Cold Weather is here: What I’m wearing.

This year has not exactly been a typical Maine winter, especially after our record 70 degree Christmas Day. Today we received a small taste of winter with morning temps of 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) with a wind chill of 12 degrees.  Finally a chance to wear some winter gear without fear of over-heating.  I don’t always get this right, but today I had the perfect combination of gear that prevented me from being too cold, too hot or chafed at the end of this 15 mile jaunt through our neighborhood (lots of loops today in Evergreen Cemetery to protect from the wind).  To quote Goldilocks it was “Just Right!”

From the inside out, here was my gear for the day:

  1. ICEBREAKER Antomica Briefs: These have been a revelation for running.  Previously I had been using synthetic compression shorts from Nike and Under Armor.  They were good, but chafing was still an issue for longer runs. The Icebreaker briefs are 100% merino wool (not itchy at all); they have kept me dry down there and I have had zero chafing in those unmentionable parts!  FYI: they run small, so be sure to order 1 or 2 sizes up.

Anatomica Briefs

2. Mizuno Breath Thermo Layered Tights: I bought these last year at Fleet Feet in Portland.  They are synthetic (nowadays I’d probably get wool tights), but they have a great feel.  I have worn these in temps as low as 10 below zero (F) and my legs have never felt cold.  An added bonus is the the compression feel of these tights that seem to give my legs an added boost in those hellbacious later miles.  They require more washing than wool due to odor, but I’m sure to baby them by washing in cold water only and never put them in the dryer.  These have held up well.

Mizuno Running Men Training Apparel Bottoms Pants

3. PEP Shevlin + Running Shirt: I reviewed this shirt and company back in October.  All I can say is “AWESOME!” This is the perfect wool base layer.  Its water wicking is amazing and the shirt’s durability has been off the charts.  Also, ZERO nipple chafing!  Not sure if the ladies out there have this issue, but it can be excruciating, especially that first trip under the shower after the run.  I almost could have went with this as my only layer under my jacket, but I was feeling a bit wimpy for the first sub 20 degree run of the month.

4. Darn Tough Socks: Like the PEP shirt, Darn Tough Socks can’t be beat.  My Adidas Ultra Boosts are wonderful running shoes, but the mesh top provided virtually no warmth.  Not a problem with Darn Toughs even if I manage to trek through a puddle one mile into a double digit run.  For winter runs I prefer the crew socks with light cushion in order to avoid chilly ankles.

Light Hiker Micro Crew Light Cushion / Charcoal/Lime / M Small

5. IBEX Stretch Merino Glove Liners: I have used these for every run in November and December in temperatures ranging from today’s 20 degrees F (windchill of 12) up to 50 degrees.  They have been terrific.  My hands have been dry and warm without another glove on top.  Today I did use the “hobo” glove top from the PEP shirt and they both held up well after the initial chilly fingers during the first mile.

Lightweight insulating stretch Merino glove liner

6. IBEX Indie Skimmer Hat: For outer layers, IBEX seems to be the winner for providing the most warmth.  This hat is like a nuclear power plant on my head.  In fact, I revert to my SMARTWOOL hat for temps above freezing because the IBEX wool is so warm.  For today’s run this was ideal though.  Never had to shed it and despite being soaked with sweat my head was warm from start to finish.

Unisex's - Indie Skimmer Hat

7. SAUCONY Run Strong Sportop: I wore another layer above my base PEP layer mainly because I wanted coverage around my neck.  Like IBEX’s wool, SAUCONY’s synthetic fabric seems to be the best.  It has a soft feel and a comfortable fit.  Last winter, this was my usual base layer, but chafing was the issue as was the case with all other synthetics I wore.  This shirt performs well by itself on warmer days (45-55) and I like the quarter zip for venting if I get overheated.

