Sunday, July 31, 2011

Eddy's Sweet Corn Ride

For the last two years, I've had Eddy's Sweet Corn Ride on my wish list for local events. And for one reason or another (or just maybe lame excuses), I've never tackled the event. But this year, I signed up the Mister and he happily agreed (ok, maybe not happily, maybe more like he was resigned to do it). At any rate, we both had a wonderful morning cruising up and down some serious hills. And did I mention that the 25-mile ride we completed was my longest bike ride distance to date. But guess what? I had such fun doing it and found out that I was in better shape than I thought. So that means 25 is going to get crossed out and replaced with 30, 40 and hopefully a 50-mile ride. I couldn't believe how freeing it is to wisk downhill and I even rode down SEVERAL hills without gripping my brakes! And I rode up all the hills...not at a lightning fast speed, but I did it. I rode up one hill with two kids - seriously, they were like 12 and 14. We were a team. And that's what makes these kinds of rides so awesome.

Oh, and I learned to troubleshoot a bike emergency and I succeeded. My gears locked up. And since Greg had flown down the hill, he was nowhere to be found. I pulled over the the side, played around with my chain a bit until I figured out how "those parts work" and before I knew it, I was up and running. And boy did I have a lot of chain grease on my hands. Poor Violet, she looks like she got into a fight with preschool painters!

At the finish line, I asked some random stranger to take our picture. I told him where to tap on my iPhone to take the picture. He was completely insulted (but a good sport) and told me that he actually had an iPhone, too. Oh well, at least he snapped a nice pic of me and the hubs.

The finish line food was awesome - I had the veggie wrap, Greg had the pulled pork and we both had corn on the cob - Mmmmmm. Before departing, we picked up our "to go" ears of corn and sailed back to the parking lot. What a great way to spend a Sunday!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quinoa, Only Yummy

Simple way to enjoy the healthy benefits of quinoa.

Boil 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water (include a tsp olive oil, a little sea salt and a garlic clove). Simmer on low, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes till water absorbed.

Add diced peppers (green, red, habanero or jalapeƱo are good), corn, black beans, 1tbsp cumin, salt, pepper, chopped cilantro (to your tastes), and juice from one lime.

Great either hot or cold. During the winter, I'll even add diced sweet potatoes to the mix. Mmmmm...enjoy!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

We're Not the Only Family with Crazy Travel/Fitness Goals

I stumbled across this blog by accident and so glad I did. Hubs is going to be crazy nervous when he reads what THIS family is up to! I don't want to give away the story, but this family is traveling BY BIKE from Alaska to Argentina! What an amazing adventure with kids. Check out their blog, if you have a little free time. If you're a parent, be sure to check out their "48 Tips for Bike Touring with Kids."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday's Sound Bites

Something new I'm adding to this blog - interesting music running, cycling, or maybe just to have in the background. I found this new artist and I'm loving her sound. Mr. Little Jeans was described as sleigh bells meets Aimee Mann. I was instantly intrigued. I loved her Arcade Fire cover, but enjoyed her cover of Beyonce's Single Ladies. Both are worth a listen. Enjoy :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Congratulations Meg on Your First Sprint Triathlon!

Well, she did it! Meg completed her first sprint triathlon - and with no training. My girl rocks. She sailed through the 1/4-mile swim with a time of 10:26, darn good for someone who was attempting her first open water swim. Good thing she's a high school swimmer in her "other job". I had given her some tips for transition knowing that she would finish significantly faster than me, but I couldn't believe how much of a run you had (with bare feet) between the swim exit and transition entrance. The bike portion was funny. Meg's bike is a Huffy from Target with 7-gears. Now, in spite of this cycling handicap (or as she put it: no carbon fiber!), she still managed to finish the 12.2 miles in less than an hour in 58:26. Her only cycling training was a couple rides with me through the Metroparks after getting a hot dog and ice cream at Sweetwater Landing. Way to go, Pumpkin! The second transition time was much better, although she and I both made the same mistake: knocking over the bike racks! Her run portion was her major weakness because she hates running. How is that possible with me as a mother? Oh, it is. But she never gave up and finished in 42:55. Meg completed her first sprint triathlon in under 2 hours with a time of 1:58:42. Congratulations, Megan! Best of all, she wants to do this again. Now that's my girl :)

This race for me was not meant as a "race", but to do with my daughter. But because I was in a different wave and knew she was a much faster swimmer than me, I ended up improving my bike time. My bike portion was at 15.5mph. Not bad considering I don't have clipless pedals. However, I did tell Greg that it's time for a trip to Century Cycles to get the pedals. They really do make the difference - and I want to upgrade to the Olympic distance. Hmmm...maybe even this summer.

