Monday, December 30, 2013

Over the off season

I was in Raleigh for the weekend visiting my dad, stepmom, and her mom. It was going to be a short visit so I did not bring my bike. I brought my swim stuff but I knew I would not get up early to swim with RAM (Raleigh Area Masters). Since I opted to drive after work Friday, after the traffic died down on I-77 and I-85, I did not get to my dad's house until late in the evening. I slept soundly and slept in much later than I normally do at home. The house sits in a quiet spot being set back in the woods. It is also located along the Neuse River and at the base of the dam at Falls Lake. Perhaps more important than the location and the key to a full night's sleep, only one cat occupies this particular dwelling. This cat, Dame Edna, is a cat who is not allowed in the bedrooms, especially not the room with the waterbed. Needless to say, I had a great uninterrupted cat-free slumber. I ended up crawling out of bed at 8 and headed to the local coffee shop. Pulling in, I spotted a SUV with a bike rack holding three nice road bikes. I was instantly filled with envy. For that moment I did not care is was only 26 degrees out. Even though I know, if given the option, I probably could not be talked into a ride outside with my limited winter riding gear. I rode the other day when it was 36 degrees and I wore all the gear I had to make sure I wasn't miserable. I wasn't miserable but I was not warm either. I found myself, sitting in the parking lot, simply missing the days of gathering with my friends for hours of riding in the cold, rain, humidity, and/or heat on flat, rolling, and/or mountainous terrains. I felt a small amount of sadness for having done nothing but roll out of bed and pull into the coffee shop. Off season. . . I am officially over it.



Then I walked in and spotted the cyclists. They stood out in the holiday crowd. They were dressed rather normally except they were wearing those stupid cycling caps only hipsters and euro-wannabes wear. All my envy disappeared and I enjoyed a hot coffee with a hint of hazelnut and a swirl of soy milk while tapping out this blog post. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

I did not make this! But I enjoyed a few great meals out

Since December is my birthday month I let myself get a little spoiled this year. I had the opportunity to dine at Fern Flavors, not once but twice! There is a lot to love about Fern. I really like the ambiance with live plants on the wall and with furniture made of natural materials. They serve cucumber water which is a nice touch and always refreshing. All of their dishes are vegetarian, most can be prepared vegan, and a lot of them happen to also be gluten-free. A little something for everyone, except for Hal Cobb and James Haycraft. The two meals I had where night and day, both were good but one was great.

The appetizer:
IMG_1907

We ordered the “nosh sampler” and I selected the spiced olives, ginger-scallion hummus, and kimchi. I hate when people use the word “nosh” but I am trying not to hold it against them. The slices of pumpernickel? were very good. I am not sure exactly what kind of bread they use but it is sweet, savory, and smooth.

The Fish and Chips:

IMG_1701

The fish and chips can also be called “ginger fried tofu.” Large strips of tofu were fried in a ginger batter and served over a bed of spicy potatoes. The lack of color on this plate pretty much sums up my enthusiasm for this meal. The potatoes were too spicy for me or it just wasn’t a good flavor pairing. The tofu was really good but three large pieces were just too much of a good thing. I think they would have been better if they were served over something lighter than the potatoes. I could not decide what to order and this is where I ended up. They offer so many amazing meals I suggest opting for something a bit more vibrant.

The Miso Glazed Tempeh:

IMG_1872

Amazeballs. This meal is incredible. Several slices of tempeh were piled on top of a rice cake and topped with an edamame salad. This is so incredibly good it makes the ginger fried tofu look stupid. The dish is also incredibly filling but it is a lot more nutrient dense which is what I used as my justification for totally overeating.


I have had so many great meals recently I am going to have to make another post!

. . . well I‘m at least excited.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Caturnalia: Complex Relationships


IMG_1651
Coda and Cali don’t really like each other.

IMG_1652

Their body language says it all if you ask me.

IMG_1654

Maybe I am wrong.

IMG_1656

Errr, nope. I am right.

IMG_1658

Friday, December 20, 2013

I made this! Easy Vegan Cream of Mushrooms and Cauliflower popcorn

Like I said, I have been on a cauliflower kick lately. It is being featured in all the blogs I follow so hard to give a few of the recipes a try.

