Thursday, August 31, 2006

A surreal "Emeril Live"

I know I said no more posts until next Tuesday, but I just saw something strange on TV.

I was watching “Emeril Live” on The Food Network, and Emeril had an entire show dedicated to (of all things) hot dogs. One of the most famous gourmet chefs of this era was spending an entire hour cooking dishes with hot dogs!

To add to the surreal nature of the show, his in-studio guest was none other than “Chocolate Thunder” himself, former NBA superstar, Darryl Dawkins.

None of this made any sense to me. Hot dogs serve one purpose; throw them on a bun with a bunch of toppings, and you are good to go. But Emeril goes on to make two different soups with hot dogs! Why on earth would you make spaghetti with hot dogs? And what was Darryl Dawkins doing there? It reminded me of the time I saw a Martha Stewart show late one evening and she was baking chocolate chip cookies with former WWE wrestler, The Rock. It was all very weird.

But, I digress. Four hours of work tomorrow, and I am on vacation, baby! Have a great weekend! :)

Jean

Back to back

What is this? Two back to back perfect days? 80 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, and no humidity? Nice!

I ran the usual route today, and I actually scared up a deer! There was a large doe that was sitting up in someone's yard, and she ran like heck when she saw me. That was kind of fun. Otherwise, the run was relatively uneventful. Just a good, solid day on the road.

My mileage total for August was 108.3, so it was another very productive month. Only about 6 weeks to go until the half marathon, so I am starting to get excited! :)

I am heading out for the holiday weekend tomorrow, so no blog updates until next Tuesday. Have a safe and fun Labor Day weekend, everyone! I will talk to you when I return.

Until next time,

Jean

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Food, old restaurants, and "Hamdogs"

Since today is a day off from running, how about we talk food?

First, the recipe for my homemade red chile sauce is now posted on my food blog. Trust me, it is much better than that canned Old El Paso stuff! :)

Second, Dad sent me the menu for the upcoming holiday weekend; deep-fried Lake Superior herring fillets on Friday (providing the fish market has fresh herring), Saturday is a venison and pheasant dinner with the neighbors, and Sunday is prime rib. Can you see why I am so excited to get up there? ;-)

Third, I read an interesting online discussion where people were pondering the fate of some of the regional fast food chains of years gone by. Remember Buger Chef? Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips? Rax Restaurants? Shakey's Pizza? Would you be surprised to hear that, with the exception of Burger Chef, all of the others still exist (albeit on a much smaller scale)? I was shocked!

And finally, anyone up for a "Hamdog?" Check out the first couple paragraphs of this article from CBS News. There is a bar in a suburb of Altanta that makes a hot dog with a beef patty wrapped around it, which is then DEEP FRIED and served on a hoagie roll. No big deal, you say? Additional toppings include chili, cheese, a fried egg, onions (hey, you need something healthy) and french fries!

Huh...no bacon? I guess that would be just way too over-the-top! :)

Anyhow, I wonder how many calories are in that thing, and how many miles I would need to run to work it off? The Hamdog makes the "Luther Burger" (mentioned later in the story and sounding suspiciously like something Homer Simpson created) sound like a healthy alternative. Yikes!

Until next time,

Jean

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Drop dead gorgeous

This could have been the most perfect day of summer. It was absolutely gorgeous outside. 75 degrees, sunny, and mild. Simply outstanding!

I ran the usual route a little easier today than I did yesterday. It is good to have easy days once in awhile, and it was nice to be able to enjoy the day. As I noted yesterday, the leaves are starting to turn ever so lightly, and I even saw my pied-billed grebes floating around on the pond. Just a fantastic day.

I feel like the week is getting away from me. I am going to Mom and Dad’s on Friday afternoon, and I realized tonight that I still need to do laundry, shop a little bit, and think about packing. Work has been busy this week as well, so that has only added to my list of things to do before I go. I just have to keep telling myself it is only 72 hours until I will be sitting on Mom and Dad’s lawn and enjoying a beer on the North Shore! :)

By the way, I will have to share my red chile sauce recipe from the weekend. The stuff rocks! I will post it on my food blog sometime in the near future.

