Thursday, June 5, 2014


Current plans on the horizon: My nephew is graduating from high school tonight! Plus, my brother-in-law is celebrating a milestone birthday this week. Lots of family is in town this weekend and it's going to be a really fun couple of days.

On top of all the family festivities, I am running the Michelob Ultra 13.1 Half Marathon this Saturday. The plan is to just have fun, and to enjoy the scenery and course entertainment. Although, after two fatigue-induced failures to enjoy the Lou Malnati's pizza that they serve at the finish line party, this year I am determined to make amends. (Yes, everyone has different goals.)

What else? I'm heading to San Diego next weekend. I'll be running the LaDainian Tomlinson 5K (an oceanfront course!) next Saturday! More about that to come. But in the meantime, I really love this commercial that he is featured in, along with perennial favorite Troy Polamalu:

Currently nervous about: My next attempt at breaking my 5K PR, whenever that may be. I am not sure whether or not to go for it during next weekend's race. It'll probably be a race-time decision based on the crowds and how I'm feeling that morning.

Current nutritional discovery: Gummy vitamins! (Don't laugh.) Where have these been all of my life? They taste like candy. I am so full of vitamins now!

Current running fail: In all of my time as a runner, I've never gotten a black toenail. I know they are a very common occurrence, though. I think I read somewhere that upwards of 90% of runners get them. But I somehow managed to defy that statistic for many years.

Well, folks, things have changed. Let's just say that it's good thing that dark nail polish exists. And since I know that I am toeing the line on giving you TMI (no pun intended), we'll just leave it at that.

Current task that I want to shake up: My physical therapy routine. It's gotten to be very cumbersome doing the same stretches and exercises day in and day out. Blugh.

Current green-thumb endeavor: My mom brought me a strawberry plant a few weeks ago. It has already yielded a whole bunch of TINY little strawberries.

They are almost too cute to eat! But eat them I have, and they are delicious. There really is something to be said for eating fruit that is picked when it is completely ripe. I am looking forward to someday being able to have a garden where I can grow my own produce.

Current running shoe experiment: It's been my goal for quite some time to reduce the number of running shoes that I have. I'm down to a rotation of 2.5 pairs right now, with one additional pair waiting to join the rotation. (The 0.5 is attributable to my Brooks Ghost GTX shoes, which I only wear during inclement weather.) I've been really good about not looking at running shoe stores, et al.

However, I'd heard such great things about the Brooks PureFlows. Then I found out that the PureFlow 2 was available online for under $40. For a price like that, yours truly gave in and took the plunge.

A pair of these showed up at my door earlier this week.

The verdict? Super cushy and springy. Unfortunately, they are too narrow for me. My feet are on the wider side, but I have had success with both average-width and wide shoes. The PureFlows don't come in a wide size, though. So sadly, these are going back.

Current fitness experiment: The fitness center in my office recently began offering Zumba Step classes. I went yesterday for the first time. It was fun and invigorating. But, every time I looked in the mirror I was instantly reminded that Latin dancing is most definitely not my forte.

What to do? I let myself pretend to be graceful in my mind's eye by not looking at my reflection anymore. Works like a charm!

(Erica, do you remember when we talked about this tactic a few weeks ago? LOL)

Currently NOT watching: The Stanley Cup Finals. I just can't. (Adam relegated himself to the other room to watch Game 1 last night while I had old Law and Order episodes playing in the living room.)

It was heartbreaking that the Blackhawks came so close to advancing to the finals, only to lose Game 7 on a bad bounce in overtime. But, I am so proud of the team for battling to the finish, for their incredible character, for leaving absolutely everything on the ice. To borrow something that Katie said, the Hawks are always number 1 to me. No matter what.

It isn't all decoration just from me, either. The Hawks have overwhelmingly strong fan support across the board:

Can't wait for next season to start!

Currently cooking endeavors: Any kind of new grilling recipe. I've got a current mini-obsession with grilling any and all kinds of fruit. Recent experiments include grilled plums, pineapple, and banana. Next on the list: watermelon, apple, and strawberries.

It's too bad the Food Network is currently not airing any episodes of "Boy Meets Grill." Otherwise, I'd be loading up the DVR.

Currently wanting to try: A local burger joint that I just heard about named Butcher and the Burger. I caught a show last night called Burger Wars, and the place was featured with high acclaim.

Other local haunts on the dining list: Green Street Smoked Meats, Three Dots and a Dash, the Maxwell Street Market (for food and for shopping), Spacca Napoli Pizzeria, and Pequod's.

In terms of non-dining things, I want to try stand-up-paddleboard yoga and maybe some different types of barre classes.

