Littlefoot Triathlon – Race Recap

Oh man.

This summer I planned to do no races, to enjoy my summer, and to go to more happy hours. And I have! I have spent a lot of time drinking beers on patios, sitting on the couch, working, and very little time working out. As a result I’m slightly squishier but a lot less stressed out than I was this time last summer.

But a few weeks ago Chris and I went for a bike ride and then I hopped off and did a short run. Just to see. Just to see how bad a brick might feel. But it was fine! I was hot and tired, but really, it was fine.

So on a whim, with no training, yesterday afternoon I signed up for the Littlefoot Triathlon, a tiny sprint tri that was this morning. (There were only about 150 racers.) I had done two random 5ks this summer, not really trained, and PR’d both! Maybe 2013 was one long taper I’d benefited from immensely.

Ha. Hahahaha. Oh, Past Mel. How did you get so dumb?

I actually had a lot of fun today, but I totally face-planted in the race. The very short version with random crappy iPhone pictures…

The approach:

Most of my gear came together pretty quickly last night except for 10 tense minutes spent looking for a stray cycling glove. (I have super crappy wrists, I need them even for a short ride.) My alarm didn’t go off (I set it for PM instead of AM) but Chris’s alarm woke me up and I got out the door on time. On the way there, I hit a bump on the freeway and in the rear view mirror watched my bike bounce out of its fastenings on the bike rack and slide dangerously close to flying off. Pulled over, adjusted, drove verrrry carefully the rest of the way.

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The swim:

Always my favorite leg, and I love the part before we start where everyone’s in the water chatting. I haven’t swam (in a pool or in a lake) in a year so I was impressed that I could swim a half mile with no breaks. It wasn’t fast, but I swam pretty straight and was able to pass some folks.

The bike:

Bleh. I think I have realized I do not enjoy cycling, especially on my crappy Target bike. The course wasn’t as hilly as I thought, but it was really curvy, so you had zero momentum going into the uphills. Also, my heart rate was like “WHY DID YOU JUST SWIM SO HARD FOR SO LONG? IS SOMETHING CHASING YOU?” and my heart rate would. Not. Come. Down. Not when I slowed down, not when I had water, not when I took it easy on the uphills.

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The run:

I got off the bike and my legs felt okay-ish, but again my heart rate was like “THIS IS NOT DRINKING BEER. WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING??” And by this time it was really hot, and when I tried to run my heart rate exploded and I felt a little dizzy. So since I had no goals, and I was just here for fun, I decided to just walk the 5k. I could have kept up a run/walk situation but…meh. Meh. I say.

I smiled at other racers, chatted with volunteers, and drank a lot of water. It was hot. Then there were fewer people on the course and I got bored. I kind of wished I’d spent my $85 on a new dress.

The finish:

I realized at some point that I was the last finisher, and I felt badly because I think people really like to cheer for last finishers who look like they’re overcoming some hardship but trying really hard. People like it when the last finisher is really old or overweight but doing their best to sprint to the finish! I was just a healthy lady who was not trained at all and being kind of lazy.

When I got to the finish line I tried to nonchalantly saunter across, but the announcer stopped the raffle/awards to call me out, and I waved to the crowd. “Hi! Sorry. Don’t mind me. Are there any vegetarian sandwiches left?” (There weren’t!)

Maybe 15 seconds after I finished, I was slinking off to collect my stuff when the announcer called out my name for first place! Well, only place. In the sadly neglected Athena division. (That means I weigh more than 150 pounds.) I collected my award and marveled at the math that allowed me to be both first and last. Ah, well.

So there’s that. Ninth triathlon in the books. Kind of made an idiot of myself, but I had fun.

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Three footnotes if I could remember how to actually code footnotes:

One, I think I actually came in last place, which is kind of funny. It’s that thing people dread but it’s fine. No one points and laughs at you, you still get the same t-shirt. I’m kind of happy to fall on this sword if it means someone else who would mind doesn’t have to. But, I was also in the last wave, so maybe someone who started 20 minutes ahead of me actually took more time than I did. Who knows.

