Monday, February 27, 2012

Chilly Cheeks Duathlon #3 - Race Review

AKA "why am I racing in the winter?"
AAKA "my run training plan is to only run during races.  Maybe this isn't the best plan...."

This was the third and final installment of this duathlon series.  I signed up for this series for a few reasons:  
  1. to keep me a bit sharp (maybe not as dull would be more appropriate) and to ensure that I rode/ran at least once a month during the winter.
  2. I got free sweat pants that say Chilly Cheeks.  The sweat pants are ok, but they'd be even more awesome if the race name was on my ass instead of down my leg.
And the race series did fulfill both of these reasons.  Was it fun? eh.  I suspect it would have been WAY more fun if I knew people who were also racing.  For some reason, most people in my club did the running distance series.  I had no interest in training for 10 mile runs this winter, so I did this instead.  And I have lost all my running base, so perhaps this wasn't the smartest decision.

The premise of the race is that it will be held, snow or shine.  Saturday, we had both.  We had a "suprise!" snowstorm on Thursday.  Weather forecasters said a "dusting" and we had ~8 inches or something ridiculous.  Then Friday was sunny and warm, but not warm enough to melt all of the snow.

Per the pre-race safety meeting, the bike course was clear, except for a tiny (and avoidable) patch of ice at the turn around.  If you were paying attention, the ice should be easy to miss.  The run course was "3 inches of fluff"  and a small frozen "lake" for the trail portion and clear on the road portion.  And the sidewalk going from the bike dismount line to transition was snowy too.

I dismounted on the clear and dry street and walked my bike through this.  No way was I going to ride.
 I set up in transition. It took me a bit to get orientated, as it seemed illogical that the RD would have us bring our bikes along a snowy sidewalk into T1.  I set up where I thought was a good spot (and DRY) for easy racking in T1 only to realize that I was at the Run Out entrance.  Not so convenient.  So I moved next to an aisle spot close to the snowy sidewalk.  Very convenient.  And also very snowpacked.

Buzz isn't so sure about this snow stuff....
 I set up transition like normal.  Small towel as the base, then shoes, gloves, water bottle, etc.  It did not occur to me that it would be above freezing and sunny.... and that nice snowy base would turn to slush.  Making all of my dry gear wet and cold. Awesome.

This race was a 10.8 mile out and back bike and a 4 mile run.  There were ~200 participants, and they started us off in waves of 10 people, 1 minute apart.  As karmic payback for last month's first wave, I was in wave V.  Start time was 10:00... my wave was at 10:21.  Super!
Notice the aero helmet and the mountain bike...... Yeah, I don't know either.
The bike wasn't anything exciting.  Legs felt ok, although I had to granny gear it up some hills.  (I don't know if that was me being out of shape or what).  It was pretty windy, so that made things a bit interesting.  The race was held at a state park, and there were signs all over the place making it very clear that there was a bike race in progress.  Well, after I went past the east entrance road, some d'bag woman in a pickup truck decided to yell "get in the bike lane" at all of us, individually, as they passed us.  I wonder if she finally figured out what was going on as they drove past a pack of cyclists that were ahead of me.  She had plenty of room and hello, its a state park with tons of runners and cyclists.  Clearly, she had anger managment issues.  I did see where they parked - by an RV.  Not sure who RV camps in February, but the whole thing was very random. 

The park is ok, but the back half of the road has these very annoying asphalt patches that go across the entire road (and bike lane) every 3 feet, essentially creating a tiny speed bump.  Its annoying.  And gets really irritating as you are jarred every 10 seconds or so.

The turn around was a non-event, the ice was easy to spot.  And the whole bike was pretty much a non-event. 

Bike time: 39:34 / 16.2 mph
142/202 OA, 20/29 AG

I clipped out early (on the street) as there was no way I was riding my bike on the snowy slushy sidewalk.  The girl in front of me (walking her bike) nearly fell, as her bike got caught in a slush-rut and decided to go its own way.

