Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pre-Race Recap: Chicago Triathlon

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.  This race was a doozy.  Well not really the race itself--that part was actually okay--but the whole getting there and getting set-up thing was crazy and crazy stressful and nearly gave me a heart attack.  Seriously, it was not good.
Before we get started with that story, here's a short synopsis of Saturday pre-race.
Like I mentioned before, on Saturday, my friend Laura and I headed into the city to check out the race expo, pick up packets and get body-marked scribbled on by teenagers.  We planned on getting back to my place in time to enjoy a late lunch of leftover pasta from Friday night, but we ended up still being in the city at 3 pm and we were starving.  Famished.  And I was starting to feel a little light-headed and dizzy-not a good sign.  Especially when we should have been consuming a few hundred calories more than normal to prepare for the race.  We really wanted to eat sandwiches and had settled on Potbelly's, but everywhere we tried to stop was closed.  Turns out a whole bunch of restaurants down there are only open Monday-Friday.  What the crap? So we ended up at Cosi, which we considered to be very similar to Panera.  We both got the sandwich and salad combo and split our baby carrots and chips.  Overall, the food was pretty good, and I really enjoyed my salad.  I did cheat a little on my pop-free challenge but only a little because they had this crazy fountain pop machine with a gazillion flavors.  They had a touch screen from which you could choose what you wanted and it all came out one spout.  I taste-tested some Fanta flavors with Laura, so in total I only had about 2-3 oz. of pop.
Once we got home we went for an easy-peasy 40 minute bike ride immediately followed with a 10 minute run.  Just a nice easy warm-up before the race.  Following that easy workout, our bikes got loaded into the car and we went inside to eat some of that left-over pasta.   We had to make a quick run to Target to pick up some last minute supplies, which I forgot about anyways so it doesn't matter.  Darn masking tape.  Impulse purchases in the form of popsicle molds and juice to fill said popsicle molds were made.  At about 9 pm, we were back home and in bed since our wake up call was coming at the ugly butt crack of dawn dark the next day.  Seriously, a 4 am rising from bed should only happen to go to the bathroom and then get back in bed, no other reason.  So the slightly cranky me and Laura hopped in the car with all our gear at 4:30 am to head down to the lake.  And this is where the adventure really begins.  By adventure, I really mean panic attacks.
First, my GPS wouldn't find Soldier Field which was where we were parking and I got flustered and forgot how to get to I-294.
Second, the on-ramp from I-294 to I-90 was closed, which I knew but again had forgotten about.
Third, the exit to get from I-94 to Congress Parkway was closed.
All the while, my heartbeat is going up and up and up with our ETA going later and later and later.
Fourth, we had to go around the area where the triathlon area was set-up.
Once we finally got to the parking garage it was already about 5:30 am and transition closes at 5:45 am.  In a panic, we threw together our bikes, grabbed our gear, and headed off towards transition.  Too bad I wasn't really sure how  to get to transition and did I mention it was still dark?
5:44:58 am
Approximately the time we arrived at transition. Racing pulse, shortness of breath, sweaty palms.  Symptoms of a heart attack or late-for-triathlon attack?
Our bikes basically had to be squeezed onto the racks because they were already full and we tossed our transition gear onto the ground, all the while they are yelling at us that we need to leave transition.  This is about the point where I realized I forgot my sunglasses and my masking tape.  Bleh.  At least my bike was in transition.
Thank goodness we made it.  I said about 1,000 praises to God at this point for getting me this far.
Ensue deep, calming breaths to make heart rate return to somewhat normal, or at least something around 100 bpm.
To pre-fuel for the race we headed off to the Michigan Ave. area to grab some breakfast.  Corner Bakery was our first stop, but apparently they don't open till 8 am on Sunday's? What the crap?  Don't you people want my business?  Thankfully, the ever faithful Dunkin' Donuts is open 24 hours a day so that's were we headed.  Coffee was on the menu for me and Laura was having coffee with a bagel.  The night before I had diligently crafted a breakfast cookie with banana and chocolate chip to eat before breakfast, but when I opened up the container I was greeted with a terrible surprise.  At 4 freakin' thirty in the morning I had grabbed the wrong container and was left with the cantaloupe pieces.  :(  So I ended up getting the egg-white flatbread because I needed some major fuel for the upcoming triathlon.
After our nice relaxing breakfast, we headed back towards race start to hit up the bathrooms disgusting porto-potties. Barf.  Oh and I forgot to mention, with everything else that was going wrong this weekend that I was also granted a visit from that monthly monster.  (Sorry any guy who reads this, you definitely didn't want to know that.) Yippee skippy...NOT! Let's just say that and porto-potties don't mix.
A short jaunt of a run warm-up followed along with some dynamic stretching.  You know, the kind where you swing your arms back-and-forth and do high knee runs.  Then I tried to get the strings out of my shorts so I could tie them on tighter so they didn't fall off.  Wish that would have been easy, but no! Laura ended up finding a scissors and cutting a slot in the shorts to pull the strings out, but only after I stabbed myself several times with a safety pin that I then somehow lodged in my shorts.  Go figure.
Laura ended up running into a few of her old friends at this point too.  And by run into, I literally mean ran into, like "Oh sorry for running into you, oh wait, hey I know you!"  At 8 am, we started to line up for our race!  Our start time was scheduled for 8:26 am, only 3.5+ hours after we had to be there.
This post is long enough but I will continue with the actual race recap on another post!

