Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Disneyland Half Marathon 2009

Oh, how I love this race. It's the happiest race on earth, you know. Oh wait. This year it's a magical celebration from start to finish. My mistake.

We got up at 3:30 am to get over in time to check our bag. Yes, am. No, I don't like getting up early. Yes, I do like running.

It's been 51 days since I've been to Disneyland. That's just plain wrong.

Anyway, we bummed around a little before getting in the corrals. My poor husband did not have proof of time and was in the last corral, and now fully understands the horror. You can read about his run here.

But I ran last year in 2 hours and 26 minutes. I guess this, combined with it being my third year, granted me corral B status. Which, I'll confess, seemed a little generous. But as the race went on, it seemed like I was in the right spot.

I put on my headphones without turning on my iPod because some guy insisted on talking to me and telling me about how it was last year. I was polite but really, not interested. There were 13,500 people there to run, and they were all eerily silent for the National Anthem. Very awesome.

After the anthem and the big fanfare to start the race, my corral started moving up. Normally corrals and waves are one in the same, so I thought it was a little odd when people started running to the start line. Little did I know. My race start, in my head at least, sounded like: "Seriously, running? These people are really eager to start. Hm, we're awfully close to the archway, why are they running so fast OMG WE'RE STARTING!!"

I had a good but unremarkable 5k. This is actually important, because there's another 10 miles to go! Even still, I was just below a 10 minute per mile pace. The route through Disneyland was a little different this year, going through a part of the backlot I've never seen, where they keep horses! Funny how it smelled there, and yet, I've never smelled animals anywhere around the park.

Let me just say, my least favorite part of the course is the overpass over the 5 highway. It's probably the biggest "hill" and I hate it. A lot.

It's been pretty warm lately because of (or the reason behind) the recent fires. Here, the sun should have been up and in full force, but a miraculous marine layer had blown in just before sunrise. Thousands of people are thankful for that. Also around this point, I realized there were water/Powerade stations about every 1.5 miles. Excess, if you ask the girl who runs 6 miles without water. In the summer. But I also decided to walk through the stations to actually get water and because honestly, I was getting a little tired.

At each mile marker I checked the time, and I was still at a 10 minutes per mile pace. So I decided I should run as fast as I could the whole way and beat two hours. You'd think with all that time alone with your thoughts, you'd be able to do simple math.

One of the awesome things about the race is how many volunteers come out to entertain you along the way. The race goes through industrial Anaheim, which is kind of boring, and makes it seem like they just got lazy toward the middle of measuring the course. But there are
cheerleaders and dancers along the way, which really breaks up the monotony.

Around the Pond, down the bike trail, and up to the stadium. This was about mile 9, but I missed the marker. This year, we got to run through Angels Stadium to the cheers of hundreds of little boy and girl scouts. It was a real boost. Being on the field always reminds me of high school marching band, looking up into these stadiums that didn't seem so huge from the stands but were like mountains from the field.

We finished off through California Adventure, but the finish line wasn't at the end of Downtown Disney this year. Going by the hotels is a little less scenic, but we'd seen the finish line setup the day before so I almost didn't need mile marker 13. And for that 0.1 mile, I emptied out the last little bit of energy I had because honestly, I was kind of tired of moving. And around mile 10, my knees and hips started to go on strike. Thanks, knees and hips. I guess all your whining requires new shoes.

Normally volunteers attack you after the finish line with foil sheets and pliers to clip your chip off your shoe. This year, there was some winding around, but no chips to clip (where did these d-tags come from all of a sudden?). It was actually pretty calm. So I got some fruit and went to wait at our prescribed meeting spot.

A whole orange and a banana later, my husband hadn't shown up. Even though he started after me, he's much faster. Although I hadn't seen him pass me (our six minute time difference explained that later). He finally turned up utterly exhausted, and we loitered around a long time
before going home.
Such was my third half marathon. I wouldn't say I was in particularly good shape, but I'm pleased with my time. There's always the hope of breaking a major milestone like the two-hour mark, but with recent events, I'm pleased with beating my last time by almost a minute per
mile. In fact, I'd kind of forgotten a little how much I like to run. So, once we're settled again, the weather and location should be very conducive to running much more.

My only regret is that I wasn't more present in the moment while running. Although, my brain probably needed the break.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pitas and Hummus

It's two for one!

I needed something to take to a picnic besides some ribs. I'd been meaning to make hummus out of the two cans of chickpeas in the cabinet, and to try making bread on the stove. This seemed like as good an opportunity as any! Obviously it's easier to make a simple appetizer from scratch than to spend $5 at the grocery store.

Our grocery store just started carrying pitas in the last year. In fact, they now have a little shelving section to all different kinds of flatbreads. But I'd seen this article on baking without the oven after watching a silly video of a man making English muffins on an iron in a hotel room. Did this actually work?

While the (whole wheat!) pita dough was rising, I got to work making hummus. Hummus is one of those foods that you shouldn't use a recipe to make. I loosely based mine off of this recipe, but after a long and bitter battle with the food processor, I really don't know how much I ended up putting in aside from two cans of chickpeas and 1/3 cup of almonds.

That's right. No tahini. Just almonds on hand. Tahini is just sesame seeds whipped in to a paste, so it stood to reason another nut could stand in. There's a wealth of information on the internet about tahini substitutions. It worked out just fine. Over-filling the food processor did not work out as fine.

There was plenty of extra-light olive oil involved. Hm, I wonder how butter or margarine would fare?

Embarrassingly, it took probably about an hour to get the hummus blended. The dough hadn't really risen much, but it was time to get cooking anyway. I'm starting to wonder, though, if my yeast is too old. Or if it just didn't have enough power to lift up the wheat flour, which seems extra heavy to me. Regardless, I pressed out six inch flat rounds and threw them in a pan in some olive oil cooking spray. They didn't puff up, but they did cook in about a minute in a half on each side as advertised.

Whatever. It came out tasting good. And even though there were leftovers, I'd say they went over with the crowd pretty well.

Very, very simple. And it's pretty Martha to show up at a picnic saying "Oh, I just made some pitas and hummus to bring this afternoon."