Archive for July, 2013

Tracking a race
July 10, 2013

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

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

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.