Friday, August 19, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes and Cream Cheese Frosting

Yay! A recipe!

There's not really much to say about this one, except that I was in the mood to bake and for some reason I wanted to make something tried and true. Scooping out dozens of cookies felt like too much work. Plus, I wanted to frost what ever I made. So that meant either the Silver Palette Carrot Cake or these Red Velvet Cupcakes (from Bakerella).

I last made these for my roommates birthday and they were a hit, so despite the lack of a special occasion, I ran to Wegmans for red food coloring and buttermilk.

Anyway, they came out great. The only thing I can't figure out it why the tops have a slight crisp to them. They're not over done. The insides are perfectly moist, they just spring back when you touch them and they taste great. But I can't figure out what would make that top layer crust over? Any ideas?

Ugh. I need to stop using my iPhone for pics.
The Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe is from here.

My go to Cream Cheese Frosting recipe is the one that accompanies the Silver Palette Carrot Cake recipe and you really can't go wrong with it. It's perfect :) The lemon at the end is optional, and I normally don't use it, but today I did. I'll never leave it out again.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. Cream Cheese
6 Tbsp. Butter
~3 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
Juice of 1/2 Lemon (opt.)

Cream together butter and cream cheese. Add powdered sugar slowly (1/2 cup at a time). Mix well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and lemon juice.

Frost. Makes enough for more than 2 dozen cupcakes, or 2 9-inch layer cakes.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Aero Bars and Motivation

I have one and I'm lacking the other.

I got the aero bars the day after the Iron Girl triathlon. (Great timing, I know.) I took 'em out for a spin that day and promptly fell in love. The pain in my back that had been getting worse while riding was virtually eliminated. Plus, I felt really fast and professional. Then...I got busy and didn't ride again until Saturday.

We rode the Skinnyman course bright and early Saturday morning, which meant leaving my house at 6:30 am, after getting home from camp at midnight (and doing a rare Friday morning boot camp). Needless to say I was tired. Riding those hills was crazy hard, and I lost site of the lead rider, which meant I had to keep stopping to check my cue sheet. Despite that, the other eight people didn't catch me until the last turn. So I felt slow, but I guess I couldn't have been doing too badly for my first try if everyone else was struggling.

I'm hoping that when I ride the course again this week I'll feel a little faster. I don't have big aspirations for Skaneateles. I think having a race after my A race wasn't the best idea. There was so much build up to the Iron Girl, I was so focused on doing well there, that when it was over I was left with a little bit of a, "what now?" kind of feeling. Oh yea, another race.

But this week has been better, I think I have my focus back. I'm working on the motivation. Right now it's more obligation than motivation, but at least I'm getting all the workouts in. Two weeks from Saturday! Which means only one week till I get to taper. (I never thought I'd ever type the words get to taper.)

And with this race falling Labor Day weekend, I feel like my life is racing in to the Fall. I start coaching varsity gymnastics next week, then it's Labor Day and soon enough the weather will start to change. I'm not wishing summer away, but I do love Fall. Cooler weather for running, apple picking, leaves changing, even the Jewish Holidays and of course, my birthday :). I'm also ready to focus on running again, see how much better I can be when I'm just focusing on one sport. I think taking a break from focusing on running was good for me this summer. But now I'm ready to get back to giving it my all.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Iron Girl: Race Report

Another Iron Girl in the books! 

Swim start!
So I didn’t make my time goal. But given that this year’s Iron Girl was longer than last year and there was my complete and utter lack of sleep over the last three days that had me begging for sips of coffee from my parents right before the start? I’m ok with it.

Marilyn and me @the start!
And yea, you read that right. The race was longer than last year, even though it was supposed to be the same course. This year’s swim was a full 600 meters (verses last year’s ~500—apparently the buoys blew in.) Then, because there were so many more people, they moved transition really far back from the beach. So, despite all that, I came in at 1:38. Not too far off my time goal. But, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that because of the changes, you really can’t compare this year and last year, so that makes my goals kinda moot. 

Case in point: the winning time was 5 minutes slower than last year (and it was the same girl). So I’m pretty darn happy to have gotten 8 minutes faster when the winner slowed down by a pretty good amount.

The swim was rough. I spent 13 minutes in the water, fighting waves, seaweed and the girl next to me who decided to cling to my side for. The. Entire. Swim. I would move forward, she’d follow. I’d slow down, she’d slow down. I went left, she’d go left. You get the idea. She even had a wetsuit on (I don’t wear one). At one point she was literally on top of me. We also got caught up behind some slower swimmers from the wave in front of us. That was hard, and I felt pretty sick getting out of the water. I think I’m going to try earplugs (someone told me they help with the sick/dizzy feeling when you get out of the water).

By the time on got on the bike I was feeling a lot better. The first 17 miles of the ride were fantastic. I was passing people (and never got passed!) and felt really strong. A huge shout out to the guys at Bike Loft East for taking the time to make my bike fit right—it made a huge difference! It started to rain right before I got to the iron bridge, so I pedaled as hard as I could so I could get over it before it got really soaked. Mission accomplished, I didn’t fall! Really, the only bad part was right before the last turn back to transition. A car came up on my left, and slowed to a stop, blocking the intersection, right as I was trying to turn left. I had to come to almost a complete stop, go past the turn and turn all the way around. It slowed me up a little but I’m just really glad I didn’t get hit!

