Friday, February 27, 2015

Why Swim Masters?

It makes you faster!  No question.

I am a swimmer, I coach swimming, I have 1000 workouts, I know how to use a pace clock and push myself but I don't believe anyone can work as hard alone as they would in a (good) masters program.  A bad masters program does not make sense - you are better doing solid swims on your own or better yet with a buddy.

What makes a good program?

1- the coach
2- solid workouts - without a lot of rest, unless you are going all out, minimal other strokes (this goes back to the coach)
3- the coach
4- support- it is amazing how the " keep at it"  "hang on"  "one more" makes a world of difference when you are absolutely dying.   Again I cannot ever get to the "i want to die" when swimming on my own. But with people ahead of me, behind me and a coach on the deck- you can get there

Do you need to swim masters year round?  no..... but ANYONE doing an ironman I strongly suggest committing to a masters program minimum 3 months prior to your race, if there is one near your home or office.  Yes it may mean waking up at 4:45 but with all your other sacrifices-it is worth it.  I hear "it's too expensive?"  Most programs are $40-75 a month-  Come on for 3 months? considering all the other $$ you are spending- invest in your swim.

It's intimidating- again if you find a good program, introduce yourself on the 1st day and engage with the coach and see.  Most programs allow 1 week free or a few free workouts - test it out and see.  

Swimming can be fun.  I love my lane mates and we have a camaraderie.  We encourage each other and it makes swimming "fun"  I may be a swimmer but I really don't like it.  But since joining the Y and going regularly I do like it.

If you don't live near a program, cannot fit one in with your work schedule than make sure you are doing workouts using a pace clock, going on intervals and understand your progress.  Just like you know your run fitness based on your garmin, you should know your swim fitness based on your times.    Or create a group to swim with- have 1 or 2 others that are similar pace can created a similar camaraderie.  GET WET!

Hux's Friday Fun inspired this blog... a killer workout that left me depleted, hungry, tired and sore.. 4700 with lots of all out efforts, base efforts and fun in the pool!


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Workout anxiety

It can happen to happened to me this week!  As I continue to work on my run,  I have some really specific run workouts that are fucking scary  a bit daunting.    I review my week on Sunday so I can plan, prep, and schedule around workouts and try not to freak out .

Last week my mid week run was: 8Miles:   2m warm up, then 6x50m drills, then 4x50m strides at around goal pace for the interval set. 4x1 mile at 10k pace - . 1 minute active rest - walk, jog, shuffle, etc. Even split every 400, every 800, etc. 1.5m cool down.  It was the first time doing this and it was hard, # 3 was hard and # 4 was a death march but I nailed all 4!  Go me!  

So imagine my fear and dread  excitementwhen this week I see my mid week run: 9.5 miles 2m warm up, then 6x50m drills, then 4x50m strides at around goal pace for the interval set. 5x1 mile at 10k pace -  1 minute active rest - walk, jog, shuffle, etc. Even split every 400, every 800, etc. 1.5m cool down. HOLY SHIT was my thought.  I barely survived 4, I had a solid training weekend, it is on Wednesday this week ( 1 day earlier), my legs are STILL sore from Sunday.  HOW will this happen.  

tried to focus on racing
and how the training will
pay off
I emailed coach last night... " fyi I am freaking out about this run tomorrow"   His reply " Well. Look at the workout as an opportunity to challenge yourself and just enjoy the process, not the result. Always focus on the process. "  Not sure what to think about that... no where is enjoy in this workout.  

I woke up twice last night worried about the run....really Julie- it is a workout!  

So- I  fueled well with my overnight oats, monster coffee with almond milk. Walked the dogs (this was not a dog friendly workout)  and headed out the door

Focus on the positive

1- it is sunny and nice out - blessed to be in a beautiful climate where I am running in shorts and have to remember to put on sunscreen.  54 degrees felt chilly but I dare not complain
2- by mile 2 I am running along the ocean- I am blessed!
3- it's only 5 fuck 5 miles is a lot of pain and torture
4- take them 1 mile at time
5- really good playlist was helpful - ACDC is GOOD 
6- focus on objects ahead and run to them - pretend they are people I am running down in a race
7- after 3rd repeat eat BonkBreaker chews with caffeine and pray they have magical powers to stay on pace
8: 1-4 were at target pace or lower- 2 of them were 5 sec per mile faster than goal.  :) 
Please have magic powers
to make me run faster
9: #5 started great and then at the .5 mile mark I am dying and the tiny hill for .25 of a mile may as well have been Mt Palomar- my cadence tanked, my HR jacked and I thought I might die, than I had .25 and was hoofing it max effort to make up the lost time.  Focused on cadence, form, pulling back my feet.  Hit the lap button in I was 8sec slow on that mile.  
10: initial reacting is  YOU SUCK  but that was a bit dramatic so I thought "I could have gone harder" ..than I decided to be happy that I nailed 4 of them and was close on #5  

Running home I was back in positive.... I am blessed to live in Encinitas, blessed to have a flexible work schedule, blessed to have such a supportive husband and arrived home blessed to have Roo chew up EVERYTHING in the recycling bin and scatter around the house.  Her response to being left behind and creative cool down involving bending down and picking up stuff. 

