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Secrets of Super Bowl Victory of Another Kind: SOCHILI Gold Medal Chili

For 13 years running, Dr. Jordan Metzl has gathered friends and family on Super Bowl Sunday for parallel competition:  a chili cook off.  1779134_10151812819386377_1287420958_nOn this, the second biggest eating day of the year in America, the good doctor figured he’d add some structure to this annual eat-fest.  And it’s a serious smack down, with a bit of a circus-like atmosphere — those who enter are tasked as much with embellishing their pot of goodness with marketing efforts, that has included the added allure of adorable babies, puppies, entire families dressed in disco garb (Dad as Cher in drag), slick video commercials, Tabasco samples, touts from Sports Illustrated cover girls, and in my case this year, a social media #hashtag.

The past two years, my short rib mole chili — not really a chili, per se, but rather a very rich beef stew — took away 2nd place/honorable mention honors, twice.  I decided to switch things up a bit with a tried and true chili recipe that I’ve tweaked over the years and adapted from the Silver Palate’s Good Times Cookbook’s chicken chili recipe.  My SOCHIli Gold Medal Chili was the crowd pleaser last night and took home the big trophy.  Good things need to be shared!

The magic:  uniform chopping, patience, a very, very big cast iron dutch oven, using very specific and flavorful chili powders, locally brewed chocolate stout beer and locally made secret ingredient.

Warning:  this recipe has HEAT.  Not tongue-scalding hot, but definitely has an undercurrent of spice.  Cut the chili powder back by as much as 50% if you want to dial it back.

Enjoy!

Jeanne’s SOCHILI Gold Medal Chicken Chili (Adapted from the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook) 

ingredients

6 tablespoons olive oil
1 very large yellow onion
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 sweet red peppers, seeded, cored and diced
4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chipotle chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
1½ teaspoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
pinch ground cinnamon
3 whole chicken breast (6 halves), skinned, boned and cut into 1 inch cubes (cut them uniformly!)
2 cans (16 ounces each) tomatoes in puree, chopped
8 ounces pitted ripe california olives, sliced
1 bottle of Brooklyn Brewery Black (chocolate stout)
¼ cup grated unsweetened chocolate from Brooklyn’s own Mast Brothers’ chocolate
salt, to taste
garnishes:
Sour cream or greek yogurt
grated Cabot Cellars Vermont cheddar cheese
sliced scallions
diced avocados (ideally, firm and sprinkled with fresh limed juice)

preparation

Chop all the vegetables:

Onion gets a good dice — approx 1/4″ pieces;
Garlic gets a fine mince;
Jalapenos:  important to remove seeds and white membrane from inside; mince;
Red pepper:  good dice in 1/4″ pieces as with onion;
Cook the veg and spices:
Heat half of the olive oil in a dutch oven over high heat (I use a giant cast iron one, any heavy soup pot will do).
Add the onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Add the red and jalapeno pepper and saute over medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, coriander and cinnamon and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and set aside.
Brown the chicken:
Liberally sprinkle salt and pepper over chicken breast that has been cut into 1″ pieces.  Brown the chicken in batches in the remaining olive oil in another large skillet until just cooked through.   Don’t crowd  — each piece of chicken should touch the bottom of the pan — turn with tongs to brown them.
Put it all together:  
Add the chicken, tomatoes with puree, olives and beer to the dutch oven and stir to combine. Simmer over medium heat for 20-30 minutes. Stir in the grated chocolate and season to taste with salt. Serve with garnishes.

#sochili #teamjeanne #thanksforagreatparty!

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Specialized Bikes Alias Launch: Go Direct to the Rider

T2AliasTaraErinScottWhen Specialized Bikes launched its new Alias triathlon bike, designed especially for the female body’s unique geometry, the brand planned a launch that would go global, reach key influencers and go straight to the rider.  Smart move!  In a live webcast from NYC indoor cycling fitness studio T2 Multisport NYC, Specialized Women’s unit’s Erin Sprague and Scott Holz, the company’s “fit” expert, were joined by triathlon enthusiast Tara Costa, best known to the public from NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.”  Costa (who I think is actually one of the world’s biggest winners;) is now running her own coaching and nutrition company and continues to turn girls and guys everywhere onto a healthy active lifestyle — including activities like cycling and triathlon as a way to get more out of life and have fun.  Webcast archive can be viewed here.

Smart move.  In one fell swoop, Specialized reached a global audience that included dealers, media and — quite unique in the sporting goods world — cycling enthusiasts and riders from all over the world.  Smart because the product is aimed at entry-level or short-course female triathletes — and women make up a full 50% of age group triathlete enthusiasts.  The bike is not intended for professionals — it’s truly designed for the female body and special consideration was made for riders who might want to ride with both “roadies” and triathletes alike (a seat post change will give Alias riders more of a road bike profile).

