Sunday, December 19, 2010

Triple Crown PCC Aquatics Center

Peninsula Community Center Pool
We already swam the middle leg.   I started my swim with a bunch of my fellow Masters swimmers at 6am last Saturday.  Before the day was done, we set a new record with 64 swimmers in the pool at once.  I got out of the pool, having finished 7,500 meters for the Christmas swim, celebrated with my buds, and home by 9:30 am.  BAM.

What's the Triple Crown?
It's a fun event we do at PCC Masters, and I think it's something that many Master's teams do.  It's a holiday event, with swims on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.  Actually, the Christmas swim is on an alternate day, ours was last Saturday.  Each day has a longer distance at each of the three levels.  To accommodate all our swimmers, we have 2 start times.  I usually do the early one, 6am.

Here's my guess at the meters at each level:

Level/Day             Thanksgiving             Christmas            New Years Day
Bronze                       1,500                           2,500                       3,500
Silver                         3,500                           5,000                       6,500
Gold                           5,000                           7,500                     10,000
The gold levels equate to 3 miles, 4.6 miles, and 6.2 miles on New Year's Day.  That's at least 3.5hrs for me.

Jib Jab with Tim
I took this picture after our workout.   You can see two people still in the hot tub.   Notice all 6 lanes of the pool.  I've been swimming lane 4 lately.  Each lane is a progressively faster pace, lane 5 being the fastest, and lane 6 is available as needed.  When you think about 64 swimmers in this pool at once, it's well, amazing.

Typical Workout on the board

Here's a typical workout.  You can see we do all strokes.  Anything from 25 meters, to 400 meter swims.  All said, including 500 meter warm-up, 2,900 meters for those in the faster lanes.  The number matrix shows times for each length.  The numbers closest to the left are for the faster lanes.  For example, top left in the 2nd set (#2) is 600 which means 6 minutes for 1x 400 meters.  That's a 1:30 pace per 100 meters.  Pretty rockin for me, and I am happy to say, I made it!

PCC Pool
A couple more shots- This shows our coach, Mike on the pool deck.  The motto sounds a lot like Mike's motto for us.  It's incredibly straight-forward, yet incredibly life-changing.  "Get in, go back and forth."

Double Jib Jab
Swimming has become an integral part of my life.  It seems every day I swim is a good day.  Every other day may be too, it's just those swim days seem particularly special.  Here's a couple pictures on the 7 minute drive to the pool.

Cranberry Noels, Cherry Chocolate Chunk, revisited

Cranberry Noels, candy cane and Christmas tree cookies

We made these last year, and the year before, and the year before.  The recipe is here.
Cherry Chocolate Chunk cookies
These cookies are so delicious.  Huge chunks of chocolate and bing cherries.  These are also a recipe from previous Christmas cookie cooking sprees.  The recipe is here.

Jib Jab with Tim
It was really fun making these cookies.  It's really helped me get into the holiday spirit.  These are some of the best holiday cookies I've ever had.  My sister-in-law introduced us to them several years ago.

Cranberry Noels
These are incredible cookies.  Such an awesome combination of butter, sugar, cranberries, coconut and pecans.  There are a couple techniques and tricks to keep in mind. First, when you roll them out, make the dough thin.  Also, you are going to tend toward browning them.  DONT.  These are best if you don't brown them.  It's really a balancing act, between thin and making sure you don't brown em.  In the end, these go in the premium cookie section.  They are a step above the traditional chocolate chip or sugar or snickerdoodle cookie.

One more note.  I used sweetened coconut from the grocery store.  Later, I was at Whole Foods, and they have a much better selection of coconut in the bulk section.  It looks a lot fresher and it's less expensive.  The more I shop at Whole Foods, the more I think it's not only better food, and better choices, but often less expensive. 

Cherry Chocolate Chunk

Another totally premium cookie.  Bring these out for your special family and friends.  :-)  If you have had them, you know who I am talking about.  If not, ask for them.  They are a special treat.  These are a combination of intense cocoa, sour cherry, and big chunks of bittersweet chocolate chunks.

Trader Joe's has the dried cherries and the huge bittersweet bars.  They do a 500 gram bar, which is a bit over 16oz.  It's bittersweet with almonds.  I crushed the chocolate into really large chunks, which is tasty, just messy if they are still warm.

All said, these are going to make a nice gift for our neighbors, if the rain breaks long enough to deliver...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I love our new patio

It's not finished yet, but every day, I like it more and more. We have a craftsman/artist building it. It is a concrete patio, which sounds incredibly common. The thing is, it's going to be totally contemporary and unique.

Conscapes Landscape and Concrete Construction
Working with Rick has been an inspiration.  He's an artist with concrete.  We originally were planning a flagstone patio.  Even now, I think that would have been beautiful.  Now, we've moved to something much more special.  It's a sculpture.  It's a highlight, a unique jewel within our home.  Rick has worked with us, to incorporate our ideas and whims, and helped us shape them into special accents, and attention to detail I can already feel.  The benches?  His idea.  Part of the pour.  Another idea he suggested?  He knew we wanted modern.  So, he says, maybe we could use stainless steel instead of the normal joints.  Sweet!  Another exciting twist?  Rick showed us some exposed stone he created in a concrete planter.  So, he took some beach finds we gave him, and embedded them in the bench.  See the lights in the stair riser and the ends of the bench.  It's a 12 V system embedded.  He embedded irrigation too, for the flush planter we'll have.  I will tell you more about the ipe river later.  It goes between the window and blue spruce.

It's been a blast.  Can't wait to do more.  The final pour is scheduled for Thursday.  Cross your fingers for no rain.
Final pour complete.  Now for the finishing touches.

Concrete in.  Non-stop rain since.

Here you see the kitchen steps, and the recess where the ipe will be, flush with the concrete.