Category Archives: Tack Trunk Tuesday

What’s in that Swim Bag?

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What’s in that Swim Bag?

My recent blog post about swim goggles splashed up several good questions from friends planning their first open water Triathlons, so I thought one more post about swim preparations would be refreshing. If you have absolutely no interest in open water adventures, you might want to skip this one.

Sooooooo, inquiring minds want to know, what’s in my swim bag? Here’s a little secret, I use the same swim bag for pool swims as I do for open water swims. My wetsuit came with its own bag, so it’s on its own. Once I get used to the contents in my swim bag, I change absolutely nothing during the season. I always workout and race with the same stuff. If something breaks, gets lost or I eat it, I replace it with the same stuff. For me, change equals the dreaded ‘p’ word. I like to avoid that.

What’s not in my swim bag? A swim buddy. Never ever, ever, ever Never (that could be a new jingle?) swim in open water without a swim buddy! You’ll need someone who is willing to swim beside you and not let you drift away (it happens!). Someone who will tell you with a straight face that the slimy matter twisted up in your toes is really weeds. Someone to remind you to breathe in and out slowly. That’s important. I enjoy swimming in pods (group swims) with my Tri club because we have experienced open water swimmers willing to offer tips and sometimes kayak support. Kayak support is the greatest! Someone to watch over the pod, the weather, and for motor boats/jet skis. There is also the matter of food. Eating with the pod after swimming is the best part especially if it turns in to a beach party!

I actually learned how to swim in open water at a golf course – before it opened and golfers started yelling, Fore! Crazy as that sounds, the small watering hole was comforting and it was easy to get from one side to the other while chatting with friends. Confidence builder! I believe I also attempted my first wetsuit swim here. Being close to the shoreline as my wetsuit (which was way too big) rapidly inflated with water and took on fishy was ideal. There was lots of water in that wetsuit. I could have swam inside of it.

The best advice I received before attempting open water was to achieve my skills and distance in the pool first. I find open water swimming to be completely different than pool swims, but confidence, good form and strength is transferable. Once that was established, I took the plunge. With my swim buddies, of course!

I was still a bit nervous, so I brought along my trusty yellow ‘duck feet’ aka short fins that I use for the pool. Sometimes too much. Beware, you can’t race with them and ideally you shouldn’t be able to hide them in your wetsuit. Not that I’ve tried. My experienced swimming friends say ‘do whatever makes you comfortable’.  Comfortable also includes staying alert of ever changing conditions (environmental/physical) and sighting. I’ve never had an issue with sighting because I prefer to swim with my head up like a sea turtle. I am hoping that habit will dissolve this year. I’ve built up considerable core strength and have worked on my relaxation techniques. We shall sea. Ha!

The more time I spend in open water the more I acclimate, but I’ve improved my actual swimming by joining the pod, swimming in various watering holes, signing up for clinics and 1 mile open water races. I’ve also started swimming at the pool on Thursdays at 5:00 am with my super talented swim buddies. Why 5:00 am at dark o’clock? I think it’s a good idea to mimic race day situations. I don’t have Triathlons starting at noon. And if you have friends with lots of swimming experience who make swimming both fun and challenging, you’ll show up at 5:00 am.

So what’s in my swim bag? I’ll spill out the contents and the sand…

Swim bag loot!

My loot includes swim caps collected from various races, my favorite tie dye cap (it’s good to be super visible when the top of your head is the only thing visible), a turtle towel, no drip sunscreen, fins, goggles – tinted and clear, anti-fog lens spray, dry ear drops, gels, hair ties, extra contact lenses, water resistant swim drills book (I also write out my workouts on sticky notes) in a Ziploc bag. Absent are my post workout clothes, bottled water and saltine crackers.

questions?

Tack Trunk Tuesday

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Tack Trunk Tuesday

I am back in the swim of things!

I sure do love my new specs!

I sure do love my new specs!

I started my Triathlon Sprint/Olympic distance training plan last week. I was off to a swimmingly good start until wham, bam, pow the unexpected ice tornado of the century hits our small town overnight and suddenly we are without electricity (and upright trees with limbs!) for 2 very stressful days. Some people are still without electricity! I question how anyone exercised in the 1800’s, I am pretty sure they had absolutely zero time for such frills after hunting down their food (Bojangles) and washing their clothes by hand in (bath) tubs. Not to mention shivering through layers of blankets while they sat by their (gas) fire logs without a blower fan. I’ve seen photos of women swimming in their dresses and corsets. I wonder if corsets are similar to the constriction I feel in my wetsuit? The wetsuit is really just a modern day corset. Thought for your Tuesday.

