Archive for October 2011


Slow Pig Madison

October 31st, 2011 — 8:51am

october-2011-172Last night I attended Slow Pig, an event held at the Madison Club designed to celebrate “heritage pigs and the people who drive the movement.” The event was the brainchild of Chef Dan Fox from the Madison Club, and was put on by Fox & Fox and Slow Food Madison.

It was very interesting—I attended charcuterie school with Scott Buer from Bolzano Artisan Meats, watched Black Earth Meats’ artisan butchers Scott Evenson and Alberto Sanchez butcher a pig in less than five minutes, and sampled a wide variety of hand crafted products from Wisconsin chefs as part of the the Whole Pig Competition—including dishes like Heritage Pig Corn Dog with Foie Gras Mustard, Lacquered Bacon Roast Apple and Fig with Cider Cream and Raspberry Broth, and Molasses Cookies made with bacon fat. The restaurant winner was Chef Justin at Sanford, who certainly received my vote.

All in all, a great event. Lots of excitement for the movement toward a slower and more sustainable approach to pig, and some incredibly delicious and unique dishes. Here are several pictures I took during the evening:

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2 comments » | Madtown Lovin', Restaurant Reviews

Favorite Fall Recipes

October 28th, 2011 — 5:38am

Fall is my favorite time of the year to cook. After practically living on my bike the entire summer, fall is when my inner cook re-awakens and I want nothing more than to visit the farmers’ market Saturday morning and then hibernate in the kitchen for the weekend trying new recipes. There are so many great seasonal ingredients available in the fall—including pumpkins, squash, apples, potatoes, and cranberries. In the coming weeks, I’m hoping to bake cider donuts, an apple pie, and try to find a good recipe for pumpkin curry soup. In the meantime, I dug through my recipe archives to find my all-time favorite fall recipes. Here they are. All tried-and-true.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese Quiche
Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Maple Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Moroccan-Style Stuffed Acorn Squashes
Lentil Vegetable Soup
Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Spaghetti Squash
Wild Rice and Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
Baked Butternut Squash with Sausage and Apples
Fettuccine with Pumpkin, Shitakes, and Mascarpone
Pumpkin Ravioli
Pumpkin Pancakes
Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Pumpkin Cookies
Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Kauai Travel Log

October 26th, 2011 — 12:06pm

Two weeks on Kauai and it went a little somethin’ like this…

Monday (Oct. 10)
Arrived to Kauai (from Kona) early-evening
Dinner at Olympic Cafe

Tuesday (Oct. 11)
Breakfast at Kountry Kitchen
Visited Spouting Horn Beach Park
Lunch at Puka Dog (Hawiian Style Hot Dogs)
Snorkeled at Po’ipu Beach Park
Visited Maha’ulepu Beach

Wednesday (Oct. 12)
Hiked Na Pali Coast (Kalalau Trail from Ke’e Beach to Hanakapi’ai Beach)
Visited Lumahai Beach
Explored the town of Hanalei and enjoyed shaved ice
Visited the Hanalei Taro fields (root used for poi)
Dinner at Caffe Coco

Thursday (Oct. 13)
Breakfast/coffee at Java Kai
Visited Waimea Canyon State Park
Visited Koke’e State Park and museum
Looked out over Kalalau Valley
Visited Wai’ale’ale (Wettest Spot on Earth)
Lunch at Paco’s Tacos (in Hanapepe)
Ice cream at Lappert’s
Visited Kauai Coffee Estate
Visited Wailua Falls
Enjoyed fresh fish tacos for dinner

Friday (Oct. 14)
Breakfast/coffee at Java Kai
Hiked the Nounou Moutain trail (Sleeping Giant)
Pool time
Dinner at Mermaids Cafe

Saturday (Oct. 15)
Breakfast/coffee at Java Kai
Visited Tunnels (Makua) Beach
Shopped Hanalei Farmers’ Market
Dinner at Scotty’s BBQ

Sunday (Oct. 16)
Ran from Kauai Lagoons to the Ninini Point Lighthouse
Explored the natural lava tubes
Pool time
Dinner at Kilauea Bakery and Pau Hana Pizza

Monday (Oct. 17)
Visited Kealia Beach
Lunch at Mermaids Cafe

Tuesday (Oct. 18)
Unfruitful multiple-day quest for Kauai Malasadas
Hiked/ran the Alakai Swamp Trail
Taco Tuesdays at Duke’s
Hot tub time

Wednesday (Oct. 19)
Breakfast at Ono Family Restaurant
Shipwreck Beach
Lunch at Pizzetta (Happy hour Mai Tais)
Farmers’ Market in Po’ipu in Kukui’ula Village

Thursday (Oct. 20)
Wailua River kayak trip to Uluwechi Falls (Secret Falls)
Appetizers at Shrimp Station
Dinner at Caffe Coco

Friday (Oct. 21)
Rented bikes and rode along the coast near Kapa’a

Saturday (Oct. 22)
Breakfast/coffee at Java Kai
Depart Kauai mid-morning on return flights to Madison

Comment » | Vacation and Travel

Happy to be Home

October 24th, 2011 — 9:14am

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Upon returning to Madison yesterday, I took a final picture with my friends and travel partners, Lauren and Brodie.

