Sunday, July 31, 2011

19 miles in Chicago

Today I ran 19 miles for my marathon training! It was long and hard, but I did it!!!

I completed my run in the evening so that I could spend time with Bryan this morning before he went to Cleveland. I waited until just before 5pm so that the temperature would decrease as I ran. It was actually pretty pleasant out compared to many recent runs!

My long run last week was extremely difficult and I hit a major wall with 3 miles left to go. I could not finish and it was miserable. I was determined to not let that happen again! With these long runs that I've been doing, I've discovered that I'm a very salty sweater! Anytime after mile 10, if I rub my arms or legs, they have a thin layer of exfoliation (solidified salt crystals from sweat) all over my skin. When I do these long runs, the salt builds up so much and that means that my body is totally depleted of electrolytes and that is the very reason why I bonked and hit a wall last week. This week I tried Nuun tabs (electrolyte tabs) that dissolve in water and I was thoroughly impressed! My legs got tired near the end of my run, yes, but the rest of my body felt great, which I had not yet experienced after 14 miles yet. What a nice feeling knowing that you have the mental energy to keep going, even if your legs are killing you!

The majority of my run was along the lakefront and it was a beautiful evening for a run! After I came home, I enjoyed leftovers from our date night at Market last night. MMM! Good food in my belly! Now I'm sitting with my compression socks on and taking intermittent breaks to massage my legs with my stick!!!


Bryan and I were able to enjoy a date night while he was home for 30 hours! We decided to try a restaurant near us on Randolph called Market. It's in a fun location and has a rooftop, sports bar, beer garden and patio. The food and drinks were absolutely amazing! We split a caesar salad and an appetizer of mac n cheese mini muffins topped with a sweet BBQ sauce that were to die for! Bryan had a burger with ham, onions, cheese and a fried egg and I had a turkey bacon avocado burger. Both were huge and delicious. Needless to say, I have plenty of leftovers to get me through tonight no problem!!

Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

For Bryan's homecoming, I also wanted to make a special dessert. I had bookmarked this one from a few weeks back, and knew it would be perfect considering the combination of peanut butter and chocolate. I've been crazy for peanut butter desserts this summer!

This pie is insanely delicious! Each bite literally melts in your mouth into a smooth, creamy, peanut buttery slice of heaven. And the homemade Oreo crust makes each bite perfection. It's the perfect summer dessert that is perfect for any time of the day! I think I'll enjoy a piece right now because I just can't get enough of it!

Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker


For the Crust:
1¾ cups chocolate cookie crumbs (about 20 Oreos)
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of salt
For the Filling:
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1¼ cups creamy peanut butter (not chunky or natural)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
For the Topping Drizzle:
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1. To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the cookie crumbs, brown sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add the butter and toss with a fork until all of the crumbs are moistened. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, then bake until set, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
2. To make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the peanut butter and vanilla. Wipe out the mixing bowl, switch to the whisk attachment and whip the heavy cream on medium-high until soft peaks form. Stir 1/3 of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture to lighten it up. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the remaining whipped cream. Transfer the filling to the cooled crust and spread in an even layer. Freeze uncovered for at least 4 hours or up to 1 day covered with plastic wrap.
3. To garnish the pie: Put the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30 second increments at 50% power, stirring after each. Continue until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Transfer to a resealable plastic bag and snip a tiny bit off the corner. Hold the bag over the pie and drizzle the melted chocolate in a zig-zag pattern. Melt the peanut butter in the microwave using the same method used for the chocolate. Add the melted peanut butter to a resealable plastic bag, snip off a corner and drizzle over the pie. Let stand for about 10 minutes to set. Return to the freeze if not serving immediately.
4. Remove the pie from the freezer about 10-15 minutes before you are ready to serve. If you have trouble cutting it, running your knife under warm water will help. Cover leftovers tightly with plastic wrap and foil, and store in the freezer.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce

For Bryan's homecoming, I wanted to plan a tasty breakfast! My love for pancakes sent me on a search for the perfect pancake to try. I'd been intrigued by quite a few lemon ricotta recipes lately, so I did a simple search and found these lovely babies!

They were totally awesome! While they are super thick, they are light, fluffy and have a light lemon zing that is perfect for the summer! The blueberry sauce adds an element of homeyness which was perfect for the occasion on a lazy Saturday morning! We accompanied the pancakes with a side of turkey bacon and endless cups of coffee to recover from the late night drive home!

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod


To make the blueberry sauce:
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and cornstarch and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and stir in lemon juice and cornstarch mixture. Stir until the sauce thickens slightly.  Cover to keep warm and set aside.
To make the pancakes:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon canola oil
1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together ricotta cheese, egg, egg whites, lemon juice, lemon zest, and canola oil. Gently fold this mixture into the dry ingredients until flour disappears. Don't over mix. The batter will be thick.
3. Heat a griddle or a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray.  Drop about 1/3 cup of batter onto the hot griddle or skillet. Cook the pancakes until browned on the underside and beginning to set, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook the pancakes on the other side, about two minutes longer. Continue making pancakes until batter is gone. Serve warm with blueberry sauce.

