Best Triathlon Beach Reads. {Even if Your Summer is Already Over}

In the final few days of summer, I’ve been trying to pack in a lot of reading. I used to read for leisure all the time, but over the past year or so I’ve read on my own {read: not for school} a lot less.

My goal for the upcoming school year is to change this, and I’ve gotten a head start on this this week.

Two Books to Try this Month

A Life Without Limits – Chrissie Wellington

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I started this book awhile ago but got a bit distracted {I tend to do this with books often – again – working on it!}, and now that I’m into it I’m hooked. Chrissie is a fantastic writer – besides being a four time national champion – and her book centers around her journey to success.

It is a peek below the surface of one of the most high-profile triathletes in the world – into her struggle with anorexia, training with a controversial coach, and more.

Her positive attitude radiates throughout the book – and makes the stories flow nicely.

Sport has such a unique ability to inspire and empower. If used correctly, it can be such a force for good.
-Chrissie Wellington, A Life Without Limits

Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment – Tal Ben-Shahar

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I came across this book when I visited my AP Psychology teacher from senior year last week {he has an awesome collection of books} and he let me borrow it. Written by a Harvard professor, the book centers upon the “positive psychology” movement and outlines a set of principles that you can apply to your life to make yourself feel more happy and fulfilled. He explores why people can achieve great things and have an abundance of material wealth but still feel unhappy, as well as many other topics. I’m only a few chapters in and I’m hooked.

One of the quotes used early on in the book hit me –

the best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.

Ben-Shahar goes on after this quote to say that a struggle free life is not the prescription for happiness. Although not technically a “triathlon” book, it’s definitely worth the read – the principles outlined in the book can have a huge positive impact on your daily life & attitude towards training.

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Reading on the beach!

What are you reading right now and what were your favorite summer reads? What books have inspired you lately?

Tri Hard,
Caity

Eating Clean: A Triathlete’s Guide to a Dairy & Gluten Free Diet

Diet is a huge part of ensuring peak performance come race day. Whether we like it or not, the foods we eat each day helps shape our body, our mind, our mood — you get the idea.

In high school, I was having really bad stomach problems. My family and I have never really eaten processed or junky foods (like Doritos, processed snacks, etc.) — we have always bought organic and have eaten relatively healthy — so I didn’t think what I was eating could be what was making my stomach hurt. But one day, I was proven otherwise — after eating Annie’s mac and cheese after a workout, my stomach pain became so intense that I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. I was also feeling sick during a lot of my workouts, and I wanted to get to the root of what was wrong.

After a few days in the hospital and a few weeks of various tests, a “mild lactose intolerance” was the only thing that came up. The doctor explained that sometimes my stomach was fine with dairy, but that other times I reacted extremely to it. Happy that (so we thought) the culprit for my stomach pain was gone, I now had to get used to the idea that I had to cut dairy out of my diet.

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Incorporating greens into your diet is important – whether it’s through juice, homemade kale chips (yum!), salad, or otherwise.

After a few months of trying to continue to eat dairy with Lactaids (bad idea), I decided to cut it out of my diet completely. It was definitely a big change — a lot more foods have dairy in them than I thought — but I was feeling a lot better.

A few years later, I forget that I used to miss eating dairy. Since then, I’ve been diagnosed with IBS, a stomach condition that also forces you to restrict what types of foods you eat. I cut gluten completely out of my diet (I have a gluten sensitivity, not celiac disease) about two and a half months ago, and I’ve felt a huge difference.

Some of my favorite snacks - gluten free cereal, almond milk, fat-free hummus, strawberries, and pure organic blueberry bars

Some of my favorite snacks – gluten free cereal, almond milk, fat-free hummus, strawberries, and pure organic blueberry bars

If you’re thinking about dairy and gluten free, here are a few tips:

  • Coordinate with your family or school to make sure options will be available for you. Let others know (politely, of course!) of your dietary needs before eating out or eating with company if need be.
  • Find “Safe” Foods One of the biggest adjustments of going GF and/or Dairy free is learning to find “safe” foods while eating out or with company. It IS possible, though! As a backup, clean foods like salads are usually always available.
  • Educate yourself! Some foods that may seem “safe” can prove to be otherwise (for example – many soy sauces have gluten!) There are myriad websites and food stores that carry information and products suited to GF/dairy free lifestyle. Try Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s (or your local supermarket’s GF section — many are starting to pop up) and blogs like http://glutenfreeegirl.tumblr.com/
  • STICK TO IT! Cheating can make you feel sick or derail your new dietary lifestyle.
  • Plan ahead – If you know you’ll be going out with friends for the day or on a trip where some GF/dairy free snacks may not be available, plan ahead! Pack some bars, juices, or other snacks! (one of my favorites are pistachios)
  • Find Favorites – It’s important to find some “go-to”s in your diet that work well with your stomach (especially while training). Some of my favorites are below!

