Thursday, April 28, 2011

Would you like a side of fries with that?

Today's low-key workout was just what I needed; yoga in the morning with a great group of women, and 30 minutes of strength training in the afternoon. Tomorrow I'm planning for my second brick: riding the Columbia Triathlon course, followed by a run around Centennial Lake, and this time I will remember the fuel!

I hope everyone stayed safe today with all the tornado watches/warnings in the area and around the country. My thoughts today are with the people in Alabama as they begin their journey to rebuild and recover.

If the stress of these events and others is getting to you; take a few moments to breathe. One full minute of deep, focused breathing (inhale for the count of five; exhale for the count of five) has been reported to greatly reduce cortisol levels.

Tonight I've been given the gift of a "free night." Due to the wet fields, the scheduled lacrosse game has been cancelled. So now, with the sun shining and the snack an homework chaos behind us, we are enjoying a leisurely afternoon. (I'm trying not to think about what next month's calendar will look like when all these cancelled games are rescheduled!)

Our dinner menu will feature a simple veggie & cheese omelette (or egg & cheese sandwiches on the yummy High Five Fiber breaded picked up at the CSA yesterday) and potato fries that are "better than McDonald's," according to my kids.

By the way, the High Five Fiber bread, which is baked fresh by Great Harvest in Columbia, one of our CSA's partners, has 5 g of fiber and protein per slice and is made with the following ingredients: 100% whole wheat flour, water, honey, flax seeds, millet, oat bran, sunflower seeds, wheat bran, yeast and salt. That's it. (Unlike my store-bought 100% whole wheat bread that contains high fructose corn syrup!, soybean/canola oil, "enrichment", and at least six ingredients I can barely pronounce.) As a side note, while I'm on the topic of CSA's, the local paper had a timely opinion column on the subject:

After that, I plan to enjoy a new episode of Grey's with a glass of red. Cheers!

Homemade Potato Fries
(I may have posted this before, but it's so good and easy it's worth another mention!)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with foil and brush with olive oil or spray with non-stick spray.
Slice potatoes of your choice into fry-size pieces.
In a large bowl, toss with olive oil.
Add seasoning (sea salt, pepper, and any other spices you like) and toss again. (We use cinnamon and/or nutmeg when baking sweet potatoes).
Spread potatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets and cook for about 15 minutes (or until preferred crispiness), tossing half way through.

Enjoy guilt-free fries that are "better than McDonalds!"

Favorite quote of the day: "Quit apologizing for your greatness. If people can't handle your light, hand them a pair of shades." --Lisa Nichols

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Banish Burnout

A friend of mine was scanning her calendar searching for a single hour in her busy day in which to squeeze in a run. “Do you ever get burned out?” she asked me.

The answer? A resounding, “yes!”

My first triathlon this year is in May and the last one is in September, with two or three others in-between. I usually start training two months before a race so, in all, I will be in training for at least six months. By the end of August I am usually facing a serious case of burnout and my toughest race is yet to come.

So, how to keep workout burnout at bay? Here are few tips that keep me going when burnout threatens to strike:

1. Don’t start training too early. Take stock of your baseline fitness level and develop an appropriate training schedule. Training for eight to twelve weeks prior to a race is usually an adequate amount of time to prepare for most races.

2. Keep workouts fun. If you are running or biking, choose a new route every few weeks, or pick a fun destination where you can meet a friend for coffee or lunch afterward. Occasionally pause to appreciate the scenery; something not easily accomplished when the landscape is whizzing by.

3. Variety is the spice of life. Any workout at the same speed, distance and location is bound to become monotonous. Add intervals and hill workouts to your normal routine, drive to a new location for a change of scenery, vary your weight lifting sets and include a variety of strokes in your swim workout.

4. Recruit friends. Working out alone can be, well, lonely. I am not a chatty runner, but I thrive on the camaraderie of lots of people working toward a similar goal. Gather a group and register for the same race so you can motivate each other, train together and cheer each other on at the finish line.

5. Identify role models. Find others who inspire you, whether it’s a professional athlete or the mom in your neighborhood who is out there every morning pushing her double jogging stroller.

6. Treat yourself. If you are diligently working toward your fitness goals and torching extra calories, allow yourself to indulge in your favorite foods in moderation; you earned it!

7. Try something new. Think outside of the box when it comes to fitness. Instead of going for another run, why not hit the trails for a hike instead? Ditch your weight lifting session to paddle a kayak around a lake. Try yoga, Zumba, rock climbing, roller blading or karate. The new experience will invigorate your mind and challenge your muscles.

8. Take a break. When you simply are too tired, too sore or too unmotivated to workout, give yourself permission to skip it and do something else you enjoy, like reading a book or taking a leisurely walk with your dog; just don’t make a habit of it. After a day or two of rest, you might find you are itching to get back to your workouts again.

Still on Empty

Still running on empty. After a triple threat Tuesday (3,000 swim and 5-mile run, followed later in the day by a 20-mile bike) I am feeling thoroughly depleted. Add to it not getting enough sleep for several nights in a row, not fueling adequately yesterday, and a core/strength workout on Monday that still has all my muscles aching, and I am just done.

I honored this feeling today by getting out of the pool after only 1500; 500 of which was an interval set that nearly did me in. Swim workout #9 is posted below.

