Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Good things to come

Happy Holidays to you and yours. It has been a whirlwind year and I can't believe 2015 is coming to an end. I've had some ups and downs this year but I celebrate most getting through the year knowing I tired my best. Some highlights from 2015:
- Making the 2015 Team Soas
-Getting coached by one of the best in the business Jasper Blake
- Completing my first Iron distance triathlon and placing 2nd in my age group
-completing a 70.3 with a broken toe (I don't recommend doing this)
-watching my oldest daughter complete her first year of competitive swimming

As much as 2015 brought me some great adventures I am really looking forward to 2016. I have a feeling it's going to be a good one...

First off I get asked back to be a part of the most awesome team around

Want to know how awesome this team is?
That's right. We are wearing our not so ugly christmas cycling jerseys and none of us live in the same area. These ladies are just fabulous!

and to top it all off I got asked to be a part of another amazing team!

I've also come up with a few goals for this year.
Get a sub 1:50:00 1/2 marathon
Get a sub 5:30:00 70.3
qualify for ITU long distance championships
and my most important goal- be the best triathlon coach for my kids and their school

With the help from my coach at B78 I have a good feeling about this year. I will actually be prepared and on top of things, unlike last year where I did not have a triathlon coach and fumbled my way through the first part of the year until Jasper came to the rescue and got me ready for the iron distance. 

So how were the holidays? We kept things pretty quiet around here. With our families being back in Alberta we tend to celebrate with just the 4 of us and this year it was even more quiet. I've been laid up in bed with pneumonia. Luckily by Christmas Eve I was feeling significantly better.
Christmas morning was a big hit with the kids.

Santa was good to us all and even my friends outdid themselves on my gifts.

Santa brought all the girls leggings

and because we live on the Island where it doesn't get too cold we got out for a Christmas bike/walk.

Once we recovered from Christmas our wonderful friends came up for the day to get a boxing day hike in. We can just about see their house out across the water.

Seriously, nothing makes me more happy than spending time with fabulous friends.
This lady is my triathlon rock. She gets me, she motivates me, she inspires me, she also helps keep me grounded.

So as we roll out the end of 2015 I celebrated by getting my first workout done in over a month. Big sis is also gearing up for the 2016 season. She asked if I could start coaching her now so I made her hit the mats and do some strength training with me. 

So here's to a fabulous and fresh start. May your year be safe, happy, healthy and filled with much excitement and joy.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

These are a few of my favourite things 2015

It's that time of year! Christmas is approaching us at lightning speed and I have been having a ton of fun creating my perfect wish list. Please bare in mind that this is just a wish list there is no way Santa would be delving these wonderful items under my tree. My kids come first you know...

I also want to note that even though I am a Soas Ambassador I will absolutely have Soas items on my list, but it's not because I have to, it's because I truly believe Soas makes the best triathlon, cycling and running garments around. So here it is, my must haves/ wish list for 2015:

First up is the Shimano Asphalt H20 shoe cover
Luckily on Vancouver Island we don't get much snow but we do get cold wet conditions. these shoe covers are perfect! You can get them from MEC HERE

Next up is for the triathlete that travels a lot. This has got to be the best bike bag on the market. The only part of your bike that needs to be removed are the wheels. 
The Scicon bike bag has been on my radar for the past year but unfortunately until I take an airplane to my next race I'll have to wait. You can check out all of the awesome choices HERE.

I cannot tell you how my I love all of my Soas gear. It is the only tri suit I will wear and Soas has really stepped out of the box this year and made a ton of new exciting products. My new favourite item is the knee warmers. They stay up perfectly and they keep my legs perfectly warm. I already have the Team Race 2015 ones but I use them so frequently they I need another pair.

Check out all of the choices HERE!

My favourite running pants/ crops/ capris all come from Lululemon. I love their fit and the drawstring to keep my pants from falling down. These new About that Base Tight are perfect for those cool winter runs. 
I'm loving both the black/forrest teal and the black/ tender violet. Check out the colours HERE.

I also love Lululemon socks. They are the only sock I use for my runs. 

The Speed Sock Silver are my favourites. 

My next item would be amazing but I'm pretty sure I'll be waiting a very long time before Santa will deliver. I really have been a good girl but unfortunately I just don't think I'll be seeing this awesome product under my tree this year.

