Week 51

Race Planning

There are soooo many things that go into organizing a 5K…where to put the barricades, how many ports potties to order, how much water to have at each water stop…. My favorite part of the planning is the actual race design which happens almost the second last year’s race is over.

I was feeling a little out of ideas for this year’s race. How could I come up with another original design that would keep everyone coming back to run for doughnuts. I asked my favorite tattoo designer, Anna Waycoff, if she would be interested in creating artwork for this year’s race. She was in! Then, over a post run coffee at the picnic table with Roselynn, Carolyn, Sarah and a few others, we hatched a plan to incorporate Rosie the Riveter and give the whole race a vintage feel complete with red bandanas for every runner. I communicated our ideas with Anna and she got to work.

As soon as Anna’s designs were complete, I started reaching out to our shirt vendors (yes, there are multiple), beanie vendor and medal vendor among others. I try to get as much as possible complete before registration opens so it’s been a busy planning week in the war room as we anxiously prepare for opening day.

Here are a few of the drafts I’ve been working with during this process.

First drafts and shirt color options

First drafts and shirt color options

Revisions….

Revisions….

Fabric options - touch test

Fabric options - touch test

First draft medal options. Still working on the ribbons.

First draft medal options. Still working on the ribbons.

Beanies & Neck Gaiters - 1st drafts SOOO hard to choose.

Beanies & Neck Gaiters - 1st drafts SOOO hard to choose.

Final beanies & gaiters after edits

Final beanies & gaiters after edits

Weekly Training Log

Monday:

TRX

Tuesday:

RUN: 6x800 @HMP

Wednesday:

BIKE: 75:00 Tempo

Thursday:

RUN: 3x6:00 @ 7:00 pace

Friday:

SWIM: 40:00 OWS

Saturday:

RUN: 60:00 with 2 miles @ HMP

Sunday:

RUN:55:00 Bonus!!! 4 days of running this week!

Week 47

Yet another reminder of what an incredible community we are all a part of on this Sports Bra Squad Day!!!

Yet another reminder of what an incredible community we are all a part of on this Sports Bra Squad Day!!!


Weekly Training Log

Monday:

TRX

Tuesday:

RUN: 4x1200 (5:00-5:10) - Complete - pushed the upper limit of the time but I made it.

SWIM: 2050 decent -I did not get to the pool today

Wednesday:

BIKE: 1:00 Tempo Intervals

I don’t get traditional weekends with my family but sometimes I get to sneak away…even if it’s just for a night, to enjoy a little R&R with the kids. Now that they’re a little older and I don’t have to chase after toddlers it actually can be a relaxing night away.

I don’t get traditional weekends with my family but sometimes I get to sneak away…even if it’s just for a night, to enjoy a little R&R with the kids. Now that they’re a little older and I don’t have to chase after toddlers it actually can be a relaxing night away.

Thursday:

RUN: 3x10:00 Threshold - thanks to the treadmill at the hotel, I was able to get this in AND get a night away with the kids. I think all the trainer rides prepared me well for a treadmill tempo…just lock it in and go!

I spent some time chatting with John Williams and Rich Ryan, of the new podcast Reinforced Running , about my bakery and our running community and I gave them the low down of how it all started. It could be a good distraction during your next long run!

Friday:

BIKE: 48:00 Build

SWIM: 2000 Recovery

Saturday:

RUN: 1:30

45:00 easy

15:00 MP

15:00 HMP

10:00 10K

5:00 Recover

I was oddly excited about this workout in my long run. I really didn’t think I was capable of completing it but I was eager to find out how close I could get especially after what I would consider a ‘hell week’ of training. The last 10 minutes at 10K was grueling but I had a friendly face join me with 6:00 left. It was all I needed to get a little boost to finish the workout as planned. The marathon and half marathon paces were easier than I thought they would be. I can’t wait to see how all the training pays off this fall.

Sunday:

BIKE: 1:10 - Early ride with Barb out on the streets of Montclair. Slowly getting used to being out there with cars and people and CARS again.

Beach Day! We saw an opportunity and we went for it!!!

Beach Day! We saw an opportunity and we went for it!!!

Week 45

This Week in Pictures

A very big week for Josie - Monday was her ‘Moving Up’ ceremony marking the end of 5th grade and the beginning of middle school!!!

A very big week for Josie - Monday was her ‘Moving Up’ ceremony marking the end of 5th grade and the beginning of middle school!!!

Not only did she finish elementary school this week, Josie celebrated her 11th birthday. Anne & I managed to create a cake that roughly resembled a pot of succulents for her and her friends.

Not only did she finish elementary school this week, Josie celebrated her 11th birthday. Anne & I managed to create a cake that roughly resembled a pot of succulents for her and her friends.

Had to call in the backups (Anne) to help get everything ready for Josie’s birthday party because Jess, Brad & I were dealing with a bit of a log jam. Does stacking wood count as cross training???

Had to call in the backups (Anne) to help get everything ready for Josie’s birthday party because Jess, Brad & I were dealing with a bit of a log jam. Does stacking wood count as cross training???

Saturday Long Run on Friday with Anne. Early AM baking shift on Saturday calls for a little schedule adjustment.

Saturday Long Run on Friday with Anne. Early AM baking shift on Saturday calls for a little schedule adjustment.

