Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Seattle Marathon (in spirit only)

Today is the Seattle Marathon, and I am so happy for all the runners that it is a bright, beautiful sunny day. Cold, certainly—at least it was early in the morning—but that's not necessarily a bad thing for running. Although it does take longer to warm up and get a good pace going, if that is what you're after.

I didn't run in the Seattle Marathon—obviously—but I do know several people who were doing the half marathon. And I was thinking of them this morning when I went out running. In fact, I purposely took a long run this morning as an homage to the runners in the marathon and half marathon.

I spent the night at my parents' last night, so I could take another late night trip to the beach to see the very low tide. This wasn't a spontaneous decision—I came armed with pajamas and a bag of clothes, including several choices of running wear (depending on the weather this morning) and a carefully planned route to take me on a ten mile run ending up at Starbuck's.

I woke up at about a quarter of eight, a little late to achieve my planned departure time of 8:00. (Well, it would not be too late if I just jumped out of bed and got dressed. Then it would be just the right time. But I did not do that. I turned on the Food Network and watched the end of Everyday Italian. Then I started watching Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello. I got up at the beginning of Tyler's Ultimate—though I like that show too—and by the time I was actually dressed and out the door it was 8:51. Not quite an hour later than planned. Pretty much par for the course on a weekend.)

Even at almost 9 a.m., it was cold out—32.5 degrees according to the home weather station. But I was warm enough with a high necked Hind top (like this, even though it's a different manufacturer) and a jacket, plus gloves and my new black Nike cap, and sunglasses for the glare. Actually, with the head to toe black and sunglasses, I looked a little like a member of the SWAT team or Secret Service.

The first part of any run is the hardest, before I'm warmed up or in the zone at all, and that was the four-mile stretch along Marine View Drive from Potlatch into town. By the time I got to McDonald's for my (first) bathroom break, I was feeling pretty good, though (after the bathroom break).

Running in town is always nice, because the division of blocks makes distances seem shorter to me. There is the nuisance of stoplights, but they are a double-edged sword—on the one hand they do slow you down, but on the other, they offer a little rest period. (I don't know that double-edged sword is the right metaphor. What I mean is, they are both good and bad.)

I had a little longer stop at the light near the railroad crossing on 4th, when the lights started flashing for the Amtrak train to pass through. While I stood there, I had the opportunity to view the amazingly risky way Marysville drivers deal with the railroad crossing, as I watched several cars continue to cross the tracks as the lights flashed and bells clanged, and one car even crossed while the guardrails were dropping!

Once the train had safely passed and I was allowed to cross the railroad tracks, I proceeded east on 4th Street to 47th, where I turned left and then veered right off of 47th onto Armar Road towards the church (that is, Bethlehem Lutheran Church). Then left on Grove, and right on 47th (again) past the Assembly of God church. I stayed on 47th until I got to 80th, then headed back out to State Street. From there I just kept going north, past Fred Meyer's toward the high school, until I got to the roundabout by the fire station. I took a loop around the roundabout then headed back into town.

Now if that sounds like a piece of cake, it wasn't quite. For one thing, I was stressing a lot about the time. I had started out at least half an hour later than I had said I was going to, and I knew (thanks to my cell phone) that my mother was already at Haggens by the time I passed the church, and then done with her grocery shopping by the time I was passing Fred Meyer's. And from there it was a good mile until my turnaround.

Additionally, at some point in there I hit the seven mile slump, which is kind of a minor version of hitting the wall. Plus I had to go to the bathroom, and was debating whether to make a stop or wait till I got back to Starbuck's.

But by the time I got to the roundabout I had passed out of the seven mile slump (after all, I had to put on a good show as I ran by the firefighters at the station). (I did consider asking to use the bathroom there, and I'm sure they would have let me—and probably taken my blood pressure too—but I wasn't in an emergency state, so decided against it.)

The good thing was, once I got back to State Street I came to a McDonald's on my side of the street, and a good potty stop is always cheering (and energizing). And at that point I was literally only blocks from 88th Street, and the turn into Haggens. So I ran the last few blocks like I was finishing a 15K (plus an extra .7 mile, but who's counting?) (and slower).

Second only to the relief of a much needed restroom stop is the joy at reaching my final destination, especially when that is Starbuck's and a quad grande nonfat latte with 4 1/2 pumps of sugarfree caramel (extra hot, in a double cup) (because the double cup holds the heat longer than a single cup in a sleeve).

When we got back to my parents' house I made us all a hearty midday breakfast of Scottish Oat Pancakes. But this time I tweaked the recipe by adding wheat bran, which pumped up the fiber and made them even heartier than before. I like them topped with thawed blueberries and raspberries (sweetened with a little Splenda), but I am sure they would also be extremely delicious with maple syrup.

Each pancake has about 3 grams of fiber with the wheat bran, and 2 grams of fiber if you omit the wheat bran.

Here is the recipe (now retitled Brancakes).

Oat Brancakes
1¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour (e.g. Bob’s Red Mill)
¾ cup Scottish oatmeal (e.g. Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup wheat bran (optional)
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Baking Soda
About 1½ cups Buttermilk (you will need to add extra buttermilk or milk if you use the bran)
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup butter, melted

Mix flour, oatmeal, wheat bran, baking powder, salt, and soda. Stir in buttermilk, eggs and butter until smooth. (Stir in more buttermilk if the batter is too thick.) Makes about 18 medium-sized pancakes (with the bran, about 15 without).

(You notice that I make no representations about how many calories there are in each pancake/brancake, nor how many you should eat per serving. That is totally up to you. After all, the more you eat, the more fiber you get, and that's all good, right? Also, fiber is filling, so the more you eat, the less likely you are going to want to eat again very soon... or ever....)

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