Monthly Archives: February 2005

2/28/05 Week 8 check in (253)

Good Monday all. Well it is 8 weeks already into this program, amazing huh? I think 8 weeks is long time — at least it feels like I have been doing this awhile. Sorry to have to break the positive reporting winning streak, but I am up .5 pounds this week. So that brings my total down to 16. Do not fear, I am not alarmed. It is water weight and part of a natural cycle. I am confident that by Friday, it will be gone. I had a very good week on plan and tons of exercise — the only thing that was lacking was my water consumption. On more than one day I missed my mark with that and I think I was dehydrated a couple of times. So this week the focus will be to drink a minimum of 64 oz of water plus extra water for each workout.

Water — the miracle fluid. 65% of our bodies are made up of water (I looked it up and it seems everyone agrees it is somewhere between 60 and 70%). Interestingly enough, 70% of the planet is covered in ocean. Isn’t that amazing? There is more water covering the planet surface than dry land?

A typical body at rest loses 40 ounces of water a day. That’s without doing anything. If you are sweating a lot, or it is hot and dry out, you’ll lose more. My apartment is very dry, I think it sucks the water out of my body. That’s why 64 ounces should be the bare minimum for me.

If you think about all the things water does in your body, it is shocking we don’t pay more attention to it. It regulates our body temperature through sweat, it helps our deliver important nutrients into our cells and it helps in eliminating waste. One of the things doctors recommend to help with diverticulitis is to increase water intake. Did you know that muscle cells are about 75% water? If you don’t have enough water, your muscles won’t perform as well. Amazing, and still we don’t drink enough. (Oh, yeah, coffee and wine DON’T count!! geesh, you had to ask?)

I remember reading in Lance Armstrong’s book that he figured out early on how important water is, he figured if lack of water gave him a headache he better drink it. Simple logic, if you don’t have water you don’t think as clearly, you can’t rid your body of toxins, you won’t sleep well and you will look terrible too. Every cell of your body including your skin which covers, well gee, 100% of your body, needs water. So why won’t we drink more of it? It’s free after all.

If there was a infomercial for an amazing product that would make you feel and look years younger, make you feel energized and proven to help you lose weight for only $29.95 most people would buy it in a heartbeat. How stupid would they feel when they opened up the box and found a plain bottle of water inside?

What’s the number one thing a doctor tells you to do when you have the flu? Drink lots of fluids!! It’s helps your body fight back. It helps to flush the toxins and viruses from your system. If you think about it, it is the most amazing substance. Even food that we eat — fruits, vegetables — they all need water to grow. They are also made up of mostly water. Water is the life force and we ignore it.

A women on Oprah who had turned into a fitness maven at 50 (and looks fabulous) says she drinks 1 gallon a day. I can shoot for that, but I can’t promise it. I can promise 64 oz. I have 3 workouts today — Rhonda at 10, Spin at noon (followed by a 10 minute run), and tonight I have swim practice. I should be drinking an extra 4 oz of water for every 15 minutes of cardio. Let’s say that is 2.5 hours today or and extra 40 oz of water!!!! Guess what that comes to? 104 oz, just a little less than a gallon. Whew, that’s a lot of water — better get sipping!!!! I’m just going to carry a water bottle with me to the gym for now on and keep sipping throughout my workout. If you need me, I’ll be in the loo.


“The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.”Tagore

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2/27/05 The Bend in the Road (254)

Guten Morgen jeder! I know you are all dying to know how I did yesterday (right?!?!) LOL. Well, I did fine. I did the race in a 12:03 which is my personal best for a 4 mile race. The biggest accomplishment, however, is I did the race without one stitch of knee pain. Nothing, nada. As scheduled, Steph and I ran from the Bethesda terrace in Central Park at 72nd street up to the race start (2 miles) we had a bit of a wait (about 30 minutes) but we had fun watching the men’s race finish. We did the race (4 miles) and then we ran down the last two miles to make our total mileage 8. I really only ran 7 of the total 8. I had to walk up some of the hills after the race. Then when I started running again, that’s when my hamstring started to cramp which caused my calf to tighten which caused my knee to pull a little. But the last mile was pretty much straight downhill so I was able to do it. I know it was a start/stop kind of mileage, but to me that doesn’t matter, I put in the mileage — that’s all I promised to do. I didn’t say it was going to be pretty or efficient.

So that’s it for races until April 3rd when I’ll do the Scotland 10k (6.2 miles). Last year I did that race in a 12:37. This year I am shooting for an 11:45. I have 4 full weeks of additional training and possible weight loss before the race. Here is my upcoming training sched.

Mondays — 10 a.m. upperbody/core workout with Rhonda, 12 p.m. spin class, 7 p.m. swim GTS 3 hrs.
Tuesdays — 3-4 mile speed workout. Morning. p.m. tennis practice 1.5 hr.
Wednesday — a.m. Teach 2 hour tennis clinic. P.M. GTS whatever Scott cooks up probably 4-5 miles & his Core workout 1.5 hrs
Thursdays — solo swim — easy 50 minute with jacuzzi stretch and steam 1 hr.
Fridays — March 4th – 9 miles, March 11 – 10 miles, March 18 – 11 miles, March 25th – 12 miles will become rest day beginning April 3rd 2-2.5 hours
Saturday – GTS bike & Core Workout – 1-2 hours.
Sunday Rest Day — until the 10k on April 3rd and then the 1/2 marathon on April 10th.

So we are looking at about 10-11 hours of workouts per week right now (I’m not really counting the tennis — it’s not really a workout it is more just time on my feet). This is full training schedule for me — “in season” if you will. It will stay like this through end of May. Then I’ll back off to probably 7 hours a week until the marathon training starts.

