when my brother ran the 2015 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon

Maybe it’s the energy of 20,000 plus people. Maybe it’s the memory of participating in the past. Maybe it’s the rush of knowing someone is accomplishing something epic. Whatever it is, I know one thing — you can’t beat race morning. That fact remained true this past Sunday at the 2015 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. My brother signed up to run the full marathon again this year and I enthusiastically agreed to follow him along Cleveland’s West side.

Two years ago, Drew ran his first half marathon in 1:46:36. Last year, he ran his first full marathon, finishing in 3:51:29 — truly an  amazing time for his first 26.2-er. Going in to this year’s race, knowing the weather situation and how the last few weeks of his training went, Drew was hoping to match his time from last year — even though his original stretch goal was something closer to that 3:30-3:45 range. But with high humidity and warm temperatures, Drew knew he had to be smart and pace himself. And knowing the history of wonky knees in our family, I agreed with his plan.

My race crewing plan for 2015 remained the same from 2014: meet up with Drew every seven miles with Powerade and extra energy chews. Since the race course changed slightly, I hunkered down at Mile 7 near the corner of W. 58th and Lorain.

I have to admit — my interest in race crewing is for many (selfish even!) reasons, those being the many people I have the honor of cheering on along the course including @WestParkRunner who was pacing the 3:25 marathon group…

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Ryan in the middle wearing the blue tank and holding the pacing sign.

…Drew’s friend (and weight loss success story!) Ian (@andersiw on IG)…

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…and fellow Cleveland bloggers Jessica and Pam at mile 14, at the corner of Lake and Nicholson (near West 117th-ish).

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As for Drew, this is pretty much how he looked at each of those mile markers I met him at that morning:

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Looking strong, smile on his face — and ready for some Powerade. The entire race, Drew was pacing way faster than planned. Once I saw him at mile seven, I knew he was going to blow his previous personal best out of the water — so we had to stay on the move at a quick pace ourselves! After seeing Drew at mile 21 (here in this picture), Hans, my mom and I buzzed along East on I-90, overshooting downtown by getting off at Superior, then cutting back through Public Square to get to our tip top secret parking spots. (Sorry, not sharing — gotta protect my spot for 2016!)

We got downtown with just enough time to see Drew run down and to the finish line, finishing the race in 3:36:56 — a 14 and a half minute PR from last year’s Cleveland Marathon. Nice work, bro! Sweaty and tremendously tired, he even obliged me for a few family pics to commemorate the morning.
cle marathon 2015 collage

LONG STORY SHORT: He may be younger, but I find myself always looking up to my little brother – figuratively & literally.

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Drew sets realistic goals, and then chases the heck out of them until he can say he’s accomplished them. He recognizes when things aren’t going as planned, and then adjusts as needed. But most importantly, he knows to not take life too seriously and to enjoy the ride. Bro, I love ya and I’m proud to be your big sister — marathon medal or not.

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Introducing Door to Door Organics (+ GIVEAWAY)

Disclosure: Door to Door Organics approached me with an opportunity to share information about their products and services. In return, I received an account credit and three certificates to provide as reader giveaways. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Confession: I’m one of those  individuals that enjoys grocery shopping. Perhaps it’s the excitement of getting to pick out items to use in my kitchen to create fun meals. Perhaps its knowing my choices line up with my health and wellness goals, supported by the finest quality ingredients I can find. But I have to admit — the idea of having my groceries delivered to my house was always tempting. With Spring in full effect, I rather be soaking up the sun than pushing a shopping cart!

Luckily for us food lovers in Cleveland, Akron and 20 other surrounding communities, we are just a week away from being able to use a new-to-Ohio company for deliveries of organic produce and natural, local groceries right to our doorsteps — this Ohioan included! Introducing Door to Door Organics:

DTDO porch

Door to Door Organics partners with farmers to bring fresh, organic produce and Good Food groceries right to your doorstep. They believe that food should be good, quality is a must, flexibility is key, that eco-friendliness is something to strive for and in free delivery for their customers.

Signing up for their produce delivery program was easy via their user friendly online system. I selected a produce box, chose the start date for my delivery, entered my contact info and I was confirmed for weekly deliveries of their Bitty Mixed Box (good for 1-2 people) once a week this summer.

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Starting on Friday, I’ll be able to further customize my order each week, including shopping for additional groceries including meats, fish, dairy, breads and other pantry items. Their list of local farmers and purveyors include Green Fields Farms, Hartzler Family Dairy, Phoenix Coffee and Good Greens. Before we know it, this will be on my porch.

DTDO Mixed Box

At the rate Hans and I plow through fruits and veggies, the mid-week delivery is going to be a HUGE convenience. Depending on how it’s going, we might decide to switch to the Small box later this summer. I bet we will as I’ve already been inspired by the array of recipes on the site.

You can sign up now and save $10 off — click here to register todayOn May 15th, you’ll get an email letting you know your order has opened for shopping, and next week, you too will have that box on your doorstep.

