How to do a Breakfast Run

Thinking about jumping on the Breakast Run bandwagon?  Wondering how to make it happen?  Not a morning runner?  You can apply the same process to a Happy Hour Run or a Dinner Run.  (Brunch run?  Lunch run?)

You’ll figure out what works best for you, but if you’re curious, here’s our process:

  1. Plan Breakfast – start discussing it throughout the week.  It’s nice to start thinking about the weekend when you’re facing Monday.  Look at upcoming events like Slab’s first day of serving breakfast and consider that.  The night before, finalize your plan, decide that 10:00 is too late for a breakfast run, and decide to go to Hot Suppa.  Yelp is a great resource for planning your breakfast run, since you can filter by when the restaurant is open if you’re shooting for a certain time.  If you’re local to Portland, Portland Food Map has a nice list of breakfast/brunch places here.
  2. Plan the Run – Once you have a place picked out, plan your route.  Figure out how many miles you plan to go and try to find a route where you’ll run most of your miles before breakfast.  For example, we (well, Mike) needed to run 10 miles today, and Hot Suppa is about 2 miles from our house.  We planned to run from our house, up State Street, over the Million Dollar Bridge and on to the Eastern Trail for 5 miles then turn around and end up back at Hot Suppa arriving there by about mile 8.  That way, we’d only have about 2 miles left to go when we were full of breakfast and breakfast beverages.
  3. Wake up with the sun – Figure out what time your chosen restaurant opens, and try to be the first one there.  Hot Suppa opens at 7:30, so we planned to hit the road by 6:15.  That way you don’t have to worry about reservations, lines, etc.
  4. Waffle – wake up at 6:00, decide you don’t really want to get out of bed, check Facebook, delete your junk email, read the blogs in your reader, check the weather, start thinking about what you’re going to wear, wake up the spouse who said, emphatically, that we’re waking up with the sun.  Tell him that it’s time to get up and that you’re getting up and wait for the cuddle that will make sure you don’t actually get up.  Wait for spouse to tell you that he actually doesn’t want to go to Hot Suppa and wants something lighter.  Consider Ohno and Dutch’s.  Surf Yelp for awhile figuring out what would be open at this hour.  Decide on Sinful Kitchen which is decidedly NOT lighter than Hot Suppa and plan a new route.
  5. Get dressed – check the weather again.  The best running advice I’ve ever gotten is to plan for 20 degrees warmer that the actual temperature considering that you’ll warm up when you run.  It was 39 when we started out this morning, so I tried to plan for about 60.  Went with running tights, wool base layer, and short sleeve race T over that – just so I wouldn’t be in all black.  (This probably goes without saying, but also brush your teeth, go to the bathroom, do something about your hair, etc.)
  6. Pack – I’d love to be able to do a breakfast run without carrying anything, but no matter the weather, I get really cold as soon as I stop running.  I bring my hydration backpack – I have this one:5035nlbd_moxy_bluedanube_back_form_nwI just remove the water holder.  In the summer, we both just pack an extra t-shirt.  I get cold even then, plus it’s just gross to go into a restaurant in a shirt drenched with sweat.  In the summer, we just do a quick change outside the restaurant.  I’m always wearing a sports bra, so it’s not like stripping down completely.  In the winter (which is really the only other season in Maine), I usually order my drink then sneak off to the bathroom to change.  I usually pack an extra long-sleeved race shirt and one of my wool-blend sweatshirts.  Mike is more stoic and insists that his fancy wool shirt prevents him from getting cold.  Then of course, we bring at least one phone to take pictures and check in on Facebook (priorities, right?) and a credit card and ids (not that, being in our forties, we’ve been carded yet).
  7. Run – in a way, this is kind of the easy part.  Think about what you’re going to get for breakfast.  Get hungry.  It’s best to make your Breakfast Run an easy run with no pace goal, but if you are shooting for a certain pace, try to “bank” some time in this part of the run.  You probably won’t be setting any records after breakfast.
  8. Eat – yum – this is the moment you’ve been waiting for.  Maybe walk for a minute or two before you walk into the restaurant, so you’re not breathing too heavily. Ooops – wait, don’t forget to stop your watch.  Pause it, don’t stop it, you have more running to do.  Steel yourself for some puzzled looks but assume that the restaurant appreciates your business way more than they care about your weird clothing and sweaty, heavy-breathing self.  Catch your breath, order a drink (I don’t recommend coffee, I’ve felt really strange running after a cup, heart-racing, etc, but I know a lot of runners drink coffee, and it does seem like a great way to warm up, so figure that one our for yourself), visit the bathroom to change clothes, pick out your breakfast, check-in on Facebook to make sure all your friends feel guilty that they’re still in bed, enjoy your breakfast but decide that what your partner got looks much better and have a few bites of that, too.  Refuse the box that the waitress offers for the leftovers, since it would be awkward to run with it.
  9. Get yourself home – this is the hard part.  Get packed up, don’t forget your watch that you left on the table.  Maybe take a picture outside the restaurant, then start hobbling running home.  It will probably hurt at first, but remember that you’ll warm up again quickly and home (and the bathroom) is not that far away.
  10. Prep for step 11 – run out and get the kids donuts or some kind of fancy kid breakfast (bagels work, Lucky Charms work, even the gross supermarket powdered mini donuts work) to limit nagging.
  11. Relax – have another mimosa, take a shower, settle in on the couch to watch football, fall asleep, wake up and feel guilty that you didn’t accomplish all you wanted to over the weekend and start step 1 all over again.  Hey, at least your got your running in!

