Kelly the Culinarian: April 2016

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. The main reason I blogged about my bone marrow donation was to share what people don't talk about: it's not scary, it's not debilitating and it's not painful. I'm ecstatic about how this has evolved. My worked hosted a bone marrow donor drive and gave me the opportunity to talk about my experience. So far, 21 people and signed up to donate through this effort. It makes my heart happy.

2. I had an awesome dinner last night at Carlucci's first Hashtag Party. They gave away a trip to Mexico to a random social user who used #Carlucci online. While I didn't win (sad face, someone has a honeymoon to plan!), I did fill up on some fantastic food. The roasted vegetables were awesome, but the rigatoni bolognese stole the show.

3. It's hard to believe with as cold and rainy as it is in Chicago right now, but spring is almost here. Most experts say that you should wait to plant your garden around Mother's Day, which is almost here. I've ordered plants and Cabot sent me a few more to consider for my square foot garden. I can't wait for all the summer salads!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Mom Said I Needed to Update My Blog ...

Because she needs something to read. So here's a little catch up of what I've been up to lately.
As you may have surmised from my Instagram feed, I was in the great state of Texas last weekend. My grandmother passed away and I traveled to be with my mom. I don't share much about my personal life so we'll leave it at that and instead look at how I spent my time with my mom. I feel like grief settles in your soul if you let it. We tried to get out of the house every day and get our steps in or garden or eat something special.

I took a special interest in cleaning the pool with my friend poomba, the pool roomba.

I had a wonderful wine tasting on a lovely hilltop of Texas Hill Country at Pilot Knob Vineyard. What It was a wonderful day and a great distraction. The weather was perfect and they sell kites for kids to fly in the empty field behind the tasting room. It was postcard perfect.

I finally got my nails done in a manner befitting my engagement ring. I got my toes done too, because I'm a runner and it's sandal season and I clearly need it.

We went on walks and to the gym and enjoyed lovely sunsets:

And learned about the geography of the United States:

So there you have it, where I've been for the past few days. I also trained daily, started wedding planning and worked on planning my next trip to Austin, so stay tuned.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. Now that I'm logging more laps to prepare for triathlon season, this makes me chuckle every time.

2. Napoleon got his summer trim and I must say the resemblance to Dobby is eerie. They must have been separated at birth.

3. I finally feel like I'm getting to my pre-bone marrow transplant running level. What is considered a comfortable speed for me is slowly increasing, and I'm feeling like it takes me less time to recover, too.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Our Wild Weekend in Verona

Where's Waldo/Kelly
Sort of. I mean, I stayed up until 9:45, so that's something. In honor of Brent's birthday and because it was in the 70s, we decided a quick trip to Madison to bike the Ironman Wisconsin course was in order. We drove up Friday and stayed with friends, then drove to Verona Saturday morning and started the loop around 10 a.m. The weather was amazing - warm, nice breeze, full sun. I even have tan lines to prove it.

On this trip, I think we cracked the code to rocking this loop. We did one loop Saturday with a quick transition, then stayed at a brand-new Holiday Inn in Verona, just one mile off the loop. This place was perfect for all our needs. It's pet friendly, it has a pool and hot tub, the rate was competitive, the breakfast was free and extensive and we could bike to the loop and get started at any time.
Suzie Slice is Aging Nice(ly)

The ride Saturday was uneventful and basically 42 miles of bliss. The roads are in fairly good condition for it being this early in the season. Stagecoach is still a bumpy mess that rattles my teeth, and Witte Road remains my favorite stretch of the course. My leggies were fine for the duration. It's basically like the bone marrow transplant never happened.

First brick: 3:16:06
After a super lame and terrible three-mile run around Verona, we chilled in the hot tub before donning our best summer apparel and walking over to Mr. Brews. We were promised a pub crawl to all the Mr. Brews locations via bus for a rate of $15. We were further promised a 7-ounce pour at each of these places from different Madison-area breweries.

It didn't quite work out that way.

