Monthly Archives: October 2009

His: Against the Wind

Now you wouldn’t believe it if I told you.  But I can run like the wind blows.  From that day on, if I was going somewhere, I WAS RUNNING!

-Forrest Gump

forrest-gump (1)

Now Forrest knew from an early age that he liked to run.  Running got him him a football scholarship to Alabama.  It saved his life in ‘Nam.  And it made him a pseudo celebrity when he ran across the country several times.

Me on the other hand, I’m still not convinced that I like to run.  I run because I HAVE to.  Mentally, if I didn’t run, I don’t know what I’d do with myself.  This is a far cry from my earlier life when I didn’t just dislike running, I LOATHED it.  Running was a punishment at soccer practice when I was a wee lad.  Then it became the hardest part of practice when I was in high school.  IThere was no way anyone in their right mind would just go out and run for no reason, I thought.  Oh me of little faith.

After high school, it was on to college and a run free lifestyle filled with late night fried food and lots of Keystone Light.  I was a pig in slop.  Four years later, I was on to Wheeling, WV where I was working for a minor league hockey team (GO NAILERS).  I addressed this in an earlier post, but there was nothing to do in there so I became active.  I had a free gym membership through work and I took advantage of it.

I remember being on the treadmill for a mile and a half and breathing like a fat kid with asthma.  But somehow I stuck with it.  I would do that for a couple of weeks, then increase by half a mile.  Eventually, I was doing 5, 6 and 7 miles with ease and even got a coworker off of his ass to start running.  Oddly enough, I remember telling him that I had no desire to run further than what I was doing at the time.  But it’s funny what a person will challenge themselves with and what they’re capable of.

I ran my first half marathon in January of 2008 in a time of 1 hour 34 minutes.  After running thirteen miles, I became obsessed for lack of a better term.  If I could handle that, then I could certainly handle a full marathon.  So I signed up for my first in May of 2008 (and only so far but I am signed up for the 2010 Pittsburgh Marathon).  I ran the Long Island Marathon in a time of 3 hours and 19 minutes.  While I took a hiatus from running races, I have since gotten back into it recently with the past Sunday’s 5k (sixth place overall).  Ally and I also have a 10k on Thanksgiving Day in Wilmington, DE.

What I’m trying to say is that I don’t really know why people run, but for me it was out of shear boredom.  Now it has since become out of necessity.  This isn’t a call to everyone to get out and run because it’s not for everyone, but there may be something out there waiting for you that you don’t know about yet.

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Hers: Meet Him

For the second time in the 5 months that I’ve had it, my camera is broken.  It is currently in transit to Elks Grove Village, IL, where the lovely people at the Canon Factory Support Center will fix it and send it back to me, so it can undoubtedly break again.  I’m not annoyed by this or anything silly like that.  Its a really fantastic little piece of equipment, and when it’s working, it takes great pictures.  Just not right now.

Unfortunately, this leaves us in a bit of a bind as far as blogging goes.  What fun is reading about what we do if you can’t see the pictures that go with it?

Luckily, we have a back up plan.  After all, we can’t let our faithful readers (also known as my mother, Greg’s mother, and a few assorted others) down.  So, I am taking it upon myself to do a little interview of sorts.  For the few readers who don’t know us personally (Hello!  I think there are about 6 of you?  Welcome!), here’s a quick question-and-answer session with the “His” of Venus and Mars Bars.  Enjoy!

Allison: Ok, are you ready?

Greg: <<Ignoring me>>

A: Greg, you ready?

G: Mmhmm.

A: I need you to answer some questions for the blog.  I’m interviewing you.

G: Make it good.

A: Tell the readers why you started blogging.

G: Because you told me to.  (Don’t say that. -A) OK, because I like to write, I like to be healthy, and I thought we could tell people about our experiences and be kind of funny about it.

A: What did you eat today?

G: A granola bar and a Full Throttle energy drink for breakfast; a bowl of tortellini salad, a 1 oz. cup of peanut butter, several mozzarella sticks and jalapeno chicken tacos, a few pieces of maple sausage, and a sample of Red Velvet cake around lunchtime; and a bowl of collard greens and beans for dinner.  I was at a trade show for work today.  Not normal.

A: Why is being healthy so important to you?

G: like to exercise so I can eat and drink whatever I want.  So being healthy is important to me because it allows me to do just that.

A: If you had to choose your last meal on Earth, what would it be?

