Friday, August 6, 2010

Forward my mail to Stepford, Italy.

Project La Cucina Italiana has been replaced by Project Sasquatch, my seriously committed weight loss program. Or not.

Fortunately for Bev, the three-week La Cucina Italiana project, where carbs overwhelmed my kitchen and my backside simultaneously, sundowned on our anniversary on July 21 (and a little beyond because I couldn't bear the hang-dog husband). Now that the gift has been given and the anniversary is over, I'm no longer a Pasta Hostage. That's the good news.

The bad news is that Michael has become seriously attached to La Cucina Italiana. He loved the splendor of sumptuous meals lovingly served upon his arrival from work each day.

Yah. Who wouldn't? But Stepford is NOT in Italy. (Is it?)

The problem is that I'm crazy about the boy and hated seeing him picking over a grilled cheese sandwich, trying to think of something nice to say: "Uh ... you should be a food stylist, Bev! Who says that the slices of bread have to line up? If I look straight down, it's like a little Star of David. Only with cheese." It was praise, but it rang hollow. The light had gone out of his eyes.

Guilt overwhelmed Runner Bev.

So tonight as a special Friday night surprise, I prepared "Petti di Pollo Ripieni Cotti alla Brace" (Grilled Stuffed Chicken Breast). I cut slits in the chicken and filled those pockets with cheeses, roasted peppers, and fresh basil. While the chicken was baking, I prepared roasted rosemary, garlic, and olive oil for drizzling. It made an awesome bread dip.

The dish almost didn't make it to the table. Michael dragged through the back door, saw food, and ... well, you know when an Orca knifes the surface of the bay and rips a seal right out of the water? Or when a big frog flicks out his tongue from three feet away and an unwary fly vanishes? Or when a pride of starving lions finds a fresh wildebeest carcass? Well, that was Michael with Petti di Pollo. One minute it was there. And the next minute it was gone.

It had been replaced by light in his eyes.

What's Runner Bev to do now? How do I balance a serious weight loss program with preparing Italian food? Which matters most? Width of my hips or light in his eyes? With apologies to another Browning:

Dear Michael, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height (and weight) my hips can reach, when feeling out of sight for the ends of being and ideal grace ..."

Guess we're going for extra miles.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Trouble in the hood.

Yesterday, being Tuesday, was trash pickup day in my neighborhood. Since this is my third blog on the subject, I leave little doubt that this is an exciting time in Runner Bev's training schedule!

I LOVE running on Tuesdays when the recycling bins are out in the morning. As I slip by, I relish those quick glimpses into the secret lives of my seldom seen neighbors. I have always taken guilty pleasure from knowing who got a new laser printer and who is obsessed with both Cat Fancier magazine and Shotgun News (a collision of interests that ignites the imagination and could explain a few things around here).

It never occurred to blogger-blabbermouth Bev that a neighbor would ever discover my blog, let alone read it.


One neighbor found the blog. And now all the neighbors know that I eyeball their recycling bins and write about them. We had a Facebook discussion that went rather well, I thought, once I got over hyperventilating and throwing up on my keyboard. I went back and re-read what I had written over the past months. It was sweet-spirited and respectful. No one could have been alarmed. No one could have been anything but amused by my mild curiosity.

Wrong again.

I'm guessing that my photographing that one recycling bin took "mild curiosity" into stalker status.

Look what I found yesterday morning. Coincidence?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bev is on a diet.

A Hilton desk clerk took a photo of me yesterday with Diana and Adele. When I saw it, I freaked. I knew I was getting heavy, for this is what sloths do when under intense professional pressure and given the challenge of a punch-card from Bagel Bakery, but I was completely caught off guard by my inability to create a flattering angle for that photo. Say, like standing behind a sofa or posing way off in the distance. Like in another county.

I can no longer whine, “My head’s just too small.” Or “I’m perfect weight … for someone 6’7”. I’m just too short.” Or “It’s an optical illusion created by hanging around with slender friends.”

After a month of eating pasta and being chained to my desk, I am not really surprised that I have bypassed “obese,” “morbidly obese,” and “super morbidly obese,” and gone straight to “sasquatch.”

I’ll let you know how the weight loss progresses, but I don’t want to reveal the starting tonnage. (Please don’t go into “comments” and guess. This will only strain our friendship.) To give us all a starting point, I found a numerology Web site and typed in SASQUATCH. From the resulting number 28, we’ll begin decrementing. And by the way, numerology also did a nice little character assessment. I left off all the negative attributes. Let’s pretend for the moment that they don’t exist, and if they do, they’re neither hideous nor shockingly spot-on.




You entered: sasquatch
There are 9 letters in your name.
Those 9 letters total to 28
There are 3 vowels and 6 consonants in your name.
Your number is: 1

The characteristics of #1 are: Initiating action, pioneering, leading, independent, attaining, individual.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Friday night dinner OUT!

Yesterday, after a long afternoon meeting that spilled over into the evening, my two darling writing-conference-partners and I decided to have dinner together before going home. Because I had not eaten out since Project La Cucina Italiana, I was suddenly seized by the possibilities of something different. Gainesville has a gazillion restaurants, so anything was going to be fine with me. I let them choose.

They wanted to go out for pizza.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Our marriage is in trouble.

Dinner was the prelude to a disturbing evening. I'm supposed to be blogging about running, but we've drifted into Italian food, so we'll just get that over with and get on to the evening (which is how I usually think of dinner anyway). Tonight I waltzed to the table with plates of linguine nestled in creamy, citrus-flavored sauce so subtle and mysterious that we were halfway through it before we could figure out which flavor was gerbil-chervil and which was sauteed orange zest. It doesn't photograph well, but it tasted better than it looks. Pretty good in an exotic (yet artery-clogging) way!
Spaghetti Scented with Orange

And then like Dr. Jekyll and Pasta Hyde, the evening took a strange turn ...

After dinner my adoring Michael, who last night affirmed that I was a goddess forevermore, offered to take me in his truck to a warehouse store to stock up for the Anhinga Writers’ Studio Summer Workshops next week. What a good guy.

Still flushed with love and linguine and concerned by the sheer bulk of my purchases, he then generously offered to let me borrow his truck next week so that I could take all our conference stuff to the Hilton without having to make multiple trips in my bitty Honda.

I was touched, but hesitant. He drives a Ford F-150. It’s like an aircraft carrier with car keys and a Gator decal. Worse, it’s his baby. I told him that I would need to practice a little in order to feel confident in docking the Saratoga at the Hilton.

So three miles from home, he pulled over and with a flourish, turned it over to me. Fearlessly, I slid behind the wheel and threw it into gear. I glanced at Michael.

His face said, “You go, girl.”


I pulled out into traffic anyway. From outside the truck, the drive home was perfection itself. But inside the truck, it was another matter altogether. Michael Browning was slowly decompensating. The man can hold a beating human heart in his hand and not even break a sweat, but put Bev behind the wheel of his truck and he loses his mind in six of the longest minutes of his life.

I won’t describe it. But I will tell you that I parked halfway up the driveway, got out, and walked the rest of the way to the house. A goddess can only take so much.

He has been sitting out there in his darkened truck since we arrived home. I watch him from the window. His forehead is pressed against the steering wheel. They’re both safe and happy again.

