Kelly the Culinarian: September 2012

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Care for a Run on the Mall?

Today has been a super exciting adventure! I got up earlier than early today to get to the airport and fly to Washington, D.C., for work. I touched down in D.C. around 9:30, checked into my hotel and changed to go on a run in the nation's capitol. When I lived here five years ago, I did not run. In fact, in the time I lived here, I'm not sure if I worked out at all. Ever.  Oops. It's a shame, because this is a running/walking/cycling city.

I had 15K to complete for Jenny's Inaugural Illinois Peripheral Neuropathy Support Group virtual race. Given that my foot has been so cranky, I took it really slow and stopped to take pictures all over. I wore a new Adidas running skirt I got on clearance at Costco, along with a top from Running Skirts and my new Brooks shoes.  The running skirt might be better left for shorter distances - I might have looked cute, but my legs are not so cute anymore.

I left from the hotel and ran around the White House, down towards the Lincoln Monument, along the Potomac River, behind the Capitol Building and back around to the hotel. Not including my water breaks, it took me about an hour and a half.
The Capitol Building, the Washington Monument and the White House
It is gorgeous here today, too! If only it didn't cost $700 a month to rent a basement apartment without a kitchen or cable, I might consider living here again.

Post run, I showered and decided I needed to eat NOW.  I found District Taco and went to town on a giant Ensalada Yucateca with chicken, black beans, pico de gallo, lime juice, tomatillo salsa and grilled veggies. It came with two tortillas on the side.  It was super tasty and quite filling.  The salsa doesn't quite beat my favorite green sauce in the world at Cemitas Pueblas, but it was very satisfying.

Next up, I ran some errands around the Mall for work.  It gave me a chance to see a few things, including the American History Museum, which was closed for renovations when I lived here. I finally saw the Star Spangled Banner! I feel more patriotic already.  You can't take photos of it, so here's a photo of me for my mother.  

Off to do some more work!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Great Day for a Game

After the trauma of getting a shot in my foot, I took Friday off and Tim and I went to a movie. We saw Looper.  Anyone want to discuss the movie in the comment section so as to not ruin it for anyone else?

This morning, we woke up super early to drive to Evanston for the Northwestern football game against Indiana University. See, when I went to Northwestern, tailgating wasn't nearly this cool. Because we tailgated with Tim's program, it was really classy. There was a bartender and everything.

They really take their tailgating seriously - we saw super elaborate set ups with games, grills, buffets and who knows what else. We enjoyed breakfast, beverages, conversation and lunch before the game. My favorite was the purple cake pop dipped in white chocolate. Tasty and themed!

We had great seats and enjoyed the lovely weather. It was a great day for football and when we finished up there, Tim and I headed to the gym closest to my work. We both have the same membership, but usually go to different locations. He was surprised with how much nicer this location was and we spent a decent amount of time there.  Now, we're catching up on the DVR before I leave for an adventure tomorrow.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Post About My Feet

Without any pictures of my feet, mind you.  I hate feet.  All feet. Not just mine, everyone's feet. I think they look weird and inevitably have a few things that are just strange about them.

But mine hurt, so off to the podiatrist I went today.  The arch of my right foot has been bothering me, especially in the morning or after a hard run. This has been going on for the past month or so, but was especially bad during the marathon. Everything hurt then, but this especially.
Scary X-Ray machine

The office immediately sent me down to X-Ray and took three photos of the ornery foot.
Yet another X-ray of my insides
I saw the doctor, who did not look at my foot, either. Maybe he feels the same way about feet as I do, which would make his career choice quite cruious. He asked me a bunch of questions and reviewed the X-Ray and seemed thorough enough, but I was annoyed because he took a phone call during the middle of my appointment.

Anyhow, I have plantar faciiitis in my right food, which is a surprise to absolutely no one on the planet Earth. It's a very common inflammation issue caused by arch problems.

To bring down the inflammation, I got a giant needle stuck in my foot. The one-time cortisone shot should make me pain free in 48 hours. I think the anticipation of getting a shot in the foot was worse than pain of the shot.

To stay pain free, I have orthotic shoe inserts to support my arch.  With any luck, the only maintenance  that I'll have to keep up on is replacing the orthotics every six to eight months.

Do you wear orthotics? Why? Are they custom-made?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Winner of the PlantFusion Giveaway is ...