I hit the pool yesterday and swam an easy (slow) 1400 yds.  I was testing out some new equipment for this season.  I own many pairs of swimming goggles more than my glasses and sunglasses combined. Why you ask? Because my goggle specifications for the pool are totally different than the ones I have for tackling the high maintenance of open water. If I have the wrong goggles for the occasion my swim becomes a beast.  I have 3 tints for open water depending on how brightly the sun smiles and the water color which I won’t discuss here.  Another consideration is whether or not I want to see fishy and snakes?

I recently purchased a pair of the most tranquil blue tinted swimming goggles EVER to make the water look similar to the Caribbean sea and it works!  I was relaxed and sleepy. Sleepy is good for me in open water because I have less energy to freak the freak out.  Magnificent after I figured out how to put them on properly so they would stop filling up rapidly with water.  The lettering on the straps should not read upside down no matter how right that may look.  Trust me.

And when someone in the lane beside you says ‘flip’, it’s possible they are not referring to your fancy flip turn. Just saying.

Tack Trunk Tuesday

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Everyone has a comfort food list.  I am certain that our lists have some similarities because your list probably includes food you ate as a child.  Food that evokes incredible memories and calms your senses.  I don’t view this as a slippery slope when these foods are reintroduced occasionally.  Sometimes just a few bites puts my life back in balance.  Sometimes it’s just a few bits.  Sometimes.

My comfort foods are associated with events.  My mom supported my horse shows the best way she knew how with homemade goodies – oh the comfort! – for the rumbly in my tumbly.  It was always brownies and hermits.  Always.  Mom knew that consistency ruled!

When I started swimming longer distances this year for my Triathlons, I encountered a similar nervous tummy.  There is a laundry list of foods I refuse to eat before swimming and so what is left, is …essentially nothing.  There was nothing that I could eat or drink except water before submerging myself into a lake and swimming over a mile.  Excellent.  I’ve literally tried forcing things down my throat and that doesn’t work.

My comfort food list for the save!  Hooray!  I’ve found that I can pop a couple of hermits and have a stellar performance because I am not passing out from low blood sugar.

Here is the recipe for my mom’s hermits (essentially an old fashioned spice cookie).  I’ve included a few of my own modifications that were inspired by my friends.  It’s really a granola bar in a cookie costume.

Mom’s Hermits

1/2 cup of butter

3/4 cup of brown sugar

1/2 tsp of baking soda

1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp of fresh ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp of ground cloves

1 egg (hand gathered are best!)

2 tbsp of milk

1 tsp of vanilla

1 1/2 cup of flour (I use a combo of wheat & unbleached from a local mill)

1 mixed cup of dried cranberries, dried blueberries, dried cherries, raisins, chopped dates and orange peel (really whatever you like!)

1/2 cup of walnuts (heart healthy!)

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed beat butter with brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Should look really fluffy!  Beat in egg, milk and vanilla.  Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer.  Stir in remaining flour, mixed cup and nuts.

Drop on a greased cookie sheet by rounded spoonfuls.  Bake at 375 for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly brown.

Enjoy!

Tack Trunk Tuesday

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Welcome to Tack Trunk Tuesday!  I don’t own a fancy wooden custom tack trunk with my name embossed on the front, but I am always intrigued by what other people chose to store in them; therefore, I present to you…drumroll, please…my very own virtual tack trunk.  Once or twice a month on Tuesday I’ll add an item to my virtual tack trunk that I think is very cool and worth sharing.  I tend to blend my sports, so it won’t always be horse-related as the title might imply.  If you have a favorite item you think I should know about, please comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

Since the beginning of time I’ve queried my husband about his ever-expanding collection of bungee cords.  Some of them have been around longer than we’ve been married.  I often find them slithering beyond the confines of the garage.  They can hold up mirrors, stabilize flat screen TV’s and attach propane tanks to outdoor heaters.  They’re everywhere!

As we were strapping down our Christmas tree in the back of the truck using various sizes of bungee cords from the multiplying collection, I wondered if I should ‘borrow’ some for my own tack trunk.  What’s a few missing bungee cords?

Winter time = joys of horse blanketing.  My horse often displays the prowess of her aerobatic limbs while rolling on the ground trying to become one with the earth.  It’s fun and games until all of her legs position themselves on the same side of the elastic leg straps which are attached to most horse blankets.  I’ve tried multiple knitting-of-the straps variations and most successfully ended up giving her a wedgie.  There must be a better solution to leg straps for this horse.  Enter bungee cord.  One with plastic snaps and a clear plastic coating.  Instead of leg straps, a tail cord.  Delightful.  Cue bungee dance! (I’ll post that a bit later).

Multiple use bungee cord

Introducing the multipurpose bungee cord

It might be time for me to develop a whole new appreciation for the bungee cord and a resolution to start my own collection.

Happy New Year Everyone!  Welcome 2014!

