Monday, December 31, 2012

Welcome, 2013

I'm looking forward to a new year. I generally don't make resolutions on New Year's Eve. I like to try and work on stuff all year round. Also: I generally don't get it right, right away so my resolutions wouldn't last long! However, the timing kind of works out right that this week I am ready for a change.  Or, I'm at least ready to put what I want to work on out there.

1. One of the biggest things I feel I missed out on is being here more. I read through most of my old posts and I regret not having this year recorded. 2012 was an amazing and also, really difficult year for me. I don't have a lot of readers, but I know some of you wanted to know more and I left you hanging. I am sorry about that. To those who told me how much they enjoy reading what I write, I really appreciate it! I think of funny things I want to write about all the time and then don't. What's my deal?!

2. The difficult times have taught me a lot. I was having some major growing pains with my job (natural for my field) and had many days where I wasn't sure if I was going to find how I fit in. I've had some great supports along the way and some opportunities to learn more while staying with my current employer. That's a great thing. I really like my coworkers and what I do!

More importantly, I learned to appreciate the moment much better than I had. I used to always be stressed about having time off, what weekends I was working, what holidays I had off, etc. I learned that the memories I have of certain times are great, but I have to look forward. Any day of the week that my friends and family and I can spend time together, where we're all healthy and happy, is a gift. I realized I was missing too much trying to make sure I wouldn't miss anything! How silly. Besides, I have been extremely fortunate with my schedule and ability to have time off. It always worked out in the end.

I plan on trying to remember that and get even better at it.

3. I have to stop believing my own BS. I had a boss (it was actually my bosses boss) who had an expression. "Stop believing your own bullshit." I loved her frankness. She also really believed in all of us and I owe some of my courage to put myself out there to her. I still think of that phrase, because it's so relevant. Specifically, I need to lose this weight. Not to look better, not to wear certain clothes, but to be who I really feel I am. This is not me. I have been BSing myself that I can over eat, have sweets and drink wine if I eat healthy all day. So, I want to show up at the Cohasset Triathlon (second sprint tri!) this June without the limitations I haven't been able to shake.

Since our NYE dinner is ready, I'm going to finish this up.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bourbon Cider Sangria

I love fall. I love my hoodies and sweaters. I love having to make a little effort to stay warm. I love the way the light slants through the windows of our top floor apartment at 2pm. I love my boots! At last, I am finally relieved that summer is over and I don't feel the urge to squeeze every ounce of fun out of every day.

I especially love Thanksgiving. I love that it feels a bit like Christmas (and I'm finally allowed to listen to Christmas music! When I'm not alone anyway...), but without the stress of the gifts, the shopping, and the wrapping. Oh, the wrapping...

I usually bring something to my parents house that does not require the use of the kitchen. My Mom cooks everything and has her routine, which does not include me being underfoot! That usually means dessert and/or booze. This year I'm doing both. I decided on a cider sangria after seeing multiple recipes on pinterest. I tried one recipe, but it fell a little flat. This makes a big batch, so halve it if needed. Here's my remix:


Bourbon Cider Sangria






  • Two bottles of dry white wine (anything not too sweet)
  • 1 cup Canton ginger liquor
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of whiskey or bourbon (I used Jack Daniels)
  • 5 cups apple cider
  • juice of two lemons
  • 3 or 4 apples, chopped and sprinkled with cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a large container and let sit for at least two hours for the flavors to blend. You may want to try it with a 1/2 cup of bourbon, just in case 1 cup is too much for you. If you like bubbles in your sangria, top it off with seltzer. Want to be really fancy? Rub the rim of your glass with one of the apple pieces and dip it into a shallow plate covered in cinnamon sugar before you fill the glass.

Enjoy!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Baseball Soup aka Kale Soup

As soon as it gets cold around here, I want to make my grandmother's portuguese kale soup. We call it Baseball Soup, but I have no idea why! The problem is that the first time I want to make it, I have to hunt down the tattered piece of notebook paper it's scribbled on and it's usually where I left it 6 months prior. So, here it is, copied exactly as I found it in an email from my Mom, who copied it right off of the recipe card.

First, get a BIG pot to put everything in. It will shrink down after a while.




PORTUGUESE KALE SOUP
2 LARGE CANS COLLEGE INN CHICKEN BROTH
3 SMALL CANS COLLEGE INN BEEF BROTH
1 CAN 14. OZ STEWED TOMATOES
2 CANS PEA SOUP

2 CUPS CHOPPED KALE (1 PKG ABOUT 2 LBS) OR 2 PKGS FROZEN KALE CHOPPED
1 CUP CHOPPED CABBAGE (1/2 HEAD)
1 LARGE ONION DICED
3 STICKS CELERY CHOPPED

1 TSP BLACK PEPPER                                  TSP GARLIC SALT
1/2 TSP RED PEPPER FLAKES (OPTIONAL)   COUPLE SHAKES SALT

ADD AFTER ALL ABOVE HAS BOILED AT LEAST 1 HOUR
2 PACKAGES CHOURICO - PRICK SKIN AND PARBOIL 15 MINUTES.  WHEN COOL SLICE INTO SMALL PIECES
2 CANS BEANS (FAVA/CHICK) WHICKEVER YOU LIKE
6 RED POTATOES CHOPPED IN LARGE PIECES

DIRECTIONS:  
BOIL ALL INGREDIENTS ABOUT 1 HOUR - ADD CHOURICO, BEANS AND POTATOES AND BOIL AT LEAST ANOTHER 1/2 HOUR.


