Monday, April 7, 2014

Run Workout to Try // New Bike // Birthday Weekend

Raw vegan chococalte avocado cheesecake.

Monday morning training hangover. Got to love it. I asked for it. I told Lucho I was feeling ready and motivated to work my ass off over the weekend. And that happened. Each afternoon I'd come home and basically just lay on the floor not even bothering to shower right away, but instead drinking kombucha, eating, Compexing and messing around on the computer. Actually Saturday I was more trashed from a ocean swim/run combo, and Sunday even after a long ass day I had enough brain cell power to make client calls and do real work. It's that Saturday run I want to share for you to try.

Before I blabber about the run, just fyi this blog will be more than just that (lots to catch up on!) -- also new on my new bike and the story behind that, and my birthday weekend recap in pics. Teaser: Ya see that sweet looking piece of amazingness to your left? I had the family go to 118 Degrees (raw vegan restaurant) for my birthday dinner this year... don't worry I ate grassfed beef the night before for dinner ;)

So the run. I normally don't bother posting workout details, but this one is one worth sharing. It was a blast. It felt like four run sessions in one (MAF, hills, tempo/threshold, more hills) and I loved it; went by super fast too. Add this to your workout library when the appropriate fitness is there. I think it's a great example of workout that will test if you are capable of being in control of your body/HR and not let your HR controlling you. In other words -- stick to MAF when MAF is the goal, then go hard as shit when that's the goal, and have the ability to bring it back to MAF and so on...

Long run with a mix of intensity
10-12 miles

Warmup: 2-3 miles building to MAF as you loosen. Get loose. (I did 3 miles, needed it)

Hill repeats: 5-6 X ~1:00 hard hill intervals pushing to near max efforts. Jog easy and light back to the start ~1:00-1:30. (I ran a ~0.15-mile hill 6x and got my HR up to the 180s on these!)

MAF: Then cruise for ~2 miles relaxed at MAF.

Intensity: Then 3 miles starting at 7:20 pace and building towards 7:00 by the end. Float around in this range. Translation: hard tempo/sub-threshold effort (my threshold is ~175-177ish bpm and I did this effort at 168-174HR).

Easy: Jog 1 mile.

More hills: Then 5 X 30" max effort HILL sprints. Go hard on these. Recovery is 2:00 easy walk/jog. Ouch.

Cooldown: ~1 mile easy.

.... Yup. I ended up with close to 12 miles, feeling awesomely tired after. We did an ocean swim prior, and it was abnormally freezing in the water (50s), and I think the coldness from that left its mark too. I came home from that run hanrgy and made a HUGE bowl of sweet potato mash with avocado, chia, cacao nibs (yes, chocolate for lunch), melted grassfed butter, almond milk, cinnamon, sea salt and stevia. Topped that with two sunny-side-up pasture-raised eggs cooked in more butter. That combo (and variations of it) is my go-to meal again these days now that I'm training regularly and with volume/ intensity again. Normally I have it for breakfast after an AM workout, but it sounded good for lunch today instead ;) I'm going to post recipe/pics soon. That particular sweet potato was freshly bought from farmer's market and had deep purple flesh, like I get in Kona. Mmmm.

In other news...

I got a new bike.

Headed to pick up the new ride. Selfie-worthy moment, right?!
I'll preface by saying I've been friends with Jim Felt for a long time, and in fact we even have family who worked together years ago, so it goes way back with us. When I got my first Felt B2R in '09 there was a problem with how it was built, and Jim was there to help me get it fixed the right way. We've been buds since. But things happen, and I left the B2R on the back burner for a while when I rode the Shiv last year; however, that deal with Specialized didn't extend past 2013 (which is completely fine -- no hard feelings there, just wasn't meant to be). I got back on my old B2R upon resuming training this year, while brainstorming my next move for a new ride. I was open to explore anything, but partial to Felt. Really, since I've been in triathlon I've had the desire to get more serious with Felt, and it's something Jim and I have discussed. It was time to be more aggressive with that. I started eying the Felt DA and IA, thinking "why not just go for it: IA." It was a long shot to think I'd score an IA in 51cm -- that bike is not easy to get, and I know I'm no Rinny or professional sponsored athlete. But again, my relationship with Jim and Felt goes way back, and I'm also a mere 15 minutes from Felt's HQ here in Orange County, so somehow the stars aligned and I had the opportunity to get that IA, in my size -- an important detail ;). When I got the news -- right before my birthday --  I was, at that point, about ready to give up and move on from the IA dream, so it was a total shocker to have that all change in a matter of an hour. Happy birthday to me, right?! To save some money, I only got the frame and then built it out with my parts. This past week we got it all dialed in and I rode it daily, accumulating 10+ hours in the saddle, and as a result feeling extremely satisfied with the ride, the feel, and so on. It's so great to be building a solid relationship with the whole Felt team, and I couldn't be more thrilled with the direction things are heading in that regard.
Hot new addition to the family. It has yet to sleep in the garage, and is instead living in our living room/dining room area. Dinner time is more enjoyable with this view. I'll also be getting new wheels soon, more details on that to come.

So how is the IA?!?! It's an amazing bike to say the least. It rides like a dream and the fit is incredibly comfortable for me. I'll have to share the evolution of my bike fit soon, my fitter (Dave Jordaan at sent me some rad pics from a year ago when we first started working together some tweaks between, and now.

However, I won't lie, the IA is an extremely high-maintenance bike due to how integrated everything is. Seriously. But I'm not complaining. I'm honored to be on such a high-tech bitchin ride, and equally honored that despite it's complicated nature, I got an education on the bike and how to handle it by the design engineer himself, Anton, over at Felt HQ. I learned a lot and there's no way I plan on being helpless with this bike nor will I leave it to "the boys" to work on it.

