Almost Speechless (NYC Marathon 2013)

Fitness, New York City

Almost Speechless (NYC Marathon 2013)

6 Comments 04 November 2013

An inspiring event ran through our “back yard” yesterday, and I thought I’d share a glimpse of it with you. The immensity of the event and the dedication of all who were involved renders me almost speechless. The athletes who trained and competed, the police officers who shut down busy city streets, the crowds bringing encouragement… It left me with few words.

Endurance_Gluten-Free_CatEndurance

Motivation_Gluten-Free_CatMotivation

Determination_Gluten-Free_CatDetermination

Strength_Gluten-Free_CatStrength

Committment_Gluten-Free_CatCommitment

Priscah_Jeptoo_Gluten-Free_CatPriscah Jeptoo – Women’s Marathon Winner

Geoffrey_Mutai_Gluten-Free_Cat

Geoffrey Mutai – Men’s Marathon Winner

Possibilities_Gluten-Free_CatPossibilities

Hope_Gluten-Free_CatHope

Readers, dish!

What brought you encouragement or inspiration this weekend?

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Fitness, GF Recipes, Healthy Living

Stuffed Acorn Squash

21 Comments 24 September 2012

I have this strange habit.  I sign up for a challenge, accomplish it, and then stop. Cold turkey.

On Memorial Day weekend, I ran a marathon.  A FULL marathon.  My FIRST marathon.  That was FOUR months ago.  I haven’t run outside since crossing that finish line…well, except to see who just fell off the monkey bars at recess.  Three years ago, I finished an Olympic length triathlon.  I swam, I biked, I ran.  But after finishing that event, the bike sat in the garage, and I don’t think I’ve entered a lap pool since.  While I haven’t miss the pool, I felt badly for my poor bike.

I even loaned it out to a few people for a few races. It’s a great bike, and it seemed such a shame to have it sit collecting cobwebs. But me? I was content to teach spin classes. Inside.

I have no idea why a finish line holds such a sense of finality for me.  Not just for the day. Not just for the season. But for quite a long time. I tell myself that it’s because I pour myself into my training. By the time the event arrives, I’m ready to be done, and I’m ready for something else. During the last few weeks of training, I dream of yoga or lying on a beach somewhere. Maybe I just don’t have the drive of a true athlete.

But I’m happy to say that I’m finally back to riding my bike.  And I owe it all to my friend, Julie. Julie is an inspiration to me. She is currently training for her second century ride. (Yes, that’s 100 miles. My butt bones can’t even imagine 100 miles in a saddle.) And she has sweetly put on the brakes to allow me to keep up with her for portions of her training rides. I am LOVING it!  Despite the soreness, I love riding in the cool of the early morning, knocking off 30-40 miles before church on a Sunday. It has become the highlight of my week.

What does this have to do with acorn squash?

Nothing really, but as Julie and I ride the rolling hills of the Nachez Trace, I find that our conversation always seems to come back to food.  Recently, Julie asked me if I liked acorn squash. My mind instantly went back to the squash memories of my childhood.  The kind that involved the phrase “you will not leave the table until…” But while grocery shopping later that afternoon, the pile of acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash just looked so fresh and inviting. The gourds smiled at me and said, “This is Fall.  Enjoy me.” Okay, maybe I needed a little sugar after that long ride.

But I loved the acorn squash. And I think you will too. Stuffed with a sweet apple and spinach filling, this squash dish ushered in the season of Fall.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

by Heather

Ingredients:

  • 2 acorn squashes
  • 1 green apple
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 4 c. spinach
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 T. grade B maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. pine nuts

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 375.

2.  Cut 2 acorn squashes in half, remove the seeds, and place the squash face down on a jelly roll pan covered with foil.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Then turn them over and cook for another 30 minutes.

3.  Core and chop apples and toss the apple pieces in lemon juice to keep them from browning.

4.  Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium heat.  Add minced garlic and stir for 2 minutes.

