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June 2013

BOL 2013

By | Fitness, Fuel, Race Reports, Triathlon | No Comments

The Ventura Breath of Life Triathlon is an old and dear friend of mine.  It was one of my first triathlons ever, back in 2008, when the race took place at the Ventura pier (now held at the harbor).  It is also one of my favorite races because it is 15 minutes from my house, and it seems that nearly everyone there–participating, volunteering, or cheering– is my neighbor, friend, boss, co-worker, former schoolmate, teammate, family member, coach, or coach-ee.  It has a casual, fun, friendly spirit, much-owing much to its humble, noble roots…the event began in 1999, with only two participants, in an effort to raise money for the “Dina La Vigna Breath of Life Fund” established in remembrance of Dina and her battle with Primary Immunodeficiency.  It has grown and evolved tremendously over these 13-or so years (read more here).

So, yesterday, I lined up on the sand at “Mother’s Beach” with a feeling quite distinct from the usual pre-race jitters.  I felt excited, yet calm.  At peace, and filled with joy to be there among so many friends…

The Race: BOL 2013
The Buddies: Parents, Boyfriend, Eric, Coach G, Swim For Triathlete-ers, Volunteers, Rincon peeps, Tri Running champs, friendly racers, old UCLA teammates, and new friends.
The Packet Pickup: My friend Mariel and I stopped by packet pickup right when it opened on the day before the race.  The volunteers were Awesome, and we were outta there in a jiffy.  Super chill.
The Accomodations: I got to sleep in my own bed!
The Cheering: I had my own cheering squad, once again: Parents, Brice, Eric, Coach G, and other top cheerers.
The Pre-race meal:  Night before: Quinoa with veggies, avocado, sunflower seeds, balsamic/oil, basil, tomato salad…and froyo.  Morning of: 2 pcs. whole grain toast, almond butter, banana, and 2 eggs (scrambled)…plus mate green tea, coffee, and “Kona Kola” Nuun.
The Conditions: Cool, ocean fog, no surf (in a protected area).
The Venue: The Ventura harbor/surrounding area.
The Course: Mostly flat with some slight inclines.  The swim is two loops, including a run out and back in between the two.  The bike course includes 3-big loops on country-ish streets.  The run is an out and back, and parallels part of the bike course.  Not extremely scenic, but there are plenty of opportunities to see/cheer for/high five fellow competitors while running/biking.
The Transition Set Up: They let me into the Elite wave!  There were only 3 of us girls in the first wave with all of the 29&Under men/relays/elites.  Our transition racks were right next to the bike/run out.  The transition area is in a large parking lot, and seems well-organized/not too crazy crowded.
The Bathrooms: There are multiple options here.  There are port-a-potties near transition, beach bathrooms also near transition, and multiple public restrooms scattered throughout the harbor area.  I jogged about 0.27 miles to a restaurant area and found an empty stall!  I felt like royalty not having to wait in line 20 minutes before the race start.
The Warm Up: I took my bike on the course for a few minutes, checking to make sure it was set to go.  Then, I ran to find a bathroom.  Before the start, I got in the water and swam around for a bit…did some butterfly…then chatted to my “fans”.  The start was delayed about 15 minutes, so had extra chat time.
The Uniform: Pearl Izumi P.R.O. onesy in black and pink!  Pearl tri shoes.  Pearl hat. Tifosi glasses. Rudy helmet. USAT wetsuit (which I left at the race…please let me know if you happened to see it and pick it up!), and Barracuda goggles (hand me downs).
The Swim Start: Calm waters.  Stayed to the inside, and tried to keep up with the speedy lead group but ended up in between clumps, all by myself.
The Swim: Smooth.  Only real difficulty is the double loop, as you end up starting your second loop either with or right behind a wave that is starting their first.  Just gotta stay alert.  
The Bike: Steady.  I felt like I went out strong.  Then, I saw an official point at me and write down my number (which means I get a 2 minute penalty!) about halfway through the bike course.  To write down the anger/frustration/beef I had about this supposed offense, I would need to spend precious time and page space.  So I will spare myself and any innocent readers.  When I saw the officials point at me, I felt simultaneously confused, upset, and thrown off of my groove (see below).  I told myself that at this point, there was nothing I could do to argue, protest, refute, or change the impending 2:00 penalty, and that I would have to stay positive and try to regain those 2:00 by picking up my speed.  However, my brain was in a funk, and I was drifting into a race “lull”… I started to think about the next leg–the run, mentally blocking out the moment and forgetting about the “right now” of the bike leg.  But, I told myself to shut up and snap out of it.  Get over it and move on.  Do what you can with what you’ve got. 
The Run: Strong.  I like feeling solid on the run and having something left to push it in at the finish.  I was able to get a few words/phrases out, and clapped my hands/high-fived friends–thanks for the encouragement, everyone!  It’s a good feeling to not be dying during a race and forced to run slower than you have trained to run.  More and more, I see that I want to leave the real pain and suffering to training, and just “let it happen” in races.  I want to enjoy the race because I have trained well.  I want to finish strong.
The Race Fuel: Berry fruit snacks on the bike.  2 bottles of Fluid (passion fruit tea) on the bike.  Cups of water/race drink on the run.
The Finish/Post-Race: I immediately saw my dreamy boyfriend and his cool bro (birthday boy) Eric.  Then, talked to some friends and played the game “WHAT DID YOU SAY????” while we stood right in front of the loud speaker where a lady with heft vocal chords announced as the finishers came in.  Got in the ocean for a quick, refreshing, ice bath.  Rinsed off and changed.  Saw some more cool people finish.  Rinsed off my favorite wetsuit and hung it over a wall to try.  Told myself “whatever you do, don’t forget to pick up your wetsuit when you leave,”  and proceeded to walk away and come home without my poor, lonely, wet, neglected, suit.  I love you, sleek and speedy USAT Revolt suit, which was given to me by a heroin of mine, Barb Lindquist.  *Update on suit, for the oh-so concerned and worried reader : it was found by a beautiful soul and I am picking it up this week! Amen!