Vegan Cream of Mushroom
I had a package of mushrooms in the refridgerator I needed to use. I can't remember why I bought them so I decided to whip up a quick soup. I used this recipe for inspiration but I was not interested in consuming a raw mushroom soup

- one package of white button mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- one small yellow onion
- two cloves of garlic
- 1.5 cups of unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or other thickener (as needed)
- salt and pepper to taste

I chopped the onion loosely and sauteed it in some olive oil until it was translucent and starting to brown. In the mean time I chopped the mushrooms, stems included, and threw them into the pot to sweat. I tossed in the garlic, chopped of course, covered the pot and waited for the mushrooms to cook and release their moisture. I added the almond milk and allowed the soup to heat back up to temperature. I added some cornstarch just before I used my immersion blender to "cream" the soup. I topped mine with nutritional yeast.  The first night I ate it, the soup seemed a little too sweet but by the second night the flavors blended much better.

Mushroom soup, cauliflower popcorn, and some bagel chips

Cauliflower "popcorn"
First of all there is nothing popcorn about this recipe. It is just roasted cauliflower. People are trying to popularize vegetables. I mean I get it. "Cauliflower popcorn" sounds a lot more appealing than "roasted cauliflower" but when prepared correctly any vegetable can go from good to great, even brussel sprouts. Just  gotta give 'em a chance!

- I bag or head of cauliflower chopped into florets
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- any desired spices (I used nutritional yeast but garlic power or hot sauce would also work)
- salt and pepper to tasted

I just tossed the florets in olive oil and then nutritional yeast and coarse salt. I baked everything at 425 degrees until the florets were browned and slightly crispy.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Caturnalia: Smudge

Smudge was the first cat I adopted. I somehow survived working in a cats only vet clinic but I switched clinics and when she was dropped off my will power melted. There was just something about her . . . .  She is the alpha cat of my little colony. She leads with a quiet confidence keeping most of the other cats in line with just a look. Cali, however, receives a little more than look on occasion.




Friday, December 13, 2013

I made this! (Red) Curried Cauliflower Soup

Soup, especially in the winter, is my go to. I can make a huge batch of it and basically have lunch, dinner, and several side dishes set to go for the entire week. I usually prefer heartier-meal-in-a-bowl soups but a good soup is a good soup regardless! I have been seeing a lot of people cooking with cauliflower lately. It must be the "it" vegetable this season. I have come across mashed cauliflower, cauliflower steaks, cauliflower popcorn, and several cauliflower soups. When I came across this recipe on Cookie + Kate for a Curried Cauliflower Soup I had to give it a try. The ingredient list is simple with a flavor profile focused on cauliflower, red curry and coconut milk.

I ate it all before taking a picture. Oops.
I basically followed the recipe as it was written however I did make some changes on impulse:

  1. I used 2 cups of veggie stock. I used canned veggie stock. The can held about 2 cups. I was not about to have 1/2 a cup of veggie stock sitting in the fridge so I just used the whole can and cooked it longer. 
  2. I did not measure out the red curry. I just used half of the 4 oz "Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste" jar. My tablespoon did not fit in the jar so I guesstimated. Yes, I am that lazy. 
  3. I did not save any cauliflower for garnish so I threw it all in. I ain't got time for garnishes when I am trying to stuff my face
  4. I skipped the basil too. See #3. 
  5. I did purchase the rice vinegar. I am not sure what I am going to do with the rest of it but it was less than $2 at Target. Honestly I think (key word "think") you can skip the rice vinegar and just juice the lemon instead of zesting it to add some acid to the recipe. 
  6. I used my immersion blender to smooth out the soup. Maybe I did not chop the cauliflower small enough but next time I will use a blender. The pieces of cauliflower just don't float into the immersion blender like the onions do.  

I came across another Curried Cauliflower Soup using green curry instead of red curry if you want to mix it up. Let me know which one you like better!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

So it was my birthday . . .

Yesterday was my birthday. Yep, 34 years have passed . . . I am not sure where they went as I do not feel 34. My life feels vibrant, alive, colorful, and full of energy. When I was in my early twenties, I did not anticipate my mid-30s would feel like this. I will confess not much has changed for me. Yeah I live in a new city but I am still swimming (just like when I was a wee one). . .

meswimmingyoung

I am still triathloning (just at a slightly different level) . . .


And I still cuddle cats (my own and borrowed ones) . . .



When I returned from Cozumel (more about that little trip later), there was a pile of boxes on my front door step. I patiently waited until my actual birthday to open them. It is interesting how when you look at the gifts you receive from your friends and family, you get a pretty good snapshot of your personality.

