12/17/2008

150 calories down. 800 up.

Just because I ran a whopping 20 minutes does not mean that I should've indulged in a small calzone, coke, & antipasti from Petes-A Pizza.

That is all.

What is this new feeling?

I went for my first run since I traveled to London. My newfangled training schedule says that training for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler starts in two weeks. Two weeks!

While waiting for an email response from a coworker in a different timezone, I decided to hit the gym downstairs for a short 20-minute treadmill (yuck) run. Forgot my flying pig socks upstairs & gave myself a very long shallow blister on my right non-existent arch. Nice.

I had to muster some internal fortitude to finish the 20 minutes. Some of my bad habits came back - but many good habits came back. I quieted my negative inner voice, I pushed until my time limit was completed, I stretched, I watched my form.

Now, I feel great. Only twenty minutes showed me how much I missed running.

I should write a thank you card to Huxie for pushing me to sign up for the 10 miler. (which consisted of "are you doing it?" "i don't know. are you doing it?" "yeah" "........ okay, i'm signed up.")

So. Yay! Running!

& Coach said I could continue swimming with the team as long as I want. So, I may still be hanging with the team on occasion.

So. Yay! Swimming with friends!

12/16/2008

Goodbye, team koolaid!

After careful consideration, I've decided to quit the triathlon team. The cost-benefit ratio isn't inspiring me to continue. Plus, it erased any spare time that I had. Presently I am only running & swimming (in theory). Since I run on my own, paying the team & swim fees seems a bit overkill to my wallet.

I know what you're thinking... "She's quitting. She's allowing herself to gracefully slide off the wagon when no one is looking."

To you, I say, "Ha-Ha! Ho-Ho! This cannot be true - for I have just signed up for the Cherry Blossom 10-miler. Also, I have created a training schedule that starts this week & brings me strong & healthy to the start line on April 5th."

Now, I can incorporate other hobbies into my life that I enjoy - like cooking, baking, & doing random things that strike my fancy - like going to a culinary school, going to movies, dating, trapeze class, Bikram yoga, pole dancing, etc. etc. etc. Plus, I can join the DC Masters Swim Team, which meets daily for an hour & a half.

Of course, I'll miss some of my teammates (& still plan on seeing them away from practices), but really - I don't need to pay a third party to see my friends if they are truly friends.

& if anyone ever wants to bike for fun, let me know. My calendar is considerably more free now.

12/05/2008

Recipes: Chicken Noodle Soup.

Dude. I am eating the best chicken soup that I have ever tasted. The best part? I made it from scratch. Since I care, I've written the recipe below. Follow exactly or it just won't be right!

Roast Chicken & Chicken Noodle Soup

1 roasting chicken (unroasted)
potatoes
2 onions
5 cloves of garlic
1 pack of smoky peppercorn turkey spice rub (or Sea salt, pink peppercorns, smoked pepper, dried parsley, paprika - or smoked paprika)
a pack of celery
4-5 carrots
fresh rosemary, thyme, & sage (or poultry blend fresh herbs)
olive oil
salt
penne noodles
1 large pot
1 medium to large size roasting pan
1 television with DVD player

Preheat oven to 350. Get your chicken out of the refrigerator. Don't remove the plastic just yet! You cut your potatoes & one onion into quarters & peel your garlic. Cut 2-3 of your carrots into sticks. (Once a fan of baby carrots, I abhor them now as they're wet & processed & taste funny. Go big!) Toss with a drizzle of olive oil. Place into the sides of the roasting pan. Doesn't that look great?

Now that the chicken is more room temperature, prep the counter top to accommodate a large pile of dripping salmonella. Take 3 small bowls & place... I don't know... maybe 4 tablespoons of salt into one bowl & 1/8 cup of olive oil into another & the spice rub into the third.

Here comes the fun part. Take out the gizzard & neck. Provide these tasty treats to your furry companions. (Yummmmmm... & completely safe as long as they're uncooked.) Smear your olive oil on the skin of the chicken. Rub it down with salt & then the spice rub. The olive oil & salt mixture help seal in the juices - what friend Mike once dubbed a "comically juicy chicken".

Place chicken in roasting pan & throw it in the oven until the thermometer reads "no more salmonella" when placed into the deepest part of the thigh. Mine says that temperature is 165. (I've seen other temperatures for this too.)

Hours pass. Go ahead & make your real dinner, clean, watch the Food Network, pet the cats, sit on couch & feel sick, & check on the chicken. Then, chicken's done!

Remove the parts of the chicken that you like to eat & place with potatoes, onion, garlic, & carrots into container & place in fridge.

NOW! We're ready for chicken soup!!!

Throw carcass, poultry blend (or 2 sprigs rosemary, 1 sprig sage, & 3 sprigs thyme), any carrot tops, celery hearts, & enough water to cover all into pot.

Bring to boil, then let simmer. Watch Pride & Prejudice - I MEAN some amazingly rockin action/scifi flick!! - on the television.

Strain soup. Remove pieces of chicken from carcass & throw into broth. Cut the remainder of the carrots & a helluva lot of celery (aids in decongestion) into pot. Throw in noodles. Taste. Add salt if needed. Return to pot & boil until noodles & vegetables are barely al dente. "Barely" because I hate brothy soups. The noodles will soak up more broth if they're left sitting in the soup overnight.

& tomorrow, you yum. :)

11/29/2008

A quick update.

Hey! I've gotten a few emails from people wondering if I'm doing alright. I'm dandy. Over time/various medical procedures, the pain went away by itself.

I've been on business travel for the last month & may need to take a longer hiatus from training due to additional required travel. I am presently unsure of my status on the matter.

I am, however, home today. & that feels pretty good.

I may even go for a run.

9/22/2008

Conversations with my stomach (part 1)

About 4 weeks ago, my abdomen started talking with me. It went something like this:

Tummy: hey.
...
...
...
Tummy: heyheyheyhey.
...
...
...
Tummy: HEY!!!


Which I ignored. Then, it proceeded to do the "heyheyheyhey" minorly for 2 weeks. On September 17th morning, my abdomen revolted. Officially.

Tummy: HEY! YOU WEREN'T LISTENING TO ME!! I HATE IT WHEN YOU DON'T LISTEN TO ME!!!

& then it had a temper tantrum & threw things. For over an hour. That was fun.

4 visits with medical professionals, 3 days, & 2 blood draws later, I feel like this is the story of Keri & "The Very Angry Tummy." Now, my abdomen behaves like this:

Tummy: I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!
Tummy: .......
Tummy: .......
Tummy: are you gonna feed me? i'm so hungry... please...
........
Tummy: please?
Tummy: YAY!
........
Tummy: That was really good... oh, wait... I forgot...
Tummy: I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!!

My race season is officially over. All training has halted. I'm on a liquid diet. It's souper. The good news is that we're finally doing the celiac test.

(I had wanted to wait until race season was over - My previous doctor wouldn't test me unless I was eating gluten every day, which I hadn't wanted to endure during my race season. Now, I have a new doctor.)

My decision on IMFL is on hold for now as well as my marathon/half-marathon goals for winter. & I'm okay with that.

9/14/2008

Okay, I see it now.

I ran into ... well... if you want to be accurate - I lunged at my friend Annette when I saw her on Metro this evening. Annette-sightings are rare as she lives in Columbia, Maryland. So, I seized the opportunity by "running into her".

As we were chatting, she mentioned that my core group of friends have been gossiping about how skinny I have become. It's been "Have you seen Keri? She's so skinny!"

Hrmmm... As I've told my coworkers, friends, & fellow triathletes, I really don't see it. I've only noticed that my clothes don't fit, & my savings fund is missing some cash.

Until Julia sent me this picture from her birthday shindig:



Dude, how come no one told me that I became so skinny?!

Please note: Do not for any reason give me access to your credit cards. I might use it to purchase all of Banana Republic & Filene's Basement. No, I will not hold your wallet while you do something crazy or kegstand. I will run away with it & purchase pants that fit.

Be warned.

9/11/2008

Bits & pieces.

There were free hugs for the taking in front of the Scientology building. Call me greedy - I took two.

I love happy protests! :)

****

Also, I played a great joke on my boss yesterday where I pretended to resign. He actually clutched his chest & gaped at me. It was priceless. I wish I had a camera for that one.

He kept eying the paper in my hand as I was discussing my meeting with the Vice President of Operations. I saw the opportunity & went for it. It was well executed if I do say so myself.

****

I bought an official fuckton of new clothes this week as I was tired of looking like I was in hand-me-downs from a larger person. Coincidentally, I celebrated "Forget to Take the Tags off Your New Sweater Day!" Did you?

****

Also - Here's an email I sent out to my tri team:

For those of you not traveling for Savageman, you're in for a treat. The inaugural Capital Criterium is taking place on September 21st in downtown DC. Christian Vande Velde will be racing.


Further information at:
http://www.velonews.com/article/83018/vande-velde-to-race-in-dc-s-ing-direct-capital-criterium
http://www.capitalcriterium.com/

9/10/2008

As God is My Witness, I'll Never Want to Do Lunges Again.

My triathlon motivation waned to almost nil last week. This year was supposed to contain my 70.3 races on my way to the 2009 Florida Ironman. My first attempt turned into a 2/3 relay. My second was canceled. Go figure that I am disappointed.

