Tag Archives: swimming

Race Report: Ironman Florida 70.3, Haines City, May 19th, 2013

20 May

It is the morning after. I am race drunk so forgive me if this post doesn’t quite scan.

I got up to Haines City on Friday evening with I Am a Triathlete and her BF, El Dude, who had been charged with the duty of shuttling us around all weekend because he wasn’t racing. We ate muffins on the ride up. I made them. They were vegan. A Morning Glory muffin and a coffee cake muffin. They were both delish. We also stopped at a Panera Bread for lunch. I was not impressed. At any rate….

We went to athlete check-in after dropping our crap at the Days Inn Davenport which was a step above “Flea Bag” and a step below “Comfortable.” Check-in was a breeze so I won’t say too much about it. Finding dinner was a nightmare. But I won’t say much about that either. Ultimately, we ended up at a pizza place owned and operated by a French family from Marseille. How they ended up in central Florida I have no idea but the pizza and the service were both lovely so it was a win.

We took it easy Friday night and then on Saturday, IAAT and I went out for a pre-race bike/run brick out behind the hotel where there was a quarter-mile stretch of frontage road, along with an RV park and a KOA, both of which had awesome paved paths and some rolling terrain that gave us a little bit of a preview of what the race course was going to be like.

After that, we went and toured the race course. But not before we ran out of gas on the way there and had to coast into a parking lot, send the Dude to get gas from a station half a mile away, and kill half an hour in a Beall’s. I bought two ridiculous t-shirts for the Chef and used a bathroom that I wish I could erase from my memory.

We drove the bike course and then we found a place for lunch: Luigi’s in nearby Lake Alfred. I never, NEVER have pasta the day before a race but IAAT always has it for lunch the day before and we were sorta straddling lunch and dinner so I figured it’d be OK if I kept it plain. Luigi was actually in the kitchen and Luigi can actually churn out pretty solid Italian dishes. But someone needs to proof read his menu because in addition to overflowing with spelling errors and typos, it also says nothing about pancetta in the pasta that I ordered. So I actually had to send it back to the kitchen–I never do this. Unfortunately, it was too delicious for a pre-race meal. They were totally cool about it though and even let me keep the first pasta. I gave it to Frank DiPadova who was back at the hotel.

This is getting long.

OK. Pasta dinner, hung with teammates back at the hotel, in bed by 8PM, asleep around 10, UP AT 3:30AM! Time to race!

I want to say something though, before leaping into the actual report, because I think it’s important to be totally honest in detailing my experiences. It’s not always going to be PRs and podiums and positive thoughts. Sometimes your mind rebells but your body comes through or your body falls short but your mind saves the day. And sometimes, both your body and your mind decide they’ve had enough and you’re left with the check.

I’d been having a hard time gearing up for this race mentally. I thought it was just me so I was really happy when IAAT said she’d been having similar issues. We’d both been SO excited for Augusta (our first 70.3) and so committed to the experience that the build-up to Haines City was starting to feel like a real let-down. I guess that makes sense because the first time is always something special but for me, there were multiple factors contributing to my mixed emotions.

  1. My life has filled up with other priorities over the last few months–during the highest volume phases of our training for this race. That is not to say that I didn’t train– I TOTALLY TRAINED–but rather that while my body was engaged, my mind was often elsewhere.
  2. Nautica was my spring A-race. I wanted to kill Nautica so I tried to kill it and I killed it. I knew I wasn’t going to place at a 70.3. So HC became about finishing strong as opposed to really racing. Since I’d already done one 70.3, and I thought I knew what to expect, I coasted a bit. Dumb.
  3. Because I coasted, I got lazy with my diet. When I get lazy with my diet, I stop feeling like an athlete and start feeling like a fat-ass.
  4. During a training swim on Thursday, I felt overwhelmingly fatigued and like I couldn’t catch my breath. That messed with my brain.
  5. On Saturday morning, I read an article in the free newspaper at the hotel about triathlon swimming deaths. I kid you not. It was right fucking there. And the main idea of the article was that when people die in triathlons, it’s almost always during the swim and the people who die are almost always seasoned vets with no signs of existing health issues. I should not have read that article. But I did. Twice. IDIOT.
  6. On Saturday afternoon, the temperature was hovering in the low 90s and the humidity was intense. We were anticipating a real scorcher on Sunday and that freaked me out. Even though I’d put a lot of work into my hydration plan, I was still freaked out about the possibility of the heat being too much.

