Food: Fueling my Lifestyle

Nothing gets me more exited than food. I take it to a whole new level while training for a race and more recently, while nursing. Both are time-consuming and both create an insatiable appetite like a bear after a long winter hibernating. I wake up hungry.  I think about lunch while eating breakfast, and plan my dinner while eating lunch. I’ve never been interested in counting calories or obsessed with nutrition. In fact, I’ve been known to stash pringles and cheezits in my emergency ironman bag. I once saw a guy eating a slice of pizza on his aerobars at mile 95 and considered bartering. Actually, in my sweaty haze, I just wanted to swipe it. If you are going to get disqualified while racing, that would be an awesome way to do it.

I’m not a nutrition expert, but I know what I like, what makes me happy, and what gets me to the finish line. Although I will rarely turn down a slice of pizza, I do feel best when I have a wholesome and colorful variety of food in my system. Growing up in CA, my parents had an amazing garden. We would go to the backyard to gather fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs for our homecooked meals. I took it for granted then and now realize how I was so fortunate that healthy and fresh foods were the norm.

yumSince having a baby, I think about food even more (as if that that were possible), but I also take a closer look into the quality of my input. Not only because I’m nursing, but for myself and knowing what keeps me going. I remember hitting the wall during one of my first post-pregnancy runs. I was so hungry and exhausted and it turned into a frustrating walk home. I underestimated what my body needed. Now more than ever, I try to get the most “bang per bite” as I like to call it. I consider what can I eat to keep my energy (and mood) levels up.    As much as it is for enjoyment, I see the direct effect that food has on my physical and mental well being and I fuel to keep pace with the lifestyle that I want to live. My daughter recently started eating solid foods and it’s been a joy to prepare her meals and experience food through her eyes. I think she’s catching on…

 

Food: Fueling my Lifestyle

How to Keep your Tri Gear in Shape

It’s amazing how much gear triathletes accumulate. There’s always a new shoe, new watch, new wetsuit. Transition bags seem to get bigger and who doesn’t get excited for those nicely labeled color coded T1-T2 bags? We put a lot of effort planning and packing our pre-race checklist and by the end of the race, it’s usually a jumbled-dirty-mess-bordering-radioactive-funk. Here are my tips on keeping your gear in shape after your race.
Wetsuit –  Hello grass, sand and dirt. Rinse both the inside and outside and let it hang dry inside-out.  Make sure to keep it away from direct sunlight and high heat. If you used a lubricant, make sure to wipe it off. Now is a good time to check for holes or tears and perform the necessary patchwork.transition

Clothing – This could get ugly. Do yourself and the athletes around you a favor, wash it asap. Don’t ever let it sit in your dark hamper – if you absolutely cannot get to it immediately, at least let it dry completely first.  I like to add baking soda and vinegar along with my detergent before throwing it in the machine. If they’re extra gross, feel free to do a pre-soak. Lycra/spandex/poly don’t do well in high heat so be careful with the dryer. Better yet, hang them to dry.

Helmet – wipe the inside and outside and strap with a damp cloth. Hand wash the helmet padding and let it dry before putting it back in.

Bike & Running shoes – The conditions will dictate treatment but you always want to air them out. I like stuffing them with cedar wood sachets to help absorb moisture and keep them fresh. They may need a wash to which I use the same baking soda, vinegar, detergent combo. Make sure to take out the soles, open the laces, velcro and/or clips so they can dry faster. Outside drying is ideal however if you live in an apartment, keep them by a window with light and fresh air. Avoid heat and moisture. Once everything is dry, I recommend liberally adding baking soda at the bottom of the shoe before replacing the sole. Make sure to check your clips and and tighten if they’ve shifted.

Bottles- Give them a good scrub with a bottle brush and make sure to rise well, and then rise again.  Even the tiniest hint of soap in your water during a ride creates an instant bad mood. I’m speaking from experience.

Bike  – Give it a wipe down from the frame to your aero bars if you have them.  Clean/oil your chain if necessary. It doesn’t hurt to give the gears and tires a once-over and you’ll be set for your next ride. If the conditions were rough, it may make sense to take it to your local bike shop.

Giving a bit of post race effort can extend the life of your gear and get you to the next race a lot quicker. Stay tuned for my favorite products list!
How to Keep your Tri Gear in Shape

Strategies for Open Water Swim Anxiety

 

I have a fear of open water. It’s a dark and scary abyss and my imagination always gets the best of me. Perhaps it was watching Jaws at an impressionable age…( which would also explain my fear of clowns, thank-you Stephen King). At my very first race, I could barely get my face in the water to form a proper stroke. It’s never a good thing when you 1) look up and see no other racers around 2) a guy in a kayak is asking if I’m ok and then proceeds to point to the correct buoy 3).. it’s nowhere close to where I’m heading. As with anything, experience alleviates the fear and with these strategies, you can channel your inner Diana Nyad.

Focus on your breathing technique and make necessary adjustments: It’s much easier to develop a consistent breathing rhythm while training in a pool. With a lot more variables in open water ie. temperature, current, other swimmers, it’s often more difficult and you may need to make adjustments from your regular pace. Perhaps slowing down or breathing every stroke as opposed to every other stroke. I usually exert more energy than necessary at the start due to adrenaline, dodging other swimmers, and an increased heart rate. The sooner I focus on consistent breathing, my body relaxes and I can ease into my own rhythm.

