Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Think Thin Winners!

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. Even though I’ll be going in to work (and yes, I know its a government holiday), I will still be enjoying the last day of 2010 and the first day of 2011 in the place I now call home. And this will likely include: cooking, baking, reading a book, riding my trainer and going for a run (since the pool will most definitely be closed!).

So, anyway- without further hesitation: THE WINNERS of the Think Thin Giveaway are:

Kovas (who has his own bar giveaway of the pure variety goin’ on!)

Tammy

and

Ron (the wicked rad owner of Punk Rock Racing apparel)

Congratulations! (and sorry, D- ThinkProducts still isn’t sending stuff internationally).

Product Review and Another Contest!: Think Thin

After the Real World, Real Food challenge, I discovered that I can do a pretty decent job getting the good, filling food without the need for meat-based meals. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not a vegan. I am not even contemplating going vegetarian! I like meat too much (as selfish as that may sound to you veg-heads out there) and, with triathlon training, I know that my body craves meat (especially of the beef variety). I know that my body needs the protein (ya know, in meat) to repair the damage that I will soon be unloading onto my soon-to-be-rippled muscles.

But, sure. I know. That protein can be found elsewhere. Like in complex pairings of foods. Peanut butter and bread = complete protein. OH, right, I can’t eat normal bread and gluten free bread tastes like cat food. OK, beans then. Beans are good. And luckily, I only share my bed with a cat so she doesn’t complain about any noxious fumes. I’m being facetious, of course. I know that I need to take hold of the reigns and focus on my nutrition, plan out my meals, etc… because – being gluten-free – a little slump can make a huge difference. The biggest, glaring problem arises on days when I have a lot to do. I wake up and go for a swim, head to work and eat my oats. But, especially on days like today when I didn’t have leftovers in hand, I end up skipping lunch (or eating really, really late; like 4pm) and go through through the afternoon in a fog.

Thanks to Thin Products, I’ve had the opportunity to try out a variety of the ThinkThin bars. These are quite a bit different than my ol’ standby (LARABAR). I wouldn’t necessarily even put them in the same category. But, don’t be disuaded. These bars are chock full of protein and are actually quite satisfying and good-for-you. There is also a “crunch” bar too, that satisfies my “oh-I-miss-granola-bars” phase. The Crunch bars are relatively new, and the first thing they reminded me of was the Nature Valley Nut Crunch bars that I’m super hesitant to eat (because some of their boxes are labeled gluten free and others aren’t). However, the ThinkThin bars go two steps further: they are bigger and they pack more fiber and protein than the NV alternative. Plus, you can get them covered in chocolate which, let’s be real here… is awesome.

So, ok. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: “This is a little away-from-the-path of that Real Food lifestyle.” First, it’s processed. Ok. Then, it’s packaged. But what convenient snack food isn’t? And, it’s totally in the realm of my Real World lifestyle, because the bars are a) vegetarian, b) natural, c) gluten-free, and d) satisfying. Plus, the ThinkThin bars are ranked #1 as a tool for natural weight management. These bars come in regular size (~250 calories and 15-20g protein) or “bites” size, with 100 calories and 5g of protein. So, depending on what kind of portion control you’re looking for, ThinkThin has you covered.

I stashed my secret supply of ThinkThin bars in my desk drawer, and did a good job of only eating one per day around mid-morning (although some days I really had to resist eating more than one, because the sweet tooth would strike around 430pm!). Usually, I eat breakfast at 8, but I end up so hungry by 11 that I eat my lunch early and want to take a nap or grab a candy bar around 2pm. These bars were great at keeping my appetite at bay, as I would still eat breakfast around 8, but then have a bar around 1030, and postpone eating lunch until 1pm. I could usually make it the rest of the day before going home, grabbing a light snack (like a banana or piece of cheese) and heading out for a workout.

The flavors are wide-ranging and awesome. White chocolate chip, tangerine creamsicle, even chocolate covered strawberries (deeeelish!).

I really like the crunch bars, but my favorite of all was the Chunky Peanut Butter protein bar. I don’t know what it is, but I could literally sit with a spoon and a jar of peanut butter and eat the whole thing in one sitting. The bars are dipped in a coating, and when I bite into them its like eating a Milky Way candy bar (unless, of course, its a Crunch bar). Only the flavors are different than a Milky Way. More variety… it’s great!