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Then I came home to a wonderful surprise at my apartment!

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And a fabulous welcome home dinner! It’s so great to be home.

Comment » | Vacation and Travel

Kauai Sunrises

October 20th, 2011 — 9:30am

Comment » | Vacation and Travel

Ironman Race Report (Part 3 of 3)

October 19th, 2011 — 9:21am

dsc00747The first 12 miles of the marathon are an out-and-back on Ali’i drive. It’s the more exciting part of the run course, since it features occasional ocean views and a plethora of spectators. I was moving along at what felt like a good pace—certainly not fast, but less of a shuffle than during transition. Instead of focusing on my watch or the marathon pace band I had printed and laminated for the occasion, I opted to go strictly by feel. I just wasn’t feeling good enough to push it more than that.

My most immediate priority was to rehydrate. I felt like I had taken in enough calories during the bike, but clearly my hydration had been lacking. For the first several aid stations during the run, I grabbed both a cup of water and a cup of Gatorade. I also continued popping SaltStick capsules religiously. After I felt like I had gotten the hydration situation under control, I began to alternate between a cup of Gatorade, and water and a PowerBar gel at every fourth or fifth station. I also dumped ice water on my head and stuffed ice and cold sponges down my sports bra—a strategy that seemed to provide temporary relief from the hot sun.dsc00723

I saw Larry and Lauren’s parents twice on Ali’i drive—on the way up and also on the way back down. I was excited to see Larry since I hadn’t seen him since the early parts of the bike. On the way down Ali’i drive, I was surprised when a few spectators sitting near Larry and Lauren’s parents shouted, “Go Larry’s fiance!” This cracked me up. It seemed like something Larry had orchestrated, but I was surprised to later learn Lauren’s dad had put them up to the task. Anything that makes me smile during such grueling discomfort is definitely a highlight.

After the stretch on Ali’i drive, it was time to yet again face the monster that is the Queen K highway—the place where Ironman dreams are both made and crushed. The rest of the course is an out-and-back on the long, flat, hot, lava field- surrounded, asphalt highway. I very slowly ticked away the miles on my way out to the Energy Lab, the well-known turnaround point. One thing I hadn’t remembered from 2009 is that athletes don’t receive their run special needs bag until about mile 17—much later than other Ironman races. It’s a good thing a few of the aid stations were handing out PowerBar gels, because by mile 14, I had run out of my supply and needed calories badly.dsc00772

I spotted Brodie just before entering the Energy Lab. He was drinking a beer and having a merry ol’ time with a new friend and his borrowed boat of a bike. It was great to see him, and he cheered for me very loudly.

Despite its reputation as a treacherous part of the marathon, I always enjoy running in the Energy Lab. It’s a long stretch of road toward the ocean followed by a turn and another half-mile or so to a festive aid station and final turnaround. On the way back, I grabbed my special needs bag, from which I pulled out PowerBar Gels and SaltStick capsules. From there, I was on my way home, back down the Queen K toward Kona.

I picked up the pace during the last several miles of the run. These were easily my fastest of the marathon. I was hurting, but knowing it was almost over propelled me forward. Coming into town was exhilarating. I could hear the cheers near the finish line from a mile or two out. Luckily, from my experience during the 2009 race, I knew the course features a few final turns in town before eventually winding down to the finish line. As I ran the final stretch on Ali’i drive toward the finish chute that was glowing like the gates of heaven, I tried to take it all in—the cheers, the people, all of the finish line excitement. Unable to tell where the actual finish line was, I continued running until volunteers caught me and told me I could stop. My parents later joked that I was the only athlete, of the hundred or so they watched cross the finish line from the live internet coverage, that didn’t stop running once crossing the finish line. All I can say is that sometimes it’s hard to stop after 140.6 miles.dsc00784

I finished in 11 hours and 12 minutes. My swim was 1:06, bike 5:55, and run 4:00. I would say I’m content with my finish. I’m not overly impressed, but I’m also not disappointed. I figure there’s two ways to look at it—on the good side, I took nearly 30 minutes off my finish time from the last time I did Kona. But on the other side, my time was about 30 minutes slower than my Ironman PR. Either way, I’ll take it.

