Archive for June 2010

Western States 100

June 25th, 2010 — 7:00pm

100_3654At 5 a.m. tomorrow morning, my brother Kelly will begin the Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mile adventure through the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains. The race is one of the oldest, most challenging and prestigious ultras in the world. My brother’s goal is to reach the finish line in Auburn, California, before 10:59 a.m. on Sunday (the official cut-off time) in order to be awarded a coveted finisher’s belt buckle. 35577_980518935117_8610515_56874119_5897110_n

The course follows the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850’s, and climbs approximately 18,090 feet and descends another 22,970 feet from start to finish. Most of the trail is accessible only by foot, horse, or helicopter. Temperatures typically range from below freezing to over 100 degrees. Bears, cougars, and rattlesnakes inhabit the area. The race also involves fording the American River at mile 78. Furthermore, Kelly will travel almost half the distance of the race at night.phpqhhjdvpm

Luckily, my brother is no stranger to ultra marathon running. Amazingly, this will be his 7th 100-mile race. It will be my first time sharing the experience with him and serving as part of his race crew. I’m extremely excited for the adventure and for the chance to help him along his journey to Auburn. Kelly’s other crew members will include his best friend, Ben, and his girlfriend, Kathy. Our job is to assist Kelly throughout the race, particularly at each of the 11 aid stations open to crews. Our duties will include re-filling his water bottles, helping him change his shoes, providing words of encouragement, and other duties as assigned. As of now, I’ll also be pacing Kelly beginning at the Foresthill School aid station, for the final 38 miles of the race. It will be a very unique and memorable adventure for sure. I’m very exited, but also very nervous about the sleep deprivation and the huge responsibility of making sure Kelly gets to the finish line safely.

You can monitor Kelly’s progress (#272) online at

1 comment » | Family Fun, Racing and Training

Iron Chef April: Breakfast for Dinner

June 21st, 2010 — 7:13pm

march-020Two months later, and I’m finally getting around to posting pictures from April’s Iron Chef dinner. Better late than never, I suppose. The theme for the evening was “Breakfast for Dinner.” I believe Brodie came up with the idea. Lauren and Brodie graciously hosted the dinner at their recently remodeled home (you may remember how Brodie nearly severed his finger with a table saw in the midst of the remodel…I’m happy to report that after a few months of casts, splints, and rehab, Brodie is doing very well and the home project has since been completed.) Thus, Lauren and Brodie were excited to host dinner and finally show off the fruits of their labor. march-023

Per usual, everyone truly embraced the theme and came not only armed with plates of breakfast foods, but also dressed in their favorite PJ’s. You would have thought we were having a sleepover with all of the hoodies, polyester, and furry slippers on display. I was truly hoping someone would break out footie pajamas (Ryan in particular), but unfortunately no one was quite brave enough. march-018

Lauren and Bordie had prepared a beautiful spread of fresh fruit, mimosas, and a Bloody Mary bar stocked with all the fixins’—olives, pickles, meat sticks, celery, pickled eggs, and hot sauce. I’m not much of a Bloody Mary drinker myself, but was happy to let bartender Brodie prepare me a nice, tall mimosa.29433_579848097803_20206171_33899182_740562_n

After catching up over a couple drinks, we began to make our way through the buffet line. The food was piping hot and so was the coffee. There was a great variety of dishes for dinner, err…breakfast, including crepes (with fresh fruit, Nutella, and whipped cream), monkey bread, quiche, french toast, bread pudding, granola with yogurt, and my personal favorite…day-old, cold Little Caesar’s pizza (compliments of Matt T.). Most surprising to me was that there was no bacon. It’s funny how with Iron Chef dinners, everyone sort of assumes that someone else will bring the most obvious choice. The spread was extremely diverse and delicious…but I must admit, I did find myself longing for some greasy bacon. 29433_579848102793_20206171_33899183_1280106_n

It’s not very often you have the opportunity to enjoy breakfast for dinner. I’m a big fan of breakfast, so I was very happy to enjoy the meal twice in one day. Really nothing beats breakfast…lounging in comfy clothes, sipping on hot coffee, and diving into a warm slice of French toast drizzled with fresh maple syrup.

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Go Cutters!

June 18th, 2010 — 1:59pm

erins-bachelorette-001Last Thursday’s outing to see the movie Breaking Away as part of Madison’s Bike to Work Week was everything I had hoped it would be. It was awesome to approach the Barrymore Theater and see the film title prominently displayed on the grand marquee in large block text. It was like a trip back in time. Breaking Away? You mean the 1980 Academy Award winner for best screenplay? The most iconic cycling movie in history? Here? Now?…Wow.

