Archive for September 2009

Kelly’s Bear 100 Race Footage

September 29th, 2009 — 6:48pm

Last weekend, my brother Kelly competed in the Bear 100 ultra marathon, from Logan, Utah to Fish Haven, Idaho. The race bills itself as a “Cool, autumn loop through the Pines, Golden Aspens, and Red Maples of the Wasatch/Bear River Range.” The course features 21,986 feet of climbing and maximum elevation of 9,060.

My brother finished 29th overall with a time of 29:01:57. Kelly’s friend and roommate Ben crewed for him throughout the race, and also shot the race footage above. Only my brother can make running 100 miles look so damn easy!

But Kelly said that the race was anything but easy…temperatures ranged from a stifling 85 degrees during the day to below zero at night. Kelly puked, suffered altitude sickness, punctured the water reservoir of his Camelback, lost many toe nails, and developed a number of blisters all over his feet. Accordingly to Kelly, much or the race wasn’t pretty. Still, I’m impressed.

My brother is now considering attempting the Grand Slam of ultra marathon running next year. The Grand Slam award, which was established in 1986, in recognition for those who complete four of the oldest 100 mile trail runs in the US, all in the same year—Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Run and the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run.

He’s also trying to convince me to pace him next June during Western States, an ultra marathon from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California. I must say I’m seriously considering the proposition. It would mean so much to me to be able to share that experience with my brother, and to help him get to the finish line. And I might actually be able to keep up with him during his last 20-30 miles. We’ll see…I better get through this next race before making any rash decisions.

1 comment » | Family Fun, Racing and Training

Preparing For Her Maiden Voyage

September 28th, 2009 — 1:24pm

door-county-004It’s amazing how much time, money, and stress I’ve spent on my bike in the last week. I suppose it’s my own fault, caused by a mix of procrastination and unrealistic expectations. Luckily, I have amazing friends who have done everything to help their mechanically-challenged friend get her bike ready for quite possibly the biggest race of her life. Gulp.

The whole process started last weekend, when my friends Lauren and Brodie helped me change out my regular old wheels for carbon Zipp 404 race wheels, which Lauren so generously loaned me for my race. Afterwards, I couldn’t help but gawk at my bike. You’ve never looked so damn beautiful and fast, I gushed to myself incredulously. Two-thousand dollar race wheels will do that. On a test ride, it quickly became clear that I was riding a new bike entirely. Which is a good

Early last week, at the insistence of my friend Brodie, I took my bike in to Atkins Verona Bicycle Shoppe for a final pre-race tune-up. Brodie explained that nobody would take better care of my bike than owner Dan Atkins.

Although it was a bit of a drive out to Verona, it was well worth the trip. Dan and his staff were extraordinarily friendly, and treated my bike like a first-born child. In just under 24-hours (that kind of turn-around is just unheard of at other bike shops), Dan had personally steam cleaned my bike and completed a full tune-up. I took my bike for another test ride on Thursday evening, and couldn’t believe the difference. Without a doubt, I will never go anywhere else but Atkins for my bike repair and maintenance needs. In a world of bike shops that employ countless teenage hipsters who may or may not know a thing about fixing bikes, it’s good to have someone you can really trust.door-county-005

The final component of my bike preparation, and certainly the most stressful, was figuring out how to get my bike to Hawaii. Last Monday, my friend Jen, who is also competing in Kona, left me a frantic message explaining that shipping charges for her bike were much steeper than she had anticipated. Long story short, I went back and forth all week between shipping and flying my bike. In the end, mostly because my mom explained that it would be nearly impossible to get my bike box in a cab upon our arrival to Oahu (prior to our next-day flight to the big island), I decided to ship my bike. At the last minute, Brodie and Lauren helped me disassemble my bike and pack it into Lauren’s bike box. It was very scary to see my bike so vulnerable—all in little pieces.

Three hundred and eighty-six (g*****n) dollars later, my bike is on its way, via UPS, to Kona Bike Works, a local bike shop that will receive and assemble my bike before the race, and disassemble and ship it home afterwards, all for another $300. Therefore, in total, it will cost me $700 to get my bike to Hawaii and back. And if I think about that too hard, it makes me want to pass out.

The good news is that my bike is (hopefully) on its way to Hawaii for an October 3 arrival. By the time I arrive to Kona on October 6, my bike should be fully assembled and ready to race. The bad news is that I have nothing to ride until then. Yesterday, I did a three-hour trainer ride on my commuter/mountain bike. It was the worst.

Until then, for nine more heart-wrenching days, I will dream about our imminent reunion. On the roads of Kailua-Kona, my bike and I will meet again.

4 comments » | Racing and Training

Apple Recipes

September 28th, 2009 — 5:10am

home-0471home-014p7138477As promised, here are a few of the fabulous apple recipes from last week’s Iron Chef dinner party. Clearly, my friends truly embraced the “apple” theme. It was an amazing feast!

