Minnesota State Fair Food Preview (Is this real life?)

Happy Tuesday!  It is back to school mode here in Minnesota, as this week I’ve put a serious dent in my nagging to-do list for the upcoming semester.  I’m covering another professor’s classes while they are on sabbatical, so its basically like prepping as a 1st year prof all over again.  joy.  More like, anxiety attack.  BUT, the good news is that I’m getting my first crack at teaching biochem, a topic which I love but haven’t dusted off for awhile, so it’s a love-hate deal.

Back to school time here in Minnesota, also means another BIG event…The Minnesota State Fair!  While I’m used to the Iowa State fair being the first two weeks of August, the MN state fair starts August 27th and runs into September.  My friend Alice from Dining with Alice helped co-host an event last week for bloggers to come experience and try out new MN State Fair Foods for 2015, as well as learn about fun activities at the fair for kids.

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You didn’t have to ask me to think twice about going to this event, being that a) the food at the state fair is one of my favorite things EVER and b) I pretty much act like a kid at the fair.

I have gone to the Iowa State Fair religiously since I became friends in middle school with my longtime friend, Meredith.   I was always going to the fair with her fam for her mom’s involvement entering food competitions, in particular, the pie competitions!  In addition to eating all of Lana’s amazing food creations entered in the fair, I started my own ritual of foods that I would eat from the food stands.   When I proclaim my love for the Iowa State Fair to my fellow Minnesotans, they tell me that the MN State Fair has even better food.

I am a scientist and a researcher.  So my response is, I’ll believe it when I see the evidence.

So i did my first bit of research last week at the food preview!

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The MN state fair crew had about 10 new foods we got to try.  Even better, the business owners/chefs introduced the products and stories behind them, as well as chat with them while we were gorging ourselves.

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There was everything you could think of — totchos (tater tot nachos), cheese stuffed meatloaf on a stick, snickers salad, maple bacon funnel cakes, and salted caramel puffcorn malts are just a few of my favorites.

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The winner was Totchos.  Can you think of a more glorious food equation than tater tots + nachos?  Me neither.  I’ll take a gallon full.

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I also loved the new salted caramel malt from the Dairy Barn!  This event was also focused on getting the word out that there are PLENTY of activities for kids at the state fair.   Did you know that “MATH ON A STICK” is a thing?   There are several number and alphabet games (on a stick) to keep kids interested in the fair.  For example, the numbers game, kids have to go around and find things in groups from 1-20 (so for example, the number 4 could be for 4 legs on a pig or cow in the animal barn).

Also important for families– there is going to be FREE SUNSCREEN available at the fair this year, wahoo!

I don’t know about you but I’m ready for the fair!  Huge thanks to the Minnesota State Fair and Alice for putting this together, I had a blast and cannot wait to experience it!

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Wednesday With Blue Diamond Nut Thins

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Nut Thins. I was sent complimentary product in return for a review/post. I was not compensated monetarily. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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 Happy Wednesday and yes I know what you’re thinking, where has Emily been and why are we seeing yet another Blue Diamond post?

  1. I’ve been moving. THE JOYS OF ADULTHOOD AND FEAR OF COMMITMENT(aka buying a house).
  2. Because partnering with Blue Diamond to try out their products is awesome.

I’ve said it before…I became a fan of Blue Diamond Nut Thins long before I started partnering with them. A few years back I was having some digestion issues, when a dietitian had my try removing gluten from my diet. As a gluten lover, I was not happy. These nut thins crackers were a god-send, so I could have my little picnic lunches I loved so much – nut thins, turkey, and cheese! The good news that came from all of this was that a) gluten wasn’t the problem (THANK GOD) and b) I now had another cracker alternative that I liked!

Because nut thins have a higher concentration of almonds and flax seeds, they have a higher unsaturated fat concentration. The good kinda fat!  With moving the past week, I haven’t felt like cooking meals at all. I’ve been enjoying most of my nut thins with Trader Joe’s Hummus. I could about eat the whole box/container!  I’m hoping to try them out as an appetizer with mozzarella, tomato, and basil later this week!   Thanks again, Blue Diamond Nut Thins!

