1 Week To Go

The TOUR is over, but sadly my class is not : (

 

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Even though I’m back in class tomorrow, I stayed up a little later than expected tonight to watch the exciting finish to the Tour de France.  It was fun to view this impressive race over the past three weeks, and I have a whole new knowledge and appreciation for this international spectacle.  I am all hyped up for the Olympics and more importantly, my first (and most likely only) triathlon of the summer next Sunday!

 

Although this weekend has not been ideal for training (or blogging), I have been able to get in some bike rides (Hello Bike Commuter!) and runs.  I am slacking on the swimming (story of my life), but since there is no expectations or pressure for this race, I’m not stressed, just excited!

 

Speaking of stressed, spending 6 days in class (instead of my usual 3 day weekend) has been rough on me.  Luckily, the BOY was in charge of dinner tonight, and he prepared us an amazing dinner or shrimp fajitas.  He made one spicy version using a salsa pepper from my friend’s garden and one less spicy.

 

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Both were incredible!  We combined them with grilled veggies…

 

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And added in the fixin’s needed for a tasty dinner!

 

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We even had enough leftovers for me to take for lunch tomorrow.  For dessert, we had a special treat.  The red, white, and blue bottle was awesome looking and the champagne even better!

 

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Since I’m in charge of the course breakfast tomorrow, I made a fruit salsa and by request, some fig and date bars tonight before settling in to fold some laundry and finish the tour.

 

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The fig bars also made a great dessert tonight!

I apologize for post of random thoughts, but that is just where my brain is at right now.  I think they call that fried!  Only two more days of class and then two more days of work and then we are off to Wisconsin for the triathlon weekend.  Hooray!

 

 

Race Countdown: 1 week to Triathlon Time!!!

Commuter

I have a serious desire to be the type of person who commutes by bike instead of wasting countless hours behind the wheel of my car.  With 30 miles separating my work from my home, this isn’t a realistic option.  However, when it came time to planning for this week (Thursday-Tuesday) in class including my reservation to stay with the P’s and carpool with my coworker, I jumped at the chance to ride my bike.  Although class is 15 miles away, my coworker lives only 6 miles from my parents.  Since I needed to get in some biking in anticipation for next weekend’s triathlon and time would be tight, riding to my friend’s house sounded perfect!  I planned ahead packing up my bike and my bike gear, and last night, I set everything out so I”d be ready for this morning’s commute.

 

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Over breakfast, I planned out my path with a few alternatives.  Luckily, I know my way around town pretty well, so I had a few options to choose from.

 

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I also explored the new Map My Ride Ap that I recently downloaded after watching hours of the Tour de France.  This super cool application allows you to track your bike route via GPS.  At the end of your ride, it will tell you your distance, speed, miles, and calories (although I’m not sure how accurate this is).  I easily hooked up the ap to my Google account.  I pushed the green play button before my ride, and by the end I had a map, pictures, and stats.  I’m sure it does even more, and I can’t wait to figure it all out.

 

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I was (surprisingly) able to fit all my clothes, face wash, and a snack into a pack on my back (although taking a picture of this proved to be more difficult than expected).

 

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I prepped my bike, and hit the road.  Since I didn’t know what to expect for the ride, I brought my hybrid so I wouldn’t have to clip in and out often at the stoplights and could handle the bumps along the way.

 

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It was the perfect morning for a bike ride.  Many degrees cooler than it’s been all summer with a comfortable breeze and cloudy sky.  Just 1 mile into my ride, the sun was starting to emerge, so I stopped to put on my sunglasses and take a few pictures of the lake.  With the dry weather and the leaves on the ground, it almost looked (and felt) like fall!

 

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Who wouldn’t want this view on their morning commute???  It was a real treat!  A few miles into my ride the BOY called, and I was able to chat with him briefly while I maneuvered my way the along the path with a few other riders.  I rode the 6 plus miles to my friend’s in under 30 minutes and took a few extra minutes to enjoy a ride through their neighborhood before pulling into her driveway.

