Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Motivation/ Mid- week check in

37 Days....

I needed some major motivation today. As I was looking over the course maps, my training schedule and what is coming up... I started freaking out... to say the least.

You would think knowing that there was 1.2 miles to swim, 50 some miles of biking uphill and then 13.1 miles to run, that these facts would be enough motivation. By simply knowing I would have to complete those miles, one would think it would be easy to say, ' I better get my butt out there and train.'

Well, no. The process has become grueling and tiring. My motivation needed a good refresher and I needed a kick in the butt...

These are what got me going: 

Amazing. Inspiring. Ridiculous.

Cheesy, but awesome.

And last.... but certainly not least:
(Alex and Jackson showed me this, this past summer... I cried... obviously... but I re- watched it today for a bit of motivation)

Never Give Up-


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Run, Run, ... Keep Running?


40 Days!!!!

The hardest part about all of this training is definitely doing it through the cold winter days. For 3 main reasons:

  1. As we have discussed before, all of the holidays and events that take place during the winter months make it really difficult.

    2.  In the winter, you are generally more lazy and more prone to eating, drinking and lounging around   
         infront of a fireplace, while watching your favorite movies...

    3.  It is hard to run when it is 20 or 30 degrees out and/ or snowing... impossible to bike when it is this 
         cold and icy... and swimming... the outdoor pools aren't open in the winter and there's no open   
         water swim locations around, therefore you're stuck indoors, going back and forth, back and forth 
         with no fresh air... and well,... you make up some random excuse not to go do this. 

Well, the three of us (My brother, Jackson and I) all said to one another... no more excuses... let's bundle up and get out there!

So, last Saturday... we put on about 5 layers and went out in the suburbs by my parents house to run a 2 hour, hilly... and snowy run. 

After stretching for 30 minutes trying to get psyched up in the living room and pulling ourselves off of the couch, we walked up my parents driveway and the cold hit us like a ton of bricks!

At this point, the conversation was somewhat like this:

Alex, "Oh boy... not in the mood. It is cold!"
Jackson, "Can't we just run up this hill a few times and call it quits?"
Me, "No. Let's go. Get it over with"... 2 minutes later, "Ok, I'm not in the mood for this."

BUT, we continued and climbed up our first hill within the first two minutes... (I got yelled at by the boys for choosing this route)

For some reason, they let me go first... I never really know why, but I charged up the first hill (I regret it a few moments after)... but I looked back and the boys were not looking too pleased with me... or this whole workout.

It was cold to the point where your toes got numb within the first 5 minutes of the run, your leg muscles tightened up simply because the first hill came up so quick we didn't have a good warm up and it was so cold that our legs weren't ready for it... so within the first mile, we were already struggling far more than usual, which was not good for the psyche with an hour and 45 minutes left in the run.

Still continuing on...

The problem is, when we are instructed to do a "hilly run" by my Tri- trainer, choosing the hills around my parents house means they never, ever end.

About 5 hills in, already freezing cold and miserable... my brothers knee (which has been giving him some problems) completely gave out to the point where he couldn't run anymore. Jackson and I stayed behind with him, as we knew it wouldn't be a successful run and didn't want him to walk back alone.

So, we walked back to the house and after about a 30 minute walk we were back... cold and Alex, in pain. We decided to count this as a day off...

I didn't mind stopping. In fact I preferred it. I was tired, cold and was not enthused about the run. I run harder and get more results when I am 'into it'. I was at this point worried about my brother and his knee and not in the mood to continue. 

So, I went out on a nice hour and a half run on Wednesday, instead. A little behind with my running. I have been focusing on my bike and swim, therefore putting running to twice or even once a week. All three of us have come to the conclusion that no matter what, the run will stink at the end of this race... therefore, as long as we keep it on the map each week and are in shape (which we obviously will be), it will be ok. 

I started the run today by leaving my apartment and running down some side streets to make my way down to the Schuylkill River Trail. It is about half a mile from my apartment. 

The plan was to run down to the trail, then hop on Kelly Drive, past the boat houses until I am about 45 minutes out. Then, turn around. I go by time, simply because its less grueling on my mind rather than miles. 

The start of the path was not very welcoming. Cloudy and not as warm as had said it was going to be...

Entrance of Schuylkill River Trail

It was so dreary... hard to run and be motivated. Once again, the winter weather was winning the 'training battle'. Usually there are either other people on the trail to catch up with, or one of the boys with me... today... just me and the road. This time the alone time wasn't as great as when I was biking last week...

