Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Race Recap: 2014 Grand Rapids Half Marathon

Six word recap: A new PR, by a hair.
I got the opportunity to run the Grand Rapids Half Marathon this weekend, and thought, what the hell. My new philosophy to running and racing is if it's free, it's for me.

I rolled into Grand Rapids Saturday after, er, carbloading? BTW, Bell's is awesome, if you're curious. This lovely assortment cost me all of $15, so it was money well-spent. Sweet potato stout? Yes, please.

But this isn't a what I drank recap, so moving on. The expo was small, but respectable, and I picked up a caramel macchiato Gu and did some light shopping but didn't buy anything. Except this. Not sorry.

Anyhow, the race morning was a little stressful. The whole run club carpooled there and I was having a hell of a time manuvering the truck through a parking deck. But, parking was free. Bathrooms at the start were not plentiful so I kind of decided, meh, what will be will be.

I was freezing at the start - it was 34 degrees and I didn't bring throw aways. I found some mittens in my truck, and I wore a zip up I planned to sleep in. I lined up with the George W. Bush pace group - the paces were based on the finish times of various celebrities, and GW ran a 3:44 marathon once. Once the gun went off, I settled in fairly easily. I kept telling myself I ran a half almost every weekend this year, time to buck up and put your head down.

Except chafing is strange. I never used to chafe. But evidently I need new sports bras because for the second week in a row, my rib cage is chafed raw. Attractive, right?

Anyhow, I just cruised along until the marathon/half split right before nine, and that's when things got dicey for me. I dropped my caramel macchiato Gu and had to take what was on the course, which was mocha. It used to be my favorite until it caused my stomach to turn inside out two years ago, but I had no choice. I sipped and hoped for the best.

A word about this course: It's hilly. It's lonely. It's empty. In short, after the Chicago Marathon last weekend, this was a little disappointing.

Forgot to stop my watch
I won't lie, the last two miles were surprisingly tough. I just kept trying to catch this woman in a neon green shirt in front of me. When I crossed the finish line I was quite confused. The clock said 1:51, but I knew I started a ways back so it might have been a PR. Then I found out the computer broke and I technically had a DNF for a while. Womp womp.

After finally getting my time of 1:50:04, I was really psyched and celebrated with some of the best post-race snackies I've ever seen. They had Muscle Milk, water, gatorade, chips, bananas, honeycrisp apples, oranges, bagels, string cheese, yogurt and ice cream. Culver's ice cream!

But that's not all. The beer tent at this place was something to behold. It was sponsored by New Holland Brewery, which I frequented when I did a consulting project there in grad school. It was a deliciously carbed up buffer of beverages that I enjoyed immensely.

Time: 1:50:04 for a half marathon
Pros: Amazing post-race accommodations, funny pace teams, Grand Rapids is a fun town if you don't have to run
Cons: Course is boring, support is sparse, it's surprisingly hilly, expensive
Would I do this race again? I don't think so. Too many other runs to try.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday Sound Off

It's been another devastatingly busy week. Like I have done nothing meal prep wise, my laundry is half started and Napoleon went to to groomer for the first time in an embarrassingly long time. So here are a few musings from this week in the trenches.

1.I got this awesome prize pack from the Klout perk program celebrating free trade products. So far, Dang foods is the clear winner. So so tasty. I would like more coconut chips please.
 2. I am a sucker for cute-looking lattes. Make me a picture in my coffee and I am 100 percent in all the time, no questions asked.

3. I am leaving for a conference for work on Wednesday. I have zero items packed because nothing fits. Womp womp.
4. My dog is so lazy he does not even emerge from bed to drink. I want his life.
5. I stopped at Bell's today and it was amazing. Drink the sweet potato stout and send you regards my way anytime.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Win it Wednesday: Amazing Cheese Jackpot from Cabot

(yes I know it's Thursday ....)

Cabot and I happen to be BCF (best cheesy friends). I'm presently gearing up to tackle my 13.1-mile portion of the Cabot Legacy Virtual Race to benefit food banks across America. In the meantime, my BCF provided me with a very tasty prize to raffle off on this little corner of the Internet. Behold, cheese nirvana!
The prize pack includes some of my favorite Cabot products: Seriously Sharp Cheddar and White Oak Cheddar. I tasted these when I was in Vermont with #CabotFit for the Vermont City Marathon, and if you haven't had these, you're missing out. I like the Seriously Sharp on chili and the white oak on my sammiches.

The Legacy collection and the Cabot Legacy Virtual Race both celebrate 95 years *running*. Registration for the race is just $25 and includes a super awesome medal that I can't wait to hang up on my wall.

But, running is not required to win. One lucky reader will receive all this cheesy goodness. I'll leave the contest open for one week, so enter early and often. May the odds be ever in your favor!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Training Tuesday: So, what's next?

After an Ironman closely followed by a secret marathon, I get a lot of funny looks, side eyes and concerned comments.

"Won't that destroy your knees?"

"Aren't you tired?"

"Is this how you're coping with your .... 'situation'?"

"Oh honey, there's more to life than running."

"Well, good for you [eye roll]."

"You're a machine!"

(All real, recent conversations)

The truth is, I really enjoy running. A lot. I've written before about all the things I get out of running, which has never been more true than at this juncture in my life.

But now that I'm all healed up from Ironman Wisconsin, what does one do after that? There are many options: improve my 5K time enough to place in a circuit, focus on improving my swim stroke with master's swim classes, qualify for the Boston Marathon, complete a few more century rides, tackle my long-standing official half marathon PR, run back-to-back marathons, travel somewhere exotic for a race, do another Ironman ....

Sigh. Choices are hard. But being an adult is even harder, because there's this little factor of money to consider. Races aren't cheap, triathlons even less so, and Ironmans? Well, there's a reason why people joke it's the sport of the 1 percent.

