Extra Life Triathlon Fitness

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Top 12 Foods I Eat Daily

I can't stress enough how important diet is to a healthy lifestyle. While I've always exercised in some fashion, even run up to half marathons in the past, it was always fueled by cheeseburgers, M&M's, and Sam Adams. That doesn't make for an enjoyable workout experience (or bathroom experience)! In fact, it left me lethargic the rest of the day, depressed, anxious, and generally creeping toward an early grave.

I am truly experiencing that the body's fuel dramatically influences the quality of my workouts and general attitude for the entire day. I am more focused, fit, and confident. In addition, diet can be one of the best defenses against injury and illness, and supplement the healing process. Case in point, after my recent accident, I thought I would be out of commission for weeks, or even months. I likely would have been if I wasn't eating a nutritious diet. Instead, I'm already back to a solid training routine (although the jury's still out on the injury).

So what are the foods I consume to fuel my day? The list below pretty much sums up most of it (in no necessary order).

1. Eggs! - Eggs are a powerhouse which will bring proper balance of fats and proteins of any diet. Additionally, they are easy to cook, and can be used as an ingredient in many different dishes. "But what about the cholesterol?" you might ask. Eggs are high in dietary cholesterol, but that means little to the cholesterol that ends up in the bloodstream (see that source? It's from Harvard!). In fact the body produces more cholesterol than you will get from eggs (and will compensate for elevated intake). For a healthy individual who exercises regularly, an egg or two can be a great addition to the diet.

2. Almonds - Portable, transportable, and delicious! He should be smiling. Almonds are a great source of monounsaturated fats (that's "good" fat). Still worried about the cholesterol in those eggs? Studies show that they can reduce bad cholesterol in the blood. They are also a great snack substitute to such things as M&M's or other candy. Just remember that a little bit goes a long way, as they are high in calories.

3. Blueberries - These are another superfood that go great in a number of meals. Great in yogurt, great in oatmeal, great in a smoothie, and even great by themselves. They are packed with antioxidants, nutrients, and flavor. Partially frozen they are like nature's Skittles.

4. Apples - I feel like the apple has got bad press since Snow White ate a poison apple. The apple has been accused of being the forbidden fruit which grew from the tree of knowledge, and in many a children's book has been the home to worms. Even candy in the flavor of apple must always be referred to as "sour". The truth is apples are a gift from God, if not His very chosen nectar. They are good on the go, a great source of soluble fiber, and they make a great base for peanut butter (yes, that childhood favorite has been revisited!).

5. Leafy Greens - Packed with iron, vitamins, and other nutrients, green leafy vegetables are excellent sources of energy and health.

6. Veggies, veggies, more veggies - In addition to leafy greens, other vegetables are also a great addition to the diet. The more natural nutrients you can get from single food sources (fruits and vegetables) the better. This way you body has to do less work to convert those nutrients into a form the body can actually use. Long, round, green, yellow, soft or crunchy. Veggies are good in any form, of all colors of the rainbow. Eat them raw to get the most nutrient rich meals.

7. Milk - Milk is a great recovery drink following a workout. With the protein and calories provided by every gulp, this beverage helps muscles to recover more quickly. As Mamma always said, it will make you grow big and strong.

8. Quinoa - Keen-whaaaaa? Quinoa is a great non-animal form of protein and healthy carbohydrates. In fact, it contains all of the amino acids required for a healthy diet. It is a very versatile food which can be used for breakfast (in oatmeal and/or with fruit), lunch (in a salad), and dinner (as a rice substitute or as a base for a good veggie burger).

9. Oats - Oats are a great and healthy way to get filled up on few calories. They act as a fantastic base for many breakfast foods, and are easy to prepare. I simply bring a baggy of them to work and pop them in the microwave (mixed with water or milk).

10. Seeds (flaxseed, cha-cha-cha-chia seed, etc.) - Looking for a good way to add healthy fats to your diet? Try adding seeds to the above oats, or include them in rice, or eat them by themselves. Chia seeds and flax seeds are a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids as well as soluble fiber.

11. Beans - With a healthy combination of soluble fiber and protein, not to mention the benefits to cholesterol, beans truly are a magical fruit.

