Kelly the Culinarian: July 2016

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. We celebrated Z's seventh year in high style this weekend, complete with a unicorn-themed birthday bash. When she woke up on her actual birthday, we filled her room with balloons, let her open her presents from family and then went out to breakfast. It was a great weekend for everyone.

2. Also in honor of the birthday girl, we took the kids to their first Detroit Tigers game. We got club-level seats so we could enjoy air conditioning and prime seating. It was money well-spent because we could go in and out. I also felt like all the lines were shorter and the bathrooms were cleaner. If only the Tigers won, it would've been a perfect day. The highlight for the kids was running the bases and giving Southpaw a high five.

3. We're a little less than six weeks away from Ironman Wisconsin and let me tell you, I am concerned. I haven't swam much at all. I've done a century, and can bust out a half marathon on the treadmill any given Sunday. I'm also pretty religious about my twice-a-week Crossfit game. I'm not doing as much this season as I did for my first IMWI, but I also have some big training days coming up. We have a long swim event, which I think we'll predicate with a long brick day. We're looking at a century this weekend, and we have one more weekend in late August to do with what we wish. Any recommendations?

This counts, right?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

2016 Door County Half Iron Race Report

Six-word recap: Treacherous weather, shortened course, kicked ass.

This race was really one for the record books. In our second year doing the Door County Half Iron Triathlon, we watched the weather all week and had a pretty scary start, but I couldn't have had a better day overall. Read last year's recap.

Backing up, we retrieved Alyssa Saturday morning and made the drive to Door County. We went straight to packet pick up to get our stuff. One of the many advantages of this race is that bib numbers are assigned at pick up, so the three of us racked our bikes together as numbers 274, 275 and 276. Before that could happen, we went and checked in at our campground. This year, we sprung for a cabin with real beds and air conditioning. It was a good investment, since we knew storms were in the forecast.

We had a super awesome pizza dinner and pre-race beers, because why scrimp when you're about to do a half ironman? We knew the weather rolling in didn't look great, but went to bed by 9 p.m. anyhow.

When we woke up, this was rolling in.

We still left our cabin by 7 a.m. and rolled into transition with about five minutes left before it closes. No biggie, we've done it before. I was so worried about the weather I barely had the chance to get nervous. Transition was about to close when they announced that most of the severe weather looked like it would go south, but they were going to delay the race to see. The most they could delay was 90 minutes, so they told us they would reconvene at 9:30. We saw people completely load out their transition areas and presumably go home. We just went to the car and drank coffee and took a million pre-race poops.

I have to hand it to the race directors. They fought and struggles and bargained to give us a race that day. Ironman Racine 70.3 happened the same day and they just called off the swim. At 9:15, we heard that we would have a sprint swim and a full bike and run. Racine got a 30-mile bike and a half marathon run.

So we dropped off all our stuff and hurried down to the beach. It continued to rain, heavily at times, as we tried to get into wetsuits. Waiting in the water for the start was miserable. I was so cold I was losing sensation in my fingers and toes.

I was the last wave, so we watched Brent took off, then I saw Alyssa leave me. It was raining cats and dogs by the time my wave pushed off and I started to panic pretty early. The water was churning and my wetsuit felt tight around the neck. It was not a good situation. I kept telling myself to just swim because it would only take a few minutes if I stopped being a wimp.

Sure enough, the shore was within sight in no time and I was getting my wetsuit stripped before I knew it. I ran into transition and put on my wet bike shoes. Right off the mount line, I felt great. I started passing people with gusto and was feeling confident pushing speeds in the low 20s. I was worried that I was going to regret my early speed later in the day, so I dialed back to try and meter my efforts. I saw Alyssa in the first five miles, and stopped to use the bathroom about 15 miles in. Our paths crossed again after that, and it was about mile 25 that I realized I was still wearing my swim cap. Nothing I could do about it at that point, and it probably kept me warm through some pretty crappy rain, so oh well.

