Steelhead Select 2018 Wrap-Up

When we started Steelhead Select late in 2017, we had no idea our first year would be so full of fast racing, personal bests, laughter, and the organic growth of unconditional support between teammates. It has been a wonderful year of development, fast racing, risk-taking and accomplishment. Here are some of the highlights from our first year, with some 2018 “Personal Firsts” thrown in:

Team highlights

  • The BATWomen grew from five to ten core members, with athletes now racing in four different age categories as well as the Pro field.

  • We created an extended, supportive community of over thirty speedy and committed men and women who join the core group regularly for organized rides and runs,  

  • Two BATWomen earned their Pro cards.

  • In the year-end Ironman All-World Athlete rankings, the BATWomen finished with two golds, three silvers and a bronze status.

  • We organized the first annual BATWomen Epic Solstice Training Day in Hood River, which saw two dozen athletes participating across our six swims, bikes and runs, with nine stalwarts participating from the dawn run to dusk’s beer relay.

  • At our first team race at the Hagg Lake Triathlon, BATWomen swept the Olympic podium and won the Sprint race.

  • As a team, we volunteered at WHY Racing’s Scary Run, offering encouragement and direction to runners in the 10K and half marathon races. BATWomen also ran a transition clinic and helped at community rides and track practices.

  • Through partnerships with local companies, we’ve grown relationships with Output Speed Lab, Tritech Bikes, Pastini and Handful.

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Individual Highlights

Juliet Thompson Hochman:

  • Leading and growing and laughing with the BATWomen

  • Winning my age group at both 70.3 Victoria and Whistler and qualifying for 2019 Worlds.

  • Giggling my way through early season Cat 4 bike races with Elise.

  • 2018 Firsts: a Team Time Trial (exceeding my FTP for an hour - ouch!); a 70.3, a stand alone 10K, ten pull-ups.

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Cymon Kersch:

  • Earning my pro card in my first draft-legal triathlon.

  • Having the patience to come back from a serious injury.

  • Hitting 40 mph on the bike and developing courage on the descents.

  • Finishing a snowy Ronde PDX with Juliet and the subsequent gigantic team brunch.

  • 2018 Firsts: Century bike ride with Amy, draft legal triathlon, 70.3, 10K open water swim

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Amy Henderson:

  • Kona: Earning my pro card, top 10, sub-10 hours and riding a sub-5 hour bike leg.

  • BATWomen sweeping the podium at Hagg Lake Olympic Tri - nothing better than racing on a course full of friends!

  • Racing as a BATWoman and feeling the support of my team in every aspect of my races; drawing strength from our successful workouts and pushing myself harder knowing that everyone was watching the race tracker and cheering me on.

  • 2018 Firsts: Actually strategically racing an Ironman (not just executing a race plan), setting a race course record (Best in the West 70.3), racing two Ironmans in one year, biking from Portland to the coast with Cymon on her first 100 mile ride.

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Rachael Lenz:

  • Finding my PDX tri family

  • Fitting training into my Physician’s Assistant school schedule.  

  • Running rim-basin-rim in the Grand Canyon

  • 2018 Firsts: Figuring out rain gear, racing a 72.3, swimming in the Columbia River at the BATWomen Solstice, Swim-Run in the San Juans.

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Hannah Allen:

  • Winning the Hagg Lake Olympic Triathlon

  • Riding the 250k Amy’s Gran Fondo around Port Phillip Bay in Australia

  • 2 mile PR - fastest time since high school

  • The BATWomen Epic Solstice Day.

  • 2018 Firsts: Training at 4am before a 30 hour travel day, 3 flats in one ride, hitting the BATWomen swim standard of 10x100 on the 1:30 in a freshwater pool in Australia, trail running in New Zealand and the Swiss Alps.

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Elise Lagerstrom:

  • 40 second mile PR

  • 27 minute 70.3 PR/smashing the 5-hour mark by ten minutes

  • Breaking 1:40 in the 1/2 marathon off the bike

  • 2018 Firsts: Hood-to-Coast, racing two unexpected duathlons!

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Allison Lehnen

  • Racing every month April through August (and winning enough sandwich bread for the year!)

  • Top 10 finish at USAT Sprint Nationals and qualifying for the 2019 ITU World Championships

  • Finding my courage on my bike and achieving a new 40K TT PR

  • Runs around Hagg Lake on beautiful, warm summer mornings

  • 2018 Firsts: Hood to Coast, swimming across Hagg Lake and back.

