Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Post Workout Grub - Sesame Tofu with Liquid Aminos

I've been reading a book that my dad gave me last year called The China Study. It revolves around the forty years of research and data that T. Colin Campbell gathered regarding the advantages of eating plant-based proteins and the misconceptions around animal-based proteins. Basically, you can get all of the essential proteins in plant-based foods and will even make for a better recovery. I know that could be a controversial topic for some of you meat-eaters out there, but once you read this book and all of the information that he gathered to support his hypothesis, you might become a believer too.

The reason why I'm sharing this with you is because I'm seriously rethinking the ways that I get my protein. Scott Jurek is one of the best ultramarathoners in the USA and he is a vegan. All of his protein comes from plants. If my vegan wonder boy/hero can do it, then so can I! Therefore, on my last trip to Trader Joe's I did not stock back up on my favorite extra sharp cheddar cheese, and instead replaced it with a purchase of extra firm organic tofu and a bag of sesame seeds. Instead of throwing cheese on my spinach salads now, I toss in the tofu that I made with olive oil, sesame seeds, and liquid aminos.

It could be just a mental thing, but I've felt better since doing so. As a result, my dad would be thrilled to know that I'm going to revert back to my high school days and really limit the amount of dairy I consume. Really that means I will be dramatically decreasing my consumption of cheese, eggs, and yogurt from my diet to more healthy levels (only 5% of my protein intake and the other 15% plant-based). I'll eat it occasionally, but not often. If I don't feel recovered or if I'm not making the right nutrition decisions, then I'll obviously switch back to my vegetarianism habits. Of course, I'm going to continue to check on my iron regularly. Unfortunately, my ferritin level has been stagnant at a low level of 10 for the past four months.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Great Harvest Bread Co 5k

I woke up at 529am (before my alarm) due to Cicero pawing on my legs as though they were a horizontal scratching post. Although this isn’t something too far out of the ordinary, it was still quite annoying because I had wanted those extra four minutes of sleep. I jumped out of bed, braided my hair, and climbed up the stairs to brew up some oatmeal. Supposedly I was clinking the spoon so hard against the bowl that it woke John up, who had unintentionally set his alarm for 5:30pm as opposed to am. Good thing I’m a clinker because he got up and ready in just the nick of time.

The two fastest roommates in Charlotte were out the door right on time and we parked at the South County Library, about a half mile from the start, in an effort to avoid being towed from the Piper Glen Shopping Center. John and I walked down to pick up our chips, made a porta-potty pit stop, and met Aaron at the start line to warm up. We enjoyed a nice easy three miles and made our way back up to the car to grab our flats.

At the start line, I did a couple of drills, wiped the massive amounts of sweat off of my face, and looked around for a good spot to position myself on the starting line. I chose to be on the exact opposite side of where all the fast guys were standing so that I wouldn’t get tempted to drop a 5:20 (like Billy Shue did).

Practically out of nowhere, Meagan Nedlo appeared and we discussed a semi-race plan together, which I threw out the window at the start because I guess I think I’m in better shape than I actually am. We had discussed doing a 5:50 first mile and then dropping from there. The start was delayed because a shuttle bus was late, so in those five minutes, the runner next to us slapped his face REALLY hard to pump himself up. With ten seconds before Tim Rhodes said “GO!” Meagan decided to slap my face to provide the same effect. It was startling and completely hilarious, but I didn’t have much time to dwell on Meagan’s friendly slap because the race was off five seconds later.

In the first mile, I went out relaxed with Chad Crockford in my sight and Meagan at my side. I felt like charging up the hills and then slowing down on the downhill for the first mile, which extinguished any leftover energy I might have wanted to use on the third mile. We came through in 5:40. In the second mile (5:38), Chad surged up one of the hills and pulled away, but then I gained on him again around 1.5. Stephen Spada passed me and gave an encouraging “Good Job” as he continued to negative split his race. Eventually, I really started to hurt and slowed up. I could see Billy coming back to me and really wanted to pass him, but my legs just would not go. Meagan pulled up alongside me at 2.25 and we exchanged some words. The conversation went like this:

Meagan: Are you okay?
Caitlin: I’m just hurting.
Meagan: Alright, you can do this.
Caitlin (huffing and puffing)

Meagan gained about 10 seconds on me in that last mile, which makes sense because I ran a 5:50. I appreciate having Meagan as someone to compete against and can’t wait for her to finish up her NCAA DII campaign this weekend so that we can work out together more often.

While I was not nearly as strong as I would have liked, I’m confident that once I get my mileage ramped back up and my three weeks of downtime get pushed further into the past that my body will feel stronger in that final mile. It would be kind of cool to race Meagan neck and neck and to bring the race down to the final wire, holding hands through the finishing ribbon. Ha!

Best of all, the top five finishers won bread, cookies, an apron, and a chef’s hat. I give Great Harvest an A+ for creativity in their awards. Definitely beats out a trophy.