In addition to many rides this week, I did a T-runs off the bike Thursday and Sunday, after 1hr40min  and 4hr rides, respectively, and man I felt springy and fresh on both runs. HR was at MAF but I was ~30-60 seconds faster than my usual MAF pace, Sunday especially. Gonna be interesting to get into some racing... I am so antsy lol. But enough workout nitty gritty talk.

I'll leave you with some photos from a couple weekends ago. It was my birthday March 29 (last year in 25-29!!!)... it was Oceanside 70.3...there were celebrations Saturday and Sunday nights... and it was a ton of fun on so many levels.

Spent most of Friday working the Bonk Breaker booth at the expo, alongside my athelte Amy.

Friday was nonstop once I got to Oceanside. Chatted with tons of friends and podcast fans at the expo while hanging with my Bonk Breaker family.

This is why I love triathlon, right here. Pictured is the Further Faster Forever team, aka #F3, and they're just a bunch of awesome folks from all over who share a common passion for endurance sports and started a group/club as a result. Bill in the blue F3 shirt and red sunnies is the founder. This was at their pre-race dinner, which John and I hung out at for a while! And yes, those dogs are large, but so sweet and like teddy bears.

Birthday morning - up at 4:45 ish in the morning to partake in race day and try to be everywhere for everyone. That is tough at a "short" race like a half-Ironman. If you follow me on Twitter, you did see that I did a pretty decent job on timely updates on the pro race.

Calm before the storm on race day. Next year I will likely be in another spot on the course at this time ;)

Tracking a 70.3 pro race on foot with iPhone is tough work, but worth it when you see amazing feats of endurance fitness. Here is male winner Jan Frodeno, in the lead, looking smooth.

I had a handful of athletes racing, and I know you've seen this guy before... Ray! He PR'd his half-Ironman, and had his strongest run ever at 70.3, which was our main focus/goal starting back in December, so I'm glad it showed. Ray is a great example of having passion for the sport and being patient -- not expecting overnight gains. When you're busy and have a demanding life outside of triathlon, it can take years to figure it all out. But if you're having fun in the process, living your life and not obsessing over results you'll be golden.

It was the battle of the Heathers for that win, and this Heather (Wuertele) had the edge of the other (Jackson); although, in my eyes they were equally as strong and both put a pretty big gap on the rest of the women's field by the end. I posted more pictures from the race/finish line on my Twitter; so no need to repeat here.

What a feeling that must be. #winning

Remeber this name: JAN FRODENO. He already won gold at Beijing, and now he's stepping it up to long-course with his eye on Kona. Super chill dude and has what it takes. It's not a fluke to beat a 5x Oceanside champ like Andy Potts, ya know what I'm sayin?

Ok, I LOVE triathlon, but I had my fill for a while and needed to escape, so we hit up Mother Earth Brewing in San Diego for some tasters.... then I went home and fell asleep lol (especially knowing that we'd be hitting up the Wattie after-party Saturday night and I needed my energy for that -- it was great night and like a mini Kona reunion; no pictures are taken at such events ;)). And for the record, I lived in those 110% Play Harder Compression all Fri/Sat while on my feet. Necessary. Use code 110CoachTawnee for 10% and free shipping on any Play Harder Compression purchase!
 I (happily) made my own birthday dinner: Organic grass-fed beef and broccoli with onion, garlic and ginger. Picked up the supplies from Jimbo's, which I wish we had in OC.

Sunday we hit up the new Carlsbad pool for a little swimmy swim. I don't know if it was the pool or what, but I felt freaking great in the water cruising some long sets. T-Ran it back to my parent's condo (where we were staying), and that was hot and hilly. Got lost cuz my phone died and I don't know the area, it was awesome.

More b-day fun with my amazing family Sunday night! That includes 2 athletes I'm coaching (mom & sis) so #CoachTawnee gets special treats too ;)

I wanted to go somewhere unique for all of us, so we hit up the raw/vegan restaurant 118 Degrees in Costa Mesa, and ordered a bunch of fun dishes to try and share. I can't even begin to list all the goodness you see here, but it's all raw and vegan (now you know why I had the grass-fed beef the night prior lol -- balance!)

This was my main entree at 118 Degrees -- Raw enchiladas with macadamia filling. It looks "light" and I thought I'd still be hungry but that hearty mac nut filling and everything else was extremely sustaining (plus I tried everyone else's entrees lol).

And that chessecake with avocado and lovely garnish, as well as a banana dulce de leche to the left... Yes, it was very picture worthy not just for me. Sister getting her food porn photo up to the IG!

A'ight... peace!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Trail Race #1 vs. #2 -- Data Geek-Out Session!

I am definitely one who gets lost in a workout (figuratively speaking... well, most the time anyway), ignoring the data and all the crap and just being in that state of flow. However, I am also a person who loves to download the device, look over every bit of info and try to make sense of it all. The analysis part is so fun. Good thing I got into coaching.

So that takes us to this post, where you're gonna get the data freak side of me! Normally, I'm not this specific with every workout or race, but there's a reason this time: I had the opportunity to do the same 10-mile trail race that I also did exactly one month ago (OC Chili Run); yet, be in two very different conditions from a training/fatigue standpoint. This is the kind of stuff I love to geek out on in terms of data, performance, what affected performance, etc, in round 1 vs. round 2, and that's what I'm about to do here. So if you're not into all that, skip this post. I don't mind ;)
Can you spot The Betty?! #teambetty #110playharder

Post-Race Soreness/Fatigue/Recovery
View from Top of the World.
Ok, I'll admit, I filtered this one ;)
First off, the most glaring difference concerns DOMS. After the Feb. 22 race I had literally the worst DOMS ever in my legs, quads mostly. Couldn't walk normally at all. It was laughable how bad it was. I rode long/ran the day after, but it didn't feel good at all, especially that run, ouch! Then 48 hours later it was so bad that during a recovery run I had to hobble downhill (couldn't even manage to jog down, hurt too bad) and ultimately cut that "run" short.