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Happy running.  Thanks for reading.

p.s. don’t forget to take your wet, sweaty old clothes out of your backpack.  Trust me, you won’t want to wait until you need your pack again next weekend to smell them.

Race Review: Saint Brigid School Harvest Hustle 5k (????)

I’m sentimental for this race for a couple of reasons: 1) This is part of the annual Harvest Fair Fundraiser at Saint Brigid School where I teach and our daughter, Addie, attends, and 2) This was the first race (last year) in my current running journey.  I also had a small part in the race organization as the person in charge of ordering and delivering the race T-shirts.  Fortunately, I was able to get the shirts printed and delivered ahead of time thanks to the great folks, Tony and Jennifer Balzano, at Hanging By A Thread.

After a great couple of weeks to start my training for the 2016 Austin Marathon in February, I was convinced that I would achieve a PR in this race.  Additionally, this was the first 5k in a while that I would be able to have a rest day before the race (my last PR had an 8 mile run the day before and a morning run prior to the evening race).  Things turned out that Friday night lasted a little longer than expected.  Katie and I were invited to an 80s themed birthday party at Bubba’s Sulky Lounge (that place would make for an interesting Breakfast Night Out Run Review…It was great, but upon entering I first felt like I was in the scene of True Detective Season One at the Biker Bar).  Katie really got into the spirit of the party with some 80s style Big Hair:

Hoping Katie doesn’t mind this look on the blog!

One thing led to another and I did not exactly have the recommended pre-race evening intake of hydration and healthy food.  Rather, I was up past midnight and enjoyed too much a couple of adult libations.

Fortunately, I was miraculously up with the sun in time to hydrate, have a breakfast snack, and run a 1.5 mile warm-up to the start line (this is one of the most shocking changes for me since running this race a year ago.  Last year I was sure not to waste a single step running during warm-ups in fear that it would cause me not to finish the race).

It looked like there was a decent turnout for the race and we had fun watching the Kids  Childrens (kids are baby goats!  Does that sound snobby; I don’t know) Fun Run prior to the start (disappointingly the total race turnout was around 50 runners).  Earlier this week, I did scouting run on the course which would be 5K on Baxter Boulevard.  We’ve run the Boulevard many times, but I wanted to get another look at it in order to plan a PR strategy.  My goal was a sub 23 minute race, so my pace would have to be around 7:24 per mile.  I planned to run a 7:30 first mile with 7:20 the last 2.1 miles.  I did some further pre-race cheatin’ preparation with a Gu (I can hear the “real” runners’ groans) and a (gasp!) Red Bull.  I feel like the 5k race is about an energy burst, so I wanted as some excess in the tank for a fast (for me at least) pace.

A few minutes before race time it was time to shed the warm-up gear (no wool needed today since the temperature was near 60 degrees) and pin on my bib (even for this race my hands were shaking…still get nervous for races!)

Getting ready to run the Harvest Hustle!

As Katie previously posted, our daughter, Addie, was in this race also with Katie.  It was fun to have them there and would later be exciting to cheer Addie on at the finish!

