2015 Freescale Austin Marathon

Ow.  This year’s Austin Marathon beat me up good.  I have a whole list of excuses as to why, but the only one that matters is that I didn’t train enough.  Life and all that comes with it took priority over consistent training and it took its toll in the race.  Here’s how it went down in excruciating detail, emphasis on excruciating.

2015 Austin Marathon 4 amigos

Race morning I picked up 3 of my rockstar neighbors who were also racing — 2 full and 1 half.  We took advantage of my office’s prime parking garage location and moseyed over to the starting area.  After a group photo we parted ways and I looked for the 3:25-pace group.  My plan was to stick with them to successfully hit my goal of “under 3:30″.  Amazingly, among the 15,000+ runners packed into four blocks, I found myself next to two friends also running the full, Robert (his first marathon) and Cristina.

2015 Austin Marathon start crowd

The course shoots you straight into a 3 mile uphill slog.  Halfway up I passed the 3:25 group but saw (what I thought was) the 3:20 pace group and figured I’d hang with them for a bit.  By the time I caught and passed that “3:20″ pace group, I saw they were the 3:15 group and I was going way too fast.  Also, Cristina left me in the dust.

2015 Austin Marathon early

You can see early on my spirits and leg-kick were high.  Around Mile 8, as I settled into a groove, Marcus, a former coworker / running nemesis, recognized me and we ended up running together for the next 9 miles.  In that time I spotted several friends and neighbors along the course — thanks for cheering Ben & Walker, Katie, Cherisse & Mike & Will, and Dave!  But just after the halfway point I realized my legs were struggling.

By Mile 17 Marcus pointed out the 3:15 pace group had caught us, so I made a pro move and hopped into a porta-potty.  That way they never really caught me because I was off the course.  Boom.  From then on, with 9 arduous miles ahead, I prepared myself for the battle ahead by filling my thoughts with fear and dread.  The course is supposed to be all downhill from Mile 19 until the end, but they modified it and they are liars.  Not long after Mile 20 I passed Marcus (who didn’t stop at the bathroom — heh, amateur).  And then, who’s that up ahead?  Cristina?  Yes!  At one of the deceitful hills on North Loop I made up a lot of ground, and within the next mile I tracked her down and passed her.

2015 Austin Marathon late

At this point I (and everyone around me) was in rough shape.  I walked a few water stations, stopped once or twice to stretch, and barely got my feet off the ground in a classic “marathon shuffle”.  One silver-lined humblebrag is that I actually continued to pass people all the way to the finish.  At the 5K mark I was in 240th place.  By 13.1 miles I was down to 189, Mile 18 in 184th, and so it went until the finish where I crossed the line in 166th place.  So the race hurt, but it hurt me slightly less than others.

2015 Austin Marathon finish

The last 0.3 miles of the course punches you in the gut with a few brutal hills before the finish line appears in the shadow of the Capitol building.  I definitely beat my goal of sub-3:30 and nearly hit my “everything goes perfectly” secondary goal of sub-3:20.  But holy moly did it hurt.  Punishment for not training properly.

2015 Austin Marathon watch-medal

But totally worth it.  Check out that medal!  It’s my favorite one I have (other than Boston (duh) and the Ironman (duh)).  With marathon #15 under my belt, my “What’s Next?” goals are: 1) sub-3 hour marathon, and 2) 20 marathons.  But those are a long way off.  Until then, I’ll hobble around a little more until I recover from this one.

2015 Freescale Austin Marathon
Distance 26.2 Miles
Time 3:21:27
Pace 7:41 min/mile
Overall Place 166 / 3147 (5.3%)
Age Group Place 32 / 286 (11.2%)
Gender Place 151 / 1896 (7,9%)

Water and Fire

Our grocery store ran a special on USDA Prime New York Strip steaks.  Never one to miss out on a deal, I bought four.  And for no other reason than “why not?” I picked up a grass-fed New York Strip to compare.  With five steaks and some new toys to play with, we invited some friends over for dinner and got cooking.  But seriously, just look at these steaks!

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40 North

I knew the location as “the place where La Barbecue used to be.”  But now it’ll be known as “the 40 North lot” because this is serious pizza.  I took advantage of a gorgeous 70 degree January day to check out what wood-fired goodness 40°N, a brand new pizza food trailer, was slinging.  I pulled up to the lot to find it nearly completely empty.

40 North Sign

The space is shared with Regal Ravioli and one table was filled with friends of 40 North.  I took my time reading the whole menu and everything sounded great — which was an issue for my indecision-prone self — before I finally settled on the “Kale” pizza and took a seat.

40 North Trailer

Clint, the pizzaiolo / owner, brought out housemade pork sausage (from Richardson Farms), fresh mozzarella, Calabrian chiles, garlic, and Parmigiano Reggiano-topped pizza.  A beauty to behold, though at first I was disappointed that I misunderstood that there was no red sauce on it.  Nothing wrong with white pizzas; I was just in the mood for sauce.