RUN STRONG SPORTOP, Tangelo, dynamic

8. ASICS Lined Winter Running Jacket: I’ll have to check on the model, but the Asics jacket I have was a wonderful purchase.  I bought it last year on clearance at Sports Authority.  The jacket features side pockets and a very handy breast pocket where I store my phone with headphones coming out.  The warmth of this pocket is great because I have been finding that my Iphone 6 will shut down at the slightest sense of low temperature (very frustrating when using Runkeeper to track the run).  It is lined with a waffled liner that dries out quickly after the run.  Additionally the extra long cut and sleeves with attached “hobo” gloves help to provide a very protective outer shell.  My jacket has weathered snow, sleet, hail, and low temps like a champ!  If I was a Mail Carrier, I’d wear this jacket.

9. Adidas Ultra Boost Shoes: I wear these no matter what the weather, but I thought I’d include them here.  Will do a more thorough review at some time, but my third pair of Ultra Boosts this year continue to impress.

A fun part of running is the gear.  One thing about winter running is that there is a lot more gear that is required, but it is fun to search out the best in that quest for the perfect run.

See you on the road!

 

 

 

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Breakfast At Bayou Kitchen

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We finally made it to the Bayou!  We managed to hit the road early enough to beat the morning rush.  After a chilly 6 miles around the West End, the blast of warm air as we entered The Bayou Kitchen was a welcome feeling.

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We’ve actually eating here since they opened several years ago.  One thing I love here is that you can order from either the breakfast or lunch menu no matter what time of day it is.  Be sure to check the daily
Specials on the wall before ordering.  You may find a gem that is worth trying.  I had the fortune of having Tonga Toast from the Specials list a few years ago.  It was thick pieces of hearty Italian bread with a crunchy coating.  I loved it so much that it has become a frequently requested item for our at home breakfasts during weekends or trips to Rangeley.  The Dark Chocolate & Toasted Coconut Pancakes were very tempting this day.

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The regular menu has many delicious options for both breakfast and lunch (Bayou serves breakfast and lunch only) and every one I have had has been fantastic.  From prior visits I recommend trying the Veggie Homie Plate (home fries smothered with veggies and cheese), the Breakfast Sandwich (traditional style, but for a real treat, order is with the Andouille sausage), or El Rancho Verde omelet (a medley of Cajun and southwest flavor).  If you are in the mood, Bayou Kitchen’s French Toast and pancakes are large and perfectly cooked.  Another item to note is the Home Fries, quartered red potatoes with some light Cajun seasoning.  You can see it all being prepared if you sit at the bar in front of the griddle.

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As great as breakfast and many lunch options (Gumbo or Jambalaya or great choices -if available, get them with crawfish!-), I have one standby order that I order almost exclusively when visiting The Bayou Kitchen:

  1. Chicken Piquant (sometimes I add crawfish): Cajun hot and sour soup with chicken simmered in olive oil and vinegar with onions, peppers, garlic, tomato and spices.  Served over rice.  TALK ABOUT A WONDERFUL MEDLEY OF FLAVOR!
  2. Jalepeno Cheddar cornbread.  Biscuits and other cornbread varieties are available, but I love crumbling a few pieces into the Chicken Piquant.  FLAVORFUL WITH GREAT TEXTURE (crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside)!  It is a special treat with some butter.
  3. Grits.  A nice treat for our Yankee city.  I add a dab of butter and maple syrup, but everyone has their own secret preference for their grits.
  4. A can of Moxie.  I don’t know why, but it is a perfect compliment to this meal.  I actually do not drink Moxie any other time.

 

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My special order at The Bayou Kitchen

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This Portland Yankee loves him some grits with breakfast!

 

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Katie usually goes for more traditional breakfast fare at BK.  The breakfast sandwich with a side of homies.

Katie went for the breakfast sandwich and a side of homefries.  I love the home fries done on the griddle.  On the table I mix ketchup and some hot sauce which is a perfect compliment to the light spices on the potatoes.

The service and atmosphere at the Bayou Kitchen is a treat if your looking for local flavor with some Cajun taste.  The staff is very friendly, the food arrives hot and fast, and the coffee is quickly replenished.  Also, they are reasonably priced (our bill came to $22.00).