Until next time,

Jean

Monday, August 28, 2006

Fall is here!

Today was a great running day; 67 degrees, overcast, with an occasional stray raindrop. Nice and comfortable. I did my usual route at a pretty solid pace, and I felt really good out there. I am happy to be running in some more favorable temperatures, and dare I say I am looking forward to the fall season.

By the way, I am officially declaring that fall is here! We are starting to see all of the signs; things like the ominous “Welcome back” message on the school’s lighted sign that will be greeting students next week as they return from summer break! Also, if you look closely, you can start to see hints of yellow in the trees. Sure, some people will attribute that to the relatively dry summer. But still, things aren’t going to be getting any greener until next spring!

I had an interesting bird sighting today. A common bird, but an interesting sighting nonetheless. I saw a mother mallard with three babies that were perhaps a little more than half her size. Clearly, these guys were either a late hatch, or a possibly a second hatch. They were pretty well along in their development, so I would anticipate they will be ready to head south come October, but it was so strange to see small ducks at this time of year. Grow quickly, little ones, because as I said, fall is here! :)

Until next time,

Jean

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A lazy day after a busy one

I took today off from running after the long run yesterday. I did so to stagger my days off, as Friday will be a travel day for me. I am heading up to Mom and Dad’s for the Labor Day holiday weekend. I can’t wait!

I had kind of a fun day yesterday. After my run, I headed into Long Lake and had breakfast at The Red Rooster, which is an old haunt that I hadn’t been to in years.

After that, I took a Sunday drive on a Saturday! I continued west and drove into Delano, and then headed north to Buffalo, where I stopped at a roadside stand and bought some sweet corn. It was a gorgeous day to be out and about. Then I got home and made a loaf of my cinnamon-raisin bread!

Today has been kind of lazy by comparison. I am making lamb tacos tonight and have been preparing a homemade red chile sauce for it, so that has been my project. The red chile sauce turned out awesome, so I am greatly looking forward to dinner!

Until next time,

Jean

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Running with bunnies and squirrels

A gorgeous morning to run! It was 60 degrees and overcast. Absolutely ideal.

I did a long run on the trail today. I ran all the way to Hwy. 101 and back for a total of 10 1/2 miles. I felt great this morning, and I am sure the weather had something to do with it. Much easier to keep your body temperature regulated when it is so comfortable outside! I covered that distance in about 90 minutes, which should easily put me on pace for a sub 2-hour half marathon. I am on my way to my goal!

I saw an unbelievable number of young gray squirrels chasing each other and practicing their squirrels moves. They are so cute when they are little! There were tons of bunny rabbits, too. Some were not too terribly alarmed at my presence, either. One rabbit barely moved off the trail when I passed, reluctant to move from his clover patch.

Not much on the agenda today. My cooking is already done because last night I whipped up a batch of my homemade split pea soup with ham and bacon. It was excellent, and ought to be even better today. I will be noshing on that this evening while I watch the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway! :)

Until next time,
Jean

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Misty Mountain Hop

All apologies for the Led Zeppelin-titled post, but I couldn’t think of anything else...I ran in the mist this afternoon, so the title seemed somewhat appropriate!

There were some nasty looking storms that passed north of the metro, but some of the remnants of the system are still hanging around. So it was a humid, drizzly, but cool day to run. I had another spirited scamper around my usual route, again running quickly in case the weather decided to get ugly. And fortunately, I made it home before an isolated shower passed over and the heavens opened up!

A wildlife note; I saw the white squirrel today! There is a strain of beautiful albino gray squirrels in my neighbood that I have occasionally encountered on my runs over the last couple years. I had not seen one in a long time, so that was a treat. They certainly stand out!

Until next time,

Jean

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Old Conference Buffet

I had to attend an off-site training class for work today, and because I would be getting home later, I opted to run in the morning...and, in the rain!

