Tuesday, December 10, 2013


At the races. John chowing on a Bonk Breaker
at around sunrise. Thanks to my friends at
 Bonk Breaker for providing their team with
some quality fuel for the weekend! They
needed it and loved the bars! I also gave John
some Skratch for when he drove, he
loves it! Word on  the street is that race car
drivers all over are lovin the Skratch! ;)
This blog is too all over the place to think of a fun title. Everything from Turkey Trot and wine, to John's 25-hour car race, to experimenting with caffeine, and even being on another podcast.... just roll with it :)

So let's see, where was I last? It had been a good weekend with painting, baking and all that jazz. I'll pick up on the week of Thanksgiving. I decided to make a couple dishes to contribute to our get-together, and I also decided to drink wine liberally. The food I made was superb and easily demolished. First was a simple roasted Brussels Sprouts dish because rarely can you ever find something that's just green at a T-day spread.

Also, on a whim, I concocted a GF Squash Stuffing with Sausage. Sorry, no pics or real recipe, but heck it was a hit and I got compliments all night, which is funny because this was one of those "Tawnee creations" that I only decided to do a couple hours before we left and basically just used what I had on hand: butternut squash, carnival squash, chopped organic chicken Italian sausage, onion, pepper, and lots of fresh herbs, including basil picked from my dear neighbor's plant tower thing. Just mash all that together! I'm trying to remember what else was in it because I've been asked to re-create for Christmas.

Having fun in the Turkey Trot. I actually took this for my
athlete who had just texted me that he got a PR in the 5k!
Wanted to send him a big smile :)
Besides cooking, I ran the Turkey Trot for the millionth time (or so it felt like), but for the first time ever I did it totally out of shape and ran at strict MAF as a loose test to see where my MAF pace is at. Held it at HR 150-155ish (not training consistently so keeping it strictly 180-age); it got a bit higher a few times near the end, but I never let it sit above 157ish. For the 10k I ran a 8:13 average on a pancake flat course, and it felt like the longest run ever, haha! Amazing how quickly you lose that endurance not only physically, but mentally! We then did the 5k and I forget my average but I was def slower and I was hobbling -- sore already. By the time we did the kids' run after that I was 100 percent content with a 10:00+ mile pace! Haha.

I drank a lot of wine later that day with family and friends, not to mention a good amount the evening prior (yea, that Turkey Trot was done slightly hungover, oops), and paid for it dearly. I haven't been drinking much at all, and to have that much alcohol for couple days straight? Ouch. It sucked and turned me off to alcohol even more -- just can't hang like I used to! Honestly? I don't even care. I much prefer a little "half glass" of wine while cooking and that's about it. And although I've retired from beer, occasionally I've tried sips of John's fancy beers -- like Stone's Crime and Punishment (spicy beers, which I used to love), but they re-did the recipe and they were so gross I almost spit each out. In fact, John didn't really like one of them either (they were weird and uncomfortably spicy!), so it wasn't just me hatin' on them. Regardless, I have truly lost my "beer palate" though, it's funny.
No food pics from T-day, but how 'bout this? Me on a one-of-a-kind
motorcycle designed and made by my grandpa, The Alligator!
Anyway, the next week something happened that never happens. I got sick. But it only lasted for about a day and a half. I never ever get sick so I forget how to truly recognize the signs, and in this case by Wednesday morning I felt like death! John was sick right before I was, so there's the culprit. Interestingly, my HRV was total shit too even before I diagnosed myself as being sick, which at first had me perplexed being that there was seemingly no reason for it to be bad. I tried bikram one evening during the spell, and I literally almost passed out and wanted to leave -- the whole idea of "sweat it out" was not wise, at all. Haha. I had to get well soon because I was leaving for NorCal to watch/help/support John and his race team in their 25-hour endurance car race in BFE hill country (aka the 25 Hours of Thunderhill in Willows, Calif.). Thankfully, I was fine by the time I flew up Friday -- I am good at overcoming a sickness asap.

Willows is over an hour north of Sacramento, and it has a personal soft spot in my heart. In 2011, it was there and that weekend when I officially started getting coached by Lucho, and I remember running three days in a row, each day going longer, and absolutely loving the workouts and the setting. Last year, same thing. But this year I had to approach it differently. No runs, and actually a commitment to NO physical activity of any kind for 3 days outside of washing dishes and walking up a hill to view the race. Up there being sedentary is hard because there's not much else to do, and Internet is spotty (not even worth bothering). Plus for the whole weekend I only really see/talk with John for like 15 minutes total (busy boy!), so you gotta just find ways to keep occupied. I always help with team food prep, but that is a small portion of the day. A lot of time hanging out with peeps, and reading. It was also freaking cold as shit -- like low 20s even in the day -- so another goal of the weekend was staying warm! Haha.

Speaking of food at the race track, I brought all my own food for the time I was up there because I, quite frankly, won't eat what is being served to the team. It's the complete opposite of how I eat and there's no way I'm about to dig in to all that -- aka things like traditional french toast, sandwiches on Hawaiian roles, store-bought potato salad, spaghetti, WalMart meat... you get the idea. The hospitality director, herself, is conscious of clean eating, buying organic, and healthier choices (she and John have even made an effort to introduce a couple healthier meals like veggie/chicken/rice bowls), but this race team is on a budget and for the most part, buying the good shit just doesn't happen. And the guys aren't whining over that -- they like the traditional kind of meals, and for what they're doing out there with the race, being in that cold and awake for so long, it's not the best time to introduce new fueling concepts, I get it. It was at least great to have some Bonk Breakers on hand, though, thanks to my friends at BB who sent the team a few boxes!

