frosting is so much more fun when it’s all pretty and swirly.

And cupcakes are more fun when consumed with beer.

I also picked up a sixpack of Magic Hat’s winter seasonal – Howl Black (as Night) Lager – to bring to the feast. A new one to me.

And, yes, I realize that it is not winter. In fact, it was 75* here today. But you know what? If I am going to deal with hearing CHRISTMAS MUSIC on the radio (seriously!) in October, then I surely am going to enjoy the benefits of my favorite beer season a couple of months early, too.

Anyway. I’ll admit that I know next to nothing about the so-called “Schwarzbier” genre. Beer Advocate says this:

Schwarzbier (“shvahrts-beer”), is simply German for black beer. It doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily heavy or light in body, although they tend to lean towards light. Unlike other dark beers, like porters or stouts, they are not overly bitter with burnt and roasted malt characteristics that the others tend to depend on. Instead, hops are used for a good portion of the bitterness. Very refreshing and soul lifting beers, they also make a great alternative for the Winter. Especially when you are looking for a lighter beer, but one with depth of colour and taste.

I don’t know about “soul lifting,” but I enjoyed this beer. It poured a dark, but slightly translucent, mahogany.  Flavor-wise, it brought many of the elements that I enjoy in stouts and porters (coffee, chocolate, a kint of smoke) but, like, toned down a little. There were some light but noticeable hops, too, and a pleasant thirst-quenching quality that the heavier winter beers tend to lack.  Overall, a fun and easy beer to drink. 4.6% ABV.

Bottom line: I’d definitely buy it again. Although the BA folks seem to think that there are better representations of this style out there, and I’m excited to try those, too. (Purchased at Fresh Market, $9/six)

So if you’re one of the six people that have been with eating, drinking and running with me since the beginning (hi, mom…and dad…) let’s raise a glass and celebrate two full years of these shenanigans. And, I hope, many more to come.

Fauxreos

I love homemade food.  But there are some processed, mass-produced foods that will always be better than their artisan counterparts. (I’m looking at you, yellow-bag Lay’s potato chips.)

My husband claims that Oreo Cookies are one such food. I respectfully disagree.

Because everyone knows that Oreos are all about the filling. Those hard, dry, brown things on either side of it? They are just delivery vehicles for the good stuff. How, I ask, can this cookie be so perfect if two-thirds of it is essentially edible packaging?

But make your Oreos – er, Fauxreos – at home, and you can have a wafer that actually adds something to the cookie experience, rather than simply becoming soggy in your milk and covering your fingers in a fine brown dust.

Recipe: Fauxreos [adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Homemade Oreos]

This recipe is super simple. The wafers come together in one bowl and bake in just a few minutes. And the filling is three ingredients (and potentially a little food coloring to make them festive, as in the attempted nod to Halloween seen above).

I actually made these Fauxeros twice. The first time, I made my cookies way too big and they looked more like whoopie pies. Delicious, but a little challenging, as I had planned to send them to my Blogger Sweet Swap partner, Jenny over at Love Eat Run. I feared that the large cookies wouldn’t ship well.

So I brought them to work (where they were enthusiastically devoured) and tried again, tweaking the recipe a little to make them true-to-Oreo size. Because they needed to be small enough in diameter to fit in a glass of milk, of course.

Much better.

I was sad to see them go, but I got a pretty great batch of cookies in return! Jenny sent me Late Night Snack Cookies, embedded with chocolate and pretzels and popcorn:

I’m a sucker for anything salty, so popcorn inside cookies is pretty brilliant as far as I’m concerned. Thanks, Jenny! And thanks to Amy and Jess for setting this whole swapper thing up.

And on an unrelated note, before I forget, here is last week’s running log. Because I know you’re all dying to know.

In spite of my lackluster performance at Saturday’s race, it wasn’t a bad week. I had a good track session and the race served as a good workout too – the first 10K of it, anyway. I did exactly what I’d planned to do in terms of mileage, cutting back a little before turning it up again this week and tackling another 20+ miler.

1,589 for the year. 422 to go!

Away from my internets

I guess I needed a break for a few days? I haven’t touched my computer since last week. It’s been wonderful, actually.

But I’m back. So here’s what you’ve missed.

