January 28, 2010

Medals 4 Mettle

What do you do with the medals you earn from racing?  Are they on display somewhere in your house?  Used as dress-up pieces for your children?  Or are they kept in a box/drawer/bag out of sight?

I was going through some of my things the other day and came across a box full of my medals that I've earned from various races that I've done over the years.  I got nostalgic looking over the medals and remembering the events, but then I realized that there had to be something better that I could do with them besides keeping them in a box collecting dust.  I did some research and came across an organization called Medals 4 Mettle.  You can find more information about the company here , but here is a quick blurb explaining what they are mainly about:
Medals4Mettle (M4M) is a non-profit organization founded in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 2005. Its mission is to celebrate and reward the individual and collective courage of all human beings by facilitating the gifting of marathon finisher’s medals from marathoners to people who have demonstrated similar mettle, or courage. The recipients can be any age and might have exhibited such mettle by dealing with disease, handicaps or any similar challenge. Marathon runners around the world, and others who have won medals, give their medals to Medals4Mettle. Then our nationwide network of physicians and others award these medals to those who might not be able to run a marathon, but are in their own marathon to continue to live their life.
 After reading over their website and looking at some articles about who they give the medals to I knew that I wanted to donate my medals to this wonderful organization!  The only medals that I decided to keep were the ones that I had previously made into Christmas ornaments (my first tri, my first 70.3, half-marathon) that were already packed up in my Christmas bins.  While I love getting a medal after a race, and taking the ceremonial picture wearing the medal at the finish (we all have those pictures!), the truth is at the end of the day the medal is put in a box with the rest of the bunch. I am very fortunate to have my health and be able to run, bike, swim, compete, race, etc.. and I honestly do not know what I would do if I couldn't do them. So, if I can bring a little ray of sunshine or hope to someone that is fighting a battle more difficult than I could possibly imagine then I would love to do it!  That is why I packed up my medals and am going to ship them out tomorrow!  Yeah!  I am so excited about this and I really hope I can make some sort of difference, however small it may me, in someone's life.

January 27, 2010

Humpastry Day!

Feeling Sorry for Myself "Healthy" Brownies

So, I found out that I have Bronchitis.....uggh!  It is so annoying at this point that I don't even know what to say about it.  I've had it for over a week and maybe it's getting better???  I actually felt pretty good yesterday and wasn't coughing quite as much.  But, do you think I rested like normal people would have done?  Nope!  I decided to ride my bike for 40min. last night during Biggest Loser! I don't know what I was thinking.  Actually, I know exactly what I was thinking.  I was tired of just sitting around waiting to get better...I was itching to workout and I knew I couldn't run yet....I needed to sweat!  I actually felt great while I was riding, but once I stopped all hell broke lose!  My already irritated lungs just couldn't take the increase in heart rate, breathing, etc...from working out and I had....I kid you not....a nonstop coughing fit for 20 minutes!

I am just so ready for it to be gone so I can resume my training, my sleeping, and my not having to take medicine to make it through the day!  The worst thing about it though is that I have passed it onto my son.... :(  Last night my 4yr. old started coughing and kept waking up in the middle of the night from coughing fits...poor little guy.  I really hope he doesn't get it as bad as I have it!

So, today I'm just feeling a little too sorry for myself and decided to make some brownies!  I looked online for some "healthy" brownie recipes and finally came up with my own version.  I didn't really know how these would turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised.  They are moist and chocolaty and pretty good for not having any butter in them!  I must say though that they have a pretty strong cocoa powder taste.  I got this great can of cocoa powder from a friend that is way stronger in flavor then the baking cocoa powder you get at the grocery store, so I think that played a big role in the flavor and the color (they came out a lot darker than regular brownies too).  When (not if!) I make these again I think I'll decrease the amount of cocoa powder to maybe 1/4C instead of 1/3C.  Oh...and if you want to make these vegan, just use vegan chocolate chips instead of regular ones.

