Monday, May 13, 2013

I Wanna Go Again?

There's a story in my family, that we tell in the context of taking on something scary or overcoming one's fear of something. The story takes place at a small, local amusement park called Idelwild and it involves our youngest daughter, who was probably 6 at the time.

We all were in line for a ride called Rafter's Run and the line was long. Rafter's Run is a water ride where gravity does most of the work, but it's not really a water slide because you ride in a raft / boat and you don't get wet. Anyway, as we climbed higher, towards the start of the ride our youngest started to get scared. Her fear and protests grew with each new platform until finally, she announced that she was not going to go on the ride, she wanted to walk back down. This of course was not possible since the line was basically single file and there were hundreds of people behind us blocking our retreat.

Slowly we moved forward, reassuring her that the ride would be fun, that she would have a good time and that everything would be ok. Finally it was our turn and somehow we convinced her that she needed to get into the raft and come with us. We probably threatened to leaver her on the platform (that's how we rolled back then) but that's another story.

Anyway, we all loaded up in the raft and we were off. She started screaming pretty much right away - Ahhhhhhh! This continued nearly the entire way to the bottom, until the Ahhhhh suddenly turned into Ahhhh-I-WANT-TO-GO-AGAIN. So we did. And then again, and at least one more time for good measure.

So you're probably thinking what the hell does this story have to do with IronMan? Well, I'll tell you. I sincerely wanted to feel this way about IronMan. I wanted to be freaked out and nervous and scared and anxious and all of that crap. I wanted to put myself out there and scream Ahhhhh! at the top of my lungs, and in the end, I really, really wanted that Ahhhhhh! to turn into Ahhhhh-I-WANT-TO-GO-AGAIN.

And finally it did!

It took a little longer than I expected, I think because of the sunburn (yes it's really THAT bad), but I totally and completely want to go again. 

In the week since IMTX I've been floating, hapless, missing something, I don't know... It's hard to explain, but something's not right.

So I've planned out the rest of this season and I'm working on next as well since the big races fill up so damn fast. Options for next season include IMLP or more likely IMAZ since we have so much family in AZ. I guess the other option is IMTX again, but I'll have to act fast on that one since registration is already open.   

So there it is, I Want To Go Again!


Friday, May 3, 2013

Some of my Favorite Recovery Meals

Exercise has always played an important role in my life and recently it's gotten even more important. I have some specific exercise plans and goals, which I regularly talk about here. However, something that I don't talk about that often is the fact that I exercise to eat. This is one of my guilty pleasures and today I'm going to share a few of my favorite things.

Main Dishes
We made this recently, but added roasted butternut squash - it was simply amazing. The squash added just the right amount of sweet without changing or overpowering the original flavor profile. Of course I think roasted butternut squash makes anything better, so keep that in mind. It would also be great with roasted sweet potatoes if you can't find good squash.

Pasta with Chicken, Lemon and White Wine - A Meal to Take to a Friend

For the vegetarian readers, here is a great salad / main dish that we make all the time.  Yes, I realize that the linked recipe calls for bacon and chicken stock but two quick substitutions and it's a vegetarian dish.  As usual, we always add roasted sweet potatoes to this to make it even better.

Roasted Beet and Kale Salad

These are two "go to" salads that we make whenever we can find good cantaloupes or watermelons. Both have a nice mix of carbs and protein, which make them good for recovery eating. Plus they taste great which is key in my book.

Cantaloupe and Cucumber Salad
Watermelon and Feta Salad

I'm a dessert lover, so it only makes sense to include some of my favorite desserts. None of these are really recovery friendly, but since eating is one of the main reasons why I run (and bike and swim) I had to include these.

This torte was oh, so good and it only got better with age, so don't hesitate to make it in advance, if you can keep yourself from digging in early.

Chez Panisse Almond Torte

I am a huge fan of anything that is salty and sweet. I love chocolate covered pretzels and salted caramel anything. I know that blondies are all the rage right now, but these are actually worth calling out. Follow the original recipe and spring for the Maldon sea salt, it's worth it.

Brown Butter Blondies with Sea Salt

If you like chocolate and coffee you will love these. Seriously, like don't make them unless you don't mind eating them all, love them. They are little, crunchy, chewy, chocolate, coffee bites of joy. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Chocolate Dipped Espresso Meringues

That's it folks, this is what I've been eating recently. Hopefully you have had good food on your plate too.


Loving, Learning, Living

You all know that I've been training for about a year now for IronMan Texas. You don't devote a year of your life to a specific goal without actually learning something from the process. This post is me sharing some of the things that I have learned. Enjoy!

