2014 Chicago Marathon

On Sunday, October 12th, I had my first experience being a spectator at the Chicago Marathon. The runners and observers were blessed with a truly gorgeous fall morning to roam around the city of Chicago. I am proud to say that my first experience was in support of my husband in his first marathon!

www.chicagomarathon.com

[Please note that this post represents the first in my "life" series that serves as a challenge to myself to document experiences that I wish to save and share with my husband and my future family. In return for allowing me to share with you a personal story, I have provided a recipe at the end!]

I mentioned in a previous post that my husband and I each set personal goals this summer to train for a marathon and half-marathon, respectively. Yesterday, he completed the 26.2 mile course spanning the city of Chicago in his goal time! Having spent our summer training together, it was an extremely rewarding experience seeing him achieve this milestone. After nine years as a couple and just over one year as husband and wife, it still amazes me how much I can learn about this man. I have always known he was a strong and dedicated person, but following his pace at each milestone marker and witnessing his look of determination each time I saw him blew me away and elated me with pride. 

A "selfie", or "beauty shot" as Samsung now calls it, with one of my best and longest friends while cheering on our friends and family.

From this experience, I was also taken away by the number of runners who exhausted their physical and mental capabilities in order to see just how far they could push themselves. I admire everyone who completed that challenge. Just as equally, I admire the number of friends, family and general Chicagoans who spanned almost the entire 26.2 mile course to cheer on not only their loved ones but also everyone else. I was grateful to cheer on my husband with our long time high school friends in addition to well wishes from supportive family and friends from afar. I have always admired those who take this challenge. With my husband joining those ranks, I hope that I too have the courage to accept the challenge before we start a family. Now knowing the kind of support system there is in in place, I am optimistic to think the challenge is attainable for me to take on (but no commitments yet)!

One of the most amazing and memorable moments of the day occurred after the race when I tried to meet up with my husband. We had originally agreed to meet in the post-race receiving area. With him having no phone we agreed that if we had not found each other within one hour after him crossing the finish line, we would reunite back at home. When I arrived at the receiving area, I felt helpless in seeing the vast landscape of the post-race party filled with thousands upon thousands of people. After reaching the end of our time limit, I was disappointed and frustrated that I could not see him, congratulate him and be with him on the way home. Upon arriving at the train stop to return home, I had tears in my eyes thinking that I had made it to all but what seemed to be the most important part of the race, the end. As the train car pulled into my stop and the doors opened, I was shocked when I saw him sitting there right in front of me. Find me sentimental if you will, but I firmly believe that something greater allowed that to happen. The thousands of people at the race, the variability as to when we each decided it was time to give up the hunt and go home, the frequency of trains and the number of train cars on each train - that is just too much for even coincidence. I will never forget that moment and how thrilled I was to see him.

If you have read this far, thank you for bearing with me! As promised, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite kitchen gadgets and the post-race recovery treat recipe that I made for him after the marathon. 

CHOCOLATE - PEANUT BUTTER AND BANANA "ZOKU" SHAKE

www.Williams-Sonoma.com

One of my favorite gadgets in the kitchen is our pair of His and Her's Zoku Slush and Shake Makers we received as a wedding shower gift. Here is how they work. The inside containers of the Zoku Slush and Shake makers are kept in the freezer (containers take approximately 8 hours to freeze if purchased new or only kept in the freezer as needed). For use, the frozen container is placed inside of its plastic sleeve. Any chilled beverage or slush/shake mixture of your choice is then poured into the container. Use the provided Zoku Spoon to stir the liquid inside the container until it begins to freeze. Once frozen to the desired consistency, enjoy your quick and refreshing treat. 

We have tried a variety of recipes with our Zokus ranging from using our favorite chocolate milk or juice mixture to creating recipes similar to those in the Art of Slush recipe book that can be purchased to accompany the gadgets. Zokus are particularly wonderful for a cool, refreshing snack in the summertime but can be enjoyed with a variety of recipes year round (i.e. pumpkin milkshake, frozen peppermint mocha, etc.). The Zoku products are fun, high quality and easy to clean. I look forward to experimenting with additional products of theirs including the Zoku Iced Coffee Maker and Ice Cream Maker. 

As a post race treat, I made a milk based shake (i.e. no ice cream) with Silk Chocolate Soy Milk, Bananas and Peanut Butter.

  • Yield: 2 servings
  • Time: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 - 4 cups chocolate milk (such as Silk Soy Milk), chilled
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. 
  2. Pour mixture into the frozen Zoku container.
  3. Stir the mixture until consistency gets slushy or smooth and creamy depending on your preference.
  4. Enjoy! 

Note that there is no exact science to this recipe other than including whatever combination of ingredients you desire. Below are a few suggestions with respect to using a Zoku Slush and Shake Maker: 

  • Be patient! At first, it can seem as though nothing is happening and your mixture will not freeze. It takes several minutes (approximately 5) to turn to a true shake consistency. I find the swirling motion to be quite relaxing while creating a simple dessert for watching a movie. 
  • Sir frequently and scrape the sides. The fastest way to chill the mixture is to let the entire mixture have exposure to the frozen sides. 
  • Use chilled ingredients to quicken the process.
  • Use liquid ingredients that have real instead of artificial sugar. The user manual suggests that beverages with artificial sugar do not function as well as those with real sugar. I have still had success in making slushies out of juices and teas that are lower in calorie due to low sugar content, however, I included the caution as a potential troubleshooting resolution if a mixture proved to be unsuccessful. 

At $20 a piece, the Zoku Slush and Shake Makers are a wonderful addition to your kitchen for quick, easy and, in some instances, healthy deserts. These gadgets also make wonderful gifts accompanied by the recipe book.