Flavor Your Adventure- Clutch Moving Snacks

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds.  I received complimentary almonds in exchange for a review post.  I received NO monetary compensation.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Oh hi, HAPPY MOVING WEEKEND.  The joys of life, right?  After having the college pay for professional movers to move me from WI to MN last summer, it is a harsh wake up call having to pack up my own house and just move across town!  I’ve decided to give the St. Cloud area another year and move closer to the downtown area than from the suburb where I live now.  I am still missing city life, so after this next year, I may decide to move down to the twin cities area and commute.  For now though, I’m pumped about moving to a new house JUST BLOCKS from my gym (WHAT UP MOTIVATION).

If you follow me on the insta, you’ve seen that I’ve been completely on the go this summer– which is great, but not always relaxing.  Part of being “on the go”, means I’ve rarely been home and my fridge has been empty.  So when I returned this past week, I was scrambling for snacks and meals that I could eat at home, instead of being tempted to eat out all of the time.  Obviously, I was pleased when Blue Diamond sent me these Roasted Salted and Low Sodium Salted Almonds.  Almonds are one of my favorite go-to snacks because they are high in unsaturated fat (the good kind!) and keep me full with just a small handful.


Thanks Blue Diamond for keeping me fueled! Now, who’s coming over to help me move?! :)

That time I finally felt like I could live here

This week marks my one year mark of living in central Minnesota.  I guess you could say that I have a love-hate relationship with this place.  I’m starting to think though, maybe we have a love-hate relationship with most places we live?

I know I’ve talked about Ultimate Frisbee here before, but it once again, it comes back into my life and surprises me. This time in Minnesota.  But let’s back up first…

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When I first lived in Madison, I was not a fan.

GASP. I know.   Looking back, I want to shake myself and say girrlllll, you have no idea what good things are coming to you and how much you’ll fall in love with this city.

Anyway, I wasn’t a fan of Madtown.  I wasn’t a fan of my grad program.  I didn’t have many friends.  And I was having serious doubts on whether or not staying  and completing my Ph.D. was the best path for me.  I even had started looking into P.A. schools in Iowa.

The guys in my lab always talked about ultimate.  Like, they were REALLY good and talked about it all the time.  At first, I never thought I could play.  At the time, I had just gained 40 lbs from my first year of grad school, was out of shape, and I knew that ultimate was…a ton of running (youtube it, for reals).  But, I kept hearing about how much fun people in lab were having playing and how everyone was really good at accepting beginners.  The fall of my 2nd year of grad school, my friend Sammie from lab and I signed up together.  She had played before, I hadn’t.  BUT, I felt so much better showing up to our first game with a friend! That first game I about DIED playing the first point…IT WAS SO MUCH RUNNING.  I WAS SO SLOW.  I DROPPED THE DISC. *Side note– EVERYONE DROPS THE DISC*  But playing ultimate sparked something inside of me…for the first time since playing tennis competitively in college, I was COMPETING, as well as socializing doing something active.  All of the players were nice and genuinely interested in helping me become better.  They also were just really fun.   I was hooked.  I asked one of the guys in lab to help me learn the different throws and we spent the next couple months working on it.  I got better.

That next summer, my long-time friend Matt, also a grad student at UW, asked me to play on his summer team.  We played in a rec-league and mainly emphasized fun.   I continued to work on my game and got better…I wasn’t great by any means, but I didn’t screw up all that often!  But even better was that when I started playing on that team,  I had no idea that the people on that team would become my best friends (even introducing me to more amazing people that didn’t play ultimate too!), and those friends would be by my side for what would be the worst year, then best year of my life.

Ultimate gave me something I hadn’t had in a long time: a new sport to learn + new friends.  Quality friends.  Hilarious friends.  And a reason to be physically active and work out all my stress from the day.   I worked hard to learn the different positions and playing was great physical activity…in addition to training for a half marathon it played a huge role in helping me lose weight and get back to my healthy pre grad school weight.