I was pretty cold at the start of the race.  I had on black tri shorts, black running tights, my favorite light, long-sleeved shirt, my Zoot windproof jacket, and my full cycling gloves.  I got warm towards the end of the bike, so I chose to ditch the gloves and jacket for the run.  I didn't want to just chuck my stuff in the slush, so I probably took a bit too much time hanging my jacket up.

T1 time: 3:53

Lucky me, the start of the run was all uphill.  And as an added bonus, the first 2+ miles were on the trail, which had 3 inches of "fluffy" snow.  Funny thing happens when you're in one of the last waves and ~180 people are ahead of you.  Fluffy snow turns into slush.  Lots of it.  The run was a mess.  And I am in a serious run-training hole.  I couldn't even go 1/3 of a mile (uphill) before my HR blew up and I walked.  Sad.  And pathetic.  But I had a feeling this would happen and never had an intent of being competitive in this race, so I just took it easy.  I was crusing along and ran past some non-racing runners and I heard "Hey, is that Erin?!?!"  Turns out it was this girl I had met during the Denver RnR half marathon who is doing IMTX this May.  Random!  She and a friend were doing a 16 mile training run.  Even funnier, she intended on emailing me this week for IMTX advice.  I ran with them for ~1 mile, which helped to pass the time.  I basically gave her the same advice that her friend was giving (friend: SEE, you should listen to us!").  I also told her about the Pacu fish that someone caught in Lake Woodlands about a month before IMTX, likely giving her fodder for nightmares for the next few months.  Whee!  We parted ways and I was by myself in the slush.  Boo.  I came across a girl who was walking and said something encouraging to her.  She was young and didn't seem to be having a great time.  She managed to hang with me while I ran and chatted my ear off.  Turns out she was in 8th grade. Sigh. (I did hear her parents say at the finish line that she sped up, so I'm taking credit for that).  The rest of the run was on pavement.  My feet were wet but the rest of me was hot.  I debated stopping to put a fistful of snow down my shirt but didn't feel like stopping.  The finish was mostly uphill, but I toughed it out and ran the last mile.  Or did something loosely resembling running.  (getting back into running shape is going to suck).  And then the very non-exciting finish line. 

Run time: 49:45 / 12:27 pace (wah-wah)
171/202 OA, 27/29 AG

Nothing too exciting, mainly because I didn't know anyone.  Got some snacks (homemade banana choc chip bread for Will) and got my stuff.  Which was now soggy because all the snow had melted.  Learned a lesson that I need to bring plastic bags with me for snowy races, as my race gear... and also the bottom of my transition bag, including the things inside the bag, were wet and cold.
Turns out towels get wet when the snow melts... and the rest of your stuff gets wet too!
Overall stats:
Time: 1:33:32
162/202 OA
24/29 AG

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Team Sun-Rype

I'm sponsored!!  Again!!

Yesterday, I recieved a very happy email about my being accepted to Team Sun-Rype.  Woot!  This marks my third team in 3 years through Active Ambassadors. 2010 was with Team Jamba Juice and 2011 was with Team Sony Walkman.  Sony ended in January.  Normally the Active teams want fairly competitve people.  I am not one of those people.  At least in the traditional sense (I'm not fast).  I always put on my applications something like "I'm not fast, but I like to have fun".  Most of the time, it doesn't work.  Occasionally, it does (or, most likely in the case for Sony, all of the top athletes were already matched with teams, so the pickings were slim).

Sun-Rype was the first ambassadorship that opened up in 2012 and I did not have high hopes, because usually, the early teams go towards podium-type athletes.  I felt that this team was a good match for me, though, as their product is 100% fruit.  Since switching to paleo, I'm really trying to cut out fake food, and thought this sponsorship would be a good one.  I mean, who wants to be promoting a product that you don't like or can't eat?  Not me!  Sun-Rype must have thought I was a good match, as they invited me onto their team.  I looked at the athlete contract - its through Dec 31, 2012.  A full YEAR!  I was going to buy an Altitude Multisport tri kit this year (since I am on the Board of Directors), but it seems like I will be wearing a sponsor kit instead.  Hopefully its nice and colorful (instead of grey... *ahem* sony *cough*)  (and, I do still intend to be on Team Beef for Boise.  Really, I just want a tri top that says "BEEF" on it).