"No rest is worth anything except the rest that is earned." --Jean Paul

Swim workout #9 (1500)

Warm Up (500)
500 Free, Easy

Set 1 (500)
5 x 100 IM @ 2 mins

Set 2 (300)
300 Pull

Cool Down (200)
100 IM, Easy
100 Free, Easy

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rookie Mistakes

Experience is a great teacher and, while it can't compete with talent, it can certainly trump youth.

So, you would think after competing in several triathlons (about 15 so far) and training seasons that I wouldn't make the mistakes I make; especially ones I've made before. I've ignored signals from my body and ended up with injuries, I've ignored training guidelines for proper progression and have ended up with injuries, and I've toted insufficient amounts of fluids and flirted with dehydration. Whether I ignore the rules on purpose or accidentally overlook important details, the consequences are the same.

Today was yet another lesson learned the hard way though, fortunately, without serious consequences.

I thought I'd thought of everything as I packed my bag for swimming, followed by running, followed by a shower and a third change of clothes. I remembered the bathing suit, the goggles, the iPod, the running shoes, even the GPS watch. It wasn't until about the mid point of my run that I remembered hydration. And fuel.

I drink water before and after I swim but not during; I want to make it through the practice without a bathroom break. So I went about the morning's swim as usual, though I added an extra 700 or so meters to the workout to end up with a cool 3000, (swim workout to follow), which is almost 2 miles in the water or about 120 lengths of the pool. (I found a calculator that came up with a rough estimate of about 866 calories burned/hour for a swim at my pace.)

After the swim, which was about 70 mins in the water, I did a quick change, drank about 11 oz of water, and hit the road for a 5-mile run.

It was about 80 degrees outside, sunny and humid. When I hit the 2.5-mile mark, you could have heard the energy sputter out of me like a car running out of gas. Not only was I way-short on adequate hydration (I've learned that I need about 22oz/hour on an average temp day, but today I tempted to operate on 11 0z of water for a 2-hour workout) but I also completely forgot about fuel! Which is crazy because I am always thinking about food!!

For workouts of 90 minutes or more, I usually need to replenish my energy stores every 45-60 minutes. At about 11 AM and 100 minutes into the workout, I recalled the whole wheat English Muffin with almond butter and honey I'd had for breakfast--at 8:15 AM; 3 hours earlier. That muffin was probably long gone before I even left the pool.

I literally ran out of fuel. Hit the wall. (By August I will be focused on "The Wall," but, for now, I'm simply focused on the wall.) I convinced myself that there was no shame in walking a few tenths up a particularly challenging hill. My pace was so slow by then that it really didn't matter. A Hammer Gel really would have come in handy; visions of Montana Huckleberry packets danced in my head.

Lesson learned: Forget the iPod; don't forget the fuel.

Today's workout:
*3000-meter swim (approx 866 cal)
*5-mile mostly run (590 cal)
(My iPod was a trip today--fav fun run tracks included some catchy tunes from Beasties, Limp Biskit, Godsmack, Run DMC and good 'ol MJ.)
*20-mile bike (1160 cal; Max speed: 38 mph)

Today's fuel:
B:The little English Muffin that could (n't)
L: Stir-fry veggies w/tofu, strawberries, chai tea with soy milk
D: Homemade Mac-n-cheese, salad, grapes (My family was happy to see some good 'ol comfort food on their plates tonight. Recipe will be posted on
T: Ice cream
Do you think all of this equaled 2616 calories?

Swim Workout #8 (3000)

Warm Up (200)
200 Free, easy

Set 1 (600)
200 Free
200 Kick
200 Pull

Set 2 (800/Interval)
4 x 50 Fly down, Fly kick back @ 1 min
4 x 50 Backstroke down, Backstroke kick back @ 1 min
4 x 50 Breaststroke down, Breaststroke kick back @ 1 min
4 x 50 Free down, rest 5 sec, sprint Free back @ 1 min

Set 3 (700)
200 Kick (IM order)
300 Pull
200 IM

Set 4 (500)
500 Free, sprint every 4th length

Cool down (200)
IM order down, Free back

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dually inspired

I can honestly say that this is the first time since training started this season that I was really ready to ride; my head was in the game. I don't know if it was the beautiful day or the inspiring stories I was reading pre-ride in a Runner's World special on trail running, but I do know it was one of the best rides yet.

After the traditional Easter morning festivities, I set out to explore my spiritual side on my two-wheeled "church." The wildflowers were breathtaking, the rolling fields astonishingly green, flowers were in bloom everywhere; the ride went by in a swirl of color, connecting mind, body and spirit, unearthing feelings of gratitude, and providing space to reflect on the many blessings in my life. As the Eagles might croon: "I get a peaceful, easy feeling."

Four weeks from today is my first race of the season. So, for the next three weeks, it's double workouts and mini-bricks until taper time in week four.

Today's ride:
Miles: 34
Calories burned: over 1900
Max speed: 41 mph

Followed by a mini-brick:
1-mile Vibram form run (with my girls, who are training for a Kid's Triathlon)

It wasn't fast, but it was good for another 100+ calories, putting me over 2,000 for today's workout burn (hopefully enough to keep me in the red despite the day's extra chocolate!)

