Thursday, November 29, 2012

Marathon Humor

With less than 72 hours to go before the start of my third marathon, I’m finding it hard to concentrate on anything other than running. I’ve spent most of tonight obsessively browsing marathon-related websites instead of packing or finalizing my playlist (you know, the things I should be doing), and I came across a few funnies I thought were worthy of sharing.

FCM race sign

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Taking It Easy Before Vegas

Few more days to Vegas.  I'm getting more excited every minute.  I still don't really know what I'm going to pack.  I think that it'll be a good race.  It'll be interesting to see what it's like to run in dry, cold weather.  I've run at night before so I know that I can have a fairly big meal at breakfast and then just need to snack the rest of the day until the race. 

I made it to the gym yesterday and got in a 4 mile run with 2 miles being 1 mile repeats at 6:30.  I wasn't sure how that run was going to go, but I finished dripping with sweat at the end of 32 minutes.  I did some weights afterward focusing on back and biceps.  I felt cramped up the entire time, though.  But, I made it through and did a light stretch afterward. 

I went for my second swim since B2B this morning.  It went well.  I felt good when I woke up which is always a good start when I'm on my way to swim.  I could definitely tell that it's been a while though because I got water in my ears during the first lap and probably about another 10 times by the time I finished.  Here's what I did:

warm up:
  • 5 X 50 with swim fins
  • 5 X 50 with board - 3 laps kick, 2 laps - pull right arm down, pull left arm back
  • 5 X 50 with pull buoy
main set:
  • 5 X 50 - 25 easy, 25 fast
  • 5 X 100 - med-hard pace
cool down:
  • 2 X 50 - 25 breast stroke, 25 back stroke
It wasn't a lot but it was a nice ease back into things.  I got to use my new Garmin 910XT too.  I think I'm in love with it.  It tracks your distance in the pool and it was right on the entire time.  I'm sure it's not always, 100% of the time, going to be accurate.  But, if it can get through 30 laps and it measures the whole thing exactly, I'll take it.  When you set the watch to 'lap swimming' it measures how far you go by the strokes you take.  Pretty cool. 

I am finally not tired and I have about 2 hours of free time right now.  I am going to use this time to get started on creating my training plan for Vineman. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Taper Town…aka the Kitchen

The day after Thanksgiving marked the first day of an abbreviated tape for the Rock’n’Roll Las Vegas Marathon. Since then I’ve gone a few short, easy runs, done a couple of boot camp style workouts and spent a lot of time stretching and walking. I’ve also spent more than my fair share of time in the kitchen cooking things that don’t necessarily fall under the category of health foods but do qualify as quite tasty.

Cesar’s birthday was Sunday, so many of the things I made were for his birthday dinner. First up, this amazing baked Brie. I didn’t even get a chance to take a picture before it was more than half gone, but trust me when I say it is fantastic. So fantastic, in fact, that I made twice in one weekend. I made it once with apricot preserves as the recipe suggests, and I made it a second time with fig jam. The fig jam was preferred by my taste testers.

Next I whipped up this Quince and Mascarpone Tart, which is a gussied up version of Pasta Frola, one of Cesar’s favorite treats.

Quince Tart with Mascarpone
I thought the creaminess of the mascarpone was a nice complement to the sweetness of the quince, but Cesar prefers the original, unadorned version. I finally got a chance to use the mini pie cutters I bought on clearance at Crate and Barrel last year. How cute are those fall shapes??

Cesar requested a marble cake for his birthday cake, so after some web browsing, I settled on this recipe from Food & Wine.

Cesar's Cake
Please ignore the awesome decorating job I did. I was in Miami visiting family and didn’t bring any of my cake decorating tools. Of course, let’s be honest -  it probably wouldn’t have been much better even if I had brought them. Anyway, some of the reviews of the recipe state that the cake turned out dry, so after baking it, I poked both layers with holes and soaked them with a bit (or lots) of amaretto. I also put the leftover candied walnuts from the baked brie between the layers. We all thought it turned out pretty well, but I don’t think this particular recipe warrants a repeat appearance in our house.

And now for the most awesome thing to come out of my kitchen this week – Movember cookies!! My husband, as you can see in the photo above, is participating in a Movember challenge with a bunch of his coworkers. Today was their last department meeting before the end of the month, so I decided to send some cookies to work with him in celebration of the completion of the challenge. I bought these ridiculous Munchstaches Cookie Cutters from Amazon, and I had a lot of fun playing with them last night. If you are looking for an easy to roll, soft sugar cookie recipe, I highly recommend this one from I replaced half the granulated sugar with powdered sugar and doubled the vanilla. The dough was some of the easiest sugar cookie dough I have ever worked with, and the cookies came out soft and buttery, just the way I like them.

Movember Mustaches!
I clearly did a little bit of indulging over the weekend, but from now until the race on Sunday, it’s going to be lots of clean eating! I don’t foresee a PR in Vegas, but I do want to enjoy every minute of my time in Vegas, and that means toeing the start line with a solid taper under my belt

Monday, November 26, 2012

Getting Over Thanksgiving and Thinking About Next Year

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and didn't get hurt during any early Christmas shopping that you may have tried to squeeze in.  I am definitely a Cyber-Monday shopper.  Getting up at 4:30 for a 2 hour workout is hard enough.  Getting up before 4:30 to stand in line and deal with crazy people for the next 12 hours is borderline suicide for me.  So, I did a 2 hour spin class Friday morning which definitely helped me feel a little better about all the food that I ate.  I was able to get in a bike ride on Saturday and a productive 8.8 mile run on Sunday.  Saturday was the first time that I have been on my bike since B2B.  It was awkward getting down into aero position at first.  But, after about 90 seconds I felt right at home again.  I also received an email today from the group that I trained with a lot on the bike and they are ready to start getting into a regular training schedule again.  I am very happy about this.  It has been a real struggle to get motivated to do even 30 minutes of an activity for the last couple of weeks.  I feel like even my stretchy clothes are too tight to wear.  Doesn't help that it's that time of month either.  <shrug> What can you do, right? Move on.  Daniel's cousin posted on Facebook the other day a picture of a girl sitting on a bed hugging her knees with the caption "Why can't mother nature just send a letter once a month saying "Congratulations, you're not pregnant"?  LOL.  So true!

In other news, I'm looking forward to the Las Vegas trip coming up.  Almost all of my favorite people will be there.  What's better than travelling somewhere fun with awesome friends and family and being able to get in a race?  Not much.  I really don't plan on hitting a PR, but as long as I finish the race feeling good and can finish under 3:45 I'll be a happy camper.   

I also talked to a tri coach today.  He was very nice and easy to talk to.  I'm still not sold on needing a coach.  Even though he really wasn't trying to sell me anything.  He was pretty open and understanding when I told him that I don't really need him to set up a training schedule for me.  But, that I would find him more useful to me when it came to creating a strength training program to integrate with the tri plan.  I think that I would take him on as a tri coach if I didn't already have groups that I train with now.  I don't have a swim group and I told him that I would like him to help me with that and with speed work as well.  We'll see how this develops.  He told me that he was ok with just letting me talk to him when I needed some advice and wanted to bounce ideas off of him too.  One take away that he had for me was to think about what I wanted out of tris and running.  To think about what my short term and long term goals were other than just time goals.  I went to the gym today and was thinking about it the whole time.  This is really hard because when it comes to competition, really the only measurable thing is time.  But, racing doesn't always have to be competitive.  It can be fun and/or challenging.  Honestly, if I could, I would quit my job to do triathlons, run races, coach, put on races, and run my own store.  But, at least for the next 5 years that's a pipe dream.  So, in the meantime, my goal is to race at Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas, Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, and I want to qualify, not win in a lottery, for New York.  I want to find what my breaking point is.  Why do I want to do this?  Because I can, for now it's fun, and I like meeting people while training and being healthy as opposed to drinking beer and eating greasy food that only makes me happy for 3 hours at most but makes me feel awful physically for the next 12 to 24 hours and mentally for the next week.  Yesterday I went to the Bucs game and drank 3 beers at the game and 2 beers at a bar after the game.  I ate 3 slices of pizza at the bar.  I passed at around 6PM and woke up around 10PM.  I felt awful.  I had to drink a ton of water, take an advil, and passed out again until 7 AM when I had to get up to go to work.