 

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It was easy and quick to wash my face, change my clothes, and be ready for a ride to class.  We had a long day of learning, but by the time class was over, the sun was shining and the weather was gorgeous.  I was definitely looking forward to my Friday commute home (which is a far cry from how I usually feel on Friday workday afternoons).  For my trip home, I took a different route.  There wasn’t as much sidewalk as I had expected, so I wandered my way through some local neighborhood roads.  I hit one dead end before finding a shortcut that I haven’t seen since my junior high cross country days. I was happy to have my hybrid instead of my road bike to handle the bumps, turns, and off road experiences.

At one of the bigger intersections, I stopped for some water and had to laugh to myself watching as the cars zipped by since usually that is me sprinting for home!  From the side of the road, I had a strong appreciation for this leisurely ride back to my parents.

 

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I took an extra lap around the lake enjoying the fresh air and the cool breeze.

 

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The lake was filled with walkers, riders, rollerbladers, runners, sailors, and even some guys kayaking along the water.  I tried to take a few photos on the go while holding on tight with my other hand.

 

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It was an awesome ride home, and I loved every minute of it!

 

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I forgot to reset my bike computer before making my way home and was pleased to see that I had gotten in a 15 mile ride today.  It didn’t even feel like a workout, yet my heart was pumping and I was sweaty.

 

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I definitely worked up an appetite for dinner by the time I made it back to my parents. 

Look at my post-bike ride glow!!!  This is the face of a happy commuter!

 

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To complete my healthy, earth friendly day, dinner started with a salad topped with fresh cucumbers and tomatoes from my close friend’s garden.  This fresh salad (complete with my CSA greens) was crisp and delicious!

 

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It was the perfect pre-dinner salad, and I’m looking forward to taking my leftovers for lunch tomorrow.  If you have to spend all weekend in class, it is important to have an awesome lunch!  Sadly, there will not be any leftover salmon for tomorrow as my Mom and I devoured the entire piece.

 

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After dinner, my mom and I took a stroll through the neighborhood, but first we stopped to check out my parent’s garden.  My dad wanted me to scope out his zucchini plant, and my mom was impressed with her peppers.

 

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It really is a great looking garden, and I just can’t wait to get my hands on some of those zucchinis!  With all of the stress of work and school and life, it was such a treat to be able to unwind on my laid back commute home.  Although I’m not sure when I will be able to take my bike to work/class again, I’m hoping to work something out soon!  Or at least take the bike to some local stores in my neighborhood….anything to spend less time in my car.

 

Here is what I learned from today’s journey…

 

The negatives of commuting by bike:

-I didn’t get in a pre work wake up shower

-It takes a little bit of planning

-It is hard to carry anything big with you

 

The positives of commuting by bike:

-Less pollution

-Decreased stress

-I loved the fresh air!

-Much better view

-I was able to get in 15 miles of riding

-I worked off this afternoon’s latte which was necessary to keep me awake through neurophys

 

The most important things about commuting by bike (except for the helmet, of course) is having a plan and being confident on the roads.  I can’t wait to do it again!

 

Have you ever commuted by bike?

Do you have any biking aps that you use?

 

 

For more bike commuting fun, you have to check out these blogs…

EcoVelo is all about sheek bikers on the go.

BikeyFace is a hilarious cartoon version exploring the world of commuting by bike.  Any time you are having a rough day, check out this blog for a good laugh, including this illustration of the biker’s wardrobe!

Fig, Date, Nut Energy Bars

So I can’t believe how much I liked these Date Bars.  They have the perfect texture, and they are sweet and filling.  I have been talking about them non-stop and have shared the recipe with everyone that I know will listen. 

Have you tried them yet?  What do you think?

 

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Well, I was so inspired by these bars that I went out and got more ingredients to make a double batch.  And this time, I added a few things.

 

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Like dried figs!!! 

 

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I may have processed my dried fruit a little too long, and I have to admit that just the dried fruit tasted fantastic all on it’s own.

