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Bucket List or Goals

July 6, 2011

Until 2008 when the movie was released, I had never heard the term “Bucket List”. I still haven’t seen the movie, but I understand the concept – put together that list of things you want to see/do/experience before you kick the proverbial bucket. It seems like such a negative concept, to just check things off the list on your way to dying. We all know how the story ends, but I don’t think we need to give the ending away with the title.

I have dreams and goals – things I want to do while I live this life. To that end, I accomplished one of my goals this last weekend. I ran the Freedom Four race – a four mile run held every year on the 4th of July in Glen Ellyn. I first saw this run four years ago when Mike, YJ and I went to watch Mike’s brother Mark participate. It was the first race I ever watched and I really got caught up in all the cheering and sense of accomplishment there was for everyone crossing the finish line. I decided then that one day I would run that race, and I continued saying some day every year when we would go to watch Mark run. In March of this year I decided that this is it, this is the year.

I’ve run four miles before and didn’t find that to be as intimidating as the course itself, which is rather hilly. Along with that came added pressure of it being an annual family event to go watch the race (a Gregory family member has run this race every year for as long as anyone can remember.) I printed the course route and started running it a couple of times a week so I would know the whole route as it wound its way through town.

Without my knowing it, Mike sent an e-mail to our families and a couple of friends, asking them to come out to the race and cheer me on. The cat was let out of the bag pretty quickly on that e-mail though and the knowledge that so many people (13) would be there just to see me run, added to the pressure.

Race day came with bright, sunny skies and I was ready to go – I knew the route turn by turn and hill by hill. What I wasn’t prepared for was the atmosphere along the race route with families standing at the end of their driveways cheering the runners on. A few of them even had sprinklers set out at the street so we could run through the water to cool off. And one neighborhood had stretched an arch of red, white and blue balloons across the street for us to run under.

As I headed into the final 1/4 mile or so of the race I spotted family and friends who had spread out to cheer me on through the last stretch. First Mark, then Jimmy, Angie, Pam, Pam’s mom, Andrew, Nicki, Walt, my mom and YJ. I hit the track for the last sprint and there was Mike with his hand out to slap mine as I ran by. Dave and Deb were standing at the last corner of the track as I headed to the finish line. Passing by each one of them, clapping and encouraging me, was the highlight of my run. My brother-in-law Jimmy even took a video of the runners coming up “picture hill” (my name for a short hill where we always stand to take pictures) and put it on YouTube. I run by at about 1:48 if you’re inclined to watch.

It was a great experience, one I am glad to have behind me, although I’ll probably go out and run the same route this weekend.

Here’s a recipe that’s perfect for a pre- or post-race dinner. Thai basil is different from the more common sweet basil that’s used in italian cooking. It has a slight licorice flavor but it’s not overwhelming. I have a pot of Thai basil growing on my deck but I’ve seen it at larger farmers markets as well.

Thai Basil Fried Rice
serves 4-6

4 cups cooked jasmine or brown rice (I cook my rice the day before and refrigerate it overnight.)
2 tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 eggs, beaten or the equivalent egg substitute.
2 cups of frozen peas/green beans/carrots/corn, thawed (or your favorite mixed vegetable)
1/3 cup fresh Thai basil
4 or 5 green onions sliced to ¼ inch pieces

Whisk soy sauce, sugar, fish sauce and hoisin in small dish. Set aside.

Pour the canola oil into the wok and heat. When the oil is hot, add the cooked rice, stir fry quickly to heat through. Make a well in the rice, pour in the eggs and cook to a loose scramble, then toss together with rice. Add thawed vegetables, basil and onion and mix together to heat the vegetables.

Pour in soy/hoisin sauce mixture and stir fry until well combined and rice is slightly brown but not burned.

Nutrition Information (based on 4 servings):

Weight Watchers PointsPlus – 9 per cup

Calories – 368
Total Fat – 12 g
Cholesterol – 92 mg
Sodium – 954 mg
Total Carbohydrates – 53 g
Dietary Fiber – 4 g
Sugars – 7 g
Protein – 5 g

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