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It’s not even technically summer yet, and this humidity is starting to throw me off.

Had it not been for Noah’s unexpected commitment to run on Wednesday morning, I have to admit, I might have stayed in bed, lounged around, whined a little, and maybe — maybe – done a little strength training in front of the TV. Instead, I ended up running faster and farther than I normally would. (If you ever needed a blatant advertisement for the advantages of running with a friend, I think you just got it.)

We walked out of the apartment on Wednesday with no official goal in mind, and like most of my interactions with Noah, I was indecisive open to anything.

Noah: The East River?

Me: Nah, I’m not in the mood for a boring straight shot.

Noah: Central Park?

Me: Ugh, not today. I don’t feel like dealing with people.

Noah: Ok, well then what. The Highline?

Me: Cross town? No way. Let’s just run the East River.

So the East River it would be. As you can see, I’m really very easy and not at all annoying to deal with at 7:15 in the morning. Feel free to stop by anytime.

Wednesday morning, like Tuesday, was muggy and gray. It’s not even July yet and I’m very much sick of the thick, humid air, but no matter. It hasn’t stopped me from running in the 6 consecutive summers I’ve spent in New York, so it probably won’t stop me now either.

Fortunately, the East River, while straight and somewhat boring, was also empty and pleasant.

The sight of the morning sun making a lame yet appreciated attempt to peek through the clouds was enough to entertain me on the way south toward the Williamsburg Bridge. By mile 2, I was able to push myself a bit harder, though maybe that was only because I was beginning to fall behind Noah, which can never happen. (It always happens.)

The Wiliamsburg Bridge was a welcomed sight, and I was happy to take a moment to stretch, enjoy the morning, and roll my short sleeves up into a tank. A heavy short sleeve shirt turned out to be a poor wardrobe choice this morning, despite the fact that it seemed right for the cloudy occasion. Instead, it just mopped up my sweat and became all heavy and bothersome and such.

This is Noah stretching at the halfway point. That’s all I have to say about that, because to be honest, I was really ready to head back and hop in the shower. All I wanted was to watch the sweat fall from my body and wash down the drain, but I still had just under 3 miles to go.

Knowing that a cleansing shower was waiting for me back on the home front made me appreciate the hard work and effort being put in to the morning run even more. I especially loved the way the rolling clouds seemed to cover us like a heavy down blanket — a heavy down blanket that I actually wished I were under for a majority of the run.

But guess what, I wasn’t! And because I wasn’t — because Noah and I actually got our asses out of bed, into sneakers, out the door, and down the East River — we were able to cover just under 6 miles before heading to work. Mentally challenging? On a less-than-perfect day like Wednesday, absolutely. Endlessly satisfying? Why yes. Yes it certainly was.

As Noah put it, it’s a good thing I cooked up a big bowl of pasta and homemade tomato sauce the night before, because that sweaty, muggy morning deserved a heaping pile of carbs. The photo doesn’t quite do the dish justice because, being the pasta-hater I am, I chose to enjoy my homemade tomato and veggie sauce on top of bulgar wheat instead. Whether you prefer whole wheat pasta (which is what Noah ate his with), some mystery grain or to simply mop up the sauce with a crunchy piece of mouthwatering bread, here’s how to serve up a steaming portion of your own. Perfect dish for the eve of a race? I think so.

Homemade Vegetable (Jarred) Tomato Sauce 

What you need (ingredients): Leftover vegetables. I chose to use peppers, carrots, tomatoes, and an onion. Other possible options that taste delicious include mushrooms, chickpeas, zucchini, etc. Besides the dregs of your produce drawer, all you need is black pepper, crushed red pepper, extra virgin olive oil, cooking spray, and a grain of your choice. Grated cheese couldn’t hurt either.

What you need (supplies): A pot for your grain, a saute pan for your sauce, and a wooden spoon, because I prefer using wooden utensils to plastic.

How to make it:

1. Chop all vegetables to your size preference. Remember that they cook down, so larger chunks are okay.

2. Bring a pot of water to a boil for your grain.

3. Spray the bottom of your saute pan with cooking spray or olive oil. Heat up on high.

4. Toss in the chopped onions, peppers, and carrots. Once these veggies caramelize, you can add in the tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes look pulverized.

5. Once the vegetables appear to be cooked, pour in your jar of tomato sauce. Add black pepper and crushed red pepper to taste. Bring the heat down low, and allow to simmer.

6. Add your grain to the boiling pot and cook appropriately.

7. Once your grain is ready, your sauce should be too.

8. Serve together, with mountains of grated cheese on top.

Enjoy!

  • Do you have any tricks for running during especially miserably muggy mornings?
  • What are your favorite veggies to include in a thick, hearty tomato sauce?
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