Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Saturdays In August...

Runners have the most beautiful feet in the world.

Hmmmm...  Take a look at that foot.  Not only do we have a half-toenail on the second toe, we have a large, delicious blister on top of the pinky toe.

That can mean only one thing...

That's right.  It's the first 20-miler of the summer.

This past weekend, I went out for my long run with our local running group, which meets every Saturday at 6:30 am, covering distances ranging from nine, to twelve, to fifteen miles... sometimes longer.  One of my fellow runners was also scheduled for a twenty-miler.  Since the morning's longest route was a fifteen-mile jaunt through the hilly suburbs of Rochester, we decided to add an additional five miles to round it out to an even twenty.  But instead of adding the extra distance at the end of the run, we decided to meet at 5:45 and get in a quick five miles before the rest of the group showed.

I had to get up at 4:30 to make our early-morning departure on time.  After feeding the cats, I put together my usual pre-run breakfast of oatmeal with dates, walnuts, and soy milk.

Before I gave up meat and dairy, I would have never thought of eating such a high-fiber snack just an hour before a run.  I'd always eat a lone banana, or perhaps an English muffin with jelly, and then hope that my bowels would cooperate during the run.  We've all been lead to believe that eating high-fiber foods is bad before long workouts because they allegedly clog up our digestive system and give us stomach issues during runs.

However, this is not the case.  It's actually the meat and dairy products that slow down our digestion, gum up our system, and give us wretched stomach issues and uncontrollable gas and bloating.

Ever since I've given up meat and dairy, I've been able to load up on high-fiber foods within an hour of my long runs, and I feel fantastic.  Once you make plants, whole grains, and starches the bulk of your diet, your digestive system will start running so efficiently that you won't even be aware of it.

And isn't that the point?

Instead of taking huge packets of energy gel with me for longer workouts, I now stuff my pockets with dates and snack on them during my run, as needed.  Again, my innards continue to function smoothly and efficiently.

As my running partner and I were sipping coffee at the local java joint with the other group members after the run, we were pleased with our decision to tack on extra distance before the group run, rather than afterwards.

I'm scheduled to run not one, but two marathons this fall.  After I'd signed up for the first one in October, a fellow runner and friend approached me about a fund-raising opportunity for a marathon in November.  At first, I thought it was a pretty foolish idea.  I never thought I'd ever run two marathons in the same year, let alone 5 weeks apart.  But I decided that it was a worthy cause, so I agreed to help her out and join her for my second marathon of the fall.

Check back in December to find out how I'm feeling.

Anyways, I need to start penciling the loooooooooong workouts into my running log.  Not bad for my first twenty-miler in over eighteen months.  Aside from the usual tired calves that crept up at mile sixteen, I felt pretty good.

As for that blister, most normal people get blisters on the bottom of their feet.  I, on the other hand, get them on top of  my toes.

I'm about as special as they come.

I love Saturdays during the summer months.  It's a great feeling to walk in the door before 9:30am, knowing that I've already run twenty miles.

After enjoying a banana/blueberry/medjool date/soy/hemp seed recovery smoothie, it was off to the farmer's market.  Normally, my wife accompanies me, but she worked the overnight shift and was sound asleep.

After spending $3 of my $40 at the coffee shop for a drink, I had $37 to drop on fresh, local produce.  Every week when I pull my weekend cash out of the ATM, I always wonder if $40 is enough to buy a week's worth of fruits and vegetables.  Inevitably, my worries are laid to rest when I walk out of there with two overstuffed shopping bags full of bounty, and some cash to spare.

This week I scored blueberries, heirloom and Roma tomatoes, Italian flat beans, regular and green onions, cantaloupe, red and Yukon gold potatoes, orange peppers, green and yellow squash, and broccoli for $32.

Another successful trip to our local farmers' market.

The most laughable excuse I've ever heard not to try a plant-based diet is that buying fresh, local produce is much too expensive.  Anybody who makes such an absurd claim must smoking something pretty potent.

Once I returned from the market, I parked myself outside on the back deck, with camera in hand.

One of my favorite pastimes of summer is sitting back in patio chair #1, putting my feet up in patio chair #2, and watching nature go by.  As you can see by the photos down below, I'm rarely disappointed.

I did have some yard work that I was supposed to accomplish, and I did get a few things done.  Pushing the mower around for ninety minutes was actually a good way to keep my calf muscles from tightening up.  But I decided against climbing up and down the ladder to paint the second story of the back bedroom.

I decided to save that chore for next Saturday, when I'm only scheduled for fifteen miles.

After a few years, our flower garden is starting to look pretty nice.

Our woodpeckers appreciate our new hanging suet feeder,
which is not accessible to the greedy starlings.

We have a baby rabbit that's taken a liking to snacking on our chemical-free grass.

I'm not sure if this sparrow is playing airplane, or what...

I won this plant for finishing second place in my age group at a 20K road race
several weeks ago.  Clearly, this is the most beautiful plant in the world.
My wife thinks it's ridiculous.

We replaced the black oil sunflower seed with safflower seed in our primary
bird feeder.  The cardinals and other small birds love it, while
the squirrels and starlings leave it alone.

The BEEs enjoy our BEE balm.

During the last several weeks, our hummingbirds have been pigging out,
putting away the carbs in preparation for their long journey south.

We have several hawks who visit now and then, looking for
tasty morsels of chipmunk to munch on.

Our 8-legged friend works tirelessly to keep the bug population down.