Austin Boot Shopping

Do you have a bucket list?  I do.  I made it years ago and add a new item to the list every once in a while.  I admit that some of the items don’t appeal to me so much anymore, but #18 was still definitely on my radar:

Untitled

(It’s supposed to say “Buy and wear”)

After the previous day’s marathon, I had half of that mission accomplished, so I was really looking forward to completing it.

We needed some fuel first though, and I had spotted a Voodoo Doughnut shop earlier in our explorations.  I wanted to be sure to check it out post-marathon.  (Heavy donut in the belly beforehand probably not a good idea.)

Untitled

Look at those beauties!

We ended up with a maple bacon and a Crunchberry.
Untitled

Then we decided to stretch out our sore legs and walk the 2-ish miles to Allen’s Boots.

Untitled

We were slow, but it was a beautiful day, and it was nice to revisit our running route with a more relaxed pace and mindset.

Untitled

I was pretty overwhelmed by Allen’s vast selection of boots, but the saleswoman, Elise gave me some few tips, and I was ready to dive in.

I narrowed it down to about 3 or 4 pairs and tried those each on a few times.  Putting on and taking off boots is hard any day, but with post marathon soreness, it was not pretty!  I was glad no one was watching.  Elise checked on me a few times but didn’t hover which I liked.
Untitled

These were the winners.

I couldn’t even wait to get back to the hotel to put them on.
Untitled

Even in their first wearing and with a mile or so to walk back to the hotel they were comfortable.

Someone had recommended Hopdoddy’s to me on the pre-race shake out run.  It just happened to be right down the street from Allen’s, so we popped in there for an early lunch and managed to just beat the long lines.

Untitled

The burger was amazing.  We got the “Primetime”.  It was the best burger I’ve ever had.

But the fries . . .

Untitled

Wow!  Just wow!  So good.  These were the truffle fries with a healthy helping of some kind of deliciously salty Parmesan cheese topping.  I forget now what the dipping sauce was – truffle aioli maybe.

Untitled

Mike met some new friends on the way back to the hotel.  We did go back to the hotel after lunch to rest up a bit and make a plan for the evening.  A plan that was supposed to involve much less walking.  However . . .

Mike, who, as far as I know has no bucket list and up until that day had no aspirations to buy or wear cowboy boots.  I mean, I couldn’t even picture it.  Somehow the hour we spent in Allen’s must have rubbed off on him because he wanted to go back for a pair of his own.

So back out we went.  We had to stop and “rest” on the way there.

Untitled

We enjoyed these drinks at a cool little place called The Snack Bar.  I’m not sure if it was part of it, but it was right next to The Austin Motel which looked really interesting in a hip, nouveau retro kind of way.  I’m going to check it out as a place to stay if/when we go back.

Untitled

Mike got his boots.  We got so into the whole Western thing at Allen’s that we almost bought the hats, too.  I planned to dare to wear the boots when we got back home to the Northeast no matter what, but I knew I wasn’t brave enough for the hat.

Untitled

Mike couldn’t wait to get home to put on his boots either.  (He’s worn them almost every day since we’ve been back.)

Untitled

Our plan was to try them out dancing at The Continental Club.

Untitled

The band, The Peterson Brothers, was great, and we did dance just a little bit, but we were the only ones dancing.  The music was pretty blues-y.  Maybe you just don’t dance to that.  At least we didn’t very well.

It was a great day!  I think we put in at least 8 miles on our tired legs.  Not the brightest idea, but we had fun.  Next time, we’ll Uber at least some of it.

Finally – Austin Marathon Recap

Wow, this post has been on my mind for such a long time.  I was on a roll blogging about our trip in February then kept finding excuses to put this one off which pretty much prevented any other blogging because, of course, I wanted to be chronological.

Don’t worry, we’ve still been running and definitely eating just not necessarily at the same time.  I finally lost my tolerance for cold which has reduced the appeal of the breakfast run for me.  I just can’t warm up again once we stop to eat.  Thank goodness warmer weather is just around the corner.

So, The 2016 Austin Marathon . . .

Untitled

The Before Pic

One of my favorite parts was milling around in the middle of the city with thousands of other runners while it was still dark.

There was no traffic, of course, and even though there were a lot of people, there was plenty of room to spread out, so it just seemed peaceful.  The capitol building was beautifully lit up at the top of Congress Street.

Untitled

See the Capitol Building in the Background?

There seemed to be a feeling of relaxed anticipation – the calm before the storm.  Maybe that was just my feeling, but after months of getting ready and thinking about the race, (agonizing over my training times, wishing I’d skipped a few more cookies, etc.) and getting more and more nervous by the day, I was relieved to be on the verge of just. doing. this. thing.