For the next 3 summers, our team played together and it was an absolute blast.  I honestly can say I’ve never enjoyed anything more than playing ultimate and enjoying Great Dane Beers + Karoke with the friends I made in Madison.  In the spring and the fall, I played on other random teams, and still had a blast.  To sum it up: people who play ultimate are awesome. period.

Fortunately, I successfully defended my PhD last summer and got a killer job, but unfortunately that meant leaving my safety net of grad school and the amazing ultimate community/best friends I made I had made in Madison.  It was hard.  I was so torn between this amazing new future I had worked hard for, and leaving everything that had meant so much to me.

Although I miss the craft beer, restaurant scene, and old friends in Madison,  I have met some incredible friends through the college here in Minnesota.  I feel lucky to have made such great friends so quickly.  This past year though, something from my life has felt missing.  I realized this spring was that while I was working my ass of being a first year prof, I wasn’t  killing 2 birds with one stone AKA socializing while being physically active like I was when I would play frisbee.  This realization came as I started volunteering with the women’s frisbee team at the college I teach.  I helped coach them as well as scrimmage with them…and just playing ultimate again made me really, really, happy.

Through that team,  I was able to find a group of people to play ultimate with this summer, a “pickup league” as you would call it.  While the teams are random and many of the players are way younger and faster than me, playing ultimate again has filled that void I’ve felt.  With the age differences/life stage of all the other players, I don’t foresee myself forming the life-bond that I did with my ultimate friends in Madison.  But I’ve realized that here, ultimate doesn’t need to do that for me.  Getting to play ultimate is enough and has filled that void I have been missing.  Getting up the confidence to go to ultimate each week on my own and having it be “my own” is enough.   I’ve already started making friends in other areas of my life here that fulfill that part of my life.  I love my job.  It’s a puzzle that’s becoming more complete.  The alignment of all of these things over the past couple weeks have led me to believe that for the first time since I moved here a year ago, I could possibly have a future here.  Which is huge, considering about 6 months ago I was in “get me the eff out of here” mode.

This past spring, I was asked by several graduating seniors that I taught in Capstone if I had any advice about moving away/starting a new life, as I had just done so myself.   I think I came up with a different answer for each of them, depending on how I felt that week, because I didn’t know the answer.

But I know the answer now, or at least, I’m closer to the answer than where I was.

My advice is this, find one thing that makes you happy– whether it be a hobby, a sport, etc.,– and make it a goal to do that one thing at least once a week.  Even if you do it by yourself.  Do that one thing and bring yourself a little joy.  You’ll sleep better at night because of it. :)

Elvis Inspired Ice Cream (Small Batch + DAIRY FREE)

Disclaimer: This “Easy as Breeze” post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk. For more “Easy As Breeze” recipes made with five ingredients or less, visit Almond Breeze on Facebook (http://facebook.com/almondbreeze), Twitter (http://twitter.com/almondbreeze), Instagram (http://instagram.com/almondbreezeus) and Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/almondbreeze). I was provided one package of Almond Breeze Chocolate Almond milk to review for a blog post.  I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions are my own.

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Happy weekend!  So happy to be home in Minnesota catching up on life after traveling south for a wedding last weekend, a concert on Tuesday, and lake time to fill out the rest of the week.   The awesome free-time of summer is winding down as I need to start focusing on preparing for the school year, so I’m soaking up everything this last weekend with…another wedding!  It never ends and I don’t really mind that. :)

Mmmkay.  So y’all know that I partner up with Blue Diamond Almonds frequently.  They send me stuff to review, I review it, and then tell ya about it.  This is my first almond breeze almond milk review…I tend to stay away from reviewing cows milk alternatives because I don’t drink them regularly.  BUT, I opted in for this one because a) I love chocolate and b) we have discovered over the course of the last month that my dad may be lactose intolerant.  Almond milk is lactose free and a great alternative for dairy-lovers, like my father!