Elite Pro in the house, folks
It rained for the first hour-ish of the bike, then it was overcast. This probably helped my day overall. I had a gel on the bike, and towards the end of the three-hour ride, I was hungry. I forgot that in delaying my start wave by almost two hours, I was pushing well into the lunchtime hour. I didn't pack any real food, and there wasn't anything on the course. I tried to take a salt stick, but they had dissolved in my bike bag. I drank three Gatorade Endurance bottles and at least as many water bottles, which meant I had to pee again when I hit transition.

I saw Alyssa again in T2, where I showed her my hilarious swim cap mistake. I was totally going to play it off later and say I did it on purpose to keep warm, but what's the use.
Alyssa took off on the run right before me, and I met up with her in the first mile. I actually felt GREAT on the run. Compared to last year, I did so much more running. In fact, I ran way more than I walked. I really only walked up the hills and for a few brief respites in the final 5K. I was hungry as hell, getting hot and just generally ready to be done. I knew I was having a good day and wondered if we had a full swim if I could've finally broke six hours, or if the swim would've tired me out so much my goal would've been out of reach.

The final approach to the finish line is all downhill. There's an aid station at 11.5ish that hands out popsicles, then another at 12.5. After that, it's a roll downhill to the finish line. Brent was already waiting for me, and we immediately got into the ice soaking tanks they had at the finish. My legs were tired but nothing really hurt. No chafing, and no real sunburn, either. I told him at the finish I was fairly certain I couldn't have had a better day. I'm thinking rain is my weather because I felt the same about the half iron I did in Tawas a few years ago, and it was pouring that day.

Once Alyssa came in, we went to transition to get our shoes, then had the super awesome pulled pork and butter-dipped grilled corn that came with our registration, along with the two beers each athlete is allotted. Sadly, all the bagels and snackies were gone already (probably consumed in the morning by athletes smarter than I).

One of the smartest moves we made was deciding to stay the night after the triathlon. With the delay, the absolute earliest we could've left Door County was 4 p.m., and then we had a four-hour drive. Instead, we walked the beach, had our post-race meal, went back to the cabin to enjoy smores and all went to bed by 8:45. BTW, triathletes are the best possible house guests or renters. We have two beers and fall asleep before the sun.

I really love this race. This is my second year doing it and despite the challenging run course, they put on a great show. The three of us will be back again next year and hope to go the full distance then.

Time: 5:33:31 (for an abbreviated swim)
Cost: $120 for a transfer bib, $300 normally
Pros: Free race photo downloads, really nice post-race meal and party (which one day I will stay awake to see), pretty course in a nice area, great volunteers with popsicles on the run course
Cons: The bike course has some bumps and potholes, the shirt this year wasn't very cute, this race is really expensive if you don't buy a bib in the secondary market (which is totally allowed with a $20 transfer fee), there wasn't any food or sunscreen on the course
Would I do this race again? Yes and yes please.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. Our tomatoes went crazy this week. One of them looks like a bush at this point. But alas, no red ones yet. My guess is we'll end up with 482 ripe tomatoes at one time this summer and have no idea what to do with it. Bring on the bruschetta, caprese and pasta sauce.

2. I'm still working on my race recap for the Door County Half Iron last weekend and let me tell you, it was a doozy. Stay tuned, friends.

3. Pokemon Go still reigns supreme in my house. At this point, we run out of Pokeballs in about three seconds, so it evolves more into see, but don't capture, the Pokemon. Works for me.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. Pokemon Go is taking over the world. There were more users on the app this week than Twitter, so marketers are definitely taking notice. I tweeted this photo last week with a snide remark about how it's just encouraging more people to go out and exercise. I was subsequently interviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Like a boss.

2. We went on a double date this week with some of my favorite people to see The Book of Mormon. I saw it years ago when it was in previews on Broadway when my work used to take me to New York every year. It was as magical and irreverent as I remembered.

3. There's that small matter of a half ironman I'm tackling on Sunday with Brent and Alyssa that I've chosen not to think about at. all. I know I can do it - I ran 13.1 on a treadmill this weekend, and we just biked a century the weekend before that. As for swimming ... the fact that I haven't been in a pool since Texas is probably no big deal because swimming is more about practice than training, right? Wish me luck.

