Training Nutrition and Supplements

Co. of Culinate

Nutrition and proper hydration are my biggest downfalls in general when it comes to training, and, personally in my life in general.  It’s a fact. I’ve known it, and have felt the blows from it–and it was one reason I didn’t finish the race I was training for last year. Well, there were a lot of reason why I didn’t finish–all stupid mistakes in training for the race, and caused by me. Yet, what I love is that you can always learn something–from training, or racing.

As above, there is a  huge issue I have is properly fueling up for and during races. Now, I’m experimenting   with different types of energy products during training to figure out what works with my body and what doesn’t. As I’ve found out already, gels and Gu Bloks don’t work with my stomach.

This post is more geared for triathlons, specifically the bike part, which killed me last year at Mooseman. And, upon hearing that Timberman’s bike course is more difficult than Mooseman (which, if I consumed more than simply 5 gels and Gatorade might have finished, because that course wasn’t bad coming from someone living in the Catskill region) I really need to (1) switch up my bike training and (2) fuel myself before, during, and after training rides and runs.

The other day I did a 50 miler and ate a good breakfast about an hour before the ride, of steel-cut oats with Soy milk, peanut butter, and strawberries since the bananas were not ripe. For a non- breakfast eater (BAD BAD me, I know), it was tasty and sat well with me.

Mmmm

For the ride, I tried some Hammer Nutrition Perpetuum powder to be added to water. It is a product based on weight, and hours of intense training. From multiple Iron Man finishers (and, these people have finished multiple Iron Man and half Iron Man distances), I was told you need to be consuming between 200-300 calories per hour on the bike, because after that bike, you still need that umph power for the 13.1miles. Perpetuum is different from an electrolyte additive, because it has nutrition and calories and is balanced in composition, and “easily digestible” according to the package. They have different flavors, and I tried the Strawberry-Vanilla flavor. It had no negative effects on my stomach on the ride–the one thing I noticed is I needed a lot more water when consuming the drink mix, because it made me quite thirsty. (Hammer Nutrition has a great section on their website for endurance athletes). I did find that it did give me fuel  to keep me going for the ride– and I finished the ride faster than I have in prior 50 mile rides with one gel or nothing. (Yup, stupidity talking to you right there).

After the ride, I did have a FRS energy power that I added to my water bottle–it was orange flavored and tasted a bit…Nasty, but I drank it anyway.

I tried FRS chews on a run and they are tasty (but only 40 calories), with the main “Energy” ingredient being Quercetin, and you don’t need to drink water with them (but, you do need to drink water when on long runs–no dehydration).

There are a couple other supplements I might try, as in Cytomax and some other endurance specific items. Of course, foods are always the best source of calories.

So, what’s really important during training? Regular food!!

  1. Protein. I’m a vegetarian so this is slightly more difficult finding good sources of protein. But, a vegan has finished the hardest mountain bike race, and I know plenty of vegan/vegetarian athletes out there who perform amazingly. Protein is necessary to repair muscle damage done by training, maintain the immune system, make enzymes and hormones, and replace RBCs that carry oxygen to muscles. Athletic performance is dependant on external protein sources, because the body cannot produce it by itself from scratch (Friel, Joe, The Triathletes Training Bible. 3rd ed. Colorado: Velo Press,  2009).  What are good sources? For meat eaters: chicken, fish, red meat, turkey, cheeses, yogurt, eggs, milk (the list goes on). For vegetarians/vegans: almonds, beans, peanut butter, oat meal, soy products,lentils, quinoa, Tempeh, Seitan, TVP, Vegan burgers…
  2. Carbohydrates. Carbs are important in training, but sometimes overrated, and athletes tend to focus on carbs the most in their diet. Carbohydrates ARE important before, during and after training or competition are essential in maintaining energy levels, regulated blood sugar, prevention of fatigue, and quick recovery after an event.  However, certain carbohydrates, according to their glycemic index (how quickly insulin is entered into the blood stream) cause a spike in blood sugar, leading to a quick decrease in insulin, and quick decrease in energy. A GI food search can be found here. And then there is the Gluten Free diet which is a controversial subject. I have, in the past, and actually might start again going gluten free, because wheat/barley/rye tend to lead to digestive issues 😦
  3. Fat. Ohh, the dreaded mention of fat. I walk down isles in the food market and see loads of “low fat, fat free” foods. (By the way, if you are worried about calories, low fat foods do not necessarily mean fewer calories). Fat is an important part of the diet. It helps absorb vital vitamins (such as vit.K, A,D and E), and is actually the body’s most efficient source of energy. Then again, there are the “High Density Lipoproteins” which, if able, should not be a large portion of fat intake as it can increase chances of heart disease amongst other issues. Low Density Lipoproteins, are, however, good fats to eat. Heard of “Omega-3”? That’s a good fat, and can be found in fish, fortified foods, oils in nuts.

Now, hydration. Related to the nutrition, and one which I’ve known more about from my earlier running days.

There is (still) this idea that people have that hydration is the most important part of racing.  When I ran marathons, people told me to hydrate…Hydrate…Hydrate. Yes, this is important, during high intensity workouts, or days of high humidity, and depending on how much you sweat (I admit it, I’m a sweater…The secret is out). But too much water can do more harm than good–there have been more deaths do to over-hydration. Why? You are diluting your body’s sodium and potassium levels, causing hypo-natremia. This can cause seizures, coma, and death. I’ve seen this as a nurse. It’s a scary thing.

