A week(ish) of Paleo eating has come to an end. Let’s recap, shall we? Day 1: What’s the big deal? No, really. How is this hard? The first day rolled by pretty uneventfully. I had a great breakfast of eggs … Continue reading
I love it when things like this happen. I mention my quest to find a balance between work, training, and healthy eating, and Vega offers to send me some of their products to try out. Now, that’s what I call … Continue reading
I am LOVING shorter runs lately. Anything 6 miles and under, and I am FLYING these days! I’m somehow down to cranking out 8:30 -9:00 minute miles consistently, and I’m negative splitting these short runs like CRAZY! Strength training is … Continue reading
What a weekend!
The Inaugural Annual MJ Reunion Half Marathon, also known as the St Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend involved lots of driving (try 18+ hours round trip for EACH of us!), lots of running, and lots of eating our way down Beale Street.
Mel and I met back in 2008 in grad school. We were both proud members of what we called the wRECking crew cohort, and had our fair share of shenanigans. Ours is one of those friendships that was solidified in times of crisis – namely while stuck on the side of the road for 4 hours one cold, December evening in Southeastern Ohio and then being picked up by a tow truck at 1 am and taken to a very Batesian hotel in the boonies. Over those 4 hours, we did everything to entertain ourselves and keep warm, including mooning what little oncoming traffic there was. Yep, our friendship was sealed with butt prints on a car window.
We both graduated in 2010, and then Mel moved all the way to Houston. Since then we’ve only had Facebook and Daily Mile to keep in touch. Back when we lived in the same city, neither of us were runners, but somehow we kept each other up to date on our separate but eerily similar running journeys, and decided back in January that a great way for us to keep in touch would be to meet up each year for a half marathon. Quality girl time, racing, and a weekend vacation? Um, yeah!
We stayed with a family friend of Mel’s, who just so happened to live within a few blocks of the Expo, the start/finish, AND Beale Street – quite possibly the most ideal location ever. On top of that, he was an amazing host, and showed us all the best places in Memphis.
Mel is currently training for her first marathon, and I’m at the end of a looooong training cycle, so our goals for the race were very relaxed and flexible. As much as I would have loved to PR again, I’ve been on fire for the last few races, and have been feeling pretty overtrained in the past few weeks, so I decided to go with the flow and run according to how I felt in the moment. Mel wanted to stay as fresh as possible for her pending 16 mile run next weekend.
Overall, I have to say that this wasn’t what I would call a “good” race day for me. I was running pretty consistently around 10:00 minute miles with Mel until about mile 5, when I went ahead a bit. Miles 5 – 8 were clocking in around 9:30, with some faster spurts, but it felt much more difficult than it should have, and I just didn’t have the same fire in me that I had in Indy when I PRed. The tank just felt empty – classic overtraining, if you ask me.
Just after mile 8, Mel caught up with me, and we ran 2 smoking miles around 8:30. Those miles really took it out of me, so around mile 10, I set Mel loose, and slowed it down a bit. Someone conveniently forget to mention the rolling hills in the last 5k of the race, and they beat me up properly. For the first time since the marathon in September, I walked in a race. It felt like I walked a lot in miles 10 & 11, but my pace for those miles was still around 10:30, so I must not have walked as much as I thought.
At mile 12, I kicked it into a higher gear, knowing that I was so close. The race finished in AutoZone Park, the baseball stadium, and I could almost see the finish line when the woman in front of me tripped in a pothole and went chin first into the street. I stopped to make sure she was okay, and thankfully she was – she earned some hardcore road rash on her chin, but seemed fine, so I pushed ahead. I remember thinking that if I hit a pothole. I’d be face first, too, after almost 13 miles!
Not even a few hundred yards later, I noticed people crowding around something, or as I realized when I got closer – someone. A man had collapsed within sight of the finish, and there were about 8 people helping him, asking “can you hear me?! can you hear me?!” After hearing about all these marathon deaths in the past few months, the whole situation sent chills up and down my body and a queasy feeling spread all throughout my gut. I sent some good thoughts to the runner and his family and thought about him as I crossed the finish line. Thankfully, he seems to have come through it alright and should be going home soon.
