Be Careful What You Wish For

Do you have a bucket list? I do, I call it “the list”. One of the things that has been on it since day one is to:

– Learn to Play a Musical Instrument

I’ve never learned how to play anything. I was driving in the car the other day and I was listening to Hawaiian music (like I love to listen to) and all the sudden it hit me.

I want to learn how to play the ukulele.

So I emailed Troy:

All I want for Christmas is a Ukulele. I’m serious.

He had to call to verify. “Is this a joke?”

“Umm, no, not in the slightest, I want a ukulele”

Troy: “Where am I going to get a ukulele 3 days before Christmas”

Sonja: “I don’t know, ask Santa maybe”

Troy’s entire family is “musical”. His aunt is an opera singer, his mom is a music teacher, and all of Troy’s family plays instruments. Troy plays the trombone, but not really any more. Oddly there is never music playing in his parents house when I am over there.

So Troy enlisted the help of his mom and low and behold, waiting for me under the tree this Christmas was:

Oh dear, now what do I do with it? I really liked just strumming it and I would have been content to just walk around strumming for a couple weeks. It really puts you in the island mood. But low and behold, as luck would have it, they got me “Ukulele Book #1″ as well, so I immediately delved into it.

Annie is opening presents in the background and what am I doing? I’M LEARNING HOW TO PLAY THE UKULELE. Bad mom!

So ever since Saturday, whenever I am practicing the ukulele, I look confused, like this:

and this:

and this:

and this:

If I start looking too confused, then Troy comes over and tries to teach me things. I’m thinking of getting him his own guitar or ukulele but I secretly think that he tries to help just so he can get his hands on my ukulele. There may or may not have been a few squirmishes the past few days over the ukulele.

We’ve had to set some ground rules. Troy can not just pick my my ukulele and start playing better than me. Troy can not try to teach me music stuff unless I am ready and willing to learn it. And lastly, Troy must help me when it’s out of tune and I can’t get it back in tune.

Once we laid those out, it’s been smooth sailing.

Except my fingers. Ohhhh, my fingers. This is seriously why I haven’t blogged. My fingers hurt so bad from playing. I practice until I can’t play the F chord anymore and then I know it’s time for bed.

I love my ukulele, even though it’s really hard to play and I am totally, 100% out of my element. I’ve set some goals and I’m content to work diligently in the direction of them. I think it will be a nice relaxing distraction during training season. A way to engage the brain….and the fingers.

I’m sure you wanted me to end this post with a nice little video but if you thought that would happen then you are sorely mistaken.

Here’s to learning new things, and getting in the island mood every evening.

Real World, Real Veggie Challenge Winner

This has been a fun diversion on my blog. No real talk of triathlon, I hope you all survived without your fix. So I’ve been eating “clean” and “kind” since December 1st (not my terms). Clean as in with the season, organically, and without any added sugars. “Kind” as in no critters…except fungus, and bacteria, I’ve been devouring those. This was really just an experiment. Since I didn’t have to worry about adverse training effects, I’ve been having fun cooking new things. I am trained in traditional French cooking. I’ve taken years of cooking classes, so it’s been really interesting to see how the vegans get it done. I dig it, I dig how fresh and upfront my veggies taste now. My food feels more alive than usual.

I had an interesting thing happen this weekend. Kinda scary actually.

So, Saturday I had some butter, and I had flour, and I had some cheese. I haven’t been trying to be gluten free or anything, but as a result of what I “have” been eating…I haven’t really had gluten since I started. So I munched some breadsticks at our apartment holiday party, they were good, they had butter on them, and parmesan, and they were warm, and really yummy. I came home with a pretty bad headache and went right to bed.

Yesterday I went for a long slow run with friends and then afterwards I had a Mediterranean veggie sandwich from Panera, on Panera bread, with Feta cheese, again, some of the first wheat/dairy in several weeks. For dinner we had a little Ironman party and Troy made home made bread for the occasion. I had some, it was good. We also had pasta as the main dish, with a fresh veggie sauce and a big salad. For dessert I had two of these little cookies that Michelle made. They were very tasty.