Lastly, there is a LOT of information out there on this subject. Check it out. 🙂

Okay, lastly lastly. An interesting site/blog to check out, for triathletes, is Fearless Food.

For you athletes out there, what are your thoughts on nutrition and supplements?

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Rainbow Cake Balls

Yes, my cake ball/pop expedition has continued throughout the these past couple of months, along with my attempts at trying new, and more complicated little treats. It started off with the bears and helmets, then roosters and chicks, strawberries, and now Rainbow balls.

I must say it was a bit daunting baking rainbow balls, especially after having baked the cake I looked at directions to say how you are really supposed to make them (oops). But since mine came out perfectly fine doing them the “Molly way” I thought I’d share my way of making them.

1. Bake cake according to mix (ofcourse, like always, you can make cake from scratch. I’m simply too lazy. You can make gluten free if you want as well. I don’t like eating cake, so I just used a white cake mix).

2. Separate the cake into four pieces, or 6, depending on how many colors you want to be in the cake ball. This is done after the cake is cool.

3. Crumble up the pieces in individual bowls, then add food coloring to each bowl (I used red, green, blue and yellow). You can use the drops food coloring, which I used for green and red, or food coloring gel, which I used for yellow and blue. The gel definitely brings out a stronger color. I used my hands to mix in the color with the crumbles.

4. Add about a table spoon of frosting to each color mixture and using your hands, mix in the frosting. I also used my hands for this. *Note, you might need more or less frosting depending on how large your crumble quantity is.

5. Put the bowls in the refrigerator and let chill for about 30 or so minutes to “harden”. Do whatever you like in that time.

6. Shape the colors into long logs and slightly smush them so they spread out. Once you have done one color, do the same thing for the additional colors, pressing them ontop of the different color layer.

7. Take pieces off and make balls with them. I made smaller balls and larger balls (you’ll see why later).

8. Place in the fridge to harder, about 30 minutes. Or less.

9. While in the fridge, make daisy’s using while gum paste. I added clear vanilla flavoring to the gum paste because it has no taste. You can add any flavoring, really. Look around your local crafts store which houses all the baking items, and you can find what you need. To make the flowers, you roll out the gum paste and I used a wilton Daisy fondont cutter to cut out the shapes. Then, I placed the flowers in small dishes so they would create that 3-d look of flowers. With the candy coating (mentioned below) I placed one cut-out over another cut out, using coating to glue, and then added a yellow M&M to the center of the flower. Then, I shaked a small amount of pearl colored edible dust onto the flowers to give them a glittering look.

9. Melt the candy coating according to directions–I used chocolate flavored coating. I used green coating for the decorating.

10. Take the balls out and one by one dip them in the chocolate. I used a spoon to dip them in, then gently tapping against the side of the bowl to get excess coating off. Slide onto a plate. Repeat this for all the balls.

11. When the coating has hardened, I used green coating to drizzle over the smaller cake balls. Using left over brown coating, I placed a small dot on the larger balls and then onto that placed a flower.

completed balls

12. I placed the completed balls in the fridge so they would not melt.

13. If you want to be real creative, you can put the balls in small “cupcake” 1-inch liners, and place them in a box. Since mine are for someone’s birthday, I decorated the outside of the box. Then, I used green packing material–similar to what you put in easter baskets–and put that in a terra cotta planter and placed the large flower balls in the planter. Then, wrapped the planter in clear wrap.

outside of box

What would fit inside the box

14. And, you are done! Not as difficult as I thought it would be, but like any cake balls, they are a bit time consuming so you need to plan out a good couple of hours to do this.

What the inside looks like–I crushed this ball by accident

And now, off for a quick run before ride–I’ll get to next week’s training plan later this weekend.

I love spring

Going Green

I like to consider myself an environmentally friendly person– I recycle or reuse when I can, buy locally grown produce when possible, use natural cleaning supplies that are not too caustic on the environment….Ask me the year I spent living without a car. It was only a matter of time before I used my green thumb and started sewing seeds for new vegetables in our garden. *Note: I’ve only ever really picked the veggies that had already grew in the garden, never have I actually tilled the soil and planted seeds, except back from when I was a youngster.

Gardening is hard work. The digging, the planting…That, or I still have not recovered fully from the bad virus I had last week. But, it is. I was exhausted, and only planted the carrots, sugar snap peas, and “decorative gourds” (which will be non-edible). The lettuce, zucchini, and eggplant will have to wait until this week.

Seeds, seeds, seeds

Plus, a garden needs your attention. It needs to be watered, if you don’t have frequent rain. Weeds need to be pulled. You need to tend to it frequently, make sure that the garden (if you are growing edible plants) is secured from predators that might nibble the fruits of your labor.

I think this “gardening thing” started a couple of weeks ago when I planted my first little flower garden pots. I have plans to plant wild flowers and sun flowers shortly. I have no idea how any of it will turn out, but it is something I thought I’d give a shot. What harm could come out of it?

