Sunday, September 30, 2012

Grain-free = pain-free for me!!!

For many years, I've had GI issues usually after I ate.  Over the past two years, they have gotten significantly worse-painful cramping, terrible bloating, etc.  Two years ago, my big brother was diagnosed with Celiac disease, and he is on the extreme end of the spectrum (he can't even eat anything that was cooked near wheat-products without having horrible stomach pains).

A few weeks ago I got fed up with my own stomach pain and saw a doc.  Turns out I am gluten-intolerant.  Next I went to see a nutritionist.  She was amazing!!  I am now on a grain-free diet (paleo), and since I started eating this way I have had zero stomach issues!  It's been incredible!!  I did, however, eat pizza when I was in NYC last week (NY pizza is the best!), and man oh man did I regret it later that night.  

Now that I am paleo and pain-free, I've realized how much processed crap I was eating, despite me thinking I was eating "healthy".  I have learned about new products, such as coconut oil in lieu of vegetable or olive oil, and almond flour in lieu of wheat flour.  This has taught me to be very creative in the kitchen, and so far I've made some kick-ass meals that even my hubby likes!!  Sure there are times when I really want mac-n-cheese (mmm), but the pain I would get from eating it (like my NY pizza experience), is SO not worth it.

So here are some of the delicious things I've made recently:
Banana Walnut Muffins
Almond crusted salmon

Chicken fajitas
Paleo Waffles (I drizzled them with organic maple syrup)
A great snack my friend told me about it trail mix.  I make my own from the bins at Sprouts and I mix macadamia nuts, dried blueberries, shredded coconut, sunflower seeds, almonds, carob chips (like chocolate chips), walnuts, pumpkin seeds.  I then divide them into snack bags so they're an easy on-the-go snack.

One snack I love is guacamole, but now that I can't eat chips I wasn't sure what to eat the guac with.  A friend of mine who is paleo introduced me to plantain chips from Trader Joe's, and they are absolutely scrumptious with guac!

There are a lot of foods I eat that I don't have to change, like chicken, fish, steak, pork, fruits, and veggies.  The things I have to really become creative with are things like the waffles and muffins above since they have to be grain-free.  There are some awesome resources out there, some of which I linked in the picture captions above.

This has been a culinary adventure for me, and I love it.  I love the way I feel (no stomach pain) and I love being adventurous in the kitchen!  It's going to be fun exploring new recipes and writing about it along the way.

On another note, tomorrow registration for the LA Marathon opens, which is the beginning of my journey to running my first full marathon to raise funds and awareness for the horrible and rare disease called MDS that my Mom recently passed away from.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Long Beach Triathlon Race Recap!

I did it!  I finished my first triathlon!!  Because this was my first tri, this is a lengthy recap and I am posting a TON of pictures.  Enjoy!

On Sunday, September 16, I became a triathlete by swimming, biking, and running the Long Beach Triathlon.  I did it with two of my best friends and my younger bro, and my dad, hubby, and friends’ hubbys came out to be our cheerleaders and photographers!  Btw, it was all our first tri!

The day before Lisa, my bro, and I cruised down to the expo to pick up our packets.  The expo was tiny with only four vendors, so we were in and out in no time.
At the LB Tri expo
When I got home, I laid everything out to make sure I had what I needed for my early wake-up call the next morning.

Race day I woke up at 3:30am.  The night before I laid everything out the way I wanted to lay it out at my transition area (TA going forward), and had it ready to go in the morning.

