Monthly Archives: April 2012

Day 47

Y’all.

Uno: Get on over to Ann, Courtenay, Erin, Hannah and Kristi’s Get In Gear Race Recaps.  These sisters preach it.

Dos: Ann was kind enough to let me borrow this snap that she took of me during post-race “recovery.”

Girlfriend takes one look at me and asks me, What are you trying to stretch?  And in all seriousness, I wasn’t trying to stretch anything.  I was actually trying to put my feet by the heat vent on the fireplace to dry them/warm them up.

The Blog: All Dignity, All The Time.  Except for when it’s not.

Like I said on Saturday, this weekend’s long run was a lot about gratitude.

My foot (beneath my ankle) has been varying degrees of painful (from not at all to excruciating) for the last week.  The first two minutes of my run are pure hell, but by the time I get to mile 3, things have warmed and loosened up.

The reality of marathon training (for me) is that I feel really great until I cross the 17 mile mark on my plan, and then I spend the remainder of my training trying to preserve the strength/endurance that I’ve gained while trying to avoid DNS-type injuries.

It only occurred to me this morning that the leap up to 19 miles was not an insignificant one and that running 19 miles and then 20 miles on back to back weekends would likely, give my body full license to go on strike.

Even if they were On The Plan.

So in the spirit of all of this, last week, I substituted in three days of biking (Wed-Th-Su).  My mileage total for that sideshow thus far is 50.71 miles.  Considering I know nothing about biking at all (seriously), I’m clueless as to whether or not that means I’ve been making good use of my time on the bike.

What I do know: If you’re trying to avert bodily disaster, riding the bike is a great way to keep up with the cardio and (more importantly) to get those legs moving.

And to add even more variety to the show, today I hit the pool with Mom.

Yes, seriously.  The pool.  I don’t even know if I’ve ever mentioned a pool on The Blog EVER.

But anyway, she joined-up at a new health club that has a salt water pool.  This is a really big deal because I’m hardcore allergic to Chlorine.  As in, I get a full-body rash that lasts for days on end.

All together now: DO NOT WANT.

So I can’t even tell you how excited I was to go aqua jogging swimming at a place that was not a lake, the ocean or a cruise ship.

For this former-lifeguard, it was a seriously big deal.

What is your preferred method of cross-training?

Are you a pool person or a lake person?

Doing Things

Besides the Race, I did manage to do a few other things this weekend.

On Friday night as a part of my Carb Loading-It’s The Weekend-Fun Fest, we dropped by the Fulton Tap Room.  Some runners Say No to a pre-race beer, but I’m comfortable pouring one or two.

My first round was a Ringer (their newly released American Ale) and the second was the Sweet Child of Vine which is their IPA and most well-known beer.  While I sipped on the Sweet Child of Vine, I knew that we had absolutely made the right choice, even if the place was totally packed because we arrived just before the start of a Twins game.

Um.  One who plans around sporting events I am not.

We also scrounged up some tacos from the Get Sauced truck parked outside.  Because if you’re going to sip, you should probably snack.  This may or may not be the lost 11th Commandment.

My best recollection of what was going on in there: Some interpretation of Mexican-style tacos (v. BBQ or Korean) with white and blue corn tortillas.  How snappy, right?

What I just learned from digging up the link: They are a chain.  So that kind of takes away from the shabby-chic of it all.

This morning I took a brief moment to address my mitts + paws.  They were a serious disaster scene and the situation was, quite frankly, unlivable in the current state.

I’ve become a terrible procrastinator lately where they’re concerned and I think we can all agree that the only thing worse than no manicure at all is some extremely chipped polish.

I was ashamed for me.

Post-pamper, I actioned some baking.  With the patio door open and the natural light streaming into the kitchen, it only seemed like the right thing to do.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies were the end-product, obviously.

On the declutter front, I took a trunk full of objects and former possessions to the Goodwill.  As I packed things into the trunk, it was like having a weight lifted off my chest.

Cliche?  Absolutely.  I am more than happy to Go There.

While I got to re-organizing the boxes for a better “fit” it made me wonder exactly how much effort goes into organizing a garage sale.  Not because I want to host one, but because it already seemed like enough effort to get things piled up and packed away for donation!

Have you ever hosted a garage sale?

What did The Universe direct you to do this weekend?

Get in Gear Half Marathon 2012

Race day, what?

No, I wasn’t intentionally trying to hide something from y’all.

To make a long story extremely short, I had a 20 miler on the calendar this weekend and I opted to do it by running 7 + 13.1.  I thought that it would be nice to be able to run on a course with water stops and that I would have a lot more incentive to finish strong if I was being timed.

