Friday, May 8, 2015

Random Friday Post: Proposing at the Finish

By now some of you may have seen the story about the couple who tried to get engaged at the finish line of the Pittsburgh Half Marathon last weekend. If not, definitely check it out here. In brief, Bryan Peterson planned to propose to Veronica Carter, his girlfriend of eight years, at the end of the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. The two crossed the finish line together but before he could get down on one knee, medical personnel interrupted the touching personal moment and told them to move along. They had to walk another dozen or so yards before Peterson could finish his proposal--Carter said yes.

As some of my faithful readers know, I proposed to my wife at the finish of the 2013 New York City Marathon so I now consider myself an expert on finish line proposals. Ours went off without a hitch and no race officials interrupted, and that was in New York with over 50,000 finishers, where as the Pittsburgh Half had just under 15,000. Why the difference? Peterson made two rookie mistakes which cost him his perfect proposal. Hopefully he reads this post so that he can get it right the next time around.

If you or someone you know are planning a finish line proposal: just head my simple advice:

1) Propose before crossing, not after. Obviously, this won't work if you're worried about time. In 2013, my now-wife and I had both PR'd at the Chicago Marathon three weeks earlier so neither of us was running for time in New York. By proposing just before you cross, you're in control. I proposed with roughly 200 yards to go--close enough that we could see the finish, but not so close that officials could hurry us along. 

2) Get down on one knee first. Peterson lost the element of surprise because he tried to say too much before getting down on one knee. If he'd gotten down on one knee right away, even if race officials had still tried to move him, he probably could've finished his proposal first. I told my now-wife I was having serious hip pain before "collapsing" onto one knee. There was no risk of losing the element of surprise and anyone who could see us knew what was happening so it was very unlikely we'd be told to move along.

In all seriousness, I think it's wonderful that Carter said yes, even with the minor snafu. If the two of them would like to invite me to their wedding, I'd be happy to offer them some more running romance pointers.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Friday Recipe: Chilled Cucumber Soup

I don't think I've posted a recipe on here in a couple years which is kind of crazy given how much I cook. As someone who tries to eat healthy and keep the food bill from getting too out of hand, I end up bringing breakfast and lunch to work pretty much every day. My wife and I also try to eat in for dinner most weeknights too, though sometimes at least once a week we do give into cravings for Chinese, Middle Eastern, or Mexican takeout.

Given our schedules, it makes sense to cook large dishes that we can eat several nights in a row. For example, if I know I've got a rest day on Monday, I can plan on having extra time to cook then so that on Tuesday, when I usually have a long speed work session, we can just pull something out of the fridge.

Since it's finally starting to feel like spring here, I had a craving for chilled soup this week. Chilled soups are some of the best weeknight dinners to make because (a) you don't have to cook them and (b) you never have to reheat them--suck it microwave! Anyway, this week I settled on a chilled cucumber soup because our local fruit guy was practically giving away cucumbers. I kind of made up a recipe after looking at several different ones and was very happy with the results.

Hope you like it too!

Chilled Cucumber Soup

3 lbs cucumbers, peeled, halved,     seeded and coarsely chopped*
1 1/2 c. plain Greek yogurt
2 tbls. lemon juice
1/2 red onion,
2 garlic cloves
1/3 c. loosely packed fresh dill
2 tbls. loosely packed fresh tarragon 
1/4 c. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Salt and white pepper

For Serving:
1 avocado, roughly chopped

Combine the chopped cucumber with the yogurt, lemon juice, onion, garlic, dill, tarragon. and the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Using an immersion blender or food processor to blend until relatively smooth (I like to make sure there are still some chunks of cucumber). Season with salt and white pepper, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight (this lets all the flavors meld together).

When ready to serve, pour the soup into bowls. Garnish with the avocado and croutons, and top with a drizzle of olive oil.

*You can really use any kind of cucumber. I used a mix of English and garden cucumbers.