Ironman Texas 2014

When I stopped blogging a year ago, I needed to make more room in my life for my family and training, and that’s exactly what I did. I made much simpler meals, spent a whole lot of quality time on my bike, in the pool, and in my running shoes, and stopped spending so much time on my computer. It was great! In the days following Ironman, I realized I wanted to post my race recap, even though I’m not sure anyone reads here anymore. It just felt right to come back and talk about the race that I set out to do a year ago. So here’s how Ironman Texas went down!

Pre Race
All my stuff had to be in transition the day before, so race morning was pretty chill. I woke up at 4:50, ate a bagel with peanut butter and drank some water. I got all my swim stuff ready to go and we headed to transition, where I put my nutrition on my bike, pumped up my tires, and started the one mile walk to the swim start.
I got there, found my family, and relaxed by the lake as the sun came up. I drank my Osmo pre-hydration drink but was too nervous to eat anything. I told my dad and husband I expected the swim would take about an hour and a half. When they announced that the pros were starting in a few minutes, I zipped up my wetsuit and made my way into the water


The Swim
I was lucky to get into the water about 10 minutes before my race, so I swam around a little bit and then floated on my back and took deep breaths. The morning was absolutely beautiful – clear, calm, and WETSUIT LEGAL!

I stayed near the back of the pack and before I knew it, the cannon went off and I started swimming.
There was a LOT of contact during the swim, but none of it was violent, which was a huge relief. I found a rhythm pretty quickly and tried to find some open water, which was hard because it was basically like swimming in coffee – I couldnt even see my hands when they were in front of me, so I found myself basically on top of people without realizing it.

The buoys were numbered but I couldn’t remember how many there were in each direction, so I just assumed there were 10 and was pleasantly surprised by how quickly the first turn buoy appeared. After turning around, sighting got a lot harder because were swimming directly into the sun. The second half in the open lake FLEW by and I was shocked when we turned into the canal, knowing the swim was already more than ⅔ complete. I had heard the canal would be really tough because it was so narrow, but it wasn’t bad at all. It was really fun to be able to see spectators on both sides. The canal felt like it was taking a lot longer than the lake, but my arms felt really good. All of the sudden I realized people were stopped and we were at the stairs out of the water. I climbed up as the announcer said the age groupers were at 1:13. I couldn’t believe I’d gotten through the swim that fast.

I ran up to the wetsuit strippers (best feature EVER!), grabbed my bike bag, and headed into the transition tent. I sunscreened up, changed my clothes, and did what I thought was a great job of applying body glide every possible place (uh, not quite). I ran out to my bike and hopped on. I saw my family as I got on the bike and headed out. (T1: 5:50)

on bike

The bike
The weather was still nice and cool, and I decided to take everyone’s advice and go SUPER easy at first. People were FLYING past me but I knew I had to stick to my plan. I ate a picky bar right away (I was already feeling hungry) and started in on one of my two bottles of Fizz. My plan for the bike was to eat 4 Picky Bars, drink 2 bottles (~500 calories each) of perpetuem and drink Fizz at first, switching to water with salt tabs later.

The first 35 miles were awesome, even though I was getting passed by EVERYONE. I wasn’t wearing a Garmin, so I had no idea how my speed was, but the road was really smooth and it was cool and beautiful. I was working on my Perpetuem, drinking lots of water and Fizz, and having a fantastic time. Not much later I realized I REALLY had to pee. I thought for like 30 seconds about peeing on the bike, but then a few people passed who obviously had, and they smelled so bad I realized I just couldn’t do it. At mile 40 I stopped to reapply sunscreen and go to the bathroom. The next 10 miles it started to get a little warmer but I stuck to my plan drinking lots of water (by then I was done with the fizz and onto salt tabs about every 12-15 miles).

Somewhere around the 50 mile mark the roads changed to really crappy chip seal and I started noticing the wind. It was heating up, and I started to feel like it was going to be a long day (I mean, obivously. 112 miles on the bike IS a long way…). I stopped to pee again at mile 60 (bummed to have to wait in line for 5+ minutes but feeling like it was worth it not to end up in the med tent with an IV because I didn’t hydrated) and pick up my second bottle of perpetuem and another picky bar from my special needs bag.

