Saturday, March 19, 2016

Meal Prep and A Recipe

I didn't do much of note during my recovery week - or in the subsequent week since it was the sort of week where everything went wrong and workouts didn't really happen. Since I have no workouts/training to recap for you, I thought I'd talk a little bit about how I meal plan and food prep.

My meal preps usually include:

- 5 breakfasts : I eat breakfast at the office and Mr. R&R usually has a bowl of cereal or oatmeal at home. I usually have a yogurt mess or proatmeal.

- Lunch for both of us on Monday and Tuesday (see soup recipe below)

- Dinner for both of us on Monday and Tuesday (chicken, spanakorizo, and tzatziki sauce)

- Snacks for both of us on Monday and Tuesday (yogurt messes for Mr. R&R, hardboiled eggs, sliced apples, etc.)

Before I go to the grocery store I come up with a detailed list of every ingredient I'll need for the week (with the exception of really basic things like salt and pepper) and then I go through my cabinets/freezer/refrigerator and cross off the things I already have to eliminate buying more than I need or letting things go to waste.  I also try to make sure I'm not starving when I go shopping since it leads to me buying chips, cookies, or other things I really don't need.

I only do prep for the first two days of the week, but each week's plan includes lunches, dinners and snacks for the whole week.  The early part of the week is rigidly planned and Wednesday through Friday are more of a loose framework since they can't be prepped ahead of time; so we go with whatever option sounds the most appealing at the time; because let's face it, sometimes tacos sound better than pasta on any given night.

Lunches on Wednesday through Friday usually consist of a sandwich (turkey or pb&j are popular), a veggie burger, or a couple of scrambled eggs.  Dinners are all things that can be on the table in 30 minutes (pasta, chicken/potato/veggie, stir fry, etc.) or less since we don't eat until after our workouts and by that point it's usually after 9pm and we're both ravenous.

My favorite prepped lunch lately has been soup - particularly wonton soup.  The first time I made it, I spent a bunch of time on Pinterest looking at recipes, but most had entirely too many specialty ingredients.  The others sounded more like a couple of non-asian vegetables floating around in some bland broth.  Time to improvise.  I put a bunch of stuff together and Mr. R&R and I both got a little excited by the smells emanating from the kitchen while the soup was simmering.  Sadly, the first taste was a bit of a let down, but a few little tweaks later, we were both almost looking forward to Monday so we could eat it for lunch.  The next two times I made it, I employed the tweaks early on and had a delicious, flavor-packed soup in under an hour - and it's stupid easy to make.

Wonton Soup

The Stuff

The Stuff
- 2-3 cloves of garlic; minced
- 2-2 1/2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger - depending on how much you like ginger
- 2 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 package sliced white (button) mushrooms
- 4 to 5 green onions; white and green parts - chopped
- 32oz container low sodium chicken broth
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce*
- 1 bag Trader Joe's mini chicken and cilantro wontons
- 1 package baby bok choy (or 1 large one; washed and chopped into somewhat smaller pieces, but not too small)

*I would suggest starting with 1/3 cup of soy sauce and adjusting after the simmering stage based on your own taste.

Method (aka What to Do with the Stuff)
- Heat sesame oil in a heavy soup pot over medium high heat, then sautee the garlic and ginger; stirring constantly until fragrant.  

- Add the chicken broth, soy sauce, white part of onions, and the mushrooms; stir well to get the garlic and ginger off the bottom of the pot.

-Bring to a boil; then reduce heat to medium low, cover and let it simmer for 45 - 60 minutes.

- After simmering, taste your broth. Add more soy sauce and/or ginger according to your taste.  I like ginger a lot, so I like to make sure that flavor shines through.

- Add the still-frozen wontons to the pot along with the bok choy and continue simmering until the wontons are just cooked through and the bok choy is wilted.

- Remove from heat and cool a bit before ladling into four equal portions (I actually count the wontons as I'm adding them into the pot so we each get an equal amount) and garnishing with green onion.

I like to let the soup cool completely before covering it and throwing it in the fridge for later consumption.  I reheat by venting the lid and microwaving for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes on high.

Are you a meal planner/prepper? What are your go to dishes?

All Prepped And Ready To Go

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Pi Day 5k Race Recap

I've really been enjoying my recovery week, but the Pi Day 5k at the end of it was never far from my mind.  This was the 5th of 6 races in the Chilly Willy run series - and my chance to redeem myself after my less-than-stellar performance at the Frosty 5k back in January.

