4/2/10

Carrot muffins with pineapple cream cheese frosting & French Fries

What a great weekend for some creations.
For all of my Jewish friends (and my family), potatoes and Matzoh can get a little boring near the end of Passover. I decided to make French Fries and wow..it's been a long time since I've had a REAL french fry. However, my homemade french fries were super delicious that I don't think even the restaurants can compare to my latest healthy creation.

For those celebrating Easter (or for anyone who enjoys a healthy muffin), I took a spin off carrot cake and created a fiber-filled muffin with a super delicious pineapple topping.
I find the muffin delicious due to the scrumptious-sweet topping.

Enjoy and happy holidays!

Passover French Fries
2 Idaho Potatoes (peeled)
1-2 tsp olive oil
Pepper and additional spices/herbs

1. Cut potatoes in half and slice into fries. Continue slicing until the fries are thin.
2. Soak fries in cold water for 30 minutes to remove starch.
*Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
3. Place fries on paper towel and let dry for 10 min (this is important to make a crunchy fry).
4. Place fries on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss.
5. Add pepper and additional spices, toss again.
6. Bake for 40 minutes or until brown and crunchy. May need to toss in the oven around 30 minutes.
*This is Karel's plate - I have made him a sardine-dish the night before every race where he has landed on the podium so I guess I am becoming superstitious. This is his sardine + black bean pizza on pita bread.





Carrot muffins with pineapple cream cheese frosting

Dry:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp all spice
1 tsp nutmeg
3 tbsp chopped walnuts
3 tbsp chopped cranberries

Wet:
1 egg + 1 egg white
1 tbsp blackstrap molasses (you can use honey)
1 apple (peeled and shredded)
1 cup shredded carrots (about 3 large carrots)
1 capfull vanilla extract
1/4 cup water (at the end)

Topping:
3 tbsp crushed pineapple
2 ounces fat-free cream cheese
1 tbsp powdered sugar
1 capfull almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Mix well.
3. Combine wet ingredients (except water) and stir well.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry. Stir until well combined. Add water and mix.
5. Pour batter into muffin tins (sprayed with non-stick spray) about 3/4th tall
*I made 12 muffins and 9 mini muffins
6. Bake for 12-20 min. or until top of muffin is golden brown and firm on top.
7. When muffins are cool, blend pineapple, cream cheese, sugar and extract until almost smooth (it will probably look a little clumpy cause of the pineapple).
8. Place a tsp or two of topping on each muffin.









Transitioning to vegetarian athlete


I love being a lacto-ovo vegetarian-athlete. It's been a little over 16 years since I ate meat/fish (I think the last thing I ate was a chicken patty) and I'm still going strong on my meat-free life. I am 100% certain that I will be a vegetarian for the rest of my life. I plan on raising our kid(s) as vegetarians until they are old enough to make a personal decision to continue choosing vegetarianism. I know exercise does wonders for the human body but I can honestly say that I feel SO healthy on the inside. Next month, on May 31st, I will be 28 years old (OH MY!) and I still feel like I am 20 years old. Good thing I have long-distance triathlons to train for because I don't know how I could possibly bottle-up all of my energy.

I have received many great emails (and blog comments) regarding transiting to a vegetarian (or more plant-based) diet. I am so happy that I have inspired so many people to love fruits and veggies and non-meat protein! But I'll be honest, this blog is not designed to preach my thoughts and tell you what to do. I want to give you information that you can digest and apply to your life and get you thinking about ways that YOU can live a healthy and active life. I absolutely love inspiring and motivating others and teaching people how to appreciate healthy habits which can improve the quality of your life. Most of all, creating healthy habits which you can STICK WITH for the rest of your life.


If you are a vegetarian, what made you become one and how long have you been living meat-free?
If you aren't a vegetarian (which is absolutely fine) have you learned to adopt a more plant-based diet?
Do you find it challenging to be a vegetarian athlete? Why or why not?
I'd love to hear your thoughts about living an active life as a vegetarian


I hope you enjoy my latest article from Irongirl.com which can also be found in the latest FREE Iron Girl newsletter.
*Iron Girl Clearwater on April 10th is still open. I'll be doing the 15K but there is also a 5K run/walk distance. Both distances start at Pier 60 in Clearwater beach (70.3 World championship race finish). Hope to see you there!!

