Monday, April 30, 2012

The Illinois Marathon Spectator and Ghost Runner Report

Many moons ago, my friend Amanda and I met during marathon training over the summer. We started the Chicago Marathon together and she went on to finish the race! After I had my DNF in Chicago and decided to run in Grand Rapids, Amanda hopped in her convertible and made the 3 hour drive to run the race with me. This past fall when Amanda decided to run the Illinois Marathon, I knew I would be returning the favor! A large group of my running friends (Yankee Runners) were also running the race so I had a lot of folks to cheer on during the race. I had planned on meeting at mile 15 and running the last 10 with Amanda.

The weather for the race had been questionable all week. Predicted thunderstorms, 40% chance of rain... It poured rain the entire time we were heading to Champaign. Once we arrived, the skies cleared. The rain was gone, the sun was covered by clouds, and the gun was about to go off. Once I parked my car, ate my oatmeal, and secured my outfit and additional supplies (banana, Gu, etc), I headed out to mile 15.

I was at the spot pretty early and the 10k folks were walking by (this race had a 10k, half marathon, and full marathon). I got comfortable and sent a text to Amanda letting her know I was here and at mile 15.

After settling in, it was time to wait for the elites to go by. Once I heard sirens, I knew they were close. Bikes and cars leading the way, the first place runner went by in a blur (literally).

I couldn't help myself but cheer really loudly when I saw fast women run by. I mean, girl power, right?! I saw some of my Yankee Runner and FN Running Club friends when I got a text from Amanda. She said she was tired and wanted me to meet her at mile 14 instead of 15. I didn't think that was a good sign.

I saw Amanda at mile 14 and she looked happy to see me. I hopped in, asked her what she needed and tried to bring some pep and energy to race day! Amanda had a rule during her first marathon to smile at every mile. Sooo I tried to take a picture of us smiling at every mile (or at least, tried at every mile)!
Mile 15
Mile 17
Mile 19
Mile 20
Mile 22
Mile 24
We saw Erin on the course too, but I didn't think to get a photo. She ran with us for a few feet and gave some words of encouragement. Thanks Erin! :)

Amanda's quads were sore and she didn't end up beating her time from last year. However, she had a lot of injuries this time around (you can read more about them on her blog) and we were both happy that she finished (well, obviously).

Some Yankee Runner friends qualified for Boston while others finished their first marathon. We had a cookout afterwards with tons of burgers, chicken, and snacks (new addiction = sweet potato chips).
L to R: Cy, Jeanne, me, Amanda, Dan, Lynn
It was a fun time to enjoy and celebrate!! Congrats to all of the finishers!!

I enjoyed jumping in for part of the marathon experience without having to go through the pain of completing a full marathon! I enjoyed being able to support Amanda, have fun with it, and read all the fun spectator signs! :)

Oiselle Outfit Winner!

Thanks to everyone again who contributed to my charity, Open Heart Magic, this past week for the Oiselle Raffle. Using the number generator, the winner is...

 Amanda Carey

Please send me an email, Amanda, to claim your prize and we can coordinate! (runningkellometers at gmail dot com)

If you haven't won yet, stay tuned. I'll have another raffle in a few weeks!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Running with Fast Women

Lately I have been reviewing the thought of having a coach. Yesterday I took the plunge and will be starting new workouts and a new plan next week. Who is my coach? Why Chicago Runner Girl, Britt! I heard super awesome things from Kim about her and I'm excited to greater explore my potential! :)

As what has become a Thursday night tradition, I met the folks at the FNRC for our Thursday night run.
L to R: Nicole, Kate LF, Genevieve, Wayne, Susan NMc, Maggie, me
We had some time to kill while waiting for everyone to come so Maggie and I wanted to take some awesome photos, just hanging with our besties... Shalane and Kara.
Original Source. Special thanks to Maggie!

