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.