Friday, August 31, 2012

Let’s Not Panic

I got up this morning at 5 AM to get in a swim.  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but swimming is not my favorite discipline.  I want to get faster at it more to just get the workout over with faster than anything else.  I also make sure to get it in at least twice a week so that when I get in the water and I’m less than ten strokes and the inevitable anxiety sets in, I can tell myself, “You know how to swim.  Calm down.  You’ve done this enough.  Breathe.  Swim”.


Let’s travel back in time to my very first triathlon.  It was a super-sprint… swim .15, bike 10, run 2.  I had trained in the pool for the swim with no open-water swims.  What did I know?  I thought, ‘water is water, swimming is swimming, doesn’t matter where or the situation’.  WRONG!  I took in so much water, I immediately wanted to turn around.  But, since the swim was so short, I was pretty much half-way done.  I was kind of screwed.  I wanted to swim to the guy on the kayak and hang on for dear life but again, the swim was so short, it would have taken as much effort to get to him as it would have been to finish.  Well, I didn’t die.  Obviously since I’m writing this.  It was pretty awful though.  Even though the super-sprint triathlon wasn’t exactly well executed, I did like it and decided to stick with it.


My lessons learned from that was 1) stay to the side or the back of the crowd and ease into the water.  I wasn’t out to win first place, I just wanted to finish, and 2) get open water swim practice in before the race. 


Skipping ahead, I’d like to share my 2nd near death by water experience.  It was my first triathlon longer than a sprint, the Miami Man International distance tri, swim .6, bike 22, run 6.6.  I was able to get in some more open water experience with a couple more sprint distance tris and I also did a couple of open water swims before the race on my own, +1 point.  This was also my first wetsuit race.  I had learned my lesson and made sure to swim in the wetsuit a couple of times (for like 5 minutes in a pool), +.5 points.  Race day: I got this.  I get into the water and swim around a little to warm up.  I come out maybe a little too soon and stand around waiting for my wave.  I position myself to the side, but in the front.  I got this, remember?  The start gun goes off, I run into the water and start swimming.  One, two, three, four, five strokes, turn, breathe.  CRAP!  I can’t breathe.  The water is so cold and the wetsuit is choking me.  I pull on the neck and water starts pouring into my suit.  Great!  Now, I’m going to weigh myself down with extra water in my suit.  I tried to continue by breathing every three strokes, but still couldn’t catch my breath.  And, to top it off, some girl insists on staying right in front of me kicking right in my face.  So, I stop and just wade the water letting her get away from me.  I tried to swim on my side, but started to get a cramp.  So, I started to breast stroke to just keep moving forward and keep my head above water to catch my breathe.  Once I finally calmed down, I moved back to horizontal, trying to breathe every stroke.  Once I had that down, I moved to every 2 strokes.  Then every 3.  Then alternating 3, then 4.  About 5 minutes in, I had finally settled into a rhythm and was able to start passing some people.  I survived!  Final swim time – 18:49.  I also managed to pull off finishing 1st in my a/g.


I’ve only had one other race with a wetsuit, the Atlantic Coast Triathlon Half Iron distance.  It was much more well executed.  I did more open water swimming --- IN my wetsuit, warmed up longer in the water right before the race started and I didn’t run out guns a blazin’ like I did in the Miami Man race.  My sighting skills are still a work-in-progress.  But, I’ll take that shortcoming over panicking.  Final swim time – 43:26.  I was able to pull off a 4th place a/g finish.     


I was reading the Cook Train Eat Race blog and found a past posting about anxiety during the swim.  It’s definitely worth a read, siting an article from ESPN and mentioning Susan Lacke’s blog post ‘How to Survive Your First Open Water Swim: 8 Tips for the New Triathlete’.  After a few trial and errors my lessons learned can pretty much be summed up with the ‘seven ways to get over open water anxiety’ and Susan’s post --- which is entertaining as well as informative.     

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Stretching and Strengthening - Why/When/How

I got up at 4:30 this morning to do a 1hr 20 min bike ride and a 4 mile run after.  My legs were already tired from the 2 - 45 min spin classes with an extra 30 minutes of med-easy spinning between.  I made it through 5 sets of 1 mile sprints this morning on the bike.  Now comes the run.  I finished, it wasn't as fast as the last couple of weeks' 4 mile brick runs, but I finished.  I knew it wasn't going to be pretty when the first 10 steps made my knees ache so bad.  I thought for sure my IT band was going to start acting up.  Thankfully it spared me. 
Tonight at the gym, I was supposed to do legs and 3 - 1 mile repeats at 6:47 with a half mile rest in between.  I spent 45 minutes working on legs doing the following:
  • box jumps - 20
  • walking lunges with an 8lb dumbbell in each hand
  • hip adductor - 25 @ 70 lbs
  • hip abductor - 25 @ 70 lbs
  • jack knives with my hands on a plyo box and my feet on a medium sized ball (I love this one for core work) - 12
  • single leg dead lifts on the Bosu (this is good for core and stability work too) - 10 each side with a 15 lb dumbbell
  • calf extensions - 25 @ 70 lbs
  • finished with leg kicks over hurdles
I was hoping that the hurdles would loosen up my legs a little.  It didn't.  My legs from my hips down to my ankles were aching.  The "tired and need rest" aching.  I didn't want to push it since I am too close to my race ro risk an injury now and I still have a lot of long training and hard training sessions left.  I decided to do 15 minutes on the elliptical then stretch and call it a night.
Now to the point of the title of this posting.  Stretching and strengthing your hips and legs are important to reducing injury and pain from running, like IT Band syndrome and Achilles tendonitis.  This is the 'why'.  When should we stretch?  Well, before and after a run.  I like to try and get in a stretch every day, even if I don't run.  It's usually static stretching and sometimes it's just a simple bend over and touch my toes, reaching to each side and forward.  Just a little something to keep from getting stiff. 
Stretching is as important before a run as it is after, though.  I've read in a couple of places that stretching before a run should be dynamic stretching.  I used to do walking lunges but recently read an article that included swinging your legs to the side and forward.  After a run, static stretching is better.  5 Key Stretches for Runners is a short article on pre- and post-run stretches.
'What about strengthening?' you ask.  In my workout, I made sure to do hip work.  This is because strengthening your hips helps prevent IT Band syndrome.  This article, Strengthening, Not Stretching, to Deal With Iliotibial Band Syndrome, talks about it citing a research study that showed success with 23 out of 23 test subjects.  Here's another article with gives the same exercises to strengthen the hips and also steps to test your hip strength - All In The Hips.  I also read about the benefits of strengthening the hips about 6 to 9 months ago in another article.  If I can find it I will update this post with a link.               
This is one reason I like to do yoga. It's a whole class devoted to stretching AND strengthening. 
When it comes to deciding whether to 1) crank out another hour of tempo running or sprints on tired legs OR 2) doing an hour of strengthening and stretching I like going with option 2.  My runs are still getting faster and I haven't had any IT band issues in over a year.  I hope to keep it away for ever.        

