Monday, April 14, 2014

Food Fight and Other Eats

If my recent meals are any indication, the sun is finally starting to bring some warm weather to the South.  I could enjoy a salad for nearly every meal right now, which is in stark contrast to the complete disgust I had for raw vegetables for the first couple weeks after that stomach bug.  Despite the high pollen counts and yellow dust in the air, I've enjoyed many dinners al fresco with the last hour of sunlight and warmth.  

Mexican Salad, Salsa Rice Chips, and Mango
This was the last meal I had when I was in Atlanta a couple weeks ago and it officially marked my return to raw veggies.  A simple combination of greens, black beans, corn, guacamole, and salsa paired great with a sweet and slightly tart mango.

Sweet Potato, Quinoa, and Kale Ravioli with Marinara and Argula and a side of sliced pear
I was intrigued by the filling for these raviolis and particularly loved that they were cheese-less.  The brand is La Pasta and I found them at Earth Fare.

Tart Frozen Yogurt, Brownie Bits, Raspberries, and Blueberries
Last weekend's call was miserable.  If the number of orthopedic injuries is any indication, summer weather has arrived, and brought with it the endless list of stupid things people do when it's hot and there is alcohol being consumed.  Needless to say, after no sleep on Friday, Saturday was a sleepy haze.  In my mind, Pinkberry frozen yogurt was an absolute necessity.

Arugula Salad with Mixed Veggies and Salmon Salad, Sweet Potato Wedges
I was reading a magazine last week that discussed the great nutritional value of salmon for athletes.  Lunch time was approaching, and I happen to have a can of Trader Joe's wild salmon in the pantry.  I mixed the fish with a generous scoop of plain greek yogurt, dijon mustard, chopped dill pickle, and fresh cracked pepper.

Arugula Salad with Avocado, Tomato, and Crumbled Veggie Masala Burger
Baked crinkle cut french fries with a hefty dip in ketchup never tasted so good!
The Charlotte Food Fight is an annual event which features a food competition between local food trucks with a featured secret ingredient and all proceeds benefiting a local charity.  You can purchase either a wristband worthy of a dish from each of the 13 food trucks for $40, or instead buy individual tickets to exchange for a single dish.  I was initially deterred by the $40 price tag, but when Yelp offered a giveaway for a few lucky people, I was quick to submit my name.  A week later, I was a winner!

You could not have asked for better weather on a spring afternoon.  After a exhausting morning, including a bike, half-marathon, grocery shopping, and laundry, I made my way to SouthEnd and prepared to gather lots of food.  Knowing that there was no way I could eat so much food in one setting, I came prepared with a bag to collect the small plates.

The food trucks had a combination of regular menu items and then a special dish or two which featured the secret ingredient - SWEET POTATOES.  Since it was in fact a competition, you could vote on your favorite dish for the people's choice award.

Tin Kitchen's duck confit and sweet potato taco (the top picture below) was my favorite!  The soft serve frozen yogurt with pomegranate molasses and pistachios was a close second.  Overall, I was very impressed with the quantity and quality of the food truck options.

Can you believe all of this food?!   From the top going clockwise is smoked trout slider with slaw, bahn mi sandwich/smoked salmon on a sweet potato latke/sweet potato maki roll, buffalo wings and buffalo pizza, sweet potato cupcake, sweet potato tiramisu and lemon cookie, sweet potato tots with braised brussel sprouts, sweet potato poutine with smoked beef taco, coconut curry pork and rice, and potato croquettes/lasagna cupcake.

I think I'll be enjoying leftovers for a couple days to come!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Charlotte Racefest Half Marathon and Training Update

APRIL 12, 2014


FINISH TIME: 1:38:43

If you're wondering why I hadn't mentioned this race, it's because I registered less than 60 hours before the starting time.  I had previously considered racing, but since it was just 3 weeks before my first half-iron of the season, I thought it wiser to save my money and focus on race-specific training.  However, when Earth Fare offered to give away a race entry on Facebook, I couldn't help but enter my name.  There's simply nothing better than a race that starts and finishes less than a mile from your house!  Sure enough I won, and next thing I knew I was crossing my fingers that coach wouldn't have a huge opposition to me racing.  

