Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tomato Soup

This past weekend was all about food.  Opening the fridge brings a tear to my eye to see all the delicious home made options.  I love an action packed weekend but hate waking up Monday morning to an empty fridge.  Grocery shopping and meal prep take time and are sacrificed on occasion.  Training can suffer when there is no food around.  Nothing is worse than putting in a long hard effort and coming home and have to cook or pick up food.  Having food in the fridge puts my mind at peace and I can get in higher quality workouts.  By putting in work ahead of time it means I can be lazy later.  With the cool fall days here a warm meal is always welcome to warm my bones.  I made tomato soup among other things this weekend.  It is easily in my top five of comfort foods.

Tomato soup canned at left, whole tomatoes right.

This recipe provides a good foundation for improvisation with ingredients, texture, etc...  Chicken stock can be omitted for a vegan option.  Ingredients:

Olive Oil
1 Onion
1 - 2 Carrots
1 – 2 Stalks Celery
4 Cloves Garlic
6 Cups Tomato Juice
1 Cup loosely packed Basil
1 Cup Chicken Stock
½ tsb Salt
½ tsp Fresh Cracked Pepper

Add olive oil to a soup pot to coat and heat on low.  Dice the Onions, carrots and celery and cook for 8 -12 minutes or until onions begin to turn translucent.  Mince the garlic and chop the basil and add to the pot.  Cook for a minute and add the chicken stock, tomato juice, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a slow boil on low heat and cook for 30 to 40 minutes.  Blend and enjoy with minced parsley just before serving.    

Friday, September 23, 2011

North Face Endurance Challenge

The North Face Endurance Challenge half marathon was an incredible experience, the best event I have ever participated in. The Y shaped course, Nestled in the scenic Kettle Moraine State Forest was challenging and gorgeous. I made an entire weekend of it, coming out a day early for mountain biking and spending the night camping. Triathlon rocked but trail running rocked more. Thankfully there are off road triathlons that fold in mountain biking and trail running – next year’s challenge.

I cannot discuss my half marathon effort without describing the events leading up to it. There was no taper going into this event. I had 42 miles in on the week but felt fine. Nine hours of sleep a night, recovery runs, and a dominantly Paleolithic diet do wonders for recovery.

I could not pass up a 20 mile 3 hour mountain bike gruelathon with a friend the day before the race. Properly resting and tapering for an event takes social neglect I was unwilling to do. Mountain biking was a lot of fun and I only mention it as one key event played in big in my race the next day. I crashed my bike in a moment of lost focus on a portion of the trail that was neither fast nor challenging. I rode the bike into ground hard and took damage to my left ankle, knee, and elbow. Beyond the flesh wounds my knee and ankle had been slightly tenderized. No problem, I was still very mobile.

Light on my feet early in the course, also available on YouTube.   Photo and video courtesy of Jacob Burg.

It was a beautiful thing to wake up race day at a campsite a few hundred meters from the start line. I got to sleep in and there were none of the hassles of driving or finding parking. As I waited for the start my left knee felt tweaked but otherwise I felt fresh. I knew the course would be challenging after seeing the elevation chart and having previously experienced the technical terrain. Knowing my physical state and what lay ahead I planned to take the race easy for more than the first half and put in effort for the last three to five miles.

The race started in perfect weather on a flat paved road and I felt good and found myself showing restraint not to pass the leaders. My gait was even and I felt light on my feet as I traveled at a relaxed pace. The first few climbs of the second mile began thinning out the lead pack with me at a noticeable disadvantage. I took it easy up the hills, I realize the uphill is not my strength and look forward to working on this weakness in the future. A generous downhill and shallow incline greeted me going into the third mile and I reeled in many of the runners who had passed me on the way up.

North Face Endurance Challenge 1/2 marathon Elevation from the participant guide.

The rest of the race went much the same way taking up hills easy to preserve my legs and keep my heart from racing away and making up time on the downhills and flats occasionally trading positions with the sparsely spaced competition.  Coming into mile four I had lost sight of the leaders and only caught an occasional glance of the leading woman.  I gained in a large open straightaway and lost her for good in some hills come mile five when some pressure came from behind.

Proof I am not an even pacer with speeds between 3 and 14 mph.

