Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring Break

Training is finally starting to kick into a new gear.  The weather has been cooperating during this chunk of free time and my knee is tracking well.  Races are coming up, so it's time for some quality workouts that I can gauge where my paces should be. 

This evening I met up with the West Sound Triathlon Club for a track workout at my old high school.  The evening's sets were 6 x 800m at slightly under 5k pace with a 400m recovery.  It was my first return to faster paces and the workout was a solid effort by all members.  I went out too fast on the first so I dialed it back on the second then shaved seconds off each subsequent interval.  Jim Felty, a fantastic CC and track coach at Klahowya Secondary School, gave me a few pointers about relaxing my shoulders and bending slightly forward at the waist.  It made a huge difference in the last two sets.  I was able to maintain my pace and pump more with my arms, resulting in faster but comfortable times.

I've only got a few more days of this workout/recovery/party mode until I start Spring quarter but I'm looking forward to my schedule.  It kind of goes like this:

6  am Swim at the Rec Center
8  am Yoga Class
9  am Health & Disease Prevention Class
10 am Coach Development Class
11 am English
2  pm Done

I've got packed mornings but it also leaves me free for the best part of the day when I can work, train and study.  Though I will have to get good at preparing my meals the night before and eating in class (yes, I will be that guy distracting people with my awesome trail mixes).

There is only a little over a month before the Tour de Cure in Redmond on May 11 and I really need to kick my bike mileage up a notch.  If you know anything about western Washington, the weather forecasters are not to be trusted.  Though I hope they are right about this weekend presenting 60 degrees and clear skies.  I'd love to get a couple of 50 milers in and some solid runs.  Heck, why not toss a brick in there for good measure.  Either way, it's been refreshing spending time with my family and friends. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Vegan Brownies

Yeah, you read that right.  Vegan, no animal products found within.  Even I ask myself what am I getting myself into?  It's more an experiment than anything, but lately I've been looking more into the benefits of a plant-based diet and ways to add more variety to my meals.  I'm a big fan of soaking and slow-cooking beans and legumes because it is great at leaching out some of those complex sugars our stomachs don't really care for.  I am never upset by eating beans.  It's easy and takes only 45 minutes to cook, give or take depending on the type of bean. (Quick note: beans from the can still contain these sugars because the beans are pressure cooked and they don't get a chance to leach out.)

These past few years I have been paying attention to articles, cookbooks, documentaries, and other nutritional sources.  I've gotta say that a whole-foods plant-based diet is really the way to stay healthy, not worry about calories, and prevent and reverse diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  I want to be serious about that last one.  Nutritional scientists and doctors are making evidence-based claims that our typical Western diet of processed food and meat consumption is the making us sick.  They cause inflammation and provide too many calories.  This combination leads to obesity, clogged arteries and medical illnesses.  Plants provide the opposite effect to all those issues.  For me, it makes sense to eat more vegetables and less meat because I want to provide the best environment for my body to grow and work efficiently in competition and life.  For those who are obese or have a food-illness like diabetes, they can change their diet and eventually lose the prescriptions and weight. 

Sounds like a great idea, right?  Lose weight, feel better, live longer and pay less in medical bills.  It's a bit hard these days to think smart about food when we're bombarded by media to buy the next "healthy" item to hit the shelves.  For now I recommend watch "Forks Over Knives" and google about food pH effects.  It'll be enlightening.   Ok, I'm done.  Back to brownies.

Tomorrow my class is having a potluck and considering the class is fairly liberal.  I thought I'd make a gluten-free vegan recipe that all could share in.  I would have scoffed at this title two years ago but here I am writing a blog about it.  Below is the recipe I found from this baker and dessert blogger Katie,
Thank you Katie, I hope you don't mind.

A few changes I made to the mix:
1/4 cup shredded coconut----------add to the processor and sprinkle on top before going in the oven.
1 cup of melted chocolate chips---drizzle on top of the poured mixture in the pan.
Agave instead of maple syrup-----it's what I had.
Walnuts-------------------------------use them, I forgot.

No-Flour Black Bean Brownies
  • 1 1/2 cups black beans (1 15-oz can, drained and rinsed very well) (250g after draining)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder- dutch or regular (10g) (add a little extra if desired)
  • 1/2 cup quick oats (40g) (See nutrition facts link below for all substitution notes.)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or agave (Honey will work, but not for strict vegans.) (75g)
  • 2 nunaturals stevia packs or 2 tbsp sugar (or omit and increase maple syrup to 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil (40g) (See “nutrition facts” link for all substitution notes.)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup chocolate chips (115-140g) (Not optional. Omit at your own risk.)
  • optional: more chips, for presentation
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients except chips in a good food processor, and blend until completely smooth. Really blend well. (A blender can work if you absolutely must, but the texture—and even the taste—will be much better in a food processor.) Stir in the chips, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Optional: sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top. Cook 15-18 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes before trying to cut. Makes 9-12 brownies.
The dark melted chocolate was swirled in before the oven.

Came out so moist.  I can't even tell there are beans in it.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Is it Spring yet?

   No anniversary or anything.  I just want to say how awesome my bike is.  Over a thousand miles of mountain climbs and prairie views on this bike has changed my life.  I am healthier in my thirties than I ever considered during my twenties.  After many bike reviews and dimension comparisons I pulled the trigger on this great eBay item in October of 2011.
   '10 Felt F75, 52cm. Aluminum frame, carbon fork/seatpost/seat stays.  It came with 105 shifters, 105 F/R derailleurs/brakes, compact ultegra crank.
   I'm on my second seat of new tires and too many tubes.  The new Bontrager Hilo RXL saddle feels more comfortable in the drops and aero.  I haven't gone a long distance in the seat yet but I'm sure it'll feel fine.  Big improvement there.
   The old factory saddle had a nose as hard as a table corner.  Imagine a flat 60 miler in aero on that.  Not the best ride.  The fun factor goes sky-high when you have the right saddle and fit.
   I'm looking forward to logging some more miles here as the temperatures start rising again.  The rain I don't mind but the cold goes right up the shoe vents and freezes my toes.  Even with neoprene booties on, after two hours I'm losing a bit of feeling.  The trainer will have to do for now.  So here's to Spring on it's way!
We meet people at road races

We go to breakfast

We watch movies together