Thursday, June 27, 2013

Roughin It

If you recall, it was bachelorette party time this past weekend... in Yosemtime. I'm happy to report there were no male strippers and I didn't get eaten by a bear. Although, our campsite did get a warning for having too many tents on one site and leaving out wine bottles and not putting them in the bear box because apparently bears enjoy wine these days too. I don't blame the bears, it's a hard livin and they enjoy a good drink ;)

Yosemite was a blast, but too short. Apparently I was sleeping the whole time...
Chillin at the top, nearly 4k ft of elevation later in just ~4 miles.
I was seriously konked out here. It was pure bliss.

It's best to sum up this adventure with more photos. More writing next time.
The beautiful and amazing bride-to-be who I met 4 years ago during the
bike at Vineman 70.3. So grateful to have this girl in my life. Seriously,
who does this for a bachelorette?!

How we welcomed the first day. Chill time with beers in the creek by our site. Does it get more peaceful?
I'll fight LA traffic for a little of this...

Fresh yerba mate, no coffee, for the weekend.

Setting up a sturdy camp. I actually did more help on the food organizing/prep side than the tent-building side. Shocking.

No token Vegas shot for us.

And the big hike begins... Really, how friggin funny is Sara in her veil?!

This girl, Mollie, is one badass lady. Her family owns a 4300-acre ranch where they raise
grass-fed cattle among other things, and she brought us some meat for dinner one night.
It was killer as you can imagine.
She was also the only one girl held on to my "Type A triathlete" hiking pace that basically
entailed getting to the top as fast as possible. We owned it!

I was with some real yogis. Seriously.

No complaints. Nevada Falls. Coming down.


Staying warm by the fire. Sharing stories. Making Memories.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Big Days to Make Up for Blah Days

A little bit of an update, a little bit of a ramble, a little bit of some training stats and post-workout eats. Bear with me... my mind is in multitask mode!
This helps me realize that I can't get too stressed or pissed about training.
I had to look back on past blogs to see what the latest news was that I had shared on my training. I didn't do a couple of the races I wanted to -- that Olympic tri nor SD RnR -- but it was for the best. There was a lot more going on than just my wrist for a handful of weeks recently and I was struggling to just get in anything that I would consider legit training. Quite frankly training was sucking and wasn't happening like it needed to be, and I had more days off/crappy days than ever. I was busy, I was tired, I was stressed, and I was getting pissy for feeling like a bad athlete, blah blah. Thankfully Lucho and I came up with a plan to lay low on posting structured workouts and let my body and my schedule dictate what the day's workout(s) would be, without feeling so committed to something so detailed -- sometimes it can be quite stressful to have a workout posted and you're scrambling to figure out how the hell it's gonna happen, and letting go and going with the flow may be the better option. Lucho is without a doubt still coaching me, but we've been mixing it up a bit and trying new things.

One plus is that I am OUT of the wrist brace and training like normal. There are still some things I can't do -- like push myself up on the pool deck to get out -- but overall I am able to go on like normal.

So that said, lately, I've been trying to get in some bigger days to complement those days that are so demanding that it's hard to get in a quality workout, if anything. What I'll do is work like crazy (even doing extra) on my busy days and get really ahead. Then I have a day that's mostly dedicated to training, and I load it up: swim, bike, run, everything! Thankfully working for myself I can put in 10-15 hour work days to make the big training day possible. Hell, I'm already into a 13-hour day today so far and still going!

The first time I tried this it went great and I loved it. I found myself wanting to to all the training rather than feeling like my mind was only half involved because I knew I had to be somewhere at 3pm or whatever. Normally sandwiching in workouts between calls, meetings, etc, and it's near impossible to do a long run off the bike for example... I'm sure you can relate. The goal is to still be consistent and not go days without training or anything like that, nor do the mega days needs to happen 24/7. But right now this is a good strategy for me mentally. It makes me feel more organized, and we all know a Type A thrives off that.

Father's Day fun. One real dad.
And one "adopted" dad.
This week John got on board and we took the "big day" strategy to the next level with IM Tahoe in mind. On Monday, he and I road tripped to Big Bear Lake for the day to swim-bike-run (John is self-employed thank god). We took our time in the morning and made the ~2hr drive at ease, no rush (we hosted a big Father's Day party the day prior, yikes). Big Bear was our first taste of training in altitude in prep for Tahoe, and it just so happens Big Bear is about the same elevation -- the lake sits at just over 6,700 ft and the roads for riding go up to 8,600 ft.

