Tag Archives: Pop Tarts

Snack Review – Pop Tarts Frosted Pumpkin Pie & Happy Thanksgiving!

pumpkin pie pop tarts

“LIMITED EDITION”

I finished the Philadelphia Marathon, but haven’t had time to write my recap of the race yet as I’ve been too busy eating cheesesteaks and packing for a trip home for Thanksgiving.  Instead, I’ve taken some time to give you a brief glimpse into the life of Pop Tarts Frosted Pumpkin Pie flavor toaster pastries.

 

First, I gotta say that I love Pop Tarts.  They are my current go-to breakfast pre-marathon, as I can usually eat (and enjoy) two entire pastries (400 calories!) even at 4:00 in the morning, which helps me not become a ravenous beast a mile into the race (instead delaying the beast until about mile 6).  I never toast my Pop Tarts, as I feel that turns them into a sad attempt at a hot breakfast, which they most decidedly are not.  (Also, the toasting ruins the pastry, IMO.)

The sorta pumpkin-y, sorta goodness.

The sorta pumpkin-y, sorta goodness.

 

Pop Tarts Frosted Pumpkin Pie Limited Edition toaster pastries smell sweet and have a very slight pumpkin pie fragrance, but so slight that the smell of the unflavored pastry itself almost obscures the pumpkin pie smell.   Since the pastry itself smells more like “nothing” than most edible things, that means the fragrance is slight indeed.

I wish there were more pumpkin in the real thing!

I wish there were more pumpkin in the real thing!

The Pumpkin Pie flavor is not bad.  I love strong, spicy pumpkin pie, and I usually double the spice called for in a recipe when baking pies at home.  The Pop Tart version is disappointingly bland, because “a pumpkin doesn’t taste like anything,” and Kellogg’s decided to use a light hand on the spice.  But there is some pumpkin-y flavor to it, and it’s sweet, and not objectionable.  It’s not nearly as good as Frosted Blueberry, Frosted Strawberry, or Frosted Grape, but it’s a fine novelty limited edition treat around Thanksgiving, I suppose.  I had to order these from Amazon (“had” here meaning something that doesn’t actually mean “had”), and I actually finished both pastries (400 calories!) while writing this post and I didn’t even notice.

 

Finally, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are just a few of the things I’m thankful for – I’m thankful I’m still running.  I’m thankful I can take my time to write my Philly recap and not fail a class or something.  I’m thankful for this video, which seriously if you didn’t watch it while clicking around above, I urge you to watch it now.  I’m thankful for Pop Tarts, and the minds at Kellogg’s that will continue to put new and ill-advised flavors into those Pop Tarts.  And I’m thankful you’re reading this.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

 

What are you thankful for this year?  Are you doing a Turkey Trot today?  What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?  Share in the comments!

Downtown Huntington, WV

Marathon Recap – Marshall University Marathon

Marshall Marathon Finish line

The Marshall University Marathon finish line inside the football stadium, many hours before I actually crossed it.

Whelp, I knocked off state #11 last weekend in Huntington, West Virginia, with the Marshall University Marathon (I always called it the “Marshall Marathon” but saw so many spray-painted “MUM” signs on the course that now I can’t stop calling it the “Marshall University Marathon” so I can cringe giggle at the memory of those “MUMs.”)

 

Downtown Huntington, WV

Downtown Huntington, WV, at rush hour.

I flew into Huntington’s Tri-State Airport (HTS) on Saturday morning around 11 am, got my rental car, and headed to my hotel, the relatively new Hampton Inn.  My room wasn’t ready yet so I continued on into town to get some lunch, since the expo wasn’t open yet, either.  I went to Backyard Pizza, which supposedly has the best pizza in town, and ordered a large margarita pizza, with the thought that I’d have leftovers for Sunday after the race (since the Hampton Inn doesn’t have room service).  It was pretty good pizza, but had a rich, oily crust that most NY pizzas don’t have, so I was just barely able to stop myself from finishing the entire thing to save a couple slices for the next day.

 

I browsed a couple of stores to kill time, but overall the town was eerily deserted and I didn’t feel entirely comfortable walking around.  There was a big football game going on at that time, so I figured most people were there, but after the marathon I wonder if it’s just always semi-deserted.  Regardless, I drove to the expo to get my race packet and do some (totally-unnecessary-but-marathon-justified) shopping.

 

Long lines at the Marshall Marathon Expo

Long lines and not much else at the Marshall Marathon Expo

When I got to the expo it was already semi-chaotic.  There were huge lines and no signs or information on where runners should go, so there was overall confusion and sporadic line-hopping (the longer line was for the half marathon, the shorter line for the marathon, but I got a lot of dirty looks for switching to the end of the shorter line because people didn’t understand the difference).  There was also basically nothing to see or buy (one local store set up a small area with some t-shirts and gels, but that was it), so I left immediately after getting my race packet.  Shopping momentarily averted!

