Grand Prize Announcement!

Exciting News!! Our First Place male and female half marathon runner's will each receive a 2-night stay at the Turtle Bay Resort! Check out and see why you might want to start doing some speedwork!
Click on the link at the right under "Our Sponsors" to go to Turtle Bay's website!

The Never-Ending Climb

And the incline got steeper and steeper...
Treadmill - Hill Program - Monday, August 30

Blah!! I really can't wait until I'm done with Kauai and I don't have to do such an intense hill workout. I really don't mind the "wimpier" hill programs that cap out at 3 or 4... or even 5. But the last few weeks I've been doing the "random" program and I've been getting some really hard programs. Like this one:

the first half hour? No big deal. The whole second half???? I have never been so close to throwing up on the treadmill. I had over-eaten a bit on Sunday night, and thought I was feeling better... until this program. One of those peaks I had to walk (about 30 seconds) and then the second peak I slowed my speed considerably. 6.0? Freakin A. That's just ridiculous for a treadmill workout! I was sweating and dry heaving and trying not to faint or die (that would be awkward). Never have I felt so happy to be done. Even after I got to the "cool down" I struggled because my muscles were so tight after that last half hour.

Then I still had to do the rest of my run... I actually started in a walk and increased speed every 30 seconds or so. My calves were REALLY struggling today.

Happy with the mileage, happy that I managed to suffer and (mostly not suck) at the hill program.

No matter what lighting I take a pic of this skirt, it does not do it justice... it's neon!
L had brought her friend (the crazy one who went on our long run last week with us) to the gym. He seemed to think we were pretty hard core on the treadmill. Yup.

To answer a few questions from last entry (also answered in comments):

@ Average A - I love running in the Newtons! They are a lot more comfortable than my last pair of running shoes. I didn't have any adjustment period at all, but rumor has it that could be because I've done some running in Vibrams.
@ Silly Girl - I got the skirt as a birthday present!! It's different than any other one I have, I love it!
@ Alma F - Eeek... I dont' even know how many (running skirts) I have... Off the top of my head at least a dozen :D

As another aside - @ Little Fruit Fly - I've heard the Goonies song three workouts in a row now.

Random rant:
So one of the races that I registered for (a month or so ago) arbitrarily changed the date of the race to a week later. I found out only because the link on my blog was broken and when I googled there was a little blurb about it. The race director seems to think it's totally my problem and "hopes I'll figure it out." I even booked my travel (package through Orbitz). Still have not seen a refund from the race, and the travel... well, I guess I'm out the money. I don't insure my travel (I had no intention of missing) and the cost to change is just as much as new package. So.Freaking.Pissed. No other races nearby that I can head to instead. Question... Who is at fault here??

Seven days in the laundry room makes one weak

I think today I will spend knitting. The rains have begun, so it's a lovely dark, wet day with chilly floors and a sleepy dog, and I am working on Elijah for my sister's son. I think I might do some spinning, too, and maybe a little cross-stitch. I'll just stop by for a half hour and visit with all my projects, see where everybody's at.

When it comes to doling out the relaxation, I think I am more owed than owing. See how my laundry room looks?

I put a gallon of paint on the wall. Unfortunately, I need another gallon to deal with the other half of the room, so my photos all resolutely face the one direction.

This room is also my 'school room' and though some people on this earth have lovely school rooms with lots of coordinated colours and tasteful wicker baskets in cubbies, I am stuck in the wretched teal laundry room, with some kind of weird rubber floor and no practical (or beautiful) storage options.

But we work with what we have, so I'm slowly transforming this space to be more hospitable. We need to WANT to be in there.

More updates will come. My next priority (after today's binge of laziness) will be getting a roll-end of carpet for the laundryschoolroom. It'll make a big difference.

When I started homeschooling (FOUR years ago, good grief) I resisted all pretense to formality. I didn't like the preoccupation that other HS mothers had with their schoolrooms. It felt like playing, to me - like they were more interested in lining up pretty glass jars with paintbrushes in, than they were in facilitating their children's natural tendency towards discovery.

It was a 'baby' and 'bathwater' thing.

Now, with Charlotte starting Grade Four, I've noticed a few things. Firstly, the higher the grade, the more organisation you need. The simple fact is, there is more to cover. The time commitment is greater, the content is more demanding, the child is more inquisitive and both deserves and can handle more detailed information. A kindergartner can be given an important lesson just by handing them scissors and coloured paper, and reading them "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish". It doesn't keep a nine year-old nearly as busy.

Secondly, the dark, cold, chaotic laundry room just doesn't have the right vibe. The feng shui of the place practically pushes you out of the door physically. It's like a WalMart - the second you walk in, your hips start to hurt, your feet cramp, the fluorescents make your eyelids twitch and you get an irritable headache. That's not good enough for my kids.

Lastly, we keep thinking of it as the 'laundry room'. That is just plain bad prioritising. It can't be 'the laundry room where school happens', it has to be 'the schoolroom where laundry happens'.

So I'm making a schoolroom. It has a map of the world, it has an art line. It has a dictionary and a thesaurus, and a guinea pig. It will have a globe, soon, and a magnetic calendar. It has a weather chart, a planisphere, several compasses and a protractor.

And it will have math, and spelling tests, and hand cramps from writing, and it will have lying-on-the-carpet (when we get one), and listening-to-audiobooks-while-painting, and playing-with-the-guinea-pig, and lying-around-knitting.