It was absolutely pouring when I left because a storm system had just moved through the cities. The heavy stuff quit shortly after I started, so I was left with drizzle the rest of the time. I had a very good run and felt quick today. I think I run faster in the rain because there is a greater motivation to finish sooner! :)

I just returned from a day long training session at a large hotel and conference center in the north metro. Let me tell you about these industry conferences; they are one big feeding trough. They serve you a breakfast in the morning (bagels, muffins, rolls, pastries, and some token fruit), an all-you-can-eat buffet for lunch, AND and afternoon snack (salty snacks, sweets). Keep in mind this conference was health care related, too. :) It is just crazy. Thankfully, I have learned to change my eating habits over the last few years, so I can pick and choose wisely and not overdo it.

Anyhow, if I may put in a shameless plug, the food at the conference today couldn’t hold a candle to the meal I had at the Gold Nugget in Minnetonka last night. What a treat. I will be sad when this place closes.

Until next time,

Jean

Monday, August 21, 2006

Temperature swings & NASCAR points

Interesting. I experienced a nearly 30 degree temperature swing from my last run.

It was 59 and cool yesterday morning, and it was a mere 87 when I went running this afternoon! Quite a shock to the system. The heat was a factor, and so were my legs (a bit tired after the long run yesterday!), so today’s run was difficult. So, I have earned my day off tomorrow.

Shifting gears to NASCAR (pardon the pun), I had a disastrous week in my fantasy league. As of this writing, I am currently 28th in points in the nation in the NASCAR.com "Streak to the Finish" game. I was up to 14th last week, but unfortunately Jeff Burton decided to blow up his engine for his first "DNF" all year. Crap! I need to get my act together to maintain my place atop the leaderboard! :)

Until next time,

Jean

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Yesterday at the farm

Yesterday I had a very fun day. I went down to St. Peter to visit my aunts, uncles, and my folks. There was some business to attend to, as we were preparing some of my grandparents’ things for auction. But it was also a time to get together as a family.

We hung out at the farm on what was a most gorgeous day and played with Maggie, the golden lab, and the numerous cats. The work horses (Percherons and Belgians) were hanging out in the pasture. We also took a trip to the Norseland Luthern Chrurch cemetary to pay our respects to those family members that came before us.

A sign at the historic Norseland Lutheran Church



That evening, we ate dinner at Whiskey River in St. Peter. If you have never been here, this place offers some very hearty, tasty food, and has an amazing garden that attracts all sorts of bird and wildlife. We saw a mother deer and her three spotted fawns (wow, triplets!), and a family of wild turkeys also walked past the window. Lots of fun, and my pepper crusted salmon fillet with Zinfandel-blackberry sauce was delicious.

We were even treated to a spectacular sunset. What a great day! It was fantastic to see everyone and catch up.

The sunset at the farm



I am back in the cities now, and it was a beautiful morning for a run today. It was only 59 degrees, and I felt almost chilly at the start. I looked bag at my running journal, and the last run I had where the temps were in the 50’s was at the Easy Does It Race on June 10th! So, it has been awhile.

I took advantage of the nice conditions and ran 9 miles on the trail through Minnetonka Mills. Surprisingly, I only met two other runners along my whole route. This is the best running morning we have had in more than two months, and there were only two other people out and about? Come on, Twin Cities runners, you are slacking! :)

Until next time,

Jean

Friday, August 18, 2006

Chili dogs, anyone?

Today was almost a mirror image of yesterday. Mid 70’s, cloudy, and humid. I ran the normal route, running it a bit easier than I did last time. I was dragging a bit at the office today after a tiring week, but I have now perked up after my run!

Tomorrow is a day off from running, and I am kind of excited because I am going to St. Peter to see my family and relatives. My aunt and uncle from California are in town, and Mom and Dad are driving down from the north country, so it will be fun to see everyone. It should be a really nice time.