What usually ends up happening is every other week or so, I take an extra day off if I feel tired. The swim workouts are very relaxing for me. I don’t feel they are the same as running. Running is the only thing that makes me feel like i’ve “WORKED OUT.” After running 8 miles yesterday I felt that was a hard work out. But, honestly, 8 weeks ago 3 miles felt like a hard work out. It’s all relative and it depends how much I’ve been doing. The more you do, the stronger you get so the more you can do. It is just like a circular staircase — you start at the bottom and keep spiraling up until event day. Then, you back down, relax a little and then start up again.

Everything is relative to your last workout. If I haven’t worked out in a couple of weeks, I would have no problem doing a brisk walk for 40 minutes just to get going. People really undervalue a good brisk walk (in good form!). I always look for the newbies during the tri workouts who have to stop and walk. I always run up to them and say “nothing wrong with walking but do it with dignity. Don’t just hang your arms at your side in defeat. You are just trying to get your heart rate back into the right zone so put your arms back up to 90 degrees and walk briskly.” Once they start doing that, everything about them changes. Their dejected faces become engaged with purpose. Their posture straightens up. Within a minute they try to run again. If I had a penny for every time I’ve had to walk during a workout or a race, I would be meeting with my financial advisor tomorrow instead of Rhonda. Nothing wrong with the walk.

I know my 12 minute mile is slow to much of the running world (anything above 10 is considered on the slow side) but to me 12:03 was a very good race. I felt strong, healthy and I had endurance. That’s what counts. I did well for me. I can be really happy at the same time that my friend did a 10 minute mile race as well as my friend who does an 8. The wonderful part is those friends are happy for me too. The world of running I live in is truly an egalitarian society. Just because you run faster you aren’t considered “better.” Maybe among the elites they have a different point of view, but in my world we don’t care. When anyone has a PR (personal record) or PB (personal best) everyone gets excited. It’s one big group adrenaline rush. “So and so did a whatever” will get everyone excited. The numbers don’t matter, the fact that you are improving is what we care about. It is like a little drug of hope we feed one another.

I remember when I started with the New York Road Runners running classes. They would have us do 8 minute running, 3 minute walking. Then 12 running, 1 walking. Finally the class got to 30 minutes consecutive running. Everyone was excited — I think we were all doing 15 minute miles — it didn’t matter. Most of us could speed walk faster, who cares? We ran consecutively for 30 minutes. That’s all we cared about. What the intermediate class was doing was their business — we were the advanced beginners and we cared about what we were doing. And everyone supported everyone else. You’d find someone at your level and push each other. Sometimes you would hang onto your friend for support. Sometimes you were the support. And, if you missed a class, everyone was concerned!

I love this world because everyone is invited to the party. Everyone can celebrate fitness at whatever level they are. To someone who has never exercised, my schedule looks like a lot. But the moment that person gets off the couch and starts a 20 minute walk — they become the role model to the person who is still sitting on the couch. I look to people who do pushups and 10 minute miles as my role model. They look to someone else. I will get to my goal, it will take a while, but I’m here for the long haul — I’m not going anywhere else. The beauty of this journey is it takes a long and twisting road with plenty of scenery and breathtaking views. And, once you round a bend, you always find something unexpected.


“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” Martin Buber

ooooohhhhhh……. spooooooky

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2/26/05 The Diet Wars (255)

Brrrr Saturday, anyone feel like running 8 miles with me in 30 degree weather? No, well, I don’t blame you. Unfortunately I concocted this big training plan and Stephanie agreed to do it so she’ll be here at 7:30 to join me. Word of caution, if you don’t want to work out, DON’T invite someone along, hmmm, I guess the opposite is true too hey? 🙂

So yesterday went to my weight watchers meeting and they confirmed my earlier weigh in at home, I was down 2.8 that’s a total of 16.8. Just to remind you of how this is working, Monday is the official weigh in. That comes first — I started ww online before I started going to the meetings. The Friday weigh in is just my confirmation weigh in from WW which I started 2 weeks into the program. I think the reason the numbers are in synch is because the starting number they had was too high. That day I was literally soaking wet — so it was water weight — just on the outside. It just so happens that they agree from week to week about my weekly weight loss — which is good. (Last year I was going to throw out my scale because I thought it was broken because it wouldn’t move!!! LOL)

Someone said something to me at the meeting yesterday that bugged me so I figured I would mention it here (my therapeutic outlet). Towards the end of the meeting I said something (can’t even remember what sparked it) and then a women spoke up and said to me “well, you’re too strict, you better start having some treats or you’ll go off. I like flex because I can eat anything I like. I went out last night and had a very delicious dinner in a restaurant with my husband because he was celebrating his promotion and it was no big deal because I could just count points.” I was surprised she said that and it kind of got ignored because 5 other people were trying to make points about something (very animated meeting yesterday!) The comment upset me because I found it kind of accusatory — “well, you better…” So I was thinking about it on my way home. Several points came to me (I’m always have a quick retort — 3 hours later!)

First, I don’t have anything to “go off.” I am eating the way nature intended me to eat. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish. I’ve never felt healthier and more satisfied with my eating. I feel very balanced and in control.