I decided to make ice cream with the almond milk, because my dad LOVES ice cream and we’ve been trying to find lactose-free alternatives for him the past few weeks, most of which he has liked (PHEW!).  I have used frozen banana as a base for smoothies before, so I thought, why can’t I make ice cream with this?  The peanut butter was a last minute idea and definitely adds some flavah’.   When I first tasted this, it was reminded me of chocolate chip in banana bread, but in ice cream form.  TWO OF MY FAVES IN ONE?  Sign me up.  Enjoy!

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 Ingredients:

2/3 cup Almond Breeze chocolate almond milk

2 frozen bananas, sliced

1 tsp. agave syrup or honey

1 tbsp. dark chocolate cocoa powder

1 tbsp. peanut butter

Directions

Add all ingredients to a blender, blend on high speed for about 30 seconds, freeze for at least 2-3 hours!

ENJOY.  Thanks Blue Diamond Almond Breeze!

Thoughts of an Unprepared 2nd Triathloner (Graniteman Recap)

Happy Monday from Up North! This last weekend I competed in my 2nd EVER triathlon, the GraniteMan Clearwater in Minnesota.  You can read about my first tri experience from last year, here. Graniteman  was my first triathlon this summer and a sprint distance.  The swim was about twice as long as a nomral sprint tri, so while I love swimming, I was a bit nervous!  I also was very unprepared training wise.  However, I did finish and thought it would be fun to share a peek into my thoughts for the day.  Enjoy!

Saturday, July 11th- Triathlon Actions and Accompanying Thoughts

5 am- Can i think of a respectable reason not to do this? **hits snooze button**

5:10 am- how long does it take me to get to the tri site? Could i just drive faster to sleep longer? **hits snooze button**

5:15- Ughhhh.  Throw on my tri shorts, frisbee shorts and a sweatshirt. Throw a bagel in the toaster.

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5:20 pack my bike & other gear in the trunk.  I have a bike rack, but I forgot how to use it.  Safety first with my child!

5:25- Attempt to poo, as I know this would be most unfortunate if it occurs during the race.  Unsuccessful and I am slightly concerned. :)

5:40- On the road.  I just downloaded Ryn Weaver’s CD.  I blare “Pierre” and attempt to pump myself up.  There is fog over the fields.  Minnesota is so damn beautiful.

6:05- I arrive at the park. Holy shit these men are muscular.

6:10- Again, I ask myself, can I really do this?  I’m not prepared AT ALL.  Why didn’t I get my shit together?

6:20- I walk my stuff to the transition area.  I select an area close to the  bike out, which proves later to be a poor decision.  How I make a decision on where to set up transition: Where can I put my bike so that I don’t bother any serious athletes out here? Ahhh, there’s some older bikes, lets go over there.   I take a pic of my new pretty road bike, Sylvie, in her first triathlon transition!  While Sylvie is technically a men’s bike because bike companies don’t understand how to make bikes for tall women, she still bears a feminine name. :)

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6:30- Registration pick up.  In and out in 30 seconds.  I LOVE SMALL TOWN MINNESOTA.

6:40- Body marking.  I don’t know what it is, but getting body marked makes me feel like a BAMF.  Like, “here’s my undefined bicep with my bib number, RAWR”

6:45 – I should probably bike a couple miles.  I notice that the “bike out” begins uphill.  I cringe, because I haven’t mastered clipping into my pedals uphill.  I try it once and have some problems.  I envision this causing some problems and for the first time all day, I’m nervous.

7- I should probably run a bit. This turns out to be more of a jog.

7:15- chit chatting.  There are so many older athletes here! They all look so buff!

7:30- Pre race meeting.  I put my wetsuit on over my tri-suit and sports bra.  Dammit, I’m actually going to have to do this.

7:50- walk to the start at the other side of the lake.  Not a fan of this huge walk to the lake!

