Thoughts during a run

In honor of the Bismarck Marathon being held today, I thought this would be an appropriate post. While I am not running the full, or even half marathon, I am participating in the marathon relay on my work’s corporate team. I have been training to make sure I can complete the run, and luckily, our group is running for fun an maybe a beer afterwards to celebrate!

My husband asked me the other week if I enjoyed running. I laughed and said no. But that isn’t entirely true. I explained my thoughts during a run and in general, this happens almost every time I go on a longer run. I set up a for example time line below. I don’t know if I am the only person who thinks this way? There is a good chance I am thinking these thoughts during the marathon.

First 5-10 minutes: Oh my God. Why am I doing this? I sound like a drowning rhinoceros. My breathing is so loud. I am so out of shape. This was a bad idea. I should just turn around now. Will this ever get easier? Certainly people in the next town must hear me breathing so hard. I’ll never make it the whole hour.

15-20 minutes: OK I can breath. This isn’t bad. Heck, this is kind of easy. I got this. What was I even worried about? It’s so pretty and nice outside! The birds are so gorgeous, they are so happy and chirping so nicely. The colors outside are wonderful. I love life and fitness! This breeze feels wonderful and the temperature is just great.

30 minutes: I could probably run a half marathon if I wanted to! Wheee!!

35-40 minutes: My God my feet are hot. Why are they so hot? Ugh, I am sweating through this shirt and hat. This hill must certainly be 500 feet long and high. I’m just going to slow down for a bit. Oh my gosh I still have to turn around and get back home. I’m never going to make it. I can use my cell phone and have my husband come pick me up, right?

45 minutes: Why, no matter which way I go am I going against the wind? I didn’t even think it was windy out? It’s so windy! And it’s hot. The sun is so fiery. I’m too old for this crap. I should have tried this 20 years ago. Who am I kidding? This sucks. My knees are kind of sore. I’m old. I’m not running again after this week. Screw it.

50 minutes: OK, I am almost home/done. Thank you Jesus. I can hardly breathe. My lungs might explode? What if I have a heart attack right here on the sidewalk? I must be running a 15 minute mile at this point for sure. I hope I don’t see anyone I know. How embarrassing. Why do I do this? Why are those birds so loud? Stupid birds. I just want to get to my house and eat and shower. I hate being outside. I hate running. This is dumb.

60 minutes: Oh thank you sweet baby Jesus. I am home/done. I am so tired. I need a gallon of water now. Ugh, I am so sweaty. But I’m done. Yeah for being done and finishing and not having to quit.

65 minutes (after stretching out): Dang. That felt good. That was a good run. I feel so accomplished. I am going to eat something healthy and start planning my next run! Wheee! I love exercise, I love fitness. Let’s do this!! (At this point I totally forget all the bad things above.)

Anyone else? Just me?

Whatever your thoughts – good luck today to all runners!

Posted in Exercise, Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Misc | Leave a comment

Ham and Brie Cheese Panini

Brie cheese. I had never eaten it until I was well along into adulthood and my previous boss served some for us at work one day. What in the heck? I was missing out on this cheese for way too long! It is so creamy and delicious. It was on sale at Krause’s the other week (it’s a little spendy), so I bought a chunk and decided to make panini’s for supper.

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Crusty bread, salty ham, sweet jam, creamy cheese and a bite of tartness from balsamic vinegar and mustard – this sandwich hits all your taste buds.

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Ham and Brie Cheese Panini – for 2 sandwiches

  • 4 slices crusty bread
  • 1 tablespoon quality olive oil
  • 8 oz. lean deli ham
  • 2 oz. Brie cheese
  • 2 tablespoons jelly or jam (I used strawberry)
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon quality balsamic vinegar

Lightly brush 4 sides of your bread with olive oil. Flip over two slices and spread evenly with jelly, mustard and vinegar. Add ham and Brie cheese evenly on those slices. Place on panini maker (or make in a skillet like a grilled cheese) so olive oil sides face out. Grill until crisp. Cut in half and serve with veggies.

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Don’t skimp on the cheese!

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Or the ham for that matter. I don’t like a wimpy sandwich!

