One week to go. Still totally excited.
I went to my usual Saturday morning group ride this morning and chatted with a guy who did the long course at Wildflower last year. I asked (like I ask everyone who has done that race) how bad Nasty Grade is. Like a few others, he said if I can ride up Diablo, I will be totally fine. Thank god I checked that off the list last weekend.
My total workout this morning was a 1:50 ride (31 miles) and s 20 minute run (2.4 miles). 6 months ago that would have felt like a real workout, but today I feel like I’be barely done anything. I tested out my new race shorts and they were awesome for the bike and run. I’m feeling ready to go!
I’ve been sort of wading into veganism, just testing the waters. We haven’t had cheese in the house in quite awhile and I honestly don’t miss it. I think Ellie does, but she gets plenty of it at daycare, so she’ll live (and I’m sure we’ll be buying it for her again one of these days). I was doing great all week, but then a sixth grader brought me a cupcake yesterday (funfetti!) and I was halfway through it before I realized that I was sort of unofficially trying to avoid milk/dairy products. Oops.
I made this for dessert last night and it kind of reminds me of a Wendy’s Frosty (although I haven’t had one in almost 2 years so I could be way off). I used carob because it’s slightly sweet on its own, but if you’d rather use cocoa powder, I’d recommend using a few extra dates to sweeten it. It’s super rich and creamy, but doesn’t have an overwhelming coconut flavor. It’s also kind of dangerous because I pretty much always have all three ingredients in my pantry!
3 Ingredient Vegan Ice Cream
- 1 can coconut milk
- 3 tbsp carob powder
- 3 pitted dates
- dried coconut and cacao nibs (optional, for garnish)
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturers directions.
- Top with dried coconut and cacao nibs if desired.
Welcome to Taper Town. Have some pie.
Somehow there are now fewer than two weeks between me and Wildflower. As of right now, I feel confident in my training and ready to embrace taper. I’m sure that within a week, however, I will begin completely freaking out.
On Saturday I decided to go for a ride up Mt. Diablo, which involves climbing about 3800 feet. I’ve never done this ride before, but I loved it. I rode up the North Side, and it was amazingly beautiful. I used to think there was nothing better than the Douglas Fir forests of the Pacific Northwest, but California’s oak-covered hills might be starting to edge them out.
Obviously had to take the awkward selfie at the top, and a picture of the gate, and a picture of the view. In between the picture on the left and the pictures on the right were about an hour and a half of alternating between gawking over the scenery and cursing the wind. But I made it to the top and it was glorious. That picture on the lower right is 17 miles from my front door.
Coming down was really unpleasant. I’m still kind of terrified of going more than 25 miles an hour, so I basically rode the brakes as dozens of cyclists flew by. I went down the South side (definitely the more popular option for riding up), and followed up the ride with a 7 mile run.
Someday I will learn to drink enough fluids after a hard ride + run in 80+ degree heat. My headache on Saturday afternoon was reeeeal nice. I also hope to some day learn how to make pretty slices of pie.
What this pie lacks in beauty, it makes up for in flavor. Chocolate cream filling, chocolate crust, and lightly sweetened whipped cream. Dorie Greenspan knows what she’s doing.
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 9 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4 large egg yolks
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp corn starch, sifted
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 7 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup cold heavy cream
- 1 1/2 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- cocoa powder, for dusting
To make the crust:
- Pulse the flour, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and salt in a food processor a few times.
- Drop the cubes of butter over the flour mixture and pulse until it resembles small pebbles.
- Add the egg yolk, pulsing after each addition. Continue pulsing a few seconds at a time until most of the dough clumps together, then turn out onto a counter and knead just until the dry ingredients are incorporated.
- Press evenly into a metal pie pan and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F, butter a piece of foil, and press the buttered side gently onto the crust. Bake for about 32 minutes, then remove the foil and cool crust completely before filling.
To make the filling:
- Bring the milk to a simmer in a small saucepan.
- In a large, heavy saucepan, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, corn starch, and salt until well-blended.
- Very gradually add the milk in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly.
- Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils. Continue boiling (and whisking) for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.
- Add the chocolate, let stand for 5 minutes then add the butter and stir until smooth.