Fail. Times Two.

I love to bake.  Even though I don’t usually eat more than a taste of most of the sweet things I make for my husband, there’s something that therapeutic for me about the whole process of spending time in the kitchen measuring and mixing. When it comes to cakes, cookies, and quick breads, I am pretty confident in my ability to make modifications to recipes on the fly and still end up with a decent end result.  It’s only over the last couple of years that I have become comfortable baking bread with yeast. I have always stuck very close to whatever recipe I’m using, and all of the recipes that I have considered successes have been made with white flour.  One of my favorite bread recipes is for pumpkin knots; yesterday I decided I wanted to make them but replace the bread flour with a mixture of white whole wheat flour and oat flour.  I did a minimal amount of online research, and it seemed like it should be relatively simple.  Um, turns out I was wrong.  This is what came out of my oven. 
gross pumpkin bread
It tastes worse than it looks, as hard as that might be to believe. I think my lunch break today is going to include a trip to Barnes & Noble to buy this book on baking healthy bread.
And the second failure of my day was an even bigger disappointment than the inedible pumpkin bread.  I have been dying to see The Campaign with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, and last night my husband and I finally both got off work in time to go.  It’s not funny.  I think I may have laughed three or four times during the entire movie.  The highlight of the movie was breaking into this new-to-me Quest Bar Apple Pie protein bar that I snuck into the movie.  It was delicious.  It actually had chunks of real apples, and it only has 170 calories for 20g of protein.  I will definitely be ordering more of these.
quest bar

Thankfully, today has started off on a more positive note.  My workout was awesome – a tempo run that went better than expected after running repeats yesterday and a leg workout that included another new PR for me, this time on squats.  I’ve been following The Shortcut to Size program from for the last month, and I will have completed Phase 1 at the end of this week. I will post a more in-depth review after wrapping this phase up, but I will say that I have definitely noticed gains in strength over the last four weeks. Very exciting!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Early Bird to Rise Gets the Worm

… or something like that, right?  I know there are some people out there who are natural early birds.  Ironically, it seems like my whole family is like that. Why didn’t I get that gene?  There are also people who prefer to get up early to get their workout over and done with.  It’s hard to go through 8+ hours of work, traffic, and family, and then still have energy to knock out an hour or two at the gym.  I generally feel like just going home and sleeping after work at least 3 out of the 5 days.  There are also some people who feel energized the rest of the day if they get their workout done in the morning.  This is a rarity for me.  I’m pretty bouncy for the first couple of hours after the workout, but sure enough, if I don’t have some coffee around I will be in physical pain trying to keep myself awake. 
I do not prefer to wake up early.  On a side note, I <3 breakfast.  Good thing you can eat it any time of day  Smile.  To me it just feels totally wrong to wake up before the sun.  And, it feels soooo good to sleep.  But, with being in the heart of the Ironman training, there’s just no getting around having to do two-a-days during the week and getting up early on the weekends to beat the heat.  For about 6 weeks now, I’ve been waking up between 5 and 6 AM 5 days a week (3 during the week and both weekend days).  This should feel natural by now.  But nope, it’s still hard.  Here are some of the tricks that I play on myself to get up early … to get the worm:
- put my phone (aka alarm clock) on the other side of the room or in the bathroom.  This rarely works on the first try.  I usually get up, hit the snooze, and lay back down 

- pick out my clothes the night before and put them in the bathroom.  Last week and this week I’ve actually been picking out my workout clothes for the entire week.  When I’m tired sometimes trying to decide what to wear can take 15+ minutes.  My mind just goes blank and I stare at my clothes hoping the right ones will just walk into a pile on their own

- I tell myself “You know that if you don’t get up now and get this workout done, you’re not going to have time to do it later and you’re going to be more mad that you missed it than happy that you get to sleep an extra hour”

- I don’t wash my hair the night before.  Like I said, I’m doing a lot of two-a-days during the week.  I’ll take a shower so I don’t stink, but I won’t wash my hair.  This means that my hair is greasy and gross.  So, if I’m tempted to skip my AM workout to get an extra hour or so of sleep, I don’t get the full hour because I still have to get up a little earlier to wash my hair    
- I set up workout dates.  My training group for the bike and Sarah for my long weekend runs have been the backbone to this working.  I don’t know that many people, actually I don’t know anyone, besides these select few who are willing to get up before the sun to get in anywhere from 1 hour to 5 hours of a workout.  Perfect example.  A friend of mine who just did the Louisville Ironman, every time I invited him out to the long group bike ride on Saturday, he would make a “that’s gross” face when I mentioned what time we started, followed by stating “that’s so early”
I haven’t found anything that says waking up early is beneficial to your health.  Just make sure that you get enough sleep to give your body time to recoop from the day. 
How does everyone else feel about waking up before the sun to get stuff done?  If you don’t like doing it and you have to, what tricks do you play on yourself? 

Empty the Fridge Sweet Potato Hash

In stark contrast to last Tuesday, I woke up this morning refreshed from my rest day and excited to knock out my repeats on the treadmill and get in some solid strength training.  I was apparently so excited, in fact, that I somehow managed to accidentally shorten what should have been 400m recovery periods to 200m.  I wanted to make sure I hit my target of 5.5 miles, so I tacked on a couple of 200m repeats at the end.  It was a tough run, but I’m really happy to be feeling more comfortable with my speedwork again.  I also set a new PR on the bench press, and I think I could have gone even heavier if I had a spotter.  All in all, it was a great morning at the gym!
When I got home, I was craving sweet potatoes. I opened the fridge and saw a crisper drawer full of veggies leftover from last night’s dinner that needed to be used and decided that a sweet potato hash was in order.  I recalled seeing a recipe for Eggs and Sweet Potatoes with a Cottage Cheese Sauce on Endless Simmer; in addition to the boatload of vegetables I wanted to use, I had the last little bit of a can of chipotle peppers in adobo, so I got to work whipping up my own version.

sweet potato hash 1

Spicy Sweet Potato Hash
Makes 4 Servings

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into small cubes (This was about 2 1/4 cups for me)
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced into small cubes
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime Seasoning Blend
salt and pepper to taste
1 large zucchini, diced into small cubes
1/2 cubanelle or poblano pepper, finely diced
1 cup of chopped onions
1 cup of assorted chopped bell peppers

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss the sweet potatoes and carrots with the cumin, Mrs. Dash, salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray or lined with a Silpat, and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
Remove the sheet from the oven; add the remaining veggies, and toss them in with the sweet potatoes and carrots. Return to the oven and roast for an additional 20 minutes or until they are fork tender.