After a hard workout it would be amazing to recover with the Normatec leg recovery system. 
You can find the system HERE.

I'm pretty sure I have all my swimming essentials but it seems I'm going through swimsuits like there's not tomorrow. Fortunately I have come across this fantastic swimsuit cleaner that is helping my prolong the life of my swimsuits.
Tri Boutique is my go to online triathlon store that carries not only my swimsuit cleaner which you can get HERE but also every other great item you can think if. Love this online store!!!

Last but not least is the item I am most excited about this year. Stephanie from Soas made not only the entire Soas team squeal like little girls but she took the idea of the ugly Christmas sweater and turned it into the cutest cycling jersey EVER!!!
Is this not the cutest thing ever??? I've already put my request in with Santa. These are currently on pre order and I highly recommend you get your order in pronto because there are only a limited number. Go HERE to order.

So there you have it. My favourites for 2015! I hope you have enjoyed and please add in the comments if there is a great new product that you think should be added to this list.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

California Dreaming

Hey! Hey! I am back from my super sunny vacation in California. I would love to say it was the best trip ever but I can't lie, I'm not a fan of Disneyland. There I said it. I really don't think it is the happiest place on earth. Don't get me wrong, we had lots of fun, the kids had a great time, we got to do the Disney Avengers race, we got a great dose of vitamin D but we are just not that in to Disney. Let me explain...

Leaving on Vancouver Island can make travel plans a little tricky. We know this. It always takes longer to get places because you either have to take a ferry across or a plane. My husband is cheap like you wouldn't believe which is probably a good thing because it means more money for me to spend on triathlon stuff.

Anyways, because of his frugal behaviour we decided to take the ferry over to Vancouver and fly from there. Problem is the ferry from Nanaimo does not go as frequently as it does in the summer. Another big issue is we get big storms in the winter that also affect the ferry running. Rumour was there was a storm brewing so we headed over to Vancouver the night before our flight to play things safe. Well, the storm actually started while we were on the ferry. I have never been nervous riding the ferry, it is a large boat. That night I was nervous. 
We got in to our hotel at midnight (way too late for my kids) and we got right to sleep for our big day.

The kids were awesome packing their own luggage. There were no complaints. Everyone was happy.

Our flight from Vancouver to San Francisco was uneventful. Things were great. Then we arrive in San Francisco to be told our flight was over booked and only 3 of the 4 of us will be making this trip. What? Really? These tickets were booked months ago and they have the ages of our kids. Our car rental in Orange County is in Jordi's name, the kids won't fly without me. How the hell is this going to work? Needless to say we are not fans of United Airlines anymore. Luckily a very nice lady volunteered her seat so we could all fly together on the plan but not together for seating. Awesome!
Finally made it to OC and the weather is just lovely! I needed a big dose of sunshine.
Another awesome thing was eating at an all vegan restaurant. Be still my heart, I don't have to worry about anything. 
My parents were anxiously waiting for us to arrive at the hotel. Again it's another late night. Kids have 10 min of fun then right to bed just while the fireworks are going off at Disneyland. Don't worry I promise we'll get to see them before we go home (famous last words...)
We arrive in Disneyland to celebrate the diamond anniversary. This is purely coincidence. We are actually here for the Avengers half marathon that my sister insisted we do. Regardless there is so much to see and do.

The park is all decorated for Christmas and looks amazing.
Top priority is to hit as many rides as possible. Because my parents, sister and my bother in law are all with us it gets a little tricky to hammer out a plan. After some deep discussions we get it figured out. If I have any tips or advice for hitting Disneyland. Take someone that needs a wheelchair. My mom isn't able to walk very well so we got her a wheel chair and we seriously got on most of the rides instantly! Some of the bigger rides we would get a pseudo fast pass but usually only 20minutes. It worked out great for us.

Because we were a group of 8 we got split up on some of the rides. Most notably Splash mountain, but again this actually worked in our favour. 
Some nut job decided to stand up on the ride right before it does the big drop, this entails the staff doing an emergency shut down and then evacuation of the entire ride. Since this happens you get handed a super duper fast pass. Basically you go to any ride in the park and hand them this ticket and you get immediate access. No line at all. Because we got split up we got given 3 of these passes. It was awesome!
We did end up going back to splash mountain later on in the evening:

Team Soas hat made the cut!
And because the kids loved Splash Mountain so much, we did it again!