My biggest complaint about this sprint triathlon was their management of the transition area. It was not well protected and visitors were allowed to roam and socialize. When I came back from the swim, a crowd had already gathered at the transition entrance making it tough to get through and find my rack. When I was exiting to tackle the bike portion, I had to yell "coming through." That's not cool. When I came back from the bike, a large group had my rack row blocked and I kept having to say, "Excuse Me" quite loudly to get people to move. My final gripe was part my fault. I listened to a guy in the transition area who pointed me toward the run (he was wrong-my fault for listening) and I ended up by the bathrooms with no signage and had to fight my way through the crowds.

NCN could take a cue from the Mossman Triathlon. The Connecticut race had great security for the transition area. All course markings were spot on. The volunteers kept racers and others away from the entrance/exit points and volunteers were constantly yelling to get you in the right direction. Kudos to Connecticut. Thumbs down to NCN on the transition.

Congratulations, Meg! Now it's time to find a bike with more than 7-speeds!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Swim Lessons, Course Surveillance and Power Outages

Thursday nights should never be this "action-packed." But in the course of 2 hours, Bridget had swimming lessons, my street had a power outage (which lasted a balmy 16 hours), and the girls and I scouted out the bike and run portions of the sprint Tri course. We dined by candlelight eating a nutritious meal brought to us by the fine dining establishment of Chipotle, spent a couple hours at my in-laws house only to get the call that our power was back on, loaded everyone and everything (2 kids, 2 dogs, 2 bags of frozen foods) back into the car, headed back to our casa only to find that the Illuminating Company didn't have ALL the power restored on my street. How does that phrase go - if it wasn't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all!"

And best of all, Cleveland experience record-breaking temps this week, including Thursday! Lucky us!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Oh No, She Didn't

Meg is entering the wicked world of triathlons! As of a few minutes ago, she has committed to her first sprint triathlon - best of all, we'll be racing side by side. She'll kick my arse in swimming. I will hopefully catch up to her during the bike portion. Then we will run it in together to the finish line. Afterwards, we're going to be a part of a large picnic with friends and fellow racers - can't wait! The coffee and conversation after the Sunday race will be memorable. Go Megan Go!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hopscotch is the New Plyometrics

Is there anything more fun than playing outdoor games with your kids? Loved teaching my youngest daughter how to play hopscotch and I had such fun doing it!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I'm Hooked

I just bought my first wetsuit - a 2010 Orca S3 full wetsuit, which is supposed to be ideal for the beginner triathlete. I wore Greg's Team-in-Training wetsuit this past weekend, but it's a bit big in many places and let in an avalanche of water! Plus, I felt like such a poser in TNT apparel without fundraising. I found my new wetsuit at Tri-Zone for a very reasonable price since it was last year's model (as if anyone is going to notice that I'm wearing 2010's fashion!). I figured since I have another sprint tri coming up in a couple weeks, and I would also like to work up to an Olympic triathlon distance, then it's money well spent.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Race Report: Mossman Sprint Triathlon

What a fantastic race experience. This summer is shaping up nicely! I've had a hard time figuring out what to write other than, "I can't believe I did it!"

Setting Up: So funny all the different rituals I observed from other triathletes and yet how relaxed I felt. I knew at this point (you know, morning of the race) that being a wreck would only hinder my swim performance. The biking distance was slightly less than my work commute and a 5K is such a doable distance (hopefully, I won't have lead legs). But swim...well, I needed to keep my cool if I was going to swim a half mile. I got my little space set up and decided to get the lay of the land by paying attention to the swim in/bike out/bike in/run out locations. It's helpful if I actually look like I know what I'm doing! Then I trekked down to the beach to feel how rough the sand and crushed sea shells were and to take a dip in the water. Blech! Salt Water?! I didn't think about that! Next thing I knew, it was time to line up by waves. Then I heard those damning words..."Ladies over 40, get ready!" Are you serious? I couldn't believe he announced our ages! Seriously, "Red caps, get ready" would have been just fine. Perfect even!

