Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spain Day #12, 13, 14

At first I missed a couple of days of blogging because I was WIPED OUT. I’ve been here for more than 2 weeks, training everyday, and it’s catching up with me. When I finally collected myself enough to get on the computer the internet went all wonky again. Now, I’ll have to do my best to remember the last few days…

Day #12 was a “rest day” so we only trained for 1-2 hours. I jumped in on the Funny Run with Grant and Anna. We explored the olive groves and got about 10 lbs of mud and clay caked on our shoes. It felt like someone turned the gravity up on us and all we could do was run and laugh until we were crying. The earth shoes are actually perfect for Anna because they slow her down enough that we can almost keep up with her.
After lunch we went into Malaga to watch the Vuelta a Andalucia. It was wicked cool to see with the whole gang there.

Day #13 was the Pico (Sierra Nevada) climb. It’s one of the most challenging climbs on the pro tour and WE DID IT. It was around 30k with hills that ranged from 5-22% grade. It was incredible to start at the bottom where it was warm and climb into the snow after 2 hours of pushing those pedals. One of our guys took a detour because he was so buried at that point. I won’t poke fun and start naming names but you can read the full account here.

Day #14 started with a swim workout lead by John. We practiced a treading water swim start (like IMLP) and John even sang the song “It’s a beautiful day” just like at the race.
Then we got on the bikes to ride the “Kirkwood Express” which traveled through valleys of olive groves with no cars on any of the roads. I started this ride feeling cooked and I thought I had to get in the van. When I tried, Andy said “Why are you getting in now? It’s a descent. Just do it.” So I did and then I felt amazing again. At one point Anna took a sip out of her water bottle, which must have been filled with rocket fuel, because she suddenly took off. I held on and followed her for a wicked fast and fun descent on a slightly more narrow road surrounded by almond blossoms.

Stay tuned for the last few days...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spain Day #11 - Perdone, donde esta el Christine?

"And when the day is done and I look back, the fact is I had fun, fumbling around" - A Mistake, Fiona Apple

(Dave "sun's out, guns out" Pike)

Today was AWESOME. Most people ran in the morning but I had a dream about a serial killer and some brooms and mops that encouraged me to stay in bed and sort myself out. After breakfast we set out for the Puerto Del Sol. I did this one once before so I had 2 goals:

1. to beat my previous time
2. and of course there's always the "must beat Bobby" goal

The ride to the climb was a climb, the descent was a climb, and then we got to the climb. This group is SO wicked fun to train with. It's been especially awesome hanging out with Anna a ton because she rulez. She's a girl, but she's wicked surly, so yeah... awesome. She does paint her nails like a froo-froo but its black nailpolish on un-halloween so you just know better than to mess with her. We were pretty toasted today after the climb, which was obvious when, at one point, Anna came into the cafe we stopped at and said, "where's the Christine... I mean bathroom?"

I beat my time up Puerto Del Sol AND I beat Bobby (though he kills me on flats and descents). I feel like a superhero today. When we got back we did some yoga. We hung out for a bit in the hip stretchy poses and Bobby videotaped it and there was minimal giggling. I DO NOT permit giggling in my yoga classes. Bobby has this stretch armstrong tri-pod thingy that looks like Tim Burton designed it. It actually kinda freaks me out because he can easily put a camera up anywhere. You really gotta watch what you do and say around here ;)

(this is the face I make when Pike pulls his guns out)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Spain Day #10 - "Eso es lo que dijo ella"

(a goat traffic jam just before the climb)

"That's what she said"

It makes total sense, as Dylan pointed out, that this phrase is a quality not quantity effort. For example:

If your partner says "G, will you pass me the chain lube?" You may want to respond "That's what she said".

Conversely, if your beloved says "D, have you seen my other bike shoe?" You might want to save it for a better opportunity.

It's an overuse risk and it may even be a physics problem. Dylan (our camp record murderer) will be teaching That's What She Said: 101. His delivery is impeccable.

