Melissa Runs

Sometimes, Melissa runs her legs. Sometimes, she runs her mouth.

Tag: 2013

2013 in review

I can’t lie. This year was hard for me personally and professionally.

The perfect metaphor for my year could be the story of my cellphones

First, I proved to the world that I could not be trusted to talk on the phone and pump my gas at the same time. I ended up leaving my phone on the trunk and drove off. The phone didn’t fall off the car until I was on the road and managed to get run over by many cars in the process. It turned out that I was eligible for an upgrade anyway so I got a replacement phone.

PHONE TWO: I got mugged within two weeks of having the replacement phone. I got insurance to send a replacement for that phone.

PHONE THREE: The phone store didn’t have an otter box for it at the time. My cat decided that he needed to be snugged RIGHT NOW and jumped on my shoulder as I was talking on the phone. I dropped the phone. It managed to shatter in a way that I couldn’t even turn it off. Somehow the second number on my account (and the phone my mother uses since she never actually talks that much or uses “smart phone” technology”) was eligible for an upgrade.

PHONE FOUR: That is the phone I have now. I got the biggest most bodacious Otter Box on this thing altogether.

So yeah I got knocked around a lot but ultimately nothing permanent.

I managed to go to a dinner party that turned into an urban legend– complete with its own entry in snopes.com.

I completed the Little Rock half marathon again.

I managed to start up the Arkansas Governor’s School Alumni association. I got people to be on the board. I got Doug Shipman to come speak to the current AGS class.

But yeah I am ready for a new year. Come on 2014. I am waiting to see what’s in store.

My big fat BBQ weekend

The House of Gee

The House of Gee

Several months ago, Kelly Gee and his lovely wife Erica started a Kickstarter campaign to procure a super duper mega BBQ smoker. The real name of the super duper mega BBQ smoker is the “Boca Roto” smoker. It is a BBQ machine. It has platforms that rotate above the flame. It is large enough to smoke a human body. Not that I advocate that sort of thing but it is feasible. I am pretty sure that is illegal so don’t point to this blog as permission. Leave human bodies alone.

Ahem..

So as a “Thank you” for all kickstarter donators who donated $25.00 or over, the Gees threw a celebratory BBQ at their house and provided a jar of the Super awesome Gee spice rub for your own BBQ needs. So this weekend. I took a trip to the House of Gee. Look it even has a plaque on the door. Is that charming or what?

Kelly didn’t hold back. He rubbed and smoked all the meats. There were ribs. There was chicken. There was pulled pork. It all had been rubbed down and smoked until it was JUST RIGHT. There was also a choice of 3 sauces: Tipsy Sauce (A bourbon sauce), Mustard Sauce, and the East Arkansas Red (a vinegar based hot sauce). This was tasty food. The ribs were tender and flavorful. The rub on the ribs was enough flavor that a sauce wasn’t necessary. The chicken was smoky. The bourbon sauce was sweet with a kick. The pork was also tender and made a dang fine sandwich.

Of course, there were sides. There was blue cheese slaw. There was potato salad. There were bacon wrapped jalapenos. There was deserts: cupcakes, brownies, diet coke cake (?)

As you can tell it was a feast.

Kelly Gee knows how to smoke a rib.  Potato salad is at the bottom and to the right is the bourbon sauce

Kelly Gee knows how to smoke a rib. Potato salad is at the bottom and to the right is the bourbon sauce

And there were friends. All the foodie friends I have met at different foodie functions were there. Kevin of the Mighty Rib and Red Lobster Biscuit coma fame was there. So was Dan the writer over at Eat Arkansas. Greg of Rock City Times. Thanh of Red Kitchen Recipes. Joel from Southern Ash and his wife Amanda. It was a good time.