40 North Kale Pizza overhead

I forgot all about that red sauce with my first bite.  It’s garlicky and cheesy and kaley.  The Calabrian chiles and pork sausage spiced it up.  The crust was a perfect balance of soft and chewy.

40 North Kale Pizza side

This picture really tells the whole story.

40 North Kale Pizza gone

And a big thank you to Clint for offering me a vanilla panna cotta with raspberry sauce on the house.  After devouring the entire pizza, I made quick work of the super creamy, tart dessert.  I never would’ve ordered it (both from a “quantity of food” perspective as well as “not that into panna cotta” perspective), but it was wholly delicious!  I’d definitely recommend, especially if you’re not sadly bravely dining alone, to get at least one to share.

40 North Panna Cotta

If you’re in the mood for pizza and the weather’s nice, I would absolutely implore you to check out 40 North.  If the weather isn’t so great, you can call ahead and just pick it up.  Great pizza from nice people who know what they’re doing, so make it a priority to check them out soon!

Coffee Break: Sightglass Finca Zulema Reserva

Before abandoning me leaving Austin for a dream job, my good friend Jeff picked up a bag of coffee for me while in San Francisco.  Sightglass Coffee is a small family-run operation with two coffee shops and a spot at the farmers market.  Reading about them reminds me of Cuvee Coffee, both maintaining close relationships with the coffee farmers with whom they do business.

This particular coffee, Finca Zulema Reserva, tasted pretty true to its included “Taste Notes”.  I thought it was really well-balanced and maybe a little less bright than the bag would suggest.  Admittedly, and this should probably be said in all my Coffee Break posts, these have been brewed primarily in my cold-brew Bruer setup (as seen in the pictures), which undoubtedly will affect what flavors are highlighted.  But compared to previous beans, I’d say this Sightglass bag impressed me.

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Impromptu Iron Lunch

A few days ago the idea of barbecue for lunch came up but was ultimately discarded for something else that I can’t even remember.  But that idea of barbecue stuck with me, lurking in my subconscious, gnawing at the very essence of my decision-making being — until this day! — when it punched through and exclaimed “Mike, you want barbecue right now!”  If this all seems a little dramatic, welcome to my life when it comes to deciding what to have for lunch.

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Happy New Year, 2015!

Happy 2015 to you, too!  2014 had some big shoes to fill after everything that happened in 2013, and I’d say it far surpassed expectations.  Obviously and without question, the arrival of Wesley singlehandedly outdid the entire previous year.  On top of that I started a new job at an incredible company.  To celebrate the end of a fantastic year, I revisited Goldbely to order something special for Ev and me (sorry Wes).

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Happy Anniversary To Us!

In the blink of an eye, Ev and I have been married 4 years, and I can honestly say each day is better than the last.  And while the past 6 months have certainly been a little different with Wes’ arrival, they are still each getting better and better, perhaps even more so.  But that means we’ve had to change up how we celebrate special occasions, just like for our recent birthdays.  So for our 4th anniversary we decided rather than going out to a fancy, expensive dinner, we’d make a fancy, expensive dinner.

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Coffee Break: Cuvee Coffee Cuberow

Cuberow is the way someone not from Ethiopia would pronounce the Amharic word ቀበሮ for fox.  But what does a fox know about coffee?  Apparently a lot, because this coffee is amazing.

Cuvee Cuberow (Large)

I know I said Cuvee’s October special Reserva was great, and that September’s special Kumurembe was my favorite, but November’s Cuberow is, in fact, the best.  Like “holy moly wow that’s fantastic” great.

The official tasting profile says “sweet peach and grapefruit-like acidity lead into a dry resin-y finish, with notes of jasmine and rosemary”.  I taste none of that.  Actually, I almost didn’t buy the Cuberow because I was afraid it’d be too fruity and bright and acidic and, god help me, grapefruity.  Instead it’s balanced and interesting and rich and bright.  Maybe that’s what the official tasting notes are trying to say, considering each of their descriptors is different from one another.  But really what it means is you should grab a bag or twoelve the next time you see one (or online) before they’re gone!

Coffee Break: Cuvee Coffee Reserva

If you’ll recall, I placed an online order from Cuvee to get two specific bags of coffee.  One was the Kumurembe, and the other was the Reserva.  Nevermind I recently saw the Reserva in my grocery store, I was thrilled to receive it in the mail.  As October’s special variety, my propensity for wanting needing new, limitedly-available things got the best of me again.

Bruer Cuvee Riserva

Slightly less acidic / vibrant, the Reserva has a smoother flavor than its Kenyan predecessor.  That said, it definitely lives up to its official taste profile: Crisp Clean Black Cherry Acidity with Dark Chocolate and Tangerine.  For me I don’t quite taste the tangerine aspect, but the cherry and dark chocolate are absolutely dominant.  I’d say Reserva would be more crowd-pleasing than other beans thanks to its relatively narrow range of balanced flavors.  Per usual, delicious stuff from Cuvee and another one I’d recommend.