I was thrilled that T2 — a fitness facility that I support and am involved with — played a part!  And T2 is one of the only places the public can demo the new Alias bike by booking a class and requesting the Alias via info@t2nyc.com.  

 

IRONMAN Lake Tahoe: Toughest IRONMAN course, ever?

This is my account of what many are calling the toughest IRONMAN triathlon race of all:  the inaugeral 2013 IRONMAN Lake Tahoe held Sun., Sept. 22, 2013.photo-3IMG_5662

Warning:  this is a detailed race report — only read if you want to geek out on the details of this race!  It has a playlist, recipes, pix and video!  And, here’s the official race video recap for those who want a quick read.

In July 2012, a few weeks before what was to be my 2nd IRONMAN at the inaugural IRONMAN Mont Tremblant in Quebec, my brother Martin (three years my elder) impulsively signed up for IRONMAN Lake Tahoe (IMLT) 2013 – another inaugural IM race and the first in California in more than a decade.

Thing is, I assured my long-suffering boyfriend Matt that I’d take an IRON break after IMMT.  But the lure of racing with my bro, an architect and father of three from our native Missouri, was pretty strong – it was to be his first !  It would be a great re-bonding experience for us – the two youngest of 8 Meyer kids now flung all over the US.  I could have gone back to a race within reasonable driving distance from NYC e.g. Lake Placid or Tremblant, but Lake Tahoe – at elevation, in gorgeous California – well, that was catnip for my adventure- and challenge-loving self.

For most of the past year, I kept IMLT a secret from most of the people in my life.  I wasn’t sure I was going to even do the race.

MartinJeanne

My brother Martin Meyer and me during IMLT set up at Squaw Valley

The Mont Tremblant race, my 2nd IRONMAN race held in mid-August 2012, was a disappointment (my profuse apologies to that spectator in the town of Old Tremblant that got in the way of my projectile vomit).  My time didn’t improve, I was burned out.  I was just beginning to shift from a dependable corporate career to a more entrepreneurial existence — could I really afford the time or money?  Lake Tahoe:  not exactly the course to pick for a personal record (PR) race or the sub12-hour time I wanted.  I had very little cartilage in my hip and a torn rotator cuff. But the chance to race with my brother?  That kept me in the game.

Over the fall and early winter, I pursued a rather ambivalent and hap-hazard training regimen that mostly included skiing, drinking, rehabbing my arm and going out for a few random and really cold weather (e.g. sub-freezing) long rides with pals Sarah, Gregg and Vlad.  I poured energy into being one of the organizers of Runners for Relief – the post-Sandy relief effort after the NYC Marathon got cancelled.  I focused on learning better swim technique and adapting a stroke that would not  be as excruciating on my still-injured shoulder.

And then in late Jan, I realized I need to get serious again and enlist some coaching support from Christian Struck — a multiple Kona qualifier and lawyer-turned coach who had prepared me so well for IM Lake Placid; he is someone who knew my particular foibles and is very knowledgeable.  I knew he would create a plan right for my strengths and weaknesses and life.  I also trained with a dozen triathlon teammates from Terrier Tri, led by coach Robert Pennino in NYC, most of whom were training for Mont Tremblant 2013.  With a fitness base built from two IM distance races in the two prior years, I changed my training to focus more on harder, shorter workouts, speed work and shorter course races.  I also took advantage of being involved in a new indoor cycling training center in NYC called T2 Multisport NYC and trained a lot on the CompuTrainer, especially for key interval workouts and even some 4-5 hour long rides.

But I still felt ambivalent.  Was it that though?  Or was the calm and the wee bit of wisdom gained from years of training and lots of races?  Because after training harder and shorter and smarter, in the Spring, I started getting faster and even getting on the podium in some smaller races. This stuff was really getting fun again.  I ‘fessed up to the BF that I was doing the race and booked Sept. Lake Tahoe travel with Jason and Lauren — two other Terrier teammates doing the race.  In July, I combined a work trip to SF with a weekend at Wanderlust (thank you Cori Green!) – I call it Yogapalooza — in Squaw Valley with some IMLT course recon to check out the terrain and elevation:  a wetsuit swim, a loop of the course on a rented bike and running along the Truckee River trail.

On my rental road bike (equipped with Shimano 105 – yikes), I met Kelly Birdwell, another hardy soul doing the race who was up training from Oakland.  She had the cue sheet and local intel and graciously invited me to join her as we made our way through all the strange out-and-backs of the course, sans the Martis Camp area – the private neighborhood closed to bike traffic til race weekend.  Surprising takeaway was that the 7200-foot elevation didn’t impact me all that much on the swim, but it kicked my butt on that first Brockway climb.  That trip cemented:  I could do this.  I was psyched!

My brother pointed out the self-organized Facebook page for athletes and supporters doing the race.  Great way to connect with fellow racers and swap info.