By the way, if anyone who finds themselves in the city of Lino Lakes this weekend for the annual "Blue Heron Days" summer celebration, you can enter the Chili Dog Mile. It is a one mile race, and for every chili dog you consume during the run, they knock a minute off your time. Ugh! Alton Brown needs to check this out if he ever does a sequel to "Feasting on Asphalt," as this gives new definition to the term "road food!" :)

Until next time,

Jean

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The 700 Club

It was cloudy and 75 today, but it was rather humid. We had a little bit ot rain move through earlier, and as KARE 11’s Belinda Jensen said last night, we have some “monsoonal moisture” heading our way. Sounds ominous!

In spite of the humidity, I had a really strong run today. I did my normal 4 1/2 miler, and I was pretty quick. And my odometer clicked past the 700 mile mark for the year, so I am pleased. I am making good progress towards my half marathon goals.

Fall is definitely upon us, and you could just sense the energy in the air as soccer practice had started at the high school! Just my two cents, of course, but I don’t understand the sport. I watched bits and pieces of the World Cup this summer (just because it looked spectacular in high-definition!), and the part I found the most entertaining was the whole “yellow card/red card” thing. They made such a production out of it. The ref would dramatically display the card, which was immediately followed by incessant whining on behalf of the player. It was great. But, as for the game itself, I didn’t get it. OK, I am rambling now.... :)

Until next time,

Jean

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Gives new meaning to the word "tired"

Day off today, so no run to report.

In running news, however, here is a brief article about Dean Karnazes on The North Face website as he prepares for his "50 marathons in 50 days" campaign. This guy's schedule over the summer has been unbelievable, so it is no wonder he has been getting a little bit tired. I have no idea how he is able to do what he does. Man, I was completely wiped out after running two 10k races in the same week! :)

Until next time,

Jean

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

You are really going to wear that in public?

Another banner day in the metro. It was 83 degrees, sunny, and not a cloud in ths sky. Nice! I did my normal 4 1/2 mile route today. I felt pretty strong and had a really good run.

Fall is definitely getting closer. It was actually in the upper 50’s this morning, and also the local high school football teams started practicing yesterday as well. This is a sure sign that some crisp weather will be upon us soon (which runners will certainly appreciate!).

Speaking of football, last night I watched the Minnesota Vikings first preseason game, and I think I am going to have a hard time cheering for them. I am sorry, but those new Vikings uniforms have to go! I think they are hideous. Why mess with the classics? This never would have happened if Bud Grant was still in charge, and one can only imagine the colorful language Jerry Burns would have used if his team was asked to wear them. Thumbs down! Bring back the old ones! :)

Until next time,

Jean

Monday, August 14, 2006

The short attention span post

Yesterday was a day off from running. Good, because it wasn't a very nice day. Lots of rain, which was needed, but you still couldn’t do much outside.

Today is a different story, however. It is gorgeous outside! A comfortable 81 degrees, virtually no humidity, and a nice breeze. I did 5 miles today at a pretty easy pace. It was a solid run, and I felt great afterwards.

I even got to see the cops out doing their practice drills in the school parking lot again, so I have to believe the Minnetonka Police Department is going to be a well-oiled machine this fall!

Speaking of fall, you are starting to see signs of it; today I noticed some acorns that have started to drop from the large oaks along my running route, much to the delight of the happy gray squirrels. Hey, we are only a couple weeks from September, so it is bound to happen!

In looking at the calendar, I see I have 2 months and 1 day until my half marathon in Des Moines. I am feeling really good about where I am at with my training. I have been able to do weekend long runs in the 8 to 11 mile range without issue, so I hope I am right on track to have a successful race.

Also worth noting is that yesterday’s dinner (and today’s leftovers for lunch), my Chinese BBQ pork stir-fry with Thai basil sauce, turned out very nice. Yum! :)

And just to keep with the scattered, short attention span theme of this post, let's hear it for Kevin Harvick winning the AMD at The Glen NASCAR race yesterday! Kevin is my favorite driver in the NASCAR Nextel Cup series, and he has been doing really well in 2006, and this was his first win at a road course. A great day for Harvick fans!

Until next time,

Jean

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Two things

Two things to mention...

I got a new camera today to replace the one I unceremoniously bounced off of the garage floor last weekend. I picked up an Olympus Stylus 710, which is a tiny little thing, but it is oh-so powerful. I am very excited that I can now share pictures with you once again.

