November 29, 2011

Ironman Arizona - The Bike

The Bike:
After seeing my family out of T1, I headed to the mount line, which was sooo crowded!  Because I had tears streaming down my face I actually waited a couple of minutes to mount my bike because I really didn't want to crash right off the bat!

1 loop of the 3 loop course
  Finally, I was on my bike and headed out of town for my first loop.  Right away I was thankful that I had my wind jacket on.  I was still a little chilled from the swim and when a breeze or shady part of the bike course would come around I would get a little cold.

 The first part of the course consists of several different streets before you actually get on the beeline highway.  It was a nice way to ease into the long ride ahead of me, but before I knew it, I was on the beeline.  While the beeline is not a "hill" by any means, it is a steady climb to the turn around with about 500ft. elevation gain.  For the first loop, I was still trying to get my "bike legs" and I was surprised at how hard heading out the beeline felt.  It wasn't like it was a huge climb, but I was only averaging about 14mph going up, which totally surprised me!  I just tried to keep my cadence up instead of pushing the big gears because I knew I still had 2 1/2 loops to do and I DID NOT want to burn out my legs right away.

Finally, I came to the turn around and I knew it was mostly all down hill from there and I got really excited!  I FLEW down the beeline!  I felt so fast and it was awesome!  I definitely had my "bike legs" at this point and I just cruised back to town.  At one point I looked at my Garmin and I was going 28mph!  Woohoo!

As I came back towards transition people were lining the street on both sides!  Everyone was cheering and it was just amazing!  I didn't think I would see my family at all during the bike because we had talked about how difficult it is to really know where an athlete is on the bike and when they are coming.  BUT, to my surprise, as I headed to the turn around, I saw my sisters, dad, and niece/nephews on the side of the road screaming at the top of their lungs!  I was sooo surprised to see them and so excited that I started to tear up AGAIN!  Seriously, I was a mess this entire race! Ha ha!

This is kind of  hard to see, but I'm the one on the other side of the road in my blue jacket!  That hand is actually my sister's hand..ha ha!  I waved and blew kisses to my family as I went by and I just got so excited!  Seeing them definitely gave me a burst of energy as I headed out for loop 2.

At this point, I started getting hot!  I stopped on the side of the road, took off my jacket, and stuffed it in my tri top pocket.  Then, I was off for another loop!  Once again, I got on the beeline and started cruising.  BUT, this time, heading up the beeline felt a lot easier and I found myself averaging around 17-18mph.  I chalked it up to finally having my bike legs and I got visions of having a fast loop!

Well, my visions faded pretty fast when I reached the turn around to head back down the beeline.  Right as I turned around, I was greeted by a major HEADWIND!  I immediately thought, "That's why riding up was so easy...I had a tailwind the entire way!"  Then, my next thought was, "CRAP..I'm going to have this nasty wind the entire way down!"  There goes the 20+mph miles downhill!  I was sooo bummed because I HATE the wind!  But, training in CO, where there is almost always wind, really prepared me for it.  I decided at that point that I was NOT going to let the wind ruin my day!  I knew what I had to do, so I just stayed in aero, put my head down, and just kept on going forward.

Finally, I made it to the Special Needs area (around mile 67).  I stopped and an awesome volunteer gave me my bag and helped switch out my nutrition bottles.  Honestly, I didn't even want them.  I had actually started feeling a little nauseous on my bike and wasn't sure what the problem was.  I was taking in my EFS, eating my Honey Stinger waffles and chews, and doing everything the same as I did in training.  BUT, my stomach just felt off and a little queasy.  I started wondering if maybe swallowing gallons of Tempe Town Lake water was the culprit.  I had no idea what to do, so I just kept going, hoping that it would pass.  Unfortunately, a short time later I had to make a pit stop...ugh!

Finally, I was winding back to transition and I was sooo glad to be at the end of the 2nd loop.  Again, I didn't expect to see my family, but as I got closer to the turn around, THEY WERE THERE!  WOOHOO!!  My sister actually got this shot of  me as I rode by!
 She even got a little video of my fly by too, but I can't figure out how to upload it!  Again, seeing them gave me the boost I needed to forge ahead for my last and final lap!

