Saturday, March 22, 2014

IMMT Training Week 8 and 9: Work hard, crash harder

So it happened. I skipped a recap week. Training and work and life swallowed me whole and I got nothing left, not even brain power to put down things like 1+1=3. Wait, is that right? Does it mean that I skipped 2 weeks? No, wait. Whatever... That's what you get when you lose all your week's neurons. Which means that I need to go back in time twice as far and put my memory through a lot of effort. To tell you the truth, I don't even know where to start. Training Peaks to the rescue!


Two weeks ago on Tuesday, I did a 3000m swim which called for 20x100m on 2:30 main set. It hurt so much, I don't even want to talk about it. The hardest swim I've ever done until now, period. I managed to finish it all, but I wasn't quite sure on what planet I was at the end of it. Needless to say, two days later I was so tired that I put on my pull buoy and swam for 45min straight, all with flip turns so I can keep up with the kids in my lane. I was supposed to do this swim on Sunday, but it felt more appropriate for Thursday. On Sunday, I was still feeling pooped, that I decided to swing it and do whatever my body was in mood for. I swam 100m free, then another 100m, then 300m with my pull buoy, and decided to repeat the same pattern until I ran out of time. I managed to fit in 4 repeats for a total of 2000m. Matched my swim quota for the week, so that was success in my books.

This past week, it was a different story. Tuesday's swim didn't happen. But on Thursday I went to masters with the tri group and had a nice 2000m swim with a lot of 50s, 100s and 200s. I didn't think I could pull it off, but stamina showed up and got me through it just fine. I even swam my fastest pull/paddles splits - how?? Must have been the 10h sleep...
I have no idea what I'm going to do tomorrow, but there are enough missed swims to choose from. Anything that fits within 1h will do I suppose.


I had a few good rides as well, no complaints here. I only missed one workout, last Wednesday, when I pretty much hit the wall. I came back from work and fell asleep on the couch. Decided to call it a night and go to bed at 7:45pm. I needed it really badly and I'm glad that I listened to my body. I could feel that everything was falling apart, starting with my mental. 
Below are the most exciting rides that I've done.

This one was made by hubbs with instructions from coach. I called it One Leg drills and Two Leg Spins (100rpm). Visually, quite exciting. Pure poetry. I managed to keep my calm and pedal on, what a miracle. Last spin looks almost like a scream though.
The only other ride worth sharing was my 2h45 ride today, Conness. Trainer Road didn't crash like the week before, yay! I did it all in my new Coeur Sports kit which I received yesterday. I was really curious about the magic chamois and whether my bottom was going to complain. Another miracle, I swear. Last week I had a lot of pain in my bike shorts with triple diaper-like padding, but this time, nada!! No pain whatsoever, how is it possible? The people at Coeur should better patent this one because they've got a winner!!
The ride was easy peasy. It wasn't too difficult to follow directions since the intervals were quite long, and I killed the boredom watching "Zoolander". Can you believe that I waited 13 years to see it? I still had a megawatt smile at the end of it (the workout, not the movie).
If you are wondering what a gratuitous view of my belly is doing here, this is my own #keepingitreal moment. The kit fits wonderfully, but I still have a muffin top to deal with. Hopefully 5 months from now I won't have to suck it in until I pass out while approaching photographers on the course of Ironman Mt. Tremblant.


So far, I didn't miss any of the runs! They all have been 8km or more, with the long ones at 15km. Still doing them on the treadmill, sorry. But the early ones in the week were "hilly" where I got to play with both speed and incline on the treadmill, while the mid-week ones introduced 1min accelerations to 10km pace or faster. I'm glad they are not boring me to death. Speaking of which, I need another movie to watch during my long run tomorrow. Last week I watched "Food Inc." and it was rather upsetting at times. No, I didn't cry, but it got me mad. I'll never look at a piece of meat the same way again.

