Kelly the Culinarian: March 2016

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. It looks like Napoleon and Marvel are getting more comfortable with each other. Or at least tolerating each other in closed quarters more. I'll take it as progress.

2. Speaking of progress, I'm now three weeks post op and managed to run three miles on the treadmill. I'm feeling pretty good, but I can't run very fast. I feel fortunate to be able to run at all.

3. I recently discovered Netflix has a few HGTV programs on it, most notably Fixer Upper. Not only does this show give me relationship goals, but now I totally think I can buy a foreclosure and luxuriate in a custom home in three months. Because it's that easy, right? I need to watch something else when I run.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Training Tuesday

He totally doesn't care about my athletic aspirations
So it begins. My official Ironman Wisconsin training cycle started Monday, according to my fancy training book. In preparation of this momentous event, I invested in a swim lesson to see where I could improve. On Saturday, the coach suggested I try to reach wider, keep my hands more level and not lift my head as much when breathing. It's a lot to think about, and right now is slowing my down as I think about trying to swim looking like I'm falling from the sky and only looking at the first foot of the pool up off the wall. It's hard. My shoulders are sore, but that's how I know it's working.

As hard as swimming is, it's easier than running right now. I've worked up to eight miles two and a half weeks post op, but my top speed is about 10 minute miles. I also had to walk at one point because the uphill was too much.

I will attempt marathon number seven on Saturday, my third-annual Circular Logic Marathon. I'm not sure I'll finish, but I'll damn well try.

I initially ran this marathon because it was the only relatively local option that fit into my Ironman training. It's a little later this year than last, but it still fits the bill. That means I'll be back to IMWI training next week, finish or DNF.

The way I'm approaching this year's training is that it's a long ass bike ride with a swim warm up and a run cool down. I'm looking at swimming as practice, tweaking my technique and increase my endurance. I know I can run a marathon, I've done that many times and I recently ran 20 miles on a treadmill without stopping, so I've got that all wrapped up. The bike is where I think I can make the most gains in terms of time and endurance.

I also started adding body weight exercises to my routine and was immediately reminded why I need more in my life. My lower half is embarrassingly sore from some lunges and squats and wall sits. You might be athletically inclined if your first reaction to soreness is, it's working!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Brunch at Seasons 52

Two of my favorite things have finally collided: Seasons 52 and drinking before noon. I mean brunch. Seasons 52 now serves brunch!

I managed to get downtown to try this fabulous mix of all my favorite foods and catch up with the lovely Alyssa over beverages and super tasty breakfast food. I started with coffee, because everything before noon should. But because it's brunch, I also got a white peach bellini, which was a magnificent choice.

Next up was appetizers. In my clear favorite of the day, Alyssa and I split the smoked salmon flatbread that featured all my favorite lox flavors, all on a crunchy crispy flatbread. It had capers, red onions and a sour cream drizzle. Next time I'll skip the main course and go straight to this, sans sharing.

For my entree, I chose the vegetable frittata, which came with a delightful side of sriracha hollandaise sauce and perfectly done asparagus. And I always love entrees that come with a side of both bacon and toast. Not just any white bread toast, either. Plus, the jam was homemade and raspberry. I didn't think I could polish off the whole, and yet, I did. It was a perfect, relatively healthy start to the day.

Which meant I totally earned this dessert, right? I love the shot glass desserts at Seasons 52 because they pack in tons of flavor without all the sugar, fat and calories. At the end of a satisfying meal, a few bites of decadence really go a long way. And more coffee!

Thanks to Seasons 52 for hosting me for this fabulous brunch!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. I had an awesome week working a hugely successful conference downtown. There were some really inspiring and insightful speakers (like a guy who creates crossword puzzles for the New York Times and this guy who left everyone in tears), but I really enjoyed a keynote about how LEGO saved its company from the brink of disaster. It went off the rails for a number of reasons, including trying to provide be the toy maker for everyone, including those who don't like construction toys. It saved itself by getting back to its roots and realizing that by putting constraints on innovation, like providing a limited number of pieces and colors and shapes, it inspired creativity. Like these ducks, which were built by attendees and are all slightly different.

