Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cupcakes: gotta love 'em

I'm not a huge cake fan. One bite (usually off someone else's plate) and I'm happy.

Cupcakes are a different matter. They don't tend to be particularly at-hand in my life, but they do have temptation potential. Just think of taking a bite of one, your choppers sinking through the cake part, leaving lickable icing on your front teeth.

Plus the name itself is so inviting: Cupcake. Say it again.

Then think of eating 17 of these pups in five minutes. That's what a New Yorker named Nancy Cummings did. Lest you think she's some jowly gal with permanent chocolate stains on her fingers, she is not. She's a yoga instructor, who called upon discipline, focus -- and a glass of water to dunk 'the cupcakes in --- to win the contest.

Click here to read the Al Dente blog about cupcakes.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Favorite spaghetti

Around 6 on Saturday night, I realized I had no plans for dinner. So I asked my son what sounded good.

"Spaghetti," he said.

"You sure you wouldn't like to pick up Chinese food?" I asked, suddenly feeling a bit lazy or perhaps overwhelmed. "Or a hamburger?"

Then it occurred to me that for the last two nights, he's had pizza and -- I can't even remember. Oh yeah, whatever delights were served after his best friend's orchestra concert; namely, no doubt, cookies and a cupcake or two.

So I offered a staple from my childhood: Favorite Spaghetti.

"Sure," he said.

In my day, FS consisted of chopped (we never called it ground) meat mixed with A&P spaghetti sauce and stirred into (never served atop) A&P spaghetti (not pasta) noodles.

My slight improvise Saturday was adding chopped onion and garlic to the meat, then using Archer Farms (as in Target) brand. I put the pasta -- excuse me, spaghetti -- in individual bowls and ladled the sauce on top. But when I realized the noodles weren't quite done, I stirred the whole mixture together and heated it on the stove.

It was wonderful, and I learned something in the process. Yes, you can use meat with less fat. You can drain the grease; you can chop in an onion. You can serve it atop whole-wheat noodles. But when you end up stirring the whole schlop together, you also realize two things:

1. It's still Favorite Spaghetti. And 2. Try as you might, you can't mess with perfection.

A bit of a P.S. For lunch today, I asked my son if he wanted a sandwich, or leftover spaghetti. He compromised: Two pieces of bread with spaghetti in-between. Yum.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What happens when you reallly don't feel like running?

The "I'm not in the mood to run" grouse is one thing. No excuses on that one, baby. You know the drill: 9 times out of 10, you just get out there and go. And 9.99 times out of 10, you're ever so glad you did.

Then there are the times you just don't feel well. General malaise, perhaps. Or sleep deprivation. Or a cold.

Perhaps you have some form of the dreaded (pardon this shiver-inducing word) crud. The kind you sometimes you forget you have till you start laughing and then can't stop coughing. The kind that wakes you up before dawn with a beyond-scratchy throat.

What to do? Your non-running (and some of your running) friends say, "Rest!"

But you are either so determined or so stubborn you...oh, you knew you'd go. More slowly perhaps, and perhaps not as long. But it's over, and even if you end up conked out for the rest of the day, it's done. And nobody can take that away.

Run run as fast as you can

And whether it's a 6-minute mile or a 15-er, if you're doing your best, you'll feel as if you're flying.

I wrote about that in Tuesday's Dallas Morning News.

Click here to put your pace in perspective.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I want some pancakes

I made my son pancakes for dinner a few weeks ago. He got the hugest charge out of that, for some reason. Maybe because I served them with broccoli and a baked potato.

Yes, I'm kidding -- not about the pancakes, but about the side dishes. Instead, the offerings were Canadian bacon and syrup puddles.

The last time I had pancakes was February 19, 2007, the day after I ran the Austin Marathon. Oh, wait; never mind. That was a waffle.

I need a pancake, though. maybe even two. I venture to say we ALL need more pancakes. Read this link to Mark Remy's Runner's World story and I bet you'll be scouring your cupboards for the Bisquick, and the pantry for some Aunt Jemima.

Mmmmm. We'd salute you, Mark, but we'd probably get syrup in our eyebrows.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Finding the extra oomph

Running coach Chris Phelan casually asked whether I'd ever thought about a duathlon.

"Sure," I said. "I think that sounds fun."

Next thing you know, Chris -- whom I have heard referred to as "running guru" and "rock star" -- sends me a schedule. One that I didn't know whether to laugh or sob when I see it. THIRTY MILES OF BIKING?! (Take deep breaths, Les).

I am, however, happy to do the training runs. Which, this morning, was 13 miles. I wasn't feeling all that great, so thought, "Hm. Maybe I'll divide it into three parts, spread throughout the day." (Yeah, what a weirdo.)

Anyway, I ran about 10 steps and thought, "Oh, Lord. I hope I can make it for three miles."

I did make it three. Then four! Which when the rain started. I considered heading for home and thought, "Nah, maybe I can go six." Which turned into seven...and eight...and I ended up running 11!

I was tickled. Then after my son's track meet and a nap, I ran the other two. Truth to tell, I think they were harder than the first 11.

But the experience once again reminded me how amazing the human body is. How, when we really don't think -- physically or mentally -- we're capable of moving, somehow we're able to do both. We're surprised, yes. And even more, we're grateful.

Friday, April 17, 2009

STILL a non-exercise Friday

OK, maybe I really DID need to take the day off...because the idea of moving outside (except to get the mail from the porch) sounds rather exhausting.

After ruling out most categories of Disease Deadly about what was bringing me down, I decided I am merely suffering from a case of GM; a.k.a. general malaise. Back-to-back naps helped. Perhaps another is in my future.

A non-exercise far

When I'm training for a race, I don't mind taking a day off. But when I'm not, I feel compelled to do...something! Oh yeah, other than clean the house and organize my life.

Today, I look out the window at the cloudy sky, knowing it would be perfect running weather. But...but...but...I can't let myself think about that. Besides, I tell other people to take a day off, and I know in my heart it's the right thing to do.

My body needs to rest, right? Yes, especially because (a confession here) I ignored my good sense last Friday and ran three miles. But they were three verrrrry slowwwwww miles. Really.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Inside the gym (but with a friend!) on a beautiful day

Was today glorious or what?! Yesterday, too ... so where did I go in the afternoon but to the gym. Silly me. But it was worth being indoors because I roped -- excuse me, encouraged -- my friend and best-sport-in-the-world Laura to use a guest pass and stationary cycle with me. And an exercise I find beyond boring suddenly was rather pleasant!

Yet while we were pedaling away at the same level and the same speed, I was sweating like the proverbial piggy. And Laura? She was coolly chitchatting as if we were sitting outside on a breezy spring day.

Here we are after finishing the Big D Texas Half Marathon on April 5.

Not a DMN staff writer, but still a writer

Granted, this first post will probably put you to sleep (even as it does me). But I have the slightest of reasons for writing it; namely, that you'll click on the link and -- well, I'll get to that in a sec.

Anyway (one of the greatest transition words ever, but I digress), I loved my job at The Dallas Morning News. I covered fitness, which included writing a weekly newsletter and a biweekly (as in every other week, not -- horrors! -- twice a week) column ... well, at least when I had something to say.

I, alas, was one of 200 DMNers laid off on Tuesday, April 7. My last as-a-staffer story ran a week later. Click here to read it, thus generating more hits on its page! I'm tickled that it was the No. 2 emailed story that day; I just like the idea of going out with a bang. Or at least a cap-gun shot.