Thursday, September 16, 2010

A ride down memory lane...

First, I need to share what we had for dinner last night. It was so simple and delicious that I demand you:  if you're sitting around wondering what the hell you're going to make for dinner, to follow this recipe from, and then thank me later. They are BBQ Portobello Quesadillas.

I woke up this morning with the plan to ride 24 miles on my bike, which would be the longest I have ever rode. However, instead of going my normal route of North on the Pinellas Trail, I decided to go South towards the downtown St. Pete area. Whoa, the crazy things I do in my life. I tell 'ya! I'm a crazy impromptu woman.


For breakfast, I had one cup of plain greek yogurt with one banana, 1/2 cup raw oatmeal, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds, drizzle of honey, and a tiny scoop of the chocolate avocado pudding that I made last night. Seriously. I've had this breakfast before, but I've determined it's the best pre-ride breakfast because it is so high in protein, the perfect amount of carbs, and fiber. I wish I took a photo. Not that it was spectacular looking, but I loved it so much.

Enough gawking over breakfast...

I packed up the bike and off I went. Normally, I start at Mile Marker 7 and the numbers go up from there, but today, I began a little before 6, and the numbers went down. I wasn't sure what would happen after mile marker 1 since they have just recently extended the trail passed 34th St. and into the downtown area.

Well, sadly, the mile markers end. And since I don't have a computer on my bike, I had no idea how far I was going. I ended up at Tropicana Field, and then 1st Avenue south, smack-dab in the middle of downtown. I almost turned back, but I figured I went this far, I might as well go drive by the water.

It was gorgeous, really. The wind was kind of fierce on the way there, and once I made it to a bench, the water was choppy and tons of boats were anchored, swaying back and forth.

I decided to stop and eat a granola bar.

Honestly, I thought I must have gone further than 24 miles. There were tons of stops due to the red lights, so I think that's what made the ride longer. The best part of this ride is that it took me through a lot of areas that I grew up in. I drove over the bridge from my elementary school where I used to play with one of my best childhood friends. I drove past my aunt's old house, past my high school, past the place on the trail that we built a fort in the tree, etc. It kind of brought me back.
 During the ride, I wasn't really pushing myself too hard; mostly taking in my surroundings and reminiscing about growing up. That's why I love to ride. I'm still so new to running that I can't just zone out, but with cycling? I can think of a million different things besides my bike! I mean, I grew up riding my bike. It was like an additional body part. Probably about 6 years ago, my step Dad left his bike out one night, and I decided to bring it in for him, but ended up riding it around the block. At the time, I was about 19-20 and I hadn't rode a bike since childhood. It was a crisp, fall night and I remember feeling so alive ("And in that moment, I swear were infinite"). It was so FUN. It was one of those gleeful moments when you felt like laughing out loud, and screaming, "weeee!!!"  I missed that feeling of being free, flying down the road with the wind blowing through my hair. And after that night, Mirza and I both bought cheap cruisers and we enjoyed riding at night. Those were some of the best times. And that is why I love to ride my bike!!!

Back to the ride...

 I did go through a bit of a sketchy part of the 'burg, but it didn't bother or scare me.

When I finally made it home, I checked my ride on and it was 20 miles! It's all good. I'll take it.

And then I inhaled some more quesadillas from last night with a side of broccoli slaw that was dressed in greek yogurt, honey, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder. And an orange.

Dessert was a graham cracker with chocolate avocado pudding slabbed in the middle straight from the freezer...

Is there an activity from your childhood that you miss? Is it something you could bring back to experience as an adult? Share!:)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What's next?

For the past week and a half, I've been keeping myself busy. I was riding off my post-triathlon high and I decided to take advantage. Whenever I have those bursts of energy and motivation to get moving, I don't ignore them!

