Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Super snack

These yummy, spicy cashews are my FAVORITE!

How to make them:

First, get:

2 1 lb bags of roasted, un-salted cashews

2 tbsp of brown sugar (or sugar substitute), butter (or butter substitute), fresh rosemary, sea salt and cayenne pepper.


Set the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the cashews on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

Mix the other ingredients in a bowl and when the cashews are warmed, combine them with the mixture.

Let them cool before putting the tops on your containers.

I add some extra cayenne for more kick!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How Can I be expected to...

Get out of bed when faced with this?!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Never Too Late

"It's never too late to start the day over." Michael Franti

I woke up this morning after an epic and excellent weekend feeling a little less than excellent. Maybe it was the gray, rainy sky, maybe it was the 3 AM bedtimes, but whatever the reason, I was lacking mo-mo (aka motivation) in a BIG way.

I puttered around the house finding everything BUT my workouts to do...and then I called Eric. I told him that my brain was telling me to just do it. That I want big things from this year and that in order for that to happen, I need to put in the time now. My brain was telling my sad, pathetic body to get out there on this rainy day b/c I know my competition is out there.

Eric told me exactly what I needed to hear - sadly, not what my body wanted to hear... it kept yelling "take a nap with the puppy!!" - he told me that I need to think 6 months from now - think about what I want on that day. To think about my competition that is just PRAYING that I'll skip today's workout. He then told me, "you'll have enough days training in the rain - today, just go to the gym, hop on the treadmill and do a speed workout - you'll feel better!"

Man, oh, man - that Eric was right! Although I hate running on a treadmill, it was a lot of fun today. Running with music is something I'll only do on the treadmill and I had some great tunes pumping!

The workout sped by and I did Eric's "strength Challenge" of the day - check it out HERE.

The run put me back in a competitive mindset and the day began anew!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


"Let's just breathe." - Pearl Jam

This morning I met a friend at the pool to work on swim form and technique. She's a brand newbie to all 3 sports and is planning to race her first ever tri at St Anthony's.

She's a Mother, a Nurse and one tough chick.

She texted me, frantic the other night - "everything hurts! Not 'sore' hurt, but 'hurt', hurt."

I suggested we get together and do some drills.

Watching her in the water, she has great body alignment, a super strong kick and a fairly strong stroke, but breathing is what's hard... it's also what wreaks havoc on her form.

It's amazing to see how one small movement can have such big effects on the overall mechanics. By pulling her head up and out of the water rather than simply turning to the side in a 45 degree rotation (in line with her body), it was forcing the opposite arm (supposedly in mid-pull) out and straight, dropping the shoulder and the legs, thus disrupting the entire stroke. Dropping the shoulders and straightening out that arm caused stress on the wrong muscles and was causing the pain.

It's one thing to watch a video or read an article. It's another to actually have someone watch you. To direct you, physically and then repeat correct exercises together.

We finished up a successful hour in the pool and it reminded me how such small changes can have HUGE impacts. This is true for all 3 sports. Hydrodynamics and proper form are the keys to swimming - enabling the athlete to use less energy to propel the body faster across a prescribed distance. Isn't this something we all strive for?

Efficiency is necessary before you can even begin to consider speed. You've got to love the process is what it comes down to and, learn to breathe.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Another Plunge Photo

It looks like we all REALLY wanted to go in the water!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Polar Plunge ... In Pictures

So, on Saturday I jumped in 36 degree water to help Eric raise funds for families in need. You can find out more about The Plunge on his website.

We had a big group, as you can see!

Moments before the plunge, I started taking off layers... oooh didlee, it was cold!
Off and running!
Almost in, preparing to dive...
A dunk under and we're OUT!
It didn't feel so bad to me, but the guys around me were howling in pain!
Yum, salt! That's Mr. Alan MacDougal there in the yellow cap. Also, notice the only person going in as we're coming out... that's Eric.
Begging Sam for a towel!
That's better...
A happy pony.
Enjoying the sun and sea...and warming up on the rocks.
Luna didn't plunge all the way, but did manage to cover the car in sand.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Home, Sweet Home...For February!