- A Pumpkin Spice Vegan cupcake
- A 20oz bottle of organic hard cider
- New front brake which will make my P2 “as fast as it can get”
- Catwoman pez dispenser
- A race entry
- Some super soft jammies with kitties
- A worm composter for my organic refuse
- And a handful of cards, each depicting a cat

Yep, that pretty much sums me up! Thanks to everyone who remembered me on my special day!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Caturnalia: Mimi

Mimi is incredibly hard to photograph. I think all black cats are but she has this cute white hilteresque mustache I have yet to capture. Here are a couple of my most recent efforts.


She has always been shy but her confidence grows daily.


She is a little sun worshiper.


Mimi always has sad eyes . . . 


But she is probably my most playful kitty.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Caturnalia: Cali

Meet Cali: 
(Creatively named after her calico coloring)



She is my only talking cat. She always has something to say and will make sure you hear it.


Cali really likes me. She does not like anyone else. Just me. My other cats don't like her much. Smudge has finally stopped beating her up, Coda can't stand to be near her, and Mimi tolerates her when it is cold because she is fat. 



She also has health issues and is on a special diet. She is a pig so I have to feed everyone her special $65 a bag cat food. Ugh.

Friday, November 29, 2013

I made this! Vegan Pecan Pumpkin Scones

One of the blogs I follow posted this recipe, Pumpkin Pecan Scones. I have been looking for a vegan scone recipe forever. I have come across several but they all have funky ingredients I am just not interested in purchasing. I have been more adventurous in my ingredient purchases ever since I discovered Healthy Home Market's bulk spices and accoutrements but there are still somethings you can't buy in super small let's-just-see-what-happens-without-breaking-the-bank quantities. When I saw this recipe I had to give it a try. I had all the ingredients on hand, except for pecans, and the pictures on the blog make these look fantastic. 

I followed the recipe to the T. I over toasted the pecans, I guess because my oven does not heat evenly or maybe I just overcooked them. I am not sure. I used cold coconut oil instead of butter. My pastry cutter did not do a great job of cutting the coconut oil into the dough and I was left with large chunks I had to break by hand. The recipe for the icing made more than I needed for the scones I made so I whipped up a batch of these GF pumpkin pie poptarts and topped then with the remaining icing. I probably would not have eaten them if it weren't for the icing. So far with my experimenting with GF cooking, I have only made one thing super stellar. I am still a work in progress.

Vegan, delicious, and perfect with a hot cup of coffee on a cold morning

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Normal

So after Rev3 Florida, my coach presented me with the biggest challenge yet. He told me to be "normal" for 7-10 days. Normal!? For the seven days I managed to do nothing. By Thursday I was itching to swim or hit up a yoga class but I convinced myself I could wait a few more days. For the first seven days I did a whole lot of nothing and I can tell you first hand I did not like it. Several days I stayed late at work to finish up a couple of cases. Staying late at work, meeee? Ugh. On the days I did not stay late I ended up sitting in rush hour traffic at prime time when I could run the three miles home faster than I could drive. A couple of mornings I actually dried my hair with a blow drier and even styled it if you call brushing it into place "styled." I did more cooking at home having prepared breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week in advance saving my meals out for more "special" occasions. I casually stopped into a store after work to buy shoes, twice! And to top it all off I even did a shot of Tequila. It took me about 15 minutes to gather the courage but I did it. Being normal is abysmal.

But on the flipside, without a long bike ride to do, I did get a chance to spectate and cheer at the Thunder Road Marathon here in Charlotte. I hopped on my sweet purple and green single speed (courtesy of the Caamanos) and rode over to meet Ross and Tim at the Starbucks on East Blvd. After a brief moment to caffeinate, we rode down to the run course just as the lead runners came through. We cheered for a bit and then rode off to catch up with the man of the hour and new dad by just a few hours, Johnny Scoots. I can tell you, without a doubt, no one had an entourage quite like Scoots. 

.

I think I ended up riding about 2 hours Saturday so I decided to take Sunday off. Oh yeah, it's like that! When Monday morning rolled around I was eager to hit the pool. I was eager to do pretty much anything (expect maybe run a marathon). I told myself I would just go and splash around. I also told myself I would not lead the lane and I would not work hard. I can tell you from the bottom of my heart that I tried. I really tried but I slowly made my way up to the front. We ended up doing some speed work and a 100 for time. I gave it a good effort and surprised myself with a :57 which is fast for me. My lack of sprint speed in the pool has been a huge weakness all summer. It was nice to finally find some speed. It only took a week of taper and a full week of recovery. Geez.

