Monday, October 31, 2011

Thunder Puppies Update: The "Mature Point of View"

I received an email from my Mother, asking to be posted in my blog. So my guest writer of the week, my mother, would like to share these thoughts:

Would you like some cheese with that whine?

And by the way, I too am struggling with training motivation so why don’t we just enjoy ourselves and not get all performance based obsessive. We are going to Bermuda, where you have never been, and I know I can swim the distance (but not always on my stomach I do great things in the elementary back stroke). We are going to have a GREAT time (just not in great times). I am scoping out restaurant reservations, and we can probably start getting the long range forecast.

Focus on sun screen or something.

Call your grandmother post total hip. She's bored.

Love the alpha bitch thunder puppy

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thunder Puppy Popsicle

I just had to spend 15 minutes defrosting under hot water.

Why, you may ask? Well mostly because I was not as ready for cold weather as I had thought I might be. I always romanticize cold weather and the fall, but when it comes down to it, a chilly evening ride at the end of October (when very suddenly the air temp has plummeted. I swear last week was in the 70s) is just that: chilly. I probably should have gotten out earlier in the day, but I have been chasing around Halloween costume accessories all day and got home just in time to freeze my butt off before dark.

This, by the way, is all in the name of a certain sprint relay in which I am participating with my mother next weekend. My lovely mother lured me into doing two legs of the relay (bike and run, the ones where you actually sweat) by advertising the gorgeous location of this race: Bermuda.

I am of course very excited to go. But ever since my last race in early September I have been very focused on running the upcoming Annapolis half-marathon (end of November) and honestly I've been slacking on the riding. My run is great, I PRed in a 5k earlier this month and my training has gone really well. I even did some altitude training this week while I was out visiting my sister in Denver. But my bike? Well I have been riding, just not nearly as much as I normally would. For some reason after a half-ironman, getting worked up over 15 miles in a sprint relay seems...well...apparently difficult.

So today I realized that I probably only had 2 bike rides left before the race (I have to pack the bike up in a box on Wednesday and I have lots of running planned this weekend, which leaves only today and Monday to ride) and that I had better get my butt outside and try out some hills...haven't seen those in a while. Hills went better than expected, really. I have been riding a few times a week on my indoor trainer because of rainy weather. But the cold? That I was not prepared for. And it's only October.

I guess I better toughen up before I start training hard in January...

Oh yeah. The team name my mother chose for this relay? The Thunder Puppies.

Honestly, mother.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Kona obsession and a 5K PR

First of all, I have to get my Kona excitement out of the way! Kona was absolutely incredible this year!!! Holy cow! I spent the whole day with my computer hooked up to our TV, watching the event unfold. We went to a friend's house that night and I was worried about missing the finish, but luckily some of the other guests were as excited as I was and we got a computer hooked up in time to see Chrissie and Mirinda come across the line. It was so unbelievable. Crowie breaking the course record was great, but even more amazing was watching Chrissie Wellington come back form her less than stellar swim. It was a whole new side of her. Not only can she dominate from start to finish, but now we know she can come from behind and fight all the way till the end!

Ok, so now that that's over with, back to my training! Since my last race, I have been totally revamping my training. First I am training for this half marathon, but I am also working on my speed on the bike and run for the sprint relay in Bermuda with my mom. I'm having a lot of trouble getting back into the right kind of cycling shape. When I cut down on the amount of cycling I was doing, I lost a lot of the fitness I had. I'm trying to build back to short distance speed, but it's really tough.

I thought I was having a similar problem with my run training, however, and it turns out that my self assessment wasn't entirely accurate. This past weekend I ran the Great Pumpkin 5K and I got a new PR. 23:34! That's 7:35 min miles! For me, that's freakin' nuts. It was a perfect day on a rolling course, and my friend Jackie came to run too. She's been dealing with a leg injury and we didn't run together, but I was so excited she was there with me.

Speaking of injuries (ah the constant theme), I am still having issues with my right hip, as well as some lower leg pain on my left. The lower leg pain seems a bit similar to shin splints, but it's lower than normal and feels a little more muscular. I think I am going to tape it for my run today to see how that works out.

I've been out of the pool since my half-iron distance race. I just haven't felt like swimming since then and I am not training to swim for a while so I decided if my mind needed a break, it was time to give it one. I've been going to yoga and rock climbing with my wife instead for cross-training. Time to get ripped!! :)

Did anyone make my Moroccan Chicken Stew recipe yet? I am going to make it again today and I am really excited? Love love love it!

Alright, time to cook, have lunch, go to the doctor, and then get my run in!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New Recipe: Moroccan Chicken Stew with Lentils and Spinach

I adapted this recipe from a cookbook called Cooking Under Pressure by Lorna Sass. This stew is made in a pressure cooker, but could also be made in a crockpot or slow cooker. The cooking times will of course be very different. It is a high protein recipe, flavorful and low calorie. Before I even finished this I knew it would be fantastic, and I was right. To add some carbs to your meal, you could serve this stew with your favorite rice or other grain like quinoa. The recipe is pretty large, so since there are only two of us in my house we got to put the leftovers in the fridge for Erin to eat later this week when I'm out of town.

Moroccan Chicken Stew with Lentils and Spinach
Special tools: Pressure Cooker

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds (I substituted a mix of whole allspice seeds, fennel seeds and coriander seeds)
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
2 lbs chicken thighs, skinned and trimmed of fat (any skinned chicken will work, dark meat stays more moist)
3 1/2 cups of water
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (I used 1/2 tablespoon of ground cumin because I used whole allspice)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup of raisins (I used dried currants and they were fantastic)
2 or 3 large carrots, whole peeled
1 large bag of spinach
1 tablespoon of finely minced ginger
salt to taste

Heat olive oil in the cooker and saute the onion until lightly browned. Add in the whole seeds and saute for 10-30 seconds. Lower the heat to give yourself some time and add in the water, lentils, chicken, allspice, cinnamon and raisins. Stir to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, and then set the carrots on top.
Lock the lid in place and over high heat bring to high pressure. Adjust the heat to maintain high pressure and cook for 9 minutes. Reduce the pressure with a quick-release method. Remove the lid, making sure to tilt it away from you so the steam can escape safely.
Cut up the carrots with a knife, and stir in the spinach and ginger. If you stir the spinach in while the stew is still hot, it should cook as you stir. If not, bring the stew back to a simmer to finish the cooking process. Add salt to taste.