Monday, December 26, 2011

I Like Bike

You're never too old to get a bike for Christmas.

Welcome the newest member of the I Like Hike family!

I can't wait to cruise around the District on this bad-to-the-bone lady,
aptly named: The Adventurer

Addy for short.

She's flexible too.

Watch out world.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Joy of Cooking

In continuing to capture the holiday spirit this week, I made Peppermint Sugar Cookies for my coworkers last night!  Full disclosure: I need to make cookies for my book club on Sunday and last night was a much needed test run - my coworkers are just benefiting from the product.  Also - I hate going out and buying the ingredients for one specific recipe and then having the leftovers go to waste.  So I'm going to make these cookies until I run out of flour, sugar, and peppermint extract. I hope you like them, Interface.

This is the recipe I started with:
Let's talk about peppermint extract - If you live in a big city with tiny grocery stores, call ahead to be sure they have it.  Trader Joe's didn't have it.  Safeway didn't have it.  Whole Foods had it - and apparently a "topical" peppermint extract as well, but I told the employee I just wanted it for baking, not to bathe in. Thanks.

Also, in regards to the recipe, I hate peppermint about as much as I hate bananas - so I added some white chocolate chips to balance out the minty.  I started to get everything ready and I wanted my evening to be super Christmasy so I went to On Demand and put on the Christmas Yule Log.  Unfortunately, it only lasts for 5 min - but luckily I have the DVD!  "Really?" you're asking yourself...Yes, really.  Don't ask me why, but I have the yule log DVD and mine is better than the On Demand channel because it makes very realistic fire crackling noises.

I'm just warming myself by the fire.

Then I put my apron on - courtesy of Mrs. Fish

Then I laid out my ingredients - leaving out the ones that weren't in pretty Trader Joe's packaging.
Then I realized how hard it is to be a food blogger - your house has to be SO clean so weird stuff doesn't wind up in the background of your picture.
Luckily, the fire was blazing and compliments this picture quite nicely, I think.

Ok - I was totally ready to start.  Now comes the entertaining part because I'm a terrible cook.  The first hiccup came when the recipe called for room temperature butter. me crazy, but I keep my butter in the refrigerator, so it was chilled.  I was worried this would mess with the texture of my dough - so obviously, I lit a candle and let the butter sit next to it while I prepped the other stuff.  As you might have guessed, the candle plan failed.  Disclaimer: I don't have a microwave, which would seem the obvious solution.  So my next idea was to preheat the oven and sit the butter (which is already in a measuring cup) on top of the stove.  That didn't work either.  My last remaining option was to heat the butter in the oven.  Don't worry, I didn't place the measuring cup directly on the rack.  I put the cup in a pan and put that in.  Guess what happened next?!  The measuring cup melted!!  But so did my butter - so boom.  Problem solved.

My next obstacle arose in attempting to break the peppermints into little pieces.  I couldn't find my hammer, so I used something else heavy and metal.  I unwrapped the peppermints onto a piece of tin foil, folded up the tin foil to make a peppermint pocket of sorts and then started banging.  I didn't anticipate that the foil would start tearing with every whack.  But it did.  So I got out a big knife and cut every peppermint into fourths.  I'm not kidding.  If you have a solution to this peppermint predicament - please let me know by Sunday, as I'm not looking forward to cutting more peppermints like steak.  Thanks.

The final problem was the dough.  I guess sugar cookie dough is supposed to be all crumbly - but mine was as smooth and creamy as mashed potatoes.  But whatever, I pressed on.  I didn't want to do the extra work of rolling the dough into a cellophane log anyway.  

My dough.

My cookies. 
(Excuse the terrible light)

The website's cookies.  Oops.

My cookies didn't wind up looking like the picture, but they taste really yummy! Success! And the white chocolate chips are a really nice addition.  They may not look like sugar cookies, but they were made with a lot of love.  Love, toxins from a melted measuring cup, and tiny flakes of tin foil.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's a sad day for DeMartini, Kathryn

Well, the results of the Cherry Blossom 5K lottery are out, and as you can see I was "not selected."


The good news is that if I don't get picked next year, I automatically get to run in 2014.  And if I volunteer this year, I can automatically run in 2013.  And then, if I run it for 10 years, I never have to do this lottery thing again.  These are all ok alternatives, I guess.  But they're also alternatives for neurotic people who plan their running schedule years in advance.  

The Cherry Blossom races run on a lottery system because in 2009 the runner capacity was reached within 2 hours and 45 minutes of opening online registration.  Way to ruin it for everyone, running enthusiasts.  

In other running news, registration is officially open for The Crescent City Classic - which I'd like to run this year without getting sick.  Aim high!!  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Getting in the Holiday Spirit!

This is supposed to be my last week in DC before Christmas Vacation (we'll see what work dictates...) so I'm spending the week getting in the holiday spirit - which I've admittedly been feelin' since decorating the tree with my parents at Thanksgiving and the hot toddy incident.  The JATW was a great way to kick off the week, and last night I went ice skating with friends in the Sculpture Garden.  It was freezing and magical and very very fun.  The only thing missing was a little *spiked* cider or eggnog to warm us up post-ice.  Take note DC street vendors.

