6/29/13

Breakthrough IM swim and baked pasta casserole


The funny thing about training, or fitness in general, is all the highs and lows that come with it. Of course, who doesn't love to have a good workout but then again, considering the complexity of the human body, perhaps we should be thanking the body more often for any workout for it is easy for the body to fail and I think many times, we take it for granted. All the muscles, organs and metabolic processes working perfectly just for us to swim, bike and run or zumba, yoga or jazzercise. 

As a long-time athlete, I recognize that great performances are not made in weeks or months but overtime. The key is consistency and always giving your best effort. I find that for many athletes, there's an expectation as to how the body is to perform each day and for others, just getting out the door is success...anything else that follows is a bonus. But no matter your reason for working out (or training), the most important component is making progress to reach your short and long term goals. There's no point of an action plan if you don't have a goal to reach. 

As usual, I have been enjoying my swim sets in the pool. I have designed swim sets to help both Karel and I improve in the water but also to improve our efficiency as triathletes. The past three weeks have been challenging and they were all leading up to the big set which was done yesterday (Friday). 

3 x 1000's @ IM pace

I have had mostly good days in the pool over the past few weeks but I did have a few days when I couldn't get into the groove. Although I found myself a bit frustrated based on my own fitness level at times, it's really hard to for me to regret any workout  for I love using my body and if I am not able to "train" I still love to exercise. Oh, and the fact that I have been swimming for about 20 years makes me a big lover of water....I'm a fish. It's not hard for me to get in but very hard for me to get out. 

After a 500 warm-up, I told Karel we would go right to the main set. Karel was having an off day (which is normal and expected due to 3 tough weeks of training so he was just being smart by backing off) so I kept to my side of the lane and Karel did his own thing.

Having the extra motivation of high school (and young) swimmers in the pool made it easy to push myself but I sure to wish I was young again! Those kids were just blowing by me in the other lanes!!
Not knowing what my body would give for this set, I made up  my mind that I would not count myself out until I tried...for all three of them. I didn't have the best swim (to my standards) on Thurs so I found myself getting into doubting thoughts during warm-up but I  knew if I wanted to have a good set, I would need to jump out of self-doubt and enter a place of "I can". 

1st 1000 - 1:26 pace per 100 yards

Wow, shocker. I could not believe it!! I was so thrilled considering I didn't think I had it in me as was just hoping for 1:30 pace.

After resting 2.5 minutes and sipping on my sport drink (I fuel before and during every  workout in endurance training), it was time for #2. 

2nd 1000- 1:23 pace per 100 yards. 

Holy cow! Again, another shocker! I started to get my groove on for #2 and I felt so smooth in the water and I was able to pace myself so well which was a great confidence booster. I use my Garmin 910xt in the pool and I am able to look at my watch to see my pace (and distance and time). As a long-time swimmer, I think this is just natural in that I can feel my pace, just like an experienced biker can control his/her watts and a runner kinda knows varying paces without looking at his/her watch. 

Ok - so time for #3. I figured I had surprised myself enough that anything around 1:25 would be great. BUT, I told myself, just try and see what happens. 

After 2.5 min rest....


After catching my breath on the wall and Karel telling me I was swimming way to fast in the water, I decided, time to call it a day for me. Scratch the 4500 yard workout planned on the schedule. I warmed down after this last 1000 and went for a recovery spin (90 min) with Karel. Training is a lot like gambling. Stop while you are ahead before you dig yourself into a hole. 

I must have looked at my Garmin 10x's in the morning after the swim because I seriously did not think I had it in me to do those times because I have not been able to execute like that in training. But then again, it only took my mind to help me step up to another level. Amazing how the mind can play an impact on our actions. Positive or negative......be careful with your thoughts. Thank you Gloria for continuing to help me realize the power in our/my thinking in all areas of my life. 




After a busy day, it was nearing meal prep time in the evening and I still had a few more emails to respond to. Karel and I have been eating similar foods before weekend training as we would/will before race day, for the past few weeks so for his Friday evening eats, I know he likes either rice or pasta. I have a few favorite pre-race foods but I know what always works best for me before an endurance event (sweet potato, egg, salad, bread/rice) so I am happy to enjoy Karel's pre race meal with him....sacrifices in marriage :) 

Rather than the standard pasta, I decided to do a pasta bake. What made this even better was that I could forget about it for a while and didn't need to "cook" while answering emails. Feel free to add your own veggie options and protein. Enjoy!


Baked Pasta Casserole
(ingredients to serve 2)
Pasta - 4 ounces dry (2 ounces equals about 1 cup cooked - plan for leftovers)
Marinara sauce (1/2 - 1 cup)
Veggies - spinach, corn, peas, onion
Bread crumbs (a few spoonfuls)
Cheese (I used asiago for a nice peppery taste)
Garlic (1 tbsp powder or 1 clove chopped)
Protein of your choice (for animal protein, ~3-4 ounces per person, for other protein, about 20-25g per person of protein)
*Preheat oven to 425 degrees

1. Cook pasta as normal. Drain. 
2. Lightly spray bottom of casserole dish with cooking spray. 
3. Place protein on bottom of dish. 
4. Layer veggies. 
5. Spoon pasta on veggies until covered (I used about 1.5 cups I think). 
6. Spoon marinara on pasta until covered. 
7. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on marinara (light covering). 
8. Top with garlic and a little cheese. 
9. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until pasta is a little crunchy on top.