My relationship with running has been a tried one. It has had its ups and downs — times when I’ve enjoyed running and times of cruelty. Corporal punishment for insufficient athletic success. A ‘healthy’ reminder of physical pains that await should the team not perform to certain standards.
Okay. So perhaps that’s a little extreme. Running, for me, has long been a necessity to perform other activities. It was required to stay fit during the summer between hockey seasons. You have to at least know how to move your feet at a moderately quick pace to catch a fly ball or run some bases. In college I played rugby. Which meant at least jogging for 90 minutes. But there was a point. Running to get the ball. Tackle that guy.
During a brief phase, I loved running. So much that I came *this* close to joining the track team at our high school. (I’m really glad I didn’t, by the way.)
All that to say running is more enjoyable if I have an ulterior motive.
Enter: Vampire 5k.
A running event that’s basically capture the flag? Count me in. If you are not familiar with it, the Vampire 5k is a race where vampires try to ‘transform’ citizens by pulling their flags. Vampires and citizens start at different locations and converge at some point during the course where all chaos ensues.
Our vampire clan, Dr. Acula (*groan*) consisted of Erin, Elissa, Elissa’s husband Mike, and myself. We had a fifth member, but she didn’t make it. Strep. Lame.
The event was at the Chatfield Denver Botanic Gardens — which is more or less a farm and the course ran along the creek and wound its way in and out of trees which provided a fun terrain. I don’t think any of us started out with the idea we were going to try very hard to transform citizens, but it was hard not to get caught up in the moment once we converged. With the exception of some very angry villagers who were distraught after having their flags taken, it was really fun. Hey. No one ever said the living dead would play fair. It’s not like you were actually going to finish the race with both flags and un-transformed. We commented afterwards how creepy it felt to check out people’s waist section so intently while running.
In total our clan collected 8 flags — not too bad. Somebody supposedly collected 44 by himself. Yeah right. Cheater.
We started the race just about at sunset. Which meant it was pretty dark when we finished. When we emerged from the trees the final time, the finish line was alight — an oasis in the darkness.
I finished feeling good. I’ve been having knee and hip pain the last few weeks and wasn’t sure I’d make it very far. My hip was hurting during the middle third but a high-flowing creek caused us to walk a short bit. I think that helped. Cue the pity party.
As an expert in all things running (ha) I would add a tip to Elissa’s post for running noobs. If you are having pains, do something about it. Don’t think it will go away and don’t let it get the best of you. In my case, I’m pretty sure it’s an IT band/gluteus minimus/vastus lateralus combination problem. And it’s not going away without intervention.
Usually, I am Erin’s race day photographer/cheerleader/supporter. And one of my favorite parts is the after race beverages. As a semi-amateur food blogger, I should mention the drink situation. I won’t mention the company by name and at least Vampire 5k was trying something new — branching out from beer. I’ve had some quality canned cocktails — these were not. Granted, that was in Australia and perhaps the American market for flavored liquor in a can just isn’t there yet. Maybe one day. And why not?
— Cue the awkward segue into a shameless plug for my own blog —
If you feel inclined, check out the Architect’s Kitchen. I try to post somewhat regularly my thoughts on food and design.
Erin and Elissa will be running the Colorado Half-Marathon this weekend. So, I thought I would share a recipe for breakfast I’ll be making Sunday morning. Pre-race style.
Bananas Foster Oatmeal
Yield: 4 servings || Prep-time: 5 minutes || Cook-time: 10-20 minutes
2 cups whole milk
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
2 bananas, medium, sliced
1/2 cup walnuts
In a sauce pot bring the two cups of milk to a boil, watch carefully. Reduce the heat to medium and add in the quarter teaspoon of kosher salt and the oats. Stir occasionally for 10 to 15 minutes or until the oatmeal reaches the consistency you prefer. Cover with a lid and remove off of the burner and set aside.
Meanwhile in a 10 inch skillet toast a half cup of walnuts that have been broken by hand into smaller pieces. Toast for a few minutes, tossing them to keep them from burning. Remove the walnuts to a small plate once they are fragrant.
In the same pan over medium heat, melt two tablespoons of unsalted butter, two tablespoons of dark brown sugar and a pinch of kosher salt. Stir until the sugar has melted and starts to bubble. Add in the sliced bananas and let them sit in the bubbling brown sugar and butter for a minute or two. Flip and repeat until the sugar mixture has thickened. Add the walnuts back in and toss.
Add a few of the bananas among 4 small bowls, top with oatmeal and more of the bananas.