The next 25 or so miles I was in a dark place. The wind was strong, the hills (yes, there really WERE hills) were getting to me, and it was getting hot. I was pouring ice water all over myself at every aid station, but the shaking from the crappy pavement was just making me tired. FINALLY we turned onto 1488, the section of road I had seen during my 45 minute ride on Thursday, and the road improved tremendously. The wind was no longer straight on, and I picked it up and passed a few people. A cop said “only 15 to go!” and I realized that the bike portion was eventually going to end!

The last 15 had lots of turns through neighborhoods and it was still pretty hot. I was thinking to myself “they expect me to RUN A MARATHON after this?! How the hell is that going to happen!?” My legs were tired, my neck was sore from being in aero, and my butt NEEDED to get off the saddle. I finally made it back to transition, handed off my bike, and jogged into the tent. (7:02:05 on the bike)

bike in

My volunteer was AMAZING. She poured water over my head, saying “I know it’s cold, but you need it!” and put vaseline on the underside of my arms. She sent me out of the tent to the sunscreen people and somehow, life re-entered my legs. I saw that the race clock was somewhere around 8:40 and thought I had a chance at being somewhere around 13 hours, but I quickly shoved that idea out of my head knowing there was still tons of work to do. (T2: 5 minutes)

The Run
I saw my family as I ran out of transition and entered the waterway. It was like a huge party and I was immediately energized. People were so enthusiastic, the music was so loud, and I felt pretty fresh. I decided to see if I could run the whole first lap.


I started out by alternating Perform and Coke at each aid station because I didn’t feel like my stomach could handle solid food. My legs felt great and I settled into a manageable pace. It didn’t feel as hot as it had on the bike, and I happily watched the miles tick by. There were some great signs on the course (“If this were easy, it would be called crossfit” and “if your relationship is still functional, you didn’t train hard enough were two of my favorites) and my aid station plan of drinking some calories and dumping water over my head seemed to be working. I skipped my special needs bag and kept running through the neighborhoods and back towards the waterway. I remember hitting mile 6 thinking “this is the marathon and I feel great! I can do this!” I saw my family again and they yelled that I looked really strong (which is how I felt!) and kept on my merry way.

As I started the second lap, I had the same feeling that I had at Wildflower – like someone was squeezing my chest. I knew I needed some more calories, but I also felt really sick to my stomach. I stopped to use the bathroom at mile 10 which helped a little bit, but I knew I was going to need some food. I tried some chomps at one aid station and then potato chips (I love them during trail runs but it was an AWFUL idea here!) at another, but I still felt really nauseated. At the aid station just before mile 13, someone offered grapes and I took them. AMAZING! They were exactly what I needed, so I took a small handful of them at each of the next few aid stations (as well as Ice down the bra and a cold sponge on my back).

As I started my third loop, I was feeling a lot better. I started thinking about actually finishing the race, and was so happy that I’d managed to run everything except for my aid station walk breaks. My legs were starting to feel a dull pain, but I focused on each mile as it came. I skipped my special needs bag again because I was feeling good, and was sad that the lululemon cheer station was already gone (they were so great the first two laps!) I was passing a lot of people who were walking, watching the miles tick by, and trying not to get ahead of myself knowing I still had about an hour out on the course. As I hit the waterway for the last time, my IT band was feeling a little sore but I kept moving. My family wasn’t in the same spot they had been, but they had moved down closer to the finish line. I yelled “I’m going to do this! See you at the finish!” and almost burst into tears on the spot. I still had about 3 miles left to go, and I could feel myself slowing down.


I kept a steady jog around the last few turns and out and backs, and FINALLY hit the branch-off point to the finish line. I could hear Mike Reilly announcing names and got a surge of energy as the finish line came into view. The music was loud, people were cheering, and I high-fived a bunch of people lining the finish chute. I was so overwhelmed to see a time in the 12s, and trying so hard not to cry that I didn’t hear my name, but it didn’t matter.