Two, I wish the Athena division was really a thing. I always sign up for it if it’s an option because seriously, regardless of how in shape you are, it’s just harder to propel 150 pounds around a course than it is 120 pounds, and I’m a big person! I’d like to compete against other big people. I’m tall and broad and the only time in my life I’ve weighed less than 150 pounds was a brief period after college when I engaged in some somewhat disordered habits. Other than that, I’ve fit into the same jeans since high school.

And there were definitely women in that weight range who beat me today who decided to compete in their age group instead. They should have this cool plaque, not me! I mean, to each her own. Thanks for the first place/last place finish, ladies!

Three, race directors: you always run out of the vegetarian sandwiches or burritos! You should have more. I was starving and made a beeline for a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich when I left the park.
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On being a vegetarian

On Thursday someone asked me if I am a vegetarian, and she seemed a little surprised when I said yes. This happens to me from time to time.

And on the one hand, I’m always a little happy when that happens. Sometimes I get on a (tiny) soap box about eating meat. I mean, I don’t run around with pamphlets or anything, but if the topic comes up, I won’t shy away from sharing my thoughts on why it’s pretty gross.

I get the most riled up about chickens (they have the worst lives, get dipped in chlorine before you eat them, and are the most fleshy, you know? Like when you’re eating chicken, it feels the most like you’re eating a body part.) and about pigs (because they are so smart, eating a pig is like eating a dog. Sick.).

My point is that I worry about being a little off-putting, and so it makes me happy when someone I have known for a while doesn’t even know I’m a vegetarian, much less think I’m “militant” (hate that word) or evangelical about it.

But on the other hand, I want to be (a little) loud and proud. Being a vegetarian is empirically better than being an omnivore. And it’s so normal to me now, I sort of just assume people don’t eat meat until I see them doing otherwise, and then I’m a little surprised.

Would you like to see a picture of what I ate for lunch today?

Hi!

Ack! I have my first half marathon on Sunday! And work has been crazy! Also, my house is kind of in chaos as we are adding a second bathroom, so contractors and plumbers and electricians are traipsing in and out all day long. They tell me this will be a shower soon?

The great calming force in my life right now has been that after several attempts, I have mastered the faux Chipotle bowl.

  • Brown rice mixed with the most delicious salsa that exists
  • Black beans
  • Corn
  • A mix of Anaheim, pasilla, and bell peppers
  • Red onions
  • I bring avocado with me to work to add on top at lunch time.

I might be undertrained and overscheduled but having my lunch ready to go in the fridge in the morning makes me feel like I’m winning at life.

I am a (salad) genius

I’m not normally one to take a picture of my lunch. Unless it was especially awesome or I made some recipe I’m in love with. But here I go. This is the salad I ate twenty minutes ago. It’s making me feel like a damn genius.

I really love salads, but I have a mental block on making them because for some reason I have in my head that it’s SO MUCH work and ENDLESS chopping and it’s HARD to make them ahead of time because they get gross sitting in the fridge too long.

Until I had the genius idea at the grocery store on Sunday to make no-chop salads. All ingredients that do not need any further attention before they go in the bowl.

Pre-washed greens
Tiny tomatoes
Bean sprouts 
Walnuts
Feta cheese

Voila. Amazing. Delicious. Filling. Easy. 

What else could I use here? Blacks beans, I guess? Chickpeas, corn. Raisins if I was a person who eats food that looks like bugs.

If I was a real blogger this is where I would end with my bolded, italicized question to prompt you to comment.

What are your favorite lunch time shortcuts?

But I’m not. So here’s a cute picture of Alaska instead. I put this polar bear toy on top of her. Because it was funny.

Weekday Lunches: Whole Wheat Pasta with Pesto and Brocolli

Since I am no longer spending 10-15 hours a week training for triathlons, I suddenly find myself with a lot more time for other things I enjoy. Reading for one thing.  And cooking, for another.

I ate a lot of Chipotle for lunch over the summer.  In part because I was busy and didn’t have as much time to cook, and in part because I was spending a lot of time working out and I was starving all the time and two tacos were just enough food to keep me full for most of the afternoon.