I bombed a 10-mile race.

BOMBED IT. It’s been a while since I had a total race meltdown. Saturday was the day. It sucked.

I decided to jump in to the American Tobacco Trail Ten Miler rather spontaneously, handing in my registration at packet pick-up on Friday afternoon. Several friends and teammates were racing and it sounded like a fun, flat, fast race.

It was fast…for about a mile. Too fast. Way too fast.

The plan was to go out at half-marathon pace (somewhere in the 7:20-7:30 range) and then work it down a little in the last couple of miles.

But fueled by delusions of grandeur and the excitement of being a part of the lead pack of runners (it was a staggered start, with the women starting first), I ticked off that first mile in seven flat. Shit.

I managed to keep it in the 7:10-7:20 range until the turnaround, roughly the halfway point. Through the 10K, I was still doing relatively okay, although things were starting to feel rather robotic and flat.  My 10K split was somewhere around 45-46 minutes, which about what I ran when I raced a 10K a few months ago. But unfortunately, I still had almost four miles to go.

My pace proceeded to grind to a halt and I shuffled miserably toward the finish line, cursing under my breath as each person passed me (most of whom, in fairness, were men catching up from their handicapped start). 8-minute pace. 9-minute pace. Whatever. My legs were totally shot.

I started the race in fourth place. I ended in twenty-second. Finish time: 1:17:50. A 7:47 average pace. Exactly twenty seconds per mile slower than half marathon pace. Ouch.

Lesson: Do not. Go. Out. Too. Fast.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever learn this lesson.

On the bright side, I can only think of one other time I’ve ever raced a ten miler, and that one I finished in 1:22, so I guess it’s a PR.  Cue ambivalent cheer.

…but I had a pretty great track workout.

Unfortunately, they don’t give medals for workouts. Or cash prizes. Bummer.

I totally nailed 8 X 400 at mile pace (90 seconds recovery). Take that, shitty ten-miler.

Sigh. No glory.

I ate things on crackers.

My husband was traveling all last week. I ate many meals that looked like this:

I also ate many salads and killed most of that bag of baby bell peppers. Perhaps that balances out the tub of pimento cheese.

I drank sunset beers.

It was a gorgeous weekend here. And do you know what I did with my free time instead of cuddling with my laptop, as usual? I sat outside on my little balcony, read books, and consumed beer.

This Rare Vos from Ommegang, a Belgian-style Pale Ale, was outstanding. Smooth, a little creamy, and just barely sweet with heavy carbonation but none of the pucker factor or perfume one often finds with American-style Pales. Just…very very pleasant to drink. 6.5% ABV.

Bottom line: Highly recommended! (Purchased at Total Wine, $2.25/12oz)

I also picked up a four-pack of that Dogfish Head Punkin Ale that everyone has been going OMG INSANE about for the last few weeks.

I respect what they were trying to do here, bringing the pumpkin in to a nutty Brown Ale. In theory it’s a good match, but I really did not care for this beer. Some of that is probably personal bias, as I’m not wild about Brown Ales generally: with their lower carbonation, they always seem a little watery and thin to me. And I’m not gaga for pumpkin flavor either. But I wanted to give this one a shot because it seemed to be so universally liked – and also, I’d never disliked anything from Dogfish. So I guess this is a first. I gave the remainder of the pack to my co-workers. 7% ABV.

Bottom line: Not my kinda beer. My opinion seems to be in the minority, though. (Purchased at Total Wine, $8.50/4)

I watched Center Stage.

I think I still have a VHS tape of this movie floating around somewhere. Alas, I have no VCR. So when I see it on TV…

(Image source: IMDB)

Having the remote control all to myself last week was bliss.

How was your weekend?

Grill marks make food taste better

So. I’m not the only one jabbing at my eardrums with Q-Tips on a daily basis. This actually makes me feel much better about the habit. Thanks for all of your comments on yesterday’s little slice of self-indulgence!

Also: it would probably help if I got the date of my upcoming marathon right. CIM is on SUNDAY, DECEMBER 4. Not December 3. How awkward would that be if I showed up on Saturday?

Anyway. I am on my own for dinners this week, which usually means cooking and eating all of the things that my husband doesn’t like.

