3/12/10

Lettuce Wraps & Baked Sweet Potato filled with deliciousness

As I mentioned in my previous post about food, I am fine with eating similar foods. Especially as a vegetarian, I have similar proteins that I eat on a daily basis in an effort to fulfill my protein requirements. If I ate meat, I'm sure I could replace some of my typicals; eggs, tofu, yogurt, beans/chickpeas, veggie burgers, cottage cheese, whey protein, milk with tuna, fish, chicken and turkey. Remember, protein is critical for all individuals (unless you have a protein disorder such as Phenylketonuria, PKU) and it is important that if you are exercising (which you should be and I'm sure you are :) that you focus on the many foods you can eat, on a daily basis, that will provide you with an array of amino acids (specifically essential amino acids).
So, because my training changes (as should yours) on a daily/weekly basis, so should my food. Oatmeal + nuts works great for me for breakfast on Mon after a light swim but my Monday breakfast would not properly refuel my muscles after after my Wednesday workout. My Wednesday post-workout breakfast of a whey protein smoothie and oatmeal concoction would likely work on Sunday after my long bike + run but considering I typically eat "breakfast" around 11:30am or 12pm on Sunday, I like to change up the ingredients in my smoothie for a good post-workout recovery drink so that I can wait an hour or so before having a real meal. Oatmeal is usually my pre-training meal so I don't really use it as my post-workout meal on the weekends.

Sound confusing? Well, I know what works for me due to experimenting. It didn't happen overnight. I'm sure you would agree with me that we all need to eat and if weight loss or maintenance is on your mind, well, you don't just have to focus on what you SHOULDN'T eat (I like to say de-emphasize). Really, it's much more exciting and fun to focus on what you CAN eat. I must admit, my diet isn't 100% consistent on a week to week basis. However, I always think about my workout volume and intensity, as well as work/life commitments (ex. will I have a late lunch due to a meeting? what time does Karel get off work? what time will I finish training, etc.) in order to plan for the day.

Are you bored with salad, pizza or potato.....
Here are two creations to get you inspired to change up some of your normal meals.



Lettuce Wraps
1 large (clean) romaine lettuce leaf
4 thin slices polenta
1/4 container firm tofu (cubed)
1 spoonful marinara sauce
1 clove garlic (chopped)
Pinch of mozzarella cheese

1. Cook polenta (both sides) on a non-stick skillet on medium heat w/ a little non-stick spray, until a little brown and firm.
2. Remove polenta and place on romaine leaf.
3. Cook tofu and garlic in 1 tsp olive oil (toss after 1 minute) for 2-3 minutes. Season with pepper and parprika.
4. Add marinara sauce and toss lightly.
5. Place tofu mixture on polenta and top with cheese.
6. Fold lettuce wrap, flip it over and secure with toothpick.
*Serve with a dollop of Greek Yogurt.
(There is no un-messy way to eat this. At least it looks pretty before you open it. Don't forget to eat the lettuce!)
*One of the pics has a piece of Turkey in it. That's Karel's wrap, in case you wondered what mystery food I was wrapping up :)









Baked Sweet Potato filled with deliciousness
1 sweet potato
2 tbsp oats
pinch of cinnamon and all spice
1 tbsp greek yogurt
1 tsp blackstrap molasses (great source of iron for vegetarians, as well as potassium, copper, manganese and magnesium)
1 tbsp honey roasted nuts (chopped)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Heat sweet potato in microwave (around 8-10 min), in stove or in hot water until soft.
3. Mash potato in bowl (remove skin) and add oats, yogurt, spice, molasses and nuts.
4. Stir and add to casserole dish.
5. Bake for 15-20 min.



3/11/10

Plyometrics

I've always enjoyed strength training. At the age of 13, I started strength training at World's gym as part of my USS swim team dry land training. When I was in college, I did a strength and conditioning internship with the UK basketball and cheerleading team, writing strength plans for the respected sports. I learned a lot in that internship! I have had several certifications in personal training and if I wasn't pursuing a career in dietetics, I could easily see myself coaching athletes full-time. When I moved to Florida for graduate school, I was pursuing my masters in exercise physiology in order to become a Strength and Conditioning Coach. I guess you could say that my heart was in strength and conditioning when I was in grad school but after training for my first marathon in 2004, I quickly developed a love for endurance sports and most of all, sports nutrition. Even though athletics have always played a major part in my life (since my early years as a competitive swimmer) I really do love to exercise. Living in a world where people don't make the time to exercise and/or don't understand what exercise can do for the body (and for life in general) doesn't really frustrate me. Since my career path is ultimately health and wellness, I hope that I can inspire others and work hard to motivate and help people to get out the door and get moving.