Apple-Cheddar Panini
Apple Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps
Apple Jacks Cereal Cookies
Apple Pie by Grandma Ople
Chicken and Apple Couscous
Fruited Curry Chicken Salad
Garden Harvest Cake
Ravioli With Apples and Walnuts
Red Apple Hooch Bowla
Washington Apple Pizza


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Iron Chef Dinner Party

September 23rd, 2009 — 6:25pm







Last night’s Iron Chef dinner party was a huge success. Ten guests, eleven “apple” iron chef dishes. I love my friends! More pictures and recipes to come.

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Mother-Daughter Bonding

September 23rd, 2009 — 5:54pm

home-021Last week, my mom came to visit me in Madison from Thursday evening through Saturday morning for some quality mother-daughter bonding. Of course I also love spending time with my dad and brother, but sometimes us girls just need a little time to ourselves.You know, for girl talk…

My mom came in on Thursday night and picked me up from work. I was craving Mexican food and outdoor dining (sadly, the days are numbered), so we opted for Casa de Sol in Fitchburg. My mom and I promptly ordered margaritas and began catching up. home-0031

Kristin, I want to be a grandmother.

The next day, my mom and I started with a little run, followed by coffee and scones at Lazy Jane’s, my favorite place in Madison for breakfast. The scones are to die for, the staff is lovable and quirky, and the atmosphere is super kitschy and homey.

home-007I hate to break it to you mom, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

After our java fix, we made our way across the street to St. Vinny’s, where my mom and I love to peruse the used books. My mom does not come to Madison without insisting upon a visit to St. Vinny’s. According to its Web site, the Williamson Street location “probably has the best used book section you will find in any thrift store in the country.” In fact, I’d guess that half of my book collection is from St. Vinny’s. home-011

But don’t you want to get married, Kristin?

From Williamson Street, we headed to “Quilts in Bloom,” a fall quilt and flower show at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. The show, which runs through October 11, features dozens of beautiful handmade quilts by local artists, as well an array of fall foliage and flowers. My mom is a huge quilter. And so I have a great appreciation for how much time and energy goes into each little square. After admiring the quilts, we took a stroll around the gardens, which were also very lovely.

home-0162No, I’m not sure that I do, actually. People change, and I’m not sure that I want to commit to one person forever.

For lunch, we opted for a simple salad bar meal at Whole Foods. Afterwards, we stopped by the nearby Century House, to admire all of the great modern Scandinavian furniture pieces and accessories. While driving, we then came upon a great estate sale. The house was filled to the brim with pottery, figurines, and tapestries from all over the world. home-018It was like a museum.

But you want to have kids, right? You’d be a great mother.

For dinner, we headed to my beloved Weary Traveler. Per usual, I opted for the West of the Andes sandwich. My mom chose Bob’s Bad Breath Burger. We were both very happy campers. After dinner, we walked down State Street, taking in the downtown night life scene and ever-increasing scantily clad collegiates.

Holy shit, mom, look at how short that girl’s dress is…and how high her heels are. Did I ever dress like that in college?

We then made our way to the Memorial Union terrace for Babcock ice cream and the World Music Festival. After that, we called it a night, and headed home. home-0231

But Kristin, back to the whole kids thing….

The next morning, we woke up bright and early to get to the farmers’ market before the crowds. As always, our first stop was for coffee. Armed with caffeine, the focus of our first loop around the capitol was finding the perfect breakfast sweets to accompany our coffee. We joked at how my extraordinarily sweet-toothed dad would have stopped at every booth along the way to try each donut, apple fritter, danish, and cinnamon roll that caught his eye.

After a second loop of the market, during which we bought essentials like produce and homemade hot fudge, my mom’s visit sadly came to an end. It was time to hit the road. But it was a great visit. I love spending time with my mom.

4 comments » | Family Fun

Post-Workout Fruit Smoothie

September 22nd, 2009 — 12:17pm

june-011I’m not embarassed to admit that during my long training runs and rides, a significant amout of  brain power is directed toward selecting the components of my next meal. Like a pregnant woman, I crave particular items more than others. But unlike a pregnant woman, who is likely able to immediately satisfy her craving, I must endure hours of riding and running, and countless bland Power bars and gels, before I can get my fix. This year, my biggest post-workout cravings include homemade fruit smoothies, and chips and guacamole from Qdoba. I’m guessing it’s the refreshing quality of the smoothie and the salt from chips that trigger my cravings.

smuckers_natural_pb1blueberries4One thing is for certain. I make a mean smoothie. My tasty concoction is both nutritious and delicious. It’s also an awesome recovery fuel. The ingredients I use are: mixed frozen fruit, orange juice, plain yogurt, ground flax seed, and peanut butter. I just pour it all into a large plastic cup, in no specific quantities. Then I mix it  together with a small and mighty hand blender I picked up last year. And in less than three minutes, I have a monster-sized smoothie that rivals even Jamba Juice’s vitamin and protein boost-enhanced creations.

