Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I grew up in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where my backyard was a forest. I lived in a neighborhood, but the houses were separated by huge yards, interesting landscapes, and lots of trees. When I was young, summer nights were spent grilling out with the family and then getting together with all the neighborhood kids and playing night games.

I also remember being a pretty active kid. I got my first pair of roller blades when I was around 7 or 8. We had a gravel driveway, so I would have to run across the driveway in them, roll on the grass for a while to get to the paved road. This road, which also happened to be the road that I learned how to drive on in the winter, is super long and very steep at times, with "S" curves all through it and stretches for miles up the small mountain that I lived on. This is also the road that I learned to roller blade on. Since it was not the traditional flat pavement, I got to be pretty good pretty fast, having to maneuver the curves and watch out for pine cones and other forest debris. My neighbor friends and I would also use the pine cones as training tools. We would start at the bottom of a hill and, using the pine cones as markers, we would gradually work our way to the top measuring how far up we could start and go straight down the whole stretch without using our breaks. That was a rush!

One day, my neighbor friend and I were just having fun rollerblading around her way cool driveway. Unlike mine, it was paved, with a loop around it, on a steep hill with curves on the straight part. We decided that it would be really cool to have a ramp to go off of, so she went into her dad's work shed, grabbed some scrap wood, nails and a hammer, and built a sizable ramp. And it worked! We loved propelling ourselves off that thing. We situated it so that we could land in the grass in the middle of the driveway loop in case we missed the landing and fell. The grass was much nicer to fall on than the concrete. With a little practice, we got to be pretty good at going off this ramp, and we decided that we should create some new tricks. Then, after the other neighborhood kids saw our cool ramp, they all came over to try it out. We were all having a great time and decided that we should create a game in which we use the ramp. The game would be similar to tag and kick-the-can where one person was "It" and had to try to tag the other people. Once you were tagged, you had to go wait by the ramp and could be release only by a person who wasn't tagged who did a successful trick off the ramp. We called this game Ramp Round-Off, and it was so much fun. We played it almost every day all summer long. We played that game for many summers, and each year there were more rules and variations to keep it interesting. Sometimes the ramp broke and we would build a newer, better one. The game just kept evolving! It was so great.

Ever since living in Chicago, I've wanted to get a pair of roller blades. There is a paved pathway that runs along the entire lake shore that is perfect for long roller blades. Then, when one of my friends was planning a visit, she asked if I had any roller blades so that we could explore the lake shore. I got so excited that I promptly went out the next day and bought some!

Now that I'm living in an area of the city where I can pretty much walk wherever I need to go, I usually end up using my roller blades to get from A to B because it is so much faster. However, rollerblading in downtown Chicago is a little bit different than in the Black Hills. The roads and sidewalks are so crappy here that I really need to be careful and watch out for the large cracks that are everywhere along with the huge dips and bumps. Also, there are people every where, which makes it interesting. It was pretty scary at first, when I would blade at unfortunate rush hour times. The intersections get pretty crazy. Also, there are not a lot of other roller bladers in Chicago and I get a lot of funny looks as well as some crazy comments. All I'm thinking is that instead of walking for a half an hour or more like everyone else, I'm blading for 7 minutes or less! There are a few people who appreciate the blades. In fact, my super-nerdy Stats professor gave me a huge thumbs up and a "Niiice!" comment the other day after class when I was gearing up to go back to work on my blades.

After getting used to blading in the city, I now feel pretty comfortable and have gotten used to the many obstacles. My training in the hill has really payed off! The other day, when I was on my way to class, I was coming up to a major intersection, and was going to continue across, since the light was green and the pedestrian light was white. I made sure there were no walkers coming around the corner that I would run into. I saw a cyclist who was about to block the depression in the sidewalk that meets the road, we made eye contact, and being a fellow non-driving-commuter, he saw that I was going to go ahead and he stopped. However, while I was taking the 1.5 seconds to make sure the situation would be okay for me to cross, I did not notice that the sidewalk was uneven in front of me where the first chunk was depressed a few inches and the next chunk was elevated a few inches between the break in the sidewalk. My left blade ran straight into the raised part of the cement and was stopped on contact while the rest of my body was propelled forward, carried by my the momentum of my heavy backpack that flew over my body. My left knee slammed into the cement to stop my fall, and skidded across the pavement to halt my forward movement. I stopped in front of the cyclist whose mouth had dropped open. I got up, saw my bleeding knee through my ripped pants, and decided I was okay to keep going. I proceeded through the intersection and made it to class safely. But, I did have to sit there for 3.5 hours with a bleeding knee and ripped pants.

