Tag Archives: questionable ideas

The Death Nut Challenge

There are times in your life when you just have to make a bad decision. At least, what some would call a bad decision. Some (most) of those involve pepper sauce. If it’s spicy, I want it. I once ate so much straight habanero sauce that I basically pepper-sprayed myself. And that my friends, is where the Death Nut Challenge comes in.

Once again, we can thank Richard for this. He sent me a message with a picture of this box, asking if I was in. Seeing as how I always wanted to try the One Chip Challenge, I was most definitely in. What is the One Chip Challenge? I’m gonna turn this one over to Dan Ryckert.

I’m proud to say that I’m a little more Daniel Bryan than Dan Ryckert in my tolerance of spicy things, as was evidenced by the results of the challenge. Charlotte had told us from the beginning that this was a bad idea, and Richard’s sister (who wanted to be there for the debacle) questioned the decision to do it before we were trapped in a tiny plane. We cared not for such dire predictions as we cracked open the box, got out cups of Blue Bell ice cream, and prepared for battle with the hottest nuts ever.

According to the rules, you had to wait 90 seconds after each nut, with no drinks or food of any kind to dampen the spice. I knew it was going to hurt, but I am a total bro when it comes to extreme spice. My favorite wings to eat – with Richard, surprise surprise – were the Wings n’ More Super Caliente wings in College Station. And so we began.

Peanut #1 was ghost pepper with Carolina Reaper powder. Not as spicy as I expected, honestly. In fact, I could see myself snacking on these in front of the TV or while writing.

Peanut #2 was a bit spicier with Scorpion Butch-T peppers and Reaper powder. Still manageable, though I did notice a bit more of a tingle in my mouth. It was my first experience with the Scorpion, and they’re a bit sweet, it seems.

Peanut #3 was Carolina Reaper peppers, Chocolate Bhutia, and more Reaper powder. Also my first time with the Bhutia and I definitely tasted the chocolate. I was also feeling some serious burning on my tongue. Weirdly, the burning was on the sides of my tongue and not the center. It was at this time that Richard’s son started to heckle his dad. He kept up a steady stream of trash talk through the rest of the challenge, which was hilarious because it took my mind off the next nut.

Peanut #4 was when things started to get real. Carolina Reaper Peppers, 7-Pot Douglah, 7-Pot Brain Strain, and the ever-present Carolina Reaper powder. It was at this point that my eyes started to water and Kleenex was delivered. Richard had begun to sweat. It was extremely difficult at this point to resist the siren song of the ice cream before me but I held strong, knowing the end was near.

Peanut #5, AKA The Death Nut, was Pepper-X peppers, Carolina Reaper peppers, Moruga Scorpion peppers, all rolled in what looked like a quarter inch of Reaper powder. I threw it in my mouth and started to chew. Friends, that was the spiciest thing I have ever eaten apart from some homemade pepper sauce from an Ethiopian restaurant. My eyes were watering more, my nose was running, and my face was bright red. Swallowing the thing was difficult and my stomach gave me a grumble of disapproval as I waited the full 90 seconds before digging into my ice cream like it contained the secret to alchemy.

It was almost 30 minutes before my mouth stopped burning. I took an antihistamine in the hopes it would counteract my runny nose, and Richard’s sister freaked out every time my hands got close to my eyes. Before we got to the Mediterranean restaurant, though, I was already thinking of the nuts with fondness and Richard’s son proclaimed me the winner of the Death Nut Challenge.

Interestingly enough, I didn’t have any digestive side effects from this little adventure. I expected to be in a fair amount of pain the next day, but my stomach reacted worse to the habanero pepper-spray incident. I think I’ll do it again with Version 2.0 just so I can Snapchat it. Because that’s exactly the kind of crazy you can expect when it comes to me.

If you want to try your own Death Nut Challenge, you can buy version 1.0 here  or version 2.0 here for the princely sum of $15 and a nominal number of tastebuds.