After the race, I lifted for the first time in two months at my new gym Pura Vida Fitness. We'll see how sore I am in the days to come.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hot n Humid

Summer is approaching like an ominous thunder cloud into the Charlotte region. Along with summer comes humidity and the dire effects of said humidity on workouts (or attempted workouts).

Take for instance Friday: I woke up at 550am to meet Thomas at McAlpine at 615am. I had intended to do 3x10 minutes, but modified it to 3x8 minutes since I was crunched for time to make it to work at an acceptable hour. In the end, I modified the modified workout to run 2x8 minutes, 2 min rest, 2 min hard. On the first 8 minutes, both Thomas and I felt stretched to be running 6 minute pace. On the second interval, it felt as though my feet were dragging through a hot sand pit. The last two minutes after we passed the mile marker could be categorized as agony, horrible, and seemingly neverending. I kept asking Thomas how much time was left and we were both exasperated.

It was at that point that I decided to modify the workout and just do a two minute interval at a fast pace. I'm fairly certain that it was at the same pace that we had been running the eight minute intervals in, but I didn't actually clock it for that very reason.

Thomas and I warmed down a bit and parted our own ways. I typically have two bad workouts a month, so here is my tally for this month! I made up for the workout by enjoying my weekend to the fullest.

I spent some quality time with old pals from Wake Forest, went to Thomas Street Tavern for the first time and loved it, and enjoyed a long run at Davidson with a big group. I also made some homemade black bean dip, sesame tofu (just for Megan), and summer rice and white bean salad. I would classify this weekend as a winner in terms of the cooking. (Trying to get ready for wifehood...jk). After a night of playing Wii with Meagan and Jordan, I am now considering to buy a fourth wii-mote as well as another Numchuck so that I can try to beat Jordan in Boxing.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Workout In Before Will's Baby Out

Today my regular workout partner, Will Isenhour, and I planned to meet at 6pm at the Dowd YMCA to start a warm-up for a workout. The plan was 7x3 minutes with 2:30 jog rest. John joined us as well because he had forgotten his shoes at home, so he did not run at his usual location of McAlpine. This was great! I thoroughly enjoyed John’s company on this workout because it mixed the conversation up a bit.

On the run over to the Dilworth Road East loop, I joked with Will that I was going to savor my next couple of weeks with him before his baby was born. Little did I know that 12 hours later, Will’s baby (Thomas Isenhour) would be born five weeks early, healthy and with a full head of hair! Congratulations to him and his wife!

On the warmup, my legs felt fairly beat up, and I was hoping that once the work out got under way that they would feel much better. To my luck, I made an extra effort to go out relaxed on the first one and John, Will, and I kept it pretty close together. I ran around a 2:41 going through the 800m mark and was pleased. For the remainder of the intervals, I maintained 240-241 pace and each time we jogged back to the starting line, I was surprised at how well my legs were carrying me through the intervals, considering that my quads and hamstrings were feeling lethargic.

John and I parted ways with Will at the Morehead/McDowell intersection and jogged very slowly back to the house. After 21 minutes of running at 520 pace, our legs were tired and our stomachs hungry.

On Wednesday and Thursday following the workout, my legs have felt absolutely trashed. They'll shape up tomorrow for my first work out with Thomas Eggar since January.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Visiting the Houston Farmstros in Florida

This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit Garrett in Kissimmee, Florida. Garrett, being the sweet gentleman that his mother raised him to be, picked me up from the airport and greeted me with an Astros cap that he had convinced the clubhouse manager (aka clubby) to give to him.

I could not have asked for a more perfect weekend...with the exception of the weather. The sunshine state greeted me warmly, with 90% humidity and 90 degree temperatures. Clearly, my albino skin was not thrilled about the increase in UV index rating that corresponds with travelling south, so was sure to I lather myself with sunscreen on every run. Although, the temperatures made me sweat so much that it was probably washing away all of the sunscreen.

With that being said, on Friday I grudgingly woke up in the early hours of 6am and handed Garrett his breakfast: the protein bars I had brought all the way from NC, courtesy of Trader Joe's. Since I was already up, I ran early in the morning down the major highway near the hotel. I found out later that one of Garrett's teammates had been driving down the same road on his way to practice and saw a redheaded runner, and thought to himself "Bullock would like that kind of girl - redhead and a runner!"...A half second later, he rememebered that I was in town. Ironic that it was actually his girlfriend!

During the time that Garrett was at practice on Friday and Saturday, I found various ways to keep myself occupied. I went to Whole Foods to buy three pounds of bulk granola for Garrett, as well as containers of Kiefer yogurt. By the time I had finished all of my errands to spoil him with food, he was already back from the field. On Saturday I didn't have his truck, so I ran a really slow seven miles and then just sat under a canopy at the pool and read a book, The House at Riverton, for three hours.