I did have a least-fave though, and I gotta say the Lemon Cream Pie was a little not-my-style. It’s weird; I love lemons. In fact, I’m using four of my five lemons from the RWRF Challenge to make lemon bars. But for some reason, making it into a protein bar just didn’t do it for me. But, I am just one (wo)man, and who knows? Maybe my taste buds were off that day. To each there own (or as Ron Burgundy would say: “Agree to disagree”).

Luckily, you can be the judge yourself. I’ve got yet ANOTHER contest for you, fair readers.  What does it entail? Well, three lucky winners will receive a special package from the great folks at ThinkThin.

What do you have to do? I want to hear about your take on the macronutrient protein and how it has or has not influenced your eating habits. Do you drink protein shakes? Are you vegan and eat a lot of soy? Do you think protein is a hoax put on by the nutritional giants at GNC? Be brutally honest. Or, you can just tell me what your favorite protein-laden food is. By commenting below, you’ll get your name entered into the drawing. As usual, you can add another entry by tweeting about this (make sure to include my handle so I know [@megankillian}).

I’ll pick winners at random on Dec 30th, just in time for the New Year Celebration!

Real World, Real Food Wrap-up

Thanks to everyone for contributing, spreading the word, and getting involved with the Real World, Real Food Organic Basket Challenge that Sonja and I did last week. It was so incredibly fun.  A particular congratulations goes out to Kara for winning, but I think everyone who participated was a winner (of course!). There was a lot of heart and soul (and tummies) in the mix. It was a great experience to be involve with.

As far as a wrap-up goes, I think the biggest take-away for me was the obvious differences in food costs across the country. Surprisingly, for the same grocery list, Kara (who lives in a fairly rural area) walked away with a lower grocery bill than anyone else who did the challenge from a big city. I was especially surprised that I had the highest bill, even though I am in the most centrally-located city (St Louis is the midwest after all). I for sure thought I would beat Sonja’s basket price, since I live in a mid-sized city that – from what I gathered – has a fairly low cost of living. But, I was wrong.

There are some confounding variables, of course. For one, the list was the same no matter where you are. So, what is locally grown in one region is probably not available locally in another. And, what is easy to import in some places (like from CA to CO) might take a little more to get from the origin to a different destination (say, Michigan’s UP, or Missouri).  Secondly, I shopped in the city instead of on the outskirts, so I had to pay a bit of a premium (depending on where I shop, sales tax can be as high as 9.8%, and it turns out even food is taxed here … I think its around 4%?).

So where do we go from here? For me, the week’s worth of produce that I had all to myself forced me to eat real food every day. Instead of having nachos and cheese for dinner, I had to eat the fennel and cucumber and tomatoes and collard greens before they went bad. I admit, I didn’t get through everything by myself in the one week. Some of the stuff I stored in the freezer (shredded my zucchini and stored it in freezer bags for future bread!). But for the most part, it all went down my gullet. I realized, reflecting on the last week, that most of my meals were vegetarian, some were even vegan. I got a lot more creative with my meals, ate nuts and used olive oil in nearly every meal, and didn’t spend any money during the week by going out to lunch or grabbing a snack from the bookstore. And, as an extra bonus, I felt great all week. I felt sustained. My meals were filling, but not gigantic mounds of noodle and meat. In fact, I only had meat once during the week. I learned that I like fennel, and I like cooking with spices. I learned that I can make time to cook but I can also cook enough for myself to have leftovers to sustain me for the busier days. In other words, in the past week, I’ve really learned a lot about food, and myself.

It got me thinking more (oh boy, who needs that?!). It got me thinking about other cool things to try and what sort of plan I’m going to have every time I go to the grocery store. Yeah, I probably am not going to buy all-organic all-the-time. Unfortunately, I can’t afford it. But I am going to continue my habits of buying mostly in-season foods that don’t travel far. I also got thinking about another cool challenge: see how far our foods travel from the farm to the table. People have done this, they’ve written books about it. But something like this nationally, or even globally, might tell a better story as to why food is more expensive in some cities than others.

So to wrap up, thanks to everyone who participated, including:

TriMommy Kelly

Donna, all the way from the UK!

Miles, Muscles and Mommyhood

Kara, our RWRF Winner from Michigan’s UP

Muddy Mama

Jennifer

And thanks to everyone who spread the word and thank you to those who thought about what they were throwing in their cart at the grocery store. Also, thanks to Whole Foods Galleria for being convenient and friendly, and for having everything I needed to complete my list. Did I mention that, this weekend – after eating clean for an entire week – I finished off my sweet potatoes with a (rather large) side of nitrite-free bacon and farm fresh eggs from Whole Foods? I love their meat counter folks.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

My favorite comfort food

I think everyone has “that food”- the one that brings about incredible memories and overwhelms the senses, not just the scent and taste of the food, but the emotional sense as well. Just the smell reminds one of a special day, a special place, or being surrounded by special company.

