Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Amrita Bar Review

Thanks to the world that is Twitter, I have discovered a lot of new things.  One of the most important to my current training and racing nutrition, though, is the amazing Amrita endurance bar.


I can't remember who started it, but someone tweeted about Amrita (perhaps @ZenTriathlon?), who was then followed by @CaratunkGirl, then @Tristachelete...all raving about how wonderful they were and what chaos ensued when they ran out.  Always in search of a REAL FOOD fueling option, I decided to check them out (the bars, not the athletes!).

As a Paleo endurance athlete, I've always been on the lookout for a convenience food for training and racing that was made from real food.  More recently I've concentrated on becoming more fat-adapted and gave up commercial sports drinks, bars and gels (virtually all of which are NOT Paleo) in favor of coconut oil, almond butter, some fruit, coconut water and salt stick caps.  I still needed something with a little more carbs to sprinkle throughout long rides and training sessions, and Amrita Bars fit the bill!

I LOVE the fact that these bars are dairy, gluten and soy free.  I also LOVE that they are Plant-Based Nutrition (a nod to ultra-endurance athlete and vegan Rich Roll for making me more aware of the benefits of a plant-based diet) and suitable for vegan or raw athletes as well.  The protein comes from raw sprouted brown rice protein and there is a tiny bit of agave in there, but in some Paleo/Primal camps these can be acceptable.  And really, if that's the worst thing in these bars, what's there to worry about?

I originally ordered a small package of Pineapple Chia, Mango Coconut, and the Chocolate Maca Recovery bars.  At first I thought the taste of the pineapple chia was a bit odd, but it has come to be one of my favorites.  The mango coconut is divine.  My coach is getting on me about fueling enough during longer rides, so I will usually break up two bars (one of each flavor for variety) and put the pieces in a ziploc in my bento box to grab easily (I am not coordinated enough to open a packaged bar mid-ride...seriously).  They are satisfying and sit well on my stomach.  Back them up with a little coconut water and you have a great nutrition option!

Last weekend, I went to grab a bar for a ride and they were all gone.  Now I know what the fuss is about.  They very quickly became my go-to fuel, and I about had a fit when I ran out.  So I ordered 36 this time - 12 each of the Cranberry Raisin, Apple Cinnamon, and my new fave, Pineapple Chia.  Mango coconut will make it back into the rotation next time.  Amrita offers a sample pack as well - so if you are on the fence or don't know what flavor to get, start with the sampler and go from there.

A couple of words on their customer service - freaking amazing.  Orders are processed at lightning speed, and they ship via Priority Mail which means I will get my order in Hawaii in just a few days (THANK YOU FOR THAT AMRITA- shipping to Hawaii is almost always a nightmare or ridiculously expensive - I really appreciate that you use USPS Priority).

Now...cost.  Yes, these are a little bit more expensive than your average endurance bar or fuel, but it is worth every penny.  It's REAL FOOD, folks, and REALLY GOOD.  Since I'm not buying other sports drinks or gels I feel like the cost evens out.  And you want to put quality food in your body - not something you cannot pronounce or makes you feel like crap.

Get some and see for yourself!  AMRITA HEALTH FOODS

Amrita Health Foods did not supply any products or request this review.  I am just a very happy customer and want to help them get the word out.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Cycle to the Sun...

...and other new developments!

So what does any self-respecting triathlete do when she gets shut out of the two 70.3's she wanted to race in 2013?  Signs up for one of the toughest road bike races out there!  I'm so excited!

So excited, in fact, that I even got myself a coach. Although I've had reasonable success coaching myself through three triathlons and countless running races, cycling is still a relatively new sport to me.  And over the last few years it has always been in the back of my mind that I could probably do a LOT better if I had someone who really knew what they were doing taking charge of my training.

For CTS, there was no other option in my mind.  Training for a standard road race or triathlon to finish is fairly straight forward.  If you have some reasonable knowledge of endurance sports, are fairly self-motivated and can follow directions, there are thousands of "canned" plans that will take you through your races.  In triathlon training, I'd pick a plan then basically follow the "hours" recommended for each discipline.  I didn't really do (OK, I did zero) interval training, outside of swim sessions with my masters group.  I just S/B/R'd and hoped for the best.

Where it gets dicey is when you are going to be climbing straight up a mountain for several hours with a 10,000ft+ elevation gain.   And I knew I couldn't do it alone.  So far I think having a coach is AWESOME, and here's why it's working for me:
  • It eliminates a lot of trial and error - I have a relatively short training window (the ride is June 29) so I need to maximize my training time and do the sessions that are going to get me up that hill (and I really know very little about the mechanics of a cycling training program).
  • It's HUGE to have my workouts planned for me - I don't have to think about it...just do it.
  • Although I've used a Garmin for a couple of years now, it was really for amusement purposes only and to get a guideline on time, distance and heart rate.  Now it provides useful information for my coach and guidelines for me to consider during workouts.
The big thing, though, is that it made me realize, almost from the beginning, that I never pushed myself hard enough in workouts before.  She is making me work HARD (and sometimes I swear during interval sessions), but I get off my bike every time with a sense of accomplishment.  I'm feeling stronger and stronger all the time.

I have two goals for this race right now:
  • The "A" goal - finish in around 5 hours.
  • The "B" goal - not to finish last.

I'll share more of my thoughts on having a coach in future posts, including why I picked mine.  If you want to get to know her, check out Simmons Endurance Coaching.

More soon!