Sometimes things don’t go exactly to plan and sometimes things just go catastrophically wrong.
I had a bit of both of those over the last 6 months; from the death of my partner’s sister, my Father’s passing, the loss of my running buddy, Bailey, a sad trip to Italy that signaled the end of my relationship of 8 years and ended with me falling down the stairs and separating a rib, to the final end of that relationship, a broken heart, and a DNF at my A race for the year at Ironman St. George. But, I am still standing- albeit a bit wobbly- thanks to all the support from my friends and my very patient clients/athletes.
I chose IM St.G for two reasons: it is a lake swim (which I need because, as silly as it sounds for a tri coach, I get seasick in the ocean) and because it was supposed to be one of the top 5 toughest races in the world. Careful what you ask for, Wittenberg…..
Living in the true flat lands of south Florida, I was suitably nervous about the hills out west, but diligently went up to Clermont to train, rode big gears into the wind down south and when I got out to Utah was pleasantly surprised to see the hills were not any harder than I had anticipated. I swam in Sand Hollow Lake prior to race day, and while there was a little more chop than I expected, it was not too bad and the “balmy,” 62 degree water actually felt rather nice. I ran on the course, and even those inclines were not bad and all those damn bridge repeats I did in training seemed to have paid off.
Seven of my clients and friends came out to support me- which made me feel like a million dollars and was a tremendous relief. Thank you so much to Bonnie Bar, Kristy and Ralph Breslaw, Franny and Nathan Nachlas, and Melissa and Scott Wu (in alphabetical order!). Any iron-distance race can feel more than a little overwhelming with no support and when they found out I was going out there alone they rallied and came out to be with me. Little did I know it, but therein lay my true race day victory.
My ironman training had been my refuge and my therapy over the last 6 months and race day would be cathartic and confidence building. I had trained harder than ever before for this race; through all the deaths, through all the sadness and loss, through my separated rib and a niggling knee issue, and I imbued race day with all kinds of significance. It was going to be all about toughing it out and proving to myself and the world that I can handle it all, that I can do anything, that my mind and my body can deal with the toughest course and difficult times, and finish strong and feeling good.
And then came race day.
The pros went off, in glasslike water, 20 minutes before us age groupers. Not being the fastest swimmer, I got in the water and swam to the inside front of the pack, aiming to drift back through the pack as the swim went on. We were about 5 minutes late getting started, so I had been treading water for about 10 minutes or so and slowly starting to get cold. Teeth chattering, the gun went off and I experienced the usual punching, fighting, and jockeying for position that makes Ultimate fighting look rather lame. My swim was going well and rather than drifting back, it felt as though I was holding my position in the pack fairly well. As I rounded the first turn I thought I noticed a slight swell, which turned into a big swell, and by the time I hit the halfway point I turned and looked up course and I thought I was swimming directly into a snowstorm. The wind had picked up and was violently tossing 4-5 waves with whitecaps in our faces with so much force it stung. I made the halfway point in 37 minutes which was actually a little ahead of my predicted race pace. It took me another hour and 25 minutes to complete the second half of the course. I kid you not, nor do I embellish upon the facts, when I tell you that I could hear screaming all through the swim; the lifeguards rescued nearly 300 athletes that morning and I honestly can’t believe no one died. I am not the world’s most impressive swimmer, yet neither am I a nervous swimmer, but there were a couple of times during this swim that I had to control mounting panic, as even with my wetsuit on I was still going under. And of course, I was seasick. Between swimming head on into the waves and wind, throwing up in the water, not having a lifeguard anywhere near me, and swimming as hard as I could yet not getting any closer to that damn red rock in the middle of the lake, there were times when I doubted I would make it out of the swim. Franny Nachlas had given me a copy of my Mother’s favorite poem, “If,” by Rudyard Kipling before the race, and I kept reciting the lines:
“If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”.
Getting out of the water, I was already more tired than I have ever been starting the bike leg, and when they stripped off my wetsuit and that 45 mph wind combined with the 55 degree air, I was instantly cold and became hypothermic- shaking uncontrollably. I don’t mean shivering, I mean bouncing on a chair I was shivering so hard.