So last night my legs were ACHING. This morning I swam with the triathletes, which was unusual for me. Last camp I snuggled with the roadies until 9am while the triathletes went swimming. It was wicked nice. Today I decided to start being a proper triathlete and I joined the group for the pool. I loved it, of course.

Then we set out for our first ride of Camp Numero Dos. I was dreading my aching leg feeling until we discovered that SOMEONE forgot their bike. It was his first day so I let him ride my bike. Let's not make fun of him. It was an understandable mistake. A miscommunication, really. At least he didn't BAIL OUT of the ride ;) Turns out he loved my bike and I got an awesome recovery day. I'm so amped for tomorrow.

I <3 Spain.

Spain Day #9 - Adios and Hola

(Erich and John soaking up the sunshine)

The pic is from our lunch on day 8. We stopped in a plaza that was having a festival. There were kids in costume everywhere and we sat in the sun and had lunch. I was SO happy to be there because there was tons of culture to soak in. It was the last day for the first camp and it was awesome to have that experience with that group. They were an awesome (and amazingly talented) group. We even got to keep a few peeps for the next camp.

On Sunday I requested the privilege of joining in for the airport trips. This way I got more time with my new friends who were leaving :( AND my old friends who would be arriving :).

I have been laughing hysterically ever since we left the airport. I'm seriously concerned about my riding capabilities under the influence of so much joking and hysteria. I'll keep you posted... but I may not survive this. My abs already hurt. I'm also fearful of going to bed at night for 2 reasons:

1. Someone will do something terrible to me while I sleep.
2. I will have be the outsider on all of the inside jokes that happen after 10pm.

I'm seriously glad I'm all caught up on sleep. Because I'm in Spain. All I have to do is train and eat and sleep. This is my life???

Spain Day #8 - Yo Quiero Mas

(group pic at the top of el Torcal)

The numbers say that this was the hardest training day of my life. If this were a word problem in your elementary school math textbook it would say something like:

"Guru rode her bike for 5 hours. She climbed a very steep 3k, then 5k, then 15k hill. Her final hill was a a 17% grade. How long did Guru soak in the hot tub once she got back to the camp?"

Anyway, that sounds insane. Here's the thing, I spent that ride looking a beautiful Spain thinking, "this is just awesome" while I rode with some awesome people. It wasn't a hard training day, it was a sick training day and an unforgettably awesome training day.

I had even decided not to do the hardest part but when we got there John said, "you're doing this". And I did :D Thank you, John, for that gift.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Spain Day #7 - Que Dolor

This morning I really started to feel the build up of training in these mountains. My legs were starting to feel heavy... in the hurt so good way. I'm doing what I came here to do. The people here are all very intelligent about their training and the general effort has been easily kept at a base pace. To start today's long ride, a new one called Fuente de la Reina, I was lucky enough to be joined by the CCB Escort Service. Sean and Dylan rode with our group and offered me some really helpful tips about climbing and descending. I got to test their advice and it made a difference in my technique. We had some seriously strong crosswinds, so it was awesome to have these guys teaching me how to avoid being thrown off the mountain. Over the first few miles it was taking my heavy legs longer to juice up and I started to fall back from the group, so I took Dylan up on his offer for a "hillevator" ride. He put his hand on my back and gave me a push while I still had to pedal hard against the wind. He's pretty dreamy so... that part was fun ;)

Once we got to the "start" the descent was 19k of twists and turns in the wind. The view overlooked the Mediterranean, which was a great distraction from the thought that we would have to come back up that unforgiving 19k hill. When it was time to start the climb I tuned into my "suffer and hurt" music, Tool. I love Tool for climbing because its the perfect amount of aggression at the perfect tempo for turning the gears over and keeping it steady. Another trick that I use for hard training is to summon my inner Phil. Phil is such an optimistic and awesome training partner and he seems to always say "this is just awesome" at the perfect time. I try to remember to focus on the beauty as I train, whether it be in the scenery or in the company, by taking a second to be present and appreciate where I am. This is VERY easy in a gorgeous place like Spain.

