Thursday, April 14, 2011

I wonder..

..if the rain will ever stop. If the sun will ever shine.

..what to do with my hair.

..if I'll have time to cook that cauliflower tonight.

..if anyone reads this, my silly little blog.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Decisions, decisions..

I have a problem.

One of the benefits of being a self-trained athlete is the ability to choose what I want to do and when I want to do it. From daily workouts to season-long race choices, I get to decide when, where, and what. While this freedom is one of the main reasons I haven't taken the next step and gotten a coach, it's also a freedom that causes some drama in my athletic sphere.

I'm very easily influenced by anything I read or see. Right now I'm working on a book that's set in the deep south, so naturally I want to go on a trip not just to Mississippi, but back in time, to when civil rights were being fought for while white ladies played bridge. Not because I want to play bridge with the white ladies..but because I want to experience that reality.

If I read a food blog, or notice a great recipe, I immediately want to go home and bake, and also eat that cookie/cake/pie/cobbler/muffin now. This is where a lot of my poor eating habits stem from...cravings brought on by amazing recipes. Reading about cookies=I want a cookie. Worse, when I get those hankering's to eat and bake, I can't stand the idea of spending my evening training. I want only to bake.

Naturally, training is no different. I read an ITU race recap, and I think "I want to devote myself to this sport. I want to train 12 hours a week, and get super fit and fast, and see how far I can take myself in triathlon." Or I read about USAT rankings and I decide that I will focus on scoring points this season, and see where I line up compared to others in my age group. But if I read someone's recap of a half marathon, say, I completely forget about the race schedule I'd set up for myself last week when I decided I wanted to qualify for AG Worlds, and want nothing more than to go for long, slow runs, and try a half marathon.

This inability to focus on one thing: baking or triathlon or racing or even the workout waiting for me at home is kind of a problem. It leads to inconsistent training, and crash training when I realize how low my weekly hours are. It leads to poor race prep. It causes me to constantly re-plan my workout weeks and season race plans, and even my daily training. Sometimes I think I spend more time planning, calculating, tallying and mapping out training plans than I actually spend training. Oh, irony. You are a bitter pill to swallow.

I don't know how other self-coached athletes find that happy balance, between training and racing while still fulfilling other hobbies, without becoming absorbed in one or the other. I guess what I need to do is keep reminding myself that I'm young. I have many years of training ahead of me. I can always focus on half marathons next year, or in the off-season. And while I don't ever want to take my life for granted, I need to be patient. Focus on my immediate goals. Try my hardest at one thing before moving on. I know that in the end, that's what'll make me most proud, and fulfilled.

Monday, April 11, 2011

To-Do List FAIL.

I just made myself a to-do list. Here's what it said:

5:45-Home. Head to store.
-make lunches
-make dunner
-make bread?
-blueberry muffins?



Hang clothes.

Worst to-do list ever? I think so. I crumpled it up. What I really need to do is buy us a doormat, go home and just start doing things. What will probably end up happening is a whole other story. I will probably not run at lunch, due to being ridiculously hungry. I will bus home. I will go for a short run. Or, I'll intend to go for a short run, but instead I'll get absorbed in building some more cabinets or organizing the bookcase or buying doormats. I'll forget to make dinner, hang up my swimsuit, not pack lunches, lose screws and washers, flip out, eat ice cream and go to bed ridiculously late.

Yes, yes I am hungry and cranky. Thus the part about not running at lunch.

No, building Ikea furniture is not that bad. Last night I didn't lose one washer. Not one!


At the top of my to-do list: Shaving my legs. It's bad.

Weekly Workouts 4/4-4/10

Monday 4/4

Swim: 60min. Masters

Bike: 50min. trainer ride

Tuesday 4/5

Swim: 45min. Masters

Wednesday 4/6

Swim: 60min. Masters

Run: 40min. on treadmill

Thursday 4/7

Swim: 45min. Masters

Bike: 30min. on trainer.

Friday 4/8


Saturday 4/9


Sunday 4/10


Weekly Workouts 3/29-4/4

Tuesday 3/29

Bike: 60min. O&B from house

Wednesday 3/30

Swim: 60min. Master's

Run: 30min. Hill repeats on lunch break.

Thursday 3/31

Bike: 45min. on trainer

Friday 4/1


Saturday 4/2

Swim: 60min. Masters.

Run: 45min. around Greenlake.

Sunday 4/3

Bike: 1:45 O&B on Burke.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Things I Like: Specialized Toupe Saddle

(Image courtesy of Google Search)

For the past..oh..two months or so, I've been testing all sorts of new saddles. I'd been riding in the WTB Deva since July, and just wasn't loving it. I wasn't even liking it, half the time. The saddle was bulky and had too much padding, and always seemed to rub me in the wrong places (we won't go further with that..). I found myself shifting around a lot, never able to find a comfortable seat.

I tried so many saddles it seems like..I tried the Fizik Versus Antares, the Fizik Vitesse, the Fizik Versus Aliante, the Specialized Romin, the Specialized Toupe, and..uh..I think that's it! It had better be it! I tried the Antares twice, and it was a close second, but ultimately I think I have settled on the Specialized Toupe.

I really appreciate the sweet spots I'm able to find in this saddle, whereas with my Deva it was as though there were no sweet spots (and keep in mind--this is just me! I know a great female cyclist who puts the Deva on all her bikes, and swears by the saddle. A saddle just fits some people, and doesn't fit others!). I also really like the minimalism of the saddle, and that it's fast yet comfortable. The Antares put just a little more pressure on my sits bones, while so far I haven't had any sits bones discomfort in the Toupe. It also allows for a range of movement when necessary. I went on an hour spin after switching saddles yesterday, and loved that I was able to shift in my seat and still stay comfortable.