(Makes 12 brownies in a 9x9 pan)

*  1 egg/ flax egg ( 1Tbl. flax mixed with 3Tbl. warm water)
*  1 1/8C applesauce (you only need the 1/8 C if you use raw sugar.  If you use regular sugar, just use 1C applesauce)
*  1/2C raw/turbinado sugar
*  1tsp. vanilla
*  1/3C cocoa powder
*  1/2tsp. baking powder
*  1/2tsp. salt
*  1/4C oats ground in a processor to resemble flour
*  3Tbl. whole wheat pastry flour
*  3Tbl. whole wheat flour
*  2Tbl. wheat germ
(Note:  if you don't want to mess with the different flours you could just use all whole wheat pastry flour)
*  1C chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350degrees.  Lightly grease and flour a 9x9 pan.
2.  Mix the flax egg, applesauce, vanilla, and sugar in a bowl.
3.  In a separate bowl mix the cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, flours, oats, and wheat germ together.
4.  Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet.  Mix until just combined.
5.  Fold in the chocolate chips.
6.  Pour the batter into the 9x9 pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick/knife comes out clean.
7.  Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting into the brownies.

Enjoy!  These would be delicious with ice cream....yum, yum!

January 23, 2010

Swim, speed, sick

1.  Swim:
On Thursday I finally dragged myself out of bed at 4:45AM, got dressed, and went to the pool.  I like getting up early to swim because A) There are usually very few people swimming that early and I rarely have to share a lane and B) It's nice to be able to go swimming, shower, and be back home before my husband and kiddos wake up.  I was hesitant to do an actual workout because this was the first time I had been swimming in months...Yikes!  I don't know what my problem is with swimming.  It is the hardest part of a triathlon for me, yet it's the one discipline that in the past I put the least effort into.  This year it's going to be different though.  One my goals for the new year was to improve my swim. One way I'm going to do this is by taking some private lessons.  I just need a set of eyes to tell me what I'm doing wrong and what I need to do to improve!  I'm actually really excited about it!
Anyways, I got to the pool, got in the water and did a 100m warm-up.  I had forgotten how much I love to be in the water.  I actually really enjoy swimming, but I get frustrated with the lack of progress I make (again, here's where a coach would be helpful!).  I decided to just do 100m repeats and believe me they were not easy.  I have lost so much of my swim fitness since my HIM in October...it's not even funny.  I was sucking wind after every 100m and had to rest for a minute or so just to get my heart rate back down.  I was just going to do 1/2M, but when I reached that point I figured I could do a little more to round it out to an even 1000m swim.  I'm so glad I did!  Although it is going to take awhile for me to get my breathing/fitness back, I realized I hadn't lost it all and I know that I can only get better from here!

2.  Speed:
I did my first speed workout this week as part of my 1/2 marathon plan.  The weather was actually pretty decent (45degrees) yesterday so I decided to take my boys with me to the local middle school track.  I gathered a bag full of sand toys for the boys to play with in the long jump sand pit, got them and myself all bundled up, and headed out the door with my Garmin!  I didn't know if the track would be empty or not, but I definitely was not prepared for what we found when we got there.  There were literally hundreds of geese all over the track and field.  Worse yet was their poop ALL OVER the place.  It was so disgusting, but we decided to stay.  We weren't going to let a little (alright A LOT) of poop ruin our plans!

Obviously, my boys couldn't play in the sand pit b/c it was filled with poop, so I didn't know how they would do while I did my laps.  However, they did great and even ran with me during some of the cool down laps between my sets which was awesome! After I finished I took the boys to the school playground to play and they had so much fun! Poop and all, it ended up  being a great time!
 Here's how my speed work went:
1M warm-up  (8:21 pace)
1*400 @ 1:38 (6:37 pace)
1*400 @ 1:38
1*400 @ 1:33 (6:12 pace)
1*400 @ 1:32 (6:07 pace)
1*400 @ 1:32
1/2M cool-down  (7:52 pace)

I had a blast doing this workout!  I was supposed to do the 400s at my 5K pace (which is roughly 7:30), but I felt great and decided to push myself a little bit more.  I didn't realize how fast I was doing my sets until I got home and uploaded my Garmin data.  I'm pretty proud of myself for pushing past my comfort level (maybe the brooks shoes really do make you faster!).  One of my other goals this year is to become a faster runner. I know what my comfortable pace is and for some reason I have a hard time pushing past it.  This speed workout made me realize that I can push past it and I'll be O.K.