So with my mind away from the suffering and onto the positive, Sean comes up next to me and points out that someone has spray painted on the road in front of us "que dolor?" which means "what suffering?". It was too perfect. That phrase will definitely be added to my endurance bank.

That is when I glanced over, almost to the top of an evil mean climb, to see an actual spine on the dirt in the shoulder of the road...

Day #6 Puerto Del Sol

Day #6 was an "easy" day. We rode 45 minutes to the Puerto Del Sol, which people use as a time trial. It's a 7k climb averaging 5-8% and the times get added to a board in the dining room with each person's nickname. I had already found "Voodoo Phil" as soon as I arrived at the camp. He killed it last year. The climb was super fun and I just found my comfy kill spot and sat there all the way up. My buddy Dylan beat the camp and local records by about 3 minutes. That boy is an animal. After we all met up at the top we rode back to a cafe/bar to finish our ride. Some guys added a bonus climb while we drank cafe con leche. We ended our day with a long yoga session once we got back and I got a massage before dinner.

Before bed we piled into the sun porch and watched women's curling. It blew my mind.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spain Day #4 and #5 - Soy un machine

(the mysterious coffee cave had Texas cactus, hmmm)

Day #4 was a well-deserved rest day in Granada. Some people went to visit The Alhambra before scoping out the town, and my group went for a hike. We ended up at a cafe that was situated in a cave. You would never know it was there unless you knew a guy... who knew the guy... who went there that one time. And even then you wouldn't be sure you believe him that its there. Especially after he described the decor to include ceramic eyeballs, plastic hands, and beautiful little coffees with fancy artwork cookies on top. That's why you would hike to the top to see for yourself. Turns out it was real and awesome.

(a cutesy coffee made by a real live cave man)

(a pretty rainbow on our hilly ride)

"In Spain, even some of the descents are uphill" - John Hirsch

Day #5 was a gorgeous ride over some tough 7k climbs with a fun surprise at the end... "Amelia Pukes Hill". I didn't puke and I actually managed to catch the guys in front of me. I had a kick ass day and hope to do that ride again next camp. I took a gazillion pics. When we got back people requested yoga so we had an excellent yoga session before dinner.

Day #6 was even harder... stay tuned.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Spain Day #3

So yesterday Sean's handlebar broke right before a huge climb. He finished the ride like that, he's such a badass. Later, I overheard the following conversation between John and Sean:

Sean: "I can ride my bike with no handlebars"
John: "No handlebars?"
Sean: "No handlebars"
John: "I can ride MY bike with no handlebars"
Sean: "No handlebars???"
John: "No handlebars"

I can't believe I'm sharing a room with these guys for 3 weeks. I just sit here and laugh. Watching them is like watching a wicked funny movie.

Anyway, today started with another awesome yoga session. This has been super fun for me so far because even though I have a yoga teaching certification, I don't really use it. I've helped a few people with their practices in the past and I often share certain yoga poses to help clients with various health/athletic concerns but I've never taught an entire group. As it turns out, I really like it. Its been a big hit with people at the camp, which is reassuring that I'm also good at teaching. Maybe I'll incorporate more yoga teaching at home. Also, one of the campers gave me a great idea today... I'm going to do a fast paced yoga class to death metal ;) YES!

After breakfast the camp split up. There was a swim option, a ride option, and a rest option. I'm here for both sessions so I decided to hang back and get some work done (I was the only one). And maybe also hang out in the hot tub (the whole place to myself).

After lunch we all went for a long (ish) run. I've already mentioned the talent in this camp... I wasn't about to try to keep up with them for 90 mins on their base pace run. So I had a great run at a smart pace, for me. It was muddy. Muddy = awesome. I had so much fun.