Transitioning to vegetarian athlete
An increasing number of health-conscious individuals are embracing a vegetarian-based diet and reducing some, if not all, animal products. According to a 2008 study, published by Vegetarian Times, a little more than seven million people (or around 3 percent of U.S. adults) observe a vegetarian diet and do not consume meat, poultry or fish (1). With 10 percent of U.S. adults (22.8 million) following a vegetarian-inclined diet, one would wonder if the 5 percent of non-vegetarians surveyed in 2008 as "definitely interested" have made the transition to a meat-free life? (1)

Regardless of your motives (weight maintenance/loss, religion, disease prevention, food safety concerns, animal rights, environment or improvement of overall health), a well-planned vegetarian diet can be appropriate for individuals during all life stages (ex. pregnancy, infancy and adulthood) as well as for athletes (2). According to the recent position of the American Dietetic Association, a vegetarian diet "may provide healthy benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases" and "can help prevent and treat chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes." (2)
Despite the successful careers vegetarian/vegan athletes including Joe Namath, Martina Navratilova, Dave Scott, Billie Jean King and Carl Lewis, many active individuals are skeptical of vegetarianism and believe vegetarians do not consume adequate daily protein to support physical activity and increase lean muscle mass. Vegetarianism may seem particularly impractical for endurance athletes, who repetitively damage the body through high-volume training. However, a vegetarian-based diet that emphasizes low-fat protein may be most advantageous for individuals seeking ways to recover quickly after exercise.

One of many misconceptions is the notion that vegetarians only consume vegetables. If anything, there are many "unhealthy" vegetarians who choose to rid the diet of animal-based protein and consequently build a meal around high sugar, high fat and high calorie "vegetarian" products. As with any "diet," do not assume that eliminating certain foods from will make you healthier, fitter, leaner or faster. Regardless of how strictly you alter your diet, it is important that you are committed to finding an assortment of nutritious foods that complement your active and healthy lifestyle. When planning your food intake, attention should be placed on the essential nutrients needed to support your health as well as the best foods to meet your athletic nutrient needs.

Whether you call yourself a carnivore or vegetarian, you should aim for a balanced diet including a variety of foods, to include whole grains, leafy greens, a rainbow of veggies and fruits, low fat-protein and healthy fats.

Try adding some of the following vegetarian-friendly foods to your daily regime:

Protein sources:
Low-fat yogurt
Greek yogurt
Eggs
Part-skim cheese
Tofu
Soy/skim milk
Veggie burger
Edamame
Miso
Peanut butter
Nuts
Lentils
Quinoa
Beans
Chickpeas
Whey protein
Soy protein
Note: Whey/soy protein, low-fat yogurt or milk are recommend within 30 minutes post-exercise for a speedy recovery.

Vitamin B12 sources:
Cheese
Eggs
Whey powder
Milk
Low fat yogurt
Marmite (yeast extract)
Tofu
Miso
Tempeh

Note: The main causes of vitamin B12 deficiency include vitamin B12 malabsorption from food, pernicious anemia, postsurgical malabsorption and dietary deficiency. In many situations, origin of deficiency is unknown. (3)

Iron sources:
Pumpkin seeds
Soy beans
White beans
Blackstrap Molasses
Lentils
Spinach
Potato
Tofu
Dark leafy greens
Iron fortified grains (pasta, cereals, rice)
Broccoli
Asparagus
Parsley

Note: Absorption of iron is increased with vitamin C. Try eating citrus fruits with leafy greens.

References:
1) Harris Interactive (2008, April). Vegetarians in America. Vegetarian Times.

2) Craig, W.J. and Manges, A.R. (2009). Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets. J. Am. Diet Assoc. 109(7): 126-82.

