Sunday, June 3, 2018

Race Indecision

I've been in a state of race indecision ever since finishing Galveston 70.3.  Race indecision may result when you don't have any upcoming races on your calendar.  Symptoms can include:

*Lack of motivation to train, especially the inability to wake up in the morning to do workouts before work.  What's the point of forcing yourself to do double days when you can swim/bike/run a few hours a week and maintain the facade of being in shape?

*Constant worry and stress about what your next race will be.  You desperately want to sign up for something, but nothing is enticing you enough to pull the trigger.  Those close to you may become tired of hearing about these #triathleteproblems.  

*Generalized anxiety.  You just don't feel good because you are totally out of your routine and your athletic goals are stagnating.  Furthermore, the extra time on your hands allows you to think about other potentially problematic areas in your life further contributing to your overall feelings of malaise.

*Weight gain.  Less time exercising combined with increased caloric intake from foods (and in some cases booze) starts insidiously increasing your body fat percentage.  At the same time you can almost feel your lean body mass depreciating.  

*Inability to maintain watts.  When you do engage in the occasional bike ride you wonder if your power meter needs recalibrating or if you've really lost that much fitness.  

To bystanders, the cure for race indecision is obvious:

For me, this was easier said than done, but I'm happy to report that after 2 months I've finally done it!  I'm super psyched to have just signed up for the 20th anniversary of Ironman Florida!!!  In the end it was the obvious choice given that it's close to home, friends & family will be there, traveling will be low-stress and low-cost, I will be acclimated to whatever the weather is, and my training terrain will be equivalent to the race terrain.  As I mentioned in a previous blog I'm an ambassador for the Tri Dot Training System this year and will be using their training software to prepare for the race.  I'm looking forward to using their technology to train smarter and get faster on fewer hours.  Of course, the ultimate goal is to KQ.  However, I'm not too stressed about that because my back up plan is Ironman Vichy 2019 and I am absolutely dying to go back to France so I can parler un peu de francais et manger des baguettes :-)

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Race Report: Flora-Bama Mullet Man Sprint Tri

Transition Area in close proximity to Main Bar
I ended my last blog post pondering what would be next for me in the wonderful world of tri.  I didn't have to wait too long because I found out that the 22nd annual Flora-Bama Mullet Man Sprint Triathlon was being held this weekend.  I've lived about 5 miles from the infamous Flora-Bama for the past 2 years and have never gone inside.  I'm proud to say this triathlon changed that!

This race was supposed to be a 1/4 mile swim, 17 mi bike, and 4 mi run.  I woke up and was pleased to see my phone said that the winds were only 9 mph.  As soon as I opened the door though I realized my phone lied to me.  There was a gale force wind coming directly out of the east, and by gale force I mean probably 15-20 mph.  The results of this wind were threefold 1) the swim was cancelled and replaced with a 1/2 mile soft sand beach run, 2) the bike had a massive headwind on the way out following by a ripping tailwind on the way back, and 3) the run was 2 miles of tailwind + 2 miles of excruciating head wind.

Before I get into this race I have to mention the amazing pre-race smoothie I made!  So, if you are eating 2 hours before a race you should aim for 2 grams of carbs per kg body weight.  This smoothie provided 433 calories, 106 grams carbohydrates, and the performance enhancing benefits of organic nitrates from beet juice!  AND it tasted great!  TRY IT.

1 medium banana
1 cup frozen wild blueberries
2 pitted medjool dates
2 ice cubes
1 can Juice Performer beet juice (use code 'martine8' to get 10% off Juice Performer at the Amazon store.

I was somewhat out of it before this race and I am not sure why.  I left my house and realized I had forgotten my Garmin, so of course had to turn my car back around to grab that.  Then when I arrived at transition I realized I had forgotten to bring any water!  LOL.  It's not like it's the first time I've ever done one of these!  One cool thing about transition was that because this race was relatively small (~150 people), you got to rack your bike anywhere you wanted!  I scored a spot right next to the bike in/out.