Untitled

Once the National Anthem started, my nervousness came rushing back.  Then finally the starting gun went off and minutes later we crossed the start line, and we were RUNNING!  Even though I could swear it was still dark when we started, it felt like sunny midday by the time we crossed the bridge and started up South Congress street.

My first mile was great, but by mile 5 I was kind of falling apart.  I hadn’t been able to eat much before the race – too nervous – so I had my first Gu.  I knew Mike was somewhere behind me.  I thought about trying to wait for him in hopes that he would help motivate me to keep going.  By mile 7 or 8, the Gu kicked in, and I felt okay.  (Note to self – eat before the race – no matter what!)

My confidence really wavered during the whole race – feeling great one minute, feeling like I couldn’t finish the next.  I think it was around mile 12 when the half marathon split off.  It was so hard to make myself stay on the left for the full!

We had a friend there cheering us on at around mile 18 or 19.  Looking forward to seeing him really helped.  And it was a pretty great feeling once I reached the last 6 miles.  I took about 3 or 4 walk breaks which I’d never done before, but it sure did feel great to walk and drink my water and eat my Gu without being out of breath.

Finally, I was running through the UT campus and on the last stretch.  There was one more really ugly hill during the last mile then I was able to sprint down the hill to the finish.  What a relief!  My slowest marathon and probably my hardest.  I finished in about 3:58.  Nice to stay under 4 hours but almost 15 minutes slower than my previous slowest marathon.

Untitled

We made it!

And you know what?  It really didn’t matter.  I was still just as ecstatic as I was when I completed my other, faster marathons.  I had exactly the same feelings of relief, accomplishment, and that indescribable post-race euphoria.  As I get ready to run Boston IN TWO DAYS, I keep trying to remind myself that.

The race itself was really well organized.  I actually can’t think of a single thing to improve in that area.  The spectators were awesome.  I was pretty jealous of quite a few groups that were partying in their yards while watching the race.  One group was drinking mimosas, and I almost stopped and just hung out with them for the rest of the day.  The signs were all very entertaining.  I can’t believe I’d never seen this quote before, but there were quite a few signs that said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right”.  That hit home for me, since I was having such a mental struggle during the race.

The course was really hilly!  It was described as having “rolling  hills”.  We both thought that Texas was super flat, so it couldn’t possibly be as hilly as The Maine Marathon.  We weren’t worried about the hills at all.  Apparently, Austin is in “Hill Country”.  Oops.  There weren’t any hills that I remember that were particularly steep (although I hear there’s a killer one on the half marathon course) – it was kind of like the accumulation of them just snuck up on you.  The first 2 miles or so were almost all uphill (which I had read), and I started too fast as usual which I think might have been part of my problem.

We had been more worried about the heat.  You can’t exactly train for that in Maine in January.  It turned out to be quite nice – in the 50’s with a bit of a breeze.

We will definitely do this race again!  Well, maybe.  Lots of other places to visit.

Whew, finally finished a blog post.  Thanks for reading.

20-Miler

Don’t worry we didn’t pull a Pheidippides after Austin.  We’re really still here, and I still plan to blog about the marathon and the rest of our trip because it was really great, but life moves on.

I’m in the midst (or really end) of getting ready for Boston.  I finished my last long run today.  It was supposed to be on Sunday, but it was Easter and we were visiting my dad in major-hill-country, so I postponed. (I’m following the Hanson’s training plan which has you run 16 for your longest, but psychologically, I feel like I need to do at least 20.  This is my shortest long run, since my first marathon.  Eeek!)

I even decided to take the day off of work for it.  Got to get those priorities straight, right?  It was pretty nice not to have to rush.  Sadly, my pace shows that.  Oh well.  This Boston is not going to be my best.  My training has kind of fallen apart since oh, about Thanksgiving time.  I just can’t seem to hit my miles per week.  Maybe it’s time to capitulate and switch to just 5 days a week?  My current thinking is that fall marathons will be my thing.  So much easier to train in the light and warmth of summer mornings.

It was a nice run today anyway.  My toenails hurt.  It’s our second 60 degree day so far this year, so I’m wearing my flip flops.

I ran to Higgins Beach.  My first time running to Scarborough.  I remember the first time I ran out of Portland into a different town.  Seemed like a major big deal to me to run all. the. way. into. ANOTHER. town!

12/21 Bridge Run

Terrible Pic but Mike’s First Crossing into SoPo 12/2014

Since then we’ve run to Falmouth, South Portland, and Cape Elizabeth a gazillion times, Westbrook once or twice, but never to Scarborough, so that was kind of cool.