Oh, and this race marks my second birthday as a runner.  Not the “exact” date (we’re four days off), but running the Get in Gear 5k was my first race ever two years ago!

What was exactly the same about both of them: The unceasing rain.  The cold.  The wind.  It didn’t really pick up until 9 AM (gun time), so I didn’t have to deal with it for the first seven miles.  But once we were in it, we were in it.

Also the same: The appearance of the snappy blue Nike visor that has been a holdout from the days when I was a lifeguard at summer camp. 

Yes, in a past life I made my living parading up and down a dock in a red swimsuit.  It was a pretty sweet gig.

Today, that is neither here nor there.

Anyway, the visor.  I have only run in that visor once before and you had better believe that it was during that 5k.

Spooky coincidences, I know.

I think what set this race apart from so many others I have run is that instead of being in a competitive mode, I thought about some advice I gave Brady earlier this week.  I was grateful to log the miles.

My right foot has been a real treat to live with for the past week and so I didn’t even know if I was going to run this weekend.  At all.

I seriously considered deferring my entry or at the very least, exchanging it for entry to the 10k.  But instead of living in the gray land between victory and defeat, I decided to go big.

My rationale? I either wanted to have a GREAT long run or break a body part in such a definitive and clear-cut way that when I turned myself in to medical professionals, they would actually know how to deal with the situation.

Nagging injuries are their own special circle of hell.

Obviously I didn’t end up in an ambulance (win).

What I can say about the day is that there are few runs where I have experienced such a strong sense of gratitude.   Y’all know that I am a major fair-weather runner, so to be able to log the miles in those conditions with a smile on my face, finishing strong and without excruciating pain meant the world to me.

I was able to accomplish what I set out to do.

I will be forever grateful to Amber the Chiropractor and Darren the Aerospace Engineer from Lifetime Fitness in Savage.  Around Mile 9.5 I realized we were all kind of sticking together, so I asked them what their plan was for the remainder of the race.

Their plan = Keep the pace and finish running.

That was exactly what I was hoping to hear.  I KNEW that if I could find people to keep focus on as I continued to will my body forward (this was Mile 16 of my morning…I could not feel my legs), that I would be more likely to keep moving period.

So they let me tag along and we alternated between workshopping (they’re also doing the Tough Mudder Sunday Session) and rocking out on our iPods.

In case you were wondering what sort of bond can be formed between three running strangers, we definitely exchanged hugs after crossing the finish line.

Final time for the 13.1 = 2:05:51.  Considering that those miles were the back 2/3 of my long run, and the weather was (bluntly) horrid, I am extremely proud of that.

Post-race I had a more disheartening moment than that one time where Marcus was at brunch and couldn’t bring me ice for an ice bath.

You see, I was planning on meeting up with Ann, Jay, Hannah and Nancy (madre of Ann) once we all crossed the finish line because Nancy had our sweats.

What we did not think through: We were all crossing the finish line at different times, and while I had Ann’s number, I didn’t have Nancy’s OR Jay’s.

FAIL.

So, soaking wet and with only the space blanket that I Houdini-ed out of my Spibelt, I realized that I was totally alone on this earth and without any dry clothes to stave of hypothermia.

Yes, it was seriously just like that.

Thank the Lord for the kind woman in the pavilion who was doling out dry clothing from The Island of Misfit Toys to Runners Who Looked Like They Really Needed It.  Marcus is I am now +1 men’s size large, royal blue, long-sleeved technical shirt.

Without going into anymore details about The Shivering  or the part where I used the hand-dryer in the bathroom in an attempt to dry my pink shirt, we all crossed the finish line.

I’d like to say that it all got better.  That I couldn’t see my breath.  That the rain let-up.  That the wind slowed.  But the reality is that by the time we made it back to Ann and Jay’s, we were all but completely numb and ready to throw our bodies into the electric fireplace in an attempt to warm-up.

Sometimes you just have to accept the natural order of things.

What have you been up to this weekend?

Get in Gear Runners, how was your race?

One Kitchen, Many Hearts: Box 2

AND, we’re back!

From Left to Right, Top Row: Madelyn, Kirsten, Megan, Bottom Row: Jeanne, Allison et moi.

Not-so-miraculously, the first month of our box-swapping experiment was a success.  Which is to say that we collectively agreed that getting this package in the mail is more fun than Christmas, Hanukkah, Birthdays and Anniversaries.

See?

More fun.  Obviously.

Because you basically go out and buy/source the things you would love to get, and then you wrap that love up and ship it out to a sister that you know will love it just as much.