How I miss thee, Iowa City

Last week, I mentioned in my post what I miss about college, that I also really needed to write a post on, the things I miss about Iowa City.  Now some may argue that these two lists are about the same thing, but I say they aren't.  It also so happens that I lived in Iowa City while I wasn't attending classes on several occasions: 2 summers and after I graduated.  So here's a list of things I miss about Iowa City that are somewhat unrelated to what I miss about college.
  1. Pedestrians - I walked everywhere when I lived in Iowa City.  Half an hour to work, to class, to downtown, to friends, to the grocery store, it didn't matter, I could walk there.And I did.  It was very pedestrian-friendly as well, with many crosswalks, less cars honking at you when you are walking, and pedestrian bridges. 
  2. Bicycle-friendly - Bike lanes, bike paths, and bike racks were abundant.  Students road to class and employees rode to work.  Car drivers were much more aware of bicycles on the road and were used to watching out for them.  It was probably a lot less likely to get hit by a car there as compared to where I live now.  There was even a place called The Bike Library that took in old bikes and fixed them up then rented them out to people.  What a great recycling idea!
  3. Public Transportation - Following right along with my other too alternative transportation perks is the public transportation system or the buses.  Not the Cambus, those things were never on time.  The Iowa City Transit was much better and it went further.  Sure it costs a few cents but it went a lot of places.  Much more practical than driving your car and paying for parking.
  4. Hippies - Okay maybe not exactly the hippies but the fact that it was okay to be a little bit different there.  It was less about fitting in and more about embracing your on style and personality.  I'll admit I did see a lot of Ugg (ugh!) boots and Northface jackets but I saw a lot of other things too.  

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Just [Tri] a bit

When this post goes live I will be jumping into Lake Michigan to start off the Chicago Triathlon.
My friend Laura showed up on Friday night and we had a nice carb-loading dinner with our friends (the newlyweds) Adam and Sam.  Yesterday was spent heading into the city to pick up our race packets, getting body-marked, listening to a course talk, and picking up free goodies from race sponsors.  I even bought a new TYR swimsuit for $30!  That's a pretty stinkin' good deal.  Laura mostly just came home with 12 mini Larabars.  I'm super jealous because I love those babies.  I'm planning on stealing a few when she's not looking.
So, like I said, at 8:26 am I will start my first actual Olympic triathlon.  If you're interested you can check up on me here.  Just type in Neiers in the last name box.  It's an early wake up call at 4 am so the bikes and gear can be locked away in the transition area by 5:45 am.  Hopefully between then and about 8 am, we will be sneaking off to grab some coffee and a bit of breakfast.  And, who knows, maybe a nap.  Although a nap before 8 am just doesn't really make sense.

My goal is to beat the average finishing time for last year of 3 hours 17 minutes.  It would be super, duper, fantastic if I could finish in less than 3 hours.  But I'm not getting my hopes up. I'm nervous, but it's a good nervous.  I hope my new bike holds up for the race.  It's supposed to be all fixed up after it's little accident, but on my short ride on Saturday I noticed that the front derailleur wasn't shifting right.  I'll just cross my fingers and say a little prayer.

