My First Century

June 23, 2014 - One Response

Century: a. A period of 100 years, b. A company in the ancient Roman army, usually of 100 men, c. A bike ride of 100 miles, usually ridden by crazy cyclists.

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I finally crossed that threshold in my training and as a cyclist. I biked a century.  And not just any century, or just any 100mi training ride, but The Harpeth River Ride Century.  A very large organized ride with a major sponsor that takes cyclists through some of the biggest, toughest, non-stop hills around middle Tennessee.  I was completely terrified of it.  The most I’d biked to that point was 77mi, and that was a few weeks before.  Would my legs hold up?  Would my mind hold up?  And more importantly, would my “saddle” hold up?  But, you know what, it really wasn’t that bad.  Since it was such a large, well-supported race, it was broken up into several rest stops that were fully stocked.

before

Since this is such a massive bike ride, with thousands of cyclists, I was really nervous about the mass rollout that morning.  Turns out several friends and teammates weren’t keen on it either, so several of us decided to meet very early and get a head start on the crowd.  The plan was to roll out at 6am, a full hour ahead of the masses.  It was great, we had the road to ourselves, we hit the rest stops early so the food was plenty and the porta potties were fresh and clean.  We hit the rest stop at around mile 34, just before climbing the infamous Pulltight hill, a KOM for those in the know.  I love me some hills (small, light cyclists usually do), but I was a little nervous after hearing everyone talk about how bad it is.  The climb is no joke, but it wasn’t as bad as I imagined.  Just drop your gear and spin, you’ll get there.  Crest the top, then fly down to the other side, my least favorite part of cycling.

Turns out when you leave early, that means you also pick up everything in the road first too.  As I started descending behind my teammate, I distinctly started to hear a click…..click…..click…click..click..clickclickclickclickclickclick… Someone threw out tacks on the road.  I picked up a tack and when I got to the bottom, had to change my tire.  Another teammate picked up one earlier in the hill and changed his at the top.  While we were working on my tire, my stem broke on the new tube!  ARGH!  Toss that and start over….bent the stem on the second one but we were still able to get it pumped up, but not screwed back down.  Now I’m down to one tube left, not a big deal unless you’re like me and ride with 650cc tubes (smaller than the standard). One more flat and I’m done for the day, the sag crew probably doesn’t have one for me to use if I flat after that.  We saw so many people with tacks and flats for the next 10-20 miles.  That’s so dangerous.  If someone had blown a tire flying down that hill, it could have caused a serious wreck.  Looks like I reached a top speed of 41mph flying down that hill (and that was with my brakes gently applied).  I’m really surprised I didn’t wet my pants going that fast.

At the next rest stop, I had support check my wheel.  He gave me some more air and said I’d probably be ok, but may lose some air slowly.  The rest of the ride I was so nervous with every bump, rock, and pothole in the road.  Fortunately, our patch job held.

I really began to struggle over miles 45-65.  I think losing time to fixing all the flats and getting our group back together, getting caught up with the crowds again, the sun had finally started really coming out and getting hot, and maybe I was getting low on calories while I paid more attention to my tire instead of my nutrition.  I was in a bad place, my group had long left me, and I was trying to ride my own ride, but I was struggling and getting passed.  Then one of the worst hills in my opinion was at mile 60, super steep and at the turn from a stop sign.  When I got to the next rest stop, my group said I didn’t look ok.  But I got some ice in my water bottles, some gatorade from a cooler, more sunscreen and a couple peanut butter jelly sandwiches.  A few minutes in the shade and I think I was doing better.

kec

After that, it was pretty uneventful, just meandering through rural middle Tennessee.  Once I hit about 80 miles, I was feeling much better, good even.  I got stopped by a train just before the rest stop at mile 82.  That’s the second time I’ve been stopped by a train this year, I really hope this isn’t a trend.  When I got to the stop, we found another teammate and were able to get our picture together.  I was also offered ice for my water bottles.  Filled up 2 bottles, then took another cupful and poured it into my sports bra.  The cheers from the onlookers were hilarious….it’s like they’ve never seen a triathlete in the heat.  It felt so good.  At this point we were only about 18mi from the finish.  I was so glad I brought some extra “chamois butter” to apply at this point.  While I was probably ok, if nothing else it helps you mentally to know that you’ve added an extra layer of protection.  A couple of us reapplied our lube of choice and we were back on the road.

