Monday, July 25, 2016

I had some nerves and apprehension coming into this race because my original intention for it (back in December when I signed up) was to train hard and try to qualify for Worlds in Chattanooga next year. I didn't get to train how I had hoped to and felt unprepared for what I would need to do on the swim and the run. 

My inclination was just focus as hard as I could and do my best with the training I had.  Get to Calgary, get organized,  be nervous up to the race.  My awesome boyfriend Ken, had other plans for me.  He planned a really cool road trip for us.  On the way up we went through Lussier Hotsprings and camped there the first night.  It was gorgeous and took us through Banff the next day as we headed into Calgary.

We hit a some traffic outside of Banff and couldn't figure out why we were stopped on a big freeway....when we finally got up to the slow down we saw a transport truck on its side with crews unloading watermelons, and watermelons strewn through the median. 

Google Maps is the best invention ever and helped us so many times during this trip.  It took us straight to "package" pickup.  I was excited for this because I am a 2016 All World Athlete and had been told I would get a little bit of VIP treatment for that.  Nope.  Calgary is the only Ironman  branded not-for-profit race. I did get a cool black AWA swim cap though.  

The pre-race meeting was informative and I had an ART guy work on me for a few minutes.   He only did my right hamstring (not the left) which I thought was weird and felt a bit unbalanced.  We also went to a pro-panel Q&A session that was really fun.  We checked out T2 and then drove over to the swim start.  We met a really nice couple named Nelson and Wanda who gave us some intel on the course.  Calgary 70.3 seemed like a logistically complicated race but I was still optimistic about it.

We had planned to be as low budget as possible for this trip and Ken and I both are easy going. So we ate dinner,  found a YMCA to shower at and it just happened to be next to a Walmart where other frugal travelers were already parked.  It worked for us pretty well until the ladies in the RV two spots over started talking and laughing really loudly in Spanish. One had the most awesome carrying laugh that I would have loved at any other time than 6:00 am.

Once packed up,  we headed back over to the swim start and T1 to drop my bike and run gear.  I spent a while putting stickers on, testing out my bike, doing a little run and sorting gear into bags. I then dropped everything off where it went.  I ran through transition a few times to get my bearings. 

The swim was in a beautiful man-made lake in a subdivision type community.  It was surrounded by really nice homes and had a community center/beach park on one side. That beach is where myself and the other intrepid racers were lucky enough to get to go for a prerace swim.  Unfortunately I only made about 300 yards before I couldn't stand my leaking goggles any more.  The right lens was filling completely up with water from a broken seal.  While I had a spare pair they weren't really better.  So out of the (beautiful) water I came and asked the closest triathlete where I could go buy goggles.  He was super nice and even looked the store up,  checked that it was open, and called them to ask if they had my brand of goggles.  Canadians!

Google maps came through for us again and we found this great Aquatics Team Supply store hidden in a little industrial area not too far away.   They had all the models of Aquasphere goggles and I was able to try on a couple of styles I hadn't seen before.  I actually picked a different one from my usual (something new on race day,  uh oh) and a Canadian print swim suit (80% off). Ken got me a matching Canada swim cap too.

My mom texted me that she was almost to Calgary and she was going to watch my race.  I was really excited since I live far away from my family they hadn't really seen me race before.  She told me my little sister was going to come later too. We had enough time to drive the bike course then meet up with her. 

So we headed out onto the bike course, only to find that the name of the main road we were to ride on had been changed on the hwy signs but not in Google maps or the course map.  Kinda confusing.  The first part was on a legit freeway too. Scarey! Once we were out on the main part of the course it was really beautiful though.  Really hilly (uphill) going out,  gradual downhill on the back side of the loop. I was kind of worried about the wide rumble strips that took up half the width of the shoulder because I'm a weak swimmer but strong cyclist I spend a lot of time passing people and really need the room to get by.

The drive ended at Glenmore Park. No scratch that: North Glenmore Park. Which was of course T2. I had explained to my Mom as well as I could where we were but she still ended up on the other side of the giant reservoir and wetlands area. She eventually found us and Ken had had time to take a quick nap while I wandered around and explored.  I spoke to a race volunteer who was setting up and got hear more positive things about the race. Mom got to get her bearings for the next day and we decided to leave her car there and go for dinner and then back to her hotel where we would sleep as well.    We found a cool restaurant that served locally sourced, clean food with a twist.  You went up to the chefs at different stations to order and they swiped a card to track what you wanted.  Then a server brought it to your table all plated up pretty and stuff.  Since you spoke directly to the chef it was exactly what you asked for.  I had some really good roasted veggies,  chicken and a salad. 

Back at the room,  I laid out what I needed and measured my nutrition into my bike bottles so I could just add water and go. I set my alarm for 4:15 and went to sleep. OK sort of went to sleep.  It's always hard to sleep the night before but I know I was asleep when the alarm went off. 

I hopped up,  dressed in my kit,  made sure to remember my HR monitor strap, even though I hate wearing it and loaded my gear,  mom, and boyfriend into the car. 

It was not a clean transition so I set up what I needed by my bike and grabbed my wetsuit and my new. ...goggles? Where had I put them?  Ken went back to the car while I struggled to encase myself in neoprene. In transition I was pleased to see that my bike rack neighbor was Nomi Martenson, and that Jayne Anderson, Trish Mack, Kim Bellamy and Ivan Tucker were all close by too. We took some selfies and my goggles magically appeared on the other side of the fence in the hands of my handsome,  cheerful man.  Did I mention that the transition was in two tennis courts? With normal sized "doors"? This would be interesting.

It was suddenly time to warm up so I took my goggles out of the package for the first time and stuck them to my face and dove on in.  Much better with goggles that worked.  I was actually wishing I had my sleeveless wetsuit but since I had a sleeved jersey that wouldn't have worked anyway.

It seemed like no time until the horn sounded and I was heading to the first of many bouys.  The first was the most memorable as I really should have gone wide there.  Full on combat swimming.  Soon the good swimmers pulled away from me though and I found some open water.  I drafted a couple of times but I kept losing the bubble trails.  So many turns to make it a one loop course!  I swam a 2:20/100 m pace which is heartbreakingly slow compared to what I've been doing in the pool but it was finally over and I was heading into T1. As I was coming out of the water I took my watch off and held the strap in my teeth while a friendly volunteer stripped my wet suit for me. 

With suit, goggles and watch in hand I hurried up to my bike and put my feet into my new bike shoes  (sockless) while I bundled my wetsuit,  goggles, cap, etc into  the appropriate bag, and did up my helmet straps.

I ran up the hill to the mount line,  and saw a familiar Fitness Finatics kit next to me.  Trish and I headed out together.  It felt so good to finally be able to go fast that I passed three people in the first block when I remembered that I hadn't pushed the appropriate buttons on my watch at almost the same time that I realized my watch was not there.  I had put it in my T1 bag with my wetsuit and goggles.  Crap! Oh well,  thank goodness the race chip would track me. 

That in mind, I got moving.  I learned that the rumble strips weren't that deep and when people wouldn't get over I just went (noisily) around them.  It's always way hillier by bike than by car but I felt really strong until near the end when I got a bit behind on my nutrition without my watch to remind me to take in calories.  I ate some pieces of bars and took in some U can and Ucan hydration.  That made me feel better and I passed two women in my age group near the end of the bike.

T2 was uneventful, and it was so great to hear my mom and Ken cheering me on.  I decided to take off my sleeved jersey because it was hot and run in my Oiselle bra top. My bike shoes were clipped to my bike still so I didn't need to worry about them, so a quick roll up of my socks,  slipped on my running shoes,  grabbed my hat,  race belt and a gel and off  I went.  I grabbed water on my way by and put on my belt and hat as I went.  The first mile or so of the run always feels kind of bad and this was no exception but soon I found a rythym and even though I don't know what pace I was running I wasn't getting passed very much.  I had no watch to gage pace so I concentrated on form,  cadence and staying mentally strong.  I did the math to figure out what mile each kilometer meant.  Then at the 10k point I felt a slight twinge in my left knee.  Not good.  I concentrated more on my form, especially core.  Suddenly my left leg gave out on a step.  I stumbled but didn't fall.  I walked a few steps and massaged it.  Started running again.  It hurt so much.  From then on every up hill, every down hill I had to walk and massage it.  I wanted to cry. I found I could run on the flats so I tried to make up for the times I had to walk. 

A woman in my age group went by me,  then another and another.  I was so frustrated! Nothing to do but move forward.  The big hill I had been able to run down early on was excruciating to climb back up.  At the top of I had to run by the finish line and out 2k, knowing I then had to run back 2k. I made the turn and was trying to remember how far 2k was.  Less than a mile?  I heard a woman behind me.  No way was she going to pass me!  Except my leg wouldn't listen. I massaged it as quickly as I could as she passed me and I saw the faded 43 on her calf.  This.  Was.  Not.  Happening.  So I ran.  I passed her again and ran just ahead until the pain stopped me again but she wouldn't let me.  This amazing lady put her hand on my back and said "no! We are so close,  let's go!" I mumbled thank you and picked up my cadence,  trying to land as lightly as I could.  1k to go. The longest 1k I had ever run. I finally came around a corner and could see and hear the finish line.  I found a kick somewhere and got it done.  My mom, my little sister,  her boyfriend and Ken were all there cheering waiting for a hug. 

I collected my giant belt buckle medal and went over to the fence to talk to them. I got some post race food (good stuff, not cold soggy pizza). I chatted with the amazing Kelly Craree who had an enormous PR. I looked for a massage table but couldn't find one.  I went back to my family and visited while I waited to find out if there was any chance for a roll down spot for Worlds. 3 spots in my age group only one was claimed before the awards ceremony. 

Ivan was also hoping for a spot as he was also in the top 10 of his age group. (I was 8th even after that horrible run).  The Spokane contingent were nice enough to wait with us while we stood there with fingers crossed while the RD called out the names of the people just a little faster than us and the spots rolled within one of our names before they were claimed.  So no spot.  Yet. :)

Reflecting, I would definitely recommend Calgary 70.3 for the beautiful scenery and friendly people.  It's a challenging course but fast and well organized.  It was really great to have Spokane friends out there and so amazing to have my family and Ken.

Monday, June 17, 2013

So it might as well be established that I am a sporadic blogger at best.  I will own it.  I love my busy, busy, life and when I get to a point that I can blog regularly I probably won’t have anything interesting to blog about anyway.  At this point I have five kids, two jobs and I’m six days out from competing in Ironman Coeur D’Alene.  I wanted to do this post because I was chatting with one of the mentors in the beginner- tri group I am coaching about how we all start somewhere and that my journey started 50 pounds heavier, and much, much slower.  I joked that there were pictures on Facebook if she really wanted to see.  She said she did because it is always inspiring to see that most people don’t start as Ironman.  So here is a recap of my triathlon journey. J

My first triathlon ever was a sprint at Beaver Lake in Issaquah WA in 1997.  I was 104th out of 112 women.  I was ecstatic to have done one and finished strong and happy.  I had (modestly) nursed my 4 month old in a one piece swim suit at the start and was almost as proud of that feat as I was the tri. My time was 2:06:22 and I was last in my age group of 20-24.  A couple of weeks later I went back to school full time.  I signed up for swimming as my PE credit.  I did the Medical Lake Sprint tri in 2008 and was faster on the swim and overall.  With a much smaller field I finished third in my age group (there were probably 4 people in it).  I was one of the first people out of the water and in the top 10 women overall off the bike.  Then I did my usual  (at that point) shuffle and watched all the other women pass me.  I was pretty hooked on tris at that point and wanted to continue but life sort of got in the way.

Fast forward 10 years and 3 more kids (that makes 5 total).  I had finished school and had decided to be a stay-home mom for a bit.  Being a mommy to a lot of little kids makes for not a lot of working out time.  A triple jogging stroller was way outside my price range and I honestly couldn’t muster the motivation anyway.  I was walking pretty regularly while the older kids were at school but I wasn’t seeing any weight loss.  I got my thyroid checked and sure enough that was the issue.  Thyroid medication wasn’t an overnight fix but it let my come out of my mental fog and say “hey I want to do something about the way I look and feel.” 

My sister Nyla lives in Canada about 4 hours away and together we hatched a plan to do some races together and then check in with each other by phone and help each other stay motivated.  The first one we chose was the Kal Rats Triathlon in Vernon B.C. I still didn’t follow a training plan, just kind of started swimming, biking, and running randomly and then calling my sister on the phone and talking about it. 

Being a family of 7 on one income meant that I would be riding my husband’s bike (size 56, yup I’m 5’4”) and wearing a water skiing wetsuit (I didn’t know any better).  I loved and still love biking and became addicted to spin classes at that point (the bikes fit better than the one I was riding outside).  J

The day of the race came and I decided that my wetsuit was too small ( I had gained 50 pounds between my 5th baby and the thyroid issues).  So I would wear my husband’s.  He is 6’ tall with broad shoulders.  I got out there in the water (which had A LOT of milfoil) and realized that I had miscalculated some things: 1. Men’s XL was not my size.  I was dragging a man sized bucket through the swim.

2. I should have trained in open water.

3. I should have checked the distance of the swim more carefully and remembered that there is a pretty big difference between yards and meters.  And it was 750 meters. 

When I finally got out of the water with the guy in his seventies I rushed to my bike and rode it like I stole it.  It was hilly to say the least.  I passed a few people and started my run.  It was hillier.  Like up one side of the steepest hill you can think of then down the other side and turn around and climb it again hilly.  I did not finish last but I was not excited about my performance.  My sister kicked (my) butt. 

I decided my next race should be a half marathon.  Which Nyla and I did together in the fall of 2007 (Spokane, in 2:30 ish  if you are wondering ).

Then a cool thing happened. Nyla and I signed up for Kal Rats and our first Olympic distance (Titanium Man) in 2008 and I met Sarah Foster.  She introduced me to training plans.  Here were all these workouts laid out on a schedule and all I had to do was follow it.  And they had instructions for transitions, nutrition, biking up hills, running at a steady pace, open water swimming and more.  I signed up for the tri Sarah was doing at the end of summer too.  She also dragged me out to Couer D’Alene to watch Ironman CDA that year.  I was so inspired I was ready to think about, maybe, someday, sort of consider, doing it.  Maybe.

My tri experiences got better from there.  I had started to eat a mostly raw vegan diet at that point and not having as much dairy and gluten did great things for me.  I didn’t stick with totally raw but wish that I could.  I have completely eliminated dairy and gluten from my diet and feel tons better. 

That next stint at Kal Rats was a lot better.  I got a 10 min PR and had a much more positive feeling about the race.  My race with Sarah was great too.  I was a runner again and lighter.  Still not a great swimmer but I did just fine.

Titanium man was also fun but I was hoping for an easier time swimming.  It still seemed really long even with the downriver swim.  My overall time was 02:47:01.  Nyla beat me by over 10 min.  But I had finished it.  That was a quarter of an Ironman! Almost. J

So I signed up for my first and then second marathons.  6 weeks apart (don’t do that).

In the meantime hubby had signed up for and completed his first Ironman, the Grand Columbian.  And for CDA but he didn’t tell me.  He’s weird that way.  So when He did Ironman CDA In 2009 (He finally told me what he was up to so I could come watch) I decided I was signing up.  I had signed up for Troika Half Iron and was training for that and best of all I had gotten a bike. 

Let me introduce you to Watson (Watts for short-get it?).  Oh yes I AM that triathlete.  I ride a Cervelo P1 tri bike.  It has zero carbon on it anywhere.  Ultegra components and a Terry saddle.  Speed play pedals (regular not lite action).  When I race I usually borrow carbon wheels from my generous tri friends, which makes the aluminum frame a little nicer to ride for long distances.  I love my bike and while I will upgrade someday, it works just fine.
I also got a wetsuit.  I now race in a women’s Zoot Zenith.  It makes me look like Bat Girl but it’s a little too big now that I’ve lost weight.  This is not too much of a problem because it will never be as bad as that first Kal Rats (what doesn’t drown us makes us stronger, right?).
I’ve continued to get faster since.   My first Troika was right around 6 and a half hours.  In 2010 I joined Team Blaze and was blessed to have Scott and Tristin Roy give me advice and wisdom for my first Ironman.  I raced Ironman CDA and finished in 12 hours and 55 minutes .  I had raced Boise 70.3 in 6:02ish and Onion-man Olympic in 2:51:39 as precursor races and I felt strong and was really happy with my times and my experiences.  I especially appreciated the camaraderie of Team Blaze and the boost of the extra cheer and encouragement that wearing flames seems to bring.
The next year I signed up for Troika again because I really wanted to go sub six at that distance.  Thanks to a migrating swim buoy and 4 extra miles on the bike course I did 6:02:24.  I cried but then realized that If you took the overall winner out, I had won my age group.  I also qualified for Nationals.  I had done Valley Girl (1:12 and third in AG) and went on to do Priest Lake tri (2:45:06 and 2nd AG) and titanium man (2:34:53 1st in my AG) that year too.
2012 was all about the sub six half.  I picked Chelan-man and it was the only one that I did last year. I think.  Hubby will tell you that I forget stuff.  I trained hard and was really excited because my running had improved a lot.  I knew that I could do a 1:47 stand-alone half marathon (Windermere).  It was the first and only time so far that I have ever ridden a disc wheel and it must have worked because my time was 5:49:35 and I was the 5th woman overall and 1st in my AG.  Thank you Charlie for lending me your wheels.  Okay I just remembered the other “half” that I did last year. Boise. Ugh.  I blocked it from my memory.  Just kidding you can look up all kinds of things about Boise 2012 but I’m not going into it.
So that brings us to this year: Hits Half Ironman (5:57:56 and 2nd AG) and Onion-man (2:39:01 and 5th AG but 10th overall).  I’ve run a 3:37:44 marathon (my 13th, at Leavenworth in October) and a 1:43:56 half (Windermere).  I rode two loops of the ironman course without crying (113.4 miles, not sure how that number came out).  I think I’m ready.  If I don’t break my PR it won’t be the end of the world, it’s a different course for both bike and run, but I really hope to. 
I've loved my triathlon journey.  There have been ups and downs of course.  When Scott Roy passed away in April of 2012 was a definite low.   I will borrow his saying in order to cement it a little more firmly into my mind for Sunday.  Enjoy the Journey friends.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Race Report for USAT Nationals

Nicole Lund

USA Triathlon 2012 National Championship

Total Time: 2:40:45

Swim-34:00.1 TRAN1-2:48

Bike-1:12:32.9            TRAN2-1:41

Run-49:43.2    Penalty: None

Div Place-84

 I know that I'm missing a few race reports and general posts here but this one is ready to go so I'm posting it now :) ....I can catch up, I'm sure I can.

Once we got to Burlington and checked into the hotel I put my disassembled bike together.  It went together really fast, faster than I expected. There were no glitches or anything, it was easy and everything was safe and sound. Loaded it in  the car and headed to packet pick up and the pre-race meeting.  Loved the race swag...running hat, race belt, nice shirt...

 It was worth attending the pre-race meeting for the comedy factor alone. The head referee gave us some great advice on how to effectively chick someone without giving them a chance to re-pass you, earning either of you a drafting penalty. He made sure to inform us that we could mount at mile one if we chose, as long as we were past the mounting line.

After the pre-race meeting, I went out to the parking lot and test rode my bike. It worked like a dream. I thought I'd practice getting in and out of my shoes while there still clipped to the bike, but wasn't very successful so I decided to forget that idea.

We made a quick trip to the store and then headed to transition to drop off my bike. Dropping of my bike in transition went pretty smoothly, there weren't many people there at that point. I kinda hung out for a bit.  I was happy with my spot on the rack...only eight people in from the end of the aisle so my bike was easy to find. As long as I’m mentioning good luck I should say that my number was 797 which is both a palindrome and a prime number. ;)

With my bike safely in transition we decided to go buy some toe nail clippers and water and then head back to the hotel to put on the helmet stickers, and number tattoos and to layout my race kit.

My legs have been kind of sore lately and I was a little bit worried about it, but David was soooo wonderful and gave me an hour long massage to get all the kinks out of my hamstrings, glutes, IT bands, and planter fascia. I set my wake up call for 5:00 am and went to sleep.

Got up the next morning (at 2:00am Spokane time) and arrived at transition just before 6:00 am Vermont time.  I laid out all my stuff. Then checked it, and then checked it again, and again and then I walked away and came back and checked it some more.  I may have arrived a bit too early this time.  J I did get to chat with some of the other 38 year olds though, Most were from the North East.

It was finally late enough that I could put my wetsuit on...only 45 minutes to go. I walked over to watch the 1st wave go off so I'd know what to do. Then I walked back to find the rest of the people with my color of caps. I took a peanut butter gel, which is a new flavor for me and I wasn't sure about it but I did it anyway.  I know, I know nothing new on race day… J

I had already looked at the swim course because it was a really odd pattern. What I didn't notice when I was looking at the race course was how high the waves were.

As my group started moving through the boathouse toward the water, there was a pang of nervousness. It was very windy and I was a little bit cold but the thought that was running through my head was: "at least it's not Boise."  It was a deep water start, so we had to jump off the dock and had five minutes to warm up. I looked at the water and thought...I don't know about this, I thought it was going to be really cold. So I went off to the side and dipped my feet in to see what it was like and I was pleasantly surprised that it was pretty warm and it smelled good and I jumped in and I actually was looking forward to swimming in it.  I did a little bit of warm up swimming and tried to remember everything Coach Scott had tried to teach me.  It seemed like just seconds before it was time for us to move over to the start of the swim area. Before I knew it, we were headed to the first buoy. It didn't seem too bad at first, although some of those women were pretty vicious. Then I hit the big waves. I was starting to get sea sick but I just kept swimming...what else could I do?  I got kicked in the goggles just after the first turn and had to fix them. Once my goggles were fixed I just focused on the next buoy and swam towards it. It was kind of fun, a little like body surfing. After the 2nd turn, I started to have problems because I couldn't see where I was going with the sun in my eyes. I swam pretty far off course and this, combined with the really choppy water was making me quite discouraged. But I made it to the next turn and put the buoy on the correct side of my body and made it around. I had one more turn before it became easy again and I was inside the jetty with no currents pulling me off course. Then up the ramp, smile for David's picture and into T1.

I racked my bike, put on my shoes, grabbed my helmet, did up the chin strap and adjusted it and luckily noticed that my earring flipped out of my ear while I was doing that. Rather than put it back in, I stuck it in my extra pair of socks and headed out on the course. 

I passed a lot of people right at the beginning and realized at the top of the first hill that my heart rate might have been a little bit high because I felt like I was going to throw up. I made an effort to ease back a little bit and took in some nutrition via my water bottle and I felt a lot better. The course was rolling hills and I continued to pass quite a few people, I didn't see a lot of women in my age group though. 

I was passed twice by women who were age 50-54 and after dropping back 3 bike lengths I passed them again on the next hill. I saw those two women near T2, we came into transition about the same time.

T2 was smooth and easy, shoes and hat was all I needed so I was off running.  I wore my pure flows that are almost worn out and didn't feel any pain in my legs so I was really glad (thank you David). While I was out there I was thinking this was my big race of the season, so no easy running. I tried to stay near my threshold the whole time. This was pretty easy near the beginning since we started out with a hundred yard hill.  The rest of the course was fairly flat and on beautiful paved trails. The last mile was quite downhill and while I was sad to be passed by two girls in my age group I felt like I raced it out as hard as I could have.

I ran into the finish chute thinking "Oh no, it's almost over." At the same time, I was hurting and was glad I'd be able to stop soon. Once across, I collected my medal and water and went to find David.

The post race food was delicious (and better yet had gluten and dairy-free options). It was easy and quick to get my results. And while 84th in my age group would generally not be all that great, 84th out of the best in the country in my age group isn't too bad.  My bike split was 1:12:32 which is about 20.6 mph and my run pace was an 8:01 min mile avg.  I’m happy with those splits. 

I loved the experience of racing at nationals.  It was amazing to be out there with so many strong, fast people.  The race was well organized and went off smoothly from my vantage point as an athlete.  I’m not sure where nationals will be next year (they said at the USAT annual meeting that there are 7 cities in the running to host) but I would recommend it to anyone who qualifies and is not certain if they want to go.

Friday, December 23, 2011

  Only two more sleeps until christmas and its been super fun thus far at our house.  I'm really excited to have rediscovered my love of sewing.  I designed, drafted, and sewed an apron for my mother in law (she doesn't read blogs so this won't be a spoiler).  I love it so much I'm going  to make one for myself too.  Bonnie (my MIL) is much taller than my model and since she's not 16 like my model, a bit wider too.  I'm hoping that means the bib will fit her without the little gap at the neck.  I think this design is both flattering and practical (nice big pockets and plenty of coverage) so I'll probably use it again.
   Katie didn't actually wear the apron while baking (just posed for me) but she did make most of the gingerbread for our annual houses.  That means enough fronts, backs, sides, roofs and accessories for seven houses!  That's a lot of cookies.  It took three days.  The results were really fun though.  We used the Wilton Gingerbread House Mold to make them (easier than making templates and rolling and rolling...but you can only bake 1/3 of a house at a time). 
   Everyone in the family got to make a house (except Miles, who  wanted to share with Katie and since her friend Vittoria was over she got to make one too).  Coconut "snow" and gummy trees, santas, wreaths and snowmen complimented our mini m&m "lights."   
   All that sugar (I ate some of the candy-not the cookies, I haven't tried to make gluten free gingerbread yet) made me crave a green smootie.  So for breakfast this morning I did a christmas one with Kale, bananas and oranges layered with strawberries, bananas and oranges.  So yummy and pretty too.  Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Owl Hat

I"m still doing fun crafty stuff (and really enjoying it).  Yesterday I finished this owl hat that also seems to double as a koala.  Its pretty cute either way.  In the background of the hat picture you can probably also see some house shaped ornaments.  Those are a direct result of my latest obsession: Pinterest.  My friend Liz pinned the inspiration from and I had to make them.  Next time I will go to the quilting store to get fabrics that I love because my intention was to make 12 of them and I'm bored after three since they don't quite have the look I envisioned.  No worries though, there are plenty more inspirational ideas where that one came from!  Seriously.  Hours and hours worth of just finding ideas.  I had to set a time limit for myself.  For every hour I spend on there I have to actually make one project.  Its a win win that way. :) 

PS.  I made up the hat pattern as I went along but there are some great video tutorials on You Tube that could get you started if you wanted to do something simillar.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Its Beginning to look...well you know

My first christmas craft of this year is altered house blocks.  I used scrap lumber which I marked with a t-square then trimmed using a chop saw (fast but not safe for the angles, a jig saw would have been better).  I then sanded the pieces with a belt sander because I wanted square (not rounded) corners.  I used PVA glue to attach patterned paper to all sides and trimmed the paper with an emery board (this also seals the edges).  As I did this I smoothed the paper with a bone folder to get out any bubbles and bumps.  Once I had the paper on I decorated the blocks with vintage family photos (my granmother-in-law and her sisters) and letters that I cut out with my cricut (second time I've used it in three years :P ).  Buttons, ribbons, and mica flakes finished them off.  I hope to post a few more things that I've been working on soon but for now thanks for stopping by, if you were inspired to try a project like this I hope that you will link it up in the comments.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Trying New Things

One of my favorite things about belonging to Team Blaze Spokane is that there are so many opportunities to mentor and be mentored. Our club is full of knowledgeable and inspirational people who are excited to help others succeed. One such person is Angie Fesser. Several times this year she has invited me to try cyclocross (correctly guessing that I would love it). When I told her I had no mountain or cyclocross bike she lent me her own bike. When I admitted that I was really unsure about my ability to stay tire-side-down on a course with no pavement she arranged a midweek ride out at seven mile to help me get comfortable with some basic off road skills. On a side note: All the things that I read about in Bicycling Magazine turned out to work in real life. Shifting your weight to gain traction, shifting gears ahead of time on a hill, and most of all if you stare at the giant rock in your path (instead of a line around it) you will ride right into it(sorry Phil).

So with that much encouragement I had to show up Sunday morning and try it out. David and I drove up to Walter's Fruit Ranch in Greenbluff. After signing up and buying my one day licence (which I was supposed to return afterwards but forgot) I geared up in my Team Blaze jersey (lent to me by Angie since I only have a tri top and that was not going to work weather wise). I met up with Angie, Janelle and Phil who passed along encouragement and tips before we got out there and rode most of one loop to see the course. Thank you Phil for suggesting we come early enough to do that, it really made a difference.

I was shivering at the start but couldn't tell if it was the biting wind or nerves. Probably some combination of the two. Once the officials blew the whistle for our wave I was fine but somewhat disappointed to find myself in very last place (definitely need to work on the start). Since I knew we would be out there for half an hour I tried not to worry about it and just rode. It was so fun! Scary but fun. I did have a couple of mishaps on corners where my back tire slid out, but for the most part I did okay bike-handling wise. I could have been a little more aggressive about passing people (going around on the narrow track worried me so I stayed behind even though I could have gone faster, especially uphill). The last lap was hard because the high level of effort maintained for that long made my brain not as able to coordinated the more technical stuff with my body. I did pass all of my teammates but not the other woman who was doing her first ever solo race (she was an avid mountain biker and had done the 24hr race). It was really great to hear a bunch of our friends out there cheering too. Rob and Lisa and Jenny and Jessica all came just to watch and cheer, how great is that?

I loved it! I finished up coated with dirt but wearing a giant smile (which meant I had dirt in my teeth). I may have a new obsession (its probably good that the season winds down with one more race in CDA this weekend-I don't really have time for another hobby at the moment). Combined with the Fall Folk Festival (at which I learned some basics of belly dancing) it was a really great weekend!