Tack Trunk Tuesday

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Welcome to Tack Trunk Tuesday!  I don’t own a fancy wooden custom tack trunk with my name embossed on the front, but I am always intrigued by what other people chose to store in them; therefore, I present to you…drumroll, please…my very own virtual tack trunk.  Once or twice a month on Tuesday I’ll add an item to my virtual tack trunk that I think is very cool and worth sharing.  I tend to blend my sports, so it won’t always be horse-related as the title might imply.  If you have a favorite item you think I should know about, please comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

Is the hustle and bustle already getting to you?  It gets to me too.  I’ve decided this year to not get stressed during the holiday season.  I was reminded the other day that it is in fact a choice.  One of the ways I’ve taught myself to avoid stress is by doing something fun and out of the ordinary with friends.  It’s about making memories regardless of how imperfect.  Growing up in the land of ice and snow, I’ve learned to appreciate outdoor ice skating parties which are really an opportunity to show off your warmest most stylish toque (translation knit hat or toboggan).

As I recommend to my friends who grew up in the land of sun and swimming pools, your ice skating kit must also include flexible padded pants and waterproof insulated gloves.  Scarves are risky.  While we are on the topic, some advice for the moms out there, don’t be tempted to dress your child up like a pink elephant.  It has lasting impact.  I added that because mom is reading this entry.  Hi mom!

Outdoor ice skating parties are so inclusive.  You can rent skates that already have lots of scuff/paint marks, there is loud nondescript rock music playing, heavily watered down outrageously hot chocolate in flimsy foam cups (those waterproof insulated gloves are not actually used for ice skating) and comedy hour for those who don’t skate.  For anyone willing to try, but has not yet mastered the art of upright on ice skates, bring/borrow a child and help them navigate the rink while pushing the skating ‘shopping cart’ aid.  You may unexpectedly pick up a few new friends along the way.  If you want to look super cool, wear a professional hockey team jersey.  Afterwards eat a hearty dinner at a local restaurant while sitting or sometimes standing.  I recommend chicken and waffles.  Together.  The perfect balance of protein and carbohydrates or rather carbohydrates and protein.

I promise you this is the ultimate ‘I am not getting stressed this year’ package all bundled up.

Tack Trunk Tuesday

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Welcome to Tack Trunk Tuesday!  I don’t own a fancy wooden custom tack trunk with my name embossed on the front, but I am always intrigued by what other people chose to store in them; therefore, I present to you…drumroll, please…my very own virtual tack trunk.  Once or twice a month on Tuesday I’ll add an item to my virtual tack trunk that I think is very cool and worth sharing.  I tend to blend my sports, so it won’t always be horse-related as the title might imply.  If you have a favorite item you think I should know about, please comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

I’ll initiate the tack trunk packing process with my homemade trail blazing granola bars.  This is a recipe I found on the internet years ago.  It’s forgiving, adaptable and portable, so I think that is why I like it so much.  I tried to find similar energy bars in the grocery store that would curb my ‘I want to eat my T-shirt now’ hunger pains, but didn’t find anything comparable or without at least one ingredient I didn’t recognize.  I am by no means a food perfectionist, but I do like quality when it comes to re-fueling my body.  Growing up my mom would say if we wanted a treat bad enough we should be willing to make it ourselves.  I learned how to make at a very young age.  I still prefer to make rather than buy when I have the time to do so.

So the trick to this recipe is using the raw ingredients that you like.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Add parchment paper to an 8 x 12-inch baking dish and set aside.  Toss together 2 cups of old-fashioned oatmeal, 1 cup of sliced almonds (or any nut you prefer, I like pecans) and 1 cup of coconut.  If you don’t like coconut, add extra oatmeal.

Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until lightly toasted.

Pour into a large mixing bowl and stir in 1/2 cup of bran or wheat germ.

Chop up your dried fruit.  You can use almost anything as long as you have 1 cup of dried fruit mixture plus 1/2 cup of chopped pitted dates.  I used 1/2 cup of apricots, 1/4 cup of cranberries and 1/4 cup of golden raisins.

Here is the cooking part.  Put 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 2/3 cup of local honey (mine was race swag), 1/4 cup of brown sugar (or less if you prefer), 1 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.

Cook and stir for one minute until everything dissolves then pour into the large mixing bowl.  Add your chopped dried fruit.  My hubby strongly suggests that you also add a handful or 2 of dark chocolate chips.  These will melt as you blend everything together.  Don’t worry!

From the large mixing bowl into the baking dish.  Spread out evenly and press down gently.  Bake at 300 degrees F for 25-30 minutes.  Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours at room temperature.  This is the hardest part of the recipe.

Cut into squares or eat the entire thing, your choice.  If you are planning to store them in a container, separate the layers with parchment paper or you will end up with a giant granola bar.  Really it’s up to you!

Enjoy! 🙂