Here's another piece of worthy news. I bought new shoes!! I joined Kona winner Frederik Van Lierde, Mary Beth Ellis and Caroline Steffen in wearing On running shoes. I had NO idea they even existed until I walked into the Running Free store and tried them on. And NO, I could not put them down and walk away. Very rarely I find a shoe that marries my foot (both of them actually :-)) so wonderfully and this is one of them. I was looking for a shoe to do my long runs in while I rebuild enough calf strength to go back to my K Swiss K-Onas, since there is a new Ironman branded pair at home waiting for me to run in at #IMMT. I chose the Cloudsurfer model and so far, amazeballs! Not a single blister, no pain, even my knees seem happier lately. I also run a tad faster for the same level of effort. They are definitely springy and they almost feel like propelling me a little quicker.
Or maybe it's all in my head and I already imagine myself winning Kona in them. On folks, call me now!

In a nutshell

I had such a hectic schedule between office work, workouts, basketball games, long drives in the snow, parties, corporate ping pong tournaments (I move onto round two in doubles, yay!), endless meetings, stress to the max, that I ended crashing really hard and had to skip two workouts in a row. Not the end of the world, since I got back my sanity and some extra hours of sleep, but there were times when I questioned my ability to train for this Ironman. I told myself that if I'm crashing with 10h worth of workouts, what will happen when I'll hit 16-18? Thankfully the funk didn't last, but it's a little seed of doubt that I need to watch closely not to sprout.

I'll leave you with a few more pictures, so you can see what I've been talking about.
We drove for hours in this. 
More snow!! MAKE IT STOP!!!
NOT my bike. Phew.
We like basketball. At least the Raptors win every so often.
100 points = free pizza for everyone!
We skipped the pizza this time, but we went to Pizza Hut later in the week. We had the super thin crust pizza with veggies and a greek salad.
In case you were wondering...
The sad face of our sidewalks. Anyone have skates?
You could call this a slip and slide, alright!
You can understand why I keep my runs inside. No sidewalks, no fun! I refuse to dodge cars.
One last sweaty smile for the road, with boob crack as a bonus! See you next week!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Racing Weight Recipes

It is no secret that I love food. A little too much, maybe. But over the past few years I've tried to cook leaner, healthier, and without sacrificing the taste. When I came across the Racing Weight Cookbook, thanks to a review by Phaedra, I knew that I had to buy it. And it the past month or so, I've made quite a few recipes that became an instant hit. After countless online requests, I've decided to share my favorites here on the blog. Since all the recipes were modified slightly anyway, I kinda made them my own. I cannot recommend the book more though. Seriously, you don't even have to read the lean theory, just jump in, cook and eat. And what other book organizes the recipes by cooking skill? This one does, from "Recipes for the athlete who doesn't cook" to "Recipes for the athlete who loves to cook".

1. Quinoa and Chickpea Salad / Tabbouleh

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained. I like to use PC Golden and Black Quinoa, one box of 225g is perfect and it gives the salad more color.
1 15 ounces can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained and shelled (skinned?). I use 1 can of PC Organics Chickpeas, it's the perfect size (540ml).
2 cups water
2 tablespoons extra virgin oil - my favorite is PC New World EVOO
1/2 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup red onion, chopped - I use more like 1/2-2/3 of a cup
1 pint 10oz grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Bring water to a boil, then add quinoa and let simmer for 15 min or until water is absorbed. Set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl stir together cooled quinoa, chickpeas, onion, parsley, tomatoes. Add olive oil, lemon juice and salt.
Refrigerate for at least 1h (I prefer to leave it overnight).

2. Apple raisin bars

Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups quick oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 servings vanilla protein powder
1 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)
3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup non fat plain yoghurt - my favorite is Oikos 0%
1/2 cup (4 egg whites) or egg substitute
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons canola or macadamia-nut oil (I didn't have any of these and I used sunflower oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 medium apples, shredded
1/2 cup raisins, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, protein powder, sugar, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt. Stir to blend.
In a separate mixing bowl, combine yoghurt, egg whites, water, oil, and vanilla. Stir in shredded apples and raisins. Add wet ingredients to bowl containing dry ingredients. Stir to blend until uniformly moistened. Spread batter in pan.
Bake for 15-17 min until center is solid (mine took 25 min). Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars. Wrap individually in plastic bags and store in the fridge or freezer.

