race recap #5: 112 miles of mediocre, but forward, progress…

For as cocky and confident as I am in the water, I know that once we hit dry land, all of those hard core bikers who can barely swim go whizzing past me like I’m not even moving. It’s true. I’ve done studies. Lots of them.

Sometimes people tell me they are jealous of my mad swimming capabilities. And I just laugh because, well, I am crazy jealous of their mad biking abilities. It makes wayyyyy more sense to be badass at biking than swimming. It’s a much longer event in any triathlon and you can really make up a lot of time really quickly. Ironman is no different from any other triathlon I’ve done.

If I had a dollar for every time a biker passed me and said, “hey, nice swim,” I’d be able to buy a new tri bike to make me go faster. Seriously though, all I can hear in my head is “hey, nice swim… (too bad you’re not a faster biker!)! True story.

So. If there is one thing I have learned from triathlons, it is to swim like heck. And then, be humble (once out of the water…).

The bike is where I’ve struggled the most. And it is also where I have the least experience. I’ve been swimming my whole life and running pretty much since my high school volleyball coach made our whole team sign up for a 5K run (which was just about the longest 3 miles of my life). So whereas I’d swam 2.4 miles nearly a year ago and run 2 marathons previously (and countless half marathons), I only rode 112 miles once. Just a few weeks ago.

One of the issues is my lack of skill/ability/confidence on hills. I spent this year training to go UP but never would say I’m an amazing climber. Just ok. Let’s face it, I trained to go UP, which was hard enough. I didn’t train hard to go up FAST and there is a difference.

And going downhill, it takes me some time to build up the confidence on each and every different descent. I rarely descend in the aero bars – I like to have the brakes nearby. I’m terrified of crashing my bike. And those skinny road tires can be squirrely. So I’m a chickenshit compared to many others who will just tuck and go, screaming down the hill at 50+ mph.

Suffice it to say, I have a lot of room to grow as a biker.

Leading up to the big day, I fully anticipated a looooooooong day of biking. My reasonable guesstimate had me spending between 8 to 8 and a half hours on the bike to travel the 112 miles.

Now, before you go and do the math, you are correct… that is incredibly slow. In my defense, there are a few hills to conquer. Here’s the elevation profile from my test ride a few weeks before the race:

IMCDA bike elevation garmin 06.01.2013

IMCDA bike elevation garmin 06.01.2013

Getting out of the water, I felt good. Being out early always makes me feel a little urgent. Frantic. Quick, get out of transition, get out in front of people. Get riding. (So you can hurry up and be passed? I know, right? It has never made any sense to me either.)

The first leg of the bike course runs through town and out along the lake. It’s beautiful and mostly flat and fast and there are a lot of people around – spectators and other bikers. Then, all too soon, you leave town heading south on Highway 95 – away from all of the people and up into the hills.

I realized two things pretty quickly. First, I noticed that my aero bottle was no longer velcroed in at all and was jiggling out of its holder with every bump. I held it in, kept moving and tried to decide what to do. The obvious answer is STOP… but this was not necessarily the course of action I was going to pursue immediately until I realized that my Garmin was tracking speed and time, but not distance. That was what made me decide to pull over and stop.

I fixed my bottle (good news, now I didn’t have to hold it for the next 109 miles…like that was even a feasible option) and fiddled with my bike computer and the little piece that is on my bike spoke to no avail. I jumped back on, not wanting to waste too much more time (look at all of those people passing me! though right now I AM actually standing still) and chose instead to scroll through my Garmin options on the tiny little screen whilst 1) travelling 18-25+ mph, 2) avoiding near certain collisions with other bikers going 24-34+ mph 3) trying to avoid hitting any spectators foolishly trying to cross the street in front of bikes moving that fast, and 4) trying to remember which menu screen would take me to the place where I could check and reset my satellites, etc.

I know. It was a perfectly logical way to go. Multitasking on a bike. Probably as bad or worse than texting and driving. I know.

Fortunately, I avoided catastrophe. But unfortunately, my Garmin appeared to be having sympathy pains attached to my hubby’s watch, which, as you might recall, suffered a busted screen and come to find out later, made it through the swim only to die about 1:45 into the bike.

No major hurdle for me…my watch still told me how long I’d been out, what time of day it was and how fast I was travelling and there were aid stations every 10 miles. It was only an inconvenience – we’d been training on the course since April and I knew pretty much how long it would take me to get from point A to point B.

