Kelly the Culinarian: June 2014

Monday, June 30, 2014

On Selling my Car

It's been more than a week since I said farewell to my car, the triathlon wagon. It's weird to feel sad about selling a car. It's just a thing, and a thing I wasn't that fond of to begin with. Truth me told, I hate driving. I'm bad at it, it makes me nervous and it gets me into trouble.
Arizona accident. Damn you, monsoon season!
Still. I was initially so excited to be carless. Seattle is very public transportation friendly and a huge contingent of the population commutes via bike. Plus, I'm working from home, so I have no need to trek anywhere daily. However, a car, even one I have a love-hate relationship with, is freedom. Plus, it's memories. I've had my 2003 Honda Element since college.

It's the car I took my roommates out to the bar in while I stayed home and studied for the GRE. It's the car I drove back and forth to Arizona.
Arizona bound, summer 2007
It's the car I used to move all my stuff into my first home.

It's the car that took me to my first job and all over McHenry County as a reporter. It's the accommodating car that's taken all my gear all over this green earth for races and parties and weddings and interviews.
3 Disciplines Festival of Races 70.3

Going to Gull Lake Triathlon

So here's to shedding the past, and to new beginnings. It's been real, triathlon wagon. Farewell.
Bye bye bluejay 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Happy Graduation Day, Tim!

Wow, what a ride this has been. Tim was accepted into Northwestern's MBA program in the winter of 2011 and started there in 2012. Yesterday, we celebrate the end of a long journey to his degree. It's pretty fitting - he attended my high school graduation in the same place in 2003, so it feels very full circle.
I'm so very proud of what Tim's accomplished and how much he's worked for this moment. Years of studying, sacrifice, toil and teamwork culminated in this single moment.
And now, it's in black and white for all to see.
Great work, dear! I am so very proud of you.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Three Things Thursday

1. Last night was Tim's graduation gala. It was at the same place as Wine Riot and approximately 1,482 times fancier than our wedding. In some ways it feels like just yesterday Tim was accepted into Kellogg. It's been a long road and I'm so proud of his accomplishment.

2. I had to be downtown super early yesterday for a meeting, which meant I missed all the chaos of having a moving crew pack up all our belongings and load them onto a Seattle-bound truck. Instead, I rolled home post-gala last night to the emptiest, saddest house ever. I heard an echo this morning when I set down my glass of water this morning.

3. I always find the search terms leading to my blog amusing, but this week has been a real gem. I feel like there are a lot of disappointed people who arrive at my blog based on these terms.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Happy birthday, furchild!

Yep, I'm that kind of crazy. Napoleon is six this week! Two more years and he'll be a senior citizen doggy. I have no doubt he'll continue to be 50 different types of ridiculous for the next decade-plus, though.
So happy birthday to my favorite medal model.
Furry carry on luggage item
Blanket hog
 Fellow selfie taker
 Little explorer
 Silent coworker who doesn't pull his weight and wants to be rewarded constantly
 And passionate banana lover.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Training Tuesday: Crunch Time

Making sheer panic look good
I am mere hours from being bikeless - 24 hours from now, every item I own in life will be packed onto a Seattle-bound truck. Every memory, every possession, every keepsake. Both bikes, my wetsuit, the majority of my running gear.

Panicville: population me.

Travel safe, Suzie
I'm using training as a bit of a coping mechanism, I know this. Which is probably for the best, since I am way, way behind in Ironman training. Like I can't even look at the training plan without feeling like I'm standing on the beach as high tide rolls in. I also haven't weighed myself in a month because I know there's only so much I can deal with at one point in time.

So instead, I bike while I still can. I got new pedals on both Belle the road bike and Suzie Slice over the weekend and was eager to test them on the open road. I did 92 on Sunday, nearly 30 with Alyssa last night and another solid hour-plus ride on the trainer this morning. Because tomorrow is D-day.

So help me if my bike arrives scratched, dented or otherwise less than pristine. We've got many hours of bonding time left, and I'd like Suzie to remain in prime condition.