The Swim Soft Sand Beach Run - 1/2 mile - 3:23 (6:46/mi)
I rather enjoyed the fact that this race had an unconventional start!  Don't think I've ever done a triathlon which began with a soft sand run before!  Plus, it alleviated me from having to make the decision of wearing a speedsuit or a sleeveless wetsuit.  When the ladies wave went off (3rd and final wave of the day) I executed my plan of sticking close to the front of the pack and my heart rate was probably about 200 bpm 5 seconds into the race.  Running on soft sand is NOT EASY!!!!  It remained there for the duration of the run and I almost felt like barfing as I ran into T1 in 2nd place.

T1 - 0:58
Didn't dilly dally.

The Bike - 17 miles - 45:53 (22.2 mph)
I passed the first female as she was clipping into her bike to take the lead.  My plan for the bike was to red line it and go as hard as I could.  The bike was the funnest (word?) part of the day!  There were two waves of men already on course so there were plenty of people to pass.  On the way out, as expected, was a relentless headwind.  I stayed aero and envisioned myself punching the smallest possible hole in the wind. I was averaging 17-18 mph.  When we finally turned the corner, the tailwind was a relief.  Riding at 27-28 mph is always pure joy (unless you're descending with poor handling skills, in which case it's sheer terror).

T2 - 0:36
Lickety split!  I saw the second woman pulling into T2 as I was heading out and realized I would have to run hard to keep the lead.

The Run - 4 miles - 27:42 (6:56/mi)
It took me about 1 mile to settle into a comfortable rhythm on the run.  I was trying to bank some speed on the first 2 miles b/c I knew the last 2 would be a slow plow to the finish line.  Hitting the turnaround felt like a 2 min/mi drop in pace combined with a 3 notch increase in perceived level of effort.  I busied my mind with identifying various landmarks along the route and singing different songs in my head for each landmark.

Total Time - 1:18:29 - 1st overall female
Woo hoo!!!!  I crossed the line as the first overall female and 7th place overall finisher.  Not a bad way at all to start the weekend!  I also got to meet fellow Team Zoot teammate Lenny and his wife Melissa.  Congrats to Lenny for finishing 2nd overall and 1st master's man!  I also met their friend Natalie, an uber biker from Lafayette who won 1st master's woman.  We hung out at Flora-Bama for a little while and I'm not sure why I've avoided that place.  It was really cool - live musicians singing classic country tunes, indoor and outdoor seating, gulf-front, and plenty of beer, booze, and Bushwackers flowing from multiple bars.  It might have been my first time  there, but definitely won't be my last :)

I love this mug and think it's hilarious!

Race Report: Galveston 70.3

I picked Galveston as an early season race b/c I figured it would be similar to training conditions where I live in Pensacola FL.  Two of my friends who did the race last year confirmed that it was flat n' windy on the bike and blistering hot on the run.  Perfect.

What a surprise to find out my driving route required a ferry! 

As race day approached, forecasted temperatures kept dropping.  Somehow I had the foresight to pack gear for all weather and thank goodness I did because it was a crisp 49 degrees on race morning!     I had planned to wear either a speedsuit or a short-sleeved wetsuit, but I was thankful that morning that I had also packed my full-sleeve suit, which looked very professional paired with socks & sandals ;)

The Swim - 1.2 miles - 36:28 (1:53/100 m)
The swim was an in-water start and jumping into the water off the dock felt like jumping into a bathtub!  The water was WAY warmer than the air!  Boom - the gun fired and my age group took off. The water was rather choppy and crowded.  I never found any good feet to draft off of yet never seemed to have clear water either.  The course felt long and when I checked my watch it confirmed that I was in there longer than I had expected to be.  

T1 - 3:44
Taking off that wetsuit was not warm.  Burr!!!!  My transition was a little longer b/c I chose to put on my finisher jacket from IM Chattanooga, a headband to cover my ears, and gloves. 