3) Andrès E., Federici L., Affenberger, S., Vidal-Alaball, J., Loukili, N.H., Zimmer J. and Kaltenbach, G. (2007). B12 deficiency: a look beyond pernicious anemia. J. Fam Pract; 56(7):537-42.



Marni holds a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and holds a certification by the American Dietetic Association in Adult Weight Management. Marni is a Level-1 USAT Coach and is currently pursuing a registered dietician degree. She is a 2007 Ford Ironman World Championship finisher and finished the Ford Ironman Louisville Triathlon on Aug. 30, 2009, in less than 11 hours. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing, and she has several published articles in Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes monthly to IronGirl.com and Beginnertriathlete.com.

Any questions: email mrakes1@hotmail.com



*Marni enjoys her meat-free diet and has been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for the past 16 years.

4/1/10

Downtown Tampa Criterium Race Report

Sorry...I'm a few days late posting Karel's race report from Sat night. Hopefully you enjoyed some of my healthy creations in the meantime.

After my run/ride on Sat morning, I was busy on the computer for a few hours while Karel took a little nap on the couch. After I finished training plans and nutrition write-ups for my athletes, I took Campy for a long walk and before I knew it, it was time to head to Tampa.

Karel drove alone to the race so that he could get in a good warm-up. My parents, Campy and I went down to Tampa 20 min later. For some reason (although I'm not surprised) I was super nervous for this race and my tummy was tingling. I find it so funny how nervous/excited I get for Karel's races... and I'm not even racing! To think, my parents spent almost 8 years watching me in swim meets and now they have triathlons, running events, Ironman's and cycling events to watch. I just think it is so special to love someone and to support them in whatever makes them happy. For Karel it is cycling and for me it is swim-bike-run.

Because I know how much Karel loves cycling, it's not about racing for money. Sure, it is nice when he comes home with a little extra grocery money for us, but he isn't a full-time Professional bike racer like many of the other guys in his category. I guess you could say it's about the glory and to be the best he can be. But you know what, at the end of the day, when the race is over, it doesn't matter what type of athlete you are (newbie, veteran, cyclist, triathlete, spin enthusiast, walker, etc.) you have to find joy and satisfaction in your sport/exercise of choice. Exercise is required for a healthy life. However, no one tells us we have to do triathlons, cycling or any race. It is choice and a choice that can be quite addicting.
As you know, triathlons are my lifestyle. For Karel, cycling is his passion. Therefore, regardless if he is an "on" day or "off" day, good race or bad race, if he comes home uninjured (no crash), in my eyes, it is a successful day.

Have you ever finished a race where you wished you could do it all over again? Or maybe you wished you would have done something differently? Well, Karel had one of those races on Sat.

He said he felt great but the race didn't unfold like he wanted. With 50+ guys in the Pro 1,2 field, there were too many large teams for the race to come down to the fastest, strongest or most powerful guy.

Right from the start at 6:30pm, the pace was fast on the .6 mile course. Karel LOVES night races, especially when they are in a downtown area. I was super excited to have some of my friends come and watch and they also loved the race. Thanks Joan + family, Terry + hubby, Andrea, Jen (who did her first triathlon that morning!), Gearlinkers (who raced earlier that morning) and my parents for cheering for Karel!

The course was a bit technical with zig zags on cobblestone and tight corners. There was only one crash so it was overall, a safe race for the Pro's.

About 20 min. into the 1 hour and 8 min. race, there was a 3-man break. About 10 min. later the break went down to 2 guys (Yip from Zmotion and Raul from Santo cycling team). Karel and several others mentioned that the pace of the race was "kinda" easy because no one wanted to chase to two leaders. You may be thinking, wouldn't 50+ guys be able to ride much faster than 2 guys in the front? Well, that's cycling for ya.
Because Zmotion and Santo had several team members in the race, there was no point to bring the chase group to the leaders when one of the two guys could possibly win the race. Therefore, when Karel would make a move, no one would go with him to chase the leaders. Because Karel can't (and wouldn't) want to chase down the leaders (later in the race, the leaders had a 30 sec. lead from the chase pack) alone, whenever Karel made a move to bring the chase group closer, a zmotion or Santo team member would just slow down, thus causing the chase group to slow down.
Now, when I say "slow"...this is very relative. The guys were going really fast and Karel was working really hard. However, overall it just wasn't the race that Karel could cross the line and feel like he did the best he could. He said he felt awesome but because of the team tactics of the other teams, there was nothing Karel could do to get in the front.
As far as the finish, which was just a 100-200 yards or so from the last corner, he said the he didn't get in the right spot for the sprint for 3rd place.