The volunteers were lovely, but had no idea what to do with me- they were holding my hands and looking very concerned, when Bonnie Barr sprang into action to save me and get my ass out of transition before I missed the cut off. Bonnie, The Breslaws, and the Nachlas’ were all volunteering at the swim start. Bonnie came tearing into transition because I was taking so damn long to get out of there- I was shivering so hard I could not dress myself! She took off her top right there and gave it to me, took me over to the heater (which had run out of propane so was simply blowing cold air unfortunately) and proceeded to dress me. I had 3 long sleeve tops on which I did not remove for an hour and a half. When I left transition, close to two hours and 20 minutes after the start of the race, there were still hundreds of bikes in transition. When does that happen?
The rest of the crew had my bike ready and were yelling for me to get moving. What a team effort! The Wus were waiting for me at the end of bike out and said I looked a little shell shocked. Yep! I headed out of transition straight into those 40 -45 mph winds, uphill. NOW those hills don’t look so do-able. Ruh roh.
I don’t even remember my speed, but I am pretty sure it was around 7 mph for a good while as I climbed and the winds whipped across the open plains of Hurricane, Utah. Who knew it was so aptly named? I kept thinking about two of my athletes, Orlando and Eric, who had done this race under different, but equally hard conditions and they toughed it out- I could too! I kept repeating Kipling’s lines, and thinking about how much I wanted to finish this race and all that it represented. I kept thinking about my clients who had come all the way out here to support me and I could not let them down, and all the people who had face-booked me, called me, and emailed me with support prior to the race, and all the people who were watching my progress- from Michigan, N. Carolina, and Florida, to London and Wales. I could not understand how all my preparation could leave me feeling so slow and weak as I climbed straight into a head wind.
All that preparation and I had never looked at the cut off times…. But I had a feeling I was going to be cutting it close.
When I get motion/sea-sick it stays with me for many hours, and so I was dealing with two issues on the bike: the need to be sick and the need to take in calories. I was very successful with the sickness, and not so good with the calories. After 6 hours of racing, I had taken in 300 calories. Heading up to the Wall in Veyo, there were a couple of descents into a head wind when I saw 14mph (going DOWNHILL!!!WTF!!!), but on the back side of the course as we descended back into town with the wind at our backs I saw a high of 57mph with an average of 40 mph. And I thought the wind in Florida would prepare me for the winds in Utah. Silly me.
As I neared the start of the second loop on the bike I saw my cheering section (this photo is missing a couple of them) and I stopped to say hello and thank you, and headed off. I turned the corner, went about 500 yards and was told I had missed the bike cut off my 2 minutes. Had I been thinking clearly I would have gone on anyway (without my timing chip as they had removed it) as I had been catching people all morning and would have stayed ahead of them opening the roads and closing the aid stations. Had I continued it would have only been a matter of time till I bonked, given my lack of calories, but still… I was thinking of Orlando, who during last year’s race (his first ironman) had the stomach flu and he still finished. But not I. Not this time.
I met two finisher athletes the day after the race and we were all joking about the conditions and they stated it perfectly: they were waiting for the locusts to arrive and to be set on fire in T2- that’s how hard it was out there. You could be hypothermic in the morning and hyperthermic in the afternoon. What fun!
I could make all kinds of “what if” statements; what if the water had not been so bad (the race director said he would have called off the swim had the race started 15 minutes later), what if I had not had to stay in T2 for so long (they would not let me out till I stopped shaking- but hell, I could hardly move, never mind ride my bike), what if we had not had such hellish winds, what if I had not had to stop at EVERY bloody porta potty to be sick, what if I could have taken in more calories? Well, then it would not have been an ironman, would it? THAT is what we sign up for, and we get what we ask for and there is no guarantee of ladylike weather and perfect conditions. I gave race day my all, and I came up two minutes short, but I gained so much more.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!
Athlete Race Update:
*John Planz finished his first 100 mile run at the Keys 100, after only 5 months of training. You are THE MAN, John! It was an honor to be on your crew.
*Both Breslaws raced strong and hard at the Florida Challenge in Clermont: Kristy: 2nd AG, 5:53 & Ralph: 6:04
*Catherine Trejo also raced strong at the Florida Challenge: 3rd in AG (whoo hooo!), 6:52
*Ruben did his first sprint of the year in 1:23 at Key Biscayne. Way to go, Ruben!
*Tracey had a great time at St. Anthony’s on a relay team. I am sure there was a little too much wine sipped post race. Don’t even talk about the chocolate.
*Franny did a memorial day 5k and hit 8:12’s in the heat!