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Laura MacCarley

  • Completing my first full Ironman at IM Canada

  • Having a rippin’ day at the Boulder Olympic tri and totally surprising myself by winning my age group

  • Whispering my prayer to the universe for one or two cool, fast women to train with and having it completely and outrageously over-deliver when I showed up in Portland to discover the BATWomen.

  • 2018 Firsts: First Ironman, joining my first real team since high school, consuming a record number of Clif bars in one day (not exactly proud of that one).

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Danielle Audino:

  • Moving to Portland for grad school and stumbling upon this group of inspiring, badass female triathletes.

  • 20 minute PR at 70.3 Victoria

  • A newfound confidence in myself both in and outside triathlon and appreciation of my abilities. “Start where you are. Use what you have. do what you can.”

  • 2018 Firsts: Stand alone marathon at Revel Big Cottonwood, racing a duathlon

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Shannon Coates

  • 4th female amateur at Ironman Lake Placid

  • Qualifying for 2018 70.3 World Championships at 70.3 Couer d’Alene

  • Getting engaged at the start line of my hometown half marathon in front of friends and family...and then winning due to the adrenaline!

  • Joining an incredible team of women who inspire and push me - The BATWomen

  • 2018 Firsts: Setting a race course record (Oregon Dunes), competing in my first Xterra triathlon.

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So the BATWomen had an amazing first year!  But triathlon, like life, is not all fun and games and unicorns and rainbows. We won’t paint an Instagram-fake reality across our first year. There were also some tough times. One of us was sidelined for six months with a nearly career-ending injury. Another faced an unexpected cancer diagnosis with subsequent surgery. Like many high performance athletes, the BATWomen have ongoing discussions about body image, imposter syndrome, anxiety, balancing training with work and relationships, and where to take this crazy triathlon endeavor into which we sink so much time. There is endless, sometimes uncontrolled laughter, but there are also tears. But the strength of the BATWomen is that when one of us wins, we all win; when one of hurts, we hurt alongside her but carry her along. We are #strongertogether.

Here’s to more of EVERYTHING in our second year. Roll on 2019.

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Arming Your Mind for Race Day- Juliet Hochman

As triathletes, we spend countless hours each week training our bodies to navigate the rigors of the swim, bike and run on race day. We invest in expensive equipment, coaching, race fees and travel. We dial-in our nutrition, study course maps and practice speedy transitions. But what are you doing to prepare yourself mentally for race day?

Many athletes overlook the intentional preparation necessary to execute their best race. USA Triathlon High Performance Advisor Bobby McGee estimates that fewer than 10% of athletes perform according to their training-indicated ability because they are held back by negative mindsets and mental strategies on race day. But you can’t show up to compete simply committed to a positive approach; proper race day preparation takes intention and practice.

Set big goals. Then break them into pieces.

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Setting and verbalizing audacious goals takes courage. You might want to complete your first sprint triathlon in 2019 or you might be gunning to stand on the top step at the World Championships. Either way, it’s a big goal for you. And failure feels real. Chasing big goals is both exhilarating and terrifying.

There are days when it is impossible to see how to connect the dots to reach your goal. The goal just feels too big. So break it down. Focus on what is in front of you the next day. Execute on that single workout. You don’t have to reach the top of the podium on day one. Look only one day out, then one week out, then one month out. Reach each of those milestones one by one; tick them off and move steadily towards what you hope to accomplish.

I remember feeling overwhelmed when I was trying to earn a spot on the 1988 U.S. Olympic Rowing Team. I was the youngest, the smallest and the least experienced. There were some nights when the desire to race in the Olympics literally suffocated me, forcing me to throw my covers off and pace my dorm room. When this happened, I forced myself to focus on the next day’s training. What did success look like tomorrow? What would I do to execute perfectly for that day only?  Because if I executed perfectly tomorrow, I would be able to stay and train with the team another day.

Once you’ve visualized achieving the next day’s objective, think ahead to the next milestone.

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It might be an upcoming “C” race, or a particularly difficult workout, or a test or time trial.  As with your next day’s goals, practice pragmatism and patience. What will success look and feel like when you hit that milestone? Is there more than one way to measure victory on that day?