So how was it being up high? Surprisingly, the best for me was the swim. I felt great in the water and had no trouble breathing and moving along. Granted, I was not swimming at lightning speed, but do I ever? Haha. I swam more than a mile as long nonstop sets, enough to figure out if it felt like breathing through a straw, and it didn't.
Resarched a cool little place to start our swim called China Island. Right off the 18 when you get to the lake. Very pretty and a great starting place!
You have to hike down a little trail to get to the swim spot.
Me being happy with a good swim. What a relief!

Onto the bike, and we did a cool route that was recommended to me by Ryan Denner, which I later found out is a popular ride -- around the lake + climbing to Onyx Summit. The climb is like 6-8 miles or something (can't remember off the top my head) and the grade isn't too crazy at all, like around a 4-5% average. However, getting to 7500ft...8000ft...etc... I started to feel it. I was a lot weaker than doing the same kind of thing at sea level (or maybe it was the beers the day prior?). It wasn't a disaster but it got me a little nervous.
Getting to the summit. I always love when
the little blue dot is in the middle of nowhere.
We then did a short t-run and that just felt like butt. Mentally I was a little discouraged thinking about running a marathon feeling like that, especially since I can't say that my marathon skills are that well-developed at all! But it is what it is, and next time we go up I'm sure I'll learn more and be better off (the mind is a powerful thing), not to mention I'll avoid hosting a party the day prior ;)
Finishing the ride.... then fast foward to recovery mode with 110 Compression for the drive home! These two things (my Skratch kit and 110 socks) are quite possible my fav's. #obsessed
No trip for us is without a stop at the local brewery in town!
Beers were good, not great. Too mellow for my taste. But a post-workout
beer really can't be that bad ;)

The good news is, I recovered from Monday's adventure quickly (just a 50' run Tuesday, some strength then otherwise at my desk slammed with work) and I was motivated to get in another big day Wednesday because Thur-Sun are screwed as far as any quality training goes (why later). Wednesday. Ahhh. Loved it. It was the best long day I've had in a looong time. Logged in more than 5 hours of consecutive swim, bike run and I didn't die or poop out! Yippee!

It started later (due to work) at ~10:55am with a solid 2,200 swim in a pool I usually don't go to. This pool had to be close to 90 degrees and it was under a hot sun; it was torture! But I just kept thinking, "Vegas training, Vegas training." I felt shakey after that swim though...

Then 60 miles of riding with lots of hills, many of them offering some steep grades. Not the fastest ride ever but watts were there (170-180w overall average, and avg's of 220-230+ w on all the big hills that were 5+ minutes). The one thing that stood out to me (besides the summer heat) was the realization that I don't think I'll ever get sick of Apple Pie Bonk Breakers. I look forward to and crave that particular one all the time haha.

Last but not least a run, 8 miles at about a 7:40-8:00 pace throughout, HR comfortably in the 150s. It felt good to have a solid run in the midday heat at a sub-8 avg without blowing up the HR. I did run out of calories/drink toward the end and wished I had more, but I think I had gotten in close to 700 or more throughout this workout, so I felt a little bonky but not too bad.

I had one request that night for dinner: STEAK. I'm trying to eat red meat 2-3x a week nowadays. I actually just got a full blood test and my iron/ferritin levels are the best they've ever been for me and I'm nowhere near anemic (never had been anemic), but plentiful quality red meat is beneficial in many other ways other than providing iron, so I served that steak with a yummy one-dish concoction of Brussels sprouts, onion, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, spinach, mushrooms and parsley with just some salt and pepper in a creamy sauce of goat yogurt/mushroom soup. I had some requests for the recipe -- well, there it is haha. I didn't measure anything. I just chopped up what we had and threw it in a big pan and let it all cook and the soup soak in, added the goat yogurt at the very end. Usual hodgepodge sorta thing for me.
The meal. Round 1. Had about 2-3 servings on the plate before I just started eating from the bowls/dishes everything was served in. What?
Now as to why I won't be doing any training until Monday again? It's all for a good reason. One of those "I am choosing significant life events that only happen once" deals. Today I've been working my boo-tay off because tomorrow I depart early for a one-of-a-kind bachelorette party in Yosemite! Yup, my very close friend Sara is getting hitched to an awesome dude, and in typical Sara fashion we are going to rough it to celebrate! I am sincerely excited to camp and get into gorgeous nature. If she had chosen Vegas I would have questioned her sanity... and me desire to even attend haha. Vegas once this year will be more than enough.