12. Avocado - If you are looking for a natural way to load up on calories, avocados are the way to do it at over 300 calories per fruit. Additionally, they are full of vitamins (A, C, E, K, and B6) and healthy fats which lowers cholesterol. Most importantly, they are freakin' delicious!

You'll notice I don't list meat anywhere on the list. This doesn't mean I avoid it, as I love me a good steak, chicken, bacon, etc (and I will eat the hell out of these things if they are being served at a party or restaurant). However, I limit these pretty significantly as I've noticed a marked increase in my performance and mood without them. I don't know why we have to classify our diets, as that significantly restricts us in what we can enjoy, and lumps us into some broad political category. Really, a diet is very personal, and should be configured to the person, as long as it can be maintained for the long term. Gun to my head, I guess I would be a ovo-lacto-pescetarian (take THAT, spell check!).

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I hate sprinting. I hate having to breathe that quickly and heavily, to the point where every part of my body hurts, my heart is beating out of my chest, and I am on the verge of vomiting every few steps. To look on the bright side of my current state of injury, "sprinting" is nowhere on my radar.

Although, it should be. And to be honest, I would welcome the opportunity to pick up my pace and feel the burn, so to speak.

As of a few weeks ago, I left behind the base stage of my training, during which time I was exercising in strictly aerobic heart rate zones, and entered a stage where I was adding short intervals of speed work to my training. It's not that much, less than 10% of my total volume, which is why it is tolerable to me. It was also proving highly beneficial. I found that over the course of the last couple weeks I have been able to break through my plateau and start to get faster, simply because I was mixing up the workouts.

Unfortunately, my failed experiment testing how well my bike could navigate safely through an automobile (turns out not so well) left my left knee sprained, at the very least. Thus, depending on the severity of the injury, I will not have full capabilities of my leg for about 8-12 weeks according to my doctor. Speed work is out of the question, but at least I can resume activities with pain as my guide (in the lower aerobic zones). Setback #1.

Well, that's only half right. I can resume activities as long as I have the equipment to do so. I was informed earlier this week that my bike is damaged beyond repair. One of the unfortunate realities of carbon fiber road bikes is that they can bend in a crash. And when they bend, they don't go back easily. In this case it is a small but significant bend near the rear derailleur. That little bend makes shifting impossible and makes the frame useless. RIP Orbea Ordu. Setback #2.

My new BFF

Well, that's what insurance is for, right? The other party's insurance to be more specific. After all, they were at fault, right?... Right?

Not according to San Clemente's finest. Apparently, as a bicyclist you can still be at fault for faceplanting into a car even if the driver of the car runs a stop sign, doesn't signal, and performs a reckless right turn into your oncoming path. My crime? Must be my inability to successfully pass through solid objects without causing damage. I suppose they're right, I DO need more practice with that. Back to the Physics textbook. It just means I'm out of pocket for the hefty cost of the damage on the bike I just bought (since it's less likely insurance will cover that). Setback #3.

I recognize I'm venting here. A little of that is healthy, but for my own sanity and as a condition of my success going forward I have to refocus my energy on the positive. After all, the very purpose of this whole adventure is to overcome challenges to achieve something great, and do do my best to be in service in the process. I wasn't skipping away from the accident, but I was at least on two legs, with a healthy back and neck, and a fully functional brain (some could argue otherwise, but it wasn't affected by the accident). On that perspective alone, I'm in great shape. Bikes can be rebuilt, pain will subside, and the money comes and goes. The experience, the learning, the joy that comes with success after overcoming an major obstacle is lasting and priceless. 

I'll paraphrase what I heard once from someone (how's that for a reference?). There are good days and great days. A good day is when everything goes well and you don't succumb to your demons. A great day is when everything goes wrong and you still don't succumb to your demons. My wife's wise words are also relevant. The more obstacles I run into the stronger I will be.

Why should I get my ass up early in the morning?

By Marie Hill

Adam asked me to be a guest blog on his site and I was honored to do so.  I am no where near a great or even a good writer. So I might suck at this but it is worth facing your fears. Right?

1.       Vacation!!!
As you can see above the only reason I would wake up at 4:30 am is to drive to the airport to jump on a plane to an exotic beach. So I could soak my feet in the warm sandy water.  It is amazing how quickly I can get out of bed when it is the day that I have been dreaming about since I purchase the tickets 6 months ago!  No need for coffee when you are rushing out the door.  This is true happiness and excitement. 

