For quite awhile now, both myself and my fiancé have been eyeing up Vibram Five Fingers. It seems like they’ve become a hit over night. I realize they’ve been around for awhile, as a lot of the running blogs I read have been jockeying them for quite some time, but the craze has definitely hit a high. My fiancé in particular has been interested in barefoot running for quite some time now. I myself, however, remember seeing a woman running through the park about two years ago barefoot and thinking to myself that she was crazy. After reading more, though, I was willing to give them a shot.
Apparently these bad boys are hard to come by. Luckily, one of the shoe stores in my hometown has been selling them for awhile, and even though they’ve been going like hotcakes (mmm, hot cakes), they just so happened to have a pair for both my fiancé and I! So, on our very last summer hours of the year this past Friday, we headed to pick up a pair for ourselves. We wound up getting the KSO’s in black, since they were listed to be good for everything; running, light hiking, water sports, every day use, etc. I expected to have a difficult time getting my toes into their individual pockets, but it was pretty easy. Maybe it’s because I’ve worn toe socks before, or maybe it was because I had an audience and felt like I had to succeed at the first try. Either way, they weren’t nearly as difficult to get on as I had imagined.
So, we set out for a short, easy, two mile run this morning to try them out. I had read on a lot of blogs to ease into them – no more than a mile or so was advised just to get yourself used to them. I had heard you’d feel muscles in your legs working you never knew you had. Needless to say I was a little intimidated by them. We decided to just feel the run out, and we wouldn’t do any more than two miles, even if we were feeling great. The first mile was a bit awkward – you could feel everything, so I really felt like I needed to watch where I was going. It also sounded weird, as though I was slamming my entire foot down with every step. I know that’s not what I was doing, though, because if there was one thing my mother taught me, it was not to slam my feet when I walked.
When the first mile marker popped up through my MapMyFitness, I was shocked that we did it in a 9:10/mile pace. It honestly felt SO slow. Granted, for a lot of runners out there that is slow. But last time I was training for my first half marathon, most runs were at a 9:40-10:40/mile pace, and that felt far from slow. After getting through the initial awkwardness of the first mile, our second mile felt even better. We ran it sub-9, and it seemed as though our legs and feet were finally communicating with one another and getting into the swing of things. I definitely think we could have kept going, probably for another 2+ miles. Being cautious, though, we decided to call it quits for the day, but we’ll be back out for a 4 miler tomorrow! So far, so good.
After the run, I got back to my second love – the kitchen. I quickly started whipping up Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars from Baking Serendipity, to bring to a pool party. Of course I’ve started to make a name for myself in bringing baked goods to parties, so I always have to make sure I’ve got something with me. These seemed different, and pretty straight forward. Since I was pressed for time (as always) the simplicity was much appreciated.
I think I’m finally getting the hang of creaming things, too. I still cringe when I see that listed as part of the directions, but I’m a little more confident. Up until recently every time I turned on my hand mixer, bits and pieces of butter and other ingredients would go flying. So today I decided to hold the bowl in the middle of the kitchen (or as far as the cord would reach) so that way it would only go on the floor, or me. Of course I got it on both, but it was definitely a lot less than usual. I really just need to get married so I can get myself a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.
The bars have a brownie-like consistency (and shape), but are essentially chocolate chip cookies with pieces of pretzels in them. I for one am a huge fan of the salty and sweet combo, so this was right up my alley. Everyone at the pool party seemed to feel the same way too! Unfortunately they were a little difficult to cut (the pieces of pretzel were hard to get through, some spots were crumbly) so they weren’t cut evenly. No one seemed to notice, though, and they were pretty much all devoured. They would probably be great with different chips too – white chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch, etc… the possibilities are endless! We have some leftovers, and I’m looking forward to enjoying them as a snack this week.
Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (heaping) cup broken pretzel rods
1. Break pretzel rods and set aside.
2. Cream butter, sugars and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Add gradually to wet ingredients, mixing well.
3. Fold in chocolate chips first, then pretzels, being careful to stir the pretzels gently to keep from breaking them.
4. Spread batter evenly into a greased 9×11″ baking dish and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.