At least my bike looks ready

Monday, July 11, 2016

Get your dog's teeth cleaned!

Bravely boating the high seas ... of a no-wake lake
I thought I was pretty good at the whole adulting thing. I've had Napoleon for seven years and have
run point on grooming, vaccinations, feeding and general pet maintenance. Having a pet is a responsibility and expense, and a privilege earned by keeping up on all the details. Heart worm pills, rabies shots, nail trims and wellness visits are all part of the deal.

At his check up last year, the vet said Napoleon's teeth looked good and he was set. He usually gets them cleaned every other year, augmented by teeth brushing at the groomer. When I took him in last week to get a shot before being boarded, the vet said he needed his teeth cleaned as soon as was convenient.

I made an appointment for the following week and expected a vet bill for the procedure, which is performed under anesthesia, along with maybe one pulled tooth.

Head butting a unicorn
I got a call when Napoleon was still in surgery informing me that his teeth were worse than anticipated.

He would need 11 teeth removed.


It's been a few days and he's totally fine. Basically all the tiny little teeth in the front are gone. Nothing of substance that will impact his quality of life. Upside: He no longer has stink breath.

In another week, he'll be back to eating his regular food and playing with his normal toys. I know it's very common for little dogs, especially as they get older. But damn do I feel guilty. The vet assures me these things happen and couldn't be helped.

Let this be a costly cautionary tale: get your pet's teeth cleaned regularly. Budget and schedule accordingly.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. I've decided I need a smoker. Our friends have both an electric and a wood-powered model and say they haven't used the wood model since getting the electric. But this seems to be quite a bone of contention in the barbecue world. What say you, Internet?

2. If you follow me on Instagram, you saw I did some major training this weekend. I biked one loop (42 miles) of the Ironman Wisconsin route on Saturday, then did a century ride on Sunday. My legs were tired to start with, and I got a flat 10 miles into the century, so it was an adventure.

3. But that meant Monday was a Funday. We went on a long walk along the trails of Verona, then hoped onboard a friend's boat for fun in the sun - sort of. It was much colder than expected, and I'm not sure if everyone in our party had fun. I can't tell if Napoleon likes boats or not. He seems to enjoy the wind, but when we arrived at the marina, he jumped off the boat, ran up the dock and sat by the truck. Maybe it was fun once he got going?

Friday, July 1, 2016

Heat training in Texas

The joy of a September Ironman in Wisconsin is that the weather could really run the gambit. It could be crisp and fall-like. It could also be scathingly hot. Maybe even in the same day.
Training for fall is easy - it's my favorite season for so many reasons, not the least of which is that it's runner's weather. The unknown is how high the mercury will go. I would venture there are very few runners who would say that high temps are their jam, but we do what we have to to finish the race.

When I was in Texas, I basically tried to embrace the suck. There was plenty of it to go around - the Austin area was experiencing an unusual bout of warm weather, with each day reaching at least 96 degrees (real feel of 100ish). As much as possible, I got up early to run in that golden area of the Venn diagram in which it's light outside but the kids aren't awake yet.

The challenge there is if it the sun isn't hot yet, it's humid because the moisture hasn't been burned off. Win some, lose some. With this strategy, I set out to gradually build up my tolerance. The first few days, I didn't even try to measure distance. I just went for as long as I could, and sometimes, I wanted to quit in the first 10 minutes. I tried to go a bit further every day. I made it to 3.5 one morning, so the next morning's four miles felt like a marathon.

It took a little more than a week before I actually felt acclimated to the heat. I wished I had brought a handheld with me on this trip. Music was key to this evolution. I don't usually listen to anything while I run since music is illegal in most triathlons, but it did help ease this transition. By the end of my 12 days in Texas, I was able to run 8 unbroken miles in the heat. Here's what I learned:

  • Start slow
  • Listen to your body and use perceived exertion, rather than distance or time, as an indication of how hard you're working
  • Mix up the routine - on the days I could only run two miles, I would add a quick travel WOD in to work my muscles and extend the time I was working out
  • Don't get discouraged 
  • Hydrate all the time so you have something to sweat out