After another long/hard day, we're definitely ready for a day off tomorrow. We're off to go sightseeing and I'm really looking forward to it. There will probably be some people running in the morning and an evening yoga class. It's gonna be another perfect day :)

Also, I found a book here. its called Wayward Girls and Wicked Women. I don't know who it belongs to, but I'm reading it. It's about how women are portrayed in fiction by other women, compared to male authors writing about women. It's really not even a feminist thing and its actually pretty interesting. The damsel in distress, in the eye of the male author, becomes a manipulative female hero from the other perspective. Anyway...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Spain Travel and Day #1

"I like the [bicycle], I like you
I like to run, I like you
I like the rain, I like you
I like to come back, I like you
I like the mountain, I like you
I like the night, I like you

What am I gonna do- je ne sais pas*
What am I gonna do- je ne sais plus*
What am I gonna do- je suis perdu*
What time is it, my heart?" - Manu Chao, Me gustas tu

After a long night of flying and running the Heathrow 5k to make our connection (sprint with heavy luggage for speed and strength training), we finally arrived in Malaga. Unfortunately our bikes weren't as swift as we were and they had to come in on the next flight. While we waited we enjoyed our first cafe con leche and a fresh squeezed orange juice.

The home of SLB is beautiful. I'm in love with breathing this mountain air. The food is healthy and incredible. The chef has done an amazing job with catering to my wheat allergy. I'm so thankful.

Last night we were all pretty tired from traveling, and the people who got here a day earlier did a long ride, so we chilled out and watched movies. Its an awesome group of folks and I'm excited to spend the next week+ with them.

This morning I got to sleep in a bit before we went out for our ride. It was a bit rainy but we have a sag wagon so we can load it up with warm/dry gear to change into. Its so awesome to just bring everything you *might* need. The support team has been super cool and friendly too. After about an hour of riding in the rain I was soaked and cold and my fingers weren't doing great with shifting and breaking. I have 3 weeks of this so I took the smart way out and completed the next 90 minutes of the ride in the van. I love that I can jump out or jump in on the rides at any point because we have a van following us. I also love that its not a big deal not to finish a ride because there's plenty of running, yoga and even more riding back at the SLB home.

I found an AWESOME way to learn spanish yesterday too. In the dining room they have Cluedo! Guess what that is?! Spanish Clue! So far I think it was Sra. Blanco, with the candelabra, in the biblioteca.

Okay... off to run and then teach some yoga. The internet here isn't great so I probably won't be uploading many pics. Just picture beautiful mountains, delicious food and athletic people in tight clothing.

Spain Day #2

"I may take a holiday in Spain
Leave my wings behind me
Drink my worries down the drain
And fly away to somewhere new
Hop on my choo-choo
I'll be your engine driver in a bunny suit
If you dress me up in pink and white" - Counting Crows, Holiday in Spain

First let me say, sitting in an outdoor hot tub while looking over olive groves and mountains has to be one of the greatest things I've done in a while... and I do some pretty awesome stuff. This place is breathtakingly beautiful.

Today we did an incredible 4-5 hour ride. The ride was a new addition for this year. I'm sitting here with pro roadie, Dylan (aka Chupar), and he just "well I definitely got a hard workout in today, that climb was tough!" It really was perfect because I was able to complete it, while faster guys were impressed with it.

Today was awesome because:

*We started the ride with some local peeps.
*We did about 7,000 ft of climbing with fast and exciting technical descents.
*We stopped for a cafe con leche near the top of a mountain.
*There were varying degrees of temperature because of the change in altitude, which was a totally new (and awesome) experience for me.
*We ran into goat rush hour and had to slow down to get through the goat traffic jam.
*We had about 17 people riding in our group, including several pros, ironmen, and about 5 people training for IMLP 2010.
*The support team definitely gets an A+. Everything that we could possibly need was there for us, even before we knew we needed it. We even have massage, woah.

