Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year's Day Half-Marathon

A few weeks ago, I was mulling over my race plans for the next year and wondering why there wasn't anything more than 5K or 10K's until March. Then the heavens opened and I received a tip via Facebook about a New Years Day Half-Marathon. I checked it out and sent in my check for $15.

It's the first time the event has been held and they are going "bare-bones" this year just to get the word out and cover the cost of the finisher medal. There won't be any official race timing and no aid stations, although they have convinced the city to open restrooms and turn on the drinking fountains at various parks along the course.

On the flip-side to this is the massive snow storm that is occurring as I type. This will be followed by arctic air on Friday and Saturday. Race time temperature will be somewhere around 12 degrees...making for a cold race. My wife told me the other day that she would normally be at the finish to cheer me on, but that this time she's going to pass and she'll be at home with hot chocolate when I come home.

I'm wondering if my choice in races needs some adjustment. I do have cold-weather gear and I go out regularly in the cold, but not when it is that cold.

Despite the weather conditions, I'm excited to be running something more than the 6-10 miles i've been doing on my long runs lately. I also sent in my money so I'm not starting 2011 off by paying for a DNS. I planned on ramping up my training starting in January so this is a perfect start...if I don't freeze.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Great Shot Blok Experiment: Granola Bars

What better gift than a homemade one? My mother always told me that it was the "thought" that counts not how well it looked or tasted. I think that was her kind way of saying that I should never go into a food related field of study.

My Shot Blok Experiments would probably fall under that category in her mind, but as a runner I consider it a worthy challenge. Besides, what else would I be doing during the winter...?

Homemade Granola Bars (Take 2)
I say take two because I attempted these before with a "chewy" granola bar recipe. I followed the recipe meticulously, yet they could have chiseled down used as shrapnel.

I did another search and came across yet another "chewy" granola bar recipe. The author of this recipe raved about the "chewiness" of this recipe and how they were the "favorite" in her family. I took this as a hopeful sign.

In one bowl I measured out my ingredients.

On a separate cutting board I took out several Shot Bloks.
Interesting note. Shot bloks are much easier to cut into small pieces when they are fresh out of the package. I had a few that had been in a half-opened package that were very hard. 

Also, the recipe called for mixed nuts, chocolate chips and dried fruit. The Shot Bloks became the dried fruit (Crann-Razz flavor). I was out of nuts of any kind except for some Jerk flavored peanuts. I stuck them in a strainer and rinsed them until the water ran clear in an effort to eliminate the Jerk Flavor. They only had a small aftertaste left...I figure that was ok.

I scattered the Shot Bloks throughout the mix and mixed all the ingredients together paying special note to get the Shot Bloks coated so they wouldn't clump together.
After mixing all the dry ingredients, I added Peanut Butter, Corn Syrup and a little water. Then I pressed the mixture into a well-greased baking pan.

The finished result after cooling was this. The dark bits in the granola bar are a combination of chocolate chips and Shot Bloks. The final test came after allowing them to cool. Would I be scheduling a dentist appointment or offering them out to my friends at races? 
My children were noticeably absent when they saw me pull out the Shot Bloks. I guess they have had enough with being the first to taste them.

The Jerk seasoning combined with peanut butter offers an interesting flavor combination. Probably not something I would recommend. The Shot Bloks are still chewy and compliments the chocolate chips that are scattered throughout.

They texture is significantly more chewy that previous efforts, but they do harden up when refrigerated.

I'm going to call this latest experiment a success.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An Emergency Morning

"I was this close (holding thumb and finger close together) to have to call 911." The 911 call would have gone something like this...

911: 911 what's your emergency? (Maybe they don't say this...i've never called)
Me: Yes...I've got an emergency....(almost in tears and breathing rapidly)...I've.. run out of Ho...ot Choc...olate...
911: We're dispatching a team right now. Do you prefer the Swiss Miss with mini-marshmallows or Regular?
Me: (breathing more regularly now)...marsh..mallows...thank you


If this were an OnStar moment it would go something like this:

My phone: Ring, buzz, ring buzz, ring
Me: wondering what the ringing and buzzing is and thinking it's my ears again...oh wait, it's my cell phone.
Me: (breathing shallow and rapidly)
Onstar: Mr. Hawkes
Me: u...u....I have...oh wait, yeah..that..' dad...
Onstar: We noticed that you're Hot Chocolate emergency supply has run everything ok?
Me:'re Onstar and you're calling me about my hot cocoa?
Onstar: Yes sir, it was the optional feature you signed up for last year that you've paying $19.95 extra per month to get....
Me: Wow....well, ok. Yeah my hot restockanditsall OUT!
Onstar: We've called the Albertsons delivery service and they're on the way. Do you want me to stay on the line with you?
Me: No..I'll be ok..I hear the doorbell now...thank you...

This totally took me by surprise. I knew we were out of the regular supply, but I thought the emergency supply was still in place safely behind the "In Case of Emergency" glass. Costco was out. They didn't even have the crappy Sugar-free junk**

I ran 4 miles yesterday and figured we'd make it through until the weekend.

It was a cold winter's night. Yesterday, the temperature hit 53 degree and I got a good four miles in. Today,  we received 2 inches of snow. It was definitely time to get the Cocoa going for a cold morning after clearing the walks. I went to the garage to get the cocoa and .......


Good thing we had some Alpine Cider or there would have been a full-on panic.

***It's hot chocolate. Sugar-free? Like no-sugar is really going to make a difference. It's not a health food drink. Like my doctor is going to say, "eat more vegetables and lay off the hot cocoa." It's kind of a chocolate is not a V8.