5.  Add onions and apples and sprinkle with nutmeg.  Cook for 5 minutes.

6.  Add spinach, and cook until the spinach wilts.

7.  Season with sea salt, add maple syrup, and remove from heat.

8.  Toast pinenuts in a toaster oven, or wait until the squash is cooked and toast them in the oven.

9.  Remove squash after it’s cooked, stuff each half with apple spinach mixture, and sprinkle with pinenuts.

Serves 4

Thanks, Julie, for your inspiration!  Both physically and in the kitchen!

Readers, dish!

  • Do you like acorn squash?
  • How do you deal with physical challenges?
  • Do you enjoy running or biking?
  • What’s your favorite finish line memory?
This recipe was shared with:
Raw Energy Gel (and my first marathon)

Fitness, GF Recipes, Raw Foods

Raw Energy Gel (and my first marathon)

15 Comments 02 June 2012

You can do anything you put your mind to.  It sounds a little cliche, but there’s a lot of truth to it, especially when running a marathon.

For the past 5 months I’ve been training for a marathon.  My first marathon.  Right now I’m thinking that it will be my only marathon.  I haven’t been too vocal about it, because I wasn’t sure that I’d be successful.  I’ve run many half marathons, but 26.2 miles is a heck of a lot longer than 13.1.  Okay, mathematically I know it’s exactly twice as long, but a full marathon (or “the full” as people from a running town like Nashville call it) might have well been 4 times longer.  It just seemed unattainable.

But last weekend, the Husband and I finished the Buffalo Marathon!  And oh did it feel fantastic!  (Well, after the days of hobbling and icing.)  I now have so much respect for those who run marathons to improve their time and for those who run marathon after marathon because they love it.  I have no idea how they do it.  But I’m thrilled that we were able to finish “the full” in under 5 hours.

Even if it’s just this once.

But this is a food blog.  What does running a marathon have to do with food?

Everything.

Fitness is all about food.  Without food there is no fitness.  Fitness starts with choosing the right food to fuel the work that you ask your body to do.

When I started training, I was eating a high raw diet.  While the mileage was low, I had enough energy to teach kindergarten, lead 4-5 fitness classes, and run three times each week. But when the mileage reached double digits I needed more fuel.  Carbohydrate fuel.  So I started adding brown rice, beans, quinoa, and quinoa pasta (my favorite pre-long run meal), and suddenly those long runs felt better.

Another issue I had to face was nutrition during those long runs.  In the past, I’ve used Hammer Nutrition Gels, GU Energy Gels, and Jelly Belly Sport Beans, all gluten-free products, to give me a boost when training longer than an hour.  But since eating a clean, mostly raw, vegan diet, I had a hard time with the idea of sucking down a package that contained processed ingredients.

So I made my own Raw Energy Gel, and over 5 months of training, I tweaked it until I found the perfect recipe.

This Raw Energy Gel not only took me through the training months, but more importantly, it fueled me through 26.2 miles on race day.

These are the power ingredients.

For many of my runs, a tablespoon of chia seeds was all I needed, but when the mileage increased, the sugar in agave nectar, honey, and dates did the trick.  (Read this post for more information on the power of chia seeds.)

Carob powder makes this gel taste like a Rolo.  Do you remember those?  Gooey caramel encased in chocolate.  ***Note, Chatfield’s Carob does not claim to be gluten-free.  See comments below.

Just toss the ingredients into a mini-food processor and let them sit for an hour to allow the dates to soften and the chia seeds to gel.

Then puree until it’s smooth.

I found that 1 1/2 tablespoons of gel was the perfect amount for every 5 miles.  Any more and I was too full to run.  Any less and I bonked.  Hard.  Play with the serving size to see what works for your body.

I scooped 1 1/2 tablespoons into a Ziploc Snack Bag and stored them in the fridge.

While running, I squeeze the gel into the corner of the baggie, bit off the baggie tip, and squeezed the gel right into my mouth.  Instant energy.