She'll receive a 1-pound container of PlantFusion protein powder.  E-mail me at by 6 p.m. Friday to claim your prize.

In the meantime, if you would like to get your product into the hands of my readers through a Win it Wednesday contest, let me know.

Coincidentally, Kim is giving away an entry to the Thriller in Schiller 5K, which is on Oct. 28. You shouldn't enter the contest, though, because that dilutes my odds of winning the entry.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Training Tuesday: Post-Marathon Thoughts, Tips and Takeaways

It's been more than a week since I finished my first marathon. I've been putting off writing this post for a while because it's all so overwhelming. The best analogy I can muster is that running a marathon is a lot like planning a wedding: you spend months preparing, obsessing about every detail and trying to ensure perfection. Then, it's over in the flash of an eye and you feel like you missed half of the stuff you thought we be important to you.

Like the signs or the spectators. Jenny's kids made me this awesome sign and screamed their heads off, but I didn't see them at all. I planned to jump at the finish line for a photo, but just couldn't get it together.

So in not particular order, here are a few thoughts I've had about the experience since it all wrapped up.
  • Runner use a training plan, create a race day plan, but don't think that much about a recovery plan. Let me tell you, when you need help getting out of bed to get to the bathroom at 2 a.m., you'll start to contemplate what you need to do to get back to normal. If you're running the Chicago Marathon, start thinking now what you need to do with your nutrition and activity in the first hour, first 24 hours and first 48 hours to recover.
  • Not the marathon tattoos I had in mind
  • Battle wounds - I've got them.  My heart rate monitor nearly sliced me in half (I look like I've had surgery) and my arm band left a nice little chafe mark. I also have a slightly less photograph-able wound on my hip from where my fuel was in my pocket and other associated chafing that has healed up without scarring. Imagine how bad it would be if I wore something new ... 
  • MacKenna cheering me on
  • At some point during the marathon, you will doubt your own sanity. You will contemplate why you ever signed up for this. No one is chasing you. No one is making you do this. But remember, you trained for this. No one can run it for you. And eventually, it will hurt more to stop than to keep going. Write your inspiration on your arm, if you have to, to remind you why you're doing this.
  • Very few people will be as excited as you are for the marathon. I had the most awesome-ever cheerleading squad, but 95 percent of people don't understand the sacrifice, determination and sheer will required to train for and complete a marathon. They also won't understand the unbridled joy of finishing it, or the sadness you'll feel when it's all over. Don't take it personally. It doesn't deter from the accomplishment of cover 26.2 miles.
  • Bling bling
  • In the same token, for the sanity of the people around you, you might want to check how many times you start a sentence with "During the marathon ..."
  • Celebrate and commemorate. While the only thing that sounded good to me in the hours after the marathon was pizza and frozen yogurt, the hours after the marathon are truly the best time to have a really nice meal or a party or something to bask in your glory. Finisher's medal required, of course. I also put my shiny new 26.2 sticker on my car.  I don't care if this makes me pretentious, I'm damn proud of myself.
  • Post-marathon depression is very real.  Shalane Flanagan wrote about this very phenomena recently. You'll be tired, sore and bloated, and realize that what you trained for for months is over with. It can be a little blue, but this too shall pass.
  • To fend off the blues, savor your accomplishment and start thinking about what's next. I had an awesome race with my dad, and I'm looking forward to a ladies weekend with a bunch of Chicago Running Bloggers at Zooma Great Lakes.
  • Next time I do this (and there will be a next time), I plan to focus more on nutrition, both during the training cycle and on the run.  I thought I had my running nutrition together, but I felt bloated and heavy in the final five to eight miles.
  • Another thing I need more help on is mental toughness. I thought I was hardcore, but I turned into a crying mess by the end.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cooking with Kelly: Perfect Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

Oh peanut butter, how I love thee.  I eat peanut butter probably five days out of every week in different forms and fashions. I have my preferred brands and styles, as well as delivery methods.  But the cookie form is always an excellent choice.

This peanut butter cookie recipe yields a slightly crunchy, decidedly sweet final product that's a bit crumbly and chewy. What's even better about this recipe is that it takes very few common ingredients and go from an idea to in your tummy in no time.

Perfect Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

1 cup peanut butter (don't use natural peanut butter, they'll never set up)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coarsely chopped peanuts

Whisk together the egg and peanut butter, then add the sugar and stir until combined.  Add remaining ingredients, then roll out cookies into 1 Tablespoon portions.