Last night I wanted to give a tempo run another shot as I was disappointed with things the first time around. Maggie and I talked earlier in the day that we would do the workout together. My goal was to do a 1 mile warm up, 3 miles at tempo (under 8 minutes), and 1 mile cool down. Tempo mile 1 was nice and we hit 7:55. I was really happy with this first split. Maybe I can figure out this tempo thing?! At the halfway point, we turned around and I realized why the 1st mile felt nice--tailwind. We were now heading into a headwind for the 2nd part of our tempo. Despite the headwind, we kept on track and finished mile 2 in 7:53. Only one mile to go! The last mile had no talking which means we were doing it right, right? My stomach started to bother me here as it was on empty. Note: plan better afternoon snacks for Thursday night runs. Despite this, we finished our last tempo mile in 7:52. I was so happy that we met our splits and I had someone to share in the misery/fun! I feel really happy and confident after this workout and more prepared for the Palos Half Marathon next weekend. More to come on that later...

Tomorrow I'm heading down to Champaign/Urbana to cheer on my marathon pal Amanda as she completes her 2nd marathon!  I'm going to run part of the race with her so I'll try to put together a "spectator" report if my phone isn't ruined due to the impending rain. Best of luck to all of those running and racing this weekend!

P.S. Have you entered my Oiselle Raffle yet? Every $3 donation to Open Heart Magic = 1 entry. Thanks y'all!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Swass and Spray Tans

Yesterday I set my alarm to get up at 5am to go for a morning run. When my 5am alarm went off, I ignored it and went back to sleep, without even noticing. I woke up at my normal time and thought "Damnit!!!". I haven't gone for a pre-work run in over a year. I used to love getting up before work and get my sweat on. I seem to have lost the motivation for it. I know I'll get it back soon... I hope!!

The reason why I wanted to get my run done early is that I had a spray tan appointment after work. My cousin's bridal shower is this weekend so I wanted to give it an old test run. The thing is, once you get it done, you can't sweat for the next 24 hours. (#firstworldrunnerproblem) Thankfully I had enough time before my appointment to head to the gym and the treadmill. I decided to give my clearance Nike capris another try. Well, I forgot how sweaty I get while running on the treadmill, and I instantly knew these capris were a bad idea. I could feel the sweat marks forming and kept pulling down my shirt. I'm not sure if that made it better or worse. This time, I got a post-run photo. Yay for sweaty underwear marks!

After my 2.8 mile run, I rushed home, showered and headed to the spray tan place. Have you ever gotten a spray tan before? Please let me know what you think of them! Personally, I think they're fun, and I get to be tan for a short period of time--something that would otherwise never happen. My skin has two color options, porcelain or lobster. There is no in between. I love being pale, don't get me wrong. I just also like to be tan about 3x per year. :)

P.S. Have you entered the Oiselle raffle? Their running clothes are amazeballs! You should check it out, if you haven't already!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sheryl 5k Race Recap

Saturday morning I got up and met with my normal group of Yankee Runners to finish 8 miles. This was the group's last run before the Illinois Marathon next weekend. I'll be driving down the morning of the race and meeting up with other Yankee Runners and running part of the marathon with Amanda! I have some other friends that are completing the half. If you're running the race or are going to be in the area, let me know! I'd love to meet up! I haven't spectated for a marathon in a long time, and I'm very much looking forward to being on the other side of things this time around!

Saturday night my husband met up with some friends in downtown Chicago and I was looking forward to a night of rest, relaxation, and Parks and Recreation OnDemand.
yogurt parfait dessert + Tom Haverford

Then, I heard about a midnight 5k in Coal City and a few members of the FN Run Club were going to do it. The more I thought about it, the more I decided that trying to run a 5k the same day you ran 8 miles probably wasn't a good idea. But I had the 5k bug... I went and looked up other 5ks in the area on Sunday.

I decided on the Sheryl Garrett Lapka 5k in Lisle. It was an inaugural race so I wasn't sure what to expect. When first arriving, some of the volunteers working registration and packet pickup seemed a bit confused, but the race director knew what was going on (so that was helpful). There weren't many frills for this race, but all of the funds generated were going to ovarian cancer research. Before a small race, I always end up sizing up the competition--seeing who might be in my age group, who looks like they'd be super fast, etc. Am I the only one who does this? I hope not, lol.
The beautiful scenery

The race started right on time, 8:30 sharp and went around the Community Park in Lisle. The park was absolutely gorgeous and it made for some wonderful scenery. I started out and was going to try to maintain my PR pace of 7:26. There were a few other females that started with me and we stuck together through the 1st mile. Mile 1: 7:28. I was happy with that. I didn't start out too fast which was awesome. The second mile I started to pull ahead of those that were around me. I didn't feel like I was picking it up, but just maintaining. Mile 2: 7:27. I couldn't be happier with this consistent split! Who is this person running a 5k? Maybe I'm actually understanding how pacing works during a race??

