The Shamrock Shuffle

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Last Sunday, Otherhalf and I (and 33,256 other people) ran through downtown Chicago in the 34th Annual Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle.  It’s an 8K.  I am awfully proud of us.  This is how it happened:image_7

I should start by saying that I have never been a fan of running, or really any kind of exercise.  Otherhalf used to run, a lot actually.  Back in the beginning of our relationship (like 10 years ago) I even went with him a couple of times.  I didn’t like it so much.  The panting and the sweating, and the redness that would cover my entire face and chest.  I was never able to achieve that runners high I always heard about.  Eventually, Otherhalf stopped running regularly, and we spent most of our free time together as many couples do-  in front of the TV.  Don’t get me wrong, we occasionally would go on nice brisk walks, and I did a yoga DVD a couple of times, but overall there hasn’t been a whole lot of exercising going on in our household, unless you count his recent golfing habit, and me walking to the train everyday for work.  But I don’t.

But last fall we got an exercise bike.  And for the majority of the fall and winter, I was getting up early to ride every morning.  Of course, most of my motivation came from the next episode of Weeds/ Rescue Me/ Mad Men/ The Walking Dead queued up on Netflix.  I love Netflix.  But it turns out that while I was feeding my brain with quality television programming, I was also building up my cardio endurance.

Nothing like zombies to get yer ass pedaling!!

Nothing like zombies to get yer ass pedaling!! (photo courtesy of The Walking Dead on AMC)

So when we were having dinner with another couple and Otherhalf suggested we all sign up for the Shuffle, I had just enough wine to think it was a great idea.  Otherhalf signed himself up the next day.  A few weeks later I finally bit the bullet and signed up too, and since we had shelled out 90 bucks to register, and I kept opening my big mouth and telling people I was gonna do it; it was ON like Donkey Kong.  (I know that phrase is overused, and probably mostly by me, but I still think it’s hilarious.)

So we started our training, which really only involved us actually running like 3 or 4 times. The first run we took really slow, but I did way better than I thought I would.  That stationary bike really helped a girl out!  I finally hit that place where I was able to just keep going.  We worked up to just about 3 miles each time we practiced, walking less and running more.  And it got easier every time.  Amazing how that works!  So we were fairly confident that we would be able to finish the 8K (which is almost 5 miles).

Fast forward to last weekend.  Race weekend.  Saturday night I didn’t sleep real well.  I was so excited!!  We got up nice and early on Sunday and took the train into downtown with a bunch of other Shufflers.  We were in Grant Park by 8:45 to pin our super cool bibs (with the little chip to track our time) to our commemorative shirts (I felt like I was in the cool kids club – just pretend with me for a moment), check our bag, and get to our start corral.

This is where we all gathered before the start

This is where we all gathered before the start.  We were in corral “H”  for “Hell Yeah!”

The second wave, which we were in, started at 9:15.  Remember our friends with whom we were supposed to run?  Well, they are way faster than us and were assigned to the first wave with all of the experienced Wheaties eaters.  They finished before we even started.  But that was okay with me.  Otherhalf and I were our own little team.  The weather was chilly, but the sky was sunny and beautiful.  It was crisp and perfect for running.  I got to wear the headband I knitted for myself to keep any cold wind out of my ears, because that shit hurts!image_3

There was such a buzz in the air as Otherhalf and I were slowly moving forward with the mass of people in our group to the start line.  I was a bit preoccupied with my phone, as I was trying to start Pandora Radio (The Naked and Famous Station.)  I was having major problems with my internet signal, which I didn’t realize was caused by there being too many people clumped together in a small area or something.  I thought I was going to be without music, which would have been really hard.  I was psyching myself up for a tuneless run.

Here we are waiting for the race to start.  Not a bad view, eh?

Here we are waiting for the race to start. Not a bad view, eh?

Then we got the GO, and we were off!  As soon as the crowd spread out, my music kicked on like magic.  Woo Hoo!!   It was hard to resist the urge to sprint right off the bat. We started out on Columbus Drive, and as we went under the Wacker Drive bridge, all of the runners started to hoot and holler so it echoed off the walls and ceiling.  I got goosebumps from all the excitement and energy.  It was like a frenzy!  I had to tell Otherhalf to slow it down after the first couple of blocks. He didn’t realize how fast he was running.  You just want to go, go, go!