Tomorrow night I’m ordering Chinese.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Anniversary Blog

I realize that it’s bizarre to blog on the evening of one’s anniversary, but the simple truth is that I have discovered the Holy Grail of recipes and it would be morally wrong for me to keep this to myself.

This will only take a sec.

Besides, Michael is occupied in making lists of ways to worship me, gifts to buy me, vacation spots to take me, and ways to express his adoration. (I think I'm getting a pony!) It’s not me, really. After THIS meal, any cook's grateful partner would be making lists.

Tonight’s dinner did it. This was a meal so sublime that we should bronze the leftovers.

Maiale con Puré di Pere e Mirtilli
Pork Chops with Pear and Blueberries

Darlings, listen to Bev VERY carefully. Click the link, print this recipe, prepare this dish, and serve it to the person you love most in the world. Tonight.

This dish is so luscious, so sensuous, so smooth and sweet and soft and scrumptious that beyond Michael’s plate, more than three decades of time melted away from my side of the table. All the years that have engraved themselves into my face. All the tough stuff and sad stuff and stupid stuff of life.


For one hour, I was his bride again. I could see it in his eyes. I could hear it in his laugh.

Blueberries and pears in wine sauce on pork. That’s all it took.

Our dinner hours have been transcendent and magical. We laugh and share stories and make plans and love each other over plates of food. Who knew? Project La Cucina Italiana was supposed to be a gift from the first of the month through tonight, but after tonight I clearly understand that food is love in more ways that I could have known. There’s no stopping me now.

Besides, we haven’t tried sautéed gerbil yet …

Gotta go now. I have no idea how long "grateful" can last. (wink)

Tomorrow we run! (I said this was luscious. I didn’t say it was low cal.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Before we begin tonight’s blog on the Kenyan Runner’s nightly desecration of the culinary heritage of Italy, we must address the delicate issues involving my accidentally overdosing Michael Browning on prunes last night.

Monday dinner, as you know, was a dramatic turning point in Project La Cucina Italiana: when Michael suddenly realized that there’s a fine line between a chef and a felon. I thought it was a little overly dramatic to screech his chair back up against the wall, point to my beautiful dish, and declare it to be the unholy pasta version of attempted manslaughter. As an upstart chef, one never wants to hear the word “apocalyptic” applied to one’s artistry. And yet …

Last night was so ugly.

Deeply concerned about Michael today, I phoned him in the midmorning to see how he was feeling. He seemed to be fine. When I discreetly inquired (using euphemisms, for we are Southern), he gave no details of his personal digestion, citing medical confidentiality and HIPAA violation. He IS a PA, after all.

And guess what! He came back to the table tonight … but only after studying the recipe I had taped to the cabinet door above the counter where I work. Smart man.

Penne alla Riccotta con Asparagi
Penne with Ricotta and Asparagus

(Uh, sorry. Still a little touchy.)

I highly recommend this dish. It’s beautiful in every way. It’s also fairly simple. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m thinking that two dishwasher loads for one bowl of noodles sort of defines “fairly simple” in this project.

Tomorrow night is our anniversary, so I will disappear from my desk a few minutes early and get to work on turning the evening into a celebration of a marriage that has been going strong for more than 30 years and even survived last night. July 21st will be the first time EVER that we have not gone out on our anniversary, testament to the joy in our kitchen, the fun in our dining room, and Michael’s capacity for humor and forgiveness. Oh, yeah.

And just so you know, I’ve planned menus beyond July 21st. That's LOVE, baby.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Tonight's dinner guarantees FAST run tomorrow!

Tonight’s little taste of heaven was Petto di Pollo con Indivia Belga e Prugne: Chicken Breast with Belgian Endive and Prunes served with rice and a little crusty bread.

This recipe, as handed down for thousands of years and no doubt polished to high gloss in the test kitchens of La Cucina Italiana by a team of Italian Master Chefs, was perfection itself. Probably.

We'll never know. Bev had to play with it. The rice was beige. The chicken was beige. The cooked endive was beige. So as I plopped the deep purple prunes into the pan one-by-one, I became increasingly enchanted by contrast in color. They started looking pretty sassy to me. I liked their dark moxie. So I added more. Lots more. Without bothering to calculate Pruneage Per Portion (PPP).

Blythe and blatant disregard for the PPP might have been a mistake with apocalyptic consequences according to Michael, our medical professional.

He says that the prune thing is NOT an old wives’ tale and that very likely, being over-pruned will create an interesting challenge tomorrow.

I choose to believe the threat of [that which we dare not speak, for we are Southern] will only serve to motivate us to run faster and perhaps closer to home.

Uh oh. Deepest apologies in advance to Michael and whoever is on the operating table tomorrow … or standing in the operating room beside him … or sitting behind him ... or in his way in the hall …

or later this week! Look what I found! Powdered Gerbil at $42.99 a pound.
(I wonder if it’s a diuretic?)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Is rodent Sicilian or Roman?

Michael is fishing with his buddy Chic in the Gulf for the next two days, so I'm off the hook for cooking tonight. (No pun intended.)

I DID notice that when the boy packed, he cleaned out our refrigerator, which means one of two things: Either he really loves all his Italian food and cannot be parted from it or he's pretty sure they're not catching anything for their dinner tonight. Either way, I'm good with it.

I took the opportunity of his absence to get the grocery shopping done for next week. La Cucina Italiana made my mouth water as I planned meals, but as we've discussed, I have to be meticulously selective. I am unable to find a lot of the ingredients required by these recipes. In fact, I can't even identify them by food group ... or genus ... or planet.

Today I needed chervil. I've heard of it. So in all likelihood, it exists here somewhere. But I have NO clue what it is. Thinking it might be a cheese, I went to Publix Supermarket and exhausted the cheese section. Not cheese. Then I tore up the produce section. Not produce. Finally exasperated, I asked a customer service rep where they stock chervil.

She said (and I'm not lying), "If we have it, it's over near pork. But honey, I don't think we do. Not many people eat gerbil."

I could barely choke out, "Thank you so much."

Somewhere this evening, there's a worker from Publix who thinks I'm just short of a cannibal, for Bev is apparently planning to prepare Sauteed Gerbil con Pomadoro with fava beans and a nice Chianti ... feh feh fehfehfehfeh ...

When I perfect my recipe, I'm sending it in to La Cucina Italiana. Let all those real Italian chefs try to find THAT ingredient! HA!

P.S. Should we serve this with PETA bread???


Friday, July 16, 2010

Improv, Italian style

Okay, I'll admit it. Friday nights are problematic. Bev always finds herself in a coma, face down on top of piles and files and undone stuff. Freaking and fretting. Wanting the weekend to get going. Too guilty and exhausted to plan actual frivolity and fun. Knowing that the past week stopped being productive last Monday around 10:00 a.m. and feeling a sort of pressure that borders on the magma buildup under Old Faithful seconds before it erupts, but not in a way that inspires awe. In a way that inspires Xanax.

And to make it all worse, Michael was late getting home tonight.

So Project La Cucina Italiana got off to a really, reallyreallyreally bad start. BUT Bev swore on David's fig leaf that until our anniversary on the 21st, there would be an Italian meal on the table EVERY night without hostility. Amendment to the oath: " ... without (head-spinning, green-pea-soup-spewing) hostility." Okay, I was a little crazed tonight.

Plans went awry as plans do. This called for creativity. Being frugal, I had frozen a crazy-great tomato sauce from the pot roast thing last week. So it went into a fabulous improvisation over angel hair pasta sprinkled with cheese. "Improvisimo"? Good enough for me.