Us NYC flatlanders took the advice of many and showed up in Lake Tahoe 9 days early to start to acclimate.  Matt, the BF, unfortunately was going to sit this one out –he’d just done a massive end-over on his 29’er Mountain Bike and broke his collarbone in 4 places, requiring surgery.  So now he’s bionic, but grounded.  And very patient.

Jason scored us a fantastic condo with giant blingy kitchen at Northstar at the base of the Brockway climb.  As our excitement at doing this race in such extraordinary natural terrain grew, so did that icy realization that elevation, weather and terrain (including some recon of the closed-off Martis Camp area) would make this a VERY tough experience. omgweather The “box of chocolates” weather (“ya never know…”) was as uncertain as a Reno roulette wheel.  I was glad I’d thrown in leg warmers and lightweight shoe covers but mad that I’d forgotten gloves.

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Take yoga from Meg if you’re ever in Squaw Valley! She gets endurance athlete as she’s an ultra-runner herself.

We added yoga to our taper by hitting the Wanderlust studio in Squaw and attending IM-specific classes taught by Meg McCraken – an ultra runner and yogi with a wonderful approach to the mind-body relationship.  photo-38Any of the IM racers who had a chance to practice with Meg had a real advantage on race day as she ensured her classes had lots of relevance to endurance racing.  If you’re in Squaw, go to Meg’s class.  Thank you Meg!

Here’s the Spotify playlist inspired by the course).  raceevedinner

I cooked.  Lots.  Was delighted to have an audience of hungry athletes and supporters to feed.  Mostly food that was chock full of antioxidants and good carbs.   And to help out with acclimatization, lots of steak (iron!).  See end of this report for a  few recipes that helped fuel the week.  Having other racers and their support crews over for group dinners was a great way to break the tension and socialize.  There was Jessica – a doctor in residency at Walter Reade Hospital and her Boston marathon qualifying mom Janet, my brother Martin and his wife, Sean; Jason and his partner Aleks, Lauren and her mom.

On a recon climb up Brockway at about mile 40 and/or 90 on the course (the second big elevation climb on the bike course, with about 1200 elevation gained and ending just shy of 7200 feet) the Wed before the race (again on a bike rented from Tahoe City’s Olympic Bike Shop), I ran into local Sacremento/Reno NBC affiliate correspondent Chris Riva, himself a frequent Xterra racer, as he was out doing preview stories in advance of the race.   photo-41 Traffic was stopped by Cal Trans during last minute road work.  I wore  KCRA’s Go-Pro  on the descent (albeit, slowed down considerably by the Cal Trans pace truck in front of me) and the segment aired Thursday.  Thanks Chris!  — aka @KCRARiva  – sign up for next year!).  photo-42Me and my pink armwarmers showed up in a few stories, including this one, which speculated that this might be the hardest IRONMAN course, ever.  Another story here.

As my training partners and I compared notes during race week, the realization of how epic-ly tough this race was going to be began to sink in.  White caps on the lake made it feel like an ocean swim on a couple of outings.  omgweather20 MPH headwinds created a challenge on the relatively flat Kings Beach to Truckee bike course sections.  Maybe it was the elevation but I got winded on what seemed to be flat sections along the beautiful run course on the Truckee River Trail.

A few days out, a few of us drove the still-closed Martis Camp to get a peek at this secret section that would come right before the daunting Brockway climb.  First observation:  gorgeous and no wonder this area is the site of $20 million glass and wood homes and a private ski lift – makes the adjacent Ritz Carlton at Northstar look ordinary.  Second:  climbfest — switchbacks and never-ending hills were similar to Bear Mountain – the 5 mile climb along the Hudson River that us NYC’ers train on for climbs and descents – -with a steeper grade and longer.  This section was broken up by some fast descents – so good, all-around technical cyclists would be rewarded in this area.

By that point, I’d decided to add a at least a couple hours to my finishing time.  This would not be a PR race.  My ego was having a bit of a hard time about that, so every Tweet, Facebook and Instagram post, and every phone call (and um, this race report) was wrapped in the caveat that this was predicted to be the “hardest IM, ever.”   I had been shooting for a top ten age group place and a finish between 12:15 and 12:30 but my lack of elevation training, and my relative weakness in climbing and running plagued me with self doubt.  ‘Just get through it and finish.”

The extra time before race day allowed for some good race day fashion rehearsals.  Race officials, realizing that the conditions would likely yo yo between sub-freezing temps at the start and finish to a possibly hot and sunny middle section (before plummeting again after the sun set), added a clothing drop area at mile 20 on the bike loop.  After a few trial runs of some 7 a.m. wetsuit swims in the lake and changing into bike clothes, I settled on wearing a swim suit under the wetsuit to change into a lightweight short sleeved Craft wool top under a Gore jacket with zip off sleeves, hot pink arm warmers and compression calf sleeves.  With a tendency to get ‘hot foot,’ I stuck with my ‘no socks’ strategy + lightweight shoe covers.  Used pple green Specialized mountain bike gloves:  matched my bike (important!) and would be easier to get on and off  (wondered how I’d manage to fumble with nutrition with the gloves…).   Threw long shorts and socks into bike special needs and planned on changing into running shorts for the run.

photo-4

Preppy IRONMAN?

