5/1/10

Crust-less Pizza and more exciting races

I hope you aren't bored with all of my posts about Speed Week. Karel has two more races to go!!! We are currently in Charlotte NC. Last night we were in Spartenburg, SC., today is Dilworth, NC. and tomorrow is Sandy Springs, GA! I have a feeling on Mon I will be officially tired of traveling and ready to get back to my normal routine.
As for the racing, so far he is on fire and has finished every race around mid-pack. Last night in Spartenburg Karel finished 37 out of 86 finishers (137 starters) which was his best finish yet.
His legs are also on fire due to the crazy fast racing. Each race starts around 7:30pm and lasts around 90 minutes. Karel's recovery has been great and I am super proud of his effort and for staying with guys who are racing on a team and bring home a bike salary every month/week. Every night this week he goes to bed dreaming about tight turns, dodging crashes and sprinting and wakes up only to do it all again the next day. And for every race, if he can just get through the first 20 min. of pure pain and torture, he can get into a zone and feel somewhat comfortable with the suffer-fest. He says the first part of the race, starting at 0% and going to 110%, is just the worst feeling.

The best part of this whole trip is going to see my friend Christi in Charlotte. We LOVE where she lives and loving the training in NC. This morning I went for a great hilly bike ride followed by a hilly run. I'm really looking forward to a recovery week next week because I am just pooped with all of my training outside of Florida. I sure love hills but my body is ready to catch up on sleep and get back to a normal routine.

Campy is also super excited about the trip to NC. He gets to see his buddy Milo!!! Campy loves it when Milo chases him (guess who wins :)



One thing I love when I travel is pizza!! Ok, I love pizza all of the time. It's been a few years since I've ordered delivery pizza (I think 2006 was the last time) but I can think of several times in the past year when I've ordered a scrumptious slice of super yummy thin crust veggie-topped pizza (light on the cheese) at a restaurant.
When I make pizza at home, I just love the combination of flavors when I pile on the veggies and I especially love marinara sauce on bread. However, just like with any meal that I enjoy on the road or in a restaurant, I think it is the taste that I enjoy so much and not necessarily how it is served. Therefore, I can still enjoy "pizza" even when it isn't shaped in a triangle and doesn't have a delicious crust. Of course, a pizza isn't a pizza without the crust (and I do LOVE the crunch of thin crust pizza) but sometimes you just have to be a little creative when you are craving cheese, marinara sauce and veggies.

Here's my crust-less vegetable "pizza". Perfect in the evening after a long day. I've served this meal in several ways and I find that a small whole grain pita, a piece of 100% whole wheat bread or brown rice go great with this "pizza" if your body is in need of some whole grains.

Jalepenos
Chickpeas
Corn
Black beans
Onions
Mushrooms
Tomatoes
Marinara Sauce
Spices (Italian, Chili flakes, basil)
Garlic
Shredded cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place all veggies (you can add diced lean meat or tofu/veggie burger) in casserole dish.
3. Top with spoonfuls of marinara sauce and a little sprinkle of cheese
4. Bake for 20-30 min. or until veggies turn golden brown.



4/30/10

Vegetarian grocery list

I have received several emails and comments on my blog regarding my weekly groceries.
I am more than happy to provide my "staple" grocery list which includes the foods I buy on a weekly basis, no matter what. There are always extra's that I throw in every now and then but you can typically find the same foods in our fridge and pantry no matter what day of the week or what time of the year.

Before I give you a template of what you can consider to add/include in your diet in order to help fuel your workout and lifestyle, I want to open your mind to the idea of shopping healthy on a budget.

We live in a world of processed food. Sure, there are healthy boxed, frozen, packaged and canned foods but the best nutrition can be found in foods that contain little to no ingredients.
My idea of a healthy diet is building off a plant-based diet. Regardless if you are a vegetarian, vegan or meat-eater, the diet should be rich in fruits and veggies to provide your body with an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Assuming that you understand a little bit about the human body, I think you would agree that vitamins and minerals are essential in our diet as they play major role in the normal functioning of the human body. Considering that many people in developing countries suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies, you would think that American's would take advantage of the abundance of fruits and veggies in the grocery store in an effort to prevent severe health conditions.

Sadly, much of our nation is obsessed with calories, weight and for many people, performance. I find a strong correlation in the rising number of overweight and obese individuals and the ever-increasing number of processed, "healthy" and fast food options available to consumers. If you think about it, 20-30 years ago the options of "healthy" foods were small compared to now, yet 20-30 years ago, much of the American population was at a healthy weight and lead a fairly active lifestyle.