Want to win some free Door to Door Organics goods this summer? Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway as I’m giving away three $50 shop credits to three lucky readers. Giveaway is open thru midnight on Monday 5/18 — winners will be announced later that morning. Enter today:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Fine Print — Please Read! By agreeing to enter this giveaway, you agree to receiving one email from Door to Door Organics regarding their products/services. No other emails will be sent. Your email will not be shared otherwise.

Join me in welcoming Door to Door Organics as they make Cleveland their new home: follow them on Facebook, on Twitter at @dtdorganics, on Instagram at @doortodoororganics and at Pinterest.

Disclosure: Door to Door Organics approached me with an opportunity to share information about their products and services. In return, I received an account credit and three certificates to provide as reader giveaways. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Mediterranean Earth To Table Dinner at the Culinary Vegetable Institute

The opportunity to check something off your bucket list is always an exciting one. My culinary bucket list has been taking some hits recently with getting to partake in a CSA last Summer, meeting my celebrity chef crush in the Fall, and enjoying the seafood tower at Pier W this Winter. This Spring, another check mark was made: I attended my first Earth To Table Dinner at the Culinary Vegetable Institute (CVI) at The Chef’s Garden.

About the Earth to Table Dinners (from the CVI website): Monthly Earth to Table dinners are exclusive fine dining gatherings that are hosted at The Culinary Vegetable Institute. The Earth-to-Table dinners feature seasonal vegetables grown on the nearby The Chef’s Garden farm interpreted in the unique culinary style of visiting chefs from all over the country.  Having a love of food in common, strangers who are seated together often leave as friends.

This Earth To Table Dinner, with Chef Jamie Simpson and Chef Ülfet Ozyabasligil Ralph, that took place earlier this month was to be a special one as it was Ülfet’s last dinner before headed off on other adventures. To leave her mark, Chef Ülfet planned a Mediterranean menu to honor the regions many cultures.

CVI Menu
Upon an easy hour drive out to Milan, our arrival at the Institute, and meeting our fellow dinners at our ten top, we got to eating…
Amuse Course - Turkish raki, sardine, crispy olive oil bread, Castelvetrano olive emulsion and artichoke:

CVI amuse

Mezze Course (its portions presented and passed throughout the entire evening): Chickpeas with Garlic, Olive Oil and Olive Paste, Olives, Pesto Pickles, Labne and Grape Leaves (which were filled with red quinoa — genius!)

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Salad Course: Shaved cucumber, petite lettuces, coin onion, dill, confit lemon, honey and green almond. (You’ve never had cucumbers that tasted like this — incredibly fresh, as they should be as they were just picked right from The Chef’s Garden!)

CVI salad

Garden Course: Olive Oil Poached Vegetables with arugula, green garlic and fava beans. (Unpictured because Hans and I were too busy finishing off the family style platter brought for our table of ten. #sorrynotsorry)

“Water” Course: Grilled octopus, mussells, sea beans, sea samphire, pink tip parsley, sumac broth, ramps and parsley. (Our table loved this protein option.)

CVI water

“Land” Course: Grilled lamb, baby squash, morel mushrooms, bulgur wheat, mint, yogurt, pomegranate, pomegranate molasses and squash bloom. (So many oooh and ahhs over this dish — one well seasoned culinary professional at our table said he didn’t believe he had ever had lamb so perfectly prepared before. And those squash blossoms had even more lamb inside them! #jackpot)

CVI land

Pre Dessert Course: Tapioca pudding with mastic, strawberry, rhubarb and florets. (A fantastic segue into the final course, IMO.)

CVI pre dessert

Dessert Course: White Chocolate Spheres with flowering herbs, sour cherry mousse and pistachios. (The prefect end to this meal. I could have taken home a dozen of these spheres for the ride back to Parma!)

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LONG STORY SHORT: Three hours flew by, leaving us with content full stomachs and an overwhelming need to return back to Milan for another visit to CVI and The Chef’s Garden. I had only wished we arrived a bit earlier to enjoy the land surrounded the kitchens in the daylight! But with the moon overhead, it was time to head out, but not without proper thank yous to Farmer Lee Jones and Chef Ülfet.

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Note the purple beehive frame with the fairy behind us — the staff made this in honor of Ülfet after all of her hard work at the organization. It’s been placed in their gardens for them to remember her. If you head out to the farm, keep an eye out for it!

Want to see more? Head over to the CVI Facebook album for more photos from the April 18th dinner. What to attend a dinner yourself? Visit the CVI website to learn more about their upcoming offerings and purchase your tickets today.

P.S. to you bloggers/power social media users: it seems as though we’ll have the chance to visit CVI and The Chef’s Garden this summer for some Ohio Blogging Association fun — stay tuned!

Disclosure: Chef Ülfet invited Hans and me to attend this Earth to Table Dinner at the Culinary Vegetable Institute. Dinner was provided by CVI, and we happily paid for our adult beverages and gratuity. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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