This is a break down from the week:
Sunday: Triathlon
Monday: Upper body workout at my gym
Tuesday: Work 12.5 hours
Wednesday: Biked 14 miles, Swam 400 meters
Thursday: Ran 1 mile, Swam 600 meters, Body pump class at gym
Friday: Biked 20 miles, walked leisure 1.2 miles with Mirza. Did initial "100 Push up challenge test."
Sat/Sun: Worked 12.5 hour shifts
Monday: Rest/Day 1 of 100 Push-Up Challenge.
Tuesday: "Rest"--ie: be lazy
Wednesday (today): Ran 2 miles, Day 2 of 100 Push-Up challenge later tonight...


I've been so busy with all of these things, but if you look closely--no yoga....what? I had it scheduled in, but kind of let it slide. *slaps hand* Bad future yoga teacher, bad!

The thing is, after my body pump class on Thursday, I was dead. The day after, I could not straighten my arms. I'm no stranger to being sore after a weight lifting class. In fact, before deciding to do a triathlon, I hardly ever did cardiovascular exercise, I just simply loved strength training more.  When I say that I was in pain, I mean it. My arms wouldn't straighten and my biceps were literally bulging at all times. It was as if my arms were in a permanent state of contraction. And the following day, I had a patient who was literally 380lbs. Yep. Luckily, she was pretty self-sufficient. And I had two male nurses help me when getting her out of bed. Poor male nurses, we totally abuse them...

 Eventually, my arms did get better, but I don't think I will be going back to that class. It wasn't that I used too heavy of a weight (only 5lbs!), but the instructor had us doing these side bicep curls at like 32523523424124234234324 reps. I suppose I was too eager and jumped in to the weights too quickly, but still. I've never been in that much pain from the gym.

As you see from my schedule, I am doing the 100 Push-Up Challenge! Actually, Mirza and I am doing it together. In my pathetic attempt to get Mirza involved any sort of physical activity besides guitar playing (he's in school for music education) (he has a gym membership purchased by me, but he goes sporadically), I convinced him we should do this fun activity together! For me, I know the only way to stay focused on exercise is to have a goal. The push up challenge is 6 weeks. Tonight is Day 2 of the challenge. We'll be completing the workouts on Mon, Wed, and Fri.  In addition, Mirza agreed that twice per week, he would go on a walk with me. And it doesn't need to be long, I promised (insert evil grin), like 1-2 miles max. He downloaded an app on my iphone that has GPS and a way to log our walks. We were supposed to go for a walk last night, but he was "too tired," ggrrrrr!

The Metric Century training is coming along nicely. I have the next 12-13 weeks planned out, bringing up my mileage each week. I have a lot of wiggle room, too, which is important with any training plan (listen to me, as if I have "trained" for athletic events all of my life! ha). I do not want to set myself for failure or guilt.

Although my training is going well, the raffle to raise money for the not. We are stalled at $85. I thought people would love a $30 Amazon Gift Card and a copy of Operation Beautiful, but I suppose it just isn't worth $5. Please spread the word...

$5 gets you ONE raffle ticket!
$10 gets you TWO raffle tickets
If you donate, and also decide to tweet or blog (one or the other) about this giveaway, then I will double your chances of winning automatically.

The donation page can be found here:

As you see from the past week, it looks like I am still training for an upcoming triathlon...hmmmmm??

Well, the truth is, up until a few days ago, I had my heart set on October 24th. Another sprint triathlon at Fort Desoto. But after carefully looking through my expenses and budget, I simply cannot afford it. It is over $90 at this time. I could easily just throw it on a credit card and pay it off in a short time, but I feel like I've been doing that too much lately. I will still continue to exercise as if I have a triathlon because my ultimate goal for 2011 is...

If you recall, it was just a short 5 months ago, on April 25th, that I experienced my first a spectator! From that moment, I was enthralled, and watching those athletes compete inspired me take the next steps and complete my first triathlon(s)! It feels only natural then, that I would progress from a sprint triathlon to an OLYMPIC DISTANCE TRI. That's a 1.5k (1 mile) Swim, 40K (24.8mile) Bike, and a 10k (6.2mile) Run. 
Registration hasn't opened yet, but I will be keeping an eye out! 

