So I signed up for the Silver Strand half marathon a couple of weeks ago. My first real race since May. I haven’t done any serious triathlon training since mid July and I have more or less only been running.  I have never taken a six month hiatus from racing before and jumped back into it with a long distance race.  Ugh. Half marathons are a persnickity distance. I usually start breaking down at the 9 mile mark and it is usually at that point i remind myself that I should never race longer than a 15k.  I typically suffer through the pain, lose a couple of places, finish. Then I wait a few days, forget about those last 4 miles, and start looking for another one to race.

My coach and I had a discussion about pre-race food a week or so before the race.  Kurt is a renouned coach as well as an accomplished nordic skier, cyclecross and triathlon racer. And a closet chef. He convinced my that a high glycemic breakfast 24 hours before the race would be the best thing for topping off my glycogen stores.  Hmmmm, said the foodie in me. A white bagel? Bisquick pancakes?  Frosted Flakes?  Ugh….

Inspired by the autumn season (okay, I live in San Diego now, but there are flecks of gold and spots of russet admist the flora and fauna), I decided that Pumpkin Pancakes would be the day before-top-off-the-glycogen-stores meal that would carry me through this crazy race.  I was laughing inside because, given my non existent-to-light training over the last 4 months,  I don’t know if I have actually done anything to deplete my glycogen stores.  But I went with the theory.

The day before the race, I rose at 5:00 a.m., went on my last short “shake out the legs” 25 minute run. Came back and fired up pumpkin pancakes with pepitas (pumpkin seeds-which contain alot of iron) real maple syrup (I probably don’t really need to qualify that with “real”) and sliced banana. It occured to me that pomegranite seeds would make a beautiful garnish as well as give a nod to the antioxidant bandwagon that we all seem to be on these days. Pancakes came out great–throughout the course of the day I also managed to eat a sesame bagel and a ciabatta roll (how’s that for high glycemic fodder?), a GT Kombocha, 2 bananas, a large bowl of stirfried brown rice, tofu, egg and vegetables, a cup of tomato-based seafood stew, a clif builder bar, and probably a total of 8 oz of really good craft beer as I was sampling beers that day-my day job hazard). I chuckled at the thought of my mostly “brown and beige” food intake.

Race day came and started the day with green tea and soymilk, 1 cup of organic applesauce and a 2 piece of brown rice bread with raw almond butter and my best freind Jessica’s homemade strawberry jam. I had a banana and a ginormous coffee with soymilk about 1 hour before the race.  Just before the 7:30 start, I lined up at the front of pack and waited for the gun to go off.

In typical fashion, I felt great but had a feeling I was going out too fast as I did not see another woman around me. Oh s*&@, here we go.  At mile 3, a bike rider positioned himself just in front of me and he told me that he was the “lead female escort”. Pretty cool, I thought, I get an escort. Let’s see how long this will last.  A pack of men passed me at the 5.5 mile point. I knew I was slowing down but was still in the lead. I hit mile 9 and felt like laying down on the side of the road but I didn’t want to lose the lead. Or the cool escort!
This is where my Ironman experience paid off. At many points of long distance racing, especially triathlon, you hurt. But then you push through it and you feel better.  I knew that when I hit mile 11 there would be a slight downhill and a tailwind. But I was dying. At the turnaround I saw the second place female who was 40 seconds behind me. And THEN it was only 2 miles. I made a decision that I was going to dig deep and give it my all (not always the case with me late in a race). There was no way I was going to lose this one. I tend to draw alot of energy from a crowd, and knew that there would be alot of people on the last 1/2 mile of the course. So in my skewed calculations I called it “a mile and a half left”.  I told myself “for 13 minutes you can do anything” and I ran as fast as I could. As I got closer to the finish, I repeated the mantra only dropping the number to 12. 11. 10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3….and then I saw the finish.  I crossed the line. In first place. Wow.

Was it the pumpkin pancakes? I’ll take those over Frosted Flakes any day!

Pumpkin Pancakes

Note This recipe makes 12 to 15 pancakes. You can cut recipe in half or freeze any uneaten pancakes for an “on the fly” breakfast down the road


Ingredients

•    2 Cups Spelt or All Purpose Flour
•    1.5 tsp Baking Powder
•    ½ tsp Baking Soda
•    1 Tbsp Pumpkin Spice
•    3 Tbsp Ground Flax Seed
•    ¼ tsp Sea Salt
•    1 Egg plus 2 Egg whites, lightly beaten
•    ¾ Cup Organic Canned Pumpkin
•    1.5  Cup Soy Milk (or any type)
•    1 tsp vanilla extract
•    6 Tbsp  Agave Nectar or Grade B Maple Syrup
•    Cooking Spray
•    Pepitas, Sliced Banana, Maple Syrup and Pomegranite Seeds

Preparation
In a large bowl, whisk together Flour, Baking Flour, Baking Soda, Flax Seed, Pumpkin Spice and Sea Salt.  In a medium bowl, beat Egg and Egg whites until frothy. Whisk in Yogurt, Milk, Vanilla Extract, Pumpkin  and Agave Nectar or Maple Syrup.
Coat griddle or skillet (preferable non stick) lightly with cooking spray.  Preheat griddle on medium heat and lower to medium-low heat. Combine the egg/milk mixture with flour mixture into large bowl.  Stir just enough to incorporate—batter will have lumps!  If you overmix the batter, the pancakes will be tough. Ladle 3-4 oz batter (about ¼ Cup) onto cooking surface.  Cook until bubbles formed on top of pancake just start to pop (about 1:15-1:30 minutes) Flip with Spatula and cook on other side until golden brown for about the same length of time.  You can hold pancakes in a warm oven (200-225 degrees) while you cook the rest.

Serve with Pepitas, Banana, Maple Syrup and Pomegranite Seeds