Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer, Swimming & Good Eats

As we entered our fourth season of summer rec swimming, I became hyper focused on healthy eating and meal prep. During pre-season I successfully found recipes I could make ahead of time and have ready when we returned home from practice at 7pm. It was a lot of work, but well worth the efforts for all of us to have a warm and healthy meal after a long day.

As we moved to summer with morning practices and Wednesday night & Saturday morning meets, I looked to continue the tradition. I remember last summer growing bored of sandwiches by mid July and looking for healthier options than cup-of-noodles and pizza that are so frequent at meets.

I started bookmarking recipes that looked yummy and portable and started purchasing reusable containers for easy travel. My hope is to share some of what I've learned over the summer!

I started with yogurt. My husband and I love yogurt parfaits and frequently buy them from the grocery store. My kids love "Gogurt" which I hate because they are filled with sugar. I normally eat plain greek yogurt but for the family I purchased some vanilla greek yogurt and to my surprise, the kids liked it! Next we worked on toppings. Every two weeks I make a batch of granola. It's so easy to make, and I feel better knowing what's inside my granola! I use the Skratch Labs recipe for my granola.


The kids pick from fresh fruit; raspberries, blueberries, strawberries etc. I also let them add mini chocolate chips, and my husband adds shaved coconut.

I found these great containers at Safeway but you can also find on Amazon.


So far we've been very successful! The family is happy and the kids are swimming well.


We'll go with her great backstroke start is a result of all the healthy food she's eating.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Wolfpack Mother's Day Run

I love Wolfpack Events. The races are so close to home, small and inexpensive. The Mother's Day race is especially nice because they give all the mom's a gift. I received a cute mug and flower at the end of the race. 

This course is always difficult as about one mile in you hit fire road which starts as ground up pavement then turns into dirt trail heading up hill. Two years ago when I did this race I remember following a gentleman with a US Coast Guard shirt on. In the last mile of the race he ended up pulling away from me. We chatted post race and we both placed in our age groups. 

Fast forward to today and I see him at the start line! We chat for a couple of minutes and I have a feeling I won't be able to pace behind him for too long. I also met another SunRype Ambassador right before the start. The field was small for the 5k, only 66 runners. I probably took the first mile too fast, but I was trying to get in some good speed before I hit the fire road and the tedious uphill to the turn-around. 

Once the the lead 5k runners came back down the hill, I started counting. My fellow ambassador was the second place woman and my friend Paul was also doing well. As I hit the turn-around I realized I was the sixth place woman. I tried hard to hold onto a pace but I was getting more and more tired. I kept looking behind me to make sure I wasn't going to get passed. The only people passing me were the top three runners from the five mile course, man were they flying! I made the mistake of seeing a shed that I thought was the one close to the finish line, only to realize I was not that close to the finish line. This caused me to lose some steam. I pretty much wanted to die, but my Garmin assured me I was not going to die. 

Finally, the finish line was in site and several people cheered me in, which was super nice at such a small race. Glad to be done and to see that I had placed 2nd in my age group. Then I realized next year I will be considered a "master" runner at this race once I turn 40! This is a frightening thought, I don't feel that old!!!! 

Next up is the Catfish 1.2 mile swim.
Second place

My buddy Paul

Monday, May 4, 2015

Moraga Tri

Each year I have dropped a leg of this triathlon, which I have decided is awesome. The first year I did the entire tri myself, and hated almost every minute of it. Last year I did the swim and run and enjoyed it much more. This year I did the swim only and had the best time ever! You can't complain when your leg of the race is a 400 meter swim and your done in under 10 minutes.

Going into the race I wasn't feeling spectacular about my swim. I had been swimming but probably not as much as I could have and my swims didn't seem to be any faster than the previous year. Then on the Wednesday before the race I went to the pool to do an easy last swim. I decided to time my 400 yard warm-up to give me an idea of where I might be at. That means it wasn't really a warm up, I just went 400 all out. I nearly cheered out loud when I saw my time - 7:57. For all of my swimming friends this is slow, but for me, this was my fastest 400 EVER. My next best time had been 8:15 which I swam last year before the Moraga Tri, and never got anywhere close to that time again.

This really inspired me going into the race. Granted, I was swimming 400 meters long course not 400 yards short course, I knew that if I could hold a pace close to what I did that day, I would swim faster than the previous year.