Fat: 0.5g
Carbohydrates: 30.6g
Protein: 2.9g
Nutritional Info calculated on

Adobo Cottage Cheese Sauce
Makes approximately 8 two tablespoon sized servings

1 cup 2% cottage cheese
1 tbsp diced chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsp diced jalapeno
a few sprigs of cilantro, leaves and stems

Add all ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.

Fat: 0.6g
Carbohydrates: 2.7g
Protein: 2.9g
Nutritional Info calculated on

sweet potato hash 2
I put a serving of the hash in a bowl, added about a tablespoon of the adobo cheese sauce, and topped it all with a fried egg.  The sweetness from the potatoes combined with the heat from the chipotle & jalapeno peppers in the cottage cheese sauce and the drippy egg yolk was the perfect way to refuel.  I ended up with a lot more cottage cheese sauce than what I used on the hash, but I’m glad because I can definitely see myself using it to spice up sandwiches, wraps, or even just plain chicken breasts.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tiring and Rejuvenating

When I looked at the schedule for last week I immediately thought, ‘This is going to kill me’.  This is what was scheduled:
Monday – Off – THANK GOODNESS!
Tuesday  - :45 swim, 1:30 bike, strength training – upper and abs
Wednesday – 1:45 bike, 1:15 run, strength training – lower and abs
Thursday – 1:00 swim, 1:05 run
Friday – :45 swim, 1:00 bike
Saturday – 4:30 bike, 7 mile brick run
Sunday – 18 miles 
I’ve been following the schedule from the 36 Week Ironman Training plan from  This was Competitive Week #6.  The whole training plan is a little aggressive, but I just try to get in what I can.  I don’t always follow the prescribed workouts, but try to get in the assigned time for the day.  Tweaks I’ve made:
Swim – starting 6 weeks ago, every other week for the long swim session, I do 7 sets of 6 X 100s… a total of 84 laps (down and back is 1).  Swimming is my weakest point.  So, I want to make sure that I can keep myself going for at least an hour.  Right now, 84 laps is taking me about 1 hr and 10 min with 30 – 60 sec rests between each completed set. 
Bike – Tuesday’s I do a spin class and usually come in a little before and/or stay after the class to finish the time that I need to get in for the day.  Wednesday’s I meet up with a small group to do sprints at Davis Island.  On the weekend for the long ride, I meet up with most of the same group from Wednesday (sometimes there are a couple of new people), and do whatever mileage they’re doing.  Starting this week and about every other week until the race (Beach 2 Battleship 10/20/2012) I’ll be doing a century ride.
Run - The max this training plan has me running after the long bike ride is 50 minutes and the longest weekend run is 2 hr 45 min. and that is even broken up with an hour bike ride.  That’s actually this week’s plan.  Starting a few weeks ago I started running 6, 7, or 8 miles after my long bike rides (depending on how many miles the bike was).  I’m working up to do a 10 miler after a 100 mile bike ride in 3 weeks and then a mock run of the ironman in 4 weeks where I’ll be doing a 30 min swim, 70 mile bike ride, and a 16 mile run after.  Augusta Half Ironman is the week after that where I’ll be trying to get the feeling of prepping for the race as far as nutrition before and during and calming down my nerves before and during the race.  I’ve also changed the plan to get in a 26 miler (or at least 24) 5 weeks before the race.
Strength and stretch – The plan doesn’t have anything in it for strength training.  I like strength training and I think it’s important to have it in any triathlon workout regimen.  I try to get in at least one day of upper and lower each, abs twice a week and I always stretch afterward.  Yoga is very important as well.  I’m not always as good about going to yoga class as I should.  But, when it gets about 4 weeks until the B2B race, I’m going to aim for once a week.   
The changes I’ve made are because I am OCD when it comes to knowing that I can finish a certain distance.  I spend my time during the week working on my speed and strength and I spend the weekends working on the distance.  I don’t necessarily take it easy on the weekends, but I listen to my body and if I’m feeling good, then I push a little harder.          
But, back to last week’s recap.  The training time isn’t a big deal to me.  It’s more of a “how the heck am I going to fit this in with work and sleep?”.  I’ve already given my boyfriend a heads-up that I will be almost non-existent for the next few weeks, but I still try to get in some QT with him.  I did manage to get in everything that was planned Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  I skipped everything on Friday.  I could have gotten it in.  But, I was bored with training.  It had consumed my every last bit of extra time I had during the week.  I wanted to just relax on Friday and kick butt on Saturday and Sunday.  And, that’s what I did.  Saturday was supposed to be a 90 mile bike ride, but turned into 98 miles because my biking group, including me, were feeling pretty good.  It didn’t hurt that we had a tail wind after the turnaround point.  My last 7 mile brick run was after a 70 mile ride 4 weeks ago.  I was 3 minutes faster on the run this week!  Sunday’s long run turned out to be the cherry on top.  Sarah and I finished the strongest we’ve finished in a long time and it was one of our longest run of the summer.
Actual workouts:
Monday – off
Tuesday swim, Tuesday bike
Wednesday bike #1, Wednesday bike #2, Wednesday run
Thursday swim – forgot my watch.  But, I finished the 7 X 6 100’s in 1 hr. 15 min.
Thursday run – ran on the treadmill and didn’t want to wear my watch.  This is what I did:
warm up: 15 min jog
main set: 3 sets of 4 X (7:02 min/mi for 1:45, 8:00 min/mi for :30); 8:00 min/mi for 4:00 between each set
cool down: 3 min @ 9:00 min/mi
Friday – off
Saturday bike, Saturday run
Sunday run, Sunday bike cool down

What’s coming up:
Monday – upper and abs (maybe)
Tuesday – :45 swim, 1:20 bike, strength – upper and abs if not done on Monday
Wednesday – 2:00 bike, 1:30 run, strength – lower and abs
Thursday – 1:00 swim, 1:15 run
Friday – :45 swim, :30 run
Saturday – 20 mile run (maybe break up into 1:45 min outside, indoor bike for :45 min, another 1:00 on the treadmill)
Sunday – :30 swim, at least 80 mile bike ride, :30 run

Things I’m Loving Lately

1.  This song.  Only 15 days until their new cd comes out.  I am seriously counting the days.

2.  The Newsroom.  This show is so smart and so well acted, and watching the way Jim looks at Maggie sort of makes me melt.

