Every year I come home from Paducah, and have to play catch up. Literally and figuratively.
Literally, last week, some running club friends and I made the trek to Bethlehem, PA where we all were baptized into cross-country running at the USATF XC National Championships. They were held at Lehigh University which has some of the nicest xc trails in the nation. Or so I’ve been told. Repeatedly. By the Lehigh folks I know. Often.
What was I thinking?
There were women’s and men’s masters races and women’s and men’s open. Luckily for me, we had enough folks to field a women’s master’s team. Even luckier, we got to wear a number with our ages on our backs. Like a target. It was at this point I realized I wasn’t in Kansas any longer.
We had to line up in our square starting block for uniform and shoe check. And then we were off. Or at least all the other runners were off. Apparently I didn’t hear the gun.
The Master’s women’s race was 6km, with some rolling hills. The trails were groomed and really nice. As in you didn’t need special shoes. Which is good because I didn’t have those. I felt as though I was moving along at a nice clip, but I was most definitely bringing up the rear. Master’s women are FAST! Within the last 400m, with the finish line in sight, I surged ahead of a woman with a 50 number pinned to her back. She had been in my sight the entire race. I was feeling pretty good about passing her until a very spright woman with a 65 number on her back just zoomed right by me! With only meters to go! I totally justified it in my head this way: “well, even though my number says 45, I’m much closer to 50, and maybe her birthday was yesterday, so she’s not 20 years older than me, it’s only more like 11, and that’s ok.” Incredible the crap that runs through your head with only 200m to go.
Anyway, since it was my first 6k, it’s an automatic PR–my time was a respectable 32:20 (8:40 pace, thank you very much). That landed me squarely 3rd to last in my age group, and 38th from last in the entire field. I should be pleased. It wasn’t so long ago that it took me 32 minutes to run a 5k. Instead, though, I felt a bit like a poser. All these folks are Very Serious about their sport. The silver lining? No one in the women’s masters race wore those teeny tiny bikini racing shorts. The women’s open? That’s a different story.
Figuratively, my Christmas cookie-baking time was seriously compromised. Honestly, while I love baking, I’m not so much a fan of baking Christmas cookies; they’re a bit too fussy (all that rolling out and decorating) for my liking. This year, though, I found a booklet published by one of my most-trusted sources (America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Illustrated), and I thought I’d give some of the recipes a whirl. Thing 3 and I painstakingly went through the booklet and found 13 recipes that passed the “not too fussy, looks delicious” test.
We started on Tuesday, making the stained glass (stars) and chocolate butter with salted caramel. Those were all gone on Wednesday, so Thursday I revved up the KitchenAid for round 2: chocolate molasses, 7 layer bars, oatmeal lace, and red velvet.
I know you’re looking at the picture thinking “there are no red velvet cookies in that picture.”
And you are right. Because I didn’t have red food coloring. Thing 1 had used it up earlier in the year. And I was not about to make yet another trip to the store for one ingredient, so I opted for green.
Green cookies is a good idea in theory. Not so much in practice. The Mister was appalled when he saw them on the cooling rack. Understanding the color could be off-putting, which would result in some serious PR maneuvering, this morning, as I was frosting them, I gave them a new name. No, not “green velvet.” That would be silly. They are heretofore to be known as Grinches. And just by virtue of their name, they’ve made their way into our cookie lexicon forever more.
I think I’ve caught up.