Race morning came and we had two adults and one child racing. Which meant lots of coordinating and packing. It had rained most of the night and morning which presented some concerns for the bike course, but since I only had to swim I just focused on 400 meters in the water.

My game face
I had been seeded a little earlier than last year even though I used the same swim time to register. I handed my parka to the kids and gave them hugs and hopped in for my swim. I did my best to keep good form with long arms. The gentleman behind me passed me on lap two but I slowly started picking off people in front of me. It felt really good to pass five people as I traversed the eight 50 meter lanes. On my last lap I focused on kicking fast to try and get the blood flow moving back up through my body to ready myself to climb out of the pool and run across the timing mat  into transition. I had to wait for one gentleman to climb out of the pool ahead of me but I finished my swim in 9:06, and crossed the timing mat at 9:35. This earned me a :23 second PR from last year.

I sprinted into transition and placed the timing chip on Scott's ankle and sent him out on his 14 mile bike ride. At that point I basically tried to not throw up all over my children. I was able to get changed into warm clothes and back to transition to watch Scott hand off to our friend Eric before I had to get Kylie up the pool deck for her pre-race instructions. At this point I switched over from athlete to Tri Mom.

Scott with the fastest bike time of all the relay teams
Eric running a crazy fast 5k
Team Yox/Benson
Right as Kylie was lined up to start her swim, Eric, Scott and Sydney came down from the track. Eric had a really great run, but we didn't know his or our total time. Kylie raced like a champ. This little girl is so tough, I love it! She swam hard for 50 meters (her first time swimming long course!), biked hard through the hallways of the high school and proceeded to run like I have never seen her run before. She ran past one of the race director's who said "I love her smile!". That's my Smiley Kylie, having fun the entire time.
Smiley Kylie Swimming Happy

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Proud finisher

Kylie placed 3rd in her AG and was 10th OA. She immediately asked when she could do it again.

As it turns out our relay team placed third! Scott has the fastest bike of all the relay teams, so I'm super proud of him and our entire team!


Thanks to TriSports.com for outfitting the entire family on race day! This year I made sure Scott represented as well!

Next up is a fun Mother's Day 5k this weekend.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Marin Splash and Dash

One day a coupon for this little race showed up in my email box. Hmm, Marin Splash and Dash... That sounds like fun and would be a good warm-up race to the Moraga Tri. Famous. Last. Words.

When I signed up for this race I didn't pay much attention to the fact that it was a 1pm start. When I realized it was a 1pm start, I thought "Oh cool, I don't have to get up BFE". Then, a few days before the race I realized the family could come. All seemed like great ideas until the family was loaded into the car, the kids were asking me a billion questions when I really just wanted to zone out and traffic on a Saturday at 11am to San Rafael was a nightmare.

Thankfully we arrived with plenty of time as the runners from the half marathon had vacated and the vendors started to leaving. This was a little sad... I guess our numbers weren't large enough to warrant staying for our event. Except for Jolyn, they stayed! Our friend Heather Petri is a rep for them so the kids were super excited to see her! It was also great to see Mary Sue and Christina; two other friends who would also be splashing and dashing.

Swimming with friends 


This was a very low key event, which was great for my very low key attitude towards racing. My mind set was to just have fun. the 500 meter swim would be a great test of where my swim ability was at so early in the season. I've been running, so the 5k should be fine; it would more be a matter of how much was left in my tank after swimming in the bay.

Trying to swim in father than my swim buddy
I was disappointed to not be able to warm up, but even more disappointed to learn we were starting from the beach rather than the deep water start I had expected.  I was quickly reminded why that sucks. Diving into cold water is a shock to the body, it has a tendency to cause hyperventilating. At the very least it causes your heart to beat faster making your cardiovascular system work harder than necessary. This adding to the fact that I had not used my wet-suit in two years left me feeling like a mess in the water. I had to breathe every two strokes, not my favorite, especially with a shoulder issue. I prefer to breathe bilaterally, every three  strokes. I don't think there was one moment of the swim that I enjoyed. I was dropped by what seemed like 3/4 of the field pretty quickly. I knew there were swimmers behind me but I felt mostly alone, with no one to draft off of. The next buoy seemed so far away and my suit was killing me. I wanted to unzip it so I could get more neck mobility, I also felt like I couldn't get a full kick with it. I fought a mental battle with myself the entire swim. I wondered if I could just tell them I was done after the swim, I felt like I was using so much energy that there would be nothing left for a run. For what was supposed to be a fun event, I was feeling none of it. Clearing the final buoy seemed like a huge achievement but there was still so much further to go. By this point I had one guy who was swimming with me. For what it's worth, as much as I was struggling he was struggling more. Every time I looked at him he was swimming with his ahead above water. We swam side by side until we finally reached the beach and exited the water.