When Garrett wasn't playing baseball, we hung out obviously. This is where everything was quite perfect. Garrett had scoped out the area in Celebration, Florida which is a picturesque town that is too perfect to be true. It is like the town out of the Truman Show, but better since it is actually real. Flawlessly manicured lawns, neighborhood electric vehicles, and only local restaurants and stores are what give this small town its character. There are small ponds scattered throughout, with walkways that connect each to the other. All of this is only located 2 miles from Garrett's hotel/permament place of lodging for the past two months.

Garrett and I in Celebration

From his own self-led tour, he looked at menus to the restaurants and picked the one that would be best for his red-headed vegan wonder. Afterwards, we walked one block and watched Iron Man at the town's tiny theater.

On Saturday, we ate a late lunch at Whole Foods, hung out at Barnes and Noble (I bought him the Girl who Played with Fire), and ate at Dandelion Cafe - a vegan restaurant that Garrett had researched. Located a couple miles from downtown Orlando, this restaurant was in a remodeled house that boasted solar panels on the roof and lacked air conditioning. The food was absolutely delicious - I ordered vegan nachos on top of greens and Garrett ordered quinoa with greens. Afterwards, we got self-serve frozen yogurt from the Florida chain Mochi. Since the Orlando Magic were in a playoff game that night, we got to see a pretty hopping social scene.

Garrett and I in Downtown Orlando

One of my favorite parts of this trip was when I got to hang out with some of Garrett's fellow farmstros. These guys came from all different areas of the US (LA, Indiana, South Carolina, Pennsylvania) but all shared a common love: baseball. Just as dedicated as Garrett, they are all in the minors for as long as the Astros will see value in their baseball playing skillz. I enjoyed getting to know all of them and was glad to see that Garrett was in good hands. Of course, I did buy all of these young guys a shot of Grey Goose in order to toast their accomplishments...after all, they are professional baseball players!

I went two months without seeing Garrett and now I'm preparing for the four month long hiatus until he gets done with his second season in the minors.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Heart & Sole Five Miler Race Recap

For this race, I was not looking forward to the drive down to Columbia early in the morning. However, I found out that Elyse was going to be moving out of her dorm at U of South Carolina that same day and that her parents were coming down to help out. They booked a hotel room and were kind enough to let me share a bed in the room, even though they were going to be gone enjoying a Taylor Swift concert when I arrived at the room. Suffice to say, I enjoyed a great night's rest at the Inn at USC.

The next morning, when my alarm went off, I got all my race gear together and meandered down to the made-to-order breakfast room, where my mouth began to water at the sight of all the fresh fruit and omelets. Of course, since I was racing, I could not eat, so I chatted with Ann, Scott, and Elyse before I made my way to my car to drive to the race.

At the race, I got a great parking spot, picked up my bib, and began my warmup on my own. I saw two Kenyan women and figured they would be out of my reach. I also saw Amber Moran and knew she was in good shape. Other than that, I was still hoping to win some sort of money for a top five finish. I got to the start line, saw my fan club comprised of the Bullocks, and Ann gave me a quick hug. When the gun went off, I strategically placed myself in about 7th place. I knew that lots of women would come back to me and I also knew the third mile was entirely uphill, so I was preparing for that. I had just come off of two weeks of downtime, with no workouts and was not in the right mindset to race super hard. Admittedly, I was quite pleased with my ability to pass four girls over the course of the race, including one in the final 800m.

With that being said, I came through the first mile in 541. I felt controlled at least.

In the second mile, I passed two girls so I was now in fifth, contending for prize money again. For this mile, there were two smalls hills and I came through in 551.

The third mile boasted a huge hill in which I ran from Finlay Park all the way to capitol building. It was brutal and I did not fee like trying. Somehow, I managed to maintain my fifth place despite running a 626.

The fourth mile we circled around USC's campus and ran right by the Inn at USC. It was fairly flat, and here I passed another girl as I cruised in a 614.

The fifth mile was flat, with a steep 300m hill as the finish. For this one, I was closing in on the third place girl and eventually overtook her with 800m to go. She cried out "Oh no" and I continued to press. With the motivation of earning 100 more dollars and with the help of the downhill, I threw down a 535 for the last mile to finish third (29:52) behind Amber Moran and Janet Cherobon.

Obviously, my splits were all over the place, which is as a result of the terrain as well as my lack of desire to make myself hurt too much. Overall, I was satisfied because I won some money and I also came away with a big beach towel. I was also very impressed with the post race party which featured chocolate covered strawberries, free samples from Earth Fare, and lots of other yummy goodies. They also started the awards pretty quickly after the race, which bode well for our move out schedule.

Afterwards, Scott, Ann, and I all helped Elyse move out and managed to fit her entire dorm room into the Sequoia. We also ate a delicious lunch together at a local restaurant. Overall, great trip with some of my favorite people!