The Results: I had the privilege of racing with a local pro triathlete-friend, Adrienne, and some other fast ladies, and I am honored to have finished anytime within the same era as them.  I am very happy with my swim time, as I have regularly been swimming only 2, maybe 3, times per week, mostly slow and easy.  Thank the Lord for a heavy swim background which allows me to focus on the bike/run in training! The race results added two minutes to my bike split, which would have been 1:10–something that can definitely use some good love and improvement.  My run split–43 minutes–is over 3 minutes slower than where I was back in 2008, but I am getting there.  I am majorly thankful to Coach Gareth for helping me to get there again–and beyond!  It is truly an honor to be working with such a triathlon legend and guru.
The Post-Race Meal: BJs fish tacos, and some peanut butter/chocolate chip pizookie for Eric’s bday!
The Visuals: (photo creds: Brice Oliver and Karen Oneil)

Pre-race with the lovely Annette!

Out and back in for round 2 of the swim.  Boo. Yah!

I heart my Pearl kit and Fluid bottles…but especially you, Mr. Photographer.

Manly Man Cookies

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After looking near and far for the perfect cookies to bake this past Fathers Day, and nearly settling for some plain Jane chocolate chip cookies from miss Betty Crocker, I made one last desperate attempt to find inspiration on Pinterest.  If you have a Pinterest account, maybe you are like me and pin pictures of yummy-looking foods with every intention of making them…and then completely forget about them.  Well, occasionally I do go back and have a second look at those archived “must try” recipes.  It usually happens when I want to create something new, and am exploring the possibilities.  A lot of times, my Pinterest boards disappoint me.   But, not this time!

This was inspired by one of those recipes I had pinned on a Pinterest board long ago.  I was saving it for the perfect occasion. Cookies with bacon in them.  Fathers Day and bacon seemed quite synonymous to me…