And, saving the most important factor for last, the Toupe comes in white. And everyone knows a white saddle is faster than a black saddle.

Just kidding.

Kind of.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Things I Know, But Ignore

-I should drink water. Every day.

-Junk food and triathlon trianing do not go well together.

-Every workout should have a purpose.

-To swim faster later, I must first swim slower--but correctly.

-Training is about consistency and commitment, moreso than anything else.

-Getting up at 4:30am won't kill me.

-Baking cookies will always be easier than training. But training will always be more rewarding than baking cookies.

Weekly Workouts 3/22-3/38

Honestly, I don't remember half the workouts I did this week. I didn't swim at all, I missed a few days in the middle of the week due to house-hunting (which ended up being totally worth it--we found a great little house!), and I know I was low on my weekly hours.

I did go on a great ride on Saturday--42 miles total, though I don't have a MPH hour average because I forgot to restart my Garmin at one point in my ride. Oops! I always do that. It's so annoying, but I try not to let it bug me, especially in Base, when the hours are what counts the most. The ride was great, despite some hail and lots of wind and rain, and running over a salamander. Ew.

I'm really hoping I can do a better job of maintaining hours and staying consistent from here on out. It'll be hard for awhile, until we're settled into our new place and our new routine..but I can't let it psych me out.

I just have do the best I can every day. It's all anyone can do!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Magnuson Race Series #3 Race Recap

Another 10K, another PR. Though I almost didn't go to the race at all. The morning of, I woke up with gnarly stomach issues. The kinds of stomach issues that are really not good to run through. But as the morning went on I started to feel a little better..and decided I'd at least use the race as a chance to get in my long run. I didn't have to race, I didn't have to PR, I just had to run 6.2 miles.

Once the race got going, though, I started to feel ok. I ran with a group of 5K racers for the first half, who were all running a 7:30 pace. I felt ok hanging with them, and knew that if I came through the 5K mark at 23:00, all I'd have to do to PR was keep running the same pace. I came through at 23:14 but picked the pace up a bit to catch a few folks in front of me..once I passed them in about 800m and then ran the rest of the race alone. Not fun! Especially since, for the rest of the race I kind ofthought I was winning the 10K race. Not a soul was in sight in front of me, and I'd already passed everyone nearby.. it wasn't until the last .25mi that I realized there was another woman in front of me (there were two, actually, but I only ever saw the one)! But it's ok--I can't control who I'm competing against in any race, so my goal is never to win, just to run a certain time. Which I did, so no complaints here! I came in at 45:03, the 3rd female finisher and 6th overall. I'm really excited to break 45:00 next month!

Weekly Workouts 3/15-3/21

Tuesday 3/15

30min. run

Wednesday 3/16

Bike: 2hr spin class

Thursday 3/17

Run: 30min.

Friday 3/18

Bike: 60min. trainer ride

Swim: 60min. OYO

Saturday 3/19

Run: 10K Race (45:03 PR)

Sunday 3/20

Bike: 2hr ride

Monday 3/21

Off! Finally!

Total Hours: 8 (9 including Monday's ride, as I didn't have a day off this week)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Chocolate Chewies

Last night I made chocolate chewies. They were definitely chocolatey, and very very chewy. They looked like crater rings. They puffed up in the oven and then caved in on themselves. Paper-thin crusty cookie bits were everywhere. Half of them never cooked in the middle, while the other half were ok--but even thinner. I thought they tasted like powdered sugar. Travis thought they were weird, too. Mom and Dad loved them, but I think they were just saying that so as to not devistate their daughter.

I had really high hopes for these cookies, too. They are flourless and easy as pie (about 100 times easier, actually!), requiring only cocoa powder, egg whites, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla. They are chocolaty and nonfat. But my cookies were SO dissapointing. I couldn't really figure out why, either. I followed the recipe exacty...except..I didn't.

Rereading the recipe at 101 Cookbooks just now, I was suddenly corrected.

No wonder they tasted like powdered sugar.

Who knew the extra 3T of cocoa powder could make such a difference? Oops..

(Yes, I still brought them to work and fed them to my coworkers. I'll bring them extra delicious cookies next week to make up for it.)


Tuesday 3/8:


Wednesday 3/9:

Run: 40min. (5K TT-21:23)

Swim: Masters Swim Workout

Thursday 3/10:

Bike: 60min. on trainer

Friday 3/11:

Run: 30min.

Swim: Master's Swim Workout

Saturday 3/12:

Elliptical: 40min.

Swim: 40 OYO

Sunday 3/13:

OFF (spent the day with my sweetie!)

Monday 3/14

Bike: 60min. trainer ride

Core: 20min.

Total Hours: 7

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Social Network

It's amazing to me, sometimes, how 'wired' socializing has become. I know more about some of the people whose blogs I read than I know about folks I am friends with in real life. I connect with bloggers on a daily basis, where I might go weeks without getting in touch with some of my good personal friends. I know what a certain blogger had for lunch yesterday, yet I don't know which state my best gal friend is in right now. Weird, huh?

Obviously, connecting through the internet is easier. It's convenient to boot. And it's also, to a huge extent, more comfortable. I can get pretty shy, and am definitely awkward around people I don't know. In fact, meeting new people is really stressful for me! I get nervous over what I'm saying, if I'm talking too loud, if they like me, etc. etc. It's nuts. And I know a lot of people share this anxiety. It's a big reason behind the success of blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. People feel braver behind the Internet Mask, I think. More outgoing. More social. I know I do.

