Monday, July 6, 2015

Independence Day at Pinstripes Chicago

Happy post-Fourth of July, people! I had an awesome Independence Day, which I celebrated with a spectacular view of amazing fireworks enjoyed with delicious food and delightful company.

I was invited to partake in Pinstripes' festivities, which featured a multiple-course set menu enjoyed on the Chicago River with a full view of the Navy Pier fireworks.

We rolled in and there was toasted focaccia and pesto waiting. I had just completed a full day of workouts and was getting ready to set out for a 14-mile run the next day, so I was in full "leave no carb behind" mode. Naturally, we needed a second basket of bread. Along with this amazing charcuterie platter. You can't quite see it, but the mini figs were amazing with the Gorgonzola. The prosciutto-wrapped asparagus bites were also superb.


Next up was a crisp salad, followed by our choice of entrees. The menu included a pinenut crusted halibut or a trio of filet mignon. I went with the steak and potatoes option and was very happy with my life choices.

My favorite filet was the Gorgonzola, but my entree also came with a peppercorn and a Parmesan steak, mashed red potatoes and asparagus.

As if I weren't full enough, dinner concluded with tiramisu gelato. It was so creamy and delicious that I needed a giant mug of coffee to wash it down. In addition to a sweet outdoor bocce ball set up, the patio featured a fire pit complete with blankets, which is where I enjoyed my post-dinner coffee while waiting for the fireworks to start.

And it was one hell of a show. There's nothing like feeling the fireworks exploding overhead while sipping coffee along the Chicago River. Hope everyone out there had an awesome holiday!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Three Things Thursday

1. What are you plans for Independence Day? I'm headed downtown to watch the fireworks at Pinstripes. They're hosting a shindig that I scored a pair of tickets to. I'm looking forward to treats and beverages while watching the show over Navy Pier. Do you think they'd mind if I brought my own s'mores ingredients? I mean, that firepit is just begging for it.

2. I had the chance to watch a few friends compete in the Bigfoot Triathlon last weekend, and it really just made me itchy to get out there. I didn't sign up myself because I'm already concerned my race schedule is super full, but watching my friends tackle the distance and succeed made me want to be out there, too. So of course, I've spent all week watching triathlon videos and getting super excited to train this weekend. With the long weekend ahead, I'll be spending a day in Madison swimming in Lake Monona and biking the Ironman Wisconsin course. Basically, trying to recapture the glory I experienced last fall. It's #Ironbitch time.

But I wanna be doing that, too .... 
3. Napoleon's been making new friends. Specifically, Alissa's baby Lydia. He tried to cuddle with her, tried to get into her car seat with her and followed her out the door. I think they're in love.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Training Tuesday: On Skipped Sessions

I really did try to fit in all my workouts this weekend. The fails started Friday and just kept coming.

I got up on Friday as scheduled and had every intention of swimming my workout at the gym. But when I arrived, a ton of people were milling about at the entrance. I realized that no one could get in, despite the fact that the gym should have opened nearly an hour before. I waited for 10 minutes, then went home, because I knew I didn't have enough time to run the workout, even if someone showed up right away. This is the second time that week that LA Fitness totally screwed me. On Tuesday nights, apparently some local swim school takes up a full lane for kids' lessons, but no one can tell me when that's happening or for how long.

LA Fitness Fail. Big Fail.
So that was the first fail of the week. I did complete the afternoon five-mile run as planned, complete with hill sprints, via treadmill. But Saturday was a planned rest day, and then Sunday just got away from me. I had planned to run while I was out spectating at a triathlon, but it just didn't come together. I fell asleep on the couch after Sunday dinner at the witching hour of 9 p.m. So perhaps I needed those unscheduled rest days?

Regardless, I tried to get back on track yesterday morning. I swam 2,000 yards with a dead Garmin, then tried to do the 12 miles on the treadmill. I completed 5.5. Better than none, but I shall try for 12 again tomorrow morning.

What really scares me about this training cycle is the rapid bunch up of races. I usually bounce back from triathlons in a few days, but I'll be doing an 8k (4.97 miles) the day before a 70.3. Then I've got a 10K, a sprint triathlon and a 70.3 one right after the other. I'm going to need a massage for real.

Days until ...

Hemingway 8K: 18
Door County 70.3: 19
Beach to Beacon 10K with #CabotFitTeam!: 32
Iron Girl Sprint Triathlon (Use KELLY15 to save 10 percent): 40
Pigman 70.3: 47

Halp. This is shaping up to be a hell of a summer.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Motivation Monday

So this one is a little strange in terms of items that motivate me. But if it works, I go with it. I've been so tied into pushing and committing this season, and also get bummed looking at my old times and photos and such. I finally missed a long workout this weekend and I know I won't be able to make it up. It bums me out, but I know a single workout won't change my performance, just like a single salad won't make me skinny. So in training, and in life, I'm trying to let the things I can't control just fall away. That shit is hard. So I turn to Disney for help.