So, as I’m heading to the start line, the Race Director informed us that the race would be the full Boulevard (3.6 miles).  Ugh!!!  What!  My thoughts were now that even if I hit a 5K PR it wouldn’t count!  WTF! (What the Frak!…any BSG fans out there?).  Most of the racers were students from Saint Brigid (I’m so impressed with many of the 9-12 year olds who ran this race with awesome times…a 12 year old won it with a sub 7:00 per mile pace!) who didn’t pay attention to were unfazed by the announcement, but the adults groaned knowing an extra half mile had been snuck in there!  At any other race this would have caused a riot an uproar, but everyone seemed to take it in stride.  After some encouraging words from our Principal, Bill Burke, we started the race!

The pace started fast.  Many of the students shot out at a full sprint not really comprehending how long 5K is.  I had my sights set on beating matching a couple of middle school students that I teach, but they set out at a sub 7:00 pace.  I was drawn in for a quarter mile, but I managed to pull it back before I totally flamed out.  at the 1/2 mile mark I found a runner to pace off of.  She was definitely experienced (turns out she has run many races and is a parent of a former student of mine) since she was maintaining a 7:10-7:15 pace, and at her heels, I managed a 7:09 first mile.  Shortly after, I passed my competition students (I feel bad because I think they were a bit upset that I passed them and they expended too much energy early on and finished well below their potential times; still, they had impressive times).

Just around mile 2 of the Boulevard there is a slight incline.  In prior races and training runs, I have been able to turn it on here and pass other racers (Katie sometimes jokingly I think calls me the “Hill Killer”).  I had been pacing off of my “rabbit” and was convinced I would pass her at this point.  I made two moves and each time she picked it up to stay in front.  Just couldn’t muster enough to pass her.  I think she was just toying with me, because it turns out she was staying just behind her son (12 years old) and husband for the race.  Try as I might, I was not able to catch them (they finished about 15 seconds ahead of me in the end).

The biggest disappointment from this race is that at the 5K mark, my TOMTOM Runner GPS Watch had me at a 7:20 per mile pace which would have been my PR, BUT (!) I still had to run another half fraking (BSG again) mile! I gutted it out, but still watched my average pace time climb.  I was happy that no other runners passed me during the home stretch (usually a horde seems to pass my burnt out, slow ass  me by at the finish).  I finished the 3.6 mile course in 26:26.  Turns out this was a PR time which is very exciting, but I won’t officially count it until I achieve it in an official 5K race.  Looks like I’ll have to wait for our race in December, the 6th Annual Portland Brewer’s Holiday Dash 5K hosted by Ri Ra Irish Pub.

It was a great day despite the last minute distance change.  I hit a PR, came in 8th overall (first top 10 finish ever), and most importantly, it was great to run the final stretch with Addie as she completed her first 5K ever!

I’m hopeful this race will continue with some improved organization.  It is for a great cause (and my employment!) and Portland is a great venue for a race.  Many people are hoping the race can move back to our neighborhood (that’s another story) where the turnout will have an increase.  Maybe we’ll have to take a shot at being Race Directors for 2016…

See you on the road!


Addie’s First 5K!

It’s been a busy weekend so far, but the most exciting thing is that our youngest daughter finished her first 5K this morning.
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Now all four kids have done at least one 5K.  Sadly none of them are as addicted to running as we are.  Yet.

The race was put on by Addie’s school, and there was some kind of reward for the class with the most participants, so she was motivated to help her class.  Our plan was to walk some and run some.  She made sure to tell me that she would decide when we would run and when we would walk.  (I think she’s heard Mike complain a time or two about me setting too fast a pace and always wanting to be one step ahead.)  I’m actually surprised she was even concerned.  She thinks she can run 35 miles an hour, since she and Mike happened to be running by one of those digital signs that tells cars how fast they’re going when a car going 35mph also went by.  We don’t have the heart to explain.

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We ended up walking more than we ran, but I was impressed that she never gave up running completely – didn’t even really consider it.  As we were walking along, we’d pick out trees, signs, benches, etc. off in the distance where we’d plan to start running again and pick another landmark where we would stop.  We were excited to see Mike/Dad waiting near the end and made sure to be running when we went by him and got some high fives.  We took a quick walk break after that to make sure we’d have enough left to finish strong and managed to pick up our pace at the end for in impressive 54 minute or so time (the course was actually about half a mile too long – so we did about 3.6 miles).

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Addie told me later that she thought it was cool that people she didn’t even know were cheering her on.  I like that in a race, too.  Mike also had a great race, but I’ll let him write about that.

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Thanks for reading!