*Sue had a great time at the Down and Dirty race in Miami. She did, indeed, get pretty dirty.
*Carol put on her Half Mary and completed it solo- so proud of you!
*Julia is in Italy as I put this blog together. We want pictures of the food and the country!
*A gang of athletes are doing the Motivation Man: Bonnie, Franny, Joe, Sue, and Mark.
*The Breslaws are going up to Canada to do the Half Iron event at Mt. Tremblant.
*Ruben is doing the Mack Cycle international distance at Key Biscayne.
*Liz and Sandy are getting ready for the Half Mary Trail race at Amelia Earhart park in Miami.
*I’m doing 3 mountain madness in N. Carolina.
How do vegans get their protein?
10 Protein-Packed Plants
by Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati
The continuing debate over how much protein the average person needs has done little to change our hunger for it. And who can blame us? Protein is one of the basic building blocks of life.
When most people think about protein, images of cheese, eggs and a leg of lamb pop into their head. Did you know though that every – yes, every – whole food contains protein? From your morning banana to your evening salad, finding plants packed with protein is easy to do. And not only is it easy to do, it’s easy for your body to use.
Plant-based foods are free from cholesterol, tend to be high in fiber, and are often alkalizing to the body. All animal products, on the other hand, are devoid of fiber, and are acidifying to the body, which causes calcium to be leached from your bones, as well as decreasing oxygen levels in the blood, and negatively impacting the digestive/lymphatic system.
You may have heard the ongoing debate about “complete” or “incomplete” protein and “food combining”, but be wary; these topics are steeped in misinformation and myth. Here’s what I’ve discovered thus far:
The term “complete protein” refers to foods that have all nine essential amino acids present in the correct proportion for our bodies to build protein with. The term “incomplete protein” refers to foods which have all the essential amino acids, but are simply low in one or more of them. This is called the “limiting amino acid”. While it’s true that most whole plant foods have one or more limiting amino acids and are thus “incomplete”, this shouldn’t send you running for a steak. Our bodies are brilliant, and every food that goes into your system must be broken apart and its nutrients absorbed. During the digestion process, amino acid chains from all sources are broken down and made ready for our bodies to use. If you’re eating a good mix of fruits, veggies, grains and legumes, then your body simply collects what it needs from the “amino soup” that your digestion system has absorbed. There are a growing number of vegan bodybuilders, ultra marathon runners and award-winning athletes out there to prove that meeting your protein needs on a plant-based diet is simple and successful.
Since every whole food has protein in it, you have literally millions of great options to choose from when it comes to creating a balanced diet with the right percentage of protein for your body*. I’ve selected ten nutritious plants to get you started, for both their protein content and other health benefits. You may be surprised at some of the veggies, nuts and grains that made it onto my list.
*More is not necessarily better when it comes to protein. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for the average, sedentary adult is only 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. Some healthcare professionals argue that this level is too high. No matter whose recommendation you choose to follow, the fact is that each person’s protein needs are different, but all can be met with a plant-based diet.
Health Benefits of High-Protein Plant Foods:
Mung Bean Sprouts
If you’re like me, pumpkin is one of your favorite fall foods. The last time you steamed up some squash or pumpkin, did you have the seeds though? One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 9.35 grams of protein! That’s over two grams more than the same quantity of ground beef. Their high protein content and level of nutrients makes them a wonderful addition to any salad or snack.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds:
- Tryptophan: Helps fight depression (converted into serotonin and niacin).
- Glutamate (needed to create GABA): Anti-stress neorochemical, helps relieve anxiety and other related conditions.
- Zinc: Boosts immune function and fights osteoporosis.
- Phytosterols: Reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and up HDL (the good kind); may also be effective in the prevention of cancer.
Pumpkin seeds are also full of manganese, phosphorous, copper, vitamin K, vitamin E, B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), folates, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium and more!
If pumpkin seeds aren’t your thing, don’t worry – there are plenty of seed-based protein powerhouses out there.
Grilled asparagus with a balsamic vinegar drizzle is enough to make my mouth water. Eight spears of this delectable veggie has 3.08 grams of protein, which is pretty potent for such a slender fellow.
Health Benefits of Asparagus:
- Vitamin K: Asparagus is the number one plant-based source for Vitamin K, which is indicated in preventing osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
- Vitamin A and Folate: Anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, heart healthy, and indicated in the prevention of birth defects.
- Diuretic: Reduce water retention.
