Monday, June 23, 2008

Utah Summer Games Triathlon

Tom and I participated in the Utah Summer Games triathlon on July 14. We had a great time. I was a very nervous going into it. This was a my first olympic distance tri (1500 m swim, 25 mile bike and 6.2 mile run). I was fairly confident with my running and biking because I had been doing quite a bit of run training and I am pretty comfortable on a bike.

It was the swim that scared me.

I did this tri two years ago, except the shorter distance. And the swim was terrible. I spent 2 days a week training for the swim in a pool, but as soon as I got in the open water, I panicked. It was terrible. I couldn't put my face in the water. I didn't know how to breast stroke, so I had to backstroke and side stroke and basically doggy paddle the whole way. Click here for an article I wrote on that experience.

Anyway back to 2008. this time I was determined to not let the swim freak me out. My swim training this year focused on open water swimming. I went out to the lake once a week with friends and we swam the course, or parts of it, or what we thought was it. The first time we did it, the water was 58 degrees and I could only side stroke maybe 100 meters. The water warmed every time I went and I improved. A couple of weeks before the race, we swam what we thought was pretty close to the 1500 m (according to GIS, it was maybe 1400 m). It took me 40 minutes, slow by most people's standards, but right where I wanted to be and I free-styled 90 percent of it. I figured if I could finish the swim in under 45 minutes, I would be happy.

I was pretty sick to my stomach with wild nerves all morning, but Tom and I got there plenty early, set up our transitions areas, chatted with friends, donned our wetsuits and headed over to the start. (You'll have to wait until Tom posts his race report to hear the details of his race).

Swim - 50:34
I was slow. Actually, I was the slowest. I was the last woman out of the water. (There were two men slower than me, though). The fastest female swimmer finished in 31 minutes. Most women were under 40 minutes. I like to think the course was long, but whatever, I was still SLOW! But I was still happy. I free-styled the whole way. I did not panic. I was not tired. I put my face in the water. So what if I was passed by the flailing, panicking girls. I overcame my fear of open water!

T1 - 1:37
Here's my strength. I can transition with the best of them. I ran up the dock, pulling off the wetsuit asI ran. Got to my bike, ate half a GU. Threw on my helmet and glasses. Hopped on bike (with my shoes already clipped in) and started pedaling, while slipping my feet into my shoes. I need to boast a little here. I had the fastest T1 time. Sorry, but I have make my self feel good after that swim.

Bike - 1:17:56
I felt pretty good on the bike. There was a quick downhill to start, followed by a deceptively steep flat. You think you are on a flat, but you are gradually climbing. Then there is a killer climb. 1 mile long and really steep. The best part about being the last out of the water is that you can only move up. I was passing lots of folks on the ride. My goal was to not let anyone pass me. And I didn't. I just hammered away at the ride and hoped I could catch some people. I ended up averaging 19.2 miles per hour (according to their calculation. My computer said 18.5, but I'll take 19.2). I was very happy with that. the best part of the ride was flying down the hill at 42 miles per hour. If you have never experienced that, you need to. Pure adrenaline.

The timing thing got messed up, so T2 time was added in to the run. I hope it was under 1 minute. I got off my bike, with the shoes still clipped in. Threw on some socks. Slipped on my shoes with springy laces that require no tying. And grabbed a GU.

Run - 51:58 (with T1)
I was very happy with the run. I was just hoping to finish it in under 55 minutes. I didn't let anyone pass me. The hardest part was passing the turn around for the sprint and having to keep going and seeing all the sprint tri folks that are done or almost done. It was very hot, but my legs felt surprisingly good. They were a bit rubbery, but not as bad as past tris. I got water or gatorade at every stop and just motored as fast as my legs would let me. There was a girl that looked like she might be in my age group a minute or so ahead of me. I tried to catch her, but she had a strong last mile. Luckily, she was from out of state and they separate Utahans and out of staters since it is the Utah Summer Games. The finish, unfortunately, is on an incline. I was pretty dang tired, but I did my best down the home stretch.

Total Time - 3:02:06
Good enough for a 2nd place age group finish and 8th overall (thanks to separation of states). Ignore the fact that there were only 27 female finishers. My goal was to finish between 3:00 and 3:10. So all in all, a great race. If only I could learn to swim.

