Crystal River Sprint #1

28 05 2013

This weekend, I raced in my first triathlon of the 2013 season! I headed up to Crystal River, FL bright and early on Saturday for the first of a three-race sprint triathlon series put on by DRC sports. I did this same race last year, so I was anxious to see how my race would compare to last year’s.

I went up with my teammate Chris and the best cheerleader a girl could ask for, my boyfriend Bill.

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We got there about 15 minutes before transition opened and the moon was still shining bright.

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Our early arrival allowed us plenty of time to grab a prime spot on the rack, casually set up our gear, and get in a nice little warm up.

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In my opinion, the end of the rack is the best real estate- the bike is way easier to spot and grab off the rack.

It was a perfect morning for the race.  It was in the low 70s, the sun was shining, and there was a steady, cool breeze.

I headed over to the start line when my wave was on deck and got myself psyched up to go. I’ve been consistently training for awhile now, so I wanted to get a gauge on where I was speed-wise.

Swim, 1/4 mile:  6:26.5
The swim was a quarter mile box swim, sort of. You swim out almost 200 yards, past the first yellow buoy, to the second, orange buoy. Turn right at the orange buoy, swim parallel to the beach for maybe 25 yards, and then turn right again at the next orange buoy and swim all the way in. When the siren sounded, I quickly ran into the water and started dolphin diving when it was too deep for me to keep running. The ground underfoot was awfully mucky, so I only got in one or two dives before I started to swim. I was out in the lead, but by the time I got to the first buoy, I spotted another pink cap off to my right about 2 body lengths behind me. She had a strong stroke, so my goal was to fend her off as long as I could. When I made my right turn, the first thing I noticed was the sun, now directly in my eyes every time I breathed to my right. The next thing I noticed was that there were at least 5 other pink caps that were now seemingly ahead or even with me. How did this happen? I immediately assumed that there was some cutting going on, but I just threw my head down and kept swimming hard. I passed a few of the pink caps, but still spotted one just ahead of me as I neared the swim exit. The water is pretty shallow at this race, so we were still about 50-75 yards out when it was shallow enough to touch bottom. I dolphin dived a few more times and all of the sudden I felt a sharp pain in my right big toe. I knew I had stepped on something, I just didn’t know what. I kept moving and figured I’d figure it out later.

T1: 0:40

I quickly grabbed my helmet and threw my sunglasses on and ran out of transition. Last season, I had started mounting my bike with my shoes already clipped in. This season, I haven’t really set aside any time to practice transitions, so I was going at it cold. I got out of transition pretty quickly, but mounting my bike was a different story. I came to a complete stop before trying to get my left foot on top of the shoe, and then when I finally got on, my right foot slipped off. I quickly recovered but when I finally got my foot settled on top, I almost lost the shoe when I tried to put my foot inside. The shoe came unclipped for half a second-I was thankful to be holding the back of it! After this comedy of errors, I finally settled in and started to ride.

Bike, 15 miles: 44:19.6, avg 20.3 mph
The bike was a simple out and back on a flat course. Unfortunately, on the way out, there was a pesky little headwind. It wasn’t much, but it was definitely enough to be annoying. My goal was to not let my watch read slower than 3:00 pace- aka 20mph. I also wanted to let as few female racers pass me as possible. I was feeling pretty strong, passing a few people every now and then, but also getting passed by a few strong riders. Around mile 4ish, a woman passed me on the bike. I checked her leg: 39. Phew, not in my age group. Between miles 6 and 7, another female (27),  a 75 year old man and I started playing leap frog. The girl led into the turn, and as we came out, I powered ahead. However, less than a mile later, she passed me. We played this game for awhile, and I was afraid I was going to get a penalty for drafting. I just could not drop these two. Finally, with about 3 miles to go, I told myself I was NOT going to get beat by a 75 year old man. It was time to turn it on. I powered down the ever so slight downhill, and didn’t stop going hard until I was nearing transition. Neither the older man or  younger woman caught me! Score!