After the March 22 race? Fine. No crazy DOMS. Legs were very slightly sore right after, but overall felt fine -- including quads (it's now Monday after the Saturday race). Saturday post-race I did an hour trainer, and felt surprisingly "springy" in the legs.

Then Sunday I felt great! I rode 4 hours / 72 miles with some significant hills, including Top of The World. For those who know Laguna Beach/OC, this is not a climb for the faint at heart especially 3 hours into a ride. Followed up with a T-run all sub-8:30 miles, not forcing the pace at all. HR in MAF easily.

On the Feb. 22 race I decided to test my fat adaption and do this race with no fuel during and only a brief stop for water once or twice. Result? I bonked. The hard effort (running at threshold of HR 170-180 or so) caught up to me by mile ~7ish. The last three miles were like a drunken blur of running haha. I slammed a Bonk Breaker right after feeling pretty depleted until that bar worked its magic, mmm.

Local raw honey is your best choice here. The local honey
can help you rid yourself of allergies! Hopefully this
will work for my runny nose that inevitably comes
with every workout I do lol.
On the March 22 race I had the same pre-race breakfast: kabocha squash mash with chia seed, hemp seed, almond milk, liberal amounts of cinnamon, then sea salt and stevia to taste. Drank water leading up to the start and took MAP before as always, but then decided to carry some nutrition this time. I tried something new! Raw local honey and water in a flask.

I got this idea from Dr. Phil Maffetone mostly; although, I know more people are doing it. I added 2 tsp honey to ~9oz water, which in retrospect wasn't enough calories (I misread label mistaking tbsp for tsp, oops). However, it still tasted amazing, settled well and I think helped avoid a bonk this time (although I still didn't have a strong finish so, like I said, it was likely too few calories). The only issue was when I went for the first sip and the mouth piece on the Fuel Belt flask FLEW OFF when I pulled with my teeth, causing me to have to stop, grab it, and fix it. Didn't want to lose the flask (it was my mom's) nor my nutrition. Ok, seriously? What a POS!!! That cost me about a bit o' time, but who cares.

After the race I was not ravenous for calories. Took some post-race MAP and had a large handful of some raw nuts. That was all. Didn't eat a full meal until a few hours later.

Speaking of nutrition I made a killer green drink after the Saturday trainer session.
Turmeric, ginger, cucumber, celery, parsley, radish greens, beet greens, cayenne.
Didn't taste the best, but holy crap did it work magic! I woke up the next day
feeling like a rockstar ready to charge a big workout!

Magnesium Woes
Something else to compare with Feb. 22 vs. March 22 that I have to point out, TMI or not. Consider it a PSA. I've been taking Natural Calm Magnesium before bed, and it's great. Mix a tasty tsp of powder with water to get your necessary Mg and sleep like a baby. Well on Friday night before the recent 3/22 race, I f-ed up. I used a regular spoon to scoop out the Mg powder, and scooped out way too much. Wasn't really thinking about it, but it was probably double the dose I'm used to, if not more? Race morning I woke up with the immediate need to get to the bathroom, or else. Excess magnesium can cause loose stools -- I found out that this is, indeed, the truth. I needed bathroom stops all the way up until ~20min before the race start. I'm sure that depleted me a bit. Oops! haha.

Training & Fatigue Status Leading Up to Race
Going into Feb. 22 I was more fresh at the tail end of just one base week that had no intensity other than some strides (and the week prior had been recovery). However, at that point I was still lacking fitness and lacking time on the trails, especially at the tough intensity.

On March 22 I certainly had more training under my belt including way more trail runs, the best being a 2+hour amazing trail run 7 days prior that had 2k elevation in 12-13 miles. Ya baby. However, March 22 also fell at the end of a hard 2-week training block with intensity this time, and, thus, I'd do the race way more fatigued. That was fine, and to me that was the exciting part to see how I'd do in one condition vs. the other.

Feb. 22 HRV:
82 avg taken upon waking.

March 22 HRV:
76 avg at wakeup.

Feb. 22 stats:
9.90 miles in 1:21:01 (they were short on the turn around point this time I think)
8:11 average pace
177 HR avg (which I didn't really believe when I saw this after, but maybe it's legit).

March 22 stats:
10.02 miles in 1:21:41
8:09 average pace
172 HR avg (this seems right)

Now, take a look at my splits:

Feb. 22 race splits.
Mile 2 is a brutal climb, mile 3 is a wicked descent.
March 22 race splits.
See, isn't this fun to compare and contrast?
How many of you are still with me, lol.
Interesting right? Different splits but virtually the same time! Like, on Feb. 22 I walked part of mile 2 (hilly!!) but than had a really fast downhill mile 3. On March 22 I walked less of mile 2, and mile 3 was a bit slower. Correlated? Hm.

Also to note: Trail conditions were slightly different, harder the second time due to recent storm chaos, but that's what I love about trails, ya never know. A harder more technical challenge is welcomed

Feb. 22:
First overall female.

March 22:
Third overall female.

That's with nearly the same performance on my end. Just goes to show you that you never know who will show up and how that can change things. (There were times I tried to catch the second-place girl who ultimately finished ~2min ahead of me, but just didn't have it this time.) Still completely content with my race and performance!!! Only wish that there was still one more race left in the series!

Ok, data geek out session complete. Feel free to share your thoughts and analyses on me. Tear me apart! I love it!


In other news, yesterday's long ride will officially be the last one the trusty Felt B2R. That bike has been in my life since 2009 and has been very very good to me, taking me on some of the most memorable journeys of my life so far... But something new is in the works... I'll spill the beans later!
Another from yesterday's ride. Enjoyed my
last 72 miles with my original TT bike!
#bonkbreaker #snacktime #topoftheworld
Taking her apart, for parts lol. And yes my MTB rear tire
is flat. Need to change it ASAP so I can ride something this week!