I know that I normally enjoy training & racing. Very much so - actually. In 4 days, I'm racing The Nation's Triathlon, but I'm not super jazzed about it. In fact, I'd rather not race. Right now, I'd rather hang with friends, be social, hit a concert or two, go dancing/camping/hiking/etc.

Officially, I'm burnt out. I don't want to run for 30-minutes.

(It also doesn't help that I tried on a pencil skirt at Banana Republic (the Official store of Yuppies (*gag*) - but hey! Nice clothes!) & wasn't too impressed with my smooshed bottom & that caused me to do a million & a half squats & lunges on Monday & now I can't walk or climb stairs without saying Ouch. That 30-minute run would contain a lot of Ouches.)

To get rid of my funk & resurrect my love for my triathlon habit, the new Official Plan:

1. Give Nation's Tri a shot. I did pay for it, & I do love running & biking in my city.

2. Next week, hit one training session per sport. Do it for fun only. Ignore training plan.

3. Relay Savageman with Meredith. Give it all on the 2nd half of the bike. Leave nothing left.

4. On weekends before Army 10-miler, run at least an hour.

5. Complete Army 10-miler as a training run.

6. Finish October as a fun month. Ignore all workouts if needed. Hit belated 10-year HS reunion. Celebrate Zoe's first birthday. Hit as many Halloween parties as possible.

7. Decide sometime in October/late September if signing up for IMFL09. (& Remember that this for fun - not for stress.)

Sounds good to me.

9/06/2008

Surf's up.

Around 4pm today, the curls of ocean started looking very, very tempting. Mike & I ran back to the hotel room, donned our suits, nabbed our boards, & were out the door. The waves were sporadic & speckled with a dozen or so surfers. On my difficult traverse out to the surfable conditions, my surfboard was torn from me, & my leash broke.

After a quick jaunt to the surf shop to fix my broken leash, I "caught" 3 waves. One spectacular failure occurred when my board nosed into the wave as I popped up. I'm particularly proud of that one.

I still need to work on my pop-up, per the usual. I know if I can catch a wave, where the wave will break, when I've caught the wave, when the drop-in happens. Yet, I'm still getting stuck on the pop-up. I'm fantastic on riding half upright, but standing has always been a little more difficult.

Mike did alright as well. I watched him disappear numerous times beyond the sea foam crest.

This is a great surf trip already. Hopefully, tomorrow will have more manageable waves in the AM.

*******

It's become apparent that the surefire way to meet new guys is to A) wear a bikini & B) hold a surfboard. This afternoon, I met 9 guys when Mike left me for random things. I'd say that I was alone for an average of 10-30 seconds before someone would approach me to chat.

This works even better than looking confused/forlorn in Whole Foods gluten-free section!

Patriots Half-Ironman Race Report.

For those of you unawares, my "A" race was canceled due to safety issues regarding Tropical Storm Hanna. Pursuing an alternate race (either DiamondMan on Sunday (Delaware) or the Duke Liver 1/2) wasn't really an option for me. On my commute home on Thursday evening, I pondered what to do & came up with the only solution that brought a smile to my face & a glow to my cheeks.

I called the only friend I knew that would A) not worry/balk at the idea, B) would be able to leave "whenever", C) would be thrilled at the opportunity, D) not bail on me last minute, E) know what he's doing, & F) say yes.

So, I called Mike & asked him if he wanted to surf pre-/post-Tropical Storm Hanna. His answer was, "That sounds like a good kind of crazy. I'm down." After the official cancellation from the Race Director, I called Mike & said we were a-go. In a few short hours, we were gone.

Below is written my "race report" for the Patriots Half-Ironman. It is how I spent my hours where I would've been pushing myself to exhaustion (& back again).

***********************************************

Saturday, September 6th, I awoke from my hotel room 30 minutes prior to race start, peeked out of the window, & noted some good waves but terrible wind. Noticing that my surfing companion was still slumbering in his bed, I decided to wait & see what the next hour held before yelling, "Surf's up! Let's go!!"

The next hour held a typical pre-storm downpour. Rain. Winds. Rain & winds. The hotel continental breakfast had bagels, pastries, waffles, pancakes, cereal, juice, & fruit. Mike had frosted mini-wheats. Given the name of the cereal, I decide that it's not safe to grab a handful for munching. I had juice & fruit. (Life on the gluten-free/dairy-free diet is not easy, yo.)

Back at the hotel room, I downed the rest of my gluten-free granola & then went back to bed while Mike computed (as he does). Hours later, we meandered down to the boardwalk to see what the beach held. If the surf looked moderately possible, we'd try. If not, well..... more downtime. (This is why I brought 3 books & my lappy top.)

The surf, as well as the patrolling of Police, indicated that it was not especially safe for our surfing adventures. We hunkered down for a meal at a local Greek establishment where the waitress was shocked at my eating ability ("OH!! You ate the WHOLE THING?! Sorry... Most people say it is too much. It IS a half chicken.").

Now, we're back at the hotel, sitting on what would be our porch with our laptops, waiting for the surf to get good. That promises to be tomorrow - as our forecaster said it would be. Our surfboards are sitting in the hotel room looking expectant.

Like them, I can't wait.

9/05/2008

When life gives you lemons...

My Half Ironman is canceled. The Plan said that I would race Patriots & then I would assess if I would/could compete in Ironman Florida.

Now, that plan is out.

So, what am I going to do now?

I'm going surfing!! Catch ya later!

9/04/2008

Whirlwind & Imminent Rain.

Why is it that many of my life's events are punctuated with large storm systems?

My brother's birth & Hurricane Andrew. Driving through some off-the-coast TS's winds to visit Orlando. The Charley, Ivan, Jeanne debacle that forced my move to DC. Then, the move back to Orlando. Then, Wilma.

Knowing how to secure a house in an hour for an oncoming Hurricane. Knowing which Hurricane category to do it for. Cooking mac & cheese on the grill because we were still out of electricity. Not having electricity for weeks. Cold showers. No air conditioning. Being thankful that we had 3 days worth of water saved.

"Florida - Check, please!"

Now, Tropical Storm Hanna is going to rain on my Half Ironman. Seriously. SERIOUSLY! I live in Washington, DC - Not South Florida - Not Central Florida. Washington, DC!

If the winds pick up, it's going to be hard to ride a bike through a Tropical Storm. That drive through the TS's winds years & years ago? Most of the time, I found myself in another lane on I-95. That was in a car... Imagine that on a bike.

Theoretically, Hanna should be relatively tame when it hits Williamsburg. Hopefully, she won't even have a name by then.

I hope.

*****

Addendum:

One thing that my life as a Floridian has taught me - You never know what is going to happen with major storm systems. Whenever hurricanes/depressions/storms were approaching, we always watched & waited. We always had plenty of water, food, & sundries on hand throughout the summer & fall. Yet, we never barricaded the windows until the storm was about to hit land. It could, after all, be a waste of time, energy, & sometimes resources.

Consider Hurricane Charley. Category 1 the day before landfall. Heading towards Tampa. No worries. Who worries about a Cat 1 that's not even coming towards us? We'll get moderate winds & some light rain.

The day of landfall? Category 4 & hitting Punta Gorda with a beeline to Orlando. Destruction everywhere. Blue tarps instead of roofs for years. YEARS.

With hurricanes & tropical storms, you never know what's going to happen. You just watch & wait. Watch & wait.

********

Also, for those of you who don't know:

Tropical Storm (definition courtesy NOAA):
A tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind speed (using the U.S. 1-minute average) ranges from 34 kt (39 mph or 63 km/hr) to 63 kt (73 mph or 118 km/hr).

39mph to 73mph winds.

9/03/2008

Odds & ends.


  1. Voting is up for the Iron Cupcake challenge. Vote for me (or others) at http://mkecupcakequeen.blogspot.com/.

    Feel free to poke around on other contestants' blogs & check out their pictures as well. I was mighty impressed.

  2. Toenails & fingernails are trimmed for Half Ironman. I still have to pack.

  3. Yesterday, I accidentally had some gluten for lunch. Coincidentally, I feel crappy today, & I had a terrible 30-minute run yesterday. I feel like I have a weight on my chest that won't go away. I'm cooking all my food at home until the HIM.
    Please, please, please let this go away before the race.

  4. Tropical Storm Hanna is threatening to downpour on my HIM. Truthfully, I'd rather have rain on the run than towering inferno heat.

    Can't we have one good weather race this year?

  5. Also, I think I've finally chosen where to get my tattoo placed. 8 years of deliberation & I still want it. Thundercats are go!

8/30/2008

Let's call it a day.

After 8 hours of chopping vegetables, cooking, cleaning, & serving for Dave's party today, I finally got home at 8pm & am ready to go for my run. Except... that ain't in the stars for tonight.

As I was laying on my hardwood floor, I thought that I should rally to meet my non-athlete friends after my run. Or I should run & do yoga & then sleep. Or I should just do yoga.

During this deliberation, I drifted to sleep while curled up on my hardwood floor. I didn't wake up when my cats (both of them) decided to snuggle with me. (Shocking, I know!) I only rose when there was a sharp chill in the air, & then I wondered where my bedsheets were.

So much for hanging with the non-athletes. So much for my recovery run. So much for yoga. It's officially long nap time.

T-minus 6 days until the Half-Ironman.

8/25/2008

Taper week #1: Taking time to clean up my act.