My first ever little garden

Not only am I planting, but attempting to eat healthier–greener–foods, literally. The other night I made a Kale, Spinach, and Pear smoothie for my friend. It also had almond milk, Agave Nectar, and a frozen banana in it. I previously gave the recipe to another friend of mine who loved it. I don’t think it was a hit on K’s end, but he did try it.

Thumbs up for the green

I thought it was so good, the next day I made more for myself, this time adding soy milk for more protein, which adds its own sweetness to the smoothie. And, I must admit, it took awhile to get used to the consistency of it, (but that is because I did not follow the recipe regarding the amounts of kale and spinach–I just threw lots in the blender), but it is super healthy for you.

Lastly, I end this note with photos I took on a recent, incredibly peaceful, mountain bike ride.

Peace amongst the trees

How can you not feel refreshed with a new sense of energy after riding though, and seeing this?

Something New, Something Tri-ed

I was supposed to write this post yesterday….And, really, had no excuse not to write it, since it was rainy and yucky outside all day. I know we need the rain, but after being incredibly happy with the gorgeous weather we had last week and all the rides and runs (oops okay, run) I was able to go on, having grey, gloomy, rain and wind is simply not my cup of tea. By the way, like my play on words in the title there?

Training

Yes, last week we had amazing weather. And I was able to enjoy almost all of it. I stuck to the triathlon training plan posted last week except for the speed run work out and one swim workout. I still cannot get over the fact that I simply dislike swimming. Especially in pools. Ohh lake water, when will you be warm enough so that I can swim in you and not get hypothermia? I did some more mountain bike rides thrown into the bunch as well, since I need to get somewhat better by June 10th when my first ever mountain bike race is (that has a cave….a cave…darkness…scared? Slightly). I still fall, but not as much, at least I don’t think.

Fur Ball getting her tan on

I actually found some new routes around my neck of the woods for road rides which was awesome; and found roads which should not be ridden on a road bike. **Note: if a sign says “Uneven, Unpaved Road Ahead,” they ain’t lyin’.

Catskills in the background

What I consider my artsy shot

I also learned (even though I am a nurse and know SO much better than to do this, I do) that water and gu (ewwww I hate gu) do not really help you when heat stroke strikes. Yes, I decided to get my long ride over and done with last monday–ohh, and also decided it would be a good idea to go for 60 miles instead of the 45 scheduled– on the hottest day this year. You know, at noon when it’s ninety degrees outside. STUPID STUPID. Don’t do it. Just DON’T. Despite the consequences of my ride, I did get one good picture in, which is below.

Side of a barn in the middle of fields

My IT band injury/hip/knee problem seems to be okay, and I was able to go for a run last week–it took longer than I have ever run in my life, but I had no problems afterwards. Not that you really care about that. On that note, I was recently introduced to Strava™. Have you heard of it? It’s this program that records your rides/runs/routes, kind of like a Garmin watch, but you can compare yourself to other people who have ridden/run the same route, and see who is fastest. Perfect discovery for the non-competitive over the top competitive person I can be. Usually, though, the competitiveness was just during races. But now with Strava™….

My first duathlon is this upcoming Saturday. I’m not quite sure how I’m feeling. Well, truth be told, I’m fine about the biking, just terrified of the running. I know the course–it is nice and flat–and in my old ‘hood, so we shall see how that goes, and how my hip and knee will like my sprinting (insert terrified face here).

The Saturday after (I cannot believe racing season is here already!), I’m doing the Trooper Biathlon which I did last year (if you are bored you can read about it here). It is actually a duathlon–run then bike then run). But this year, I decided to do it as a team–I will do the biking, and she will do the running. Perfect! We are actually trying to think of team names for ourselves, so if you have any ideas, feel free to give your suggestions.

Strawberry Cake Pops

Back in February it was my friend’s birthday, and I wanted to bake her a surprise birthday cake. I did most of it, but something came up and couldn’t make it. So, two months later, I decided to finally bake a cake for her. Well, cake pops to be more precise. I also made cake balls, as I soon tired of making the cake pops. I didn’t make ordinary pops either. I made strawberry cake pops. If you want to see how I make my basic cake pops, I wrote a post about it here.  I’m still new with the whole cake pop making thing, so they aren’t perfect.

Ingredients

  • Red Velvet cake with Cream Cheese frosting
  • Haribo sour straws (green colored–cut into 1/4 inch pieces)
  • Green, red, and multi-colored candy coating
  • Sprinkles
  • Sugar pearls
Flowers
First, I made the flower tops for the strawberries. To do that, I melted green candy coating in a candy piping bag until it was melted enough to use, and piped flowers onto grease proof paper. It took a couple tried before I actually got the look I was aiming for, so in the picture, that is why you might see loads of flowers. I piped the outline of the flower first, then filled it in.

Ingredients, and melted candy coating in piping bag

Once the flowers were dry, which doesn’t take long at all, I removed them from the grease proof paper and turned them onto the other side, which was completely smooth. I then piped a dot of green onto the middle of the flower and placed a sour straw and let them dry.

Before....After

I know they aren’t perfect…As I said before, it’s still a learn-as-you-go-trial-and-error baking craft
Cake Pops

I actually made the cake in advance and froze it then defrosted it, which came out fine–I’ve never frozen a cake before so was slightly concerned about that at first. Anyway, I formed the cake balls in the normal fashion, but for the strawberries, shaped them into rounded cones (thank you, Bakerella–I still strive to have my cake pops look as good as yours).

After freezing, I dipped them into the red candy coating and immediately added sugar pearls. After they dried, I added the top “flower” by adding a touch of red coloring as glue. Then, for the first time, I actually put the pops in styrofoam to dry, which is SO much easier, and sturdier, to keep them from tipping over, than an egg craton that I used in the past. Although, a flower holder (which is in the picture below) works well, too. It is important to refrigerate the pops afterwards, because of the cream cheese frosting….And, so that they do not melt.

Before entering the fridge

Since my friend likes to plant, I decided to display the cake pops in a terra-cotta planter that she could re-use later.

End result

And, to be somewhat crafty, I individually wrapped the cake balls (made out of the same Red Velvet cake) into a box. For the cake balls, right after I dipped them in coating, I sprinkled the toppings on top.

Now, I’m off to the dreaded pool to show off my lovely bruised and scratched legs, thanks to you, mountain biking.

Cake Pops and my 130th Post!

I remember looking at Bakerella’s site on cake pops–she is brilliant at crafting cake pops and decorating them, and scrolled through all her different cake pop ideas, while trying to contain my drool. Since it is almost Valentines day, and the fact the Super Bowl is coming up, I decided to take an idea of Bakerella’s and do some Valentines day teddy bear cake pops. It was the first time I had ever used them before, but, you need to learn somehow. I also made some American Football mini cakes–some actual footballs, and some NY Giants helmet cake pops, even though I won’t be watching the super bowl since I really am not a football fan. Should I say that out loud? Cake pops aren’t too difficult to make–you just need to practice lots, and you will get better at it. So, since I somehow retrieved a sinus infection and could not go outside (I swear, I have no idea why all of a sudden my immune system has hit the rocks), I decided to make some of these cakes in between a quilting activity (inactivity and Molly just don’t go well together, can you tell?). My Valentines pops look a lot different from Bakerella’s, which are stunning pieces of art, but bear with me, as it’s the first time I’ve ever attempted to create something like this since I don’t like cake myself. Hahah, like that punDon’t worry, even though I myself do not like cake does not mean I do not bake it for others. I love decorating cakes.

Molly’s Cake Pops

  1. First what you do (and I took this method from Bakerella), is mix the cake mix according to directions, bake it according to directions,  then let it cool completely.

    Ingredients for cake

  2. When it has cooled, its time for the fun part. Run a knife through the cake making small squares. Then, pour those squares into a bowl. Some people use cake beaters, or big kitchen aid mixers to help crumble up the cake. I just used a fork.

    Squish squish crumblecrumbs

  3. Since the crumbs were still slightly warm, I placed them back in the refrigerator for a bit to help chill them, before adding the container of frosting. Add the whole container of frosting.**Note: you can make your own cake and frosting. I was being lazy.

    After frosting has been added

  4. After mixing the crumbs, I placed them back in the fridge to cool a bit before taking them out to form (roughly) one inch balls on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. For the footballs, instead of making balls, I formed mini football shaped “eggs.” Then placed back in the fridge.
  5. While the balls were cooling, I prepared my decorating station and started to melt the candy melts according to the directions. Note: if the candy melts get too hot, instead of becoming a liquid, they turn solid. Simply add a couple teaspoons of shortening and re-heat, stirring every 30 seconds. If using the microwave to melt, use 50% (or the defrost mode) and stir every 30 seconds. You can also use a double boiler. 

    Wilton baking suppliesCandy needed for bears

    decorating station

    melted chocolate

  6. For the helmet color, I used special candy coloring (similar to food coloring) to the white candy melts until I got the blue color I was looking for.
  7. Take the balls from the fridge. For the bears, form them into a peanut shape and press a 1-inch conversation heart into its belly. Then place in the freezer for a few minutes so they retain their shape.

    pressing the heart

    with the ears and noses attached

  8. When they are firm, take a pop stick and dip the end in the candy coating, then stick it into the bottom of the pop. I did this for each cake pop so the coating has a chance to firm up and, literally, stay stuck in the pop.
  9. Dip sides of chocolate chips and place on the sides of the head for the ears, and then place one chip on the face which will act as the nose. You can use frosting to use as “glue”, or the melted candy coating. Once they are attached, dip the whole bear into the coating, tapping against the side of the bowl to get excess coating off.

    coming out of the chocolate bath

  10. Since I didn’t have a styrofoam mold to stick my pops in so they could cool, I improvised and used an egg carton.
  11. When the candy coatings have firmed up, now time to decorate. Dip the pointed sides of two Hershey Kisses into the candy coating and hold against the lower body of the bear until they stay by themselves. Then, add coating to the back of a conversation heart and press on the belly of the bear. Attach two M&Ms to the sides of the heart for the arms. Using black piping gel, make the mouth and eyes and nose (you could also use those pens that can write on cakes). Then pipe two dots, one on each Kiss, and press a small heart decoration in its place. Et voila, the bear is complete!

    My very first cake pop!

