This past Sunday, one of my former cross-country teammates won the Disney Half-Marathon with a time of one hour and 15 seconds, another former teammate gave birth to an 8-lb human being, and I ate a lot of pie at the KCRW's Second Annual "Good Food" Pie Contest at the Taste of Beverly Hills.
The event that was open to the public was hosted by "Good Food" Host and beloved LA Chef Evan Kleiman from Angeli Caffe, and featured over 100 sweet and savory pies from hopeful entrants. Earlier in the day, the esteemed judging panel, which included LA Weekly's Jonathan Gold and Huckleberry's Pastry Chef Zoe Nathan, tasted each of the pies entered into the contest and rated them against the other entries in their respective categories (cream, savory, nut, fruit, etc.). The duplicate of each pie was then offered up to the public during the pie-eating free-for-all portion of the event (i.e. the reason I was in attendance).
Hours of work and planning went into each of the artful pies that were lovingly prepared by local bakers and food bloggers. Marni from Happy Go Marni and her mother spent weeks strategizing and perfecting their recipe for an Orange Maple Hazelnut Pie with chocolate glaze, candied orange peel and caramelized hazelnuts. By the time I made it to their station during the "free-for-all," however, only crumbs remained. Crumbs that I subsequently scraped out of the pan and ate because I have no shame and no one else dared be so bold. (In my defense, they were very delicious crumbs.)
In true "Diana Takes Too Many Bites" fashion, I also inhaled a sliver of a cherry cheesecake pie with a chocolate crust, and latched my fork on to a Snickers Bar-esque pecan pie that Zach from Midtown Lunch had abandoned for dead. (In my defense, dead pie is also very delicious.)
It was a fine (i.e. gluttonous) eating performance -- and an appropriate way to end my weekend of indulgent eats at the Taste of Beverly Hills.
Yet even with all the pie-shoveling and pasta-inhaling, my gastronomical exploits at the ToBH aren't necessarily the best representations of what I did this weekend. While I didn't do anything as profound as winning a half-marathon or birthing a baby, I did start the process of reclaiming my identity as a runner -- an identity that sadly often takes the back seat to my identity as an eater.
My dear friend Ashley, incidentally another of my amazing and ambitious former teammates, is in the process of planning a community 5K Run/Walk that will take place on Sunday, November 21st at Dockweiler Beach in Playa del Rey. The race is the culmination of Ashley and her UCLA fellowship partner's 10-week public health program called STRIDES -- a 5K training program that will be implemented at Olympic Continuation High School in Los Angeles to help decrease suicide risk factors among students enrolled in the school's health class by increasing self-esteem and social support.
The cause is one that hits me squarely in the heart. My best friends from college -- the ones who I still e-mail on a near-daily basis to tell them about what I ate for lunch and my thoughts on the latest episode of "Drop Dead Diva" -- are my cross-country teammates. Ashley and the other girls who loved me even when I was a grouchy nightmare at our 7 am practices are the reason that I stayed sane in college. And also the reason I didn't cry wee wee wee all the way back to Southern California after experiencing my first Chicago winter.
The STRIDES 5K race and the cause behind it, have reminded me how much I miss the camaraderie I used to share with other runners. While I love sharing meals and pie crumbs with my fellow food nerds, I'm at my truest self when my I have a pair of running shoes on my feet and my lungs feel like they are going to burst from oxygen deprivation. (It's much more pleasurable than feeling like my stomach is going to burst from eating too much.)
On Friday morning I woke up with an unexpected urge to do more than my usual 30-45 minute jogs up and down the streets of my neighborhood. I grabbed my shoes and watch, and drove out to Santa Monica to go for a long run along the Santa Monica Bike Path instead. As I strode through the grey morning fog, I felt like a runner again -- not like a girl trying to make up for all the calories consumed the night before at the Taste of Beverly Hill's opening night festivities. I ran without music. I ran without thinking about getting through it as fast as possible so I could go home and eat breakfast. I ran because it's who I am.
An hour passed by in an instant. And, just like when I finish a really good dessert, I wanted more.
While I had been hesitant to sign up for the 5K when Ashley told me that registration was open early last week, I'm now ready to accomplish something other than eating a lot of pie on a lazy Sunday.
I'm going to run the race first. And then I'll go in for the pie.
Register for the STRIDES 5K Run/Walk on Active.com.
Donations to the cause can be made on the STRIDES Blog.
Location: Dockweiler Beach, Playa del Mar
Date: Sunday, November 21
Cost: $20 individuals, $15 students
Perk: Free STRIDES Climalite t-shirt from Adidas for the first 75 registrants
Any questions? STRIDESLA@gmail.com