I'll be back with my race recap soon!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What I miss about college

In honor of the start of fall classes at the University of Iowa, I thought I would share a list with you about the things I miss most about college.  Not to say that I don't like having a job but I loved college.  And working is just different.

Here you go, my top 10 reasons I miss college.
In no particular order except the order I thought of them in.

  1. The-lots-of-break schedule.  Overall, the number of hours I had to spend "working" at school probably squash the number of hours I work now: 12+ hour days compared to 8 hours. Pffffff.  But the days at school involved a lot of breaks.  Class for an hour, an hour break, two more classes, 4 hours at work, time for the gym, and then homework time.  Well homework time included many many breaks including dinner, talking on the phone, talking to whoever I was studying with, walking around the engineering building.  I liked that schedule because it was flexible and it's hard for me to stay on task for any extended period of time.
  2. Plethora of friends.  When I took a job in the Chicago suburbs I realized that I didn't know anyone there. Well that turned out to not be entirely true, I have a friend who lives 15 minutes from me and another that lives 45+ minutes away.  With work schedules are other commitments though, it's hard to find time to spend together.  But in Iowa City, someone was always around to chat, take a walk, go get a soda, workout, or anything else.                                                                          
  3. Less accountability.  Seriously sometimes I would wake up in the morning after many many late nights and realize what I needed was just to sleep in and skip class.  Now don't go thinking I was some lazy student, it was quite a rare occurrence.  But if it was a large lecture class and I didn't really know that professor, I'm fairly certain they didn't notice I was missing.  I tried to always go to my smaller engineering classes because I feel that good attendance correlates to better grades.  At work though, I can't  just hit my alarm and come in 2 hours late.  Sure I have a flexible schedule and no one really notices if I show up 30 minutes "late", but I think showing up at 10 would be frowned upon. 
  4. Bars.  Reminder: I was an engineering student and I was busy, so it ain't like this happened a lot.  But it was nice to go out for a few cold ones with friends and then walk home.  Here way too much planning has to go into this event.  I especially miss dancing at the Fieldhouse, it was so disgusting yet I loved it so much.  Now dancing like that just seems wrong. Possibly because it is wrong.                                             
  5. Gym on campus.  And did I mention it was a totally awesome gym.  I could walk to the gym in less than 5 minutes, workout, shower, and walk back to school.  This totally beats driving to the gym after work.  
  6. Extracurriculars.  Volunteer opportunities, group get-togethers, and meetings were aplenty at Iowa.  Now all I do is work, church, and bingo.  Okay that's not it. I feel like all I do now is work, sleep, and train for triathlons.  Anybody with ideas on where I can volunteer my time?
  7. Built in vacations.  Thanksgiving break, spring break, winter break, heck here's 3 months off for summer.  Now if I want a day off I have to use up a precious vacation day.  I probably won't have a whole week off for 5 more years.  I should also mention somehow always having enough money to go on a trip during those breaks.  Not sure how that worked.
  8. Naps.  'Nough said.  Okay, I lied I do need to say something.  I took naps all the time in college and now after lunch I long for an afternoon power nap, but ain't never gonna happen. 
  9. Caffeine consumption.  Going to the Den or Kum'n'Go to get a 36 or 42 or 57 oz. fountain pop was completely justifiable at 9 am, 2:30 pm or 9 pm.  I have homework/meetings/projects/readings/class that I need to stay awake for.  Blah.  Now I can't even justify having pop at all.
  10. Last one, hmmm.  Duh! How could I forget the ever-loving football.  'Tis nothing better than a fall college football home game.  Nothing.  Glorious glorious tailgating and standing and cheering at those black jerseys.  Or, you know, the Burrito Lift. Which was my personal favorite.  

After writing this list, I decided that I need to do a follow-up post on things I miss about Iowa City.   Coming up soon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On getting a new bike and then getting hit by a car

I've been looking at new bikes for awhile.  I wanted a road bike to use in my triathlon and to ride around.  I was using a crappy, too small, rusty mountain bike.  But for the $20 I paid for it, it got me around Iowa City just fine.  For the Camp Courageous Tri, I used Matt's hybrid bike and it was so much faster than the mountain bike.  During training, I averaged only about 11-12 mph but during the race I managed a 17 mph pace.  Big difference!
Road bikes can be very pricey, think $700 minimum for an entry bike.  I spent some time on Craig's List, but couldn't find anything that looked good in my size.  And I was really confused on what to look for in a bike and what's a good bike.  So I just bit the bullet and bought a new one at a local bike store.  
Turns out they kind of sell bikes just like cars.  Model years, letters to denote additional features (S, SL, SLX, etc.), and sales to get rid of old models when new models are coming in.  Since they are at a turnover point in model year, they had some great deals on 2011 bikes.  After some debate I ended up buying the Trek Lexa SL, it's a WSD or women's specific design, which basically means it's more compact than a men's bike.  It's so pretty.  

