Monday, May 26, 2014

Thankful for Three Days

Happy Memorial Day to everyone and a special thanks to all of the men and women who have fought for our country and earned today's celebration!  After a few very busy weeks and weekend call, I was beyond ready for three days sans work.  

One of my co-residents and his fiancĂ© were married this weekend, so the first half of the weekend was filled with wedding festivities.  Friday after work I went straight to the pool and knocked out 3000 meters.  Then it was a mad dash home to shower and then back into Uptown for the rehearsal dinner at Cowbell Burger and Whisky Bar.  The Jett Burger was an excellent vegetarian choice - black bean, quinoa, and walnut patty, wheat bun, goat cheese, arugula, roasted garlic aioli, and roasted shiitake mushrooms.

Saturday I met a group of friends in Huntersville for a 60 mile bike and 4 mile run.  I was grateful for the company, because after a late dinner + cake + sleep deprivation, I probably would not have gotten myself out the door otherwise.  Fortunately, we had a beautiful morning for our brick and knocked out a long workout by noon.

Matt and Kat's wedding that night was spectacular!  Kat looked gorgeous in a very elegant cream lace gown, and Matt was beaming watching his bride walk down the aisle.  So happy for these two!  Following the ceremony at First Presbyterian Church in Uptown, we all gathered at the Myers Park Country Club for the reception.   

Dinner was served buffet style and included a fantastic spread that included a carving station, roasted vegetables, asiago potatoes, okra, cornbread, fresh fruit, barbecue, slaw, and shrimp with grits.  Wine and cocktails were flowing and our ortho crew enjoyed every moment of the celebration.   

We danced, and danced, and danced, until we were eventually ushered outside to greet the newlyweds with a sparkler exit.  Congrats Matt and Kat!

After all of that excitement, the second half of my weekend was about rest and relaxation.  Sunday included a lazy morning, a tempo run, lounging by the pool, an easy swim, and working on a research project.  Similarly, Monday started with sleeping in, a cup of tea, the all important annual car inspection, paying bills, a swim workout, and an afternoon bike.  Now I need to find the motivation to write an essay about empathy - ugh!

Here's a look at some eats over the past couple of weeks:

Tempeh + Sweet Potato + Brussel Sprouts + Cabbage
Everything diced, seasoned, and roasted
Thai Red Curry Tamale over Spinach and Mole
The tamale was from "The Masa Casa" food stand at Veg Fest and I'm definitely hoping they become a regular vendor at the local markets.
Salmon Burger + Kale Chips
Lazy Sunday Breakfast
Scrambled Eggs with Kale + Toast with Pumpkin Butter and Pear Jam + Strawberries
Last, but not least, a recap from the last two weeks of Ironman Chattanooga training.

Week 18: Workouts were shorter and fewer this week due to long work hours Mon-Fri and then being on call over the weekend.  

Swim - 6100 yards 
Bike - 4 hours, 7 minutes (all on the trainer with power goals)
Run - 17.1 miles
Totals - 8 hours, 15 minutes

Week 19:  In an effort to maximize training in the early part of the day prior to being exhausted, I started getting up at 3am a couple times per week to knock out a workout prior to being at work at 5am.  Surprisingly, I had no trouble getting up and found myself with a much better attitude about the rest of the day.

Swim - 8300 yards (including an easy 2300 on Sunday when the outdoor lap pool opened for the summer!)
Bike - 6 hours, 30 minutes (2 trainer workouts + a 60 mile road ride)
Run - 19.1 miles (descending base run + brick + tempo)
Strength - 45 minutes (trying to be more consistent about including some maintenance work)
Totals - 12 hours, 18 minutes

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dinner at Wolfgang's and The Good Ride

The week started with a visit from Mom to supervise some planned home construction.  Long story short, I have water leaking in a around a window frame and my landlord planned some major work to fix the problem.  In typical fashion, based on the useless landlord that he is and an equally pathetic "Mr. Fix-It" that he hires, they settled for some caulking rather than the more challenging, yet appropriate, intervention.  Fortunately, the "best Mom in the world" wasn't too upset that she drove four hours from Atlanta essentially for nothing.  We made the best of the situation though and enjoyed a couple of girls' evenings instead.  In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I prepared oven-baked nachos.  We both agreed that the simple meal was incredibly tasty and one we'll be adding to our respective dinner rotations.  The margaritas we sipped while enjoying the summer evening almost made it feel like a weekend.