With the extra time due to taper/recovery week, I decided to clean my closets. (Deep cleaning, after all, takes up a lot of time.) In cluttered closet #1, I found my old video camera. Usually, I slide the camera bag wherever it will fit in the closet & continue with my merry Cinderella ways.

This time, I plugged the camera into the wall & watched some of ye old footage. Videos of family, friends, concerts, art projects, & vacations. Everyone looks young, some people whose names I can barely recall.

Moving to DC was never an easy decision. It was a forced move the first time & still a little shaky on the 2nd (& permanent) move. Watching good times from 5 years ago (before my life went haywire) made me realize that my decisions were truly for the best. I do miss my old friends, but I don't miss my old life.

& How often can you say that in retrospect after a tumultuous time? Only after things have calmed down. & I think they finally have. I'm pretty happy here in DC - doing triathlons, being outside often, being employed at a good job, having great friends, & living in a metropolis.

Really, I should quote Kurt Vonnegut on this one:
"If this isn't nice, then I don't know what is."

It's almost race day, & I'm feeling great.

****

Also, I should thank Meredith for her swimming assistance on Tuesday. We did 2x1000m swims & worked on breast, fly, & back. Honestly, I was a little concerned about the Patriots swim. It might not be wetsuit legal, & I hadn't completed an uninterrupted 1000m swim in ages.

When Mer & I were done, my energy level was still soaring. It was quite the confidence booster. Though, my left arm is killing me from the fly work.

I want to continue working on strokes other than freestyle. The plan is to resurrect my breaststroke & see how viable it is for me to compete again. I did love racing breaststroke back when I was varsity.

****

Also, I'm watching Big Fatty try to climb into a shoe box. He looks unfazed that it doesn't seem to fit him.

8/19/2008

Patriots Half Ironman imminent!

In discussing my assignments for the next few weeks with my boss, it dawned on me that I should let him know that I plan on leaving early on September 5th for Patriots HIM. Then, I realized that September 5th is in 2 weeks.

Two weeks! 2 Weeks!

Mentally, I'm almost ready. Reminding myself of how well I feel physically is helping me become ready mentally.

Physically, everything has become much easier - especially now that I've integrated my strength training & speed work. On a slow day, I've estimated that it will take me about 7.25 hours to finish the Half. On a fast day, I could manage 6.5 hours. (Though, I highly doubt that I'll complete the Half in 6.5 hours.)

I'd be happy with anything below 8 hours. My only goals are to finish (#1) by the cutoff, (#2) happy, & (#3) uninjured. I'm willing to forgo #2 for #1.

Two more weeks.

***************************************

I'm in the planning stage of my next Tri-DC article. The topic? Deciding to do Ironman. It will be published in the Winter edition of Tri-DC.

If you haven't picked up a copy yet, I highly recommend it. It's a great magazine.

8/18/2008

IronCupcake Challenge - Chili Pepper cupcakes.

First, let me say that this challenge was a little tricky for me. Is there supposed to be a hole there?I wanted to make more "traditional" cupcakes, but I was incapable of tasting them due to the gluten & dairy issues that I've been having. My first batch contained a blend of gluten-free flour mix (sorghum, white rice, tapioca, xantham gum) that I courageously blended myself. Then, I threw in some eggs, reduced mango nectar (from a bottle), chipotle chili pepper, baking power & baking soda, sugar, coconut oil, & a lot of hope.

Those were the tastiest concave cupcakes ever. Very, very moist. Mildly spicy. Good coconut flavor. A little lacking in the mango department. Not the correct cupcake shape.

Batch #2 was created immediately after Batch #1. Batch #2 consisted of a slightly more flour to fat/fluid ratio & the traditional all-purpose flour. That dough was super sticky in comparison. (Go figure.) Batch #2 plumped up just as they should, but I couldn't taste them to find out their shortcomings.

I brought them to the only two groups of people that I know who will eat anything: coworkers & triathletes. The various responses that I received from the coworkers & triathletes were - "Freaking awesome", "Can't taste the mango as much", "Is that coconut?", "Where's the heat? .... Oh. There it is!", & "If I wasn't diabetic, I'd eat the whole thing & probably have another one."

Based upon simply looking at the cupcakes, they looked a little dense. So, I altered the flour amount again. This time, I wasn't able to create two batches of celiac cupcakes & "normal" cupcakes. I wanted to taste them & make sure they had more mango punch & enough heat.

Last night, I finished the recipe. Here it is:

Mango spice cupcakes.

1 mango
2 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup sugar
2 1/4 cup Gluten-free flour mix (I used Whole Foods baking mix)
2 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 - 1 tsp dried chipotle pepper (I used McCormick's - readily available)
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Peel & chop mango into manageable chunks. I pureed mine, but chunks would be very, very nice.
3. In a large bowl, add sugar into coconut oil. Whip together.
4. Beat eggs in a small bowl. Add to sugar mixture slowly & mix well.
5. In a medium-sized separate bowl, combine the rest of dry ingredients.
6. Slowly add dry ingredients to sugar mixture. Fold in mango.
7. Place 1/4 - 1/2 cup of batter into cupcake tins, & bake in oven for 20-30 minutes. Yields 12-14 cupcakes.

These cupcakes are little dense - as most gluten-free baked goods are. They're not gluten-free rice bread dense. More like a mix between a muffin & a cupcake density. If you choose to use all-purpose flour, they should have a lighter more cupcake-like density.

Key lime icing.

2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter substitute (or butter)
1 tablespoon key lime juice
1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder (optional)
food coloring of choice (optional)

1. With an electric mixer, beat butter with sugar.
2. Add key lime juice.
3. If icing is too thick/dry, add a smidge of water. (Don't overpower the icing by adding more lime juice. It will overwhelm the cupcakes.)
4. Add chili powder & food coloring, if desired.
5. Place in piping bags/pastry gun/small bowl & refrigerate to allow it to thicken.
6. Decorate cupcakes when they are cooled.

I felt that these cupcakes didn't need much icing. Therefore, the above icing recipe was enough for me to frost all 12-14 cupcakes. In the pictures, I used more icing than I thought was needed when I bit into the cupcake. Also, I'm not a huge fan of buttercream, but adding more Earth Balance would allow the icing to be thicker. A lot of people seem to like that too. It's all a question of taste!


Scene of the crime:


Attentive audience:


Finished product:


*******************************************


In theory, I'm competing to win the following prizes (but like triathlon - I just love to compete & love the challenge. Aren't cupcakes their own reward?):
Etsy artist CAKESPY gear
A Jessie Steele apron
Cupcake Courier
Taste of home

8/12/2008

A Better Push-up.

When I saw the words "A Better Push-up" as a subject in a recent email from Victoria's Secret, I immediately thought, "Get down on the floor & give me 20!!"

Which is not exactly what the marketing gurus at Victoria's Secret were going for.

Why do I bring this up? Well, someone forwarded the 100 push-up challenge to me a while ago. The concept intrigued me (as did couch-to-5k once upon a time). Here is the concept, briefly:

  • You do an initial test of how many push-ups you can accomplish in good form without rest.
  • Based upon your results of the initial test, you select which track that you wish to follow for the 100 push-up challenge.
  • For 6 weeks (or longer), you build the number of push-ups that you are capable of doing.
  • At the end of the program, you complete (or attempt to complete) 100 push-ups.

    Since I've learned about the 100 push-up challenge, I've had it on my list of things to accomplish. I was going to wait until after the Half Ironman....

    but....

    the Olympics are on...

    & they're so inspiring...

    So, I started the 100 push-up challenge yesterday. I really only want to complete 20-30 consecutive push-ups before the Half Ironman. Last night, I completed 11 man push-ups, which were comprised of 3-sets of 2 push-ups & a final set of 5 push-ups. Not bad!!
  • 8/07/2008

    Off-topic: Iron Cupcake

    I've taken on the Iron Cupcake challenge. Think of it as more Iron Chef & less IronMan. :)



    First order of business? Create an original cupcake recipe using this month's ingredient: chili peppers.

    8/05/2008

    IM Florida.

    I just volunteered for Ironman Florida.

    Patriots Half Ironman - 4.5 weeks away. The plans - they are being actualized.


    Oh.
    My.

    8/02/2008

    Family Circus run.

    Today, I decided it was time to start running in the morning again. All the GI issues appear to be resolved since I've purged my body of gluten. So, off we went - me, my new nutritional strategy around my waist, my tunes, & my heart rate monitor - to run through the city for 2 hours.

    With the freedom to run anywhere & needing to be away from the lure of home for two hours, I ran the only way that I truly enjoy running: When the walk signal says go, I go. When it doesn't, I turn & run the other way.

    The only problem with Family Circus Running is that the walk signals might lead me in the direction of home prematurely. Then the temptation to actually go home is, well, tempting. I've become fairly good at knowing how long it will take me to get home from practically anywhere in the city. So, when I found myself running up 15th Ave halfway through the run, I had to make an abrupt U-turn.

    (I know a lot of runners appreciate the "out & back" or trail running or parkways or running uphill on Massachusetts Ave, but seriously I can't do that all the time every time.)

    On today's Family Circus(tm) run, I experienced/saw:

    1. An urban music experiment, which I had to hit every pole for the sound.
    2. A bum throwing trash at another bum.
    3. A herd of geese flying off a wall in sequence.
    4. A group of Asian students listening to a classmate recite the "I Have A Dream" speech, which I slowed down to listen to.