My favorite comfort food is chruscikis. As a child, they were a treat only to be savored on Christmas Eve. And rightfully so. They weren’t easy to make; in fact, I never knew how to make them exactly, and I’d wait patiently outside the kitchen of my best friend’s grandmother’s house for them to be shared. Granted, I was six or seven, and deep frying dough was a little advanced for me. But nonetheless, it felt like midnight by the time the chruscikis made their way to the table. The treat was always the most memorable part of the evening for me. Their shape alone was fascinating; somehow, someone (my best friend’s grandma, of course) weaved the thin dough in and out of itself to create this wing-shaped treat (not surprisingly, chrusciki means “angel wings” in Polish). The crisp dough, fried to a golden brown, had bubbles that would cave in on themselves if I took a bite on top of one. The treat was covered in white, fluffy powdered sugar, and the dough would break off by just pressing my lips ever-so-slightly together. It was so fragile; so delicate. The sugar and the bread would fill my mouth with sweet and salty flavors, and I’d sneak a few angel wings before my mom would bat my hand away, worried I’d go into a sugar craze like seven-year-olds do.

I haven’t had chruscikis in years, mostly because Christmas Eve has not been celebrated in the same way as it was when I was pre-high school. And now that I follow a gluten-free diet, it was one of those treats that I buried and tried to forget about (like packzis and pierogies). But my boyfriend’s mom found a gluten free bakery that makes angel wings, and all the emotion I have tied to this magical food came flooding back. I knew that I needed to find a way to make these myself, so that once again, they could become a part of my new holiday traditions.

I took a basic, not-gluten free recipe from online and modified it as best I could with what I had available.

Gluten-Free Chruscikis

  • 5 egg yolks (at room temp)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons cream
  • powdered sugar
  • Canola oil

Mix together the flours and baking powder to make the flour blend.  Make extra mixture for flouring surfaces.

Beat the egg yolks in a stand mixer on medium speed until thick and then add the salt. Continue beating and add sugar and vanilla. Once mixed well, reduce speed of mixer to low and add in alternating ~1/2 c flour mix and 1tbsp cream until both are used up. Ball dough onto floured counter and let stand, covered with a towel, for 10min. Roll out with a rolling pin to very thin dough. Cut 1 to 2in wide strips about six inches long and then make a slit length-wise. Carefully weave one end of the strip through the slit to make the twist. Fry in canola oil (deeper than the thickness of the dough) until brown on both sides. Let cool on cooling rack for about 3 min, and then cover in powdered sugar.

I think in my next rendition, I will add Expandex to help with the working of the dough. I could roll it out once, but after that the dough would get very crumbly and not workable. Drats, gluten free dough. But otherwise, these angel wings are tasty and delicious, and fill my soul with wonderful memories…

Larabar FitKit Giveaway Winner!

The winnings!

I had nearly 60 entries for this awesome contest, but only one lucky winner was picked. Everyone was assigned a number based on when they commented or tweeted or blogged (whichever came first). Random.org generated for me a random number between 1-59.

The Larabar Fit Kit Giveaway winner is:

Nancy! Here’s her entry:

Nancy, on December 3, 2010 at 9:09 am said:Pick me! Pick me! Loves me some Larabars. 2010 was a bust for me due to injuries, so I’m really hoping the running gods will shine on me in 2011.

She also had a bonus entry because she tweeted, but it was her comment on the post that got her the win! Lucky #12!

Congrats Nancy!

The Real World Real Food Challenge

For the past two years, I’ve had the most excellent hook-up: I was part of community-supported agriculture (CSA). My CSA was especially rad because the farmer charged ~$400/year, and delivered fresh fruit and veggies to my door every Tuesday. There were some things I loved, and some things I didn’t love so much, but regardless, having the seasonal fresh food at my dinner table helped me eat better and live more neutrally.

A friend of mine recently signed up for Door to Door Organics, which although isn’t entirely local, it is entirely organic. She gets weekly deliveries to her doorstep for around $40/week. She posted this photo on Twitter of this week’s delivery, posing the question:

This is what $38 in Organic veg delivered to your doorstep gets you from Door to Door Organics, thoughts?


and that got me thinking…

What would all this cost from my local grocery store? Certainly I could spend much less than $38, I thought. And, if I want it all organic, I’ll probably have the best luck at Whole Foods… (or as some people so aptly name it: Whole Paycheck- but for me, being gluten free, it doesn’t make a difference where I shop!). Then I thought about this: I live in a different metropolitan area than Sonja. Would the price of this real food be that much different city-to-city?