I had a quick and easy first 56 mile loop. Much faster than I had ever done it, which was both fantastic and troubling news. Everything I had read going into the race said to take it out easy on the bike. Everyone I talked to said that scorching your bike would never pay off and you would blow up on the run.

I was trying to stay positive and in fact, I was loving how quickly I was moving along the course – this was fun! But in the back of my mind, I had a more than slight concern that I was going to seriously blow up… maybe on that last 2 mile hill at mile 100. If not then I would definitely blow up on my run. Trouble.

As you might know, during an endurance event like Ironman, your body needs replenishing but can only digest between 200-300 calories an hour. Get behind and you pay for it when you run out of gas. And you can’t make up for it – take in more than you can digest and you’ll likely end up with GI issues that can haunt you. Nutrition and fueling can definitely make or break you on race day.

Aid stations were reliably every 10 miles and were fully stocked with wonderful, helpful, cheerful volunteers, water bottles, bottles of Ironman Perform (like Gatorade), Bonk Breakers, Chomps, Gus, bananas and of course, porta-potties. At each one, volunteers were stretched out in a line, yelling out what goodies they had. You slowed, pointed to the volunteer who had what you wanted and made eye contact, and snatched the goods on your way past. You could also ditch empty bottles and trash at any aid station (it was an automatic DQ if you purposefully ditched trash anywhere but an aid station).

I had 9 coworkers who had also signed up to do the race and my first pit stop was around mile 30, where I saw the friendly faces of some of my other nonracing coworkers who were volunteering.  Looking back, I think this is where hubby first caught up and passed me.

The stretch along Hwy 95 is hilly with a 2 mile uphill as you leave town and then mostly rolling mostly uphill until the turnaround. I have done enough training rides along this stretch to know that along with the slightly rolling mostly uphill of this section, you often get some headwinds to go with it to make it a little extra miserable. But we were lucky and the winds were quiet.

Honestly, my first loop was uneventful. Each aid station had phenomenal energy and there was enough bike traffic and chatter to keep you distracted. Course officials were patrolling to make sure no one was illegally drafting or blocking but I think their primary concern was with the people vying for cash prizes (in other words, not me!).

Once you hit the turnaround point to head north back into town about 4o miles into the 1st loop, it’s a fast 16 miles back into town. All of those rolling uphills turn into mostly rolling downhills. And the good news is that even though I’m not the fastest, most confident downhiller, I’ve been riding those downhills for long enough to be confident enough to cruise down them. I think I hit 40 mph or pretty darn close on one of them. But there were bigger people cruising right past me. Gravity.

After you cruised through downtown, back on the flats again, you headed out to pick up your special needs bag, which held cheeseburger #2 for me. Mile 65 was a happy one – more than halfway AND time to restock with new and exciting foods. And I got to see some familiar faces. I’ve worked with the volunteer captain for the bike special needs bag, Mike, on other non-Ironman things and before the race he told me where he’d be and had offered to throw my cheeseburger on the grill and warm it up. I didn’t take him up on it as I didn’t want to get “cold” or maybe more importantly, decide to order out for some fries and a milkshake and never get back on the bike. But I did stop long enough to restock my Perpeteum powder and reapply sunscreen on  my arms and shoulders and stretch my neck and back.

Leaving town again, you could feel the energy leaving the athletes. Everyone knew what was ahead. Hills. No fans. Just the quietness of our minds. It got quieter and quieter until about mile 80. You could literally feel the ginormous black hole that was swallowing entire athletes whole.

“I’m never going to make it back into town.”

“Holy geez, why would anyone sign up for this?”

“How am I going to make it another 42 miles AND back up that last big hill?”

Fortunately, I had friends and coworkers at the aid station at mile 90 and I knew that the turnaround was within reach. I stopped for a quick high-five and another porta-potty break. When I was racking my bike, I realized with excitement that my hubby’s bike was on the rack right where I had put mine! Hooray!

But that was quickly replaced with a sense of uneasiness as it sunk in that he is a faster biker than me and something must not be going well for me to have caught him. Uh-oh…no bueno.

I saw him coming out of the porta-potty and he waited for me as I just had a quick tinkle. We rode together-ish, back and forth for a few miles, but he put some distance between us as we hit the downhills.

Mile 100 hit and we all start climbing again. Of course by now, the sun is shining full bore. No breeze. Just bikers. Climbing.