On Tuesday night, I treated Mom to dinner at Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar as a combined thank you and early Mother's Day gift.  Since it was half-price bottles of wine that night, we were destined to enjoy a great Riesling.  Too weeknights in a row with alcohol consumption - I consider it part of my race recovery!  Despite very slow service, our food itself was delicious.

My asparagus and arugula salad was tossed in a light lemon vinaigrette and topped with pine nuts and ricotta salata.  For our entree, we shared one of their wood-fired pizzas - House-Made Lamb Sausage, Roasted Peppers, Goat Cheese, and Roasted Eggplant.  Although normally not sausage-eaters, we were both enticed to the lamb after we declared Wolfgang's lamb entree the best plate at Taste of the Nation.

Mid-week I found myself longing for a caribbean vacation - specifically this spectacular home and private pool in St. Lucia.  In reality, I'm stuck in the land of trauma, which equals "no vacations allowed."  Oh well, it was nice to dream!

Avocados and corn seem to be in abundance at the local markets.  One evening I combined a bed of local kale with a mix of veggies and mexican-spiced chicken from the market's hot bar to make a Mexican salad.  A grilled cheese quesadilla on the side was exactly the cheesy-carbohydrate goodness that I craved.

It's been far too long since I've had a lazy weekend morning to enjoy my most favorite breakfast meal - pancakes.  This morning's flapjacks were made with a base of oats, almond flour, greek yogurt, and banana, and were topped with molasses-cinnamon apples.

Finally, I have to share this recipe for Curried Chickpea Salad.   I made a few substitutions based on what I had on hand, and was very pleased with the result.  This vegetarian-friendly dish reminds me exactly of the curried chicken salad that we enjoyed as a kid.  Throughout the week I determined it was equally as good as a salad topper or between slices of fresh bread.

Coming off my 70.3 race last weekend, training this week was all about recovery - easy swims, low resistance bikes, and just a couple shorter runs.  Aside from general fatigue and heaviness in my legs, I've felt pretty good.  My foot pain that started during the race last weekend isn't noticeable except for when I run.  I'm still hoping that it's going to disappear as quickly as it appeared.

Yesterday I participated in The Good Ride, a charity bike ride that celebrates cancer survivors and benefits 24 Hours of Booty.   I can't remember if I mentioned it before, but on July 25th and 26th I'll be riding endless loops around Charlotte's "Booty Loop" as a fundraising event for cancer research.  My personal goal is to raise $1000, and so far I'm at $600.  If you have a few spare dollars and are of the charitable nature, I'd be forever indebted to you if you could donate to the cause.  You can contribute your donation on my personal donation page.

Anyways, back to my 65 mile ride.  It was a cool and overcast day, making for ideal riding conditions.  I hung with a large group for the first 15 miles, but then gladly opted for riding with just a few others as the main pack broke apart.  My goal was to make this a base ride and I focused on breaking the riding into chunks based on the aid stations ago miles 30 and 50.  For once, I really enjoyed this long ride (a new personal distance record!) and still felt quite good when we finished.  Eating real food over the course of 3 hours and 35 minutes was a pleasant change from the usual gu and heed combination.  Peanut butter and jelly never tasted so good!

Here's a look at how the remainder of Week 17 on my journey toward Ironman Chattanooga played out.

Swim - 7600 yards
Bike - 5 hours
Run - 13.1 miles
Total - 9 hours, 14 minutes

This week it's back to the grind - just 139 days left until Ironman Chattanooga!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Carolina Half Iron Race Report

Sunday, May 4, 2014
Davidson, NC

Swim -           31:20  (1:29/100 yards)
T1 -                4:59
Bike -             2:54.42   (19.2mph)
T2 -                1:05
Run -              1:50.24  (8:26/mi)
Finish Time -  5:22.32

3rd OA Female

Pre-race:  I've been highly anticipating the start of my 2014 race season.  Over the past few weeks, it seems like everyone except me has been doing some early season racing.  When I planned my season, the Carolina Half became a key early season race due to its close proximity.  Last year's inaugural event had received a fair bit of criticism for the difficult course, but it was promised to be an upgraded course that was faster.  I felt confident about the bike course since I had the opportunity to ride it the weekend before, but I had only run a small portion of the run course.  By Thursday of race-week my legs were finally starting to come around and my pre-race brick on Saturday seemed to go smoothly.  At the last minute, Cannon Cyclery provided me with some extra speed with a pair of Cognation wheels.  Now if only I could actually afford a set of my own.