I'm retaining my swim gear and enough running stuff to keep that all going. I'm sure I'm forgetting something and this move will throw me for a loop, but my tentative plan is to swim and run as much as possible (doubles daily). We arrive in Seattle July 1, and I've already found a pool that I intend to join immediately. 
More of this, please
Hit the ground running, if you will, then await my joyous reunion with Suzie and log a real century the weekend she gets to the Pacific Northwest.

In the meantime, send me positive moving vibes. I'll take any advice I can get at this point.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Thoughts on my Solo Almost Century

I sometimes forget I'm training for a Ironman and have less than three months until I try to tackle 140.6 miles in Wisconsin. Maybe it's a selective memory? Or self preservation? Either way, I already feel behind on training and the fact that a moving company is taking Suzie Slice away from me in three days is weighing heavily on my mind.

So this morning, I woke up at the ungodly hour of 4:30 a.m. and set out for my own personal century ride. I had no plan, just to get on my bike and do what I could. Some parts were easy, some parts were terrible, but I did log 92 miles before lunch and barely have any scars from the experience.
Here are some thoughts from more than five hours by my lonesome: 

I really like the Moxie jersey I got at the Esprit de She triathlon. It's quite flattering, it didn't ride up and the pockets were accommodating.

Wind is the worst thing ever. At mile 42, if I had someone to call, I would have, the wind was that bad.

Reese's Pieces are the best treat ever. Turned my day around, no doubt. I was sitting on a curb, contemplating how I would get home through the mind-numbing wind when I wandered into a 7-11. I bought the treat and it made all the difference.

Salt is ah-mazing. I can't even express how much I love salt after a hard workout.

Thank goodness for the gas station attendants who chose to ignore the $5 minimum credit card charge because it's impossible to carry all the water you need for a 5+ hour workout, but I can't carry $5 of water.

Ditto on food. I ate: a banana, a nut bar, a fiber bar, a gu, a king-sized bag of Reese's pieces and a bottle of powerade zero. Then devoured a giant lunch and two vats of Diet Pepsi in the process. Still hungry ...

This is a long time to be alone with your thoughts. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Cooking with Kelly: Surprise Inside Salted Caramel Nutella Cookie Recipe

My days at home are numbered - my impending move to Seattle is barreling down on me like a freight train. The As such, I have a lot of specialty baking items to clear out. And letting high-end cocoa powder, fancy sea salt and nutella go to waste is a sin. It's a commandment, I know it.

So I set out to use up some of this stuff in the best way possible. I had some caramels to use up, too, so looked at a way I could pull a few ingredients together in the most decadent, delicious way possible. These cookies turned out amazingly well - they're a lot of work, but the end result makes it quite worth while.

To make these cookies work, you start with a fairly decadent chocolate dough, then nestle pieces of caramel, a sprinkle of course sea salt and a dollop of nutella in between layers of the dough. Then, pinch the layers together to seal the tasty goodness into it and top with a dusting of sea salt.

These cookies, like most cookies, are
best served warm. It keeps the caramel and nutella inside molten and melty, which is the best combination ever, in my opinion. However, you can freeze the dough and bake them in batches so you don't have 30 delicious nutella/caramel stuffed cookies sitting around tempting you at every turn. Just sayin'.

Surprise Inside Salted Caramel Nutella Cookie Recipe
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 large chocolate bar, chopped
Sea salt
Soft caramels

Melt the butter over medium high heat, then remove from the heat and add the sugar and cocoa powder until combined. Whisk the eggs together, then stir into the sugar combination. Whisk the dry ingredients together and dump the butter mixture in along with the chopped chocolate. Stir until everything is just combined.

Chill the dough for an hour to make it easier to work with. Using a small scoop, start with a tablespoon of dough. Use your thumb to make an indent, then add a teaspoon or so of nutella, a sprinkle of sea salt and a chunk of caramel. Top with another flattened tablespoon of dough, pinching the edges to seal. Top with more salt and get ready to rock by either freezing the cookies or placing six on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for nine minutes at 350 degrees, then consume ASAP. Or sooner.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Three Things Thursday

1. Napoleon is better prepared for our impending move to Seattle than I am. Tim bought him the biggest carrier that's allowed on our flight and we've been coaxing him into it every day. It turns out he's taken a liking to the very small space. So that makes one of us who's ready to move across the country ... in a week.