At the first location, we wanted to get an early dinner since we'd worked out for 3 hours and skipped lunch in the process. We watched a bus come and go, and were told they come every 40 minutes. So we paid our bill and waited ... for two and a half hours. The bar gave us complimentary seven-ounce pours and a free tour at Ale Asylum while we waited, but still. We were not pleased.

Somehow, this is the only photo from that night
But once we got on the bus, the party was on a roll (pun intended). The key to enjoying this, and also completing the crawl before the 9 p.m. cut off, was to dash into the location to snag the sample and take it to go, then savor it while the bus waited to leave (10 minutes) and the drive to the next bar (10-15 minutes). In the end, we completed the crawl and had a blast. It was a good value, even if it was poorly coordinated. You gathered a check at each location in your tasting passport, and one person who completed the gauntlet will win a Trek bike. I'm feeling lucky, so we'll see.

Basically, this weekend was my perfect combo of travel, fitness, fun and friends. Cheers to loving life!

Friday, April 15, 2016

7 Secrets I Wish I Knew Before my Bone Marrow Donation

It's been 37 days since I donated bone marrow. As of today, the recipient has my DNA and blood type. It worked. My "young and aggressive" immune system is destroying cancer at this very moment.

As for me, I'm all healed up and have very little in the way of scars to remind me. I've since ran a marathon and started training for Ironman Wisconsin, so I would say it hasn't slowed me down significantly.

Since talking about my procedure, I've gotten a lot of questions via Twitter and e-mail, all of which I'm happy to discuss at length. It's my hope that in sharing my experience, it will prompt more people to sign up to join the bone marrow registry. Here's a few lessons learned:

1. You will NOT be in pain. The most uncomfortable part of the whole thing was the IV. That legit hurt, for a minute or two. I never took my painkillers. I was fine on Tylenol alone, and just a bit uncomfortable. I also had a hard time sleeping for a few days and took benadryl to counteract what they called the paradoxical affect of anesthesia.
The entirety of what I used post-op

2. The antiseptic wipes are unpleasant. Before the surgery, they give you two sets of antiseptic wipes. The night before, I showered, waited two hours and then wiped myself down as instructed. And I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I was itchy and sticky and smelly, and I had to repeat the whole thing the morning of the surgery. This is pretty standard for any surgery but it was annoying nonetheless.

3. Don't wear tops with thumb holes. I was going for comfy cute and that was a bad idea. I had IVs in both hands and zero desire to mess with what was going on there when I was ready to get discharged. They also get you dressed and ready to go, then take out the IVs in case they end up needing them again.

4. Plan not to shower. You can't shower the morning of the surgery, and then you can't shower until you've had your post-op appointment the next day. Brent helped me wash my hair and sponge off, but I wish I had brought dry shampoo just in case.

5. Eat soft foods. I chose general anesthesia, which meant I got a breathing tube. I had a sore throat when I woke up and swallow was a little painful, so I wish I had planned to eat way, way more ice cream.

6. It will take over your life for a little while. From the point I flew out to Baltimore for my first full-screening to the days immediately after the procedure, it occupied my thoughts significantly. Because I had a cold when I went for my first round of bloodwork, I was fairly consumed with the idea of getting better and staying well. I left early from the Auto Show and went to bed at 9 p.m. most nights for a month before the procedure. I stopped swimming at the gym because it's a germ-infested cesspool. A loved one was sick the week before and I didn't go visit because I couldn't risk torpedoing this procedure at the last minute.

"Smile like we don't have to be asleep in 30 minutes"

7. Then it will feel like it didn't happen at all. I have a few small marks to remind me this ever happened. I was working from home the next day. I was at a work conference a week and a half later.

Day 25: Marathon day
Day 14: Working hard
 Have questions? E-mail me.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1.  My quest for triathlon greatness continues. I'm now the proud co-owner of a pair of Zipps. More accurately, Brent bought used Zipps from eBay at a great deal and will let me use them for Esprit de She and the USAT Nationals. They look super slick on his bike:

2. In other triathlon-related news, this video is absolutely mesmerizing. Who knew you used all these muscles swimming? No wonder I find it exhausting.

