Saturday, January 31, 2015

Caturnalia: Darkness

When surrounded by darkness always turn toward the light.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Foodie Friday: The Honey Pot Shot

Because I believe coffee is a food group.

I went to Ozpesso the other morning after a run. I wanted something warm and yummy and this did the trick! Is 6oz of espresso with a generous helping of honey and a dollop of frothed cream. Apparently one of the baristas came up with the drink the day prior. It reminded me of the Cuban coffees I drank in Miami. I will definitely be going back for more.

Topped with cocoa

Ozpresso also has one of the best views of the city (in winter anyway). You can sit on the patio and see the buildings rising in the distance. Best view from a coffee shop in Charlotte. 

I blurred the buildings because what's important is the coffee

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

2014 in Review

It is still January so I am still allowed to do a year in review. I cannot say 2014 was a banner year for me but it was certainly eventful. One of the best parts of triathlon is traveling to cities I would not otherwise visit. My year started with a trip to New Orleans and ended with a trip to Miami. 

My first race was the New Orleans 5150. I visited New Orleans with my family when I was kid as a part of my dad's desire to chase American Jazz/Blues greats when we first moved to the states. The drive was long but the arrival to New Orleans was eye opening. The devastation from Katrina is still very apparent. It made it all very real for me. New Orleans reminded me a lot of Charleston, perhaps a slightly more sinister Charleston. The race was my first experience with the 5150 series. Those girls are fast. They all are fast. After the race I enjoyed authentic New Orleans chicory coffee and beignets. Worth the trip.

Love the coffee but I could leave the fried dough.
The 5150 was a very early season race so it was another 2 months before I raced again. I could not resist another chance at racing the Buck Hurley Sprint. I love this race because it raises money for a great cause and because Ester Marsh is the most enthusiastic and positive person I know. I was hoping to beat some of the records I set the year before but they all stayed just out of reach. When Binny caught me on the bike I made a point to try and stay with him. I was feeling pretty good at the end of the ride but opted to hold my position. I missed my bike record by :10.

All smiles post race. 
The Open Water National Championships in Chattanooga were fun but I need I need more body fat if I am going to withstand cold waters and cold air temps without a wetsuit. An IM Chattanooga course preview was organized the same weekend so me and 4 of my ICE teammates headed over to TN for the weekend. It was cold and rainy but it was still a fun trip. I am impressed by Chattanooga and would love to go back to explore the city a bit more.

At the end of May I returned to my hometown to race Ironman Raleigh 70.3. It was fun to see so many familiar faces from my past life there but the highlight was the "Pros Only" porto-potty. If every race had this I would fight tooth and nail to keep my pro card. There are a lot of great things about the Raleigh race but the best part was running through downtown. They shut down all the roads and the course is lined by spectators almost the entire way. I did not do the race the first year but I think the new run course is a vast improvement.

I have a special place for my gel flask. 

The best part of the summer (and every summer) is riding through the NC mountains. As I sit here looking at the rain and dropping temperatures all I can think about is riding in the mountains in the heat of the summer. I do not know what it is about climbing but I crave it. Descending . . . well not so much. 

In July I traveled to OH-IO to compete in my first Challenge race, Challenge New Albany. My mom popped up out of no where several times on the bike course. She did a great job of giving me splits. "15 minutes down from Meredith Kessler!!" Ummmmm thaaaaaanks mom . . . It was a good race but they have some improvements to make. I think once the construction is completed around the transition it will be a much better race venue.

This picture popped up on Twitter (and was not taken by my mother)
I just used race to do what I really wanted to do, ride roller coasters at Cedar Point. 
Over Labor Dav I went hiking for the first time ever just outside of Charlottesville, VA. My 5 year old niece also did the hike. She said she "enjoyed the walk." This kid has been traveled to more countries than I have and has a 30 year head start on her hiking prowess. My brother organized the trip with some former teammates of mine from the days I was on TAR. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with them and reflect on the lifetime bond swimming creates. 