The Bike - 56 miles - 2:46:16 (20.22 mph)
The bike was a flat out & back on a road that paralleled the coastline.  There was one bridge, but it was not much to write home about - I was expecting something big and scary like Perdido Key Pass, but it was basically a flat little thing over some marshland.  On the way out, there was a massive tailwind.  It would have been easy to over-do it and pay big time on the return trip, but I forced myself to stay within my goal watts.  It started raining about 5 miles out from the turnaround.  At first it was lightly misting but later on in the race I noticed that my jacket sleeves were completely saturated.  As soon as I turned around the wind whipped hard into my face.  I knew it would be a much more grueling trip back to T2.  Although the headwind was tough, the worst part was how much colder it felt!  I was so thankful I was dressed for winter and have NO IDEA how some people were out there in only a tri suit!!!???  My hands got so numb that I had to stop at the aid station and have a volunteer refill my bottle.  My fingers lost the ability to change gears or effectively break towards the end of the ride.  However, I was pleased that I was able to maintain the watts I wanted to and didn't die in the last 10 miles.

Thank GOODNESS I packed this coat! 
T2 - 3:02
This transition was pretty darn slow b/c my hands were incapacitated d/t cold.  Thankfully there was  a very friendly volunteer who undid my helmet strap and put on my running number belt for me!  Thank you!!!!!  I kept my gloves on and headed out on the run.  

The Run - 13.1 miles - 1:37:08 (7:24/mi)
At this point it had warmed up to somewhere around 53 degrees - still WAY too cold for a Floridian's blood!  I started running and noticed my feet were numb and felt like ice blocks.  I started running behind a woman who was clipping of 7:30 minute miles and figured that was a good start.  I've been working on regaining speed lately but was really unsure of what I'd be able to do off the bike.  After the first loop of the run, my feet and ears had thawed out and I ditched the gloves.  I also took a caffeinated gel which was quite possibly the best decision I made the entire race.  I felt like I was the run leg of a relay team for the next 4 miles!  The effect wore off a little for the third and final loop and I had to dig in to get to the finish.  I was pleased that I had been able to maintain slightly sub 7:30  pace and wanted to carry that out to the end.  

Total Time - 5:06:36 - 9th of 107 in Age Group
I finished in 5:06:36 and was very pleased with this result.  It's the fastest 70.3 I've race in quite a few years and I have good reason to believe the new training platform that I've been using, TriDot, is working quite well.  In fact, I have accepted an ambassadorship with TriDot and will be doing a post soon on the ins and outs of this training/coaching software.  Overall, it's allowing me to train fewer hours while increasing speed.

Shout out to my friend Sharon for finishing 2nd in her age group!!!  Sharon you are a total rockstar and I had such a fun time with you! :)  

I'm not quite sure what's next for me but I need to figure it out soon b/c it's driving me crazy.  I don't like not having my next race on the docket.  I am deciding between doing another Ironman or a couple of 70.3s to build speed and maybe try to qualify for 2019 70.3 worlds in Nice France because I've been DYING to go back to France for quite a few years now!  La France me trop manque!  

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Plant-Based Protein Sources

Recently, two things happened that spawned this blog topic:

1) One of my ultra-fit friends who is training for an Ironman asked me about how she could boost her protein intake from plant foods.  


2) I watched an amazing presentation by Dr. Garth Davis (author of the book Proteinaholic which is definitely my next read) on vegan diets & protein intake.

The response to my friend's protein question has to be prefaced with this golden nugget:  the first nutrition priority for endurance athletes is getting adequate calories.  If you boost protein without consuming enough overall calories to support your training, it won't help much.  Spreading calories as evenly as possible throughout the day is usually the best way to get them all in, breakfast - snack - lunch - snack - dinner - snack or snack - breakfast - snack - lunch - snack - dinner, depending on your schedule.  If you were aiming for 3000 calories/day, this would equate to about 750 calories/meal and 250 calories per snack.  Secondly, out of the three macronutrients in foods (carbs, fat, & protein), the one that gives us energy and we need to eat the most of as endurance athletes is carbohydrates.  Skimping on carbs will leave you feeling tired and your muscles without any get up and go (because they are depleted of their glycogen stores).  Good carbohydrate sources are:  fruit, potatoes & sweet potatoes, corn, peas, beans, and whole grains (quinoa, oatmeal, barley, bulgur, millet, brown rice, etc).  Whole wheat bread can also be a good carb source - Ezekiel is the brand I've been buying and they also make tortillas and pitas. 