3.  I need to know, are rompers a thing? I think I look cute, but also, they make this in the same size as what six-year-olds wear, so I'm not sure if I need to be reprising my school yard days all summer long. Tell me the truth, is there an age limit for these?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Training Tuesday

It's on! I'm now two weeks into my official Ironman Wisconsin training plan and feel pretty good. Even last week, it was strange to think how recently I completed a marathon. I just didn't feel that bad. In fact, I'm feeling pretty darn good about the first few weeks of Ironman training.

I've done a long trainer ride, a few shorter turbo spins and several sessions in the pool. I'm also finally running like before my bone marrow donation, albeit a little slower than before.
The biggest change I've made is I'm back at CrossFit! I'm starting with the intro classes again to make sure I haven't forgotten all the prudent safety stuff. It feels really good to have it in the mix again.

Up next, I'm going to Madison this weekend to bike the loop. It'll be a big jump up, distance and time wise, but the weather is supposed to be gorgeous. I don't want to waste a good afternoon. The plan calls for two to three hours of riding, so it's about even anyhow.

What I'm looking forward to is mornings that are brighter earlier, and weather that is a little more stable. I'd love to go for a five-mile run outside before work, or a quick 5K at lunch. But first, it needs to stop snowing in April and being dark outside well beyond my second cup of coffee.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. Thank you for all well-wishes and kind words on my big life announcement. I'm on cloud nine in the days after our perfect proposal, and relieved that I can talk about my life in a more holistic manner. I have a pretty kick ass life, and welcome to it.

Valentine's Day treats for my loves

2. It's kind of crazy to think I ran a marathon just a few days ago. I'm now exactly one month post-op from my bone marrow donation and think I'm finally back to normal. I ran five treadmill miles yesterday and felt like I could've done more. And yes, this is a set up to showcase the ring. Didn't he do a good job?

3. We watched this documentary about the Barkley Marathons last night and I was waiting for a punchline. It's basically two dudes who thought, let's punk a bunch of runners and see if we can get them to sign up for 5 loops of about a marathon each, to be completed in 60 hours without GPS. I won't ruin all the insane surprises, but every 10 minutes of this thing, you'll be asking yourself, Why?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Our Engagement Story

Hi Internet. Welcome to the personal life I don't talk much about until now. As many have noticed in my post yesterday from Circular Logic, I was wearing a ring on a very important finger that wasn't there a few days ago.

Before (not engaged)/After (totally engaged)
Wonder no more, stalkers and friends. Meet Brent - the one I never want to stop running with. I'm over the moon to share that I got engaged to the love of my life mid-marathon Saturday. There's a ton of significance to this race- it's run in rings, the medal is a circle that never ends, we've done this race together three times, we met while training for this race.

I didn't see this coming. I was pretty self-absorbed leading up to this race, worrying about if my body could cover this distance. I didn't notice Brent packed three pairs of shorts and got more worked up than normal that we were missing safety pins. I also didn't notice that he was restless the whole night before the marathon, or spent the first 24 miles of our jog tapping his pocket to see if some very precious cargo was secured to the inside of his running pocket with a safety pin.

By the end of this race, I was a mess. We had to walk because I was wiped out. I still wanted to quit at mile 23, but that wouldn't make a very good proposal story. We were rounding our very last lap, very slowly, when we made it to the marker for mile 0.0. The beginning. He stopped, took my hand and bent down. I was very confused - I could see the finish line, why were we stopping.

I heard the words: "Kelly Mahoney, will you marry me?" I was overjoyed. I couldn't process it. It was happening! I didn't even see the ring as I put it on my frozen and swollen fingers. I saw our future. One that's happy and active and loving and supported.

You see, Brent has been there for me in ways big and small. He took care of me after my bone marrow transplant, flying in overnight to be there for the surgery. He copy edits my blog. He's the puppy minder when I'm away and sends me on my business trips with sweet notes to remind me of home. He's led me into the world of craft beer. His family has welcomed me with open arms. He's challenged me to build my business and make smart career moves that have resulted in a comfortable, happy life of balance. He's the fixer of all the things I break around the house and the builder of my confidence.

