Roadtrip to Vermont- Part 4 (The FOOD!)

1 09 2012

Um, is it really September? Where the heck did the summer go?

Well, I guess it’s time for the last post in this drawn out account of my ridiculously long road trip. So, I’ll spare you the details and summarize the drive home. We drove. A lot. (1400+ miles) We arrived safely in Tampa. The end.

Now that that’s over, I can get on to the good stuff- The FOOD! Let me tell you friends, Vermont has some dang good food! And some pretty awesome farmer’s markets too!

In case you missed it:

Friday night’s meal: Courtney and I shared these plates.

On Saturdays in the summer, Burlington has an incredible farmer’s market, right in the heart of downtown. After the race, Felipe excitedly told us that the market was open for another hour or so, and that we all HAD to check it out. You don’t have to ask me twice! I love farmer’s markets! Of course the first thing I did was find a stand selling real maple syrup.

This was from Williston, which is about ten miles away from Burlington. Talk about local!!

I was a bad blogger and didn’t take many any photos of the actual market or the other cool stuff we found (honey, wine, maple lemonade, lots of fresh fruits/veggies). I wasn’t really feeling well, so I walked around a little before taking a rest on a bench while Felipe and Courtney looked around (Jess was resting in the car). I was really bummed that I wasn’t up to walk around more. I ❤ farmer’s markets, and really really miss them. (Growing season is kinda opposite here, and the closest market to me happens once a month. And, its not really that good for getting fresh produce- there’s like one produce vendor.) After we stocked up at the market (I think Felipe bought a quart of honey!) we headed back to the hotel.

After a shower and a nap, I felt much better and ready for our next excursion. It was close to dinner time, but it was also close to closing time for Ben and Jerry’s, which was a short drive away.

It didn’t take long for everyone to agree that we HAD to go to Ben and Jerry’s.

Everyone says Disney is the greatest place on earth. I think Ben and Jerry’s may be a contender for that title.

Clearly, I was excited to be there.

We opted not to take the tour because they weren’t making ice cream while we were there. Isn’t the point of the whole tour to taste test?? Sheesh. Well, at least I got a hot fudge sundae.

I should have gone with a scoop shop exclusive, but I went with the What a Cluster flavor: Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Caramel Cluster Pieces, Peanut Butter & Marshmallow Swirls. Tasty!

We couldn’t leave without taking funny photos in the cut out, over sized pint lid. Courtney’s face is great!

After our ice cream appetizer, we headed into Burlington for dinner. Apparently all the other 2000 or so triathletes in town for the weekend also had the same idea. All the restaurants were PACKED. So, we walked around some, put in our name at the American Flatbread, Burlington Hearth, and then headed over to the Vermont Pub and Brewery for some locally brewed craft beer.

Courtney and I decided to try a sampler. We told the bartender to give us six of her favorites, and we’d go from there.

If I remember correctly, here’s what we got (starting with the beer in the right column, at the top, and going clockwise)

Burly Irish Ale
Forbidden Fruit
Grand Slam Baseball Beer
Genniuss Stout
Tulach Leis

Click here for descriptions.

Courtney and I both agreed that the Tulach Leis was the best. I thought that the Forbidden Fruit came in a close second. We had just enough time to get through all of the beers before heading back to American Flatbread.

When we were finally seated, we ordered salads and a large pizza for our group. By the time the pizza came, I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture. Regardless, it was delicious!

The next morning was driving day, so we stopped for our morning fuel.

It was a beautiful, cool morning (yay hoodie and jeans!) so I grabbed a hot drink. I decided I had to get something different, so I ordered the mudslide mocha. Basically, it was a mocha with irish cream flavor and chocolate milk. It was really sweet, but tasty. The weather screamed autumn to me, so I happily ordered the pumpkin chocolate chip muffin. OMG it was GOOD! I can’t wait for fall! (Oh wait, that doesn’t really happen in FL.)

I was about to check out when I saw this: Homemade raspberry pie. MMmmmhmmmm. I snacked on this all day long.

Someone suggested that we find a few farmer’s markets along the way (while we were still far enough north) to break up our drive. So, somewhere in the middle of western Massachusetts, we found a neat little farmer’s market, with fresh local produce, and lots of other assorted local goodies like beer, cheese, jelly, and fresh bread. WIN!