Don't judge! 

I had no idea how I was going to go run a 5k, but I was pretty stoked to be out of the water. I didn't care, I walked to my transition area and sat down to take my wet-suit off. I struggled getting my suit off over my timing chip; another reason to love racing without a wet-suit. I gabbed my stuff and headed out on the run. I was miserable and felt bad because Scott and the kids were cheering me on and I couldn't even muster a smile for them. The other unknown about this race was that I thought the run course was flat. Ha! That must be the kids race that takes place here in November, because this course was for sure not flat! I walked the entire giant hill out of the parking lot and did my best to suck down a gel. Many thanks to the very kind park ranger at the guard gate who took my sticky gel garbage when I asked if there was a garbage can on the way out of the park. I ran the flats and
downhill and became slightly depressed when I saw that I would have to go back uphill to get back into the park. It did feel good to pass one guy on the run course, it slightly made up for the two Crossfit women that passed me with gigantic biceps. Seriously, if I'd have enough energy to compliment them on their arms I would have. The final uphill was so terrible. I walked it and kept an eye on the guy behind me to make sure he wouldn't catch me, he was walking too. When I re-entered the park it was all downhill and dirt trail. I was confident I would not get passed at this point. I was so excited, my focus was to just run and feel good about crossing the finish line. The view was beautiful and I finally felt good knowing the end was near. The kids and Scott missed me crossing the finish line because they were flying kites, oh well.

Big smile to be done

As miserable as I felt through out most of the race, I sure felt good when I was done. When I looked back and saw my swim time it was actually right around what I had estimated. Even though it felt horrible it was a pretty solid swim for open water in a wet-suit. I don't have an official time from the race except for the swim time, and I completely forgot to hit my watch through transition and into my run. I'm good with having just a swim time, that's what I really needed to gauge in preparation for the Moraga Tri.

This was a great small event. It's hosted by Sustainable Sports Foundation that does some great things. They had solar panels there running their equipment and when we crossed the finish line instead of a disposable bottle of water we were handed a very nice aluminum bottle filled with water. I would do this race again next year if they have it again.

All in all, lots of opportunities for things to work on in the next couple of weeks leading up to the Moraga Tri.

Thank you to SunRype and TriSports.com for supporting me on this journey.

With Heather who helped a nine year old swim the 500. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Oakland Running Festival

This was my third year running the Oakland Running Festival's 5k. I always think that one year I want to do the half at this race, but then I remember that the half marathon distance starts at 9:15 am and that seems so ridiculously late to start running 13.1 miles.

I've been working on trying to regain my running speeds from last year; it's been an uphill battle for sure. I knew going into this race that I wouldn't be setting any personal records but I was hoping it would give me a good gauge on where I'm at and if I would see any improvements from the past couple of months.

I arrived in Oakland BFE to get good parking and nearly fell asleep in my car waiting for an appropriate time to get out of the car and brave the light mist that was falling. You know what's fun? Using a port-a-potty when it's still dark out. Thank goodness for the flashlight app! I cruised through the merchandise tent again because Corrigan Sports does a really nice job with their shirts and jackets, it's also a good way to kill time.

I wandered back up to the start line and checked my gear ahead of the marathoners starting. I must admit I'm a sentimental runner and I got a little misty watching them start their journey. The support from the community, race organizers, and OPD is overwhelming and genuine. It really is such a great day for runners and the community of Oakland. After the last brave soul headed out for their 26.2 miles I started a short warm up run and followed it up with some stretching. Once I was done 5k runners had already started to line up, so I worked my way through the crowds to place myself somewhere between the nine and ten minute mile markers.

It was a slow crawl to cross the start line as some of us were anxious to run and others just wanted to walk to the start line. I used the opportunity to control my pace; having big crowds ensures that you won't go out to hard. My goal was to not look at my watch and run based on feel since I had no idea what I would be capable of. I quickly remembered that this is the least straight course and it's impossible to run a clean line. I really didn't want to run this course long but with the crazy turns and switchbacks through the city, my chances were slim to none.