 

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But even better with the addition of nuts and coconut!!!

 

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With a a drizzle of agave to pull everything together…

 

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These incredible bars are complete and full of protein, healthy fats, and energy.   They come together quickly, which is perfect as the temperatures are back up in the no bake zone!

 

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The bars need about 2 hours in the fridge.  I suggest finding something to do to keep yourself busy because you will want to be sneaking bites.  One suggestion…checking out some of my favorite recipes!

 

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When they are set, these bars have the same great texture of the plain date bars…

 

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But the added fig flavor, which I LOVE!

 

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Can you say…new favorite energy bars?!

 

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I thought that the date bars were good, but this version turned out even better!

 

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I shared a few bars with my coworkers today who were all super impressed and excited to make their own batch!  No joke…you need to try these!  I will definitely be packing up a batch to bring to class starting Thursday.  I know that I will need the energy to make it through the weekend!

 

 

What is your favorite homemade energy snack?

It would be great to get a collection going, so please share your links!

 

 

 

Fig, Date, Nut Energy Bars

Makes 12 bars

 

1 cup dried figs, roughly chopped

1 cup dates, pitted and roughly chopped

1 cup raw cashews

1 cup raw almonds

1/4 cup coconut

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp cinnamon

Agave, maple syrup, or honey (optional)

 

Place the figs and dates in your food processor just until combined.

Add in nuts, coconut, salt, and cinnamon.  Pulse until everything is combined and a sticky dough is created.  If the bars remain dry, then stream in 1-2 tsp of agave, maple syrup, or honey if desired to help the bars stick together.

Remove the dough and press into an 8×8 inch square pan lined with parchment paper.

Refrigerate for ~2 hours until set.  Cut into bars and store in the fridge.  They won’t last long!

 

Note: Get creative with this forgiving recipe.  You can add quinoa, dried fruit, chocolate, flax etc.  If the mixture is try, then add in some oil or syrup to help everything stick together.

 

Also, I haven’t tried it yet, but I have a feeling these bars will freeze well.  Enjoy!

Lately, I’ve been…

I borrowed this creative post idea from Emily over at A Nutritionist Eats.  It is a fun way to keep ya’ll posted on what I’ve been up to. 

So lately, I’ve been…

Working way too hard!

 

Obsessed with the Tour de France

 

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Going to 1st birthday parties

 

Drinking a lot of iced tea

 

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Training for a triathlon

 

Dreading next weekend in class

 

Shopping at the Farmer’s Market

 

Picking up rockn’ new shoes for my Mom

 

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Excited about the BOY’s new job

 

Making colorful fruit salads

 

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Lazy about reading books

 

Contemplating next year’s vacation

 

What have you been up to lately?

Blueberry Muffin Bread French Toast

So….I probably shoulda, coulda, woulda gone to yoga this morning.  EXCEPT…that I needed to meet my mom at 10AM for a ride into the city, and the BOY and I were super excited about turning yesterday’s Blueberry Muffin Bread into French toast.  And when I say super excited, I mean skip 8AM yoga excited!!! 

 

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It was hard to keep my fingers away from this bread before I went out for my morning run.  I needed to get in some exercise before this busy day, so I threw on my Will Run for Blueberry Bread blue RUN shirt and laced up my shoes making my way to the hills along the path.

 

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I didn’t realize how hot and humid it was.  By the time I dragged my jello legs (thanks to yesterday’s 28 mile bike ride) up to the top of the first hill, I was covered in sweat.  I ran just under 40 minutes before finding my way back home with French toast on the brain. 

 

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The BOY was awake and ready for the breakfast we’ve been talking about all weekend! 

 

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I made a fairly typical French toast…nothing fancy here.  I stated by combining the eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon in a deep bowl.  I pulled out my hand mixer in order to create a light and fluffy egg mixture.

 

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I dunked thick slices of Blueberry Muffin Bread into the egg, letting it sit, and soak up all the flavors!

 

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And then placed the dripping bread on a heated skillet.

