A Proper Crossing: A Coffee Oasis during a Long Run – The Proper Cup

I set out on a run yesterday with three goals: 1) Run at a liesurely an easy pace, 2) Run ten miles for a longer distance that usual, and 3) finally get across the Casco Bay Bridge during a run from home after several failed attempts.  I’m excited report the I for once met all of the goals.  It was a struggle and there were some necessary walk breaks, but it got done and there was a bonus stop at an oasis for an Iced Latte. Here’s where the run took me:

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Back in the days of being in better shape our original runs across the bridge, mile 3 would come when we were just about half way across the bridge, but of course that route involved the utter Hell of climbing Portland’s State Street hill, which is quite a climb.  I had the bright idea to find a route with less of an incline by running out by the Fore River campus of Mercy Hospital.  I did appreciate some downhill terrain, but there still was a fair share of hills and I underestimated the extra distance to get to the bridge (it added an extra mile).  Due to the extra distance and my fading endurance I changed my run to just getting across the bridge and then heading home rather than a running tour of South Portland.  Although it was a quick turn around in SoPo, I did have nice time running through the Knightville neighborhood.

On the way back home, I did make it up to the top of State Street, but at a considerably slower pace.  It then hit me that I needed a pit stop.  I found an oasis at The Proper Cup.

Before getting to my run stop at Proper Cup, Katie and I recently did a Bike for Breakfast there and enjoyed a nice time, some coffee, and a tasty breakfast sandwich.

I’m not a seasoned veteran of many coffee houses, but I love the atmosphere of Proper Cup.  Of course the first time I went there, the first thing to catch my eye was the Honda motorcycle perched on top of the creamer station.  I don’t know the significance of the bike, but I will have to ask some time.  There also is a lot of cool local art on the walls.  Our favorites are in the background of picture of the Honda.  They’re ink sketches of animals with a story included.  We actually met the artist there one Saturday, and he told us that the sketches were of animals he had encountered during his travels.

What drew me to Proper Cup for our bike adventure was a sign I noticed that morning saying that they now had breakfast sandwiches.  Previously, I think they only offered pastries with their coffee.  I went for the Veggie which had egg, mozzarella, tomato, cucumber, and spinach on an English muffin.  The sandwich was good and was plenty filling along with my Iced Latte.  I am wondering if they make the sandwiches on site, but Katie informed that the sandwiches are made by Sisters Gourmet Deli.  We will have to plan an excursion there soon to try something freshly made.

275px-MRE_No._23_(cropped)Speaking of the Iced Latte, I have to say that I am not really a coffee aficionado.  In fact, I remember my first foray into the coffee world being the instant coffee packs inside Army MREs.  For a boost we would empty the instant coffee grounds, powder creamer, and sugar packet into our mouths and then wash it down with a swig from our canteen.  I’ve yet to see that available on the menu boards in any of our local coffee shops.

I see all the names on the menu at coffee shops and really have no idea what they’re all about.  For a while I was into Flat Whites, because they were being reintroduced at Starbucks a while back and I wanted the baristas to think I was some old school coffee-ite happy that a classic offering was back on the menu.  Currently, Iced Lattes are my thing since Montreal.  I like Katie’s Mocha Lattes, so I order the Latte to be a little different.  I really quite like them now.  I especially like Proper Cup’s iced latte served in the large mason jar glass.  It’s a refreshing drink and lasts long enough for some good coffee shop conversation.  Bottom line is we both really enjoy trips to Proper Cup and highly recommend it.  In fact, some days you might find Katie doing some online work there (she is a bit of a regular).

Back to my Coffee Run…

By the time I hit Forest Ave (a little past mile 6), I was really fading.  My walk and run intervals were becoming increasingly equal in time.  First I saw the “OPEN” flag for Rose Food, but managed to push on.  Finally, I saw Proper Cup two blocks away and pushed a sprint there.

I was a bit conscious of that fact that I was dripping in sweat and felt a bit awkward walking in wearing a Camelback compared to the nicely summer-attired mostly Millennial weekday crowd.  Somehow, I feel my lack of coffee knowledge makes a bit unsophisticated for the coffee shop scene, but I went for it anyway.  Fortunately, I had brought a little cash in my Camelback pouch and put in my order for a large Iced Latte at $4.75 plus a $1.00 tip in the jar.

The latte was ready in a couple minutes, and for a special treat, I went to the Honda motorcycle station and added some simple syrup rather than my usual two packets of Splenda.  I figured six miles earned some high octane sweetener.  I found a corner by the window and just enjoyed a few minutes of AC and a nice beverage to give me a final boost back home.

Seeing a giant squash growing on the sidewalk of Danforth Street with “VOTE” carved into it was an intresting sight along the route.  The other pics include views along the Casco Bay Bridge, the fountain at Deering Oaks Park and part of Woodfords Corner. 

The final leg of the run was nice.  The pit stop at Proper Cup was just what I needed to shorten the walk intervals and get up the final hill on Woodford Street.  At the end, Runkeeper had me over eight miles!  Of course the f&!&ing “Fix GPS” feature on the app put my distance under eight and added ages to my average pace (more on that in future post).  All in all, the whole event was a great ending to the morning.

Whether drive, walk, bike, run or ride a Honda, make your way to Proper Cup.  You won’t be disappointed.

See you on the road!

-Mike

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