And, tonight's Pizza Margherita was absolutely delicious! Nothing hits the spot on a long run day like a little comfort food. :)

Until next time,

Jean

Minnesota Nice

A lovely morning for a run. It was overcast and 65, so today was a runner’s dream. In fact, I looks back at my running journal, and the last time I got to run in 60 degree temps was exactly 21 days ago! A nice treat.

I did 8 miles on the trail through scenic Minnetonka Mills. It is worth noting that just this week, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune did a story on Minnetonka Mills and its history. I covered it here in my ”Searching For Minnesota” blog (yes, I have three blogs now, which means I must have a blogging problem!)

You have undoubtedly heard the term, ”Minnesota nice.” I have to believe it is true to a certain extent. I always say hello to all the runners and walkers I meet on the trail. While some are reluctant to reciprocate, others are downright chatty.

Take today for instance; I was just past three miles into my run when I was passing another runner who was going the same direction as me. I exchanged pleasantries with him, and he asked my how far I was going. I said “Just 8 miles today.” He started to laugh and said, “You know you are a crazy runner when you say ’just’ 8 miles!”

We ran together and talked a bit more. He was a very nice and gregarious gentleman, and I learned he was crazier than me today. He was going 20 miles and was training for the Whistle Stop Marathon in Ashland, WI!

I reached my turnaround point, we wished each other well, and continued on our ways. So, “Minnesota nice” does exist, in case you were wondering!

I just returned from the farmer’s market where I bought a huge bunch of basil. It filled one of those plastic produce bags, and it cost me $1. Amazing. Now I need to figure out what to do with it! I think I am going to make a traditional pizza Margherita this evening, which is possibly my favorite pizza in the world. I can’t wait!

Until next time,

Jean

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder

Wow, nice day today! 80 degrees, plenty of sun, puffy clouds...what is not to like? A perfect summer day!

Yesterday was a day off, so today I ran. It was the usual route, and the run felt very good. Typically I do not see to many people along my route, but there were a lot of folks out walking, biking, and even running. Clearly, everyone else was out taking advantage of our nice weather.

I got treated to a nice wildlife sighting tonight. I saw an eastern bluebird on a lawn near the pond. They are such pretty birds. And I remember last year seeing a couple in this very same location, so I can only assume this is a preferred nesting ground for these guys. Anyhow, a nice surprise!

Tonight’s dinner was a “breakfast burrito” of sorts, but a rather upscale one; whole-wheat tortilla, scrambled eggs, a couple strips of Nueske’s bacon, guacamole, salsa, and a really creamy Beemster Graskaas cheese from the Netherlands. Would using a Dutch cheese in my burrito make it “fusion cuisine?” :) Simple, but tasty.

Tonight is a little preseason NFL football, and tomorrow will be a longer run.

Until then,

Jean

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Police Academy

On my run tonight (the usual 4 1/2 mile route in warm, humid weather...enough said!), I was approaching the school. At the parking lot entrance, there are these huge orange highway department-style signs that say “POLICE TRAINING IN PROGRESS.”

Sure enough, there were a pair of Minnetonka’s Finest doing a mock drill. They had two squad cars, lights blazing, with a car “pulled over.” The officers were on the loudspeakers, guns drawn, ordering the “suspect” inside the car to get out. They went through all of the proper motions to take this guy into custody.

Thoughts immediately drifted to the old police comedies, such as the ”Police Academy” movies, or the highly underrated and short-lived Zucker brothers' TV show, ”Police Squad!”. I was waiting for one of them to knock over a scaffolding with the squad car or something.

Anyhow, this is not something you see every day. In fact, I have never seen this in my neighborhood, and I found it pretty entertaining. I resisted the urge to shout “Use the taser on him!” for fear that they might use me for a training exercise... :)

In running news, a couple months ago I wrote about Dean Karnazes and the promotion with The North Face where he is going to attempt 50 marathons in 50 days. Apparently, there is another gentleman that is already doing this! His name is Sam Thompson, an ultramarathoner from Mississippi. He is running in all all 50 states plus D.C. in an effort to raise awareness and money for the continued rebuilding of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. And he is almost done!

