Thursday, July 9, 2015

A day in the mouth – Part 1

There have recently been a few articles about what pro triathletes eat on daily basis.  I like many of you enjoy reading such articles and/or blogs and I for one reason or another felt the need to share what “I” as an elite level age grouper consume on daily basis.

For one, I want people to know that I that the reason I am thin, is NOT because I do not eat or deprive myself of food but rather the level at which I train, and also because of my genetics!  I actually love food, and I love to eat – just ask any of my friends.  

I am fit and strong, and I do NOT starve myself. I eat to fuel my body to perform its best day in and day out, and just because you won’t find me eating McDonalds every day or drinking beer or wine every night, it doesn’t mean I don’t eat. (Confession - I am not a beer/wine drinker, and never was. The reason I don’t drink is not because I am afraid it will slow me down, but because I just don’t enjoy the taste! You may however see me consuming way more bread than you ever thought was possible. Why? Because I love it! )

For seconds, I actually really dislike the word “diet”. I am firmly behind the “Everything in moderation” approach. Not giving body what it’s asking for over and over again, will only make you miserable and such approach is simply not sustainable most likely resulting in severe weight fluctuations.

Yes – I am skinny; Yes – I have low body fat; Yes – People still talk about me behind my back (See it doesn’ t matter what shape you are, people will always talk), but I am OK with it. I am comfortable in my own skin, and that is KEY! Yes – I am careful about what I put in my body but I love food, and Yes – I EAT (a lot)!   Food/nutrition is a big part of my training and racing!

I adjust my calorie intake up and down slightly depending on how many hours per week I train, but here is a peak into what I end up consuming on most days during my typical training week of roughly around 16 hours. I picked a random Tuesday which is representative of every other day during the week even when the training may vary slightly. 

6:00 am:  Banana  (8oz of water)

6:30 am: 2500-3500y swim (20 oz Water)

8:45 am: Bowl of oatmeal with a scoop of Chocolate protein powder mixed in to aid in muscle recovery and, cup of fresh fruit (I prefer fresh strawberries/blueberries or blackberries) as berries tend to be lower in sugar vs. other fruits, and most importantly I love berries! I also add a scoop of Coarsely Ground Flaxseed that are rich in Omega 3s and also help with decreasing cortisol levels as well as cholesterol and blood sugar levels.  (I may sometimes add an egg white or two for more protein too) Thank you InsideTracker for helping me figure out what is right for ME! (Blood don't lie) 

11:00 am: Snack. I want this snack to fill me up, but also be light enough so that I can either have a quality short run around lunch time or good SMART session to loosen up the body.  I usually go for Brown Rice Rice cakes (Lightly Salted) with Skippy Natural Peanut butter and sometimes I also add a banana. (There may also be just an extra spoon of peanut butter because I am just a little addicted ;) )

 You may have to tilt your head but I just cant' get this photo to rotate! 

 12:45 pm: 30 min super ez run to loosen up the legs, after the long weekend of training OR SMART session/SS also knows as some quality time spent with foam roller, lacrosse balls, theracane and bands for a good stretch.

1:45 pm:  Lunch. My go to is a sandwich consisting of bread of course (I absolutely LOVE bread and could live of just bread and butter if I had to), Applegate’s all organic natural turkey or chicken breast, mozzarella or provolone cheese, little bit of hummus (my favorite is the  Sabra roasted pine nut), ¼ to ½ of fresh avocado, and I also add a boiled egg white for little extra protein. I then either have a baked potato (regular or sweet) cut up and fried in a little bit of olive oil, or when lazy, I reach for the “Original Green Pea Baked Crisps” my new favorite for a little added crunch pictured here! And finally I always have an apple and can’t forget to hydrate so another 20oz of water. 

4:30pm:  Afternoon snack. My afternoon snack usually consists of a cup of white greek yogurt with cup of fruit and cup of Nature’s Path Organic Coconut Chia Granola! Another great combination of protein, carbs, and fat to fuel the body for the evening workout.

I usually get home around 6 or 6:30 and on my way home (I spend way too much time in my car) I may snack on hand full of almonds.

9 times out of 10 take a quick power nap. By 7:00 I am on the bike for the hardest session of the day so it is really important I fuel well all day!

7:00 pm – 8:00 pm Bike Interval Workout. Although only 1 hour workout, this one packs a punch and works up the appetite. It’s usually something fun like 6 x 4 min intervals with 45 sec rest at 105% of your critical power with the last one hopefully higher and pretty much all out at that point. Depending on how I feel I may either eat a PowerBar Gel right before the workout, and I always have 2 bottles of fluids – 1 with water only, and the other with 2 scoops of Perform to keep the energy high and the legs moving. 