We stayed together the whole time, keeping one another at a good pace.  It was really fun to run through the streets of downtown.  At the rate we were running, I was actually able to enjoy the scenery a bit.  There were big signs at the mile marks and at the 5K.   There were two “refueling” stations where volunteers were passing out Gatorade, and then a little farther up would be water.  Delicious wet water.  (It’s amazing how all the mouth breathing really dries you out.)  There was music blaring and people on the sidewalks cheering on the runners. I felt so energized by the crowd, it really helped me keep pushing forward, and kept me from focusing on “What the hell am I doing??”  Once we passed mile marker three, I still felt pretty good.  I knew that we were going to finish this sucker.  With Otherhalf by my side, we had this.  Passing people gave me a boost too.  (Later, losers!!  HA!)  Then we came to the last bit before the home stretch.  It was over the Roosevelt bridge that spans a bunch of train tracks.  Its a huge hill!  Dammit!  That part sucked.  But then we went down the other side and around the bend into the big ol’ crowd of people that lined the street, cheering us on from behind those concrete barrier things.  The music was blaring and the announcer was calling out runners by name as they ran by.  The guy totally read off Otherhalf’s name!  There was no mistaking!  That was very cool to hear on the way to the finish line, even if he was just getting the names from the little bib tracker thing as we ran by.

And then it was over!  WE MADE IT!  (without stopping, I might add.)

I can totally understand why some people get all emotional when they finish something like that.  Feeling all accomplished and exhausted.   There was a chance I was either going to cry or puke.  Luckily I have incredible self control, and I kept my composure as well as my breakfast down.  Woot!  We were greeted with Gatorade and water once more, and then we went to the Mariano’s table and got some bananas.image_1image_2

Let me tell you, that was the best banana I ever had.  (That’sWhatSheSaid!!)

And here are our times!!  Not bad for our first race!!

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This photo was actually taken before we started. for an accurate post race picture with my red face, see banana pics above.  Also, I freakin’ love my Nike’s.

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Here’s some highlights I remember from the actual race:

  • The guy on one of the bridges cheering people on with a megaphone and a tiny shirt which did not adequately cover his big hairy belly.  (*shudder*)
  • The guy who passed us in the inspirational t-shirt that said “The journey IS the destination.” (barf)
  • The tutu that was a little too long, and spent the race wedged between the runner’s thighs.  (Gotta take those on a test run, people!  Make sure they’re not gonna get caught in the crotch!)
  • The pedestrian A-holes who would dart out in front of us to cross the street.  (frogger jerks)
  • The feeling of panic when I moved over to grab a cup of water and then lost Otherhalf for a few seconds.  (Have you seen my husband?  He’s wearing a green shirt . . .just like everyone else.)
  • The 4 or 5 people in bunny suits.
  • The people holding signs as we came around the corner to the home stretch that had the lyrics from that “Thrift Store” rap.  (“I’m gonna pop some tags,” on one,  “Only got $20 in my pocket,” on another.  etc., etc.  This is F*@$% Awesome!)
  • The guy dressed like a giant lemon (or an olive, maybe?)
  • The guy who ran it barefoot.  (What?  Yep.  Here’s a blurry picture I snapped after.)

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    dumbass

  • Hearing the announcer say my husband’s name as we ran to the finish line.  (awesomesauce!)
  • Being really excited that I got sweaty in the elbow pits of my shirt.  (I don’t really sweat all that much, so getting sweaty spots on my shirt in the crook of my elbows was quite an accomplishment!)

Then we got our stuff and got back on the train to go home.  There is an after party in the park with music and beer and stuff, but my P’s and my gramma were coming to meet us for lunch.  We did stop for a taco on our way home though for a little snack.  Here’s some food porn of a damn fresh al pastor taco.

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delicioso!!

In summation, the Shamrock Shuffle was awesome.  We are definitely going to do it again next year.  And we are staying for the after party.  And then we will go home and lay on the floor.  I didn’t realize how wiped out I would feel afterward, but I definitely caught the race bug.  I am going to sign up for a couple of other 5K races this summer, and I would like to do the Hot Chocolate Run in November (there’s hot chocolate/ fondue at the finish!)  Otherhalf is going to take on the Chicago Marathon with his brother in October.  YIKES!!  I will make a big sign and be there to cheer them on, somewhere along those 26 miles.

