March 29, 2011

Stuff I Love: The Vitamix

I rarely write about products and recently realized I should. After all, a big part of our enjoyment of this sport is fueled by the gear, nutrition and gadgets we have come to rely on so much. And right now I'm in the midst of a love affair with a blender and feel like shouting it from the rooftops. So here we have it, my obsession with the Vitamix.

I recently melted my sad, average blender in a frozen banana smoothie attempt. It was literally smoking and fell apart before my eyes. I've gotten rather fond of smoothies (best breakfast ever!) and was in need of a rapid replacement. A little research revealed the market leaders - the Vitamix and Blendtec. After toiling for days over research, I settled on the Vitamix and have to admit was a little anxious over the sticker shock, but the fans of this blender swear by it.

After having it for a week I can attest it is worth every penny. This thing could grind rocks into a smooth, creamy concoction. You just layer it up with whatever fruit and vegetable goodness you desire and turn it on.

Yesterday morning I turned this:

Into this:

One minute is pretty much the max blending time needed for anything and there are no chunks lingering behind. I'm adding spinach to everything as a sneaky way to eat more greens. I'm also adding things like hemp seed, raw nuts or protein for an added nutritional boost. I even made a raw vegetable soup in it. I don't think I've consumed so much fresh produce in my life. The options are pretty much endless.

The only potential con I have identified is the size. It's gargantuan to put it delicately. It's almost the size of my New York City kitchen but I'm making room for it. I'm relying on the Vitamix to get me back on track after falling SO far off the clean diet wagon. Cheers to that!

Today's Training
Swim: 1,400m, 30:00 (first time in the pool since January... ouch)

March 26, 2011

Racing Alcatraz for TeamCindy

Last week I discovered an opportunity to participate in some pretty coveted races through a charity team called TeamCindy. TeamCindy was founded to raise money and awareness for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation and honor the life of triathlete Cynthia Sherwin, who unexpectedly and tragically suffered a fatal brain aneurysm while training for Ironman Lake Placid in 2007. Her story and the cause caught my attention and though I've never raced for charity - and quite honestly have been a little intimidated by it - I wanted to do it. A friend had just shared a deeply personal story about losing her mother to a brain aneurysm and a young friend of mine survived one 10 years ago. Reading about Cindy's life made me think she could be any one of us, it just felt right.

My first instinct was to add Ironman Lake Placid to my roster that already includes two Ironmans, but my coach said that would be "crazy" so I reconsidered and decided on Escape From Alcatraz. Last fall, blogger friend Jon did a bucket list post and an amazing number of people have Alcatraz on their list. I followed up with a similar post and did not include this race. Why? Not because I wasn't interested, I honestly didn't know much about it beyond the fact that the swim is brutal and it's even more brutal to get into.

Now I'm in and I'm incredibly excited, both for the race and the challenge of fundraising. Just think how much more rewarding it will be to toe the line on June 5 knowing I contributed to something important in my own, small way. Here is my fundraising page, please feel free to share with anyone who may also feel this is a cause worth supporting.

I guess I better get back to the pool now!

March 25, 2011

LA Marathon - The Quick Summary

Let me sum up my LA Marathon experience in one word - unpleasant. Actually, unpleasant is putting it delicately. I had such high hopes despite my training setbacks and injury, and up to the halfway point I was making decent time. But things went drastically wrong, including hurricane-like weather conditions, so the day did not go as planned. In fact, it was my toughest day of racing yet. I'm working on a full report but thought I'd share a glimpse in the meantime. Here are some photos I felt really captured the day (don't tell MarathonFoto).

Someone actually raced with an umbrella and I love the various attempts at rain gear

The look on my face says it all - world of hurt

After some time to reflect I'm really proud of my accomplishment, and even happier no harm was done health-wise. I also had a really incredible weekend with a friend and that beats a marathon any day. I've thawed out, have been eating and drinking whatever my heart desires, and resting, resting, resting. Stay tuned for the full, gory report in the next couple days, complete with the most humiliating race photos of all time. Oh the humanity.

