I am an adventure seeking wife and mother first! Travel, and endorphins are my best friends. I will try anything once, unless I know
I would be in danger. I have a crazy love of God, running, triathlon, the outdoors, dirt, wine, friends, good Vegan food, Yoga,
animals, happiness, and life! I truly believe the only limits in life are the ones set by ourselves. So get out there and expand the limits!!
~~Only she who attempts the absurd can achieve the impossible.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

Food has always been one of my favorite things.  If I were Oprah, and had a “Favorite Things” show, it would be all food…. and well running shoes, Tri bikes, wet suits, pull buoys, compressions socks…Ok, I digress.  Anyway, imagine how thrilled I was when I found out that our friends in Canada had planned for us to have a Vegan cook come to their house, and do a cooking class for us.  I always love finding new recipes, trying new foods, and learning how to cook amazing Vegan spreads like the one we made today.
Our friend Shannon met this AMAZING lady at the market who does these cooking classes.  All fresh, organic, Vegan meals.  She came in with her bags and bins full of various spices, veggies, fruits, noodles, tofu, oils and mortar and pestle.  Each of us had a job to do.  I loved that our kids got into it.  Mariah sat for an hour, and crushed/grinded all of the spices we would be using with the mortar and pestle. White peppercorns, coriander, black peppercorns, cardamom, shallots, garlic, and chills, to name a few.  Greg, Shannon and Ellie cut, peeled and chopped veggies, squashes etc.  I made a beautiful Tamarind sauce.  Every one of us, being “coached” by this wonderful lady named Aja.  She talked to us about each ingredient, and why it was going into the meal.  Talked about being Vegan (I loved her) talked about her 2-½ years that she lived in Tonga.  What an amazing woman. 
Our kitchen smelled like a gourmet restaurant. 
We prepared and ate each of the courses separate, which made it easier for us with the cooking.  We could prepare one thing, and eat, while something else was cooking.  Our first course: Butternut Squash Coconut Chowder.  Oh man, this chowder was to absolutely die for.  Great texture and colour. And the Yellow Curry Paste that Mariah had prepared to put in it was outrageously delish.  We topped the chowder with fresh basil, and lime, which really brought out the flavour. 

 Mariah grinding all of the spices.
Everyone taking their turns at some cooking.

Second course: Peppercorn Tofu Shitake Rice Paper Salad Rolls.  I think anything with Shitake mushrooms (or ANY mushroom) in it is outstanding, so this, I was VERY excited about.  This had grated cabbage, tofu that had been coated in sesame oil, and white peppercorns, sesame seeds, the shitakes…. my mouth is watering again.  The kids really got into this one.  We took our hard rice papers, and dredged them through the warm water to get them pliable.  They were super thin, and see through, but amazing tough.  We put in the ingredients one by one, topped with mint leaves, and rolled them up.  They were gorgeous in colour, and taste.  We made a Sweet and Sour Chili dipping sauce for them.  MMMMmm!

 Check out that colour

Our main course; Vegan Pad Thai with the Tamarind Sauce.  I love Pad Thai, but have never made it on my own.  It was so good, so fresh, like no other Pad Thai I have ever had…. and trust me, I have had a lot since Thai food is one of my faves!

We sat and savored the Pad Thai, learning more about our gracious teacher/chef, Aja.  Her and I talked “all Vegan” and will be keeping in touch to swap recipes.  She was a wealth of knowledge since she has been Vegan for 22-some years.  WOW!!  For someone like me, new to Veganism, going into my 4th year, I sat and listened to every word that came out of her mouth.  This woman and her stories fascinated me.  We laughed, drank wine, and talked about gardening, processed foods (BAD), composting and her travels.  And then came time for dessert.  OH MAN!!
Dessert: Baked Caramel Coconut Bananas with Local Pears.  And yes…STOP, before any of you jump in and say, “Caramel is not Vegan!!!” we caramelized using organic coconut oil, lime and cane sugar.  Another side note…I love bananas, plantains, etc, and have had them cooked in various ways as well…. this dessert, well, lets just say, STICK A FORK IN ME…. and topped with coconut that we toasted was so delicious, and decadent.  The entire experience, and meal was so great!!  I cannot wait to recreate this wonderful meal in my own kitchen.
The rest of our time spent in Canada involved a lot of wonderful wines, a FEAST on Thanksgiving (even though it was not their Thanksgiving in Canada), game playing, watching Shannon curling and just enjoying our time with our great friends.  It was unusual to spend Thanksgiving there.  With the craziness on Thanksgiving in the States, Black Friday sales, and just the rushing around, I feel a lot of Thanksgiving is lost to us back home.  Too much goes into “getting the best sales” and not enough into being thankful for our family and friends this time of year.  I feel Thanksgiving is rushed through to get to the sales, chaos, and un-merriment of Black Friday.  So it was truly a gift to spend our time out of the US, where it was simply a “good time, good food, and good friends kind of day”.  There was no anxious alarm clock setting to be at the doors to shop at 3am….just the quiet, peacefulness of a beautiful Thanksgiving.  Slowing our family down to realize how blessed we really are with the simple things in life.
 Of course we HAD to go to Salty's while we were there.