Last hill before town so I’m feeling pretty good. Just 2 miles and then it’s all downhill. Training on the course was definitely an advantage and one of the major reasons hubby and I chose to do this course over, say, Ironman Canada, which is later in the year and would have given us much more time to train in the nice weather. I was probably the only person smiling on that hill and I’m only smiling because I had already ridden the entire 112 miles of the course this year and I knew, I just KNEW that if I had made it this far, I would make it up this one last stinkin’ hill for the last time.

High spirits.

That is, till I catch up to my hubby, a third of the way up the hill. He’s cramping and jumping off his bike to stretch his leg. Poop.

I can’t stop or else I will never get going again so I blow him a kiss, cross my fingers the cramp goes away and keep churning my legs. I counted to 100. Five times. One count every other leg. One count every third leg. Again, every leg. One. Two. Three. Four. Five… Ninety-nine. One-Hundred. One. Two. Three. Four.Thirty-seven. Thirty-eight. Seventy-one. Over and over and over again. Just to get my brain off the hill and off of worrying about hubby. At least until the top of the hill…

I make it and turn around to find that my hubby had jumped back on his bike again and had staved off the cramps at least long enough to make it up the hill. Talking with him for a few miles, I learn his nutrition had been a wreck since his watch died less than 2 hours into the bike. He had trained with the watch set to beep every 20 and 40 minutes, reminding him to eat and drink. Without a watch, he was floundering from the get-go, trying to gauge distance and time without a watch. He will tell you that he got some funny looks – in a world of Type A athletes who are trying to control every piece of the race day they can to have a successful finish, he was probably one of maybe 2 or 3 athletes who didn’t have a watch. I’m sure they were wondering what his deal was…

Anyway, we decide about 5 miles out to start the run together and go from there. It was no our initial plan to stay together but it seemed to make sense to keep each other company for a while. So down the hills into town.

As we come into transition, our family and friends are cheering for him – it’s like a homecoming parade. It was actually really comical. They weren’t expecting to see me right behind him so he’s soaking it all in and I’m like, “Hey guys, I’m here too!” Eventually they saw me…

I had anticipated finishing the bike in 8:00-8:30.

I finished the bike around 7:20, a full 40-1:10 faster than I ever thought I would. True it’s still nothing to write home about in the world of biking (I averaged about 15.3 mph over the entire course), but I was feeling darn pretty good about my day as I headed into my last transition.

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frozen foods…

As you might expect, training for Ironman means you want (and need) to eat. Lots.

I’m this way without training for anything, so one of the best things for me about any training program (but especially training for endurance races like Ironman) is the ability (and justification) to eat whatever it is you darn please. However, training also puts a severe damper on the amount of time you have to do non-training things, such as grocery shop and cook… minor details.

In previous years when I’ve trained for half Ironman distances, I’ve had weeks where I was just so darn tired from working and training, training and working, that I didn’t want to do anything but SLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP when nighttime or the weekend came.

I don’t imagine that this year will be any different and in fact the need to have easy, accessible, relatively nutritious food is doubled with two hungry bears in our household training for Ironman. So on my rest day the other day, I ran out to the grocery store and picked up all sorts of yummies – ingredients for things that could be cooked and prepared now while I have the time and frozen for future convenient consumption.

Behold my progress!

yum yums for later!

yum yums for later!

I am no professional food photographer, nor am I a professional chef. But I can tell you that a frozen lasagna and a container full of 3 bean chili are happily sitting in my freezer now, waiting to fulfill their destinies as fuel in a time crunch in the near future. The third is a concoction of the nuts – oats- chocolate – raisins persuasion that was intended to be saved for future but proved to be too tasty to resist!

I hope to have some more time this coming week to put together some more freezer meals while the workouts are still relatively short. The more I can make, the better!  My future self will thank me…

Do you have a favorite freezer-type standby meal?

confessions from an olympic tri…

Today was the first Olympic distance triathlon of the season for me (.93 mile swim, 24.8 mile bike and a 10k run) – it’s a little late in the training program (I think technically it was supposed to be last week or the week before to fit ‘perfectly’, but c’est la vie!) I’ve covered the distances in training, obviously, but today was truth time. So, confession time. What did we learn? How did it go?