So it won't be a place of constriction, or a monument to the mainstream, and it doesn't make me a martinet, or my children droids.

I think I can handle it.

August Bank Holiday weekend (part one)

''It's a bank holiday weekend, nothing ever seems to go wrong..'' sang the Mod band 'Seventeen' in March 1980 - Well, I can tell you this, They were a tad mis-informed 'cos August BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND 2010 saw a fair few things going wrong!! Early Saturday morning (28th August) saw myself, Mikipedia & Archer (collected from Potteric Carr, S.Yorks - Make of that what you will) at Spurn attempting to bag ourselves something along the lines of a Barred Warbler. Unfortunately, the weather had somewhat different ideas with an extremely gusty westerly keeping the majority of the birds well hidden deep amongst the foliage. A Spurn 'Belly-Buster Breakfast' was consumed at the cafe at the point and with our guts rammed, we headed out deep into the point dunes to try and find some scarce! Inevitably all we managed was a poxy Black 'n' White Flycatcher Sp., a Lesser Whitethroat and a Short Eared Owl which incidentally was flushed by the sound emanating from Mikipedias arse! We then headed back to the Obs area to do a spot of Seawatching. Nothing much was doing until a freak storm blitzed its way south and convinced a juv Hen Harrier (269) to come in-off and depart west (reports of a juv Montys that day refer to this bird!). A couple more hours of seeing sweet F.A (and watching Archer once again get seduced by the 'sandman') had the desired(?) effect and forced us to depart, Well an early return would defo put me back in the good books with the missus!! We booted Archer out the motor at Potteric and set off on the short drive home. Now it's at times like this, after a pretty wank days birding, tired & hungry, needing at least a bottle of 'Rouge Juice' and desperately trying to get back in the good books with the other half that you really don't wanna be hearing Mikipedia reading out the following message to you ''probable Kentish Plover at Eyebrook Res!!'' - Now me and that particular species had issues and if there was one bird I wanted to nail (apart from Liz Hurley) it was f*ckin Kentish Plover! Considering the bird was a mere c60 miles away I mentally prepared myself for a dash down to Leics should the next msg regarding it be a positive one! Well, the minutes passed by with no further news, I dropped Mike off at Kirkby and with a chilled out 'c'est la vie' attitude headed home...
Less than 4 minutes from my front door. I heard the pager go 'beep' and with only the Notts/Derbys/Leics channel set to do this, I had a sneaky glance at it and F*CK! There WAS a K.P at Eyebrook! Now to cut a pretty long and laborious episode short, I got the go ahead from the 'boss' (perhaps a bigger shock than the bird to be honest), re-collected Mikipedia and screamed down to Eyebrook! On arrival, we were met by fellow semi-yearlister reprobate, Al Northern who got us straight onto the target! No issues! A smart juv KP bagged at pace (270)! F*ck you Kent! F*ck you Sheppey!
We hung on for an hour or so, collecting our 2nd Pec' Sand of the year, and then retired home after a pretty mashed up day! Below are a few pix taken during the day (in reverse order) - As you can see, insomnia clearly doesn't affect my companions!

DIY PVC Bike Stand / Rack

In a sport where everything is god awful expensive it is nice to sometimes find a DIY project that is simple and will save you some money.  Here is a project I found on Instructables. com on how to make a PVC bike stand/rack.   It was interesting so I gave it a try.

The total cost for two separate bike racks was less than $14 and it took less than 30 minutes (per rack) to complete.  The end result was a great working bike stand.  I use them every day in the garage and I even use them at races.  They are small, light weight, cheap and the design can be easily changed to suit your differing needs.  I had someone at the Hammerhead race this weekend comment on how cool and simple the design was.  He really liked it and was going to go home and make one himself.

When I get sometime I want to modify the design some.  I would like to:
  • Make the upright bar about 1 inch longer.  I find it to be a little too short for my tires.
  • Make the tire resting area (back and bottom) about 1/4 - 1/2 inch wider.  
  • Make the upright bar removable or design a PVC hinge so that the stand will fold up and fit easier in the car.  It may be as easy as not gluing the uprights into place so I can just pull them apart when needed.
  • I would also like to make one for my step-son’s BMX bike so it does not get in the way in the garage.

Someone even created a stand that will accommodate two bikes.

Instructables even has designs for bike repair racks.  I may have to tackle this project in the future also.

PS: The credit for the design and images should be given to (imarunner2 & Amcain)

Ridiculous Runs

Hard Core... part 2?
Outdoor Run - Arvada Loop - Sunday, August 29I raced on Saturday afternoon/evening, then I went to a concert, didn't get home until almost 11 pm. And yet... I set my alarm and diligently got up at 3:58 am to go running with L before she had to go to work at 7 am. It's hard to find lighter/brighter colors to wear so I'm at least *slightly* visible in the dark, but I did my best:

I had a busy day planned AND I just loathe running in the HEAT, so this seemed like a better idea. 

We did the same "Arvada Loop" that we have done a few other times, taking out a few miles to be sure we could finish in time. The nice thing about the loop is that it is mostly well lit, there aren't *too* many busy streets to cross, AND we get in a lot of hills... Anyway. My run was great. Fabulous even. I didn't feel fatigued, I didn't feel hot. I didn't even feel like I needed it, but I took one of the GUs that I had won in a giveaway a few weeks back. Strawberry Banana... and it was pretty good! Thanks again, Stephanie!

