As usual, I’m wrapping up August in 7 Quick Takes, and linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum!
If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve probably already guessed what the highlight of our August (heck, the whole year) was. If not, you can check out part one and part two of our recent adventures in paradise!
August is a fun time in Geocaching Land, because you have opportunities to earn virtual badges, or “souvenirs,” for your profile page. It isn’t much, but it’s fun to challenge yourself to find certain types of caches within a certain time frame. This year the theme was “Mission GC,” and there were just three types of caches you were to find: A cache with ten or more favorite points (see my July Wrap to read about that one), a multi-stage cache, and a mystery or puzzle cache. The kicker this time around was that each badge could only be earned on certain weekends, and premium members were given the opportunity to find out a week in advance what kind of caches we were expected to find by solving a puzzle. Basic members didn’t find out until the Friday before. The website Cache Advance and The Geocaching Vlogger tied their monthly “geo-challenge” into this game by asking people to earn a souvenir in August and post a photo to Instagram. I actually earned four souvenirs last month: One for finding a cache in Hawaii (each state has its own souvenir); one for a multi-cache; one for International Geocaching Day, the third Saturday in August; and one for a mystery cache.
The next opportunity to earn a souvenir will be for International Earthcache Day, October 9. That’s the same day as the Hokie Half, and the day I’m planning to run 20 miles. I’m not too sure about that one…
I mentioned in my July Wrap that I had downloaded the Munzee app. Munzee is a game that is similar to geocaching in that you are required to find things in certain locations, except instead of containers they’re little stickers with QR codes on them. You use your smartphone to “capture” these Munzees, and earn points for each one. In August I captured 24 Munzees and earned 120 points (I even found a few in Hawaii), but frankly I’m not sure what that means! It’s not like I’m competing with anyone. I think as you earn points you advance to different levels and get to do more with the game, but I really know very little about it. Finding little QR stickers isn’t as much fun as finding geocaches, but it’s kinda cool. We’ll see what happens and if I make this a hobby or not.
(At the Start of the Huckleberry Trail in Blacksburg. When we took Matt back to school I went for a run here and found a geocache–there are many; some I’ve already found but many more I haven’t–and three Munzees including one on the doggie bag box behind me.)
I have a new favorite running book: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. I’ve heard people say that this book changed their lives. I don’t know if I would go that far, but it does make me look at my running in a different way, and points out that running is something that humans are in fact built to do! It tells of the author’s quest to find out why a certain indigenous tribe in Mexico called the Taramuhara are considered the best runners in the world, and how he got to participate in a 50-mile race with the Taramuhara and other great ultrarunners, including Scott Jurek. McDougall also explores the science of running, and how you and I can use some of the Taramuhara’s secrets to their amazing endurance in our own running lives. I may have more to say about this fantastic book in a future blog post, so stay tuned!
Speaking of Scott Jurek, have you been following Karl Meltzer as he attempts to break the Appalachian Trail thru-hike record? Scott broke the record last year, completing it in 46 days, 8 hours, and 7 minutes. This year Karl is attempting to beat that (his fourth and final attempt at breaking the record), and it looks like he’s on track to do it. I’ve heard that Scott will be pacing him for part of his journey. You can keep up with Karl’s progress here.
And now for the recipe of the month:
When I think of figs, I automatically think of fig Newtons, which I despise. Naturally when someone is selling figs at the farmer’s market, I pass them up, thank you very much. The day after we returned from Hawaii, and I was jet-lagged and not thinking straight, I bought a pint of them. I remembered that there was a recipe for fig chutney in the September issue of Runner’s world, and being the adventurous person that I am, I decided to try it. I’ll give you the recipe first and then I’ll reveal our reaction:
Serve with pork or chicken, or as a jam spread, for a boost of vitamins C and B6.
1/2 lb. whole fresh figs (about 8), rinsed, stemmed, and halved
4 tsp. white wine
4 tsp. sherry vinegar
1 small cinnamon stick
1 whole clove
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp. honey
1 1/2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
In a saucepan, bring all ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered. Stir occasionally, until jam-like and figs have broken down, about 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Remove cinnamon and clove. Ladle cooked chutney into 1 pint or 1/2 pint jar and seal. Refrigerate up to 3 months. Makes 6 servings.
(Runner’s World, September 2016, p. 44)
We served the chutney with grilled chicken, and I thought it was delicious. The rest of the family, not so much. That’s OK, because more for me. I spread it on gluten-free English muffins like jam, and used it in my turkey sandwiches instead of mayonnaise. I would recommend giving this a try, even if you think you don’t like figs. It’s very easy to make, it’s good for you, and pretty yummy, too!
My training for the Marine Corps Marathon is building up to a climax. My longest run was 21 miles, completed mostly on the Spotsylvania Courthouse Battlefield. I had planned to try and build up to 24-25 miles by mid-September, but at the very end of August I suddenly found myself dealing with plantar fasciitis–on top of some knee pain which might or might not be my IT band–so I’m scaling it back a little bit. It could be my shoes, or the fact that I haven’t done much strength training this summer, or I’ve put in a lot of miles over the last few months; truthfully it could be a combination of all those things. (Prime suspect: the shoes. I picked up some new Saucony Ride 9’s at the end of June, and they’ve changed the design to make the toe box smaller. The size 10s that I usually get were too small, so I was upsized to an 11. They seemed to feel all right until I took a couple of long runs and some harder tempo runs with them. I think they just don’t fit right. My old Ride 8s and my Triumphs, which each have over 300 miles on them, feel just fine. VA Runner was having a sale on Triumphs this week, and I grabbed myself a new pair. Fingers crossed I have no more issues.) I’ve also experimented with some different fueling strategies and I still don’t have it quite figured out the magic formula yet. At this writing I have 3 1/2 weeks until the Hokie Half and 6 1/2 weeks until the Marine Corps Marathon. Hopefully I can keep my feet happy and my energy level up!
(I found a geocache on my 21-miler. I learned that Brock Road in Spotsylvania is NOT a good place to run.)
Miles Run: 122
Geocaches found: 22
Caches found while running: 11
School has started. There will be less geocaching, less blogging (not that there has ever been much), and maybe a little less running, too–just a little. I have plenty of adventures to look forward to this fall, though, and hopefully I’ll have time to post here once in a while. Have a wonderful weekend, and be sure to head on over to This Ain’t the Lyceum for more quick takes!