1) First and foremost, I must confess that I was not really excited about this race. My hubby was also supposed to do the race and he had to work so I was on my own and I was really tempted to bail on the race also. It was a 3+hour drive away and an overnight stay because there was no packet pickup this morning. In some sense of the word, it was a victory for me that I even showed up!

the calm before the storm…

2) The swim was pretty rough, choppy and at times almost violent, which is NOT something I remember from this race last time. I puzzled over this throughout the rest of the race – I think it may have something to do with the fact that I’ve aged up to the next age group. Last time I did the race, I was 29 – in the first wave of the Olympic distance with only the half ironman-ers in front by about 15 minutes. This year, at the ripe old age of 31, I had to wait for everyone in the half-iron group (still well ahead of us, but I did pass a few struggling stragglers towards the end of the .93 miles) AND I had all of my wave PLUS the first wave to fight through. The water was choppy. People were all over the place and there was seemingly no end to watching out for feet, elbows and fists. This is not something that I snobby ex-pool-only swimmer likes to see. Whether being in a different age group made the different or not, I added a couple – 2 or 3- minutes to my swim time from 2010, which I was bummed about because, ironically, I’ve been swimming a heck of a lot more this year than back then. Confession: I was/am(?) a little concerned that I’ve been swimming and somehow gotten s-l-o-w-e-r.

(trying to) swim in the crowd

3) As you may have gathered from #2, I’m a front of the middle pack or maybe back to middle of of the front pack swimmer, depending on the crowd. What’s the confession here? It’s this: the benefit of being good in the water is not really not a benefit at all – you get to hop on your bike early and be passed by people who say well-intentioned but ultimately funny and demoralizing things like “Good swim…” and leave the “too bad you’re not a better biker” hanging in the air. I know, I think so too. I even heard a guy in the water before the start talking about how he never worked on his swim because he just didn’t see it as an advantage. Now now. You may blow by me in a few minutes, but I’ll put money on the fact that I’m probably less frazzled and winded from the first leg. But I digress.

C’mon climbers!

4) Ok, this is maybe the confession that concerns me the most with a 70.3 looming: Sadly, my climbers are not what they should be on the bike. Biking is definitely my weakest link and while I’m slowlybecoming a better biker with time and practice, I find I don’t push myself as hard as I do when I’m running or swimming. I think it has to do with the fact that I associate biking with casual rides around the neighborhood as a kid. You know, relaxed. Carefree. Not grimacing, sweating, legs and lungs burning kind of biking. Nothing quite like race day to make you put the pedal to the metal, really push yourself to try to compete with the fools that are flying past you like you’re standing still (even though your bike computer insists you’re moving at what you feel is a respectable clip). Fortunately for me, today’s course was rolly, but not hilly. Twenty-five miles of really pushing it and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little concerned about how well I’d hold up and how much gas I’d have when I hit the run. Plus, my knees have been hurting on higher cadence rides and I definitely noticed it today when I climbed off. But fortunately once I was on the ground it went away. (Note to self – probably oughta get that straightened out, wouldn’t you say?)

5) I forced myself to eat and fuel all day. Forced is the operative word here. I hate eating in the morning, but I had a banana and a bar and a bunch of water before I swam, three gels on the bike and one on the run. Lots and lots and lots of water. Other than the gross queasy feeling I had before the swim (which could definitely be attributed to the fact that my stomach deemed it too early to be accepting food and also to the fact that I was ready to just get this thing going already), and a brief moment around mile 18 on the bike where my stomach reminded me how hard it is to digest folded over bike handlebars (I spent a few minutes sitting upright), I felt good. Hm. No confession here, I suppose.

6) Last time I did this race, I thought I was going to die of heat exhaustion. I’m not gonna lie – this was really a big concern of mine for this year as well. To combat this, even though I really didn’t want to, I carried a water bottle with me and every water stop (there were 4 or 5, I believe), a cup of water went on my head and neck and I drank or filled my bottle with the other. In between stops, I made sure I was keeping my head cool and drinking a lot. I felt a lot better about the run this year than I did last time, that’s for sure. And I think I was able to shave a few seconds off of my last run time for the course as well.

7) Lastly, triathlons continually remind me to be humble. I try to be supportive, talk it up on the race course and encourage people. But in every race there is someone, maybe a few someones who (in a moment of judgy-ness or jealousy or poor sportsmanship or whatever you want to call it) “have no business being in front of me”. I’m not proud of it. Yet, there they are. And they’re there, in front of you for a reason. Maybe they’ve put in more work. Maybe they’re more determined because they’ve seen more adversity and overcome more so they’re stronger. Maybe this is their life’s dream and for you its simply a training run. Maybe they are there to motivate you to stick with it or kick it in at the end. Still others may be there to remind you to be gracious and thankful for the skills and abilities you have. Or maybe they’re there to remind you to be inspired by the people around you.