I'm pretty much in love with it.  

The shifters are pretty cool too.  They are incorporated right into the brakes.

Matt likes my bike a lot too.  And much to my dismay rode it around my apartment this weekend.  
I don't mean outside. 
I mean inside, he rode my bike on the carpet of my apartment.
Bad boy.

Back to the second part of my blog title.  
After work I went out for a ride to do some more training for the triathlon (that's this weekend, ahh!) and to get used to my bike.  I found a nice little bike path to ride on for awhile and then I ended back up on the sidewalk.  I was trying to get further away from town where I thought there would be less traffic and fewer stop lights to contend with.  I was minding my own business on the left side of the road on the sidewalk.  I was pedaling at a pretty quick clip and approaching a stoplight.  The light was green my way so I figured it was safe to cross.  Turns out I was wrong.  Very, very wrong.  As soon as I entered the crosswalk the car stopped at the light decided to make a turn on red, without realizing I was there.  I noticed what was happening a split second too late.  The car was moving forward and I had nowhere to go but down.  The car ran into me and my bike.  Not really sure entirely what happened next, it was kind of a blur.  Let's just say I'm glad I always ride with a bike helmet.  I ended up on the ground in front of the car and the chain was knocked of my bike.  
I think I and my bike are mostly okay.  A few minor scratches to the bike, but I am going to get it checked out tomorrow. I think I may have a few minor bruises to my legs tomorrow but we shall see.  
It was a big reality check for me.  Reality: in car vs. bike, the car will always win.  It's a law of physics.  It's much better to ride on the defensive as cars and drivers are unpredictable.  It's up to me to keep me safe.  And also I must always remember the cardinal rule: People in Illinois and/or with Illinois license plates drive like crazy, stupid idiots.  Actually that's a topic for a whole other blog post.
In the end, I think I am going to be okay, but it was quite scary and could have easily gone another way.  
Always wear a helmet kiddos! and adultos!

Have you ever had any scary bike accidents?

Diet Mtn Dew: addicted

I have a confession to make.
I'm a Diet Mountain Dew junkie.  An addict.  Passionate guzzler.  
I love it.  
If I could drink it every day I could.

The only real reason I don't is because it can be quite expensive and if I drink it at night it keeps me awake too late.
My real love is Diet Mountain Dew, but if I'm out a restaurant and they only have Coke products I'll go with Coke Zero or Diet Coke.  I just want the pop (or soda or whatever else you call it, but everyone smart calls it pop).  
I like the caffeine boost I get, the bubbles and fizz, the sweetness, and the coldness. 
Except I know it's bad for you.  Very bad.  

They put fake crap in their that is not sugar to make it taste sweet.  It ain't real.

In my younger years, my brother and I would split a can of Sprite occasionally on Saturday family movie night.
A half a can.  And that's probably about all the pop I drank for the first 10 or so years of my life.  
Then I decided I really liked Pepsi and Mountain Dew and I would drink a can sometimes.  Still not very often.
Sometime during high school, I thought that I had to start drinking diet pop because regular pop was going to make me fat. So I made the switch and started drinking Diet Pepsi.  I couldn't drink Diet Mountain Dew yet because I was still to used to the regular stuff and so the diet crap tasted bad.
I still had quite the control over my pop consumption during high school, but during my sophomore year of college things took a turn for the worse.
I managed to stay away from the fountain pop in the cafeteria for the most part during my  freshman year but during my sophomore year, I had pop all.the.time.  Sometimes with lunch and dinner.  And the occasional glass of pop with breakfast.  This is when I really started to drink Diet Mountain Dew a lot.  Going to school full-time with a full-load of classes, being a member of the softball team, and working 15+ hours a week at a job 30 minutes away really took a toll on my sleeping habits.  I stayed up too late, lived the college lifestyle, and tried to get up too early.  Caffeine was my crutch.  I drank coffee in the mornings and pop in the afternoon.  It kept me awake at work and in class...sometimes.  Admittedly I still fell asleep in my boring classes.  Oops.
Looking back, this is also when I gained weight and was at my poorest health.  Lack of sleep + caffeine consumption = bad. 'Nough said.
I've been able to quell that addiction since then but still drank way to much pop when I was in school at Iowa.  36 oz, or 42 oz. of pop at the Den or the gas station at 9 p.m. at night isn't good either.

