the PIP/CIC game plan for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 5K

A MEMO FROM THE CEO OF PIP: I’m so honored to have my “success story” be featured over at Healthy Tipping Point today! A huge thanks to Caitlin for including me and my crazy journey through my recent “adult sabbatical”!


With all this yoga-ing going on, you may have forgotten that I’m registered for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 5K.


Boy, I haven’t. I used to be the cardio queen!! What has happened to me?! Okay, we all know the answer to that…

As the weather continues to warm up, I get so excited to see all the tweets and Facebook status of people PRing and running their first 5Ks. But I also found myself getting a bit bummed that I wasn’t doing the same. So I did what another other twenty-something female would do. I complained to one of my good friends – one that also happens to be signed up for the same race.

Amanda from Clue Into Cleveland and I were walking out to our cars after the Emerging Chefs event, discussing how busy this Spring has been. I thought I had a packed calendar until she shared her non-stop schedule. With so much going on, she too was having trouble finding time to sneak in cardio workouts to prepare her for the May 19th 5K.

So together, two time crunched bloggers made a pact. What could they do when they had crazy schedules, many commitments and a looming 5K? They let go of their expectations and opt for a fun run!

I remember running the 2010 Race for the Cure and feeling like I was taking a tour of downtown Cleveland as I did my best to jog the entire 3.1 miles. While running, I had a blast enjoying my hometown on foot – running by the sporting venues, the skyscrapers, my favorite hot spots. Why not do it again, but this time with a friend?

The 5K course starts and ends at Cleveland Browns Stadium. We’re both concerned about that uphill start on West 3rd but are already looking forward to the downhill finish ℅ East 9th Street. Amanda does have a time goal in mind which is the reason while I’ll still plan to wear my Garmin. That said, we’ve already promised one another that we’ll run as much as we can, but if we need a walk break, we’ll take one. And no matter what, we’ll end together on the field at Browns Stadium as our husbands cheers us on from the stands (& grateful that we didn’t make them run it with us!!) I haven’t run a 5K with someone other than Hans, so I’m really looking forward to having this experience with her!

Speaking of other runner friends, Christian over at Training 4 Autism – Cleveland Style is hooking us up to run the 5K in style with Run For Autism singlets. Not only is he running the 5K on Saturday the 19th, he’s also running the marathon on Sunday the 20th! He’s doing it for more than just his love for running – he’s the Cleveland chapter president of Train for Autism. He’s an amazing advocate for the cause – and one hell of a guy and dad. If you have a few bucks to spare, maybe you’d consider supporting him and his son Cal by donating at his T4A fundraising site. At the very least, check out his recent post on remembering why he’s running the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. It’s a great read.

So we have a strategy planned, our race day attire picked out and our expectations set. Next step? Get my yoga booty on a cardio machine to prep for race day! May 19th, here we come!

How have you adjusted your expectations to reach your goals?

Disclosure: This post is part of my participation in the 2012 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon blogging series. Read my disclosure here.

event recap: Emerging Chefs’ Garden Party at AMP 150

On Wednesday, April 18th, I headed to another Cleveland West side favorite of mine for the Emerging Chefs event, Garden Party:

The spring planting always portends to a crisp summer bounty. Join Emerging Chefs and Chef Jeff Jarrett of AMP 150 as we celebrate the planting of AMP 150’s garden with a sweet collection of cuisine inspired by the carnival of a Garden Party. This is sure to be an extraordinary offering of fresh, local food with Chef Jarrett’s creative twist.

BEFORE I CONTINUE: Last weekend at teacher training (yes, yoga is everywhere nowadays), we taught our first sun salutations. As we each took our turn, we were encourage to share our feedback via a positive comment, then a comment for improvement, and then another positive comment; also known as the PIP method of evaluation – you knew I was all over that!! As I think about my thoughts on this event, this evaluation system seems to be the right way to do so…

A POSITIVE: THE FOOD: I’ve been to several of Emerging Chefs events in the past year so I admit my expectation for the quality of the food is high. The offerings at this Garden Party definitely met my foodie expectations.

The evening started with Chef Melissa Khoury’s teaser to her upcoming May 24th Emerging Chefs event, Snout to Tail. Her “mystery meat” (our words, not hers) board included dry-cured pork loin, pork rillette and a fennel mustard mortadella. It was a happy sight to us very hungry diners.

The first course was a Spring Pea Soup with ramp creme fraise and lemon oil:

This was good. REALLY good. Once placed in front of the diners at my table, I finished my portion before some people were even done taking notes on the dish. It was super smooth, uber flavorful and served at a lovely chilled temperature. When the broth was combined with the creme fraise and the lemon oil, it made for a miraculous spring filled slurp. I thought about requesting another bowl for dessert.