 

Shiny silver outfit for Marshall

Laying out my shiny silver outfit

To my delight, there was a CVS right next to the expo center so I shopped there for water and Pop Tarts (and nailpolish… did you know they make scented nailpolish now?  I can’t imagine that’s a good idea.).  I felt like there was nothing left to do but head back to the hotel, even if I still had to wait for my room.  Luckily, my room was ready early and I got settled in to a nice, clean room, where I spread out my supplies for the race and flipped through TV channels while carbo-loading (aka eating Kit Kats and Pop Tarts).

 

I wasn’t hungry for dinner but thought skipping it would set me up for problems the next day, so I walked across the parking lot to the Bob Evans for some chicken, potatoes, and dinner rolls bigger than my fist.  I noticed the Bob Evans’ brand butter packets were a mixture of butter and hydrogenated vegetable oil, so I saved them as future collectors’ items before heading back to my hotel for an early bedtime.

 

Marshall's football stadium open before the marathon

Marshall’s football stadium open before the marathon, huzzah!

I woke up screamingly early the next day so I could immediately pound some water to avoid my recent, consistent bathroom breaks during races (it worked!), and to give myself plenty of time to drive to the stadium and find parking.  I needn’t have worried, as it was a very simple drive back into town to the stadium, and parking was ample and obvious (at least it was until about 30 minutes before the race – after that it might have filled up).  The best part of the Marshall Marathon was the use of the facilities before the race.  They opened up the stadium so you could see the finish line on the field, and so you could wait in the covered hallways and use any of the bathrooms (there were at least three large bathrooms, so there were almost no lines and no need to use any of the porta potties – plus hot water at the sinks!).

 

The moderate weather at the start of the Marshall Marathon

The moderate weather at the start of the Marshall Marathon

The luxurious indoor bathroom facilities were quickly followed by the most insane start of a race I’ve ever seen.  They had spray painted a tiny little marker spot for the starting line, but there was no arch, no raised sign, nary a balloon – and NO TIMING MAT.  That’s right, when the gun went off your time started, no matter when you actually started running.  It wasn’t a overly large crowd, and it probably took no more than a couple of minutes to get to the start, but it was still very strange to have no chip time for the course (they even had free runner text alerts when you crossed certain timing mats, like at miles 10 and 20, but no starting mat?  Doesn’t make sense…).

 

So we were off!  It wasn’t a crowded course but there were always plenty of people around, right up until the halfway point when all the half marathoners peeled off to finish in the stadium and the full marathoners ran through the center of campus (tiny) and around the stadium to start our second loop.  Now, I knew it was a looped course, but what I didn’t fully appreciate was that there were long sections that we would be running a total of four times.  Four times is a lot for any race, but because those sections were neither scenic nor crowd-supported, it was just a slog all-around.

 

The other thing I was not expecting was how empty the course would get once it was only the full marathoners left.  There were points where I had to ask the volunteers where to run because I couldn’t see anyone else.  That coupled with the almost total lack of spectators made for an eerie ghost-town effect for most of the race.

 

I stuck to a steady 11-minute mile pace for the first 15 miles, when quite suddenly I felt tired and a little bored of running, and immediately slowed down to 12++.  While I did walk for several long stretches, I tried to limit my walking because I simply wanted to finish and be done with it.  It wasn’t miserable, it just wasn’t all that interesting after the fourth pass.  And while the weather was beautiful, low 50s and sunny, there was a fair amount of wind and I was very glad I wore my windblocking headband around my ears.

 

WTF finished with Marshall Marathon

Finished the Marshal Marathon! Still wearing most of my shiny silver (gloves not pictured).

Finishing in the stadium was a treat.  You run down the field, pick up a football, and run back down through the finishing shoot (at least they had a finish line, if not a start).  They had chocolate milk, water, hamburgers, and hot dogs as finishing food, and there was still plenty left even for a back-of-the-packer like me.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous that day, and a lot of people were hanging around the field, taking pictures and even posing with the mascot.  I had parked foolishly far from the entrance so I didn’t feel like walking all the way back to my car and back into the stadium again for photos, so I just drove myself back to the hotel (no worries there!  legs felt fine for the drive back, even with a lot of traffic caused by the marathon route), climbed into an ice bath (telling myself that it could not be as bad as what I had just done), ate my cold pizza and more Pop Tarts, iced my knees, and read Game of Thrones until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore.  Ultimately, a great Sunday!

