Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Trip Recaps (with Video)

Can I just say it feels BEYOND good to be back at home knowing I don't have any more significant trips lined up in the near future? Trust me, I love a bit of travel and getting away to do fun things, work things, etc., but it usually means giving up on quality training, falling behind in some things despite my best efforts and getting out of my routines. I'll admit, I am a creature of habit and I love when I get in a groove at home of doing quality work and consistent training, having good home-cooked meals, getting the rest I need, wearing comfy clothes 24/7 rather than "real people" clothes, etc.

Yesterday was my first full day back at home since before Mammoth. Can you guess my priorities? Ride my bike for a long time (and climb lots of hills, about 4k worth), catch up on work, cook, bed by 9 (in that order).

Backing up, though.... Mammoth! I will say those two days of snowboarding bliss were worth the lack of s/b/r. I needed that. And all that training in altitude I talked up prior? Yea, not so much. We did do a run at 8,000ft when we got there, but that was it. The long days of snowboarding and the snowy conditions = no additional training. I did jump into a freezing @$$ pool one afternoon though. Does that count as training for cold conditions? We caught it on video; check it out below. My cousin joined me (sort of)...

As for the snowboarding, it came right back to me and it was a freakin blast. I love that mountain, and being there reminded me of all my past trips and that I actually used to snowboard a ton. I was so stoked to be back at it and maybe even went a little "too gnar" at times? For example, I stayed true to being a total tri geek by wearing my Garmin and got to find out some cool stats -- like how we got up to ~32 mph going down some runs. That's fast. But I wonder how fast it is compared to really fast boarders? I can say, though, we were in control and not being stupid. Oh yea, side note, we DID wear helmets. No question about that! And turns out I have a big noggin? John and I wore the same size helmet! I knew my noggin was big, but, man! haha.
Big noggin crew.

In love with this mountain.

Oh yea, we also "laid out" in the snow haha.
Four pairs of socks. Toes still froze.
The two days we boarded couldn't have been any different, either. The first day we were there the conditions were ideal -- sunny, great snow, not too crowded. We boarded from opening to just before they closed, maaany hours. It was a jam-packed day! Then the second day a storm rolled in and it was insanity -- snowing like crazy, freezing, low visibility, windy -- yet full of pow pow and fresh tracks mmmm. We still put in close to a full day minus the frequent stops to go thaw out. Eventually  my hands were so jacked that I had to have others have to help thaw me out by rubbing my hands. It was sheer pain.

Going for the alien look on day 2.
Fresh pow pow.
It got really snowy.
Then just like that I was in LA for Endurance Live, which was a blast. It drew a fun crowd of people I usually only get to see at the races and related events. Of course, our Endurance Planet crew had a killer time sitting together and hanging out too.

Luxurious LA hotel living.
I see it as "glass half full" aka multitasking at its finest!
Wondering around not really knowing where the party's at.
My Endurance Planet main men -- Ben & Lucho!

Lucho gets star struck in LA.

I get star struck too :) 

And now, back home! Whew, thank goodness!!!! I'm realizing February will end up being a not-so-great month of training due to all the randomness that went down, but that's life. I plan on gettin busy now through most of March leading up to Oceanside. In fact, today I am expecting a little surprise to arrive that starts with an S and ends with a V.

That said, I literally just got the text that it's on its way home!!! Yee hawww!!!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Traffic, Beers, Video Podcast, Running....

Sitting in my hotel in downtown LA finishing up a new podcast that's uploading.... So, yesterday I had a 3pm meeting off Sunset in West Hollywood. After that, the plan was to drive to downtown LA to my hotel for the weekend, only ~10 miles away. Ha! On a Friday at 4pm? Easily took more than an hour to drive that far! Insanity. I don't mind that situation every once in a while, but if I had to live that every day like many people do? I'd die.

