Once in a while, we get brave. We’ll get past thinking about being outside the box, and actually do the dirty work of clambering over its walls, legs dangling on the other side, unsure of what it will hit. Or, if we will land at all. And sometimes, our bravery for sticking our heads out is rewarded by a beautiful view, or an unexpected discovery of something good for us.
I’m training for a half-marathon in the fall. But I have been stuck on a plateau, and can’t quite break past half the distance I need to get to — 13 km is so near, yet so far! Normally I run on my own and set goals and pace for myself. But this week, I joined a co-worker who trains and swears by the Running Room. I know. Not a big deal, running with another group. But when you’ve gotten used to striving for a goal in one way, it can take a while to be convinced to try another method.
We met after work, talking as we walked up Yonge Street in our shorts and running shirts past the cozy bistros, hot dog stand, and patios that were coming alive with the after-work crowd. This was a Tuesday, and on Tuesdays the group does tempo runs through Rosedale Valley, a neighbourhood that must’ve had Heritage Homes modelled after their edifices. Here’s the thing. Running with other people meant talking while running, which really gives “conversational pace” a literal meaning. My co-worker loves this because it helps her get motivated to finish the distance when another is keeping a similar pace. Being someone who seldom runs with the crowd, I found this at first a little distracting and wasn’t too sold on actually talking while running. I was huffing and puffing and needed to slow down to keep going. When we finished the route, my co-worker invited me to hill training the next day, and I was hesitant and non-committal. I’ll let you know tomorrow, was all I could reply. But I had to admit — having other people simply run the same path with you gave me a stronger sense that all this running wasn’t craziness of my own doing. If I was crazy, at least I wasn’t alone. And if that’s the case, this is a fairly strong group of crazy runners I can learn from!
I found myself packing my gear to run hills with her on Wednesday. And off we went again, the running group larger in number and the hills more challenging but the view so rewarding, atop a flat-top peak that overlooked the city of Toronto. The city lit up for our last lap, I said with a smile to my co-worker when dusk threw its curtain over the sky on our seventh hill. As we jogged back to the Running Room to stretch and grab our stuff to go home, I was happy to make conversation along the way even if I was still catching my breath. Those endorphins sure are great when you can share the moment with another runner or two!
Maybe a change in technique can be good for me after all.
Trying another method to make cook something familiar, my mind lingered on the idea of a green sauce for my pasta instead of a red one, and I happened upon a 1956 recipe from M.F.K. Fisher for a nameless watercress and parsley pasta sauce. You know, the kind of recipe that seems to fall into place rather than being measured and weighed. But I did take the liberty of naming this adapted green sauce as parsley pesto. Instead of fresh basil, replace it with another green herb that you love and have plenty of — I took cues from Ms. Fisher and chopped up the whole parsley bunch since I didn’t have watercress on hand. And the results were great. Maybe just as refreshing as a view of the city after a hard run in the company of athletic strangers.
Parsley Pesto recipe, adapted from M.F.K. Fisher
- 1 bunch parsley, washed and chopped
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/3 cup shaved Parmesan
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor, until desired consistency is attained.
- Adjust with olive oil if needed, and add salt and pepper to taste.
This can be simply tossed together with pasta, or accompanying a crusty piece of bread. I had a baguette, and made crostini with minced garlic stirred into butter before slathering on the parsley pesto. Change is good!