2. I stayed downtown for the conference and was reminded why what I do matters. Working in social media, lots of people want to think anyone can do this job. I tweeted a photo of my room and tagged the hotel, and they sent me up a surprise batch of cookies as a thank you, in my favorite flavor, which I'm sure they learned from Twitter. Simple, yet deadly effective. Not only did I instagram and tweet a thank you, I told multiple people at the conference about it. This small act happened because of social media, cost them nothing and yielded all sorts of advertising you can't buy.

3. After all that, I had to engage in a little treat yoself when I finally got home after sitting in traffic for an hour. I love that my fervent tracking of this year's Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout yielded enough of this super rare brew that I can open one up to celebrate a job well-done whenever it strikes my fancy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

2 Week Post Bone Marrow Donation Report

Six-word recap: Basically normal but a bit tired.

I ran!
It's been exactly two weeks since I went under the knife to donate bone marrow. In some ways, it's like it never happened. It's incredible to me that in spite of undergoing a very invasive procedure, I have barely anything left to remind me it happened at all. My incisions look like bug bites or acne, and the bruising is almost gone. My only lingering symptom is I seem to be more sore than normal after runs, and I get tired earlier than I'd like (but that could also be because my work is having its annual meeting and I've been a busy bee).

I am pretty tired, though. It takes two weeks for all the stuff to grow back, but I'm thinking it's going to be another two before I feel like myself. My first few "workouts" were rough. Last week, I started with walking when I was beginning to feel antsy. My heart rate told me I wasn't back to black, though. Walking a not-even brisk 2.7 miles had me breaking out into a sweat, but day by day, I get better and the running does, too.

My first accomplishment was walking a 5K (took me about an hour). Then, I ran a very slow (10:26) mile and have never been happier. I was sweaty and my heart rate was well over 170 (my max heart rate is 199). So my plan for a few days was to run what I could, then bike for 30 minutes or 5 miles, depending on my schedule. First I got to 12 minutes of running, then 1.5 miles, then two miles.

Recover cookies
And yesterday, I ran my first post-op 5K. Outdoors! I'm at a conference for work and enjoyed the lakefront access. It was an awesome feeling to know I was back in the game.

I'm not sure what the Circular Logic Marathon holds for me, but I'm going to try it. My body is mostly healed, I did the important parts of the training and I've already book the hotel. Never mind how spent I feel at mile 22 without hollow bones and a massive reboot going on inside me. Might as well try.

As for the recipient, it's all going as well as can be expected. It's a wait and watch and see proposition. He's getting anti-rejection drugs and we're still another 10 days away from knowing if this transplant took. All anyone can do right now is send positive thoughts and hope for the best.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Motivation Monday

I've loved this video from Ironman Europe for a long time.

It also makes me hope the medal for this year's Ironman Wisconsin Triathlon will be better than 2014.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. Happy St. Patrick's Day! The leprechaun has already visited my house. Has he been to yours yet?

2. This shipment had perfect timing. I'm still recovering and have zero desire to cook, so I'm enjoying these prepared meals Perfect Fit Meals sent me. The shirt is really cute, too.

3. I walked a 5K on the treadmill yesterday and was able to go further and faster than earlier in the week, which boosted my spirits considerably. The bike is an interesting proposition - my heart rate skyrockets because my body is already working pretty hard to rebuild. Biking shorts also don't feel too great on my incisions. But, it's an effective way to get my sweat on without impact while my bones are healing. I'm thinking of biking again tonight because it was just what I needed to feel like I checked off the "working out" box.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Training Tuesday: Hollow Bones Edition

My post-transplant BFFs
There's a tear down/rehab project of epic proportions going on inside my body. Picture a 2-liter bottle of soda. I donated 3/4 of that during my bone marrow transplant less than a week ago. And I've got a marathon on the books in a month. This is almost as complicated as common core math, but the sum of all of these parts is I'm not quite sure if I'll be physically able to run a marathon on April 2.

