T-4 days until the Marathon

The average daily temperature in Madison has been about 40 degrees, sometimes cooler during the time that I have been out running.  There were even a few flakes of snow when I was out doing 13 miles two weeks ago.

This coming Sunday, the temperature in DC is forecast to be 62.  I am in so much trouble.

When ultrarunners are training for some of the more extreme races (races like the Badwater which goes through Death Valley, CA, or the Western States, which is known for its temperature extremes), they do what’s called heat training – wearing long sleeves and trousers even in warm conditions, sitting in saunas, driving around with the heater on (during the summer, mind).  The idea is to raise your core temperature up to what it might be during the event so you can start to get used to it.

When I first realized what the temperature differential was going to be, I started trying to do something similar – running in long sleeves, a sweatshirt, and tights even when the weather was in the 50s and I didn’t really need these accouterments.  But when it’s 35 degrees out (thank you, bank clock in Verona), will the concept really work?

I suppose we’ll find out on Sunday.  I have a couple of advantages working for me: I have a strong base, having run about 40-50 miles per week since January, and I acclimate to heat a lot more readily than most people.  My goal is to come in right around the 4 hour mark, but finishing at all will be great.

I think in general it should be a better race than last year.  Here’s hoping, anyway.  We fly out Friday morning.  Wish me luck!

Apple Muffins

This worked surprisingly well…there were a few glitches, all my fault.

Recipe from here with some alterations (most notably the egg was omitted, other changes are bolded, compare to original recipe).

Makes 18.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • a pinch of ginger and pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup margarine (I use yoghurt-based margarine so I won’t die of trans-fats)
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar omitted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten omitted
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 large apples, peeled, cored, and chopped

Methodology

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Grease muffin tin.
  2. Mix dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices).
  3. Cream together the margarine and 1/2 cup brown sugar (setting the other 1/4 c. aside).  Add buttermilk and mix, not too hard.
  4. Add dry into wet, adding more buttermilk to thin batter as needed.  Mix in apple pieces.
  5. Spoon about 1/3 c. of batter into each muffin compartment on the muffin sheet*.  Sprinkle a little of the remaining brown sugar on top of each one.  These don’t rise much, so don’t be afraid to fill the muffins pretty full.
  6. Bake 10 minutes at 450 F, then reduce temperature to 400 F and bake another 5 minutes or so.  Let the muffins cool for a while (10-15 min?) before removing them, since they will be fragile until cooled.

Notes

  • I wanted to use up some apples, so I doubled the apples in the recipe without doubling the rest of the recipe.  That was a mistake…there was so much apple that the muffin part didn’t hold together well, especially when I first took them out of the oven.  So I would say if you want to use more apples, make a 1 1/2 batch, not a single.  That would probably handle the additional 2 apples well.
  • Leaving out the egg was not a problem.  Usually in quick breads and stuff that uses buttermilk, eggs aren’t really necessary.
    And I don’t really cook with them much, so I didn’t feel like buying any, since if I bought half a dozen eggs, five of them would wind up sitting around.  This did fine with just buttermilk.
  • Also, the reduced sugar was good.  They were more breakfast-y muffins, not really the tiny apple cakes I’d been hoping for.  Next time if I’m making these for dessert, I might add a little more sugar.  But the apples are so sweet it hardly needs it.  I guess it’s dumb for me to complain that something is too healthy.

*Is there a better name for this?

Becoming an Anarchist

Perhaps I shouldn’t say “becoming”, because according to this, I already am one:

“Concerning the family relation, the anarchists believe that civil marriage should be abolished and ‘autonomic’ marriage substituted. This means that contracting parties should agree to live together as long as it seems best to do so, and that the partnership should be dissolved whenever either one desires it. Still, they would give the freest possible play to love and honor as restraining motives. They claim that ultimately, by this policy, the marriage relation would be purified and made much more permanent than it is to-day. They are ‘free lovers,’ but not in the sense of favoring promiscuity of the sexes. They hope to idealize the marriage relation and bring it under the régime of perfect liberty.” (p. 20)

Socialism and Anarchism: dissertation in partial fulfillment of the conditions necessary for the attainment of the degree of doctor of philosophy, school of political science, Columbia College. Herbert Levi Osgood, A. M., Selgman Fellow. Ginn & Company, Publishers: Boston, USA and London, 1889. [ The book contains a reprint of Political Science Quarterly, March 1889. Vol. IV, no. 1., where I believe this was first published.]

It’s funny how political rhetoric shifts over time, isn’t it?

Madison Photos

I really like Madison in the spring.  Summer is also decent – clear skys, and I can usually deal with the heat while running, so that’s not a big deal.  Autumn is gorgeous in the upper midwest.  But winter is tough, especially if you’re like me and cold all the time.  So I decided to start taking some photos of Madison to remind me why I live here (besides being engaged to a guy who lives here, I mean).  Also, it gives me a chance to practice my photography.

A statue in front of the Kohl Center, by evening.
A statue in front of the Kohl Center, by evening.

I took this one Wednesday night on my way back from lecture.  Taking photos at night is difficult because my hands shake, but it came out well after I messed with the settings a bit.

Translation Practice

One of the better parts of my job* is that it brings me into contact with a lot of random old books.  The other day, while going though an aging periodical, I found a Mark Twain quip, and decided to translate it and post it for the edification of my readers.  I don’t speak Spanish, but I’m pretty good in French, so I could fake my way through with a dictionary.  I’m not going to call it my “weekly” translation practice, because who knows how often opportunities like this will come up, but whenever I find interesting quotes that need translation I’ll throw them up here.