But anyway, my goal was not to rant about traffic here. I'm now here in LA, only hours before Endurance Live tonight and am loving this weekend already! Last night I met Lucho for the first time in person after now knowing him and talking to him weekly since October 2011. Pretty weird and crazy! It was good times to see him live. Mostly, because he showed up with a couple nice, hoppy IPAs in hand after my shitty drive haha (Lagunitas Hop Stoopid and a Stone IPA, the latter which I didn't think he liked after a recent chat about beer on our podcast, but whatever I love it). Then he proceeded to teach me how to open the beers with a bike cleat. Ahhh, lessons from coach. I proceeded to cause a foamy explosion of beer in doing so. Oops.
The beers, after.

Then this morning we ran 10 miles together through Santa Monica and Venice, and it was a blast! I hate running on concrete but made an exception this time, and it was worth it. It was one of those runs where 10 miles went by in what felt like 2 seconds, and then you're done and you look back and realize you were chatting it up the whole time, still holding a decent pace...

Now, let's just hope I have enough energy to keep me going until well after midnight tonight at the Endurance Live Awards, which is, of course, the reason that we're even congregating here in LA. My grandma-ish 9pm bedtime ain't cuttin it tonight!

Also, if you are around between 6-7pm PST tonight, head to enduranceplanet.com to catch a live video podcast with our crew from Endurance Live. Should be some random entertainment for your evening :)

And on that note, the podcast is loaded and up, a new Ask the Coaches. Get it here. Peace out!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Coach Tawnee Cycling and Tri Kits

Just a quick note to direct you guys over to my other blog at coachtawnee.com, to check out the brand-new custom Coach Tawnee cycling and triathlon kits designed by Kristin Mayer of Betty Designs and produced by Hincape. Check out the look, let me know what you think and get in touch ASAP to order yours now!!!

Click here to link to the blog with all the info and pics!

Thanks for your support!

PS - I'm back from Mammoth and it was a blast! I will definitely write more about it when I get some time. But in the meantime, I am scrambling to catch up on work, unpack and repack for LA this weekend -- that's right, it's time for the Endurance Live Awards and the Endurance Planet crew is going to rock the house! :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mammoth & Detours...

Tomorrow I am taking a trip to Mammoth. In retrospect, I'm probably a little too busy right now to sneak away for a trip like this, but at the same time I also probably need it. We've been going a million miles an hour it seems...

I am stoked to head to Mammoth specifically! It is one of my favorite places on the planet. And I have literally not been snowboarding since BEFORE I started triathlon (aka sometime prior to 2007)! That is insane to me! I used to love snowboarding and was actually pretty darn good if I do say so myself, but I gave it up when triathlon took over -- I started putting my money toward races rather than lift tickets, and investing my time into SBR not the slopes.
Me. This is one of my all-time favorite pictures, from one of my all-time favorite days at Mammoth! Early 2000s I think?
The funny thing is, I'll be wearing that same outfit this weekend. 

There is another reason why I am taking the opportunity to go to Mammoth, too; a very "scientific" one haha. It will be my first chance this year to get a taste of altitude exposure. That matters because this sea-level-livin' girl will be doing Ironman at over 6,000ft this September and that ain't something to just brush off. I'm having flashbacks of environmental exercise physiology in grad school in which I learned all the physiological ramifications of exercise/racing at altitude for someone not acclimatized. In addition to snowboarding, I do plan on getting in some training too. Should be interesting!

I do know that come September I will not have the luxury of going to Tahoe at least two weeks before IM, which would be ideal for acclimatization. One reason for that is a little prior engagement I have in Vegas ;) So it will be good to see how I do with acute exposure this weekend.


And now for the "detour" part of the post...

As of this past week, life presented an interesting opportunity that will have me on a slightly different path than I expected this year. It's one of those situations where I feel like I need to go for it and take advantage now while I can, so when I look back there will be no regrets.