The good thing about doing a 3 loop course is that you know what to expect.  The bad thing about doing a 3 loop course is also that you know what to expect.  The wind, oh the wind...have I  mentioned that I hate wind?  Ha ha!  At one point, the wind was blowing right at me, then it just stopped and it was calm for about 3 seconds.  "Oh no," I thought!  Then, this huge gust came from the right just as this guy was passing and we almost crashed into each other!   I'm not going to lie, it REALLY scared me!  Seriously, the wind just kept getting worse for the rest of the 3rd loop and it just wasn't fun.  I was starting to get tired, my neck hurt, and I really wanted to be finished.  I actually stopped looking at my Garmin because what I saw was just not making me happy, and I didn't want those negative thoughts in my head.  BUT, I was on my 3rd loop, and I was getting it done!  I just kept moving forward, getting closer and closer to the finish!
This was taken by someone on  It turns out he was out there taking pictures of as many BT athletes that he could!  How cool is that!?

FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY I came to the fork on the bike course where you could either head to the finish, or continue on for another lap.  I was sooo happy to make that right turn into the finish shoot!  The volunteers were motioning me towards the dismount line and I pulled up, swung my leg over, and clipped out.  The volunteer said, "There you go, that's how to dismount!"  I passed my bike to another volunteer who would rack it for me, and headed to the run gear bags.  I was surprised at how good my legs felt!  I thought they would feel like mush, but they didn't!  A volunteer already had my bag out and ready to hand to was awesome!
All the run gear bags in nice little rows!
I ran to the change tent, found a seat right up front, and a volunteer came up and asked if I needed help.  As I sat there, amazed that I had just finished the second part of my adventure, I told her that I just needed a minute.  She asked me if this was my first IM, and I said yes.  It turns out her son and daughter both did their first IM in Austria and it was such an amazing experience for her that she decided to volunteer at IMAZ.  How cool is that??

After taking several deep breaths, I took off my helmet, gloves, and bike shoes and started to put on my running stuff.  I got my compression socks on easily, slipped on my shoes, put on my visor and race belt and thanked the volunteer over and over again for her help.  I took one last long breath, then headed out of the change tent for the last leg of my awesome adventure!

November 23, 2011

Ironman Arizona - The Swim

The Swim
  After I said goodbye to my husband I managed to wipe away my tears as I made my way over to the large area where all of the AG athletes were corralled.  The air was filled with nervous energy and you could just feel it all around you like a thick fog.  Being surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of athletes all at once was just so crazy.  I was standing by myself, trying not to think about what I was about to do, and I just started SHAKING.  It wasn't that I was cold, but just extremely NERVOUS!

  Every once in awhile an athlete would catch a glimpse of someone they knew on the other side of the fence and they would start screaming and shouting to each other.  And every time that happened I would get teary eyed all over again.

   Suddenly, I heard a cannon go off and I knew the pros had started!  Everyone let out a massive cheer!  Then, we all just started moving forward.  I had no idea where I was going, but I just let the huge crowd take me with them.  Before I knew it, we were at the edge of Tempe Town Lake and the announcer said we just had to jump off into the water.  I panicked for a minute thinking about having to JUMP into the water, but then more and more athletes kept coming and I knew I had to just do it!
 I jumped in and amazingly, the water didn't feel that cold.  I honestly think I was in SHOCK!  We had to swim under the bridges to make our way to the start, which was very interesting.  I don't think anyone was actually "swimming," but more like just doing whatever they could to move forward.  Finally, I came to a point where people were just wadding in the water and I stopped and waded too.
   What I saw at that point was just so SURREAL!  I could see hundreds and hundreds of green and pink swim caps all around me.  I looked up at the bridge and saw the massive amounts of spectators lining the edge.  IT WAS AMAZING!  Again, I was overcome with emotion and started getting teary eyed again.  The problem though was that I was wearing my goggles and they totally fogged up!  Ha ha!
   I remember hearing the crowds cheering, hearing the sound of cowbells ringing, then a LOUD cannon !  The start came without any warning and suddenly we were off!  My plan to wait awhile after the cannon went off before starting to swim totally went out the window and I JUST STARTED SWIMMING!   Right then and there I vowed to just keep moving forward whatever happened.

(I got this video off of YouTube!  My favorite part is right at the beginning when there's a girl in the background that says, "Holy F*ck!"...ha ha!  Then at the end, this girl says, "That just looks like it sucks!"  I love the comments!)