Today, around mile 5, maybe closer to 5 1/2, a gentleman who I knew had been with me for a while finally picked up his pace, ran up beside me and said “Hello, how are you doing?” I said “I”m great, beautiful day” or something to that extent. He smiled, commented on what a nice pace I have (he should know, he’d been hanging out in it for a while), and then sped off, beating me to the finish line by more than a handful of seconds. And as he ran off, I noticed the numbers on his calf read: 6-8. Man. Sixty-eight years old and still rockin’. I just smiled and shook my head, I picked up my pace but I wasn’t going to catch him. Mr. 68, you are my hero for the day. You reminded me to smile and be happy with the day and to be inspired by the journey that others are on. I can only hope that 37 years from now I’m still able to do this with a smile on my face.

on heat and hydration…

I have such a love-hate relationship with July. And mid to late summer events, for that matter. There’s no doubt that the start of actual summer-like weather makes training and triathlons easier in a lot of ways. It’s a pretty safe bet that from now until October, I will probably not have to worry about planning a training workout around rain or otherwise foul weather (I did say probably…).

Here in the Inland Northwest, we generally have 2-4 weeks of really, truly HOT weather. The number of times we break 100 degrees can usually be counted on one hand. But our hot weather has come early this year – a week ago, we jumped straight from 70 to 95 in a matter of two days and haven’t dipped below the mid 90s since. Not that I should complain. I’ve been more than ready for sunshine and blue skies for MONTHS. But I digress.

Most reasonable people spend these scorching days submerged in water – floating lazily in an inner tube down one of our rivers or on one of the many lakes. Me, I have the distinct (mis?)fortune of being in the midst of training for a summertime 70.3 Those of you doing the same or something similar know that when these hot days come, we must spend the time acclimating ourselves. Because lord knows, come race day, it’ll be 95 degrees out and we’ll have no choice but to deal with it. Better to give our bodies the chance to get used to it.

Saturday was a scorcher and that is an understatement. Seriously. And from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. I was out in it. During the nearly 3 hours I spent on the bike, I was thankful that I had remembered to apply sunscreen on my arms and face. But I still got a mild sunburn on the side of my thighs, adding to my rockin’ bike shorts tan lines. Note to self: remember to apply sunscreen before the race and stash at transition area for “just in case”.

I’m working on fine tuning my on-the-bike nutrition and always have to make a conscious effort to eat, eat, eat when I’m on the bike. Note to self: make sure that whatever you bring to refuel is tolerable when it’s warmed up! Some gels are really pretty gross when they’re warmed to 90 degrees… but some are ok – apple cinnamon flavored Hammer Gels taste like warm apple pie! And espresso flavored GUs also seem pretty normal at 90 degrees… I guess because coffee is often served warm so the temperature matches the flavor. Or something.

Bicycle water bottle

Bicycle water bottle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And then of course there’s the issue of hydration. As you all know, the hotter it is, the more you sweat, the more you need to replenish – both fluids and electrolytes. On hot training days, I really have to make sure I’m carrying enough water. Or that I have a plan for refilling often enough. I drink quite a bit cause I’m a big sweater… so I need to have quite a bit of water on hand or a lot of planned water stops. The problem with carrying it all is, of course, making sure you have enough water bottle holders on your bike (or you could carry a Camelbak or some sort of hydration pack) and also that the water will heat up the longer that you’re out. The other day when I was out, I was definitely drinking really warm water, which makes me not really want to drink it. Race day is generally a different story with water stations, but it’s definitely something to think about. Note to self – try this: freeze some water bottles the night before the race. Stash them at transition and pull them out at T1 and T2 (depending on how hot and how long the race is).  And also, find some better insulated water bottles. Pronto.

photo from: guysandgoodhealth.com

Post bike/post run, basically as soon as I stopped moving, sweat just poured off of me. How the heck was I going to cool down? The last late July race I did, I jumped back into the lake following the run and sat until I could get my core temperature back to normal. Fortunately, there was a river alongside the trail I was riding and running on, so immediately after I finished running, off came the shoes, the tunes and the sunglasses and into the river I went. I sat and I floated and I cooled off. No better way in the world to do it. Note to self: pack a cooler with a post workout water bottle! And only work out near cool rivers and lakes!