8:00 other waves start.  I flood my wetsuit with water so I can pull it up over my thunder thighs.  I chat with a friend I had met at a swim clinic earlier in the week.  We are in the same heat, yes!

8:21 gun goes off. Showtime!  I start at the back of the pack for the swim, because while I like swimming and am decent, I don’t like swimming in the congestion and getting kicked.

Swim

Adrenaline kicks in and I start off very strong in the swim, until I realize my heart rate is out of control!  The swim is a straight across 0.44 mile swim…I was a little nervous because normally, sprint tri’s only have a 0.25 mile swim and I had never swam more than that consecutively.  I slow down and try to regulate my heart rate.

I practice sighting– 4 front crawl strokes, 2 breast strokes, so every once and awhile i can see if I’m swimming straight.  About 4-5 other peeps in my heat could have benefited from that tactic, as I got their feet in mah face as they swam crooked right in front of me.

Although my watch does my pace for the swim, I don’t look at it, because I know it will make me anxious.  When I think I’m about halfway done, I side stroke the swim for a minute to give myself a break.  For the last half of the swim, I try my hardest to pee, because I have the urge to go.  But for some reason, I CANNOT PEE.  I try embarrassingly hard, but no avail.  I then become really interested in wondering what the scientific reason is for this and the rest of the swim FLIES BY.  It’s ironic to me because my entire life I’ve tried so hard not to pee my pants in places when my small bladder is like WHY DID YOU DRINK ALL THAT, and now, the one time I want to pee I CAN’T.   Next thing I know, I’m pulling up weeds on my stroke and its time to stand up.  I am sad I couldn’t pee, but I quickly forget about it because the first couple steps of walking out of the water are a chore…think, my best friend’s 13 month old first steps wobbly kind of walking.

I pull down the top half of my wetsuit and walk through the chute.  I don’t care that I’m walking, because I just fricking swam longer than I ever have and need a breather.  I look down at my watch and see that I somehow cut 10 seconds off my 100 yd swim pace. HOLLA! I AM QUEEN OF THE WORLD. Or just swimming, whatevs.   I get a huge smile on my face and some confidence!

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This transition area was hella long and I was not a fan, but this was my own mistake.  I realized coming to the transition area (which is a parking lot) that I have to walk across THE ENTIRE LOT to get to my bike by the bike out BAREFOOT.  I have sensitive, wussy feet, and silently curse the entire time.  I take my time in transition because biking has been my worst event in the past (in the past, i mean my one triathlon).  I take two bites of banana, a swig of nasty gatorade (THOSE ELECTROLYTES THO), and get going.  My transition time is slow, but given the heat, I’m fine with that.

Bike-

  My worst fears come true within 2 seconds of getting on my bike– that uphill that worried me before?  yeah, I can’t clip in my pedals on it.  To make things worse, all these spectators are yelling,” Its ok!  You got it!”  Which is so sweet, so supportive, but I am SO EMBARRASSED.  I walk my bike about 200 feet up the hill to the flat highway where the course heads out and get on there.

Within a couple miles, I already notice a huge difference between my road bike and my hybrid bike I had used on the first triathlon a year ago.  Hills are so much easier and while I’m getting passed by every 65 year old grandpa there is on the course, I am going much faster than I ever have!  For not being a strong biker, my confidence builds.  IM FLYING! I LOVE BIKING FINALLY!

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Photo Credit: Phreelance Fotography

So many people cheer me on when they pass me, it’s so nice!  I LOVE TRIATHLONS

Being new to biking and well, my bike, I still find turns very difficult and need a little extra space.  While taking a turn around mile 6, a middle-aged very fit/experienced woman passes me on a turn and yells very meanly “STAY ON YOUR RIGHT”.  honey please, this is a small triathlon in central Minnesota, not nationals.  IS IT THAT HARD TO BE NICE?

This totally breaks my confidence for a couple miles.  Like, I totally get that I need to stay to the right! I was trying to get there but curves are hard for newbies!   PSA to everyone out there:  let’s try to remember that we were all new at something once.