   Right after the cannon went off it was just mass chaos.  I could feel hands/arms/fingers on my feet and legs and it only made me want to swim faster.  When I would come close to someone in front of me I would veer to the left or right to try and move away from them.  The only problem was that there really was nowhere to go because people were EVERYWHERE!  But, I didn't panic and just kept moving forward.

   At one point, some big guy wrapped his entire arm around my head, knocking my goggles off of my face, and pushing me under the water.  I swallowed a ton of water and came up choking.  It was not fun!  He stopped to apologize and make sure I was alright, which I thought was a nice gesture, and I told him I was fine.  Thank god I put my goggles on UNDER my swim cap.  **If I have any advice about the mass swim starts of triathlons, it is that you should always put your goggles on under your swim cap.  That way if they get knocked off, you can put them right back on instead of trying to find them in the water!  

After that incident though, there were few times when I came into contact with other athletes, and would swallow tons of water, but for the most part I found myself swimming in open water.  IT WAS AWESOME!  I couldn't believe it and was just sooo happy!

At the buoy turn around, all of a sudden I heard a guy screaming at the top of his lungs, "Help, help, help!"  I stopped swimming and noticed that EVERYONE around me had stopped swimming too.  We all looked towards the direction of the guy to make sure he was alright.  He was totally panicking and screaming!  Then all at once, the hundreds of us around each other all started shouting for someone on a kayak/boat/canoe to help.  Finally, a kayak came and the guy grabbed on.  I hope he finished the race, but I'm not sure if he did.  BUT, that moment was just amazing to me.  The fact that all of us, hundreds of us, stopped and worked together to get that guy help was awesome.  Although we were all swimming our own races, I truly believe the majority of us were looking out for each other and it was a great feeling.

  The swim course is a big rectangle and once I made it around the turn-around buoys I started heading back to the start/finish.  For some reason, the swim back seemed to take A LOT longer than the swim out.  But, every time I would sight, the Mill Ave. Bridge kept getting closer and closer and it was amazing!  I just kept saying, "I'm doing it, I'm doing it!" and I KNEW I was going to finish!!!

FINALLY, I made it under the bridge, around the last turn buoy, and saw the big red TYR flags marking the finish!  I was sooo excited and got a huge smile on my face!
I finally made it to the swim exit "steps" and literally could NOT get my leg up to the top step.  It was sooo high!  Two volunteers grabbed my arms on each side and pulled me up!  I thanked them a ton and ran up to a wetsuit stripper.  I have never had wetsuit strippers in a tri before, so it was a totally new experience for me!  IT WAS AWESOME!  The volunteer whipped my wetsuit off of me soo fast and it was just hilarious to me!   I grabbed my wetsuit and headed down the swim exit path towards the bike gear bags.  That was the first time I actually felt cold.  It's weird how afraid I was of the cold water, but I didn't even notice it until I got out!  

 I WAS SO EXCITED!!  I just kept saying in my head, "I did it, I did it, I did it!!!"  I had NO idea what my time was, but I honestly didn't care.  All that mattered to me at that point was that I FINISHED!  I made it through the part that I was TERRIFIED of and it was an awesome feeling.  I started getting emotional again as I ran down the path.  The crowd lined the entire path and they were AMAZING!  Everyone was shouting and screaming and it was just awesome!

I got to the bike gear area and a volunteer already had my bag out and ready for me!  Seriously, the volunteers were amazing!  I grabbed my bag and headed to the change tent.  There were women everywhere, but I was able to find a chair.  I sat down, looked around me, and took a deep breath!  Then a volunteer came up to me and helped me get into my bike gear.  I put on my arm warmers and a light weight wind jacket because I was so cold!  I knew I could always ditch them if I needed to, but I would rather be warm then cold.
All of the bikes waiting for us after the swim!

I headed out of the tent and towards my bike and volunteers were yelling ahead of them, "365, 365!"  Before I knew it, a volunteer was handing me my bike and I headed towards the bike exit.  AND THAT IS WHEN I SAW THEM!  My entire family was there, right passed the bike exit, and I LOST IT again!!  I went right up to them, kept saying, "I made it, I made it!", gave them all hugs over the fence, and I was bawling.  COMPLETELY BAWLING!  They all said good luck, and I headed towards the mount line, wiping the tears from my eyes, ready for the next leg of my adventure!
I'm in the blue jacket.  If you click on the picture and make it bigger you can totally tell that I'm crying!  I was such a  mess! 