2.       Race day
This is the second reason I get out of bed early.  I am addicted to running races.   Someone asked me why would get up early and run in a crowd of people.  And my answer is “You have to do it to understand.”  Ok, waiting around for the race to start is not my favorite.  But when it does you realize you are surrounded by the most positive people in the world.  You can’t beat that serotonin rush or “runners high”.  Who doesn’t like to be cheered on by people you don’t even know. And I also have to pick the most scenic races.  If you can’t enjoy the view it is not worth the race. 

3.       Sanity
Why the hell would you get up early on the weekend?  Well, I live with an Ironman in training.  How else am I going to get a long run in with 2 small children and still be able to make it to the beach before the crowds?  This is my time of peace.  This is my meditation.  There is no where I would rather be then quite serenity of the open road.  I am so grateful that I can watch the sunrise.  No, I never get sick of it.  I get to listen to my music, my podcast and my audiobooks.  It hurts the first two steps out of bed.  But when I reach my door after an awesome workout, it is all worth it.

4.       Fear
Tuesday thru Thursday I am motivated to get up early because of fear.  Yes fear of a fat ass.  Why workout first thing in the morning?  Because your brain doesn’t know that it is up yet.  It is a good trick I use to get up and exercise.  I also have learned that I don’t like wasting my time driving to the gym.  Again my brain would have to function in order to operate machinery. It would try to convince me that the time and effort wasn’t worth it. Plus my kids would rather go to the dentist than sit at the gym’s daycare.  So for me the garage, some light weights and the newest youTube workouts suit me the best.

I know what you are thinking.  She is a morning person.  And I would have to agree.  I know that getting up early not only allows me to get a workout in.  But It provides me the serenity of a beautiful sunrise, the sanity to get through the day with two small children and the ability to face my fears (much easier when your brain is not awake)

What does your alarm clock say?   

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Killer Cars

Foolish is he who assumes the person in front of him knows his direction and won't change course in an instant. Especially when said person is driving a PT Cruiser and has tonnage on you. Such was my foolishness on Saturday when I t-boned a PT Cruiser on my bike while riding through the San Clemente pier bowl.

I will begin by saying that I am okay, aside from a few stitches in the chin, various bruises, and a banged up knee (prognosis is still out on this one), but it definitely shook me up. With the force of the impact, I am extremely fortunate not to have injured my neck or back, and that my previously injured shoulder was not aggravated.

It was supposed to be a long workout, with a four hour bike ride followed by a half hour run, break, then a 3,000 yard open water swim. Instead it became a 20 minute ride followed by a day laying on my ass appropriately watching "I Shouldn't be Alive". I planned on riding from North Beach (San Clemente) through the pier bowl and on through San Onofre, Pendleton, and beyond.

Just a note about the "bike route" through the San Clemente pier bowl. I understand why they divert bike traffic through there, as PCH is too narrow and crowded for cyclists, but it is not a safe alternative. San Clemente West of the 5 is highly populated with little or no shoulder, and many blind intersections and distracted drivers. It is also the only way to get from San Clemente to San Onofre on bike, which is very popular. This makes for a very dangerous recipe.

About half way through the bike route I came up behind a PT Cruiser with a driver who appeared uncertain to say the least. I cautiously kept my distance as I thought he would park or turn, and I wanted to avoid the very situation I was about to get into. We came upon an intersection and he slowed and rolled through, appearing confident that he was going to go straight. I caught up at the intersection and committed to following him through (on the right in the bike lane). About 3/4 of the way through, he stopped abruptly and turned right, creating a nice little obstacle in front of me.

Unfortunately, I didn't have ET with me, or a front basket to put him in, so I had no power to fly my bike over the car to safety. Thus I did the next best thing, which was to brake as hard as I could. This sent my rear wheel into the air, forcing me to back off the brakes, lest I put my head between the bike and the car; an undesirable option. So I began to turn with the car, accepting the inevitability of a collision and inability to slow my velocity. The best option became to minimize the speed of the impact and avoid t-boning the car. I would imagine the sight of my bike coming to an immediate and complete stop whilst I proceeded airborne through the intersection would have been a fine spectacle to those surrounding witnesses, but I preferred an outcome a bit less deadly.