After the mile 2 marker, I turned a corner and saw 2 other girls in front of me (they looked to be on a high school cross country team). They seemed to be keeping together and I passed them both, continuing my consistent pace(?!). About a 1/4 mile after passing them, there came a large section of spectators cheering me on. "First girl! First girl! Way to go!" I said "What??" with a huge smile on my face. Was I really the first female right now??

At mile 2.5 I tried to pick up the pace but my legs were tired. There was no one in front or behind me on the course so I was trying to dig for some motivation to pick it up. When I turned the corner and saw the clock, that is when it hit me.
Yes, my legs really are that pale.

The clock was in the 22's! I would be able to break the 23:00 barrier! I kicked it out and tried to finish strong. Heading down the final stretch, more people were cheering "First Female Finisher! You've got this! Finish strong!"
Official time: 22:53 (7:23 splits). (My Garmin marked the course as only being 3.07 miles which is why my mile splits aren't consistent with my finishing time.) But I'm going to take this win and this PR and enjoy it! I am so beyond excited with this victory in so many ways. As it was a small inaugural race, they didn't announce the first female finisher during the awards ceremony afterwards, only the first finisher (let's be honest, I was kind of bummed about that). But they did have awards for the first 2 people in every 10 year age group. 

I couldn't be happier with my time, and I was happy to have gotten out there to run this race! I met my goal, but I felt like I lost motivation part way through the race. I know I have a faster time in me, and that feels awesome. Have you ever felt that way before?

Additionally, they had some Honey Stinger samples that I grabbed as I have been dying to try this brand. I ate the Berry Banana Buzz on my way home. It was delicious! However, I tasted a lot of berry and honey, but not much banana at all. Left to try: Apple Cinnamon and Peanut Butter N Honey. I'll keep you posted when I try the others.

P.S. Have you entered by Oiselle Raffle yet??

Monday, April 23, 2012

Oiselle Running Outfit Raffle

As I mentioned last week, I gave the Oiselle Lori Shorts a try and absolutely LOVED them. This week I have a great announcement! The folks at Oiselle have been kind enough to donate an outfit for me to raffle off!

The shirt is the Running Squared V-Neck. It is a size medium and the color pink. It is dryfit and very soft. (This shirt retails for $34 and can be found on Oiselle's website here.) If you're wondering about the sizing, a chart can be found here from Oiselle's website.

Close up

The shorts are Lori Shorts that I've tried and loved! They are also a size medium and the color green. (These shorts retail for $38 and can be found on Oiselle's website here.) Again, if you're wondering about the sizing, a chart can be found here from Oiselle's website. In my opinion, the shorts were true to size. I didn't feel they were too tight and had additional room, comfortably.

Look at the size of that inner pocket!

I am super jealous of the winner of this raffle. I mean, look at how fashionable you'd be in this jazzy outfit! :)

As you know from my previous raffles, all you have to do to enter the raffle, is donate to my charity, Open Heart Magic by clicking HERE. For this raffle, every $3 donation = 1 entry. ($3 for 1, $6 for 2, etc.)

Those that have donated to this raffle (or any previous raffle) can gain additional raffle entries if you:
1) like Running Kellometers on Facebook
2) blog about the raffle
3) tweet about the raffle (@kellywils0n)
If you do any of the items mentioned above, please leave a comment letting me know so I can be sure to include the additional entries! (If you have any questions please leave a comment or send me an email!)

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email (runningkellometers at gmail dot com)!

Entries will be accepted until 9am (CST) on Monday, April 30 and the winner will be announced that same day. Best of luck! :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

First World Problems

This week I have felt extra whiny. You know what that calls for: more cheese! AND a First World Problems post! :)

1. I forgot to bring a ponytail holder to work on Wednesday so I had to wear a headband as a ponytail holder instead. It sucked and was uncomfortable for most of my workout.

