Thursday, June 30, 2011

5.5 Week Checkpoint

With just over 5 weeks left until the IronGirl, I’m realizing it’s time to get my but in gear in terms of triathlon training. Heading out for a bike ride after work just because I feel like is definitely not going to cut it, especially if I want to do well this year.

So last night I headed to my first CNY Triathlon Club training race and boy did I learn a lot. To say that it was a disaster might be a stretch but it definitely didn’t go well. In all honesty though, it was still a blast and a great learning experience. I feel really lucky to live in a community that has so many great resources for training. We’ve got Kevin’s running program with 200 runners, the CNY Tri Club has over 900 members, the swim clinics at the Y, and too many group rides going on every weekend to name.
Photo Credit:

It’s also way better to know where I stand with 5 weeks to go then to find out the week before like I did last year. That all worked out in the end but the goal this year is to do better.

So what happened? Well let’s start with the fact that the air temperature was only about 64 degrees and it was completely overcast. Exactly the type of weather that makes you want to get in a lake sans wetsuit, right? I wish you could have heard the running commentary going through my head the whole time. Every thought from, “what the hell am I doing?” to, “hey, this isn’t so bad!” and, "OMG I just drank a gallon of lake water I hope this isn't as dirty as Oneida Lake" went through my head at some point or another. It wound up taking me 13 minutes, 35 seconds. Not terrible, but not great either. At least I know that I have some work to do.

Out of the water, up the hill to the transition area, I didn’t feel too bad. I probably could have gone out harder in the swim, but for the first time the effort level was probably right. I threw on some warmer clothes, put on my bike shoes and headed out. Running to the mount area on the bike shoes wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. But unfortunately the bike portion kind of went downhill from there. I was literally getting passed by EVERYONE. I felt so slow and sluggish. My quads were pretty tired from the beginning and I couldn’t figure out why. It was only a 10 mile bike but it felt like FOREVER until the turnaround. The first half took me about 25 minutes. Not great, but it there were a lot more hills than the IronGirl course will have. I finally made it to the turnaround and was feeling pretty decent as I headed back when disaster struck in the form of a pothole. Yup, you guessed it—major flat. Bummer. The bigger bummer? I was still 3 miles from the beach and I didn’t have a flat kit. Needless to say that’s my first stop after work tonight. Luckily, three of the nicest women I’ve ever met stopped, offered me tire irons, spare tubes and a CO2 kit. It was good practice for all of us and I am so grateful to them for their help! Thanks a millions Kristen, Kelly & Denise! I’m sending lots of good karma your way :)
Image from here...I wish I'd been carrying a cell phone!
I finally got back on the road and headed back to transition. I forgot to stop or even look at my watch when I got the flat so I have no idea how long the bike took. I had pretty much decided not to run, but when I got back a woman I had met earlier in the night was waiting for me. She introduced herself as “Crazy Hardcore Lynn.” Love it! Well CHL told me I should run, so I ran. I wasn’t about to be outdone so I had to prove my hardcoreness (if that’s a word).

I’m really, really glad I decided to run. It proved to me that I have the run fitness and that all the hard work I’ve been putting in with Kevin is really paying off. I only ran for about 20 minutes, but I felt really strong and my legs felt surprisingly fresh. It was a great way to end the night and an awesome confidence boost. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Version of a Tri

The running is slowly coming back and I'm feeling pretty decent. Then yesterday, a bomb arrived in my email inbox. The triathlon is only 6 weeks away! Ok, officially panicking a little bit. Luckily, I have my first swim clinic at the Y tonight, and I've been talking with a Tri Coach who I'm hoping can help me put together a plan for the rest of the summer.

I think triathlons are really four pieces—there's the swim, bike and run of course. But the balancing act of training for all three pieces is definitely the fourth piece of the equation.

But for today, I've got my own version of the triathlon to get through: Boot Camp, Run, Swim :) Oh, and yea I have to fit 8 hours of work in there somewhere.