- Transfer to a medium bowl and place that bowl into a larger bowl of ice water and stir occasionally until cool.
- Spread the filling evenly in the cooled crust and chill for about half an hour.
To make the filling, whisk together the cream, vanilla, and sugar and then whip until it holds peaks.
- Spread over the pie, then dust with a little cocoa powder.
from Baking: From My Home to Yours
This was it. My last BIG training weekend before the taper for Wildflower. And it ALMOST went perfectly.
On Friday after work I picked up my fancy new Rudy Project helmet, which I got an awesome deal on because they sponsor the tri club I’m in. It’s such a huge improvement on my last (junky, ugly, old) helmet.
Riding high on new gear, and with my aero bars newly attached to the bike, I headed out for my usual Saturday morning group ride. Pretty much right away, my seat started slipping, tipping slightly back with every bump I went over. 10 miles in, I decided to stop and see if I could tighten it, and thought I had, but a few minutes later it slipped even more. I decided to throw in the towel and call Mike for a ride to a bike shop (this may have been a slight overreaction on my part, but it was frustrating and I couldn’t seem to fix it myself).
Sitting by the side of the road waiting for him to pick me up, a guy from the group ride who had turned back early stopped and fixed the seat. It was an easy fix, but for some reason I couldn’t figure it out on my own. I called Mike and told him I actually didn’t need to be picked up, then rode home and finished the ride on the trainer, because I was worried something else would go wrong. Fortunately, after that, my transition run went really well.
Workout two of the weekend was much better. Aron figured out how to run to some great trails less than a mile from my house, so we had an awesome 2 hour run as the sun was coming up. Perfection.
I’ve become an extremely lazy weeknight cook and pretty much just stick to salads. This week I made two that we all adored:
1. Bulgur, lentils, kale, and avocado.
This one is super simple: boil 2 cups of water, pour over one cup of bulgur, and let stand while you prepare everything else.
Chop a head of curly kale and a clove of garlic. Mix the garlic with a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt and massage into the kale.
Cook 1 cup of French green lentils in a pot of boiling water for about 20 minutes (or until tender), then rinse and drain.
Drain the bulgur (if necessary) toss everything with the salt and 2-3 tbsp lemon juice (to taste), and top with diced avocado.
2. Marinated tofu, bean threads, lettuce, and jicama, carrots, herbs
This one is slightly more involved.
To make the tofu marinade: chop 2 cloves of garlic and 1 tbsp of garlic. Put in a blender with 3 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, and a pinch of sugar. Pour over 1 lb of extra firm tofu (diced), and let stand for 20 minutes. Soak 2 ounces bean threads in warm water.
Put 6 cups of mesclun mix in a large salad bowl and add 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and 3 tbsp chopped fresh basil. Add 1/3 cup each julienned carrot and jicama.
Saute the tofu in 1 tbsp of peanut oil until golden brown. Set aside. Drain and chop the bean threads into 1″ pieces, then add to the salad.
To make the dressing, combine 2 tbsp orange juice, 2 tsp honey, 2 tsp rice vinegar, 2 tsp sesame oil, and 2 tsp minced fresh ginger in a blender.
Add the tofu and dressing to the salad bowl and mix well. Top with a little diced avocado and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
I’m not sure how it happened so fast, but during the week we were in Atlanta, every single tree in this town grew all its leaves back. It is so pretty and bright green everywhere right now! (Of course that means it’s Spring which means it’s going to get hot which means the hills are about to turn brown, but for now it is so beautiful outside I don’t really know what to do with myself).
Suddenly there are only 4 weeks until Wildlfower, and only 10 weeks until summer vacation, and only 9 days until my sister’s birthday, and less than a month until I turn 29… bring on the cliches about time going to fast because they all apply to me right now. But it’s spring and it’s green and I love it.
After pretty much slacking off completely the entire time we were gone, I jumped back into training right away this weekend. The night we got home Mike and I ran 5 miles at sub-8 pace. The next morning I had myself all talked into going to Masters for the first time ever…got to the pool and (sad trombone) there was no practice. So I did 2300 meters on my own. Saturday was a group ride (50 miles, half of which was in the drizzle), and Sunday was a stroller 10K in Golden Gate Park.