I got signed with a sports modeling agency in LA. Modeling is something I never really expected to do at this level, but it's grown into that, and I enjoy the work. The gigs are fun. Especially when you work with great photographers (like John Segesta, who I was just with yesterday shooting in SD for a clothing company) and for great brands/companies. Plus I like the vibe of the sports modeling world. It is a healthy environment, and you never see waif-like undernourished models around. Heck no! They want strong, healthy, solid bodies that can perform. I like the message that sends. Being that it's always action-based, I think in some cases I could justify logging training hours from what they have me doing ;)

It's not all smooth sailin, though. Signing with the agency means I'll be taking on a large amount of driving again. Back and forth to LA and SD on a very regular basis. Yesterday I think I spent 4 hours total in my car. Usually you're on the road at the hours you don't want to be (although, I guess that is any time in LA). And there's also no doubt that I will have to make some sacrifices with training at times, which will be tough. But modeling won't be a daily thing, and I'll just have to be on top of scheduling and getting creative with training. Heck, I already did just that this past week... I had a meeting at the agency, and John came with. We took the bikes and got in a nice ride after. Not to mention, we made a pit stop at the Bonk Breaker headquarters to chill for a bit!

Pit stop on our ride to enjoy a Bonk Breaker and the scenery. 

With my babe on the Malibu Pier.

So we shall see! Should be an interesting year. For now, it's time to swim, run, bike, pack, make rice cakes, then wake up bright and early for some road trippin up the 395!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What I Love: Single Leg RDLs & Overhead Squats with a Band

Ahhh Valentine's Day. Pretty much a silly holiday if you ask me. But I guess you can have fun with it! I had fun writing a guest blog over at 110% Play Harder that's pretty much "the dirty scoop" on dating and living with another athlete :) Read it here. Did I get it right, ya think? 

I think one of the best ways to approach V-Day is to be selfish, and by that I mean do something "loving" for yourself and for your health! Below are a couple exercises I love right now to get the ball rolling with that; you don't even need a gym. They are dynamic and involve the entire body, but namely they involve areas that are usually weak on endurance athletes like hips/glutes. They are also great for stability throughout the body and at major joints, flexibility, mobility, and so on. Of course, they also hone in on weaknesses and/or strengths and build dynamic strength/power...

Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts
Anything that puts you on one leg is something of which I'm a fan. The Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift (SL RDL) is great because it focuses on the hips and posterior strength, namely in the glutes and hammys. It's also got a full-body component that combines core, upper back and shoulders, which act as stabilizers to maintain good posture and form throughout the motion of lowering down and coming back up. The non-planted leg gets worked too, posteriorly, as you'll see in the T-shape you form.

Personally, I see this movement to be easier for most people than a *true* single-leg squat done in good form. Single-leg squats, done well, are very tough; I usually use my TRX or something to allow me to go super low and maintain proper form (i.e. knee behind toe, butt back)

Note: There is a difference between the SL RDL and regular single-leg deadlifts. For a good visual resource to watch the difference between the two, click here.

How to do a SL RDL:
Hold two DBs at your side (or hold a barbell arms extended, hands at side) and lower them toward the floor by bending at waist and lowering chest while lifting non-planted leg. Keep back straight/spine neutral. A slight bend in the knee of the planted leg is OK. The lifted leg remains fully extended at knee and hip, and forms a straight line to the shoulder as you go down. Come up by driving power through the planted leg and contracting glutes/hammys. Lower the lifted leg back down, maintain good posture from core up. Repeat. *Note* You can also do these without weight and they are effective as well! I usually do weightless ones during warmups.

Some key points:
-Keep DBs or barbell close to body so they trace thighs/shins as you move down
-Upper body and rear lifted leg move in unison (this is the #1 mistake I see -- a lazy rear leg. The body should form a straight line from shoulder to ankle as you lower and come back up)
-Keep flat back and don't round shoulders or let weights drag you down
-Watch the knee to see if it is tracking correctly; you don't want it turning inward or outward at any extreme
-Go down only as far as the hamstring in the planted leg will allow; don't force it and don't feel like you have to touch the ground
-Light/moderate weight is usually enough. You can add more only if form sticks. Don't go so heavy that you compromise form.