Sweet Love fall cupcake extravanganza

On Tuesday, Kelli, ninja baker and owner of Sweet Love had a “fall flavors tasting” on Tuesday. All the new fall flavors in mini cupcake form for free. It was a tasty treat-o-rama. I got to see many of my twitter friends like Erin, Paul Strack of CustomXM, Kelli the baker, Micca… A BUNCH OF PEOPLE OKAY!..
Here are the pictures.

New fall flavors in mini cupcake form

New fall flavors in mini cupcake form

From left to right: Snicker Doodle, Caramel Apple, Bananas Foster, and Pumpkin Pie

The snicker doodle was based on the flavors of the popular cinnamon covered cookies. The cake is a vanilla base with a cinnamon buttercream icing. It was my favorite.

I didn’t have the caramel apple but I was told there was real apple chunks in the cake.

The Bananas foster was a banana cupcake with what I think was a vanilla cream cheese frosting. My talent of distinguishing between butter cream and cream cheese frosting is non existent. A banana cupcake is very similar to banana bread. The frosting did not overpower the cupcake.

Pumpkin pie. (Sorry I didn’t eat this one)

More fall flavors from Sweet Love

More fall flavors from Sweet Love

From Left to right: Spiced Rum, Pumpkin Latte, Italian Cream, and Some Like it Hot (dark chocolate with a dash of Cayenne)

Spiced rum was with a cream cheese frosting.

Pumpkin Latte was a pumpkin cupcake base. It was moist and had a consistency similar to the banana foster cupcake but with the cinnamon and nutmeg associated with a pumpkin pie. The frosting was a cream cheese frosting covered in a dusting of cinnamon.

Italian Cream

Some like it Hot is a dark chocolate cupcake with dark chocolate frosting with a dash of cayenne. What can I say but pure deliciousness. The cayenne is not overpowering and merely enhances the dark chocolate.

Grand Prix run run

The Arkansas chapter of the Road Runners Club of America has announced its Grand Prix calendar for 2014.

January 26, One Hour Track Run, Danville, championship race
February 1, River Trail 15k, North Little Rock, championship race
February 8, Valentine’s Day 5k, Russellville
February 16, Run the Line Half Marathon, Texarkana
March 8, Chase Race 2 Mile, Conway, championship race
March 22, Spring Fling 5k, Cabot
April 5, Capital City Classic 10k, Little Rock, championship race
May 3, Toad Suck Daze 10k, Conway
May 24, Rock Run 8k, Little Rock
June 14, Go! Mile, championship race, also national RRCA 1 mile championship
June 21, Arkansas Runner 2 Mile, Benton
August 2, White River 4 Mile, Batesville, championship race
August 9, Watermelon 5k, Hope
August 30, ARK 5k, North Little Rock, championship race
September 20, Arkansas 20k, Benton, championship race
October 4, Chile Pepper XC 10k, Fayetteville, championship race
October 18, Survivors’ Challenge 10k, Fort Smith
November 1, Midsouth Marathon, Wynne, championship race
November 22, Spa 10k, Hot Springs
December 13, CASA Half Marathon, Pine Bluff

It’s a great way to meet people and run races. Also, you get the opportunity to see the four corners of Arkansas. I had a lot of fun starting this out but then cranky calf and other life things got in the way. I am starting over with my mileage and doing the Little Rock half training program with the small miles (I am at the build up stage) with yoga and weights as cross training.

So for now, I am just working up on building up mileage and figuring out how to not make my calves cranky. Those are my two goals, which ultimately are subgoals to my 101 in 1001 goal of completing a Grand Prix.

101 in 1001 list

I am a compulsive list maker. Part of the reasoning behind the compulsive listmaker is that I have a tendency to get overwhelmed and I have found taking big tasks and dividing them into the manageable small task chunks makes me less frazzled and more productive. Also, my job means I have more to do than I could possibly store to memory so I have to write it down anyway.

