Chasing Boston (part 3 – July training recap)

Screenshot (19)If you’re not a runner, you’ll most likely find this post really boring. Go ahead and skip right over it – I won’t mind.

Fact is, you may this post boring even if you are a runner. Other people’s training logs are not exactly scintillating reading. It can be a little bit interesting to peek at the training of an elite runner, if only to marvel at their mileage and the grueling workouts they sustain. And it can be interesting, in a perverse way, to see the training of someone who’s a complete slacker. Their 20-mile weeks allow you to feel quietly superior* as you shake your head and cluck your tongue over the world of pain that awaits them.

I fall in neither category: I’m just a middle-aged woman who’d like to run Boston as an age-grouper. It doesn’t get more boring than that. Continue reading


Chasing Boston (part 2 – marathon vices and virtues)

Just some of my marathon vices

Just some of my marathon vices

At last year’s New York City Marathon, I missed my Boston qualifying time by five minutes.  Almost immediately – after that first crabwalk down the subway stairs at 72nd street, after the ice bath that reduced me to soft whimpers and the non-restful non-nap that followed, but before my first celebratory beer – I wanted a do-over. A mulligan marathon.

The heartbreaking thing about marathons is that if you screw one up, it will be months before you can try it again. (I mean “try it again” in the sense of racing one, not jogging an event to enjoy the spectacle along the course, or as a training run for an ultra – and hats off to you endurance monsters who can do things like that, because I certainly couldn’t.)  If you’re an older runner, like me, you’ll need a month, minimum, to recover from your last race. Another month to get back to some semblance of your running routine. Another three months or so to ramp your training back up.

Add to that the logistics of finding a race aligned with your training calendar (not to mention the rest of your life) and, well, you will have plenty of time to ponder your marathon training vices. In my case, that means birds, booze and blogging. Continue reading

Chasing Boston (part 1: why)

Screenshot (18)Once upon a time, I didn’t care about running the Boston Marathon.

I had my reasons. There was my New York chauvinism (even back then, when I lived in Detroit): the New York City Marathon is just a better race, I declared, before I’d run either one. There was my desire to seem quirky and iconoclastic, gleefully puncturing the assumption that I had run, or at least aspired to run, Boston (“Boston? Nah, for some reason I’ve never been interested. What I really want to run is the Around the Bay 30K in Hamilton, Ontario. Did you know that race is actually older than Boston?”). There was my aversion to training hard through the Michigan winter. And, I’m ashamed to admit, there was snobbery. Weren’t those vaunted Boston qualifying standards a little, well, soft?

In my not-so-youthful arrogance, with two Boston-qualifying races to my name, I figured that if I ever changed my mind, I could always shuffle my way to another BQ. The standards just get easier with age, after all, and I had plenty of time.

Then came my cancer year. Continue reading

Cool treats for the Brooklyn summer: lychee slushie

Lychee slushee and honeydew milk tea (go for the slushie if you dare - it's better as well as colder)

Lychee slushee and honeydew milk tea (go for the slushie if you dare – it’s better as well as colder)

Warning: do not try this when the day is less than sweltering. Avoid air conditioning while consuming. Counter-indicated for individuals with a history of sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia (popularly known as “brain freeze”).

It is cold, so cold. And good, so good.

I got mine at a tea house on 8th avenue in Sunset Park (Ten Ren’s Tea Time, to be precise). On the menu, it’s listed as “shredded ice” (not to be confused with Taiwanese shaved ice, which is a whole nother treat); on the video screen that flashes a rotating display of menu items, it and its many-flavored brethren are labeled “slushies.”

Whatever. It consists of a whole bunch of ice pulverized (shredded?) in a blender with flavored syrup, then poured over tapioca bubbles.

I got a regular ($4 for 12 oz); I think a double ($6 for 24 oz) could lead to frostbite. Did I mention how cold this was?

Ten Ren, by the way, is a Taiwan-based chain that sells tea and various herbal products, elegantly packaged. Once you get past the long line and whirring blenders at the front of the shop, the atmosphere is positively serene. It made me want to start drinking more tea.

Featured in this post:

Ten Ren’s Tea Time, 5817 8th Ave., Sunset Park, Brooklyn 11220

Cool treats for the Brooklyn summer: chamoyada

IMG_3336 (4)To mark the start of July, a new series: icy treats from Brooklyn’s neighborhoods.

We’re kicking things off with chamoyada. This one – an explosion of orange and magenta, overflowing its chili-coated plastic cup to leave you sticky-fingered – comes from El Comal Juguería y Taquería on 5th Avenue (47th/48th) in Sunset Park.

“Is this your first time?” the guy working the counter asked, after I placed my order. (How did he know?) “I hope you like it.”

Oh, I did. My mango version included mango ice (with brain-freezingly cold chunks of frozen fruit); the briny, sweet-spicy sauce called chamoy (from whence the name); a chili-tamarind straw; and strips of dried mango dusted with chili seasoning.

And no, that’s not a cherry on top. It’s a chili-tamarind candy, and it was delicious.