Wish me luck!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lemon Pound Cake with Raspberry Buttercream and Whipped Cream Frosting

I’m going to come right out and say it—I don’t like cake. However, I really like to bake cake. When there’s a special occasion coming up that requires a cake, thoughts of flavor combinations, recipe possibilities and decorating options literally consume me.  This lemon and raspberry combination has been on my mind since before Mother’s Day. I can’t remember why but I didn’t get the chance to make a cake for my mom.

Fast forward to last weekend, when Wegman’s was giving away samples of EVERYTHING while I did my weekly grocery shopping. One of those samples just so happened to be a teeny, tiny piece of white cake with lemon and raspberry fillings and a whipped cream frosting. I only took it so I could eat the frosting. Take it from someone who doesn’t like cake—the flavor combination was incredible. Thoughts of cakes I could bake started to float around in my head with a renewed vigor.

Luckily for me, Father’s Day was fast approaching, along with my Grandma’s 80th Birthday. A little Googling and I found recipes for white cake, lemon buttercream, raspberry buttercream and whipped cream frosting. I blocked off time in my weekend to really do it right.

In the end we (my sister and I) simplified a little, deciding to go with what eventually became the final recipe: Lemon Pound Cake with Raspberry Buttercream Filling and Whipped Cream Frosting. Let me tell you (yes, from someone who doesn’t like cake) this was divine, although some of that may have had to do with how beautifully it came out.

You should try this. And if you don’t want to bake it yourself, I’d be happy to do it for you. For a cost of course. I’ve got to get this baking business off the ground somehow :) I also take custom orders. *Wink, Wink.* If you want me to make a cake for your special occasion, or non occasion, I'd love to do it! I could use all the practice I can get!

Happy Birthday Grandma!
Yea, it's recipes like these that would keep me running if I didn't already love it.

**Update!!! Here's what the cake looked like on the inside :)
Wasn't it gorgeous??

Lemon Cake From Ina Garten/Food Network
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 8" round cake pans. 
Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.
Combime the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. 
Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Poke holes in the cakes with the cake tester. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray then spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
Raspberry Buttercream adapted from Martha Stewart Weddings
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1 pound (4 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 ounces fresh or frozen raspberries, pureed and strained to make 1 cup

Bring a saucepan with about 2 inches of water to a simmer. Combine sugar and whites in a large heatproof mixer bowl set over (not in) simmering water. and Whisk until whites are warm to the touch and sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes.

Place bowl on mixer stand; whisk on low speed until mixture is foamy. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form and mixture is cooled completely, about 10 minutes.

Reduce speed to medium-low; add butter 2 tablespoons at a time, whisking to incorporate fully well after each addition (if buttercream appears curdled, at this point simply beat until smooth). Whisk in vanilla and raspberry puree.

Switch to paddle; beat on low to reduce air bubbles, 3 to 5 minutes. To store, refrigerate airtight up to 3 days, or freeze up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature; beat on low until smooth about 10 minutes.

Whipped Cream Frosting 
highly adapted from Homemade by Holman
2 cups heavy cream
powdered sugar (we used about 6 Tbsp)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chill mixer bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes. Add heavy cream and vanilla and beat (with the whisk attachment) on low speed. Slowly increase to high speed as the cream thickens. Add sugar one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
Frost cake, then decorate!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A World of Difference

It’s amazing the difference a week can make. This time last week I couldn’t run for 15 minutes continuously and I felt like I’d never get back to my old self. But I put in my 15 or 20 minutes every single day, 6 days in a row, and sure enough today I ran for 48 minutes. So it’s not exactly like the long runs I was getting used to but at least I’m starting to feel like I’m going to get there sooner rather than later. I almost got emotional when my GPS said I'd gone over 5 miles. It might not seem like much, but for some reason getting over that hump was a big deal. Total for the day: 5.58 miles in 48:30.

I know that there are still going to be days that are hard and I’m nowhere near where I was at the Race for the Cure. But, I am starting to feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

So now that it’s officially the start of a new week on the log, I’m making the jump to 30 minutes a day. I’m still going to be on the 15-30 side of 30 minutes and I know there might be a day where I have to go less. But I’m going to do my best to hit 30 and hopefully by the end of next week I’ll be back on track. Just in time for the new running group to start. It’ll be perfect timing since we’ll all do three weeks of base runs before we get back into hills and speedwork. It might be sick but I can’t wait.