I also have been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I believe that the combination of self reflection and goal setting is a good way to keep a girl grounded. I find that I am more focused with clearly defined goals. As far as self help books, I am a big fan of David Allen’s Getting Things Done. It provides a system to execute your goals — right down to scheduling day to day activities. I might say it changed my life.

I found 101 in 1001 on blogs several years ago. I have thought about trying it out and I am in a place where I

Starting Tuesday, the deadline is Tuesday, June 21, 2016.

  1. Complete this list of 101 things
  2. Make a list of 101 things that makes Melissa happy
  3. Make cinnamon rolls from Scratch
  4. Learn to cook a dinner party worthy meal (or something that won’t embarrass me in front of the foodie friends)
  5. Get a bona fide cooking knife (Wustoff)
  6. Complete the Little Rock half marathon three times
  7. Complete the Arkansas Road Runner Clubs of America Grand Prix (You only have to complete 6 races, I think) I tried it this year and failed. 2013 has not been a good year for me
  8. Complete on marathon
  9. Do the Mississippi River half marathon It is near my grandma’s house
  10. Do yoga two days a week for a month
  11. Drink green monsters every day for a week
  12. Keep AGS Alumni afloat and turn it into a bonafide nonprofit with a speaker every year.
  13. To read all the books listed on the Modern Library 100 best novels list.
  14. To read all the books on the Radcliffe Best 100 novels list
  15. To attempt to learn to speak Spanish Fluently. (yeah we’ll see how this one goes)
  16. To call my Grandma once a week
  17. Go to Kenya
  18. Get a bicycle
  19. Incorporate a bicycle into my exercise routine
  20. Visit Washington DC
  21. See the Dandy Warhols in Concert
  22. Paint my adirondack chairs
  23. Grill something using the Kelly Gee grill seasonings I am getting in October 2013.
  24. Go Sky diving
  25. Make Homemade pop tarts with Nutella
  26. Do the William Faulkner tour in Oxford Mississippi
  27. Visit the Crystal Bridges Museum
  28. Try poutine
  29. Get a professional massage
  30. Get a facial
  31. Buy a classic handbag
  32. Watch 10 classic films
  33. Go to 10 concerts
  34. Donate to random business on Kickstarter
  35. Watch Veronica Mars Movie
  36. Get a crockpot
  37. Get three pieces of Fiestaware to add to my collection.
  38. Host a dinner party
  39. write more often on my blog. (at least one post per week)
  40. Put my day of the dead skeleton set up in my apartment. (yee haww)
  41. Get a cat
  42. Advertise for Bowen 5K every year

Wordless Wednesday: Chair

chair

My Dad made me two adirondack chairs for my new patio.

September Burger Caucus: Mugs Cafe

1/2 pound beef burger with avocado, cheese, and a spicy sauce

1/2 pound beef burger

September 18th was National Cheeseburger day and the Little Rock burger caucus celebrated it at Mugs Cafe in the Argenta neighborhood of North Little Rock. I arrived a little late so the burgers were being delivered to some as I ordered. It was a nice mix of politicos, media hounds, and other random folk. I am “other random folk”.

Mugs is a coffee shop that also serves food. As a result, it doesn’t serve fountain drinks such as Coke or Pepsi. You can buy bottled sodas such as ginger ale, grape soda, and similar bubbly drinks. The decor and layout is definitely a coffee shop vibe with tables spread out for socializing. There is a couch and comfy chairs in the back of the place.

The burger itself was a very generous half pound of beef with “bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, pepper jack cheese, and a spicy mayo on an onion roll. Served with sweet potato and apple hash.” (quoting the menu on the website) The pepper jack and spicy mayo means this burger has a kick but it complements not overpowers the beef. It still taste like a hamburger. The sweet potato/apple hash was interesting. I ended up smashing the sweet potatoes with my fork and eating them like mashed potatoes. I wouldn’t characterize the sweet potatoes as mushy though. This was, in my opinion, one of the better burgers in Little Rock and I advise that you make the trek to North Little Rock and check it out.

