Thursday, July 29, 2010

Amica 19.7 Ocean Beach Tri 2010

Location:  Ocean Beach, CT
Distance (Sprint): 1/2mi s, 16.1mi b, 5k r
Time: 7am (I was in the 4th wave)
Weather: mid-hi 70s, sunny, humid
Participants:  297

I went to visit my college roommate for the weekend (she's in CT), so I only had an hour drive the morning of the race.  Better yet, I actually heard my alarm ;)

As indicated by the name, this was an ocean swim and the water temp was 71degrees.   Most people were in wetsuits, and not just for buoyancy-- they actually served as protection from jellyfish in this race!  While I saw one or two, I think I survived unscathed.   Ocean swims are tough.  I've only done one before (in my second tri) and spent what seemed like minutes in a panic, not swimming, as soon as I entered the water.   I was hoping this time would be better, and tried to anticipate the shock by getting in the water for a few quick strokes before the start.

(I took this after the swim, so I drew in some buoys :))

It was a beach start, with a rectangular course marked by big orange buoys (we swam clockwise).   The elites went out first, followed by two waves of men.  All the women and first timers were in the last wave.   My swim wasn't perfect, but I kept swimming despite the waves and saltiness that almost immediately entered my mouth (I wasn't swallowing it, I could just taste it).  Eventually I settled down and somehow was the first in my age group out of the water!!   At 16min 24sec, there's still room for improvement, but I handled this ocean swim better and was happy with that!  (For reference, the fastest women out of the water were around 12 minutes.)  The run up to the transition area was a little long but the white sand was nice and soft so it wasn't too bad.

I was a little worried about the bike course, as the race packet contained many warnings about the conditions of the road.   Luckily, the town had done some paving for us the week before, and there was only one small section that was not so hot.   The course had some rolling hills, one good climb (shorter than the last one), and some amazing views!

I felt pretty good for the first part of the bike (passing people!), but lost a little in the last few miles (and got passed by a few ladies).   I was pretty happy with my bike time (52m 29sec), which averaged out to 18.4mph.   Not my fastest bike time, but not the flatest course ;)   I have recently (this summer) discovered how much my bike performance depends on nutrition, and am still trying to figure out how much I need.  Based on the way I felt, I should've taken in some more calories towards the end of the bike, but since I wasn't going out on a run afterwards, I didn't.   I came in from the bike second in my age group (less than two minutes behind)...

~sigh~  While I handed in my chip instead of heading out for the run, I know the run was nice and flat, and heard that it was a little hot (maybe not alot of shade?).

A couple things of note-- the body marking wasn't in the best spots (hard to see from the front and our helmets weren't marked) so I had to search unmarked photos to find mine.  I also only had two photos from one photographer on the bike so that was a bit of a bummer.  (There would've been more had I done the run)   Nice technical shirt, but other than that a pretty lackluster swag bag.  That said, it was the first year of the event and I liked the course a lot (even if I need more practice in ocean swimming)!   The Amica 19.7 race series is great, as there is a universal distance at different race sites.  Sure the course profiles will be different, but at least it's a little easier to compare your times.  There's two more of their races in the area (Boston & Newport) later this season if you're interested!


I'm getting ansy.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Raspberry Peach Cake

A couple of weekends ago I went raspberry picking with a friend of mine.  We got there bright and early to beat the heat, but unfortunately didn't find buckets of raspberries.  Alot of them had already been picked and a bunch more were unripe or moldy.  Luckily it wasn't a complete loss, as I left with three 1/2pints full of luscious red rubies!

On the drive to the farm, we were discussing our plans for the bounties we thought we'd be bringing back.   My friend mentioned a cake that she had made before that she liked that paired raspberries with peaches.  Mmm, peaches.   Sounded like a winner to me!

When I saw the first local peaches from Marshall's Fenway Farmstand, I exactly what I was going to do :)   I adapted the recipe a bit, but ended up with a delicious cake that was light yet hearty.   A perfect summer dessert, I absolutely loved it!