This lovely 14th Century villa in the Tuscan Countryside will be home this February for our Italian travel and training! Sam made me BEYOND happy when he said, "I want to come home exhausted, having seen everything there is to see in Rome and Tuscany." - Yes, tall order, but I couldn't be more excited.

If you want to train on hard terrain and get in no culture whatsoever, you can train to your heart's content plenty of places Stateside. But, if you want great training paired with true adventuring, museum-visits, tastings at vineyards and marathon days in cities like Florence and Rome... well, you do what Sam and I are doing with our buds.

Frequent flyer miles were easily used to cover our airfare and this lovely villa? Round-about $60 a night. Oh, and our hotel in Rome? It is less than .5 a mile from the Colosseum and is literally built into Nero's Aquaduct. Yes, it is a dream come true and I'm counting down the days until we fly, fly away!

I'll be updating here daily with maps, photos and recommendations for your own adventure! With all of the fantastic tools at our hands (shameless plugs in future posts, I warn you now), it is bound to be an epic experience.

Our plan is to wake up early daily and head into town for coffee and a bite. From there, train in the morning and spend the afternoons and evenings exploring local cities, towns, sites, food and of course.... WINE!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Taking the Plunge...

Tomorrow at 12:45! I'll post pictures tomorrow afternoon!


Thank you all again for your contributions, I am, as usual, overwhelmed by the generosity of those around me. Well, maybe it's not love, and instead a desire to see me freeze my tush off!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Polar Plunge 2010

Howdy y'all!

So this Saturday I'm going to do something really dumb for a really good cause. I'm trying to raise $100 (or more) by Saturday at noon. If I can do that, I'm going to jump into the Long Island Sound with other philanthropic crazies (in speedos, no less)!

Here are the details - if you make a donation towards my "plunge" - just make a memo on Eric's paypal that says "Mandy Braverman Plunge". You can also mail me a check - just leave a note for the address.

Check out the deets from Eric below:

2010 Polar Plunge (Eric's words from here on out)

This year we will be raising funds for Trumbull resident Alex Convertito. On September 6th, 2009, Alex, a member of the Trumbull community, was critically injured in a two car motor vehicle accident on rt. 8. He was ejected from his vehicle and as a result received severe spinal injuries. Alex, 22, has undergone substantial surgeries to stabilize his spine and restore movement and feeling to his lower extremities. For Alex and his family, the road to recovery is a long one paved with extensive rehabilitation. He is about to once again undergo another spinal stabilization surgery. As you can imagine, the costs of this keep building and insurance only covers so much. It would be very cool if we could help offset some of this debt.

The deal is we meet at Southport Beach (directions below) at 12:45pm on January 16th and take a dip in The Sound at around 1pm. If you are taking The Plunge, your goal is to try and raise $100 to donate to the cause we select. The past few years, we have sent a local child battling cystic fibrosis and hefty medical bills to Disney, we assisted two autistic children in seeing one of the top specialists around, we helped pay the costs of a young boys medical bills from his fight against Kawasakis Disease, we also gave some financial aid to a woman cyclist who was struck by a hit and run car, and in the very first Plunge, we sent close to $50,000 to the American Red Cross to aid those in the Tsunami. Let's keep this great thing rolling. In these tough economic times, it's important to still support a worthwhile cause. And at the very least, whether Plunging or not, you will have a laugh. If we raise over $5000 I will do something stupid again. One year I wore a speedo which in January in icy cold water can be quite embarrasing. This year, I will be the first one in and the last one out - if we raise more than $5000.

So here’s the deal:

Meet at 12:45pm on Saturday, January 16th at Southport Beach (directions below).

Alex’s father’s employer, Fletcher Thompson, Inc. has compassionately established a 501c3 account in Alex’s name. Any contributions donated to this fund will be tax deductable and go directly to offset the cost of Alex’s medical expenses and equipment.

Contributions can be made payable to:
Fletcher Thompson Health and Family Services
Memo on check: For Alex Convertito

You can also donate through the Paypal link on my site – if you do this, please note “Alex Convertito Donation” in the subject or notes.

If you don’t plan on Plunging, come out anyways to support us fools that are and have a laugh!

