Roasted Brussel’s Sprouts

If you hate Brussel’s sprouts because they’re stinky, slimy, and bitter, then forget everything you know about them, and try this:

Brussel’s Sprouts (I don’t measure… just get however many you want to eat)
Apple (Fuji, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, etc- something very crispy)
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Crushed Red Pepper
Salt & Fresh ground pepper

Preheat the over to 425F. Wash sprouts & cut in half (quarter large ones), picking off any leaves that look like something you shouldn’t eat. Cut the shallot in half, then into slices. Dice the apple. Toss all of those into a bowl, then add a tablespoon or so of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add a good dose of salt & pepper, then sprinkle as much or as little crushed red pepper as you like. Toss and pour into a glass casserole dish.

Now the important part: BAKE FOR 15 MINUTES. NO MORE.

If you bake them longer, then you’ll get brown, stinky sprouts. You want green and crispy. Oh yeah- and chew your damn food and you won’t get gas. (as much)

New Trail at Nesbit Park

Well… soon-to-be new trail, at least. The guys at MSTA are in the process of extending a portion of the white trail at Bartlett/Nesbit/Stanky Creek park (choose a name… it goes by any of those). I found the trail flags and some partially cleared sections today on my run. Here’s a screen shot from Google Earth. The new section is the area circled in red.


Village Creek Sprint Adventure Race

Like I mentioned in my previous post, I decided to stick with the sprint category for my first attempt at adventure racing. This meant that the course was generally marked and required only very basic map following skills in order to confirm that you were on the proper trail.

The race started with a 5-ish mile run. Luckily, it was on the portion of the trail that included all of the steep pitches (I consider that to be lucky because I rode most of it earlier in the week, and my Garmin showed that some of the hills were in the neighborhood of 30-40% pitches- much easier to climb when you’re not pushing a mountain bike). I had already marked my main competition- a guy that won the sprint division races last year and the one earlier this year.

Funny side story… before the race, I was talking to another solo sprint guy. I told him that since no other women signed up that I’d be gunning to beat all the guys. He pointed to a guy on the other side of the parking lot and warned me that I’d OK except for that guy, because he always won by half an hour or something. I chuckled and said something along the line of, “meh, no problem.”

So, when the race started, I just set pace with “that guy.” Soon enough, going uphill, I passed him. He paced me. I eventually put a little bit of a lead on him, but my transition to the bike was somewhat slow, and we ended up leaving the transition area together. I’m not sure when I lost him, but by the time I got to the first bike checkpoint, I looked back and he was nowhere to be seen. I knew better than to take it easy at that point and kept pushing the pace. My race almost took a disastrous turn when I was crossing a creek and got massive chainsuck. I got off of my bike and tried to yank the chain out, but it the top and bottom lengths of chain were wedged in between chainrings like a sweaty fat chick in skinny jeans. Of course, about a minute later, I got passed by my mark… Soon after, I fixed the chain by using the screwdriver on my bike tool to pry it out.

I got back on my bike, determined to catch, attack, and drop. I caught up on a hill. I inched up behind him until I was about a bike length back, then pedaled as hard as I could (wanting to look un-catchable), passed him with a quickness, and bombed down the other side of the hill. This guy had some serious upper body muscle, so I knew I’d be at a disadvantage carrying and paddling the kayak in the next stage and needed all the extra time I could get.

The kayak portion generally sucked. The inflatable boats we used spin around easily in the water, but I quickly figured out how to sit in the front and get moving. The worst part was carrying the awkward, heavy boat back up the hill after paddling a mile.

Amazingly, I was still in the lead when I received instruction for the final stage- run to the swimming area of the lake, swim out to a marker, and swim back. I made the mistake of not removing my hat, sunglasses, and hydration pack, so when I got to the water, I flailed around like a drowning rat. I lost what bit of a lead I had. He exited the water just ahead of me, but headed back up the hill rather than going to the course marshall to get his passport punched, so he had to go back- giving me the few seconds I needed to get back in the lead.

At that point, it was all or nothing. I ran across a grassy field (in lieu of taking the slightly longer road). The ground there was literally like swiss cheese- some sort of burrowing animal colony had entrenched itself. I went for broke- I was thinking to myself, I’m either going to break an ankle or I’m going to win.

Luckily, option B occured. I won by about 30 seconds- 2 hours, 32 minutes & change.

Remember the guy I had talked to before the race? I talked to him later and asked if he’d thought I was joking. It was fun. I got a lot of questions after the race- where did I come from, was this really my first race, etc… it was kinda weird. The coolest thing, though, was actually getting to sit down & talk to Kurt (my “mark”) for a little while. I may actually team up with him and another guy to compete as a co-ed team at the Ouachita 12 Hour Adventure Race in October.

It was a good day.The only downside is that I got home too late to pack up and make it over to Mousetail Landing State Park in time to set up camp before dark. There’s a XC race in the morning that I had previously planned on entering, but I don’t want to wake up early and drive over, so I’m just going to do my usual 70 mile Sunday ride instead. I think my legs will be a little tired, anyway.

First Adventure Race Tomorrow

Well, I didn’t get to practice my navigation like I needed to, so I entered the Sprint division of my first adventure race rather than the advanced division where I’d have to be more proficient with plotting coordinates, counting paces, etc. It’s alright- I’m still really excited.

Of course, I was curious to know what the outcome of a race earlier in the year was- gotta see what the competition will be like, right?