After another crazy Friday pizza night, the oven was still 500F at 4AM. I decided to take my chances and use it to bake my ciabatta. I’m so glad I did. This is probably the best bread I’ve ever baked. Simply unbelievable.

After another crazy Friday pizza night, the oven was still 500F at 4AM. I decided to take my chances and use it to bake my ciabatta. I’m so glad I did. This is probably the best bread I’ve ever baked. Simply unbelievable.

And finally, the week comes to an end. I had some peaches leftover from the weekend. I roasted them with brown sugar using the wood fire. Then I puréed them, added a little bourbon and poured them into popsicle sleeves. Yum!

And finally, the week comes to an end. I had some peaches leftover from the weekend. I roasted them with brown sugar using the wood fire. Then I puréed them, added a little bourbon and poured them into popsicle sleeves. Yum!

Weekly Training Log

Monday:

OFF

Tuesday:

SWIM: 1375 Race simulation

Wednesday:

RUN: 10x2:00 on 1:00 off

Thursday:

BIKE: 1:06 Tempo

Friday:

RUN: 1:15:00 - 8.37 miles

PIZZA: 90 pies, 90 minutes!

Saturday:

SWIM: Randolph Lake - 2 laps, 1800yds

Sunday:

BIKE: 90:00 Race pace

Week 44

Let this be a lesson.

If you think this is hot…

If you think this is hot…

My training has continued as planned, focus on short distances, improve my 5K before moving back onto marathon training, build strength and speed.

A couple years ago, I was training for the Chicago Marathon. Part of my plan was to race a half marathon 8ish weeks before the 26.2. The weekend of the half was also the weekend of the Baker’s Revenge Trail race. I was on my feet for roughly 48 hours straight, give or take a few hours, leading up to the race. The car ride to the Rock and Roll Philly Half was the biggest break I’d gotten all weekend. My performance in the race was less than stellar, not terrible but definitely not what I had trained for.

Flash forward to this weekend. I signed up to run the Fitzgerald’s 5K Lager Run because it’s one of my favorite races of the year and I need to replace last year’s pint glass that the bakery intern shattered. Friday morning, I started working on pizza prep as soon as the kids were on the bus to school. I stood outside in front of the oven, in the heat until 7pm when the last pizza was sold and then I got to go inside to bake for a couple more hours before calling it quits. Saturday morning, I started back at it around 4am, helping with doughnuts before I got a quick shakeout run in and then I packed the kids up to go to the lake so I could make up my swim I missed earlier in the week (crappy weather). I got back to the bakery around noon, just in time to start preparations for another night of pizzas.

Sunday morning I was on the 2am shift which was roughly 5 hours after I got out of the bakery Saturday night. I finished up the doughnuts and the bread baking and went home for a nap around 8am. I was hosting a private pizza party at 7pm. Most of the rest of the day was spent preparing toppings, salads and desserts for the event.

I snuck out of the bakery around 5:30pm with just enough time to jog to the starting line of the race. It was HOT. I wasn’t prepared for the sweat fest. I decided to go out fast and see how long I could hang on. After the first mile, I gave up. It wasn’t the normal, I can’t breathe kind of give up, it was a new, I can’t pick up my legs kind of give up. They were sooo heavy and the air was sooo thick. I just couldn’t push any harder. In the end, I got my pint glass and it was the fastest time I’ve run this course but it wasn’t the performance I trained for. Immediately after finishing, I jogged back to the bakery just in time to start making pizzas for the party. By 9pm, I was ready to melt into my pillow for the next 6-8 hours.

This was a big lesson to me, one I didn’t learn after the Philly Half. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t have run the race. The bakery is what it is. If this were a goal race, I could have gotten better coverage for myself, made for less work and less time on my feet but it wasn’t that serious. It was more important, in this case, for me to be committed to my number 1. I had fun at the race but I tried a little too hard to cram a little too much into one weekend and I wish I was a little better at prioritizing as these opportunities come along.

Lesson learned.

….try this!

….try this!

Weekly Training Log

Monday:

OFF

Tuesday:

RUN 6x400 @ 1:45, 2x800 @ 3:30

Wednesday:

BIKE 1:06 Tempo Ride

Thursday:

RUN: 45:00 recovery

Friday:

SWIM: 1700 Recovery

PIZZA: 144 pies sold out in 90 minutes!

Saturday:

RUN: 25:00 shakeout plus strides

SWIM: Randolph Lake - 2 laps, 1800yds

Sunday:

BIKE: 30:00 loosen up

RUN: Fitzgerald’s 5K 23:18 Course PR

Friday Night Pizza & Music @ Montclair Bread Co.

Friday Night Pizza & Music @ Montclair Bread Co.

Week 43

Redemption

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“Brad, have you seen my bike shoes? They were under the sofa in the clubhouse and I can’t find them.”

“Yeah, I think they’re in a milk crate in the back. I moved everything when we set up packet pick up for the race last week.”

“I unpacked every milk crate. I couldn’t find them anywhere. I looked in the basement. I thought they might still be in the car from my race but they’re not. Then I thought they could be in my duffle bag but they’re not there either. I ran out of time to get my ride in. I had to use an old pair of shoes and cut it shorter than I planned. I’m worried I won’t have anything to race in this weekend if I can’t find them.”

“OHHHH…I remember where I put them. They’re in the freezer.”

“The freezer?”

“The freezer. They smelled bad so I put them in the freezer.”

