With my upcoming half-marathon only two days away, this run on April 5th was supposed to be slow and leisurely (9:30-10:00/mile pace), to the point where it could almost be considered lazy. Then, someone at the office proposed Taco Bell for lunch, and suddently the game changed.
THE RUN — 1.90 miles to/from Taco Bell in 13:48 (07:15/mile pace)
I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Taco Bell. Yes, I’ve heard and read what’s been said about the “integrity” of the ingredients (for lack of a better word), and frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. Happiness is a Cheesy Gordita Crunch and someone special to share it with. Normally, I’m forced to get my Taco Bell fix from the location that’s kitty-corner from Wrigley Field, which is rather close to my apartment. It’s good, but not great– this Taco Bell’s clientele leans more toward the drunken Wrigleyville crowd, which tends not to have the most discerning of palates. I don’t for one minute take for the granted the PRIVILEGE of living within walking distance of a Taco Bell, but I recognize that the Wrigleyville location may not necessary represent the pinnacle of Taco Bell deliciousness.
The crown jewel of Taco Bells is really the location at 2575 N. Clybourn– I’m giving you their full address so that you may search for this Taco Bell on Google Maps yourself, and look at the stunningly positive customer reviews. Across the scope of 22 reviews, this Taco Bell AVERAGES 5 stars. Again, this is Taco Bell. There are Michelin star restaurants that will average 4- or 4.5-star customer reviews…this Clybourn facility really does represent the pinnacle of Mexican-ish fast food quality and service. However, since it’s not particularly accessible by public transportation, I rarely visit, instead preferring to stick to the Taco Bell in my neck of the woods.
Shortly before lunchtime on April 5th, my team at the office was having a discussion about Taco Bell, namely, their new Doritos tacos. One thing led to another, and the next thing I knew, I was volunteering to run to the Clybourn Taco Bell restaurant that was just 1 mile away from the office, so that I could bring back Taco Bell for lunch for anyone interested. One problem: it was 40 degrees outside. With no backpack or other form of insulation to protect the fragile tacos from the harsh elements outside, my team would be dependent on me to run back from the office as speedily as possible to insure that the tacos lost minimum heat in transit.
And so I booked it. I ran my mile from the office to Taco Bell at a 7:28/mile clip, and on the way back to the office, weighed down by bags of tacos in addition to the hopes and dreams of my co-workers, I clocked a 07:01/pace. Too fast? Certainly– but I’ll be damned if that Taco Bell didn’t taste amazing.
After returning home from the office, I cracked open a Spotted Cow and life immediately became better. Brewed and distributed only within Wisconsin state borders, I remember exactly where I was the first time I tried a Spotted Cow. We’d taken a guys’ trip up to kayak the Kickapoo River in northern Wisconsin (“the crookedest river in the world” is the Kickapoo’s less-than-enthusastic claim to fame), and before we even made it to camp, our friend Chris DEMANDED that we stop in a local beer store to pick up several 6-packs of the Cow. Simply put, this beer kicks ass– a cask-conditioned ale that retains a natural cloudiness until poured, it’s supremely flavorful and drinkable. You’ll get slight hints of fruit, but the malt flavors really present themselves on the front of the palate without being heavy, if that makes any sense. As a tribute to the Wisconsin farming tradition, New Glarus even throws a little corn into the brewing process…I personally can’t taste it, but it’s a neat touch.
To date, Spotted Cow remains one of my favorite beers in the world. Originally hailing from Wisconsin myself, I’m sure that there is more than just a bit of sentimentality behind this, but I still give it two hearty thumbs up.