Tuesday I decided to hit up Moga Charlotte for a session of deep stretch work. I have heard lots of great things about Moga in the community so I am really interested in trying out some of their classes. On Tuesday mornings they offer a $5 deep stretch session and I figured it would be a nice way to ease in to it. Wrong. There is no easy way to relax into a deep stretch when it is 6 AM and you have done no stretching for months. I was shocked by my lack of flexibility but it ended up being a nice practice in letting my expectations go.


Wednesday I was back in the pool and fighting the urge to do sneak in a second workout. Maybe a run? Just a nice little short run? I didn't sneak in anything but some couch time.

Thursday morning I went back to Moga. My experience Tuesday was good enough to go again. The class was again at 6AM but I felt so much better than I did two days before. I ended my Thursday with my first Thai Yoga massage. It was incredible and I am eager to share more about the experience. It combines a little bit of stretching with a little bit of body work. It was intense and I hope to sometime soon to blog in detail about my experience. I felt great after the massage but when I got into the pool Friday morning I felt a little off. In swimmer's lingo, "my feel for the water was off." My stroke count seemed to have decreased and I felt a huge pause between each stroke. My approach to my turns was awkward as I would take my last stroke a little too far from the wall and I was forced to kick it in. I dunno if I was feeling fatigued or just really well stretched but I definitely felt different. Luckily, by the time the main set rolled around, I was feeling better. Good thing because the main set just might be my new favorite:

10 times through of the following:
100 on 1:10
50 on 1:10

James actually mentioned the set to me earlier in the week. Apparently he did a similar set about this time last year. Not willing to be left out of such awesomeness, I jotted the set down and I may or may not have casually dropped the set into the lap of Johnny Tango. Despite feeling "off" I was swimming really well and holding a pace faster than what I thought I was capable a month ago. Granted I do not get very many opportunities to swim well rested but at least I am enjoying it while it lasts. I topped my Friday off with a slow vinyasa class at Moga and planned my weekend around a nice and easy bike ride behind the airport.

My attempt at a video ended up in this picture so enjoy. 

Ahhh, now I feel normal again . . . . (sorta).

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Caturnalia: Coda

Meet Coda:

He was found in Charleston. He is very fluffy and extremely friendly. I had him boarded a couple of years ago when I bought my house in Charlotte. The owner of the facility swears he is part Norwegian Forest Cat. With his coat and disposition, I am beginning to agree.


Friday, November 22, 2013

I made this! Artichoke Hummus

For a very long time I was adamant that making hummus at home was neither cheaper nor easier. But then I bought a Nutribullet, and a blender, and I made Chloe’s white bean dip. These three actions gave me the confidence to make more dips at home, including hummus. I was craving hummus the other day so I decided to give another hummus recipe a try and I got lucky. I do not often get lucky when I improvise but I am patting myself on the back for this one.  I happened to have all the ingredients for this artichoke recipe but I got lazy. I had a jar of Trader Joe’s marinaded artichokes in my pantry so I dumped it and half of its liquid in the blender with the other ingredients, except the olive oil. The marinade had enough oil so I figured I would skip adding additional oil. I reserved some of the additional marinade in case it was too dry after blending. Topped off with an additional dash of coarse salt and we have perfection! The marinade not only supplies some of the yummy fat needed in a good hummus but it also supplies a little more depth to the flavor. It made enough to fill two 10oz containers so I definitely got my money’s worth.

Artichoke Hummus

  • 1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1 can artichoke hearts
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic (I think I used 3 small ones)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
I used all the artichokes and 1/2 the liquid
Then I got crazy and decided to make my own chips to go with it. I got some Ezekiel wraps from Healthy Home Market. I brushed two with olive oil and sprinkled them with a mixture of fine salt, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast. I used a pizza cutter to cut them up into bite size pieces before toasting them in the oven at 450 degrees for five minutes or until well toasted but not burned (ok a little burned).