I call it Spa-gotcha. (Look! I'm starting to speak Italian kinda!) Because I dished it up with a flourish and the hovering grace of Aunt Bea, Michael was never the wiser. He didn't know it was a leftover. He doesn't know about leftovers. Remember: Up until a few days ago, he thought popcorn was a hot meal. There is never leftover popcorn.

Michael thinks I was in an apron between 6:00 and 7:30. I wasn't. I went for a run. This sweat isn't from chopping and stirring. It's from lumbering around the neighborhood. But don't tell the man. I like it when his eyes are filled with wonder. I like it when he's ... grateful.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pasta touted as magic food


The headline jumped right out of Prevention Magazine’s promotional insert in our paper this morning! Once again, Bev is cutting edge. Gotta say …

Referring to the miracles of pasta, the little blurb expounds: “… like magic in soothing PMS symptoms, including roller-coaster hormone swings, up-and-down blood sugar levels, mood changes, insomnia, anxiety, food cravings (especially for sugary, weight-gaining foods) and other PMS symptoms.”

I regard PMS as the perview of amateurs on the Psycho Scale I use to measure my own "bad days," but unwilling to turn my back on claims like this one, I've declared that Michael is less cranky this week; he is not bloated; and I can't spot anything roller-coasterish in his behavior. Is this man lucky or what?

Tonight’s menu: Orecchiette alle Verdure (little noodles I couldn’t find anywhere, tossed with every vegetable grown in Florida). With a half pound of chopped, pureed spring onions as the dominant flavor, we nearly verged on over-scallionage. But with all the red and green, this festive dish was Christmas in July! In fact, I put on Christmas carols and hauled out a few ornaments for table decorations. Nothing says "COOL OFF, KENYAN RUNNER" like plastic holly. Michael has stopped questioning the trappings. He focuses now only on his plate. (This ability to hyper-focus and remain calm at the table is probably a function of his abated PMS symptoms.)

RUNNERS: GO HARD OR GO HOME ... and Buon Natale!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Did Parsley save Rosemary in time?*

The Goddess of Grigliata announces tonight’s menu:

Grigliata Gamberi e Pomodore con Riso Pilaf
("Portrait of Michael in Rice")

Runner Bev knows you’re getting a little bored with the endless blogging about tackling Italian cooking with olive-oil-soaked recipes printed from the Web site of La Cucina Italiana clutched in my fist, but until our anniversary on July 21st, Michael is getting dinner every night without my usual hostility. It’s a gift. It’s a stretch.

But it’s also novel in our household. And to be runnerish, these dinners are calculated to be part of our running programs. Low fat. High carb. Fresh. Healthy. Nutritionally, this new menu is superior to say … uh … almost anything else I might have come up with for dinner. This is good.

What’s NOT good is that Michael rushes home now after work. This is bad because he’s a Physician Assistant who operates with heart surgeons. I got the feeling tonight that there might be a guy alone, still on the table; Michael mumbled something about a working aorta being highly overrated and duct tape having many uses.

I couldn’t really understand him. His mouth was full.

And here’s what else is NOT good: I designed this project as a gift up to our anniversary on July 21st. What am I going to do on July 22nd? And can Michael come live with YOU?

But angst notwithstanding, here’s what I’ve discovered in the week that we’ve been all Tuscan Sun at night. A happy dinner hour makes for a happy runner family. And that, my friend, is worth peeling all the gazillion little leaves off the bitty twigs of thyme.


*Apologies to Simon and Garfunkle. And many thanks to writer friend Darlyn Finch, who penned this question on a card during a Q&A at one of Paul Simon’s events and passed it to him. She guesses that because he deliberately skipped her card, he had heard the question before. I, on the other hand, had not. I found it HYSTERICAL!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Deck the halls with bowls of Farfalle la la la ... la la la la.

Still on the carbo loading kick. Still pawing through La Cucina Italiana and looking for magic.

Tonight we had Insalata di Pasta con Verdure e Salsiccia. Notice tonight that the new Italian dish's name trips lightly and chef-fortlessly o'er the tongue? Is it that Bev has, in one short week, become so Tuscan that she no longer sees the kitchen as the true Portal to Hell? Or is it that Bev has discovered that Italian wines provide superior hydration for the runner: all the liquid of Gatorade with all the anesthetic effects of Sodium Pentothal (including blabbermouthism)?

Don't ask. Won't tell.

Tonight's fare was interesting, but problematic. The three main ingredients -- Farfalle noodles, zucchini, and eggplant -- are all three completely without flavor. The recipe called for sausage, but I think sausage is evil, so I allowed only a little to sneak into my bag at the market and made it ride home in the trunk. I'm guessing the dish needed it. The tomatoes and basil had to work too hard to drag subtlety over the finish line. My bad.

No problem. I grow bold now. A little creative doctoring turned a confusing whisper of a meal into a PARADE!

Runner Boy's patience was magnificently rewarded. In spite of tonight's momentary delay and adjustment of recipe, he's finally started to trust that dinner IS coming to the table, and it's going to be spectacular (Italian translation: favolosa, leggendaria, mitica, straordinaria, incredibile)! At the very least it's not going to be popcorn.

Tonight I am once again a goddess. But goddess isn't good enough. I want to be a runner. I'm carbo loaded alla Farfalle, but I want to put this load on the road. How is it that the Italians are so thin?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Runner Bev is now officially a goddess.

Paccheri Imbottiti al Pomodoro. This is Italian for "Bev, you are a freaking goddess."

Michael, with shining eyes, approached the dining table slowly and whispered, "What is this?" I gave him the short version. He looked upon his plate as an altar upon which I had offered up LOVE spelled out in mushrooms.

Sorry. Runner Bev is supposed to be blogging about running. But sometimes running is about food. And sometimes food is about love. This is one of those nights.

The goddess may be the world's worst runner, but tonight she rules La Cucina Italiana without their knowing. Michael knows. And tonight, he is all who matters.

Tomorrow morning we run.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

La Cucina di Bev open for business

Project Cucina Italiana -- total success tonight. FINALLY. Michael actually came to the table willingly and without having to be dragged.

What did Runner Bev put on the table? Mozzerella cheese slices with tomatoes and basil drizzled with Italian dressing, a hunk of bread with bean spread, tiny roasted potatoes, and (drum roll please!) Galletti alla Diavola Affumicati con Frutti di Bosco (translation: spicy smoked chicken with berry sauce from heaven). Oh yah.

Recipe here.

I would hang around to discuss the entire experience and the antioxidantalism of a boatload of mashed berries, but you just gotta look at the pix. Michael really liked this dinner. Really. Liked. This. Dinner. Really.

The man looks unnaturally grateful. Gotta go. :-)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I wanna burn fat, but this is ridiculous.

The Whartons don’t let their athletes eat. They make us "fuel." They use this subtle distinction in vocabulary so that we will always be clear that food is nutrition with purpose. It’s FUEL for working out. (This keeps us from squandering fueling opportunity on cookies.)

But today the concept of purposeful food intake took a sinister turn as I was putting gas into my car in Orlando and noticed the instructions on the pump for the first time. The word “fueling” caught my eye.

Read carefully with me.

Unless you pat your car before you fuel, you could burst into flames!

