Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cabot Virtual Race Series: I Run for Bling with #CabotFit

I have many reasons for running, a lot of them have to do with food: chocolate, peanut butter, beer, to name a few. I'm also a big fan of cheese and even PRed the Vermont City Marathon as part of Cabot Fit Team (the most amazing race of my life and experience through blogging ever). But another benefit of racing is the bling. I have no shame in saying that I love medals, so so much. I was actually bummed out when I saw the medal for Ironman Wisconsin - it looks like a ball of spaghetti.

I'm lucky dogface didn't lick this

However, I have redemption gleaming in the distance now in the shape of a glittery, shiny accolade thanks to Cabot's new virtual race. It's to celebrate 95 years "running" of the Cabot operation, and also as an extension of the company's commitment to wellness. Even more, the series benefits Feeding America and local food banks. As a Team Leader, Cabot is making a $100 donation in my name to the food bank of my choice - I picked out the Northern Illinois Food Bank because I've volunteered there before and it's a great operation. Last time I was there, I stuffed backpacks for kids who receive free lunches to take home for the weekend.

So - awesome bling, cheap registration, your choice of distance and a charity component. What's not to love? To seal the deal, Cabot is giving the first 100 registered racers a Cabot Fit shirt. Don't I look adorbs in mine?

I'm going for a half this October and hope you'll join me to benefit Feeding America. And my medal rack. Both of which need stocking.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sister Brunch and Brew Tour

 It's great that both of my sisters live so close and have similar interests ... or can be easily swayed by the allure of witty banter, delicious carbs and free-flowing adult beverages. One of those things.

We all met up for brunch in anticipation of a tour at Finch Brewing. I bought a groupon for the tour, so it was $24 for four people and included four pint glasses and endless tastings. I mean, I'm sure there was an end and all, but I didn't find it.

First stop was Waffles ...again, a groupon find, which scored us an entree of our choice and two drinks for $19. Yes, please. I got huevoes ranchers verde and every one else at the table got bacon waffles with fried chicken. I was saving myself for the beer.

Sadness: We found out AFTER we arrived it was BYOB. Because I really needed to drink before I drink.
We then headed over to the brewery and parked around the corner for free. Pro tip: Get there early. You're given a colored wrist band based on the time of your tour and the tasting starts immediately. Brewery employees explain a little bit about each brew and pour generous samples upon samples. Generously.

The tour starts with talking about how beer is made, then they take you around the plant to see the process in motion. The coolest thing about this plant is how they put the beer in cans. Lots of breweries use cans, but I'm far more used to seeing homemade bottling solutions at smaller breweries. It was really cool and something I typically don't think about when I'm finding peace the bottom of a cold one.

I enjoyed learning more about their beers and was super bummed they were out of Secret Stache Stout. While I enjoyed the Fascist Pig the most, we were able to sweet talk our way into a tasting to the Hardcore Chimeria, which is the clear winner in the race to win my beer loving favor.
In all, this is a great value. The pint glass alone is worth more than the $6 I paid per person, not to mention all the tastings and entertainment.

Friday, September 26, 2014

What No One Tells You About Your First Ironman

It's been a stretch since I crossed the finish line at Ironman Wisconsin, my first 140.6-mile journey. I've been obsessing over this race for years. Thinking about it in quiet moments, pivoting my life around training for this seemingly impossible feat. I still can't believe I did it.

In honor of **finally** cutting the bracelet off my wrist, I thought I'd gather the facts that surprised me about my first journey to the Ironman finish.

Nakedness. I am not an overly modest person. I rock a bikini, run in a sports bra, blog about my IUD and post half-naked selfies. But. Even I was surprised with the blatant and abundant nudity in T1 and T2. Volunteers dump out your stuff, help you out of your clothes and get your dressed again, fast. But it's so much naked.

Aid station buffets. I've never seen aid stations as well-stocked as on the Ironman run. Someone said they were catered aid stations and I truly understood that on the course. At every station, there was: water, Perform, Bonk Breaker bars, chews, chomps, GU, oranges, bananas, cookies, chips, pretzel and flat coke. And I might be forgetting something.

Silly support. There are so many witty signs on the course, along with hilariously attired spectators. Drag queens, speedos, superheros, they're all out there. A lot of the signs were too inappropriate to share, but believe me, they helped.

M-dot obsession. I now own two finisher's jackets (thanks mom!), a pint glass, two hats, a backpack and a trailer hitch, all with the Ironman logo. Without the paraphernalia, how will anyone ever ask me about my Ironman?

Announcement. There is nothing more exhilarating than hearing Mike Reilly say "You Are An Ironman." Watch the videos on YouTube and you'll know what I mean. Don't be bummed when your name is announced wrong. You're still an Ironman.