The second course was a Mushroom Mousse with fennel cherry compote and grilled artisan bread:

Made in the style of their chicken liver pate, it featured mushrooms from Killbuck Valley Mushrooms and fennel from The Chef’s Garden. The mousse was rich and silky. You definitely could get the “chicken liver pate” style in every bite. The mushrooms weren’t over powering because they were balanced so well with the fennel/cherry compote. Again, I had to restrain myself from licking my plate.

The third course was a Goat Cheese Gnocchi with pork belly croutons, shaved asparagus, drunken fig jam and pepper cress:

Featuring goat cheese from Lake Erie Creamery, I suggest you head over to Brad’s blog for a proper description on how this tasted.

The fourth course was a sous vide lamb loin with farro, peas, cauliflower and truffle:

My portion was without the farro/pea offering, but the lamb loin was enough for me. This may be my new favorite prep for this protein as my portion was at a perfect medium rare. The addition of sitar gave the lamb a nice spice and boost of flavor. I savored every bite thinking of how much Hans would have enjoyed it as well.

The last course was a baked apple barley pudding with cinnamon tuile and Snowville Creamery anglaise:

For gluten reasons, I passed on this dessert, but it was getting rave reviews from the other diners at the table. I loved the use of barley as the grain by Chef Jarrett. Points for creativity indeed!

What I did notice immediately was the lack of the Garden Party theme in the visual non-food aspects of the event. This event producing group is known for taking a blank canvas of a location and transform it into something special – to so much more that its original being. When I heard we’d be “celebrating the garden”, I had a hope that perhaps we’d be outside under a tent next to the Marriott’s garden where AMP 150 grows its own produce. Perhaps there would be a planting ceremony or a harvesting… I had brainstormed all these crazy ideas. Perhaps I should blame myself for building up a grandiose idea of what I was getting into. Instead, it felt like I was dining in the AMP 150 dining room – like I could do on any other night. It’s something I normally have no issue with, but for a special event, was a point to note.

On another note for improvement: Not only do you expect high quality food at an Emerging Chefs event, they’ve also set an expectation for a large volume of adult beverages. Like one of my fellow diners, I wasn’t planning on drinking that evening so it wasn’t a big to-do for me. However I heard several comments from around the dining room from others that they were disappointed with the lack of drink pairings and the cash bar. I don’t know what happened behind the scenes but it was a noticeable subtraction from the usual.

THE POSITIVE: THE SERVICE: What really made this event shine for me was the human component as the people engaged with this event made its dishes soar.

First, the service staff at AMP 150 worked their behinds off that night. Not only did they serve the folks attending the EC event, the restaurant was open to the public and was busy. As they passed by our table located near the kitchen, I could see some faces of exhaustion fade away as they put on their game faces. It’s not easy to hold composure in a busy dining room so I give them all kudos. A familiar face – Stephanie – also took wonderful care of our table that evening, so I owe her a thank you for her kindness and attentiveness.

Secondly, Jeremy Lisy of KJ Greens was on hand to share his vast knowledge of growing these veggies that were featured in the above dishes. We learned a plethora of information. Did you know that peas are traditionally planted on St. Patrick’s Day? Or that ramps are only available for four weeks of the year, that their growing period is ten to fifteen years, and that you shouldn’t take an entire clump of ramps when you find them? Save some for your other NEO foodie friends!

But most importantly, Chef Jeff Jarrett deserves a gold medal. Not only did the man lead his team through an evening filled with a busy dining room, he took the time to connect with the guests individually in a variety of ways. For most, this meant visiting their tables to answer questions throughout the evening. But for me, he surprised me with some additional care. For this gluten free girl, he subbed me AMP 150’s Broccolini for the gnocchi course…

…and a fruit plate for the dessert course. Chef Jarrett even mentioned to me when he looked at the guest list and saw my name, he remembered my gluten intolerance and made a mental note to do his best to accommodate my dining needs during the event. Seriously?! I would have barely remembered what I was serving that evening, but he took the time to make sure every.single.diner was content. This little thing solidified that not only is he an excellent chef, he’s one hell of a guy. Rock on, Chef.

LONG STORY SHORT: Sure, there was no booze or a ridiculous tent set up outside, but the Garden Party still celebrated all that planting and hard work can bring. I was very happy to attend this event surrounded by good people that reminded me to let go of expectations and embrace the goodness in front of me. An evening filled of tasty food and great people – I’ll take any night of the week.