OK, so on to the protein issue at hand.  Typically needs for an endurance athlete are 1.2 g/kg.  So for someone like me at ~125 lbs, that is 125 / 2.2 = 56.8 kg * 1.2 = 68 g/day.  That is much lower than a lot of people *think* they need to eat and are so worried about getting.  If I spread that out evenly throughout the day it would be 17 grams per meal and 5-6 grams per snack, pretty easily obtainable numbers.   Remember that the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range of 10% of total calories from protein meets the needs for ~98% of the population.  Now, protein sources.  Here are some excellent ideas for getting more plant-based protein:

*Beans - Beans are an incredibly healthy food and you should aim to eat three 1/2-cup servings daily.  It is worth trying as many types as possible to find out which ones you like the most.  Any type of bean is good and some you may not have considered are lentils, split peas, peas, chick peas (these can be roasted in the oven for a salty/crunchy snack), edamame, and hummus.  You could also try disguising beans by making something like black bean brownies!  Then you feel like you are eating a yummy brownie but the starch in it is coming from beans rather than flour and it is higher in protein.  I've tried a few recipes that I've found online.  Wish I could give you one that's great but never wrote any down; some are definitely better than others. 
*Nuts - In a nutshell, these provide healthy fat, fiber, and protein.  Include a wide variety of nuts in your diet and enjoy the use of nut butters!  Cashew butter and almond butter can make things more exciting if you are tired of the same ol same ol peanut butter.  Nuts also increase longevity - hip hip hooray!

*Seeds - Reap what you sow by eating these plain as snacks, sprinkled onto salads or other main dishes, in a home-made trail mix, or buy the blended versions (sunflower seed butter) which you could then spread on whole wheat bread and/or use in a sandwich. 

*Whole grains - Whole grains are a really really good source of healthy complex carbs, fiber, and protein.  Quinoa is a buzz word among whole grains b/c it is high in protein - this is b/c it is technically a seed not a whole grain but whatever, it's healthy.  Go to a health foods store and hit up the bulk foods section - you will see tons of whole grains that maybe you have never tried before - millet, bulgur, teff, wheat berries, barley, spelt, etc.  These can be eaten as a side dish or put into any soup or stew.  You can also make a hearty breakfast out of them, instead of using oats, for ex - qunioa with cinnamon, walnuts, and chopped apples, mmm.  

*Vegetables - Leafy greens are about 30% protein!!!  Eating leafy greens daily is super important.  This could be in the form of a salad, cooked greens, mixed into soups/stews, or in a green smoothie.  All vegetables have a good amount of protein in them, so make sure to up your ante on veggies.  If you don't like veggies start by trying 1 new thing per week until you gradually find things you like and can expand your palate. 

*Tofu - This is protein packed.  You can buy the firm or extra firm and use in stir-fries and other main dishes.  You can use the silken tofu which is a lot softer in sauces and smoothies.  Again, just like with the black bean brownies you can find yummy recipes, like vegan cheesecake and pumpkin pie, that use silken tofu if you want to disguise it!

*Seitan - Seitan is gluten, which is the protein portion of wheat.  You can make your own seitan which is a lengthy process or you can purchase it pre-made at health food stores.  Seitan has a very chewy texture similar to turkey.  Use it in place of meat in recipes.

*Tempeh - Tempeh is a fermented soy bean pressed into strips.  These strips have a much denser texture than tofu.  You can purchase the strips pre-flavored at a health food store or a regular grocery store.  I used to buy the bacon-flavored tempeh strips, cook them in a skillet, and then use them instead of bacon to make a BLT, which I called a TLT!