3.  Hot chocolate. Yeah, I know - it’s August in Florida. What can I say? I’m a freeze baby, and all that chocolaty goodness for under 50 calories can’t be beat.
Hot Chocolate

4.  This nail polish.  It’s a little bold for my hands, but I am loving it for my feet.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Run I’ve Been Waiting For

Finally!! After what feels like weeks and weeks of torturous (dramatic much??) long runs, today was the day I’ve been longing for. We covered a little over 17 miles feeling strong and with a faster pace than we’ve seen in a few weeks.
2012-08-26 long run
Was it easy?  No.  It was tough, but it was tough in a satisfying way.  I had a subpar week as far as training goes. I was feeling tired and rundown, and only three of my fived planned workouts actually happened, so I was nervous about how this morning was going to go for me. We started at 5:30 AM in an attempt to beat the heat, and after two days off from the gym, it took awhile for my body to wake up and to find its rhythm.  Four miles or so into the run, I noticed that the miles were passing relatively quickly, and I settled in and started enjoying the cool breeze from Tropical Storm Isaac.  After the run, we went into the gym and cooled down with 30 minutes on the bike and a quick abs circuit.  It felt SO good to accomplish all I set out to do and to finish it feeling good after struggling to make it through the week. 
Today’s run energized me, and I am feeling ready to tackle the week ahead.  This week looks a lot like last week since I took a couple of unplanned rest days.  Normally I would just put missed workouts behind me and move forward, but right now I am following structured plans for both running and strength, and I want to make sure I don’t skip any of the prescribed workouts.
Monday: Rest Day
Tuesday: 5.5 Miles of Repetitions: 4 x (200m in 0:48 with 200m jog + 200m in 0:48 with 400m jog + 800m in 3:11 with 400m jog), Chest/Biceps/Calves
Wednesday: Tempo Run: 3 x (12 minutes at 7:27/mile pace with 2 minute rests), Plyo Workout/Functional Exercises
Thursday: Stairs, Boxing, Legs/Abs
Friday: Interval Run: 6 x (800m in 3:24 with 3 minute recovery jogs), Shoulders/Calves
Saturday: Long Run
Sunday: Rest Day
In other news, today is our six year anniversary. I’m so lucky to be married to someone who never complains about the fact that virtually all of our vacations revolve around races I want to run and who never shows frustration with the fact that my alarm goes off before 5 AM most Sundays. Oh yeah, and there’s all that money I spend on running shoes and workout clothes and protein powder and Gu gels and the list goes on and on. In order to say thanks for always supporting me, I made my husband one of his favorite Argentinean desserts, pasta frola.  My pastry skills, much like my cake decorating skills, need a lot of practice.  The lattice work on the top should be thinner and the lines should be much cleaner, but it sure does taste yummy.  Besides, it’s the though that counts, right??
Pasta Frola 4

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sweet Tooth Saturday – Easy Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes

choc fudge cupcakes
For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to learn how to decorate cakes. I’m the girl who sees pictures like these on Pintrest, and I literally swoon.
cake collageSources here, here, and here

While I should just bite the bullet and sign up for a class, I never seem to get around to it, so I decided to use the trusty old interwebs and attempt teach myself.  I don’t like to set myself up for failure, so I started small and simple – with cupcakes.  Since I knew I’d probably be quite slow piping the frosting, I wanted to find a quick and easy cake recipe.  A search of my bookmarked recipes led me to these cupcakes from Simply Recipes.  I made them exactly as written, but I made the careless mistake of grabbing Extra Virgin Olive Oil from my pantry.  I didn’t even think about it until my husband took a bite of the cupcake after eating all the frosting off the top, and his first question was, “So, what exactly is in these?”  When I mentioned the olive oil, he said that he could definitely detect its flavor in the cupcake.  Since he was a big fan of the frosting, and I love the idea of cupcakes that don’t require butter, eggs, or a mixer, I decided round two was in order.  This time I replaced the olive oil with coconut oil and substituted the vanilla extract with coconut extract. The changes produced a cupcake that was even more moist than the original recipe, and I loved it, but the husband still complained of a “distinct” taste from the coconut oil. Turns out when the man wants a chocolate cupcake, he really just wants to taste the chocolate!
Easy Chocolate Cupcakes
Just barely adapted from Simply Recipes
Makes 12 Cupcakes
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of warm water mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons of instant coffee granules
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 6 Tbsp melted coconut oil

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together water and coffee granules.  Add the vinegar, coconut extract, and coconut oil.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until they just come together. Do not over mix.
  5. Ladle the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about two-thirds of the way full. Place in oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a bamboo skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool completely on a rack prior to frosting.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting
Adapted from Allrecipes
Makes enough frosting for 12 cupcakes with leftover frosting
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  1. In a large bowl, beat butter and cocoa together until combined. Alternate adding milk and confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth after each addition. Add vanilla and beat until incorporated. Adjust with more milk or confectioners' sugar if necessary.
When it came time to frost the cupcakes, I referred to Our Best Bites for a very helpful tutorial.  I definitely need to continue working on my frosting technique, but I’m excited that my first attempt wasn’t a total disaster.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Healthy Indulgence – Roasted Banana Protein Cinnamon Rolls

I grew up on a farm near a tiny town in North Dakota - the kind of town where you know everyone, you never lock your door, and you leave your keys in your car when you park it in your driveway. Mountain is the kind of place where your neighbors randomly pop in at all times of the day to share a cup of coffee and talk about the weather and discuss the crops. My grandma lived right in town; she was (and still is) an amazing baker as well as being extremely hospitable, so her house was never without some delicious homemade treat in the kitchen waiting to be shared with whomever decided to drop in. Growing up, I would get particularly excited when I would go visit her and discover one of two things – ponnukokur or caramel rolls. Ponnukokur are a ridiculously yummy Icelandic crepe-like dessert….making them correctly requires a special pan and more patience than I have on an average day, so I haven’t yet made the effort to create a “healthy” version in my own kitchen.

When it comes to the caramel rolls, however, I am a woman on a mission. I recently came across a recipe on Healthiful Balance for Protein Cinnamon Rolls that looked promising. The first time I made them, I made them exactly as written, and they were amazing. Never one to leave well enough alone, I started dreaming up the different variations I could whip up. I recalled having seen Roasted Banana Cinnamon Rolls on Picky Palate, and I decided to combine the two.
Banana Cinnamon Rolls

The Dough:
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 scoop vanilla flavored protein powder
1/4 cup egg whites
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Dash of salt
2 packets of Truvia or equivalent sweetener of choice
5 tablespoons water

The Filling:
2 packets Truvia or equivalent sweetener of choice
Ideal Brown Sugar to taste – I like things sweet, so I used about 1.5 tablespoons
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground almonds
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon Torani Sugar Free Salted Caramel Syrup
1 large banana
1 teaspoon of Butter Flavored Extract

Preheat your oven to 425°.