In spite of undergoing an incredibly invasive procedure, I've never felt any pain and I basically feel like the same old me. I wake up with a headache every morning, but I think that's dehydration from the loss of fluids and my body working to rebuild. To that end, I tried to workout yesterday. It was abysmal. Just more than a week ago, I ran 20 miles on a treadmill for more than three hours. This week, walking at 3.4 MPH for 45 minutes was just about all I could handle. Nothing hurt, but the back of my legs felt sore and I guess the best way to describe myself was rickety. It's clear to me that my bones have been through a lot.

The closest I feel to an Ironman right now
I was told to avoid rigorous activity for a week or two to prevent the clots in my body from breaking up. But, because I'm young, healthy and active, I should listen to my body and exercise to my level of comfort. I was told not to swim until the incisions were scabbed over, which they are, but I've avoided the gym for almost a month so I didn't pick up some germ that would delay the transplant. Also, I'm damn tired and getting myself to the gym sounds daunting when I nearly passed out from the rigors of taking a shower a few days ago.

Another thing to consider is that my pelvis is hollow right now. My bones are particularly fragile because they were poked repeatedly during this procedure. While I feel great, my bones may not agree with the assessment.

I have until March 26 to decide if I can make it 26 one-mile loops at Circular Logic. I want to be able to do this race so bad, but I recognize there will always be another race. And Ironman Wisconsin is less than six months away, so I should take my rest while I can.

Choices, choices.

I ran 20 miles right before surgery because I knew it I wanted to do this race, I had to get one 20-miler in. So I know I have it in me. But what if that was the part of me that was removed in the transplant?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Motivation Monday

I haven't been able to run since my bone marrow donation procedure. This is certainly lifting my spirits:

I like the inspiring music, too. I hope to be like these happy doggies in a few days.

Friday, March 11, 2016

My Bone Marrow Donation Story

You have two important dates in life. The day you're born, and the day you find out why. March 9 will forever be the date I found my purpose as a bone marrow donor.

Right now, a liter and a half of my bone marrow is surging through the veins of another person, killing cancer-causing cells. If it wins, the recipient will be cured of cancer in 22 days, have my blood type and all my immunity, and maybe an interest in craft beer and distance running. Not sure on the last one, I'm not a doctor, but these are my personal thoughts on what it was like to donate bone marrow.

I've been on the National Bone Marrow Registry for about 10 years. I joined when I was working as a reporter and wrote multiple stories about an infant who was born with leukemia. Because she was biracial, they said she would have a hard time finding a donor when the time came. I've never been called. I donated to a relative, so this happened outside the registry. It started with blood tests in October, then again in January. Much like all medical procedures, it's hurry up and wait. When you get the testing kit in the mail, you have to complete it within a week and it gets over nighted back to the hospital. Then you hear nothing for weeks. It's the nature of the beast.

At the end of January, I learned I was a match and was asked to travel to Baltimore in February for extensive testing. The patient was at Johns Hopkins, which is where most of my shenanigans took place. My initial screening included an EKG, chest X-rays, LOTS of blood work and a comprehensive physical. I happened to be sick the day I went for my screening, which meant I needed more blood work, a nasal swab and throat culture, and then another set of blood work a week later to ensure I was feeling better.

Yeah, all that blood is mine

Then, wait again. The procedure was initially scheduled for two weeks after my screening, but the recipient had a virus and it was pushed off for another two weeks. In the meantime, I had to get more X-rays at home because of my broken rib drama. They had to be sure it was a healing rib and not something in my lungs. All the bloodwork came back great. Turns out all that running really does make you damn healthy.

Surgical prep
With all systems go, it was a matter of logistics. I flew to Baltimore to have a day of pre-operative screenings and meetings where they make sure nothing has changed. I checked into a facility next to the hospital that was basically a very sterile dorm room with quick access to the facility if anything happened. The night before and the morning of the procedure, I had to use these medicated wipes to wipe myself down and kill anything that could cause infection. I couldn't eat or drink or even have a breath mint after midnight the night before, and I couldn't shower either.