Speaking of restaurants profiled on TV, I was on a kick for awhile where I wanted to visit all the places that Guy Fieri had featured on his "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" show. I've been to about five of them now. In my experience, though, the food always looks better on TV than it is in person. Sadness!


  1. Sorry about the Hawks. Oh well, they're young and they'll do well next year! Hey, I'll see at 13.1 on Saturday. Just wondering, are we meeting in the VIP area before the race? Last year when I won my 13.1 entry we got to go to the VIP area. Don't know if it is like that this year. In any case, I'm looking forward to it!

    1. Can't wait for the Hawks to start again next year! It was great to see you at the race this past Saturday! I've actually never found the VIP area for this race (Erica told me afterwards that this year it was to the left of the finish line. Kind of a bizarre spot.) Glad that we got our pre-race picture amidst the craziness of all the crowds. =)

  2. Do you have a favorite show that you DVR or do you have Netflix? I bribed myself with only being able to watch my favorite shows when I did my PT exercises. That was the extra push I needed.

    Good luck this weekend!

    1. Thanks, Katie! What a great idea on the DVR-PT connection! Unfortunately the shows that I do watch on DVR are all done for the summer. But - I like the concept of self-bribery, LOL. ANYTHING to get us going on PT exercises, right?

      BTW - I meant to tell you that Adam and I went to go see Cats at the Marriott Lincolnshire Theater a few weeks ago, after hearing about it from you! What a great theater!

  3. Spacca Napoli is in my 'hood, so let me know if you go and need company! Also, Guy Fieri visited Glenn's Diner on Montrose several years back, and I can vouch that they're pretty good (but I had gone there before it was on TV).

    Good luck at the 13.1 this weekend!

    1. Done!!! A few other friends have gone to Spacca Napoli and posted the most delectable-looking pictures of their food online - so I am really wanting to check it out for myself. Let's get a time on the calendar!!!

      Oooh, Glenn's Diner, eh? I wasn't aware of that place as a Guy Fieri joint. Will have to add that to the list, as well. =)

      I can't wait to hear more about your Ragnar experience!

  4. Good luck at the 13.1 this weekend!

    Completely agreed on the underwhelming Triple D experiences. I've also been to a few and the food was just meh. You should watch "chicagos best". We've slowly started going to places on that show and all have been delicious. (If you're craving potstickers and authentic northern Chinese food, I've got a place ;)

    Gummy vitamins are AWESOME!

    I think you could break your 5k PR. You just have to embrace the "discomfort" and know it's temporary. Doing some strides before the race + warmup will help too :)

    We must brunch soon after your travels :)

    1. Xaar, it was SO GOOD to see you along the course this past Saturday! Thanks again so much for coming out to spectate, taking such great photos, and joining Adele and me for a few miles! It was so much fun!

      Oooh, Chicago's Best, eh? I'll definitely have to look it up. As cool as DDD is, it does help to have more of a local spin on things, right? And I am ALWAYS craving potstickers and authentic northern Chinese food! Do you want to go there for our brunch the weekend of the 21st?

      Appreciate your confidence in my 5K PR breakage prospects! The warm-up is REALLY key, you are right. I also want to find a good 5K course that isn't too crowded and doesn't have a lot of turns!

    2. I'd definitely go back to the potsticker place for brunch with you :) it was so delish! (I also need to research northern Chinese cusine so I feel more confident next time)

      Chicagos best is on Sundays at 9 or 10pm on one of the local channels. I've been to a few of the places and have yet to be disappointed. :) I think you'll like the show.

      If you find a 5k around here to do, I might be able to run with you for your pR attempt. :) the Cankle is feeling better and I start some PT Friday. There's always 5ks out in grant park in the evenings during the summer. :)

    3. Yay! So excited! I LOVE potstickers. And I'm going to start setting my DVR for Chicago's Best. Incidentally - I watched a "Pizza Wars" show where they supposedly were trying to pick Chicago's best deep dish pizza, but they ended up going to a place in the suburbs, plus a thin-crust place! WTH?

      I am thrilled to hear that the cankle is doing better! That is really great news! Yes, I'll let you know if I find a good PR-attemptable 5K that I want to sign up for. Evening 5Ks are the best so I'll keep a lookout for those, especially. Otherwise, a nice fall 5K is always prime for PR attempts (plus gives me more time to do speedwork in preparation!) Thanks for being such an amazingly helpful friend!

  5. Have a great race! Looks like the weather will be good--hopefully not too hot. I gave my pizza away to the kids when I ran that one. No way can I eat something like that pot race. Shame. Black toenails are badass. Just saying.

