Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wedding Wars

Top Chef started with a little bit of mourning for our fallen hero, Mark the Kiwi. Then mean ol' Tom surprised the chefs at the quickfire...the dreaded relay prep race. I love monkfish, aka poor man's lobster, but man is that one ugly looking fish. So ugly that it's kind of pretty, actually. Dale's outburst at the end of the challenge reminded me of a time or two that I punched my locker in high school because I was pissed off about getting detention or something. Or the time a few months ago when I punched a door because Des was needling me.
Padma also disappointed by proclaiming a moratorium on Restaurant Wars for the season, in favor of Wedding Wars. Pretty bold move on the part of the bride and groom I guess, but a pretty lousy reward for winning the quickfire...the winning team got to choose whether to cater to the bride or the groom. Big deal. Were they given any clue as to which one had more challenging tastes or who would be most difficult to deal with? It didn't appear so. I don't see how that was such an 'important advantage' for the winners considering immunity was kaput.
The coolest part about Wedding Wars was the all-nighter the chefs were forced to endure, kind of like a spiritual journey inward, only less miles traversed. But a heck of a lot more food prepared. I'd like to try a brisket that was cooking for 24 hours, I bet it would fall apart when you tapped it with a fork.
Around 10:55 I remembered that this was an extra long episode, and the glass of wine I had with dinner had me feeling like I pulled an all-nighter...OK, maybe not really. But I'm ready for the judge's table.
So how about my main man Richard deferring the big win to Stephanie for her wedding cake heroics? Pretty classy move...maybe a little too classy. As it turned out, the judges liked the other team's cake better (not so much its look, but its flavor).
Dale and Spike got into a little spat at the judge's table, and I can't wait to read David Dust's description.
I personally didn't hate Nikki as much as everyone else seemed to, but I can definitely see why she deserved to go home. She didn't display the kind of leadership that a top chef needs to show. Yeah, pretty heavy stuff.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

10 miles of rawesomeness

Desiree talked me into running the Broad Street Run this year. Her aunt and her cousin's fiancee decided to run it, and so she thought it was fitting that we would run it too, since after all, a 10 mile run has nothing on the triathlon she finished last year.
Well, I probably should have known how that would end, considering Des has been ultra swamped with school work the past few months and had no time to train. So I ended up training for it and ran it this morning.

I woke up at 5:45 this morning and met my neighbor, Paul, who I rode down to the sports complex with...traffic was worse than game traffic, and kind of surprising because with an estimated 18,000 runners, we were no where near the same capacity as any of the stadiums. I guess not many people took public transportation or carpooled. Bummer for the environment.
After parking outside the spectrum, we took a quick pitstop at the porta-potties, and hopped on the subway up to the start of the race. We made our way to the 8-minute pace zone of the staging area, which was a bit faster than I ever thought I would run the race. Honestly, when I first started training I was only looking for a 10-minute pace which would have put me at 100 minutes. But Paul's previous 3 years experience of running the race told him that nobody lines up properly and we'd be weaving our way through walls of slower runners regardless.
Well, after a few brief speeches, including one from Mix Master Mike himself, Mayor Nutter, Paul's prediction proved correct. It took about 2 and a half minutes to even make it to the starting line after the horn sounded due to the 22,000 final count of runners, and hordes of them that were in front of us didn't seem to be in any kind of hurry.
The race starts in North Philly straight down Broad Street, and the first few miles go through some neighborhoods that have been hit pretty hard with some urban blight. But the residents who came out to cheer the runners on represented their neighborhoods well, dressed in their Sunday finest. Good people, and the encouragement was welcomed by all.
I remember hitting the 1 mile mark kind of surprised at how quick it came up, and then not seeing another mile marker until mile 4. I thought, 'does that mean I just ran 4 miles, or I am starting the fourth mile?' All this before I really started flagging.
It was a foggy morning, and the top of the Comcast tower in center city disappeared into the clouds. Not long after, larger pockets of spectators began to appear, and the first of two Stevie Ray Vaughn cover bands were jamming a bit south of Temple University. The race was over halfway complete by the time I passed the second one near City Hall.
South of City Hall was where the course started getting congested again, and I started to feel the fatigue a little.
There were a few other bands along the way, including a Polish folk four piece who played the Navy anthem, Anchors Aweigh, as I passed. That got me worked up until about the time I reached the sports complex again, and by now the sun was out and the sky was clear. The Rocky theme played over a PA somewhere, and I knew I was getting close. I missed a lot of the mile markers, presumably in an internal daze, but it was right around the 8 mile mark that I started hitting a wall. My vision was tunneling a little narrow and a few runners were falling out around me, but I wasn't going to stop for anything.
Soon enough, the 9 mile mark appeared, and the crowds were cheering and banging cowbells. I knew that the entrance to the Navy yard meant only a quarter mile to go, so I took off in a weak sprint, almost knocking somebody over trying to break through a gap in a wall of runners.

I reached the end of the race with a chip time of about 1 hour and 23 minutes, so I ended up with about an 8 minute and 20 second pace...far kicking the rear of the pace I was going after. Woo-hoo!