Team Nuun

February 5, 2017 - Leave a Response

nuun

Have I told you how much I love Nuun?

First, let’s clear the air…It is pronounced “noon.” Like the time of day, not like the woman wearing a black and white habit.

Now, let me set the basis for my “expertise” on Nuun. I have been the using the product for almost as long as it has been around. I was introduced to Nuun by a good friend within about a year of the company’s genesis, which was not long after I had started running again after 12+ year hiatus. From the first drop of my first tab into water, I was hooked.

I love the light flavors of Nuun. Nuun makes my water refreshing without being the syrupy, sugary overload of most sports drinks. It takes my water to the next level with electrolytes, as well as vitamins, caffeine, or carbohydrates depending on what flavor and style you get.

With Nuun, I have had the opportunity to run a bucket list race, Hood To Coast. I have connected with an impressive variety of athletes of all abilities and all kinds of sports. I have had the opportunity to meet the staff and CEO (that’s Chief Electrolyte Officer!) at the company, and I can vouch that they are amazing people, who truly believe in the product and have a passion for doing good in sport, hydration, the environment, and the world. I don’t know another hydration or other athletic product company that truly cares about and connects with their fans and athletes like Nuun does.

Not only have I been using Nuun for over a decade, but I have also been a member of Team Nuun and a Nuun Ambassador since 2013. And this year, I was selected again to be a member of Team Nuun, but I also became a part of the Nuun Legacy Program. Basically this means, I am one of their “senior ambassadors” and have shown my “nuun love” for many years. Once again, Nuun goes above and beyond to reach out and recognize their fan base. I am beyond proud to sport the Nuun logo, talk to people about the product, share my tabs with anyone in need, and jump in and help out at local races sponsored by Nuun.

So, yeah, you could say that I love me some Nuun.

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Clean sport

January 15, 2017 - Leave a Response

There is a very important movement going on in amateur and professional sports. And I’m a little disappointed. In my mind, as an athlete it is vital that I live a clean life, personally, in training, and in competition. That means putting in good healthy fuel in my body to make it run at top form. While our competitive nature makes us want to take any advantage we can to win, it must be a fair competition. But unfortunately, there is still a serious problem with unfair practices and doping. I’m disappointed that we still struggle with this problem even within our own country, but I am very proud to see several brands (such as Nuun Hydration) and professional athletes taking a stand.

So, I have, along with many of my fellow athletes, signed the Clean Sport Collective. True, I may not always be the most naturally fastest athlete, but I believe in the importance in clean fuel, clean training, clean competition.

cleansportco_badge_amateur-athletes

 

 

 

One week down

January 10, 2017 - Leave a Response

On January 2, I started my first week of Ironman training. After a year off, it was both exciting and scary. But early season training is nice. It’s not insane mileage and hours. But it’s winter while the training isn’t too hard, mother nature makes sure that it’s not easy. I did a lot of creative swapping around workouts to deal the snow and ice we got at the end of the week, and to take advantage of two holidays at the beginning of the week.

Here are the numbers:
3 runs – 4 mi, 6mi, 1 mile time trial (which was interesting with a couple snowy patches)
2 swims  – each an hour at Masters
2 bikes – each 1.5 hours on the trainer/computrainer
1 strength – 45 min yoga

I’ve been most worried about running. This past year I’ve primarily run on trails and my endurance on road has fallen to the side, and I’ve still struggled with plantar fasciitis in both feet for nearly 2 years. But each run went fairly well. I’m hoping it hangs on.

So, one week down, 29 to go to Ironman Santa Rosa.

2016 Recap

January 3, 2017 - One Response

I was noticeably absent from the blog in 2016.  It was an “off” year of sorts for me.  I went through a lot of personal life stuff leading into 2016 and decided to take a new approach to the year. But let nothing be lost, and I figure a little recap is in order. 2017 promises to be a big year, so I plan to update more regularly with those adventures.

January
I started off the first week of the year with major surgery.  With a new 6″ scar across my abdomen, I spent much of that first month on the couch, medicated, and moving at a glacial pace.  For someone who is constantly on the move and fiercely athletic, my new reality was a very difficult adjustment. And although I received some not-great news from my doctor a couple weeks after surgery, I continued to progress with recovery, and began to go for short walks and eventually short swims.

February
I traveled to Mobile, AL to experience the original Mardi Gras in the U.S. with my best friend for her bachelorette celebration. I slowly started to try running again, discovering that trails were easier for me to manage at my slow pace and still gingerly moving body. I returned to work after several weeks off and was immediately immersed in a large project that would last months. I volunteered a race on a bitterly cold day, and attended a Ginger Pub Crawl organized by one of my law school classmates.

