Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Yummy Yummm

I love to bake & cook.  More cooking than baking, but it's all food so it's all good to me!  Actually what I'm inpatient with is cookies.  Every 10-12 minutes of going to the oven, taking them off the pan, loading up new ones, etc.  I'm far too impatient for that.  I want to spend time prepping then letting it cook for a chunk of time.  But I do love cookies so I usually break down & make them from time to time.  To compromise I will often make them into cookie bars and call it good for the day.

I looooove making anything that has hidden/secret and/or unusual ingredients in it.  I make it, feed it to people, listen to them marvel at how yummy it is, then watch their face when I tell them what's really in it.  Years ago my mom had this recipe book that was from Campbell Soup that included some sort of soup in each of their recipes.  There was a particular recipe that was tomato soup cookies & it was always a hit when my mom made it.  So naturally when I was all grown up my mom passed that recipe down & I make it quite frequently as well.  It's SO YUMMY and moist, it's amazing.  And you can make it in either a chocolate chip or raisin variety.  I'm craving them now, just thinking about them!  Anyway......

Recently I came across a cookie recipe from a local dietitian that included avocado.  Not only that, but it has no flour or sugar (it uses honey to sweeten it) in it so it comes out to a nice healthy cookie recipe.  Based on my recent obsession with avocados I couldn't pass this one up.  I've made it for several people and it's been a hit, especially with my kids!

Guess I forgot to take a picture of the finished product.  They just look like regular cookies, unless you don't mix/mash the avocado well enough, then you see little green chunks in there.  Personally I think the peanut butter is strong enough that you don't taste the avocado.  Not one person guessed that is what was in there and they all raved about how yummy they were.  Anyway, here is the recipe:

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
2  - ripe avocado, halved, seeded, peeled & mashed
3 - eggs
2 C. peanut butter
1/2 C. honey
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 1/4 C. oatmeal
1 bag chocolate chips

Combine avocado, peanut butter, egg & honey until well mixed.  Mix in oatmeal and baking powder.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Bake at 350 degree for 12-14 minutes (for cookies) or 30 minutes (for cookie bars).


Do you have a favorite recipe (of any kind) that has a surprise, unusual, secret ingredient?  Share, please!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Two for Tuesday's Tunes

Per usual when I disappear it's for a good reason that is best & easiest summed up with I've been very busy!  Things at work hit the fan or maybe the fan was always going, but someone switched it to high for several days!  I'm actually getting really good at not whittling my time away.  I'm having a lot of good productive days!  So, sorry if I neglected le blog, but thanks for being here patiently waiting.

Over the weekend I signed up for my two big spring races.  First up will be the Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon.  I love this race & have done it the past 3 years.  It's mostly flat, but has a few hills tucked in there.  One of the things I love, other than it being a well organized & run event, is the historical markers that you run by.  There are numerous ones.  I wouldn't say I'm a history buff, but running where Lincoln once lived is pretty cool to me.  

Typically the finishers medal is the big giant penny (as seen below) along with the Lincoln statues for the age group winners.
Lincoln & Mary Todd are always on hand afterwords for pictures too!

This year they are celebrating 50 years of holding the race so they are changing things up with a different medal:
It was noted that it's the actual size of a dollar bill.  Some people are bummed about not having the big penny.  Since I have 3 already I'm ok with something different.

My other big race is the Illinois Marathon.  This will also be my 4th running of this race.  It's very flat & another well run event.  Even though I am not an Illini fan I love finishing on the field.  Actually I'm signed up for the full I-Challenge where I run the 5k on Friday night then the full marathon on Saturday.

So this means it's time to get busy & start training.  Which is another post for another day.  Since I need to get ready to go into work, I'll leave you with my playlist from today's run & call it a blogging day!

