By John Ruberry

“Get up off your arses men
Don’t let ’em think you’re getting lazy
Get up out of your easy chairs
We gotta lot to do out there, well ain’t we.”
The Kinks, “Get Up.”

My Sunday post here is a bit late because this morning I ran a race–my first one since the 2010 Chicago Marathon.

I’ve been running ten miles a day four times a week for a couple of months now, so I’m in pretty good shape.

Although not race shape.

I had to drastically cut down my running eight years ago because of a torn meniscus in my right knee paired with a stress fracture on my fight fibula.

Clearly I lean to the right.

So what race did I choose for my comeback? The World’s Largest Corn Maze 5K at the Richardson Farm in Spring Grove, Illinois, just a few miles south of the Wisconsin border.

The race course has 250 turns. That’s over 80 turns per-mile. Wow. What a great way to re-tear a meniscus.

Even in Illinois few people are paying attention, so you probably didn’t know that this is the Land of Lincoln’s bicentennial year. Illinois’ 200th birthday was the theme of the maze, although I couldn’t ascertain that at ground level

Man, oh man, this was a tough race. Some of those turns were of the hairpin variety and there were some circular turns too. 250 turns? Why not just 200 Illinois bicentennial turns?

Yes, I finished. And finished well, coming in second place in my age group–55-59–and gaining a medal for my effort.

This post might be turning into a gloating exercise, which is not my intent at all. For you, well, seasoned guys and gals out there, there’s no need to believe that you are too old, tired, or banged-up to participate in athletic endeavors. Will you win an age group award in a race? Probably not. Jim Fixx, who wrote the best selling The Complete Book of Running, finished last in his first race. But since I started running at an intense level, I feel better and I look better.

The same result might come your way.

And if you are young there is a lesson for you too. Now is the time to create healthy habits. I ran my first marathon when I was 28.

John Ruberry regularly blogs from Morton Grove, Illinois at Marathon Pundit.

by baldilocks

A special repost in honor of a loved one whose early death was helped along by poor eating habits.

Yes, I can occasionally be caught live in the kitchen. Look quick.

When growing up, my dinner task was making the salad. My mom bought the goods and I prepared them to her exacting specifications. As a result, I am very, shall we say, anal about salads (as I am about most things that I care about).

A clean vegetable is a happy eater. Wash as far down as possible, wash as far up as possible, then, wash ‘possible.’ That maxim goes for many things.

Lettuce: anyone who uses iceberg lettuce in a salad should be shot. (Okay, that’s a little harsh; maybe, er, reeducated.) Use red-leaf, romaine or butter leaf lettuce or some combination thereof. Or spinach.

Croutons and bacon bits are masks for a salad prepared by a lazy salad-maker. If your ingredients are good, fresh and varied, you don’t need those.

Buy the right mushrooms. Get the ones that are closed at the junction between the body and the stem. Don’t buy the big ones that look like they’re more for smoking that for eating. Don’t buy them too brown. Cut the stems off but not so far down as to where you can see the inside of the body.

Use red onions and/or scallions, because they look prettier and taste better than yellow or white onions. Cut most of the flower of the scallions off because they are bland. The root is the good part.

When I’m the only one eating the salad or am sure of my audience, I will put a chopped clove of garlic and a chopped Serrano chili pepper in my salad. (You folks who are not from the south-west part of the US or are not of Mexican descent might not know what a Serrano is. It’s a little, tiny green pepper that is hot. I like hot.)

Two of the ingredients that my mom didn’t require, but I usually use now are: carrots and cucumbers. Yes, peeling them is a pain—and please peel the cucumber—but, boy, do they give great texture and taste to the salad. Split the cuck down the middle, by the way.

Sometimes I will top the salad with canned crab. There are two places here in LA from which I’ve bought the crab: Food for Less and Trader Joe’s. The FFL version is cheaper and the TJ’s version is prettier, but they both taste about the same. I don’t put anything heavier than that in the salad. Chicken, beef and pork are for the main course.

No yellow, orange or white dressings should be used. Hey, if you want to hide the taste of your salad, just tear up some iceberg, chop up a big, fat tomato and pour Thousand Island all over it. Blech. I like a non-obnoxious Caesar or just some olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar.

If you must put some seasoning on your salad, a bit of Mrs. Dash will do the trick; oh, and black pepper.

What did I forget? Tomatoes, of course, are required; cherry types cut in half (if you grow them, you’re blessed); bell pepper—green and chopped.

If you think salads are boring, you’re missing out on one of the great pleasures of eating. Time, attention and varied ingredients are all that are required. Don’t forget to make it beautiful as well. Eating is almost as much about the eye as it is about the tongue.


Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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