Beaverdam: I accept my fate as forever being cold and wet.

Hi everyone!

The week is in full swing over here and at this point I’m just along for the ride. As I’m sure you already know, we had a pretty cold exciting weekend with racing and Brewgaloo-ing and brunching.

First off, the race!

This was my first triathlon of the season, the Beaverdam Olympic Triathlon (for those who don’t know it’s a 1500m swim, 24 mile bike, and 10k run). I did this one last year also so my main goal this year was to beat my times from last year. And. I. Did. #ballerstatus

2014 results

This was from 2014. I had a minor panic attack on the swim (my first open water swim with a wetsuit) and backstroked 90% of the thing! I’m particularly proud that my backstroke is as strong as my freestyle/crawl. Although it may also be that my crawl just sucks. But whatever. I

I finished third in my age group that year which was exciting! Never mind the fact that it was 3/6. Third is third.

2015 results

And these are my results from this year! About 11 min faster! Woohoo! I shaved some time off of each leg 🙂 <–there’s a shaving joke in there somewhere but I’m too tired to find it

Swim:

I actually bought my own wetsuit this year instead of renting one and made sure to get comfortable in the water before I started. Then when we started, I didn’t panic and remembered to breathe! (always a plus) I was able to swim the whole thing and only took a couple of breaks to float and get my bearing in the water. This was a huge success for me.

Now, what’s weird is that usually a wetsuit swim is COLD. Don’t get me wrong, the water was not warm by any means, but it was warmer in the water than out of it! The transition went pretty well although I did have a minor issue getting my left foot out of the wetsuit, but I’ve never had to worry too much about my transitions since I’m used to quick changes from my ballerina days.

Bike:

The bike was freezing. Actually. freezing is an understatement. For some unknown reason, I forgot my arm warmers and toe covers so I was just in my tri kit for the duration of the bike. The majority of my thoughts on the bike consisted of “I can’t feel my feet at all. If I get frostbite from this stupid race imma be so pissed” “I should eat/drink something, wait my hands don’t work. Come on warm up enough to grab a water bottle” Rinse and repeat.

Luckily the bike course changed from last year, so instead of constant rolling hills we had a lot of flat areas and low incline hills. So that was lovely. The rain, wind, and cold was not.

I did have a bike-buddy for most of the race. We happened to have the same pace for the entire ride! So we bonded and chatted it up as a distraction from the weather. Sadly she’s not local otherwise she’d probably be my new bestie. She’s in the purple behind me in the pic 🙂

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My second transition was also a little slow. This was more due to the fact that I had lost all feeling in both my hands and feet. Shoelaces are hard. Note to self: get those elastic shoelaces.

Run:

The run was an out-and-back that we covered twice. I love these because it feels shorter than it actually is. It’s like focusing on a landmark when you run and saying you’ll run to that and then walk, only this time the landmark was a water station. My feet were still completely numb for the first 2 miles of the run which had me worried for a bit. I couldn’t control how my feet were landing so I hurt the outside of my right foot a bit. The run course was not very flat, but at that point I was just glad to be off the bike and warming up so I really didn’t care about the hills.

The other awesome benefit of having 2 laps of the course was seeing Indy and Steve a lot! When I was getting ready to finish, I grabbed the leash from Steve and Indy literally pulled me across the finish line. I mean, she took off! I think she was super excited to finish and GTFO of the crazy place with a lot of scary people doing stuff. It’s super scary.

Anyways, I got second place in my age group this year! 2/7 so the field improved in both directions 🙂 And I got my time in under 3 hrs which also makes me happy 🙂

I was pretty cold so we (and a ton of other triathletes) stopped off at Starbucks on the way home for a nice hot drink to finish the day.

 

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Dancing spring chickens, or Harold’s adventure in the oven

This spring is so busy! I mean usually spring is pretty busy anyway but this year, holy crap! We’ve got end of the semester projects and finals, research grant deadlines, moving to a new place, European vacation planning, half marathons, triathlons and several other things I’m sure I’m forgetting. It’s during busy times like this that I’m glad we can take the time to enjoy naming a chicken and making him dance before lathering him up in butter, stuffing some garlic in his butt and tossing him in the oven for his nap on a bed of veggies. He ended up being delicious by the way.