So IAAT and I were working overtime trying to psych ourselves up for this race and nothing was really helping. And it’s one thing to be sorta not looking forward to a sprint or even an olympic because you’re talking about a three-hour commitment, max and if you’ve done your training, making it through isn’t that hard.  But not looking forward to a 70.3 is a different story because even if your body is game, it’s your mind that’s gonna get you. You have got to be mentally committed to 5-7 hours on the course and if you’re not, fuggedaboutit. You’re toast.

So on Sunday morning, I woke up and was like, “OK fuck it, ya’ll! It’s race day. Let’s do this.” In a way, being less than excited was kind of a good thing because I was really relaxed. I had goals but they were manageable goals. After crunching the numbers, I figured I could probably make 5:49 happen, which was aggressive enough to mean a 70.3 PR but totally realistic based on my recent training times. Honestly, I really just wanted to do a sub-6. I’d have been happy with that. So the pressure was kind of off and the stakes were low.

I set up in transition quickly, hit the potty and was in good spirits. I was psyched about an early wave time (6:50AM), which meant that, if all went well, I’d be done with this thing before the heat got too intense. Luckily, the weather broke a little and temps were expected to hover in the high 70s until around 10AM and then it was only going to top out in the mid 80s so my run might not be horrendous.

We walked down to the lake shore and chatted with some friends and I really was feeling great. Then something terrible happened: I got into the water. This is a picture of the lake from afar:

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This is a picture of Lake Eva taken underwater:

death by water Toni Frissell

OK, not really. But that’s certainly what it felt like. First off, when we stepped into the lake, our legs sunk into about two feet of soft sludge. Secondly, when I put my face underwater for the first time, I was dismayed to discover what I’m pretty sure death looks like. I MEAN IT WAS PITCH FRIGGIN’ BLACK. The Ironman website boasts that the water in Lake Eva is “clear.” This is a lie. Thirdly, the water tasted HORRIBLE. No, I wasn’t drinking it on purpose but during my warmup, I got a little of it in my mouth and it was bad, people. Like, “I need to call my doctor for a preemptive Z-Pack” bad.

And then of course there’s the fact about ALL fresh water that you’re significantly less buoyant in it. I knew that was coming but I don’t think I quite understood how major a difference it was going to make for me after doing all my OWSs in the ocean.

So I’m standing waist deep in this disgusting, stinking muck, I have that article about swim deaths rolling around in my brain, I  have Thursday’s crappy training session at the forefront of my memory and the notion of this being just the beginning of a six-hour epic; and then I finally take a real good hard look at how long the course is–I take in all the turns (6 of them) and all the buoys (I don’t even remember how many) and the reality of it all sinks in. Then the gun goes off and chaos ensues.

HC was my 13th triathlon so at this point I know what the swim start is all about. This one was something special. Bitches were out of their minds! And I was totally mid-pack, probably closer to back of the pack. Yet, I was still getting elbowed, slapped, swum over, etc… Basically, as soon as I started to swim, I panicked. I don’t even think I panicked during my very first tri swim and back then I COUDLN’T SWIM. Plus, I’ve been having such a GREAT time during swim starts recently and have been having such great swims. I was totally not prepared to freak out but I did. Complete melt down.

So I start to breast stroke because at least I’ll be moving forward and I get like 200 meters in and my mind starts to rebell. It says: “We can’t do this, Edith. The task ahead of us is just too fucking enormous.” And my mind is only referencing the swim. Not the bike and run that were to follow. I tried to swim a little freestyle but I couldn’t catch my breath. So again my mind starts in with the nonsense: “Shit, are we having a heart attack? A pulmonary embolism? Is there an alligator down there about to throw us into a death roll? What the fuck is happening?”

Finally I  have a chat with my mind. I say, “Mind, quit it. You know our body has the endurance for this. Just let our body start swimming.”

So I start swimming. I made it to the first turnaround but I was still couldn’t get my breathing in order. I was only able to swim a couple hundred meters before I had to stop and collect myself. And then I started to cramp up. First in the right side, then in the left. I knew that in order to make it through this one, I was going to have to give myself a break. I literally went buoy to buoy for 1200 meters. Did whatever I needed to do to keep moving forward and stay calm and not make the cramps any worse. Dudes from the next few swim waves started passing me and that’s when shit got even more frantic. This was a crazy, CRAZY swim, people. The way the course is organized makes for massive traffic jams at several points and it just seemed like people were trying to get out of that water as quickly as possible with no regard for anyone else in the mix.

In the final straight away, with the exit chute still far off but in sight, I got into some kind of zone and was able to swim despite the cramping. I knew my time was gonna be bunk but I just didn’t care. Oddly enough, I came in at 49 minutes and change and I’d allowed myself 50 minutes after looking at last year’s times so I was on track. But it was still a piss poor showing and I know I could have done better. At least I wasn’t sucked down into the muck.