March
I began trying to workout more regularly again. I ran a couple trail races to prove I was on my way back to mending, earning 2nd overall in both a 10k and a 12k. I was called for jury duty, but was not picked to serve. And I replaced a water heater and HVAC unit in my house. Nothing makes you feel more adult and broke at the same time as major appliance replacement.

April
My best friend from Mobile got married with a Mardi Gras themed wedding. I joined our local Masters Swimming team. I biked a very frigid organized bike ride with a couple of good friends.  I joined a Ragnar Trail team and raced outside Atlanta. I ran my first trail half marathon.  And I had my first follow up MRIs after my surgery.

May
I ran my longest running event in a 25k trail race that was very difficult. Other than ironman, I have never run a running race longer than a half marathon.
I am fully head over heels in love with trail running.  The woods are where I feel alive and can run forever.  It proves to be very healing for me both mentally and physically. I make a point to start spending quality time with friends and meeting new people and take advantage of my year of fun. I travel to Asheville to visit one of my favorite relay running friends for Memorial Day.

June
I travel to Knoxville to visit my best friend and run another trail race earning 1st in my Age Group, and later the same day completed an open water swim relay race with my friend.  And the next weekend spent the weekend with her and another friend swimming a 2.4mi open water race and training and eating good food.  Nashville starts to really heat up and we are in for a long, very hot summer. I begin running with the Fleet Feet Dirtbags Trail Running Club. The last weekend of the month, I raced the new Chattanooga Waterfront sprint tri, my first tri of the year, and placed 3rd in my Age Group.

July
A very hot month.  I continue to brave the heat with the Dirtbags trail mixer runs, which probably helps keep me running through 100 degree 80+% humidity days.  I spend much of the month immersed in a huge project at work.  I have a few doctor’s appointments and another set of MRIs. I also come down with a cold that leads to a respiratory infection that lasts for weeks and forces me to take it easy on training.  I become obsessed with the Stranger Things show on Netflix and watch it a minimum of three times.  I travel to Knoxville again to go for one last training ride with my best friend, and I sign up for Ironman Vineman (which is later renamed to Ironman Santa Rosa) for 2017.

August
I travel to Boulder, CO with a training buddy to sherpa and spectate my best friend as she completes Ironman Boulder.  I was not as impressed with Boulder or Denver as I expected, it’s very flat and brown and I love trees and green.  But I did get to go see a Colorado Rockies game and check off another baseball stadium.  Work continues to take a priority during the week.  I worked my first race, which was a full 2-day weekend race, and camped.  It was an exhausting, fun learning experience.  I raced Cedars of Lebanon Sprint Tri and placed 2nd in my Age Group. The following weekend, I swam Splashville Open Water Race 2.5k.

September
I traveled to Gulf Shores with friends for Labor Day weekend.  It was so nice to get away and see the beach. I hadn’t been to a beach in a long time.  I had my first really bad fall during a trail run, that turned out to look worse than it was and learned I can successfully “tuck and roll.”  Nashville had a gas shortage and I was thankful for the Adventure Prius.  I traveled down to Chattanooga with my training buddies to volunteer and spectate at Ironman Chattanooga.  It was record breaking heat that day and my heart went out to all the athletes already pushing their bodies to the limit in that kind of race, but also racing a clock and in such heat.  Later that week, I took a midweek personal day and traveled down to Atlanta to see the Braves play at Turner Field during their last week before they move to the new stadium the next year.

October
Started the month out with my third trip to Chattanooga in a week, by racing the Stump Jump 15k.  Couple weeks later, I race the Defeated Creek Trail half marathon that was a total of 2880 ft elevation in 11.75mi and was 5th overall and 1st in Age Group. I had my third set of MRIs.  I hired a new coach for ironman training.  I joined a CSA and continued to revamp my diet and nutrition in hopes of fixing past gut issues and working on overall health and fueling during training.  I traveled to Houston, TX for Halloween and to visit a friend, and flew on a plane with a bald eagle.

November
Following a new presidential election, I began reaching out to old friends and seeking new outlets locally.  Once again I rode as lead cyclist for the Flying Monkey Marathon, something I look forward to every year.  The day after Thanksgiving, I raced the Fiery Gizzard trail half marathon.  It was a brutal course that involved a good bit of traversing rocky faces.