glide

At this point I was mostly familiar with the rest of the route.  It was nice to know I was really close to being done.  My group stopped at the last rest stop, which was less than 10mi from the finish. I met them there, but said I’m feeling good, let’s go, let’s get this over with!  A few more hills and were were back at the finish.  And just in time.  Within 15-20min of finishing, a severe thunderstorm rolled in.  Fortunately I was able to get back to my car and bike loaded inside before the rain hit.

Yes, these legs pedaled those wheels for 100 miles.  ONE HUNDRED MILES.

Yes, these legs pedaled those wheels for 100 miles. ONE. HUNDRED. MILES.

So, for my first century, this was a good one.  It was hot and hilly and really pushed my limits physically and mentally.  It was really well supported and the route was clearly marked with stickers on the road that were obvious and didn’t deface property.  I would definitely do this race again.  Just maybe not tomorrow, my legs have earned a little rest.

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I scream, You scream…

June 5, 2014 - Leave a Response

 

crankin-logo

 

That’s right, it’s that time of year again. ICE CREAM!! It’s ok, go ahead, scream it!

If you live in the Nashville area and have never been to Miss Martha’s Ice Cream Crankin’, you’re really missing out.  It’s a local tradition, going strong for 29 years.  Hundreds of homemade ice cream crankers will be churning up delicious frosty treats.  Everything you could imagine from the classic vanilla to exotic combinations of flavors.  There are prizes for best chocolate base, vanilla base, and other, but the most coveted prize is for Best Of Show.  The winner of Best Of Show will be produced as a new Purity Ice Cream flavor.

So get down to the Crankin’ on Sunday, and maybe you’ll get a chance to taste the next greatest ice cream flavor on the shelves next year.

I’ll definitely be down there.  What else is the point of training for an Ironman and burning thousands of calories a day if you can’t indulge in all you can eat ice cream?

When: Sunday, June 8, 3pm-5pm
Where: First Presbyterian Church (4815 Franklin Pike)
Tickets: Advance tickets are $10 for adults ($13 after June 6) and $8 for children ($10 after June 6); children under two are free. Buy your tickets here.
Parking: Parking is free at Franklin Road Academy, Judson Baptist Church and Overton High School, with regular shuttle service to First Presbyterian. (like your own personal ice cream truck!)

Tips:
* My friend Lesley has some fabulous tips for making your Crankin’ experience perfect.
* Come ready to taste from more than 500 gallons (!) of ice cream.
* Bring comfortable, flat shoes, because it all takes place on the lawn of the church (no heels) .

My favorite part about the Crankin’ is that is benefits the Martha O’Bryan Center, which provides a cradle to college to career continuum of integrated services for families living in Cayce Place, Nashville’s largest and oldest public housing development, and the surrounding area. The Center supports children, families and individuals as they work to achieve greater self-sufficiency through education and sustained employment.

Gluten Free Graham Crackers

May 22, 2014 - Leave a Response

GF Graham crackers

One of my favorite things in the world are s’mores.  I don’t even need a campfire.  Just give me a graham cracker, fat marshmallow, and a square of chocolate and I’ll take it to the microwave or even the fireplace or a hot plate.  In the microwave you can watch the marshmallow grow to 10x the size, or in the fire you can catch them on fire and blow them out just as they get singed to your personal preference.  And then ooh, the hot marshmallow melting the chocolate ever so slightly.  Smoosh them between two graham crackers and let the crumbs fly and cover your face with gooey, sticky marshmallowy chocolately goodness.  Ahhh….

But not everyone can enjoy this experience that appeals to all of your senses.  I was reminiscing about s’mores recently to a gluten sensitive friend and realized how sad it is she can’t enjoy them.  So, just as I converted my Molasses Cookies to gluten free, I figured I could try my hand at creating a gluten free graham cracker.  This is the result and I’m quite pleased!  And of course, these can be crushed up and substituted for any graham cracker pie crust too!