I feel like there’s not much else to say about this race. The bike was pretty enjoyable and the temperature was perfect. Little headwind in a few spots but I felt good throughout. I took only Perform on the bike. Oh and salt tabs. Those set me up nicely for the run. But it was starting to heat up right at the end and the last six miles were by far the hardest. Despite taking in ample calories and plenty of fluids, I could feel a bonk coming on and I really wanted to be on my feet. So I cranked it out and finished the bike in under 3 hours, which had been my goal.

The run course is three loops around the lake. A little over 4 miles per loop. There is a gigantor hill in the first mile of the run. Oh and of course in the 5th and 9th miles as well. My legs felt good getting off the bike but I definitely went out a little fast. The hill was actually helpful in getting me to back off a bit. There were aid stations about every mile and I stopped at almost every single one. Filled my hat with ice, poured water all over myself, took Gatorade, water, some flat Coke, you name it, if it was a fluid, it went in me or on me. Some lovely people were out on their lawns with sprinklers and hoses going. That was nice.

The first loop was definitely the most challenging. By the midpoint of loop 2, I’d gotten into a groove and was holding my pace between 8:20 and 9ish depending on the terrain. I am proud to say that hill never broke me. I ran up all three times. But the heat was not fun. People were definitely suffering and it was not getting any cooler the longer I was out there. I did my best to pick up the pace on the descents and try to make as much use of the flats as possible but all that thick air made had my HR way high. I knew if I held where I was, I’d run a sub-2 and not finish in a faint.

So I played it safe and kicked it into gear at the finish. I got through the finish line feeling pretty good all things considered. But here’s the kicker, according to my Garmin and the race clock, I finished in 5:47 and some change. However, my fucking timing chip was busted. Or so they told me after the race when I realized I had no splits and no cumulative time. Those of you who know me know me as someone to whom times are important so this is a huge bummer. Mainly because this was a PR on a challenging course under some harsh conditions and I want it on record that I raced and finished sub-6.

I mean, look, at the end of the day, I did what I showed up to do. I actually finished 2 minutes faster than anticipated (I think). And I guess it only matters that I know that and I feel good about my performance.

Oh bullshit. I want my damned finishing time. I have an email out to the race director. I’ll let you know what happens.

It was a good experience regardless of the mental drama. IAAT finished with a smile on her face, feeling victorious. We managed to get a shower in back at the hotel before hitting the road. Overall, I feel OK today. I’m definitely sore but not unbearably so. I’m considering doing a sprint next Sunday, just so I can get one last race in before leaving for the summer. It’s a lake swim and even though it’s just 400 meters, I kinda feel like I need to redeem myself.

Addendum: 6:52PM–Just got word that they found my official finish time and luckily, it jives with what my Garmin said. 5:47:13. That’s 00:05:53 faster than my Augusta time and almost two minutes faster than my goal so I’m pretty happy. Of course, knowing that it could have easily been 8 minutes better had I not wigged on the swim makes me pretty annoyed but that’s my damage. I ended up 17/62 in my AG.

Race Report: 2575 Triathlon, Fort Lauderdale, March 17th, 2013

18 Mar

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As the above picture illustrates beautifully, the race yesterday was an awesome way to open the season. This is my third 2575 event and my third time on the podium. What made yesterday even sweeter, however, was the move from 3rd place to second and the fact that I finished 14 minutes ahead of last year. Fourteen minutes??!? Granted, the course was different: the first two 2575 races were held in my backyard on Key Biscayne. This year, because of the construction mess on the causeway, all of our KB races have had to change venue to one degree or another. So 2575 moved north to Fort Lauderdale to a very flat, very fast and relatively scenic course right along the beach.

The race was also bigger this year. The last two times, I don’t think there were any more than a few hundred athletes but this year the race sold out it’s max capacity of 500. I don’t actually think there were 500 people on the course. Looking through the results (which is what I’ve been doing for the last two hours) it seems like the field was closer to 350-400 people. But I can’t tell exactly.

In terms of conditions, it was a pretty perfect day. Cool in the morning, a little bit overcast with wind out of the Northwest. The swim was northbound with the current and it was wet suit legal so it was bound to be fast. But historically speaking, none of those bonus conditions that tend to make everybody else super happy have ever had any effect on me (with the exception of Augusta) during the swim. I’ve always just sorta suffered no matter what. Yesterday things changed.

