Tuesday, May 22, 2012

VEGA

I've reached that point in Ironman training (I swear it gets earlier every time…) where I'm constantly hungry.  I've finally learned in the past couple of years just how important nutrition is.  I stopped thinking about exact ratios or math or crazy calculations of what I think my body needs.  I've tried most methods of recovery drinks, high protein, blah blah…. But honestly, I just think everyone has to figure out what works for YOU, not what the latest fad is, for instance… It seems like lately everyone is scared of sugar.  While I have given in to the latest craze and followed the advice of some of my friends who recently took a nutrition class, I just will never be someone who can follow a diet.  I eat what I LIKE, I eat when I'm hungry and I really really really try to make good decisions, but I mostly never restrict everything, or don't let myself have something if I want it.

Let's not talk about that piece of chocolate cake I had Sunday night after my 17 mile run. #soworthit

Last year I learned how to properly fuel MY body on the bike so that I could RUN.  Taking the advice of my BSC coach,  (apparently ~20 years in the sport - you figure stuff out!) I learned that I have never ever ever ever fueled myself enough on the bike, and guess what?  I ALWAYS HAD SHITTY runs.  

Case in point:  After about a month training with Michelle, and my first race was on the schedule, I wrote (first time ever) a race plan.  She read it, and like the good little teacher she is (yes, I totally got RED highlighted corrections, er suggestions back) she made some edits.  #1 take away was MORE FOOD.  She told me she wanted me to have about 750 calories consumed on the bike.  The plan for me that day was to be on the bike < 3 hours.

I force fed myself, not to the point of being uncomfortable, but definitely more than I would have done any other day.  I got in just under 700 calories and then also had 3 gels on the run and guess what?  I PR'd that race and had my best half IM run by 10minutes.

I followed the eat more plan and eventually got used to it.  My bike rides got stronger and I recovered faster for the next days work (and no I did not gain any weight). Unfortunately, at IMCDA my stomach had shut down after the freezing cold swim and I only got in about 2/3 my planned calories leaving me in a horrible deficit on the run, turned dry-heave fest and a lot of walking…. 

Anyhow…. This year I've made a lot of other changes.  While my husband has been trying to work off the 25lbs he put on by drinking beer recovering from injury, I was working on trying to have the best solutions in the house for him to do so.  Nuts, Cheese, tons of veggies & fruit.  Basically a lot of real food, vs quick easy options for him to grab when he's hungry and in a hurry.  I changed our dinners a bit and instead of always having a grain (My staple is a 3 section meal;  protein, veggie, grain or carb).  I added quinoa for extra fuel instead of sweet potatoes or any sort of pasta or other starchy grain.

Slowly but surely the weight came off, and we both started feeling so much better!  I added juicing in the mix to build our immune systems (sick of being SICK) and I feel like we are both in the best healthy state going into our last 3 months of Ironman build!

The one thing I seem to be missing is my recovery food after these crazy long workouts.  I've tried them all, but my stomach disagrees with most of them.  I gave up on typical recovery drinks years ago when 99% of them having whey protein in them cause allergic reactions and me fighting my throat closing up and throwing it up.  I got used to making sure I made my perfect smoothie recipe (brown rice protein, rice milk & pb,  or eggs right after my key workouts and it worked.  

That is until recently.  There is a product, VEGA, that I've read about numerous times on Hillary Biscay's blog.    While I'm not a vegan, and don't follow a gluten free diet in the least, I have found that plant based foods and my body agree with each other the best!  I can't tell you how many times I've looked on line at the products, but never ordered honestly, because of the price.  I did however pick of the "Shake and go" smoothie a while ago to give me a little pick me up after swimming so I didn't have an epic bonk before I got home.  I liked the flavor, it brought me back to life after my hard swims and allowed me to get home and make a reasonable meal vs shoving whatever I could quickly get into my belly!  

Another thing I really liked is that it's not a heavy drink, or a meal replacement.  It's only ~90 calories, 10g of plant based protein and also has 2 servings of veggies.  Add one scoop to a glass of water and done!  Much better than downing yet another power bar!  Unfortunately, I kinda forgot about this product until recently.  I don't know if I got lazy, or cheap but I'm back with it and the name has actually changed to Vega Energizing Smoothie.  It's quick, easy, and best of all it TASTES good!