Finally, give yourself permission to then consider the final destination of your journey. If you are attempting your first sprint triathlon, see yourself crossing the finish line, welcomed by friends and family. If you’re dreaming of winning the World Championships, see yourself standing on the top step with a medal around your neck.

Before the Opening Ceremonies of the 1988 Olympics, I had walked into that stadium in Seoul 500 times in my mind. Every night for nearly two years, I took the time to see, feel and smell that experience in my head. But not until I had worked my way through the more pragmatic process of considering the more immediate milestones required the next day and the next month. Piecing them all together allowed me to connect the dots to reach the ultimate goal of making the Olympic team.

See yourself in the moment.

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Give yourself the opportunity to see yourself succeeding in your race. This takes time and intention. It takes practice. As you learn more about your race, the course, the conditions, and the competition, start drilling down mentally on details. As with breaking your goal into small steps to make it more digestible, approach your race in pieces too.

Be realistic, specific and positive. Visualize each leg of the race in sections and rehearse how you will feel and what you will tell yourself on race day. “By the time I reach that big hill on the back half of the Victoria course, my legs will be tired. But I’ve trained hard and smart and climbed thousands of feet this year and I’ll be ready to fly up that monster...when I hit the run turn-around, I’ll be coming back into the wind and it will be a shock. But I’ve run west through the Gorge on windier days and I manage wind well...500m before every aid station on the run, I will suck down a gel even if I don’t want it.” As with everything else in triathlon, practice practice practice. The more times you can see yourself conquer a difficult section of your race, the more confident and relaxed you will be on race day. You will have already been there a hundred times in your head.

In the week before race day, set aside the time to talk yourself through the entire race.

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At 2017 ITU World Championships, I spent the afternoon before the race walking circles around the old harbor in Rotterdam talking my way through race morning from breakfast through to the finish line. It can also help to tell your “race story” to a trusted friend. What will you be thinking and feeling at the start line? Half way through the swim? When you run up to transition? How will your legs feel on the bike? On the run?

See yourself from above “blimp-view” and then change the camera angle so you’re in your body on the race course. Imagine yourself feeling strong, in control and happy. Visualize yourself passing route landmarks on the course and how you will feel at that moment. Tell yourself these stories out loud so that they become part of the fabric of your race day experience before you even toe the start line.

Arm yourself with cues, songs, memories and inspiration.

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Be ready with both technical cues, mental distractions and emotional inspiration that will pull you back from the precipice and allow you to refocus when you feel discouraged or your mind wanders. Key into the technical cues that you know will help you re-group your form. Am I crossing over my left arm on the swim? Am I mashing the pedals? Am I pulling forward with my feet and running tall?

Are you a music buff? A poetry wizard?A polyglot? Line up your mental music. One of my teammates spent her breakthrough Kona performance running through the lyrics to Hamilton in her head. Another can tell you which song she chose for every one of her 2018 races. A third will run through Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” over and over again. When I start to circle the drain, I count backwards from 100 to 1 in Dutch; choose something that is just hard enough to keep you in the present.

Finally, arm yourself with specific memories of great performances or people who inspire you so that when you begin to go down the rabbit hole of negative thoughts, you can transport yourself to a more positive place. Perhaps it was the day you crushed 4x2-mile repeats off the bike. Maybe it’s a specific race where you exceeded your own expectations. Or it maybe a teammate, loved one or person who continually inspire and support you (WWSD? “What would SHE do?”).

Don’t wait until the race to ready your arsenal of where you will take your mind on race day. Have your toolkit ready and practice it during training. It’s too hard to make race-day decisions when you are hurting and doubting. Know where to take your brain when you will need it the most.

Prepare for all scenarios.

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As you think through your race day, remind yourself there will be difficult periods (“when I come out of the water I’ll be cold and my hands won’t work well so I’ll need to smack them together to get the blood flowing...when my feet hit the ground in T2, my legs will likely buckle so be ready for the first 500m of the run to feel like mud.”). No race is all sunshine and unicorns. Beyond your own performance, situations arise over which you have no control. Someone might kick your helmet in transition, you may flat, a race volunteer might send you the wrong way...even pros get stung by jellyfish, lose their nutrition off their bike or break the zipper on their trisuit.

Try out different race day disasters in your mind. Think through how you will react. See yourself as a calm, resolved problem-solver who will handle whatever the day throws at you. Imagine yourself immediately re-focusing on your race and letting go of whatever mishap threatens to derail your race day. By mentally preparing for the inevitable race day hurdles, you will be better able to handle them when they occur. And they will occur!