G: Chicken and rice with Campbell’s mushroom gravy, made by my mom, with Green Giant corn in butter sauce. (Not something I made? -A) No, if I’m not going to be here tomorrow, I don’t need to be healthy today.

A: OK, time for a confession.  What are your bad habits?

G: Picking at my nails.  (Greg, that’s disgusting.  Do you want people to know that? – A) Yes, it’s my bad habit.

A: If you could dine with any celebrity chef, who would it be?

G: I guess Wylie Dufresne.  He seems like the most down-to-earth, normal, friendly guy and I find that whole molecular gastronomy thing is really cool.  I know a lot of people aren’t attracted to that style of cooking, but I think it’s amazing.  If I’m going to dine with somebody, I want somebody that’s fun and who will make me great food.  Wylie seems like he could do that.

A: What’s with all the running?

G: There’s not a lot to do in West Virginia.  As I said in an earlier post, I was a little chunky from college, and I was bored.  Once you start, you just want to keep pushing yourself.  When you run 3 miles, you want to run 5.  After 5, you want to run 7.  It’s pushing yourself, and it’s a good time.  Everyone needs a hobby.  I like movies, television, and I can run.

A: What’s something you’d like to be better at?

G: Cooking.  For you, for me, and because I like it and want to be better at it.  I like to be creative, and I want to be good enough at cooking that I can create new things.

A: What’s something people don’t know about you?

I clear my schedule every Tuesday and Wednesday night to watch So You Think You Can Dance, and sometimes I imitate them to make Ally laugh.

A: Any last words?

G: If Eddie Murphy can be raw, then this is me, medium rare. (Greg, no one is going to know what that means.  I don’t even know what that means.  Say something else. -A) Pass me a beer. (Don’t say that either. -A) Wu-Tang.  What?  These are MY last words.  Can I have pretzels and peanut butter now?

 

So there you have it.  Now, you know Greg a little bit better, and we’ve gotten through another post until my camera is fixed.  Mission complete.

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His: Sportscenter and Spaghetti

As a show of my love for Ally, I have agreed to attempt cooking one meal a week for us.  It’s a huge sacrifice I know.  Not just for me and my very important time but for Ally because God knows my food probably won’t be that good.  I’m a man (I use that term loosely) who makes a few things well, but I’ve also ruined my fair share too; my crowning achievement being instant pudding that somehow ended up tasting like play-doh.  And really, the play-doh probably tasted better.  It’s also a great excuse for me to eat some red meat which has become a delicacy in our house.

Delicious?

Delicious?

Well, last night was my first attempt at a meal as per our agreement, and I drew my inspiration from Sportscenter of all places.  Several months back, they did a feature piece on Arizona Cardinals All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald’s off-season activities.  One of them happens to be cooking.  He and Italian celebrity chef “Chef Steff” (I couldn’t find his last name for the life of me) made Spaghetti with Filet Mignon Bolognese.  The idea sounded and looked amazing and pretty original.  So when I said I drew my inspiration from this story, I meant that I took that dish and made it myself.  And in my defense, they did not provide instructions so the cooking part was actually my doing with advice from a few people who actually know what they’re doing in a kitchen.

Chef Steff

Chef Steff

I started with two six ounce filets, hit them with a little salt and pepper, diced them into manageable bites and gave them a light flour coating. 

Browning the Meat

Browning the Meat

 I cooked them on the stove top in a little bit of olive oil until they were browned all the way around and took them off the fire.  Keeping the same pan over the heat, I added one diced yellow onion, three cloves of garlic (Ally’s a garlic guru) and a handful of chopped mushrooms.

Use Garlic Liberally

Use Garlic Liberally

After everything had caramelized, I added a cup of red wine for flavor and to deglaze the pan.  I used a wonderful, subtle Cabernet Sauvignon known as “Two Buck Chuck.” 

God Bless Trader Joe's

God Bless Trader Joe's

Seriously though, for an actual retail cost of $5, it’s really not that bad.  Ally and I both highly recommend Trader Joe’s wines if you have access to them.  Anyway, after the wine had reduced, I added one 35 oz can of Italian peeled tomatoes that I crushed by hand of course. 

I'm Feeling Saucey

I'm Feeling Saucey

 The last step was to add the meat back to the sauce to finish cooking.  After simmering for another ten minutes or so, it was finished. Continue reading

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Hers: Exercise Gets You On The News

Some of you may have read Greg’s post a few days ago about the KOGA workout.   I think his focus was on how much his ass hurt the next day, so I’ll give a little bit of background about one of the best ways I’ve found to break a sweat, and how it got me on the local news.

