Spice Blends that Make Me Smile

Heellloooo there!

Happy Friday!  I am so ready for this week to end.  Tomorrow starts an amazing 3 day weekend.  Amazing might be too strong of a word.  Pretty good? Yes. Super fun? Yes to that too.  Amazing?  We’ll see.  Last weekend I had zero days to do nothing and since doing nothing is my favorite activity, it was especially troubling.  I have purposefully made no plans for Sunday or Monday so Doing Nothing is going to happen.

Saturday should actually be filled with somethings.  My mom is finally cashing in on her Christmas gift.  I got her tickets to a dance performance at the Kennedy Center.  It’s some type of modern Brazilian dance troupe.  I don’t really know that much about it.  She asked for tickets to a modern dance performance and this was the best I could find.  Actually what she asked for was tickets to see “krumping, popping or something like that.”  Somebody’s been watching too much So You Think You Can Dance.  I jest.  I thought it was adorable and was happy to oblige.  Except that I have no idea where to go see things like that.  So the Kennedy Center will have to do.

In other random news, I got out of work early yesterday so I made a quick detour to Penzey’s.  Oh my golly!  That store is freaking amazing.  Dried spices may not sound all that exciting but I completely nerded out in there.  They have some really great spice blends that keep the cooking interesting.  They aren’t paying me to say this (although if they want to pay me in spices, I’d be ok with it), I just really love it!  Here’s what I bought. Penzey's Spices

The Sunny Paris and Aleppo (great alternative to crushed red pepper) are staples in my kitchen and I was really just restocking.  The other two were new to me.  I love that you can smell all of them in the store.  The Trinidad is a blend of salt, lemon zest, garlic, cloves and ginger.  Holy heck!  I was so excited by the smell that I actually busted open the bottle in the car just to try it.  And… delicious.  As Rob put it, it would be so good anywhere you put garlic.  Garlic bread?  Why not , lemon garlic bread? I almost could eat it straight out of the bottle.  Actually, that’s exactly what I did do, so I guess there’s no almost about it.

I also loved the Tsardust Memories.  It is a unique blend of salt, garlic, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, and marjoram.  Sounds a little strange, tastes great.  I made it into meatballs last night for dinner and I cannot tell you how excited I am about the leftovers I brought with me for lunch.  <<Happy sigh>>

I ate about 6 of these lettuce wraps.  No shame!

I ate about 6 of these lettuce wraps. No shame!

Last but not least, here’s an adorable picture of my favorite basenji.  What a cutie!  Dingo

I just found out a coworker had a basenji growing up.  Makes me like him even more.  Like we now have a special bond!

I just need to talk about Crossfit a little bit.  I love to talk about Crossfit and for some reason I never do it on the blog.  I don’t know why that is but it needs to change.  Crossfit is actually a pretty substantial part of my life right now.  I go 4 days a week!

It’s actually the only exercise that I’ve been able to stick to lately.  I usually kind of fade out, but so far I’ve been sticking to it.  The last few weeks have been a little tough, not for any particular reason, just because for some reason I’ve had other obligations that made it tough to go four times a week.  This week I’m back at it.  I went four days and honestly if my schedule had allowed it, I would have gone 5 days.  I just can’t get enough!

So maybe stupidly, I signed up for a sprint triathlon on June 1.  It’s not stupid because I think I can’t do it.  It’s stupid because I have no real way of swimming between now and then.  Enter Crossfit.  I’m hoping that my gained strength is going to carry me through the swimming portion with exactly 0 meters in beforehand.  When I say it out loud, it does seem like sort of a dumb idea.  Luckily, it’s only a sprint.  I just need to get my running and biking back in gear.  This weekend is when it begins.  My goal is 2 runs per week, 1 bike per week and keeping up with my 4 days of Crossfit.  I’ll let you know next week how realistic this is….

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IronGirl Rocky Gap Race Report

Second triathlon down. In less than a month. Woot woot!