Let's see, we've covered strength training, cycling, future tri's, but what about running???

I am still new to running. In fact, I started the Couch to 5k program on April 27th of this year! Since then, I've done two sprint triathlons, and one "5k" (the course was shortened!!!!!). My goal is a HALF MARATHON. I thought it might be fun to do the Disney Half Princess marathon in February, but seeing how expensive it is has lead me to another race...

Gasparilla Half Marathon 2011! February 27, 2011.
I figured, leave the big bucks for the full marathon (yes, it is a goal of mine) and run my first reallllllllly long race here in the Tampa Bay Area! I plan on beginning my official training November 1st, giving me over 16 weeks to train.

Seriously. I have a lot going on.

Let's recap:

  • 100 Push-Up Challenge in 6 weeks
  • Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k: Oct 2
  • Ride to Defeat ALS Metric Century: December 11, 2010
  • Start Master's program (pending acceptance): January 2011
  • Start Yoga Teacher Training: January 2011
  • Gasparilla Half Marathon: February 27th, 2011
  • St. Anthony's Triathlon: May 2011~

I'm up for the challenge.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Trek Women's Triathlon Part 2

Part one left off at Saturday.

We went to bed at 9:30pm for our 4:30 wake-up call, literally. The call was really annoying, I think it was Disney characters singing, "It's a small world after all..." I promptly hung up, and then both of our phone alarms rang.

I did not sleep well at this hotel. For one, the pillows were horrible, and then at 11:30-midnight, the family next door came home and their child, who must have been 6-9 from the voice was talking so loud, as was the father, and he was playing with some toys that clanked and clonked into a plastic bucket. The walls must be paper thin. I was pissed...who keeps their kid up that late?! Let me tell you, I was not quiet at 430 in the morning. Funniest part is Mirza heard nothing!! I would not recommend this hotel, but it was only $70/night with my triathlon discount, so it got the job done.  Definitely catered towards children...

We arrived early to the event to spare time driving there, and taking the shuttle, body marking, etc.

Waiting for the swim I had so much anxiety.
Swimming in the Gulf/ocean is scary enough, but a LAKE? This is FLORIDA. Florida lakes=GATORS. This was Disney property, but I am going to take a wild guess that the gators looked nothing like this:
People kept saying, "Oh, it's Disney,  they remove the gators..." I laughed because  I doubt that's true, and even if it is, it's difficult to prevent the gators from coming into canals, etc. LOOK, I know, I know, I  know...there's so many people in the water, they will be scared, blablabla. That's great. But that still does not make it any less scary when you're 1/2 mile out from shore!!

At one point, it was still pretty dark and people were on the pier area looking at the buoys, and we all saw something eerily making it's way across the water. It looked JUST.LIKE.A.GATOR. Turned out to be a couple of ducks, ha!

Finally, the sun rose, and it was time for swim. I was the 5th wave. I couldn't see much of the athletes before me because of the crowd, and I am short. All I knew was that it looked like an awfully long way to swim, and definitely further from shore than my last triathlon.

I am in the middle smiling at the camera...

And there I am in the middle giving a thumbs-up.

I look calm, cool, and collected, but in reality, I was freaking out about the lake like a sissy girl, "omg, it is so slimy, and muddy, and so much sea weed, wtf AM I DOING?!!"

We had a send off by Sally Edwards, who has competed in over 150 races. This was an all-women's event, and I must say, it was wonderful to not have any stinky boys around. The entire theme of the pep-talk was geared towards being supportive towards each other. She chanted, "What are you going to do if someone looks like they need help?!" HELP THEM! The motivational speech was wonderful. 

