Kelly the Culinarian: May 2014

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Preview Party at Craft Pizza Chicago

I really love being a blogger. It opens to door to so many cool, unique opportunities that I'm lucky to participate in. I got an invite to visit Craft Pizza Chicago tonight in advance of their grand opening through my membership with the Chicago Food Bloggers. While the food was free, the opinions are my own, as always.

We rolled into the Wicker Park eatery tonight and met with the chef and owner, Scott. He told us about the menu and his approach. This is his second pizza venture and features a menu packed with his favorite custom pies from around the country, all with a gourmet and local twist. When the joint opens next week, it will feature bagels and high-end coffee from Sparrow Coffee.
Scott told us about his favorite pies and then took to the kitchen to start rolling them out.
 I was really psyched to get to tasting, especially this little number. One of my favorite books as a pizza? Yes, please.

And eat we did. All the pizzas. The devil in the white city, the white truffle pie.
 And my favorite, the amore, which was a standard cheese, basil and red sauce pizza with your choice of meat. The crust was crackly and chewy, and the red sauce was a great balance of sweet and acid.

 Thanks again, Craft Pizza, for a wonderful evening! Good luck on your grand opening June 3.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Open Water Ready

I'd like to think I'm a decent swimmer. If I was thrown into the ocean, I would fare better than Jack on the Titanic. However, I swim alone, for the most part, in a heated indoor pool at a health club. That all doesn't really count when it comes to triathlon.

For the uninitiated, triathlon swimming is a whole other ballgame. There are elbows and knees and grabs and pulls and rolls. It's filled with thrashing so severe my mother won't come down to the beach for a mass swim start.

Since most of my laps are logged in a pool, I met up with TriRight last night to make sure I still have the chops for triathlon swimming in preparation of Esprit de She, which is June 8. There's still time to register using code EDS16.

We hit Centennial Beach, which is a bit like a giant unfiltered pool. It's cold enough for a wetsuit, which I donned before ever trying out the water. Spoiler alert: wetsuit legal is still pretty hot. I stripped off the wetsuit after the warmup and decided I'd be faster in transition and swimming without it.
Honestly, this practice made me feel like a badass. Other than a bit of calf cramping, I rocked it. We practiced the mass start, drafting and sighting, all of which I don't get in the pool. Some parts were difficult, no doubt, but my wetsuit still fit this season, I didn't feel like I was dying and the drafting seemed to come a bit easier, too.

I am not a swimmer. I can tread water and all, but this practice made me feel ready to kill it next weekend. If you're unsure about your open water ability, I highly suggest setting aside Wednesday night to meet up with TriRight at Centennial Beach. It's only $3 to get into the pool and the practice with other swimmers is invaluable. I wish I could make it out there next week for another session of defensive swimming and triathlon strategy!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Three Things Thursday

1. It's time to dust off the wetsuit. I haven't worn it or my triathlon gear since last season (hope it still fits!) and need to get in some open water practice before the Esprit de She Triathlon in Naperville June 8. I'm heading to a practice at the swim venue tonight to get my sea legs (because "big ol' unfiltered pool legs" doesn't sound as nice). There's still time to register for the race using code EDS16.
Gull Lake Olympic Triathlon
2. When Mandy and I went to Katie's graduation, I left Napoleon with her boyfriend for the night. He and my sister's Pomeranian have reached an uneasy truce, which doesn't extend to my sister's boyfriend. In addition to biting my sister's boyfriend, his antics were questionable at best.
3. After Sunday's marathon triumph, I did not get my traditional post-race froyo. Because when in Vermont, you eat Ben and Jerry's (duh). Carissa, Amber (and her mom!) and Mary and I made the pilgrimage and filled up. I got this marathon special they had in a waffle cone. It was good, but I would have preferred froyo. Oh well, live and learn.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Why I Wear Compression for Travel

I'm not a doctor. I don't even play one on TV. These are my opinions based solely on my experiences and opinions, of course.

Last week I wrote a post about what I was packing in preparation for my marathon in Vermont with #CabotFit. I received a ton of feedback about what I was missing and should include, as well as several questions about my compression gear.

Compression gear is a bit of a flashpoint in the running community. Some people swear by it; others proclaim it's voodoo magic. Whether it aids athletic performance, I have no idea. I don't actually wear compression sleeves, socks, shorts, tights or tops for races. I do use compression gear after particularly trying runs and races, as well as for traveling.

Here's my reasoning: after long runs, everything feels a little out of whack. I don't know if it's just me, but my hips and legs particularly feel like they're slack. Sleeping/working in compression sucks everything in and gives my a bit of support as my muscles struggle to repair.
Fresh to death baby

As far as traveling, endurance athletes are predisposed to blood clots because of the dehydration caused by the event, coupled with sitting for a long time on a pressurized plane. Because I'm sore to being with, I feel like compression gear allows me to double dip: it aids my recovery and potentially staves off blood clots on a plane or long car ride.
Compression: The Mom Jeans
of running gear

That said, I make it a point to get up and moving while traveling after a race. I'm typically hydrating like it's my job after races and taking full advantage of my preferred aisle seat while traveling. Even so, on long flights or trips, I set a timer and make it a priority to get up every 30 minutes to stretch and walk. On a plane, I'll do heel raises and do circles with my feet to stretch out my ankles. On long car rides, I'll stop to go to the bathroom, fill up the car or get a drink regularly.