    It was a good run. Full 2 hours of running with free waterbottle filling stops throughout the city & all my fuel on me. By George, I think we've got it! :)

    ************************

    Although Perpeteum tastes like batter, it does not make for a good gluten-free pancake mix. Trust me. Don't bother adding an egg & baking powder to it. It won't work.

    ************************

    Also, an addendum to the Belgium post: In the end, I didn't take the position because I wasn't qualified for it. Though, I am unsure how I'd swing the cat thing for 3 months anyways. & I do really need to hit the Patriots Half.

    7/31/2008

    I can't believe what won.

    My boss offered me a position in "Europe" - he wouldn't say where. However, I'd have to go now, I'd have to say that I knew a specific programming language, & I'd have to stay for at least 3 months.

    Where in Europe? He wouldn't tell me.

    My boss knows me. He is one of the few people at my company who knows my athletic ambitions & how much I train. He knew that I'd decline because of the Half Ironman. He knew that I also might be swayed - Hence, the offer.

    Given my training & life plan for the next 15 months, I opted out. 1) I can't go now - the Half Ironman is in 6 weeks. Finishing it is integral to my plan. 2) I don't know that programming language. (Though, I hear it's easy to learn.) 3) 3 months?! Could I find someone to adopt Fat Cat & Doctor Claw for 3 months? Would they ship my bike (& possibly the two cats) with me?

    Too problematic, we decided.

    Then, I found out that he wanted to send me to the Land Of Chocolate & Excellent Beers.

    Beer. And. Chocolate.

    Let me say that again:
    Beer.
    Chocolate.

    I've opted out of other worldwide adventures because of poor timing or inability to find replacement caretakers for furrballs. This one has me a little more irritated than the others.

    Beer & chocolate versus biking & swimming (& sometimes running). Triathlon won. I can't believe it. I know I wasn't a good fit for the project, & I do love triathlon. However, it did shake my resolve to do Ironman next year.

    *************************

    Also, I should add that I've been gluten-free for 6 weeks now. It's gotten much easier. I know how to navigate a menu well, discuss options with the wait staff, & how to change recipes (more or less) for being gluten-free.

    So, the Belgian beer? It's not on the menu yet (if ever). I miss you, Belgian beer.

    7/29/2008

    My Momma done told me...

    When I have any sort of medical question/concern or need advice, I hit up my Mom. (She's the medic in the family.)

    When racing Lake Anna '07 when the water temperature was 56 degrees, I asked her if she thought it was safe for me to swim in the frigid water. (I didn't know, & I was worried.) I thought she would "baby" me. I am, after all, her youngest daughter.

    You know what she told me? She said, "You'll never know if you can handle it unless you do it. This is the perfect opportunity to try. Just do it."

    Words of wisdom from the woman who used to tell me, "It's just gas. Get your butt to school." (By the way, it was.)

    (Lake Anna '07 turned out to be my best swim time thus far. A 2:11 split. Not bad at all.)

    She's been extremely helpful in my training - always level-headed & always fair. When I was miserable that I couldn't race the entire Half Ironman (Mooseman) due to injury, she reminded me that it was only last year that I struggled to run 3 miles. & I was upset that I couldn't race a Half Ironman? "Do what you can & be satisfied that you've come so far already" was her message.

    Tonight, I called her to say that I jammed my finger in the lane line at swimming. (There's a first time for everything. Shocking - considering that I have swam for a total of 7-8 years now.) I can bend my finger, but it is extremely painful when I touch it.

    Damn. I need medical advice. So, I called Dial-A-Nurse/Mom. Her advice? "You know what to do. Elevation, ice, ibuprofen." Sure. I can do that. Wait, quick question. "Can I take my Advil with a [Gluten-free] beer?"

    Mom's response? "....... Sure! You're not going anywhere tonight." God, I love that woman more & more every day.

    7/25/2008

    A fool & her money.

    Finally pay day arrived, & I registered for the Patriots Half today.

    1.2 miles of lovely swimming.
    56 miles of non-stop spinning on the bike.
    1 mile of discombobulated running.
    12.1 miles of run/walk on a pancake flat course.

    Coach, put me in! I'm ready.

    7/22/2008

    The sun will come out.... tomorrow.

    From a spectator perspective, Ironman weekend was grueling & enlightening. I lack the words to describe the whirlwind events of the weekend. I am going to try.

    Friday:
    Lake Placid is a gorgeous place. After 9 hours in the car, you would think that the first thing on my mind would be getting out of the damn car. Instead, I offered to drive Victoria through Lake Placid Main Street. She hadn't been to LP before, & it is quite a treat to see Mirror Lake from the top of the hill near the stone church.

    The drive on Main Street was anything but relaxing. It was still beautiful, but it was extremely crowded. Part of the reason why I like Lake Placid are its rural setting & small community.

    After I dropped off Victoria at the KOA, I drove along the IMUSA bike route to my rental house & met up with my housemates. After unpacking, I mentioned that I brought the goods to make brownies to Kerri. The look in her eyes was part crazed & part gratitude. Given that she fixed my hip & has been helping me keep it strong, I took a ride with Matty to get eggs & faux butter & started brownie-making. (mmmmm.... gluten- & dairy-free brownies.) They were gone in record time.

    Saturday:
    1.2 mile swim in Mirror Lake was fantastic. I felt a little congested about half-way through, but I trudged onwards. I finished the 1.2 in about 50 minutes without my wetsuit & while doing a lot of slow do-I-really-want-to-do-1.2-miles breaststroke. That's not so bad.

    Hanging out with non-IM folks (how relaxing!!). Dinner & slideshow with the team. Grocery running for the house & now frantic Ironman athletes.

    Sunday:
    3am wake-up. Considering there was no grill until 6pm, I brought all the food that I'd need for the day to the Team Z tent. Victoria & I purchased chalk at Stewarts & started chalking the course. We wrote everyone's names, & every one was a little different. It was awesome!! (Though, I managed to misspell Michael, Stacy, & Behnke.)

    We scuttled over to Mirror Lake to watch the mass start, & it started sprinkling a little. Then, it officially started raining. Victoria & I went back to the chalk site with a camera, but it was already gone. So, we meandered over to the first big incline on the bike start & cheered in the rain.

    Having forgotten my umbrella in the car, I was soaked through. After two hours in the rain, I was shaking uncontrollably, & my fingers were purple. Victoria & I went to my car, nabbed the umbrella, went to the Olympic Center, squeezed the excess water out of our clothes, & got really, really, really cozy with a heat lamp that we found.

    Then, we bought "Lake Placid" clothes next door. I love my new $23 fleece pants & $much-more hooded sweatshirt. Those kept me warm all day.

    We caught up with Dan who offered to take us along the bike course while he took pictures of our team. Finally having gotten warm & dry, I couldn't keep my eyes open in the car. I napped for four (4!!!) hours while they took pictures. Then, we went back to Dan's house, threw our clothes in the dryer, & snacked.

    Sometime around 5pm or 6pm, it finally stopped raining. Endurance raining at an endurance event... funny.

    Once back at the Team Z tent, I grabbed Behnke's "Special Friend" ticket & trounced on over to get her bike & gear out of transition. That took much longer than I anticipated - maybe an hour?! I was late getting to the Finish Line for my volunteer event.

    Around 830, I finally made it to the Finish Line to "catch" people completing their Ironman. We weren't given any instructions - Jana, Priscilla, & I made up our own rules. We asked important questions like "What's your name?", "How was your race?", "Do you want me to take you to food/medical?", "What size shirt do you want?" while wrapping the athletes like Mylar burritos. I only escorted Frank all the way to food (but that was more because he is my friend), & everyone else said they were okay (*cough*Liars*cough*).

    Also, I got a front-row seat to Durst's proposal to Meredith just after he crossed the finish line. Woop-woop. They were so cute.

    We had a ball at the Finish Line & standing in ~4-inches of water. Everyone who came through seemed a little squirrelly, exhausted, or completely normal. It was exhilarating to meet a bunch of friends at the end of Ironman. Hugs for everyone!!

    Best job ever. (& no one vomited or collapsed on me either. I kept my trashbag/Iron-poncho on just in case.)

    At 2am, I got home & peeled off my new clothes, made eggs for myself, John, & Kerri, showered, & hit the hay.

    Monday:
    I got up around 8am (or earlier), packed my stuff, listened to Ironman athlete stories, picked up Jenni, picked up Victoria's bike, picked up Victoria, & hit the road. Enroute, we said, "Look at this beautiful weather! This is bullshit!!! Let's get out of here." Ensue laughter.

    9 hours later, we arrived in Arlington a little friendlier, a little smellier (if possible), & with big-ass happy-to-be-home grins on our faces.

    ***********************************************

    Of all the places to do Ironman, Lake Placid is top on my list. However, I opted to not reserve myself a spot with my volunteer t-shirt. After seeing an actual Ironman & the pain that they go through, my resolve was a little shaken.

    On a perfect day, Placid would be awesome & very difficult. The scenery is gorgeous & never stops being breathtaking. I love Lake Placid immensely, & I want to do IMUSA.

    However, I know that I'm not ready. In theory, I "could" be ready in a year, but I've never completed a Half Ironman. I want to train for & complete one as a litmus test before signing up for Ironman. Mentally & physically, I'll be better prepared once I do that.

    Lake Placid will be there. The race isn't going anywhere. I want to be prepared when I face those hills.