Thursday, March 20, 2014


I am The Real Starky (Twitter world: @TheRealStarky, the only person who's finally saying it like it is in the triathlon world). Here’s the story. I created the account because for a long time I would have these amazing yet somewhat offensive ideas and thoughts that would pop into my head, and publicly as “Tawnee Prazak” I knew I might get myself into some trouble if I were to verbalize those thoughts on Twitter or social media. I assume that many of my followers and fans perceive me as someone who’s pretty PC, or dare I even say a tad more on the innocent side. It seemed wise to uphold that reputation rather than become a sh*t talker and say-it-how-it-is kind of person.

How do these thoughts come to me? Well, first of all I’m a little more snarky (no pun intended) and “not so PC” by nature after all. Secondly, I’ve been involved in the triathlon world for a long time now, and have seen it all up close for years. Everything from Kona after parties to behind the scenes in the media realm, to hundreds of races and triathlete get-togethers of all kinds. All that experience and exposure had my mind racing with things I really wanted to say, but couldn’t. Especially with triathletes and how they can be, pro or amateur. Sometimes it’s just like, “really?!?!” I know you know!!! The ideas were just building up and it got to the point where it was just too good to keep to myself any longer.

Enter The Real Starky. Becoming TRS on Twitter seemed like the perfect solution to my quandary. I’d be able to get all those thoughts off my chest and into the world, target the right audience and key players, all with complete anonymity… and all while still upholding my reputation as Tawnee Prazak. Genius!

I never thought TRS would explode with popularity the way it has, and it’s gotten to the point where it’s becoming too hard to keep my identity a secret, which is why I’m finally coming clean.

There. I said it.


PS - You'll be seeing a lot of "confessions" today. Don't believe the rest ;)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Honor Thy Sleep... and Does 'Less is More' Ever Apply?

These days it seems like the biohackers of the world are bragging about their minimal sleep patterns, running off 5 hours or whatever and feeling fantastic. One may argue, “Well, most aren’t endurance athletes so they can get away with less sleep.” But au contraire. I know a handful of triathletes who operate on this minimal sleep cycle and seemingly do just fine. If they can do it, great. But I just don't get it. And interestingly, I listen to the Bulletproof Executive often and while Dave Asprey claims to not need much sleep because he has "hacked his sleep" so that he can get just as quality in less time, but I'm skeptical. Furthermore, when he asks his guests for their top-3 tips to kick more ass in life, I always hear people saying quality sleep!

Sleep is golden, especially when more and more research and even things like Traditional Chinese Medicine is telling us the value of sleep for optimal functioning (see comments on gallbladder below), athlete or not.

Anyway, I will never be a person who can get away with minimal sleep. But sometimes you need a reality check to make sure, right? I got that recently. A couple weeks ago going into the weekend, I had two terrible nights of sleep, which is rather rare for me these days, and it hit me hard. 

Let me back up a bit. I'm no stranger to those 1 a.m.-4 a.m. wake-ups and inability to fall back asleep. In a previous life, like prior to 2009, I used to have consistent bouts of insomnia but got that under control a couple ways: 1) learning to be in control of the mind (aka know how to turn it off), and 2) getting my sh*t together in life -- and by that I'm not trying to be snarky, I'm serious. Back then there were a lot of "unknown" variables in my life that I would let stress me out unnecessarily. Once I kinda got a hold on things and felt more at peace in my life situation, yup, sleep improved. I also mention the idea of mind control -- that is huge. When the brain turns on at 2 a.m., do you have control to turn it back off? This is a tough one to master, and sometimes I can do it, but not always.


Why do we wake up at those god-awful hours? First off, let me say, I use "insomnia" loosely, as I've never been clinically diagnosed insomniac nor was it/is it chronically detrimental. Like most people, I just get those annoying early wake-ups every so often, but nothing crazy. So I’m not trying to provide medical advice for insomniacs; although, I still think some stuff I’m saying is applicable if you think you’re in the category.

Insomnia or just random wake-ups, there is a lot that can be going on in the mind and body that cause us to wake up at random hours -- it's the body's cry for help if you will. Enter: The Chinese Meridian Clock. If you always wake up at the same time (which I don't) you might want to check out this graphic, which associates a specific organ and element to a specific time day/night:

Don't take this too literally. The organ names are loosely translated, so waking at 2 a.m. doesn't mean your liver is failing or something extreme. It's kinda complicated, and I don't even think I fully get it so I won't attempt to explain. I do know emotional state and the associated element play a role. I love TCM. I'll link to more blogs at the end for further reading.

Why would you be waking up early? Here are just several possibilities whether you believe in the Meridian Clock or not:
-Gut and digestive issues. Likely related to diet, above, or if it's gotten to the point of poor gut health.
-Caffeine later than 3 p.m. Studies show you're screwed with sleep if you drink caffeine later than 3. Not shocking.
-Poor diet. Either too much food too close to bed, too little food overall in the day (you wake up starving), the wrong food for you (i.e. gluten, too much sugar, dairy, etc).
-Alcohol*. A good drink (or 5) can knock you yet, yes, but does it equate to your best sleep? Heck no.
-Overtrained, fatigue, or injury. Just because you're tired doesn't give you a golden ticket to blissful sleep. Ever heard of post-Ironman insomnia? I rest my case. If you're injured your body is out of whack and that can lead to painful nights of sleep. Been there.
-Hormonal imbalance. This is a tangled messy web of potential issues.
-Emotions. Stress, grief, worry, fear, anxiety, etc.... Hm, some of these are associated with elements occurring in the night hours on the Chinese Meridian Clock.... hmmm... Seriously though.