Not quite sure what sort of promo materials I will get.  I'm assuming I'll be getting some tasty fruit snacks to hand out :)  The athlete meeting is next week and I'm super excited to learn about my new team for 2012.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Paleo Diet Update

I started eating Paleo/Primal/Caveman/Clean/[whatever label you want to stick] since the week of Christmas. Not one of my better ideas. But I survived. I started eating this way for a few reasons:

  1. My metabolism hates me. Even with meds for my thyroid and insulin sensitivity, I can’t lose weight. I’ve had doctors tell me to workout more (?!?!) and when I tell them my workout schedule their eyebrows go way up. And then they tell me to eat less.  Helpful.  My metabolism is broken. I only lost 5 lbs during my IMTX training (ironically in the last month of training) and my clothes really didn’t fit all that much differently.
  2. I already know that soy and beans to not agree with me. Beans = feeling like I have food poisoning. Soy really screwed up my hormones. Do you know how hard it is to stay away from soy? It's in EVERYTHING!
  3. I went to a triathlon seminar a while back where the speaker was a dietician talking about nutritional periodization. A lot of what she said really rang true to me. Eat real foods. Limit grains during the build portion of your training. Train your body to burn fat.
  4. I’ve had some good friends switch to eating this way with really good results.
  5. With my hypoglycemia, I eat fairly low carb already and try to avoid sugars. This really seemed like a natural progression in my eating habits.
For those who don’t know, the paleo diet means no grains (including legumes), no processed food, minimal sugar, no (or some) dairy. Lots of meat, lots of fruit, lots of nuts, lots of veggies. Also: lots of cooking. I’m cooking a lot more than I used to.
So its been nearly 2 months. I really didn’t notice that much of a difference. I had some energy lags during workouts that are pretty common initially. I have maybe lost a bit of weight, but I’m not sure. I really wasn’t sure that eating this way was benefiting me much. Until we were in Idaho last week for my father-in-law’s funeral. Saturday, I had bread/pasta with EVERY meal. Sunday, my gut felt awful. REALLY awful. I had some sort of grain every day for 5 days. And my poor gut felt it. Bloated, cramping, overall feeling icky.

Those 5 days pretty much told me that I really do not need to eat grains.

So, what do I eat in a typical day?

Breakfast – apple with almond butter. Peanuts = legume, and are therefore off the list. I like Justin’s Nut Butter in maple almond, but I could make my own just as easy (and probably cheaper).

Lunch – mixed greens, meat (usually chopped up lunchmeat), hard boiled eggs, olive oil. Vinegar is iffy (depending on which paleo website you read). I didn’t believe it, until I put vinegar on my salad and felt awful 2 hrs later. So, my “salad dressing” is olive oil and maybe a squeeze of lemon. This lunch is easy and I can bring my own from home or hit the salad bar at work.

Snack – 2 clementines (I love Cuties!) and mixed nuts.

Dinner – meat and veggies of some sort.

Dessert – dark chocolate. Right now I have dark choc covered almonds which are way too good and they need to go away. Alternately, I’ll cook a fruit crisp with some sort of fruit, honey, coconut and a crumb topping with coconut flour or almond flour.

What are the challenges?