So tonight before dinner, I ran out and patted my car and then returned to the dining room table, nervous, but fairly certain that I could avert spontaneous human combustion. (NOTE: spontaneous human combustion is admirable ONLY on the track as you accelerate down the straight-away.)

Yikes. I want to burn fat, but this is ridiculous.

NOTE: I've been in Orlando, so La Cucina Italiana project will resume on Sunday in Gainesville. Stand by for more serious kitchen action. Unless I burst into flames in the meantime.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

This runner is now an official Ciao Hound.

TRIUMPH! La Cucina Italiana and I got food on the table!

Granted, we got off to a rocky start last night. Michael was startled and confused by the sudden appearance of actual food on our dining room table … especially a plattered ball of beef the size of his head smothered in tomato sauce and served with side dishes and real forks.

I’ve spent our entire married life convincing the boy that popcorn IS a hot meal. And last night he realized there could be more. This was a delicate, pivotal moment in our marriage.

Undaunted by Michael’s nervous breakdown last night, tonight I prepared Pasticcio di Ziti. Translation: Ziti baked in some flashy, high drama tomato sauce. Cost: $29.44. Servings: looks like maybe 25 --- I couldn’t lift it. I served it with crisp green salads, crusty bread, and Cabernet.

The cool thing about the Pasticcio di Ziti is that it contains Pecorino, prosciutto, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. I’ve concluded that most any food that starts with a “P” and ends with an “O” is delicious … which is good, because we WILL be eating this again and often. And by “this,” I mean THIS particular pan of Pasticcio di Ziti. Like forever or until we can consume 23 more portions, whichever comes first.

Now I answer the question that hangs in the air: “What happened to the Risotto with Clams, Crusader Bev Who Blames BP Oil for the Eternal Downfall of Clamming?” Simple. I couldn’t find all the ingredients that I needed to prepare the recipe, so my little package of clams became a simple appetizer tonight. The Clam Cram continues, but Bev isn’t driven insane.

And here’s tonight’s question: “O Princess of Shortcuts and Swapping Ingredients, is it true that a dish tastes best when it’s prepared with ALL the real and right stuff?”

Oh, yes, my darlings. Oh, yes, indeed. Tonight I got smootched!

So the next question will be: “How do Italians stay thin?”

I’m guessing that tomorrow’s run will have to be longer and more brutally paced than today’s. At this rate, by the time we get to our anniversary, Michael will be a happy boy and I'll be large enough to command my own gravitational pull. I'm now beginning to understand the long flowing robes favored by Roman senators and the Pope.


By the way, George Hirsch, marathon runner and publisher of the American edition of La Cucina Italiana, will be here on July 28 to keynote our Anhinga Writers' Studio Summer Workshops. His name doesn't begin with a "P" and end with an "O" ... but our evening with him will be DELICIOUS!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cooking up trouble

Greetings from the Kenyan Runner’s Kitchen, where the newly discovered flavors of Italy blend with the goodness of Advil.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I postponed my intended inaugural Italian meal, Clam Risotto, and prepared instead Ragu Alla Napoletana – roughly translated: “Pot Roast in Tomato Sauce That Cost $68.53.”

Discovering the bait and switch, deeply disappointed friends challenged me on the sincerity of my impassioned case for eating all the clams we can (the “Clam Cram”) before the BP oil gush overtakes the harvest for the next 500 years.

To be honest, after my clam-soapbox, it was difficult to justify my switch to pot roast, and whip up that same impassioned political frenzy over beef. But it’s entirely possible that a cow could theoretically walk into the Gulf, maybe get sticky, and possibly reduce the herd. It’s a reach, I know. The truth is that I simply couldn’t find all the ingredients I needed for the Clam Risotto this evening, and I had a better chance with the Ragu tonight.

Of course, there was a LOT of ingredient-swapping going on. The recipe calls for “lardo.” I have no idea what “lardo” is. It’s not lard, because lard is called by name later in the recipe. It sounds like something that would cause a Wharton’s head to explode, but then again, eating beef would cause a Wharton’s head to explode. So we won’t tell beloved coaches about tonight, okay? In my own defense, I put great effort into making the Ragu Alla Napoletana as non-artery-clogging as I could. Red wine—even 3/4 of a cup in the recipe—is GOOD for the heart. Right?

Michael arrived home to a fragrant kitchen with pots bubbling and Bev halfway through the bottle of leftover red wine, belting out a Puccini aria. While another husband might have been delighted by this sudden passion for Italian cuisine (or any cuisine at all), Michael was instantly suspicious. Sigh. You think you know a man.

He’s still downstairs, ruminating over what just happened. Dare we tell him that Bev is deeply into the magazine La Cucina Italiana now and there’s no turning back? I think my serving clams tomorrow night might kill him.

Thursday’s run is going to have to be a long one with intervals (slow run with short bursts of fast pace). Gotta burn off some of this lardo. And this time, my darlings, we know EXACTLY what it means …

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bev is cooking PASTA!

Michael thinks I'm a terrible cook. Gotta be honest; he's right. Our dinner table is woeful if left up to Bev, who thinks one should leave the intricacies of food prep to the professionals at Taco Bell. Our anniversary is this month, so in a gesture that can only be described as one part adoration and one part guilt, I vowed to do better in the days leading up to the Big Night. A month of dinner on the table sans hostility is my gift to hubby.

But Bev is not creative. If it doesn't come in a box, Bev panics. You know. You've been reading.

Enter publisher George Hirsch's La Cucina Italiana magazine. The Whartons once told me that if I followed every word published by iconic marathon runner and publisher George Hirsch, I would be a great runner. Okay, George was publishing Runner's World at the time and has since moved on in his illustrious career to publish the American edition of the top Italian cooking magazine in the world, but what the hey. Italian is pasta. Pasta is carb. Carb is for Kenyans. George is George.

I'm in.

This magazine is gorgeous and full of recipes! For my first meal, I've zeroed in on Risotto with Clams. I got a little stuck on ingredients not found in Gainesville ... uh ... Florida ... uh ... on Planet Earth. If anybody knows where a girl can score Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice, do call.

But unrecognizable ingredients notwithstanding, the CLAMS are the sacred part of this dish. In Florida the clam harvest is in high gear, gathering and salvaging before damage from the BP oil gush takes out the leases in the Gulf just west of here. Who knows how long we'll be able to get them? Everyone is eating them as often as possible now in a collective, tearful, "Good bye." A chowderless world is going to be a bleak one. We want to remember the good times, so we're trying to cram the clams.

Buon appetito! (Translation: Italian-Kenyan for "Enjoy the clams, even if Bev is preparing them").

In George Hirsch's honor, I'll also be running a few extra miles tomorrow morning to burn off the 13,029 calories per serving.

For those of you who think that diving into a plate of Risotto with Clams is an un-Kenyan thing to do, remember that the Kenyan marathon runners train six months out of every year in ITALY. Oh, yes, they do. I know. I've been with them. Well, not WITH them ...


By the way, George Hirsch will be here on July 28 to keynote our Anhinga Writers' Studio Summer Workshops. Don't tell him about the crack I made about Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice, okay? I don't want him to think I'm a Philistine. I want him to think I'm a Kenyan who can cook.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh, what a tangled web we run ...

Being the first runner on the trail in the morning is a special privilege indeed. I run on dirt that seems primeval and pristine except for animal prints -- deer and raccoon and something with large paws and claws (the source of which I do not allow my imagination to consider; "kitty" will do).