Mile 7-8 I pass my first person.  I almost cry, because I don’t think I passed anyone in my first triathlon and I can’t believe it.  I cheer her on as I pass, just as so many have done for me.  I love this sport.  I love this community.

Mile 12- My faculty mentor from work passes me and cheers me on.  It was EXACTLY the support/push I need to get through the last 2 miles.  I try to keep up with her…it lasts about 15 seconds, but i’m ok with that because she is so fast! It still pushes me to go hard the last 2 miles.

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Transition 2– I look at my watch to check my bike pace-  15 mph.  I almost cry again because that is so much faster than I have ever gone.  Thank you flat bike course!  Thank you beautiful Sylvie bike!

bike pace

Run-

I grab my Ipod and head for the run.  In all honesty, I knew my legs were completely dead going into the run.  I try to do my run/walk method of running for 1 minute, walk 30 seconds and quickly realize this is going to be a “jog 30 seconds, walk 1 minute” run.  The first part of the run is on a trail, where the shade is nice but I want to say eff this to the terrain.  There is about a mile or so on the pavement, where I run most of it!  I see people who look as miserable as I am, which instantly makes me feel better about myself.

I make sure to save a little energy to run a good pace into the finish chute, because hello! that’s where the peeps and the pics are!  I finish in a not spectacular time, but am happy to have finished, especially in the heat and humidity.  My ass is completely chaffed from my tri shorts and it hurts to pee, I cringe thinking about having to shower later.  I grab a banana and monster cookies (HOLLA GRANITEMAN, ya made me a believer with those cookies) and sit with friends for the awards ceremony.

I win a SICK pair of racing sunglasses as a door prize.  Super exciting, as I have been wearing my $3 American Flag sunglasses from target for training as of lately.

As I walk/waddle to my car, I can tell this tri has completely wrecked my digestive system due to being unprepared for the stress put on it.  Note to self from the nutrition expert side of my brain- this is why we need to train!  My drive home is glorious, as I am riding the endorphin high.  I think the drive home might be my favorite part of the triathlon experience so far, just me, windows open, reflecting and being proud of myself while blaring whatever music I choose.  I turn on some Ryn Weaver and jam.

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Showering after this triathlon is horrible…so much chaffing and soreness.  TMI: I  use desitin, YES LIKE THE KIND YOUR MOM USES ON YOU WHEN YOU ARE 6 MONTHS OLD FOR DIAPER RASH, because I literally can’t sit in a chair 4-5 hours after my triathlon.  Chaffing is God’s gift to bring you down from your high, lemme tell ya.   But pro tip– use desitin, works like a charm!

And there you have it.  Some good things and some things to work on for next time!  Super excited to get started training for SuperiorMan in Duluth, MN!

Thoughts about triathlon?

Triathlon Thursday: Things I learned from my first tri

Ahhh, so here we are.  First triathlon of the season is in a couple days!  This is only my 2nd triathlon of my lifetime, so I am still learning a ton.

However, I feel much more confident about being prepared gear wise and “what to do” wise for this triathlon than I did my first.  The training part…ehhhh, not that confident!  Thanks, vacation.

Anywwho, this Triathlon Thursday, I want to share some small pieces of advice I learned from my first tri that will be handy for my 2nd this weekend!

Some things that I know now after having a tri under my belt…

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(this was my transition area from my first triathlon last year)

When you grab pins for your bib, grab a safety pin for your timing chip that goes around your ankle.  That way it won’t fall off in the water.

DO NOT try anything new on race day.  Not even a gel, etc.  I had a couple gels I was wanting to try this weekend but since I haven’t used them in training, I don’t want to spoil my stomach on Saturday.

If you are a right-side breather on the swim, start the swim on the left side of the pack.  That way, when you are in the hustle and bustle at the beginning, you have better vision of the swimmers in your area since that’s the side you look to when you breathe.

If you are nervous about the swim, start at the back of the pack! Less congestion.

