November 5, 2010

The not so new anymore blog...

This blog still seems to be getting some action, although it has been inactive for months now...

Want to keep following my blog? Please go HERE!

See ya on the new blog,


May 21, 2010

Buddy returns... Some random thoughts.

In other news - GOOD LUCK to everyone racing in Ixtapa tomorrow, especially Leif -  it's his first ITU race :)


May 20, 2010

Fennel & orange salad recipe

I managed to remember to post this recipe on my new blog, but figured I would post a link here too. So here is my Fennel and orange salad recipe, plus a bit more related information :)


May 17, 2010

Moving to a new home!

Not me - Im not going anywhere, mainly because I really don't like packing and unpacking... This blog is in the process of moving. I will not delete it, but I will not post anything new... Unless of course I forget that I have a new blog and post here out of habit, which has happened a couple of times already! 

The new home is here. Its still a bit of a work in progress, and I will tweak things gradually. 

May 14, 2010

I may or may not have celiac disease...

The question is: will I ever find out?!

I started reading/learning more about celiac disease about 5 years ago, when I was tested for everything on the planet to figure out what is wrong with me. At that point, I was REALLY hoping I had celiac because it seemed like a much easier thing to handle compared with the alternative, and what ended up being the actual diagnosis (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). I have written about that previously, so you can read all about it here.

The tests came back negative and my hopes of a somewhat easy fix and a quick return to racing were shattered. I'm not saying that celiac disease is 'easy', but I really don't think following a gluten free diet is that big of a deal. An adjustment? Sure thing! A really tough thing to do? Not really... especially when you compare it to the 'fix' for CFS, which  isn't as clear cut and simple (read: a 'fix' does not exist. Yet?).

About a year ago, I started experimenting with eating a lot less wheat and gluten, realizing that it doesn't really agree with my stomach. I can't say I have been following a strict, 100% gluten/wheat free diet. Probably more like 90%. I mean, I didn't worry too much about the wheat in the soy sauce when I had sushi, and I would sometimes use spelt for baking, along side other occasional slips. After all, I don't have celiac disease, so a bit of gluten every now and then won't cause any harm, right? Things were going OK, stomach was feeling pretty good and I didn't have issues with energy levels.

About 2 weeks ago, I had a bit more gluten/wheat than normal, and my stomach has not been the same since. NOT fun at all, and that is all I am going to say! You don't want the details anyways, trust me. I had some tests done yesterday and got partial results this afternoon. Apparently the tests show some sort of an allergic response, to something. To what, you are asking? Well, I asked that too. The answer I got was that it could be seasonal allergies or asthma. Not likely, because I never had either! When I told the doc that he said we should wait for the rest of the tests and then I should talk to my GP, who is (lucky me) out of town right now.

I am fairly certain more tests will reveal celiac. The problem is that to test for celiac and get accurate results you need to eat that stuff on a regular basis. That means I will need to eat 1-4 slices of bread or equivalent every day for a few weeks before the tests (blood and/or biopsy)! I know my body will not respond well to that and I hesitate putting it through it for that amount of time before getting tested again. So the way I see it, I have two options:
  1. Bite the bullet, eat gluten (sigh) for a few weeks and then get the tests done. At least I will know for sure and won't justify eating a little bit of wheat/gluten every now and then saying 'it won't cause too much harm because I'm not celiac' like I have so far...
  2. Just assume I have celiac and stop eating gluten all together, pretending I was really diagnosed properly. That way I will save myself the pain (and it will be painful) of eating that much gluten before the tests.
I'm sort of leaning towards option #2, but on the other hand I just want to know for sure... so I will have to sleep  on it (and wait for the rest of the test results too).

As a side note, I think limiting gluten in ones diet is a good strategy, regardless of whether you have celiac or not. More on that later.

April 25, 2010


This morning, the streets of downtown Victoria were filled with thousands of runners participating in the TC10k.