The really interesting thing about the journal I pulled this story from, by the way, is that it was a literary journal published out of Havana, Cuba, in the early 1930s (I saw issues from 1932 and 1933).  I also saw an ad for the Parker Duofold fountain pen.  Pretty cool stuff.


Uno del pescado

Un escritor, más vacío de mollera que discreto, le preguntaba al gran humorist Mark Twain, entra otras cosas, si era eficaz, para el desarrollo de la inteligencia, comer mucho pescado.

Mark Twain le repondió:

-Sí, mi querido señor; el consumo del pescado, por efeto del fósforo que contiene, es excelente para el cerebro.  En el caso de usted, calcule que con dos o tres tiburones, aunque no sean de los grandes, bastarán por el momento.

(Cervantes: Revista Mensual Ilustrada, Abril, 1933, Núm. 4, p. 20)

One of the fish

A writer, more vacuous of head than discreet, asked the great humorist Mark Twain, among other things, if it was effective, for developing intelligence, to eat a lot of fish.

Mark Twain responded,

-Yes, my dear sir; the consumption of fish, for the effect of the phosphorus it contains, is excellent for the brain.  In your case, I calculate that two or three sharks, even if they are not the biggest ones, will be enough for the moment.

Cervantes: Illustrated Monthly Journal, April, 1933, Number 4, page 20


*One of my jobs, I guess.

Apple Pie

After reading close to 600 pages of stuff about libraries in the past three weeks, I’ve gotten a little tired of spending my every waking moment thinking about literacy, archives, and the information society.  Fortunately, my future in laws brought us approximately 10 lbs of apples the other day (my fiance B. has given away at least 30 apples and not made a dent in them), so to help clear us of this mess I made a pie.

This recipe was made partially out of this one from my brother and his fiancee’s blog, and partly out of this one from All Recipes.com.  Because there is a limit to how much time I have to spend on this, I used a pre-made pie crust.  It came in a box at the grocery store and made this basically the easiest thing ever.

Ingredients

  • 5 apples (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 nectarine (peeled and sliced)
  • the juice of 1/2 orange
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, and salt
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 3 T. flour

Methodology

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Futz with the pie crust.  Don’t pre-bake – you’ll want a bottom crust with enough dough left over to do a lattice on top.
  3. Peel, core, and slice the apples and nectarine.  Mix in a bowl and squeeze orange juice over them.  Heap in the bottom of the pie crust and put the lattice over it.
  4. Melt the butter in the pan.  Add the brown sugar, water, and flour.  Add the spices (in an amount which might be described as “some”, probably about 1 tsp of each, but I wasn’t really measuring.
  5. Pour the sugar mixture over the pie.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.  Turn oven down to 350 and bake for another 30 minutes.

Q: How was it?

A: Delicious.  It looked a little soupy, and I think I would cut the amount of liquid (butter+water) and maybe even add some corn starch, but it tasted phenominal.  B agreed.

Edited to add: it wasn’t soupy at all the next day.

Pretty cool, huh?

Running in Outer Space

“…If I travel but four foot by the squier
further afoot, I shall break my wind.”

–Falstaff (1 Henry IV: II, ii)

You can stop at red lights, but then keep running again when they turn green.
You can stop at red lights, but then keep running again when they turn green.

I ran 20 miles this morning.

There’s something weighty about the distance itself, quite apart from the pain it inflicts.  Twenty is such a large, round number, a distance often driven and rarely traveled afoot.  In America, where people rarely put shoe leather to paving stones, I doubt most people understand how far 20 miles actually is.  I wonder if three hundred years ago most people would have known someone who lived farther than, say, 50 miles away.  And yet it’s a requirement of modern society that we be able to travel and communicate across these distances at great speeds on a daily basis.

For fun, take a look at these two graphs:

Total Milage per Week 2008
Total Mileage per Week 2008

This is a graph of my total mileage from 2008 with three points marked:

C: The week I injured my ankle and had to take several days off (this follows a half marathon and my black belt test, so I’d been putting it through the wringer).  My marathon training really began after this.

A: My peak of 64.1 miles, reached the week of 31 August.  Also the week before I met the guy who’s now my fiancé.  Coincidence?

B: The week of the marathon.  I ran 42.5 miles that week, though a little more than half of that was the marathon itself.  This is because I don’t know how to turn it off, even when I’m supposed to be relaxing.

Training for 2009
Training for 2009

My average weekly mileage is a lot higher, although my long runs are generally shorter (I’ve only done one twenty-miler so far, compared with four before the marathon last year).  I’m also doing a lot of speed work (it helps that my training partner is working on improving his 10k time), so my runs are getting faster (instead of the 12 minute miles I was running in 08, I’m doing mostly 10s and 11s with a handful of 9.5s thrown in – a marked improvement for me).

Although I’ve been running for years, I’ve only really been doing serious distance since Fall 2007 (when I ran my first 10k).  It’s really interesting to see how my running has changed over time.  I’ve been routinely hitting close to 50 miles per week for half the year (my standing goal is “at least 36”).  I’ve also noticed that while my absolute minimum for a run (that is, the minimum I had to run to feel okay) used to be about 5 miles, now it’s between 6 and 7 miles.  Any more and  this is going to start cutting into my life a lot…I guess it’s a good thing I’m getting faster.

The marathon is 25 October, a little more than a month from now.  I think I’m ready.