I glide through clear, soft, cool morning air, lost in thought.

And then suddenly the air is electric around me. Snapping and crackling like a zillion volts of charge exploding across my face, shooting out to either side. Shock and fear grip me. I flail around, trying to save myself.

I have run though a spider web so large and so strong that shattering all the tensile threads of silk is audible and actually slows me down. I'm caught.

It's a typical morning for a Florida runner.

When we are entirely too enthralled with watching our feet (fixated on snake avoidance) and we fail to pay close attention to the air in front of us, we WILL accidentally run through a spider web. It is inevitable. But ... this isn't just any spider web. This is a Florida spider web. Roughly resembling a tuna net. Home to a spider the size of a baseball glove. And he has spent all night weaving his silk across the trail to trap unwary, tasty prey. As a meal, a catch your size is a delight, but you are messier and more destructive than he had counted on. This is why he's now in your hair, pissed off.

This morning BEV was the spider's catch.

The spider and I both survived. He's busy reweaving and repairing his web, still pissed off. And I'm still swatting at every twitch of my body, sure that he's still on me somewhere in spite of a shower.

Today's lesson for the first runner of the morning is this: Watch the trail. The WHOLE trail. Look up frequently. And carry a stick that you can wave in front of you to take down the spider silk as you glide through. The second runner will thank you. And don't worry that all the spiders of the forest trail will begin to recognize you as the webinator that you are ... and they know where you live ...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bev is obsessed with rain now.

Tourists who visit Florida have this fantasy that our state is about SUNSHINE! And while the brochures are telling the truth, they often neglect to mention that it rains every afternoon.

It has to. Without an afternoon soak to cool us off, Florida would be like a sweat lodge on the Sahara.

Runners have to decide. If you want to run dry, you gotta go in the morning. If you don't mind the downpour, the day is wide open.

This photo was taken out my front door, and although it's in color, it looks black and white, doesn't it?

I know that this week I've been fixated on weather rather than discussions of running. I can't help it. It's that time of year again. And all runners are attuned to "outside." I love the afternoon rain and the beautiful contrasts in a forest that darkens and disappears into mist, and then reappears in flashes of lightning.

I love being a Florida runner ... wet or dry. Okay, mostly I love it DRY. (Notice I took the photo from INSIDE the house! HA!)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Running on the beach ... does it get better?

If it's true that a photo is worth a thousand words, I'll spare you detailed blathering on escaping the insanity of last week and finding peace with sand in my shorts at the end of a gentle day.

While Florida can be a harsh place to run (heat and humidity!), it can also deliver a silent, pastel moment that lets you know that all is right with the world. This photo was taken last night right before a half moon rose. I swear I'll never whine about the storms again ... until next time.

Friday, June 18, 2010

FLORIDA: Weather or not we like it

What part of the large thunder-buster on the right did I not understand when I looked up and smiled on the blue sky and fluffy white cloud???

I had an important appointment to keep, but within minutes, had to pull over and let the monsoon have the right of way ...

... and I wondered what the weather is like where YOU live and run.

Como frijole? How've you bean?

As we all know, I have been on a fresh food kick for the past month. For a girl who lives in a forest, this can mean almost anything because even road kill qualifies as “fresh food” if you get out there fast enough with your shovel ...

But we’re talking about fresh-off-the-farm VEGETABLES, darlings.

Friend Nete, always looking out for my best interests, signed me up for a bushel of shelled white acre peas at Rogers Farm north of here. Yes. I was REGISTERED for peas. Michael and I had to drive up there and claim them by appointment or risk ticking off the farmers, an agricultural “dis” that I’m sure has consequences involving waking up with a pit bull head in your bed.

Going to the farm for peas was glorious! First, I've never owned a bushel of anything. (Maybe I've owned a peck. But I can’t confirm that; I don’t know what a peck is.) And second, the experience of bellying up to claim MY peas and seeing my name in pencil on a damp list was thrilling.

Anyhow, I got so caught up in the moment, I also bought a bushel of lima beans, which required no registration. Free-range lima beans? This was heady stuff.

I went right to work to "put them up" like Nete taught me. (Yes, freezing lessons.) I even wore an apron. I gotta say. When the work was done, there was something marvelous about admiring a freezer full of vittles that will see ya through the winter. I felt so Earth Mother. So Pioneer Woman. So utterly Little House on the Prairie.

Then I remembered that I don’t actually LIKE peas and beans.

Uh oh.

I wonder if the Kenyan marathon runners’ quest for carbs is this complicated. Is this where we get the term COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES???

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Heart Rate Monitor no longer my fave.

Every runner is on a quest for The Edge. Often it comes in the form of specialized equipment. I found the ULTIMATE!

Look what the county installed for runners who use the bike path right outside my neighborhood! It’s a state-of-the-art Runner’s Speed Monitor. Using a sensor, the RSM detects the runner and flashes speed up on a digital read-out. How great is that???

As in all technical equipment for athletes, trial and error were required to learn to use it to my full advantage.

I couldn’t get it to record me, no matter where in the road I positioned myself as I raced toward it. But I noticed that it easily detects and records cars. Being an analytical person, I concluded that the sensor might be set to pick up metal. So I covered myself in aluminum foil – a gleaming outfit (with hat) not easy to wear when the temperature is over 100 degrees. And I ran repeatedly toward the RSM.

No dice.

Unwilling to look a gift horse in the mouth, I knew there had to be a way for me to play with the newfound RSM. I did some testing in my car. Alas. I discovered that the lowest speed the RSM can record is 12 mph. This is a five-minute mile. Clearly, this RSM was developed for the Kenyans. Holy Nairobi, Batman!

Frankly, I am not that good. Yet. So now I have new goals. Hit 12 mph. Light up the RSM. Lose the foil.

It’s a Kenyan thing.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Virtue from the garden!

Runner Bev is aglow with virtue today.

Friend Nete, who lives in the farming community of Newberry -- just west of Gainesville, has been raiding a neighbor's garden. (She has an engraved invitation, of course. The woman is NOT a felon.) Anyhow, she phoned last night to say that the bounty had been generous and she had a truckload of freshly picked vegetables with plenty to share! WOW! It's been forever since a garden-raider stopped by my door!

Our refrigerator is LOADED with tomatoes, cukes, yellow squash, and green peppers as fat as baseballs.

Our plates runneth over. There is NOTHING so amazing as summer harvest on a runner's dinner table!

And I'm not saying that our menus are not ALWAYS so healthful, but you gotta know that the table is unusual if I'm photographing a salad. And notice the shot is tight. Is this because I cropped out the hot fudge sundae? I'll let you wonder. In the meantime, I'm feeling saintly and organic.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Run is trashed and I couldn't be happier!

Today is TRASH DAY in my neighborhood (delayed to Wednesday because of Memorial Day). You know how exciting trash pickup is for Runner Bev. It means that the recycling bins were out this morning ... and I spent an hour trotting beside them. As you know, I LOVE the recycling bins. They provide me odd, speed-of-light, sidelong glimpses into the daily lives of neighbors. I never slow down. I never stop. I never stare. I never paw through and study. My rule is that a quick glance from corner of eye is sufficient and will not trigger restraining orders. A neighbor's right to privacy is as sacred as my unrelenting curiosity. Both can coexist.