Bringing the Thunder to Down Under

Editor’s note: Less than two weeks ago our “JUST SEND IT” BATWoman teammate, Hannah Allen, departed for an exciting opportunity with ON Footwear in Melbourne. With just four days notice, she packed her bags and her bike, hugged family and friends goodbye for (what we hope) will be an 8-week assignment Down Under. If she kills it, she’ll stay longer. And as our teammate Rachael commented sadly “well, then, she’s never coming back.”

None of this surprises us. Hannah has more energy than nuclear fission and a proclivity for embracing life at warp speed. In her first ever 70.3 last year, she not only won her age group and qualified for Worlds, she was the first non-pro woman to finish, beating the rest of the amateur field. She brings it at full volume to every training session, complete with music playlist and an infectious energy that drags everyone along for the ride. Hannah will be racing at 70.3 Worlds in South Africa in September and hopefully either Victoria or Whistler as well. Here is Hannah’s first report from Oz...we miss you H!

“Hey BATWomen!  Here is a recap of my first ten days…

Work- I’m juggling both US and AUS responsibilities, I am currently cranking out 12-14 hour work days. The past week and a half I have been swamped with AUS warehouse tours, dealer meetings, account introductions, plus jet lag. I am loving every minute of it and I'm finally feeling like I'm falling into the swing of things.

Training- As typically happens when the work / life / training balance goes askew, my training has fallen off a bit. But I have been fortunate to catch glimpses of future training opportunities and venues.

Last weekend I snuck out on a 40 mile ride along Beach Road. As the name suggests, it is a coastal road that follows the line between the Port Phillip Bay and the Southern Australian coast. The road itself is smoothly paved with rolling undulations that provide an unexpected elevation gain. In the near future, I intend to do a point-to-point ride from Melbourne to the end of Beach Road near Rosebud (roughly 100 miles).  

This week I discovered the Royal Botanical Gardens of Melbourne and ran along a famous running path called "The Tan."  The Tan is an approximately 4 km loop bordering the Botanical Gardens made of gravel and sand. Olympians of the past and present have raced around this track and their finishing times are posted along the way to provide you with a vanity check. I'm looking forward to racing my way around this track in the near future!

For now, I am exploring with short runs/rides/swims until I am settled at work and can  venture out on longer adventures. Here's to replacing physical stress with mental stress! Hazzah!”

 

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Dreaming of Summer Racing

It’s snowing this morning in Portland. In an hour it will change over to a cold rain, turning the roads sloppy and mucky and making the clean-up process as long as the ride or run itself.  At this time of year, we start to dream of summer.

On a ride last week, we shared stories of our favorite races. These aren’t necessarily our most memorable races; these are the events we love returning to year after year. Maybe it’s the clear, cool lake or the one mammoth hill on the bike course.  Maybe it’s the pre-race music or the hilarious announcer or the beer tent.  Or maybe it’s that our friends and family are always there to race and cheer.  Whatever the draw, here are the events we’re thinking about now to get us through these cold and wet training days.

Rachael:  “My favorite race was also my very first Xterra – Xterra Lory in Fort Collins, Colorado. I camped in the mountains just west of the swim start the night before. The morning of the race, I got to sleep in a bit, because I was already pretty much at the venue, then "warm up" with a beautiful sunrise hike down the mountain. The swim was in the most beautiful cove and the bike was in a super lush green meadow. I was TERRIBLE at mountain biking (3rd time on a mountain bike ever), but had so much fun, and all the other racers were so friendly and supportive, regardless of how many times I fell off the bike. Most people hated the run, but I loved it...switchbacks straight up and down a steep mountain. The race was such a fun way to switch up my normal race routine and I look forward to doing this event again someday.”  

Amy:  “My favorite is a local race called Tri Santa Cruz held in August. This race is the perfect, northern California race. It starts with an ocean swim that is typically cold, salty, foggy, and choppy, but thrilling at the same time. Then you bike and run along West Cliff Drive overlooking the ocean. The bike is fast, with sweeping curves and little rollers and you get to cheer on your friends and other racers as you go out-and-back for multiple loops. During the run, you can take in the awesome ocean view and watch the surfers down below. In true California fashion, the fog is usually gone by the time you're coming to the finish line so you can enjoy the post-race festivities in the sunshine.”

