Carter Lake Crossing: “Race Report”

This event recap is about a month old now, and I wasn’t going to share it here, but then the journal voice of the blog won out for the sake of posterity, in case swimming happens to slip back into the lowly ranks of “extra” again.  😉

What kind of reluctant swimmer signs up for a 3-mile open water swim race on a whim and with enthusiasm? That would be me. And, it was lovely. Really, truly enjoyable, in so many ways, from the scenery to the conviviality to the personal attitude.

This is not a race report. That would be a dishonest description, since it was never my intention to “race”. It’s more of an “event description”.

Coming from a running background and lacking in swimming talent and motivation, I tended to count swimming as “extra” or even “rest” when training for multisport, even when an attempt at swimming hard resulted in rubbery whole-body lethargy and searing lungs. But when, last year, my avid ultra-running husband was handed a devastating blow in the form of complex injuries that meant he would have to give up running permanently, something changed. I didn’t transform into a “swimmer”, but I made the decision to start swimming like I meant it, to support him and also to safeguard my own active options for the unseen, inevitable future.

Two swim sessions bursting with incredible pointers from the brilliant Eney Jones and I felt gifted with a new perspective on moving through the water. I soon had to acknowledge that enjoyment for the sport was creeping in on me, on just two one-hour swims a week. I even found myself inspired to sign up for swim events, completing a few one-mile, and one two-mile, races. There was a peaceful friendliness to those morning swims that made me hungry for more. It was strange being motivated by something I was floundering at. But I loved the shift back to finding satisfaction in “complete” versus “compete”. The anonymity and finding your own groove oblivious to whose feet were creating the bubbles and waves around you felt somehow really great.

I signed up for the Carter Lake Crossing because after a year of healing a glute injury, I hadn’t challenged myself with event goals for awhile, and I craved something different. I’d ridden many times along the lake, but had never dipped a toe in the water. Three miles of swimming seemed an awfully long way to go, but at the same time a logical step up from 2.4, my longest to date as part of a tri.

Leading up to the race, I felt more relaxed than I deserved. Knowing it was a foregone conclusion I’d be closer to the back than the front made it hard to really stress. The day before, however, I started to panic, dreading: a) how early I was going to have to wake up, then b) the possibility that I really might actually drown.

As it turned out, not only did I not drown, but from the moment I arrived with a friend at registration to the second I stepped out of the water, things couldn’t have been more relaxed considering it was officially a competition. I bumped into friends, and everyone I met or brushed wetsuits with exuded laid-back, cheerful energy, whether they expected to be first out of the water or carried back on a jet ski.

Since the race is point-to-point, we were shuttled to the start line. Race briefing was concise, casual but clear on safety. The water was perfect and generally still, save for the odd pulsing wave from nearby boats. Sighting was easy as could be, with the shoreline to follow parallel to the bright orange and yellow buoys.

Maybe if I was a stronger swimmer I’d get caught up in thoughts of where I might be in the “pack” and my ultimate time. Sometimes not being near the top of your category has its benefits, I’ve discovered. Swimming, I felt on my own but in touch. I did my best, and was happy with my 1:37:17 getting from start to finish. But best of all, it was the ‘during’ part of the experience that was most rewarding. In fact, I even fell into a sort of meditative zen at points, appreciating the opportunity to just stretch my body and turn off thoughts. Until this year, I never would have imagined that I’d sign up for a swim event like this without being goaded somehow, but I did. What’s more, I will surely do it again, and relish the prospect.

Product review: Razz Tightening Serum from Colorado Aromatics

Uncategorized | November 19, 2015 | By

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This post has been backlogged in drafts so long it’s shameful. I suppose it’s taken a back seat–or more like, behind the back seat, shoved in the trunk in a hidden little ball– because I don’t often do product reviews, and when I do, they’re naturally about food. These days, however, I tend to hope that I appear more rested than I actually am, and keep company with a whole bunch of others who find themselves feeling the same more often than not. And a snappy little serum from Colorado Aromatics called “Razz Tightening Serum” has been lending a hand so mystically refreshing, I wanted to share.

I was introduced to Colorado Aromatics at the Longmont Farmers Market, and to founder Cindy Jones, a local biochemist, herbalist and author, through LiveWell Longmont, when she generously offered to donate a giveaway. Cindy grows many of the herbs found in her products on her Certified Naturally Grown farm at 5,000 feet elevation not far from Long’s Peak which summits over 14,000 feet. She extracts the herbs through distillation, infusions, tinctures and decoction, to use in her cosmetics line, and is committed to creating quality products that offer protection and enhance natural beauty.

When Cindy offered me a trial of the Razz Tightening Serum, I was pleasantly indifferent. I have’t really had concerns about wrinkles, though I’m aware of fine lines around the eyes and prefer not to swell on them. What’s more, my body typically reacts sensitively to over-sensitively to everything, from caffeine to harsh words. Truly. Cue a little skepticism.