 Shannon curling (as much as I wanted to understand this sport....I just couldn't get it)

A huge THANK YOU, goes out to our awesome life long friends and house host in Canada; The Burton Family.  You are family to us and we all enjoy every second that we get to spend with you all.

And a huge shout out to Aja Jackson of Earthaja. (www.earthaja.ca)   You were a joy to meet, and learn from.  Thank you for all of your wisdom.  You will come highly recommended.  Your cooking skills, and food selection was to die for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A New Start

Kinda seems like this fall I fell off of the planet.  With the business of our summer, fall came in, all slow, and tired-like.  Resting its lazy head on my lap, and saying, “Let’s take some time to chill.” 
And I did just that.  Had some great down time.  Ran when I felt like it.  A lot of days with no route in mind, no Garmin to track my mileage.  Just me, my Vibrams, and the road.  Biking the same way.  No agenda really, just enjoying some time to tootle (yes, I said tootle) around with nowhere specific to go, no time to beat.  It was great!  I loved having the time to acclimate my feet to running in my Five-Fingers.  And even though I was used to running in my Newton’s, which seemed pretty minimalist, I love the way my feet feel on the ground in the 5-Fingers.  I was also happy to have the opportunity to try on all the different varieties of the shoe, as the ones I thought I might have wanted ended up not being the ones that felt the best to me.  As for running a marathon in them, we will see.  I am up to about 8 miles in them before I switch out for my Newton’s if I am running longer.  I swore I would never run in anything other than Newton, but the Vibrams are giving them a run for their money!!

I just came off a detox cleanse last week…boy was that something. 
    A few days of fasting, so to say, clearing out my mind and body.  I was thankful for real food come the 5th day!!  I am re-committed to my Vegan diet, and clean eating.  Ready to try some great new recipes. Also ready to get back into the “swing of things” as far as my training.
I sat down over the last weekend going over races, and schedules, and am finalizing my races for the next year.  It will be a lot of fun for me this coming year, with Greg deciding to jump in the ring, and start racing as well.  His new Tri bike has been ordered and is on its way.  We should be receiving it into the bike shop within the next 2-3 weeks.  WooHoo for the Hub’s!  I am REALLY hoping that the snow doesn’t hit before he and I can get in at least ONE ride after he gets it. Fingers crossed!!
I am still contemplating racing IMCdA again in 2011, among the other races already spreading their fingers over my Spring/Summer/Fall 2011 calendar.  Guess I will have to make up my mind here pretty soon.  Keep ya posted!
Training officially starts back up today, and I am excited to be working with 2 new swim coaches.  One who just finished the Ironman World Championship in Kona last month with an awesome 9:48 finish! Two days a week, at 6am!  That’s something I will be getting used to.  6am workouts in the winter!  Summer great!  But something about getting out of my warm bed, pulling myself from under my down comforter and into a cold pool at 6am in the morning is just frightful to me.  BRRRRR!   Especially since the snow will be flying soon.  I have always had the luxury of getting in my workouts on my own time, any time of the day, but I am dedicated to my new workout time….at least 2 days a week for swimming.  The biking and running…maybe not so early!
So my few weeks of laziness will now come to an end as I hit the road again.  Back in the saddle.  It will feel good, and as much as I enjoyed some time off, I am even more-so looking forward to training again.  Once again pushing to see where my body can take me in the year to come!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Falling in love, with Fall