When you fall as a kid, on the grass, it's all fun and games. When you fall as an adult, near a busy intersection in front of strangers, you just look like an idiot. Luckily, I'll never see those people again!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Coffee: French Press

I love lazy Saturday mornings after a long work week. I sit at my laptop with my bottomless cup of coffee and catch up on emails and what's going on in the world, and let the caffeine take me to a state of relaxed alertness. We have at our disposal a plethora of ways to make coffee, and this morning I chose French press. It's so simple: add boiling water to freshly ground coffee; let it sit for five minutes; press, and voila, you have just made fancy coffee.

Isn't it funny how everyone has their own story about how they started drinking coffee? Nobody really likes it at first, but eventually, it grows on them or they become addicted. I always thought it smelled good, even when I was a little kid, but I never liked the bitter taste. It took me a long time to like coffee. I even started out on the sugary processed creations that you get at major coffee chains. Then, while living in Minneapolis, I discovered Kopplin's Coffee. They make the best latte I've ever had and their espresso is amazing! I thought it was even better than the coffee I had while in Europe. It was while spending many hours studying here that I learned that I do, in fact, like coffee. But apparently, I only like high end good quality coffee. Expensive taste has and always will be my intrinsic weakness.

Luckily my husband, who drinks way more coffee than me on a daily basis, prefers good quality coffee as well. Because of him I will always have many options to make my own fancy coffee and it will always be a bottomless cup of goodness. After drinking coffee all morning and early afternoon, what's next? A late afternoon shot of espresso. Yum!

Friday, May 14, 2010


I’m from Rapid City, SD – a small town with a population of about 100,000. Currently, I live in downtown Chicago – a city of about 3 million people in the city and about 10 million people in Chicagoland (which is just a fancy name for the whole city including the suburbs). It’s a pretty big contrast. Good thing I learned how to parallel park in college. Nope, they don’t require that skill in SD. Traffic is awful in Chicago and I have had to experience a little too much of that! Now that I live downtown, my driving stress level has decreased to almost nothing since I can walk practically everywhere I need to go. Now that I’m used to living in a large city, I have found that I quite enjoy the city life. There is always something going on, friends to hang out with, fun things to do, new restaurants to try, and new adventures around every corner.

I’ve taken up running as a new hobby. It feels so great to be in shape again! Well… getting in shape at least. I run downtown, on Wacker drive, by the river, and north and south along the lake shore. It’s fun and interesting to explore the city on foot! Here is the general area where I run:

Cooking is my other recent hobby. I love creating new dishes with fresh ingredients. I’ve recently been introduced to some great food blogs where I think I’ll be spending a lot of my time. I love most anything about food in general. I am an amateur coffee snob, and a recreational wine-o.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I love spinach. I could eat it multiple times a day, every day. I usually add it to most meals in some way. There are so many ways to prepare it. You can eat it fresh, plain, as the base of a salad, on your sandwich, in your soup, in your eggs, in your pasta dish, as a side dish, or mixed in with your main dish. You can sauté it, blanch it, steam it, or chop it multiple ways. You can buy it fresh, or you can buy it frozen. It’s usually cheap/affordable depending on how or where you buy it. It’s low in calories, fat and cholesterol. It’s high in protein, iron, fiber and calcium.
All good things, right? Yep, mostly. Spinach is also a mild diuretic and a mild laxative. Sometimes I eat so much spinach my poop turns green. Still, I love it and I will always eat a lot of it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A runner and a foodie? Okay...

While my newly self proclaimed title of a runner foodie may be an accurate generalization, these two entities are not equal parts of me, but together help me have a healthy lifestyle. In fact, I will probably end up writing more about food than running. While I do like running, I love being athletic and active in order to stay healthy. This is where food comes into the picture.

I value a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating is a huge part of that. I grew up eating very healthy foods and learning why they were healthy. When I was young, I was taught that there were certain foods I could eat at certain times of the day, depending on the schedule of my soccer practice or game that day. Certain foods are digested more easily or faster than others. Certain foods were good for quick energy and others would give me long term energy. Other foods were not good for me if I were to eat too much, but were just fine in moderation. As early as I can remember being able to eat, I was taught to eat with a purpose. I learned all of these eating habits early in life and have always eaten healthily because it is what I knew. I might also add that I have a sweet tooth. I love junk food and I love bacon, and I think it is okay to eat things that are not “healthy” as long as you are smart about it. That is where running comes into the picture. Well, not just running, but being active in general. Being healthy is about living an active lifestyle and eating healthily, which are my life long aspirations. I like being unhealthy too, and that's why this blog is about anything and everything related to being a runner and a foodie.