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Oh my gosh. see that drip of Brie? Yes. And I just happen to know if some of the cheese squeezes out and burns slightly on the panini maker it is also super delicious. Don’t throw it away.

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I had some leftover olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I simply boiled some carrots and then roasted them in both the oil and vinegar to get some color on them and they were so good. Just a tip for a new way to eat boring carrots.

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Enjoy!

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Browned butter butterscotch bars

Browned butter. It is glorious. It’s a perfect taste for fall. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s perfect anytime of the year. But I thought it paired well with butterscotch chips for a fall treat.

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You could certainly make these bars with chocolate chips, white chips, or any flavor of chips, really. They are versatile. They are also super easy to throw together and don’t have hardly any ingredients.

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Browned Butter Butterscotch Bars, slightly adapted from Bakerita

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar, packed (light brown sugar would work as well)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 bag (11 oz.) butterscotch chips*

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 13×9 inch pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper OR spray with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Place butter in a medium sauce pan and heat over medium heat. Butter will melt, then begin to bubble and foam. Brown specks will begin to form in the bottom of the pan, with a white foam will appear on top of the melted butter. Stir the butter very frequently to prevent burning. It should smell very nutty and the butter in the bottom of the pan should have brown flecks in it. This process takes about 2-4 minutes. Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn. Remove from the burner and transfer into a bowl and allow it to cool for a few minutes by sticking it in the fridge or freezer.
  3. Add the brown sugar to the browned butter and mix to combine. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 3 minutes to make it nice and fluffy. Add the flour and stir until just combined, taking care not to over-mix. Fold in the butterscotch chips. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it lightly with a spatula or offset knife.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the bars are set. The edges will be slightly pulling away from sides of pan. Allow bars to cool for at least 2 hours before slicing. Bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  5. * You could swap out the butterscotch chips for any other flavor.

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Beat your eggs and butter until the batter is nice and fluffy like on the left. Add your flour and don’t over mix, if anything, mix it in by hand.

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Before and after.

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I thought this view kind of shows how gooey and soft they are in the middle. The outside is crisp so you really get the best of both!

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Enjoy this treat!

Posted in Baking, Dessert | Leave a comment

DIY: Sugar free jelly, is it worth it

I can’t recall which magazine it is (Rachel Ray maybe?) but they compare two products to tell you which is worth it? For example, buying mini carrots or whole carrots and cutting them yourself depending on time, effort and cost. Well I have one of those examples for you today! I’m a nerd.

I eat peanut butter and jelly pretty much daily. Either in my yogurt or on toast or a rice cake. I just love the simplicity and classic taste. I had a container of strawberries that would go bad if they didn’t get eaten so I decided to try to make it into a jelly to see if it was worth it or not.

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On the left is my canned sugar free jelly and on the right is the Smuckers brand I typically buy at Krause’s.

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My jelly made with Jell-O turned out great. You could definitely taste the Jell-O but I wasn’t mad at that.

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Sugar free jelly

  • 1 small carton strawberries, cored and sliced ($2 IF you can find them on sale this would be the cheapest in our town usually)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 (3 oz.) package sugar free strawberry flavored Jell-O-O ($1)

Directions

In a saucepan add strawberries, water and Jell-O, mixing well. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently and slightly crush your berries with the back of your spatula. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes.

Pour into jar(s), allow to cool and then cover. Store in refrigerator.

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The jelly turned out just fine. You can see it firmed up thanks to the Jell-O. Of course, the true taste of the strawberries was masked by the Jell-O somewhat. On the other hand, the sugar free jelly is also masked a bit by other ingredients.

My verdict? Buy the sugar free jelly. The jelly is usually right around $3+ for a jar. The same amount could be spent on the homemade version, but you must invest your time. Unless your berries are about to go bad and you don’t even want to freeze them I think buying is the better economic value here.

Posted in Feisty Eats, Informational, Sides | Leave a comment

Pasta and Bean Soup

Well, sadly it is that time of year again. Instead of plates full of fresh garden vegetables and salads, we are starting to have pots full of warm soups using our (freshly) canned vegetables. Fall is making its arrival.