Love, Love this time of year!  All of the seasons of living in Northern Idaho are spectacular, and as you know, I am a “sun and “summer” girl, but I love the Fall.  Something about it.  The way the mornings and evenings are cool and crisp.  You wake up and it’s a little dark, and you head out the door for a run, and can see your breath as the sun is rising.  The way things look.  That haze over the mountains, the gorgeous burnt red sunsets, and the way everything smells damp, and earthy.
We have had a fun and full summer.  A lot of racing and a lot of fun times with our family and friends.  Fall is my time to wind down.  Relax.  Possibly run a fall marathon.  It’s time for baking, apple picking, Crockpot cooking, and reading.  Devouring book after book, until training picks up in a couple of months again.  Taking in some quiet time.
Saturday, we had made plans for an “end of the summer” climb up Schweitzer Mountain, from Sandpoint.  The day was breathtaking.  We all met, and made the caravan drive up to Sandpoint.  The girls and I were feeling a little wishy-washy, and the thought crossed our minds to let the guys go be guys, and we could spend the day shopping in Sandpoint, one of our favorite little towns to the North.  As we drove up, we made plans, checking out the little shops as we drove through town.  We got to where we were starting, and we changed into our biking gear.  MAYBE, we will climb a few miles, and head back down for some shopping and lunch.  The guys were ready to go!!  Dennis, Randy, Corey and Greg took off, letting us know that they were going to head up, stop in at Mojo Coyote, have a beverage, and head back down. 

We had cell phones and they would call when they were back down, and we could all meet back up.  Us girls….we took our time.  OK, just a couple of miles.  We started our climb, talking away in our own little world.  Then getting a little more breathless as the miles went on.  We pulled off a few times to giggle, and look at the gorgeous fall colors, feel the breeze coming off of the mountain, and then we would jump back on our bikes, and keep going.  Each time we stopped we would say, “Up or Down?” “Yup, ok UP!”  The climb was amazing.  Steep in some parts, with long, windy, switchbacks.  The views were breathtaking.  The day, perfect blue sky.  You could see forever.  Easily into Montana and Canada (Hello, Canadian friends)

I love when you make this kind of voyage with friends.  Laughing, sweating, stopping to listen to our echoes across the mountains, talking about everything under the sun, taking in every ounce of the short days of fall.  They make the climb that much easier.  Such as life, I suppose.  Those handful of people that make the days easy, light, and full of joy…Yup, that’s my friends.  Making you a better person by being around them.  Pushing you, encouraging you,  even up mountains, that you didn't think you could make to the top.

Michelle and Brenda

Michelle and I

Bren and I

We stopped at what we thought would be our turning around point.  Took some great pictures, and goofed around.  Until we heard growling in the bushes.  Bear?  Mt Lion?  We didn’t wait to find out.  “Up or Down?”  “Yup, ok UP!”  We made our way to the last part of the climb.  We knew we were almost there.  We had about ½ mile left, and around the corner came all of our guys.  Happy to see us.  Whooping it up, that we made it!!  They turned around, because even thought we only had a ½ mile to go, some of us have personalities (ok, me) that would have not been ok, not making the last little way.  Up we went, all of us, the last ½ mile.  What an amazing day!!!  The perfect ending to the perfect summer. Bikes, beers, friends, and mountains, sprinkled with alot of laughter!

Getting close to the top!

We made it!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Spokane to Sandpoint Relay

What do you get when you mix 12 fun-loving runners, a couple of vehicles, and 185 miles?  The Spokane to Sandpoint relay!!

The morning was a bit chilly as we got to the start at Mt. Spokane (Washington)  we were all excited, decorating our cars, some of the runners putting on their costumes for the costume contest.  I was my 1st year to run this race with Team Happy Feet-it's 5 o'clock Somewhere, but their 3rd time racing.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect.
Each of the 12 runners runs 3 legs that vary in distance.  You hand off at exchanges, and continue running (yes even through the night) until you reach the finish in Sandpoint, Idaho.
Our "flight time"was 7am, and Elizabeth took off in her Lady GaGa-esque pink wig for the first leg.  We quickly left in our cars for the 1st exchange.  Where Matt was waiting.  And so the race began.  Leap frogging from runner to exchange.  Each runner has an opportunity to run anywhere from 4-7 miles per leg.

Elizabeth ready to run in her pink wig!


Yes, Matt ran his whole leg in this!

Nice Buns Runner!!

Michelle and Brian

We each were handed off a slap bracelet when it was our turn to run.  The tricky part was to try and find time to sleep and eat while you weren't running.  Which proved a little more difficult than we thought.  I was anxious for my first run.  I would be running along the river, through Spokane, WA.  As I waited for my hand off from Greg, I was thinking how hot it was.  My 1st leg was gorgeous.  Along the Centennial Trail and the river.  It was hot as heck.  Greg, Michelle, and Brenda (who had already ran) were waiting along the course for me.  It's nice to have your support vehicle along the way.  They got out, and Greg splashed me with about 32oz of water.  It felt amazing!  They cheered me through, and took off for the exchange.  First leg 5.58 45 min.  I handed off to Brent, and off went our last runner. 