Breakfast: Power oatmeal; water
Pre-ride: Coffee with soy milk, whole wheat English Muffin with almond butter & honey
Hydration: 22 oz electrolyte drink, 44 oz water
Post-ride: Whey protein & soy milk shake, orange, edamame
Dinner: Three-mushroom risotto, green salad, red wine

For you 'shroom lovers out there, the risotto is delicious. Please visit Triathlon Mom on Facebook at for the recipe.

Good things come to those who wait

I waited four days to run.

On Monday I experienced lower leg pain, which had been escalating in the days prior, so I decided to listen to my body and take a few days off. After some rest and research, I think the problem was most likely muscle, tendon and ligament-related rather than shin splints, caused by a too sudden increase in mileage and intensity at the same time. Duh. I know I know better, but it never feels like the wrong thing at the time. I'm proud of myself for resisting and resting for four days, though I could have done better with icing; the cup of ice is sitting in the freezer but never actually made contact with my leg. What is it they say about good intentions . . . ?

So, yesterday was the day and, once again, I waited.

The forecast was calling for intermittent storms and rain beginning at 1 PM, so I knew I should probably get out there early and get it done. Alas, I am not much of a morning person and instead decided to take my chances and enjoy a leisurely morning. My husband hit the pavement around 12:30 (while I headed to our basement gym for a round of strength training and a dose of motivation) and he ended up soaked. I waited until 2 PM to run and was treated to sunny skies--and relished that moment of knowing that the early bird doesn't always get the worm ;)

I waited four days to run, chose a relatively flat course and easy pace, and ran without pain.
I waited until afternoon to run, despite the forecast, and ran without rain.

I waited, and won.

Sometimes it's the little victories that keep you going.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Om, make time for yoga


Though it has become much "trendier" in western society, the word still invokes a variety of responses, from the devoted who swear by a twice daily practice, to the skeptics who think yoga is "easy" or best left to the crunchy, vegan, liberal-types.

I once was a cardio junkie. Okay, who am I kidding? I'm still a cardio junkie, but with a twist (and a plank and a warrior) these days.

Nine years ago I was teaching a step aerobics class at a fitness center for women and, every night after my class, I'd watch as a group of women filed in, unrolled their yoga mats and sat criss-cross applesauce while their instructor lit a candle and joined them on the floor.

Intrigued, I stayed after my class one night to find out what this "yoga stuff" was all about.

And I was bored out of my mind.

Not one to give up on something so easily, I decided to give it another try. Besides, I'd read that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. Even babies need to be introduced to a new food at least 10 times to determine if they have a taste for it.

So, week after week I went to yoga and, week after week, I left with a mild headache (from the inverted poses), sore wrists (from the planks), and a big dose of frustration with my own inability to "be present" and "quiet my mind."

I later learned that, while yoga is yoga, there are many different interpretations of the practice. The class I'd stumbled upon at the fitness center was Kripalu Yoga, a gentle practice that uses concepts of inner focus, meditation and relaxation, and emphasizes compassionate self-acceptance, observing the activity of the mind without judgment, and taking what is learned into daily life.

But it wasn't until I discovered a class being taught at a different gym that I became hooked. Yoga Bar, as it was called, was a combination of yoga and strength training that elevated the heart rate and kept it elevated--all the benefits of yoga, but fast-paced and challenging enough to satisfy my cardio craving.

The rest, as they say, is history. In 2004, I became a certified instructor and taught classes at the Merritt Athletic Club for a year before striking out on my own. For almost seven years now I have been teaching Ashtanga yoga (an active and athletic interpretation of the practice) from my home studio and have loved every minute of it. Not only is it an honor to share the practice each week with an amazing and inspiring group of students, but yoga has given me countless gifts for which I am ever grateful.

Here is my list of the "Top 15 reasons why you should practice yoga":

1. Reduce stress and create a balanced life

2. Increase strength, flexibility and balance

3. Improve concentration and focus

4. Improve circulation, digestion and metabolism

5. Increase energy

6. Sleep Soundly

7. Better body alignment and pain relief

8. Better breathing and cardiovascular conditioning

9. Strengthen joints and tone muscles

10. Weight management

11. Be present and delight in the simple things

12. Create inner peace

13. Boost self-esteem and confidence, increase happiness and battle depression

14. To supplement other physical activities

15. Be kinder to yourself and others


Wednesday, April 20, 2011


This morning I was swimming like a fish.

By evening, I was eating fish.

Thanks to a great group of women for a fun and much-needed night out for sushi!


Swim workout #7 (2200)

Warm Up (400)

400 Free, Easy

Set 1 (600)

2 x 200, IM order down, streamline kick back

Set 2 (100)

2 x 50, V-scull down, elem backstroke back; push-ups/pull-ups/dips on the walls

Set 3 (900)

5 x 50 Free , Sprint down, easy breast back @ one minute intervals

250 Pull

4 x 50 Kick, Sprint freestyle down, easy breast back

200 Free, Sprint back on the 100 & 200

Cool Down (200)

200 easy, IM order down & freestyle back

Image: Phiseksit /

Image: nixxphotography /

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Storm Chasers

This day dawned like every other day of late--gloomy and gray--and the morning started as calmly as any weekday morning can.