Then we sat down to watch the Ironman. In the middle I got up and my head hurt really bad. Raging head ache. It’s so rare that I get a headache. After the Ironman was over I couldn’t even drive home, so Troy had to drive. When we got home I ran some warm water over my head and then I lost it. The worst headache I have ever had. It took me 10 minutes to go the 8 steps from the bathtub to bed. I laid on the floor of my closet groaning for some time. I thought my head was going to explode.

What have I done to myself? This is what I was thinking while I was laying on my closet floor, curled into a little ball. I love the way I feel eating clean, but oh my goodness. I think the eggs, cheese, gluten, and added sugar in the cookies over the past 24 hours added up to make me uber uber ill. I don’t even know what to think of it all. My natural question is “Is it worth the awesome side effects of going clean if you are going to pay big time if you eat unclean”?

I don’t even know, but what I do know is that I woke up this morning and immediately downed a ton of blended veggies and fruit. I’m almost afraid of eating something unhealthy, I don’t want to feel like that again.

So there you go, for what it’s worth. I feel a bit of a conundrum.

Therefore, let’s give away some Justin’s Nut Butter. It’s Monday, and today Megan and I picked the winner of the Real World Real Veggie Challenge (or whatever it’s called). It was hard to pick but we went with Kara. She really took the challenge and ran with it. She’s made some great recipes and put up with some negative press. CONGRATULATIONS Kara, get me your address please!

And by the way, what is up with how sensitive people are around food? Nobody seems to have any problems with my triathlon lifestyle, but the minute I bring up food (even as an experiment), I start getting hate mail. I find it odd how judgmental people can be about what others choose to put in their mouth. I don’t eat to make a statement, I eat to fill my tummy. Some people do, and I’m cool with that, but I just find it interesting how people jump to conclusions. I know there are serious issues surrounding food, but really there are serious issues surrounding EVERYTHING. I’m not ready to step on any pedestals, and that’s just my personal stance. I’m glad others do, because it helps me inform myself when I am researching. Wow, heated stuff!

Now back to the previous scheduled programming…triathlon!

Real World Food Challenge Update

This Real World Food Challenge is shaping up to be a lot of fun! I am really enjoying all the blog posts, and the totals coming in from around the world!

Kara did a great job and majorly scored at the Marquette Food Co-op in Michigan coming in at $37.16. She did have to drive on snowy roads to get it done though, discipline! She also had to endure a nasty comment on her blog about the whole thing. I applaud you Kara, keep fighting the good fight, you brainwashed blogger you.

Donna is like a 12 hour flight away and she participated by comparing three different UK online shopping sites. Her all organic price came in at $49.80 (exchange rate applied). Her post really got me wondering what the price of the box would be if none of it was organic, I wonder what it would be at Walmart…could I even find pea shoots at Walmart?

Kelly rocked it out in Baldwinsville, New York by making a trip to Wegmans. Yes, this does sound like a funny name for a store, but we have “King Soopers” here, so I’m not judging! Kelly did pretty good with a total of $46.13, but similar to my experience she couldn’t locate organic kiwi, lime, or pomegranate. I had trouble with limes too, I can sympathize. Kelly experienced a similar phenomena as I did at Whole Foods. I could buy one conventional lemon, but if I wanted to buy organic, I had to buy a bag of 10 lemons. What is up with that? I love lemons and with all the Chuckie tea I drink, 10 lemons is not a problem, but I still just don’t get it.

So, folks, keep it coming! This is a lot of fun and I’m really loving all the price comparisons out there. Now I promised some recipes. Well, rather than recipes I’m going to give you rundowns, hopefully this will give you license to get started but keep you free enough to get your hands dirty!

Sooo, you’ve got some fennel on your hands? Here are a few ideas. Chop it up along with some sweet potatoes and any other root veg you have around that you need to use up (carrots, potatoes, etc). Toss it in some EV Olive Oil (EVOO), some Salt and Pepper, and throw it in a baking dish, 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Toss some balsamic all over it before it goes in too, that makes it extra yummy. Pull it out when everything has a nice roast. Mmmm.

Another one, dice up that fennel and saute it with some EVOO. Cook up some Israeli Cous Cous (or rice), and toss in some pomegranate seeds (to get the seeds see here). Whisk together (separately) some red wine vinegar, and oil (whatever you like, I like grape seed sometimes) and use that as a dressing. I like Thyme and Sesame Seeds in it as well. Major Nom Nom.

Why so many lemons? I admit, that is my fault. Fresh lemons alkalize the body (lemons are acidic, producing alkali chemicals in the stomach). Michelle and I drink a lot of what we call Chuckie Tea. It was one of the first things he had me do when I got sick once and the habit stuck. A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (I get Organic Braggs), 1/2 lemon juiced, and agave or honey to taste. It’s a daily thing for me.

I’m also noticing that I am using a lot of lemons now as dressing. My favorite Kale salad right now is chopped kale with EVOO rubbed into the leaves, sunflower seeds, diced red bell pepper, ginger powder, diced avocado, grated carrot, and then topped with the juice of one lemon.

Juicing lemons used to be annoying until I went home and used what I thought was my moms overpriced and highly unnecessary lemon juicer. I immediately asked for one for Christmas, which she bought me on the spot, and it has become one of the most used kitchen utensils I have. Seriously how did I ever live without this thing?

PEA SHOOTS! What on earth can you do with them (Troy says “Tasty Snack”)? Well, they have their own webpage, ya gotta love a veg with it’s own website! I went ahead and served mine up via a recipe that I found in Clean Start by Terry Walters. Carrots, Chickpeas, onion, Avo, Pea Sprouts, and a nice Balsamic dressing. It really doesn’t take much more than that. After 2 weeks of eating crazy amounts of veg, we finally found a leafy green that Annie loves. We will be growing more of these on our own in our windowsill.

Well, I hope this helps get you started, or inspired. I certainly have been inspired. The more veg I eat and the more recipes I make, the more fun I seem to have. The next phase will be to teach Troy how to make some of my favorites so that when training time kicks back in we can continue to eat this way. He is really enjoying it, but I’m doing all the cooking (and chopping) right now, and I won’t have as much time when training is going again. He’s excited about it, and I am really thankful for that.

One last thing. I took this picture today at my local “King Soopers”. TODAY. I took it TODAY, can I say that one more time…..TODAY, as in December 15th. There were three separate stands like this, right next to the checkouts. Really?

Happy cooking, happy eating, happy training, and for tri-gods sake, stay away from the Easter candy!

The Great Organic Basket Challenge

As I elluded to in a previous post I found this cool company called Door To Door Organics. I have been eating as much organic veggies as I can find. Not as much as I can afford but literally as much as I can procure. Does Troy think I’m loony? Yes. Is he feeling as wonderful as I am? Yes! We got our second box of D2DO veggies today, and yes, it was wonderful. I tweeted a picture of all the goods that came in our box and asked what people on Twitter thought?

Megan, my homegirl who lives in a different state, responded and thought you might be able to save more if you did it yourself. We exchanged a few tweets, I gave her the list, and low and behold she was off to her Whole Foods in St. Louis to simulate my box and get a price of her own. Yes, Megan, my sister from another mother (and father), is a scientist (she has a PhD), can you tell?

My Door To Door Organics box cost: $38.66
Megans Self Made Organic Box (err Bag) cost: $51.18

Megan also gets points deducted because two of her things weren’t organic (WF didn’t have them organically).

So now I’m all curious. I headed to my Whole Foods this morning to see how much my box would cost from there. I had to bring my kitchen scale because I wasn’t going to actually repurchase the items. I think the produce stockers thought I was crazy because I kept asking for the prices of items that had lost their price tags, but then I would weigh them and put them back.

I did buy some fennel, but I really can’t ever eat enough fennel, I love it in the winter. So my Whole Foods price is more of a close approximation, and came in at $41.53. That amount also included two items that weren’t organic (limes and navel oranges), and also the lemons were an issue because to buy organic you had to buy a bag of 10, so I took half that price for the 5 that are on the list. This is more reason why Megan should have moved closer to me, my Whole Foods bag was 18.85% cheeper than her WF bag (see, I CAN do math).

So we got an idea, OK, Megan got the idea, because well, she’s the scientist and it’s pretty much her job to come up with things like this to study and all. Megan’s idea was to have a contest of sorts, she likes to “study” things and we are now both interested in what sort of prices this box would cost in different parts of the country.

