Friday, July 29, 2011

Triathlon Mom take 2...

Last weekend, I participated in my second triathlon of the season - Race the River.  This was such a fun event and I was amazed at what I accomplished.  In this race, I was race-testing a new wet suit.  The water was a bit cold, and it gave me a chance to see how the wet suit felt in a race as well as practice in the transition zone.  I'll be needing the wet suit in the Olympic tri in August and I was really glad that I tried it out.  I was able to take almost 6 minutes off my swim over last year...I was off to a great start!

This race has a three-loop bike course which is pretty congested.  It's hard to find your rhythm in the race when you are constantly passing or being passed.  I felt good through the whole bike race though and finished faster than I did last summer.
I was speedy in the transition zone too.  A first-time triathlon-er commented before the race, on my transition zone.  Laughing, I realized that all the tricks I have are because I made mistakes in previous races.  This summer my big addition was an obnoxious striped towel.  It can be hard to find your transition zone {this race had over 800 athletes} so I arrive early to set up and display my obnoxious towel to help me find my spot.
I was off and running ... this race I also decided to try a Sport Skirt and I loved it!  I felt surprisingly strong through the whole race.  My run felt good, my feet felt good and all the aches and pains I have had in training seemed to disappear.  I had fun!
There I am nearly to the finish line.  There was a huge column of fans and athletes lined up to create a chute to the finish line.  It was awesome to hear everyone cheering and I felt great crossing the line.
I ended up taking 10 minutes off my time from last year.  I couldn't believe it!  The training has really paid off.  There are now 20 days until my Olympic tri...wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Father's Day Celebration...

My family loves soccer!  You can't read to many of my posts before you know that little detail.  Both my boys play soccer, I coach the youngest's team, and my husband plays soccer too.  They also play soccer video games, soccer in the backyard and they watch a lot of games.  Soccer is a pretty big deal in our house.

This summer Manchester United is on tour in the United States.  Man United is the team for my boys...all of them!  We have extra channels so that we can see all the Man United games. We have multiple jerseys and scarves, soccer balls and beer steins emblazoned with the Man United logo. There's a huge flag flying outside my house in honor of Manchester United...they're a pretty big deal!

Imagine the excitement in our house when we learned that Manchester United would be playing the Seattle Sounders in an International Friendly game.  The Sounders are our 2nd favorite team, and we cross the state a couple times each summer to watch a game.  This week we traveled to Seattle to see Manchester United and the Seattle Sounders.
 This was an amazing adventure for our family.  We enjoyed ourselves in Seattle a bit before the game, including a stop for more Manchester United gear!
 Man United won the Barclay's Premier League last season, and they are traveling with the cup.  Why not?  It's pretty impressive.
 We love the Sounders too, so it was exciting to watch them play.  But, the thrill of seeing athletes you've only seen on TV in was phenomenal!
 #10 is Wayne Rooney...a family favorite {we even have a cat named Rooney}...
 ...the thrill of the game was watching Rooney score not one, not two, but three goals in the second half.  A Rooney Hat Trick!
 Happy Father's Day to the most amazing Daddy in the whole world!

Friday, July 15, 2011

More Cupcakes...YUM!

This week, in my personal cupcake challenge, I decided to make Red Velvet Cupcakes.  I just love the way that word rolls off my tongue...try it...say, "Red Velvet Cupcakes".  Doesn't it sound delicious?  I have never made red velvet cake before so I started my paging my way through the world wide web, looking for and comparing recipes.

After much deliberation, and comparing of ingredients, I decided to go with Paula Deen's Red Velvet Cupcakes.  This recipe uses only 1 tsp of cocoa which seemed good to me.  Last week's chocolate cake recipe used 2/3 of a cup and they turned out a bit bitter.  In the final evaluation though, I think there is an optimal amount somewhere between 1 tsp and 2/3 cup...this batch could have had a more chocolately taste.  I was drawn to her use of buttermilk though and no vegetable shortening.  I have discovered that I am a bit repulsed by the appearance of shortening in a mixing bowl.  But I digress...

This week I also purchased silicone baking cups...
...and I was excited to try them out.  They're so pretty and fun.
I started by assembling the ingredients for the cake...wet ingredients in one bowl and dry in another.  Aiden walked in at just this moment and asked why I was putting blood in the cupcakes.  He didn't even sound surprised, it was a pretty matter-of-fact question.'s a pretty red mix, that's for sure.
The cakes baked up perfectly.  Here's a few things I have learned so far though...take the mini cakes out about 5 minutes sooner.  I learned this after the fact, and will be applying it to next week's cupcakes!  Also, this cake mix was less creamy and I could have filled the cups a bit fuller.  I am still loving my bit star tip and icing bag...I feel so professional!
I got a little carried away and played with different techniques for the icing.  This recipe for cream cheese frosting...also Paula Deen's is amazing.  I loved it...and so did all my tasters.

So...I know you're dying to know the score for these Red Velvet Cupcakes...

Cake Flavor...3 stars
Frosting...4 stars "Mommy, you're already known for your frosting!"
Presentation...2.5 stars "Mommy, you need to get more creative"

They are honest tasters, that's for sure.  Aiden actually tried to sabotage the score because these weren't chocolate cakes.

Next week, I am going to get really risky and modify this recipe.  I am going to put in less red food coloring, more cocoa and bake for fewer minutes.  I'll let you know how the experiment turns out. Oh...and about the silicone baking cups...I'm not sold on them.  It was hard to get the cupcake out and then I had to wash them all.  I think there is a time and place for reusable and I am not sure it's a cupcake wrapper.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Triathlon Mom...