- Aphrodisiac: Oh là là!
Asparagus is also a good source of potassium, glutathione, vitamin C, antioxidants (glumatic acid, glycine and cysteine) and more.
For years, I wasn’t a big fan of cauliflower. I mean, how healthy can an off-white vegetable be? But once I started learning about the health benefits of cauliflower and all its cruciferous plant family members, I started to give this veggie its due respect. One cup cooked = 2.28 grams of protein and a truckload of nutrients to reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer!
Health Benefits of Cauliflower:
- Carotenoids (beta-carotene and Phytonutrients): Including kaempferol, ferulic acid, cinnamic acid and caffeic acid. These nutrients help protect your body against free radical damage.
- Sulforaphane: Strong indications as a cancer fighting agent.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Reduce inflammation.
Cauliflower is also a good source of vitamin C, manganese, glucosinolates (glucoraphin), vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine) and B9 (folic acid), phosphorus and potassium, indole-3-carbinol (strong cancer fighting indications) and more.
If you grew up in America you’ve probably had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or two, but I doubt you knew how healthy this favorite snack really is. One ounce (approximately 28 peanuts dry roasted without salt) = 6.71 grams of protein.
Health Benefits of Peanuts:
- Co-Enzyme Q10: Protects the heart during times of low oxygen.
- Resveratrol: Bioflavonoid believed to improve blood flow in the brain and lower your LDL cholesterol.
- Niacin: Assists in recovery of cell damage, and protects against Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive problems.
Peanuts are also a good source of calcium, iron, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, folates, copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, vitamin E, antioxidants (polyphenols p-coumaric acid) and more.
Oats have gotten a bad rap over the years as a breakfast moosh fit for little orphan Oliver or old school prison inmates, but truly they are a food fit for kings. One cooked cup has a whopping 6.08 grams of protein along with being a great source of fiber and helpful for stabilizing your blood sugar levels. I enjoy mine in the morning with a bit of banana and cinnamon mixed in – yummm.
Health Benefits of Oatmeal:
- Selenium (antioxidant combined with vitamin E): Boosts immunity and mood, as well as having indications as a cancer-fighting agent.
- Weight loss: Keeps blood sugar levels even. The high level of fiber keeps you full longer.
- Magnesium: Helps with energy production, maintaining strong bones and possible relief of PMS.
- Phosphorus: Assists with bone health, boosts energy and is important for healthy digestion.
Oatmeal is also a good source of tryptophan, Iron, calcium, B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin and niacin; vitamin E, zinc, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium and more.
You may have seen this little bean hiding in your stir-fry (sprouted) or perhaps in a fresh wrap, but it hasn’t gotten much cred over the years. Most beans are a great source of protein and water soluble fiber, and while mung beans aren’t at the top of the bean protein list they make a good showing. With one cup containing 3.16 grams, it is low in calories, but high in content.
Health Benefits of Mung Bean Sprouts:
- Lecithin: Lowers blood cholesterol levels, reduces liver fat.
- Zinc: Along with the protein and other vitamins in mung beans, Zinc can help strengthen your nails.
- Phytoestrogens: Contain many anti-aging components for the skin. These phytoestrogens act on estrogen-receptors found in the skin, stimulating the synthesis of hyaluronic acid, collagen and elastin, which are all essential components of the skin’s structure.
Mung bean sprouts are also a good source of vitamin A, many B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, folic acid, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc and more!
This is a wonderful snack to have around at all times, both for its protein content and nutrient density. Almonds are at the top of the nut chain when it comes to nutrient density, which means they will keep you full longer. With one ounce (approximately 24 nuts) containing 6.03 grams of protein they are a wonderful addition to any snack or meal.
Health Benefits of Almonds:
- Phenylalanine: Aids in the development of cognitive function.
- Nutrient Rich: Keeps you full longer which can aid in weight loss.
- Vitamin E/Magnesium: Important for heart and muscle health.
Almonds are also a good source of calcium, phosphorous, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, niacin, managese, riboflavin, folic acid and more.
We all know spinach is a special green. From Popeye to the posh salads you’ll find in fine dining restaurants, spinach has gotten some good press and with due reason. One cup cooked = 5.35 grams of protein. It is also filled with flavonoids (a phytonutrient with anti-cancer properties). Spinach is good for your skin, your eyes, your brain and your bones!
