Friday, August 30, 2013

Eats for the Week

Last night I went to Whole Foods. I do not usually shop at Whole Foods because it is a little out the way. Also, I cannot resist the "bulk" cookie section so it is best that I do not make a habit of shopping there regularly. Unfortunately to get my usual shopping done I have to go to three places Trader Joes, Healthy Home Market, and Harris Teeter. I hate Harris Teeter and will only go there if I am absolutely desperate. I prefer to shop at Healthy Home Market since it is a local chain, the items are on the healthy side and I can buy several items I need from the bulk section which is often more cost effective for someone cooking for one. 

I came across a couple of recipes last week I am interested in making:

Coconut-Blueberry Muffins-
I saw this recipe on another blog (Two Peas and their Pod) and noticed it only contained 1 animal based product that could easily be substituted.

Ingredients:
1.5 cups of white whole wheat flour
0.5 cups granulated sugar
0.5 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking power
0.25 cups melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon of ground flax and 3 tablespoons of water (egg replacement)
0.75 cups of lite coconut milk
0.5 teaspoon of vanilla extract
0.5 cups of shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1 cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin pan or line pan with muffin liners. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
3. In a separate medium bowl, mix coconut oil, egg, coconut milk, and vanilla together.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula. Stir until just combined. The batter will be thick. Gently fold in the coconut and blueberries.
5. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Bake muffins for 18-20 mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Transfer muffins to a cooling rack.

I am really happy with the way these turned out. Even though there are three coconut-based ingredients I do not feel like the coconut flavor overwhelms these muffins. I find these to be a really good alternative to the banana ones I have been making every week. With the base flavor being coconut I feel like I can play with the fruit. Maybe next time I will add chopped peaches?

Yummy looking, right?
Pad Thai noodles-Now for my main entree of the week . . . I came across this recipe for a vegan and gluten free Pad Thai on Chloe Coscarelli's website. It looked super easy and I already had most of the ingredients so it was a no brainer. I wanted to add a little more substance to the dish so I grabbed some tempeh. I actually wanted tofu but Whole Foods was out of the ready made stuff and I didn't feel like squishing a white blob in towels trying to remove the excess moisture. I cut the tempeh into small chuncks which I left to marinade all day in soy sauce with chunks of ginger I had left over from flavoring some kombucha. It turned out well and was super easy to make. I think next time I will add some mushrooms and maybe a few more veggies (I do not want to work THAT hard). 

Ingredients:
8oz of rice noodles 
3 cups of broccoli florets
4 tablespoons of brown sugar
3 tablespoons of lime juice (I used the juice from two whole limes)
4 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of canola oil
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
Optional toppers: cilantro, peanuts, and even a couple of slices of avocado!

Directions:
1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to package directions.
2. Add broccoli for the last 5 minutes of boiling and let cook until broccoli is fork tender. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, lime juice, and soy sauce.
4. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add scallions and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Add soy sauce mixture and noodles and broccoli to the skillet. Toss constantly until noodles and broccoli are coated with the sauce.

Monday, August 26, 2013

My attempt at efficiency FAILS miserably

Last week the MCAC was closed for its annual maintenance. I have been swimming there three mornings a week but I have also been going there in the afternoons to change and shower before and after my runs. It has become a mainstay in my daily routine. Its closure this week is wreaking havoc on my routine. I was planning to run after work. While it would make sense to just change at work (we do have a locker room) the awkwardness of walking the building in my running attire leaves me hesitant. I decided to make a plan B but unfortunately it was not well thought out. I had to go to Target to buy some kitty litter for my felines so I figured I would get to the store, change, make my purchases, and hop on the greenway. I also needed to go to Trader Joes so I figured I would pop over there too. As I am changing in the bathroom, I suddenly do not feel comfortable walking around Target in my running clothes. Normally I would not be shy about doing my errands in running garb but I was behind on laundry so I had to rely on the JV team to get me through my run. My hot pink tank and ill-fitting tan-line showing booty shorts where not exactly Target material (Walmart maybe) so I threw my dress back on and began combing the aisles. About halfway to the pet section I realized I put my dress on backwards. FAIL 1. Oh well, I hoped no one noticed but the long lines at check out gave everyone ample opportunity. Eventually I made my way to the greenway and strutted my stuff on a lap around the booty loop. Returning to my car, I realized another problem in my not-so-well-thought-out-plan. I did not not have a place or outfit to change into. FAIL 2. Soaked with sweat but overcome with hunger, I forced myself to march over to Trader Joe's and get it over with. Since I sufficiently sweated through my tank and shorts I convinced myself no one would know I was a hot mess unless someone had the misfortune of bumping into me. I swear dudes have it sooooooooo easy. 