It’s the perfect solution to the problem we never had.

The problem we do have: Making sure that these boxes and their contents are as unappealing/unappetizing as possible to menfolk and coonhounds.

This is our lot in life.

To check out what I packaged up, son/husband-proofed and sent over to Michigan (spoiler alert: you’ll die when you see my wrap job), click on over to visit Kirsten!

This month’s box came from Allison via the sunny state of Arizona, which is mildly ironic because my parents set-off to visit not a week after I received this parcel in the post.

We started out with some brief (albeit important) correspondence.  That was only after I made sure to have a full-glass of red wine in-hand.  This is the sort of multi-tasking we should all aspire to. 😉

The six of us are totally serious joke about setting-up a retirement compound for ourselves that would involve six houses opening up to one, giant, working kitchen.  With six more of everything.  Like Big Love meets the McCaughey Septuplets.

Or something like that.

Allison is a girl after my own heart because she has a way with words that is just second to none.  The tags she attached to the treats she sent slayed me.

Are you dying too?

And the treats.  So wonderful.  So perfect.  So fitting.

There’s a certain sweet spot that can only be reached by combining hot peppers, treats, accessories and bold declarations about handbags.  Some people may file it under Bermuda Triangle.  I think it falls squarely into the category known as My Life.

For instance: Have you ever experienced a homemade marshmallow?  Because if you haven’t, you really, really should.

In a run, don’t walk-sort of way.

In an, it will shake the very foundation of your beliefs-sort of way.

But like everything else that comes out of those flat-rate boxes, this is a good thing.

Want to know what else got sent around the country?  The answer to that is YES!  Pop on over to check out Madelyn, Kirsten, Megan, Jeanne and Allison’s boxes!

Friday Food Round-Up!

Just call it Christmas Come Early.  Or the fact that tomorrow is being dedicated to another topic entirely (though only for this week).  Ya’ll know that I like to maintain that Strong Sense Of Order that we’ve all become so fond of.

This week is just not the week for that.  The sense of order, I mean.

I had some serious meal plans laid out for this week.  Delicious dinners.  Things involving pantry-staples and a serious effort to try to lower our grocery bill.  Yes, I realize that by virtue of shopping at ALDI it’s already freakishly low.  But the increase in food prices because of the cost of gasoline?  Is no less insane and crazy-making to me.

And then, life happened.  A Pilgrimage with a girlfriend at the Whole Foods Salad Bar.  Eating Buffalo Wings for a fundraiser.  Having a bunch of sorority sisters over to visit with a sister who was in from out of town.

I’m actually 100% sure that when my sorority sisters left, I had more food in the refrigerator than I had started out with initially.

My life is so hard, right?

So, the big show.

Monday –  Boyfriend Approved Spicy Black Bean Burgers  with Guacamole, Chipotle Mayo and Tots

After a day of pushing All The Green Things, it only seemed appropriate to wrap up the last day of our vacation (and drive home) with some veggie burgers.

Do they taste like meat?  No.  Do they have any texture that even resembles meat?  Not at all.  Those facts are neither here nor there.

Because I didn’t really know what else we were going to do with the guacamole, wanted an excuse to make the mayo and was alarmed by the prospect of an empty plate?

I coached Marcus into saying that he wanted tots.  Because I wanted tots.

But sometimes you just need someone else to say it.

We’ve made these burgers a few times before and while I continue to expand my hypothesis of what will “work” to keep them together and what won’t, I’m still largely in the dark.

That being said, Marcus is more than happy to down a black bean “Sloppy Joe”-style arrangement.

And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that by freezing a couple of patties as leftovers, they might decide to stick together when reincarnation time comes around.

What are your tips for getting homemade veggie burgers to stick together?

How are you dealing with rising gas and grocery prices?

Natural Process

How it’s possible to transition from beer drinking/touring to gardening, I’m not sure.

So let’s all take a moment to watch some paint dry, shall we?

The Genovese and Lettuce Leaf Basils continue to flourish.

They promise to Perform and cover themselves in glory in the same way that last year’s Basil was a spectacular.

On the other side of the coin, the Purple Basil seems deadly uninterested in doing anything that would bear a resemblance to productivity.

Where the other Basils sport four leaves, it only shows-off two.

Like, how hard is it to grow when you’re a plant?  I mean, honestly.  I give it water, I give it sunlight and then it’s supposed to uphold its end of the bargain and give growing a shot.  You know, since it’s a natural biological process.

In the interim, I don’t even know how to deal with the sage.  Like, what does the end-result of sage even look like?

