Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Daring Bakers: Baklava!

Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.

Two challenges in one! Not only creating the lovely Baklava but also creating the phyllo dough from which to make the Baklava.

I, honestly, had not even made Baklava before so I was really looking forward to this one.

It was fabulous and not so difficult, either. My phyllo dough wanted to stick to my counter top so I began to roll it out on a pie guide thing. It's a soft plastic form which really works well for pie crusts and proved to work very well for rolling out phyllo, too.

Neither Troy nor Steve had ever tasted Baklava before. I explained it to them but all they heard was 'nut pie'. I guess it was a good enough description.

They both loved the Baklava. Steve liked the spices, Troy liked the honey. What a great combination.

I didn't have any walnuts on hand so used pistachio, almonds and pecans. I don't have a food processor-really-the horror-so used my super coffee bean grinder instead. Worked like a charm.

The most shocking thing to me while putting the Baklava together was the large amount of liquid (honey,water, sugar, spices) to pour onto the already baked Baklava. Sure enough, the Baklava soaked in all of the honey. The Baklava became sweeter with better texture on the 2nd day. After that, it was all gone :)

If you'd like to create your own Baklava here is a link.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Training Time

Here it is, summer vacation, wide open calendar, healed up from hysterectomy and lots of time on my hands!

With Tyler out of the nest and Troy busy with baseball, strength and speed and lifting classes I have more spare time than ever. I don't do well with spare time. I do well with structured days, with each hour appointed to a task. Running boys here and there, coaching, etc.

Luckily I am training for the Monster Series, Graniteman Series and a BQ at TCM to occupy my time. Throw in lifting and I have filled some of my hours. Volunteer work, training clients, watching Troys baseball games, getting him to his training, the day is eventually full. I still have time to sit around with Steve and Troy to watch the Twins play .

So, this triathlon thing. My first tri is on July 9; a sprint. The Graniteman Clear Lake is a .50 swim, 15 mile bike and 5K run. I took it quite easy, treated myself as I would a client, created a spreadsheet with a beginning tri plan interspersed with Hal Higdons' BQ marathon plan for the running portion.

The second tri is Graniteman Big Lake, another sprint and number three is Lake Marian, an Olympic distance.

The swim was the first hurdle to cross. I don't (didn't) like cold water. I got over that. I now think of it as refreshing. I began with a 28 minute swim the first session and over three weeks am up to 54 minutes. No problem. Of course, this is at Gold's Gym in a perfectly calm pool with lanes to keep me swimming in a straight line. My first open swim will be at the cabin when we are at Lake Vermilion where I will freeze my butt. Oh well. It is a necessary evil.

Biking is fine. I did buy a pair of diaper shorts yesterday. My butt was getting sore at 25+ miles. I did complete my first brick this week. 15 mile bike, 5 mile run. I forgot my helmet at home .. I know, right? Bad Julie. I ended up with a flat back tire at mile 13 and couldn't bear to think I'd have to walk the bike home. I rode faster and pretended it wasn't flat. Probably another Bad Julie. Oh well.
Upon returning home I put the bike in the garage and yelled for Topaz. We ran around the neighborhood for 5 miles. It felt strange at first, but eventually my calves stopped cramping and I was able to run. Not easy. I'll have to do this a few more times!

Running is coming along. I'm focusing on speed now and that is really really bad right now. Oh man, I am slow. I have totally lost my speed. The endurance came back much quicker post hysterectomy than the speed. I ran a track workout yesterday. 8x800 and totally sucked it up.

Today was a better day. Lifted arms - oh how I missed lifting! That's another story. I lifted arms for 50 minutes and still had an hour before having to pick up Troy from strength and speed so hopped on the treadmill and ran 4 miles at 745 pace. That's fast for me. It felt good. I caught a glimpse of me. I'm coming back.

Oh yes, lifting. I just really love it. I love the way I can feel the contraction, the stretch; I love the changes I can see and feel daily. You know I'll prepare for another comp, it is just in there waiting for me to try it. I figure I'll get these three triathlons done, my running season and then continue building during the winter for maybe Gopher in April. We'll see. I now know the process, what to expect, I have the suits, the music, the routine and the determination to make it happen. I won't have ovaries getting in my way this round either.

