From Snow to Run to Fun

Last Thursday I managed to get out of Boston while Pax was moving in, only to encounter more bad weather in Peoria on Friday, while trying to drive to Memphis. Lisa and I were headed there to run a 10k on Saturday and meet up with my friends, Cathi and Jo, who were also running. After more than seven hours in the car, we were so relieved to see the city skyline as we neared Memphis. So, of course, right after we checked in, we joined Cathi and Jo at The Tap Room, where they were already three drinks in.

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That night we listened to some great music, ate some horrible food, and got in in time to get plenty of rest for the race the next morning … until the fire alarm woke us up at 12:30. As we slogged down the steps, we were informed that there was a candle fire on the third floor. Ah yes, it was Valentine’s Day, so some dude was likely trying to impress his lady by candle-light. That douche caused me some serious shut-eye!

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We all got up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ready to conquer the road (that is Jo Breaux, ready to go!), although it was much cooler than any of us anticipated—only 33 degrees in Memphis!! Luckily, Lisa and I are used to the cold, so it didn’t faze us too much. The girls from Louisiana, on the other hand, weren’t used to it, but adapted just fine.

The race route went through some really beautiful areas of Memphis, that I wouldn’t otherwise have seen–running through a brownstone residential area to the Mississippi river, through some industrial areas. But I sure was glad when I caught sight of the FedEx Forum where the finish line was located. I got a little too excited and sped up, only to discover it was a little further along than I thought. But, there was a little girl, probably about 8 years old, kicking my ass, so I kept going, trying to keep her in my sight. I’m not below competing with a kid, even if she doesn’t know it.

After the race, Lisa and I reunited with Cathi and Jo to have a celebratory beer, then head back to our room to shower and head out for the day. We had a great time in Memphis hitting up the local favorites such as Local, the Blind Bear Speakeasy, Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, and of course the many jazz joints on Beale Street.

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Fu%#ing Nor’easter!

I’m sitting in the back seat clenching my fists and everything else, on my way to Logan International Airport. Traffic is moving at a snails pace–when we’re actually moving. but hey, my flight is scheduled to go (if I get there on time). Luckily, I’m in good hands. The driver, Ronnie, knows what he’s doing.

My luck is suddenly changing … We’re up to 25 mph! And I’m not carsick. So there.

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Halfpint hiccup

Call me unpatriotic, but I don’t follow the Olympics. Never really have, except when there’s controversy. Like in 1994, when Nancy Kerrigan got her knee whacked by Tonya Harding’s bodyguard. That sound bite, “Why me?” resonated for months to come, and who couldn’t forget when Harding pointed at the laces on her skates, crying and pleading with the judges. Well, we couldn’t forget it because both instances were parodied to death on late night TV.

Fast forward to Sochi. So much has been made of the security (or perceived lack of), the poor accommodations (have you seen the photos of all the half-built hotels and bathrooms with toilets lined up in a row with no privacy?), database hackers, and streets with no manhole covers to name a few things. Wait, how did the Olympics end up in Russia in the first place? Oh yeah, corrupt decision makers.

Anyway, forget all that. One thing/person I have been following—only because it’s been on the news every night for the past two weeks—is snowboarder Shaun White. He’s been widely criticized by his snowboarding peers for pulling out of the slope style event. They say he doesn’t love the sport as much as they do, he’s not a team player … blah, blah, blah. Really? He basically put the event on the map. They’re just jealous of his success.

Unfortunately, for White, he came up short today and didn’t win a medal in the halfpipe. Maybe the conditions weren’t ideal (which has been widely reported), or maybe he had a bad day, but it still doesn’t erase the legacy he’s already earned. I don’t blame him for pulling out of the other event and risking injury. He earned his ticket to compete, just like the rest of them.

My Secret Ingredient

Everyone has their own take on Chili. No two chilis are ever the same. It’s a universal, American dish that many make during the cold months—or as we like to call it these days, the inescapable polar vortex of hell. You can make it spicy or mild; with or without meat, and you can pretty much throw in the kitchen sink if your heart and palate desires. I have a few chili recipes that I rotate—traditional chili with ground round, white chicken chili, and a new turkey chili recipe that’s similar to Panera’s.

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I changed up my traditional chili the other day, and incorporated as many veggies as possible to give it more texture and flavor. Carrots, celery, onion, green pepper, chili beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, black beans, in addition to canned tomatoes and tomato paste. Oh, and water, otherwise you’ll just have a mass of sludge.

My secret ingredient is probably something you already have in your pantry and you would never consider putting in chili, but trust me, it makes a world of difference, and prevents the chili from being too acidic (from the tomatoes). Here it is: Beef gravy. Yep. Learned that from an old farmer—my dad.

You’re welcome.

Running Like A Hamster

Lisa and I are on a new running kick. We’ve challenged ourselves to run 20 miles a week every week, for the rest of the year. It wouldn’t be so bad if we could run outside, but because it’s been like 0 for the past three weeks, we’ve had to run it out on a treadmill. and. it. sucks.

Lisa and I after Das Bier Run. We were both surprised we got medals in our age groups.

Sundays are my long days, so this morning I knocked out seven miles. on. a. treadmill. I think it’s more painful mentally than physically to accomplish this. I feel like a hamster on a hamster wheel. Running, sweating, and going no where. Lisa is even more insane than I am. She ran eight miles.

Even though I already feel exhausted, there’s a good reason we’re doing all this ridiculous training inside: Next Saturday we’re running a 10k race in Memphis, and we’re meeting my pal Cathi and her sister Jo. They’re from Lafayette, Louisiana, so I may come back to Peoria with a bit of a drawl.

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Cathi never leaves home without her hair rollers in case of a major hair disaster.

Snow Day No. 4

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2.3.2014

This is how I feel today. Every phone in the house rang at 5:00 a.m. notifying us that District 150 is closed. Snow day number 4 for the kids

Snow days for me – 0

Days my kids don’t understand I actually work from home and can’t be disturbed – 0

Days in a row my kids don’t fight with each other – 0