I'll bring the coffee and hot chocolate. I hope you can make it!


Amateur Versus Pro

Last night we ventured into the city (after a swim and run, of course!) to see Andreas Staier perform on the Fortepiano (pre-piano, post- harpsichord instrument). It was an incredible concert at the intimate Zankel Hall.

At the end of the performance, Staier returned to the stage for his encore, but he brought a woman out with him... She was his "homestay" of sorts and as he explained in his thick accent, "The best natural horn playing lawyer."

The audience took a collective deep breath, feeling the nervous energy this woman exuded. She stood on stage in towering heels and dramatic dress. A slight nod and Staier began playing. While the woman hit some of the notes (and I give her GREAT credit for getting up on stage with a professional), she was noticeably shaken and it was difficult to know whether to smile or wince.

It got me thinking about the calculated risks we all take in endurance sports. We all line up to take on the same event and perhaps it's seeing the fluidity and grace of the top pros (there are too many pros that don't really deserve the honor and many age groupers that do!) is what gives us some sense of attainability. I don't think pros are necessary for any of us to race - our desires, especially in triathlon, cycling and running come more from a personal goal standpoint.

In the book "Outliers", Malcolm Gladwell (I confess, I loved the "Tipping Point", but found "Outliers" utterly unreadable), the author, discusses what it takes to achieve greatness - it equates out to something like 10,000 hours of practice.

Think of how many hours many of us practice each week - if 10,000 hours were the bar for achieving greatness, than I think many of us have achieved it! Of course greatness is not a matter of just how long you practice or train. It's never that simple.

Seeing the stark contrast between the professional and the amateur was enlightening, but not for the obvious reason. Enlightening because the professional was open to performing just as happily along side the sometimes-musician and the amateur showed considerable bravery in playing for an audience other than her living room couch.

Triathlon plays out the same way - the tides are turning and the amateur races are becoming more competitive and interesting to watch than the professionals that have reached their peak and can do a 4 hour 1/2 Iron man every time (well, some of them!). Eric's race last year at RI 70.3 was FAR more interesting than what happened in the pro ranks (and Eric beat most of the Pro men racing as an amateur).

I do not expect to see amateur musicians on the stage again any time soon, and in fact, I would venture to say it has never happened at Zankel hall before! But I loved that moment of intrigue as the stage hand brought out the music stand and we all sat in awe for a moment, envisioning ourselves on stage alongside greatness.

Be brave today!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Home Sweet Home...for February, at least

Mo Mo

"Memories and fingerprints, the only things we leave behind" - Pearl Jam

Today Coach E and I sat down to talk about 2010, 2009, New prospects and rehash the last year a bit. Eric is a great listener - something I truly value. I'm a "think out loud" kind-of-person and although I believe myself to be thoughtful in my choice of words, I tend to talk and talk until I hit the right mark.

I've done a lot of reflecting on the past year and what I plan 2010 to be (maybe it's the extra yoga?!). I was not fresh in 2009. I was worn down in a variety of ways and not only was I not enjoying my training, I was not in the mood to race. My heart wasn't in it.

That all changed at Ironman Florida. No, it wasn't my fastest Ironman ever and certainly far from a perfect race, but it was my most positive race. I was happy the whole lead up into it (despite my upper respiratory infection the day before) and I was happy the whole race itself.

Ironman Florida was the turning point - My heart and mind finally clicked and since then, I've been more motivated than ever to get back in the game.

My life outside of training has been especially fulfilling and I'm finding that balance I always desired. Healthy relationships with my family, friends and boyfriend. A healthy social life. A healthy business and more avenues for adventure and growth than I could possible explore!

This year, I'm putting my goals back out there. I'm holding myself accountable to sustain this positivity, this balance that I've struck. I am going back to Kona in October and I'm not going to let myself or anyone else get in my way. Last year, I didn't want to go. Now, I'm ready and I've learned from the mistakes I made leading into the 2008 race.

Laying out the racing schedule with this goal in mind is exhilarating.

The next few months are still building base, then adding in a run speed focus. Combine that with a few more group workouts and I know I can achieve it!