Anyway, the "long" run was just short of 8.5 miles, and I felt good the whole time - which is a win.

Part Two of today's blog...

I won a contest!! Woo hoo!!!

The Rules:

1. Answer this question: If you had the chance to go back and change one thing in your life, would you and what would it be?

2. The second thing you have to do is, pick 6 people and give them this award. You then have to inform the person that they have gotten this award.

3. The third and final thing is, thank the person who gave you the award.

The Answers:

1. Well... I couldn't really go back and change anything without changing the super awesome person (I'd like to think) I've become. So the "easy" answer is... nothing. I guess the "real" answer is... I'd have been nicer to my family when I was in high school - and I'll leave it at that.

2. 6 people that I would like to give this award to (in random order):

3. Thanks to Little Fruit Fly in the Rainbow Colored Socks for presenting me with this awesome award. I love reading your blog! (And I really don't know anyone else that actually has "The Goonies R Good Enough" on their iPod, haha).

Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky: Purple Haze Brownies

(N.b., before you get all upset (or excited, depending on what sort of cook you are): they're not that kind of brownie.)

It was the last weekend of summer here ... that is, the last weekend before my students arrive back at work, before Ian transitions to day care for a week and then back to his regular classroom.  I'm sorry to see summer go this year.  Usually I look forward to the first day of school, but in some ways, the start of this year feels too similar, too much like what's gone before it, and I will miss the extra days here and there that I've been able to spend at home.  I also feel like the future is a little hazy this year, and I'm starting the school year with a strange mixture of resignation, apprehension, and anticipation for what's to come.  Nonetheless, we milked the weekend for all it was worth, visiting our CSA farm with bikes this time so that we could take the Lawrence Hopewell Trail through the Mercer Educational Gardens and to two geocaches, playing in the water at a neighbor's birthday party, visiting the llamas and tractors at our county 4H fair and stuffing ourselves full of food you're never supposed to eat (like pulled pork and milkshakes) after we rode the ferris wheel and roller coaster, and hosting my high school English teachers for lunch.  Trying to kiss the sky, I guess, one last time.

We got yet another installment of beets this past week from the CSA.  I decided that I was sick of roasting and eating them (much as beets and goat cheese and spinach make a lovely salad), and that it wasn't fair of me to expect our guests to eat them, either, and that I was going to turn them into dessert.  I'd made Elana's Purple Velvet Torte last year with some success (and may post about that later this week since there are yet more beets in my refrigerator from this week's share), but wanted something a little lighter.  I found this recipe on La Tartine Gourmand, and, having almost exactly 7 oz. beets, knew it was destiny.

You have to sort of channel carrot cake (but fudgy, not cakey) when you eat these--don't expect brownies in the traditional sense of the word.  And if you're looking to hide vegetables, this probably isn't the way to do it; the beets are pretty obvious.  Were I to try these again, I'd probably cook the beets and puree them to get a smoother consistency, taking care that the additional liquid doesn't spoil the fudginess of the brownie.

I hope that you'll give these a shot if you have some extra beets in your refrigerator (or if you want your brownies to pack a little bit of an additional nutritional punch).  Savor every moment; they slip away too fast.
Purple Haze Brownies

3.5 oz (90 g) dark chocolate (I used a 70% cocoa dark chocolate)
3.5 oz (100 g) flour
3.5 oz (100 g) almond flour (I used 150 and 50g. respectively, white and almond flour, because that's what I had; it was fine)
3 oz (90 g) sugar
3 oz (90 g) butter (soft)
4 eggs
7 oz (200 g) shredded raw red beets
1 t. vanilla extract
Confectioner sugar and cocoa for decoration

Start by peeling and shredding the beets. Set aside, and preheat the oven to 350.

Melt 3 oz. of the chocolate in a double boiler (or a microwave, at half power, for a minute at a time, stirring after each minute to see if you're melted enough yet ... you'll know when the chocolate is smooth and shiny).  You'll be chopping the extra .5 oz. to toss into the batter later; set aside.

Cream together (using a food processor, I use my Kitchen Aid Stand) the butter with sugar, and add eggs.  Mix until lighter, then add the chocolate, flour, almond powder, the beets and the vanilla extract, and mix well.  Add chopped chocolate and mix well again.

Grease an 8x8" cake pan, and placed greased parchment paper at the bottom.  Pour the preparation in it and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.   Your brownies are cooked once the blade of a knife comes out dry after you insert the blade in the cake.  I dusted mine with powdered sugar; that's not necessary, but it does make them just a tad sweeter.

Week 29 ~ Crazy

Last week I lost 1 pound and my hubs lost 3 pounds!
So that brings ME to 90 lbs GONE! SWEET!! I am hoping to get into the 180's by the end of this week.

It really has been a crazy week for us with major decisions coming up that would change the future of all our lives, and trying to prepare for my son's Eagle in time, my daughter (who's never done any sport) trying water polo, having a BIG Yard Sale and majorly downsizing and simplifying our lives, trying to get our DJ business going, trying to reduce our expenses, trying to sell our car and buy a van (so we all can fit in a vehicle), trying to prepare for school next week (which hasn't happened yet), needing to connect with a friend in need, and the list goes on and on! It's all good stuff, really, but it can feel quite overwhelming.