Untitled

Here’s Higgins

I wasn’t really sure where I was going, but when I reached the little (closed up for winter) store where Mike, Frank, and I got highly-recommended onion rings a summer or two ago, I knew I was close.  It was nice to hear the crash of waves as I approached the beach.  As I ran by Higgins Beach Inn, I remembered being near there on a summer evening and hearing live music on their porch.  I have to investigate whether you can go there for a drink (and music).

As I’ve mentioned, I love an out-and-back because it’s so nice to be on the way back, but I swear I don’t remember going down the hills on Sawyer Street that I had to go up on the way back!

I’m not sure if it’s a best practice, but I recovered with a hot bath and our last Shiner Bock (we purchased here in Westbrook Hannaford of all places as a nod to our Texas trip).  We were out of protein shakes.  Beer is the next best thing.

So tomorrow is April.  Yikes!  As soon as that calendar rolls over, my nervousness (“nervcited” as my 8-year-old calls it) for Boston is going to increase exponentially.  Still, now that I’m a veteran, I don’t think I’ll be as nervous as last year.  Plus, there’s not much I can do now to change my fitness level.  Just got to do those last few runs (not that I’m counting, but 106.5 miles left) and try not to pig out too much.  I’m enjoying a mimosa to celebrate my last long run, but no more until April 18th.  Anyone else out there doing Boston?  Want to meet up?  Ride the bus to Hopkinton together?  I’m in Corral 3, Wave 1 (Wave 3, Corral 1?)

I’m excited about the expo.  I’m planning to set aside $200 from my next two paychecks to blow there.  Funny thing about last year. We looked around at the first “room” and were surprised that that was “all”.  Then we crossed some threshold, and it was like an oasis of running paraphernalia in the desert.

If you haven’t gone to the pre-race dinner, definitely do that.  It was pretty awesome to have previous winners and Olympians plop some pasta and salad on your plate.

And, hey, have you seen this?  It’s got to be a joke, but when I first started reading, I was like, “wait, what?”.

Happy Running.  Hope to be back soon with the rest of Austin and some Boston adventures.  Next up after that, Chicago.  Anyone else in?

Mike got in to Beach to Beacon.  I didn’t.  Typing on my dang phone was just too slow.

 

Austin Marathon – Pre Race Day Continued

We were feeling pretty good about everything after our great pre-race shakeout experience.  We ran back to our room to shower and change then headed back out to meet Mike’s best friend since kindergarten, Pat, who drove from Houston to meet up with us.

Untitled

We met up on 6th St.  We were pretty hungry so we hit up the first place we came across, B.D. Riley’s.  The food was not great, but we enjoyed our local beers and some various whiskeys.  With the high from our great morning and the celebratory feeling of being with an old friend, our vow for a low-cal, chem-free day went right out the window.
Untitled

It didn’t take Mike long to get pretty jolly and hit up the musician for requests.

After lunch we moved on to Banger’s.  I had heard overheard someone talking about their “Manmosas”.  It turns out those are only for brunch on Sundays, but we loved the place anyway.  They had like a million beers on tap, so we tried Pat’s recommendation of St. Arnold’s Lawnmower, and later Mike picked us out a Fat Bastard.
Untitled

I loved the boiled peanuts which I don’t think I’ve had since we lived in South Carolina over 17 years ago.
Untitled

I’m not a huge fan of sausage, but we had to try it at a place famous for it’s sausage.  Mike picked out the rabbit sausage, and it was actually very good.

Untitled

The live music was great.  I wished I’d stopped to appreciate it more, but I was too focused on having fun with Mike and Pat.  After a while, I decided that I’d had too much fun and headed back to the hotel to chill and hydrate.  Mike and Pat continued the fun but still managed to get back in time to run a marathon the next day.  More on that another day.

Austin Marathon – Pre Race Day

I was really nervous for this race.  I hadn’t trained as well as for my other races and had been eating like a pig since Thanksgiving.  I skipped almost the entire pre-race week of running, so when we saw that there was a group run that morning, we jumped on it.

I was actually a bit sluggish when the time rolled around.  We had to find the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue – wherever the heck that was – but Mike was motivated, so he tracked it down for us.  We weren’t sure what to expect – a huge group – or no one else but us.

I had read that Dick Beardsley would be hosting the event, and I immediately recognized that slim, elite runner build when we arrived that the meeting spot.  Even though I knew he would be hosting, I didn’t really expect to be able to talk to him.  I’m kind of shy, and I figured there would be lots of other people vying for his attention.  However, when we arrived, there was just a handful of people milling around, and Mr. Beardsley came right up to us and introduced himself – so cool!
Untitled
He spent quite a bit of time chatting to us before we started the run – such a down-to-earth, friendly guy.  We really enjoyed talking with him.  I couldn’t believe we were standing there (calmly – for the most part – I look pretty dorky) next to the 33 year Grandma’s Marathon record holder (meaningful to me especially, since Grandma’s was my first, and ironically, that record was broken the year I ran it).  I really hadn’t known much else about him, but check out his story.  It’s pretty interesting.