Monday thru Thursday I had enjoyed a recovery week and was beginning to see improvement in leg fatigue.  I was also coming off a busy weekend of call and definitely needed the extra time for some sleep.  The compromise to me doing the half marathon, was that I still had to fit my long ride into the weekend.  Since I'm working tomorrow, that meant the only option was Friday evening.  With the exception of a flat tire, the 45 mile ride was right on target with my planned half-iron wattage.  Saturday morning, in order to simulate a brick, I hopped on the trainer for a 90 minute bike BEFORE the race.  I was a bit concerned how those bike miles would hamper my running, but I generally tend to run well off the bike, so I was hopeful.  

My goal was to run the first 8 miles very conservatively and then build my pace based on how I was feeling.  In typical fashion, my "conservative" start was faster than I anticipated.  However, my legs were feeling good and so I stuck with it.  Since this race is literally in my backyard, I was familiar with the first several miles of the course.  Miles 1-3 were a steady climb and I intentionally tried to relax on the uphills to avoid burning matches early on.  Miles 4 was net downhill before climbing into mile 5.

Mile 1 - 7:21
Mile 2 - 7:29
Mile 3 - 7:35
Mile 4 - 7:14
Mile 5 - 7:33

Miles 6 and 7 had a mix of a couple climbs and descends, and we ended a long stretch on Providence Road and made a turn into some neighborhoods that I wasn't familiar with.  In some respects, I enjoy running on unfamiliar routes because it keeps me interested and I can't focus on knowing exactly where the hard sections will be.  The downside, however, is that I had no idea I was going to spend several miles on a nearly eternal climb.  I took a gel at mile 7 and grabbed my first cup of water.  Physically I was still feeling fairly decent.  The climbs, however in miles 8 and 10 really took a toll on my legs and suddenly I was feeling every bit of the 4 hours I had spent on the bike in the 12 hours leading up to the race.

Mile 6 - 7:22
Mile 7 - 7:25
Mile 8 - 7:58
Mile 9 - 7:15
Mile 10 - 7:39

Each time I assumed we were reaching the crest of the climb, we'd make another turn and keep right on climbing.  There were a few times that I legitimately thought I was going to trip over my own feet and had to refocus on getting through each half-mile.  Finally, just after passing mile 11, a downhill stretch was in sight.  Thank goodness!  As expected based on the rest of the course, that was short lived and the last mile greeted us with a 60 foot climb over one-tength of a mile and then another dreadfully long climb as the finish line came into sight.  Over that last mile my heart rate was hovering at 180 and I crossed the finish feeling as though I had truly pushed as hard as I could over the last 5k.  

Mile 11 - 7:49
Mile 12 - 7:34
Mile 13 - 7:40
0.1 mi - 0:44 (7:19 pace)

I finished with a time of 1:38:43, which is 8 seconds faster than my NC Half-Marathon from a month ago, but still a couple minutes shy of my PR.  

4th AG 25-29
Females  17 / 760
Overall  106 / 1305

Overall I'm fairly pleased with this race.  Considering I had no intention of racing this weekend and then not only raced, but did so 12 hours after a 45 mile bike and immediately following 90 minutes on the trainer with a couple race efforts, I think I ran a consistent 13.1 miles.  Hills are certainly my weakness with running, so events such as this are good both physically and mentally.  The goal I had set for myself was to simply run a consistent race sub-1:40, so in that respect I was successful.  Certainly if I can pull off a similar time in the 70.3 distance, I will be satisfied.  

For those tracking my weekly training, here's the breakdown of the past two weeks of swimming, biking, and running.  I've also included a few specific workouts.

