Sunday, May 31, 2009

Stronger than coffee

There are a few things that I turn to for that extra bit of motivation, or "fuel for the fire." Usually it is something simple like a pretty new run top, a post-workout treat, or just thinking about the upcoming races. 

Today I didn't expect to wake up with a heaping truck-load of fuel being thrown into the fire. This morning was the second World Championship Series race in Madrid and looking through the results gave me some serious goosebumps, followed by a crazy urge to get my butt out the door, even before the coffee had brewed. The only problem is today is a rest day, with only a short swim and run. Last night I was looking forward to this low-key day, making many exciting plans for laundry, icing, and even a thrilling trip to Costco. However, I am one second away from scrapping all of these rest day events and calling up Coach Phil for a change of schedule. Adam is not here to stop me...he is out running with Simon, who is probably smashing the hills, using the fuel from the men's race.

In the future, we need to ask Phil to schedule our "key" sessions immediately following WCS events that we are missing.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Hail to the Kale

I need to share another recipe. Although this time I cannot take any credit as it is from the Planet Organic website and a regular in their in-store deli. 

Adam loves kale and I do not, but I am always on the look-out for recipes that make this bitter green palatable. We both enjoy this in their deli on a regular basis and I didn't realize until recently that the exact recipe was shared in their cookbook (which I happened to own... thanks, Kirsten :)

So, if you do (or think you don't) like kale, I urge you to try this one: Hail to the Kale Salad. It's good after it marinates in the fridge for a couple of hours, but even better the next day. I was actually looking forward to the leftovers today and after we scraped the bowl clean, I am already planning to make it again.*

*Rinny, if you are reading this, do not be angry with me. I do not eat only bitter greens for dinner nor do I recommend you try this recipe (if you thought quinoa was bad....) I promise that Sundrops, donuts and M&M's are still a staple of my diet....

**This salad can be made 'baconic' with the addition of copious amounts of filthy, greasy bacon. For more complete carnivorous recipes, please contact Chef Jordan Rapp.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I've recently become an athlete ambassador for the Act Now BC campaign. My role as an ambassador will be to visit various schools and sporting/non-sporting events over the next two years, sharing my experiences as an athlete, as well as promoting active, healthy living. One of the main goals of the program is to make British Columbia one of the healthiest regions ever to host an Olympic Games. So, it's definitely a pretty cool thing to be a part of.  And, if you know me, I can never get tired of talking about healthy, tasty foods and cooking adventures. .... but high school kids will be texting and/or falling asleep as soon as they hear me get all fired up over quinoa or tofu pie. I will have to tone it down a little, I think.

Last week was training for the program and we were told to bring our Act Now polo shirts and jackets for a couple of headshots. What I didn't realize was that a professional photographer was coming along with about 6 make-up artists!! I often severely exaggerate, but I am not lying, there were at least six make-up artists for about 10 athletes. They were from one of the beauty schools in town so their supervisor was also there, critiquing the make-up as it was applied. I was not ready for this! My skin was gross from chlorine and my hair still wet from the pool! I often get a little uncomfortable when people are close to my face, so feeling this crusty made me especially antzy. And, the best part was that we were leaving immediately afterwards for bike hill repeats up Observatory. This was the day of the bee sting on the face so I looked like some crazy person out there, I'm sure, with make-up dripping off my sweaty face and a big red lump above my eye. Nice. 

Here is Kyle getting all made-up (now he was REALLY uncomfortable with this pre-training glamour ;)

And my model shot... oh dear, I can't believe I just posted this. If you know me, this is NOT the sort of picture I regularly pose for....

I did my first school visit today and was paired up with Ryan Cochrane (bronze medalist in Beijing, 1500m freestyle....aka fast FAST swimmer). We were a good team and had fun up there. I was a little (ok, very) nervous to talk to high schoolers as I remembered what I was like in high school...... oh dear... But, they were wonderful, welcoming and FUN students. Ryan and I compared our race suits (mine is actually BIGGER than his) and were asked some pretty funny questions ("Have you met Michael Phelps." Ryan responded with a calm, "yes" and my answer was a little more dramatic, "I WISH!!!!!!" Sorry, Adam, but he's somewhere around Andy Roddick on my list of must-meet cute athletes :)

Training has been going well since the sickness has passed. I will write more of an update soon!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Victoria this morning

Warning: these may be hard on the eyes ;-)

Antique shopping (I resisted.....)

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Recipe!