Spray a small baking dish with butter flavored cooking spray. Slice the banana into the dish and sprinkle with the Ideal Brown Sugar. Bake for 20 minutes until the bananas are golden and bubbly. Remove from the oven and let cool while prepping the other components.

Reduce the oven temperature to 380°.

For the dough:
1.) Add the dry ingredients into a big bowl and mix well with a spoon.
2.) Put the dough on a silicone baking mat and roll in into a ball.
3.) Take a rolling pin and roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness or less. The dough may be a bit sticky; if necessary, sprinkle the dough with a little additional coconut flour.

For the filling:
1.) When the bananas have cooled, smash them with a fork.
2.) Add the remainder of the ingredients to the bananas and mix well with a spoon.
3.) Put the mixture on the rolled out dough and evenly spread it out.

Making the rolls:
1.) With a knife, cut the dough into three long strips. Roll each piece up, pressing the dough together to keep it from cracking as you roll.
2.) Transfer the silicone baking sheet with the cinnamon rolls on it to a cookie sheet.
3.) Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cinnamon rolls are golden brown.

cinnamon rolls 2

I ate this with some Laughing Cow Cinnamon Cream Cheese spread on top, and they definitely fulfilled my craving for cinnamon-y goodness without undoing my efforts in the gym. 

The approximate nutrition stats based on the ingredients I used:

Roasted Banana Protein Cinnamon Rolls nutrition

Now just to come up with a healthier alternative to the marvelous tasting but butter and sugar laden caramel sauce....

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Gaining / Maintaining Weight and Long Distance Training

About a month ago I was talking with Sarah about how I was not losing any weight even though I was watching what I was eating and I was scared to see how much I weighed on Monday morning.  What was happening is I would start Friday at 118 and Monday morning I would be 119 or 120.  I wasn’t tracking what I was eating, though.  When I don’t actually write down or somehow record what I actually eat every day I end up lying to myself.  I think that I’ve only eaten the foods that I planned on eating and anything extra was insignificant, especially with all the working out that I do.  Sarah had mentioned that maybe I wasn’t eating enough after I listed off the things that I normally eat during the week.  She was using a free online food, health and fitness tracking program called SparkPeople.  She sent me a snapshot of what she ate during one day with the total calories, fat, carbs, and protein.  She was eating a lot more than me and staying within a healthy range.  I decided to set up an account on SparkPeople and start tracking my food and fitness.  Sure enough, after a couple of days, I realized I wasn’t eating enough during the week and I was making up for it by snacking on nutritient-lacking foods.  I also realized that I was killing all my hard work on the weekends (when I have my really long rides and runs) by stuffing my face with carbs.  I thought it was ok because “hey, I just biked 80 miles and burned 1400 calories or I just ran 15 miles and burned 1200 calories”.  Also, I wasn’t taking into consideration the calories that I was taking in while I was working out.  It doesn’t seem like much, but after eating 4 Gu’s on an 80 mile bike ride and drinking a bottle of Gatorade I’m looking at about 600 calories and close to 140 grams in carbs.  That’s already half the calories I burned.
I love to eat.  One of the benefits of training for long distances or just working out in general is that I get to eat more.  But, I have to be straight with myself.  I can’t eat twice as much just because I think I’m burning twice as much.  Just like a pregnant woman can’t eat twice as much food because she thinks she’s eating for two*. 
Ironically enough, about a week ago, I got an email from Runner’s World with their weekly new posts and articles.  One of them was “Miles and Meals – why marathon training doesn’t always help runners shed pounds”.  After I read the article, I was like, “Yup, that me.  Yup, that’s me too”.  The article has three main points as to why runners gain weight and then tips to avoid the weight gain. 
The first point is you’re hungrier.  I feel like I’m always hungry.  I remember a few weeks ago I had a 1hr swim session after work.  I ate some cheese and fruit about an hour before I left work.  The gym is 45 min. away with traffic.  After I change and get in the pool, it’s been close to 2 hours since I’ve eaten anything.  I was a little more than half way through the workout and I started to get a side cramp.  I slowed down and it went away but about 5 minutes later I started getting dizzy because I was so hungry.  I had to stop so that I could go home and get something to eat. 
The second point is that you’re overcompensating.  I was definitely overcompensating… and letting myself cheat almost every time I saw something yummy because I thought I deserved it.
The third point is that you’re gaining muscle and/or retaining fluids.  I do agree with this, but not as strongly as the other two points.  I don’t think I’m gaining muscle.  But, I could be retaining fluids because of all the carbs in the Gu, Gatorade and other carby-foods I was eating after my workouts.  Plus I generally only drink water. 
Tracking my food has certainly helped.  Over the last month, I’ve lost 3 pounds – from 119 to 116.  My main goal with training is not to lose weight.  But, ideally I would like to be between 110 and 115 for the Ironman and stay within that range.  At the bottom of this article, “What’s Your Ideal Weight?”, it gives a table with a rough estimate of how much faster you could be with a given weight loss amount.  Here’s another site that will do the rough calculation for you, Running for Fitness.  Now, this is just for running.  I don’t think I’ll see any significant benefits on the bike because the B2B Ironman course is relatively flat, but there is most likely going to be headwind.  But, I’ll take what I can get.  And, a 4 or 5 minute reduction in my run time alone could mean A/G placement in the Ironman or even a new PR in one of the marathons that I have later in the year.             

PB&J and Banana Omelet

Last Sunday after our long run, I was lying in bed watching reruns of Diners, Dives, and Drive-Ins on Food Network.  One of the episodes I caught featured a diner in Kansas City that had a peanut butter and jelly omelet on its menu.  In my perfect world, a balanced diet would consist of Skippy peanut butter & Smuckers strawberry jelly on Wonder Bread and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and not much else, so needless to say, when I saw a slightly healthier and higher protein method of eating my beloved pb&j, I was intrigued.  I finally got around to whipping up my own version, and it’s definitely something that will become a regular in my post-workout breakfast rotation.

For the eggs:
1 cup egg whites
3 packets Truvia
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp cream of tartar
Splash of peanut butter extract
½ large banana

For the peanut butter sauce:
1 tbsp peanut flour
2 tbsp water, milk, etc. (I used unsweetened flax milk)
1 packet Truvia or sweetener of choice

1 tbsp jelly, thinned out with just enough water to make a sauce (I used Smucker's® Sugar Free Strawberry Preserves with Truvia)

Make the peanut butter sauce by whisking the peanut flour, Truvia, and flax milk together.  Add a splash of water to the fruit preserves and whisk together.  It may be necessary to microwave for 15 – 20 seconds to get the water and preserves incorporated.

