The Weekly Thing, 5/15 + #mondaymotivation

Over the weekend, my friend Dani posted something way rad on Facebook. She’s the lead singer of Nashville-based ska/rocksteady band Soul Radics and apparently a gentleman bought one of their singles. He told her of his purchase and decided to inform her that he noticed the single had a Side-1 and a Side-A. He thought this was peculiar, potentially a mistake.

She corrected him — “That record has no 2nd or B-side — it was all fiyah!”

If that isn’t a metaphor for life, I don’t know what is.

There’s pizza below, but first…


Last week I started my phase 4 and it rocked my world. Hitting that 90% weight for my working sets was certainly nothing to joke about and we go up even higher this week. Additionally, I put in days 1-3 of the 21 Day Kettlebell Challenge (day 3 was rest), finished another week of my pull-up program, taught 3 classes at TITLE Boxing Club, did two hours of Muay Thai and additional core + conditioning work as described last week, and got in three runs for a total of 5.5 miles on the week.

Half-Marathon training is three weeks away, y’all.

This week will be almost identical. I’ll be doing three classes at TITLE including two today (boxing this AM, kickboxing this PM), lifting twice, doing days 4-6 of the 21 Day Kettlebell Challenge, getting in my pull-ups and trying to get in at least 5 miles of running. The main differences are that I’m going to try to get in three hours of the Muay Thai training and my working weight/sets for my lifting will look like this:

Upper/Lower Body Days

Weight: 95%

Sets: 4

Reps: 4

It’s looking like the next week consists of the same weight and reps but one more set. Fabulous.


Completely Unrelated

It’s been at least a year since I got this brilliant idea to have a trust fall-esque pizza party at my house where I’d invite friends over for a pizza and wine dinner. My guests would supply the wine and I would make a series of experimental pizzas. I put together five recipes with various topping combinations and went so far as to make all five, taking photos of each and making detailed notes on what worked and what I should try the next time I made them.

And that was it. I never re-made the pizzas and the party never happened. It’s been in the back of my mind, though, just waiting for the right time to reemerge, I suppose. That time was over the weekend when I found those photos and notes. I decided that last night it was time to get back on top of things and I put together a sixth pizza option. I’m keeping my toppings and recipes to myself — only to be revealed to party attendees — but I’m letting this one out of the bag because it was awesome and it felt good to be back in action.

Confession: I didn’t make the sauce. How embarrassing.

Not embarrassing, though: you’re looking at a homemade crust topped with sauce, homemade bacon, caramelized pineapples, fried mushrooms, chopped spinach, monterrey Jack cheese and fresh scallions. My take on the classic Hawaiian. I’m thinking next time I’ll add jalapeƱos and drizzle it with honey.

And there will be a next time.

And there will be a party.

Will you be invited?


Relevant, Again

I’ve had a lot of interest shown lately in my meal prepping so look out for a detailed post (or posts) and maybe even a few videos describing what I do, how I do it and why I do it. Meal prepping is a good thing, y’all. They say abs are made in the kitchen and while I can’t guarantee that, I can let you know that Erin has lost 4 pants sizes, largely due to how hard she’s been working out, but also because of her nutrition.

FOUR SIZES, Y’ALL

If it works, it works. I’ll drink (in moderation) to that!

Anyway, that’s Monday for you. Here’s to living this week like we don’t have a B-Side.

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So I Made Some Bacon…

I don’t fit a lot manly stereotypes. I’m not an armchair quarterback, don’t go hunting, don’t own guns, have no use for a man cave, don’t like fishing and have no working knowledge of automobiles. I like doing laundry, spending the majority of my home time in the kitchen and I love shopping for new clothes. Chances are, if you have a preconceived notion about me based solely on my gender, it’s probably wrong.

Except cooking with fire.

Gods bless America, I love cooking with fire.

Last year I finally trashed my old propane gas grill. It was a hard break-up because it was my first outdoor grill and together we learned a lot about fire, meat, cooking meat on fire and singeing arm and hand hair before dinner. The grill had rusted out, had a faulty starter and ran out of propane mid-chicken. While the chicken finished off in the oven, I figured I could either head out the next day to get more propane or I could buy a new grill altogether.

I went with the latter.