  12. For the footballs, I dipped the cake “football” into the candy coating, letting it cool, and then used a white piping gel to decorate it.
  13. For the Giants helmets, I dipped the cake balls into the blue candy coating and let them cool. Then, I used white and red piping gel to decorate.

    NY Giant Helmet BallNY Giants Cake Pop

    NY Giant Helmet pops

The balls can be decorated however you want them to be–I’ll be sure to post pictures of the rest of my Valentines Day themed pops!

My lazy little helper napping

And now, I’m off for an easy, trail run and mountain bike ride…Don’t worry, soon I’ll return to posts about my training…which has been somewhat lacking the past two months. Gotta get ready for the 1/2 marathon in March!!!

Another Fork in the Road

Another Fork in the Road

A Finer Diner

It has been awhile since I’ve written about food–a large part of mine, as well as many other people’s lives. Perhaps the documentaries I have seen as of late on the obesity rate in the United States, added to my concern of everything (okay, mostly everything) I put into my body, have increased my awareness of the food that is consumed on a daily basis. And when I read reviews of diners in Dutchess County, it was only a matter of time–or a matter of hours in my case–before I dragged a friend to have breakfast with me at a diner in the area.

It is called “Another Fork in the Road, a Finer Diner,” located in Milan in Dutchess County, almost to the Taconic Parkway. I have passed it numerous times, with the same thought in my head each time I pass it: Who would have a restaurant there? Along with the sign, and the fact it is a small building almost in the middle of nowhere, are probably why I have never eaten at this Diner. I love old Diners. The atmosphere. The greasy, unhealthy food served; the fact you can order breakfast all day; the unlimited supply of (usually) normal tasting coffee.

This, however, is a different diner. As in the title, it is a “finer diner,” a place many have surely missed on their way from the Taconic towards Red Hook or Rhinebeck as it is simply a wooden building with windows. The “finer” aspect of the diner refers to the fact that everything there is fresh. All ingredients– from the meat products to the vegetables–are local, organic, and fresh (I know! A diner? Crazy!!). And, everything is very reasonably priced. *Consumers note: they only take cash. 

We arrived around lunchtime to find a large room with wooden tables, chairs, a small bar, and children’s play area. The waitress allowed us to sit where we pleased, and was quick to bring menus and our drink orders. The restaurant was pleasantly quiet, despite being full. As with every other restaurant, I am one of the most indecisive people when it comes to ordering food out. The waitress was very informative in giving her suggestions in what was good to eat there (next time, I’ll be sure to get their homemade mozzarella). After much contemplation I settled on the Winter salad with a side order of french fries (fried food craving), and X ordered some type of Corned Beef Hash.

Alas, the food took no time whatsoever before it was served, and a salad filled with arugula, spiced walnuts, silvered apples, a type of crispy thing I cannot recollect the name of it, and a side of maple dressing was placed in front of me, along with a side order of perfectly cooked, organic, locally farmed french fries.

Before I go any further, I need to stop here and say two things which struck me. The first was that they did not put salt on the fries–it is a pet peeve of mine when french fries are served to me drenched in a bath of salt. They were crisp, and yummy. The second is about the cranberries in the salad. Being vegetarian/vegan at points/ raw, I’ve had my share of “winter” salads that come with nuts and apples and cranberries. I was taken aback when I forked through the leaves to find normal, fresh cranberries. Every other salad (I kid you not) like this one has had cranberries, but in the form of craisins–dried. And, they added a sweet/tart flavor to the salad, instead of the almost-pure sugary sweet taste of craisins. Amazing!

Arugula Winter Salad with a side of Maple Dressing

The food was satisfying, filling, and tasty. According to X, the Corned Beef Hash dish he had (including corned beef, a poached egg, and diced potatoes) was quite delicious. At no time were we rushed by the staff, but we were checked on by our waitress a couple of times throughout the meal. FYI they serve dinner now, along with the breakfast and lunch. 

Corned Beef dish, and perfect French Fries

In short, if you are looking for an upscale diner dining experience in the Dutchess County that is fairly priced and delicious–a change from your normal diner fare–definitely check out Another Fork in the Road. It will not disappoint!

 

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Welcome, 2012!

I don’t think I could welcome a New Year more than this year. Has it been a year since I wrote about my thoughts on New Year “resolutions” already? And I must admit 2012 has started off quite well in my book. I find a new year is similar to a new beginning– another year has passed, many lessons learnt, and I am–you– are here. Yes, 2011 did not end with the happiest of endings (a car accident puts the miracle of being alive into perspective), but what better way to start a new year, thankful for everything that has occurred?

I’ve welcomed amazing warm weather, which has allowed me to spend more time outside doing the things I love and not cooped up on the trainer. Not that cold weather has stopped me in the past year from doing anything outside, but for some reason with this mild weather we have had recently in the Northeast, I’ve become more sensitive to the cold; perhaps because I’m simply not used to biking or running in sub-freezing weather yet. It’s only a matter of time before I’m dressed like an insane person. And, I learned that watching The League while riding the trainer doesn’t work so well. Trying to stay focused on target heart rate/interval time and cracking up with tears in my eyes from laughing so hard/the inability to breathe because of laughter are two things which I cannot do at the same time.

Cheesy smile, matching my bike mountain bike ride at 909. Yes, I'm working on the shoes.