3.  Sick:

 I am definitely sick.  In retrospect I probably shouldn't have done that speed workout outside b/c the cold air made my chest cold double in intensity later that night.  It's funny that my legs weren't sore from the workout, but my chest was from coughing so much!  I have decided to take a couple of days off to try and get over this cold.  Medicine only does so much and doesn't really stop the coughing fits.  The lack of sleep is the hardest part though.  I thought about getting up early to swim again, but I just couldn't.  It really sucks b/c I was mentally getting back into training mode and I was so excited about it, and now I have to stop and wait for my body to be o.k. with it too.  I know this will pass and I'll be able to continue my training, but I just hope it passes sooner rather then later!   Now...for some nice hot tea with honey....

January 21, 2010

Humpastry Day!

Heart Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

O-kay, so I know today isn't Hump day, but yesterday my body finally succumed to the chest cold that I've been trying to fend off for the last couple of days.  Up until yesterday it was bearable, but by mid morning yesterday my chest felt like it had 100lbs. of pressure on it and the coughing fits wouldn't stop!  So, needless to say I didn't get to my posting...sorry!  But, today is another story.  I took some Mucinex DM, had a soy chai latte and I'm good to go! :)

I must confess that I actually made these cookies this weekend.  My sister-n-law and her husband were here visiting so my boys and I made these cookies for them.  They were super yummy and were gone within 2 days! I hope you like them as much as we did!  I'm glad there were 6 of us in my house b/c I think I would have eaten way too many of these...ha ha!

 So, we all know about the standard chocolate chip cookie recipe....2 sticks of butter, 2 large eggs,  and white flour...things that could definitely be substituted for healthier ingredients!  Well, what makes these cookies so heart healthy is the fact that the butter, eggs and white flour are replaced with ground walnuts, oatmeal, and oat/whole wheat flour! The result is a moist, chewy, chocolaty cookie that is not only delicious, but good for you too (well, as much as a cookie can be good for you...ha ha).  Oh, and they can also be completely vegan by using vegan chocolate chips, but I just used regular chips.

Makes about 30 cookies

*  3C walnuts
*  3Tbl. canola oil
*  1C brown sugar
*  2tsp. vanilla
*  1 1/2C oat flour/whole wheat flour (I didn't have oat flour so I used whole wheat pastry flour instead.  You can actually make your own oat flour by taking oats, putting them in a food processor, and blending them into a fine powder.  I went for the speedier method and just substituted the flour!)
*  1tsp. baking powder
*  1tsp. salt
*  1/4tsp. cinnamon
*  2C rolled oats
*  12oz. bag chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2.  Blend walnuts in food processor for 30 seconds, or until ground into a fine meal.
3.  Add canola oil and blend for about  2-3min., while occasionally scraping down the sides,  until the mixture is the consistency of natural peanut butter.  Add mixture to a mixer.
4.  In a small saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar and 1/2C water.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then pour it into the mixer over the ground walnut mixture.  Add vanilla and stir until no lumps remain.
5.  In a separate bowl mix the oat/whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Slowly mix the flour mixture into the walnut mixture.
6.  There are two ways to do this next step. A) Let the mixture cool for 10min. then fold in the chocolate chips and oats.  OR  B) Let the mixture cool for about 6 minutes then fold in the chips and oats.  If you do it this way some of the chips will melt making the cookie chocolaty all over.  This is how I did it!
7.  Shape cookie dough into 2" balls, and place 2" apart on the baking sheets.  Then flatten them using the bottom of a drinking glass dipped in water (the water will prevent the glass from sticking to the cookies).

8.  Bake for 8-10min., or until the cookies begin to brown.
9.  Cool for 3min. on the baking sheets before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yum, yum, yum!  Enjoy!

January 19, 2010

Let the training begin!!!