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Ironman Spectating

September 21st, 2009 — 4:55pm

home-048It’s no secret that I would have given anything to be out there racing last weekend during Ironman Wisconsin. I’ve completed the race five times…and I love everything about it—the course, volunteers, and spectators, not to mention racing in my hometown. Without a doubt, it was difficult to sit this year out. But instead of getting down, I focused my energy on getting through my final days of Kona training, volunteering during the race, and cheering my friends to the finish line.home-0371

It was fortuitous that my toughest days of training coincided with the days leading up to Ironman Wisconsin. In a span of 48-hours, my training included a 23-mile run, 110-mile bike, and around 3.5 miles of swimming. Yikes. But luckily the race energy, which emanated so strongly from the city and all of the participants, kept me so motivated and excited for training and my upcoming race.home-029

I also had so many friends who raced Ironman Wisconsin this year. It was awesome to watch and cheer for them throughout the day. It’s always a long day, for athletes and spectators alike (spectating gives me a much greater appreciation of that!). I was out on the course from 6am until 9:30pm. I had a friend who set a personal record by one hour, several friends who finished their first Ironman, a friend who crashed on the bike course, and a friend who was forced to stop during the second loop of the run because of a persistent and painful injury. No matter what their race day had in store, each of my friends demonstrated an incredible amount of strength, dedication, passion, and humility throughout the entire journey. I was so honored to call each my friend. 9518_163302573437_690273437_3593246_5787344_n

I also volunteered in an official capacity from 2-6pm, handing out “special needs bags” at the half-way point of the 26.2 mile run. Amazingly, there were over 3,500 volunteers for 2,400 athletes—which goes to show just how amazingly well-supported the race is. The “special needs” bag is essentially a bag that each athlete can stuff with anything he or she might need at the half-way point of the run (e.g., gel, fluids, Advil, candy, dry socks, extra shoes, etc.) An announcer at our station called out race bibs, and it was our job to find that athlete’s bag and hand them anything they wanted out of it. I was responsible for athletes with race numbers that fell within  the range of  300 to 350. It was a great station at which to volunteer because there was so much action at that particular point of the course—people starting hteir run, turning onto their second loop, and also finishing. It also meant so much to me to give back to the race and help others get to the finish line, as so many volunteers have done for me.7729_669805751933_19211362_40091361_6719801_n

All in all, it was an awesome weekend. As always, I was so sad when Monday morning came around and Ironman was quickly disassembled and packed away, off to the next lucky city, with nothing more than limping athletes serving as a reminder of the previous day’s extraordinary event.

I never had to think twice about signing up for Ironman Wisocnsin 2010. It’s in my blood. And so the countdown begins…

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Secret Ingredient: Apple

September 17th, 2009 — 1:03pm

s_apples1A few weeks ago I decided that it’s time for another dinner party! And so, playing off the “iron chef” theme my friends and I incorporate into the summer’s concerts on the square series, I opted for an iron chef potluck of sorts. The party is next week. I think there will be about ten people—who can hopefully all squeeze into my apartment. Essentially everyone brings a dish that incorporates the secret ingredient. Which is…drum roll, please. Apples! Very seasonably appropriate, don’t you think? Following is the invite text. home-008

Please join me for Kristin’s Iron Chef Challenge

Please join me for the first-ever indoor Iron Chef Challenge. In the spirit of the fall harvest, the chosen “secret ingredient” is APPLE. As always, you bring a dish to pass that incorporates the secret ingredient, and I’ll provide the table and plastic wine glasses. It may not be the Capitol Square, but a bit of imagination should do the trick. I hope you can make it!

As always, my favorite part of any dinner party is making the invitations. Sad, but true. I detest Evites or any other online invitation. I love the creative process of finding and/or making perfect homemade invitations. You can make your invites so personalized and unique—and unless you’re inviting dozens of people, it’s quite affordable. And what’s better than getting a homemade invitation in the mail? Right. Nothing.

Now I’m working to pick the perfect apple recipes. I’d like to make some kind of entree and a dessert. I have a few ideas—Apple Cider Stew, Caramel Apples, an Apple Tart, or Apple Cake. Maybe even Ravioli with Apple and Walnuts. But I’m still researching…and carefully narrowing down the field.

I’ll definitely share pictures and recipes from the party. May the best chef win.

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Bacon and Chocolate: Can they be one?

September 16th, 2009 — 6:33pm

home-0191I’m sure it’s no surprise that Ironman has consumed my entire existence in recent weeks. From stressing about travel logistics to how and when I’m going to fit in my next long bike ride, it’s been all consuming.

