Saturday, January 25, 2014

Whole30: day 25 & Coast Ride

Last weekend, Rich and I joined about 150 friends and acquaintances to cycle down the California coast from San Francisco to Santa Monica. We were a little concerned about how eating Whole30 would hold up while we were cycling 5-7hrs a day. We had been using Lara bars and Clif Kits Original Bars as our workout nutrition to this point in our Whole30 plan... but the idea of eating 6-10 of these bars a day (they're all date based so the taste and texture is very repetitive even though there are 10 or so different flavors!) was something I could not wrap my head around. Other alternatives (fruit, nuts, sweet potatoes, eggs) were not as portable given the small backpack we were allowed to take with us. Therefore, we decided to add gluten free Picky bars and Bonk Breakers to the mix. Thanks to a new stash of Nuun goodies, I also continued my plan of drinking Nuun for hydration on the bike.

Thanks for keeping me hydrated! #nuunlove
Day 1 took us from San Francisco to Seaside... We decided to push off a little earlier than the slated 8am start with a small group of friends in order to avoid the swarm of 150 other cyclists navigating the city streets.
The overnight crew leaving from CasaBlanco
Beautiful morning on Crissy Field

Riding a few miles with fellow #Betty, Christine Gould.
After stopping for water in Half Moon Bay, Rich, Christine and I were engulfed by the lead group near Pigeon Point. It went without saying that Rich hopped on the back of that group. I tried to tag on the end but the pace was a little hot... however, shortly afterwards, the second group came by and I was able to slide into that pack. The pace was not cushy but it was not nearly as painful as the lead pack. I rode with this group all the way to the lunch stop at Davenport (~75mi). After a quick lunch stop (I just ate a bar!), Rich and I joined up with Mimi to ride the 50 miles remaining on the day.
Jordan & Mimi
It was a gentle ride through Santa Cruz and the little towns south of there before rejoining highway 1 near Moss Landing. Once again, the lead pack came flying by and Rich hooked onto the back. Since I needed more water, I stopped to refill and hooked up with another couple of guys to finish up the last 15 miles of the ride... they were happy that I knew where I was going!
Day 1 125miles, 6.5hrs

We hit Chili's for dinner that night with Hailey, Jess, Christine, Laura and Sonja among others. Dinner included a steak, broccoli and sweet potato fries... this was supposedly Whole30 but in hindsight, I am guessing the sweet potato fries are cooked in canola oil (kind of a don't ask, don't tell policy).
Dinner crew

Chili's "Whole30" dinner

Day 2 of the Coast Ride is by far the hardest and once again, Rich and I decided to push off a little early and enjoy sunrise on the road. We ended up making it almost all the way to Ragged Point before the lead group caught us, even with a couple of decent stops in Big Sur and Lucia for water refills (and coffee!).

Could the scenery be more beautiful?

The ocean was on our right all day.

At Ragged Point, Rich took off with a couple of buddies while I waited for the SAG wagon to hand off some excess clothing. No one else seemed ready to leave so I ended up pushing off solo, thinking a group would be along shortly to sweep me up and carry me to Morro Bay. Unfortunately, it took until Cambria for a group to catch me (I enjoyed a lovely 30 solo miles) so I was getting a little tired at this point. Fortunately the group was not riding too hard so I hooked up with them (some familiar names: Sonja, Chuck, Hendrik and Caroline) for a little while... until I dropped my chain and lost the little group. D'oh!Thankfully, we were just a few miles from Morro Bay at this point so I didn't mind.
Day 2, 127 miles, 7hrs 
Date night in Morro Bay: Whole30 halibut & olive tapenade
On day 3, Rich and I switched over to the AIMP & SagMonkey ride (since they were riding all the way to San Diego and the other group was stopping in Santa Barbara). We had some great food to fuel our ride today... I asked for a little avocado on my omelette.. looks like I got a whole one!

Breakfast omelette in Morro Bay
The group wanted to take the freeway into town (which I hate!) so Rich and I took the *back way* into San Luis Obispo (SLO). I had never gone this way and Rich forgot to note that it tacks on a few extra miles and is bitterly cold. I saw 27f on my SRM as we were riding in one of the valleys. My fingers have never been so painful... I am used to riding in 50f+ weather so this was a shock to my system. We met up with the group in SLO and then rode with them into Guadalupe. My right knee was really bothering me whenever the road headed uphill (back of the knee, hamstring/IT band) and so I chatted with SagMonkey and decided to take a break and help with SAG for the rest of the day.
Nick Nicastro is SagMonkey - best bike concierge ever!
It was fun to hang out and catch up with Nick and a couple of other riders we picked up along the way, and I also truly appreciated how hard he works, keeping track of 30+ riders with differing riding abilities.