Among those thousands, were 7 of my athletes: Leif, Derek, Kamal, Adam, Nick, Myke and Mark, who did pretty well despite running on very tired legs. It went something like this:

Adam O'Meara: It was a bit of a last second decision for Adam to enter the race, but I am glad he did! His last 10km was a while ago, so we were both pretty curious to see where he is at right now. Well, he appears to be right where we want him clocking 33:09 (PB). Not bad for a long course triathlete at the end of a tough 3 week build, eh? Oh, Adam is also getting married next Sunday! Congradulations are in order :)

Derek Westra-Luney: DWL destroyed the Tri Canada 1500m world cup swim standard, clocking 18:04 (LC) a few weeks ago, and the goal for today was a sub 35 min 10km to go along with that. That was accomplished with 34:38 (PB). Obviously it is not the world cup standard, but since a year ago he was running about 3 minutes slower for a 10km, I think we are on the right track. The funny thing is that in the fall, Derek applied for a TriBC elite card and was rejected because he didn't race enough triathlons last year. Hopefully his swimming ability and constant improvements on the run (and bike too, obviously) will get him an elite card so he can gain some valuable experience racing a few continental cups (including kewlona) this summer. 

Leif Baradoy: Leif was kind of MIA this week... His days and nights were filled with several assignments, packing (they are moving today. Talk about a sense of timing... haha) and getting some graduate grant applications in. Among all that caos, he still managed to run a PB of 34:52

Kamal Rae: Kamal learned the importance of pacing several times in the last year or so, and that was something we really wanted to get right today... That goal was achieved with a significantly improved pacing strategy! The goal time wasn't achieved, although with a time of 35:21 he managed to get a new PB running over 2 minutes faster than last year... The Sun Run is up next!

Myke LaBelle: Running a 10km sick on little training always hurts... 35:58 will do for today, and I really look forward to seeing him run significantly faster soon! Kids, don't try that at home...

Nick Gottfried: Another PB for Nick, running 37:12. That killer instinct isn't there yet but once it is - I am very certain that time will drop significantly... Nick has come a long way in the year we have been working together, improving consistently.

Mark Ritchie: Mark missed a PB by mere seconds! He has been running really well lately and his time of 37:19 shows that. 

Well done to everyone who raced this morning! Here are a few pictures from our team group session at Beacon Hill Park on Thursday. The boys worked pretty hard! 

April 5, 2010

Eggplant & sweet potato curry

I made this curry a long, long time ago, but never got around to posting the recipe. I wrote it on a random piece of paper and made the mistake of placing it somewhere where I though was safe, so I don't lose it. Well, of course I lost that piece of paper... but I found it this evening! Yay for small victories :)

Since I am on a bit of a roll here with posting stuff, there is no time like the present to post this one, especially because it is very likely that piece of paper will be lost again pretty soon! Plus, since my recent recipes all included meat, it is certainly time to post a vegan friendly recipe :)
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into medium sized pieces
  • 1 medium sweet potato, cut into medium sized pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed & chopped
  • 2 cm fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 dates, pulsed to a paste in a food processor
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Chili flakes, to taste (how much heat can you handle?)
  • 1.5 tsp turmeric
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp paprika 
  1. Sprinkle the eggplant pieces with a bit of salt and set aside in a drainer for ~10 minutes. 
  2. Peel and cut the sweet potato.
  3. Heat 1/2 tsp of coconut oil in a big pan and cook the eggplant over medium heat. Work in small batches and remove from pan when golden brown to drain on a paper towel.
  4. Add the remaining coconut oil to the pan and saute onion until translucent. 
  5. Add ginger, garlic, all of the spices and cook for 2-3 minutes to release the flavors. 
  6. Add the lemon juice and coconut milk. Stir and bring to the boil, then add the sweet potato.
  7. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. 
  8. Add the eggplant and mushrooms and cook for another 4-5 minutes. 
  9. Add the date paste and stir for about a minute so it gets mixed in properly.
  10. You can add some spinach/kale/chard leaves at this point if you like, and cook quickly - just until they wilt.  