So when I read that Emily, the author of my favorite blog The Daily Garnish and her husband were coming to town, I thought it'd be a great chance to step outside my comfort zone and meet these people I know so much about, but have never met. They live on the other side of the country, after all.

(That is the other amazing thing about social networking: the national, and global bridge it creates, allowing people from every state and country and corner of the world to meet and get to know one's incredible. It blows my mind.)

So I emailed Emily, and met up with her, Casey and a huge group of other Seattle readers of Daily Garnish (and effectively took over Mighty-O Donuts! I felt kind of bad sequestering three of the store's six tables.) Going to this gathering was probably one of the most 'out-of-character' things I've ever done. Meeting one new person is awkward enough for me, and there I was, meeting ten other well as Emily and Casey. The concept was hard to wrap my mind around.

I was really interested in the dynamics of the whole gathering. A few women had gotten there early, and were sitting at a table already. I didn't know if they were there for the blog meeting too, so I stood around until I saw Emily and Casey walking in. Then it was like..well, it kind of reminded me of those 'flash dance' things on Youtube. Where everyone is standing around being normal, and all of a sudden everyone breaks out into a mad dance. In this case, Emily walked in and women from all corners of the shop stood up and walked over to her. More women walked in behind her, and gathered around as well. Pretty soon a group of 15 or so women (and a few guys!) were all standing around this woman who we all know so much about, and whose face we see on the internet every day, and who we feel like we truly know..we were all standing around, and then no one knew what to do. We eventually organized a huge table and all sat down. I have to was weird at first. It was kind of like how a celebrity walks into a store, and everyone gets nervous and excited. That was definitely the feeling in the air. Or maybe that was just me, and my nervous interpretation of the situation. I think the size of the crowd, and the diminutive space in the store, made it even more awkward. None of us seemed to have expected such a turnout. But eventually we all got chatting, and we ate donuts, and we drank coffee, and we relaxed.

We all bragged to Emily and Casey about our respective neighborhoods, we all threw out advice and suggestions on where to go, and we talked about the weather a lot. Because that's what people in Seattle do. We talk about the rain when it's raining, and when it's not raining we talk about how nice it is that it's not raining. But anyways..

I asked Casey at one point if this whole lifestyle was awkward for him, or weird, or if he's used to it. He said it's been a great way to meet people, and he really did seem used to it. It's still a strange concept to me, but maybe in a few years I'll have gotten over it.

It was weird but fun, and I met some really nice people who live here in Seattle. I mentioned to Emily the idea of sending out a group email so we'd all have each other's email addresses. It'd be great to get to know some of these girls more! I really would like to. The awkward initial meeting is over, and for me that's always the worst part of meeting someone new. At this point we've established things we have in common, and isn't that where friendships start?

So that was my morning, along with a 40min. jaunt on the elliptical before the gathering (was supposed to be a run, but my legs are tired!). Now I'm writing this at another coffee shop, before I go shopping for a little bit and then head off to swim. Should be a good day!

Thanks to Emily and Casey for letting us all inundate them with questions, and tips about Seattle. It was so fun to meet you guys! I really hope you have a great trip despite the rain, (See? It's all we can talk about up here!). I really hope we get the chance to meet again some day!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

On Caramel

Caramel...caramel on my mind.

It's true. I have been craving caramels nonstop since..well, since Halloween, actually, when I had a vanilla caramel for the first time in forever.

And since then, I've been caramel-crazy.

Good caramel is expensive, and bad caramel doesn't compare. So I haven't actually eaten much caramel lately. I just think abuot it. And dream about it. And drool on my keyboard while looking at pictures of it. And fantasize about the day I have enough time and courage to make them myself.

Because I know good caramel is worth it, I will patiently hold out for these.

Thank you, David Lebovitz, for leading me to this revelation. Someday I will ship this little box of caramels across the Atlantic ocean, and I will eat them, slowly, one by one.

And that will be that.

Until then, I'll keep dooling, and dreaming of these:

(photo courtesy of Henri Le Roux website)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Things I Want To Eat Right Now

But mostly, I want this:

Actually, I want fifty of them. Ok, thanks.

(photos courtesy of Google image search)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Reality Check

Training has been pretty sporadic since I started work. I've had a hard time making the jump from having no job to working 40 hours a week. Throwing training in on top of that has been, well, a learning experience. I've gotten better at working out at 5:30 in the morning, and being okay with going to bed at 8:30 at night. It's taken some trial and error to figure out what combination of work + training + relaxing works best, and I'm still trying to get the hang of making it all happen. I thought I'd been doing pretty well though--missing a workout here and there, sure, but not really falling too far behind training.

Oh, was I ever wrong.

As I end my prep cycle this week and start by first base cycle next week, I looked back on my training over the last month to see how I did with reduced workout expectations. As it turns out, I did not even come close to meeing my prep cycle weekly hours. It had actually never occurred to me before to calculate my training in hours per week. Why not? I have no idea. But I'm glad I did figure it out. It's really opened my eyes to how much I'm actually training over a period of time. It's easy, in the chaos of a week, to simply skip a workout and forget about it. But at the end of the week, missing a workout here and shortening a workout there can add up, and lead to a seriously time-deficient training week.

My prep weeks were supposed to be between 7 and 9 hours. The first week was 6.5 hours. The second, 5.5. The third was 9.5. And the last, 5.

