Saturday, January 19, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Martini

So here it is....I finally found the peanut butter rum I have been blathering about for months and months. The brand is Castries and it's more of a liqueur than a rum, although it does contain rum from St Lucia. It's has a creamy consistency, almost like an Irish Cream and a true roasted peanut taste. I found it for $29 at a well stocked liquor store. If you're in the Boston area, I found it at Liquor Land.

It may or may not come in the box picture above. 
I almost gave up looking for it because I was scanning the rows for the bottle.

Peanut Butter Cup Martini

3 oz Castries peanut butter rum liquor
1 oz vanilla vodka (although I'm sure cake or whipped cream flavor would be just as good)
chocolate syrup

Pour about 2 tsp of chocolate syrup into a martini glass so that it will lightly coat the glass when you tilt it, about halfway up.

Pour the rest of the ingredients over ice, give it a good shake and strain into the chocolate coated martini glass.


* I know martini purists are freaking out right now that a true martini is gin and a bit of vermouth. I get it. I love those just as much, but I'm just going with the flow!

Also, I can't really give credit to any one source. I've seen a bunch of recipes using this rum and this is what ended up tasting the best to me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Workout Breakthrough

I've had two workout related breakthroughs the past week or so.

The first one was during a fairly routine workout. I go to the gym 5 times a week. I see my trainer once and then do one of the other workouts she's given me on the other four days. I was doing one of my least favorite workouts, but feeling really antsy. It's an elliptical workout where I do 5 minutes at a 10 incline and 10 resistance, 5 minutes at a 15 incline and 15 resistance and then 2 minutes at 20 and 20, all at a set stride per minute. Repeat this four times for a total of 48 minutes or until you pass out from boredom. I can't fight boredom by watching the tv on the machine because it just kind of ticks me off. Plus nothing that's on during the 6-7pm timeframe can really keep my interest and I start to slow down on the stride pace if I'm not concentrating. I got through 3 rounds and the antsy-ness got to me. I needed to do sprints NOW.

My sprint workout is 2 minutes at a slow jog and 1 minute at 8-8.5 mph x 10. I have done them all at 8.5 before, because I'm lazy, didn't go back up for my notebook and wrongly though I HAD to do all of them at 8.5. So now I have no excuse to do them slower. I decided to do my sprints in the same style as above, but do 5 of them (total workout time would be 51 minutes) and see how fast I could go. I started at 8mph...not bad. Then 8.5...pretty doable as well. I upped it to 9 and did my minute at the fastest pace I had ever run. Could I do 9.5? I sure could. It's only a minute, right? What about 10? 10 would be amazing. 10mph is a 6 minute mile pace. I didn't even know how it felt to move my feet that fast. Double digits!

And I did it.

One whole minute.

And it was amazing!

I think I told everyone who would listen. I told my Mom and, well, she's used to me babbling about my workouts (and always listens patiently) and even she said, "wow! That's a 6 minute mile pace!"

I've decided I'm going to break out of my 10 minute mile rut in two ways. First off, I'm going to keep pushing these sprints. Second, my workouts are mostly 30 minutes. This was to get me in the habit of being at the gym 5 times a week, but not overwhelming me with 5 long crazy workouts. I'm in week 6 and I feel like I can add on some time. Either before or after my usual workout, I'm going to set the treadmill for around a 9 minute mile (I think it ends up being about 9:08) and see how far I can run at that pace. When I complained, years back, that I wanted to run at a 10 minute pace, as opposed to 12, my trainer told me to just go set it at 6mph/10 minute mile pace and run as far as I could. Each day, I'd aim to run further. It made an ENORMOUS difference. My 5K PR is a 10:08 pace. I had been chipping away at an 11-12 minute pace every. single. day. Then one of my friends said, "Well, if you want to run have to RUN. FASTER." It made sense. I was just practicing running my slow pace and not pushing beyond that.

My second breakthrough is a bit simpler. I love going to the gym! I used to joke that I'd have to stand by the subway door on my way home from my last job and "throw myself off" when it got to the gym's stop so that I wouldn't go past it to my stop. I'd just step out of the doors really quick and then I'd have to go! Now I get a little grouchy when I can't go regularly.

One of my first races...that's me in the orange shorts, waving!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Oysters and an Old Fashioned

The Husband and I took a trip up to Maine to visit family this weekend. It's really nice to get to see everyone, relax and to get away from the city. Nothing like relaxing and sharing good food and drinks.

We did a lot of cooking this weekend. Beef stew, tuscan bean soup, cookies, pie, bread and baked french toast (hello carbs!). I decided I needed a grown up cocktail to go along with this. At the same time, The Husband decided he wanted oysters. Off we went!