The Cleanse is coming along well - 1 week down and 1 week to go! I've lost 7 lbs, but would like to lose another 3-7 lbs before the end of this.

Tomorrow I'll fill you all in on my long and short term goal setting....


Saturday, January 9, 2010

My Running Buddy

Presumably telling me to hurry up!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal

My beautiful hydrangia plant is coming back to life (thankfully as are
the peace lily, palms and other plants)!

What a beautiful sign here in my home that 2010 is going to be a year
of reinvention, regrowth and beauty.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

As Time Goes By

I'm never really sure how it happens - I was sure I blogged yesterday, but no - that fell by the way side.

It was a busy day and I had a rather exciting meeting followed by a lovely spin and yoga session and even a ride on the pony.

In any event - it's now day 4 of the cleanse. I've dropped 6 pounds since Sunday. I think it's salt weight. Feeling fantastic. My skin is glowing - maybe it's the diet - maybe it's the kick-A$$ "Make-up Optional" Skincare set I got from Philosophy. This stuff is AMAZING. I wonder if they'd consider sponsoring a triathlete.......

The past few days have, sadly, included a lot of driving. Today is was for my daily mitzvah - well, really, it was the least I could do for my fantastic Mother that drags my corpse home from every Ironman. Today she had to go in for her first colonoscopy. The prep was pretty brutal for her, but the procedure was a breeze and it's the first time she's napped since we were in Florida.

It's funny when you realize your parents rely on you just as much as you on them. My mother kept thanking me - but I reminded her that I owe her... she did make me! We had a nice visit since the doctor was running an hour or so late. I've said it before and I'll say it again - my mother is the only person I can spend non-stop time with (even stressful time) and still want to spend more. We're cut from the same cloth and I'm ever so grateful.

Of course, the doctor running late meant I was in the lurch at lunch time.

The Cleanse works - the cleanse works if you follow it exactly - I'm lucky to be getting in some extra protein this round, but I haven't found myself hungry or unhappy yet. Today, I could feel myself fading a bit as 12 PM came and went. 2 pm grew near and it was all I could do to find FOOD! I found a pasta place - it was either iceberg lettuce (w/0 dressing b/c all they had were creamy flavors) or pasta w/ red sauce. I went for the pasta even though it was not whole wheat (Sorry, Coach!) and it was just what I needed. Crisis averted.

Onward to day 5 and more exciting plans!!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It's a 2 post kind of day...

Only because (and I promise, this won't happen again for a while) I need to vent.

Today was off to a great start - early morning meeting, yoga and then gym time for a swim.

I arrive, happy as can be to be getting back in the pool. The parking lot is packed with Buicks, so I know what I'm in for. The pool room is also packed, with overweight women from ages 15 (I'm guessing) - 60. They are holding their foam dumbels and floating around the pool.

Now, this pool has 4 lanes. Really only 2 of them are usable. The end lanes are either 1. too shallow and w/ ladders or 2. just crappy with ladders. The lanes are also a bit narrow, so sharing w/ someone who decides to do the breaststroke poorly or scull on their back can be challenging.

No big deal, the aerobic people are using up 3 lanes (including the 2 good ones), but there is an empty lane (the shallow one - about 3 feet deep, with ladders and steps). I make it work. About 700 into my workout, the pool returns to its normal setup.


I switch to a middle lane and get back into the grove. A few more swimmers arrive and one takes the other good lane. A few aqua-aerobic people waddle into the pool and take the crappy lane and an old woman pretty much falls off her walker into the other crappy deep lane and begins sculling aimlessly. Another swimmer dangles her legs in my lane - "Thank gawd", I think, "someone who knows pool etiquette!"

All is going swimmingly (pun intended!) until I notice the water level rise and a few more dimpled butts appearing in my watery midst.

Reaching the wall, a woman says to me, "Good timing, we're just about to take over this lane for our class."

"Really? There was just a class in here 10 minutes ago," I reply.

I move over 1 lane and now the three of us swimmers share a lane. As I'm finishing my last 500 (barely 150 into it), I notice the lane lines ahead of me are coming to a point. I pop my head up,

"Seriously? I'm just about done. You said your class starts in 5 minutes and I'll be done by then..."