Practice! – Seems obvious? Whether a ocean or lake swim, try to practice in that environment in your full race gear. (with a buddy of course!) Make sure you are comfortable in your wetsuit and your goggles. If you can practice in a group setting, even better. Even sharing lanes at the pool can be of benefit as it affects your normal swim rhythm. Don’t forget to practice sighting. In a perfect scenario, you are an efficient sighter and can incorporate it seamlessly into your swim stroke. For the rest of us, do the best you can and as often as you like to feel comfortable.

Visualization- Focus on whatever calms you. A friend once told me to try focusing on my left thumb and nothing else. I loved the simplicity of that. When my imagination starts to run wild and my heart starts pounding, I do a thumb check and all is good in the world.

Plan for the unexpected – WIth so many uncontrollable variables with open water swimming, you have to prepare for the unexpected. This summer I did the Brooklyn Bridge Swim in the east river with NYC Swim. It started fairly easy but due to the tidal shift, it began to feel like an endless pool. I found myself going from freestyle, to breaststroke, backstroke to a strange doggy paddle/ side stroke to get out of the current under the Manhattan bridge. It wasn’t pretty but I didn’t panic. You are allowed to change your stroke. You can even lay on your back, float, stand up if possible and take a breather. If getting kicked in the face or trampled at a mass start is not your thing, you can hang back toward the pack. In a perfect scenario you should be positioned with other swimmers in your skill level and not holding back faster swimmers or wading through slower ones. Also, keep in mind that sometimes the quickest way from point A to B is not the easiest. There are often bottlenecks at turnaround buoys and it may make sense to give yourself extra room by swimming further out and around.

You may come to realize that although you are never 100% comfortable in the water, the goal is to feel confident enough to enjoy the challenge!

Strategies for Open Water Swim Anxiety

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7 Race Tips for First Time Triathletes

I love first-time triathletes. Meeting them is probably one of the best parts of my job. They always have the same look on their faces – part fear, humility, confusion, nervous energy. It’s probably the only time when the sole focus is getting to and savoring that finish line–long before all the other distractions of the obsessed triathlete kick in (here’s lookin’ at you GPS, cadence and heart rate monitor!). There is nothing like the feeling of that first time across the finish line. I often get asked pre-race questions and thought I would compile a list of my top tips for tri newbies:

1. Race attire – What should I wear? The short answer – whatever makes you comfortable! Triathlon can be intimidating for newbies–hell it still can be for seasoned athletes! Therefore, you want to make sure you are comfortable so it’s one less thing to think about. Feel free to march to your own beat. Heck, I completed 3 Ironmans without a watch. Didn’t need one. Didn’t care. With that, here are additional considerations:

  • Are you planning to wear the same outfit for the race or change in transition?
  • Are you prepared for warmer/coolers temperatures?
  • Are you wearing a wetsuit? If so, does your race attire fit comfortably under your wetsuit? If not, does your race outfit work well in water?
  • What kind of short padding do you prefer?
  • Do you require extra bra support?
  • Are you wearing a race belt?

Ultimately, there are no right or wrong answers to the questions above, but it’s good to plan ahead so you are well prepared for race day. While not essential, it’s generally a good idea to have trained in your clothes at some point pre-race day. My advice is to do what works best for you and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

2. Race Fuel – Don’t underestimate the amount of nutrition your body needs pre-during-post race. Pack a snack in your bike, pocket and/or transition bag. The amount of fuel options available on the market can make you dizzy. Choose what works best for your body, distance, and goals. Most importantly, make sure you like the taste!

3. Lube is your best friend. I always recommend it, regardless of distance, temperature or attire. Here are some common problem areas:

  • Groin- anywhere you anticipate rubbing from the saddle or your shorts
  • Underarm
  • Behind the neck if you are wearing a wetsuit

Remember, anywhere on your body where sweat and moisture can build up is fair game for chafing. Prevention is your best bet.

4. Get organized – Triathlon can be the breeding ground for folks of OCD organizational tendencies. Doesn’t apply to you? Just give it time. In the meantime, here are some tips:

  • Pack your transition bag neatly and anticipate what you may need – extra socks in case of wet weather? SPF? Lip Balm? An extra hair tie?
  • The last thing you want is to have to dig around during transition. Set up your space neatly and in logical order. For example – Store your socks in your bike shoes. Place your sunglasses, gloves and race belt in your bike helmet.
  • It’s always good to make it a habit of throwing items back into your transition bag when you are done with them. Items are often shuffled around, so it’s easier to keep everything in one spot for pick up.

5. Know your gear – Ideally, you should practice whatever you plan to use on race day. You should know the basic mechanics of your bike and how to change a flat like it’s in your job description. In your saddle bag, you should make a habit of carrying a spare tube, patch kit, CO2 inflator + cartridge, and mini multifunction tool kit. Self sufficiency rocks.

6. Rules of the road and race etiquette

  • Don’t be a transition hog. Make sure to rack your bike in the correct direction and only take up your own space.
  • When passing on the bike, call out and pass on the proper side for that particular race. Don’t hog the road and always be aware of those passing you.
  • Be a good sport on the course. I’ve seen everything from shoving and screaming matches to awesome acts of kindness. I much prefer racing with the awesome category. Don’t forget to thank your race volunteers!

7. Take a deep breathe, relax, and have a sense of humor! Although triathlon is an individual sport, so much of your race experience is tied to the actions, attitude and camaraderie of your fellow athletes. Have fun with it!

7 Race Tips for First Time Triathletes