I haven't seen the movie, but I like the song. It's a nice reminder at times to "just do you." Let the rest lie.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Three Things Thursday

1. My square foot garden is sadly gone. Someone in my neighborhood or the HOA or something removed it, unbeknownst to me, but left the dirt. My neighbor them proceeded to seal it with plastic and cover it with mulch, again, without my knowledge. He will not be getting any of my tomatoes, which are doing super awesome in spite of all that. After cutting holes into the plastic to reveal the peat moss, compost and pearlite I lovingly cultivated before the debacle, I put in two tomato plants, a pepper plant and basil from ALDI. I later added two more tomatoes from Menards. The tomatoes from ALDI are going gangbusters and I'm looking forward to a late-summer harvest of all the tomatoes I can handle. And that's a lot, no doubt.

2. My parents are in town! While they've been here, we've cooked out, seen sights and made many a Costco run. My mom recommended a fertilizer that she says is impossible to screw up. It's a shake and feed-style format that claims if used correctly, will not burn up your plants. I'll report back on its effectiveness soon.
Just some of the grilling goodness - this was for our Father's Day cookout

3. I make bad decisions, or really good ones, depending on how you look at it. From a training standpoint, signing up for a second 70.3 that's about a month away isn't a great move. From a budgeting perspective, though, getting in on a long-distance triathlon for $32 while people are unloading bibs before the transfer cut off is an excellent move. I offered $100 for a bib for the Door County Triathlon, which is the exact amount I had in my PayPal account from a freelance job. I paid the original purchaser, then paid the transfer and fees for a grand total of $32. Then I booked a campsite near the race for another $30. This will be my $32 half ironman, and my $60 Door County vacation.

Door County Triathlon from Boreal Sky on Vimeo.

Smart or stupid? You decide.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Win it Wednesday: #Vegan1 Protein Powder Giveaway

I'm always on the hunt for a solid protein powder. It's a delicate balance - flavor v. nutrition. I don't want something filled with a bunch of crap, nor do I want to try and choke down some powdery goo. Vegan1 recently got in touch with me about their line of products, which has an interesting sales pitch to go along with four flavors:

Vegan1 is the best alternative to acquiring your protein needs without having to consume any meat product. It is a protein shake that has harnessed nature's plant-based protein sources to provide you the most essential nutrient your body requires. One serving packs a whole lot with 20g plant-based protein blend from peas, potatoes, and chlorella. It also provides 10 fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, carrots, and apricots. With 22 vitamins and minerals you also get great antioxidant protection. Plus, optimal digestion is ensured with 7g of dietary fiber, probiotics, and enzymes. Vegan1 has no dairy or soy and non-GMO. It is also allergen and gluten free. It comes in 4 delicious flavors: Vanilla, Chocolate, Banana and Chai. There are no artificial flavorings, colors, or sweeteners—it is 100% naturally sweetened with Stevia.

Flavors include banana, vanilla, chocolate and chai. They sent me a variety pack to try, and the chocolate was my favorite. It blended smoothly, even with just a shaker bottle, and it tasted great. I appreciate that there weren't any weird unnatural ingredients, and I like have a dairy-free option. If my tummy is having troubles, it's nice to have that as an option. Plus, probiotics are a pre-race staple for me, so that's a nice bonus.

I also read up about Vegan1, which was created by former football player Bill Romanowski. His claim to fame is he played 243 games consecutively, which he credits to solid and careful nutrition. I won't be taking up football anytime soon, but with all the training I'm doing for this summer's race schedule means I'm cognizant of feeding my body the fuel it needs to get the job done.

If you want to see for yourself in Vegan1 is your new protein powder, enter now. RaffleCopter will randomly select the winner of  2 tubs of Vegan1 and 2 shakers on July 2. Good luck, readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Training Tuesday: Much Treadmill Edition

I don't know why, but my last two long runs have ended up on the treadmill - 11 miles one week and nine miles the next. That's a long time on the treadmill watching TV and hoping for it to be over. In addition to being boring beyond belief, the first week hurt my toes immensely. I realized this week that I have to set the treadmill to an incline; otherwise, my toes are bumping into my shoes as I perpetually head downhill for 90+ minutes.

Another pro tip for running distance indoors: fans. All the fans you can find. I have a box fan, an oscillating fan and a tower fan, all forming an orbit of moving air around my treadmill. I still get unbearably sweaty, but at least it moves air around in the meanwhile.

This also means that closed captioning on my television programming for the duration is a must. I can sort of hear the TV over all the buzzing, but I need the CC to make sure I can fill in the gaps. And it also helps distract me from the fact that I'm running for longer than the treadmill can keep time. Luckily, this brand of home treadmill does not shut off after an hour, but after 100 minutes, it does start the clock over again. So when I took a shot of my 11-mile run, it looked liked I did it in 2 minutes and 45 seconds. Brooks, I'm ready for my contract.

I very much dislike that I know this fact about my treadmill.

However, this means I'm feeling pretty damn good about my upcoming races. I've kept nearly on track for all my training (I'm missing one pesky swim), and can't wait to run the Beach to Beacon 10K in just 40 days with #CabotFitTeam. It's going to be a blast to connect with Cabot again, and I've never been to Maine. The countdown is on and the training continues. Maine, here I come!