Monthly Archives: January 2006

1/31/05 Wendy Chronicles (PCT 30)

Tuesday. Wow. Today completes our 30 day no drinking challenge. Now it seems like that went fast!! Yet, I remember talking about it a lot during the beginning. Time flies. Vremya Leteet. (Every once in awhile my Russian phrases pop into my head.)

I was a little stunned this morning to read that the playwright Wendy Wasserstein passed away at 55 from complications due to Lymphoma. 55 is so young. I loved her plays. I remember seeing the Heidi Chronicles way back in the 80’s when I was still in my twenties. I remember thinking that I identified so much with Heidi and her angst. I also remember feeling that Wendy Wasserstein was someone I wanted be. I thought she was so smart, so insightful and had managed to build a career based on her creative passions. I wanted to be her. I thought I still had time to do that, but today I had a real slap in the face. We can’t wait to pursue our passions.

Without a doubt Wendy Wasserstein was ripped off. It was a life too short, a lifetime of plays, books and essays in front on her. A lifetime of watching her daughter grow up, get married and have children. 55 is too young. It is a time in a women’s life when she is still young enough to be an adventuress but old enough to speak her own mind and have opinions based on life lived not life imagined. But, at the same time Wendy Wasserstein lived a full life. She leaves behind a great legacy of the written word and a mark on the lives of women of my generation and the generations to follow. That must be a great feeling to know that in those short 55 years you did want you wanted to do and what you did mattered.

This is a reminder of how precious life is. That every day counts. Every day that you are not doing what you were meant to do or working on finding out what you are meant to do is a day lost. If I found out tomorrow that I had only a week to live, I’m not sure I would be happy with my legacy. I think I am happy with the legacy I am working towards, but I don’t think I am happy with what I have done to date. Much of that has boiled down to fear of success and fear of failure. As I’m approaching my fifties (a couple of years to go) I realize I am capable of letting go of my fears. I’m not as afraid any more of trying to do things (and the possibility of failure). I do get mad at myself for not taking advantage of more opportunities that I have, but I do a lot more with my life now than I did when I was younger. Wendy Wasserstein was one of those select few who knew what she wanted and did it when she was young. Imagine being 39 and having one of your plays the smash hit on Broadway? Not so bad.

So tonight I have my GTS in Central Park and we have to do some hill repeats. I’m going to do them in honor of Wendy Wasserstein. Not just because she died of Lymphoma and that is one of my charities of choice, but because she lived a purposeful life and that is something I want to honor. I respect that very much. I am so sorry for her family’s loss and for the world’s loss, but I am also grateful for what we learned from her. She opened the eyes of many people to what the modern woman thinks about. She broke down a lot of stereotypes and made it okay to be a single parent, a woman of strong mind and convictions. Most of all, she did all that while being hysterically funny. A true genius and the definition of an Ironwoman.

Namaste

“Don’t live down to expectations. Go out there and do something remarkable.”
Wendy Wasserstein

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1/30/06 I Want to and I Will (PCT 28)

Monday. Mindfulness. Time to focus and set goals for the week. I had a decent meeting at weight watchers on Friday. I was down 1.4 for the week. That brings my total down for January to 3.8. Unfortunately total weight gain in January was 3.8. So, on Jan 27th I weighed exactly what I weighed on December 30th! A little frustrating considering I didn’t drink all month. But, the big 3.2 pound gain was after the Christmas and New Years holiday week so net/net a zero loss/gain is okay. Total weight loss to date is still just 22 pounds — but it is 22 pounds that has not come back and I am confident I will lose more by May 21st. I would like to lose 20 more by May 21st. Oops, I am supposed to say I WILL lose 20 pounds by May 21st.

I’ll have to admit I was expecting a few miracles this month. I thought some weight would come flying off because of the no drinking. I hear stories of people losing tons of weight once they quit drinking so I was all excited thinking it would magically happen to me too. No such luck. I seem to be holding fast, although I do feel tighter and more pulled in from my recent workouts. For now I can just concentrate on building a healthy body — if the scale doesn’t want to agree with me, nothing I can do about that. (Although every time I threaten to buy a new scale it seems to drop a pound — intimidation factor!)