Second, I have treats. I have never given up my wine. And, as a matter of fact, just last night I treated myself to a fat-free sugar-free chocolate pudding for dessert. I also had popcorn for a snack yesterday because I was hungry and wanted some bulk — I ate a whole bag — no big deal. But yesterday’s menu also included: Breakfast, oatmeal with a cup of mixed berries and 2 breakfast links. Lunch: real crabmeat (a lot), avocado and tomato salad. Snack: Big bag of 94% fat free popcorn. 2nd Snack: Hot peaches (were frozen) with cinnamon and fat free yogurt. Dinner: Brown Rice, sauteed in sesame oil with onions, mushrooms, SNOW PEA PODS (like 2 cups! and are they good!) and plenty of shrimp — with some soysauce and hotsauce. To top it off fat free chocolate pudding. Nothing in my menu feels like a diet of deprivation to me. So I didn’t have any bread, I didn’t even think of having any bread. I got in whole grains, plenty of fruit and veggies, protein, a little fat, some dairy. I went to bed feeling very satisfied and not deprived. I didn’t have any wine the last couple of days but just because I was eating at home and I didn’t think of it.

Third, I have a goal. I am running the NEW YORK CITY MARATHON in 255 days. I am not hauling this weight around with me for 26.2 miles. I’m not dilly dallying (excuse the profanity) around with this project. I want 40 pounds off this body by November. I’ve already taken off 16. I’m aware that I’m not going to lose 2 pounds a week without ever having a slump so I am anticipating that the weight loss will probably slow down. But I’m confident I will lose 40 by November. I have a specific and definite goal.

Fourth, I eat out 3 times a week in a restaurants and I don’t need flex points to do it. I’m becoming pretty good at it. I might be annoying to my friends, but I can usually find stuff on the menu to order. I may have to order 16 appetizers, but I’m willing to do that. Most restaurants offer options for people who are trying to eat healthily. So I order a fresh piece of fish and some salad. What’s the big deal? Okay maybe I’m not ready to run off to have Thai or Indian food yet. If that’s the only sacrifice I have to make right now, I’m not too worried about it.

So there, that’s telling her right? I’m so surprised how many people following Flex seem to resent the Core plan. It almost seems like they think we are heretics or something. We just hate to count! No big deal. Our sacrifice is pretty much that everything we eat has to be unprocessed. The moment you start throwing in partially hyrdogenated oils or the evil high fructose corn syrup — it’s not on the core list so we have to use our cherished 35 points for it and to me it is not worth it.

I think people pick their diet plan and defend it like religion. Atkins, Zone, South Beach, Sugar Busters, Carbohydrate Life Span Plan (let me tell you, that’s a bunch of zealots if I’ve ever seen one!) Well we all have to be kind of zealous in order for it to work. There are a lot of similarities to finding a weight loss plan and following it and finding a religion and following it. You have to believe, you have to have devotion and you have be willing to defend it. This is how America was started wasn’t it?

Anyway, my soapbox is getting a little soggy and I’m afraid I might drop through it. I feel much better now that I got to vent to all of you. It wasn’t something I felt I needed to have an argument about with that woman because I realize with someone like that, no amount of arguing is going to make her believe that I am not sitting at home white-knuckled and fighting the desire to open a bag of potato chips. Oh my God, I totally forgot about potato chips — haven’t thought about them in awhile. Wow, that’s progress, no?

So I know I have a long way to go — enlightenment is a state of mind not a destination. And this really journey is about more than just the 40 pounds. This is about learning to live — to live a happy and healthy life in my own body. To learn how to treat my body with the care and attention it needs and deserves. To become fit. If I become one of those people who get up every morning and run 5 miles to the gym to workout and order soy shakes for lunch and I look totally ripped and I’m strong and can climb mountains and take up karate, hey, I’ll take it. Someone else can have the chips.

I have to go get ready for my 8 mile run with Steph. We are starting at 72nd street, running up to the race start at 102nd street. (2 miles) Then we are doing the 4 mile Snowflake race with New York Road Runners (4 miles) and then we are running back down to 72nd street (2 miles). Then we’ll go to Georgio’s for our traditional after race breakfast!! (Which will be my 3rd or 4th meal).

This morning I had my oatmeal with 1 cup of mixed berries, 2 breakfast links (2pts). At 7:30 I will drink a Spiru-tein protein shake (5 pts) which might get through the race. I will have, however, a cliff bar (5 pts) in my pocket in case I find myself needing more energy to get through the race. I won’t count the points of the protein shake or the cliff bar because WW would give me something like 19 points for 104 minutes of high intensity activity. So that’s how I work out the exercising. I only use activity points for food that sustains that particular workout. I don’t use those points to then go have a piece of cake. The system seems to be working for me. Tune in tomorrow for race results!


A dear friend sent me a lovely card the other day and I would like to share the quote from that with you:

“The woman who truly intends to live a good life is already living phenomenally, since intent is a part of the achievement.”
Maya Angelou

Go Maya!

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2/25/05 Waking Up (256)

Friday, good morning. Another lovely “little” snow storm hit last night. Couple of inches in Manhattan at least.

I was so exhausted yesterday that I went to bed at 8 and woke up at 4:30. Usually I stay up until 10 and sometimes 11:30 if I’m watching or reading something good. (The 4:30 part is not so unusual). But last night I just couldn’t keep my eyes open — instead of flopping in front of the tv, I just went to bed. I had very little sleep the rest of the week — lot’s of stupid stuff on my mind. I’m glad I had a good catch up, ’cause tomorrow is a big run day and I’ll be needing my energy.

So Friday is Feelings day and I have been working really hard all week at fighting negative thoughts. I think I mentioned last week in a blog somewhere about making that a goal. I’m surprised at how often they are still creeping in there. But, I think I was fairly successful in forcing myself to say something positive every time a negative crept in. I feel a little stronger today — sleep helps. Of course, I had a few inspirational moments this week as well and those helped too.

Of course hanging with my friend on Wed. was inspirational to me. I took her demonstration of determination to heart. I wrote about her in yesterday’s blog so I won’t repeat today.