Plus, my sister and I made possibly the most amazing looking cake ever in the history of our cake baking. I'll post pics and the recipes tomorrow, so check back :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

I Will Be Making These....

Parmesaen Pull Apart Bread

It's like savory Monkey Bread. Yum. Although while I'm at it I should probably make the Monkey Bread, too. Who's up for eating lots of carbs with me? LOL

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Space Between

So I’ve spent this week trying to figure out where I am in that space between what’s written on the log and what I’m able to do. It’s a fine line to walk. But I’ve been putting one foot in front of the other and sure enough, here it is the end of the week and I already feel a little different.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting to be back in perfect form tomorrow or heading out for a 2-hour long run, but I feel confident that I will get there, eventually.

Today we did 10 x 1 minute hard, with 1 minute rest. The first four felt great. My foot started to hurt after that but I was able to finish them all and really only backed off on the last one. Progress! I didn’t feel like I was dying! I think getting back into boot camp and a consistent routine with running is the ticket. I need both the consistent running and the lifting to keep myself where I want to be in terms of both fitness and ability.

I was talking to Kevin today and he said he’s glad I was forced to take the time off, so I could learn my lesson and see what it’s like to go through a set back. I learned. And I think he’s right, I’ll be stronger for it in the end and I’ll remember how hard and frustrating it was, so I won’t do it again. Or, at least I’ll do my best when circumstances are under my control not to do it again.

So there are no magic formulas, except for the one I’m following. It’s working pretty darn well as long as I remember to take a hefty dose of patience with it. :)

I think I'm getting in the pool tomorrow. I've got about a week and a half until the swim class starts up and I've been warned I better be ready for a workout ;)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Back to Basics

Well I’m home from Israel and not exactly settled in or unpacked, but I’m getting there. What’s going to take a little longer is getting back in shape. I knew you could lose fitness fast, but I never for the life of me could have imagined I’d lose both leg strength and cardio fitness as quickly as I did. If you watch me run, you’d think I had never run a day in my life. I’m embarrassed. My stride is off, I feel weak and fat. It has been a struggle for me to get in 15 minutes each day. I’m trying to be patient, and I know there is no magic trick to getting back into shape, but I never imagined it would be this hard.

If anyone has any tips or tricks for getting back into it, I’d really appreciate them. It’s not a mental problem, I want it and getting out on the road isn’t the problem. It’s the way I feel once I’m running. I miss that runner’s high. So how do I get my stride back to normal? Hopefully it doesn’t take as long to get back into shape as it does to get there the first time. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Happy Jerusalem Day!

June 1 just so happens to be Jerusalem Day, the anniversary of the day in 1967 when Jerusalem was recaptured and made a part of Israel once again. We celebrated by taking our group into the Old City for a walking tour and to see the Kotel. After we made our way from the Haas Promenade, an overlook from where you can see the whole city and wound our way to the Old City, we lined the group up with their eyes closed and set the scene for the view they were about to see. We asked them to think about how lucky they were to be in this place on such a special day, to think about their families and theit ancestors who might never seen the view they were about to see. Then we asked them to open their eyes. It was pretty powerful to hear their audible gasps. Then we gave them time to pray at the wall and leave notes.

Afterwards it was time for lunch and we opted to stay in the Jewish Quarter. It was so cool to see and feel the energy of the city on Jerusalem Day. Especially after the Mega Event last night. It is so cool to be a part of something so much bigger than myself. To see the 3,000 participants gather with the donors, soldiers and government officials and realize that we are only 1% of the Birthright family. It's pretty awesome. Our trip is about 1/2 way over and I'm already trying to figure out how I can get back here again and stay involved with this incredible organization.

We are on our way from Jerusalem to the Negev now, and we'll head back to Jerusalem for Shabbat and to wrap up the trip. But first we have a couple of exciting days planned in the desert, including floating in the Dead Sea, climbing Masada and sleeping in a Bedoin Tent.