That's all for now!

Cheers to summer and long days of sunshine and warmth. I love this time of year xoxoxoxoooo

Friday, June 14, 2013

On My Radar: GF Cookies, Chia Gels, Running for Women

It's been a while since I did a little product review action. Recently I've had some cool things sent to me to try out, and I want to share with you! Also, quick note: check out my blog/newsletter to see a little bragging about some of my athletes who raced this past weekend... fun stuff!

Before I divulge into these reviews, I will say 2 of the 3 are food/sports nutrition products, and of course, you all know I am a big advocate of my beloved Skratch Labs and Bonk Breakers. Those two things are what I primarily use and love.... but as a coach and someone who's deeply involved in this endurance sports world, I find it fun, exciting and important to test out other products out there! The more knowledge I can gain on sports nutrition and the more I can experiment on myself, the better I can help guide and educate other athletes. So let's do this...

First off, cheers to Bonnie for running a small business operation with a wholesome and real product. I love supporting such endeavors, largely because I am so over big corporate food giants who manufacture "food" and make people believe they should eat it. Bonnie's cookies are everything us health nuts want in a cookie (without sacrificing taste): quality ingredients, gluten free, vegan, no refined sugars, no soy, and no dairy. She uses a combination of brown rice syrup, maple syrup, brown rice flour, oat flour, coconut, and peanuts as her main ingredients in most cookies, and some cookie varieties will have a special spin to them (like chocolate mint, cinnamon, or coconut almond).

I tried one of these bad boys on a long ride yesterday and I have to say I was impressed! Given the healthy ingredients and no preservatives, it tasted really delicious and true to the flavor. I had the cocoa cocoa, and it was VERY cocoa-y. While I loved it, it felt like I was in a "got milk" commercial, and that intense flavor probably wasn't the best choice for a hot, sweaty day. (But after riding? That's a different story...bring it on) The texture was chewy, like the chewy you want with a big glass of milk. Mmmm. Honestly, the cookie is not something I'd want if I were racing the bike at high intensities, but I will definitely incorporate these in training and as a post-race treat when the body is looking to replenish glycogen... 

Nutrition for coconut almond.
Nutrition: What I also really like is their BIG size. I would have expected to see them packing 500 calories with how large they are, but no! They run you 250-260 calories depending on the variety (looks like she has about six or so different kinds). Each cookie includes about 39g CHO, 11g fat, 7g fiber. Decent! Within those ingredients you are getting  some wholesome nutrition too. It's not a junky 250ish cals. If you visit her website, she breaks down the nutritional value of each ingredient.

If there's one downfall to these it's all the peanuts and peanut butter. Personally, I don't really do peanuts because they're a legume with "anti-nutrient" lectins, phytic acid and aflatoxins. And I'm assuming the peanuts are roasted and/or heated at high temps. (With other nuts, I make sure to only eat raw and soaked for the most part.) But, that said, I also am not an all-or-nothing eater. Peanuts here and there aren't going to kill you and ruin your nutrition in my opinion. Heck, even coconut has phytic acid! So, as with everything, moderation.

Bottom line: These cookies are tasty, healthy, not processed, and made by someone who cares and has a passion for quality food. I can support that :)
Stocked up for a while. Yum!

Also a company I like in that they seem like their a small operation doing this out of passion for
providing a quality product. Personally, I'll admit, I am pretty much off gels these days, but I've used them enough in hard runs where I can at least tolerate some brands and they don't seems to do much detriment. When I was contacted by Huma to try their gel, I was pretty excited. We've discussed gels with chia on the Endurance Planet podcast, but I had yet to try one. I really didn't know what to expect. 

Being totally clueless on how my gut would handle this new kind of gel, I decided to try one for the first time in the Portland rock n roll half marathon -- definitely a wise idea, right?! Nothin like sumthin new on race day. I tried Apple Cinnamon, and I gave John a Strawberry (the only two flavors).

I opened the gel sometime after the 60 min mark. I took a small slurp of the gel (always take 'em in small portions and with water) and definitely felt the chia seed clumps -- not in a bad way at all though; I liked the texture the chia gave. The flavor was very true to apple cinn, as well, and I loved that (heck, Apple Pie Bonk Breakers are my favorite). I pictured myself squirting this gel on top of a GF pancake as a delicious "syrup" (Yea, I'm weird like that). 

