Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I had two resolutions for 2010.

1) Use reusable grocery bags every time I shopped.
2) Paint my toenails.

I stuck to #1 pretty darn well, but never once did I do #2. Failed miserably. Plain toenails the whole year. Oh well, guess I'm just not good at tapping into that part of my femininity. Not going to try in 2011. I have better things to work on...

1) More travel and worldly culinary experiences.

I love going to new places and I love trying new foods, but I definitely don't do either enough. I easily get stuck in my everyday routine and won't venture out. No longer! I've had a few awesome experiences and am hungry for more. It could be a different state in the U.S. or a country on the other side of the world, bottom line: I want to see the what's out there and try different cuisines along the way.

2) Don't make excuses with my racing / take an existentialist approach to triathlon.

Battling an injury in '10 and taking sport philosophy class gave me a lot of time to think about my state of mind with triathlon. It wasn't that healthy. I often made excuses for why things went they way they did (just look at my old RRs) and, worse, I was too concerned with the outcome of a race and thus lost sight of the journey that took me to the finishline. Basically, I was unable to live in the moment and enjoy triathlon to the fullest because I feared the number on the clock at each transition and ultimately the number at the end. Yes, a certain amount of concern with time is good and drives one's competitiveness, but there's a fine line. I don't want to be that person who races in fear then tells an excuse-laden story when things don't go perfectly.

So I'm taking a new approach now: 1) Live in each moment (and enjoy it as much as I can) rather focusing on the future and/or past; 2) No excuses and no trying to justify a sub-par race result because "x-y-z" happened.

If you catch me whining and making excuses please remind me of this post lol.

Last but not least...

3) Date smarter... actually, maybe even just stay away from dating until I have my own shit figured out.

I've had trouble in the dating department for about 2.5 years now. There are many reasons for this that I'd rather not go into; although, I bet if I told some of my stories my blog would become more popular lol. I appreciate what I learn from dating and even what I learn from not dating and being single, despite the hurt that sometimes accompanies both. I believe one must date the wrong guys to truly appreciate what's right in the end. But for now, I'd rather just stay away from the whole scene because I have a lot on my personal to-do list and I'm sick of the BS. Love will happen one day, I believe that, but I'm content being on my own for now!


And with that, I'm off to go on a long bike ride to start this New Year off right!


View of downtown Boulder from above.....
I had to fit in one last trip in 2010 and Boulder was calling my name. Multiple reasons for that...

1) I've heard such great things about Boulder from the triathlete community that inhabits the area and other friends, so it's been on my destination list for a while with the ultimate idea being: I might leave SoCal eventually and need to explore potential places to live.

2) I wanted to get in outdoor activities in real mountains away from crowds and stoplights, i.e. somewhere other than the typical SoCal scene.

4) Experience the culinary scene, of course!

5) Be part of a research experiment testing a new device that may enhance athletic performance. Cutting edge. More on that later.

6) My good friend offered me a cozy guest room to stay in and I could afford to take a few days off, so that sealed the deal!

After four hours of bike/run that morning I grabbed my bags and was off, on too much of an adrenaline high to give into tiredness from the past week's craziness. I arrived at DIA in the dark and headed into Denver for dinner. My first culinary adventure occurred at a noodle house called Bones, where I tried bone marrow for the first time, as well as an amazing Soba noodle dish with lamb carpaccio.

For those unfamiliar, bone marrow is a nutrient-dense fatty protein served in the bone (right from the source). It's a gourmet delicacy, nutritional powerhouse and very primal, triple whammy!

The action began bright and early with a hike up Mt. Sanitas, which is a fairly steep climb that was about a 2,000-foot elevation gain from my starting point in town. Sanitas reminded me of the mountain version of Thousand Steps Beach in Laguna Beach... times 10. After making the summit, it was a quick trip down and over to Boulder Creek to explore more. All the while, I definitely felt the effects of being in altitude, but it wasn't as bad as I expected.

From the top of SanitasNotice how open space surrounds the city. That's not just by luck.
Near the bottom looking back up.

Boulder Creek (which is like night and day compared to Trabuco Creek by my house, the latter being dirty bacteria-ridden chocolate-milk-like grossness lol)

That afternoon I explored downtown Boulder with my tourguide, Allen Lim. I fell in love with the town, probably because it's the polar opposite of a place like Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, an area I truly dislike. Boulder is full of funky, cool, one-of-a-kind shops that are anything but mainstream, and the crowds are friendly too! As for the dining scene, pretty much every restaurant is also unique and offers fresh, locally harvested food that's prepared fresh and flavorful. Fresh fresh fresh. I wish I could always know the source of my food here in SoCal -- it seems so easy in a place like Boulder!

Monday night I had the privilege of eating at Frascas with Allen. This place is a must if you're in town! The place offers gourmet Northern Italian cuisine (so not the typical pizza/pasta Italian joint) and the most hospitable service ever. The most unique spin on the night was our table location -- Frascas has a new concept where they seat guests right in the kitchen where the action happens.