This post was motivated by this website.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rev3 Florida: Part 3 - The Aftermath

My initial plan was to wrap up my Rev3 Florida series with a review of the race itself but now that I am faced with that task I have very little to say about it. Florida was my first experience racing in the Rev3 series. I went to Rev3 Williamsburg and I was impressed but my opinion of Rev3 grew exponentially when I actually got the chance to race in an event. As a production team they do a lot to create the pomp and circumstance you might find at a Ironman event but they retain the casual friendliness you might find at your local triathlon. Without further ado, let's get to the bullet points you all have grown to love:



Meeeeeeeeeeeee

  • The expo was fun, relaxed, and a lot less stressful than the WTC events I have attended. I don't know about you but whenever I go to a packet pick up at an Ironman brand event I leave feeling less fit than when I walked in. I want to go back to the hotel, put on a pair of florescent compression socks, the race shirt from my last big event, white sunglasses and a trucker hat. Can someone pleeeease get me a trucker hat? (not really) I also feel the need to skip my next three meals, bust out as many push ups and planks I can muster, and pound the latest must-have-pre-race-super-booster. Just me? Awkward . . . 
  • The volunteers were great, super friendly, and a lot of fun. The Rev3 staff was the same way. They looked like they were having a great time and that really set the tone for the rest of us. There was an easy of flow as we picked up our bib numbers, goodie bags, and timing chips. The volunteers, staff, and expo participants were all happy and engaging. 
  • Race morning parking was a little slow but there was plenty of it and right across from transition. It is hard to complain about that kind of accessibility. It is our fault we did not get there earlier. 
  • The swim course was well marked. The sighting buoys were cylindrical and yellow. The turn buoys were red triangles. They were easy to spot and made navigating a breeze. The mens' and women's waves did not have a uniform swim cap color which I thought was a bit odd. My wave consisted of mostly white caps with a sprinkling of yellow caps with the miscellaneous orange and green cap. Intriguing . . . 
  • The bike course was a little awkward and not my favorite. It was very flat and composed of several out and backs. There were a couple of U-turns (none of which were particularly tight) but one of the turnarounds went through a parking lot. It was odd. Functional, but odd. The end of the bike course snaked through a neighborhood. I did not particularly care for that just like I did not during the Carolina Half. While racing on highways is not particularly "safe" they are at least predictable. Neighborhoods, on the other hand, are not. Dogs, kids, walkers, someone dude backing out of a driveway . . . lots of potential for someone not paying attention. 
  • The run was great. I was a 3+ mile out and back we did twice. Most of it was on a paved trail by the beach. It was not congested and the course had a lot of support. I enjoyed watching the race unfold in front of me but I especially enjoyed seeing and cheering for several familiar faces. 
  • Since the Olympic and the Half were going at the same time on the same course I can imagine it was confusing for both the spectators and the racers. However, the volunteers did a good job of making the right group go in the right direction.
  • The finish line was great. Lots of spectators, a bouncey castle for kids, food, and even beer. Yep, you read that right. Every finishers is entitled to two free beers. I donated mine to my biggest fan and super spectator.
Finish line selfies
The only negative thing I have to say about Rev3 concerns their online tracking system. It seems, no one and I mean no one, in the triathlon world has a stellar online tracking system. Major marathons seem to have complex tracking systems, don't they? Why is the technology lagging in triathlon? Expense? Wear and tear? Well I do not have the answers but I know the online tracking system for Rev3 is too complicated to have any idea of what is going on out on the course. Even when I pull up the results, I have to take a moment to decipher what I am reading. And even then I have to pull up the results in two different formats to get all the information I am trying to find. Luckily, results stalking and online tracking I can do in the comfort of my own home. If I had to choose between a better tracking and results system or a fun, safe, and well run race I would pick the latter.

I had already started thinking about my 2014 race season prior to going to Florida but I had such a great experience I have decided to change what was going to be a WTC dominated season and instead weigh my 2014 season heavily with Rev3 races. Now if they would just announce the date of the new race in Mexico . . .  



Ok, ok, this concludes my Rev3 experience. No mas!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rev3 Florida: Part 2 - The Race

I had such a great time hanging with my homies pre-race that I felt fairly calm waking up race morning. I approached this race with very few expectations. I know I am a good swimmer but how do I compare to these really fast chicks? I am getting stronger on the bike but am I strong enough? Could I hold my own for the run? I did not have the answers to these questions. I just had the desire to utilize my current fitness to the best of my ability and to learn from the experience my weaknesses and the areas which need the most improvement. 