Training Journal – Hazards of Being a Cheapskate

Let’s be real here. No one actually enjoys energy gels. If I want a shot of energy that I’ll like eating, I grab Honey Stingers or Clif Blocks chews. They have the consistency of soft Dots and taste pretty good. Before a race or hard training session, I’ll eat a pack to get me going. Energy gels though…

History lesson: energy gels were created by people who hate joy for people who like punishing their bodies, because running ridiculous distances and biking a hundred miles will drain you of energy faster than cheap batteries in a game controller. They started showing up in the mid-eighties in clear packets that allowed everyone to see the terrible mistake you were making in real time. Since then, there are more packages and flavors than I can count but they all have one thing in common. The consistency is one level above glue, which means that your mouth desperately wants to chew it but when you try it feels so very wrong.

Runner’s World ranked 27 flavors of Gu, ostensibly the most popular gel brand, and I wasn’t surprised to find the unflavored one at the very bottom. Every runner friend I have always says the same thing when the unflavored Gu comes up in conversation: “who hates themselves that much?” Everyone has a flavor that they like (or tolerate the most), and mine is Jet Blackberry. I buy it by the box at my favorite running store and try and keep at least one in my running belt for emergencies. It’s pretty cheap but for a family on a tight budget, sometimes sacrifices have to be made. My other favorite is mocha Clif Shots, but there’s only one place that sells them around here and they’re expensive, and also the store employees are kind of snobby.

The last couple of long-distance races I ran had Gu at every water stop, and even though I had stuffed my belt with enough to last 15.5 miles I took one at every station because eating free gel is highly preferred to dipping into your own stash. Another race was the same way, and I took one every time again and squirreled them away for later consumption.

Then tragedy struck.

While running a half marathon, I went to a water stop and saw a box of gels. I grabbed one with my water only to discover that it was Gatorade Endurance. “No problem,” I thought. “I’m sure it’ll be fine.” It was not. The flavor was okay but the consistency was what I imagine sadness must taste like. It was more of a soup than a gel and I swallowed it as fast as possible, vowing to never make that mistake again. Unfortunately my cheapskate nature overtook my reason at the next water stop and the thought of saving money won over my distaste for the gel/soup. I not only ended up eating four of the things, I brought one home with me and promptly buried it in my bag.

The other day I went for a run and neglected to pack any Gu. There was one packet of something in the very bottom of my bag and…it was the vanilla Gatorade one. Desperate, I put it in my pack and went for a run. When it was time to refuel I tore it open and poured it into my mouth and friends, it was even worse hot. Somehow my stomach did not refuse it, but I immediately went to FWRunCo and bought a box of Jet Blackberry.

Moral of this story: always stock up on Gu.

Training Journal: Houston Half Marathon

img_4720Two, nearly three, years ago I decided to start running again. When I was running in 2014, I never ran more than 3.5 miles. I had no desire to do anything longer. Then Charlotte and Richard, two of my best friends and the ones who can talk me into just about anything, invited me to come down to Houston to do the Houston Half 10K. There were months and months until the 10K so I was certain I could do it. I blew through the training plan in a month or two, and I started to wonder – could I run a half marathon?

The Houston Half will always have a place in my heart because 8 months after I started running, I finished my first half marathon along with Charlotte and Richard. Since then I’ve done upwards of 10 half marathons, and three of them have been the Houston Half in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Last Sunday to be exact.

Charlotte was still recovering from the Loony Challenge so she opted not to run this year, but Richard and I love traditions. We chatted on the plane about running (see yesterday’s terrifying post), and how neither of us were going to do well. He was recovering from the Loony Ultra Challenge and not only was I sick, but I’ve had this awful lingering hip pain since I overdid it on the release day for The Search for Sam so neither of us had run in at least 2 weeks. We went in with the goal of finishing.

