What’s an athlete blog without a cookie post?

It’s the holiday season and while that can mean time out of a normal routine and the chance for a longer training day or two, it’s also a time for good food!

Enter: Orange Pecans Cookies!

This recipe is very scrumptious and very simple with pecans and orange zest flavors leading the way.  By default the recipe is gluten free, dairy free, soy free, low fodmap, and has very few ingredients which is always a good thing!

Our thanks to Julie at Calm Belly for allowing us to post this recipe, albeit with a small adaption. Her recipe was adapted from this one at Self magazine, which was adapted from somebody’s grandmother’s mother’s aunt years ago. 🙂 But seriously Julie, thanks for the great recipe.

Orange Pecan Cookies – Yum!

Prep time: 15 mins (plus chilling)
Cook time: 15 mins Total time: 40 mins
Makes: 14 to 15 cookies

2 cups (225 grams) pecans
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 large or extra large egg whites
1/4 cup white rice or brown rice flour*
Zest of 1 naval orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp sea salt
Cooking spray or coconut oil for lining parchment paper/baking sheets

*For paleo option omit flour, see Julie’s recipe

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spread pecans on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until fragrant and lightly toasted, 7 to 8 minutes, stirring them around about halfway through. Cool completely. You can do this ahead of time. Keep in the freezer if not going to use them for a couple of days. Continue reading “What’s an athlete blog without a cookie post?”

Athlete Timmy J on getting high

Canadian Timmy J has set a high goal for 2018, that’s 19,341ft high and in the name of Kilimanjaro. Timmy, a 8 X Solvang Camp athlete and 15 X Ironman finisher, is no stranger to big mountains and digging deep when it matters. We were lucky enough to catch up with Timmy J, as he and his wife Dawn prepare to embark on another mountain adventure, this time on the African continent.

Thanks to Timmy J for sharing below… he had us laughing and inspired all at the same time with this write up. See you at the Spring Fling Camp in March Timmy, look forward to hearing if Dawn complies with your Kilimanjaro plan!

1. Kilmanjaro. A 19,341ft mountain. Has this been on your bucket list for some time?
So the “bucket list goal”, was to complete all 7 summits. We have summited 3 so far. South America’s Aconcagua, Australia’s Kosciusko and North America’s Denali. Kilimanjaro, continent of Africa, requires no real mountaineering skills, it’s a trek to the top but also has a very high failure rate. Many people grossly underestimate the endurance required to climb above 19,000 feet.

Timmy J on ‘The Fig’ (Figueroa Mountain climb in Solvang) at his 9th Solvang camp.

2. What’s your training like right now to prepare for this adventure?
Since discovering Ironman 15 years ago, I have completed at least one a year. I love the tri community, being really fit and the lifestyle that affords me… so the aerobic base is there. There is also the learned capacities of nutrition, hydration and how to suffer and keep moving forward.

3. You’ve raced many Ironman’s including the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, but what’s the highest summit you have already experienced?
Well here’s the thing about Kona. I got the crap kicked out of me by the men on the swim and just when I thought all was going to be ok, the women (15 minutes later) started swimming over top of me.

In his favorite role of grandfather :). Timmy J shown here with one of his 4 grandkids.

The bike was into the wind for 7 hours, not sure how that worked on an out and back course. While in T2 could not figure out where I was and why ‘ Gumby’ had mysteriously taken over my body. With my hat in my hand I staggered out onto the run course and though, “I’m totally whipped, how can I finish this thing…”?

Maybe a thousand vertical feet from the summit of Aconcagua a giant rock overhangs the path. It’s a place of shelter to eat, drink and rest a bit before moving on. Our guide probably let us stay there too long and once he gave us the go ahead, only half of our team pushed on, the rest threw in the towel and turned back. Without supplementary oxygen it’s three steps forward, stoop over my climbing poles and breath as deeply as I could for five breaths – repeat.

Then I remember having this sort of fluffy dream and then being rudely kicked… I had passed out and Dawn was encouraging me with her boots to wake up.

Continue reading “Athlete Timmy J on getting high”

Transitioning to Indoor Training

How to train inside and not lose your mind or motivation
by Coach Mike Ricci

Coach Mike working with an athlete on swim video review in Solvang last year

While many athletes will grind out miles on the trainer and treadmill over the course of the winter, I like to take the opposite approach. Unless you really love to sit on your bike seat and ride in place, and have lots of time to do so, I think your time could be spent more wisely, during the winter.