Thank you so much to everyone who supported me during this entire journey—through the long, hard training days and during the race itself. I am forever grateful.

And now it’s time to move on to the next chapter in my life.

4 comments » | Racing and Training

Ironman Race Report (Part 2 of 3)

October 17th, 2011 — 9:18am

The first part of the 112-mile journey is the most exciting. The bike course weaves throughout Kona, with spectators lining the streets. Larry, Brodie, and Lauren’s parents were stationed at a point in town where they could catch us twice. For most spectators, it’s the only time they’ll catch a glimpse of athletes until the out-and-back course returns riders to Kona later that afternoon. And for athletes, it’s the last they’ll see of human life (other than fellow riders and a few brave spectators) for the next 4-8 hours.

The first two hours of the bike were mentally challenging. Since biking continues to be my weakest link of the three events, I was passed incessantly. Mostly by men, but also by many women and large packs of riders. I was riding at a good pace on the way out—the terrain was relatively flat and I found a comfortable position tucked up on my aero bars. It was already warming up with the sun rising and reflecting off the black lava fields and asphalt road. My friend later told me that one report indicated a reading of 130 degrees from the asphalt.

I focused on nutrition throughout the race, but especially during the early parts of the bike. I wanted to make sure I refueled from the swim (which surely took more out of me than I realized) and set myself up well for the long day ahead. The most important part of my plan was two SaltStick capsules every hour (215 mg of sodium per capsule). As many Ironman athletes know, increased salt consumption is critical to minimizing cramping and heat stress due to imbalanced electrolyte levels—especially on a hot day. During the bike, I also consumed plenty of Ironman Perform sports drink, six PowerBar gels, a pack of Clif Shot Bloks, and two PowerBars. At each aid station, I slowed to top off my aero water bottle with Ironman Perform, and to sip and dump a bottle of water on my head.

For the most part the bike ride was lonely, and the landscape extremely desolate. I’m sure my mind wandered a lot. There were still athletes passing me, and the occasional pack of riders, but over time even this tapered off. It was exciting to see the race leaders fly by on the other side of the road on their way back to Kona. I couldn’t make out who was who, but they sure were going fast, with camera crews, electronic timing boards, and race officials hugging their every move.

The long climb to Hawi (the bike turn around) was one of the more exciting and challenging parts of the race. The incline lasted for miles, and the headwind was so powerful, I was barely moving. But there was light on the other side of the tunnel. The riders who had reached the top were now flying down the hill on the other side of the road at breathtaking speeds. And so I chugged along, knowing the same reward awaited me on the other side. But when I did eventually reach the top and start the descent, I was taken a back by the strong cross winds. I was cruising down the hill at 35+ miles per hour, but feeling like I was going to be blown off my bike by the strong winds coming off the ocean. I was scared. And so I backed off a bit with a more conservative position off my aero bars. I figured it gave me a bit more control.

Sadly, the descent came to an end far too soon and then I was back at it—fighting head winds and traversing slow, long climbs on the way back to Kona. At least I was on my way in, but I could feel the heat and its effects setting in. The last 40 miles were much slower and tougher, although it’s probably the only time during the bike that I actually passed a few riders. I continued to go by large sandwich boards marking the distance in miles and kilometers. When I reached mile 85, the distance remaining seemed do-able—just like a Paoli loop back in Madison. I passed several landmarks on my way back into town—the airport and the energy lab, where amazingly, the men’s race leader, Craig Alexander, was turning around for the final stretch of eight miles of the marathon. He appeared to have quite a lead. And despite the hot afternoon sun, he cruised along seemingly effortlessly. I was blown away. He was almost finished with the run, and I hadn’t even gotten off my bike!

The last few miles were great—mostly downhill into the transition area. I had a bit of trouble with my dismount, but eventually made it off my bike and ran through transition. I was in rough shape. To say I “ran” through transition is a bit of an exaggeration—it was definitely more of a shuffle. I felt better than I did at that point in the race in 2009, but not much. My feet ached, I was stiff as a nail, incredibly dehydrated, and unbelievably hot. Now you must go run a marathon, I said to myself. This transition felt quicker than the one after the swim—I grabbed my transition bag, pulled off my helmet and sunglasses, threw on my visor, and grabbed a new supply of PowerBar gels and SaltStick capsules. I took a quick bathroom break (where I quickly realized the extent of my dehydration) and then made my way to the start of the run course.