Notes: 

This is may be a bit confusing? Boil all of the first group for an hour. While you're doing that, you can parboil the chourico and cut it up. Then you can add the beans, potato and sausage for an additional 30 min. 

I use way more fresh kale, probably like 8-10 cups, or two bundles/bunches.

If you can't find chourizo, linguica is pretty close.

In an attempt to keep the sodium down, I use low sodium broth and salt free beans and canned tomatoes.

The canned pea soup is the condensed kind (but add it straight to the pot without adding water). I stopped using it for two reasons. First, it became impossible to find for a while. Second, it's really high in sodium. I usually buy dried split peas and simmer them forever until I can mash them into a paste, or if I'm feeling less patient, I put a bag of frozen peas into a little of the broth and mash them up once thawed. 

Feel free to adapt ingredients for your preference or dietary needs. It could easily be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth and just beans.

Lastly, my grandmother was famous for leaving ingredients out. I'm pretty sure adding some Old Bay seasoning is the solution for what I felt was missing. Do this at the very end so you don't over season.

Enjoy!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pimm's Maple Lemonade

Well, hi there! I've thought about you lot's. I'm still not great at blogging regularly, but there are a bunch of things I want to share:

Maine summer vacation

Maine food!

Baltimore wedding and adventures

Food! (in general)

and not least of all, my BAA Half-Marathon recap (to be honest, I'm still digesting this a bit).



Let's cut to the chase. I wanted to make something with the Pimm's I had hanging around. I saw a recipe that called for lemonade and I though, "well...I don't have that, but I have a bunch of lemons about to kick it and...some maple syrup!"


Pimm's Maple Lemonade






Ingredients:

Fill a shaker with 4-5 big ice cubes and pour in:

  • about 1/4 c fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 oz Pimm's
  • 1 oz gin (I used Bombay Saphire)
  • 2 Tbsp real maple syrup
  • splash of water

Shake it up and pour into a highball glass!



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Boston Triathlon race recap - August 12, 2012


What if I decide to just not be afraid?

Sounds silly, but it's pretty simple. I imagine myself standing in the sand at the edge of the ocean this August, feeling a cocktail of nerves, adrenaline and excitement. I'll feel a bit bittersweet, because once I start I will no longer be anticipating my first triathlon. I'll have a moment of self doubt where I realize that I can no longer dream of having a strong performance (when I should be happy to just complete it), because soon the writing will be on the wall. 

I will not be afraid.

I will feel the fear creep up from my stomach into my throat, but I'll push it down. I'll remind myself that there is absolutely no way I will be unable to finish the swim. I will fight and I will remind myself of this for 1/2 a mile until I reach the sand on the other side, but I refuse to be afraid. I will not acknowledge it.



Finally, that day came. In February, I wrote this post about embracing fear that included the text above. I've re-read it a few times leading up to Sunday's race.

I woke up at about 5am on Sunday 8/12 and rechecked the bag I had packed the previous night against the list I had made. This list was mostly to get my brain to let go of the endless worry that I would forget a piece of gear or something else important. I slept surprisingly well. I had gone to bed at about 10:30 and only woke up once before my alarm. I made myself a plain bagel with a teeny bit of peanut butter and some coffee for The Husband who was going to get up soon and basically be my transportation/roadie/photographer/moral support all day. I had a really hard time eating. I didn't have the normal upset, nervous stomach I usually do, but the bagel was making me gag. It took me about 30 minutes to eat 5 bites. It wasn't enough fuel for a whole day. I ate a banana, packed the rest of the bagel and brought my stuff down to put in the car. One of our neighbors was up early and outside. He had seen me training early, training late, training early and late and had been cheering me on as I progressed. It was nice to see another person who knew what I was doing who wished me luck.

It was a short drive down to the race, which was based in South Boston around Carson Beach. I can't even tell you how excited I got when I saw the fences, bike racks and transition arches set up. When we came the night before to pick up my packet, I squealed like a little girl and then got a little teary eyed. We got there at about 6:30 and I had a little over an hour until I had to be at the swim start. I set up my transition area as best as I could imagine I'd need it and soon enough it was time for the 8am pre-race meeting. 



I met up with the friend who had encouraged me to sign up for the triathlon and headed over with her. I had already put my wetsuit most of the way on and tested out the water. This is strongly recommended if it's at all possible for two reasons. One, you will just feel a little less nervous about the swim if you at least get in the water, if not warm up. Two, your wetsuit will settle around you a bit more and be more comfortable. I recommend searching for some videos online to help you get an idea of how to properly put on a wetsuit. It made the difference between feeling like I was being strangle by a giant elastic band or wearing a functional piece of clothing.

By the time the elite wave started, between 8:20 and 8:30, I was getting pretty hungry. I had taken a Gu energy gel at about 7:30 because I knew I could tolerate it, but it couldn't do much to make me feel full or make up for the light breakfast I had. I found a water fountain and drank enough to trick myself into feeling full. I distracted myself by being a little silly to the music they played and watched my husband sprint off to grab his bike helmet (a spare for me) for a racer who had left his at home in western Mass. I can't imagine how freaked out that guy must have been. I'm glad that I over-pack!



By 9:20 or so it was time for my wave to start. Out of 10 waves, spaced about 6 minutes apart, mine was last. This was on purpose to allow the novice triathletes to take their time without feeling like they'd be run down by the next wave (or people within their wave). The women in my group were great. Everyone was nervous but trying to support the women around them. Some were giving last minute tips. Some were just giving pep talks. I was trying ride the line between feeling like I was going to vomit and being hungry. This was it. Those buoys don't look THAT far away, I thought. The water is calm. I just have to swim out and then I HAVE to swim back. Then the count-down from ten began and I was running into the water before I could really think about it. I was in the front third of the pack and on the inside of the swim turns. I knew this would be a more popular area, since it's the shortest distance, but I just didn't care. I dove in and started swimming.