Alas, I’ve spent very little time in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes and cooking techniques. For those of you who follow my blog specifically for new recipe ideas, I feel like I’ve let you down recently. All I can say is that I will be back with an incredible amount of energy and new material in late October. Until then, I’m afraid you’ll have to suffer through more posts about Ironman preparation than you’d probably care to endure. And for that, I’m sorry.

The good news is that I was recently able to do a bit of experimentation with bacon and chocolate. You might remember my post about the debut of chocolate-covered bacon at this summer’s Wisconsin State Fair. I was enamored. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the fair myself, so I asked everyone I knew who was going to try a stick for me, and report back. Reviews were mixed—some loved it, others hated the combination.

Still, I was not satisfied. I was so intrigued. I wanted to know for myself. Bacon and chocolate…what’s it really like?

And so first, I took the advice of Katy, a friend of mine from college, who suggested that I try the Vosges Bacon Chocolate Bar. Initially I came across the bar at Fox and Obel Market, when I was in Chicago about a month ago. I can’t bring myself to admit to how much I paid for said chocolate bar. Let’s just say it was the most expensive piece of chocolate I’ve ever purchased. I have since found the same bar a few dollars cheaper at World Market. So my first piece of advice is to avoid any over-priced gourmet market (even if Oprah shops there) and the always disconcerting Chicago sales tax, and instead opt for a big-box retailer outside of the city.

The bar itself was very tasty. I loved the creamy, deep milk chocolate embedded with small bits of salty, Alder wood smoked bacon. Definitely a sensory experience—also evidenced by the following text, which can be found on the “exotic” candy bar’s box:

Breathe…engage your five senses, close your eyes and inhale deeply. Be in the present moment, notice the color of the chocolate, the glossy shine. Rub your thumb over the chocolate bar to release the aromas of smoked applewood bacon flirting with deep milk chocolate. Snap off just a tiny piece and place it in your mouth, let the lust of salt and sweet coat your tongue.

home-015And if those aren’t the most tantalizing words you’ve ever read…

So Mo’s Bacon Bar was definitely a winner. But for comparison, I also wanted to try straight up, homemade fried bacon dipped in chocolate. And so I rolled up my sleeves and set to work. I heated small squares of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate over the stove. At the same time, I fried several slices of thickly-cut apple woodsmoked bacon. After the bacon cooled, I slowly dipped the end of each slice in the melted chocolate. And voila, chocolate-covered bacon.

It was…interesting. And unique. But I couldn’t really bring myself to eat more than one slice. It was just a little too much. Sure, I can eat countless slices of bacon in one sitting. But add a bit of chocolate, and one slice was plenty.  

My scientific conclusion is that if you want the true foodie experience of chocolate-covered bacon, then you really need to try Mo’s Bacon Bar from Vosges chocolate. And be prepared to spend more than what you’d pay for any-old Hershey’s bar. Because clearly, it’s a sensory experience. And that’s gonna cost you.

2 comments » | Kristin's Kitchen

Never Say Never

September 15th, 2009 — 1:16pm

2858164376_f85b770d8bI always told myself that I’d never buy an aero helmet. They look dumb. They’re too expensive. How much time can they possibly save?

Even as their popularity continued to grow over the last few years, and more and more of my fellow-competitiors began to sport shiny, spaceage-esque, cone-head contraptions in place of more traditional helmets, I continued to protest. I will never wear one of those things, I promised myself defiantly. conehead

And that brings us to present day, at which point I am now the proud owner of a new white pearl Syton Open aero helmet from Rudy Project, which I purchased last week at the Endurance House (local tri shop) for 50% off.

What can I say? I caved. The price was too good to pass up ($100), the benefits are undeniable, and everyone’s doin’ it. It terms of the aerodynamic advantage of cost per watts saved, many experts agree that it’s the cheapest way to “buy speed.” And I think it’s pretty obvious that there’s nothing I need more than improved speed on the bike. home-023

According to one blogger, wind tunnel studies at MIT have shown that at 40km per hour, one can achieve an aero savings of between 55–75 watts versus a normal road bike setup, which equates to as much as 5 seconds per kilometer saved. Five seconds might not seem like much, but multiply that by the 180km distance of an Ironman cycling leg, and that represents a bike split that is nearly 15 minutes faster.

If there is even a remote possibility that I can bike 15 minutes faster on the Ironman course wearing this damn thing, count me in. Who knows if it will really help. All I know is that I took it out for a test run last Friday on my 110 mile ride, and it felt great. I felt fast. And sometimes, it’s the psychological benefit that matters most.

And I have to admit, I think it looks anything but dorky on my head. Dare I say sexy?

3 comments » | Racing and Training

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