I tried to soak up every precious second as I ran towards the finish line, so relieved and exhausted and elated and surprised. The day had been such an amazing mix of emotions, filled with such fabulous volunteers, high fives from my daughter, encouragement from my family, cheers from thousands of strangers, and most of all, an overwhelming feeling of gratitude that my body was able to carry me through this race and the grueling weeks of training.

12:53:25. I AM AN IRONMAN.


State of the Blog

Five years ago, I started this blog with a terrible photo and a recipe for tortilla soup. I was relatively newly married, student teaching, doing the occasional triathlon, and still living in the town where I went to college.

Now, we’re almost to our sixth wedding anniversary, we’re parents, I’ve been a teacher for three years, I’m signed up for my first Ironman, and we live in the East Bay.  There have been lots of changes in my life, and lots of changes on this blog.

I used to spend hours planning meals, taking pictures of those meals, and posting them on the blog.  I voraciously read blogs and checked cookbooks out of the library, and my personal cookbook collection started to grow.  Somewhere around 2010, I started talking about my athletic endeavors on the blog as well.  I had ups and downs, but I was pretty consistent about posting and always looked forward to sharing pictures and stories of what I was up to.


Blogging helped me make some amazing friends, helped me feel connected to people at home while we were traveling the world, and definitely expanded my culinary horizons.   These days, though, I just don’t feel any drive to post, and I’m starting to not really want to read blogs either.

I’m not going to take down any of the recipes or posts just yet, but now that Ellie is older and Mike and I are both training for big races, I’d rather spend my time with the people I love than glued to my computer. I may pop back on from time to time if I cook something REALLY good (and actually take a photo of it), but right now, Cate’s World Kitchen is going to go quiet.  Thanks so much for reading!


Family Vacation without leaving home

My sister stuck around for a week after the marathon, so we basically packed as much fun as possible into the days she was here.

First up: a day in Santa Cruz! After reading her blog for 5+ years, I finally met Brianna at her family’s brewery.


My favorite was the On the Porch Pale Ale… but the Saison was good too.  Ellie loved the kids table and books.

After beer, it was time for some beach and boardwalk action.


The Giant Dipper is one of my favorite roller coasters of all time.  This place is so fun.


Emily and Ellie had some quality bonding time on the beach.  She just finished her first year of med school (SO FREAKING PROUD OF HER) so she was in full-on relax mode.

The next day we hit up some fun spots much closer to home: the steam train and carousel in Tilden Regional Park.  Ellie was totally freaked out about the train while we were waiting in line, but I think she loved it once we got on (she said “toot toot!” every 10 seconds for the duration of the ride).

steam train

Ellie had her first carousel experience in Santa Cruz and completely fell in love.


The one in Tilden park is $2 per ticket and she spent the whole time solemnly holding the bar and saying “giddyup.”


On our third day of fun, we drove up to Muir Beach.  We had the place to ourselves for about 10 minutes, and then a kids surf camp showed up, but it was still absolutely beautiful.


On the way home, we tried to stop for drinks at Mill Valley Beer Works but it was closed between 3 and 5.  However, that meant more playground time for Ellie at the best park ever (Old Mill Park).  She tried out the big kid swings by herself for the first time ever.


Now my family is back in Oregon, I’m stay-at-home momming for the summer, and Ellie and I are going to try and find a million fun things to do all over the Bay Area.  We’ve got a membership to the Oakland zoo, plans to visit Mike at work in the city, and a bunch of playgrounds on the list to explore.





2013 San Francisco Marathon

Basically, my sister’s idea to run a marathon with our dad on Fathers Day was the best ever.

before start

It sort of didn’t feel like the best idea ever when the alarm went off at 3:45 (I slept horribly the night before the race) or while we were standing in the dark, chilly morning on the Embarcadero, but once the race got started, it was awesome.

I decided to try a new fueling plan after my horrific bonk at Wildflower. I had four vanilla Hammer Gels with me and planned to take them at miles 5, 10, 15, and 20.