IG Rocky Gap was beautiful. The location was terrific. The day was perfect. The race was pretty darn good.

Rachelle and I rode up together. Rob drove. We went up on Saturday to pick up the packet and rack bikes. It’s *just* far enough away to make it annoying – 2 1/2 hours – but not so far that it feels like a real trip. After picking up our packets and surveying the scene at the Rocky Gap resort, we drove to the hotel. It was budget to say the least. They directed us to a very busy and very crappy restaurant in Frostburg where we ate an unremarkable dinner and headed home. I set my alarm and went to bed pretty swiftly. Very unusual for me. I was tired after Friday night, when we finally had our 1 year anniversary date in DC and went to a very late comedy show. I’m not as young as I once was. For sure.

Sunday morning, the alarm went off and almost immediately I realized I had set it for the time that we were meant to leave. D’oh! Looks like Rachelle is never going to get to a race on time. We raced around and got out of the hotel in about 10 minutes. Luckily we made it to the resort in record time (in the dark) and we weren’t late at all. Rachelle kept saying, “We’re not even late. I’m not worried at all.”

I set up my transition area. This time I had brought my own pump (along with my own mule – thanks Rob) and I was so glad I did. The lines were horrible but I didn’t have to wait and was actually able to help some of the people around me.

Before the start, we watched the sun come up over the mountains and burn off the fog. It was a pretty spectacular start to the morning.

We were all in the same wave this time and it was the fourth one, so we had a relatively early start. The water was cold, but manageable and very clear. What a difference! Also the waves were smaller (the race in general was smaller), so there was far less thrashing about and fighting for position. And because they kicked off 8 minutes apart, it took longer to reach the bulk of the wave in front of us. I stuck with Rachelle for a bit but she out-motored me fairly quickly. After that, I just put my head down and swam. The swim was pretty pleasant, but I did get a bit off course. I think I have a lot more practice to do, not only on the sighting, but on the swimming straight. I would be scared to swim the Bay Bridge swim now. I’d be lost out in the ocean in no time!

Rachelle was still in transition when I got there and we rode out together. Originally, we were going to try to stick together, but it’s just not that realistic on the course. And man, what a course! Holy hill! It was an out and back and even though we drove it the night before, it caught me off guard. It was all hills. Either up or down, never flat. Right from the get go, there was a monster. I saw a lot of people walking that one. If that doesn’t say “this was bigger than expected” I don’t know what does.

I caught up to Rachelle at the turnaround, but only because she dropped her chain. I stuck behind her for another mile or so, until I dropped my chain. Grrr! I was just being stupid and tried to shift down too quickly and too late on a big hill. I should know better. And now I guess I do. By then Rachelle was out of my sights. A few miles later I could just barely see her so I raced to catch up. I caught the person I thought was her, but turns out it was someone else. Well she must have been pretty close because her bike was only 2 minutes faster than mine. Maybe I could have caught her….

Speaking of catching, Laura caught me on the last mile and we rode in together. So that was nice. That girl sure has a butt-kicking engine to her! Go Laura!

Towards the end of the bike, I started getting a little sad. I was thinking about how the race as almost over and it didn’t seem long enough (though it was plenty hard enough) and I just didn’t want it to end. It’s not like it was some perfect day or something or I was racing super well. It was just all around good. Perhaps that was the feeling of the tri-bug biting me.

I transitioned out to the run and boom! Uphill! They sure love their hills in Western Maryland. I’m not gonna lie, I walked some of the hills. I had a bit of a slow start. But it let me chat with some of the women that I had bee riding with. We were all of a similar pace both on the bike and now on the run. One of the things I like so much is that the women are generally really supportive of each other. I was happy to partake in that tradition.