Do Re Mi - Sound of Music Soundtrack
Every Rose Has It's Thorn - Rock of Ages Soundtrack
What Dreams are Made Of - Hillary Duff
Everything I Do, I Do It For You - Bryan Adams
Miss Independent - Kelly Clarkson
My Jesus I Love Thee - Instrumental
Will You Still Love Me - Chicago
No Good Thing - The Wilds
Tomorrow - Annie Soundtrack
Beauty & The Beast - Celine Dion & Peabo Bryson
Olympic Fanfare - Instrumental
Beautiful - Christina Agullaria
Celebration - Kool & the Gang
This Kiss - Faith Hill
Was It a Morning Like This - Sandi Patti
Rejoice in the Lord - Ron Hamilton
GI Joe - TV Tunes
It's Your Love - Faith Hill & Tim McGraw

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Try Melon Tri - Race Recap

Ok.  Fine.  I'm here.  On ANOTHER snow day with school cancelled.  Ugggggh!  That's a whole other post, so I'll just stop there & do what I know you're all dying to hear about.  My race recap.

This year was the 20th annual Try Melon Tri.  An indoor triathlon that takes place in my hometown of Muscatine, IA.  As stated in my pre-race post this would be my 14th year competing in this race.

On a scale of 1 to 10 on how well I was trained for this race, I'd say I was at about a 7.  Maybe that's too generous.  So 6ish (?)  Yes, I put some training into it, but I can't say I took it that seriously.  It didn't help that the weeks leading up to the race were the same weeks that I had decided to take a huge step back from my running.  Which should have left plenty of room for biking, swimming, etc.  Unfortunately I tend to be an all or nothing person so since I was leaning toward a lot less it often left me struggling on the nothing end of things.  Of course, nothing doesn't seem to be possible for me.  That means it left me on the very little spectrum of things.  Not to mention that I don't necessarily look forward to or enjoy biking or swimming.  I tolerate it.  Use it when I need to.  But it's so boring and just not my thing.  I haven't found that key to making the magic happen with those 2 sports so it tends to lack in my training.

Swim, 1/2 mile, 18 laps/36 lengths in the pool
I have not enjoyed swimming at all lately.  In theory I do, but once I'm in the pool I quickly lose interest and am just not motivated to do much.  I really should try a waterproof player of some sort, maybe that'll help pass the time.  Overall my training has felt sluggish for a loooong time.  Then part way through my race I struggled with my breathing and flip turns.  Luckily for me (because I"m horrible at keeping track) they provide counters that show you what lap  number you are on.  I have no clue why but when the number started showing 11-13-15, etc.  I was getting all excited thinking that was my lap  number and I was thinking "wow, that went amazingly fast, I must be do much better than I realized."  But then I actually realized that was my length number & that I had to get to 36.  Duuuuuh, it's not like I've raced this over a dozen times before.  Swim time:  16:53  I've had better & I've had worse.  I've never swam less than 16 and I'd like to get below that.  However I've come a looooong way from when I first started swimming 17 years ago.

T1:  (for those not triathletes that's getting from pool to bike, it counts as part of your overall time).  I don't have any tri specific gear.  I'd like to, but it's so expensive and since I don't do more than a few tris a year I just haven't taken the time to invest in anything good.  Technically I only have to dry off and put shoes on.  For comfort and modesty reasons that's not an option for me.  I threw on my new Tough Chik singlet (which I LOVE) and a pair of shorts.  They are not my normal shorts that I wear, but I wore them because they are easier to get on and honestly because it matched my top better than my usual black ones.  YES, that matters to me!!  Prior to actual race day I did a few mock run thrus and I tried getting my skirt on that I wanted to wear (and that matched), but that was a royal pain in the rear!  So I did sacrifice some of my own pleasure & desires & went without a skirt (that very rarely happens!!!!)  Socks was another "issue"  You should all know by now that I'm huge on knee high extremely crazy socks.  It's a huge part of 6packmomma/SheRunsEverywhere & my own special individualism that I chose a long time ago.  With the exception of heat (I have a point where I can't stand to wear them) I have my socks on 99.9% of the time.  Yes, the low cut extremely boring white socks would have been much more efficient on time, but I decided to take the extra 10 (?)-20 (?) seconds it would take to get on my knee highs that looked pretty awesome with my outfit.  You may not think that is much time, but trust me seconds is all is takes to keep you from 1st place.  T1 time: 2:17

Bike:  7 miles on a spin bike set as level 10 resistance (no clue how high the resistance goes up to.  it gives some resistance, but not an extreme amount).