*Interestingly, I know for me on those nights where I've drank too much (ya, it's happened), that I will, like clockwork, wake up around 3 a.m. Looks like that's my liver being pissed off. 


Anyway, back to my recent episode of shitty sleep. It was a Thursday night/Friday morning when it started. It wasn't workout-related; I was on a recovery week and feeling ok. This time I woke up fully alert and excited to go work after maybe 6 hours. Here's the difference: In the past I'd always wake up worried or stressed about something, or from too much exercise (see above). But, this time the ideas were flowing and my brain was like, "Ohhh yaaaa let's do that… fun!" Instead of fighting it this time and working to shut the brain off, I went with it. After a couple hours of working, it got light enough outside for me to head out for an amazing sunrise run with parts of it on the beach/sand at low tide. Pure bliss, and a mellow effort. Nothing that would be too fatiguing in my book.

Friday night we had a mellow family dinner party, but that still meant a late night out and I wasn't in bed until after 11 p.m. Ouch. I heard an expert on a podcast saying how important it is to be in bed before 11, as that's when the gallbladder gets to work to do a self-cleansing process (which is verified on that Meridian Clock if you look at the gallbladder's time). So, if we go to sleep after 11, that the automatic self-cleaning is inhibited, and we are, thus, not functioning at our best. Get to sleep early kiddos!

I never sleep later than 6:30, usually up by 5:30-6:15 a.m. on most days, so there I was Saturday morning wide awake after just ~6hrs again, and despite it being a recovery week, I was total trash. I am a 7-8+ hour sleeper dang it! In 48 hours I had gone from feeling on track with recovery week to feeling worse than during a hard training week. Brain barely functioning. Physically drained. Nothing else in my life was out of the ordinary to contribute to this feeling other than the lack of sleep. HRV = 69. Any time my HRV is below 70, I know I'm no good. I took it easy in the morning, then got in an easy and slow 3k swim midday which actually felt refreshing especially since I avoided intensity, but from there I totally skipped my run and didn't even second-guess that decision. Instead? I read -- book of choice was Way of the Seal, as I'll be doing a podcast with the author, Mark Divine, soon -- then coached a client through an LTHR run test.

Saturday night was back to good sleep (8+ hours, I was determined!), and by Sunday I was golden. HRV back into the 80s, and ready to go for it on a long brick workout with John, my mom and Joshua. It was a rather tough ride on what happened to be one of the hottest (80s) and windiest days of the year so far -- that is until this past weekend when temps easily got into the 90s – then a fun easy T run. HRV post-workout was standard 60s, no surprise. But I slept well again Sunday night and low and behold, HRV on Monday was great, back in the 80s, even after the 4-hour training day prior.
Peaceful shut eye.

A note on my personal HRV observations: 
I use SweetBeat, first off. I rarely average in the 90s unless I am 100% rested and off training in a rather extreme sense (like at least 3-4 days totally off or something). Usually the highest I'll see on a good day is 89 average. On a regular/semi-hard training week, I see a lot in the 70s, and I do my best not to dip below 70, but if/when it does I am willing to adjust the schedule and take a rest day or super easy day. Lucho is cool with all that, and I think he appreciates how in tune I am with that stuff. He told me he doesn't think I'm a slacker if I do make an executive decision for a day off or easy workout instead; whew ;)

Sleep. I need it.

So these biohackers or minimal sleepers who are claiming that they can kill it on just a handful of hours of sleep... I can't help but wonder if that's just a cop out for their own insomnia issues and they really would be better off with more zzz's... or if it's legit biohacking? I'm inclined to call BS!!

More on good sleep, and why we want it:
-How much is enough? Here's what I read: 
a) You need more if: you fall asleep as soon literally as you hit the pillow and still need an alarm to wake up (and this is normal) then you're likely sleep deprived. 
b) You are good if: you get to bed and fall asleep within a reasonable time (i.e. you don't just konk out within 30sec), and you don't need an alarm to wake up on time then you are generally good on sleep.
-Actual hours? Studies show 7-9 hours of sleep for adults is ideal. How many of you get that, show of hands?!
-Better performance. This is across all aspects of life: athletics/sport (see article below), work, socially, mentally, productivity, sharpness, etc. One of the things I hate most about lack of sleep -- feeling like I'm drunk and not in control of my movements, mind and functioning.
-Growth hormone is released in abundance during sleep. So if you're an athlete and looking to recover, get stronger and kick more ass in your sport, then freakin sleep all you can! Naps included!
-Cleansing processes in the mind and body occur during sleep. I mentioned the gallbladder. That's just one example!
-Hormones. I mentioned how GH is released. Well on the opposite end of the spectrum, if you get consistently poor sleep there is no doubt that you're risking hormonal imbalances.
-Appearance. Good sleep = better complexion, healthy-looking skin, better overall appearance. Bottom line: look your sexiest with sleep!
-Ward off sickness. Sleep deprivation weakens immune system further, and you're vulnerable to all the crap out there. Endurance exercise makes you vulnerable too, so if you can increase your chances of NOT getting sick, do what's in your control: sleep!

Last but not least:

Look, I'm no crazy biohacker with a bedroom that's set up like a science lab, but I do some things to ensure I get the most from my sleeping hours.

Master good sleep:
-Exercise can help you sleep better (see link below). But there's a point of diminishing returns... ahem you endurance junkies. It's also not ideal to exercise close to bedtime unfortunately.
-Turn off your devices. No phones, no computers/iPads, no TV, no bright lights, etc, in the bedroom before bed -- in fact not computers/devices for at least 1hour before bed is said to be ideal, but that's tough I know, because we all check Twitter before bed ;) Looking into devices and LCD lights screws up sleep right away in terms of melatonin production and so on.
-Light. The darker the room when you get into bed, the better.
-Get a sleep-tracking app. I like Sleep Cycle, and it's super cheap. Just make sure to put your phone on Airplane Mode during nighttime to avoid radiation exposure via the phone.
-Supplements. If you are having trouble sleeping, then certain supplements can help (see link below). I LOVE my Natural Calm Magnesium powder mixed in water before bed, it is so soothing. Other than that, I heard fat before bed can be helpful. I take my fish oil and Vitamin D closer to bed does that count?
-Nutrition. If you have an imbalance in nutrition, minerals, etc, sleep suffers. Get this ish figured out. It's an easy one that you're in control of.