Knowing small things about neighbors deepens my love and respect for them. This isn't a neighborhood of strangers anyhow. We are brothers and sisters of the hammock, bonded by harsh conditions and occasional disasters that demand that we all pull together with chainsaws and sandbags and generators.

But on most days and for the most part, we give each other space. You don't live out here because you're particularly social. You live out here because you need to align your soul with the deeper rhythms of seasons in forest and swamp. The neighbors are bonuses.

The run this morning was a study in who celebrated Memorial Day weekend with a bash and who celebrated with just his cats.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New place to run

Memorial Day provided a day and a half at our beloved Cedar Key on the Gulf of Mexico just west of Gainesville. Thought it was a good idea to touch base with Cedar Key and see it one last time before the oil spill reaches its pristine wetlands, clam farms, and abundant, secret fishing spots.

Don't rush, BP. Wouldn't want you to strain yourselves before AUGUST, when you think you might cap the gusher.

Sorry for the rant. I'm in love with the Gulf. It's where I go when my heart is unhappy or when my drained batteries need to be recharged. And I'm majorly confused and increasingly enraged by the Oil Spew without End. Today is the first day of Hurricane Season 2010 ... and I know things that inlanders don't know about disasters on top of disasters, so I'm thinking they should probably cap the well before the next time we see Jim Cantore on the Weather Channel -- sideways rain pelting his face and shredding his slicker as he struggles to remain upright and screams into his microphone from the howling beach at Cedar Key, warning us to vacate Florida immediately. Which could be TOMORROW. Oh, yah. This could get a LOT worse. It will. Mark my words.

But I digress (as I sometimes do).

Because the purpose of this blog is to yak about running, I wanted to let you know that Cedar Key, with soft island breezes and quaint neighborhoods and vast vistas of Gulf, provided a wonderful backdrop for running. A change of scenery can really spice up a workout program. And we have motivation to RUN in Cedar Key. It is populated by teeny winged demons called, "No-See-Ems." These are nearly invisible, entirely weightless insects that plague areas rimmed by marsh. One minute you're an oblivious innocent with a blood supply. And the next minute you're on fire and breaking out in welts. You can't see a No-See-Em, but you can FEEL 'em. Good news. You can also outrun 'em.

Monday, May 24, 2010

My hair looks like a Chia Pet

Today's Gainesville Sun's cover story was on bad storms a'comin'. Either the news was s---l---o---w last night or these storms are cover-worthy, baby.

When one lives in the world of hurricanes, one tends to regard cover stories on weather as significant.

When will I learn???

I crept out the door this morning and stared heavenward for the entire run, listening for the low roll of thunder somewhere out there. Never happened. But because I was distracted by the possibility of badness and ran with my face in the air, I didn't notice that my ponytail band had slipped off and fallen by the wayside somewhere between headlines about storms and pounding down the dry-as-a-bone path. By the time I realized that the mop had been liberated, it was too late.

My hair frizzed up like a lion's mane. I looked like an albino Chia Pet. Terracotta face. Foo foo head. So lovely.

Today has been glorious and gorgeous. If there's a storm looming, it's going to take its sweet time. I guess it will start to pour just about the time I get my hair washed and dry again.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Shoe whisperer

I look down at my running feet ... and instead of being impressed by the blur in perfect cadence and balance, I am appalled at how dirty my shoes are. They blend into the pathway so that all I can admire are sock tops. Gleaming white sock tops are not impressive. They make my feet look gone.

You're also thinking that filthy shoes are also stinky, aren't you? They might be. But I'm a Southern woman and we are honor bound by our inherent belle-ness to redefine sweating as "glowing." And for sure "glow" cannot make your eyes water and cause plants to wilt.

Glow notwithstanding, I was able to locate my shoes in the dark this morning. Admittedly, that can't be good.

The shoes are getting a bath today. I gotta tame the game.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trading a run for something better

I was out too late last night. Well, I wasn't OUT too late, but I have this quirk about winding down at the end of a wound-up evening. It takes about two hours for me to slow down my racing thoughts enough even to consider sleep. Bad quirk. Requires planning.

Anyhow, I got to bed too late and awakened too late and started my run too late and it was too hot already ... gripe gripe gripe ...

Shaddup, Bev!!! All's well that ends well!

I ended up running into neighbor David, a retired attorney who is passionate and disciplined about walking in the morning. I hadn't seen him in a while, so I slowed the morning down, pulled in beside him, and joined him on a walk that took us on a route I seldom run.

We talked in the companionable way friends do when they're powering down the road side-by-side in shorts. There's something different about conversation on the move. Maybe because it's spoken in shorter bursts of breath, you tend to kind of cut to the chase. Maybe because when you're sweaty, you tend to be more real. Maybe because the conversation enfolds the shared experience of the walk -- sighting a herd of five deer, mediating a standoff between two lawn service guys and an unleashed dog with a serious dislike for men with rakes, and comparing news updates on neighbors as we passed their homes.

I don't know. It doesn't matter. What matters is that I enjoyed it. David is an amazing man with a rich, deep, colorful life. Stealing an hour with him was a great way to begin a day that had every potential for being ugly.

Now, if I could just get over the fact that I didn't run ...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Recycling bins.

I love running on Tuesday mornings. This is when the recycling bins are put out. In Gainesville, each home has two bins. One for paper. And one for plastic and cans and bottles and stuff like that.

An observant runner with a compulsive curiosity about how other people live can learn a lot from a sidelong glance into a recycling bin once a week as she trots by. I know who reads more than one paper. I know who shops from catalogs. I know who has lots of parties. I know who hates to cook and relies on canned goods for sustenance. I know who has cats. I know who drinks alone. A lot.

But mostly I know that all these homes are occupied by people who are crafting lives the best way they know how. And then courageously, without worrying about what a runner sees, they put their evidence on the roadside. It's touching to me that they are so trusting, so living in the light, so unconcerned about judgment.

I live among good folk here in the Hammock.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Let it rain!

I waited to run until the thunder got bored and moved on to Georgia. But the rain lingered. And then *I* got bored. So, staring out into the downpour, I decided that I was gonna get all sweaty anyhow and then I was going to shower, so rain was merely redundant. I jumped out into it.

The only downside of running in the rain is that my shoes get wet. And I can’t guarantee that they will dry out before the next day unless I’m willing to throw them into the dryer. But then I have to put up with the thudding for a half hour or so … and I worry endlessly that the heat will degrade the insoles and the shoelaces will come out as macramé.

Oh, the life of a runner can be so complex. For a sport so simple, I make it so difficult.

But running in the rain is a special gift in the steamy swamp where I live. It’s a “Get Out of Jail Free card.” Running in the rain is cool. And the swarming, blood-sucking insects are waterlogged and can’t run me down.

So while the day might seem gray and dreary to a mere mortal, to a runner, today is glorious. I’ll take it! Carpe diem. Carpe towelum.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The DARK side of running

I had an out-of-town runner with me today at lunchtime. The outsider remarked that Gainesville’s streets and sidewalks were devoid of runners, surmising that the heyday of running here must be over.


What part of 100 percent humidity, 99 degrees of steaming heat, and radiating black asphalt did this guy fail to consider???

In Florida, only a few runners brave the heat of the day.

Most of us are out just before dawn, when the ambient temperature is the coolest after a night of … uh … no sun. (This is meteorology at its most technical, so pay attention.)