And with the latter, I also chose to switch fuel sources and buy a barrel-style charcoal grill. It’s an inexpensive Char-Griller with 830 square-inches of grilling space that utilizes cast-iron grates. Barbecue fanatics and YouTube recipe makers will tear this grill to shreds and modify it to the point where it’s no longer recognizable but it looks cool to me and it’s made some lovely steaks, shrimp, chickens, mushrooms and vegetables.

Sure, I wanted to switch to charcoal as a fuel source, hence the decision to purchase this grill, but my real reason was the side fire box upgrade. The fire box was sold separately and I made the upgrade shortly after the first of this year. I’ve been wanting to get my feet wet in the world of smoking and I now had my first-ever legitimate offset smoker. I was PUMPED.

Now before you start with the “they make automated smokers blah blah blah blah” let me just tell you that I’m not at all interested in them. Are they both handy and dandy? Sure, but they take out a lot of the effort that makes smoking meat so special. The idea of babysitting a piece of meat for hours at a time may be bothersome for folks, but to me it’s a challenge worth accepting.

I broke my smoker’s cherry with some barbecue ribs a few weeks ago using a dry rub and 3/2/1 smoking method. I learned a lot during this first smoke and made some pretty incredible ribs considering they were my first-ever on the barbecue.

Not much more information to give here, not even photos, because this post is about bacon, y’all.

I had been digging through some articles from barbecue guru Meathead Goldwyn and started thinking about how perfect it would be if I could learn how to make my own bacon. After having success with the ribs, I knew bacon had to be my next project, so I headed to the market to pick up a pork belly.

I started with a 5lbs pork belly and after washing it off, threw it up onto my cutting board, knife in hand, ready to take the skin off. The first lesson I learned: pork belly skin is a pain. In. The. Ass. to take off. I had a pretty crappy knife I was using, but from what I can tell, there is no good or easy way of doing it at home. Sure, I could have a butcher take it off for me, but my intention was to do it all and do it all myself. I hacked and scratched and peeled and tore at the skin until it was removed from the pork belly, though there was an enormous amount of fat still attached to the skin.

I’d later learn that the difference between pork rinds and cracklins is cracklins have a layer of fat on them. Fine, then. It was decided — I was also making cracklins.

I special ordered some pink curing salt (since the shit isn’t safe for human consumption and isn’t sold in stores) and once it arrived, I mixed it in with some salt, black pepper and brown sugar — a simple dry-rub and equally simple cure.

After curing for about a week, it was time to rock. I took out the cured pork belly rinsed it thoroughly and patted it dry. It went back in the fridge on a rack to further dry off while I prepared the skins. According to Meathead, it’s best to cut the skin into strips and then boil it for half an hour. This helps render a lot of the fat from the skins and will also help prevent the skins from getting tough later on. Once these were ready, I fired up my grill and prepared a few chunks of hickory. We were about to make smoke.

I received an iGrill Mini for Christmas and finally got to use it on my ribs. It worked perfectly as long as I was in range, which was frequently as I continued to add coals and wood chips to my fire. With the iGrill inserted into the thickest part of my pork belly and my grill fired up to about 180 degrees, I threw on both the pork belly and the skins.

The skins were supposed to smoke for about an hour, which they did, and I took them off while the pork belly finished. After about 45 more minutes (1 hour, 45 minutes total) the internal temp of my pork belly had reached our goal of 150 degrees — it was time to come off.

It’s encouraged to chill the slab of meat before trying to slice it because it’s easier to slice that way. It’s also encouraged to go ahead and slice off a piece of the hot shit because you’ve worked hard and, by gods, you deserve it!

My skins went back on to the grill over indirect heat while I grilled some chicken breasts for weekly meal prep. They grilled for about 45 more minutes and were puffy and popping around when I pulled them. They looked fantastic.

In the end, my cracklins weren’t great. They were still tough and not that enjoyable to eat. Then again, I’ve never had cracklins so maybe this is how they’re supposed to be. Who knows. What I DO know is that my bacon came out great! The flavor is definitely there and I’m very proud of what I was able to make.

The next lesson I learned is that I need a slicer. Hand cutting the bacon is laborious and inaccurate. I’ve ended up with bacon that’s sliced so thick it’s almost like strips of salty ham. I’m still not mad.

For real. This stuff is good, you guys.