For those of you in the area, there are specific places in the Hudson Valley which have great, well maintained mountain bike paths. Click here for a great website which hosts numerous different mountain biking paths in different counties in the area.

Frozen fingers, toes, and frozen smile. If only I wore my white helmet, I'd be completely color coordinated with my bike, again.

I’ve welcomed the ability to experiment with my knife in the kitchen–and, knock on wood, I have not sliced off any tips of my phalanges. If you are looking for a simple, easy, healthy dinner idea, I cooked Eggplant and Chickpea Curry the other night, which can be spiced up for those who can tolerate spicier foods, and was a hit, even for the non-vegetarian I prepared it for. I cannot wait until I can test out other recipes…Perhaps another dinner party might be in my future.

It looks like a one-pot mess, but smells incredible. Yay for spices!

The only thing in the recipe which takes time is the eggplant, which needs to be baked before being added to the chickpeas and red pepper/tomato/onion mixture.

With fresh parsley garnish served over couscous

I’ve welcomed being introduced to new places, including the  Stockade in uptown Kingston, which is a must-visit small bar in (yes, you guessed correctly) Kingston, New York. What was at one time a sewing location is now a quaint bar with old sewing machines as tables and serves clever beverages from different eras, and almost perfectly symmetrical ice cubes. If you have never been there before, I would advise asking the waitress what the drinks are when she does ask if you have questions about the menu. I did not really have a clue as to what I was ordering, only upon leaving was it when I realized that the reason my choice was so incredibly strong and why I could not finish it was because it was composed of five different alcohols.

Holy strong drink, the Grand Carre

I’ve welcomed being able to spend time with friends and those whom I care about– I am determined to spend more time with others this year…And I’ve welcomed living a non- nocturnal life. It really is incredible how different running at two in the afternoon feels than running at two in the morning. Ohh sun, how I’ve missed you.

Sunset

I’ve welcomed the ability to start afresh.

I wish you a belated very happy, healthy, and fantastic New Year!

And, once again, I leave you with a couple music videos– the first being the theme song to my first mtn bike ride of the year (or rather, it was on the radio and I knew exactly who was singing it). The second, from a movie which put even more crazy cycling ideas into my head. Ohh man, it’s dangerous to introduce me to anything related to running or biking…Or climbing…Or anything dealing with the outdoors that pushes you mentally and physically and emotionally, actually.

Every end is a new beginning. 

One Year and 112 Posts Later….

My original plan was to write on the same exact day when I had started this blog in the first place, but life and work got into the way (like always) and tonight i decided to sit down and reflect on the “blogging” world, since I’ve had mine for over a year now. Insane how fast time goes by!

I started this blog originally about my biking, running, and nursing. Over time, I started writing on different topics- most related to those three topics, and then some random topics about nursing, relationships, food and little insignificant things that popped into my head which I felt a need to relay to other people. On that note, I just made the most amazing Vegan Banana Bread with Carob powder swirled through, and carob nibs throughout the bread. Mmm. No, I’m no longer vegan, but when you run out of eggs and milk, and have vegan margarine and soymilk in your refrigerator, then you can create any type of vegan baked goods possible. And, they are actually pretty healthy for you! Thank you, Post Punk Kitchen (great website for vegan baking, FYI).

Vegan Banana Bread with Carob chips

A lot has happened within my year of blogging–it’s interesting to start a blog, and even more interesting when some people subscribe to it, which, no doubt about it, makes you feel good about yourself because they obviously think your blog is awesome. One of my first blogs was about my new Scott road bike (ahh, I love that bike) which is still one of the main focuses of my life. Last August, it had been years since I had entered a pool.A year later, I have no problem swimming in open water. Infact, this morning, there was no better place to be than Lake Onteora while it was raining, and have the whole lake to yourself. Just the pitter-patter of the raindrops on the lakes top  while you swam in complete silence. A year ago that thought would have freakend me out. Heck, in May swimming in open water freaked me out. Now, it’s incredibly scenerene and peaceful. Just you, the drops of rain, and the water. No better feeling. (Okay, well, maybe there is a better feeling).

Favorite time to swim at Lake Onteora: daybreak, and when it is raining

I don’t want to write the same things as I wrote in my Reflections of Two Years  post. But, even more has happened since I wrote that post. I managed to survive two of the worst storms New York has seen in years (the one in January when I had a little accident shoveling) and then this past tropical storm which lead to the destruction and devistation of communities I’ve come to know quite a bit within the past few months, esp, in the catskills. Unless you live in the area, or know the area, you would never know how much damage was done by Irene. Not only down south, but  all the way up through Vermont. If you feel the desire to help those communities out, including Windham mountain, you can check out a website http://www.catskillmtn.org/initiatives/windham-chapter/donate.html to help them repair and rebuild the area.

Flooding in driveway after Irene

Within this year of posting, I had started working night shifts at the Kingston City Hospital. I love my coworkers to death ( if this is redundant from prior posts, I apologize). I was able to absorb an enormous amout of knowledge working there, especially working night shifts.  I must admit at this time, I might be going through a quarter year crises as in what I want to do with my life. Do I stay in the area, or relocate somewhere different. It would be the perfect time to go someplace different, or make a change in my  career ( no offense to Kingston City Hospital, but I don’t think I’ll be abe to work there forever).  Working in an intensive care unit has it’s stresses (major stresses), but after being there  a year an a half, I’m thinking there might be something else out there for me to do. I’m not sure what, or where whatever it is I want to do may be, but I’m looking. I used to hate change. But now I’m ready for it.