The closer we get to summer, which starts in February, the earlier we rise to try and get mileage in before the sun comes up.

Also, as a nice bonus, some people water their gardens before dawn too. (If they wait until after sunrise, sprayed water evaporates in midair.) So we can do some nice sprinkler-running to stay cool and to look a lot more sweaty than we actually are. We look good. There’s nothing like a soaked runner to inspire awe. In fact, if I lay out my route just right, I can look like a wet rat within minutes, giving the illusion that I have at least ten miles under my belt before I even get warmed up. Walkers move over and give me room. Other runners just wink as they pass and shake out their wet hair. We know what we've done.

Running in Gainesville is fun only under the cover of dark now. Which means that nightlife is getting cut short, and we’re all becoming less fun. But, oh baby, are we getting fast!

You just won’t witness our prowess at noon. At noon, we're tucked into air conditioned restaurants, carbo-loading. Like INTELLIGENT people.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Gainesville runners' secret revealed

My home—Gainesville, Florida—is the running capital of the South not because we are populated by the champions from all over the world who sneak down here to train. (They do. Ssshhhh … )

Not because hydration fluids were invented here and we are the home of Dr. Robert Cade and Gatorade. (We are.)

Not because we have the greatest running trails on the east coast. (We do.)

Not because we have the finest sports medicine experts in the country. (The docs all run.)

Here's the truth.

We dominate the sport of running because starting NOW, we are populated by squadrons of savage biting black flies and blood-sucking mosquitoes that leave giant welts … and worse. If runners are slow in Gainesville, we’ll be overtaken by merciless, winged tormentors. There’s a fine line between running and fleeing. So EVERYONE is fast. The minute you step outside the door, you gotta outrun these bad boys in order to preserve your health and sanity. Failure puts you firmly on the food chain. Suffering and disfigurement tend to be great motivators.

And as the Florida heat and humidity encourage blood-letting insectitude, the training gets better and better! By the end of summer, you’re either winning races or are in the care of a tropical diseases medical practice.

I know that I can sometimes sound like a one-runner Chamber of Commerce, extolling the fabulousness of Gainesville. Forgive a proud Floridian who loves the swamp with such passion that I cannot contain my enthusiasm for the virtues of training here.

If you’re interested in visiting and going on a run with us sometime, just let me know. You’ll love it here! I’ll load up on Calamine and Benadryl just in case you fall behind. (Does Nike make a Haz Mat suit???)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Running of the Pit Bulls

I went to Georgia to teach writing last weekend. I got caught up in the fun of old friends in new places, and hard work and easy laughter. So even though running was high priority, hedonism overrode my good judgment.

I was in Georgia, staying in a vintage farmhouse that rises from a field of cultured mist at the end of a long drive flanked by trees. I swear I can hear strains of “Theme from Gone with the Wind” as my car inches reverently up to the house. Gracious Plenty Farm is cast with the requisite cow, horse, and small herd of goats. My hostesses, Socha and Andi, note that the animals are not working farm animals. They are large pets masquerading as lawn ornaments.

But I digress.

Their farm is next door to a pit bull rescue center.

Let me repeat.

Pit. Bull. Rescue. Center.

Call me overly cautious, but I deemed it stooooopid to tie on running shoes and head out into the Georgia morning alone in an area where pit bulls might be migrating in search of new digs and a food supply they can outrun.

Even the cow looked nervous.

So I chose to play with Socha and Andi, commune with my fellow writers at the Generations Gallery in Indian Springs, teach, eat, and sleep. No running.

What an undisciplined wussie.

Had I been brave, I might have had my own Ernest Hemingway moment. Spitting in the eye of danger, Hemingway didn't hesitate to hurl himself into Pamplona Running of the Bulls. But I clutched when I had the opportunity to replicate his greatness. Somehow, Butts County Running of the Pit Bulls seemed less romantic and heroic.

In retrospect, I know I missed an opportunity that may never come my way again. I’ll be braver if there's a next time.

Run well, my darlings! Warm weather welcomes us!

Friday, April 16, 2010

We're taking a Marathon Mulligan!

So far, 2010 has been so insanely horrific that people have stopped asking, “Hey, Bev, how’s it going?” They’re afraid I’ll answer. If you’ve been paying close attention to the blog, you are vaguely aware that I’ve been up to my Floridian elbows in alligators. The blog has evolved into material less about the joy of running and more about the annoyance of whining.

Gang, I’ve decided that we need the running version of a Mulligan. We gotta have a do-over. No year should start like this.

When we launched 2010, I was on a singular mission to run New York.

Derailed completely.

It is said that if you want to hear God laugh, make plans. He must be hysterical about now. Life broadsided me so hard that it knocked me to my knees. Running took a back seat on the Seventh Level of Hell. And then New York rejected me, which in retrospect was probably cosmic retribution for my getting sloppy about running when life went upside down. I committed the unpardonable sin. Runners run, no matter what. And I just didn’t.

As a writer, I sometimes see life in terms of plot and character and outline. I’ve concluded that I need a rewrite here. A new chapter is in order. I’m getting busy, babies! I’ve set my keyboard on STUN!

I’m declaring today to be New Year’s Eve. I’m starting 2010 all over again. Right here. Right now. If it’s true that the manner in which you spend New Year’s Eve is the manner in which you will spend your year, then I’ll be spending the day working hard, the early evening with beloved friends, and midnight running into tomorrow.

Happy New Year, my darlings!

I wish you a year of joy, peace, prosperity, and PRs. Me too. Let's do it better this time.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm training for the NYC. Yeah, I am.

I’m training for the New York City Marathon.

No, not THAT one.

The OTHER one.

I might not be able to run the ING New York City Marathon on November 7, but no one can stop me from training for it. I enjoy having the discipline of a worthy goal, so I’m continuing.

We were all wondering what the REAL Plan B would be after the Ben and Jerry’s melted.

Also, as Phil Wharton reminds me, there’s a marathon somewhere EVERY weekend. Even if it’s in my head.

Run strong!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Salt in wound not enough.

Got home early tonight from Hospice, so exhausted that I can hardly function. Opened email before collapsing face-first into bed.

Found a second, duplicate memo from the New York Road Runners, reiterating my rejection from the ING New York City Marathon. Ya know. Just in case yesterday's podcast, the rejection on my personal Web application, and this morning's email rejection memo were not enough.

One has to admire how thorough they are.

One also has to marvel that one of the flavors in the Ben and Jerry's collection from last night is NEW YORK SUPER FUDGE CHUNK. One way or the other, a tenacious runner finds a way to do New York.

Salt in wound.

Just in case I didn't fully understand being rejected yesterday, New York Road Runners sent me an email today to make sure I got it.


I know that sounded testy, but I'm sure that's just the Ben and Jerry's Sugar Hangover talking.

Everything is going to be okay, babies. Really. I've learned so much from running the New York City Marathon many times. Maybe there's even more to learn from being rejected by the New York City Marathon! I'm just sayin' ...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Until we can figure this out ...

Plan B
Transitional Program for Runner Rejected
by New York City Marathon
(Wharton Approved)

New York did not accept me.

I did not get into the ING New York City Marathon. Following my name, it says, "Not accepted."

You've been with me for months on this ... and have caught the smallest glimpse into the Seventh Level of Hell over the past month, so you know that not being accepted into the marathon is entirely consistent with the Seventh Level. In fact, really, honestly, frankly, would we have expected anything else?