You know how sometimes, when a bit of clutter accumulates you put the blinders up and stop noticing it? But when it’s tidied up suddenly, there’s a noticeable improvement? A little of the serum around the eyes and I noticed a renewed smoothness. I actually felt a subtle tingling…a pleasant one, like cells were being revitalized.  “The ingredients are chosen so as to form a film over the skin that helps to pull and tighten it,” Cindy says. “These include tannins from raspberry leaf and polysaccharides from algae extracts. Long term, the ingredients help to promote collagen production and reduce oxidative stress.”

I’m not expecting to cheat time or rewind with this little serum. But I’m enjoying it. Not only have I observed a positive effect, I trust it and it feels good. It’s easy to recommend Colorado Aromatics. Check out the beautiful range of products, and enjoy.

 

Deliciously simple poached salmon with garlicky spinach and tomatoes

I never really paid much attention to recipes labeled “Quick & Easy” until now. Frankly, I found them kind of dull. I wasn’t especially challenged, nor did I learn anything from them. Now, the learning and the challenge are all about speed and efficiency. The Question of the Day is invariably a form of, just how marvelously fast can I be whipping around the kitchen like a little tornado without causing harm to anything? When a healthy meal is accomplished with rapidity minus said tornado and minimal mess is incurred…oh, gorgeous. That recipe is a keeper for sure.

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Like this salmon.

Riley's a watchful babysitter.

Riley’s a watchful babysitter.

This recipe gives new definition to Quick, and also to Easy. Even better, it’s delicious too, and can be adapted for a whole host of fishes and vegetables. I’ve had it with cod, adding a bunch of squash and mushrooms to the sauce, as well as the salmon. I’ll admit, I’ve leaned on the odd can and frozen vegetables here and there recently, what with it being winter and the time-saving aspects, but it’s not necessary.  Each time we’ve had this so far, I spent maybe 5 minutes prep getting the tomato mixture in the skillet before Little Monkey’s nursing/bedtime routine; when he was tucked in his crib, all I had to do was sprinkle salt and pepper on the fish, place it on top of the vegetable mixture, and let it poach 15 minutes while I got to be my high-energy tornado self elsewhere in the house, accomplishing at least one task that once took twice the time or more. Beautiful.

Poached salmon/fish with garlicky spinach and tomatoes
serves 3-4

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • good shake of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen spinach
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3-4 salmon fillets (roughly 4 ounce each)
  1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed pepper flakes and cook gently until fragrant, a minute or two
  2. Add tomatoes, spinach, wine, and seasoning. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer  (about 5 minutes or as long as you need to until you’re ready to add the fish).
  3. Bring heat to medium-low; season fish with salt and pepper and place on top of tomato mixture. Cover and cook  until fish is cooked through and easily flakes with a fork, about 10 minutes.
  4. Serve fish over vegetable mixture, spooning some of the liquid on top.

Slow Cooker Everyday Challenge: Days 5 and 7, post 6, Vegetarian Baked Beans

It was inevitable, really. I had to beg a sick day from the slow cooker challenge. Not a break from slow cooking, mind you, just from posting about it. This “bug” (which is really too diminutive a word for the repulsive, green slimey, lung-flapping viral/bacterial ball it is) has been a real b***. Because misery loves company,  it’s tempting now to go into extreme detail about the progression of chest congestion, the viscosity of mucous, and the rest, but I won’t go any further, I promise. I’m not sure there’s really any time and place appropriate for that kind of description outside of a medical building, but if there is, it’s definitely not a food blog.

So, if you’re really reading this, I wonder, can you recognize the picture? It’s probably not all that appetizing, but is nevertheless a major player in the big picture pie of what Dave and I subsisted on for a year in the Lake District on a shoestring budget: beans on toast! I’d forgotten just how good that is. Plus, there’s something very admirable about how filling the basic, budget “dish” really is.

Beans really are great for any budget. I once heard beans described as ” poor and healthy people’s meat”.  I love that. Paired correctly, beans are great sources of protein, rich in fiber, and said to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, among other things. I’ve been searching for years for the perfect recipe for Boston-style baked beans, stand alone tasty beans to pour over baked potatoes and spoon alongside omelets. Only without being loaded with sugars and salt. Day 5, I used this recipe from Simply Recipes, minus the pork salt cubes, only I cut the sugar back to 1 tablespoon each of molasses and brown sugar. The beans were OK. Not bad, even. Definitely alright. But not enough to make a post. That’s why this same recipe became day 7, still without the pork, but with the full amounts of sugar, and the addition of tomato puree. Much, much better. Delicious, in fact, although truth be told, beans in plain old tomato sauce are really my favorite. But these are tops, too. I think it would have been worth adding some salt and extra seasonings to compensate from the exclusion of pork, but that’s all. Worth the wait, and the second trial. Cool beans.

Slow Cooked Vegetarian Boston Baked Beans slightly adapted from Simply Recipes

  • 1 pound (2 to 2 1/4 cups) dry white beans such as Navy beans or Great Northern beans
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3-4 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 1/4 cup tomato puree
  • 1 medium onion, (1 1/2 cups) chopped

1 Place beans in a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Soak overnight and drain. Alternatively, bring a pot with the beans covered with 2 inches of water to a boil, remove from heat and let soak for a hour, then drain.

2 Mix the molasses, brown sugar, mustard, and ground cloves with 3 cups of hot water.

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