Amy, Santa Cruz

Amy, Santa Cruz

Juliet:  “Truth be told, my favorite event is the annual Skillet Toss at the Sandwich State Fair in New Hampshire! But if we’re talking triathlon, the Hagg Lake Triathlon outside Portland, Oregon is my hands down go-to summer event.  WHY Racing runs great events and the energy and music from the moment the mike goes on at 6 a.m. when you’re setting up transition sets the stage for a great day.  I love the hilly bike course and the lake is clean and clear. Most of the Portland triathlon community shows up so there are lots of friends around; it’s a great vibe from start to finish.”  

Juliet, Hagg Lake

Juliet, Hagg Lake

Hannah:  “My favorite event is easily Bloomsday, my hometown race which is well-known and well-loved by all. It’s a 7.1 mile road race in Spokane where every level of runner, from baby-jogging mothers to Olympians, line up at the starting line the first weekend of May to celebrate our fantastic local running community. The course is lined with cheering spectators and bands that rock you through each mile marker. The energy of the crowd is palpable; I go back every year for it.”

Hannah, Bloomsday Race

Hannah, Bloomsday Race

Cymon:  “For a local race, Hagg Lake is also my favorite.  It was my first real triathlon and I love the hills and the familiarity of the course from training out there during the summer. The lake is my favorite open water swim spot near Portland. It just feels like my home course. My hands-down favorite triathlon run course was at ITU Worlds in Rotterdam. The path through the park was so pretty and it was nice to have a shaded run for once. And the bike course there was extremely entertaining with all the bridges, 180 degree turns, ramps and cobblestones!”  

 

Our Favorite Training Recipes

Let’s be honest, one of the many uncountable joys of triathlon training is how great food tastes post-work out. In fact, we have a rule on long rides that no one can talk about food until the ride is 90% of the way finished. Then the gloves come off. Last Sunday, Amy was planning a feast of BBQ tofu and brussel sprouts while desperately hoping that her husband hadn’t polished off the leftover cornmeal crust pizza in the fridge. Juliet was dreaming about a rice bowl with oven roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, salmon, spinach, avocado and peach salsa. Rachael wasn’t sure what was in the fridge so just planned to stop for a New Season’s wok bowl on the way home. But we discussed and critiqued each other’s culinary plans in great detail at the tail end of our 5-hour ride.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are blessed with a huge variety of local fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, and nuts (and beer and wine).  One of the great challenges of training twice a day around work and family commitments is taking advantage of our regional bounty to prepare healthy food that fuels a 2-3 workouts/day training regimen. Here are some of our favorite recipes.  Enjoy!

Juliet.  The floor of Juliet’s car is a treasure trove of granola, blueberries, dried cranberries and walnuts. A project manager, Juliet eats on the run between morning training, work, more training and her most important role as COO of Hochman Family Inc., which includes two teenage boys, a husband managing a start-up, and a loopy flat-coated retriever.  Juliet’s game-changing discovery is the Shower Pancake. “We all know the importance of getting food in within 30 minutes of the end of a workout. By the time I’ve showered and driven home or to work, that window has disappeared.”

Enter the Shower Pancake. These scrumptious, high protein flapjacks are sweet enough to eat on their own. Nosh on one between soaping and shampooing and get half your breakfast in before you even towel off…

Juliet's Shower Pancake

Juliet's Shower Pancake

Mix together in a food processor until smooth:

1 ½ cups oat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ cup egg whites (or 4 regular egg whites)
1 banana
1 cup cottage cheese
¼ cup maple syrup
Add-ons (see below)

Drop a generous amount on a hot griddle. Cook like any other pancake. Cool on cookie racks and freeze in a ziplock.

While cooking, add nibbles like banana slices, walnuts, coconut, chocolate chips, dates…really anything will work.  You can also spread almond butter and bananas between them like a sandwich once they’ve cooled. Or just leave them plain. Grab one when you leave in the morning and it will be thawed by the time you’re finished in the pool/weight room/trainer/treadmill.

Hannah dials in with Oatmeal of Champions. Before every race she eats this “loaded oatmeal bowl of love.”