Honestly, right now I am missing my sister and family closer around me... or having a good friend or two who would be interested in me and my family... who I could talk to. (Who would actually call me). I feel very isolated, although I know I am not. It's a lie that I've believed (from satan) for so many years that I am insignificant, unwanted, and even a burden in other's lives. Then, when certain things happen, it just reinforces that belief. And a lot of things have encouraged me to believe that lie. It brings me incredible heartache at times. It's like looking at the color blue and trying to convince yourself that it isn't really blue even though everything about it appears to be blue - yet it is a deception.

But my husband has been helping me so much and he is my best friend. I am so thankful for him and his loving nature towards me. Too bad I can't just be with him on a deserted island somewhere!

I have made a new web page called which I have a link to now on the sidebar of this blog. This is where you can see pics of my lean and green meals altogether. Well, I am off with a FULL PLATE today (no pun intended). Have a wonderful, Healthy week, my friends!!

"Wait, wait!" Variation

Everyone was out of the house except Kitcat and me. I was cleaning and Kitcat decided to clean too.

Kitcat cleaned up the bedroom she shares with Mousie and Teddy. It took her a long time and she was very particular about putting everything in it's correct place. I was called in about every 5 seconds to approve her progress, until finally I said "Kitcat, you're doing a great job. How about you come and get me when you are finished doing everything? Okay?"

She agreed.

So a little while later I was summoned to inspect and admire the thoroughly tidied bedroom. "That's fantastic, Kitcat" I praised her. "You have made everything so nice and tidy, and I can actually see the carpet. Well done." And I gave her a big hug.

Kitcat beamed, then held out her hand, "Can I have some pocket money now?"

I put on a sad face, "Oh is that why you cleaned the room? I thought you just wanted to help me do the housework."

"Wait, wait!" Kitcat hurriedly exclaimed. "Actually I DID just want to help you. I love you, mummy."

"I love you more, Kitcat."

"I love you more and more, mummy."

"I love you more and more and yachts and yachts, Kitcat."

"Well I love you yots and yots and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and MORE!!!!" she said breathlessly.

"Well ..... I love you even more than that, Kitcat."

*short pause*

"Wait, wait! I love you the mostest and yotest in the whole wide world and universe," she insisted, eager to have the last word.

*long pause*

When I didn't reply she came up to me and said slyly, "Sooooo - can I have some pocket money?"

SkirtChaser 5K - Saturday, August 28, 2010

Catch Me If You Can...

I signed up for the SkirtChaser 5K a while back - I was super excited because I am usually out of town when the race is here. I mean, $50 for a race, a skirt, AND a pint glass? What a deal!!

L was not going to participate, but I convinced her to sign up... and to join me in wearing monkey knee socks! We had a little trouble getting to the start because mapquest on the iPhone suuuucks, but we got there, found an inexpensive parking garage and walked just a few minutes to the "block party." L got registered, we picked up our bags, and we still had about 45 minutes to kill before the race started. We got in line for the port-o-potties... and they were the best ones ever - they actually flushed! Wow! Guess that's what happens when you have a race geared toward women??

The race is sponsored by "Skirt Sports" but we wore skirts from ""
We started in the middle of the pack, and there was still quite a bit of "dodging" the first half mile or so. I will never be able to figure out why the walkers think they need to be in the front of the pack!!

It. Was. Hot. Like seriously hot. 98 degrees when we last looked in the car. And no shade on the course. The course was a sort of loop that doubled back along the streets of Cherry Creek, a suburb of Denver. There was not a lot of shade and the course was pretty hilly. I was feeling ok the first mile, but I was pacing pretty fast and getting VERY thirsty. There was only one water station on the course, just before the two mile marker. I walked through that and got stuck with a cup of XOOD (omg, the most vile tasting liquid in the world, BLAH) instead of water. It made me feel a little nauseous and I ended up walking a bit more because I felt like I could throw up.

I had not expected the course to be as hilly as it was, and I was super tired and hot and not feeling great, especially after the unexpected drink at the water station. I still managed a decent pace, and the last part of the course (thankfully) was downhill. Physically I was feeling pretty good (except for the heat stroke and dehydration, lol) so I was going pretty fast. I sprinted the last section and crossed... and... even WITH walking at least a minute or two of the course, I set a PR!! Officially the time is 28:17 (almost 30 seconds faster than my PR last winter). Woo hoo! And L totally rocked her only 5K, finishing in 25:30.

The block party was worth the money - they had free beer from a local brewery, free Chipotle, and quite a few vendors. Not to mention a band! We stuck around long enough to eat, but then headed to Denver for the AFI/Green Day show! They put on an AWESOME show! (And yes, L and I were too rushed, hot, etc to even change, so we still wore our running outfits to the concert).

Need For Speed

Treadmill - Friday, August 27

Due to my long run happening on Wednesday morning, I didn't get in my Yasso tempo training... so I switched it to today.

Increase from last week:

  • 10 min @ 5.8 mph
  • 5 sets - 4 min @ 7.5 mph, 4 min @ 3.0 mph (yes, added a set since last week)
  • 10 min @ 6.2 mph
  • 5 min @ 6.3 mph
Only thing to say about this workout is that I like Bart just a *little* less than last week. It's not so much the speed that is the hard part. It is watching myself in the mirror makes me dizzy and I swear I'm going to fly off the treadmill. Not looking forward to adding the sixth set next week. But I desperately want to improve... so there you have it.

