My thoughts on da grub

**Disclaimer**Just my thoughts/personal experiences. I have a psychology degree. Not nutrition. Although I am currently taking an online course from Stanford called “Child Nutrition and Cooking” so my roommate and I won’t starve when we head out into the real world in a couple weeks. 🙂

I want to write about the importance of nutrition in racing because I have personally seen how it can affect someone in an extremely positive way.  During my freshman and sophomore year in college, I did not care at all about what I threw into my body.  I never really had to worry about it before, so I did not figure I did back then.  I worked hard in triathlon and school, but I never realized that what I was eating (or not eating) was the main reason for my energy levels, grades, and athletic performance. I was a consistant 2:30-olympic-distance racer no matter how much or how little training I did. 

It was not until I signed up for Ironman Wisconsin back in 2010 that I decided to look more into other variables that could affect my racing.  I figured that spending $700 on an event warranted myself doing everything I could to make that race fee worth it. 

I talked to the body-building coach at the Academy. I talked to crossfitters, triathletes from back home, my “hippie-Aunt” who lives in Maui…

In the end I just decided that the whole protein-loaded-diet craze was a good way to start. I replaced a lot of carbs with lean meats and protein shakes.  I still continued my meals of straight chocolate and trail mix though.  Just by incorporating more protein versus breads and noodles I was able to win Ironman Wisconsin and qualify for Kona. I felt significantly better each day in school and my grades skyrocketed. (relatively). I decided that my diet was what caused my success at my first Ironman, therefore I wanted to improve it even more. 

I decided to try the Paleo diet in September of 2011 because it was the new thing back then.  It didn’t seem too hard to follow, and after reading “The Primal Blueprint,” it had a lot of valid points. The first couple of weeks were really hard. I have an awful thing for snacks and junk food. However, after cutting it out for a while it was easy. I stocked up on chicken breast, cooked veggies, salad, and fish from the mess hall every chance I got. Luckily at USAFA we are allowed to have refrigerators in our rooms when we are juniors. I could store all these Paleo, or fresh, foods in my room in Tupperware. 

I invested in Paleo and hoped it would pay off for the 2012 Collegiate National race. It did. I dropped 16 minutes off of my time from the year before, and I made it to the podium at a national race.  Got my first opportunity to accept a “pro” status in the triathlon world, and I felt so driven after that race. 

School-wise, I was putting in three times as many hours into triathlon, yet my grades were still rising.  I never took naps during the day anymore, and I was staying awake in classes.  My teachers even took notice to my good performance in classes. 

Yet again, I blame my diet. 

Ever since then, I have been on Paleo. I still am a big peanut and chocolate lover, but for the most part I eat all fresh foods. I have to make sure I get extra carbs in, especially at this time while I am getting back into Ironman training, but it is not too hard. It all resulted in a 3rd place finish at Kona, another podium-finish at Nationals, and my qualifying for the Air Force team with the opportunity to race in the Armed Forces Nationals on June 1st. I think my body fat has literally dropped 15% since thinking about my diet as well, if you’re interested in that benefit. Definitely all worth it. 

I cannot wait to be out in the real world, out of the dorms, with my own kitchen so that I can cook my own meals and be creative.  However, for now here is an example of what I like to eat on a normal day:

0445 preworkout bfast: chicken breast, almond butter

0800 post-workout bfast: coffee, banana, tuna

1100 lunch: big spinach salad with sunflower seeds, tomatoes, turkey, craisins

1400 lunch #2 (preworkout meal): salad numba 2 🙂 

1800: snack, veggies + eggs

2000: pre-bed usually chocolate, trail mix, carrots…etc

 

Well, that was long. Thanks for reading 🙂 

http://fastpaleo.com/category/salads/

http://primalblueprint.com/

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The “why” in what you do

I was down at the pool for swim #2 of the day, and the lifeguard told me that my sport was way too much of a time-commitment and he didn’t understand why I kept doing it.

Got me to thinking, why do I do it? (Serve in the Air Force, go to the Academy, train 24/7, say no to the chocolate donuts!!…)

Gotta have a reason to work hard. Find your reason inside of you, and that is how you will get better. I think that other people are my main motivation.

1) People at my school telling me that I motivate them 🙂 Image

2) My sisters looking up to me as their hero, wanting to follow me into the Air Force Academy.

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3) My sponsor sister writing her 7th grade poem that had to be about a famous person…about me.

It’s copyright, can’t post it, she’s going to become a poet.

4) A guy on my team handing me a letter the night before nationals showing that he really didn’t think I was just another stupid girl. With Cooties. (yay 😉 )

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Many more…find your inner motivation!!!

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Collegiate Nationals Recap (finally)

For the olympic-distance race at Nationals this year, it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to say about it. I went from being disappointed, to ecstatic, to disappointed, to finally just moving on and getting back in a positive mindset to get ready for another race that I have in about 3 weeks. I grew a ton from the whole weekend, and I am so grateful for the experience that I received for my final race as a collegiate athlete.

On Friday night after the draft-legal race, I was trying to forget about it and was just ready to get Saturday over with. I had a lot of doubts in my mind because of the crappy feelings (lactic-acid baby) I had all in my body. This probably was mistake number one. The biggest thing that this race taught me was that your own mind has everything to do with your performance. I kept telling myself that other people were racing two days in a row as well, and I just had to suck it up and do the dang thing just like they were going to. I ate a ton of protein that night as well as drank about a gallon of Powerade Zero (favorite drink) to try to offset some of the remnants of the previous race that were floating around my body.