Over the next couple of days I'm going to try and put together a training plan and hash out some training days with my various partners in crime then maybe have another chit-chat with the tri coach, Jon.   

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

This is supposed to be a blog mostly about health and fitness. Unfortunately, neither of those things have come into play in my life over this last week. Friday night, Cesar noticed that our cat, Syd, was breathing a little heavier than normal. She’s gotten kitty colds a couple of times in the last few years, so we decided we’d see how she was on Saturday morning and take her to the vet to get some antibiotics if she was still feeling rough. When I went to check on her in the morning, her face was covered with dried mucus and she was very lethargic. We took her to the vet where they did some blood tests and took an xray. To make a long (and sad) story short, the diagnosis was carcinoma and we were told to expect the worst. I was supposed to go to Miami on Saturday to run a half marathon, but I decided that spending time with my sweet cat was far more important than any race would ever be, so I stayed home instead.


Syd ended up in the ICU in an oxygen chamber which kept her comfortable for about day, but the cancer was so severe that even on oxygen, it became clear that keeping her alive was not in her best interests, and Cesar and I let her go early Tuesday morning. So instead of racing and lifting and cooking and enjoying deliciously healthy treats these last few days, I’ve been mourning the loss of the most precious cat I’ve ever known by laying around my house cuddling with pugs and a sad husband and eating S’mores Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies (these are amazeballs, btw) and peanut butter straight from the jar.

However, today is Thanksgiving, and instead of focusing on the deep sadness of losing the cat who has been my faithful companion for the last 11 years, I’ve decided it’s time to reflect on all the amazing gifts in my life. I’m grateful that I did get so many years with Syd. We adopted her from the Humane Society, and all they could tell us about her was that she had been found out in the country as a stray. She was an affectionate cat with an adventurous streak; she never met a fence from which she didn’t want to escape. She was also a teacher – she showed my best friend’s kitten how to use a litter box and taught my oldest pug how to sit on the very top of any piece of furniture. I have a very saggy couch thanks to her passing on that piece of knowledge. She loved to lick butter and sit in weird places like empty boxes, half unpacked suitcases, and on top of empty flower pots. Our time together was a beautiful gift, and I wouldn’t trade a second of it.

syd collage
I’m thankful to have a husband who is kind, generous, smart, and ambitious, but who also knows how to act like a little kid and make me giggle like a school girl, even when he is sporting a ridiculous mustache for Movember. I’m grateful for my awesome family. There has never been a single moment of my life when I haven’t felt their love and support, and even from across the country, they share in my grief over Syd and do what they can to let me know they are there for me. I’m thankful for good friends who have known me since childhood and have been there for me through virtually every major life experience I’ve ever had, both good and bad, as well as those I have met here in Tampa – the kind who understand when I cancel on a race we’ve been planning together for nearly a year and who not only motivate me to get off my butt and run when all I really want to do is sit around and wallow but who also don’t mind when I talk about my cat for 10 miles of a 20 mile run. Lastly, I’m glad I still have two pugs who brighten all my days with their silly antics and remind me on a daily basis what it means to unconditionally love another living being.

thanksgiving collage
I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, and laughter. I just got home from feasting on a delicious dinner that I did not have to cook (score!), and now I am about to give in to my food coma and pass out.

Pretty Kitty

Monday, November 19, 2012

Reading Enjoyment

This weekend was fun.  Maybe a little too much fun.  I was fairly well behaved Friday night, but Saturday was Kevin and Becky's wedding.  The reception was at Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City.  Open bar included sangria and the dinner included chicken paella.  I was a pretty happy camper.  I can't say as much for Sunday morning.  Saturday I did Body Pump at the gym and Sunday afternoon, after a couple of naps, I met up with Sarah for a 13 mile run.  It went a lot better than expected.  I also got to test out my new Garmin 910XT that I was able to get half off from a friend.  We only stopped once for an extended period of time and that was for a bathroom break and to fill up our water bottles.  Since we started just before 5 it wasn't too hot and it only got cooler as it got later.  I think that was a saving grace for me.  I think today was my laziest day, though.  I called in sick from work because my throat was sore and I knew I would be useless at work.  I spent most of the day sleeping.  I spent about an hour reading and the rest of the time, if I was awake, it was because I was eating. 

What was I reading?  I was reading this book called "Sex, Lies, and Triathlon" by Leib Doddell.  This is a comical read for triathletes.  I think some runners would find it amusing as well.  I'm only about half way through it right now.  But, Leib talk about the life of a triathlete through some true and some fabricated stories that I'm assuming are based off of some kind of experience that he once had.  The parts that I've laughed the hardest about are when he's talking about health nutrition stores like GNC and NutriShop.  He says (summed up in my own words) "you go into a store and there is a young kid jacked up on new energy and tries to sell you on pre-workout, during workout, post-workout, when you're not working out, when you're thinking about working out supplements.  Why can't they just come up with a supplement so you don't have to work out?"  Another part is when he's talking about how when you tell people that you do an endurance sport, and they don't, they automatically assume that you are always full of energy and ready to get up and go at any moment in time.  Meanwhile, while sitting at work "I have to prop my head up with a pencil so that I can focus enough energy in my fingers to hit the keyboard keys hard enough to let the computer know I mean business".  This part really cracked me up because I literally do this all the time.  Except, I am usually using a water bottle.  Also, he says "it's just about every day that I am so tired that I am almost tempted enough to curl into the corner of the elevator to get 20 seconds of sleep while I'm waiting to get to the 20th floor of my office."  Yup, I wish almost every day I had found a secret place somewhere in my office that I could just go and hide for 10 minutes.  If you're looking for a slightly comical book about triathlons and triathletes, then go ahead and pick this book up.  It's pretty cheap and an easy read. 

On the subjects of eating and reading, I read an article from by Matt Fitzgerald called "When It's Good to Gain Weight".  I thought it was perfect timing for me to find this article because I have gained 5 solid pounds back since October 20.  I really liked this article because it differentiated why losing weight and maintaining a certain weight is different for endurance athletes as opposed to non-endurance athletes.  Here are the main points that I took away from the article:
  • Runners and other endurance athletes like to look good and be healthy too, but they also care about performance, and an athlete’s optimal racing weight is not the same as his or her healthy weight range. Most often, the body weight at which an athlete performs best falls at the lower end of his or her healthy weight range
  • [maintaining a certain weight year round]... For endurance athletes, this is unrealistic. Training and racing occur in cycles
  • (this one is my favorite) You could minimize post-race weight gain by reducing your food intake by an amount that’s commensurate to your reduction in training.  But it would be difficult to pull off because it takes a while for appetite to decrease after a drop in training volume. 
  • It is possible, of course, to let off-season weight gain get out of hand. The best way to avoid this is to take another cue from the elites and set a personal weight-gain limit.
This last point is talking to me (not literally) because 5 pounds is a good weight gain and I need to start reeling it in now.  I started off my tri season at my current weight and so I don't want to surpass that.  Especially since Thanksgiving is in a few days, followed by Christmas and New Year's and then on February 11 I start training for Vineman.  Wish me luck!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Walnut Butter Cran-Raspberry Chia Seed Jam Cookies

Maria and I are heading down to Miami tomorrow for the Rock’n’Roll Miami Beach Half Marathon on Sunday, and since we are going to be spending 8 hours in the car over the weekend, I wanted to make bake some healthier snacks to deter me from buying a bunch of gas station junk food to munch on en route. I’ve been craving nut butters lately like no one’s business, and I have had this packet of Artisana Raw Walnut Butter in my pantry for a few weeks now just begging to be used, so I decided to bake up a clean version of Peanut Butter & Jelly Thumbprints.

