Posts Tagged ‘triathlon’

…Ocean swim, that is.

Psychotherapy, life coaching, holistic healing, seminars, self-help books, yoga, gurus….all viable and wonderful forms of nurturing and  healing.

And then there’s ocean swimming.

  • Free.
  • Good for your pores; better for your mind.
  • Dolphins (often) included.
  • Literally and figuratively cleansing.

There’s magic and a meditative space a few hundred yards offshore, removed from all the heavy meaning and pressures that arise when you have 2 feet on the ground.   I struggle to meditate on land.  In the ocean, it just washes over me.

We had our first team ocean swim yesterday, which also happened to be my first since my race in June.  As usual, my amnesic memory had me less than excited about the cold, the sand, the early call time.   And as usual, the apathy quickly shifted once I got out there playing in the waves with our participants, a few bodysurfing dolphins (which freaked out some of the new people), and one ornery sea lion (https://www.facebook.com/tower26leon).  Even as overcast and cold as it was, it was worth every minute, even the time spent doing battle with the neoprene.

To add to the experience, my role as a team captain had me chaperoning a newer and virgin ocean swimmer through the workout.  He was nervous, but cautiously enjoyed himself as we slowly ducked and bobbed in the big blue.  In a weird way, not being able to cling to lane lines seemed to spark his confidence and he came out of the water glowing and proud…and ready to do it again.  Every swim is a new baptism.  I need to remember this when I’m fighting to get out of bed in the morning.

No health insurance?

Need some perspective?

Want to get away?

Love krill?
Well then you’re probably a baleen whale and live there anyway.

A few pics of the day:

<—-Reluctantly back in the rubber



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At the end of my Ironman race in 2010, my feeling was that if I NEVER drank or saw another bottle of Gatorade again, it would still be too soon.  And yet, in 2012, there I went again.  This time it was Ironman Perform sports drink, but it’s not much different, believe me.  We continue to drink them, because convention says you will drink sports drinks if you’re going to train and compete at long distances. Because you want to survive don’t you??? 

But these commercial sports drinks are no longer acceptable.  How can we push our bodies to the limits while simultaneously poisoning them?  Not only are they completely unnatural colors and flavors – what the hell is the flavor of a Glacier Freeze or Riptide Rush anyway – but they are filled with things that I can’t imagine are healthy.  Trying to find the ingredient list on the Gatorade.com website proved to be less than fruitful, which seems telling.

A google search found this ingredient list for Gatorade:
water, sucrose, dextrose, citric acid, natural flavor, salt, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, gum arabic, yellow 6, glycerol ester of rosin, brominated vegetable oil.

Only recently Gatorade’s parent company PepsiCo bowed to public pressure and eliminated Brominated Vegetable Oil (patented in Europe as a flame retardant) from its citrus flavors (still in Mountain Dew, btw…and we know how fabulously wholesome THAT is).

Brominated vegetable oil?  I need this in my life?  Guess what it was replaced with – sucrose acetate isobutyrate.  Um, thanks?

A few weeks ago, I made the bold statement that I would be figuring out a way to completely avoid Gatorade (& other commercial sports drinks/bars) for the entire triathlon season.   I meant it.  Contrary to what their marketing would have me believe, I do NOT want electric colors flowing through my veins – only my blood.


<—I don’t want to Be Like Mike anymore.  

It really wasn’t hard to find a sports drink recipe.  I turned to the book “Thrive” for how to fuel my workouts naturally.  Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life is a book written by professional Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier, who has been a plant-based athlete since he was in his teens.

I made my first batch tonight.  It was beyond simple.
There are a couple options – here is one recipe.

Lemon-Lime Sports Drink (from Thrive)

3 medjool dates
– 2C. Water
– Juice from ½ lemon
– Juice from ¼ lime
– 1 tsp Coconut oil
– 1 T. Agave Syrup
– Salt to taste and desired strength (i used about 1/4 tsp)

Blended the hell out of it in my Blendtec on “whole juice” mode, then strained.  Took all of 3 minutes. 

Yield: 3 Cups – let’s call it 6 4-oz servings, to make it nutritionally comparable to an 8 oz serving size of Gatorade.  Since it appears to be more concentrated calorie/carb/electolyte departments, my plan will be to dilute with water in my 24 oz water bottles at a 1:2 ratio – this will net me about 36 g. Carb per 24 oz bottle.

Here is how it stacks up when all is said and done.  And I didn’t even have to add brominated vegetable oil.


Gatorade (8oz)

Thrive Energy (4 oz)








110 mg



30 mg


Carbs / Sugar



What about cost?

One 32-oz bottle of Gatorade costs about $2.  (6.25 cents/oz)
Making 24 oz of Thrive Energy Drink cost (OVERestimating): $2.50 (10.4 cents/oz).
But remember that the Thrive drink is twice as strong per oz in all areas, so you need half as much.  

And taste?
Well, if you live in America, you know how Gatorade tastes.  Sweet, sticky, fake, not horrible on a hot day.  The kids seem to be addicted like it.
I’ve always diluted it as it’s been too sweet and syrupy for me to handle for long workouts.  At times, I’ve felt downright ill from it, AND it often leaves me with a red clown mouth.

