Sunday, April 24, 2011

It's All About the Food

Happy Easter!!

This year I eagerly volunteered to plan and prepare the Easter dinner for our family.  Now that I have plenty of time, I've loved getting creative in the kitchen and have been cooking dinner most every night.  I pretty much know my parents will eat anything I put in front of them.  However, preparing a meal that will please everyone - including my grandparents, brother, and his girlfriend - is a totally different task.  Especially considering the traditional holiday meals feature ham, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, rolls, etc.  Don't get me wrong, my Mom is a fantastic cook, everything is always delicious, and our holiday meals are always memorable.  This year though, I wanted to try something a little different.  The challenge was to prepare a fresh meal featuring local meat, seasonal produce, and fresh ingredients that didn't scream "healthy".  I THINK it was a success - everyone gave their praises and cleaned their plates.  Maybe they were just being nice, or just maybe I convinced them that healthy can be delicious as well.

Here's our meal in pictures.

Hmm . . . guess I need to work on the skill of the family photographers.

Appetizers/Light Lunch:
Strawberry-Avocado Salsa with Cinnamon Pita Chips

Cumin Curried Hummus with Veggies

Deviled Eggs

Nut and Jelly Bean Baskets

Lamb Kabobs with Israeli Dipping Sauce

Quinoa Tabbouli

Roasted Brown Butter Asparagus

Glazed Carrots

Rum Caramel Covered Pineapple over Ice Cream with Toasted Coconut

I hope everyone had a Happy Easter and the Bunny was good to you all!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

PT Solutions Cartersville Duathlon

This race kicked off the start of the multi-sport season, and I was very excited to get back to racing.  I'm not sure what the future holds with respect to racing once residency starts, so my goal for this season is to race often and have a blast every step of the way!  This was my first duathlon and the first year for this event, so there was a lot of unknown leading up to the race.  The race is a 5K run / 17 mile bike / 5K run.  My coach, Jennifer Lesser, had given me plenty of hard run/bike/run workouts and I had an opportunity to ride and run the course the weekend before, so with that background, I was ready to lay it all out there and see what kind of result I could get.

The week leading up to the race the weather had been mild with morning temperatures in the 60s.  Race morning, however, was a totally different story - a very chilly 41 degrees at race start.  As much as I love triathlons, I was more than a little excited that we weren't swimming.  After arriving and setting up transition, I spent a while sitting in my car trying to stay warm.  Then it was back into the cold for a warm up, trip to the always glorious porta-johns, a few more strides and stretching, and then I made my way to the starting line.   It was a staggered start with the men going off first, followed 3 minutes later by the women.  I moved to the front of the pack and lined up with my Sport Factory teammates.
My goal for the first 5K was to remain within sight of the leaders while maintaining zone 3 heart rate.  (For those of you reading this without any idea what that means, just suffice it to say that I didn't want to go out too hard and risk zapping all of my energy for the 1+ hours of racing ahead).  Less than a 1/2 mile into the run we started passing the men.  I heard quite an assortment of reactions from the guys in regards to being "chicked" so early in the race.  With the exception of a hill around mile one, the course was mostly flat.  I entered transition in 5th place overall, and had 2 women in my sight.  I finished the first 5K feeling strong and happy with my time of 21:58 (7:02 pace).

After a quick T1 (where I decided to lose my gloves - a decision I would regret later), I was on the bike.  I was riding on ZIPP race wheels for the race and had checked them carefully multiple times to make sure the breaks weren't rubbing.  Unfortunately, on the way out of the park there are multiple speed bumps, and before I knew it the bouncing had shifted my rear brake just enough to cause it to rub the wheel.  I'm not sure that the resistance significantly altered my speed, but mentally it was tough to overlook.  The bike course was deceptively difficult, with many gradual climbs spread over a few miles.  I've worked hard during the off season to improve my bike strength, but it still remains my greatest area of opportunity.  I finished the 17.65 mile ride in a time of 51:59 (avg 20.4 mph), and entered T2 in 7th place overall.
T2 was not one of my finer racing moments.  After ditching my gloves earlier, I now had numb fingers.  That made the simple task of unsnapping my helmet and pulling the Velcro straps on my shoes insanely difficult.  It felt like minutes that I floundered in transition attempting to make my numb fingers cooperate.  Fortunately it only amounted to 1 minute, but that was still 40 seconds longer than I should have been standing there.