Mix together:

3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup almond milk
1 banana
1/2 scoop protein powder (optional)
2 Tbsp peanut butter
1 Tbsp cinnamon

Allow everything to soak in almond milk for about 5 minutes. Add extra almond milk if the oats have soaked it all up after the 5 minutes. Microwave for 3 minutes on high, and enjoy!  

Rachael’s go-to food for training is her Kitchen-Sink Bars. She usually makes two types at a time, one for pre/during workout and one for after with extra protein. There’s no standard script as she uses whatever is on hand, but here is a good base recipe:

Pre/During Training Kitchen Sink Bars

2 mashed bananas
1 cup pureed pumpkin
2 zucchini, shredded/blended to a pulp
½ cup dried fruit (blueberries, raisins)
½ cup pumpkin seeds
2-3 eggs whites
½ tsp cinnamon
Honey/agave/brown sugar
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup nut butter
2-3 cups of oats
Pinch of salt
Optional: chocolate chips (extra dark or white is best)

Post-training Kitchen Sink Bars (more protein, so perfect as a recovery mini-meal or snack any time during the day)

Same as above, plus
1 cup Greek yogurt
½ cup whey protein powder
1-2 more egg whites
Oats, as needed to maintain consistency

Mix everything together. Line baking pan with foil/parchment paper and pour batter into pan. Top with a bit of honey/brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Bake at 350 until top is golden brown or an inserted knife comes out clean.

Amy’s recipe is Kale Cabbage Slaw with Mustard-Maple Dressing.  She loves how it fills up a big bowl and even though it's a salad it's hearty enough to last in the fridge for leftovers for a few days without getting soggy. Which means that after big workouts it's ready to be eaten in a hurry - you don't even need to heat it up! It's also forgiving to make - you can replace many of the salad ingredients with other items and play with ratios.

Amy’s Recipe: Kale Cabbage Slaw with Mustard-Maple Dressing

Amy’s Recipe: Kale Cabbage Slaw with Mustard-Maple Dressing

Dressing:

Mix all of these in a food processor, blender or using an immersion blender:
15 oz. can cannellini beans
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup mustard
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 TBSP soy sauce
2 tsp maple syrup
Juice of 2 lemons

Salad:

6 cups of kale, remove the ribs and shred/cut finely
1/2 a head cabbage (red or green), shredded -- easiest to use the shredder function on a food processor
1 cup shredded carrots - use food processor
1 cup broccoli - finely chopped
15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Other addition ideas: Sliced green apple, bell pepper, cauliflower, sliced almonds

Finally, Cymon weighs in with her super fast and easy Protein Shake, a favorite after every tough workout. An MD/PhD student in neuroscience, Cymon can whip this together and take it to the lab with her to save time. “It tastes more like a delicious smoothie than a protein shake, which I don’t usually like. The vanilla honey protein powder brings the flavor to a whole different level.”

Ingredients for Cymon's Shake

Ingredients for Cymon's Shake

8 oz almond milk
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
2 scoops protein powder (28g)

Calories out, calories in!  Train, eat…repeat.  Hope your enjoy our munchies!

 

Race Day Rituals and Superstitions

Many athletes have quirky race day or game day rituals. From professionals to weekend warriors, athletes of all abilities are calmed by competition day routines and habits because they offer us something known as we walk into a day full of unknown outcomes. A simple google search will turn up dozens of videos chronicling Rafael Nadal’s habit of always stepping over court lines with his right foot first and his pre-serve neuroses of grabbing shirt-nose-ear-ear-shirt.  Numerous Champions League soccer players will touch the field before kick off when they run to their positions. Even Michael Jordan played every game of his Chicago Bulls career wearing his UNC college shorts underneath his NBA uniform.

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A study co-authored by researchers at Erasmus University (The Netherlands) and Free University (Germany) found that rituals can have a profound effect on reducing stress for athletes, allowing them to perform better. In executing tasks that can be reliably completed, athletes create order in their world on a day of high anxiety. States the study: “Rituals ‘work’ because the person believes in them.”

Like everyone else, the BATWomen have our share of race day rituals. We thought we’d share some of our favorites and invite you to share some of yours.  