November 22, 2011

Ironman Arizona - Pre-Race

The day before:
I seriously waited until the day of mandatory bike/gear check in to get my things together.  It was less stressful for me that way.  Getting everything ready and checking off the items on my list as I went was just a crazy process.  It is just amazing what goes in to getting it all ready!

These are all of my bags and gear layed out in my room.  My mom and sister came in while I was getting everything organized and went "Oh my God!  It really is a huge process isn't it?"  They really had NO IDEA what was involved in getting ready for my IM.  I don't think anyone truly understands the extent of preparation until you've either gone through it yourself or spectated at an IM.  I know I sure didn't!!!

My awesome bike ready and waiting!

We headed down to the race site and I was surprised that I didn't have to wait in line at all!  I guess we picked a good time to go!  I racked my bike, said a little goodbye to it, then headed to gear drop off.


 This is a picture of the bike gear bags.  I put a strip of bright blue tape on all of my bags so it would be easier to find on race day.  Lots of people had the same idea, and those bags definitely stood out!

I have to say that the people that put on these IM races really have it down to a science!  It's a good thing too because basically, you don't have to think.  You just go where they tell you and do what they say.  Everything was just so organized and because I tend to be an organizational freak, it really helped keep my stress level down! 

Before we left, I took one last look around knowing that Sunday morning things would look a whole lot different!

Run Gear Bags lined up so neatly

Race Morning:
   My husband and I stayed at a hotel close to the race site the night before to alleviate some of the stress of race morning.  It was awesome.  We got up at 4:15A, I ate my pre-race breakfast of overnight oats (recipe coming soon!), checked my gear bags one last time, and headed out.  As we went through the lobby, we saw a group of athletes waiting for the shuttle to take them to the start.  We all wished each other good luck, then we got in our car and headed out.

   I was kind of nervous at this point, but it hadn't hit me yet that I was doing my IM today!  I was just going through the motions and trying to stay calm and relaxed.  We got to the transition area and I had to enter the "athlete" only gated area while my husband waited outside.  I put my last minute stuff in my gear bags, checked in my special needs bags, and headed towards my bike.

   The line to use the pump was sooo long and I was grateful that I brought my own pump with me.  The only problem though was that my husband had it and I didn't know where he was.  I ended up borrowing someone's phone to call him and eventually we found each other!!  I pumped up my tires, shared it with some other athletes around me, then went back to find my husband.  I was soo happy that he was there with me.  I was a little scatter brained and he was my "rock" that morning, keeping me calm and on top of things.  I don't know what I would have done without him there!  I left him briefly to visit the port-a-potties, which took FOREVER! You would think that with 2800 nervous athletes they would have tons and tons of port-a-potties, but I guess there are only so many you can fit in a certain area.
    Before I knew it, it was time to get into my wetsuit.  It was at this point that all of this was becoming REAL!  I got my wetsuit on, grabbed my goggles, swim cap, and ear plugs, and put all my morning stuff in a bag, which I handed to my husband.  Over the fence he wished me good luck, gave me a kiss, and then I JUST LOST IT!!  I just started crying.  I was so overcome with emotion that I couldn't stop.  All of the training, time, and sacrifices had finally come down to this moment and it was just so overwhelming.  I was SCARED, anxious, nervous, and excited all at the same time.   All of those emotions mixed together just made me a HUGE MESS!  I was scared of the swim, scared of the cold water, scared of the kicks/punches/grabs that I knew I would experience during the swim, and just scared of the unknown.  BUT, I was excited to finally get it going!  I didn't know what lay ahead of me, but I DID know that I WAS going to be an Ironman at the end of the matter what!  

November 18, 2011

I'm All Checked In!

Yesterday was the first day of athlete check-in, so my husband and I headed down to Tempe Beach Park to get things started.

This was one of the first things I saw:
The bike transition...completely empty!  I definitely got some butterflies walking by that area!

Check-in was scheduled to start at 10A, which is roughly when we got there, and there was already a line.  Fortunately, it went pretty quickly and before I knew it, it was my turn to check in!!!

I started getting more butterflies as I moved through the different tables.  BUT, it wasn't until I got my wristband and actual packet where the volunteer pulled everything out and walked me through it all that it REALLY hit me that I WAS DOING AN IRONMAN!!!  Although I had tons of butterflies at this point, I also got really, really excited!