 

When I woke up on Monday I found my car covered in ice and I thanked my lucky stars we didn’t have such cold temps for the start of the race the day before.  I also realized there wasn’t much to do in the couple hours before my flight, so I went shopping at Target and Marshall’s (not because of the namesake as much as we don’t have those big box stores in NYC, and I loooove them, plus it allowed me to stretch my legs and finish my frustrated expo shopping) before catching my flight home.

 

Today, Thursday, I feel pretty good and all my soreness is gone (it was basically gone by Tuesday afternoon).  My knees feel ok but I haven’t run on them yet, and I’m still planning on taking some time off from running (anything over a few miles) to heal my body and rest my mind.  I’m vigorously planning 2014, however, and am mailing in my 50 States Club application this week, so the quest continues…

Thinking of running the Marshall University Marathon?

 

The re-usable bag, shirt, and jacket you get for the Marshall Marathon

The re-usable bag, short-sleeved shirt, and nice Asics jacket you get for the Marshall Marathon

I signed up for this marathon because I had heard of the movie (We Are Marshall), because it finished in the football stadium, because of the nice finisher jacket, because it was flat, and because I needed West Virginia.  It turned out to be was one of the less interesting races I’ve done yet, since it wasn’t very scenic (save for a few blocks along the Ohio River and the mile or two in Ritter Park), didn’t have any crowds (spectator or runner), didn’t have a fun expo, didn’t have a fun downtown, and didn’t have much to do in the immediate area.  There supposedly was a pasta dinner at the expo, but it was such chaos that I didn’t want to stick around to see.  All that’s not to say I hated the race, it just was a very flat race in an empty, small town.  There also were a ton of Marathon Maniacs and 50-Staters at the race, which was great, but also probably contributed to the low-key nature of the race (when everyone running is from out-of-town, maybe the town just doesn’t care?).

 

All categories on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best.

 

  • Getting There (Transportation & Walkability) – 5/10 – Getting there wasn’t too terrible – connecting flight through Charlotte, NC, into Huntington Airport ($330 roundtrip from NYC on US Air) – but once you were there you definitely needed a car.  Luckily, the rental car was only $20/day, so my total with taxes, fees, and $6 of gas was $66 for two days of car rental. There are no marathon shuttles or public transportation options, so you have to get to and from the start/finish on your own, although there was plenty of free parking there.  One runner said some stragglers and ultra-runners had the course taken down around them, making for dangerous conditions near the end of the race, and I ran into a lot of traffic leaving the race, so take that into consideration, too.
  • Staying There – 6/10 – The closest hotel was not all that close to the starting line (over a half mile away?), plus it got slammed online for having super-thin walls and generally being old and run-down, so I decided to stay at the Hampton Inn about 10 minutes away from campus.  The Hampton Inn opened in July 2013, so it was still pretty nice and new, and they always had coffee and tea in the lobby area, plus a free breakfast from 6 am to 10 am every day (and mini fridges and microwaves in every room).  The walls were pretty thin there, too, but they feature clean beds (they always wash the bright white duvet covers) and overall it was a pretty good hotel for $144 per night, all taxes included (hotel prices jacked up during the marathon).
  • Cost & Registration – 9/10 – Definitely easy online registration, and if you register early enough, for the $82 registration fee (including service fees) you get a nice Asics jacket (and a short sleeved technical t-shirt for $10 more).  The jacket is quality, but runs big, and even though I wear a women’s large, the unisex medium jacket swims on me.  The medal is also pretty nice – they call it “3D” because the bull is slightly raised from the surface on both the front and the back.  The short-sleeved technical shirt is only so-so, since it’s an impractical black plus has a ton of sponsor logos on the back (I think there are more sponsor logos than were spectators on the course).
  • Organization – 6/10 – The expo was ridiculous – held only from noon to 6 the Saturday before the race – it was somehow a madhouse despite being a relatively small race.  However, there did seem to be a packet pick up at the start of the race, which is a very nice option.  There wasn’t much to the expo except the packet pick up (with no pins for your bib!), and one small store selling some shirts and gels.  There was supposedly a pasta dinner at the expo, but I hightailed it out of there before all the annoyed people in line started a riot.  Also, the on-course volunteers were great, but every water station was different in terms of how they passed out water vs Gatorade (without marked cups – sometimes the it was first vs second, sometimes on the left vs right, sometimes on both sides, sometimes held by a volunteer in each hand, etc.), and you had to ask and veer around to get what you wanted.
  • Course – 4/10 – It is a flat course (with just a handful of very short, steep sections, but they are few and far between), and looped, but long sections double back on themselves four times.  They tried to make it as scenic as possible, but there just isn’t that much that is scenic in Huntington, and once the halfers left the course, it was like a ghost town.
  • Crowd – 2/10 – Besides the volunteers, there were almost no spectators for this event, which is really surprising considering it’s named after the University at which it takes place. If someone told me the school was shut down and no students actually went there anymore, I would have believed it.  It was deserted.
  • Other Factors – 5/10 – It’s supposedly the biggest race in West Virginia, and it was fun to finish in the stadium, but otherwise there’s not much else going for it.
  • Overall Rating – 5/10 – I’m glad to have finished another state.  I’m glad we had perfect weather.  The stadium was nice.  But if I had to run another loop of that course, I would scream.