Gluten Free Graham Crackers

300 g Gluten Free Flour (equal parts or 100 g each: brown rice flour, tapioca flour/starch, sorghum flour)
51 g sweet rice flour
3/4 tsp xanthan gum (or 1/2 tsp xanthan gum and 1/4 tsp guar gum if you have it)
1.5 tsp cinnamon (or less if you want it less cinnamon flavor)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 c packed light brown sugar
8 Tbsp butter cut (still cold from refrigerator)
3 Tbsp cold water
3 Tbsp honey (or more if you want more honey flavor)
3 Tbsp molasses (or less if you want less molasses flavor)
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together flours.  Then mix in xanthan gum, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.  Then mix in sugar.  Cut in butter 1/2 Tbsp at a time and mix on high for several minutes until the mixture resembles sand or cornmeal.  Stir in water, honey, molasses, and vanilla.  Mix until dough forms one ball.  Wrap dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325º.  Place parchment paper on cookie sheet and set aside.

Lightly dust another piece of parchment paper or a clean counter surface with sweet rice flour.  Once dough ball has chilled, divide in half and put half back in the fridge.  Roll out the dough to 1/8″ thick.  Use a pizza cutter or pastry cutter to cut out a large rectangle, dividing into smaller squares or rectangles for the crackers.  Score the  crackers in half and use a plastic fork to create desired designs.

Transfer dough crackers to cookie sheet, keeping small distance between each.  They will not spread, but will stick together if touching.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning the sheet at the halfway point to help bake evenly. Once crackers are lightly browned and begin to feel firm to the touch, remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for a couple minutes before transferring to cooling rack.  They will continue to harden as they cool.

Notes:
* Just before baking, you can lightly dust the crackers with cinnamon and sugar, if desired.
* It is not necessary to cut them into boring rectangle crackers.  Feel free to use any cookie cutter you have handy.
* Add or subtract cinnamon or molasses according to taste.  Note, that you may need to add more water (or honey) one tablespoon at a time to achieve the desired dough consistency if you use less molasses.

Cedars of Lebanon Tri 2014

May 21, 2014 - Leave a Response

Last weekend was my 4th time to race the Cedars of Lebanon sprint triathlon.  It’s such a short race (at least the past couple years), that I just race as hard and as fast as I can and worry about the pain after.  This year, however the weather was unusual.

It  was quite chilly for this race, sub-50 degrees, which is less than optimal in wet sleeveless spandex. I was really worried because I just wasn’t sure how I’d deal with the cold and if I’d want extra clothes or not. It’s such a short race, surely I could suck it up for the hour I was out there, but then again if my hands or arms got too chilled, would it affect my performance? Would I have trouble braking or shifting, or putting on my shoes or helmet? Typically at a sprint I try to ride as “naked” as possible. Take off any extraneous stuff off my bike (bento, tool kit, etc) and have my transition area as neat and minimal as possible. But I went ahead and put a jacket (half-zipped up because cold fingers are useless on zippers), and a fleece pullover for choices, and included socks in transition (I typically go sockless for a sprint both on bike and run). I did go ahead and put toe covers on my bike shoes thank goodness.

Before the race, I did get a quick lap in on the bike, to warm up and go through my gears and check bike course for hazards. I didn’t take the time to warm up the run, but that didn’t really make a difference. I also DID NOT warm up on the swim, when it’s that cold I do not risk getting wet and cold waiting for swim start. Plus, the water temp was 71, which is balmy for me (compared to my practice pool).  They decided it was “wetsuit legal” and they would have “wetsuit strippers.” I was amused to see people actually wore wetsuits for the 200 meter swim! The swim was the warmest part of the race, but hey to each their own.

I felt better on this swim than in the past. Because it’s so short, I tend to go anaerobic pretty quickly and struggle. But was seeded early enough that I was with people of my own pace, and didn’t have to pass people or bunch up at the wall. But my swim time was a few seconds slower than last year.  Darnit!  But according to the results I was 1st in my age group on the swim! That NEVER happens.