Raspberry Peach Cake
adapted from Fine Living

3oz (1/2c+2T +2t) oat flour (just ground oats)
3oz white whole wheat flour
1t baking powder
1/4t baking soda
1/4t salt
1/2-1t cinnamon (to taste)
4T butter
1/2c brown sugar
1/4c evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)
2 large eggs
2T unsweetened applesauce
1/2t almond extract
2/3c greek yogurt
1 small peach, thinly sliced
3/4c raspberries
1t evaporated cane juice
2t white whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 350.  In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flours through cinnamon).

In a mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully incorporated.  Add applesauce and almond extract.

Fold in half of the dry ingredients, the the yogurt, and finally the rest of the dry ingredients.  Pour into an 8" cake pan sprayed with nonstick spray.   Shake the pan to spread out the batter.  Bake for 15min.

While the cake is baking, combine the topping ingredients (peaches, raspberries, sugar and flour) and lightly toss together so the flour and sugar get absorbed by the fruit.  After 15min in the oven, remove the cake and top with the berry mixture.  Return to the oven and bake 25-30min more.

Cool the cake for 15min in the pan on a cooling rack.  Remove from pan (you'll have to flip it twice, so the fruit is on top) and serve with a dusting of powdered sugar or a scoop of your favorite ice cream!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mass State Tri 2010

Location:  Winchendon, MA
Distance:  Sprint (1/3mi s, 12.5mi b, 5k r)*see below, (Olympic also)
Time:  8am (I was in the 2nd wave)
Weather:  mid70s? and sunny
Participants:  273 (322 for the Olympic)

Not hearing my alarm on race day?  Woops.  Must've been because I wasn't that excited,  normally I have trouble sleeping!  That or I was really tired and my alarm was going off at 4:40 ;)


Luckily I did wake up, albeit to my ride buzzing my apartment.  All my stuff was packed, so I put in my contacts, pulled on my outfit, threw ice in my water bottles and ran downstairs.  The only thing I forgot?  My camera.   Ooops.   We still got to the race site somewhere after 6:30 with plenty of to check in and get setup before the 8am start.   Phew!   

 woah, serious!
I think it's that oh-my-gosh-it's-about-to-start face

The swim started in the water (we could still touch), in between two buoys.  I knew there were going to be alot of fast swimmers in my wave, so I wasn't too alarmed when I saw alot of pink caps get ahead of me pretty quickly.   While the course didn't seem that long, I was never able to settle down and get into a groove.  I think this is probably reflected in my time of 10:33.  Not bad, but room for improvement :)

 out of the water

I decided to tri (ha) a few new things during the bike since I wasn't worried about final times.  Ultimately they should help cut down on my transition times, but I wanted to see if there was a pay-off in terms of comfort.  The first was to go sock-less, as putting on socks over wet feet isn't a walk in the park ;)   Baby powder and body glide helped me slide right in and I didn't have any problems with blisters.   I just need to figure out what to do about the stank to my bike shoes now...    I also didn't use my bike gloves and barely noticed it during the ride.

The course for the sprint was one 12.4mi loop, olympic distance racers did two loops.  Knowing that I wasn't going to run, my plan was to see how I was feeling and possible go for the olympic bike to make up for the missed run.  It took me awhile to feel good on the bike, as I was still trying to catch my breath from the swim.  There was one significant, mile-long hill ~mile4.5.  After my first (slow) trip up, I contemplated calling it quits after one loop.  But the only way to improve my climbs is to do more of them, so I set off for a second loop.  There were a few sections of road that were a bit rough, and a good portion was open to traffic, but overall not a bad course.

at the top of the hill,
wondering why they put the photographer here...

Having taken in fuel and recovered from the swim, I felt better and was determined to try and match my time from the first loop.  Still slow on the big descent, I felt good and finished the second loop 2 minutes faster than the first!  Total time for the 24.4 miles was just under 1hr 25min, which averaged out to 17mph.  Luckily there are some good downhills to make up for the climb ;)  Not too bad, but again, room for improvement!