2. I parked my car at the train station and forgot to pay attention to the assigned parking spot number number, which I realized when I got to the pay box. I had to run back to the car and check before I could pay my $1 and almost missed my train.


3. I like to listen to Glee radio while at work. Lately they have been playing a ton of disco. Um, what's up with that Glee radio? No one likes disco, not even people that lived in the 70s.

4. My office provides milk for us to use during the week for our coffee, cereal, oatmeal, etc. Our floor gets a 1/2 gallon of 2% and a 1/2 gallon of skim. By Friday the milk is usually gone for my coffee and that weird powder stuff is not a good substitute. I'd rather eat garbage (maybe).

5. We had a team meeting at the office on Thursday. I saw a big bowl of something green next to a big bowl of tortilla chips. I was really excited until I got closer and realized that the bowl of green was guacamole flavored chips as opposed to actual guacamole. Guacamole chips never taste like real guacamole. There is no substitute. Due to this disappointment, I was forced to go out to lunch on Friday to have some real, delicious guacamole. Yes, forced.


6. I was running late to work on Friday. I had time to grab my gym bag but not a lunch. Therefore I had to spend my lunch break in line at a busy lunch spot in the Loop instead of at the gym. The lunch was delicious (and included guacamole), but now I can't get my workout on at the office.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Random Thoughts on a Friday

I watched the "We're Not Young" video this morning and was almost late to work because of it. Verdict: worth it. That video is hysterical, seriously.

Last night I met up with my Thursday night run group. It was all ladies so we had a little fun with the group photo.
L to R: Me, Maggie, Kathy, Amanda, Kate LF, Genevieve
Prom pose!

I really enjoy these group runs and they are a great point in my week. I was originally going to do some speedwork but my body wasn't feeling up to it and my stomach was upset. Note: Summer Shandy and guacamole flavored tortilla chips are not good pre-run fuel. I need to have better self control at work parties on Thursdays. They are rare, we've just had one the past two weeks, ironically.

Maggie and I ran 4 miles together at about 9:00 pace. We both weren't feeling great so it was nice to keep a strong conversation pace while not pushing too hard. We saw a hawk on our run and it was swooping down on the trail and I was hoping to see it catch something. Maggie was hoping it didn't try to catch us.
Mission = Accomplished #hawkthoughts

There was a mother/daughter duo on a tandem bike on the trail and the hawk swooped pretty close to them. They seemed concerned, but the hawk was like NBD! #hawkthoughts (Also, I need to have a tandem bike when I have kids. I need to think of creative ways to be an embarrassing parent, right? I think it will be my duty. :D)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Oiselle Lori Shorts Review

Yesterday I decided to do my easy 2 mile run and have some fun with it. The weather was beautiful and I was dying to try out my new Oiselle Lori shorts ("Oiselle" is pronounced wa-zell) that I bought from The Clymb. I was originally going to run on the treadmill but when I heard the weather had warmed up a bit since the morning, I decided to run outside. I haven't run outside on my lunch break since last year's marathon training. I forgot how awesome it is to get a breath of fresh air and a workout in during the week.

Since I was only going 2 miles, I decided to have some fun with it and mess with the self timer app on my phone.

Fun = Achieved!

I first heard about Oiselle through Pinterest, coming across their Rundies.
Hello. Who wouldn't want this set? (For $65 though, I had to seriously restrain myself.) When looking for donations for my Open Heard Magic raffles, the folks at Oiselle were nice enough to donate some items (that will be raffled off very soon, btw). Then, Sarah at OuaL gave them a rave review as well. I seriously couldn't wait to try these shorts out and (spoiler alert) they didn't disappoint.

Now, to talk about the most important thing, my Oiselle Lori shorts. I ordered them through The Clymb a few weeks back and have been dying to try them out. Yesterday was a great excuse.

1. Fabric: The material is very soft and moisture wicking (obviously). The inside underwear is on a bit of the "grandma" size, but that just made them more comfortable to run in (in my opinion anyways. I love me some grandma underwear).

2. Functionality: The shorts had a huge pocket on the inside that could fit more than just a key (take note Nike!) You could comfortably carry a Gu (or even a Sports Beans bag), a key, and an ID badge.
Need to run with an ID badge?
No problem!