I am in love with my heart compression socks from (and the skirt too).


Like a Prayer: Tomato, White Bean, and Bacon Soup

I've been thinking lately about prayer.  Reading ALI blogs, you kind of have to ... there is so much hope, and so much loss, and so many people who support each other on these difficult journeys, that "prayer" becomes part of the common parlance.  Before I go too far here, I should probably make a confession: I attend a UU fellowship, and I'm not sure I'd use the word "pray" to describe my spiritual practice; if anything, it's more like meditation, or communion.  But I do find myself telling people, in times of crisis (for them), that I will pray for them ... because "keep you in my thoughts" doesn't seem like it's enough, nor does it really describe how I feel.  "Hold you to the light," a phrase that some of the others in my fellowship use, also doesn't really fit me.  So I've been wondering: it disingenuous to use "prayer," even when it's not the word I would use for myself?

I just finished reading Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow, and while the book is also about a lot of other things, it's given me some food for thought, about loss, about finding hope, about blogging and telling our stories and making meaning, even when we may not be speaking the same "language" as those who are bearing witness, and about the importance of bearing witness, even when we do not understand.  The plot, in a nutshell, goes like this: skeptical well-educated Jesuit priest/linguist embarks with a group of friends on a mission to make contact with an alien species on another planet, believing that the mission is divinely inspired because of the connections of his friends--all with complementary talents--to the Arecibo observatory, where the signals from the other planet--singing--are first heard.  What begins as hopeful cultural exchange ends in disaster, murder, civil (or interspecies?) war, and the priest's debasement into a sexual slave for the famed alien poet whose songs he once heard on the Arecibo receiver.  The priest, left to cope alone with the loss of his friends and the disfigurement and violation of his body, questions the existence of God, and tries desperately to find meaning in this loss.  The story is told in flashbacks from a hearing where he is forced to recount the painful details of the expedition to an audience of priests and judges who see the mission very differently.

So what does this have to do with anything?  In some ways, so many of us in the ALI community are a little bit like Emilio: on a (divinely) inspired mission (to conceive a child), full of hope, full of faith.  Then, tragedy.  The very thing we believe in turns on us: our bodies betray us, and either we wait, cycle after cycle, for news that seems never to come, or we are about to touch what we came for, and then lose everything, sometimes multiple times.  We are all here because we need to tell the story of our journey, to make sure that people see it as we see it, or at least to let them hear our words.  And we're also here because we need to hear those stories; we need to bear witness so that we can make them real.   There are times when we don't speak the same "language" about ALI.  But that doesn't matter so much as just being here.

Maybe I've just answered my own question about prayer.  That empathy, perhaps, doesn't need to speak the same spiritual language, or that we can use a common language to mean different things that really, in the end, are part of the same feeling, even if they're not part of the same practice.  I'd love to hear what you think, though.

A heavy post for a weekend.  I'll be mulling this over a late-summer warming, comforting soup, for when the nights get a little bit cooler, even when the days are warm.  Thanks for being there for each other here in the blogosphere, for listening, for reading, and for speaking, even when it may be hard to make those translations.

Tomato, White Bean, and Bacon Soup

1/4 pound bacon (veggie bacon is fine ... it's for the smoky flavor and for some fat to cook the onions), diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups peeled, chopped potatoes (recommend Yukon Gold)
6 cups peeled, chopped fresh tomatoes (or canned whole tomatoes with juice)*
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1 15-ounce can white beans, drained (I use canned white beans here for their convenience. If you want you can take this soup up a notch and use dry beans that you've soaked overnight and cooked until soft.)
Salt and pepper to taste
* To peel fresh tomatoes, cut a shallow cross on one end, blanch in boiling water for about 30 seconds, remove from boiling water and the peels should easily come off.  Or, be lazy like me and don't bother peeling them.

Cook bacon on medium heat in a large saucepan until lightly browned and fat is rendered. Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon from the pan. Set on a plate lined with a paper towel.

Add the chopped onion to the pot, cook in the bacon fat on medium heat until soft. Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more. Add the chopped peeled potatoes and cook a few minutes more.

Add the tomatoes and chicken broth. Cook until potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes (or longer).

Stir in the brown sugar. Add half of the beans to the mixture. Use an immersion blender to blend about half of the soup mixture (or blend half of the soup in a standing blender and return to the pot).

Add bacon to the soup and the rest of the beans. Add salt and pepper to taste.

New Training Partner?

Ralston Trail - Thursday, August 26

I ended up having a little extra time between dinner and my adult gymnastics class. Opted to throw A's tricycle in the back of the Jeep and do a quick impromptu run with her on the trail behind the gym.

A is getting better at taking pics!
Psyched to be riding her bike!
I had about a half hour, and I know it "seems" like she is fast on her bike, so I'm assuming if nothing else that she will have to slow down to keep up with me. It's super hot out, but at least the sun is going down so it's not as bad as when I run in the late afternoon.

I have never tried the whole running/biking combo, so I wasn't sure at ALL how it was going to work. Apparently, A's limit is about 10 minutes on the bike before the whining starts and it's no longer "fun." We aren't even halfway yet, and we are going past the park she likes to play at... In the future I need to allow a few extra minutes for her to go down "the big green slide."