Place on a cookie sheet, then use a fork to add an X on top of each cookie.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes and allow to cool for five minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to a cooling rack.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

2012 Fort2Base Race Report

Staying warm pre-race
What a difference a year makes. Last year, I trained for the 10 Nautical Mile Fort2Base Race for 12 weeks and it was the longest distance I had ever run. I learned a lot at this race, including how to fuel properly and a little bit of mental toughness.

This year, I'm a week out from my first marathon and confident in my ability to complete and compete in a variety of distances. I was in no condition to compete in this race this race this year, but I wanted to participate as part of my role as the director of ambassador outreach.

Lucky for me, my dad started getting active about a year ago. He started with walking, working his way up to walking a 5K about once a week at a forest preserve, moving indoors for the winter. I bought him a Garmin to track his heart rate and progress, and he added a run/walk combo in the past few months and agreed to complete the Fort2Base 3 Nautical Mile Race with me.

So I got up at 4 a.m. this morning to make the drive to the base.  Tim and I were at a wedding last night, hence the early wake up call and long drive.

It. Was. Cold. I arrived at Rosalind Franklin around 6 a.m. and took a short shuttle ride over the the base, where I met my mom and dad. Thankfully, the base opened up a gym facility next to the start line because of the cold. We hung out there until about 7 a.m., then moved outside for some short speeches, the presentation of the flag and the national anthem.

Right about 7:15 a.m., my dad and I were off. It was a beautiful course and a perfect day, weather wise. After the first half mile, we warmed up and were cruising along. We probably took the first mile too fast, clocking in at 10:18. My dad wears a heart rate monitor, so we took a little walk break whenever it got too high.  We also walked through the water stations and tried to enjoy the waterfront and morning as much as possible.

We rested right before the massive hill on the course (Hero Hill), then tried to power through it to the top. We made it about 75 percent of the way there.

When we hit the 5K mark, my dad noticed he just hit a PR, but we still had to make it to the finish line. We booked it for the last quarter mile, despite my dad's heart rate reaching 110 percent of max. He may never run with me again ...
Victorious post-run shot
We clocked in at 38:39, an 11:13 overall pace. My dad's Garmin info showed that we were fast the first mile, slowed in the second and speeded up at the very end. It was great running with my dad and was an experience I really enjoyed.  I love racing because it pushes me to a new level with my running and lets me meet a multitude of like-minded people, which is why I'm excited to share it with people. Plus, I love that my dad has taken up a healthy and badass hobby. It's hard to try something new, but my dad has conquered a cool milestone and I was there to do it with him. I hope we'll get a chance to do this again.

After we finished, we got out medals and loaded up on bars, snacks and drinks.  I've never seen so many snacks! I tried a huge assortment of bars and snacks and found a new favorites.

I had to stick around for a while to take photos with the Chicago Running Bloggers as well as the staff and ambassadors, but the shuttle back was slow going.
Lauren, Me, Sara and Maggie looking sexy!
In the interest of full disclosure, I did receive a free race entry as part of my ambassador duties. As always, the opinions are all mine.

Price: For me, free

Pros: Unique setting, awesome post-race party, personalized bibs, medals for all finishers, unique crowd support from sailors, so much awesome food, plenty of toilets and water stations, lovely long-sleeve tech shirts in cool colors

Cons: Slow shuttle service, no on-site parking, not great for spectators

Would I do it again: Yes, every year! And I hope my dad will want to do it with me again, too.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Three Things Thursday

Happy 800th post to me ...

1. I went to my first Yelp Elite Squad event this week. It was at OMango in Aurora, which is an upscale fast food place that serves healthy Indian food. I've had this style cuisine before, but this was far more approachable. The chef explained the dishes and sauces, offering up a wide array of awesome food. If you'd like to hear my whole take about the place, check out my Yelp profile.
2. On Sunday, my dad and I will tackle the Fort2Base Race. I ran the 11.5-mile distance last year, but I'm not up for it this year after the marathon. It's my dad's first race, so I'm looking forward to running at his pace. Hopefully it's not this dramatic:

3. On the topic of the Fort2Base Race, I was out past my bed time last night getting ready for the race. Caylei hosted a staff briefing at her house where we went over all the details of the race and the day, including the VIP treatment for our ambassadors. I got some sweet swag from Brooks Running, which is one of the generous sponsors of the race. I took my Brooks Ravenna out for an inaugural run tonight, which was my first run post marathon. It actually felt great, but the muscle right over my knees hurts. Random ...
The picture here doesn't do the gear justice. I got an awesome running jacket, a running thermal top and a wicking short-sleeve top. If you're running the race Sunday, make sure to check out the merchandise because it's super sweet.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Win It Wednesday: PlantFusion Protein Powder

I do love a good giveaway! Protein is a huge part of my diet, because it helps my muscles recover, keeps me feeling full and gives my body what it needs to recover. I'm always on the look out for the perfect protein powder. I like powders that provide lots of protein for a few calories, taste palatable, provide a smooth texture when blended and don't have a lot of added sugar or junk.

When I got a few samples of PlantFusion, I must say that I was impressed. For 120 calories, you get 21 grams of protein. For reference, a half of a chicken breast is 142 calories and 27 grams of protein.  

Post marathon, I really enjoyed the chocolate flavor, but they also make vanilla, unflavored and chocolate raspberry. It was creamy and smooth, without any weird aftertaste. Seeing as I'm feeling pretty lifelike today, it couldn't have hurt. I look forward to trying all the flavors, and I want one of you to try it, too.

Scott at NutraFusion Nutritionals has offered a 1-pound container to one of my readers. Here's how to win:

1. Like PlantFusion on Facebook.
2. Leave ONE comment here telling me you liked them on Facebook and which flavor you'd like to try.

The contest ends at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26. After that, I'll use to select a winner.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Recovery, Like a Champ

Beer would not be a great idea
I'm still processing my marathon finish yesterday.  There are just so many details and moments that I want to remember and process.  In the meantime, my body has to heal, preferably enough that I can comfortably sit at my desk tomorrow.

I took today off of work to devote my energy to recovery.  Here are my top tips for recovery.

1. Hydrate. Your body needs water to flush out toxins and recover from the trauma of covering 26 miles.

2. Protein. I took a protein shake as soon as I got home yesterday.  I'm trying PlantFusion, a dairy-, soy- and animal-free powder that has some great stats (120 calories per serving with 21 grams of protein). I used the chocolate powder with almond milk, ice and half a banana. It was mighty tasty, so look for a giveaway later this week.

3. Sleep. I went to bed pretty early last night and got up when my body wanted.

4. Stretch and heat your muscles. I went to the gym today and spent time in the sauna stretching, sweating and hydrating, as well as walking paces in the hot tub.

5. Massage is awesome, always. I had a Groupon for a massage that I cashed in today, and I'm torn. The massage was fantastic, but I didn't care for the chiropractic practice where it took place. The doctor there struck me as odd and disorganized, and my massage started a half an hour after it was scheduled. Also, the offices were semi-private, meaning the walls didn't go all the way up to the ceiling. So I could hear the doctor answering the phone, talking to patients, etc. Not great for finding my zen.

6. Stay active. Even though it's kind of painful, I've been walking as much as I can, taking Napoleon out for walks and cleaning around the house to keep my muscles moving.

Ever have a massage that wasn't quite what you expected?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fox Valley Marathon Race Report

I'm no longer a marathon virgin!
After I stopped crying

It was so much harder than I thought and took me a half an hour longer than I anticipated, but I'm so happy it's over with.  I did this. No one else could do it for me.

But I have to say that having awesome friends helps.

Like Kim, who despite running 31 miles yesterday, got up early to cheer me on.

Or MacKenna, who rode her bike along the course. I saw her probably 20 times, and she had an inspiring word every time I encountered her.

Or Jenny, who told me at the beginning that she was proud of me already. When I saw her around my 20 mile mark (she was running a 20-mile race), it totally recharged my batteries.

Or my parents and Tim, who met me multiple places around the course, taking photos and then driving me home because I couldn't.

Or Rachael, who couldn't make it, but had a beautiful fruit basket (with chocolate ... that kid knows me too well) delivered to my house. Seriously made me cry.
I got up at 4:45, ate and drove the half hour to St. Charles. Parking was easy, plentiful and free. You have to love local races, for that and things like this:

I took some photos with the Chicago Running Bloggers, too.

The race was a wave start, so I lined up with the four-hour group. I was so optimistic, but in my heart, I knew I wouldn't make it.