So here, my dear readers, is what's next after an Ironman:

I want to PR my next marathon. Specifically, I want to run a 3:40 next spring at Circular Logic.

Big, bold goal. But I'm officially a badass so it's time to keep not settling. Plus, I need redemption against a run that broke my spirit and busted up my stomach.
So here's to the next pursuit. To the early mornings, to the meal prep, to the laundry, to the speedwork, to the pain, to the triumph.

Here's to being proud but never satisfied. Join me for the next chapter.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Motivation Monday: Sometimes You Just Do Things

If you've ever read ultrarunner extraordinaire Scott Jurek's "Eat and Run," one of the concepts he ruminates on extensively is "sometimes you just do things." This resonates with me today mostly because I donned a bib signed by him this weekend and did some things.

I'm not blogging about the marathon. This was for me. Not for the blog and certainly not for time. This was for the experience, for the personal triumph and for the champagne, naturally.
Because sometimes, you just do things.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Lessons from #GBSxChi, a Pop Up by Go Blog Social

Today was a pretty amazing day - I spent the whole day hanging out with inspiring bloggers throughout the midwest at Go Blog Social's pop up session in Chicago. #GBSxChi was hosted at Workshop, a beautiful coworking space that made me want to pinterest the whole thing and recreate it at home. Far more to come on the swag, decor and bites another day, but I wanted to get down the educational highlights from today while it was still fresh in my mind. There was truly so much to learn from the presenters on everything from how to balance blogging and life to working with brands and affiliate marketing. Here were the big take aways from each presenter:

Martiza/Beauty4Bloggers: Putting Your Best Face Forward

  • Be camera ready but not made up

Allison Ray/Sassy Moms in the City: Working with Brands

  • Be true to your voice and passion
  • Walk away from opportunities not in your wheelhouse
  • Your About Me page has to have an e-mail address and social icons above the fold
  • Know your worth. You bring value to the table.
  • Constantly, actively create your own opportunities
  • Your first question when a brand contacts you should be, Is there a budget for this campaign?
  • Introduce yourself as the founder and editor of your blog when you go to conferences

Helena Swyter/Sweeter CPA: Taxes for Bloggers

  • Track everything
  • The best book keeping is what you do now
  • Bloggers have to file self-employment taxes for more than $400 in income or $600 in product
  • Save 25 percent of your income for taxes

Brian Littleton/ShareASale.com: Working with Affiliate Marketing

  • Affiliate marketing maintains relevancy in your blog
  • Think away from the sidebar ads - it's the difference between product placements in movies and billboards
  • shareasale.com, linkshare.com, cj.com will cover the majority of affiliate marketing opportunities
  • You can supplement your income with deals
  • Free shipping makes deals attractive
  • A blog should drive newsletter subscriptions (uh-oh) - change the subject lines every time
  • Commission rates are negotiable, if you have data that makes you stand out

Farissa Knox/Whatruwearing.net: How to be #BossPeriod

  • The boss doesn't know everything, and is constantly learning and investing in the future
  • Irrelevant jobs still teach valuable lessons
  • Be the nicest version of yourself for clients and customers
  • Pay attention to details, it makes a difference!
  • Being a boss isn't about how people view you, it's about continuous improvement. There is no finish line
  • Don't ever get comfortable. Grow. Evolve. Become your next best version.
  • There's no such thing as over communicating honestly with clients
  • Separate work you from home you - cell phone goes away when you come home
  • Don't ask employees/clients/whoever to do things you wouldn't

Cait Weingartner/PrettyandFun.com: Balancing Blogging

  • Blogs are no longer journals, they are brands and businesses
  • At the end of the day, there are no secrets that remove the work aspect - you still have to get shit done
  • Have a point of view/mission statement/elevator pitch - it's what makes you different and keeps you true to yourself
  • Write your goals every year on a post it - what did I check off, what didn't I and why?
  • Define your mandatories and say no when it doesn't align
  • Focus on your awesome - the things that work best for you, you love the most and provides the greatest result
  • Create an editorial calendar to align with your vision and goals
  • Know when to hire a photographer - she shoots once a month four outfits

Danielle Moss/TheEveryGirl.com

  • Don't over share
  • Your blog likely won't be a full-time gig, so it should be a passion
  • Haters are part of the shin dig

Friday, October 10, 2014

Cooking with Kelly: Crock Pot Pumpkin Quinoa Chili Recipe

I do not like being cold. It's one of the worst sensations on planet earth in my opinion. The only redeeming factor about the fact that it's getting a little bit colder every morning when I take out the dog is that I am highly motivated to make hot, filling meals like stews, soups and most of all, chili. I make a lot of chili in the crock pot (see: Crock pot vegetarian chili and vegan quinoa and sweet potato chili) but as a self-professed

Crock Pot Pumpkin Quinoa Chili Recipe

1 small pumpkin (look for pie pumpkins)
1 onion, chopped
3 gloves diced garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can white beans
1 can tomato paste
1 small can mushrooms
1 can of sweet corn
1 cup rinsed quinoa
16 ounces stock (I used chicken)
2 chicken breasts, chopped
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
Cilantro, cheese and chopped onion for topping

Crock pot recipes are so easy. Dissecting the pumpkin was a hardest part, and made me feel like Dexter. The easiest method is to treat it like a melon - cut off the top and bottom and cut it in half, then remove (and save!) the seeds. Remove the skin with a vegetable peeler. I steamed and smashed half of it to add creaminess, but that's your call.

I do, however, recommend draining and rinsing the beans, corn and mushrooms to remove excess sodium. Then everything goes in the pot on low for eight hours. Taste it when you get home, add more spice, salt or liquid based on your preferences, then let it cook another half an hour together and serve.