By the way, I was thrilled to see that Spain has the same type of cactus as Texas (because I love TX). John said that he had it imported and planted there for me for Valentine's Day. I'm such a lucky girl ;)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Canceled Flight = Snowstorm Run

We found out yesterday that our flight to London was canceled, so we rescheduled for Thursday night. Hopefully we'll get out without issues. In the meantime, I couldn't resist a snowy run in Central Park! It was a perfect run to get me even more pumped to get out of here and go to Spain (SLB Training Camp) to train in the warm mountains :)

On my way up Harlem Hill:

And this is me with my snowy city:

Morningside Park:

Snowy sidewalk on 121st Street:

Covered in snow and back at home:

This is where I'll be swim/bike/running 2 days from now (Yeah, I stole this pic from your blog Phil):

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Emptying the Fridge Soup... and Whatnot

"Well I never been to Spain
But I kinda like the music
Say the ladies are insane there
And they sure know how to use it
They don't abuse it
Never gonna lose it
I can't refuse it" - Elvis (thanks for pointing this one out H)

I'm sooo excited because we leave for 3 weeks in Spain this week. We're escaping Winter! I'm going to teach yoga and we'll ride bikes up mountains at SLB Training Camp. Is this really my life?

I wanted to use up all the fresh veggies I had in the fridge before we leave so I decided to make a delicious and nutritious soup. It was also perfect because there's lots of sniffling going around and I want to be perfectly healthy for the trip. I've been arming my immune system with everything I can find to beat the crap outta the cold season. My immune system is a badass, like me.

Guru's Veggie Noodley Sizzoup (it's gangsta)

1 onion, chopped (reduces mucus, natural antibiotic)
as much garlic as you like, sliced or chopped (I used a motherload bc it fights colds)
olive oil
a few carrots, chopped or sliced (whatevs)
celery, sliced along with the leafy parts
1 small delicata squash, cut into bite-sized chunks (or any other root veggie)
1 bunch of lacinato kale, chopped (or any other leafy green)
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can aduki beans, drained and rinsed
1 box quinoa pasta
veggie bouillion (I like Rapunzel brand)
bay leaf, dried oregano and basil (optional)
umeboshi vinegar (optional- I used it to cut the sweetness from the squash)

1. In an enormous vat (or cauldron or saucepan), saute onions in some olive oil until they're soft. Add garlic and continue to saute for 1 minute.
2. Add the herbs and broth (or water and bouillion) and bring to a boil while adding the squash, carrots and celery. Continue to simmer on med/low for about 20 minutes or until the veggies are mostly soft.
3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the directions on the box, in a separate pan. Then strain.
4. Add the beans and kale and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the cooked pasta.
5. Enjoy, while thinking "I'm really quite good at cooking... fa shizzle".

I also served the soup with:

Parmesan Encrusted Fennel

2 fennel, remove the green furry part and chop the white part
olive oil, for drizzling purposes (so not too much)
sea salt
3-4 Tbsp fresh grated parmesan

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Spread the chopped fennel in a baking dish then drizzle with oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and sprinkle the cheese evenly over the fennel.
3. Bake for 30-40 minutes until it gets a "crusty" top.
4. Take a picture because I forgot to take one, then email it to:

Also, a bonus pic of my beautiful baby doggie, Coraline. I might lose my mind from not seeing her for almost 4 weeks!

Okay, one more since you're being so attentive. This is Coraline with Mister Blue Toy:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

#i8this - Thursday

Brown Rice Pasta with Coconut Curry Sauce

1 pkg brown rice pasta
1 bunch of kale, chopped
1 mango, seeded and diced
1/2 container of grape tomatoes, halved (optional)


2 Tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 can coconut milk
salt to taste

1. Cook pasta and kale. I actually start boiling the pasta then throw the kale in with it for the last 2 mins. Drain.
2. In a separate small saucepan, melt the ghee. Add the curry and stir and cook for 1 minute. Add the can of coconut milk. Add salt.
3. Pour the sauce over the pasta and kale, add the mango and tomatoes.


#i8this - Wednesday

Palak Daal (from

Yesterday I made this AMAZING dish. It took some time to cook but the most complicated preparation step was chopping the peppers. It was really very simple. Next time I'll use my slow cooker and set it up early in the morning to cook all day. The set up would only take 10 minutes.

