Thursday, May 31, 2007


It's funny . . . It took me a good three or four months of training before I could really discipline myself to train every day. It took at least eight months to learn discipline with my nutrition. It took a year before I learned that I can discipline myself to keep going through the pain.

And now I'm learning to discipline myself by not training.

In the past few weeks, I've been phasing into group fitness instructing at Genesis Health Clubs in Wichita (I should be teaching spinning classes within the next two weeks). As part of this process, I've been trying to absorb the atmosphere of the group fitness classes as much as possible, since eventually I'll have the opportunity to instruct other groups as well (i.e. step aerobics, hip hop dance, yoga). Which has meant one or two hour-long classes a day, plus whatever I have in my training schedule. At the same time, I've been phasing my strenth training back in, now that I have a well-equipped gym available to me again.

For a triathlete, three workouts a day shouldn't seem like a big deal; neither should 3 and a half solid hours of training be so intimidating within the sport that produces Ironmen. But the fact is that my body has not been having the time it needs to recover after each workout. I know it's trouble after I sleep 10 hours one night and then fall into bed, exhausted, at 9:45 the next evening. I know I'm overdoing it when everything feels sore, and it never seems to go away. I know I'm pushing myself too hard when every workout is accompanied by a phlegmy feeling in the back of my throat.

I just know.

So now my primary issue is stepping back from my schedule and realizing that not only will I not get faster and stronger by continuing to push myself, I might actually do some damage. Overtraining can lead to injury, and the work you put into your body when you've been going too hard for too long doesn't translate to improvement. I've had to discipline myself to say, "No, you are not going to follow your schedule tomorrow; you are going to take a day to recover. Tomorrow is not a day you could be getting faster; tomorrow is a day you could be resting so you can go strong again next week."

A lot of traaining is learning discipline, and sometimes that means knowing when to chill out, watch TV, and eat animal crackers.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Jonathan's most recent post has got me thinking about the way I write on this blog. In the past, when I've written for public consumption, the tone has been less matter-of-fact, more philosophical. With this "Tri Harder" endeavor, I've wanted to provide a source of knowledge for those searching the internet for help in creating or maintaining an active lifestyle.

But I don't think I've done that.

More to come.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What I Miss Most

Let's see, now . . . after three whole days in Kansas, what do I miss most about California?
  • Cheap, high-quality produce
  • Trader Joe's
  • Not hot
  • Not humid
  • Not windy
The wind here is absolutely insane. It's hard to run when it's blowing, it's hard to bike, and it's even hard to swim. Yesterday, I swam for 20 minutes in Lake Afton before giving up; the whitecaps were too much for me.

I'm going to have to change my plan of attack, I think. Tomorrow, I'll try biking early in the morning. It will definitely be cooler, and I hope it will also be less windy.

FYI, what I miss most in California are my awesome tri buddies.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Cuban Black Beans and Rice

This recipe makes enough for two people (or sometimes one, if you're really hungry).

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1 can of black beans
1/2 of a green pepper, chopped
1/2 of a sweet onion, chopped
Bay leaves

Saute the garlic in oil for a few minutes, then add the onion and cook until fragrant (the onion should be translucent). Add the green pepper (for sure use green pepper, but you can also throw in corn, carrots, red pepper, whatever you have around). Dump in the can of black beans, two bay leaves, and about two teaspoons of cumin. Let that simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes. Taste it to see how much salt and pepper to add (also add more cumin if needed, and if you want to throw in other spices like chili powder or paprika, now is the time). Let it simmer another 5 minutes or so, then take out the bay leaves. I like to eat this over rice, with cilantro for garnish. The whole batch of beans has about 600 calories, and I usually eat about half of it. If you're counting calories, though, be sure to add however much rice you eat with it.


Yesterday marked my re-entry into the wonderful world of cycling in Kansas. I'd forgotten how nice it is to have an entire road to yourself, to have motorists move over a whole lane as they pass, even to have people stop and ask, "You doin' okay?" Unfortunately, I'd also forgotten how demoralizing a stiff 20 MPH headwind can be. Of course, my little bit of wind was nothing compared to this year's IMAZ, but reminding myself of that did nothing to help me as soon as I turned south.

Additionally, my parents apparently do not eat food. There's not much to work with here. I'm going to have to stock the refridgerator and pantry with healthy edibles like beans and tofu and fresh fruits and veggies! Speaking of, it's probably about time for me to share a recipe . . .

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Return

I am finally finished with the craziness that is graduation. I've been running into all sorts of difficulties with actually obtaining my diploma; I have until June 15 to set them right (or to try) before my graduation date shifts to next December.

Either way, I'm back in the great state of Kansas, having traded the warm, sunny craziness of L.A. for the humid, mosquito-infested calm of Wichita. In all the hustle and bustle of graduating, moving, and saying goodbye to friends, I've had little time for training; the most I've managed is a long ride and a couple of short runs. So I'm looking forward to renewing with fresh vigor, beginning tomorrow morning.

I'm working on some spinning workouts I can't wait to share, and I have some recipes I'm still testing out. But look out for some good stuff coming as we really get into racing season!

Saturday, May 12, 2007


This is a relatively simple exercise, and I thought that almost everyone knew how to do it. But my dad asked me the other night about exercises to strengthen his abs and back, and I had to demonstrate this one. So I decided to share it.