I had the race swim I’ve been waiting to have for the last year and a half. I came in 2+ minutes under my estimate, which one could attribute to the current. But the good thing about race conditions is that they’re the same for everyone on the course. So if the swim is fast, it’s fast for the fastest swimmers and the slowest. If the current is against you, it’s also against the former all-state freestyle champ swimming 2 minutes ahead of you. Yesterday, I was less than a minute behind one of the strongest swimmers on my team and neck-and-neck with another teammate who is male and 22 years old and absurdly fit. So good conditions, bad conditions, my swimming has improved.

Our wave was the largest. They put all age group women in with all the men 25 and under and all the men 50 and over. So it was a friggin’ washing machine in there. And not just at the start. It was legs and arms and elbows and people gasping for breath and frog kicking and backstroking into you for the whole swim. And yet somehow, I was able to come out of the water  in the top 3rd of my AG as opposed to the bottom third like normal. When I came into transition, my bike wasn’t the only one left. Regardless of the way the waves are staggered, that is still a huge psychological bonus.

For the first time ever, I swam the whole distance freestyle without having to breast stroke or roll over on my back for recovery. I was able to swim through the fatigue in my shoulders and I had complete control over my breathing. The hardest part was heading back to shore after the last buoy because at that point the current was working against me as I tried to aim straight for the swim-out chute. I made it though and was psyched when I looked at my watch. Not only psyched, actually, a little shocked.

Of course, I got out of the water and immediately had to run across 100 meters of loose beach sand while trying to strip out of my soggy wetsuit and catch my breath. Fun fun fun. But I felt pretty fantastic all things considered and ready to see what I could do on the bike. This was my first race on Starbuck and my first race since I started doing the high intensity training.

I’m not going to go into great detail about the bike mostly because I was disappointed with my performance. But only after the fact. Because that’s my MO. I’d been aggressive with my estimate the night before because, well, because I feel like it’s time to start setting more challenging goals for myself. Goals that are not totally delusional but also not totally wimpy. I figured the course was so flat, I could probably get a 20mph avg. I didn’t really account for the twisty-ness of the course. It was two loops, so already we’re dealing with multiple u-turns and then a couple of right and left turns that slowed things down considerably and then there was the headwind on the way back. So I don’t think I pushed enough in the first three miles, although I was going 23-24mph with the wind. Even that didn’t cover  the inevitable slow-down during miles 5-6 and 11-12.

I was gauging my energy output based on how my legs felt (HR monitor on the fritz) so when they started to burn, I pulled back, especially going into the wind, for fear of blowing my load before the run. In the last mile, I did something that was maybe stupid and I decided to spin into a lower gear to move some lactic acid and get my legs going faster in prep for the run. I say it was dumb because I don’t think it made a lick of difference on the run and it cost me time on the bike. Maybe not much time but time is time. Ultimately, my bike was 4 minutes off what I’d been hoping to do and not that much better than my sprints from last year.

Remember when I said I wasn’t going to go into this in great detail? Well, because I’m crazy and have too much time on my hands, I averaged out the top bike times from each female category. The first place female elite amateur had the best bike split at 34:35; the first place female 18-24 age grouper had the slowest with 49:32. So what did this obsessive number crunching get me? The realization that I am the average. But at least, I’m the average of the best. Enough.

The run. The run felt hard. I went aggressive with my run estimate as well and was hoping to actually beat my most recent 5K road race time. I don’t know why I thought that was going to be possible but it wasn’t. At least not yesterday. I was off by a minute from my PR and 1:43 off my estimate. But whatever, I finished first in my AG on the run so that’s cool. Still, it was a LONG mile and a half to the turnaround. I’d gone through about 20 oz of Perform on the bike so I felt adequately hydrated but I ended up taking half a caffeinated chocolate Power Gel around mile 1 and the other half around mile 2 to avoid any potential bonk.

We had the same headwind on the run that we’d had on the bike so the way home was rough. But my legs felt good and my breathing was fine despite the fact that I was way high in the zones at this point. I really, really, really wanted to win my age group. I went into this race wanting to win my age group and at mile 2 of the run, that desire to win had not faded. Of course, as an age grouper, it’s not like you really know who your competition is. Maybe you know a name or you’ve seen someone at a race before but it’s not like you’re prepping with a specific competitor in mind. But in this sport, the person you really have to be ready to tackle is you. You have to be willing to destroy your own mind. That’s one of the things I love about triathlon because as any of my closest friends will tell you, I absolutely love to beat myself up.