I know other pairs of their shorts have even more pockets of different sizes. The Lori shorts, however, only have 1, but I like that it is a big one. I didn't feel concerned that anything was going to fly out, even though there was no flap on the top of the pocket.

The shorts stayed at the waist and didn't ride up or anything during the run.

3. Important Extras: I ordered a size small and they were great. I have what is known as a "pancake butt" so the Nike Tempo shorts end up looking like a balloon on my behind. These shorts were great because they looked fine on my pancake butt but had room if you had more than a pancake in your trunk.

As my skin is frequently described as pastey, see-through, and glow-in-the-dark, any shorts I wear (light or dark) end up accentuating my paleness. Granted, I love my pale skin and fully embrace it! As a first choice, I probably wouldn't have gone with lavender, but that is all that was available on the site in my size when I went to order. But I like that this color is out of my comfort zone and adds some colorful dimension to my running wardrobe.
Lori Shorts = Kelly Approved!

Another thing I like about Oiselle is that they only make and sell women's clothes. I feel they have a great understanding of what women are looking for in running attire. I also have a feeling this is the start of a new love/addiction (as if I needed to love another brand of running clothes). :) To find out more about Oiselle and to check out their products, click here.

*Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for this review. I purchased these shorts myself with my own money. The opinions expressed on my blog are my own.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Clothes that Talk About Running

Continuing with my plan, yesterday called for 3 easy miles. I wanted to get them done on my lunch break so I hit the treadmill. Once I got started, I remembered how much I haaaate the treadmill. I was incredibly bored before the first 1/2 mile but ended up completing my 3 easy miles at 9:40 pace. I'm glad the weather is getting nicer so I'll be able to run outside on my lunch break again soon. (I don't like lugging lots of layers of clothing in a bulky gym bag if I don't have to.)
Part of my office building's gym

Part way through my workout, I noticed a guy out of the corner of my eye that kept staring. He went over to one of the treadmills (there are only 4) and started doing these "stretches" so he was staring right at me while stretching. Then he kept walking back and forth behind me, and I could see his stares in the mirror. I was very happy to be out of there as this guy was majorly giving me the creeps. One of my coworkers was working out on an elliptical behind me so she saw all of this too (so I know I'm not crazy).

Tonight's workout calls for some interval miles at 10k pace. Based on last week's tempo attempt, I'm looking forward to another speed session. Now if only I can remember how to change average pace to current pace on my Garmin... And thanks for all your hat recommendations. I'm hoping to find what I'm looking for soon!! I always seem to forget about Running Warehouse. What a great site!! In fact, I just ordered this shirt and can't wait to wear it... all. the. time.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Avoiding a Rainy Run

After my attempt at a tempo on Thursday, my body was pretty tired and I was happy to take Friday as a rest day. After work, I ended up going over to my cousin's new house about a 1/2 hour away from me. Coincidentally, we were both wearing our Chicago Marathon gear so we needed to take a pic, naturally.
Me, my cousin (who ran it in 2008 and 2009),
and her fiance who picked up a shirt in 2009

I stayed longer than expected, throwing off my other weekly plans. I was going up to Toph's family cottage in Michigan but I didn't want to make the 2+ hour ride by myself in the dark. My plan was to run around a nearby lake as my early morning run. (As it ended up raining all morning up there, I was glad I didn't.) Instead, I slept in my own bed and met up with the FNRC in the morning.
L to R: Nicole R, Keith, Lori, Susan, me, Nicole C, and Amanda in front
Thanks to Amanda for letting me snag the pic!

My goal was to complete 8 miles at 9:40 pace (according to the Runners World Smart Coach) and I was right on target. Since most of the FNRC was running the Rockdale Rambler 10k, it was a smaller than usual group for a Saturday. Most of the folks were looking to keep a 9:15-9:30 pace so I hung back a bit to keep my 9:40 target. One of the other ladies (Nicole R.) was on the same page as me so we stuck together the whole time and had a really great run.