Next guessed 6 repeats.   Rock on! 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Chia Peanut Butter Overnight Oats SCORE!

after 2 failed attempts as Overnight Oats I scored.. the 1st 2 were mushy or pasty or just yuck!

This was the bomb!   Seriously I need help with the "foodie" photos for my blog... Leslie help me!  but anyway- this is what mind looked like (like the banana in the background for effect) 

1/4 cup organic  uncooked old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup unsweetned almond milk
1/3 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
3T  dried chia seeds
1 tablespoon peanut butter - used Earth Balance
1 teaspoon honey ( I used agave) 
1/4 cup diced ripe banana, or enough to fill jar (approx. half of a small banana) 


In a half pint (1 cup) jar, add oats, milk, yogurt, chia seeds, peanut butter  and honey. Put lid on jar and shake until well combined. Remove lid, add bananas and stir until mixed throughout. Return lid to jar and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days. Eat chilled.  OUT of the jar and yummy!!!!! 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fun in the kitchen

With a celiac husband most of my baking is all gluten free so we can "share" the goods!  While I am not generally a quick bread fan but this recipe caught my attention. And is is GOOD!

I made this last night and had a giant slice nibble before bed. I put it in a Pyrex still warm and was excited to have for breakfast.  Moist and almost warm I slathered with Cashew Butter. This was my pre reallly fricking hard  run breakfast, along with a jumbo mug of coffee with almond milk. At the 1 hour mark of my run I dropped off the dogs, drank 15 oz of water + Nuun and grabbed another chunk of bread.  turns out this was ideal run fuel!!!  


1 1/4 cups gluten free flour  - trader joes GF flour is the least expensive and works great 
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon ginger - used fresh grated 
1 cup sweet potato puree - I used a baked sweet potato
1.5 tbsp flax meal
1/4 cup warm water
¼ cup dairy free milk  - almond 
1 ripe banana
1/4 cup coconut sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease and flour loaf pan.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and combine.
Combine the wet ingredients in a small bowl and mix well together.
Slowly stir wet into dry and pour into prepared loaf pan.
Bake 40-50 minutes. Done when knife comes out clean.
Serve as is or top with your favorites. I chose a dark Agave syrup. Yum!

My other experiments have been in the vegan cheese department... Am I vegan ? No, but I am leaning more that way especially at home.  I buy organic chicken for the dogs (another blog post on "picky Vizsla's"  but no animals for John and me.  

My first try was Vegan Parmesan Cheese and I LOVE IT!!
So easy- put all ingredients in food processor and pulse. I put in salads, on veggies etc. Good stuff!  

I was looking for a cheesy sauce and came across this. 

Vegan Cauliflower Cream Sauce
2 heads cauliflower, cut into small florets
3 small shallots, cut into wedges
6 garlic cloves 
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste 
1. Preheat oven to 375˚F.
2. Place cauliflower, shallots, garlic, and coconut oil onto baking pan and toss with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30 to 40 minutes or until florets are fork tender, stirring occasionally.
3. Pour mixture and remaining ingredients into a Vitamix and blend on soup mode
It was a little bland and runny so I added cornstarch 1t and smoked paprika ( my NEW favorite spice)  I also added some turmeric so it looks really cheesy.  
This was actually better the 2nd day and 3rd.... I put on veggies and its quite savory. 
As my friend Leslie says... be mindful not vigilant.  So today when I had lunch with my brother at Fish 101- I had the grilled fish bowl.  But tonight for dinner...
steamed spinach + baby kale, sauteed in shallots and garlic topped with creamy "cheese" sauce.  And another gigantic slice of bread.   While I claim this bread is to share..I have a feeling after my ride + hill repeats tomorrow it may be gone as in single serving to me!  

Friday, February 20, 2015

It takes patient!

