Thursday, February 12, 2015

Stoking the Fire...

Boredom is the enemy of my running.  The same route every time I head out the door gets very stale. So when I travel, I almost always seek out running routes.  

I'm parked for the week at one of my lovely Marriott time-share villas in the Buena Vista area and the weather has been perfect for running.  Add to this the fact that I'm still feeling a wee bit bad about not running the Tallahassee Half Marathon this past weekend and feel the need to put in a few extra miles to make up for that spell of laziness.

I've stayed at several different Marriott properties in the Orlando area and this one - Cypress Harbour Resort - is by far the best one yet.  It sits on a large, wooded piece of land, beautifully landscaped, wonderful running trails, several pools, a large lake, restaurant, cafe, poolside bar, market.  An of all of the properties I've stayed at, this one is situated in a location that even allows me to leave the property and run on a beautiful shaded boulevard with wide sidewalk and very little traffic.  Five stars for these amenities and an extra star for being so runner-friendly.

The first morning after arriving, I was still feeling those guilt pangs, so took off on a long run over to the Premium Outlet Mall where Google Maps showed a Starbucks.  I tucked my room key and Starbucks card in the pocket of my shorts and headed out.  I felt sufficiently redeemed after this run but knew that I needed to take advantage of this ideal running location several more times before the week was over.

The next afternoon I headed out for a shorter run - a little over 3 miles - and rewarded myself with an ice cream sundae at the Lakehouse here at the resort.

Several friends met me for lunch at Black Hammock Fish Camp in nearby Oviedo FL.  It's a cool place, one that a riding friend introduced me to several years ago on one of my past trips to the area by motorcycle.  We had a good turnout - 9 or 10 folks, all but me on motorcycles.  The food is good, and the location is charmingly central Florida 50's era funky.  Not many places like this remain in the central Florida area.  So much real estate has been taken over by rampant post-Disney development.

Now a day has gone by with no running.  That won't do.  So this morning I took off on a nice morning run before breakfast.  It was a little cooler and felt great!  I discovered that the Marketplace here at the resort sells Starbucks, so I had a nice treat for myself after my run.

Just a couple more days left...let's see if I can get out there two more times for runs.

Monday, February 9, 2015

I Can't Believe I Wimped Out!

Tallahassee Half Marathon...nope!  Didn't happen.

A few months ago I used a deposited timeshare week for a unit in the Orlando area, another Marriott property.  I've never been disappointed by Marriott timeshare resorts and have stayed at a number of them.  There are a whole bunch in the Orlando area, so I chose another new-to-me property and made reservations for mid-February.

Then I looked at race calendars to see if there were any races on the the front end or back end of this week.  I found Tallahassee Marathon/Half Marathon on Feb 8, which would be perfect for my travel plans.  So I signed up and made my travel plans to get there Saturday afternoon in time for packet pickup, run the race the next morning, then drive to Orlando and check in to the resort unit.

A running friend has also signed up for this Tallahassee race, so we made plans to meet for dinner the evening before.  Over dinner I shared with her my feelings about doing the race the next morning.  I had a few things weighing heavily on my mind.  The drive over from Houston put those things front and center in my psyche and quite honestly, I just wasn't feeling up to doing the race the next morning.  So when we parted after dinner, I let her know that I may not be at the start line the next morning.

Friend Sally at Pasta Dinner in Tallahassee

And I wasn't at that start line in the morning.  I went to bed telling myself that I would make my final decision based on how I felt when I woke up the next day.  So when my alarm went off at 6:00 AM the decision came instantly.  I would not run the race.  I laid in bed for another hour, dozing.  When 7:00 AM came, I knew that, even if I had wanted to change my mind, it would not have been in time. The decision was final.

Race bib and event shirt....a tough decision

My feelings vacillated between regret and guilt as I packed up, checked out of the hotel and started driving toward Orlando.  I hated that I had paid for a race, made the commitment to run it, and then reneged at the last minute.  It was just so not in my character to do this.

But it was done, so I could only look forward, not backward.

The drive to the Orlando area was uneventful and before I arrived at the resort, I stopped at the Publix nearby - one that I almost always shop at when I come to this area - and stocked up for the week.  My unit was ready for me when I arrived, which was very good news, since it was a little early, and I drove around to the building, parked the car, and started unloading luggage and groceries.

I walked over to the Pavilion poolside grill/bar and ordered fish and chips and a Blue Moon draft beer to bring back to my unit.  As I ate dinner I made the commitment to myself that I would get a long run in the next morning.  No shirking, no waffling, no postponing.  It was as good as done.

6.2 mile run the day after my aborted race plans...partial redemption

So the next morning, Starbucks card in back pocket, I set out for a 6+ mile run.  3 miles to Starbucks and then 3 miles back home to the resort.   I put in a good effort on the outbound run and then sipped my cappuccino and ran/walked my way back to the resort.  I felt somewhat redeemed when I was done.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

When Life Gives You Lemons...

There's only one thing to do when life hands you a bounty of lemons....start baking!!

My next door neighbor called me in early January to ask if I'd come over and help her harvest her huge bounty of lemons.  A light freeze had been predicted for that night.  You see, she's in her 80's and stooping or stretching to pick the lemons is getting hard for her to do.  So, with pruners in hand, I met her in her back yard and we got to work.

These are Meyer lemons and they are huge!  And there must have been over 100 lemons on that little tree.  It took two of us to carry the tote box filled with lemons into her garage.  I took a few for myself, wondering what I was going to do with these lemons. Each one will provide 5-6 ounces of juice.  Yes, that's how big and juicy they are!

Check out how big these lemons are!  Easily 3-4 inches long

I put the lemons in the fridge and then started researching recipes.  Lemon bars, lemon pie, lemon cookies... This past weekend I made my decision.  It will be pie.

My go-to pie crust recipe...flour, butter, egg yolk, ice water, pinch of salt, and a tiny bit of sugar

I assembled all that I'd need to make the pie and the crust and got to work.  First, I made my go-to pie crust recipe and, while that was chilling in the fridge, I turned the oven on to warm up and juiced one of the lemons, yielding more than 5 ounces of juice.  These lemons are much too large to use a hand-grip squeezer and just hand-squeezing is hard and inefficient.

I remember clearly the glass juicer that my mom had.  It was simple and elegant and very easy to use.  She would put us to work when we were kids, making fresh orange juice.  I haven't seen one of those juicers in decades.  Modern technology, "better" and "faster" and "expensive" have supplanted such an old-fashioned and simple device as this.  But I didn't want better and faster and expensive.  I wanted simple and elegant.  So last week I got onto and did a search and there it was! The exact same style that I remember, still out there, still being made, still being sold.  So for $11.00 or so, I got what I consider to be the perfect juicer.

Classic and efficient.  My new prize juicer

I added the lemon juice to sugar and egg yolks and beat them until frothy.  This is going to be such a good pie!!

Lemon pie filling is blended, whipped, and ready to
pour into the pie shell.  

Oven is ready, pie is assembled, now into the oven it goes!

Ready to go into the oven

Within minutes, the house smelled wonderful!!  Thirty five minutes later, the pie came out of the oven to cool off and set.

Out of the oven and cooling...smells so good!

I prepared dinner for myself but the whole time, this pie was sitting there tempting me like no one's business!

The perfect blend of tangy and sweet - oh, my but it is wonderful!
Then it was time.  Time to cut into the pie and eat the first slice.  Was it good??  Oh my, yes!!