During the run I tried a new pair of capris that I had gotten on the clearance rack at Kohl's. (I had a $10 off any $10 item coupon and they were on clearance for $12.80... Therefore they cost $3.00 total.) Upon trying them on, I instantly realized why they were on the clearance rack. They seemed to be made perfectly for my weirdly shaped bottom half. I was liking that! Until I went for a run and came home, concerned about my current swass situation and if the sweat marks had shown through the pants. Can you guess the answer? Yup, sweat marks around the underwear line. I did have to wear my jacket around my waist for part of the run which may have contributed to the extra sweat. Either way, I'm going to give them another try and see how it works out. I mean, for $3 it was worth a shot!

I'm currently on the lookout for a hat to wear while out running. I have a visor but despise it. I've been wanting a hat but the last few places I've looked (Target, Kohl's) didn't have any. I'd prefer to not resort to Dick's or Sports Authority since their stuff is usually pretty expensive. I'm open to suggestions! :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tempo Fail...?

Last night was the standard Thursday night run with the FNRC. The group is kind of small this week but I'm hoping it continues to grow as the weather gets nicer.
Genevieve, Kate (with Bo), Maggie, and me

The workout on my plan was a tempo run. 1 mile warm up, 3 miles at tempo 8:08 pace, and a 1 mile cool down. I ran the first mile with Maggie and then took off. I forgot to switch my watch from average pace to current pace so I had no idea what my pace was until I hit the first mile marker. Mile 1: 7:17... I stared at my Garmin in disbelief. Well, that is about 1 minute too fast... I consciously tried to slow it down for the 2nd mile. Mile 2: 7:27... Not really slowed down. Since I haven't done a tempo run before, I guess I underestimated what is comfortably fast. I was definitely out of my comfort zone and pushing pretty hard. I tried to slow down more for the last tempo mile, Mile 3: 7:54. Then I did my cool down and couldn't believe what just happened. First thing I thought was how I need to remember to adjust my Garmin to show current pace instead of average pace for my next tempo run. Then, I couldn't decide if I was mad I didn't meet my targets, or happy that my 5k goal seems more achievable than ever (goal: to have a 22:xx time).

I got home and felt sick but it was pretty obvious why. I pushed it really hard in my run today and my pre-run fuel of cupcakes and beer probably wasn't the best idea. I knew it wouldn't be, but I couldn't pass it up. I guess there were quite a few lessons learned from yesterday's workout. Tomorrow is another day. This weekend I'm going up to my husband's family summer cottage and will be doing a loop around a nearby lake.

P.S. I'm not really a huge fan of Crumbs Bakery! Their red velvet cupcakes were made with buttercream frosting and not cream cheese frosting. Although, they are still better than no cupcakes. :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Back to Business... With a Plan

Since my recent races and following vacation, I needed to come up with a new training plan for the Palos Half Marathon. Thanks to Runners World Smart Coach, I was able to put together a 1 month plan that fits my current fitness level and desired weekly mileage. The only change is that the plan calls for running 4 days a week, with lower mileage each time. This is different than my current plan of 3 days a week with more mileage per run. The plan seems to be giving me a good guide to get a sub 1:55 half marathon (my newest goal) and I think/know I can do it. (The training plan suggests a 1:48 half marathon.) I've always used Hal Higdon in the past but with my funky "I signed up for too many races" schedule, it's nice that the RW schedule is flexible and allows for adjustments.

Last night was day 1 of the plan and called for a 2 mile easy run at 9:40 pace. I usually run at a 9:30 pace so it was hard to find just my niche just a tad slower. I found it in the end and had a nice run. Tonight is a planned tempo run of a 1 mile warm up, 3 miles at 8:08 pace, and a 1 mile cool down. The thought of this run scares me... Slightly... It's okay though, it will be hard but the best thing I can do is try, right? :)

In other food news, I made a colossal mistake at the grocery store on Monday. I accidentally bought the fat free pretzels and they taste disgusting.
 Apparently pretzels are not one of those things worth going the fat free route (like cream cheese and cheese). Now I'm stuck eating a giant bag of these things because I hate to waste food. Does anyone have any great ideas of things to add to or mix with pretzels to make them taste better? I'm open to suggestions.

ALSO, my Oiselle shorts came in the mail from The Clymb.
Don't mind the dismal lighting. The shorts are lavender, not grey.