The KOGA workout was created by Jon Koga, a personal trainer and fitness guru out of Long Island, NY.   It combines high-intensity cardio kickboxing with yoga poses, resulting in an ass-kicking a la Walker Texas Ranger, Yogi division.   Jon’s passion is infectious, and after one class, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be signing up for another.   You can also be certain that your muscles will be shaking and you’ll be sweating like a beast.

I found KOGA about 6 years ago, while living back home on Long Island after college.   I was a devoted attendee in the weekly classes and, as always, a fan of exercise that doesn’t actually FEEL like exercise.   KOGA was a great way to alleviate stress, burn calories, and, as a kicker, my abs weren’t looking too bad.  I was hooked.

Unfortunately, after moving to NYC for work, I was unable to find a gym that offered the cardio-beating I loved.   I settled for the occasional Spin class and spent the rest of the time staring at the clock on the elliptical, wishing the time away. It wasn’t until this past August that I noticed a flyer for a KOGA demonstration at a local Summer Streets event.  I made plans to attend the class, hopeful, but not terribly optimistic.  Could it be?

IT WAS!

I’ve since reconnected with Jon Koga and his team, feeding my addiction as often as I can at gyms around the metro area.   I am also making the jump and getting certified to teach in November.   When Jon called me a few weeks ago and asked me to attend a taping for the local NYC news, I was glad to help spread the word.  KOGA is slowly making it’s way through the Tri-State area, and with any luck, it will end up in gyms near YOU very soon!

If you have any questions about getting your butt kicked or how to get involved, please email me at venusandmarsbars@gmail.com!

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His: Tired, Lazy; Here’s A List

Sorry guys, but I don’t have it in me tonight.  We’ll just say it was a long day.  I don’t want to make excuses so I won’t.  That IS mine.  I didn’t make it.  Instead of trying to be funny or ironic or anything else, I’m going to give you a list that may give you a better idea of who I am.  More lists will follow when I’m too tired to think about anything else.

Favorite Foods:

1. Pizza-Cheese, bread, tomato sauce and additional meat oriented toppings…what could be more delicious?  My favorite Pizza ever in NYC deserves its own post so I won’t get into it now.

My Favority in DE, not in NYC.

My Favorite in DE, not in NYC.

2. Chicken- I know it’s generic, but there isn’t a chicken dish out there that I won’t enjoy.  If I had to pick a favorite, it would be chicken parm.  And you can even put it on pizza.

Kenny Rogers Roasters....Best Seinfeld Ever...This Is Ally's Though

Kenny Rogers Roasters....Best Seinfeld Ever...This Is Ally's Though

3. Pierogies- So Ally’s grandmother (Babci) is straight off the boat from Poland and makes some killer pierogies (just a bit better than Mrs. T’s).  I’ve also had the privilege of going to Poland and trying them there so these delicious little Eastern European Dumplings were an easy choice for my top three.

Not Exactly Babci's But Close Enough

Not Exactly Babci's But Close Enough

4. Pretzels and Peanut Butter- Yes, it has to be together.  I don’t remember the last time I went to bed without eating this combination….enough said.

Not Even Close To Joking About This

Not Even Close To Joking About This

5. Beer- It’s liquid bread…think about it.

Real Men Drink Bud Heavy.  Wait...Am I A Real Man?

Real Men Drink Bud Heavy. Wait...Am I A Real Man?

Troeg's Dreamweaver Wheat; Light, Crisp, Refreshing

Troeg's Dreamweaver Wheat; Light, Crisp, Refreshing

Smuttynose Pumpkin; A

Smuttynose Pumpkin; A Great Fall Treat

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Hers: A Sorry Attempt

I wanted to write something clever and interesting tonight, something that will make you keep coming back to this blog.  I wanted to be witty and entertaining and intelligent and original.  I also do not want Greg to yell at me in the morning because I said I was going to write and then fell asleep watching “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”  This happens more than I would like to admit.

Here’s the deal: my brain is fried, and my body is soon to follow.  So, in lieu of a nonsensical post about nothing at all, I will leave you with a picture that makes me happy.