I put on socks in T1 and ran with them (bike shoes clipped to my bike) to the mount line. I’m working on faster transition times and this is part of it. I’ve had a little trouble with getting used to the new bike and the mount/dismount with shoes on bike, but I was ok for this race. As I suspected I did not need a jacket, adrenaline was pumping and didn’t make my arms/shoulders too cold.

Bike was great, first lap was fine, passed people. Second lap is always a cluster as I catch up with the later seeded people on their first lap. There’s a short stretch on a main highway and people were out in the road (holding up traffic) rather than on the generous shoulder. Made it really hard to pass them as I was going through. But it felt great, I passed a lot on the bike and barely got passed myself, that’s a first for this race. The bike has been my weakness and I’m starting to feel much better this year. I was faster than last year and second in age group on the bike split!

Quick transition to the run, leaving on my socks. That’s when I realized my feet were numb.  It felt like I had a golf ball in my shoe, I honestly thought something was in my shoe.  But almost everyone else I talked to said the same thing, so I’m glad it wasn’t just me.  I tried to push on the run as hard as I could, but I might have been still a little foggy from the cold. Looks like my run was a lot slower than last year.  Guess I was struggling, either from the cold, or just getting used to running after a really hard bike.

But I still pulled off a 2:22 PR over last year, with slower swim and run, but much faster bike and transitions. That’s the thing about triathlon, every single time counts! And got 2nd AG again.  Dang, these women keep getting faster too!

And the best part was getting to one of my really good friends, who’s become an amazing runner, race her first triathlon!  I’m so excited to have a new friend to share my love of multi-sport.  I’m also really glad she’s not in my age group, because she’s going to be a serious force to reckon with!

Ironman Muncie 70.3 Race Recap

November 27, 2013 - 9 Responses

I did it.  Officially became a Half Ironman in July.  And I legitimately had fun doing it.  I know, I can’t believe I’m saying that either!

Pre-race:
I drove up on Thursday before the race, and I’m glad I did.  It gave me time to get settled into the hotel and ready for the long weekend.  I arbitrarily picked a hotel in a nearby town and I’m so glad.  It really wasn’t far from the expo or the race site (because nothing is close to that!).  It also was centrally located to a strip with plenty of dining options and stores if I needed anything.  And the best part, my room had a large mini-fridge and small microwave.  This was a useful luxury!

On Friday, I slept in and drove up to Muncie for the expo and race meeting.  Downtown Muncie, how adorable.  I got to meet up with a Twitter friend who was also doing the race and drove all the way down from Maine with his young son.  Nice little father son bonding trip!  We went to the first athlete meeting together.  Then I finished checking out the expo and got some lunch before heading out to the middle of nowhere race site to check out the course.  Definitely glad I did that.  There is no easy way to get to the race site and it’s pretty confusing.  I did the race in reverse order, starting with a quick run, a short bike to check gears, and then a little swim to check the water and the sighting to the finish.  The shallow part of the water has quite a few rocks, so I was really hoping we didn’t have a beach run start. After that, I drove the remainder of the run and bike.  The run looked great, and those “rollers” weren’t going to be a problem.  I confirmed the bike is in fact flat, but a lot of the course was really rough, so I kept that in mind.  Then I drove back to the hotel to have dinner and an Epsom salt bath and get my gear ready for the morning.

Race morning:  I knew that there is really only one road in to the race, so traffic gets backed up early.  Therefore I planned on getting to the race site as soon as possible to when parking opened at 4:30am.  I set the alarm for 3:15am, got dressed, loaded the car, and packed some coffee and breakfast for when I got there.  I lucked out and got parking on the 3rd row.  I hit the porta potties before transition opened at 5am.  Then, I started unloading my stuff to take to set up transition.  We were lucky that pre-race bike check-in was optional.  I have separation anxiety from my bike.  Also, many thanks to the nice volunteer who checked and topped off my air pressure in my tires!  After getting set up, I went back to my car to relax and eat my breakfast and get my sunscreen started.  We got word that the water temp was 75 so it would be a wetsuit legal race, which meant some extra Body Glide.  While the pros were starting I got a little practice swim in to get used to the water.  Then I was ready to go get in line for the start line chute.