Talk about inconsistant! Not only to I need to seriously even things out over an entire training block, I need to make sure each week is meeting its time requirements, or at least coming close. It's all about consistency.

Sometimes I think learning how to train is harder than training!

Weekly Workouts 3/1-3/7

Tuesday 3/1

No Workouts

Wednesday 3/2

No Workouts (sick)

Thursday 3/3

Bike: 30min. trainer ride (still sick!)

Friday 3/4

Swim: Master's Swim

Saturday 3/5

Bike #1: 50min. trainer ride

Bike: #2: 45min. trainer ride

Swim: 20min. drills

Core: 20min.

Sunday 3/6

Run: 30min.

Monday 3/7

Bike: 30min. trainer ride

Run: 40min. home from work

Total Hours: 5.5

Friday, March 4, 2011

Cold Remedy


-Pho Than Brothers take-out.

-A movie.

-Ice cream.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Nonfat Ginger Cookies

I have several go-to cookie recipes, and this is by far my favorite. The cookies are everything a ginger cookie should be: sweet, spicy, chewy, and all-around delicious.

But more importantly, this is the ultimate comfort cookie. It's the 'I got yelled at by my boss' cookie. Or the A pen leaked on my favorite jeans' cookie. Or even the 'It's raining outside, and that sucks' cookie'. It's a giant hug of a cookie.

It's also the 'I forgot to record America's Next Top Model this week' cookie.

Which, for the record, I totally remembered to do. But just in case I forget, there are always ginger cookies.

The recipe is based on David Lebovitz's.

Nonfat Ginger Cookies

2 1/4c all-purpose flour
1 cup packed dark brown sugar (Note: light brown sugar will work in a pinch)
1t baking soda
1/4t salt
1/2t freshly, finely ground black pepper
2t ground ginger
2 1/2t ground cinnamon
1/4t ground cloves
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4c unsweetened applesauce
1/3c molasses
Optional: 1/2c finely-chopped candied ginger

In a stand mixer, beat the molasses, applesauce and sugar on medium speed for five minutes. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices.

Scrape sides of bowl, add egg whites, and beat on medium speed for one minute. Add dry ingredients and beat on low until thoroughly incorporated.

Chill the dough for half an hour*

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchement paper or silpats. Put racks in the top and bottom third of the oven.

Pour 1/3c granulated sugar into a bowl, and mix in 1T ground cinnamon plus 1/2t ground ginger. Drop dough in 1-2T amounts (depending on how big you want your cookies) into the sugar and roll into a rough ball, coating coating with sugar. Place cookies 2-3 inches apart. Bake two sheets at a time, for 12-14 minutes, rotating halfway through. At twelve minutes watch them carefully--the cookies are done as soon as the tops are set and slightly firm to the touch. Don't overbake them! Better to bake them a minute to little than a minute too long. Allow the cookies to cool on the sheets for a minute or two, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.


*Note: The first time I made these cookies, I didn't chill the dough and they turned out beautifully. The second time I made them, I did refrigerate the dough and they turned out great again, but much 'rounder'. Whether or not chilling or not chiling the dough will affect your cookies depends on many things. Chill if you like, or be bold and put them straight in the oven.

Weekly Workouts 2/22-2/28

Tuesday 2/22

Bike: 50min. trainer ride

Run: 5 miles, home from work.

Wednesday 2/23

Bike: 45min. trainer ride

Swim: Master's Swim Workout

Thursday 2/24

Swim: Master's Swim Workout

Friday 2/25

Run: 25min. on treadmill

Swim: Master's Swim Workout

Core Workout

Saturday 2/26

Bike: 60min. trainer ride

Sunday 2/27

Swim: Master's Swim Workout

Monday 2/28

Bike: 30min. trainer ride

Run: 5mi. home from work

Weekly Hours: 9.5

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Almond Joy

Photo courtesy of Google image search

Eating almonds, yet again.

And I forgot to bring my lunch.

Double Fail.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Work Food

I know I'm not alone when I express my difficulty finding healthy, transportable foods to take to work. A girl can only eat so many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And I've done my best to put a dent in that 10lb. bag of raw almonds I got at Costco two months ago, really I have. But if I have to snack on one more almond...well I don't know what would happen. I might develop an allergy. Or an aversion, at best. Who know? I don't, and I don't want to find out. I also don't want one more bloody almond.

I'll happily have one more ginger molasses cookie from the coffee shop, but I am running out of justification for the cost and caloric intake.

And so here I am..vegetable-less, cookie-less, and drowning in almonds. it's a pretty sad state to be in. For me and everyone else looking for better lunch options, here's a brief list of easy, healthy lunch ideas, and some uber-healthy snack options as well.

-Veggie Wrap: Whole wheat tortilla, smeared with mustard or hummus, filled with shredded carrot, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, jicama, onion, and any other veggies you like!

-Pizza: Either leftover or homemade, pizza loaded with veggies and tomato sauce is a great lunch option. Wrapped in foil it transports easily.

-Stew: Made with low sodium veggie broth and any vegetables you like. Add beans and/or tofu for protein.

-Sandwich: Whole wheat bread, cheese, mustard and veggies. the variations are endless, and really, can one ever get sick of veggie sandwiches??

-Burrito: Veggie wrap with beans, rice and cheese. Mexi-Goodness.

-Leftovers: They can be tricky to transport, depending on what dinner was, but sometimes leftovers make for a healthy, quick, delicious and cheap lunch.