After the turnaround (again, it was an out-and-back), I told myself to suck it up and run. I had put little more emphasis on my running since IG Columbia and I think it paid off. I felt stronger. Far from strong but stronger. Were there times I wanted to walk? Of course. So I asked myself if I was close to death. I asked myself what was the worst thing that would happen if I kept running? Funny thing, I didn’t have a good enough answer to let myself stop. The self-talk worked!

My girls were at the finish to cheer me on. But where was Rob? I hadn’t seen him since T1 and I was a little confused. Where could he be? I waited about 10 minutes for him to make his way over and then decided to call. You will never guess where he was – in the car! He thought it was going to take 3+ hours and was shocked we were done. I mean, geez! I think he felt kind of bad about it so I didn’t give him too much grief about it. Worst cheerleader ever!

Make that hill my bi-atch…. and other crude jokes

I decided today that I am going to make the the run portion of the IronGirl my bitch.  I dropped the dogs off at daycare today and headed over to Centennial Lake.  At first I was just going to run the 2 mile loop.  By the time I got to the turn off for Gatorade Hill, I knew that I needed to conquer it for my own self-respect.  So I did.  That extends the course by 1.4 miles of pure hills.  And it wasn’t pretty, but I did it.  I walked a little but not nearly as much as I did for IronGirl.  I had been telling myself I wasn’t going to walk at all, but it turns out, that just wasn’t that realistic.  So I did as little walking as I possibly could.   And I shuffled.  And I made it.  I kept asking myself, “Why should I stop?  Am I going to die? No… Am I going to seriously injure myself? No….  Then I have no reason to stop.”  And it worked.

An hour or two later, once I had finally stopped sweating, I decided that course will be mine.  <<– Insert evil laugh here.  Rob joked that we would have to start calling it “Emily’s Bitch Lake.”  I like the sound of that.  It might take me a few months to run it and feel good about it, but I will do it.  By the end of the year.  And then I will know that I have turned my running around.

And lest you think this blog is purely about triathlon (it’s not, is it?) here is a daily dose of adorable-ness.  Hudson got his first haircut yesterday.  Here are the before and afters:

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And since I decided that I don’t like his haircut, here is the toupee I’m going to make him wear until his cute curls grow back in.

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I jest… sort of.  I don’t like his haircut at all.  He looks dumb.  As Rob put it, he looks so much like a poodle now.  Obviously, that is not what we want.  He needs a little more cock in him.   Terrible joke… I know.  I couldn’t help myself.  I think the ability to make crude jokes is half the reason I wanted to get a cockapoo.  Wait, I didn’t want to get a cockapoo.  Oh whatever.

Crazy Triathlete

It’s official.  I have been bitten by the triathlon bug.  I present two pieces of evidence.

Yesterday I met Laura for MMTC’s (Mid Maryland Triathlon Club) Wednesday night Run/Bike/Run.  It is a 2.1 mile loop.  You run it once, bike it 5 times and then run one more time.  I went one other time (the day before I found out I was pregnant) and barely survived, even when I skipped the last run.  Have I mentioned that I hate running?

Yay Run/Bike/Run!

Yay Run/Bike/Run!

Last night, despite the rain and nearly 400% humidity, we decided to still go.  It was a perfect example of each of us being the other person’s only motivation.  We ran the first lap.  Then we rode.  Near the end of the first bike lap Laura noticed her tire was flat.  She decided to do two more before stopping.  She ran a lap while I biked my last two.  The plan was that I would then run my last lap, but I hated to make Laura wait, it was pouring and mostly I just didn’t feel like it.  I can be a barrel of excuses.

On the ride home, I started to feel bad about not running.  There was physically no reason for me to not have run.  I just hadn’t felt like it.  I kept telling myself that it was that kind of attitude that has been holding me back from being a better runner.  So by the time I got home, I had made myself feel guilty enough that I… ran that last 2 miles on the treadmill.   I couldn’t believe it.  I never would have done that in the past.  I would have felt guilty and let it eat me up, but never have done anything about it.  And here’s what I learned.  I felt really good when I completed the workout.  No guilt.  No shame.  Just a glimmer of actual pride.  I just might get better at this if I keep that up!