For some reason, I didn’t think to check the freezer for my bike shoes but now I know not to ever rule it out.

Weekly Training Log

Monday:

BIKE: 60:00

Tuesday:

RUN: 5x1K

Wednesday:

SWIM 1550 yds in the lake! Longest swim in open water, ever! And I completed in in the same time it took me to “swim” 750yds in the Chesapeake Bay

Thursday:

RUN: Fartleks - 3, 5, 7

Friday:

PIZZA: 110 pies sold out in 90 minutes!

Saturday:

WYCKOFF TRIATHLON

A week ago, upon the urging of a few people who make this an annual event, I signed up to complete the Wyckoff Triathlon. I didn’t intend to race so much as I wanted more practice in the water. I decided drinking from a firehose was my best bet.

The race started at 6:45am. I arrived at 5am and found many runners from our club in the transition area. It was relaxed and friendly, the air was cool…perfect morning for a race. I managed to swim to the first buoy and back before the race started. I felt calm.

My swim was not pretty. I didn’t panic this time but there were so many people in the water, I kept getting kicked or I would run into someone. I stopped a lot to find another way through. I let people swim around me so I could have more space. I kept my face in the water. I never once thought about turning on my back. When I made it back to the beach, I could see people from my wave still in the water. The waves behind me were still far from finishing. I was actually in the race.

The bike ride was beautiful. I tried to keep an even pace and enjoy being on the roads. I rode 17 miles back to the transition area where I swapped my shoes out and started the 5 mile run. I kept telling myself, it’s just a Saturday long run…just 45 minutes on the road with lots of company. Right foot, left foot. I didn’t glance at my watch once. It felt like I was keeping a 9:30-10:00 pace. My legs were heavy and there were no shortage of hills to climb. My calfs were cramping. My butt hurt. I was so happy and grateful to be running.

Just before the race, my friend Yale told me once I passed mile 4, the hills were over. I saw the mile marker and decided to see what I had left to give. I turned a corner and saw people with medals. One of them told me it was a quarter mile to the finish. I picked up the pace a little more.

After I finished, packed up my things and headed back to the car, I looked at my watch. Somehow, I managed to run the last mile at a 7:15 pace and the other miles weren’t as slow as I thought. When the results were posted later on Saturday evening, I discovered that I was 4th in my age group…the 27th woman to cross the finish line, 189 out of 438 men and women to complete the race. I’ve made progress in the last two weeks!



Week 42

Race Week #3!!!

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One last race week in this year of recovery. At least this one was a little warmer than the last two. I didn’t have to worry about the water delivery freezing before the big event or about heating 100 gallons of hot chocolate before the first runners crossed the finish line. The unfortunate timing of this race put it two days after National Doughnut Day which always falls on the first Friday in June. Due to a few scheduling issues in May, it also happened to be two days after the first Friday with live music and pizzas made to order on the bakery’s patio. By the time the race started, I had been put through the ringer so many times that this event became the easiest part of the whole week.

On Friday morning, I started frying doughnuts at 3am and didn’t finish until sometime around 8am. I’m pretty sure it was one of the highest volume doughnut days I’ve had at the bakery, if not the highest. Doughnut Day started to recognize the “Donut Lassies” a group of women from the Salvation Army who gave out doughnuts to the troops in World War II. Now, customers start calling weeks ahead of the big day, asking what we’re giving away for free.

After I finished with doughnuts, I headed to a lake in North Jersey where I met with Chris who would be coaching me to help overcome my fears of swimming in open water. With him by my side, I actually swam (not backstroked) 850 yards in the lake without having a panic attack. It was a bit of a breakthrough moment for me. I learned how to stay calm.

As soon as I returned to the bakery, I started working on pizza prep for music night. Last Friday I made 54 dough balls and sold out of pizza in 90 minutes but there wasn’t music. This week I prepared for 90, thinking that was an insane amount of pizza. The most I ever made last year for music night was 28 pies. At 7:03pm, I sold the last of the pizzas. I was on hour 16 at the bakery and I still had to bake sourdough bread for the farmer’s market before I could call it a night.

With Hillary as my co-director and Jessica organizing all the behind the scenes logisitcs at the bakery, all I had to do on Saturday, while they were handling packet pick up, was make and box the doughnuts. After last year’s Branch Brook Park 5K, I thought it would be fun to have boxes filled with doughnut holes. The ‘holes’ are actually squares of dough that more likely resemble beignets. This concept allowed me to make multiple different doughnuts and topping…chocolate & vanilla dough with powdered sugar, sprinkles and cinnamon sugar. I made one final request for volunteers to help with the doughnut production and I got the best helping hands ever. We finished shaping, frying, topping and boxing all 850 containers in record time. I was able to lock up and go home before the sun went down.

Race day arrived. Josie got up early and sat in the passenger seat of my car at 5am, afraid I was going to leave for the park without her. Brad brought the rest of the kids closer to the starting time so they wouldn’t have to wait around for too long. This would be their 10th finish line on medal detail. They’re pros.

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When Hillary and I arrived at the park, there were no barricades set up to block traffic. The garbage cans were overflowing and the porta potties had not arrived. It was the opposite of what we arrived to find last year. We started preparations and hoped for the best. We sent our friends out to use their cars to block traffic in downtown Newark - not an easy feat! By the time people starting arriving en masse, the police and the parks had everything in order. It all came together.