Scott Dunlap covered this story in his trail running blog, and he noted that Thompson was suddenly signed to The North Face Team while his quest was in progress! It would seem The North Face might be trying to save face since Thompson will be done more than a month before Karnazes starts. Even so, as Dunlap points out, there are no losers here, and everything is being done for a positive causes. It is just fun to have some little conspiracy theories! :)

Until next time,

Jean

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

A nice day, and the next race

A very nice day today. I am starting to enjoy summer again! It was about 85, sunny, with a little breeze. Hard to complain. I ran my normal 4 1/2 miles, and while I went pretty easy, but dare I say I even had a little spring in my step? I felt pretty lively for my first run after the race. The energy level was good, so I think I rested appropriately.

Lots of birds with babies flying around today. We are to the point in the summer where the children are as big as the parents, so it becomes hard to tell them apart! It won’t be long and many of them will begin the journey south.

I've got my next race scheduled. On September 9th, I will be running in the Get Ready to Rock 10k in White Bear Lake, MN. This will be a new one for me. It appears to be a smaller event on a flat course that does one full lap around Bald Eagle Lake (there is also a 20 mile race that does three laps around the lake, but I think I will stop at just one!). This will be the last race before the Des Moines IMT Half Marathon in October.

Until next time,

Jean

Monday, August 7, 2006

Day of rest

Today is a day off after my race. I am still a little tired, and I have learned that it is always good to take breaks after really exerting yourself. So today, I rest!

I don't have much to report today except that I should mention that I broke my digital camera yesterday! When I returned from the race, I was completely careless and dropped it on the cement garage floor at my apartment. Cement wins that battle every time! So, we might be going without photos here for awhile until I can get that replaced.

By the way, Giada's balsamic roasted chicken was wonderful last night! :)

Until next time,

Jean

Sunday, August 6, 2006

RACE REPORT - 2006 Hennepin-Lake Classic 10k

On August 6th, I entered the Hennepin-Lake Classic 10k in Minneapolis. This race is well attended by a lot of Minnesota’s best runners, and has a history of being a fast course. For the 10k, we would be doing almost two full laps around Lake Calhoun.

As per usual, I arrived pretty early to pick up my packet and get the lay of the land. This was my first time running the Hennepin-Lake Classic, and I was kind of excited. While I have run a number of races, I have done very few 10k’s, and most of those were hilly trail races. Because of that, my previous best 10k time was 52:11. I wanted to break 50 minutes today, and since the course is quite flat, and after doing a little carbo-loading last night with some of Mom’s lasagna, I knew I had a good chance of doing it!

However, it was not the greatest weather in which to shoot for a personal record. Thunderstorms rumbled through the Twin Cities early this morning and left a whole bunch of humidity in their wake. My gosh, it was muggy! The air was thick and stagnant, and the dew points were in the low 70’s. A horrible morning for a race. At least it was hazy, so the sun would not be a factor.

A look at downtown Minneapolis on a hazy Sunday



Milling around before the start of a race is always a lot of fun. There is an energy in the air, you get to see a lot of familiar faces from the Minnesota running scene, and there are usually lots of goodies. Today they were handing out free samples of Glaceau Vitamin Water and Smart Water, as well as packages of Clif Shot “Bloks”, which are little electrolyte supplements kind of like Gatorade in gummi bear form (mmmm...black cherry!). There is always music playing, too. And then there was the race director on the loudspeaker reminding everyone to hydrate and to be sure and take water on the course. Yikes! This was going to be a tough one.

The horn sounds, and we are off! The race starts on the southwest side of the lake in the exclusive Linden Hills neighborhood, where you can find some of the more posh homes in all of Minneapolis. I am sure all of the residents appreciated the sights, sounds, and smells of a few hundred sweaty runners early on a Sunday morning! :)

I tried to run easy at the start because I was worried about the humidity. I thought I could realistically shoot for a pace of 7:30 miles, so I paid close attention to my watch.

