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musings on fruit and running

October 24, 2010

Saturday morning we had something special and new with our breakfast.

On our way back from Yamanashi last week we passed through an organic store to pick up non-homogenized milk to feed my kefir colony, and while we were there I spotted a display featuring a cut one of these beauties at the not so horrible price of ¥398 (~$4) for a bag of four.

Mushroom & onion omelet made by Eric as per tradition, everything bagel with butter, & a rainbow red kiwi.

Apparently they are called Rainbow Red Kiwis, and as far as I can tell they are new to Japan. I’m not sure if that means they are available -only- in Japan, but as the only search results that came up on google were in Japanese, I’m inclined to believe so.

The kiwis themselves are slightly smaller than a normal kiwi and smooth skinned. The internet tells me that they are also supposed to be less sour than normal kiwis, but I don’t find kiwis to be particularly sour in the first place so I didn’t notice. They are sweet, moist, and squishy, but the main differences are just the color and lack of fur.

It was fun to try out a new variation on a classic fruit, though.

After breakfast I did a little cleaning and kitchen work, then set about slicing bananas for flash freezing, as our frozen banana supply had begun to run low, and to remedy that we’d bought a few bunches several days before to sit out on our counter and get brown.

Sliced, arranged on a plastic wrap lined cutting board, and ready for the freezer.

Fruit is pretty expensive in Japan, with one of the most affordable varieties being bananas. When I first moved to Japan bananas were pretty much the only fruit I keep on hand regularly due to my limited budget and sticker shock. I mostly ate them fresh with breakfast or as a snack for my first year or so in Japan, and got into the habit of tossing the overripe ones into the freezer for banana bread for convenience and to avoid waste.

Over the next few years I became accustomed to the higher fruit prices in Japan, and now keep a variety on hand at all times (I am a total fruit fiend, truth be told), which means we don’t eat quite as many fresh bananas as before. However, we still go through them at a pretty ridiculous rate since moving into our current apartment and purchasing a blender.

I would say now about 75% of our banana consumption is frozen. I blend bananas into smoothies & kefir instead of ice for creaminess and as a sweetener, cook them into oatmeal, use them for banana soft serve or as a baking sub, and I still make the occasional banana bread as well.

We keep a big gallon sized bag of banana slices in the freezer and replenish it as the bananas we buy go brown. This is usually enough, but occasionally our consumption spikes, and we have to buy a few extra bunches specifically to freeze; such as this week.

With the bananas sliced and settled into the freezer I set out on my first run since my 10k race last week. It took me about 30 to 45 minutes longer than planned to get myself to actually leave the house, because I tend to develop motivation issues when I’ve taken a break of a week or longer from running. I finally I set off on what I planned to be a quick and easy 5k at about 3:30 pm.

It was hard.

I struggled through most of the five kilometers up and down the river path I usually run along in my neighborhood. I felt sluggish and awkward, and each step seemed to come down heavier than it should have and was more difficult to pick up than I remembered. It took me until around the last .75 km to really feel like I knew what I was doing again.

It really baffles me that no matter how much I increase my endurance, distance, and overall running ability I always struggle with the 5k distance. My gut tells me that this is because some part of me feels the need to improve my speed when I run 5k, but even when I go out deliberately slow and tell myself I am aiming for a moderately paced 5k it seems to take more out of me than 6k, 7.5k, or even 8k.

My current theory is that because 5k is the distance I have run the most it’s harder to trick my mind into using sneaky coping methods to get through it. I think that when I go out on longer distances I compare them to 5k on some level and convince myself I need to conserve my strength to get through the whole run; and in response my brain somehow follows through on that.

May be crazy, but I’m at a loss for another explanation as to why 7.5k is so much easier for me to get through than a simple, slow 5k.

After my run I stretched, snacked on a mid-afternoon kefir smoothie & half an english muffin, and then showered. We had plans to meet a friend for dinner at 7 pm in Takadanobaba and wanted to leave home with enough time to hit the furniture shop we found last week and order a shelf for next to Eric’s computer before then.

We made it just in time, and managed to get back to the station just a few minutes after our friend, Derek arrived.

Derek was a classmate of ours in our Japanese classes at SF State prior to our move to Tokyo. He currently works for a Japanese company back home, and is sent to Tokyo on business for a few weeks at a time around three times a year. We always look forward to getting to see him again, and this was our first opportunity since late spring.

I suggested that we go to Chaika, the Russian restaurant that had been closed when we went there the week before, and everyone seemed to be agreeable. Dinner was pretty fantastic and I will be posting a full review very shortly.

Have any tips on getting over blocks running certain distances? What is your favorite use for bananas?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2010 12:09 am

    Great blog! This is my first time visiting. That must have been pretty depressing to deal with such expensive fruit at first! But creativity is the key and it looks like you’ve mastered it. I freeze bananas here a lot, but I never thought to cut them up. I just freeze them whole and toss them in the blender for smoothies.