[they continue to move the lane line]

"That lane is for you to swim, we use 3 lanes for our class."

"that lane" that she referred to was the crappy deep end lane - already home to the old woman that fell into it and was now sculling... possibly for her life. Another old man had joined her at some point and I thought maybe, sometime in the next hour they would actually reach one another in a slow-motion collision.

Taking stock: 2 old people floating, 3 swimmers, 2 ladders and one tiny lane. Perhaps the water aerobic people are as bad at math as they are at exercise?

Becoming irrationally mad, especially since I was holding a 1:20 pace for my base-pace workout (and since I haven't been in the pool in 3 weeks), I jumped out of the pool. All I can think of is whether or not these women actually believe this class merits their guzzling down of 800+ calorie peanut-butter and chocolate filled shakes plus a bar!

In one of the most mature moments of my life to date, I throw my flippers and board back in the pile (rather than place them down nicely in the massive garbage-heap-esque pile) and stomp out of the pool room reciting my respectable and courteous, yet direct speech to the gym director.

"Is there any way the water aerobics people can use 1 or 2 lanes rather than 3?"

"Can we please make swim caps mandatory?"

"Can we please post pool etiquette on every door?"

"Can we just ban water aerobics entirely and post a sign that says, 'POOL IS FOR SWIMMING'?

I shower and collect myself, never one to say something without thought.

I walk up to the front desk, ask for the director and find that she's on vacation until further notice. It looks like the battle will rage on...

The Cleanse - Day 2

Something that I never remember is how affected my sleep is the first few nights of the Cleanse. I forget to drink more earlier and end up waking up 10+ a night to pee.

I suppose things could be worse. I'm finding myself full and happy after meals and snacks, drinking the massive quantities of water seems easier this time around and I can already see my body reacting in positive ways.

Waking up early was no problem today, despite the interrupted sleep. My skin has a nice rosy tone and my fingernails are already outgrowing their polish. The icing on the cake? All that water helped flush out some of the leftover sodium weight from the night before and I'm already 3lbs down from yesterday morning.

I go it alone so often, but thankfully not in this! Sam emailed me this morning and said he thinks his liver is doing the Riverdance it's so happy for the detox!

Today is meetings, meetings, meetings, but mercifully, I'm headed to the pool to break things up and just some yoga later. Really easing into things again to make sure I don't relapse into that nasty bug.

In other good news? My pool is making the switch to Saltwater and I couldn't be happier!

Keep on keepin' on, y'all!

Monday, January 4, 2010

And so it begins...

Day 1 of The Cleanse. It's here and I couldn't be more motivated to get going. Yesterday, Sam, the boys and I had an indulgence day. We slept in - made a BIG breakfast, watched an episode of Alias (the best show ever) and then went for a 2+ hour hike. A few sled runs topped off the exercise portion of the day and we headed inside for snacks and an afternoon nap.

Knowing this diet was about to begin, Sam and I (against good advice) made some decadent choices - I made a chocolate mousse cake with dark chocolate crust (also known as the Chocolate Indulgence Cake). With 5 boys all over 6 feet tall in the house, I thankfully only ate 1 piece of cake. All of this followed up with some Thai Food for dinner (and wine.... a few glasses of wine) and you can definitely say I was ready to get on the Cleanse Diet wagon.

So where am I right now - I've finally gotten over this nasty bug that those C-dale Engineers brought home from Taiwan (getting all of us girlfriends, wives and coworkers sick, sick, SICK!). My athletic suspension ends today (thanks, coach!)...And I'm happy to get going. 2010 is off to a great start with new sponsors and endless possibility. As is par for the course, I'm about 10 lbs above "race weight" - which, NO, I do not maintain year round and I do not encourage anyone to try and maintain their fighting weight all year long.

Maybe it's because it's just day 1 - but I'm going into this Cleanse ready, willing and able.

My goal for these 2 weeks? No complaining. No whining. I always love the way I feel by the end of this (I did it twice last year) and that's what I need to keep in mind. I'm doing this because I choose to (well, at least that's what Eric wants me to think).