Manly Man Cookies, adapted from Juanita’s Cocina
makes 12 large cookies

2 c. plus 2 T. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1.5 sticks (12 T.) unsalted butter, softened
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 t. vanilla
1 t. maple flavoring
1/2 c. chocolate chunks/chips
1/2 c. peanut butter chips
1/2 c. crumbled pecans or walnuts
1 lb bacon, cooked crispy and chopped into bits
[Glaze]
3/4 c. powdered sugar
pure maple syrup
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars with a hand mixer.  Add in eggs, vanilla, and maple flavoring, and beat well.  Add in dry ingredients (in two stages) and mix well.  Fold in chocolate, peanut butter chips, and nuts, and about 1 c. of bacon bits until will mixed.
Chill dough at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 325F and line two baking sheets with parchment.
Spoon dough into 6x cookies per sheet (about 1/4 c. per cookie) in mounds.
Bake about 15-20 minutes, until the edges just turn brown.  Do not overbake.
Cool 5 minutes on baking sheets, then move to wire rack.
Mix glaze, starting with 1 T. syrup and adding more syrup until glaze can be drizzled (not runny).
Drizzle glaze onto cookies, and top with any remaining bacon pieces.  Let set and serve.
On a nutritional note
I had the pleasure of talking about sports nutrition with some motivated young athletes and parents this past week.  One of the athletes asked a question, which seems to be on a lot of peoples’ minds, whether or not we all admit it.  The question “is bacon bad for me?” is one that makes me smile.  I think that most people would expect a nutritionist to make a disgusted face at first mention of the word “bacon”, due to its bad reputation as an artery-clogging, saturated fat bomb.  Still, others protest that bacon is actually a health food (intrigued?…read this interesting article).  But, I happen to enjoy eating the stuff.  With eggs, wrapped around asparagus, and yes, in cookies.  [No disrespect to those who have any number of reasons to avoid eating bacon or any other food…to each their own.]  I also enjoy chocolate, wine, coffee, carrot cake, cheese, pizza, bread, ice cream, and an occasional cake donut-hole with rainbow sprinkles…I believe that God made all of these things, and that He gave me a taste and appreciation for so many different foods, so I may enjoy them at the proper times and in the proper amounts, with thanksgiving and praise to their creator. 

flOats

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I am a fan of Fluid Performance and Recovery products for a few reasons:

1. They taste good, and give me fuel for intense workouts, long workouts, and post-workout recovery.
2. The folks at Fluid are super cool.
3. I can make fun things with Fluid nutrition products, like pancakes, shakes, cookies, and oatmeal.

This oatmeal is packed with quality carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, fiber, and vitamin E-antioxidant (wheat germ).  It is also delicious, and perfect for breakfasts, recovery meals, or midnight snacks….

Fluid Oats
(print this recipe)

Serves 2:

Rolled/quick oats, about 1/2 c

Oat bran (or more oatmeal), about 1/2 c
Water, about 2 c., to cook oats
Wheat germ (or flaxseed meal), about 1/4 c
Almond milk, to taste
Fluid chocolate recovery, 2-3 scoops
Banana, 1 whole, smashed
Peanut butter, to taste
Cinnamon/fresh nutmeg/cocoa powder, to taste

Cook oats and oat bran together in water (microwave or stove-top).  Stir in wheat germ, almond milk, Fluid, banana, peanut butter and desired spices.

Snarfblat

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Do you recall the profound moment during the animated feature “The Little Mermaid” in which Skuttle discovers the real purpose of a pipe (aka. “the snarfblat”)?  Need a little mental refresher?  Here you go:
You are welcome.  I hope that this discovery changes your life in a big way.  In case it doesn’t, let me show you an alternative use of the snarfblat which may have equally-intensifying effects upon your life’s course.
Recently, my mom’s friend made her an egg cooking device which I believe is an evolved species of the snarfblat.  It looks similar, but has a shorter snout.  This object is not intended for smoking purposes, but is a very special snarfblat type which can be used to cook eggs in the microwave…
It is actually quite simple to use. 
Just beat two eggs with a fork or whisk in a small bowl, and add water (enough to fill half of an egg shell).  Beat again, and add any desired grated cheese, spices, herbs, or diced veggies.  Pour the mixture into a greased snarfblat (I use pam to spray the whole surface and lid).  Place the lid on top, and microwave for about 2.5 minutes (start with 2 minutes and add time as needed to cook eggs).  Add salsa, toast, avocado, and whatnot.

my current favorite quick breakfast
Are you a bit envious of my snarfblat?  While I cannot make you one, nor can I promise that my mom’s friend can send you one, I can tell you that there are some similar products out there for microwaving eggs:
Try this one.…or this one.  Also, I am fairly certain that there are many microwaveable containers of this sort.  You just need something the right size to fit your eggs, with a lid, and a little ventilation. 
I actually tried eating some snarfblat eggs with buttered wheat toast and salsa as a pre-marathon breakfast, and I had great results.  I used to think that eggs before workouts was a pretty newbie mistake, but now I believe that it is a veteran secret!  I decided to experiment after seeing a friend eat hard boiled eggs on race morning.  It may sound risky, but eggs are satiating, and provide beautifully complete protein!