Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Training Tuesday: Easing into the Ironman

My basement induces euphoria
Last week was tough for me. I was commuting a lot and logging a ton of hours at work. No regrets, my career is important and I'm going places ... but that little Ironman thing is rolling around in the back of my brain all the time. I follow a Facebook group and keep hearing about four-hour brick workouts and mid-winter centuries.

And I can't even manage to get all my laundry done and tuck myself into bed before 11 p.m. 

I had a moment last week. Where I thought about the whole idea of "having it all" being a load of lies and crap. And panicking about how the hell I can take on any more than what I'm doing now.

However, there's no way to get over this other than going through it. I had a fabulous 16-mile run Sunday, followed by a one-mile swim Monday morning. Alyssa and I put a ride on the docket for the evening because the weather was awesome and we wanted to break in our new tri bikes.

Then this happened:

Go home, Illinois weather. You're drunk.

Instead, Alyssa toted her bike and trainer over to my basement, along with this DVD. It's a first-person view of a criterion race in Downers Grove. I've never done such race, or a video workout quite like this. It was vomitously intense, but also awesome. It gave Alyssa and I chance to chat (in between gasping and over the sound of my loud trainer) while trying to channel those summer miles where we sweat and whined about how hot it was.

Today I also did a double - 45 minuted on the bike in the morning, then six miles running at lunch. It's not perfect, but at least I'm getting to all the sports in a single week and running feel a bit easier.

In fact, I'm feeling awesome. My pace today was 8:34, and my pace this weekend for the long run was 8:41. I don't know what the secret sauce is, but somehow, a switch has flipped.

It feels amazing to be back. For however long this lasts.

Monday, April 14, 2014

You might be a healthy living blogger if you ...

... own a Vitamix.

... go to Whole Foods after a bike ride and run into two gluten-free bloggers (love ya, Alissa and Betsy).
... go out with other bloggers to Whole Foods for hotbar.

... enjoy iced coffee regularly. And get excited when Dunkin Donuts offers it for $.99.

... own a bike worth more than your car.

... possess more athletic shoes than regular shoes. And need every pair.

... love peanut butter in a more than normal way.

... eat overnight oats in a jar while commuting via train.

... run at lunch (runch).
... think a sweaty selfie is the truest form of expression.
... have met people at parties and started the conversation with "I read your blog!"
... have a deep appreciation for Flatout Bread, Chobani and snack bars.

... possess an Instagram account full of selfies, pets, food and race finish photos.

... regularly search for yourself on GOMI.
... do CrossFit.

... know you're a total walking stereotype. And would have it no other way.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Short story, long run

First, a story. Yesterday was finally a lovely day in Chicago - lots of sun and temperatures that made me smile. Tim and I took our bikes out to Busse Woods and I cycled 22 miles again. I'm excited to report the Busse Woods bathroom now features doors on its bathroom stalls! Win.

Anyhow, it was so hot yesterday that we opened the windows to enjoy the breeze. It was still really hot overnight, so we set up a box fan in the windowsill. I don't really know what happened, but sometime in the middle of the night the fan fell over, crashing to the ground. It woke me up and I screamed, hence awaking Tim with a scream as well.

Guess who never awoke? The world's worst guard dog ever.

Despite our nocturnal nonsense, I slept really well last night and was ready to run. The weather looked foreboding, so all my grand plans to meet the club for an evening jaunt were dashed (pun intended). After hemming and hawing for most of the morning, I set out on my own for my longest solo run in at least six months. I decided to shoot for 15 on a nearby path - two miles to the trailhead, six miles out and then head back and hope to not get rained on. I listened to music and brought a salted caramel Gu, which I cracked open at the 10-mile mark.

Running is such a great analogy for life. Some days you just can't catch a break, and other days the stars align. I felt great today and ended at 16 feeling like I could keep going. My overall pace was 8:41 and completely devoid of bathroom breaks, cramps or self doubt.

Two weeks ago, I choked at the Circular Logic Marathon. Yesterday I ate pizza and cookies, drank beer and slept for crap, then killed it today.

Improbable, incomprehensible,  illogical. This is my life, and that is how I run.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cooking with Kelly: Crock Pot Caramelized Onion Jam Recipe

Every now and again, I have to marvel at modern technology. My cell phone has more processing power than the computers that sent the first astronauts to the moon. I can track my speed and distance while running using a watch harnessing satellites in space. Not only did my job managing social media not exist five years ago, social media in its current state did not exist at all when I graduated high school.

In addition to all these crazy and strange advanced, perhaps my favorite item that adds ease and overall deliciousness to my life is my crock pot. Throw a bunch of stuff in, let it run and ding dinner's done when you get home. It's the working woman's modern marvel.

This time, I set out to make something cheffy and gourmet. It's amazing how easily you can fake a fancy meal with a crock pot. I pulled out my baby 1.5-quart slow cooker and chopped up three cheapo yellow onions, added the remaining ingredients and let it all slowly meld together for hours on low.