The swim course is shaped like a really tall trapezoid. The turn buoys at the top of the trapezoid are big blow-up red (orange?) triangles. Between these buoys and the shore, there were two big yellow guide buoys, one going out and one coming back in. I got about half way to the guide buoy and it happened...

You are SOOO tired! Told you you shouldn't have missed your last two swim classes, sore back or not. Maybe you should have done EXTRA swim workouts. You are TIRED and you are not even half way out. Fail. I'm not tired, it's adrenaline, shut up brain! Turn around, there are not that many people behind you. You're going to fade. All of them will pass you and you will be THAT CHICK. Joke-ity, joke, joke, joke. No...no I'm not. (Oh man there are only like 20 people behind me). I swim 90 minutes during my class. That's way longer than this. This is 20. Shut up. I can do this. I just have to get out to the kayak at the turn and if I really freak out I can hold on to it for a minute and then start again. Hold on because you are a BABY. 



I stopped, felt all the water around and under me, and then I got kind of pissed at myself. I flip on my back and take a few deep breaths. This is amazing, but I am out in the middle of all this water, swimming like I've prepared to do and my brain is making war with itself. I turn over, put my head down and decided that I would take 10 really strong freestyle stroke with each arm and see where I was. I would just concentrate on form. I'd do stroke drills if I had to!

Past the yellow buoy. Turn buoy up ahead.

If I get to the turn buoy, it's only a short distance across and then I can swim my face off back in! I'm going to make it! Why is my brain such a jerk?!



I round the turn buoy and finally feel like I can swim normally. I can easily see the shore, the start and finish and all the spectators going crazy cheering us in. This is so cool! I feel like I have a birds-eye view of everything, but I'm in the water. I round the next turn buoy and head back in. I'm pretty tired and I see that the wind has picked up and is coming in pretty strong from my left. A few of us are getting bunched up and pushed to our right by the gusts. It's taking a lot more effort to get back in. I really have to pull to the left to stay straight (and off of the poor girl next to me) and I feel like I'm barely moving. By the time I got out of the water I was pretty tired. I saw The Husband taking pictures and I managed to wave. I run up the beach to transition and strip my wetsuit down to my waist. I was warned about the transition being a bit of a jog from the swim and it didn't disappoint. Total swim time was 22 minutes. Since I do it in 20 in a pool, 22 is great considering my mini freak-out and the jog up the beach while trying to take my wetsuit off.

I manage to get the suit off fairly easily. I poured water over my feet to get the sand off and step over onto a hand towel to keep them clean. I dry my feet and put on my socks and sneakers (with baby powder in the socks, another good tip!). No bike shoes for this girl yet. I realize I'm really hungry and remember my bagel. I take a huge bit and, oh hey, it's stale.


I love this picture. It's a mix of, "so hungry!" and "what have I doooooone?!" 


Yeah. So that's the beginning of how to have a 6+ minute transition (6 minutes, true story). Eat something you're going to have to chew for-freakin-EVER. I try to soften it/wash it down with gatorade. I double check that I have my helmet buckled and my number belt on and go. Except my legs don't want to run. Definitely not with a bike across bumpy grass. I realized that as I leave the transition area that my bike time has started, but I have to get around and into a parking lot and across the mount line to even start riding. Oh man.

I finally get on my bike and I feel awesome! I love my bike! I don't feel shaky and as soon as I take the turn out of the lot onto the street I take off. I wasn't afraid of going fast, I wasn't afraid of passing other bikes, the wind gusts from the side didn't even rattle me. I saw The Husband and yelled WHEEEEEE!!! I lived through the swim and this is actually a lot of fun!



Only one person passed me on the bike, and it was a male rider on a pretty serious looking bike. He was obviously doing his second loop while I was doing my first. Without being close enough to be drafting (not allowed in most triathlons unless they are specifically draft legal), I tried to stick with his pace. I stayed with him until the turnaround and then I was met with the strongest headwind I've biked in. I bike down at the Cape Cod Canal frequently and have inadvertently gone just as the tide was changing, resulting in a strong headwind out AND back. This was nuts. I almost felt like I was picked up for a second at one point. I pedaled and pedaled as hard as I could, but lost my target. I was still picking off people in front of me, but we were all much slower. I went through the lot to do loop two. Now it was a bit windy out and back, but it wasn't bad. I pedaled as hard as I could, but I still felt slow. I made it back to the dismount line and tried to run my bike back in. It was impossible. I shuffled over as fast as I could, took off my helmet and ate a vanilla Gu with some water as quickly as possible. Almost all the bikes were back. But that's impossible...I passed so many people. My bike time was about 36 minutes for 9 miles. I normally bike that in about 27 without the adrenaline and push of race day. I was really dismayed until I realized that a good part of that was my lead-foot march to and from the mount line. Note to self: transitions and time between legs need improvement! I can't be too upset though. I gained about 33 places between the swim and bike (bike to run...notsomuch).