BTW, this is my friend and training partner, Ty. She rocked the course and got 2nd place overall. She swam it in 33 minutes, biked it in 1:21 and ran it in just over 43 minutes.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Stuffed French Toast

For Father's Day breakfast we enjoyed Stuffed French Toast. It was actually very easy to make and scrumptiously delicious. It was very rich, though and much more filling than I expected. We served ours with caramelized apple syrup. Yum!

Stuffed French Toast
1 loaf crusty french bread
6 oz. cream cheese
10 t. fruit preserve (i used apricot jam i made the night before)
7 eggs
3/4 c. half and half
2 t vanilla
1 t. cinnamon

Slice the french bread into 1 1/2 inch slices. Cut a pouch from the bottom of each slice, leaving a 1 inch border around the bread. Stuff each slice with a bit of cream cheese and a teaspoon of fruit preserve. Mix eggs, half and half, vanilla and cinnamon. Dip each slice in the egg mixture, letting it soak 15-30 seconds on each side. Cook on well-buttered griddle. Serve with Caramelized apple syrup or maple syrup.

Caramelized Apple Syrup
3-4 apples, diced
1 c. brown sugar
2 T. corn syrup
1 cube butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cook all ingredients in a heavy skillet till thick and bubbly, about 15 minutes.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Belated Birthday Greeting

On June 2 Eliza turned 4 (I know she looks likes she is 2). We decided this year was just going to be a family party because I spent a lot of time and effort on last year's friend party. But at the last minute I decided to invite the neighbors over for cake and ice cream. The perfect party: no planning, no gifts, and just casual fun and eating.

The snake cake was her idea and came from I wanted to make the sand castle cake, but it the snake shortcake turned out cute.

She was too scared to blow out her candles, so the rest of the kids did it for her. I usually forget the candles on birthdays so she hasn't had much experience with them. We love you because you are so kind to James. You love to play princesses, house, and playmobil. You are a great help in the kitchen. You unload the dishwasher so well. You are opinionated. You are beautiful. You are Porter's best friend. You love to have dad read to you. You love salad.

Happy birthday Eliza!

Happy Father's Day

Just wanted to say happy father's day to my three favorite dads: Tom, Stan and Elbert.
Tom and my dad got to be a little pampered by me on Sunday where we enjoyed some new recipes (recipe posts to follow. think of stuffed french toast, grilled mahi-mahi, grilled new potatoes and apricot upside down cake.)

I am very grateful for the wonderful fathers in my life.

Elbert is such a great dad to Thomas and a super fun grandpa. I think he raised the perfect man. He is such a selfless man. He always looks out for our needs. He is the best pediatrician especially when I don't want to call the real one.

Stan is such a wonderful man as well. I think he did a pretty fine job in raising me and he continues to be such a wonderful part of our lives. I look forward our sunday dinners together and the fun conversations we have regarding running or politics or even the environment. He is such a motivation to me to stay fit. He continues to run and hike every day. He still runs marathons and skis black diamonds in his 70s. I hope to be half as fit as he is when I am 70.

But the best dad in my life is of course, Tom. He is such a great father to our kids. He is so kind, so patient, so fun, such an example, and he even cleans, cooks and rarely complains. I couldn't have asked for a better dad for my kids. And it doesn't hurt that he gave them all his stunning good looks.

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Apricots and more Apricots

I was driving down main street the other day and saw a sign for apricots. I called the number and the man offered to sell me apricots for 75 cents a pound. Fresh, local apricots for 75 cents a pound! I was so excited, I bought 40 pounds. And he will have them for about three more weeks. So, if I use up all of these, I'll buy more. Later in the summer, he'll have peaches, too. I can't wait!

Now I need help figuring out what to do with them. I thought I would make apricot jam and Porter wants to make an apricot cake for father's day.

What else can I do with 40 pounds of apricots?
And does anyone have a tried and true apricot jam recipe, canned not freezer jam?

Reducing my Carbon Footprint, Part II

Another thing we do is a simple one. It takes very little effort and actually saves us money.

Use Less Electricity

It sounds simple and obvious, but how many of us leave our phone chargers plugged in and are still using regular light bulbs?