That said, right before mile 2 on the run, this chick sidled up alongside of me and said, “You’re doing really great, great run, I’ve been following you for a while.” I thanked her as she passed me and she said, “Don’t worry, I’m not in your age group.” And I said, “Then go get it!” I was running around 7:20 pace at that point so she must have been hovering right around 7:00. I kept her in my sights until the very end. With a mile left to go, I saw her sidle up alongside another chick and then pass her. I quickened my pace at that point and starting closing in on the other chick. I checked out her leg, saw that she was in my age group and was like, “Fuck that noise.” Until that moment, I had no idea what other women were in front of me. All I thought was, if she’s the only one up there and I have the chance to take her, I’m taking her immediately. Especially, with less than a mile to go.

I didn’t really have to pick up the pace that much. Just a touch so get beyond her. Then there was the realization that she’d probably see the number on my leg and, if she was any kind of competitor, that might be the boost she’d need to kick into gear. So with that thought rolling around in my head, I knew there was no slowing down. In fact, I absolutely had to speed up enough to keep the gap wide or force her into a home stretch burn out. I took it down under 7:00 for the last several hundred meters. It hurt. It hurt a lot but the thought that this woman might catch up to me was enough to keep me going.

I got through the finish like 14 seconds ahead of her and then discovered that there was indeed one woman who had beaten me through the shoot by about 50 seconds. But because of that extra push at the end, I moved up in the rank from last year. Hard work and performance addiction pays off.

It was a really big day for the whole team. Six of us placed and got to take home fancy hardware.

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Below is a pic of me with my teammates JD (who took first in his notoriously tough AG and 27th overall) and Mike (third in HIS notoriously tough AG). I train and race with these guys all the time so it was nice to be on the podium with them, even if it was only for the photo op. If the day comes when I’m actually able to beat Mike in any of the three events, I’ll have to turn pro.

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Somehow I got camera shy during the awards ceremony:

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And then got my mojo back:

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The rest of the day looked a little like this:

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Not a bad way to spend a Sunday in March.

Addendum:

I just realized that if you’re a tri person reading this blog, a lot of what I’ve written will mean nothing without my splits. If you’re a non-tri person reading this blog, you’re like, “what the F is a split?” And even if you know what a split is, then mine will mean nothing to you without some frame of reference. So I’m going to post my splits (the times for each event) along with the splits of the woman who got first in my age group and the top female elite amateur. So you know what’s what.

Top Female Elite:
Age 28, Finish time: 1:10:04
Swim time: 12:10,
Transition 1: 1:41
Bike time: 34:35
Run time: 21:41

1st Place Female 35-39:
Age: 36, Finish time: 1:20:17
Swim time: 15:31
T1: 1:51
Bike time: 38:49
Run time: 24:07

My Splits:
Age: 34*, Finish time: 1:21:07
Swim Time: 15:43
T1: 1:35
Bike time: 40:07
Run time: 23:43

* USAT decides age based on how old you’ll be on December 31st of the current year so even though I don’t turn 35 until September, I had to race in the next age group. But it actually worked out in my favor this time since the field was much more competitive this time around. Had I raced in my old category, I would have placed 6th.

Addendum to the Addendum:

I was looking at my Garmin time yesterday and I realized that there was a  big discrepancy between what the machine had calculated as my run time and what the race results folks had calculated. This happens sometimes. You’re racing, your head is spinning, you hit the lap button a few seconds too early or too late, and your time is a wee bit off. But the race results had me running about 45 seconds slower than my Garmin, which calculated distance at EXACTLY 3.1 miles. I was scratching my head trying to figure this one out and then one of my teammates solved the mystery for me: the race did not include T2 in their calculations, only T1. So they added the T2 time to the run total and that’s where my 42ish seconds went. So my run time was actually 23 minutes pretty much on the nose. So I was only a minute off my prediction as opposed to almost 2 minutes. Now I’ll be able to sleep.

Triple Training and Chocolate Redemption

13 Mar

As the title of this post implies, today turned into a triple training extravaganza and I’ve also found a way to redeem myself from the pudding debacle of last night. I got up at 5AM for strength training, did a little work before (and after) the sunrise, took a power nap and then headed out to the Key around noonish for a bike ride made up of race taper bursts (Race! Taper! Bursts!) meant to get my muscles firing a little without totally fatiguing them before the (first!) race (of the season!) on Sunday. I must be excited. Look at me throwing those exclamation points around like I’m getting paid to do it.

