The Lightweight Eats

Have you noticed that I've been writing more and more about exercise, and less about food and cooking? Yea, me too.

Do you get tired of typing in the .blogspot.com every time you visit my blog? Yea, me too.

Is Piquant Prose a bit non-descript? Yea, probably.

Fortunately, I'm a woman that believes in solutions, not problems.

Check it out:

To read more about why I made the switch, check out this post.

From now on, I'll be posting exclusively on lightweighteats.com, so make sure to update your bookmarks!

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or emailing me at piquantprose [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Date Night!

To finish off the first weekend of our honeymoon, Dan and I headed out to our local movie theater for $5 Sunday movies.

We both got all dressed up, because how else could you possible enjoy a $5 movie?

Yes, he does wear this exact outfit to work.

I definitely don't wear this to work.

We saw the new Bourne movie. It was certainly entertaining, but some of the camera work was a little sickening (we had to sit pretty close to the screen) and it left a lot of unanswered questions. Personally, I think movies should be able to stand on their own, even if there is a sequel planned. This movie really didn't--it was basically a set up for the next movie. Disappointing.

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or emailing me at piquantprose [at] gmail [dot] com.

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A Weekend in San Francisco

Warning: Our weekend was almost entirely technology free, so no pictures.

Dan and I got married in January, but because of work commitments were unable to take our honeymoon. Since I have four weeks off of training, and Dan has vacation time to use, we decided to take a honeymoon of sorts this month.

Instead of a traditional one-week vacation, we are taking multiple mini-vacations in the area. First stop: San Francisco!

Dan took Friday off of work and we headed in to the city for some touristy fun. We had a hotel near Union Square and spent most of our time in the downtown area on Friday. I only brought shorts and a thin jacket, so we spent at least an hour trying to locate some acceptable pants--it was very cold in the city!

Friday night, typical of my luck, I had a hankering for ramen and we happened upon a ramen shop mere blocks from our hotel! It wasn't the most incredible ramen I've had, but it hit the spot and warmed us up nicely.

Saturday, we enjoyed breakfast buffet at the hotel, before trekking up and over some of San Francisco's hills to Fisherman's Wharf. We considered taking the cable cars, but the 200+ person line changed our mind.

Instead, we burned some calories before heading out to lunch at Greens, an all-vegetarian restaurant serving primarily local and organic food. Dan had a southwestern style omelet, with chili, potatoes and some spices. I had polenta topped with wild mushrooms, peas and poached eggs. Delicious!

For dessert, Dan and I split a mocha and a few slices of banana bread, topped with cinnamon vanilla butter. They considered it a breakfast pastries: we thought it was decadent enough for dessert. Still, the food was decadent and delicious and made no apologies for the lack of meat.

We had considered an ice cream sundae at Ghirardelli square, but after lunch found any more eating completely unnecessary. Instead, we trudged back over the hill and found some place to sit and rest our feet. People watching in San Francisco is a treat.

For dinner, Dan and I grabbed some salad and met up for a double date! We sat in Union Square enjoying good company and good food until the setting sun caused us to shiver our way home.

Since I haven't had a weekend at home for awhile, Dan and I are spending Sunday back in our apartment catching up on life.

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or emailing me at piquantprose [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Off-Season Training Begins

After a long set of travels home, and most of yesterday off from exercise, it's time to get started with off-season training!

Between now and mid-September, the California Rowing Club has scheduled down time, where we can let our bodies and minds recover from the season. Of course, racing in Canada got me super pumped for training again--great timing.

To kick things off, I started with a nice hour-long swim in my grandparents pool this morning. I didn't used to be a huge fan of swimming, but a good suit, goggles that fit and a swim cap really help. The hour went by pretty fast, and I feel like I got a pretty decent workout in.

Post-Swimming: You can almost see the goggle marks.

After swimming and a quick shower, I headed to lunch with Dan. I was a bit early, so I got a chance to work on a book in the park near his office while I was waiting.

Enjoying summer weather in the park.

We went out to HRD, a super popular Korean-American diner. Since we were on the early end of lunch, the line had fewer than 40 people in it. We both got bibimbap. It was pretty good, but the stuff we had at the Korean place near my parents house was really much better. The vegetarian options were also pretty lacking.

This afternoon, if Dan makes it home from work on time, we're probably going to head in to the gym to do some weight lifting. The off-season is a great time to add muscle, because I don't have to weigh in. To gain muscles, you have to gain some weight, a rare luxury in the world of lightweight rowing.

Tomorrow, rowing and running with friends! Very excited!

In other news, expect a major blog update pretty soon. It's been in the works for a few months, but I think I'm almost ready for the big reveal.

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or emailing me at piquantprose [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Final Day of Racing!

