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ride

It is that time of the year again… the salt has washed away and the weather is warmer (although, not today), which means that the biking season is finally here! My first ride of the season was last Wednesday. I rode my usual Wednesday night ride with the Rochester Bicycling Club. My friends Brian and Cindy joined me for the ride, which was great! It was nice to see them and catch up. It is kind of funny how we do not see each other pretty much at all during the winter and then we spend so much time together all summer. It feels as though we just saw each other yesterday. I love it!

The ride felt great! I was unsure what to expect since I have not ridden since last September or October. The first rides are usually pretty painful. The endurance is out the window. But I was super happy with my ride! I rode 20.6 miles at a 14.6 average. Ever since I started running, my first rides of the season have felt so good. It amazes me!

When I first started riding, that is all I did. I rode 3 or 4 times a week, sometimes logging as much as 200 miles or more a week. It was my thing. And I loved it. I loved wandering through Mendon, Victor, the Finger Lakes. I live in such a beautiful area! My favorite was the big ride of the season… the Highlander. I always finished the bulk of the season with a century and the Highlander was it since it was an easy century due to the rest areas. I did the ride 6 years in a row (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011). The ride itself was not easy at all, since it took us through the hilly Finger Lakes. But it was SO beautiful and all that pain was super worth it. Ha!

Then I had Julia so I had to find another thing, since riding took too long, especially the riding that keeps you in shape. So I took up running. I did not love it at all. It was fine. But I have grown to like it over the years. After much reservation, I now consider myself a runner. Haha! I can be both a rider and a runner, no?!? I am pretty ok with it.

I am happy that I can bike and run. I find them to complement each other really well… perfect cross training. In fact, I went for a run on Sunday and I felt great! I ran 5 miles at a 9:48 pace in the hilly Powder Mills park. That is pretty fast for me especially for a trail run.

I do miss those long rides though! I really love wandering on my bike. This week is not looking so good weather wise and I signed up for a run race, which is on Sunday, so I need to do some running. But I look forward to logging some miles in the saddle. The season just started after all!

 

roasted chicken

I cannot roast a chicken for the life of me. It is super true! I have tried it numerous times over the years with no success. It always ends up way too dry. I have a fear of it being under cooked, so I tend to roast it way longer than needed.

A while back I got food poisoning from uncooked chicken. It was the worst experience! It was so painful that I could not move. If I made just a slight move, I would get the worst stomach pains. I spent the entire day motionless in the fetal position. I do not wish that pain even on my worst enemies, if I had any. So now you understand.

I have tried several recipes, with no success… even a Martha Stewart recipe! I have been successful with roasting chicken pieces, mostly chicken thighs. I guess that you cannot really overcook chicken thighs since they tend to be more fatty.

As I was walking thorough the grocery store a few weeks ago, I was eyeing this whole chicken. “It would be so nice to roast an entire chicken in order to have leftovers for the week.”, I thought. I also thought about just buying a premade rotisserie chicken but I decided that roasting my own would be so much better. So I took it. Since I have no clue about how to break down a chicken and do not really care to attempt it, I asked the butcher at the grocery store to cut it down for me.

As soon as I got home, I contacted my brother (who is a chef). “I have this entire chicken. How long will it take? An hour at 425 degrees?”, I asked. His answer changed my life… ok, maybe not my life, but definitely shed all my fears about roasting a chicken. :) It really did!

Before divulging all the secrets, I have a disclaimer, which is that I own a convection oven, so my roasting time may differ from your oven. Ok, so here it goes…

First, do not roast a chicken whole. Roasting a broken down chicken allows each piece to cook independently, especially the breasts, which take the longest. Also, never add lemon juice or any acid during the cooking process.

Second, submerge your chicken pieces in a brine. I have been using about 6 cups of water and 1/2 cup of salt. You can certainly use more or less depending on the size of the chicken. I let it sit in the brine for no less than 15 minutes. If you let it sit longer, go easy on the seasoning during roasting.

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Third, after adding some olive oil and some salt and pepper, roast the chicken in a preheated 425 degree oven until the pieces reach about 150 to 155 degrees. For me, that is anywhere between 20 to 25 minutes. The thighs reach the temperature faster than the breasts. I have to let the breasts roast about 5 minutes or so longer than the rest of the pieces. If your oven runs hotter, check it earlier. The trick is to reach that temperature, so check often if needed.

