Good Luck at Ironman Boulder!

I hope everyone meets and exceeds their goals!

Good Luck RMTC

Training with Drunken Corn Cakes

I have been excited about trying to train with natural foods for awhile now, and then a guy I had a crush on told me about the book, Feed Zone Portables by Skratch Labs and I knew I had to buy it. My first cooking experiment were two different rice cakes, one savory (egg/bean/peppers) and one sweet (coconut milk, dark chocolate, jam) — both were tasty, and made a ton of training fuel in a batch, but they weren’t quite ideal (effect on my stomach was a little questionable), so I wanted to try something else.

My other attempt at Feed Zone Portables

My other attempt at Feed Zone Portables

For round two, I had a long ride up on the Boulder Ironman course with my triathlon club, so I was excited to try out the Sweet Corn Cakes.

However, a combination of happy hour (with a different guy — things with the crush didn’t pan out, but whatevs) and sunshine meant that I didn’t get to baking until after 4 beers and an Uber ride from downtown, so needless to say, baking happened a little differently than planned.

So, below is the recipe for KP’s Drunken Corn Cakes (as adapted from the Sweet Corn Cake Recipe in the book).

Ingredients

1 cup Masa Harina

1/4 cup sugar (book has raw sugar, I don’t have that on hand)

2 tbs flour (book has brown rice flour, again, I’m not quite that orgo)

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 ground cinnamon (I heavy handed this for extra sweetness)

dash of coarse salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 tbs melted butter

1 cup soy milk, heated

3 beers, preferably 5.0% ABV or greater.

Sweet Corn Cakes

Sweet Corn Cakes – Not my picture. Mine were all misshapen :)

Directions

Drink 2 beers quickly (optional step).

Brush a griddle lightly with oil and bring to medium-high heat

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Add egg & butter and combine well.

Heat soy milk for 90 seconds in the microwave. Quickly add to the bowl.

Let batter rest to thicken.

Drink 1 more beer (optional step).

Spoon batter onto griddle. Cook until golden brown, about 1-2 min per side.

————————-

I put 4 in a small ziploc and was able to carry 1 pack (good for 2 hours) in my bento box and one pack in my jersey. They were a great hit on the ride, so I’ve been making them weekly since. Each corn cake is ~135 calories, 5g fat, 40mg sodium, 21g carbs, 3g protein, and provides 47% water.

One of the coolest learnings I had from the book was that having more water content in your food can be a great benefit as you can only ingest so much ‘straight water’ on the rides so having additional water from the food can keep you hydrated.

I can’t wait to try something else!

 

Coupon Stacking For-The-Win

So, one of the things I’ve done over the course of my career is manage Affiliate or Referral Marketing channels for retail and B2B businesses. You know, coupon codes & cash back sites that get a customer a discount, and a retailer a customer who might have otherwise shopped at a competitor that had a cheaper price. It’s a high traffic channel that, depending on the structure of the deal and the relationship between the referral site, can make a company a decent profit. Affiliate Marketing has a larger scope than a companies Loyalty or Credit Card Program, because it’s brand agnostic, but the way that it meshes with that additional points or cash-based program can be interesting for a company to manage, but great for a customer to exploit (in certain circumstances).

An experience that I had yesterday showed exactly that.

Last year, when buying a new suit, I got convinced into signing up for a Banana Republic Credit Card. I don’t use this card very frequently, but as a “Loyalty Member”, I receive special email/member deals & “rewards bucks” when I hit various levels of spending (at the Gap Family of Brands and non-Gap spending). I’ve hit a few of their tiers and had accrued a few different bucks and saved them for the right time.

That time, was yesterday. I got an email that gave Banana Card holders 40% off their purchase.

I was enough compelled that I ended up finding a super cute skirt on their site — Normal Price $79.50

Sloan Skirt

Super Cute!

I didn’t find anything else, so I started the check-out process (after, obviously, clicking through the Banana Republic shopping link on eBates which would garner me 2.0% back in the form of a check further down the road).

With the 40% coupon, the skirt was now $47.70.

In my wallet, I had a printed off $30 reward voucher for my first $100 spent on my Banana card. There was nothing noted that the rewards couldn’t be added to the sale, so I tried out the code, and voila, the skirt was now $17.70.