There is another product Vega makes called Vega One  While, I've tried it and liked it, I haven't been using it on a regular basis because I'm so in love with the next product I'll go over below.  So, the combined protein I'm already getting along with my juicing (saved for another post) I feel like I'm getting a whole lot of what I need already and it doesn't need to be subsidized.  That said, the next time I travel, Vega One is going to be in my bag for sure.  In addition to the protein what attracts me to it most are the added vitamins & minerals, greens and probiotics.  I know that no matter how hard I try when traveling, I never feel as good as I do at home on my regular eating and sleeping routine.  I can't wait to see what a difference this product makes!

I've saved the best for last.  My new super post workout fuel is from Vega's sport line.  While they have a ton of products in the sport line and I had a wonderful rep give me samples to try out, this one stands out above them all!  I have to thank my friend Jen, a loyal Vega user for the sample she gave me after a heat/sweat fest long run in Mexico last month.  After sweating out enough water weight that I may have PR'd my long run weight loss (kidding!), she gave me a serving of Vega's Sport Performance Protein.  Overheated, low on calories, dehydrated and just maybe a little bit hungover this drink brought me back to life.  I felt amazing the rest of the day and woke up the next day not sore, or feeling any sort of fatigue from the run.

I was SOLD.

I don't typically follow what people are doing with fuel.  I eat and drink what I like, and what my body craves.  I don't restrict on much of anything (although I probably should) and I don't take my diet all that seriously (my family might have a different story on that - but anyone who knows me well, knows better!).  What I DO follow is what works, works.  Tried and True, this product is awesome!  I just wish I had found it earlier…For years I wish I could down Ultragen or Endurox, chocolate milk or whatever else everyone was always raving about for recovery, but the simple fact was my body couldn't handle it, but now I've got my magic little potion! 


As always, I love to share my favorites, so I couldn't wait to write this post!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Not One More

 Every cyclist in the Phoenix area and community have been talking about the horrible accidents that have seriously injured, and/or killed far too many cyclists in the past year.  I have to admit, until this past year I was not aware of the magnitude of this problem.  Ever since last year when our local pro runner turned pro triathlete and icon, Sally Meyerhoff was struck by and truck and killed during a training ride, it seems like these tragedies are happening more frequently.

Maybe it's because I'm aware of this situation more, maybe it's because of the amazing awareness that people like those of the "NOT ONE MORE" foundation are getting out there.  Maybe it's because these accidents are starting to hit a little bit too close to home….

Our most recent death of a cyclist happened 3.8 miles from my house.  Yes, I know the exact distance because it's a road I ride my bike or run on 3-5 days per week.  The road has a great bike lane, stop lights and a lot of local foot, bike, and auto traffic.  It's near a school, a community center and access to some of our most beautiful desert trails.  It's a safe road.  Or, so we thought.

A man was struck by a distracted driver during the middle of the afternoon, while following all traffic laws, in the bike lane and wearing a helmet.  People lost their father, husband, brother, friend…

A couple of weeks later a group of 3 guys were out on a short training ride in Mesa.  They were struck from behind by yet another distracted driver.  They too were following all traffic and safety laws, but there was no warning, no way to avoid being struck.  This time, for me, this wasn't just another local citizen that was struck.  This time, this was personal.  The leader of the ride (front rider) is a very very good friend of mine.  Someone I've known for ~ 10 years.  My old teammate from my first running & triathlon team.  Shane's running/training partner.  I've met at his house before, and ridden my bike with him on that same road he was struck, and nearly killed on…

Yes this one was too, too close to home.

Prayers were answered and the 3 cyclists overcame life threatening injuries, and while they will be on a very very long road to recovery, they are thankfully all with us here today.

This past Saturday, a group called "NOT ONE MORE"  organized an event, Ride of Honor and Cycling Rally to:
* Building Awareness for Cycling
* Promote Sharing the Road and Safe Cycling
* Show Lawmakers that Cycling is Important to their constituents to pave the way for legislative change, including  Distracted Driver statutes and Vulnerable User bills.


There were several meetup places throughout the valley where large groups of teams, clubs, friends and strangers met up and rode together to our capital for the rally.  It was an amazing site looking at all of the cyclists coming together for our community.