I recently read an article in Triathlete magazine (April '10, pg 34) titled "Power Gains in Cycling with Plyometrics".
To quote from the article, here's a little bit about plyometrics:
Plyometrics refer to the greater tension that muscles develop when a quick stretching phase in followed by a fast contraction. The goal of plyometric training is to train the nervous system to react quickly to the lengthening of the muscle by rapidly shortening the same muscles with maximum force. This process is typically referred to as the "stretch-shortening cycle". Plyometric training develops power in the lower extremities through various jumping movements and bounding.


The article in the magazine cites a 2005 study (Paton, C.D. & Hopkins, W.G.) regarding explosive and high resistance training and performance in competitive cyclist. This study is often sited in articles and on the internet because the results are clear and concise and demonstrate gains in 1K power, peak power, lactate threshold power and reduction in total oxygen cost. I did a little research after reading this article and there are several other great studies out there demonstrating significant results in cyclist and endurance runners. Several recent studies show that explosive training and high intensity training (HIT) improve performance (compared to control groups) due to changes in the muscles, allowing them to respond more efficiently during training.

I've been doing plyometrics for several years (typically once a week, in addition to 2 strength training sessions). 2 years ago I introduced Karel to Plyo's and he is really noticing results. Of course, you have to start slow (these video's are extremely advanced), not do too much too soon and you have to give yourself proper rest so that you do not injure yourself.

Here is a link to a few basic plyo exercises on Beginner Triathlete:
Plyo video
(There are safety tips and recommendations on this link as well)

As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently completed a whole new set of beginner and advanced plyo/circuit training exercises on Beginnertriathlete.com and I will let you know when they are edited and published. Also, I'm sure I will be doing something with these video's and creating "alternative" exercises that aren't as advanced.

Enjoy the video's. Let me know if you have any questions:
Karel's routine:
*80 toe taps
*40 side-jumps
*40 crunches
*40 box jumps
*40 Medicine ball push ups
*40 Tricep dips
*1 min wall sit
*40 explosive knee lifts (alternating)
*Bosu push-up (instead of medicine ball)
*Box jumps w/ medicine ball (instead of regular box jumps)
Rest 1 minute. Repeat entire set 2 more times (3 times total)

Marni's basic Plyo routine:
1 minute each on Bosu (continous)
*Side to side
*Single leg knee lift
*Side knee raise w/ squat
Rest 1 minute. Repeat entire set 2 more times (3 times total)
(I also do some of Karel's exercises but on a box that is about knee height)

3/10/10

Egg recipes - same ingredients, different creations

Thankfully, I am committed to my blog. And, for that I will always be inspired by you (my blog readers) and motivated to create new healthy and yummy lacto-ovo vegetarian recipes.
Having said that, if my internet goes down and I am in some way forced to buy only 5 things from the grocery store, I will be eating omelet's for the rest of my life.
Mushrooms, eggs, garlic, tofu and spinach. Every day, all day...I would never get bored.
Of course, eating the same thing, every day may seem like a good plan if you are wanting to lose weight but if you are finding yourself hungry all day, well, something isn't working. Being hungry is no way to live the rest of your life and reducing calories through diet and expending calories through exercise does not have to be painful. Sure, there may be some tough times as you find exactly what works for you, based on your current/daily training routine but eventually, if you are enjoying what you do on a daily basis, healthy eating and daily exercise will turn into a habit and thus a lifestyle choice.

So, even though I would love to eat omelet's for the rest of my life, I know that wouldn't be practical. I need good sources of carbohydrates to fuel my workouts, I need an array of low fat proteins to build tissues and provide essential amino acids to my body and I need healthy fats because well, my body can not function without them. Of course I need water (plenty of it!) and last but not least, tons of colorful fruits and veggies to keep my immune system strong, to help me live a quality-filled life, to keep me from ever having to say "I'm sick" and to keep me energized throughout the day.