Sunday morning, after our practice, we ate and headed back to the course for some racing. After meeting with our coach briefly, we headed out about 30 minutes prior to our race to warm up.

Nothing dramatic happened whatsoever. We locked on to the starting dock, all the crews were ready to go, and the race started on time. Our goal for the first half of the race was to find our rhythm and to establish ourselves with the leading crews.

Lane 7, to our left dropped off quickly in the first 500 meters ( although managed to hang on decently through the rest of the 2000m). Our biggest competitors were to our right, in lanes 2 and 4. While we kept our eye on them, most of our focus was internal--if we rowed well and applied our power together, we knew we had what it took to stick with the field.

By the halfway point, we were up by over a length on the field. We took 20 strokes to defiantly open the margin, and successfully put ourselves in a dominant position. While we had used a lot of our energy in the first 1000m, we knew we could at least hang on. We kept on eye on our margins, and focused on keeping ourselves calm and together.

The margin opened slightly more in the last 500m, but our lack of sprint told how tired we were at that point. We won the race by almost 7.5 seconds, also helping clinch the team efficiency trophy in the process (calculated on percentage of races won).

Not quite an Olympic medal, but I'll take it!

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or emailing me at piquantprose [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Catching up on Sleep

On a normal day of practice, I row between 20 and 35 kilometers, bike 15 miles, and occasionally lift weights, plus countless miles of walking. Friday, I rowed 5k, plus maybe 3 miles of walking. That night, as I tried to fall asleep, my whole body was shaking and quivering with its extra energy. It's a good thing I practice 10-12 times a week! It took me almost 4 hours to fall asleep, including almost an hour of stretching.

Although I was tired on Saturday, I avoided napping. Instead, I headed down to the course for an hour long steady state row (easy-medium effort level), and spent the afternoon watching my teammates race.

Unexpectedly, my 4pm snack of triscuits and toast with jam became dinner when I fell asleep at 6pm. Normally, this is a really bad idea, because I wake up at 10 pm bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready for breakfast. This time though, I managed to keep my eyes shut until the 6AM sunshine woke me up.

This morning, we headed down to the course to row our quad once more before our early afternoon race. The practice helped get some of my jitters out, and helped my body feel more normal after lots of sleep and lots of rest. Hopefully my nerves stay calm until our race ends--I will be focusing intently on steering straight and rowing well to keep my mind off of our opponents.

Updates to follow shortly! Less than 2 hours until race time!

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or emailing me at piquantprose [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Racing: Day Three

Today was much less eventful than previous days. With no weigh in, I ate breakfast and headed down to the course for my first and only race of the day. Three other girls and I raced in the senior women's quad--four rowers, eight oars--in a heat with top three advancing to the final.

We placed second in a relatively conservative race. The final will be held on Sunday.

After that race, I was done for the day. I headed back to my host family's house for a shower before adventuring through town.

In the afternoon, I headed back to the course to see my teammates race in a variety of events: the under 23 mens four, the senior men's four (with a first place finish and a trophy!), the championship eight (the most prestigious category), the women's double (congrats on making the final!) and the women's pair (with a second place finish in the final).

It was fun to see so much success from my teammates. I look forward to sharing in their successes in the future, as I get faster.

Tomorrow, I have the day off of racing. I'm planning to go row my single on the practice course so my body doesn't get too stiff. I also look forward to watching a few more races.

Next race: 1pm local time on Sunday

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or emailing me at piquantprose [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Racing: Day Two

Once again, I woke up early and headed over to the course to weigh in. While I had to sort out some details regarding lanes and semifinal assignment, I eventually got word that I would be racing in the first of two semifinals.

Clearly, the stress of the previous day had taken its toll on my body. I weighed in at 57.8 kg (127.4lbs), a full pound lighter than yesterday and the lightest I've weighed in since high school (which was only from extreme dehydration).  Took it upon myself to have a giant breakfast after weigh in: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, half an apple (bees were very interested in the other half), a bowl of yogurt with granola and a banana, and a large muffin. I washed it all down with a healthy dose of water.

The remnants of breakfast:

Lunch involved a large salad, with beans, corn, cucumber, homegrown tomatoes, and lettuce. I had had triscuits and toast with butter, plus lots of trail mix. (I love Trader Joes trail mix, which is precisely why I only buy it on rare occasions when I think I'm going to need some comfort food.)

After lunch, I headed over to the race course. It's much cooler today than yesterday,with intermittent showers. I did some calisthenics to warm up and, after discussing strategy with my coach, headed to launch my boat. This time, I remembered my hat, but forgot my socks. My feet are pretty blistered from walking in the heat and rowing sock-less, but I survived.