From the get go my biking was an issue.  At first I thought it was my seat adjustment.  When you approach the bike you are responsible for setting the seat & handle bar height to your specifications. I knew going in exactly what that setting would be.  It was recommended, though not forbidden, to not move the seat front or back.  It was in a neutral position and messing with it was at your own risk.  I know that I like my forward, but when I got on I resisted spending that time to change it, but once I got cycling & was having major struggles, my first thought was to adjust the seat.  After a few minutes I hopped off and moved the seat.  Getting back on made a huge difference.  Oh yeah, that felt much better.  Ok, so I'm still shaking off the swim & transition waiting for my legs to kick into gear and start flying.  Except it never happened.  My entire bike portion ended up being a huge struggle.  And I knew it.  Ugggh!  Bike time: 21:22  I've done much faster than that in previous years.  Like several minutes faster.

T2:  This is going from bike to run, which doesn't take long at all.  Getting off the bike, running across the gym & on to the track.  T2 time:  18 seconds

Run: 2 1/2 miles/ 40 laps
Of course, I say every tri that I do, they saved the best for last.  Yes, those initial first few minutes are a doozy on your legs that feel like jello, but once I get going mine flow like they do any normal day run.  I'm horrible at knowing my pace & I easily lose track of what lap I'm on (again, thank goodness for the counters they provide) so I just run fast.  Not all out, but a good fast pace.  I let nature take over & I just go!  At one point a good song came on my iPod and I began to fly!  Normally I try not to give into getting caught up with the music, but for as crappy as I had felt for the first part of the race, things were FINALLY clicking and I just went with it.  The kids even told me that "mom, you were running fast, but all of a sudden you was like "zooooom, zoooooom" & going crazy fast".  I pushed hard & felt good the entire time.  Run time:  17:05.  This shocked me, I'd have to look for sure, but I'm sure this was by far my fastest time running the run portion of this race.  And considering how poor the rest of the race went I'm very pleased with this particular part.

Overall time:  58:55

Before I saw my time sheet & knew my time I knew that I did not have a PR.  I was bummed about this.  I am super competitive (even if only with myself & my previous times) and I know things did not click to beat my previous PR.  I felt a teeny bit better that I didn't go past 1:00:00.  So I do try & find the positive.  After talking with a friend & analyzing things I realized how I wasn't 100% fully trained for my absolute best and also seeing how great of a run I had I walked away feel pretty good about the whole event.

I ended up placing 1st in my age group.  The overall winner was a good friend who completely left everyone in the dust!  She did awesome & I couldn't be happier for her!!  Best of all, I got to spend the day surrounded by a lot of my Muscatine Running Friends.   Later, I was able to watch my son race and he placed 3rd in his age group against some boys/men who were twice his age (his age group was 25 & below).  Considering my son has even way less training than I do and most importantly just didn't give up & wasn't afraid to take this race on made me so proud!  Overall my race day ended up not being about how fast I did/didn't finish, but being surrounded by those that I love, doing something that we all love!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My boy

I know....I're going to start calling me a liar.  While you're at it you might as well call me a bad mom too!  I sorta, kinda, completely blanked on the fact that today is my son John's 13th birthday!  I mean, I KNOW it's today, February 5.  A mother never forgets the day(s) that she gave birth on.  But in the everyday scheme of things I became focused on everyday things and the day started out like any other.  Since I was on a roll in my last post, I'll just blame it on this blasted winter weather!!  Yeah, let's just blame EVERYTHING on that!!  We did get our snow day as I suspected would happen.  We even received the call last night so the kids stayed up late & slept in late this morning.  This also meant that I was going to have more flexibility than usual with my morning routine.  I could sleep in (if you call 6:30 a.m. sleeping in) & go into the Y later on and not worry about getting kids to school, etc.  Anyway, I'm rambling....

Today is John's birthday!!  I can't ignore that & blog about some race last week.  Although I will share this photo with you that was taken at the end of the Try Melon Tri with  our medals from our age group.
So I'm not a complete liar.  I'm just not going to give you a complete race recap.  Don't let the picture fool you though, John is a ball of energy & always Mr. Funny Guy (gee, I wonder where he gets that.  Anyone that knows my husband knows that answer!!).  But being his punk pre-teen (in this pic he was that) self he loves to NOT smile when I "force" him to take pictures.  Yes, ladies & gentleman I'm a picture obsessive mother who torments subjects her children to capturing their lives via millions of pictures.  I'm just waiting for that golden moment when they realize how wonderful lucky they are that I did that for them.