Despite the number of sugar-free, fat-free, sodium-free options on the shelf, American's aren't losing weight. In my opinion, a calorie isn't just a calorie. People are choosing "diet" foods and "healthy" foods, yet feeling hungry and unsatisfied throughout the day.
You don't lose/maintain weight and/or increase performance by just eating x-amount of calories per day. By timing your nutrition with your training (thus keeping your blood sugar stable), allowing your body to metabolize fat for fuel (thus not overdoing it on sugary sport drinks and unnecessary/unused calories during training) and focusing on recovery nutrition you will ultimately find yourself with more energy throughout the day, thus allowing your body to stay more active. By focusing on more fiber and nutrient-rich foods, in addition to complex carbs, lean/low fat protein and healthy fat you will find yourself eating a variety of foods, thus providing your body with a variety of nutrients, without a lot of calories.

I stress the importance of eating on a budget because many of the "cheap" foods are found in the outside of the grocery store. Sure, the apples may not be on sale and may run you $3, but an apple for a snack, served with 1/2 ounce cheese or 1/2 tbsp natural PB may be much more beneficial to your diet and body than a box of 110 calorie Special K protein snack bars, with an ingredient list that reads:
COATING (SUGAR, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED PALM KERNEL OIL?, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, WHEY, NONFAT DRY MILK, SOY LECITHIN, SORBITAN MONOSTEARATE, SALT, POLYSORBATE 60, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR), CORN SYRUP, SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, FRUCTOSE, SUGAR, RICE FLOUR, SEMISWEET CHOCOLATE (SUGAR, CHOCOLATE, COCOA BUTTER), TOFFEE BITS (SUGAR, BUTTER [CREAM, SALT], CRISP RICE [RICE FLOUR, SUGAR, MALT EXTRACT, SALT, RICE BRAN], CORN SYRUP, SWEETENED CONDENSED SKIM MILK [SUGAR, SKIM MILK], SALT), SOYBEAN AND PALM OIL WITH TBHQ FOR FRESHNESS, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, WHEY PROTEIN ISOLATE, CONTAINS TWO PERCENT OR LESS OF INULIN, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, MAGNESIUM PHOSPHATE, TRICALCIUM PHOSPHATE, NONFAT DRY MILK, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, SALT, GELATIN, GLYCERIN, MALT EXTRACT, SODIUM ASCORBATE (VITAMIN C), VITAMIN E ACETATE, SOY LECITHIN, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, NIACINAMIDE, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B1), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), ALMOND FLOUR, PARTIALLY DEFATTED PEANUT FLOUR, WHEAT STARCH, VITAMIN B12. ?LESS THAN 0.5g TRANS FAT PER SERVING

Better yet, how about a glass of skim milk and a piece of fruit?

Right now in my life, I can't spend a lot of money on my weekly groceries. I would love to buy Greek Yogurt every day but with Karel and I eating at least 8 ounces low fat yogurt a day, I would spend about a 1/4th of my weekly grocery budge just on Greek yogurt. I would love to buy organic meat and fish for Karel but right now, I buy fresh whenever I find a good sale. I don't have hardly any organic food in my house but I would love to consider some other options of foods (specifically fruits and veggies) when I have a bit more money. Do I think that buying organic is going to make me healthier? Well, that all depends on whether or not my body needs the food and what it will provide to my body. Maybe all I can afford right now is brown rice but in a few months I can try out a few different types of grains. I certainly prioritize my food choices the best I can so that I can have a variety of food to meet my athletic and individual requirements and I plan on doing that now and in the future. I'd like to think that I am eating today in order to feel good tomorrow and planning my diet to keep me healthy for the future.

Therefore, as you plan your grocery list to fuel your workout and your lifestyle, bear in mind that you do not have to leave the grocery store with an empty wallet. As you build your diet, to meet your individual needs (and not what a magazine or book is telling you to do) prioritize foods with little or no ingredients (veggies, fruit, lean/low fat protein, healthy unsaturated fats). With the base of your diet filled with vitamins and minerals, you can then build your meals/snacks with foods in the inside of the grocery store (as opposed to the perimeter).

My typical Grocery List
*I try to buy on sale so I typically shop around at Wal-mart, big lots (no fruits and veggies there), Food Lion and Publix.

Fruits:
Bananas
Oranges
Grapes
Apples
Strawberries
Peaches/Nectarines

Veggies
Tomatoes (although technically a fruit)
Onion
Garlic
Mushrooms
Corn (frozen)
Spinach
Romaine
Carrots
Broccoli/Zucchini
Potatoes

Grains
Nature's Own High Fiber Bread
Sandwich Thins
Brown Rice
Couscous
Whole grain/enriched pasta
Fresh bread
Oatmeal (instant and packaged)
Cereal (I typically buy at Big Lots because they are super cheap. I try to find the lowest sugar and least ingredient option)


Beans
*all canned (rinse and drain before using)
Chickpeas
Black beans
White beans

Protein
Skim milk
Part-skim mozzarella cheese/swiss cheese
Low fat yogurt
Greek yogurt
Veggie burgers (on occasion)
Firm Tofu
Low fat or Fat Free Breakstone Cottage Cheese
Eggs
Whey protein (Body Fortress at Wal-mart)
Natural PB
Nuts
Seeds

Others
*these last for a while so we usually don't go through them fast
Low sugar jelly
Whipped cream cheese
Condiments (horseradish mustard)
Salsa (ok-we go through this fast)
Marinara sauce
Spices/herbs (no salt)
Olive oil
Canola Oil
Dark Chocolate (ok-this needs replacing on a weekly basis :)
Fiber One granola bars
Popcorn kernels
Blackstrap molasses
Honey
Wheat flour
Olivio butter
Hummus

4/29/10

Recipes for "most of the time"

Back in Jax....for the next 24 hours. Then back on the road again.
Karel and I love to work hard/play hard so as tiring as it is to be on the road so much in between races (rather than just taking long vacations), we certainly don't complain when we travel.
As you know, one of my philosophy's for healthy eating is;
"If you eat well most of the time you don't have to worry about the rest of the time"

I think traveling for "vacation" is a perfect example of "the rest of the time" when you may deviate from your normal training and eating routine. However, if you aren't sticking to your normal training schedule and you are doing more eating-out than normal while on vacation, one would think that "most of the time" you stick to a consistent training routine and you understand your personal nutrition requirements to support your lifestyle.

Over the past few days, I have tried my best to bring as much food as I can with us, so that we don't go long hours without eating and that we have some of our staple foods/snacks with us when we get a craving. However, as for meals, I look forward to going to new places and trying new foods.
One thing I don't like is paying money for meals which are not as appetizing as they claim to be (although on the menu they sound appetizing and healthy). Secondly, I don't like paying for healthy meals (ex. salads) which leave me hungry an hour after I spent $8-12 for the meal. Just like with my training, I am all about quality over quantity and if I am paying money for a vegetarian-friendly meal I want to feel good about what I put in my body.

One thing I DO NOT do when I travel is give myself the opportunity to have a free-for-all and eat everything and anything that I don't eat on a daily basis. More so, I try to eat on a somewhat normal schedule so that I can feel in control of what I put in my body (and not order something on impulse because I'm starving). I make sure I start my morning with a slow digesting breakfast, I try to eat fruits and veggies as much as I can and I try to balance out my meals with healthy fats, low fat protein and complex carbs.


One thing that I DO when I travel is make sure that I enjoy myself and not feel guilty, restricted or unhappy when I eat. As I continue to improve on my healthy relationship with food on a daily basis when I am at home, I am well aware that a cookie or ice cream cone once or twice while on vacation is not going to make me "fat". I avoid negative self-talk while on vacation and I make sure that I enjoy every bite of food that I put in my mouth.

Throughout the last few days, Karel and I have enjoyed a few sweet treats that we normally don't eat on a daily basis. Considering that Karel has a huge sweet tooth when we are at home, when we are on vacation it is nice to try local favorites and share deserts like a homemade cookie or ice cream. Because Karel has different calorie and macronutrient requirements than me (especially this week since he is doing 7 criterium races in 9 days) he has the opportunity to enjoy more food and more food options than myself. However, that doesn't mean that we can't share a yummy treat. Furthermore, knowing that most of the time we strive to eat to support our athletic lifestyle, all while keeping our immune system, heart, brain and muscles healthy, it would absolutely ridiculous if I told myself I couldn't enjoy a whole cookie (rather than sharing some with Karel).

I hope that everyone reading this blog understands that there is no perfect diet and there are many opportunities in the year to enjoy foods that you normally wouldn't eat....without feeling guilty or out-of-control when eating them. Your daily habits should support those special eating opportunities and with your daily nutrition habits in mind, you should find yourself feeling in control of what you put in your body, even if it isn't part of your eating routine. I would hope that if you eat well most of the time, you recognize how to make educated healthy choices and still enjoy a few sweet treats.

Karel and I couldn't wait to get back home to have some color in our life. I honestly don't know how people can eat a variety of fruits and veggies while eating out. I always stress the importance of preparing meals at home and avoiding eating out. Thinking back on the last few days, it was really hard for me to eat my normal favorite foods (fruits, veggies and low fat protein) while on the road. In my opinion, a veggie sub (w/ a veggie burger) at Subway is not my idea of meeting my vegetable recommendations. Furthermore, I don't want to spend the money on a salad, in an effort to get more veggies into my body, only to be hungry an hour later.
I add a little more fat to my diet (mostly through PB, cheese and nuts) when I travel because I just hate being hungry all of the time. To me, traveling is a great opportunity for me to stay active, enjoy new things and enjoy new places. If I have food on my mind 24/7 I am not going to make the most of my vacation. I bring as much fruit and vegetables (mostly carrots since they are easy for traveling), as well as yogurt, hardboiled eggs and whole grain bread, in our cooler but I don't want to spend my whole vacation eating in my room.

As you continue your quest to build a healthy relationship with food, I can't stress enough of the importance of building your diet off a plant-based diet in order to feel good about what you put in your body. Don't be afraid of healthy fats and be sure to balance out your carbs with lean/low fat protein.
The more I experiment with my own eating routine to support my training routine, the more I am convinced that eating is very much controlled by chemicals and hormones in our body. While I can not explain all of these processes, I have learned enough through my graduate education (MS in Exercise Physiology) that our body is a very amazing thing. Therefore, if we "train" it to do certain things on a daily basis, the body begins to become much more efficient at metabolizing fuels and because of that, when you have an "off" day of eating (planned or unplanned) your body does not react negatively to the change in food.


What's your favorite "rest of the time" food/snack?
When we travel, if I can find one around, I love the Close Talker at Moe's (w/ Tofu) and the Egg white bagel sandwich (stuffed with veggies) at Einstein Bagels. I also LOVE local thin-crust pizza. For a treat I love taking bites of whatever Karel eats (typically brownies, banana bread and cookies).

How about some new healthy recipes to inspire you to eat more at home....
Non-vegetarian:

Coconut almond chicken


1 chicken breast
2 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp shredded coconut
2 tbsp chopped or sliced almonds

1. On medium heat, cook defrosted chicken breast in 1 tsp oil.
2. Before flipping chicken to cook other side, spread olive oil over top of chicken and top with coconut and almond.
3. After a few minutes of cooking chicken, flip to cook other side.



Tuna Salad Wrap
1 can tuna (in water)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
Onion (chopped), roma tomato (chopped), peas, radish (sliced), celery (chopped)
1 hardboiled egg (optional)

1. Mix all ingredients (add as much of the veggies as you like..the more the better!)
2. Stuff a few big spoonfuls in pita.
*you can use more than 1 can tuna if you want to make more servings.



Vegetarian

Potato, Spinach and Egg bake


2 potatoes (cooked until semi-soft/mashable)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1/4 cup skim milk
Eggs (1 per person)
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 big handfulls spinach (chopped finely)
pepper, no salt seasonings
Optional: Spoonful panko bread crumbs

*preheat oven to 325 degrees
1. Mash potatoes and add milk.
2. Add other ingredients (except eggs).
3. Spoon mixture in casserole dish. Top with breadcrumbs and additional spices.
4. Bake for 15 minutes.
5. Carefully crack eggs on corners of the casserole.
6. Bake until egg is cooked and edges of casserole turn light brown.
(I put my eggs on the casserole the first time I baked it so I am thinking if you cook the dish first and then add the eggs, the eggs won't be as hard. However, the dish was SUPER yummy)





Leftover tofu soup
*Want to finish up your leftovers before you travel? This is a perfect recipe that you can really play around with, depending on what you have in your fridge. Here's what I used:

Carrots
Tofu (firm, cubed)
Garlic
Onions
Red potatoes (cooked in microwave for 2-3 minutes to make it easier to cube)
Mushrooms
Broccoli stalk
Low sodium vegetarian vegetable stock (1 cup) - your stock doesn't have to be expensive, just compare food labels and look for the lowest sodium option
2-3 cups water

1. In a large pot on medium/high heat, add water and stock.
2. When water starts to bubble, add other ingredients and any additional no-salt seasonings (ex. basil, Italian, chili pepper, etc.).
3. Turn down heat to medium and cover until vegetables are soft (about 20 minutes).



Carrot Ginger Slaw

*Makes a lot. Perfect for get-togethers or functions
2 cups carrots (shredded)
1 gala apple (shredded)
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp fresh ginger (shredded)
2-3 tbsp lime juice (taste after you add 2 tbsp. May need more to meet your liking)
1/4 cup chopped raisins
1/4 sunflower seeds

1. Mix together ingredients. Stir well.
2. Refrigerate.

4/28/10

Athens, Roswell & Beufort

Lots of traveling this week. Welcome to USA CRIT SPEED WEEK!
Technically this is our "vacation" but with Karel being the general manager of the Trek store, it seems as if he is never on vacation. He loves his job and has a great boss but there is always something to be done or needed at the Trek store of Jacksonville.
It is great that Karel is able to do the entire Speed Week but he also has to squeeze in some time at work in between the races (the racers had/have an off day on Mon and Thurs this week). As for me, I feel as if I work 24/7 but most (if not all) of my work is on the computer. Karel wants me to get a blackberry so I can keep up with emails while we are on the road, but I am not sure if I am ready for that technical advancement in my life. Although I rely on the computer for everything I do, I am not too tech-savvy and I prefer to keep things simple in my life. The more electronics that I bring into my life, the more stressed I feel when something goes wrong.

Athens was amazing. Unfortunately, Karel didn't finish the race but that's ok. He was really hoping to finish this year but throw in the rain, the course was 10x harder than the past few years. I know Karel won't give up and one of the years he WILL finish Athens!
Just to put this race into perspective, this is nothing like the cycling races in Florida. Imagine that you are a top runner or triathlete in your local town and compared to other athletes, you feel pretty confident with your skills and talent and if you are having a good day, you can have a best time or place well in your age group. Well, that would be Karel in Florida and Georgia when he does the Pro 1,2 cycling races. Now, when you get to USA Speed Week, the top domestic professional cyclists (who race and trai for a living) are on a whole other level. This is the REAL thing. Although the races in Florida and Georgia challenging with great riders, they just don't compare to the speed and talent at this level.
So, imagine yourself being able to race with elite triathletes or runners at a BIG event. You only have one chance to try to stay with the leaders and if you can't stay with them (say, if they are running 5 min/miles and you can only run 6 min/miles) you are done for the day. Yep-that's what Karel feels like when he races USA Speed Week. Karel is simply racing to finish...each race that he finishes is an accomplishment and a boost in his fitness. He loves the push and hard effort at these races and he LOVES LOVES LOVES doing night crit races. The races are longer and faster than what he is use to and he has this week on his mind all year long as he is training and racing.

30 people finished the Athens Twilight crit out of 150 starters. It was simply amazing watching the rain come down on the riders and the riders picking up the pace, almost as if they weren't even bothered by the wind and rain. The crowd was crazy but I wouldn't expect anything less in a college town with Terrapin beer as the title sponsor. Lots of money was on the line for this race and every finisher received money (paid 30 deep). Karel said his fitness was there but with the number of crashes, flat tires (you are advised to take out pressure in your tires when racing in the rain, but that also increases the chance of flats) and guys quitting the race, it was almost impossible for him to move up in the field. He was just hanging on for dear life. Karel said his brakes didn't work at all so when he made the 90-degree turns at 30+ mph, it was really hard for him to dodge crashes without his brakes (I would say that none of the guys had working brakes due to the pouring rain). Karel made 20 laps (20K) out of the 80K race and I would say that he held on much longer than about 50 guys. The field just got smaller and smaller as the minutes ticked by and after 1 hour and 40+ minutes of racing (80K later) Karel, Curtis (who also raced but didn't finish), Ralph and I watched the lead break finish the race. Absolutely amazing!

The next stop was Roswell GA (about an hour away from Athens). Karel and I started the morning with a short bike ride in rolling hills. Karel just took it easy and I had fun sprinting up the hills. I just love rollers. After our bike ride and breakfast, we packed up the car and headed out for race #2.
Karel finished Roswell and I was happy that my friend Wes (codegeekstail.blogspot) came to watch. The course is very spectator friendly. Crit races are around 1K (some are less than a mile, although technically that would be called a circuit race) in length so it is really cool to walk around the entire race course to get different views of the race.
Karel finished around mid pack and he looked really good out there. Curtis finished a bit ahead of Karel. Karel and I hit the road right after the 6:30pm race (which lasted 90 minutes) and it was a LATE night for us. We got home at 2:30am and we were ready for some good sleep.

Mon was a day off for both Karel and I for training and my highlight of the day was seeing my CAMPY!!! Thank you Laura for driving him to my parents on your way to St. A's and thanks to my parents for taking such loving care of my Campy!

Well, we are now in Beufort and Karel had race 3# of 7. Last night Karel told me that he has never finished this race (last 2 years) and he would be lucky if he made it halfway. He said he just wants to see how long he can last because the course is really tight and technical with lots of crashes and tight turns. After walking with Campy around the course, he was right! Holy cow, this race looked harder than Athens!
The race started at 7:30 pm and it got dark really quick. I managed to take a few pics with daylight but got lots of videos.
There were several crashes and one crash that stopped the entire field in a corner. Karel and about 20 other guys had to get back to the wheel pit to wait until the field came by again (at this point there was a 6 man break, followed by the chase pack around 45 sec. back). Karel and the other guys managed to get back into the race but out of the 100+ guys who started, there were only around 40-60 guys still in the race. With 7 laps to go (out of 75 laps) Karel got a flat and had to get a spare wheel from the wheel pit. Once again, he was out of his rhythm but managed to get back into the race. After 5 laps to go you aren't allowed spare wheels so I was hoping that Karel wouldn't get another flat (or get in a crash) so that he could finish this race. He looked really good out there and although he was near the back of the group, he managed to stay in the game for the 90 minute race.
Way to go Karel....finishing 2 out of 3 races is amazing.....we are off to Walterboro SC in a few hours for race #4! Heading back to Jax for the day tomorrow and then off to Spartenberg, SC on Fri, Dilworth NC on Sat and Sandy Springs GA on Sun!
Here are some video's... I will post pics later.

Athens, GA:
Karel's last lap
video

Roswell, GA:
HUGE field!!
video

Beufort, SC:
video

video

video

4/26/10

The Twilight 5K and $1000 mile

The computrainer finals on Fri were very exciting to watch but by the time we got back to the room at 10pm, a full day of excitement had gotten the best of us and we were ready for bed.

My alarm went off at 6:45am so technically, I "slept in" and it felt great. I am a big fan of sleeping(napper, not so much) so for me I need a good 8 hrs of sleep to wake up rested. Although my sleep is rarely continuous with 2 cats that insist on eating throughout the night and a dog who loves to cuddle under the covers, but somehow, I seem to wake up rested on a daily basis.
I had a restful night of rest in my Zoot compression tights and I was looking forward to the Twilight 5K run in and out of downtown Athens. I did the run last year and had a personal best time of 21 minutes and 6 seconds and for the past few years I have always wanted to run 20 minutes for a 5K. Although I do not consider myself a sprinter, I have worked really hard over the past 8 months (since IMKY) to work on my speed for shorter distances, as I progress into longer distances. I figure I can't run fast long distance until my body becomes more efficient running fast at shorter distances. Although it has been a slow off-season and build season, my patience and quality training is slowly starting to pay off. I remember the time, not too long ago in Dec. when running 6 miles at 8 min/mile pace was difficult. However, through a slow progression of intervals, tempo and long runs (in addition to swimming and biking) 6 miles at 8 min/mile pace turned into 9 miles at 7:55 min/mile pace and now I am running 14-15 miles at 7:45-7:50 min/mile pace. I am hoping to keep myself injury-free by sticking to my strategy of intervals during the week and steady long distance runs on the weekend until June 5th (Macon GA Rock n' Roll Halfman)...then it is time to train for IMWI!

Anyways, after coffee,water and a mini snack of cinnamon raisin bread from the Days Inn breakfast w/ a little Skippy Natural PB (PB and nuts go with me whenever I travel 'cause I gotta have some type of healthy fat or else I am hungry 24/7) at 7am it was time to get ready for the race.

The forecast for Sat was rain, rain and more rain. Oh yeah, mix in a little thunder and storms for one exciting day in Athens. I won't discuss the face that Karel's 9:30pm Twilight crit is hard enough on dry roads.....

Luckily, there was a brief period of no rain as I walked up to the race start (.5 miles away from the hotel) but as soon as I stood at the starting line with several hundred other runners, the clouds opened up and down came the rain.
If you participant in athletic events, I agree that it is really easy to complain about the weather. However, having trained and raced in the rain, cold, wind and blistering sun, I have learned over the years that it is a waste of energy to complain about the uncontrollables. There was absolutely no complaining by Karel and me before Sat (and on Sat) even though I compulsively checked the weather on an hourly basis....just in case the weather changed from horrible to wonderful. It was a shame about the ugly and unfortunate weather conditions for such a big and important race but it is what it is and if the weather sucks, we were just going to suck it up and go with it. If anything, we tried to make light of it and laugh it off as much as possible.

The horn went off for the race and I started my garmin. The course is rolling from 2K until 4K and if you aren't running up a hill you are running down. The course is really fast but the hills are not very generous on your quads or calves.
The first mile went by fast and I was feeling good to go for sub 21 minutes. Based on my last few races, I felt I had it in me to hold sub 7 min/miles for 3.1 miles.
Just before mile 2, after a huge downhill and uphill, a pile of bricks landed on my shoulders and I began to run in quicksand...or so it felt like it.
My breathing was under control and I had plenty of energy but wow was my body ready to sloooooowwww down. As I approached the turn which was followed by Mile marker 2, a volunteer was yelling out times. When he said "12 minutes, x-seconds" I got a sudden boost of energy before looking at my Garmin.
I picked up the pace as much as I could and with my non-sprinting legs, I guess you could say that I sprinted the last mile. Once again, there were a few more rollers but I was determined to get a best time.
When I made the last right turn in downtown, I could see the finish line and the clock which did not read 20 minutes....
Instead, it was reading 19 minutes!!! I ran as fast as my 5 foot frame would let me run under 20 minutes and you better believe I was painfully smiling when I crossed the finish line.
Garmin stats:
19:54 (Best time by 1 minute and 12 sec!)
Average pace: 6:31 min/mile
Mile 1: 6:35
Mile 2: 6:22
Mile 3: 6:38
last .1 mile was 5:44 pace (OUCH)

I couldn't wait to get back to the room to tell Karel so after I found out I won my age group (wasn't shooting for anything but a best time but I will take it!) I sloooooowly jogged back to the hotel...in the rain.
Did I mention that it was pouring rain during our run?