It's another Two for Tuesday when, for the foreseeable future, Tuesdays will feature a double workout of swimming and cycling. So, off to the Y I went for an uneventful 2200 in the pool (workout included below). The cycling, however, was a bit more exciting.

After checking the hourly weather updates all day, I was happy to see the storm systems taking a late afternoon break, which meant that we could thread the needle between fronts and get our scheduled ride in.

According to at 5 PM, the chance of rain between 6-10 PM was only 10%. Sweet.

So, we set off on wet roads under overcast skies (The Beetles, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," playing in my head--unfortunate because it's not the most motivating tune to ride to, but it was the last thing I heard on Pandora before I left the house!) the sun making an appearance every now and then, the winds, for once, calm. Too calm. You know that old saying, "the calm before the storm?" Well, that's what it was. That 10% was coming for us.

As I rounded the bend on the westernmost part of our ride, the sky was ominous and amazing--dark, roiling clouds on the horizon, the wind suddenly picking up and changing directions, roaring through the trees. We were riding parallel to the oncoming storm and it was exhilarating; I felt like a Storm Chaser! The wind was whipping the blossoms from the Dogwoods, showering us in a swirl of soft pink and white petals, making me feel like an insignificant little figure trapped in a springtime version of a snow globe. I could hear the raindrops hitting the ground around me before I could feel them.

Then we turned east on a long, slightly downward sloping road and between the tailwind and the terrain, it felt like flying! (Max speed tonight was 35.7 mph). Nothing like a good dose of adrenaline when you're trying to outrun a storm to up the cadence a bit.

Almost home, but not quite, we turned north and there it was; The Wall. When you're on a bike you can appreciate an oncoming storm front in a way that maybe only birds and pilots can; with the wall of water clearly in sight and headed directly toward you, you know the collision is imminent. With raindrops stinging my cheeks and water coursing through my helmet and puddling in my shoes, we pushed onward and upward, toward home--no longer Storm Chasers but Chasees.

This is not the first time, nor likely the last, that we've been caught in bad weather. (It's amazing how quickly the weather can change during a 60-mile ride over several hours in the summertime!) We've cycled, and not on purpose, in heavy rain, thunderstorms, hailstorms and even a lightening storm. We've come upon flooded streets and have seen lightening strike a tree and sparks shoot from an electrical box on a power line . I've seen the hair on my arms stand on end. We've even re-routed our course on the fly when we've encountered an unexpected storm, it's dark clouds rising threateningly from the horizon, thunder suddenly rumbling in the vicinity.

During one particularly bad downpour, complete with an impressive electrical display, a sympathetic motorist turning into her driveway offered us shelter (and even towels and hot tea!) where we gratefully waited out the storm. Though we passed on the tea and towels, you gotta love those random acts of kindness.

Today's cycle stats:
Distance: 18 miles (about all we can manage for weeknight rides this time of year)
Calories burned: 930 (based on 16.42 miles tracked)

Swim Workout #6 (2200)

Warm Up (200)
200 choice, easy

Set 1 (800)
200 Kick
200 Pull
200 Choice
200 Free

Set 2 (500)
2 x 50, V-Scull down (stack heel on top of toes), elem stroke back. 6 push ups/pull ups/dips at walls.
Kick set 4 mins, Kick at wall increasing pace every minute. Full sprint last minute.
4 x 50, Fly down, fly kick back
4 x 50, Kick; IM order down, fly back

Set 3 (500)
500 Free, build (100 easy, 25 sprint + 75 easy, 50 sprint + 50 easy, etc. Last 100 full sprint)

Cool down (200)
200 easy, choice

Today's Fuel:
Pre-swim: Herbal tea, WW Eng Muffin w/almond butter & honey
Post-swim: 24 oz water, 1/2 c. Non-fat, plain Greek yogurt w/ 1/2 c. homemade granola, coffee with almond milk.
Snack: Raw almonds, dried cranberries, handful of dark chocolate chips

Pre-ride dinner: Stir Fried Tofu with Almonds (recipe below). Started this meal about 90 mins pre-ride, which wasn't quite early enough for an aero ride. Better to finish the meal at least 120 mins prior (Note to self!)

Stir Fried Tofu with Almonds
Servings: 4 (I double this recipe for our family of 5 and to have some left over)
Note: This is a quick/easy recipe if you do the prep work--marinating and chopping--in advance.

1 lb Extra Firm Tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes (Safeway's organic brand comes pre-cubed)
4 T soy sauce
1/8 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. onion powder
1 T peanut butter (I sometimes substitute all or half with almond butter)
2 T. olive oil
1/2 c. red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces*
4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces*
1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 T. fresh ginger
1/2 c. canned water chestnuts, drained and sliced
1/2 t. cornstarch, dissolved in 1 t. water
1/4 c. sliced almonds

*You can use any kind of veggies you like and I go heavy on the amounts--just add a little extra oil. We did not have red pepper or scallions, but I used zucchini, yellow onion, snap peas, green beans and broccoli.

Prep: Mix together 2 T. soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder and peanut butter. Add tofu and mix well. Refrigerate for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Heat 1 T oil in skillet. Brown tofu on all sides, then remove from pan and set aside. Stir-fry veggies, water chestnuts and ginger for 5 mins. Mix together 2 T. soy sauce with water/cornstarch mix. Pour mixture over veggies in skillet. Stir and simmer until thickened. Add browned tofu and almonds. Mix well and serve over brown rice, soba or udon noodles, or whole wheat linguine.

