Daily Archives: June 21, 2012

Riding with Women on Wheels

Hey, everyone!  Did you survive the scorcher today?  I’ve been hanging out inside—where there’s air conditioning—all day.  I wish the humidity would relent a bit; reading outside would be lovely!


This morning, I rode with Syracuse Bicycle’s Women on Wheels (WOW).  This initiative aims

“to get you to love bike riding just as much as we do by creating a safe, friendly and FUN environment.  Our hope is to build up your confidence by riding with other women and learning the basics of cycling.”

Count me in!

WOW rides take place every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday during the spring and summer, and today’s 9 a.m. meet-up marked my first ever group ride.  Trish, co-owner of Syracuse Bicycle and friend of MaryBeth, led this morning’s group.  I met her a few weeks ago at Fleet Feet and Syracuse Bicycle—the CNY athletic-types tend to flock to the same places!—so I felt much better going to the ride knowing one person.  However, I was still a little apprehensive:  how many women would be there?  How experienced would they be?  Would I be able to keep up?  I’m still new to outdoor cycling, and honestly, the sport intimidates me a little bit, but in a good way—there is so much to learn!  And this morning, my goal was to become more comfortable changing gears and become more confident riding in general.

Pulling into the Panera Bread parking lot, I started to get excited and picked up on some good vibes.  Four women comprised our group, which proved to be an ideal number—big enough so vehicles would take extra care to give us room on the shoulder, but small enough so we could talk and ride alongside one another.  Before setting out, Trish gave me a brief overview of shifting; a lot of the information I already knew—right hand controls gear in the rear, and left hand controls gear in the front, etc.—but it was beneficial to refresh my memory and review the basics.

At the beginning of the ride, Trish rode with me and talked through her shifting process.  As cyclists, we need to be constantly assessing terrain/road conditions and be cognizant of traffic, she said.  When we approached our first hill, Trish relayed exactly what she was thinking, what she was doing, and why she was doing it; as we reached the peak and cruised down the other side, she explained which adjustments I should make, when to make them, and why they were important.  This one-on-one session was exactly what I needed:  Overall, I have a good handle on the theory/technique, but I’m not 100 percent sure when it comes to execution/practice, so it was really helpful to watch and learn from a veteran in-action.

Although it was hot—the temperature slowly climbed to 90 degrees—we covered 14.6 miles in an hour and a half. (Don’t worry, I drank lots of water and applied sunscreen beforehand!)

There were a few hills, which gave me opportunities to practice changing gears.  I had a blast, and I feel much more comfortable riding and shifting.  Thanks for a great ride, ladies!  Have you ever been on an organized group bike road?  Did you enjoy it?

Mid-Morning Snack

After chugging three glasses of water, I refuel post-ride with a Chobani yogurt.


Why ruin a good thing?

I repeated last night’s dinner this afternoon.

Afternoon Snack

A few hours later, I had a homemade granola bar and a handful of blueberries.


It’s a day full of repeats.

Spicy Shrimp with Lime and Cilantro, plus roasted red peppers, broccoli, and zucchini.

And a bowl of frozen blueberries for dessert.  Bet you didn’t see that comin’!

Margaret and I are going to 5:45 a.m. spin class at the Y tomorrow morning, so it’s off to bed for me.  Good night!

5 Smart Tips to Stay Cool During Your Workout

Today marks the second official day of summer, and the heat shows no sign of relenting.  Between yesterday’s 100-degree heat index and today’s project high temperature (which is expected to notch 93 degrees, FYI), Central New York athletes face scorching conditions.  Sure, Syracuse usually averages 10 feet of snow each winter, but our scorching hot summers don’t cause the same sizzle.

However, between running timed miles at noon, attending two-a-day preseason practices, and biking 15 miles in 93-degree heat (blog post coming soon!), I’ve learned how to cope, survive, and kick some athletic bootay when the playing field feels like the Sahara Desert.  Here are five of my tips to deal with the heat.

Tip #1:  Exercise early to beat the heat


The early bird beats the sun.  The morning is usually the coolest part of the day, so it makes sense to get in an outdoor sweat session—think running, biking, or open-water swimming—before the sun comes out.  Luckily, I’m a morning person, so I usually workout first thing anyway.  Plus, starting the day with a run or spin class leaves me feeling accomplished, energized, and ready to take on the day. (Or just sloth around when it gets hot!)