And here is evidence number two.  I was having trouble getting dressed – I have no clothes, I keep wearing the same ones I like, blah blah blah –  this morning and was basically bitching to Rob about it.  He said, and here’s why I love him, “Sounds like it’s time to buy new clothes then.”  But here is where the triathlon miracle came in.  I replied, “I would much rather spend my money on triathlon clothes.” It popped out of my mouth before I could even think about it.  But it’s true.  There are so many fun tri gear/gadgets that I want, that I really do not want to waste my money on anything else.

So there you have it.  I am officially one of those crazy people.

Sighting success

Today’s title is a pun and I didn’t even mean for it to be!  I swam yesterday and decided that I needed to work on my sighting skills since I swam so off course in the swim at IronGirl Columbia.  I had some success practicing my sighting and I’m “sighting” (as in seeing) success approaching.  Haha! What a dork! 

After a 400-300-200-100 warmup, I did my only set of 3×100 free, building speed, 3×100 IM, building speed, and 3×100 free with sighting.  What really surprised me was that the sighting made the laps go by faster.  Not as in I was faster, because I was most certainly not faster.  More as in, it gave my brain something new to ponder, so the seconds ticked by faster. 

Sighting is such an annoying part of open water swimming.  Not only does it break my rhythm, it also is just plain more work.  But practice makes perfect, so I’m sure I’ll be doing more of it on any of the swims I do between now and September 8.

Late August Resolutions

I started my training up again today.  I took 2 days off after IronGirl Columbia.  I figure I have 3 weeks to get into kick-butt gear for IronGirl Rocky Gap.  I really want to bump up my swim time because I know I could have been faster.  That’s the one I feel is my strongest, so I want a good showing.  And the run… oh the run.  That was atrocious.  I can do better, but I need to run my fanny off for three weeks.

So today I went out and did a bike/run.  Nothing like jumping back in with both feet!  It was the longest one I have done yet: 60 min bike, 30 min run.  And as expected, the run hurt.  This is going to be a battle for me.  I just have to run more so I hate running less.

Today’s activities reminded me of several things I know that I am always forgetting:

1. I really love to bike now.  The more I go, the better I get.  The sense of accomplishment I feel when an old, hard hill suddenly becomes an easy hill is unreal.  I love being able to mark my progress so concretely.

2. I am a huge bi-atch when I don’t exercise.  Case in point, I picked a big fight with someone last night and right in the middle of it, I realized I was most pissy because I missed exercising.  Dumb reason to fight when they are not related to me not moving my tush.

3. I am not a morning person, but I could learn to be if I start exercising soon after waking up.

4. The bike/run is the best way to get through hump day.  Or any day.  I like the biking so much that I forget to dread the running as much.  Does that even make sense?

So onward I trudge.  I made a list of my goals for the rest of 2013.  All are related to my fitness.  For the sake of holding me to my word, here is what I would like to accomplish in the last third of 2013:

  • Run 5 miles continuously
  • Swim 2x/week
  • Run 3x/week
  • Do a 4 minute Plank

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All are do-able if I continue on my current trajectory and don’t, say, get pregnant or do anything else stupid.

IronGirl Columbia recap

IG columbia

Yay!  I did it!  And it was surprisingly awesome!

So here is my recap for the race because I don’t want to forget any of it.

On Friday I picked up my packet with Laura.  This was a fairly unexciting process, but it did give me a chance to buy Rob a very cute (and incredibly dorky) tee shirt that said “My Wife is an IronGirl.”  It made me a little giddy that he agreed to wear it.

On Saturday, Laura and I racked our bikes and then took a look at the lake.  I kept telling Laura that it would be ok, not to worry and it really wasn’t that far to swim.  And I was only half lying.  I wanted to make sure to put on a brave face for her sake, but honestly, I was thinking, “There is an awful lot of algea gunk it there and it doesn’t look that clear.  How will I know where I’m going?”