    • October 26, 2010 3:26 pm

      Thanks for stopping by!

      It was pretty hard to adjust to the price differences at first. The idea that one tiny basket of strawberries could range in price from ¥300 to ¥800 at the supermarket was a shock. It did make me appreciate fruit in a whole new way, though.

      These days I’ve adjusted and consider it worth the price. I do make sure to stick to seasonal fruit and know where to shop for the best deals on various types, though!

      One strange thing about Japanese produce is that a higher price actually -does- correspond to higher quality about 75-90% of the time. I will never feel right shelling out for one of the ¥10,000 ($100) melons they have on sale in some stores, but the ¥4000 box of strawberries I received as a gift once were absolutely amazing.

      I used to freeze bananas whole, but I switched to slices earlier this year. It’s better for my blender and easier to grab exactly what as I need!

  2. October 26, 2010 3:17 am

    Those kiwis look tasty! I only realized a few months ago that you can eat kiwi skin. It makes kiwis so much more convenient, even though I feel kind of like I’m licking my cat with all that kiwi fur. And thanks for the brown banana reminder — I just watched an episode of Good Eats that talked about buying cheap, brown banana bunches and freezing in bulk. I have some brown bananas that definitely need to get frozen for when my kefir’s ready for nomming. ;)

    I know what you mean about 5Ks, too. I aim for 5K on most of my training runs, and it’s really hard for me not to go fast because I totally want to do 3 miles in 30 minutes (nice round number… yeah I’m a dork), which is about a minute per mile too fast for my happy running pace. Otherwise I’m just so bored on my usual 5K route.

    The two things that have helped me in the past are doing slightly shorter runs or listening to podcasts/audiobooks. I think shorter runs work because when have you ever run a 3.5km race? It’s hard to want to PR on something that random. And when I’m listening to an audiobook or podcast, I don’t really care what my pace is because I’m enjoying listening, so I don’t get bored and want to speed up. I’m perfectly happy trucking along at whatever pace feels good to my body that day.

    • October 26, 2010 4:09 pm

      Yeah. It didn’t occur to me until just under a year ago. I had a serious DUH moment the first time I saw people eat the skin. I ate the skin of pretty much everything else! I like to eat them when they’re still a little wet, when possible. Cuts down on the fuzz factor a bit. :D

      Bananas are are a -must- with kefir! My favorite is about a half a frozen banana and some other fresh fruit. (Strawberries, preaches or nectarines, and mango are my favs so far!). If your kefir is a little sour the banana evens it out, and it also adds a little creaminess, which is nice as kefir blends up a lot thinner than normal smoothies the way I make them.

      Yeah.. the thing is that I seem to struggle on 5ks even when I consciously work to keep myself slower than a 30m 5k pace. That’s the weird thing. My problem with shorter distances is that I’ve spent a lot of time running 3.6k (the distance between the two major streets on my route) and I know exactly how much time I need to do it in to equal the 30m 5k. Haha. Maybe I’ll try it again and see though? I haven’t run 3.6k since deciding I wanted to improve my endurance at the beginning of summer!

      I generally stick to music when running. But audiobooks/podcasts is a good idea. I listened to all the Harry Potter audio books earlier this year while walking to and from work, but thought I might get distracted from the story if I ran with them. It might be worth another shot…

  3. October 26, 2010 7:30 am

    Wow. I’ve never seen such a kiwi. I would be totally into a kiwi with smooth skin. I can’t eat kiwi with the skin on…the texture upsets me. Peaches are fine…kiwi…eh…not for me.

    I usually freeze my bananas in halves, as I most commonly use half a frozen banana in smoothies and such. I don’t really have any in storage right now though. Due to my influx of fresh produce from the CSAs, I haven’t been freezing things as much….or buying produce as much. Sure, I don’t get bananas in my boxes, but not needing anything else from the store tends to keep me from being in proximity of bananas.

    I have a couple in the house right now though, and I plan on freezing them.

    I dunno. 5K is a weird distance. I’m going to talk about it in my blog later, I think. I felt like today’s run was good…but strange.

    • October 26, 2010 4:18 pm

      It was my first time seeing them as well! Apparently they are brand new. We’ve had golden kiwis for a while, though. I think those might be hairless, too.. but I prefer regular kiwis and don’t usually get them.

      I used to freeze them either whole or in halves, but started doing slices to make my life easier. It fits into the freezer better and they don’t stick to each other quite so bad. Also it’s a lot easier to get just as much as I want, and they blend faster. Most importantly, though.. is that slices are important for the making of banana soft-serve. <3

      Bananas are important to me. I will make sure one of us stop -just- for bananas if we look to be in danger of running out, and Eric knows to always get discount brown ones when he sees them. This has lead to us coming home with 4 bunches of overripe bananas on the same day before. But I see that as a plus. ^_~

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