Well, we have officially entered racing season! Starting last week, I have a race almost every weekend till the middle of August.
Last weekend's race was "special" because it was my first "marathon." I'm using quotes generously because honestly, a marathon is an amazing accomplishment and I don't want to take away from people who have actually run them. What I did was a "marathon" - a progressive marathon to be exact. You see, I actually ran a 5k.
When I went to sign up for the Villa Park 5k I noticed there was a progressive marathon option - before the day of the race each entrant was required to run 23.1 miles, so the last 5k would put them at 26.2 miles, the length of a marathon.
I figured I was going to be running the same 3.1 miles whether I was doing the 5k or the progressive marathon, and how often would I get the chance to run a progressive marathon? Plus, I can knock out 23.1 miles in 2 weeks, so that wasn't a problem. Progressive marathon it was!
The day of the race I showed up bright and early. The race started at a local high school track, so there were bleachers set up for Thatmom and Thatboy to hang out at. While we were sitting, a woman came up and mentioned that she had stashed her stuff in the row behind us, so we shouldn't be alarmed by the unattended stuff.
As we lined up to start, I found myself standing beside the same woman. We got to talking and found out we ran a couple of the same races (and would be running the same race this upcoming weekend). She mentioned that she had run to the race that morning instead of driving. All 4 miles.
And then the airhorn went off and we started running. And I quickly got left in the dust of my new bestie. Holy Hannah is she fast. And speaking of fast, when I hit the first mile mark, I checked my time and it was a new world record. Okay, not a new world record, but definitely my fastest mile to date - by 30 seconds!
But my finish time wasn't any kind of personal record, which was a little disappointing. But I trotted off to the progressive marathon station where they were handing out medals to those of us how had officially completed 26.2 miles.
And then my new bestie caught up with me to talk about the race. One of the coordinators of the race saw us talking, and saw my medal and came over to talk to us about how we thought it went. "You can tell a runner organized the race" my new bestie said, "because you're giving medals 5 deep in each age group." Usually races just give medals 3 deep, and my new bestie had a habit of coming in 4th. She was thrilled to be getting a medal this time around.
As for me, I've never been fast enough even come in 4th, so Thatboy and I headed to the car where Thatmom was already waiting for us, since she got too cold to hang out outside.
That evening, to celebrate my first "marathon" we went to Thatmom's new favorite restaurant. She apparently goes there once a week. The Side Door - so called, because you actually enter through a side door from the main restaurant, 5 Crowns.
Thatmom loves this place because it's small plates and we all know how much she loves small plates. The seating is eclectic. We ended up on a couch, 2 arm chairs, and eating off of a coffee table.
Thatboy and I quickly found our favorite local beer, which made us very very happy.
See those guys in the little glass window? Of course you do. There's a big red arrow by their heads. Well those are the guys the make up the cheese plates, mash the avocados, and toss the salads. I bet they get several marriage proposals a night.
We started out with the avocado mash, one of Thatmom's favorites. And it was delicious. Nothing fancy, mashed avocados, some salt, chives - but remember, sometimes simple is exactly perfect the way it is.
"Ohhhhh I love panzanella" I exclaimed.
"What's panzanella?" asked Thatmom.
"A salad, where the main component is bread."
And that's all it took to get this salad on our table. Toasted bread, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, and an herb marinated goat cheese. After we finished, Thatmom had another proclamation: "Ohhhhh I love panzanella."
We also ordered a cheese plate, and this time I stole a menu so I could tell you about these deliciously fabulous cheeses. From left to right:
Renata - a cow's milk cheese from Washington. It was supposed to be a little pungent, but we didn't think it was at all. Just creamy.
Tete de Moine - another cow's milk cheese. This 0ne was from Switzerland and was the table winner. A little nutty, with the perfect consistency and a great mouth feel because of the way it's cut to create the cool wavy pattern.
Brebicet - a French sheep's milk triple cream cheese. It was a little cool, not room temperature warm enough and was okay for a soft cheese, but not as sweet as we would have liked.
Haricots Verts with creamy ricotta and lemon basil. I was just remarking to Thatmom that there is a world of difference between fresh ricotta and store bought. I adore the fresh stuff as used in this dish. And the beans were perfectly done so they still had some crunch to them.
Thatboy's pick was the Shelton Farms Chicken Pot Pie. Thatmom and I weren't so impressed, but Thatboy really liked it. Maybe because it was his choice? We don't let him make a lot of choices himself.
My choice - The Chicken Brochetta with mole, rice, and lime. Maybe there's something about picking the dish, because this one I loved and no one else was impressed. And I'm addicted to pickled onions lately. I just can't get enough of them.
Roast Beef Cuban on Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese Bread. I suggested this, thinking it would be something Thatboy and I would like, but expected it to get vetoed by Thatmom. But she was game to try it. We were all very happy we did. The roast beef at the main restaurant is known for being fabulous, and it was clear this translated into excellent roast beef sandwiches. I've never had a cuban sandwich with roast beef, but it worked SO well.
And that was the end of my race weekend, or so I thought. On Monday I got an email from the race director with a link to our official times, and I went to check it out to see the difference between my finish time and my chip time. Then I went to see how my new bestie did (other than being 6 minutes faster than me). And I noticed something funny. My name. Listed as the 5th place finisher for my age group. (Remember how I said they were giving medals 5 deep?) Later this week I got a fun envelope in the mail containing not one, but 2 shiny new medals to add to my Progressive Marathon Medal! One for being a top finisher in the 5k, and the other my 5th place medal!