Well, looking at the results from that race, I realized that there’s a very good chance that I’ll be the only woman racing in a category full of men… A quick google search reveals that the previous Solo Sprint winner is an expert-level, masters MTB racer who has also ridden across the US on a bike, not to mention won other solo sprint races from last year.

Sounds like a total creampuff to me. No problem.

Rescue Kitty

Today I brought home what will hopefully be a new member of the fur family. She is from Kitties for Keeps and was rescued when the head of the rescue saw her get tossed out of the side door of a van in a school zone one morning. She was given the name “Mishka” when they saw a Law & Order episode where the Russian mob threw a guy named Mishka out of a van.

Since she’s not Russian or male, I plan to re-name her. That is, if the dogs get used to her. Right now, they’re a little freaked out. She’s not too concerned as long as she’s on the other side of the baby gate from them, but otherwise she’s hissing & slapping them when they get too close.

Right now, I’m calling her Chunk, because she’s got a little cat head & tail, but a fat belly:





Andrea’s Magical Saddle Sore Shrinking Oinment

So somehow I’ve got the folliculitis-type saddle sore from Hell right now (well, they’re all from that general vicinity, but you get the idea). I’ve had them before and tried various ointments and whatnot, but really the best thing is to just not ride for a day or two. However, as any serious cyclist knows, that’s not always possible. In that case, I present to you, my new recipe for saddle sore shrinking ointment…

Equal parts of the following:
PRID Drawing Salve (it smells gross and is really thick & greasy)
Preparation H Hemorrhoid Cream
1% Hydrocortisone Cream
Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Cream (careful- it will bleach any fabric it’s absorbed into)
If you’ve got broken skin: Triple Antibiotic Ointment (if the skin isn’t broken, then infection isn’t as much of a concern, so leave it out)

Mix all of these together. The drawing salve it tough to incorporate, but it’s important, so make sure it’s in there. Now, slather a thick layer over your (clean) saddle sore and cover it with a bandaid. Yes- put a bandaid over it… otherwise it just rubs off on your clothes. This may require some shaving and creative taping. Do what you have to do.

Then, just wait. Within a few hours, it should shrink down and not hurt nearly as badly. That’s not to say you’re cured- if you go and ride with an active saddle sore, it’s not going to heal very quickly if at all. However, this combination will really knock the swelling/pain down between rides. Good luck!

Please… just 4 more hours…

Yesterday’s “Cat Smacker” run was tough- 7200 feet of elevation gain in about 20.5 miles. I was happy to run it in just over 4 hours.

So, with approximately 8 hours of the Ouachitas in my legs over the past two days, I’m pretty beat today. Time to wrap the weekend up with a 70 mile bike ride. My legs are protesting this descision. I told them that if they just get me through it, I promise they’ll get an ice bath when we get home.

Not only did they give me 70 more miles, they gave me a kickass sprint at the end of Watkins mid-ride. Thank you, legs!

Afternoon in the Ouachitas

This morning, I left behind Ryan (who was on his way to Tulsa Tough) to go to Lake Sylvia for some forest road MTBing and a bit of trail running tomorrow morning. I ended up setting up camp and rolling out around 2:00.

I had my Garmin 205 with me, so it’s easy to describe my ride today in objective terms: ~35 miles, 9.9 mph average speed, 8844ft of climbing, 3.5hours rolling time.

I can’t really describe it otherwise. Beautiful is an understatement. Here are some photos:

North Fork Saline River






Remove shoes/socks, wade through thigh-deep creek, stop for a snack on the other side while feet dry off...

I've passed this overlook "road" many times, but never ventured up until today

The ride up made the view at the top even more excellent


Can I stay here forever?

And for my NEXT trick… (and motivational rant/speech)

I think I’ll run a 23 mile trail (er, forest road) race (The Catsmacker). Sure, I doubt I’ve run more than 10 miles since the Ouachita 50k, but I keep telling myself:

It’s only 23 miles.”

And, no matter how hard I think about it, I cannot see the absurdity of this statement. I know that it’s almost a marathon, that rocks on the forest roads are hard on the joints, that the hills will be long and hot… I honestly think it’s not going to be that big of a deal. Sure, I’ll be sore, but that’s to be expected.

I’ll run ~7 miles today and probably throw in a couple more before the weekend. I think I’m gonna leave early on Friday and do some MTB riding from Lake Sylvia since my last attempt at doing so resulted in massive amounts of FAIL when I arrived to the campsite only to find it closed until the next weekend.

So yes, I plan on riding a bike for upwards of 4 hours on Friday and following it up with a difficult 23 mile run on Saturday. I’ve been thinking about stuff like this for a while. It goes without saying that the general population of people who don’t exercise on a regular basis are dumbfounded by just the thought of riding a bike a couple of hours or even running more than a few miles. However, I’ve grown increasingly aware of the fact that even some of my active “peers” view some of my outings as extraordinary.

I disagree. I think you’re all capable.

I think that everyone has their own standards of what’s “possible.” As long as you have these standards, you view anyone who surpasses them is doing something “crazy” or “amazing.” You’re also setting limits for yourself when you have such standards because, to you, such things are “impossible.” So I’m writing this to encourage everyone who reads it to open their minds a bit and stop thinking in terms of what is within your perception of “normal” physiological limitations and start exploring just how hard you can push yourself. Go ahead- do some two-a-days. Go for a ride or run that’s twice the distance that you’ve ever gone. Do those things on back to back days. Hell, do them on the same day. My point is, stop limiting yourself to the accepted standards of what’s “possible” or “normal.” You can be better than that.