Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wild and Five Miles

The last day of July has felt extremely peaceful around here. Scout cuddled under the covers with me while Terry got ready for work, and when I finally forced myself to get up, make breakfast, and hit the gym, I felt inspired to tackle a tougher-than-usual five miles.

Since I'm combining my half marathon training with Tina's boot camp workouts, I have to rearrange some of the cardio so I don't injure myself or burn out before the big race. We're supposed to do intervals tomorrow and HIIT yesterday, so I combined the two to reach five miles today--and it was crazy hard! I warmed up, completed four intervals of running/recovery, then did five rounds of HIIT for the last mile. I wouldn't normally push this hard, and I probably won't do it again, but I did like the interval + HIIT combo and would try a toned-down version in the future.

Yowza. Just writing it all down was exhausting! This workout actually got me to a little over five miles,   but I didn't want to cut corners on the warm up or cool down.

After a shower and some overnight oats, I finished the last few chapters of Wild, this month's PB Fingers book club selection. My review is below!

For lunch, I was excited for French toast. Don't ask me why; when a craving strikes, I must answer! But I pumped up the protein by adding peanut butter and almonds and threw in some strawberries for a little berry boost.

Peanut Butter and "Jelly" French Toast
Serves 2
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries
  • Pure maple syrup
Heat a large pan sprayed with cooking spray over medium heat. In a shallow, wide bowl, whisk the eggs, vanilla, milk, and cinnamon. Dunk each slice of bread into the egg mixture, absorbing a little of the liquid (be careful not to over-soak--you don't want mushy French toast!). Grill the toast about 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

To assemble, spread one tablespoon of peanut butter on one piece of bread, then top with another piece of bread. Garnish with sliced strawberries, sliced almonds, and some maple syrup. Repeat with the other two pieces of bread, and enjoy!

I was starving, and this meal satisfied my tummy and my taste buds! It tastes like peanut butter and jelly, but just a little sweeter and fresher!

Okay, on to the review...

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
To check out other reviews, check out Julie's blog; you can also participate in the virtual book club. Keep up with PB Fingers over the next several days to vote on the next book!

The book is about a young woman who, in the wake of her mother's death and her own painful divorce, decides to hike approximately 1,100 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail--solo. With absolutely no hiking experience and basically one guidebook, Cheryl encounters blistering heat, dangerous snow, other hikers, adventures in hitchhiking, hunger, dehydration, and, eventually, her own real self.

Overall, I really liked the book and found it compelling; I didn't want to stop reading. The majority of the book describes her trials and victories along the trail, including losing most of her toenails and--spoiler alert--just surviving the damn thing. I enjoyed reading about how difficult it was for her. That sounds weird, but it was awesome to read about a woman exactly my age undertaking this grueling journey completely on her own. I found myself rooting for her to finish. Also, I thought the imagery was fantastic; I felt I was able to envision most of the sights she described, though I'm sure they're even more breathtaking in person.

I actually found myself not liking Cheryl as a person for most of the book; she seemed weak and whiny. Yes, her mother died, and obviously it affected her deeply, but she acted out so irrationally and irresponsibly that I had little pity for her. Her divorce was her fault, which she admits throughout the book, but it frustrated me to watch her hurt the person who cared most for her. As I learned more about Cheryl's past, I grew slightly more sympathetic toward her.

Regardless, the book as a whole was inspiring and humbling. I was worried that it would come off as too dramatic (hiking such a distance is certainly an accomplishment, but I wasn't about to believe that she was suddenly a whole new person), but it didn't. She slowly came to realizations about herself and her life, but she still had questions at the end. She felt proud of herself when she finished, but she wasn't throwing a parade. I thought she ended the journey as a far more humble person than she began it, and I appreciated that humility.


Questions for those who have read Wild

  1. What did you think of Cheryl's relationships with her siblings and stepfather after her mom's death? 
  2. What do you think changed the most about Cheryl as she hiked the PCT?
  3. What frustrated you most about Cheryl throughout the book?
  4. How did you feel about Cheryl's choice of her last name?
  5. Books are common motifs throughout the book; how do you feel these motifs influenced Cheryl and the path of the novel?
My thoughts:
  1. I felt that Cheryl played the victim a lot with her family. She acted as though they had changed and they didn't contact her, but family is a two-way street. Given her behavior, I couldn't fault the family for distancing themselves from her.
  2. I think Cheryl gained humility, as I mentioned above, and she gained some perspective that life is not out to get her. Yes, bad things happen, but you can push through them.
  3. I could not stand Cheryl's irresponsible money-spending on the trail. It seems so petty, and certainly she survived on what she had, but I got angry the second and third times she ran out of money. Why are you buying all these crazy snacks if you only have $6 left?! Get them at the next stop and eat what you have! It showed she still had more growing up to do.
  4. I thought the name was fitting, but it seemed strange to me that she was so proud of being lost and that she wanted that idea of being lost to stay with her for the rest of her life. I'm surprised to see that she kept the name (the novel is by Cheryl Strayed) even after she found her way again.
  5. I haven't read most of the books Cheryl mentions on her path, but I found them very symbolic. The fact that she was willing to bear their weight and that they were like her friends along the way made me feel like she was returning back to her old self, the one who was earning her literature degree. 

I would love to hear your thoughts on the novel, and I recommend it if you haven't read it yet.


  1. that french toast looks so good! i think you just made me crave that for tomorrow :)

    1. No need to wait for tomorrow! Breakfast for dinner is perfectly acceptable. :-) Hope you like them!

  2. That looks like such a fun mix-up! But yeah on not pushing too hard when you have other goals with the running. Still awesome workout. I pinned it. :)