I cut into 12 bars, they were big enough for snack or breakfast. Very yummy and not that sweet.
It looks a bit complicated, but aside from shredding the applies and chopping the raisins (mine were gigantic), there is no preparation needed. Just mix and bake.

3. Blueberry spelt quick bread

Cooking spray
1 1/4 cups whole grain spelt flour (or whole wheat flour) - I didn't have spelt flour, I used the whole wheat version.
1/2 cup sugar - I used brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil or canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 eggs
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat over to 325 degrees F. Lightly coat a loaf pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and mix well.
In a second bowl, mix oil, applesauce and eggs. Add the dry mix to the liquid ingredients and stir until everything is moistened. Fold in blueberries. Pour batter into loaf pan.
Bake for 30-35min, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing.
Store leftover slices in plastic bags in the fridge or the freezer.

Bon appetit!

Yeah, I know - that's still a lot of carbs, but they are good carbs. Eat moderately and think that they will make you lean(er). Maybe... I'm doing the experiment for you :-)

I promise to talk only greens next time!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

IMMT Training Week 7: A different kind of struggle

I'm a bit late with this blog post, but last week was absolutely draining, mentally and emotionally. On the flipside, the workouts weren't that bad and I even threw in some corporate fun. Ping pong anyone? I organized this tournament at work as a team building activity and we played round 1 this week. I lost to a stronger opponent, but I'm still in for doubles. That was somewhat expected since I only played twice in the last 5-6 years. We also played some games outside of the tournament which sure made my heart pumping and sweat dripping. One hour of smashing and jumping, and the next day my arm and back on the right side reminded me that I had not used these muscles in a long time. It totally counted as 1h of effort, no doubt about it.

My longest ever swim in a pool was on Tuesday morning and it gave me the feeling that I could conquer the world that day. 3100m, boom! Followed by 2250m during group swim on Thursday and 2000m on Sunday. Biggest week ever!! It was also the slowest in a while, but I can't have it all. It didn't bother me a second. I take whatever the pool gods give me and not drowning is always a WIN.

One hour easy here, one hour easy there... then boom again! Monday's ride was a snooze-fest, and on Thursday, hubbs made me a "custom" Trainer Road workout, just for me. I loved it (that's because it felt easy)!
However, the group spin on Saturday brought back memories... and sweat, and tears. I tried dialing it down, but I still stuck with the group effort until the last imaginary hill.
I even beat my 30min record. What about that, eh? Maybe it's time to do one of these 8 or 20 min tests again, even though I don't feel quite ready for putting all the hurt on my glutes and knees. I'll wait for coach to give me the green light. I think he's planned one of these tests for us in 2 or 3 weeks, and that should be just what I need.

Two treadmill runs to keep my legs moving and they were both dreadful. Being alone with my thoughts this week did not count as success. Both times my mind went wondering in muddy places and slipped into some dangerous sinkholes. I even had a major freak out 40 min into the run on Tuesday and started bawling my eyes out while on the treadmill. Thankfully nobody I knew was there to witness my meltdown. I managed to compose myself again and did not fall face forward on the belt, but it was a close one. Since then, I've talked to a few people, and it helped tremendously. I am a work in progress anyway...

On Sunday, I needed some fresh air to clear my head. I debated whether to go outside or not the whole day, but since another introspection without distraction was not advisable, I eventually dug out my winter clothes and went outside to brave the cold, wind and (some) hills. I got reminded how much harder running outside in winter is. To add excitement to my run, I may or may not have caused a car accident, but since both drivers started yelling at each other instead of pointing at me, I continued my 11km solitary journey, now with something else to occupy my brain. Back home, I even managed to crack a tiny smile.
Running is supposed to do that to you, right? It was a nice reminder... that I can fight this.