The picture below of me is actually a regular SL DL and not so much a SL RDL. The differences are subtle, but there are differences! You can get the general idea from the pic. Also check out that link above, good video demonstrations.

Overhead Squats w/ Band
No matter how you slice it, these are tough, but super effective! Mostly, you'll see that it's harder to go as deep with o'head squats in good form. It is yet another excellent dynamic exercise that hones in on the posterior chain -- low back, glutes, hammys -- as well as quads, hips, etc.... with extra bonuses with the overhead component:
-Core strength and stability.This is more dynamic and functional than other core exercises that have you on the floor, for example. And good integrity of the low back is a key focus here (that said, proceed with caution).
-Shoulder health. The movement works on shoulder flexibility, mobility and strength. This can greatly benefit the swim in a couple ways. One, it strengthens muscles that stabilize the shoulder. Second, it can enhance ROM/flexibility that allows you to extend and lengthen arms farther; this can be a big plus for swimming.
-The Kinetic chain. This exercise tests all the major parts and if one isn't functioning properly, others will suffer. What happens in the hips affects the shoulders, vice vesa, and beyond. If there is a problem in an area, it's a great way to address what work is needed overall!

You can do these with a dowel (wooden, pvc), barbell, DBs, resistance band or simply arms o'head/no weight. I personally love the resistance band variation of these because there's added resistance through every aspect of movement and arguably an increased need to stabilize at the core and shoulders to prevent band from pulling forward.

Note: full-body warm up recommended before this exercise, including shoulder dislocates with a dowel and hip flexibility work.

How to do the O'head Squat w/ Band:
Step inside the band with feet wider than shoulder width. Grab the band on both sides and extend arms overhead, so essentially you'r putting yourself in a box. Make sure band is directly above the head and grip is fairly wide; definitely wider than shoulder width, arms thrust behind ears. Lower down by bending at the hips and leading the butt back. Get thighs as close to parallel to the ground as possible, deeper if you can maintain proper form. Keep weight distribution on heels mostly, and some mid-foot (but not toes). As you lift, drive up through hammys, glutes, quads mainly. Open hips (extend) forcefully as you complete the movement before starting another rep.

Some key points:
-Arms should remain perpendicular to the ground and above the ankles, not in front, nor too far behind...
-don't hyper-extend the shoulders (this can happen when chest falls forward too much and hips are tight)
-Knees behind toes. Knees behind toes. Knees behind toes. (only do a quarter squat if you can't stick to this rule)
-Weight more on heels, and do not come up onto your toes at any point
-Don't let knees cave in
-Chest up, back flat.
-This exercise is more about a healthy range of motion/good form and not about heavy weight!

Below you can see me suffering through a rep of this exercise as I was doing it for a photo shoot that was in a local magazine. Keeping a smile on my face for this was tough ;)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

2013 Season Announcements

Whew! Quick announcement of some exciting stuff going on this year with ambassadorships and sponsorship. I have the opportunity to work with some really great people, and use some of the best products that exist in our industry.... I couldn't be more thrilled!

I fell in love back in Kona, remember? Well, our worlds collided at the right time. Specialized is launching a new maven program with amateur athletes for 2013, which I'll be a part of this year -- in fact, I think I am the only one signed on for now. I will be doing some fun work with the team this year, and of course I will be riding a Shiv in all my races. (I am drooling just writing that -- I couldn't be more stoked. The bike is like butt-ah.) I am due to get my new ride in the next week or so. Expect bike porn. 

110% Play Harder Compression
I love my compression! It's no secret that I've been a total compression nerd in the past (stemming from grad school days), so I am very excited to be a a Play Maker this year. 110% Play Harder puts out some amazing socks, which I definitely tried and tested even before I got on board with the team. Plus, the way they incorporate the sleeve and ice packs so you can bang out your compression-wearing and icing all in one? Just genius.

