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.