Our meal was six courses all paired with wine. Everything with light and in smaller portions so even though it was six plates of food, I never felt overly stuffed. Plus, it took about three hours to get through the meal -- nice and slow pacing, the way to eat.

Some highlights:

Cross-country skiing / dental appliance day! More on the latter later :) Anyways, thanks to plans made by AL, a group of us headed to Frisco for cross-country skiing, something that's been on my bucket list for a while! Boy, was I in for an adventure.

Before we headed out I got to witness the legendary creation of "Dr. Lim's Rice Cakes." I've been wanting to try these little morsels of amazingness forever, made by the doctor himself -- finally! Conclusion: I'm hooked. Click the link to see how these things are made. Perfect fuel for exercise.

To sum up my first experience XC skiing: I started off as a total klutz -- just going forward was a challenge haha. It was pretty funny to watch, I'm sure. Despite having years of experience snowboarding (even some downhill skiing and ice skating) I was a dud on the XC skis. I thought I'd be doomed to the mini "beginner's loop" for the day while the rest of the group went off on the trails. But I don't easily give up nor was I going to get frustrated; I just kept trying and smiling and laughing and sweating.

Allen, me and Ian MacGregor (former pro cyclist from Garmin-Slipstream)

Eventually I started getting the hang of it; well enough that I could go off onto the real trails with the group. Man, that was so fun!! Everyone said I won for "most improved" that day. Overall: total BLAST and one hell of a workout! No wonder Nordic skiers are known to have the highest VO2max around.

I skied with people who knew what they were doing... it's OK because they turned around often to make sure I was still there. I didn't mind bringing up the rear at all :)

Random chair lift... good place for a quick breather since I wasn't a very efficient and probably was working harder than the others, but in a psychotic way I didn't mind that at all :)

Tuesday afternoon was a rush to get to a dentist appointment (yes, I'm serious). But not just any appt.; this one involved observing and being part of a research experiment. The ordeal involves custom mouthpieces that might improve endurance performance. It's quite a concept, but I'll save details for a later post. It's getting some attention though, and even renowned physical therapist Kelly Starrett was around to check things out (it was quite a treat meeting Kelly, btw), as were other pro cyclists who were getting fitted for a piece, including Taylor Phinney.

My mouthpiece fitting took 2+hours. A long process; and that's just part one. As you can imagine, I was hungry after that -- I was probably still burning calories from my inefficient attempt at XC skiing -- so off to another culinary adventure: dinner at The Kitchen. Like Frascas, go to The Kitchen if you're in Boulder. Here was my main dish (talk about color, flavor and freshness):

My last day, so I had to get in more outdoor activity (aka sight-seeing while exercising, the only way to go!) before leaving. I bundled up and headed out for a picturesque run along Boulder Creek. Cycling, running and even walking, in my opinion, are the best ways to get to know a new area. There's so much more you see and take in vs. driving. During my whole run I was devising plans on how I could move to Boulder sooner than later ... it only took a few days to realize this place would be good for me at some point :)

Morning fuel before the run... elixir of freshly juiced veggies/fruit with protein powder and other healthy stuff + nut butter mm mmmm. Too bad I was burping broccoli on the run haha!
Chily run... but I just missed the real snow storm!
Before leaving, I had a few more stops to make including 1) Amante's for another of their excellent espresso drinks, 2) Whole Foods to pick up some of a Boulder special: Justin's Honey Almond Butter... (there's also maple, chocolate and some others... bottom line: Justin's Nut Butter might be the BEST in the world), and 3) the base of Flatirons to get what's apparently "the iconic Boulder photo."

Then back at DIA waiting for a my flight. Of course it was delayed... but I'm just thankful I made it out given the weather conditions and crazy flight situations all over the U.S.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I'm back... almost

Funny how holidays offer a break but end up being busier than normal life.

Anyways, this blog is about to get some major attention starting today.... after I go to the gym and ride my bike :)

I've got lots to talk about: A last-minute Boulder trip, dental appliances as performance enhancers, beating running injuries, great recipes and dining experiences, answers to questions from oh so long ago, what's ahead in 2011 and so on.

I'm going to skip over my Christmas and all that because it's pretty much the same story. Good times, good company with family and friends, thoughtful gift-giving, lots of good cooking and eating... same old same old!

Man, I also have a lot of blog reading to catch up on... wow.

Stay tuned!

Just gotta share...

Ya know that gym session/bike I mentioned HAD to be done before any more blogging would occur? Well it was awesome and I want to share because you should do it, especially the strength circuit...

PIT Class at SPI (aka high-intensity strength training circuit)
WU routine of glut bridges, windshield wipers, reverse lunges w twist, sumo squats, etc, and rowing to get HR up. Then the "meat" of it...

Main workout
8 rounds:

5-10-5 gassers (aka short agility run/sprint with cones)
8 deadlifts (did mine @ 115 lbs)
10 overhead squats with full-body band*
8 inverted ring rows (think TRX)
20 four-step lateral box steps (10 ea. side)
20 can openers**
20 side plank hip dips/lifts (10 ea. side)

This took me about 40-45 min including warmup.