1 cup / 6.5 oz / 185 g white urid or urad daal, picked over and rinsed

6 cups / 1.5 liters water, plus more if necessary
1/2 pound spinach, washed and finely chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and finely chopped (I shredded the ginger to make it easier)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 medium green chile peppers, minced (MAKE SURE YOU WASH YOUR HANDS AFTER THIS STEP)
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter (or ghee)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon pure red chile powder
a pinch of asafetida, optional
more salt to taste
juice of 1/2 a lemon (I added shredded coconut instead)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

In a large pot over medium-high heat combine the daal and water. Bring to a boil, then add the spinach, ginger, turmeric, 3/4 of the green chiles, and all of the tomatoes. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the lentils are extremely soft. You may need to add a bit more water during the cooking process to keep the lentils soupy. After an hour and a half, stir in the salt.

In a separate pan, heat the butter and cumin and fry until the cumin seeds start to pop. Now add the red chile powder (and asafetida if you're using it) and fry for another 30 seconds. Taste and add more asafetida if you like. Add this butter mixture to the lentils and allow to cook for another five minutes. Taste, and season with more salt if needed. I also enjoyed a touch of lemon juice added at this point. Serve topped with the cilantro and the remaining green chiles.

Serves 4-6 with rice or roti.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

#i8this - Tuesday

TLT (like a BLT but with tempeh)

1 package of tempeh
coconut oil (or another healthy oil)
4 slices of healthy bread
lettuce (I used spinach)
healthy mayo or mustard
sprouts, red onion, avocado (optional)

1. Cut the tempeh in half. I also like to cut it thinner, lengthwise through the center. Heat some coconut oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Brown the tempeh on both sides.

2. Toast the bread, prep your veggie toppings.

3. Build your sandwich.

4. Take a pic, then enjoy.

Tons of Veggies Salad

salad greens
red onion
orange pepper
yellow pepper
(any veggies you love)
garbanzo beans

toasted sesame oil
umeboshi vinegar

1. Cut, chop and build your salad.
2. Lightly drizzle oil and vinegar then sprinkle with gomasio.

Monday, February 1, 2010

#i8this - Monday

Red Lentil Soup with Mustard Greens

2 to 3 cups mustard greens
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 ½ cups rinsed red lentils
6 cups water
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
lemon juice or umeboshi vinegar, to taste

1. Wash greens and cut or strip leaves from stalks. Discard stalks. Coarsely chop the leaves and set them aside.
2. In a heavy bottomed soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 10-15 minutes, until golden and sweet. Meanwhile, chop carrots and celery.
3. Add cumin to onions and stir for another 1 to 2 minutes until cumin smells fragrant. Add carrots, celery, lentils, water, thyme, oregano, basil, turmeric and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
4. When lentils are creamy looking, add the salt and chopped mustard greens. Simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes, until greens are tender.
5. Adjust seasonings, adding a squeeze of lemon juice or umeboshi vinegar.

Healthy Snack - Popcorn

Today I was working from home and I got a craving for a salty/crunchy snack. So I wandered into the kitchen and made this:

(I know, stinky pic, but my phone sucks)

Toasted Sesame Popcorn

2 Tbsp sesame oil or coconut oil
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
gomasio (sesame seeds and sea salt)

1. In a medium saucepan, warm the oil over medium heat.
2. Add the popcorn, cover and give it a shake to spread it around. Increase the heat to medium high.
3. While you do the dishes you were putting off from breakfast, listen to be sure the popcorn pops. When it starts to slow down (with a second or 2 between pops) take it off the burner.
4. Add a drizzle more toasted sesame oil and sprinkle with gomasio (I like the seaweed kind for the added minerals) then put the cover back on and shake it up.

Other variations:

* salt and pepper
* cajun spices
* cinnamon and a bit of agave
* mix in some dark chocolate chips