If you haven't tried the 110% Play Harder compression yet, go check it out and get some now. You can "use me" for a sweet discount, too. Enter the code: 110CoachTawnee at checkout for 10% off your purchase and FREE shipping. Heck ya!

Skratch Labs
This year I'll officially be representing my sports drink of choice, Skratch. Teaming up with Skratch and the crew just feels right. I've been using the drink for years -- back when it was still "Secret Drink Mix" and sold on the black market (just kidding) -- and I am a big fan of the company and their grassroots style. Most importantly, the drink works for me with my racing (after trying so many things that did not work). And it works for my athletes too -- all of whom are Skratch users. Plus, Allen Lim is a good friend of mine, and I know he knows his food, so beyond just the drink I am stoked to have resources like the Feed Zone Cookbook at my fingertips, as well as turn people on to the amazing recipes that are offered from Allen and Chef Biju. If you have yet to try Skratch and/or you're curious about some Feed Zone recipes, please leave me a comment and let's chat more!

Bonk Breakers
Yea, these are some quality bars, but it does mean I'll now have to work more closely with Mac and Aaron... ohhh maaannnn geezzz. Haha, just kidding. I love the guys at Bonk Breakers and, again, teaming up with them just feels right. I've been friends with many of them for a long time now, and I love the product. I am obviously a big nutrition nerd, and the ingredients in BB bars get the a-ok seal of approval from me (i.e. they are organic, non-GMO, soy-free, GF, etc)! I've tried all varieties at this point (that's what happens when you spend a day working at their booth at an expo), and I love them all -- especially the ones with chia. I also use these bars in my training and racing, on the bike mostly, in conjunction with Skratch. It's the perfect match of quality nutrition.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

More on Fermenting, Kombucha and My Favorite Sweets

I started writing this blog super early yesterday, but then I got distracted by an early swim that I had to do in order to get on my podcast call with Lucho in time, followed by a bike with half-ironman efforts, t-run, then work...
Post-swim just after sunrise.
Fast forward to the afternoon, and about ~3 1/2 hours of training later...

"That bike and run were hard, this looks like a good place to lay for a while..."
...you get the point ;)

So remember my fermenting project? The sauerkraut worked out great, and in fact we've already gone through nearly 2 jars! We definitely preferred the kraut that was made with whey over the one made with just salt (too salty). The only thing that I'll change next batch is adding caraway seeds. I will not add them. They give an overpowering flavor that we weren't too keen on -- they're the seeds in rye bread apparently, and it gave an odd, not bad, flavor.
The homemade sauerkraut being enjoyed with sausages!

To put my sauerkraut to the test, I bought, for this one time, a fancy "real" sauerkraut to do a taste test. I had no idea what "real" sauerkraut is supposed to taste like -- I grew up on the fake crap like most others out there! Conclusion: My homemade kraut was equally good and very comparable in flavor. Score. Bring on the sausages (that is, organic, antibiotic free, free-range chicken sausage of course haha).

Now, on the other hand, my kombucha project was a complete FAIL. Where are my kombucha-growing experts? Need your input on this one: I was trying to grow a scoby and did everything exactly as I should after reading many instructionals online.... but nothing was happening. Then something did start happening: MOLD. Or at least I think it's mold. Care to diagnose? Check it out:
Not normal, right? Mold?

Perhaps some scoby action in there, but also some sketchy action.

One more: This is the same batch at a different time of day so different lighting,
and it doesn't look as bad (maybe that's the scoby on the bottom left),
but you can still see the weird floaty growths.
After doing some research I think that the room it's been in (my office) gets super cold this time of year at night. We've gone through some "extreme" cold spells here in ol' So Cal, and we live in an older apartment building where the insulation ain't that great so it gets just as cold inside as outside at times. I can't keep the heaters running 24/7 (dude, I've already doubled our electricity bill this past month by just occasionally using the heaters). So, yea, fail on the kombucha. I may wait until spring to try again so it can grow in a more stable climate. Unless anyone out there has a scoby they want to send my way ;)

My new project in the kitchen is going to be making some homemade bars for snacks and pre/post training fuel. I'll try to re-create the CocoChia Bars made by Living Fuel because those things are amazing, and they're so popular that they're often out of stock.