Karen after her awesome TT.

Michelle coming in to hand to Brenda

Our fearless leader, Brenda...isn't she the cutest!!

...and off goes Greg!

Hot as HECK!!!

Go Brent, GO!!!

 We were almost through an entire loop of runners.  
Our car headed off to see one last exchange as we passed into Idaho, and off to Subway and to try and sleep.  We made it to a pit-stop at Michelle's and pulled out our sleeping bags, sprawled on the front lawn, and slept.  I am sure her neighbors thought we had gone mad.  Middle of the afternoon, sleeping on the lawn.  But ya gotta do, what ya gotta do.
We got up and made it to our next exchanges, watched and cheered our runners, and headed out for our night portion.  It's funny how you just lose all track of time.  
I was nervous about running at night.  Not just at night, but the middle of the night, and in the middle of NOWHERE, Idaho.    Michelle would run 1st (from our car) and she had to have a light up costume.  Can you say...GLO-STICKS!!  We had hundreds.  She left her exchange in Coeur d'Alene Park, all hopped up on 5-hour Energy, and glowing so they could see her from space!!

Runners catching some sleep in CdA City Park

Michelle glowing and on 5-hour Energy!

The night runs all went well.  When it was finally my turn, what I thought would be nerves, turned into my favorite run of the course.  I was cool, and dark and peaceful.  Ok, I was a tad freaked out by the howling coyotes that seemed to be right off of the road in the bushes.  I ran in complete darkness, with only my headlamp leading the way, and saw one other person (who I passed) in all 5.2 miles. During our  night portions, we decided to not drive straight to the exchange but try and leap frog our runners.  Drive ahead mile by mile, until the runner would catch up.  It was fun hearing all of the cheering along the way from support vehicles heading towards the exchange.
  When I got back to the car, we were EXCITED....only Brent to run, and we would ALL meet him at Silverwood for a midnight roller coaster ride.  Our entire team was at this check point.  We waited.  He came running in, and we all ran to the coaster.  What a blast!  I am a roller coaster freak, and to do this mid-race, with a bunch of friends, at 12:30am, in the dark, was extraordinary!!  We were screaming, and laughing, and pumped up!!  Off the coaster, and the fun started again with Runner #1.  Off Elizabeth went, into the cool night!!
Our car took this opportunity to drive ahead and get some sleep.  HA!!  We found a great spot at an elementary school, in the middle of nowhere (again) Tired, we pulled out our Therma-Rests and sleeping bags and literally fell onto the front lawn of this school.  Sleep.  About 2 hours into a fitful rest, the sprinklers popped on.  At this point we were so tired, almost delirious, we took a few minutes trying to figure out what was happening.  Water hitting our faces, we looked at one another, and then popped up out of our bags for the mad dash to the side walk.  Drunkenly, sleep-deprived, we stood in the cold, dripping wet, watching the sprinklers for a few minutes. Looking down at our wet gear, not quite sure what to do.  This was by far the worst part of the race for me.  I was so tired.  Almost sick.  Greg grabbed our gear, through it, wet into our Rocket Box on top of the car and we climbed back into our Suburban.  I put my feet on the dash and fell asleep, wanting to cry.  This is the true test of friendship and team work.  Feeling so sleep deprived and hungry, a little on edge, ok, maybe a little bitchy and trying to hold it together.  Trying not to freak out on your teammates. I think we all did pretty well (ha ha) and no real tears were shed....just some lip quivering.
Daybreak came, and we headed for our final exchange.  

Michelle's morning hand off to Brenda!

Tracie opening the champagne
Champagne in the fuel belts!

Last leg.  4.20 miles @ 32:52

My last leg was crazy!  We were exhausted, but exhilarated as the sun came up, and we knew we were done.  That's all I could think about was being "done"  Move my legs so I can be done!!  It ended up being my fastest leg.  Even though the whole time I felt like the walking dead.  Like my legs would give out.
We broke out the champagne for Brenda, popped beers open for Tracie.  Ya know the typical thing to do at 8am after running 185-miles for 25 hours!!
We all waited for Brent to come screaming into the finish in Sandpoint, Idaho.  We ran in together as a team, crossing the finish line!!  It was a great time of bonding.  Learning how to deal with situations, hungry, sore, sleep deprived.  Knowing, you just have to suck it up for your team.  Total time 27:59  That's a long day/night of running!  