The run was the run. It’s definitely my strongest segment, but unfortunately it’s last! Well, maybe not unfortunately. I’m not sure I could swim last, lol! I was just trying to run consistently. Lately in races I’ve been going out too fast and I wanted to avoid that. I think I ran pretty steadily. About a mile in I saw another 20-24 year old for the first time as she ran past me. Oh well. I guess it means I was in first place until then! I let her go. She was running too fast for me and I wanted to be able to finish strong without having to walk.

So close!
It all worked out in the end though. That last goal? The one I was aware was completely out of my control? Achieved! I came in second in my age group and have a really pretty new necklace to show for it. It was so fun to hear my name called and all the people from the Y cheering for me. Definitely a flashback to gymnastics meets. I guess we never get over that little thrill. Oh, and I was 31 overall (out of 1,047). Here are the official results.

I spent the rest of the day trying to decide which was more comfortable, the couch or the bed (my parents couch won out!). But tomorrow I’m back up and at ‘em. Skinnyman is less than a month away!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Healthier Cinnamon Chip Banana Bread

I know I written about this one before. But I couldn't pass up the chance to revisit it, especially since I tried an idea that I've had in the back of my head for a while. I was worried it would be like committing a crime against my favorite recipe, but miracle of miracles, it worked!

Here's the original for your reference.

It's funny how I wrote that you could mess with this recipe and it will still turn out. I had forgotten about that. But it still holds true.

Here's what I did: subbed out half the white flour for whole wheat (1 cup). Got rid of all the oil, and used applesauce (1/2 cup). Then I didn't bother with chocolate chips (we didn't have any). The baking time was a little shorter, but that may have been thanks to my parents' amazing new oven. Just keep an eye on it.

So how'd it taste? Pretty darn amazing if I do say so myself. (My mom and sister agreed.) It wasn't exactly the same, and it definitely tastes a little healthy, but to me that's a good thing. I really liked it, and I'll definitely do it this way again. Not every time, but whenever I'm feeling the need to be a little bit good while I'm being bad :)

Crappy iPhone alert...


This quote has been sitting in a sticky note on my work computer for more that a year now. I happened to glance over at it this morning and realized it perfectly suited my mood for today.

Facebook said it was too long to post as a status so here it is. (I think it's from a Nike ad, but I'm not 100% sure.)

“You pretended the snooze button didn’t exist. You dragged your butt out of bed while others slept. While others ate their pancakes you had a feast of protein, glucose and electrolytes. You double-knotted. You left the porch light on and locked the door behind you.
You ran 5Ks, 10Ks, 26.2 miles. Some days more, some days less. You rewarded a long run with a short run. And a short run with a long run. Rain tried to slow you. Sun tried to microwave you. Snow made you feel like a warrior.
You cramped. You bonked. You paid no mind to comfort. On weekends. On holidays. You made excuses to keep going. Questioned yourself. Played mind games. Put your heart before your knees. Listened to your breathing. Sweat sunscreen into your eyes. Worked on your farmer’s tan.
You hit the wall. You went through it. You decided to be man about it. You decided to be woman about it. Finished what you started. Proved what you were made of. Just kept putting mile after mile on your interval odometer. For 25 years, you ran. And we ran with you. How much farther will we go? As far as you will.” 

T-minus 2 Days!

i.e. taper week. Yikes! Tapering is making me crazy! I’ve been second guessing all the hard work I put in and using every last ounce of willpower not to try and a squeeze in just one more run. But I’ve been good. I’ve been taking it easy, drinking lots of water and watching videos on how to change a flat tire.

But still, I’m freaking out a little bit. I’ve been saying all along that I have a couple of goals for this race. The ones I can control? Finishing the swim in 10 minutes, making smooth transitions, doing the bike course in sub-55 minutes and running a sub-25 minute 5k. My overall time goal is 1:35:00. But I’d like to be closer to 1:30:00. That’s all fine. I’m trying to be confident in the time and work I’ve been putting in the bank all summer. But there’s a nagging goal in the back of my head that just won’t leave me alone. I’d like to place in my age group because eventually (not this year) I’d like to qualify for an age group spot at the short course nationals.

It’s my competitive side coming out, but I know that I can’t control what anyone else does out there. So I know I just need to go out there and do my best, but I’ve been wasting energy worrying about the what ifs. I’ve been eating, sleeping and breathing triathlons for the past 5 weeks, but I worry I started too late. I’ve been worrying about getting a flat, my shins cramping, rain, swimming off course, and just plain bonking. The worst one though is that I’ve been worrying about letting people down.

Not that there is anyone in the world who would be disappointed in me, unless I quit. And that would be hella lame. And not happening. But as much as I love hearing from people who think I’m gonna kick this thing’s butt, it still makes me a little nervous. But on the other hand it fires me up, so I’m hoping that once that starting gun goes off, all that will stop mattering and I’ll be able to just focus on doing what I know how to do and doing it well.

I’ve been bringing back the old visualization trick. It used to calm pre-gymnastics meet jitters, so I’m hoping it works here.

I’ve been looking forward to this for so long. I can’t believe it’s here already. Despite the nagging voice in my head (it’s the taper talking), when it goes quiet for a minute I’m actually feeling pretty darn confident. I can’t wait to get up at 4 am on Sunday. Keep your fingers crossed for dry weather!