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I like cooking and baking – cooking is nice because you can throw things together and anything goes. A little of this, a little of that. Add or remove what floats your boat. Baking is more of a science and you can’t fiddle too much with the ingredients and proportions. Sometimes it is nice not to think too much and during those times, I cook.

This soup is easy, comes together in under a half hour and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand / in your pantry. I saw a recipe on the back of the pasta box and just adapted it to what I had available and what our tastes are.

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Pasta & Bean Soup – makes about 10 cups – adapted from the recipe on the back of the Essential Everyday pasta box

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. ground meat (I used spicy Italian pork sausage but you could use elk, beef, turkey or chicken easily)
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14 ounce) can beef broth (use chicken if you use ground turkey or chicken meat)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can water (just use the beef broth can filled with water)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans of tomatoes (any variety, I used an Italian diced tomatoes and red pepper tomatoes)
  • 2 cups small pasta shells (or other variety)
  • 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt

DIRECTIONS

  • In large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat, brown meat. Drain and set aside. Leave a bit of fat in the pan and sauté your onion and garlic until they slightly brown.
  • Add beef broth, water, beans, tomatoes and seasonings. Cook until it starts to boil. Add pasta and cook until pasta is al dente (about 10 minutes).
  • Serve!

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This will freeze well. Remember the noodles will soak up a lot of your wet mixture so if you like more runny soup, add more water or broth. Enjoy!

Posted in Main Dish, Soup | 2 Comments

Southern Hills Sprint Triathlon, 2014

Ah! I did it! I am a sprint triathlete! I want to recap this day so I can remember it forever. Lots of pictures and thoughts to follow! I swam 0.5 mile, biked 12 miles and ran 3.1 miles.

the medal.

Below is the view I woke up to on the morning of Saturday, August 30, 2014 in Hot Springs, SD – 10 miles from the beautiful Angostura Reservoir. I stayed at the Super 8 (very reasonable rates) hotel in Hot Springs so I could get up early and participate in the 17th Annual Southern Hills Triathlon. The triathlon benefits the Hot Springs library in the gorgeous southern Black Hills of South Dakota.

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I had decided a few months back to challenge myself and train for a sprint tri. I was scared and nervous. I looked online to see races and was disappointed in the time frame that those closest to me in proximity would not work for one reason or another. Also, ND is very limited on these races to begin with. I found this race scheduled for the long weekend of Labor Day and it seemed to be a perfect fit. I emailed the race director and got a quick response saying this isn’t a large race and that also set me at ease. I would HIGHLY recommend this race to anyone, especially a newbie.

I completed a 12-week training plan for the sprint using a combo of plans I found online and tips from a friend/trainer, Melissa. I went into this not knowing how to swim. I mean, I could swim for fun and tread water, but I didn’t know how to competitively swim. I took one lesson, but I basically taught myself by watching a couple YouTube videos and practicing. I was horrible to start and have PLENTY of room to improve. Swimming isn’t necessarily physically hard, but it is mentally difficult and a challenge to get the breathing down. Sticking your full face in water is just not a first instinct.

I did every training session and also threw in T25 for cross training. I swam, biked and ran in rain, wind, cold, humidity and heat. Most of my training was done before work and swimming done after. I had a lot of 2 a days training sessions. I swam in Beulah, Center and Hazen pools. I incorporated some open water swims as Lake Sakakawea warmed up. I biked hundreds of miles and ran more than I ever have in my life.

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There are obviously factors in a race you can’t control such as weather and just having an off or bad day. (I still stalked the online weather report, ha.) But I did take control of my nutrition. We took Friday off of work and I packed my 3 meals, 2 snacks and breakfast for the next day. I loaded up on water to stay hydrated. I ate the way I usually did with some extra healthy carbs. I took a cooler with and made sure the Super 8 had a fridge and microwave. Easy enough. I ate foods I normally would and knew agreed with my stomach. I practiced eating prior to doing brick workouts (bike and then run immediately after) and knew what worked for me. Any athlete knows you don’t want any bathroom issues while you are in a swimsuit, on a bike in BFE or running on a trail. Yikes! I’m happy to say this was a great breakfast/did the trick.