I ran out of transition and saw zero people on the run. I ran down the sidewalk to get to the street and was overwhelmed by the amount of finishers leaving. They ran the race, possibly went to the beer garden and now they're going home while I'm still out here running! I got into the run lane and finally saw some runners. I realized that I felt like I was all alone because of how the waves are staged. I will probably swim with my age group from now on to end up with more people around me. The run was the only part I really struggled with. I always feel like I'm running really slow after the bike. It feels so different, I have no way to gauge it. Every time I run faster than I normally do. This time I was sure I was bombing it. I felt like I was shuffling. I'd shuffle and then I'd walk. I was pushing myself to run, but I'd end up walking again. I couldn't figure out what my problem was! At the big turn-around point, you can clearly see and hear the finish (more cowbell!), but it's still almost a mile away. Oh hey, free beer! Total run time was about 45 minutes (4 miles).

I finally got to the finish and ran down onto the beach. I made it! I'm going to finish my first tri! I saw the clock at the finish, but it didn't mean much since it started about 50 minutes before I did. I knew I finished it in less than 2 hours so that was cool! I know I'm not supposed to worry about time in my first one, but I had an idea of what I was capable of and I wanted to push myself. Really, I should just consider doing it pushing myself! I included my times to give you and idea of what I did, that I'm just an average person who decided to do something I'm  fascinated with (but was frightened of).



I'm a triathlete! 

I can't really describe how it felt. I was super excited and already wanting to do my next one. There was just something about pushing through that negative voice during the swim that really made me so happy. 

* note: I'm probably going to go back and edit as I remember more, but this is my third sitting writing this. It's time to hit "publish"!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

No Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars



I've seen these No Bake Peanut Butter Bars pop up in a few of the blogs that I read and they looked really good. I went over to the site fANNEtastic food and there are a lot of other great recipes there too.  Check it out. There's a lot of possibilities with substitution in these bars, so don't feel like you need to go out and buy everything if you don't want to.

First, mix all of the dry ingredients.



Then mix the wet ingredients. She recommends microwaving the wet ingredients for 20-30 seconds to make the sticky mixture easier to spread. I don't have a microwave, so I just hoped for the best. It worked out fine. You just have to mix very very well. It will take a bit to really get the wet ingredients to spread evenly, but they will eventually.

Spread the mixture evenly in one big or two small pans and smoosh the mixture down. You can eat them now, although they'll be crumbly. Put the pans in the refrigerator, where they will firm up. I made a double recipe, which makes about 24 bars. I know that the portion size that makes 24 bars probably doesn't translate to a boy sized portion. Plus I find it impossible to not automatically want to double a recipe.





Ingredients (makes about 24 bars)

Dry
3 1/2 cups of rolled oats (quick cooking seem to work just as well)
3 cups of puffed brown rice cereal
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (or shredded)

Wet
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup brown rice syrup
1T vanilla extract

Combine dry ingredients in a big bowl. I also added 1 cup of dried cranberries to my dry mix.

Combine wet ingredients and microwave for 20-30 seconds if desired.

Pour wet ingredients over dry and mix really well. You might feel like it will never happen, but they'll mix!

Spread mixture into pans, pat down and put in the fridge to set.

Done!


They came out great! Like I said before, this is not my recipe (see link above for the original), but you can make it your own by switching up the ingredients. You can use a different cereal, use another nut butter, leave out or add different seeds or chopped nuts, add dried fruit or whatever you'd like. The chia seeds and flax can be a bit expensive, so don't feel like you need to buy them if you don't want to (although, they're good for you!). I already had them, so I put them in.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Chicken Veggie Burgers

These burgers are deceptively good. They're actually a reworked burger version of mini meatloaves I made this past winter (and never managed to share). If you are avoiding carbs, you can omit the panko bread crumbs and make the mini meatloaves. I'd still leave the oats, but you can omit those too if you really want. Just put the mixture into a muffin pan and bake at 375º for 35-40 minutes. I got the idea from sarahfit.com and changed it up a little.


This recipe will make 10-12 burgers, depending on how big you like them. Go ahead and get a big bowl to mix them up in. 



Even if you don't have many people to feed, I'd suggest making the full recipe. It freezes well. Just make the patties, put some parchment paper between each one, wrap in plastic wrap and put in the freezer. We'll wrap ours in sets of two since it's just the two of us. Tonight we'll cook all of them since we need dinner and lunch for the whole week and will be really busy through Thursday. 



Ingredients
2 lbs ground chicken
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup thyme, roughly chopped (2T dry if you don't have fresh)
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 cup parmesan (or similar) cheese - I used a parmesan, fontina, asiago blend from Whole Foods
2 eggs
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp chipotle pepper powder (less if you don't like spice)
1 tsp crushed red pepper (less here too if desired)
8-10 dashed of Worcestershire sauce (mine had one of those little spouts, if your's doesn't, about 2T)

Mix everything together in a large bowl and form into patties. Cook in a skillet or on the grill and garnish as desired. I have been craving these buffalo chicken burgers I used to make. They have a lot of sodium if made from that recipe, so maybe I'll put just a little blue cheese and buffalo sauce on these. They're good just on their own though. I ate 2 right out of the muffin pan when I made them last time! If you're really worried about the sodium in the Worcestershire sauce, as I usually would be, use a bit less. Since I ended up with 12 burgers, it's not really a lot per burger.

We made Smitten Kitchen's Chopped Salad with Feta Lime and Mint to go with it. Minus the feta because I forgot to buy it (SAD) and subbing cilantro because my Whole Foods NEVER has mint. WHY?!

Lemon Thyme Margarita

As a reward for getting my butt out of bed on a drizzly 67º Sunday morning and facing the beach where my triathlon will held for a wetsuit swim, I made myself a Tequila-Thyme Lemonade from Martha Stuart's Everyday Food Blog. I follow the blog in my google reader and have found some great recipes. Even better, every Friday there's a Cocktail O'Clock entry!