SD 1/2- maybe I complained but it was fun
carpooling and hanging with my GrooveTri
December was swim month for the NCC Challenge.  I swam over 100,000 yards- there were good days and bad days but all in all it was great.... come mid January I was looking for the results, mind you that was 2 weeks later.  I was expecting to be swimming strong and fast, leading the lane..where as I was struggling, swimming slower at times than I had the previous month when I was swimming 25k a week.

The reality is that it takes time for the work to take affect.... patience!  I lack patience as do most of the athletes I coach.  We work hard and want to see the results the next week- it just does not happen that way.

A few weekend's ago I had really rough San Dieguito 1/2 Marathon.  It's not just that my time was 5 minutes slower than the last time I ran it was more about how hard the effort felt, where I placed and the feeling of being slow in general.  The plan was hold back 1st 5 miles, pick it up for 5  and then all out.  But mile 6-10 was hard, harder than my heart rate showed and the all out was just not there. RPE (rate perceived effort) was HIGH and results LOW.  In any case... it happens.

I showed up the next day to Monday AM masters (hobbling) my calves were wrecked after running in Newtons (another dumb ass brilliant idea I had to run faster).  more on that later.... I was tired and sore and hopped in and warmed up feeling slow.  The set began and I came in about 5 sec/100 faster than I felt.  One of those double takes - really?  So I thought less and just swam.  I had the best workout I had had in months.   Took the sting of a sub par run and I was feeling pretty good.

Wednesday I rolled into Masters without any expectations and had the same success.  I ended up leading the lane (which has NEVER happened unless I cheat  wear paddles) and felt great. Thursday was similar and I swam Friday again to make it a 20k+ week and was swimming better than I have, ever....well since college anyway.

I was still wary this week and Monday was rough, tired from a long weekend of training. While it was a struggle the faster times were there... Today was my best swim to date and it was  a killer.  I was tapped out, HR maxed and arms were screaming after 4750 and over 3000 yard main set. they are still sore tonight- feels good

Enough about that - the point is that that is a GREAT reminder to keep working, adding miles, efforts and time and the results will come.  

On other training notes- it definitely is IN season vs OFF season.  Logging miles, hours, yards and efforts.  It feels good to feel that familiar fatigue and eagerness for a rest day as well as for the next hard workout.   Coach has me on my toes, every week is different and just when I am used to hill repeats I see 4x1 mile repeat at a scary pace.  After the San Dieguito hissy fit  disappointment he decided to make run training the priority for the next month.  What that looks like is putting my long ride (70.3 training long) mid week ( yes I can do this. But before you get all "your so lucky on me"  remember I work most Sundays for 5-7 hours pretty regularly so sneaking  in a 3.5 hour ride on a Tuesday is okay.  Saturday is long run with some quality intervals - last week was 3x20 min, this week 3x 25 and next 3x30.  Solid run indeed. Sunday is a 2 hour ride with some tough intervals - 70.3 effrort based followed by run hill repeats.  

Definitely a step away from long ride Saturday wtih a brick and run Sunday.   But at 48- gulp turning 49 this year, we need to try something different!  It's all in Mike's hands.  Turing over your training to a coach takes confidence and far so good.  He is there to talk me off the panic ledge, check in after a hard workout and explain why the next few weeks are the way they are.   

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Swim "Train" rant

If you swim masters and a "train" is given.... the key is to make a train, swim on each others feet, toes to fingers, the whole lane.  We had 8 in our lane today.  800 train. After 100 the leader hangs on the wall and lets the train go and falls in the back.  The leader sets the pace for 100 and you follow.   If you cannot keep up DONT keep swimming and let a giant gap happen and in essence start your own train with those who are now behind you.

I have done 10+ trains 800-1000 yards and they all worked - until today.   One of our lane mates could not keep up and derailed the train.  We had a solid 500 of swimming and then the train was broken and we were literally floating  in the back.  Sort of like that Doritos bag that clocked a 1:30 at IMChoo with the current. The whole thing was f'd up.

Solution- if you CAN'T keep up, drop off and let the train remain a train.  I'm all for swimming up in a faster lane but NOT at the others expense.

Which leads me to a few reminders or masters etiquette


  • Dive or jump in when someone is swimming toward the wall (seems obvious - but clearly it is not)
  • Use the starting blocks because they seem fun
  • Swim down the middle of a lane EVER
  • Remain stationary in the lane, except at the wall (seems obvious - but clearly it is not)
  • Stand or hold onto the wall in the middle of the lane - go to the side 
  • Push off the wall immediately before or after another swimmer—no tailgating! (unless the set is a train or there are 8+ people and lane agrees to 3 second off) 
  • Do your own thing in a lane that is following a prescribed set or workout.
  • Lead the lane if you can't do the math on the interval or if you don't understand the set
  • Don't high jack the interval to make it your pace
  • Don't add breastwork in a freestyle set 


  • Enter the water feet first. This is mandatory for all Masters swimmers (who knew) 
  • Circle swim, staying always to the right of the lane, only moving toward the center when ready to turn at the wall
  • Scoot to the corner of the lane while standing or holding onto the wall
  • Tap a swimmer's toes in front of you, indicating that you wish to pass at the next turn
  • Let the person behind you go if they are catching you every 100 
  • Allow 5 seconds between swimmers.

