Swim swimmy swim

I had my first swim lesson today!

I learned a lot of things. Including that most people don’t bring their giant beach towels to the gym pool. (It’s cozy and fluffy. It might keep coming with me.)

It was so exciting to walk into a place where I felt nervous and uncomfortable, and know that soon I’ll feel right at home. That’s one of the gifts that comes with adulthood, isn’t it? We know we’ll acclimate, adjust, learn and be socialized into new settings.

I remember feeling so nervous the first time I showed up at a 5k, or to spin class; two places where I now feel completely comfortable. Now I feel nervous at the gym going into the pool.

Will I find the pool entrance from the locker room? Ok, obviously I’ll find it, but how long will I wander around looking for it making other women feel awkward because I’m gazing around while they’re changing? Where do I shower before getting into the pool? Is it super weird or just sort of weird that I don’t own a one piece because I have a long torso and don’t like them? How exactly do I ask someone if I can share their lane, and is it better to just wait? Am I going to be FREEZING COLD the entire time I’m in the pool?

But underneath all that nervousness is the knowledge that all these questions will get answered, my comfort level will build, and soon I’ll wander through the locker room on auto-pilot… and I’ll even have remembered to bring face-wash and moisturizer in the bag with my shower shoes.

It’s so easy to think when you go somewhere new or try something you’re not good at that the reason it’s uncomfortable is that you don’t belong. It’s tempting to think that maybe this isn’t your scene, it’s not the place for you, this isn’t your thing. But learning to hold out until your accustomed to the social setting and nuances makes all the difference. THEN you can decide if you like this activity or gym or fitness class or whatever it is.

I thought I wasn’t a runner. I couldn’t breathe when I ran, it was boring, it was hard, it wasn’t my thing.

I thought I was probably crazy buying spin shoes a week after my first spin class, because I probably wouldn’t stick with it.

Yes, I experienced some nervous excitement going to my first swim lesson. But I knew I’d figure things out. That things will get easier. That it’s fine that I can’t get the hang of turning my head to the side to breathe yet. This is the fun phase; the place where the most transformation takes place. I will be a different swimmer in a month, and unrecognizable in the water in two months. I know this, I trust in this, because I’ve transformed before.

I’m so excited to be working on this new life skill. I love the water. I love the ocean, and paddle-boarding, and sailboats and snorkeling. I would love to be a strong swimmer… and here’s my chance, with the Tri for a Cure as my motivation.

So thank you, running… for making me believe I can become a swimmer.

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Track Repeat Tuesday

It’s track repeat Tuesday!

I signed up for this track clinic on a whim when a friend recommended it to me, and it’s been incredible. I go and push hard, once a week, every week. I’m halfway through the clinic and not sure what I’ll do when it ends. I’m afraid of losing all the ground because I won’t have the scheduled time and group to keep me motivated.

If it hadn’t been scheduled, there’s probably no way I would have run this morning.

The indoor track my group uses.

But it was. And I knew I’d feel better if I went. And I knew I’d feel disappointed if I didn’t. And I couldn’t procrastinate.

So before the coffee had even hit my system, I was chasing other women as fast as I could around an indoor track.

The Workout: We did a warm up, drills, 400 meters, 800 meters, 800 meters, 400 meters.

Improvements: I’m in the second group (the slow group) but we’re picking up the pace from week to week. This week I ran the repeats in 1:49, 4:10, 3:57 and 1:48. I know we’ve done some 400s over 2 minutes last week.

Pacing: I need to work on exerting a steady effort throughout my repeats. I finished the first two repeats in the middle and toward the back of the pack, but sprinted towards the front towards the end of the last lap on the first 800 meter repeat. I felt kind of rude passing people on the last straight stretch; it shows how poor my pacing is, and while it’s nice to finish strong, it’s a little ridiculous also. I sincerely hope the other women understood I was just trying to salvage getting something out of the repeat I botched in the middle.

After finishing faster than I started on the 3rd repeat, I tried harder to exert a faster effort from the beginning for the last two repeats. I pushed harder and managed to stay in the front both times for the entire duration of the repeat. I feel like that meant I was going a more steady pace than if I’d been in the back and then passed everyone on lap 3, which is the only reason I focus on placement – it can be a good gauge of how steady you’re going.

