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.

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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.