Miles 1-6 (Family time)
(8:37, 8:15, 8:34, 8:09, 8:15, 9:23)

After my total pacing disaster at CIM in December, I was determined to not go out to fast. We all agreed we’d go out at 8:50 pace for the first couple miles and then re-assess. Obviously 8:50 pace didn’t quite happen, but this was a perfect way to start. I took my first gel at mile 5 and water at every aid station. I was feeling great.


Miles 7-13 (the bridge to the park)
(8:14, 7:54, 8:14, 8:01, 7:48, 8:20, 8:21)
After the climb up to the bridge, I started to pull away from my family. It happened sort of gradually, and I felt kind of bad for ditching my dad on Fathers day, but my legs had settled into a slightly faster pace that felt good. I knew I was not in shape to PR and I still had a lot of miles ahead of me, so I tried to keep myself from pushing too hard.

I saw Mike around mile 10 which was a fun surprise. He was out for a 2 hour run but I didn’t know if he’d stop somewhere along the course. I took my second gel at mile 10 according to plan.

Miles 14-19 (Golden Gate Park)
(7:40, 8:08, 8:18, 8:26, 7:54, 8:12)
I got a big boost when I passed the start of the second half marathon and heard my name but couldn’t pick my friends’ faces out in the crowd.

When we lived in Daly City, I got a little tired of the park, but running through it during the race was like a nice little homecoming. It felt familiar but not stale, and although some people hate the fact that there are no spectators, I liked the chance to just zone out in the forest. I took my third gel at mile 15 and was still grabbing two cups of water at each aid station.

I didn’t really check my watch much during the race because I went into it with no expectations. My training was short and light, and the whole point of this race was just to enjoy it. But there was a race clock at Stowe Lake and for a quick second, I thought about my chances of pushing for a BQ time. Math is always harder 15+ miles into a marathon, but it didn’t take long to realize that wasn’t going to happen and I should just stay relaxed.

Miles 20-26.2 (the Haight, the Mission, Dogpatch, Mission Bay, and the FINISH)
(8:14, 8:13, 8:09, 8:40, 8:12, 8:11, 8:23)
It was around mile 19 that I realized the fourth gel just wasn’t going to happen. My stomach didn’t feel too bad, but I didn’t want to risk it and figured I’d taken in more than usual during a marathon, so I’d probably be fine. My legs started to feel a little dead on Haight street, so the steep downhill into the Mission was kind of painful.

The park had been overcast but it was sunny in the Mission, and that made the long uphill stretch on 16th street pretty tough. I peeled off my arm warmers, kept my eyes on the ground (it was BRIGHT!) and began to embrace the suck. I glanced at my watch and realized I would probably beat my time from CIM, which perked me up a little bit.

The Lululemon cheer station around mile 24 was the one of the best things about this race in 2010 and this year was no different. The loud music, and all those people with so much energy were just what I needed to push me through the last two miles.

Once you pass AT&T park, the bridge looks really close, but it feels like the LONGEST mile ever. I had absolutely no finishing kick at all and was really thirsty. But as soon as the finish line came into view, I smiled and got myself across in just under 3:40.

My dad and sister weren’t too far behind, finishing at 3:57.

I absolutely ADORE the San Francisco marathon. I love the hills, the bridge, the park, the weather, and the fact that my friends and family were all out running too.  It’s one of those races I’ll keep coming back to as long as I can.

3:39:51 (8:24 min/mile)
770/5763 overall
96/1896 female
22/455 age group

20 miles, the best way possible

I used to dread 20 mile runs.  Once I got going, they were fine, but I got so nervous the night before, afraid I wouldn’t be able to finish.  Or that I’d have to walk, or I’d run out of water, or get lost, or get bored by myself…


Now after having trained for multiple marathons, 20 miles aren’t really as intimidating as they used to be.  And last weekend’s 20 was the best ever!

Running 19 1.1 mile loops may sound horrible, but it was awesome.


This scenery will never get old.

Alyssa and I tested out our new matching Hokas…


Ellie cheered for us the whole time (with a cowbell, of course)…


and I got to see my friends every lap!