    I'm sticking to the plan:
    1. Train for & finish Patriots Half Ironman (a flat course) in September.
    2. Feel good/not terribly broken.
    3. Sign up for Ironman Florida (a flat course) in November for 11/2009.

    That's the plan. I'm sticking to it.

    7/15/2008

    Help.... I've been glutened.

    3 weeks without gluten. 3 weeks! I feel great! I have so much energy! Well... had. I had so much energy.

    I've been trying to eat at restaurants lately, & I've found them either very accommodating or not at all. Basically, the waiter & kitchen staff try their damnedest. More often than not, I end up with some sort of contaminant. Mostly, it's extremely mild & passes quickly.

    Today, it was not. They may as well have fed me a bowl of pasta with an alfredo sauce. Of all the things to be contaminated, I would NOT have chosen tortilla chips or a corn tortilla. I would've probably eaten one of those doughnut holes that Leila brought over last night. (Mmmm... Forbidden doughnut.)

    Bastards. I feel like poo.

    On that note, I need to make more meals at home. I don't know how I'd do this without good culinary skills.

    **************************************

    I should note that I fit into a size 6 at Banana Republic today.

    Sweet.

    7/13/2008

    Falling through your clothes.

    Friend Johta Ce had his 31st birthday party on Saturday. I was 1.5 hours later than I expected because I couldn't find anything to wear. Though not in the "girl" sense... more in the "none of my clothes fit anymore - seriously" sense. I can pull most of my pants & skirts out by 3 inches or more now.

    I had to wear a dress that I bought for my 25th birthday - all it has to fit is my boobs, & we're set. It was a little big around the waist, but I got away with it.

    My sister Kathy told me that the pounds would drip off me when I stopped putting my allergens into my system, but I wasn't expecting it to really happen.


    *****
    (Mom - Avert your eyes until next section.)

    Also, playing flipcup with a mix of rum & water is not a good idea. It may be a gluten-free option, but kids, don't try it at home.

    *****

    In other news, I rode to & around Hains Point tonight. I'm faster than I used to be. & I'm starting to get comfortable in my aero bars. (Previously, I called the aero bars my $200 bottle holder because that's all they were.) I haven't gone aero on my long rides yet. Very soon.

    7/09/2008

    & Now, Pictures.

    So, take a good, long look at the picture on the left. It's my one trophy for placing in triathlon (General Smallwood '07 - 2nd place Athena). It will probably also be my last.

    "Why is that?" you ask. Because, darlin', I have to race age group from now onwards. My weight has dropped below 150.

    It's taken me 2-3 years to drop what I amounted in 1.5 years of very bad eating, being overworked, going through a very messy breakup, temporarily moving to DC, returning to Florida, moving permanently back to DC, & drinking like the Irish (Guinness & lots of them).

    Dude, I had never been that big. Ever. Now that I've lost 18-20 pounds, I surely never want to regain it.

    I have pictorial evidence of my feet on the scale (for any non-believers). However, no one wants to see runner's toes. I need to paint those suckers if only to pretend that they're normal.

    So... no more trophies, but I should become much faster now. :) I'm cool with that.


    *******************************************


    Also, 3 friends of mine & I completed the first annual Run Amuck race at Quantico MCB. Mud pits, faux barb wire crawls, really huge hills, & water hazards - it was totally awesome. I really appreciated the fire hose for washing off afterwards.

    It was non-stop joking & giggling from some ungodly hour onwards. Good times.



    Ladies who Run Amuck. We're a 4-pack of trouble.
    Seriously.Posing with my well-earned finisher's coin.

    The end.

    Expect another post tomorrow if I don't have a new project at work.

    7/08/2008

    Cyclist killed 4 blocks from my apartment.

    This morning, the yellow caution tape kept me from taking my normal route to the Metro. The police had blocked off Connecticut & R St NW. Perhaps something with Anonymous? They're out there protesting all the time in front of the Scientology building.

    When I arrived at work, I got a message from my friend & neighbor Jeff that reads, "good you're online". Why the worry?

    A female cyclist was struck by a garbage truck 4 blocks from my apartment. WaPo informs us the only details released thus far, which is that they were on R St NW & 20th St NW. That's actually an intersection of 20th St NW, R St NW, & Connecticut Ave NW. There's a lot of activity always going on there.

    From an ABC News report, it comes out that the truck & the cyclist were riding in parallel with each other on R St NW. The cyclist was on the sidewalk. The light turned green, & the crosswalk light said "Walk". The cyclist rode into the crosswalk, & the truck turned right & turned into the cyclist.

    I walk this route every day. There are many cyclists & commuters on bikes in my 'hood. Most of them ride in the street. This isn't a novelty. The garbage truck drivers? Most of them are extremely aware of their surroundings. In fact, we wave to each other every day.

    As a cyclist, I would like to note that there is a bike lane on R St NW. Legally, she should have been in the bike lane (or the road). It may seem "safer" on the sidewalk, but it is actually safer for you to ride in the road. Trust me. It's safer to ride in the road. Especially in the city where there's a lot of activity on the sidewalks & on the road, it's safer in the road &/or bike lane.

    The driver should have checked the sidewalks & crosswalks for oncoming traffic. As a city driver, you have to be hyper aware of the activities around you. This isn't the suburbs where you can watch for pedestrians or balls crossing the street every 10-15 minutes. It's constant vigilance that is required. He obviously missed her approach. She obviously didn't think he was going to run into her.

    It was a horrible accident. I feel for her family, & I feel for the driver & his family.

    ***********************************

    Cyclists & drivers, please keep aware of your surroundings. Never, ever assume anything.

    Drivers, the cyclists aren't there to ruin your day nor are they trying to make you late. Keep patient. An opportunity to pass will come.

    Cyclists, the 2000-lb steel car always wins.


    For more information, please see:
    http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0708/534131.html
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/08/AR2008070800975.html

    For cyclist awareness, please do the test:
    http://www.dothetest.co.uk/

    7/07/2008

    A curious turn of events.

    Not exactly triathlon related, but bear with me...

    On Sunday night, I checked my mail (finally) & found the following waiting for me: one copy of Tri-DC, one copy of Runner's World, & one copy of Outside, 2 postcards reminding me of my annual summer trips to doctors' offices.

    Outside's cover was touting that this was their "2008 Where to Live Now" issue. Throwing my invisible dice in the air, I played the gambling game. You know the one.

    As I climbed my stairs with my Cannondale, my mail (which slipped a few times), & my gear, I threw my weight behind my gamble. If it says what I think it'll say, I'll work harder for the move option. After all, it's Outside - how could it not list this extremely Outside town? Hell, how could it not list the entire state?

    This wasn't as flippant as you are thinking. You see - I made a deal with myself in December/January. 2008 would be my last year in DC if I couldn't make it work. It's not easy living here. Everyone is extremely busy/preoccupied, it's expensive, & it's hard to date/make a good connection.

    But you know me. I don't just give up. Giving up is for sissies. Plus, I could move & have the same damn issues in two years. It is classic mea culpa. Things don't change on their own. You have to institute change. You can't expect to become a better athlete by sitting on your heinie & wishing that it would happen. You have to get up & work on it. You can't move & expect it to solve all of your problems.

    I got off my duff, & I started finding reason to love Washington, DC. If I was going to leave, I need to know exactly what the hell I was leaving behind. No grass is greener mentality without looking at both the positives & the negatives.

    Since the decision & my corresponding personal call-to-arms, I've been much more invested here, & I am nearly falling in love with my city. I still get a mite downtrodden by city life, dating, Dupont parking nonsense, & a little homesick for my family. I do love it here, though. Seriously.

    So, why did I throw my choice to glossy pages stuck together with crappy glue if I like it so much? Because I am a little bit crazy - but you knew that (*cough*triathlon*cough*). Also, I figured that this was the last effort in the "leave option". DC is quickly becoming my home - my very expensive, very odd, & sometimes very frustrating home. Plus, I was pining for my family when I opened my mailbox. & then I had to climb my goddamn 3 flights of stairs with my bike, gear, & mail. Ugh.

    Go figure - I felt like moving.

    After I placed my Cannondale back in its spot & I petted the cats, I sat down for a little glance through my new fate-decider. At first, I couldn't find the damn article. Then, there it was. Places 1-10 highlighted, & alternates boxed. I nearly dropped the magazine when I read the list.

    Nowhere. No. Where. Did it mention where I thought. The state wasn't even listed. You wanna know what was Number 1 on Places to Live? Washington Motherfucking DC.

    Washington, DC.

    Well. Now don't that beat all? If ever there was a sign...

    7/05/2008

    Longest 4th of July Ever.

    This 4th of July, I had a great plan for my escapades. First, I'd hang with the triathletes in Arlington. When 9 o'clock came around, I would jet over to the city & hang with non-athletes. After all, triathletes don't party toooooo late. The party would be ripe for leaving shortly after sundown.

    Oh, how I underestimated them.

    After an all-night marathon of Tour de France & a jaunt to Bob & Edith's (first time!), everyone crashed around 5am. I was up around 7 when Al the cat decided to make friends by whapping his tail in my face.

    Needless to say, I missed my run on Saturday. Napping took priority. Sunday's bike ride was difficult too - Though, I think that has more to do with my nutrition.

    Speaking of which, the gluten-free & dairy-free thing? It's as tough as gluten- & dairy-free bread. I accidentally glutened myself tonight with some Meyer Lemon sorbet. Wooo... headache & belly bloat.