My bounty included this gem:

I made some quesadillas with this, and they were OUTSTANDING. Smoked cheddar ftw!

I also had to grab these guys:

I haven’t cracked these babies open yet, but the time is coming!

I’m not gonna lie, I left the northeast a little sad. The abundance of farmer’s markets made me miss my favorite farmer’s market in DC. And the weather we had for the weekend couldn’t be beat! It was what I would consider perfect fall weather, but it’s definitely not Florida fall weather. I’ll have to wait at least another three months before I experience that down here. Sad face. On the bright side, at least I won’t have to deal with snow!

As you can tell, I had some good eats on my road trip. Maybe for my next road trip, I’ll take a tour of the best farmer’s markets in the country. Wouldn’t that be great??

Roadtrip to Vermont – Part 3 (and my race report!)

29 08 2012

On Monday, I got to enjoy my first Florida snow day! Thankfully, the storm turned and we weren’t hit badly at all. I hope everyone in Isaac’s wake stays safe! The bonus of my “snow day”: I got to hang out with this guy all day!

Bill was in town for a gig at the University of Tampa, and because I now had off, we could hang out instead of him hanging out alone at my place 🙂 Thanks, Isaac!!

Now I owe you Part 3 of my Vermont Road trip!

We woke up bright and early to head down to the race site. On top of the mountain where we were staying, I believe it was in the low 50s. Brrrrr!

Transition closed at about 7:30, so we planned to arrive between 6:15 and 6:30 to give us plenty of time to get settled, take a potty break, and warm up.

 I got my stuff all set up, and then went and found Courtney and Jess. Of course I had to pose with my tattooed numbers on! (Which, by the way, were a PAIN to get off. I had them on for several days after, despite my efforts to remove them with wet wipes, nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, and soap. Ugh.)

By the time the sun had come out, it was probably in the high fifties. (Maybe low 60s? I’m terrible at guessing!) It was cold for these Florida gals! And yes, I did just call myself a Florida gal 🙂 Doesn’t take long for that blood to thin!

They announced that the water temperature was 74º, so we opted to wear wetsuits. I really hate wearing the wetsuit, and convinced myself that it was really to keep me warm while I waited around for my wave to go off. It actually was my first time wearing my sleeveless suit that I got last year for Christmas (or was it birthday?), and as it turned out, it wasn’t so bad.

Do the wetsuit tango!

We hung around for a little long while, watching the different waves go off. We found my friend Steph and chatted with her as we waited. A little after 8, we saw an ambulance arrive and then shortly speed off. We were all kind of shocked that someone had to be taken off the course already, when it had only just begun. That’s not something you want to see right before you get in the water. We shook it off, chatted for a little while longer, and then it was time to go!

(Note: after the race we learned that a man in his 50s was pulled from the water at 8:05am. He was rushed to the hospital, but unfortunately he could not be revived. Very, very sad. My thoughts and prayers go out to this family.)

The swim course was what I’m calling an “R” shape. Here’s what the website said the course was going to look like:

It was actually more like this:

When our wave of 105 women went off, it was like a mad dash to get out to the first flag. There was lots of kicking and splashing, and I quickly lost sight of Courtney. In all the races that I’ve done this season (please note, they have all been REALLY small races), I’ve been able to get out to the first flag and then distance myself a little from the pack. That certainly did not happen this time. I was swimming stroke for stroke with girls on either side of me for a good majority of the swim. When I was almost to the second turn, I finally felt like I had a little bit of space, but it didn’t last for long. A girl came up and swam right next to me for the entire rest of the swim.

The second 90 degree turn had us swim towards the shore. And you know what was also in that direction? The sun! Ugh. It was so hard to see! I had to stop and do a few breast strokes so that I could see where the next buoy was. I was thankful I had tinted goggles, and didn’t lose too much time sighting.

As I rounded the buoy that was right before the straight away in, another girl came up behind me, and was practically swimming on top of me. After bumping a few times (as is what normally happens in open water)  I felt her intentionally grab me and push me down. Already frustrated that I couldn’t pass her, I did something very unsportsman-like and grabbed her right back. I don’t know what came over me, but I was incredibly frustrated that I just couldn’t get away from these other girls. Ugh. I am not proud of that.

Anyhow, I stopped for a second and let her swim ahead of me, and I swam way off to her right. Get outta my face!