On Wednesday night I went out with a small group to Patsy’s after practice and I happened to sit next to two women — one on my right and one across from me. Most of the people are already used to my ordering soup and salad every week, but the woman to my right asked about it. I make no bones about it and tell anyone who asks that I’m doing Weight Watchers. (I figure it helps me be accountable). She turned to me and said “really? I used to weigh over 200 lbs, and Weight Watchers helped me lose 50 pounds.” I almost fell off my chair. I couldn’t believe she said that. She was in such good shape! She said that she had lost 40 in 2001 and had been battling with the last 10 for the last couple of years. I was blown away. Fantastic, I thought! And then the women across from me said “I used to weigh 220 and now I weigh 170.” Whoa!!! I couldn’t believe it! She said to me, “it works, if you do it.”

I know the universe talks to us all the time, we just don’t always listen. There are over 300 people training together for these two triathlons. There were well over 150 people at practice. Out of all of those people only 8 people chose to go to Patsy’s. Of those 8 people, the person sitting to my right and the person sitting across from me (flanked, if you will, because I was sitting at the end corner) both had lost a significant amount of weight. I didn’t think that was coincidence — I thought it was a message. Don’t doubt yourself, you can do it.

I took a cab home that night, feeling it had been a long, hard but inspiring day. In the morning I woke up and the woman who had been sitting next to me at Patsy’s wrote me an email and said “I just wanted to tell you that you really inspired me and I’m going back on Weight Watchers.” Wow, I thought, how efficient the universe is to inspire two people at once! Of course, I fired back an email saying “no way, you inspired me!” It really helps at this point to hear from people who have been on a program for a long time and have kept going. That’s one of the things I get out of the WW meetings is to find people who are there for two years, at goal weight and still coming to meetings. I find that inspiring.

The other message from the universe I got was yesterday. I had my workout with Rhonda and I think we were both surprised that not only did I seem to have not lost any strength while she was gone, I seemed to have gained some. We had a good laugh over some of my balance skills that seemed to show up yesterday that had never been there before. She noted that my arms were stronger particularly when I was doing this weird exercise I can’t really explain but I’ll try. I lie on my stomach on a bench, have little baby 1 pound weights in my hand. I put my arm out in a T formation and pulse up for 10, then move my arms out to a Y formation and pulse up for 10, then move my arms straight out over my head and pull down toward my shoulder for 10. She said I did that much more easily than last time. She also said I was using heavier weights on my other arm exercises — so that was good.

Then we talked about the pushups. I was feeling a lot of energy and wanted to try one. The mistake was I tried at the end of the workout while my arms were really tired so I didn’t do it. But I still feel like I’m closer some how. Which leads me to my 3rd inspirational story of the week and it comes from an unlikely source, the “National Weight Loss Challenge” tv program. You know every week I end up trashing this poor program. Well this week’s program was not that bad because it was very real.

This week they followed this New York DJ as he was trying to lose weight. The poor guy was working 3 jobs, had lost his mother to that pyscho nurse who was killing patients and had also lost his co-host and mentor to complications from a stroke. Anyway, this DJ decides he is going to use Karate as one of his workouts and also go to a personal trainer. The Karate Sensei (Sensei means “teacher” in Japanese) was this Italian/American who was pretty serious. The DJ also had a life coach who was to help him with time management and life skills. Running the diet portion of the program was a doctor who was helping with his diet plan. He called all of these people “Team Zach.” The team he had put in place to help him lose weight.

Well, it was pretty funny, because not one of the people were interested in being called part of “Team Zach” because they all felt it was taking the responsibility off of him and putting it on them. So every one of them would call him on his bad behavior of bingeing, not showing up to practices, promising too many things. Of course everyone watching the show is going to identify with this DJ because he is just so human and honest about all of his frailties. (He is 6’4″ and weighs 315 pounds but he is emotionally pretty slender.)

There was one scene that really got me. The Sensei was a no bull kind of guy. They showed all of these clips of the DJ being trained and this one clip in particular really got me. The Sensei puts the DJ down on the floor and has him move one hand into the pushup position and leave the other hand behind his back (or at his side, I can’t remember). The Sensei says “Zach, push with your hand and lift your body up.” Zach and I both are saying “what are you nuts?” As I’m saying out loud to the tv “he can’t do a one armed pushup!” Zach is moaning with his face into the floor “Sensei, Sensei, I can’t, I can’t do it.” Of course he can’t, I’m thinking, that’s just cruel — I hate this show.

The Sensei doesn’t smile. He says “Zach, sit up,” so Zach sits up. Then the Sensei says “I want you to meditate on that thought.” So Zach sits up and looks like this penitent little 315 pound boy. His face is red and he is still breathing hard. Then the Sensei says “get down on the mat and push yourself up.” Well don’t you know, this 315 pound guy gets down on the mat and pushes himself up with one arm! I almost fell out of my chair. Then Sensei says something really profound about telling yourself you can do something and you will do it. I was blown away. Zach was all happy and beaming proudly.

Of course I immediately thought about my own pushups. How much of this pushup business is my telling myself I can’t do it? What if I try to channel all of my power and belief into doing one perfect pushup? Just one, doesn’t even have to be a one-armed like Zach. (And btw, the only regular pushup they show him doing is one against a stack of steps, they showed him doing a regular pushup off the floor.) So this morning before I go to my WW meeting, I’m going to meditate and I’m going to practice my pushups. I’ll let you know tomorrow, how I do!! (That’s called a cliffhanger, y’all!)