Lots of scrapes, at least for a non-runner:

My race went pretty well. I didn't make the final, and placed 6th of 7, but I felt like I deserved to compete in the race: I was very close to 4th and 5th, who had made it to the semifinal on more than just dumb luck. I have a lot to work on, but a lot of time to make improvements. This race gave me a good idea of what I need to work on.

I'm now done weighing in for several months, so I can eat just about anything. Unfortunately, I'm stuffed from all my eating this morning! I'm also used to how good my body feels when I fuel it properly, and I'm not sure I'm ready to give that up just yet.

I did walk in to town and got a donut at the local Tim Horton's, but it didn't even come close to the donuts of my childhood. I was also craving salty more than sweet, but didn't feel like committing to sitting and eating French fries, especially with the looming rain clouds.

Tomorrow morning, I race in the open weight women's quad, in which I am the smallest rower by 3.5 inches and 35 pounds. It should be a fun race, and I'm looking forward to the experience. Hopefully we qualify for the Sunday final!

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or emailing me at piquantprose [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Bruises Galore

One of the disadvantages of rowing the single versus a multi-person boat is being solely responsible for carrying your equipment around. While we usually make it look easy, singles weigh 30 pounds and have plenty of sharp edges. They also are long, awkward and tend to blow around in the wind.

As if that wasn't bad enough, there are also oars to consider. Carrying a boat in one arm and two oars in the other is exhausting, and it took its toll on my body today.

This sweet bruise is one of three--the others are on my shoulders. I'm hoping that tomorrow involves significantly less holding and carrying of boats so my body can recover. At the very least, all that lifting should help make my "tiny muscles" (direct quote from my coach) a little bit bigger.

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or emailing me at piquantprose [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Race Day!

Warning: very long day = very long post.

Last night, my nerves got the best of me, and I had a lot of trouble falling asleep. At 5:15 AM, when my alarm beeped my awake, I was tired, but feeling ready to go. At 5:45, I headed over to the race course and found a test scale. At 58.5kg, half a kilo under the weight limit, I changed into my unisuit and headed to the official weigh in scales.

Got my unisuit yesterday!
It was all very anticlimactic. In my unisuit, I handed the officials my ID, let them know my race time,  stepped on the scale and seconds later had a thumbs up. They noted my accepted weight in their race schedule and stamped my arm.

I enjoyed a quick breakfast with some other post weigh in lightweight girls, off to race the women's pair. After eating, I headed to my boat, and went out in the water for the first row in  my boat. It was a bit crowded, but calm conditions and good traffic control made the row a good start in the new boat.

Each boat and set of oars have slightly different properties--different lengths in the water, blade sizes, stiffness, weight distribution and more. While the boats all have similarities as well, it does take some time to get used to a new boat. The boat's reaction when you put your blades in the water is very different, and can be a very stressful moment if you don't know when to expect when you apply pressure.

After months in a boat that was a size or two too big for me, the biggest thing I notice is how small everything feels. From the shoes to the width of the boat, it all makes me feel just a little bit bigger--good in a sport where size is an advantage and half of the game is mental.

I spent the morning resting and refueling, although I probably did a bit too much walking around. I went down to the course early to get in a longer warmup in a separate practice area. My race was schedule for 1:24pm, and they called us to the dock to launch 30 minutes before the race. Normally, crews spend upwards of an hour on the race course before the race begins. Launching the boat, warming up and arriving at the start 5-10 minutes prior to the race all take time.

Nonetheless, I made it through my warmup and was waiting at the starting area just after 1:15pm. I watched the umpires line up the boats and send off the first heat in my event at 1:18pm. The races being on six minute center, this was perfectly on time, except for one detail: I was in the first heat! They sent my race off six minutes early without me, and with no announcements calling me into place.

It was incredibly embarrassing, and stressful. I immediately approached an umpire and informed her of the error. They attempted to contact the chief referee while I watched the second and third heats line up and start their races.

While I should have known that I was in the first heat and therefore should have been lining up, it was ultimately the responsibility of the officials to make sure they didn't start a race early without a rower present. As the fourth and final heat sat ready to race, I was ready to accept my fate and row home.

However, lady luck had different plans for me. Just as the officials began to poll the crews, part of the starting commands, safety launches came speeding in calling for all crews to clear the water. Thunder and lightning had moved in with the intermittent rain, and for safety reasons all racing was delayed an hour, until the weather cleared.

Two things happened during this hour long delay. First, the chief referee had an opportunity to hear my protest and make a decision. I was to row in the fourth heat, which had yet to race, but my time would be counted in the first heat, in which I was scheduled to race.

Second, the wind changed from a headwind, which causes slower times, to a reasonably stiff tail wind. This pushed my times nearly a minute faster than the girls in my heat. I expect to race in the semifinals tomorrow, although I'm still waiting on official word tonight. I'm not sure whether I deserve to race in the semifinal, but I do know I'm going to give it my best shot tomorrow, and hope I come away with a great race under my belt.

