Sunday, January 16, 2011

Food, Giveaway, Running

It's cold and icy outside this morning. I was planning to hit the grocery store to get muesli, light bulbs, salad, frozen veggies, more of those super-thin flat hamburger-style buns (that are so popular right now), pickles, sauerkraut, small cans of veggies (for lunch at work), and some Not-Chicken vegan bouillon. Now you know what I mainly eat.

In fact, it occurred to me the other day that I write very little about what I eat. That may be because I have a couple of close family members (my father, in particular, and my brother) who talk more about food than anyone I've ever met. My father, for example, will tell me in minutiae what he had at a dinner party when I call him on the phone. I like food a lot, but I really try to de-emphasize it in my own life. I will admit to having a vegan friend who is an excellent cook. We work together, and I'm always asking her what she brought for lunch, because it is invariably delicious-sounding, and well-made. But other than that, I really don't care more about a 3 Michellin-star meal vs a Chipotle bean burrito.

Food-wise I have very simple pleasures. My favorite meal, bar none, is a greek salad. There is simply nothing I'd rather eat. Next in line would be home-made vegetable or hot and sour soups. The vegetable soup is pretty traditional. Just throw a bunch of veggies and a little rice or pasta into a large pot, season, and serve. It can change with the season. The hot and sour soup is much more interesting. I make it with 2-3 cups water with either vegan beef or vegan chicken bouillon in the base. To that I add 3-4 garlic cloves, 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1-2 teaspoons of Sriracha (rooster) hot sauce, and whatever frozen or fresh veggies I have lying around the house. When the soup comes to a boil, I throw about 20 soba noodles in on top, wait 4-6 minutes and then eat. It is a seriously spicy soup, but it doesn't give me any heartburn or aftershocks.

I like meals that don't take too long to prepare. If it turns into an hour-long production, I might do a recipe once, but then I'm going to have to pass. I do enjoy cooking (or preparing meals at home), but I don't like to 'make a day' out of it. So, most of what I do is centered around dishes that can be knocked out in 10-20 minutes. I'll make a bunch of rice or tabouli, and have them around for a week so that I can add them in with veggies or tofu and make easy, quick meals. I also have veggie burgers and always frozen veggies, fresh fruits, and bags of salad.

One of my favorite snacks or side dishes to a soup or salad is my notdog sandwich or wrap. I picked this up one night in St Louis when a hot dog vendor sold me everything but the dog on a bun. What I do is use either a hot dog bun or (much more frequently) a tortilla, and then add sauerkraut, mustard, relish, jalapeno peppers, and a bit of salt, and then chow down. For most of you, this probably sounds gross, but I'm telling you, it is amazing. It has a heckuva lot of crunch. And you don't realize how much of the hot dog experience is the add-ons until you just punt the dog (or in my case, veggie dog).

OK enough about food. Let's talk running.

Before I forget, I was on Jesse's site, Runtotheborder, earlier and found a link to a Garmin giveaway. If you're interested, you can go here and sign up. You only have a couple of days left.

Now, for goodness sake, let's talk about running. Well, the weather sucked. It was really cold and too snowy for my little piggies to want to hang out in running shoes. I mainly worked out indoors on the Nordic Track. I found it difficult, because I was so banged up from my running buddy Chris's, football game the previous Saturday, that I had to go slowly for extended periods. I also hit my sauna for its infrared heat a couple of extra times.

Finally, Friday rolled around. I popped out for a nice afternoon run. My knees were sore, so I only did about 3.5 miles. But it was so great to be outside that I didn't focus for too long on my aches and pains. Running in ice and snow is a lot like trail running. You pay a lot more attention to where you are stepping. The pace slows. And I find that when I don't worry about time, that somehow the experience becomes much more zen-like.

Yesterday I went out for a longer jaunt. It was a bit colder, but I soon warmed into the run. I found great enjoyment running on the varying surfaces which were, varyingly, covered with snow. The ambiance was a sunny haze. It was something I don't see too often. I found that I was expending almost no effort, and giving no thought to the motions of running as I cruised through the countryside. When I popped back into town, cars even paused to let me make my way through piles of icy snow. Everyone seemed to be vibing on the special nature of the day.


While I am not a fan of over-technologizing my running experiences with things like computer programs, complex running logs, extensive marathon training routines, etc... I did sit down to try to calculate how many miles I put in last year. The figure came to somewhere between 1,300 and 1,500 miles. I'm no Scott Jurek, but I felt pretty good about the final tally. This year, if all goes well, I'll probably have about the same. I've come to a place in my running where I enjoy being. I'm planning to do very few organized races - probably just a few Trail Nerd events. My plan is to do personal marathons and ultra marathons 1-3 times this year, either solo, or with a couple of running buddies. I have spent a lot of time thinking about why I run. And what I have found is that I don't really need goals. I enjoy the experience for itself. It is much more of an internal desire and expression of my self to myself than anything outward. I really feel that running has saved my sanity and my life during a few (psychically) difficult years. It has really become almost a religion to me. I didn't write that last line to blaspheme or offend anyone. I am just trying to be honest about the value I place on the experiential nature of running.

Well, until next week, stay warm, but give snowy running a try.

1 comment:

  1. Al, I really like that last bit about why you run. That's exactly how I feel about playing music and it's nice to see it in words. While I do set small personal goals for myself, musically, the end-all rock star achievement does not factor in.