Ugh... just started.
The first uphill Grade comes about half mile into the run. It's not huge, something I should totally be able to handle considering: 

1) I run this route all the time
2) I am in training for a 70.3... * come on, Ali... stop complaining! (Yes, I talk to myself) *

At this point, I was warming up, running up the hill at about a 9 minute mile pace. I usually like to pick it up after Water Works when I hit Boathouse Row.

So, I get to Waterworks and already want to turn around. I turn up the music and push through it, almost stopping at Jackson's favorite, yet torturous workout spot: the sprinting hill:

That nice path you see above... so pretty right? Maybe for a nice stroll up to the top where there is a Gazebo, to look out on Philly with a nice cup of Joe?... Guess again. Try sprinting up it 10 times, after running 3 miles... nope not done.... in less than 20 seconds. No breaks. 

This workout was inspired by a drill my Tri- trainer told us to do this past summer. Same idea, but hers did not require as steep of a grade. Jackson decided to choose a steeper hill than what was expected of us to do these workouts once every couple of weeks. He drug me along with him once at 6 am in the fall (the same day he got jumped by a fox on the run... not kidding. Serves him right!) Anyways.. now, I try to avoid this workout whenever possible, therefore I ran right by it today with a smile on my face!

I was finally at Boathouse Row. The 3 miles seemed like it was 5 already with the cold weather and running alone. So bored.

I picked up the pace to run approximately an 8 minute mile. I did an 8 minute mile, then backed it down to about a 9 minute mile, then back up to 8 and so on. 

The worst part about running on Kelly Drive is that it is an 'out and back' course. Meaning, you run out... then you run the same way back. Unless, you are doing 'the loop' over The Falls Bridge and back onto West River Drive, but I think that may be worse as West River is made up of mostly just highway and cement. 

The long grueling path, once again I mention alone, with very few people in sight... was terrible. But, I kept going and going and running and running.

From riding, I realized that no matter what, your mind gives up before your body. Riding was a head game. You could be the best horseback rider in the world, but if you psyched yourself out... you would quickly become your own worst enemy. 

I believe this is true for most sports and most things in life. Think positive thoughts, more luck positive things will happen to you. 

I kept the goals of my tri- season in the back of my mind to push me through this boring hour and a half run.
Usually this scenery is peaceful and mind- clearing. I think today, since it was such a 'stay on the couch' type of day outside... I was struggling a bit. Not to mention my hamstrings were as tight as rocks, even after stretching, from my strength training and swimming the day before. 

Eventually, I turned around and it never felt better. After covering some ground, I made it back to Boathouse Row, which without a doubt every time reminds me of my little sister, Gracie's crew races. I used to watch her Row this past Spring, but get there in the early AM with my parents to run and train for the summer tri- season before she would go off in the afternoon.

Then, I picked up the pace even a little more, because once I see the city again... I get a bit antsy to finish the run. If Jackson and Alex are with me, this is usually where they say "slow down!"... or "jeez, someone wants to get home!"

So, I finally made it back. It was a long and boring run. But, once I was finished, I'm glad I did it- as usual. 

It is officially CRUNCH TIME. 

We are almost into March... and in my opinion, no where near ready to run this 70.3. It is time to pick up the pace... get to work and concentrate on our goal that we set for ourselves this past summer: the finish line. 

I have the magazine clipping on my fridge... and have had it since June of this past summer. It helps motivate and also make me laugh in the early mornings when having to work out, or late at night when I'm tired and hungry and just want a big cheeseburger (which is always...)

Wish us luck! More to come!

Never Give Up-


"Training is what you are doing when your opponent is sleeping in." - Brian Owen

Monday, February 13, 2012

Change of plan!

Hi Everyone!

Thank's for being patient!  I want to give you a great update with lots of pictures in regards to my training.  This week, my training schedule has shifted, so a new post will be coming Wednesday instead of tonight!

Stay tuned for a fun post on Wednesday evening!





Sunday, February 12, 2012


Hi everyone!

So, my new years resolution, among others, was to cook ONE NEW PALEO RECIPE a WEEK. This will help me eat healthy and stay on track... while mixing it up a bit and becoming a better cook!

In addition to my cookbook, there are millions of blogs online of people who follow the Paleolithic lifestyle and offer recipes to the public. It is hard to tell which recipes are good and which ones are bad. In addition, some blogs are false in their ingredients' being fully Paleo (for example, some may use olive oil... NOT Paleo...)

Some foods come out tasting like water or cardboard with no flavor, while others taste as if a professional at a 5 star restaraunt cooked it. There is a lot of trial and error involved with the Paleo cooking process.

When I cook something new, I always make sure I have a back up plan just in case... either something else to cook... or a good takeout menu on hand. 

... but when you find a good one... boy is it worth it. 