At 10am we met for speeches from the event organizers, state representatives as well as the 3 injured athletes above.  It was something I will never forget.  It was moving, it was disheartening, it was a reality check seeing some of the names on the list of those cyclists that weren't so lucky...
If you take nothing else away from reading this, or if you were fortunate enough to take part in this rally, just remember that one of those names could be you, or me, or that training buddy you just talked to on the phone making plans for your next ride.  Be safe, follow the law both in your car, as well as on your bike.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tempe Int' Tri

I had a rough week leading up to Tempe International.  Another family member was diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer and I honestly just couldn't bring myself to feel anything.  With Mother's day coming up, I had no idea how much my emotions would come into play with the race.  I had no idea what to expect.  I was so not myself all week.  I was cranky, and on edge (being a girl really sucks sometimes…) and honestly scared of how I would deal with my first mothers day, without a mom to call.  


We typically do a bigger celebration of her birthday and mothers day, our last big one was a couple of years ago when my sister, niece mom & I all went for Sunday brunch at the Camelback Inn.   My family is no fuss type when it comes to fancy dinners and high end details, in fact our vacations growing up were weeks spent camping at Priest Lake.  Sunday Brunch at the fancy resort was right up my alley so I was loving it (pretty sure mom did as well)!

I woke up race moment and logged on to Facebook.  Mother's day post after Mother's day post… At first I was mad.  I was angry about what happened.  I was sad.  I got teary eyed and my HR started soaring.  Then, I wrote a post about my mom, and uploaded one of my favorite pictures from a few years back and somehow felt better.  I thought about my sister and how much she had done to help with my dad and my family over the past 2 months, and how she must be feeling today.  I thought about how my niece must be crazy missing her Grammy and how sad I was, but at the same time how fortunate I am to be healthy, to be happy.  I reminded myself how blessed I am and that I was going to go do what I know how to do best, and work my hardest.  Do what makes me happy and give it my all.

My legs were rested and recovered from the Answer and I began to feel pretty excited about the race, emotional stress aside.  My mom in my thoughts helped me push my limits for my last couple of races, so I figured she would be right there doing the same thing this weekend.
I don't do a lot of return races (IMCDA is an exception), so I figured it would be kinda cool to compare my fitness improvements over last year.  My main goals were to have a solid run, not be a grumpy pants about the heat, and *hopefully* PR.

The swim was great.  I had on my new TYR Hurricane sleeveless (first time wearing).  It was comfortable and fit like a glove!  I feel like I worked HARD.  I fought for position and while I couldn't keep up with the first couple of girls in the pack I was ok with my spot.  Found some feet and just stayed there, still working.  At one point I felt like I was too close to the wall of the lake, so I did a bunch of sighting and saw what I thought was the first turn buoy so I headed to the right a bit.  When I was about 10 yards from it I realized how close the people going the opposite direction were and that's when I realized I made a mistake.  I looked to my left and sure enough there was the buoy and I had completely missed it.  I aimed right for it and SPRINTED to get back to it.  I guess I backtracked about 75-100 yards.  I did my best to not get pissed, or frustrated and honestly I think it helped me have an even better swim.  I rounded the two main turn buoys and began passing a ton of people.  I would see a pink (my wave) cap.  Aim for it and pass it until I caught my last one on the last turn and then dialed it back just a hair to not over do it and save some for the long steps up to transition.  I was out of the water at just over 24mins, only about :10 slower than last year.  I'll take THAT will the extra distance. 

The climb up took me about a minute.  I was a little disoriented and the steps were crowded, I actually had to zig zag around people walking up.  I didn't have the speediest transition, but it wasn't too slow either.