Swim:
Fortunately, we got to start a few feet into the water and get away from the rocks embedded in the sand.  I was surprised how small my wave was.  Usually my age group is pretty big, but this helped me relax about being in an aggressive swim wave/washing machine.  I lined up on second or third row out on the edge closest to the buoys.  When the bull horn went off, we started swimming.  I felt pretty good.  I did have one woman, who just wouldn’t leave me alone.  I couldn’t tell if she was just being especially aggressive towards me or was doing a terrible job of swimming straight and cutting me off and yanking on my feet on purpose.  I think I finally lost her when we caught up to the guys ahead of us about the second buoy and I trapped her between the buoy and the slower men.  I had a hard time sighting on the swim because the line out to the first turn is at a diagonal to the left, and we started running into the slower men in the wave ahead of us.  But for the most part it was manageable.  About halfway between the first and second turn, I was swimming behind a line of about 3 people across.  Then a guy wearing an orange cap (I think from the wave behind us) decided to swim diagonally across them.  And I caught his heel directly into my left eye, shoving my goggle deep into my eye socket.  I had to stop and adjust, and assess whether I thought I might actually have injured my eye.  It seemed to be ok (I could see), but hurt pretty badly.  But I was the furthest away from the shore that I could be so I had to keep going.  I was just hoping it wouldn’t be all bloody when I got out of the water and they would make me quit my race then.  I was also glad it wasn’t my nose.  A broken nose is a definitely DNF, something I didn’t want.  After the second turn, it started getting much more congested in the water as all the swim waves start catching up with the slower people in front of them.  I was worried about the sighting since the sun is rising over the shore, but it actually created a shadow on the buoys and wasn’t that bad to sight.  Plus there were enough people around me all going the same general (straight) direction back to shore. Once out of the water, I started running up the hill to transition.  We were told there weren’t going to be any wetsuit strippers, but I saw a group of teenage boys who were more than happy to yank that suit off me, pull me back up and get me back on my way to transition.  It’s amazing how efficient strippers are!

Transition 1 :
Tossed my wetsuit into my pile of stuff, grabbed my helmet and glasses, sprayed some sunscreen, grabbed my bike of the rack and ran to the “Bike Out” sign.  I had practiced a couple times with my shoes already clipped to my bike and I’m glad I did.  Our transition was in grass and it was much easier running barefoot and not getting grass or dirt stuck in my cleats.  Though I almost forgot and started to mount before the line, but caught myself.

Bike:
The bike course is over a lot of really rough roads.  It took a while to get comfortable where I could start putting my feet into my bike shoes and then longer before I could reach down and lock down the straps on my shoes.  The bike course goes out several local roads and through one neighborhood with moderately bumpy to smooth roads.  Once you turn on to the main highway, it’s really straight, flat, and smooth.  It was at this point that I got to see the lead male and female pro racers flying back the other direction on the course.  After a few miles, we turn off on to really incredibly rough farm roads.  There are several “no pass zones” but people aren’t observing them.  Apologies to the really fast people who were stuck behind me.  Then it’s miles and miles of relentless bumps and vibrations.  I kept having to shove my aero bottle straw back down into the bottle, the bumps were knocking it up out of the bottle.  I dodged numerous marked and even unmarked pot holes, ejected water bottles, and even an ejected rear water bottle cage (that poor person).  I passed several people who were fixing flats.  I took it easy on the bike.  It’s not my strength and why burn myself out just to blow up on the run where I can really make up time.  Plus, the whole goal for the race was to finish, not explode.  After the turnaround point, I was beyond done mentally with the bumpy roads. I started singing songs in my head to try to get through it.  It was difficult to fuel and hydrate with all the bumps and having to focus so hard on keeping a handle on the bike and dodging road obstacles.  I think the other side of the road for the second half was actually a little bit better and not as rough.  But I was definitely happy to get back to the smooth main highway and head my way back to transition.  I even smoothly handled a water bottle handoff!  I grabbed the bottle, dumped it into my aero bottle, tossed it before the drop point, and got in 2 tabs of Nuun to help with hydration and flavor!  So glad I had those Nuun tablets in my bento!