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Amanda dancing with the delicious Harold

During our chicken downtime lately I’ve been spending a lot of time coding. I have one last project to finish up for my embedded systems class. We have a full color touchscreen to interface with the microcontroller and we have to make a video game with it. During my late nights coding Amanda has been training for her triathlons and enjoyed a girl’s night in with Lisa one night which consisted of plenty of Budlight lime and I can only assume hair braiding and pillow fights. (That’s what girls do right?)

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The aftermath of the girl’s night in

I was working very hard on the microcontroller project last week when we thought the due date was last Friday. Turns out none of my friend group listened when the professor said everyone could have a 1 week extension on the project so once we found that out we took a a couple days off which was nice because Amanda had her Beaver Dam triathlon on the nastiest coldest wettest day. Here she is looking super speedy 🙂

wpid-20150425_080810.jpg Indy was there with me to cheer Amanda on. Indy’s reaction and thought process every time Amanda passed us went something like this

OMG THERE’S MY OTHER HUMAN I MISSED YOU SOOOO MUCH I THOUGHT YOU WERE NEVER COMING BACK COME HERE AND PET ME AND LOVE ME WAIT WAIT WAAAIIITT WHERE ARE YOU GOING COME BACK PLLAEEASESE! STEVE, WE HAVE TO FOLLOW HER, LETS GO LETS GO LETS GO… Omg she’s never coming back ever ever…

repeat this 6 times with extended periods of sulking and you have Indy’s triathlon experience.

wpid-20150425_105734.jpgAmanda ran across the finish line with Indy though which both of them really enjoyed. I think Indy about pulled Amanda off her feet when I gave her the leash but I’ll let her tell you more about the race.

Afterward warming up and getting dry but beer was calling our name so we went back out in the cold and rain for Brewgaloo in downtown Raleigh. Local beer brewers had booths lined all up and down Fayetteville Street where you could get pints or small taster pours. I’m pretty sure we really enjoyed ourselves but the details are a little hazy to be honest 😉

wpid-20150425_184425.jpgThat’s about all for now. Hope your week is off to a great start!

Fiesta Friday

Friday dance time!!

Coming at ya again with another post since today is a little overbooked slow and I’ve decided to handle being in 3 places at once by ignoring my to do list and blogging instead. I make such great life choices. (looks very proud of self)

 

Anyways, since I am trying to post regularly and post on things like working out and cooking and such, here’s a recipe!

We had enchilada night last night and since I also happened to have the quintessential summer drink, Bud Light Lime, in hand, it turned into a full-on fiesta! This enchilada recipe is awesome and, wait for it, CHEAP! Perfect for grad students.

We had extra avocados so there was also guacamole and homemade chips involved because what else are you going to do with extra avocados and tortillas?

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Enchiladas With Mole Sauce (adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients
SAUCE
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil or any oil with a light flavor
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 oz. tomato paste
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
ENCHILADAS
  • 1/2 cup shredded cooked, chicken
  • 1 (15 oz.) can seasoned black beans
  • 1 medium avocado
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1-2 whole green onions
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels
  • handful fresh cilantro chopped
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated cheese (oxaca, montery, or another soft melty cheese)
  • 8 small tortillas (fajita size)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Then prepare the enchilada sauce. In a medium sauce pot combine the vegetable oil, flour, and chili powder. Heat the mixture over a medium flame until it begins to bubble. Whisk and cook the bubbling paste for 1-2 minutes. Slowly pour in the water while whisking. Add the tomato paste, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, cocoa powder, and salt. Whisk until smooth and continue to heat over a medium flame. Let the sauce come up to a gentle simmer, at which point the sauce will thicken. Once thickened, turn off the heat and set the sauce aside until you’re ready to use it.
  2. Drain and rinse the can of beans, then add them to a large bowl with the shredded chicken. Cube the avocado, dice the tomato, slice the green onion, and pull a handful of cilantro leaves from their stems and roughly chop them. Add them all to the bowl, along with the frozen corn kernels and lime juice. Stir everything together. Season with a little salt and garlic powder (recommended amounts above, or use fresh minced garlic). Gently mix in the cheese so you don’t bruise the avocado.
  3. Coat an 8×8 casserole dish with non-stick spray. Warm the tortillas briefly in the microwave to make them soft and pliable. Fill each tortilla with about ⅓ cup of filling and roll tightly. Place the filled tortillas in the casserole dish, seam side down. Once all of the filled enchiladas are in the dish, pour the enchilada sauce over top.
  4. Bake the enchiladas in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until they’re heated through and the sauce is bubbly along the edges.