Well, here's where I called it quits.  After racking my bike I turned in my chip and tried to rehydrate.  I did hear that there's quite a bit of shade on the run, which was definitely appreciated as the temperatures had already begun to soar.  While the sprint course was relatively flat, the olympic course had a few mole hills which I can only imagine feel like mountains :)

Luckily I knew a handful of others doing the race, so I changed and headed to the finish line to get my cheer on.  It's always fun to see people so close to completing their goal, many of whom were doing it for the very first time.  After watching everyone come in, I finally felt like I could manage the post-race bbq and thoroughly enjoyed my pulled pork sandwich!   Max Performance definitely put on a well run race, and the combination of the sprint and olympic distances seemed pretty seamless.

Overall time:  DNF

I'm ok with it, as long as my foot's getting better.  T minus 1 week until my xray/podiatrist appointment.

Monday, July 19, 2010


I was recently in Syracuse, NY to celebrate my grandmother's 89th birthday.  She's an amazing and strong woman, my Nanny, and I was glad to be able to spend some time with family.  On the way back to Boston, I was able to stop at the farm and pick some goodies to bring with me.  Thanks David & Al!!

I was very excited to hear that there were more shelling peas to be picked!  There was also some snow peas, spinach, lettuce, and young garlic!  I need to get out there more often :)  I hope you'll forgive me that I'm posting another recipe that pairs peas with pesto.  They just go so well together!   These were quite yummy, and I think my dinner guests agreed :)

Pesto Pea Crostini
Recipe by Shannon
Yield:  1/2c pesto pea mixture, enough for 4-6 as an appetizer w/crostini

1c shelled fresh (or frozen) peas
1 sm garlic clove
2T freshly grated Parmesan
freshly ground black pepper
2T pesto
1-2T olive oil
your favorite loaf of bread (I used ~8oz of Trader Joe's peasant bread, cut into thin slices and then in half)
good olive oil

If using fresh peas, shell them while bringing a medium pot of water to a boil.  Prepare an ice bath in a small bowl (just add cold water and ice).  Add peas to boiling, salted water and cook for 1-2 minutes, then remove and plunge into cold water to stop the cooking and preserve the vibrant green color.

Add peas, garlic, parmesan, pepper and pesto into the bowl of a food processor.  Process until well combined, drizzling in olive oil until mixture comes in together into a smooth spread.

This can be made ahead, simply refrigerate until using.

When ready to serve, preheat oven to 400 (or broil).  Spread out your bread in a singe layer and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake until crispy.  Remove and set crostini on a platter.  Top with a dollop of the pea-pesto mixture and serve!

Race recap to come later this week...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Savory Zucchini Bread

My first tri of the season is this Sunday.  At this point I am usually excited, a little nervous, anxious....  but not today.   I haven't mentioned it, but my right foot's been bothering me since I got back from Italy.  I cut back on the frequency of my runs, but when it started to hurt when walking, I called and made an appointment with the doctor.

I left with orders to not run for a few weeks.  Likely tendinitis,  I've already got an x-ray and appointment with a podiatrist lined up to rule out a stress fracture and (hopefully) figure things out in a couple of weeks.   It's been rough, I'm not going to lie.

But this bread made me smile.  And made my stomach very happy.  I used it to thank people for some of the little things they have done for me lately.  And they loved it as well.  If you're looking for a twist on traditional zucchini bread, I'd highly recommend it.

Like all of nature's bounty, zucchini has its seasons.  And I'd like to be competing in triathlons for many more zucchini seasons.  So I will continue to observe my hiatus from running...  it's been almost two weeks.  At least I can still bike and swim.  And eat zucchini bread ;)

Savory Zucchini Bread
adapted from Food Blogga
Yield:  1 9x5 loaf, or 3 smaller loaves

1 1/2c white whole wheat flour
1/2t salt
1/4t fresh ground pepper
1/2t baking soda
1/2t baking powder
1 lg egg
1 lg egg white
3/4c evaporated cane juice (sugar)
1/2c canola oil (I use Smart Balance blend)
1c shredded zucchini (mine was heaping)
1/4c sliced spring onions
1/2c crumbled feta (or whatever cheese you have on hand)
1/4c Daregal Fresh Frozen Original Herb Blend  (or whatever you have on hand)
pepitas (pumpkin seeds), for garnish

Preheat oven to 350deg.  Coat pan(s) with nonstick cooking spray.  Place shredded zucchini on paper towel to remove a excess moisture.