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Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Shins, Abs & Sweet Potatoes

I added a 1/2 mile to my run today and I'm not sure it was a wise choice because my shins have been hurting. I've never had shin splints before and I hope it won't be the next running ailment to add to my ever-growing list. But, my first race is just five weeks away so it really isn't an ideal time for rest. I'm happy to hear any advice anyone may have on successfully dealing with shin pain (but please don't say rest!).

Today's fun run track: "She's a River" by Simple Minds. Other distance-running tunes I've enjoyed lately: "Lose Yourself", Eminem; "Clocks", Coldplay; and "Beautiful Day", U2. Have any good running tunes to share? Please post!

I also managed to get in 30 minutes of strength training, which included a grueling 15 mins of ab work compliments of a dear friend/workout buddy and her Bob Harper DVD. Thanks for the motivation (and the food)!

Quick & Easy Healthy Dinner side:

Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries, Apricots and Pecans

Prep Time: 15 mins
Serves: 6

4 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 lb fresh cranberries (I used frozen)
1/2 c. pecans, finely chopped (I used walnuts)
8 dried apricots, finely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Lightly mist an 8 x 11-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray
3. Mix potatoes and cranberries in baking dish. Add pecans and apricots. Stir just a bit so pecans and apricots stay near the top.
4. Cover and bake for 1 hour.

2/3 of my girls are not huge sweet potato fans, but all three of them gobbled this up. I served it with Morningstar Farms Spicy Black Bean Burgers on whole wheat buns with hummus and melted cheese.

Living Healthy magazine notes that sweet potatoes, used in this recipe from The 4 Ingredient Vegan, are rich in vitamins C and B6, and that they also contain good amounts of manganese, copper and fiber.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


One of the interesting things about today's ride was that the prevailing winds were from the south and our ride was mostly east-west; therefore the wind was always port or starboard. As a pilot, I understand the need to crab into the wind but it's a technique I never imagined having to employ while riding a bike. We've yet to have a ride this season with winds less than 12 mph; today's were topping out at 23.

Nonetheless, it was a fun one. We rode one of our race courses for pace; it's fun to compare the experience and stats now to when we first started riding the course. I also try to stay ahead of my husband who gives me a little head start. Today he didn't catch me until the last mile (which was a little victory over past rides) and then pushed me to sprint even harder up the final hill.

One of the things I love most about triathlon is that it's a passion my husband and I share. Post-ride we hover over the computer and review our training stats, or kick back with a protein shake (or a beer) and trade anecdotes from the day's ride, the way fantasy football-leaguers compare their player's stats and fisherman tell stories about the "one that got away."

My anecdotes today were two:

1) There was one moment when I nearly had to chose between car and carcass. Along a narrow section of road with a non-shoulder, I encountered a large dead bird (think hawk) that was smack in the middle of the tiny shoulder--metal guardrail a few inches to the right, and solid white line marking the traffic lane a few inches to the left. As I approached the bird, a truck approached from behind and passed just as I was coming up on the road kill--his bumper clearing the bird just as my front tire would have struck it, giving me the smallest window in which to swerve around it instead of over it. Whew.

2) My stealthy riding caused me to (inadvertently) startle a little dog who was wearing a fluffy, little pink sweater and was out for a walk with it's owner who was wearing a big, fluffy parka. It was good for a giggle. (What can I say, entertainment is somewhat limited out there.)

Matt had his own interesting story to share in which a guy driving a truck pulled up to a stop sign and yelled obscenities at him. Unfortunately, this is not the first or only time we've encountered crazy drivers and probably won't be the last, but thankfully these occurrences are rare. Between the wildlife and the wild motorists, it can be a jungle out there!

Today's workout/fun stats:
Ride: 25 miles
Calories burned: 1344
Max speed: 38 mph

Followed by a short brick/Vibram form run:
Run: 1 mile
Calories burned: 127

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Burn, baby, burn!

Yesterday's workout, the first brick of the season, torched over 2,000 calories! With data like that, I'm loving the GPS-watch gadget-thingy.

30-hilly, windy-miles on the bike (almost 1800 cal burn), followed by
2.5-mile fast-paced run (burned another 3oo cal)

Then it was off to the Japanese hibachi to celebrate my daughters' great report cards!

A happy Friday, indeed.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Get hot for your health

I took a break from the usual routine today to enjoy a "hot" time at Bikram yoga; it's an experience everyone should have at least once in their life.

No matter what you're doing (or not doing)--running a marathon, running errands or running after your kids--yoga is one of the best things you can do for your body, not to mention your mind and spirit. To tout all the many benefits of yoga would be a whole separate post, but to mention improving strength, balance, flexibility and focus would just begin to skim the surface.

Initially a skeptic, I began practicing in 2002 and became a certified instructor in 2004 and have been teaching classes regularly ever since. It has changed my life and my health in countless ways.

Random trivia from "As many as 80 percent of Americans will suffer from low-back pain during their lifetime." These were the top three natural techniques recommended for relief:

1. Yoga
2. Acupuncture
3. Heat

Om, it makes sense to make time for yoga.


