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Entries in USAT Age Group World Championships (2)


You Can't Beet London

The title pun is intended. Many of you know that I recently spent some time in London. I was there for a race, representing the USA at the Age Group World Championships of Triathlon. This was an overwhelming and humbling experience. The whole Iaciofano clan showed up, as well as a hearty cheering squad from my old stomping ground in Los Angeles.

Highlights included:

Scotch eggs and fried capers at the Pheonix Pub in Covent Garden.

Copious amounts of "Flat Whites" (this one from a bike cafe called Look Mum, No Hands!)

A post-race celebration at the Dock Kitchen.

Wacky bus rides.

Underwhelming tube rides.

Black Pudding! (from Albion Cafe) John and I both liked it.

The best bathroom this side of anywhere (Nopi in SoHo).

The best food market this side of anywhere (Borough Market).

Copious amounts of clotted cream (from Brown's Hotel).

With equal amounts of gin. And rum. And heavens only knows what else (from Purl).

A proper British haircut for John.

A lot of shopping with Kaz.

Brunch featuring toast caddies! (At High Road House, Chiswick)

Waffles on sticks! (Tower of London)

More bike cafes (Zappi's in Oxford).

And a ridiculous, Team USA photoshoot around London...

Phew — that was a lot. Of beer. And gin. And blood pudding. How to recover? Vegetables. Even for breakfast. But how? Of course, I could be traditional and go with a nice vegetable frittata. But I had just been exposed to seemingly endless rows of cute coffee shops and cafes displaying their homemade baked good, including granola. I wanted to make my own.

And so I did. With vegetables. Beets and squash to be exact. These veggies toast up very sweet, so they're perfect for your morning granola. Add a little spice and nut action, and you've just created an addictive breakfast, snack, lunch...Now if I could just find an NYC coffee house that makes a flat white...

What You Need:

3-4 medium sized beets, trimmed of their greens and thinly sliced into 1/8" rounds

1 delicata (or winter) squash (you could also use butternut or sweet potato)

1 1/2 cups rolled oats (I used Bob's Gluten Free variety)

1 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup dates, pitted and chopped

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 cup roasted pistachios

3/4 cup coconut flakes

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

What you do:

Preheat your oven to 300°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slice the delicata squash in half and remove the seeds with a spoon. Slice each half of the squash into 1/8" inch thick pieces. Place the squash slices and the beet slices on the prepared baking sheet, but don't crowd them! Give 'em some room to breathe.

Throw them in the oven and let them bake. And bake....and bake. This takes a while, as you are essentially making vegetable chips which requires baking all the water out of the veggies. Veggies have a lot of water. The whole process could take up to an hour. Keep checking on them, as smaller pieces may crisp up faster and you don't want them to burn. Have a bowl ready to place more quickly cooked pieces.

Once all your veggies have "chipped," place them in the bowl and break them up into smaller pieces with your hands. Think about what size would fit nicely on a spoon. That's the size you should break them into.

Increase the oven temperature to 350°F.

In another bowl, combine the oats, spices and nuts. Mix in the olive oil and maple syrup and coat all the dry ingredients evenly with the wet. Spread this mixture onto a baking sheet (you can use the same one that you used for the veggies) and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. With five minutes left in the baking time, sprinkle the coconut flakes on top. Coconut will toast up rather quickly, so it doesn't need much time.

Remove the mixture from the oven and add it to the bowl of veggie chips. At this point you can also add in the dried fruit. Mix to combine. Store in an airtight container for weeks! Now you can have your vegetables for breakfast.



London Calling...And so did some cheesecake, beer and LOTS of thanks

At the beginning of the summer, I alerted you to a goal of mine: I wanted to qualify for the Age Group World Championships to be held in London in 2013.

I told you that I would be dialing down blog efforts so that I could dial up training for the qualifying race, USAT Age Group Nationals.

This race was held in Burlington, Vermont on August 18th.

Many of you already heard the squealing with glee all the way from Vermont on the 18th, as I was able to qualify for the World Team. I'm so excited. I have a long list of people to thank that I will post at the end. But thank you, readers (hi, Mom and Dad!) for bearing through the sparse posts (John's been golfing) and hanging in there. And supporting too - many of you did!

So, now for the entertainment. What happens when a group of athletic maniacs descends on a rural town with way too much energy and nothing but time and nerves on their hands? 

Antics, that's what. And eating. We will concentrate on the latter.

What an athlete eats before a race is a personal issue. I stay away from things like dairy and white bread. And I drink a lot of water and drinks with electrolytes.

Breakfast the day before the race is the main meal event. I like a good one. This year I went to The Dutch Mill Family Restaurant for my main meal event.

It's a windmill-topped family diner with an extensive collection of Dutch shoes, large omlettes and the best soft, squishy homemade bread. 

My omlette was an egg white affair stuffed to the gills with spinach and salsa. Salsa? Yeah, salsa. I was looking for a little tangy flavor, plus some extra salt. It was accompanied by potatoes, which I didn't eat. I opted for the toast instead. Why?