Well, Karel was able to still land in the top 15 and finished 12th. Because there was a $1999 total payout for top 20, he still ended up with some money for his finish.

Oh well. Plenty more races to come and Karel is super excited for this weekend. Webster Roubaix (which is similar to Paris Roubaix for the "real" pros) is on Sat. This is one of the hardest and longest races in the entire region. The riders will be tested over a 15km loop that includes 2km per lap of hardpack limestone and dirt. Let me tell you, I've seen this race once and it is the dirtiest race I've ever seen. Plus, Karel races for 180K!!! Triathletes - that's 112 miles!

The best part about the Tampa race was all of the great pics that were taken of Karel. Thanks Dad, Terry and Tyler for GREAT pics!
Enjoy!
































*I wonder what/who Campy is about to bark at???


3/31/10

Eggplant Parmigiana & Healthy blueberry and walnut muffins

Thank you for such wonderful comments on my last blog! I love reading your comments.

For the majority of our society, I think it is unfortunate that people can't truely enjoy/look forward to a meal on-the-go (restaurant/fast food). Perhaps you enjoy it while you are eating it but I think most people would agree that if you eat out more than 2-3 times per month, there is generally some feeling of guilt, uncomfortable fullness, bloating or unhappiness. Although I agree with many people that eating out (on occasion) should be a time to enjoy something new or different (even if it is higher in calories, fat and sodium than your normal foods) without feelings of guilt, there is no reason why you can't create restaurant-style meals at home. For people who feel as if you don't have time to cook, think back to the last time you ate out/ordered out and how long you waited/stood in line for your food. Also, think about what you paid for your meal? Sure, it may seem as if restaurant/fast food is quicker and cheaper than preparing your own food but in the bigger picture, you have so much more to look forward to (and save) by creating your own healthy meals.

For example, let's look at the nutritional breakdown of the Caribbean Salad, served at Chili's, if we were to prepare it:
Fresh pineapple - 1/2 cup (chunks): 41.5 calories
Mandarin (tangerine) oranges - 1 small: 40 calories
Dried cherries - 1/2 ounce: 50 calories
Green onions - 1/2 cup sliced: 12 calories
Cilantro - 1/8 cup: 1 calorie
Honey-lime dressing:
1 tbsp honey: 64 calories
1 fl. Ounce lime: 8 calories
Grilled shrimp: 4 oz: 120 calories

If you were to serve yourself this salad (which would be rather simple, cheap and quick to prepare at home) over a bed of romaine lettuce (1 cup shredded = 8 calories) your meal would come to 344.5 calories. Doesn't this meal sound super yummy and healthy? Why not try it tonight for dinner?
Need inspiration? Here is a beautiful shrimp, feta, cucumber, tomato salad that my dad made (I'm very impressed because my dad isn't a big salad eater)


On average, I only have a colorful salad as the main part of my meal once or maybe twice, a week..but you've seen my "barbara" salads, I put anything and everything in them. But if salads as a "main" dish aren't your thing, how about my latest creation.
All credit goes to my mom who prepared this dish for us on Friday evening. All I can say is YUM!!! Although we modified the recipe (which I am giving you today), the original recipe only came to 350 calories per serving.