Ya know what else is amazing? Here are a few desserty things to satisfy that sweet tooth and not feel guilty about:

First, Hail Mary Macaroons and Tarts. Like heaven! And totally quality ingredients! My friend (who's a foodie and recently turned vegan superstar mom) introduced these to me. I just wish they weren't so darn expensive! Either they need to sponsor me or I need to learn how to re-create these things too! In fact, I did find a recipe for the macaroons here, and it doesn't seem too complicated!

Second, Earth Cafe Cheesecakes. These are another scrumptious treat that are arguably even "healthier" because they soak the nuts they use and they use more of a variety of nuts and ingredients (not sure if Hail Mary uses soaked almonds in their a-flour). The downfall on Earth Cafe Cheesecakes is, again, price as one slice runs ya $5.99. But with the dense caloric content and quality ingredients, I can justify buying one (or two like last night) every once and a while! I like a decadent dessert every now and then that I can feel good about eating. I'm sure if I went to a restaurant for a slice o' pie I'd have to pay a similar price for way shittier quality, no thanks.

Check out their ingredient label/nutrition facts, solid:

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Surprise Race!

I got the opportunity a few days ago to run a local half-marathon this weekend, so what the hell? At first I was like, "heck no, no way, that's just dumb. I'll I've done since training again is base work and I don't even think my Garmin has seen more than a few minutes at a sub-8 pace." But I also had my first longer tempo run on tap for this week, so it seemed like more fun to do that in the form of a half-mary than all alone. I think this goes for anyone: that entering a race can be a good way to approach a tougher training day -- as long as you have the right perspective and don't get in over your head with pacing and all that.

This day was also important to me in another way: It was one year ago today that a sorta "blew" my knee on a long run last year, leading me to 2 months of NO running. That happened last Super Bowl Sunday. A lot has changed since then. This year my body is much more solid, strong and handling the training miles very well. Even though this half-mary was totally last minute, I felt confident that doing it would not put me at risk for injury.

That said, I wasn't even thinking of specific goal times or doing anything crazy. Just wanted to put in some harder, faster miles again and see how the body handled it. If I had any goal, it was to hold sub-8 miles for the whole thing, as well as not get in over my head and think that I'd bust out 7:00-7:10s for the whole race. And to put myself to the test even more, I did a good amount of riding the two days before the race. Gotta love a hard run on tired legs.

I also love a 5am race-morning wakeup, and meeting up with good friends. I rode up with my buds from my gym, the head trainer and physical therapist, and we sat around a nearby hotel lobby  for a good hour-plus just waiting for the start. In that time, I managed to set up a nice lady's Garmin for her, have a talk with a chiro about compression socks (was sportin my 110% Play Harder socks, holla!), spot Hillary Biscay and Maik Twelsik wondering through the lobby, and learn that my friends' nutrition strategy included a shot of Red Bull/5hr Energy at ~mile 10 -- um, yuck! All that before 7am. Nice.

The half itself went well and was a blast. I felt solid, and running felt fluid. Nutritionally, I stuck to one bottle of Skratch (pineapples -- my new fav!) and had some banana on the course. For pacing, since it was somewhat of a question mark, I made an effort to push myself but also stay relaxed and keep HR in a reasonable range (160s). That equated to mostly a 7:30ish pace +/- a few seconds. Honestly, better than I expected. By around mile 10ish I realized a sub-1:40 was totally doable if I kicked it up a notch, so I laid down the hammer. My last few miles ended up being my fastest of the race, and I finished in 1:39:25. I was stoked to be able to finish strong -- and to be in control to do so rather than feeling like I was just holding on for survival.

I'm really looking forward to incorporating more speed work and intensity again, and getting back into "PR" shape. Fired up!

In other news, my mom ran a trail 10k today and got 1st AG and top-5 overall. She rocks.