The only downside: The house reeked of onions for the entirety. It didn't bother me initially until we left the house for a while and then returned. The smell was overpowering, and made me starving. However, if that's the only ill affect I experienced and have this delicious savory jam to smooth on sandwiches and grilled entrees, it's a fair trade. Done deal!
Crock Pot Carmelized Onion Jam Recipe
3 large onions, diced into small, uniform chunks
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil

Spray the crock pot with a cooking spray, then place all the ingredients inside. Stir to coat the onions with the oil and vinegar. Cook on low for eight hours, stirring as needed if you're at home. I personally recommend removing the lid after eight hours, stirring and cooking on low uncovered for another hour to allow the moisture to escape. For me, this created a more jam-like texture that I've found particularly satisfying on grilled pizzas, paninis and broiled fish.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Three Things Thursday

1. I got myself all gussied up last weekend to go to a wedding. Tim and I had a blast. I'm not sure if I should be embarrassed or flattered that my bathroom selfie is now the most popular thing I've ever post on social media. Ever. Either way, methinks I need to dress up more often.

 2. When I did my Ask Me Anything post, Erin asked me about Facebook engagement, and Lindy asked me what the heck it is I do all day. In case you're curious, I work in social media and public relations for an integrated marketing agency. Erin actually came out to my presentation last week for #Ms.Tech, a group of female entrepreneurs and tech gurus, about social media marketing for event promotion. Another blogger wrote a nice blog post about my presentation, and I'll be conducting a two-part series on Twitter and LinkedIn later this month. This podcast is a preview of that series, and if you'd like to join it, you can save 10 percent on the sessions using code Kelly10.
I also get to meet celebrities for my job, like this giant oreo
3. Another job that I do is write for AquaGear in exchange for product credit. I finally cashed in a few of these to get the Triclops transition bag. I've never had a backpack that comes with an instruction manual, but this is well warranted. It has a pocket for everything! I'm working on a review to share soon.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Win it Wednesday: Fundamental Chocolates

I'm having a totally crazy week and am looking forward to my long run on Sunday to balance out my time. Until then, I have a giveaway to keep you readers interested until I can write another soul-wringing post that will go on to haunt me on the interwebs.

Diane is the chocolatier behind Fundamental Chocolates (which, by the way, might be the greatest job title ever). She provided these chocolate samples for me to stuff my face with, but as always, the opinions are all mine. She was inspired by the paleo lifestyle to create a chocolate that would make our caveman ancestors proud and told me she spent a year getting the formula just right. I'm not a paleo chick, but I am a chocolate chick. Always. So I was all in.

What's special about these chocolates is that there are only a handful of ingredients, and they're all real, natural and high-quality. Because there's nothing but the good stuff in them, they're soy, gluten and dairy free, and also lack processed sugar and artificial flavors.

I ripped into my samples after my long run Sunday and was enamored by the sea salt and pistachio flavor. I love salt because it highlights the sweet for your palate. The raspberry was equally delicious. Neither was overwhelmingly sweet, but still quenched my craving. Another awesome aspect of these treats is that they're already portioned out into two-bite servings that are about 60 calories a pop. See how simple the label is:
If you want to give it a try, I'm your gal. Diane will ship one lucky reader a package of each variety. Rafflecopter will randomly selected a winner next week, and I'll announce it here. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Training Tuesday: Reflections on the Marathon

Bike ride stats
It's been a little more than a week since I tackled the Circular Logic Marathon. It really feels like it was a lifetime ago. I was quite sore the day after the marathon, executed my high-protein recovery plan. I also went for a slow two-mile jog the day after, and a one-mile swim two days after the race.

Later that week, I executed a decently speedy four-mile run and continued with CrossFit twice a week. This weekend, it was like the marathon never happened. I rode my bike for nearly an hour and a half, then ran a half marathon Sunday at a decent clip.

This all leads me to the bottom line: I don't know what went wrong at Circular Logic. I can't pin down where I went off the rails. But I knew as early as mile six it wasn't going to be my day. I bounced back fast, despite as terrible I felt three hours in.

All that there is to do at this point is move forward. I've tried to put it all out of my mind and just focus on the next thing, which is the Vermont City Marathon in 47 days and some change. This weekend, I'll set out for a 16-mile run if I'm up to it and the weather is favorable. If all is well, I want to run 20 miles the following weekend. I know my legs can do it; I need to get mentally focused.

On the topic of training, another deadline and event is clearly looming in the background. I'm 22 weeks away from Ironman Wisconsin. I am getting nervous. If it weren't for the next marathon and the need to keep up my distance, I'd be on week three of the training plan. My plan moving forward is CrossFit twice a week, running twice a week (one for distance, one for speed), cycling twice a week (indoor or outdoor) and swimming as much as possible. I'd like to do more computrainer rides, but the place I prefer is an hour away. Annoying ...

I'm well aware one cannot complete an Ironman on base fitness alone. But I also need to keep in mind most people don't run two marathons before an Ironman. Once I've wrapped up my second attempt at a sub-four marathon, I'll switch over to the training plan for Ironman and hope I haven't lost out on so much training time that I'm hopeless.