Week 12  -  12 hours, 8 minutes
Swim: 10450 yards
20 x 100 descending every set of 5 with last set on 1:30
1000 yards for time (14:45)

Bike:  6 hours, 52 minutes
4 x 8 minutes power intervals were a struggle to maintain 190 W

Run: 16.7 miles

Week 13 - Recovery, 11 hours
Swim: 4100 yards

Bike: 6 hours, 45 minutes
45 miles at 176W

Run: 18 miles (including the 1/2 Marathon)

Only 3 weeks until my first triathlon of the season - North Carolina Half-Ironman in Davidson, NC!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Stomach of Steel . . . Or Not

It's been a while since I last wrote anything much.  The title of the post that I started writing but never finished was "10 Lessons I'd Rather Not Have Learned from the Stomach Flu."  Somehow I'm guessing that is one topic that you'd rather not hear about.  I do not want to relive that wretched and violent illness ever again, so we're going to just skip over that weekend of misery and pretend it never happened.

I survived on peanut butter toast and the occasional smoothie when my stomach finally accepted some nourishment, thus real food was nearly non-existent up until this weekend.

Work is going well and I'm really enjoying the orthopedic oncology service.  It can be a really depressing service with too many life-altering diagnoses, but the patients are rewarding to interact with and the surgical experience has been good - though a bit sparse.

Finally some signs of spring!
Now if we can just get some warmer temperatures to match the sunny blue skies.
Training has been fairly consistent, with the exception of the bump in the road courtesy of the GI illness.  I only completely missed two workouts, but it took me a few days to spring back to my usual self and recover from the effects of dehydration.  It's incredible how much dehydration can alter performance. My first bike after being sick was the same exact trainer workout as the week before.  The result, however, was an average power 40 watts lower to just to keep my heart rate from climbing out of the prescribed zone.

Week 10 - 9 hours, 11 minutes
Swim - 6700 yards
Bike - 5 hours, 20 minutes
Run - 13.71 miles
*Missed my 6 mile brick run and 3 hour base bike due to being sick*

Week 11 - 12 hours, 15 minutes
Swim - 9500 yards
Bike - 8 hours, 8 minutes
Run - 15.6 miles
*Missed 10 mile endurance run on Monday due to being sick*

Fortunately, I'm feeling 100% back to normal now and had good workouts this weekend.  Saturday was an interesting brick that was indoors due to rain:  5 x (30 minutes @170 watts, 1 mile zone 2-3 run).  Today we were finally greeted by sunny skies and I braved the high winds to enjoy a really great base ride with my brother and a couple friends.  The 40 mile ride was by far the most enjoyable of 2014!

I took two vacation days and created a long weekend to escape to Atlanta.  Although not exactly the warm spring break weather I would have preferred, it has been enjoyable to decompress, sleep a little later in the mornings, and even celebrate Royce's birthday.  For the birthday boy's dinner on Friday, we feasted on spaghetti, garlic bread, caesar salad, and a key lime bundt cake.  The return of my appetite couldn't have come at a better time!

Happy 26th Birthday Royce!  You're quite an accomplished young man and continue to impress me with your persistence, ingenuity, and hard-work.  Between your business instincts, financial knowledge, and budding flying skills, I couldn't be prouder nor grateful to have you as my "little" brother.

Saturday's trip to the farmer's market and Whole Foods provided the inspiration for the weekend's dinners.  First up was grilled oysters - a treat that will always remind me of summer vacations to the Florida Keys and eating dozens of the raw variety on saltines with cocktail sauce and lemon.  Grilled artichokes, salad, and garlic bread rounded out our meal.

After my 3-hour bike on Sunday, food was the only thing on my mind.  Spaghetti leftovers and veggies were the perfect way to refuel.

An afternoon nap and some time in the sunshine on the back deck were also excellent recovery strategies.

The last meal of the weekend was a great one!  Crab cakes with dijon aioli over sautéed kale, sweet potatoes, and roasted okra.  With the exception of the crab cakes, everything was freshly harvested by local farmers.  We're finishing out the night curled up in blankets around the fire pit.  Eventually the south will finally be granted some warm weather, but until then, we're doing our best to stay warm.