In the meantime I've entered Afton 50K for July 2. I wasn't going to as I thought we'd be at the lake. Tyler is going up the 3rd so I may wait until then. That left the 2nd open. I almost entered the 25K because I was worried about being embarrassed with my finishing time. So I had to ask myself :are you really going to let embarrassment take over and run the 25K instead when the 25K really doesn't interest you at all? Um, well, no, I really want to run the 50K. BUT people that I normally run faster will be running faster than me and I 'll be running the pace that I did when I first began running 50K's 8 years ago! Do you really care what they will think? Well, yeah, kindof. Is it worth not running 50K when you really do want to run 50K? ... and so I entered. I'm glad I did. I'm looking to beat 8 hours.

I have also rejoined the Daring Bakers. Yay!! I've missed their difficult and creative recipes. I've just completed this months project and will post it when notified. Fun!

So that's what is happening here. A bit of training and whatnot.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Minneapolis Marathon

This past Sunday I ran the Minneapolis Marathon as part of the Team Ortho Monster Series that I entered. Last year I ran a few of the Ortho races and really enjoyed them. I entered the series this past January as an alternative to the Ultra Gnarly Bandit Series incase I had a hysterectomy, which I did, and the series has been a lot of fun.

Minneapolis Marathon was race III out of V.

Summer arrived in the Midwest this past weekend. Most of us from the area haven’t had any heat training yet this summer as the past five weekends have been in the 50s with rain. Friday arrived with summer! 86 Friday, 85 Saturday and Sunday, it is 94 today!

What a way to acclimate, on race day.

I normally love to run in the heat but I have to admit, the heat helped to brutalize the Minneapolis Marathon for me!

I had a few goals for the marathon. One, I wanted to run the first half faster than the Get Lucky Half Marathon in March and two, I wanted to feel good at the half. That would show me any progress I’ve made on endurance these past weeks. If you read the race report for the half you will remember that I felt like death during that half marathon. I couldn’t breathe, I was dizzy, I was a mess. Of course it was only 7 weeks or so post op.

As all Team Ortho races, parking was a treat. $3 parking in a lot less than a block away to the start/finish, hand directed to my spot. So amazing!

This was the second year for the Minneapolis Marathon and I hadn’t run it before. There were 4800 registered for either the relay, half marathon or marathon.

I liked the 7 AM start, for me earlier is better. We were able to use the facilities at The Depot Hotel, using nice clean toilets, hot water..what a treat! I walked over to the start and lined up near the 10 minute mile pacers. It was already 65F and felt nice, no sleeves necessary. I was trying a new sunscreen for racing, Skinceuticals, which my friend Alicia recommended. I am beginning to show sun spots and certainly don’t need anymore sun damage. This sunscreen is a physical block that is also water/sweat proof. I had been wearing the brand under my make up but hadn’t had the opportunity to try out on a sunny hot day.

The start was at the Depot Hotel, running through the Warehouse District, down Plymouth Avenue, to the Stone Arch Bridge. I had never walked down in that area and it was so pretty. Cobblestone roads – which weren’t so great to run on – but didn’t last very long. We ran through beautiful neighborhoods that I hadn’t seen before. It was a 6 mile loop over and back across the river and then we headed back near our starting place before heading out on the out and back marathon run. It really was a pretty loop and most of it was nicely shaded.

There was a relay taking place within the race which was a new event to me. Every 6 miles or so there would be a big RELAY sign with cones directing the participants to their hand off area. It was fun to see new fresh runners with lots of speed burning up the course for a few miles.

The stretch along West River Road was mostly shaded with a few long sunny spots. Whew, those spots warmed me up quickly. I felt like it was 90F already and really it was about 75F at this time.

I have never stood under any of the sprinklers at the summer marathons, but yesterday, I soaked myself under each one. I was that hot! After a cool soaking I felt new life in my body as I continued to run along the course.

Along West River Road was the half marathon turnaround and once the half marathoners left the course, wow, did it thin out! All of a sudden the course was wide and clear with a few runners here and there. Less than 900 finished the marathon.

I was able to reach both of my goals: at the half marathon I felt good, just hot, and I was 12 minutes faster than I was at Lucky 7 half marathon. Good enough!

I continued on and really began to get hot on this exposed section. I was carrying a 24 oz water bottle that I was filling at the aid stations and gulping down a couple little glasses of power aid or whatever the available energy drink was. I was taking a Hammergel every 35 to 40 minutes, I didn’t take any S or ECAPS. I was wondering if I should have brought some along with all of the heat.