1 comment » | Racing and Training

Ironman Race Report (Part 1 of 3)

October 15th, 2011 — 9:46am

dsc005701Though I’d like to believe I was calm and collected heading into Saturday’s Ironman World Championship, the insomnia that plagued me for two nights before the race leads me believe I was, in fact, a bit nervous. I thought having done the race in 2009 would give me added confidence and the ability to relax, but knowing what was ahead of me only sent my nerves on overdrive.

Race morning started off like any other, just after 4 a.m. with coffee and a bagel with peanut butter. I put on my race uniform, applied sunscreen, and carefully velcroed my timing chip strap to my right ankle—being sure to safety pin the ends together as I had been instructed to do during registration. Once we were ready, we got in the car with Lauren’s dad (“Stretch”) for a ride to the race site. The morning sky was dark and still, but I could hear the ocean waves rushing into shore.number8

One of my favorite parts of the World Championships is the body marking, which is done, not with a flimsy Sharpie, but with real ink and stamps. I was branded #1735. From there, we were herded to the weighing station, where I came in at a solid 140. Then it was over to the transition area to check on my bike and put air in my tires with a borrowed pump.

With all of the necessary pre-race steps out of the way, I sat and waited in front of a giant inflated Ironman Perform drink bottle to meet Larry for our farewell. I stretched and pulled on my Zoot Ultra Speedzoot, which I had been very lucky to obtain from a friend of a friend, compliments of Zoot. I didn’t technically need it, but most athletes would be racing in a similar skinsuit, so it gave me peace of mind knowing I’d be wearing the same. There are no wetsuits allowed during the ocean swim at the World Championships because the water is too warm. And unfortunately, my skinsuit from 2009, along with many others, had since been banned. There was no way I was going to drop another $200-300 on a legal version. So I couldn’t have been more thankful, relieved, and happy to be given the opportunity to race in a Speedzoot.

Larry arrived with the others just in time, as I was beginning to think about heading toward the water. He helped me zip up my skinsuit and I hugged him tightly. With a few final words of encouragement and support from Larry, I was off toward the water.

I slowly waded into the turquoise-colored ocean. I intended to do a short warm-up swim and then return to the beach until closer to the start. But as I reached the train of paddle boarders swimming back and forth to mark and secure the start line, I decided to stay put and tread water for the final 10-15 minutes until the start. More and more athletes crowded in around me as legs and arms began to collide, and nervous laughs ensued. And then, without much of a warning, the cannon blew and we were off.dsc00606

I was unusually nervous for the swim. Memories of the swim from 2009 stuck out clearly in my mind. The large clusters of people swimming on top of each other. The aggressiveness. Feeling like I was going to pulled down under the masses and not be able to make it back up. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced. But luckily, this time was different. I managed to keep my goggles in tact and avoid any kind of injury or unwanted excitement. When I did encounter large masses of people, like around each of the buoys, I kept my head down and my stroke consistent. There were a few sizable waves, but nothing that threw me off too much. For the most part, I tried to get in pace behind another swimmer and feed off the draft.

It was a relief to reach the turnaround (a big boat with several people on deck) of the out-and-back course. Although I felt like I had been swimming at a decent pace, I was surprised by how much energy I still had left—which, I reminded myself, was a good thing since I still had a long day ahead.  After the turnaround, the little things started to bother me—most notably, the raw chaffage from my skinsuit rubbing against my armpits stroke after stroke, and the taste of saltwater overpowering my mouth. But I pushed through the discomfort knowing I was on my way back to shore.

The most adrenaline-inducing part of the swim was about half-way back to shore when I swear I saw sharks circling quite a ways below me. Sure, I could have been hallucinating, and perhaps they were only big fish, but they looked like sharks to me. And suddenly everyone around me started swimming a bit faster. I wasn’t terribly worried because I figured there were lots of swimmers to pick from if the sharks were truly hungry. But luckily, we were all spared. And a few minutes later, they were gone.greys_brothers

It’s always exciting to hear and see the transition area, and know I’m on the final stretch. I swam until my arms hit sand, and then pulled myself from the water and climbed the set of five turf-covered stairs into transition. Then it was through an assembly line of sorts. I grabbed an overhead hose and rinsed my body of salt water. Then I reached for my transition bag, which was hanging from a peg amongst many other carefully ordered bags, and ran toward the female changing tent. There, I plopped down on a metal folding chair and threw the contents of my bag on the floor to sift through. I clumsily pulled on my compression calf sleeves, rubbed a fresh coat of Shammy Cream on my nether regions, and reached for my salt tablets, bike shoes, and sunglasses. I ran through a maze of bikes until I was able to locate mine toward the back. Standing close-by was Kate, a friend from Madison who works for Ironman, who cheered as I threw on my helmet and ran off toward the bike exit. It was nice to see a familiar friendly face before I began the long desolate journey ahead.