After the first half mile, I was sweating profusely. I couldn’t believe how muggy it was. But I kept plugging away, taking water at the aid stations, and I kept hitting the checkpoints close to the time I was shooting for. I was happy about this and was hoping I could keep it up. I popped a gel pack at the 3 mile mark and downed it with some water. Continuing on my way, I came across the 5k split at 23:41. So far, so good.

You could tell the humidity was starting to take its toll on the runners during the second half of the race. Running was becoming difficult for everyone. People were really slowing down, and some were even starting to walk. I was still feeling OK and just tried to maintain my pace.

There are few feelings sweeter than rounding the corner to see the finish line a mere 100 yards away! As tough as the last couple of miles were, I still had a little bit of kick left, picking up the pace a bit to cross the finish line in 47:17. A new personal record! The pace for that time is 7:37 per mile, so I was pretty close to my original goal. I am thrilled!

Afterwards, my shirt and shorts were absolutely soaked. While it was not hot (mid 70’s, perhaps), it is amazing how humidity can impact you. It becomes so much harder to breathe, and nothing evaporates, so your clothes cling to you and weigh you down. It was hard for everyone out there today. I even saw some EMT’s treating a female runner who was having some issues with the weather. Thank goodness the sun was not out.

Start of the 5k event



Shortly after the 10k, there is also a 5k event. A number of the better runners were actually doing the “Doubleheader,” meaning they were participating in both races! I hung around to watch and marveled at how these guys can do it. To finish a 10k race and then jump right back in for another 5k is one thing, but to do it as quickly as some of them is another thing altogether. Amazing!

So, that was my Hennepin-Lake Classic experience! Tonight I celebrate with Giada’s balsamic roasted chicken and a bottle of something good! :)

Until next time,

Jean

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Lazy day and a new blog

Kind of a lazy day today. I am just kind of hanging around and relaxing, just trying to save up for the race tomorrow. I went to the farmers' market to buy corn and potatoes, and then to the grocery store to get ingredients for tonight's lasagna (must carbo-load for race!). Later on I will watch a little NASCAR racing before hitting the sack. A pretty exciting day, huh? :)

I started a new blog site for all of my recipe and cooking-related topics. You can now go to Jean's Food and Cooking Blog to see my culinary creations and listen to me ramble on about food. I just thought it might make sense to separate the running stuff from the food stuff (plus it gave me a reason to start another blog!). Don't worry, if I make mention on this site of some good food that I made, I will link to the recipe post over there so nobody will miss out on anything!

I will give you a report on my race tomorrow!

Until next time,

Jean

Friday, August 4, 2006

Running Food: Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwich

You are going to think this is really strange, but please bear with me.

Tonight for dinner, I made (as Emeril might say) a really “kicked up” grilled cheese sandwich. It contained sharp cheddar cheese, bacon, ham, tomato, and a surprise ingredient; I used my cinnamon-raisin bread.

Before you scoff and say, “How disgusting,” let me tell you this actually works very well.

If you take the ham out of it, I had the very same sandwich years ago at the now defunct East Bay Hotel restaurant in Grand Marais, MN. It was absolutely delicious, and I was thinking about that last weekend when baking my cinnamon-raisin bread.

And, I have learned from Food Network star chef Giada de Laurentiis that cinnamon and cured pork products go very well together, as her awesome recipe for Cinnamon-Pancetta Carbonara showed me.

The cinnamon gives warmth, the raisins and the tomatoes give sweetness, and we get a contrasting salty, smoky goodness from the bacon and ham. Add a nice sharp cheddar to the mix and you have a dang good sandwich. I can’t explain it, but the ingredients seem to balance each other out. Trust me, this is good!



All you need is the following:

-A little butter or oil for the pan
-2 slices of cinnamon-raisin bread (or any good bread, in case you don’t trust me!)
-1 slice of smoked ham
-2 slices of good bacon, cooked
-2 slices of tomato
-Grated sharp cheddar cheese

Top the bread with all the ingredients and cook on a griddle or fry pan over medium heat for a couple minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through. It helps to press down on the sandwich while cooking in that it makes more solid contact with the pan, thereby cooking quicker. Slice it in half and enjoy!