I think I should have just posted this last night.... I didn't realize so many people would be interested in a tofu pie!

Here is the recipe:

ginger snap cookies or prepared pie crust (I used Mi-Del gluten-free mini ginger-snaps)
"firm" tofu, 1/2 of a 13-oz block, drained
1 can (15 0z) pure organic pumpkin (or squash, sweet potato, etc)
1 tbsp blackstrap molasses
3/4 cup organic sugar (or sweetener of your choice - I used coconut sugar)
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cloves or cardamom
1 tsp pure vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
~1/4 - 1/2 cup almond, rice of soy milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place gingersnaps across the bottom of a pie pan. Don't worry about gaps or broken cookies, they won't be a "real" crust anyway :)
Puree the tofu with the almond milk in a food processor or blender, until all chunks are gone. Toss in the rest of the ingredients and puree until well mixed. If the consistency looks too thick at this point, add in another splash of almond milk. Pour slowly over ginger snap cookies, careful to keep them on the bottom. Bake for about an hour, until top is nice and golden and center is somewhat set (it will harden as it cools!). 
Serve cold or room temp on its own, with yogurt or with some organic vanilla ice cream... or tofulatti ;)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Butternut Pie

Tonight I figured it was time to revisit the butternut squash. I was thinking about the blog I wrote in the Fall, entitled 'The Butternut' and realized that after raving about this yummy vegetable, I haven't cooked one since!! I don't have quite as much time on my hands these days so prepping, chopping and roasting the squash wasn't in the cards tonight. Instead, I opted for the pure organic canned squash which worked out perfectly for what I was baking.... drumroll, please.... Dad, stop reading now because this is HEALTHY and may gross you out....
.....a butternut squash pie!

Basically it is a pumpkin pie but with squash and a couple interesting substitutions that make it vegan (which I am definitely not, but vegan treats are often tasty). Anyway, how I got to making this pie is a story in itself...

The day started at 6am.... Feeling great again when I woke up, I ate breakfast (YES, food is definitely back), and immediately started to think about what I would cook for dinner that night. I will be the first to admit that this is not a normal thought for someone just rolling out of bed, and only Adam is lucky enough to witness these sporadic cases of extreme randomness. Anyway, as I sat sipping my coffee, I planned to make slow cooked pork tacos and wrote the grocery list. I went off to swimming, swam the usual 5km, returned home and started to catch up on emails. Before I knew it, it was time to head out for the ride. 3.5 hours was on the program today with some higher cadence work in the second half. I joined Simon for the first 2.5 hours which had a mix of everything: flats, hills (including "Triangle Mountain" which Simon promised would be "easy" comment...), good conversation, as well as two flat tires and a bee sting to the face for Simon (what's with all the bees this year?!). I rode my last hour along the waterfront, meeting up with Adam in Broadmead after his appointment. I realize this story is dragging on so I will sum it up.... I wasn't exactly in the mood to grocery shop for my pulled pork tacos at this point, so I broke my promise and we picked up some sushi take-out. Somehow after devouring the sushi in the car (still in my bike gear), I decided I wanted to bake this pie. So, we stopped by the market to pick up the ingredients. I clipped-clopped my way through the aisles in my bike shoes and stinky gear trying to remember the ingredients (if we're counting 'chamois time,' this turned into a pretty long ride!)

After a quick stop for icing in the ocean, it was time to bake! The crust is simply gluten-free ginger snap cookies spread across the bottom of the pan. The filling is super easy to prepare, with all ingredients pureed in a blender: cooked squash, tofu, pumpkin pie spice, pure vanilla, molasses and coconut sugar. If anyone would like the recipe, please let me know :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How I got my appetite back

I realize I may have jumped the gun by saying I was feeling better in my last post. Things got a wee bit worse before they got better.... hence the lack of blogging this past week. This is definitely the least amount of time I have spent on my computer in a long time and I wish I could say it was because I was on holiday in some wireless-free tropical destination, or that I was simply too smashed from training to write, but sadly neither are true. 