So I challenged her.

@goSonja hmm… they grow kiwi and avocado in CO? I am curious if it wouldn’t be cheaper to get it yourself from @wholefoods

@megankillian d2d organics is not local. It’s only local when it can be. I think it’s a tad cheaper than WF.

@gosonja which sounds like a challenge/contest to me. Send me the list of veggies and I’ll see if StLouis is cheaper, too 😉

@megankillian will do, I think I’m going to do the same, send ya an email in a sec, k?

@goSonja word.

And so it began: The Real World Real Food Challenge. Sonja sent me the list, and five minutes later I set off to match her grocery list and check out without going over my budget of $38.

Here’s the rules:

  • Everything must come from the same store, during the same shopping trip
  • Everything must be organic. If you can get it local organic, that’s even better
  • Buy only what is on the list, in the same quantities
  • Keep the receipt

The List

With my list in hand, I headed to Whole Foods Galleria, which is one of two Whole Foods in the St Louis area (and the only one in the city limits, I think). I chose Whole Foods because I really like Whole Foods, and I guessed that they would be the most likely store to have everything on the list in the organic variety. As a plus, I just love the atmosphere of the store, the smell of the deli and the bakery. Plus, the variety always compels me to explore my taste buds and try something a little exotic. But tonight, I had a plan.

I felt like I was on a secret mission. The Hunt for Red October, only it was the Hunt for Red Roma Tomatoes. I didn’t have to wander too far, because everything I needed was in the front produce section. Duh. The zucchini squash, the fennel, even the collard greens (of which I’m not a fan… yet) found their way into my cart. But I was careful to grab the right amount (4 zucchini squash, one fennel with at least 4 stems, etc). I hit a speedbump, though, when it came to golden sweet potatoes. What are golden sweet potatoes, anyway? I am glad I had my Android, because I Google-Imaged that. And all I saw was a regular, ol’ sweet potato. So I grabbed three of the smallest sweet potatoes they had (organic) and moved along the list. In hindsight, it looks like I was a little off with that one, because my sweet potatoes don’t look the same… but anyway, I digress.

Moving along- breezily counting squash and kiwi and knocking on pomegranates, and then I hit the apples: pinova. What is that? Google phone to the rescue: It’s a cross between golden delicious, Cox’s orange pippin, and Duchess of Oldenburg. Never heard of it. And I couldn’t find them next to the braeburns or red delicious. So I asked the produce guy working and he told me they don’t have pinovas at this time. They had them a few weeks ago, and might get them again… but today, no goose. Dang. I asked him what would be the closest thing to a pinova, and he said the braeburn tastes similar. So I made an exception and grabbed two of these.

There also weren’t any organic bean sprouts. I had bought them at Trader Joe’s, but Whole Foods just had “naturally grown” quasi-local (from Chicago) sprouts. So I grabbed a bag of what they had, and shrugged.

Then I finally got to last thing on my list: limes. I found five organic lemons easily, but limes? Well, there were limes from Mexico, but they weren’t organic. There were key limes, but those weren’t organic either. Turns out, no organic limes at the Galleria Whole Foods on this trip. Uh-oh. This was a problem. I grabbed the regular old pesticide full limes and threw them into a bag.

I made it to the checkout, thinking that I had no idea how I faired. Produce is hard to shop for if you’re on a budget, because you really can’t tell how much things cost unless you weigh everything out and allocate a certain percentage of your budget to purchasing it. And some things I expected to be cheap while others more expensive, but it always surprised me. Take the zucchini, for example. I would have guessed it to be a less expensive item, since it was marginally still in season and they grow like weeds. But it was the most expensive item on my receipt, coming in at $5.60 for 4. And the pomegranates, I assumed, would be redonkulously expensive, but they came in at $2.50 a pop.

The check-out total?

A whopping $51.18.