This exercise will strengthen your core and lower back, and since you also use your shoulders and legs to stabilize your back, you might get sore in those areas as well (at least at first). This is a particularly useful exercise for cyclists (we do it in my spinning class) because it teaches you to keep a flat back and stable core, which promotes a more effective power transfer from your core through your hips to your legs.

From a push-up position, bend your elbows 90 degrees and lower your weight onto your forearms. Your elbows and shoulders should both be at about a 90 degree angle, and your head, neck, back, and legs should all be in line; imagine a pole extending from the top of your head through your spine and down to your ankles. Try to keep your core tense and stable.

Start out holding yourself in plank position for 30 seconds. Build up to 2 minutes. You can also lift up one arm at a time, one leg at a time, or an opposing arm and leg. But you can work your way up to that.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Race Report: Wildflower

I don't know that this can properly be called a "race report," considering that I didn't race. But my team did, and I was there to support them and have a great time. A few interesting points (since outlining the whole weekend chronologically would be lame to write and pointless to read):

  • Best neighbors ever. We were fortunate enough to camp next to a party of age-groupers from Napa Valley who came with a van, a full kitchen, and some very nice wine. I have to say, our pre-race pasta dinner looked pretty plebian compared with their pork cutlet, barbecued shrimp, and baguette. They definitely camped in style. They were also more than generous, sharing their wine, their food, their campfire, and some very excellent conversation with us. After chatting and eating with them, I'm very optimistic about the world of age-grouping (as opposed to the great collegiate atmosphere I've been fortunate enough to experience). Our friends from Napa were definitely an example of how great the tri community can be. (By the way, if any of our Napa friends are reading this, please comment or e-mail and let me know how you did! I'd love to pass on the information to the rest of the team).
  • Topless aid stations. I did not get to see this, but it has pre-determined my course for next season; I will definitely be returning to Lake San Antonio with the USC team to compete next year. I have to get in on that sweet Cal Poly action!
  • Challenging course. The Wildflower course is no walk in the park; it's known as one of the more challenging courses in the world. Most of the USC contingent competed in the Long Course (which is the same distance as a half ironman), and for many of the team members, it was the longest distance they'd attempted. But the Olympic distance (which Anthony did) is also a decidedly difficult course, compounded by the weekend's heat and wind. Long story short, two of our team members ended up in the medical tent with IVs in their arms. This was a little shocking and scary, but at the same time I sort of think it's part of the fun (I'm becoming strangely attracted to pain, I think). Fortunately, we didn't have any technical difficulties on the course; no flat tires or anything.
  • Podium. Congratulations to Susie, who won her age group and was the youngest female competitor in the long course, and to Zach, who placed sixth in his age group (out of about 50).
  • The last hurrah. It wasn't a huge hurrah--we were so tired and loopy after a day of triathlon that our Cinco de Mayo celebration was not nearly as exuberant as we had planned--but it was the last race for me as an undergraduate with the team that's become my family this year. It's hard for me to realize that I'm leaving; I think I've zoned out a little bit so that I don't have to think about it. But it's going to be painful to leave L.A. behind, even though I feel ready to go home to Kansas. I'm going to miss track workouts, spin workouts, driving to races, hanging out on weekends, conversations, questions, guest speakers . . . and those are only the elements of one aspect of my life. It will be a hard couple of weeks. And I could go on, but I think that's a subject for a different blog.
Wildflower was an excellent time. I have to say, it was strange to be surrounded by all the hype, the toned bodies, the excitement of a huge race, and not really be a part of it. In it, experiencing it, but not really a part of it. Because there is a definite line between the racers and the hangers-on (body composition, for one). To be present but not part of the pain and willpower was disorienting and unpleasant; I want to race, not to watch. But I'm glad I went camping with my team, and they were glad to have me. It was an excellent time, and I'm now even more ready to rock this week of training before I graduate super hard.

By the way, I'd love to read everyone else's race reports; I know the blogosphere was well-represented at Lake San Antonio this weekend. Please comment or e-mail and let me know if you've posted about Wildflower!

Thursday, May 3, 2007


To answer Kylie, I thought I'd elaborate a little on my previous,, frustrated post.

Monday, I got an e-mail from my primary reader (the person who determines my grade for my thesis course) asking if I was done, because the program coordinator wants a grade for me. And up to Monday, my reader hadn't actually seen my paper (such as it was).

As a result, I haven't had much luck with eating or sleeping this week, let alone working out. And that's been very frustrating, because I was hoping to use these last two weeks before my retreat in Idyllwild to base build and try to get a little more endurance before I start really building for Shawnee Mission.

However, in the past three days I've revised and expanded a 19-page caterpillar until it has become a beautiful, colorful, 40-page butterfly. Besides which, one of my fellow thesis-writing friends and I decided it would be fun to cut my hair as a break from writing and editing. So I also got a haircut (instead of sleeping). I guess I have accomplished something, and I'm proud of said accomplishment. My coach was just telling me the other day that, as an amateur athlete, I have to recognize that my training is not life-and-death; if something comes up and I have to back off for a few days, I have the freedom to do that.

But I have wrapped up my thesis. Today, I went to the Huntington Library to meet with my reader and go over my work, page by page. It took five hours, and he made several recommendations, which I might still try to implement before leaving for Wildflower tomorrow morning. Fortunately, I'm not racing (couldn't justify the entry fee), but I will be there to volunteer and cheer on my fellow triathletes.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Finals + Training = Death

The fire under my butt is patiently smoldering, and I can't wait to finish this senior thesis, turn it in, and get back to the all-important business of training.