Fourth, once the pieces reach the 150 to 155 degrees, remove them from the oven and let them sit for 10 minutes. Do not be tempted to do anything with them at this point. Just let them sit.

Fifth, once the 10 minutes are up, put the chicken back into the oven and continue roasting it until it reaches the recommended 165 degrees. For me this is anywhere between 10 to 15 minutes. Again, the trick is to reach the 165 degree temperature, so check often if needed.

Sixth, once roasted, remove the chicken from your pan and squeeze some lemon juice over it. This will give the chicken that great lemony flavor, which I love.

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This is the best roasted chicken that I have ever made and tasted. I really mean it! I made it 3 times so far and every time it has come out fantastic. The meat is super juicy and delicious! It was so good in fact, that each time I made it, we almost ate the entire thing. :)

Next time you are craving roasted chicken, give this a try… you will not be disappointed.

maple syrup

Every February and March I think about visiting a maple tree farm. Then somehow I forget about it. Perhaps it is because usually February and March are super cold and I do not feel like being outside to check out the maple trees. Ha!

Vermont is always associated with maple syrup, but we have a lot of maple tree farms in New York too. There are a slew of them in the Finger Lakes. Just do a search on the New York State Maple Weekend’s website and you will be amazed. You do not have to drive too far to find a maple tree farm.

One of the most popular spots is probably Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn. Every year the Inn serves a pancake breakfast with their new batch of maple syrup. I know folks who go there every year. The pancake part probably made them popular… who does not like pancakes with maple syrup? About 6 years ago, we decided to give them a try. The Inn is a drive, so when we visited it we bundled the trek with a hike through Letchworth State Park. Hiking through Letchworth in the winter is super pretty. I loved seeing the frozen water near the falls. Then after a 45 minute wait outside in the frigid cold but luckily sunny day, we made it in. The pancakes and the maple syrup were pretty good, but I was not sure if the long drive was worth it every year.

Last weekend was Maple Weekend in New York state. I decided to check out what farms are in the area so we can take Julia to learn how maple syrup is made. After searching on the New York State Maple Weekend’s website, I was surprised to find out how many farms are just in my area, let alone in the surrounding counties. I was super excited to find that there was a farm 5 minutes away from my house on Log Cabin Road.

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I actually had an idea that there was some kind of a maple tree farm around there. Whenever I ride my bike from home, I like to ride on Benson Road, which leads into Log Cabin. Benson Road is super pretty! It reminds me of the Adirondacks… super wooded and the trees’ canopies form an umbrella over the road. Towards the end of Benson right before Log Cabin there is always a little stand on the left side of the street with a maple syrup and honey sign. Since I was always on my bike, I never stopped, but I always told myself to go there with the car. But of course it always escaped my mind. There is another little stand on Willis Hill Road too, which I have never stopped there either since I am always on my bike when I pass by it.

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So last weekend we drove to the maple tree farm. We found out that the farm is called Kettle Ridge Farm and they make maple syrup, collect honey, sell eggs from their farm chickens, and are trying to grow shiitake mushrooms. How cool is that?!? The farm is family run by a father/son duo.

Julia loved learning how maple syrup is made. Eating a pancake with the maple syrup was even more exciting! And checking out the chickens was the highlight of her trip, especially since she was able to feed them. :)

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The tour of course included tasting the maple syrup. It was definitely delicious! One of the surprising things that we found out during the tour was the fact that the color is based on the weather during the tapping season. It has nothing to do with the boiling process. Apparently, the color of their maple syrup this year was light, then it got darker, and then it got light again. Interesting!!

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Maple syrup color ranges…

This morning I decided to make pancakes in order to taste test my usual maple syrup, Wegmans Organic Maple Syrup, with our new found maple syrup. Kettle Ridge Farm’s maple syrup was a clear winner. The maple syrup is more complex and flavorful.

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I am very excited that I found the farm. Who would have thought that I can find delicious maple syrup that is made 5 minutes from the house! Love it!

snowshoeing

I have been fighting this cold for over a week now. Sore throat and cough… not fun! Because of this, I have not done much as far as outdoor activities go. Then on Tuesday, winter decided to finally show up and dumped 21 inches of snow. Finally some snow!

