Thursday, March 31, 2011

There's No "I" in "RUN"

I've played team sports my entire life. It began with soccer as a wee one, then eventually in high school I moved on to Field Hockey and Lacrosse, and I sprinkled some Track and Cheerleading in there too. When I graduated on to college I remember feeling mildly depressed about losing that team atmosphere. There is just something incredibly bonding about team sports. Only your teammates can fully understand the anxiety behind the dreaded Monday Timed Mile, or understand the elation in beating an undefeated team, or cry with you when you lose your last game as a Senior. To this day some of my best friends are still the ones who shared those experiences with me. I'm on the top right with the long, blond hair.. ha! And my future sister in law is bottom right!
As an "adult," and I use that term loosely, I often find myself searching for that same sort of team camaraderie. When I began running more competitively, it scratched the itch a little bit. It was awesome to feel like I was competing again in some form. But as many will say... it's not so much whether you won or lost the big game that clings to your memory, but every day you spent working to get there. That is what was missing for me with running for a long time. Running at the gym on the treadmill just for the sole purpose of... losing weight? Getting faster? It just wasn't enough to fulfill me.

After TGB was born, I began training with some friends for National Half. Of course we had done countless runs together before, but this was the first time we would all really be training together. We all have kids and jobs and husbands and very full lives. Guaranteed the night before a workout someone was up way too late folding laundry or finishing up work or tending to a sick baby. But we all love running, so we all show up for each other no matter how early, dark, or cold it is out there. We cheer each other on, and we push one another when someone is falling a few seconds behind or having an off day. I'm a better runner because of it.

Going into National Half, I was truly happy just to be racing with many of my "teammates." Even two who were benched for injuries made the long trek out to DC just to cheer us on. I ran with my friend close to the entire time, and we kept track of one another, making sure we didn't go out too fast, or exert too much energy on the hills, or give up during those last painful and crucial miles. It really was a team effort. And my team extends far beyond the girls I run with... my husband who stayed at home with a sprained ankle and three kids so I could race, and of course the Man Upstairs who continually blesses me with good health, good friends, and a great family.

My time was 1:35. I'm thrilled about it. It was the smartest run I'd ever raced. It was the fastest half I'd ever raced. But I'd be lying if I said I did it all on my own. The best thing about the whole experience was not race day at all, but the lifelong friendships I strengthened along the way.

Okay... are you dying to know how this ties into food?? At my cooking shows lately I've been applying this same team concept. It's just way more fun to break into teams and get hands-on with the recipes then sit there are watch me drone on all night (because clearly, I can talk). Here's one of everyone's favorites. Super easy to make and they are pretty too! Perfect for entertaining. And there are strawberries on top! So they're healthy, right?

Super Simple Strawberry Brownie Bites

Chocolate Brownie Mix (plus eggs and vegetable oil)

Baker's Joy or some type of Cooking Spray with Flour

1 pint of strawberries

1 cup of white chocolate chips

1 tsp sugar

Make brownies according to package directions
Add 1 cup of white chocolate chips. Why white? No reason except I felt like it.
Spray the tins with the Baking Spray
Use a small scoop to fill 1 tablespoon into each tin

Now, one package of Brownie mix should fill 48 tins, but if you love brownie batter and you only had leftover eggs and grilled cheese crusts to eat all day, you might end up with a few less.

Pop in the 350 oven for 12 minutes max. In the meantime, get the strawberries ready. By the way strawberries at Harris Teeter are something ridiculous like buy 1 get 2 free. Strawberry season is fast approaching! From May to June, they should be available locally, and will most likely be on sale at every store.
Anyway I took the tops off and put them in my Manual Food Processor. A food chopper would work well too.
Chop them up til they are pretty small
Remove the blade and add 1 tsp of sugar
stir it up and they will get kind of syrupy
When the brownies come out, use a Tart Shaper or the flip side of your scoop to press a dent into the tops of each brownie It's easiest to do this while they are still warm! If they start to stick to the scoop, dust it lightly with flour.
Move them to a platter
Then use the scoop to spoon in enough so that the strawberries fill the tops.

So easy, and so pretty! And I didn't feel bad letting the boys gobble them up since at least there was some fruit involved. :)


The Longendyke Family said...

A) You are awesome. B) Thank you for posting this, because I need these in my life again. and C) I'm so happy that someone else considers grilled cheese crust a meal. I'm especially happy when I can actually get some cheese. :)

The Samson Family said...

that was such a team effort! it was no easy task, but we did it!!! I love having such a supportive group of girls, and you're right there's no "i" in run :):)

also LOVE these brownie bites, the little size is dangerous. I think I popped 5 hehe

Christine Bilek said...

Congrats on your latest race, you ladies never cease to amaze me!

The brownie bites are so much trouble...I lost count of how many I popped at my party...yum! :)

Anonymous said...

Hang on, this is baking!?! They look delicious and very easy!

You are running sooo fast! Payoff for all the hard work. Looking forward to seeing (the back of) you on the track this summer!

Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal said...

Thanks for this post! I know most people think that running is an individual sport, which yes at times it is, but I think we can only run the times we run with the help of our teammates. Our friends, our family, our husbands and kids.

I want you to know that when you girls left me in the bathroom line I got a little teary eyed. You didn't tell those ladies that you had just had a baby or that Meredith had or that all of you girls are equally as awesome and work just as hard or harder than I do.

You said 'she just had a baby and is running the full marathon - we like to brag about her' Even writing this I'm getting teary eyed. I love it so much that before one of the best races of your life you were taking the time to encourage me and brag about me. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be an athlete that anyone would or could brag about.

Love you hungry mom!