Also, I have no shame in admitting my post-race apparel is determined by what accommodates my compression gear. I usually wear compression shorts and socks because they're easier to get into than compression tights (and I'm cheap and compression tights are like $60). During the winter, it's easy to hide this gear with a dress, leggings and boots. Summertime, I just don't car, I'll be the fashion faux paux sport compression socks and Toms. There's no room for shame in a marathon PR.

Monday, May 26, 2014

2014 Vermont City Marathon Race Report

"I'm running how fast to the finish?!"
Six word recap: #Ironbitch feels awesome posting 25-minute PR.

Much like my last marathon race report, I have to start this with gratitude. I am so very thankful for this opportunity to run the Vermont City Marathon on behalf of Cabot Fit Team. It was the trip of a lifetime. A big thank you to all the people who trained me to get to the start line, as well as Katie for her insights on the course and Carissa for helping calm my nerves and starting the race with me.

So at Circular Logic, I knew I was cooked in the sixth mile. Something just wasn't right and I didn't know how to recover and get back on track. In Vermont, I knew at mile two it was going to be my day. The stars were aligning. My stomach was settled, I was rest, my legs were firing and my head was in it. It was going to be the perfect day. And it was - I had the race of my life in Burlington.

Backing up, I roused at 5 a.m. and had a bagel, peanut butter, banana and salt, with three cups of water and coffee with sugar.

I donned my Cabot apparel and headed downstairs for a photo opp with the lovely ladies of the Cabot Fit Team.

Carissa and I started the race together and spent 40 minutes anxiously awaiting the start. We joined the four-hour pace group and got ready to settle in.

I was literally two miles in when I started to pull away from the pace group. It felt super slow and I had to remind myself I had a long way to go.

But I wanted to go.

I hit the 10K timing mat feeling strong, and was feeling equally psyched at the half mark. I felt like I just kept gaining steam and had to remind myself to slow down. It was hot, and it's a hell of a lot more hilly here than it is at home. There was a massive hill at 16 and a series of smaller rolling hills, which certainly left me winded. Otherwise, I didn't feel hopelessly out of breath or excessive sweaty. I didn't listen to music, I didn't talk to anyone. I just hammered it out.

Nutrition wise, I took a GU at eight, 16 and 21, along with an orange slice, watermelon and a popsicle. I took water at every given opportunity and gatorade a few times for good measure. However, I did not stop. I was relentless - no walking, no bathroom breaks, no "take a breather that was a terrible hill I want to die" moments. This was the first marathon that did not include a moment of walking.
Hauling up the hill

There were moments of doubt, though. While I felt great crossing the 20-mile mat, I wanted to walk when I hit 22. But who walks at 22 when nothing really hurts? I took a popsicle from a kid at that point and it turned my day around. At 23, I knew I'd make it in under four hours. I contemplated if I could catch up to the 3:45 group and mentally wrote my victorious blog post in my mind.

I saw the rest of the Cabot Fit team right around the 26-mile mark, then headed to the finish line absolutely incredulous to what I just did. Sub four was within grasp. Sub 3:50? Who knew. It's amazing what your body will do when your mind tells it to go. I grabbed a banana, a soy chocolate milk, a bottle of water and a space blanket, then set out to find my team. When I stopped moving, I really started hobbling and feeling the effects of what I just did. After I retrieved my protein shake and phone from the team, I hit the massage tent for a lovely post-race work over, along with the very well-stocked food tent. They had pizza, tortilla chips, granola bars and all manner of fruit. Post race, I had a Recoverite shake with soy chocolate milk, a slice of pizza, tortilla chips, a banana and a granola bar.

Amazingly, my stomach felt fine. I have no idea what happened this race that I haven't done before, but everything clicked. This also happened to be a great race that had it all - beautiful vistas, a spectator-friendly course (you pass through downtown five times), a mentally interesting course and an entire town rallying behind this race. There were funny signs, drag queens, sprinklers, homegrown aid stations and support every where you turned. This was the first race in which my family wasn't somewhere in the crowd and I felt OK with it because of the amazing support of my team and the town of Burlington.

I've officially taken 41 minutes off of my marathon PR this training cycle. I've never been this fast, ever, and I'm feeling great, too. I'm a little sore, a little sunburned and a little chafed today, but I'm ready to get back at it again tomorrow. Next year, I want to come back and Boston Qualify. When you cut 25 minutes off in two months, shaving off another 14 in a year seems feasible.

BQ, I'm coming for you.