Overall, it was an emotionally draining day. Between nerves, embarrassment, anger and stress, I am completely wiped. I think I will more than make up for last nights lack of sleep tonight.

Wish me equal parts luck and skill tomorrow. I never thought I'd be hoping for another weigh in.

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or emailing me at piquantprose [at] gmail [dot] com.

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St. Catharine's

After too much traveling, we arrived in St. Catharine's, the home of the Canadian Henley, mid-afternoon yesterday. The climate is a big change from temperate California. We spent most of the day at the course, rigging boats and staying in the shade.

I'm borrowing a boat from a local club, and didn't have access to it yesterday, so I really didn't exercise much. After less than 3 hours of sleep and a lackluster lunch (a protein bar, almonds and fruit), I didn't mind the break.

Three of us are staying at a host family less than a mile from the race course. Luckily for me, one of the family members is vegetarian, so I enjoyed a vegetarian hot dog on toast with a side salad for dinner last night. It was great to eat normal food after a long trip.

This morning, I headed back to the course and found and rigged my boat. I'll be rowing a pink boat in my single races!! It's also, fortunately, a model of boat I've rowed in before--the club I coached at last year had an identical boat that I used several times and really enjoyed rowing. Afterwards, I found a scale.

The regatta has very strict weigh in procedures. Lightweights are only allowed to step on the official scale once on the day of their weigh in. If you are not at or under the target weight, you are disqualified from the regatta. There is no test scale; the official scale is only open from 2-4 pm for practice.

A lot of clubs at the regatta have scales for their lightweights and I found one to test my weight. Over a half pound under the limit, with minimal breakfast in my system, my level of concern dropped significantly. After real breakfast, grocery shopping and lunch, I'm feeling fueled and ready to race.

This afternoon, I will go for a short row in my boat to make sure it's rigged comfortably. Afterwards, it's rest, a small dinner, and getting ready to weigh in and race tomorrow!

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or emailing me at piquantprose [at] gmail [dot] com.

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The last month has been filled with reading. I have devoured several books, mostly nonfiction, and haved queued several more for reading. I've also been taking advantage of the free book samples for Kindles, and reading tidbits about all sorts of interesting topics.

While I hope to share some of my learnings with you, for now we'll focus on the present. I've now been training for three months at the California Rowing Club and it's time to make my racing debut. I'm currently en route to a new country, Canada, to compete at Canadian Henley, one of the major summer races.
At JFK waiting for my 2nd flight.

While I've competed previously as a lightweight, this experience will be totally new for me. In collegiate racing, weigh ins are completed the afternoon before racing, giving you 15-20 hours to recover.

Much like wrestling, a lot of lightweight rowers sweat out some water weight in order to make the 130 pound weight limit. Generally, this amount is restricted to a few pounds because of the adverse affects on performance. Still, losing even a pound of water can affect your racing performance.

At Canadian Henley, as with most international racing, weigh ins are completed the day of the race. While this is a fairer approach, and perhaps safer (it discourages significant water loss), it can also be more stressful. If your weight fluctuates unexpectedly, e.g. due to travel, you no longer have the safety margin of a night's sleep.

In addition to day of weigh ins, I will also be weighing in multiple days. In college, our races were all single day affairs and only required one weigh in. Provided I progress from the heats to the semifinals and then finals, this race will span three consecutive days. This forces me to recover from weigh ins with strong awareness of the following days.

To help, I've taken some steps to ensure smooth weigh in the first day, so the second and third (*fingers crossed*) days go well:
- Hydrated like crazy on the plane, as well as before and after departure. I brought two water bottles and filled them both before getting on the plane. While it might seem counterintuitive to drink water when you might have to sweat it out two days later, it really helps keep your body functioning normally.

- Kept my weight below the 130 pound mark. Although my weight fluctuates some on a weekly and much on a monthly basis, I paid special attention in the weeks leading up to my departure. By hitting the 129 marker, my concern is on keeping my body functioning normally, not trying to lose weight while traveling.
- Brought normal food. I tend to eat really poorly when I travel, especially since JetBlue has free snacks. This time, I brought roasted sweet potato, grape tomatoes, apples, nectarines, almonds, rice cakes, and a protein bar. These are all foods I eat regularly, and they are helping my body feel more normal. I'm limiting my indulgences to one package of cookies and some orange juice on the flight.

I've also heard that compression socks can help with swelling and fluid retention in long flights. When I find the $60 to drop for a pair, I might experiment. In the meantime, I will stick with the recommendation to get up and walk around--easy to remember when you've had two liters of water and some orange juice!!!

What do you do to feel normal when you're traveling? Any recommendations?

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or emailing me at piquantprose [at] gmail [dot] com.

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