Blues. I have post-race depression, no doubt. It's not a "I can't get out of bed thing" but more of a nagging "what do I do now" sensation. Don't get my wrong, I'm THRILLED that I was able to finish. But now my schedule is far more open and I wonder what the hell normal people do at 5 a.m. (I'm guessing it isn't bike on a trainer in the garage while watching trashy TV on Amazon prime .... )

Addiction. Once is not enough. Not nearly enough. I want to do all the Ironmans now. I lost an hour of time because of technical errors. I will do the Ironman and I will rock it. I won't be able to afford to do this again anytime soon, but one day, I'll be back. And I'll be awesome.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Three Things Thursday

1. I've been a not great blogger lately. Not sorry. It's because I've been a stellar employee lately. Because this happened on Sunday:
And the Society of Women Engineers is my client. It's like watching your kid take her first steps, graduate and get married, all in the same moment. I've never been busier/prouder/happier. Because then I got quoted in the Chicago Tribune, which got picked up the AV Club and Jezebel and a million other places. Feels, I have them. All of them. Did I mention the SWE's collected more than $40k in four days? Yeah.

2. So you know what's the best thing to do in the face of the largest public relations swell ever and the biggest traffic day to your client website on record? Leave town. I'm traveling again to give social media instruction for one of my clients. I love my job, I love Texas, I love travel, but timing is everything.

3. My sister got me the sweetest present for finishing Ironman Wisconsin. I can't wait to hang up the medal holder. Guess I need to do more triathlons ... She told me she found it on Etsy and it's handmade by a guy who's also an Ironman.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Motivation Monday

We are all out there on the same course, heading the same way, whatever our speed.

A member of my run club told me a few weeks ago told me something that has stuck with me. Runners do something very hard for fun. We push ourselves. We sacrifice. We make decisions. We have fun in the challenge, not because we will win something or be rewarded extravagantly. Instead, we find the motivation and the satisfaction within.

And that is why a runner is a runner, no matter how fast or old or new to the sport. We get it. We get each other.

Welcome to the clan of runners.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Three Things Thursday

1. BRF (best running friend) MacKenna is running her first marathon! I'm so excited for her, and happy to support her and her running cause. She's running in support of Girls on the Run, which is an awesome cause to begin with. I think often how different my life would be if someone introduced me to running at an early age. She has to raise $400 in the next two weeks, and every little bit counts.
Donate here now!

2. I finally got new goggles. After the near-disaster of snapping my goggles at the start of my 140-mile journey to become an Ironman, I was not looking forward to getting back in the water. But, the only way to get better is get back on it, I suppose.

Bees like sprite 
3. My run club had a victory party for me and it was a blast! Most of the club ran 13 miles and I could only muster 10. I walked back to our start point and we barbecued and enjoyed brews ... at 9 a.m. Don't judge! The bees were insane and one stung my face, but it was an otherwise super fun time.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cooking with Kelly: The Best Crock Pot Ribs Recipe

As previously stated, crock pot recipes are my kitchen's secret weapon. Throw a bunch of stuff in there and hours later, you've faked dinner. It's nearly foolproof, you can't really burn stuff and all the mess is contained in a single place. So much to love.

Anyhow, ribs were on sale at ALDI recently (related: How to shop at ALDI), and I have my brand-new grill, so I figured why the hell not. Except it was roughly 483 degrees when I wanted to make the ribs and I knew I had to pre-cook them low and slow in the oven to get them tender. And ain't nobody got time for that in the heat of the summer.

Instead, I chopped these ribs up into manageable portions and let them cook low and slow in the crock pot. It's funny, between marinated these in vinegar, letting the rub settle overnight, cooking them in beer in the crock pot and grilling them off with barbecue sauce, this was a 24-hour affair ... that took roughly one hour of actual work. And this, folks, is how I feed five people for $10, with leftovers.
Marvel at my cooking, time management and fiscal prowess. 

Perfect Crock Pot Ribs Recipe
1 rack of baby back ribs
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 can of cheap beer (don't use the Zombie Dust for this one)
Your favorite pork rub, or:
3 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon coarse salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 thinly sliced onion
1 bottle barbecue sauce

Trim the fat from the ribs and cut into two- to three-rib portions. Soak in the vinegar for a half hour, the remove and pat dry.

Mix the dry ingredients for the pork rub together or liberally apply your favorite rub to all surfaces of the ribs. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate uncovered overnight - this helps set the flavors and seal everything in.

In the morning, pour 1/2 of the beer into the bottom of your crock pot. Top with a layer of ribs, and cover those with the onion slices. Repeat the rib-onion layering and top the concoction with the remaining beer. Cook on low for seven hours.

At the end of the crock pot cook time, remove and place on a baking sheet and allow to rest and dry for a half hour.

During that time, preheat your grill to as hot as it goes. Once the ribs are cool, brush with the barbecue sauce liberally.

To finish these off, grill 5 minutes on each side or until a delicious crust forms.

Remove from the grill and cover with more sauce, if any remains, and seal in tinfoil for at least 30 minutes.