I was also anticipating a big struggle with the no drinking. Quite frankly it wasn’t that hard. There were just a couple of times when I was tired after working out that I felt like putting my feet up with a nice cabernet. But for the rest of the time it was not as hard as I thought it would be. I’m struggling more with the pushups than with the no drinking. As a matter of fact I have felt a great relief in not partying very much this month. I feel calmer like my blood sugar is at peace. Particularly through the holidays the never ending socializing is just too much. There are so many opportunities to drink that it becomes a little overwhelming in trying to moderate it. It’s so much easier to just say ‘no booze’ at all instead of trying to say ‘oh, I’ll have just a little.’

I guess the one thing I have not been doing and it is kind of haunting me is I have not been journaling my food. I know I should be doing that every day, but I don’t like to do it. (Did you see all the words I used there? Should? Don’t like? — Those are deal breaker words.) In weight watchers and in athletic training people keep pointing out my negative self-talk. I met with the trainer on Friday at the gym — Damien. I explained to him my problem of not being able to do a push up (big girl pushup — not the on-the-knee-kind) at the end of the workout he said “there is only one thing getting in the way of your pushup — your head.” He said, ‘you are very strong, there is no reason you should not be able to do a push up. It is in your head.’ Part of me agrees but part of me feels there is a physical limitation when it comes to getting past a certain point. It is that final dip I can’t get down there. Arggghhh — there is that word again — can’t. I’ve got to stop that. Argghh, I’m not supposed to say ‘got to’ either. Okay, I’ll just shut up.

Positive self-talk is not easy!! Particularly when you’ve lived a life of should’ves, could’ves, would’ves. To stay focused on the positive all day long is very hard. I excel at feeling guilty. I’m good at it. (See that was positive, no?) To turn the shoulds into wants, the can’ts into wills — this is a big challenge for me. I know losing weight is possible — I lost 22 pounds (and look I’m not even going to say that it was 31 but I gained some back…) Doing a half-ironman is possible — three years ago I couldn’t run around the block. Imagine what I will be doing in two more years? Yeah, sure I’m not as fast as I would like, but really I’m still a beginner in the big picture. I can do a big-girl pushup. I will do ten of them in a row before May 21st. Real ones, dipping all the way down and back up without whining. Every day if I have to (okay, not every day, how about every other day?)I don’t know, when are compromises good and when are they copping out?

In WW they keep saying start with your winning outcome. My winning outcome is to cross the finish line on May 21st with dignity. Under 8 hours. Everything has to work toward that goal. I have to frame everything in the positive and start breaking everything down to positive tasks that will get me to that goal. I have to want that goal then I will want to do the tasks to get to that goal. One of the tasks to get to that goal is to lose weight. One of the things that has to happen in order for me to lose weight is to track my intake. One of the things that has to happen in order for me to track my intake is to pull out my tracker and write everything down. Ugh, that’s where it stops. Right then, right there, the ‘don’t-wannas, why-do-I-have tos’ start creeping in the door. Why can’t I be like everyone else? They don’t have to track their food, why do I? It’s not fair. Look how fast I went from the positive statements to the negative ones. I may not be good at everything, but procrastination, self-recrimination and pain avoidance I am an all-star.

Okay, let’s start from the top. I want to finish the half ironman in 8 hours……

Namaste

“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.”
Herm Albright

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1/29/06 Numbers don’t lie!!! (PCT 27)

Sunday. I’m recovering from yesterday’s Manhattan half marathon. I did okay. According to the statistics I did fantastic. This was the same race I did in August of 2005. According to the statistics in August I came in 6,310th. Yesterday I came in 3,478th!!! That’s quite a jump. In August I came in 2,728th amongst the woman and 142nd in my age group. Yesterday I came in 1,289th amongst the woman and 97th in my age group. That’s a phenomenal improvement, no? Yeah, you’re right, it’s a mathematical delusion. Half the number of people showed up for the race that’s why I looked so good. Or as a friend of mine says, I beat those 3,000 people who were too chicken to come out to run a half marathon in January!! Wimps. In August I ran it in 2:59, yesterday I ran it in 2:55. Yes that’s an improvement but it could have been even better had my brilliant strategy not backfired on me (literally!)

So my big strategy was to take even more nutrition than I needed. Hey if one gu is too few and three not enough, 8 would be about right, right? Ugh, my tummy is flip flopping right now remembering…. The race actually started out really well. I did the first mile in an 11:30 and was on track to keep everything under a 12:30 for the entire race. I was concentrating on my form — trying to lift my knees and I was definitely doing a little better than usual. The first six miles I breezed right through. I took about 4 gus the first hour. (That’s about double my normal inadequate dosage).

The race was two loops of the park which can be a little demoralizing. Basically as I am coming up on mile 6, all the fast people are passing me and heading to the finish line. They have two shoots. If you are starting your second loop you go to the shoot on the right. The people finishing their second loop and heading to the finish go to the left. Right before we split into shoots I am running with about a hundred people around me. When I get through the shoot to the second loop it is me and some woman who is limping. LOL. I knew this was going to be lonely but I had no idea how lonely! At this point in the race there are usually a good 50-100 people for me to compete with — we would normally keep trading leads until the end of the race. Well the one woman in front of me who had been limping became miraculously cured and she took off running really fast. Soon it was just me and my inner will.

Around mile 7 I had to take some water and walked through the water station so I took another gu (or was it 2). But then I started right up again and ran up Harlem Hill for the second time. Not bad. I was pretty proud of myself and made it up the Hill and allt he hills on the Westside without stopping. I also felt a little hip pain at mile 7 so just to be on the safe side I popped the two Tylenols I brought with me for emergency. That seemed to knock it right out.

(Can I just mention that I cannot remember taking a single Tylenol since the marathon for any muscle pain? I took some when I had that sinus headache back in November but not for muscle pain. Isn’t that amazing?!?!?!)

I have to say really wanted to quit. Not because I was tired. Not because I didn’t think I couldn’t do it. I wanted to quit because it seemed sooo unfair. All those people were finished already and it was only hour and twenty minutes. That was a nice little morning workout for them and it was going to be a 3 hour event for me. Not only that but I had to finish the race pretty much alone — nobody around me to motivate or be motivated by. If I didn’t have Stephanie and Michelle and Missy waiting for me at the finish line I think I might have quit. But then I had to think it through.

First I asked myself if I was in pain? Nope. Was I tired? Nope. Was this doable? Absolutely. Are you enjoying it? Uh, oh. That was an uncomfortable question. I don’t really love running…. Then I realized that it wasn’t really that bad. Oh my God, I thought, am I actually enjoying this run? The weather was perfect. I had absolutely no knee pain — not even a twinge. I wasn’t really willing to say it out loud, but I was feeling that I was not actually miserable. Then I thought, what if there was nobody else out here and it was just you and that finish line? Nobody else with whom you could compare yourself. Would you finish the distance just to see if you could do it, finish it in good form and see how far you could push yourself? I couldn’t believe the answer and I still can’t even believe the answer. I thought a definite yes. If I hadn’t had that demoralizing moment of seeing most of the people lap me and head off to the finish while I still had another lap to do, I would have been happy in my own little la-la land and finished the race. That realization helped me to keep going. I realized that yes, it hurts to know that most everybody out there was running under ten minute miles and yeah there were more people walking home with race numbers than there were out there still racing, but I just had to put my blinders on and remind myself that they are not running MY race. I yam what I yam. So I kept running.

Around mile 9 I stopped to go the bathroom. It was the first time I saw a bathroom without a line (because most people had gone home by that point) – see another advantage to being slow – instead of giving up five whole minutes for a bathroom break I only had to give up one. Since I has stopped right next to another water station I took some more gu (working on my more-is-better theory) I had some water and started right up again. Energy-wise my theory was working. I felt like I could keep going for another 2 hours.

Gu. What the hell is in that stuff? It feels like the consistency of molasses and it tastes worse. It is supposed to be fast acting energy fuel, but if I find out it is some kind of petroleum byproduct I will not be surprised. I happened to have packed Hammer Gel Espresso flavor for this particular run. Perhaps not the best choice because it is quite bitter and seems even more molasses-like. But my plan was to never feel like I was running out of energy because I was too cheap to carry an extra gu. So I had packed 10 gus for this race. Normally for a 3 hour race I would have packed 4. But I was sick of feeling short changed of energy, and I remember last August when I tanked on the last mile because I did not have enough gu. So by mile 9 I had taken approximately 8 gus. I think that’s about how many I took for the entire marathon in November.

Then it hit at mile 10. Gu-stronomical disorder. My stomach started cramping and I thought I was going to lose everything right there on the lower loop. It was pretty bad. I felt all this gu just sitting in my stomach and every time I started to run the jostling made my stomach cramp. It was like the gu was grabbing the walls of my stomach and sucking it in from the inside. I realized I had over-gu’d and my plan was backfiring in a bad way. I had actually pull over and bend over to stop the cramping. I took that as an opportunity to look behind me and I saw two runners behind me gaining fast. I didn’t see many behind them and I realized I was in danger of being last in the entire race. Oh no. I really wanted to stop and just go home, but I couldn’t because my friends were all waiting at the finish line and I had to make it up Cat Hill and to the finish line.

I had to walk a little bit because if I ran the jostling made my stomach cramp. Two runners passed me. Then strangely it went away as suddenly as it had come on. By mile 11 I was running again and one of the guys who had passed me was walking. We started a little pep talk with one another. I kept running and told him to keep going. When he would start running again he would say something encouraging to me. Then I saw Missy waiting for me at the base of the reservoir. Poor thing was finished at least an hour and a half already and was sick as a dog but was waiting for me to run the last mile with me. She finished the 13.1 race in a sub 8 minute mile — phenomenal. But she was feeling a really bad stomach. I told her to go home but she wanted to run the last mile and half with me.

So it was me, Missy and my adopted running partner — some older guy who actually had a pretty good pace going when he was running. The three of us just kept running. I let the guy go in front of me to finish (I felt it was proper considering I had pulled over to cramp). About 100 yards from the finish line I felt all the gu starting to come up my throat. I was so scared. Oh no, please God don’t let me puke here right in front of all of these people. There were no bushes just people at the finish line. I told Missy to move over because I literally going to puke right on her. I looked both ways, but now I was in the finishing shoot and if I puked it would have to hit somebody. Please, God, I beg of you, not now!!!! It is just feet away, please hold on. I commanded all of my pilates stomach muscles and I contracted my stomach and literally pulled as hard as I could to keep everything down. I couldn’t speak and I just had to get over that finish line. As I rounded the bend I heard Stephanie yelling so I knew I was finished and my stomach went back to normal as soon as I stopped moving.

So I had finished the race in a few minutes faster than I had finished in August. Had I not had to stop for the bathroom and had I not over gued, I think I could have taken another 3 minutes off my time. But I think the lesson learned that there is a happy medium between too little and too much gu was worthwhile. I am definitely switching to Enervite gel for my next race. It is much easier to digest and they have a concentrated calorie formula (I used it in the 10 miler last weekend) so I can take less physical gu and get more calories.

All in all I have to say it was a great race. I learned something about myself — I do have inner determination. Maybe I don’t actually hate running any more — that’s pretty amazing in itself. I also felt strong. I felt I was able to hold my posture and core for 3 hours and even at the end, although probably imperceptible to the observer’s eye, I was trying to lift my knees. I am also happy to know that I have much more room for improvement and for the first time, I really think I might get faster. It may not happen right away, but I think there is something in this knee lifting thing. I’m excited to see what will become of it.

One of the other things they do is grade you by your age performance. I’m not exactly sure of how they do the calculation but it always makes me feel a little better. For the August race they said my age graded performance was 2:43 and my overall age graded percentage was 40.20%. I don’t even know what that means, but I do know that it increased to 2:38:08 and 41.60% for this race. That must be good, right? I mean it shows improvement. Do you think I should be concerned that when I look at the results of the women in my age group there are only 100 woman and I am listed, gulp, 100th? Do you think it matters that when I look over the entire race results there are only 8 people who came in behind me? Hell, someone came in 10 minutes behind me, that’s a thrashing if you ask me.

So although I got lapped by all the fast runners (and even some of the not-so-fast runners), but statistically I was greatly improved. And, although I came in dead last for my female age group I managed to beat the first, second and third placed guys in the 80-85 age group. Yeah, eat my dust!!!

Namaste

“Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. 14% of people know that.”

Homer (as in Simpson, not the poet)

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1/25/06 You Put Your Left Foot in, You Take Your Left Foot out…. PCT(23)

Wednesday. I was going to try that Tylenol p.m. thing last night but I forgot I had to be up early today anyway so I bagged the idea. I just made a tennis date for 7 a.m. tomorrow as well so that won’t work. Perhaps I could try for Thursday night — I could sleep a little later on Friday — as long as I don’t sleep past 7 I should be okay.