Here are a few of our electricity saving tips we use:
  • Unplug phone chargers when not in use. They keep using energy when not in use.
  • Have TV and computer and accessories plugged into power strips and turn off power strips at night. 10% of the power is used when they are off, but plugged in, otherwise known as standby mode. And my satellite receiver is always on, unless I unplug it. I compared March and April of 2007 and 2008. I used 5% less electricity in March and 15% in April, this year compared to last year.
  • Use compact fluorescent lights. We actually need to replace the bathrooms and closets with these ones. We bought the bulbs a while ago and yet, they still sit in the closet. And incidentally, these are the lights that are left on the most often.
  • Set my thermostat to 82 in the summer and 66 in the winter. Anyone who comes to our house in winter or summer suffers, but spring and fall are great. My parents, who keep their house at 76 in the winter, wear their winter coats to our house. And we even turn it up to 70 for them. At night, we turn the heat down to 62. And for much of the summer, we use our ceiling fans and open windows at night instead of AC.
What do you do to save electricity and what more could I be doing?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Reducing my Carbon Footprint, Part I

Topics much discussed in our house: global warming. is it real? or is Al Gore just trying to get attention? carbon footprints. what should we do if anything? and man, is gas expensive.

So, we do try do our part some of the time. Here is part I in a series of posts of what we do to reduce our carbon footprint.

Buy Local and Organic.

Buying local I think is more important than buying organic and I wish I could buy local more often, but when the local melons, peaches, apricots, apples come around, I am excited! I can't rationalize the 25 mile drive on a Saturday to Springdale to buy local produce at the Farmer's Market. But I am growing my own tomatoes, peppers, basil, cilantro, and parsley. I wish we could buy farm shares (CSAs) here. If we ever move to a town where that is an option, I will be the first in line to buy a share.

But thanks to Costco, I do buy a lot more organic food. Has anyone else noticed how many organic groceries Costco now carries? Luckily, they have made it easy and cheap for me to buy organic. Here are a few of the yummy organics I love from Costco:
  • Harvest Medley Wild Rice (Really yummy rice with great texture and flavor. And much better for you than plain white rice. Make it with onion soup mix and some fresh herbs.)
  • Kirkland Soy Milk (I prefer the plain, tom and the kids like the vanilla. Even James loves it. We started to buy it as food storage since it is shelf stable, but then we discovered we love it. We drink it by choice now. Tom even uses it on his cereal regularly.).
  • Garofalo Whole Wheat Pasta (This pasta has the best texture for 100% whole wheat. The best I have tasted)
  • Disney Crackers (These are only an occasional treat. They are still pretty expensive).
  • Tree Top Apple Sauce (I discovered last week that Costco's Tree Top apple sauce is now organic. That is in addition to being naturally sweetened.)
  • Raisins (next time I need them I will give the organic ones a try)
What are your favorite organic groceries and where do you get them?
What is better: local or organic?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Our Little Graduate

Yea for Kindergarten Graduation!
Porter's graduation program included the whole school and the whole evening (2 hours is a bit long, when your kindergartener takes part in the first 10 minutes). The bulk of the evening was devoted to some fun music by the 1st through 5th graders.

Ginger was his reading buddy at school. They were they only two in his class who read. So, they got to sit in the reading corner and read together often.

All nine kindergarteners sang "Would You Like to Swing on a Star." The basic gist of the song is go to school or you'll be mule with long ears, who kicks up at anything he hears, has a brawny back and a weak brain. Luckily, that is not our Porter except for the kicking up at anything he hears.

Our perfect little reader. Porter loves reading so much. He goes to bed every night with a pile of books (except for the week he had nightmares books were eating him).

We enjoyed Dairy Queen before and after the graduation.

Sorbet Attempt # 2

So I decided to give sorbet another try. Mangoes were cheap and my kids love them, so I decided to try a mango sorbet. I decided to add pineapple to the mix. It was delicious, but I didn't like the texture. The pineapple was too stringy. So in retrospect, I should have kept it simple. Like most things in my life, I always try to over-complicate things. Next time I will try this recipe. But I do like the pineapple addition, maybe I'll just use pineapple juice instead of the actual fruit.

Mango-Pineapple Sorbet

1 c. water
1 1/2 c. sugar
4 ripe mangoes
1 can pineapple chunks, drained reserving juice
1/4 lime juice

Boil sugar and water to make simple syrup. Cool. Blend mangoes and pineapple in food processor, in batches if necessary. Pour in large bowl. Stir in lime juice, simple syrup and 1/2 cup or more of pineapple juice. Process in ice cream maker.