I used to think BK was a hidden gem in Woodfords Corner, but the word has been spreading.  They expanded a couple of years ago, but still continue to have a full house for breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays.  The wait sometimes will be up to 15-20 minutes, but they will call or text if you choose to wait nearby.  No matter what, it is worth the wait if you want a hearty breakfast with some Cajun flavor.

See you on the road!

Race Review – Portland Brewer’s Holiday Dash

Just a week ago today, we were running a fun race along the Eastern Promenade Trail.  I had harassed a bunch of my coworkers (and Mike) into joining me in running the 6th annual Portland Brewers’ Holiday Dash 5K.  We had a blast.  See?
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All the runners (and walkers) were in such a great festive mood.  The costumes were great, especially this guy dressed up as Ebenezer Scrooge.

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Photo Courtesy of Maine Running Photos

He was really fast, too.

It was the first time I dressed up for a race.

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Photo Courtesy of Maine Running Photos


My striped tights were pretty tame compared to the ugly Christmas sweaters and Christmas tutus I saw other people wearing.  I’m going to have to step it up a notch next year.

Rira’s was the home base for the race.  The day ended up being unseasonably warm, but it was still nice to be able to go inside (and use their bathrooms) while waiting for the race to start.  It was especially nice to be able to enjoy our free beers inside Rira’s after the race.  (Not exactly free – included with the $35 race registration fee – but still delicious.)

The start line was about a quarter mile away from Rira’s right where the trail first crosses the Narrow Gauge Railroad tracks.  We ran about a mile and a half out to just past the graffiti wall near the sewage treatment plant and turned around and came back.  It’s a pretty course with views of the ocean the entire time.  I even think the graffiti wall is cool.  Here’s a picture from a year or so ago.
05 Graffiti Wall on my Run
The artwork keeps changing.  And thank goodness there’s no snow yet.

Three of us set a PR which was really exciting.

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Photo Courtesy of Maine Running Photos

Actually, at least five of us set a PR, since it was a first time race for a couple people.  By the time we all finished the race, Rira’s was packed, but we managed to push our way up to the bar and get our beer.  The line for the brunch (also included in the entry fee) was all the way up the stairs, so we enjoyed our beers while waiting for the line to get a little shorter.

In the meantime, we started to see people walking by with their plates full of brunch food.  It didn’t look terrible but didn’t look worth the wait either, so we decided to move on to a less crowded place.  We hit up The Porthole and ended up having their backroom (used to be The Comedy Connection) all to ourselves.  I opted to drink my breakfast and had a delicious Bloody Mary, and we all had a great time chatting and joking reveling in our race accomplishments.

Overall, here are my thoughts on the race:

Best Parts

  • Great ocean view
  • Good location, easy walk into town
  • Festive mood
  • Having a warm restaurant as home base.  It was really crowded both before and after the race, but it seemed to actually run pretty smoothly.  The race directors and Rira’s had obviously worked out the process for allocating the free beers, checking id’s, etc.
  • Great photos by Maine Running Photos
  • Being able to see my friends on the out and back course

Complaints

  • The race web-site says that the race has “Automatic timing” which I took to mean chip timing.  It was timed by a timing company but was not chip timed.  It doesn’t matter a whole lot in a small-ish race (400 people in this one, so not that small), but I had told my friends who were doing their first 5K that it didn’t matter where they started because it would be chip-timed.
  • The race t-shirt was light blue.  I was hoping for something more Christmas-y (like red), since this was a holiday-themed race.
  • No age group prizes.

 

Race Day!

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It’s been a long week without running.  We’re getting ready for today’s race. I have no idea what to expect, but I’m hoping to run pain free.  Curious to see if all this test results in a faster time or will I get winded.  Tough decision about what to wear.  Temp will be around 45 degrees with no wind or rain.  Perfect conditions for shorts and long sleeves, but no sure if I go with wool or synthetic top.  Probably going with my red Saucony synthetic 1/4 zip since it looks festive.  We’ll see how it goes.

See you on the road! (Finally) 🌲

The Rest of the Weekend – Miyake

Now that this weekend is almost half over, I’m finally getting around to finishing up blogging about last weekend.  As if a lovely First Friday Art Walk wasn’t enough, we had fun plans on Saturday, too.  One of Mike’s students gave him tickets to a matinee Nutcracker performance at Merrill.