Here are two I think you all should try (both of which have been voted by both Jackson and I as the BEST ONES YET!)

(No, not like the average ones... this one is better... and I do not know why)

2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 parsnips
3 carrots (I used one large bag of the mini- carrots... you get more veggies and easier prep)
4 celery stocks
1 red onion
10-12 whole garlic cloves
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon rubbed sage
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

  • Cut parsnips, carrots (if you don't have the mini ones), and onion into large chunks... make sure parsnips and carrots are roughly same size for even cooking.
  • Place chicken in crockpot and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper (I also put Garlic powder on there)
  • On top of chicken, layer in onions, garlic cloves, parsnips, carrots and celery.
  • In glass measuring cup, measure chicken broth, then mix in the coconut oil, thyme and sage (melt coconut oil first for better mixing)
  • Pour in the mixture... mix a little bit... 
  • Cook on low for 7 hours... let sit for 1 hour.
My favorite by far!

DELICIOUS and you don't need anything else with it... it is very fulfilling as is!


(serves 4)

2 lbs pork tenderloin
1 egg
1/2 medium onion, chopped ( I love onion so I used one full one)
6 Sun- dried tomatoes, chopped
2 Large artichoke hearts, chopped
1/2 tsp fresh sage, finely chopped
1/8 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp of coconut oil
Sea salt, fresh ground pepper to taste

  • In medium skilled on med-high heat, saute onion, sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts, sage, thyme, nutmeg and garlic with the coconut oil for 3-4 minutes until onions are slightly translucent and the tomatoes and artichokes beging to become tender. Remove from skillet for later use. 
  • Place pork tenderloin in 9 X 13 baking dish. Rub coconut oil all over and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. 
  • To stuff loin, create a seam in the meat by cutting it down center lengthwise. Essentially, you want to unfold the meat.
  • Preheat oven to 450 F
  • Once ingredients in skillet is FULLY COOLED (VERY IMPORTANT!), whisk egg and add into skillet. (MUST BE COOLED OTHERWISE EGG WILL COOK... you are using egg as 'bread crumbs' to stick it all together.. skillet ingredients must be cooled!)
  • take stuffing and spread it across seam of meat. Avoid filling it too much as it will not fold close.
  • Use toothpicks to hold it together.
  • Cook uncovered at 450 for 30 minutes. Once 30 minutes passed, reduce heat to 300 and cook for 20 minutes. Then, turn off oven and let meat remain in there for another 15 minutes, with no temperature setting. (This will prevent meat from overcooking/ drying out!)
I served this with a sweet potato (better for you than regular.. not Paleo, but close...) and string beans marinated with coconut oil and pepper! SO GOOD!


Enjoy and experiment with your spices. IF you don't like one over the other, etc... substitute! It is hard to mess these two up!

I will be posting more either tonight or tomorrow about a long, COLD run we are doing today....


Never Give Up- 


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

When Life Gets In The Way...


1 Month, 24 Days...

Thank you all for being patient with the post of this block. Things have been a bit hectic!!!!! But here it is, more to come!

Things have been becoming difficult: the diet has been lacking, the workouts are getting harder, therefore I'm 'cheating' and not completing the whole distances I am supposed to, or not doing two- a- days at all...

This weekend the plan was to concentrate on training, which I did on Saturday with a long 12 mile run with Jacks, but then after that... What happened? Well, Superbowl happened.

During Superbowl, I tried to watch what I ate, but any 'event' in the Cook household means LOTS of food.

Exhibit A:
Hot Wings....

Exhibit B:

Brushetta... dangerous for me.
Exhibit C:

Mom's awesome Cornbread Pigs in a Blanket.
Although Gluten Free (my little sister, Gracie and my Mom are Gluten Free)...
these are way too good to be on the Paleo diet.

andddd... yet another dangerous food at the table on Sunday...


And lastly.... we were also celebrating my sister-in-law's birthday. Which means, of course.. BAKERY HOUSE CAKE!!!!!!!
I could eat this all day long... 

We all know that I did not miss out on this. My piece was quite large...

With a mini- fork left over from appetizers,
 (the size of a toothpick...)
 thought it would help with portion control...

So, with all of that... the food was still not complete. Mom kept bringing out more courses, but the remainder were a bit healthier.

That morning, I had made Paleo/ Gluten Free "Meatloaf Muffins" with Paleo Guacamole on top of them. These were soooo good. I will put the recipe at the end of this post for you all to enjoy. 

Alex and my older sister Ashley wanted to try them with BBQ Sauce. So, I raided my Mother's pantry and found some Gluten Free (not Paleo, though) BBQ sauce and tried them on the 'second round'. These were a big winner, too.