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Spray lightly with cooking spray.

Blend the egg whites, Truvia, baking powder, and cream of tartar with a hand mixer or immersion blender until light and frothy.  Add the egg whites to the preheated pan.  Once the eggs are mostly set, carefully flip over.  Slice the banana over one half of the eggs.  Drizzle the peanut butter sauce over the bananas and fold the eggs in half over the bananas and peanut butter sauce.  Put the omelet on a plate, drizzle with the fruit sauce, and enjoy!

Nutrition information calculated on

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Fresh Start

"Every day is a fresh start; don't measure yourself by yesterday's troubles." 
~Dagny Scott Barrios, running writer

This was the Women’s Half Marathon Motiviational Monday post on Facebook this morning, and talk about a post with perfect timing for me!  After training hard for the Fargo Marathon in May and finishing with a time that exceeded my expectations, I knew I needed a break from a strict running schedule.  I took a couple of months off from following a structured plan and focused more on strength training to build some muscle. However, I have a relatively busy race calendar that kicks off next month, so I knew I had to keep up my endurance.  Maria is training for an Ironman-distance race in October, and I decided that accompanying on her long runs would help me maintain my endurance, and having a training partner would hold me accountable and make getting up before the sun rises every Sunday bearable.  The first few weekends, the runs were fantastic.  Our pace was nearly a full minute faster than where we were last year at this time, and we were both feeling great.  The last few weekends, however, have been miserable for me, with yesterday being the most difficult long run I’ve had since last summer.  The plan was to cover 9 miles outside, go into to the gym for 30 minutes on the bike, run 6 additional miles on the treadmill, and finish up the day with some ab work.  I was actually really looking forward to yesterday’s workout.  I was feeling confident and energetic after another strong week of training in the gym, I got to sleep in since we weren’t starting until 6:30 AM, and I had loaded up my iPod with some great new music.  However, 2 miles in, my legs were done.  Maria appeared to be feeling great (despite biking 100 miles on Saturday – she’s a warrior!), and since I am just tagging along on her training plan, I did my best to keep up with her.  Our splits weren’t too bad:

Once we got inside, however, I had no illusions about keeping up with her pace on the bike or the treadmill.  She managed to cover an entire mile more than me on the bike in 30 minutes and finished the 6 miles on the treadmill a couple of minutes faster than me (I finished in just under 51 minutes).  After literally having to use every last ounce of my willpower to get through 3 abs exercises, I was really frustrated and discouraged, and I spent a lot of yesterday wondering what I’ve been doing wrong these last few weeks – is it my diet, am I not resting enough, am I resting too much, do I need to do more steady state runs during the week, etc.?  I didn’t come up with any answers, but the post from the Women’s Half Marathon gave me some much needed perspective and served as a reminder that there are going to be bad training days – days where every step is painful, days when my heart is just not in it, and days when my body literally cannot do what I am asking of it.  But there are also going to be great days – days where I feel like I can fly and mornings when I get to watch dolphins frolicking as the sun rises over the bay and I’m reminded of what a gift running has been in my life.  It takes both kinds of days to prepare you for the mental and physical challenges of running a marathon. 

So, thanks to a reminder from Facebook, I’m putting yesterday behind me and I’m focusing on the week ahead.  Here’s what it looks like:

Monday: Rest Day
Tuesday:  5 Miles of Repetitions: 4 x (200m in 0:48 with 200m jog) + 2 x (400m in 1:36 with 400m jog) + 1 x (800m in 3:11 with 800m jog) + 2 x (400m in 1:36 with 400m jog) + 4 x (200m in 0:48 with 200m jog), Chest/Triceps/Calves
Wednesday: Tempo Run:  3 x (12 minutes at 7:27/mile pace with 2 minute rests), Personal Training Session (Back/Biceps)
Thursday:  Stairs, Boxing, Legs/Abs
Friday:  Interval Run:  6 x (800m in 3:24 with 3 minute recovery jogs), Shoulders/Calves
Saturday: Rest Day
Sunday: 18 Miles

And here’s what will be cookin’ in the kitchen:

Sweet and Spicy Turkey and Sweet Potato Stew Sweet and spicy flavors are so delicious together, and I love using the crockpot on days when I don’t feel like spending a ton of time in the kitchen.
Chicken Parmesan Baked Pasta I am going to reduce the pasta to 8 oz and add shredded zucchini and carrots; I also plan on using about half the mozzarella that is called for.
Rustic Crusty Bread This is my go-to recipe for simple and delicious homemade bread, and the tutorial is so clear and easy to follow.  I need to find a whole wheat bread recipe that is this convenient and tasty, so let me know if you have one.
Orange Cashew Rice with Baked Fish  I’m going to make this with flounder and brown basmati rice.  I love cooking fish with citrus flavors, so I am sure this will be a winner.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Why I Like Training With Others

When I first started running and triathlons I did almost 99% of my training alone.  Over the last couple of years, I've been very lucky in finding people to train with that have kept me motivated to get up at 5 AM, finish a workout, and push myself during training. 
Let's start with running:
Last Saturday, I did an 80 mile bike run with my new biking group.  It was about 11 AM when we finished.  The sun and humidity were out in full force.  But, I wanted to get in a 6 mile brick run.  So, I put on my running shoes, grabbed my water bottle and headed out down Bayshore Blvd.  I made it to Ballast Pt. Park, only 2.25 miles into the run, and was dead tired.  I filled up my water bottle twice and was heading back for a third refill when I stopped and talked with a couple of guys that I passed on Bayshore.  We were talking about running, training, and some group runs around the Tampa area.  They asked me what I was doing for the day and I told them that I was trying to get in a 6 mile run, but I didn't think I was going to make it.  They extended an invitation to let me run with them to get in the extra .75 miles that I needed.  They were running at a slower pace which is what I needed at the moment, so I accepted.  Thanks to them, I was able to get in my 6 miles.  Granted the last 1.5 miles took every last bit of every I had for the day.  But, I made it. 