For us, no outing into town is complete without some kind of food, so we decided to hit up Pai Men Miyake for lunch before the show.  I’d been there a few times and wanted Mike to try to pork buns which I love.  They’re a twist on the classic DimSum with the fluffy white bun but served more burger/sandwich style rather than the meat being all tucked away inside.  The serving-style isn’t the best part of the twist though.  That’s the tender, juicy, warm pork belly along side the cool mayonnaise and spicy relish.  I thought it would be totally up Mike’s alley, but it turns out he’s a traditional pork bun kind of guy.  No worries though, he managed to clean his plate, and we got plenty of other treats.
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Edamame is always such a great snack, so we started with that, and it was perfectly salted.  I had thought the Brussels Sprouts there were the best I’d ever had, and they were very good but not the ones I remembered.  Now, I’m thinking those were from When Pigs Fly in Kittery.  I’m going to have to go back now to figure this out!

Of course, we also had to try the cocktails.  Mike had warm sake which was perfect for a chilly day.  I had the Smoke & Roses cocktail which is kind of like a rose flavored margarita.  You’d think that drinking rose flavor would be weird, but it’s actually very delicious.  I had to have two.  It’s my favorite cocktail I’ve had in Portland so far.
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We were pretty full of appetizers but wanted to try one more thing so we ordered the Kimchi Pork Ramen.  Mike managed with the chopsticks quite well . . .
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but I was pitiful and had to ask for some American utensils.  My favorite part of the ramen was the egg with the crunchy little onion strings on top of it, but that all quickly got lost in the bowl thanks to my poor initial attempts at using the chopsticks.  I didn’t love the pork itself.  Mike thought it tasted like the meat from a New England boiled dinner.  He meant that as a compliment.  I agreed that that’s what it tasted like, but to me, that’s not a compliment.  Not my favorite dinner!

Don’t let that scare you away though.  The starters and the cocktails are excellent and the atmosphere is nice.
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You can sit at the long, two-part counter, or at one of the high tables for two across from it which is what we did.  I felt like we were in our own pleasant little world.  There are also quite a few larger tables in the front of the restaurant.  One of my previous visits there was for a co-worker’s going away party, and we fit 12 or so of us quite comfortably and had a great time.

After all that eating out, we decided we’d better do some of our own cooking on Sunday.  After our Figgy’s discovery on Friday night, Mike texted me from Addie’s basketball practice to tell me he’d had a revelation.  I was expecting a career change, a move, something life-changing (and maybe it was), but the revelation was that we should have fried chicken sandwiches for “football food”.  I was totally on board thinking we’d do takeout from Figgy’s.  Apparently that wasn’t what he had in mind.  He wanted to try making our own.  Not quite as easy and not as guaranteed to be good, but I was game.

I found a biscuit recipe on-line and sent Mike a grocery list while he picked up the chicken at Pat’s.  I made the biscuits and left the rest up to him.
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I had one with strawberry jam while I was waiting for the rest of the meal to come together. Not bad!

We used store-bought coleslaw and skipped the mashed potatoes and gravy, but they still came out pretty darn good.
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No breakfast run this weekend.  We’re getting ready for a Festivus Party at our house later in the week, and we have a race tomorrow – which actually does include brunch.  I guess we’re technically having a breakfast run after all.

Happy weekend.  Thanks for reading.

Getting Antsy

Ugh!  This is not a pretty picture:

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I’ve been on the sidelines this week trying to heal what I suspect is an IT band injury (Iliotibial Band Syndrome – ITBS).  It’s weird because it only starts hurting while running.  It first cropped up about a month ago starting around mile 9 of longer runs, but it has been starting progressively earlier.  On my my most recent run, I felt the sharp pain on my outer right knee at the end of mile one.  I’ve tried icing and some exercises, but Katie convinced me to take a week off.  That’s a hard thing to do!