Since being done with school I've tried to cut back.  Then I read some articles and blog posts about diet pop and the bad effects it may have.  Like this article.  

Diet pop effects in a nutshell
  • aspartame may raise blood sugar levels
  • those who drank diet soda generally have larger waists than those who do not
  • it can confuse you're hunger alerts in your brain, and may even cause you to crave more sweets
  • can wear away the enamel on your teeth,  protect those pearly whites!
There are probably a million more reasons (some undiscovered) as to why you shouldn't drink diet pop.  So if these reasons aren't enough keep searching.  (Has anyone heard that Coke can take the rust of a nail?  What is that doing to your insides?)

As a personal challenge, I'm giving up pop.  It probably won't be permanently but I need to make it not a habit anymore.  I'm pretty sure it also gives me side cramps when I'm running so this will help me during my training and racing.  So far, I've gone two weeks! I might not be perfect in this goal, but if I can just cut my consumption down to one a week, I will be happy.  

Do you drink pop?  And what do you think about the side effects?

My Almost Puppy and His Haircut

I used to always ask my parents for a pet when I was little and um, even when I was in high school.  I wanted a dog.  But my dad always said no.  I guess I should have learned better, if you want a dog you should ask for a pony first.  Duh.  What was was 17 7 year old self thinking? 

When I started dating Matt, he had two dogs.  Casey and Chief.  Casey was about 13 years old and usually would just lay around all day.   But he was a big fluffy fur ball.  Unfortunately life on the farm was hard for both of those dogs and they didn't make it to our high school graduation. :(  

I even went as far as to ask Matt to get me a puppy to keep at his house.  That didn't really work out either.  

Then Matt's family got a dog.  Rudy.  At first Rudy had a kennel and then an electric fence to keep him in the yard and off the highway.  Then like magic, Rudy's electric fence collar disappeared.  Not to be found anywhere.  I have a sneaking suspicion that he somehow pulled it off and then buried it.  He's a smart dog like that.  Now Rudy is a farm dog.  He helps Matt's dad with chores and chases Zach (Matt's little brother) around when he is riding 4-wheelers or the like.  But I think Rudy's favorite past time is to chase cars and then roll around in some mud.  You see, Rudy is a Border Collie and something other mix.  *I am not a dog expert at all.*  Maybe black lab?  Matt maybe you should correct me. And maybe some other dog stuff mixed in too.

Rudy and I are buds and I always make sure to pet him every time I visit.  He doesn't care much about me and is more intent to sniff my car but hey, beggars can't be choosers.  Sometimes I try to play fetch with him as well.  Mostly it's short-lived as once I throw it once, I might as well kiss that ball goodbye because he ain't even giving it back.

Rudy has a thick fur that usually covered in dried mud and other crap.  And the fur behind his ears gets all bound up with gunk.  He doesn't mind at all and probably would rather his manginess stick around.  Normally he looks about like this.

That's him there right in front.  Don't get him confused with the kid with the weird look on his face on the right.  

Earlier this summer, it was decided that Rudy needed a haircut.  He was getting outta-control dirty and had a few too many ticks.  Off to the doggy barber he went. 

When he returned the results were quite astonishing.

 Look Ma! No hair!

He looks sorta doggy-naked.  But he's still such a cutie-patootie!

Someday I will have a dog of my own, but somehow keeping it inside my tiny little apartment for 12 hours a day just seems way too mean.  I want a big open yard for him to hang out in.  

Did you have any pets growing up?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Camp Courageous Triathlon Race Recap

So I haven't really felt like blogging lately.  I think I was just exhausted and needed to sleep a lot last week.  But I'm back at it this week.