April 4, 2010

Bacon & leek stuffed acorn squash

I wrote this recipe on a tiny piece of paper right after I made this dish... and since I am pretty sure I will lose said piece of paper pretty soon, I figured I better post it asap! Besides, I am on a bit of a roll here too...

So here it is: my latest kitchen experiment... one that was actually double tested! I made this on Wednesday as some sort of a test run. I had a butternut squash lying around and I used it for experiment #1. It turned out great! Then I used an acorn squash on Friday for experiment #2 (Andrew was kind of bummed out he didn't get to try experiment #1...) and it was even better! I recommend that you use acorn squash, but at least now you know there is another option too.

You will need...
  • 2 small acorn squash
  • 1 onion
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 leek (just the white part)
  • 12-14 small brown mushrooms
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 6 strips bacon (FYI: Red Barn has great bacon!)
  • Pre heat oven to 400 degrees
  • Cut squash lengthwise by half and scoop out the seeds. Place in a roasting dish and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Roast for ~20 minutes or until tender (not too soft though!)
  •  While the squash is roasting, chop the onion, slice the leeks, crush & chop the garlic. heat the coconut oil in a pan and saute everything for ~10 minutes.
  • Cook the bacon in another pan. When cooked, cut into bite size pieces and set aside.
  • Slice the mushrooms and add then to the leeks/onions/garlic. Saute for another 5-8 minutes. Add the bacon.
  • By this point, the squash should be ready... Take it out of the oven and stuff with the mixture. Place back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or so, or until the squash is soft. 

I am out of ideas of what vegetable I should experiment with next... other than a pepper, which is kind of ordinary. Any suggestions?

March 27, 2010

Stuffed eggplant recipe

Following the success of last weekend's stuffed fennel bulbs, I decided to experiment with stuffing another veggie: eggplant! (or aubergine, if you happen to live in Aus/NZ/UK...).

It turned out pretty tasty, Andrew gave it two thumbs up :-)

I might start experimenting with stuffing a different veggie every weekend... next up = squash? 

What you need
  • 1 large eggplant
  • ~350g ground turkey
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • 2 medium size tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard 
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 2 tbsp almond flour
  • 2 tsp coconut oil 
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
The process 
  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Cut the eggplant in half, length-wise. Scoop the eggplant out, but be careful to leave enough of a 'wall' so you can stuff it later.
  • Dice the scooped eggplant to small pieces and set aside.
  • Heat a pan with 1 tsp coconut oil and brown the ground turkey. Drain and set aside.
  • Saute onion in coconut oil until translucent.
  • Add the garlic, ginger, allspice, mustard and salt & pepper. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add tomatoes and the scooped, diced eggplant. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.
  • Add the cooked turkey and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
  • Stuff each eggplant halfes with the mixture and sprinkle with the almond flour.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 10 minutes, or until soft and brown at the top. 
Serve with a huge salad like I did, or with some greens (chard or kale)!

March 21, 2010

Stuffed and roasted fennel bulbs

Andrew is putting the pressure on... he keeps bugging me post that recipe for the stuffed and roasted fennel bulbs... so here it is!

What you need (makes 4)
  • 4 large fennel bulbs
  • 2 chicken breasts (~350g), cubed
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
  • 1 medium sized while onion, chopped
  • 6-8 mushrooms, sliced
  • handful of almonds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup water (or white wine, if you have it)
How its done
  • Pre heat oven to 450 degrees
  • Scoop the inside of the fennel bulb (we used the inside for a salad...). be careful not to carve it too much, or it will fall apart.
  • Rub the fennel bulbs with a bit of salt and pepper and place in a roasting dish. Cover and roast for 25 minutes, or until slightly tender.
  • Set aside and decrease the over heat to 425 degrees.
  • While the bulbs are in the over roasting, add the butter to a pan and saute onions till translucent, then add garlic, mushrooms, chicken, tomato, water, honey, nutmeg and lemon juice. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat.
  • Remove the lid, add the cranberried and almonds and simemr uncovered for another 10 minutes.
  • Stuff the fennel bulbs with the mixture and back uncovered for 10-15 minutes, until the bulbs are lightly browned. 
We made a pretty great salad to go with these, with some greens, avocado, goat cheese, the fennel that was carved out of the bulbs and some pepper.

