Saturday, November 24, 2012

Operation Eat Like an Athlete, Volume 3

A couple of weeks ago I went to my super-cool friend Lori's birthday party at the Greenhouse Tavern (love!) and met her boyfriend Mehul.  I'm not sure how we hadn't met before, because he rocks.  He's a cyclist who loves his Vitamix and enjoys talking history.  My kinda guy!

Anyway, last week Mehul facebooked me with a link to a Vitamix soup he and Lori made.  Do you not have a Vitamix? You have some other blender?  THROW IT AWAY AND GET ONE NOW.

Seriously--I loved my Vitamix before but now I love it even MORE MORE MORE because I can make soup in it.  Like, start to finish.  One blender.  It even HEATS it for crying out loud! I didn't believe it either until I saw it myself.

My thing is to make a big vat of soup or stew in the winter on a weekend and then eat it all week for lunch.  Nothing better than a big mug of soup, a piece of fruit or a salad, and a crusty roll.  I can even eat that at my desk while I grade.

(Yes, I know you're not supposed to eat and grade and stuff, but there's only so many hours in the don't do that.  Relax and stuff.  TST = Bad Example. Yeah.)

So when I saw the nutritional value on this soup: 110 calories, low-fat and high protein...I jumped.  Plus, I heart all things black bean.

A few things:  I didn't have a jalapeno, so I added a palmful of chili powder and a few drops of Tabasco.  I also, at Mehul's suggestion, added more garlic and more veggie stock.

The result?  Steamy, hot, tasty goodness in my Vitamix.  And then in my tummy.

The best part is it tastes really creamy and full of fat, but it totally is not!  I love tricking myself.
Not the greatest picture, but trust me on this one: TASTEEEEEEE.
This will be a keeper during the winter and spring months for sure, and will make a tasty post-run lunch!

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Pace Report: The Turkey Dash 5K

I set out to pace my buddy Pappy and run with Best Friend at the Turkey Dash in Avon yesterday.  It was so nice to not have to worry about racing too hard as it allowed me to enjoy my Mexican dinner on Wednesday as well as my Breckenridge Christmas Ale with my buddies Jon, Amy, Chien and Jaime.

Yes. I cheated on Great Lakes Christmas Ale.  I'm sorry, GL.  It was tasty.  You're still my #1.

Anyway, I headed out with Best Friend and my parents because my mom was running too, of course.  I wore my sparkly yellow skirt just because.  There was a guy in complete Native American chief garb including a well-stocked supply of bows and arrows at the start.  Some people were definitely more creative than I was...

Pappy wanted to go for about 9 minute pace, but I told him I wanted to sneak him in under 9s. :)  BF wanted to run 10 minute miles since it "was cold." I told her it wasn't cold and she should run with us, but she was insistent.  I told her we'd start slow and maybe get faster after that, so hopefully she could just hang with us.  She's a former soccer player so I know she's a tough chick.

Anyway, we went off and it was a total cluster for the first 1/2 mile or so. I tried not to go to fast (always a challenge for me) because I knew Pappy was depending on me not to screw up.  BF wanted to slow down a bit so I ran with her but she instructed me to go on ahead.  So, I ran up to Pappy with the goal of getting him in under 9s.  

The first mile he ran an 8:54! Yay, Pappy!  He didn't even seem winded.  He could still answer my questions and talk a bit, so I decided to pick it up just a *teensy* bit.

Action shot mid-race! Go Pappy Go!

Our second mile was an 8:43!  He was still doing fabulous.  I asked him if he wanted to know his pace and he said no, which was probably good because I didn't want to freak him out.  

I tried to just keep talking and tell him how much he was kicking butt and how he was definitely going to PR, it was just a matter of how much (his previous PR was a 29:09).  We turned the corner and hit mile 3 in 8:32!  Then I told him to kick it up with whatever he had left.  He crossed the line in 27:17!  YAHOOOOOOOO!  I was very proud of him. :)

I turned around and headed out to find BF and she was like 20 seconds behind us!  She did awesome and if I had known she was that close I would have gotten her before.  She really ran a fabulous race and I think I might have even talked her into the Reindeer Run.  Yay!

Went out to find my Mom and found her earlier than I thought and looking really strong!  We ran in together and I believe she had a PR--unofficially I think she snuck in under 34 minutes!  YAY Mom!
My Mom (or is it my sister?!) and I with BF at the finish

All in all, we had a great time and I enjoyed helping everyone else reach their goals!  Now, hopefully I can reach mine next weekend. :)

It was 61 degrees and sunny so after I had the Turkey prepped and ready to go, I simply HAD TO SNEAK OUT FOR A RIDE.  There was really no question about it.  I jumped on the QR CD0.1 and did a quick 17 miles along the lake where I was very irresponsible and took a few pictures:
ARE YOU SERIOUS, THANKSGIVING?! I get to ride in this?  This is a HAPPY face
About as daring as I got while I rode.  Look at that sky!  Me likey

Now it's sunny but a little cold, and tomorrow we're supposed to have some snow, but I don't care.  I got to get out not once but TWICE on Thanksgiving and I definitely earned my fair share of pie!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkey Dash Fun Tomorrow!