More Resources:
How an extra hour can help athletes: 

Exercise's benefits to good sleep: 

Supplements for better sleep:

Understanding the Chinese Meridian Clock and Insomnia:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Race, Ride, Run... A Weekend Back At It!

Last weekend was my kinda weekend. Lots of time outdoors, and even when we came home at night we watched some great ultra documentaries that kept us in that outdoor mode -- Unbreakable: The Western States 100, and Race Across The Sky (Leadville 100 MTB). Side note: One of the Leadville events is definitely on my bucket list (not sure which one!), but knowing that I don't do so hot in altitude it may require moving up high for a year...  ;) Anyway, that's a far ways away.

Trail race = happy place. Rocking my Endurance Planet trucker hat,
my Rousey shirt complete with HOT DOGS, 110 Play Harder Compression, Team Betty Sweat band, and Hokas!
(Hoka should love me by now with all the love/support I give, right?!)

Pre-race IPA. I don't drink beer often, but when I do I
keep it quality. 
As you can see above in the photo, this past weekend I jumped into a little 10-mile trail race, The OC Chili Run in O'Neill Park, close to where I live (scroll down for course details). It was very last-minute and unplanned in the "big picture." I found out about it while doing some work, mentioned it to my family, and both my mom AND sister wanted to do it too. Sold. An opportunity to race with family like that and I'm in. Originally, Lucho and I threw out the idea of just having me do it at MAF effort, but then I got that competitive bug up my ass and there was no way I felt like just cruising. It wasn't a crazy competitive field or anything nor that long, I just personally felt like digging deep and putting myself into race-mode effort. It has been a while ;) Meanwhile, I wanted to self-experiment and run it with no nutrition, just to see how my body would hang knowing my current metabolic efficiency situation, and since it was just for fun I didn't care how that worked out for me, whether good (feel fine) or bad (bonk). FYI: For breakfast I had 2 TBSP chia soaked in almond milk, mixed with 1 TSBP hemp seeds, a slice of mashed kabocha squash, cinnamon, dash of stevia, Himalayan sea salt -- all mixed together, and coffee with unsweetened coconut creamer. Then a handful of MAP before the race with water.)

Pre-race with Karlee, my sister, and my mom, Lyndee.

My Race
I actually ended up winning overall female and led from the beginning. Surprise! Well, that said, there was a 7-mile option and we all started together; there was one fast lady who blew past me in the beginning and she won the 7-mile race, but I held on to win the 10-miler. I mean, ya, it was a small field of runners, plus I'm sure all the local fasties were saving themselves for Sunday's Xterra Crystal Cove (an epic race). But it still felt damn good to run hard, feel that drive to push myself again, and take a W. (Maybe it was that beer the night before! And it was just one then done, in case you're wondering.) 

Despite a small field, at one point I thought I was actually in a bit of a race with another gal, which got me pumped. There was a turnaround in the last 5 miles, at which point you could see everyone else behind you. I knew before turning around I was in first, but not sure how far back any other girls were. At the turnaround I saw another chick coming up, less than a quarter mile back with still 2.5 miles to go. I kinda said "oh shit" because at that point my plan to go without nutrition combined with hard running was starting to come back to haunt me. I was definitely feeling the ol' bonk-a-roo, and it was an ever-so-slight uphill grade those last 2.5 miles to the finish, just enough to add to the pain. I was seriously digging deep to run those last couple miles hard. But I needed/wanted a self-imposed struggle like that.

Ya know what though? Even when I was going hard, from the beginning of the race till the very end I always made an effort to congratulate nearly everyone I passed by, including my mom and sister of course! It was an all-smiles, all-good-vibes kinda day. Plus, self-experimentation worked: Found out that I'm not yet in that great of shape to handle 81 minutes of hard running (i.e. at LT and higher) on just breakfast and two sips of water from mini dixie cups at an aid station. Haha! I held an average pace of 8:08, which is great for me on trails especially not being in great shape yet. Elevation change wasn't insane, something in the range of 800-950 ft vertical total? Next time, I'll bring nutrition to see how that changes results.

Finished, and went straight for the Coconut Cashew Bonk Breaker. It worked its magic. I'm forever grateful for the support from Bonk Breaker. They are the shiznit and I'm honored to be on their Team again this year. Those are carbs I will partake in ;)
Form good not great (head a little too tilted back, too much anterior pelvic tilt, etc etc), but
still decent considering I hadn't dug deep like this in a long time and I wasn't
totally falling apart and a mess.

As you can see, thousands of fans were in attendance.
Of course, my mom and sister did great too! It was a super fun and special morning. Love that my sister is getting into all this racing stuff. They rock.
This girl! So proud of my sister. I think she's finally been bitten by the endurance sports
bug. She's killing it.

My mom sprinting to the finish line. She was side by side with that lady in blue so I started yelling for her to "pick it up and pass her," dang it!!! And she did :) Tough love it is.

Mom's form lookin' good.


The OC Chili Run Course
The OC Chili Run organizers designed a great route, and the trails we hit were super cool. I've lived near O'Neill Park -- which is just beyond Cook's Corner off Live Oak Canyon Road in the Saddleback Mountain area for those of you who know OC -- my whole life and have never run these trails. They actually combined several different trails to make up the race so a couple times you'd hit asphalt transitioning from one trail to the next.