The impact itself is a blur, but I remember hitting the car at about a 60 degree angle, with my left leg absorbing most of the impact. At some point I became unclipped from my pedals as I rolled off the front of the car and onto the road. I immediately felt the pain in my leg as bystanders came along to help. One angel of a woman was very calm and helpful (a former sheriff I believe), and stayed with my as the paramedics came. At the time I was sure I was fine and nothing was wrong with me, but adrenaline is a hell of a thing. Long story short, the police took our statements, paramedics cleared me to be driven home by my wife, and we all went home.

I wasn't even aware that I had hit my chin, but when I got home I was able to see the gash and it was clear I needed stitches. We went to the ER, got the stitches, got my head and leg checked out and again was cleared to go.

At the ER, signing my life away for a few stitches and a tetanus shot
Fortunately too the bike sustained minimal damage, which is surprising. On a visual check it appeared that the rear wheel was out of true, and the rear derailleur was bent, but no frame damage. Today I took the bike to Bike Religion in Dana Point to get it checked out and spend what I thought would be hundreds of dollars on a new wheel and derailleur. Upon visual inspection the shop clerk told me it might be fixable, and since I bought the bike there, they would include that as part of my lifetime free tune up package. Keeping my fingers crossed on that one. Regardless, the guys at Bike Religion are pros and I highly recommend them for their knowledge and excellent service.

I am a bit concerned with how quickly I can get back to training. As it is now, I can barely stand and support myself on my left leg. While it may be mostly muscular injury, I need to go see my doctor to check it out for sure. With my first triathlon in a month, I am hopeful that I can get back, but it is necessary to practice the principles I set in the beginning, which is to practice humility, be accepting of my shortcomings, and be patient.  Training injury and stress free requires that any existing injuries heal, lest they be aggravated. It is discouraging to say the least, but I've been through worse challenges before and am experienced enough to get through them and become stronger for it.

This incident demonstrates how I believe God's will works in our lives. It would be naive and arrogant of me to say that God somehow prevented this accident from being a lot worse, as bad things happen all the time to people who pray for more desirable outcomes. Despite our best efforts, no matter how hard we pray we are still subject to the free will of people. Simply I ask that I be given the strength and foresight to do His will in my life. I believe that in my will I would have been more aggressive and selfish in this situation, speeding through the stop sign without any regard for the other car, and thus the accident would have been worse. In His will I was more cautious, and thus hobbled away. That is why I thank God.

Which brings me to the next point, which is how to practice God's will going forward. In my life fear exists without His will. Thus I could choose to hang up the cleats and give up on this all together. This is how I used to live. One of the main reasons I am doing this is because I am afraid to do it. I've learned that instead of telling God how big my storm is, I have to tell the storm how big my God is. I've found that through His will the fears have been conquered despite these minor setbacks. Am I going to let fear or injury dictate how my life should be led? Nope. You bet I will be back on the road as soon as possible (depending on doctor's orders), albeit with a more cautious eye toward the actions of others.

Friday, June 14, 2013


I am working on some changes to this site, so expect some in the coming weeks. I'm relatively naive (and by relatively, I mean extremely) to website development and search engine optimization, so it's a learn as I go kinda thing, but I am hoping that this can continuously improve over time as the focus gets clearer.

The improvements are part of a program called "6X6", which was introduced by Bill Hybels at his Global Leadership Summit. Although it sounds like a tasty In 'N Out burger, the idea is to list six things you want to achieve within the next six weeks and then resolve to complete the list. It sounds simple, and it can be very effective. I've recently put this into effect in my life as it relates to work, personal/family, and health (spiritual, physical, and mental). I won't list everything on my list, but as it relates to this site, my goals are to optimize the website a bit more, and add the two other charities I've promised to include on this fundraising project.

I have found one other charity, Feeding America. I will profile them at a later date. I am still looking for one more, and if anyone has any ideas I am open to them. I looked at the calendar recently and realized we are nine months away from the Ironman Los Cabos. That's still a ways off, but time is flying, so I better get moving on this project...