    1. Thanks, Marcia! The weather ended up being very nice, although maybe a few degrees warmer than ideal. Very similar to the conditions we had for SF10 but a little warmer. I'll take it, though! Especially compared to some of the heatwaves we've had in years past during this race!

      I actually have a tough time understanding how people can drink beer after a tough race! The pizza is tough when you're exhausted, too. But this year I made it work. =)

      Yay for badass black toenails!!!

  6. OK, first of all - you've NEVER had a black toenail? I lost a few toenails marathon training. You are very lucky.

    That being said, I also envy your post half pizza this weekend. SO HARD! You have no idea. *Sigh* Why don't I live in Chicago?

    That strawberry plant looks delicious! I've done some fruit in the past, but they were never very successful (blueberry bushes, cantaloupe vines). However, my tomatoes, eggplants, green beans and herbs always do well. Must be the soil type around my parts.

    Do you pronate at all? I wonder how the pure flows are for those of us with mild/moderate pronation.

    And one last thing. Google recipes for grilled peaches drizzled with balsamic. Delicious (even more so with a side of ice cream, but I didn't say that).

    1. Yeah, this is my first-ever black toenail. I read somewhere that getting them indicates you've taken your training to the next level. I am fearing the prospect of this particular toenail falling off. Blugh.

      I agree, why don't you live in Chicago? Think about all the pizza!!! =D

      Oh wow, you've tried growing a cantaloupe? That sounds really hard-core! So awesome that you've had success with tomatoes, eggplant, green beans, and herbs, though! I have tried growing some herbs at home and have had success with a couple of hardy chive plants, but have NOT had success with basil, parsley, or cilantro. Sigh.

      I do pronate. It's kind of scary, actually, to see how much the outer edges of my running shoe soles wear out compared to the insides. Some of my running shoes end up sitting lopsided after I've worn them long enough!

      Grilled peaches with balsamic, with or without ice cream? YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!

  7. Bahhhh what precious little itty baby strawberries! I don't have a whole lot of complaints about city life, but man oh man do I wish I had the ability to have a garden. I'm not really a gardener at all, but just being able to grow my own food would be so nice. At least Trader Joe's sells herbs that'll survive for awhile in a pot without needing to go into the ground (I HATE buying fresh herbs -- so expensive, and in my experience, always so wasteful, since I usually have to throw most of the bunch away).

    Have a great race this weekend!

    1. Yes, the baby strawberries are pretty much the cutest fruit that I've ever seen! It'll be fun to watch the strawberries "mature" over time. =) I am so with you on wishing that I could have a garden, just because the quality really is so much better if you can pick it right before you eat it. I dislike buying fresh herbs, too. I cook with fresh basil a lot, but when I buy bunches from the store, it seems to go bad so quickly - within a day or two. I've tried growing basil at home a few times but have not had a lot of success, unfortunately (the bugs also seem to like the basil a lot, LOL!) I have a huge list of herbs that I'd like to be able to grow at home some day (sage, parsley, rosemary, cilantro, etc., etc., etc.) You too?

      I hope you had a great weekend too and that you have fully recovered from your stomach bug!!!

  8. No black toenails? Lucky!

    I'll go to the burger joint with you. :-)

    1. Yeah, my luck has officially run out. Sounds like you've had a few yourself, eh?

      Let's find a time to go to the burger place! Maybe sometime over the next few weekends?

  9. Welcome to the black toenail club! I have a longer 2nd toe (gross overshare, I know), and I think that makes me a little bit more susceptible. The worst time was after my first marathon. It was nasty and it felt weird and I gag just thinking about it. I've had a few black-ish toenails since, but they haven't been nearly as bad. Maybe I've gotten better about the sizing of my shoes?

    1. Yay for my initiation into the black toenail club! My second toe on my right foot is a bit long, too, so I understand. I try to keep the nail short so that it doesn't bump against the shoe as much, but it only helps marginally. I shudder to think about what happens when the nail eventually falls off. Blugh. And the funny thing is that my current shoes actually felt a bit looser compared to prior versions. Wonder if it's possible for shoes that are looser to also cause problems? BTW - CONGRATULATIONS on your 5K AG win this past weekend!!!

  10. I have SO MANY restaurants on my wish list. I wish my wallet and my waistline could afford to eat out more often!

    1. You and me, both, Erin! I almost feel like it's a waste that I live so close to all the posh restaurants on Randolph since I so rarely go to any of them. That aside, I've definitely seen too many cooking shows on TV to be comfortable dining out too frequently, as well. The quantities of butter, cream, and other rich ingredients used in restaurants just blows my mind!