Bread Run! Big Sky Bread Company

The day after our trip down Memory Lane to the Mid-Coast, we decided to stay close to home.  During most training weeks, the longest run of the week is scheduled for Sunday, but Saturday’s 10 mile jaunt through Camden-Rockport took care of that.  On the drive home home, Katie and I decided that this week’s football food would be a Fall favorite, Thanksgiving Turkey sandwiches.  There are many variations of this classic, but ours were going to be the basic turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, aruglua (OK, a little fancy, I’m an iceberg guy, Katie needs a little more class in her sandwiches), and mayo (in hindsight, I forgot to include gravy, but we’ll have some homemade gravy for the day after Thanksgiving version).  Besides quality turkey, the key ingredient to this heavenly sandwich concoction is the bread.  Without hesitation, we decided that Big Sky Bread Company located in our neighborhood across the street from Bayou Kitchen and Abilene (a recent Breakfast Run).

Big  Sky is located in a really cool converted Fire House building in Woodford’s corner.  I love the businesses that choose to rehab old structures.  It maintains the character of the neighborhood and those buildings are irreplaceable.

The main Big Sky Bakery located in this beautiful building at Woodford’s Corner.

Sunday was damp and chilly, so after a slow four miles (still was sore from Saturday), the warmth amazing aroma of the bakery was a fantastic feeling after the run.  Besides their organic Maine bread, Big Sky has offers a coffee, sandwiches and other baked deliciousness.  They always provide generous free samples of bread and other treats.  I was tempted to enjoy a coffee or hot chocolate, but decided not to since my hands would be full for the walk home.  Instead, I went straight to the bread racks and selected a loaf each for the Old Fashioned White and Honey Wheat.  

Each loaf was $4.50, which seems to be priced just right or could even be called a bargain.  These are not your typical grocery store loaves of Wonder Bread (although I have to confess that sometimes nothing beats a PB&J on squishy white bread, especially when the J is Katie’s homemade strawberry jam).  Big Sky’s bread is over-sized loaves that you can imagine flowing over the bread pan as they were baked.  It has nice weight to it and the slices have perfectly sized holes you picture in classic sliced bread.

My favorite Big Sky loaf is the Old Fashioned White.  In fact, that bread toasted with butter and cinnamon is glorious.  I went with the Old Fashioned for my Thanksgiving sandwich and was not disappointed.  Later in the week I brought a boring traditional turkey with lettuce and mayo sandwich to work and it was the best most delicious part of my workday.

It was kind of fun making the walk back to the house with a loaf of bread swinging from each hand while still in my running gear (BTW, my PEP shirt was magical once again and stayed warm in the damp conditions even after cooling down before the walk home).

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The Loaves and the Ultras!

On this trip I signed on for Big Sky’s frequent loaf buyer punch card.  Looking forward to making our way to that 13th loaf being free!  We’ll have to plan a Breakfast Run here soon, so that we can post a full review.  For now the bottom line is that Big Sky is the best thing since sliced bread an awesome bakery and cafe stop!

See you on the road!

Boynton McKay Review

This past weekend we had one of our best runs ever in Camden and Rockport.  In case you don’t follow every. single. post.  I blogged about it here.  It was amazing how quickly the miles ticked away as we were reminiscing about our childhoods there.  I listed a lot of those in my last post, so I won’t bore you with that.

(Well, wait, I can’t help myself – here are a few more that I remembered remembering after that last post; the fabric store where my mom worked (who knew I would end up loving fabric so much), The Sail Loft where my mom also worked and brought home butter mints in her pocket which I stole (maybe they were meant for me), the soccer fields where I first played which were close to the parking lot where I begged very suavely asked Mike for my first ride in his car, the room where we first learned to type, my first elementary school (K-2) where I felt like a loser for not being able to figure out right and left or how to tie my shoes, my second elementary school where I also played soccer later and where Mike played Babe Ruth baseball and where I remember watching my younger sister play field hockey and which seems to be, other than the fields, completely obliterated from this Earth.  Holy run-on sentence.  Mrs. Crockett would be appalled.)