With the park being so busy we didn't get to meet a lot of the characters. I'm just not in to standing in line for 2 hours just to get a pat on the head from Mickey Mouse. My rule was it had to be less than 30 min wait. So we managed a visit with Eeyore.


And Tinkerbell

We of course did the token It's a Small World (still makes me cry after all of these years). Again the line up was huge...

The teacup ride

We got to see Olaf but again to meet him would have been a 70 minute line up. Seriously, who has time for that?

With us living on the Island we don't get a lot of snow (if any). I think in the 6.5 years we've lived here we have had 2 snow days?? So when we went to Olaf's snow place or whatever the heck it was called the girls went nuts for the snow (as did the other hundreds of children that never see snow).
Funny thing is though is that the snow of course gets packed down after 10 min of playing in it so that actually have staff that come out with shovels and fluff the snow back up. Maybe it's just amusing to me because I grew up around lots of snow. 

I can't boast enough about the weather. It was so nice out. We went from 5 degrees to 28. 
So our last day we decided to take in more shows then rides. We saw a frozen play, all of the parades and the most important the fireworks. So Sunday night we kept the kids up extra late. The light parade that is only on for the diamond celebration started at 9pm. My kids are long since in bed by that time, but hey we are on our last day of the happiest place on earth. The parade was pretty awesome and the kids really enjoyed it. 

We thought the timing was perfect because the fireworks start at 9:30. Yay for mom for planning the timing out perfectly! So the parade finishes and we wait, and wait. Finally an announcement comes on that there are issues with the fireworks show so please stand by. By 10pm the fireworks got canceled. Normally this would not be a big deal. We see fireworks all of the time. The problem is I 
1. Waited till the last day 
2. This has happened to us before
3. I should have known not to wait until the last day
Yup! The last time we brought the kids to Disneyland the exact same thing happened. We waited until the last night and due to some wind the show got cancelled. Ugh! So with some very disappointed kids we hall them back to the hotel. 
We definitely enjoyed the races though despite almost being late due to the extremely unpredictable and unreliable bussing. There was a bus stop right outside our hotel but we could wait anywhere from 5 minutes to 85minutes. Normally I would say lets just walk but there was no way my mom would have made it.
Anyways we squealed into the kids different corrals when little one says she has to pee. I look at her and say like right now? She says yes, it;s urgent. I may have used some choice words under my breath and quickly located a volunteer who could point us in the right direction. Problem was the race was going to start in less than 5 minutes and the port potties were way across the parking lot. So we ran. We ran probably more than a kilometre to get the bathroom issue felt with. She did awesome and ran so fast that we got back right in time to get the race started. 

My little super hero was ready to go. She ran the hole way. I couldn't remember what her distance was and it turns out it was significantly shorter than what we had just ran to go use the bathroom. Seriously, we ran well over a kilometre and the race was 200m. She looked at me at the finish line and said "That was it"?

Big sis did awesome! She made her own super hero cape. The announcer even called her out at the finish line for being super speedy and awesome! 
After the kids race we decided to hit the beach and try and have a relaxing afternoon. I have my big race coming up and I was feeling super exhausted. 

After a lovely day down at Newport Beach and Crystal Cove we headed back to the hotel for an early dinner. My sister and I had to be up at 3:30am. I don't even get up that early for triathlons. 