On arriving in Santa Barbara, Rich and I grabbed an early dinner (Marmalade cafe) and then went to the movies (American Hustle). It was such a treat to sit and relax in a movie theater after being absorbed in everything cycling for the prior 3 days.
Day 3, 45 miles 2.5hrs
Riding with another fellow Betty, Monica Moreno.
On day 4, the route took us from Santa Barbara to Santa Monica and with just 2000ft of climbing, I was hopeful that my knee would be okay. A good night's sleep (93% on Sleep Cycle) also seemed to have done the trick! After a water stop 25 miles in, Blanco decided that warm-up was over and launched an attack that splintered the 30 strong group. That left just 6 of us (which quickly dwindled to 5) to ride to the lunch stop 35 miles down the road, and then on to our final destination in Santa Monica.
The ladies hanging on to Blanco's wheel

Katya in a sweet Betty Kit

Three Betty's in a row
The pace was fine on the flats but Rich confirmed to me that he wanted to push the rollers so I was left working my butt off over every hill, trying desperately not to get detached from the back. My fellow Betty companions, Katya and Caroline, worked with me to keep the group together and share the pain as Blanco pushed over the rollers. Soon enough we were in Santa Monica, greeted by my father-in-law who had stationed himself to watch for riders nearby our hotel destination.
Day 4, 100 miles 5hrs

We had a few hours to clean up, grab dinner before heading to LAX for a flight home (SagMonkey drove our bikes back later in the week).

Ceviche was my Whole30 meal of choice to celebrate the end of the Coast Ride
It was a fun coast ride, but I was definitely tired and sore by the end of it... it was great to tack on a 4th day, but it helped that I cut back the miles on day 3. Before the ride, coach Matt had told me to ride hard but be smart and avoid digging myself in a hole. I think I accomplished the goal of adding fitness and avoiding a black hole of deep fatigue.

We were able to eat Whole30 during our trip, with the exceptions mentioned above, but it was nice to get home and be able to cook for ourselves and have access to Wholefoods and our other favorite places.

Wholefoods salad bar

Flank steak over ratatouille and green salad

Kale salad with carrots and watermelon radish

Favorite breakfast scramble with eggs and fruit salad
We have just five days left of our Whole30 experiment and I'll be honest that I am ready for it to be over. Rich tells me that he *can't eat another nut*! I also miss having a glass of wine with dinner! The greatest challenge has been the loss of foods that I considered to be convenient (and not necessarily unhealthy) such as yogurt, or using corn tortillas as vehicles for everything from almond butter and bananas to vegetable and buffalo sautés. I am now trying to give some thought to the re-entry to eating dairy, gluten and other foods. I am enjoying the steadier energy levels and my stomach has mostly been settled throughout the experiment (dried fruit and nuts have disturbed it lately!). I also love some of the new breakfast dishes I have created (sausage and sweet potato scramble) even though the recipe ran counter to my former belief of what is healthy (saturated fat in the sausages??)

I am wondering whether we eat Whole30 Sunday-Thursday, or Whole30 before 6pm (thinking of Mark Bittman's book Vegan before 6pm). The challenge, however, is that Whole30 takes a lot more preparation and can be challenging when we are both working, commuting and training... there are not many hours left in the day when I am aiming for 8hrs sleep too! If you have suggestions, send them my way...

Monday, January 13, 2014

Whole30: day 13

We're in quite a rhythm with Whole30 eating right now, almost two weeks in. We have a breakfast routine down with a few options that I can cook up quickly or some things we can grab and go.  If I am looking for something quick and small (e.g. before a 5:30am swim), I'll have a banana with almond or cashew butter or a Kit bar (made by Clif). Note that the Whole30 suggests not to include fruit in a pre-workout meal but I just don't feel like eating veggies at 4:45am!

If I need something more substantial (e.g. before a long ride or after an early Am workout), I've been cooking up scrambled or poached eggs with some form of veggie and/or sausage (Aidell's chicken apple) scramble. My favorite combination is sausage, mushrooms, spinach and sweet potato with half an avocado alongside eggs. Thankfully I made a huge batch of the scramble at breakfast today so I'm all set for tomorrow too. PurplePatch swim and run will require some serious post-workout refueling!

Favorite breakfast: spinach, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, sausage with scrambled eggs and guacamole

Same sausage scramble but this time poached eggs and fruit too
WholeFoods to the rescue: frittata with chicken and avocado
Sweet potatoes, bell peppers, spinach and sausage, eggs and avocado
As for dinner options, we've had a fairly varied menu and we've eaten out more times than I thought we would... and with success! I was worried that I would annoy the servers with all my questions but they tend to "get it". They are clearly used to food allergies and picky eaters in general! I enjoy cooking but on days when my schedule is nutty or on a weekend evening, it's just nice to change the scenery. We realized that steakhouses are one of the best choices... simple piece of meat with some basic sides such as steamed broccoli, sautéed spinach, sweet potatoes. At Izzy's on Saturday night, we even discovered their chimichurri sauce is compliant and delicious!