I did a 2 mile warm up and my legs felt completely dead, so I figured it would just be a total suck-fest. But somehow, when the gun went off, I felt good! Surprisingly good, especially with the first 3 miles being pretty much completely uphill. Ellie was eating some snacks, I was actually passing people, and my legs felt great.
After the turnaround, I knew the hardest part was over because it was all downhill to the finish. With two miles left to go, I had moved from 10th woman to 7th, but Ellie was pretty much over the stroller and started fussing quite a bit. I kept trying to hand her things to keep her entertained, and pointed out things like squirrels, dogs, and babies (her favorites), but she wasn’t into it. I picked up the pace quite a bit just trying to finish as fast as possible so she could get out and play.
I saw Naomi with about a mile and a half to go, and that gave me a pretty good boost. I kicked it in to finish as the 5th female with a time of 46:26. I immediately took Ellie out of the stroller and she had a blast running around and watching other finishers. She was also super excited about our yellow 5th place ribbon, so I think she forgives me for those unpleasant minutes in the stroller.
My parents came over for dinner Sunday night for homemade banh mi and this pound cake. I know orange season is almost over and I didn’t want to let it go without baking something like this.
Orange Chocolate Cream Cheese Pound Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons orange zest (or zest of 2 medium navel oranges)
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips (I used Guittard 63% cacao)
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Put the sugar in a small bowl and rub the orange zest into it with your fingers so the sugar turns yellow and fragrant.
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together softened butter and cream cheese. Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the bowl and make sure that the butter and cream cheese are evenly mixed. Add the citrus zest-sugar mixture to the butter and cream cheese and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.
- Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. On medium speed, beat in one egg at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.
- Scrape down the bowl after adding each egg. Beat in vanilla extract.
- Add dry ingredients all at once. Beat on low speed until dry ingredients are completely incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes, rotating once or twice during baking. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes with just a few crumbs.
(from Joy the Baker)
We just got back from a week in Atlanta (with a night in Asheville, NC), and it was amazing. I’d never been anywhere in the South and was honestly SHOCKED by how friendly and polite everyone was. California, take a lesson.
The whole week we were gone, I ran exactly twice (and the race is now less than a month away. crap.) but I had so much fun hanging with Mike and Ellie, eating tons of good food, exploring new places, and meeting friends from the Internet.
I was soooo looking forward to going to Asheville, but the town itself wasn’t as awesome as I was hoping. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent time in other hippie towns like Eugene, Berkeley, and Santa Cruz, and maybe it’s because the weather was drizzly and freezing, but I’m glad we only decided to spend one night there. The food, however, was fantastic.
We had lunch at Rosetta’s Kitchen (Buddha bowl for Mike, tempeh reuben for me, and coconut curry for Ellie) and dinner at Laughing Seed (Omega Hempnut burger for Mike, Dal and steamed vegetables for Ellie, and raw Dragon Bowl for me). I wish both places could open in my neighborhood.
I loved pretty much everything we did in Atlanta, which was basically just cruise around neighborhoods drinking coffee and finding playgrounds.
Can I please just move to Inman Park right now?
We also ate the healthiest meal of the trip at the Varsity. Onion rings, grilled cheese, and a frosted orange? YES PLEASE.
Also, I’m pretty sure Atlanta has the best pizza in the country, as random as that may seem. It’s far from glamorous, but it’s BYOB and absolutely delicious.
The city also happens to have a really fun Children’s Museum. We spent three hours there on Easter, and Ellie just couldn’t get enough.
I also got to meet some Internet friends! I’ve “known” these people online only for 5+ years and it was awesome to finally meet them in real life.
We had coffee with Annie and Josie (and their adorable kids), a super tasty Cuban lunch with Trish, and ran 7 miles (then drank beer, obviously) with Shelby.
It was such a great trip, and Ellie only screamed a couple times on the plane (she hasn’t flown in a few months, and this trip was MUCH longer than that one, so I was totally worried about having that kid. Thanks to a few packets of snacks, Mr. Potato Head, and some sticker books, she did really well.)
List of stuff we enjoyed:
The Children’s Museum of Atlanta
Running on the PATH
Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party
A 70 mile bike ride is probably not the best way to spend the day before a 10K race, but it obviously worked out OK, because I beat my previous PR by 18 seconds!