And then they counted down from 10, and we were off. #$^#$^#$^%# so much seaweed. I just kept reminding myself over and over, "It's only a plant, it's only a plant. A plant cannot hurt you!!!" The first couple of meters, I thought I was going to lose it. I inhaled some water, started to choke, and I felt claustrophobic, like I couldn't breathe. I saw my whole triathlon flash before my eyes. I didn't get kicked or punched too bad, maybe pulled a little bit, but the other triathletes were so nice and apologetic. After a minute or so, I just focused on swimming. 

The swim was 1/2 mile, which is double the length of my first triathlon.

It was long, but I tried my best to stay with the pack.  I did not want to be out in the open water too long with who-knows-what...

Every once in awhile, I would feel a swoosh of water by my legs, and I just kept saying to myself, "please let that be another swimmer!!!!"

However, there were tons of lifeguards surrounding us in the water, yelling out, "You're doing great, you're halfway there!!" And they would let swimmers know when they were going off course. They encouraged you to hold onto the kayak or boat if you felt the need. I loved all of the volunteers at this event.

Finally, it was over, and I ran the hell out of the water. SO DISGUSTING!! *shudder*

The swim took me a really long time (31:21 minutes!! I debated posting my breakdown times on here because it feels private, and they aren't the "best" times, but I don't care at this point. They may not be the fastest times, but for me, they are an improvement, and I am proud).

 I was so disoriented that I didn't remove my goggles. Mirza and I find this picture incredibly funny...

This triathlon was so much better than the last one because it was put on by a huge company (Trek and at Disney), so there were tons of spectators and volunteers cheering you on. Everyone was incredibly positive and encouraging. I love when people yell out words of does motivate me!

I made it to my bike and my feet were covered in dirt since I ran through mulch. I decided to not even bother with socks for my clip-in shoes. I had never done this before, so it was kind of a risk, but I see triathletes do it all of the time, so I decided what-the-hell to spare my transition time (3:18 Not bad considering my last one was >6 minutes, but it was a long run to the bikes at Fort Desoto, too). Also, I bought a race belt, so I didn't have difficulty putting on my shirt this time after the swim with the paper number. I also wore a triathlon tank from Danskin and tri shorts, for those wondering.
The ride was 12 miles. I had no issues with not wearing socks. About 1 mile in, a cop was yelling, "SMILE, they're going to take a photo!" And man, I smiled for every damn picture. I am sure they wanted some action shots, but I was cheesin' for the camera. I hope they got 'em! I cannot wait to see. At my last triathlon, they somehow got NO shots of me. Totally ridiculous! 

The ride was challenging. It was on a closed-off highway setting and a few "hills," such as the highway twists/turns, and ramps. The best was coming down the hills. I didn't just coast like some, I tried to use it to my advantage and pedal a bit, too.

Once I got back to the campground, I knew that I was almost done and I felt excited. People again were cheering, and I almost wanted to cry at one point. I felt proud of myself. I know what it's like to watch a triathlon, and to actually be part of it felt surreal, but totally cool:).

My bike time was 49:35. I felt I had been going faster, but it's all good. I ran, racked my bike, threw off my bike shoes, and put on my socks.  Transition 2 was 2:04.

Now, onto the 5k ...

I was completely exhausted, but pushed myself to run. I had planned on using a 9:1 method, but after the first 9 minutes (keeping in mind, I am running pretty slow...), I felt good, so I just kept going. I'm not sure how far into the run that I did take a walking break. I was concerned that if I did stop to walk, that I would have a difficult time motivating myself to start running again! I ended up taking a few walking breaks at the water stations (3 of them total), but they were only about 1 minute breaks.

The 5k felt like it went on forever. I always underestimate how far 3.1 miles can be sometimes. At one point, we passed by a fork in the road, and we were to turn right, go down (forever), get to the man playing the bag pipes (random), water station, etc., and then turn back and we would run the other way at the fork, back to the race site. When I first passed the fork, I heard them tell a runner ahead of me that it was just 400 meters to the finish from that site. Once I passed the fork, I picked up my speed.