Before the movie, my friends and I headed across the street to enjoy pre-movie festivities at Monty’s Blue Plate Diner. The parking lot served as a cycling mecca with complimentary bike maintenance, free samples of Sassy Cow Creamery ice cream, and hordes of bike enthusiasts enjoying the good company and weather. We tasted free samples ice cream before heading into the restaurant for dinner. There, I enjoyed classic diner fare—a burger, fries, and a big slice of peanut butter pie. Adequately fueled, we then headed back across the street to snag good seats for the show. php15tm6npm

We were actually one of the first groups to arrive at the theater. I carefully chose seats front and center. We were a little distracted by the powerful scent of mildew emanating from the old theater, but that certainly didn’t stop us from diving into big boxes of movie candy, compliments of a friend who moonlights as morning stock girl at Walgreens. A steady stream of people made their way into the theater until all rows were more or less filled.

Finally the moment I had waited for came to life on the big screen. It was Bloomington, Indiana, circa 1979. The opening scene takes place at a local quarry as viewers are introduced to the “Cutters,” the local gang of tan-skinned, shaggy-hair drifters, who the audience inevitably grows to love. Although I’d previously seen the movie ages ago, most of the scenes seemed new and unfamiliar. Thus, it was as exciting as watching it for the first time. My favorite scenes from the movie include Dave serenading “Katarina” at her sorority house, Dave drafting a semi on the highway, and the Little 500 bike race: Cutters vs. college frat guys. Bet you can guess the winner of that showdown. Let’s just say the theater erupted in applause at the conclusion of the exciting and suspenseful race.

Major props to the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin for hosting a free screening of Breaking Away in Madison and for organizing the entire array of Bike to Work Week events. As always, the events generated great participation and enthusiasm from the entire community.

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Breaking Away on the Big Screen!

June 10th, 2010 — 7:04am

breaking-awayThis week (June 6-11) marks the official Bike to Work Week in Madison, sponsored by the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. Events include morning commuter stations, a bike parade, a bike-in movie, a bike commuter tips lunch, Ride the Drive, Planet Bike’s Bacon on the Bike Path, and a morning commuter ride with Mayor Cieslewicz. It’s a comprehensive and exciting array of activities designed to celebrate and encourage bicycle commuting in Madison. breaking20away-thumb-320x229-18046

What I’m most excited for, though, is tonight’s free screening of “Breaking Away” at the Barrymore Theatre. In case the sheer excellence of this is lost on you, “Breaking Away” won the Oscar in 1979, and centers around the famed Little 500 bike race at the Univeristy of Indiana. It’s the story of Dave, a recent high school graduate in Bloomington, who dreams of racing with an Italian cycling team. And let me repeat, the movie will be shown on the big screen. For those of you who have had the great opportunity to see this most excellent movie, how many of you can honestly say you’ve seen it on the big screen?

Before the movie, Monty’s Blue Plate Diner (conveniently located across the street from the theater) is transforming their parking lot into a “bicycling paradise” with free bike checkups by Revolution Cycles, and free tastings from Just Coffee Cooperative and Sassy Cow Creamery. Monty’s will grill burgers and veggie burgers in the lot for purchase.

Burgers. Ice cream. Free screening of “Breaking Away” on the big screen. I’m there.

Comment » | Books, Film, and Music

My Mom’s First Half-Marathon

June 8th, 2010 — 8:37am

june-2010-001I had the honor of running with my mom during her first half-marathon last weekend. My mom started running about two years ago at the age of 52 and her journey has been incredibly inspiring. A few months ago, she decided to sign up for the Madison half-marathon. I offered to run the race with her to provide support and company. In the days leading up to the race, my mom was very nervous and had difficulty sleeping. She relayed to me anxiously, I don’t know why I signed up for this thing! I tried to comfort her by explaining that she had put in the miles and was ready.61699-501-018f And that we would have fun!

My parents drove into Madison early on Sunday morning. It was clear even then that it was going to be a scorcher. Forecasts called for highs in the upper 80’s. Just before 7am, it was already very humid and the sun was rising. We walked the few blocks from my apartment to the capitol. When we arrived at the square, my mom and I made a final trip to the bathroom. Then we hugged my dad, who planned to serve as our cheerleader/photographer, and lined up at the start. It was wall-to-wall people. Once the race began, it took a minute or two before we were able to even start moving.