Friday:  gorgeous day, but windy. – threatening to topple some of the Expo tents.  Athlete’s banquet Friday night was no-frills affair with thoughtfully prepared Ceasar salad, quinoa and chicken (gluten free, thank you!) as well as pasta and cookies.   Voice of IRONMAN Mike Reilly, who had plane trouble earlier, made it.  Inspiring videos.  First timers applauded.  No pageantry.  No-nonsense course descriptions and rule reminders from the head ref.

swimstart

Ruh-roh! Weather looking fierce day before the race; that’s snow in them thar mountains.Saturday, 9/21: 

It’s 6:45 a.m. on the day before race day, 35 degrees.   Standing barefoot on the sand in 25 mph winds and looking out at the snow clouds over the horizon and white caps on the lake, questioning sanity before getting over myself and wading into the lake for few strokes and pick ups and doing a quick change to bike gear and completing my ritualistic 15 minutes each of swim/bike/run.  You know what?  We’ll all be in the same lake and on the same course.  Those sub-freezing winter rides and a little bit of body fat might just keep me from hypothermia.

This was my first two-transition race:  returned to Kings Beach in the afternoon to drop T1 bags and my bike (where the amazing volunteers were braving driving sleet and cold, as snow was accumulating in the mountains). Said ‘see ya’ to my green machine/Guru.   photo-35Realizing that T1 (swim-to-bike) bags would be kept outside on the pavement overnight, I double bagged the contents with extra garbage bags and electrical tape.  Off about 20 miles away to historic Squaw Valley, home of the 1960 Olympic Games, to drop T2 (bike to run) bags, which would be kept elevated on tables to keep them out of mini rivulets of cold rain running through in the changing tent.

bagz

Bag management is part of iRONMAN: morning clothes, bike, run, special needs bags for bike and run.

Back to the condo for final obsession over Special Needs bags to be placed at the halfway points of the bike and run.  This is your chance to pack stuff you may want on the course that would not otherwise be available.  Salty savory snacks are popular for those like me who can’t take a continuous stream of gels and sports drink (I’ve heard some put cooked hamburgers or even chicken-and-peas baby food).  Waiting for me would be Sunflower butter sandwich cut into bites; Advil, extra (and old) Newton running shoes and my secret weapon: GasX – I swear the magic elixir that can be the difference between finishing or not.  But because of the heavy bear population – yep, BEARS – race officials declared that contents of these bags would not be retrievable later; because of the food content, they’d have to be carted off and disposed.   So putting bike shorts and shoes in these bags was not a decision to be taken lightly (in most races, you do get these bags back).

Saturday, race eve, racers including my brother Martin and his friend Jessica, my teammates Jason and Lauren and gathering for another fun pre-race home-cooked meal.  Jason (he’s Italian, natch) made bolognese (made with leftover steak, in both regular and gluten free flavors;), we had pesto pasta, arugula salad and fruit.  preracedinnerJason, doing his second IM, was racing for Challenged Athletes Foundation, which helps physically disabled folks get back into sports with the aid of prosthetic limbs, wheel chairs, etc.

Only at a gathering of triathletes is it normal and even acceptable to have dinner conversation peppered with talk on GI issues, nutrition and hurt-so-good features of active relief therapy and the foam roller; perhaps the most mysterious and boring part of being a supporter is suffering through an evening of triathlon sub culture chat.

Night before:  Bottles of coconut water mixed with SKRATCH electrolyte mix go into the freezer– note:  for a cold weather, only freeze half the bottles, top them off in the a.m.

Race morning:  best pix I’ve seen are from this Triathlete magazine gallery. Up at 3 a.m., breakfast was pre-race mixture of oatmeal, honey, chia, blueberries, plus coffee (all in go containers because the race would not start for another 3.5 hours).  Jason, Aleks and I drove to the Resort at Squaw valley, valet’d the car and joined my bro on the Shuttle to Kings Beach (for athletes and supporters).  It was cold:  low 30’s.  Our T1 bags laid out on the pavement were frozen.  I loosened up the closures and tucked a few last minute items in my bags.  Pumped tires and put bottles, bento box and Garmin 910XT on the bike.