I wasn’t positive, but I thought it was possible I had hit another threshold and had ANOTHER $10 voucher. I logged in, and yep! $10! The skirt was now $7.70! With tax, it was $8.26.

Finally, ebates (pretty smart of them), only gave a discount on final processing, so I’ll get $0.31 back next time they cut a check (Skirt = $7.95 — 90% off the original price!)

Gap’s Shopping Card engine wasn’t so smart, either, and their free shipping threshold (though set for $50, must have been off of ORIGINAL price), so I also got Free Shipping (probably a $5-6 value!). Skirt, effectively, now $1-$2.

Banana Republic is most definitely losing money on me with this transaction — any analyst will see that when they run the post-campaign numbers, but they are banking on the majority of people only using 1 of these promotions and not all 4, but for the smart shopper, the possibilities are available.

Moral of the story. Keep your eyes open for the right time to strike! Always try to stack! …and deals are out there for those that pay attention.

2ish days in… (and a recipe!)

So, after starting Friday strong, it fell apart when we had a celebration for hitting our October goals & a happy hour for someone on the team leaving. I know that there are ways to ignore drinks when you are at a bar, but having barely started, I easily regressed and felt a little bad about pushing it down one more day.

However, this weekend was pretty great! I kept on top of most everything including a post-workout egg breakfast and cooking most of my meals at home.

I was pretty excited to have a “different” breakfast on Sunday morning including a sunny-side-up egg with avocado & smoked salmon. It was super easy and was definitely more filling than than I would have expected. Usually I have eggs & toast or eggs & potatoes, but this was just the right amount of salty, fatty, and healthy.

egg, avo, salmon

egg, avo, salmon

After I ran my errands on Sunday (including whole30 shopping that cost me over $100! Ugh!) I decided I would take advantage of all of these new foods and I went through all of the amazing, but mostly unopened cookbooks that I keep in my kitchen.

Cookbooks!

So much opportunity, so little use (typically).

I bookmarked a bunch of things that fit into the Whole30 list and went about deciding on tonight’s experiment.

Wanting to sort-of make something that I could have again this week (as all I’ve heard is that preparation is the key to success), I settled on a “creamy” cauliflower soup from “The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen

It was super easy! All you need is a medium onion, a large cauliflower (cut into small chunks), and 3.5 cups of veggie broth! You bring it to a boil after sauteing the onions in 2 tbsp of oil.  Then you simmer for 10 min and then puree it. I was slightly concerned that my slightly ghetto blender wasn’t going to be able to process everything, but I did it in batches and it worked great. The recipe says you can top with sour cream or cheese, but I skipped that due to the whole30.

A little pepper on top, and a very filling, tasty soup was finished!

Yummy, creamy, and just enough pepper-y cauliflower soup.

Yummy, creamy, and just enough pepper-y cauliflower soup.

I plan on eating it for lunch tomorrow, and I probably have enough for a couple other meals or sides with a salad. I might also freeze the remainder so I can have it next week and don’t get bored of it. (the perils of cooking for one!).

Anyway, the big challenge begins tomorrow with work…

Stepping into the Whole30

Inspired by a girl I used to work with who recently completed the Whole30 and hit her milestone of losing 50 pounds, I am going to do the Whole30 (well, realistically the Whole27 + Tday + 3) starting tomorrow Nov 1. I’ve been thinking about it for awhile, and it’s just too easy to say, “I’ll start next week; I have a happy hour” or “I’m going on vacation in a few weeks… I should wait.” So, another guy at work and I decided that we would just jump right in and do it.

His goal is to kickstart a significant amount of weight-loss, mine is a little softer.

I have gained about 4lbs since my relationship ended in August and, though that doesn’t seem like much, I’m going into the winter and I know it will escalate if left unchecked. Additionally, next year is an Ironman year  and I want to make sure that I have my nutrition in order before I start significant training so I can set myself up for success & learn how to do my nutrition based on whole foods and not gels/blocks/etc. I know a lot of people who have looked into having the ideal racing weight, and that is something that I’m keeping in the outside of my mind. I calculated that value before my last Ironman, and I think I’m about 12lbs off from ideal (I’m official 143.4 as of this morning, but need to recalculate my body-fat), so if I get going on that now, it will be easier to maintain throughout the year.