Health Benefits of Spinach:
- Neoxanthin and violaxanthin: Anti-inflammatory epoxyxanthophylls.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin: Protect the eyes against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
- Vitamin K: Ensures a healthy nervous system and brain function, healthy bones (1000% of the RDA of vitamin K in each full cup of spinach!)
- Vitamin A: Strengthens immunity and promotes healthy skin.
Spinach is also a good source of vitamin C and other antioxidants, flavonoids, beta-carotene, manganese, zinc and selenium and more.
Broccoli has many of the same amazing compounds as cauliflower, which is logical due to the fact that they are both in the cruciferous plant family. As a child I remember enjoying broccoli simply for the fact that the pieces looked like tiny trees. Now, as an adult, I enjoy their impressive nutritional profile AND the fact that they look like tiny trees. One cup of chopped broccoli = 5.7 grams of protein and a heap of child-like enjoyment.
Health Benefits of Broccoli:
- Glucoraphanin (which the body processes into sulforaphane): Helps the skin to detoxify and repair itself, along with ridding the body of H. pylori which increases the risk of gastric cancer.
- Beta-carotene, zinc and selenium: All work to strengthen the immune system.
- Indole-3-carbinol: A powerful antioxidant and anti-carcinogen, which may hinder the growth of breast, cervical and prostate cancer along with boosting liver function.
Broccoli is also a good source of folic acid, vitamin C, calcium (more calcium in fact then most dairy products), lutein and zeaxanthin, B6, folates and more.
All of the plants on my list that have preceded this one fall short in comparison to quinoa’s potential. On its own it is a perfect protein and the king of all grains. It has the highest percentage of protein content at 16 percent per volume! This means that a measly ¼ cup (dry) quinoa has 6 grams* of protein. If you paired this grain with a couple of spears of asparagus and a beautiful cauliflower, broccoli and sprouted mung bean stir–fry, you would have an easy meal with 30 grams of protein or more!
Health Benefits of Quinoa:
- Magnesium: Relaxes muscles and blood vessels, which can help regulate blood pressure.
- Manganese and copper: Both work as antioxidants to protect the body from free radicals.
- Lignans: A phytonutrient found to reduce the risk of heart disease as well as certain types of cancer.
Quinoa is also a good source of iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, vitamin E, selenium, manganese, tryptophan copper, phosphorus and more.
It’s never too late to get started (& to kick butt)!
A bit scary but useful info regarding triathlon swimming
Need some inspiration?
Red Grapefruit, Avocado and Fennel Salad
This recipe works equally well with oranges in place of the grapefruits. Blood oranges, if you can find them, are especially pretty. The recipe calls for macadamia oil, but feel free to use another cold-pressed nut oil or olive oil. Cilantro or basil substitutes nicely for the mint. The cracked coriander is not necessary, but we recommend it for extra flavor.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 Servings
- 3 large ruby red grapefruits or 5 oranges
- 1/4 cup macadamia oil
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Course sea salt
- 2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
- 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, sliced thinly
- 1 very small handful mint leaves, julienned
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cracked coriander seeds (optional)
- Fennel fronds for garnish
1. To section the grapefruits or oranges, cut the peel from the top and bottom and stand each upright on a cutting board. Cut down from top to bottom along the peel to remove it and expose the flesh. Cut along each side of the membranes to separate the segments, and place the segments in a large bowl, along with any juice that you can squeeze out of what remains (sometimes it helps to carefully cut the grapefruit directly over a bowl). Set aside a few tablespoons of the juice to mix with the oil.
2. In a small bowl, whisk the oil with the lime juice, a few tablespoons of the grapefruit juice, and a generous pinch of sea salt. Place the sliced avocado in a bowl and pour some of the dressing over it, tossing very gently to coat.
3. Add the fennel, the remaining dressing, and the mint to the grapefruit and toss well. Gently combine the avocado with the grapefruit and fennel and divide among serving plates. Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with cracked coriander, if using, and garnish with fennel fronds.
Always time for a quick laugh:
Join me at my Spring Speed Group!
The next running speed group I’ll be coaching starts June 7th and goes through July 12th. We’ll meet every Thursday at 6pm at the Red Reef Park Golf Course parking lot in Boca Raton. If you’re a member of Boca Raton Triathletes, the price is $75.00. If not, it’s $94.00. You can bring a check to the first meeting or use the link below,
http://www.bocaratontriathletes.com/training.html. Looking forward to seeing you!