So I spent my lunch yesterday in the woods trudging through the deep snow and following deer tracks.

I forgot how hard it is to snowshoe in super deep snow. Even with my snowshoes, my foot made a deep hole… the snow came half way up my calf.

I love snowshoeing in Powder Mills park since this one particular trail leads you along the creek. It was so peaceful and beautiful! The only sounds that I heard were my heavy breathing, the crunching sound of my snowshoes hitting the snow, birds singing, the occasional creaking of trees as the breeze gently swayed them, and a faint sound of the water flowing underneath the ice.

I was so happy to be outside! I feel as if the heavy breathing made my sickness go away. I always have reservations about doing things when I am sick… a while ago I went for a bike ride while congested and it was not pretty. But I am convinced that being outside makes everything better. I should have gone outside earlier. :)

chases

I had an amazing run last week! I started to run with a group called The Borough Runners. The run starts and ends at The Lost Borough Brewery, which is fantastic! You run with a bunch of super nice people and then you have a pint of the most tasty beer… brilliant! Last week it worked out that only Joel and I decided to run the 4 miler route. And running I did… I averaged 8:33 per mile. That is super fast for me! I was very proud of myself.

It is all Joel’s fault. :) I have been chasing him for years.

It all started about 8 years or so ago when I bought my first road bike. It was terrible! I never rode before and even riding at all was a huge feat. Forget about keeping up with anyone. I found myself lost and defeated around the beautiful country roads of Mendon. I was so annoyed. We always rode with the Rochester Bicycling Club so even before we left for the ride, we would decide if he would ride with me or with the other faster boys. I was always happy when he rode with me. So many times he would yell “jump on” and I would pedal my hardest to catch him and draft behind him so I could ride faster. I cannot even tell you how many times we did that. It was such a rush, and still is, to be able to ride fast and with someone else. Over the years I got stronger and stronger, but it took me 6 years to be strong enough to ride with all those fast boys. I still remember the day… I was so proud of myself on that day too.

Then about 4 years ago I decided to start running. Running even 1 mile felt terrible at first. I was so annoyed. I thought that I was in good shape. But slowly I got stronger and stronger. I run by myself a lot, since it is so easy to run from the house. But same as with cycling, I do enjoy running with Joel and other folks. It definitely pushes you to go faster.

So last week I ran faster… because Joel was ahead of me and I was trying to catch him for pretty much the entire run. I am not a very competitive person, but for some reason I am competitive with Joel. I have so many episodes where he would come back from a ride or a run and he would share his amazing rides and runs. I always lovingly responded “whatever dude… you suck!“. And then I would go for a ride or a run and I would push myself to go faster.

I feel super lucky to have Joel in the front so I can chase him. It is definitely nice to have an inspiration and someone who pushes you to have amazing rides and runs.

Smooches Joel!

According to WordPress I have not written in 10 months. 10 months!?!? How can that be. But alas, WordPress is correct. This working parent thing is a bit laborious. You know, the usual work, cook, take care of toddler, husband, and everything else. No need for details. Ha! The time seems to go by so fast these days. Even more the reason why I cannot seem to find the time to write.

Last time I wrote, I revealed that I was going to run a relay marathon… the Sehgahunda Trail Relay Marathon to be exact. And a relay marathon I ran. I was able to run the 6 miles in an hour, which was super for me! It was my first trail race and I was super happy with my result. The rest of my team did fantastic as well. In fact, the team placed 9 out of 17. So proud!

I spent the entire rest of the summer cycling and running. We also camped 3 times around the Adirondacks and visited Boulder again, so we did a lot of hiking during those trips. It was definitely a fun packed summer. I even did a little mountain biking while in Boulder.

Then fall and winter came. It has been a pretty warm fall/winter so far, so running and yoga have been my primary routine.

I decided to race in another trail race in early December, in the #TrailsRoc 0 Degrees WTF Festival. It was super fun! The race was 5.4 miles through Powder Mills Park and it was not 0 degrees… I was wearing shorts. Ha! I managed to finish that one in under an hour as well, which was great!