Oprah also talks a lot about making the “Decision” to lose weight. It’s not about wanting to lose weight, it is deciding to do it. There is a big difference. The difference is choice. You can can want to do something and never do it. Lord, how many people do we know that say “I want to do this, I want to do that” but ten years later are still saying it? I know many people like this. But my favorite people are the ones who say “I decided to….. And I so I did it.” So I guess wanting something is a kind of sleeping or dreamy of activity (in my opinion). Deciding is an awake activity. So now when I question myself and say “what makes me think that I can do this?” I know the right answer. The answer is I will do this because I DECIDED to do this. This is non-negotiable. The decision has been made.

Tomorrow, 4 mile Snowflake race in Central Park, TWICE! (I need to run 8 miles tomorrow, so I’m going to do a 2 mile run up to the race start, do the 4 mile race, and then 2 mile run back down). Yippe, can’t wait…..groan. Stay tuned for my results of the race and the pushup!!! (P.S. — please don’t expect a 12:00 m/m on a 4 mile race — not there yet. How about anything under a 12:30? My best 4 miler so far was a 12:29 back in Sept. So how about I shoot for a 12:15? That seems reasonable to me.)


The main thing is to keep pushing oneself, to keep striving to awaken, by whatever means one has chosen. The difference between the waking person and the person who is asleep is that the sleepwalker feels he already is awake; the awakened one is still striving , pushing, struggling to be awakened.

Tom Muzila.

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2/24/05 Life is an Endurance Sport (258)

Good Wednesday all. I hope today finds you in good health, if so, count your blessings.

I spent a few hours yesterday with a friend getting her Chemo treatment. Man, talk about a trooper. 33 years old, finds she has breast cancer which is rare in women under 40 (less than 6% of the diagnosed cases). It’s amazing her doctor even found it. Her veins were very thin so she had a procedure to put in a mediport (a device to make it easier to inject the drugs). Well, the device ending up causing a blood clot in her arm. So in addition to getting the countless numbers of injections of chemo and anti-nausea into the thin veins in her hands and wrists, she is getting countless blood tests and injections of blood thinners to get rid of the clot that was caused by the port that was put in because of her cancer treatment. And she may have to undergo surgery to get rid of it. She’s having to swing by the doctor’s office almost daily to get some kind of test or injection. And, in addition to her having to endure the exhausting side-effects of the chemo, she’s not allowed to do the one thing that makes her feel good — training for her 1/2 ironman. Not fair.

It certainly seems like a lot of evil forces have conspired to bring my friend to her knees. But it also looks to me like they picked on the wrong person. Of course at times she’s down and of course she has bouts of depression about this — she wouldn’t be human if she didn’t. But, she has an amazing amount of endurance and a single mindedness to beat this cancer — and I don’t doubt for a second that her training in endurance sports is giving her a little advantage those evil forces were not counting on. Everyone at the hospital comments on how strong she is. She still shows up to practices to support her team mates even if the doctors have forbidden her to run. She has taken up walking — everywhere! And she continues her swimming on the days she feels she can. She is still working and her boss was just out with the flu for a longer consecutive length of days than she has. She’s a tough cookie. She’s already calculating her kick start back into training the moment she’s given the okay from her doctors.

I don’t know why my friend was chosen for this task. But I do know she is rising to the occasion like the true athlete she is. I have seen her grit her teeth and bear pain. I’ve seen the tears in her eyes as they shaved her head. I have seen her get up time and again from the waiting room chair and march into another procedure or test for something. I imagine knowing that there is a specified period of time for her treatments (4 down, 4 to go then radiation) that she can approach this with many of the skills she has learned in endurance sports. Break it down into shorter distances — just get through today, just get to that tree, just get this one foot in front of the other. We’ll worry about the rest after that.

I was pretty wiped out yesterday after spending six hours with her and I all I did was sit there doing nothing. After her chemo treatment at the clinic we had to go over to the hospital to get an ultrasound on her blood clot and then I dropped her off back at the clinic where she had to get another shot. I can’t even imagine 1/1,000 of what she must be feeling. Last night I left to go to our GTS and I’ll tell you something very interesting, we did a 50 minute run up the westside hill and down and then up cathill and down. I didn’t even feel it. I finished running and I felt surprised that it didn’t even feel like a workout — I felt like I had just done a warmup. It seemed so ridiculously paltry compared to the workout my friend went through that day. It was embarassingly easy in comparison. I felt like I needed to do 1,000 pushups or something to make up for it.

My friend is training for a 1/2 ironman in May. She’s afraid she is not going to be able to compete in this one if her doctor doesn’t let her get back to running a.s.a.p. The funny thing is, she just did the equivalent of a 1/2 ironman yesterday. 6 hours of treatment, poking and prodding and pushing through when you don’t think you can go on — she did that already, just yesterday. Unlike the 1/2 ironman where she would be able to relax afterward and have fun, she now has several days of feeling wiped out by the medications and has to keep plugging through. She’s doing an ultra Ironman. At the end of the 1/2 ironman, all she gets to say is “I did a half ironman.” At the end of these treatments she gets to say “I beat breast cancer.” Which is more impressive to you?

My friend is a source of inspiration to me and everyone else on the teams in the park, to everyone in her office, to everyone in the hospital and to her friends and family. She’s just concentrating on getting through, we’re all in awe. In my mind this is no different that watching someone do the Ironman. We can’t imagine what it must feel like, all we can do is stand on the sidelines and cheer. We can be amazed at how she pushes through but we can’t feel it — it is not happening to us. And, the big difference between watching her go through this and watching an Ironman, is she didn’t choose this fight. She didn’t fill out an entry form and submit $150 to enter. This fight was thrown on her and she is fighting back like a true competitor. The Lance Armstrong story is inspiring but I don’t know Lance Armstrong personally and I wasn’t there to watch his struggle. My friend is just as inspiring, she’s not writing a book or going on tour or dating a rock star (all of which I wish Lance Armstrong ten-fold) — she’s just showing up for her chemo, zillions of tests, taking her shots, getting black and blue, worrying about her future family and putting one foot in front of the other. That’s what I call an Ironman.