This recipe makes 5-6 bags of Raw Energy Gel.  Store them in the fridge, but take them out a few minutes before shoving them in your running shorts. Brrrrrr!

Raw Energy Gel

by Heather

Ingredients:

  • 6 raw dates
  • 1/2 c. raw agave nectar/honey combination (I use 50/50, but play with the ratio to find your ideal combination.)
  • 1 T. chia seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 T. carob powder

Directions:

1.  Place all ingredients in a mini-food processor, and let them sit for 1 hour.

2.  Process until the mixture is almost smooth. (Leaving the dates a little chunky gives you something to chew while running…a nice distraction from the running.)

3.  Scoop 1 1/2 tablespoon of gel into each snack-sized baggie.

4.  Press the air out of each baggie, zip them up, and store the baggies in the fridge.

Makes five 1 ½ T. servings

Run well, run fueled, and run raw!

Readers, dish!

  • Do you have a dream goal that seems unattainable?
  • Endurance athletes, what do you eat during training?
  • What physical accomplishment are you most proud of?
  • What could you do if you put your mind to it?
This recipe was shared with:

 

Guest Post! The Gift of a Lunchbox

Fitness, GF Recipes, GF Resources

Guest Post! The Gift of a Lunchbox

14 Comments 05 April 2011

Today, I am opening a special gift that I’d like to share with you.  It’s the gift of a lunchbox from Valerie, a new friend from City|Life|Eats.  I hope her guest post inspires you as much as it inspires me!

Hello Gluten-Free Cat readers! Heather guest-blogged a wonderful lunchbox completely suited to my various food intolerances and restrictions last week on my blog, so I am thrilled to be making her a lunchbox today. There is one catch, in that we do not live in the same city, so sadly I cannot actually give Heather this lunchbox to take with her to work, but I hope it still provides inspiration for her and all of you.

Switching to a gluten-free diet, whether because of a Celiac diagnosis or non-Celiac gluten intolerance, entails so many changes -  scrutinizing labels, reinventing old favorites, reorganizing kitchens and pantries -  but I think for many of us, one of the biggest changes is eating out, especially when on-the-go, whether on your lunch break or out on the weekends.  I know before switching to a gluten-free diet, I brought my lunch to work almost every day, but I also knew I could rely on local lunch places if need be.  This is no longer the case since discovering I am intolerant to gluten, dairy and chicken eggs and also choosing to avoid refined sugars and a few other foods that do not agree with me. Yes, I can and do eat out, but it requires time, forethought and asking questions, and is not usually compatible with a short lunch break.

So now I pack my lunch and snacks without fail. Last September, I started writing a series on my blog called Today’s Lunchbox, thinking my lunchboxes might interest some of my readers.  I vastly underestimated the interest people have in this series.  What was initially a week-long project became month-long, and has now passed its six-month mark.  I mainly write about lunchboxes I bring to work (which generally include a lunch and a couple of snacks) but also weekend lunchboxes and travel lunchboxes.

As you know from reading Heather’s blog, she has a pretty packed schedule between teaching elementary school all day and leading intense exercise classes (see, the Accumulator) so her main requirements for a lunchbox are that it be gluten-free  and high enough in protein to sustain her energy.   My job is much more sedentary but I think we can all relate to wanting a nutrient-dense and energy-packed lunchbox.  This is the lunchbox I came up with for Heather and one I enjoyed thoroughly last week:

  • Veggie-full Breakfast Hash from Ricki Heller’s new book Good Morning! Breakfasts without Sugar, Gluten, Eggs or Dairy. This e-book came out yesterday, but I actually was a recipe tester, so have been making this hash for a couple of months now.  It is technically a breakfast recipe, but I love it as a lunchbox staple.  While the recipe calls for tempeh or black beans, I use both to up the protein, and because I love the combination of textures of the tempeh, beans, sweet potatoes and vegetables.
  • Sides of roasted carrots and steamed kale.  I like how well steamed kale holds up in a lunchbox and it is a vegetable with a comparatively high amino acid profile, so I make sure to include it often in my lunchboxes.
  • A Pumpkin Cranberry Muffin from Carol Kicinski’s upcoming book Simply… Gluten-Free Desserts (reviewed here).  This muffin is made with almond flour and eggs (I substitute duck eggs for the chicken eggs) so packs quite a protein punch. I love this as a late-morning snack.
  • Pumpkin Chia Pudding – I am a huge fan of this recipe by Gena from Choosing Raw.  It has protein, healthy fats and some fiber, not to mention all the goodness from pumpkin and cinnamon.  I like chia puddings generally because they are easy to digest, have protein and are nutrient dense.  I often include a chia pudding in my lunchboxes and have made numerous variations, whether from other bloggers or variations of my own.

Packing a lunchbox requires forethought and time, but it is worth it to me.  I generally rely on leftovers and recipes such as the hash and the chia pudding that generate multiple servings.  I also like to rely on staples that are similar but not identical (like hummus, bean dips, or nut-based dips) which are easy in that the food processor does most of the work, and can be used to supplement a lunchbox (as a snack with veggies and/or crackers), or be the central component of a lunchbox (in wraps).

Valerie blogs at  City|Life|Eats about food, life, work, and living with food allergies and a modified diet. Her lunchboxes and recipes are gluten-free,  dairy-free  and often, but not exclusively, vegan.  You can subscribe to City|Life|Eats via RSS or email or connect with Valerie via Twitter or Facebook.

 

Pomegranate Chia Fresca: Run Like the Tarahumara!

Fitness, GF Recipes

Pomegranate Chia Fresca: Run Like the Tarahumara!

14 Comments 24 January 2011

Aside from the whole chia pet thing, I learned about the power of the chia seed while reading Born to Run, a book that tells the story of the Tarahumara Indians, long-distance runners in Mexico’s Copper Canyons.  These incredible athletes are able to run for days fueled on pinole and chia seeds while wearing the equivalent of tire treads strapped to the soles of their feet.

I certainly was not Born to Run, and I will never run an ultra marathon, but every book you read changes you some how.  Born to Run is no exception:

1.  I switched from my over-supportive running shoes to Nike Frees.  My feet are stronger, and I no longer make that emergency trip to Fleet Feet with an over-training injury the week before running in an event.

2.  My running style has changed from a heel strike to a midfoot strike resulting in a lighter gait and faster run times.

3.  I’m more in tune with my body as I run, and I can relax and enjoy the experience instead of longing for the end of the run.

4.  And I’ve learned the power of the chia seed.

Chia seeds are an ancient superfood that can add incredible nutritional benefits to your gluten-free diet. When added to water, chia seeds absorb the water and form a gel.  They can actually absorb 12 times their weight in water!  Drinking soaked chia seeds before a run or toting a baggie of dry seeds with you to munch on along the way can prolong hydration and help you retain electrolytes while exercising.  (If you try the dry seed method, just don’t smile at other runners passing by!)  This water absorption reaction also occurs in your stomach, slowing down the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar.  And because of their expansive nature, they’re known as a dieter’s dream as they help you feel satisfied.

Chia seeds are also:

  • High in Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Rich in antioxidants
  • Complete with all essential amino acids
  • Known as a complete protein
  • And provide phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc

They also have:

  • 2 times more potassium than bananas
  • 3 times more antioxidants than blueberries
  • More calcium than milk
  • And 5 grams of fiber in each 15 gram serving

So I took the benefits of this superfood,

and the nutrients of this simple, yet intriguing fruit,

and put them together into this one amazing drink.

You may have first seen my Pomegranate Chia Fresca featured in last week’s Friday’s Find when I praised the simple, naturally gluten-free pomegranate.  Whether you’re a runner, a gym rat, a yogi, or you just want an afternoon pick-me-up that’s packed with nutritional benefits, give this refreshing drink a try.