T2: 0:45
I dismounted and quickly found my spot on the rack. As I started to put on my right sock, I saw the dried blood. Yup, whatever I stepped on in the swim got me good. I ignored the urge to see how bad the cut was and threw on my shoes. Off for the run!

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Run 5K: 23:22.9, 7:47/mile
The one thing I remembered about this run was that it was HOT last year. The route was fully exposed and miserable on a ridiculously hot day. It too was a simple out and back. Thankfully, that cool breeze was still around and the sun wasn’t blazing yet. My quads were still a little sore from a track workout a few days prior, but the track had prepared my legs to race. I didn’t have a watch on, so I wasn’t sure what kind of pace I was running, so I just got into the zone and ran. My goal again was to not let any females pass me. I didn’t let any pass me, until about 2 miles in. A woman passed me with just about a mile to go. I kept her in my line of sight for as long as I could, but unfortunately I couldn’t stay with her. I powered through to the end and realized that I had finished 3 minutes faster than my time last year. Yeah!

Total time: 1:15:32.9

I was pretty happy with how my race went. I definitely would have liked to go a little faster on the bike, but all in all I can’t complain. Especially when the race ends with a podium finish 🙂

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First place in my age group baby! I’ve never done a series before, but maybe I’ll need to start so I can try to rack up some points!

Oh, and my toe has a nice little slice from some gulf-dwelling creature. Thankfully, it was a minor cut and it’s healing nicely.

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Bear Naked Fit Cereals

17 05 2013

When I lived in DC, part of my morning routine included preparing a nice hot bowl of oatmeal. This happened just about year round, with the exception of summertime, when a steaming bowl did not sound so desirable when it was 90 degrees and muggy outside.

Since moving to Florida, I rarely crave a bowl of oats (unless I’ve prepped some overnight oats), so I’ve had to look for alternatives to jumpstart my day.

During the work week, cold cereal is the easiest choice for me, but I know that cereal can be a nutritional trap- with loads of sugar and barely any fiber, leaving you hungry and low on energy a short while after eating breakfast. So I’ve been on the lookout for one that’s tasty, filling, and healthy.

I recently discovered Bear Naked Fit® Cereals and I think I’ve found my new go-to cereal.

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The company was nice enough to send me their new flavors, and I happily accepted their offer.

The Bear Naked Truth
Our Bear Naked Fit® 100% natural energy cereal

  • Made with whole-grain flakes and crispy seed clusters for a tasty, satisfying crunch
  • A good source of protein (6-7g) in every serving
  • An excellent source of fiber (6-7g) and 30g whole grains*
  • Bearly processed and all natural ingredients you know, love and can actually pronounce
  • NO Artificial Flavors, NO Artificial Preservatives, NO Cholesterol, NO Hydrogenated Oils, 0g Trans Fat
  • Vegetarian friendly
  • Kosher certified

*7g total fat per serving

6-7 grams of protein and 6-7 grams of fiber? That ain’t too shabby.

I first tried the Almond Crisp flavor, and loved every single bite. The flakes were tasty (not cardboardy like you’d expect a high-fiber cereal to be) and I loved the addition of coconut flakes! The cereal paired perfectly with Almond Breeze’s almond milk/coconut milk blend (<– my favorite almond milk).

When I poured myself a bowl of the Autumn Crisp flavor, I was immediately struck by the huge pieces of dried fruit that came out of the box. I’m not sure I’d ever had dried apples in a cereal before.

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After my first bite, I was hooked. The apples were great in the cereal, adding an unexpected crunch and sweetness to the cereal. There were other little crunchy clusters in the cereal too as well as raisins and nuts.

I was a big fan of the flavor, but the real test would be whether I got hungry at 10:00, only two and a half hours after eating.

10:00 came and went, and my tummy was still happy and full from the bowl of Autumn Crisp. Winner winner chicken dinner!

Not only does Bear Naked make a fabulous cereals- they seem like a pretty fabulous company too. They have a philosophy I can get behind: “un-process – simplify – enjoy”- Amen to that! Another thing that stood out to me (especially in light of some of my recent experiences) was that one of the founders, though no formal culinary training, decided to pursue her passion and make and sell granola full time. Very cool. 🙂

So, if you’re looking to break out of your cereal rut, or are just looking for a good breakfast option, check out Bear Naked Fit Cereals!