New Computer, New Camera!

This weekend was nothing short of awesome. I drove back to Minnesota to pick up Bryan at the end of his away rotation! YAY! We got back to Chicago late Friday night/early Saturday morning and were lucky enough to spend the weekend together before he left this morning to drive to Cleveland for another month-long rotation. At least we're half way done with this away stuff!!

I also got to pick up my new computer that Bryan bought while there. I got a new MacBook Air and I LOVE it!! It's super thin, sleek, light and super duper FAST!

We made another purchase this month: a camera! We can't yet afford a sweet DSLR, so we got the next best thing: a Nikon Coolpix L120. I'm hoping my photos will be much more enticing now that I can not only see what I'm taking a picture of, but also the quality will be much better!

It also has quite the zoom capabilities!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pizza Farm and a Surprise Proposal!

One of the most memorable parts of my trip to Minnesota last week was going to A to Z Produce (Aka, Pizza Farm) to help celebrate the engagement of some of our best friends! The pizza farm is set about an hour and a half southeast of the Twin Cities, in Wisconsin. It is a normal family farm that they so graciously open up to the public on Tuesdays during the summer months. They grow all the produce on the farm to make the pizzas and make them from scratch on the spot! The idea is that you arrive early, put in your order for one of the pizzas they have on their weekly menu depending on what produce they have, and you expect to wait a good hour to hour and a half for your pizza. The crowd was pushing 400 people, so it's no wonder the wait is so long. You are expected to bring your own setup including blankets, side dishes, plates, utensils, drinks and some people even go fancy with tables and centerpieces! While you wait for your pizza, people generally socialize, play games and explore the farm a bit. BTW, I took all these photos from Facebook, since I didn't take any photos while I was there, and these are just perfect :) They were taken by Rob and Sarah's friend Josh Anderson who is an awesome photographer (check out his website here)!

It's absolutely gorgeous!

Our group of friends had received an email titled "A Top Secret Proposition" that detailed the night's events. Sarah thought she had planned a date night for her and Rob. What she did not know is that Rob had already planned the night at the pizza farm before she even suggested a date night there! They would go early for a date night, Rob would propose, he had a secret code with the owner to order a bunch of pizzas for the group of us coming, and we would all show up an hour later for an impromptu engagement celebration! How exciting!

The plan worked stunningly! Just look at the expression on her face when people showed up! Rob even sent the email to both of their sets of parents who drove many hours for the occasion!

That's me!!

I arrived with a friend (Bryan was stuck in a very long surgery and couldn't make it) a little late to find the happily engaged couple just glowing and surrounded by all of our wonderful friends. They literally could not stop smiling! It was so adorable and I'm incredibly excited for these two!!!

Love you Sarah and Rob!

What a happy night :)

8 + 8 + 16 in Minneapolis

Last week, I went to Minneapolis to visit Bryan while he's on his urology rotation for the month of July. I tried my hardest to keep up with my marathon training, but it was very difficult with the heat wave that is still going through the midwest.

Sorry no photos on this post - I didn't take my phone with me due to rain, heat and humidity!

Wednesday's run was a good 8 miles. I did two smaller loops in a warm drizzle around Lake Nokomis. This time, I didn't even care that the water fountains were so sparce. I wasn't overheating, so I felt totally fine! That made me feel better about my training!

Saturday's 8 mile run was pretty miserable. At 7am the temperature was already 82 with intense humidity. I contemplated getting up super early and running then, but the temperature was 80 at 5am and 81 at 6am. I figured that I'd rather sleep two more hours than get up and run in only two degrees cooler weather. The humidity in Minneapolis is totally insane in the summer and it makes it feel so much more hot outside! I made it the whole 8 miles, but I had to stop and walk more often that I usually do and when I got home I was just exhausted.