Like, um…tofu:

I know you are thinking: OMG TOFU! What a special, special thing to treat yourself to! Nah. It’s just that it had been sitting in the fridge for a while and needed to be used up.

And it was actually pretty delicious because of MAH GRILL PAN and those little stripes. Seriously. Why is that? Does food actually taste better when it has grill marks – even if they’re semi-fake? Or is is psychosomatic? (Or is it just me?)

Soba noodles, mini sweet peppers (Costco again!) and a delicious easy peanut sauce made this a quick dinner for one. I marinated the tofu slices in a bath of equal parts soy sauce and apple cider vinegar with a little brown sugar and sriracha sauce. Then I combined the leftover marinade with peanut butter to make the sauce.

As a certifiable peanut sauce fanatic, I offer you this tip: the creamy, processed stuff makes way better sauce than the natural stuff.

Much smoother and creamier. Probably the mono- and diglycerides. Mmmmm, delicious.

I popped open a bottle of Chard to enjoy with dinner:

Lately, I’ve been doing my grocery shopping on Sunday evenings. Because this is when the wine distributor reps are getting ready to shut down their sample table and are therefore likely to give extra generous pours. Which happens to make shopping in a gigantic supermarket on a Sunday night much more pleasurable.

A couple of weeks ago, they were pouring a bunch of Penfolds wines. The Australian brand is well-known for churning out decent affordable reds, but I liked their whites, too! So much so that I picked up a bottle of their 2009 Koonunga Hill Chardonnay.

Very light and crisp. No butter in here and just a hint of oak. Very fruit-forward with peaches and apricots and a little touch of both citrus and something a little earthier, like a sweet ripe fig. Definitely an enjoyable bottle, and one I’d happily serve to guests!

Bottom line: Buy it! (Purchased at Harris-Teeter, $10).

Off to do some productive stuff with the rest of my Wednesday. See ya later!

ME ME ME part eleventy; or, a ten things meme

Okay, I kind of love being tagged with these random Blog Awards. I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s lovely to know that someone is actually reading this drivel.

Also, hello, easy blog post.

So, thanks, Lisa over at Cow Spots & Tales for saving you all from…that.

This award seems to have evolved as a hybrid of two awards.

But the bottom line is that I’m supposed to tell you ten things about me. I can do that!

1. Every day, I must Q-Tip my ears.

Must. I don’t care that the Q-Tip package says not to put it in your ear canal. IT FEELS SO GOOD.

And they have to be real Q-Tips, not the generic store-brand cotton swabs. The tips of the generic ones get all puffy and loose and threaten to dislodge themselves in my ear canal. (Which is probably why you’re not supposed to put them in your ear canal…)

2. I have lived in every major region of this fine country.

Except for Texas, which I do consider to be its own region. And in which I have absolutely no desire to live. Sorry, Texas. North Carolina is as far south as I go.

In many senses “home” will always be Washington state, where I was born and raised – but I feel fortunate to be able to associate that word with so many places and experiences.

3. I still don’t really know what I want to do with my life.

I really don’t. Any ideas?

4. I’m totally a cat person. And totally not ashamed of it.

You probably know this if you’ve been reading this blog for a while. I heart kittehs.

The art of food-dish stalking at its finest.

Because although dogs seem fun, as far as I can tell, their activities consist mostly of chewing on your personal belongings, urinating and/or threatening to urinate on your floor, barking, and whining. What a colossal pain.

I’m not ruling out the possibility of owning a dog someday, and in fact, I think it would be nice to have a canine running partner. But the part where you have to get up early in the morning so that someone else can go to the bathroom? Bitch, please. (Pun intended.) I don’t even get out of bed in the early morning for my own peeing needs. I consider it, then roll over and go back to sleep.

Also, my cats will never annoy everyone else in the apartment building by yapping all damn day, nor will they shit all over public spaces, inadvertently causing innocent strangers to step in their excrement with their brand new running shoes. (Guess what happened to me yesterday?)

Cats FTW.

5. Requisite random fact item consisting of things I will not eat:

Canned mushrooms, deviled eggs, sea urchin, banana peppers, olives, raw tomatoes, creamed spinach, black licorice, sauerkraut, blood sausage, Cinnamon Raisin bagels. And anything pickled.

