July Mileage Update

ImageParty / Pixabay

Well, July was certainly a month of highs and lows.  Highs include an amazing race at Rev3 Williamsburg.  Huge PR, even with the ridiculous water and the foot injury.  Lows include slicing open my foot and screwing up my training for the month, then struggling to get back on track.  I’m fighting with some tightness in my right hip and quad, likely from walking stupid thanks to cutting open my left foot, so that’s meant a lot of time with the foam roller and the massage ball this month.

I wouldn’t have been surprised if July was my lowest training month of the year.  It’s not – that was February.  But I didn’t beat it by much.  Also February has 3 fewer days.  It should theoretically be my lowest training month.

So you know, having a low training month mid-season probably isn’t the best idea.  I am racing next week and it’s a challenging course, so I don’t have any real goals other than to just race strong.  It’s going to be a comparatively slow race, and the low training isn’t going to be a huge help.

July Totals
Swim: 4.3 miles
Bike: 204 miles
Run: 35 miles

So yeah, it’s not terrible, but that run number is way lower than it should be.  Thank goodness I’m only racing olympics this year, because I think even the 10k is going to be a push.  Now that my foot has healed, I really don’t have any excuse to not get myself back on track.

2017 Totals
Swim: 33 miles
Bike: 1339 miles
Run: 316 miles

Things I Love: My Instant Pot

Kitchen gadgets seem to be a dime a dozen.  The next latest and greatest thing is always coming out and everyone jumps to buy it.  Within a few months, that gadget is relegated to the back of the cabinet in favor of something else.

This could not be further from the truth with my Instant Pot.  I got my Instant Pot for Christmas (thanks Mom and Dad!) and I have used it multiple times a week ever since.

The Instant Pot is basically an electric pressure cooker, but it’s got some additional settings as well that let you use it as a slow cooker, a rice cooker, and as a few other gadgets I never owned in the first place.  I had never owned a pressure cooker before, but I had heard good things.  I had a roommate who regularly used a pressure cooker to cook beans, and I knew it worked fast, but it was never something I thought I needed.

Then I started hearing people rave about the Instant Pot.  How fast and easy it was to use, how people were making delicious meals quickly.  How super easy cleanup was.  This all sounded awesome to me, so I started researching and decided that I needed one.

I was not wrong.

Now I’ll be honest – I’m not a fancy chef.  I don’t make anything super extreme in my Instant Pot, but it has made cooking a lot easier.

On a weekly basis, I use my instant pot to make:

Hard Boiled Eggs – Put the eggs on the rack, add two cups of water, cook on high for 2 minutes, let sit/depressurize for 15 minutes, then turn off and put the eggs into an ice bath

Sweet Potatoes – Potatoes on rack, 1 cup of water, cook on high for 10-12 minutes (depending on size)

Steel Cut Oatmeal – 1 1/4 cups oatmeal, 3 3/4 cups water, cook for 10 minutes

Some of my other favorite things to do with the Instant Pot are shredded chicken (including really easy BBQ chicken – anytime I can cook from frozen, I’m in) and I’ve even used it to make homemade chicken stock (using bones from rotisserie chickens).  I know plenty of people who have cooked whole chickens in their IP.  I haven’t gotten that far, but maybe over the winter.  I also really want to try making yogurt.

There are a ton of recipes out there using the Instant Pot, and I’m super glad I have one.  This isn’t any sort of a sponsored post, just me raving about something I use regularly.  When I’m in heavy training mode, finding time to put together healthy meals is tough.  It’s so nice to be able to just throw things into the IP and press a button.

And the best part?  The inner pot is dishwasher safe!  So easy!

Do any of you Instant Pot users have favorite recipes I need to try?

Catching Up

Visited the Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center. So very impressive!

It has been a busy few weeks, and my lack of time is showing in my blog.  I usually get these posts written in the evenings or over the weekends, but with putting in extra hours at the office, the last thing I want to do when I get home is get on my computer.  (Plus once I get in a workout and eat dinner, I’m pretty much just ready for bed.)

So let’s see, what’s been going on?

My workouts were pretty much a mess over the past few weeks thanks to the cut on my foot from Williamsburg (which is now mostly healed).  Because the ball of my foot was injured and thus sore, I was walking weird, and while I did skip running workouts (pounding on a fresh injury seemed like a bad plan), the little walking I did meant that I ended up with strained muscles in my hips from the weird gait.  So that threw off the workouts even more.   Things seem to be mostly in working order save for a slight twinge in one hip, but I think some stretching should help that.  Who knew that one little cut could cause so many problems!

I was also avoiding the pool until my foot healed, so basically it’s been all biking, all the time.

This past weekend, my brother, sister-in-law, and niece were all in town for a few days and it was so awesome to get to spend time with them.  I will never regret moving to the DC area because I love it here, but it would be nice to get to spend more time with my family.  They clearly need to come visit more often.  There’s plenty of stuff to do here after all.  (Though maybe I would recommend not coming on the hottest weekend of the year.)

I haven’t been paying attention to the fact that I have another race in 2 weeks and it’s going to be a tough one.  I’m going from a very flat course to a very hilly course.  Should be quite interesting.  Let’s hope the heat has broken by then.