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I was lucky enough that I had my family traveling with and supporting me. I can’t tell you how happy I was to have their enthusiasm and help.

  • Dad – chief driver and seated cheerleader! And he even wasn’t feeling well.
  • Mom – by my side the whole time. Would have strapped my helmet on if they allowed her in the athlete transition area. Excellent cheers from this one!
  • Sister – huge support and cheerleader. Always giving me positive feedback and encouragement. Chief photographer and beer drinking partner.
  • Brother – quiet but fierce. Lifted my bike in and out numerous times and helped me with food and water.

I had a room to myself the night before the race so I could sleep well. While they all went out to eat, I stayed back with my packed dinner and laid out all my race items. There is a lot you need to have for a tri. Oh, and tried on my race shirt. I EARNED that and I will wear it until it falls apart. I love it!

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Friday night in Hot Springs you could go pick up your packet (your race number, timing chip to wear on your ankle, complimentary long sleeve race tech T, pasta dinner ticket – I skipped that to eat my own food, and info on Hot Springs). You could alternately pick up your packet at 6am at Angostura Reservoir the day of the race.

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Here I am, loaded up and ready to leave. The lake was about 10 minutes south of Hot Springs. We had driven there the night before to scope out the lay of the land as I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was very beautiful and I would say similar in landscape to areas around Lake Sakakawea. Hilly and scenic. Angostura is a state resort so we had to pay a $6 fee per vehicle when entering the park. If you are a camper, definitely check this place out. It is gorgeous. The weather was chilly but promised to warm up quickly that day with a high reaching 90 degrees and little to no wind. I can’t tell you how lucky I felt to have a perfect weather day!

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We could rack our bikes anywhere we wanted. I basically checked how others were setting up and did the same. You need your bike on the rack so you can take off quickly after the swim. You also lay out your biking helmet, sunglasses, clothes, shoes, etc. for everything you will need after your swim. I felt a bit shy as most people had road (faster and lighter) bikes and I have a hybrid. I knew going in I wouldn’t have the fanciest equipment and that was OK with me. You don’t need a road bike, clip-in shoes, Under Armour clothes, etc. You just need determination, a swimsuit (mine was $30), a bike and some good running shoes.

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There was a hand drawn map showing where we went. Besides the sprint tri, there was also an Olympic tri, kids tri, duathlon and relay races.

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Welp! This just got real. I was going to do this. My sister took most of these photos along with my Mom. Thank you both so much as the morning was a blur to me. Adrenaline was kicking in!

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My sister took a picture of the ambulance in case I had to leave in this. LOL! Luckily, I did not and I don’t think anyone else did either.

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I got my legs markered. We got our age and the “s” for sprint tri. We had an athlete meeting at 7am explaining the course and a few other fun facts.

  • The youngest youth participant was 6 years old!
  • The oldest was 70 years old!
  • There was a racer from Louisiana! Along with other states, there were 4 from North Dakota.
  • There is one lady (Barb who answered my emails) who has participated in all 17 triathlon events!
  • They also spoke a lot about the library and how heavily it is used which was pretty cool for a more rural type area.
  • Just looking at the racers it was awesome to see there was every age and shape out there ready to give it their all.

checking out the swim path

This is the face of a very nervous woman!!

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How beautiful is the lake? Also, the beach was fantastic. Super sandy! The water temp was about 74 degrees which felt wonderful.

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There I am in the red/black swimsuit. The Olympic race started at 7:30am and the Sprint at 8 am. The clock started only once so when I would finish I just needed to take 1/2 hour off of my race time to figure out roughly where I was at. Which reminds me…

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These are my handwritten goals for the race. I had read you should have different levels of goals starting with more general to more specific.

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I was one of the only sprint racers on the beach watching the Olympic racers take off. They went 2 laps for a total of 1 mile, while us Sprint group only had 1 lap. I wanted to see how it went since I have never seen a race like this in person. I actually have never even participated in a race other than walking a few local 5k’s! It was reassuring they had boats, kayakers and paddle boarders around the course in case you needed a break or some help.

