Cake, Batter, and Bowl

Creamy Lemon Summer Squash Pasta

Main Dishes, Races

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

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