Picture credit to Andrew...

March 17, 2010

Silent auction and casino night for youth development

Triathlon BC is hosting a Silent Auction and Casino night in Victoria on April 24th  in support of youth development.  The event is from 7 pm to 10 pm at the Strawberry Vale Community Hall at 11 High Street, Victoria. Tickets are $20 for adults and $5.00 for kids.  As you might know this is our 2nd annual event and we are anticipating it will be bigger and better than last year.  There will be some great auction items, great fun at the casino tables, good food  and members of the National Development Team will be running the casino tables, which last year proved to be a big hit. In addition Giant has donated this great looking Tri bike for the event, to be auctioned, with minimum bids starting at $750.00. Retail for this bike is around $3,000 !!! 

100% of the proceeds go to youth development in the Province. 

 I have to say, Barb Sharpe is doing such an awesome job supporting the triathlon junior development in BC and our sport certainly need more people like her involved. I donated a couple of gift certificates too, one for a bike fit and the other for race day nutrition assessment and strategies. 

I hope to see LOTS of people there!


March 2, 2010

Some pictures are worth a thousand words...

AKA I am too lazy to write an actual post!

Although we got back just a few days ago (on Sunday), Tucson seems so far away already. Back to the normal grind, and to good coffee! We couldn't find any good coffee shops in Tucson... I drunk more Starbucks coffee than I have in years, and I wasn't very happy about that at all.

Derek, Kamal, Tyler and Matt & Amber all updated their blogs with summaries and pictures (still waiting for Adam to do that too), so I don't really feel the need to post a long summary of my own, other than to say that although the weather didn't really cooperate - it was such an awesome camp! Everyone put in some very solid days and worked pretty darn hard. It was awesome to have a small group of very dedicated athletes train harder than they thought they could... I was proud to see everyone get the work done with no complaining, no shortcuts - just a lot of hard work and a high performance attitude. Well done, boys! Keep it up :-)

Now on to some pictures!
The Oro Valley pool made a mistake. They put the lane ropes the wrong way... Short course yards made our head spin!
Sandario loop. We ended up getting a bit lost and got stuck in the dark. Ooops. It was still a great ride!
This is why trips to the grocery store took way too long...
Ah, Vitamin D!
Um, I don't really know what to say about these ones, other than to point out the obvious: Derek is funny. There is also a video coming, I just need to sort out the music and finish editing it.
I am kind of surprised Tyler and Kamal didn't get kicked out of the pool, in light of this last pool rule...
Epic run at the Catalina State Park, including lots of elevation gain and 4 river crossings. The boys didn't want to get their feet wet, but I couldn't care less and just run right through, getting a head start after every river!
There was SO much snow up Mt. Lemmon! It started at about 11 miles. The boys rode all the way up to the ski hill and Tyler was crowned king of the mountain, except he was too tired to care and talked about himself in the 3rd person for the rest of the day.

February 22, 2010

Sunny (except for today) Tucson

I am in Tucson with Kamal, Tyler, Derek, Adam, Matt & Amber for a training camp. The flight was OK, and so was the drive from Phoenix to Tucson, until Adam and I got kind of lost looking for a Trader Joe's... Good thing we wrote down the instruction to get to the house because my phone (with the GPS) died and we didn't have a map.

The training camp started yesterday with a good day of training, easing them into it. It has been raining on and off all day today... Lucky for me it started after the swim, so I didn't get totally drenched while standing on pool deck! An easy run followed the swim and they are headed out for another (hard) run very soon. Hopefully the sun will come back out, as we are all in desperate need of some vitamin D.

