I ran a 10K a few weekends ago. It was the first one I’ve run in 2 1/2 years. A friend of mine gave me her spot in the race, so I took it as an opportunity to try and push myself. My workout routine became very slack over the summer months– that and perhaps too many sweets– which resulted in my pants being tighter than they should be. So it felt good to have a goal to work towards. I did a lot of running intervals on the treadmill at 6 a.m., and subsequently, remembered what it was like to feel euphoric after a good workout. Things went along pretty smoothly over the course of my 4 weeks of training, even though I knew I might be pushing myself more, and faster, than I should be. However, on my last long run before the race, I hit a wall. I don’t know what happened, but I had to stop and walk several times. My legs felt like lead. It was a horrible run, and I felt really shitty about it. In retrospect, I might have been focusing too much on my speed. Afterword, I tried to reassure myself that a less-than-stellar run was o.k. Despite my anxiety about the upcoming race, I told myself to focus on going slow and running the entire 10K, and not worry about my finishing time.
I woke up at 5:30 a.m. that Sunday morning and headed into Manhattan. I tried to shake off any lingering doubts about my recent running performance. I repeated a mantra: Slow and steady; just finish. It was a beautiful morning. The sun was just coming up, and there was a cool breeze coming off the Hudson River. I ran what I thought was a super-slow pace. Many, many people passed me. I just put my head down and kept running. I felt really good for the entire race. I figured if I had enough energy towards the end, I would pick up my pace a bit and try to finish strong. Indeed, I did. I ran an 11-minute mile, which is a personal best for me. I was incredibly proud of myself, and my feeling of euphoria lasted the rest of the day. I remember thinking that I wanted to hold on to this feeling for as long as possible. If only we could retrieve feelings the way we can pull up a song to elicit a memory. I hope to remember that feeling when I’m having a crummy day. As a reward for the 10K, I treated myself to my favorite pancakes in the city at Johnny’s Luncheonette.
Speaking of pancakes (I didn’t even plan that transition!), these zucchini bread pancakes need to go on your Make Immediately recipe list. Light and healthy, they also scream, “Fall is finally here!” And the maple yogurt is the perfect topping on these, as straight up maple syrup would be too sweet for these beauties, in my opinion. Instead, the tang of the yogurt provides a nice complement to the sweet spices.
Zucchini Bread Pancakes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 10 to 12 pancakes
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons light brown or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk or 2 tablespoons each of milk and plain yogurt, whisked until smooth
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 1 1/2 medium zucchini)
1 cup all-purpose flour (half can seamlessly be swapped with a whole wheat flour)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
Butter or oil, for coating skillet
1. In a large bowl, combine eggs, olive oil, sugar, buttermilk and vanilla until smooth. Stir in zucchini shreds.
2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir dry ingredients into zucchini batter, mixing until just combined.
3. Preheat oven to 200°F and place a baking sheet on a middle rack.
4. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Once hot, melt a pat of butter in pan and swirl it around until it sizzles.
5. Scoop scant 1/4-cup dollops of batter in pan so the puddles do not touch. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip pancakes and cook another minute or two, until golden underneath.
6. Transfer pancakes to prepared pan to keep warm as well as ensure that they’re all cooked through when they’re served. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm.