TriTalk Tuesday: Nations Triathlon Race Recap

9 Sep

Woohoo! Nation’s Triathlon is in the bag…well, really Nation’s duathlon is in the bag. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

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FianceKef’s dear friend H.A.M.Kef suggested we add this race to the season’s roster, and since my first attempt at an Olympic triathlon was only about a month before Nation’s, I figured I’d be mostly trained up for a sprint. Timing was pretty awesome- I rested for a couple days after NYC, then went back to 10 days of peak training, backed off, and tapered. Before I knew it it, it was race weekend!

The expo was exactly the kind I like–not too big, not too small, and full of local vendors with blow out sales. H.A.M.Kef and I hit up the Potomac River Runners’ stand like it was our job– I got some much needed new running gear for half-off PLUS a pair of Newton Distance shoes… for $50! I am so excited to finally give Newtons a try. (What’s the hype? Check it out here.)

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After the expo, we scidaddled over to West Potomac Park to rack up, which was easy as pie. Turns out the pre-race day procedures have WAY less rigamarole when you remember to bring your bike number to bike rack-in! A quick stop off at the grocery store for pre-race meals (me: Van’s juice-sweetened GF waffles, H.A.M.Kef: black bean spaghetti with butternut squash, brussels sprouts, and a little grilled chicken. She wins.) and we were home by 3 pm.

Just a few (14, to be exact) short hours later, we were up and ready to race! The heavy rain on Saturday had cooled DC down immensely (almost 20 degrees!)… but it has also led to sewage overflow into the river, and so the swim at Nation’s was cancelled for the second time in 4 years. I was not all that bummed- I know I can swim and luckily this wasn’t my target race for the (almost-ending) season, but I know there were people who traveled and trained for this specific race, and I felt for them.

Despite the change of plan, spirits were high in transition. We got set up, I discovered and fixed a flat (thank you Jesus and racer #4827!) and then it was time for waiting. Lots of waiting. The Olympic group started on time at 7:15 am, and after they all got out, the sprinters started around 9. I must have started around 9:20.
photo 5-4When the swim is cancelled, pretty much everything remains the same except you don’t swim. So you still run from swim out to transition along the same course, and you’re still not allowed to have your helmet or shoes on. Some people clearly did not get this concept and I saw some people starting with their transition gear bag… but no one seemed to really care.

We started in groups of 9 separated by age group and gender. Most of the women in my heat were awesome-lots encouragement and laughs, but of course there’s always that one. This woman bent over and spread out her arms like some kind of track start plus the thing every mom does with her arm when she stops short in a car (you know what I mean). When I politely removed her arm from my body, would you believe she glared at me and put it back? Luckily for everyone, the whistle blew and I did not have time to put this wench in her place.

The path from swim out to our bike area was about 250-300 meters or so–some people sprinted it, I decided jogging would do it. My legs were not feeling light or strong at ALL, which surprised and worried me. I shoved a Picky Bar in my mouth as I got my cycling self together, hoped the caffeine would fix the heavy legs, and got the hell out of there. (T1: 3:03)

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The bike ride was pretty fun, but I can’t say much more than that–I was focused on laying down the hammer once that caffeinated-goodness kicked in. It’s almost 100% flat (just one big hill) and a lot of it runs on ramps on and off the highways, which is to say there were often 3-4 lanes of wide open road and lots of people for me to pick off. If you don’t mind my saying so, I was a lean, mean passing machine on the bike course–but that came at the expense of my actually enjoying the course, as I don’t think I could recreate it without a map if my life depended on it. Some hazards of note: 1) the tunnels/overpasses can get pretty dark and it made me wish I had tinted sunglasses 2) there are quite a few tight turns on the course–give yourself and your fellow racers lot and lots of room and SLOW DOWN 3) there are two no passing zones– one on the way out to VA and on the way back (I think we were on 395 at that point). You will lose some time here, but they’re not longer than 400-800 meters or so. Do not be that jackass who passes in the no passing zone. Basically, it is the equivalent of being the person who waits until the last minute to merge into the right lane when the left lane is closed and drives up to the front of the line of cars– annoying and not safe. (Bike: 54:31)

Anyway, the ride was a good one, and I tried not to dawdle too long in T2. In the NYC Tri, I was trying frantically to dry off my soaking feet and amp myself up for the hilly run to come (total T2 in NYC:  5:16!). For this race, I just wanted to get in and rock that run– 3 miles is just so much more reasonable. I scampered out of there in 2:40–I’ll take it.

As I mentioned int he NYC recap, the whole bike-to-run thing ain’t my strong suit, but I focused on making it from transition to mile 1 and figured I’d take it from there. Luckily, I found KMBGKef on the sidelines, who ran with me for about a quarter of that first mile, which helped it fly by. There’s a bit of a hill coming up along the Holocaust museum, and I definitely lost some time there. Mile 2 came up faster than I thought it would near the entrance of East Potomac Park (which is bizarre considering I was probably going slower than I thought I was), and before I knew it, the finish line came into view. The problem with this is that the finish line is in view for at least one-third of a mile, which really makes that last-ditch, give-it-all-you’ve-got sprint to the finish a long one. I was disappointed to let up my only age-group pass about 10 seconds before the finish line, but I’m proud of the way I held my own out there this time! (Run: 27:13)

Bike-Run Finish: 1:27:25. That brought me to a 14th-place finish in my age group (out of 70-something), which I was SO SO SO proud of. I trained hard through the ups and down and the injuries this summer, and it was really nice to finish the season with a good race. Overall impressions of Nations: well-organized, easy to navigate, and very fun. Bike course could have been more scenic (I think), but the run course is a very nice one. Swag is generous (a tech tee, large mesh backpack, and a glittery medal)–but it’s tough to say it’s worth the price when the swim is cancelled so often. Food afterward was fine–but I’d prefer nicer swag over fancy post-race food any day.

As per usual, my race day pictures were terrible so I won’t even bother to screenshot them — at the RnR USA half, I was looking like William Wallace… at Nations, I was channeling Josie Grossie. No, thank you–I will not pay $40 for that image, but thank you all the same, MarathonFoto.com.

I did, however, get to try my hand at photo bombing– what do you think? Haha. Maybe I shouldn’t quit triathloning.

photo 1-14HUGE congrats to H.A.M.Kef for killing her first triathlon and looking good while doing it!

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Malaysia Monday: 6 Days in Kota Kinabalu Part II

8 Sep

After a long hiatus, we’re back! To refresh your memory, we’ve already spent 3.5 days in George Town, Penang and covered local eating options, selfie sticks, and a retro railroad on the first 3 days in Kota Kinabalu. Today, we’re talking near-death experiences on Southeast Asia’s largest mountain, how to survive in a Borneo jungle, and free pedicures.

Day 4: Mt Kinabalu National Park

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Thanks to MountKinabalu.com for the awesome photo!

 

Mount Kinabalu is the main attraction in Kota Kinabalu and the highest peak in the Malay Archipelago. Some people spend 2 days and 1 night fighting altitude sickness, extreme conditions, and exhaustion to climb to the summit…. JetSet and I did not do that. Instead, the amazing staff at Eden54 arranged a day trip for us with Only in Borneo. Our tour guide, Mark, picked us up at the hotel around 8 am and we took the ~90 minute drive from KK to Mount Kinabalu national park.

Our first stop on the tour was a beautiful vantage point of the mountain. JetSet and I asked another tourist to take our photo. When we stood nicely next to each other smiling, he pulled his face away from the camera and said, “Aren’t you going to pose?” So we did:

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But then that wasn’t enough–“Do something!” he said. So we did what just about everyone else around us was doing:peacesigns

And then we finally gave him what he really wanted and acted a complete and total fool:jumpIn addition to this beautiful scenery (note the peaks behind us if you can take your eyes off the two complete messes pictured above), there is also a market and a few restaurants. The market was actually one of the most unique ones I saw–not the run-of-the-mill t-shirt places we had seen elsewhere in KK.

After the vantage point, we headed to the Botanical Gardens

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These were very cool- lots of plants I had never seen before. Here it was actually really helpful to have a tour guide–Mark pointed out cool things and gave us some advice about what to eat and what to avoid if we were ever stranded in a Borneo jungle. Naked and Afraid, here we come!

Through the Botanical Gardens we went, and on to the Canopy Walk. Now, a note here: I am not really afraid of heights, but I am VERY afraid of being suspended in heights (as in: I can go to the top of tall buildings, but you won’t catch me on a tightrope between them). When I was in Ghana 5 years ago, I did the Canopy Walk and I think my heart is still recovering from INTENSE tachycardia. So I almost chickened out this time around, but then I reminded myself that I probably wouldn’t die and, if I did, it would be on an awesome trip to Malaysia with my dear brother on the island of Borneo–what a way to go! So I took a deep breath and walked across that damn thing!

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I sang “Sitaram” (that chant you hear in almost every yoga class), and took it slow. I gave zero effs when a 9-year-old behind me yelled, “What’s wrong with that lady that she can’t go any faster?” This is what I looked like after the first quarter mile:

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About half-way through, I turned around to JetSet running across that thing like it was the East River Park. Whatever–I am not afraid of bees and he is.mikewalkAfter my brush we death,  we got back on the bus and headed to Poring Hot Springs. For those who may travel to Malaysia and think these might be worth it: they are not. They’re small and gross and it’s already 100% humidity every day in Borneo–why get into more hot water? I don’t understand. Anyway, connected to the springs are lovely trails, with a 10 minute hike to a small waterfall and a 30-45 minute hike to a large one. The paths are seriously Fern Gully-esque.

ferngullyAnd at the small waterfall, there is a relaxing spa opportunity–you can put your feet in cool, refreshing water and have fish eat the dead skin off! I find these things utterly repulsive, but JetSet has always wanted to try it, so he was thrilled to find the a naturally-occuring chance. He did not report feeling like a Kardashian.

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We definitely thought this day trip was worth it–all these little stops were several miles up and down major foothills, so we wouldn’t have been able to get to all of this without renting a car. Only in Borneo were easy and organized, and Mark added some hilarity to the day, which is the added bonus of tour guides if you ask me. The lunch included was at a Chinese restaurant that wasn’t any better or worse than a sit-down Chinese place in America, but if you’re interested in healthy food I’d bring a snack. All in all- Only in Borneo’s Mt Kinabalu day trip was a good choice!

Next week: Indiana Jones-style bike trips, JetSet’s insatiable love of pork, and the time I almost cried over a big ol’ fish (provided I find the damn flash drive with all my pictures–pray for me!).

 

 

 

 

My Best Friend is a Runner’s World Celebrity!

5 Sep

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Recognize that face? That’s KMBGKef’s mug staring at you from the Runner’s World home page! Go check out the whole story about how she’s is going to run a million races in one day here.

Katie Garibaldi’s Zucchini-Carrot No-Noodle Pasta

4 Sep

Ed Note: Today we’ve got an awesome no-noodle pasta from Katie Garibaldi, a San Francisco-based singer who’s a little bit country and a little bit soul, and definitely worth checking out. She’s a healthy eater after my own heart, and I’m thrilled to feature her recipe here! For more gluten free noodle ideas, refer back to these CuK favorites: butternut squash spaghetti and protein-packed blackbean noodles.

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I’ve always considered myself a pretty health-conscious person and started experimenting with cooking more nutritious recipes that didn’t include gluten or dairy. Problem is, my husband and I love pasta. Gluten-free pasta noodles are available in the stores, but as I started eating more and more clean foods, even those began to seem heavy and unappealing. In researching healthy recipes, I stumbled upon a technique of using a vegetable peeler to peel zucchini and use those as pasta noodles. I thought it was brilliant: a pasta dish without all the heavy grains! So I experimented with different veggies and ingredients. Really, the combinations are endless. In this recipe, I use zucchini and carrots for the pasta, and mushrooms, broccoli, and tomatoes for the “meat” of the dish. The sauce is a healthy pesto sauce that’s very easy and quick to make. This dish is packed with vegetables and nutrients, and the best part is you get full without feeling heavy and bloated—just clean and satisfied.

Katie Garibaldi recently unveiled her seventh full-length release of all new compositions since her award winning Next Ride Out in 2009. Brent Black of criticaljazz.com calls Follow Your Heart, “Americana music that transcends genre and geographic location,” in his five-star review of the album. When not performing and recording, Garibaldi can be found researching and creating healthy and personalized recipes for herself and her new husband. 

 Katie’s Veggie No-Noodle Pasta

Serves 2

Ingredients

Pesto Sauce

  • 2 c cilantro
  • 2 TBS raw sunflower seeds
  • 3 TBS raw cashews
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp tamari
  • ½ c olive oil

Veggie No-Noodle Pasta (serve with pesto sauce):

  •  1 c sliced mushrooms
  • 2 c broccoli florets
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 c cherry tomatoes
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 carrots
  • Garnish: shredded cabbage

Assembly

1. To make the pesto sauce: Blend the cilantro, sunflower seeds, garlic cloves, lemon juice, and tamari in a food processor until finely chopped.  Blend in the olive oil until smooth.  Put aside until ready to serve with meal.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a non-stick baking sheet.  Put the sliced mushrooms and broccoli florets in a bowl with the olive oil and sea salt.  Toss to coat.  Transfer them to the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.  Halfway through baking time, add the cherry tomatoes.

3. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the zucchini and carrots into “pasta noodles” and put them in the same bowl you used earlier (for the mushrooms and broccoli) to coat them in the leftover olive oil.  Toss to mix up the pasta and set aside.

4. Place the pasta on two dishes and top with the roasted vegetables. Drizzle the pesto sauce on top, and garnish with shredded cabbage for added crunch. Serve and enjoy!

Raspberry FIG Challah

28 Aug

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I said pretty much all there is to say about this amazing weekend yesterday- luckily, now we have some scrum-dilly-icious bread to talk about today!

I found this delicious jam-laced challah idea over at Girl v. Dough. In addition to this amazing recipe, she is a great resource for making bread and I highly suggest you head on over there for some great tips and tricks. I followed her bread instructions exactly but subbed the jam for one without all the sugar–y’all already KNOW I think this FIG jam is the business. (Confused about the mid-sentence caps? recall this). I did a test run two weeks ago and have to admit that even I, Ms. Gluten-Free-Even-Though-I’m-Not-Allergic, ate half a loaf.

This bread is NinjaKef approved, and JetSet suggests smothering it in peanut butter. Though you should be warned that this may result in your looking like this:

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She’s normal. He ain’t. Not a lot more I can say about that.

Since I used someone else’s recipe directly I won’t commit recipe plagiarism–just go right on over here and check it out!

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Wedding Wednesday– We’re Engaged!

27 Aug engaged

Close readers may have noticed that there was no Malaysia Monday this week–and that’s because our weekly alliterative blog post has been usurped by exciting and amazing news–BFKef is now FianceKef! We are doing our happy dance, big time.

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There is so much to say, but first I have to give so many, many thanks to the love of my life for putting together such an amazing surprise. He really took the time to make a moment that was as meaningful as it was memorable. I’ve always known a life with this guy would be full of surprises–now I know just how great they will be!

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Last picture as BFKef!

One of our favorite places to relax is PurplePenKef’s country house near Charlottesville, which was formerly a one-room school house (and, thus, is known as the School House). We try to make a trek with friends every summer, and this year BFKef was especially excited about going down with a group for our anniversary weekend. MamaKef didn’t raise no fool–once BFKef started hatching this plan I pretty much knew it was also going to be our engagement weekend, but I played along and secretly planned an outfit and a hair cut for the Big Day.

Little did I know, KMBGKef was on the case. Just a few days before we left for the School House, this master of deception took me out to dinner and gave me this big speech about how she figured I was expecting the engagement to happen over the weekend, but BFKef was working on something else and so she didn’t want me to be disappointed when it didn’t happen at the School House. Since I have been waiting on pins and needles for this engagement since about our fifth date, the thought of waiting even a few more days was absolutely torturous to me. I was trying to maintain some perspective–what’s a couple days when we’re talking about the rest of our lives?–but perspective is not really my strong suit so I spent the rest of the week trying to give BFKef the stank eye only when he wasn’t looking.

We got down to the School House on Friday and had a most lovely evening–SummitKef earned her spot as the only person I will ever share a kitchen with, NinjaKef and JetSet made it down with MollyMarymountKef, and good times were had by all. Lots, lots more to say about the food and the company, but let’s stick to the task at hand, shall we? #ImEngaged

Saturday morning I woke up like a little kid the first year she finds out Santa isn’t real–hoping against hope that maybe there was still some magic to be had and that KMBGKef had just been throwing me off the scent. I wore an uncharacteristically put-together outfit just in case I was getting engaged later that day, but since I had cancelled my hair appointment I had to wear my glasses because I still only had one eyebrow. We headed out for a local winery, which I thought had been JetSet’s idea–turns out, BFKef and KMBGKef had somehow stolen a Sunday without my knowing to scope out Virginia wineries. Their little secret Sidesways trip brought us to Prince Michel, who couldn’t have been more gracious hosts.

After a tasting that was really fun–seriously, you need to try a wine that tastes like chocolate–we took a tour. I was starting to think it really was just a a nice day at the vineyard… but then I noticed the tour guide (who was hilarious) checking his phone a lot and start to stall. When he started telling us about the pallets they use to stack the boxes of wine on top of one another, I realized I was either on the strangest tour in wine’s history or maybe something was going on. We got to the “final room” of the tour and the guide made a big point of being loud and knocking on the door, so at that point I knew something was up… but all I figured was that KMBGKef had come and that she was part of the surprise engagement.

Wrong. Turns out, BFKef had gathered all of our closest friendfor the loveliest surprise of my life. It was so amazing to open that door and see BFKef’s sisters (WokeUpThisWayKef and SoulFoodChefKef) who came all the way from NY, my sister (who drove 1.5 hours to VA, then had to drive 6 hours to NY that night!), ThisIsYourLifeNowKef behind her fancy camera, and pretty much everyone else whom I love all in one room. I am not often speechless, but BFKef managed to render me so!

engagedBFKef said some lovely words about how I will be his #1 Goddess for the rest of all eternity  (well… that’s what I heard, anyway) and asked me to marry him. Of course, I said a very, very enthusiastic yes! I was so surprised and just kept looking at him and saying, “But I was so mad at you!” And then, I had to give KMBGKef a stern talking to about playing with the emotions of a nearly-engaged woman–safe to say she will pay for it in humiliatingly-shaped pasta at her bachelorette party. We got in touch with our family (even my grandfather had known before me!) and enjoyed such a special afternoon with our friends.

Obviously this is an exciting time–but none of it would be as meaningful without t the absolutely overwhelming support of our family and friends. I cannot say enough how much I appreciate each and every contribution to this amazing day–from BabyKef’s stunning decorations to the awesome playlist to all the traveling and planning, it really was the perfect afternoand I am so thankful to you all. More pictures to come once ThisIsYourLifeNowKef recovers from her own romantic weekend!

I can’t imagine I’ll post something about engaged life or the wedding every Wednesday–my friends have already provided more than enough gracious “uh-huhs” about engagements and weddings and all that for one life time — but when I have something to say, I’ll put it here. I’m excited to link up with Courtney, Jordon, Meredith, and Mary for this week’s edition of Wedding Wednesday–make sure you check them all out!

Protein-Packed Costco Meal in 10 Minutes or Less!

19 Aug

Costco- truly the land of plenty. I try to stick to one simple rule when shopping there: if we don’t already consume it in the Kef household, we don’t need to give it a whirl in bulk proportions. Seems reasonable right? Well- I broke that rule big time yesterday with the help of MarymountKef and am now the proud owner of three new pairs of running gloves (which should come in handy tonight during my 86F run), 400 thread-count sheets, and a lot of apple cinnamon chips. But the fun didn’t end there–I also bought new bean-based noodles and frozen quinoa. Why is that crazy? Well, I don’t really eat beans or quinoa, and I usually am not that into things with noodles or frozen food that isn’t ice cream. So basically, I looked at a HUGE amount of a new item and said, “Meh, I’m not really into any of the components of this, but I’ll see how I feel about 11 servings of it without so much as tasting it.” Twice. Luckily, the gamble paid off and I now have two new products worth sharing!

The first– black bean spaghetti.

mainimage__52508_1405393272_1280_1280I have no real reason for not eating beans often, but they’re not paleo and I feel way bloated after eating them, so I’ve been avoiding them. But when I saw that, unlike most gluten-free noodles, these guys have no weird stuff in them– 92% beans, 8% water–  it seemed like a thing to try.

The second–frozen quinoa and kale.

quinoakale

Note: not my nicely-manicured thumb nail.

Again–quinoa is not totally my thing for no particular reason (unless you count the destruction of Peru’s agricultural system particular), but I figured this is would be a great alternative to rice for BFKef, who can’t stand the idea of a meal without a grain. The Costco package comes with four steamable bags with 3-4 servings in each, so I am hoping BFKef will microwave one of these guys on Sundays and use it for his lunch all week. A girl can dream.

So what did I do with these the massive amount of things I don’t eat all that often? Well, I put them all together to make one huge meal, of course. And it was delicious.

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On the blog today: billions of things I don’t eat with a side of condos for sale.

This meal was laughably easy– I threw the noodles in boiling water, microwaved the quinoa/kale, and then threw in some edamame (because there wasn’t nearly enough protein already between the beans and the quinoa) to the already-boiling noodle water in the last minute or so of cooking. I added sriracha to BFKef’s and sesame oil/tamari to mine and called it a meal.

I was impressed by the texture of the noodles –they really had a spaghetti-like consistency. The quinoa and kale was YUMMY and perfectly spiced. BFKef liked it as well–the true test will be whether he makes it for himself or not.  If I ever have to buy a year’s worth of stuff I don’t eat again, I’ll start here.

 

 

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