So, back to Boynton McKay.  I remember (vaguely) going there with my Mom.  I can picture stuff along the side walls and a giant fixture in the middle that mostly had greeting cards on either side.  I think you could get root beer floats, too which we may have done a time or two.  I can’t really picture it accurately though, and can’t seem to (quickly) find any old images of the interior.  Like I said in my last post, it was featured in Olive Kitteridge, so watch that if you want to picture it.  What I do remember is walking into town with my mom and sister.  We had one of those cool (probably not at all safe) strollers where my sister (younger) could ride in the stroller part, and I could stand on the back.  It was yellow-ish with brown flowers.  About at 70’s as you could get.  My Adelle-Davis-worshipper-of-a-mom made us eat mostly health food which by today’s standards is Guantanamo-Bay-Style torture (gluten-free’s got nothing on this).  Think bread that no amount of water (or Kombucha) will moisten and peanut butter that’s barely more than peanuts littered across a 100% whole wheat landscape.  Why, oh why, would anyone never trade me their fluffernutter sandwich?  We must  have worn her down though because on that walk from our rented house Sea Street to downtown (what a great location near the ocean and my best friend Kari), we, every once in awhile got to stop at Nash’s which was across the street from Boynton McKay.  Every time, without fail, I got a hostess cupcake – well they came two to a package – pretty much the same as today.  I don’t know if you can even still get them, I’ve outgrown my desire for them, but I got the orange-ish ones that I think were vanilla because I was somehow convinced I was allergic to chocolate.  (I’m over that now, too.)

Holy Cow, do I ever digress???

So today, Boynton McKay is much hipper, like Brooklyn-hip (or is that so far in, it’s out?).  After having read a few reviews, I was worried that if we didn’t get there at precisely the opening hour of 7:00 a.m., we’d never get a seat.  After our running tour through Camden and Rockport, I think we ended up there around nine.  Business was booming, but there were at least two open tables, one of which we competitively snagged (okay probably just me, Mike is much more laid back).

I really enjoyed the private feeling of the tall booths.  I got the same feeling at Artemisia.  It is just somehow more relaxing to my introverted self.Untitled

Honestly, I was not crazy about the go-to-the-counter ordering system.  I really prefer to have someone come and wait on me.  It sounds snobby, and maybe it is, but I like to have a lot of time to peruse the menu, and going up to the counter makes me feel too much pressure to decide quickly.  And honestly, after a long run, I feel like I deserve to be waited on.

That said, the Boynton McKay staff was very patient with us when we waffled about our choices (again with the breakfast puns) and asked lots of questions.  (Yes, you can order breakfast OR lunch any time of day – which frankly just made the decisions harder.)  We were a bit puzzled by the sword-bearing, mustachioed woman behind the counter (but we are accepting of hipster-dom) until we remembered it was Halloween.

I was really tempted by the lunch-time quesadilla with black beans and avocado but decided to be disciplined and stick with the breakfast options.  I didn’t wander far afield and ordered the Huevos Rancheros.  I’ve been kind of on a Mexican breakfast kick.

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It was really delicious.  My best bite was one where the cheese had burned onto the dish to the point where I thought there was a crispy corn tortilla underneath.  Every other bite was delicious as well.  There was a yummy, warm, giant flour tortilla (which I much prefer to the healthier corn variation – I mean we’d just run ten miles – who cares?!).  We debated whether it was homemade or not.  It was at least warmed and grilled there, and delicious.  The combination of that and the hot beans, eggs, and cheese, and the cool tomato salsa was orgasmic.  My only complaint was that there wasn’t more salsa.  In hindsight, I suppose I could have asked for more.

Also, in hindsight, I wished I’d ordered a side of home fries.  That’s my favorite thing about breakfast, and I order them almost everywhere I go.  I must have been overwhelmed beyond my senses by being “back home”.  That’s what happens when I don’t have enough time to pour over the menu.  I did have a seat with a nice view of the menu and thought that next time I would order the home fries with chorizo and other nacho-esque toppings.
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There was a lot going on that day, and everyone else seemed to belong but us.  I think that mostly a result of us having previously been part of that community and now not having any clue about it.  They were giving away cute little ghost like meringues to anyone in costume. Honestly, Mike really should have qualified in his Sprockets outfit.
UntitledI was honestly surprised how uninhibited Mike was in the restaurant, but you should have seen him at home.  Oh wait, you can . . .
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There was a nice help-yourself coffee area (for us normal coffee drinkers anyway, it doesn’t apply to fancy-schmancy cappuchino drinkers) which also had water, Kombucha, etc.  The water had a green tinge and was advertised as local Absinthe.  I thought Absinthe was a previously-illegal-to-the-US-beverage for it’s murderous properties, so I was surprised that they were giving it away for free.  Finally, Mike was convinced to try some.  It pretty much tasted like water.  At that point, we finally realized, it was a Halloween joke.  Duuh.  Very funny, Boynton McKay.

Mike had the French Toast which I had to sample, of course.  It was delicious, but I’ll let him do his own blog post.