I'm here to report on the Camp Courageous Triathlon that I did over a week ago now on August 7, 2011.  It was a beautiful day and the race was awesome.  The proceeds went to benefit Camp Courageous of Iowa.  I believe that Camp Courageous is a great organization.  From their website

Camp Courageous of Iowa is a year-round respite care and recreational facility for individuals of all ages with disabilities.  The camp was established in 1972 with the first 211 campers attending in the summer of 1974.  Today, Camp Courageous serves nearly 6,000 individuals with disabiliteies are served in a year-round program.
Mission Statement... The mission of Camp Courageous is to provide exceptional year-round recreational and respite care opportunities for individuals with specials needs and their families.  The camp is run primarily on donations, giving all individuals the opportunity to give through gifts of time, materials, money, and other means that support the camp.
It's a pretty awesome place.  So I was thrilled that I would be able to do this triathlon.

Packet pickup was on Saturday evening before the race.  Included with the registration was a free athlete dinner on Saturday.  Matt went with me and his dinner only cost $5.  What a steal!  The Smorgasbord included homemade applesauce, cottage cheese, pasta, ground pork, pesto sauce, and red sauce.  And probably some other things that I forgot since it's been so long.  It was delicious!

Matt and I then road tripped over to Jones County Central Park where the swim was to take place in the morning.  Bikes were to be left there overnight so participants could park at Camp Courageous in the morning.  We had to go home after that and have a slice of lemon cake that I made for my dad.  Perfect pre-race food.

Matt really wanted to go out that night so we ended up going to a bar that night and watching a band.  I had a beer for some extra carbs.  Haha.  Actually I believe in relaxing a bit before a race.  One beer isn't going to hurt me.

I was up bright and early on Sunday to drive over to Camp Courageous.  From there, I took a bus over to the park. I made sure all my stuff was in place for my swim-to-bike transition and got in the water a bit to warm up.  I wanted to get there earlier so I could do a little run and bike warm up but I didn't so oh well.  I'm over it.

My mom and my grandma came to cheer me on.  I was in the last swim wave so I stood around for a while.  They did waves but within the wave they let athletes off one at a time about 3 seconds apart.  I thought that was a pretty neat concept.  Athletes were supposed to seed themselves within their wave.  I didn't really know where to place myself so I just aimed at the middle of the pack.  

Turns out I underestimated myself a little.  I swam the 500 yard swim in 8:54 which was good enough for 14th place overall.  I passed quite a bit of people in the swim.  And by passed I really mean ran into, kicked, conked in the head, or swam over. Okay that really didn't happen every time, but I did swim into a few people.  The swim went great for me, I felt like I was pushing hard but swimming smoothly.  And I stayed fairy well on course.  It can be so hard to swim straight without the black line at the bottom of the pool.

I was out of the water quick and onto the bike.  I think this is the worst transition because you can't dry off very well but still have to put on socks and shoes.

The bike was a mostly flat 16 mile course with a few small hills.  I borrowed Matt's hybrid bike for the race since all I have is a crappy, too small, beaten up mountain bike.  It made a huge difference!  I averaged 17 mph on the bike whereas during my bike training I was only able to average about 11-12 mph.  

I think I could have pushed myself a little more during the bike portion.  I did get passed by a few people, but only one girl in my age group.  And I did pass a few people as well.  

The 16 miles went by fast and before I knew it I was into transition and running out!

Legs always feel like complete jello at this point.  My legs really wanted to walk but I knew if I just pushed through they would loosen up.  The run started with a short stint on a trail which was nice and shady.  

Here you can see me passing another girl in my age group!!

Then it was done a really long and steep hill.  It was nice to go downhill but as one runner said as she flew past me (she was on a team so her legs were fresh!), "This doesn't look very promising!"  Because we had to turn around at the bottom and come right back up.  I kept hoping the bottom of the hill was near but it kept going and going and going.  Finally I made it to the bottom and after a short loop was headed back up.  At  this point I was probably a mile and half into the 4k.  I ran about halfway up before I took a minute - 2 minute walking break.  At the top of the hill was the 2 mile mark so I knew I was almost there.  I tried picking up the speed a little but my legs were sort of shot.

Most of the last half mile was on trails which were shaded again.  Then it opened up back onto the road way for the finish. 

I managed to hold this runner off behind me.