I definitely feel like I dialed in my nutrition plan just right for this race.  For me, my stomach doesn’t always tolerate a lot during the run and especially if I’m going hard or long in a race.  So, the key is to get everything in on the bike.  My plan was as follows (if nothing else it gave me something to do for 3 hours of pedaling):
Every 15min – sip of Nuun from my water bottle
Every 20 min – go up gear and pedal out of saddle for a few seconds
Every 20 min – fuel (On the :20 and :40 I took in a fig newton, on the hour I took a Hüma gel)

Transition 2:
I managed to get my shoes opened and my feet out before dismount. I hopped off my bike and ran barefoot in the grass back to my transition spot. Threw off the helmet and sunglasses, grabbed a hat and my race belt that I pre-loaded with gels and my bib.

Run:
This was by far my favorite part of the race.  Not just because it’s my strength, but I honestly had a good time!  I was, as usual, very happy to be out of the saddle and back on my own feet.  The course was great.  It says it is a challenging roller course, but really it wasn’t hilly or what this Tennessean would call a roller.  It wasn’t pancake flat (like the bike course), so it actually gave you a break from the constant pounding, and wasn’t enough of a roller to feel like you were climbing or breaking down a hill.  Just enough of a change to give your different muscles a break.  I started out at a great pace, maybe a little fast, but I was feeling good.  After a couple miles we turned on to the out and back portion.  At this point I saw a guy running back around his mile 11 with so many sponges stuffed in his tri top, he was easily taking a cue from that time I figure skated as Dolly Parton to “9-to-5″ as a kid.  It provided some entertainment for the start of the run.  Eventually the miles ticked off.  I saw some athletes from back home heading back and hoped I could catch some of them after the turnaround.  My Coach had warned me to take it easy on the bike, but that most people go too hard on that flat course and leave nothing for the run.  During the run I grinned from ear to ear (that’s never happened in a 13 mile run ever!) and just had fun.  I bounced from water stop to water stop, grabbing a cub of ice and pouring it into my sports bra (seriously, “boob ice” is the best thing ever) and taking a sip of the cola they offered, with the occasional ice water dumped on my head just for fun.  At the turn around point, I couldn’t believe I was already there and had to actually ask the volunteer if it was “for real.”  She said yes, and I did a little hop and a dance right there, then kept running.  After the turnaround, I caught up to many of the athletes from home who were running, said hi, and passed them.  I think I passed pretty much everyone I was running with.  I’m not sure I really got passed much myself.  It felt great.  I’m sure I looked a little strange munching on my “boob ice” in between water stops.  I was feeling so good I almost forgot to take some gels, but managed to get down a couple of them.  I’m not sure if it was the sugar and caffeine from the cola or just pure adrenaline, but I was all kinds of excited.  As I got to the 11 and 12 mile markers it was hitting me that I was getting close to the finish.  Not only was I going to finish my first Half Ironman, but it was also almost done.  After 6 hours of racing (and countless hours of training), I was done. When I saw the 13 mile turnoff, I quickly threw out all the ice from my top, straightened my bib and hauled it in to the finish.  I literally skipped and bounded to the finish line!  My heart was exploding. I was so happy and a little sad it was already over, I was having so much fun!

My #1 goal for this race was to finish.  I thought best case scenario, I could maybe pull off a 6:30.  I finished the race in 6:09.  It helps we had really great weather, and I trained hard.  I took the course one step at a time and didn’t push myself really hard because ultimately I just wanted to cross the finish line.  So, of course now I want to go back and try to race and see what I can really do on that course, with more determination and background of the course.

muncie finish

Big Announcement: I’m running a marathon

September 4, 2013 - 16 Responses

(By the way, I know I’m beyond overdue for race reports.  Many have been started and they are on their way.  I promise.)

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Never say never.  I always said I’d never run a marathon.  I mean, c’mon, 26.2 miles??  Really, even 13.1 miles is absurd.  So anything over a half marathon is just plain ridiculous.

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But I have plenty of friends who run marathons.  They love it.  But I just don’t know that my body is meant to go that distance.  I ran 15 miles once this summer and it was awful.  {insert Grumpy Cat meme}  Granted it was the day after I rode 70 miles and it was during a heat and humidity wave.