2. That's right, the movers are showing up at our humble abode on Wednesday. Less than one week away. Wednesday. Ask me what I've packed up ...
I packed more for a weekend in Vermont
 than I have for moving to Seattle
3. Now that moving is barreling at me like a freight train, I'm starting to get weirdly sentimental about the most random stuff. I was downtown for a meeting over the weekend and wondered, is this the last time I'll walk along the riverfront? Will this be my last workout at CrossFit Rise? My last chance to order deep dish? I'm already getting nostalgic about something that hasn't happened yet.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Training Tuesday: Hi There, Anxiety

You know what they say about making plans and the best plans and all those cliches.
Director Kelly has a nice ring to it
What I couldn't know when I signed up for Ironman Wisconsin last September could fill a book. I did not know:

I'm less than three months away from the biggest challenge of my (highly sheltered, I'll admit) life, and I'm feeling a rising panic. Sure, I've PRed the marathon and felt great on my 75-mile bike brick workout, but I lagged in the swim at this weekend's Esprit de She Triathlon and should have done better at the bike. Before I leave Chicago, I'd like to:
This will be a challenge as the movers will take Suzie Slice away from me next Wednesday. That's right, folks, it's getting real in my house. Change is coming like a freight train, so hold on tight. It's about to get crazy.

Monday, June 9, 2014

2014 Esprit de She Naperville Triathlon Race Recap

Note: If you're registering for the 2015 tri on June 14, use code EDS023

Six-word recap: Last place in first elite race.

The disclosure: Esprit de She provided me with my entry for free as an ambassador. My opinions can't be bought, so this is all me. I did the Esprit de She 5K last year and was itching to do the tri, so I'm glad I could check this off of my bucket list before I move.

The full story: I got up at an ungodly hour to pack up, suit up and sunscreen the hell out of myself. The drive and parking in Naperville was uneventful, and I picked up my packet without incident. Then, the intimidation began. You see, the Esprit de She Naperville Triathlon is my first and only race starting in the elite wave. I racked Suzie Slice next to some bikes that are worth many times my car, and don't even get me started on the helmets, glasses and accessories (I still rock a Wal-Mart helmet and $6 Amazon sports glasses).

I had a quick practice swim, which confirmed my decision to go this without a wetsuit. The water was 76 and balmy, and I felt great.

I only started to get weirded out waiting to start. Of the 12 or so elites, I was the only one without a wetsuit. I own a wetsuit, but thought I'd do better without it. Maybe I did, maybe I didn't, who knows. All I can confirm is that when the gun went off, the elites pulled away from me like I had cooties and never looked back. I couldn't catch up and I was the last elite out of the water, a trend that would repeat itself through the day.

I trotted to the very first rack from the bike out exit and hopped on, realizing I was the last bike out. I wanted to catch up but didn't have the capacity to do so. The bike was a two-loop course and the second loop was so much better because ladies from subsequent waves started to filter in, giving me someone to chase and interact with.

I had a hard time with the bike. I never really got comfortable and found a gear that worked. It was either too easy or too hard. When I finally made it back to my second transition, I was again the last person out. Last elite is still not horrific, except when I hit the run, I was the only soul out there. I'm not exaggerating even a little to say that I did not encounter another athlete on the 3.1-mile course. I only saw a single spectator, too, that I asked if I was going in the right direction. It was desolate.

In the last mile, I started to weave into downtown Naperville. It was marked as a race course, but there were casual morning runners on the path, as well as spectators. I found myself yelling "on your left" and elbowing through people more than once, wasting energy and turning on my kick sooner than needed. When I finally hit the finish line, I was alone and totally spent.