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Now I wait for 1/2 hour until my race started. It took forever. I was cold but after the Olympic group took off I went in the lake to get used to it and swam a couple strokes. Also, I racked my bike next to a really nice gal (I wish I got her name) and she gave me some excellent pointers about the swim and a particularly vicious hill on the bike. Thank you! What nice people! The race volunteers were also very helpful and generous in visiting with me.

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“Warming” up in the lake. It was warmer in there and I may have also had to pee. No one will ever know. You can see I am one of very few who has a swimsuit on and not a wet suit. I ran out of time to try one and I was used to my suit so I stuck with that option.

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Since I have never swam with anyone, let alone in a group, I decided to line up on the far left outside to give myself space.

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Here I am leaving the swimming area after I knew I could touch and take off my swim cap and goggles. I was one of the last to finish. I asked my Mom if I was THE last and she said no. I was a bit disappointed to be so far towards the back of the pack, but also super proud I never had to stop to hang on to a kayak or buoy. The scariest part of this swim was the other people and just the panic/adrenaline. I wasn’t scared at all of lake monsters or fish like when I swam in Sakakawea. I just wanted to finish!

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In a slightly cruel twist, we had to run through the cold, wet sand up a small hill to the transition area to get ready to bike.

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At this point, I headed to put on my clothes, socks, shoes, helmet and sunglasses to go BIKING! We had to run our bikes out to the road before we could mount them.

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This was an out and back ride. We rode 6 miles out of the park and then turned around to where we started before our run. I was giving it all on my bike as I was short on breath and when I glanced at my watch I saw my heart rate was quite high. I didn’t want to burn my legs out too bad but racing in a pack really makes you push yourself!! We had to ride over a few cattle guards (no biggie) and cross a major road. The local Fire Dept. was helping so I didn’t have to stop for any reason.

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Here I am returning from my ride. I was very happy with my performance and I am certain it was my fastest personal time for a 12 mile ride.

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Next was the run. I just had to park my bike and remove my helmet and stuck a piece of gum in my mouth to get some saliva flowing.

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The only thing I could do was be alone with my thoughts during the run. I immediately said – don’t walk! I also wanted to keep it under 30 minutes and that would get me at my goal. Well, about 2 minutes into the run I came to a big hill. I did end up walking for about 20 seconds. Luckily, I saw so many people on the trail saying good job or running, I felt motivated to run.

I was pretty undertrained for the hills I encountered on the run. Especially after biking, they were a challenge. I ended up walking two more times but probably only for about 10 seconds each. I really wanted to meet my goal of 1 hour 45 minutes and waffled between it would happen to it will never happen. I just wanted to be proud and finish strong. I thought about all my training, all I had been through in my weight loss and fitness journey and the support of my family here with me as well as from my husband. (He was in Las Vegas with his nephew so couldn’t be with us at the race.)

The hills were tough, the sun was beating down and I was dripping sweat. I came upon a water station and knew I was really close to the finish. (I never took in any water or fuel during the race as I never do when I train at home but they had a lot of well planned areas for that.)

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Sure enough, turn the corner and there was the finish!! I was momentarily confused as to where to run since the kids were going down to the start of their tri but quickly figured it out. Here I come! Look at my smile – so happy!!

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The clock said 2 hr 15 minutes so I had to be close to my goal!!

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This is the face of a tired sprint triathlete! I totally cried at the end. It was just very emotional to complete what I worked so hard for and to be greeted by my cheering family! Only a few tears slipped out though.

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Posing by the finish line after I got my medal!

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I love this photo with my Mom! I was drawn for a door prize where I could pick a book or old race T shirt. I let her pick this t shirt. I am sure that is enough payback for all of her help and support and taking me 6 hours for a race, right? LOL! I wish I would have gotten a photo with everyone but some of my family members refuse a photo.

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And here I am with a plate full of food afterwards. I felt super hungry during the bike but really full during the run? I had almost a dull stitch in my stomach during the run? Something I never experienced before. I wasn’t sure if I was hungry but loaded up my plate with 1/2 a PB&J sammy, cantaloupe, watermelon and some homemade desserts. The cantaloupe was the best ever. My brother bought me a water back in town and I drank that plus a gallon of water to rehydrate. I was thirsty.