Beat egg, egg white and sugar in mixer.  Add oil and continue mixing until well combined.  Add in dry ingredients and mix by hand.  Fold in zucchini, onions, feta and herbs.  Pour batter into prepared pans and top with a sprinkling of pepitas.

Bake larger loaf for 50-60min, or until tester comes out clean.  Smaller loaves will take 30-40min.  Cool 5-10min in pan, then remove to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I was lucky enough to receive part of a lab-mates CSA share when she was going out of town!  Amidst the spring onions, kale and parsley lay a small bunch of radishes.  Hmm...  last I remembered I didn't like them, but I was determined to give them another try.

My first bite was of one freshly washed.   Bite, indeed!  If I was going to like them, it wasn't going to be raw :)  I roasted half of the bunch in a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and while it didn't quite have the same bite, it wasn't anything I'd do again.

My last ditch effort was a radish dip I found online.  Combined with feta and some other goodies from the CSA (onions and parsley), the radishes almost disappeared into this light and refreshing dip!   As a dip for veggies or pita chips, even as a topping for a burger, I really enjoyed it :) 

Radish Dip
adapted from A Veggie Venture & Farmgirl Fare

4oz radishes, washed, trimmed & quartered
1/2c sliced spring onions
1/4c (or more) parsley
2oz Nufatchel (1/3 less fat cream cheese)
2oz feta
1/2T lemon juice/zest
1/4t salt
fresh ground pepper

Add radishes, onions and parsley to bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until everything is finely chopped.  Add rest of ingredients and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Are you a radish lover or hater??  Favorite way to eat radishes?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cinque Terre & Pesto

I almost forgot to pick a winner for my Eggland's Best giveaway!  Congrats  Christina!!  Shoot me an email at and I'll get you hooked up with the loot :)

along Via dell'Amore, looking towards Riomaggiore

With that out of the way, I have one last part of my trip to tell you about.   Heather sure was right when she told me I would love Cinque Terre.   Nestled along the Northwestern coast of Italy (in the Italian Riviera) are 5 towns all connected by footpaths.   You can walk/hike along these footpaths, explore each of the small towns, and even relax at a beach!  Sounds like a perfect mix of activities to me :)


While the hikes between Riomaggiore-Manarola-Corniglia are relatively easy and relaxing, the paths become a bit more challenging for the Corniglia-Vernazza-Monterosso del Mare section.   Unfortunately when I was there the Vernazza-Monterosso section was closed due to some work being done on the trail (the paths aren't that wide, being on the edge of a cliff and all, so it's understandable), but the views from the rest made me quickly forget about that.  Absolutely stunning.

looking down on Vernazza

I can't wait to go back, because my stay was not nearly long enough!!   Despite my short stint here, I made sure to enjoy all of the Ligurian specialties-- pesto, seafood and foccacia.   I've certainly had pesto before, and liked it, but I fell in love with the pesto pasta I had here!

When I saw fresh shelling peas at the farmer's market, I knew I couldn't wait any longer to dig into the jar of pesto that traveled with me from Cinque Terre back home :)

Potatoes, Mushrooms & Peas w/Pesto
Recipe by Shannon

This is a pretty "loose" recipe-- vary the amounts and vegetables to your liking :)  Your favorite lean protein would also be a perfect addition!

1lb potatoes (I used small yukon golds that I found at the store)
1 container of baby bellas (10oz?)
1c (or more) freshly shelled peas (you can blanch them if you prefer them more cooked/softer)
1/4-1/3c pesto (jarred or homemade)
freshly ground pepper

Bring a medium pot (fitted with a steamer insert) of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, scrub potatoes and cut into pieces so they're all a uniform size.  Add to steamer basket and cook until fork tender.  Remove potatoes and set aside.

Slice mushrooms and saute in a little olive oil until nicely browned.  (I often cover the mushrooms for a few minutes at the beginning to trap the moisture they let out and get them cooking, then remove the lid to finish browning them.  They still get good color on them and you use less oil.)

Once mushrooms are done, add the peas and let them cook 1-2minutes.  Add the potatoes and pesto, mix well.  Turn off the heat, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Savor slowly as each bite takes you back to Cinque Terre...  :)

Do you have a favorite pesto recipe??
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