For a sprint triathlon, you don’t need a fancy tri suit.  I wore tri-shorts ($25 on REI outlet) and a $7 dry-wick tank top from Gap Outlet under my wetsuit, worked great!  I plan on wearing a similar outfit this weekend.

Bring a towel to “claim” your transition area and make everything fit on that towel.  Bring another smaller towel to help dry off after the swim.

When you transition from swim to bike, put your helmet on FIRST THING after you get your wetsuit off.  You will get DQ’d if you step anywhere on that bike course without a helmet.  Since I forget things easily, I make sure this is the first thing I put on.

It’s not as bad as it sounds or looks.  Seriously, the swim always looks farther than it is, the bike course always looks tougher than it is.  There are so many supportive people that it will fly by!

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Anyone else racing this weekend?

Since when did a 5K become hard? #realtalk

I’m running my first triathlon of the year this weekend.  It’s a sprint distance, so the distances are relatively short.  As you can all tell from my blogposts lately, I have spent the greater of this past month on vacation.  It was a decision I made without guilt, even though I knew I had a triathlon looming in the distance.

So my training actually started last week.  Terrible I know!!  This is the one thing I said I wasn’t going to do this summer was put it off, and here we are.  With my tri coming up this weekend, yesterday I decided to run a 5K to make sure I could actually still do it.

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It was hard.  I kept thinking to myself…how did I let myself get this out of shape? I used to be able to run 4-5 miles non stop with no problem!  I ended up run/walking it.  I have had good luck running for 1 minute, walking for 30 seconds, repeat.  The thing I like about this, is that it makes the time go by super fast.  I also think I’m faster by taking the breaks.  While I want to get back in shape enough to easily run the entire thing (heck, I remember during my half marathon training a couple years ago when I could run 8 miles, easy!), for now this is where I’m going to start.   I’m trying to train “smarter” not harder and avoid injury.

I know the “first steps” getting back into it are the hardest, but I am seriously lacking some motivation.

How do you start getting back into training? Any other triathlon newbies out there?

Roadtrip Recap: Favorites from 48 hours in Las Vegas

Happy Monday!  I’m up at our lake house in northern Minnesota still and for the first time, it’s gloomy!  I figured it was a perfect time to keep recapping some stop from my sister and my epic road trip.  Last week, I recapped our time in the Utah National Parks –> read that here.

After we left Zion National Park, it was a short drive to our next destiation…Las Vegas!!!!  Liz and I had never been, so it was a must stop for us.  Honestly, I guess I was surprised at how much I loved Las Vegas, although when I thought about it, all it really consisted of was gambling and eating/drinking…so what’s not to love?!

Our first day in Vegas, we rolled in with some crazy scratching noises coming from our back tires.  Not wanting to take any chances, I called a local Toyota dealer to set up an appt. the next morning to have it looked at…while we were bummed to have to spend some of our Vegas time at a car dealership, we knew that safety was a priority!  We had a wonderful experience at Findlay Toyota, as they got our car fixed quickly and were relatively straight/honest with me regarding the repairs.

But enough on that, here were the major faves from Vegas:

The Beatles Cirque De Soleil Show:

This was my first Cirque show! While there weren’t as many acrobatic acts as I would have hoped for, the choreography to all my fave Beatles songs kept me entertained!  They also included some less-popular Beatles songs, which was a nice change of pace. 284

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Fave Restaurant: Hash House A Go Go.

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OMG. Amazing.  We stopped here because my friend Shelly recommended it.  At first I was a little leary because it was a very midwestern menu, and that’s what we eat all the time so I was like, do I really want this in Vegas? But ohhhh myyyy goooshhhh.  We got the Indiana Tenderloin and it was unlike any other tenderloin I’d had.  The dishes are big enough to split so I’m glad Liz and I split this.  The creamy barbeque sauce was so unique and the mozzarella cheese was a yummy touch!

Hot Days in Vegas = Ice Cream at BLVD Creamery.