I knew we’d be hitting the water after our bike but I didn’t have any idea we’d be doing damned near a mile this afternoon. I was thinking more in the realm of 15 or twenty minutes but the instructions were to swim five buoys down and 5 buoys back and that all added up to around about 1300 meters. The water was blissful though–despite a pretty aggressive current running against us on the way out–so that made things a little nicer. Unlike last Wednesday, when it was completely black in there and I’m pretty sure I bumped up against a shark at one point (this is unlikely but what I touched was hard and round and while it was probably something man-made, I’m sticking to my story), today the water was crystal clear and sparkly. I kid you not. With my tinted goggles on and the sun hitting it, just so, it really looked like there was fairy dust on the water. Although maybe I was high coming off the bike ride.

I’m trying to get better about siting and doing it efficiently so that the action doesn’t bring my stroke to a dead halt. I did stop a couple of times but on the whole I’m feeling exponentially better in the water these days. I’m able to control myself and my movements and switch back and forth between strong kicking and strong pulling so when I start to fatigue in one area, I can deploy the muscles in another. Breathing is also getting better and I’m able to push through the burning in my shoulders now whereas at this time last year that feeling was enough to make me stop.

There were about five of us in the water and we managed to stay together in a relatively tight pack, which was nice. I think we ended up swimming the distance in just under 33 minutes. Not setting any records but it felt good. Well it felt mostly good. I felt pretty bad when one of my teammates (who also happens to be one of my students–don’t ask) decided to sneak up on me in the last fifty meters and grab my leg. Of course, I spazzed and yelped and jumped out of the water (the same way I did last week when ‘I touched the shark’) and then I turned around to discover the little rat bastard laughing his 22-year old head off at me. I don’t understand why people have to be lame like this when they know other people are iffy about sea creatures.

All in all a good day. I’ve been exceptionally hungry, of course, which is cool because I can tack on some extra calories over the next few days and, more importantly, a few extra carbs! Lord Jesus, it’s a fire! I have been seriously craving sweet things lately–most notably chocolate, which is odd for me as it’s never been my thing. Now, of course, I’m not planning to binge on chocolate and sugar in the days  leading up the race (it’s only a sprint, after all) but I figured it’d be cool if I snuck a little cacao into a snack or two between now and then, just to satisfy the craving. And besides, cacao is actually really good for endurance athletes. Especially if it’s mixed with maca, which mine is.

So this afternoon, I was looking for a fat to add to my afternoon snack and I realized I had a whole bag of sunflower seeds just taking up space in the fridge.

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I decided to make a chocolate sunflower butter since I really dig nut butters but can’t eat most of them due to my headache sitch. This butter is so easy to make if you have a food processor and it is SO MUCH CHEAPER to do it yourself than it is to buy a jar of sunflower seed butter at the store. I bought that 9 oz bag for $3.00 at the farmer’s market. It will easily yield 3 1/2 cups of butter.

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Here’s what to do–oh, and I made a small batch (about 3/4 cup yield) just to see how it would turn out but you can double or triple quantities if you want to make a whole pile of it: I tossed 1/2 cup (or about 2 oz of seeds) into the work bowl of my Mini-Prep and I let ‘er rip until the seeds were ground to the texture of coarse meal. The I added 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of cacao (you can use regular old cocoa powder too) and 1 tsp of agave (substitute whatever liquid sweetener you prefer–I know the jury’s still out on agave). Then I let the processor go until the seeds released their oils and the whole mess got to the consistency of slightly chunky peanut butter. This is a pretty dry butter but it should still be spreadable as long as you grind it long enough. About 3-5 minutes should do. When it’s done and packed in a jar, it looks like this:

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And on a spoon it looks like this:

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And on the same spoon from a slightly different angle, this:

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It is absolutely delicious and in small quantities (2 teaspoons is around 53 calories, 4g of fat, 3g carbs and 2g of protein), it’s not too horrible for you. I had it with pear slices but I’m sure it’d be great on toast or slathered on a banana or as the star of a SB&J or as the base of a bake-free cookie or faux truffle. I could also see this being a hit with little kids who suffer from nut allergies. Give it a try and let me know how you like it best.

 

On Time and Chocolate Pudding

12 Mar

It’s been a boring day so I don’t have much to report. Except I did go on a plant-buying spree and spend some time in the garden. Oh and I made a quick chocolate pudding (recipe below). Oh and I returned some library books and did a 400 meter swim test (14 seconds faster than last time!). I guess today was actually pretty full. Whatever. Instead of writing a whole big thing, I’m going to link to an article I just read on the USAT website entitled Fitness Isn’t Always a Linear Progression.

The article spoke to me because I was just bitching to the Commander about my last time trial test on the bike and how I was only .6 mph faster than the bike test we did when I was just back in January, weighted down by holiday fat and still riding my road bike. I was especially frustrated because I’ve been doing this whole High Intensity bike training program with him and I expected to be way faster than I was.