    Otherwise, I'm doing pretty well. I've never felt better, but I definitely need more energy. I've been seeing a nutritionist for this. I hope that we figure it soon.

    *******

    Shameless promotion: The latest issue of Tri-DC is out on the shelves. Pick a copy up.

    7/01/2008

    Did I dream it?

    This morning, I must have not been firmly planted on the scale. It read 149.8. When I ran to get the camera, my next two hefty climbs onto the scale read 150.4.

    At that point, I yelled at my glass weighing robot. What a tease. I haven't seen the 140s since I (temporarily) moved to Washington, DC in 2004/2005, & I worked incredible amounts of overtime & ate crap for 9 months.

    140s - you are so close. So close.

    Once I officially & consistently break the 150 barrier, I can no longer race Athena. That means - no more placing in races.

    I can live with that. Totally.

    6/27/2008

    Poor, unsuspecting parents.

    My triathlon team chose 2 Ironman races for next year - IMUSA & IM Florida. IMUSA is in July, which would be difficult for me to accomplish next year. IM Florida is in November, & it's a 9-hour drive from my parents' house. Also, friend Meredith is racing it.

    I am highly tempted to sign up. First & foremost, I have to ensure that my hip will not cause repeat problems. Secondly, I need to iron out my nutrition for on & off the training grounds. This little food allergy nonsense has to be understood. Thirdly, I have to race the Patriots Half-Ironman to ensure that I feel comfortable with completing an entirely flat course.

    All that being said, I've already broken the news to the 'rents. This is how they took it:

    Me: Dad, what do you think about Panama City Beach, Florida?
    Dad (very suspiciously): What do you mean "what do you think about Panama City Beach, Florida"?
    Me: Well, 'insert-text-about-racing-Ironman-without-mentioning-distances'.
    Dad: Oh! That'd be great. We'd all go up there to see you.
    Me (relieved but uncertain that he understood): You know I mean the Ironman, right?
    Dad: Not the Half?
    Me: No, the Full.
    Dad: .............................................................................. Oh. .......................... You be careful, alright?


    Now, Mom's visiting her Mom. So, I got to hit them up separately. None of this "MARY! Keri's acting crazy again!!" Divide & conquer, my friends. Divide & conquer.


    Me: Hey, Mom. The team chose the 2009 Ironman races for next year. We're doing Ironman Florida in November.
    Mom: Florida? Where?
    Me: Panama City Beach. Near Pensacola.
    Mom: Oh! That's near where your father's thing is at. In November? First week?
    Me: I think so.
    Mom: That's my wedding anniversary.
    Me: How would you like a nice, beach vacation in Panama City Beach for your anniversary?
    Mom (laughing): Maybe. Let me talk to your father about it. (& change of topic)

    No idea that the term used was "Ironman". I'll win 'em over eventually.

    ***********************************

    Also, update on the allergy status: I feel great when I'm gluten & dairy free. 39 skin pricks later & one blood draw, there are no real results. Will post when known.

    6/19/2008

    Oh, ghee.

    I've been restricting my dairy & gluten intake as I had an inkling that I had both allergies since Lake Placid training camp. This week alone (& keep in mind that it's only Thursday), I've dropped 4-5 pounds.

    My sister told me last night that the pounds just dripped off her when she eliminated the allergens from her diet. So did friend Annette. Still, I didn't expect it to be so quick - I'm not even 100% gluten-free yet!!

    Also, my sister told me to give up the cereal & crackers regardless of what they're made of. Why eliminate them, you ask? Well, there was a medical study done where 3 sets of mice were given nothing to eat, cereal, & cardboard. The order of their deaths were: nothing, cereal, & cardboard. The cardboard-eating mice lasted a lot longer than the others.

    My response was to eat a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios audibly while on the telephone. One day, I'll give it up 0r transfer my cereal love to granola (or something healthier). Just not while I have a box of HNC, two PB Puffins, & one Rice Krispies in the house.

    Another tidbit that Kat imparted was that ghee (clarified butter) is probably okay for me to eat regardless of my allergy. & all this time, I only thought that "ghee" was good for Indian cooking, baking, & as a Scrabble word.

    Welcome back, butter. :)

    6/18/2008

    Put your money where your mouth is (Part 1).

    I had my first appointment with Rebecca Mohning today. As a first one-on-one meeting, I felt very comfortable explaining a lot of my nutritional problems. First, it's become quite apparent that I have a dairy allergy. That's a little different from a lactose allergy. I can't even drink Lactaid or eat yogurt.

    Dairy, you're outta here! Goodbye, delicious Greek yogurt! Goodbye, feta cheese! Goodbye, Swiss cheese!! Goodbye, hunks of Parmesan on which to nibble!! (Butter, I want you to stay just a little bit.)

    :(

    If that wasn't heartwrenching enough, I had to bid adieu to all wheat & gluten products as well. I just finished my last baguette. It was nearly rock hard, but I ate every crumb. Here start the goodbyes.

    Goodbye, fresh breads from the market! Goodbye, most oatmeals! Goodbye, normal soy sauce! Goodbye, pasta! *sniff* Goodbye, sandwiches!! Goodbye, most protein bars!! Goodbye, most cereals!! Goodbye, bagels!! Goodbye, croissants, muffins, delicious scones, & pastries!! Chocolate muffin with chocolate chunks, you will be reincarnated in a non-gluten form - I KNOW IT!

    (If you see me looking forlorn in the baked goods section, you know why.)

    OH! DAMN. Goodbye, most beers. & :( Goodbye, hefeweizen. :(

    I know you'll think that I'm being melodramatic, but I really feel like I might cry now. Now, I have to figure out how to cook/bake my favorite items without any gluten. At least, I enjoy a good challenge.

    On the bright side, I made a lovely gluten-free chicken salad last night. Here's the recipe:

    Fruit & vegetable chicken salad
    1 English cucumber (or two Kirby cucumbers)
    2 avocados
    a helluva lot of chicken - I used 1 breast, thigh, leg
    1 mango
    a bunch of fresh cilantro
    (lime)
    salt & pepper

    I recommend chopping the chicken first to see if you have enough to satisfy all those non-meat items. Also, a squeeze of lime over it might be nice. It's the only thing I thought was lacking.

    Chop & enjoy. Without baguette. *sniff*

    6/15/2008

    Mooseman race report - Picture version

    Here is a revision of my race report - picture book style:


    GO GO GO!!!


    Then, I saw a big fish or rock or something. Then, I totally :

    When I finished the swim, I was so happy. That's not me in the foreground. Look closer. Oh... I'm there alright waving to a few Zrs on the sidelines.


    Still very excited, obviously. I have Muppet mouth!!


    Pflugie takes over on the bike. He's very focused.


    Pflugie still being very focused on the bike.



    Pflugie hops off the bike, & I take over on the run - I'm so excited, but I'm still slow.
    Still happy - About mile 3, I believe.

    Mile 11 or so. This is my focused picture. I swear I was smiling 3 seconds ago.


    It was hot. Unbelievably hot. I feel like this:


    Oh, hey. I finished. It's return of the smile! But apparently, I left my butt behind on the course somewhere. Don't fret, though. Someone returned it to me.



    The end.

    Thanks for scrolling by!!!

    6/12/2008

    Mooseman race report.

    So what happened to me at Mooseman?

    1.2 mile Swim: 42:48

    I had trouble sighting during this swim. I zigzagged a little, & I panicked when I saw something large & pale near the channel. I had thought it was a very large fish or something else amphibious. As I hail from Florida, seeing a large something that might live in the lake made me HUGELY uncomfortable. I pretended that it was someone swimming without a wet suit & zigzagged back into the middle of my swim wave (which made me feel more "safe"). I also tried to pick up the pace - I did not be the last niblet of swimmer in my wave - lest whatever it was felt like chomping on toes.

    At the end of the swim, my neck hurt a little as I was favoring my strong side. I decided to change it up to weakside breathing. If I thought I zigzagged before, it was nothing like what I did after I changed my breathing side.

    All in all, I was happy with my swim. It was the perfect distance. I felt that I could've gone faster, but I was saving myself for the run.

    56-mile Bike: Pflugie did the bike leg of the HIM. He did a great job & came in at 2:59. I took a nap. :)

    13.1 mile Run: 3:10:22

    Snicker all you want at my time - It was "towering inferno hot" as Tim said. My average pace was 14:32, which is only 2:32 over my average run pace. That's not too shabby for over 90-degree heat & completing my first half marathon.

    On the first loop, I was just happy to be out there. My heart rate rose with the temperature. Even though I felt like I wasn't pushing it after a few miles, I started walking to lower my heart rate. I had never ran longer than 10 miles, & I wasn't sure how the heat, hills, & distance would affect me. Better to play it safe on the first loop...

    I met someone on the run who gave me some interesting advice regarding keeping cool. Blake said that I should drip the icy water from the sponges around my waist to keep my lower half cool. That worked like a charm - even more so than dripping water on my head or putting ice in my sports bra. Whenever I followed Blake's advice, my heart rate dropped from Zone 4 to Zone 1 - A full 30-40 beats.

    Despite the heat, I really enjoyed myself on the run. I ran when I could, & I cheered at every opportunity. I kept to my nutrition strategy - double mixed HEED in my fuel belt, 3 endurolytes per hour (or as needed), & water at every water stop. (I even managed to urinate near mile 9 - good sign.) I nabbed a few orange slices & half an Oreo after I finished the first loop, but they caused my stomach to sieze. I didn't allow myself any more food on the run after that.