The first mile felt good and then we hit the long second mile where the scenery is less than entertaining. The Firehouse in this section was out and they were cheering us on. Everyone was so quiet so I yelled out "thank you!" which encouraged a few others to do the same. I always try to say thank you to the folks along the course who are supporting runners, because I do truly appreciate it.

I was doing a good job of not looking at my watch but I was counting blocks and paying attention to street signs to determine how much further until we hit the downhill section heading back towards Lake Merritt. At mile two my shoulder started to ache, which I realized meant that my form must have been suffering. I focused on holding my shoulders back and not slouching. Once I finally hit the downhill section I tried to take advantage as best as I could knowing that the final uphill to the finish line was going to hurt.

As I approached the hill that I had already run up during my warm up run I immediately got a cramp. Just another challenge to overcome, I moved up that hill as best as I could but clearly grimacing in pain. I just kept my head down and kept moving forward. Soon enough I crested the top of the hill and just needed to get my body across the finish line. I manged to fake a smile for the camera as I crossed the line.

Official time was 31:44, obviously not my best time but my an improvement over my last 5k, so progress is indeed being made. My nifty Garmin also flashed me a nice reminder that I had run the course long when it told me my 5k time was 30:46, sigh... if only I had really run 3.1 miles. I placed 44/604 in my age group. All things considered, I'm pretty happy with that!

Thanks to SunRype for allowing me to represent your brand; the fruit bars and strips were a huge hit!

As we move into April the focus moves to multi-sport where I will be swimming and running.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Progress

My days continue to become busier and busier. Which is a great thing, but I'm working very hard to keep track of all of my scheduling and all of the kids scheduling.

I did make some time to sit down and plan some races at least through June. I was disappointed to miss out on Brazen's Bay Breeze as it sold out about a week prior to the race. This really pushed me to sit down and find some races that I wanted to do and commit to them. I had been contemplating the Lucky Run again this year but running a shorter distance. I really had to decide if driving to Davis was worth it for a 7k run, I decided to try and find a more geographically desirable race despite the fact that I love the Lucky Run. Instead I signed up for the Oakland Running Festival's 5k. I also love this race, and was not able to attend last year since it's too close to the Lucky Run. March problem solved!

Despite the fact that I keep telling myself I should unsubscribe from the Active email list, I'm lazy and haven't. Which was a good thing since they sent out a coupon for the Marin Splash and Dash. This race is early April and will be a perfect warm-up for the Moraga Tri. Scott and I will be doing this as a relay again. It will also be some great open water practice before Catfish in June.

I'm also committing to Wolfpack's Mother's Day Run, because it's in my backyard and it's small, how can you say no to that.

I'm very excited now that I have started physical therapy for my shoulder and also started taking Pilates classes. I've been working with a Pilates trainer and also taking one of her classes. She immediately identified all of my weaknesses and has been coming up with a great workouts for me. My headaches have subsided and I'm on my way to a healthy shoulder, back and core. Which means I hope to slowly add in more swimming to prepare for all of this swimming I'm signed up to do.

Running is going along just as planned and I'm getting in three runs a week.

Run happy!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Summer in February

We are so miserably dry here in California, but it's difficult to be disgruntled over the phenomenal  weather we are experiencing.

On Thursday the weather was so amazing that I skipped my morning run in favor of a lunch time swim. I should have really taken some time before I got to the pool to review some of the new swim features on the Garmin 920xt, oops. However, I did get the chance to use my new Finis kick board. The amount of pool toys I bring to swim is ridiculous, but I'm lucky that the Finis alignment kick board is uber small and I can shove it into my swim bag with all of my other junk.  This board is amazing! I can't even begin to explain how much I love this, especially with my shoulder issues.



I used the board along with my swim snorkel and fins and kicked 400 yards in between sets. Due to my ongoing shoulder issues swimming has been difficult. Kicking with a traditional kick board, leaves my body in an unnatural position and causes neck and should pain. This board can go under water and you hold a streamline position, combining the board with my snorkel means no shoulder or neck pain. I really loved it.

As I work my way through some Pilates instruction and physical therapy for my shoulder, I'm hoping to be able to gradually increase my swimming and eventually get back on the bike.

For now, I'm looking at running the Oakland Running Festival's 5k for the third time and I'm possibly considering a splash and dash in early April.