As for me, then? Well, most the team knows by now about my healthy habits (ain't my first time at the track!), but it's still frustrating when I get the questions of "what are you eating" and "why aren't you eating this" blah blah... as I sit there with my avocado and sardine mash, or broccoli and chicken dish. I never ever want to give off the vibe that "I'm better than that food being served," but I think that inevitably happens, which makes me sad. I eat a certain way that makes me feel good and keeps me healthy. If others choose to eat the other way? Well, I'd love to introduce them to healthier concepts and get on board with me, but quite frankly it's like pulling teeth so I don't even bother. Anyway, this is the sorta thing where I'd love to change the world and love to change peoples' taste buds, but... well...

Morning walk in Willows trying to get warm,
 since I wasn't drinking coffee. As you can see,
 it was clearly dang cold hehe. #layers
One more thing on "consumption" over the weekend. I decided to do a little test and not drink coffee to see what I'd feel like. I had some Friday AM before my flight, but then nada Sat/Sun. Turns out it only takes me a day to get over the "addiction." On Saturday, I definitely had a headache from about noon on, despite being extremely well-hydrated, and I definitely felt the lack of that energizing caffeine buzz. But by Sunday? Totally fine. No headache, and good energy without the caffeine. That's good to know.... By Monday, however, I was happy to brew some good quality coffee back a home especially during chilly winter!

Ok, so the weekend wasn't all about me or the food! Haha! The racing went well! A brief history since I've been going to this race: In 2011 the guys won their class by a large margin, and ranked highly overall. It was awesome. Last year their engine blew at like midnight and we were out...Not awesome. Beers ensured that night, oh boy. So, this year it was time for redemption! They freaking killed it and got just that with a big fat WIN -- not only winning their class, but beating other classes as well (classes are based on power, aka how much money you have, and our team doesn't have the most power, because, well, that requires more money). Regardless of power, running a car for 25 hours straight is no joke and an incredible feat requiring teamwork and lots of skillzzzz. In a 25-hour span, our guys did 628 laps (just over 2:00 per lap), which is solid. Keep in mind during that there are plenty of yellow flags or having to stop for various accidents, and they probably could do even more laps sans cautions. I know that 628 means nothing to most of you, but it is really legit.
John getting ready to drive at like 2:30 am,
eating an orange for fuel.

There were five drivers trading spots throughout the race, and John drove several times, including odd hours (see pic at right) and at the most crucial time -- the end. My babe was the one who secured us the win -- it was getting close! We pulled into first place only a couple hours before the race was to end because the first-place team at that time had a mechanical that left them in the pits for a while allowing us to gain the lead. But that team recovered from their issue and was definitely on the prowl to catch us. But enter John (who later said he was driving better than he ever has an attributes much of that to triathlon training, strength work and whatnot) as the final driver and he held on to the lead, by seconds. We literally won by less than a minute when they crossed the finish line!!! So close!! The other team was making up time really fast, like oddly fast, and closing in on first but just didn't get it. Great for us. The real kicker, though? After the race was over, the officials were checking the cars (kind of like post-race drug tests) and that other team, who was first then dropped back and was on our heels in second, apparently cheated! They were underweight and over-powered and got DQ'd!!!! Big no no. No wonder they were going so much faster and making up time on us.. Not cool, man. not cool.

John "in the zone" before his last stint, the race-winning stint!

The team. It was not fun having to shed my million layers to take this photo - in the 20s - but worth it!

Poppin bottles to celebrate! Yea, that's a beer (La Fin Du Monde to be exact) and not champagne; all we had haha.

Anyway, I took a flight home Sunday night. It was worth the $150 vs. driving home all day Monday in a truck jam-packed with smelly boys. By the time my flight left that night (delayed, of course) I was so fried from lack of sleep and whatnot, that I didn't even have the brain cells to read or listen to a podcast or be productive, so I watched mindless TV for the first time in ages. Show of choice? Friends. It was awesome, and also scary how easily I remembered the episodes haha.

Oh yea, one more thing. With the three days of no activity I also closely monitored my HRV the entire time and it was the best it's ever been, consistently! High 80s and 90s the whole weekend, with stress in the blue zone every time (lowest possible). I guess my body likes just sitting around and not working ;) But alas, that is not the life I want. Well, I want the stellar HRV but not at the cost of being a bum. So the trick is now to find a way to get the best of both worlds.... I'm working on it.

Yesterday I came home and was so jonesing to do a run after being sedentary for so long... OMG, it felt amazing. Ran 7.5 miles at MAF and it was pure bliss. Listened to Zen and the Art of Triathlon while running, and I have to say, I'm becoming more of a fan of listening to podcasts on MAF runs, it's soothing and enjoyable! Plus, Brett is a really cool dude and I like his style, annnnd he started the first-ever triathlon podcast way back when, which is rad. I was actually the featured guest on a recent show of his, where he did a big ol' interview with me, basically on my story from being a kid to my career to racing and the season I had this year. If you care to listen, you can chime in here.

Anyway, that's all I got for now! Stay warm out there!

Running back at home. Love the sun and being by the sea :)

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