March 17, 2011

LA Marathon Preview

Before you think I did nothing but drink wine and eat burritos while in California on my last visit, I wanted to share some more training-related experiences. After the Vicious Dog 15-Miler, I did a few short-to-medium distance runs leading up to an 18-miler the following weekend. I was at a hotel in West Hollywood for work that happene to be right on the marathon course. It was perfect. I planned to cover 9 or so miles of the course, some in the correct direction and some opposite, as two out and backs.

I got a late start and was feeling less than ideal, but it started out well. As I ran down the hill just out of the hotel I came across this big mural with a little nod to the race.

Next up was Beverly Hills. This part of the course on Santa Monica Boulevard was either dead flat or slightly downhill and quite fun.

A couple turns later and I was on the famous Rodeo Drive, dressed a little beneath the standards required to shop there.

When I hit the freeway I decided to turn around and run off-course in Beverly Hills. The roads were long, wide and flat and the houses were beautiful. What better way to explore than on foot. I just love how polite they are in nice neighborhoods.

Instead of tracing my course back, I decided to stay on Rodeo Drive and explore the residential part well past the fancy shopping. It was uphill and challenging, but fun. I took it all the way back to Sunset and looped back to the hotel. From there I backtracked the course through Hollywood and was abruptly stopped when I hit the Kodak Theater... It was Oscars Sunday. I lingered for a bit to see what I could see, then turned around and headed back.

This run went pretty well considering how I felt, but I totally ran out of steam about 13 miles in. I was dragging by 15. My fueling was poor, I barely slept and my legs felt like bricks. I stopped and sat down at one point, a sure sign you have reached a limit. I thought about quitting, but then thought about the 20 miles I'd be running just 5 days later and pressed on. I've never been more happy to finish a run in my life.

My leg survived run and I wasn't in terrible pain the next day so I considered it a success. Back in New York time passed by in a flash. I did my 20 mile run and it wasn't awful, but the next few days were. I hobbled through some shorter distances and then did a final run of 10 miles last weekend. It was the first time I hit a sub-9 pace in over a month. I cried.

I'm on the plane to LA now, somewhere high over the center of the country. I have mixed feelings about this race. Even though I signed up 100% for fun I'm not sure how running undertrained with an extra 5 pounds and a bum groin will be. My former goal was under 4 hours so I think now 4:15 or less is realistic. Anything to earn my post-race feast at In-N-Out Burger!

March 8, 2011

Gone, But Not Forgotten

Blog friends, it's been a long time. I didn't want to blog while on vacation and when I got home, I simply didn't have time. Work was busy, I had running and resting to fit in, and friends I haven't seen nearly enough of. I'm planning to post more details on the trip and updates on my training, but in the meantime, here are some highlights:

The Good
  • Several days after the 15-mile run in California, I was able to do 18 relatively trouble free. I ran 20 this past Friday and am now in taper.
  • Wine country was stunning. There really aren't words so I'll post pics.
  • I ate at phenomenal restaurants and stayed in Justin Bieber's suite at The London in West Hollywood (no worries, Biebs wasn't there).
The Not so Good
  • This injury persists so I've missed a great deal of running. I'm nailing the long runs (albeit slowly), but the shorter ones in between have been challenging. That means 26.2 is going to hurt. A lot.
  • After being gone for a week I have more catching up to do than you can imagine. It means long hours and late nights.
  • Those phenomenal restaurants? I gained a phenomenal 5 pounds. So much for progress!
I'm planning to see a doctor about the injury after the race. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned and disappointed. I have a huge, long season ahead and really want it to be injury free. I won't be able to run the race I was planning and sub-4 is beyond a long shot. But at this point I'm thankful I can still race, and there is a decadent meal at In-N-Out Burger waiting for me at the end. That will have to be enough.


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