By 11am, it was over, the cars were packed and we were on our way home. Sunday proved to be the easiest (and most rewarding) day of the week. I spent the remainder of it in a puddle on the living room floor, incapable of moving more than a few inches.

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Weekly Training Log

Monday: OFF

Tuesday:

SWIM: 1675 yds

Wednesday:

BIKE 45:00 Recovery Ride

SWIM: 970 yds in the lake!!! I swam further than I did in my race in roughly 6 minutes less than it took me last week. I am determined to conquer my fears.

Thursday:

SWIM 1650 yds

Friday:

SWIM 850yds in the lake!!! Twice in one week!!

Saturday:

RUN 45:00 recovery run


Week 41

Rock Hall Sprint Triathlon

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The week after I was able to participate in the December 5K Doughnut Run, I floated the idea of training for a sprint triathlon but not just any one, the one that takes place in my hometown. It be a major recovery milestone and it would be in the water I grew up splashing in and on the streets I knew better than any others.

Since January, I have been preparing to swim 750 yards, bike 15 miles and run a 5K.

Swim Course - you can kind of see the buoys in the distance

Swim Course - you can kind of see the buoys in the distance

The Rock Hall Triathlon Festival includes an Olympic distance race on Saturday and the Sprint on Sunday. When I got into town, I stopped for gas alongside a car full of triathletes who just completed the Olympic race. They told me wetsuits were not permitted. I pretended not to care, filled my tank with gas and spent the rest of the car ride freaking out. The wetsuit was my security blanket. It would help me float if everything else failed.

Alden, Brad, Yana, Barb & Lizzy all tried their best to help me keep my cool, reminding me that I’ve swim 100% more without a wetsuit than with one.

After I unpacked, I ran through all three activities to make sure I didn’t forget any critical pieces of equipment. I swam in the bay for 10 minutes. I had the familiar anxiety of swimming in open water take grip of my heart strings and cause it to beat out of control. I was able to calm down enough to actually swim and I felt a little better about what race day would bring.

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More than 10 years ago, my mother became estranged from me or me from her, however that goes. The last time we spoke Josie wasn’t quite one year old. She never met Keegan or Malachi, never knew Montclair Bread Company existed and she didn’t know her daughter, who always got picked last in gym class, is now an athlete.

While I was still in the hospital, my mother reached out for the first time since June 2009. I have proceeded, with trepidation, to build a relationship with her. In December, she met the boys for the first time and was reintroduced to Josie. The kids are happy to have a(nother) grandmother.

The last she knew, I was living in Pennsylvania, pregnant with Keegan and struggling to make ends meet. My husband was unemployed and my salary from the small retail bakery where I worked was not enough to cover all the bills. I was receiving supplemental income from the government for food, healthcare and to offset household expenses. Now that I know the end of the story, I can say I was about 3 months away from rock bottom.

I guess being in the hospital recovering from a nearly fatal accident, unable to walk, could be considered rock bottom too but it didn’t feel quite as tragic. As least there was a light at the end of this tunnel.

My mother has quickly been brought up to speed on the advancements I’ve made in life. She had the opportunity to visit the bakery for the first time and see what I’ve built and I filled her in on the importance of running and my running community.

On the complete opposite end of the universe, my step-mom, Barb (aka Nana, aka Mom) has played a huge role in my life and that of the kids. She and my Aunt Cathy have raced more than one 5K Doughnut Run and we all ran the Bay Bridge 10K together, when halfway through the race I strained a tendon that would take 12 weeks to heal but I still managed to come in minutes ahead of my little brothers. In an effort to beat me, my brother Kyle pushed himself so hard that he was hanging over the bridge puking just like my baby brother Travis told him he would be if he tried to catch me.

After I racked my bike in the transition area and set up my gear, I was met by not one but two moms on the sidelines. Along with Brad, they both came out to my race. It was the first time anyone in my family would see me run. Having all three of them there made this day truly special for so many reasons. It felt like everything was finally right in the world.

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Back to the freaking out part…wetsuits were ‘optional’ but optional really means ‘not allowed.’ If you opt to wear a wetsuit, you’re taken out of competition and you have to get in the water after everyone else. At the time, I thought I had a chance to place in my age group. I came here to race. This is a race.

The swim was an in-water start. I had to jump off a dock, swim out to the start and tread water until the gun went off. The course looked SOOOO long even though it was only the equivalent of 15 laps in the pool, it could have been the length of the English Channel from where I was bobbing.

I swam to the first buoy and then a feeling of sheer terror swept over me. I could not put my face back in the water no matter how hard I tried. My heart felt like it was going to explode. There were still 7 more buoys to clear. All I had to do was get out of the water and get on the bike….out of the water and on the bike…get me out of this water so I can get on my bike…I said it to myself over and over and over for the next 28 minutes that I backstroked my way to the dock. It was not pretty. I was number 229 out of 237 swimmers to get out of the water.

My bike was one of the last ones in the transition area. I was in and out in one minute. I got on my bike, put my head down and passed as many people as I could on the course. They might be able to get out of the water faster than me but I’m back in control now. I had no idea how fast (or slow) I was going because my watch was still on my wrist (I normally strap it to my handlebar) and I wasn’t going to look. I sped up my cadence to get my legs turning over faster heading back in to the transition area. As I dismounted I was sobbing and smiling at the same time. By all medical accounts, I should NOT be able to do this but I can and I did and I am filled with joy and gratitude. Imagine what it would feel like to have someone take away one of the things you hold most dear and then give it back to you 9 months later in perfect condition, when you never thought you’d see it again. I got to ride my bike on the road in a race. I was 166 out of 237 cyclists.