My overall time was 1:35:27!  Woohoo!  I was excited because this was a lot better than I predicted.  I placed 78/175 overall.  

 78 2/6 Alyssa Neiers 23 F 14 8:54 1:47  1:25 109 58:56 17.0  0:31 78  25:43 10:21 1:35:27 

Full results are here.

And it turns out my time was good enough for 2nd in my division! Yippee!
I got a sweet little medal!

I know what you are thinking, I look so awesome post race.  Sexy...not.
I smelled really bad too.

After the race I had some snacks at the huge snack and food bar they had set out for the athletes.  The best part was the frozen lemonade slushies.  So cool and refreshing.

Matt came to cheer me on as well, but this is how he felt about me waking him up at 5 am to give me a ride back to my car.

When I showed up, he woke up enough to ask, "What's that smell?"
"Who wants a hug?"

I went straight home to take a shower after that.  When I pulled off my tank top and sport bra it was covered with dirt and sand from swimming in the lake.  Disgusting.

I lounged around for a little longer and then had steak for lunch.  I was starving!  And my steak was delicious!

The Camp Courageous Triathlon is a great beginners triathlon and the volunteers are absolutely spectacular.  The event went off flawlessly!  Thank you to all the volunteers and supporters who made the day great!

Hope to see you there next year!
(Matt promised me he would participate too!)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Workout woes

I've been feeling a little sluggish lately.  As in, it super hard to motivate myself  to work out and train for this darn triathlon I have coming up.  I know I need to keep training and stay dedicated, but it's also important to take rest days.  Lately though, I've wanted to take more rest days and do less training.  Not so good.  On Tuesday, I was supposed to do a bike session, but when I got home from work--and on the way home too--I was pooped.  Pooped, I tell ya.  So I decided to skip it.  Take another rest day.  Even though I had just taken 2 rest days on Friday and Saturday.  Oh well.  
I think I might be over-trained a bit.  Rest days are important too.  So I'm giving myself a break if I need it.  

But before that break, I'm doing a triathlon this weekend.  It's the Camp Courageous 2nd Annual Triathlon!  I'm very excited and it's just a sprint triathlon so hopefully won't be too taxing on my system.  And even better the net proceeds go to Camp Courageous which is a super awesome charity so I'm pumped.  I'll let you guys know how it turns out.

It turns out when I'm too lazy to workout I'm also too lazy to cook.  But I bit the bullet once this week and ate what I created for the next 3 or 4 meals.  I wish I could just exist on cottage cheese & pineapple and granola bars, but alas that diet isn't so balanced.  And I already eat about a pint of cottage cheese a week.  Oops.  

What was I talking about?  Oh yeah, what I made.  

My mom gave me about 5 ears of sweet corn last time I was home and they were still in my fridge this week. Must use them!

It occurred to me that I had seen a lot of corn recipes from Kristin at Iowa Girl Eats lately.  Duh! a Of course she has a lot of corn recipes, it's Iowa Girl Eats not any other state.  Iowa is only the corn capitol of the world.  

Yumm, I love sweet corn.  and I love when I can eat frozen sweet corn in the middle of winter.  

I started with the Lemon Dressing.
Just combine the juice of 1 1/2 lemons with 4 tablespoons of olive oil.  Next micro-plane 1 clove of garlic and mix in some salt 'n' pepper.  Inhale and enjoy the delicious scent of garlic.  So delectable.  Stir that up nice and good.

Then I worked on the rice, chickpea, tomato salad.  I just made that name up.  Wish I had come up with something more clever.  bleh

I cooked up one cup of Jasmine rice on the side while I prepared the rest of the veggies.

Throw some of the delicious lemon dressing in the pan and get it all heated up.  Toss in a few kernels of corn chopped freshly of 2 cobs and about a quarter onion chopped.  I think this would be better with a red onion.  Just sayin'. 

 Saute that up a bit. Then throw in some bell pepper.  I had green so that's what I rolled with.

Saute some more.
Toss in your rinsed and drained chickpeas.  Or would that be drained and rinsed?
It's always better to rinse these babies because they are salty!  Crazy sodium alert!

Once the rice is nice and fluffy toss that in too. 
Have you ever tried Jasmine rice?  It's fairly new to me and I have to say it's quite tasty.  It gives off a wonderful scent as it's cooking up.  And it's such a fluffy rice.  A nice change up to my usual brown rice. 