-cherry tomatoes
-carrot sticks
-jicama (my favorite!)
-celery, snap peas, radishes (ok, these are my favorite!)
-bell pepper
-cut-up fruits such as oranges and melon
-dried fruit
-baked veggie chips
-Giant Ginger Molasses Cookie (because we all deserve one now and then!)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Weekly Workouts 2/15-2/21

2/15 Tuesday

No Workouts.

2/16 Wednesday

Run: 30 minutes at lunch

Swim: Master's Swim Workout

2/17 Thursday

No workouts.

2/18 Friday

Bike: 60 min. trainer ride*

Swim: Master's Swim Workout

2/19 Saturday

Run: 10K Race: 46:06

2/20 Sunday

Bike: 60min. trainer ride

2/21 Monday

No Workouts.

Weekly Hours: 6.5

* I can't remember if I did that trainer ride on Thursday or Friday

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lemon Butter Cookies with Lemon Glaze

I try to bring cookies to work on Mondays, because I've had all day Sunday to bake, and because this way I can try out new recipes without getting fat. If there are cookies in the house, I will eat them. The same goes for cake, candy, ice cream, chocolate and chips. Because of my total lack of self control, I've been baking a lot less lately. But now, with a new audience to pawn my cookies off onto before I have the chance to gorge myself to the point of a stomachache, I'm able to test all sorts of recipes risk-free.

I've been craving lemon cookies lately, and found a recipe for slice-and-bake cookies on noneother than Smitten Kitchen. One of the variations for this adaptable recipe involved lemon zest, and I thought that sounded just perfect. I didn't have any poppy seeds, however, and I was worried that the cookies might be a little boring without something besides lemon zest (which inevitably turns invisible during baking). so I baked up the cookies sans seeds, and created a light lemon glaze to top them with. The result was amazing. the cookies are tiny, about 1 1/2 inches wide, melt-in-your-mouth delights. The icing adds just a touch of sweet, crunch and lemon pop, and the cookies themselves turned out beautifully--soft yet firm, just as a buttery cookie should be. I will be making these again, and saving a few for myself next time. But only a few.

Lemon Butter Cookies with Lemon Glaze

2 sticks room-temperature butter
2/3c powdered sugar
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
Pinch of salt (about 1/8t)
1t vanilla extract
2c all-purpose flour
Finely-grated zest from 2 lemons

Cream the butter using your stand mixer and the paddle attachment. When smooth, add the powdered sugar and beat until blended. Add the yolks, then the salt, then the zest and vanilla. Finally, add the flour and mix until just blended. Any remaining flour can be mixed in using a spatula. Turn the dough onto a smooth surface, divide in half, and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from the fridge. Working with one section at a time, roll the dough into logs about 1 1/2'' tall. Make them uniform and straight, but don't overwork the dough. Rewrap logs and refridgerate for two hours.

After two hours, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpats or parchement paper. Remove cookies from fridge and unwrap. Slice cookies so they're about 1/3 to 1/2'' wide. Arrange them on the baking sheets with 1/2'' space between the cookies. They can be fairly crowded--they won't spread at all.

Bake cookies for 14-16 minutes, rotating sheets around and from top to bottom halfway through. Cookies are finished when they are firm and only very slightly golden around the edges. Careful not to overbake them! Let cookies cool on the sheets for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Once the cookies are completely cool, they're ready for their glaze.

For The Glaze:
Whisk 1 1/2c powdered sugar with 3 1/2T lemon juice*. Using a small brush, paint the tops of the cookies with a generous layer of glaze. It will dry quickly and smooth. Allow cookies to dry for two hours or overnight, until glaze is completely set.


Note: I had about half the glaze leftover when the cookies were frosted. Make a half batch of the glaze if you don't want leftovers.

Magnuson 10K #2 Race Report

Saturday I raced the second race in the Magnuson 10K monthly series. I wasn't feeling very confident going into the race for a number of reasons. First off, I feel like my training has somewhat suffered since I started working full time. Each week I'm getting better at managing training with working 40 hours (though between commuting and my lunch break I'm actually 'at' work for 10-11 hours a day!). But come race morning, I felt like I hadn't gotten in the training I would have liked, since I really wanted to PR at this race again.

I was also discouraged by the outrageous wind I woke up to. Gusts of about 15mph had been blowing all night, and didn't seem to be weakening as the morning went on. The race started pretty late--10am--but the wind didn't die down until much later. Windy racing is always a struggle..but as I reminded myself at the start line, weather affects everyone in a race equally.

I tried to keep that perspective as we all shuffled towards the start line, hugging our arms and hopping up and down. The sun was out, but with the wind chill it was pretty darn cold. In fact, I was one of the only people out there in shorts. I was just glad I remembered to bring my gloves!

The gun went off, and I started out at a comfortable pace. My plan was to run the race like last time: comfortable for the first 5K, and push it in the second with whatever I have left. The first mile was cold and windy, so I made sure to keep the pace slow but steady. At the 1 mile marker, I felt great. Mile two was the hardest mile of the race. I kept expecting to see the mile marker but never did, and at one point I decided I must have passed it without realizing it. Well of course then a ways down the trail I actually did pass the mile 2 marker! That was rough, but I kept on. The third mile went a little better..smooth and fairly comfortable. I felt tired due to a poor night's sleep, but fine otherwise.

About 400m from the 5k point there is a short hairpin section that allows runners to pass each other and see who is running in front of them. At this point I saw a girl in a white scarf running about 45 seconds ahead of me. I thought maybe I could catch her, and hoped I could. But when I reached the hairpin and looked ahead, she was nowhere in sight.