Here's how it went down after Friday of last week:

I took that day off from training and thought I was feeling better. But, it was likely the freedom to do nothing but rest that took my mind off things, and by that evening the fatigue was back. I put in call in to our wonderful doctor, Steve Keeler to get a medical opinion. It turned out that the intense sinus pain I had the week earlier was actually a sinus infection (sinusitis) and although the pain had subsided, the infection was still there (hence the fatigue, constant headache, pressure behind the cheeks....all the symptoms I wished would just go away....) and the infection needed to be treated asap before it became chronic. So, I was off to the pharmacy to pick up my 10-day dose of antibiotics. Training resumed over the weekend but I still wasn't feeling quite right. My stomach had been acting up the week before and it was starting to get worse. Then there was some nausea, so extreme at times that I was unable to eat (yes, normally I am known as somewhat of a drama queen, but I am NOT exaggerating here. Things were BAD). By Monday the sinus stuff had started to clear up but the nausea and tummy issues were getting worse! I put another call in to Dr. Steve and he prescribed Gravol to help get me through the night and hopefully be able to eat a little dinner. I was instructed to take two tablets before bedtime but warned I might wake up a little drowsy. No big deal. When the alarm went off the next morning I thought it had to be a joke. But, no, it was light outside and I heard the coffee brewing. Oh dear. I laid there for a good 30 minutes before Adam had to almost drag me out. I had to pry open my eyes and hold them open. This was worse than any jetlag I have ever experienced. Again, NOT joking. I actually didn't feel safe to drive to the pool, but that was ridiculous, right?! Dr. Keeler happened to be at the pool that morning and I think he almost started laughing when he looked at me. To make this long story short, I took DOUBLE the adult dosage of Gravol. The pills I picked up were extra-strength. Oh dear!!! Somehow I made it through the swim and the mid-day 3-hour "nap" got me through the rest of the day.  

Now here is the good news: I am actually feeling better.....honestly... I woke up feeling like myself this morning. No tummy troubles, no nausea, no sinus issues. I LOVED training today, every minute of it (apart from the bee stinging me in the face while on the bike...). I didn't feel stellar, but I felt healthy and that's all I can ask for now. With all the crap I've been dealing with, I have still gotten through some pretty hefty training with 33km swim weeks and plenty of intensity on the bike and run. Oddly, I still feel that things are going well, but being able to stomach food and go at least one day without a 3 hour nap will be quite a treat!

Adam was quick to pick-up on the true sign that I was feeling better: the cookbooks were out tonight! YES, my energy was back and there would be NO more take-out! Dinner wasn't anything extravagant but I gobbled it up....and then some. The appetite is BACK too!

Walking the beach with our favourite duck-tolling retriever, Tinker.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I would be lying if I said I were feeling fabulous these days. I've actually been working through a bit of a rough patch since returning from Asia. Training has been OK, nothing extraordinary, but consistent and getting the work done. Motivation has wavered a bit, but for the most part, I have looked forward to the sessions. What I have really struggled with is fatigue. I'm not talking about "my-legs-are-burning-and-I-can't-fathom-running-one-step" fatigue, but more of a "did-I-really-just-sleep-10-hours-and-I-still-feel-like-this?" kind of tired. I returned from yesterday's ride and had to lay down for a couple of hours. This was already after a solid 2 hour post-swim nap. My muscles were feeling fine, so what on earth was going on?! 

I had a meeting with coach Phil last night and we looked through the past couple of weeks, looking for a trend. Even though I had a good block of recovery that first week back, I started training feeling as though I had just stepped off the plane. As the training picked up, so did the fatigue. But, when I was out on the bike, running or in the pool, I was still putting out good sessions so there weren't any alarm bells going off. I was sleeping as much as I could in between sessions, but still not feeling quite right. We did lactate and VO2 testing on the bike and run this week, getting the HR up to max. The bike test went well and we got a lot of useful data, but the run was not so smooth. My HR was up high during the warm-up jog and all I wanted to do was step-off and sleep! Not exactly good timing for a nap..... I got through the test but I don't think my top speed and HR are truly indicative of my fitness right now. We were on the bike the following day for some sprints, 1-minuters and TT efforts. The sleepy feeling was there but I was still putting out some good numbers, so still not seeing any real reason to take a rest. Yesterday was a best average set in the pool. I didn't feel too sparky and felt quite a high HR, but still swam well. 2 hour nap after swimming, followed by some serious pep-talking to get me out the door for the ride. I got through it but was ready for bed, feeling achy and nauseous at 4pm. This prompted the chat with Philippe...

