For the past six days, Brent has been galavanting about the great state of Nevada, cruising the Vegas strip, hiking Red Rock Canyon, visiting the Hoover Dam, and attending a conference on the history of nuclear testing. By tonight, he was ready to come home, I was ready for him to be home, and, after a long week, we were both ready for an evening at the movies.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t head back to Philly until tomorrow night, so we decided to do the next best thing. We synched our watches and each headed to the multiplex for an evening showing of I Love You, Man. Neither of us had much interest in this movie when we originally saw the previews, but every review has been positively glowing. The Philadelphia Inquirer, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, and even Roger Ebert all fell for this bro-mantic comedy, and it got an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
So, having seen most everything else of interest, we thought this would make for the perfect virtual date. I was a little bit nervous at the prospect of sitting in a movie theater for two hours after this morning’s run, but it was worth it, as much for the charming story as for the recap Brent and I will share on the way home from the airport tomorrow night.
Oh the things we do for love.
It was a soggy morning when Bess and I headed out for our first of two 20 mile runs in preparation for the Jersey Marathon on May 3. It’s been raining on and off all week, and though the temperature was perfect, the air was thick and the puddles were deep as we set off down the path at Valley Green.
We both wanted to do something new for this one, having become a little bit bored of the usual out-and-back segment runs. And I think we managed to construct the PERFECT Philadelphia 20 miler.
We started at the northern end of Valley Green, a section of the city’s famous Fairmount Park, and ran all the way to the end of Forbidden Drive, the 5.3 mile path that parallels the Wissahickon Creek as it makes its way to the Schuylkill River. From there, we took the 1.3 mile extension, continuing along the creek over small footbridges and rolling hills, to the southern tip of Manayunk, a trendy neighborhood in northwest Philly. The tow path that connects Center City Philadelphia to Valley Forge National Park runs along the canals of Manayunk, and we followed that an additional three miles, turning around just past the ‘true’ start of the river path.
It was the ideal out-and-back – varied scenery, forgiving hills, and encounters with fitful chipmunks, hissing canadian geese, and squished frogs and snakes that weren’t so lucky in their attempts to cross the bike path. There was even a CVS on the brief stretch that we were on the road, at mile 7, and again at 13. We stopped for water on the way out, stashed it behind a tree in front of the store, and picked it up on our way back to the finish.
I sometimes wonder what I’m going to talk about with my running buddies during these long training sessions. Even with good friends, three hours can feel like a long time to keep up a conversation. Today, though, it flowed easily. Over the span of 20 miles, we found our way from family and relationships, to death and religion, to sex and traveling and quirky eating habits. You know, the important things.
We finished up in 2 hours, 54 minutes, and headed back to my house for the latest adventure in bread making. After five successful loaves in the past week and a half (four of which were distributed to family and friends), I decided to enter into the world of gluten free baking. Bess jumped on the gluten free bandwagon (or, more accurately, was forced on) a couple years ago, and when we decided earlier in the week to cap off our run with a gluten free french toast breakfast, it seemed like a fun challenge to do it from scratch.
She dropped off all of the fancy ingredients earlier in the week, and last night I set to work on wheat-free challah. I thought I had followed the recipe precisely, but fifteen minutes after I’d put everything into the bread maker, I looked in the fridge and saw an unopened container of vanilla yogurt.
Hmm… wasn’t that supposed to be in the churning machine on my counter?
I was babysitting a friend’s nine-month-old last night so that she and her husband could have a much needed evening just the two of them, and in the excitement of them dropping off the little bean, I must have added a cup of milk to the mix instead of the requisite yogurt. Oh well, I thought. It couldn’t make that much of a difference, right?
You’d think I’d have learned by now.
When the machine beeped an hour later and I went to take out the dough and braid it into the traditional challah shape, I encountered something I’d never seen before. As I described it to Bess after the fact, it sort of had the texture of pudding. Really, really sticky pudding. Maybe like pudding mixed with marshmallow fluff. Mixed with rubber cement.
I thought about just throwing it in the garbage and suggesting a diner for our post-run meal, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to put the mixture into the oven and see where it got me. I wasn’t optimistic, but I followed the directions and baked it as instructed.
And when it came out, I was pleasantly surprised. While it didn’t look quite like challah, it sure smelled like it. I let it cool and sliced off a piece, and if I hadn’t known it was gluten-free, I’d never have guessed! It was moist and golden, and though it had a little bit more of a cake-y texture than regular egg bread, it made the BEST french toast this morning. Granted, I hadn’t had french toast in about 20 years, so I didn’t have a whole lot to compare it to, but this may fast become one of my favorite post-long run breakfasts.
So, long run – check. Gluten free breakfast – check. Virtual movie date – check.
All in a day’s work.