December
I had another birthday.  I traveled to Houston, TX again and got to run along the Buffalo Bayou trail.  I raced the Lookout Mountain 10k Trail Race, my first ever trail race and third time running it.  I finished 2nd in my Age Group in a very foggy race.  I hosted a little NYE get together at my house and enjoyed my last few days of my year of fun.

It has been an interesting year with quite a few highs and lows.  My main focus this year was recovery, enjoying myself and others around me, and trying new experiences.

Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon. Or “never quit” triathlon.

June 28, 2015 - Leave a Response
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I almost didn’t earn this medal.

This is my 5th year racing triathlons.  My 6th Olympic distance triathlon.  My 23rd triathlon and 26th multisport race.  At this point, it should be old hat; I can do it with my eyes closed.  I’ve been dubbed “IronMom” by my training partners for my ability to herd cats and organize the hell out of our training and race logistics.

But today’s race experience was a new one; a triathlon comedy of errors.  If you’ve ever wondered why athletes can be so superstitious and stick to traditions, I may be able to help you with that.

As I drove down to Chattanooga for the race, I thought to myself that I didn’t pack my bags using my trusty “Race Packing List” that I use then double-check before every race. No worries, I know I have everything, I’ve done this a dozen times, I’m good.

Initially, I planned that my training buddy and I would take my car with our bikes and stuff down to the race start, but due to space and the set up of her water bottles that were already filled, we took her car instead.  No big deal, she has more room anyway, I’ll pay for parking for us.

In the parking garage, I realize I left my transition mat and towel (that I have used at nearly every single race I’ve ever done) in my backpack that I put in my car before we left the hotel.  We really don’t have the time to go back and don’t really want to.  My training buddy offers to let me use her bag as my “mat.”  Yeah, that’ll work, it’s not a problem.

I didn’t get to do my usual warm up before the race. We had to set up in transition super early because we didn’t check our bikes in the night before and we had to take a shuttle to the swim start. I hopped on my bike in my flip flops just to check the gears and get in a low gear so I could run out of transition and start pedaling easily.  That’s ok if I don’t warm up.  It’s just an Olympic, I’ll be fine.

As I’m leaving transition to hop on the shuttle, I realize I still have my phone and my car keys in my pockets in my kit top.  Oops, I don’t need these for the race at all.  Why didn’t I leave those in my training buddy’s car?  Oh well, that’s alright, I’ll just put them in a baggie at my transition area and they’ll be fine.

Race starts. It is a 0.9 mile swim.  At about 0.47 mile I realize something.  Something big.

It rained for a couple days leading up to the race, and the transition area was a grassy area that became a grassy, muddy area.  I usually try to keep my bike shoes attached to my bike in transition.  This allows me to avoid the time it takes to put on the shoes, and to quickly run through transition in bare feet as opposed to the “reverse high heel” effect from the cleats, as well as avoid getting mud and grass stuck in my cleats which makes it harder to clip into my pedals.

At mile 0.47 I realize I pulled out rubber bands to hold my bike shoes in place, but I never attached my shoes to my bike.  Argh, I can’t do my quick transition trick.  But wait.  A quick mental picture of my transition set up and I realize I don’t have bike shoes at transition period.  Just run shoes.  My bike shoes are in my car.  Back at my hotel.

Immediately I think, well I guess I will get my first DNF (do not finish) in a race.  I’m angry and sad.  Then I think, I do not want to have this conversation with my coach later today about why I did not finish the race.  Well maybe I can race without my bike shoes…nope not on this hilly course with extended climbing.  What am I going to do?  If I’m going to DNF, then I better swim as fast as I can and get the best swim time ever since this is my only event today.  Maybe they will let me just go straight to the run and do an Aquathon (swim then run).  No, I really wanted to see what this bike course is like.  Hill climbing is the only thing I’m halfway decent on the bike, plus I just had a bunch of work done on the bike and fit the past week.  I wanted to ride.  But how?

Then I remembered that there is a rule that if you veer off course, you can return to the course as long as you return exactly where you left the course.  I was pretty sure our hotel was really close to the bike course, I would just have to bike a little extra, go to my car, get my shoes and get back on course.  But I still wasn’t sure if that rule stood for this race. Those were my 2 options: DNF, or grab my car key from my bag, bike barefoot to my hotel, get my shoes and get back on course.  I decided to try to do the latter.

As soon as I exited the swim I started yelling that I needed to speak with a referee or race official.  Eventually two race officials ran over to me.   I explained my situation and they confirmed that I could carry out my plan to get my shoes as long as I got back on the course exactly where I left the course.