We made a u turn and then entered the Fort Snelling State Park. Wow, I didn’t even know this existed. We ran downhill on a shaded path deep in the woods for over a mile, then hit a sandy trail through the park that was still shaded. 6 nice wooded shaded miles through the park. I liked it, although it was quite hilly. This was an out and back so it did get a little crowded in areas. I noticed that many of the runners coming back were looking pretty tough. The heat was taking it’s toll. I finally reached the turn around and headed back out of the park. As we exited the park we took a sharp left and the trail went straight up a huge hill! I could only laugh at it. I began to walk up the hill, sweat falling into my eyes when I realized the sunblock was working very well. It didn’t sting my eyes and it wasn’t wearing off. Good deal. I also noticed that it felt good to walk up this hill, using other muscles after the downhill running earlier.

I was just looking forward to hitting the 20 mile marker. I was hot and tired. I wasn’t sore at all, I wasn’t out of breath or dizzy, I was trying to be happy that I felt pretty good and that I have the endurance back. Speed is another thing.

Eventually mile 20 came and went, I just looked for the next mile. At mile 23 I filled up my water bottle and then noticed the 430 pace group coming up the way. I walked out of the aid station, waiting to run the last three miles with the group.

I came into the finish line at 4:34, I felt nauseous by now and had a bad stitch in my side. I thought about my friends running FANS and Kettle 100 and was just glad that I only had a marathon for today!

I had only a short walk to my car where I had a cooler holding a recovery shake and quinoa salad. I could stomach the shake but ate the salad later in the day when I was famished!

No pain or stiffness today, no bleeding or cramping during the race, all is good. The next race in the Monster Series is the Minneapolis Duathlon. Something new for me! I’m looking forward to it.

The Twin Cities Marathon is in 4 months. I’d like to run another Boston Qualifier. I have the endurance down, now the speed workouts begin.

Today is swimming and biking in preparation for the Graniteman Tri in 8 weeks. Another first!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Triatha what? Triathlon!

The town in which I live, Big Lake, is hosting a triathlon! Finally! It is a great location as the City has built a pathway around the lake that is perfect for running and biking. Except that it is concrete but who needs to complain, right?

In looking up information for this triathlon I learned that it is a part of a series, the Graniteman Series. This will consist of the Graniteman Clearwater Triathlon and Graniteman Half Marathon, Sauk Rapids, in addition to Graniteman Big Lake. Of course I decided to enter the series, what the hell, right?

You may recall that in 2006 I was going to try the sport of triathlon, before I chose to focus on 100 mile ultramarathons. I learned that I didn’t care for the swim portion of the sport. I trained for a while during the winter and then once the trails cleared it was back to ultrarunning!

Graniteman Clearwater is held July 9, Graniteman Big Lake is August 9. Both of these are ‘sprint’ triathlons-the shortest of tri’s, including a .46 mile swim across the lake, a 15 mile bike and finishing off with a 5K run. Woohoo! No prob, right?

After entering these I became excited about trying something new and entered Lake Marian Triathlon, which offered a sprint and Olympic distance. Well, I figured I might as well go for the Olympic as I’d have two sprints under my belt. Weeee!

The Olympic distance is a bit longer including a 1.5 K swim (.93 mile), 40K bike (24.8 mile) and a 10K run (6.2 miles). The swim will intimidate me here but I’ll get her done.

If I love this I’ll progress forward to a ½ Iron and Ironman; why not, right? I am going to volunteer at Ironman Wisconsin in September so that I can secure an entry in 2012. I’m at bike aid station 2. My friend Brook is an entrant so it will be awesome to see her upon the course.

I’m thankful that I entered the Team Ortho Monster Series early this year as a back up plan to the Ultra Gnarly Bandit Series incase of hysterectomy. My surgeon has firmly suggested that I do not run Bighorn 100 Mile Trail Run. The distance between aid stations and the remoteness of the race location were important reasons for his suggestion in addition of course to the rigor of a 100 mile mountain race.

I could just ignore his suggestion but I know that for me to finish a 100 my mind has to be firmly sound in finishing the distance. One bit of indecision at finishing the distance and my mind will convince my body to stop. As much as I love the distance and state how much I enjoy it, at about mile 70-80 I do entertain thoughts of quitting. A strong mind not allowing any of these thoughts to take place it was gets me to the finish line.

The Minneapolis Marathon is part III of the Monster Series. The Marathon is this Sunday and it looks to be a perfect day! High of 83 with a low of 60, oh yeah, summer is arriving. I have no time goal for the marathon, just a morning run in the sun. It will be a good indication as to where my fitness is right now. I’m going to train to run another Boston qualifier at Twin Cities Marathon this October. I’ve created a 4 month training plan which includes the triathlon training and TCM.

So far I’ve swum up to 24 laps and biked up to 35 miles. Plenty of fun ☺

Summer vacation is approaching just in time, I’ll have many many hours to put in toward training. Oh yeah, summer is here… love it!