The 2.4 mile swim was to be one of the experimental rolling starts:  you self-seed based on your projected finish time instead of a mass start (I went to the back of the 1:11-1:20 group).  Swimmers crossed under an inflatable arch and waded out in 50 yards of shallow – too shallow to dolphin – before getting in the 62 degree, crystal clear water.  Fog was coming of the lake so no good  using the buoys to sight, but the snow capped mountains ringing the lake were great landmarks.  Lots of people wore booties after they were declared legal by the race directors – hear from most that they felt like booties might have slowed them down.  Kept my swim steady and calm and accelerated a few times to try and catch a better draft.  There’s always the swimmer or two who glom on like a pin on a magnet and I had 3 of them during nearly the entire second loop.  Didn’t wear a garmin but calculated that it would be about 5 minutes off the clock time at the start given the rolling start – 1 hour and 22 min and change.  26th in my age group, 258th female, Not close to my 1:15 in Placid, but better than injury-plagued Tremblant.

Run out was in 20 yards of sand.  Wetsuit strippers were not getting much action since most racers kept their wetsuits on in the changing tents.  And the scene inside the tents?  Think disaster film:  steam rising, bodies everywhere writhing out of neoprene.  Some half laughing/half crying.  Hushed, calming voices of the volunteers (who were AMAZING) helping athletes in and out of clothes.  Full changes for everyone into dry, multi-layer, long sleeved cycling gear.   I put my Terrier Tri race kit on underneath layers because I anticipated late morning/afternoon temps in the high 60’s/low 70’s. Long-ish run out of transition into bike area, where at this race, you retrieve your own bike.   T1 time was an, ahem, leisurely-seeming 13:29.

Bike out and mount on Hwy 89 for the first loop.  Saw one dude riding out with his wetsuit still on! First out and back into Carnelian Bay for bike aid station:  on prior ride, I thought there was a steep, short climb in this section but learned it was just a cul-de-sac – no climb – hurray!  Then, onto the first climb, Dollar Hill, a steady, mile-long climb with great views of the lake behind you.

photo-6Kept it very conservative, keeping bet. 170 and 180 watts and tried to cap climbing at 250-280.  Was so cold it felt like I was just spinning out – keeping cadence high, trying to warm up.

Didn’t drop any clothes at the mile 20 drop b/c I knew climbs would be hot but, descents would still be freezing.  My hot pink accessories and apple green Guru TT bike made me look like I was auditioning to be on the cover of the Preppy Ironman Handbook, but my ensemble did the trick.

Crowds at Squaw and through the town of Truckee were fun and boisterous.  All the volunteers and the bike stations were very well trained – saw no dropped bottles or foiled hand offs. The volunteer costumes were great – snowcreatures, superheros, tutus, animals – incuding bears! – disco bling, all in great spirits.  Thanked every volunteer I saw. We love you, volunteers!

Warmed up.  Felt lower extremities again..  Around mile 35:  The first Martis climb:  I was bracing for it and kept it dialed back, knowing that I’d be back doing the same tough climb in another 45 miles.  Wearing gloves meant I was having trouble accessing my nutrition on the bike – carefully chopped up bonk breakers – so that’s probably why I was feeling a little fuzzy though this section.  Pulled over to access a Power Fruit gel before the Ritz Carlton entrance descent into the next climb.  Good plan.  greenmachine2Then Brockway and another 1200 feet of climbing.  Low gear time and glad I was using a compact crank and an 11/28 cassette, but regretted not going for an 11/32!  Knew that many of those passing me would be toast in a few hours, so kept it steady.  Funny signs, e.g. “God knows if you’re drafting.” At the top, a 60-something, very fit dude in boots and a Speedo waving a flag encouraged us to get ready to go fast into the descent.  Brockway climb #1, done.  Started a mostly no-brake bomb down the next two miles — saw MPH up to 48.  Glance at watch on second loop confirmed this would not be a PR race for me:  around 2:37 at 45 miles, what I’d usually do in a 56 mile split. Kept next loop pretty consistent with the first.  Fortunately, my frozen bottles were beginning to thaw enough that I could extract liquid out of them.

Another Martis Camp, another Brockway – keeping it together and very conservative.  “Don’t worry about not PR’ng, just set yourself up for a good run.”  I see racers dropping back, spent.   Past Kings beach again to the bike finish at Squaw Valley.  To my chagrin, I realize that my bike split will be a full hour longer than in past races:  if I don’t pick it up a bit, my time will begin with a “7.”  NOOOOOO!  New mantra:  “Finish with a 6, Finish with a 6.”  While I could have been spinning out my legs a bit more to prep for the 26.2 mile run to come, I was gunning for a sub-7.  Made it by about 2 minutes.  Bike split for the 112 miles:  6:58:17, moved up 20 spots to #6 in age group; moved up 170 spots to 88th female and 482 slots to #703 overall.  Wow, this race *was* tough.

