Last year, we skipped the National Marathon/Half in favor of the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach (which, ps, was superfun and really well run). But this year, we were BACK. My plan was to rock the socks off the half and hopefully get a PR. That dream went out the window in mid-February when I realized that I was going to be out of town for 4 of the 5 next weekends. No prob. Race day was beautiful, I gave it my best, and it was still an awesome race.
The coolest thing about the National Half is that it's really a locals' race. Washington has a lot of destination races: Marine Corps Marathon, Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, Army 10-Miler. These races draw participants from all around the country (and often, the world) and they are wonderful in their own right. Who wouldn't want a chance to race by the national monuments or run through the breathtaking Japanese cherry blossoms in full bloom? But it's so refreshing and fun to do a race that hits the residential DC neighborhoods, which is exactly what the National Marathon and Half courses do.
Fleet Feet, a locally owned running store in Adam's Morgan, set up a bonus water stop right where I got thirsty. And a little ways down the road in Columbia Heights, some all-star resident was handing out marshmallow Peeps outside her house! A little Rapper's Delight outside of Howard U? Don't mind if I do. And to the DJ spinning at the Bethune apartment complex, I'd like to hire you for my next party. The race rounded out on H Street, NE, with a huge cheering crowd (you can't even imagine how the landscape of H Street has changed since running down it two years ago!). And of course, a big high-five to my house right before cruising to the finish line.
After the race, we headed to our friends' Jimmy & Janie's house for a near-spring/almost birthday/post-marathon brunch. (Because if there is one thing I do almost as much as I run, it's eat brunch.) J&J served tacos from Pica Taco in Adam's Morgan, which I highly recommend. If you don't have time to make a full brunch (e.g., if you're tied up in a race beforehand), these tacos come in pairs, wrapped in tin foil and labeled - super easy for serving and muy delicioso. Plus Pica Taco is locally owned and operated by a mother-daughter team. It's a win-win. My contribution to brunch was ginger-spiced mini-donuts with fresh orange icing. Not really sticking with the Mexican theme, but I didn't hear any complaints through the donut-stuffed mouths.
I recently purchased this donut pan so that I could make baked donuts. These ginger guys were more like cake donuts than bready donuts (like say, Krispy Kreme). But the batter bakes up super light and the outside gets nice and toasty, just like any fried cake donut. Top them with icing made from fresh orange juice and sifted confectioners' sugar and you've got yourself a brunch winner.
This is us two years ago when we closed on our house! I still feel happy about it every time I walk in the door. Yes, despite the entire new roof we had to put on, frequent blown fuses, termites (among other critters), touch-and-go heating system, and leaky walls, I love this house with all my heart.
Baked Ginger Donuts w/Orange Icingadapted from Allrecipes.com
Makes 4 to 5 dozen mini-donuts
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground clove
2 tsp. cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1 cup of buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 tbs. vinegar, rested for 5 minutes)
1 tbs. maple syrup
Required: non-stick donut pan
Recommended: gallon-sized ziplock bag
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, dry spices and sugar (if you have a sifter, I recommend sifting all ingredients but the sugar).
Melt butter in the microwave or on stovetop and stir in the freshly grated ginger while the butter is still warm. Set aside.
Stir buttermilk, eggs and maple syrup together in a bowl and then pour into dry mix. Mix with an electric mixer or stand mixer until ingredients are loosely incorporated. Add melted butter and continue to mix until all ingredients are completely incorporated into a batter.
Fill ziplock bag with batter and snip a 1/2 opening at one corner. Pipe the batter into the donut pan, filling each mold only about halfway (these donuts rise a lot). If you happen to have a donut pan that is not non-stick, grease the molds or spray with cooking spray before filling.
Bake at 400 degrees for 5-6 minutes. Empty the tin and repeat. Let donuts cool before icing.
This recipe would also work for a full-sized donut pan, just make a larger cut in the ziplock bag and increase cooking time by 3-4 minutes.
2 cups powdered sugar
orange juice (fresh squeezed if you have an orange!)
1/4 tsp. orange extract
red and yellow food coloring (optional)
Start by adding 1 tbs. of orange juice to the sugar and stirring. Continue to slowly add juice and stir well until the sugar is the consistency of syrup. It should stick to your whisk or spoon. If you go too far, just add more sugar. Add orange extract.
Coloring: Liquid food coloring is very powerful. If you want a bright shade of orange add 1 drop of red and 5 drops of yellow to the icing and stir. If you want a pale orange, take a small amount of the icing (maybe a tablespoon) and put it in a separate bowl. Add food coloring to the small bit of icing. Then spoon little bits of the colored icing back into the main batch until you have the desired color.
Icing: Using your fingers, dip the top half (whichever half of the donut you want to cover up) of each donut into the icing halfway. Twist the donut as you remove it from the icing and set on a drying rack or paper towel to let the icing harden. Donuts stay fresh for at least one night in the refrigerator.