We finally set off on the run, hosted also by Bobby Overton from SpiBelt – also a super nice guy – especially considering his task of herding us cats.  (We both felt a little guilty that Mike was wearing his new FlipBelt.)  I wasn’t sure what to expect from the run either.  Some of the other participants looked like they might be around our same pace (you never really can tell by appearances), but I was pretty sure that even though it’s been almost 34 years since his exciting Boston Marathon finish seconds behind Alberto Salazar, Mr. Beardsley could probably still set a pretty darn good pace.

We set out on a nice, easy run.  I was even able to run up ahead to snap a photo.

Untitled

We ran along the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail which was really beautiful.

Capture

Our route (also includes getting there and back from hotel and a detour to the Expo)

Mr. Beardsley told me how part way you used to have to go up on the highway and back down, but they’ve since made a beautiful boardwalk to connect those two ends of the trail.  We got to run along that and had beautiful views of the city from there.  I got to run with my new friend, Dick, the whole way to our turnaround point.

Untitled

We had a great conversation, and he even recommended a few marathons to me (Fargo Marathon and Dick Beardsley Marathon – he was very humble about it being called that).  I kind of felt like I was hogging him, so I chatted with a few of the other runners on the way back.  One of whom was none other than Henry Rono, a 5000 meter record record breaker in the 70’s and 80’s – among many other accomplishments.  He was also very humble and interesting to talk to.

It was great to be in the midst of such running fame, but the other people in the group were friendly and fun, too.  One guy was running his first marathon, but quite a few of the others had run Austin before and were able to give us good advice about the course and about where to visit in Austin.  (Thank you for your advice about the speed bumps and your recommendation of HopDoddy’s!)
Untitled

What an amazing experience!  I was happy to have done the shakeout run, since it helped me remember that I did still know how to run.  But more than that, it got me excited about running again – what a great community and a great way to interact with people.  You already have something in common.  Somewhat surprisingly to me, the conversation that Mr. Beardsley and I had about running wasn’t any different than I conversation I might have with any other, average Joe runner like myself – the nerves before a race, the gear, the locations.

Happy running!

Austin Marathon – Expo

We managed to only leave Portland about an hour late.  We’re notorious for getting a late start.  Always so many late minute things to do.  On top of that there was a crazy freak snowstorm and tons of traffic because of it.  The first hour of our journey from Portland to Boston was quite harrowing, but we finally made it to my Mom’s and had a nice dinner and said good-bye to the kids.

My mom was kind enough to take us to the airport the next morning at 4:00 am.  Even then the security line at Logan was quite long, and we got to our gate just in time to board.  We’d never traveled on SouthWest before, but everything went quite smoothly.

Untitled

Celebrating our first flight together since 2002

We landed in Chicago right on time, had just enough time to use the bathroom then continued on to Austin.

Untitled

We arrived at around noon and took a cab to our hotel.  Our room wasn’t ready yet, but we were able to ditch our bags and head out to lunch.

Compared to home, the weather was just gorgeous.  It was so nice to leave all that built up tension from the cold behind.  I hadn’t done much research on Austin food, so we ventured out to a Mexican restaurant recommended by the hotel.  It wasn’t great, but it was WONDERFUL to be able to eat outside.  (Margarita’s were too sweet, chips were boring, but Ceviche was quite good, and atmosphere on the outdoor second floor deck was perfect.)

Untitled

We wandered around 6th street for a very short time after lunch then got the call from our hotel that our room was ready.  We headed back to the hotel, washed the travel off of us, put on some running clothes, and headed over to the Expo to pick up our packets and check that out.

The Austin Marathon is supposed to be pretty big – over 10,000 participants between the half and the full, but I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Expo after we told the hotel we were here for the marathon, and they asked, “Which marathon is that?”.

It turned out to be just perfect.
Untitled
We were there for a marathon and wanted to bask in the running hype, and there was plenty of that there.

Untitled

Picked up our numbers first

 

Untitled

The heart bibs for Valentine’s Day were cool

We got a lot of great SWAG including a cool backpack that came in really handy all weekend.  I think our favorite booth was the Nuun one.  I had tried Nuun once before and didn’t love it until I realized how much I really don’t like Gatorade.  We bought a bunch of the tablets and got some cool water bottles both of which we used the whole time we were there.  We also really liked this yummy cold pressed juice that we tried.  We kind of tried to find some the rest of the week with no luck.  I might try Whole Foods here this week.