So, yesterday marked the first day of the Cape Atlantic 140.6 challenge! Woohoo!  If you missed my first post about it you can find it here.  Yesterday also marked the first official day of my 1/2 marathon training.  Although I've been kind of following a "winter maintenance" triathlon plan from http://beginnertriathlete.com (the greatest site ever!!), I wanted to up my run training for the 1/2.  I decided to do Hal Higdon's Intermediate Plan  and I think it will be just what I need!  I used his beginner plan for my first 1/2 and I really liked it so I thought I'd give the intermediate a try!  I'd like to set a PR this time, but we'll see.  The 1/2 is in April which is a tricky time for weather here.  It could be snowing or sunny...only time will tell!

I kicked off my training with a nice 3.5 mile run at the gym.  I dropped my boys off at Kids Club and then proceeded to wait for 10 minutes until a treadmill opened up.  I can definitely see a difference in the amount of people at my gym since the new year started!  I'm all for people taking action to become healthy, but I've seen the same thing every year.  For about a month the gym is packed, then it gets increasingly emptier as time goes on.  As much as it sucked to wait for a treadmill, I think I'd much rather have it packed knowing people are trying to change their lives for the better then to see the gym empty again, knowing that those people gave up.  It just makes me kind of sad knowing that people just give up so easily.  What is it about some people that are able to stick it out when the going gets tough??    

When I first started training for triathlons my family and friends were amazed at how I was able to get my training done with all of the other things that were going on in my life.  Yes, it was hard to adjust to fitting it all in, but for me it was something that I was passionate about and I made it a priority.  I made myself a priority.  Maybe that's what more people need to do...make themselves more of a priority??  I'm not saying it was easy to do, but I realized that I needed to put myself first sometimes..ahead of my husband and my kids.  Maybe that's wrong, but I don't think it is.  What I found was that when I was able to exercise and do things for myself I became a better mother and wife.  I was more patient with the kids and had more energy to play (with my kids and my husband...ha ha).

Wow, this post has taken on an entirely different direction then what I originally planned to write.  Sorry about all the ramblings, but there's one last thing that I just have to say...I am excited about training again!  I'm excited about feeling sore the next day...not the soreness where you can't walk, but the soreness you get from a really good workout!  I'm excited about gaining back the fitness that I lost after my HIM.  I'm actually excited about getting back into the pool and becoming a better swimmer (something I desperately what to become)!  Here's hoping you all feel the excitement from training too!  Maybe if more people could feel it, they wouldn't give up so easily????

January 15, 2010

Light and Fast!

Hooray!  I finally got a new pair of running shoes!  But not just any pair of running shoes....trainers!  The Brooks Racer ST 4 to be exact.  Here's a pic. of my new shoes....aren't they ummm pretty?  Don't you just love the red and black with the flashy gold logo????

Alright, so they  may not be the prettiest shoes out there, but they are a unisex shoe so I guess I can't complain!

I have been wanting to get a pair of trainers for quite some time.  After reading,  Born to Run and doing some additional research on barefoot running I decided to transition to a more minimalist shoe.  I wanted to get a pair of racing flats because while they are not made specifically to simulate barefoot running, they are the closest you can get in a running shoe. Plus, because they are so light weight they'll make me super fast!  Well, maybe not, but I can dream can't I???  Eventually I want to transition to the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila, but it isn't out until the spring. I have been doing some barefoot running on some of my shorter runs and have worked my way up to a mile.  So far I love it!  I have been taking it slow like everyone suggests and I haven't had any injuries, major soreness, or anything.  Honestly, it has felt really good to run barefoot.