We turn around when the trail makes a fork in the road, just under a mile. The way back is rough... A is sad, "my legs are tired!!" and I keep having to go back for her, and giving her an extra push here and there. Overall, she makes it ok, and I keep shouting out encouragement and praise for her keeping up.

Fail on the speed/distance (approx 12 min mile pace for just under 2 miles, but since this wasn't a planned run, it's better than nothing) but major win on getting out there and exercising together. I certainly think by next summer she can be a training partner with me on shorter run days.

Gymnastics was super fun. I can still do a lot of my tricks on beam (most on the "middle size" beam... but I can still land a backwalkover and hold a handstand for 15+ seconds). I forgot how much I like being "good" at something :D I think I have convinced L to join me next week for drop in.

In other related news:

1. Nothing on the job front yet. I might beg to keep my job until the two weeks I have off for Alaska/Greece. No one will hire me with that looming.
2. I gained 2 pounds this week. Thanks, stress.
3. It's been 1000 days since I quit smoking. ONE.THOUSAND.DAYS. I'm awesome!!!

Life Size Barbie Doll

Mousie said, "I just love you so much mummy. I wish you were my barbie doll so I can look after you all the time."

"Will you give me pretty clothes to wear, take me to parties, do my hair, put me in fancy convertible cars and let me be a ballerina, a fashion model, an astronaut or whatever I like?" I asked her.

"Yes! I will!"

"But you won't pull my head off?" I asked, putting on a frightened expression.

"No, and I won't leave you upside down in the toy box either," Mousie replied.

"Or put you in the toy car garage," Kitcat chipped in.

"Or forget to brush your hair and let it get tangled," Ducky said.

"Or leave you lying around on the floor naked," was Teddy's contribution to the conversation.

There was a moment of embarrassed silence as their minds collectively shied away from the visual of mummy lying on the floor with no clothes on ....

Then they all burst out with "Ewwww! Gross!! Don't think about that!"

So it looks like I don't get to be a barbie doll after all.

Happy Birthday and Virtual Race for MCM Mama!

Big Arvada Loop - Wednesday, August 25

I have not been getting in my long runs... Meaning, the goal I had for this morning was more than 3 miles longer than anything I have ever run before. MCM Mama hosted a variety of options for a big 4-0 birthday virtual race. Due to my current training schedule, nothing really fit... So I opted to double up the middle distance of 8.25 for a total of 16.5 miles. Um. Wow. So my ultimate plan was to complete this insanely far distance. In less than 3 hours. Before work. In order for this to work, I would have to get up ridiculously early. And I was SUPER nervous since I've never run anything further than 13.1 miles. So I didn't get much sleep, but at least I was smart enough to get everything ready the night before:

My alarm went off (even though I had woken up at least 3 times in the night to make sure I didn't oversleep). The finished outfit:

I headed upstairs - ahead of schedule!

Oy. I had no clue I would ever be this hardcore... haha. Quick breakfast:

Pre-race pic of me and my lovely sister that I convinced to join me since it was SO early and SO dark out:

L's friend, John, was insane enough to want to join us. That made us both feel better though. We headed out, and I knew that the course I had mapped was going to be a little hilly, but it was the easiest and most direct way to get all the miles in without having to cross too many busy streets. We took our first brief walk break pretty early, but that was after 2 miles of pretty big hills. We did not walk again until we had done the first 10K, and even then we only walked to open a bag of GU Blueberry Pomegranate Chomps (I had never had them before and don't think I'll get again. Product is sticky and bag was hard for me to open). Anyway, it was super nice temps out, mid 50s. SOOO much better than running the sweltering heat, even IF I did give up 3 hours of sleep :D

We hit the turnaround point, and it FINALLY started to get a bit light out. We had an emergency bathroom stop at about 10.5 miles (thank goodness we were by an open space that had a few port-o-potties!)

Went ahead and ate our "Espresso Love" GU and then headed out for the remaining 6 miles. My legs were a little tired, but it was nice having the company, and while we were somewhat slow going, the temps made it all bearable. The goal was to finish in 3 hours, but I mapped it about .2 short, and we finished in just over 3 hours and 6 minutes. I'd call that success for my longest training run to date! Thanks for the motivation to get me going, and a big happy birthday to you, MCM Mama!!


12 min spilt is when I couldn't open Chomps and 13 min split is bathroom break
I am PSYCHED that I was able to run this far... only a few walk breaks, and a lot of them were unavoidable (crossing streets). I may actually be able to run this marathon without dying :D

Cats, Bags, and Vegetarian NoNoodle Lasagne

Well, it's done.  Cat's out of the bag.  Everyone knows; I told my boss, and then I made it facebook-official.  It's just easier that way; though I've read a lot of posts lately about how ecstatic facebook posts are less-than-welcome news for my fellow ALI community members, I weighed the options, and decided to go for it.  And then, I was doing a training for about 100 students this afternoon, and one of them asked me about a course I regularly teach in the spring, so I told them, too.  What the hell, I thought.  When I think about what I've done, it's a little scary ... if things don't work out now, there are a lot of people who know, and would have to be told otherwise.  But there would be a lot of people who'd know anyway, if they saw me on the street.