It may not look like much, but this home made wheat toast was about 3/4 of an inch thick, soft, perfectly toasted and pre-buttered. Usually I don't approve of people buttering my toast for me. But this morning, I wasn't objecting. They didn't overdo it. It was just the perfect amount of animal fat...I ate every crumb.

At dinner, we overtook a giant table at The Ice House Restaurant, a steak and seafood restaurant with expansive views of Lake Champlain (so we could all contemplate our impending swim).

The most impressive part of dinner was dessert. Portion size was enormous, even for endurance athletes, so we all shared an alarming number of desserts from the menu. The stand outs were the Strawberry Shortcake (shown above and the Hot Cheesecake (not pictured).

The Shortcake arrived swimming in syrupy whole strawberries. Two fist-sized shortbread biscuits sandwiched dueling flavors of ice cream - vanilla and cinnamon. 

The Hot Cheesecake is not pictured because I could barely grab a bite, let alone a photo. Forks from around the table descended on this brick sized block of sweet cheese, capped with a thick layer of meringue. But let me tell you the bite that I did have was impressive. It was definitely the stand-out dessert, and the resulting fist fight that broke out over the last bite was worth the black eye and jab to the ribs that I took.

And now for the race...

I won't bore you with the details. I will only say the following:

It was HARD. There were a multitude of really impressive, intimidating athletes there. I had a good race, and I even had fun while racing. I managed to place highly enough to qualify me for the World Team. I DID IT!!!!

This is the resulting timing receipt I received upon finishing:

Phew. Now we can have some fun.

I rounded up the post-race, still-conscious troops (thanks to Sarah, Jason and Molly) and sauntered across from our hotel to the Magic Hat Brewing Company for post-race BEER!

The architecture of the Magic Hat Brewery is reminiscent of their package and label design:

It seems to be a combo of Dr. Seuss, the Grateful Dead, and the Cartoon Network. And I mean that in a good way. It's playful, fun and whimsical.

Immediately upon entry, you step into the tasting room and store. The store is stacked with all kinds of Magic Hat merchandise (including cycling jerseys), while the bar is pumping with free samples. You can try different Magic Hat brews in teeny tiny beer glasses or you can take home a growler (or five) of your favorites.

My new favorite Magic Hat brew is Hex. It's fruity and nutty (much like myself) and has a nice, medium amber color. I'm not a beer expert, but I think it's the perfect beer for fall.

After the brewery, there was a lot more eating and drinking. I can't say I have a clear memory of all of it. There was also some ridiculous dancing. I don't know who the girl pictured below is...but she is sure enjoying herself.

And now to the thank you's. Feel free to skip this part, but I think it's nice to shout out to everyone who supported me. This is in NO particular order. So please don't get your panties in a bunch.

Thanks to:

My family: Marmo, The Box, John and Toby. They attended many races, cheered, sweated and cheered some more. They've also finally figured out to not call me after 9pm. Bless their little hearts.

My Full Throttle Team: all of you. Thanks big time.

Scott B. for his untiring support, motivation, encouragement, ridiculous nicknames, constant badgering, quizzical looks of incredulity, ZIPP wheels...the list really goes on and on.

Tommy S. for his encouragement, love of dark chocolate Raisinettes and good literature, and not making fun of me...too much.

Rick K. for his training and mental support, and for holding me back when I wanted to GO, GO, GO at the wrong times. Timing is everything.

Kyla S. for endless patience with my flip turns and some of the best swimming tips around.

Chris C. for NYC swim encouragement and support.

Mikael H. for the best bike fit this side of anywhere.

Drew K. for the running tips, sense of humor, and for being a BEAST!

Danny V. for keeping the faith

Joe A. for his wackadoodle text messages and sense of humor and occasional talking down of (metaphorical) ledges.

Scott H. for being one of the funniest people I know, encouraging pre-race text messages and lots of food photography.

Brittany E. for being one of the most supportive, positive friends I have. For enduring long periods of time with the extended Iaciofano family network (including Aunt Emily) with good humor. For asking the question, "Peanut butter or no butter?", and for the best emails ever.

Caitlin D. for being an inspiration every step of the way, a challenging training and cooking partner and a fantastic new friend.

Sarah S. for her constant even-tempered, objective opinions. And fabulous taste in wine!

My crew at Square Root Creative: Alysha, Dominique, Samantha, Richard, Chris, Marissa, Terry,Gio and Jhonson.

My Megs: you two know who you are. Thank you for your patience.

Stacey and Tony: for letting me bring a bike wheel to dinner.

The West Coast Cheering Squad: Kaz and Melanie specifically. You two are awesome.

The extended Berlinger family of Marisa, Ryan and Shane: for letting me frequently invade your lovely home to ride my bike and draw on your driveway.

The Hartmann family: the best neighbors I've ever had.

Jimmy L. for helping my achilles and my mind heal properly.

Hopefully I haven't forgotten anyone. If I have, I apologize. And thank you all, whoever you are who read this. Thanks for reading. I hope you keep on coming back!