There was so much to see and great live music playing while we wandered around.  We wanted to make the most of our experience, so we checked out every single booth.  I bought a shirt, and Mike bought a flip belt.  We ran there and had planned to walk back to the hotel, since we expected to have a lot of stuff to carry.  Thanks to our new, free backpacks, we were able to run the mile or so back.  It was hot though!

We got back to the hotel and showered (and may have napped), got hungry, and decided to venture out again.  We didn’t want to eat or drink too much before the race, but a burger and a beer sounded great.  We still hadn’t spent much time researching where to eat, so we headed back out to 6th Street where we’d had lunch.  We walked up and down a bit before settling on a place called Jackalope.  Like everything else on 6th St., it kind of looked like a dive bar at first, but The Chupacabra burger (Barbacoa beef, salsa verde, jack, pickles, jalapenos, ghost pepper aioli) that we ordered to share turned out to be really good.  We each ordered a local beer from Austin Beer Works.  I got the Pearl Snap Pilsner.  I can’t remember what Mike got – something darker with a nice taste of coffee at the finish.

The waitress was very friendly and somehow talked us into a couple of tequila shots.  I guess, by that time, we were thinking we still had one more whole day before the marathon, and we should, after all, make the most of our rare vacation.

Untitled

In spite of the tequila, we didn’t get too crazy, but we did end up testing out the on-premise Jackalope.

Untitled

It was much more tame than the mechanical bull we’d seen further down the street.

Untitled

We vowed to follow a pre-marathon diet religiously the next day.

Wow! Austin Marathon! Gear!

We are back from Austin.  What a great trip!  I don’t even know where to begin.

I guess I’ll start at the beginning.

Packing is hard!

Untitled

Before:  I packed three potential marathon outfits.  All for hot weather.  Anything above 30 was gonna be hot.  I’m thinking I’ll go with my brand new Skirt Sports Gym Girl Skirt and last year’s e-bay purchase of a Skirt Sports Tank.

After:  Yes, Skirt Sports skirt.  I think I’ll buy another.  No way on the tank.  Can’t do the CamelBack without sleeves.  Went with the Grandma’s Marathon T.

Capture

I don’t look exactly like that.

Before:  My CamelBack.  I hate carrying it, but I haven’t really mastered the water stop thing.  I have to figure it out before Boston because no CamelBacks allowed there.  Not sure how I managed last year.

Capture

It’s a good pack.

After:  Followed my Maine Marathon plan of 4 swallows, breathe, 3 more swallows, every mile (get your mind out of the gutter – this is a PG blog).  After the Expo, decided to throw two Nuun tablets in there.  Worked fine. Ran out of water (I think about 72 ounces) at mile 25.

Before:  Lots of Gu’s.  I have such a love/hate relationship with those nasty, sticky, way-too-sweet things.

After:  Wanted to die and quit after mile 5.  After Caramel Macchiatto Gu hit around mile 6, I felt much better.  “Gu’ed” every 5 miles after that and rode the waves of caffeine and sugar driven ups and downs.  Felt like puking every time I tried to down a shot and vowed to try training with shot blocks or sport beans next time.

Before:  Body Glide.  I swear, the first year I ran, I never had chaffing issues.  Now I do even in the dead of winter.

After:  Still chaffed after liberal application, but I was much better off than I would have been without it.  Worst spot is a huge strip of raw skin on my upper inner arm from the CamelBack.  Thank goodness they won’t be allowed in Boston.  Addie says it looks like bacon.

Before:  Since the race was going to be on Valentine’s day, I thought it would be cool to wear my SkirtSports Heart Socks.

Capture

After:  Decided it would be too hot for knee socks.  Darn Toughs never let me down.  Wore a nice, new, cushy pair.  No regrets what-so-ever.

Capture

Before:  Almost brand new Adidas Ultra’s.

Untitled

After:  No regrets.  Pretty happy to put on my flip-flops after and let my feet spread out, but no sore feet, no blisters, nothing.

Other Gear:  Tom Tom Spark Music (still haven’t loaded any music), Target/Champion Sports Bra, IceBreaker Women’s Siren Hipkini.

In the past, figuring out all the outfits I wanted to wear on vacation would have been a struggle, but that was nothing compared to trying to figure out what I wanted to wear for the race.  As always, I ended up wearing the same few things over and over and could have gotten away with bringing much less.

I think this may have been the last journey for my current suitcase, so maybe I’ll down-size which will force me to finally learn that lesson.