Great friends still invite you over for dinner when you are on Whole30:
grilled chicken with roasted veggies and a mixed green salad

Spiced chicken and parsnips

Burger, sweet potato fries and sautéed Brussel sprouts

Cauliflower fried rice with shrimp and bok choy
As far as Blanco is concerned, the best meal to date has been my "Whole30 shepherd's pie". My tweaks were to use ground buffalo rather than ground beef (sautéed up with carrots and onions) and sweet potato topping. To get some extra fat in the dish, I crushed up some cashew nuts and added to the top of the pie for some crunchiness, then served some steamed broccoli with a squeeze of lemon on the side... super simple!

Now, after all this Whole30 eating, you might ask, how do I feel? I have definitely noticed that my energy levels are more consistent. I am also not nearly as hungry (#hangry) as I used to be... After a breakfast at 8am, I used to be gnawing on my arm wondering if I could eat lunch by 10:30am or 11am, but now, I feel satiated much longer. I think I am eating slightly more quantity than I used to eat for breakfast (yoghurt, fruit, granola) and it is clearly sustaining me throughout the entire morning. Also, after finishing each meal, I no longer have that feeling of a *big food baby*! After feeling light-headed for the first few days of eating this way, I now feel back to normal... I think increasing food, in particular fat quantity helped. Thanks @gosonja for that!

During and after workouts, I have deviated from the strict Whole30 protocol, as I am using Nuun for hydration and Osmo recovery drink mixed with almond milk for a recovery drink (adding for full disclosure!).

This coming weekend will be a test of our nutrition plan since training volume is set to increase dramatically. Rich and I will be heading down the California coast to Santa Monica on our bikes... I think it's about 460 miles of riding in 4 days. I'm more worried about Rich finding enough food to get through each day's ride. We've been packing bananas, nuts, Lara bars and Kit bars on rides and runs recently but those choices will get old fast this weekend!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Whole30: day six

First of all, I have to confess to a "cheat"... You're not supposed to weigh yourself except day 1 and day 30, but this morning, I stepped on the scale. Over the last five days, I've felt light-headed every time that I stand up and then yesterday, I had a simply awful run. I felt weak from the first step. Rich wondered if I was eating enough...? I feel that I've been eating lots of food and not going hungry, fueling workouts, hydrating and paying attention to recovery. On day 1, the scale read 132.5lbs. This morning it was 127.5lbs.

Five pounds in six days is a lot so it has me worried. I've cooked a lot over the last five days and eaten huge platefuls of food at all meals. I've also eaten lots of snacks: mostly fresh fruit and nuts. Here's a selection of foods we've eaten in the last few days...
Coconut chicken & cauliflower curry with salad of bitter herbs

Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and sliced brown tomatoes
Buffalo and sweet potato lettuce cups (adapted from Feed Zone)
Scrambled eggs with spinach and chicken apple sausage with fruit salad
Poached eggs with smoked salmon and fruit salad
Turkey lettuce cups (adapted from Feed Zone)
This week, I'm going to focus on increasing the quantity of food and watch my energy levels to see how I handle my training schedule on Whole30...  though I think I got off to a bad start by failing to plan/time lunch well today... thankfully I had some roasted vegetables and boiled eggs on hand, so that's what I had. A weird combination in my book, but I'm starting to get used to *weird combinations* so perhaps I'll be more open about food pairing too post Whole30!
Roasted turnips, parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes and boiled eggs!
There are been some positive things I've noticed so far since eating Whole30:
1. Enhanced sensitivity to sweetness - a few times in the last few days I've commented on how sweet things are, e.g. blueberries, cherry tomatoes
2. My hair seems shinier
3. Very settled stomach
4. Blanco is completely on board with it. To be honest, I thought he'd support me for a few days and then say the rules were too complicated to get his appropriate fill of food when bread, rice and pasta are off-limits.
However, there are things that I am really missing, especially in the context of the busy endurance training lifestyle:
1. Chocolate milk after a hard workout - this always felt like a treat so I missed having choc milk after Saturday's 6hr ride
2. Greek yoghurt for breakfast or as a snack - this is my grab and go breakfast so it's a lot more challenging to be up and out the door quickly with a little food in my belly if I can't just grab something to go. The quickest (tastiest) thing I've come up with so far is a banana with a little cashew or almond butter.
3. Social eating and drinking - we've only eaten out once (ahi tuna burger at Umami)... whereas we might have eaten out 2-3x in six days. We have quite a few more social engagements coming up this month that we'll need to work our way around. To figure out if a restaurant choice is Whole30 compliant takes 4-5 questions, and the server doesn't always know so it can include some back and forth conversation with the kitchen too!