Swim. Nice rectangular course. Swim out to the first orange buoy, turn right and swim past three more buoys, turn right again and swim to the shore. Seems simple enough. But wtf, that first buoy seemed a mile away! I'm glad I never had to flip onto my back to calm myself (like Portland) and I managed to keep up my plan of swim 20 strokes, breast stroke to sight, repeat. The plan worked and got me safely to shore in 22:47 - an improvement of 8:03 from my half mile Portland swim!

T1: My hand is bleeding - yikes! Why won't my socks go on my wet feet?! Tell me again, which part of the helmet is the front? Argh - salt water in the mouth is disgusting! Where is my water? And gel - must fuel up. Ahhh, double latte powergel tastes so good and helps remove the salt taste. The hand - damn, still bleeding. Must have been the rough side of the third buoy marker when I made contact. Oh well, get on that bike and ride, girl! Must work on my T1 time in the future - logged in at 3:23.

Bike. Loved this course. As I was leaving transition, another girl yelled at me to hurry up and we could ride together. Cool! I've never ridden with someone else. Red rover, red rover, send Robin right over. We rode up Calf Pasture Beach Road turning onto Gregory and Saugatuck. Beautiful homes - mansions really. The weather was wonderful for a ride - clear skies and low 70s. The bike portion consisted of two loops and I could have pushed harder, but was still pleased with the results. Finished 12.5 miles in 49:41 (15.1mph).

T2. Drop off bike, get some water, pull on my hat (to hide helmet hair!) and get the H-E-double toothpicks out of there. The run was beautiful with a little over half the course along the shoreline. At first, I thought I had cement blocks attached to my feet, but then everything started feeling good because I WAS RUNNING - doing what I love to do. During the bike portion, Gina (my cycling friend)had commented that I must be from the Midwest because I was thanking all the volunteers. The volunteers were just fantastic and I noticed it even more during the run portion. Each time I thanked one, I would hear words of encouragement right back. I swear I smiled through the whole run portion because of all those wonderful volunteers. I didn't feel I was moving very fast, but I sure was hoping to finish in 30-31 minutes. Woohoo - I clocked in a 29:15 run finish.

Post-Race. Loved crossing the finish line. I even threw up my arms in victory! I had so much fun and was so happy with my swim performance that I just wanted to do the Dora dance and sing, "I did it, yeah, I did it!" Grabbed my medal, a banana, water, and went back to the finish line to cheer on Gina. Afterwards, I texted hubs and the girls the good news, loaded up the car with my mess, and headed back to the hotel to treat my girls to breakfast on the waterfront. Coffee and conversation are best post-race!


Sunday afternoon, the girls and I spent a nice couple of hours at the Maritime Aquarium. It's become "our thing" - whenever we travel to a state, we always try to find a nearby Aquarium. The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk was perfect. We got to watch the divers feed the sharks as well as learn all about what's in the Long Island Sound (you don't want to know and I certainly didn't enjoy finding out!), we got up close to sea lions, saw more than 10 different frogs, enjoyed the dinosaur exhibit, laughed with the otters - just such fun! Another tradition is to always take pictures against measuring sticks. We did exactly this about a year and a half ago at the Boston Aquarium and of course here as well. Such great memories!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I Rocked This Sprint Tri

Just checked off the 32nd state and had a wonderful day doing it! Long story short, I PR'd with 22:47 half mile swim (an 8 min improvement), 49:41 bike (15.1mph average), and 29:15 run (9:26/mi pace). With transition times, I finished in 1:46!! So thrilled! Full race report to come in a couple days.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

OWS with Liquid Lifestyles

Tonight I attended an open water swim clinic with instructor Leah from Liquid Lifestyles. Best $20 spent. It was an hour fighting 3-5 foot swells, which terrified me at first. But after listening to her relaxing way of coaching, I actually started feeling more comfortable and found myself really enjoying the water. We practiced running in, dolphin diving, freestyle with breathing from different sides, breast stroke, sighting and exiting the water.