The cold weather makes it feel like the perfect time to spend Sunday nights at home, cooking up food for the week. I tried this out last week, and I’m making it again this week.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Pesto and Brocolli (my incredibly scientific recipe)

Ingredients:

  • Whole wheat pasta (a whole package)
  • Brocolli (a big ole head, cut into bite-sized-ish pieces)
  • Pesto (a small package from the store)
  • Grapeseed oil (or olive oil or whatever oil you like) (a big ole dollop)

Instructions:

Cook up a whole thing of pasta.  Dump in a pre-packaged thing of pesto from the store.  (Last week I made my own walnut-spinach pesto in the food processor.  It was vegan, and it was okay, but it wasn’t great.  I need more practice, and until then I will be using store-bought which is not vegan.)  Mix it all up.  This also serves as an impromptu arm workout.

While the water heats up for the pasta, pour enough oil in the pan to cover the bottom. (I use a cast iron skillet because I worry about getting enough iron in my diet.)  Cook your brocollis until they’re just slightly softer than you like.  The thing about cooking for weekday lunches is that you’re going to microwave this for a minute or two, so it can be about 80% as cooked as it needs to be.

Mix the brocolli with the pasta and put it into whatever hodge podge tupperware you have.  It makes about four good sized servings.

I microwave this for about 90 seconds at work.  With my yucky homemade pesto last week, I added a splash of water to the container before nuking it to add some needed moisture, but I don’t think that will be necessary with the pre-made pesto, since it’s a lot more oily.

This recipe accounts for the fact that you’re going to take a few big bites of pasta once it’s cooked.  And a few big bites of the final product before tupperware-ing it. How much wine you drink while cooking is optional.

I made pizza with nothing but my hands (and wheat, an oven, etc.)

Inspired by this post from healthytippingpoint.com (My new favorite blog) we made pizzas! 

Of course, I can’t follow a recipe to save my life.  So!  I subbed grapeseed oil for vegetable oil in the crust, and I subbed sweet potatoes in for butternut squash in the sauce.  Making my stolen/very slightly modified recipe:

Crust:

  • Package of active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm (not hot) water
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1.5 cups warm water (and another 1/4 cup water added while kneading)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cups organic all-purpose white flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour 

In a small bowl, combine packet of dry yeast with 1/4 cup warm water and honey agave. Let stand for 10 minutes – there should be bubbles!

Combine remaining ingredients, use food processor or knead by hand (we’re knead-y).

Add the yeast and stir/knead for a few minutes, until a sticky and stiff dough forms.
Separate into six balls and place in glass casserole dish.  Cover with clean towel and place outside or another warm spot (on top of the dryer, heater, etc).  Let rise for an hour.

Spread out dough on a greased cookie sheet or pizza stone.  Top with sauce and cheese or other toppings.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes if you plan to freeze or 15 minutes if you’re going to eat right away.

Sauce:

  • Roughly 1/4-1/2 cup Pasta sauce (we had Classico Tomato Basil in the fridge)
  • Equal parts Everything Sauce (Any kind of barbecue sauce would be okay, I suppose, but man this sauce is good.  Just the right amount of spicy and amazing)
  • One sweet potato, microwaved in a towel for six minutes
  • Blend everything in the food processor! Ta-daaaa.  It’s sauce.  And it’s delicious.

Because it’s what we had in the refrigerator and pantry, we topped with black beans, spinach, corn, and red onion, things we pretty much always have in the house.

Nom nom nom.

The blog post I read referenced freezing them, but we just wrapped in tin foil and then put in the fridge.  We took them for lunch and heated up in the toaster oven at work.  Amazing, amazing, amazing.  I have been eating some variation of quinoa+farro+veggies for lunch for like two months straight, so pizza feels like…a mouth vacation.

Healthy Tipping Point is my favorite blog of the genre!  I hope I’m not stepping on any weird internet rules by changing and reposting the original recipe.

Could this be more boring? This is literally what I ate for breakfast.

I sometimes take pictures of things I eat.  And post them on the internet.  I don’t know why we do that.  It’s kind of boring for everyone else.

I do know that this pan of brussels sprouts and bell peppers was so pretty I was compelled to take a picture.

Chopped up veggies are so pretty.  These joined forces with pasta to become this week’s breakfast.  (Breakfast is a time, not a food.)