Katherine, Megan and Nick

Hi Amy!

We are fearless and ready!

Zamboni Time!

I was pretty nervous to get on the super slick ice post-Zambo, 
but it was actually easier and more fun to skate on the clean ice!
Who knew? Not this Florida girl.

You guys are pretty smooth on the ice...

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Jingle All The Way

On Sunday morning, in freezing temperatures, I ran the Jingle All the Way 8K.  I had run this race 3 years ago when it was the Jingle All the Way 10K in Potomac Park.  I'm not sure why they shortened it - but I'm not complaining.  There's plenty of complaining for later.

I have said multiple times that after running a half marathon with my mom in college (sans training) and a 10K with strep last year in New Orleans (below sea level and 90 degrees by 9 am) - that I just don't have the desire to run more than a 5K.  Ever.  Enter Amanda and the Jingle All the Way 8K - which she insisted was only 4 miles but is actually 4.9.  I was sucked in through trickery and the absence of the math skills necessary to convert kilometers to miles.  And though I was crabby before the race started - I'm glad I did it.  In all honesty, I'll most likely be running the Crescent City Classic, a 10K, with my aunt next April too - because that's what I do: I sign up for things and then complain about them.

The JATW race is a really fun DC event.  They hand out jingle bells to tie on your shoes (so you can jingle all the way...) and everyone wears Santa hats or some form of holiday attire, including - but not limited to - reindeer antlers, elf ears, Will Ferrell "Elf" costumes, and one girl dressed as a menorah.  FYI: I am anti-dressing-up for races.  I just don't get wearing tutus to run and I'm still trying to wrap my head around "running skirts."  I digress...

But this year, I put the bells on my shoes.  Humbug.

And I have to admit Amanda's hat was pretty dern cute, and I'm sure it kept her very warm.

Other holiday running attire at the starting line

The worst part about the race was the course.  Maybe I'm the only person who thought so - but it was tracked in a way that you could almost always see people running the opposite direction towards you, and what you assumed was the finish.  What I'm trying to explain is that I thought I was "almost done" the entire time.  In actuality, there were just so many loops and turnarounds that someone may be running towards you, but not even be close to the finish!  There were also only 2 mile markers (mile 2 and mile 4) and seriously - as a testament to how terrible I am with the concepts of distance and time - when I saw the mile 2 marker I was shocked because I thought we had to be at at least mile 4.  
I don't know why this is "Stop the Silence" 8K but this WAS the course from JATW.  And see what I mean? FOUR turnarounds!  And we ran all over the freaking place from the White House, to Union Station, back over to the House Rayburn Building, around past Federal Center metro, up Independence to the Air and Space Museum, turn around AGAIN and on and on.  Then they kill you with the last leg of Pennsylvania having that weird snake around on 12th.  
I get it - I'm a whiner.  
The course was "flat and fast" but STILL - talk about the running tour of NW DC.  

The JATW was a typical run/walk.  I ran the first 2.5 miles - ran/walked a little in the middle - and from mile 4, finished strong running.  My total time was 57:04 - which I'm not disappointed with, as I'll never be one of those people who runs a 7 min mile.  Hell, I'll probably never even be one of those people who can run a 10 minute mile.  But actually, Amanda's watch tracked the race as being 5.1 miles and not 4.9 - so I may have been a little speedier than I thought.  

If you'd like to learn more - the Jingle All The Way is part of a DC series which I definitely plan on completing at some point.  St. Patty's is next.  Being that it's an 8K as well - maybe I'll shoot to beat this weekend's time.  But, eh...who's counting, most likely I'll register with Amanda and then complain about it until the finish line.

Pssss - how pretty is DC during the holidays?

Friday, December 9, 2011

And to think I was excited for 13 seconds

This afternoon I saw this tweet:

Well, I think we all know I have no idea who Kevin Durant is... but that didn't deter me from clicking through with excitement that maybe Nike had created some type of running shoe that is weatherproof, won't get your socks wet in the rain, maybe heats your feet in the cold and cools them in the summer.  The possibilities for a shoe that is ALSO a weatherman are endless!!  I realize now those are lofty goals from a running shoe, but whatever - lots of people in the 80s thought we'd have hoverboards by now, so let's move on.

It took me 3 articles and 2 videos to figure out that the "Weatherman" is: 
1.  A new basketball shoe (gross) 
2. Has no weather neutralizing benefits for your feet 
3. Has no weather predicting technology
 4. Is only called the Weatherman because the colors look like a Doplar Radar.

Womp Woooomp.

This Washington Post article describes the Weatherman as "A hot electrifying forecast for your feet."  Why would I not immediately assume that this shoe can somehow tell me the outside temperature and/or the temperature of my body while I'm running?