He sees me in a way no one else does, and shows me how good life could be. My career, running and essence is better because of him. I used to think it was corny and a punchline to call your partner your better half, until it happened to me.

Visiting Memphis, Chicago Auto Show, office holiday party
I said yes, obviously, we kissed and the moment sunk in. We jogged off to the finish line that will be one of many in our future together.

Thank you for showing me what love is and can be. Thank you for seeing in me what was always there but I never recognized. Thank you for choosing me.

Here's the start of the rest of our lives.

Photo by Appelman Images

Monday, April 4, 2016

2016 Circular Logic Marathon Race Report

Six-word recap: Slowest and most memorable Circular yet.

This is my third-annual Circular Logic Marathon (read about 2015 and 2014). I will continue doing this marathon for as long as I am physically capable, which this year was a serious concern. Exactly 24 day after emptying out the insides of my bones to beat cancer, I knew that this attempt might be futile. I ran 20 miles three days before my procedure, and the furthest distance I mustered pre-race was eight miles. So I was super well-rested ....

I took a half day Friday and we made the two-hour trek to Lafayette, Ind. It's funny how nonchalant this marathon was versus my first marathon. I had Mexican food for lunch Friday, which I never would have done in the past. We checked into the hotel, which was a weird locale worthy of another blog post, but let's just say, there was some sort of ComicCon going on and Ariel was swimming in the pool. We had pre-dinner beers, then went out for wood-fired pizza before finally going to bed around 11:30.

I languished in bed when the alarm went off at 7 a.m. I wasn't ready. Even at breakfast, I said, I don't know if I can do this. A marathon is always tough. What's a marathon with lack luster training and serious physical limitations?

We set up our table just as the years before and started the plod away just after 9 a.m. There were many familiar faces and super fast runners. I love this race because they tweak it slightly every year. This year featured a la cart pricing. So if you didn't want a shirt or medal, you could race for $26. It's hard to find a 5K that cheap, let alone a marathon.

It was a cool morning, but probably the best weather we've had in the three years I've done this. At the beginning, at least. I ran in a parka for the first 10 miles. Truth be told, I wanted to quit at mile 12. I had to start walking there, despite a modest 10+ minute pace. I thought if I made it to a half marathon, that's a respectable distance post bone marrow donation. No one would fault me.

But we soldiered on. Around 13, we set up our run-walk pattern. It helped to pass the time, and before I knew it, we were rounding out lap 17. I wasn't going to get to 17 miles of a marathon and just drop out. But let's be honest, even at mile 23, I wanted to quit. The wind had really picked up and it was sleeting (the wind later knocked over four port o potties. Gross.).

We kept on by doing things like spending at least two hours talking about laundry best practices. The only reason I didn't quit was this guy. He said we were finishing this thing even if it was walking. When the clock ticked over to four hours, the course started to really empty out. Most people who knew they were slow started early. I'm foolhardy and like living on the edge, so I started at 9 and was left pretty much to my own devices in the last 30 minutes of the race. Which suited me just fine.

This race was pretty meh for me. It was hard mentally and physically, but I will never ever forget this day, and this finish. I missed finishing in under 5 hours because I had to make a very important pit stop right before the finish.

When we finished, it was just us and the race director. We collected our medals, complete with three-year charms, went back to our very accommodating hotel that gave us 4 p.m. check out and the trek back.

This race is so much more than just 26 one-mile loops. I will keep running this forever, in spite of crappy weather and questionable finish times. In all, I'm still damn proud of my performance. Less than a month ago, I was under general anesthesia  and unable to take a shower without help. Plus this is the finish line that was just the start.

More on that tomorrow.

Time: 5:02
Cost: $46 with the medal and shirt, $26 if you just want to run
Pros: Super cheap, friendly people, nice medal, you're never more than 1 mile from a bathroom
Cons: Mentally tough, crappy weather, can be crowded at times
Would I do this race again? Yes, can't wait.