Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Building a Base

“Take it easy. Just run. You’re building a base.”

“Yeah, but I want it to be this like, AMAZING run.”

“You need a base. You’re coming back from an injury. Stop trying to be amazing and just run. Build up to amazing.”

Sometimes I subconsciously set up mental roadblocks with both my running and cooking where I want so badly to be amazing that I feel myself failing before I take the first step. I have to remind myself, and listen to advice: first build the base. 

Recently one of my girlfriends posted a recipe for Fennel-Tomato soup. She told me how delicious it was, so I wanted to try to make it. I pulled it up and went cross-eyed. The recipe was in metric. Five hundred hours later, I had converted the recipe into ye olde system, and made a list of ingredients.  Fennel, tomatoes, garlic, off to the store I went. Turns out, the only grocery store in my town doesn’t carry fennel. And since the metric conversion had taken so long, dinnertime was looming.

“What the fuuuuuuuuuuck this store has no fennel how am I going to make fennel soup without fennel and it was going to be so amazing Carol said it’s awesome and now what the fuck am I going to do?”

I was starting to annoy myself and my friend and all the other townspeople shopping in the produce section.

“Well, calm down. What’s the base?”

“The base?”

“Like, what is the base of the soup? Maybe it doesn’t have to be the most amazing fennel soup on earth. You could use the base to make something that’s also really good.”  

“Well. I guess it’s really a tomato soup base.”

Running and cooking and building a base. Getting used to it and training my body and brain to get going, keep going, do it without thinking too much and just make it happen, all the while building strength and knowledge and experience.

So, I made tomato soup. I quickly looked up a recipe promised by Martha Stewart to be delicious and easy, combined it with the Fennel-Tomato soup base, and jacked up the garlic content to number 11. It consists of simple ingredients: tomatoes, stock and garlic. Together they make a beautiful base. And sometimes building a base is the most amazing thing. 

Tomato-Garlic Soup

         6 T. butter
         2 medium onions, chopped
         12 cloves garlic, chopped
         24 oz. crushed tomatoes
         3 C. homemade chicken stock
         2 t. sea salt
         1/4 t. black pepper

Cook the onions in butter for 15 minutes. Add the garlic for 3 more minutes. Add the rest and cook for 20 minutes. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Heat back up on the stove and add additional stock as necessary. 

Serve it with grilled cheese on rye after a winter run. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Gone to the Dogs

Max and I run down the trail together. He lopes along, acting as both protector and partner beside me. This is an easy pace for a dog who was bred to be a lion hunter, and he enjoys the smells and sounds of the forest as much as, or more so, than I do. We move across rocks and cross a small stream, pausing for Max to take a quick drink. On we go, thrilled to be spending another day together in the woods. 

The paragraph above is a dream scenario. I've imagined it over and over, but the power of positive thinking only goes so far. 

"Max ate the door again."

"I think he needs more exercise."

I've always wanted a dog who would run beside me, but the dogs who have found their way into our family haven't quite made it into the running club. Max is definitely our best bet so far. He's a runner for sure. He has invented the running category "Distance Sprinter." That dog is ridic fast. 

Before Max, there was Fred. While our 3.5 lb. Freddie girl made it to the semi-finals of the World's Fastest Chihuahua competition, she wasn't really cut out to be a jog dog. She was more of a wild turkey hunter. She'd run in front of us down the trail, flushing out birds and deer and eventually make her way back, wagging her little tail and showing us her snaggle tooth smile, as if to say, "I defy all Chihuahua stereotypes." But she had her own agenda, and we were happy to let her see it through. She'd accompany us for 7 miles at a time, but she liked to do her own thing and then come racing back once in awhile for a treat or a sip of water out of the thimble sized top of a water bottle. 

There's another chihuahua in our lives now. Prince Vince is bigger than Fred. Much bigger. He's a disturbingly large Chihuahua. His papers and the Vet say he's pure bred, but I swear there's some Corgi in there. Or Basset Hound. Something large. Vince the Meatball would love to run with me, I'm sure of it. He runs around our back yard like a champ, barking at mystery foes, having a grand old time. We've been leash training him and he's doing really well considering he's blind. He can go for most of 2 miles at a pretty good clip and he's working on moving in a forward motion. He's also become my cross training partner - riding in a backpack with me - a 12 lb. weight to help me build strength.  

And we're back to Max the Lion Hunter. Max has a lot of energy. When harnessed with a regular leash, he will pull me off my feet.  He's a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix and he is the world's biggest love and scoundrel put together. As with all dogs, he behaves himself when he's tired. So we walk and we run. He's teaching me to run faster. I take him out on a special halty-harness thing that practically paralyzes him. This is how I get him down to close to my speed. Then we walk. After about 30 minutes, he's finally tired enough for me to keep up. It's all he can do to hold back, even once he's exhausted. We do sprints. Much more and I'd likely roll and ankle or just expire. We run quick sprints and for a few moments we're in sync. He holds back and I keep up. And I picture the day we'll be able to run though the forest together for more than minutes at a time. 

All of our dogs eat raw food that we make for them. The recipe is easy and the key is using fresh, organic meats and vegetables. They will love you for it! 


Raw ground chicken (you can grind in a high quality food processor)
Baked wild caught Alaskan salmon (or use salmon oil)
Vegetables (sweet potato, carrots, romaine, broccoli)
Walnuts or Almonds
Powdered Vitamin-C
Alfalfa Powder
Kelp Powder
Cod Liver Oil


2 quarts chicken and salmon (3/4 chicken, 1/4 salmon or just use chicken and sub in 3/8 cup salmon oil)
2 cups vegetables (that have been chopped in the food processor)
2 cups blueberries
1.5 cups nuts
1/8 cup kelp powder
1/8 cup alfalfa powder
2 tablespoons cod liver oil
1/4 cup vitamin C

Enjoy. Well, your dogs can enjoy. You could too - but you'd want to cook the chicken first.