Megan and I got all of our gear ready that night after the athlete dinner at Dave n Busters. We stuck our stickers all over our bikes and helmets, taped our gels onto our bike frames (GU Vanilla and Coffee-type flavors are my FAVORITE) and stuck the silly race number tattoos all over our bodies. We at least thought we looked cool.

We also got to have a team meeting with our awesome officers-in-charge, as well as our very own, Coach Joanna Williamson.  She worked at USAFA during our 2011-2012 season and led us to an amazing finish at the 2012 Collegiate Nats. She was definitely the biggest contributor to my improvement on my bike. When she left, we were all sad, but SHE CAME BACK and we had her at nationals. Seeing her at the meeting was awesome! It was like we never missed a beat. (Side note, her website gives a lot of info on her and her training plans that you can take advantage of http://xtyogaaustin.com/home.htm ) Our other officers, especially Colonel Freddie Rodriguez and Colonel Scott Thatcher were there and have put so much of their spare time and effort into our team. All in all, just the team meeting was emotional for me because I knew it was my last one.

Back to bed for Megan and I….After a little bit of pillow-talk to motivate each other, I don’t know when the last time I fell asleep that quickly was.

Before I knew it my alarm was going off. My ringtone in the mornings is One Direction. Naturally.

We had to get to the race site early to put our bikes in transition before the guys’ race started, so we had about 3 hours to wait until our start-time. This in itself was tiring, but it was SO exciting to watch our amazing guys team kick butt out on the course. It also gave me a chance to ask around and see what the course was like and what to look out for. Besides the predicted 93 degree heat, it was looking promising. But after coming from blizzardy Colorado, who could complain about a little heat?

We tried to stay off of our feet as much as we could, but you all know how that never works out. It is hard to wake up in the morning ready to race and knowing what you usually eat but then having to wait a long time until you actually race. I think I ended up having 3 “pre-race meals.” Lots of peanut butter, Honey Stinger waffles, bananas, and Gatorade. Yum.

Once the guys all started finishing I got all girly and emotional again. When Lee finished in sub 2 hours, I definitely was crying with him under my sunglasses.  He has been through so much and it has been amazing just watching him work his butt off all year and have a great race. He definitely deserved it. The rest of the senior guys were also kicking butt out there. The times they were throwing down were just unbelievable. It was definitely getting us girls pumped up like crazy.

Finally, it was time for our race. We did a little pump up cheer before Erin, Megan, and I set out to hop in the water for Wave 1. I was so nervous!! I did not want to let my team down. I know that we all had our sights set on getting our entire team on that podium together. This meant that each of us had to pass every girl possible in order to get those points. Every. Point. Counts. This IS a team sport.

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The gun went off, and we made our way through the mile swim. I felt pretty good…pretty tired. But I happened to choose just the right position at the start that I had no one touching me at all. This helped mentally just get out there and start cruising. I tried out drafting for the first time this race and it ended up working out to my advantage. I attached onto the back of some girl and never let go. She pulled me almost that whole mile and I finished the swim in about 20 minutes without feeling tired at all.  When we got out of the water, the concrete strip was completely packed with spectators screaming. It was a really good feeling. I also spotted Col Scott Poteet, who has helped me out all season, with his GoPro. It was kind of funny seeing him with it on a big stick trying to video me.

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I have always been awful at transitions, and my guys team knows that. They literally were standing and yelling at me right by the row that my bike was in. I am pretty sure I run into every transition area looking lost. I still have to sit down to get my wetsuit off; someday I will be more graceful at that.

The bike was the part of the race where my mind kind of punked-out on me. I was feeling great until a referee pulled up beside myself and the girl in front of me and snapped a photo. Right then I got the idea in my head that I had gotten a 2minute penalty. The rest of the race this sat with me, and I got really distracted. When I would start to hurt, instead of sucking it up all that went through my mind was that I had gotten a penalty, so why make it hurt even more?  Even with all of the sharp turns and constant slowing down/speeding up, all I could think about was that damn penalty. (By then I had convinced myself that it was a penalty.)

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The negative mindset went on to the run, and the top-4 girls did not help with it.  We were exactly the same distance apart the entire race.  I could see them up ahead but every time I would try to surge, it seemed like so would they. None of us could make any progress on the other!

I am pretty sure there was no milemarker until mile 4, so that was mentally tough as well. When you feel like you should almost be done then find out there are still two miles, the toughest miles, it sucks! Somehow we pulled through and finished it, like we always do. The 2nd through 5th girls all hugged at the finish line, and I was so grateful to be a part of that. I have always seen pictures of situations like this at finish lines, and I have always wished that I was fast enough to be in that to see what it really felt like. I still cannot believe it was actually me.

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A 5th place finish was not really what I wanted. My goal was 1st undergrad, which I accomplished, but for some reason it still didn’t feel like it was enough. Then, I figured out why. I had that stupid negative Sam in the back of my mind that literally prevented me from giving all that I had inside. It still felt like I was giving it my all, but I know that if I had just let loose I would have been able to do better.

After all the girls finished, who of course did awesome 🙂 we went back to the hotel to get ready for the awards ceremony. It was not until I found out that our USAFA Triathlon team got SIXTH PLACE as a team in the nation that I was ecstatic about this race. I immediately forgot about all of my doubts about myself and was just purely happy for my team.  We have gone through so many hardships, from almost being cut from a club team, to losing members, to breakups and makeups to getting 6th in the nation. I am so proud of my team. They work their butts off all day and night..over 20 credit hours in school and then putting in over 3 hours a day of training…they deserved that overall finish.

Overall, National 2013 was the best one yet. I grew as a person, and the confidence in myself to leave the team and become an AF officer was lifted. I learned that having a negative mindset does affect a race way more than you could ever imagine, but I also learned that your team can pull you through.

oh..didnt get a penalty…

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