It was a great morning, and now with just 9 days until the San Francisco Marathon, I’m feeling totally fired up and ready to go!

(huge thanks to Naomi for all the photos!)

Rice and Vegetable Bowls with Vegan Curry Sauce


I used to make meal plans every single week.  Now, it’s been months since I made one and I honestly don’t think our spending on groceries has really changed at all.  Instead, I think the “just wing it” approach has actually helped minimize food waste because I’ve gotten a lot better at throwing together odds and ends than trying to make everything fit with a recipe that I planned in advance.

One of the biggest things that has helped with being able to put together last minute meals like this one is keeping the pantry well-stocked.  We take our big (quart and half gallon) mason jars to the store, get them tared, and fill them with things like brown rice, almonds, walnuts, cashews, black beans, a few different kinds of lentils, and various whole grains (currently working through amaranth, farro, and buckwheat groats).

A well-stocked pantry combined with our weekly CSA delivery and occasional trips to the farmers market give us plenty of options for our favorite types of food: huge salads, soups full of vegetables, and big bowls of grains with vegetables and sauce.  I’m always trying to figure out new sauces to make, and I know cashews make an awesome vegan stand-in for cream when you add liquid and blend them in a Vitamix.  This sauce just takes a couple of minutes to make, and it goes perfectly over stir-fried vegetables and brown rice (or other grains).




Vegan French Toast


Why can’t all weekends be three day weekends?  This one included ALL the things I want in a weekend: friends, trail running, great food, tons of family time, a new water sport, and a BIG race added to the agenda.


This is the hummus wrap from Cafe Del Soul in Mill Valley. Why can’t they open in the East Bay?! It shares a parking lot with San Francisco Running Company, so it was the perfect stop after the race.

Some members of my tri club belong to a private lake that’s just over a mile from our house, and they had a barbecue and swim on Sunday night. I put on the wetsuit for the first time since Wildflower, and swam a mile. Then I decided to try stand up paddle boarding. It was fun, but I’m pretty sure I’d fall immediately if I tried it in the ocean.

On Monday night, Mike and I sat down to schedule our future races, and I somehow ended up on the Ironman website. Then I somehow ended up looking at Ironman Texas, and next thing I knew, I was registered.


I knew 2014 was going to be the year of my first Ironman, and I had been pretty certain I was going to sign up for Wisconsin.  But seeing this in May, and the fact that registration was already open and just BECKONING me to sign up, I went for it.  It’s going to be ungodly hot and humid but I’m really excited!

French toast is one of the weekend breakfast staples around here.  But now that Mike’s vegan, and I’m in the middle of a little vegan experiment (again…hoping to last more than two days this time), we needed a way to figure out how to make it without eggs.

Ellie still gets the real thing, but this weekend I tried coconut milk, and it worked really well.  I think the key is to oil the pan well, and let it cook until it starts to brown (otherwise it will just be mushy bread).  I definitely recommend using hearty bread, not regular grocery store sandwich bread.  I used homemade whole wheat that was a couple of days old.

I don’t have a specific recipe, but more just an idea of what to do: mix about 2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk with 1 tsp vanilla and a nice big pinch of cinnamon.  Heat about a tablespoon of grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil) until a drop of water sizzles. Dip the bread in the coconut milk and cook for a few minutes on each side, until nice and brown. Top with whatever you want… I used mashed banana and it was delicious.


China Camp Half Marathon

china camp

This was the hardest race I’ve run in a long time.  The course was not too outrageously challenging on its own: 1800ish ft of elevation gain (concentrated in two big hills at mile 2 and mile 8) and some marginally technical rocky parts; but my dead legs made it really tough.

Why were my legs dead? That’s a great question, because I haven’t actually been doing that much with them.  It was massively frustrating to just feel like my feet were covered in cement any time the trail started climbing at all.  For the first four miles, my head was not in a good place.  Neither were my legs, and neither was my stomach.