Saturday morning, I went to a group ride planning on riding about 52 miles. When we got to the usual turn around, there was some chatter about extending the ride and going down (and then back up) a hill they call “the wall.” I felt good and had grabbed an extra Gu before the ride, so I decided to keep going. We descended the wall, and then kept going down, down, down until we were in Milpitas, which is a LONG way from home!
The climb back up was not too bad, except for a small segment that was incredibly steep. I tried sitting and standing, and felt like I was about to start rolling backwards at any second. Fortunately it was really short, because I maxed out my heart rate and felt like I was going to throw up. Fun! We cruised back into town for a total of 69.2 miles (according to my Garmin, which I forgot to re start at a few stoplights, so it was probably over 70…but I’m just going to stick with what the Garmin says!)
My legs were tired, and I slacked a little and didn’t do a transition run, but I now feel like I’m ready to tackle the insane bike course at Wildflower!
Sunday morning, we got up early, drove into the city, and picked up Alyssa for the Walt Stack 10K at Little Marina Green. I had forgotten to charge my Garmin after the bike ride, so I planned on running purely by feel.
We did a 1.3 mile warm-up around Crissy Field Marsh and were ready to go. It was a PERFECT day, nice and sunny but not too windy. When the gun went off I went out at a pace that felt fast but not too horribly uncomfortable, and just tried to hold it there. We ran down to Fort Point at the base of the Golden Gate bridge, then turned around and back past Marina Green to Fort Mason. We climbed up and over the hill before turning around (those hills were ROUGH!)
I was running with 3 older guys and we kept alternating the lead in our little pack. With about a mile to go things started feeling a little ugly, but I tried to pick it up a little. I had absolutely NO kick left for the final stretch and was a little bummed to see the clock tick past 44:00, but I was still overjoyed to finish in 44:12 (a PR by 18 seconds).
Good enough for second place female!
Mike was a total rock star and pushed Ellie in the stroller for the whole race.
I’m now convinced the Crissy Field area is my lucky running spot because it’s where I set my 5K PR, too!
I’ve made a bunch of red lentil soups before, but this is the simplest, and we all really love it (espeically Ellie). It’s almost as comforting as a bowl of mac and cheese (or maybe I’ve been eating hippie food for too long…) and easy to throw together.
Life lately has been full, but so much fun. Saturday I did my first ever double brick with Page. Of course we documented the event with awkward photos in the parking lot afterwards.
I never thought I would find 30 miles of cycling + 30 minutes of running + 20 miles of cycling + 20 minutes of running fun, but this absolutely was.
Sunday we went on a family date to Peet’s. Ellie is a huge fan of people watching (and dog watching) so it was totally perfect for her.
Ellie turned 18 months old last week and is of course growing up way too fast. She’s recently become obsessed with a makeup brush. I probably shouldn’t have let this happen.
So… how about that soup?
Super Simple Curry Red Lentil Soup
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 tbsp curry powder (plus more to taste)
- 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
- 2 cups red lentils
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- a few handfuls chopped chard (optional)
- Heat the oil in a large dutch oven and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the curry powder and cook another minute.
- Add the tomatoes, lentils, and broth and mix well.
- Cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally (adding more liquid if it begins to look dry or stick to the bottom).
- Add the chard (if using) about 25 minutes through the simmering time.
- Salt to taste and add more curry powder if desired.
Having friends on the sidelines at CIM made the race a million times better, so when a bunch of my best running pals got into the Way Too Cool 5OK this year, I was excited to make the trek up to Cool, CA (yep, that’s really the name of the town!) to cheer.
We were on the road at 6:10 and got to Cool in under two hours. I JUST missed the start of the first wave, so I didn’t have a chance to see Aron and Jessica off, but I did get this picture. I know they’re in there somewhere!
After that, Mike and I found Alyssa and hung out with her until the second wave started.
The runners did an 8 mile loop then came back through the start, so Jana and I posted up right across from the aid station to wait for our friends to come through.
It was nice and sunny and it was really fun cheering for everyone.
Jess, Aron, Alyssa, Kristen, and Layla all looked awesome!