On Taking Time Off and Stretch Goals Not Always Working

A few weeks ago at the gym I spoke with a trainer about how I felt like I was maybe flirting with overtraining and feared the fatigue and other nasty things that come along with it. He suggested that if I felt like I was seriously getting to that point I needed to take some time off – maybe as much as a week. I was fine, though, really – I mean, I wasn’t missing any workouts and was able to get my miles in, though my runs were steadily getting worse. I noticed my power hour workouts at Title Boxing Club were draining me, leaving me exhausted and struggling whereas they used to energize me. I’m probably just not fueling properly, right? I mean, I had been eating some junk lately so I’m sure that was it – I didn’t need to take any time off!

Last Monday’s power hour basically left me feeling broken. It wasn’t a particularly difficult workout but my body felt like it just couldn’t take any more. Tuesday morning’s run was supposed to be 3 miles and I was only able to (barely) eek 2 miles out and I felt the same afterward. Being just less than three weeks away from my 10k, it was not a great time for my body to say “Hey, man – I need a break” but it did just that and so, despite my hard head telling me not to, I did it.

I didn’t box and I didn’t run for five consecutive days and I spent the entirety of them wishing I could get a workout in. We’d drive down the road and I’d watch runners pounding the pavement and I’d be in my car writhing with jealousy. I had laid my clothes out for Wednesday’s boxing class that I didn’t go to and I spent the rest of the week looking at them and gritting my teeth trying to not put them on and get a quick session in. In a nutshell: I hated not exercising.

In the meantime Erin and I went to the mountains for a few days – a baby of a town called Bryson City in North Carolina, a town boasting a population of 1,411, is home to Nantahala Brewing Company, the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad, and is the birthplace of University of Tennessee quarterback extraordinaire-turned NFL “Least Valuable Quarterback of 1997” award winner, Heath Shuler. Yeah, there’s not a lot going on in Bryson City but that was the whole point – to get away to the peace and quiet – somewhere away from the responsibilities of home where Erin could read and paint and I could read, write, and cook until I couldn’t stand it anymore.

And we did just that. I intended to take a lot of photos but all I really came back with were these two snaps of my boy the #Beest and our dinner for Friday night: Grilled jerk chicken with fried plantains and garlic toast. Dig ’em:

I was also able to pound out a rough draft of my first story for the Pulp magazine project Strange Lands I’m getting to be a part of. I won’t give up the plot but the working title right now is Just Ride though that’s certain to change as I make edits to the draft. I’ll be honest, it’s been difficult getting my writer’s mind back and once I finished I felt a lot like the dog in that meme, oh which one is it….?

japbcvpavbzau9dbuaxf

Yeah – that’s it.

Anyway, five days of mostly rest later and it was back in action this morning with another Title Boxing Club Power Hour and I didn’t have to cross my fingers too hard because I pumped out an intense workout and felt awesome afterward! The magic 5 day rest really apparently did the trick to allow my body to recover completely. We’ll certainly see if that really is the case tomorrow when I get out for a runrise morning short run. 12 days ’til 10K!

With that, it pains me to say that there’s really no way I’m reaching my runnerversary goal of 340 miles. I have three runs this week and I don’t intend for either of them to exceed 3 or 4 miles in length. The important thing is that I reached my first year goal of 300 miles and every mile past that has just been thick, nasty, country sausage gravy. NOM.

Time Period Total Distance
Couch-to-5k (8/14-10/14) 64.59 Miles
Runtastic Runs (10/14-4/15) 115.04 Miles
5k-to-10k (4/15-6/21) 87.52 Miles
Runtastic Runs (6/23-present) 53.04 Miles

Total Miles Ran To-Date: 320.19 Miles

Miles Left Until Stretch Goal, 340 Miles: 19.81

Number of Miles Per Run to Reach Yearly Goal*: 6.6 Miles

This is assuming I run three days per week every week until the week of 8/14/2015

2015 Miles 196.97 Miles

Miles Left Until 2015 Goal (350 Miles): 155.03

Race Times

Race Time
Knoxville Hot to Trot 5k 2014 35:08
Calhoun’s New Year’s Day 5k 2015 No official time
Zen Evo Chocolate Lover’s Valentine’s 5K 2015 33:10
Barley’s St. Patrick’s Day 5k 2015 34:34
Covenant Health 5k 2015 33:39
Pilot Fireball Moonlite Classic 5k 33:05

I guess Sunday concludes the year in running. I’ll be changing the table up a bit to be a bit more relevant then. It’s definitely not going away.