Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Butter Made Me Do It

Two summers ago, I started running.

I was laid off from my job, and—having no clue what to do next—I went through a bit of a quarter life crisis. So I channeled all of my creative energy into cooking and starting this blog, and all of my physical energy into running. That summer I ran my first race—the Ragnar Relay. Ragnar is a 24 hour, 187 mile team relay race, starting in Blaine (near the Canadian border) and ending on Whidbey Island. Each team has 12 people, who each run 3 legs of the race. That first year, my three legs added up to a total of 11 miles. I had never accomplished a physical feat like that. Then last summer, I ran my first half marathon, and completed my second Ragnar Relay—my legs adding up to over 17 miles.

I still wouldn’t say that I’m an amazing runner—it doesn’t come easy to me. It’s really hard, actually. But I love the way it feels to physically and mentally push myself further each time. This summer, I really pushed myself. It’s crazy what the human body and mind can do. I ran my second half marathon in June, and my third Ragnar Relay in July. The night before Ragnar, when I was packing my running pants and Cliff bars, I tripped over a suitcase—my toe got caught inside of it, and rest of me kept going. The pain in my foot was so intense that I couldn't stand for several minutes. The next thing I knew, my toe was twice the size it was supposed to be, and I couldn’t put weight on it. I had fifteen miles to run in the next 24 hours.

I switched my first leg with a teammate—limping through his 3 and a half mile run, instead of the six and a half miler I was supposed to do. Then, at 2AM, I had no choice but to run my second leg—five and half miles, straight up hill. It was miserable. I actually cried while I was running. Partially because I was pissed that people were passing me, but mostly because my foot really, really hurt. On my third leg, I knew that I had a bucket of ice and lots of rest ahead of me, so I pushed it, hard, and ran through the pain. My foot hurt so bad after that race, that I’ve stayed off of it since. The pain, and the fear of injuring myself further (with another half marathon just two months away), have kept me from running. Not only that, once you take time off, even just a few weeks, it’s difficult to get back in it.  Ya need a little push.

Today, I got the push I needed…in the form of butter. Lots and lots of butter. So much butter that I was more than motivated to put on my running shoes and give it a go. My foot’s still not healed, but thanks to Sasha, of Global Table Adventures, I got my groove back… or at least consumed so much butter when I made her Salvadoran Breakfast Cakes, that not running wasn’t an option.

Sasha’s cakes, known as quesadillas in El Salvador, are like buttery muffins—tender, light, and dense all at once. They’re sweet, but also tangy from sour cream, and nutty from parmesan cheese and the crunchy sesame seed topping. She recommends serving them with coffee, which I think is more of a requirement than a recommendation—a hot cup of bold, black coffee is exactly what you need to cut through the richness of the cakes. I would also suggest letting them cool to room temperature—at least an hour—before eating. Otherwise they’ll be so buttery that the requisite cup of coffee will slip right through your hands.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget that post-cake run.

PS. They’re also gluten free! See link above for the recipe.
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