The Husband also wanted to learn to shuck oysters. At the local seafood market they had oyster knives, so he bought one of those and a quick internet tutorial later....we had oysters!

That's about as much of The Husband as he'll let on here.

He also graciously made my cocktail. I say he makes them better. Mostly because I don't have to make it myself!

You'll need:

Angostura bitters
Maraschino cherries
Lemon (rind for a twist and a slice for garnish)
Orange (slice for garnish)

In a rocks glass (or any small glass), muddle:

one maraschino cherry (I also like to add a little liquid from the jar)
1 tsp of sugar

Add a splash of water and twist the lemon rind over the glass (drop the twist in too)

Add 2oz bourbon, a few ice cubes and your lemon and orange slices.

I like to squeeze the juice from the slices into my drink as well. Your choice!

I also squeezed in a workout that was due for Saturday. It was freezing rain out so I really didn't want to run in that and the dirty slush in the road. However, there was a "gazelle" machine at my inlaws house so I decided to try that. I did 30 min of 2 min moderate pace and 1 min sprint. The gazelle is like an elliptical, kind of, but there's no electronics to it to control the resistance. I thought it may have been a tad easy, but...well...I can barely walk today! My calves and all down the back of my lower legs KILL! Work and the gym should be fun tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I'm too little?

That's not really something that I'm used to.

Before I get into the subject matter, I wanted to update: The 2lbs I gained and 7cm around my abdomen? Yeah, just kidding. Apparently I was retaining a lot of water because I ended up 4lbs below that a couple of days later and down 5cm. 

Moving on...

Here's the secret. I was kind of afraid I would still be above 150 by the Cohasset Tri in June. I've been waffling over asking to change race categories from age group to novice. Then I realized, if it was getting close to race time and I knew I'd still be 150+, I could change to race as an Athena. Athenas are women athletes who weigh in at 150 or above and race against that category. Men 200+ can race as Clydesdales.

Based on past times, I would have a very good chance of actually placing in the top 3. Now, I have mixed feelings on that. I feel like I would be so excited to win/place in any way, but I also feel like it would never be enough. Don't get me wrong. I know a few women who are very fit (and fast!) who could race as an Athena because they are also fairly tall. 150 is not necessarily overweight for everyone, although it is a bit for me at my height. The thing is, not everyone who could register as one does. It just feels kind of weird to me. It's a weight based racing class that doesn't include everyone that COULD race in it, unlike age groups. I guess I'd love to win. However, I'd also know that I couldn't place outright in my age group and that if every person who could register as an Athena did, I'd have no chance at that either. On the OTHER hand (that's like 3 hands now...can I borrow one?), if I have the courage to step on the scale at the race, let them mark an A on my leg and run my face off, then I guess I did earn it.

Turns out, all that over-thinking was for nothing. USA Triathlon voted in April 2012 (ooops...didn't get that memo. Actually I probably did. Ha) to increase the weight minimum to 165 for Athena and 220 for Clydes. Sigh...I wasn't even at 165 after my Christmas-human-vacuum mode. They increased the limits because athletes are bigger and stronger than ever. Not fatter bigger, but taller and more muscular. I guess that's fair. I'm only 5'4" and 150 would put me just a couple of lbs above the weight range for my height. There are plenty of people taller than me. 

 So that's weird. I never really felt like I wouldn't have that option. It's kind of bittersweet. Most women would be so happy to fall under that line! I felt like I'd be a little sad to do it myself. I'd guess it's a comfort zone thing for me. I'm comfortable with the Athenas and I don't want to let them go. It's who I've been my whole life (except for like 2 days in 2008 right before I got married...haha). At the same time, I'm sure I'd end up holding myself back. I've already lit a fire by really committing to getting to the gym 5 times a week and working out hard. I figured out how to eat healthy without being crazy-food-tracker-lady. If anything, finding out about this change right now is really pushing me. I just really want to work harder. I'm letting it go and it's not easy.

For the rest of you Athenas, whether your body fat is 20% or 40%. Be proud. Hold your head high. Have fun! 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Verdict

Well, I promised you I'd share the results. I'm actually kind of happy with them and after I share the changes, I'll explain why.

Without getting into the specifics, I will say that instead of my early Fall 2012 goal fo breaking into the 140s, I broke back into the 160s. I am not really sad or angry about it. It is what it is. I know exactly why it happened. Although I did great right up until Christmas, the rest of the holiday season did me in.  Or, really, I should say I let it. I'm really okay with that. I had a great stretch of time to spend with family and I didn't worry about food like I normally do. Sometimes worrying about food would ruin my day, although I'd do my best to hide it. In the end, I gained a lot of fitness, even if I gained a bit of body fat too.