Walnut Chia Cookie 1

Walnut Butter Cran-Raspberry Chia Seed Jam Cookies

Makes 16 small cookies
Adapted from here
    2 tbsp natural walnut butter (I used Artisana Raw)
    1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
    1/2 cup fat free ricotta cheese (I used Calabro brand)
    5 packets (or to taste) Stevia
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/4 cup egg whites
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 tsp vanilla extract

    4 tbsp Cran-Raspberry Chia Seed Jam (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Mix everything all ingredients other than the chia seed jam together, stirring until the ricotta and walnut butter are thoroughly incorporated. The cookie dough will be on the wet side.

Using a small cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared pan. Smooth the dough into a round cookie shape using the back of a teaspoon. Make a small indentation in the middle of each cookie and spoon about 1/2 - 3/4 tsp of raspberry cranberry chia seed jam into the center of the cookie.

Bake for 13 - 15 minutes or until tops of cookies start to brown.

 Cookie and Jam

Raspberry Cranberry Chia Seed Jam

Makes 16 One Tablespoon Servings

    1 cup frozen raspberries
    1/2 cup fresh cranberries
    8 packets of Truvia (or to taste)
    1/2 cup water
    2 tbsp chia seeds
    1 tsp vanilla extract
Add raspberries, cranberries, Truvia, and water to a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until the raspberries and cranberries have broken down and become a slightly watery jam-like consistency, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool for about 10 minutes. Add the chia seeds and vanilla and stir. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Jam 1

The cookies turned out soft and chewy, with a nice nuttiness from the walnut butter and a slight tart tanginess from the chia seed jam. These are small (think 2 – 3 bites), not overly sweet cookies, and they taste like the healthier version of cookies that I wanted to make. Speaking of the health aspects of these cookies, the nutrition stats aren’t bad for a treat. As an added bonus, you’re getting clean carbs from the oats and fruit, a dose of omega-3 fatty acids from both the walnut butter and the chia seeds, and a bit of protein from the nut butter, chia seeds, and ricotta cheese. I’ve become a fan of using chia seeds before long runs to help keep me hydrated, so I can feel good about eating these all the way down to Miami Beach tomorrow!

Nutrition Information per cookie
Calories: 32
Fat: 1.5g
Carbohydrates: 2.6g
Protein: 1.9g
Calculated on

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cruises Are Fun, 2 Mile Runs Are Awesome, and Destination Races Are the Best

I’ve been a little MIA lately.  I left Thursday for a 3-night bachelorette cruise starting in Port Canaveral, FL with one stop in Nassau, Bahamas.  We were all well behaved.  I don’t think any of us exceeded 5 drinks in a day, but most days were only 1 or 2.  Of course, we ate like crazy.  I tried to make fairly healthy choices, but within an unlimited supply of ice cream and sweets in the cafeteria, I can only resist for so long.  And, then at breakfast and dinner when you can also eat as much as you want of whatever you want that’s on the menu.  I had some sort of fish for my main meal every night.  But, of course I had to get dessert too  J.  Oh well, I worked out Friday and Saturday on the ship, so at least I wasn’t a total bum.  Oh, and let me just say, it’s quite interesting trying to stay straight on the elliptical and even more so on the treadmill when the ship is swaying back and forth.  I did 30 minutes of cardio both days followed by about 45 minutes of weights.  Friday we were docked at the Bahamas and the day was pretty uneventful except for while we were at Senor Frogs for a quick snack and a drink.  There was a bachelor party there that were entertaining and at some points annoying and gross.  The guy getting married is from St. Pete.  Small world, right?  In case you’re unfamiliar with the Tampa Bay Area, St. Petersburg is about 45 minutes away from Tampa.  The one getting married was also the most annoying and gross.  He ate a huge piece of lettuce from one of our trays and was chewing it with his mouth open.  After he chewed it all up, he tried to spit it back out into the tray.  I kind of wanted to punch him right them.  I think Saturday was the best day.  We spent all afternoon lying out by the pool and the ship entertainment was great.  Also, that was when we discovered that they had Blue Moon on the ship.  Wish I would have known that sooner.  All in all, it was fun.  Not the best cruise experience I’ve ever had, but I was glad to hang out with my friends that I hadn’t seen in a while and just relax for a few days.  I was glad to be home on Sunday, though. 

My training plan had me do 2 miles yesterday.  And, compared to the rough 15 miler that Sarah and I did Monday morning, it was awesome.  I felt like I was flying.  Not because of speed.  It was at an 8:30 min/mi pace.  But, because my steps were so light and felt almost effortless compared to just about every run I’ve had over the last 6 months.  I got done and was ready to tackle the weights.  I started with pull ups and my bubble quickly burst.  I’ve gained 5 pounds since B2B.  My clothes are a little tighter but still fit comfortably.  But, I can really tell the extra weight is there with the pull ups.  I was able to complete 10 at my peak just before B2B.  Yesterday, I did 5.  Granted, it’s still better than none.  But, pull ups are so hard!  I dread doing them almost as much as doing abs.  Oh well.  I’m still happy about my 2 miler.  I’m not going to get upset about it.  I just need to start watching what I eat more closely.  My rest period is over and I need to be more conscious of that. 

Why are destination races great?  Because it gives you an excuse to travel to places that you want to go to and to places that you would never go to otherwise.  It allows you to get in a workout and then eat more of the local goodies that are available without feeling so bad about it.  The one I’m most excited about it is Windsor, California… Wine Country!  I found someone from one of the tri teams that I’m on to get in on the buy 1, get on 50% off deal for the Full Vineman being held on July 17, 2013.  It was great how it worked out.  I posted on the group pages on Facebook if anyone was interested in doing the race with me and gave the details.  Tanner responded within minutes with a “Yes!”, followed by a “I know you!”.  Turns out his girlfriend looked at my bike a few months ago to buy.  We haven’t seen or talked since then.  She didn’t end up buying my bike, but oh well.  I made sure to clear it with Daniel before I even posted the question and again before I registered.  I’m super excited about this destination race because 1) it’s a race that was on my to-do list.  I was planning on not doing any full distance races next year and had actually planned to do it in 2014.  But, that would put it right in the middle of the 2014 World Cup of which I have been instructed not to plan anything during  :), 2) it’s in Wine Country and this time I’m going to get to enjoy it.  Last time Daniel and I went we didn’t have enough time to go to even one vineyard, 3) it's before the September and October festivites that we missed this year because of Augusta and B2B of which Daniel wasn't very happy about, and 4) (this is the most improtant) it’s the week after my 30th b-day.  So, it’ll be a happy b-day to me!  It would be cooler if it was ON my birthday.  But, I'll take it. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


My sister Mindy, and more recently my sister Miranda, have become CrossFit addicts. The other day, they were talking about a WOD that had really pushed them. The workout was called Painstorm, and between the crazy name and not wanting to be left out of the sister workout chatter, I decided to give it a shot today and see if I thought it was as awesome as they both did.


The verdict? It’s definitely a great, challenging full body workout. While I can’t see myself giving up my running or the style of lifting I have developed with my trainers to start exclusively doing CrossFit, I do enjoy throwing in a CrossFit-type day every other week or so as a replacement for my regular strength training routine. The fast pace and constantly changing exercises keep both my mind and body engaged, and I like that most of the workouts can be completed within about 30 minutes.