1 comment » | Racing and Training

Kona Underwear Run

October 14th, 2011 — 9:18am

dsc00554It’s not every day I post pictures of myself in my underwear on the internet. But I figured the Kona Underwear run was a fitting occasion worth bearing it all. After missing the festivities in 2009, I decided this time I would not leave the big island without having partaken in the famed Kona Underwear Run. And so I picked up a pair of $2 Hawaiian-themed underwear at Target before I left and mentally prepared for the idea of publicly exposing myself in my underwear.

This year’s 14th annual Kona Underwear Run took place the Thursday before the Ironman World Championships. It’s a silly tradition that was originally started to poke fun at and discourage athletes from parading around town in Speedos (aka “banana hammocks”). The locals were a little perturbed and frightened by such frequent spotings at restaurants and grocery stores. But more than anything, the underwear run is a rare opportunity for athletes, largely type-A, most of whom are extremely anxious for the biggest race of the season, to let loose and have a little fun. It’s a respite from training, heart rate monitors, diets, and all other things serious. The event has also become a big fundraiser for several local charities. dsc00502

The morning’s festivities began with a special Kona Underwear Run oath, led by well-known triathlon insiders, Paul Huddle and Roch Frey. More than 1,000 athletes joined the fun by raising their right hand and repeating the silly oath. Following our fearless leaders, we then took to the streets of Kona, every man, woman, and child for herself. We ran, walked, laughed, took a short break for calisthenics, and took plenty of pictures. It was an unforgettable experience.dsc00497

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1 comment » | Racing and Training

Kona: Ready for Round Two

October 4th, 2011 — 10:51am

october-2011-083According to the online countdown, there are precisely 3 days, 8 hours and 43 minutes until the start of the 2011 Ironman World Championships. Later this afternoon, I leave for Kona with two of my closest friends, Lauren and Brodie (Lauren is also racing). We fly from Madison with stops along the way in Chicago and Seattle (with an overnight layover), finally arriving in Kona on Wednesday.

I’m packed, tapered, and feeling good. Although I had a slow start this season, I did pick up the volume and pace in July and trained hard through September. Despite more demands on my time this season than ever before (namely a boyfriend and a new job with a busy season that coincides with my hardest training weeks), I feel more ready than I did the last time I traveled to Kona in 2009. This time I know the course, I know more of what to expect in general, I have a new-ish bike, I have a friend who let me borrow her time trial bike to ride the past two weeks while my bike was on its way to Kona, and I have two ultramarathons and plenty of track workouts under my belt. I’m proud to say I did it all without a coach or any kind of training plan. I worked hard and methodically ticked off the workouts and miles I knew I needed to feel good come race day. iron_swim

It’s going to be tough. The conditions last time were brutal. But I’m going to give it my all. After all, who knows if I’ll have the opportunity to race in Kona again. I hope so, but you just never know. I am planning to take a break from Ironman distance triathlons after this year to pursue other interests. I want to learn how to salsa dance, cyclo-cross bike race, complete a 100-mile ultramarathon, learn how to scuba dive, and, you know, plan a wedding. I love training for and competing in Ironmans, but they do consume a ton of time. And with this being my 8th Ironman, I just need a break. Which gives me all the more motivation to give it everything I’ve got this time. kauai

Larry will be joining us in Kona for three days to watch the race. I couldn’t be more excited. For those of you who are teachers, you’ll know it was no easy feat for him to get the days off work for the trip. To know he’s out there on race day will give me extra motivation and comfort.

After the race, Lauren, Brodie, and I will stay in Kona for one more day to recover and celebrate with all of the other athletes, and then we head to the island of Kauai for two weeks of vacation. I’ve never been to Kauai, but have heard nothing but positive reviews. Lauren and Brodie lived on the island for a year about five years ago, so it’s great they’ll know the island and plenty of things for us to do.

So with that, I’m signing off. If you have any interest in following the race, I’m #1735. Live race coverage will be available on Saturday at ironmanlive.com. The race starts at 7 a.m. (which is noon in Wisconsin). Thanks for all of your cheers and well wishes. They mean the world to me. Mahalo. A hui hou kakou.

1 comment » | Racing and Training, Vacation and Travel

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