Are you not as perplexed as I am?  Because I do not get where this is going.

After doing a bit of Googling I’m mildly alarmed, because it looks like it might flower ferociously OR grow into a bush.

Like last year’s rainforest-style tomato debacle, I am NOT equipped to handle bush-growing.

Pray for me, kittens.

Have you ever planted anything, not knowing what the end result will turn out like?

What is your favorite use of Basil?  Margherita Pizza? Caprese Salad?  Bruschetta?  Pesto?  We may as well get the idea mill turning now, since obviously I’m going to need to address the issue at some point.

Craft-Beer Tasting: Wisconsin Edition

Tonight is one of those posts where The Blog more closely resembles a Diary or Secret Journal than any sort of serious attempt at storytelling.

I know.  I KNOW.  Who am I?

In all seriousness, I do love that I can go back to old posts and flip through snaps and stories like some sort of elaborate and glue/sticky tape-free scrapbook.

Look.

The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co.

Sprecher Brewing Company

Milwaukee Brewing Company

New Glarus Brewing

Please accept my apologies for the heinous editing jobs.  In case you were wondering: Breweries + Tap Rooms are NOT the best places to source appropriate and abundant amounts of natural light.

Right?  Who knew.

Anyway, not shockingly, we brought home more beer this trip than we did wine from Napa.

The Haul: Tyranena Scurvy, Sprecher 25th Anniversary Belgian-Style Dubbel, Sprecher Abbey Triple, New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red.

We didn’t bring home more New Glarus brews because (1) We’re still sitting on four packs of their Cherry Stout and Barleywine; (2) We have a bottle of their Raspberry Tart in the beer fridge and; (3) Billy goes to school at La Crosse and regularly ferries home mixed-packs for us.

No, I don’t know what we’re going to do when Billy graduates next spring, either.

Yes, I think it’s time for us to invest in a beer-rack in the same way that we own a wine rack.

We are officially beer collectors and stash-ers.

Because some of you might actually want to take a trip like this someday, or just want to know where we went, or maybe I’ll want to remember where we went…

The Breweries

  • The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. (Chippewa Falls)
  • Pearl Street Brewery (La Crosse)
  • Sprecher Brewing Company (Milwaukee)
  • Milwaukee Brewing Company (Milwaukee)
  • Tyranena Brewing Company (Lake Mills)
  • New Glarus Brewing (New Glarus)
  • The Great Dane (Madison)

If we would have known where specifically, in Milwaukee we were going well in advance of our trip, we would have booked tickets at Lakefront Brewery.  Another place we just didn’t have the time to hit was Sand Creek Brewing Company in Black River Falls where they also brew the Furthermore label.  Finally, if you’re already near New Glarus/Madison you can probably find the time to visit Minhas Craft Brewery in Monroe.

The Restaurants

This trip had zero culinary focus which can be evidenced by the fact that we didn’t eat lunch until ~4 PM on Saturday and Sunday.  Let me tell you, popcorn and pretzels does not a happy Kat make.

Well actually, they do.  Just not as a sole source of sustenance.

Glarner Stube (New Glarus)

If you do a tasting at New Glarus, they’ll give you a coupon to use on a small pull at one of bars/restaurants in town.  When we asked the cashier in the beer cellar where we would be able to source the best cheese curds, she word vomited this place up without missing a beat.  That is what we call an unfiltered opinion.

What we found there were very literally the best brat and cheese curds I have consumed domestically.  Like, we’re talking to the point where Marcus and I were raving so much at the bar that the bartender and our fellow patrons became New Best Friends.  They were as  stunned by our enthusiasm for their everyday fare as we were.

Cafe Benelux (Milwaukee)

Apparently the group that owns this place has another called Cafe Hollander.  I don’t care which location you visit or how you get there.  Just beg, borrow or steal to make it happen.  As it was described to us by fellow tasters at Sprecher, their menu is a piece of paper and their beer list is a monthly-published periodical-type booklet.  All of their taps are Belgian-style (with most of them being from Belgium).  You will be able to taste things here that you’ll never, ever, be able to find anywhere else again.

Food-wise, I had a phenomenal pannekoeken  topped with soft fried eggs, asparagus, parmesan and bacon.  It will haunt my dreams forever.

They also action these ridiculous, hand-formed cheese curds that are blended with bleu cheese and bacon.  As our new friends at Sprecher described them, the tots were the first thought to cross their mind upon waking the next morning.  They were not kidding.  The tots were truly a spiritual experience.

What is the best thing you’ve ever eaten on vacation?