After the gym, I had some grocery shopping to do, and since I wasn’t coming directly home to eat, I tossed a sample packet of MyoFusion Probiotic Cookies and Cream protein powder into my gym bag. I’m sort of picky about the taste of my protein powders, and I didn’t have high hopes for this one since I was not a huge fan of the old line of MyoFusion protein powders. However, I ended up being pleasantly surprised. It was sweet, but not overly sweet, it mixed easily with ice and water in my shaker bottle, and the tiny cookie pieces made me feel like I was having a more decadent treat than just a simple protein shake. The nutrition info isn’t too bad either. Normally I would choose something with fewer calories and carbs per serving (MRM All-Natural Whey and Dymatize Iso 100 are two of my favorites), but I can see myself buying this in the future for a once-in-a-while treat.

myofusion probiotic nutrition
Nutrition from

Time to clean up the mess from dinner and settle in to watch some college basketball. Go Duke!!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Crockpot Pumpkin Chai Spice Applesauce

I love apple season. I adore going apple picking, I enjoy going to the grocery store and discovering new-to-me varieties (my favorite find this year is the Gingergold), I love eating plain apples out of hand, putting them in my daily oatmeal, baking with them, making apple chips in my dehydrator….my love for apples is pretty much all-inclusive. One of my favorite apple recipes from last year was this Pumpkin Applesauce from The Novice Chef. I decided to mix it up a little by increasing the pumpkin, adding some maple syrup and chai spices, and cooking it in my crockpot.

applesauce 2

Crockpot Pumpkin Chai Spice Applesauce

Adapted from here
Makes about 9 1/2 cup servings

2 ½ lbs apples, cored and roughly chopped (I used a mix of Golden Delicious and Gala)
¾ cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6 packets Truvia
1 tbsp Ideal Brown Sweetener
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chai spice, to taste (recipe below)

Place the chopped apples in the crockpot. Add the water, lemon juice, Truvia, Ideal Brown Sweetener, and cinnamon. Turn the crockpot on low heat and let the apples cook for six hours, stirring occasionally. Add the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and vanilla. If you prefer a chunky applesauce, stir the mixture with a spoon until combined. If you like a smoother sauce, use an immersion blender to mix the ingredients. After the applesauce has reached the consistency you desire, add the chai spices to taste. I used all of the spice blend in my applesauce, but I recommend waiting until the end of the cooking process and tasting as you add since the spices are definitely on the more potent end of the spectrum.

Chai Spice Blend

½ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground nutmeg

applesauce 1

For the minimal effort involved in preparing this applesauce, I was really happy with how it turned out. My apples were perfectly sweet to begin with, but I do have quite the sweet tooth, so I appreciated the extra sweetness from the Truvia, brown sugar, and maple syrup. The pumpkin and chai spices give the applesauce a decidedly warm flavor perfectly reminiscent of fall, and I especially enjoyed the addition of cardamom. This makes quite a bit of applesauce, so in addition to eating it by the bowlful, I have used it in Greek yogurt parfaits, overnight oats, and I think it will also find its way into some apple cinnamon protein muffins in the near future!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I Have a Problem

I am a marketing professional’s dream customer when it comes to grocery shopping. Lately every time I’ve seen some product dubbed “New” or “Limited Edition” or “Holiday,” it has ended up in my cart. And then in my belly. I can’t seem to stop myself, and it’s resulted in an overflowing pantry and fridge. Not everything I’ve bought has been awesome, but there have been a couple of pretty addictive finds.

Back to Nature Sweet Potato Crackers  & Cedar’s Cinnamon Raisin Hommus

sweet potato crackers and hummus
source & source

I found the hommus at Whole Foods the other day and had been eating it with baby carrots; it was okay but I wasn’t completely sold. Then I came across these crackers, and flavor greatness was achieved. Both the crackers and the hommus are only slightly sweet and have a light cinnamon flavor, and there are only a few raisins in the hummus which is a plus in my book. You know what else is fantastic with this hommus??

Stacy’s Simply Gingerbread Pita Chips

So yeah, these are good with the hommus, but honestly, they are every bit as good eaten straight out of the bag. Cinnamon, brown sugar, ginger, nutmeg all on a crispy pita chip…it’s a good thing these are only available during the holidays because I sort of want to eat them all the time.

Thomas Cranberry English Muffins

cranberry english muffins

English muffins are my favorite breakfast bread. I had seen the Pumpkin Spice English muffins pop up on various blogs, and I was dying to try them, but they don’t seem to be in stores here in Tampa. When I saw these at Publix, I made the decision to buy them in about a nanosecond. I’ve been putting homemade turkey sausage, egg whites, and a little Laughing Cow Light Cream Cheese on them for an out of this world breakfast sandwich.

The Fresh Market Harvest Pumpkin Salsa

Fresh Market Pumpkin Salsa
I’m sorry if you don’t have a Fresh Market where you live because this stuff is the best.

Blue Diamond Toasted Coconut Almonds

toasted coconut almonds

These almonds are probably the most dangerous of all my recent purchases.I never used to enjoy coconut, but ever since I started baking with coconut flour, I’ve grown to like it more and more. I find myself grabbing two or three out of the canister basically every single time I walk by the pantry. I walk by the pantry many, many times a day.

Anyone else found a new product recently that is worth buying??

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pizza Night

Pizza is my standard meal the night before a long run or a race. Often I travel to races, so I have to make do with whatever pizza place I can find, but the nights before my long training runs, I usually make my own. When I am am feeling ambitious and have actually managed to plan ahead, I like to bake homemade pizza dough. If I’m in the mood for whole wheat, I go with this crust from Clean Eating Magazine, and if I feel like being nice to Cesar and making a white crust, I like Mark Bittman’s recipe. Often times, I just use a store bought crust, usually opting for either Mama Mary’s Ultra Thin or Archer Farms Ultra Thin and Crispy crusts. I love bread, but the best part of eating pizza is enjoying the variety of toppings that go on the crust, so I always choose the thinnest crust possible. Cesar and I have had a lot of fun lately experimenting with different toppings. Here are a few of our recent favorites.

Caramelized Onion, Fig, Prosciutto, and Ricotta Pizza

I used this recipe from A Hint of Honey as a jumping off point, but I never worry too much about following recipes exactly when it comes to pizza toppings. I caramelized some onions in a mixture of butter and basil infused olive oil and added them to the pizza along with prosciutto, sliced figs, fresh mozzarella, shredded mozzarella, fat free ricotta, and fresh basil. This pizza was sweet, salty, and creamy and definitely worth the price of a container of fresh figs.

collage fig ricotta pizza

Southwestern Chicken Pizza

This pizza was inspired by one of the pizzas on the menu of my favorite Tampa pizza place, Gourmet Pizza Company. It was topped with frozen corn that had been roasted in olive oil and lime juice, black beans, red and green peppers, onions, leftover roasted chicken, fresh mozzarella, and shredded jalapeno jack cheese. I went relatively light on the spiciness since I knew I would be running the next day, but when I ate leftovers after my run, I topped it with a lot of crushed red pepper and some spicy salsa. It was even better with those additions.

southwest pizza collage

Ellie Krieger’s Egg, Ham, and Spinach Pizza

I had never considered putting a whole egg on a pizza until I tried this recipe from one of Ellie Krieger’s cookbooks, but ever since I tried it the first time, I’ve been hooked. This pizza makes a fairly regular appearance in the rotation, as it is relatively light as far as pizza goes. Eggs and spinach are usual suspects in my daily healthy diet, and prosciutto and parmesan both score big in the flavor category, so it’s not necessary to use very much of either to come up with a great tasting pizza. My favorite component of this pizza is the slightly runny egg yolk; I always eat everything around it and save the best for last!

egg, ham, spinach pizza collage

Here are a couple of my other favorite pizza recipes from around the web:

Chicken, Red Grape, and Pesto Pizza from Cooking Light
Strawberry, Balsamic, and Bacon Pizza from Annie’s Eats
Summer Veggie Pizza from Cooking Light
Spinach and Chicken Sausage Pizza from Clean Eating Magazine
Three Cheese White Pizza with Spinach from Cooking Light

I am always (seriously, ALWAYS) on the hunt for new pizza inspirations, so if you have a favorite, please share it with me!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Beach 2 Battleship Recap with Comments From Reviewers

I sent my B2B race review over to some of my training partners for their reading entertainment.  Aaron has done a couple of Ironman races and Dave has done at least 3 and numerous marathons, including Boston.  Some of the comments are directed at Tamara because she was getting ready for IMFL.  However, they are good pointers for everyone.  I thought that their comments to my race review would be very informative and useful to other people.  (If you want to check out the original race review, click here.)  Below are their responses:

Beach 2 Battleship 2012 Race Recap with comments 

The last 6 months of my life have been dedicated to preparing for October 20, 2012. I have tracked my training on this blog for the last few months and now the big day has come and gone. And, now you probably want a review of the race right? OK, here you go…
Thursday 10/18
Aaron: The training time is tough on the family. I am going to do all local and short races in 2013. I might try to sneak in a 70.3 in Florida. But all my training will be short and fast. The exact opposite of what we did this whole year. I am going to do a IM in 2014 and looking at Couer D’Alene.
  • Left work at 1:00 and head to Charlotte, NC. We stayed with friends, Adam and Tiffany, who joined us in Wilmington on Saturday.
  • 9:30 PM – arrived at Adam and Tiffany’s place. The layout of their house is so cool and their kitchen is filled with all these hidden compartments and gadgets that make me want to cook and bake. For people who don’t know, cooking and baking are not an activities that I normally run to when I’m bored. I actually have to plan when I’m going to cook or bake. It’s never on a whim or because I have some extra time during the day.
  • 10:00 PM – ate 2 enormous slices of pepperoni and mushroom pizza.
  • 10:30 PM – took a shower and did pre-race shaving necessities. My skin gets way too irritated if I shave the night before. It needs that extra day to grow back a little. 
Aaron: And now you know why I have hairy legs!
  • 11:15 PM – went to bed with no alarm set. The 48 hours before a race, so I’ve been told and I believe it’s true, is the most important night’s sleep for a race. That’s why I went to bed with no alarm set.
Friday 10/19
  • 7:45 AM – woke up. Had no issues sleeping. I even fell asleep with all the lights on and didn’t wake up with all the bed and floor creaking when Daniel came to bed around 1 AM.
  • 8:30 – had a cup of coffee and a slice of toast with crunchy peanut butter
  • 9:30 – left for Wilmington. It is about 200 miles from Charlotte to Wilmington. It took us about 3.5 hours. There were so many stop lights in between, it was ridiculous.
  • 3:00 – PACKET PICK-UP. This was relatively smooth. You started by handing someone your ID, USAT card, if you have one, and medical waiver form. They give you your packet with your shirt, a water bottle, and some flyers, an envelope with all the race stickers and your bib in it and your chip separately in a little envelope. You move down a little and someone else puts a wristband on you. Move down a little further and someone takes your chip, scans it to register it, and then sends you on your way. Right past the packet pick-up is an information booth.
    • Thoughts on the expo – probably one of the smallest expos I’ve been to. They had some nice visors, shirts, sweaters, and jackets with B2B on it, but it was all being held behind the counter. So, you had to ask to see a size in order to get a closer look and feel and try it on if you wanted to. There were really only about 3 or 4 places and the biggest one that had just about everything that you needed had a huge line. I was going to get something, but didn’t feel like dealing with the line.
  • 3:45 – made it back to the car to get my transition and special needs bags put together. The only bag that I HAD to drop off at the convention center right then was my T2 bag. But, I also had the option of dropping off everything else as well, i.e. T1, T2, and Bike Special Needs. I decided to drop of my Bike Special Needs bag which consisted of an extra bottle of water with MiO Energy just in case I lost a bottle on the bike course. I went sans Run Special Needs bag.
    • In my bike-to-run bag (T2 bag) I had my K-Swiss Kwicky Blade Lights, my run belt with my bib attached and packed with 4 gels (2 Clif Espresso gels and 2 2nd Surge gels), 4 gels that I was going to stuff into the side pockets of my jersey, and my visor. For the next time, I think I’m going to wrap the loose gels together with a band. I wasted some time trying to pick them all out of the bag which I ended up just dumping on the floor anyway.
  • 5:15 – at T1 for mandatory bike check-in. Nothing else was required. I could set up my bike and drop of my T1 bag in the morning. The only thing I did was pump up my tires so I didn’t have to bring my pump in the morning.
    • Looking at the picture, to the left of the Bike Start is where you come in from the swim. You run up a little and grab your bag. As you make a U-turn the changing tents are on your right. For me, after grabbing my T1 bag and making at pit stop in the changing tent, all I needed to do was run towards the Bike Start to get my bike. I couldn’t have been any closer to the bike start!

  • 6:30 – dinner time at Bento Box. Edamame and sushi. The sushi was awesome!
  • 8:00 – 9:30 - made it back to the hotel, got my morning attire set out and my nutrition for the AM and bike together. It was still a little early so Daniel and I had some ‘boom-chicky-boom-boom’ time. Some people may not think that is such a great idea before a big race. But, so far, I’ve had a PR marathon time that still stands and I pulled off a pretty good time on B2B. I’ve had great races and set PRs without it, but I’ve never had a bad race with it. So, that’s my two cents worth on the topic of having sex the night before a race.
OK. Too much information, but I agree. Now I need to meet this Daniel character.
* I seem to recall that my back would feel sore halfway through the bike after doing the wild thing the night before a long race. But that was a long time ago.
    • I couldn’t decide if I wanted to wear my aero helmet or not because I didn’t train with it at all. I stopped using it because it made my neck hurt from the extra weight. So, I opened the question up to my Facebook pals and these are some of the responses I got:
      • Russ – “Yes. Why would you not?” .. “ If you are going to have trouble keeping your head in aero then a regular helmet will work better. An aero helmet can be a disadvantage if you can’t hold it”
      • JP – “Aero helmet… “
      • Thelma – “If you can’t keep the aero position (or there’s a strong crosswind), then it’s not worth it”
      • Wes – “Yes”
      • Rose – “Aero”
      • Paul – “Yes”
    • Unfortunately, even after this I was still undecided. So, I googled my question “Should you wear an aero helmet if you haven’t trained with it?” The first thing that came up was ‘Triathlon Training: Comfort Begets Speed’ by Chris Camichael. Really the whole section of aero vs vented helmet sealed the deal. But, the last line was the deal breaker: “If temps are relatively moderate but it’s going to be windy, then the balance may tip more in favor of the aero helmet.” I did not plan on being on the bike for longer than 6 hours and I did expect it to be cooler temps with some wind. I went aero. Read on to find out how it went!
  • 9:30 – lights out for 5:00 AM wake up.

