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Running across the finish line after 1 hour 53 minutes! Not bad for my first half marathon!

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My friend Adam and I after finishing (he just finished the full marathon).

Dear Meredyth,

Congratulations on completing your first triathlon! We both deserve big pats on

the back for our recent athletic accomplishments; last Sunday I completed my first half marathon. Now I guess Wendy is going to one better both of us in October when she runs the full Marine Corps marathon. Three cheers and high fives for the Byrd sisters for pushing ourselves physically and mentally to achieving these awesome goals.

I love that we have each made health a priority in our lives. You know what this means? We will all live longer and get to be grumpy old ladies together; we can be cougars and prowl (well you can just jeer) younger men. Just kidding, kind of.

Running the half marathon I had a strangely good time. Despite the physical pain, the mental exhaustion and emotional rollercoaster I experienced during those 13.1 miles, it was thrilling and I want to do it all again. I want to do it with my sisters, or something like it. There was so my energy in the air, everyone supporting each other, strangers cheering for me, camaraderie with all the runners, the absolute happiness and relief you feel sprinting through the finish line.

You know what else was really fun? The pasta party the night before and our Mexican themed brunch after the race made the pain so worth it. I got to be head chef for the meals, which meant that I got to assign others to do things like peel, chop, toss, wash, etc. All I had to do was stand over the stove flipping and stirring (after the race this was the biggest culinary challenge I could pull off).

Perfect pre-Marathon dinner party:

  1. Mashed turnips (of course) and sweet potatoes: Spiced only with salt, cinnamon, and sweet paprika.
  2. Bow tie pasta salad: sauté chick peas, spinach, onions, garlic in sesame oil (or olive oil). Add to the pasta, stir in red wine vinegar, a little more sesame oil, cracked black pepper, coarse salt, anything you want. Here’s my favorite part, want to add more greens to this baby? Get a bunch of fresh parsley, chop it up, stir it in. The parsley goes really well with the sesame oil and red wine flavors. We also added fresh tomatoes.
  3. Cucumber and tomato salad: you would hate this because of the cucumbers but the green vegetable selection this time of year is slim pickins. We added tons of the fresh parsley, sautéed onions, and garlic to it as well.

There you have it, two hearty/carby dishes, and one on the lighter side, a meal of balanced carbs, fats, and flavors. If I had access to whole-wheat pasta, or quinoa, you could sub those in the pasta salad. Due to the amount of vegetarians at the dinner I decided not to do chicken or tuna in the dishes. It was delicious, not one bite was leftover, not one body went unloaded.

Cinco de Mayo post-Marathon Brunch:

  1. Fresh pressed flour tortillas: whole-wheat (or brown) flour, oil, salt, warm water, it’s that simple.
  2. Spicy black beans and cow peas: we didn’t have enough black beans to make enough for everyone so we threw some cheap (but hearty) cow peas (don’t ask me what kind of bean these are) in the mix, spiced it with cumin, cayenne, and some other stuff I threw in but don’t recall. Use your best spice judgment.
  3. Papas fritas: fried potatoes wedges. Why? Because we had a bunch of white potatoes that we didn’t know what else to do with; also, after you run a half marathon you deserve something delicious and filling.
  4. Scrambled eggs: with every veggie we had left, green peppers, onion, garlic, tomatoes, spinach, and some other odd thing.
  5. Fruit salad: bananas, apples, and oranges in a bowl.
  6. Guacamole: because it’s what every PCV dreams about everyday and avocadoes were on sale!
  7. Pico de gallo: because tomatoes and onions are so cheap and delicious when mixed with fresh cilantro.
  8. Plain yogurt: because sour cream (is gross) does not exist in Africa. This is a delicious, healthy substitute for sour cream, or mayo.
  9. Mimosas: because who doesn’t want to get a little day drunk after running?

Next time it’ll be you and I coming up with healthy choices for our pre-event dinner and post-event guilt free delicious brunch.

I want to give special thanks for those awesome friends who woke up at the crack ass of dawn to support the runners. John and Carol Chicago, Big Al Murphy, and Liles Go Blue Repp, and Terri Lundy! The only thing that got my sad feet across the finish line was to impress you all (only slightly joking).

Love always,

Julia

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