**Full disclosure- Bear Naked provided me with cereals to sample. All opinions are my own.





A Short Stint

16 05 2013

Well hello there! Long time no see, eh? I’m back and hoping to get some more regular posting in now that my world has calmed down a little. Why was my world so crazy you may be wondering? Well, take a peek a the picture below.

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(photo courtesy of the Children’s Cancer Center)

Um, why are you showing us a bunch of desserts Steph? Let’s take a closer look at the blonde behind the counter.

 

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(photo courtesy of the Children’s Cancer Center)

That’s right, it’s yours truly! I recently took up a part time job at Dough,Tampa’s favorite restaurant Datz’s newest endeavor.

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(photo courtesy of the Children’s Cancer Center)

If you haven’t checked out Dough yet, you must, must must! They are whipping up incredible pastries (ever had a clichy?), delectable doughnuts (maple bacon anyone?), unique flavored gelatos (sriracha peanut butter has just the right amount of heat!), artisanal espresso drinks (nutella latte > mocha any day), and much more. Dough is more than just sweets too- they offer a variety of savory bistro-fare  lunch options.

I’m not here to advertise; I think Dough’s really got something great going on. And actually, I don’t even work there anymore!

Let me back up some…

I currently hold a full time, grant-funded position, which means that eventually the money will run out and either my current company will absorb me on regular payroll, I’ll find another grant to work on within the same company, or I’ll work for another company. I’m currently at a place where I honestly don’t know which of those options I want to choose, if choosing one is even an option. And because I’m at this uncertain place in my career, I’m exploring alternatives to what I currently do. Hence, picking up some part time work at Dough.

In a lot of conversations I’ve had with various people, I’ve been repeatedly told that when your job is something you love, it doesn’t feel like work. If you haven’t noticed, I love food. So working with food seems like a logical place for me. Unfortunately, my experience is limited to serving up water ice and soft serve with my best friend at Custard’s Last Stand when I was 16 years old

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Food service is so completely different than what I currently do or have done in the past, so I wanted to at least dip a toe in and see if I  liked it, should I decide to take a giant leap of faith and switch career paths all together. It freaks me out that I even typed that sentence and am putting it out there that that’s even an option at this point. Gulp. So, I interviewed and got a job as a barista at Datz and Dough back in March.

Anywho- my “real” aka full time job just so happened to get really busy right after I started at Dough. In addition to my regular hours, we were working Friday nights and all day Saturday every other weekend since the end of March (thankfully, that just ended for a few weeks). Then, I would work at Dough all day on Sunday and sometimes even Saturday night, if needed. To say I was exhausted would be an understatement. And to be honest, I just wanted my weekend to run errands and go for a bike ride with friends. Something had to give. I was really enjoying my time at Dough and I was learning a lot- which was essentially the whole point of why I started the job in the first place, but in the end, I needed to give priority to my full time job and I really just wanted my weekends back. So, after a little over a month on the job, I quit. I hate, hate, hate that I had to quit something- I despise the “q” word! But it has definitely been a good decision for me.

So, how was it, you ask? It wasn’t a “let me go ahead and quit my job now because I love this so much”, but it also wasn’t a “oh my gosh I hate this so much make it stop.” If I had to place my feelings about it on a continuum, they’d definitely more on the positive side than the negative.

Even though my time was short, I learned a lot-

I learned that I really enjoy greeting the customers and telling them all about the amazing things that were coming out of the kitchen. I even liked some of the more challenging customers-I just didn’t let their comments get me down.

I learned that I’d rather be at a smaller bakery-type place like Dough, than a big kitchen restaurant like Datz.

I learned what a “porto filter” and a “tamp” are.

I learned that I really despise mopping and sweeping white and black floors.

The list goes on, and I’m really thankful I had the opportunity. Was the experience enough to convince me one way or the other? I think the jury’s still out on that one.

So, thanks for listening to probably one of the more personal blog posts I’ve written on here. I hope you’ll stick around for the adventure!