Saturday 10/20 – RACE DAY!!!
  • 5:00 AM – Woke up immediately. I was ready to go in less than 30 minutes. I grabbed my Bonk Breaker PB & J and started munching on that shortly after I brushed my teeth while I was getting dressed and getting my bottles set up for the bike. I put everything else that I needed in a bag and headed out the door. T1 was only a mile away so I decided to walk and let Daniel go back to sleep.
  • 5:50 AM – made it to T1, put my helmet shoes and socks on the ground by my bike. Filled up my front water bottle with water and put my two other bottles with Infinit and MiO Energy in the back holders. Walked over to T1 changing area and bag drop to drop off my T1 bag and ran in to Pete and Rose. Finished up with the bikes, made a pit stop at the bathrooms, and then headed to the line for the shuttle to the Swim Start.
  • 6:30 AM - On the shuttle Rose and I ended up all the way in the back but were able to sit. Standing in front of us were a couple, Allison and Kevin, that we started talking to. This was their first full distance triathlon as well. It just so happened that they were from Tampa as well. Kevin has a bike store in downtown Tampa, City Bikes. We chatted with them all the way to the Swim start and talked for a little while longer once we were off the shuttle. About 15 minutes before go-time, Rose and I made our way to the water. The sand was so cold my toes were turning blue. I ended up getting in the water to warm up! I didn’t get a chance to swim around, but the water felt warm so I wasn’t worried about needing time to catch my breath.
  • 7:30 AM – At this race they play Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’ just as you are about to start the swim after the National Anthem. The lyrics are pretty fitting for that moment. --- Beginning lyrics of 'Lose Yourself’ --- Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity
    To seize everything you ever wanted in one moment
    Would you capture it or just let it slip?
    His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
    There's vomit on his sweater already, mom's spaghetti
    He's nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready to drop bombs,
    But he keeps on forgetting what he wrote down,
    The whole crowd goes so loud
    He opens his mouth, but the words won't come out
    He's choking how, everybody's joking now
    The clock's run out, time's up over, bloah!
    Snap back to reality, Oh there goes gravity
    Oh, there goes Rabbit, he choked
    He's so mad, but he won't give up that
    Easy, no
    He won't have it , he knows his whole back's to these ropes
    It don't matter, he's dope
    He knows that, but he's broke
    He's so stagnant, he knows
    When he goes back to his mobile home, that's when it's
    Back to the lab again, yo
    This whole rhapsody
    He better go capture this moment and hope it don't pass him …
Aaron: Great song on one they also played at both of my IMs.  
Dave: Where's the chorus..... you didn't put in the chorus.
  • About the swim:
    • Temperature – outside air was about 60, but the water was 72. It felt great the entire swim.
    • The swim is point to point and takes place in an intercoastal waterway. So, there is a current that pushes us in. The current wasn’t as strong as the race directors were making it out to be, but it was there and it was certainly appreciated.
Aaron: I call bullshit on this (current). You swam a 55:10 and you are neither an Olympic swimmer or long and lean like most swimmers J! I have been in pretty damn good swim shape for both of my IMs and I did a 1:08 and 1:12. I am just pissed that you whipped me.
  • What I was wearing:
    • CW-X Compression Tri-shorts, Nike Sports bra, and my Kona Multisport tri top. This was my main outfit and I did not change at all during the race.
    • I used my sleeveless Xterra Vortex wetsuit and had on my funky, multi-colored goggled.
  • My experience during the swim:
    • I wished Rose good luck and we’re off. We positioned ourselves in the middle behind about 6 or 7 rows back to try and stay behind the super competitive guys. I took it kind of easy getting into the water and took a moment to look around for where I wanted to swim at. The first 5 – 7 minutes were the craziest. I got a little kick in the left cheek but wasn’t a big deal. I was just thankful that my goggles didn’t get knocked off. The only other major incident was some guy kept pulling on my feet and legs trying to pull me down or back. I’m not sure what he was trying to do. But, I eventually stopped swimming and turned around and looked at him, giving him a look like “what the heck are you doing? There is plenty of room for you to go around and it’s not like you’re coming out of this water in first place anyway”. I’m sure he knew exactly what I was thinking! LOL. He did stop, though. So, off I went for a pretty uneventful swim. I started on the left and ended up on the right. I’m not sure how I managed that, but that’s what happened. My armpits were starting to chafe and I knew I was going to be feeling that the rest of the day.
Aaron: Very smart starting position. Tamara…start back and to the right away from the buoy line. Take a few seconds to let the crazies crash into the water and then ease it. It is a long day and you cant win it in the water. You will get kicked and you will get pulled on and climbed over. Just flex a little and keep digging your arms hard. Do not get spooked, you will not drown. Just dig dig dig and you will find clear water. Make sure you wear your goggles on the inside of your cap. If they get kicked or pulled off your eyes, you will not lose them in the water. My armpits chafed like crazy also even with body glide. It was my tri shirt against me sleeveless wetsuite. Tamara…use a ton of glide all over. It hurts like hell to get chafed and stings the rest of the day.
Dave: I've seen and heard of people spraying PAM cooking spray on their wetsuits. I guess it makes it slippery but is not bad for the rubber. Chafing is a pain so do what you need to avoid it. 

Me: I have also heard about the PAM technique.  But, on the 'caring for your wetsuit' insert that comes with most wetsuits, it says not to use PAM as well as a few other cheap tricks that people have tried to use. 
    • I really liked that there was a lot of room for everyone to spread out and just swim. I didn’t have to sight too often because I tried to stay in the middle as much as possible and I knew as long as I had swimmers on either side of me I was ok.
Aaron: Tamara…you might not have as much room in FL. Just start back and to the right of the line. Also, try to just follow some other swimmers to stay on course. I look up too often because I am paranoid to go off course and lose a lot of time and energy.

Dave: Be careful here though because I've made the mistake of following someone else who can't swim straight and ended up way off course.
    • I got a cramp in my right side about half way through. I had to start breathing every 2 strokes so that I was only breathing on the side with the cramp. This helped because my right side only hurt when I stretched my right arm out and breathed on the left. I eased back into breathing every 3 strokes by breathing on 2, then on 3, then on 2, and so on until it didn’t hurt anymore when I stretched my right arm out and breathed on the left side. It took a little over 1/4 mile to go away.
Aaron: Never get side cramps but good lesson here is that you didn’t freak out and you didn’t let it get to your head. You adapted and worked through it…Tamara…you reading this?
    • Final time – 55:10, 25th overall female
You suck!
  • After coming out of the water there are strippers there to help you get out of your wetsuit. Once out of your suit, you run a little ways to some fresh water showers that really weren’t that helpful. They were appreciated, but the pressure was very low so were barely effective at getting all the salt water off. I put my head under and tried to rinse off my armpits a little to help the burning from the chafing. But, I gave up after about 30 seconds. It’s about a 1/10 mile run on gravel to the actual T1 area. This hurt my feet. I know, after all the running and beating on my feet that I do, running on some gravel shouldn’t be a problem. But, I definitely had to slow down because it hurt.
  • Once I made it to my bag I ran to the changing tent, opened my bag and proceeded to put on my arm warmers, head band to cover my ears and my sunglasses. The arm warmers were a time waster for sure. I’m really sure if I even needed them. I didn’t feel super cold, but I never got over heated on the bike either. Also, I was given a great idea by Miranda Lessie about putting a plastic bag in my jersey to cover my chest from the wind for the beginning part of the ride. And, when I got hot, I could just take it out and throw it at an aid station. So, this is what I did in place of changing my sports bra.
Aaron: Completely agree on the arm warmers. I put mine on in WI and it wasted time trying to pull them on while wet and didn’t need them. Was not cold or hot on the bike, but didn’t need them. Also, the chicks on the side of the road couldn’t see my guns!
Dave: My thoughts on "wasted" time b/c I am the same way: I was watching the Ironman world championship on TV one year (I don't remember how long ago) and one of the women (I don't remember who) in the lead got a penalty on the bike for something. The way they did it that year was to finish the bike and then serve your time in a penalty tent near T2 at the start of the run. I think her penalty was 6 minutes. She put on her running gear and went to the tent. While she was there she saw 4 or 5 or more other women come through T2 and pass her. But while she was there she also got some rest, drank some of her fluids, stretched her legs, rubbed her muscles and basically got ready for the marathon. When she left the tent, she took off after her competitors. She caught all of them and won the race. The commentators said it was probably because of the 6 minute rest she took before the run. I think she said herself that her run split was probably faster because of the penalty. Would she have been 6 minutes faster without the penalty? Probably not. Was it "wasted" time? Well, She won the race.
I rush through transitions and worry about wasted time, but try to think of any extra time as "rest" time and not "wasted" time. Unless it is excessive, you will probably get it back later in the course. By excessive, I mean you don't want to lollygag in T1 and T2 for 15 - 20 minutes. That's too much time to get back. But it's better to take an extra 15 seconds to make sure you have your socks on right, instead of having a wrinkle under your foot that causes a blister 5 miles into the marathon. You're getting a 15 second rest that will let your heart rate drop a little and help your pace be faster at the end of the run and you won't have to stop at every first-aid station to put vaseline on your foot. It's better to take an extra 20 seconds to put on arm warmers if it's cold, than to be freezing for 112 miles and not be able to focus on your race. Of course if it is not cold, then don't put them on. If you have to slow down on the bike for a mile or two too stretch out your back and eat a bar, the minute you think you are "losing" will come back to you when you don't get back spasms later or bonk from a lack of calories. So although it is hard not to do, try not too think you are ever wasting time. This is part of the race. My most recent problem with this was at Augusta 70.3. My quads/calves were cramping mildly as I left T2. I should have taken 2 minutes to stretch them really good right then, but didn't want to "waste" the time. By the end of the first mile, they were cramping so bad that my run was ruined for the next 12.1 miles. I stopped to stretch at the first water stop, but by then it was too late. If I had taken the time to stretch my legs earlier, I would have been at least 5 minutes or more faster on the run. Instead I suffered badly and had to walk a lot. If you start to feel bad on the bike or run, take some time, slow down, get to where you're feeling good again, and then get going. This is much better than trying to fight through the tough spots and end up bonking (or slowing down a lot more for a lot longer) later.!
  • All done with that, I ran to my bike, my on my socks and shoes, then my helmet. As I was putting on my helmet I was saying to myself “please don’t let this be a mistake. Keep your head up and stay aero”
  • Final time – 5:27, 14th overall female
Rocker woman!
  • About the bike course:
    • Weather - the temp was around 65 to start and ended around low 70s. Sunny the whole way. Some wind but manageable.
    • This is a one loop bike course that is very flat but with a few false flats. The main thing to worry about on this course is wind. Because I knew there was a good chance that there was going to be wind was one of the main reasons I decided to wear my aero helmet.
  • What I was wearing:
    • In addition to my main outfit, I was using my LG tri-lite bike shoes, Lazer Tardiz aero helmet, Boston Bill sunglasses, Road Runner Sports dri-fit socks, and arm-warmers.
  • My experience on the bike:
    • I took it easy for the first couple of miles to try and get out of the immediate area. Plus, there were a lot of turns trying to get out on the main road. I tried to keep a steady pace and kept telling myself to use the first 30 miles as a warm up and not to worry too much about speed. Also, every few miles I had Aaron’s words of wisdom running through my head “stay within your box”. At mile 20 there a girl was standing next to her bike and it looked like she had just fallen or had a flat. I later saw road rash on her should so I’m assuming she fell. I passed her but she quickly got back on her bike and caught up to me. We played cat and mouse for about a mile and then I told myself that it was too early for trying to push it. So, I let her go and eased back in a steady pace.
Aaron: Nice shout out, but very smart. Tamara…take the first 20 to 30 miles to find your rhythm. Do not feel the need to pick off all the people in front of you. Push your pace and you will pass a ton of people, but it will be at YOUR pace and not a “I have to pass this person pace” which will cook you way too early. I too have gotten caught up in the cat and mouse and it is a total waste of energy. Just keep pace, push when feeling strong and pull back when feeling the fatigue.
Dave: RACE YOUR RACE - - NOT SOMEBODY ELSE'S. If you try to keep up with somebody who is stronger than you, then instead of getting second place behind them, you will bonk, and then get passed by 15 or 20 other people on the run and finish with a slower time than you should have had and realize you got played. Although in your case, you will probably be the one every other woman is chasing down. I'm not so fast in my group. Just follow your plan and you will finish with your best possible time. If someone happens to be faster that day, at least you will know you raced your best race.
    • Miles 51 to 62 were not very pleasant. The road was very bumpy and it was so hard to stay in a groove.
Aaron: Way to keep your head. The bike is a long long event and it is much of a head game as it is a physical game. When your body gets fatigued your mind starts to get pissy with stuff like the road or wind or other things. Tamara…remember that mentally there will be a few ups and downs and the good thing is that the downs never last long.
    • Around mile 60, I took a moment every 15 to 20 miles to sit up and stretch out my bike. I as doing a good job staying aero the whole time except for when I needed to reach back to grab my bottle. Again, I remembered Aaron's words of advise to remember to stretch out my back every so often.
Aaron: Good Job. Stand up for a few pedal strokes. Stretch our back out. Swing your head side to side. Do whatever it takes to move your body around on the ride to try to stay loose.
    • Special needs bag was at mile 56 but I didn’t need my extra bottle.
Aaron: I’ve never needed mine and didn’t stop either.