I was quite nervous about Sundays 16 mile run because the weather was expected to be worse. There was a heat advisory out and the heat index was supposed to be around 115, so I knew that it was going to be rough, no matter how early I started. I planned a route that included 2 loops around Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet that were 6.8 miles and then once around Lake Harriet at the end would equal approximately 16 miles. Well, I decided before I left that I was going to be safe over all other things, and I knew there was a great chance that I would not complete the run. And I was okay with it. I started running, with my water bottle in hand, and within 5 minutes I could have wrung out my sports bra. There were lines of sweat/condensation drips that were hanging off of the bottom of my arms that swayed with me as I ran. Since the dew point and temperature were already so high, my sweat would not evaporate off of me. It was like running in a steam room. It was awful. I just tried to get into some sort of groove, but it was very hard. Everytime I was under some shade or a water fountain, I took a quick break to try to cool down just a little bit. I was surprised at how many people were out braving this heat! Every person just looked miserable and everyone was running sluggishly. I ended up making it around the loop for the first time and took a break by the car to refill my water bottle and take a Gu gel. I was feeling okay after my break. I started out for the hellish second loop. I made it just less than half way around and decided to turn around because I felt like my body was overheating. I didn't want to get to the point where I was lightheaded, weak or even slightly faint because I didn't have my phone on me (I took it on the first loop, but it froze within 5 minutes due to the heat/humidity). It seemed to take forever to get back to my car and once I did, I could barely stand the heat anymore. I think I ended up running about 13 miles all together, but I felt like I had ran about 20. I was so happy to get home, take a cold shower, and put on my compression socks!!

The rest of the afternoon was spent watching the Women's World Cup final soccer game, eating good food and drinking LOTS of water!

Running Gear

New running shoes are one of my favorite things to get! I fell in love with my first pair of Saucony’s this past year and decided to get another pair instead of my lifelong line of Asics. I guess I’m officially a Saucony convert. I was long overdue for a new pair of shoes, so I was super excited to finally get some! Check out these beauties!

They fit like a glove, are super comfortable, and I’m lucky to love the colors! You know, you can’t pick running shoes by the color because sometimes you only have one choice. I was very happy when I opened the box to try the newest line of shoes to see white, black and blue. Oh, and with a cute pink stripe on the bottom. I don't like pink that much, but it's cute on the bottom I guess. All around, it’s like they were made just for me!

I also purchased a few other items of running gear! I’ve wanted compression socks after reading about them here, here and here on SkinnyRunner, especially being sore after long marathon training runs. Compression socks are supposed to help increase blood return and the idea is that your legs will recover faster after a long run. They’re also supposed to be good for traveling or when you are sitting down for long periods of time. I went for a long run in Minneapolis (post coming up), and put these babies on for the afternoon. They are tough to get on because they are so tight, but let me tell you how awesome these socks are! I immediately felt relief to my legs and I couldn’t stop smiling all afternoon! I didn’t even care that I looked like a total nerd wearing a dress and compression socks while watching the Women’s World Cup Final. Come on, I was with my husband and there was no one to impress – he’s stuck with me and my weird quirkiness! I didn’t wear them in public outside, mostly because the heat index was around 120 not because I looked weird. My brother-in-law made fun of me and I didn’t even care because my legs felt completely awesome within hours! So there, my spiel on compression socks is over – they are awesome and I’m so glad I finally have a pair (in black)!


Another awesome purchase was my marathon stick! It’s basically a stick with handles on both sides and large beads across the middle that helps the stick form to your leg, and you are able to massage out any stiff muscles or leg cramps. It seriously felt so good to work out some of the tightness in my thighs. I think it also aided in the recovery process too!

Yay for new running gear!

Mac Lion Operation System!

My blog is still taking a backseat to my life, until I can get a new computer. Thank you Apple for finally releasing the new Lion operating system!!! I’ve been desperate and checking websites for updates on the Macbook for months! This purchase will likely be made this weekend or next week! Actually, I think Bryan will end up getting one for me in Minneapolis since sales taxes are so much cheaper there than Chicago. Here, the tax rate is currently 10.25% and is the highest rate in the US. You can’t get away from sales tax on small everyday items, but when we decide to make large purchases, the added 10.25% really adds up! Therefore, we tend to wait and buy these certain items in Minneapolis since we get back there so often. Sometimes I think that Minneapolis = shopping, which means I’m always happy to go back :)

Another example of this is when I was wedding dress shopping! I purposely went shopping for it in Minnesota where there is NO sales tax on clothing items! Ten percent is a lot when it comes to the cost of a wedding dress, and I definitely wanted to save all the money I could on that purchase!

Now, if only I can find an affordable camera, my blog will be up and running in no time! I'll keep you posted when I get a new laptop!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

10 Miles in Chicago

Blogging has really taken a back seat lately. I apologize. It's due to multiple things:
1. Having an old man computer that barely works and shuts down on me without notice even when the battery is plugged in. We're holding out on buying me a new mac laptop because Apple is suppose to release the new operating system in July 2011 - any day now Apple, it would be much appreciated.
2. Having a broken camera that takes pictures but I have no idea what I'm taking a picture of because the screen doesn't work. Oh yeah, btw, I've been operating with this broken camera since January. It's not ideal, but it still works so I can't complain too much. A camera is just not on the top of the "things we NEED to buy" list right now. Hopefully it will be soon though.
3. Being a temporarily single wife and not cooking that much now that I'm cooking for one. I'll still try to mix other posts in so that I'm still blogging and when a food post makes it on the blog, you know it's a good one!