My biggest fear about taking extended time off is that I will not return to regular running (this has happened before).  We are racing a 5k this upcoming weekend, so I’m hopeful that will spur me back into action.  The really scary thing is that I have a read a lot of ITBS horror stories of people being sidelined for weeks or months before fully healing.  I’m hoping 7 days off does the trick or else I’m gonna have to rethink my menu choices!

See you on the road (hopefully soon)!

First Friday Art Walk, Figgy’s, and Otto’s

As great as it was to spend some time in Rangeley recently, it sure is nice to have a weekend at home, especially one with relatively few commitments now that Oireachtas is over.  We made sure to pack this one full of eating, running, and relaxing.

I ditched work a little early on Friday to get a much needed haircut.
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I think she cut off at least 8 inches, so it’s a big change for me.  Still getting used it it and trying not to think I look like a boy.

I still managed to beat everyone else home, so I had a few minutes to check out my just-arrived order from Amazon, more about that another day.

I was just starting to relax when Mike reminded me about First Friday Art Walk.  Most of the time, we forget that it’s First Friday and end up missing it.  I was feeling a bit lazy this past Friday, so I could have been convinced to skip it, but I’m so glad we went. It was the perfect time to go with town all decked out for the holidays.

We dropped our two still-at-home teenagers off at their respective places of employment and went on our merry way with our youngest, Addie, who is a veteran art walker.

We parked on the west end of Congress Street and started to make our way down toward the action.  We just happened to spot Figgy’s a few blocks from our car.
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I’d heard a bit about it, so we walked over just to check it out – for another time.  We weren’t going to get anything, since we were planning to get a slice from Otto’s once we got down that way.
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But the menu looked so good, we thought we’d just get a little biscuit to tide us over.
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We ordered “The Ay Ay Ron” (no idea why it’s called that).
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It turns out it wasn’t such a little biscuit.   Here’s some perspective with our favorite little photo bomber.
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It wasn’t little, but it was amazing.  The fried chicken was just perfect.  It had been flattened which I really like, so there’s an equal amount of “fry” with the chicken.  The breading (panko, I think – but very classic) was perfectly golden and crispy.  And the rest of the sandwich . . . wow!  The biscuit was one of the best I’ve had.  You could just taste the butter.  It was one of those messy, drop biscuits that has those bumps of delicious imperfection.  The coleslaw was a great cool contrast to the warm fried chicken, and the mashed potatoes and gravy were just over the top.  We managed a few, very messy bites before we realized this was not “walking” food.

The picnic tables looked kind of inviting, but not on a cold December night.  We decided to walk the two blocks back to the car and stow the biscuit for later.  It wouldn’t be the same cold, but I wanted to savor it with a knife and fork at my kitchen table.
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On to the art walk . . . My favorite stop was the She-Bear Gallery which had a bunch of Holly Meade wood block prints.  There was a great little Christmas banner in the window which I loved and had also happened to notice on my run that morning.  Unfortunately that was not for sale.  (I asked.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one.)  We also really liked the Holly Meade “New Years Eggs” print which would be a great gift for my dad or sister who together raise egg-laying chickens.  (Sorry, Dad and Maggie, not in my price range.)

Addie’s favorite stop was Coast City Comics.  They had everything you could imagine from a full-sized Storm Trooper outfit to a tiny Adventure Time Key Chain (which Addie scored) to a Tyrion Lannister figurine to old arcade games and pinball machines in the back.

We finally made it to Otto’s which was a relief because after a few free glasses of wine at the various galleries, I really needed to use their bathroom.  We usually just get a slice and move on, but this time, we found a seat on the Enzo’s side and got to relax
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and goof off in the warmth for a bit.
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It was margarita and mashed potato, bacon, and scallion along with a couple glasses of wine for Mike and me, and cheese with a lemonade for Addie.
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We saw this cool truck on our way out.
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We continued down Congress to check out the Christmas Tree in Monument Square.

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Addie took a turn with the camera.

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The tree was beautiful, but I also love all the other lights they put up around town.
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Addie liked the Santa hats on the Time and Temperature building.
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My favorites were the ones on meca
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and by The Eastland.
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More weekend eating coming soon . . .