Very early Saturday morning, like 4:30 early, Rob and I got up and went to the park.  It was still dark out and we were some of the first ones there, although definitely not the first ones there.  I set up my transition area.  My bike was in a kind of a funny place.  There were three columns of racks and I was in the middle one, in the middle row, in the middle of the row.  So I was very nearly dead-center.  Ehh, made it easy to find.

I had a mini stroke of genius about setting up my area.  I don’t have one of those fancy triathlon mats because I actively tried to avoid buying tri gear that didn’t at least have some future purpose.  I knew I would be setting up on a towel.  So which towel?  It really shouldn’t matter, but I saw my old Rainbow Brite towel from when I was a little kid.  It is completely useless as an actual towel because it is stained and worn down to almost see-through, but as a tri mat it is brilliant.  Added advantage, it makes me super happy every time I look at it.

I had all my gear in separate little Ziploc bags because it was supposed to rain.  I felt so organized.

I went around to look for someone to help me pump up my tires, which proved more difficult than expected.  Eventually I found someone and he gave me his two cents on the “old wives tale” (his words, not mine) about pumping to a pressure 5 psi less than normal for wet conditions.  I was willing to believe anything at that moment, so I let him fully pump up and honestly, it didn’t seem to make a lick of difference, so I might be calling bull$hit on that wives tale myself.

After setting up, there was a lot of standing around chitchatting with Laura’s friends.  She knows so many people from the gym that were doing this, so there were plenty of people to talk to.

By 5:45 we hadn’t heard from Rachelle, so we texted her to see when she was getting there.  She was still at home!  She hadn’t planned on leaving until later because our wave started so late.  When we told her the transition area closed at 6:30 she threw her stuff in a bag and raced over.  I was sweating bullets for her.  Can you imagine if she hadn’t made it?  I guess I gave it away, but she made it just in the nick of time.  After that, we headed over to the swim start area and just kind of checked out the scene.

Our wave was in about the middle of all of the waves.  Laura went off 6 minutes before Rachelle and I.  So we went in and treaded water for about 5 minutes before they started us.  It was a little chilly, but I figured that would work to our advantage.  The announcer sent us off and away we went.  I just put my head down and swam.  Albeit, a little off course.  It is a bit hard to swim straight.  Especially when you can’t see the person in front of you.  I guess I managed ok, but people kept getting in my way.  It really wasn’t long until I had caught up with the wave ahead of us (Laura’s wave).  That actually made it worse because it meant you were getting caught behind even slower people.  I saw two women with cardinal (my color) caps so I tried to sort of stick with them.  I felt good on the swim.  I didn’t really “race” until the end but I felt strong and powerful.  Well, I should have raced, because Rachelle beat me by one minute, but I didn’t know that until later.  I won’t let that happen again!

I got out and saw our cheering crew at the transition.  I could tell from Jimmy’s face that Laura wasn’t out yet and he was a little worried about her.  She made it, she was just a little slower. I sort of walked to the bike.  I didn’t remember until I walked by Rob, Jimmy and Andrea that I was supposed to be racing.  Duh!  I think I had told myself so many times that my goal was just to finish, that I had let that get into my head and I kind of forgot that I was there to race.

At the transition area, I really didn’t care about my fancy Ziploc bags.  I didn’t want anything but shoes on my feet and a helmet on my head.  So that is what I left with.  I mounted the bike and started to go.  All I can say is, thank god we did that course the week before.  Was it still hilly? Yes.  Was it raining? Yes.  Did my legs hurt?  Hell yes.  But at least I 1) Knew I could do it and 2) Knew what to expect where.  Even though I had been super scared about the rain, I think it helped me in one very specific way.  In addition to rain, I am also scared of going downhill fast.  Well, apparently my fear of braking in the rain is stronger than my fear of going fast because on those big downhills, I just went for it!  I was absolutely going, “fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck” the whole way, sometimes in my head, sometimes out loud, but I did it!