So, back to my trainers! When I went to register for the Platte 1/2 marathon they were having a deal where you get $5 off race registration and 25% off a pair of Brooks shoes when purchased together, a deal I couldn't pass up!   Here's what they have to say about the Brooks Racer ST 4:
Light enough for the 5K, but sturdy enough for the marathon, the sleek Racer ST 4 helps shave seconds or even minutes off your time. The DRB® backs you up with the support you need to break the tape feeling strong. Go for it. Weight: 8.6 oz.
Wow...maybe they will help me be super fast!  Then I can really live up to the saying on my Bondi Band

This picture was taken after I finished my very first 1/2 marathon.  If you can't quite read it it's the superman logo with the word "runner" in it...get it..."Super Runner!"  I saw the Bondi Band at the expo and thought it was just what I needed to help me get through the race.  Although people probably thought I looked really cheesy, it made me feel confident in my abilities and I finished knowing I did the best I could!  By the way, if you haven't heard of Bondi Band (you can check them out here ), they are awesome!  I sweat A LOT and this really does an awesome job at wicking the sweat and keeping it out of my eyes!

Since most of the snow/ice has melted here from the warm spell we've been having, I wanted to go for a run outside and I decided to try them out.  I went on a 3.6mile run and I gotta tell you that they were super comfy!  I didn't feel any discomfort and the lack of cushioning that's so prevalent in my old running shoes didn't bother me at all!  Granted, it was only a 3.6mile run, but still...I was pleasantly surprised!  I can't wait to build up my distance in them and see how they perform!  Oh...and I loved how light they felt.  8.6oz feels like nothing on my feet!

Notice the crazy tying/strapping down of the shoestrings???  I haven't made my way to the store to get a pair of Yankz yet...but when I do, watch out...my T2 (bike to run transition for those of you new to triathlons) time is going to be smokin!  Ha ha! :)

January 13, 2010

Humpastry Day!

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Bread

So you may be asking yourself, "What does Humpastry Day have to do with training for triathlons?"  Well, a lot if you're in the midst of training, losing weight, or getting slim and trim....like I am.  I think a lot of times our need to be fit gets the best of us and we deprive ourselves of foods/sweets that we really enjoy.  But, I am a firm believer that you can eat anything you want as long as it's in moderation, and especially if it's full of healthier ingredients.   Since becoming a semi-vegan/vegetarian I have really been trying to find healthier ingredients to replace those that are found in almost every cookbook.  You know what I'm talking about....white flour, butter, white sugar...  So, when I came across this recipe from the Nomeatathlete blog, I decided to give it a try.  This will be my third time making this bread!  It tastes super yummy and is great for breakfast or a healthy snack! Because this recipe makes 2-8" loaves, I usually freeze one to have at a later time, which is a huge time saver...especially when you realize you haven't made it to the grocery store and you have nothing to feed the fam. for breakfast!  I've tweaked the recipe a little bit to get an extra dose of calcium and iron by using a little bit of amaranth flour.

What's amaranth flour you say?  Well, I first came across amaranth in the book, "Thrive" by Brendan Brazier and was intrigued.  If you don't know anything about it, here are some little tidbits of info:
*  Amaranth is high in calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and vit. A&C
*  It is composed of about 17% protein and is rich in Lysine, which is important for the absorption of calcium from the digestive tract.  Lysine is difficult to find in plant-based foods, which is pretty much all we eat, so amaranth is a great addition to any vegetarian/vegan diet.
*  Ounce for ounce, amaranth has twice the calcium of cow's milk
*   With about a 90% digestion rate, it is easy on the digestion system and is considered a high net-gain food.
*   With about 3 times the fiber of wheat flour and 5 times the iron, amaranth flour is a good addition to baked goods and its inclusion is an easy way to boost nutritional value.  But, because of its strong, sweet flavor, it is best used as a secondary flour.  You can substitute up to 1/4 of the recipe's flour with amaranth flour.