After they all went through, we knew we had a little while until they all came back to finish, so we set out to do the first 8 miles of the course. Unsurprisingly, we were not the only spectators with this plan. After 1.5 miles on the road, it turned off onto beautiful single track.
As awesome as it was, I really appreciated that I got to stop after 8 miles.
We hung out on some hay bales near the finish and the first man came through in 3:08, a new course record. CRAZY! The our friends started finishing. Jess and Aron stayed together and ran a huge PR, and Alyssa, Layla, and Kristen all became ultramarathoners.
It was an awesome day, but by the end I was so exhausted it almost felt like I’d run 31 miles. Spectating is tiring, but it was great to see my friends run and celebrate with them at the finish.
None of these are really recipes worthy of their own post, but I always find it helpful to have some ideas for quick meals. These are quick if you’re prepared: I’ve included what I have ready in advance, because prepping a bunch of beans, grains, and vegetables on Sunday really does make healthy eating much easier all week long!
Throw a few corn tortillas in the toaster oven to crisp up, and while they’re in there, saute half an onion, a clove of garlic, and a few kale leaves in some olive oil. Stir in the black beans, and grate some pepperjack cheese.
Put the tortillas on a baking sheet with some black bean mixture and top with shredded cheese. Heat under the broiler until the cheese is melted
This is my favorite thing to do with vegetable odds and ends. I fry the tofu in a little oil first, then set it aside while I cook the vegetables (this mix included broccoli stems, kale, and cabbage). The sauce I added this week included soy sauce, lime juice, and minced garlic.
I made Moosewood lentil soup, which basically just entails sauteeing some onion, celery, and carrot until soft with a pinch of thyme. Then I added 2 cups of lentils, a can of drained diced tomatoes, and 6 cups of vegetable broth. I am definitely planning on trying it in a slow cooker!
While it simmered, I poured 2 cups of boiling water over 1 cup of bulgur and let it stand for 20 minutes, then added the juice of a lemon, a bunch of chopped parsley, and some crumbled feta.
If you have a big batch of cooked quinoa and some roasted squash in the fridge, this comes together really quickly. Just toss together quinoa, black beans, and roasted butternut squash cubes, and season with salt. To make the dressing: stir together 2 tbsp olive oil, 4 tbsp lime juice, and 1/2 tsp (or more to taste) ground cumin. Toss with salad greens just before serving.
Rub some chopped kale with olive oil and let stand. Put some oil in a skillet and add cubes of tofu and some chopped shallot. Add cubes of roasted sweet potatoes and heath through. Toss with the kale and add some cooked wheat berries. Dress with a little balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper.
This is just like fried rice, but with quinoa instead. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet, add half an onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, a small head of broccoli (chopped) and a cup or two of shredded cabbage. Cook for a few minutes, then stir in two cups of quinoa, and a few dashes of vegetarian fish sauce and soy sauce (or Golden Mountain sauce).
It can be kind of tough to put together a healthy dinner after a long day of work, workouts, and errands, but if you take a little time to get food ready on the weekend, there are lots of easy, healthy options!
I never want to not ride my bike with friends. This Saturday was perfect.
Page had 60 miles on the schedule and invited Jana and me along. A route was mapped and we met up bright and early in Pleasanton to hit the road. I’ve never ridden anywhere down there, and it was beautiful.
It was partly cloudy and most of the roads were blissfully free of cars. We saw llamas, sheep, horses, and cows. We chatted about training and life. It was mostly flat and the miles were flying by. And then we hit Patterson pass.
That’s that HUGE hill between 30 and 40 miles. The worst thing about it is the false summit. You climb for a couple miles, think you see the top, and then once you round that corner, you’re met with an even steeper hill. I honestly thought my heart was going to explode and my legs were absolutely dead by the time we made it to the top.
We stopped for the essentials (pictures and a Vine video, obviously), then flew down the other side and back to Pleasanton. Page realized we weren’t quite going to hit 60 miles…it would be more like 56. That’s the farthest I’d ever ridden (as part of the half Ironman I did in 2005) so we tacked on a little loop through downtown and ended up with 57.7, a new personal distance record!
As soon as we finished, we threw on running shoes and did a quick 15 minute run. A HUGE confidence-building workout with the best company I could ask for!