8:30pm:  Dinner. Since this is a late dinner night, I try to keep the dinner on the lighter side but still packed with calories.

Not your average salad

Mix of sweet/regular potatoes

 It’s not just your average salad, and my go to few nights a week for sure. Salad consists of: Mixed greens, kale, shaved carrots, cucumber, strawberries/blueberries (sometimes sliced apple), avocado, walnuts or shaved almonds, feta cheese, ½ large baked potato + ½ large sweet potato cut up and fried in olive oil, and for protein I usually mix it up with either salmon burgers, tuna fish (pictured above), grilled chicken breast or steak depending on what I am craving that night. (I may need to invest in “oversized” plates because I usually have a hard time fitting all one, but definitely not in my belly)

There is always bread on the side (I prefer fresh baguette if available) and I also like to have a piece or two of three or 4 of dark chocolate.

I try not to eat the whole thing, but I can ;) 

Mmmmm dark chocolate - especially when it's from your homeland!

10:30 pm – 11:00 – Protein Shot – 8oz of Chocolate or Regular Coconut Milk with a scoop of chocolate protein powder (20g of protein) to aid in muscle recovery so that I can do it all over again the next day. Unfortunately I usually can't wait to guzzle it down, and always forget to take a photo! 

At the end of the day, I am looking at anywhere around 3300 – 3500 calories coming from real food and that number goes up as my training hours go up as well.

I end up eating very similar on most days during the week. When I am a bit more on the go, I tend to reach for easier to carry snacks, and my new favorite pre-training snack are the Bobo bars! If I have to drive to a workout and then have a drive home, a protein packed snack I tend to reach for are the Betty Lou’s protein balls! You can get both at a great price through one of my sponsors RacePak! If you haven’t checked them out, give them a try!   

I don't leave the house without snacks (EVER!)

I hope this showed you that food is very important part of any endurance athlete, and is not bad for you! We all have our guilty pleasures, and there is no need to go crazy to go fast. Eat up folks because skinny doesn’t mean fast! Fit, strong AND healthy means fast!

Next up Part 2 – which will give you an insight into what I eat during the weekend when the training hours are longer, and there may not be as much time for real food, and Part 3 – how I fuel my body on and around race day. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Patriot 70.3 Three-peat Race Report

This was my 3rd year in a row racing the local Patriot 70.3, and I had two goals going into it. One was to win the overall title, and two – to finally break the 4:30h barrier. I have consistently been getting closer and closer and although this was my 2nd half ironman in just two weeks, I knew Patriot is a fast course, and I had the tools to make it happen.

Racing local is always fun, and especially fun when majority of your teammates are also racing! Seeing so many familiar faces on race morning makes the time go by very fast, and before I knew it, it was time to get in the water.

THE SWIM: 34:31

I started in the elite wave which only consisted of maybe 12 people. My swim is still not where I would like it to be but I keep chipping away at it and getting better. I knew there were a few swimmers that I wanted to keep up with and hopefully let them pull me around the course, but that went out the window very quickly. I started off swimming hard, trying to grab the feet I wanted but unfortunately those feet were drifting left, while I was drifting right and I just couldn’t quite latch on.  No problem –plan B – swim your own swim, keep the effort moderate, and swim STRAIGHT! I did a good job of that on the way out to the first turn buoy but then it happened!  I thought I made the 90 degree turn but apparently I didn’t and just kept on swimming straight and completely away from the course. I know, it doesn’t make any sense, and I can’t quite explain what happened either. I simply made a mistake that cost me at least 2 minutes.  Czech it out. 

Pay attention to the top right corner! 

I sighted and even though I couldn’t see any buoys I somehow just  reasoned to myself that maybe the buoys were hiding and I just couldn’t see them “yet” What a dumb idea! Eventually I started to panic a little because regardless of where I looked I still couldn’t see the buoys or any people for that matter! Saved by the kayak who eventually ended up catching me and showing me the way! The buoy line was so far left that it wasn’t even funny! Live and learn – I can guarantee you it will NOT happen next time.

I was way frustrated about the distance I just added on, and probably over sighted on the way back to make sure  I didn’t get lost again! I literally thought my swim time was going to be at least 40 min, so when I saw 34:xx  on the clock, I felt a little better but still disappointed! 

 Loving my new Helix! 

Loving my new Castelli Stealth Top 

T1: 1:43

Wetsuit off, potato/rice cakes in my pockets and out.