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Nonetheless, I’ve decided I’m going to run a marathon anyway.  But…you know me, I can’t just run any marathon.  If I’m going to do this, it may be the only time I ever do this.  So why not do it in style?

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So, instead of just running a marathon.  I’m going to warm up before the run, by swimming 2.4 miles.  Yeah, crazy huh?

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But ya know what? That’s still not enough.  I’m going to also ride my bike for 112miles.  Absolutely nuts!

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So I guess you figured out what my big announcement is by now…

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Tracking a race

July 10, 2013 - 6 Responses

So race week is here.  The race is just a couple days away.  Six months of intense training will be tested on Saturday.  My goal for my first Half Ironman is to FINISH.  Honestly, that’s it.  Yes, I do have a range of time in mind for my finish time for a good day and a bad day, and maybe I’ll share that after the race is over.  But I really just want to finish.  There are a lot of things that can happen in the several hours it takes to finish a race like this.  I have a lot of things in my favor, relatively flat course, excellent weather forecast, possible wetsuit legal swim. So I have my fingers crossed for crossing that finish line myself and not in the medical tent.

If you want to follow my progress on Saturday morning, here’s the information you need to know:

Saturday, July 13, 7am Eastern time.

I am bib #975.

My swim wave takes off at 7:35am Eastern time.

Track all athletes here (I don’t know if they will have finish line video or not)

My swim, bike, run, and transition splits will be posted there.  Note, it is my experience that sometimes the splits are a little delayed.

No-Fail Molasses Cookies – Gluten Free!

July 4, 2013 - 7 Responses

gfmolasses

Whenever I need to bake something that is quick and will be a crowd pleaser, I always fall back on my No-Fail Molasses Cookies.  I’ve posted my once closely guarded recipe here before.  But I can’t share these fabulous cookies with my gluten sensitive friends.  So I decided maybe I should experiment with trying to convert the recipe.  I’ve baked gluten free before.  And this is a fairly simple recipe, I figured I’d give it a try!  I clicked on 3 links did a little research online about converting baking recipes and took a stab in the dark.  Whoa, on my first try I actually have an edible product.  It’s not exactly like the original version of the cookies, but it’s a damn good substitute!  So I made these just in time for my gluten sensitive friend’s birthday and shipped them to her.

Gluten Free Molasses Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen

250g gluten free flour*
1 cup sugar (plus extra in a bowl or plate for rolling)
1/2 cup + 2 tsp oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup molasses
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2+ tsp (plus a pinch or two) salt
1 tsp cinnamon (plus extra to taste)
1 tsp ginger (plus extra if you prefer more of a gingerbread cookie)

Preheat oven to 300°.

Mix all ingredients until fully incorporated.  It will be a sticky gooey batter, a little stiffer than brownie mix for example.  Scoop out a chunk of dough and roll into a 1″ ball in your hands.  Then roll the dough ball in sugar, coating evenly.  Place on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper about 2″ apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes (12-14 for airbake cookie sheets).  After about 1/2 time, rotate cookie sheet and sprinkle extra sugar on top of cookies.  Do not overbake the cookies, they will get really hard if you do.  The cookies will flatten out when they’re ready and be slightly stiff on the edges, but soft in the middle.  Allow to cool a couple minutes on the cookie sheet before transfering to wire cooling rack.

* Gluten Free Flour  
You can use any gluten free flour or make a mixture of your own. For this particular recipe I used the following that weighed out to 250g together:
1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
50g white rice flour
remainder brown rice flour (just shy of 200g)

*TIPS:

  • I like to add extra salt, cinnamon, and ginger to the recipe to taste.  An extra pinch of salt or two gives it a nice sweet and salty taste.  I also like to add nutmeg and some all spice if I have it.
  • The cookies will continue to bake a while on the cookie sheet after you remove from the oven.  Keep this in mind since you take them out a little underdone, but also don’t leave them on too long or they will get crispy.
  • Let the cookie sheet cool a little between batches for a more even batch.  I alternate cookie sheets to allow for this.
  • This mixture is much stickier and more gooey than the original version.  I found it was best to put a little bit of sugar in my palm while I try to roll it into a ball to get it into a ball and not stuck to my hand.  Then I rolled it in the sugar.
  • I found that if I let the batter sit a few minutes after mixing it didn’t stick to my hands as much.
  • The cookies will flatten out to thin cookies, so allow enough room between the cookies to spread.  Also don’t worry if the balls aren’t exactly round, they will flatten out perfectly.