Another minute to get in and out of transition. It was 10:30am, 80F and the entirety of the run was in direct sunlight. I focused on putting one foot in front of the other and moving my legs forward. One after another, I passed people. I remember seeing her go by me on her fancy triathlon bike. Isn’t that the chick who was in and out of the water in minutes? How much time could I make up? How many more people could I pass? My legs were so heavy and the heat was oppressive. I struggled to stay under an 8:00 pace. I was almost at the finish line. I could see my moms and Brad waiting for me to come in. I did it. After two years of training, I finally finished my triathlon. I was 73 out of 237 runners.

My lack of ability to keep my cool in the bay kept me well out of the running for a place in this race but the bike and the run showed me that I am capable of more. Is valium considered a performance enhancing drug???

Weekly Training Log

Monday: OFF

Tuesday:

SWIM: 2200 yds

Wednesday:

BIKE 30:00, RUN 2mi @ Race Pace

I surprised myself on the run when I was able to keep both miles in the low 7’s.

Thursday:

SWIM 2100 yds

Friday:

RUN 20:00 plus strides

Saturday:

SWIM 10, BIKE 10, RUN 10 - gear check.

Week 39

Testing, testing…

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Now that I have a beautiful oven, it’s time to make beautiful pizza. I love my dough. Of all my recipes, it’s the one I’ve been making the longest, ever since I became obsessed with flour, water, yeast & salt. It’s versatile and incredibly forgiving. Nevertheless, I wanted to be thorough and make sure I still loved my dough most of all. I dug through countless recipes I’ve acquired over the years. I mixed four different doughs - mine, Jim Lahey’s (Sullivan St & Co.), Jeffery Hammelman’s (King Arthur Flour), and mine with sourdough in place of yeast. They all fermented overnight. The next day, I mixed a batch of my dough to test same day against the overnight fermentation.

It was like a scene from Goldilocks and the Three Bears…Lahey’s was too sweet and too puffy. My sourdough was too thin and too crispy. Hammelman’s was solid. My same day dough was solid. The real stand out was my dough with a 36 hour fermentation cycle. After nearly 20 years, it’s still my favorite. Obviously, as with anything in life, we all have different preferences. There isn’t one perfect pizza for everyone, this one is just perfect for me. It has almost as much to do with the how the dough handles as it does with the flavor. It’s the whole package.

I called my friend, former instructor and forever baking mentor, Nick Greco (Head Baker for Wegman’s) to tell him about my results. He rattled off a few percentages of how he makes his pizza dough. It is exactly the same as mine. I used to marvel at how he was able to recite percentages, fermentation times, mixing times…off the top of his head. Nothing makes me prouder of my accomplishments to be able do the same especially when it is decimal to decimal, minute to minute, the same as his.

Weekly Training Log

Monday: TRX @ Architect Studios

Tuesday:

Plan: RUN - 3x1K @ 4:40, 2x300

Reality: 3x1K: 4:18, 4:22, 4:23

After I did the math to figure out how fast this workout would be if I hit the paces, I had just a bit of anxiety. It was the first time I used the 1K loop at Brookdale Park. Shocked I was able to hit the paces, especially after working the 2am doughnut shift before heading to the track.

Wednesday:

Plan: SWIM 2,100 yds

Reality: 4x400, nice and easy, felt great

Thursday:

Plan: BIKE 60:00 tempo

Reality: I may have added another 20 minutes

Friday:

Plan: SWIM 2100 yds

Reality: Forgot my watch but I swear it happened!

Saturday:

Plan: BIKE 60:00, RUN 3 miles

Reality: Done! Tested out my race day ‘outfit,’ all systems go.

Sunday:

Plan: 75:00 Run

Reality: 2am baking shift followed by 80 minutes of running with Anne - ooof! Tough but complete.

Week 38

PIZZA, PIZZA

Through Brad’s Eyes

Through Brad’s Eyes

Eight years ago, I attended the Kneading Conference in Skowhegan, Maine for the first time. Montclair Bread Co wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye yet. It was at this event I first became acquainted with Maine Wood Heat ovens. Bread Alone and Wegmans both had wood fired ovens I was lucky enough to bake in but the heat source was under the stone decks. The heat from the fire in the box traveled up and around the bread while it was baking. Maine Wood Heat ovens are made of clay harvested in France and fashioned into bricks by La Panyol. MHW imports the bricks and uses them to construct a domed oven and deck. They also custom build trailers to allow the ovens to be transported and a local artist hand crafts a metal exterior for the dome. The ovens are so well insulated that the exterior remains cool to touch at all times while the inside heats to 1100F! A fire is built directly on the clay deck and once it rises to the proper temperature, it is moved to the back to expose the bricks for baking.

July 2018 - barefoot & baking

July 2018 - barefoot & baking

Through the years, I’ve gone back to the Kneading Conference as an instructor and continued to swoon over the beautiful ovens. Since I teach doughnut classes that require a vat of oil, I never got to bake in the ovens until this past summer when a group of us baker ladies got to fire one up in the backyard of the cabin we were staying in for the week. Sharon Burns-Leader, one of my long time mentors, gave me a very broad overview of how one uses the oven to make pizzas and I got to practice until I couldn’t possibly eat another bite (or maybe I just consumed too many carbs via the Maine Beer Co. inoculation).