The middle miles were flat and fast and I left my new found challenger behind. Encountering other racers was an exception as most of the race twisted and rolled over hills limiting sight lines. Come the ninth mile my weakness on the uphill was capitalized by my challenger and he passed. The tenth mile was the best as the course briefly looped back on itself and I got to see many other runners. It was the kind of effort I like to see in the morning with hundreds of runners navigating rock gardens, tree roots, sand traps, and striding up hill. Everyone was so positive and wished me well. I returned the favor and couldn’t stop smiling. Pursuit of Healthiness put it best in the comments:
“Trail running is amazing. It's quite different from road running beside the obvious scenery differences. When I did my 50K trail run in TX I always felt training for that run was more about the places I was going and people I was training with. For me, road running was always less about camaraderie and more about time / speed then scenery. The other variable could be the type of individual the different sports attract rather than the nature of the run. The best way for me to describe it is if I fell at the beginning of a trail run, there would be ten people around me who would ask if I was ok, versus a road run where ten people would step on me because I was in the way. I enjoy both types, but agree there is a huge difference.”
I was enjoying the downhill at this point but coming out of it noticed a hitch in my giddy up. Was it the cumulative effect of all the miles and my mountain bike fall? Was it the stick that my arch had landed on taking the recent down hill. Should I have increased my leg turnover going down that rock garden instead of speeding down it with big strides? I found myself heel striking with my left foot and using a forefoot strike on the right the remainder of the race. My heart had plenty of room to run but my legs were all used up. The hills and the technical terrain had taken their toll. It was an odd sensation, road racing inversely maxes out my heart long before my muscles and joints.

Regrouping at the finish with my lovely wife.

I lost two more spots on a big climb in mile eleven to a young calf and an old bull working together.  I wished them the best and they returned the favor.  It was heartening to know someone two decades my senior is still tearing up race courses.  I can only hope to improve with age and be of similar ability when my time comes.  The last mile and change rejoined the 5k and 10k courses taking place that day.  A young woman and two young kids shot past me.  My pride hurt but my legs couldn’t take more abuse.  That is until my spirits were picked up by seeing the finish line.  I took back everything I had given the 5k and 10k runners and finished with my fastet mile of the course.

More men participated in the event than women in contrast to road racing which is female dominated.

This wasn’t my fastest half marathon but I consider it my best.  I had strategized, raced smart, had fun and found my physical limits.  The first half and second half of the race were close to even time wise.  My core ached terribly the next couple days from my uneven gait.  I am still waiting for my ankle to recover but that is what swimming and biking are for.  I will take the lessons I learned on the trail and use them to refine my stride and comeback stronger.  I placed 10th overall with a time of 1:37:15.

The finish time distribution runs slower than road half marathons as expected from the technical terrain and elevation challenges.

North Face did an outstanding job organizing and putting on the race.  Multiple events were available from 50 miles to a 5K.  No detail was overlooked and  the 51 page participant guide answered every question I had.  All the race volunteers were very helpful and positive.  The technical shirt, water bottle, and arm sleeves were great quality.  The value for this race was excellent and I would do it all over again.

Thanks to my friends who kept an eye on my dog and took great pictures and video.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

(Re)discovering the Essence of Running

This past week was the best week of running of my life.  Not because of mileage or personal records but because of disposition.  I ran for me when I wanted, where I wanted, as far as a wanted, and as fast or slow as I wanted.  The cool fall weather did not hurt any.

Running and smiling
It was not hard to rediscover what running is all about, it is in our heart, body, and soul.  As children running comes naturally as a way to play, compete, get places, and explore.  Turns out as adults, not much need change, but like most things we can over complicate.  I have put in a lot of miles from my first strides to today but through the years my motivations and execution have varied.
Running is therapeutic in times good and bad.  The fight or flight response is aptly named for a reason.  Since it is not prudent to jab-hook-cross, knee to the face, arm bar, and rear naked choke our way through life that leaves running. Nothing clears the mind and lets us live in the moment like getting outside and burning off energy.   Time slows down.  There is a lot of satisfaction to be had from meeting a new challenge, discovering a new path, competition, and the companionship that migratory behavior brings.

Activity for the week of 12 Sep 2011
This week took me back to a simpler time full of my favorite runs listed below.  Without the mix of unique challenges and social experiences I would have not bothered putting in the miles.  I found my limits and blew past them.  Today I feel wrecked and now comes recovery so I can do it all over again.

Time Challenge:  Monday I wanted to run 2 hours.  I find time is universal and easier to mentally manage than distance.  The idea here was to run an hour, turn around and cover the distance back in the same or less time.  It was hot and humid so I took my camelback.  Lefty came out for the first five miles before fading, my wife joined for the next six, and I finished the last five in solitude in the moonlight.  The entire experience was serene and I particularly enjoyed the transition from daylight to nightfall.

Recovery Runs:  I have not done a recovery run in years but they offer an amazing opportunity to socialize and even run errands.  Conversation pace is very appropriately named.  Naturally I felt worn at the beginning of the run but felt stronger as it progressed.  It seems counter intuitive but sometimes the best way to shake off discomfort is to do more of what brought it about in the first place.  Picking up groceries on the way home from the run gave it more significance.
Speed + Hills:  Wednesday I did strength training.  The same sensation that comes from squatting plates at the gym can be had by working steep hills and going for land speed records.  The same benefits will also be had.  I warmed up by running to the track.  I ran a mile as fast as my legs could carry me.  I kept running to my favorite triple switchback 100 foot elevation change hill and gracefully wound up and down it for 10 minutes.  My legs were burning by now and I recovered on the cool down home.  Never stopping and knowing how to recover on the move are valuable skills.

Alternate Intensity:  Also called fartleks among other things.  This is the run my dog really enjoys and when he is happy it makes me happy.  Every mile has a different flavor breaking up any monotony.  First is a challenge, and then recovery and repeat.  Lefty gets to do dog things on the recovery but is all business come time to work.  The last mile he pushed the pace, I pushed harder, and then we would repeat in a virtuous cycle.  Try taking a dog on an even paced long run, they don’t like it and rebel.

North Face Endurance ½ Marathon Trail Run:  Changes in scenery and discovering new places can reenergize any runner.  Running the same routes can get tedious, that is why there are road trips.  Breaking up the monotony of road running with a rocky, hilly, rooty, muddy, grassy, sandy course challenges the brain and body in ways road running cannot.  Add in competition and things quickly get interesting.  A trail course takes some real strategizing and focus.  I will blog about this race shortly.

What is your favorite challenge / run?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Race Report: Lake Geneva Sprint Triathlon

I am no longer an aspiring triathlete, this past Saturday 10 Sep 2011 I became the real deal after completing my first tri.  This was the most fun I have had in an event all year.  Maybe it was the first time novelty of it all, but I suspect it is simply because triathlon rocks.  I will be penciling in some tris for next year following this great experience.
I am considering turning this into a sculpture.
The weather was perfect for the event.    My prerace jitters leading into the event were unfounded and come race day I had found my normal resting heart rate again.  Truth is there was nothing to worry about once I got to the start because I had trained for this.  I think a lot of my nervous energy was caused by race day logistics and the foreign concept of transition area setup.  To finally be able to enter the water and begin the race was a relief.
261 men and 188 women participated making it a male dominated event.  This is in contrast the the female dominated running events I have also looked at here and here
Some organizational problems surfaced during the swim.  The first swimmers entered the water about 15 minutes behind schedule and the start for the sprint course crossed the finish of the longer Olympic and half extreme courses.  By about the tenth wave of sprint swimmers the leaders of the longer distance swims were colliding with the sprint swimmers.  It was like watching small schools of red fish swim against a massive school of blue fish.  Event staff eventually moved the start of the sprint swim down the beach 50 yards or so and moved the finish of the longer courses in.  This is important because the first waves of swimmers from the sprint course swam a longer distance than the last waves.  The first waves were also all women so the younger female swim and total race times are at a minute or two disadvantage to the rest of the field.  Event timing was otherwise very well executed.
A 6:49 swim time makes me average
None of these issues impacted my swim.  My concerns leading into the race were unfounded.  I started in the back of the wave but now realize I could have saved some time and been mid pack or up front without issue.  The swim was not 500 yards; it was 350 yards at best.  Last year’s swim must have been short too, leading me to falsely conclude my swim was weak in comparison to the field.  Turns out six weeks are all it takes to become an average swimmer.  It was hard to find a rhythm, I had to keep sighting and avoiding people, but I managed to swim strong.  All the contact and chaos kept me focused.  Having a destination helped too, something none of my previous open water swims featured.  It was surreal being in that sea of churning arms and legs, I look forward to the challenge of doing it again.
A total transition time of 8:51 makes me average.
Once out of the water it was a barefoot run back to the transition area to begin the bike portion of the course.  The transition area was massive, on the order of 300m to 400m.  swim in and bike out were on one end and bike in and run out were on the other far end.  It was the perfect design, no spot of the transition area was better than another.  I was on the swim in bike out area and did not have far to travel for the first transition.  The second transition featured a lengthy run after dismounting the bike and a lengthy run back to the start of the run, total distance was 600 – 800 meters.  I saw a lot of clever time saving tricks in the transition and can definitely improve here.  The most humor was a young woman who asked me if she had to run with her bike helmet.
A bike time of 39:04 makes me a touch above average 
Elevation for the bike.  A large hill greets riders the first mile.
The bike was congested.  Multiple events of different distances and different start times were taking place that used the same course.  No effort was made to arrange the sprint start waves from fastest to slowest; in fact the opposite happened with the entire field of women starting first.  Many parts of the cycling course featured riders 3 to 4 wide and faster cyclists passing using the oncoming traffic lane.  I passed a lot of people at 25mph but as I did this others passed me like I was standing still.  The first half mile and last mile were single file.  I had the fortune of being passed by a guy going into the last mile who proceeded to not to peddle the remainder of the course in true jerk fashion.  The bike was enjoyable even with its negatives.  I had never raced bikes before and made up some time from the swim here.  I was very impressed by some of the horribly aged, poorly maintained, offensive sounding bikes on the course.  I admire these people for doing a tri with anything available.
My 22:27 run time was second only to the winner.
The out and back run course featured an uphill first half and downhill second half.
I felt stronger as the run progressed and turned out beautiful negative splits
Everything up until this point was a warm-up for the 5k run, which really turned out to be 3.5 miles preceded by an additional 600 meter warm-up in and out of the transition area.  The out and back run was naturally my favorite part of the tri.  There is no sensation like getting off a bike and stretching out the legs.   There were a few steep climbs in the first half of the course and I trusted my heart and legs to slow me to the right pace, 6 to 8 mph upon review.  By not being overly aggressive on the hills I was able to go for the land speed record on the flats and subsequent downhills.  I had worked hard to get up those hills and I was going to get all the free speed out of them I could coming back, 10 to 14 mph upon review.  I ran by feel, pace varied a lot but averaged out to 9.2 mph or 6:29 min/mile.   I passed countless male competitors and it was motivating to run them down and move on to the next.  Pushing beyond the pain I found pleasure and finished big with a sprint to the finish.
My overall effort of 1:17:09 was competitive
When the results came back I was very pleased.  There plenty of room for improvement but this race was a good start and came a year before I had expected to do my first tri.  Thanks everyone for words of encouragement and wisdom leading into the race.

Tran 1
13 Mile Bike
Tran 2
3.5 Mile Run

Friday, September 9, 2011

My First Tri Race Plan and Training Summary

I haven’t been nervous for a race in a long time until this week.  It is the fear of the unknown of competing in my first triathlon (Lake Geneva sprint triathlon).  My heart gets thumping just thinking of it.  I am as ready as I will ever be.   I have prepared all I can for the race in the past 6 weeks since I hurt my foot and decided to compete. Truth is I am a runner, all healed up now, and looking forward to getting back to running. Triathlon training has served as a good motivating bridge to getting past my foot injury. All that is left to do is race. I am both in fear of and looking forward to the experience of this triathlon.

The event day weather forecast looks very promising.  Perfect for running, cooI for swimming and cycling.  Good to know so I can dress appropriately.

My race day plan starts Friday night. I plan to have everything packed and get to sleep early. I will wake up Saturday at 3:00 AM get in some coffee and food and leave the house by 4:00 AM for the 1 hour drive to Lake Geneva. I have packet pickup and transition area setup to knock out and will wait for the 7:30 am start. I am sure watching the strange breed that are triathletes will pass the time quickly.  I can do a national geographic like voice over for my wife while we observe them.

The swim goes in waves of 50 spaced 3 minutes apart. I can confidently place myself at the back of the pack. If swim times work out like they did last year I will be part of the bottom 1%. It is a good thing putting on a wet suit is not part of the race, it takes forever. I am glad I bought the wet suit though after seeing the weather forecast and experiencing how easy it is to swim in one with the added buoyancy.

The swim results from last year’s race.  Someone has to have the worst time, perhaps it will be me?
Start line placement is about where my deep thought race strategy ends and instincts take over. There is not much else I can control but there will be thousands of decisions to make during the event. The bike run bricks I have tackled in training put me in the top of the field when I look at last year’s results. It is hard to say how my performance compares, I have never led a bike run brick with a swim and elevation changes and weather differences exist between my route and last years results. I suspect my performance will take just over 1 hour, thus hydration and eating will be largely unnecessary during the event.  I can run faster when I am thirsty because all I can think about is finishing and getting a drink.  A horrible race strategy for longer runs and hot weather but for about an hour event on a cool day, no problem.

I have taken it easy this past week with just one full intensity work out, an 11 mile 6:57 pace long run on Wednesday. Every other swim, run, and bike was of low intensity or duration. My six week triathlon preparation came out to 40 hours of training. Running took up 15 hours -105 miles, not bad for recovering from injury. Swimming took up 15 hours and more if you count watching video and reading up on technique. Six weeks ago I could not swim 25 yards without being out of breath, 500+ yards is quite the improvement. Cycling suffered – I had to learn to swim after all, and I knocked out 9 hours, 134 miles.

Six week triathlon training summary courtesy of Garmin Connect
I don't know what to expect tomorrow but can say I want to compete and have a good time doing it.  These events are meant to be enjoyed in addition to challenging ourselves.  Lake Geneva is a beautiful area and the biggest reason I do any of this training is to spend time outside.  When training and racing stops being fun is when I will stop doing it.

Red Wine, Brandy Tomato Sauce

This recipe has been refined over the last few years and provides a good foundation for improvisation.  Red wine and tomato sauce are made for each other.   Many a sauce or marinade can be improved with the careful application of wine beer or liquor.  This sauce can be used for countless dishes.  Ingredients follow:        

Tomato Sauce Ingredients, pearl onions pictured because I ran out of large onions
4 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Carrots
1 large Onion
½ Red Bell Pepper
6 - 8 Garlic Cloves
1 cup red wine
7 Cups Tomato Juice
3 Tbs Brandy
2 Tbs Turbinado Sugar
1 Lemon
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Dice the carrots, onions, and bell peppers and saute in the olive oil in a large pot for 10 - 15 minutes.  Mince the garlic and add along with a few sprigs fresh thyme, basil, and oregano.  Saute for a further minute.  Add the red wine and simmer until reduced by half.  Be careful not to drink all the wine now that it is opened, save some for the meal.  Add tomato juice, salt and pepper and cook on low heat for 20 - 40 minutes or until reduced to the desired consistency.  Add the Brandy, Sugar, and the juice of the lemon.  Cook for 4 or 5 more minutes.  Blend the ingredients for 2 minutes and enjoy!

Tomato sauce and spaghetti.
Now for a note on ingredients and recipes in general.  Recipes are generic, ingredients are unique and so are you.  Improvise and taste your ingredients and sauce along the way.  Every ingredient serves a different purpose, know what they do and you will be a regular pro in the kitchen.  With respect to tomato sauces I always remove the skins and seeds from the tomatoes, the odd looking metal contraption in the picture does a great job.  Seeds can add a bitter taste if blended.  The lemon acts as a preservative to extend the life of the sauce and the sugar offsets the bitter taste of the lemon.        

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bourbon Barbeque Sauce

This was my first go at barbeque sauce so consider it a work in progress.  Bourbon and barbeque sauce are made for each other.   Even if liquor is not your thing it makes a lot of great aromatic sauces and marinades and those are enjoyed by all.  Ingredients follow:        

Bourbon barbeque sauce ingredients.
¾ Cup Bourbon
4 Cloves Garlic
½ Onion
½ Red Bell Pepper
2 Whole Cayenne Peppers
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
½ tsb Salt
½ tsp Fresh Cracked Pepper
1/3 Cup Apple Cider
¼ Cup Worchester Sauce
3 Cups Tomato Juice 

Simmer the bourbon in a sauce pan.  Make yourself a mint julep or old fashioned while the bottle is open.  For a good time combining whiskey and meals check out Epic Meal Time and watch in horror and wonderment.  Dice the onion and bell pepper.  Mince the garlic.  Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and whole cayenne peppers to the bourbon.  Reduce the bourbon by about half and until the onions are translucent 8 - 12 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and reduce on low heat to the desired consistency.  I used juice from fresh tomatoes that packed a lot of liquid and it took 1 hour to reduce to the desired consistency.  The skins and seeds were removed in the juicing process, seeds can add a slight bitterness to a sauce.  Remove the cayenne peppers.  Discard or stem and seed the peppers as desired to adjust the heat.  Add all the ingredients and the optional peppers to a blender and blend for 2 minutes until smooth.  Refrigerate and enjoy.

Bourbon barbeque baked wings using this sauce.

Cajun Barbeque Shrimp with steak, salad, and wine. 
Time could be reduced by using tomato paste or carrots to thicken up the sauce.  Jalapeno peppers may make a better pairing for this sauce than Cayenne peppers.  I ended up putting both cayennes in the blender with their seeds.  I will use jalapenos instead in the future.  A hot pepper is optional.  This sauce is delicious and acts like a Trojan horse for the heat from the peppers to kick you in the mouth.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fourth Week Triathlon Training

I am entering the final week of training for my first triathlon ever - sprint distance.   This past fourth week of training marked the beginning of a taper into the event.  I fit in a lot of training on a road trip to Lake Superior.  After a successful 500 yd open water swim I can now say I will be able to complete the swim portion of the course.  Emphasis was placed on rest, running, and swimming.  I did not get the bike out once but did go kayaking.  Run mileage was the highest it has been all year.  This final week I will get plenty of rest, good nutrition, and keep workout intensity low.  Activity for the week of 28 Aug 2011 is shown below:

Sunday:  Rest
Monday:  ½ hour swim 500 yd, 1 ½ hour paddling
Tuesday:  3 hour trail/road run, 16 miles
Wednesday:  Rest 
Thursday:  ½ hour swim 750 yd, 1+ hour 8 mile run hills, speedwork
Friday:  Rest
Saturday:  1+ hour 7 mile run intervals


Swim:  1 hour, 1250 yd + drills
Bike:  none
Run:  5 hours, 31 miles      

When I first began training the swim gave me the most doubt but I feel I have diligently prepared for it.  Race day will certainly have some nuances, such as contact swimming, I could not duplicate in training but such is life.  When I was up camping on Lake Superior I successfully completed a continuous 500 yd open water swim in 11:26 using my new wetsuit.  Two days later I completed the same distance in a pool north of 13 minutes.  Swimming in a wetsuit is far easier.  Now if I can only get my goggles to stop fogging.

The upcoming week will include some recreational and low intensity rides.  Biking is one of my favorite recovery workouts.     

I didn’t have much of a plan for running this week other than to get in some quality intervals and take the long and tempo runs easy.  The long run turned into an unplanned 16 mile trail/road run with my wife at a very comfortable conversation pace.  We took it easy, stopped to take pictures, eat, and take in the scenery.  It was unhurried, simple, and fun.  Running should always be enjoyable and recreational runs are a good way to mix it up. 

My tempo run never materialized but something very different happened.  I got in an easy mile warm-up and then took off to see how fast I could get a mile in.  My time of 5:28 leaves me hungry to try this again and knock it down some.  I continued on taking it easy for a while and then hit the only triple switchback I know of in the area along Lake Michigan’s bluffs for 15 minutes of 100 ft hill repeats.  Once complete I hauled home recovering from the hills on the run and growing stronger each passing mile.  I had some intense focus on the way back as the sun faded away and kept thinking about a nice cool glass of water.   The day was very humid and my lungs were screaming when I finally made my way home.  I had hardly noticed the pain until it was all over.

This particular mile repeat workout is a great example of what going out too fast can do to your interval splits.  In my defense it was raining and I wanted to give my new water proof trail shoes a test drive.  What better way than going fast.  Sandwiched between a 3 mile warm up and 1 mile cool down and separated by a 2 minute rest interval were these splits:

5:30, 5:50, 6:09


I first had Gazpacho when I was in Spain.  It was delicious.  The zesty robust flavor from the bell peppers really comes through.  With all the fresh vegetables coming in from the garden this was at the top of my to do list.  It is also vegan, not that most people care but I always dramatize the brief time period I am a vegan if only for one meal of one day.  Ingredients follow:

Gazpacho Ingerdients
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Green Bell Pepper
1 Cayenne Pepper
1 Cucumber
1 Onion
3-5 Cloves Garlic
4 Roma Tomatoes
1 Lemon
3 Cups Tomato Juice
Fresh Parsley
3 Tbs Olive Oil

Core, seed, and dice the Peppers and set aside.  Skin, seed, and dice the cucumber and set aside separately.  Likewise dice and set aside the onion and tomatoes.  Using a blender separately chop each ingredient to the desired consistency - think oatmeal.  Combine the chopped ingredients and add in tomato juice, olive oil, diced parsley, minced garlic, the juice of one lemon.  I reserved a bit of the coarsely diced cucumber, pepper, onion, and tomato, and parsley for a garnish.  Refrigerate before serving.

Finished product enjoyed with sliced avocado.  I have also seen it served with  a boiled egg and croutons.

Margherita Pizza

Update:  Pizza dough recipe added at the bottom.

This pizza is delicious and incredibly simple.  For best results sing Dean Martin's That's Amore while preparing the food.  I am always too lazy to make my own dough even though it is not hard.  A lot of good grocery stores carry frozen or ready to use pizza dough.  This recipe is reverse engineered from a local Italian restaurant.  Ingredients follow:

Margherita pizza ingredients
  Pizza Dough
Olive Oil
Fresh Mozzarella
Fresh Basil
Dried Oregano

Preheat the oven to 425 F.  spread some flour on the pizza pan / baking surface to keep the dough from sticking.  Spread the dough evenly to desired thickness - rolling pin, hand tossed, any method will do.  I like this particular pizza variety thin crusted.  


Spread olive oil over the dough.  Mince garlic over the olive oil covered dough.  Apply the mozzarella evenly.  Slice a tomato or two and crush and drain excess liquid.  When I forget to do this the result is a soggy pizza.  Place the tomatoes on the pizza.  Sprinkle dried oregano, salt, and pepper over the pizza.  Cut the basil in strips and place the basil on the pizza.  Bake for 12  - 15 minutes until crust begins to brown.

Pizza, spread the ingredients out - a little goes a long way and simpler is better.

 Britt at Chicago Runner Girl was so kind as to provide a recipe for dough.  Here it is:

As promised, here is my pizza dough recipe. It yields 1 pie.

1 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
1 t. Salt
3/4 t. Dry Yeast
1 T. Honey
1/2 cup Warm Water
1 T. Olive Oil

In the warm water, add the yeast and honey. Let it sit for a few minutes to activate the yeast.

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, and olive oil. I like to put the olive oil in first so that flour chunks do not get caught on the bottom of the bowl. After the yeast has had a few minutes to activate, add the warm water to the flour and combine into a ball.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface. In the cooler months the dough may need to rest a few minutes before kneading so that the gluten does not become activated. I like to keep the dough in a ball on the floured surface with the bowl upside down on top of it to create some humidity to allow it to begin to proof for a few minutes before the kneading.

Knead until dough becomes one homogeneous ball. Take the bowl and spray the inside with cooking spray then place the dough inside and cover with either a damp towel or plastic wrap.

Depending on the time of year and humidity, it takes roughly 2-3 hours to proof the dough. After an hour you can punch it down, as well as about another 15 minutes before use. Sometimes it maybe a bit sticky, but don't be afraid to add some extra flour because this dough is really friendly.

Bon Appetite!