The logistics of the race itself was more challenging than usual due to the point-to-point design.  Despite extensive planning and list-making, I still managed to forget something - my aero hydration bottle.  Race morning I made the 30 minute drive to Davidson, dropped my bike at T1, drove the 10 minutes to T2, dropped off my run gear, took the bus back to T1, gathered my wetsuit and goggles, and finally made my way to the water.

Swim:  Water temperature was 68 degrees, making it a perfectly comfortable wetsuit-legal swim.  One of the benefits to racing the open category is that you have a first wave start and a smaller group of people.  It was a beach start and quite quickly we were off and swimming.  I had a good running start and quickly settled into a rhythm, letting two people with extensive swim backgrounds take off ahead of me.  Fortunately, I was able to otherwise hold my own and had perfectly clean water for the entire 1.2 miles.  I did some zig-zagging in the final stretch back to shore due to mis-sighting, but was otherwise please with my 31 minute swim.  3rd female, 19/111 overall.

T1: There was a long uphill run on gravel from the swim exit to T1.  Due to the gravel, they recommended we put shoes at the swim finish to put on for the run.  My length T1 time can be explained by the process of wetsuit off, shoes on, a one-third mile run, packing my swim gear into a bag for transport to the race finish, and then the usual T1 activities.  3rd female.

Bike:  Things got off to a bumpy start when I crossed a speed bump within the first few hundred yards of leaving transition and one of my nutrition bottles popped out.  It didn't change my overall  race significantly, but it was still frustrating to have to stop, turn around, grab the bottle, and then get back on the bike.  The course is largely rolling hills with several more significant hills, and is particularly more challenging during on the back half of the route.  In total, my Garmin shows nearly 4500 feet of elevation change over the 56 miles.  Normalized power was 171 watts, which was exactly my race goal, despite being a bit slower than I anticipated.  I still need to work on my bike fit to optimize my comfort on the bike and minimize the time I spend out of aero.  I thought I took in a solid amount of nutrition (300 calories of Heed, 250 calories of gel), but hunger pains struck just as I was getting off the bike.  3rd female, 45/111 overall.

T2:  Piece of cake, in and out.  2nd female.

Run:  This is where my good race day took a less than desirable twist.  My legs felt sluggish and heavy as they always do during the first mile off the bike, but then my leg turnover improved and I settled in to my goal pace - 7:43, 7:34, 7:33 - for the first few miles.  We ran through a neighborhood and one significant downhills section, which would remain etched in my mind as the monstrous climb I would have to make at mile 12 en route to the finish line.  Since it was getting quite warm, I was consistently alternating a cup of water or heed every mile, and even grabbed a couple peanut butter crackers and coke at mile eight when I needed the extra energy.  The double-loop portion of the run allowed me to keep an eye on where I was in the field, and it was readily apparent that I wasn't the only one having  a rough run.  I was also struggling with some right foot pain over my first metatarsal, which was nothing I've faced in training, and made me a bit nervous.  Initially, I was thinking it was the new laces in my shoes, but it got worse with each mile, and eventually, running uphill just wasn't happening.  I'm not really sure how to explain this run other than the combination of hills, heat, hunger, and general discouragement which led to a half-marathon split more than 10 minutes slower than my goal.  3rd female, 20/111 overall.

Post-race:  Crossing the finish, I knew I was the 3rd female, but I wasn't confident that this would be my final placement since I had started in the open wave - ten minutes before the age-group female wave.  Unlike many other races which leave me with a queasy stomach, I was almost immediately in search of food.  Pizza never tasted so good!  After gathering all of my gear, I made it back to the live results scrolling on a TV and was happy to see that I maintained my 3rd place finish by a very significant margin.

Not long after a hot shower, I planted myself in a chair, legs elevated, and fully compressed in my 110% recovery pants with ice packs, and spent hours on end catching up from a very busy weekend at work.

For those who haven't raced with Jones Racing Company, I'd highly recommend that you check out their events.  Their organization is impeccable and the race was smooth from start to finish.  Now if only there were some more enticing prizes for overall winners!

I have a few weeks until my next race - Tomahawk Tri - which will provide for some fun shorter course racing.  After some recovery this week, I'll back to consistent training and gradually building volume.  Learning from this race, if I'm going to be successful in Chattanooga, I have to continue to get stronger on the bike and need to make running hills my passion.  Not to mention, more solid food on the bike so that I'm not left with a growling stomach on the run.