Pomegranate Chia Fresca
(adapted from No Meat Athlete since I don’t have access to any ancient Aztec or Mayan cookbooks - original recipe here)

Ingredients:

  • 1 T. dry chia seeds
  • 10 oz. water
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4-1/2 c. fresh pomegranate juice (yield from ½-1 c. pomegranate seeds or use POM Juice)
  • 2 drops of liquid stevia

Directions:

1.  Combine 1 T. of dry chia seeds with 10 ounces of water in a small glass or bowl.

2.  Stir the mixture gently with a spoon to keep the seeds from clumping together.

3.  Allow the mixture to stand for about 10 minutes until they form a gel.

4.  Add 2 tsp. of fresh lemon juice, ¼ c. of fresh pomegranate juice, and 2 drops stevia, and swirl until combined.

5.  Down the hatch and out the door!

 

Other ways to use chia seeds:

  • Sprinkle them on a salad
  • Stir them into yogurt
  • Add a teaspoon to gluten-free oatmeal or hot cereal
  • Add them to the batter of baked goods
  • Soak the seeds in water and add them to you favorite smoothie
  • Carry them in a baggie and crunch away while you run!

Have you tried chia seeds?  How do you like to use them?

Pumping Through Pumpkin Month

Fitness

Pumping Through Pumpkin Month

5 Comments 21 October 2010

I’ve been missing from the gluten-free blogging scene, and I don’t like it one bit, especially in October.  I used to mourn when I couldn’t find the time to write twice a week.  Then I got used to it, but I’d cringe when a whole week had passed and I hadn’t had a chance to blog.  Now I’m lucky if I get a moment to glance at Google Reader to scan the hundreds of post titles that my fellow food bloggers have cranked out since the last time I checked. My reader is choc full of posts about pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pancakes, and I’m incredibly jealous.  Have I run out of things to say?  Funny thought.  Have I gone back to my glutenous ways?  I’d never do that.  So what is up with the Gluten-Free Cat?  Where has she been?

She’s been pumping through pumpkin month, Les Mills style.

BodyPump has been around for almost 20 years now, strengthening bodies all over the world with intense cardio and strength training workouts.  I had an opportunity to be trained to be an instructor in August and passed my assessments with this amazing trainer.

Think Jillian Michaels pushing you for three 9-hour days in a row.  What a RUSH, what an experience, what PAIN, what a feeling of accomplishment.

Since then, Fall semester started, and the Husband had to say goodbye to Summer Heather.  Starting the school year is always intense.  But this year brought new challenges with a grade level change.

I completed my first triathlon.

I ran Nashville’s first Women’s Half Marathon.

And I’ve been preparing for my BodyPump final video assessment.  CONSTANTLY.  What does preparation include?  Here are 10 examples to give you a little taste of my world:

1.  Listen to the same 10 songs over and over and over again until you know every word, beat, verse, chorus, bridge, and nuance.

2.  Practice choreography in the living room with pretend weights.

3.  Teach practice sessions to willing friends.

4.  Play the same 10 songs while driving but watching choreography in your head.  Assume that other drivers think you are talking angrily on a hands-free phone when you’re really barking coaching cues to the windshield.

5.  Meet with other instructors to practice teaching tracks to each other.

6.  Study compulsory cues, memorize phrases, and hope you’ll remember to say them all when the tape is rolling.

7.  Practice the proper form of EVERY exercise imaginable.  Including pushups.  (Tricep pushups too.)

8.  Lay in bed wondering if the second set of lunges starts 3/1 or 2/2.

9.  Get up and rifle through BodyPump notes to find the answer so you can finally fall asleep.

10.  Find a way to videotape a complete class with real participants, without any errors, before the class is even offered at your gym.

It’s been a long month, I’m exhausted, now I’m sick in bed, which is why I even have a moment to post this entry, and I just hope I’m well enough to lift a weight for Saturday’s taping.

So, the recipes will have to wait.  I hate that we are heading into the end of October and I haven’t even attempted to bake something pumpkiny.  I’m dying to share my gluten-free experiences of the past month.  I even have a box of new products sitting on my kitchen counter sent to me from a vendor.  I can’t wait to review them.  But I’ll have to be patient, because October is pumping month.  Maybe November can be my pumpkin month.