Ouch. I didn’t even come close to Sonja‘s $38, and I had to leave the house to get it. Not to mention I didn’t even get everything organic, and the receipt is a billion times long! I certainly accrued penalty points for not getting the limes and sprouts organic ($5 extra each), but it didn’t really matter in the end. She had this one in the bag… but not literally, since she got hers in the box and I got mine in the bag. I wonder if the difference was because we lived in different regions of the US…

That’s the other unfortunate thing about my produce-obtaining experience compared to hers. I had bags, lots and lots of bags. The collard greens and the fennel had just been sprayed, so I put that in their own bags (because one was by weight and the other was not); the lemons were rolling all over the place, so they went in a bag. Eventually, everything that came in pairs or more went into a bag. So, yeah. Everything went into a bag (except the pomegranates and the avocados. I don’t care if their skins get all yuckied up). I had so many bags, I decided to dedicate a photo to my teammate, Jamie

…although it looks more like a tutu than a hula skirt.

It was quite the gorgeous shopping experience, though, I have to admit. I got all these beautiful, colorful, healthy, whole foods, just ready for me to eat them.

And I don’t think I’ve ever bought five lemons at one time before. Or fennel. Or collard greens (someone please help me to like them).

Sonja went out to price the stuff at her local Whole Foods in Denver, and her grand total came to $41.53. There is a discrepency between cities, so it appears. Although not everything from her list at Whole Foods was organic, she was well below my check-out total. I wonder why? I would have assumed things would be more expensive in the mile-hight city.

So… now that you’ve seen all the fun I’ve had, do you wanna be a part of the Real World Real Food Challenge, too? Because you can! It’s super fun and exciting. Just make sure you have $50 to spend on produce, and make sure that you’ll put it to good use (um, by eating it, silly! Not feeding it to your neighbor’s goats).

Here’s what you gotta do:

  • Take the shopping list and head to your favorite grocery store where you can buy lots of organic and/or locally-grown vegetables and fruits.
  • Buy only organic, and only what’s on the list.
  • Keep your receipt.
  • Share it with us! (If you scan or take a photo of our receipt, just black out all the private info, k?)

Sonja and I will even have a points system to determine who and where has the best real food available. Wanna try it but don’t wanna shell out for organic? That’s cool, too! We’re interested in how much it costs for regular-ol’ produce, too. Just remember, some things are healthier for you when they are organic than others (like apples, pears, tomatoes, and anything that you eat what is on the outside where the pesticides can soak in).

Once you’ve done the shopping, share your story on your own blog, and make sure to tell one of us (or both!) the name of the store you shopped at and what city/metro area you live in. Share the link to your blog post with us, too (in the comments of our posts). We’ll use the honor system, but share your grand total and any modifications (if you made any).

Of course, if your grocery store that you choose doesn’t have an organic fruit or veggie on Sonja‘s list, you’ll be fined. How does $5 plus what my St Louis price of that same food cost sound? This could get expensive really fast…

Why do this? Because it’s fun! Interesting! A learning experience!

Why else? Well, if you really want more motivation, we can give you a little incentive. How about a big ol’ blast of Justin’s Nut Butter? We’ll giveaway a big, sweet and tasty supply of our favorite nut butters to the person with the best blog post. We will be deciding the winner on December 20th, so you have a little over a week to get your groceries and post your blog.

Good luck!

The Endurance Meg Holiday Wish-List

The holidays are coming! Eek! My list hasn’t even been tackled yet. Double eek!

If you are like me, you already know what to get your significant other who 1) likes to ride his bike, 2) is in grad school and 3) lives in a snowy, cold place. Ok, so I have this one a little easy. But other than buying him a case or two of Pamela’s lemon shortbread cookies and a 5lb bag of Snowshoe Brew, I might be at a little bit of a loss. Endurance athletes aren’t really all that hard to shop for, if you have a billion dollars to spend on them. I thought I’d make it a little easy for those quirky endurance athletes on Santa’s list this year, no matter what your budget.

$5-35

  • Energy-o-rama: A nice variety of energy treats will bring a smile to their face. It will also give them an opportunity to restock their supply for the upcoming season or give them something new to try. I bought Baberaham a grab-bag of energy foods a few years back that had all sorts of awesome stuff, and it gave him an opportunity to try new things that he otherwise may never have tried before. My pics: Kona Kola Nuun, a flask of First Endurance Liquid Shot, a Larabar or two (coconut cream pie and pb&j, perhaps?), and some Honey Stinger chews.

  • Gift cards! Good places include:
    • All3Sports so they can put it towards some new tri gear
    • iTunes so they can jazz up their music collection
    • or Road Runner Sports so they can get a fresh pair of kicks or a new outfit.

