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Creamy Lemon Summer Squash Pasta
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Creamy Lemon Summer Squash Pasta

So it’s official – I’m a triathlete! I finished my first sprint triathlon at the Cranberry Trifest yesterday. The race was a 0.5 mile pond swim, followed by a 11.5 mile bike ride, and 3.1 mile run. My official time was 1:28:00, which put me in the top fourth of my age group. But, if you don’t count my 2:00 penalty for drafting during the biking (oops, I did my best to stay three bike lengths behind other riders, but I definitely need more experience riding and passing in crowds!), then it was a 1:26:00!

I have to start my recap by sending a huge shout out to Shannon, who inspired me to sign up and was so encouraging and helpful during the training process. We met once a week at her pool to swim, which definitely helped get me in the water more than usual, and did a couple of training bricks (bricks are back to back tri workouts, e.g. a swim and bike ride) on the weekends at Walden pond. Most importantly, she gave me tons of tips about how to handle the race and transitions and was so super supportive! And, she continues to be inspiring – she completely rocked her race and placed second in her age group!

My goal going into the race was to break a 9 minute per mile pace during the 5K run at the end of the tri. My previous fastest 5K time was 27:19, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to repeat it or not after doing both the swim and bike, but it’s always good to challenge yourself, right?

So, we got to the race in plenty of time to set up our transition stations and have a pre-race snack. Apolinaras did a great job taking photos, and captured me mid-bite with this one, which I thought was pretty funny.

I wasn’t too worried about the swim since I’ve been a swimmer my whole life. We basically had to swim in a long rectangle around four buoys and I did great spotting them on the way out, but the return was a whole different story. The sun was so bright that I literally couldn’t see the buoys unless I stopped swimming and put my hand up to block out the sun! I got a little panicked and almost ran into two different boats with lifeguards along the way, who were yelling and trying to redirect me – oops. Oh well, my time of 15:11 wasn’t horrible and now I know that I need googles with shaded lenses when I swim outside!

I was a little stressed about the bike ride because I had never ridden with a group of people before and was worried about being coordinated enough to glance behind me when I needed to pass people. I’m a bit of a klutz (e.g. I didn’t drink any water on the ride because I was afraid of dropping my bottle like I did during our practice ride the week before!). It went better than I expected and I was pretty happy with my time of 38:38, which averages to 18 miles per hour.

The run was a different story. The first two miles were painful! My legs were super tight and I felt like I was really dragging. I kept waiting and waiting and waiting to see the water stand at the halfway point and became focused on just finishing without taking a break to walk. Around mile 2, there was a nice section going downhill and my legs finally loosened up and I was able to finish a bit stronger. Even so, I was convinced my time was going to be pretty slow and was a little disappointed with my run. So, you can imagine my surprise when I looked up my splits and found out I ran 27:20, which is 8:49 per mile! I couldn’t believe it and I’m already excited for my next 5K in October because I think I’ll be able to get a PR!

Considering I just started running in January and biking in May, I’m really happy with how I did. I’m definitely going to do another tri next summer and plan to continue working on my endurance because I want to feel stronger during my run next time!

Now onto my very favorite part of racing – carbo loading! I always go out of my way to eat pasta a couple days before a race and this time was no exception. I stirred zucchini, yellow summer squash, and chicken, into a lovely lemony cream cheese and parmesan sauce that I thinned out with a bit of chicken stock. It was super easy and tasty and really hit the spot. Now if you’ll please excuse me, I’ve become addicted to racing and need to figure out what I’m going to train for next!

Creamy Lemon Summer Squash Pasta
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large yellow squashes, chopped
2 large zucchinis, chopped
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
Juice and zest of one lemon
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Directions:
To prepare the pasta, cook penne according to package directions. Drain the pasta in a colander, return it to the pot, and keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add squash and zucchini and sauté until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add chicken to the same pan and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center. Remove from heat.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same pan and sauté onion for 5 to 7 minutes or under tender; add garlic and sauté one additional minute. Add chicken stock, lemon juice and zest, cream cheese, parmesan cheese, and salt to the pan and stir until cheese has melted and sauce is smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes. Toss sauce with pasta, yellow squash, zucchini, chicken, and basil. Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition: 632 calories, 19.1g fat, 12.6g fiber, 49.8g protein per serving
Cost: $1.98 per serving

43 Responses to Creamy Lemon Summer Squash Pasta

  1. That’s great Kerstin! Yay for you and Shannon! You both rocked it. And your pasta looks absolutely delicious! Loving the summer squash(es) in it and the sauce sounds like yumminess.

  2. Congratulations! This is an amazing accomplishment. I love that Apolinaras got such great pics of you every step of the way. You’ll have great memories!

  3. Woot woot! Someone’s got the racing bug! I am SOOOO proud of you Kerstin! Like I said on Shannon’s blog, I wish I could have been there to cheer you guys on…you totally rocked this! And yes carbo loading is certainly one of the perks of racing. This pasta looks ideal. I think I’m going to have to make it before my next race.

  4. You are really something :-). A great big hug is being sent your way. I love your recipe as well. I hope you are going to rest for a day or two. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  5. ahhhhhh! So exciting- so happy for you! What a great feeling to finish up the race :) And that creamy pasta looks so good. I’ve never seen cream cheese used to cream up a pasta dish. Good stuff

  6. What a beautiful accomplishment. Accompanied by that scrumptious pasta. I make something similar so need to try your variation with the summer squash. Carbo loading without guilt! That is – if you’re a triathlete.

  7. Kerstin – this is so exciting – you did amazing!! I’ve never finished a race where I felt truly happy. I love hearing people with such positive stories. Congrats!!!! 😀

  8. Congrats! What an accomplishment! My friend did the same race, how funny :) And IRONIC that you’re from Naperville. I grew up in Oak Park and went to grad school in Lisle, so I actually lived in Naperville for 2 years. Small world!!!

  9. How lucky to have Shannon as your mentor!! No wonder you did so great!

    I had no idea you were so tall – and am still jealous of your swimming skillz! 😀

    Great job!

  10. Congratulations on completing a triathalon! What an accomplishment. Wow!

    This looks absolutely delicious. And you know what? I happen to have all the ingredients in my refrigerator right now so I’m pretty sure I’m making this for dinner. Thanks. =)

  11. Thanks so much everyone for all your awesome comments about the tri – you’ve made my day!

    Erica – I started seriously training after we got back from Lithuania in early June. I didn’t follow a traditional tri schedule of doing everything 2 days a week though, I ran twice a week, and biked, swam, and lifted once a week. And did at least one brick workout every weekend!

    Nicole – Wow, what a small world – I miss the river walk!

    Biz – I forgot sometimes myself :) I’m 6 feet.

    Terrianne – Yay, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  12. Woooo hoooo – congrats on finishing the tri. I hope to one day join you guys but I need get my swimming game better. Right now, the best I can do is a doggie paddle. hehe

  13. I’m so impressed. Congratulations! I mean, wow! I want to give you a hug. You should be so proud of yourself! Great job.

    I wish I could complete a tri with you! If only we lived closer. Sigh.

    Congrats to Shannon, too.

    The pasta dish sounds wonderful.

  14. Congratulations Kerstin!!! Those are such great photos that document your day. You are amazing!! And your pasta looks fantastic! I love summer squash with pasta!

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