I’ve missed you all.  Let’s hope this assessment goes well so that I can start pumping out more than just weighted plates.  Until then, see you at the gym!

The Terrible, Horrible, Incredible Triathlon

Fitness

The Terrible, Horrible, Incredible Triathlon

16 Comments 21 August 2010

It has been a long week, a week that started with accomplishing the most intense physical challenge of my life, followed by teaching my first week of school with a new class in a new team in a new grade, and then teaching my regular fitness classes.  There have been no gluten-free aha moments, no evenings of cooking delicious meals (unless you count a really good gluten-free pizza topped with string cheese).

(String cheese actually works pretty well in a pinch.)

There has been no time to tweet with my gluten-free friends, and definitely no time for blogging.  I’ve missed my blogalicious friends tremendously.  I’m physically and mentally exhausted, and now that it’s finally the weekend, I have a cold.

I’m done complaining.  It really hasn’t been as terrible as it sounds.  I have a fantastic class of cute, quirky, smart, thoughtful, squirmy little nine- and ten-year olds.  My new team is great, although I miss my old teammates.  And I just completed an Olympic length triathlon!!!  I still can’t believe it.

I knew I could bike the 25 miles.  I’ve taught spin classes for years, I’ve worked really hard on speed, and I rode 35 miles several times this summer.  I had no idea how fast I could bike though in a racing situation.

I knew I could run 6.2 miles.  It would be hard after swimming and biking, but I knew I could push through it, and I could even walk if I needed to.  I was not concerned with time.  I just wanted to finish this triathlon.

But the swim.  I wasn’t sure about the swim.  I knew I could swim over a mile in a pool.  Cardiovascularly, I was ready for this.  But swimming in a lake would bring a host of challenges.

And they were all terrible and horrible.

That swim was one of the most terrifying moments I can remember.  But I was glad to have the Husband and Andrea there to remind me that I was going to give it my all and that I could do it.

What was I so afraid of?  See here.  Out of that LONG list of fears, I experienced every single one of them, except for the snakes.  And each one was as terrifying as I imagined it being.

I got kicked in the head at the start.  I got smacked and grabbed by the flailing arms and legs of other competitors.  I couldn’t catch my breath, so I couldn’t put my face in the water without gasping.  I couldn’t swim in a straight line.  As people were passing me while I was doing the SIDE STROKE, I thought, “Who are you kidding?  You don’t belong out here!!!” But as I rounded the first buoy, I was able to get my face in the water.  I got into a rhythm, and the time swimming increased, and the time dog paddling decreased.  It was long, it was miserable, I did a lot of praying.  And I can’t remember being happier to leave anywhere than I was while running out of that lake.  And despite all of my floundering, I still can’t believe that I swam 1500 meters in 27:10.

Transitioning to the bike, I put the swim out of my mind and prepared for the best ride of my life.  The great thing about being a slow swimmer is that there are more people to pass on the road!  I biked hard and fast, finishing in 1:17:26.

The run was excruciating.  I hit a spot between miles two and three when those doubts started creeping in again.  “What are you doing out here?  These people know what they’re doing.  You’re an elementary school teacher, not an athlete.  You are so not in their league.”  But I pushed those voices aside and put one foot in front of the other.

I kept passing an older man on the bike and the run.  And then he’d creep up and pass me again.  We swapped positions several times until we were side-by-side for the last mile.  After a terrifying swim, a wonderful bike ride, and five miles of flipping back and forth between physical and mental numbness and physical and mental pain, this man encouraged me through the last mile.  When I wanted to slow down a little on the final hill, he told me to pick it up.  When I wondered if I could make it, he told me that I could.   We crossed the finish line together and ended our brief friendship with a high five.  A total stranger.  But I’ll never forget him.

I was pleased with a time of 56:09 for the 10k run.  Heck, I was pleased just to be done running.