Here are two great Egg recipes in case you are looking for a change from your normal egg-centered dish.
Enjoy..one of my favorite creations.

Egg, Spinach, Chive, Cheese and Tomato Frittata
2 eggs (1 whole egg, 1 egg white)
2-3 tbsp skim milk
Small pinch of mozzarella cheese
1 small roma tomato (sliced)
1 chive (chopped)

1. Preheat a small skillet, sprayed with a little nonstick spray, to low-medium heat.
2. Scramble ingredients in a large bowl and pour into hot pan.
3. Lightly scramble eggs until eggs begin to stick to the bottom (this will help create a fluffy frittata).
4. Cook for several min. until bottom is slightly brown.
5. With a large spatula, flip frittata and cook for 1-2 more minutes.




Egg, Spinach, Chive and Tomato Omelet, topped w/ cheese

2 eggs (1 whole egg, 1 egg white)
2-3 tbsp skim milk
Small pinch of mozzarella cheese
1 small roma tomato (sliced)
1 chive (chopped)

1. Preheat skillet, sprayed with non stick spray, to low-medium heat.
2. Scramble egg and milk and pour into hot pan.
3. Lightly scramble eggs until eggs begin to stick to bottom (fluffy omelet) and spread eggs so that you can not see the bottom of the pan.
4. Flip eggs when you can slid your large spatula under eggs, without eggs falling apart (a few minutes).
5. After flipping, place spinach, tomato and chives on half of omelet.
6. Remove omelet from pan and close omelet on your plate. Top with a little cheese and chives.







Side dish #1:
Asparagus, chickpeas, mushrooms and garlic - cooked in a little (1-2 tsp olive oil). Seasoned with pepper.
Side dish #2:
Several thin slices of Polenta (I store bought it to try it for the first time but you can make it with cornmeal) cooked on a nonstick pan w/ cooking spray. Sliced Polenta after cooking.






Omelet


Frittata

3/9/10

Chain of Lakes criterium recap

Karel and I had a wonderful evening with my parents on Sat evening. Rather than driving the 3 1/2 hours home to Jax or staying in a hotel, we didn't think twice about driving an hour to my parents. After Karel got cleaned up and Campy got a bath, it was time for a delicious dinner. Kare was looking forward to my dad's Chicken Cacciatore and I was looking forward to a big Barbara salad (named after my grandpa who throws in everything in the house when she makes salad's for Karel and me when we travel out to Reno). After dinner we watched the Hurt Locker (Karel and I liked it a lot) and it was off to bed around 9:30pm.
I set my alarm for 6am so I could get in an early run before we hit the road for race #2. I waited til 7am so it would warm-up to 40-degrees but just as I would expect, I was toasty warm around mile 3.
I guess you could say I was inspired by Karel's performance on Sat and my run (which seemed effortless) went by super fast and I had a lot to reflect on as I zoned out with my music.
My stats:
13.26 miles
1hr and 43 minutes
7:48 min/mile
+ 2.5 miles on the treadmill after the run, working on my stride and cadence and warming down

After a yummy and healthy blueberry pancake and egg breakfast (thanks DAD!), Karel, Campy and I hit the road around 10:20am.

We arrived to downtown Winter Haven around noon and the race venue was awesome. So much going on in the 8-corner criterium. This was my first time to the race even though Karel had raced there before. Actually, the last time he raced there (last year) he crashed so I was a bit nervous for the race as I am for all criterium races. I have never seen an 8-corner race and considering that the race course was just over a mile, I knew the crashes were likely. Before Karel's race, there were numbers of crashes at the "hot corner" and it seemed like the medics just hung out there waiting for crashes. Well, that's bike racing for ya. Good thing that the Pro's have a bit more experience than the other categories despite them going super super fast.