The best hog is the one in a smoker

Here is a confession. I am pretty apathetic about football. I don’t hate it. I think some schools spend way too much money on it but as far as an extracurricular activity goes, you could do a lot worse. I was in high school marching band so I do understand football. I do manage to have a good time when I go.

One of the fascinating and fun things about football is the tailgating. Tailgating is the practice of people setting up a larger than life picnic style feast in the parking lot of the stadium before the game starts. The particulars of tailgating differ depending on the school. The University of Arkansas plays football games at both the stadium on the main campus in Fayetteville and War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. For people not familiar with Arkansas, Fayetteville is in the northwest corner of the state and Little Rock is centrally located. For many years, Arkansas has tried to make the U of A to be “THE SCHOOL” of Arkansas complete with the Razorbacks being the state team. (Yes there is Arkansas State University and it is a division I school. Another story for another day). The purpose of having the games in central located Little Rock allowed people from all over the state to enjoy the Razorbacks. War Memorial Stadium is located in the middle of War Memorial Park, which includes a golf course. On game day, the entire span of land is filled with trucks, tents, BBQ grills, generators, and televisions.

About a month ago, I was invited to participate in a Kickstarter campaign to raise money so that foodie extraordinaire and hellraiser Kelly Gee could get a BIG ASS Smoker. He plans on competing in BBQ competitions. His first trial run was tailgating at the first Razorback game on Saturday. Now considering that his twelve year old kid kicked my butt in a pie baking competition, I was all about this BBQ.

Oh did I mention that people set up tailgating at like…. 9 in the morning.

I wasn’t having any of that. The game started at 6. I didn’t arrive until 4.

I saw a lot of my food loving friends including the real life urban legend Kevin, Arkansas’s biggest snark master Greg, Dan the Man who has a pair of jorts for every occasion (no really I bet he has a “wedding pair” and a “funeral pair” in his closet) and Kelly Gee, the owner of the Beastmaster and Grand Imp of central Arkansas.

By the time I got there, I got to taste some pork loin and some pulled pork. It was gosh darn tasty and better than some BBQ I have paid money to eat. I heard fawning praise over some wings and ribs. I guess next time I need to make fashionably late a little earlier. I bought some soda and other people had brought food. Dan bought some tasty meatballs. Erin made a plethora of Jello shots. The Cherry Coke one was my favorite.

Oh and the Beastmaster was huge. It would be the official smoker of Fried Green Tomatoes. — if that sort of thing wasn’t illegal and all.

Another friend had a tent further up the way. I visited him for a while and saw a bunch of people I knew.

That’s the thing about tailgating. It’s more about meeting up with people you know: it’s a class reunion, street festival, and happy hour all rolled up into one. If I had made an effort, I could have visited with over fifty people I knew personally and introduced myself to another fifty. But i was all about the relaxing.

Oh the game. Yeah. we won.

2013 Little Rock Half Marathon

So on Sunday, March 3, 2013, I “ran” by fourth Little Rock half marathon. The weather forecast predicted it was going to be cold and I had a cranky left calf that was tight and getting sore so I was a little apprehensive about this race. My sole goal this time was to finish without hurting myself. That’s called “setting the bar low,” folks.

This was also the first year that I did the race without my Mom here. I have since moved to the central Arkansas area and so there was no need to rent a hotel room and as a result, no need for my Mom to come up here and make it a mother/daughter event.

I picked up my packet after work on Friday. The expo seemed smaller than it was in previous years with fewer total vendors. I was short on case this year but I did buy this t-shirt That says “Keep Calm and Run On” Yeah I am loving it.

Keep Calm and Run On. Best shirt ever.

Keep Calm and Run On. Best shirt ever.

I also got my official half marathon shirt, which is a tech shirt.