If you want to add even more cheese on top of the enchiladas, I think that would be a fantastic idea. More cheese = awesome!

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Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 3 small avocados (honestly use what ya got)
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 1/4 white or sweet onion small diced
  • handful of fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1/4 cup (approx) diced fresh tomato <–I used like 5 cherry tomatoes and chopped them up
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • salt, pepper, and Sriracha to taste

Cube and mash the avocados with the lime juice. Mix in remaining ingredients. Add salt, pepper and Sriracha to taste <– I use one healthy squirt for a nice kick

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We had some leftover tortillas from the enchilada recipe and a lack of tortilla chips in the house (I know). So, I cut up the remaining 3 tortillas into chip size and fried them in 1/2 in of sunflower oil (Don’t overheat your oil, 350-375 degrees is where you wanna be at) for 1-2 min per side.

And OMG I forgot how good fresh flour tortilla chips are! Especially with homemade guacamole. And Bud Light Lime. And hot enchiladas. And a nice spring evening.

Spring Cleaning

Hi everyone!

I would like to announce a huge moment in my life yesterday…

I managed to throw a giant Harry Potter (I think it was the 6th) book in the toilet from a room away!

Now before you get mad at me for purposefully throwing a perfectly good Harry Potter book in the toilet and ruining it, hear me out. It was baggage. Emotional baggage. From a previous relationship. My ex-boyfriend gifted me a paperback Harry Potter set one year and wrote love letters on the inside of each cover.

This was very sweet and touching at the time, but now, 3 years later, it’s just emotional baggage that I can’t sell at a garage sale <—let’s be honest, who would buy the Harry Potter series with sappy love letters on each inside cover.

Steve and I are getting ready to move into a smaller apartment (YAY less cleaning) so I’ve been going through my things and trying to downsize.  While I was going through my things the other night and loudly singing along to my Broadway Hits Pandora station, I came across a bunch of cards, pictures, and things from that relationship. If you’re thinking how weird it is that I kept these things for so long well….it’s one of those things where the last time I moved, I was still hung up on everything and not ready to let go. Sooooo all that stuff got put up in a box on a shelf and forgotten about until now.

And I cried. A lot.

It’s easy to remember why you break up with someone. You can blame them and make them the “bad guy” for whatever reason. It’s a lot harder to find memories of the happy times. Especially when they catch you by surprise. You’re flooded with all the happy memories and start to wonder what happened to ruin the life you set yourself up for years ago.

Luckily, I’m dating this pretty rad guy –>Steve<– who sat down with me and talked it out. We talked about getting rid of that baggage that you don’t realize is still there (aka Harry Potter books). I was originally going to burn the books as a way of therapeutic release, but I’m also extremely impatient and didn’t want to try to build a fire.

So, Steve and I sat on our bed across from the bathroom and read each letter one last time. At the end of each letter, I tried to throw the book in the toilet. 5/6 books missed. But one made it and it was so satisfying that I cried again (from release this time).

On a separate note, I also signed the application for my first utility patent yesterday! Now I can put that annoying “Patent-pending” thing on everything I do (evil laugh)

Also Indy has been having a rough few days 😦

She ran into a tree and hurt her shoulder

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Most pathetic look ever! It was hilarious how sassy she got when we tried to ice her shoulder.