*Faux Meats - These are things like fake chicken strips (Gardein) and fake hamburgers (Beyond Meat) that are easily replaceable in your diet for the regular version of the food.  They are not my top go-to protein source b/c they tend to be highly processed. I feel that eating these things 1-3x/week constitutes moderation. 

*Vegan Protein Powders - These are typically made from soy, rice, pea, hemp, or other vegetable proteins.  Just like with the faux meats they are processed so they are not my #1 recommendation.  However, they are convenient and easily added to non-dairy milk or smoothies if you are just not able to get enough protein or are in a rush to get something in quick after a workout. 

Lastly, keep in mind that ALL FOODS contain amino acids, which are the building blocks to protein.  This essentially ensures that as long as you consume adequate calories you will consume adequate protein.  Consider when I did the fruitarian diet...fruit is about 10% protein on average.  If I was eating 3000 calories/day of straight fruit, that means 300 of those calories were coming from protein. Since there are 4 calories per gram of protein that means I was consuming 75 grams/day, which is greater than the 68 g/day that I gave you in the example calculation above.  

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Purple Carrot

One of the coolest gifts I received for Christmas this past year was a subscription to Purple Carrot from my parents (thanks Mom & Dad!!!)  When I opened it I was really excited because I have always been curious about trying a home delivery meal service (Blue Apron, Green Chef, Plated, etc) but have shied away due to the lack of plant based meal options.   On the contrary, Purple Carrot is completely vegan!!!  It was like a second Christmas the day my box arrived at my doorstep!

The fully insulated box was filled with goodies and had two gel freezer packs in the bottom to keep everything within the time-temperature safety zone.

Each week of Purple Carrot comes with three 8.5x11" recipe cards for 3 unique recipes.  This week's menu was Socca Pizza, Spicy Red Curry Ramen, and Vietnamese Tofu Bowl.  All the ingredients were partitioned by recipe and were in sachets of the exact quantity called for by the recipe!  The only ingredients needed from my own kitchen were olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Two of the three recipes were absolutely delicious!!!  Yum yum yum were the Spicy Red Curry Ramen and the Vietnamese Tofu Bowl!   I struggled with my pizza when I decided to skimp on the oil in the skillet that the pizza was cooked in, resulting in the crust clinging to my pan as persistently as gum on the bottom of your shoe :)  I improvised and used a spatula to pry the crust out and turned the dish into a pizza salad of sorts.

Socca Pizza

Spicy Red Curry Ramen

Vietnamese Tofu Bowl

I will leave you with my opinion of the pros vs. cons of Purple Carrot...

1.  Delicious meals!
2.  Explicit, easy-to-follow directions on large pretty recipe cards that you can keep for future use
3.  Quick - time from start to table was ~30 min
4.  Eliminates the question "What am I going to eat for dinner tonight?"
5.  Fun and exciting to try new meals that you wouldn't normally make with ingredients you wouldn't normally buy like bamboo rice (which was green) and daikon radish
6.  Each meal featured a hefty portion of leafy greens in some way
7.  Fresh, high-quality ingredients
8.  Each meal makes 2 filling servings (hiya leftovers!!!)
9.  Set weekly menu.  I know some people might consider it a con that they can't pick and choose their meals each week, but I like pretty much all foods so the set menu concept for me is yet another simplification in the process of feeding myself by eliminating decision making.
10.  Variety.  I can't attest to this personally yet, but I heard from another friend that she has been using Purple Carrot for a few months and has not gotten a duplicate recipe yet.

1.  My only real gripe is that these meals were a lot higher in fat content than I am used to.  I try to get my fat from whole foods like nuts, seeds, and avocados.  I have quit using oil to sauté foods and now only water sauté or sauté in vegetable broth. All of the recipes called for what I consider large amounts of oil and two of them had veganaise.  To get around this you could simply use less oil than the recipe calls for - just don't do it with the Socca Pizza!  ;)
2.  Cost - $72/week

Overall I am a highly satisfied customer and am waiting in eager anticipation for Wednesday when I receive my next box!