For the second time in as many years, I contacted MWH when I returned from the conference to ask for their professional services. I almost pulled the trigger a year ago but I spent my budget on the patio build-out instead. After barely surviving last summer’s pizza nights and farmer’s market bake-off using my very tiny, super maxed out, MIWE deck oven inside my bakery, I knew I had to make some changes to get through this summer.

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This week, my oven arrived. I didn’t really have time to be excited about opening my bakery seven years ago…it was too much of a whirlwind. So, I can honestly say, the oven delivery was the single most exciting day of my professional career. I’ve been so inspired watching my peers build fires and bake the most amazing loaves of bread out of these ovens. I never thought I would be able to join their ranks.


The first fire, built by Keegan

The first fire, built by Keegan

Truth be told, I have no fucking clue what I’m doing. I’m armed with my friend Richard’s book ‘From the Wood-Fired Oven,’ and lots and lots of google searches. Before this week, I’d never even built a successful camp fire. A few days of faking knowledge later, I baked my first pizza in my new oven. It was magical and a day I will never forget. Keegan built the fire. The whole family shared the experience.


Still a lot to learn but the first pizza did not disappoint!

Still a lot to learn but the first pizza did not disappoint!

Weekly Training Log

Monday

Plan: REST

Reality: Challenge Accepted

Tuesday:

Plan: Swim 3x500

Reality: Done

Wednesday:

Plan: BIKE 60:00

Reality: Brookdale Park

Thursday:

Plan: RUN 45:00

Reality: I may have added another 20 minutes

Friday:

Plan: SWIM 1700, 20x25 on 30

Reality: Wow. In order to get a 5 second break after each 25, I had to swim as hard as I could. A stronger swimmer could have easily gotten more time to rest between repeats but a strong swimmer I am not. After 6 sprints across the pool, I thought my heart was going to explode. It was so hard. To put it in running terms, imagine sprinting 20, 100s with only a 5 second rest between them. Yikes!

Last year when my coach gave me swim workouts, there was always a rest noted, usually 15-20 seconds. I added a solid minute on top of the number he gave me..so I could not drown going into my next lap. Amazingly enough, over the last couple months, I’ve been able to adhere to the rests as prescribed.

Saturday:

Plan: RUN 65:00

Reality: Done!

Week 36

Nashville

My grandfather adored Chet. So many memories surfaced on this trip through my musical childhood.

My grandfather adored Chet. So many memories surfaced on this trip through my musical childhood.

Weekly Training Log

Sunday

Plan: 90 Minute Run

Reality: My alarm went off at 2am. I was at the bakery by 2:05. It was Easter Sunday and we had 2000 doughnuts on the production schedule. My task was to hand cut all the them (while making cinnamon buns, sticky buns, three kinds of muffins and baking the breads). By 3am, they were finished and the first of the doughnuts were ready to fry. Once they started coming out, the team raced to finish them before the first customers arrived at 7am.

I had a flight to catch at 11am. Brad and I were going to Nashville. It was my first time. I just had to finish the doughnuts and the bread so I could grab my bags and get on the plane. My mom called. ‘Don’t get on a bike before that plane takes off,’ she advised. Brad and I were supposed to leave for San Francisco the day after my accident, it would have been my first non-work related trip without the kids, ever. Now, Nashville is.

I may have slept on the plane, for a minute or two. As soon as we landed, the warm sunshine welcomed us. We were both starving and set out to find food immediately upon arriving in downtown Nashville. It was 1:30pm. There were runners passing us on every corner. I was chomping at the bit to get my 90 minutes in. We found an open BBQ joint (everything was closed or booked for Easter). I had a BLT with fried green tomatoes, what a brilliantly southern idea, and a giant vat of sweet tea. I did spend half a decade in northern Florida. It’s hard not to get sucked right back into the south.

After our late lunch we checked into our Airbnb and I laced up. I couldn’t wait. I had a vague idea of where we could spend 90 minutes running based on all the Nashville Strava stalking I did over the weeks leading up to the trip. When we hit the road, it was 80 degrees and the sun was right above us. It felt great, for about 2 minutes, then it felt terrible. We ran downtown, past the Country Music Hall of Fame, down the frat boy hell strip, through the NFL draft and over the bridge. I was tired but enjoying the scenery. At the 40 minute point I I could barely hang on. All I could taste was that fucking fried green tomato. What a terrible idea. The heat was pounding, there was no shade where we were running, I stopped and puked on the side of the road. That was a first for me, though I’ve threatened a few hundred times. What made me think no sleep, baking since 2am, navigating airports, eating BBQ and a 90 minute run in direct sun was a good idea? FOMO? Brad was a good sport. We turned around and walked for a few minutes, ran to the bridge, walked a little more and ran back to home base. I think I got 6 miles in. It might have been an hour. I definitely didn’t learn from my mistakes in Vegas. Working/Flying/Running does not do a body good.

After we cleaned up, we walked 3 miles back downtown to check out the Pinewood Social, an old bowling alley turned bar & restaurant where you can still knock some pins down. I had a big fat quinoa salad and a half a beer before I almost fell asleep at the bar. I had been up for 20 hours straight.