Agree? Disagree?

6. Requisite random fact item consisting of things I have eaten (mostly abroad) that sound horrible but actually weren’t that bad:

Cow brains (best tacos I have EVER eaten), pigeon, goat, kangaroo, shark, snake, alligator, frog legs, fried crickets (they taste like potato chips), Durian fruit (smells much worse than it tastes).

Okay, that’s enough about food.

7. I’m afraid of the ball.

Any ball. It doesn’t matter. If it’s headed toward me, I’m diving in the opposite direction. I will never be a trendy kickball/flag-football hipster.

But on the plus side, this probably why I am sitting here writing this quasi-running blog today. Because the only reason I went out for the cross-country team as a freshman in high school was because all of the other sports involved flying balls. And I’ve been running ever since!

8. I love Chardonnay.

This summer, I went to the annual Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville, VA. Even though I don’t blog exclusively about wine…it was a great time and there was OMG SO MUCH WINE. It was fantastic.

But being around people who are much more thoughtful/picky about wine than I am, I definitely got the sense that Chard is the new Merlot. Unfashionable. Too obvious. For amateurs.

Well, you know what? I love the stuff. I love it buttery and I love it oaky. I love it served young and fermented in steel barrels, and I love it a little older and earthier. I daresay it’s favorite type of wine. Even if that makes me unfashionable.

Be right back, pouring another glass….

9. I’d a million times rather have money to travel and do fun stuff than have a big fancy house and fancy car.

Renting is underrated. That is all.

10. Guess what? I’m running the CALIFORNIA INTERNATIONAL MARATHON in Sacramento on December 3!

Good thing I’ll be able to put last weekend’s 20-miler to good use!  I’m thrilled, and this race actually works out perfectly with my schedule. I’m beyond excited to see one of my best friends and former teammates, Newt (um…not her real name…and I’m sure she’s glad that her college nickname has stuck with her) who lives in the area. And hopefully run a strong race on a fast course.

(Also, we were planning to head westward for a wedding the following weekend anyway, so there are plane ticket synergies there, too.)

So. Still bummed about missing Greece, but now throwing myself in to training for CIM. Seven weeks to go!

I think I’m supposed to pass this meme-award-thingy on to some other people. I’ll go ahead and tag a handful of blogs that are perennial favorites…feel free to meme if you want to (and I know that some of you love a good meme…)

Cheaper Than Therapy

Angry Runner

The Cookie Battle

Stylish, Stealthy & Healthy

Loteria Chicana

Leftovers 4 Lunch

Meals for Miles Blog

The Rundown

110 Pounds and Counting

Braise the Roof

I know memes are fun, but perhaps these ones are done. So I won’t be offended if y’all pass, but just know that I tagged your ass.

(Oh yeah, I love to rhyme. How did that not make it in to my random facts?)

Until tomorrow, when we discuss serious topics like world financial markets….

Just kidding.

Fueled by funnel cake

Can we discuss something for a sec?

Do you remember when these things first started showing up everywhere a couple of years ago? And everyone was all like “OMG, THAT’S THE MOST VILE THING EVER” and “THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH AMERICA” and generally indignant that someone would have the nerve to combine a beef patty with two doughnuts, the consumption of which would obviously cause you to immediately gain ten pounds?

Well, I think that’s crap. I’ve staunchly supported the Krispy Kreme Burger – at least in theory. A Krispy Kreme donut is only about 200 calories. Even with two of them, it’s not that much worse than one of those giant fluffy buns that restaurant hamburgers are often served on. I’m not saying that either one is healthy, but just that the outrage was a little overblown and misdirected.

So a doughnut burger? I think it’s a fine idea. In the realm of delicious yet ridiculous things to eat on occasion, anyway.

No, the problem with the Krispy Kreme Burger is that it doesn’t actually taste very good.

And it looks like…uh, yeah. That’s cheese, I promise.

Last year at the State Fair, I overstuffed my belly with fried Oreos and corn dogs and thus had to regretfully pass on the Krispy Kreme  Burger. But I was intrigued, and at this year’s fair, I was more than ready to finally taste the creation I’d spent so much time defending. As soon as the hubs and I passed through the admission gates on Friday night, we made a beeline for the booth.