Tonight's dinner will be "Cauliflower fried rice"... ( which will be a good test of how Blanco will get through the next 24 days without real rice!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year: experimenting with Whole30

The last two months have been pretty busy in the Blanco household. Couple the craziness of the house move (we still have the contractors at our house on a daily basis!) and the holiday season, and it seemed that Rich and I ate out a lot... Which also meant I drank a decent amount of wine. Just seems to go with the territory!

By the time New Year's rolled around,  I was craving a cleaner diet and knew that I wanted to and needed to cook/eat at home much more than we had been doing. It's better for our health (and wallet) to control what we're eating to a greater degree. We haven't been eating junk (SF has a plethora of fantastic restaurants that create healthy, organic, local dishes) but I wanted to get back into my routine of cooking most nights. Drinking less wine for a while was also rather appealing.

That backdrop brought me to Whole30. I have been following along with Sonja's journey to eating clean/Whole30 and was intrigued. I don't have ailments such as headaches, low energy or specific bad habits I wanted to fix but I do want to see how I feel when I eliminate certain foods from my diet. My elder sister is on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet for medical reasons and I've always wondered if I might feel better on that diet, even though I don't have the same medical need.

Anyway, January 1st was the launch of Whole30 for Blanco and myself. My husband rocks... He's always willing to try anything and support me, so we're in this together for the next 30 days. Since I do 99% of the cooking he knew he'd be eating Whole30 at home anyway ;) However, he's also committed to sticking with it at the office. He even texted me at lunchtime today from the Apple cafe to check the rules before he finalized his lunch decision... Cute!

eggs, chicken apple sausage, spinach and sweet potato for breakfast
pulled pork with salsa verde, Brussels sprouts and sweet potato fries

I have some concerns about following Whole30:
- so much of our social life is typically wrapped up in drinks/dinner as a couple of with friends and family, so I am guessing it will be a lot more movie dates for the next month and inviting friends over for dinner
- how will I handle travel? The coast ride falls in January
- training and recovery? after emailing with Sonja, I'm thinking this is an area where we'll *need to cheat*. We're planning on eating Lara and Kit bars as well as fruit during training but planning to drink Osmo recovery after workouts for optimal recovery

In other news, the holidays were such a fun and special time. Rich and I headed to Tahoe for a few days over Christmas to "get out of town". We had hoped to skate ski, snow-shoe but had to settle for trail running which was still amazing... We desperately need rain/snow in California. We also dressed up and did a little fine dining while we were in the mountains, discovering Jack Rabbit Moon in Incline Village.
Sunset over Lake Tahoe
Champagne cocktails on Xmas Eve.
Christmas Day dinner - love dressing up!
We were barely back in San Francisco after Christmas before heading south to Monterey for the State cyclocross championships where Rich would be competing last weekend. It's a two hour drive to Monterey and it is effectively day 1 of the Coast Ride (7hr bike ride) coming up this month so it was cool to drive highway 1 and remind myself of the fun to come!
Morning run to Lover's Point - great city trail in Monterey

Yes, that's a single-speed cross bike
We were back in San Francisco for New Year's eve and prompted by some Twitter friends, I persuaded Rich to do a 100x100 meter swim with me on New Year's Eve. We picked a favorite swim set: Monsy 100s, after Monica Byrn. We typically do this as a 4k main swim set but this time, Rich suggested we do a pyramid.
- Pick 4 descending intervals for 100m (1:55, 1:50, 1:45 and 1:40) where you can comfortably make the tightest interval with ~ 5secs rest. Then you swim as follows:
- round 1: 1x 100m at each interval = 400m
- round 2: 2x 100m at each interval = 800m
- round 3: 3x 100m at each interval = 1,200m
- round 4: 4x 100m at each interval = 1,600m
- round 5: 5x 100m at each interval = 2,000m
- round 6: 4x 100m at each interval = 1,600m
- round 7: 3x 100m at each interval = 1,200m
- round 8: 2x 100m at each interval = 800m
- round 9: 1x 100m at each interval = 400m
I hope that adds to 10,000 meters!

Olympic Club selfie before the monster swim

After the monster swim, we headed home to host a New Year's Eve dinner... our first dinner party in the new house. We designed the house with open plan living and entertaining in mind so it was fun to see how the flow worked with our guests.
All the ladies wore black! LOL

Great company, great food!

Team Blanco
Happy New Year to everyone. I'm looking forward to a great 2014.