The article basically demystifies why we do what we do when we do it during an endurance training regimen. I read this and realized that I’d never really asked any questions about the logic of training phases. I mean I know the basics but in general, I pretty much just do what the Commander tells me to do. It’s what makes me eminently coachable: my willingness to just do what I’m told because I assume that the person telling me to do the thing knows more than I do. This is also one of the things that makes me eminently easy to walk all over in romantic relationships but that’s a whole separate post.

I’m lucky in that, over the many years I’ve been participating in amateur sport, I’ve had great coaches who know of what they speak. It’s been easy to give over to their authority. In athletics, proof is in the results and I’ve always been happy with my results and the results of my teammates. However, it’s always a good idea to be educated in regards to any endeavor so for that reason, I’m posting a link to the article. The big take-away from it is this, I think:

In our sport consistency is the key to growth. There is no one magic workout that is going to set you ahead of your competitors, but instead a steady diet of hard but manageable workload is what is going to keep you improving. In reality triathlon (or any endurance sport for that matter) is a very “blue collar” sport. There is no (legal) way to get around the fact that you need to put in the work to improve. So get out there and put the trust in your coach or your training program and let them carry you to a new season of personal bests!

And I mean, once again, I’m choosing to focus on what I have NOT accomplished as opposed to what I HAVE accomplished. My bike time was faster. It’s not like I got slower. And also, as stated above, my 400 time has been steadily decreasing between January (8:45) and today (8:17). Also, I’ve been getting way faster on my runs right off the bike. BECAUSE we’ve been focusing on cadence during the HI training sessions. So now, when I get out of the saddle, my legs just wanna go go go! So really, I’m living this article and need to cultivate patience and understand that the more time you put into training, the less time you put into the race.

Now to the pudding recipe. It isn’t great but if you’re craving chocolate and short on time, give it a whirl:

Quickie Chocolate Pudding

2 cups  unsweetened almond milk
3 tbsp sugar (I used coconut palm but you can use whatever you prefer)
2 tbsp corn starch
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp salt
1 pat of butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Directions

Whisk one cup of milk with corn starch to make a slurry. In a sauce pot, whisk together the remaining milk, sugar, cocoa, spices and salt. Bring to a simmer and then add the slurry. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture thickens, about 3-4 minutes. Run your finger across the back of the spoon. If the track stays clean, no drips, the pudding is done. Strain over a bowl to eliminate any lumps and then stir in the extracts and butter. Pour into 3 serving bowls. Cover exposed area with a small sheet of waxed paper or parchment or plastic wrap, then cool slightly and chill until cold. The pudding will continue to thicken as it cools.

About 150 calories per serving, 5.6g total fat, 1.5g sat fat, 21.2g total carbs, 10.2g sugar, 2.2g protein.

Crazy Begets Crazy

5 Mar

It’s been a wild few weeks of air, auto and rail travel, meetings, milestones, head colds, writing projects, performances, friends in town, friends out of town, and through it all, training, training and more training. After dropping my friend D off at the airport at 5:30AM; after a 6AM weight training session and an 8:45AM appointment with my foot and ankle orthopedist who told me that one of the joints in my feet is fused in a way that explains ALL the pain I’ve ever experienced from standing, walking and/or running; after paying some bills and taking care of some work-work, I had the day to myself.

I made a giant pot of veggie “baked” beans in my crock-pot and then finally got my gas sitch fixed so I have a working oven. Yes, I realize that’s a funny sentence. Beans, gas, ha ha. Whatever. I can eat hot food again, which is nice since it’s friggin frigid in Miami right now. Then I spent the rest of the day writing and fighting a migraine. I know I got this migraine because I fell off the wagon again and had coffee this weekend and then didn’t have coffee this morning. C’est la vie.

I was in front of the computer for about five hours working on this ongoing project that is kicking my ass but also making me very nostalgic. It was a busy day disguised as a relaxing day and at the end of it, I was feeling a little loopy and overheated from sitting under my heating pad on the couch. I debated whether or not to go out on my Monday recovery run but then realized that I absolutely had to do it because I needed some physical activity to counter the cerebral activity of the day. I had just been writing about this exact balance and so it only made sense to live the narrative.