Church-like in the T2 tent compared to earlier in the morning.  Half dozen other female racers and great volunteers.  Mia, who worked with me, is signed up for IMAZ later this fall, her first.   She was GREAT.  Quick change into run shorts, same tri top and hot pink arm and calf sleeves.  Tucked wool craft shirt and a headlamp in my back pocket – the headlamps were strongly advised for the run  in what would be pitch black and colder conditions after the sun went down over the mountains at 7:15-7:30 ish. And, would potentially scare off the bears!  Tried to force down a bit of sunflower butter sandwich.  Ran out and high-fived with the throngs lining run out chute in Squaw.

Felt pretty good.  I’d done this before.  Dialed back the effort after seeing a 7:30 pace.  Walked the short steep hill at the resort near where spectators were rocking in a ski chair lift, watching and drinking beer at about mile 3.  Long 9 mile loop out along the gorgeous Truckee River trail.  Take in Coke (Tri-crack) and one pretzel on each aid station; later adding chicken broth and the odd gel.

I realize:  I’m doing okay.  Martin’s wife Sean confirms he’s a few minutes ahead of me and that Jason is not far behind him.  Happy they’ve made it through so far.    I pass my brother and high five – he’s probably 1.5 miles ahead of me on the run at this point and looking great.

The 13.1 mile/halfway mark is out here on the Truckee River trail – such a great feeling to know there’s only 13.1 miles to go.  It’s about 5-6 miles more into the village for lap one (the longer one), agonizingly close to the finish.  Now, another short lap of about 7 miles to go.  “Strong, strong, focus, focus” is my mantra.  It’s getting chilly again, and the sun is threatening to set, but I’m moving so staying relatively warm; incentive not to stop and walk.  Race organizers start passing out headlamps to those who don’t have them yet.  I get mine out and hold it in my hand, before I need it.  “You’re not wearing that headlamp on your head,” I say.  “Not in this race.”  15 minutes later, it’s so dark, I kick a traffic cone and nearly do a face plant.  I realize that if I don’t put the headlamp on, I won’t be able to see a thing besides the eerie bobbing up and down of lamps and reflective tape on other racers in front of me.  It’s kind of good that I can’t see what’s more than a foot in front of m; eliminates the mental games at this time in the race.  I’m holding between 8:45 and 9 min miles with walks in the aid stations and up some of the hills.  I could push it, but why?  It’s time to JUST FINISH.

I hit the Squaw parking lot a second time, just past the ‘disco’ aid station.  “It’s almost 8 pm” says a spectator – time to book it!  Music’s blaring, Mike Reilly’s sounding a bit hoarse.  photo-5Down through the chute>  woosh!  FINISH.  I immediately look down at my watch — typical!  A ‘catcher’ wraps me with a mylar blanket.  Another drapes the medal around my neck and hands me water and chocolate milk. My time doesn’t start with a “12” but no shame in that, I guess — at least I finished before 8 pm.  I don’t really even hear Mike Reilly call my name.  I get ushered to the massage tent (thank you student masseuses; I think you’re quite ready for professional life, you rock!).  I see my brother, shivering and shaking like a leaf but jubiliant – finished his first in 12:38 and change!  Nice going, bro!, so proud of you!

9940155165_bbb0b5ff1f_zPost race, a rag tag bunch of us, draped in mylar, clutching our overstuffed transition bags, dragged ourselves to the lobby of the Resort at Squaw Valley and commandeered the area around the fireplace to thaw out.  Sister in law Sean brought down a cooler full of adult beverages — that cup of California Korbel was the first alcohol that’d been down my gullet in 6 weeks.  We made lots of new friends from as far away as Australia (Dave Norton!) and as near as 30 miles away (Kristen).  No question:  there’s an odd bond among endurance racers and the ones that involve M-Dot in particular.

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Finisher jackets at the base of Squaw the next morning.

Not even close to a PR but I am elated to be done.  Doing this race and even toeing the start line is a badge of honor.  Funny personal bright spot:  I did have my best IM run time ever, and although I usually get dusted on the run, I only dropped one place in the run to finish 7th in my age group, and gained 4 slots to be 84th overall female and 591th out of the entire field of 1719 male and female finishers.

My results.  7th AG, 84th Female, 591st overall out of 1719 finishers.  Not a PR, but a badge of honor, certainly.

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Should you do this race?  If you love racing in a beautiful place and want a good destination that will keep non-racers happy, DO IT.  If you like a challenge and are more interested testing your mettle on a hilly, mountain-resort-type race, DO IT.  If you’re more about being tough than being fast, DO IT.  If you want a particular PR or a flat, fast, warm course, come out and volunteer here then do IM Arizona, Florida or Cozumel (not to take anything away from those races).

For now, these stats seem to point to IMLT being the toughest IRONMAN ever or certainly rivaling the IM St. George course in 2012, the last full IM course there.  The DNF rate was 20% — 20% of those who started the race on Sunday did not finish or did not make cut off times, and a further 21% of those registered didn’t start at all.  More stats here:  http://www.runtri.com/2013/09/ironman-lake-tahoe-2013-results-analysis.html

MARTINJEANNEMIKEREILLY

The Meyer sibs with Mike Reilly, the Voice of IRONMAN.