Now if only Active.com had gift cards, too…

  • Chamois cream – whether they use it already and have a favorite, or they haven’t yet dabbled in the down-under cream, a new tube or tub might get them rolling. If you don’t know where to start, check out my chamois cream review from a few months ago to narrow down some options. Want to give them comfort without getting too personal with their privates? You could get them a can of TriSlide or a few bottles of the TriSwim shampoo and body wash.
  • Snapfish their season! My mom makes me really awesome collages every year. This year, after Rev3 Cedar Point, she made me the collest race recap ever. It had photos from their day as spectators, the course, and me on the run and at the finish.  You can make all sorts of cool things with Snapfish, like calendars and stationary. Think about a two-in-one type of present: make them a calendar that they can use to log their training!

$35-50

  • New headphones– If they are like me, they go through headphones faster than they go through swim suits. OK, maybe that is because I don’t swim as much as I should… but I digress. H2O Audio has a pair of waterproof headphones for $45, and there’s these new tri-geek-gadget headphone covers called Yurbuds that lots of people talk about. The warranty of the Yurbuds is 90days which is longer than some headphones last…
  • Underwear– No, not underwear like your mom gets you at Christmas. How about: a new sports bra? or windproof briefs? or a pair of compression shorts? Seriously, serious underwear. And if you think its weird to give your Secret Santa who also does marathons a pair of windproof briefs, then you obviously don’t know him that well… unless you live in Florida.
  • Cross training gear– Get a medicine ball, Bosu ball, or a yoga mat. I’ve always wanted one of those at-home pull-up bars because I never can predict when the mood will strike and I’ll want to do Feats of Strength. It could be in the middle of eating pasta (but it’s usually NEVER in the middle of eating ice cream).
  • A nice bottle of whiskey– I know I’m not the only endurance athlete that likes whiskey. Right? Right?!? Phew, at least I know Maggs does. My recommendation? Well, I have a lot of recommendations in this price range. But, particularly, I *love* Eagle Rare for a bourbon, Macallan 10yr Fine Oak if you like single-malt, and I’d personally love to try Hirsch 10yr in honor of my new coach, even though he’s not from Canada.

$50-100

  • New bike shorts– Who doesn’t need new bike shorts, anyway? Or tri shorts? or running shorts? Heck, it’s cold now; get ’em a pair of tights, like these ones from Louis Garneau.
  • Miscellaneous gear– Do they have a nice bike pump? How about an at-home fix-it kit? Baberaham helped me put one together before I moved since we’d no longer be sharing gear. It included: a multitool, several new tubes, Bontrager tire levers, CO2 containers, a 3-4-5mm Y-type allen wrench, and all sorts of other useful stuff. Trigger Point is a sure-win for endurance athletes, since they are tools to aid recovery. Go to their Individual TP Products tab on the left to see the Quadballer (if you are gonna get one thing from Trigger Point, it should probably be this). If they are more run focused, get them gear to keep them running safe after dark, like a nice headlamp, a decent runnable reflective vest, and a hat/gloves designed for running.
  • Sweet clothes– Whether its running clothes or every-day normal clothes, which for some reason endurance athletes don’t usually have a lot of, it’s safe to say that most everyone will appreciate the finer stuff. Take merino wool, for example. It’s warm, but very fashionable. Check out Icebreaker for some extraordinary active wear (that will seriously keep you warm with less layers and weight than polyester) and also for some stylish stuff, too.
  • A few good cookbooks and some cooking tools– Get them started off on the right foot for 2011 with a few healthy-eating cookbooks and some new utensils they probably don’t have. There’s plenty of cookbooks to choose from, but make sure your choice is personal. If they are new to following a gluten free diet, get them something like Gluten Free Gourmet Cooks … series by Bette Hagman might be nice. I personally love the Comfort Foods book, but Baberaham isn’t such a soulful food person. And, if they don’t already have one, get them something nice for their kitchen to cook food in. I love my new Calphalon stainless steel multi-purpose saute pan. It has a lid, which is one giant step up from what my last saute pan had. Also check out their knife collection; everyone should hvae three good knives in their kitchen: a santoku or chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife.