The goal of the second 5K was to hit it hard, ignore the pain, and run as fast as possible for the distance.  The feeling of running immediately off the bike is impossible to explain, but is a feeling that I've gotten used to over the past couple years.  Running on numb feet that had already run AND biked, however, was not so much fun.  The first mile was the toughest, but once I crested that hill, I found a zone and put it into the next gear to bring it home.  I was able to keep two of the women in front of my within my sights, but the distance was too great for me to close on them.  2nd 5K split 21:41 (6:55 pace).

Total Time 1:37:58.  7th OA Female, 2nd Place F25-29.

Overall I was really happy with my race.  My run times have been creeping down throughout the off-season, and I'm hoping this will translate to consistently faster 10K runs in my upcoming Olympic distance races.  I've still got some work to do on the bike to prevent losing time on the field.  The remainder of the morning was spent hanging out with all of my Sport Factory teammates and celebrating our early season success.  We really do have an amazing group of athletes and I'm honored to get to train and race with all of them!  PT Solutions and Georgia Multisports put on an excellent inaugural event, and I'll most certainly be back in the future.

Next up:  St. Anthony's - May 1st

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bottomless Pit

I was initially going to entertain you all with a race report from the Cartersville Duathlon this past weekend.  In the hour I've spent considering writing that, however, I've taken numerous snack breaks (and I only finished eating dinner 1 hour ago!).  So, you'll have to wait anxiously until tomorrow for all the juicy race details, and instead, I'll write about what is on my mind - FOOD.  Today has been one of those days where my appetite has been on overdrive all day long and I can't seem to get past feeling hungry.  My stomach is never too keen on eating much after races or hard workouts, so I suppose today it's playing catch up.  Here's a sneak peak at the damage I've done today:

Snack #1 - chai latte, banana with almond butter
Breakfast - bagel sandwich with 2 eggs and cheese
Lunch - spinach nuggets, yogurt with granola, cuke and bell pepper with ranch, orange, kiwi, ginger snaps
Snack #2 - dove dark chocolate, granola bar, mix1
Dinner - barley and vegetable bake, salad
Snack #3 - milk with choc protein powder, jelly beans, girl scout cookie (the thin mints were calling my  name from the freezer), dried apricots with chocolate peanut butter (great combo - you should try it), tortilla chips

I'm sure other athletes will agree, that there is nothing more annoying than strangers or other random people pointing out that you are skinny and should eat more.  Little do they know just how much we all actually eat to fuel our workouts.  Frequently I'd like to reply with "you're quite fat, maybe you should eat less."  Somehow I imagine that could get ugly!

Anyways, that's it for tonight.  I'll leave you with a photo of my delicious pre-race dinner, since this is afterall partially a food blog and I've yet to include any delicious eats.  Ask any serious athlete, and I guarantee they are particular about what they eat leading up to a race.  My requirement is that it must include sweet potatoes - my single most favorite food.  Saturday night's eats included a salmon burger, sweet potatoe wedges, and a side of some corn and okra. 

Back to the kitchen I go.  Race details tomorrow . . .

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It's That Time Again

Race season is here!  My first race of the triathlon season is Sunday - the PT Solutions Cartersville Duathlon.  It's a 3.1 mile run / 17 mile bike / 3.1 mile run.  This race first popped up on my radar given it's proximity to home.  Triathlons are growing by leaps and bounds, yet the lack of lakes in the Atlanta area make it difficult to host many races close to home.  Duathlons, on the other hand, require none of the wet stuff.  I've never raced a duathlon before, but it seemed pretty straight-forward when I submitted my registration fee.  The idea that I wouldn't have to swim - the leg where I lose the greatest amount of time to the wicked fast swimmers - sounded like a dream come true.  However, I've since learned that duathlons are hard, and according to my coach, downright painful.  Short course = high speed + high heart rates = wicked tough!  Over the past few weeks she's made that very clear with the run/bike/run workouts I've dragged myself through.  I don't necessarily have any specific goals for Sunday since this is a new event for me, but my hope is to race as hard as possible and cross the line without a drop left in the tank.  We'll see how it goes. 