Here’s where you come in! As much as Megan is the scientist, see I’m the marketing director, so all I could think about was what we should give away. Ummm, DUH, Justin’s Nut Butter. You all go crazy for Justin’s and I visited the Justin’s office yesterday with PIC and they gifted me with a sweet new jar of my favorite flavor: Chocolate Almond. So, how about some of that?

What do you have to do? Well, you need to buy “the list” of veggies, and they need to be organic, or else Megan will doc you like $5 per veggie and charge you some horrible rate, you can read her blog for the nitty-gritty details. She’s good with the details, I just like to give stuff away! I’m posting the list below and we are looking for you to head to the store (tell us which one), buy all the organic veggies on the list, make sure the store rings them up separate from the other items you accidentally tossed in the cart, and tell us how much. Take some pictures, make a blog post out of it. Yes, I realize this is a big to-do.

Now since this is quite the endeavor (I know Megan just up and did it all on her own), and since I am the marketing director and she is the scientist, I’m thinking that a bit of a Justin’s cornucopia would be a worthy prize. Here’s what I am thinking. That’s 2 jars of Justin’s and two boxes of squeeze packs (so 20 squeeze packs total).

Here is the list of veggies. Now go forth and shop, photograph, blog, post recipies, etc. Oh, and read Megans blog for the exact nitty gritty details if your into that. I’m just the marketing director.

Winner will be decided by Megan and I, and will be determined by how much we like your blog post (must be a blogger to win). We will pick a winner on December 20th.

Produce List (ALL ORGANIC):
– Roma Tomatoes – 5
– Avocados – 2
– Collard Greens – 1 bunch (don’t worry we’ll post recipes)
– Fennel – 1 LARGE root
– Golden Sweet Potatoes – 3 small
– Zucchini – 4
– Cucumber – 1
– Pomegranate – 2
– Anjou Pear – 2
– Kiwi – 2
– Pinova Apple – 2
– Pink Lady Apple – 2
– Navel Orange – 4
– Pea Sprouts – 1 box (also called Young Pea Greens, near the sprouts)
– Lemon – 5
– Lime – 2

Have fun and post your blog entries in the comments.

Changes

2011 is shaping up to be an exciting year. I have made a big change in sponsorship that most of my blog readers will be finding out about…well, right now. I’m a traitor, and team switcher! I kid, a little. I have decided to take an opportunity to race the 2011 season on the Kompetitive Edge team. I am extremely excited to race for both TYR and Kompetitive Edge this coming year, it was a great opportunity for me, and sometimes you need to grab the bull by the horns.

I love all of the people I have met through Team Trakkers, and they are such stand up individuals that I know they will continue to love and support me although I’m not wearing a neon green race kit. I know I have lead many of you to apply for Team Trakkers (I loved all those emails by the way) and please believe me when I tell you that I have nothing but love for all that is green. If you will be suiting up in green next year, you are a star in my book.

As I talked to Carole, the Team Trakkers mama bear, about my decision it was hard not to feel like a total amateur about all this stuff. I’m not used to having choices, opportunities, and I would be lying if I said the prospect didn’t make me a bit uncomfortable at times. Talking to Charlie who owns Rev3 and Trakkers reminded me just how far and high his company will climb and I hope that I can still be a part of Rev3 success for years to come.

I am unbelievably excited to be racing for Kompetative Edge this year. I have set a big goal that may take several years to achieve (which I would tell you about if I wasn’t such a chicken). However I am really committed to this goal and it is important for me to surround myself in an environment that is dedicated to helping me achieve my very specific mission. Kompetitive Edge fits that mold. As a swim and triathlon shop that carries the best of the best and wants their athletes racing in the cream of the crop gear, I am getting a tangible amount of local and specific support. I believe in their goals as a company and I’m excited to work with them throughout the year. They are committed to supporting athletes that are racing in Kona and that is where my 2011 season is headed.

Changes come in many forms. I love my Trakkers Teamies, and I always will. I can’t wait to get to know and come to love my Kompetitive Edge Teamies as well. If you have any questions for me, please feel free to email me or “contact me” using the link at the top of the blog. I’m an open book!