Just a few things to think about…after this weekend and also after today’s toasty midday run, I’m reminded that hydration issues can definitely derail my race day. So as much as I’d prefer to skip the midday 90+ degree workouts, practicing and adjusting my race day strategies and hydration has to be part of the training plan. For a few more weeks, anyway.Do you have any special tricks for dealing with the summer heat?

on eating and training and eating and racing

Today’s workout was a 3:30 bike ride. I was starting to get just a smidge hungry and I knew that it was going to be a long ride, so  I packed up some energy gels, some bars and a whole bunch of water and hit the road. Everything was good, munched on a few bars, sucked down a couple of gels en route and cruised.

Until mile 36.

I thought I was keeping up on staying hydrated and refueling electrolytes, carbs, etc. And then I totally, totally bonked. It was a good reminder to practice more – that is, practice eating and hydrating while on the move to replace what I’m burning and sweating out. You, too, should incorporate refueling into your training program. And here’s why:

  • The cardinal rule of race day? Don’t try anything new. This goes for food and drink. If you’re planning to take advantage of the food and drinks provided on the course, and especially if you’re planning on relying solely on them, you should try them out  in advance.
  • How does it taste? Do you like the flavor? For gels and chews: What’s the consistency like? Do you like it? If you don’t like it, this is good to know ahead of time. Race day, you’ll need to consume the gel and obviously this is easier to do if it doesn’t prompt a gag reflex. If you plan on And how do you manage when the gel or fluid is warm?
  • Then there is actually practicing the act of opening and eating – for example, if you’re on your bike – can you open the package it comes in without falling or crashing? Can you eat on the run (or bike)? If not, pre-open the packages. If you’re eating chomps or chews or bars, are they too big for you to chew and keep moving? Cut them in advance so they’re more manageable on race day.
  • How does your stomach feel? It can be a delicate balance. You don’t want to eat too much because your body can only digest so much while you’re on the move. And while biking, hunched over, this can be a challenge. But you also need make sure you get enough to keep fueled.
  • How are you planning on carrying everything? Do you have the right gear? A bento box for your bike? Some kind of race belt for the run? Are you used to carrying it?

If you’re looking for more:

Competitor Magazine has an article on race day fueling here: http://running.competitor.com/2012/03/nutrition/race-fueling-made-simple_8633/1

Active.com also has a useful article here: http://www.active.com/running/Articles/Fueling_for_peak_marathon_performance.htm

And of course, Runners’ World has a whole slew of articles on hydration and refueling here: http://www.runnersworld.com/topic/0,7122,s6-242-302-0-0,00.html

 

Happy training and here’s to no more bonking!

running out of time…

I’ve hit the point in training where I no longer have enough time. Even the longest day of the year, just a few days ago, there was not enough time to fit in my training and the things I needed to do. Let alone the things I wanted to do…

Runs are now just barely fitting into lunch with a fake clean-up afterward- just enough so that my co-workers don’t boot me out in the afternoons. The long runs have to fit in the evenings or weekends now, competing for time with the bike rides, which are now mostly in the 2-3:30 hour range and the primary occupier of the evening hours, say roughly from 5:30-8:45. I suppose one could make an argument for morning workouts. But let’s face it. If you’re telling me I could go workout in the morning, you probably don’t know me very well at all. Sleep is another important part of training. Don’t get me started on that.

You do the math. There’s not time for much else these days. You know, things like grocery shopping, let alone cooking (come to think of it, I’m not exactly sure what I’ve been subsisting off of lately. Suffice it to say, it’s probably too embarrassing to list here anyways). Hanging out with friends (unless they’re on a bike or running alongside!). Playing with the dogs. Getting an oil change. Cleaning the house? Fuhgettaboudit.

Ah. And this would explain the recent lack of blog updates as well. My bad.

Time, or rather, the lack of it is a common challenge with any training program. But I’ve found it to be especially noticeable over the past 2 or 3 weeks or so.

This feeling of not having enough time is accompanied by a, well, a  feeling of not having enough time – that is, there are just 6 weeks till race day. That sentence distinctly makes me feel like I’m running out of time, even more than trying to go grocery shopping AND cook dinner at 9 p.m. at night.