When I first got there and saw the choppiness, I almost ran back the car. Thank goodness I prepaid! So I put my big girl panties on, zipped up my wetsuit and introduced myself to Leah. I'll be going back to the next session in two weeks - it was THAT enjoyable!

I'm not looking to blaze any trails Sunday, but I at least know I'll be better prepared after tonight.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

OWS and a Family Bike Ride

Sunday was a most excellent day spent with my family. The morning started off with my first open water swim in Lake Erie of the year. What drama, too! Megan, my swimmer who doesn't allow excuses, simply wouldn't let me whine my way to defeat. While I stood there ankle-deep in the water, she asked me if I needed my hand held to go further. Hell no, I can do this (a hand might be nice...just kidding). Then when I wasn't moving out there quick enough, she threatened me with her coming in. That's exactly why I brought her with me. This was also my first time in a wetsuit and it just didn't feel natural right away. I found it weird that I floated too much and couldn't get my strokes to work out. When I came back to shore to complain to Megan, she sent me back out and told me to keep trying. Smart advice because the more I went out, the farther I managed to swim and became a little more confident with each stroke. I'm not speedy, no sir, not me. But I found a little rhythm with 10 strokes, take a 2-3 second break, find myself, 10 more strokes. That seemed to work fine for this newbie. But since I do want to get better, I signed up for an open water swim clinic for beginners with Liquid Lifestyles. I'm very excited and hope that the more I get into the lake, the more comfortable I feel.

After a quick clean off, Meg headed to work and Greg, Bridget and I headed out to Peninsula to ride the Towpath. We had lunch at Szalay's Farm - mmmmm Roasted Corn on the Cob and fresh-squeezed lemonade. Picked up some yummy fruits and vegetables, finished off our ride by going out to the Boston Store, then back to Peninsula. Great afternoon logging 12 miles with the family.

Best popsicle EVER!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

My 32nd State - Fun Facts About Connecticut

Lots of excitement due to my upcoming race in Connecticut. First, it will mark the 32nd state for this family. Second, I am signed up for a sprint triathlon - a challenge for me with weak Open Water skills. And third, the girls and I will be making a little pit stop along the way to the Punxatawney Phil Groundhog Zoo to break up the monotony of traveling 9 hours along Interstate 80!

As with most of my races, I try to add a little fun trivia - watered down education, if you will. So, here are a few claims to fame for the great state of Connecticut:

1. Issued the first telephone book in New Haven with 50 names in February 1878.
2. They never ratified the 18th amendment (prohibition).
3. Home of the oldest U.S. newspaper still being published, the Hartford Courant, established in 1764. I'll definitely have to pick one up!
4. Home to the first hamburger (1895), Polaroid camera (1934), helicopter (1939), and color TV (1948).
5. First lollipop-making machine opened for business in New Haven in 1908. George Smith named the treat after a popular racehorse (did not know that!).
6. PEZ candy is made in the city of Orange (but they don't allow factory tours-bummer!).

The biking and running have been going quite well. I've been biking to work and pedaling more/coasting less, which is promising. I've been trying to get in an OWS, but each morning I'm free, the weather has not cooperated. Rain today, so Sunday must result in some valuable OWS time followed by a ride along the Towpath and a stop at Szalay's yummy farmer's market!

Hope your holiday weekend is shaping up nicely, too!

Friday, July 1, 2011

It's One for the Money, Two for the Show

Three to get ready, now go cat go,
but don't step on my blue suede shoes...

My 33rd state will be Tennessee in August as Greg and I run the Elvis Rock and Roll Run - the only race that starts and finishes at Graceland. We'll do the totally cheesy stuff including visiting Graceland, singing Elvis songs or at least having them included in our playlist, eating good ole Memphis BBQ, and hopefully catch some outstanding blues music. I think this 5k race might be a PR, in the sweltering Memphis heat!