I made the decision to not wear a garmin, just a watch.  Once again, so glad I did.  I just raced.  Unsure of how far back I put myself being the girls I was hoping to push me on the bike, I just started picking people off.  My legs really hurt on the first loop.  I had to dig deep to make them go hard.  I finally felt alive on the second loop and felt like I could pick it up a bit and passed a couple of more people.  I was a little bummed when I came into transition with a bike split just a little bit slower than last year.  I seems most of the times were a bit slower (minute or so), so I'm ok with that!  I'm really getting comfortable on my new bike, and she is going to match our new club kits as well!  win win

Quick T2 and I was off.  I was passed within the the first mile by the same speedy pants as last year and just did my best to keep her in sight for as long as possible (not long).  I just did my thing.  I grabbed water at every aid station (multiple cups) and kept myself wet and cool.  I never felt like I was overheated or wanted to stop, in fact I felt stronger on the second half.  While my run wasn't what I think I can do - it was definitely faster than last year, I may have even negative split it AND, it helped me get a very very small PR for the Olympic Distance.


I finished 6th OA female and 1st in AG.  It was a strong, hard, solid effort and I have no regrets.  If I couldn't spend the day with my mom, there is no other place I'd rather be, or thing I'd rather be doing than pushing myself and reaching new goals.

Our team won the state Club Championships, and "best looking award"  I'm pretty sure we won the biggest bar tab at the award ceremonies as well ;)








Wednesday, May 9, 2012

#ilovetheheat #embracetheheat

I've decided I'm done complaining about the heat.  Yup, simple as that.  I'm a whiney biatch about it lately.  I've been in Arizona for 12 years now, which basically makes me local by now I think.  I figure if I stop complaining about being so hot, I can still get away with complaining about freezing my ass off.

I have seriously great logic sometimes.  Just sayin'

Anyway, I realized how much I've been complaining about the heat lately because I keep getting these little responses to my training notes from coach BSC about ebracetheheat, lovetheheat, blah blah blah.  Pretty much what she is saying is "SUCK IT UP, you live in Arizona for crying out cloud, of course it's going to be warm."

DUH.

So, this weekend is the infamous Tempe International Triathlon.  It was my very first ever Olympic race (well, slightly different, but same time frame and logistics) back in 03.  I nearly died.  It took me 3:30+ minutes to do the race.  I remember starting the second loop of the run and yelling to my running coach that "I would rather run a marathon, ANY day!"  I was undertrained, overheated, probably didn't drink even a bottle of water on the run or bike, AND the swim course got screwed up so I swam my furthest distance EVER on that day.  1.2miles instead of 1500m.

I remember feeling like I was going to pass out after the race, dry heaving and being sick all day long.  In fact, the fire department/EMT people were looking pretty appealing.

I don't know if that day ruined me mentally in the heat, or if I'm just weak;  but ever since then I've been completely and irrationally afraid of being too hot and racing.  I let it get to me.  I fall apart.  I bitch and moan.

This weekend I had a little turning point.  We headed to my favorite getaway home for a nice long weekend vaca.  We had some fun and athletic friends with us so we made it a little mini training camp full of open water swims (yay, I actually swam in the ocean TWICE and didn't die!) and a couple of good runs.   The schedule called for an up to 2:20 long run on Sunday and a progression hour run Friday.  My logic was that I would do the long run the first time I woke up not hungover.  Brilliant, huh?  Well I woke up Friday morning feeling pretty not hung over so decided to get er done.  As soon as we started we were soaked, covered in sweat.  We stopped back at the house after an hour and refilled water.  I took in some extra calories and 2xe21 (I heart you www.recoverye21.com) and we headed back out.

My long runs have been a pretty good pace lately so I did the math and realized I would be close to 16miles if I finished the whole 2:20.  This quickly changed as the heat wore us all down and our water was dwindling.  With the breeze at our back one direction, the only saving grace was knowing that we'd have a slight headwind to cool us down on the way back.  Clothes soaked through, Shane hit an incredibly rough batch at mile 12.  He was seeing stars, goosebumps, out of water.  I had just enough to get me back home so I couldn't really give him any, but I remembered seeing some friend's of ours car just a block or so away so I told him to WALK, get water then I'd go get the car and pick him up.

I turned of my brain, tried to embrace the heat and not think about it.  Wouldn't you know I was able to negative split the run and finished completely coherent and believe it or not ALIVE!

Right then and there I decided that this heat thing, for the most part, was all in my head.  Clearly if my body can handle 85 degrees and 90% humidity with a slight hangover it can handle a whole lot more.  So, this weekend my mantra will be once again, "suck it up buttercup."  Yes, it's going to be hot.  Yes I'm going to want to walk.  Yes I will think I'm going to die..