The Thrive sports drink is mild and slightly tropical – actually quite tasty – if I wasn’t saving it till morning, I might drink a glass of it right now.  There’s really nothing offensive about it that would be a dealbreaker.

Performance is TBD.  Based on the ingredients, I cannot see that there will be an issue.  My performance isn’t generally that earth-shattering anyway. Maybe I don’t want to *just* survive – I want to thrive.  And I don’t want my sports drink to be slowly killing me along the way.

If you read this and decide to try it yourself, drop me a line to let me know how it turned out (both in taste and performance).

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First a Haiku:

For months twas a void,
Betwixt my legs where you were.
But you’re back……bike seat. 

Yesterday for the first time since June 2nd, I got back on my bike.  Admittedly, it was begrudging, as I am protective of my back and neck and hours on the bike has never been too kind.  But the great thing about not riding a bike for 8 months, is that when you get back on, you totally remember how.  It’s like riding a bike!

But even that short hour-long ride reminded me of a bigger problem than losing fitness or bike skills – the deterioration of my hard-earned butt callouses.  

I am paying for it today. My crotch is now crotchety, my sit bones on time out.  I’m bruised and battered in my no-no zone and yet again reminded why these 5 months on, 7 or 8 months off tri seasons are not a standard training cycle 🙂

Check out my new red handlebar tape.  Sexy beast!  Why have I shunned you so long?  Oh yeah, I don’t really like you that much.  



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Since the Reset, I’ve pretty much been winging my meals, shopping off the cuff and throwing together some of the simpler things like roasted veggies, quinoa, and salads that I had enjoyed from those 3 weeks.  It’s been going relatively well in that I have been eating about as clean as it gets.  I feel fantastic and am learning more and more about what my body wants and needs.

But you can only eat so many stir-fries or quinoa pilafs before you start to go a little stir-fry-crazy.  I have at least 3 vegan cookbooks I’ve accumulated that tell me there is a world of prime eats to be had, if only I use a little strategery and pull myself together.  So this week I’m taking it to the next level and designing a meal plan, using these nifty books and magazine recipes I’ve begun to amass.

I actually sat down today, turned off the Facebook machine for like 15 minutes, and laid it all out, trying to anticipate what I’ll be in the mood for based on weather and schedule.    Here it is:


I’m super excited to use my new food processor for the first time to make up the Karma burgers.  I also appear to be in the market for a Friday snack…oops.

As it stands, I think I am only scheduled for one meal out this week so far.  That could change, but I am really trying to maintain control by cooking for myself.  It’s also a great money saver to cook at home.  I am curious to see what the cost for the week will be.

Tomorrow morning, I’m off to farmer’s market and Whole Foods (post-run with the team) to stock up on what I’m missing (which I’ve been ticking off on this cool little magnetized pad I bought last week).


I am pretty darn impressed with myself right now.

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Well, I’ve been sucked in AGAIN, for the 4th time since 2008.  I can’t stop drinking the kool-aid; it’s so tasty!

Summer triathlon season for Team-in-Training officially kicked off again today!  This time you can call me Captain, “Westside Training Captain” to be exact.  I am not specifically training for a race (still TBD), but I will be bossing people around as much as possible, which probably suits my personality better.  I am excited to support people’s progress from scared little kittens to fierce tri mountain lions.

As first practices go ,it was pretty typical.  I sputtered through a 30 minute run, while wheezing to the participants about how great this all is and it only gets better (silently noting to self again I need to stop taking 6 months off in between seasons..every damn year the first practice is like this).  But really, it DOES get better and this season is going to be a whole new ballgame in terms of training and nutrition.  This will be the SEASON WITHOUT GATORADE.  Trust.

Because I’m so hardcore, after practice I went to go do more exercise disguised in a whole lot of color and fun. The Color Run.  It’s billed as the Happiest 5K on Earth and it really is.  It’s pretty comical when you hand adults packets of colored powder and send them through color shower stations. They lose any sense of maturity. It’s fantastic.

My lungs weren’t too thrilled with me, but I think I’ve finally stopped coughing rainbows.
But there is color in hard-to-reach places.  (#singlepeopleproblems)

Before, all squeaky clean

ImageNotice anything wrong with this pic?

After – dirty mess

And theeeeeeen, went trampolining for a Leukemia & Lymphoma Fundraiser.
I think that I’m 2 inches shorter, ya know, from spinal compression and all.

But what a day.

Better go get the frozen peas in a  pre-emptive strike.  Ouch.

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It’s been a week and I’m still awake.  

I feel like I was hypnotized in some way during the reset…my brain altered, my state of understanding morphed into a person I don’t recognize.  A person who refuses bread and meat, who ignores candy at gas stations, who cooks and shops for fresh produce, who drinks a lot of water.  A person who feels good.  I added some fish back in with no problems.  I am thinking pesca-vegan may be my path.  

Yes, it’s only been a week post-reset, but so far…so good.  Even in the face of some heartache and emotions running high.  