Race morning
The guys and I got up with plenty of time to spare. The van was packed so we were more or less ready to go. I went downstairs to get my first cup of coffee and people were already heading out to the race. It was 5:15. I should have picked up on this but at the time I was just going through the motions. I was fixing my coffee and chatting with another participant when she saw my number and exclaimed, "You're the number of love!!" Wait, what? Apparently my bib number "143" is the number of love. I never heard that but when I mentioned in back the room Ross knew exactly what I was talking about. Urban Dictionary knows what's up


"I love you"
The last thing the woman said to me was, "With a number like that there is no way you won't have a great race." Yeah, yeah you're right. She got me pretty excited for what was waiting ahead for me. We left the hotel and were promptly greeted with a long line of cars waiting to park at the race site. Suddenly our arrival cushion was dwindling quickly and we were downright late. To add insult to injury James and I both got flat tires. We had less than 20 minutes! WHY!? The inside mechanism of my valve pulled right out when I finished pumping the tire leaving me with an instant flat. I am pretty sure I changed that sucker in less than 2 minutes, what up!?!. At least I got my blood pumping. I ran over to transition, set up my space, threw on my BlueSeventy PZ3TX, and jetted off to the beach for as much warm up as they would allow me. Geeez, so much for a relaxed race morning.


I don't lock my knees. Nope, not this girl.

Swim (26:11, 2nd)
Like the Carolina Half, the swim was a beach start. This was my first start alongside a group of females which very different than starting alongside the dudes at the Set Up races. When the gun went off I was a little slow to start but I caught up quickly as I entered the water. Good thing I did all that practicing the day before! Luckily for me, or my lack of grace, the tide was a bit higher so I did not have to negotiate the sharp beach/ocean floor angle. After two dolphin dives and two freestyle strokes I was already breaking away with the lead pack. The swim course was by no means the typical rectangular shape. The first turn came quickly and we were still a little congested. I came into the turn dead on while everyone else cut in from the side. With a little extra kick I was able to break into some clean water coming out of the turn. Jennifer Spieldenner also made a move and broke away by a body length. I debated bridging the gap or hanging back. In retrospect I wish I bridged the gap. All I needed was a 10 second sprint and I would have been on her feet but since it was so early in the swim/race I held back. I swam behind her for quite some time but I lost her when we started to catch the pro men. The back of the pack pro men do not swim in a straight line (correlation?). I was amazed at how all over the place they were. I even got caught up with one guy who swam into me at a 90 degree angle. The collision caused me to lose sight of Jennifer's bright green cap as she tucked into a pack of dudes. 2/3 into the back stretch I catch a glimpse of a very familiar stroke and breathing pattern. Who cares if I was just ahead of Ironman legend Meredith Kessler and Rev3 Series leader Lauren Goss, I caught James MF Haycraft, woot woot! I am pretty sure I heard him moan as I quickly passed, hehehehe. I wanted him to jump on my feet, like he does sooooo often at swim practice, but he just kept looking at me with that eye of his. The sighting/passing/crushing gave me the little boost I needed because I had started to slow down a bit ever since I lost sight of Jennifer. I was feeling good and continued to pick up the pace closing into the last buoy and finish. I had a lot of energy left in the tank which is why I regret my decision to not close that gap in the beginning. Not surprising to most of you at this point, my exit from the water was less than graceful (@0:44 my foot sunk in the sand sending me to faceplant town). My mom told me I popped back up so quickly no one even noticed. Thanks mom! Nothing to see here folks . . . 


Nothing to see here but total domination (sorta but not really)
T1
Meredith and Lauren passed me handily during the run into transition. I thought I was doing ok but by the time I got on my bike they were gone.

Bike (2:26:59, 6th)
I started the bike course a little too excited. Everything was just so, so exciting! I was stoked I was 2nd out of the water and now I had this super flat course to navigate under the stagger rule. Rebecca Wassner passed me pretty soon out of transition; I tried to keep her in my sights but I quickly realized I was working much harder than I was comfortable. I was trying to dial it back when James rolled by. Some people receive encouraging remarks from their teammies. I just got a very huffy "damn you" from James. He rolled on but my content smugness lasted for several miles. All was quiet on the Florida front until Malaika Homo passed me. She passed me on an overpass like I was standing still. Florida is pretty flat, flatter than White Lake flat, so I tried to hang behind her and entertain myself with the Rev3 stagger rule. Rev3 has a rule for the pro waves in which every rider must staggered to the right or left of the rider in front of him/her. Most of the time everyone's position on the road is stable but when a pass is made everyone shifts to the right or left. It is like a dance; a somewhat fun but slightly painful dance. She developed a pretty good gap in me but eventually I caught up to her. Unfortunately when I finally did, I also lost a water bottle on a bump. WHY!? I lost the bottle on the beginning of an out and back so I did not stop there to get it. I crossed my fingers and hoped it would still be there when I came back through. I mean, why wouldn't it? I slowed down a little bit just in case because I was an hour out from the next aid station. On my way back out, a volunteer had located my water bottle and was guarding it. I stopped to grab it and thanked him profusely. Like I said, the nicest people live in Florida! I then set my sights on catching back up to Malaika. 10 miles out from the finish I made my only pass of the day. I was feeling pretty good so I put in a little extra effort to create a gap. 