At the 5K mark I deliberatly looked away from the time clock. At this point I still believed there was no way I could PR. But about a minute after passing through the halfway point curiosity got the better of me and I glanced at my watch to see 25:59. I couldn't believe it! I knew I was running slowly, but had no idea I was running that slow. I realized I had more left in my tank than I probably should, and had simply paced the first 5K poorly. I immediately picked up the pace. The fourth mile felt great--strong, fast, light. I passed a few guys and kept speeding up. the fifth mile I told myself 'just one more mile' and went for it. The girl with the white scarf was still nowhere to be seen, but I charged ahead, determined to at least finish in less than 50 minutes. At the hairpin again I saw her--finally!--only a few meters ahead. I tried to pass her going my pace but realized it would take too long. Then, as though I remembered I could run faster, I switched into a higher gear and sprinted past her, hoping to discourage her from trying to catch me. I held the sprint as best I could for the last 400m, got passed by two guys in the final meters, but was shocked when I saw 46:06 on the clock. a 40 second PR from last month, with limited training, 15mph winds, and a horrendously slow first 5k time. I must have run the second 5K in about 21:00-21:30, which would be a 5K PR for me. I was the first female finisher and 10th overall out of 96.

I'm pleased with my race overall, although it was probably one of my worst-paced races to date. I learned some good lessons and am excited to fight for another PR at the 3rd race in this great series!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Weekly Workouts 2/9-2/14

2/9 Wednesday

Swim: 40 minute OYO before work

Run: 30 min. at lunchtime

2/10 Thursday

Bike: 50 min. trainer ride

2/11 Friday

-No Workouts

2/12 Saturday

-No workouts

2/13 Sunday

Swim: Master's Swim Workout

Run: 40 min., 3x mile repeats (7:30>)

2/14 Monday

Bike: 60 min. trainer ride

Weekly Hours: 5

Rough Waters

Every now and then I have one of those 'I have completely forgotten how to swim' swims. Where I spash and kick and choke on water, and the only direction I seem to be able to go is down. Or sometimes backwards. The kind of swim where I am at the back of the rotation in the slowest lane, and am still getting lapped during 150 IM sets. The kind of swim where I shorten my 100m cooldown to 50m, because I truly don't think I can swim the last 50. I wish I was exaggerating.

It was just a bad swim, and they happen sometimes to everyone. From the novice flounderers like myself to speedy pros to you, your mom and everyone else. So I try not to let it get to me...but of course it does, just a little. Or sometimes a lot.

Did I want to give up? Yes. Did I want to jump out of the pool and hurl my pull bouy at the workout whiteboard? Yes. Did I want to yank my coach into the water by his ankles and yell, "If it's so easy, let's see you do it!" Yes.

But I didn't. Because I'm trying to be an adult.

When I'm frustrated about a workout, especially a swim workout, I try to focus instead on what I can do right, in the moment. So during my workout when I was swimming slower than I maybe ever had before and couldn't seem to get my flip turns right no matter what I tried, I decided it was a good time to focus on rotation. And high elbows. And high hips. And all those other little technique elements that get so often overlooked by self-taught swimmers like myself. If I'm going to swim slow, at least I can swim right. So I splashed on, throwing my hips around with each stroke, and scraping the ceiling with my elbows. Almost. Good technique did not make me swim faster. I know it won't until I put it all together, correctly, and learn to swim properly.

And if even that fails, there's always chocolate.

And if chocolate fails (as if!) there is this fantastic article on swim technique. I can't help but hope that reading it in bed with chocolate will make me faster.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Things I Like: Mizuno Wave Rider

photo courtesy of Google Image Search

Welcome to the first installment of Things I Like. I like many things, and wanted to share some of my absolute favorite things with you.

I started running in Mizuno Wave Riders about a year ago. At this point, I cannot imagine running in anything else. Everyone says that once you find 'the shoe' nothing else will compare, and I believe it! The Wave Rider is light, which I love for speedy track sessions, yet durable enough for long runs. It's low profile, too, which I really appreciate. I don't like feeling like I have bricks strapped to my feet while I run, and the minimalism of this shoe works well for me. However it doesn't sacrifice support, and as someone with a history of planter fasciitis, I am pretty particular about a good support system in my running shoe. I've never experienced arch pain in a Wave Rider. I'm on my second pair and am about due for a third. I'm excited about the new colors, too-Mizuno does a great job with their shoe design. They're neither too boring or too bright, and they'll look good with any running wardrobe (what--it never hurts to have speed and style!).

I'm not getting anything by writing this review, nor does Mizuno even know I'm writing it. I only want to share my opinion on my favorite running shoe. Every runner and every runner's feet are different, and this shoe might not be 'it' for you. It's the one for me, however, and I'm never running in anything else!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

When Your Valentine is Inedible..

I suppose this confirms the existence of superstition. I should've known better than to write a glowing post about my amazing heart-shaped whoopie pies before actually tasting one. They taste like the kind of cookie you would give to someone as a valentine if you were really mad at them. They're anti-valentine cookies. They're deceiving, to be sure: bright red, appropriately shaped, and filled with the best frosting ever created. But one bite and oh no! you realize it's the opposite of a sweet valentine. It's a chalky valentine that tastes like all-purpose flour.