Jean

Living in the wild wild west

Allow me to digress for a moment...

These days I rarely deviate from listening to my classic rock on 92 KQRS FM radio. But today on my way home during a commercial break, I flipped to another station that started playing a song I had not heard in probably 10 years. The song was “Wild Wild West” by The Escape Club.

“Wild Wild West” was a catchy song that became popular during the summer of 1988, right before my senior year of high school. This band could have defined the phrase, ”one-hit wonder,” as they faded into oblivion shortly thereafter. Anyhow, I cranked up the stereo because it is always fun to hear something from high school, especially something you haven't heard in ages.

I was singing along (loudly, and doing little dance moves while driving), and I soon realized that I knew every word to this song. I am sure this happens to most of you, too. Why does music have this kind of effect? Has anyone studied this phenomenon? Why is it that I can remember the words to an 18 year-old song that I had not heard in the better part of a decade, but I will occasionally forget to buy an item at the grocery store that was on my shopping list? :)

Anyhow, I just think that is interesting. On to running...

I ran my normal 4 1/2 mile route today. Nothing to strenuous, just a nice solid run. It was 88 degrees, pretty breezy, and quite a bit more humid than yesterday, so that made for tougher running. But it was nothing like last week!

Tomorrow will be a day off from running since I am racing on Sunday. I will probably hit the farmers' market in the morning, do a little grocery shopping, and take it easy to save up my energy for the 10k. The Sunday morning weather forecast looks fairly favorable (depending upon which source you believe!), so we will see.

If I may digress once more, it was good I went running today because I went to Culver's for lunch. I really wish I had my camera with me because my "ButterBurger Deluxe" looked like something out of their commercials. Dare I say "artfully presented" when talking about fast food? It was perfect. And, of course, it goes without saying that it was delicious. $4.99 well spent, for certain!

"Heading for the nineties, living in the wild wild west," ;-)

Jean

Thursday, August 3, 2006

A return to summer

Things appear to be getting back to normal here in Minnesota after our heat wave over the weekend. It was 92 degrees today, but it was extremely dry and breezy with almost no humidity. A little on the warm side for running, but this is what summer is supposed to be like!

I ran 5 miles today because it was such a nice afternoon. It was bright and sunny, and the wildlife appeared to be enjoying the day also. Goldfinches were flitting about, wood ducks were swimming on the pond, and a mama chipping sparrow had three of her youngsters following her around the yard. They were all vying for the grub she had in her beak! A great day to be outside.

In running news, the Portland Press Herald out of Maine ran this great article about trail running and racing. It is written from an outsider's perspective and talks about the differences between road running and trail running, the mindset of a trail runner, and describes some of the things that I enjoy about participating in races like last month's "Tofte Trek." Makes me wish I could have gone running in the woods today! :)

Until next time,

Jean

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Hallelujah!

What a difference a day makes. While it is still humid and gross out, at least it was in the 70’s today, and not 101 like yesterday! Hallelujah! :)

I ran 5 miles this afternoon. It was nice to run in daylight! The skies were overcast, and there was an ever-so-slight drizzle that turned into an ever-so-steady rain by my last mile. I was positively soaked by the time I got home. But I am not going to complain. Even with the rain, the weather was 100 times better than the past several days!

I am still working on my shredded pork tacos, so I will be having those for dinner this evening (still quite yummy, I might add!). And speaking of food, if I might plug the Food Network again, I have been enjoying the new show "Road Tasted" with Jamie and Bobby Dean. They are the sons of the Food Network's resident southern belle and star of "Paula's Home Cooking," Paula Deen.

The premise of the show is that Jamie and Bobby are visiting different cities in America looking for hand crafted foods. They seem like good guys who like to have fun, and the places they have visited produce some pretty incredible foods. It is on Tuesday nights at 9 PM Central if you are bored and searching for something to watch!

Until next time,

Jean

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