I’m Intense

I just am. I’m intense. When I do something, I go all in. I push all my chips forward and say “double down”. It’s not that I’m risky. I’m just intense.

So, in 2010 I unleashed my intensity on a rather daunting race schedule: 100 miler (because I wanted to) and 3 Ironmans. And when I qualified for Kona I focused (all) my intensity on training to do well there.


Nothing more intense than red Jellyfish! Annie, Mom and I viewed these at the San Francisco Academy of Sciences, can’t really tell that they are jellys, can you?.

After IMAZ I got really sick. I had warded off several colds towards the end of 2010 with Zicam, and Chuckie tea. So when I got sick after IMAZ I just let myself get sick. I said “Body, go to town, just get as sick as you want and I won’t even try to mask your symptoms, I will just let you do what you want for once”.

So I focused (intensely) my efforts into the couch. I didn’t really leave the couch. There were a few days I didn’t leave my parents house. Sometimes I went from couch, to hot tub, to bath tub, and back to couch. I was focused in my lack of activity. Thank goodness for grandparents to entertain Annie. Although we did get in lots of mommy/daughter snuggle time.


More cool jellys from the Academy of Sciences

By the time 10 days of that rolled around I was healed up and ready to delve into “the next thing”. Where could I heave my intensity into next? I totally knew what it would be.

FOOD! I love food. I love good food. By the end of last season I was getting very basic in the food department. Troy was doing a lot of dinner duty, and I was doing a lot of Whole Foods salad bar duty. I was craving good food. Being that it is the offseason, I am taking this opportunity to explore some aspects of FOOD that intrigue me. For once I’m not going to need to worry that my daily eating will impact my training adversely. I can explore for once.


Holiday Mixed Grain Pilaf with Red Chard from Rich Rolls cookbook Jai Seed

You may be thinking cookies, and baking here, but it’s quite the opposite. I love healthy, fresh, good, clean food. I’ve been intrigued by athletes like Rich Roll, and Scott Jurek who are bad asses and are vegan (even though I eat meat regularly). I’m intrigued by the term macrobiotic, and I don’t even really know what that means.


Deep Dish Greens with Millet Crust from Terry Walters book Clean Start

So, I’m taking the Type A, intense, individual that I am, and I doing some dabbling into food. So what if I don’t get “adequate protien” for a few days, so what if I don’t get all my B12 in. I’m learning the way I like to learn, which is “hands on”. I ask questions, I seek answers.

Seek first to understand.
-Stephen Covey

I really love learning new things. I like to broaden my horizons. I don’t like to make long term changes unless I am convinced that they are the right path, but I sure like to dabble, to learn, to get my hands dirty. I don’t pretend to know anything, I just endeavor to learn, to ask questions, that’s all.


Lemon Coconut Breakfast Bars from Julliemorris.net

So, this week I went plant based. It’s fun to monitor how I feel without trying to process the training stress along with it. It’s a bit easier to eat something and see if it’s enough, or not enough, makes me feel good, or not good when I’m not logging 22+ hours of swimbikerun. It’s a fun outlet, I’m learning things…like what “complete protein” means.

wikipedia: a source of protein that contains an adequate proportion of all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for the dietary needs of humans or other animals. Some incomplete protein sources may contain all essential amino acids, but a complete protein contains them in correct proportions for supporting biological functions in the human body.


Vegan Mashed potatoes, again from Jai Seed

The offseason is about lots of things, detraining being one of them. But I would hope that I can use my off-seasons to set myself up for good on-seasons without contributing to burn out. Food is a good start I think. Learning some new healthy recipes, learning more about nutrition, feeding my body some absolutely marvelous vegetables, those are all good things right now.

Oh, and lastly, I just signed up for Door to Door Organics and received my first box of veggies (delivered to my doorstep). Oh my goodness. I had signed up with them about 4 years ago for several months, and wow was I surprised at the quality of veggies this go around. They have really stepped up their game, and I was super duper jazzed to get my box on Friday. If you are interested (and live in Colorado) and want a referral email that is good for 50% off your first box, let me know. I’m not affiliated with them, it’s just something they let you do once you sign up.

Happy offseason, Happy eating, Happy learning!