It was terrible, horrible, and incredible all at the same time.  But the most wonderful moment was the moment when it was all over.  Not only had I accomplished my goal of finishing the triathlon, but I finished way sooner than I had hoped at 2:48:49.

And THAT is incredible!

Tomorrow is the Day

Fitness

Tomorrow is the Day

1 Comment 14 August 2010

It’s the day that I’ve been training for all summer.

It’s the day that has always been weeks away.

It’s the day that I’ve feared.

It’s the day that I’ve looked forward to.

And it’s finally here.

Tomorrow is the Day.

So, today we prepare.

Today we pack.

Today I endure butterflies performing triple backflips in the pit of my stomach.

And I can’t wait for that moment when I know that I’ve survived the lake swim.

Or when I’ve crossed this finish line.

Tomorrow is the Day.

My First Open Water Swim

Fitness

My First Open Water Swim

6 Comments 08 August 2010

I am not normally a procrastinator.  The closer a due date comes, the more stress I feel.  So my theory is that in order to minimize stress, just get the task done early.  The due date comes, the stress level is low, and my task is complete.

You can’t procrastinate when training for a distance event.  The body needs time to adapt to the progressively increasing mileage.  I’ve been training all summer for my first triathlon, increasing mileage each week, compounding workouts, until I actually completed race distance in all three events yesterday.  I feel so good going into this race, knowing that I have a 1.5k swim, a 40k bike, and a 10k run under my belt.  Now I just need to do it all one more time, for real, next Sunday.

Although I’m not a procrastinator, especially when it comes to training, there is one little thing that I’ve kept putting off.  The open water swim.  I’ve been deathly afraid of swimming just under a mile in a lake.

What am I so afraid of?

1.  Getting tired and not being able to hold onto the side of the pool to catch my breath.

2.  Snakes.

3.  Swimming across the natural habitat of many species that I can’t see but that can see me.

4.  Snakes.

5.  Not being able to see the bottom of the lake.

6.  Snakes.

7.  Not being able to swim in a straight line without lane lines.

8.  Snakes.

9.  Flailing arms and legs around me and choking on their splashing.

10.  Snakes.

This morning was the very last moment that I had to swim in a lake as school starts tomorrow, and next weekend will be spent traveling to Fall Creek Falls.

Today had to be the day.

The sun was just starting to rise when I slowly walked down to the water’s edge.

Fog was hovering above the lake as I gingerly tiptoed into the bath-like water.

The mossy rocks felt disgusting under my feet, and I couldn’t wait to get in far enough to pull my feet up and tread water.  But, kerplunk!  I slipped and fell, enjoying the slimy bottom with more than just my toes.  Ick.

But I did it.

The Husband swam next to me, encouraging me the whole way.  We swam across the cove of the lake and back again.  I practiced sighting, aiming for a tree, and I was amazed when I stopped in the middle to see just how far I’d come.  Going back and forth in a pool you don’t get a true picture of the distance that you’ve covered.  But when you stop in the middle of the lake and see tiny your tiny car back on the bank, it’s quite evident.

I didn’t panic, I had a little practice sighting and adjusting my direction, I didn’t see a single snake, and I swam through the green water only being able to see my fingertips as I reached through each stroke.

I only swam back and forth once.  But that was enough for me to realize that I can do this next weekend.  There’s nothing to be afraid of.  (And the snakes will be scared away before I even get into the water as the women start after the men!)

Triathlon, here I come!

(Gulp!)

A Curious Girl in the Gluten-Free World

I'm a curious girl, wife, teacher, friend, fitness fanatic, foodie, high raw vegan, child of the King, and Mama Cat. I've made the transition from baking and cooking gluten-free to creating raw vegan recipes that are naturally gluten free. My gluten intolerance opened up my diet to a whole new world of nutritious plant-based foods. And now I have another challenge ahead...I'm moving to New York City! I look forward to Living Raw Vegan in the City and sharing my experience with you.

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