And then I heard the music, and I could see the race site! Tons of people were lined up, and the music began to blast louder, I could hear the announcer. People were surrounding me on each side and extending out their hands for me to slap. I felt bad-ass! I started to RUN as fast as my tired little 5'3 legs would take me. I think spectators love to see people really push it at the end.

The finish line was exactly as I had imagined all those times prior to ever doing a triathlon. I WAS SO HAPPY!! The music was beating inside of my chest, the Zumba girls were dancing, people were clapping, and I heard my name being announced, he said, "HERE COMES NICOLE...NICOLE, THEY'RE GOING TO TAKE YOUR PICTURE NOW, SMILE!!" And then I crossed the finish line!! aaah. I loved that moment. 

Throughout the whole run, one of the main things that kept me going was knowing I would get a MEDAL. I have never received a medal or trophy before because growing up, I did not participate in sports, dance, etc. I knew that if I made it out of the water, and if my bike did not get a flat, then I would be guaranteed a finisher's medal because eventually I would finish the race, even if I walked.

Run time was 39:13. That's a little over 12 minute mile, which is good enough for me on that day!!! At my first triathlon, I walked majority of the way, and it took me about 45-46 minutes, ouch.

You don't have to be first, you just have to TRI. I was not first, but I was not last (I was 406 out of 561 overall, and 20/23 in my age group. Surprisingly, I thought I was last in my age group because of the swim, so I was happy with the 20th!) and so what if I had been last?!

I did so much better this time. Even Mirza commented that he thought I did better, in fact, he did not expect me to come hauling ass towards the finish, hence the lack of photos!

  I think a lot of it had to do with knowing what to expect, and the race itself. Trek Women's Triathlon put on a great event, with so much support and organization. Also, I loved the all-women's aspect. Not once did some burly 56 year old man pass me on the bike. GIRL-POWER!

If you're ever thinking of doing a triathlon, I highly recommend finding an all female event (assuming you're female, of course). The atmosphere is inspiring.

And now, for the best photo you will see all year...
They were giving out muffins the size of my head. I told Mirza to take a photo of me eating the muffin as a joke since it was so big...
Check out that guy next to me!!!!! I didn't even notice until Mirza pointed it out. It looks like we're in a muffin-eating contest!! Cracks me up still.

After the race, we still had to drive an hour and a half back to St. Pete, so we stopped at Cracker Barrel (ohyes) for breakfast. I had two eggs, hashbrowns, rye toast, and pancakes with cherry topping. It was a lot, but seeing as the last meal I ate prior to the race was the day before around 3pm, we were both starving. I grossly under-fueled for the race since the hotel's cafe was not open at 4:30am. All I had before the race was a cup of instant oatmeal! 

Stay tuned for what's in store next!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Trek Women's Triathlon Recap: Part 1

I did it! I completed TRIATHLON #2!

Let me preface this post by saying my goals for this triathlon were simple: Stay POSITIVE, HAPPY, and to RUN during the actual run portion. You see, during my first triathlon, I failed miserably at all three of these. I did not want to have too many high expectations going into this. I wanted to enjoy myself, to push myself, and to feel a sense of accomplishment.

Goal accomplished? YES.

I only had two weeks separating these two triathlons, and once I got back into the mental game, I worked hard. I knew I had a short amount of time to do what I could to prepare, so I did whatever I felt necessary. I swam almost everyday that I wasn't at work, and I did a few brick workouts, and I even did  a "5k." I kept my mind sharp and centered through yoga workshops and continually reminding myself to stay positive (and I may or may not have pretended  I was Chrissy Wellington during each works!).

I noticed towards the end of the week that I actually felt stronger! Thing is, I couldn't tell you if I was stronger physically...or mentally! Honestly, I think a combination of both, but definitely breaking down some mind-barriers.