To sum this up, I don't think I gave the travel-racing-sickness combo the respect (i.e. recovery) it deserved. I am taking today as a full-day off and I can already say that I feel better. Sometimes just removing the "stress" of having to train can make a world of difference. I don't like forced days-off, but I was beginning to see the beginnings of a downwards spiral so I know this was the right thing to do. I even had a small inkling to go for a jog this morning...that's a good sign....but I resisted!! Tomorrow it's on!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

It was hard not to be home in Vancouver with my mom this weekend. My grandma passed away on Thursday evening so for the first time ever, my mom was without a mom this Mother's Day. Thankfully she was surrounded by family, but it was especially tough not to be with her this holiday. 

On a happier note, Adam was able to spend Mother's Day with his mom, Wendy. We planned a menu for a special breakfast...which turned into brunch....and then more of a lunch by the time training was done and the food prepared. We planned a menu yesterday and did the grocery shopping last night. Adam was busy in the kitchen this morning, preparing the fruit salad and prepping the rest of the ingredients. He even potted a strawberry plant for his mom! (so sweet :) For the lunch we cooked up some scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, dill and goats cheese, along with sweet potato hash browns. Yum! It turns out that Adam is quite the chef, but judging by the look on his face above,  I have a feeling he doesn't enjoy the kitchen quite as much as I do....

What's that, you ask? Oh, it's just my poodle watering can!

Watering the strawberries!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Jet Lag & Speedy running

Even though I probably say this after every overseas trip, I honestly don't remember jet lag ever being this bad. I didn't sleep great the night after the race, and then the next night wasn't too much either with the early departure in the morning. The following night was spent on the airplane and then I was thrown into this time zone, hoping to adapt smoothly. My first night here I was certain I would sleep through. How could I not, I was so tired?! When I woke up, I felt alert, rested and ready to go... the only problem was that it was still dark out. No big deal, I'm sure the sun was just about to rise. Looked at the watch: 2:30am. Oh dear. I did sneak in another hour around 6am so it was almost a full nights sleep.... 
I got through the day with only a 1 hour nap and a massage (sorry I wasn't so chatty, Kim :) and by the time night rolled around, I was desperate to close the eyes. This time I woke up to daylight. YES!! The only problem was that it was 11am! Over 13 hours of sleep. Wow. I don't think I have ever done that before. I am actually a little embarrassed to admit this act of extreme laziness. Here I am now, almost noon, in my pj's and drinking coffee. 
I guess the sickness, race and travel has caught up with me... 

Hopefully without embarrassing Adam too much, I want to mention something really exciting (and because I am so darn PROUD :) Adam finished 2nd at the Vancouver Marathon this past Sunday. He was the top Canadian, finishing in 2:33. Now I know he wanted to run a little quicker, but his performance was amazing, all things considered. He just finished up 1st year law in New Brunswick, and with ten million feet of snow, freezing temperatures, and crazy hours of studying, he was able to bust out this effort. So proud! 


Only Adam can make this race look like a Sunday stroll!

With Mom. Wish I could have been there :(

Men's and women's winners.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


This will be a short blog tonight as I am struggling to keep my eyes open!

I finished 10th today and honestly, I am thrilled with this result. I didn't exactly have an ideal pre-race week with the yucky cold, and just yesterday, I was sitting in the hospital with high performance director, Kurt, both of us wondering if I was even going to be able to race. I developed a painful, deep cough mid-week that had us a little worried. A chest x-ray ruled out pneumonia, but showed bronchitis, which is unpleasant but not life-threatening, so I was cleared to race. I was just told my breathing might not feel the best. No big deal, racing never feels good anyway!

My swim wasn't anything too spectacular but I was happy to come out alive and breathing (it was ROUGH out there today!). I found myself in a small group, about 30 seconds down from the large lead pack. We caught them by the 2nd lap and the pace was quite relaxed for the remainder of the 40km. I wasn't feeling too bad at this stage and decided to get myself in the mix for the run. I had a good T2, starting out with the lead women. I couldn't match their speed for too long, but settled into a good rhythm with a group of five. We battled it out together to the very end, with a sprint finish for 8th through 12th place. I forced my legs to turn over as fast as they could (I'm not normally known as a "sprinter" :) and finished up in 10th place. I am thrilled to start the Series with this result and my 10th place ranking will be a wonderful help with swim start positions in the later races. What a GREAT day for Canada, with all of us finishing in the top-10!

A big THANKS to our incredible support crew this week: coach Phillipe, Kurt Innes, and Rob "I want a running rematch" Hasegawa. 

I think now I am going to buy some cookies and curl up in bed. Tomorrow is the men's race and I am already getting goosebumps!