Early on, I was pretty happy
Things were fine, until I had to go to the bathroom just after mile nine. I lost my pace group, and kind of lost my groove. I struggled. I ran when I could, and I walked when I had to. I took a shot blok every other mile starting mile five, swapping that out for a chocolate gel at 11ish and a 20 something.

I felt a pop in my left calf around mile 18, which felt ominous. It started to hurt.  It felt tight. I felt spent.  I wondered why I signed up for this, why I wanted to do this.  I don't even know what compelled me to keep going, other than MacKenna telling me I was close, and my dad saying there was no turning back, or Tim and my mom waving at me, or Kim telling me I looked strong.

I had to take a second bathroom break somewhere in there too, which annoyed me even more.  By the time I got into the 20s, I was so ready to be done.

Less happy, but faking it
Turning onto the street with the finish line was amazing. There were tons of people yelling my name (I'm not sure how they knew it, the bibs were a bit tiny) and it pushed me to the finish.

As soon as I finished, I got a medal, someone took my recyclable timing chip and I promptly started crying. My legs and feet hurt so bad. And I was emotional in general.  I gathered my stuff with my dad's help, got my timing sheet and collected some food. I wasn't a big fan of the food - only one type of bagel, no fruit and no protein shakes.  Just water, gatorade, bags of chips and cookies and soda. I couldn't stomach it.

The volunteer support at this race is unreal - there are so many people out there helping, cheering and passing out stuff.

My time was 4:30:58, which is funny, because I told Tim last night that if it was 11:30 and he hadn't seen me, something was wrong.

My splits say it all: I was doing well for the first five, started to fade by the half and really started to suck it by the last 3.7 miles.  My overall pace was 10:20.

Cost: I think $95, I registered in January

Time: 4:30:41

Pros: Free and easy parking, great volunteer/crowd support, lots of places to watch the race from, supportive vendors, nice medal, personalized bibs, nice shirt, shaded course

Cons: Tiny bib (so people couldn't see your name), not a great variety of post-race food, I was lead to believe there was beer at the finish ... you had to go to a local bar to cash in

Would I do it again: Once this pain subsides, perhaps. It was a great race.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ready to Rock

I booked it to the race expo tonight and got myself organized for Sunday.  All that's left to do is lay out my outfit and nutrition, hydrate, foam roll and pack my post-race bag with essentials.
It's been a weird day. I was sitting in someone's office and they mentioned about how the ventilation wasn't working, and I immediately started to get hot and flushed. I still have a headache and sinus pressure. I hope I'm not getting sick, because I didn't train for four months to wimp out with a cold now.
The swag for the race is pretty nice. I'm not a fan of the shirt color, but it does fit really well. At least people will be able to see me coming ...

I also confirmed the types of fuel available on the course. I was tempted to ask the guy how many of the people actually complete the marathon, but I decided I didn't want to know.
Instead, I got some sweet encouragement from friends.
Kim is running her first 50k tomorrow. The day we ran my 20 miler together, she completed a full marathon that day in the name of training.  That's a hardcore athlete for you.

Here's the 2012 Fox Valley Marathon by the numbers.

26.2: The distance I'm going to cover.
4: The number of hours I'd like to complete the distance in.
9:09: The average pace per mile I have to maintain to meet this goal
21: The percent of marathoners who qualify for the Boston Marathon (which reminds me, good luck to Charlyn as she looks to punch her ticket to Boston).
2,920: The number of runners registered
39: The states from which the runners hail
1: The number of beer tickets attached to my race bib.  Are you a pregnant runner who would like to make a donation to a deserving runner? Because I accept donations.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1. I vacillate between visualizing the marathon and pretending it's not happening this weekend.  The weather today would be perfect for a marathon, but it doesn't look like it's going to hold.  It's supposed to be 80 degrees and sunny, so maybe that's why I'm trying not to think about the 26+ miles I'll have to cover this weekend.

2. I haven't decided my race strategy. Initially, I wanted to complete a four-hour marathon, but I haven't been able to execute a decent pace run in a long time. I'm going to blame that on the heat, but I don't know if I'll be able to maintain a 9:09 pace for the entirety of the race. According to the McMillan Calculator and my latest half time, I should be able to finish in 4:04.
Made by Jenny's kiddos
3. At least I have an outfit picked out. I'm going to wear what I've been wearing all summer, which is the exact outfit I'm wearing in this photo (taken by Bob Miller at the Heatbreaker Indoor Half).