Here's one more example of why it's good to train with other people.  Wednesdays are sprint work days on the bike followed by a short 4 mile run.  Earlier I wrote about how stressful last week was and Wednesday I was unmotivated to work hard at all.  But, Wednesday morning, because of Fred(one of the Wednesday group riders) I got in my 4 mile brick run.  Fred is a good runner and a little faster than me, pushing me to run faster.  I'm not going to lie.  The first mile was rough.  The other three miles weren't that pleasant either.   
My solid as a rock training partner for long runs is Ms. Sarah.  Right now she's training with me on Sundays to keep up her endurance. But, without her, I would not be able to get up as early as I need to and I probably wouldn't finish all of the miles that I need to get in. I remember the days when I was running solo and there were many times when I would need to wake up at 5 AM to get in a long run before it got too hot. With no one waiting for me, I would snooze for 5 min, snooze another 5 min, and before I knew it, it was 8:00. Ugh... now what? Well, I could wait until it 6 or 7 when the sun starts to go down. But, then I'm running at night alone. Most of the route I take isn't that bad. But, there are a few areas that are kind of sketchy because the lighting isn't very good and there aren't many people around. For instance, the .5 mile starting one block over to the end of my street. It's all commercial/construction buildings with very little lighting. I jump when I see a cat at night. The other option is to spend the next 2 hours on the treadmill. One hour is doable. Resetting the treadmill to get in another hour takes a lot of will power. Thankfully, Sarah has saved me from this.  Today is a good example of this.  I had 9 miles to run, 30 minutes on the bike, then another 6 mile run.  Not that bad.  Yesterday, I got in my second 100 mile bike ride.  It was the hardest bike ride I've ever had.  I felt like I had run a marathon when I finished.  If I was alone today, I would have wimped out and cut my Sunday training in half.  Thank you, Sarah, for being there to keep me going.

I've mentioned an 80 and 100 mile bike ride.  Both have been with the new biking group that I started trainig with a couple of months ago.  Thank goodness I found them.  I would not have made half the rides I've done.  This last 100 mile ride would have only been 60 miles if I was by myself, if at all.  It started raining at about 7:15 and didn't stop until 1.

Sometimes it's good to get out there alone.  Those days are usually when you just want to clear your head.  Or, for a triathlon, want to train to mentally stay focused when you're out there alone.  Key word is 'sometimes'. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sweet Tooth Saturday

My husband has a HUGE sweet tooth.  In fact, it was his love of sugar that brought us together in the first place.  We lived in the same dorm our sophomore year of college, and I was feeling quite sorry for myself one Saturday night because finals were approaching, and I was forced to stay in and study.  In order to make this injustice more bearable, I decided to bake myself some brownies.  When I went to pull them out of the oven, I suddenly felt someone invading my personal space.  I turned around and saw this boy whom I had always thought was cute but a little stuck up peering over my shoulder with a longing look on his face.  I decided to be nice and offered to share my brownies with him. We ended up sitting in the lounge and talking until the middle of the night.  I was immediately smitten, but he was slower to wake up and smell the brownies, if you will.  However, my persistence eventually paid off, and here we are 15 years later.

Anyway, the point of that trip down memory lane?  One of the ways I try to keep the romance (anyone who knows me can positively hear the sarcasm dripping off that word) alive is by always having a homemade baked treat around for him to snack on.  Thanks to the many talented bloggers I follow, I have a constantly growing list of delicious treats to try out on him.  I wanted something quick, easy, and portable this week, so I chose these Flourless Peanut Butter and Nutella Oatmeal Cookies from Simply Scratch

Photography is not exactly high on my list of over to the original recipe for pictures that do these delicious cookies justice.

I made the recipe almost exactly as written, except I only had about a quarter cup of Nutella. I wanted to make sure the chocolate flavor remained strong, so I used a quarter cup of PB & Co Dark Chocolate Dreams to make up the difference.  I also made 24 cookies rather than 16 the original recipe indicates, and as far as cookies go, the nutrition stats aren’t too shabby.  
Nutrition information calculated on
Pillowy is the best word I can think of to describe the texture, and as far as taste goes….well, is it even possible to go wrong with the chocolate peanut butter combination?? I don’t think the husband was expecting a flourless cookie because his first comment was, “These are weird.  Good.  But weird.”  However, despite the “weirdness” of the texture, he proceeded to eat five of them over the next few minutes, so I am considering these a success.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Stress and Training

This week has been a crazy ride on the Life Rollercoaster.
Monday was my rest day.  So, pretty calm and relaxing.
Tuesday morning I got up and did my planned hour swim with no issues.  I took the day off from work to get some errands done and for a little R&R.  Made it back to the gym at 5:00 for 10 minutes of abs followed by a quick 5 minute stretch in preparation for a 60 min spin class.  I wouldn't say I felt strong during the class, but I was keeping up with no real issues.  I went next door to my favorite tri store - Kona Multisport for a bike 101 overview and to meet the New Tampa Tri Club, which I also joined while I was there.  More on that in another post.  During the meet up, my renters called to tell me that the A/C was not working.  And, so begins the slow rise in stress.  I wasn't able to get anyone out to check out the A/C that night.  I didn't get a good night sleep because all I could think about was 'how much is this going to cost me?'.  A/C fixes are never cheap. 
Wednesday mornings I usually meet up with a few people from a group that I've been riding with for a couple of months who are also training for an ironman around the same time as mine.  Wednesday are fartleks (essentially sprint work) on the bike for about an hour followed by an appx. 4 mile run.  I just was not in a 'go get 'em' mood.  1/2 to 3/4 of the way through each sprint session, my energy level was at about a 2 on a scale of 1-10.  I felt a little better after I looked at the final numbers on my garmin.  The Davis Island Sprint Workout posted about the same numbers as the those from 2 weeks prior.  When I got to the run, I was almost positive it was going to be around an 8:30min/mi run.  I thought I would be lucky if I got in 1 mile faster than that.  Prior weeks were around 7:45.  If I would have been by myself, I would have just gotten in my car and left.  Thankfully one of the riders enjoys the run so always sticks around and that helps me.  The first mile was about what I expected.  But, it got better.  Davis Island Brick Run
Split Time Moving Time Distance
1    08:18.1     8:13            1
2    07:45.8    7:44             1
3    07:28.5    7:24             1
4    06:45.3    6:44            0.94
Summary   30:17.6   30:05.0  3.94