Saving it for the end: I think I’m subconsciously afraid of crashing on these repeats. I’ve noticed that not only am I faster towards the end of repeats, I also tend to be towards the front of the pack on the later repeats in the workout, never in the beginning repeats. Not once in any of the 4 weeks have I been towards the front on repeat #1 or #2. I’m always towards the front on the last repeats. What does that say? Says that someone’s saving the energy for later… and then when it’s finally clear that we’re almost done, I’m like “oops! here it is!”

That said, my 400 meter times were only 1 second apart this week, which seems consistent. The first 800 meter was definitely slow at 4:10 vs. 3:57.

Wait… am I arguing about seconds, here?

What’s happened to me?

DO I SOUND LIKE A RUNNER?!?!

Anyway – I think the feeling  I had between the repeats is more important, and I definitely had an inconsistent feel with the effort I put forward on that first 800 meter repeat, and a slower time, and I’m excited that I did the next 800 at a more consistent feel and with a better time.

Next week is February break and there’s no track clinic… we’re supposed to do 4 x 400 on our own. Our coach said that missing a week can set you back two weeks because of the way repeats build on each other, and that 4 x 400 is always a great workout to do on your own because it’s manageable and enough not to lose ground.

I might just be loss averse enough to do it.

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Tri Training Begins: Bike Run Trial

Triathlon training has begun!

Swim: I joined a gym with a pool. I signed up for some 1/2 hour lessons with a swim instructor who came highly recommended by a friend. (She has experience teaching children, so she’s patient and can start from the very beginning, but has also coached adults for triathlons, making her a perfect fit!)

Bike: I went to the gym to scope everything out and sign paperwork prior to my first lesson on Wednesday (eep!) and did a bike/run trial. I thought it’d be fun to get a baseline estimate for how long it’d take and how it’d feel to do 15 miles on the bike and then a 3 mile run. It’ll also be neat to gauge my current fitness level is so I can see growth between here and July.

It took me about 40 minutes to bike 15 miles, but then my legs and body were tired from the cycling and it took me much longer than usual (35 minutes) to run 3 miles on the treadmill afterwards. Part of it was the feeling of switching leg muscles, but I think more of it was that the entire time on the stationary bike I kept thinking of the 15 mile marker as being “the end” and I rode all out trying to accurately gauge how fast I could cycle 15 miles. That didn’t leave much left for the run.

I’ll have to learn to pace at least a little bit for the race so I am able to enjoy the run portion rather than crashing.

Accuracy of stationary bikes: I’ve been going to spin class once or twice a week recently, and sometimes the stationary bikes say I completed 13 miles, sometimes they say 7, once I hit 18, all in a 50 minute spin class where I’m exerting enough effort to break a healthy sweat. I am sure there’s some variance between days depending on how good I feel, but I doubt that I only hit the 7 mile mark in 50 minutes of biking on a day I had sweat dripping down my arms.

Indoor bikes aren’t going to be completely reliable. They’re not going to be calibrated perfectly, there’s going to be variance, and there’s a huge difference between biking on a stationary bike when you can easily adjust the gears to fit your cadence vs. biking outside where you don’t control the hills, and need to knowledgeably switch gears to maximize your biking performance.

I need to do some outdoor biking: I won’t really know how long it takes me to bike 15 miles until I do it outside. It’s going to depend on the terrain, the weather, the bike, my comfort level with switching gears, and so many other variables. Looking outside right now, all I can see is a blanket of white, because we’re in the middle of the snowstorm… so all that is going to have to wait! In the meantime, doing some indoor cycling will develop those muscles so I’m ready to hit the great outdoors come spring.

Wait… what about that half marathon in May? While I’m incredibly excited about this triathlon, I have a half marathon in May that I need to prepare for first! It never hurts to be in great half marathon shape, and when it’s over in the middle of May, I’ll still have 2 months to step up my biking and swimming for July. So while swim lessons once a week are fantastic, and I don’t want to lose my cycling muscles, I don’t need to be spending 5 days a week on the stationary bike in February at the cost of my long runs.

I’ll try to keep running a focus for now, while still doing a little base building in the swimming and cycling categories. I don’t want to peak early, I don’t want to burn out schedule-wise, and I want this to be fun and manageable.

I don’t ask for much, do I.

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Super Bowl Sunday Recipe Round-Up

Looking for some Superbowl Sunday recipes that you can snack on without feeling sick afterwards? Check out this delicious round-up of tried and true snack recipes from my favorite food bloggers. They’ll cover your cravings whether you’re looking for spicy, salty, creamy or crunchy… all without the cholesterol or heavy greasy feeling after you eat them. I call that a win!