So I tried to get to bed early. I laid down about 8:30pm but could not fall asleep. Every time I was on the verge to sleep someone would make a noise and it alerted me. Needless to say I'm 99% sure I did not sleep at all. 
So 3:30 the alarm goes off and I'm almost happy to be done torturing myself willing to sleep. I get up, make some tea, have some oatmeal and my sisters texts me from next door that she is not going. I kid you not. She is the one that wanted to do the race in the first place. She did the 5km on Friday, the 10km on Saturday and decided she just wasn't up for the half today. So I finish getting ready and head down solo. No one was keen on watching me (even though I was running by the hotel). I guess sleep is more important at 5:30am.
We had to be in our corral by 5am. This was my very first running race that I was in the first corral. I was feeling awesome! Race started at 5:30. I ended up right beside a guy from Victoria. So we chatted and killed time together. 
When the gun went off I was feeling pretty good. I was aiming for a pb today since this was a flat course. About 1km in I just had nothing in me. I could barely hold a 5:15/km My legs felt like cement. My time just kept getting slower. I had to change my plan of action otherwise I wasn't going to finish. I slowed it down to a 5:30-5:35/km. I was feeling a little disappointed in myself but then I reminded myself of how terrible I had been eating, how little sleep I had been getting, how much walking we had been doing. What was I thinking? I was totally tapped out doing this race.
I finished the race in 1:56:34
At this point I really didn't care what my finish time was. I was exhausted. Once I got home though I had a closer look at the final results and I'm torn on my feelings. I placed significantly better than I though I had. However if I had ran what I was capable of I would have been in the top 15 of my age group. That is out of over 1000 females age 35-39. I have never placed that well in a large race. Even my 37th is a great result. Still though, it's not about those nu,beds, it's about what I know I'm capable of and I just could not pul it together.

  • Half Marathon
Age: 37 
Gender: Female 
Bib: #349
Distance: 13.1m 
Clock Time: 1:56:48 
Net Time: 1:56:34 
5k Split: 25:08
10k Split: 53:09
15k Split: 1:21:32
Overall Place: 715/10765 
Gender Place: 181/6331 
Division Place: 37/1016 
Despite all of our hiccups on our trip (I haven't even told you our trip home, I think I will leave that completely out) we did have fun. I am going to be honest, I think our money would have been better spent going to Costa Rica or Hawaii. We spent way too much money and the trip was far from relaxing. It was nice to get away with the family and the girls continue to tell us how much fun they had. Me, I'm just glad I got my Avengers finishers medal because this thing is worth way too much money to not go through that race.

I'm curious though, anyone else like me who just doesn't love Disneyland?

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Vegan Ironman

Hello my name is Andrea and I'm a vegan triathlete.

So being vegan and a triathlete I get a lot of questions about how I train and what I eat.

Yes, I do get enough protein. Believe me I have actually calculated it out. I don't want to go into too much detail but we as north americans eat too much protein. I highly encourage everyone to figure out how much protein your body needs regardless of whether you are vegan or not.

Ok back to my story...
Since completing my first Iron Distance I have had more and more people ask me about how I did it being vegan and all. These people are not questioning my health, they are genuinely curious in hopes of doing it for themselves. So I figured instead of writing this over and over on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and all of those other sites I thought I would give the whole low down in one go and just share my link when I get asked.

So to start off I have been vegetarian for 7 years but a couple of years ago I was not able to lose my pregnancy pounds and I just lacked energy and other things. I went to my Naturopath and she suggested getting off of dairy. By doing so it turned me into a vegan by default. I don't really love eggs and that was really the only thing left so no eggs meant I was officially going vegan. I didn't lose as much weight as I would have liked but I did start feeling a lot better. When I was training for sprint triathlons I felt fabulous. So I kept increasing my distance. 
Fast forward to this year and I signed up for my first Full Distance (aka. the Ironman distance). I never put much thought into my food because I ate pretty good food regularly. I eat a whole foods diet limiting processed foods. My kids don't even know what fast food joints are. They've never even stepped inside a McDonalds. 
After I started adding big loads into my training I was finding I was not recovering as quickly as before and I was getting really tired. So having troubles with Iron and B12 in the past I got checked. Levels are all normal. So I was then asked are you eating enough? This one baffled me. I never counted calories. That's the beauty of being vegan. When you eat good, whole foods you never really eat too much. High density foods with low calories. So I started tracking my foods. Turns out I was not eating enough. I was lacking more then 2000 calories a day. So here is what I recommend and what I use to make training and racing long distances on a whole foods/ vegan diet.

Get informed: 
Brendan Brazier is a former triathlete and fully understands the needs for proper nutrition. All of his books are awesome. Check out his website(s):

Scott Jurek- http://scottjurek.com/

So these 3 men have filled me with great knowledge on training for endurance on a vegan whole foods diet. I recommend reading any and all of you can from them. 