Liz Padilla Memorial 5K

Liz Padilla Memorial 5K

This is my “official” race photo from my 5K a few weeks ago.  I received it in my email this morning, and it was a nice reminder on an otherwise dreary Monday.  I like that I am smiling like a lunatic, mostly because I am glad that I can stop running, but also because Greg, my sister, and my friend Lindsay are a few feet away and cheering for me.  My form is probably all wrong, and I’d like to shave a minute off my time at the next race, but I still really like this picture.  Look, Ma, I did it!

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His: Do I Look Like A Grunter?

Weird title huh?  I know, but I thought I would do my best Tarantino impression and start with the end and fill in the gaps as we go.  And I just shot Marvin in the face!

That Is A Tasty Burger.

That Is A Tasty Burger.

Anyway, it started over a year ago when we joined a local gym in our neighborhood.  The standard health reasons for joining you can probably assume, but the ACTUAL reason that we chose the one that we did (and we still belong) is because there is free parking.  The redeeming qualities of the gym (which will remain nameless) end there.  And for what we get, the $63 a month that we pay really seems like extortion. Come on! A buddy of mine goes to an NYC rec center and pays $75 a year.  Granted, he has to stay alert at all times and there is a high stabbing rate, but I think I could handle it.  I used to watch OZ.

In My Head, This Is The Rec Center

In My Head, This Is The Rec Center

And I understand that places like Equinox and NYSC are even more, but you probably get what you pay for.  What we get is an unfriendly staff, really shitty Queens electro Euro-trash pop music and headphone connections that never work for their four televisions.  What are we?  Amish?  And seriously, is it me or shouldn’t the staff at a FITNESS CENTER look like they use the equipment every once in a while?  Honestly, I think ten percent of the workforce has ever worked out.  Even when one of them does, you wish they hadn’t.  Like the one time the manager’s vajay jay was quite visible due to her unflattering and unnecessarily short shorts.

Not A Personal Trainer

Not A Personal Trainer

They try to compensate for their shortcomings by offering four dollar smoothies and classes like the dance class that I talked about in my last post and a boxing class taught by a guy who I’m pretty sure fought Joe Lewis (use the Google).

BULLY! BULLY? BULLY!

BULLY! BULLY? BULLY!

I know at this point, you may be thinking, “Stop whining and switch gyms then!”  Well, that’s exactly what we did.  Or at least we tried to.  As I eluded to earlier, we are still frequenting this Meat Head Mecca.  We finally concluded that free parking trumps everything.  But before we had to concede defeat, we explored our options….or option I should say.  Ally and I went to visit a new Planet Fitness (famous for its $19.95 per month policy).  It was great inside; plenty of equipment, plenty of tv’s and best of all, it was cheap.  We left, feeling excited but a little dirty like we had cheated on a lover.  The following week, we mustered up enough courage to break it off with the other gym.

We marched straight up to the counter to the most unfriendly employee they have and said, “We’d like to cancel our membership.”

“Why,” she responded arrogantly, sticking her pierced nose up at us.

“Uh, because Planet Fitness is only $20 per month and I can save $500 a year if we switch,” was my retort.

I was prepared for the worst and yet secretly hoped it would be like the episode of Friends when Chandler tries to quit his gym, but they get the super hot chick to convince him otherwise.

I Would Have Stayed if SHE Asked.  I Hate You, Tom Brady.

I Would Have Stayed if SHE Asked. I Hate You, Tom Brady.

No, not even close.  Her first response.  Her first inkling.  The thing that she thought beyond a shadow of a doubt would convince us to stay was, “You know they don’t let you grunt there.”

Insert title here.

“Uh, hold on, I have to get Jerry the manager,” she muttered.

So Jerry comes over, all smiles, ready to keep us in his Thunderdome.  Again, we tell him that we’re going to Planet Fitness.  He proceeds to assure us that we’ll be back and that several members previously switched to Planet Fitness but ultimately ended up back there.  He finally agreed to let us go.  We were free at last, free at last.  No longer did we have to deal with this place and awful members who stare at their abs in the mirror (a daily occurrence).

But alas, like those dysfunctional relationships that you just can’t get out of, we got back together.  We couldn’t let go of the parking.  It was like they knew something horrible about us, and in order to keep that secret, we agreed to go back to them.  And we’re still together today.  But the itch is back to switch again.  And this time, we’re staying local.  We won’t need parking because we can walk to this gym.  We would have switched earlier but it’s more expensive so we were hesitant.  But it doesn’t matter anymore, we can’t take it.  So when we break up again, you’ll hear about it.   Here we go!  Like a Band Aid!

Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!

Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!

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