Next up, Expo Review.  And maybe Shake Out Run Review.  If I can fit both of those things in one post.  I don’t seem to do well with short summaries.

New Shoes – Adidas Ultra Boost

Is there anything more exciting in a runner’s life than getting a new pair of shoes?

Untitled

Our Shoe Graveyard

(Forgive the dark photos.  Not much daylight around these parts right now.)

No matter how many different routes I have, how many distance and pace variations, how many weather variations, there’s always a bit of monotony to running.

Having some kind of newness really makes my run – especially when that newness is what’s supporting me through all this running.

There aren’t many things where I won’t try to find a cheaper option, but with running shoes, I don’t bat an eye at price.  I justify by calculating how much it will cost per mile.  I have 654.52 miles (approximately.  Did I mention I’m a nerd about stats?) on my current pair of shoes.  They cost me $180, so that’s about 28 cents per mile.  Actually, I might be kind of upset to drop a quarter every mile I ran (that would pay for a lot of my bad diet Pepsi habit), but mostly, it puts it into good perspective for me.

My last two pairs of running shoes were the Adidas Ultra Boost (first black, ugh, then bright pink/purple, better).  And if you must know, before that it was Asics, Nike, Brooks Ghost 7, Brooks Glycerin, Brooks Ghost 7, Brooks Ghost 7 (did I mention I’m a nerd about stats?).  You’d think I might like to keep things simple and stick with the same thing over and over again, but that would eliminate that newness factor that I love.  I at least need a different color!

So, after Christmas, Amazon credit was plentiful, cash – not so much.  As I was approaching 600 miles on my current shoes, I figured I’d better do something, so I ordered these beauties.

Capture

Loved the gray color.  Well, it turns out they weren’t the exact same as my original Ultras.  On top of that, I accidentally ordered a half size down, so back to Amazon they went.

Which worked out pretty well, since I was getting some pressure to switch brands.  Mike just bought his first Hoka One’s.  After his first run in them, he urgently texted me to say I should drop everything and order the Hoka’s.  He was in love.

Capture

After all that returning and mind-changing, pay day finally rolled around again, so I thought I’d pick up a pair at our favorite local running store, so I could at least try them on.  We left a little early for our running group – also put on through Fleet Feet Sports – so I could try them on and presumably buy them.  It was complete chaos in the store with the running group there.  Craft was also doing a demo night (tried a shirt – nice – but not my tried and true wool).  And there was also some kind of spin class going on.  I still made the poor sales guy take me through the whole thing.  I tried on some new Saucony’s, the Hoka’s, and the same Ultra variation I had ordered from Amazon.  Every time I try on running shoes, I hope for some kind of sign – I don’t know, angels singing, rays of light, something – that these are the shoes for me.  But they all feel great, so I just never know.  I decided to go with the Hoka’s, since Mike was so excited about them.

As I got ready to pay, the nice sales guy said I could use them on my run with the training group and pay for them after if I liked them.  Or not if I didn’t.  Our coaches had a nasty hill workout in mind for us, but I actually felt great, and the shoes felt great, but . . .

I had a few little twinges of tight calves and tight arches.  Not a big deal, and I figured I would get used to it.  But as I was running, I got to thinking that at my last marathon, I had no calf problems at all while in my first three, the only major pain I had, especially in the last 6.2 miles, was in my calves.  Before that I’d never even given that any thought, or if I had, maybe I just figured I was in better shape.  As much as I’d like to continue to think that, maybe, just maybe, it was the shoes.  First three marathons – Brooks Ghost 7, last marathon – Adidas Ultra Boost.  That was it, finally, some kind of solid evidence (maybe) for a decision.  (I’ll let you know after this marathon.)  They were very gracious when I got back to Fleet Feet and told them I wouldn’t be buying the Hoka’s after all.  (I sure hope they can still sell them to someone else – I assume they have some kind of strategy for that.)  I wanted to get my Ultra’s right then and there, but they only had black (a girl’s gotta be a bit girly) and were still very busy and about to close.

I found my new babies on Amazon.  Here’s the unboxing . . .

Untitled

Aren’t they pretty?  Even in the 5:00 am light?
Untitled

Here’s another shot for good measure.

Untitled

I only have about 15 or so miles on them.  Two recent snow storms and tapering for Austin have completely sapped my motivation.  I’m still planning to wear them for the marathon.  Is that crazy?

Since then, (like almost the very next day), Adidas has announced a new shoe which seems similar to the Ultra’s but specifically for women.  Maybe my next pair.

Off to pack for Austin.  Woo hoo!  And help my daughter with some kind of crazy school project.

Untitled

Mike is tracing Addie, so she can turn herself into a character for her book report.  Somehow she ended up with what he calls “Grasshopper Legs”, so we need to redo the bottom half.