Another item listed on my six by six is to start growing our own fruits and vegetables to replace the store bought stuff, and cut down on our expense. We decided to go with some regular soil planted veggies and fruits (tomatoes, bell peppers, strawberries), as well as the aeroponic Tower Garden system, as a more space/time efficient way to grow. I'll continue to post on the progress of this, as it will be an experiment to see how effective this is, and I will review the Tower Garden as we go. I am anxious to discover if the hydro/aeroponic vegetables are as nutritious, and truly cost/space effective. The important thing is we will have more control over our own food. We know where it comes from, how it was grown, and how long since it's been harvested.

Gestating Seedlings for the Tower Garden

Bell Peppers, Strawberries, Tomatoes, and the unoccupied Tower Garden in the background
It has felt really good to list these small achievable goals and meet them one by one. For one thing, it feels very productive even though the goals may be very simple. There have been many times where I have lacked motivation, and therefore productivity falls, and I become depressed. It's a downward spiral. However, setting small goals and achieving them feels like an accomplishment and promotes ambition (upward spiral?).

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Home from Paradise

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." - Colossians 3:23

I've returned from my time in paradise refreshed and rejuvenated, with a renewed motivation to more effectively balance work, family, and training. I've also reaffirmed my commitment to give and be in service as much as I can, as I firmly believe and have experienced that the greatest joys and fulfillment come from giving of who you are and what you have. This has certainly been true for me, and I would highly encourage everyone who feels they are missing something out of life (and those who feel they're missing nothing for that matter) to give freely of themselves, and experience grace in return. I was once told by someone much wiser than me that everything we have is on loan to us, entrusted to us, so none of it is ours. We will benefit more from being good stewards of what has been entrusted to us. I frequently fall into the trap of becoming frustrated or angry because I feel I don't have enough of something or something is being wasted, when the truth is I have everything I will ever need.

While it was an indulgence, to say the least, our recent trip to Kauai has been very beneficial to my outlook and inner peace. In my last post I expressed frustration over how slow I was in my run, and concern that I was not biking. Before I left, I lacked a sufficient amount of confidence in the swim, especially open water swimming. It is becoming clear that there is a lot of faith involved in endurance training because there are many aspects that you can't control. At times your heart will beat as fast as it wants to and there isn't much you can do to control it but slow down. This is what I had to do in Hawaii, and I thought I was regressing. However, I became accepting and just remembered to enjoy the run, occasionally stopping for pictures. Below are some shots from my last run, just before leaving for the airport.

Sunrise along a sugar cane access road

Panoramic photo of the sunrise

Mahaulepu Beach - The end of the trail
What I discovered upon my return was very significant. Faith, humility, and acceptance in training appeared to help me improve despite going slower in a hotter, more humid climate. I got back on the bike the day after our return and did a 3.5 hour ride, consistently holding a 19-20 mph pace (although an extreme hill at the end of the course slowed me down and wore me out - one of the unfortunate side effects of living beyond a number of hills). Just today I was able to do a bike/run transition, holding my fastest bike and run splits to date, and I feel great (bike avg. on flat course 19.5 mph for 45 minutes - HR at 135 avg.; Run avg. on flat course 8:34 min/mile for 30 minutes - HR at 141 avg.). Most importantly, I have developed comfort and speed in the water. I am able to swim up to 3,000 yds in a session without being fatigued, and am down to 2 min/100 yds (not great, but good for me). My form feels more natural, and I have confidence in the open water.

Things are definitely improving, and I can see that the focus I am taking on my training (focusing on aerobic heart rate, being humble and accepting, as well as the improved diet) is actually working very well. At this point I think I finally have the confidence to say that I could finish this thing and hopefully do fairly well. But I won't get ahead of myself.

So today, here's where my weekly training is at. 
  • Swim: Three times a week, 3,000 yards per workout
  • Bike: Two shorter rides, one spin, one long ride per week, about 100 miles
  • Run: Two one hour runs including short intervals (picking up the pace to get my heart rate to Z4), two half hour runs transitioning from the bike, and one long run, about 30+ miles
  • Two strength training sessions per week
I know what you may be thinking, and the answer is a lot of 4 am wake up calls. But it is worth it for the time to be with God in meditation, and the energy it provides throughout the day.