The first hill (in the picture above) was about a mile long, and I walked quite a bit of it.  When we finally reached the top, it still took a mile or so to feel decent.  The course loops back through the start/finish area at around mile 6, and it really wasn’t until I passed through there that I started to feel a little better.  But of course, there was another hill right after that.

china camp 2

The second hill was at least run-able, but maybe “run” is not the right word, because although I felt like I was running but I’m sure to anyone watching, it was more of a pathetic shuffle.  Once I finally reached the top of that, I got to run through some redwoods, which is always totally blissful even with super dead legs.

The last few miles were just sort of blah. It was pretty, but I just couldn’t get my head in the right place, and that was frustrating.  I ALWAYS feel grateful to be able to run, and to get to do it in such a beautiful place is awesome.  I’m not sure what the issue was today – possibly just a crappy attitude to match the crappy feeling in my legs.

china camp finish

Still, I stuck with it to finish in 2:01 and managed to eke out a 3rd place finish in my age group.

photo(1)The best part of the day was getting to hang out with good friends.  I love small, low-key races like this, and I love it even more when I’m there with some of my favorite people.


Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I LOVE Inside Trail Racing.  They are so well organized, their courses are fun and well-marked, the races are affordable, and the post-race food is awesome. If you live in Northern California and want to run a trail race, do one of theirs! (this is my own opinion and they have no idea who I am or that I’m writing this)

Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting


Now that Mike is vegan and not eating sugar, I have been baking a lot less than I used to. But when my parents come over, my dad runs 14 miles with me, and there are brown bananas on the counter, I bake.

We had Open House at school last week and now there are just four weeks left in the school year.  I can’t believe I’m wrapping up my third year of teaching.  This was my toughest year yet and I almost bailed to go back to school to study public health…but after lots of contemplation and reflection, I realized the classroom really is where I belong for at least a few more years.


There are now four more weeks left in the school year, which feels simultaneously way too long and unbelievably short.  There are also four more weeks until the San Francisco marathon, and yesterday I bought matching shirts for my sister and me to wear.  Now we’re just trying to find a similar men’s top for our dad. Matching may be cheesy and ridiculous, but we’re doing it.



Mothers Day 5K and some other workouts I’ve loved lately

photo (29)

As soon as I decided to run the San Francisco Marathon, I knew I’d have to be smart about getting in a few long runs without overdoing it.  I’m super prone to IT band flare-ups any time I increase my running volume too fast, and I am determined to do it right this time!

On Saturday morning I talked my dad into running 17 miles with me, on an awesome path that’s close to my house but that I’d never run before.  We started around 9:00/mile and progressed to 8:1x by the end.  It felt surprisingly good, even though it was over 80 degrees when we finished.  If I can just remember to start slowly during the race…

There was a Mothers Day 5K at Crissy Field, and Mike generously offered to push Ellie in the stroller.  I figured it wasn’t going to be a very awesome race for me because I’d run so much more than usual the day before, but I decided to just go out and do the best I could.  I didn’t look at my watch a single time during the race, but I could tell I did the first mile MUCH faster than the second.  There course was a loop followed by an out and back, with the turn-around at about 2.5 miles.  I was the 7th place woman as we approached the turnaround, but after that, I picked it up as much as possible and managed to pass a couple people and finish 4th!

photo (30)

My splits ended up being 6:27 – 7:11 – 6:43. I knew that second mile was slow!
17 miles on Saturday + a hard 5K on Sunday meant my whole body was TOTALLY done on Monday. I was more sore than after Wildflower. It was a rough day, so of course I took it as a rest day.

Last night we did a new-to-me workout at Masters and I think it’s my new favorite. It was 5×100 on a 5 minute interval (which is SUPER long…over 3 minutes to recover) but the 100s were 100% all-out sprints. I usually do my 100s around 1:40, and these were 1:18. It was really painful to go that fast (that’s BLAZING fast for me…but pretty slow for serious swimmers) but with all that recovery time, I swam super easy 100s, and it really helped me prepare for the next sprint. It was a totally different workout than I’m used to, but it felt awesome to go as hard as I possibly could. I’m so glad I started going to Masters.


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