BBQ Sauce

In addition to those... (nope we aren't done yet)... Mom had put out a delicious veggie platter (no, the dressing was not Paleo... but, I didn't mind- I ate a lot of this!)


and LAST ONE.... and the best of all: MOM'S CHILI!

Healthy, but not Paleo because of the beans...
 (and my toppings)
... but sooo good.
Oh yeah, and the beer... but Mom had Gluten free on hand! I passed on this one though. If I was going to have beer, I was going to go all out.

Mom and her Gluten Free beer!!!!

So, let's just say simply that my diet didn't happen on Sunday. I feel as though I keep getting caught into these family events, special occasion's or holidays and my diet goes down the drain... with my training.

The days seem like weeks and the weeks seem like months in terms of training. The time is dragging, but yet I don't have enough time to do anything and feel completely unprepared when realizing this half Ironman is less than 2 months away!

 I learned a long time ago that life can't always go your way. As I am sure I have mentioned before: I am a planner. I plan everything. The plans I have in terms of training and preparing for this 70.3 have been really difficult to keep on track. I have been doing the workouts for the most part, but I could step it up a notch.

My diet Monday- Friday is good (minus date night with Jackson)... but weekends I slip, which means my energy slips... setting me up for failure in my training come Monday and Tuesday. Everything seems to be getting harder to keep up with. The 5 hours a day of training, plus class, work, plus social life, etc. ... it becomes a bit much and I am beginning to get extremely stressed out.

A warning for whomever reads this...

When life gets in the way of your plans and everything becomes just a bit too overwhelming... what do you do to clear your head?

For as long as I can remember, my go- to "escape" was always riding horses. Not the ordinary lesson or training, but something different... something special. Either a trail ride, a bareback ride or even just hand walking one of the horses in the middle of a pasture. What made this time great was it was an out of the ordinary day, where it was just me, the horse and the dirt or grass beneath us. Those were the best days. Time to think, time to reflect and time to just... be.

I forgot what that feeling felt like for a while. The feeling of complete "blankness"... complete... peace. Until Monday.

I was supposed to go for a 4 hour bike ride on Sunday. I had every intention on doing this, even after the 12 mile run we did on Saturday. Alex was away with Brittany, so Jackson and I were on our own. We packed up the car, bundled up and were all set...

See, we really WERE planning on going...
... but Jacks and I had tire- pump complications (we brought the wrong one)... mixed with being tired and it being bitterly cold outside, we decided not to go back and get the correct tire pump, but instead, change and sit on my parents couch and enjoy the company of friends and family while watching the Superbowl.

So, to make up for Sunday, I hopped on my bike Monday. For the first time in a long time, I was outside on the road and not on the bike trainer in my parents basement. I bundled up... because it was bitterly cold and went to "the path". "The Path" is what we call the Conshocken trail that goes all the way up past Valley Forge, to Pheonixville and goes the other direction all the way to Philadelphia. It is usually a great trip. In the summer it gets a bit crowded, but its a great way to get miles in, as it is a straight shot with no road traffic.

Booties... as the boys say, "a game changer" when it is cold out! A MUST today.
My brother couldn't make the ride with me Monday, he had work, as did Jackson... and my father goes into hibernation in the winter (he is usually always a good riding buddy). So it was just me and "Slice".

At first I was dreading it. Alone for 3-4 hours, cold out, not really in the mood to ride (yes, sometimes I actually am in the mood to ride for this long)... so needless to say I just wanted to get it over with.

The parking lot is closed for train commuters on weekdays, so I had to park on the side of the road, take my bike off and lean it up against my car while I got ready. This is when I wish the boys or my father was here... they would have helped me out a bit with the parking situation by just simply getting a 20 dollar ticket for parking illegally. After all, a ride was worth it.

.... and then I tried to set up my bike computer on my bike to track the mileage and time. Of course, since I changed out my wheels from my race wheels to practice wheels, the computer wasn't working. So, I went to the next step in tracking my (approximate) distance and time: MapMyRide application on my iPhone.

Now, this isn't completely accurate, but it will do. I know the approximate mileage from doing this ride so many times in the past, so just for rough estimations I set it up on my phone and let it run while I was riding. It tracks where you are via GPS, how fast you are going (not accurate at all) and the distance you went.

So even though I was dreading it, once I got going... it was actually an amazing ride. I got out there and it was like old times. Peaceful... time to think... time to reflect. Just me and the road. (Literally, because it was so cold, in the 35 miles I was out there, I didn't see any more than 5 walkers and 2 other bikers, when usually you have to dodge people every quarter mile or so).