Hannah always wears new black socks on race day. Always new. Always black. She says she just feels faster in black…and “who doesn’t feel their best in a new pair of socks?” This seemed to work for her when she not only won her very first 70.3 last summer but also finished first for non-pro women!  Keep wearing those new black socks Hannah…

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Juliet walks to the start line reciting the prayer from Chariots of Fire in her head. She’s not particularly religious, but she figures if it worked for Eric Liddell in 1924, it works for her.  She likes the part that says, “they shall mount up with wings as eagles” the best. When she gets to the line all that goodness evaporates as she turns to the women on her right, then her left, and tells herself “I’m going to blow you out of the [insert expletive] water!”  This ritual originated when she rowed on the Olympic team against the enormous, undefeated, and unbeatable East Germans. They seemed so big when she lined up next to them on the starting line that when Juliet mouthed this same mantra, it was tough not to giggle at the absurdity of it all.

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Amy is a big believer in tater tats for good luck on race day.  She first discovered these adorable little tattoos on a triathlon club trip to Santa Barbara with a teammate who later became her husband. That Santa Barbara race she wore a “leek for luck.” Later came an asparagus for the Boston Marathon and carrots and snow peas for other races. Her favorite is the one she wears for Ironman races…a beet…because she has to beat the competition. We think Amy is on to something here. For her Ironman Santa Rosa race in May, we’re recommending a squash…

Rachael has a Lion King towel that she uses in transition. Her mom gave it to her when she was learning to swim at age 5, to give her the courage of Simba in the pool. Now she uses its bright colors to help her find her spot in transition and to remember that nothing can be as scary as jumping into the deep end where the water is twice as deep as you are tall.

Cymon talks through both her transitions - from swim in to run out - out loud with her boyfriend the night before her race. This helps her remember everything when her nerves turn her brain to oatmeal. By seeing it in her head and detailing her plan, Cymon remembers everything from her pre-race gu to her towel and goggles.

So that’s what’s running through the brains of the BATWomen on race day.  Please share some of yours!

 

Why Create the BATWomen?

Triathlon is inherently an individual sport.  Athletes race each other and the clock as they move from swim to bike to run as quickly and efficiently as possible. With the exception of joining master’s swim groups, most triathletes train on their own, either for lack of training partners or the difficulty in coordinating life and training schedules with others. Even the race itself, with it’s non-drafting bike format, discourages collaboration and cooperation between competitors. So triathletes at all levels toil away in obscurity, logging long hours on bike trainers, treadmills, tracks, and trails, anticipating race days when they can finally hang out for a day with other like-minded individuals in pursuit of a hard-earned milestone or goal.

We don’t think it has to be this way.

Triathlon training, like any pursuit in amateur sports, is fun. Setting goals; chasing improvement; mastering technique; watching times fall; pushing hard physically and emotionally; succeeding, failing and seeking success again…these are great endeavors that make for better athletes and better people. But the joy in chasing speed has a multiplier effect in the company of others.

For women moving towards the top of their age groups in a small city, it doesn’t take long before the pool of compatible female training partners shrinks. So we find men willing to swim, bike and run with us, first to pull, then to share the draft. These are wonderful guys, generous, inclusive and supportive. And it’s from them that we earned our name – Bad Ass Triathlon Women.

But there’s something about a community of women training together that is special. It’s not just that it’s easier to compare performance metrics; it’s about carving out a space to call our own. It’s about mentoring, leading, inspiring, pushing, supporting and cheering other women. One moment it’s about hill repeats or hitting impossible send-offs in the pool; the next it’s about relationships, careers or health concerns. It’s creating a team for us.

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There are very few places in the world where women can pursue excellence with other women. There are college teams and sororities, but those dry up at graduation. The ranks of business and law and medicine are slowly filling with more women, but often to achieve positions of leadership and authority, women have to single-mindedly outperform their peers, leaving little time for mentorship or collegiality with other women.

After Shalane Flanagan became the first American woman in 40 years to win the New York marathon in November, the Times wrote an article about Flanagan’s efforts to create a high performance training group in Oregon. All eleven of Flangan’s training partners made it to the Olympics while training with her. This wasn’t just to mentor younger women coming up through America’s distance running ranks; this was an intentional play by Flanagan to surround herself with training partners who would push and support her on a daily basis. The result was a competitive, symbiotic relationship that both buoyed elite female distance runners and provided fierce competition to prepare Flanagan and others to succeed on the world’s stage.

The BATWomen are a bright, fun, creative, committed crew. And they are fiercely competitive. This year, as in year’s past, these women expect to top podiums at local, regional and national races. Competing, like training, is fun. And by pushing and supporting each other we will be faster. We are stronger together. Join us.