The only thing I didn't like as much is that the gel itself was a little thicker/stickier and harder to swallow than I would have liked, but they were tolerable and not as bad as some gels I've tried that are practically like chalk.

Unfortunately I dropped the gel at one point, but it was almost gone I think and I got in enough to get the gist... I had it during the half hour heading into a half-mary PR and I didn't barf. 

A look at the nutrition: Huma Chia gel has 20-21g CHO with 14-16g sugar that comes from fruit (apple puree or strawberry), brown rice syrup and evaporated cane sugar. The brown rice syrup provides complex carbs, maltose and glucose -- different than most gels. I would assume the complex carbs makes this absorb more slowly, but it's also high in glucose (the maltose is essentially 2 glucose molecules), and glucose increases blood sugar fast, and requires sufficient of water to make it an isotonic solution (same concentration/osmolarity as blood). You don't see a lot of brown rice syrup in gels, and I'm no expert on using it for exercise fueling. Anyone? That said, the evaporate cane sugar is glucose and fructose, and is less processed/refined allowing it to retain higher nutrition value. Personally, if I do gel, I usually look for one with maltodextrin (well-absorbed) and a thin consistency. 

Additionally Huma's chia seeds provide 1.5g fat and 895mg Omega-3 fatty acids. All you fat-lovers out there should appreciate that! Of course, chia has been shown to be a sustaining fuel for long endurance events. But intensity of exercise and the amount of chia play a role in that for sure (the amount of chia in this gel is rather small). There's also 100-110mg sodium and a bit of fiber.

Bottom line: I'll still limit my gel intake, but I didn't seem to have any issues with this gel and it tasted great and true to flavor. It wasn't too overly sweet nor too sugary tasting either (which I despise in gels).

I just received this book in the mail and CANNOT wait to dive into it! I had a chance to start browsing through it last night, and I'm already impressed. Jason and Carolyn are no joke; they know their stuff! The book is extremely well researched, informative and references a lot of current studies -- love that. I don't think there is another book on female runners quite like this. And even though it's running based in the title, it pretty much can apply to any female endurance athlete, triathlete of otherwise. Plus, while I love the heavy science/research-based side of it, the book is also very practical and reads well no matter who you are.

I can guarantee already that it's a book I'll be recommending to all you female athletes out there (and guys, too, so you can learn about us ladies)! You will learn something new and useful.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Recipe Time: Sweet Potato-Coconut Flour Biscuits (with Cheese)

Quick note on last weekend's plans to race. What do I say, it was a first, let me tell you! I didn't end up running the SD RnR half on Sunday. I made it to SD, but had to bail. Ughhh. It's kinda a long story. In a nutshell: I am ok; I  had something important come up last-minute, and I HAD to be somewhere soon after the race. I decided I'd be cutting it too close, and thus bailed to make my meeting. No biggie; that race wasn't even part of the original plan! And the short trip to SD wasn't a waste either -- I got in some quality time with The Rouses, and a nice evening at the new Stone Brewing restaurant in Liberty Station. Good food, and of course good beer (although, I just had one Ruination thinking I'd be running the next morning).

Anyway... speaking of good food...

I posted pictures of my latest creation in Instagram the other night and some folks said they wanted the details on these little morsels of yumminess...

This recipe is a typical creation of mine, in that I looked up a bunch of recipes for GF biscuits with intentions of using coconut flour as my base, and from my research this is what I created. They did not disappoint, and even made for great training snacks. In fact, as I ate the leftovers I thought that these are along the lines of something you'd even except to see in my new favorite recipe book: "Feed Zone Portables" by Allen Lim and Chef Biju Thomas. Have you seen this new book? It's absolutely incredible!!! It exceeded my expectations in recipe creativity, deliciousness, quality, you name it... Anyway, tangent...

Back to it.
The biscuits, hot out of the oven.

Here is the biscuit recipe with step-by-step photos... Enjoy!
Ingredients and directions

Shredding sweet potato old fashioned because I was missing a piece for the food processor.
John had to help me with this given my broken wrist situation.
In goes sweet potato shreds, coconut flour, eggs, baking powder, ginger and salt...
Oh yea, and melted coconut oil of course.
Mix, mix, mix...
Form, form, form...
After they're almost fully done baking sprinkle on cheese.
Did just half this time, next time I'll do all with cheese ;)


Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Wrist, What's New....Update time!