Quarter a few tomatoes to your liking and toss those in there as well.  Pour the rest  of the dressing over the top.  

Serve that baby up.

And enjoy.  

The lemon dressing is perfect for this.  Nice and tangy but a little bit sweet.  

Try this out!

Chickpea, Corn, and Rice Salad
1 cup Jasmine rice
2 ears of sweet corn, chopped off
1 quarter onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 can chickpeas
1 large tomato, chopped

Saute in the lemon dressing and pour remaining over the dish at the end.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mom's Best Tater Salad

Last Friday we had a cookout at work.
It's a pretty awesome that we have these things.
They usually include a little bit of beer or margaritas.  
Like I said, AWESOME!

Last time, one of the guys signed up to bring potato salad.
But it was the store bought kind.  
I was very disappointed.

Then last weekend, a friend's mom made some potato salad.
And it was delicious.
So this time for the cookout, I wanted to make potato salad.

Of course I had to make my momma's tater salad.
My momma has some absolutely delicious potato salad.
Make some for yourself or take it to a party!

Boil about 10 medium potatoes for approximately 40 minutes.
Until they are cooked.
While you are doing this, boil up 4 eggs.

I used Russet potatoes but Yukon gold are delicious.
Red potatoes aren't ideal because they get all crumbly in potato salad.

Either run your potatoes under cool water or put in the fridge to cool.

Remove those peels.  
The last time I made potato salad it was with my momma's garden potatoes.  
The consistency of the peel is so much different in store bought potatoes.
Homegrown potatoes tend to have a lot thinner almost more transparent skin.
These babies had really thick, brown skin.
It just makes me love homegrown stuff so much more.

Cube those babies up by cutting them in three directions.
Peel your hard boiled eggs and cubed those up as well.

Then I did something my momma would never do.
I decided I was going to add celery.
This was a big step in the potato salad world.
But I really wanted to add some crunch this time.  
And I kind of like celery.

Chop those 3 stalks up into manageable chunks.

Add all the potatoes, eggs, and celery to a big bowl.

Now it's time for the dressing.
First you are going to need some mustard.
One tablespoon to be exact.
I hate mustard. Ewww.
This is the only thing I will eat mustard in.  In here, it's a must.
I had to buy this especially for the potato salad and it will probably go bad before I use it all.

Two more eggs.

One cuppa suga.
Which used approximately the rest of my sugar.

Put those ingredients in a saucepan and mix well.
The color is quite disgusting.

 Then get out your newly purchased bottle of white vinegar.
Your old bottle will work as well, I guess.

Add 5 tablespoons to your disgusting yellow mixture.

Hmm, yummy vinegar.
Oh wait, that didn't make sense.
All these quite disgusting ingredients mix together to make up something wonderful.

Cook over medium-high heat making sure to stir.
Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes.
Once it cools, add 2 cups of Miracle Whip.

 Stir up nice and good.
Pour over your potato mixture.

And stir up nice and good.

Put it in a new bowl so it looks nice and presentable.
Sprinkle the top with paprika so it looks nice and pretty.
Cool completely.

Then enjoy the wonderfulness that is my momma's tater salad.

I kinda enjoyed the celery.
It give the dish a nice crunch.
And the flavor isn't bad.

My coworkers enjoyed this, but I caught a lot of slack.
Because last time I took my momma's strawberry cake (see a pattern here?).
And everybody absolutely was infatuated with it.
Then they were mad when I didn't bring it again.
Too bad for them.
I was too distracted by eating my potato salad to notice.

Here's the recipe.
Barb's Potato Salad
10 med. potatoes
1 C. sugar
1 T. mustard
2 eggs
5 T. vinegar
2 C. miracle whip
4 hard-boiled eggs
Boil unpeeled potatoes in covered pan about 30 minutes, until tender.  Drain well.  After they have cooled slightly, peel and cube.  While potatoes are cooking, combine sugar, mustard and eggs in saucepan.  Mix well and add vinegar.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until a good boil.  Boil 2 minutes.  Cool completely and add Miracle Whip.  Put cooled cubed potatoes and hard-boiled eggs in large bowl.  Pour dressing mixture over top and stir in. 
May stir in more Miracle Whip if potatoes are not coated.  Cover and chill thoroughly.
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