The journey to this Sunday's triathlon started Friday! I got the oil changed, and tires rotated in my car; and picked up my bike from the shop. I had dropped her off on Tuesday for a maintenance check-up.

Saturday morning, I packed up the car for us to head to Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground to check-in my bike and pick up my race packet.

The only negative aspect about this triathlon was that if you weren't staying at the Fort Wilderness Campground, you had to park in the Magic Kingdom parking lot, and then RIDE or walk your bike over, approximately 1.5 miles, according to the "officials." Apparently, Mirza and I never got the memo that we live in FLORIDA and it is HOTTER THAN youknowwhat in September, and we were wearing jeans. Go us! I mean, we haven't lived in Florida for over 15 years or anything...der.

 We walked...and walked...with the bike...and finally made it there, sweaty and red!

(jeans rolled up on the beach to the Lake)

I checked in, got my race packet, etc, and just as we were leaving to go rack my bike, I saw in the corner of my eye a BONDI BAND table. I did a double-take.

...wait? is that..? "omg, Mirza, that is healthyashley!!!" Mirza: uuuhh, who??

 I walked over like a weird stalker and introduced myself. It was so funny! Seriously, you feel like you know these people because you read their blogs. And Ashley truly is an inspiration to me because this chick did a half-Ironman, marathons, etc., and is now training for a full Ironman. Through reading her blog, you honestly feel like, "hey, maybe I could do that, too??" She rocks!! Best part? She is even nicer and sweeter in person than you could imagine. YAY FOR BLOGGERS.

And of course, I asked if we could take a photo...

After we racked the bike, I was pretty happy about my little encounter with meeting Ashley (I met healthyashley, lalalalal, I met healthyashley, lalalala), and Mirza was making fun of me (I swear I am not a freak, Ashley!).

We had reservations at the Disney All-Star Sports resort. I will spare you the details of the day that involved driving around looking for food and getting lost, but eventually we checked into the hotel, and earlier had dinner at Planet Hollywood. We were starving!

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of my triathlon recap. I'll get down to the good stuff!! For now, I must sleep!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Metric Century Raffle!

Hi guys,

As you know, in 99 days, I will be riding 62.5 miles on my bike to benefit ALS (aka Lou Gehrig's disease).

 For those unaware, "amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive, fatal neuromuscular disease that slowly robs the body of its ability to walk, speak, swallow and breathe. The life expectancy of an ALS patient averages 2 to 5 years from the time of diagnosis. Every 90 minutes a person in this country is diagnosed with ALS and every 90 minutes another person will lose their battle against this disease. ALS occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic boundaries. This crippling disease can strike anyone. Presently there is no known cause of the disease though support is bringing researchers closer to an answer. In the mean time it costs an average of $200,000 a year to provide the care ALS patients need."

My goal for the Metric Century is to raise simply $150. It's a small amount, but anything helps. And that's where you, my lovely readers, step in.

Would you like to win a $30 gift certificate to AND A COPY OF "OPERATION BEAUTIFUL" by Caitlin Boyle of Healthy Tipping Point? (who I am totally stealing this raffle format from).

$5 gets you ONE raffle ticket!
$10 gets you TWO raffle tickets
If you donate, and also decide to tweet or blog (one or the other) about this giveaway, then I will double your chances of winning automatically.

The donation page can be found here:

Once you donate, please leave a comment on this page letting me know the name you've donated under. If you donate and also tweet or blog, please let me know your username or provide a link to the blog!:)

 Please do not donate as "Anonymous," as I cannot send the prize to this winner. The winner of the gift card and book will be chosen by Random Number Generator.

The raffle ends October 3, 2010 at noon, eastern time. ONE MONTH FROM TODAY.

I am currently at 10%. LET'S MAKE IT TO 100%++!!

(As a side note, I have no affiliation with Amazon or Operation Beautiful.)