Yesterday I played tennis with Gail. Got a great workout but I forget how much impact there is on your body running around on hard courts. I felt my mobility was great — my ground strokes were just fine. My net and serve (my bread and butter) were non-existent. Unfortunately I got skunked 6-2 which is not good considering I think I have won most of our previous sets. Tomorrow morning I will hit with Pilar and Sunday night is our first team practice. I am certainly not making tennis a priority in my athletic life, but I don’t want to lose touch with it all together. Plus, I think it does make a good cross training exercise. My obliques are a little sensitive today — from serving, which ultimately I think is good because it resembles the swim reach. Coincidentally, last week while I was swimming I noticed how holding your arm out as you stroke is like holding your tossing arm up when you serve — in either case if you drop your arm too soon you cut off your stroke. In the swim you sink — in tennis you fault.

Last night we ran for practice. I opted for the shorter run so I only did the 5.2 mile run. I figured that since I have to do 13 on Saturday, best to give my legs a little rest. As I was running up to the reservoir (slowest as usual) I encountered our head coach Scott who was all compliments. He said my form had improved drastically and keep up the good work. Of course, once he said that I had to keep my stomach in and my shoulders back for the whole time because what if he saw me again on the loop? So this morning my stomach and shoulders hurt from holding them too tight. LOL, my middle name is vanity.

After the run I ran into Coach Jay and I told him that I was getting frustrated. I said I have the 90 count going the whole time, but I’m going slower, not faster and I am getting frustrated. I said I see all these people kicking up their feet and when I try to kick up my feet I just get more exhausted and I don’t go any farther. He said it was because what I was seeing was not people kicking up their feet, what I was seeing (from behind) was the result of them lifting their knees. By making the pendulum (of your leg) shorter, you lengthen your stride. The feet that I think are kicking backward are just the other end of the pendulum. Of course then I was mad at myself for practicing running in place for the last month, but at least it gave me hope for future runs. He told me to practice high knee kicks and back butt kicks — gee the same thing my marathon coach told me to practice and I never did!!!

So Saturday my plan will be to make it into a 3 hour (well, hopefully 2:50) practice session. I’m going to do the first hour just warming up — nice an easy — 12:30 or 13 minute pace is fine. Then I’m going to start increasing my knee lift as much as I can while keeping my breath in zone. The last 50 minutes to 1 hour will be whatever I feel I can do. I definitely seem to warm up after the first 40 minutes of running. I feel I have the endurance plus some. Now it is about getting the best bang for my buck. I couldn’t stop thinking about it last night — geesh how stupid — of course you have been concentrating on an optical illusion. I see the people running in front of me and I try to match the lift of their feet. What I should be doing is for every foot lift I should be doing a knee lift. I know, I know this is probably very obvious to everyone else, but I’ve been trying really hard to get the right form and technique. I walked to have the team pizza with one of the guys from the team (a friend from the Memphis team) and he was telling me it was time to start lengthening the stride a smidge. Same concept. All I can do is try.

Technique, technique, technique. Seems my sports life is just about that. In everything from my Pilates, to my swimming to my cycling and running (and definitely my tennis) it is constantly refining the technique. Even in my diet (which seems to be going well this week) it is about technique — learning new ways to do the same task — learning ways to improve, refine and make the process more efficient. More importantly it is also about unlearning inefficient technique. It’s learning to look at the same stroke in a new light. Maybe what I thought was a leg kick was really supposed to be a knee lift. Maybe what I thought was supposed to be an arm stretch was really more about a hip twist. It seems it is about taking a critical eye to the smallest motion or intention and trying to see it in a new light. Something as small as a pack of gum gave me a real lift this week in my diet. I can’t wait to see what a small knee lift might do on Saturday. The opportunity for new discoveries and possible progress is exciting. I know technique does not replace inborn talent or passion, but for people like me who are not natural born runners — it may be all I have.

Namaste

“Perhaps the single most important element in mastering the techniques and tactics of racing is experience. But once you have the fundamentals, acquiring the experience is a matter of time.”
Greg Lemond

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1/24/06 The Soft Embalmer of the Still Midnight (PCT 22)

Tuesday. Man I’ve had a lot of work to do the last couple of weeks so sorry it has made blog entries a little less consistent. I am going to make blogging a priority because I have discovered one thing — the work will still be there when I get back to it! The blogging or journaling process, however, requires me to capture the moment and when I let a few days go by I feel a lot of opportunities for self-discovery pass me by.