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Monday

Plan: HIIT

Reality: Food Tour of Nashville! We started out at Milk & Honey a restaurant that opens early for breakfast and serves Stumptown Coffee. Finally a trip that doesn’t require me to bring my own. Brad and I met the head baker, Ben, when we were in Vegas. We knew this had to be our first stop. I had an incredible avocado toast on the house sourdough with fried eggs on top. I quickly learned that everything in Nashville comes with pimento cheese spread although I’m still trying to figure out what that is exactly. I’m pretty sure it’s what they served at every 1950’s potluck in the US but Nashville just didn’t let it go. Brad had a bacon egg and cheese on the most incredibly delicious biscuit ever!

Avocado toast from Milk & Honey

Avocado toast from Milk & Honey

For lunch we found another BBQ joint in the 12 South district. We shared brisket & pulled pork tacos that were incredible. I discovered Imogene & Willie’s, a boutique who fabricates their own jeans, one of the only in the nation. I bought the most comfortable pair of pants I’ve had in long time, so much so that there’s only been one day in the last week that I didn’t wear them.

We had reservations for Rolf & Daughter’s for dinner. I have to say, it was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten from the sourdough with seaweed butter, the sweet potato with chili and anchovies, the nettle pasta with toasted hazelnuts to the house made kombucha…out of this world. And we got to sit outside.

After dinner we checked out the Bearded Iris Brewery, the top recommendation from everyone we knew who lived in or visited Nashville before. They were not wrong. Definitely the best beer on the trip. And we got to sit outside, again!

Jeni’s ice cream but more importantly, new pants from Imogene & Willie…best trip souvenir EVER!

Jeni’s ice cream but more importantly, new pants from Imogene & Willie…best trip souvenir EVER!

Tuesday:

Plan: RUN (3x200, 1600) x2

Reality: Done

I found a local track about a mile from where we were staying. It was like Brookdale park minus the soccer balls with the addition of foul balls from the adjacent baseball diamond. It was 6am on a Tuesday. Luckily, I didn’t have to heed the ‘watch out’ warning.

The crappy Sunday run, followed by a day off on Monday must have been the fuel I needed to make it through the workout hitting all my paces. I’ve come to love the track, which I once despised. Instead of counting laps, I count down the number of straightways. It’s similar to laps in the pool and it goes by a lot faster than counting the full circle.

We grabbed a quick bagel for breakfast before we stumbled in Biscuit Love where I couldn’t help but order the ‘bonuts.’ The tiny fried biscuits, rolled in cinnamon & sugar, topped with mascarpone cheese and laid on a bed of blueberry compote were the best version of a doughnut I’ve eaten in a very long time. It takes a lot for me to take more than one bite of a breakfast pastry (that isn’t one of my cinnamon buns) and I cleaned my plate of these!

Fried Biscuits!

Fried Biscuits!

We joined the Tuesday Nooner group run at the Nashville Running Company in lieu of lunch. It was a small group. I wasn’t going to run but decided I could go out for the 4 miler and keep it easy after my track workout, or so I thought. I was holding down the back of the pack with an 8 minute pace and struggling to keep the group in sight. Brad was busy one-stepping the front runner and had time to get water, freshen up and hang out on the back porch before I finished. I did get to chat with members of the board of the East Nasty Running Club along the way. They’ve been established for a decade and I admire their organization as Fueled by Doughnuts continues to grow and expand.

After my second run of the day, we went to find some Nashville Hot Chicken. Somehow we missed all the music in Nashville but we were not about to miss the food the city is known for. Having just watched Anthony Bourdain’s Nashville trip, I urged Brad not to get the Hot Chicken Hot. He kind of listened to me and insisted on the medium. After Bourdain’s meal, he spent 22 hours in peril, unable to film until he was well again. The atomic heat radiating from my MILD chicken was ridiculous. I couldn’t feel my face for hours after lunch. Brad was pretty much down for the count for the rest of the day too. Insane! Don’t do it. You can have a tremendous food adventure in Nashville WITHOUT ever eating Hot Chicken. This stuff was hotter than the hottest curry I’ve ever eaten and I frequented the Jackson Diner when I lived in Queens.

Sweat is literally dripping from his face! Hot Chicken at Bolton’s.

Sweat is literally dripping from his face! Hot Chicken at Bolton’s.

Wednesday:

Plan: SWIM 2000

Reality: We were still feeling the after burn from the Hot Chicken when we boarded the plane the next day. It seriously felt like a hangover even though we didn’t have anything to drink. My skin was clammy and my head was spinning.

Shortly after we landed and made it back to Montclair, I went to the Y to swim off some of my excess consumption this week. Workout completed as planned.

Thursday:

Plan: BIKE 60 Minutes

Reality: My first day back to the grind was certainly a grind. Even though it was her birthday, Jessica offered to sit in court with me. A vendor dispute arose over a year ago and, unfortunately, it had come to this. We thought we would be in and out but nothing in the judicial system is in and out. After our 8am arrival, we finally got to leave just before 5pm. Thankfully, the dispute is resolved however, there was no way I was in any shape to get on my bike once I finally got back home. Push to tomorrow.