The rundown, from Fall 2012 to this morning (measurements are in cm NOT inches):

Weight: up 2.2lbs

Body Fat: up 0.9%

Chest: up 3/4 cm

Ribcage/waist: no change

Abdomen (at belly button): up 7 cm (Seven. SEVEN!!! Hello holiday party food and drink...)

Hips: up 0.5 cm (only 0.5 cm was a nice surprise)

Upper Arm: down 1 3/4 cm

Thigh: down 1.5 cm

So wow...some of that was expected and some not. Luckily, the ugly part was. I am not surprised I gained 7cm (about 2.5 inches) around my waist. If I suddenly start consuming more booze, sugar and salt, it all settles there. If I gain weight slowly, it disperses everywhere. The fact that my hips had barely a gain and my arms and thighs went down is great! Those have always been really difficult areas for me to lose on. I did some quick math (nerd!) and based on my weigh, weight gain and body fat % difference, I gained some fat, but also a little bit of muscle! I know that it's impossible to out exercise a poor diet, so now that I'm getting that under control I should be golden. For the first time ever I have been consistently putting 5 days a week of pretty intense workouts in. This week marks week 5. No matter how tired and crappy I feel, unless I'm genuinely really sick, I go and feel better after. I'm getting fitter, based on workouts being easier to do and a gain in muscle. Nutrition should be fairly easy now that the holidays are pretty much over. I tend to lose around my abdomen first, so I'm just going to keep on doing what I know I should and I'll be fine.

So there it is! I forgot to ask when the next round of measurements will be, but I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Bike Workout

Hey everyone!

I thought I'd share one of the workouts I do. I found it on Pinterest (follow me! Be my Pinterest friend!) and it's one that has really kicked my butt but that I've also been able to see a lot of improvement in myself on.

Make sure you are good and warmed up first.

I do this one on the typical stationary (not recumbent) bike.

Pedal for one minute each at resistance level 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18.

RPM should be above 60 for all except 18, which can be 50-60.

Repeat this four more times (total of 5 times) for a total of 25 minutes.

For the last 5 minutes Pedal at 10 with an rpm of 70-80.

I find that the last 5 minutes is a little easy and feels like a cool down instead of part of the workout, so I usually do 14 for a few minutes, then 12, then cool down between level 6-10 resistance. I was fooled the first time I did this workout. It was REALLY easy for the first 3 minutes. When I got to resistance 16 I was like, "Hmmmm...." 18 was hard. Doing this 5 times was really hard!

If it's way to hard or easy for you, feel free to do 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 or 12, 14, 16, 18, 20. This is not really an exercise that will help you with form/cadence for cycling, but another option for cardio that will fight boredom. It's also really nice for me to get off my feet for a workout.

In other news. Tomorrow I asked my trainer if we can do the whole weight/body fat/measuring tape deal. I'll probably share, for better or worse. This is not like facebook, where you see a carefully curated selection of flattering pictures and high achievements. This is real life. I can't have people tell me I inspire them and not also show that it's really freakin hard and that I fail too. I just keep on getting back up.

Since I like to fantasize about my racing greatness before it really happens, here is the newest addition to my playlist ;)


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

180 Days...

...until my second sprint triathlon! My husband agreed to fight the bazillion other people trying to register for the Cohasset Triathlon for me and pay the registration as my Christmas present. He even bought me this cool technical T for the race that is kind of a "Yay, I got in and now I'm training shirt."

I'm super excited! Here are a couple of videos I've been coming back to that feature the race:

It's possible that Thunderstruck is in heavy rotation on my gym playlist.

I really regretted doing my first tri so late in the summer. I really wanted to do another one but just couldn't make it happen. This year I plan on doing the Boston Tri for a second time and maybe fitting in another sprint. I'd like to do an Olympic distance race as well, which is a 0.9 mile swim, 25 mile bike and 6.2 mile (10K) run. I'm just not sure which one! Decisions decisions....I know that I am not going to get in over my head distance wise. I probably won't do a half marathon this summer (famous last words). I really want to get MUCH faster over shorter distances and in triathlons.

I'm also continuing to work on my weight and getting fitter. Right now I have been banished from tracking food in any way. My trainer knows I know what to eat. I was making myself crazy with the tracking and possible not eating enough for the amount of activity I was doing. Along with that I have to go to the actual gym 5 times a week and do one of the workouts she's given me. Then I text her how it went. So far I feel much better.