Turquoise and emerald green. ODD CHOICE

Turquoise and emerald green. ODD CHOICE

Yes it was emerald green, which is the official Pantone shade this year, with turquoise letters. It is as odd as you think it would be. But hey I got my shirt in my size. Good times. Also, I stopped by the GO Running space and got a special “VIP” ticket (because I shop there so much) which meant I had pomegranate margaritas. See Go Running! is the store for you! Or it should be because you didn’t get pomegranate margarita at your expo, did you? I also met the woman who wore the cool Wonder Woman socks at the Bowen 5K. I also took advantage of the volunteer massage therapists and got a nice little rub down. Then I went home and ate pasta.

Saturday. I don’t even remember what I did that Saturday except to read Rebecca’s recount of her 5K experience which mentioned that she got snowed on and promptly exclaimed several curse words. I don’t mind cold but cold falling wet stuff is my limit. I am just not that hard core. Needless to say, I was very apprehensive. I had received an email that the “Hot Legs” (My running club was going to meet in front of the library at 7:30 for a group picture.
Saturday. I don’t even remember what I did that Saturday except to read Rebecca’s recount of her 5K experience which mentioned that she got snowed on and promptly exclaimed several curse words. I don’t mind cold but cold falling wet stuff is my limit. I am just not that hard core. Needless to say, I was very apprehensive. I had received an email that the “Hot Legs” (My running club was going to meet in front of the library at 7:30 for a group picture.

So I ended up carbo loading at my house and went to sleep in my own bed which is 30 miles away from the race site. This is a new development. Usually, I stay at the Comfort Inn near the starting line. I woke up and put on my clothes that I had laid out the night before and “OH GOD” it was cold. I had put on gloves and a headband to cover my ears but I didn’t bring a jacket. I figured it would warm up as soon as I started running. When I finally walked outside, I noticed that there was a light layer of ice/frost on my car that I had to scrape off with my Panera card.

MY MY.

I drove in to Little ROck and traffic was a little more difficult than I had anticipated. everyone was trying to get to the same place. I finally found a place to park but missed the 7:30 picture. I also managed to get to the perks pavillion just in time to pee and get to the starting line. IN fact, I heard the national anthem while I was in line. I got to the race line just in time for the elites to go. This year they did the start in waves with the elites going and then A and B having an official go time a couple of minutes later. This is a completely new development. In the years before, the announcer said go and everybody started walking and then once you passed the line, you started running.

I don’t think the open corral even got to the starting line until 12 minutes later.

So I was off. I didn’t think my phone battery would last so I decided not to listen to music until I got back from North Little Rock. This also means I didn’t have my run keeper pace timer. There are usually a lot of people cheering in North Little Rock there is enough to sustain me. I just ran from one street line to the other. It was a little odd but overall, it seemed close to the same. I knew i wasn’t going to get any PR’s due to cranky calf so I had it in my head to take it easy. That’s what I did.

I don’t remember being tired and so I would run. Friends kept passing me. I saw Brian who is a prosecutor. I saw my friend Rebecca. I saw Eric. And then I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in person since High school but thanks to the beauty of social media, had been chatting it up with him for quite a while. I finally made it across the bridge. I was feeling good. It was slow. Occasionally, I could feel my calf but it wasn’t overwhelming in its tightness or pain. I did, as a result of the first bridge, come to the decision to not even try hills. I walked all the hills.

By this point, I had my music and was trucking along. I was using Stinger waffles as my fuel of choice. I discovered during the second half that maybe they are a little too sweet. Near mile 10, I started to feel a little nauseous.

I managed to run and walk the entire way. I even made a little spring near the end.

Good times. I got my medal.

The Yee Haw cowboy hip hip hooray half marathon finisher's medal.

The Yee Haw cowboy hip hip hooray half marathon finisher’s medal.

BOO YAA!

I felt good. I did wait for a message therapist near the end and that was fun. I think it helps a lot. It gets the main kinks out that ruin your day. I then went home and took a nap.

When I got back, I checked my time. It ended up being

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