Also, Mike Reilly is a seriously nice, cool guy. We’re lucky to have an ambassador like him in this sport.

Nutrition:  My plan worked out.  Aimed for 300 calories an hour.  Two bottles of Zico coconut water mixed with SKRATCH endurance mix, plus one bottle water on the bike.  Turbo Shot Blocks — espresso 2x caffeine – every 30 min.  Bonk breakers chopped into little pieces.  Salt tabs.  GasX on standby (pre-emptively took one near the bike finish and at mile 6 on the run).  Grabbed water and a few sips on on-course PERFORM drink at aid stations. Few bites of sunbutter/gluten free bread & honey sandwich.  On the run, downed coke every aid station and forced a gu or a Cliff shot (margarita flavored!) every 30 min.  At the 13 mile mark, started drinking the hot chicken broth in addition to coke.

Recipes for race week:

Here are some recipes for good stuff to eat in days leading up to the race.  Full of anti-oxidants and good carbs and iron (key at elevation).  Remember to dial back on the fiber 48 hours before the race.

Keep Tahoe Blue smoothie:

I bunch tuscan kale, middle stems removed

1 apple, cored with peel on

1 pint *blueberries

1 cup *strawberries, cored

1 ½ cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk – more to adapt consistency.

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons chia seeds

12 toasted *almonds

*preferably organic

Put all ingredients in Vitamix (or sturdy blender) in order listed; pulse til the bigger chunks break down and add more almond milk if necessary.  Blast on high for two 15-seconds bursts (careful not to ‘cook’ it by keeping it on high).  This stuff will get you rev’d up in the morning!

Brockway Sweet Potato Baked Fries

Preheat two cookie sheets in a 500 degree oven

4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into uniform ‘julianned’ pieces (e.g. ¼” x 4”)

3 tablespoons Olive oil (ideally in a spray infuser)

Sea salt

Optional:  ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder and 1 teaspoon ground cumin9940092604_bf3bb1ed30

Toss ingredients in a bowl; lightly distribute oil to coat the potatoes with olive oil and spices

Remove preheated cookie sheets, use Olive oil spray on the bottom surface OR line the bottoms with parchment paper.  Evenly distribute the potatoes to form one layer

Bake for 5 minutes in 500 degree oven and use wide spatula to flip them; check potatoes in another 5 minutes and continue flipping until many of them are carmelized.  Remove from oven and cool on rack covered with paper towels before serving.

IRONMAN Tri-Tip steak with portabello mushrooms

2 lb tri-tib steak

salt and pepper

portabello mushrooms – I lb

1 shallot, chopped finely

optional:  ½ c dry red wine

Preheat oven to 475

Pat steaks dry, then rub with salt and pepper.

Heat r tablespoon oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Sear steaks on all sides, about 3 minutes total. Transfer skillet to upper third of oven and roast 9 to 10 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to a plate and let rest 5 minutes.  Use roasting pan and juices on top of the stove to cook shallots til transparent, add the mushrooms and ½ cup of liquid, e.g. red wine or broth.  Simmer until ready to serve steak – serve on the side.

7200-feet Elevation Arugula salad with beets and feta

Baby Arugula

4 medium beets, peeled

Dressing:  juice of one lemon + 1/3 c olive oil, shaken vigorously in a jar

pre-heat oven to 475

Quarter beets, drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the top, wrap in foil pouch, place in hot oven.  check done-ness n 20 minutes, discard foil and let beets cool.

Toss washed and dried baby arugula with dressing, ¼ cup crumbled feta or goat cheese and 4 cooled, peeled roasted beets. Serve

Must be Nuts For Racing Quinoa with kale,  squash and pine nuts

Quinoa

Two cups kale, middle stems removed, chopped

I cup cooked squash or sweet potato

½ c toasted pine nuts or chopped walnuts

Prepare 1-2 cups Quinoa as directed

Remove Quinoa from heat as per cooking instructions; add the kale and squash and put the lid on the quinoa for 10 minutes to ‘steam.’  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add nuts, serve.

3D Printers and Rarified Air of Bloggers at AltSummit

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So honored to be at #AltSummit, the mostly design-and-lifestyle oriented blogger conference in Salt Lake City put on by Gabby (@DesignMom) and Sara Urquardt (above).  The assemblage is an amazing mix of style, drive, energy and entrepreneurialism.  