  • A different bottle of whiskey? This is probably the best bourbon I’ve ever had:

$100 or more

  • While this is more the special person(s) [eg significant other, son/daughter, or kiss up to your boss because you majorly screwed off this year] gift, it’s still one that is difficult to tackle for most people. In fact, I can think of a million things to get my running buddies, but we can’t spend this much moolah on each other (if we spend anything at all, because- alas – we are either all or recently recoverying grad students). So, if your special person(s)’s an endurance junkie like me, here’s a few gifts they might just eek about in glee.
  • New kicks ($100-150)- This is something that I know I can always get great use and appreciation out of. If you go this route, get ’em a new pair of their ol’ standbys. Don’t change it up, and if they aren’t happy with their current shoe, don’t make the decision for them. Instead, offer to take them to their favorite running shop and buy their new pair of shoes after trying them on.
  • A new bike trainer ($150-1200)– Even for people who can train outside year-round, having a bike trainer gives an athlete the freedom to train when they want to, whether its 5 in the morning or 9 at night. I have become very fond of using the trainer, because I don’t have to worry about bundling up, being seen by cars, or even wearing a shirt (yes, I wear a sports bra… sheeeesh). CycleOps is *the* name when it comes to quality bike trainers, and they make such a wide range that it can fit almost any budget. Now if only I could get my hands on a Powerbeam Pro…

  • GPS watch ($150-300)- If they don’t already have one (which I’m 99.8% certain most dedicated endurance athletes do at this point), upgrade their Ironman Timex watch to a shiny new Garmin 305.
  • TYR Torque swimskin ($250)- For those tri-geeks out there- Got a significant other that aspires to qualify for Kona, or is doing any southern, warm season triathlons in 2011? This swimskin is WTC and USAT legal, and it has a wee-bit of compression to help keep things tucked in and streamlined. I had a few close-calls in triathlon over the last two seasons, where I wasn’t sure if the water would be cool enough for my wetsuit. It wouldn’t otherwise be a big deal, but my two-piece tri kit can act like a chute in the water. Plus, I hope to do some warmer-weather races in 2011, and having a swimskin would help me in my weakest of the three sports.
  • Cover (some or all of) a race entry fee ($80-600)- Nothing says “I love you” than encouragement, and what better way to encourage your special person than by being an enabler?! I love enablers. They make me happy because they are just listening to the person they care about and helping them get to where they need to go a little easier.
    • Want something a little better than just covering their race entry fee? Register for two people; make it a special day! Of course, that other person is you. Not only will you be showing your support of your favorite endurance athlete, but you’ll also be saying “I’m with you on this one!” And, if you reallllly care about that person… make it a Rev3 race. 😉

Of course, there’s lots of things you can get for an endurance geek. I’d like to think we’re the easiest people to shop for. But if you’re stuck, hopefully this list of ideas will help. You could also try to win a box of LARABARS for whoever is on your list, and I won’t tell… Hurry tho, the contest ends on Monday.

A treat for my feet: Everstride Pro Therapy Foot Treatment Review

After Rev3 Cedar Point,  I had a serious case of bitching blisters. I made a stupid rookie mistake, except I wasn’t a rookie. See, I forgot to spray the insides of my running shoes with TriSlide before putting them on. I had sprayed my bike shoes before the race, I lubed up the wetsuit, and I even laced the running shoes with a ‘pre-lim’ spray before throwing them in the transition bag. But when it came time to put the shoes on in the changing tent, my TriSlide was nowhere to be found. I didn’t think much of it, since I had raced all season in these shoes and had never had a blister. But then I realized why I hadn’t had a blister: because I had lubed up every time.

Needless to say, after the first few miles, I started to feel my feet burning a little. Then stinging. Then, I felt like I was walking on this:When I got to the finish line, I couldn’t take off my shoes by myself. I didn’t want to. I was afraid of what I might find.

Finally, a volunteer sat me down and pulled them off, and the skin on the inside of my foot was no longer attached to my foot. It was gross. And, worse than that, I had never had a problem with blisters before. But, as it turns out, once you get them they have a nasty habit of coming back. It’s like herpes, only not contagious.

Which reminds me of the site I saw at a hotel I stayed at recently:

Please note: these aren't my belongings

Anyway, back to the big picture: Feet.

When I got back home, I found a package from EverStride waiting for me. I slapped on some Pro Therapy foot treatment once the wound had covered over with neoskin (that’s sciencetalk for “new”) and slid my feet into socks. I did this for about a week, and things appeared to be much better.

Now, again, back to the herpes-and-blisters comparison, my blisters weren’t totally gone after the Neosporin treatment and Everstride Pro Therapy. I had to stop wearing a different pair of shoes (the predecessor version of the ones that gave me the terrible blisters) because they, too, caused irritation. But, now that I have been running around in Kinvaras, my feet feel much happier.

So I have been using the Everstride therapy, now that my feet are all healed up, as a preventative measure. I’m hoping that by keeping my feet hydrated and happy (which is more difficult now that its cold out and I’m going to be swimming in the pool more…) will help to keep the blisters at bay.