I have been hearing about more bike crashes recently than I ever have. What is going on out there? I am so sad to hear about the spills, but thankfully everyone who's been hurt lately is going to be ok. For the most part, every crash I've heard about has been leaps and bounds worse than mine. It really puts things in perspective. My thoughts are with all you guys who've been hurt...

So last report was that I ran Portland. I have another foodie blog in the works as "part 2" of that trip, and will be posting soon. No rush, right? Those awesome restaurants and breweries aren't going anywhere. In the meantime, a little update on my status with the wrist, training, etc...

First off, I am scheduled to race the third event in the LA Tri Series next weekend, an Olympic distance, and while I want to do it with all my heart, I am undecided at the moment.

They sent out an email recently with the overall men's and women's points standings in the championship series, and I am currently in second, only 2 min down from first. You can only imagine HOW MUCH that makes me want to race even more!!! Gahhhhh!!! But being smart in this situation is key. What would you do?!

So that's that. Training is good, not great like I'd want right now. I ended the month with 49hr training, my lowest all year so far. Obviously the wrist played a role in that. Swimming has been the toughest. I had my first back-to-it test swim about 1.5 weeks after the break and it was a disaster; I was awkward in the water, couldn't get a good catch/pull with the cast on, and basically sank. But then I tried again several days later with a much better outcome. I was able to manage the cast better and actually generate power with my R arm. This past week I swam 5 days in a row, shorter sessions of 1600-2000. It's been quite depressing to see how quickly I lose swim fitness, and unfortunately my workouts as of late aren't the best quality to get that fitness back, but I am just going into each session with a positive mind and doing what I can. 

Biking is going along... My Shiv is visibly sad to be stuck on the trainer so much ;) Volume isn't quite there but frequency is decent. Memorial Day I got ambitious and tried riding on the road with the cast. John was doing a 100-miler, and I was totally jealous. I knew I wouldn't be doing that volume, but I still wanted to get out there for a bit. Made it 32 miles, with 2x20' intervals in there. Pain set in around mile 20ish so I rode home and retired to the trainer for a long time, and for more intervals. 

Of course, I can run to full capacity, for which I'm so thankful! I've had running taken away from me before for injury or whatever, and it sucks. I don't mind missing swims (besides the fact that it makes me even worse), but when I can't run I get cranky.
View from a recent hilly trail run with my mom -- close to 2k elevation gain in the first ~6 miles! Fried my legs even
running it at MAF pace.

Made a new friend on the trails!

Then there is strength training, which I love and which is currently serving to replace/fill in what I'm missing in the pool and on the bike. Here's a "triathlete's broken wrist strength workout" I was able to do last week:

60 Scap push-ups - as 20 in plank position, 20 with forearms stacked inward on top of eachother and palms down, 20 with forearms inward and thumbs up (these made me sore)!
20 prone supermans
20 goblet squats holding ~20lb kettlebell (I could sustain that weight!)
60" battle rope variations - holy crap, how I was able to do these pain free, I don't know. We couldn't believe it! Probably the most swim specific exercise I was able to handle.
10 ea. reverse lunge on slide board
60" plank
....Total of 4 rounds.

Note: in that session we tried stretch cords to mimic that swim motion, but I was still struggling with that due to placement of the cord on the injured arm; couldn't have it at my wrist because that hurt, and put it near elbow, but that was awkward and not as quality. I could tell my lat wasn't effectively firing. But about a week later, I was able to lat pull downs with a rope on the cable machine, which I wasn't able to do that first time. Progress.

Other than that I've been very busy and stepping up the workload (like that non-training stuff you have to do to get by haha). I have full capacity to type, drive, talk, and even do a little modeling sans cast! But no matter how busy I get I make sure to schedule downtime to unwind and rest. For me that relax time usually involves cooking, reading, hanging out with friends/family, listening to music, sit on my patio, jumping in the ocean... Simple things just enough to recharge!

Some recent pics:
Modeling sess at Sunset Cliffs with John Segesta. Not the ideal sunset we wanted, but fun nonetheless.
Cooking is theraputic for me. Here I am trying a new concoction of beets, farmers market carrots, onions... later added Brussels sprouts and a secret sauce that was to die for.
Reading on the patio. Currently still on "Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us"
and loving it! Great read, excellent insight into the BS that is processed, packaged food.

And today I'm headed down to San Diego to hang out with my buds Mike and Kimee Rouse, and to "run" the SD Rock N Roll half tomorrow. I say run in quotes because this is just a training day run on very tired legs. No goals to PR again, just goals to have fun!

Take care everyone, and please no more crashes, a'ight?!