It has been so cold outside that I haven't gotten the chance to wear them yet. I don't want to wear them to the gym for lifting or cross training; I want to wait until the temps are a little warmer and I can wear them outside for a RUN! Oh Chicago weather, why must you be so confusing! I like to "save" my favorite workout clothes for group runs, long runs, or races. I think I get to enjoy them the most that way. Do you feel the same way about workout clothes? Do you "save" your favorite workout outfits for certain types of workouts?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Restaurant Post

I know I don't talk about food really on this blog, but I wanted to talk about some of the great restaurants we visited while in New Orleans. My husband (Toph) is vegetarian and I gave up meat for lent so we had to find restaurants that had at least one vegetarian option. That can sometimes be challenging in the south, but we didn't have a tough time in NOLA. (I think this is mainly due to the large "crust punk" population.)

724 Iberville Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Acme is famous for their oysters. They also have an Arnold Palmer drink made with iced tea flavored vodka. (Do I need to mention the amazing ESPN commercial of Arnold Palmer making an Arnold Palmer?) Hello! This is going to be my new favorite summer drink, I can tell. While enjoying our beverage, our grilled oysters on the half shell arrived. Since they were grilled, they were much less threatening than raw oysters and a good way to get our feet wet. The seasonings were amazing and it was definitely worth the trip there. Our meal was kind of pricey but delicious and good for a one time stop.

1141 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
Toph and I have been here before on our previous trips down to NOLA and the food was just as good as I remembered. I got the cheese calzone and Toph got the spinach and artichoke sandwich. He wished he had ordered mine instead. Sam and Kate also enjoyed their sandwich choices. However, the service was pretty bad. The waiter was attentive, but not happy about it. The wait staff seemed like they preferred to have no customers as opposed to some. Not sure if this is because we were obviously not hipsters or what. Either way it was disappointing since their food is so good!

We ventured to the French Market on Decatur street one day and stopped at one of the walk-up counters. The sign enticed with fresh fruit and real blenders. I absolutely had to order one. Think Jamba Juice with booze. They make the blended drinks right in front of you so you see exactly what goes into it. I ordered a mango margarita that was made with real mangoes. Yum!

535 Gravier Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
This place was part of a local hotel and didn't have a ton of patrons. The reviews on Yelp were mixed but we decided to try it anyways. Since we had a diverse crowd in our group, their "build your own" menu was a nice way to find something for everyone. The portions were pretty big and I ate far too many sweet potato fries. They were the crispiest fries I've ever had, in a good non-burnt way.

301 N Peters St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
This place is open late night on the weekends (not during the week--we made this mistake). They had some pretty good drink specials too ($2.50 Dos Equis on Thursdays) and the food is delicious. The menu offers things ala carte, or meals as well. It is kind of like a Taco Fresco (as opposed to a Chipotle). Toph and I both ordered the grilled vegetable taco salad and it was amazing. I'm a huge taco salad fan and this place met my expectations!

727 St. Peter
New Orleans, LA 70116
Another Yelp-approved place, Yo Mama's upstairs had a lounge feel with red only light. The bartender was also the waitress and took our orders. They had tons of different burger options including a veggie burger. We tried to swap out the veggie patty with some of the regular burger menu options but apparently it doesn't work that way. We were still able to order our veggie burgers but then they didn't come with sides. I got a mushroom burger and Toph got some sort of southwestern burger with avocado, jalapeƱos, and salsa. You could tell the veggie burgers were homemade and they tasted delicious--crisp from the grill with a great amount of flavor. Sam got the famous peanut butter bacon burger and thought it was strange yet delicious. Kate got a chicken sandwich with avocado and salsa and enjoyed hers as well. For our last night, this was a very satisfying meal and I would recommend this place to others.

811 Conti
New Orleans, LA 
I also feel the need to mention the delicious frozen Irish coffees available at 3 different places. At Erin Rose they're the strongest so that's why I'm singling them out. It is basically a Wendy's frosty, plus coffee, plus booze. Not too sweet, but pretty rich. They are super delicious and I just can't get enough while we're there! If you're ever in town and your dietary restrictions allow for you to have one, I highly, highly recommend it.

On our way home, we stumbled upon a McAlisters Deli and had an enjoyable meal. They had tons of vegetarian options clearly labeled on the menu, which was awesome. Have you been to one of these restaurants before? They don't have one within 90 miles of Chicago, but I think it would do well if they did!