This picture is mostly of a volunteer but I'm in here somewhere.

T2
Creating a gap on Malaika was a complete waste. While I made it into transition before her, I didn't even have one sock on when she ran out. Lesson learned: former ITU pros have sick transition times.

Run (1:36:00, 9th)
I left transition feeling fresh. My only agenda for the run was to stay calm for the first 1/3 and pick it up from there. Unfortunately calm felt too good . . . and too slow. With no initial cramping and a rock solid fuel plan I was feeling pretty good. I tried to keep calm but for the first 10K I was rattling off each mile just like the last one. The run course was a flat four mile out and back which was super cool. I got to see James, Ross, Sylvain, and Matt Wisthoff multiple times but I also got to the see the race play out for the top three men and women. Unforunately I needed to stop watching and start running as round mile 9, the pace I had been holding disappeared. I felt fine and did not feel like I was laboring an harder than before but by the time I got to miles 10 and 11 there was just no turn over in my legs. At the last turn around I was 3 miles from the finish and 1 minute up in 8th place. It was not a good time for me to be slowing down. I still felt great but when I got to the next mile marker I knew I needed to pick it up. At mile marker 12 my pace had not improved and with less than 2 minutes to the finish I was passed by Jackie Arendt. Going through her blog just now I saw she won Ironman Wisconsin, so ok keeewwwwwl. 


Credit to triathlete.com
Final 4:32:58, 9th
Half ironman PR, 56 mile bike PR, and 13.1 triathlon PR. 9th at my first pro race and a $500 paycheck. Overall, I am pleased with my performance. I wish I had a little extra to finish off that run but I just ran out of juice. While I am happy, I am not satisfied. I am now hyper aware of the areas that need improvement. At a certain point races like these stop being about fitness and start being about the little things. I still hope to make some fitness gains in the swim, bike, and especially the run but I need to also start to concentrate a bit more on the little things. There is a lot of free speed out there for the taking and I am about to get greedy.

Nina Kraft, Me, Malaika, Jennifer Spieldenner 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Rev3 Florida: Part 1 - The Travel

For those of you who may have missed it, my previous blog entry was not written by me. It was written by James Haycraft as if he were me. I sent James a message the other day saying something like "Hey buddy, I have this great idea. Why don't I write your blog as you and you can write my blog as me." While I was excited about the prospect, I kinda expected him to poo-poo the idea immediately. I made the suggestion because I feel like I have a good handle on the essence of James Haycraft but apparently I don't. I was wrong about him poo-pooing my idea and within the hour he had mine written and was laughing manically. (Wait, wasn't this my idea??) Some of our mutual friends awarded James the victory in our little battle of the blogs but they are all wrong. WRONG I TELL YOU! Oh well, it was a fun way to mix it up.


James Haycraft, self titled -written by me as James
The way I see it -written by James as me

The blog was a nice distraction since I was in full taper mode and staring down the barrel of my last race of the year and first race competing as a professional triathlete. Now that I have filled in the back story, let's get on with the show!

But after you take a moment to enjoy this cute picture of my cats:




Rev3 Florida: Part 1 - The Travel
Friday morning Ross and James met me at my place so we could pack the sweet van James rented for the trip and head out. The drive went by rather quickly and I spent most of it reading Tim's epic blog post about Ironman Florida aloud to the boys. Otherwise the drive was uneventful and as we made our way south I watched the temperature gauge slowly climb from 54 degrees to 80. When the temperature hovers around and above 80 degrees, I am in my happy place! We did not dilly-dally on the road managing to make to Venice with enough time to check into the hotel and hit packet pickup before it closed for the evening. Arriving to Venice I was blown away by the beauty of it but more than that I was overwhelmed with how happy and friendly the residents are. While the average age of Sarasota County is on the higher side of the spectrum, the community is vibrant and beaming with energy. In fact, the next morning on our way to do a little pre-race SBR I came across the very highlight of my trip. This guy:



And his cat, Festus:



Suddenly my life was full of purpose. THIS IS MY DESTINY! I was so excited about coming across this man that I barely remember our short jog along part of the course. Unfortunately I was blown off the little cloud I was floating on when I went to take the bike for a short test ride. The wind had really picked up and I was being blown all over the road. I suddenly got really nervous about the race. I hunkered down on my bike and reminded myself if I could make it through Kona I can make it through a little Gulf breeze. 