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All in all, we will definitely be back to Boynton McKay.  We enjoyed it thoroughly.  The only improvements I would make are; real adult beverages (absinthe aside), more salsa on the Heuvos, and wait service while ordering.  The last I could certainly live without, since, maybe that’s part of the appeal of the place, and like I said, the people were wonderful and didn’t rush us at all.

Definitely go to Camden if you have the chance.  I think leaf season has pretty much passed, but at least the leaves are still on the trees (even though mostly brown), so you might be able to eek out this weekend or the next.  Beyond that, you’ll have to appreciate winter or wait until July.  The Camden Snow Bowl is fun if you’re a skier.

Thanks for reading.  And eating.  Happy running.  And thanks to my brother, Simon, for the recommendation.

Good Mail Day

This came for me today.
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I’m super excited even though it’s a long way off. This will be my second Boston Marathon. I was so nervous for the first one (you can read my recap on my old blog here), and I certainly will be for this one, but I think I’ll be able to enjoy it a bit more. Now that I have seen the size of the expo, I’m going to plan to spend a lot more time (and money) there.

We have Austin to do before then (can you think of a more romantic thing to do on Valentine’s Day?), and April seems so far away that I haven’t put much thought into it yet, but I do want to consider what I’ll do differently this time (besides, of course, more shopping).

Anyone else out there doing Boston?

Amazing Run in Camden/Rockport

UntitledWe had a such a great breakfast run this weekend that I can’t possibly limit it to one post.  I’ll talk about the breakfast part later.  Portland is a beautiful place to run, and we really love living here, but every once in a while, it’s nice to run somewhere else.  (I haven’t had a chance yet, but I want to create a map with a pin for every state, city, town where I’ve run – and maybe a different color pin where I’ve raced.)

All year, we’d seriously been considering doing this 6.66 mile race in Salem, MA, but it just seemed like too much to pull together in the end.  I’m not sure what got the idea into our heads, but we decided to drive up to Camden instead.  No race, just running and eating.  I grew up in Camden, and Mike grew up in Rockport, so it was going to be pretty cool to run by and possibly eat at our old haunts.  I wanted to eat at The Rockport Corner Shop, but alas, it’s not there anymore (OMG, who says “alas”?!  I should probably mention I’m having a glass of red wine while I write this post.)

I consulted my brother who has been in the area most recently, and he recommended Boynton McKay.  It used to be a drug store.  I remember shopping for greeting cards there with my mom when I was pretty young.  Maybe Addie’s age (8).  If you’ve seen Olive Kitteridge, it’s the drug store where the husband works.  That’s more how I remember it, but now it’s a very hip restaurant.  But, again, that’s a blog post for another day.

Anyway, both our families have moved away from the area, and apparently we didn’t make strong enough connections in high school to go back and visit classmates.  Neither of us could remember when we were last there, but our oldest son was baptized there in 1996 or so.  I think we may have gone back a bit later to help my parents move away, but that wouldn’t have been long after.  Let’s say, it’s been at least 15 years.

We’d made the plan about a week ago, so I thought about it off and on all week.  I wasn’t sure how I’d feel; emotional, maybe? or disappointed in the changes?  The day finally arrived, and since we’ve been busy watching the Mets in the World Series, it was a late Friday night.  For some reason that I still don’t understand, Mike wanted to set out on the 90 minute drive super early.  He said, “4:00 a.m., no bellyaching”.  I’m pretty much a morning person, so I was okay with that.  I woke up in the middle of the night as I often do, and realized that all of our running clothes were in the washing machine.  Waking up in the middle of the night and actually getting up are completely different things, but I managed to drag myself out of bed to put the laundry in the dryer.  Waking Mike up wasn’t quite as easy, but we did manage to leave the house by around 5:30.  It really stresses me out to be late, so I was worried Boynton McKay would be jam packed by the time we finished running, but I figured we’d go with one thing at a time.

After stopping in Wiscasset for gas and people-hydration, we arrived in Camden around 7:15 or so.  At that hour, we had no problem finding parking across from Boynton McKay.  We ignored the 2 hour parking signs assuming we’d be done running by then and would move the car if need be, but really who was going to be marking tires at that time of year at that time of day?  But that did trigger my first memory of the day of a uniformed woman walking through town drawing yellow chalk marks on cars’ tires.