She has way too much homework for a third grader.  It’s ridiculous and frustrating, but that’s a post for another day.  Anyone else in the same boat?

Brunch Run – Slab

Finally!  A real, honest to goodness breakfast run!

Austin Marathon is two weeks away!  We woke up early and tried to decide if we should try to squeeze in one more long run (Good Table and back would be about 22 or so), or start our tapers as our training plans are telling us to do (a 10 mile loop could put us pretty much anywhere in Portland).

I think the long run would have been good for us psychologically but physically cutting it a bit close with time to recover for the marathon.  At least that’s what I convinced my lazy self made sense.

So, we woke up and debated about that for a while then went back to sleep and woke up again and struggled some more with the decision.  We finally figured out a loop that would give us about 8 miles before we ended up in town.  (One of my favorites; Back Cove to Eastern Prom Trail to Fore St. to Danforth St. to Pine St. to Congress, etc.)  Still we hadn’t decided on a place until after we crested the hill by Western Cemetery.  Maybe, subconsciously, we wanted to see if we would make it before we got excited about breakfast.

Since we got a much later start than usual, we had a lot more options as far as what was open.  We were on the fence between Slab and Isa and happily ended up at Slab.  (Not to imply that Isa’s not good – we haven’t been there yet, and I think it would have been more lunch than brunch.  Soon, we’ll get there.)

I think it was probably around 11:30 or so when we got there and were able to get right in and sit at a nice quiet four-top by the window.  We had a nice view of the little square there.
Untitled
I think their patio must be great in the summer and fall, but it was empty today.  I had a good view of one of my favorite fabric stores in town, Z-Fabrics, but was really just focused on food and drink right then.
Untitled
(Or maybe nothing, I look pretty spaced out.)  The decor is simple and clean but not too Spartan.  Looking up we could see remnants of the old Portland Public Market and missed our visits there long ago.  We wondered if it would have been more likely to survive in today’s foodie world.
Untitled

We both started off with mimosas.  It was one (okay two) of the best I’ve had in Portland.  I will drink just about any mimosa, but I am pretty picky when it comes to judging one.  I like it to be mostly prosecco/champagne with just a splash of juice.  These fit the bill nicely and were also quite a generous pour – and only $4.

The menu was a glorious carb-lover’s dream (although they did have plenty of bread/gluten free options).  It pained me to have to just pick one thing.  The “chit-chat” (some kind of fried dough), blueberry cornbread (anything but ordinary cornbread), and pull-apart bread box jumped out at me immediately.  The scrambled egg sandwich cone (beer-batter deep fried Luna wedge?!!!!) and “eggs in hell” were also calling my name.  Oh how I agonized!  In the end, I decided to give in to the Katie I know, and go with the highest carb dish.  I mean why waste any calories on veggies or protein?  I got the pull-apart bread box.  The only regret I have is that I couldn’t eat the whole thing – no matter how slowly we ate and how long we lingered.

The bread was called poppy seed schiacciata.  The closest thing I know of to what it was is a giant, light, tender fougasse.  If you’ve had the luna bread from Slab or Micucci’s, you’ll understand how light and fluffy this was.  It also had a nice touch of olive oil like you might expect in focaccia.
Untitled

It came with all kinds of wonderful things to dip it in.  My dream meal!  My favorite was to dip it in olive oil then the pistachio dugga (chopped pistachios, sesame seeds, salt, and other delicious spices).
Untitled

My second favorite was the sugo di pepperoni – a perfectly spicy tomato sauce.  It also came with warm honey and artichoke ricotta – both also good.  If we hadn’t been running, I would have brought every single sauce home to savor with other (of course, substandard) bread all week long.
Untitled

That’s the sugo di pepperoni on the right, artichoke ricotta on the bottom, and honey on the top.  I wouldn’t be sad if they replaced this normal honey with Mike’s Hot Honey.  (And I don’t mean me.  LOL.)

Mike had the “hangover wedge” which was also amazing.  Think their classic Sicilian Slab with it’s wonderful crust topped with perfectly crispy pepperoni and all kinds of wonderful other stuff.  We were scheming on how to duplicate the bacon roast onion at home.  He also got the slab scramble (one of your gluten free options).  The eggs were made wonderfully fluffy with sour cream and the pepperoncini were a really creative addition (but not spicy enough for me), but, for me, they just didn’t stack up to the more carb-y options.
Untitled
All in all, it was a wonderful experience.  We lingered.  We read the Portland Phoenix.  We agonized over our children’s lack of desire to drive (we would have called for a ride in a heartbeat).  Our waitress was great- checking in as soon as our mimosas got low but not rushing us at all.