So today I’ll dedicate my day to being a better athlete, a stronger person and a grateful human being in her honor. I’m blessed to have such amazing friends.


Here is a link for how to perform a BSE — Breast Self-Exam.

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2/23/05 All I Need is the Air that I Breathe (258)

Last night was the 2012 Olympic bid race in NY. We had a great time. I tried my best and the good news is I believe I broke my current NYRR record (current record was last Feb. a 12:02 minute mile). The bad news is I don’t think I broke 12:00. The results are not posted yet, but by my calculations I did a 12:00.) Isn’t that cruel??!?!?! I ran 3.1 miles in 37 minutes 15 secs. The first minute was 12:24. That was the start of the race and pretty hard to get going through the crowd and up Cat Hill. My second mile was an 11:40 which was very good for me. That was pretty much all flat going from the Met to just before Engineers gate where we turned around. The 3rd mile was 11:59 and that was mostly downhill but I was really trying to catch my breath. I could have definitely caught 5 more seconds on that last mile. And the last .1 of a mile took 1 minute 10 seconds into the finish.

What I did well: I pushed myself the entire time. I was really short of breath — my lungs could not expand to get that extra depth of breath. But instead of backing off to catch my breath (which I would do in a 4+ mile race) I decided to push through. It was hard — I know I don’t have the lung capacity of a lot of other people. I could hear how hard I was breathing and I had a annoying little rasp at the end of every breath.

What I didn’t do well: Overall I was pretty pleased with my effort, I guess strategically I didn’t have to pull back SO much on the downhill. I was still anticipating the little hill at the base of Cat Hill going back up toward east 72nd, but that was unnecessary as I flew right up that. That could have bought me a few more seconds so I could have broken 12. I also think I could have loosened my muscles somehow to have them ready before the run instead of loosening them on the run. I also noticed that even though I was breathing very hard, I could have spend up my feet rotation a little more. I think I was concentrating so hard on my breath that I didn’t push my feet enough.

What annoyed me: Those damn run walkers. They run really fast until they are exhausted. Then just as I am about to pass them they start running really fast and blow past me. I keep plodding along and eventually I catch up with them. They have to hear my heavy breathing/wheezing because just as I’m about to pass them, whoosh, they take off again. I can’t stand these people. They drive me nuts. I don’t mind the run/walking part — just don’t insult me, let me pass and then start running.

What pleased me: My friends showing up to cheer me on. They rock. To stand out there in the cold and shout and yell for everyone is just awesome. It really does help to know someone is at that finish line waiting for you. The second you think you might let up, you think of them waiting and you push through. I have such good friends.

My friends that came out to race were awesome too. Stephanie had a really great result. One of her miles was a 9:40!! That just makes me so happy I actually get all teary thinking about it. I am so proud of how hard she is working toward her 1/2 ironman. I see her getting stronger every day and I think she is going to be shocked when she sees what she accomplishes in May.

My friend Mo also came out to run. She’s usually a back of the packer on the long run, but nobody can sprint faster to the finish line than her. It’s amazing to see her sprint into the finish, arms and legs pumping in unison — I just can’t believe it is the same person out on the course. She totally comes alive in that sprint and everything about her lights up. I think Mo might suffer a little bit of the same malady that I do — we fear the distance so hold back to make sure we have something at the end. Ironically we end up spending more time out there than other people so we end up spending more energy anyway. We might as well try to speed it up and spend less time out there.

Donna and I pretty much run neck and neck. One race she’ll be leading me, the next race I’ll be leading her. Donna is pretty funny because she claims she doesn’t like running but she’s caught the addiction like the rest of us. She shows up quietly at all the races and she’s just doing her own thing. She’s a very even runner. She’s is actually suited to long running (like I think I am.) Unlike, Mo who needs to find herself some track meets and compete in the 100 yard dash. (Not to say that Mo won’t be a good long distance runner, but she certainly has a sprint talent that I don’t have.)

General Issue: I wanted to talk a little bit about my breathing problem, maybe someone out there knows something about it and can offer suggestions. Last night I was running at 100% — not leg speed, I was aware that I could actually spin my legs much faster. I was at 100% of lung capacity. I couldn’t get enough air in there. It was like just the upper 3/4 of my lungs were being used and I could not dig down into that last quarter where I know I can get that extra oxygen I need. This is how my races usually happen, I struggle with this kind of breathing for the first 3 miles, then all of a sudden something happens, on one unpredictable exhale my lungs pop open. Once that happens, I know I can run forever — as long as my legs/knees don’t give out. But waiting for it to happen is excrutiating.

In tennis, my coach Bogie (who I adore but haven’t worked with for over a year) calls this the second exhale. We’ll be doing net drills and she’ll fire an entire bucket of balls at me. Right, left, right, left. I start getting slower and slower and more and more out of breath as the bucket empties — I get through 1/2 the bucket. I take a drink and recoup. That’s the first exhale. Then we start again and finish the bucket but she’s firing at me even faster. Then we stop and I take another drink towel off and usually we’ll chat for 60 seconds or so. That’s what she’ll call the second exhale.

After the second exhale, I get into a zone. I’m not breathing as hard but I’m breathing deeper. My body seems to know where to go. I’m getting every ball. She now will start drilling right, left, overhead. She’ll push me back and then drive me forward. I’ll go through the entire bucket and I’ll be panting but I’m not struggling for air. I’ll be on my toes bouncing back and forth ready for the next ball. She’ll laugh and say, hang on, hang on I have to pick up some balls. I could go through another basket. I WANT to go through another basket. Once I hit the second exhale — everything is in synch and, for me at least, my lungs have opened up and I can hit that bottom part of my lungs so I’m actually working more efficiently.