Disclosure: I was provided a media pass to the Emerging Chefs’ Garden Party event. As always, my thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Eka Pada Raja-what??? (or when my head touched my foot)

This morning, I received an email from a familiar place:


Three years ago today, I stepped into the Nishkama Yoga studio in Independence and took my first studio class with Jennette Zimmerman. She recently returned to teach on Thursday mornings but I haven’t had many chances to take class with her. But today, the Universe happened to clear my schedule. 75 sweaty minutes later, I’m feeling as energized after my very first class with her in 2009. To go along with today’s originally forgotten yoga anniversary, I had already planned to share a yoga post on a recent discovery on my mat.

Like my first yoga teacher training session in March, the April TT weekend was filled plenty of mental, physical and emotional experiences. They left me feeling drained but also filled with an intense energy and want to continue my learning. So on the Monday nights following a teacher training weekend, I practice with my teacher Laura at her vinyasa flow class. I like the opportunity to have the lessons from the weekend sink in via a physical practice the following day.

All day Monday, I questioned my decision to take her class that evening. Boy, I’m tired. Wow, my abs hurt. Wait, EVERYTHING hurts. Is this a good idea? But even with all that him-hawing, I was on my mat at 5:45 and ready to work. I did my best to fix my alignment in chair pose and the various twists we worked as they were a highlight of Sunday morning’s lesson. I was feeling strong – amazingly strong, considering how tuckered out I was earlier in the day. There was serious energy working in me that was taking me to some pretty cool places.

As it came time for the hip openers, Laura called out half pigeon pose, giving me the look of “don’t you dare start growling at me”. I’ve written and reminded you all about my distain for that pose, but in the past month, I’ve tried to be more open to it. No more growling. Minimal brow furrowing. More breathing. I’ve played around with arm placement as well as some twists in the pose which have made it less uncomfortable. I’m still not happy in it, but I’m learning to be more neutral than angry.

As I was starting to settle into my pigeon, Laura said “if you have Eka Pada Rajakapotasana in your practice, go there now”. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, or for those of you not regularly speaking Sanskrit, One-Legged King Pigeon Pose, looks like this:

(photo source from

As I was trying my best to remember which pose she was referring to, Laura came over as she was going remind me by assisting me into it.

It’s important to note that there’s A LOT going on when you take this pose. So so so many areas of your body have to be open. I’ve seen others play with the prep of getting into it, but only seen a few in person make contact of the foot and head like in the above picture. But I knew I could at least bend my back knee up and reach back to start the learning process.

Laura gently guided my body into the proper alignment: shifting my hips level, guiding my arms into the appropriate location and helping me to grab onto my toes. While it started as a hip opener, she lead me to a backbend. With her supporting me, she said “add a backbend and look who likes pigeon!” The intense stretch felt amazing all over and I couldn’t help but smile at her comment.

As our body has two sides, we switched and I settled into my pigeon on my left side – which is the side that tends to be looser. Laura again did the same assists that she did on the other side but then asked me to drop my head back. And before I knew it, I felt something on my head. Which was also paired with feeing something touching the bottom of my foot. And in that moment I realized: my head was being cradled by my foot.

My awareness quickly shifted to my eyebrows as they rose in reaction to such surprise and I whispered the only thing that I could in that moment: “holy crap.” And after a breath, I said it again. But while I was nearly speechless, my mind was chattering away: My head is touching my foot! My head is touching my foot!

Laura held me and reminded me to breath and to stay in the pose. While I actively stayed strong to hold it, the energy seeping from my body was so tangible it made it so much easier. As I let go of the emotion of surprise, that energy lead me into a place of calm where I felt like I could have stayed there for the rest of the evening. Unfortunately, we had shavasana and a meditation still to get to, so that wasn’t an option.

As she guided me out of the pose, I was fully aware of what I had just experienced – in more than just the physical sense. To think that pose that I’ve growled my way through lead me to this moment of openness and awareness. To think of how that lesson applies off the mat: dealing with the not so great times to then rise up to a moment of greatness. In that pose, I felt like all my hard work from that class, that previous TT weekend and the past few months of progression off my mat was showing me just how far I’ve come.

But it wasn’t without help from others. And sometimes being open to allowing for that help is the hardest part. I’m always down for a good assist when I’m on the mat. But I still need to be reminded that it’s okay to ask for help when I’m off of it. To reach out when I’m feeling overwhelmed or lonely. I constantly talk about the practice of synergy: alone we can only do so much, but together we can do so much more. Maybe through some more assists to Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, not only will I be touching my head to my foot on a more regular basis, I’ll be doing even greater things in those times outside of the yoga studio.

Damn pigeon pose. Now look at what you’ve gotten me into…

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