Then I downed a premade carb/protein drink, chit-chatted a bit, changed into cycling clothes and was off for Round 2...

20-mile bike
From Laguna Canyon to Lake Forest, the long way. Did a bunch of fartlek-style high-intensity intervals but nothing super structured, it was mostly to stay warm because despite sunny weather, it was so incredibly cold that I almost went back to my car (actually the van that I'm temporarily driving) and just drove home. But I decided to tough it out knowing Xmas dinner leftovers were awaiting at home :)

*squats with one giant rubber band that you step on with both feet and hold above your head, so essentially you're boxed inside the band. There's a lot of resistance created in this position and it's NOT easy to maintain perfect form; usually your arms and/or knees will "fall forward" but that's bad and you have to resist that by activating the core, shoulders, gluts, etc. This was the hardest exercise for me in the whole routine especially due to my poor upper-body flexibility.

**lay supine (face up) on the floor holding a decently heavy kettlebell above your chest, arms fully extended. Lift legs and lower. Repeat 20x. Great core exercise.

Monday, December 13, 2010

What a marshmallow can say about you

So, I'm still busy. And when I get a break in between the madness, I take full advantage by letting my brain rest, avoiding the computer/my desk, gelling out... and... not blogging. It sucks because there are a lot of blog topics piling up and now it's becoming somewhat daunting with all I have to write about. Ah! But before I tackle that to-do list, I wanted to share something I learned over the weekend (which can possibly be applied to what I just said above)....

The relationship between marshmallows, delayed gratification and life success.

Let me back up a bit. I was lucky enough to have dinner with my good friend, Allen Lim, on Saturday. Allen is a genius and I love picking his brain, hearing his stories, etc. On top of his vast knowledge of exercise physiology, he's also quite the philosopher/psychologist. I was talking to him about my life and where I'm at right now, which sparked him to tell me what I'm now about to tell you.

It's so good, and something I have to share.


The Marshmallow Experiment
There was a psychologist back in the '60s who noticed kids around age 4 first began to show traits of self-discipline. He decided to test a group of kids and note the varying levels of self-discipline, particularly how one's level of self-discipline plays a role in delaying immediate gratification in order to achieve goals and long-term success.

The experiment was simple.... The psychologist took kids one by one into a room and made an offer: the child could eat one marshmallow now, or, if the child waited for the psychologist to leave and come back, the child could have TWO marshmallows when he returned. He then left the room leaving one marshmallow sitting on a table in front of the child -- essentially, leaving it up to the kid if he or she would eat ONE now, or wait and get TWO later. He was gone for 10-15 minutes, and what happened was fascinating.

Results were all over the place -- some chose to eat one marshmallow immediately, while some kids held strong and waited so they could have two, arguably the better choice (two is always better than one, right? lol). However, the psychologist didn't really know what to make of the results.... until years later....

The kids from the original study were contacted when they were seniors in high school, and what was found was amazing -- there was a direct correlation between the kids' choice of one or two marshmallows and how they were doing in school and life. Specifically, the kids who waited for two marshmallows (i.e. delaying gratification and practicing high self-discipline) had higher SAT scores, while the kids who ate the one right away had lower SAT scores and tended to struggle more in school, life, etc. The same people were then followed throughout life, and similar trends of success rates were found -- and it all related back to those traits of self-control that they exhibited at 4 years old.

The point is: Delayed gratification and self-discipline is the key to success in life.

According to regarding the results of this study: "The resisters [those who waited for 2 marshmallows] were more positive, self-motivating, persistent in the face of difficulties, and able to delay gratification in pursuit of their goals. They had the habits of successful people which resulted in more successful marriages, higher incomes, greater career satisfaction, better health, and more fulfilling lives than most of the population.

Those having grabbed the [one] marshmallow were more troubled, stubborn and indecisive, mistrustful, less self-confident, and still could not put off gratification. They had trouble subordinating immediate impulses to achieve long-range goals. When it was time to study for the big test, they tended to get distracted into doing activities that brought instant gratifciation This impulse followed them throughout their lives and resulted in unsucessful marriages, low job satisfaction and income, bad health, and frustrating lives.

To see this study in action click here, it's actually very funny to watch these kids stress out.


Anyways, I think Allen's point to me was that I represent the kid who waits for two marshmallows given my current life circumstances -- or at least I hope that was his point :)

This study can also relate to our sports and how we approach triathlon or whatever we do... God knows that for most of us endurance sport requires a lot of patience in terms of developing ability, and if you can wait and stick to it, as rough as it gets as times, the payoff is worth it.

So what about you?

Which kid would you be?

One marshmallow, or two?

And, btw, hopefully, after reading this you'll be able to practice self-discipline regarding my blog meaning if you can wait now, come back later and the'll be good stuff for ya... delayed gratification in action right here folks lol ;)