In the meantime, I've got the typical pre-race taper jitters.  I'm never really get nervous about racing itself, I just don't do the inactivity well.  Some people really enjoy the taper, while others don't.  There just simply isn't an in-between.  I like the idea in theory, but my type A/high-intensity personality isn't such a fan of the laziness of taper week.  To add to that, I seem to have developed a pesky knee pain that's cramping my style.  Can someone explain how I can go the entire base season without the slightest nagging pain, yet just as the race season is starting things start to break down?!  Dear knee, we have a race on Sunday.  I've babied you, iced you down, and filled you with Advil, now it is time to behave!

I'll leave you tonight with a picture of one of my most prized possessions.  Aside from my car, she is most definitely the most expensive thing I own (although that doesn't really say much).  This week I treated her to a couple days at the spa.  Big thanks to Curtis at Cannon Cyclery and The Sport Factory for pimping my ride and giving her some TLC before the big day.  See you at the races!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Back On Track

For all of you loyal readers out there (I'm pretty sure there is a grand total of ZERO of you currently), I apologize for my rather pitiful start with the whole blogging thing.  Even I realize that blogs are only interesting if the author posts on a semi-regular basis.  However, the begining of this week has been nothing you want to read about.  But, in an effort to keep you entertained, I'm going to tell you about it anyways.

The stomach flu hit with a vengence Sunday night and I spent the next 2 days curled up in bed or on the bathroom floor.  Can someone please explain to me how it is I can stay perfectly healthy during all of my clinical rotations (even during a 6 week rotation with snotty-nosed children), yet just a week into vacation I get sick?  As you can imagine, there was nothing exciting on the menu either day - just some occassional toast and broth.  I even skipped my swim on Monday, which for me says a lot since I HATE missing workouts.  Yesterday night I was tired of laying around and decided to give my brick workout a try.  For those of you who are new to the triathlon lingo, that's a bike followed immediately by a run.  Think B (bike) + R (run) + ICK (exactly how you feel as you attempt to convince your exhausted legs to pick up the pace and run faster so that you don't disappoint your coach!).  Aside from feeling pretty weak and tired, the hour bike went pretty well and I was happy to be sweating.  Then it was on to the treadmill - for a planned 3 mile tempo run.  I started out at what I expected to be a very conservative 8 min/mi pace, with plans to quickly move towards a 7 min pace.  Unfortunately my legs weren't feeling so spunky, and the 3 mile run quickly turned into a 2 mile death march.  I would have toughed it out, but decided the light-headed feeling and gurgling stomach probably weren't foreshadowing a grand finish.

Fortunately, I woke up feeling like a whole new person this morning.  I managed to enjoy a bowl of cereal and blueberries this morning, which is the most exciting thing my palate had enjoyed since Sunday night.  Then I hit up the pool for a solid swim (10 x 200 main set).  It wasn't easy and I certainly felt the lingering effects of the plague, but it felt great to be out of bed and doing something productive with my day.  So, that's my long-winded explanation for my absence.  I promise more exciting posts to come, so long as the nasty stomach bugs stay far, far away!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Do I Really Want to Blog?

For at least a couple years now I have contemplated starting a blog.  Initially, I wanted to chronicle the endless hours I spend swimming, biking, and running and the ridiculous volume of food I consume to fuel it all.  I have an immense passion for both the triathlete lifestyle and delicious culinary creations, so why not share the love, right?  And then there's my life as a medical student that adds a challenge to the art of balancing training and culinary greatness.  Apparently my friends and family find my daily musings regarding interesting surgical cases and life as a medical student intriguing, and often, downright funny (although I promise it's not nearly as dramatic as Gray's Anatomy!).  And so repeatedly people have mentioned that I should share my "glamourous" life as a soon to be doctor with the world wide web.  In just 1 short month I will graduate from medical school, and then will be starting my orthopaedic surgery residency!  While I am very, very excited to begin this next step along my journey, life as I know it is soon to vastly change, as this small side job will soon be taking up 80 hours of my time each week.  While my dreams of being a professional triathlete and chef/restauranteur sound exciting, they unfortunately won't support my little commitment to repay the millions of pennies I borrowed to fund my medical school adventure.  And last I checked, Mr. Federal Governemnt wasn't feeling the love and generosity to forgive me of my small fortune in debt.  Therefore, my hope is to provide you with humerous outtakes of my day-to-day life as a surgery resident trying to maintain her sanity by swimming, biking, running, and cooking fabulous meals.  I hope you're up for an interesting ride!