The first 2 miles are all a big climb up, and the last portion of that was definitely the steepest and the only point where I walked a bit, maybe a minute or less. (I didn't pay attention to any data during this race.) Some dudes passed me then, but then as soon as we got to the top and the downhill started I felt pretty recovered and just started bombing down the trail, passing those same dudes back. I'm decent at descending and I know how to strategize in a race like this to maximize on my strengths. However, that all said, the intensity and speed at which I ran downhill (sub-7:00/low 6's for more than a mile) would later KILL me with the sorest quads I've experienced in a very very long time, like even more sore than after a 70.3! It was actually comical how much DOMS hit the quads, and just the quads, the rest of me was fine. Up until yesterday I was hobbling around like a little old lady.

Anyway, after the initial hill climbs and decent, it's mostly flat-ish trails with little baby hills and downhills, and slight grades up/down, but nothing major. For a couple miles there is a sick single track that is totally like a luge course, it's so narrow and carved in that it's pretty much like an undesignated no-passing zone. In fact, hopped out of the trail and pulled over once to let a guy behind go by me.

You pass the start/finish at mile 5, and from there you go down a trail that's somewhere between fire road and single track in width, turnaround at mile 7.5 and head home.

Throughout much of this entire race (except for beginning climb) I was totally by myself and just completely enthralled to be outdoors on such a fun trail. It was really peaceful feeling that solitude and oneness with the running. I also loved the old-school vibe of the race -- no timing chips, they just took your bib tag at the end, which was dead on accurate to my garmin time. They served complimentary post-race chili, for those who wanted some (hence the race's name).

Food porn!

Saturday night dinner. Shrimp salad with kale and romaine massaged in extra virgin olive oil, mixed with raw chopped walnuts, and sautéed mix of onion, celery root, celery, garlic. Oh ya fresh cilantro too, and juice from half a lemon.
Shrimp was cooked in coconut oil, veggies in grassfed butter.

Sunday Funday
I can't go without mentioning the rad day we had Sunday! After a shitty night's sleep (ya, bummer but it happens), we met with a long-time Endurance Planet fan and all-around great guy/athlete, Joshua, for a long ride and t-run. I recruited some of my peeps -- John, my client Ray and my Ironman-in-training mom -- and we rode Camp Pendleton and some more. It was good to push Joshua and Ray on the bike ride, as they're both doing Oceanside 70.3 in March.
Cruisin the Camp Pendleton ride with my crew, and sportin my rad Team Betty kit! #bettydesigns

Joshua #ftw with his GoPro contraption and mad skills to get these photos, not to mention he's just a great
guy, dedicated athlete, and a loyal Endurance Planet fan. 
We followed that up with a t-run of around 45ish minutes (?). I wasn't too sure about how my run legs would feel, but I managed to hang, and we just cruised and had fun chatting and whatnot.
T-run on sore @#$%ing quads, thankfully these guys  were great company
and they didn't kill me with the pace. #bonkbreakersocks #cooltanlines
During the end of the workout I was thinking about how I'd get back to my phone and search for a nearby place where I could order a nice, big, healthy juice to replenish. Meanwhile, John had other plans.... Beer plans. Unfortunately for me, there was no juice place close by; however, beer was close by, so I caved and went that route to Pizza Port, with Joshua joining us as well. I only had a half-pint, but it was enough to feel it after a semi-long workout. I'm not getting back into beer, I swear, just living life. I'll take the opportunity here and there if it means enjoying good company and a refreshing brew.

To top things off I was able to take a short nap Sunday. Napping has been totally foreign in my world lately because on one hand I haven't felt the need for the most part, and on the other hand I am super busy and don't really have time. So to shut things down and take the time to nap felt ah-mazing.


It feels good to be back in this groove...

#getoutside #sunshine #smiles

Friday, February 21, 2014

Video: Chef Biju Thomas Builds The Perfect Plate of Food

While I was in Colorado, I mentioned our dinner with Biju was a big priority. While we were there, I captured him in his element demonstrating how to build a killer plate of food, the Biju way. The food you see was fresh, prepared by him, guessed it...made from scratch! (On another note, I just gotta say that I can never spell scratch the right way anymore, my brain and fingers always wants to spell it skratch... thanks a lot guys, lol).

Biju #ftw:

If you were to ask for the recipes and specific dishes, I sadly cannot tell you all the details at this point. I was there to eat, socialize and have a good time that night; not document it all, sorry :/

But, that said, in a nutshell here's a list of what the dinner was:

Main Dishes:
-Salad of red and green cabbage with cilantro and a simple lemon/salt dressing
-Basmati rice
-Sauteed green beans with coconut
-Egg omlette/frittata, Indian style with the garlic/ginger "chutney" mentioned below
-Beef in a thick "gravy curry" (?) with coconut, onions, thyme, ginger, and a spicy kick
-Vegan curry yellow/orange in color with carrots, lentils, potatoes

Baked coconut shreds.
Quite possibly the perfect snack.
-Freshly made wheat tortillas - for soaking up the curry juice and rich sauces so nothing goes un-eaten (and, yes, folks, I had one; and, no, they were not gluten free. It's in these situations where I will eat nearly anything being served for the authentic experience)
-Baked coconut shreds - nothing added, and even better than my beloved dehydrated shreds! I think he said he just baked it for ~3hr at 350. Easy.
-Chutney dip/spread of ginger, garlic, onion, herbs, spices (I could eat this all day on everything!)
-Greek yogurt
-Wine... duh! I went to a wine shop prior and made sure to ask for a wine that pairs well with curry; the dude recommended this wine made by trappist nuns. It was an excellent pairing!
-Prior to dinner, he also mixed together some of the chutney and greek yogurt for a dipping sauce, and had potato chips out for dipping mmmm.