The usual race morning rituals were observed with the exception of the Clif Bar.  I just couldn't stomach it today.  We got to the race site about 45 minutes early, picked up our bibs, and headed back to the car to chill out for a bit before doing warm up strides and stretching.  It's been 2 months since I've laced up my running shoes with the intention of actually racing, so I wasn't crystal clear about my expectations for this run.  As we waited, I ran through the positives and negatives in my head.


- The weather was damn near perfect. Low 50's, overcast, very light wind.

- I've been working my ass off in the pool, on the bike, and on the treadmill, so my overall fitness level was pretty good coming into this race.

- My body was well rested, my sinuses were relatively clear after a week out of the pool, and my stomach felt fine.


- All the women I've been competing against in this series showed up this morning; which meant that the odds of retaking 3rd place in my age group were low.

- This course is not easy.  It's the same course as the Gobble Wobble 5k and it should probably just be renamed Lots and Lots of Hills.  Historically, I do not run well on hilly courses and this one has a very steep hill at the end.

- I haven't been running as much due to adding in swimming and biking, so I wasn't entirely sure that my run training was solid enough.

As we walked to the start line, I decided that as long as I didn't go out too fast and blow up after Mile 1, didn't let the bullshit voice get to me, and came in under 28 minutes (10 seconds better than Gobble Wobble), I'd be satisfied.

I wished Mr. R&R luck, pushed my way near the front, and waited for the countdown.

3...2...1... GO!

The first part of the course was downhill, so I wasn't too shocked to see 7:42 as my initial pace.  I knew that it would self-correct on the first big uphill.  I lost contact with the front pack on the first hill, but I was solidly at the front of the second pack. I was running pretty hard, but from experience, I knew that if there was a place to push on this course, Mile 1 was it.  I concentrated on taking deep, even breaths as the hills rolled by under my feet.

Just past Mile 1, we turned into a headwind and I started getting cold.  Right around that point I also fell into step with a guy who became a great pace rabbit - although that probably wasn't on his list of things to do that day!  I checked my watch and he was steadily running the exact pace I wanted to be at and he was tall, so I tucked myself in behind him to shield myself from the wind and spent the next mile and a half watching his back. 

The course sort of looks like a lasso, so as we headed into the "handle" for an out and back, I watched the leaders coming back at us and it provided a welcome distraction.  In this situation, I usually start counting dudes until I see Mr. R&R, but I was starting to hurt pretty bad and lost count after about 5 people.  We saw each other, did a sort of half-wave thing, and went back to our respective runs.  I hit the turnaround and it was only a matter of minutes before the Mt. Everest hill had to be tackled.

I ran most of the way up, dropped to a walk for about 20 seconds to catch my breathe, and then proceeded to catch back up to my pace rabbit.  I checked my watch and it clicked in my foggy brain that I was on pace for a PR. What?!!?!  That was unplanned, but it lit a wildfire under my ass.  As soon as we got up the hill I hit the gas, dropped my pace rabbit, and hauled ass to the finish line.

I stopped my watch, took a fraction of a second to let my new PR register in my brain, and then found a tree to lean against while the world stopped spinning.  Once I felt reasonable again, I found Mr. R&R and it turns out that we both turned in huge PRs.  

We meandered around waiting for official results to post - both a little shell shocked.  Mr. R&R's efforts were enough to win his age group (2nd place was six and a half minutes behind him).  Mine weren't enough to get on the podium - once again, I was a bridesmaid.  I was 3:07 behind 3rd place, which I can live with.  I was temporarily livid at myself for that walk break on the hill when I discovered that I was three tenths of a second behind 4th place.  Damn! I could have used that extra series point!  

Obviously I would have liked to have made the podium, but I really can't complain about a race that ends with a 50 second PR - and pie!!! 

Time: 26:30 (8:32/mile pace)*
Overall Place: 66/226
Gender Place: 32/154
Age Group Place: 5/23 (F35-39)

*Once again the course was a bit short, so I don't think that this average pace is accurate.