 

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The thick slices of bread made the perfect base for this warm, rich, breakfast favorite!

 

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The BOY dug right in, enjoying every sweet bite.

 

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By the time I sat down to eat my breakfast, we were all out of forks.  Luckily, I was able to find a plastic one in pantry or I would have been eating my breakfast with my fingers.  This French toast is just THAT good!

 

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Either that or I would have just licked this restaurant worthy breakfast straight off of my plate!

 

 

Thank you to DD&D and of course Chaps Restaurant for inspiring this spectacular meal!

Is your mouth watering yet???  You have to check out this Blueberry Muffin Bread recipe!

 

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Dinner Spotlight-Chicken Parmesan Burgers

I discovered this recipe for Chicken Parmesan Burgers on Healthy Food for Living over a year ago.  Lauren’s blog was one of the first that I started following when I was just getting involved in the blogger world.  I was so impressed when this reader recipe appeared Cooking Light a few days later.  I made it immediately and since then, it has been one of the BOY and my favorite quick and satisfying dinners.

 

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It only takes a few ingredients and less than 30 minutes to create these flavorful burgers.

 

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Since the BOY planned to spend the day in the library, I told him that I would be in charge of dinner.  We haven’t had these burgers in a little while (because we’ve been eating everything off the grill), so they were my first choice to make for dinner.

 

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We opened up one of our wine club whites to pair with tonight’s dinner.  And in honor of our trip to Door Country next month, I pulled out my favorite DC wine glasses.

 

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They BOY had the full Chicken Parm sandwich on a fresh ciabatta roll from Whole Foods.

 

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Dripping with sauce and oozing with cheese, this burger really is the best!

 

 

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I decided to top my burger with fresh avocado, which was a fantastic idea, if I do say so myself!

 

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Along with a side of lemon garlic asparagus and brown rice, I was thrilled to sit down and dig into my dinner.

 

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And my glass of wine.  Although after this afternoon’s BRICK, my legs are a bit sore every time I get up to refill my glass.  But at least I know that I earned every sip : )  Along with the dark chocolate square I had for dessert.  Now it’s time to sit back and finally work my way through the 10 episodes of Girls that I have saved on DVR.

 

Looking for more healthy Italian?  Here is my all time favorite quick and healthy Chicken Parmesan recipe!

 

 

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

Recipe from Healthy Food for Living

Serves 2

 

Ingredients

1/2 lb ground chicken

1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp marinara sauce of choice, divided

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

a few grinds black pepper

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp rosmary

2 slices low-moisture park-skim mozzarella cheese (or 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, divided)

2 individual square ciabatta rolls

olive oil cooking spray

garlic powder

 

Directions

Lay two pieces of plastic wrap (about 6 inches x 6 inches) on the counter.

In a medium bowl, combine the ground chicken, 1/3 cup marinara sauce, and seasonings. Gently stir with a rubber spatula just until combined. Using the rubber spatula, divide the mixture evenly between the two pieces of plastic wrap. Fold the excess plastic wrap around each patty, gently forming the patties into squares to fit the rolls. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so. Remove the chicken patties and let sit at room temperature for about 5-10 minutes before cooking.

Heat a cooking spray-coated non-stick skillet over medium/medium-high heat. Unwrap the burger patties and carefully drop them into the hot skillet. Cook the burgers for 5 minutes, flip, and cook for another 4 minutes (you may need to add a few more sprays of cooking oil before the flip). Top burgers with mozzarella cheese, tent with aluminum foil, remove from heat, and let sit for 1-2 minutes.

While the burgers are cooking, cut the ciabatta rolls in half. Spray each half with cooking spray, then sprinkle with garlic powder. Toast for 2-3 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Spoon 1 Tbsp of the remaining marinara sauce onto one half of each roll.

When the burgers are fully cooked (juices run clear when gently pressed) and the cheese has melted, sandwich the burgers between the garlic bread roll halves and serve.

 

Note: I typically buy the ground chicken at Whole Foods where they have all white meat ground chicken that you can buy in smaller increments.