PS--For more on Bikram Yoga, check out my Dec. 1 blog post:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sweet bread and sprinkles

Today was one of those days where I'd already stalled myself out of a 4-mile run and was down to only enough time for a 3-miler before my kids got home from school. There were so many other things I needed to get done, not to mention I'd already put in time at the pool this morning and was showered and dressed for the day. ('Tis once again the season of "two showers a day," at least when a spit-shine won't do ;)

Then I remembered the sweet bread. (And the fact that today is my husband's birthday and I knew ice cream cake also was in my future.)

Earlier in the afternoon, I'd driven to the CSA to pick up my weekly organic, locally-grown booty: potatoes, green beans, onions, squash, kale, carrots, garlic, oranges/grapefruit, eggs and bread. I had a loaf of herb bread in my hands when I spied the freshly-baked sweet bread and couldn't resist. (Think doughnut, but ten times better.) That squishy, sweet-smelling loaf of bread was sitting on the seat next to me and I couldn't take it anymore, so I tore off a big chunk and scarfed it down while I was driving. It was a-m-a-z-i-n-g!

So, as I stood in my room debating about whether I should change into my running clothes, I remembered the sweet bread and decided I wanted a run way more than I wanted that sweet bread to end up on my butt. Off I went! And I really went for it, too! As usual, it was gloomy and gray outside and just as I stepped out the door, it started to sprinkle but, unlike a soaking downpour, the light, misty rain felt great. So, I don't know if it was the bread, the rain, or the fact that it was only a short run and I had to hurry to make it home in time, but I RAN! The fastest pace I've logged yet this season, including the interval runs, and I was reminded of a saying I'd once heard: "You'll never regret the workouts you get; only the ones you skip."

Today's workout:
1800 yard swim (workout to follow)
3-mile race pace run

Swim workout #5 (1800 yards/meters)

Pre-swim core workout:

Use a mat or towel and lay on deck with legs up against a wall for crunches: straight up for 25, hold last, then pulse for 10. Repeat to left and right. Pull heels away from wall and crunch hips up (don't swing legs) for 25.

Flip over to plank (push-up) position and alternate pulling right kneed to left elbow (mountain climbers) 10-15/side. Drop to forearm plank and hold for 30 sec, then add side knee to shoulder crunch (Spiderman planks).

Warm Up (300)
300 easy, choice

Main Set (1200)
4 x 50, Fly down, streamline kick back
3 x 100, Build (last 25 of each set is a full sprint) @ 20-30 sec rest
2 x 50 V-scull down, kick back (arms at sides). Push ups/pull ups and dips at each wall.
300 Pull
6 x 50 Kick, Sprint flutter kick down, easy breast back
100 IM

Cool down (200)
200 easy, choice

Post-swim tread workout (arms/legs):
6 minutes of deep-end treading as follows:
1st min: basic tread (bicycle legs & scull arms)
2nd min: tread with hands above water, continue bicycle legs
3rd min: tread with hands above water, egg-beater kick
4th min: legs straight down, scull arms only
5th min: legs straight down with butterfly kick for 15 sec @ 5-10 sec rest
6th min: basic tread

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Yin and Yang



Tonight’s chilly, wet and windy 20-mile bike ride was the yang to yesterday’s workout yin.

Yesterday it was 64 degrees outside at noon--cool! I couldn’t wait to get out there and knock out another 4-mile run. After months of running on cold, gray, dreary days, spring weather had finally arrived! With some pep in my step, I threw open my windows, turned on the ceiling fans and hit the pavement, but, as it turns out, it wasn’t cool at all . . . it was HOT!

Welcome to spring in Maryland, a beautiful state that is host to all four seasons of the year, but where the long-awaited spring weather is often served up with a heaping side dish of humidity.

Apparently, my outdoor thermostat was indicating 64 degrees as the temperature in the shade. When I got back from my run--panting, sweating and flushed a shade of deep purple-red-- I checked the actual weather and learned that the temperature was sunny and 81 degrees with light winds and 55% humidity.

Not particularly hot considering the sauna of a Maryland summer that inevitably lies ahead, but for the first warm-weather run of the season after shedding winter’s protective layers, I’ve decided it felt more like Hot-lanta outside yesterday than Maryland.

After the run, the coolness of my basement gym was a welcome retreat. During a 30-minute lifting session, I did sets that worked various muscle groups to fatigue. It must have been effective as I could barely lift my arms to wash my hair last night and I was still feeling it today as I hit the pool for a swim. The first 200 was like lifting lead beams instead of arms, but, ultimately, swimming loosened things up a bit and I felt much better afterward. Lesson learned: you’re never too sore to work out! The oxygen-rich blood flow to the muscles actually aids muscle repair and recovery.

Here is today’s swim workout:

Swim Workout #4 (2000 yards)

Warm Up (200):

200 Free, easy

First Set (750): Pyramid

25 Fly

50 Back

75 Breast

100 Free

125 choice

Repeat, descending (starting with 125 again)

Second Set (850)

150 Free (Easy)

2 x 50, V-scull down, streamline kick back (push up/pull ups/dips every wall)

300 Pull

6 x 50 Kick (Hard free down, easy breast back)

Cool Down (200)

200 easy, choice

Quick & healthy food tip:

Healthy Homemade “Fries”

Got potatoes? Slice them into fry-size slices and toss with olive oil. For white potatoes, add sea salt, pepper and other seasonings of your choice (we add Old Bay sometimes). For sweet potatoes, toss with cinnamon and/or nutmeg. Place on foil-lined baking sheets (sprayed with cooking spray/oil) and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally. My girls love these; they were recently overheard saying, “Mom’s potato fries are the best—they’re even better than McDonalds!”