My boss was spectacularly supportive, said that she saw my name on her calendar, and was hoping that was what I was coming to see her about.  Told me that we'd figure out a way to help me take the time I needed, even if we needed to hire an extra hand for some of the work that I could parcel out (me: um, with a 96 million dollar budget gap for the year? really?).  I have a long list of things that need to get done in the spring: there are lots of moving parts, some of which could be done by someone else, all of which need some sort of central brain for coordination.  But it's good that she thinks this is possible, and she even said I should entertain the idea of spending as much time at home over the summer as possible.  She wants me to talk with her boss (which I'd planned to do anyway, since he's the one with decision-making power over the unit), but said I should ask for what I need.  A flexible work schedule for five months would be a dream.  Of course, she's a faculty member, so she can imagine things like that.

Then again, what she didn't say to me today, and what I happen to know from a "grapevine" conversation I had yesterday, is that she's leaving in January.  Leaving her position, and leaving the country for an exchange.  Which is lovely for her, but also means that I'm talking with a lame-duck boss, and that I'll be greeting the new person who starts in that position with a half-assed presence in my office.  Nothing like making a great first impression.

But I can't worry about that now.  Right now, I've got a bean doing some serious back flips in utero.  And plenty of work to keep me busy as the semester starts, and a husband who is out of town for the week, and an almost-four-year old who has been mischievous as all get-out lately and a huge pain to get out the door by 7:15am, and laundry to do, and dinner to cook, and cupcakes to make for the two new neighbors on our block.

Technically, I made this dish last week, but it's an opportune moment to share it with you, because it uses more eggplant (4 pounds of which arrived this week in our CSA share), and you could use homemade tomato sauce if you're drowning in tomatoes and are so inclined, and it's one of those things you can throw together when you have about a billion other things to worry about, and it doesn't heat up your kitchen if you're still in the middle of summer, like we are here.  I was anti-crock pot for a long time, until I discovered that you could do things with it other than what my mother did with it when I was growing up--things that didn't involve meat that came out like shoe leather.  Things with ... horrors ... VEGETABLES.


No-Noodle Vegetable Lasagna
adapted from Stephanie O'Dea's Year of Slow Cooking

1 26 oz jar tomato sauce 
1 small container of ricotta cheese (I recycled the plastic already. 10 oz? 12 oz?) 
12 slices of mozzarella cheese 
1 c. shredded mozzarella
1 c. shredded parmesan
1 large eggplant, sliced 1/4" thick
3 zucchini, sliced 1/4" thick
1 lb. sliced mushrooms
bag of baby spinach 
2 T. warm water

In the bottom of your crockpot, pour about 1/4 cup of tomato sauce. Layer squash and eggplant to cover the bottom. Smear about a third of your ricotta cheese on top. Add a handful of baby spinach and mushrooms, and a few slices of mozzarella cheese. Cover with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Continue layering the ingredients until your crockpot is full, and you have run out of ingredients. Top with the end of the pasta sauce and the shredded cheese. Eat any remaining ingredients.  Put 2 tablespoons of warm water into the empty pasta sauce jar, cover, and shake. Pour the remaining sauce on top of everything.
Cover your crockpot and cook on low for 5-8 hours. I usually leave it on for 6, but then it stays on the warm setting for the rest of the day.

Oh please, No more spandex and speedos!!

There is no possible way to look good in triathlon clothing!!  I am a fairly slim guy and I am in decent shape and I still look like an idiot in spandex.  God forbid you are overweight then you just look completely ridiculous.  You either need to be an 18 year old girl with a body of a supermodel or have a chiseled body like Arnold Schwarzenegger to look good in triathlon clothing.

How do overweight people find sizes for them?  My triathlon shirt is an EXTRA LARGE and I am not a big guy!!   When I tried on a large shirt I felt like a baboon trying to get into a bra that was 3 sizes too small.  Seriously, I  almost  got stuck getting into and out of it.  Now, that would have been comical at the race store!  "Excuse me Miss, can you get a crowbar and get this shirt off me".

Now these outfits are suppose to be skin tight to help with aerodynamics and streamlining.  I do not care how tight you make these outfits; if you do not have the body like a supermodel, a chiseled chest  and/or you are not an elite athlete there is no streamlining you.  It's like streamlining a big yellow bus.  It just isn't going to happen.

 So why don't manufactures make outfits for “normal” people?  Outfits that don't make us look completely ridiculous.  If you walked into ANYWHERE with this outfit on you would get some pretty strange looks (unless it was a Village People reunion).

My only relief is that everyone else around me looks like idiots also.  Except for those perfect body types that I only see for about the first 5 seconds of the race and never see them again because they are so fast (and streamlined).  I think they are the lucky ones.  They are so fast that very few people actually get to see them in these ridiculous clothes.

The blog, Steve in a Speedo? Gross!, has taken this to a whole new level.  He purposely went out and bought the brightest speedo possible to make a joke of it. This post can be found here, and here. This is a great blog and I encourage you to follow it if you are interested in triathlons.  He has a weird sense of humor like me.

Think Pink

Treadmill - Random Hill Programs - Monday, August 23

Anything had to be better than the run yesterday, so I wasn't dreading the treadmill as much as usual. And... with an outfit like this, what's NOT to be happy about??

Have you ever in your life seen so much bright pink in one place? Which leads me to the question of the blog... I've been a gym rat for years... I have nicknames for most of the other regulars. I occasionally wonder what MY name would be. If you saw someone wearing the above attire at the gym (think 24 Hour Fitness), what would YOU call her? LOL...