A great benefit of being the slowest elite, however, is that the post-race party was a party for one. I perused, I snacked and I shopped. This race really ranks up there in terms of swaggerific-ness. In addition to the sweetest tri top ever (thank you, Moxie!), we got a baller medal and a bag full of products and sample. There were also snacks galore in the post-race party and all sorts of activities and giveaways. I stayed for a looooong time because there was so much to see and do.

In total, this race was awesome. It was a great course, great swag and a great post-race party. But I learned a lot this race. Don't push for the big leagues unless you're sure you can play in their sandbox.

Time: 1:20:24 (.5-mile swim, 13-mile bike and 5K run)

Pros: Nice course, open water swim with a pool benefit, swaggerific packet and post-race shin dig, pretty stellar medal, wave start to eliminate crowding, very friendly to the first-time triathlete

Cons: It can be a lonely course, spectators wander onto the run course, the transition was gigantic

Would I do this race again? Yes, please. It's a great event for first timers and pros alike (or wanna be pros like me)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Esprit de She: Came, Saw, Conquered

I'm still working on my race racap, but today was a great day. I came, I saw, I rocked it. Stay tuned for the full story!

Friday, June 6, 2014

16 Secrets for Your First Sprint Triathlon

My favorite tri suit
This weekend marks my first triathlon of this season. The Esprit de She triathlon in Naperville is a very approachable first race and will welcome enough newbies that first-timers get their own start wave. In thinking back to my first triathlon, there are so many things I wish I had known. I've also fielded a ton of questions via e-mail, Facebook and text. I pulled together my most helpful secrets and solutions that I've given this week.

1. Try a tri suit. It's easier to take one minute off of your transition time than it is your 5K time. A triathlon suit saves time in transition and is specifically designed to be worn throughout your day (Read more about saving on triathlon gear). 

2. Be strategic with racking your bike. If you get a choice, set up your transition near the "bike out" exit so you don't have to push your bike that far. Also, rack your bike in a low gear so you can ease into cycling.

My transition for Racine 70.3 Racine
3. Set it and leave it. Once you've unpacked and set up your transition area, stop fussing and put your bag away somewhere else to save space and keep away clutter. 

4. Spit in your goggles. This is how to prevent fogging.
Wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle, yeah

5. Pam yourself. If you're wearing a wetsuit, get a bottle of spray oil from the kitchen and grease up your arms and legs so you can get in and out easier.

6. Protect your neck. If you're wearing a wetsuit, use an anti-chafe stick on your neck or you will get a hickey. It's not cute. 

7. Follow the bubbles. Drafting on the swim is legal. Get in someone's slip stream and you'll save yourself about 20 percent of the effort. Plus, if you follow the bubbles, you don't have to sight as much in open water.

8. Stand up. When you start to scrape the sand on the swim, stand up and walk the rest of the way in.

9. Strip it. If you're wearing a wetsuit, stand up and put your goggles on your head as you walk. Unzip your wetsuit and get your arms out as you walk to transition, then wiggle the rest of the way out when you get to your spot.  

10. Bright n' bold. Use a bright towel for transition to make it easier to find. 

11. Mark your spot. If transition is on pavement, use chalk to find your spot easier. If it's on grass, get a giant helium balloon and tie it to your spot.

12. Head to toe. Put your bike stuff at the front of your towel and the run stuff at the back. Work head to toe to ensure you don't forget anything.  
Race belt FTW

13. Race belt. Can't stress this enough - a race belt is a no brainer for saving time in T2. 

14. Mount and dismount. There is a line outside of transition where you can get on your bike, as well as a line that you have to get off your bike before you re-rack it. Obey this or you might be disqualified.

15. Stay out of the yellow. Triathlons are sometimes on open or semi-closed roads. Oncoming cars might never see you on your bike, which is why crossing the yellow line might be the last bad decision you ever make. It will also get you tossed out of the event without question.

16. Pass quickly. Drafting on the bike is illegal. You have to stay two bike lengths away. If you decide to pass, announce "passing." The person you're passing is obligated to drop back, and you have 20 seconds to make the pass before it's considered drafting.