Let’s Call It a Tie

This morning’s winner…Blueberry Muffin Bread

This afternoon’s winner…Biking

Final Ruling…It’s a Tie!

 

The BOY reluctantly headed off to the library to work on Law School stuff, and somehow despite the decadent breakfast and my strong desire to sit on my couch and watch the Tour de France all day, I motivated myself into workout clothes and out the front door (well actually I used the garage door).  But either way, it was an accomplishment.  Typically if I don’t get out first thing in the morning, then it’s hard for me to get out for an intense workout.

 

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Maybe it was these brand new socks that I found on sale and wanted to trial before the triathlon.

 

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Or all of the biking I’ve been watching on TV. 

Either way, I loaded up my bike to hit the road for an undetermined distance. I was a little nervous that I might get hungry on the ride after having a not-so-typical (but super yummy) pre workout breakfast, so I packed up a Bonk Breaker bar.  This bar was given to me by a friend who is a huge fan.  I have had the PB version before, but I was eager to try the fig flavor.  What impresses me the most about these bars is their natural ingredient list.

 

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The bar looked a bit like a Fig Newton (bonus!) and I sliced it up to keep in my bento for the ride.  One goal of this ride was to practice refueling on the bike in prep for my tri in a two weeks.

 

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As I’m mounting my bike and about to hit the road, I realized that I forgot my sunglasses.  I ran back inside to grab them, snap a photo and then finally hit the road in full gear!

 

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My thought for today’s bike ride first was to just get out the door. Once I managed that I decided to head east to another forest preserve path that’s about 10 miles away.  I haven’t gone along this route in awhile, but I used to use these back roads to ride my bike to the gym.  The start of my ride was quite literally bumpy!  The path and roads were not so smooth, and I rode up and down for a bit before finding a calm road to take me east.  These quiet neighborhood streets really aren’t great for a road bike, but I was in the mood for a change in scenery.  It was a 10 mile ride to the path, and I arrived feeling stronger than I expected after my slow start to the day.

 

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The negative of this 7.7 miles forest preserve path is that it is almost always crowded. 

But the positives are the beautiful scenery…

 

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The flat and shaded path…

 

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And the elk!

 

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I elbowed my way to the front of the fence…not really, but I did pull up next to a dad with his two young kids who were also checking out the elk.  The dad looked at me funny as I explained that I was stopping to take some pictures.  I’m always interested in the wildlife during my rides, even when they’re not so wild : )

 

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I’ve run this path numerous times including during my pre marathon 20 miler, but I haven’t biked it recently.  I was happy for the change and the camaraderie of the other bikers and runners.  I even saw a guy rocking the Team SKY jersey.  I decided to try a different route back home taking a more popular rode instead winding through some of the neighborhoods.  Bad decision!  The sidewalk was awful, twisty and I had to duck branches.  The road was crowded with drivers who don’t know how to share the road and covered in big potholes.  I had a nice little adventure dodging obstacles the entire way.  As I made it back to our street after a 28 mile ride, a dark cloud was just rolling in.

 

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I made a snap decision to turn my bike ride into a BRICK and quickly went inside to change shoes to take these muddy legs out for a short run.

 

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15 minutes later, I was back home having finished my BRICK (115 minute ride/15 minute run).  Hooray for me!  This morning, I wasn’t sure if I would even change out of my jamies, and now I was exhausted and ready to dig into some lunch.

 

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I made it home a few minutes after the BOY who was taking a study break for lunch.  He had quite the operation set up when I walked through the door.

 

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I managed to get my tuna sandwich put together just before a dark cloud began dumping buckets of rain over our house.

 

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After a 2 hour workout, I was ready for some food and a little more couch time.

 

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And it was perfect timing to be back indoors!

 

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I was pleased with my successful workout…especially since I am two weeks away from my triathlon and nervous about getting in rides while I am in class next weekend.  So happy that my Saturday had a good mix of Blueberry Bread followed by some Biking!!!