First random hill program:

I did this program for 41 minutes. I paused to go to the bathroom and get water and it reset. The next 19 minutes were this program (capping at level 6, blah!!)

Total for short program...

And then a nice 10 minute run with no incline. Always seems SO easy after the hill programs!

Other random tidbits:

1. Yurbuds work just as well on the treadmill. Did not fall out. I can't believe they actually work!
2. My boss suggested my last day of work be on the 31st - makes it easier for payroll. So I have one week... better get started on the "life plan"
3. First day of school today!!

Left: H (my niece) Right: A (my daughter)
Walking to new school
New classroom, but she has same teachers as last year

5th Annual Fall Triathlon Festival Olympic

My Results
SwimTm:     0:20:17.732
T0Tm:         0:00:32.995
T1Tm:         0:02:19.643
BikeTm:      1:13:15.845
T2Tm:         0:00:33.918
RunTm:       0:58:46.610
TotalTm:     2:35:46.743
Overall        69 / 107
M 30-34      7 / 8

5th Annual Fall Triathlon Festival Olympic 

So one more race in the books (defiantly not the record books).  On Sunday I completed the 5th Annual Fall Triathlon Festival Olympic.  Overall I think I did well (at least for me).  I placed 69th out of 107 participants.  Not great but not bad.

My swim was what I expected (which was average).  I swam 1500m in 22:17.732s.  That is darn good if you take into consideration I swam breast stroke the entire race.  That means my breast stroke is as fast as most peoples crawl (freestyle) for 1500m.  Not to bad.

I learned a great lesson during this swim, stop trying to race your swim.  I know I can not be at the head of the pack but I know I can be ahead of the middle if I stop racing and concentrate on my form.  On lap two I started to concentrate only on my form and then I started to pass people.

This race had some great cyclists.  My average was just over 20mph on the bike for 24 miles (not drafting). Not bad considering I have only been cycling for about 3 months now.   It’s always a pleasure passing someone who owns a $3K - $6K all carbon TT bike who does not know how to ride to it.  Unless you are an elite (or really dare good) cyclist you can hall butt on a normal road bike.  I have seen many A class cyclist ride 20+ mph on a normal inexpensive road bikes.  I think it is an ego thing sometimes.

My run was not my best.  I held a 10.29 min/miles pace for 5.6 miles.  The first 3 miles were horrible.  I could not get a steady pace going.  But this is normal for me.  I have been training most of the year for half marathons (13.1 miles) and I do not normally start to feel good till after the 3 mile mark.  The heat was also in the 90s so that did not help matters.  After mile 4 I felt pretty good and started to hold a more constant pace.

It’s been in the feels like 100s here in FL all summer so I have slacked on my running.  After Bernadette finishes Chicago she is going to have to kick my butt back into gear (if I can still keep up with her).

After the race I tried to cool down and could not.  I was not dehydrated but my body temperature would not cool down.  I could not stop sweating like a race horse even after waiting around for 30 minutes.  So I decided to jump into the lake for 30 minutes till my core temperature went down.  Finally it calmed down and I started to sweat at normal levels.

Overall I was happy with my performance.  I had no knee pains.  My current cycle training shown through on
the riding which I was really happy with. My swim was average and I learned a great lesson.  

Race Grade: C-
The event itself was just OK at best, I would give it a D grade.  But a typical Butter race. I had fun and that is all that matters.

1.    The Transition Area (Grade F):  No security whats-so-ever.  If you wanted to steal a $6K bike no one would have stopped you or noticed.  None riders walked freely though the transition area with no one stopping them.  The people taking down the bike rails were in such a hurry to leave one of them started to move people’s bikes till I said that would not be a smart idea.  The volunteer got the point when I told her she was moving a $6K bike and the owner would not be happy if they could not find it where they placed it.  Butter is known for splitting and running after races.  I had the same problem on a trail run earlier in the year.

2.    Judges (Grade F):  There was not a judge to be found.  People were wearing headphones during the cycling portion (very dangerous).  Many people were illegally drafting on the cycle.    

3.    The Swim (Grade B):  Nothing really wrong here.  Directions were clear and people went off in the correct waves.  The water was darker than coffee but they could not help that.

4.    The Cycling (Grade A):  The ride was very pleasant and there were plenty of people directing traffic and pointing out the turns.  Great job here.  Too many people were drafting though. 

5.    The Run (Grade D): Most people were just happy they did not run out of water like last year.    There were definitely not enough volunteers on the run.  Water placement was sparse over the run and the volunteers handing it out seemed like they could care less and wanted to go home.  The only sports drink to be found was that the transition area and it was warm.  No sports drinks, supplements or food to be found anywhere during the race.  Really?!?!  You paid good money for this race, it is feels like 100 degrees and you can only give out warm water.  Every water station during the run had only one volunteer so you were lucky if they handed you a drink.  It was also a trail run which I like but most do not.  It was slightly muddy in some areas but it was shaded and pretty.

6. Race Results (Grade B):  They were very fast and efficient at getting out the race times at the race.  Race results were posted online within a few hours. The photos are taking a few days to get up because of "technical issues."

Photos were done by Gray Quetti Photography (

Ronnie James Dio Pose (Every race must have one)
Not me but an awesome shot