I’m still tired. I went to the doctor yesterday for my annual physical. She was pleased with my blood pressure 117/70 and said my pulse was nice and low again. When I had visited her in November because of my searing headaches she was worried because my blood pressure was so high 130/80 and my pulse was racing much higher than normal for me. She suspected that it was due to the sinus medication I was taking in an attempt to releive the headaches. She took blood tests but she said she was pretty sure they were not going to find anything because I appear extremely healthy. I know the reason I am tired is I haven’t been able to sleep for awhile and it is really catching up to me.

Last night I was so tired that I tried to go to bed at 7 p.m. I couldn’t sleep but my body and eyes were just so exhausted that I could’t read either. I kept trying everything to fall asleep but nothing was working. I think I finally fell asleep right around midnight and darn it all if I didn’t wake up again at 4:30. That’s my witching hour. Something in my body says “hey it’s 4:30 get up!” I force myself to stay in bed until 5. And I mean force myself. I think I have to start with some more drastic measures like taking that Tylenol p.m. stuff. I hate to start having to take drugs to induce a full night’s sleep but I think it has come to that.

I was really looking forward to my month of no drinking figuring it would help me sleep, but no go. In the entire month of January I have had 1 night when I slept 7 hours. I remember the night — I went to bed at 10 and woke up at 5. I was so excited. 7 hours of sleep — that’s normal!!! I was happy for the whole day. I think that night was sometime in the first week of January (maybe secodn) and I have not seen it since.

I still try to nap every afternoon, but days like yesterday when I didn’t get a nap leave me utterly exhausted by 7 p.m. I read an article in WebMD yesterday in the doctor’s office waiting room. It said when you go 18 hours without sleep it is like having a 0.05% blood alcohol level. That’s how unbalanced and out of it you feel. So yesterday at 7 p.m. was 15 hours without sleep, no wonder I was feeling woosy.

Before I get a bunch of emails telling me to take my iron pills and stop drinking coffee — I have taken my iron pills every single morning for the entire month of January and I have drastically reduced my coffee intake. In January I have switched my coffee to 50% decaf and I limit it to the six cup marker on the coffee pot (which are not really 6 cups are they?) I had the doctor check my pills yesterday to make sure they were still a good dose. She said they were fine and when the blood tests come back she’ll let me know if I need changes.

Saturday I had to take the day off from practicing because of that weird little thing on my achilles tendon. The doctor looked at it and said it was a nodule on my tendon and that I’m probably aggravating it with doing marathons and such. She suggested that maybe I shouldn’t do these extreme sports anymore. I rolled my eyes at her and she said “okay, how about stretching more?” I said, “deal.”

Sunday I did the 10 mile run in Central Park. I felt slow (what’s new about that?) But I felt strong — I could do the distance. I didn’t stop once and just maintained my little 13 minute mile for the entire run. It’s too bad I just couldn’t push a little more to get that time down a little, but I just couldn’t move any faster. The plus side is I believe I did the nutrition properly. I actually pulled out my nutrition guidlines from training and followed the recommended calories for my weight.

I have suspected all along that I do not eat enough race morning and during races. In addition to my regular bowl of oatmeal and berries, right before I left the door I took a banana and smeared about 2 tsps of peanut butter on it. That gave me a little extra boost. During the race I upped my gus so I took 5 gus for 2 hours. By the time I took the 3rd gu, I started to feel perked up and noticed I was running better. This Saturday I am going to do something radical and take an extra gu right at the start of the race — give me a little kick start and see how that helps. I don’t know why in the world I am so cheap with calories during these races. Like an extra 180 calories in an hour is going to make me fat while I’m burning 600!

This Saturday I have the Manhattan 1/2 marathon. I know I can finish it, but I would like to finish it in 2:50 (like the Staten Island Half) instead of last August’s 3:00 (Manhattan Half). I am going to do an agressive stretching and sleeping program for the week. Yesterday I had a workout with Rhonda and I couldn’t believe how tight my muscles were from Sunday’s race. Okay, granted, I never actually got around to stretching on Sunday (another day run on about 5 hours of sleep and 19 hours of activities). So yesterday when I was using the styrofoam roller to work out my knots — it was excruciatingly painful. I felt like I was bruising my muscles. This morning when I woke up my legs felt in pain from the stretching — just means I need to do it more, more, more.