My mild obsession with 3D design and printing has now just gone full blown, inspired by ex-Wired editor and now CEOof 3D Robotics Chris Anderson.  BBZ1P8CCQAEui9A.jpg-large

The evening ended with a CLUE-themed party (genius way for home design sponsor integration with rooms devoted to Billiards, a Library, etc — all potential crime scenes of course.  Party goers donned their finery (in my case, I was among the Peacocks).  937f2d80669511e2917a22000a9f1587_7

 

 

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Hi, it’s your friend Triathlon. Remember me?

It’s a couple weeks into 2013 and all around me, friends and teammates and other  triathlon buffs are starting to ramp up the training, dusting off their indoor trainers, hitting the weight room, and starting to ramp up the volume. … Continue reading

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Ch-Ch-Cha-Chia

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It was a star player in the best seller, “Born to Run,” and its magic, thought to be a key to the astonishingly amazing running performance from the Tarahumara Indians from Mexico.  Many of my triathlon friends fell in love … Continue reading

If it’s a January Saturday, it’s Indoor Trainer Time

Nothing can beat an indoor trainer session with a good coach sticking it to you with a challenging skills and drills workout for a couple hours. Being on your own bike, on an indoor trainer, along with my Terrier Tri teammates, packs in more of a workout than being outdoors or on a spin bike.

My biggest challenge is keeping to a super face cadence.  I can mash a big heavy gear with the best of ‘em but make me hold 115 for a coupla minutes and I am suffering.

But man, oh, man, I think high cadence drills are hugely effective.  It helped today that I was in a row flanked by superstar triathlete Christine Kenney, who was the overall Age Group champ (and beat pro triathletes) at Ironman Cozumel with a sub-10 hour finish; and Lucy Danziger, a fun and inspiring training partner, a fierce competitor and Editor-in-Chief of Self Magazine.

We did a brick (bike to run), with a 40 minute run off the bike, in high winds and cold temps.  I’m just coming back off a stress fracture.  Foot felt okay but my cardio fitness has a little to be desired.  It’s quite satisfying to  hit the Garmin at the end of a workout like that, this early in the season.

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The Best Gifts Get Personal

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For Christmas, Hannukah and New Years’ gifts, I infused various staples like extra virgin olive oil, white vinegar and vodka  (well, I consider vodka a staple, anyway) with Meyer lemon peel and slices, and/or herbs like Rosemary (for the oil) … Continue reading

The GreenEye Express

What a week! Big deals to announce, work-related parties, no sleep, missed workouts and redeye flights back from 36-hour west coast trips. Man, I need a detox and some fuel. This is a job for the mighty Vitamix! I’ll call this the GreenEye Express.

1 banana (ideally, frozen), halved (When I get a bunch of bananas, I peel some and throw ‘em right into the freezer for such occasions, or do same for very ripe ones).
1 cup ice cubes
1″ chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
kale with inner stem removed, chopped roughly — about 1.5 cups packed
ripe fresh pineapple — 1.5 Cups cored and cut into chunks
1 green apple, cored
Add fresh basil or parsley if you have it (I didn’t this a.m.)

Put into a blender (ideally a high speed Vitamix) in the order described above: start with the banana, then kale, etc.
you might need to add some water or juice if you’re using a blender.
start the Vitamix on low and gradually increase speed for a minute, then hit the high speed function and let’er rip for a minute.

Enjoy!

Good, Good for You (and others) and Low Cal Gift Idea

I find this is the time of year when I suddenly take my nose off the grindstone for a second to realize that I’m mid-stream in holiday mode and, well, a bit behind in my gift-making, acquiring, wrapping, shipping and giving enterprises.  I'll give to yours if you give to mine.

Just now, on a board of directors call for Mouse.org, I was reminded by a great idea one of my fellow board members suggested last year:  The Charity Swap.

I know I am not alone among friends and colleagues in my lack of need for a) additional calories in the form of yummy, decadent gifts or b) additional ‘stuff,’ no matter how well-meaning or useful or pretty.  What is important, at least to me, this time of year, is remembering what life’s all about.  It’s time to slow down, reconnect with friends and family.  It’s time to direct generosity towards others who might really, really, REALLY need stuff.  Like a good education or a warm bed or nutritious food or a research funds for a cancer cure or a prothesis for a challenged athlete.

Again, this year, I’m asking friends and family to hold the chocolate, perfume and bling and instead, consider giving to a charity I care about.  In addition to mouse.org, I’m also involved with The Grammy Foundation, which among other things, makes sure talented students have resources to develop as artists, at a time when many public schools have had to drastically cut back on arts education.

In return, I’m delighted to make a donation to causes that are near and dear to friends and family.

Why not try it?  If you’re not ready to go cold turkey (and let’s face it, I would not refuse certain beautifully wrapped parcels and their contents), try it in lieu of your office secret santa, or stocking stuffers, or your book club.

Here.  I’ll make it really easy for you, and save you a trip to Barney’s.

Donate to The Grammy Foundation here.

Donate to Mouse.org here.

Also, check out this site for other ideas about causes that might resonate.