She’s also been having some stomach issues and has let us know by lying dramatically on the bed….

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We have plans to traumatize her with some time at the lake and a beer festival this weekend so I hope she feels better soon!

Perspective

With all the stress, depression, busyness, and chaos that is grad school, you may be wondering why anyone would subject themselves to such a life. We all have a reason for staying. You have to have these reasons to keep you going when times get hard. And believe me, they will get hard.

A PhD isn’t something you go after when you can’t get a job and have nothing else to do. If that is the case, you’ll either fall in love with research and stay, or drop out after a Masters (which is still effing awesome and nothing to be ashamed of btw).

I had a bit of a wake up call in therapy last week when I was talking about how I felt that grad school had ‘robbed’ me of my life and things that make me happy. My psychiatrist looked at me and asked me why I came to grad school. He pointed out that some people are in grad school against their will (for whatever reason: ambitious parents, degree requirements, etc). He then asked if I was forced to come to grad school. I wasn’t. I came of my own free will. So he asked again, why?

I was forced to sit and think about why I came to grad school. Sure, there are the reasons I joke about, love dat college lyfe, didn’t wanna get a job, yada yada yada. But those aren’t reasons to go to grad school and spend the better part of 3 years debating about staying vs. leaving (spoiler alert, I decided to stay).

The real reason I came to grad school is because I am unsatisfied. I am unsatisfied with the amount of knowledge I currently have. I am not satisfied knowing x + y = z. I am not satisfied knowing that your computer saves files to a hard drive or that rubber bands are stretchy because they are a polymer.

There is a real need to know the very fundamentals of how the world works. I need to know that rubber bands are a polymer, which means they have a certain crystal structure and the atoms are joined by a certain type of bond in a certain way that allows for enough potential energy to be stored before breaking that they are considered ‘stretchy’. I need to know that a computer reads binary using switches that differentiate between 1 and 0. I need to break a concept down to its most basic parts. This, inevitably, also ends up being the most complicated.

In undergrad, they show you equations, a black box of assumptions and the answer. I need to pick apart that black box and understand it’s role in providing the answers. Where do the assumptions come from? Why make these assumptions and not those?

Only when I grasp this am I able to “scale out” to the big picture. It’s why I’m good at designing systems. I need to know how each part works so I can optimize the entire system as a whole. A PhD is based on learning a subject to it’s most fundamental laws of existence. You have to break something down to be innovative.

That’s why I’ve stayed in grad school.

After explaining this to my psych, he gave me some desperately needed tough love. Not gonna lie, I kinda resented him at the time for it, but I am glad he was up front with me. Basically, I can’t whine and complain about how grad school ‘robbed’ me of my happiness. There was nothing to ‘rob’. This is part of it. A PhD takes a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of sacrifice. I can still compete in races, but that’s not my job. It’s my hobby. It’s what I do in my spare time. And I can’t blame grad school for requiring a lot of time. That’s what you sign up for. It’s not saying that you can’t achieve everything you ever wanted in life, but prioritizing is so important in grad school. And grad school should be your top priority. If you can train for an Ironman while in grad school and not drive yourself crazy then great! But you can’t expect to be the top student in your class and finish first in the race at the same time.

For right now, I need to focus on being the best grad student I can be not on having my fastest marathon or Ironman. I can focus on that later. I’ve been feeling pretty guilty about skipping a lot of my workouts and training because I have to dedicate more time to grad school. And I’ve been beating myself up over the fact that I may or may not beat my time from last year. If you haven’t noticed, it’s made me a little miserable the last couple of weeks.

Could I finish Raleigh 70.3 tomorrow? Yes. I have enough training to successfully complete 70.3 miles of swimming, biking, and running. Would I PR it? Nope. And that’s ok. I need to work on being happy with the fact that I am a grad student who can actually complete that distance. Which is a hellavua accomplishment in and of itself.