I was able to get someone out to look at the A/C later that day.  The technician said, "It could be the motor, the module, or both.  If you bought the unit 8/15/07 or later (making it a five y/o unit), the parts will be covered under warranty.  Otherwise, it'll be $470 for one of the pieces, $821 for the other, or $1291 for both."  <Queue jaw drop>.  So, for the rest of the day I was totally stressed about the A/C.  Nothing got done on Wednesday because the technician had to get a diagnostic tool to determine exactly which part it would be and I needed to find out when I had the unit installed.  As soon as I got home, I looked for the purchase/install receipt.  Guess what the install date was.  Go on...  8/4/07.  I was out of warranty by 11 days!  Normally I would have gone to the gym for some upper body strength training.   But nope.  I got home late from work and spent the rest of the night looking for the purchase receipt and searching online to see if I could find something that said I had a longer warranty.   I was so aggravated.  And, skipping my workout made me feel even worse.   
Thursday morning I was successful in getting myself up to do my swim workout and managed to put in a decent effort.  I was able to get to work early, but figured I would have to stay late anyway.  The rest of the day was spent on the phone, back and forth, with the A/C company trying to figure out my options.  Around 3:00, they called me and said, "I have good news."  Yay!  Good news! "It's the cheaper part.  So, it will only be $470."  Oh, thank goodness!  I was so relieved.  To add to this goodness, I finished my work early so I was able to leave on time.  I have run sprints on Thursday.  I was pumped and ready after all this.  Once I got to the gym, I got started on the treadmill right away.  The session called for a 15 min warmup; couple of minutes of run ups to prep for the main set; 4 X (1200 in 5:00min w/ 400 in 2:00 min); then the rest of the time was a cool down.  Here's what I did:
Over the 15 min warmup period, I started at 6.0 and worked up to 7.0
For the run ups, I did 3 X 20 sec @ 9.0 (6:40 min/mi) w/ 40 sec @ 7.5 (8:00 min/mi)
Main set - #1 & #4 1200 @ 9.5 (6:18 min/mi) w/ 400 @ 7.5 (8:00 min/mi)
                 #2 & #3 1200 @ 9.4 (6:22 min/mi) w/ 400 @ 7.5 (8:00 min/mi)
For the cooldown I spend 3 minutes working my way down to 6.0, then walked at 3.5 for the last 2 minutes. 
Total time - 50 minutes
I spent another 40 minutes doing strength training for legs and lower back and 20 minutes on abs and stretching.

Final analysis: Stress sucks!  It can throw an ugly, heavy monkey wrench in life and your workout and sometimes it will hit you on the head and give a nasty bruise.  But, things get fixed and body parts heal.  Try to lessen stress by working it out in your workout.  There are numerous articles and studies that confirm working out relieves stress.  It's not going to make it disappear, but it'll make it a little more bareable until whatever issue(s) pass... as all things will eventually.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Long Run & The Week Ahead

Yesterday morning’s training plan called for a 19 mile run followed by an easy 30 minutes on the bike at the gym.  After two really great interval sessions on the treadmill last week, I was hopeful that we might actually have our first enjoyable long outdoor run in over a month.  Once we got going, it didn’t take long to figure out that this was not going to be the magical, reinvigorating run we were hoping for, thanks to the 93% relative humidity and complete lack of a breeze.  Marathon training in Florida during the summer is such a joy!  However, we did manage to make it through 12.25 not-so-speedy miles outside before heading into the air conditioned comfort of the gym, where we ran for an hour on the treadmill to get in our last 7 miles. 

After a 30 minute cool down on the bike, it was time for my favorite part of our Sunday routine – breakfast at First Watch!  The remainder of my day was spent lying around watching the Olympics, reading blogs, and meal planning while cuddling with two adorable puggies.  

I think Sundays are my favorite day of the week. 

And since it’s Monday, here’s what’s on tap for the rest of the week:

Monday:  Rest
Tuesday:  Chest, Triceps & Calves, 12x400m repeats with 400m recovery jogs
Wednesday:  Personal Training Session (Legs), Elliptical Intervals with some plyo thrown in
Thursday: Shoulders, Abs & Calves, Boxing
Friday:  Back, Biceps & Abs, 40 minute tempo run
Saturday :  Rest
Sunday:  15 Mile Run, Biking

As well as a few recipes that will be coming out of my kitchen this week:

Blueberry Lemon Chia Jam Muffins - These are actually in the oven as I type, and they smell heavenly!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Making good impressions

This is my first official post on this blog. For now, there is no rhyme or reason to how blog postings from me will be.  Hopefully this first blog will interest you enough to come back.   
I'm currently training for my first Ironman distance triathlon, Beach to Battleship in North Carolina on 10/20/2012. I'm about 10 weeks out from the Ironman triathlon, but do have a few races before then. Back-tracking, I had a triathlon last weekened.
Siesta Key Olypmpic Distance -
Final time 2:30:54; place - 2nd overall women
Swim - 29:36
T1 - 1:38
Bike - 1:07:17
T2 - 1:25
Run - 50:52
Race evaluation:
Swim was good because the water was pretty calm. Usually sighting is what kills my time, but I managed to stay more on course than any other race. Still working on swimming. This is definitely my weakest point. Any thoughts/ideas/suggestions on how to improve? I try to concentrate on keeping my head down to keep my butt up, rotate my upper body, and to stretch my arm out just after it's entered the water before I begin pulling.
This was my fastest bike to date. The group training rides have really helped my speed. I've gotten in a lot more hill and speed work as opposed to long and steady that I usually do when I'm by myself. There are two loops on an open road for this bike course. It's usually early enough for the first loop that there's not that much traffic. But, as you come around for the second loop, all the riders on the road makes the car traffic back up as well. It can get a little hairy and makes it difficult to pass sometimes.
I've done this course 3 other times. The entire run is on the beach. It is definitely the hardest 6.2 mile run for a triathlon I've ever had to do. I was a little angry at the end of the bike leg because of some of the other riders being all over the place on the road. Every time I would try to pass them, they would speed up so I couldn't. And, when I slowed down and got back behind them, they would slow down too so that I was right behind them and had to go to the far right or far left of the lane so that I wouldn't draft. The last 2 miles I just gave up and decided to let my legs relax a little and figured I would catch them on the run. Sure enough, I passed them before the first mile.
Overall, I like this race. As I said earlier, I've done this course 3 other times, and 2 of them were with through Multirace. They didn't execute this race as well as all the other races, but I still enjoyed it. They are really good at getting the results out super fast. They will print out your results as soon as your done and post them on flat screens with your ranking. I even had an email with my results before I got home.
Pre-race -
1.5 cups of cheerios and non-fat milk at 3:30. Race started at 7:15. About 30 minutes before my wave, I had 3 Powerbar energy bites - Oatmeal Raisin... these are soooo yummy. They had samples of the Powerbar energy gels, so I had one about 15 minutes before wave start.
During race -
Drank water and gatorade in T1. About 15 minutes into the bike ride, I had a Gu energy gel. At mile 21 of the bike (3 miles left) I had another Gu energy gel. On sprint and olympic distance triathlons, I only have my Profile water bottle on the bike. I always drink all of the water by the time I hit T2. At mile 3 of the run I had my final Gu energy gel. There was an water station at mile 1.5, 3, 4.5, and 6. I took water at every station and some extra to pour on my arms, legs and head to try to cool down some.
Post race -
About 5 bottles of water and a strawberry MuscleMilk. I tried to eat, but I felt awful from the heat.