And check out this picture!  
This lead me to believe the bottom of the shoe was testing the temperature of the ground, predicting earthquakes, snow, and rain.
It turns out it's just a color scheme.

Further research informed me the shoe is weather themed because apparently this Durant character wanted to be a weatherman when he was growing up.  Instead he became a millionaire pro basketball player and famous designer of questionable, misleading sneakers.  Thanks for that. 

Maybe one day shoes will be as innovative as my brain, but until then, I suggest Nike put a disclaimer on the box that says this shoe is weather colored but can't actually predict the weather.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Hot Mess 5K

On Saturday I ran the Ghiradelli Hot Chocolate 5K with Amanda, Hawi, and Kristen.  We all woke up at 4:30 AM to carpool and make it over to National Harbor in time for the race's 7:30 AM start time.  The race, sponsored by Ghiradelli and organized by RAM Racing, was a total disaster with a delayed start time and a disastrous, if not dangerous, course.  I had every intention of writing a scathing review this morning, but last night the owner of RAM sent around a pretty heartfelt apology email explaining what went wrong Saturday, and being that it's the holidays and all, I'm in a forgiving spirit.  They had also fed me chocolate at the end of the race, so my chagrin was quickly forgotten.

From what the email said, I feel bad for RAM because it seems as if everything that could have gone wrong on Saturday morning, did.  I'll start with my initial experiences and give the RAM version later.  Hawi, Kristen, Amanda and I arrived at the starting line around 5:45 AM.  We wandered around looking for the physical start (we had been led to believe we'd need to take a shuttle there), and not a single volunteer could tell us where to go.  Finally we realized we were parked about 20 feet from where we needed to be, so we sat in the car to keep warm.

Not long after we arrived, there were 2 traffic-stopping accidents on the Interstate inhibiting participants from getting to the parking lots and starting line.  Because of this, race officials delayed the start over and over again.  It was like the Valentine's episode of 30 Rock where Liz and Matt Damon are flying to their romantic getaway and Pilot Damon keeps saying "30 more minutes, folks."  Amanda and I were more of a "You snooze, You lose" crowd, meaning if you didn't wake up early enough to get to the race (like we did), then too bad.  But, it wasn't up to us and the race didn't kick off until 8:15.  Annoying.

Once the race did start, it was the worst course I've ever run in my 26 years.  About 2/3 of the race was on a bike trail that couldn't have been more than 8 feet wide.  So unlike other races where the start is crowded and then after the first half mile people have spread out, we were running on top of each other for most of it.  At points, I was literally jogging in place.  There were no openings in the crowd to get through and no system or room for passing.  To top it all off, runners still attempting to get from the parking lots to the starting line were walking the same trail, upstream.  So while we're running, people are walking along this trail going the wrong direction.  It's a wonder no one fell off into the harbor.

I was running so slowly in this packed crowd that I was able to snap a picture of how dense it was.

It felt like we were being herded.  Baaah.

My last and final complaint about the course is that the last third to half mile were uphill.  A significant incline uphill, not a baby molehill.  Talk about a buzzkill.  My race strategy is generally to huff and puff and think about how much I hate running for the first 2 and 3/4 miles.  Then I open up, make up for lost time and sprint at the end.  Yeah, that just isn't happening on an uphill finish.  

We sat in the car for over 2 hours to keep warm.

Now, RAM had an explanation for all of this (except the uphill finish line) which really put things into perspective.  The accidents were actually more trouble than they seemed.  The police halted traffic to clean them up.  The Maryland parking authorities promised they could park more cars than they actually could.  The bus company delivered far fewer shuttles than they promised and the accidents halted those busses shuttling passengers from the metro meetup points to the start line.  And this is really the clincher: The lead biker who was guiding the start of the 5K was misdirected by the police and we literally ran the course backwards.  The owner says this resulted:  

"This action directed the 5K in the opposite direction from the way it was supposed to flow, insuring that the runners would run into themselves.  We had to open up the start line much faster than we would have liked, in order to avoid returning runners from running into outbound runners, which would not have been a problem if the lead runner was allowed to follow the planned course."

And this explains why we ran the narrowest part of the course first.  Good grief Charlie Brown.

At the end, I finished the race in 33:42.  Not bad considering the crowd and a few very steep hills (which, now that I think about it, we should have run downhill instead of up...)  

The most successful part of the race could be considered the afterparty.  We all received Ghiradelli hot chocolate fondue with a pretzel, apple slices, marshmallow, banana and rice crispie treat.  In seconds, my angst over the terrible course was eased.  Nothing like the calories you just burned waiting for you at the finish line.


Ghiradelli Hot Chocolate

Fun Merchandise!  "Will Run for Chocolate"
Honestly, I talked to a lot of runners who had the same problems I did with the race.  And we swore that RAM Racing would lose any of our business in the future.  However, after reading RAM's apology, and realizing that it wasn't their poor planning, but the stellar execution by the Maryland police, I personally have decided that I'd be more than willing to give RAM a second chance.  I just hope the next race they organize is sponsored by Tiffany.