I walked out, found my husband, and of course had him take my picture! Ha ha!

I have my wristband, my goodie bag, and the warm sunshine on my face! :)

We headed to the bike area to find my bike spot, #365.
Then, we dropped off all of my stuff back at our car, and headed out for a 40min. run.  We were able to do 1 section of the run course and it was awesome!  I was so happy to be able to preview part of the course before race day.  People had already started writing little notes of encouragement on the path, and I have no doubt those will help me through the run!

When I got home I laid out all my bags, took a picture, and quickly put them away.  Ha ha!  I figured I still have one more day to get things organized, and I just didn't want to stress about it...yet!

November 15, 2011

An impromptu OWS!

First let me just say that WE MADE IT TO ARIZONA!!!  Woohoo!  The trip actually went really well and our boys did so much better than we could have imagined! :)

So, Sunday morning I was looking up some information about places to do some open water swimming and just happened to see an advertisement for an OWS race in Tempe Town Lake, where the IMAZ swim will be.  It turns out that DCB adventures, which hosts a lot of open water swim races throughout AZ was doing a make-up race!!!   I got so excited and contacted the race organizers right away to see if I could do it last minute and they said, "Come on down!"  Woohoo!

I thought this was an opportunity I just couldn't pass up because 1) I'd get to swim part of the IMAZ course 2) I'd get to test out the water temp. and see if I needed to purchase a neoprene cap/booties and 3) I'd get to practice swimming in my wetsuit again, which I haven't been able to swim in since Sept. b/c all the open water swim places close in CO b/c the water just gets too cold.

I got all of my stuff together, packed up some shovels for the boys to play with in the sand, and headed towards Tempe Town Lake.   My husband got the boys set up in the sand while I registered.  It was a little pricey ($50 for the race and $15 for a 1day US master's pass), but in my mind it was well worth the money!

I was # 173

The race had a 4000m, 2000m, and 1000m swim.  I would have liked to have done the 4000m, but it started earlier in the morning and I couldn't make it to the lake on time.  So, I opted to do the 2000m swim.  Before I knew it, it was time to get in the water.  The announcer said the temp. was around 62 degrees!  Brrr!!!  I stepped in and it was pretty cold at first.  I didn't want to put my face in the water, but knew I needed to before the race started.  So, I just went for it!  It was a shock at first, but it actually wasn't that bad.  In my mind I thought it was going to be soooo much colder than it was, and I was so relieved that is wasn't.

There were about 15-20 people doing the 2000m race and we all made out way out to the bouys.  The announcer counted down from 5, then we were off!  Everyone pretty much took off in front of me, but I eased myself into the swim.  One thing I DID NOT want to do was go out too hard because this was not a "race" to me, but just a practice swim.  It felt weird swimming in my wetsuit, and again I was thankful to have this opportunity.

Overall, the swim went pretty well!  I didn't really feel that cold during the swim, but my little toes did start to go a little numb towards the end.  Since I'll be doing 2X this distance on Sunday, hopefully my toes won't go completely numb, but I don't think they will (fingers crossed!). :)

Happy to be done!  That's the Mill Ave. bridge behind me where I'll be swimming under on Sunday! 

Oh, and look at the cool stuff I got!  I was just happy being able to swim at TTL, but getting cool swag is always fun! :)

*  A great bag
*  A new water bottle
*  An awesome pint glass that we got when we finished!

November 11, 2011

Arizona Here We Come!

First of all, I want to thank all of you for your comments on my stomach bug blues. :)  I did end up resting, and I think it was definitely what I needed!  It really sucked being sick, but I'm happy to say that the stomach bug has passed through our entire household and moved on!  Woohoo!

Now, onto THIS post!  :)

I have been crazy busy getting everything together and our house is in utter chaos!  Not only do I have race stuff to pack, but I have to pack for a 2 week vacation too...for me, my husband, and our two boys!!  Granted, my husband packed all of his stuff in like 5minutes, but for some reason, it just takes me longer to pack up the rest of the stuff.  I think it's because I never know what I'll need, so I tend to pack more rather than less.

Anyways, here are some of the piles we have going on in our house right now!