Before the “second exhale,” I don’t want you to think I’m breathing in the top of my lungs. I’m not hyperventilating. It’s not really short breaths; I’m concentrating on long exhales to try to force the 2nd exhale, but the lungs just won’t open up. It’s like I’m pushing them, pushing them and then when I hit that second exhale, it is like I’ve pushed through a door and another room appears. I’m still breathing hard, but I’m getting so much more bang for my buck — I have room to move.

So what I’m trying to figure out is how to force that second exhale to come sooner. Are there ways to train your lungs to expand? Or is my lung capacity just a function of birth? I know that famous runner Steve Prefontaine had some kind of super human lung capacity and they say the same about Lance Armstrong. They are born that way and they excel because of it. Am I just stuck with my limited lung capacity? Or, am I just destined to run the first 3 miles of any race with difficulty until I can start to breath?

After the race I will usually start coughing — it’s definitely better this year, but I’ll cough for a couple of hours. If it is really cold out it may last more than that. Last night was just minor coughing, nothing like last summer.

Last summer they found I have a heart murmur and a slightly enlarged heart, but my cardiologist gave me the go ahead for running. He said my heart was actually in perfect condition — but we have to monitor the heart murmur.

I am starting to feel the weight loss on my legs during the race. I had no pain until just about the end I felt a little twinge, but nothing really. So maybe as I lose more weight, my lungs won’t have to work so hard either. This will be something interesting to monitor.

So tonight we have another GTS, tomorrow I work out with Rhonda, Friday I’m going to do a big swim and then Saturday the Snowflake 4 mile race. This will be fun. I thought I ran this race last year, but the results are not on the website. That’s weird ’cause I know I have the shirt. I’ll have to look into that. But the goal this Saturday is an 11:59 or better!!! That means no bull, pushing through the entire time.

On my training schedule I have to run 8 miles. So what I am going to try is to start out at 8 with the GTS and run up to the race start. I’m figuring that will get my lungs primed and then I’ll have a little rest before the race starts — I’ll keep moving and stretching. Then I’ll run the race. Then I’ll run back down to 72nd street which will give me 8 miles in total. I want every workout I do to have a goal and an intent. My goals for Saturday will be to have no leg pain and try to get the second exhale earlier in the race.

Stay tuned for results!!!


I so love this quote this morning:

“Winners compare their achievements with their goals, while losers compare their achievements with those of other people”
Nido Qubein

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2/22/05 My favorite things (259)

Tuesday. Tonight we run under the “Gates” in Central Park for the 2012 Olympic bid. Should be fun. Also it is a 5k so it shouldn’t be that painful. I’m looking forward to it.

Rhonda, my trainer, is back from Australia, so the pushup mission is back on the burner. I was embarrassed to admit that all my passion to pursue the pushup must have left 4 weeks ago with Rhonda — it probably was a stow away and wanted the sun. Since GTS has started I have been lackadaisical about doing my pushups. I have been doing core workouts at the GTSs but those have been few. So now Rhonda is back and I’ll get that back into the program. As I said before it is tough to juggle all of these different things. One minute I’m working on diet, the next on running, the next on swimming. I’ve never been good about getting down on the floor and doing pushups — that’s why I hired a trainer in first place — I can’t be trusted to complete a workout at home.

Unlike the trainers on TV (you’ve already heard me rant about them) Rhonda is one of the good ones. My testimony to her is I could go to the trainers in my gym in my building but instead I go down to B’way and 20’s and work out with her. To be fair, all the trainers in that gym, not just Rhonda, seem to be highly professional (a lot of the trainers in my gym seem to be unemployed actors or dancers). I like Rhonda because she is certified to train and keeps on studying. She takes it and her clients seriously. When I have a problem with my knees she has 3 different ways to approach it. She is open to collaboration and will make modifications based on my other workouts. She is tough but not unreasonable — she’ll never push me into an unsafe zone but doesn’t let me get by with crap either. And, not once, has she EVER suggested a 1,400 calorie day diet to me!! (Okay, enough about that stupid tv program). Oh, wait, one more tv trainer complaint, can I squeeze that in, please?

I was watching the show “I Lost It” also on the discovery channel. Here they spotlight two people in a 30 minute show and give you a mini documentary on people and how they lost their weight. They have people who do everything from gastric bypass to weight watchers. It’s is more of a mini documentary than necessarily a how-to. One episode was about this woman from Ireland who always struggled with a small weight problem. She moved to America and it became a huge weight problem when she discovered American-sized portions and the luxury of fast-food. The most shocking part of her story was when she said she was going to a trainer and he actually said to her “you’ve been gaining too much weight, if you keep gaining it will be a bad reflection on me and you’ll have to quit.” Can you believe that? Anyway this upset her so much she never went back. Once she lost some of her weight (she used some variation on the zone I think), she got a female trainer who is very supportive. I know there is no way, no matter how fat I got, that Rhonda would dump me because it would look bad to her other clients. How ridiculous!!!

Anyway, I am not anti-trainers as some of you may have thought, I have a trainer. But unless my trainer is a certified nutritionist, I would never take a food plan from her, no matter how much I like her. To me they are two separate things and you have to train for both of them. There are a lot of things you have to take into consideration when recommending an eating plan — remember my Doctor tried to hand me a one page one-size-fits-all diet too. You know the most shocking thing about the medical community (at least in years past) is that they were never trained in nutrition. That was not considered part of the curriculum for an M.D. (Hopefully now it is, but if you doctor is over 40, I pretty much guarantee that they never studied nutrition — unless it was a personal elective.) Isn’t that a crime? I understand they have to learn a lot about medicine in their short school career, but don’t you think good nutrition should be the foundation? Even in the intro to his book for the South Beach diet, the doctor acknowledges he “stumbled” onto this diet when making recommendations to his heart patients to cut out fat and simple sugars. He noticed they all started to lose weight and that is how the South Beach diet was born.