During the holidays, we visited my sister in DC and we ran twice during the trip. The weather was super warm so it was nice.

The highlight of the trip was running on the monument mall… a 6.3 mile loop among the monuments. It was super fun! We started the run around 7:30 am, so we were pretty much the only people there. Even nicer!

I was really hoping to do a bunch of cross country skiing this winter, but the temperatures keep fluctuating and there is not much snow at all… it is actually kind of nonexistent. The humongo east coast storm completely missed us, so that was that. I guess that it is only the end of January, so you never know. :)

In the coming year, I am hoping to do a few more trail run races. I have not settled on any ones in particular quite yet. Unfortunately, the Sehgahunda race sold out already so I will not be able to run that race again this year. I was pretty bummed when I found out. That was such a fun run!

I am also planning on riding a bunch. Last year I rode pretty much every Wednesday night, so I am hoping to do the same this year.

I have also been cooking a bunch, of course! I am hoping to share a few of my delicious finds soon.

Cheers!

 

sehgahunda

I signed up for a relay marathon. That’s right… you read it correctly. A relay marathon. And to top it all off, it is a trail run… on the Finger Lakes Trail in Letchworth. “But you are not a runner. Cycling is your thing.”, you say. I know! What am I thinking!!!

Sehgahunda is the REAL DEAL. It may just be one of the hardest trail marathons in the east. It’s 26.3 miles of single track trails, over 3000 feet of climbing, with more than 100 gullies that need to be traversed–and an 8 hour cut off.” reads its description. Yikes!!! Again… what am I thinking!!

I took up running a little before I had Julia. I never really liked it. Once I had Julia, it was an easy way for me to exercise and stay in shape. Running for 20 minutes is less time consuming than cycling for an hour or more. And running for 20 minutes is a better workout than cycling for 20 minutes. Cycling for 20 minutes is nothing… for me at least.

The relay includes 4 legs… a 6.1 miler, a 9.3 miler, a 6.5 miler, and a 4.4 miler. I signed up for the 6.1 miler. I have never ran for 6.1 miles before… especially not on a trail. The longest run that I have ever done was last summer and it was 4.2 miles. That should not even really count though, since Joel and I ran with Julia to a playground and we hung out there for 20 minutes or so… so it was not really a straight run. For the longest time I could never get myself to run for more than 20 minutes either. It was plenty. Lately, I started to run for 30 minutes and that seems plenty too.

This 6.1 miler really worries me. How am I going to do it?? I spoke with a few friends who are runners and all of them seem to think that I should not be so worried. They must know something that I do not know. I think that is it… I do not really know what to think and to expect from a longer run since I have never done it before. I remember when I started cycling… riding even 15 miles seemed impossible. But after riding for a while, 30 miles, 50 miles, and even 100 miles was doable and felt fine. I remember my first century… I was super worried about. And of course I chose a hard ride… it was part of the Highlander Cycle Tour. (I see a trend here!) It was an organized ride and I felt that it was going to be easier since there were rest stops and other people around me. It was one of the hardest things that I have ever done… physically. But it was doable and I rode it again and again for 4 more times after that. It is definitely a mental thing, more so than a physical thing.

So two weeks ago I ran 3.7 miles. I ran it at a pretty decent pace too. I averaged 9:24. That is typical for me. I must admit that it felt fine. Then last week I ran 3.4 miles at a faster pace… I averaged 8:57. I was super proud of myself that I was able to do that run. I felt pretty good too. It definitely felt fast but not too bad.

And then yesterday I ran 4.7 miles… and I averaged 8:54. It was crazy!! I felt fine up until mile 4. My neighborhood is pretty hilly, so as I was running up a hill, I started to feel dizzy. This reminded me of a ride that I did in my early cycling days. I was also riding up a hill and I overexerted myself and I felt dizzy and even blacked out for a few seconds. I definitely paid more attention to my body after that and figured out my limits.

Luckily I did not black out during my run, but I was a little upset with myself. I do not know how to pace myself during a longer run. I definitely ran too fast in the beginning, but it felt fine up until mile 4. Just like with my early cycling days, I need to figure out what my limits are for running. I only have two months to figure it out. Eeek!

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