In the beginning, I struggled most with breakfast. I am NOT a breakfast person. Very few things sound good early in the morning, and still, sometimes I’m almost gagging as I eat. Also, I’m not much for savory foods in the morning. At first, I was eating a few hard boiled eggs, a Clementine, and some sausage for breakfast. But the eggs were hard to get down, were a pain to peel, and got really, really old really, really quick. Then I tried to make mini-egg “muffins” – egg, sausage, veggies, sweet potato. Did not like those at all. Then some blueberry muffins with coconut flower, which were just ok but left me wanting real muffins. Finally settled on the apple/almond butter combo. Its easy to bring to work, I don’t have to make anything, and really, I could eat this about every day. For now, at least. Weekends I’ll play a bit, making paleo pancakes, omelets, etc.

I’m trying to limit my carb sources. Cutting out bread isn’t that hard (as long as it's not in the house. You can’t eat it if its not there!). I miss noodles. I will have rice noodles occasionally (paleo websites say that if you have to eat a grain, rice is the best choice). I did find some crazy-good red yams at the grocery store. I do oven “fries” with them. Slice into wedges, douse in olive oil, sprinkle on some Hawaiian red salt, bake until done. TASTY. Again, I could eat these every day (but really, I shouldn’t). I also try to be creative with food. A good example is fajitas with guac. I’ll buy tortillas and chips for Will, but I forgo the tortilla and use red pepper and carrot sticks instead of tortilla chips as my guac delivery device.

Most paleo says you should give up all dairy in the beginning and introduce it slowly. I can eliminate all dairy except for my half and half in my coffee. I tried the coconut creamer stuff. It was nasty. I really don’t think that my splash of creamer will destroy my efforts. Also: a bit of feta in my salad or in my burger/meatloaf is tasty. And if you wonder, why give up dairy? Just do a bit of reading on modern dairy practices and all the nasties that go into milk. You’ll be giving it up. Really, milk is nasty.

Eating out, eating while traveling, eating with family is HARD. Eating out isn’t so bad as long as I pick the appropriate restaurant (ie Italian = fail) and make smart choices. Eating while on the road is impossible. Qdoba bowls (without rice) are about the closest thing to paleo as I could find. However, good luck finding Qdoba while driving from Denver to Idaho. Also: Qdoba bowls are impossible to eat while driving. So are salads. So, nasty fast food burgers or chicken sandwiches or whatever was at the highway exit was what we ate. Ugh. And finally, explaining my crazy eating habits to Will’s family is impossible. Especially when the person cooking dinner (who is AWESOME and I love) decided to give up any meat which the family did not raise (they’re ranchers), and dinner is a vegetarian stroganoff with pasta and bread. You should have seen the raised eyebrows at breakfast when I turned down toast. Essentially, its “eat what is placed in front of you or go hungry”. Basically, paleo is easy to do when you can plan, but its really hard to do on the fly.

Beer, technically, should be on the “food to avoid” list. But I love beer. So, for now, I drink beer guilt free.

 Tasty dinners I’ve made:

 It helps that I’ve had access to kick-ass meat, thanks to beef from Will’s family and meat from my CSA.

Grass-fed Idaho pot roast. Brown the roast in a pan. Put in a crockpot with onions, shrooms, and carrots. Add in half a can of tomato sauce (no sugar), some wine, and some salt. Cook for 10 hrs on low. Boil up some potatoes and serve as a side dish.

Sausage and sauerkraut. My favorite little grocery store has chicken sausage in all varieties for $2.99/lb. CHEAP. And they’re made with real ingredients, no crappy filler. Back in December, I didn’t know what to do with my 4 heads of CSA cabbage, so I turned them into sauerkraut. It was a bit scary (open air fermentation and the only thing I sterilized were the glass jars). But it turned out TASTY. Just put some sausages in a pan, add in kraut and maybe a little beer, then simmer on the stove for ~30 to 60 min. YUM.