Karel was super excited for me and he was very impressed with my "speed".
I decided to pass on the 100K ride after the run because I was in no mood to ride hills in the rain. Since I was already wet I decided to do my "long" run (which I left up to my legs as to how long I would actually run) around the morning race course.

I headed 2.5 miles down to the cycling crit course where groups of riders (in categories) were racing for a few dozen slots for the amateur final race at 5:30 (before the Main events which include the Women Pro race at 8pm and then Men's race at 9pm). Several of the guys do this crit as a "warm-up" race for the night race but I would say the majority of the riders actually race the race so that they can participate in amateur finals in the evening (by placing top 10 or 15 in their category).

Karel, Curtis and Ralph all did the morning race. Curtis and Ralph did the 35+ (age group) race and Ralph placed 7th, qualifying him for amateur finals. Since Karel is not "old enough" to do the 35+ race (hehe - Karel is 34 years old) he did the Pro 1,2 race "for fun".

I ran around the race course as Karel warmed up and had a great time running up and down some hills. Although slow running was all I had in mind, it was nice to push it up the hills. My legs were a bit sore from the morning so with my "fun" training run, I took a few stops every few miles to watch the race. After my run I took a shower, mixed together some whey protein and milk, mixed in some of my homemade granola and headed to watch Karel's race.
Stats from my run:
1 hour and 13 minutes
8.5 miles
8:39 min/mile pace

Total miles for the day: 11.5 miles (+ 1 mile to get to and from the 5K race)

I wore my compression shorts during Karel's race at 12;45 pm but my legs were ready for some rest. However, this weekend was all in fun as our "vacation" and I always take time to remind myself how amazing the human body can be when we don't even ask it to do amazing things. I had been non-stop since my 5K that morning but didn't even miss a beat of the day in an effort to support Karel and watch him have a little fun at this morning race. He was super nervous for the night crit so it was enjoyable to watch him out there making it look super easy...considering that there would be nothing easy about the night race with the Top Pro teams racing for $120,000...in the rain!


Finally, after several small snacks throughout the day it was time for some lunch and finally by 3pm it was time to rest our tired legs.
Karel took a nap as I worked on some nutrition stuff on the computer and through the on and off storms/rain we just watched the clock tick on by....

Due to my top 15 finish at the morning 5K, I qualified to run in the $1000 mile at 7:30pm.
Last year I qualified but had to business running with college and HS runners who run sub 5:30 min/miles. This year I once again opted out of the $1000 1 mile race ($1000 pay out for top 5 men and women) which is held on Karel's night race course in downtown Athens....that is, until I saw Karel's teammate Curtis on the morning race course during my long run.

I told him about my race and that I qualified to run in the evening on their very difficult course (you would never guess it but there are several inclines and declines on the 1K course). He told me I should do it but I just laughed and said there is no way I am "sprinting" a mile and coming in last place. Plus, I had just ran all those miles with my PR and I was done for the day.
The deciding moment....
"Marni" says Curtis "Karel punished himself for 9 minutes on the computrainer last night I think it's your turn to make it hurt for 6 minutes"

Well, thanks to Curtis, I decided to embarrass myself and run the mile with thousands of people watching me come in last place.


To make the story short, my legs were toasted and the run started on the bottom of a steady incline. Let's just say I got dropped before the gun went off. The guys were aiming for sub 4:30 and the girls sub 5:30...haha, I'd be lucky if I could run sub 6:30!!
I nearly quit at the top of the hill before the first turn of the 1 1/2 loop course and within 5 sec. away from quitting, I hear my name from Karel's coach Shawn and our friend Saswata. I kept on running and after the second turn (still running alone with no one in sight) I hear my name again. Although it was a painful 1 mile, I just smiled the whole way (in the rain, once again) with my Czech Republic shirt (just for Karel) thinking to myself that this is a great experience and lesson for future races. As crazy as it sounds, no matter how "fast" you think you are, it takes a lot to actually participate in a race when you know 100% that you will come in last place. Although I was nearly 30 sec. behind the other girls I did feel kinda cool running on the course and being one of the top 15 finishers.
Oh well....
With my first mile for time...I ran a 6:03 mile for my last mile of the day (I think that makes it 13.5 miles for the day) it felt really neat to run on the Athens Twilight course in front of thousands of spectators.

4/25/10

Athens Computrainer "race"

I suppose I am well overdue for a blog post. Sorry, we've been keeping ourselves really busy here in Athens and enjoying every moment of it.