Campy and I made our rounds, saying hi to people and checking things out. The Human Society had a truck at the race and all of the cats and dogs were adopted! How cool is that! Come to a bike race, bring home a pet! There was an adopted dog that looked identical to Campy but Campy wanted nothing of it. He wanted to say hi to all of the little dogs and show his big bark to the big dogs. I have to say, Campy was amazing for this race and I was so proud to have him with me. Usually he is super barky at the bikes when they go by but I think all of the people and dogs distracted him. Plus, since he is a ladies man, he was in doggy heaven with so many females wanting to pet him and give him some love.

After Karel warmed up with Jeff, James and Clint, they waited 'til the kid's fun bike (1 loop) was over and the Pro 1,2 guys were called to the line. The
80 minute + 3 loops started around 1:20pm and off they went.

Karel looked a little tired but I know him well enough that he takes a little while to find his rhythm. James was super strong and with his experience in bike racing, he was doing well in the front of the race, making some strong moves. Even Jeff with his banged up body took a strong pull near the beginning of the race.
Karel stayed towards the middle of the pack and was paying close attention to the race. There were a few break-aways but nothing stayed. Criterium races change every loop so you can never expect anything. Karel was in the front for one loop and then he was in the back w/ Jeff for the next loop.

I managed to take some great pics at the hot corner and luckily, no crashes during the race. A few close calls with the tight turns (you can hear pedals hitting the ground) but the field was strong and skilled.

Around half way in the race, I saw Karel getting closer to the front. He was looking good and was responding well to attacks. With around 20 minutes to go in the race, there was a break and Karel responded. That a way Karel!

The break started with a 15 sec lead and as the minutes ticked by, the 11 man break got further and further away from the pack. With about 10 min to go, their lead was 35 sec. which is huge in cycling. I was keeping time on my watch so that I could let Jeff, James and Clint know how far ahead Karel was in the lead pack, in case Karel's teammates wanted to try to slow the field down.

With around 5 min. to go, Jeff and James went to the very pack of the chase pack, just in case the break away group caught the chase pack. If this was the case, the leaders would be racing with the chase pack but the chase pack would be racing for 12th place. Jeff and James were ready to help Karel get to the front, just in case they got lapped but they didn't.

80 minutes of high intensity racing (averaging around 27mph) with 3 laps to go, it was clear that Karel was racing with 10 other guys. This race was super important for Karel so that he could get points for the Florida Cup series. However, with the stacked field of full-time pro's that Karel would be sprinting with for a possible top 10 finish, I knew he would have to have an excellent sprint.

My heart was beating so fast and I had to turn around to prevent myself from fainting. I have never been so nervous before. This has never happened to Karel before to be in this position and I was thrilled that he managed to get in and stay in the break. After having a little chat with Campy (I hold him when I take pics/video's) we were both pumped for the finish.

I see Karel and the guys sprinting around corner #7 and heading towards the start/finish.
I could see green Oakley's and Karel's head-down, all-out sprint that he is oh-so good at.
It was hard for me to see the finish because I was videoing and holding Campy but when the announcer said the results, I couldn't believe it!
1st place - Ben Renkema
2nd place - Daniel Domingo
3rd place - Karel Sumbal

WAHOO!! I Was so happy. I grabbed Karel's spare wheels from the wheel pit and headed to the car to meet Karel after he warmed down.
Karel was so happy with another podium but he was a bit frustrated. He told me that he had to squeeze on his brakes at the finish because Dan crossed from one side of the road right into Karel. When you sprint for a finish, it is rule that you have to keep your line. After a few other complaints and the officials reviewing the video, Dan was DQ'd and Karel moved up to 2nd!

Another podium. We couldn't believe it.
After the race, we found out that there was a mistake in the counting of points for the weekend and whereas Ben Renkema originally won the General Classification Cup for having the most points for the race, Karel actually beat Ben by one point. Unfortunately, the computer forgot to factor in Karel's move from 3rd to 2nd place and we didn't find out until Monday so Karel was never rewarded with his GC cup for most points at the Chain of Lakes cycling classic. Even better, Karel brought in even more money for the team and he is ranked 1st in the Florida Cup Point Series by 21 points (over 2nd place).