My wife is the bomb!
I think all triathletes say this about their significant others (or at least they should). She is tolerant of my training schedule. She is encouraging and pushes me to follow my plan and get in all of my workouts. She attends races and takes pictures and the list just goes on and on. I love you babe! Thanks for everything that you do and that you have done to support me in this crazy sport.

This shit is really easy
Seriously, it's running, biking and swimming, which are all things I learned to do when I was a kid. Nearly anyone can do them. This sport should not be intimidating. You workout, you eat and then you race, how hard can that possibly be? No excuses.

This shit is really hard
Seriously, I spent countless hours (that's bullshit BTW, I counted every damn one of them, I'm just not sharing the total) trying to develop my swim stroke so that I would be more efficient and I still swim like a stone. I also spent hours and hours practicing my race nutrition plan - yes, that means I practiced eating! How great is this sport?! Triathlon is the kind of sport that takes only seconds to learn but a lifetime of work to perfect.

It's much easier to get out of bed if you have a specific goal that you're working towards
I learned this in November and December when I was trying the "just workout when you're motivated to workout" plan, which worked out to be... never.  That was an epic failure and I don't intend to try that again. Set a goal, develop a plan and then follow the plan to completion. Again, not hard, you just have to do it.

Results build motivation, which leads to hard work, which in turn creates results
This is what economists call a virtuous circle and it's a good thing. When you are in this situation, training should be, and usually is easy. You want to get out of bed and see what you can accomplish. There is also something that economists refer to as a vicious circle, which is like this only in reverse. Vicious circles suck are to be avoided at all costs.

4:30 AM is really early
Enough said.

I hate swimming... but I love the results
Oh, the elephant in the room... I hate swimming, always have. That said, swimming is probably the area where I have improved the most (virtuous circle!) so it's something that has been motivational for me this past year. It's also an excellent upper body workout that helps to build long, lean muscles. Plus, it's killed all of my belly fat and nearly all of the dreaded back-fat. Yuck.

Your GPS / heart rate device will fail in the middle of a race
Consider this the "be prepared" tip of this post. If you train exclusivly to heart rate and your GPS/HR monitor dies in the middle of a race (which mine did) you still need to finish the race. Devices are great and I truly believe that if you don't measure it, it did not happen, but you still need to learn / know your body.

Eating AND losing weight is awesome
Again, enough said!

Pin a number on your shirt at least once a year, your body and your brain will thank you!
I probably should have started with this one as it's the one that truly got me into triathlon. You don't know what you're capable of doing until you try. Technically, you don't know where your real limit is until you try and fail, but that's another post all together. Either way, you need to push yourself and grow in order to be happy and engaged in this thing called life. Competing is one way to make that happen and I highly recommend you give it a try.

So that's it kids, that's what I've learned this past year. Hopefully some of my muttering will ring true for you too. Set yourself some goals and then go out and knock them out.


April's Already Gone Away

Man time is flying by! IMTX is two weeks away and the reality and immediacy of it sinks in a little more each day. I've been very task orientated for weeks now, but I still have a scary-long to-do list before I head off for Houston.

From a training perspective, the last week of March and most of April were my last big building block, so April was time and mileage heavy. I’m proud to report that I finished this block both happy and healthy! Plus I made measurable improvements and achieved new distance milestones across all three individual sports.

My mental preparation has gone well also. I've managed to stay motivated and I also forced myself to finish the details of my nutrition and hydration plans. I've been practicing these plans for a while now, but I really wanted to get everything written down and mapped out and yes, I finally got that done.

I've been thinking about what I've learned through this process and there is a blog post brewing.  I've also started thinking about my post IM goals, so keep an eye out for that post as well.

Open Goals:
Back in September I posted a goal about swimming a 1000m TT in 20 minutes or less. At the time, that was a crazy goal, but I threw it out there as something to keep me motivated and to keep me swimming while I decided what I was going to do next. I had no specific plan at the time, but I kept swimming anyway. Once I made my IMTX decision and seriously increased my swimming mileage, my times started to fall. Since you follow me closely, you already know that I have lowered my 1000m time a little bit over each of the past few months and I’m happy to say that in April I finally achieved my goal by swimming a 19:57. What’s even better is that I swam that as part of what turned out to be a 3000m set where my first 1000 was 19:57, the second was 20:12 and the third was 20:55. I feel like I’m ready for Lake Woodlands!

At this particular moment, I don’t have any open goals other than those that I described in my IMTX 2013 goals post a couple of weeks ago.

Now to close with the April numbers since I care even though nobody else does…

18 miles (new training record)
First sub 20:00 minute 1000m time trial! (19:57)

432 miles (new training record)
First 100+ mile ride!

133 miles (new training record)
First 20+ mile run!
Plus a new training PR for 13.1 miles!