In a nutshell
Tough week, mentally rather than physically. Survived it. This coming week will be another kind of tough as I keep thinking about a friend of mine who lost her daughter in a house fire on Friday. The Universe is so evil sometimes, I wish it left the good people alone. Too sad for words, over and out.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

IMMT Training Week 6: Achievement Unlocked!

Three swims, three bike workouts and three runs: all done this week!! Man it feels good to have everything done before 11am on a Sunday! I feel like a winner for having managed to give my weekend a sense of normalcy, despite the fact that most of the time I was hungry and wanted to EAT ALL THE FOOD! Rest assured, I didn't. I managed to put on more weight though, go figure. But back to what I can control, let's talk about the time and effort put into my workouts.


Tuesday at Mayfield Pool. My lane, my pool. I will let the numbers below speak for themselves. On the left, the same workout back on Feb 4. On the right, 20 days later, this Tuesday. It may have been just a great day, or maybe I'm seeing progress. Either way, these results surprised me.
Thursday - I am conflicted about this one. The picture below should, again, speak for itself.
Details below:
Warm up:
100m breathe 3rd and 5th by 25
100m kick on side
100m kick on back
100m single arm drill
4 x 25m fast on 45 sec
Main Set:
2 x [100m ez on 2:45 + 100 m fast on 2:30]
2 x [100m ez on 2:45 + 100 m fast on 2:25]
1 min rest
4 x 25m band only on :50
1 x 100m pull + band on 2:30
6 x 25m band only on :55
1 x 100m pull + band on 2:30
4 x 25m band only on :55 (there were 4 more after this but I ran out of time)
I hate BANDS. That is all.

As to Sunday's swim, I did manage to get to Cassie Campbell at 7am and join the Aquatic Zoo. I learned later in the day that Cobra Swim Club's masters practice got cancelled and half of the squad was in the pool. I went in the fast lane with 2 other folks who kept on lapping me with each length. Beside feeling very inadequate the entire time I was there, I also felt sluggish and could barely move my arms. Not sharing any of those times, nope. They were lame, lame, lame.


Started the week with Leavitt, chosen especially for me by hubbs. Thanks, hon. It was not pretty. My glutes were so sore from the previous weekend's workouts, I wasn't sure I'd even survive half of it. I chose to lower the intensity to 92%, but even there, I was sweating like crazy and cursing my legs for being heavy and not willing to cooperate.
The second workout is not worth talking about. Put myself on cruise control, watched True Detective again. Two more episodes until the season finale!!!

Saturday's group spin was another sweat fest. I am not sure how much time we were supposed to spend at threshold, but I scored 15 minutes!! Remember, I am not allowed to go hard yet. Overall, I nailed my Z2 average, but it felt really good to push some higher watts for a change.

First two runs were boring as hell, as usual on the treadmill. The last one, a different type of boring.
Since I had paid the $8 for the pool, I decided to take advantage of the track as well. More for the buck, right? 1h10 swim, followed by a 1h10 run?... Hmmm. It seemed like a good idea until I put foot on the track, then fought to put another one in front of the first. And another one, and another one. It took me 10km to find my rhythm. And 7 laps later, 77 in total, I was done, so that was that. I remember feeling very thirsty and glad that I was not the only one to spend 1h running in circles. But you know what? I outran everyone on the treadmill. Definitely in the weights area too. Even on the voleyball court. And on the hockey rink, maybe.

I'm pretty sure I also outran the guy who came to ask me whether I'd run Boston, due to my tshirt, then went on saying that he ran 56 marathons, including Boston multiple times. Ummm. Sure, dude. Sure. Good for you.

Shortly after I finished, I took these pics. I could barely keep my eyes open, but the feeling of accomplishment was pretty strong with this one. This is the image of DONE.
In a nutshell

10h of workouts, finally!! Level 1 Complete. Achievement unlocked!!
Bring it on, Level 2!