How to Fix a Flat Tire

Look, I look like I know what I’m doing.

This weekend, I did a small clinic at Princeton Sports on what to do when you are out riding and you get a flat tire.  Given the number of people who showed up at the ride who admitted to not being able to fix a flat, I had hoped more would stay for the clinic, but I think that those who did learned a lot and hopefully feel more comfortable about dealing with a flat tire.

First off, flat tires aren’t terribly common.  I’ve gotten exactly one flat tire since I started riding.  Of course, that one flat tire was during my first olympic distance triathlon.  Thankfully, I knew what to do.  I wasn’t particularly skilled at handling a flat tire, but I had practiced at home.  I wasn’t going to let one pesky issue destroy my entire race.

I have heard a number of cyclists say that if they get a flat tire, their race is over.  And if you’re racing to land on the podium, maybe that’s true.  But for the vast majority of us, there’s no need to stop if our tire goes flat.  And besides, what are you going to do if you get a flat during a training ride?

And what’s the best way to learn?  Practice.  Lots and lots of practice.  If you have a clinic or a class available to you, go.  If there is a hands-on option, participate.  Learn to take your wheel off, get the tire off and change the tube.

If you don’t have a class available, you can learn thanks to the internet.  The internet is an amazing place.  I actually learned to change a tire by watching a video on YouTube.  I no longer remember which video I used, but I’ve included a good one at the bottom of this post.

Don’t just practice once.  Repeat the process over and over again.  Remove the tire, pull out the tube, replace the tube, replace the tire, inflate your tire.  You don’t have to use a CO2 inflator every time, use your regular bike pump.  Sit in front of the tv and have something entertaining playing in the background as you repeat the process over and over.  It will get easier.  And if you’re struggling, walk away for a few minutes, calm yourself, and come back.  You can do this, and then if you do get a flat on a training ride or during a race, you’ll know what to do.


Does Cheating Expose a Deeper Problem?

tswedensky / Pixabay

I’m not going to lie – I love Marathon Investigation.  This started as a way to track down people who cheated to get into Boston.  And it was amazing to see just how many people cheated, and the incredibly inventive way that they cheated.  The site then began to profile other cheaters, mostly people who cheated to get on the podium, but they also occasionally point out people who simply cheat so they can claim they finished.  They also pointed out people who bandited races, either by copying someone else’s bib or running with an old bib (or without a bib at all).

Don’t get me wrong – cheating is always wrong.  I have seen course cutting so many times at Disney races and it makes me mad every time, even though those cheaters would argue that by cutting the course, they didn’t hurt anyone.  I can understand this argument.  They didn’t push someone else off the podium or take a Boston spot or take aid on the course that they didn’t pay for.

But by cutting the course, by lying about their finish, they are harming the sport.  They are saying that it is okay to lie so that you can get a finisher’s medal and proudly proclaim that you finished the race.  I don’t understand this at all.  Why would you want to lie about your accomplishments?  What do you really gain?  And the fact that this doesn’t make sense to me says that there is probably something wrong in how we look at racing.

This week, a teammate of mine got called out by Marathon Investigation for cutting a race course.  She had previously been disqualified by that race.  I admit that I didn’t know her well, and I haven’t talked to her since the piece was published.  I don’t know what happened, but the evidence does not look good for her.  She is no longer on our team, but that doesn’t mean that she is being shunned by the group.  Instead, the leadership has opted to reach out to her and offer assistance.

[W]e have reached out to the athlete and offered to find any resources that will be helpful to her in dealing with this. While it is right and mandatory to speak out against cheating and doping ALWAYS, we also recognize this is a human with feelings. We can all shame her mercilessly on social media and drive her deeper into a hole, or we can try to help her resolve any issues so they no longer hurt her or anyone else around her in the future.

I can understand being in the middle of a race and wanting to quit.  (And sometimes, quitting is the smart thing if you’re sick or injured.)  I have definitely been in races where I’ve thought “Hey, I could just cut the course there and be done!”  Of course, it wasn’t a serious thought.  I It was about as serious as thinking “I could just grow wings and fly through the rest of the race.”

I also know that there have been races that I have been determined to finish because I didn’t want to tell people that I didn’t.  The fear of failure is honestly often my training motivation when I’m just not feeling it.  I don’t want to not finish a race and have to share that.  Not with my friends and family – they don’t care.  But since I do put all of my training out on the internet, it is scary to think that I might have to also share that I failed.

But you know what?  A DNF isn’t failure.  Things happen.  Injuries, illnesses, weather, heck some days you’re just not feeling great for whatever reason.  A DNF says “I tried, and it wasn’t my day.”

We need to remember to be supportive of people no matter what happens at their races.  We need to remember that we are all in this for fun (with the exception of the pros, who I hope are partly in it for fun), and that it will be more fun if we support each other.  Who knows what drives people to cheat.  But rather than point and laugh, we should offer help and be ready to listen when they want to talk.  Sure, some people may not want help. But simply by supporting others when they are successful and when they may be less successful, maybe we can reduce the number of people who think that they have to cut a course or lie about their finish times.

In sum, be nice to people.  It’s a simple rule.