Week 33: Smitten with the Mitten

Routine when people ask "where are you from?"
Routine when people ask “where are you from?”

This past weekend I traveled back to my hometown in Grosse Pointe, Michigan (“the mitten“) to celebrate both my mom’s birthday and one of my best friend’s wedding. In the past when I went home to visit I would naturally default to my 16-year-old self: sleeping in, staying up late, watching The Price is Right, eating vegetarian junk food, spending quality time on the couch, complaining about my 3 mile bike commute to my summer job, eating ice cream with gummy bears in “The Village“, but maybe playing some tennis or going for a quick jog. This time was different. My 16 year-old self and my 28 year-old self differ tremendously: I’m now in peak Ironman training living a healthy plant-based lifestyle. Uhm, crazy!! My 16 year old self wouldn’t even recognize this person! So there was little room this weekend for reverting to old habits. I started the weekend with a rough plan, I stuck with it, and I’m really happy with how it all shook out. I had an absolute blast seeing great friends and family while also sneaking in some meaningful training (26 total running miles + swimming) and eating some amazing food!!

Hometown running along Lake St. Clair.
Hometown running along Lake St. Clair.

18 Mile Run

My training calendar showed an 18 mile run for the weekend, so I first figured out where in Grosse Pointe I could run to get that distance in. Thanks to Strava Route Builder I found out it’s the equivalent of running from Detroit to St. Clair Shores and back.

I’ll never forget when I was in late high school/early college when I tried the ENTIRE summer to run from my house to the GPYC and back (a whopping 6 miles). I couldn’t do it. It’s funny looking back on those moments. It’s not that I was out of shape (I was a tennis player) it’s just that I had never run long distances before!

The only issue with the loop that I mapped out was that Lakeshore doesn’t have any bathrooms or places to refill water. So my brother had the idea to do out-and-back loops from our house so we could stop if needed. Great plan. We ended up running to the GPYC and back 3 times. It’s a gorgeous run along the lake with lots of flowers, green grass, and beautiful homes lining the waterfront. I’m glad we chose to stick close to home because I definitely needed to refill my water bottle a lot (I was drinking Skratch Labs and eating Shot Bloks).

We did the run at an easy conversational marathon pace (~9:15-9:30 minutes per mile). This was a great way to keep our pace in check and also get caught up! My brother lives in Chicago so we don’t get to see each other very often. He’s training for his first triathlon this weekend and also the Detroit Marathon. Woohoo!

In general the run felt great! I was happy, didn’t have any aches, and just kept going at a constant pace. I got a couple side stitch cramps but they went away after a minute of walking and some water.

Then it was off to brunch for my mom’s b-day, shopping, and a wedding!

Running with my brother along Lakeshore
Running with my brother along Lakeshore

mitten_home

Strava Run splits + map
Strava Run splits + map

Sink or Swim

Friday I did a 50 minute swim followed by a 4.4 mile run. For the swim I went to our local park where I used to do synchronized swimming with my friends (never to swim laps!) and lay out on the pier. It was a hot and sunny day so the pool felt great! My dad used to refer to synchronized swimming as “sink or swim”… you didn’t want to sink!

Swimming laps at the local pool on a hot, summer day!
Swimming laps at the local pool on a hot, summer day!

Later in the afternoon I sat at the ledge of the lake and looked out to Canada and watched the sailboats go by. It’s the first time I ever thought to myself “I really want to swim in this lake!!” Growing up I thought it was nasty but after swimming in Aquatic Park and other places, I’m pretty immune to any open water condition. Look how clear it looks!

Relaxing at the lake. I want to jump in!
Relaxing at the lake. I want to jump in!

After the swim I just did a quick shake-out run around my hometown; nothing too strenuous as I knew I had an 18 miler the next day. On Sunday I did another 4 mile run and noticed my hamstrings were pretty tight, but still got it done! Great weekend all around!!!

Travel Tips for Triathletes

Here are a few things I learned while traveling and sticking to a triathlon training plan:

  • Accept the fact that your routine is going to be disrupted.
    • You’ll probably be jet-lagged and waking up at weird hours (OMG It’s 3:00am “my time”!!), you’ll probably have to come up with a new running or biking route, and you’ll have to experience new terrain and new sights. This can be very uncomfortable for some people. Just embrace it and know that everything is going to be different but it’ll all work out with a little planning.
    • Use Strava or MapMyRun to map out a route and do some research on local pools or spin classes
    • See if you can rent or borrow a bike from a local shop or a friend
    • If you roll with it and embrace the challenge you’ll be just fine!
  • Wear compression socks or calf sleeves on the plane — actually, everyone should probably do this even if you’re not in triathlon training! It’ll help with blood flow.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Always have a water bottle with you, especially if you’re going someplace hot and humid! Traveling can be very dehydrating.
  • Travel is not an excuse to get drunk every night and eat junk food. Plan ahead with healthy portable snacks for the plane like Larabars, raw almonds, and bananas. And if you’re going out with friends and have a big training day the next morning, have a drink then switch to sparkling water with lemon. You’ll have just as much fun, nobody will notice, you’ll be able to drive home safely, and you won’t be hungover the next day. Win-win-win.
  • Find a local running group and join them! Or find a really awesome friend/sibling/buddy who’s training for something equally as insane (thanks Michael!)
  • Use this travel time as an opportunity to see a new city, or see new nooks and crannies of a familiar place. See the positive in the situation.
  • If you can’t get a full night sleep because of jet-lag, make sure to take a nap so you’re ready to go for your next training session.

Vegan in Detroit — Easy!

You would think that it would be hard to be vegan in Detroit, right? So wrong! Here’s a sample of what I ate over the weekend:

  • When I arrived on Thursday night, groggy from a long day of travel and screaming babies on my flight, I was so happy to see 2 slices of cheeseless veggie pizza from Farm’s Market, a kidney bean/quinoa/veggie side dish, fresh fruit, and a green salad awaiting me. WOW that was perfect. Thanks Mom.
  • Our fridge was stocked all weekend with endless hummus and tabouli from Steve’s Backroom (SO GOOD), whole wheat pita bread, tons of fruit and veggies (watermelon was my favorite on a hot Michigan day), soy milk, almond butter, kale salad, potatoes, peanuts, and quinoa. All are cheap staples that can be found anywhere. Have I mentioned before that it’s really not that hard to be vegan??!
  • On Friday I met some college friends for dinner in Detroit at Craft Work and had roasted chick peas, and a hearty cauliflower/beet/lentil dish that was to die for. It was so filling and flavorful with a great spices! They also labeled the menu with “V”‘s so I didn’t have to guess what was vegan!
  • On Saturday after my run I went to my favorite sandwich spot: Lunchbox Deli. They have an entire veggie menu! And any of the meat dishes can be made vegetarian by substituting tofu for the meat. I went with the Mr. T veggie, no cheese, add jalapenos. Delish!!
  • The ultimate vegan experience of the weekend was on Sunday late afternoon at Detroit Vegan Soul. O..m..g… get there NOW. It’s healthy comfort soul food, 100% vegan, no hydrogenated oils, natural sweeteners, organic, local. I ordered a whole bunch of stuff and my family and I just did a little taste test of everything. I highly recommend the BBQ Tofu, the collared greens, maple glazed yams, and cornbread muffins. My mouth is watering just thinking back at all of the delicious food.
  • Other plant-based eats: Seva in Detroit, Eastern Market (the largest historic public market district in the United States!!), even my childhood favorite TCBY has recently added almond yogurt from the brand Silk. When I went over the weekend I was pleasantly surprised to know it was SOLD OUT! People are choosing non-dairy alternatives and that’s a great step!
  • Finally, I couldn’t believe it, but I actually saw a “Go Vegan” billboard on I-94 heading towards the airport in Detroit. Unreal. I forgot for a second that I wasn’t in San Francisco! It’s from Joel Kahn, a well-known vegan cardiologist; learn more about him on the Rich Roll podcast episode #44.
Detroit Vegan Soul, comfort food with a healthy twist!
Detroit Vegan Soul, comfort food with a healthy twist!
Kahn-Billboard
Billboard I saw on the freeway in Detroit

This Week’s Training Log

  • 17th. Run 4.1 mile run. 8:51/mile
  • 16th. Run. Long 18 mile run in Michigan. 9:26/mile.
  • 15th. Run. 40 minute, 4.4 miler in Michigan. 9:11/mile.
  • 15th. Swim. Morning 50 minute swim with continuous set.
  • 14th. Bike. M2 class. 22 miles.
  • 13th. Run. Morning 5.1 mile run. 8:13/mile.
  • 12th. Bike. Indoor recovery spin (45 mins) + treadmill (15 mins) + core.

Thanks Everyone. Swim. Bike. Run. Eat Plants.

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One thought on “Week 33: Smitten with the Mitten

  1. Are you SURE travel isn’t an excuse to get drunk every night and eat junk food? 😉 Kidding!!

    Glad you fit in some high-quality workouts! It’s so funny to frequent places you used to view through the eyes of your younger self. Perspective can really change!

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