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This is what my heart rate monitor read. On another screen it shows my average heart rate of 162. Which is super high! Again – nerves, adrenaline and pushing myself all contributed. I did my best throughout the day to replenish with beer, nachos and pizza!

This is one of my biggest and greatest achievements. I’ve already been asked if I’ll do it again. I don’t know yet. I want to beat my time as I am competitive like that and I really need to improve in the swim but we will see what the winter brings. I would love a road bike but these things cost money.

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My goal of finishing came true. My experience of being with my family for the event is something I’ll never forget. Thank you family for being there for me!

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I realize my finish time is hard to read. The link to the results is here. I was 5th out of 9 in my age group. My swim was 27 minutes 35 seconds (just horrible, so much room for improvement here but still glad I did it), my bike was 46 minutes and 27 seconds (I’m happy with that on my bike) and my run was 28 minutes and 35 seconds (I need to train for hills a bit more to get that down somewhat but I’m ok with that time). My transitions were OK considering I didn’t really know what I was doing, ha!

I have been busted saying I “only” completed a sprint triathlon. I’m changing my tune though. I COMPLETED A SPRINT TRIATHLON and I am so proud! My official time was 1 hr 45 mins, 37 seconds. Close enough to say I reached all my goals, far enough away to want to improve next year…maybe? TBD!

I need to end this a bit sappy and thank Mark. I know he wanted to be there but had other obligations. He put up with me being tired, hungry, crying, doubting myself, complaining, and sweaty. So sweaty. He took me swimming, he told me to keep going and get out there and do what I needed to do. I could not have done it without his support. We have a lot of different interests and do a lot of things separately but we support each other and his help means the world to me.

Posted in Exercise, Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Misc | 6 Comments

Dinner at Riverbound Farm

On Saturday, August 16th I attended Dinner at Riverbound Farms south of Mandan. This was the 2nd annual event where local harvest is celebrated at dinner featuring vegetables and herbs from Riverbound Farms and local meats from Cloverdale and Brown’s Ranch. Featured food also included sorbetti from Fireflour Pizza and honey from TJO Bees. The meal was prepared by Beth Schatz Kaylor who writes the Rhubarb and Venison blog. Beth is also a freelance food and travel writer and is a complete sweetheart in person and on her blog. She focuses on cooking and eating fresh produce and free-range meat.

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Tickets for this event went on sale about a month or so prior to the event. I saw they opened on my Twitter feed and I immediately asked my husband if he would like to attend. I pressed him for an answer as I thought the tickets might sell out fast. They were $55 each and participation was capped at about 50 attendees. He agreed to go and luckily we got two tickets in time as they were sold out that day.

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This particular Saturday started out with very heavy rain. I was concerned we’d be eating in a swampy field as the rain did not let up for most of the day. Wouldn’t you know it that at about 5pm the weather started to clear. The event started at 6pm and by then the grass at the farm was dry, the sun was warm through the clouds and there was a gentle breeze to keep away most of the mosquitos. We truly lucked out and I imagine Chef Beth had plenty of concerns. She prepared all of the food out of a food truck and everything was expertly served by volunteers.

We were given directions to Riverbound Farm, which is located about 12 miles south of Mandan off of Hwy 6, near the Missouri River. The farm is operated by Brian and Angie McGinness. They grow organic vegetables and emphasize sustainability and community. They offer CSA shares to the community for a fee and raise: broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach, peas, radishes, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, watermelon, cantaloupe, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cucumber, green beans and gorgeous flowers just to mention a few.

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Veggies for days!

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The farm was easy to find and we arrived at just after 6 o’clock. We were instructed where to park and then came in under a wooden shelter where there were appetizers of caprese sticks with a mild cheese and fresh veggies with dip. You could help yourself to lemon infused ice water. I checked in with a host who checked us off the list and we waited for the horse wagon to come back to escort us to where we’d eat. The appetizers were perfectly sized and refreshing. I wish I knew what the dip was – it had some strong flavors and I enjoyed it.

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Shortly, the horses came back and we enjoyed the quick trip past fields of flowers and vegetables. We arrived to the dinner area. There were two large tents – one had more appetizers and drinks and the other has our dinner table seats. Everything was decorated simply, but beautifully. I’d say it was country chic.

