This is the 9-month culmination of an ill-conceived bet made last New Year's Eve. Confidence was at an all time high that night. Every single person involved thought they would win. We've focused largely on trash talking and scheming since then. And now, here we are, more than nine months later with the race upon us; just a few short runs between us and the final 13.1 mile dash.
Do you think I'm ready? Well, it sort of snuck up on me.
Truth is, I got a little behind in my training during July and the first half of August, when I mostly chose drinking vodka lemonades and walking to the park over racking up miles on my running watch. There were weekends away, and a week's vacation, too, to blame for my lack of training; but really, I needed a break. It happens every year: I run my marathon in June, and then I celebrate my accomplishment by not running for a while. So, after my hiatus, I've been on sort of a fast-track training plan for the past six weeks, going from eight to ten then twelve miles on the weekend, and filling the space in between the long runs with some speed workouts and a special torture called lunges.
The sudden spike in weekly mileage has me walking around with a twinge of pain in my left ankle lately, and a state of constant wobbliness in my legs. I'm getting charlie horses in the arches of my feet almost daily, and in my calf muscles while I sleep - sometimes in both calf muscles at the same time. It's a real treat, I must stay, waking up thinking that both of your legs have been blown off below the knee by a cannon. I have found that Adam is really impressed by this occurrence, too, at 5:45 in the morning.
But, I'm getting faster. I can feel my legs getting stronger, and the seconds on my pace watch are slowly, slowly ticking down. At this point in the game, I wish I were faster, but at least I'm in the groove. I logged my last long run on Saturday, just eight miles this time - eight solid miles. I was a little hungover and I don't think I drank any water on Friday, but my legs were rested, and a cool morning sky gave me the rush of energy I needed to push my time down to low eight-minute miles. It was the perfect last run, a confidence booster, before the race.
But still, I'm getting nervous. I had my dream last week where I was getting ready to run, and then realized I was wearing black dress shoes (like, loafers). (This is typical for me: before the marathon in June, I got to enjoy a nightmare where I show up to the starting line wearing jeans.)
The other night, I asked my iPhone (via the voice thing, Siri), for a prediction.
Me (talking into the phone): Who is going to win the half marathon?
Phone: I don't know what that means. If you like, I can search the web for "Call Elizabeth doing this bath mat fun."
Me: ... Who is going to win the half marathon?
Phone: Searching the web for "Call Elizabeth doing this bath mat fun."
Guys, my running partner's name is Elizabeth. What does it mean?
All will be well. I'll likely take fourth place out of four, but I'll probably have the most fun. The important thing is that we there's a finish line - and I'll be crossing it soon.
Scallion Meatballs with Soy-Ginger Glaze
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
I'm not kidding about this: these little guys might be my number one favorite weeknight meal. And, I especially love them when I'm running a lot; the lean protein is just what my tired muscles need at the end of the day. The sauce adds a nice sweetness, but the meatballs themselves are somehow satisfying in a way that ground turkey is usually not - I think the sesame oil is the secret weapon here that adds the depth of flavor, so don't skip it. I have brought these little guys to parties before to huge accolades, too. Seriously - do you get it? These are SO GOOD.
Word of warning: do not, do not use extra lean/99% ground turkey breast. I did that once by accident, and the meatballs were sad, sad, sad. Use ground turkey thigh (93% lean).
And a final note, about the mirin: I hate buying ingredients for a recipe that I don't use for anything else, and I can't say I use mirin a whole lot. But, I found a bottle of this at the grocery store for $7 or so, and it has lasted me through dozens and dozens of these meatballs; definitely worth the purchase.
For the meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey thigh
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients together. Form into meatballs using about 2 tablespoons of the mixture each (you should end up with about 18 meatballs); place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 18 minutes.
For the glaze:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped, or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
Combine all ingredients in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until combined (the sugar will melt into the liquid as it heats up). Bring to a low boil, then turn the heat down to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or so, until sauce thickens a bit.
Serve meatballs with some brown rice and a light drizzle of the glaze, with a stir-fried veggie on the side. Sometimes I'll plop these onto a bowl of rice with diced avocados, some browned onions and sauteed veggies, and a handful of walnuts. Go wild!