So I took off out of transition barefoot.  And rode the first 1.5 miles, up two big hills, barefoot on my pedals.  Turns out my hotel was right on the bike course.  I pulled in, confusing a volunteer in the process, and unlocked my car, grabbed my shoes, put them on and got back on course.  I don’t know how long I was stopped.  Maybe a minute.  But at least I knew I was going to attempt to finish the race.

I didn’t really stress out the rest of the race.  At that point, I was happy to just finish.  I had a super fast swim, thanks to the current and probably a couple bouts of sprinting when I considered DNF’ing.  The bike was actually a pretty decent time.  I wanted to try to make up some time from my chat with officials in transition and getting my key out of my bag, then biking barefoot and retrieving the shoes from my car.  However, I also knew that whatever happened at least I was still on the course, so no need to burn myself out.  Thankfully, with the rain, it cooled off and the run wasn’t as miserably hot as anticipated.  I was a little worn out from my ordeal earlier in the race, and I’ve been fighting some injuries so it wasn’t my fastest run.  I also knew I just wanted to finish, something I didn’t think I’d get to do.

I did finally have that conversation with my coach.  I was so proud of myself for finishing the race.  She wouldn’t be mad at me for a DNF over something silly like forgetting my shoes.  Her response, “I probably would have just quit. I can’t believe you did all that.”  I told her I asked myself what would coach do, and I found a way to keep going.  Fortunately, my keys were in my bag at transition, my shoes were in my car not my training buddy’s car, and fortunately my hotel was right on the bike course.  If the stars didn’t align for each of those situations, it would have been a DNF.

Turns out I very nearly PR’d on this course. Perhaps without all the mishaps and weird strokes of luck I would have set a new PR.  But I’m just happy I was able to finish and earn that medal.

Tracking Ironman Chattanooga

September 23, 2014 - One Response

Several people have asked about tracking my Ironman race on Sunday. Here is all the info you will need, including how to track my times online, or with an app, and how to even see a live video feed of the finish line. I have also included spectator information that I have handed out to friends who will be in the area or who live in Chattanooga. Please note all times are Eastern Time Zone.

IM

Ironman Chattanooga
Sunday, September 28, 2014
7:40am Eastern

  • Swim: The swim starts at 7:30 for the pro athletes and 7:40-8:20 for the regular folk. We start upstream and get out at Ross’s Landing by the Aquarium, then head out on the bike. Most people will be coming in on the swim around 8:45-10am, so you can go to one of the bridges and watch them swim under you.  We swim to the left of the island, so we’re on the downtown side (as opposed to Northshore side).
  • Bike: The bike course heads down to and rides mostly in North Georgia. There is a shuttle to Chickamauga for spectators, see below. I think most people will be getting in from the bike to head out on the run between 3:30-6pm (6:15pm is the cutoff for the bike, if they’re not in by then they’re not allowed to run).
  • Run: Then the run goes until 12:15am.

Tracking information: You will be able to track me on the Ironman page and there are several apps that you can use. It will give you an idea of where I am on the course as I cross different timing mats and estimate when I will be coming in for the next leg.

  • Ironman Website: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/coverage/live.aspx#axzz3E0h0vCgD
    You will be able to track athletes here, either by last name or “bib number.” My bib number is 1011. There will be a LIVE video feed from a couple points during the race, but most importantly there is a live feed of the finish line. (This can be found from www.ironman.com if not on the link above)  You can track an athlete’s times and the website will show a “predicted finish time.” NOTE, however that athletes tend to finish the last few miles much faster than predicted or than they have been traveling up to that point. Once we can “smell the barn” we pick up the pace and bring it in strong, hopefully.

Tracking Apps:
The apps I like are IronMobile and IMTrackr. IronTrac is a free download but they make you buy a season pass for 2014, so don’t bother with that one. I’m sure there are other apps also available, but these are what I use and like.

  • IMTrackr is awesome and is my favorite, because it sends you notifications as the person you’re tracking hits the different timing mats. It also seems to be much faster than the others at giving you updates and having the info ready earlier than 24hrs out from the race. However, it only lets you set one person to “favorites” per race without buying additional credits, that’s the only downside. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/imtrackr/id836182662?mt=8
  • IronMobile is good and is free. It lets you track as many athletes as you want, but you have to go to the app and refresh to get updated info, it doesn’t send notifications. It does however give you an estimated finish time like the Ironman website does. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ironmobile/id539291461?mt=8

Spectator Guides:

Course Maps:

http://www.ironman.com/ja-jp/triathlon/events/americas/ironman/chattanooga/athletes/course.aspx#axzz3CSHycVOG

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.

watch

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!