Sunday, February 08, 2009

Martinis at Mile 8

My Marathon Story (Well, Half of One)

On February 1st, I finally ran the half-marathon I've been talking about for 2 years. The Mardi Gras Marathon has a really nice course that starts at the Superdome, continues through the French Quarter, proceeds Uptown to make a loop around Audobon Park, and back to the Superdome. (That's the half. The full marathon continues to City Park, around it, and back.)

Running it was a remarkable experience. The race begins just after sunrise, and the soft orange glow between the buildings on Bourbon and Royal, the zen of bobbing down the street with thousands, and the generous, supportive people watching made me tear up. Like my friend Kate who also constantly battles public tears, I tried to choke them back and cleared my throat repeatedly so no one knew I was beginning to cry. I mean, I didn't want them to think that I was breaking down in the first 2 miles.

A rocking playlist and strategic water and Gatorade stations really made the first half of the race a breeze--I was at mile marker 4 before I realized it--but miles 7-13 were a little tougher. My feet were feeling the pounding of miles on pavement, and I was getting very, very hungry. Almost immediately after this occurred to me, I saw a sign:

Energy Water

"Olives! Martinis have olives," was about the only thought I could manage, but my New Orleanian instincts took over and led my feet to the Dracula-costumed man who was double fisting cocktails. (Now, I was on the not-so-serious end of runners, but still not many people were stopping for booze. But dadgumit, if I'm running 13.1 miles, I deserve vodka!) I stood in front of the nice man and said something like, "I'd love a martini," to which he replied, "Vodka or gin?" I was so startled by the options, I had to kick my brain into high gear to say "Vodka, please." He handed me one of the plastic martini glasses with a smile, and I walked away sipping my beverage and marveling at the sophistication of my city. Even at a quick stop on a marathon course, I still got to order a drink.

The rest of the race went slower, and I walked a bit on the way back. Fortunately, this was more about my feet and knees hurting than being in cardiovascular distress. When I was almost to the finish line, Dale (who had finished about an hour earlier) called out "You did it, you did it!" with an excited smile. I rounded the corner, crossed the official finish, collected my medal, returned my timing chip (which recorded my time at 2 hours 47 minutes), ate a bag of Chee-Wees and headed home. In the car, my knees voiced their dissatisfaction, but a shower and a short nap made me feel all better and ready for my party, which was great. Gavin fried a turkey (beyond delicious), I got so many good presents, and there was so much cheesy Super Bowl food and dessert that I almost didn't know what to do. Thanks to my friends, it was a lovely evening followed by a great night's sleep full of dreams about NOT running for the next few weeks.

The End

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dale's Birthday Present

For Dale's birthday (yes, back in October), I lovingly made a slideshow of old photos with the hopes of embarrassing him greatly as my contribution to the thorough roasting that several friends gave him.

Judy and Jerry, Dale's parents, secretly provided the pictures with enough info to make a lovely (and very effective) show. Though some of the captions didn't come through at his party, we had a lot of laughs at Dale's expense, but he enjoyed them too. So to share these pictures with Judy, Jerry, and others who would like to see them, I'm finally posting everything here.

Oh, the pictures are organized in memory of Dale's hair...

"Oh Behave! A Tribute to the Early Years of Dale's Hair"

"A long, long, LONG time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (called Virginia)... Dale found his first hair hero..."

"Excited about his first den meeting, Dale is disappointed at the lack of chicks in Boy Scouts."

"Macaulay Culkin?"

"The Patriotic Big Hair Phase" Interestingly, he seems most excited about some sort of hair product...

After obtaining appropriate styling tools, Dale begins the quest of which he had been dreaming: Getting Dates. Though he seems to have started with a more traditional approach, Dale soon realizes that he'll have to dress more creatively to get girls.
"May I Have this Dance?"

Wow! That's a lot of creativity!

The Footloose Period: After the smashing gray tux and multi-scarf ensemble went out of style, Dale decided that "bass player" should be his new look. He tapped several of his closest friends to form a band--The Diff'rents--and to experiment with varying degrees of undress. Note: With close study, one can see the genesis of many of Dale's Mardi Gras costumes.

Dale's hair goes to the prom...

Skipping a few hundred years or so...

Rest In Peace, Hair. You are gone, but not forgotten...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Crazy Candy

So last night, for a variety of reasons I probably shouldn't go into, I needed something chocolate. [Sidebar - I'm refusing to believe that this new sweet tooth is proof that I'm getting more and more like my mother. I'm freaked out at my fairly recent cravings for sweets, and am somewhat ashamed to admit I could probably replace a meal per day with just dessert. I'm blaming this on random lady hormones, because no matter how much I love my mom, I don't want to turn into her. Not yet.] {Sidebar #2 - When my sister and I were little, we would often tell my mother that we wanted to be just like her when we grew up (we've always adored her), except we didn't want to smoke cigarettes. Our passive-aggressiveness as pre-adolescents was impressive in retrospect, and perhaps even more remarkable is my mother's refusal to stop smoking. I mean, wouldn't two precious little girls with matching long permed hair tied back with giant bows who say things like that convince you to stop smoking? Heart of steel, that woman.} Remembering the caramel and chocolate swirl chips I picked up a few weeks ago at a wonderful discount grocery store, I decided to whip up some chocolate chip cookies. But the butter wasn't soft and I had only self-rising flour. Then I thought brownies might be a viable option since Brandon always made brownies by melting the butter in the brownie baking dish; therefore, I would not have to let the butter soften. But the brownie recipes I found were too complicated (unlike Brandon's mom's never-fail recipe that I did not have).

As my brain raced from ingredient to ingredient in the pantry trying to tie in refrigerator items, I decided I had the stuff to make some sort of candy similar to what my friends call "Those Cornflake Peanut Butter Things." But not having enough peanut butter or cornflakes, I took the opportunity to create. 'Cause that's what cooking really is, right?

While all this was going on in my head, Dale was putting away dishes in the kitchen and offering affirmative yummy noises when I suggested cookies or brownies. I didn't verbalize my candy-making thoughts, but I did notice that he left the room and went to play WoW (his default activity) when I clanged a large non-stick pot on the stove and poured the remainder of a bottle of corn syrup into it with the focused enthusiasm of Igor with specific orders. In went marshmallows, some cocoa powder, about half a bag of the caramel chocolate swirl chips, and about half a bag of corn chex cereal. Having measured none of these ingredients, I commented, "I kind of feel like a crazy person right now," referring to the seemingly random sugary-stuff-in-a-pot that I was compiling. As I stirred and threw in more marshmallows to contrast with the shiny chocolateness of what used to be healthy cereal, Dale replied, "I wasn't going to say anything..." He understands me. Isn't that great.

I had a good giggle at myself and at Dale's reaction then spooned the "crazy candy" onto some wax paper. A few minutes of drying time produced delicious sticky choco-liciousness that tasted mostly like cocoa krispies (unintentionally so, but one of my favorites). All in all, the crazy candy worked out well, and Dale joined in the tasting fun, while playing WoW of course. Since I'm still planning on running the half-marathon this Sunday, I'm pretending that the candy is good "fuel." That works, right?