Way to go Karel...Campy and I are super proud of you! Great teamwork Lindner guys!
Enjoy the pics :)


























Chain of Lakes Road Race (RR) recap

What an exciting weekend. Karel is still questioning his performance and my HR is still beating fast. Campy is exhausted, the Lindner team brought home a good amount of $ for their hard work, great teamwork and responsive tactics and it was great to spend a little time (Sat night) with my parents.

70-mile Road Race
We left Jacksonville at 6am sharp to head to Ft. Meade. I did my "long" bike+run on Fri morning (skipped my normal swim) and took the morning off from training to support my hubby. I don't mind switching around my schedule of training, especially if it means traveling with Karel for his race. I get plenty of endorphins just watching himm race.
After the 3 1/2 hour drive to the middle of nowhere, we finally arrived to the race site. Luckily my Garmin didn't get us lost because we were out in the land of Orange trees and not a house, gas station or car in sight.
The race started at 10:30 and the race was 70 miles. They combined the Pro 1,2 guys with the Category 3 guys (Most Pro guys don't like it when Cat 3's are combined with them...it can get a bit shaky with in-experienced riders trying to race with the top guys).
Each loop was 14 miles and consisted of rollers and long stretches. Although it was a bit warmer than normal without a cloud in the sky, the day started off rather chilly and the strong winds didn't make it any warmer.
As in most cycling races, you really can't predict the race results until the racers cross the line. To keep myself occupied, Campy and I did a lot of walking around. We talked to a lot of Gearlink friends and we met a lot of new friends. I didn't mind that Campy was getting dirty from all of the off-road walking because a bath was in his near future when we get to my parent's house after the race.
Kare and his 4 teammates (James, Clint, Jeff, Ralph) looked good when I saw them for the first 2 loops (each loop took around 28-29 minutes) but it wasn't until the 3rd loop when I saw Jeff rolling into the start/finish line, alone. I asked him what happened and as soon as I saw his rt side of his body, I knew. He crashed....hard. At approximately 32-34 mph (attacking) he tapped a wheel and took himself down. Karel said he saw the crash and said it was hard to watch. Jeff (Karel's boss) was one tough cookie (must be his many years of taking hits in the NFL) even though his shoulder, side and leg was filled with road rash. No broken bones, thankfully, and his Project One Trek Madonne had nothing more than a scratched shifter and derailleur.
After talking with Jeff, I saw Karel's group coming close for the bell lap (last loop). Although there were a few breakaways (James S. being in one of them), nothing stuck. However, I saw 2 guys breaking away as they were crossing the line for the last lap and I see Karel chasing them down. The field didn't respond so I knew anything could happen in this last lap.
My thought was that the chase pack would catch the 3-man break (which included Karel) since it was super windy. Plus, with 40+ guys chasing down 3 guys, there is a lot more horsepower in a chase group than in a 3 man break.
I was really excited for the finish and I had a feeling it would be a field sprint, meaning everyone would be together and everyone would race for an overall finish.
However..I was wrong!
Here comes a 3-man break and with my camera in hand to video the finish, I spot Karel's green Oakley's. I know his sprinting-style very well and I was thrilled to see him racing for his first ever podium spot!
Karel landed in 2nd place..just barely.
The rest of the Lindner team worked really well together and Clint and James managed to place in the top for the field sprint.
I was so happy for Karel and I know how hard he trains. He went into this race wanting to rest up for Sunday's crit race (which I will post later) since it is a Florida Cup Series race and Karel is currently placed 2nd in the Florida Cup series for his points. However, he said that he was feeling great and a top-10 finish at the Crit didn't compare to possibly landing him on the podium. He took a chance and his legs responded and well, it all paid off.
Considering that the average pace for the race was 29mph, Karel thought he was going to die (his words) as he tried to stay with 2 full-time pro's, Ivan Franco (Santo Cycling team) and Calixto Bello (z-motion team). The 3-man break averaged 30mph in order to keep away from the chase pack. Talk about a 14-mile time trial effort with 40+ guys chasing you down.

Enjoy the pics!
*last 4 pics were taken from Craig C. on FB.

Karel's new toy (Quark Power Meter)







(Jeff was so tough that he ended up racing the rest of the weekend and with his specialty on sat afternoon - 14-mile Time Trial - he managed to place 2nd!)

















(Karel's video of his finish is posted in my AMAZING-post from Saturday)