I developped a stronger bond with any Scott Bikes. I have two– the scott contessa spark (so pretty!) and my CR1 Team. Although, I think i might need to branch out to other brands of bicycles (gasp!) when it comes to my cyclocross bike, which I plan on purchasing at some point, and a TT bike, since, there are other brands out there with pretty decent products for those people like me who may have a (small, but healthy) addiction to anything bicycle related. Within this year of blogging, I developped a love for mountain biking with my mountain biking baby (contessa spark) whichI had always wanted to do in the back of my mind, but never really did it until April of this year. It is completely different than road biking, and actually helps training/cross training for triathlons. And ofcourse, I have already written about that subject.

I love my Scotts!!!

I must admit, with work being insane, and working night shifts, and the crazy rain we have had as of late, I have not been able to be out training as much as I would have liked. But, the Vassar brothers du/tri is next week (which, I am not at all prepared for but, whatever) and I need to get back into the biking-running-swimming mode .  Deep down inside I still want to compete a full ironman race. And, for a while, I thought I had to do everything right now. I had to complete a HIM, I had to do this and I had to do that. But, I have my whole life ahead of me to do things– I am only 25. One day it will happen. One day. I’m not that easy of a person to give up on something I’ve wanted to do for years. And if it doesn’t happen, well, no big deal. There are bigger, more important issues in life I’ve needed to deal with, and am sure, will come my way.

Within this year of blogging, I’ve been blessed to meet amazing friends, some who are incredbily patient with my poor mountain biking skills, others who are incredibly patient and I never leave their company without knowing more about the hunting world. I’ve had friends come and help  fix the flooding in my garage…Tell me how to start the John Deere lawn mower when I was pretty sure I had broke it (oops). And then come and kill spiders for me (I can deal with snakes in my house, but have an incredible fear of spiders.) And I can’t forget about some others who would never tell me to shut up and give great advice on relationships, and life (who is a fabulous baker and if you need someone to bake you a fantabulous, delicious cake, let me know, cause I can hook you up with this incredible woman), when I’d go to them in tears not knowing what to do. Or spend their two personal days driving up to New Hampshire with me to cheer me on for my first attempt at a triathlon. Everyone knows who they are. Thank you. Each one of you has a very special place in my heart.I know, I know, I’m corny.

I’ve learned how to use a bow and arrow, and, might I add, am quite good at it.

First attempt at archery

I went on my first ever road trip/vacation by myself in the United States, and being lost outside of Albany during rush hour was more stressful than getting lost in Slovakia on their public transportation system, where I could not communicate with anyone or read their written language since their alphabet is so different than ours.

But, anyway, we shall see. I tend to take one day at a time and  blog when I feel like it (yes, I know, it’s been awhile since I have blogged) to share useless information that is on my mind…And do want to take advantage of every possible opportunity that comes my way.

I cannot believe it is a year since I started this.

And, to finish this, I leave some songs for you.

Thank you S.F. for putting the above song in my head

And one that played on my Pandora station which I hadn’t heard in awhile.

And, some White Stripes, because I just learnt to play it on my guitar.

And lastly, yes I have a very ecclectic sense of music, just….because.

I hope this post finds you safe, happy, and after reading any of my posts in the past, might have sparked some inspiration for you to try new things which you never thought you’d do. This past year I realized nothing is impossible. It may be strange, and difficult at first, but if you try, and continue to work hard, the task you have at hand is possible.

Laugh at yourself, but don’t ever aim your doubt at yourself. Be bold. When you embark for strange places, don’t leave any of yourself safely on shore. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory….You have to leave your city of comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself. – Alan Alda

It’s Getting Hot Out There

How I feel exercising in heat

Today is supposed to be the hottest days thus far this year– temperatures reaching nearly 100 degrees fahrenheit, and feeling it too. On my bike ride this morning, the Red Hook bank’s big sign indicated at 0630, it was already 78 degrees. Yuck.

I’m not a heat-loving person. I prefer cooler (not frigid though) temperatures. Everywhere you go- even walking out to my car, I start to sweat. Thank the wonderful person who invented air conditioning, even though I prefer not to use the AC because it consumes crazy amounts of energy. But, when times get desperate, and when I need to sleep during the day, which is when the temperatures peak, I lose self control and turn on the AC (which is actually off right now, because a fuse blew).

Nothing is fun in 99 degree heat, with 100% humidity. Nothing. Well, except for swimming outside. That allows for some relief from the heat. And I don’t mean outdoor pools either. Lakes. Large bodies of water. Thank goodness I got over that fear of open water swimming!

And, in this heat, heat stroke and dehydration come into play, especially athletes. I realized I can no longer do things before work because it is too hot, so from now on, will need to do my runs/swims/bike rides right after I come home from work in the mornings while it is slightly still cool (not sure how my feet will like that after being on them for 12 hrs). It is possible to ride/run in this heat, but dehydration is a serious issue and can lead you into a coma and even death.