Pretty interesting huh?  Up until reading "Thrive" I had never even heard of amaranth flour and now I try to incorporate it in as many baked goodies as I can.   I'm all about trying to make sweet things a little healthier! Now, if only there was a way to make reeses peanut butter cups and dairy queen blizzards healthier... :)

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Bread
Makes 2 - 8" loaves

Yes...I have labels on my containers with some instructions.  I'm a type A person when it comes to organization...please don't judge me! :)

*  3 Tbl. gound flax (If you eat eggs, feel free to use 3 eggs instead of the flax and water)
*  1/2 C water
*  1 1/2C turbinado/raw sugar
*  1/2C unsweetened applesauce
*  1/2C canola oil
*  14oz can pumpkin
*  3C whole wheat flour (I used 1/2C amaranth flour + 2 1/2C whole wheat flour)
*  1 Tbl. pumpkin pie spice
*  1 tsp. baking soda
*  1/2 tsp. baking powder
*  3/4 tsp. salt
*  Sprinkle of oats for garnish (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.  Mix flax and water in a bowl and let sit until thickened.
3.  Combine sugar, applesauce, oil, pumpkin, and flax mixture in the mixer.
4.  In medium bowl, mix flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
5.  Stir dry ingredients slowly into the mixer.
6.  Lightly grease 2 - 8" loaf pans
7.  Sprinkle oats on top (optional)
8.  Bake for ~50 min.
9.  Let sit ~20 min. before removing from pan

January 11, 2010

Slushy...but perfect!

There's a saying here in CO that goes something like this, "if you don't like the weather wait 10 minutes."  The weather here is so unpredictable.  One day it can be 19 and the next 40...it's crazy!  So, when we found that the high today was 54, which is amazing in Jan., my husband and I decided to take advantage of the warmth (because we know it won't last for long!) and go for a run outside with our dog and two boys in the BOB jogger.   We decided to try out a new portion of the Highline Canal, which is a gigantic multipurpose trail system that goes all around Denver and the surrounding cities.  You can literally start from anywhere along the trail and run how ever many miles you want...3, 10, 20, and beyond and rarely have to run on the streets...it's amazing!
  Well, because the weather has been sunny these last few days all of the snow and ice that has been accumulating has started to melt.  When we got to the trailhead, this is what we found:

Yeah...you're seeing that right...a muddy, slushy mess!  I guess we should have anticipated this, but we had never been on this portion of the trail and didn't know if it was paved or not.  Obviously it is not paved!! We hesitated for a brief second and decided to run anyways.  We weren't going to let a little mud/ice/slush/snow stop us from enjoying this beautiful day!  So, we strapped the boys in the jogger, got Sidus, our dog, on the leash and headed out. I have never run with Sidus so I started out pushing the jogger while my husband took him.  
  Right away we realized this wasn't going to be a "fast" run for either of us.  Because the ground was so moist the jogger's wheels literally sunk into the ground making it soooo hard to push.  I was breaking a sweat in the first 5 minutes!!  While I felt like I was having a heart attack from exerting so much energy, it was worth it because my boys were absolutely loving it! They loved going bumpity-bump over the uneven terrain and sliding every once in awhile when we hit slush over ice!   I checked my Garmin and saw that we were going at a 10min/mile pace..yikes!  Our normal pace is usually around 8:45 when running with the jogger, so we were definitely not going to get a PR on today's run...ha ha!  We ran for 17 minutes and decided to turn around.
 At the turnaround my husband took over pushing the stroller and I got to run with Sidus.

One of my new years goals was to run with him more and today I got that chance!  He wasn't exactly used to running with us so my run went something like this...."heal Sidus"....run 4 steps..."heal"....run 5 steps..."heal"....run a step then get pulled hard to the left because he needed to sniff something...run 3 steps..."heal"...run 1 step then have to stop so he could do his business...run 5 steps..."heal"....etc...  This went on for another 10 minutes or so until he finally understood that I wanted him to run next to me not in front of me (either that or he was just too tired to care anymore!).  We settled into a nice pace until we reached the car.  My shoes were wet and dirty, but thanks to my new Smartwool socks that I got for Christmas my feet stayed dry and warm.  Hooray for Smartwool running socks.  They rock!

  I am so glad that we didn't head home when we saw that muddy mess!  Although it took us 34 minutes to run a little less than a 5K we didn't care.  We got to be outside enjoying the sun, our boys' laughter, running with Sidus, and each other's company...it was perfect!

January 9, 2010

One month to do 140.6!!

