Tuesday, April 16, 2013

2013 Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon is a Big Deal. Even if you're not a runner, you know about Boston. Your stationary feet and Big Mac-clogged heart still know that lots of runners aspire to run Boston, and maybe you don't think of them as Runners until they've done Boston. Runners know that Boston is like the Olympics for normal human beings. It's probably the only chance you'll ever have to run a race where people like Shalane Flanagan, Ryan Hall, and every East African you've never heard of are toeing that same starting line just minutes (or maybe hours) before you.

I haven't run Boston (yet). My first marathon this fall was run with the intention of qualifying for Boston, and I was 3 days too late to get in on the action for 2013. Since I had lots of friends running it this year (and I was pulling for Shalane to win SO BAD), I was watching the live feed online. Listening to the story of the female athlete from Columbia who was leading the race for a while, cheering for the Portuguese woman (she had boobs and awesome hair and I was cheering for her to win if Shalane couldn't), seeing the absolutely amazing crowd support lining every single inch of those 26.2 miles...it made me so excited and emotional and overjoyed to be a runner.

I watched the live feed until about the 3:00 mark, then decided I should probably be productive for a bit. I was tracking results for six of my friends, and kept refreshing the BAA runner tracker site so I could still 'do stuff' as I marathon stalked. At some point, I noticed that one friend didn't have any splits past the 35K mark. He should have finished, I thought. I decided to give him 10 more minutes before I refreshed the results page again, so I started Googling Boston stuff to kill time.

And then someone blew up the finish line.

Running is a beautiful sport. It's you against the clock, yourself, running solo, joining forces with teammates. It's logging miles and hours in sunshine, in the pre-dawn coolness, in the snow, in the rain. You run because you're angry, you're upset, you need to think, you want to get in shape, because you can.

The marathon takes the essence of a person and boils it down. Finishing a marathon, regardless of if you can do it in 2:10 or 4:30, is a test of everything you're made of. Seeing (and then crossing) that finish line is indescribable.

Seeing what was going on at the finish line was gut wrenching. I immediately thought of my friend who had finished shortly before the explosions, and if his running pal from college had finished or was still out on the course. I worried about my friends who had already finished, if they were safely out of the way. All the spectators that were there, cheering on the runners, congratulating those who had trained for months for this moment, they were the ones who bore most of the impact, sadly. Thank God that there were so many medical and security personnel there to immediately assist the injured. I've heard stories of runners crossing the finish line, then continuing on to the hospital to donate blood. First responders ran toward the explosions as everyone else was running away.

This morning I read that the Westboro Baptist Church was planning to picket the funerals of the Boston Marathon victims. Congratulations, WBC, you have three people, one of whom is an 8 year old kid, that died because Jesus hates the gays. This upsets me on so many levels, but I hope that people ignore these jackoffs and they don't go through with it.

The story of a 78-year-old man who was knocked down by the blast, but got up and walked across the finish line is probably old news by now, but it embodies everything that we runners are.

Today someone tried to knock us down. We're going to get back up. We may need some help, but we're going to cross the finish line. I'm still going to run Chicago this fall and Boston next spring.

Running is freeing. It doesn't have boundaries, it can hurt and be so painful and make life seem so unfair and so real.

Instead of hating those responsible for the bombings, go for a run and pray for peace. Instead of hating the WBC, go for a run and pray for love and compassion. Instead of opting out of running races in big cities, go for a run and pray for your family, friends, and emergency personnel.

Instead of barricading yourself in your house and lamenting the state of humanity, volunteer at your next local 5K and see what kind of people runners are.

We get back up, and we do it together.

Thoughts and prayers are with the runners and spectators from Boston, their families, and all those who are helping to care for the injured, and sort out the mess. I am so thankful that all of my friends running the race and who live in the area are all ok. Thank you to all of my friends who checked up on me to make sure that I wasn't at Boston and that my runner friends were ok too.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Please, do eat cake

I'm sure I'm not alone when I think that there are certain times where a girl (or guy) is just allowed to crave things. Like I think you're totally justified in any flavor of Ben & Jerry's after bad news of the significant other variety. I think you're allowed to want all the doughnuts in the world on your birthday (with sprinkles!). And then there are times that call for cake. Sometimes it's celebration cake and sometimes it's cake for the same reason that you need Ben & Jerry's. Like when your boyfriend decides to be late for (or forget about) your date. Or your friend forgets your birthday. Or you spill wine (red, of course) on your favorite shirt. Or when you realize that you left your car trunk open all night and now you have a dead battery and snow in your trunk...

In the case of bad news bears cake, you really don't want to make an entire cake because a.) you are UPSET and that takes energy and you don't want to spend the effort to make an entire cake and b.) if presented with an entire cake, you will probably eat all of it AND THEN we have even more issues, the least of which has just become the original problem that drove you to CAKE in the first place.


We have Nutella Cake in a Cup (or cake for one...possibly two if you're feeling generous, but I wasn't going to share after I took one bite of this).
From livelovepasta.com

Nutella Cake in a Cup
4 T. self-rising flour*
4 T. sugar
1 egg
3 T. cocoa powder
3 T. Nutella
3 T. milk
3 T. vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients in a large coffee mug. Whisk well with a fork until smooth. Microwave on high for 1½– 3 minutes. (Time depends on microwave; mine took 3 minutes.) Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping if you have it, or just eat with a large glass of milk handy.

*If you're a normal person like me and you don't have self-rising flour, Ms. Smitten has handy instructions, but it's for a cup. Here's what to do for your 4 tablespoons:
4 T. normal flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. baking powder

Monday, April 1, 2013

In which things are delicious and odd

If your family, like mine, usually celebrates holidays with food, there's always at least one recipe that you can count on to make an appearance somewhere on the table. In our house, it's Cheesy Potato Casserole. Since my sister and I are basically moved out of the house, it also makes occasional appearances at Welcome Home! dinners. I am not complaining at all.

I made this casserole yesterday for Easter dinner with my Pastor and his family and some other church friends. Easter this year was a little weird for me, but I can't really put my finger on it.

Recipe and explanation of 'weirdness' after the break...