There are 3 different types of energy systems I like to see athletes access during the off-season. The first energy system is Tempo or Zone 3.

Mike with athletes post ride at our camp headquarters

The second system is Threshold or Zone 4, and the last set is VO2 and Zone 5. The mix of workouts below will give you a taste of each energy zone and by the time the winter months are over, you’ll have some new found fitness and you’ll be ready to hit the race season with great power!


Here are a few of my favorite trainer and treadmill workouts for the off-season:

Easy 10-15 minute warm up, then go right to the bike.
Warm up of 15 minutes and then 5×1 minute hard with 1 minute easy in between, followed by 5 minutes easy. That’s 30 minutes total warm up.
After bike warm up, go right into:
5×3 minutes @ 90% of FTP [Functional Threshold Pace] or Zone 4 HR, with 3 minute recovery – after this main set, you’ll jump onto the treadmill for 3×3 minutes with 3 minutes’ recovery, at LT [Lactate Threshold] and 10k pace. After the last set, move right back to the bike again.
2nd round will be:
5 minutes easy on the bike and then 5×2 minutes at 95-100% of FTP with 2 minute recovery, and after this main set, you’ll jump onto the treadmill for 3×2 minutes at LT+ and 5k pace.
Finish up with an easy 5 minutes.

Total workout is 2:10 minutes, including warm up and all the main sets in this workout. Continue reading “Transitioning to Indoor Training”

Gear review – Staff Tim Murakami and his go-to Bibs!

Pactimo Alpine Thermal RT Bib Shorts – Gear review from Solvang staff crew and hill-climber-cyclist-extraordinaire,  Tim Murakami!

Fall is here and odds are this is the time of year when you have to consider staying warm on training rides regardless of the climate you live in, and if you don’t, well you’re living the dream.

The Pactimo Alpine RT (reflective technology) Thermal Bib is just the piece of kit that will accommodate that need.

Tim racing the ‘Barry Roubaix’ in the Bibs!

It is one of the most versatile pieces of cycling gear I own, and has been exceptional in conditions ranging from sub 40 degree, raining and windy gravel races to an atypically cool 60 degree ride to Jalama Beach with Solvang Triathlon Camps (they’re typically in the mid 70 – 80 degrees) but hey, the ride was still phenomenal.

Cold Rides
The Apline RT Thermal Bib is fleece lined throughout, including the braces which add an extra layer of warmth from the lower back up to the shoulders. They are the one of the best fitting pair of bibs I own, running true to size with excellent muscle support and with ample compression around the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps. Continue reading “Gear review – Staff Tim Murakami and his go-to Bibs!”

Athlete Michelle Hildebrand’s top 6 takeaways from Kona

Thanks to athlete Michelle Hildebrand for this great read on some of the nitty gritty race specifics of racing in the prestigious Ironman World Championships!

All of us here at Solvang Tri Camps have been honored to see Michelle’s progression from her first Solvang camp in 2009, through to her 6th camp earlier this year. Her determination and dedication to her Kona goal was an inspiration and something we all suspected would be on the cards in due time!

Congratulations Michelle on achieving your goal of qualifying for and racing in Kona, very well deserved!

Michelle Hildebrand’s top 6 takeaways from Kona


1. The environment on race morning is indescribable so take the time to look around and soak in the small things like seeing the pros bikes in transition, walking down the red carpet steps into the water while listening to the drums, and looking back at the sea wall full of spectators before the swim start.

2. Racing in the Ironman World Championships is almost more mental than physical because of the long stretches of nothingness and lava along the Queen K on the bike and run that don’t provide the mental change up that other courses provide. I expected the heat and wind but not the mental challenge this course threw at me.

3. The extra aid stations on the bike are a godsend for getting extra bottles of water to keep cool but the length of the aid stations on the run is almost a curse because walking the entire aid stations eats badly into your run pace.

4. The run is hot but for those of us finishing over 10 hours, the energy lab and return trip to town are not too bad because the sun is starting to go down.

5. The wind on the bike is as bad as you’ve heard in spots but keep telling yourself that the wind is your friend and eventually you’ll start to feel it push you along.

6. The last mile of the run going down Palani, through town and down the finisher chute in Kona is as amazing as you can imagine!