I made it exactly as the recipe was written and it wasn't what I expected. I suggest you try it that way as well (click on the drink name above for the original). I think I really wanted it to be more like a margarita, so I adapted it a bit.


Muddle together two lemon wedges, 5 sprigs of thyme and 2 teaspoons of super fine (confectioners) sugar.



Add the juice of half a lemon, 3 oz of white tequila, ice and stir. I prefer Herradura tequila, but use what you like.



Ingredients


2 lemon wedges
2 tsp super fine sugar
5 thyme sprigs
juice of 1/2 a lemon
3 oz white tequila
ice

Muddle first three ingredients in a glass. Add the remaining ingredients, stir and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Training recap

Well...

I feel like I don't have an idea for a whole cohesive entry here, but it's been way too long. I really need to just write shorter entries more often.

I promised a training update. I got in a little bit of hot water with my trainer, because she wasn't super happy about how overcommitted I was with triathlon and half marathon training. I thought we HAD talked about it and it was okay, but maybe since there was so much going on in my life she was just being cautious. Either way, I'm signed up for both and just $75 from meeting my half marathon commitment to Dana Farber.

Basically, I have done a MESS of brick workouts. A brick is when you bike and then immediately run. It helps you get over the "my legs feel like a ton of bricks" feeling after riding a bike and trying to run, hence the name. Sometimes it's just a long (for a sprint tri) bike and then a run. Other times it's a medium bike distance, followed by 5 or 6 jog/sprint intervals and then the whole cycle is repeated. I do 4 of those bricks a week, one day of my getting my butt kicked personal training and one 75 minute swim class.

In the interest of not having a pictureless post, here I am, mid-brick at the Cape Cod Canal at Scusset Beach. Yes, I will probably wear this obnoxious hot pink tank at the tri even though I complain about the "pinking and shrinking" of women's sporting goods.


Recently I've been doing some short open water swims in my rental wetsuit. I got mine from http://www.wetsuitrental.com/ , which came highly recommended and I can't be happier. I've never put on one before, but they did such a good job picking out one for my height/weight/shape and gave such good instructions for putting one on that I felt comfortable in it right away.

The OCEAN notsomuch. I picked a real crap day to do my first open water swim. I also broke rule number one and did it alone. Well, my Mom drove me out there and brought her book (you know, for like the 10 minutes I swam) but when the current started pulling me and my awesomely bouyant wetsuit out away from shore, I thought she might not be amused if she looked up from her book and I'm there all waving, getting smaller.  "No worries...imma just ride this rip current out and swim around. BRB!" So yeah, I had one of those swim! SWIM! SWIIIM!!! swimmyswimmyswiiiiiiiiiimmmmmMMMMM!!! moments. I was fine. I just didn't like that I felt like I should be moving faster, but in reality, there was no way to know how fast I was going. I would honestly rather not wear the wetsuit at all, since that's what I'm used to and the cold really doesn't bother me. I know that it will help me swim faster in the long run though. Plus, if I do get nervous, it does add the security of buoyancy. Which also feels weird and bugs me out.

Mostly all of this training has gone great. Right now I'm having some trouble with my back being sore and spasming. Right now I should just be getting home from swim, but I had to skip it. I hate that since I know I probably can'y squeeze in a make-up without sacrificing other training, but it won't help me to make myself completely immobile either. Tomorrow I plan on doing a brick, which is SUCH a pain in the butt in Boston. It's so hard to find somewhere that isn't crowded by a million other people or where you won't get run over. (I'm looking at YOU MBTA bus who almost right hooked me. Glad I cold broaden your vocabulary.) I'll get over it. Then I'll wait for The Husband to get home from work to drive me to Carson beach so I can do a 1/2 mile swim. This is the area my triathlon is based out of, so I think I'll feel a lot better with that behind me. Friday I volunteer with Back on my Feet at 5:45am and then I have personal training. Saturday is work. Sunday is long brick day at the Cape Cod Canal. Then I have 4 more days of work, vacation and a tri at the end!

Speaking of vacation, next Friday I'll be headed to Maine to visit family! Yay! I cannot wait. It's also the weekend of the Maine Lobster Festival and we plan on doing the 10K. My inlaws always volunteer on course and take a ton of great pictures too! It's always a great combination of family, fun and relaxing on the porch.

I'm a little nervous because I pretty much know exactly how much time I have (or don't) fot tri workouts, but if I wasn't like that, people would probably start checking me for a pulse.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chopped Farm Stand Salad

First, pour yourself a glass of wine...does anyone else feel like it makes cooking much more relaxing?



Um, but don't have too much. You don't want to cut your arm off with all of the chopping you're going to do.

When it's hot outside I really don't want anything heavy or hot to eat. On the other hand, by the end of June I am totally over salads. I finally figured out that I love all the add-in veggies, but the lettuce...oh, the lettuce...it's so much effort! It's a pain in the neck to eat and I feel like it's only there to justify the other vegetables. But, why?! This salad will make good use of your overflowing garden (I wish....but the husband nixed the fire-escape tomato idea), CSA or farmers market goods. Plus, it won't be a pain in the butt to eat! Hooray!



I used mostly local veggies, but I have to admit that I wanted asparagus (out of season...from Peru) and the cute mini heirloom tomatoes were from the US but not local. Everything else you can get near you. The point is to enjoy whatever super fresh veggies are around right now. Feel free to substitute as desired. (Full recipe at the end)

Start by mixing the dressing so it can sit for a little while.



Definitely chop that garlic up before putting it in the bowl. You may think, hey, it would be really great to mash this up with the basil, but it won't end up like you thought. Trust me. Also, just put the basil in at the end with the other veggies.