Also, for those interested in nutrition info on the Power Oatmeal:

500 calories, 54 g carbs, 13 g protein

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Techno training

I am tech challenged, and I've always been perfectly happy to exercise without knowing every little statistic of my workout. In fact, I've always felt that I was better served to listen to my body (and my iPod) rather than try to align my speed with a pre-determined pace.

Well, times they are a-changing. My husband, the engineer, has always been the stat guy. He enjoys plotting our routes on Map My Ride and crunching the numbers for our race courses. Last year he got a GPS watch and can now pull data from the watch and overlap it with the course to find out precisely which hill elicited the highest heart rate.

A few months ago, my very basic digital watch--which, by that point, could do nothing more than show clock time (albeit off by an hour and several minutes) and retained very little of its Velcro ability, finally bit the dust for good. So, I started wearing my husband's watch so, at least, I wouldn't be late getting back to the bus stop.

Surprisingly, I liked it. So much so that now I am a proud owner of a big, hulking GPS watch of my very own. I won't go into detail on all the functions this multi-sport watch provides, but here is a sample of what I learned today:

Today's workout: 30 mile bike ride (I only tracked 27.39 miles of the ride)
Based on miles tracked:
Total ride time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Average speed (too embarrassingly slow share!)
Max speed: 39.6 mph
Calories burned: 1536 (Is that enough for chips & cheese, with some left over?)
Heart rate: (don't have current data on the average, but it ranged from approx 130-180!)

Pretty cool, eh?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Birthday fun

Yesterday's rain and the resulting saturated ground allowed for a much more leisurely morning since all lacrosse games and practices were cancelled.

Today's post will be short and sweet for three reasons:

1) Saturday is my day off. Enjoyed a one mile walk with my daughter and my dog, and threw in a few planks, push ups and squats for good measure (not looking good for getting a second lifting session in this week).

2) One of my daughters is celebrating a birthday; festivities are the order of the day.

3) While using kitchen shears to cut grape stems, I apparently managed to mistake a fingertip for a grape; therefore typing is a bit uncomfortable at present--amazing how many times I hit the "shift" and the letter "a" keys.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Performance Aids

Today I'm giving some thought to performance aids. And, to any guys reading this blog, no--not that kind.

It was an early dismissal day, so lifting got the boot once again. On a more positive note, I only have to get one more session in before Monday to meet my goal of lifting 2x/week during tri season.

With the compressed schedule, I squeezed in a 30-minute interval run. Running has felt awful for me these past few days. When I swim, I'm aided by the buoyancy of the water. When I bike, I'm aided by wheels. When I run, I 'm aided by . . . my iPod? There really isn't much help out there when it's just you and the road and, lately, I feel like gravity is pushing down on me with every step I take. These slow-twitch fibers of mine absorb energy like a sponge. There is absolutely zero Tigger in me; I am most definitely not made out of springs.

So, I guess I'd have to say what aids me most with running is caffeine. About a year ago, I quit caffeine cold-turkey for about six months for two reasons: 1) I'd become totally addicted to it; literally couldn't leave the house without it, and 2) I was following a nutrition program that forbid it unless it was black decaf. This was at a time when I was still enjoying frothy, flavored lattes so, black decaf--what was the point?

The surprising benefit was when I started allowing caffeine into my system again it gave me a total kick in the pants. I realized I could harness that energy and use it to my advantage. So, even though I was back on the bean, I was careful to drink only decaf or half-caf if I wasn't training or racing. However, on race day, I'd serve it up fully leaded and dash out onto the race course like Magda and her vacuum in Something About Mary.

I've been told I have the blood pressure of a teenager. There is a practitioner I see twice a week who takes my blood pressure and my systolic is consistently between 88-92. Well, today I must have gone a little too heavy on the leaded side because my systolic jumped to 100!

I went home and set out for my interval run; and I felt great! In the warm-up phase alone I was pacing one minute/mile faster than I'd averaged during my last three runs. Once I started the intervals I dropped another 15-20 seconds. It was the best run I'd had in a while and I'll take one of those any time I can.

So, tell me . . . what aids your performance?

Today's workout:
30 minute interval run: This was a new one. Warm up for the first mile and then start the interval: sprint for 15 steps, recover for 15 steps; repeat. Save last 5 mins for cool down. This was an extremely effective interval for me, though to an onlooker I might have looked a bit deranged, or like I was being chased by bees. But I was so busy counting steps and trying to control my breathing that the time flew by. Happy running!

Healthy recipe:

Warm Bean Salad

2 T. olive oil
2 c. slivered onion
1 t. dried oregano
1/4 c. cider or red wine vinegar
1 15 oz. can dark kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz. can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 t. sea salt
1 c. chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 c. green pimiento-stuffed olives, sliced in half
Low fat shredded cheese (optional)

1. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute 5 mins. Add oregano, vinegar and beans. Cook over low heat until beans are warm.
2. Remove from heat and stir in salt, parsley, olives and cheese if you wish. (I think everything is better with cheese!) Serve warm or at room temp.
Serves 6.