So there are two types of donations. One is basically like donating plasma, where they removing the marrow from your blood. My marrow was extracted through surgical means from the back of my pelvis. This requires a series of small incisions, and then using a needle to extract the marrow multiple times through the same cuts. I chose to do this under general anesthesia, but there is an option to use local anesthesia and a sedative. Not to sound dramatic, but I never wanted the sounds or feeling of that to ever enter my brain. I regret nothing.
Waiting is the hardest part

The most painful part of the entire day was getting the IV in the back of my hand, then getting the first dose of propofol via that IV. After I was asleep, I got another IV in the other hand for emergencies, and that felt none too pleasant later on, either.

I was the first procedure of the day and it took took about three hours. I woke up in a recovery room feeling uncomfortable but not in pain. My butt was sore and my throat hurt from having a breathing tube. I immediately asked for water and if it was successful. They extracted 1400 CCs of marrow from me, or about one and a half IV bags. That all went to a lab where they spun off my red blood cells and filtered out any bone matter. I'm a different RH factor than the recipient, so they wanted to remove what they could that he would react to.

My procedure began at 7:30 a.m., the recipient started to receive my marrow via transfusion at 1 p.m., and I was discharged just after 3 p.m. It took so long because they had to replace the fluids that I lost via IV. I had to be able to sit up, then stand, as well as eat. I wasn't very hungry and it took hours before I felt like I had to pee (I was very dehydrated). I had to get help to walk to the bathroom, and when it was time to leave, I needed help getting dressed and a wheelchair to get discharged. I saw the recipient getting the last of my marrow before I went back to my room.
The end result - the cure. I made dis!

I was ridiculously pale and weak that afternoon. My mom came by the apartment to see me in the evening and was scared how pale I was. I also had to force myself to eat, and found myself shaking pretty aggressively as I came down off all the drugs. In this whole process, I've never been in pain, and only took one dose of pain meds when I was in the hospital. I'm managing fine on tylenol alone.

In terms of what this looks like, when I left the hospital, they bandaged me up pretty extensively and I couldn't see what I was dealing with. It looked liked I had two magic erasers taped to my love handles. The day after, I went back to the hospital to have it removed and cleaned and inspected. It looks a bit like a series of bee stings. I flew home last night and needed a wheelchair at the airport because I get sick to my stomach if I stand for too long.

Today, two days post op, I feel tired but fine. Taking my first shower this morning since Tuesday night zapped me of all my energy, and I'm realizing my townhouse has a daunting number of stairs. I'll be working from home for a few days until the idea of walking from my desk to the coffee pot doesn't sound insurmountable.

However, the inconvenience of this all is a very small sacrifice. If this is the treatment, thank god I don't have the disease. In the next month, a battle will rage on the cellular level within the recipient. If my bone marrow wins, he will go home in 60 days for the first time in eight months. They call the day of the transplant your second birthday because the recipient basically starts life again. And I would easily, in a heart beat, do this all over again to give these kids their dad back.

If you have questions about being a bone marrow donor, e-mail me. 10/10, would do again. I'll write about this again, so please let me know what questions you guys have.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. If you follow me on instagram, you've already heard about my very eventful week. More to come on the blog tomorrow.

2. As part of this week's adventure, I've had a delicious delve into cable television. I jumped right back into Dance Moms, which was fun since it's been years since I watched it. The moms are still crazy, Abby is still overbearing, but the dancers have changed so much. A fun distraction.

3. Panic much? Six months from now is Ironman Wisconsin. I hope I'll be ready!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Training Tuesday: How to Run 20 Miles on a Treadmill

Sometimes I doubt my own sanity. At mile 18.3 on a treadmill, I had that moment. I mean, who the hell runs for more than three hours on a treadmill? Clearly the unsettled.

It was plenty nice enough outside, but I had a lot going on this weekend and I didn't want to wander too far in case I got a phone call. I also didn't want to risk getting sick by being outdoors for that long. So to the treadmill I went.

And it wasn't so bad.

The key to this whole scheme was an endless supply of engaging television, strategically placed fans, plenty of hydration and a deadline looming. In addition to the open window and three fans, I think changing my sweatbands and rotating between water and gatorade got the job done. I had places to be in the afternoon and Helix to finish, so away I went.

Unlike the photo above, when I ran, I covered the screen with a towel so I couldn't tell how long I'd been at the game. I knew it would take me a little over three hours, so I clicked off in my head about how many episodes that would be. I was proud of myself - in spite of the boredom, I kept my pace the same throughout. I didn't need to walk, nor did I need a bathroom break. Good job, Ironbitch.