My First Metric Century Ride

July 2, 2013 - Leave a Response

CRAM Metric Century Ride

I did my first metric century bike ride recently in May.  Ok, first let’s get some vocabulary out of the way:

Century – (a) A time period of 100 years.  (b) A bike ride of 100 miles (a.k.a. a really long way!)

Metric – ya know, that universal method of measure that the rest of the world uses, e.g., kilometers, liters, grams.

Metric Century – A bike ride of 100 kilometers, or 62 miles.

So, yes, a metric century is a really, really long bike ride.  Not as insane as a century ride, but still not something you want to attempt without having had some serious saddle time already.  My longest ride to that point had been 50miles.  So I was pretty prepared for it.  I had also been training on very hilly routes and the CRAM is famously flat as a pancake.  In fact, many people try to ride the full century in under 4 hours.  Let me paint that picture for you, that’s riding over 25mph for 100 miles for 4 hours.  That’s insanity.

I’m really glad I did this ride.  The course is really similar to Muncie in that it’s incredibly flat and goes through a lot of farmland, but can be windy at times.  Fortunately we had no wind and the weather was really nice, starting out fairly cool,  and warming up after a couple hours.  I had never done any kind of mass group ride like this before and was pretty nervous, but it was a good laid back ride.

I found a couple people I knew from another training group and latched on to them so I’d have someone I knew to ride with, especially since I knew I wouldn’t be fast enough to hang with my friend with whom I carpooled to the race.  (Thanks for the ride Ken!!)  I felt like the course we really well marked and the rest stops were great.  Thumbs up for peanut butter sandwiches and pickles and extra sunscreen!!  Loved riding past all the farms, including seeing the Mennonite farm with the horse drawn equipment.  And to the packs of men who kept trying to pass our trio of women and then were more than happy to tuck in behind us and let us pull for the rest of the ride….bless your hearts.

It’s a no frills ride, no special finish line, no crazy party, no medal or fancy shirt (plain T with logo), but the registration only cost $30 the week of the race, so I can’t really complain. At the finish we had spaghetti and Dairy Queen ice cream sandwiches.  But for a last minute registration and a completely flat course only an hour away from home, I thought it was a great option.  There is another one in the fall on the same course.

Last rest stop. Follow us men, we know where we're going.

Last rest stop.
Follow us fellas, we know where we’re going.

One Month

June 13, 2013 - Leave a Response

One Month.

4 weeks.

30 days.

720 hours.

43,200 minutes.

There’s a lot of “time” in a month.  Temporal time, yes.  Actual time?

4 weekends.

2-3 really long brick workouts.

2-3 really long runs.

3-4 track workouts.

8-12 swim workouts.

7-8 bike rides.

4-5 mid-distance runs.

2-3 strength training sessions.

22+ 5am (or earlier) wake up calls.

2 weeks of taper.

1 long car ride to the middle of Indiana.

As of today, I am officially one month out from my first Half Ironman.  On the morning of July 13, I will be lining up along the shore of a lake outside Muncie, Indiana.  Once my group is called, I’ll swim 1.2miles, run to transition, then hop on my bike and pedal for 56miles.  After dropping my bike back off at transition, I’ll throw on my running shoes and run a half marathon before finally crossing a finish line.  My goal is to finish.  Over the past 6 months I have put in the training and have faith in my coach, my training, and my body to get me there.  But I still have one more month.  One month of training left.  One month of doubts.  One month of excitement.  One month of fears.  One month of confidence building.  A lot can happen in a month.  A lot can happen over the course of the day on July 13.  But I’m willing to do everything in my power to get myself to the finish line.

affresh_muncie

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