Basically, dehydration is when your body does not have the amount of fluids that it should–the body is depleted of fluids. This can be from sweating, not consuming enough water, medical conditions where there is excessive urination (like uncontrolled diabetes and diuretic use), also through vomiting and diarhhea. Luckily for adults, it’s harder for us to become dehydrated than children, because they have smaller body weights.

From a medical perspective (yes, I am bringing my nursing into this, sorry), there are three stages of dehydration (taken from ENA’S 6th Edition of Emergency Nursing, 2007), but I will just go through the basics with you with. When you are dehydrated, you can feel some of the below effects.

  • heart rate increases,
  • you can feel dizzy
  • you have low blood pressure,
  • unusual salt cravings
  • dry mucous membranes
  • concentrated urine
  • you can feel confused, light-headed, tired, weak
  • you have delayed cap refill, poor skin turgor, and shock (in the hospital, you can go into hypovolemic shock, which requires fluid boluses after boluses in order to regain the fluid/ electrolyte balance.)
As an athlete, if you are exercising during times when it is hot, it is vital to replenish both fluids and electrolytes that you lost through sweat.Sports drinks, or electrolyte replacements can be used, as well as drinking water. Nuun Hydration tablets can be used to replace the electrolytes lost through sweat.
The below video, taken from The Fruitarian , has some some very good insight into hyponatremia, which can occur with dehydration– he speaks about ultra marathons, but it is good for any athlete who is exercising for longer periods of time.
Fifteen minutes before you plan on exercising, you should drink 30-20 oz water
During exercise, you should drink 4-8oz of water every 15-20 minutes, or more, if the weather is extremely hot. After exercise, you should drink 16-24oz per pound lost–this is if you weigh yourself before you exercise. The loss of sweat through perspiration and the normal functioning of body systems can lead to serious issues!
Drink up!

Drink Up! Your body will thank you.

There are many different hydration packs on the market geared for running, biking, hiking, etc. Runner’s World has a review of hydration packs which can be found here. I use a small camelbak when I run, or an Amphipod “Full Tilt” waist pack, as I do not like to run with something in my hand. When I bike, I need more water, and the small Camelbak I was using which holds about 500cc of water was just too little. So I ordered a pack which has a larger water resevoir.
While I am on the topic of heat, it’s strongly advisable, if you can, to exercise early in the morning to avoid the heat, or, at night (like me), when the temperatures are cooler.
How do you hydrate during long rides/long runs/long periods of exercise?

The Yellow Deli

“You know, I’m thinking, this place is blog worthy.”

A couple of nights ago I went to  the Yellow Deli in Oak Hill, and even though it is somewhat of a trek for anyone who lives south of the Catskills, I am telling you now, it’s worthy of a trip up just for the atmosphere alone. Not only that, the food was exceptional, and I have not found too many places in the area of which I can say that.

After a very nice hike and being introduced to new trails I never knew existed and being famished, I was taken to this restaurant. On that note, if you like to trail run, there’s a new-ish network of trails that are awesome which you should check out in Greene County. A word of caution though, they are also mountain bike trails, so you need to be careful of speeding, but very friendly, mountain bikers. But I was told people are allowed to run on them and after doing my share of trail running in the past, these are perfect for that type of running.Especially this type of year–the paths are soft and forgiving for to your joints, wide enough for a couple runners to be out at the same time, and very well kept. If you need directions, want to see a possible trail loop, wish to partake in the last NYSMTB race of the season, or enjoy mountain biking (they have trails that range from beginners to expert levels) the directions to Riedlbauer’s Resort in Round Top can be found here.

The Yellow Deli is actually a chain of small restaurants started by the Twelve Communities, and used to be called the Oak Hill Kitchen. Going in, I was warned that the people there are different. I will refer to them as members, and you never feel uneasy, like you are trying to be converted, or pressured at all, so don’t worry.

You notice something is different when you first enter the restaurant, which is open all hours. Honestly, I felt like I was in Disneyland (there are many places which remind me of Disney, if you have not noticed reading other posts.) The music was composed of fiddles and guitars, and everything is made out of wood, from the stairs to the tables to the ceilings. It’s peaceful and relaxing–nothing is rushed. Everything is made fresh, is organic, and farmed by hand. They bake their own bread. And, they don’t toast the bread…They steam it.

I ordered their veggie burger and Yerba Mate tea. The meal was awesome to say the least. I’m pretty sure there was half an avocado on my burger, and it was actually ripe (some restaurants do not know what a ripe avocado is, which drives me nuts.) I usually shy away from fried foods, but their homemade chips were addicting. I’m somewhat of a tea lover, and their tea selection was quite impressive. I tried some of their Community tea as well, which had hints of Peppermint and Carob–delish–and not only to vegans. Their chunky tomato soup was “life-changing good.” It came with two, one-inch thick slices of their steamed bread. My mouth is salivating just thinking about it. Whether you are vegetarian, an omnivore, or meat-eater–there are options for everyones taste buds.

As I mentioned above, there are a few of these restaurants around, where the Twelve Communities reside (I think there’s one in VT, CA, NC, and another one further upstate). This is a place you definitely need to check out!

Song of the day.

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