Anyway, rewinding 13 years ago, John was our first born son.  He was a twin, but we lost that twin.  Not a birth, but prior to that within the first trimester.  It's called a vanishing twin.  Makes no difference that I never birthed that child or got to see him, it's still John's twin.  And I'll never forget the moment when they showed me on the ultrasound the 4 perfectly formed heart chambers.....that was no longer beating.  Having twins was a life long dream of mine and it left me broken hearted, yet I don't doubt God's wisdom in the situation.

Having not grown up with a brother it was extremely important that I have a son.  After 3 wonderful daughters I was ready for a boy too.  Some days (then & now)  I question that because in some ways I struggle with and don't identify with boys.  It's such a strange concept for me, one that I certainly don't understand.  And I have nothing to base this whole raise a son concept on.  So far, I'm sure I've done a pretty good job.  Don't think I've screwed him up too much yet.  It's still been an honor & complete joy to raise a son.

I wasn't planning on this being such a rambly post.  I just knew I wanted to blog about my son.  He's pretty darn special to me & I'm honored to be his mother.  He's a bit of an athlete (gee, wonder where he got that from.  ok, I'm taking credit for that one!), but not only with running, but many sports.  He's absolutely amazing.  And a teenager.  Wait.....what?!?!?   How did I get to have 4 teenagers!?!?!  *gasp* I better save that topic for another post.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

January Recap

I know.....I KNOW.....I didn't recap my triathlon.  I will.  Pinky promise!  Should be done tomorrow, which I'm hoping will be a snow day from school.  It's kind of up in the air right now as it seems the snow hasn't hit us quite like it was forecast.  But that can change a lot in the next several hours.  So, we'll see.

I wanted to hop on real quick & give a recap of January.  Although it feels like there isn't too much to recap.  I knew coming into 2014 I really needed to step back from running.  This proved to be tough mentally.  The first few weeks I struggled with mentally feeling it was ok to step back.  The things I silently tell myself is crazy.  And if I wasn't running like I thought I should be then I would beat myself up over it (figuratively).  However, being true to not only wanting to take a step back from high mileage and wanting to cross train some more, plus focus on my indoor tri and not to mention this blasted winter weather, it was easy to actually not run so much.  I still struggle with the mixed feelings.  We'll see how it continues to go.

For the month of January I ran *drum roll please*........112.17 miles.  Yeah....I know.....that's IT!  I ran that much last May when I fell & was injured pretty bad.  BUT....see, how I beat myself up there.  I feel like it ridiculous crazy that I "only" ran that much.  It's ok, you can reach out & slap me.  About time those things filter through my mind I remind myself how much I needed to only run that much.  My body needed that break (ha ha, if you call 110 miles a break).  I remember that I have different goals this year.  If I want to focus on speed I need to kick the mileage down a notch, at least for a little bit.  I don't think this will be the new norm.  And let me mention again this winter weather is really kicking my butt!  And I'm pretty hard core about winter running, but this year has me searching for a straight jacket so I don't go crazy!!  (I'll have to save that topic for another post.)

I'm not as good as tracking my other exercises like miles biked, laps swam or how many days I weight lifted.  I do know I did a lot more of that than usual.  I probably bike & swam this month than I did in all of 2014.  So, hey I'm reaching part of my goal that I set for this year.

My streak is still holding strong.  As of the end of January I have ran 614 days in a row.  I did run a lot of 1 mile days, which is really hard (mentally) when I was used to nothing less than 5 for the last 3 months.  I'm not letting much of anything get in the way of my streak.

I guess I'm more on track than I give myself credit for.  2014 has been off to a good start.  I'm sure soon my miles will creep back up there with the natural ebb & flow of training.  As I inch every so painfully slow toward spring my running will shift gear as I move toward those race goals that I have in sight.  Until then.....I keep on going 1 mile at a time.

How was your January?