So, the Whole30... it’s a very restrictive 30 day plan to change the way that you look at food, especially grains, legumes, and sugar. It’s going to be TOUGH, but not necessarily because of what foods you can/can’t eat, but rather the focus on non-processed, non-prepared foods. I frequently am running around as well only cooking for one person, so I find it hard to commit to cooking. With this plan, I’m going to have to make the effort for myself, which I think is a good lesson as well. Other potential roadblocks ahead include a trip to Vegas for my marathon in a few weeks. While running a marathon will reduce the typical debauchery, it will still be hard to eat well in a land of buffets & alcohol. It will be a good challenge and I’m excited to see what happens to my body and my mind over the next 30 days!

We decided to commit yesterday, so today we both tip-toed into it. I drank only black coffee (realizing that our work coffee is too acidic and burnt tasting, so I had to go out for one), and had my greek yogurt (not allowed, but in my fridge and will expire in under 30 days) with only a banana and not the granola I usually have. Lunch is a good-bye event for one of my employees, so I think it won’t fit the plan, but dinner I will recommit and go head first into my days!

I’ll try to update this as I’m going to attempt to do some good cooking and it’s better to put it out there, even if it’s not being read by anyone but me :)

8 months later… Ironman Canada Race Report :)

So, I’m not entirely sure why I never wrote my race report from Canada. It was an amazing experience, and I’m really proud, but I just didn’t get my act together.

…but I will now!

I decided on Ironman Canada  because of the following reasons:

1. Time of year: Late August. — late enough that you don’t have to “really” start training until after ski season, but early enough that it’s still nice weather and not too far after summer.

Penticton

Penticton – town between the two lakes

2. Beautiful Locale: British Columbia is known for it’s beauty, and Penticton, nestled in wine country, is gorgeous.

3. Great course: According to runTri it is neither the hardest or easiest couse, but right in the middle.

4. A lot of Colorado people doing it!: My triclub, RMTC, had no less than 30 people heading up there, so it meant a lot of friends on the course and people to train with all summer.

5. Mild temps:  Usually, IMCA is not too hot (like Louisville) or too cold (like St. George), but summer of 2012 was one of the hottest summers on record, and I did more hot weather training than I expected, and the temps were warm, but not too too bad.

Anyway, on to the trip.

—-

I flew up to Spokane from Denver and picked up a rental car there. It was a quick couple hour drive up to Canada. The road up was the first part of the bike course, so I got to kill a couple birds with one stone and saw part of what I’d see later that week.  I had left my bike with Wesley at ProBike Express a few days previous, so it was a pretty quick trip in a small car.

Side Note: This was the first time I had used a bike company, but after a failed Southwest Airlines experience with my bike, I wasn’t about to risk having other missing pieces and a messed up bike fit before the race. Wesley was awesome, and totally worth the money because it was door-to-door, and I didn’t have to worry about a thing!

My parents met me at our rental, and we got the lay of the land (small town, lots of fruit stands!)

The next day we checked in, and I did a quick swim in the lake… it was clear, cool (but not cold), and calm. While we were in town, we heard that there had been trouble brewing between the WTC, Graham Fraser (the organizer),  and the town of Penticton. It seems that there were some financial disagreements, and a lot of anger. I still don’t completely understand what all went down other than, I realized that day, that this was my first and everyone’s last Ironman Canada… 30 years and that history was going to end in 2012. Ironman was moving Ironman Canada to Whistler and Challenge was coming to Penticton. It added a little sadness and an interesting angle to the whole experience.

—-

The night before the race, we cooked dinner in our condo, and I finished prepping, going to bed as early as I could force myself. I played though my head all of the course, and my hopes & thoughts on my time.

Day came (too quickly), I ate some eggs and toast, and we got on the road up to the transition area. I am always nervous before a start, and we were there kinda early… I added my bottles to my bike, pumped up the tires, checked (and rechecked everything), got my wetsuit on, and sat. and sat some more. Finally, the let us into the beach area and it was time to get going!

Swim: 1:14:15 (1:57/100m)

Canada Start

I’m right there.