The Everstride foot treatment has a pleasant, although slightly medicinal smell. I used it on my hands once or twice instead of regular hand lotion, and it left my hands feeling a little sticky. I guess I probably should have put on gloves and went to sleep. That reminds me of the book “Of Mice and Men”… Anyway, it’s meant for the feet, but it could be used as a hand treatment too. Get a pair of those el-cheapo-cotton elastic gloves (the ones I love to run with!) and it would be a great treatment for dry, chapped hands as well.

Everstride also makes an anti-chafing sport stick, kinda like BodyGlide. Only it has things like witchhazel and prickly pear extract, which help give your skin a little tingly sensation. It can also be used for helping restore cracked skin, too!

Do you have a problem with blisters? If so, what do you use to treat them?

Revolutionize the West Coast

Wanna do an awesome race on the west coast? Rev3, my favorite race series in the universe, is hosting a HalfRev triathlon in and around the beautiful and superfun city of Portland.

I love the Northwest, especially Portland. When I was in grad school in Montana, my flatmate and I drove from Bozeman to Portland for a weekend away and to attend the Portland Brewer’s Fest. It was on the waterfront, it was before I was following a gluten free diet, and it was a good ol’ time. Portland it a very unique city. The parks are great, and the botanical and Japanese gardens are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Plus the culture is just so eclectic and the town is pretty darn hip.

If you live in the Northwest, this is a serious must-do race. If you don’t, you should look into traveling out there for it! July in the Northwest is gorgeous. Check out tickets through Southwest Airlines (cheap bike charge!) and Alaska Air (supah cheap baggage fees here too!).


See you there!

Oh, the possibilities…

It’s the 2nd of December. I feel like it should still be September. One of the unfortunate things about doing awesome things and having a great time is that time seriously flies by. In the last week, while exploring a new city, getting started at a new job, and living for the first time completely on my own, I’ve barely had time to reflect on what has been going on around me.

Things are now starting to settle down, and I’m finally beginning to reflect on what this year has brought me and what 2011 has in store. Just in time, too, since the new year is just around the corner. Trust me, it will be here before we know it.

But I’m not your traditional girl-who-gets-excited-about-the-new-year. I don’t necessarily consider the 1st of January any different than any other day. When it rolls around, I will go about my business, maybe head out for a run. I might sleep in a little, but that is the extent of my celebrations.

Even still, January 1st symbolizes a general awareness of time. It gives people a reason to reboot, to reflect, and to resolve.

For me personally, 2010 was a year of possibilities. I learned that I can test my strengths and weaknesses, not just in sport, but in academics and life, too. I learned that it really is worth testing the waters; putting yourself out there for all to see. I learned this year that it’s not possible to see your true potential unless you are aware that you very well just might fall flat on your face. But the reward will be worth it. I did things this year that I might never have thought I could do, things I might never have thought I was able to do. I have been fortunate to have been afforded opportunities that I have not always felt worthy to be receiving.

Luckily for you, any new year’s resolutions of eating better and staying healthy can be made a little easier with a gift from LARABAR. They offered to send one of my readers a wonderful LARABAR prize, just in time for the holidays and New-Year’s-Resolution’ing. I call it the Be-Fit-Kit, and it includes: a 16-count box of Coconut Cream Pie LARABARS, a water bottle, a sweet t-shirt, and a bandana. Don’t worry, Mystery Winner, the shirt will come in your size.

How cool is that?

If you know me, you know how much I love these bars. They are a healthy, gluten free snack bar that satisfies. And as a bonus, they are always coming out with new, delicious flavors that make a gluten free girl like me reminisce about the ol’ days when I could eat applie pie and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. But, the best part? These bars are so good that I don’t even miss the days before being gluten free. Seriously.

For one entry into this contest: Tell me about one of the possibilities that lies ahead for you. If there’s something you hope to accomplish in the coming year that you’ve never done before, I want to hear about it. Are you hoping to make a big change to your life? Let’s hear it! In order to be entered into the contest, you must comment on this post.

All this could be yours! Nom nom nom...

Want a second entry? Mention this contest on your personal blog, and the comment again with a link to your post.

And for good measure, you can get a bonus third entry by tweeting about this contest. Be sure to include my twitter handle (@megankillian) so I know to enter you again.

On December 13th, I’ll assign every entrant a number and then pick a winner by using a random number generator.

I’m excited to hear from you! Good luck!

Disclaimer: LARABAR is providing this wonderful kit for free to one of my readers. Make sure to check out their website and blog if you haven’t already. And because this prize contains food, it can only be shipped to folks in the US or US Territories. Sorry, Canada!