Maybe consider zesting that lemon before you cut it in half an juice it. It's probably a lot easier. Also, don't knock over your wine glass with the zester. You're welcome.

I do things the hard way so you can learn. That's all.

Whisk it up, let it sit and chop up your vegetables. Oh, that bowl you're going to choose? Pick the bigger one. It never fails that I pick a bowl wayyyy too small. You'll need room to mix everything anyway. Once those veggies are all in a bowl, whisk it again and pour it over the top.



You can serve it as a side or add anything you want for a full meal. I added some cheese tortellini, but definitely underestimated how much to buy. I'll probably also have some chicken with it. The best part is that there will be a ton of left-overs, which is necessary for the amount of chopping.

Dressing


1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c red wine vinegar
juice of two lemons
zest of one lemon
1 tbsp of whole grain mustard
1 tsp honey
salt and pepper to taste

Salad


4 medium sized tomatoes
small container of mini heirloom tomatoes
1 large carrot
1 large cucumber
1 summer squash
1 zucchini
2 bell peppers (I chose one red and one orange)
15-20 radishes
1 bunch asparagus
fist-full of basil

Cook the asparagus in boiling water for a minute or two, just until it starts to turn bright green. Pour into a colander and run under cold water. Chop the asparagus and the rest of the veggies into the desired size. I cut everything into chunks, except for the squash, zucchini and radish which I sliced thin, and the basil, which I cut into ribbons. Mix everything together, adding any beans, pasta, etc. Pour the dressing over the top and mix again.

I'd let it sit for a while in the fridge for the dressing to set in.

Enjoy!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Slimmed-down Piña Colada


I got the idea for this cocktail from a blog I regularly read and enjoy, Carrots 'n' Cake. We've been mixing up cocktails for the boat when we go to visit my parents, but the last round of sugary Mai Tais killed out stomachs (but they were SO GOOD!). The recipe is great as she makes it, but I'm not sure just the coconut rum will cut it with everyone I may make them for!

Slimmed-down Piña Coladas

6 oz coconut water (such as Vita Coco or another brand)
3 oz pineapple juice
2 oz coconut flavored rum
1-2 oz white rum (if desired, to taste)

Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice, shake it up and you're done!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Why I'm running for Dana-Farber



On October 7th this fall, I will be running my third half marathon with the Boston Athletic Association. This year I will be fundraising for Dana-Farber Cancer Center. To those who have donated, thank you so very much!

I am $300 of the way to my $500 minimum and I'd really like to raise $1,000. If you would like to donate and haven't received the link on facebook or through email, you can email me or comment on here.

*****

My first memory of knowing what cancer was, was when I lost my grandfather to lung cancer when I was around 7. I was too little to understand that he had even been sick, and at first I didn't really understand that I wouldn't see him anymore either. I did understand that my Mom had been out somewhere and came home sadder than I had ever seen her. That made me sad too, although I still wasn't sure why. Back then, my Mom was the same age I am now and one of my aunts was only 17 or 18. There were also three other children in their family, along with my grandmother. I run in his memory and I run because none of them, my grandfather or his family, should have to go through that.

I saw someone else fight breast cancer, and win, although I barely remember it since I was so young. I run for her and her family too.

Later, in middle school, I had a friend who had a type of lymphoma. I knew she was sick and often felt weak and had dizzy spells. I saw that she lost her hair, but I just couldn't wrap my head around it. It just didn't seem fair (and it wasn't) that a child could get cancer. We were basically children at that point, even if we thought we weren't! I remember how I tried to imagine how I'd feel if I was her and couldn't. I remember being impressed with how, no matter how badly she felt, she was always kind and had a great spirit (and still does). I run for her and for the fact that no child should have to worry about more than the sniffles when it comes to their health.

Then there's:

Colon cancer survivor

Lung cancer survivor

Skin cancer survivor

Someone lost to head/neck cancer

Prostate cancer

Two survivors of salivary gland cancer, the same type that took Adam Yauch. One of them is my age. The other fought it and beat cancer for the second time.



I run for all of you above and anyone else I didn't put on this list. I run for anyone who has hurt seeing someone they love suffer. I run because someone I love is facing it again.

I run because it's another way I can help someone fight.



Monday, June 18, 2012

The bike

Well...it's certainly been longer than I expected to post about my bike and training. Here are some pictures of it. Excuse the slightly grainy iphone pics. I never ended up grabbing my real camera.

2012 Specialized Allez Comp Apex (SRAM Apex)





It's so pretty! It's so pretty that 3 days after my last post I crashed it. Like, not a fall, not into something, not hit by a car, but 25-30mph caught in a groove thrown through the air crash. I was on a bike path and passing someone who must not have heard me. When he drifted slightly towards me I started to get nervous but was ok until I got caught in a groove in the pavement. It was totally my fault. He was still in his lane and I got spooked when my wheel caught. Lesson learned. My chain came off and the guy stopped to help me get it back on (I was pretty shaky) and make sure I was ok. My thumb was bleeding like crazy and I had smashed my wrist, but I could get home. I had about a mile to go. I was still to shaky to want to ride my bike, so I walked it about halfway home until I got sick of it. With about half a mile to go I decided that I felt fine and that I wanted to get the getting-back-on-the-bike over with. I rode home and got some funny looks. It wasn't until I went to shower that I realized I had rubbed blood from my thumb allllll over my neck. THAT must have been an interesting sight riding down a busy street in Boston. Then I got out of the shower and my wrist looked like this:




Yeah...it was pretty ugly. It's mostly healed except for a lump at this point. I didn't go to the ER because I felt like it really just needed some ice. I hope that was the right choice!