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I always love drinking out of a mason jar!

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Cute, right?

Buffalo Commons Brewing had beer available – either the lager or a brown ale. You were also welcome to ice tea or lemonade. The appetizers here were Dot’s Pretzels (those are addicting!), cherry tomatoes, a lovely mild cheese and crackers. Another table offered a chilled borscht shooter. I could taste cucumber in it and it was garnished with dill. I’ll say this wasn’t my favorite as I’m not a huge beet fan, but it did prove to be a good palate cleanser prior to our seated dinner.

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I found after the fact these cheese was cheese curds from Bessy’s Best, by Sterling, ND.

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Borscht shooters garnished with dill.

During the social time, music was played by local musician Jessie Veeder and she was accompanied by a gentleman playing guitar and harmonica. She looked perfectly at home in her cowboy boots with the gorgeous rugged scenery and John Deere tractor in the background. Chef Beth came out briefly to tell us what would be served and we all sat down family style at two long tables.

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We were instructed to take a seat and dinner would be served. The first course was a summer corn chowder topped with Cloverdale Foods maple Sriracha spiced bacon. The corn chowder was creamy, sweet from the corn and studded nicely with potatoes and zucchini (I believe). The star for most at our table was the spiced bacon. It was a wonderful mix of sweet from the maple and spice from the Sriracha. I loved this dish. There was a bread basket on the table and I sopped up the last of the creaminess with a bread crust. The volunteers were quick to serve each of us and pick up our dishes. You could have a red or white wine if you wished.

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The second course was lighter on the palate and was a sweet and sour cucumber salad with red onion and dill. This was such a simple dish and I loved it. It really allowed the vegetables and spices to shine. I love cucumbers! This was cold and refreshing. I could have eaten 10 of these plates.

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The third and main course was beef brisket, green beans, cornbread muffin and German potato salad. The highlights on this plate for me were the green beans and potato salad. Again, they are simple dishes that allow the vegetables to shine. German potato salad is dressed with vinegar and oil and is a wonderful change from the heavy mayo based recipes typically served. The potato salad included onion, pickles, bacon and mustard I believe. Wonderful. The beef brisket was from Brown’s Ranch in nearly Bismarck. We were actually seated near one of the men who raised the beef. I must say that beef brisket is not my favorite cut of meat. It would be one of the last items I would ever order on my own. However, I did love how this was seasoned.

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To end the meal we were treated to sorbet from Fireflour Pizza in Bismarck. We had a scoop each of raspberry and lemon. The lemon was my absolute favorite. It was tart and refreshing. The sorbet was served with a TJO Bees honey shortbread which was perfectly crisp and not too sweet. TJO Bees is based out of SW ND with bee yards in Grant and Morton county. Their honey comes from sweet clover, alfalfa and wildflowers that are predominant in SW ND. It is always bottle pure, raw and unfiltered according to their website. I considered licking my bowl but (barely) refrained myself.

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While we enjoyed our meal, we were treated to music by a small band of which one of the musicians was Ryan McGinness himself. They played a nice variety of music and I only wish it were a bit louder. Thank you to the McGinness’ for opening their land and home to us. What beautiful views we were treated to.

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Can I have dinner like this every weekend please?

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I’m so happy we snagged tickets to this event. I was able to meet a social media friend in person and it is neat to connect with someone after only seeing their picture. Hello Michelle if you are reading! I do believe most of the people we were seated around were very happy with their meals. I heard several people wanting recipes and wanting to sign up to attend next year. Chef Beth came out at the end to greet everyone and she was met with gracious applause by people with full bellies.

The only thing I would have changed is it would have been nice to have a printed menu. I found after the fact that there was meant to be one but some error led to it not being available. I also would have loved to hear more about how the food was sourced, where it was all from and even have Ryan and Angie speak some on their farm and what they do. I think it would be a great opportunity to share more about their farm. But those are minor changes and overall I was so happy to attend. We made friends with the couple across from us and it was wonderful to spend time like this with my husband since we are always on the run. I love food – I adore good food!

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Hopefully there will be another event in 2015 we can attend!

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