 

Did you run the Marshall University Marathon?  Are you enjoying your jacket?  Share in the comments!

Where's the Finish Panda

MDI Marathon final instructions

As I sit here in my warm, dry, cozy apartment, procrastinating my last long run (12 miles) before the Mount Desert Island Marathon on October 20th, I’m checking the weather forecast for Bar Harbor next Sunday (rain!) and reading the final instructions the organizers sent to all participants this morning.  Everything looked good until I got to this section –

 

Our best advice is to treat this race as a mini-ultra marathon. The terrain is challenging and personal bests for the distance are extremely difficult to achieve on this course. Unless you know the route well and have trained extensively on hills we suggest starting more conservatively than usual. Be certain you can cover the distance over this terrain. Enjoy the journey, the view, and the satisfaction of having covered these beautiful, yet tough miles. Your finishing time may be less memorable and ultimately will be less important than the effort you give and the well earned satisfaction of simply finishing this race.   (emphasis added)

 

As if I weren’t already worried about those hills!  But I am actually very excited for the trip to Maine and the race, even if it will be 26.2 cold, rainy miles of hills, because that simply justifies additional Pop Tarts and bowls of pasta.  Just don’t laugh too hard when it takes me 6 hours to finish this course (and please do leave me some Pop Tarts at the finish).

 

How do you calm pre-race jitters?  How many post-race Pop Tarts do you eat?  Share in the comments!

Gone Nutty! Pop Tarts

Snack Review – Gone Nutty! Pop Tarts

Gone Nutty! Pop Tarts

I’ve Gone Nutty! by buying these.

What do Pop Tarts have to do with running?  They’re just about my favorite processed food in the world, and I often treat myself to a two-pack of frosted blueberry Pop Tarts when I run a marathon (and maybe sometimes when I don’t…).

 

I also love all things chocolate and peanut butter, so you can imagine my excitement when I learned Pop Tarts released a new flavor – “Gone Nutty!” frosted Chocolate Peanut Butter “Made with Real Peanut Butter” flavored Pop Tarts.  I finally found them in stores, so I quickly snuck the box into my shopping basket and pretended I was an irresponsible mother instead of a single woman with a Pop Tart addiction.

 

I always eat my Pop Tarts cold, straight from the package.  I find toasting them makes them unpleasantly crunchy.  I also strongly dislike the s’mores flavor of Pop Tarts, finding the fake graham-cracker-flavored crust abhorrent and the marshmallow filling plain gross.  In general I stick to the frosted blueberry and frosted strawberry flavors, so it was with both excitement and as much trepidation as a Pop Tart can create that I cracked into the Gone Nutty! box.

 

Upon opening the box, I was momentarily wonderstruck by the fancy gold packaging instead of the standard silver.  But upon opening the gold foil package, I was disappointed at the splotchy smear of chocolate frosting – from fancy to messy in an instant.  The Tarts smelled strongly of that lovely artificial chocolate smell, but the peanut butter filling looked legit, although incredibly thin.

 

I’ve now finished almost an entire Tart, and the most I can say about the flavor is that it can best be described as “mild.”  It doesn’t taste strongly of chocolate, or of peanut butter, or of anything, really, other than “sweet.”  It’s not bad, but it’s not soul-affirming good (as I still find those frosted blueberry ones).  It’s definitely not inedible like the s’mores flavor, and I keep eating it because it’s sweet and it’s 2:30 PM, but I will certainly not be tempted to immediately finish the box, nor will I buy another.

 

If you love chocolate and peanut butter, go out and buy some real chocolate and actual peanut butter, or a Reece’s cup, or Trader Joe’s dark chocolate and peanut butter cups (amazing, especially frozen), but skip the Gone Nutty! Pop Tarts.  If you don’t really like chocolate or peanut butter, but love mild, soft, sweet but flavorless pastries, Pop Tarts has a great new option for you.

 

One Tart has 200 calories, 5 grams fat, 19 grams sugar, and 2 grams protein.  It’s also half of what you’ll probably eat, so just go ahead and double all those amounts.