We stopped home long enough to change out of sweaty running clothes and then went out for a celebratory lunch at Bel Air Cantina - because dual PRs and an age group win requires something special.
Guava Margarita

Trio of House Salsas

Cactus, Korean Beef, and Ninja Pig Tacos
Up Next: More tri training and the final race of the Chilly Willy Series: First Call on April 10th.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Base Building: Round 2 - Week 4

I'm tired. So tired.  The last 8 weeks have been amazing in terms of building a good foundation; but they've also taken a bit of a toll and I think it all caught up to me this week.  Mr. R&R and I have jointly decided that we'll be taking a recovery week before plowing headlong into the build phase of training - but more on that another time.

My scheduled rest day became a workout day when I scheduled a desperately needed Wednesday night appointment with The Mane Wrangler.  I was already in a mood from work and when my ANT+ stick (the thing that communicates with my speed/cadence sensor and allows the program to make virtual power calculations) malfunctioned and then my Garmin decided it didn't want to cooperate.  I damn near threw in the towel and called it a lost cause but eventually I calmed down and got everything to work - after 3 false starts.  At least my power output was pretty!

Dear Mother Nature:

It is March 1st.  Dumping 4+ inches of snow on us is not acceptable - especially when I have to drive to bumble*%$@ nowhere in rush hour traffic.

Rabbits and Runs

Why was I driving to bumble*%$@ nowhere? Because I had an appointment to get my dress for Little Sister's wedding altered and rescheduling was out of the question.  30 minutes out, 40 minutes getting pinned into a dress that makes me look pregnant, 30 minutes home.  I took 20 minutes to decompress and then Mr. R&R and I headed for the pool. I think the sensory deprivation was just what I needed to regroup.

Drinking wine with The Mane Wrangler while she made me feel pretty again was a fabulous way to spend an evening.

I love when my night to work late goes so well that I get home by 6:30 instead of 8:00!  Mr. R&R and I had our regular Thursday night gym date.  My weird abdominal problem from a few weeks ago cropped up again, but I really didn't want to solve it by digging my fingers into it - no. more. bruises.  I ended up slowing down a little when the pain was at its worst and then speeding up when it let up.  Somehow I still ended up with negative splits!  Afterward, we each squeezed in a short strength workout and then pointed ourselves straight to Trader Joe's for chips and guacamole - the only thing that sounded even remotely appealing to either of us.

Last swim of Base Building!  My goggles stayed on my face and my body only sort of hated me for swimming blocks of 200 yards, and I made a concerted effort not to inhale pool water in hopes of avoiding another bout of sinus crud.  After 8 weeks of working at it, I finally feel like I'm really pulling myself through the water with each stroke rather than just thrashing up and down the lane.  I spent a lot of that swim wondering if/how much all this pool time is going to translate to open water.  I'm really hoping that I can get to a point of having enough confidence in my ability to swim the distance that I just have to focus on controlling my open water anxiety - and we all know how bad that anxiety fucks with my head.

We also took the boys upstairs after dinner for some music/reading/cuddle time and they both snuggled up so close to me that I ended up dozing off while petting them.  Bunny cuddles are the best!

You're getting sleeeeepy.

I made it to the gym in time to run a really fast warm up mile before enduring a 30 minute ass beating from my trainer.  By the time she was done with me my legs, abs and butt ached, my arms were shaking ,and I was convinced that I was never going to stop pouring sweat. I love having someone there to show me new things and to push me way outside my comfort zone - and the results are awesome. The lines down the center of my abs are starting to show again and I feel so much stronger.

After the gym, I made a quick pit stop at my mom's house and then headed home to discover that Mr. R&R had cleaned the entire kitchen and was in the process of doing all of Walter and Spot's laundry! I changed my clothes, made a quick list, and headed out to do a bunch of errands while he kept going on the laundry - because those rabbits really know how to make the laundry pile up.

Our recovery week started early when Mr. R&R and I decided to blow off the bike in favor of a long walk around the zoo.  It turns out that we picked the perfect day to go - there were very few people around and the animals were really active.

The Humboldt Penguins are right by the entrance and I made some crack about how they needed to quit moving around so much so I could get a picture - and then promptly cracked up when these little guys lined themselves up as though they were posing for me!

Other highlights included:

Baby Lowland Gorilla

Fennec Fox

Tafari: 6 Month Old Reticulated Giraffe

Seeing Tafari was particularly exciting for both of us since he's the animal we chose to sponsor this year (last year was the Red River Hog).  The four adult giraffes kept meandering aimlessly around their winter enclosure, but Tafari just hung out on the  ground, munching hay, and seemed to be completely unfazed by all the people staring at him.

Are you a zoo fan?  What's your favorite animal?