Monday, September 29, 2008
I make these brownies often. The banana and chocolate are the dominant flavours. Unless you happen to notice the green flecks, you might never guess they contain zucchini. Your roommate's 7-year old will not suspect you slipped icky vegetables into her yummy dessert.
Zucchini Banana Brownies
~ from a Dr. Dean Ornish cookbook ~
-4 cups grated zucchini
-2 cups mashed ripe banana
-4 tsp vanilla
-2 tbsp water
-4 cups flour
-1 cup sugar
-2/3 cup dutch cocoa
-2 tsp baking soda
-2 tsp salt
Mix dry ingredients into wet. The dough will become gooey and insolent, and not want to cooperate. Use your (clean) hands to really get in there and massage it all together really well. It's a squishy and messy undertaking, you'll feel like a little kid, and it works. Pour mixture into a rectangular glass pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let cool before cutting into squares.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
This week, which is coming to a close, was deemed a medium-effort week, so today's long run was only about 16k long. Our coach made a solid decision there, I'd say. My tummy, brain and knee unanimously agreed that I should go easy today.
It was a decent run. No geese gawkers littered today's chosen route; saw a handful of cyclists and almost no runners. The wind picked up at about 10k, and I thought it might rain but it didn't. I didn't have overflowing energy, and my pace was more tortoise than hare, but I let it go. I like to try to take it easy on myself during my long runs so I didn't force anything. The way I see it, I'm concentrating on one thing: distance. There's no need for me to add more goals and pressure to the mix. I am enamoured with running, and I want to maintain this love for many years to come. The best way I know how to make love stay is to not force it. Please don't confuse this with romantic advice; it is most definitely not.
It ain't seasonal advice, either. Summer is thinking about leaving us for a while. There's been a lot of that going around, but in this case, and as far as I know, it's nothing personal.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
An empty street. A crowded path.
A challenging, maybe even dangerous, route infamous for its potholes, hills, hordes of cyclists or cougar sightings (yes, I said it).
A solid interview for that perfect job; a dismal failure.
A big birthday, one ending with a 0 or 5.
An illicit romance.
A hurtful secret.
Fierce feelings: hatred and revenge.
A close encounter.
The freedom run feels drug induced, and it is, sort of; the wild chemicals burst in our brains when exposed to speed. You could run forever but you’re riding shotgun, nobody put you in charge of landing the plane. Like an after-party or a post-fireworks bbq, the freedom run follows on the heels of an event, but it leads you. It is sweet fire that carries you far and away. It feels wild.
Like so many precious animal and human populations, the freedom run is under threat and it needs your protection. You must guard against exploitation. In a commercialized sport like running, our attentions are easily victimized by the latest Big Brand ads forcing doggie running shoes and new gel flavors (like toasted English muffin with anchovy paste) down our throats. The process of commercial exchange will gradually, with our unconscious permission, rob us of our rights to choose and will end in freedom’s extinction. I can feel its breath slowing with every unnecessary piece of running gear I buy, and with each step I take on the fake surface of a treadmill while the sun shines outdoors. The only reliable way to resuscitate the heart of freedom is to work at making each run your own. Find your own rhythm and lend it a beat.
“The stuff you own ends up owning you.”
Saturday, September 20, 2008
In terms of sassiness, however, backpacking clothes don’t hold a candle to my running skirt. The skirt says, I can wear shorts and a skirt simultaneously; I can wear a tight, short skirt and not let you see anything I don’t want you to when I fall over, that’s how cool, together and overall awesome I am. If the glacial weather wasn’t already descending like a plague upon this godforsaken city I’d be raising that hemline. (For the record, backpacking clothes say – albeit in a gorgeous foreign accent – wash me before I disintegrate: you don’t know the number of filthy floors I’ve lain upon!)
Another dependable: apples. Award-winning characteristics: Portable. Delicious. Healthy. Crunchy. Fresh. Smurf measurement ("3 apples tall"). Sweet. Juicy. Colorful. Ubiquitous. Compostable. Canadian. Cosmopolitan. And sassy, for sure: red as a monkey’s flaming butt.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
When I return to running after taking a break, the endorphins sail my way. I don’t have to run hard or far to feel their effects. These days, my weekly long runs conclude with cravings for coffee, or odd protein-rich foods I don’t or wouldn’t eat, or avoid like the plague like sidewalk hotdogs (seriously). I haven’t IM’d with the dreamy chemicals in some time (and I won’t ingest them through hotdogs).
Tonight was an exception. I felt them. Speedwork tonight was 2000m x 4 with a 5 minute rest in between. All the running I did – to the meeting place, during practice and during the scenic route to my place – added up to about 16 km with the first eight requiring strenuous effort. The last seven were gentle. I concentrated on keeping good technique, the unusually choppy waves of the water, and how they distort the city lights that try to lay claim on them.
I had forgotten how endorphins make you feel wonderful until I got home. Contentedness and a feeling of peace too sweet to question accompany mundane activities like slicing tomatoes for a sandwich when you’re under the influence. My quads now feel sore, reminding me that endorphins encourage and delude, like a good coach or thesis advisor: "you can do it, you're almost there!"
Strenuous running is not the only way to invite peace into your life. I’m open to the hot sauce endorphins as modeled by these Vietnamese chili sauces, but for mind-altering spice capades that appear to freeze time as well as your face, you can’t beat an overindulgence of wasabi.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
So, I overslept and missed my run today. I miss a lot of morning runs and I burn a lot of toast. I also belt out a hardened and scornful rendition – as only a woman can – of Meatloaf’s “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” at the drop of a hat. The toast destroying I find the most distressful.
The bread I scorched this morning is a “breakfast pita” made by Pita Break. Imagine the love child of a pita and a naan, available in gentle, morning-friendly flavours like orange-cranberry and muesli. The company’s suspicion of the decision-making skills of the individual is illustrated by the toasting instructions printed on the plastic bag. Perhaps they need to make their instructions more clear for curmudgeons like me.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
The peaches grown in this neck of the woods are spheres of ambrosia. I nurtured a deep attachment to the peach this summer, a funky surprise having never enjoyed this fruit before. “An immature nectarine with pubescent hair growth,” I would declare (in my head). Perhaps it’s true that love and hate are fruit borne of the same tree. My breakfast life changed when I accepted a fresh peach after finishing my first 25 km. It was like the ol’ Jekyll and Hyde story: in seconds the thing had been devoured, I found a sticky pit in my palm and I had a feeling of being quenched on several levels. I had tapped into an unconscious undercurrent of nectar desire and my fear of fuzz was gone.
Another new friend of mine is flax seed. It’s famous for its omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, two polyunsaturated fats that are beneficial for us. I don't know why, they just are, okay?
1 tbsp flax (freshly ground)
1 peach, cut up
About a cup of cold green tea (brewed the day before)
A dollop of yogurt – plain, vanilla, lemon, whatevah
1 tbsp maple syrup
Blend, then pour into a beaker - or alternately, a glass - and sip it slow.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
But, this morning it rained.