Ironman Training – Month 6

This is the sixth installment of a yearlong training journey towards my first full Ironman triathlon. To start at the beginning, click here.

January 2017

New year, but the same training. I felt better this month. Some life stressors were situational and temporary: My licensure exam (I passed), Christmas, the flu, ….so I was not expecting to be more stressed out. I expected some negative side-effects from the medication, but none appeared. No increased heart-rate, no weight gain, no foggy head. I decided to stop worrying about what could possibly go wrong with taking medication. I was taking it. I felt better. How about I just enjoy that for now?

Training continued as usual as I continued to build my aerobic base. I knew that things would start to ramp up in the next months and I prepared myself mentally for that. As with all things, a routine can start to get boring after a while. As humans, we detect change more readily. I noticed that I was looking forward to my swims the most right now. Why? Probably because the runs and bike rides were on the same routes for the same amount of time. My swim workouts with the Masters team were different each day and forced me to be mentally engaged.

 

Florida Bound

Manatees

The real manatees….

Addie with Manatee

….and the stuffed manatee.

 

Our vacation to Florida to attend a friend’s wedding was a welcome change to the schedule.We made sure to check out the manatees, see Disney World, and feed the ducks whenever we could. Seeing my daughter, Addie, smile and giggle meeting her favorite princesses and enjoy the rides made my heart sing.

Riding the Teacups at Disney World

Riding the Teacups at Disney World

Feeding the ducks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not having access to a local pool or bikes meant I was mostly running and walking -alternating each day. Even running new routes felt like a whole new sport. I had underestimated how a change in scenery can better things. Training-wise, my favorite part of the trip was finding an open-water swim near Orlando. Lucky’s Lake Swim is world-famous and boasts a cult following of locals.

The day greeting Lucky’s Lake

Later in the week, we headed to the Cocoa Beach for the day. We saw a large shark circling the pier in search of some lunch in the clear water. Awhile later I decided to take a dip in the water.

 

My daughter reassured me, letting me know, “ the shark is probably gonna bite you, dad.”    Thanks.

 

Coco Beach 2

Coco Beach 4

 

 

 

Cocoa Beach 5

Just happy be to here!

Being a parent forces one to find creative solutions. Three-year-olds don’t always like cross country flights and let that be known in subtle to not-so-subtle ways. During our two hour layover in Austin, I changed into a galloping horse with Addie on my shoulders. Daily workout: check. Pacified kiddo: check.

 

The Balance

Family time has gotten much better. What do I mean by that? I was able to participate and enjoy being there. Sure there were always challenging parts of parenting like handling tantrums and trying to convince a three-year-old that they will feel better if they actually eat something. The balance of training and family life is more than just paying my dues to watch the kids. If things aren’t going right, the stress affects my training. It also makes me go back to why I am training so hard in the first place – to be a better version of myself. This means not being absent from the family all day every day just to get some more training in. If I’m not exercising or training, then my body isn’t moving like it should and I’m not as great at being a family man.

For the technical aspects of my training, my mile times hovered around 10:20. Not great, but I am trusting in the training and realizing that life stress is playing a part in this. Increasing sleep and fun time with family is helping. One more month down and halfway towards Ironman Santa Rosa.

 

<— Back to Month 5

Forward to Month 7 (coming soon) —>

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5 Bad Fitness Habits I Learned in the Marine Corps.

One needs an ample supply of mental toughness to hack it in the Marine Corps. From day one of boot camp, the emphasis on physical fitness and the tolerance of misery is made clear. There is no getting around it. Weak-bodied young men are turned into PT studs, or at the very least lose their baby fat.  They learn the beauty of the pull-up bar, crunches, and a three-mile run.

Or Copy Code:

Ahhh, the memories…

 

 

At the end of my all-inclusive stay at MCRD San Diego, I lost 30 pounds and could hoist my pale body above the pull-up bar for double-digit reps. Like everyone else, I learned to push past doubts and the mental limits my mind had created for what I could and could not do. Ironman’s phrase of “Anything is Possible” became a mantra even before I knew what a triathlon was.

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The Easiest Green Smoothie You’ll Ever Make

Ingredients for a green smoothie

Why Green Smoothies?

In order to support a heavy training load, I consume an abundance of vegetables. Preparing and eating this many vegetables is time-consuming, and I strive to streamline my days so I can fit in training, work, and family time. Blending vegetables in a  green smoothie is a great way to save time and get in the nutrients that our bodies crave. Many different recipes call for precise measurements and a lot of specific ingredients I never seem to have at the same time.