Next up is trying new things (but not right before a race). I've been playing around with foods for the last 2 years. What works what doesn't work. I cannot eat solid foods during hard training sessions or racing. I can only take in liquids or gels. Big factor- I HATE GELS!
So for 70. 3 and full distance I do liquids on the bike and gels on the run.  
For my liquid fuel I use Endura + Carbo Pro. I have an exact amount I mix just for me. It works beautifully but it was through trial and error.

If you can actually take in food do it. 

After any ride or run workout I always refuel immediately after. I'll take in some Vega Recovery Accelerator 
I actually use a lot of Vega products. I use their performance protein in my morning smoothies and I also like their protein bars for a quick on the go snack.

For runs I do use Gu's but I don't love them. I usually have to gag them down. This summer I was introduced to Torq Gels and fell in love. 

They actually taste good. Although I've had people tell me Gu's taste good, I beg to differ. If I can't get Torq gels (I do have to order them online) I will use Gu's. They are now vegan and I can tolerate the Rootbeer ones.

So that is pretty much what fuels me during my races. I do have some weird things I also like to use. There is a vegan jerky out made by Primal Strips
I actually ate one coming out of T2 at Penticton, here's the proof

Totally mowing down on it. I seriously love these. They are super high in protein. 10g in that little strip and its got salty goodness. Be careful though if I wasn't used to it I could see getting some stomach cramps. 

So that covers heavy training and racing. What do I eat the rest of the time?
My husband claims I ate more then 2 teenage boys. I would have to agree. My portion sizes were huge but keep in mind I was doing 6-8 hour bike rides, 3 hour runs, 90 min swims, yoga, strength. I was burning a lot of calories. 

Here's a sample of what I eat in a day:

Breakfest- large smoothie. Vega protein powder, spinach or kale, almond milk (unsweetened), frozen fruit. Sometimes I'll though in extras like macca powder, chia seeds, oats. I switch up my flavours day to day. I also make a double batch and put the rest in the fridge for later because lets face it I'm going to be hungry again.

Lunch- Some sort of salad. Pastas salad, hearty chopped salad, veganised potato salad, greek salad with tofu feta cheese. Basically lots of greens (kale, spinach, mixed baby greens), lots of raw veg (carrots, beets, cucumber, tomatoes, zucchini), a homemade dressing.

Dinner- Rice bowl (again use imagination: rice, quinoa, buckwheat groats, wheat berries), protein (tofu, tempe, seitan, beans), cooked and raw veggies, a homemade sauce.

Desert/ Snacks- I occasionally have desert but to be honest this also falls under snacks. Because I have kids I bake a lot of homemade treats and they are healthy enough to be classified under desert or snack. I have pretty much veganised all of my favourite treats. Cookies, cakes, brownies, fudge, ice-cream, I have even mastered vegan meringue cookies. Yes a lot of these contain sugar but again I try and make it a bit more healthy by using palm sugar or organic cane sugar.

I have a ton of cookbooks to help me when I'm in a rut and I surf the net for new recipes too. Pinterest is awesome for finding some interesting vegan recipes. 

I'm also lucky in that I have 2 very good friends who are also vegan. 1 is an ultra runner and the other a fellow triathlete. We also brainstorm recipes and training ideas with food.

If I can leave you with the best advice it would be always have a fridge full of fresh foods, and a pantry full of staples. We have a large cabinet in our garage full of canned beans and a large bag of brown rice. It's easy and quick to throw a bunch of ingredients in a bowl and call it a rice bowl. 

I also have a rice cooker that allows me to cook any grain, I put it on and I can leave the house and go do some training.
A good blender also helps. When you make a smoothie every day and your blender burns out every year, you learn pretty quick to just spend the money on a good one. 

Now before I end I am going to be honest, I don't like calling myself a vegan. I love animals but I'm not an activist. I grew up eating meat and I am a firm believer that it isn't fair for me to judge because I once ate meat. I also choose health over anything else. If I am at a race or somewhere away from home and there is no options I will have eggs or dairy (I would never eat meat it really just grosses me out). I don't like it, but when you are training the upmost important thing is to refuel. Guaranteed I always pay the price, I feel awful afterwards so I always do my best to plan ahead and insure I have proper food to eat. 

Also, this post is to help those try to train as best as they can as vegans/ whole foods diet. Please do not leave rude comments. This is not to convert people it is only my way of giving a bit of info on how went about doing it for myself.