Tip #2:  Hydrate adequately before, during, and after your workout


It’s easy to tell when you’re thirsty, but you should sip water well before you feel parched.  Before my morning runs, I drink at least 32 oz. of water (about two glasses); if I’m driving to a spinning class at the YMCA, I will hydrate even more.  Being dehydrated before your workout begins will hinder your overall performance.  During your workout, experts suggest drinking at least 8 oz. of water every hour.  If you’re outside or sweat bullets (like me!), you should drink even more.  Not only will you feel better, but you’ll also run faster and bike harder with the appropriate fluid intake.  Not to mention staying adequately hydrated helps regulate your body’s cooling mechanisms.  And don’t forget to keep hydrating after you’re done sweating.  Here’s a nifty way to ensure you’re getting enough water:

(I heart Pinterest.) I’m the girl who cares her water bottle everywhere, and I’ll take a few sips every 30 minutes or so.

Tip #3:  Wear light, loose-fitting clothing


The only nugget of knowledge I remember from 6th grade science class is that light colors reflect the sun’s rays while dark hues absorb them.  Likewise, smooth textures act as better reflectors than highly textured surfaces.  So what does this mean for us fitness fiends?  Wear smooth, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing.  Yes, you’ll look like a super BAMF wearing all black, but you’ll also be sweating like there’s no tomorrow.  Also, if your workout budget can afford it, I’d recommend getting gear with sports-specific synthetics; they stay drier and wick moisture better than cotton.  Here’s a roundup of Fitness magazine’s top picks.

Tip #4:  Befriend sunscreen


Thanks to my fair complexion, sunscreen and I have a long friendship. (There’s even SPF 15 in my daily moisturizer.) Applying this stuff often and liberally—even when it’s cloudy—will help protect you from skin cancer and other types of skin damage.  Active.com even says sunscreen can decrease your skin and body temperatures, so you’ll stay cooler during exercise.

Tip #5:  Be smart

Whether you’re an Ironman finisher or weekend warrior, you need to pay attention to your body, fitness levels, and weather conditions.  Although I really wanted to go to the CNY Triathlon Club training series last night, I knew it would not be a good choice given the heat index and my body’s current “triathlon fitness level” (i.e. just completed my first one seven days ago/not experienced).

What are your tips for working out in hot weather?

Almond Greek Yogurt Pancakes

Good morning, friends!  Happy almost-Friday!  There’s really no way to sugarcoat how hot it’s going to be in Central New York today.  According to one of our local news stations, the 7 a.m. temperature at Syracuse Hancock Airport read 78 degrees.  Yowsaha!  The weather people project we will come close to breaking today’s heat record of 98 degrees.  Glahhh!


Yesterday, I promised I would share my new pancake recipe with you today.


Introducing Almond Greek Yogurt Pancakes.

These flapjacks pack some serious staying power, thanks to the Greek yogurt and mix of almond and whole-wheat flours.  If you don’t have them on hand, feel free to use white, but this substitution will affect the nutritional facts.  Also, I don’t gravitate toward super sweet breakfasts–and I try to avoid sugar and artificial sweetners–so I kept the sugar at a bare minimum; adding sugar, Stevia, or Splenda won’t be an issue.


1 6-oz container vanilla Greek yogurt (I used Chobani non-fat vanilla)

1/4  cup almond flour

1/4  cup whole-wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 heaping tbsp. sliced almonds

pinch of salt

3 tbsp. liquid egg whites (if you don’t want to use egg whites, this equates to one egg)

1/2 tsp. almond extract

1 tsp. honey


1.  Empty the yogurt container into a medium bowl and stir until it’s smooth and creamy.

2.  Add dry ingredients (flours, baking soda, sliced almonds, and salt).  Stir together very gently.

3.  In a separate bowl, add egg whites (or crack and whisk egg).  Add wet ingredients (almond extract and honey).  Stir to combine.

4.  Pour wet mixture into the Greek yogurt-flour mixture. Stir together gently.

5.  Spray a non-stick pan or griddle with cooking spray and set temperature to medium-high heat.  Spoon the batter onto the griddle. The batter will be thick, so spread it with a spoon to shape pancakes.
6.  After about 2-3 minutes, flip the pancakes when they start to bubble on the surface.  Let the other side cook until golden broken, about 1-2 minutes.

7.  Top pancakes with syrup, fruit, or desired toppings.

Makes six medium-sixed pancakes:  489 calories in recipe; 81.5 calories per pancake. (244.5 per serving of three)

I topped my pancakes with fresh cantaloupe and fat-free whipped cream.  These flavors and textures work nicely together.

Stay cool today, everyone!