Friday:

Plan: SWIM 1800 long reps

Reality: I arrived at the Y at the perfect off-hour to have several open lanes to choose from, after the people swimming before work but before the post-kid-drop-off swimmers. My workout consisted of 3x500….long steady laps. I would have never been able to complete this a year ago. I finally figured out how to float.

In the lane next to me there was someone who was clearly in the same place I was a year or two ago. He expended so much energy getting to the other end of the pool that he had to rest for several minutes before coming back again. I wanted to tell him it would be okay, just stick with it, it will click…just like everyone told me back when I was certain they were lying. When I finally got a break to talk, he was already out of the pool. I was a little afraid to say anything because I didn’t want to be ‘that woman,’ the one giving a 20 minute lecture on stroke form when you just have one lap left in your workout….cause that may have happened to me once.

When I started baking bread, at the Culinary Institute of America, my instructor, Nick Greco, was a very seasoned baker. He would stand by the mixer and tell me if my dough needed more water or more flour just by looking at it. He knew exactly how much to add to make it perfect. I would ask him for a recipe and he would rattle off numbers for me to transcribe. How did he do that??? No books, no binders, they were just in his head!!! Now I rattle off recipes and add more flour and more water so often that I don’t even think about it or consider how I know it, I just do.

The first time I got in the pool with John Williams, he made swimming look sooo easy. He learned later in life and didn’t consider himself to be a strong swimmer. Watching him, his head was barely peaking above the surface. It was like his entire body was underwater. Only his nose and half of his mouth emerged every so often to take a breath. When he got to the other end of the pool, his head barely bobbed above the water as he turned to come back. Meanwhile, I stopped for a good minute to 90 seconds before I turned to come back, hanging onto the side and embracing every breath before I thrust myself back into asphyxiation.

Today, I acknowledged how far I’ve come in the water. My form may not be perfect. I’m 100% mediocre in terms of pace but I can float and I can breath and I can use the water to recover. When I reach the end, I turn as quickly as I can to come back just as I watched John do. I feel calm. I’m no longer struggling just to breath, I have focus and determination.

Swimming in open water still horrifies me. I’d rather the bandaids and the hair ties than whatever lies in the murky brown abyss as creepy ick brushes against my skin.

After I completed my swim, I hopped on the bike to make up for my dropped Thursday workout.

Saturday

Easter Bunnies!

Easter Bunnies!

Plan: RUN 60:00

Reality: 3AM start at the bakery, finishing doughnuts. At 5AM, I had enough support staff to head out for a run with Anne. We decided running and hiding Easter eggs for the Fueled by Doughnuts hunt would be easier than driving around. We filled our bags with eggs and had a blast dropping them along the course.

Keeper of the prizes…still wearing my new pants…trying to keep them clean enough to last another day.

Keeper of the prizes…still wearing my new pants…trying to keep them clean enough to last another day.

Week 33

Cherry Blossom 10K

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The 2015 Cherry Blossom 10K was the second race I’d ever run. My first was the Sleepy Hallow Half Marathon which was a month before. I had a blast running with my closest mom friends. A year later, Anne and I used the race to put the Fueled by Doughnuts Running Club on the map. We made goodie bags for all our runners and handed them out at the finish line. In 2017 I raced the 10K for the second time and set my still unbroken 10K PR.

I had high hopes for this year’s race. The weather was forecast to be perfect. My training has been solid. In the back of my head, I thought I could set a new PR. My plan was to start out slow and try to shave 5 seconds off each mile until the end. I hit all my targets until Mile 4…I just couldn’t pick it up but I held on. By mile 5 I was slowing and mile 6 was a struggle. I crossed the finish line 10 seconds over my PR time and I knew I gave it all I had to give. I didn’t mentally quit like I’ve done in so many races, I fought to stick with it the best I could. My legs were heavy. I could feel the stiffness in my left hip and thigh.

I was feeling a little blah, disappointed I couldn’t shave those 10 seconds off…just 5 seconds faster in the last two miles would have gotten me to my goal. Then, I ran into Hugo who reminded me 7 months ago, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t even sit up on my own! My emotions got the best of me and suddenly, I felt my disappointment turn into joy and elation. I was so happy to be able to run in one of my favorite races with so many of my favorite people. Sure, it wasn’t my best or a new record but I held my own. It was a solid performance.

I thought back to 2017 when I ran my fastest 10K and I remembered the aftermath. I strained my tendon and had to take weeks off of training. My spring goal race was downgraded because of it. I spent the rest of the year in and out of PT nursing strains, tweaky muscles and achy joints. Aside from the nerve damage I’m still experiencing, I have no mechanical issues. I feel balanced and strong.


Weekly Training Log

Monday

Plan: SWIM 2150

Reality: BAKE 3AM

Tuesday:

Plan: RUN 3x 1000 @ race pace

Reality: Got the first lap in and my watch froze even though it was a balmy 29F. Ran for effort on the second two.

Wednesday:

Plan: SWIM 1800; BIKE 60:00 workout

Reality: Done and Done!

Thursday:

Plan: RUN 45 minutes

Reality: Check!

Friday:

Plan: Rolling & Stretching

Reality: BAKE 3am, 5am, 7am - continuous check-ins with the staff to make sure everything is going as planned with intermittent napping

Saturday:

Plan: RUN 35:00 plus 5x30 sec strides

Reality: Done!


Sunday: Race Day!


My first Cherry Blossom 10K

My first Cherry Blossom 10K