Miscellaneous ground beef stir fry. I got a bunch of gluten-free asian sauces. Basically, sauté your veggies and set them aside. Sauté your grass-fed ground beef (or stew meat). Add veggies. Then add your sauce. Could be salsa, could be a tomato based sauce, or it could be some sort of curry. What you will end up with is something tasty (mainly because grass-fed beef is TASTY) and easy.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Will on a board

This winter, I've asked Will to really, truly, give snowboarding a try.  In years past, we would only have one day per year on the mountain.  He would take a lesson (sometimes) and generally be frustrated by his lack of progress.  Understandable.  So this year, I've asked Will to really give it a chance.  I bought a 4-pack of lessons and have a handful of lift tickets.  We went at Christmas (lesson) and he was placed in the next level up from "clueless" (which was the group I was in).  His instructor said he was ready to move up another level by the end of the day.  Two weeks ago we went with a group of people and he got tips from my friend who boards.  My friend said that Will looked pretty good, he just needed practice to get confidence.

I have 2 Copper pre-paid tickets and 2 more lessons at Winter Park.  Lucky for Will, that means another 4 chances at boarding.  Saturday was looking like a beautiful day, so I kind of twisted his arm and we headed up to Copper.

I felt that, if we got him on some blues that weren't too long, he could get some speed and really have a chance to figure things out. The area off the Timberline Lift was perfect for that.  Nice blues, long enough to practice on, but not so long that you get totally tired at the end and die.

How could you not LOVE skiing with views like this?!?!
We started the day in West Village, took the Union Creek lift up and did a warm-up on a green run.  He was all sorts of fail on that green run.  It really made me nervous for the rest of the day.  I also felt really bad for him, he was struggling and I don't have the slighest idea on how to help.  On the lift back up, I asked him to think back to his lesson in December, to focus on the steps and to not get overwhelmed.  We took a green run that connects over to Timberline.  He looked better, but not great.  I asked Will if he wanted to try a blue or stick with greens.  He said blue.  So we went down Copperfield, which as I remembered from my powder day last month, had potential to be fun.  Suprisingly, Will did much better.  There were still a few wrecks, but he was a bit more relaxed and was turning.  I managed to find a bunch of tree trails and jumps, so I'd go off and play for a bit, and pop out every once in a while to make sure Will was ok.  We did this run another couple of times and realized it was noon.  Time for lunch!  Rather than heading back down to the base, we ate at the cute little grill next to the lift (mid-mountain).  I really love this place, especially when its sunny.  Today it was SUPER sunny and temps were in the mid-30's.  Perfect for eating outside on the deck, soaking up sunshine.  Eating outside on a sunny ski day is about one of my favorite things to do in life.

its documented - he was smiling while on the hill!  (during lunch....)
After lunch, we headed back up the lift and did a different run which had a steeper pitch at the start of the run.  That went really well - he was getting the hang of turning on both edges and was a bit more relaxed.  He also skidded down the steep pitch because it was scary, which meant that we had to do it again.    That time wasn't so good, as Will twisted his knee somehow.  And he was getting tired.  We agreed that this was the last run (besides the one to get to the base).  Will was nice enough to hang out on the deck by the lift while I did a couple of quick bomber runs.  I felt the need for speed!

And I almost manage to jack up my left knee on the first speedy run.  Flying over an unfamiliar hill (which small semi-moguls and crud) may not have been the smartest decision.  Fortunately, the knee is completely ok today.

After two bomber runs (I was so fast, Will thought I had only done one!) we took the green run down to the base.  The cool part was that the green run was the VERY same green run we did at the start of the day.  And Will managed to go down it without wrecking.  Woot!

We wrapped up at 2:30, headed back to Denver by 3.  Traffic is usually very crappy on the way back in, but suprisingly, we made it back home in 1.5 hrs.  Cool.

Will wasn't "I LOVE SNOWBOARDING" this day.  But I was really happy to see improvement and progression.  Next time, we'll hit WP so he can get a lesson.  He needs an intermediate lesson so he can figure out how to be comfortable going faster and when doing steeper stuff.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

only good things from here on out

I am tired of my life resembling a sine curve.
what's a sine curve, you ask?
Two weeks ago, we had a Superbowl Weekend Ski Extravaganza.  Will, myself, Will's sister Amy, Will's cousin Chase, and our friend Deanna had planned a weekend get-away.  We rented a house with a hot tub, pool table, and 42-inch tv for the weekend and I had procured cheap lift tickets to Copper Mountain and Winter Park.  FUN.