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A friend from college who lives in Vegas recommended this place to me and it was great!  Plenty of flavors to choose from and we ended up getting the ice cream sandwiches.  They have a bunch of alcohol infused sorbets here (beer, liquor, wine) and while I tried all of them, I wasn’t a huge fan of their taste, which was surprising.

The Bellagio Fountains.

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One of the most iconic things to do in Vegas, in my opinion.  The fountains exceeded my expectations, mainly because they do a different performance to a different song every 15 minutes!  One minute it was a classic “All That Jazz” and 15 minutes later it was “Bille Jean” by MJ.  At night, they are lit up like whoa. And these are fo’ free. #winning

Hexx Restaurant at Hotel Paris:

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My sis and I had heard that across the street from the Bellagio there was a great restaurant with outdoor seating so you could see the fountains.  We headed over to Hexx Restaurant and had a great view…which I somehow forgot to capture on my camera.  Womp womp.  Anyway, this restaruant is kinda pricy, but we did love their pulled pork fries with cheese curds!  It was a fabulous late nite snack while we were oooohing and aaaahhing at the fountains.

Pool Time.

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Practically all the hotels on the strip have amazing pool scenes.  We stayed at the Luxor, which had a large pool area, drink bar, and private VIP pool and area.  While the luxor is mid-range on the price scale (we got our room for $50/night on weekdays), I still realized I was out of my league when the pool attendent asked us if we wanted to rent a cabana for “250” and I seriously responded “Only $2.50?”.  Yes, I was met with a blank stare in return.  Yes, I’m pretty sure my sister was embarassed.  I don’t know what I was thinking, other than you pay 2.50 and get to share with others?! haha nothing like revealing my small-town roots!  Anyway, definitely soak up the sun for awhile at your hotel. And maybe bring your own drank, cause they are expensive!

 Things I Think You Can Skip In Vegas:

Australian Thunder Down Under. If you’re expecting what you saw in Magic Mike, think again.  While I was definitely entertained and the men were definitely good looking, they needed to go to a dance class in my opinion!  I probably would just save my $30 and put it towards the black jack table next  time.

And that’s that!  It was a fast two days!  What else are your faves in Vegas?

Did You Know? Friday: What really makes a food “spicy”?

Happy early holiday weekend!  Before we get started celebrating America’s birthday, how about some Did You Know? Friday! As a reminder, the first friday of the month, Emily from Sinful Nutrition, Amanda from Semi-Health Nut, and I bring you some solid nutrition/health information that we try to make short, sweet, and easy for everyone to understand!

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Sooooo, I don’t know about all of you, but I am a wuss when it comes to spicy and hot food.  I just learned to tolerate mild buffalo wings and mildly spiced thai food in that past couple years! On the otherhand, I have friends who just LOVE spicy foods…foods that make me cry at one taste, they can handle the heat no problem.

So what exactly gives foods the spice and heat flavor that makes some of us cringe? A mouthful of a molecule called Capsaicin.

Capsaicin is found in some peppers and binds to cell receptors in your tongue and mouth…when it binds to your receptors, is signals to your brain and you feel an intense heat and pain, depending on the capsaicin concentration.

Sooo let’s talk about peppers. Some peppers contain high levels of capsaicin. Common examples of peppers (with increasing capsaicin concentration) would be jalepeno, serrano, tabasco, and habenero peppers.  Most hot sauces that we might put on our eggs, buffalo wings, etc., are a mixture of these peppers…some sauces even contain pure capsaicin (diluted of course)!  Other foods may have chopped or dried peppers with capsaicin to add heat.    An interesting thing to note is that bell peppers do not contain any capsaicin, which is why they have a sweeter taste and very little heat.

So when you are enjoying some spicy salsa or hot wings at your barbeque’s this weekend, you can impress your family and friends with your nutrition nerd knowledge about capsaicin!  You can thank me later :)

What other questions would you want to see on Did You Know? Friday?  Go check out Em and Amanda’s posts for today and keep learning!