Last Valentine’s weekend William and I competed in a couple’s 5k race. This was the first time we’ve run such a race, where our scores and ages were combined and pitted up against a crazy-fast group of local runners. We’re often asked about running together, and though we do so only every now and again these days, our relationship did begin in part because of our mutual interest in running.
We were in the same college at OSU and happened to take a class together the last term of my senior year. Will strolled around like a laid-back California dude with his casual persona and curly blonde hair. He also routinely wore his Hood to Coast shirts. He was definitely the only guy in the class to do so. I was intrigued.
When we started hanging out, running was our first common ground and we began running together before we were officially dating, in the final weeks before Will’s annual Hood to Coast race. A year later, we both ran Hood to Coast. Through that experience, I learned that I could still find some speed after two hours of sleep, which was periodically interrupted by manic, nearby, cowbell ringing. Having a warm-up buddy at 4:30 am after those two unrestfull hours was a definite motivational plus.
Even though we haven’t been running together quite as often these days, Will has remained my biggest supporter. He routinely wakes up early and comes to races with me, and even when he doesn’t race, he dons his run outfit and champions me through the warm up and cool down. He stands right off the starting line and takes all my extra layers at the last moment and then strategically places himself near the finish and yells at me to sprint as if my life depends on it. I jokingly refer to him as my coach because he’s been at this racing business longer than I have and he is a true encourager.
Valentine’s Day may be past for this year, and we don’t truly celebrate it anyway, but we do celebrate the early mornings and post-workout meal of our favorite shared hobby as frequently as we can. We also share a love for healthy smoothies, and turn to them more often when amping up mileage.
As far as ingredients go, I tend to mix together stronger or more seasonal flavors, while Will consistently opts for a heavy dose of berries. I am a huge fan of rhubarb and have been hoarding last summer’s crop in the freezer for months now. Rhubarb happens to pair beautifully with oranges. Cue blood orange season, and our blender has been in a near constant state of pink-smoothie-use for several weeks straight!
It may not feel like it lately, but spring is just around the corner and rhubarb is one of the earliest spring crops in these parts of Western Oregon. If you’re lucky enough to have your own plant, throw a dark pot over it, and you can begin to force it out of its winter dormancy. I did this at the school garden in early January, and we are well on our way to having rhubarb ready to harvest a couple months earlier! If you are not in possession of a rhubarb plant or a freezer full of last year’s cache, you can bet there is a farmer that knows this trick and will have the first rhubarb of the season in the market soon, just in time for the last of the blood oranges! Happy smoothie sipping and early season running!Rhubarb & Blood Orange Smoothie, serves 2 2 blood oranges, peeled and diced 1 Tbs. chia seeds 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 1 cup unsweetened almond milk 1 1/2 cups rhubarb sauce* stevia drops or sweetener, to taste
Pour all the ingredients into a blender and mix until it is thick and creamy. Season to taste with sweetener.
*For rhubarb sauce, chop rhubarb into small pieces, pour into a medium stock pot, add about an inch of water, and heat to boiling. Turn down to a simmer and cook until the fibers have broken down and the mixture begins to get thick. I don’t add any sweetener at this point, but you certainly can sweeten it to taste, if you like.