Dave: I don't think I've ever used my bike special needs bag either. But if you only carry one spare tube on your bike, it might be a good place to put a second tube and CO2 in case you flat and use the first one in the first 56 miles.
    • The wind wasn’t bad. It felt like a light cross-wind pretty much the whole time. There was a short period between miles 60 and 65 that it felt like the wind was dead on head wind. I just reminded myself to keep my head up and stay aero.
    • At mile 70 I passed a girl who turned and sounded caught off guard that I was next to her. This is the conversation:
      • Girl: “Oh, hey!”.
      • Me: “hi”
      • Girl: “They are handing out a lot of penalties today”.
      • Me: “ok. Am I doing something wrong now?”
      • Girl: ‘no’.
WTF? Was she hot? Maybe just making small talk. Again, it is a long day on the bike.
    • I was so confused by why she would say that. I just kept on pedaling. As I looked up, I saw a bright pink aero helmet. This is the same aero helmet of the girl that fell at mile 20 that I let go after a couple of back and forth trading of lead. A small smile crept across my face. I didn’t rush to pass her, though. I just stayed at my steady speed and figured if I was going to pass her, I would do it eventually. I didn’t need to waste energy to make it happen 30 seconds faster. I did eventually pass her and I stayed ahead of her all the way through T2.
Aaron: Exactly. Perfectly played. Revenge. You stayed true to your plan, didn’t waste your energy and took her over. Tamara…you race others very hard and agreesively and it shows in your results. Try to remember that in FL you are just racing yourself, the clock and your fatigue. Don’t race others…race yourself all the way to the end. The time will be the time. There will be nothing worse than pushing too hard on the bike or early in the run to pass some girls to find yourself bonking and getting passed at the end.
    • As for the decision on going with the aero helmet. It was a good one. I only noticed my neck was stiff when I rolled my head around to stretch my neck around my 85. I think it was more from overall fatigue and would have happened with the vented helmet too. So, thanks to everyone for the peer pressue in wearing the aero helmet. It worked out.
Aaron: I think you got lucky on this as you didn’t train with it...
Dave: AGREED - - this could have been a disaster. You should have tried a 60-80 mile ride with the helmet before the race.... but now you know for next time that you can wear it.
Me: I also agree that I got lucky on this
    • I kept all of my nutrition in my bento box on my bike. I made sure to open all the packages and break everything in half that morning. I ate a half of a Strawberry Honey Stinger almost immediately when I got on the bike, which was almost exactly 1 hour from the swim start time. I had planned out to eat a half of a Clif Bar every 50 minutes and take a sip of the Infinit and MiO Energy mix every 10 minutes, but waiting 20 minutes after I ate the Clif bar. This is the same strategy that I used for Augusta and it worked out perfectly. I took a water bottle at every aid station, about every 15 – 20 miles, and filled up my front bottle. I ended up eating 3 full Clif bars and the half of the Strawberry Honey Stinger. Total calories including the drink mix was 1230 calories.
Aaron: Very well played and very smart. You had a nutrition plan and stuck with it. I am never hungry on the bike, but know that is where you have to get ALL your nutrition for the run. attention. I am a little concerned that you are not drinking a high calorie drink on the bike. I also don’t like that you are only eating gels on the bike. Eat, eat, eat…if you get a little upset stomach, you can always dial it back on the bike. What you can’t do is make up for not eating later. Once you are burned it is hard to get back into the calorie game. I promise Eric will still think you look great in your tri suit if you eat the whole ride.
  • Final time – 5:25:58, 2nd overall female
  • I undid the velcro on my shoes and were ready to pull my feet out when I got to the dismount line. I ran to the entrance of the convention center, handed my bike to a volunteer, and continued running along the wall to where I put my T2 bag. I dumped everything out and put my helmet, sunglasses and head band in the bag. I put my shoes and visor on with no problems. I picked up my belt and was kind of regretting putting all the gels in the pack. I tried to grab all the loose gels to put them in my jersey but my fingers were shaking from all the adrenaline. I finally got the gels and the belt in place and put my bag back on the rack and started running to the Run Start. One of the volunteers by the changing tent was trying to direct me into the changing tent, but then she realized I didn’t have my bag. So, she asked me if I was part of a relay which confused me and I said no. Then she asked where my bag was and I said it was still on the rack. I guess I was supposed to bring it up to them. I’m still not sure about that. She asked me my number and then sent me on my way.
Aaron: Great lesson here! You didn’t get razzled, you did not freak out, you just went with it. Tamara…there will be flat tires, missed water stops, kicks in the face on the swim…keep your cool. It is a long day and it can all be overcame with calm and cool.
  • Final time – 2:44, 2nd overall female
  • About the run course:
    • Weather - In the sun it felt around 75 degrees. In the shade it felt just a few degrees cooler. I didn't feel much wind. It was sunny the entire time.
      • It did get cold as the sun was going down and really cold after it went down. So, if you decide to do this race and you know you'll be out on the course for a while, pack extra clothes in your run bag to stay warm.
    • The run is 2 loops and mostly flat. There is one steep incline that had to be climbed twice for the full, once at mile 4 and again at mile 13.5. There was a small incline that had to be tackled 4 times, once at mile 8, 11, 18, and 22.
  • What I was wearing:
    • In addition to my main tri outfit, I was using my Nike lite visor, Fitness fuel belt, and yellow K-Swiss Kwicky Blade Lights
  • My experience on the run:
    • I felt good coming off of the bike and had to remind myself to scale it back and take it easy. The sun was out so it was a little warm. Not as warm as in Florida. I was about .25 miles into the run when I realized I still had my arm warmers on. I was frustrated by that because I didn’t feel like fidgeting with them to get them off and then trying them in a knot and finding somewhere on me to hold them. I could have just thrown them away, but I had throwing good clothes away on a course. I just pulled them down to my forearms and tried to roll them up a bit off my wrists. My main goal was to not walk if at all possible.
That is a little funny. I stripped off my arm warmers in T2 because I heard there were some college girls watching on State Street.