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    Filling a reusable water bottle (like a nalgene) and keeping it handy can remind you to drink water more often! Lots of water is an important part of a healthy diet!

Stick to it! Eating clean makes you feel a lot better — with added energy, boosted mood, and overall better health. It helps a lot with training, too — no more stomach aches and diet-related fatigue during workouts.

More on this soon (and on GF/dairy free race nutrition).

Have you ever considered a GF/dairy free diet? Do you already eat this way?

Tri Hard,

Caity

3 Day BluePrint Juice Cleanse: Worth it? A Triathlete’s Perspective

I first heard about juice cleanses a few months ago — both online and on shows like Dr. Oz. At first, I thought it sounded completely absurd — how could drinking just juice for three days do any good?! But after a little bit more research (and trying some of the juices outside of the cleanse), I decided to try the 3-day BluePrint cleanse.

The Basics

The juices can either be purchased at your local Whole Foods or ordered online. If you decide to do the cleanse, I would recommend buying them at Whole Foods — because a case discount is offered, and even without the case discount is usually a bit cheaper than shipping the juices. There are three levels to the cleanse: Renovation, Foundation, and Excavation. The levels differ in that the first contains only two green juices and four fruit juices, while the second and third levels contain three and four, respectively. The juices are to be eaten in a specific order (check out the BluePrint website for this information).

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I ordered one of the three days of the cleanse online – and the juices came with numbers on them.

Although the green juice seemed the most daunting to me out of all of the juices (made of kale, apple, ginger, romaine, spinach, cucumber, etc.), I decided to go for the level two cleanse (Foundation).

The Juices

The juices in the Foundation cleanse were as follows:

Green Juice – A mild and sweet taste. Did not taste over vegetable-y. I actually quite like the green juice, and I drink it regularly outside the cleanse. However, some of my friends and relatives have tried it and hated it. It depends on your regular diet and food preferences as to whether this juice will appeal to you.

Gold Juice – MY FAVORITE JUICE. Sooooo good. Made of pineapple, apple, and mint, it has a perfect sweet taste. I like drinking it with salads and other meals occasionally outside of the cleanse.

Yellow Juice – Made of lemon, cayenne, and agave, this juice is a “spicy lemonade”. It took some getting used to with the hint of spice — but the sweet flavors are quite appealing. I actually prefer the green juice, but many who try the Blueprint cleanse like the lemonade better.

White Juice – From the reviews of the cleanse that I had read online before starting the cleanse, the white juice (“cashew milk” – made with cashews, vanilla, cinnamon, and agave) was supposed to be the “treat” at the end of the day and great-tasting. I, however, did not LOVE the cashew milk. It was okay, with sweet flavor and thick consistency, but I found it to be a bit too sweet and “heavy” after a few sips.

Although outside of the Foundation cleanse, BluePrint’s beet juice is probably tied for my favorite with the pineapple. Soooooo good. The beet juice is called “Red“, and is made of beets, apples, carrots, lemon, and ginger. As gross as it may sound to drink beet juice, from a blind taste test it would definitely taste more like a sweet fruit-type drink.

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The packet in the shipment read “like you, our juice is best chilled” — haha. Make sure to keep the BluePrint juices refrigerated!

The Cleanse

There are myriad ways in which you can approach a BluePrint cleanse — there are instructions on the website for what you’re ‘supposed’ to do before and after a cleanse, and so on and so forth. Before I started the three-day program, I ate a bit lighter for two days. This meant less frequent snacks and more salads. Nothing too crazy. Come start time for the cleanse, it made me a lot less hungry than if I had feasted prior to juicing.

I didn’t find the cleanse overall too difficult. I drank all six of the juices in order each day (except only about half of the cashew milk), and drank a lot of water to help keep my mind off of the fact that I wouldn’t be eating solid food for a few days. The most difficult parts for me were the constant headaches, dizziness and lightheadedness after exercising on the cleanse, and spacing out drinking the juices properly.