I made it to shore, climbed out and ran for my bike.

Swim time: 23:52

I quickly got to my bike and skeedaddled out of transition.

T1: 1:36

I saw Felipe as I exited transition, and he told me I was about 10 seconds behind Courtney. I was glad to know I wasn’t too far behind.

I hadn’t really studied the bike course before the race, but I did know that we were in Vermont, and Vermont has mountains!

Here’s the elevation profile:

That may seem like rolling hills to a lot of you, but to me, with ZERO hill training on my bike since I left DC, was totally unprepared for the hills. I felt like I was CRAWLING up the hills. Remember how I was super excited about finally being able to pass people on the bike since I spent a small fortune on Snowball? Yeah, that didn’t happen. I was definitely the one being passed. I watched in horror as a girl wearing sneakers on an aluminum bike pedaled past me. Ouch.

Despite my embarrassingly slow climbs, I really enjoyed the bike ride. There was one stretch, maybe the quasi flat/downhill part between 5-7.5, which took us parallel to the water and on the other side were the beautiful mountains of New York. The view was gorgeous, and I wish I could have taken a picture of it! There were also some really fun/scary downhills. I don’t know what my max speed was on them, but a few times I wanted to shout “WHEEEEE!” Someone else had a similar idea, and cheered “YAHOOO!!!” as he sped by me.  It startled me so much that I almost fell off my bike!

As I pulled in to the last straightaway on the bike, I started to unvelcro my shoes and pull out my feet. When I started to pull my right foot out of the shoe, my whole shoe came unclipped! DOH! I tried to get it back into the clip as fast as I could, but it took two or three times before I could actually get it back in. So. annoying! I was just about to the dismount line when I spotted yet another medical emergency. The ambulance was off to the side, and I quickly glanced over and saw a girl lying on the ground. It was another scary sight (though I don’t believe it was fatal), and a reminder to be smart and safe on the course today.

Bike: 1:20.23, 18.6mph

T2 was kind of a blur. I grabbed my hat, shoes, number and pulled my watch off of the bike before heading on my way.

T2: 1:22

From Emily’s 2011 race report, I knew that I’d be greeted with a ridiculous hill right out of transition. Ridiculous it was.

Thank you USAT for kicking my butt in the first half mile of the run. I glanced at my watch as I trudged up the hill, and saw 10:00 flash on the screen. Ugh. This bites.

I actually hadn’t checked out the rest of the course elevation; the only thing I knew about was the big hill right out of transition. So as I ran along, I was pleasantly surprised to see it flatten out. I kept waiting for another hill to appear, but it never happened!

The first mile or so was brutal. I felt so slow, and my legs were not happy that I hadn’t prepared them with more bricks. Finally, I  settled in to a comfortable, steady pace and glanced at my watch. 8:47!? I was pleasantly surprised, because this 10K was about to be the longest distance I’d run since April! Even better, my right foot wasn’t bothering me! (Actually, my other foot started to become a little numb, I think my shoelaces were too tight, but it was a distraction from worrying about my sesamoiditis!)

My goal for the run was to just finish, and I was hoping to hold just below 9 minutes per mile. Each time I looked down at my watch (after that first mile) I was happy to see that I was holding a good 15 seconds below my 9 minute pace goal! Pleased, I just kept trucking along. The miles seemed to fly by, and before I knew it, I had half a mile left! Please note that when debriefing about the race afterwards, Jess and Courtney both commented about how the mile markers were not spaced appropriately, and the mile marker for mile 3 was placed twice. I however, must have been in my own little world, because I didn’t notice this at all.

I held my head high, and smiled as I crossed the line.

Run: 53:25, pace: 8:36.

Total time: 2:40.37

Overall, I was quite happy with my race. This was actually my 2nd fastest Olympic tri ever! Considering that I had just spent two days cooped up in the car and my training for this race had been less than stellar, I had a great race. I loved being in Vermont and the excitement of being at a race with so many other great athletes. It had certainly been awhile since I’d been at a big race, and it was a good reality check.

I don’t think that I’d road trip it up to Vermont again to race (THAT IS A LONG WAY!), but it was a fun experience, and I’m glad I did it!

Roadtrip to Vermont! (Part 2)

27 08 2012

Good morning friends! I’m experiencing my first “Hurricane Day” as Isaac drifts past us in the gulf. I haven’t been outside my apartment yet, but it seems like it just rained really hard last night and now it’s windy.