 

How many times have you given up on a recipe because you lacked one or two ingredients?

I don’t know about you, but the answer for me is way too many times. Sometimes I take care to cook a recipe following the directions in order to produce a great meal. But on a regular basis I want to make things easy to do so the odds increase that I will actually do them. That’s why I make my smoothies based on whatever is in the fridge. I usually make my smoothies like this:

The Steps to make an Easy Green Smoothie

  1. Take a leafy green (kale, collard green, chard, spinach). Wash them and chop (or rip)  into small pieces and put it in the blender.Washing leafy greens and carrots for a green smoothie.
  2. Add ice, a little water, the juice of a lemon, and blend. Using a few squirts of lemon juice concentrate will do the job, but won’t taste as fresh.Blender with leafy greens and lemon juice for a green smoothie.
  3. Cut up the avocado, fruits & vegetables and dump them in. The avocado will emulsify the smoothie so it is thicker and stays together. It is also a great source of fat and will keep you full. Common fruits & vegetables I use are carrots, cucumbers, berries, apples, pears, and melon. Aim to use only one or two fruits to keep the sugar content low. Green smoothies are about packing in the vegetables without spiking your insulin.Sliced vegetables on a cutting board for a green smoothie
  4. Give your dog a carrot slice. He’s hoping you will-  look at  him.
  5. Add any roots, seeds, herbs, probiotics, adaptogens and spices. Some won’t work well together, but the avocado, lemon and berries go a long way to mask other flavors. I usually throw in ginger, turmeric, kefir, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and maca root. Occasionally I add some almond butter, but it’s easy to go overboard with nut butters. If you’re feeling masochistic daring, throw in a clove or two of garlic. Again, it will be masked by the other ingredients in your green smoothie.
  6. Blend together and taste. Too thick? Add some water. Not thick enough? Toss in another avocado. If you are new to blending vegetables or eat a lot of sweets, expect it to taste a little bland. Avoid the temptation to throw too much fruit in there, your taste buds will adapt eventually.Blended green smoothie in a glass.
  7. Store in the fridge for a week or so. I go through jars of peanut butter and almond butter on a regular basis. A few months ago I started washing them out to reuse them and found they are the perfect size to store enough green smoothie for a day’s worth.Blended green smoothie stored in used peanut butter jars.

 

Keep it simple

Like I mentioned earlier, the end result won’t always be amazing. Sometimes it will be a bust, but it won’t take long before you develop a knack for what works well together and in what proportions. I’ve tried a few different things at times that haven’t worked like pureed pumpkin, broccoli, and cauliflower. I’m sure you’ll also stumble across a few things that don’t work along the way.

 

The point is this: eating healthy does not need to be overly complicated. Small, simple, everyday things add up and are sustainable for the long term. Think of these as utility meals – nothing fancy, but serving a purpose. The blast of nutrients you are drinking is a quick and easy way to get your body what it needs.

 

Remember, every sip is a victory.

 

 

What do you put in your green smoothies that works?

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Mt. Diablo Trails Challenge Review

Signing up

Fresh off completing my second Half-Ironman I decided to sign up for a race that caught my eye a few years ago: The Mt. Diablo Trails Challenge, put on by Brazen Racing. I had run one previous trail race with Brazen in the South Bay and loved the experience. Something about the “vibe” of trail runners was much more relaxed and running through the hills with the only sounds being my footsteps and the rustling of trees in the wind beat running on surface streets any day of the week.

Three days before the race I pulled the pin and signed up for the half marathon course. After clicking the button to register, I figured I might glance at the run course and elevation chart. Why not, right? The chart revealed what looked like a great stock right before that crashed hard around mile 10 with a total ascent/descent of about 2,492 feet. This could be a bit hilly, I suddenly realized. Continue reading

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Anxiety and Depression: Working it Out

Two of the common difficulties for veterans readjusting to civilian life are anxiety and depression. Sometimes the feelings come after a major life change like exiting the military or returning from war. Other times they are longer lasting symptoms that can accompany other problems and warrant a diagnosis of PTSD. Either way, anxiety and depression can be a heavy burden to carry.

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The Merriam-Webster dictionary offers a couple definitions for anxiety, one being:

“an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.”

 

Anxiety Sets In

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