I wondered if this even legitimately counted towards training, since it's a treadmill, but when you're training for a race that is one-mile loops, I think this is sufficient. I felt just about the same when I finished this as I would any other 20 miler: tired, sore, hungry, cranky, chafed. I had a hard time getting up the stairs to my ice bath, but that would've been the case any where.

I do feel like I bounced back pretty easily, and I'm not sure if that was because of the treadmill, the fact that this isn't my first rodeo or that my post-run recovery meal was so very fetch.

Zombie burger. It was good, but needed more protein
So there you have it, I guess I'm marathon ready. Circular logic, here I come. I certainly have the mental strength of an Ironman once again.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Motivation Monday

I saw this on Amy Pohler's Smart Girls and had to share it. It's good to be reminded that you're a bad ass boss and when life doesn't go as planned, it's just a plot twist. Chin up, buttercup!

Happy Monday!

Friday, March 4, 2016

What I'm Missing from my Chevy Suburban Test Drive

I got really spoiled last week. I was enjoying riding around in the lap of luxury with my loaner Chevy Suburban and got way too used to all the fancy features. Now that it had to go back to the car fairy from whence it came and I'm rocking my older pick up truck, I'm realizing how convenient that giant seven-seater of an SUV really was. On my commute today, here are the top features and perks I'm missing:

Onboard wifi. This car has its own hot spot, which is great for working on the go and cutting down on my mobile data usage.

Temperature controlled seats AND a heated steering wheel. My fingers have never been happier. The front seats are heated and cooled, snd the captain's chairs in the back are heated too. Luxury all around.

Remote start. My car preheats and defrosts itself! It also has a push button start, so I don't have a key dangling at my knee while I drive.

Remote-controlled tailgate access. No more grocery store struggles.

Two on-board DVD players. So many happy passengers!

Recharge all the devices! There's a built in wireless charging pad along with all sorts of outlets hidden cleverly all about. There are six USB ports and six outlets with a total of 12 charging locations. As someone who works in social media, I get anxious when my iPhone battery or laptop dies. Never again in this beauty.

An amazing array of safety features. There's blind spot alerts in the mirrors, a back up camera and a vibrating seat that alerts you when you get too close to another object. It also has adaptive cruise control that automatically brakes when a crash is imminent.

I'm sure I'll adjust back to a life without cooled seats, but it will be a struggle. Thanks to Chevy for showing me a taste of the good life!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. There's a lot of my life I don't share online. For example, I have a minor in political science and have many deeply held beliefs and ideals. All I will say is, I don't know who did this:

I must warn you:

2. I was having a very pleasant evening last night and all of the sudden, I thought there were shots fired. This $28 Yankee Candle straight up exploded into a million pieces all over the counter. Anyone else have this happen? Funny, I've never had this happen with a dollar store candle.

3. We live in a pretty magical time. A time in which I can get a salad in a jar from a vending machine. And it's both fresh and delicious. What is this black magic?!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Training Tuesday: Feeling Fine

All necessary post 18 miles
Ah, another week in the books. And admittedly, I feel really good. I had a really pleasant 18-mile run Saturday that made me think I could actually cobble together a marathon in a few weeks. It wasn't fast, it was just the feeling that I could keep going. The weather was good and some kind folks at a landscape store let me refill my bottles so life was good.

I even commented the next day that I thought I could go for another run. I slept like a rock that night, and I'm guessing that's why I felt like a million bucks. I ran five miles on the treadmill Monday, then got my first massage in close to two years. It reminded me that I need more massages in my life. There's something very gratifying about working out knots that you put there from running and basically pushing yourself to the limit. It must have worked, because my eight-mile treadmill run today was basically a non-event. I yearn for the days when an eight-miler was no big deal. It will happen this summer, eventually.

Right now, I'm focused on getting to the start line of Circular Logic on April 2. After that, I'll ramp up the cycling drastically and see how quickly I can get to a century ride. I've long loved coordinated cycling and look forward to getting back on the road.

On to the next!