Anyhow, where did I leave off?

With day 1 of our epic road trip in the books, we were looking forward to a shorter drive on day 2. Because we had made it as far as we had, we were able to sleep in a little on Friday morning before hitting the road. Before getting a move on, Felipe led us on a short 20 minutes-ish shake out run around Trenton (but he was DETERMINED to go into Pennsylvania, which did not happen). While cleaning up from our jaunt around town, we turned on the Today Show and guess who happened to be performing??


Made. My. Day.

Jess, Courtney and I were immediately taken back to high school (maybe middle school for Jess;-) ) when boy bands were at their peak of popularity. We sang along and laughed hysterically as they performed cheesy dance moves with all of their songs. The dancing was so bad, it was good. What a way to start the day!

Inspired by the morning’s concert, we decided to keep the boy band theme going and play a 98 degrees Pandora station.

Felipe may have disliked our roadtrip music choice, but it was 3 against 1 🙂

98 degrees paired with a 90s pop station got us through the day for sure. Most of the drive was through New York State, along highway 87, and then through the Adirondacks.

The mountains were beautiful, but the driving was slow!

We stopped at the “Scenic Overlook” at Lake George to grab what turned out to be our only group shot of the trip. Whoops.

Finally, after FAR too many hours in the car, WE MADE IT!!!! We drove straight to the expo at the Sheraton to pick up our packets.

We checked in, but didn’t lallygag around the expo, since we were all exhausted and we still needed to drop off our bikes in transition.

Transition was right in downtown Burlington, in Waterfront Park. I was definitely getting nervous about the hills as I walked my bike from our parking spot to the transition area, but I momentarily forgot about all of that when I saw Lake Champlain.

What a BEAUTIFUL lake. We certainly don’t have views like this in Florida.

As you can tell by the picture, a rain storm was rolling in so I racked my bike in transition along with the nearly 2000 other bikes, and made sure to cover up the gears and handle bars with some plastic bags.

Bikes Everywhere!

The nice thing about this race was that everyone has a designated spot on the rack. My location was the luck of the draw, rather than my ability to get to transition when it opened. As luck would have it, my spot was actually quite good, maybe about 25 bikes or so from the end of a rack, right by the Swim In and the Bike In. Score!

After Courtney, Jess, and I set up our bikes (Felipe wasn’t racing, he still has a pro card and therefore can’t race in an amateur race), we got back in the car and drove another 40 minutes or so to Bolton Valley, the ski resort where we were staying.

I must note that the hotel was a 4.2 mile drive up the mountain, with an elevation increase of about 1200 feet. The mom-mobile handled it like a champ!

We dropped our stuff at the room, and my friend Steph from DC popped over to say hi. She was also in town for Nationals and had recommended we stay at the same place as the DC tri club. I was so glad we did, because it was GREAT to see her!

It was getting late and we still hadn’t eaten dinner, so we headed out to again. Upon a recommendation from the front desk (and also enticed because it was the closest restaurant to our hotel), we stopped at the Cider House BBQ and Pub.

Now a BBQ/Pub place doesn’t quite sound like great pre-race food, but believe me, this place hit. the. spot! This cozy restaurant screamed Vermont, as it prides itself on supporting local farms and businesses. I love that so much of what I’ve seen and experienced in VT is local, local, local. I can totally get behind that!

Our quirky waitress started us off with some of their herbed cornbread while we waited for our meals. The hungry triathletes didn’t take long to devour this!

So much of the menu looked appetizing that it was hard to make a decision! Courtney and I decided to split two of the burgers. I love that I have friends who like sharing!

I ordered the Vermonter Burger (local VT beef burger served with VT apple slices, VT cheddar on a toasted roll with our homemade apple chutney) with some sweet potato fries.

The apple chutney on this burger was out of this world!

Courtney got the Portabella Mushroom Sandwich (Large grilled portabella with your choice of cheese served on a toasted roll with our special sauce, onions and lettuce.) She got the side of the homemade Mac N’ Cheese.

That Mac N cheese definitely qualifies as one of the best Mac N Cheeses I’ve ever had. YUM!!!

With full bellies and tired eyes, we headed back up the mountain to the hotel. Tomorrow is race day!

To be continued…