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)!

Happy Thanksgiving! (we started celebrating a little early)

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We took most of the week off and started our celebration early!  We’re up in Rangeley for a few early morning runs and “a Thanksgiving dinner that can’t be beat.” (on Wednesday at least).

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Can’t catch her!  If you zoom in, you’ll see Katie blowing me away on a sprint interval!

 

2015 in 2015!

Tuesday was a big day for me.  I had set a goal on January 1st this year to run 2,015 miles before December 31st.  It seemed like a big goal at the time, since I ended 2014 at just under 2,000 miles (1966.93, not that I’m keeping track).  Woo hoo, I hit it by November 10th!  And I still have time to get in about 350 more before the end of the year.

On Sunday night, I knew that I was going to be close, so I added an extra mile or two to my Monday and Tuesday runs, so I’d be sure to hit the goal on Tuesday.  Tuesday is one of my favorite nights of the week.  For some lucky reason, we rarely have kid taxi duty on that night, but, best of all, the next day is my day off of running.  I love running, but days off are glorious!  It didn’t take much to convince Mike we should go out and celebrate.

First we had to get through our younger son, Frank’s, first ever high school parent-teacher conference.  He had texted me earlier in the day to see if we could have pizza for dinner, so I thought we could combine my celebration with a post-conference pizza dinner (as long as we were still speaking after the conference, of course – my older son legendarily got kicked out of his own conference once).  I immediately thought of Bonobo, since I’ve been hooked on their pizza since our Happy Hour Run there a few weeks ago (and my subsequent, covert takeout order there one night when Addie had soccer practice nearby, and Mike wasn’t home).

We got through the conference without incident and actually got some nice compliments for Frank then headed to Bonobo.  Having to park was kind of annoying, since we usually don’t have the burden of the car.  As we were walking to the restaurant, it came up that it wasn’t actually Frank who had texted wanting pizza but our older daughter using his phone.  (Smart of him not to mention it until we were almost there.)  We got kind of a chuckle out of that.

Bonobo doesn’t seem to get as much press as some of the other pizza places in town.  I actually quite like those places, so, originally, I was a bit reluctant to waste my pizza-eating budget on a different place, but I was hooked – almost the minute we walked in that first time.

The atmosphere is welcoming and bright (in a cozy, Christmas-y kind of way – not in a spartan kind of way), and it just looks like everyone is having a good time, relaxing and lingering over their pizzas and wine or beer.  (Speaking about cozy, Christmas-y, I just recently read about the concept of koselig – check it out very interesting and appealing.)  There are little white Christmas lights strung back and forth across the tin ceiling, a nice bar, and banquettes along the window.  It might just be where it’s located, in the West End, but I got a real neighborhood-restaurant kind of vibe from it – in a good way.

The first time we went we sat at the bar which was very pleasant.

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When we went with Frank this time, we sat at one of the tables with the banquettes.  A very nice couple who were sitting at a table for four offered to switch with us when they saw three of us trying to squeeze into a table for two.  Even though there were people seated on either side of us, it seemed like we had our own nice, private space and had a fun conversation.  (Surprisingly, our kids are really good about not pulling their phones out while we’re eating – it’s not like we set a good example.)

Mike is kind of a pizza purist, and the first time we went he wanted a Margherita pizza.  I like those just fine, and I do agree that a sparsely-topped pizza lets you focus on all the important, simple, components of a pizza; the crust, the sauce (actually I guess those are the only two – doesn’t seem like you can really screw up the cheese part).  But I like my pizza to be more interesting.  Sometimes I can just go with the flow, but I was already cranky that night.  On our run just before, Mike was weaving in and out of traffic like a madman, in the dark, so I was a little tense after taking my life in my hands legs and traipsing after him.  We decided to compromise on a sausage pizza, but I didn’t really want that either.  We couldn’t justify ordering two pizzas.  Finally, we realized we could order half and half, and the night was saved!  (Glass of wine helped, too.)

For my half, I had a hard time deciding between the “baby arugula” (arugula almond pesto, roasted red peppers, goat cheese, baby arugula salad on top) and the “gruyere” (potatoes, prosciutto, spinach & leeks, gruyere & parm, roasted garlic butter).  I ended up with the “baby arugula”, and it was delicious.  My favorite part was the subtle saltiness of the baby arugula salad.

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The next time I went, I ordered takeout while Addie was at her last soccer practice, I got a “gruyere” for myself and whichever kids dared to try it and a cheese for those who didn’t.  The bad thing about take out is that it was kind of cold by the time I did what seemed like a thousand other errands and got home.  It was still really delicious though.  The nuttiness of the gruyere really came through, and I loved it.  The potatoes were purple which was a fun touch.