THE BIKE: 2:21:57 (3rd fastest bike split including men)

Frustrated from the swim, I got on the bike and started to push the pace a bit. My legs felt good, and even though I was at the higher end of where I wanted to be power wise, I just kept powering through. This is a two loop, fairly flat course with no major climbs, but with a bit of turns that can snap your rhythm if you let it. It’s also a very lonely course, but that’s what happens when you are racing off the front. I kept my head down, stayed aero, stuck to my nutrition plan and just kept pushing on. 

Staying aero was the name of the game 

2nd loop was a bit more crowded and I even got to see my athlete Jerome and Ruthanne both crushing their first 70.3s. Unfortunately when going over a set of railroad tracks on the 2nd loop, I managed to hit them just right and both of my bottles (1 – Gatorade, 1 – water) ejected at least 12 miles from the next aid station and I was left without any fluids. I had a good rhythm going so I decided to go on without picking up my bottles (big mistake).  My power continued to stay right where it was on the first loop, but as I kept moving forward I realized that fueling without any sort of fluids for so long is far less than ideal. I managed to get down the extra potato/rice cake I had, but that was it. When I finally made it to the aid station around mile 46 -48, I grabbed water and set out to catch up on the lost time. Given my extraordinary sweat abilities, there just wasn’t enough time to catch up, and although I managed to get in couple gels in the span of 20ish minutes (probably too much too soon), the damage was done.  To make things even more interesting, I also managed to hit/get hit by a thankfully very slow moving SUV. I was taking a 90 degree left hand turn, and the car was coming from the left hand side going straight through the intersection. I am an aggressive rider but I always watch the cops to make sure they stop traffic, and I could tell this guy wasn’t sure. In his defense, he probably didn’t realize how much faster I was coming through versus the people he was used to waving through for the last half an hour, but it was definitely scary.  I was already leaning left into the turn, with my left knee out and saw he wasn’t stopping. I tried to correct where I was going but not very successfully and I ended up slamming into his right front bumper/hood/light. Thankfully, we both managed to slow down enough that although the impact was a bit loud, I was able to leave the accident with only a few bruises and my bike was untouched since my left calf/quad took most of the impact. The impact knocked me over to the other side, but I managed to unclip and stay on my feet. I was so mad at the moment, that I immediately got back on my bike, put my head down and rode away. (Probably should have checked myself and my bike first, but I figured I'll do that while moving forward). The cop wanted me to pull over, but since I felt fine, I just got back on my bike and powered toward T2. I dropped my power a little bit after that incident but was able to keep my head in the game and re-focus.

All business here 

Thumbs up! 

T2: 2:14

This is one thing that I wish was changed as the dismount line is VERY far from the bike racks and you have to run on a grassy area with your bike for a very long time. This year even longer than years past. Since I leave my shoes on the pedals as I dismount the bike, my shoes are always a grassy/muddy/dirt filled mess when we are re-united post race.  

THE RUN: 1:33:37

I had high hopes and confidence for this run given my run training and my race 2 weeks ago at Quassy, but it became apparent that the events of the day (mostly consuming ½ of the fluids I normally would in a 70.3) were going to get the best of me. My HR was super high right of the bat, and no matter how hard I tried, it wasn’t going anywhere. I was taking in water and coke essentially every mile, but I just had very limited energy. Every time I tried to pick up the pace, I ended up going slower rather than faster! Since I was the 1st female, and 3rd overall human on the run course, it was also very very very lonely. Noone caught me, but I also had noone in my sight to catch. Good thing I got to see my coach every once in a while on his bike because he at least kept me pushing even if it didn’t result in the time we both knew I could run.  

Focused and ready but the energy just wasn't there 

I had long ignored my watch, because I knew that neither one of my pre-race goals whether it be running at least a 1:28 half marathon nor breaking that 4:30 70.3 barrier would happen.

It was about taking it one mile at a time and giving it all I had on the day. I crossed the line with my new course 70.3 PR (3:30 faster than last year), new 70.3 PR of 4:34:01 and a new PR of not peeing once in a 70.3 – Can you say “dehydrated”?

That was a painful run 

Hard to be disappointed with winning with a new 70.3 PR and I am not, but I know there is much more where that came from, and so now I go back to training, because by Timberman 70.3 in August, 4:30 won't stand a chance!

Oh that banner - that heavy banner! 

Three-peat baby! 

Thank you to all my sponsors – Landrys bicycles for always being there when I need something;  Trek for one speedy machine, PowerTap for the watts;  BlueSeventy for the most comfortable and fastest wetsuit that I love so much I decided to swim a bit extra in; PowerBar for keeping me fueled; EC3D for helping me recover day in/day out; RacePak for all the healthy snacks to keep me fueled every day;  Beet It for that little extra kick;  and of course Coach Jorge for coming up with the master plan to help me continue to get faster year after year, and all of YOU who either came out to support or followed from the comfort of your own home.