After making some eggs (I knew I wasn’t going to eat for a few hours) and taking care of business (gotta do it before a race!) I picked Lisa then my brother.  We parked and arrived at the TA by 5:30am and to our benefit we were some of the first people there.  We got prime spots and set up our items.  Around 6, my other friend K arrived with a couple of her friends and they set up next to us.  We were all ready to go way before the TA closed at 6:45am, with ample time to pee before heading down to the water.  Here are some pics of us at our transition spot:
Me and my baby bro
Me and Lisa
Lisa, baby bro, me, Koko
We headed down to the water around 6:30am to dive in and get acclimated before my brother’s wave, Wave 1, took off at 7am.  Side note:  it was the most spectacular morning…it was foggy, cool, and the moon was lingering over the Long Beach skyline as the sun rose.  Here is a picture and this is not enhanced:
Sunrise over Long Beach
The water felt so good when we dove in and no wetsuit was necessary, although a majority of people were wearing them (I hear they make you very buoyant).  Sam lined up and he took off with the Elites and Males under 29 promptly at 7.  Lisa, Koko, and I were in Wave 5 which didn’t take off until 7:12.  I was told by some pros that if you’re a weak swimmer (ME!) stay back and to the left.  That means I’d be further out in the ocean and swim an extra lot of yards, but I’d be out of the chaos and have “safe passage.”  So I left my friends who are very strong swimmers, and found a nice spot on the left and towards the back of my wave.  At 7:12am we were off!  I leaped into the ocean and began swimming and holy moly was the water choppy!  A week prior I swam the course and it was like a lake:  calm and glassy.  This week was the complete opposite.  The ocean was so choppy, but I kept chugging along alternating between freestyle and breast stroke.  I stayed away from the crowd and had zero issues.  The 800meter swim that previously took me 15 minutes, took me 24 minutes on race day.  It was still exciting and fun.

Once I made it to shore, I ran the 400m through dry sand to the TA.  My friend's bf hollered my name as I was running out of the water so I turned towards him and he snapped this photo:

I ran into Lisa there who was gearing up for the bike leg.  I poured a jug of water over me to wash the salt water off (thank you to my brother for the brilliant idea!), dried my feet and put my shoes on.  Lisa and I rode out together and stayed with each other the entire 11 mile bike ride.
T1: Swim to bike (Lisa and I are in center in the distance) 
Riding out {& up a hill} together, and smiling ear to ear

Still smiling :)
It was unsually foggy and misty.  I was wearing sunglasses and kept wiping them because I couldn't see.  Here is a picture that shows the fog well:

Finally I took my sunglasses off and tucked them in my sports bra.  I was soaked from the mist and my bike and helmet were drenched, but the dampness kept us nice and cool.  After tackling a few {large} hills/bridges on what was expected to be a flat bike ride, Lisa and hit the TA area for Transition 2.

After taking off my helmet and sipping some water, I headed out for the run.  We ran along a beach, a path I am very familiar with, then out and back through Shoreline Village (which happens to be where the Hope Steps & A Cure Walk was in April for MDS, for my mom).  I smiled the entire.

I wasn’t tired at all, in fact I felt invigorrated.  I never was out of breath, but from the swim + bike before (and my lack of training, let alone a brick workout) my legs were dead.   I kept asking Mom for strength to keep me running.  I wasn’t going to stop no matter how dead my legs felt…and I didn’t stop.  My legs were fading fast, but as I got closer to the finish, I heard someone shout “Go Magster, yea you got this girl!!  Yeaa!!” and I saw my Dad cheering me on and waving his arms like crazy.  He was with my brother who had finished {a while ago} and together they gave me the extra motivation and strength for me to finsih STRONG.  I know I am a slow runner, but I always have to finish strong.  So I high fived my Dad and bro, and took off in a full fledged sprint.  I heard random people say, “Damn look at her go!” and I felt so encouraged.
Me rounding the corner to the finish!  Accidental Gatorade ad?

I dashed through the finish line, then literally slid to a stop when a lady flailed her arms at me and said “stop stop I need your chip.”  My hubby and Lisa’s hubby were at the finish line and they said I looked like a cartoon character sliding.  I don’t understand why they make you stop right there.  Give us some distance to slow down and catch our breath.  Oh well. 

After crossing the finish and getting my chip clipped off my angle, I gave my hubby a giant hug and kiss, and hugged Lisa who had already finished, and her hubby.  My Dad and bro walked over from where they were standing and I gave them a huge bear hug.  We stood around talking for a while and taking pictures (see below), before heading to a local joint for the most delicious veggie omelet with a side of bacon I’d ever had.  Oh, and a mimosa :)
We are triathletes!!!

