Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Road to Ratatouille

Lisa doing some quality cutting of vegetables with the kids.

A Day of Volunteering and not Cutting my Thumbs Off

On the road to ratatouille (not the movie, the actual dish!), teaching kids how to use knives and make healthy food choices was my calling recently. Let me explain...

For the past 6 months, the new members of the Junior League of Santa Barbara have been preparing for our new member project: "Kids in the Kitchen." Although I was not a huge part of the planning process (I secured food donations) I was looking forward to a day of helping out my community by educating children and their families about healthy living.

Last weekend, the actual event went off without a hitch. In the morning a fellow crossfitter (Lisa Engel from Cross fit Pacific Coast) and I showed up to Franklin Elementary (the site of the event) to prep the food for the day. We mostly joked and talked and tried not to cut our thumbs off. After the prep work was done, we were assigned to the cutting detail. We would both be supervising children with knives while they helped us cut veggies to put into the ratatouille (the dish of choice). Good news; we all made it out, children included, unscathed with enough vegetables for our fine dish!

Overall, the day went well and our community appreciated our efforts to bring them information about healthy living. Not only did we cook an amazing ratatouille that everyone enjoyed, but the children and their families also came away with information about physical fitness courtesy of the YMCA and suggestions about good nutrition and ideas on how to prevent diabetes from the Santa Barbara and Ventura departments of public health.

What could be better than two crossfitters, volunteerism, knives, and good food? Not much.
Here is the recipe that we used for the ratatouille (for you crossfitters, this is PALEO! minus the white beans):
*courtesy of Chef Andrea Martin of s'Cool Food

Ratatouille (makes 8 hearty portions)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 medium onions diced
3 cloves of fresh garlic chopped
1 eggplant, 1/2 inch diced
1 red bell pepper, 1/4 inch diced
1 yellow bell pepper, 1/4 inch diced
1 orange pepper, 1/4 inch diced
2 small zucchinis, 1/2 inch diced
2 small yellow squash, 1/2 inch diced
2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, chopped
2 pounds roma/plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup of dry white beans, soaked and pre-cooked (reserve two cups cooking liquid)
1 bunch of kale (was and tear into two inch pieces)
1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of sea salt to taste
1 teaspoon of pepper

1. Heat oil in heavy bottom stockpot over a low-medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
2. Add eggplant and continue cooking, stirring occasionally. When eggplant is lightly browned and tender, remove from the pot.
3. Add a little more olive oil and saute peppers until slightly tender, about 5 minutes.
4. Add zucchini, squash, and rosemary to the pepper mixture in the pot and continue sauteing until tender.
5. Add tomatoes, beans and bean cooking liquid, and the eggplant. Bring up to a boil and turn down to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Finish by adding the kale and cook until tender (about 5 minutes).
8. Add basil just before serving.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A moment in time

All I was thinking: "I can do this."

These overhead squats were heavier than 65#! Well, maybe not, but they felt like it...

The end. That is what a person looks like after the final 800 meter run at Sectionals.

95# Thrusters in the Stadium Chipper were my nemesis. I thought screaming really loudly might make them lighter (it did!).

A moment in time

I took a deep breath. Silence enveloped me in the darkness. Cement scraping my back, legs above, ground below, pressing all of my life into the pavement, I slowly raised myself hoping that my arms would be locked out at the end of the effort. Desperately I wanted to hear the judge say "6!" I only had 25 seconds left before my dream of making Regionals would come to an end...

This weekend, I participated in the Southern California Sectionals Crossfit Games Qualifier. Placing among the top twenty women would advance me to the Southwest Regional Crossfit Games Qualifier in May. My goal was to do just that, place in the top twenty.

As I participated in the first part of the second event, a year of crosfitting and a life of being an athlete flashed through my mind. It was no near-death experience, but when a dream that is so big in one's life is almost deferred, strange things go through one's mind.

I had been thinking about this workout for every waking second of my life since the events were posted. I would have to complete 4 rounds of 9 95# squat cleans and 6 handstand push-ups (to one ab mat) under 15 minutes. If I couldn't do this I could "tap out" and do regular push-ups instead, but would be automatically ranked under the girls who could complete the workout as prescribed (with the handstand push-ups). Going round and round in my mind, I decided that there would be no tapping out. Either I'd complete the workout as it should be done or get a score of DNF and not be in the running for Regionals.

The event began. The first round was tough, but I completed it in 3:45. This was the exact pace I needed to be at for each round if I wanted to go exactly 15 minutes. I needed to go faster. The second round was a blur, but I was happy that I had not failed any handstand push ups at that point. Going in to the third round my arms started to feel weak and my squat cleans were getting messy. During that round I think I failed on two handstand push ups and lost some precious time.

Then, the final round arrived. It was ugly. My squat cleans had turned into fierce power cleans/ upright rows combined with a front squat. After completing 9 of the yuckiest squat cleans of my life, I sprinted to the handstand push-up area. I did 4 handstand push ups, one at a time. On my fifth one, my feet came away from the wall and my arms gave out. I failed and would have to do it again. I looked at the clock and noticed I only had about 45 seconds left. I hurriedly shook my arms and tried for #5 one more time. I succeeded. Then I glanced at the clock again. With one handstand push-up to go, I noticed that I had about 25 seconds left. I told myself I could do it and then...

Before I kicked up into my "final" handstand, I looked to my right and saw all of my friends cheering wildly for me. I saw people who I had sweat, cried, and pushed beyond my limits with, standing there willing me to finish that handstand push-up. I could see my pain on their faces. When I kicked my legs up against the wall I thought, " I love these people and I love what crossfit has done for my life. I'm going to get this f'ing handstand push-up right now and make myself and all of these people proud at this moment in time."

So I did.

After the final handstand push up, I frantically asked my judge the time. He smiled and said 14:47.

It ended up, after 2 days and 3 ridiculously brutal events, that I earned 9th place overall at sectionals. I achieved what I set out to do and that was, and still is, a very satisfying feeling.

Today I am going on my second rest day. I can barely walk, my quads are on fire, and I am not very hungry. Last night I slept for a solid ten hours and actually dreamt for the first time in 6 months. What did I dream of? You guessed it, regionals (and Jolie Gentry was driving around looking for waterfalls with me!). Even though I am wiped out and sore, I am desperately missing the gym. I miss my friends and I miss working out there. I can't wait to get back into CFV and lift some heavy stuff. Regionals is in 53 days and will be more brutal and intense than Sectionals, but all I can think right now is, BRING IT ON!

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