Mike was shooting for about 10 miles.  I didn’t really care what we did.  (Injured, more about that another day, too.)  Then again, I don’t like not having a plan, so I sketched out a rudimentary route that I figured would at least give us 6 miles or so.  Here’s what we ended up doing:Capture

It was absolutely gorgeous,
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(It’s moose-huntin’ season here, so it was handy that Mike had on his blaze orange.)
and brought back so many unexpected memories as we went along.  Two of my first jobs in retail (motivation for college), my dad’s first office when he started his cheese company (creme fraiche first), where my bus stopped to pick up my friend, Joy Anderson, (and other kids who seemed weird at the time and others that I now know were bullied – the boy with the girlish name, for example), the park I ran away to when I was mad at my parents, the house I fantasized about living in as my bus drove by,

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the oreo cows that are so sentimental that my dad now owns six or so,
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(those are the ones in Rockport, but here’s a close up of one of my Dad’s:)
DSC_3169(That’s them on a colder day last winter. The one in the front is called “Two Tags”. She’s very naughty. I like to call her, “Lunch”.)
and of course, their home,

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(Mike once put a Bangor Daily News mailbox in the middle of their field.  I suppose they wanted to keep up with current events.  As mischievous as that seems, doesn’t that seem better than playing Halo?)

the place where Mike played golf,
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Andre the seal,
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(some of us were being a bit sillier than others)
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the white arch between Rockport and Camden that we remembered getting hit by a truck and requiring major fundraisers to rebuild,

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the church I had to walk to every Monday to attend CCD with a very small contingent of other Catholics
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and where we later got married,
Untitled(Please forgive the helmet head, I’d been wearing my hood.)
our high school that’s now the middle school,
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the car wash that Mike remembered and I didn’t that was owned by one of our schoolmates families, where we used to swim in the river,
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my old house,
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(which is actually for sale – check it out here.  We were tempted for a second.)
the park where we used to hang out and counted our coins to try to save up enough money for a tent to go camping,
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the waterfall that housed lots of ducks that we used to feed.
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(And also the back of the deli where I used to get sandwiches for my lunch break at work and was owned by our friends’ family.)

We had a lovely breakfast then hit up Maine Sport where my sister used to work.  It’s like a mini L.L. Bean.  We spent quite a bit of time looking at running gear and feeding Mike’s new love of merino wool.  I’ll let him blog about it, but he just might have purchased wool underwear!

After that, we hit up The Market Basket which was probably my first ever experience with gourmet food.  As you might have surmised, I do really like to eat. Growing up in Maine in the 80’s (okay fine, and 70’s), I’m not sure there really was the concept of French Bread, so The Market Basket provided me with my first taste of it, and it was so good that I’ve been seeking a duplicate ever since.  The closest I’ve come is the Bread Baker’s Apprentice pain a l’ancienne.  Mike and I used to buy their delicious sandwiches made on the French Bread and a couple of 35 cent peanut butter balls then continue down Route 1 to Miss Plum’s for a pint of ice cream; usually half raspberry chocolate chip and half coconut hash, but sometimes malted milk ball would sub in.  We would take them to Beauchamp Point
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(On the way to Beauchamp Point – 20 plus years later.)
and climb down on the rocks and enjoy them along with some teenage romance.
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(The view of Rockport Harbor from those rocks.)
I don’t know (but I probably should know seeing as we have 3 teenagers now) if kids still do those kinds of things today.

We didn’t see any sign of Miss Plums, but Market Basket was still going strong.  The bread was yummy, and I think pretty much how I remembered it.  I really like baking, and, in hindsight, I’m pretty sure my motivation was to try to duplicate this French Bread, and, even though it’s not technically baking, the peanut butter balls, too.
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(The peanut butter balls were almost too fancy now with their white candy wrappers on the platter.  I remember them just being in a wooden basket by the counter.)
Both things were delicious from The Market Basket, but I’m satisfied with my replicas.  Even though there were kind of different (on focaccia and wraps instead of French Bread), they still had a great variety of sandwiches and we snagged a Thanksgiving-style turkey sandwich which was probably even better than the sandwiches we had back in the day and inspired Thanksgiving sandwiches for lunch/dinner today.

I was curious to see if we’d see anyone we knew, but funnily enough the only people we recognized were a couple that we know from Portland who were in town for the weekend hiking.  I think I recognized the mother of a distant classmate, but that was about it.

On our way out of town, we swung by Mike’s old house and grabbed a quick shot while the people inside were looking out at us then made our escape back to Portland.
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We didn’t really appreciate the area growing up, but really enjoyed going back and seeing it through new and old eyes.  Go, if you can!  We will definitely be paying another visit.  Who knows what other memories will surface.