I reread the recipe, and am pretty sure I followed the recipe exactly. However, obviously, somewhere along the way I did something very wrong. Perhaps I added too much flour, or maybe I miscounted the brown sugar amount. I have no clue, and I will likely never know. All I know is I have some lovely flour cookies, and lots of cream cheese frosting (which I will certainly eat with a spoon for dessert). Ah well. There's always next year..Red Velvet Whoopie Pies Round Two!

Will You Be My Valentine?

I have never been that into Valentine's Day. Well, that's not true. I am very into the day-after-Valentine's-day chocolate sales. And I have, in years past, been very into making myself sick from excessive boxed chocolates. All of them. I even eat the gross fruity-moussy ones eventually, when all the other good chocolates are long gone. But other than overdosing on Whitman's and See's, I am usually pretty ambivalent about February 14th.

Except..for some reason, this year I am all about Valentine's Day. I think it's because, for the first time I can recall, I actually have a valentine! And not like when I was in third grade when I got heart-covered cards from the boys in my class. Because in third grade everyone gave everyone valentines, and Valentine's Day was nothing more than an excuse for another class party. Nope, this year I have a real valentine! And it's got me all mushy and sappy and gag-worthy. The only sad part? We can't actually celebrate Valentine's Day this year. I have work all day tomorrow, and a trainer ride to plow through once I get home from work, and then by the time I'm done having a quick shower and some dinner, it'll be bed time. Because we are 80-year-olds at heart, and since when is 8:30pm not a legitimate bedtime for 20-somethings anyways?

So instead of celebrating this loving day with my lover, I have decided to share my enthusiasm with my new co-workers by bringing them valentine cookies. Yes, this could potentially be seen as bribery. But honestly it's not. It's an excuse to try out some recipes, rid the final results from my self-controlless hands, and spread some Valentine's cheer, all at the same time! It's win-win-win!

So in honor of Valentine's Day, and in honor of finally, actually having coworkers (and even better, coworkers I can pass off baked goods to!), I am baking Red Velvet Whoopie Pies courtesy of Annie's Eats, and another batch of my favorite snickerdoodles, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. The snickerdoodles will be rolled in red sugar, of course!

(Confession: I wasn't planning on making snickerdoodles for the office, but the red velvet recipe only yielded 10 sandwich cookies, plus one lone cookie. I know I made them too big, and if I hadn't run out of red food dye making the first batch, I would've made many more of these cookies. They turned out great! But since I can't think of anyone who doesn't like red, glittery snickerdoodles, they will be plumping up the cookie platter tomorrow.)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hard Work Is Fun!

I wanted to write a little bit about the workouts I've been doing lately..not all of them, because I can't remember them all! Just some of the fun ones!

Let's see..Friday was a super fun trainer workout. 90 minutes, set up in front of the TV so I could watch the ANTM marathon while riding! Best idea ever! The workout went like this: 20 min. warm-up, then 6x 1min. one-leg rotations. Those hurt! I've got to do them more often! Then into the main set of 2min./3/4/5/6//2/3/4/5 with one minute recovery between each set. I tried to keep the rep effort levels somewhere between tempo and TT effort..kind of hard to gauge without a HR monitor, but I worked hard and that's what matters most! After that it was 3min. easy, then 5x 1min. hard/ 30sec. easy. Then a 5min. cooldown, and that was it! Super fun workout, it definitely made me work and made me hurt, and the time seemed to fly by.

Friday's swim was also pretty good..I can't remember exactly what it was, but something like 200s/200d/200IM warm-up (with specifications I can't remember), then 6x75 with drills and IM, then 2x50, 2x50IM, 2x100, 2x100IM, 2x200, 2x200IM..then I think it was 4x50, 400pull, then some fast 50s, then 100pull cooldown. Can't remember exactly, but that was the gist of it. Some of the 200s turned into 150s for me..but still it was a good workout!

Saturday was my first race of 2011! a 10k, which is the first of a year-long monthly series. I haven't been running as much as usual lately, and haven't done any speedwork since Black Diamond in September! So I was pretty sure this race was going to be more of a 'use the environment to get through the run' type thing. I was expecting to run 8:45min. miles or so, because on my shorter runs I've been chugging along at 8:30s. Not sure why, I just haven't had much speed in my legs!
I started really conservative, and decided to run the first 5K at a very comfortable pace. I didn't look at my watch, I didn't worry about the people around me..just cruised. I was a little sleepy but didn't feel physically tired. I was so surprised when I came through the 5K mark and saw 24:25 on the clock..I thought I was running WAY slower. So I decided to see what I could pull of in the second half..and realized if I kept at that pace I could run a sub-50 minute 10k. I picked up the pace a little for the 4th mile, then at mile 5 I started going for it. I passed a few people, which really motivated me, and I ran the last half-mile or so all out. I crossed the line in 46:56! A huge PR for me, and totally unexpected! I cannot wait to run Part 2 of the series in February--hopefully I can run a 45:-something!

After the race I ran errands all afternoon, then around 4pm hit the gym for a short swim and core workout. The swim was pitiful..I was tired. Half hour easy, nothing special. Tried to focus on the technique pointers Coach Eric and my lanemates have given me..I was too tired to really figure anything out though! Then a core workout, and I was done!

Today I was supposed to ride 2hrs and run 40min. easy, but my legs are yelling NoNoNO! So I switched tomorrow's day off with today's workouts, and am going to sit on my butt watching football all day (I never thought I'd say that! Only when the Seahawks are in the Playoffs do I care about football!!).

Friday, January 14, 2011

Masters and Mastering

Since my last post, I've been working on mastering a lot of elements in my training, namely consistency and diet.