* Race day nutrition
*  Water bottles
*  Snacks for our road trip
*  Gadgets galore!
*  Activity books for the boys

*  All of my clothes and racing gear

My husband's pile was like 1/4 of mine!  Ha ha!

*  My bike and my husband's bike (I'm dragging him along for some training rides!)
*  Racing wheels
*  Bike stand/tools
*  Suitcases
*  Our boys' scooters and helmets (Yes, this might be a little much, but the weather in AZ is going to be in the 70s which means they will be outside ALL day!)

Phew..that's a lot of stuff!  The drive is supposed to be around 12 hours long, but with 2 young boys, we know it will take us MUCH longer!  We're leaving tonight after my husband gets off work and hoping to make it 3-4hrs. down the road.  We just want to at least take a small chuck of time out of the total trip.  Hopefully our boys will do well with the long drive, but I know there will be some "moments!"  One thing is for sure though, it will definitely be an ADVENTURE!  :)

November 9, 2011

Stomach Bug Blues

Both of my sons have been sick this week with some sort of stomach bug.  It hasn't been pretty!  I was praying and hoping that I wouldn't get it, but unfortunately, I did.  Last night was pretty rough because throwing up is never fun.  I think I spent more time in the bathroom then I did in my bed.  Ugh!

But now, my stress level has totally increased!  Because my boys were home sick and basically just laying around when they weren't throwing up, I couldn't get in any workouts.  The only thing I've done this week was my last long run on Monday.  There is NO WAY I can do anything today...I'm barely able to sit up let alone swim/bike/run.  I could potentially do something tomorrow, but it all depends on my stomach.  So, I'm kind of freaking out!!

What should I do?  I feel like I should and need to work out because I have an IM in 11 days!  BUT, I also feel like I need to let my body rest and get rid of this stupid stomach bug!  I'm afraid of overdoing it and getting even more sick.  This is just really cruddy timing.  But, I guess getting the stomach bug next week before my race would have been even worse, so maybe I should be grateful that I got it now?  Ugh!

I know I usually keep this blog pretty upbeat, and I'm sorry if this post sounds like a bunch of whining...I just needed to vent.

November 7, 2011

It's Taper Time!!

I have officially started tapering for IMAZ which is only 13 DAYS AWAY!!!!  OH MY GOD!!! Seriously, didn't I just register for this race??  Ha ha!


Last weekend I had my longest ride and long run consisting of a 6hr ride and a 20M run.  I have to tell you that I was NOT looking forward to doing it, but I got it done!  In fact, my run was one of the best runs I've had throughout my entire training.  I felt awesome and finished knowing that I could have definitely ran 6.2 miles more!  I know at IMAZ my marathon will be following a 2.4M swim and 112M bike, but I'm feeling ready...I really am, and it's an amazing, awesome feeling!

Taper crazies??  Not me!
I know a lot of people tend to go a little crazy during taper week, but I have to tell you that I am actually really enjoying it.  Training for an IM is HARD!  It's hard on your body, hard on your mind, and hard on your family.  I haven't had a full weekend day with my husband and boys in a LONG time and I'm ready to have that time back.  I am tired of the long workouts and am just DONE at this point.

Plus, the weather is starting to get really sketchy here with COLD temps (30-40 degrees) and snow so it is making it harder to do workouts outside.  I did a 4hr. trainer ride on Saturday and it sucked.  The only thing that made it doable was the fact that I watched the 2010 Ironman World Championship that I recorded last year.  I can't wait for NBCs broadcast of this years race!!

I have a 2hr. run to do today, then it's all swim/bike/runs 1hr. or less from this point on.  I am soooo looking forward to NOT having to go long anymore.

Well, not until race day! :)


What I AM stressed about though is getting everything packed and ready for our trip.  We leave THIS FRIDAY night for a long road trip to AZ.  We are driving the 12hr. trip in 2 days with our boys, and it should be very interesting!

I'm glad I'll have a week before the race to ride and run some of the bike/run course because it's always better when you know what to expect.  But, I'm just starting to get a little freaked out that my race is 13 DAYS AWAY!!!  I keep having these little panic thoughts where I just let out a long sigh.  At first, my husband would ask me what was wrong, but now he's so used to them he just ignores me. Ha ha!

All in all though, I am ready.  I'm nervous, anxious, but mostly just really, really excited!  IMAZ here I come!!