I know..... North County problems- if this is all I have to rant about- life is pretty darn sweet!  Yes it is.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Recovery - the right way

Training day after day takes a toll on all of us, especially us "master's" athletes, but proper planning, fueling and recovery is what really can make a difference.

Saturday I rode 4 hours, longest ride for me in a while, at efforts that were not aerobic, I had some solid work in the ride and a short ez run off the bike.  I paid attention to calories and fluid intake on the ride- 22oz/hour and 225-250 calories per hour.  Post ride I had a great veggie smoothie/soup in the vitamix- lots of veggies- carrotts, cauliflower, spinach, ginger, sweet potatoe (carbs) and coconut oil and then a solid dinner that night.

Sunday was a 9.7 mile run, with a flat out 5k in the middle.  I had a heavy carb breakfast- Trader Joes whole wheat cinnamon roll 200 calories- slathered with almond butter and a large coffee with almond milk.  Ran 3.3 to the race start and had 1 Sweet Potato Puree  (my version of a gel). Ran the 5k.  Lots of water and a triple espresso with sugar and ran home.  Made another vitamix/veggie soup while eating chocolate nut butter.  Perfect recovery- carbs, fat and liquid.  

I had a lot of work to do and I jumped in my Recovery Pump boots for 90 minutes and worked and drank Kombucha.  Topped off by a dinner of roasted mushrooms, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and Tofu Shiritaki noodle saute topped with chia, sesame and flax seeds.    I love these noodles.  The key is rinse well and then lay them out on paper towels to absorb some of the liquid.  Mix them in with veggies with coconut oil and perfect!! 

That and 1/2 ( or maybe 3/4)  of a bar of Dark Chocolate.   I snacked throughout the day on Miltons Gluten Free crackers- LOVE them, but this was the gist of my "good eating"

And I have to say I felt great Monday AM!! Nice ez run, solid strength workout and a great swim.

How we fuel our bodies.....really, really makes a difference in performance that day and going forward!!! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

5K a month....

As "we" work on my running one of coach's approaches is run a 5K a month.  I have run maybe 3 5k's ever outright but have done a few off the bike ie: sprint triathlon.  I run open 1/2 Marathons or longer trail races to build strength and get my moneys worth -5k's are expensive.

Why a 5K when I am training for 70.3 and Ironman?  ( as a coach I get this) as an Athlete I did not seem to get this nor could convince myself as to why run 5K's.  5K = 3.1 miles of flat out hard work that is hard to replicate on your own, at least for me.  Once you hit that place of really being uncomfortable just past mile 1, it is the people, the race that keep me pushing hard.
I even get a few of my athletes
to enjoy the "fun" 

I did one in December on the sand at 2pm and it was slow and while "fun" was a bit depressing.  The Rum 5K last month was better but hard to compare as I was on the road.

Sunday we did the Cardiff Kook 5k.  We ran from home with was a nice 3 mile warm up to the race.  I had low expectations due to a semi hard ride on Saturday that rounded out a a solid week of training.  I did not look at pace and just ran.  It was "flat" but not flat as the coast is undulating.   As usual mile 1- love this, why don't I do it more.  mile 2- OMG where did the piano come from, this is longer than an Ironman, i may die. mile 3- they must have moved the finish line...oh wait  I see the finish line I have a kicker run hard, pass people!  That was fun :)  Short, hard and done.  The beauty of a 5k is that it hurts a lot but the pain goes away so fast.

it was a family run!  John ran with the dogs 

While not a PR it was my fastest of the 3 and I held a solid 7:00 pace,which for ME is good,  When it come to sport, we have compare ourselves to ourselves.  I'll never be the fastest runner but if I can work on my run and get my run better than we are seeing success.

Triple espresso, chatting with friends post race was awesome... the 3 mile run home was a lot slower than the warm up BUT was nice shake out and a good way to get in a solid run.

Next weekend:  San Dieguito 1/2 Marathon!  After the epic disaster of the San Diego 1/2, I am looking for a bit of redemption.