Over all the race was run fantastically.  Every aspect, top notch.  Would I recommend it, YES.  Will I do it again next year, YES.  Will I sleep at that school, NO!  
We had a great celebration at the finish that morning.  All tired, but toasting with a few beverages!!

Team Happy Feet, you all ROCKED!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

I get by with a little help from my friends.



a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter: 

 Just that word alone makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.  They are there for you when you are up.  They are there for you when you are down.  When you date, marry, divorce, have kids, have accidents, make mistakes, laugh with you, cry with you, love you, hate you. They keep your secrets, know when you are hurting, and know when you just need to sit in silence with them.  Know when to open a good bottle of red, or grab the Kleenex and chocolate. They wipe your tears, and make your smile lines appear radiantly on your face. They swell your heart and break your heart.  I have seen friends come and go, watched them suffer, and celebrated with them.  In my forty years I have had some amazing friends.  Some I have had since I was 4 or 5 years old.  That's alot of time. Alot of laughs, alot of secrets, and a whole lotta history.  Some are new, and even though they just walked into your life, it's like you were meant to be, and you know they will be a part of you for the rest of your life.  I truly have the best friends.

Team: Denny & The Divas and The Hammer Gals

We hang out often, training, BBQing, laughing, dancing, boating, skiing, traveling, racing...you name it.  This weekend was no exception.  Race Day!  Coeur d' Alene Triathlon.
As I had said, I have never raced a Tri as a team.  I was skeptical, and nervous.  I train with these cats all the time, but race day was something different for all of us.  Most of us are runners, and triathletes...and that means other than training together, when we race, we are solo.  Tr-I-athlete.
  We gathered in the morning.  Body marking, watching the water, going over transitions.  We were nervous.  Us girls, were fidgety.  Couldn't figure out where the nerves were coming from.  We talked about being nervous for Ironman....this was different, intense.  We weren't solo on this.  This was a team effort.  If one goes down, we all go down.  We had to ebb and flow as one.  Supporting each leg as we went along.  My team: Denny and the Divas.  Dennis, our biker dude, Natalie, a women who grows gills as soon as she steps in water, and myself.  I knew going in, that our team would be great!  We are all strong.  Tough. Disciplined.  I also knew, I had to be "game on" for my team.  Dennis is a strong biker.  Fast and powerful on those hills.  He would tear that course apart.  And Natalie, well she is ridiculous when she is in the water.  Strong, competitive, and fearless.
Denny & The Divas (Dennis, Nat and Me)

The Hammer Gals (Bren, Renee & Connie)

Our race started.  I waited on the beach while Nat took off.  The plan was for me to watch her swim, wait for her to get onto the beach and run to transition to yell at Dennis who was waiting to take off on the bike.  She was out of that 1-mile swim in 25 minutes. Told ya she's amazing!

Natalie heading for the H2O...see her arms are starting to grow gills. =)

   I ran up the beach.  Dennis was ready.  A quick tag from Nat and he was off.  Fast.  My stomach was turning.  Don't let these guys down today!  The runners in transition including myself were warming up.  Small talking and all of us watching the bike dismount for our bikers.  Knowing exactly what Dennis was wearing, we watched, and waited.  In he came.  His 25-mile bike 1:12 Smoking fast on some tough as heck hills.  WOW!

I ran up for the tag...and I was off.  Fast.  Looking at my Garmin I knew I would need to slow down and pace myself.  Running at a 6:00 pace, and lower I would burn out and never make it.  Steady up....but man, I was excited and still nervous.  I finally found my pace, and rocked out 6.2 miles in 49 minutes, not too bad. I felt great, and strong, and happy to be running for my team.  We placed 2nd.  Not bad for a first time team.  We were crazy happy.  We cheered and celebrated our success.

We had a lot of friends racing, who all did a fantastic job!! Team Hammer Gals (Renee, Brenda & Connie), Tom, Steph, Cathy, Greg (doing his first Oly distance)  and many more.

Greg crossing the finish of his first Oly!!

Awesome couple and great friends!!

Gotta love the smile on Cathy's face!!

Greg & Tom ready to ROCK!!!

  The day was awesome, the course was amazing and race was incredible! We celebrated all our successes that night with a BBQ at our house.  Great food,  lot's of great friends, great wine, great race!!!

Even though we've changed and we're all finding our own place in the world, we all know that when the tears fall or the smile spreads across our face, we'll come to each other because no matter where this crazy world takes us, nothing will ever change so much to the point where we're not all still friends.

My IM training partner, fellow Diva and Fish friend, Natalie.