You’re not technically encouraged to work out while cleansing (since you’re basically consuming under 1,000 calories and no solid food), but I didn’t listen to this rule and biked 22 miles the first day, and ran 3.5 one of the others (one of the days I took off). I felt reaaaaaally out of it during/after these workouts since I stupidly did them at full pressure with nothing in my system. If you do decide to cleanse and work out, be careful and make sure you have a juice before and after the workout!

My other complaint with the cleanse would have to be that I got quite a few headaches. This probably comes with the territory of not eating solid food for three days, but it was still irritating… haha. But this problem was almost completely rid of with a few Advil and/or naps here and there.

Be sure to plan out (roughly) when you will drink each juice during the day so that you don’t finish too early or forget to drink some of the juices.

Overall, the cleanse was a bit challenging, but my hunger decreased a great deal by the end of the second and third days and I definitely felt a bit “refreshed” by the end of it.

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Blueprint juices are also great outside of the cleanse! Here with a strawberry vinaigrette salad.

Results

After the cleanse, I lost 6 pounds (this was in three days). But I also felt really great — a bit more energized and not sluggish at all. However, I went a little bit crazy after the cleanse and ate a lot over the next few days. In retrospect, I would have done a bit more of a structured “post-cleanse” program and eased back into food a little more instead of diving right back into meals and snacks.

If you’re looking for a challenge and a bit of a “system restart”, I’d recommend the BluePrint cleanse. Check out the BluePrint website beforehand to choose the level that’s right for you, or go to a local juicing store (we have one in Glen Rock!) and buy similar juices there. You can also always try making your own if you have a juicer and are looking to save some money (the BluePrint juices are quite pricey — $7-10 depending on your location)!

Have you tried a cleanse? Do you plan to? What are your thoughts on the juicing craze?

Tri Hard,

Caity

Let Kindness Define Us, Not Terror: Boston Strong

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It’s days like this Monday that make us pause. Pause amidst the chaotic haze of our everyday lives; amongst the things that we find so important. Pause to re-evaluate what is really important.Terror-filled moments shaped our day on April 15th.

The horrible act of terror Monday led to a horribly immoral bombing and loss of life; leaving hundreds injured. Leaving families forever without their loved ones. All as a result of some senseless, horrid act of terror.

Terror.

That’s the word that makes these events so imprinted in our brains; so etched within the corners of our minds. In a way, it’s one of the most tragic parts of the aftermath of these events. That some mindless, senseless maniac(s) is able to enstill fear in the general public — is able to disrupt our everyday lives and, for a period of time, our sense of safety and selves.

Sitting upstairs in the erg room of historic Weld Boathouse yesterday, the normally vivacious and chatty fifty-something members of the Harvard-Radcliffe crew team were almost silent. The normally bustling Charles river was empty. No boats. Nothing. Bridges closed. There was a sense of tragedy in the air. As our coaches came in, they began to talk to us about some of their experiences with tragedy. How even though through these crisises our most comfortable and immediate reaction may be to associate the upcoming moments – or subsequent days and weeks – with violence or terror, that the best way we can go against such acts of violence is to live. You can’t stop living. Or else they – those who value senseless acts of terror over the general good – win. They can’t win.

We will always remember. We will always respect. But in order to go against these acts of terror – to prove that we are more than senseless acts of violence, we need to prove that we can move on. Pick up the pieces, and come together and not let these acts of violence define our events, our cities, our our lives.

New York and the people of New York are more than the senseless acts of violence committed on 9/11.

Newtown and the people of Newtown are more than the senseless acts of violence committed in December.

Boston and the people of Boston are more than the senseless acts of violence committed Monday.

Boston is Fenway Park; it’s the Charles River. It’s friendly people who will never be able to say “Park the Car in Harvard Yard” without outsiders cracking a smile from their accent. It’s Boston Commons; Newbury Street on a Sunny Day. Memories made on college campuses.

This goes for the myriad other towns and individuals affected by acts of senseless violence, both domestically and internationally. But we have to remember this: humanity is not evil. This was proven yesterday amidst such hectic circumstances; heroes emerged from the dust. People ran towards the blast to save lives.