Friends, it was bad. I made it about 7 miles before the pain was too much. I walked a large portion of the race, ran as much as I could, then was miserable in the sun for the last few miles. It was a new personal worst for both of us but we finished, ate our tacos Deadpool-style, and went for Mediterranean.

I’m terrified of what’s going to happen to me in January. I have 12 weeks to heal and train, and I’m doing stretches and anti-inflammatories. We’ll see how it goes.

Becca Don’t Fly – Tiny Plane Edition

img_4722Last week I was very sick. I started feeling bad Monday afternoon and swore up and down that I wasn’t sick. Tuesday I went to work and attempted to stay in spite of feeling like death. The doc I was working with called the practice manager and got the green light to send me home. Checkmate, I guess.

I spent three days at home, alternately having a sore throat and having a fever. I went and got antibiotics, which upset my stomach, but I was determined to make it to the Houston Half.

While I was in bed trying to will my sickness to leave my body, I got a text from my friend Richard who is literally the one person in my life with the power to make me do questionable things. He asked if I wanted him to come up in his plane and pick me up for the race. I weighed the options of being terrified of flying versus not wanting to drive 4 hours when I felt awful, and agreed to being picked up.

img_4709That is how I ended up sitting at a very small airport on Saturday afternoon with my gear bag, my hands shaking and my eyes darting from side to side. When my buddy pulled up in his plane, I was a bit alarmed. It was smaller than I expected and very delicate-looking. I was further alarmed when I saw it had a propeller. Richard threw the gear and my computer in the back seat while I put my seatbelt on very tightly and made sure the door was locked. He fitted me with a headset and checked all the little switches and knobs, then we taxied out while he told me his plan for plane failure. I thought I couldn’t get more alarmed, but then we took off.

I have never been a fan of takeoff or landing in any plane, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were both going to die in a mildly fiery crash, so the Andrew Bird song “Fiery Crash” kept playing in my head. We got into the air safely, though, and once it had been confirmed that I wasn’t going to pass out I was on my way to Houston.

Ascending to 5500 feet was a little scary, but once we were at cruising altitude I could relax a little. I still became alarmed when he got a drink of water but I’m just a nervous person. It was really interesting being in the cockpit for a change. Listening to the COM chatter was also interesting, though I had a terrifying moment when a skydiving pilot had his finger on the button and was yelling “everybody out!” That is not something I want to hear when my pilot is fiddling with knobs. Not even a little.

Watching the sun go down was actually really awesome. I was a little afraid that if I looked too far to the right I’d tip the plane over but it didn’t stop me from taking pictures of the sunset. I’ve never been in a plane where I was able to see so much of the ground as we moved over it. Usually we’re above the clouds so I read or type the entire time. We’re also usually in a bigger plane so the little shifts from the wind aren’t scaring the hell out of me, but it’s a trade off.

img_4714When we got within visual range of Houston, it was a pretty cool sight. This may be one of my favorite pictures from the flight. Landing was actually less scary than in a commercial jet (apart from when we had to turn to access the runway), because I kept thinking “we could totally survive a crash from this height.” Richard apologized for the bumpy landing but I thought it wasn’t bad. I didn’t feel the need to get hammered, so it was all good. It definitely was better than my last terrifying flight because this time everything was being explained to me and I got to listen to updates from the tower, and honestly I have more confidence in Richard’s abilities as a pilot because he is literally the smartest person I know.

The flight home was a little better, with the exception of takeoff because when all is said and done I’m still a huge weenie. There was a little more wind so I had a few frantic moments, but for the most part I enjoyed it.

img_4724I have a feeling that if I flew more in the tiny plane I would be a lot better about it, but for now let’s just be glad that I didn’t have a panic attack, and that my boss didn’t tell me about his terrifying experience in a small plane before I left. Someone at work said I had a lot of balls riding in the tiny plane. I have to answer that with a big ol’ NOPE. Also good to know for next time? I can totally bring booze on the tiny plane!