So I know what you're thinking: Bev is going to fall apart now.


We now go to Plan B.

You are intrigued. You ask, "Allrighteee then! What is that, Bev?"

I have no idea.

Just know that I'm okay. Now, following the lottery drawing, I'm going back to Hospice, where I will ponder life, death, and Plan B. Tomorrow, I'll come back to you with Plan B. Prepare to be amazed!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happy in the Seventh Level of Hell

Oh! What a beautiful morning!
Oh! What a beautiful day!
I’ve got a wonderful feeling …
… get real … nothing is going my way …

I don’t care. I ran this morning. Like a thief, I surfaced out of the Seventh Level of Hell and snatched the best of the day while no one was looking to take it away from me.

The gift of running is mine. And buddy, I need it.

TOMORROW AT NOON IS THE LOTTERY DRAWING FOR THE ING NEW YORK CITY MARATHON!!! So today is a day of hope and guilty, delicious anticipation. Today, I know that something marvelous is possible!

Tomorrow at noon may prove me wrong, so for right now, I’m hanging onto it. Yes, I am. A miniscule pinpoint of light is brilliant and easy to see in the darkest dark. I’m blinded by brilliance. It’s a wonderful gift from New York … even if it lasts only 24 more hours!

Delusion is a useful mechanism. When all is going wrong, it's marvelous to think that one thing could go right. It might preserve my sanity today. It's been two whole hours since I begged someone to shoot me. See???

Monday, April 5, 2010

Wednesday will come.

Is it wrong to smile just a little while standing at the window at Hospice? Probably. But the spirit of a runner is unconquerable.

Just beyond the window is a birdfeeder that Hospice volunteers keep full so that every bird in Gainesville knows to come here for lunch. Just beyond the birdfeeder is a small berm. And beyond the berm is a vast, verdant soccer field where children come to play and runners do laps around the edges.

Running is a big part of my life. And now when I am unable to run because of sitting bedside with a beloved in a tough situation, watching other runners snaps me back to sanity. With death all around me, the runners keep me mindful of the cleansing that comes from a good sweat, the heartbeat rhythm of footfall, the power of breath, the joy of freedom when your body is tuned up like a Ferrari, and thinking that Gatorade has no medical purpose; its sole raison d'etre is to hydrate an athlete after a long, hot run.

Tomorrow morning, before I come here again, I’m going to get up extra early, and no matter how exhausted I am, I’m going to run hard even if only for a little while.

The ING New York City Marathon Lottery drawing is in two days. Standing at the window at Hospice, I'm clear that someday life will go on. Someday November 7 will come. And I’ll still be here to claim it.

I’m smiling.

Thursday, April 1, 2010



For the first time in history, we’re launching the ING New York City Marathon in a live broadcast that you can watch from any computer on 7 April.

Do you want to know whether you’ve been accepted? Tune in at noon on Wednesday, April 7, to find out who’s been selected in the 2010 lottery, including eight entrants announced on air who’ll win VIP prizes. Are you excited about the battle for the New York crown? We’ll also announce the first two professional runners.

Catch the Live Launch
You don’t want to miss the action-packed show. You and your friends and family can tune in from anywhere around the world.

When the show ends, you can log in to your NYRR profile to check whether you’ve been accepted to run on November 7, 2010.

Celebrate in New York with NYRR
The celebration will continue all day and into the night.

Join the experts on April 7 to start planning for the ING New York City Marathon 2010 at the first NYRR Learning Series of marathon season.

Visit our site for soon-to-be released launch parties throughout New York City that will connect marathoners with friends and fellow runners.

We want to celebrate 41 years of running through the five boroughs—don’t miss the action beginning on April 7 and continuing through race day on November 7.

(So, will Bev allow herself to be a little juiced up? Yah. Just a little)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Reporting from over the edge.

After being faithful to posting regularly for several months, I fell off the planet. I know. I know. Lurkers and curious people who contacted me off blog know that I’m alive.

I want you to know it too.

Prophetically in my last posting, I noted that for everything there is a season.

I am writing this little entry from Hospice, where I’m sitting vigil for a beloved who cannot stay here with us anymore. Her winter season draws to an end.

This journey began exactly three weeks ago with a trip to the emergency room. I continued to run (sort of) and post (scattered thoughts) throughout the first two difficult weeks in the hospital, but when we headed toward Hospice, I dropped away from my morning keyboard and stopped pretending that I could cling to normalcy.

The past weeks haven't been about me, but since my blog is about running, I tell you honestly that running has been dashed on the rocks by grief, long days and longer nights at bedside, lack of sleep, meals that have been eaten out of vending machines, work that’s not getting done, birthday cards I forgot to mail, a garden overtaken by weeds, wet laundry molding in the washer because I can't get it to the dryer, and a household falling apart from neglect.

There will be time later. Another season.

In the irrevocable face of death, I am suddenly clear again on The Essential. Guys, when it’s all said and done, all that matters is love.

Just thought I would remind you too … in case you’re like me and forgot that life is too damned short.

As for running, it will wait a little longer.

I’ll post again when …

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Update on actual training and diet. Finally.

Several of you have asked how I’m doing with my running and my never-ending battle with weight. You want details. Okay, okay. Here’s the official update.

RUNNING: My running was going fairly well until ten days ago when a critical life-event in our family yanked me right down to the floor, where it still has its boot on my throat. It’s going to be this way for a while.

“For everything there is a season” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). The past couple of weeks have not been the Season of Running on Schedule. They’ve been the Season of Trying to Run Every Day and Failing Pathetically.

But just so you don’t think I’m a lost cause, my power as a runner and the disciplines I’ve developed in overcoming fatigue and keeping my emotions in check come in handy as I grapple with real life. When everyone around me is imploding and I’m tempted to cave in, a familiar feeling comes over me. I’m digging down into that wellspring of resolve that we discussed a while back. It’s the Mile Twenty Marathon Miracle Moment, when we learn first and forever to hunker down. "Quitting is NOT an option. We’re runners, doncha know! BRING IT ON!"

WEIGHT: More discussion in April. But for now, know that I’m trimming down right on schedule. I’m not rail thin. I’m not plush and Rubenesque. I’m unremarkable, longing to be remarkable ... but in a good way.

Because my running is now erratic, I’ve dropped caloric intake. Because my psyche is under intense assault, I’ve made sure that my diet supports sanity. In fact, I brushed up on my research last week when I could see bad juju coming down.

There are the obvious dietary suggestions: Easy on the caffeine. Lots of water. Fresh fruit. High quality protein. Frequent, small meals. And chocolate.

What’s this you say, Bev? Chocolate?!? Part of a Stay Sane Diet?

Oh yah. Research indicates that to stay alive in times of extreme crisis, chocolate needs to be in your lunchbox. Chocolate contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that plays a key role in producing serotonin in your brain. Serotonin reduces anxiety and modulates mood. Chocolate also releases endorphins, the runner’s well kept secret for that inexplicable, happy grin at the end of a long run. It reduces pain and triggers the perception of extreme well being. I did the math, buddy. Chocolate emulates some of the benefits of running surprisingly closely.

And I’m having no trouble buying it. It’s Easter. If you want to find Bev, just look for the woman with a milk chocolate rabbit in her pocket. If both ears are gnawed off, things aren’t going well, but I’ll be fine.

See ya on the trail. Maybe tomorrow.