Friday felt a little rushed too me and I knew I had a lot to do in not a lot of time.
First part of my agenda was my workout. As usual, my workout (whether it is training or just heart-healthy exercise) is my time, my breath of fresh air and my mental and physical boost for the day. Aside from active recovery Monday's, not much comes before my morning Tues - Sunday workout.
The alarm went off at 4:30am and like normal, I ate my Wasa cracker w/ PB and drank my coffee on the way to the Y. I was on the treadmill by 5:05am (Y opens at 5am). The workout went by fast with all of my intervals. This is one of my fav. sets:
15 min warm-up (increasing speed throughout the warm-up, still in a comfortable zone): 7.0-7.5mph
5 min: 45 sec hard, 15 sec straddle treadmill (rest): 8.0mph (get the HR up)
Main set:
5 min tempo (7.7 mph), 5 min (45 sec hard, 15 sec straddle treadmill - 8.5mph)
4 min tempo (7.7mph), 4 min (45 sec hard, 15 sec straddle treadmill - 8.6mph)
3 min tempo (7.7mph), 3 min (same - 8.7mph)
2 min tempo (7.7mph), 2 min (same - 8.8mph)
1 min tempo (7.7mph), 1 min (same - 8.9mph)
Total 50 min, 6.6 miles

Off to the pool from 6:05-7:10....
Main set: 4 x 400's on 6:30 (200 @ 60%, 200 @ 80%) - 5:35, 5:23, 5:21
200 back easy
3 x 200's on 3 min (80%) - 2:42, 2:41, 2:40
Total yrd: 3500

I quickly got cleaned up, dried my hair and headed to the store for some last minute stuff for our trip, filled up my tank in my car and headed home. I've been really busy with some Grant workout for an obesity project here in Jacksonville, so I've really been crunching my time during the week (I'll be writing about the childhood obesity project that I am part of, very shortly).
When I got home I only had 10 min. to show Campy some love before I took him over to Laura's at 8:45am.
I typically pack myself well in advance so my stuff was ready to go. I put Karel to work loading up our stuff while I took Campy and his travel-gear, to Laura's.
Laura (Campy's normal doggy sitter and my BFF, and dietitian and great cook) was super nice to offer to bring Campy to my parents in New Port Richey on her way (with her hubby Pat) to St. A's. My mom ended up meeting Laura at an exit so it worked out perfect. I bet campy was SUPER confused, but excited. Unfortunately, Athens Twilight weekend is no place for a dog who doesn't care for fast bikes.
Laura and I did a quick exchange of food (we always do this) and I gave her my latest granola and muffins and she gave me a strawberry mini bread loaf, dehydrated strawberries and a few pieces of pineapple upside down cake. Laura is the best cook/baker EVER, even with her modifications for heart-healthy recipes. Last year she made me the most delicious carrot cake for my b-day but I'm thinking the pineapple upside down cake might be just as good.
Finally, at 9:10am, Karel and I were off to Athens.
It was an uneventful drive and Karel did most of the driving. After we stopped for lunch (I made PB & J, w/ lots of fruit on hand, Karel got Subway) I drove for a bit.
Karel isn't much of a talker when we travel to big races so I just let him be in his zone. This is a very important race for him and he has his own ways of gearing up for a race so I tried to let him do his thing. I am the complete opposite before races, so as you can imagine, it is very hard for me to keep quiet and not provide some type of motivational talk/story to Karel.
Anyways, after we got checked into the Days Inn (within walking distance to downtown Athens) we had a quick snack (yogurt, granola, skim milk and fruit from my cooler and a little spoonful of PB) and headed to the Computrainer venue.
Karel's heat was at 5:45pm and he had to be there 30 min. before the start. Karel was a little stressed before the race because they didn't have him on schedule for his 8-man heat, but after showing the staff his email confirmations for his heat, all was good.

Each guy gets weighed with their bike in order to give each rider a fair advantage with their resistance. It's funny seeing the guys take off as much possible off their bike and body in order to be weighed as light as possible to avoid a higher than necessary resistance on the computrainer.

While the guys warmed up on the computrainer, I listed to the Jazz festival music which was amazing. What a great venue.
At 5:45 the race started and I watched 8 guys battle it out on the computrainer. Just brutal and pure torture for 3.5 miles of the Athens Twilight course.
The course is rolling, but you wold never guess it unless you ran/rode on it. There are slight uphills and downhills and the Computrainer makes you feel every incline. There is a lot of shifting of gears and grinding of teeth.

Karel started off really strong and moved up to first place for the first mile or so but Karel "got passed" as the race went on. Karel would do anything to not ride the trainer but in this case, all Computrainer riders receive a # for Sat night which seats them closer to the front in the starting corral.
Karel finished 8th in his heat and finished a few minutes faster than last year. Just under 9 minutes for 3.5 miles. The fastest 8 guys from the day come back at night for the Computrainer finals and $2000 up for grabs...and bragging rights.
After the Computrainer finals we watched Curtis (his teammate) race and then grabbed some dinner at our favorite college hang out...The Taco Bar. We went there two times last year and I was so excited to go back.
Tofu tortilla w/ lettuce, salsa and a little cheese....yum!

We hung out at the room for a little after dinner and then headed back to downtown to squeeze our way through hundreds of people to watch the finals.
Just craziness!!!!