Around mile 10 or 12 Laura passed me.  We yelled encouragement at each other for a few seconds and then I kept her in my sights for a few miles, but eventually she got far enough ahead that I couldn’t see her anymore.

I rolled back into transition and my butt hurt!  and not from having it in the saddle for so long.  More because I must have really worked those muscles hard on the hills.  For the briefest of seconds I wasn’t sure I would be able to run.  But of course I was.  Again, I barely touched anything in my neatly laid out transition area and I took off.  That’s an exaggeration.  I limped out in some sort of shuffle/jog hybrid.  I ran some.  I walked more.  I was just tired.  And I hate running.  So I did what I had to do.  At one point I started my watch and told myself to run for 5 minutes before walking again.  And then I ran for six minutes.  I did that a few more times until the hills got the best of me.  At the really big hill, I crossed paths with Laura.  No, I had not caught up to her.  Are you kidding?  She was way ahead.  There just happens to be a part of the course that has people crossing paths and we happened to be there at the same time. She looked beat.  I can honestly say that I have never seen her look so dang tired.  She usually comes out of any of our training looking no worse for the wear.  Later she said that the run really beat her up.  Well, the run beat me up too.  As I’m sure it did for a lot of the participants.

For most of the run, I was thinking to myself, “you should have trained more, you’re getting what you deserve, this could be easier if you had put the time into training.”  I realize now that this is a dialogue I often have in running races and it really isn’t helpful.  Why beat yourself up when it’s too late to do anything about it?  Why not say encouraging things that make the run seem a little less horrific? Suddenly a weird thing happened in the last mile.  My inner dialogue switched a much more positive tone.  I started thinking about how dang amazing it was that I was doing this.  First, I thought about how I couldn’t even ride a bike when I signed up.  How I had taught myself and learned and how really great my ride had been today.  Then I thought about how amazing it was that a month ago I had been pregnant and unsure about the race and then I had lost the pregnancy and my body still had time to recover and I was doing this.  Did I get as much training as I wanted to? No.  Could I have been faster? Maybe.  Was my body amazing in so many ways for just completing such a task?  Absolutely!  I actually started to tear up at that point and it really helped to propel me to the finish.  ok, truth be told, I’m tearing up again now.

I crossed the finish line, got my medal and met up with Laura and Rachelle.  I heard all about their races and we hugged a lot and congratulated a lot.  Rachelle turned out a fabulous race, all three legs.  Laura really powered through and overcame her fear of the water.  And I did darn well too, if I do say so myself.

Swim Time: 21:16 Pace/100m: 1.57 Place: 126 🙂 T1: 5:20

Bike Time: 1:15:12 Pace MPH: 12.8  Place: 1168  T2: 2:09

Run Time: 43:21 Pace/mile: 12:45  Place: 1206

Total Time: 2:27:18  Overall Place: 908  Age Group Place: 131/208

I was under 2:30 which was my secret goal.  When I finished the clock said 3:15 and I was secretly heartbroken until I remember the clock started at the first wave and we were 45 minutes back from that.  It was overall, really amazing.  So amazing, in fact, that I signed up to do IronGirl Rocky Gap in 3 weeks!  Wish me luck!

3 days away

The triathlon is almost here!  I pick up my race packet tomorrow and I then rack my bike on Saturday.  I feel like this has been goal in the future for so long that I can’t even process that it is here.  I kept saying, “After the triathlon, we’ll start trying for a baby.” Or, “When I do a triathlon…(fill in almost anything here)”.  Well, now it’s here.  I better get my life together in the next few days because it sounds like I’m supposed to have it all figured out come Sunday afternoon!

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(This is me … when I imagine finishing the triathlon.  Seriously, you didn’t think that was actually me, did you?)