We sat on a curb and passed the storied sandwich back and forth, trading off nibbles. No one talked. Finally, the hubs broke the awkward silence.

“Um…this isn’t that good,” he said, pensively licking a frosting-and-cheese coated finger.

“Yeah, it kind of sucks, actually, ” I agreed.

And honestly, it rather pissed me off. For as much hype as this damn burger has gotten, it should be mind-blowing. Perhaps we just ordered poorly (would NOT get the cheese next time), but actually, I think the flavors just don’t jive. I mean, I would love to live in a reality where grilled beef and frosted fried dough could harmoniously occupy a mouth together…but sadly, I don’t think we do.

I’m still not gonna hate on the thing, though, just because I didn’t care for it. I stand by my opinion that as splurges go, it’s not that much worse than a regular burger. (Or than most entrees at crappy chain restaurants, for that matter.)

Anyway.

At least we had it better than the petting zoo occupants. All they got to eat were carrots!

They were selling little bags of sliced carrots for a buck at the entrance. How could you not? I mean, a steady stream of people walking around the perimeter with carrots…and you’re gonna be the one person who doesn’t have anything to offer them? Those animals are gonna look right through you.

Oh okay, llama. I’m glad I have your attention. Did you want a carrot slice? Please don’t use those oddly humanesque teeth to bite my fingers off.

For real, though, with the amount of carrots going in to those animals, I was shocked at the apparent lack of carrots coming out. If I ate nothing but carrots all day, I’d be shitting like a fiend. But their pen was very clean. I guess this is why I am not a “exotic and amazing!” farm animal.

After petting the zoo, we did a few rides. Can you believe the hubs had never been on that one where you stand in the big spinning cylinder and stick to the wall? That one was definitely a favorite when I was a kid. Except…I thought I remembered that the floor dropped away, leaving you screaming and stuck to the cylinder wall and praying that the carnie dude  below – who you could totally see in his little booth because THE FLOOR WAS GONE – would remember to turn the ride off before wandering away in search of another joint.

Apparently the floor doesn’t drop anymore. Count that as the second disappointment of the day.

Oh well. Even if the burgers are a letdown and the rides are all sissy, the fair is always a good time.

(I elected to take a picture of us with my phone, instead of buying one of those giant felt wall hangings where they put your picture in the middle, usually framed by an airbrushed heart and horrible caption like “4 EVER IN LUV.” Not that I ever bought one of those. Nope, never.)

The fair fare improved as the evening wore on. Funnel cake is always a hit:

And for something healthy, a chocolate-dipped, rainbow-sprinkle-encrusted frozen banana:

I’m happy to say that this nutritious food carried me through a lovely long run on Saturday morning. 13 mellow miles with some running buddies, then 4 miles at goal marathon pace, then 3 more easy to bring it to 20 total:

(Okay, so I had some fruit and leftover pizza when we got home…and a coffee and Clif bar when I awoke…and a pack of Chomps and a Second Surge gel mid-run…but I’m pretty sure it was the funnel cake that fueled those marathon pace miles!)

A seven mile recovery run today brings this week’s total just shy of 60 miles!

And with no doubles. That’s rare! I usually have trouble cracking 50 unless I do at least one two-a-day. I suppose that 20-miler helped.

Also, I’m THISCLOSE to finalizing marathon plans for this winter. Look for the OMG BIG ANNOUNCEMENT soon.

Cheers and happy Sunday!

What’s your favorite fair fare? And your stance on the Krispy Kreme Burger?

Sounds like music

My college cross-country team used to do this workout that our coach labeled on our little photocopied workout schedules: “The Sound Of Music.”

“Why is it called that?” I can remember asking whoever was crammed next to me in the crowded van, blinking the sleep out of my freshman eyes, as the vehicle climbed up toward the dark foothills of the San Bernadino mountains.

“Because the hills are alive,” someone answered.

Alive and ready to chew us up and spit us out. The workout was a longish run that basically consisted of running up the side of a mountain along a twisting and turning fire road. I wanted to die. I remember actually wishing that a cougar would jump out on the trail and attack me because then no one could fault me for not finishing the workout!