I also found that the big chainring on the front was wobbly and clicked when I pedaled. I brought it to the shop where I had bought the bike and they ended up needing to replace it. Of course it was over Memorial Day weekend when I really wanted to take it out with my family! A few days later I got it back:

"Reunited and it feeeels so gooood..."

At this point, I've been out and been okay. I was super nervous around other people at first, but I'm getting over that. I really love how the bike rides, but it is very responsive. I really have to be 110% mindful of what I am doing and thinking. I feel a bit like a poser having this awesome race bike, but lacking the skills to really ride it like I should, but I keep reminding myself that I bought it to grow into.

8 weeks to go! I have my work cut out for me.

Next up:

Tory Row 5K race recap (and PR!)

BAA Half Marathon 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How long?

It's been almost 2 weeks since I've posted? Really? Well, that's not okay. Maybe I've been distracted by...

MY NEW BIKE!!!!!!!

I was waiting to post until I could get some good, maybe non-iphone pictures, but that may take a bit. I also wanted to take my phone out on a ride to take some pics, but I ran out of bike fund money (darn you beautiful shiny bike!). I ended up going with the Specialized Allez Comp Apex (SRAM double tap). I LOVE how the Allez Comp feels. I'm 5'4" so the extra-small (49) compact frame feels more like something I can control and less like an overly touchy, twitchy bike that some people experience. Don't get me wrong. I just have to feel nervous and I start to zig zag, but I'm getting better at heading that off. I certainly feel every crack in the pavement, but I like it like that.

In other news....weigh in: 152.8!  That's exciting, but just after I got a stomach bug and then the post-bug super-hunger. So, I'm betting that I'll stay the same this week if I'm lucky. I never lose weight when my stomach bothers me. I get too hungry after.

Also on tap for this week? Making a plan for my triathlon that combines more running since the tri is 3 months from this past Saturday (and I plan to run a half marathon 2 months after that)! I'm going to use somewhat of a combination of a beginner tri program and the FIRST intermediate (or whatever the equivalent is) half marathon plan.

Have a good rest of the week everyone! If the recipe I'm working on comes out well, I'll have that to share for you too.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Almost a bike owner!

I test rode bikes today. HOORAY! But first...my weigh in.

153.8! Down 1.2lbs. Whose's LOLing now, SCALE?

So after months and months of bike stalking online, I finally went to Landry's bicycles in Boston. I was really nervous, which I'm sure shocked you. Just like the first day I went to the pool, I was totally intimidated. That turned out to be really silly, because the guy that helped me was really friendly and super helpful. The rest of the people working there looked like they would be just a helpful too. He came over right away to see if we needed help. I told him I was looking for a bike for a triathlon and thought a road bike would be my best bet for now. It's my first bike since childhood and my first tri, so I don't need anything crazy (yet...heh, heh, heh). I also said that I wasn't too set on men's vs women's bikes or brands but that I'd like to at least try the Specialize Allez line since multiple people recommended it.

He fit me for frame size on a women's Trek and men's bike that I can't remember now. I also tried a few to get an idea of how different bikes within that size fit me. I ended up test riding the Dolce Sport. I can't remember if it was the Compact or the Triple in that line.




 He had me try it just to get an idea if I'd like that set up. It's supposed to feel more stable and comfortable than a typical road bike, although it may also be a bit slower. I really didn't like it! I was kind of sad because it's a nice bike. They have a parking garage behind the shop that you can ride around in, which was nice since it was raining (and has rained the last 4 days I've wanted to go get a bike). I felt like I was either going to tip over when cornering or not be able to turn the wheel enough to make the turn. I thought maybe it was me, but it was really bad! The guy helping me was pretty amused since I had the exact opposite reaction to the bike than most people. It's supposed to feel much easier to control. I felt like I was going to crash the entire time.

Next I tried the Trek Lexa SLX.




I liked this one a lot! BUT, I just wasn't sure. This one was $1,300, which is about the top of what I want to spend and only trying two bikes was making it hard to commit. I was limited somewhat by my price range and what I was looking for, as well as the fact that I'm short and they didn't have some of the ones I should try in stock. He spent another 20 minutes or so talking about the Specialized Allez options since they were out of those as well. So here's the plan. They're ordering the two from the Specialized Allez line for me to try. Since they carry them anyway, it's no big deal if I don't want either.  

The Comp Apex Mid Compact:






and the Elite Compact:




Yeah, yeah, they look pretty much the same. The top one has orange detail and the bottom one has red. The components are a lot different on each, but you cant exactly tell from the pictures. If I don't like either of these, then I will probably end up going with the Trek. Which I didn't put a deposit on to hold for the week while I wait for the other two to come in. Eeek! I am so excited, I can't wait!


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

run2012summer playlist!

Yup, that's the playlist title. I'm so creative! 


I used to edit my playlists as I went, but then I got nostalgic for my first running paylist, which didn't exist anymore. Now I just make new ones as I go, even if there's a lot of overlap. This is most of my current one, which is still in progress.