What new things have you tried lately?  Do you force yourself into new projects by telling people you are doing them and then feel like you talked about it so much that you had better actually do it?  (PS That’s how this blog got started!)  Do you get excited about elbow pit sweat?

Just another manic Monday (Ohhh, ohh . . .)

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Today ended up being a lot more productive than I thought it would be.  I slept in a bit, returned a Red Box movie, and rode the exercise bike for an hour (while watching Louis CK standup- kiiiinda hard to focus on pedaling while that guy is on.  I laughed my ass off, literally!  Ha!)  Vacuumed the hell out of my apartment and cleaned the bathroom.  THEN I got to work in the kitchen.  Made homemade hummus for my lunches this week.

Hummus = chickpeas, roasted garlic, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a liiiitle bit of cayenne.

Hummus = chickpeas, roasted garlic, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a liiiitle bit of cayenne.

I made a coconut custard pie that I snagged off of a friend’s Facebook post.  (Thanks, MitzI!)  It turned out pretty good.   Maybe a bit eggy for my taste.  But I cut back on the milk a little since I was using skim.  Also because my pie plate always seems a bit shallow.  Don’t want any overflow, yo!  But the recipe is super easy.  It’s one of those “mix everything together and throw it in a pie pan” pies.  It’s supposed to magically separate into crust, custard, and coconut topping as it bakes.  Mine didn’t have much of a crust though.  Oh well.

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They always look so promising right out of the oven.  Ingredients:  3/4 c sugar, 1/2 c bisquick, 4 eggs, 2 c milk (I used 1 -1/2 c),  1-1/4 c shredded coconut, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 T soft butter.  Mix, pour in buttered pie pan, bake @ 400 for 25-30 min.

You can see clearly the lack of crust.

You can see clearly the lack of crust.

When Otherhalf came home from work and we had a nice salad of mixed greens with pears, gorgonzola, walnuts and a nice vinaigrette dressing.  Oh yeah, and STEAK.  This is one of my favorite salads.  And I had been wanting it ever since Saturday when I was describing it to my sis-in-law.

mmm . . . steakums.

mmm . . . steakums.

After dinner, and while we were eating pie (see above), I also made kale chips.  This is a great way to deal with eat kale.  Did you know that kale is trendy?  It’s the new pomegranate or something.  Anyways, so yeah, I jumped on the kale bandwagon I guess. To make kale chips it’s really easy.  I have tried a couple of different recipes from the magical Internet, but the one I like best so far is from Jacque Pepin, and here’s how I rock it out:

Good for crispy cravings.  Good for salty cravings.  Good for kale cravings, cause aren't you ever like, "man, I really could go for some KALE right now?"

Good for crispy cravings. Good for salty cravings. Good for kale cravings, cause aren’t you always like, “Man, I really could go for some KALE right now?”

Step one.  Buy kale.  Pull the leaves off the ridiculously hard and stiff (thatswhatshesaid!) stem, and break said leaves into palmish-sized pieces.  Er, I have pretty small hands, so maybe that’s a bad size reference.  How about the size of a playing card?  Yes, that will work.  The chips will shrink quite a bit.  Ok, now wash and dry the leaves (I use a salad spinner, and blot with paper towel).  Put them in a big bowl, drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil. Like a teaspoon for the whole bowl.  Toss well, and even massage the oil into the leaves a little.  You will probably over oil the first time.  Don’t feel bad.  Everybody does it.  Then season.  I just use salt, but you can use whatever.  Probably cinnamon would be gross. Then you want to lay them out on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.  Those insulated baking sheets probably won’t work as well as an old school jelly roll pan.  Bake those puppies at 200-250 degrees for 25 minutes.  Here’s what they look like before and after baking.  You can see how much they shrink.

imageNow, if you get a nice big bunch of kale, it can take several rounds in the oven, since you don’t wanna pile the leaves on top of each other. The air’s gotta circulate in order for them to reach ultimate crispness. The particular bunch I had today took me about four cookie sheets full.  But I only have the one pan like that.  Also, be warned that it is real easy to eat the whole batch of kale chips in one sitting.  Real easy.  How was your day?