I liked that one so much that that’s what I ordered when we went to celebrate my 2015.  Mike took advantage of the Tuesday (and Wednesday) night special of a $7 cheese pizza, and Frank opted to make the other half of mine a “caspian” (roasted chicken, smoked tomatoes, garlic & basil, mozz, parm & red sauce).  I tried some of his, and it was good but not enough to make me stray from my two new faves.
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If you’re in the market for a good pizza, definitely give Bonobo a try.

What are your running goals for 2015?  Have you started thinking about 2016 yet?  I’m planning on 2,016 miles (and, of course, some races).

Sometimes we Actually Cook our own Food

With all we talk about food on this blog, you’d think we never cook, but we do actually have to eat something other than breakfast.  (Well, we cook that for ourselves sometimes, too.  Mike makes a mean breakfast sandwich,

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and I know my way around a bagel.)
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One of my favorite things to make for dinner is pizza.  I use the pizza crust recipe from Roberta’s restaurant in Brooklyn.  I got to go to the actual restaurant with my brother and sister the night before I ran the Brooklyn Marathon around this time last year.  What a great night!

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I would like to work on perfecting my sauce recipe, but for now, I just use the cheapest grocery store brand if I even use red sauce at all.

Try as I might, I’m really no pro when it comes to the pizza peel, so we make our pizzas on parchment paper which slides right off the peel easily.  I discovered these pre-made rounds on a recent trip to King Arthur Flour, and they’re perfect for our pizzas.  I usually try to stretch the dough out really thin to cover the whole round.  (I need to learn how to do that throw-the-crust-up-in-the-air thing.)

Other than the crust, everyone makes their own pizza.  Sometimes, I go all out and put out lots of toppings like I did for my book club recently.

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Other times when it’s just us, we pull things from the fridge as we find them.  One of my favorites is a copy of the Matinicus pizza from Portland Pie Company which has cream cheese, prosciutto, and banana peppers (and red sauce and pizza cheese).  Lately though, Joe (my oldest), Frank (my younger son), and I have been working on our copy of Otto’s mashed potato, bacon, and scallion.  I think we’ve finally perfected it.

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Did you know you can buy these funny little mashed potato disks in the frozen section at Trader Joe’s?  They heat up in the microwave in less than 5 minutes and miraculously turn into fluffy, mashed potatoes.  I think they’re a bit easier than making mashed potatoes from scratch especially when they’re not going to have to stand on their own.  Last time, Mike doctored ours up with butter, garlic salt, and who knows what else.  They were so good they barely made it on the pizza.  I think they’d still be good without the “doctoring”.

Thanks for reading.  Happy cooking, running, and eating!

Just Beet It!

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This is an interesting read from Runner’s World: In Beet Juice We Believe.  I read it last week and almost immediately added beets to my lunch bag.  I’m probably not getting the full benefit since I’m going with canned and pickled beets out of laziness convenience.  Still, they’re low calorie and tasty, although it seems people either love them or hate them.  A student of mine was appalled that I sat at my desk eating beets directly from a can.  Another proclaimed that she loved beets and then the class disintegrated  went into a discussion of foods we love and hate.  8th graders love getting their teachers off topic!

Proper diet has been the most difficult aspect of running culture to take on.  Since starting training for my first marathon back in May, it seems like I am constantly hungry.  I bring a bag full of food (my lunch does not seem to make it past 10AM) to school and still manage to make frequent trips to the Conference’ Room to scrounge for any leftover treats.  I may have to lay this on my coworkers next time we’re eating together:

I think the hunger is a good sign that my metabolism is running high and rather than big sit down meals (Breakfast Runs aside), I’m more a grazer now.  I also should cut down on the adult libations, but it sure is a great feeling to finish off a good run with a cocktail! Problem is that if I dropped 15 pounds or so, my running performance would get a serious boost.  Additionally, I think some of the aches and pains I’ve been getting my knee (IT band?) would be less.  Not an easy task, but at some point after the Holidays soon I’ll get on the Runners Diet bandwagon.

See you on the road!

Weekend Almost Here!

I’m so ready for the weekend and looking forward to another breakfast run.  My goal for tomorrow is for us to really get up with the sun and hit a 6 or 7 AM spot for breakfast.  Has been a little more chilly for runs this week (high 30s-low 40s).  Last weekend I made a surprise trip to CABELA’S in Scarborough and found that they have a nice collection of ICEBREAKER apparell for sale.  I picked up a short-sleeved wool shirt along with some long underwear.

My most recent runs have a been a varied collection of wool items: Smartwool hat, Ibex glove-liners, PEP shirt, and Icebreaker long underwear (in lieu of synthetic tights).  Felt really comfortable for the entire run…

Well, gotta pay the bills…See you on the road!

Bread Run! Big Sky Bread Company

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Loaves and the Ultras!

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

See you on the road!