Let me digress a bit right here. I'm hearing the push back from the non-music purists. I hear ya. I don't run in races so I can experience EVERYTHING, good and bad, about the race. Some of my best memories are due to the spectators that I'd miss if I had an ipod on. I also run without music on 90% of my outdoor runs. This is especially true if I'm doing "quality work," ie speedwork or at pace long runs. I don't want to practice these with music, which generally makes my runs easier, when that won't be the reality on race day. Unfortunately, since triathlon training and half marathon training will overlap I won't have much time for extra fun runs. I'm probably going to be doing something along the line of the FIRST training plan that incorporates 3 quality running days (such as a day of track repeats, a tempo run and an at pace long run) with 2 cross training days (bike and swim for the tri), plus the 2 days of strength I do with my trainer. I do use music on the treadmill (yeah yeah...as a bribe) and when I just have the urge to go out for fun with a soundtrack. This past week, I was excited about my new Bad A** sunglasses and just wanted to get out with them, my hot pink compression socks and some music.

Here's 10 selections from my list:

#1 - If you're not totally sick of this song, but instead, obsessively channel hop while driving to catch this song as many times as you can (my record = 4 times in a row!) then you get it. If not, you're groaning right now and can skip this one. I'm telling you. Starting a run the way I did with this song was a highlight. Plus it was a crisp, clear, bright and sunny 60º.






#2 "And it's hard to dance, with the devil on your back. So skake him off. Oh woah!"

I'm posting some of these with lyrics instead of the videos, because I prefer my memories and vision of the song more than the video. There are a few songs out there that I won't watch the video to so I don't mar a particularly special memory.







#3 Get this remix. The original song is good, but I like this version so much better. I LOVE this version, actually. If you haven't seen it, maybe wait a bit to watch the video. I'm not crazy about it at all.






#4 This is a nod to St Patrick's Day and Joshua Tree, who did and amazing job playing at The Burren.






#5 I know I mentioned this song before, but it's still a lot of fun to run to!




#6 IRONMAN KONA!!! I always thought I had to earn my way to the athletic clothing, neon compression socks and cool-guy sunglasses by learning to run fast first. Then I realized it's all mental. Wear what you want, put on your game face and go out and run. No one knows that you're running a 10 minute mile at the beginning. For all they know you've been out for hours. Take yourself seriously, show up dressed and ready for the role you want and RUN. No one's going to call you up later to fill in for the part. Claim it yourself.





#7 Yeah, I like Linkin Park. WHAT OF IT?






#8 I  love men in uniform, am obsessed with the ocean and anything maritime, rescue swimmers and the movie The Guardian. I just found out that my awesome swim coach just joined the Coast Guard Auxilliary to coach their swimmers and she is my new hero. I mentioned my favorite movie and she was like, "YES! I LOVE that movie!" You know...'cause she's awesome! When I'm having a particularly tough time in class I think of this song. Not the real video, but this version:






#9 This is just a good, head-down gut-it-out at the end of the run song:






#10 Another fun. song. I'm sorry. I just love them! This is a great celebratory end of run song. If my run is longer than this list, I just repeat this song or go back to We Are Young.




That's it! Have fun! (and listen to fun. SERIOUSLY)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Weigh In!

First, hello to the new readers on here! I know some of you have come over from the Sub-30 Club and I'm so happy to have you here! Well, I assume that's what's going on, since I went from 6 or so readers to 20-something. I'm slowly getting through the other blogs posted, but I love finding new ones!

I have to say that I am loving the My Fitness Pal website. I logged my off-work days and found that if I was eating what I knew I should, I came in right around the calorie target. I logged a day of food for a work day, which wasn't required, just to see how I was doing then too. Turns out I was under eating quite a bit. This was absolutely not on purpose and I strongly encourage everyone to make sure they are eating enough. Clearly four light days where I am at work and running my butt off and then 3 days where I eat too much (and not always the most nutritious choices) was hurting me. Now I eat at least the minimum, but more on heavy workout days if I'm hungry. I also make sure I'm well hydrated since thirst, at least to me, feels just like hunger. It's actually worse, because when I'm really dehydrated, I crave salty and sweet snacks and not anything healthy. That's now my cue to chug some water.

Well, from Monday to Friday I lost 3 pounds! So, I'm back to 155. That's great, but I need to break through this point and keep on moving down. I do feel good about it since I have a plan and an ultimate motivation - a half ironman and a full ironman sometime in the future. I want to be doing these somewhere in the 130-140 range. I really have no idea exactly where since I've never been there. Well, as an adult anyway...

I had swim class today. I love my class and my teacher is great. There's rarely more than 5 or 6 of us so we get pretty detailed instruction for a very low group rate. The last two weeks, I've finally gotten to the point where everything is starting to click and I can glide more (or waste less energy). She's really happy with my stoke count across the pool (16-18 in 25 yds...not sure how that really compares in swimming) and how much my form has improved. I'm sure I have a long way to go, but for someone who was so scared of a group swim class that signing up had me sweating, that's pretty good! The funny part of the class was when the three of us that showed up were doing freestyle sprints. I get back to the wall and she's laughing. Then she says, "and Jillian swam the length of the pool and only took one breath after she started!" Haha....oops. I tend to do that if I'm not thinking about making sure I breathe more often. While she said she was impressed with my lung capacity, breath control and head position (which is easy if you don't move it to breathe!), she wanted me to at least practice breathing every other stroke for now. Sometimes I forget and do every three. At least if I get tossed around in my tri I know I can hold my breath for a while!

She aslo helped me with my glute pain. Turns out from what she said (from her experience) and what I now remember from others' experience, it is likely piriformis syndrome. UGH. Once she said that I'm sure it is. There's definitely sciatic nerve involvement. How did that not occur to me? I know enough people that have dealt with it. Anyway, the typical causes (tight hamstrings...DUH...among other things) are problems I have been dealing with so at least now I know how to deal with it. For now, running doesn't hurt it and swimming is the only time I don't feel it at all.

I'll keep you posted. Have a great week!