Time: 3:49:41

Cost: Free to me (Thanks, Cabot!), $90-$125 regularly

Pros: Amazing crowd support, nice post-race shirt, shiny medal, really bustling post-race party, lots of on-course entertainment

Cons: Hills hills and more hills (we don't have any in Illinois),

Would I do this race again? Sign me up now, I'm in. BQ or bust.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Killed it at the Vermont City Marathon

More to come tomorrow, but I basically had the best race of my life, shaving a whopping 25 minutes off of my current marathon PR. I came, I saw, I conquered.

And now, I celebrate.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Good Luck Kiss for the Vermont Marathon

Whoa, how did it suddenly become one day out from my marathon? It feels like forever ago I was dancing around at home like an idiot because I was so excited I made the cut for the Cabot Fit Team. And now, I'm reveling in the most amazing day I enjoyed in Vermont as a lead up to the Vermont City Marathon. I started the day with a slow jog with Deanna and Carissa (three miles at a 9:57 pace to shake out our legs).
Vermont City Marathon
I got myself looking Blogger Fresh (because I knew there'd be no less than 400 photos of myself taken this today) and took to my plaid-clad swagger wagon chariot. I love my Extra Sharp shirt, which I also donned for the Lincoln Park St. Paddy's Day 5K this spring.
Cabot Creamery Coop
Our first stop for the day was Percy Farms in Stowe, Vermont, where we learned all about raising and milking cows, along with the process of collecting, storing and transporting milk. This place had the most amazingly lush view.
Stowe Vermont
My main objective for this trip (beyond running a marathon), was to pet a cow. The cows had other plans. I got up close and personal with a Cabot cow who wanted to give me a good-luck kiss for the marathon tomorrow. I'll take anything I can get at this point.
The outtakes:

We also got to meet some freshly born calves and their moms.
 We also stopped at the Von Trapp Family Lodge for a little photo op with the team. I'm very glad I brought my Blogger Fresh to this day's activities.
We had a lovely lunch at Cold Hollow Cider Mill, too. An apple cider donut is just the kind of carbs I need pre-race, right? Along with this apple, bacon and cheddar panini (I hope I don't regret my decisions later, but that donut was worth it).
Of course, we had to stop at the Cabot Annex, which was basically a cheese lover's haven. It was a collection of every Cabot product you could ever want with a tasting bar and fantastic Vermont products thrown in for variety. I got kind of jealous of Vermonters walking around that store because we can't get nearly the selection of Cabot products back at home. Whipped cream? Butterscotch pudding? Cottage cheese? I'll fill out the paperwork to move here now, thanks.
While I would have loved to explore downtown Burlington and get my shopping and eating on, I forced myself to spend the afternoon in my hotel room chilling out, napping and thinking about the race. Tomorrow, I'm taking a second attempt at a sub-four marathon. 

At Circular Logic, I could feel in the sixth mile it wasn't going to be my day. Tomorrow, I won't have that feeling. It's going to be a perfect day, weather and stomach wise. I'm starting the race with Carissa, who will be running a 1:55 half. I'll continue on with the four-hour pace group until the 20-mile mark. At that time, I'll take off if I can muster it. Kristina and I are the only ones running the full marathon, so my motivation is to get to the finish line because they'll be waiting on me. 

Oh, and Heady Topper and maple creemees. My plan is to walk from the finish line to get my creemee, then enjoy it and a beverage with my legs propped up and iced, staring at Lake Champlain from the hotel terrace. Track me live tomorrow, or follow me on Twitter for updates.

Otherwise, see you on the other side of 26.2 miles.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Welcome to Vermont!

With my safely packed bags I started the day very early in Chicago, leaving from O'Hare on the world's tiniest plane ever. One day, this thing hopes to grow up to be a plane. It had two seats on one side and a single seat on the other. There was a single flight attendant and they took my fancy Cabot tote from me at the gate because the overhead bins were miniscule, I was more than a little concerned.

Two mercifully short hours later, I landed in Vermont. It is breathtakingly gorgeous here! Regan of Cabot retrieved me from the airport and delivered to me to my hotel room without incident. Check out the view in this place!

Next up, a casual lunch downtown with the other bloggers on Cabot Fit Team. These sweet potato fries are the stuff of legends. I think the cinnamon sugar crust really pushed it over the top.
Me, Marlow, Regan and Deanna

Next up, trying on all my new swag from Cabot! I am so in awe that I was selected for this opportunity and am feeling so very spoiled by the fine farmers and employees of Cabot. 
I look like a legit running blogger now (key word: look).

I used a little downtime to take a three-mile run around downtown Burlington. Our hotel is across the street from the start line, so I ran through the finish on my super speedy run. I don't know why I decided to run fast, but I was done almost exactly 24 minutes later.

I got myself reassembled for dinner and cheese grading at the South End Kitchen, which is a cool space created by Lake Champlain Chocolates. More on this later, but suffice it to say, I may have had a piece of cheese. Or 20.
with Robin