    I kept fairly cheerful during the entire race, but nothing compared to hearing the Team Z horns being blown near the finish line by Leslie & Es. (Thanks, gals, for being out there.) I knew I was going to make it, & I was so happy to hear them. I actually yelled to an anonymous spectator, "I'm going to FINISH!!"


    **********************

    Mooseman was my "A" race for the year. Now that it's behind me, I have the rest of the summer to focus on my weaknesses. Perhaps in a few months, I'll decide to race the Patriots Half Ironman in its entirety. We'll see how strong I can become in the next month or two.

    6/05/2008

    Pre-Mooseman endurance race.

    I don't know what I was smoking when I decided to visit my grandmother before Mooseman. Visiting my grandmother isn't the issue. It's the last time that I visited her that is causing the problem.

    What happened, you ask?

    Well, it was over 5 years ago... for a wedding... where she & everyone else do not remember my presence at.

    So, I had to visit the entire family in the Boston area. & this is the Greek side of the family. Have you seen My Big, Fat Greek Wedding? Seriously. SERIOUSLY! I don't even know all of my cousins.

    I'm exhausted. & everyone wants to talk politics because I live in DC (proper). When we don't talk politics, they tell me family gossip. Minus the sleeping, I've gotten about 19-hours of it.

    I feel like I've gotten my quota of family news & world events. Time for another endurance event. I think I can handle the Half Ironman better than all of this food, family, & chatting.

    P.S. I got one "please give her some baklava. Look at the size of her!!" Feels good.

    *********

    Side note:

    My boss just wished me well for the race & said that he hopes I get a t-shirt.

    A race t-shirt.

    For a Half Ironman.

    :) That's funny.

    6/01/2008

    Always a triathlete, never the runner.

    I am not a runner. Don't get me wrong - I run the last portion of my triathlon. Yet, I would never categorize myself as a runner...

    ...which makes it difficult to explain that long red line of irritation on my inner thighs & the growing collection of running t-shirts.

    *sigh* Okay, okay, okay. Maybe it's just time that I finally bite the bullet. The evidence speaks against me. Yes, I have a fuel belt. Yes, I get chafing. Yes, I can run for 2 hours.

    Some of you can walk faster than me, but that's okay. One day, I will be faster. One day, I won't dread the run portion of the triathlon.

    Until then, how about we make a deal? Let's pretend I'm a runner, & we'll see how much positive thinking will make it happen.

    5/30/2008

    Being neighborly.

    I missed biking at Hains Point last night to watch a movie with a friend. To ensure that I wouldn't be late, I decided to complete my speed work on my cycling trainer. The only problem is that my trainer & climbing block were in the trunk of my car which was parked a block away.

    I nabbed my trainer, block, & Manu's foam roller out of the trunk. Quickly, I realized that I only brought 2 arms with me that day, & I didn't have enough to carry my work bag, purse, & the items from my car.

    Call me stubborn, but I was not leaving anything behind.

    So, I slowly made my way through the alleyway nearer to my apartment. I stopped to chat with Carl, my neighbor who sits on his porch & watches the working folk come home from work. (This is a daily occurrence if I come home on time. I like Carl. Plus, he seems to know everyone in the neighborhood.) He felt obligated to take my trainer from me & carry it to my apartment building.

    I'd like to take this moment to say: Carl has a handicapped license plate on his car & is probably 60-something years old.

    Allowing Carl to carry my trainer to my apartment was difficult for me, but he insisted. Then, he told me matter-of-factly that I was not to take it from him until I put everything else in my apartment. After all, I did not have enough arms for it all. I followed his advice, & he bid me a good night & walked back to his porch.

    He's such a lovely man.

    I hope his arms don't hurt today. That trainer is HEAVY!

    5/26/2008

    Mistake Whiteface Mountain

    Because it didn't seem to fit with the last blog post, I decided to make the Whiteface Mountain story into its own post.

    What, praytell, happened that caused me to climb Whiteface Mountain?

    Well, as I said in the previous post, I had changed my nutrition strategy & was hurting a little bit because of that. Basically, I didn't have enough calories during the bike thus far. I probably also needed more electrolytes as well.

    So, I wasn't feeling well when I pulled into our Mobil station rest stop. I talked with Ed about being sagged because my hip was hurting. He stated that I should drop the out & back to continue on the main drag until my hip decided it was time to call it quits. I agreed with this plan, & I started again without my riding buddies. (They were doing the out & back.)

    I pushed forward to the stop sign where I was supposed to turn left. There was traffic. I got a little distracted & pushed forward. Onward, I pushed up Whiteface Mountain. When the incline started to make me feel uncomfortable, I cross-checked the cue sheet & made my 2nd mistake - I misread the cue sheet. Instead of 0.4 miles, I misread the Left turn to be in 6.6 miles. I trudged onwards.

    A few times after that initial cue sheet check, I read the description of the section of the course. It reads: "HWY 86, after climb into Wilminton, next 2 miles are flat." Damn, this climb into Wilminton is pretty killer.

    At one point, I looked right & saw a butterfly flying at the same speed as I was going. I laughed as I wheezed up the mountain. At some point, I thought to myself the following:

    "Okay, the 2 miles of flat have got to be right ahead."
    "Okay, just after this curve, the flat is coming up."
    "Jeez, I'm so impressed that the Ironman people can do this twice. This is HARD!"
    "I think I wouldn't be able to handle Ironman if they all include this much of an incline. Seriously."
    "Where the hell is the flat?"
    "Ed thinks I can do this?"
    "This is really fucking hard."
    "Fuck. I'm tired. Fuck. I'm hurting."
    "How am I supposed to finish this?"
    "No more negativity!"
    "I can do this. I know I can do this!"

    My heart rate was way high, & I was feeling too hot. I decided to dismount & start walking up the "hill". I trudged upwards.

    At this point, I looked back downhill... err... downmountain. I didn't see anyone. File this one under Clue #1. I looked uphill (upmountain) & didn't see anyone. File this under Clue #2. I watched cars pass me & saw some woman's face look shocked at seeing me there. Clue #3.

    Hrm.... Something's wrong here.

    Some time during the ascent, I thought to myself, "This reminds me of Bogus Basin - that mountain climb I did in Boise with my brother-in-law." Now that I was off the bike, I remembered that & had enough red blood cells in my head to do the obvious.

    I looked up. Then, I looked slowly to the right - where the mountain was supposed to be.

    No Mountain. I tried peering over & around the treeline. No Mountain. I looked down where I climbed up from.

    This looks like.... Shit. I'm on the Mountain. I made a wrong turn. Fudge. Double Fudge.

    So, I crossed the street as quickly as possible, saddled up, & breezed down the mountain. I saw a sign part of the way down that notified trucks that it would be steep for the next mile. Great. I climbed about 1.5 miles of a Mountain next to the Ironman course.

    None of the remaining hills seemed so hard after that. The 11-mile ascent that included Little Cherry, Big Cherry, Mama Bear, & Baby Bear were almost a breeze. Papa Bear hit me because I was out of fluids, but that's in another story.

    I texted Ed after the ride & said, "Thought the IM course was too easy. So I threw in 1.5 miles of Whiteface."

    Lake Placid Ironman training camp.

    First, let me just say: Ironman training camp was an excellent way for me to get more comfortable with the idea of completing an Ironman. The course was difficult, the town was adorable, & the scenery was gorgeous.

    Second, how the hell did people in my house manage to rally every night? Seriously, these Ironman people can drink, run, drink, bike, drink, drink, drink.

    Third, you should see my farmer's tan. It's not so much as being sunkissed as being sunmadeoutwith or sunslobberedallovermyvisibleparts. I am currently wearing one (ONE!) red thigh-high, two red arm warmers (one has a cutout for my watch), two red gloves, & two pinker cheeks. How can my hands be sunburnt? I don't know.

    So, on to the Training Camp.

    My Saturday run was a little over two hours, which I believe was a 9-mile run. I didn't exactly keep to my 12-minute mile pace as I had to walk the hills. I still have a lot to work in relation to running. More distance, more speed, more hills. Yes, yes, yes. Thankfully, I just want to finish the Mooseman half-marathon portion of the Half Ironman.

    My Sunday ride was really brutal. It wasn't the actual bike ride that killed me. I thought the bike ride would've been fine for me if I A) wore sunscreen or a light jacket, B) had more than 2 water bottles with me, C) didn't change my nutrition strategy, D) brought something along to eat, & E) didn't miss a turn & head up Whiteface Mountain all gung-ho for 1.5 miles. Prior to climbing part of Whiteface, Jill saved my ass by handing me another bottle of water at the rest stop. I still needed more, but it was enough to get me to mile 40.2, the turn for Northwood Road.

    WHICH! Let me just say - Northwood Road? I was DYING while looking for Northwood Road. I actually yelled out, "Where the FUCK is Northwood Road?" when an anonymous cyclist passed me & asked if I was okay. He sorta shocked me. So, I mumbled that I was fine (which I really wasn't) instead of asking where the fuck Northwood Road was. I had one more swig of fluid left, but I was so close to finishing. It had to be super close. I hadn't seen anyone since I made the mistake of turning up Mt. Whiteface, & I just wanted to ride into town as quickly & safely as possible.