Lazy help at home



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Back to the grind

I needed to get out of the lab so I decided to head uptown for lunch today. I really just wanted to get outside and enjoy the sudden drop in temperature but I was also on the prowl for something delectable bite to eat.  A little bored with my usual haunts, I decided to try something new, Dean and Deluca. I kinda wish someone had tripped me in the street beforehand because that was a complete waste. This girl has got to eat and a cold $8.50 portobello sandwich is simply not going to cut it. I bought a bag of sweet potato chips, a coffee, and one small lindor truffle. $16 later I was still hungry, thirsty, and asking myself why places like this stay in business. Well at least I got out of the lab . . . .

Feeding myself is without a doubt my biggest expense but I guess that is expected when you gotta fuel the machine. Racing this year has been a little more clustered than in years past so after racing back-to-back weeks I am definitely happy to get down to business. 

Swim 20,000 yards
Bike 218.7 miles
Run 26.6 miles

A little low on the run miles but I took it easy Monday after racing Stumpy Creek. Luckily Dr. Greenapple was able to squeeze me in Monday afternoon. My knee wasn't hurting from two weeks of racing but I could tell it was feeling a bit tender so I wanted him work his magic and keep me running. I used to dread running but ever since I was forced to put running on the back burner I find I have a new appreciation for it. Running is not something I have to do. It is something I get to do. It is amazing what a new perspective will do for you. 



Thursday, August 8, 2013

Stumpy Creek 2013

This year marks the third year in a row I have competed in the Stumpy Creek International-ish distance triathlon. This year, I hate to say it, was not any easier.  With a mix of clouds, rain, hot sun, and humidity the race conditions were unpredictable at best. While I knew a lot of the people racing I was super excited about all the people who showed up to support us. I want to thank Jonathan Story, Ross Handy, Micheal Starkey, Zack Capets, John Behme, Josie & Luci Stern, Justin Andrews, and my moms for coming out to cheer, ring cowbells, yell, make me smile, mock, read splits, and ask for autographs. Racing just would not be the same without so many cool people cheering in my corner. 

Swim (1500m - 21:42)
I have been working on my sprint speed which really doesn't mean anything because I have no sprint speed but I knew from past experience Matt Wisthoff, Derek Kidwell, and James Haycraft  were going to go out fast and I needed to be ready. I lined myself up with Matt and Derek and prepared myself for a world of hurt when the gun went off. As usual Matt and Derek took a dramatic lead from the start. James just sat next to me and creeped me out with his weird eye thing. Less than a 200 in I could tell the boys were starting to slow down and I caught up with Derek and began to close the gap to Wisthoff. I thought I had Wisthoff in my clutches and by "clutches" I thought maybe I could get close enough to get in his draft but he rebounded and continued to gap me as we approached the last turn buoy. Making our way back toward the dock we were swimming directly into the sun making it really hard to sight. Some people questioned my use of tinted goggle but I was super glad I had them even just for this short stretch. 

T1 (0:52)
As I was leaving the racks, James was just getting to his bike. I was not happy about this and dropped a big F-bomb. 

Bike (27mi - 1:11:18)
For some reason I thought we had to head up the hill and directly out of the park. I was not prepared to make the sharp left almost immediately out of the transition. I was also not prepared to get passed by HaycraftGTWD less than a mile in. I dropped another F-bomb but tried to keep him in sight as he also had the lead vehicle with him. At about the same time I lost sight of HaycraftGTWD, Derek Kidwell passed me. I tried to keep him at a legal length but the more hills and turns we went through the bigger the gap got until I finally lost sight of him as well about halfway into the 27 mile course. Around mile 15 I was just minding my own business when I got stung by something pretty big and gnarly on my back just under my aerohelmet. I was just riding along and then suddenly I was in searing pain. I swatted at the perpetrator only to get a handful of something big, nasty, and capable of flight. As pain began to radiate up, down, and around my back, I waited patiently for my limbs to all go numb as I fantasized about being found on the side of the road paralyzed in the fetal position.  Well that did not happen so onward . . . 

T2 (0:50)
Despite the fact I have been working on my dismount, I decided not to showcase it here. Too many spectators I told myself . . . 

Run (10K - 43:31)
Smiling with my excessive upper body motion on display
Pretty happy with my bike, I was looking forward to seeing where I was on the run. Shortly after exiting transition my ponytail holder slid off the little bit of hair I have left after it was butchered about a month ago. I was crushed and moderately miffed I did not grab my visor but the show must go on! My goal was to approach this run a little differently this year. Stumpy Creek has one of the hardest runs on the NCTS circuit. I usually focus on that brutal hill coming out of the neighborhood but the entire course is rolling. Since the course is composed of two loops and a (mostly) downhill finish, my strategy was to take the first loop a little easier and try to pick it up the second lap around. I just remember last year slogging up that hill when Kathleen Casto ran by me on her first loop and yelled at me to pick my feet up. This particular hill will make or break you. I was counting on the idea that by going out a little easier I could use the hill to my advantage the second time through to buy myself a little more time. While I did not have my fastest run on this course, I did put additional time on the field on the second loop alone so I am going to celebrate my strategy as a success. I do not always celebrate but when I do it kinda looks like this:


Final (2:18:12, 1st female, 7th overall)
This year, NCTS awarded Stumpy Creek bonus point status so I expected there to be a lot of competition. I was not disappointed but to be honest I found myself racing a ghost. Two years ago I ran this race against Stacey Richardson. She caught me on the bike but I was able to stay with her until the run where she put down the hammer and took the win by 1:52.  Unfortunately for her but luckily for me she was awarded a 2:00 penalty for drafting on the bike and I was subsequently awarded the win. Since then a serious foot injury has prevented Stacey from racing so she has become an intangible competitor, one I will always be chasing and one I will never be able to catch. A former swimmer, super strong rider, and quick runner, Stacey set the standard high for women's racing in NC.  Maybe I am being unrealistic or maaaaaybe I am feeling a little bit more confident but it feels like I am approaching a place where I would have given her a run for her money. She may have still beaten me on this course on this particular day but she would have needed to work really hard for it. When I think about that a place deep down inside of me smiles. Can I set a new bar?

Best view in town

Friday, August 2, 2013

What I learned from two Pros

I had an amazing opportunity to room with two pro athletes when I tagged along to attend the inaugural Rev3 Williamsburg half-ironman event. I was originally planning to compete in the race but my stiff knee derailed my plans. I have not been to Williamsburg since I was a kid, more specifically Kings Dominion, but with my mom planning to go it was just a no brainer to make the trip.   Local pro-triathlete, James Haycraft, offered to give me a ride if I would act has his groupie for the weekend. I was hesitant until Matt Wisthoff, another pro-triathlete from Wilmington, NC, agreed to join us. Two super fit handsome fellas stuck with me for a weekend? Come on, did I really have a choice?

Luckily for me, I not only got to up my DQ by hanging out with these guys but I also learned a thing or two: 

Relaxation without taxation
Racing is stressful enough. These guys showed me there is absolutely no point in stressing out about stuff you cannot control. We made it to Williamsburg, VA in pretty good time and Matt arrived within 15 minutes. After grabbing a bite to eat these guys had their feet up for a relaxing evening. The next day they were rocking compression socks and hydrating. Wisty even broke out the Normatec Boots to take advantage of their "Sequential Pulse Technology" pre-race. They were not stressing out about the pending rain or the water temps or wind direction or whatever people seem to direct their anxieties. 

Long hair is so Pro
Matt pretty much has this one in the bag. He has both the length and the flow . . . 


James? Well he is still working on it . . .


Be adaptable to change
There are a lot of things you can do to prepare for race day. You can make lists, visualize race strategy, and  pack enough stuff to cover Plans A, B, and C but very few races are perfect.  You will inevitably forget, drop, or lose something. At least one of the swim, bike or run courses will be a little long. You might even take a turn prematurely and try to ride your bike the wrong way on a one way road. It happens. Move on and blog about it later


One person's butt is another person's billboard

Digits please

Skinny is Fast
Taking up less space takes less work, for the most part. Ok, not really but kinda. While lots of things can make you look pro, nothing is more pro than a lean physique and a shoulder to waist ratio that rivals even the best swimmers' in the world. Oh yeah and ladies, I have a warning for you: skinny dudes make you feel fat . .  . even when you aren't. 

Shaving isn't aero, it is art
One of the more vibrant topics of discussion concerned shaving. Shaving is not something a pro takes lightly, it requires diligence, discipline, and dedication.  

NOT pro
Always be prepared to chat with your fans
When you are on the cover of Endurance Magazine standing alone with rippling muscles and long flowing golden locks, for example, people tend to recognize you when you are doing something mundane like eating frosted flakes in the hotel lobby. You must be prepared to humbly answer their questions concerning your background, favorite color, upcoming races, shoe size, nutrition plan, relationship status, opinion on the aero vs weight debate, etc.

Oh haaaaay, you are on the cover of a magazine. No big deal

Snorting is unacceptable 
It is only acceptable to snort when laughing uncontrollably. It is not acceptable to snort loudly when you are very innocently falling asleep during the movie. 


Have a big trunk
You need somewhere to put your bike. James creeps in a Mazda Man-Van while Wisthoff cranks up the volume on his mixed tapes in an old school Outback. Bikes stay dry should it rain and no one knows the contents of your vehicle are worth more than the vehicle itself. Which brings me to the next point . . . 

Equipment selection is paramount


Long shorts are superior to short shorts
There should be less than an inch from the hem of the shorts to the top of the compression socks. As far as female pros go, however, the shorter the better. There should be at least 2.5 feet of space between the shorts and top of the socks. 

Long shorts must reach the knee or lower
Your triathlon caddy should be as awesome as you are 
 . . . (and takes selfies with your stuff to prove it)

These sunglasses are just SO pro.


I just took the man-van through Confusion
Corner and celebrated with this selfie