Running in Circles for Helga & a Recipe to Aid a Moving Benedition

(Helga Racing)

I started running in 2000.  I'd put on my ratty sweats, roughly scrape my hair into a pony tail, check to see that mom was comfortable and then I'd walk the half block down 26th street to North Fillmore, cross the street and then I'd start what had become a moving prayer.

I ran a 1/4 mile loop over and over, a loose circle lined with childhood memories:  That's where the Carreys lived until 7th grade, and the Rattigans were nestled down that side street until sometime in 4th grade and the Wrenns had always faced directly onto the main drag across from Woodmont elementary.  All these neighbors, they used to bear witness to my mother running this same circuit every day.  On a slow day, she'd average five miles.  That's 20 laps.  On a training day, she'd edge towards 20 miles.

My sad sack hamstrings screamed after one measly mile.  But I bullied on, one sloppy footfall after another, my jagged rhythm playing metronome to my silent benediction, "please.  please.  please.  please."

Please, stop her suffering.  Please, show her mercy.  Please, give her comfort.  Please.

Less than nine years before I started my pathetic 4 lap devotional, my mother was running marathons.  How was it that she was now dying of cancer?

And because I'd asked "Why?" every day for the five years she'd suffered without so much as a cosmic courtesy reply, on her last days I ran in her honor and in her footsteps to plead for the end of her suffering.

She's been gone for close to eleven years and I still ask please.  Please stop the suffering.  Please show some mercy.  Please give us comfort.  Please, enough with the cancer already.

Since I haven't gotten so much as an automatic "out of office" email  response to my non-denominational ecumenical badgering, I've decided to stop asking, to stop pleading and to simply start running. To honor Helga. To honor all the wonderful souls who have suffered from cancer.  I'm running what I think of as Helga's race, The Marine Marathon, to raise money for the American Cancer Society.  Donate here if you can. 

Please and thank you


I've tried in vain to convince my body that eating half a chocolate cake the night before a long run is an enlightened carbo load.  My body's just not having any of it.  So I've gone down that slippery slope of experimentation, of convincing myself that baking a healthy alternative is actually JUST as delicious and satisfying as the butter and bittersweet version.

We all know it's not.

But I have come up with a weird, health conscious recipe thats a riff off an already odd combination of chocolate and zucchini cake.  It's really not half bad, it's a slow burn energy boost and it's a fantastic way to get rid of a few CSA zucchinis.

Long Run Cake

2 cups of grated zucchini
1 cup of apple sauce unsweetened, organic
3/4 cup muscovado sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
3/4 cup cocoa powder (I use Callebaut extra brute)
1 1/2 cups oat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons vanilla

•Preheat oven to 350º
•Blend together zucchini and apple sauce in a food processor until it's the consistency of baby food.
•Transfer the zucchini and applesauce to the bowl of an electric mixer and add sugar, honey, eggs and cocoa powder.  Mix on medium speed with the paddle attachment until the mixture is smooth and there are no cocoa powder lumps
•Add oat flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla and mix until just combined.
•Fill cupcake papers almost completely full and bake for 20 minutes or until the tops of the cakes are firm and a toothpick comes out clean.

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