Monthly Archives

March 2013

Lactate Testing Adventures…part 1

By | Coaching, Fitness, Fuel, Triathlon | No Comments
Do you like being pricked in the finger while running at top speed on a treadmill?  Me too!  See?  We have more in common than apples and orange Tic Tacs.  
I am not sure what your reasoning is, but I like being pricked in the finger because I believe it can help make me stronger and faster.  Totally logical.  Here’s why…
In fall 2008, Coach Gareth Thomas gave me an offer I could not refuse– a scholarship position on the UCLA triathlon team.  I would get to train under his expert coaching and supervision, with high level athletes, at quality facilities.  He introduced me to his lactate test-based training plan, which was perfectly confusing to me at first.  I had no idea what all this finger pricking business meant, or how it could help me bike and run faster, but I took his word for it.
As I trained under coach G, and occasionally went back to his “lab” to be pricked in the finger numerous times, the point of this “lactate” business become clearer.  I also began taking upper division exercise physiology classes, where I had the advantage of knowing from experience what “lactate threshold” means.  I became a bigger believer throughout my two years racing for UCLA, as I saw my lactate profile improve dramatically in conjunction with my heart rate and performance.
Upon graduating in 2010, I stepped away from lactate-based training for a time (2010-2012), until Gareth kindly offered to take me back under his wing.  In December, after an extended break from any sort of training, I returned to the lab to be pricked in the fingers once again.  I laughed as I saw my lactate levels reach record highs as I biked and ran at record low speed and power.  Now, after 12 weeks of training based on my December profile results, I get to see if this phase of training has caused a shift in the lactate and heart rate profiles…
Here is a breakdown of my journey down to the Trio lab in Brentwood last week:

Coach G bought me special magic water for my bottle during the test, which proved to truly be effective, as my results showed.
Bike lactate test on stationary trainer.  Gradual increase in effort over about 45 minutes.
Lots of heavy breathing and laughing at myself.
Finger pricking.
Excellent improvement in test results since December.  Lactate nearly half previous levels.
G, in a fantastic mood, escorts me to car park, brings my bike, AND gives me a box of new pink compression calf sleeves!
Low blood sugar, dehydrated, sweaty, smelly, discombobulated, try to arrange bike neatly in back seat.
Nosh on a mozzarella/tomato/pesto sammy w/ greens.
Change into my new favorite pink Fluid t-shirt…spilled dressing on my t-shirt :
Excited for research/thesis project this summer with Picky Bar.
Stop at Natural Cafe in Moorpark.
YUM grilled veggie quesadilla. Lots of h2o. Peed 2x.
Beautiful drive home through Somis.  Sun coming down.  Green. Cows (Mooo!). Country music.
Talk with my mom about our “love languages”.
My prince charming + tea and meringues dipped in melted chocolate chips.
Oh…and I brought my camera:

New favorite topping: birthday cake pieces

What a pleasant surprise gift…these calf sleeves are wondrous inventions

You can’t even see the best part: roasted cauliflower, broccoli, squash and onions stuffed in these babies!

I have a disappearing act that I like to perform on food. voila!

best way to eat a meringue

Full day packed with loved ones, excitement, travel, pain, and yummy food.

I got to go back to Trio this week for the run lab test, which once again showed drastic improvements in fitness (lower lactate and lower heart rate).  More about the science behind lactate testing and lab results coming soon.
Thanks G!

Char Char’s Bars

By | Fitness, Fuel | 2 Comments

My dear friend Charlotte, grand master of all things community gardening, architecture, breaststroke, raw foods, yoga, and world travel, donated a recipe to me called “Best Bars.”  While I did not have all of the ingredients on hand for these dense, yummy-licious, gluten-free beauties, I improvised and created something handy, delicious, and nutrient-filled.  I can’t wait to make everyone at school drool as I whip one of these out of my lunch bag (I still have my Pepsi lunch bag from 2006!):


Char Char’s “Best” Bars:

(print this recipe)

4 c. quick oats (gluten-free, for you Celiacs)
1/3 c. corn syrup, or brown rice syrup
1/3 c. walnut oil, or other nut/seed oil
2/3 c. maple syrup (I used 1/3 c. honey and 1/3 c. agave)
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips, or carob chips
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. ground flaxseed meal
1/4 c. each of: dried cranberries (or dried cherries, or raisins), sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and hemp powder (I have used either raw wheat germ or a rice protein powder instead).

