Monday, February 6, 2012

Spice it Up

About two weeks ago, I sat across the booth from my friend Paul at a Glory Days Grill, working on a beer and eagerly waiting on the waitress to bring us our baskets of wings. The plural in “baskets” is not an error. I followed the food runners with my eyes, trying to get a beat on what table they might
head toward, and if indeed those greasy baskets were ours.

It was a rare night for a couple reasons, the least being that I’d already eaten dinner and was in fact having wings and beer for dessert (It’s great to be training again):

1. I was out on a “school night”

2. The Caps had scored five goals (which makes your ticket worth six free wings at Glory Days)

3. I’d actually bothered to redeem the ticket

Finally, I got a good read and used my eyes like a tractor beam to draw those baskets in. When she slid them in front of me, my nose twitched at the heat and my eyes went glassy. Jalapeno coins swam in the pools of orange sauce and my mouth filled with saliva.

About three wings in, when that orange sauce drizzled down my fingers and I’d long since lost feeling in my lips, the following thought entered my head: Could there be more to the holiday weight gain than I first thought? Dear, God…am I pregnant?

Let me explain.

First off, I realize this is not the first time I’ll compare training to being pregnant. But sometimes the similarities are just as much a reality as the food baby living in my stomach after a tempo run and two dinners.

It used to be brownie sundaes at Silver Diner -- hold the whipped cream (it only got in the way) and heavy on the hot fudge. That was for Boston. For New York, it was pickles.

Half the fun of starting a new training program is to find out what the craving du jour will be.

This time, you need to bring the heat.

These days, the spicy tuna isn’t spicy enough. I continue glopping wasabi into my soy sauce until it’s a murky and thick swamp that brings instant clarity to my sinuses. Chili and cayenne pepper are cooking staples. Spicy mustard is a good friend, while pepperoncini is a best friend, especially when it’s on my pizza.

Little known fact: you can put sriracha sauce on anything.

I poach my wife’s discarded jalapenos from her Thai food. Tabasco for the eggs, and why not sprinkle some on the sausage links…and the pancakes…and the toast that’s in the vicinity. Does it have carbs in it? Hot sauce it.

I stood for a good 90 seconds in front of the pepper section at Whole Foods trying to discern between the palette of colors, shapes, and temperatures. Decisions, decisions.

Is my life going to turn into that one Cosby show episode where all the men get pregnant and they give birth to things like sailboats, sports cars, two liter bottles of soda, and hoagies (ah, the cocaine 80s)? Does anyone have a remote clue what episode I’m talking about? I wonder what would I give birth to? Probably running shoes…so, twins. Ouch.
Anyway, back to the bar. I licked the wing sauce off my fingers (always a classy move), and used my palms to grasp my pint glass and polish off the remaining sips of Yuengling (though it could have been Bud Light at that point since I'd burned away my taste buds), the second half disappearing much quicker than the first. Then I wiped my nose and sucked air in hard through my mouth to cool off my tongue. Sometimes it just burns so good.

What are your training cravings?

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