Musings On Trying to Be Cool

Friday turned out to be a hurried 5.3 mile run.  I went early for me for this time of year, 6:30, and had hubby take the teenager to school.  I thought they might pass by me on their way, so I tried to run all fast, cool, and with super-heroine form.  I wanted to impress them with my mad running skills, since they have never run with me, or watched me run.   What a surprise when I came panting in the front door to find they had not even left yet!  I made really good time, though.  Spent the rest of the day on a painting job.  Water bill money, electric bill money, Christmas money.  Call it what you like, it’s the extra we always seem to need in our family.  Friday was such a long day that we broke down and had take-out for dinner.  Friday night is homemade pizza night in our house.  Always.   Take-out is a desperate measure, but worthwhile on days this full.  (Will reflect on full-time working mothers later, but bless them- I can’t imagine what that is like.  I am lucky.  And spoiled.  Part-time work is my fortune for now.)

Hurricane Ida drenched us yesterday.  I didn’t set the alarm clock.  I  planned to sleep in, knowing there would be no run, thinking perhaps a little weight lifting might be in order.  Or not.  I lay in bed and hung out with my hubby, drinking coffee and watching those Saturday morning news shows that sum up the country’s affairs  in about one hour, and that include tips on how to keep my kitchen germ free.  I decided to take the day off and just do errands.  We shopped for dinner together, then headed out with the teenager to share our meal with close friends.   We made sushi and drank sake and plum wine, ate some more, and completely relaxed.  I had a good feeling about the long run planned for today.

My friend Sue and I decided to try for more than last week’s 8.  We bumped into each other at the market and made the plan.  She would pick me up at 9.  She knew a good long route.  We would drive over to the start spot, park, and go.  As far as we could.  And make it back to the car.  If it wasn’t raining.

“It’s going to be done raining by 9.  We’re definitely going.”

“Okay, if you say so!”

Sue has a slightly impish grin, the kind that makes me think she doesn’t quite trust my convictions sometimes.  Like about the rain.  Then later, when we started out.

“I hope we can finish.”

“Of course we can finish.  Look how far we ran last week.  And it’s not raining, is it?  No?  Trust me.  We will do it!”

She gave me that sideways grin again, and down the hill we flew.

“We should slow down a bit if we want to run the whole way.”

“Yeah”, I agreed, and still we pretty much kept up our pace.

We plodded up Atlantic Avenue and stripped off jackets and vests, tossing them onto my front porch, sweating freely from the first couple of miles.  We did ease up a bit after Marmion Way’s steep grade, and were able to talk about food, which seems to be where I always lead a conversation.

“I love twice baked potatoes!”  Sue declared as we pressed down the far end of South Street.  “Too bad they’re so bad for you!”

I had never thought of them that way.

“I made them the other night.  What’s bad about them?”

“All that sour cream…”

“What sour cream?  I don’t put that in…”

We turned the corner onto Penzance Road.  The tiny sea-level road was wrecked.  Rocks had been washed up all over the road, and seaweed, wave-pounded and beaten gulls, even a little dead seal had been sacrificed on the rocks.  Sue saw it first, pointed it out, and my heart gave a tug as I looked at it’s round, still body.  I glanced back a couple of times,  wishing I had my camera to record this wreckage.  We were behind a single runner, and there were a couple of other runners together up ahead.  We split apart and passed the single runner.  The tide was high, the surf pounding, the sandy road wet.  Right after we passed the single runner, a wave came rushing up over the lip of the road and swooshed across the entire surface.  We did not stop, but sort of jumped/ran over and around the salty water, yelping and laughing.  I was not surprised that neither of us waited a moment for the wave to recede back before continuing ahead.

We squished out most of the water from our sneakers with long strides as we increased our speed on the flat road surface between the marshes by Lob Lolly Cove.  We spent the next mile or so chasing each other uphill, and went back to taking about potatoes as we headed down  South Street.

I felt a serious burst of energy as we came down Cove Hill, and began to consider the possibility of a half marathon.  Sue has been interested in training for one last summer, but I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to run that far.  Then she hurt her back and we didn’t even consider it again.  Yet today this long run felt fairly easy, and definitely good.  I comfortably pushed it through town and onto Beach Road.

Sue, as it turns out is a finisher.  What I mean by that is, when we hit the last half mile, she pulled ahead a bit and pressed hard.  The last bit was fairly steep uphill, and she just moved!  I felt my legs grow weak as I tried to stay close behind her, and wondered for a minute if I was going to make it.  I took my mind back to the start of the run. Of course I’m going to make it.  I said the rain would stop.  It did.  And I said we would finish.  So we will.

I have to confess I am a tiny bit intimidated by my friend.  She is tall, slender, fit, light on her feet, and altogether extremely nice.  She has impressive manners. She’s very pretty.   And she can really run.  She’s humble, the kind of humble where when I tell her how fast she runs, or how fit she is, she smiles demurely and shrugs it off in a self-depreciating way.  And she worries about making our running goals.  Then she blasts through them, taking me  right along with her.  I am the cocky one on the outside, the one with the pep talk, who, while trying to be cool, does finish too, but not quite a gracefully as I’d like.  I don’t think I should worry about what’s next, but will consider being grateful for where I am right now, and maybe work on a little grace. But I did it.  I ran the long run and finished.

We lean against her car, bend forward to stretch, catching our breath.  I open my water bottle and offer it to Sue, who sips a few swallows and passes it to me.  I down most of it, offer her the rest.  She declines, and we finish our stretches and drive home.  I check to see how far we ran.  8.88 miles.  I sparkle inside.

I think I’ll ask Sue if she wants to train for that half-marathon she tried to talk me into last summer…

Twice Baked Potatoes

4 large or 6 medium baking potatoes, scrubbed well so you can eat the skins

1/2 cup grated smoked cheese (we like Gouda), 3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt, 2 tbsp butter, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp ground black pepper.

1- 14 oz can canellini beans, drained, rinsed, and mashed, 5 oz defrosted cut leaf spinach, 1 12 oz box fresh mushrooms, sautéed in olive oil until browned, 1 scallion, green ends only, minced.

Bake potatoes at 425 degrees F for 1 hour or until tender.   While potatoes are baking, prepare other ingredients and mix together in a bowl.  When potatoes are done, let cool enough to handle.  Split them lengthwise and scoop the insides into a large bowl.  Add 1/2 cup skim milk and mix until fluffy.  You can use an electric mixer or a fork.

Stir in the remaining ingredients.  Stuff the potatoes.  Go ahead and over-stuff them.  There will be lots of filling.  If you can’t use it all up in the skins, feel free to share what’s left with a loved one.  Don’t be greedy and eat it all yourself, because you won’t have any room left to eat your delicious dinner!

Bake potatoes again, this time in a large baking dish, at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until potatoes are piping hot and lightly browned.  Serve for dinner as is- there’s protein, fiber, a green vegetable, magically nutritious mushrooms, calcium, potassium, you get the picture- but if you need something more, a side salad is yummy with this, too.

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