Monday, October 14, 2013

Wetsuit Review: Huub Axena

The cool folks at Huub (remember, it rhymes with dude) have created another wetsuit. This one is a women’s triathlon wetsuit with top-notch flexibility and buoyancy AND it’s apparently Caroline Steffen’s favorite wetsuit.

Is it my new favorite wetsuit? No, but let me explain.

I went back and forth with the Huub people about sizing. I’m 5’11” and around 130lbs and I have a very long torso. According the Huub size chart, a medium fits women 5’2” – 5’9” of medium build who weigh 122-142lbs. ML (I’m not sure if it stands for medium-long or medium-large) fits women 5’5” – 5’11” of medium/large build who weigh 138-155lbs. And a large fits women 5’6” – 6’1” with large builds, weighing 144-166lbs. They sent me a ML suit to try. The suit wasn’t quite long enough for my torso—it pulled my shoulders down and forward into a really attractive slouch—but it was too big everywhere else.

I tested the Axena in open water first. I didn’t bother measuring a course since that protocol was questionably useful in last year’s tests. Instead, I took it for an hour-long steady cruise in a lake. That steady cruise eventually turned into a crank towards shore as thunder clouds rolled in and the sky darkened. The suit was fine for the cruise portion of my outing. I felt some water sloshing around throughout the suit, which wasn’t ideal, but it certainly didn’t destroy my enjoyment of a relaxing swim. My experience was quite different as I tried to speed up. The suit felt heavy. I became aware that water was entering through every opening—the neck, the wrists and maybe even the legs. I felt like I was pulling a parachute.

I tested the Axena in the pool using the same protocol as last year’s tests: 4 x 100 descend with no interval so I had plenty of time to dump the water out of the suit between trials. The process was unpleasant. The first 25 of each 100 was tolerable, but I picked up more and more water as I swam (partially due to flip turns) making the last 25 of each 100 more of a strength session than a smooth swim.

The results:

The features (my comments are in italics):
-X-O Skeleton for improved buoyancy in thighs and hips
-Over reach panel to reduce cross-over and maintain stroke efficiency
-Bicep Release™ for improved arm flexion (suit was too big in the arms for me)
-Calf Release™ giving the Achilles and calf muscle freedom of movement (It was also too big in the legs. While some water-collecting suits balloon out when filled with water, the Axena held its shape for the most part and the water flowed out on its own.)
-3mm exclusive upper body neoprene for comfort, stroke efficiency and un-matched flexibility
-Breakaway Zipper, the quickest in Triathlon (I still can’t quite figure this out, but I’m sure it’s easy once you get the hang of it.)
-Unique combination of lining materials (Like the other Huub suits I’ve tried, the Axena is soft and snuggly.)

The bottom line: This is a really cool suit, but it’s not for me. If you feel like the size chart describes you perfectly, I highly recommend you try it. I’ll even help you figure out how to zip yourself in and out.

To read last year's review of wetsuits, click here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Things I Eat When It's Hot

1. Chia Pudding

1 banana
1 cup almond milk
3 tbsp. chia seeds
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla

Add all ingredients to a Vitamix (or any ol’ blender) and mix until smooth. Pour into a bowl and top with fruit. I usually eat it right away because I tend to like things runny—I’ve been known to microwave ice cream to achieve optimal runniness. But if you want a thicker consistency, refrigerate it for at least 20 minutes before topping with fruit and enjoying.

2. Avocado-Lime Toasty Things

I used to love Hint O’ Lime Tostitos. I’m pretty sure they still exist, but this little creation is better, healthier and easier than going to the store.

1 brown rice tortilla
½ avocado
juice of half a lime
ground sea salt

Toast the tortilla until crisp. Top with the avocado (diced or mashed), douse with lime juice and sprinkle with sea salt. Cut into wedges for ease of eating.

3. Black Bean, Celery, Avocado, Sun-Dried Tomato Bowl

I’ve made multiple variations of this. Sometimes I use chickpeas instead of black beans. Sometimes I add green beans or any other crunchy vegetable we have on hand. And when it’s cooler, I toss in some sweet potato. I alternate between lemon and lime juice with no real method—just whatever I’m in the mood for/is available/is going to facilitate getting this food into my belly ASAP.

Some black beans, rinsed and drained (maybe ¾ of a can)
A few stalks of celery, diced
Half an avocado, diced
Some sun-dried tomatoes (maybe ¼ cup or a little less)
Juice of half a lemon

Combine all ingredients and eat.

4. Asian Stir-Raw
This one is adapted from my new favorite cookbook: “Crazy Sexy Kitchen” by Kris Carr and Chad Sarno. We’ve been making tons of stuff from this cookbook, but have been slacking on the picture front. We’ll get better.

¼ cup EVOO
1 tbsp. gluten-free tamari
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 cup orange juice
½ cup gluten-free miso (we use South River Chickpea Miso)
2 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
Broccoli florets (from a few bunches, maybe 2-3 cups-worth)
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 (or so) medium carrots, cut into match sticks
2 Portobello mushrooms, de-gilled and diced
1 cup snow peas
½ cup chopped cashews (I’m totally guessing on the quantity on this one. We added just enough to top the Stir-Raw off with some crunch.)
Quinoa (optional)

1. Combine EVOO, tamari, sesame oil, orange juice, miso, ginger and garlic in a blender and mix until smooth. Pour into a large bowl.

2. Dump the broccoli, red bell pepper, carrots, mushrooms and snow peas into the bowl with the sauce. Stir well and let the mixture marinate for at least 30 minutes.

3. We served the mixture atop quinoa and topped with chopped cashews.