Consistency..I'm not great at consistency. I always find myself readjusting my training schedule to accomodate other things. I spend so much time and energy on reworking my schedule, and am almost more focused on that than on my actual workouts. Then last week I reached a point where I realized that it's easier to just do the workouts as planned, instead of wasting so much time trying to reorganize everything every day. There are so many elements of triathlon training, and trying to adjust a tri training schedule every day is exhausting. Over the last week I've found that I've been a lot more consistent in my training. I'm still far from perfect, but I'm getting better. I don't know if this new mentality will stand the test of time, but right now it's workout out pretty well for me. I'll just keep taking it one day at a time!

In my post about water, I mentioned that since I'd been drinking more water I'd been getting less dizzy spells. Well as soon as I got back from Mexico they started up again. I decided it had to be something more than I got tested for hypoglycemia, and also got my thyroid, calcium and iron levels checked. Everything came back normal, but I'm not convinced. A few days after I got my negative results I had a really bad episode on a run..I got dizzy, lightheaded, 'hot', weak and was having a hard time walking a straight line. I went right home and checked my blood sugar..68. Pretty low, but not dangerously so. Still, it's low enough to explain how I'd been feeling. So I'm keeping track of my blood sugar, and sure enough these episodes seem to occur when my blood sugar levels are below 85 or so. I've been focusing on what I'm eating more, and making sure I'm eating the right things. I've been feeling a little better overall, so hopefully I'm on the right path!

The other new development in my training..Master's swimming! Today will be my third workout with the group, and so far it's been amazing. Everyone is so nice and helpful! I'm learning so much at each workout, while I am sort of taking a step backwards in training, in that I'm focusing a lot on the basics, I'm still getting in a great workout at each practice and am breaking down everything to learn it right from the beginning. Just what I need, as a self-taught swimmer! Although breaststroke might get me into trouble..after working on it on Wednesday, I woke up to serious knee pain on Thursday morning. I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs, and definitely couldn't run or do yoga as I'd planned! I spun on the trainer but the pain didn't go away, so I decided to call it a day and rest up. This morning my knee feels %100 better, though I think I need to ease into breaststroking a little slower. Can't have knee injuries--I need my knees (haha--get it??)!

I'll post more about my actual training sessions later--I just wanted to write about some major steps in my overall training changes!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pear Pecan Praline Cake

Want to know what I did on Friday? I made bundt cakes. It took all afternoon.

Why two? Because I ruined the first one.

(Actually there is a much longer, sadder story associated with this cake. I tried to make it for my boyfriend's family. I ruined it. I had to bring store-bought pound cake and strawberries to his grandmother's house for dessert. Yes, I cried. Friday's cake was supposed to be Cake Redemption. Now I'm convinced that cake is cursed.)

Back to Friday..

What did I learn on Friday, other than I am not meant to make a successful orange chocolate bundt cake? I will never not grease and flour a bundt pan again.

I tried loosening the cake with a rubber spatula, a butter knife, and a skewer that I bent to form the shape of the bundt pan. I gave the cake a steam bath. I froze the cake for an hour and tried all my methods again. I aggressively whacked the bundt pan with the rubber spatula, then a wooden spoon.

I owe my mother a new bundt pan..and still the cake came out ruined. Topless. Yikes.

While I was tackling the cake, I put Backup Cake in the oven. This cake, to be exact. I didn't mess with the recipe, and I made sure to grease and flour the bundt pan (it was also one of those pans that separates at the bottom for easy cake removal).

I am kind of really glad that I ruined the first cake. Because Cake #2 was amazing.

The only change I made was to the topping..I thought pecans might go better..maybe because of the alliteration, maybe because I had fresh pecans and sad, stale walnuts. I also chopped them much smaller than Joy chopped her nuts. This way, the praline and nuts kind of coated the outside of the cake.

The praline is incredible. The cake itself is incredible. And everyone who's tried it has been shocked that such a simple spice cake could be so incredibly..incredible.

I think it's the whipped egg whites that really send it over the top. Who knows. What I do know is that my dad has had this cake for breakfast and lunch two days in a row.

Try it!

Pear Pecan Praline Cake

2c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2tsp. allspice
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2tsp. salt
2 sticks softened unsalted butter
3 large eggs, separated
1c sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1c buttermilk
3 pears (I used one comice and two bosc) peeled and chopped into 'diced' sized pieces
(the recipe calls for 1c chopped walnuts too, but I don't like crunchy things in my cake, so I omitted them)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a bundt pan. sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. In an electric mixer, beat together butter, sugar and spices on medium, until creamy (about 4 minutes). Beat in egg yolks one at a time, then add the vanilla. Alternate adding the buttermilk and flour mixtures in thirds. Fold in the pears. With a hand mixer whip the egg whites until they just form peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter just enough to be thoroughly incorporated. Don't over-fold. Pour batter into bundt pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour (my cake took a little over an hour..just keep checking it at 45 minutes every 5 minutes.) Cake is done when a skewer inserted into it comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for ten minutes. Remove cake from pan and return to rack to cool. Then, make your praline!

Pecan Praline Topping
3/4c light brown sugar, packed
1/4c whipping cream
1/2c butter
1c diced pecans

In a small saucepan melt together the cream, butter and sugar over medium-high until incorporated. Bring to a boil. Boil for three minutes, stirring very often. Reduce heat to low and stir in pecans.

Pour glaze over cake, so that the praline covers the top and runs down the sides. Decorate the cake by pressing whole pecan halves around the outer ring of the cake if you used a flat bundt pan.

Serve warm or at room temperature.