But guess what?  I won't.  Sometimes I swear I am my own worst enemy!

#embracetheheat   #ilovetheheat  #suckitupbuttercup


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Answer to the Challenge #3

You know the saying "it just keeps getting better" - I really believe it can be applied to just about everything.  This was my third experience with the Answer to the Challenge and in so many ways, it was the best.  While I won't ever forget each year (as much as I'd like to forget year #1 when I almost
died), the memories from last weekend are definitely on the top of my favorites list!

The day started off at 6 am when we dropped our bags off - The picture below shows what we had to look forward to (with the exception of day 3 when we get picked up after 60 miles).




















Unfortunately (and fortunately) ony 15miles into the ride my partner in crime Theresa hit some rumble strips on the highway and crashed.  I was in the way way back still trying to get comfortable with the big group we had going so I ended up not seeing any of the accident.  I darted out and around the bikes as they slammed on their brakes and avoided everything.  As soon as I saw what had happened my stomach sank.  In the impressive group of cyclist we had an EMT, Bone Doc & PA.  They did a quick examination on T, and for the most part she seemed ok.  However, her head was buzzing (multi-cracked helmet and bouncing across the road will do that) so we had one of our wonderful SAG drivers take her to the hospital to get checked out…

The next hour or so we were all a little tense, but eventually everyone settled into a groove and we continued on with our journey.  The weather was perfect.  Warm, sunny & very little wind.  At mile 65 we got word from T, that everything was OK!  The mood lightened even more and we were back on the road for a good 15mile climb into Payson.

The Answer Girls!  What a great group of gals to do this adventure with!


We had an extended stop in Payson for sandwiches and Bitty's - Can you say impressive self supported SAG?  This crew really knows what they are doing!

The last part of the day is a ~20 mile climb up to Strawberry with the most difficult part in the last 3 miles.  Fortunately it is STUNNING scenery.  Fun, winding roads and again, perfect weather.  I tend to feel my best at this part of the day.  Good pacing, and fueling didn't disappoint and I finished day 1 ~94 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing feeling STRONG.

It didn't hurt having this fantastic "Bitty Train" of strong boys pulling us for a good portion of the ride!  The entertainment was just as impressive.

The majority of the group (Bitty crew) rented a house in Pine, so we headed down there for a big catered dinner.  Last year we found a great restaurant in Payson that caters and that has been a savior for our starving tummies!  There may or may not have been more cocktails, but at least we had lots of carbs to soak it up…..  just sayin'



Day 2 is always epic.  You start with a ~10mile climb out of Strawberry.  It's usually pretty cold so I was completely over dressed, but I'd rather be safe than miserable like last year.  After the climb you have a few rollers then a 25+ mile descend down into Camp Verde.  My legs were feeling pretty good (THANK YOU e21), and I got lucky and caught the boys draft as they hauled ass through the rollers.  I managed to dig deep and stay with them the entire way down and avg'd 20mph for the first 60 miles.  I did my best to refuel before the epic climb (~13 miles) up Mingus Mtn.  

My climbing has definitely come a long way in the past year and I'm pretty sure I had my best climb ever up this  mountain getting to the top in 1:33.  


Saturday night was another adventure, dinner, drinks, and a little tour around the infamous Whiskey Row.  Some stories are better left where they took place.  Again, just sayin'

Day 3 was a little harder getting back into the saddle, but the weather (again) was perfect and I knew the first part of the ride is the most gorgeous.  An hour or so climb up and out of Prescott - Here's our group at the top of the last climb…..  Picture PERFECT.

















We left late that morning, and since the rest of the event had twice as much road to cover as we had planned the SAG was long gone before we got to the stops.  The Bitty Crew has the best support everywhere they go, and I just feel lucky to get to tag along with them.  We had our own SAG support with everything we could possibly need and want.  















We finished the ride all feeling strong.  Those bad ass boys pulled us all the way into Wickenburg, 60 miles in just over 3 hours.  It was a Bitty Train for sure.

It was another epic weekend with some of the most fun, nice and generous people I've ever met.  I'm ecstatic at where my fitness level is with 4 months left before my Ironman.  I feel like my cycling is reaching a new level and I still have time to build.  

Until next year…...