Dave: In a marathon or an IM marathon, make your goal to get your best time - - versus having a goal that is "to not walk" - - this used to be my goal too. You will be faster if you plan to walk. If the girl in front of you takes 25 short walk breaks and finishes in 3:30 and you don't take any and run a 3:31, the other girl wins. You don't get any time bonuses for not walking. Whoever crosses the line first "ran" the faster time.... even if they walked some. See my comments below.
    • I didn’t have any issues until after climbing that first big hill right around mile 3. After climbing the hill, my calves tightened up and were screaming at me, threatening to cramp up at any second. I was pleading with them the rest of the run to please, not cramp up. I’ve never had anything cramp up during a race. I’ve had a side stitch a couple of times, but that’s it. I slowed my pace down and just tried to stay around 9 min/mi. I was able to do stick with this almost the whole run. After each gu, which I took about every 3 miles, I sped up for a little bit but that would only last about a mile.
Aaron: Same thing happened with me in IM FL but it started in the swim and on the bike. Worked itself out on the run. Up until that point, I have never had a cramp anywhere. Great job on dialing it back a little and letting it work out. Again, you didn’t waste hardly any time, but you diverted a possible disaster. Great work on eating a Gu every 3 miles. Tamara…did you read this?
    • Unfortunately, around mile 5 or 6 the girl I passed on the bike passed me on the run and I was not even attempting to stay with her. Kudos to her though. So, I just tried to stay positive and kept running. There was an aid station about every mile and for the first half of the race I was able to lightly jog through the aid stations. On the second loop I walked through all the aid stations.
Aaron: That is about what I did. Able to run through the first few and then LOVED rewarding myself with a little walk through the later ones.
Dave: I rewarded myself early and started my walk breaks at mile 1. (see my race report) Only 15 seconds long, which adds 7-8 seconds to your pace. However, in doing my breaks early, I did not take any walk breaks during the last 6.2 miles. My pace averaged about 8 min mile for the first 13.1 and about 8:30 for the last half of the run. Had I not started my walk breaks from the start, I am pretty sure my run would have been 10-15 minutes slower and instead of taking 10 or 12 walk breaks of 15 seconds earlier in the run, I would have been taking a 30-60 second walk break every 4 or five minutes in the last 10 miles. When you get off the bike, you're fired up to run and don't want to stop, but consider walking through the water stops from the start. You will save your legs for miles 16-26. You will catch everyone that runs past you while you are walking and they won't catch you back when they fizzle in the last 10 miles.
At IMFLA in 2002, there were people who passed me by running through the first water stop while I walked. I caught them before the next one. They passed me again. I caught them again. Back and forth like this for the whole first loop. But on the second loop, they started running slower. I would catch them sooner and sooner after my walk break. then they started walking through the water stops. And they continued to run slowere and slower and walking longer and longer. By now I was still walking through the water stops, but they were 200 yards behind me and did not pass before I started running again. At the next stop they would be 400 yards back. I never saw them again.
AARON - try walking earlier on your next IM and I'll bet you have a faster run split. Reward yourself early.
I have finished a few marathons. Six times I have finished between 3:00 and 3:10. In these races I did not walk at all unless I got really tires in the last 5-10 miles and needed some walk breaks. But my PR is a 2:54 and when I did my PR, I did a 10 second walk break every mile for the first ten miles and then a 10 second walk every other mile for the next ten. I didn't walk during the last 6.2. If you haven't tried the run/walk program, consider it. Check Jeff Galloway's web site for more info. www.
You could say that by mile 20, I had "wasted" 150 seconds, which is 2.5 minutes. However, when you're walking, you only lose about half of the time, meaning a 10 second walk break added about 5 seconds to my split for the mile. So I really only "wasted" 75 seconds. But I am very confident that if I had not done this, my splits for the last 5 or ten miles all would have been slower but 15-30-60 seconds and my final time would have been 3 or 4 minutes slower or more.
    • Every mile I was just thinking about getting to the next mile and trying not to think about how many miles I had left. Until I reached mile 17. After Sarah's first marathon, she said she was so happy when she finally within single digit miles to the finish. That's what I was thinking at this point and started counting the miles down.
Aaron: I did the exact same thing. I had a huge sense of relief knowing I was in single digits.
    • I became best friends with mile 18 and 19. Mile 18 is where I had to hit the port-o-let FAST! I was thinking to myself “Mile 18, where are you? I need to use the bathroom! You’ll be my best friend”. I made it and felt sooo much better. Even my legs felt better for a short period of time. Yes, this was my first bathroom break the entire race. I was just ready to get the rest of the run over with at this point and that’s when I started begging mile 19 to hurry up.
Aaron: Not sure if that is good or not. But your time rocked. I would expect that you should drink enough water/infinit that you would and should have to go on the bike. But in FL I didn’t go until the very start of the marathon. I think this shows that you got dehydrated on the bike and swim and thus the start of your cramping. No matter how hot or cool the weather, over 10+ hours I think it is a good idea to drink so much you have to stop one or two times. The bathroom breaks will add less time than walking, cramping, stopping or slowing due to dehydration. Tamara…definitely drink as much as you can and don’t worry if/when have to stop..

Dave: I think in a longer race like a half IM or a full (or a marathon), if you feel like you need to go Pee or Poo, then you should just go ahead and go as soon as you can..... because you are going to have to go before you get to the finish so you might as well drop the extra weight sooner rather than later. Plus, you will be faster b/c you will feel better. It wastes a lot of energy holding your bladder or clinching your sphincter. If you don't go pee, and your bladder is full, you tend to stop drinking and hydrating like you should - - - then you cramp up. Instead of taking a 60 second bathroom break, you end up walking the last three miles of the run. Just go to the bathroom and consider it a short recovery rest that will help you be faster. and will save you time in the long run. Then get moving again.
    • I made it to mile 22 and had to stop at the bathroom again. At mile 24.5 my calves had finally had enough and my right calf went into full cramp mode. I stopped, bent over, cursed “F*&^!”, stood back up and walked a minute until the cramp subsided enough to start running again. With a little over a mile left, 2 girls with grey wristbands (signaling they were doing the full) passed me. My heart sank just a little. Really? With less than a mile left I’m getting dropped two places? Sad smile. I picked my head back up and told myself “you’ll still get 5th overall. That’s pretty darn good and you’re going to beat your ‘I can only do this time with perfect conditions’ time even if you walk the last mile”. I just kept running and prayed that no one else passed me. I made it down the steep hill and rounded the corner and headed down the chute. I made it! I was done! And, surprisingly, my marathon time for this race is not my worst marathon time, which currently stands at 4:06.
Aaron: There is no better feeling in the world than seeing that finisher shoot and still smiling!
    • Waiting for me at the finish line was Pete, Daniel, Tiffany, and Adam. They were all standing there with huge