Eggplant Parmigiana
2 cans No salt added diced tomatoes (add your own herbs and spices)
1 Large Eggplant
1 egg
2 tbsp water
2/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 - 2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup part-skim mozzarella shredded cheese

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Open cans of tomato sauce, lightly rinse and drain.
2. Cut eggplants into 1/4 inch slices. Mix egg and water in shallow bowl.
3. Mix bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in shallow bowl.
4. Dip eggplant into egg mixture, then coat w/ bread crumb mixture.
5. On a non-stick skillet over medium heat, heat pan w/ 1/2 tbsp oil. Cook eggplant slices for about 5 minutes, turning once, until light brown. Repeat with the rest of the slices (adding 1/2 tbsp oil if needed).
6. Place half of eggplant in ungreased rectangular baking dish (11 x 7 x 1 1/2") overlapping slices slightly. Spoon half of tomato sauce over eggplant and sprinkle w/ 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Repeat with remaining eggplant, sauce and cheese.
7. Bake (uncovered) for 25 min. or until sauce is bubbly and cheese is lightly brown.


Here is my tofu, white bean, baby tomato, zucchini, garlic mixture that I cooked on a non-stick pan w/ 1 tsp olive oil...it went perfectly, alongside steamed broccoli, with the eggplant.



Ready for dessert?

Healthy Blueberry and Walnut muffins

(according to my family and Karel, these are the BEST muffins I have EVER made)
Makes 18 muffins

Wet ingredients:
1 egg
1 apple (peeled, then shredded)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 tbsp honey
1-3 tbsp water (at the end)

Dry ingredients:
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oats
1 cup blueberries (fresh, washed)
2 tbsp chopped walnuts
2 tbsp chopped dark chocolate (or shaved)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix together dry ingredients (except blueberries). Stir until combined.
3. Mix together wet ingredients (except water). Stir well.
4. Pour wet ingredients into dry bowl and mix. Add blueberries.
5. Add additional water until batter is easy to mix (consistency should look a little lighter than pancake batter).
6. Pour a heaping TBSP of batter until muffin tin (about 3/4 full).
*optional: top with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar
7. Bake for 30-40 min or until top of muffin is golden brown.







3/30/10

Do you eat out?

I love preparing my own food. 99% of the time I do not enjoy waiting in line or sitting down and waiting for someone else to make my meal. Since Karel and I only eat out when we travel (although whenever I can, I like to bring along some of our favorite foods) I enjoy new places and trying new things, especially if it is a vegetarian-friendly place.
If you eat out 1-2 times a month, it's likely that your meals will not affect your performance and/or weight loss/maintenance so long as you are still being conscious of what you are eating, how much you are eating and making wise choices based on your current training/exercise routine. However, if eating out is a daily/weekly occurrence, it is likely that the fat, sodium and/or calories in your on-the-go meal is a limiter in your quest to live a healthy and balanced life....even if you are choosing the "healthy" options.

The problem with restaurants and fast-food is that food-items can be deceiving. Because so many places offer "healthy" items it would be natural that you would gravitate to that part of the menu in an effort to make a "healthy" option.

The other day I saw a commercial for Chili's and I went to the nutrition guide to check out the selections. I can't remember the last time I went to Chili's so I was also interested in what would be available for a vegetarian, like myself.

If I sat down and ordered from the menu I would first have to ask for "no meat/fish" for one of the salad selections. But, let's say that I did eat meat/fish and ordered a yummy salad, I'd probably order the CARIBBEAN SALAD which includes fresh pineapple, mandarin oranges, dried cherries, green onions, cilantro and honey-lime dressing. With your choice of grilled chicken or grilled shrimp. That sounds SUPER healthy AND yummy. Well, let's take a look at the nutrition facts, shall we???

Large Chili's CARIBBEAN SALAD w/ grilled shrimp
Calories: 920
Fat: 44 grams
Sat fat: 9 grams
Carbs: 112 grams
Protein: 20 grams
Sodium: 1330 mg

Well, since you were so good ordering from the "healthy" part of the menu "AKA Salads" (um, is a 920 calorie salad, with 1330 mg sodium and 44g fat considered "healthy"??) AND you worked out A LOT that day, you probably deserve a desert.
You once again want to choose "healthy" so you go with a mini shot. But I'm sure you will want to choose 3 because why choose 1 shot when Chili's offers you 3 to create your own sampler?