I forgot to charge my camera before the camp started, so I don't have any pictures of day one. Kamal took a bunch of them though, so I am sure they will make an appearance on his blog at some point (he already uploaded them on facebook!). Here are some pictures from day #2.

Kamal & Derek before this afternoon's run...

25 yard pool... 

February 1, 2010

The barefoot running bandwagon...

If one more person asks me about barefoot running because of all the media attention the topic received lately, I am going to throw a tantrum. I am absolutely serious. Its not ground breaking news people... and I'm getting a bit sick of hearing about it like its a new concept. 

We started running barefoot on sand dunes when I was 14. That was 14 years ago... and I suspect that wasn't a new thing at all back then either. The main reason was for strength development. To a bunch of 14-16 year old kids, the barefoot part was because it was more fun... It was all about having fun and running fast!

I think that too many people run in shoes that have excessive support. I think most people have allowed their feet to become weak and lazy. I think a lot of people have pretty bad posture when they run. Does all of this point towards running barefoot? Not necessarily... There are many pieces to this puzzle and you need to look at the whole picture and consider individual variability/circumstances before you jump on the barefoot running bandwagon because of some recent media hype and a recently published book (which is, I would admit, a well written one... something that may add to the danger of everyone jumping into something they may or may not be able to handle).

There are so many factors that come into play... you can't read an article as take it as is. Be critical. Think. Ask for help. I didn't think I would have to say this again so soon, but here goes: IT DEPENDS...

January 26, 2010

The bad, the good and the great

Think back, reflect on the best teachers or coaches you ever had. Chances are, it wasn't what they taught you that made you love learning from them... It was likely their personality, unique way of delivering information, ability to lite a fire in your belly and make you work harder than you ever though possible.

I had many coaches between the ages of 5 and 22. Some were bad, some were good, and a few were great.

The Bad
Lets start with the bad coaches. They didn't necessarily write a bad training program and it wasn't their inability to deliver a training session. In general, what made them bad coaches was their lack of passion and dedication. It was all about ego, all about them, and not about developing great athletes.

The Good
The good coaches were kind of in between. They wrote a good program, had a lot of experience and knowledge, they cared about the team and loved coaching. But something was missing. It seemed like they facilitated an environment that catered for mediocre results. It was OK if someone didn't show up for a training session, it was just fine if athletes were always late, and the athletes never got to have any input in the general program, races or training sessions. There was no commitment, no connection, no high performance attitude. It may work for some, which is why I classified them under the good, not bad category. It didn't work for me though, as I was seeking greatness.

The great
I had a handful of great coaches while I was racing, but there is one that made the most impact. When I was 18, a running coach told I can keep doing what I was doing and be a good runner, or I can make some changes and become a significantly better runner. I didn't really think twice - I jumped with both feet into a training program that completely took me out of my comfort zone... and it payed off.

That coach had this amazing ability to get the most out of me. He gave me feedback without sugar coating anything and without BS. He was passionate about running, coaching, going faster, and he was tough: It was either GO time, or GO HOME time. He didn't only make me a better and faster runner, he continuously made me step out my comfort zone, he innovated and he engaged me in the process, which is something that made a world of difference. He had a 'go out there and WIN' mentality that I loved, and I ran faster and faster as a result.

Now, go back to the top of this post and read the first paragraph again. If you are an athlete, what kind of coach are you looking for? Obviously, a coach that I classified as bad or good may be classified as a great coach by another athlete! If you are a coach, what kind of attitude do you have towards coaching?

One thing to remember though, is that there are no right or wrong answers here. For example, the coach I classified as great, had the same attitude towards training and racing as me, which is why it worked, but I am pretty sure he would have scared away a beginner runner and they would have classified him differently than I have...

Take home message here? If you’re an athlete looking for a coach, do your homework to find the right coach for you. Ask a prospective coach the right questions and find the right coaching fit. The same thing applied if you're a coach!