Today's training called for 10 miles. I could not have gotten up early enough for this run not to be deadly hot. Seriously, it was only one degree cooler at 6am than 7am, so I slept the extra hour and knew it would be a scorcher. And it was! It's so hard running a long distance when the sun is beating down on you, with no shade, and no breeze. Chicago is called the windy city, but there was no breeze this morning until I got to the turn around point where I got to enjoy it for about a mile total. Gross. I even ditched my running tank top about 2 miles in (I just tucked it into the vertical part on the back of my sports bra) and was just dripping the entire time. Needless to say, I stopped for water about 20+ times which I'm sure added 10 minutes or more to my time. There were actual lines at some water fountains and I did not even care! I knew it was more important to stop and hydrate a even a little rather than risk overheating or getting dehydrated.

The view of where I ran from this morning. I started downtown and made my way up the lake shore. I always love the turning around point and seeing how far the city looks! But then I realize I have to run back. Ha! At least my legs felt good today! Yesterday's 7 mile run was not very fun at all.

I ran the same route as my other 10 miler in Chicago and had no major aches or pains again. That's a good sign!!

This afternoon, I had the opportunity to hang out with some great girl friends at a pool located at one of their condo buildings. It was simply amazing to relax, tan a bit and have some great girly chit chat all afternoon! Love you guys!

Single Wife

Yes, that's single wife. Still married, but single for the next 2 months. Bryan is in Minneapolis doing a rotation and in August he'll be in Cleveland for another. We were in Minneapolis for the 4th of July weekend and it was very weird driving back to Chicago by myself. I had a very hard time sleeping all week, but luckily our cuddly Dimitri kept me company :) I'm very excited for this week - I'm going to visit Bryan (and friends and family of course) in Minneapolis for a VERY long weekend. It's much needed. I can't imagine how I'm going to hold out for another 6 weeks after next week!

We've only been apart for a week at this point, but Bryan and I have noticed that we function together very well. Neither of us really needs alone time apart from the other. I'm pretty introverted, and I thought I would eventually want some time to myself, but I've found that I literally crave spending time with him, and don't need much time to myself that is apart from him. We definitely have times where we both have a lot to do and need to be productive, but we do it well together at the same time. We are very schedule oriented, so we can plan a whole day and be very productive and lazy at the same time if we set times aside to do both! It just works well for us.

I've been keeping busy while I'm here in Chicago. Working as usual, training for the half and full marathon, and hanging out with friends. I sort of feel like my life has been more busy than usual, so I'm excited for some low-key time in Minnesota.

Oh yeah, and what else did I do while my husband was away? I cut my hair. Like chopped it off! If you know me, you know that I've had long hair (roughly to my elbows) for most of my life. There have been a few shorter do's, but I've primarily had long hair. I really do love it long, and it's so easy to maintain, it just works well for me. But with all the running I've been doing, I've gotten a little sick of my long, wet, heavy, floppy pony tail that sticks to my shoulder blades. So, I thought about it for a long time - probably a couple of months - and on Saturday I did it! And I do not regret it! It didn't even take me long to get used to. I love it!

This is a crappy shot, but at least it gives you an idea. What do you think? It's cuter in person, I think :)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fourteen in Minneapolis!

Happy 4th of July weekend!!! We're in Minneapolis visiting family and friends this weekend. It's a special weekend because our nephew and godson is having his 1st birthday! Crazy how fast the time flies by.

This morning I ran 14 miles in this beautiful city. I've only ran as far as a half marathon, so this was a new distance record for me and I'd call it a success! Sorry no pictures - my iPhone was acting up. I think it was the heat or humidity that caused it to malfunction - it's never done that before.

This run was very challenging for the following reasons:
1. It was HOT!!! It was in the 80s this morning, although I'm glad it wasn't in the 90's like yesterday.
2. There were hardly any water stops or drinking fountains along the running path. In Chicago, I'm used to them every mile or even more often in some places. There were only three and I needed way more than that! I mean, I do appreciate that Minneapolis is such a clean city. There were trash cans AND recycling bins every quarter mile it seemed! Since Minneapolis was ranked #1 for the most active city (seen at this site), they should definitely put some more drinking fountains on one of the most popular running paths in the city!!!
3. I got lost for about 20 minutes around mile 4... which totally ruined my time. So after I got back on track (and accidentally adding to my distance), I just decided to run well, not worry about the time, and just enjoy sweating my ass off.

This run was awesome for the following reasons:
1. No major aches or pains! That's a huge success to me!
2. Despite the 20 minute getting lost detour and the 5 minute break where Bryan met me to give me a Clif Shot and Clif Blocks since I forgot to get some ahead of time, my time was actually decent considering I the hotness and lack of water.
3. Luckily, much of my run was in the shade!
4. Minneapolis is so beautiful and full of nice people that the run was just fun!