The funny thing was, now that I was finally doing this for real — this bakery run has been on my “bucket list” for at least a couple of years — I wasn't even sure I really wanted this long-awaited sugar bomb.
I'd been cutting way back on sugar, going days at a stretch without. My cravings had mostly subsided. At a recent Christmas party, I found myself admiring a cousin's gorgeous gingerbread cookies without feeling an overwhelming desire to eat one — an unprecedented event.
The holidays felt less stressful without the constant bombardment of sugar signals. I could think more clearly. Was it possible I could make this stop at Heyerly's and just admire the cookies as if they were miniature works of art?
As the miles go by on a beautiful morning — cold but sunny, with little wind — I'm increasingly curious how the bakery stop will play out. There's no guilt if I eat the cookie; I've earned it. But I've got other options. I tucked my usual long-run snack in my waist pack, just in case.
The town looks different approaching on foot, on a little-used country road that morphs into a side street. I admire Christmas decorations on houses I've never noticed before.
Finally, I arrive at the bakery. I feel a little tingle as I open the door. The usual rush of anticipation, but it's different this time. This isn't just a sugar fix; it's an experience.
There are three kinds of frosted sugar cookies in the bakery case: a Santa, a Christmas tree and an ornament. They're cute, though less awe-inspiring than my cousin's gingerbread leaves. None seem as appealing as the peanut butter sandwich in my waist pack.
Maybe I could buy one and carry it back in my waist pack for our fourth-grader. Colleen would appreciate the story behind her treat's journey enough to overlook any structural damage it may suffer on the trip home.
All that frosting would make a sticky mess, though. Then I spy the gingerbread men. As big as my hand. Minimal icing. These look more appealing. I could definitely imagine eating one. But the idea of carrying one back to present to Colleen — she'd requested a snack when I pick her up from school — is too hilarious to resist.
I pack up the gingerbread man in its little bag and tuck it safely in my waist pack. Then I drink my apple juice, eat my sandwich and start the nearly 7-mile run home. It's slower going back than heading out, but my legs feel decent. And it's fun to imagine Colleen's reaction to my passenger.
When I take the gingerbread man out more than an hour later, as I'm walking up our driveway, I'm surprised to see he's suffered only a single injury: A cleanly broken leg. Amazing.
Colleen gets a huge grin when I deliver her treat later that afternoon, along with the story of how the gingerbread man broke his leg.
She, too, is impressed by how well he did on his journey. But that doesn't stop her from biting his head off.
Tanya Isch Caylor, a News-Sentinel copy editor, blogs on diet and fitness at www.90in9.wordpress.com. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.