Errandonne 2017…A ride for some take out pizza from OTTO (Read Street)

Not really a breakfast run, but I did manage to squeeze in my first double digit run of the year after work today.  It had been a while, but I managed to run across to Falmouth on a mild March afternoon, although it was chilly on the way back.

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Was pretty worn out after, but Katie convinced me to set out on our first Errandonnee 2017 Challenge event of the year to bring home dinner from OTTO Pizza on Read Street.  We’re no strangers to OTTO, in fact in my own unofficial ranking of Portland pizza, OTTO is on top (followed closely by Pizzaiolo and Portland’s newest, Tipo).

There was some chill to the night air, but we had a pleasant ride there.  We put in our order for a large cheese and small sausage with Vidalia Onion.  Otto has some fantastic speciality pizzas, but it is their basic pies that really sell me.  Our only concern about the order was securing them to our bike on the way home, but bungee cords did the trick.

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We decided to order at door for the pizza rather than ordering ahead, so we would have an excuse to enjoy a libation or two while we waited it would be fresh and hot for the ride home.  At the bar we enjoyed a couple of local brews and I had an extra special treat of UFF dry cider (more on them in another post soon).  We also ordered the bruschetta appetizer, which was OK.  The balsamic had a nice flavor, but I prefer my tomatoes chopped smaller and the bread was a bit dry.  That did not stop us from eating all though since we earned the calories on our ride.

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We made the ride home and like usual, the kids (and us) made sure there would be no pizza leftovers for lunch the next morning.  OTTO’s pizza continues to impress even when delivered by bike on a chilly March evening.

Saturday Tri…Run, Bike, Eat at Schulte & Herr

This winter has proved to be a tough one to run through.  After finally crawling out of bed we decided to get out and at least do a morning 5k.  Fortunately, our conversation about Katie running this year’s Boston Marathon carried us to 4.5 miles.  After a quick shower for Katie (I tend to go without until Sunday night), we set out on our bikes for Schulte & Herr.

Katie had the spaetzle (think the most amazing Mac&Cheese ever with Emmantaler) and I had the German Breakfast Plate. The ham and sausages were great although I did order some mustard to enhance the flavor.  A hard-boiled egg would’ve been a nice addition, but overall the breakfast was fantastic!

Ready as I’m Going to Be

Or at least I’m packed.

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We’re leaving tomorrow morning.

I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time and big chunk of change at the Expo.

Then carb-loading and meeting some past winners at the pre-race dinner.

Then finally getting the show on the road on Monday.

And especially post-race celebrating!

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:

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(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.)

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Look at those beauties!

We ended up with a maple bacon and a Crunchberry.
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Then we decided to stretch out our sore legs and walk the 2-ish miles to Allen’s Boots.

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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.

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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.
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These were the winners.

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

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

But the fries . . .

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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

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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.

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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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.
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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.
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(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.
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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.
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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).
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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.
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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.
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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:
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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!
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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.

Year in Review

It seems like it’s getting a little past the time to write a “Year in Review” post.  Only ten days into the new year and it feels like I’m already back into a nice routine.  The fun and craziness of the  holidays seems like a long time ago already.

We had one more thing to celebrate on Friday with our oldest son, Joe’s 20th (TWENTIETH!!!!!!) birthday.  Something about that number is making me feel really old.  We had a nice dinner at Otto’s on Munjoy Hill.  I love a good slice from Otto’s on Congress and definitely won’t say no to takeout, but having it fresh from the oven was glorious.

None of our kids have really caught our running bug, but Joe has done three races with us.  First the St. Brigid’s Harvest Hustle where he placed first in his age group.
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Then The Sea Dogs Mother’s Day 5K and finally The School’s Out 5K as a Lincoln Middle School alum.  Certainly more than I ever did before 20 (or even 40).

Anyway, back to the year in review, mostly I just want to document my stats.  I’m a total nerd about record keeping when it comes to running.  I want to track every tenth of a mile that I run.  I have a spreadsheet on Google Docs where I track every second spent running.  It’s a little thing, but I really enjoy entering the numbers in after each run.  I have formulas in it that track my total miles for the month, for the year, for my current pair of shoes.  It’s fun to watch those numbers change every time I enter a run.  I have every future run entered into it between now and April 18th.

My total mileage for 2015 was 2,280.8.  Not too shabby.  I hit my goal of 2,015 back in the middle of November and estimated that I’d be able to do another 350 before the end of the year – based on all my spreadsheet entries.  Unfortunately, I really fell apart running-wise in December.  I didn’t quit altogether, but I missed multiple days in a row which I hardly ever do.  I think it was good.  I was getting a little burnt out, and the days off helped me get motivated for a better January.  So far so good with 65+ miles this week.  Unfortunately, I’m skipping a long run today.  It’s pouring rain, and I’m just not feeling it.  This one day won’t kill me, but Austin’s not going to be pretty if I miss many more days.  It’s barely a month away!

I’m rambling – thinking out loud.  What are your goals for 2016?  I’m shooting for 2,016 miles this year but will hopefully get more.  How about races?  The only ones I’m fully committed to right now are the Austin and Boston Marathons.

Happy Running and Happy New Year.  Hope it’s not too cold, rainy, icy where you are.

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) 🌲