January 21, 2010

Coconut/banana cookies

These little cookies are grain & gluten free, but so good! The recipe that follows is my second try at making these. The first try tasted great, but the texture wasn't right... so I went back to the drawing board, added a few things and viola! A significant improvement! Try them and let me know what you think :)

What you need
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tbsp almond flour
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed 
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp non sweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp hemp hearts
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut, for rolling
How to
  • Pre heat oven to 375 degrees
  • Combine wet ingredients well and add to the dry ingredients. Mix well
  • Create little balls with the dough and roll in the shredded coconut
  • Place on a cookie sheet and flatten with your fingertips
  • Bake for ~10-12 minutes
Mine looked like this:

Back on the bike!

I took a Stevens cross bike for a test ride today. I decided it would be a great idea to try out a cross bike while coaching the boys (Leif, Kamal, Derek & Nick).

It was awesome!

I haven't been riding much (OK, at all) for a few months because I was trying to pick up my running miles, but last week I jumped back on my trusty Scott for a very short ride. It felt awful! I felt uncoordinated and just couldn't get comfortable. It felt like it has been too long since I rode my bike: kind of a wake up call! I really love riding bikes, so I decided that I need to find the balance between achieving my running goals and my love to anything with 2 wheels and no engine.

On Tuesday morning, I headed to Horus Bikes in Vic West with Leif as they will be helping him out with a bike, and there it was. A beautiful Stevens cross bike (you may have seen Katie Compton ride one of those), their top of the line model... all shiny and pretty... in my size too! You can't go wrong with German engineering, right? So I took it for a spin today and rode some of the Mt Doug trails with the boys, while they were warming up and cooling down. It was so responsive! It did everything I wanted it to do and since I haven't done cross riding or mountain biking for a few years, its not my technical skills, its definitely the bike! I will take it for another spin tomorrow and then take it back... :( I really want to get it, but my bank account might not be able to handle that one right now!

A recipe for gluten free/grain free coconut cookies coming in the next post...


January 13, 2010

Questions, questions, questions...

Every now and then I get a random email from someone I don't know very well asking training related questions, or get asked questions when I run into people at a race, at the clinic during a bike fit, etc... The questions are typically along the lines of 'what should I focus on leading up to my Ironman race?' or 'how many hours a week should I run?' and 'what intensity should I train at?'. My answer is typically 'I don't know', solely because I don't have all the information I need about the person.

I have said it before, and will say it again, this time in bold & capital letters:


Obviously, some principles remain the same. The human body adapts to stress in a similar way, you are not as unique as you may think you are... In saying that: the other stresses in your life may not be the same as your friends/training buddies.

Someone who does not work and has all the time in the world to train & recover from workouts will get a different answer than someone who has to juggle work, family and other commitments. Than there is age, goals, schedule, family, priorities, training & racing history, health issues, etc...

All these factors are things I need to know before giving you an answer. I don't like making assumptions and you don't want to get an answer based on assumptions (Oops, this is an assumption too. Maybe you do want to get an answer based on assumptions? If that is the case, post your question on a chatline/forum instead of emailing me...).

I have written a couple of similar posts before, here and here, and something tells me this is not the last post on this topic... I don't do anything generic, not training plans and not answers to questions. I will, however, answer your questions if you answer mine first :)


January 4, 2010

Update & running training camp!

It has been almost a week since I posted my Do-Not-Do-List for 2010, and so far I have made some progress. For example, instead of checking my email every 5 seconds, I have managed to reduce the frequency to only every 10 seconds. Progress, even small, is a good thing, right? and old habits seem to die hard. I calculated that if I reduce the frequency by 5 seconds a week, I might check my emails at a 'normal' frequency by the end of the decade. Hmmm... Haha.

I will also resume the work on the new & improved website this week. I contacted the company that started the work last fall and we will pick thing off where we left them. I'm pretty excited about it!

As for everything else? Its in the works...

If you have set some running related goals for the new year, we have the camp to get you jump started! Scott Simpson and I are running a technique focus running camp in two weeks. For more information, either email me or go here! It will be a great camp!