Sweet Shot Warm Double Chocolate Fudge Brownie

Calories: 420
Fat: 24 grams
Sat fat: 14 grams
Carbs: 51
Sodium: 25


Well, there you have it. Your semi-healthy restaurant two-course meal comes in at 1340 calories and 68 grams fat. Talk about "healthy"....Yeah RIGHT!?!?

When I go out to eat at a nice restaurant, I typically order a salad IF the salad is filled with deliciousness. I would def. go with the Caribbean salad (without the meat/fish) at Chili's because I like spending my money on a salad that includes more than lettuce, tomatoes and croutons. However, because I always try to look at on-line menu's ahead of time, I would be sure to specifically ask for the Guiltless Grill Caribbean salad which comes in at 450 calories (which is calculated with the meat).

For many of us (vegetarian athletes) who desire more than just a salad and the bread basket (YUM BREAD!) perhaps you want more than just a salad. So, you order pasta, pizza or some type of vegetarian-friendly dish when eating out.

I think Eggplant Parmigiana is a great meal for vegetarians (or any person). However, look what your "healthy" vegetarian meal looks like when you order it at a restaurant....

Macaroni Grill Eggplant Parmigiana

Calories:800
Saturated fat: 14 grams
Sodium: 1450

Since you are probably use to arriving to a restaurant hungry because you "saved" your calories (never go into a meal starving, always have a 50-100 calorie protein or fiber snack around 20-30 min before arriving to the restaurant) it is natural that you would want a salad before your entree is served.
How about a Fresh Green salad at
320 calories
5 grams saturated fat
300 mg sodium


Once again, your "healthy" meal at Macaroni Grill comes in at 1120 calories, 19g saturated fat and 1750 mg sodium. I'm assuming after this meal you don't want desert but just in case you do...
Tiramisu
Calories: 1120
Saturated fat: 48 grams
Carbohydrates: 135 grams
Sodium: 88 mg

I will give you time to digest this blog before posting my super healthy Eggplant Parmigiana & overflowing healthy blueberry muffins.


What is your favorite place to eat at and what is your favorite thing to order?
Do you eat out on a weekly/monthly basis?

Sweet-treat popcorn

Half of my friends have babies right now and the other half are pregnant. Ok, maybe not everyone I know but thanks to Facebook and blogs, it sure seems as if everyone I know is popping out a baby. That day will come for Karel and me...down the road. I wonder if she/he will be a slowtwitch athlete like mommy or fast-twitch like daddy? :)

Well, regardless if you have kids, are pregnant, don't have kids or consider yourself a doggy/kitty-mommy (am I normal for thinking that Campy is my "child" right now?) we all deserve a sweet treat every now and then.

Enjoy my homemade popcorn with a little sweet twist.

Sweet-treat popcorn
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1 tsp canola oil

2 tsp melted dark chocolate
1 tsp natural peanut butter
1 tbsp raisins
1 tsp cinnamon
Drizzle of honey

1. In a large pot (with a lid), combine kernels and oil and mix until coated.
2. Turn heat to medium and pop kernels (about 5-7 min.). When you hear kernels popping, lift up the pot (which is covered) and give a shake every 30-60 sec.
3. When popcorn is finished, remove from heat and let cool for 5 min.
4. When popcorn is cool, heat chocolate and peanut butter for 60-90 sec. When melted (better to undercook and keep cooking in 15-30 sec. intervals rather than overheating) stir together.
5. Place 1 1/2 cups popcorn in a large baggy (or large bowl) and add melted chocolate/peanut butter. Toss.
6. Add raisins, cinnamon and honey and give another toss.
7. Enjoy now or if using a baggy, place in refrigerator for later in the day.