Tick tock, tick tock!

rewards (in the form of lemon berry ricotta crepes)…

One of the reasons we work out is so we can eat more, right? If you know me, you know I LOVE food and you know that I think that one of the great things about this many workouts a week is that I’m torching tons of calories. Which basically means I can eat almost anything I want and be (almost) totally justified in the irresponsibility of the indulgence. Awesome.

The trick is to a) not to eat more than I’m burning (and that is definitely a feat some days – I hate to pass up an opportunity to indulge!) and b) to replace those burned calories with things my body can use for fuel in the next day’s workout (i.e. protein and carbs and all that good stuff). It gets a little scientific for me, but I know that eating potato chips and Twix bars for meals will leave me feeling worn out big time in the next day’s workout. It’s not really worth it to be dragging over a bad decision. So we stick to the basics, a lot of super foods – fruits, veggies, salmon, black beans. Lots of salads. Stir frys. Mexican goops. And fortunately, we don’t usually have much of the “bad” stuff in our house anyways, so not much temptation.

But obviously it’s fun to reward yourself for sticking to your training, so I often do. And often these rewards are in the form of food. Not only that, but they commonly take the form of processed sugars. You know, cookies and the like.

Sundays are great for rewards like sleeping in. Waking up without an alarm clock. This particular Sunday also proved to be a great day for Lemon Berry Ricotta Crepes, which we had originally planned to have for breakfast but turned out to be a great dinner as well –

Here’s the recipe, which I adapted from a recipe for crepes that I found in our local paper and combined with a recipe for Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce from Two Peas & Their Pod (though I pretty much just used their blueberry sauce recipe and saved the pancakes part for another reward day…).

Ingredients:

For the Berry Sauce:
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
2 cups fresh or frozen berries
2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water

For the Ricotta Filling (you could probably cut this in half – we had a lot leftover):
2 cups ricotta cheese
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Crepes:
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
2 fluid ounces water
1 cup all purspose flour
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Vegetable oil for the pan

In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and cornstarch and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine berries (we used frozen mixed berries), sugar and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and stir in lemon juice and cornstarch mixture. Stir until the sauce thickens slightly. Cover to keep warm and set aside.

Combine ricotta, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Refrigerate until ready to fill crepes. Refrigerate until ready to fill crepes.

Combine eggs, milk and water; mix well. Add flour and mix until just combined. While stirring, pour in melted butter. Mix well until smooth.

Heat ½ teaspoon of vegetable oil in a 12 inch non-stick skillet over medium low heat for about 10 minutes. Wipe out skillet with a paper towel, leaving a thin film of oil.

Pour a scant ¼ cup crepe batter into the skillet and tilt the pan until batter evenly covers the bottom of the pan. Cook crepe without moving until top surface is dry and edges start to brown, loosening it from the side of the pan with a spatula. Gently slide spatula under edge of crepe. Grasp with fingertips and flip crepe. Cook until second side is lightly spotted golden brown.

Fill each crepe with sweetened ricotta cheese and berries. Roll up and place seam side down on a plate. Top with a dollop of ricotta (and the recipe also suggests fresh mint leaves and fresh fruit. We weren’t classy enough for fresh mint, but we had strawberries!)

What’s great about having these for dinner is that you know you’ve either earned them. Or you haven’t. In our case, I figured that 8 workouts over the course of this past week called for a crepe-tacular, fruit and ricotta-filled breakfast/dinner.

Although now that I think about it, having these for breakfast would put some pressure on me to go get a workout in at some point during the day! Cheers!

side effects of training…

Holy heck. Boy, do nine workouts a week eat up your days and weeks quick. You run out of hours to do all of the little things that you used to do with your spare time. Like do laundry. Buy groceries. Cook. Do yard work. You know. Those things.

The other night, I got home late after a longer workout after work… and we had NO food. I mean seriously. Our fridge was a barren, empty desert. I tried to scavenge what I could, but ultimately determined I would need an emergency trip to the grocery store. Entirely too unprepared for a full-fledged grocery store visit (and too late and much too hungry to get prepared for one), I ran in and out for some apples, bananas and yogurt.  Enough for some semblance of a smoothie in the blender… it’ll get me through the night and hopefully the fruit, plus the can of soup I bought will get me through the next day too. And maybe then I’ll find some time to go to the grocery store for reals.