We enjoyed this with chopped, raw veggies & hummus, and toasted whole-grain bread with a side of olive oil and fresh pepper for dipping.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rest is an essential element of fitness

I woke up today with sore muscles, particularly my core and hamstrings. My initial instinct was to go for a walk to stretch things out and get the blood flowing to these over-taxed areas. But today was my self-imposed time out and I'd made other plans. After a productive morning, I headed out to lunch with a dear friend and then hit REI in search for a second pair of Vibrams. Struck out on the Vibrams but thoroughly enjoyed lunch and a break from the usual grind. So, in honor of today's time out, I'm posting an article on the subject of rest that I wrote in my fitness column for a local newspaper:

I wander aimlessly through the house, bouncing between my computer in the office and the seemingly endless pile of dishes in the kitchen.

Eventually, I try to settle down to read a magazine, except I can’t stop my foot from tapping or my knee from bouncing up and down.

I find it difficult to rest.

As an athlete on the brink of my master’s years, I am aware of the ever-increasing importance of taking rest days for muscle repair and recovery.

From my aching feet to my creaking shoulders and sore muscles, my body is constantly reminding me of this need, yet my mind continues to race through all of the things I could be doing to increase my heart rate and decrease my finish times.

“This is the offseason,” my husband reminds me. “It’s OK to rest.”

I know he’s right, but still I fight the urge to lace up my shoes and head out for a run.

While many people try to talk themselves into exercising, I try to talk myself out of it. When I do finally convince myself that it’s OK and, in fact, beneficial, to rest, I spend the next several hours trying not to feel guilty for taking a day off.

For me, exercising is not only addictive — I enjoy the post-workout adrenaline rush and the sense of accomplishment, as well as a free pass to enjoy that evening’s dessert or glass of wine — but as much a part of my daily routine as eating breakfast or brushing my teeth.

It’s difficult for me to skip a workout because exercising is something I truly crave and enjoy. I am not motivated by a desire to see smaller numbers on the scale or to look better in a bathing suit, but by the satisfaction I get from being active and challenging myself to achieve new fitness goals.

I also harbor a lingering fear that one rest day will lead to two, and then three because, as Newton’s first law of motion states, objects in motion stay in motion and objects at rest stay at rest. I choose motion.

However, I do know the consequences of pushing too far too fast.

Three years ago I was training for my first half marathon and foolishly increased my mileage too quickly. The result was a double case of plantar fasciitis that took over a year to heal and forced me to defer several of my 2009 races.

According to an article in, building sufficient recovery time into any training program is important because it allows the body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues.

With this in mind, I occasionally manage to back away from my iPod and reach, instead, for a book or a magazine, sparing my feet and joints from yet another day of pounding the pavement.

But I know my running shoes will be ready and waiting for me tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Time Out

I'm putting myself in time out tomorrow. Not because I've been bad, but because I've been good; In the past four days I've logged seven workouts. Saturday is usually my day off (if providing taxi service, support staff and sideline cheering for three lacrosse games/practices and tending to the chores I've neglected all week is considered a day off--haha!) however, this week, I'm taking tomorrow off too.

'Tis the season; the "in" season, the "tri" season, the "it's on" season, whatever you want to call it, where workouts start to double up as they must in order to effectively train for multiple triple-sport events. I wrote a column today about "workout burnout" (which I will share on this blog at a later date) and it's humorous to realize I've just started my training for the season--the long, six-month road looming--and already the word "burnout" has entered my vocab.

Another lacrosse mom put things in perspective for me tonight; it's all about adjusting to the transition. Right now, after the long, cold winter months--which is the slowest season for us--charging full steam ahead into this new schedule is a shock to the system. In another month or two, this will become the "new normal" again and by the end of the season I'll be back to not wanting to let it go. (See March 16 post: "Let the training begin?")

So it seems this is a "transition time," one far different than the "transition time" that awaits six weeks from now when I'll attempt to peel off my wetsuit, clip-in to my cleats, fasten my helmet and dash off on my bike in record time.

But after biking on Sunday, running and swimming on Monday, swimming and biking on Tuesday, and lifting and running today, I'm calling a time out and will put a (very temporary) stop to the madness.

Fuel today: Power oatmeal, whole wheat veggie white pizza lunch and dark chocolate almonds, snack of dried fruit and pistachios, and quesadillas (recipe to follow), veggies and hummus for dinner, two oranges and, yes, tortilla chips w/melted cheese for dessert, of course! Have to get my fix ;)

Quick Quesadillas

Cooked chicken, diced (optional. Perdue short cuts makes this quick & easy)
1 small can sliced black olives
1 small can Mexicorn
1 15.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 c. low fat cheddar cheese
1/4 c. light sour cream or plain yogurt
Whole wheat tortillas

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix together first six ingredients. Spread hummus on tortillas. Cover half of each tortilla with desired amount of mixture. Fold tortillas in half and place on foil-lined baking sheet.
Cook for 10 minutes, cool slightly, and cut into wedges.
Serve with guacamole, hummus, sour cream and/or salsa, and lots of veggies.