    The next cyclist that passed me? I asked him if he knew where Northwood was, & he chatted me up a little & slowed down a bit to make an obvious turn onto Northwood. Plus, he was super positive, which lifted my spirits. Thank heavens.

    In addition to the training, the time with the team was great. I had a lot of fun. I even have pictures to prove it.



    This week's agenda is to hit the bike shop & get a rear water cage for extra bottles. I'm not making that mistake again. My bike will now become a 4-bottle holder. We're moving up in the world!!

    ****************

    Also, my cats greeted me at the door after a long weekend away & were really happy. Then, one tried to shit in my gym bag. Welcome home, indeed. I missed you too, buddy.

    5/19/2008

    Only 2 years ago.

    2 years doesn't seem like a long time ago. Two years ago, I couldn't run 3 miles. Two years ago, I struggled to do 30 miles on bike. Two years ago, I thought I was disappointing if I didn't race during the entire race.

    A month ago, I was literally crying that I couldn't compete in the full half Ironman & needed consolation. What a difference a few years make.

    Now, I'm scheduled to do a 1.2 mile swim, take a short rest, & then complete a half marathon. & I'm not even blinking an eye. Sure, it'll be a test of my endurance, but I'm not very worried. I know I can complete it, & I know how to complete it.

    Only 3 weeks until Mooseman!!

    5/17/2008

    Away from Tri Team: Master Baker Edition.

    Thursday, my friend Clara notified me of a little dilemma of hers. The husband of the baker for her friend's baby shower had accidentally burned their kitchen down. Therefore, Clara needed someone to bake the baby shower cake. We chatted for a bit, & I decided to go ahead & try. It would be my first paid baking gig.

    I thought of making a tier cake - after all, those are "like" classical cakes only on top of each other. Easy peasy. The only drawback was that there would be only 6 ladies in attendance at this baby shower. Hrmmm... a tier cake is a little overboard.

    Clara & I chatted some more, & we decided that creative was what they wanted. So, I perused the internet for ideas & found a little onesie cake. It didn't seem too complicated - a little carving, a little manipulation, & a whole lot of decorating. All of these I didn't think were that difficult, but in which I have very little experience.

    (Have you thought to yourself "uh-oh" yet? You should've.)

    Thursday, I had to work late & spend some time with Bryan & Mark (his coworker) who were visiting from out of town. Friday, I picked Bryan up from the Dulles Alamo car rental. After sitting in traffic for 1.5 hours on the way out, we hit the grocery store, the Italian Store, & Starbucks for all necessary ingredients. Then, we returned back to Dupont to find parking near my apartment.

    Time passes.

    I get into my apartment around 930p & start assembling The Most Delicious Chocolate Cake that I've Ever Made™. I realize that we have forgotten wax paper, & we head to the nearby Safeway Townhouse (i.e. The Most Outrageously Priced Food Market in the City Next to Dupont Market™), which has just closed at 10p. We hustle to the Rite-Aid where we obtain the goods.

    The cake is then assembled & poured into the now properly prepared pan. Oven 350, then down to 300. During this downtime, I make rice krispy blocks & a ducky for detail. Also, I make a rice krispy pie for the Columbia triathlon. Cake comes out, & both Bryan & I are beat. We decide to rise early & finish the cake.

    I make the top of the cake flat & create the onesie through my handy knife skills. Then, I fixed what I thought my handy knife skills were doing fabulous (but not so much). I start frosting the cake which turned into a light purple & not a bright blue as suspected. It doesn't want to become smooth. So, I chill the cake with the crumb coat on it. After breakfast, I frost again & try to smooth it out.

    Officially, I hate this cake now.

    Bryan leaves to meet Josh & Toby. I smooth, smooth, smooth out the frosting. I decide to give up & start decorating. I pipe bright blue details over the onesie to give details.

    Officially, I hate this cake. again & more so.

    I decide to not put stripes on the onesie as I hate piping. Officially. I write the word "GIRL?" on the onesie. I use my little candied stars & make details. It looks better.

    Officially, I hate this cake. Only less now.

    I give up on the onesie & start eying the rice krispy blocks. I cut them to make them more blockish & start on the details. Eventually, I give up & throw some stars on them & call it done. The ducky, however, I love.

    Repeat: Love the duck.

    I call Clara & say that I'm done. She arranges to have her husband pick up the cake (HURRAY!). I'm relieved that I don't have to do anything more with this damn cake.

    Here's what the damn cake looks like.


    & the whole shindig. With ducky. Love the duck.




    Now that that's done, I can finally go for my long run for today. *phew*!

    5/04/2008

    The first ride. All over again...

    I took my Cannondale out for a 35-mile spin today. The fit was great - I have yet to gain the "killer ab" strength that Jason says I need in order to support my body properly when in the correct position. So, I had a little upper body stress/pain. Also, I wasn't rotating my hips properly - Therefore, I couldn't feel my sit bones on the seat as much. & my hoohah hurt because of the improper hip rotation.

    Seriously, I need to work on that.

    Otherwise, the ride was great. My hip didn't hurt, & my leg alignment was good. Considering that this was a hilly ride, I think I'm nearly healed!

    Manu & I had a good time. When I saw her at swim tonight, we laughed because we're sporting the same damn farmer's tan. Hello, shirt sleeves!

    5/02/2008

    I don't even know you anymore.

    I left work early today & had a real bike fit. What didn't survive was my stem, my saddle, my pedals, my shoes, my handlebar's angle, my seat height, & my stamina.

    She's lighter, she looks faster, & she promises to be faster.

    Look. Look at my newly reincarnated bike.






    4/23/2008

    Lake Anna Sprint

    I completed the Lake Anna Sprint on Sunday. My time wasn't specatular, but a good time wasn't my goal. Keeping my heart rate in Zone 2 was my goal. This was my training race for the Mooseman Half Ironman, & I wanted to practice everything as I would in a Half Ironman.

    Overall, I added about 10 minutes on my time. However, I did walk a significant portion of my 5k due to a sharp pain in my foot (left over from the Cherry Blossom 10-miler). Since I've had hip issues over the last 6-8 months, I thought the hip might have something to do with it. While jogging lightly, I placed my hands on my hips to assess. One hip was dropped - go figure. I realigned myself, & the foot pain went away.

    About the hip pain:
    Kerri has been amazing on fixing my hip. I have considerably less pain & am much stronger than I was 3 weeks ago. We'll assess me on my bike on Friday again & make some minor modifications that should help.

    That's all the good news. There is a little bit of bad news, though, regarding the Mooseman Half.

    I'm concerned about pushing myself for the Mooseman Half. If I had a perfect race, I will finish the Mooseman Half in about 7 hours & 15 minutes (excluding transition time, bathroom breaks, fitness breakdowns, etc.). That's 45 minutes short of the cut-off time. To me, that's a little too close for comfort - especially for a hilly course & just coming off an injury.

    I've requested to change to a relay option where someone else would complete the bike portion of the race. I preferred this option to downgrading myself to the Olympic distance. I will still push myself to complete the half marathon & the 1.2 mile swim, & I think this is an acceptable alternative.

    We'll see what the race director says. If he says yes, I'm making him something tasty as a thank you - no doubt about it.

    I may decide to race the Patriots Half in September, but we'll see how things progress. It's the week before the Nation's Tri, which I already have an obligation to race.

    ***********

    Total side note: I love city dogs. They know that they can get the attention of anyone on the street & use it to get extra pettings. It's always great to take an evening stroll in the neighborhood & give some canine lovin'. I love city life.

    4/20/2008

    Macaroni & cheese.

    On Friday, I made a killer macaroni & cheese. Here are the details:

    2 lbs. macaroni
    4 blocks of various cheeses - shredded to fill 4 sandwich bags. (maybe 1.5-2 lbs?) (i used a smoked gruyere, a gruyere, an irish cheddar, & a "filler" of Cabot 50% fat cheddar.)
    4 tbs. butter
    4 tbs. flour
    2 shallots, minced (onion would do too, but shallots are less harsh)
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    2-3 tbs. stout beer
    6 slices of bacon, cooked & broken into pieces
    3 cups of milk
    1/2 c. breadcrumbs
    fresh parsley or cilantro or other herbs if you're feeling fiesty

    Cook & drain pasta. (Personally, I like it pre-al dente for any baked pastas. It's less mushy that way.) Place pasta in baking dish.

    In a saucepan, heat butter. Add flour after butter is melted. (Note: should be equal parts flour to fat in a roux.) Stir continuously until flour & butter are combined & flour is cooked. 2 minutes, maybe?

    Add minced shallots & garlic.

    Okay - & I'm not so sure, but I may have screwed up with adding the shallots & garlic in at this time. Officially, I might've had to add the shallots & garlic to butter before making the roux, but hey... that's why cooking is an art. It's forgiving.

    Cook shallots & garlic in roux until aromas are delicious. (Or until the shallots are partly translucent & garlic is, well, not burnt.)

    Add milk. Stir. Add cheeses. Stir until combined & cheeses are melted. Cook for another 2 minutes or so. Add cooked bacon pieces. Add beer. Taste. Add more beer or seasonings (e.g. pepper, cayenne, etc if you want/need. I didn't add any except maybe 1/4 tsp black pepper).

    Pour over the waiting pasta. Top with breadcrumbs. Let it hit a 350 oven until bubbling. 15 minutes, maybe? Top with garnishing herbs (parsley/cilantro/etc.).

    Then, yum.