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Don’t forget a make your own noodle bowl or taco option!
  1. Roasted Sriracha Cauliflower Bites with Peanut Dipping Sauce from Thug Kitchen. These are shockingly delicious, taste nothing like cauliflower, and will satisfy your buffalo sauce craving. Warning – Thug Kitchen’s signature style is excessive profanity laced throughout its recipes. I think peanut and sriracha is cool enough without it, but maybe don’t pull up the website in front of your impressionable 10 year old
  2. Easy Vegan Queso from Healthy Happy Life. No Game Day recipe round-up would be complete without a cashew based nutritional yeast cheese sauce. You have to try it to believe it, but the creaminess from the cashews pairs perfectly with the savory taste of nutritional yeast and the bright flavors of green chiles and cilantro. While I usually reserve nutritional yeast for my more plant-based friends, you might be surprised by just how delicious and crowd friendly this is!
  3. Pulled Portobello BBQ Sliders from One Ingredient Chef. BBQ sauce. Portobello mushrooms. Sliders. Does this even need a caption?
  4. Pico de Gallo and 7 Layer Bean Dip from Oh She Glows. Because… 7 layer bean dip. It’s a must. With a beautiful balance of creamy and fresh, this is one dip where you won’t regret eating half the bowl.
  5. Softly Spiced Nuts from plant-powered kitchen. Roasted nuts are easy to make in advance, taste so much better than store bought, and fill your house with the most amazing scent. What better way to welcome guests to a Super Bowl party than the warm and welcoming smell of toasted walnuts, cashews and pecans mingled with cardamom and nutmeg… oh and chili powder. Comfort incarnate.

Enjoy the game… or the commercials… or playing cards / reading your kindle and boycotting the whole thing :)

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Green Light Banana Chia Bread Recipe 

I love quick breads. Cranberry orange loaves, zucchini bread, and ohhh… that pumpkin bread that my great-grandmother up in Camden used to make… it tasted like cake. So delicious.

But… there’s a lot of sugar, fat and refined flour in many of these recipes. After reading Dr. Greger’s amazing new release, How Not to DieI wanted to come up with a recipe for quick bread that I’d feel better about eating. One where the fat came from seeds, and the sweetness came from fruit, and the flour still boasted a high fiber content.

I’m not saying I won’t continue to eat light and fluffy cranberry orange loaves in the future even though nutritionally they’re dessert. I just want to move those breads into the “occasional” category, and make my every-day choices better.

What if I could make a healthier quick bread that’d still taste great, and be a “green light” breakfast for me, and snack for the kids? (Dr. Greger uses a traffic light system for foods, with unprocessed plant foods being the green light category.)

That’d be worth doing. So I did. Three loaves of banana bread later, here’s my recipe!

GREEN LIGHT BANANA BREAD

With no oils or refined sugars, this banana bread gets all its sweetness from medjool dates, molasses, applesauce, and (of course) bananas. Flax seeds contribute healthy fat and lignans, which are a powerful antioxidant. It’s packed with fiber from the chia seeds and whole wheat flour, and tastes especially delicious smeared with peanut butter (and MAYBE dotted with chocolate chips…). Preschooler approved.

INGREDIENTS

  • Ground flax seed, 4 tablespoons
  • Unsweetened soy milk, ½ cup
  • Whole wheat flour, 1 ½ cups
  • Baking powder, 1 tablespoon
  • Baking soda, 1 teaspoon
  • Bananas, 3 medium sized ripe
  • Medjool dates, pitted, ½ cup (about 6 fruits)
  • Unsweetened applesauce, 1/2 cup
  • Blackstrap Molasses, 1 tablespoon
  • Chia seeds, 1/3 cup

OPTIONAL

  • Peanut Butter for Serving
  • Cacao nibs for serving

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the ground flax seeds and soy milk together with a fork and set aside. In a mixing bowl, stir together the whole wheat flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Using a blender, puree the bananas, medjool dates, applesauce, and molasses until smooth. Gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until thoroughly moistened. Fold in the chia seeds.

Transfer batter to a parchment lined or lightly greased bread pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes until bread is nicely browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Serve plain, or top with peanut butter and/or cacao nibs for a high energy snacking!

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