The start of the trail. I am very uncoordinated...
Therefore, I was shocked I could manage to take this picture!

With the race less than two months away, my 'saddle time' on the bike is no where near where it should be. I need to make biking a priority in terms of my training and that started today. And boy was I feeling the truths of this in my legs after about 40 minutes...

I did intervals. Every 5 minutes I would go as fast as I could go in the top gear (the hardest gear). With the wind, this created some issues, mainly in regards to my right knee. I had a knee injury over the summer. We are not sure what caused it, but was made worse after a bike crash at one of the races. Anyways, it was flaring up a little bit today, I think because riding on the road is a lot different than the trainer or a spin bike, therefore the muscles that aren't normally activated were being used. Eventually I had to stop doing the intervals and keep a consistent, but strong pace and cadence, to save my knee.

A dog jumped out of the bushes here, while I was taking a picture... almost fell...
but slice decided to save me.

I was about 50 minutes in at this point and was already feeling the acid build up in my legs, my nose was so cold I thought it was going to fall off and I couldn't feel my toes (even with the booties) or my fingers (with gloves on). 

I got a fork in the road: the question was to add another 45 minutes or so by turning right, or to turn around and head back, therefore cutting the distance in half. No way was I turning around, even with the painfully cold weather and knee pain. I was having fun, now. The pain was there in my legs, the feeling of frost bite was approaching me, but I was out here already, why turn around!?

Also, it was so peaceful out there and how many times do I actually get to ride (and enjoy it) alone, with no one on this trail. So, I told myself to suck it up and complete the full distance of the ride, as I was supposed to despite the discomforts.

I went right...

Overall, it was a great ride. Time to think and clear my head and some good quality outdoor time on "Slice". I reflected on the fact that there is less than 2 months out... began freaking out, therefore riding harder. This ride was not only a good opportunity to 'get away' from 'life' for a little while, but also allowed me to get excited about all of this training again and 'get back in gear' (no pun intended). The feeling of outdoor riding excites me enough to look forward to races... riding on my bike trainer... well, frankly its torture.

Note to self (and to the boys): Never try to train for a half ironman during the winter again... Let's pick one in the summer or fall...

On my ride, I came to one conclusion and it is simple: time to get back to basics. Ride outside, no matter how cold (within reason)... two-a-days, no excuses... diet as much as possible.

... and most importantly.... have fun with it!

More to come... Don't forget recipes below!

Never Give Up-



Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion. - Muhammed Ali




1lb of ground beef
1lb of ground pork
6 slices of bacon- cut into small pieces
1 large carrot- shredded
1 beet- shredded
1 medium onion- chopped
5 package of mushrooms- diced
1 jalapeno pepper- finely diced (optional)
2 eggs
2 tbsp 'grainy mustard'
4 cloves of garlic- crushed or finely chopped
2-3 tbsp dried mixed herbs (Italian)
1 tbsp cayenne pepper (optional)
a few dashed of sea salt and ground pepper

Top with Guacamole, or hot sauce or BBQ sauce.... Guacamole recipe below too


  • In large bowl, combine pork and beef
  • add in all veggies
  • crack and whisk eggs in a separate bowl and into the large bowl
  • Next, add herbs and spices.
  • using hands (get in there), fold all the ingredients together
  • press firmly into greased 'loaf pan' or 'muffin cups' *Grease with coconut oil!
  • Preheat oven to 350, bake for 45 minutes (45 minutes for a loaf, shorter for muffins- keep an eye on them)
  • broil for 5-10 minutes (watching carefully)
  • Remove, let cool... enjoy!


4 large avocados (ripe- soft, but not too soft to the touch)
2-3 small white onions- diced
6 plum tomatoes- diced
5 cloves of garlic- minced
2-3 limes- squeezed juice
fresh cilantro- chopped (lots!)
coarse sea salt- pinches
ground black pepper (generous amounts)
ground cumin- a pinch or two
ground cayenne- a pinch or two
hot sauce or chopped jalapenos- to kick it up a notch


  • Peel, cut and de- pit avocados, into a medium- sized bowl
  • Add in onions, tomatoes garlic and lime juice
  • using fork, mash it all together!
  • Add in cilantro , sea salt, pepper, cumin and hot sauce/ jalapenos
  • Continue mashing until desired consistency
  • Enjoy!


Spin at Focus Fitness Main Line in Bryn Mawr, PA- 6:15 Thursday and 5:30 on Friday!!!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012



Due to Superbowl Sunday and not completing the bike ride and doing it tomorrow instead, I will post tomorrow!

Stay tuned for some great recipes and some training pictures!!!! :)