Review of Abilene

UntitledLast weekend, we had sort of an unorthodox breakfast run.  We didn’t get up quite as early as we should have and had to get our oldest daughter to dance practice by nine.  We had plenty of time to get in a 6-miler but not to also eat breakfast.  So we decided to run, take her to dance, then eat.  That worked out nicely because we decided to invite our two youngest to come along.  Sometimes I do feel guilty for ditching them in the early morning hours (even though they are often not even awake when we get home).
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We had planned to go to our much-loved, neighborhood Bayou Kitchen.  We call it “BK” for short (sooo not to be confused with Burger King).  It’s fairly close to our house, so we walked (not ran) there with our two youngest in tow (not that young – 14 and 8).  We got stuck waiting for a (60+ car) train which was actually kind of entertaining.  As it gets colder, it won’t be.  We definitely KNOW better than to get to BK later than 9 on a weekend, but the dance thing put it out of our control (will she ever get her license????).  We got to BK and the hostess thought it would be about a 30 minute wait.  Waiting for the train was okay, but it was a bit chilly to hang out for 30 minutes in the cold, so we decided to check out Abilene next door.  (Full disclosure, you can kill lots of time checking out Artist & Craftsman across the street.  It’s very cool and interesting, but we were HUNGRY). I didn’t know much about it other than skimming a review on Portland Food Map and hearing from our oldest son (19, who had probably gone for the same reason of not wanting to wait for a table at BK) that it was kind of weird.

There was a decent crowd there, but nothing like BK, and we got a table right away.  There seemed to be only one hostess/waitress, but she managed to keep up just fine.  The biggest advantage of Abilene so far over BK was that they had adult beverages.  We’re sort of starting to setting in with breakfast drinks with Mike ordering a Bloody Mary and me ordering a Mimosa.  (Are there other breakfast drinks?  If so, please share!)
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I loved my mimosa, but I was kind of overloaded on sweet, and I really enjoyed my sip of Mike’s Bloody Mary, so I ordered on of those next.  Aren’t the embellishments cool?
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Mike is a die hard BK fan.  He struggles between a breakfast-y thing and their amazing Chicken Piquant each time and mostly ends up with Chicken Piquant with a side of Moxie and grits.  I waffle (hah, hah, just noticed the breakfast pun) between their breakfast sandwich and their nacho-style home fries with bacon, cheese, sour cream, and salsa.  I used to LOVE their home fries which had a nice taste of cajun seasoning and some crispy fried-ness on the edges.  Now they’re kind of just regular homies, so I’m not always quite so ready to hit up BK (between that and the lack of mimosas).

I was impressed with the less traditional menu from Abilene.  (Can’t seem to find the menu online.)  I ordered something sort of like Huevos Rancheros.  Apparently, I’ve been on a Tex-Mex breakfast kick.  My dish had scrambled eggs with chorizo sausage which had a great, savory flavor, although, my favorite local chorizo so far is from Hella Taco. There were some lovely flour tortillas and black beans to make into a sort of breakfast burrito.  It all had a wonderful savory flavor and nice “umami” that for me, always seems to follow anything with cilantro.  I think some cheese or crema or sour cream would have been a nice addition, but I really did enjoy my meal.  The home fries weren’t really spiced in any kind of way, but they were nice and crispy.  Sometimes texture beats flavor.  I enjoyed them, and the kids did as well, kind of like breakfast french fries.
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(Sorry, I don’t claim to be a great food photographer, but I’m not sure anyone can make black beans look appetizing.  It was good, I promise.)

Frank had the French Toast which looked really good.  The carmelized bananas weren’t quite as impressive as I expected, but I’m not a big banana fan anyway.  I’ve actually forgotten what Addie had, but she seemed to enjoy it.  She had a side of bacon which was well-cooked and crispy which, for me, is very important in bacon.Untitled

I loved that the place was very grown up, kind of hip, with an intriguing menu but still welcomed kids.  After the Marcy’s debacle, I think we’re all a bit sensitive.  At Abilene, they had an entire shelf of crayons, stickers, paper, and other stuff with which kids could entertain themselves.  In spite of there seeming to be only one bartender (who the waitress mentioned was also working in the kitchen) and one waitress, we did get served fairly quickly.

All in all, I’m very excited to have this addition to the neighborhood.  Excited to try them for another meal or happy hour.