I signed up for the Turkey Dash like I do every year, and part of me wanted to go as hard as possible.  Obviously.  Because, as previously mentioned, I have a very difficult time racing without a goal.

But then my buddy Pappy (my softball/baseball bud from WAAAAAYYYY back in the day) who just finished his second Marine Corps Marathon (not to mention dropping a ton of weight--yay, Pappy!) tweeted me to see if I was running.  At first I said I wanted to go hard, but then I thought about it and:

a) when Matt asked if I wanted to cash in a Groupon to a Mexican restaurant nearby instead of cook, I was all, HELLZ yeah


b) I want to meet some buddies out tonight who are in town.

All of that? Makes me not want to run really hard tomorrow.  I am on break, after all.

So I decided my goal tomorrow is to help Pappy smash his!  I'm going to be a pace bunny.  Yay!  And I'm going to wear a ridiculous yellow sparkle skirt, too!  Why, pray tell, do I own said skirt?  Well, it was part of my costume for the Cleveland Triathlon Club Halloween run that ended up getting cancelled.  Boo.  And we all know how I feel about spending money (I HATE it) so I am determined to now put this thing into good use.

Even if it means looking ridiculous while doing so.

Best Friend is also joining me tomorrow, too!  I'm proud of her--she's gotten back into running despite a toddler and an extremely demanding job.  Yahoooooooo!

So tomorrow I'll be running with friends and helping them hit goals.  That means, then, that at Reindeer Run it's all about me busting it and running so fast I almost (or actually) puke.  Bonus!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and hope you find somewhere to trot tomorrow!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Little Rusty

So as previously mentioned, I'm just now getting back to the swing of things.

You could say the first quarter of school knocked me on my butt was extremely busy.  This is an unconventional year with construction and this Type A Control Freak had a rough go with it at first, but now things are settling in.  And, I've been blessed with some of the nicest kids I've had in 13 years of teaching (Lucky 13?) so that's made it easier.

Now it's time to get back on it.  Build the base.  Lay the foundation.

Yesterday Ana and I ran 8 conversational miles at an 8:40 pace.  We were both kind of surprised that we were able to hold that seeing as we were laughing and talking literally every single second.  I heart our runs as it feels like we're almost chatting over a beer, except that we're sweating, gross, and in constant motion.

Other than that? Basically the same thing.

Anyway, today I did a nice easy trainer ride for 75 minutes and then a bit of P90X Chest and Back.  Needless to say, both felt harder than they should.  I tried to really keep it easy, but I was somewhat disgusted at how bored I got on my trainer after, like, 27 minutes.  One can only stare at my washing machine for so long, I guess.  Thankfully, Sunday Winter Spins with my buddy TriEric and his wife, Aimee, are starting up next week, so I don't have to spin with my laundry in the basement alone all the time.

(Just most of the time)

Down another pound (yay!) so it's time to up the muscle tone.  I'm going to work on really sticking to strength two times a week this winter, and as always, I am on the quest for a SINGLE DAMN PULLUP JUST ONE THAT'S ALL I ASK.

My goal is to hit May in pretty decent triathlon shape this year.

How is that different than the past two years?

Well, over the past two years I've decided to run either a full or half marathon in the spring with a pretty tiptoes goal.  And in both cases? I got injured.  Once missed the goal, and once didn't even get a chance to try for fear of rupturing an already-injured achilles.

So then, I was out of commission pretty much the rest of June, and by the time July hit, I was *just* starting to feel like I was actually a triathlete again.

So what's that definition of insanity?  Doing the same thing multiple times and expecting different results?

Well, I kind of already did that, but OKAY I'M DONE NOW.  No more of this pretending I'm a runner and then getting injured nonsense.  Triathlons are my first love and I need to stop cheating on them.

This will be hard for me to say but...deep breath....

My name is TriSaraTops and I will NOT be doing the Cleveland Full or Half Marathon in the spring.

There.  I said it.

Now, I know what you're thinking.  But TST, why don't you just do it for fun?  Just to run it?

A) I'm way too cheap to pay for that and
B) Running "for fun" for me requires a goal, and usually one based in a time.  I know I'm a freak, but for me that's what makes it "fun." I just am not one who can just "do it" for fun, and hats off to those who can, because I am not nearly that disciplined on race day.  I'm like my dog who is convinced that if he just barks hard enough at that dog on the cartoon then MAYBE THIS TIME HE CAN JUMP INTO THE TV AND GET IT AND SHOW HIM, ALRIGHT.  On race day? I basically turn into my crazed, obsessive pug.

(They say people take after their animals, or something)

So over the next few months, I'll be continuing to work on getting leaner and build a bit of muscle as well as building a nice base.  Then, I'll start ramping up some intensity in the spring and actually be ready in June to hit the ground tri-ing instead of hitting the ground with my fists and sobbing because poor me did the same thing again this spring and injured myself AGAIN like an idiot.

Look for some fun spring road races to mix it up and maybe a du or an indoor tri if I can squeeze them in.  But then, it's all about building for the big show.