For those of you who've been reading for a while, you know that I am relatively new to being sporty.  While I have always been active, in the past 5 years I have pushed past merely active and into athletic.  The adventure has been fun and interesting.  I am amazed at how much more capable I am physically then I ever thought possible.  The learning curve on athletic is also impressive.

Over the past month I have been plagued with blisters, sore knees and IT band aches.  Here's the thing, it was never an all-on onslaught.  One day my knee would hurt a evening my IT band would be uncomfortably achy...I realized I had blisters on my arches that never quite healed.  Each ache and pain was acknowledged but I thought that they were all things that I needed to push past...get through...achieve a new level of endurance and strength.  For me athleticism is much more mental than body is capable but I am still convincing my brain!

The conversation with my husband started with the blisters.  Several weeks ago I did a swim-to-run brick and inadvertently forgot my socks.  I knew I wasn't going to do a long run, so I thought, "What the heck...I'll run barefooted!" DUMB! Bad Move!  I felt the blisters forming and kept running.  It was a week before I could put my running shoes back on.  Fast forward two weeks...I had a long run planned but ended up cutting it short because I could feel blisters forming and I didn't want to be out of commission for another week.  Kyle asked about the blisters and I said, "You know, I am just waiting for them to callous.  It's just something you have to grit your teeth to get past!"  My cute husband immediately started Googling blisters...

About the same time, I emailed my cousin regarding the IT band.  She's an Occupational Therapist, so the email was along these lines, "I know this is more a PT thing than an OT thing...but what do you know about IT bands?  I don't want to be whiney but I can't seem to get mine to toughen up."  After several emails back and forth, I came to realize that I had an IT band injury...that I was actually making worse by trying to toughen up.

The blister issue came to a head on the same day...they're an that I was making worse by trying to toughen up! and stretching for the IT band...Body Glide and new socks for the blisters...but the biggest thing for me to learn was time for new running shoes!  I had actually run so much in the past few months that I needed new ones!

One week into new blisters...pain free IT band and knees!  I am really figuring this sporty thing out!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Valley Girl Triathlon...

It's official...I finished my first triathlon of the season yesterday!  It was a great day, beautiful weather and perfect race conditions.  The water was a bit cold, but since the swim was a short one, the temperature didn't make too much of a difference.
My swim was thrown off a little because I got hit in the head by a canoe.  I was on the outside of the pack, and veering off the course, so as I was correcting I swam into the canoe paddled into me.  It was early in the swim and I have decided to rethink my starting position in the next swim.
My transition time to the bike was pretty fast and I headed onto the bike course feeling strong.  See me behind the bar, #425 in the turquoise jersey? The bike course starts on a hill, so it can be a tricky transition but I felt great all the way through the bike ride.  Since I am also training for an Olympic length triathlon later in the summer, I was also thoughtful of nutrition during this shorter race.  I had a Hammer gel at the end of the ride and it was the perfect boost to get through the run.  I also have Hammer Heed in my bike water bottle, it's perfect!
 I definitely have home-field advantage on this bike course as I ride it frequently.  I finished the ride several minutes faster this year than last year and really felt strong at the end.
 My kids love that the finish line is adjacent to a skate board park.  They had a great time "waiting" for me to finish the race.
 Last year, when I ran this race, I hit a huge wall on the run.  I was all done at about 1 1/2 miles!  My primary goal this year was to finish the run and feel strong at the end.  This goal I definitely achieved...I took 5 minutes off my run over last year!  In both the bike and the run I had "Personal Best" times.
 It was a good race.  I found places that I need to boost my training a bit, and I realized that the training I have already done has paid off too!

One triathlon down and two to go!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cupcake Experiment #2

Yum!  My quest to become "known for cupcakes" is going along smashingly!  This week, I tried a cake mix from scratch...
For my first from scratch cake, I went to my tried & true, favorite cook book.  This Betty Crocker book is from the '70's and was given to my by my mother-in-law, when I first got married.  I love it...simple & basic recipes.

I assembled the ingredients for the batter...

...and filled the cupcake pan.  Last time you might remember that I overfilled the cupakes.  This time, I got the perfect amount of batter into the cakes.

I've also invested in a mini-cupcake pan.  These are the perfect size for a taste-test, they're super cute! and my youngest, Aiden, also loves mini-muffins.

The cakes came out perfectly and it was time to frost...
I used the same buttercream frosting recipe that I used in Cupake Experiment #1.  This received a total of  
4 stars in the first test and I didn't want to change too many things this time around.  I also went for a Patriotic theme...the blue frosting turned out perfectly but the red sugars looked a little pink.

How did they Score?
  Presentation...3 stars
Frosting...4 stars
Cake...2 stars

I took the cupcakes to a family party, so there were more tasters this time around.  In general the cake was a bit dry and sort of bitter tasting.  The frosting was still a hit!
Coming up next week...Red Velvet cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

4 days and counting...

It's almost time for the first TRIATHLON of the season!  Since I have three events this summer, and the first two are sprints, I am not tapering for this race.  I have made a few tweaks to my workout calendar for the week:
Monday:  30 mile bike ride
Tuesday: 1 mile swim
Wednesday: Break day, with a 2 mile walk in the afternoon
Thursday: 3 mile run with lots of hills
Friday: Brick...10 mile bike ride and 2 mile run
Saturday: Swim...I haven't decided which workout I'll do, but it will likely be a 1 mile worth of intervals
Sunday:  My first sprint triathlon of the season...1/3 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run

I am really excited for the race this weekend.  I've had a different training calendar this summer and I am feeling much stronger and more in shape then last summer.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

We celebrated at the lake with some great family friends!  I decided it was a perfect opportunity to experiment with video.

How did you celebrate?