My mom didn’t say much as we began jogging and I could tell she was taking it all in. There were many people lining the road cheering. Wow, this feels different being on the other side with people cheering for me, my mom observed. That, of course, melted my heart. For so many years, my mom had been on the sidelines cheering for my brother and me. Finally, she was on the inside and everyone was cheering for her. It as so neat to see her experience the fan support. When we came across the first official race photographer, she grabbed me and started waving furiously. It was as if she had dreamed of that moment for a very long time.momandkristin

Both my mom and I needed to use the restroom again pretty much as soon as we started running. Apparently small bladders run in the family. Unfortunately, many others had the same idea, and there was a long line of runners waiting to use the Porta Potties at the first aid station. We opted to wait. At the second aid station, we joined a shorter line of runners (including two men entertainingly dressed in Ketchup and Mustard costumes in celebration of Brat Fest). Luckily, we got in and out pretty quickly and then grabbed some Gatorade and water from the aid station as we set off. Much better, we both sighed.61699-304-022f

The heat continued to intensify. Next up was a stretch of steep hills along Observatory drive, which we predominately walked. Then we ran through campus and toward State Street. As we crossed State Street, my mom said she needed to walk again. She was struggling with the heat and some stomach issues. We saw my dad just after State Street and started jogging again. I think it was around that point that my mom told me she was not interested in running a half-marathon ever again. Maybe some shorter races, but no more half-marathons.

For the rest of the race, we alternated between walking and running. Many people were struggling in the heat. At around five miles, we witnessed a delirious runner begin to swerve and quickly collapse on the sidewalk. Those around her immediately ran to her side and spectators called 911 for help. Later in the race, we saw another runner being carted away on a stretcher. Throughout the morning, we heard the blare of ambulance sirens. Race officials later reported that everyone was safe, but it was scary then to observe just how much of an impact the heat was having on participants.june-2010-016

My mom’s favorite part of the race was running through the sprinklers and garden hoses thoughtfully positioned on the street by people whose houses lined the course. By the end of the race, my mom was soaking wet. The only advice I offered was for her to try to avoid getting her shoes wet. I knew from experience that wet shoes make for squeaky and uncomfortable running. And breeding ground for blisters. Other than that, I tried to let my mom do her own thing. We walked when she wanted to walk; ran when she wanted to run. I let her set the pace and tried to offer words of encouragement throughout. momandkristinfinish

My favorite memory from the race happened two miles out from the finish line, as we walked along Monona Bay. There was a woman spectaing from her front yard who cheered, Go runners! Then she looked at us and added, And walkers! My mom literally stopped in her tracks. Actually, we’re runners taking a walking break, she informed the woman matter-of-factly. I started cracking up. No you didn’t  just call my mom a walker. Needless to say, my mom will never live that one down.

Crossing the finish line with my mom was very special. We raised our hands together in the air with big smiles on our faces. We finished the race in 2:36:43. I’m so proud of my mom. She’s my hero. And the best part is, I don’t think her half-marathon days are over. As I suspected, she enjoyed the experience more than she thought and feels like she needs to try it again (under normal weather circumstances) to really see what she can do.

2 comments » | Family Fun, Racing and Training

Red Pepper Hummus Wrap & Quinoa Salad

June 3rd, 2010 — 1:33pm

june-2010-011As a devoted brown-bagger, I’m always searching for healthy lunch options beyond PB&J. I came across a nice alternative in a recent issue of Triathlete magazine. The recipe was submitted by Jessi Stensland, who serves the red pepper hummus wrap and quinoa salad lunch at her popular MovementU workshops. The recipe sounded particularly tasty and healthy, so I decided to give it a try.

I loved the red pepper hummus wrap—the vegetables provided crunch and fill, while the red pepper hummus added nice flavor. The quinoa salad, however, was disappointing. Despite the lime, mint, salt & pepper, and EVOO, the salad was still bland and flavorless. I’ll definitely make the wrap again, but the quinoa salad, while interesting in concept, still needs some tweaking. Overall, it’s a great lunch idea—especially this time of the year, when most of the ingredients are available at local farmers’ markets.

Red Pepper Hummus Wrap & Qunioa Salad with Lime and Fresh Mint

1 whole grain wrap
1/4 cup red pepper hummus
Sliced raw red bell pepper
Sliced raw cucumber
Handful of baby spinach

1 cup quinoa
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Lime juice
2-3 fresh mint sprigs
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper
Handful of quartered grape or cherry tomatoes

4 comments » | Kristin's Kitchen

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