My family :)  Daddy, hubby, and baby bro
My extended family :)  Love these guys! 

Thanks for coming out and cheering me on baby!!!  I love you!

I love this girl!! Friends since 1994  :)
Btw, she finished THIRD IN HER DIVISION!  I'm so proud of her!
YUM!!!  Post race veggie omelet...DELISH!
It was an unbelievably fun race, and I feel comfortable saying that I can see myelf getting addicted to tris.  Next time I will make sure to train though.  But next on my plate is the LA Marathon for MDS in memory of my Mom on March 17, 2013, and I am being sponsored by the Aplastic Anemia and Myelodysplastic Syndrome International Foundation.  But more on that to come later.

Here are my finals stats, and may I just add, I achieved every single one of my goals, including finishing in under two hours!

Overall Time = 1:57:45
Swim (800m) = 24:08
T1 = 4:12
Bike (11 miles) = 50:09 (13.2 mph)
T2 = 1:40
Run (5k) = 37:38 (12:33 pace)

I am so stoked about the entire triathlon experience.  I will definitely be doing another one, and I can't wait!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012


I did it!  I completed my very first sprint triathlon (800m swim + 11mi bike + 5k run)!  And I can say without a doubt that it won't be my last :)  I had so much fun I can't even explain.  It was difficult (the ocean was choppy), it was challenging (the bike course was not flat), and most of all, it was fun (good experiences with good friends)!

We did it!  We are triathletes!!!!
Lisa, Sam (baby bro), me
I'm so proud of my brother, Lisa, and Koko (not pictured above, but she came in 3rd in her division!) for competing and finishing!

Race recap to come!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Goals for the LB Tri

In 2 days I will be participating in my first triathlon, the Long Beach Triathlon (sprint distance).  I'm so excited especially because I'm doing it with my little brother and two of my best friends!  It's going to be challenging and so much fun!  So here are my first-timer goals:

Goal 1. Stay afloat and don’t drown.
I’ve heard horror stories about other swimmers kicking you, hitting you, pulling you down, and even resting on you.  I swam the course last weekend so at least I’m familiar with it, but I swam with maybe 50 other people.  On race day there will be about 1,000 racers swimming in the water (albeit we will be going in waves, but still) so I am mentally preparing to get kicked, hit, and endure utter chaos.  Hence my goal to not drown.

Goal 2. Don’t wipe out while mounting/dismounting/riding my bike.
All my bike training has been done on a stationary bike with the exception of one long road ride.  Since this is only my second road ride and I’ll be hyped up with adrenaline, I need to remember take my time mounting and dismounting so as not to fall flat on my face (and if I do, I’ll laugh at myself and get right back up!)

Goal 3. Avoid getting DQ’d 
There are so many rules for triathlons that result in time penalties and disqualifications.  Here are the top violations in case you’re curious.

Goal 4. Finish (in under 2 hours?)
My primary goal is to finish!  My secondary goal is to finish in under 2 hours:  ~15 mins for the swim; ~ 40 mins for the bike; ~35-40 for the run; ~4 mins/transition.  I’m giving myself extra time on the run because I don’t know how my legs will feel after biking.  If I end up needing more time to finish the triathlon and it puts me over 2 hours, I’m totally OK with that.  My main goal is to finish.

Goal 5. Have FUN!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I am going to have FUN with this triathlon!  I’m doing this for fun, and what’s the point of doing something like this if you can’t enjoy it?  So even if I get kicked, even if I fall off my bike, even if I get a time penalty, even if I take way over 2 hours to finish, I am going to HAVE FUN!

So there you have it!  My first triathlon goals for the Long Beach Triathlon.  Tomorrow I’m picking up my race packet with my bro and bff, then Sunday is race day!  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My First Open Water Swim!

I swam my first open water swim!!