When I pulled into the driveway, I noticed (not for the first time, or even the second time) that with all of this sun and all this rain, our grass has been G-R-O-W-I-N-G. Shoot. Someone ought to mow that, I think to myself yet again. Later. Maybe this weekend I can fit it in between workouts and errands.

Back at home, I made an attempt at getting ready for the next day – workout clothes, lunch and snacks (apples and bananas – good thing I stopped for groceries!), post work workout clothes, bike, bike helmet, bike shoes, etc.

In addition to the post work workout, I had also worked out at lunch, so today (as with many days), out came two full sets of dank, stinky gym clothes from my bag and straight into a laundry basket full of stinky gym clothes. Oh geez. Someone should do something about that. Right? These days, clean clothes are a hot commodity ‘round these parts and it’s getting to be slim pickin’s; it’s been a week or maybe more since I poured some detergent on those bad boys and ran them through the wash. Sigh. Armful of clothes into the wash. Switch it on and hope to stay awake long enough to get things hung to dry.

I have a necklace my mom gave me that says SLEEP ● EAT ● SWIM ● BIKE ● RUN ● REPEAT. As it turns out, there are a few steps in between. Minor details. Call them all the “side effects” of training.

So, come tomorrow? I get to do it all again. Except I guess I’ll have just a little less laundry to do. Maybe we can get a maid. And a gardener. And maybe a cook.

Anyone??

“bike wins rare victory over the call of ice cream”

Yesterday, there was supposed to be a bike ride. But I didn’t want to bike ride. I wanted to sit. At home. Under the covers. And eat ice cream. Lots and lots of ice cream.

Only, we had no ice cream. Shoot. And it’s supposed to thunder/lightning/pour this afternoon/evening and thus procrastinating it until tomorrow simply would not do. Double shoot.

So a bike-riding I went. Caught a beautiful ride during the last hour or so of daylight on a perfectly lovely evening. Perfect temps and great scenery – sunset and a swollen river that has only recently receded back from the trail which was flooded just a few short days ago.

That wasn’t so bad.

And my hubby, my sweet, wonderful hubby, picked up some yummy ice cream sammiches on his way home from his meeting.

Sigh. All’s well that ends well.

homemade chipotle bean burritos

Here in our house, we love our Mexican food – fast, easy, and delicious. And what’s more, depending on how you make it (i.e. If you have the strength to refrain from adding massive amounts of queso and frying the whole darn thing), it can be nutritious too. (Side note: as a general rule, we do not keep queso in the house. Too yummy. We’d eat it every meal. And that stuff will kill you. Spicy, creamy, delicious DANGER!)

We fondly refer to Mexican food as “Mexican Goop”:  Beans, any kind of meat (or no meat at all!), spices, a little bit of cheese, some form of tortilla, some salsa or hot sauce, and some veggies and you’ve got yourself a meal!  One of best things about Mexican Goop is how easy it is to improvise. Its seriously the choose-your-own adventure of food.  You can wrap it into a burrito, dump it on a salad, layer it into a baked casserole… the possibilities are endless. And if you focus on making beans and veggies the base, and go easy on the cheese, guac and sour cream, it really can be a pretty safe bet for a quick and healthy meal.

This one here’s super fast and requires very minimal effort on anyone’s behalf, which is great when you’re short on time and still need to eat something yummy (which is me, all of the time!):

CHIPOTLE BEAN BURRITOS

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

1 tbsp canola oil

1-2 garlic clove, minced

1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder (we use 1 tsp+ of cayenne and throw in some red pepper flakes too)

1-15oz can black beans, drained

1-15oz can kidney beans, drained  (you can also substitute pinto beans or other kinds if that’s what you have on hand…)

3 tbsp salsa (I think we get closer to 1/4+ cup of salsa… usually I eyeball this, but again, we like it spicy!)

Tortillas

Cheese

Romaine Lettuce

Chopped tomato

Sour Cream

1) Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, chile powder and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add 1/3 cup water and beans and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in salsa. Partially mash bean mixture. Serve with tortillas and various toppings!

Yield: approx 6 burritos.

Cooking Light Calorie count

(Serving size is 1 burrito. Based on 2.5 tbsp cheese, 1/4 c tomato, 1/4 c lettuce, 1 tbsp sour cream on each burrito): 

Calories 361; Fat 10.3 g (3.8g sat, 31g mono, 2g poly); Protein 16.8g; Carbs 52.2g; Fiber 11.4g;

Chol 19mg; Iron 3.3mg; Sodium 735mg; Calc 395mg