Anyway, new topic. I thought today I would try to lighten things up a little. How am I doing so far? ROFL — I know, I know, I rant too much. So today I thought I would share with you some of the new foods I have incorporated into my life over the last 7 weeks that I enjoy and make eating easy.

First thing I want to mention is Total yogurt I think the name is Fage. You can buy it at Food Emporium and also at Fresh Direct. I get the 0% fat, plain. This stuff is Greek Style yogurt. It is so creamy, I swear you’ll think it is full fat cream. I have some of that almost everyday. (Which is a good thing because in my gym the NUTRITIONIST put out a fact sheet that says studies have shown dairy products have been shown to promote weight loss.) So it is not core food if you buy any yogurt other than PLAIN fat free yogurt. This one is soooo good, I love it. My friend Melissa loves it and my other friend Julie loves it too. One word of caution — it is more expensive — but we’re worth it right?

Second thing I want to mention is frozen fruit. I never, in a million years would have thought I would like frozen fruit. It all started with frozen Raspberries, the picture on the package looked so good I had to try it. I was amazed, they taste great. And, in the dead of winter it is a great treat to have berries whenever you want them. I put them in protein shakes, toss them in yogurt and throw them on my oatmeal. They are great. I have since expanded my repetoire to include frozen blackberries, blueberries and bing cherries. If you take a half a cup of frozen bing cherries and microwave them for 45 seconds then put them in with some Total fatfree yogurt, you are going to die from how delicious this is. I don’t add sugar or anything. The whole cherries are picked from the vine and frozen. They are amazing. At COSTCO I discovered this huge back of mixed frozen fruit (again, nothing but fruit, no sugar or syrup or anything.) In the mixed frozen fruit bag they have peaches and strawberries and grapes and melon. I pick out some peaches, and maybe some strawberries — do the microwave thing with yogurt and throw a little cinnamon on top — OMG! It is so good you’ll think you are eating something so fattening and it is sooo good for you. The problem with the canned fruit is they put added sugar in there to preserve.

The next thing I make at least twice a week is fried rice. Yep, you heard me, fried rice. This is so good, you’ll never eat fastfood fried rice again and this is 100% core and my own invention — okay not really. I had been watching Ming on the food channel one day and he was preparing tradition fried rice. He said the most important thing about fried rice is to use day old rice. One day I was making brown rice. I realized that I had left over fried rice in the refrigerator from the previous day and I thought “oh no, I hate to waste.” His program came to mind and Eureka, I thought, let’s make BROWN fried rice. So I did and it came out great, it’s so easy.

First take a pan and lightly spray with Pam. Now throw in a scrambled egg and just scramble it lightly (not cooked all the way because you are going to cook it some more in a minute.) Put the egg aside. Now take two teaspoons (your daily core allotment) of a healthy oil. I’ve been using sesame oil for this recipe but I’ve done it with olive oil too and it is just as good. In the two teaspoons of oil saute up some onion. I like yellow onion for this and I like it to get light brown. Now go over to your refrigerator and pull out whatever vegetables you have in there. I never use the same ones twice. Now it is a game with me. Sometimes I put in mushrooms and peppers, sometimes it’s green beans and carrots, whatever you have in your fridge — it doesn’t matter. Basically I’m looking for about 1 1/2 cups of veggies. One thing that goes great in there is a little frozen mixed veggies of peas and carrots and corn. I usually add those to whatever is in the pan already. Mushrooms, onions, peppers with peas carrots and corn — you have a good base. I try to get it all cooked well and I know it is going to be great if the onions are slightly brown. That really brings out the flavor. Then I just toss in the left over rice from the fridge. I usually make 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice which turns into about 1 cup cooked. (Hint, in the morning when I make oatmeal, I put two burners on and start my brown rice at the same time.) Then as I am tossing the brown rice around with the veggies I throw in the egg and then some soy sauce and Voila — you have one mean dinner. Full of veggies and fiber and totally delicious. I will also add some grilled shrimp to the top, but I don’t cook them in with the veggies because the shrimp will soak up all the oil and the rice doesn’t get covered. If I have the brown rice in the fridge it takes less than 10 minutes to make this. If your veggies are already chopped, 5 minutes. Deliciosa!

OK time for one more recipe and this is from my friend Missy — I’ve made this about 4 times in the last 7 weeks. The thing I like about this recipe is that it is easy to put in a tupperware bowl and take with me to class (I’ve taken it to writing class and to swimming class.) It is very filling and very good for you. Missy puts this on top of brown rice, I will tell you my secret addition to this at the end.

2 – 15oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 medium cucumber
1 Sweet Red Pepper, seeded and chopped
2 ears fresh, raw corn (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili paste
dash of garlic

This is so spicy and tasty and filling. Chickpeas are great protein. Instead of putting it on brown rice, the other day while making this to go with me to class I got the idea of throwing some pineapple in there. I opened up a can of Dole pineapple chunks (in juice, NO syrup please) and tossed some pineapple in there. It became like a sweet and sour dish and it was great!!! I put it in a tupperware container (seal tightly please) and brought with me to class — it was great.

So that’s it for today — hope I gave you some good ideas, feel free to send me your great quick and easy cooking ideas too. I need all the help I can get!!


Instead of thinking of cooking as a chore, think of it as act of love and devotion — even if you are cooking for one. — nobody famous, just me.

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