I love Slab as a lunch/dinner place, and it seems like restaurants like that often do breakfast/brunch as an afterthought, but definitely not so with Slab.  It’s unusual for me, but I think I actually prefer their brunch menu.  (But definitely don’t skip it if you’re not here on a Sunday.  Go!  And, if nothing else, get the classic namesake Sicilian Slab.)

They serve brunch until 8:00 tonight.  Would it be weird to go twice in one day?

Lil’s Cafe, January, and Other Random Stuff

We haven’t done a breakfast run in a while.  It seems like we’re still recovering from the holidays, financially, and mostly – organizationally.

By New Year’s Day, I’m usually gung-ho to put away all the Christmas stuff, clean up my diet, and plunge back into a routine.  I was there this year, too. For my book club this month, we read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  I went a little nuts applying that to my bedroom; got rid of a ton of clothes, cleaned out years worth of junk from my nightstand drawers, and applied the recommended clothing storage methods.  Diet-wise, I made some healthy bread and bagels, bought some almond butter, and vowed to eat more fruits and veggies.  With a marathon on the horizon, I planned to not going to miss a. single. day. of running.

All of a sudden though, the cold and dinginess of January just sapped my enthusiasm.  I’m not used to the folding method recommended by Marie Kondo, so it’s become too hard to put clothes away.  My bedroom is now worse than ever.  I did eat a banana and some cucumbers and tomatoes this week, so that’s something, but not the pristine diet I had in mind on New Year’s Day.  I missed a long run on Sunday partly because we couldn’t organize transportation for the kids who didn’t end up needed to be transported after all, and if I’m honest, partly a lot because I didn’t want to face the cold and the 20mph winds that day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not unhappy or depressed.  I’m just feeling like I can’t don’t want to do anything but the bare minimum; run, work, eat, curl up under a blanket and watch TV.  I’ll crawl out sometime in May.

Actually, we had a 40+ degree yesterday!  I can already feel my attitude changing.  One of the things that makes me really grumpy is running on ice and slush and frozen chunks of snow.  It’s even worse when it starts to soften a bit – like running on sand – not the hard-packed stuff near the water, but the other stuff that makes you awkwardly slide all over the place.  We went for a run last night, and the messy trail I had struggled to run on just 48 hours earlier was almost completely clear.  I do worry about global warming, but I’m so excited that the temps are forecast to be above freezing for the next week or so.  It’s going to make running (and even just walking out of my house) so much easier when this mess melts.download

 

The conditions of the streets and trails bother me so much more than the cold, but it’s amazing how much better it felt to run yesterday minus a few layers.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like the little brother in A Christmas Story.

I’m sorry if you were just looking for info on Lil’s and had to read through all this complaining to get this far.

After our lovely visit to Popovers on The Square in Portsmouth, we decided to go back to the French bakery to pick up a baguette to have with lunch or dinner later that day.  We had gone there the night before and split a macaron for dessert.  We did go back.  It was dark and barely looked open.  The romance and French accents (imagined by us?  faked by them?) of the night before were gone.  Worst of all, no baguettes.  What kind of French bakery has no baguettes?!

Problem quickly solved, however, when we remembered that Lil’s was just over the border in Kittery.  I was getting hungry again by then anyway and was hoping to sneak in one of their yummy crullers for the ride home.  We’d been there back in October after doing a little shopping at the outlet malls.  The Lil’s side of Kittery is totally different from the shopping side of Kittery.  Definitely worth a little (quick) detour.

Here was our spread from the first visit:
Untitled

Coffee, traditional sour cream coffee cake, cruller with Butterfinger topping, and almond croissant.  It was all pretty rich and filling.  That day we got a baguette with some butter to eat on the way home.

This time, we didn’t stay, but I snapped a few shots while we got our baguette.


There are so many other things there that I’d like to try that I feel like I can’t really do a real review before I visit a few more times.  I’m guessing they make a mean breakfast sandwich (oh, just looked at the menu and saw that you can get one with candied bacon.  I feel like I need to go back.  NOW.), and it looks like they have some really good lunch offerings as well.


The place has a cool vibe with exposed brick, flour sacks on the ceiling, and a Vinyl Vault!

And I did get my cruller!
Untitled

That’s the only thing I can honestly vouch for.  Recommendations:  Get one!

But . . . come with an empty stomach.  The egg-y interior of a cruller can make it seem deceptively light.  The crooks and crevices on the outside are perfect pockets for glaze and the oil from frying.  So delicious and so rich.  I could only eat half at a time.  Also, don’t bother with the ones with other toppings – that’s just over the top rich and takes away from the cruller’s perfect, straightforward simplicity.