The weather was perfect. The whole Grove smells like it’s on fire (in a good way) because everyone is using their fireplaces right now. The Commodore trail was empty but for a few runners out enjoying the night and I  just felt fantastic. So my 2o minute RR turned into a 40 minute RR and I wanted to keep running but knew to do so would be foolish. It would turn this workout into something different and I’m trying to stay on plan. Still, what a night. It all felt so good that I got home and did this:

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I’d been talking about it and talking about it and I finally decided to do it. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow morning and be all, “Never make an important decision if you’re in the midst of a runner’s high!” But I doubt it. I got twelve weeks to shed my wetsuit and get comfortable with the thought of a 1.2 mile lake swim in South Florida in May. Bring it.

Back to Business

9 Jan

Dooood! It’s been a while. I understand. I’m sorry. Let’s move on. Good? Good.

There’s so much to report on since my last post in mid-July that I almost feel like it isn’t even worth it. But here’s a quick recap:

  • I finished out my training for Augusta 70.3 in Colorado and returned back to Miami at the end of August
  • I used my extra red blood cells to crush an existing sprint PR at the final Trilogy race on Key Biscayne like four days after I got back. I was bummed though because even with a time of 1:11:07, I couldn’t break top 5.
  • I owe a complete race report for Augusta but for right now, all I can say is Holy Cow it was amazing! I finished in 5:53:06 and was super happy about that. I crossed the finish feeling like a fraking super hero and can not wait for another 70.3. Still deciding what and when that will be.
  • I rounded out the season with the international distance at Miami Man. Miami Man was one of my very first races when I started this sport ia year and half ago so I was really interested to do it again and gauge improvement. What a difference a year makes! I shaved 11+minutes off my total time and went from 13th to 6th in my age group. I improved in all three disciplines but made the biggest gains in my swim and run.

After all of that, I registered for the ING Miami full marathon but had to pull out due to some nasty achilles issues and an overall feeling of being pretty burned out. I decided it was more important to continue building on the gains I’ve made in tri than to run 26.2 right now. I spent the early part of our off season getting into a solid weight training routine, took two full weeks off from running over the holidays and got back into the hot box to stretch myself Bikram-style. I’ve been in Los Angeles for the last three weeks, resting and relaxing, hanging out with my two zany nephews who are, like, real people now, and slowly building mileage back up around Silverlake Reservoir. It has been a great break but I ready to get back to business.

I’ve set some interesting goals for myself this season. Since my feet still aren’t 100%, I’m going to spend the first five weeks back focusing on strength training and work in the pool and on the bike. I’m investing in a 5-weeks computrainer training protocol which promises to make me 30% more powerful and 2-4 mph faster; some lactate testing; and finally, drum roll, a new ride. More on that in the weeks to come.

Race-wise, right now I’ve got a March 10th sprint and April 7th Nautica classic on the calendar. There will at least be another Olympic in there and maybe a 70.3 in June. We’ll see about that. Oh, and more frequent posts as I attempt to raise tons of money for St.Jude! I am super focused on blasting through existing PRs, pushing beyond my existing fitness level and moving closer to the podium with each and every race.

Happy New Year folks. Hope you’re all out there living life happy and heathy and gearing up for all the goodness to come.

Why I Like the Y

1 Jun

I like swimming at the YMCA. Pretty much any YMCA. Why? Because instead of sharing lanes with my usual crew of tri super heroes, everyone in the pool at the Northampton YMCA this morning was either wearing a back brace or just sorta casually breast stroking or was well beyond 70 years old.

And I liked this because in addition to making me feel like a super star (awful, I know), it was just nice to be in a pool with folks who weren’t clocking their 1K free time or trying to figure out what the hell it means to do 3 x (5 x 100, 20″ RI), 200 kick. It was nice to just get in there and swim. Although the woman I had to share a lane with when I first got there, was sipping water from a bottle with the Ironman logo on it. And I overheard her saying she was training for a tri. She was quite heavy. Bigger than Athena heavy. And that made me like this Y pool and the swimmers in it even more.

The pool is totally utilitarian. Not what I’ve grown accustomed to at UM. The website says it’s got 25yard lanes but I swear they’re short. And the lanes are narrow so sharing is difficult. The pool is in the middle of the building so there are no windows. It smells like a pool. The water feels just maybe a little warmer than it should.

I went there on Tuesday morning as well and that swim sucked. I hadn’t been in the water in over a week and I felt like I was wearing a cement bathing suit. It was all I could do to pull off a few sets of 100s an 50s and then call it a day.

But today was different. Today was an “on” day in the pool. And “on” days in the pool, I’ve discovered, tend to happen when I go in with absolutely no expectations.  And “on” days make me hot to get back in the pool as soon as humanly possible. So I think I’ll go back tomorrow with no expectations and see what I can pull off.