Mother nature tried to foil our plans with SNOWPOCALYPSE.  Chase's original flight was cancelled due to snow.  Then his late flight was delayed because Micron's CEO crashed is airplane at the airport he was leaving from.  Deanna had a stressful drive down from Boulder with snowy roads and I-25 closing down due to a wreck.  But once we got people in our house, life was good.  Saturday morning, Chase, Deanna and I took off for Copper Mountain.  Will stayed behind to pick Amy up from the airport and then head up to the rental house.

Skiing was EPIC.  The snow wasn't that great, but we had great fun.  We closed the lifts down and headed to Tabernash and the rental house.  Good dinner, fun conversation, a soak in the hot tub, and a roll in the snow.  Although, I managed to cut my big toe open on something in the snow.  Thank goodness I have thick calluses, as it didn't cut too deep. 

Sunday was Winter Park with the whole gang.  Amy hasn't skied in 13 years, Will is still pretty new on his snowboard, and Deanna brought her skis along (this is her first year skiing).  We went as a group, hanging pretty much on a green run.  I got a bit bored and taught myself how to ski backwards.  I got pretty good and was actually skiing backwards faster than some were skiing forwards.  It was a beautiful sunny day and everyone had a blast.  We came home to an amazing beef roast (crock pot) from Chase's family ranch and ate yummy food and watched the Superbowl. Tried to soak in the hot tub, but the breaker tripped overnight (and Will couldn't get it to reset until morning), so it was a bit chilly.  And then the breaker tripped again and wouldn't reset.  So, we decided that was a sign and went inside.  Chase and Deanna started some sort of flirty thing, which was cute and really sweet (and I'd be lying if I didn't say that it wasn't REALLY entertaining, but in a good way). 

Monday, Chase, Deanna, and I went over to Mary Jane to ski some hard stuff for a while.  Will and Amy hung back and we had arranged to meet them for lunch in Idaho Springs.  Again, skiing was EPIC.  Trees and bumps.  And tired legs from 3 days of skiing.  Then it was down to Idaho Springs for a late lunch at Tommyknocker, and then a lot of trying to stretch out the rest of the day.  We all had so much fun, and with Chase leaving that night, I wanted to give Chase and Deanna as much time together as possible.  So we windowshopped and hung out at a dive bar.  Finally, around 4, we split ways.  But before leaving, Amy dared Chase to kiss Deanna.    No hesitation at all.  In fact, he almost slipped on the ice in his excitement.  And now they've been outed.  Fun.  Then back to Denver, hanging out at the Breckenridge tap room to wait out traffic, and then dropping off Chase at the airport.  Really, this weekend was the most fun since I can't even remember.

Then Tuesday, Amy was still at the house, planning on flying up to Idaho to see their dad that night.  (We placed Carl in hospice care a month ago).  Then Will got a phone call from hospice.  Carl's heath was declining and he likely had days to live.  We went from EPIC fun weekend to sadness and heartache.

Carl died on Wednesday afternoon (Feb 8th).  Amy and their aunt (Carl's sister) were with him.  We flew out on Saturday. Funeral was last Monday.  This is our 5th loss in 12 months.  Today marks the anniversary of Grandpa's heart attack, which was the first of the losses.

I think we've paid our dues for sad things.  I want only good things for now on.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

2012 Race Schedule

Every year, I say I don't want to plan out my season.  And every year, I end up planning it all out anyways.

This year, most of my races have used some sort of exellent coupon, making the race too cheap to pass up.  This will lead to an interesting season, as I'm doing some really random stuff.  Also: for this year being a "down year", why am I racing nearly EVERY month?  Racing addiction, anyone?!?

This makes me a bit tired just looking at it.