Killing it at Cedar Point in September.

So for now, pardon me while I dust off the joints a bit over here.  It's time to get moving again.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Reunited and it Feels so Good

Back in the pool this week, after a two-month hiatus.

As always, the first 1000 felt like I was swimming through quicksand.  And then I *started* to remotely feel a teensy bit like I was getting it back.  But not much.  I'll need at least a few weeks for that.

But it felt good to drive back home as the sun was rising and know that I was done, and that I was finally starting to act a little like a triathlete again.

It feels good to be home. Although I'd rather watch the sunrise outside during my laps like I did all summer, but a frost-covered sunrise on the way home ain't so bad, either.

I'm laying out my season plan for next year, and it involves some changes (mostly early on) from what I've done the past few years.  I'm already getting excited, though!

Here's to smelling like chlorine all day despite a shower and having goggle-eyes at work!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Keepin' Me Honest: My Fitness Pal

At the beginning of the school year, things were NUTS.  Like, insane in the membrane.  So, when things get a little crazy, I tend to EAT.  And not have time to work out much.

(I can't the only one out there, right?)

I am one of those people that is a nervous/stressed eater, and I definitely had a TON of that the first month or so of school.  But it doesn't count if I just grab handfuls of things, right?  Standing up?  That doesn't count, of course.

Yeah.  Tell that to the scale.  Um, it counts.

So coupled with the fact that I wasn't going on 2 hour rides and swimming hard sets in the pool on a regular basis, I wasn't happy with the way things were going. I felt sluggish, and I felt like a slob. I know I'm not, of course...but I definitely felt off my A-game.

My buddy Ana told me about My Fitness Pal, which I had never heard of before.  I'm a newbie in the smartphone world and app market, so when I realized it was pretty much everything that Weight Watchers wanted, like, 30 bucks a month for, I figured I'd give it a try.

I've been logging my meals for about 6 weeks now.  I set the "one pound a week" goal with an end goal of what I like to call my "fighting weight."  At first, progress was slow and I was cranky.  And sometimes hungry.  But I did realize that keeping track of what I eat daily for me is the single-most important thing I can do to keep my weight where I like it to be.  I struggle with this sometimes: pay attention or not pay attention? Eat what I want because I love food and stuff and say it's mostly healthy so it's okay, or really keep myself in check?

Here's the thing:  I have obsessive tendencies about this stuff so I do have to be careful.  But I have never been one of those people who can't watch what they eat.  Now that I'm (gulp) 35, I hear it gets harder and harder.  I feel like I'm pretty healthy and fit now, and I'd like to keep it that way.  I would also like to drop just a few pounds that I let creep on me with my "handful of this/spoonful of that" habit that I do when I'm stressed out.

After 6 weeks, I'm down 6 pounds.  My clothes are fitting better, and I feel really, really good.  My running pace has dropped a bit with the same effort and heart rate.  Yesterday I ran 8 miles with an average pace of 8:22 and it felt slow and awesome.  I'd like to think that had something to do with the fact that I am a bit leaner.

I do kind of hate it sometimes and I call the program "My Fitness B%$@," ("she" is a girl, of course) but overall, she makes it a game and I have to beat her every day.  So it's a teensy bit fun for me.

Here's what I like:

--IT'S FREE. 'Nuff said.
--You can scan bar codes of foods and I really haven't found anything yet that it doesn't recognize.  Easy to log, easy to keep up with it.
--You can easily see your progress in calories and nutrients, too.
--There's a social aspect of it and you can be "friends" with people.  Great if you don't want to admit that you just took your 47,392nd spoonful of peanut butter for the day.  (Um, not that I would know...a friend of mine, see....SHE eats a jar of peanut butter a week...yeah, not me...)A little peer pressure/humiliation can be a good motivator.
--You can easily log your cardiovascular activity to "earn back" calories.  In fact, if I DON'T work out, it makes it darn near impossible to hit my calorie goal.
--NO crazy rules or things ruled out.  I don't know about you, but if someone tells me I can't eat something, that's all I want to eat.  Case in point: when I was preggers, all I wanted was a nice cold beer with a side of lunch meat and feta cheese.  You know, all the things that could kill you or morph your baby into a two-headed monster.  So no rules to follow.
--Calories in must be less than calories out.  Which, really, is the bottom line, no?

What I don't like:

--There's no distinction between "good" calories and "bad."  There's a LOT of "low-calorie" TRASH out there.  It would be good if it could somehow reward me for eating "good" calories instead of processed "low-calorie" garbage.  It's really up to you to do that, but I could see how it's tempting just to eat the packaged, low-cal trash just to meet your calorie goal.
--I haven't figured out a way to "count" strength work, really.  P90X doesn't "count" in the cardiovascular section.  It's just annoying, because I am competitive against this stupid thing, and I want my freaking calories withdrawn OKAY?

All in all, I think it's been helpful for me.  I'm going to keep on keepin' on here at least through the winter just to keep me honest.  If you want Weight Watchers success without paying an arm and a leg, check it out!