Moving forward, we have to keep what happens in our hearts. We can never forget. But I define New York by the memories I have made there in Times Square, at Patisse eating with my best friend, at Central Park, wandering the streets with friends on sunny days — not as a city filled with violence as a result of the events on 9/11. I define Newtown by the memories I have made there for eighteen years of my life visiting and exploring – running through the woods, family barbecues, 4th of July parties, and learning to love what I like to call my “second home” with my cousin Erin and other family members — not as a town plagued by gun violence. The same goes for Boston. In just a year living in this area, I have explored corners of the city — Newbury Street, Fenway, rowing on the Charles. It has become my home. And I know in my heart that it will recover.

If we can learn anything from yesterday, maybe it’s that there are still heroes amongst the haze.

There can be good. We just need to keep finding it. Keep pushing it. Keep remembering what happened — but keep making positive memories so that we can keep living.

Let’s make kindness what defines us. Not terror.

#BostonStrong

Tri Hard,

Caity

Post-Workout Addiction: Hulu.

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When I was a junior in high school, I had mono. For a LONG time. I had almost 60 absences. Since I couldn’t work out (or do much of anything), I watched a LOT of TV. An absurd amount. I went through seasons and seasons of shows – everything from Shameless to Say Yes to the Dress.

After I (finally) recovered from my mono episode, I literally NEVER watched TV. I stopped keeping up with shows that I used to, and rarely sat down to watch anything. Unless of course, it was Shark Tank or The Situation Room – my favorites. Haha. But I finally started to get back into some of my favorite shows recently!

Now that I’m in college, however, it’s even more difficult to keep up with favorite programs! But — I found a sort of a solution. Hulu. It’s literally the best. After a tough crew workout, if I need a break before I tackle my work, I sometimes watch a random show on Hulu.

My favorite non-news shows right now consist of New Girl, The Mindy Project, Shark Tank, Family Guy, The Biggest Loser, The Carrie Diaries, and some other randoms. I don’t always have time to keep up with them regularly, but it’s nice to unwind once in awhile and watch some shows on my laptop! The seven dollars a month is a worth investment. Especially if you’re on the go a lot! I’ve been able to watch shows on planes and buses — not just in my dorm.

You should try it out! Harvard also gives us free HBO Go and Tivli, which allows us to watch HBO programs for free and watch live TV for free, which is awesome. I wish I could take advantage of it more!

What about you? What’s your favorite show? Do you use Hulu or TV as a way to unwind after workouts or after a tough day at school?

Tri Hard,

Caity

 

On Rain. (run in it)

Heavy Downpour

…Aaaaaand it’s raining again.

“Great!” *sarcasm* is the thought that usually pops into one’s head when — like today in Cambridge — a sunny day is interrupted by pools and never-ending puddles of rain.

Rain can be more than just a hinderance to your dryness and overall sanity related to weather concerns — it can be cleansing. Seriously. Now, I may not be the most spontaneous person on earth, but dropping everything and running in the rain is a feeling rivaled by few other things in life.

Everything is wet. It’s dark. Your legs feel cold. But you’re moving. Maybe it’s rain’s symbolic nature — like in A Farewell to Arms, or in basically every romantic movie ever — that makes running in it so cleansing. But that aside, there’s something different about running in the rain. Your hair turns a shade darker. Your legs turn pink. Dryness has become a thing of the past. Your sneakers let in a teeeeeensy bit of water, reminding your feet that you’re not in dry territory anymore.

But it’s more than that.

running.in.the.rain.is.freeing.

You just run. Run without thinking.

You can cry without anyone noticing.

Or let out what’s been bothering you.

Your stresses, your work — it’s all left behind, even if it’s just for the 6.4 miles recorded on your Garmin. Sure, regular runs let out stress and give you a great workout — but running through puddles and through constant moisture is different — in an inexplicable manner.

And a run in the rain makes that warm shower afterwards and sitting on the porch reading a book that much better.

The rain isn’t always bad. Maybe that’s with a lot of things. We just have to take things how they are — and go with it.

Tri Hard,

Caity

Keep going.

if-youre-going-through-hell-keep-going-2Something to think about for today.

In training or in life, the reward is always a sweet reminder that you kept going — even through hell.

Tri Hard,

Caity

 

Never never never give up

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Just a short inspiration for today. Take it to heart.

It’ll all be worth it in the end. All of the hard work, long nights, endless tasks, and everything that surrounds them.

This is one of those weeks where this mantra is helpful.

More tomorrow.

Tri Hard,

Caity