Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Toes in the Sand: Shrimp and Broccoli with Orzo

I remember the first time I ran on the sand.  It sounds like such a romantic idea, doesn't it?  Running beside the waves lapping at your feet.  Enjoying the cool ocean breeze.  The reality?  It's hard!  The sand gives beneath your feet, and so you really have to work to not run in place.  It was probably the least rewarding run ever done as I felt as though I was running at top speed, only to look down at my GPS and realize I was running a 17 minute mile.

So you'd probably be really surprised to hear that the moment I heard about a race right on the beach I wanted to sign up.  I'm either stupid, crazy, or a glutton for punishment.

But the Surfing Madonna had a bunch of things going for it.  To begin, it was the first year the race was being run, and I'm a sucker for inaugural races.

Secondly, the race started at 12:30.  Which meant not having to get up at the crack of dawn to run.

And finally, the cause.  Like many other things in San Diego, the Surfing Madonna is a source of controversy.

 A mosaic created by Mark Patterson, the Surfing Madonna depicts just what the title implies.  It was covertly installed on an overpass by the artist - without any permission.  While it drew crowds of tourists, it was considered graffiti and removed by the City of Encinitas, and Patterson was fined.

Currently it has found a new home, and a new voice.  The Surfing Madonna Oceans Project uses the image to raise awareness of the world's oceans' issues.  And it was the Project who sponsored the race, with funds going back to the community.

Friday was overcast, cold, and frankly, a little wet.  But the sun broke free by Saturday morning, which meant a great day for a race on the beach.  One of the things I hadn't thought about was the fact that a 12:30 start time would have me racing during Thatbaby's nap time, so my usual photographer was home with our sleeping child and you're stuck with the few phone photos I took.

The race started and ended on the beach.  And the entire middle portion was also on the beach.  They started us in waves of 500.  It wasn't terribly organized, no one really checked bib numbers, but at the same time, no one really cared.  There was so much room, there wasn't any bottle-necking, and no one had to worry about weaving around slower runners.

The first mile headed north on the beach.  Because it was low tide, we were actually able to run on the harder, packed sand.  Although this also meant most of us got wet feet!   At mile 1, we hit the turnaround and the first water station.  

The second mile was headed right back toward the start.  The sand was a little less packed, since the runners heading north were closer to the water, but it still wasn't soft sand.

The last mile headed south of the finish for half a mile, then it was turn around and run back for the last .6 miles.    There was another water stop right around mile 2.

The last little bit up the finish was soft soft soft sand.  Which completely humbles you.  Because everyone is standing around the finish cheering as you try to maneuver up and through that difficult to run stuff I talked about in the very first paragraph.  Nothing like a little audience during the toughest part of the race!

My final time was nothing to brag about, in fact, I was a little disappointed.  Thatboy tried to convince me it was due to the whole "running on sand" thing, but given that most of it was hardpacked sand, I'm not sure that was much of an excuse.

It's always fitting to eat seafood after spending some time on the beach.  Kind of the "full body experience."  Especially if it's really easy to prepare, and it doesn't get much easier than shrimp.  Almost everyone knows that lemon is a go-to seafood choice, so it should be no surprise to see it here.  

Shrimp and Broccoli with Orzo
1 cup orzo
1 head of broccoli, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lemon
1/2 cup white wine
1 tbsp butter
3/4 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined

  1. Cook orzo according to package directions.  Place broccoli in colander and drain orzo over (the boiling water will cook the broccoli)
  2. Heat oil over medium heat and sauté onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
  4. Add the zest of the half lemon and juice from same lemon to pan along with wine and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the butter and cook until melted.
  6. Add the shrimp and cook about 2 minutes per side, until pink.
  7. Stir in the orzo and broccoli and serve.


  1. Running on the sand is a great toner for the legs!

  2. Even running on cement rather than pavement seems to mess with my time, so I'm sure I'd find sand SUPER humbling. What a fun race, though!

  3. Sounds like you had a great time at the event!!

  4. Running on sand is hard! I'm impressed! And this sounds super delicious. I love orzo dishes!