November 2, 2011

Humpastry Day - Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
I know it has been a LONG time since I posted a Humpastry Day recipe.  With all of my IM training, I have been cutting down on the amount of "treats" we have in the house.  So, when I feel like a treat, I've been baking things that I know I love, instead of creating knew things.

BUT, when I woke up to this:
  I had a strong desire for something warm, gooey, and comforting.  I didn't want cookies, chocolate, or anything overly sweet (I've had my fair share of Halloween candy....ugh!).  Then, I got a flashback of eating my mom's cinnamon rolls that she would make us.  They are awesome and delicious and just what I wanted!  BUT, they don't have the best ingredients in them.  Plus, there's no way I can make them as good as hers...there's just something about HER making them that makes them so yummy!

I looked in my pantry and saw my rows and rows of canned pumpkin.  I MAY have a problem with buying canned pumpkin every time I see it on sale! Ha ha!

Anyways, I suddenly got the idea of making pumpkin cinnamon rolls!  YUM!  I got on my computer, googled it, and there were tons and tons of recipes.  I looked through some of the ones I thought sounded good, then decided to tweak the recipes to make them a little bit healthier.

The result is a cinnamon roll that is not too sweet, has a hint of pumpkin flavor, and brings out all the smells/tastes of fall.  AND, I have to say that they were better than ones I've had at pastry shops where you can taste all the butter/oil in them.  The pumpkin puree makes them a little more dense than traditional cinnamon rolls, so they are not as light and fluffy, but they are still pretty good!  Warm, gooey, yumminess! :)

*Note:  These do take quite a bit of time to prepare, but most of it involves just waiting for the dough/rolls to rise.  This is a perfect thing to make on a cold, winter day..or a snow day, as was my case.  My boys loved helping me, but they loved eating them even more! :)  

Makes roughly 15 cinnamon rolls

For the Dough:
*  1/4C warm water
*  2 1/4tsp. active dry yeast (or 1 package)
*  1/3C warm almond milk (you can use soy or regular milk too)
*  1 flax egg (1Tbl, ground flax mixed with 3Tbl. water) (or you can use 1 egg)
*  3/4C pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
*  1Tbl. melted Earth Balance butter
*  1 1/4C whole wheat pastry flour
*  2C all-purpose flour
*  1/2C brown sugar
*  1tsp. salt
*  1Tbl. pumpkin pie spice

For the filling:
*  1Tbl. melted Earth Balance butter
*  1/3C brown sugar
*  1Tbl. pumpkin pie spice

For the Glaze:
*  1/2 -1C powdered sugar (I always start with 1/2C, then add more depending on taste)
*  1/2tsp. vanilla
*  1Tbl. almond milk

1.  Stir yeast into the warm water and set aside.  In another bowl, mix the ground flax and water together  and set aside.  Let both sit for 5 minutes.
2.  In a large bowl, mix almond milk, salt, pumpkin, butter, 1 1/4C whole wheat pastry flour, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice.  Add the yeast mixture and flax egg and beat vigorously for 2 minutes.
3.  Slowly add the all-purpose flour, 1/2C at a time, until the dough is stiff and ready to knead.

4.  Place dough onto a floured surface and knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough.  *Note: during the kneading, I am constantly flouring my hands and the surface to keep the dough from sticking.  

5.  Place the dough into a greased bowl and turn to coat all sides.

6.  Cover with plastic wrap/wax paper and let rise in a warm spot for 1-1 1/2hours, or until dough has roughly doubled in size.  *Note:  I did this on a cold day, so I actually placed my dough in the oven set at 100degrees.
7.  Transfer the dough to a floured surface and roll it into a roughly 16"x12" rectangle.
9.  Mix the brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice together in a small bowl.  Spread the melted butter onto the dough.  Then, sprinkle the dough with the brown sugar mixture.
10.  Starting with the long side, roll the dough into a log.

11.  Using a serrated knife, cut the dough into 1" pieces and place in a greased 13"x9" pan.  You should get around 15 pieces.
12.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise one more time until doubled in size, about 45min.
13.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned.
14.  While the rolls bake, prepare the frosting.  Combine the milk, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar in a small bowl.  Mix until smooth.  Like I mentioned above, I start with 1/2C powdered sugar and add  more to taste.
15.  Let the rolls cool slightly before frosting.
16.  Serve warm and enjoy!  Yum, yum, yum! :)