Last Sunday, the LB Tri Club held a swim clinic at 8:00am.  I met my friend Lisa down there, who is also doing the Long Beach Tri.  The clinic consisted of a quick overview of the race with a discussion focusing on the swim leg (rules, tips, advice for newbies-that’s me!), followed by a practice swim on the course.  I learned a lot, like sighting off of building (assuming there is no heavy fog), staying in the back and to the left, and I was reassured that I WILL get kicked and hit during the swim…that is inevitable.
LB Tri Club discussion
Me and Lisa before the swim
After our Q&A sesh, we all walked down to where we will exit the water, then walked along the beach to the start.   They put us in waves (to mimic race day), and since this was my first ocean swim, I was put in the “newbie” wave, or the last wave.  It was great because I was able to watch how the veterans enter the water.  Then I heard “GO!” and my wave was off!
The 800m swim course + the run to the transition area
Before I knew it I was in the water, and let me tell you, the first half of the swim was so tiring!  First of all, I haven’t swam competitively in over 2 years (training fail), second of all, I’ve never swam in the ocean before (aside from leisurely days at the beach), and third, I was tired from running in the water.  Swimming the first 400m was tiring, but then I found my groove and alternated between freestyle and breast stroke for the last 400m and I felt great!  I took my time, and went at a pace I could maintain.  I thought it was going to take me 20-30 min to swim that leg, but I exited the water in nearly 15 min flat!  I was impressed with myself considering that was my first swim for this Tri.  Then came the tiring part…like on race day, we had to run to the transition station after exiting the water in order to get the full “what to expect on race day”.  Well, the exit to transition is 400m of dry sand, ugh.  Lisa, who is a much more experienced swimmer than I am, was waiting for me and cheering me on as I entered the transition area.  After that run I was exhausted.  Surprisingly it only took me a minute or two to catch my breath, which will be good on race day since I can compose myself during the transition to the bike.
Me and Lisa post swim :)
I’m so happy I swam the course because now I feel a lot more comfortable and I know what to expect (sorta).  Like I’ve said before, I’m doing this Tri for fun, and if it’s something I fall in love with after next Sunday, then I’ll actually train for the next one.  But for now, I’m going to go have fun with this Tri! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labor Weekend Recap!

I hope everyone enjoyed their 3-day weekend as much as I did!  My 3-day weekend was filled with some much needed R&R as well as some fun events with family and friends.

Friday kicked off the holiday weekend with a Stella & Dot party at my house hosted by yours truly.  My hubby's work-partner's wife is a S&D stylist, and a while she reached out to me to host a party and I said "absolutely!"  We had so much fun trying on jewelry, drinking wine, and snacking on a bunch of yummies I made.
And our fabulous stylist surprised me with an incredible gift...for every Stella & Dot Tribute bracelet sold, 25% would go towards my marathon campaign, Imagine A Cure For MDS, for Mom and MDS!!!
Tribute Bracelet, $36 & 25% goes towards MDS
If you're interested, email me at Love2Mags {at} gmail {dot} com
Saturday night I had a wonderful dinner with my Sis.  She just got back from her honeymoon so we oogled over pictures for a good portion of the night.  It was so much fun catching up with her, talking, and laughing.  As we were leaving, we saw "our store" so we of course had to take a picture in front of it :)
Sunday I slept in until 10am!  I never sleep in past 8am, and it felt so GOOD to do so!  We then spent the day on the water cruising around in the Duffy boat before docking at my Aunt's house for a Labor Day BBQ.  The weather was perfect:  the sun was shining, there was a gentle breeze, and the water glistened like diamonds.  So many kayakers, boaters, paddle-boarders, and swimmers were out, it was great!
Monday we took our new bikes out for a spin!  So I've been eyeing this road bike, the Felt ZW95,

and Hubs has been wanting a road bike too, so this weekend, we bought our bikes!  I'm so pumped!  Naturally we had to take them out for a spin.  We rode an amazing 15 miles and stopped to meet our friends for lunch.  It was so much fun!  I do have to say, though, when there is road with barely a bike lane and cars are whizzing by you, it's a little scary!  I can't wait for our next ride!

How was your Labor Day weekend?
What did you do?