 I don't know what my problem is, but once the cold and snow come my motivation to workout just gets hidden under the covers.  I am a cold wuss!  You would think that living in CO would make me used to it by now, but it hasn't.  Although I have started to bike and run more frequently, my desire to swim is gone.  I think it has something to do with the fact that to swim I have to get up at 4:30AM in order to get my workout done before my husband and kiddos wake up.  At 4:30 it's still well below freezing and my covers are just so warm compared to the frigid air outside....I get shivers just thinking about it...brrr!

So...I got this great idea from joyRuN's blog and I decided it was just what I needed to give my lack of motivation a big kick in the you know what!  CONTACT Cape-Atlantic is putting on an event that anyone can do from wherever you are!  You can find more info at their website here.   Basically I have one month (from Jan. 18-Feb. 18) to complete a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26 mile run.  All you have to do is fill out the registration form, mail in a donation of $25 (so worth the price!!), and they'll  send you a chart to document your training.  You get a cool t-shirt for registering and an award if you complete the challenge (not that that's what it's all about, but a t-shirt and award are pretty cool to get!).

Although I have done a Half Ironman and plan to do another this year, I figure this event is probably the closest I'll come to an actual Ironman...at least for now! :)  140.6....here I come!

January 6, 2010

Humpastry Day!

Banana Date Scones

There's just something about winter that makes me want to bake.  Maybe it has something to do with the warmth that is created from baking.  Warmth from the oven.  Warmth from the baked goods themselves fresh out of the oven.  Warmth that comes from the soul from eating something yummy! :)  Whether it's muffins, bread, scones, or cookies, I love to bake! So, I thought I'd start a weekly post called "Humpastry Day."  Get it...Wed. is usually considered "Hump Day"...so since I'm baking pastries...Humpastry was created!  Cheesy..I know!

Anyways, here is the first pastry post.  I have been meaning to bake some of the scone and muffin recipes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Veganomicon, but haven't gotten around to it.  Until now! 

Makes 8 large scones.  Seriously..they're big.  I think next time I'll use a 1/3C instead of a 1/2C to make the scones.
* 8 oz. dates (~13 pitted dates)
* 1 Tbl. all-purpose flour
* 1C mashed, very ripe bananas (~3 bananas)
* 2Tbl. ground flaxseeds
* 1/3C rice or soymilk
* 1/3C canola oil
* 1/4C brown rice syrup
* 1C all-purpose flour
* 1 1/4C whole wheat pastry flour
* 2Tsp. baking powder
* 1tsp. ground cinnamon
* 1/4tsp. ground nutmeg
* 1/2 tsp. salt
* 1/2C chopped walnuts (optional)

The Steps:
1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees and lightly grease a baking sheet (I used a round baking stone, which fit the 8 scones perfectly so I didn't need to grease it)
2.  Finely chop the dates, place in a small bowl, and sprinkle with 1Tbl. flour.  Set aside.  You're supposed to toss the dates with flour so there are no clumps, but my dates were very very sticky and still clumped.  Honestly, I don't think it's a big deal if they're not clumped b/c you mix it all together at the end!
3.  In a large bowl whisk together the flaxseed and milk.  Add the mashed bananas, oil, and brown rice syrup.
4.  In another bowl, sift the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Stir into banana mixture until just moistened.
5.  Fold in the dates and walnuts (if using).
6.  Lightly oil (I used spray oil) a 1/2C measuring cup and scoop half cupfuls of dough onto the baking sheet, leaving ~3" of space between the scones.
7.  Bake for 32-34 minutes, until browned and firm.  Transfer from baking sheet to a cooling rack to complete cooling.

These turned out pretty good!   I split one with my 2yr. old for a snack and he scarfed it down, which is a definite sign of approval! :)  They have a very  nice earthy, naturally sweetened flavor and I can't wait to eat these for breakfast tomorrow with a nice cup of coffee!


January 4, 2010

Homemade Lara Bars = Yum!!