...I can only dream of preparing all that and still being such a laid-back cool host like Biju. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Video of My Metabolic Efficiency Test & Analyzing Results

I mentioned that while I was in Colorado, I did a metabolic efficiency test on the treadmill. We just posted the video today that goes over everything including my test results!

A huge thanks to Dina Griffin of Fuel4mance for making this happen, it was a "blast" -- if you're into that kind of thing lol ;) But for real, regardless of the altitude, I enjoyed this process thoroughly and love geeking out on the data with experts like Dina (she's smart, folks)! If you're not familiar with this kind of testing, watch and learn because we go over it all -- what metabolic efficiency means, fat vs. carb burning, the test protocol, watching the test in action, analyzing the results, looking at the graphs and charts, and more! We even use examples from other athletes, in addition to my own results.... ya, you get to know how my metabolism is currently operating and find out what kind of fat burner vs. carb burner I am!

Also a huge thanks to John for the video work, and Lucho for moral support (they both sat around in Kompetitive Edge all morning on Saturday while I did this ordeal, troopers).

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Bacon and Goat Cheese-Stuffed Burgers // Flourless Chocolate Cake

Mmm... (This is john's plate fyi! Me eat white-bread buns?! Ha!)
Last night was Valentine's, and we don't do Valentine's -- we both agree that it's a rather silly holiday, and thankfully it's usually on a week night in which we each have a class to teach or something going on so we can ignore it. But it was Friday night this year so... well... nothing special... haha. We decided to do what we usually do: Cook at home, and go to bed before 10. In fact it was so crowded and trafficy around our area (Laguna Beach, CDM, etc) that we vowed to never go out to dinner on V-Day, and instead stay tucked inside avoiding over-priced pre-fixed meals and cheesy love decor.

The only difference for this Friday eve was that John did most of the cooking AND he baked, so that was fun for me, and, ya, I'll admit it was pretty romantic (in my eyes) since I'm the chef 99% of the time, so maybe it was a special V-Day. Plus, I'm sick (more on that later) so it was nice not to have to do a bunch of work.

On the dinner menu:

Bacon- & Goat Cheese-Stuffed Burgers 
with local grassfed organic beef
Never again will I make homemade burgers without bacon.
They were incredible. Easy too...

Ingredients and directions (makes 4 hearty patties):
-Chop up about 5 slices raw bacon into ~1/4" squares and fry on stovetop until they're about 75% done. Remove and drain on paper towel.
-In big bowl, mix together 1 pound grassfed beef, the pre-cooked bacon bacon, goat cheese crumbles*, salt & pepper to taste, and any extra seasonings you like; we do garlic and red pepper flakes for extra flavor and a kick.
-Form into 4 big fat patties and grill on barbecue to your desired done-ness. We like medium rare.
-Build your burger how you like; suggestions below with our faves...

*Goat cheese crumbles are like the consistency/shape of feta or blue cheese, but a tad softer and spreads more easily. I don't do well with most dairy, but I am ok with goat products due to the lower lactose content, which is why we go with that, plus it's more delicious in my opinion.

On the side and/or toppings for the burgers:

-Tomato sliced and soaked in balsamic vinegar
-Sweet white onion and pear slices, pan sautéed in coconut oil - Cook onion slices until nearly done, and add in thinly sliced pear the last few minutes
-Baby arugula
-Horseradish mustard
-BBQ-grilled asparagus (instead of fries!) - Usually we marinate in olive oil and lemon before grilling, but because I was being lazy, we didn't put anything on this time, and just threw it on the BBQ straight up, which ended up being amazing. It got crispier without the oil, like french fries, and the flavor bursted -- oddly sweet and no need to add salt or anything. Honestly some of the best asparagus I've had.
-Buns (optional) - John also does buns, but *gasp* I do not. I know, shocking. 

His &Her Plates (I ended up spreading on more goat cheese after this picture lol):
My plate! Bun-free, duh! 
John's man plate.


For Dessert?
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Organic Blueberries
I had a glass of wine with dinner, and that masked the shitty feeling of sickness for a minute, but then it was back, and I realized drinking was a dumb idea. We had a bottle of brandy around for the Flourless Chocolate Cake(s) that John was making... he suggested some of "grandpa's cough medicine" before bed? Tempting, but I passed.

Biju's Flourless Chocolate Cakes. No gluten, low sugar, high fat, high protein. Delicious.
But back to those cakes. Ya, that picture right above looks pretty darn good huh. It was. I promise :) The idea and recipe for these came from Biju The Chef and his recipe in the FeedZone Cookbook. If you don't have the book, and want to recipe, click here (some people have had problems with the link; let me know if you have an issue and I'll send it to you personally). I was texting with Biju earlier in the week about them, and that's when we decided John wanted to be Mr. Chef with this recipe.

Only the best-quality ingredients... ya, that's a big bag o' sugar, but only 1/4 cup for the whole recipe.

Love a man working hard in the kitchen in a "I'm a Betty" shirt ;)

Batch #1. You flip them over when serving. Not sure if the "caving in" is normal,
but doesn't take away from the cake, and maybe you could stuff something in there?
Like bacon? lol

John's chef skills and the cakes did not disappoint. They were amazing, and even healthier than I expected -- go Biju! There's only a quarter cup of sugar in the whole recipe (plus what's in chocolate chips), then a lot of butter and eggs, both of which I love, and that yielded 24 little cakes. They are made in a standard-sized muffin pan, so you can imagine the size; I didn't feel guilty about eating a couple.... ok, so actually it was closer to 3 in one sitting :)

I thoroughly enjoyed watching John get busy in the kitchen, especially wearing his "I'm a Betty" shirt hahahaha!!! In fact he said he liked it too and misses cooking/baking. I think he's inspired to do more of it -- woo hoo! I love my time in the kitchen, but am happy to welcome helpers.

And now it's time to go find some natural remedies to get over this cold asap. Starting with a trip to the farmer's market.