I mentioned earlier that this race wasn’t a “good” race for me, but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. I finished in 2:11:24, for an average pace of almost exactly 10:00 minutes per mile. The fact that 10:00 minute miles is now a “bad” day honestly had me over the moon! Having to climb up though the stands in the stadium, not so cool. I just kept thinking “man, if I’m having this hard of a time after a half, those poor marathoners will have an awful time with these!” I reunited with Mel, who PRed by about 7 minutes and met her goal of running negative splits for the first time in a race!
After the race, Mel and I meandered back to our generous host’s apartment, showered, lounged, and hit Beale Street for an evening of… well, mostly eating. Fried chicken, BBQ, fried pickles, gumbo… all the Memphis must-eats. It was so awesome to see Mel and catch up with her – we haven’t seen each other since she graduated last spring, and had a ton to talk about. This past year has taught me that nothing is more important than the people you love, and I’m so excited for our adventure in running and racing in the years to come. It’s always better to share an amazing journey with an amazing person – 50 half marathons in 50 states, baby!
All in all, it was the perfect weekend – nothing beats running and eating your way through a new city with a friend as awesome as this one!
( Stay tuned – more photos to come of this epic weekend! )
Yes, that’s right.
Carbomb cupcakes. Be warned: they are NOT for the faint of heart.
Ian’s parents tried these at a ball they went to a few months ago (yes, a ball – they’re classy like that ). Mama promised to provide all the fixins and her kitchen if we provided the workforce. I’d say that’s a deal. Can I just say that my (future) mother-in-law is awesome? Seriously. I really lucked out on that front. We’re kinda like besties.
So, Tristan (the brother-in-law) and I attacked them in full force. We used the recipe above (I’m in love with Smitten Kitchen, btw) with some changes. For instance, we doubled the amount of Bailey’s in the icing and less sugar. We doubled the amount of whiskey in the ganache. We did not double the amount of Guinness, but Tristan did say he might make a cups worth of Guinness reduction and use that in the next batch of cupcakes for more of a draught kick.
The secret’s out of the bag – we used Jim Beam instead of real Irish whiskey. It seemed silly, not to mention dangerous to go out and buy a bottle for only a few teaspoons!
While we waited for the cupcakes to bake, we enjoyed watching the snow fall outside. What could be better than enjoying a snow day and the promise of baked goods?
ZOMG. I wish this blog was equipped with smell-o-vision, cuz words cannot describe how delicious these smelled.
Mmm – chocolate Guinness cupcakes, just waiting to be filled with whiskey-infused chocolate ganache!
Done and done!
We planned on piping the ganache in with a pastry bag, but we let it get a little too thick and it busted the bag. So, we used teaspoons instead. No pictures of that – it was a four hand job!
This icing? the. bomb. Every pun intended. It tastes just like Bailey’s, and complemented the rest of the cupcake so well. I added the powedered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, all TWO cups of it! In case you’re keeping track, that’s 32 tablespoons! It took awhile, but it was totally worth it. We ended up using 1-2 cups less sugar, and doubled the Baileys for an extra kick! Apparently, this is the way the pros do it – it thickens up really well and uses less sugar!
Tristan was actually going to use some of these for a photo shoot he’s doing this weekend, so we spent a fair bit of time piping them so that they looked magazine worthy.
Apparently, my piping form includes becoming a turtle. Always classy, this one. But, this shot does show how we got that lovely height on the icing – we piped a little blob in the middle, then went around it to get a nice happy little dome.
Hey, brother! Bonus points for those who can cite that quote.
Skippy, of course, supervised these cupcake shenanigans. He’s very good at it.
Check out that whiskey goodness in the center…
When Tristan finishes the shoot, I’ll share the final product with you guys. He’s very talented, so I’m excited to see the what he comes up with!
As for me, I had one cupcake when they were done, but I uh, sampled a little too fervently during the cupcake production, and felt sick due to sugar overload. 5 hours later, I could barely even think about food, but I whipped together a crazy salad that ended up being just eh thing to bring me out of the sugar doldrums: spring mix, broccoli, zucchini, pineapple salsa, and cottage cheese. Yum!
I declare this a very successful rest day, indeed.