Please ignore my ridiculously good looking travel partners
and check out that wind!
With the run and bike in the bag it was time to play in the ocean so we made our way down to what was the swim exit of the race to practice our beach starts and test the strength of the current. The slope of the sand into the ocean was steep so it met the ocean floor at a pretty hard angle. The result? A couple of belly flops and face plants. It was entertaining to say the least and a fun way to release some pre-race jitters. James did a good job of summing it up with his video. He thinks he is sooooooooooo funny. 

We wrapped up our revelry at the race site, grabbed some lunch, and took in a matinee movie (the new Thor, totally my idea btw). All in all it was the perfect pre-race experience. 


Hoping NormaTec will bring my legs to life after the long drive
Up next: Rev3 Florida: Part 2 - The Race

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The way I see it . . .


Well, this update was originally intended to be a training update.  Unfortunately, my cats had other ideas.  To be honest, it's an issue sometimes being loved TOO MUCH.  I wouldn't go so far as to say it's annoying, but the amount of affection I get from my passel of pussies is just beyond belief.  

The sweetest cat on the planet

Everybody knows the drill at this point: it's a hard knock life of petting cats, baking baked goods, stroking the ego of James Haycraft, and #GTWD on the SBR side of things. I train a lot, but don't brag about it quite as much as the Pro.  We all need validation, but I most frequently find my own personal validation in the form of a little furball rubbing up on my leg and begging to be scratched, petted, played with, snuggled with, fed, cleaned, walked, etc. 

Waiting, not so patiently, to be fed

Sometimes I have dreams about racing and the trials and tribulations my "workout" side of life brings me.  But more often than not, I dream about grass plains with gentle breezes and my cats - and all other cats of the free world - having an unrestricted place to play, eat and poop free from the oppression of non-cat oriented minds. 

Smudge sun bathing

I recently saw an episode of National Geographic where this lady in California had taken in over 700 stray cats from the local shelter. She even created a "senior living center" and nursery but for cats.  Some might think that sounds crazy, but I personally think that sounds heavenly.  A lot of little buddies just running around and always being there for me while I workout, clean, eat, pamper, pet, scratch, itch, and all other forms of self/cat-love.  



If I had to list priorities in my life, I'd say they go somewhat like this: 

1) Take care of my cats
2) Swim better than others
3) umm, that's all I've got

The priorities often trickle into my daily life, which goes something like this:

5:00am - wake up with three cats on me, keeping me warm and comfy
5:00 - 5:30 am - pet cats, lay in bed, check instaram, maybe #instacat picture
5:30 - 5:45 am - pack up workout gear while simultaneously petting cats
5:45 - 6:00 am - leave house while petting cats
6:00 - 6:10 am - drive to pool while playing peppy cat music and hitting potholes
6:10 - 6:15 am - get ready for 6am masters practice
6:15 - 7:30 am - swim 5000 yards like a boss and make fun of the whiny swimmers
7:30 - 8:00 am - get ready for work, eat some kombucha
8:00 - 5:00 pm - analyze fluids, drugs, testify in court, eat, g-chat
5:00 - 5:30 pm - travel to wherever I am going to workout next
5:30 - 7:30 pm - second workout of day, but excited about getting home to pet cats
7:30 - 8:30 pm - travel home, eat, walk cats around neighborhood, pet cats, etc
8:30 - 9:00 pm - sit on couch, prepare next day's food and clothing, pet cats
9:00 - 9:45 pm - try to fall asleep, cats need more attention so pet them more
9:45 - 10:00 pm - halfway fall asleep, but one cat moves so pet it and try again
10:00pm - 5:00 am - sleep soundly, dreaming of cats and swimming domination

Cats on my crap

That's a day of Jenny in a nutshell.  Gotta go get ready for the next one!

akdjflaksjdf;lakfjdas kljhasdi akdf asdfas - Love,  Coda

Peace out

This post was brought to you by James Haycraft.