I changed jobs. I took a leap leaving my job at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. I jumped at an opportunity to run the drug lab for the US Probation Office. I did not have a lot of time to think it over but every day I am reminded I made the right decision. Friday I had the honor to meet with the head of the Federal Court System and introduce him to the lab. We have a lot of great things on the horizon and I feel fortunate to be a part of it. 

I needed a late season race and found a cheap flight to Miami. To say I enjoyed Miami is a bit of any understatement. It is a really neat place and I would go back in a heart beat. The first 2 days I was there I did not hear anyone speaking English. Lots of Spanish, Portuguese, French, maybe a little Russian too? It was like being in another world. The race itself had so much energy and the WTC staff was the warmest and most welcoming I have ever come across. While my personal race was a little lack luster I would definitely do this one again. 

Ironman Miami 70.3
And there you have it. I am still working out my plans for 2015 but I am already getting excited about what it has to offer. I am looking forward to thinking outside the box a little more and trying some new races and pursuing some different experiences.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday's Motivation: Fears

Most fears aren't real in the way you think they are. They are just a story you tell yourself and you can choose to stop reading it at any time.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Caturnalia: Muffins

Making muffins is some serious business.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Foodie Friday: FOK Chocolate Pumpkin Bread

I purchased the Forks Over Knives recipe app and this was the first recipe to jump out at me. If you are not familiar with the Forks Over Knives documentary I highly recommend it. It is available on Netflix. It is a short and easy watch getting right to the point of why we should be eating a plant based diet. If you are a committed meat eater is still worth the watch. The documentary isn't a vegan manifesto, it is the story of a scientific journey of how our health is a reflection of the food we eat. 

The philosophy behind FOK is to eat a whole plant based foods with minimal processing. This processing is one of the reasons the diet they advocate does not include oils. When I came across this oil-free recipe I just had to give it a try. I added walnuts which is also a bit of a no-no but I couldn't resist. I like surprises.

The recipe incorporates the use of boiling water at various intervals. I am not sure what the boiling water does but the end product is worth the extra effort. More than likely the boiling water just helps mix the ingredients since there is no oil. It probably helps smooth out the cocoa powder too. 

1/4c unsweetened applesauce
1/3c unsweetened cocoa powder
1.5c all purpose flour
1/2tsp cinnamon
1/4tsp nutmeg
1/4tsp ginger
1/8tsp cloves
3/4tsp baking soda
3/4tsp salt
1/2c pumpkin puree
1c dry sweetner
3tbsp almond butter
1tsp vanilla extract
1/2c chocolate chips or chunks
1/4c walnuts (optional and highly recommended)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a bread pan with parchment paper
  2. In one large bowl combine applesauce and cocoa powder. In another bowl sift together flour, all spices, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Add 1/3c of boiling water to the applesauce and cocoa powder mixture. This makes a smooth chocolate sauce to which you will then add the pumpkin, sugar/sweetner, almond butter, and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
  4. Dump about 1/2 of the dry mixture into the chocolate mixture and mix. Add 1 tbsp of boiling water, mix, and then add the remaining dry mixture. Add 1 tbsp of boiling water, mix until smooth, and add the chips and walnuts.
  5. Spoon the delicious batter into the pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes. 
  6. Let cool and enjoy!

Check out the Forks Over Knives Website for more information and recipes.

I also recommend:
Forks Over Knives
Forks Over Knives Meal Plan
Engine 2 Diet
The China Study

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Caturnalia: Different Day

Different day. Different Chapter. Different Cat. 

Seriously. This. Is. My. Life. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Foodie Friday: BLT

My highlight meal of the week included a trip to BLT Charlotte for lunch. Despite being an upscale dining experience at night and located in the Ritz-Carlton I was curious about the lunch service they offer. The prices were reasonable and the portions were more than generous. My lunch totaled $12 and I actually had to take half of it home in a little kitty bag. I will definitely go there again for lunch and maybe, just maybe, I can convince someone to take me there for dinner too.

Same popovers as you see at dinner

Portobello Panini
Table plant. Why not?

Saturday, January 10, 2015