Preheat oven to 350F
Spread oats onto rimmed baking sheet, and bake 10 minutes, stirring twice to avoid burning.
Stir remaining ingredients in large bowl, add warm oats, and mix well.
Using a piece of wax paper, press mix into oiled 9×13 baking pan.  Press very firmly to compact the  mix as much as possible.
Bake 25-30 minutes, until golden.  Cool and cut into bars.

Enjoy as a snack, smothered with peanut butter or chocolate, with milk, with tea/coffee, as a post-workout treat, or pre-workout energizer (ideally an hour or more before intense exercise!).

March Triathlon Series 2013

By | Fitness, Fuel, Race Reports, Triathlon | One Comment

The Cal Poly Triathlon Team hosts a beautiful race at Lake Lopez every year as part of the March Triathlon Series.  Other college teams show up to camp/race/have fun, and some years to compete for the conference championship.  As an ex-WCCTC racer, this race is near and dear to me.  This was actually the first triathlon that I ever competed in–the sprint course, back in 2008!

My Bruin teammates and I, 2008.

In 2010, MTS Lake Lopez was the site of our WCCTC Championships olympic distance race.  In 2011, I came back for more fun.  I seem to be under its spell, as I came back again this year…

The Race: Cal Poly’s March Triathlon Series, 2013
The Hostess: My dear friend, Christine, hosted me at her lovely home a mere 15 minutes from the race site.  She and I go way back to Long Course World Champs, 2011.  We both raced this weekend, so besides the fact that it was fun to catch up with a good buddy, it was especially nice to be in the company of a fellow triathlete who understands the strange tendencies of the species.  Thanks, Christine, for sharing your deluxe facilities, taping skills, suit juice, sunscreen, and ice cream!
The Pre-race meal (s): 5:30 am, oatmeal with chocolate Fluid recovery, homemade peanut butter, cinnamon, walnuts, and coffee.
The Venue: gorgeous Lake Lopez
The Course: 1500m lake swim, 40k rolling bike, 10k road/dirt run
The Check-in: 6:45am. I’m becoming a big fan of race-day packet pickup, since it’s not always easy to make it the night before.  It was fairly smooth, but we were nearly the first packet picker-uppers, so the volunteers were still figuring things out.  Totally excusable.
The Transition Set Up: 7am. A++ spacious bike racks: 5-to-a-rack gave us more than enough room.  Also, the swim in/bike out/bike in/run out were well marked.  There was hardly any wait to get body marked, as so many volunteers were armed with sharpies, ready to be your personal tattoo artist.
The Bathrooms: 7:30am. A+  Christine and I found empty bathrooms with full-on plumbing just a stone’s throw away from transition.  For my second trip of the morning, I only had to wait in line for about 2 minutes.  There were plenty of places to go.  I have not been so fortunate in the past, and may have had to resort to more “natural” facilities.
The Warm Up: 8:30ish. My warm up consisted of:
a. put shoes on bike and make sure that I can get on my bike, shoes on, before the big uphill at the bike start.
b. practice taking feet out of shoes while on bike and dismounting before the dismount line.
c. pretend to do a run warm-up for about 2 minutes or less.
d. acclimate body to the chilly lake and use emergency personal heating system to warm up wetsuit before the gun.
The Uniform: Pearl Izumi uniform, part two.  Christine convinced me to try out the two-piece, since I had used the one-piece at Iron Bruin.  I expected the top to ride up, but it didn’t!  I tucked it in, just in case, and didn’t have any problems.  Very comfortable and well-fit.  I did have some trouble using the handy little pockets on the top, so will need to practice that ahead of time in the future.
The Swim Start: 9:25am.  Loved the late start.  First wave was at 9am, not typical for triathlons.  But, it was perfect because it allowed time for the sun to come up, and made plummeting into the lake much more feasible.  Only down side is warmer conditions for the bike/run, but wasn’t bad.  Excellent for catching extra Zzz’s.  Our wave (open women under 35), was pretty small…I’d say 10 or so athletes.  It was like the “first class” wave, if there is such a thing.  Very minimal invasion of space.  Calm vibes.
The Swim: 1500m, start at dock, right shoulder 3 buoys, and back to the dock.  The water felt nice to me–I really didn’t struggle much with the temp, but some people did.  It was a little difficult to find the finish/swim exit, so maybe there should have been an extra yellow buoy.  It seemed like a lot of people were getting confused.  The swim exit was a challenge because the ramp is very mossy at the water line, but getting to watch the first wave exit (where many men were slipping and sliding) was a good warning and allowed me to strategize…I swam right to the very edge before attempting to stand, and then made my way to the top of the long boat ramp into transition.
The Bike: somewhere between IronBruin and Wildflower, in distance and in difficulty/hilliness.  The hills are pretty manageable, with one pretty gnarly (but not too long) ascent at the second fingertip.  There is a nice aid station with water bottles pretty soon before the climb, which is welcome.  The roads can be bumpy and dirty (the course goes along some tractor paths), but it just makes things exciting.   I kept the pace under control, knowing that I needed to feel strong for the 10k run afterwards.  I did have one mishap–my chain fell off going down a hill, but it was an easy fix and it only happened once, thank the Lord.
The Run: I love this course.  It usually feels like it goes by pretty fast because it is out and back (so you get to see your friends ahead of you–ahem, Christine–or behind you), and because it is pretty, and because it is semi-hilly/rolling, and because the terrain is mixed between pavement and dirt.  I felt pretty good, probably because I was holding back on the swim/bike a bit.  Despite feeling good, my run is not where it used to be.  Back to work.
The Race Fuel: Before the swim, I at a banana and took a bite out of our mini mint chocolate Clif bar from the race packet, and saved the rest to chew on during the run.  On the bike, I sipped 2×16 oz bottles of water each w/ 100 cal (1 scoop) of Pomegranate Fluid (with caffeine), and took the race water bottle full of water (poured some on my head, and drank the rest, proceeding to stuff the empty bottle down my top…I like souvenirs).  I also had one of Christine’s turbo Clif shots (the espresso flavor, with the equivalent of two espresso shots’ worth of caffeine) right before the big hill.  On the run, I chewed (and spit out) the rest of the mini Clif bar, indulged in a handful of jelly beans, and had 2 cups of water from the aid stations.
The Finish/Post-Race: Water. Costco pizza. Cuties. Giveaways (I collected a mediocre magnetic clip, and an XL Wildflower shirt from 2012). Music. Convenient all-natural ice bath access (lake). Massages (we didn’t want to wait in line, though). A “Mustache March” competition.  Olive Oil prizes. Free access to stand-up paddle board (I went for the first time).  Christine and I did something insane and never-before-attempted-nor-executed: we swapped boards while still standing–yes, yes we did.  People were crying in amazement.
The Results: Christine won the womens’ open category, and I got 3rd (although, I thought I was 2nd, so I may have nabbed the 2nd place medal…sorry lady who was indeed 2nd!).  We had a fun time and decided that we both lack an extra speedy gear.  But, Christine is prepping for her first Ironman in a few months, so this race was chump change in her bucket of sweat 😉  It was also sweet to see a good buddy, Brian O’neil, take 4th in the collegiate conference championship!!
The after-Meal: Back at Christine’s place, we enjoyed the fab weather with some outdoor lunch.  We feasted on Christine’s avocado, turkey, cheeses, bread, gourmet sweet/spicy mustard, hummus, chips, fancy salsas, Izze drinks, and caramel sea salt ice cream. SO good.
The Visuals:

night before the race.  typical triathlete activities.

Fluid chocolate recovery oats with peanut butter.

Fluid Reppin’. Christine’s bike (front).  My bike (rear).



Work it.

Own it.

The best of  friends and support crew!


By | Fuel | No Comments

‘Tis a bit late for Irish festivities, now 3 days gone since “St. Patrick’s Day,” but let us enjoy a wee remnant morsel of our smashed potato leftovers.

…Can you tell that I have 50% Irish in me blood?  I can prove it to you by how much I love potatoes and anything with potatoes in it…fries, gnocchi, potato bread…mmm

If you happen to have made some mashed potatoes recently, and just cannot eat in mushy form, here is a solution to your problem:

I recommend this for a hearty meal anytime of day (except 10 minutes before a run!)


(print this recipe)

Heat thin layer of oil (or generous spray of nonstick) in a pan over medium heat.  The more oil, the greasier the latkes, which can be good or bad depending on the desired taste/purpose.  Shape mashed potatoes with fingers into thin circular pancakes, and place on heated pan to fry.  Once golden brown on bottom, flip with spatula and fry other side.

Serve warm with plain yogurt, applesauce, ketchup, butter, chives, and whatever you like.

*I made my mashed potatoes by boiling 4 potatoes with about 1 c. raw cauliflower florets until very soft, then draining out water and smashing with a masher (I refuse to remove the potato skins).  I added milk, butter, cheddar cheese, fresh rosemary, salt, pepper, and fresh crushed garlic and completely smothered it all until perfectly fluffy.