I had one day of experimentation…this past Sunday I had some mimosas with brunch and I also patronized a free dessert cart (food is hard enough to resist…but FREE food?!) from a suite at Staples Center overlooking the Lady Gaga concert.  What resulted was almost instant headache and angry stomach.  Especially from the sugar.  Body MAD!

I am learning what my body likes and doesn’t like. If I REALLY listen, it’s telling me that it wants whole, natural ingredients, and a LOT of water (my god, it’s so dry out in CA right now).   I bet yours is too.   

This is what I ate the last couple mornings. 
It’s a warm quinoa with coconut milk and walnuts (fruit if desired).  Fantastic, filling, and full of a lot of nutritional goodness.


1 C. Coconut Milk
1 C. Water
1 C. Organic Quinoa (rinse before cooking)
(recipe calls for 2 C. Fresh Blueberries – i just sliced some banana in)
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/3 C. Chopped pecans & Walnuts
Combine milk water, and quinoa in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cover.  Simmer 15 minutes until most of liquid is absorbed.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Stir in fruit and cinnamon (and a little stevia if desired).  Top with a few walnuts.  Serves 4. 

Triathlon season is about to start, and I’m excited to see how treating my body consistently right impacts my overall energy, health, and Athena shape.  Giddyup! 

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Well in a banner day for Athena Jess, I am 75% closer to my original goal of clearing the Athena weight class in Triathlons.

Did I find some new miracle drug? 
Chop off an arm?
Get 4 more stomach flus in the last 24 hours? 
Drink extra strong coffee this morning?
Discover that my scale has been calibrated wrong all these years? 

If only!  But no!

However, I did recently learn that as of January 1st, 2013, the USA Triathlon Association has upped the weight requirement to race “Athena” from 150 to 165 lbs (and Clydesdale from 200-220).

The good news:

I still qualify.

The bad news:

I still qualify.

But wait – good news – If I can lose 5-7 more lbs, I’ll have weighted OUT.

Bad news:

I don’t really care anymore.  The Athena Project (and by extension Athena Jess) is maturing and 2013 will be focusing on weight merely as a side effect of good solid health, not the other weigh (see what I did there?) around.

Let’s take a closer look at this seemingly arbitrary weight change, which suddenly means that on a technicality, I’m sooooo close to achieving the initial goal of T.A.P.

Here is what I found in the minutes from the March 12, 2012 USAT Age Group Committee meeting:

Jack Weiss presented the committee with a draft of a resolution he had prepared for the Board that would raise the weight minimum for Athena athletes from 150 to 165 pounds and for Clydesdale athletes from 200 to 220 pounds. Jack stated that this increase in no way is being proposed in a derogatory context, but that athletes today are bigger and stronger (and consequently heavier) than they were in the past.

Based on….?:

Molly Ann Smith forwarded by email to the committee an article appearing in the LA Times on November 28, 2011 that discussed the weight gain of the average American over the past 20 years, indicating that the average “self reported” weight for men and women was 196 pounds and 160 pounds, respectively; an increase of about 20 pounds in both sexes.

So from what I can tell from these two paragraphs, Americans are fatter (or at least admitting they are fatter) and by extension, athletes are stronger and heavier?  It’s not derogatory, it’s just fact (because the LA Times reported it).

And in case there might be confusion or labeling, there was this bit:

Charlie Crawford indicated that he had no objection to the change, however, for clarity he had suggested that the terms “Clydesdale” and “Athena” be changed in the rule book to “Weight Classification Athletes”.

(Hmm, “The Weight Classification Athlete Project” doesn’t have quite the same ring as a blog name……)

While I see what they are going for, the fact is that the number is still largely arbitrary.  There’s a big difference between 5’3” and 165 lbs and 35% body fat, and 5’11”, 165 lb, and 14% bodyfat. If they really wanted to level it off, they’d throw a height/weight requirement, or BMI or body fat or body composition…

Raising the weight may give the impression even more that this is the “fat girl” category.  Even at 150, I have rarely seen more than a few enter and I see MANY in the age-group swim caps that clearly could qualify, despite what their drivers license says.  The bottom line (in my humble estimation) is that the triathlete who doesn’t view her weight as an issue or “in a derogatory context” may prefer to race with the larger age-group class to see how she measures up as a contender.  Who wants to be the valedictorian of summer school?  And the Athena Weight Classification Athlete who DOES view her weight as an issue and hindrance will probably not want to highlight that fact by self-identifying as 165+.

The only exception I can think of is if the WTC (Ironman organization) offered the Athena category (stopped in 2008), and included qualifying slots to Ironman Kona from qualifying races.  If that happened, suddenly I think you’d see a lot of Amazonian triathletes jumping at the chance to go to the Big Show.

What do you think??

As for me? As long as I still qualify, I’ll take a gold medal even if I’m the only one racing in the age group.  I’ll proudly post the picture of me standing alone on the podium.  Check out my gold medal, bitches!  (or in the case of Desert tri, 3rd place finisher tile).  No shame, no judgement…it’s just a number!


“Weight Classification Athlete” Jess


i stand alone.

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