This was a mass start, totally different than Ironman Louisville… I kept to the outside/left, hit start on my watch, and tried to not get kicked too hard when the gun went off. I tried to settle into a nice pace, and use the drafting skills I had (hopefully) picked up over the summer. I felt pretty good too… it was a big square, and the water was super clear and the perfect temp. I just tried to settle in and keep up…. when I started swimming towards shore at the end, I tried to take a straight shot, however, I saw a bunch of people over the right. I thought I didn’t need to get over to them, but as I stood up to walk to the archway, the rocks made me realize why no one was in my area. I also realized that I had never hit go on my watch, so I had NO concept of how my bike was, but I assumed it had to be under 1:20…

Ergh.

T1: 3:51

I eventually hobbled over the exit and made my way to the tent & the wetsuit strippers. I felt good & quick and made it to my bike and hopped on.

Image

I think I was still getting over the rocks!

Bike: 6:51:53 (16.3 mph)

I had read this great description of the bike course on RunTri and felt as used it as my primary guide to the 112 miles. It broke the course into 5 sections and as expected, the first 42 miles were a fast trip past fruit stands to the base of Richter Pass. I averaged about 17.4 mph and felt good and refreshed.

I was happy because this was early (and flat) into the race

I was happy because this was early (and flat) into the race

The next section went up Richter Pass. I had prepped myself for this 7 miles (1200 ft elevation gain) with more than a few trips up Lookout Mountain outside of Golden, and I felt pretty solid on the trip up. The rolling hills that followed were tough, but not too bad, and as I entered section 3 (the windy section), I was feeling not too bad. Around mile 68, you take this off-shoot down Upper Bench road to the special needs section. This was rough to say the least. I hit some sort of invisible wall and each bump in the road was painful. When I got to the special needs section, I got off my bike for a second, ate a bite of chocolate, and felt much better. I also saw Heather Dokken from RMTC, and she was smiling, happy, and doing great, so that invigorated me as well.

The next section was a tough climb to Yellow lake; A much bigger slog than Richter pass, and not necessarily what they had talked up as much… it was warm at this point, and I started to dump water on my arm sleeves and self a lot at this point. After FINALLY getting to the top, I was hoping for a FAST downhill back into town. I got some of it, but the wind had picked up, and I don’t think it was as fast as I had expected. I was hoping to be closer to a 17 mph average, but it wasn’t happening, and I was glad to get back town in one piece in under 7 hours.

T2: 4:51

Super uneventful, I just tried to get some sunscreen on myself and my shoes on.

Run: 5:22:12 (12:17 avg)

This was were I was hoping to make up a bit of time vs. IMLousville… and I started off pretty strong with the first mile about 10:15 & feeling good because it was flat/slightly downhill. It was pretty close after this that I saw Matt Smith from the RMTC. He had just crushed the race and come in 2nd in his division and 12th overall. Wow. His awesome, and equally speedy wife was cheering for him and she cheered me on and I felt pepped up and ready to go!

looking strong (still early)

looking strong (still early)

The run followed the lake all the way down to the town my family was staying in, where it turned around and went back. I saw most everyone I knew because of the out-and-back nature of the course including Charley & his wife on-and-off for much of this first stretch. Everyone looked fast and great and it definitely invigorated me. A few miles in, you go up a slight hill, but then it’s pretty steady down. It was sunny, but not overly hot, and there were people, but not much of a crowd until you got closer to the turnaround. I knew as I was heading down into town that it was going to be a rough return trip, but I tried to just take it one mile at a time.

I made it to the turnaround in about 2:36. I had finally figured out what the race time was (more or less) and realized that if I could get back in about the same amount of time, I’d be under 13:30 (which was my “A” goal), so I worked on a walk the aid stations, run system that more or less worked for about 1 mile. Then it was more of a 5min run/1min walk, then it was just run what I could and walk only 1 min at a stretch. My stomach was starting to get rough, and all I could really eat was gel & soda, so that’s what I did. (Note to self: really figure out a better plan next time). It was hot, so I was putting a lot of water on my head and arms sleeves. Even as bad as I felt, I was 1000 times better than last time because the humidity situation was half (if that) from Louisville, so it really was a “dry heat.” I just kept plodding and eventually the empty miles along the lake made way to the more populated outskirts and parts of town.