I found a recipe for homemade Lara Bars from this blog awhile ago and have meaning to make them but I never thought I had the time. Finally, after realizing I had some dates to use up I decided to give this recipe a try. Not only are these bars super easy to make, they are absolutely delicious!! I doubled the recipe and made 4 bars because I figured if I was going to make these I better make more than 2...I'm so glad I did!! :)

Here is the recipe:
Very Cherry Bars

Ingredients for 2 bars:
* 1/4 C chopped whole dates (~5 dates)
* 1/4 C dried cherries
* 1/3 C whole pecans, almonds, or walnuts (I used almonds)
* 1/8 tsp. cinnamon

1. Set out two pieces of plastic wrap for shaping and wrapping the bars. It's good to do this ahead of time b/c your fingers will be sticky when you need these.
2. Put the dates and cherries in a food processor and pulse until processed to a paste. Transfer paste to a medium sized bowl.
3. Add the nuts to the processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the cinnamon to the nuts and pulse again to mix.
4. Add the nut mixture to the fruit paste and use your fingers to knead the nuts into the paste. At first it might seem like there are a lot of nuts, but just keep kneading!
5. Divide the mixture in half and place each half on one sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap the plastic wrap around each bar and squish it into a bar shape (or whatever shape you want!).
6. Tightly wrap the plastic wrap around each bar and store in the refrigerator (if they last that long)!

January 2, 2010

New Year, New Goals

First off, I'd like to say, "Happy New Year" everyone! I really can't believe that it is already January. Where did Fall go?? I'm actually excited for the new year because it means the beginning of tri training again! Of course I've been running and biking here and there, but I'm talking about an actual "plan" with set times and distances. I do much better with keeping up with my fitness when I have something telling me what I should be doing. Otherwise I tend to slack off and before I know it I've gained 10 pounds and my fitness is completely shot! Of course I'm only starting a winter maintenance plan right now, but come March I'll be starting my training for my Half Ironman in August...woohoo!

I know a lot of people make New Year resolutions, but I like to phrase mine more as goals. So, here are some goals I'd like to accomplish this next year:

1. Take swimming lessons to help improve my swimming.
I'm not a horrible swimmer, but I am slower than I'd like. Last year I would get so frustrated after a race when I would look at my times compared to other age groupers. I would beat them in the bike and run, but they always killed me on the swim.

2. Become a speedier runner
I think I have pretty much had the same pace for as long as I can remember. For some reason I have this mental block when it comes to increasing my pace. I know what pace I am comfortable with and have a difficult time pushing myself to become better and faster. So, my goal for running is to get outside my comfort zone and see what I can really do!

3. Learn how to train my dog so I can run with him
I've always wanted a running dog partner. I see people running with their dogs all of the time and I get so jealous. We have a black lab mix that weighs about 95 pounds. He's all muscle and is very very strong. I weigh around 125, so he can literally pull me around and if he were to take off after a squirrel or something I wouldn't be able to stop him. But, I would love to be able to run with him and I know he would really love to run with me. Plus, I think I would feel more comfortable running in the dark if he were with me. I mean, who's going to mess with a 95 pound dog??

4. Beat my first HIM time of 5:42
I'll be doing my second HIM this year in August. I wanted to do the same HIM I did last year, but the timing just won't work out this year. Plus, the HIM I picked is the new Boulder 70.3, and I'm excited about doing another race in Boulder. It's such a great venue for triathlons and August is a great time of year in Colorado. This goal really stems from goal #1 and 2. Yes, I know they are two different races and it's like comparing apples to oranges, but it's my goal and I'm sticking to it! :)

5. Spend more weekends hiking and camping with our boys instead of racing
Last year between my husband and I we had a lot of races scheduled during the spring and summer months. On the weekends that were free we either went hiking or camping with our boys in the mountains. They absolutely loved it and so did I. This year, we want to camp/hike as much as possible. Races will always be here, but having our kids want to actually spend time with us won't last forever.

6. Be a more consistent blogger
Let's face it, I haven't really been that great at posting on my blog. It's my own fault and I could list some reasons, but they would be more like excuses and there really is no excuse. I promise to be better.

Alrighty...so there are my 2010 goals! Woohoo! I like putting them down on paper (well virtual paper...ha ha)!
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and a very happy new year!