Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mamma's Long Run

There’s nothing like a $35 race registration fee to get me lacing up my running shoes. So having found it difficult to break away from my family and jog for the past several months, I decided to enter a Half Marathon. If a 13.1-mile threat doesn’t get me out of the house, nothing will.

I’ve always loved running. There is just something about being outside all by myself. I don’t even like running with other people - just me, the hollow thump of my feet on a dirt trail, the smell of flowers and juniper, and the chirp of birds. My mind slows down and I just wonder at God’s creation. It’s my “me time” when I decompress and refresh.

However, I recently found myself 4 weeks from race day with zero training miles under my belt. Don’t get me wrong. I work out a lot! It’s my job – teaching exercise classes. I get paid to jump around and lift weights. However, when it comes to exercising on my own time while my family is waiting for me at home, I just can’t seem to pull myself away.

Still, I long for those long, quiet runs outside when it is just me and the fresh air.

I decided tomorrow was the day to start real training. Actually, my husband said, “Tomorrow you should try to run.”

Try? I'll do better than try! I'll run for an hour . . . fast! Still, as I tied on my running shoes I knew that I should be starting dinner. Ugh!

I started down a sidewalk filled with the fragrance of freshly mown grass and laurel flowers. The smell of spring of flowers instantly reminded me of the times I used to sneak out of the house for early morning runs. I ran down quiet streets filled with lilac bushes, lavendar hedges, roses, and laurels. It was heaven.

That is until one morning when I came home to find the door wide open. I was sure I shut it behind me. Come to find out, two-year-old Josephine had escaped from her new big girl bed, wandered out the door, down the stairs of our apartment building, and into the parking lot. Thank God a nice woman found her and returned her to the apartment with the wide open door!

Picturing my curly haired toddler standing in a dark parking lot in her footie pajamas looking for her mommy made my heart throb all over again.

Continuing on my run, I turned onto a little know trail network that weaves around ponds and through trees. It was here that I used to take nature walks with my girls when I was pregnant with my third baby. We were always able to track down ducks and geese, even deer. This day was no different.

A couple of geese jerked their heads around, casting an intimidating stare my way as they ushered their fluffy gosling into some cattails. I smiled. My children would have loved to see this feathered family. I snapped a picture to show them when I got home.

As I rounded another turn, I came across several empty eggshells. “The kids are going to love this!” I declared loudly to the trail and clicked another picture.

Over half way through my run now, my hamstrings were weary and my feet hurt. All I wanted to do was get back to my family and think of ways to get my race registration fee back.

Then all of the sudden, I saw a man bending a fishing pole. Fish on? Sure enough, my new pal David had a rather large rainbow on the line and was just fine with me taking a picture of him to show my husband - the perfect bait to get him and the little guys casting after work. Imagining my three children fishing with their dad carried me through the rest of my run.

It seemed I couldn’t stop thinking about my family, Ryan, Josephine, Georgia, and little Bjorn. And even though I carried my children and husband with me the whole way, that long run was just the “me time” I needed. Exhausted, I returned to my home recharged, relishing the squeals of “Mommy!” as I walked through the door, which made the follow up, “What’s for dinner?” a little bit easier to swallow.

One hour! I did it and still walked normal the next day . . . even up and down the stairs. Bring it on Half Marathon! But first, bring it on dinner!

Sunny-Side-Down Garden Eggs
Eggs are the perfect post run eats since they are packed with muscle re-building protein and small enough not to be a total gut bomb. Pair them with my favorite garden veggies, easy, clean cooking method, and a pretty presentation, these inverted eggs are the perfect stand-in for fatty quiches at a brunch to a reheat breakfast or lunch.

12 large eggs
1 tomato, sliced
½ small zucchini, sliced paper-thin
1 green onion, sliced
Salt and pepper
Spray on canola oil
3 English muffins, halved and toasted, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray large muffin tin with oil. If you don’t have a large muffin tin, you may substitute a standard size muffin tin. Press one slice of tomato into bottom of each cup. If you are using a stander muffin tin, you may opt for a roma tomato so that each slice fits nicely into the cup. Season with salt and pepper. Layer, thinly sliced zucchini on tomato. If the zucchini aren’t thin, they will not cook through and will end up crunchy. Sprinkle in green onions. Crack two eggs into each cup. If using a standard muffin tin, crack only one egg into each cup. Season with more salt and pepper.
2. Place muffin tin into a casserole dish and place in the oven. Carefully pour boiling water into the casserole dish until the water is at least an inch up the side of the muffin tin. Cover with tinfoil to trap the steam and bake for 30 – 40 minutes depending on desired degree of doneness.
3. Remove pan from water bath, turn out onto tinfoil and arrange on plate, tomato side up, sunny egg side down! If desired, serve atop a toasted, buttered English muffin half.

Serves 6

Note: These eggs are easy to customize based on your taste. For Sunny-Side-Down Caprese Eggs, layer tomato and basil and top with mozzarella. Also try sautéed peppers and onions with canadian bacon for Denver Eggs, bacon and very thinly sliced potatoes and parsley for Classic Diner Eggs, or simply add salsa and cooked chorizo in the bottom of the cup for Southwestern Eggs. Get creative and share your ideas – leave a comment!

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