Looking back, the only charitable thing I can think of to say about “The Sound Of Music” is that it was a character-building workout.

This week’s Wednesday night speed session was similarly character building.

The assignment: 2 X 2.5 miles, 3-5 min recovery between. Pace: Half marathon pace, or about 7:20. Terrain: the hilly Reedy Creek trail at Umstead.

The results: Um…

I managed to hit HMP on the first mile. The first totally downhill mile. After that, it all went to shit.

Those hills were definitely alive. And as I puffed and chugged my way up the first big one, I gave up even trying to run goal pace. It was all I could do to just keep running.

In retrospect, I should have left the Garmin at home and focused on effort. Or used my neglected heart-rate monitor. Because it wasn’t that I didn’t get a good hard workout in – I did. And eight-minute average pace on those hills, for me, is not terrible. But seeing how slowly I was running was definitely disheartening and put me in a pretty foul mood for most of this workout.

Did I mention the humidity? And the bugs? Because the air was thick with both. It felt like July all over again. At the end of this workout, I stripped off my tank top and wrung it out on the road, creating a rather large puddle. I then used it to wipe the dead bugs from my arms, legs and face. I even scooped a little trail of insect corpses out of my cleavage. It was pretty sexy.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to take away from a workout like this one, except that I survived it. Clearly, I’m not the strongest hill runner at the moment. I don’t know if that’s something I should try to work on, or just take it for what it is and seek out races with relatively flat courses.

One thing I’m pretty sure of, though: after ten long miles (warm-up and cool-down included), I deserved beer.

And this Saranac Octoberfest fit the bill perfectly. A Marzen/Amber Lager, it had a nice caramel flavor balanced by some light hops. Nothing too fancy, but very drinkable, and easy to enjoy more than one at 5.4% ABV.

Bottom Line: Sure, it’s not a bad choice. (Purchased at Peace Street Market, $8/six)

Yesterday and today, I’ve been logging easy miles in preparation for a twenty-miler – hopefully, with a handful of miles at goal marathon pace…now that I have a theoretical goal marathon on the docket.

Speaking of which, thanks so much for all of your race suggestions on yesterday’s post! I have a plan brewing and am working out the details. I’ll let y’all know once I get it finalized. And also, TEH HUBZ says thanks for the well-wishes on his injury recovery.

Happy Friday!

Athens…2012

Gah. I’ve put off writing this post all week because…well, it sucks.

We’re not going to Greece this year.

Everything was going swell until about a month ago, when hubzilla started having some injury-type issues. (Non-running-related, actually.) We were both pretty confident that he’d heal up and be back on track in a couple of weeks, but the damn thing has lingered. To the point where he still can’t really run. I feel terrible for him, having this happen after putting in a solid year of building up his mileage and endurance in order to train for this thing.

Last week, we had the inevitable crappy conversation about what to do about Athens.

Option #1: We could go anyway and he’d do his best to get across the finish line, most likely in a lot of pain and with more walking than running.

I actively discouraged this. Because that really doesn’t sound like fun. And I want his first marathon to be a positive experience.

Option #2: We could go anyway, and I’d run the race, and he’d spectate.

Well, frankly, that doesn’t sound like much fun either. We go to an awesome fun new country and he gets to be in vacation mode while I’m in race prep mode? Screw that. Besides, this race was sort of his thing to begin with. And it’s a lot of money to spend on travel for me to run a half-assed race on a slow course.

Option #3: We bag the whole thing.

Which sucks. But it feels like the right thing to do.

The Athens Classic Marathon isn’t going anywhere; it’ll be there in 2012. And, I hope, so will we.

Because I’m not letting all this research and planning go to waste! I’m especially bummed because hotels are pretty cheap over there right now (one of the perks of traveling in a crumbling economy…sorry about that, Athenians…) but on the flip side, maybe next year we won’t have to worry about transit strikes and stuff.

Anyway. This leaves my fall race calendar wide open. Which is…kind of fun, actually!

I had planned to do a spring goal-race marathon, but now I’m considering bumping that up a bit (December? January?) so I can capitalize on the longer stuff I’ve done so far this summer/fall.

If you need me, I’ll be poring over marathonguide.com.