My parents had accidentally missed my finish in Louisville, so this time they were determined not to… they stuck to just the turnaround and the finish, which worked out well as I saw them about a half-mile or so from the finish (as you turn left PAST THE FINISH) and head out to the semi-most-painful half mile ever. It’s flat and there are a ton of people, but at that point, it’s really tough to run away from where you really really want to be. I had to dig deep to get that last bit, but as I crossed the finish line, I was so so happy!

i had my own finish tape to break... kinda fun :)

i had my own finish tape to break… kinda fun :)

Post-Race

I got my medal, saw my folks, and started making my way to the athlete’s post-race area. I grabbed a piece of pizza (post IMLV it was all I wanted, so I thought it’d be good again) & a cookie, and sat down. All of a sudden, I felt AWFUL… kinda weak, kinda sick, kinda unable to eat anything. All in all, just bad. Luckily the volunteers were amazing… someone got me some soda, and I sat and tried to collect myself and feel better. I barely touched my food, made it through about 1/3 of the soda, and tried to not lay down on the ground. My parents couldn’t come in (and I didn’t feel up to walking out), so they stood on the other side of the fence from me and kept making me drink/eat more and try to get to a point where I felt like I could walk. It took a bit, but I finally mustered enough energy to get to my family. We got to the car, and started the 15mile drive back to the hotel. We had to take a slight detour at a Denny’s (my stomach was still super messed up and I needed a pitstop… I still feel bad for whomever followed me into the bathroom).

At this point, I really wanted to get down to the condo, shower, and get back to final finisher. It was getting colder, but the energy at the finish was already picking up, and it’s such a cool experience… but when we made it to the room, I settled on the couch for a few moments, my mom got me some toast (I was finally a little hungry), and I chatted with Alyssa (who was sharing the place & had been back for an hour), and we turned on the TV where they were filming from the finish. Somehow that felt as good (lame, I know) and we watched people finish. One of the most inspiring was  Sister Madonna Buder, the Iron Nun. At 82, she is still running marathons (she started at 48!) and is the oldest woman to compete an Ironman. Amazing!

All in all, I am really pleased with my race. I was faster in each discipline than in 2010, and had a great time.

I can’t wait to start training again for 2014 (just need to pick a race destination first!).

Snowman Stampede & Not Sticking to a Plan.

On Saturday, I ran the Snowman Stampede, a 10-mile race in Littleton. The weather was an absolutely gorgeous 55-degrees and the course was an out-and-back flat South Platte Trail.

I had decided to run kind of last minute as my training schedule for the Canyonlands 1/2 marathon had me running 10 miles and my CrossFit curiosity had the best of me. Would I be able to run faster in my first race of the season even though I had only been doing CF 3x per week and running 1-2 times? …or would I crawl miserably across the finish line having been bested by a ‘short’ race and a cocky attitude?

Well… It was a draw. I went out in a lightning fast (for me) 8:30 mile 1, and then slowed down for miles 2-5 averaging a bit under 9:30 , and then slowed again for the return trip with about 10min miles… It ended up being a tie (or a 1 sec PR if you count my watch vs. their timing) for my 10-mile PR (1:36:59).

I think what this teaches me about CrossFit and endurance running is as follows:

1. Strength helps. I was surprised that I was so fast in the beginning and that I was able to run as far as I did. Last year I ran a 10-mile race in mid-April, but I had been already building my base for Ironman training. Here, I had very little “traditional” base, so to feel ‘pretty good’ (and to be able to bike & hang out successfully the rest of the weekend was a pretty good sign for CrossFit-based training.

2. ..but running is running and you can’t replace it completely.  Though matching my PR felt pretty good, I am still far below the pace that I want for my half marathon in March. I am aiming for 1:58 which is a 9-min mile pace and means that I can’t have that 5 mile drop-off in my race. I think with 4 weeks to go, I can ideally get the long runs in that are needed to keep the endurance up.

3. I’m an awful blogger, but trying to get better. I had said that I was going to track my progress, but that obviously didn’t happen. I have a pile of excuses — I was sick, then at a wedding, then I wasn’t really following a schedule anyway, etc. etc. However, mark my words (all 2 of you that read this), I will make an effort to write more as well as to follow a CFE schedule a little more frequently!

4 weeks to go! Let’s see what happens!

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