3/29/10

Just Cruisin'

Although it was strange traveling alone with Campy on Thurs, I wanted to come a day early to visit my parents. First I visited my good friend Kelly in Tampa to see baby #2, 7-day old Alex. Campy was super excited to run around in Kelly's backyard but was 10x more excited to see his grandparents at his mansion-resort (aka - a house w/ a pool in the backyard). On Friday morning I met up with one of my athletes, Andrea, at the Gills YMCA and we had a great 1-hr tempo run on the treadmill (chatting away), followed by a good core session and a 30-minute swim in the chilly outdoor pool (they just re-filled the pool and turned on the heater.....brrrr).
Karel and our friend Tyler came in late to my parents on Friday night and I was super excited to see Karel. My good friend Mallory was supposed to come with Tyler (her BF) but she is sick :( Get better soon Mallory!!
My alarm went off at 6am on Sat morning and I was SO excited for my long run. Almost 2 hours of running on the schedule and I couldn't think of doing it anywhere else, besides Starkey Park. My parents live 3 miles from the entrance of Starkey Park (paved and off-road trails for bikers, walkers, runners, etc. which connects to the Suncoast Trail, also for bikers and runners) so I had a good 9 miles in the park to look for deer, squirrels, turtles and bunnies.

It was a little cool in the morning but it warmed up fast. With my garmin, music, pink fuel belt and Hammer visor I was set and ready to go.

The run was great. This was my longest run of the year, thus far, so I tried to run a bit slower than normal. Well, everytime I looked at my Garmin, cruising along at my comfortable pace, I was running under 8 min/miles. I figured I would just stay steady and enjoy my pace while it lasted. After my run in the park, I headed home and picked up the pace for the last 2 miles. Still feeling good in an aerobic-zone, I was pleasantly surprised with my pace. I was smiling my whole run because it's been a while since I've felt comfortable running. Sure, I still get my leg weakness every now and then (piriformis syndrome) but I know how to deal with it and not let it slow me down. I took the whole off-season to work on my weakness's (strengthening my butt and hips) and I'm glad I'm focusing on quality workouts over quantity.
No more 'Junk' mileage for me and based on my splits, I think I'm heading in the right direction for the Rock N' Roll Half Ironman (Macon, GA in May) and Ironman Wisconsin.

Stats for my run:
1 hour and 55 minutes
Total: 14.8 miles
Average Pace: 7:49 min/mile
Mile 1: 8:11
2: 8:03
3: 8:08
4: 7:44
5: 7:48
6: 7:48
7: 7:46
8: 7:47
9: 7:50
10: 7:43
11: 7:46
12: 7:47
13: 7:37
14: 7:33
.8: 6:10
(I saw Karel taking Campy for a walk so I finished my last .2 miles walking with my boys).

After my run, I wished Tyler good luck for his race (Karel's race was at 6:30pm, Tyler raced at 11:50am) and I joined Karel for an easy spin on our bikes.

I absolutely LOVE riding my bike (typically I bike my run route but sometimes I just spin on the trainer...it's not a fast ride and I don't look at my pace) after I do my long run. Because of my past injury and experience with eating after a long or intense run (it takes me a while to be able to feel comfortable putting something in my stomach), I need a long warm-down after my longest run. I was super happy to ride with Karel and even more happy that we saw a group of our Gearlink Friends as we were riding. We turned around to catch them and it was great to ride like old times (Karel and I met/were set-up on a Gearlink team Wed. night bike ride). I guess I was so excited to see everyone that I jumped in on their rotation and after 2 times rotating I told Karel that my legs were toasted and I would need to stay in the back.

It was great to just draft behind the group and enjoy TriMarni (what a comfortable and smooth bike!). After 10 miles with the group, Karel and I headed home (in the wind-OUCH!) but once again, gotta love drafting. Karel was steady and fast and got us home quickly. What a great 1 hour, 20 mile recovery ride.

When we got home from our ride my dad was anxious to try out a new lens on his camera so Karel and I had a little photo session with my dad. How fun! :)
After the photo session, Campy woke up from his nap.....


and joined me by (not in) the pool as I stood in the water for an "ice" bath.
After 10 min of icing and a quick shower, it was time for eggs, a strawberry and blueberry whey protein smoothie and my homemade whole wheat walnut and blueberry pancakes. YUM!