Food has been going rather well this week. One of the gals at weight watchers gave me a tip that seems to be working amazing well for me. She suggested that I buy a bunch of gum. Everytime I feel like I need a break from work, instead of going into the kitchen (which is my “break-room”) I should pop a piece of gum. Well lo and behold it seems to be working but not in the way she was thinking. I noticed this week that if I have something to eat that I really like (like feta cheese or something spicy or sweet) the lingering flavor in my mouth makes me want more. I’ll think to myself ‘Oh let me just have one more smidge of that.’ Ten smidges later I’ve eaten another piece of whatever. So this week I started popping cinnamon gum after eating my meals and it somehow just puts a stop to the extra cravings. There was a little discussion at the meeting about how gum is supposed to make you hungrier, but our leader said it is different for everyone. For me, it seemed to really work. So now I’m going to go out and buy a bunch of different flavored gum.

Meditation this week not so good. I really have not had a lot of time. Basically you can see if the blog is up I’ve done my meditation. When 3 days go by — I have not done my meditation. Not good. Meditation, sleep, stretching — the supporting systems of fitness have been neglected. So when I wonder why I’m not performing at a physical peak the answer is right there. I have not given my body the required elements. Just swimming, biking, running, crunching and squatting do not make a healthy body. There has to be good nutrients from a healthy and balanced and diet as well as mindfulness (intention and visualization), rest and recuperation (sleeping and stretching). Once again I am the struggling juggler. I catch one part of wellness and let the others drop. One day I hope to wake up after a full night’s sleep and have a day when I’ve meditated, took my vitamins, wrote in my blog, drank my water, ate balanced and nutritious meals, exercised to my fullest capacity, streched and then had a productive day at work. That doesn’t sound so hard — so why is it???? It all starts with that darn sleep. If you wake up tired from the get go — it is hard to do anything else right.

So I found some interesting studies on sleep deprivation. In addition to the one I mentioned above that talks about sleep deprivation being equivalent to alcohol intoxication in drivers, I was shocked to find that there is a link between sleep deprivation and obesity. It seems the lack of sleep reduces the production of leptin a hormone that helps control the appetite!!!
I’m finding such interesting stuff on WebMd including some great recipes! I’ve added a link to WebMd on my links to the right of my blog.

So after I play tennis this morning (oh yeah, tennis season is about to get underway and I’m captaining the women’s team again!), I am going to try to come back and get some extra sleep before I tackle today’s workload which is a little high. My brain is not functioning at it’s maximum efficiency. Could you imagine if I was drinking on top of it?!?! 20 days of no drinking and to be really honest? I don’t really miss it and I’m probably going to do some additional time once the challenge is over. Can’t hurt, might help. Here is an article on sleep tips. Unfortunately, I already do all of them so I may just have to resort to drugs!! Hey, it won’t be the first time. Just kidding, just kidding…. kinda

Namaste

To Sleep
by John Keats

O soft embalmer of the still midnight!
Shutting, with careful fingers and benign,
Our gloom-pleas’d eyes, embower’d from the light,
Enshaded in forgetfulness divine;
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close,
In midst of this thine hymn, my willing eyes.
Or wait the Amen, ere thy poppy throws
Around my bed its lulling charities;
Then save me, or the passed day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes;
Save me from curious conscience, that still hoards
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,
And seal the hushed casket of my soul.

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1/20/06 Perfectly Posed (PCT 18)

Couple of days blurred together here because I actually forgot to hit “post.”

Monday was a holiday (MLK) and it was cold. We wanted to bike but it didn’t reach 35 yet and there was too much ice on the ground so we opted for a run. It had to be one of my worse runs in a long time. My legs just wouldn’t move so instead of warming up, I just got colder and colder. At one point I considered leaving the park and taking a cab back to the start point where Steph and Michelle were waiting for me. I guess it is just part of the cycle. Two good runs last week and now one bad one.

Missy pointed out that perhaps my giving blood on Saturday had something to with it. Perhaps but it had been 36 hours so I think it should have been okay.

Tuesday night was a killer workout. I was hurting. We did hill repeats with squats. We started with a 5 minute warm up run, and then we did 45 seconds of squats followed by 45 seconds of one-legged squats followed by 30 seconds of one long-hold squat. Then we ran for at total of 10 minutes going up cat hill and back to the start. Then we did the squats again and then cat hill again. We kept repeating that 4 times. The object was to get farther and farther on each one. I got to the same point with increasing difficulty. After the 4th time up Cat hill we came back, did another squat series and then ran 1.7 miles around the lower loop. Amanda ran with me and that helped a little because I probably would have pooped out. My quads were hurting!!! Burning!! I didn’t feel it was an inspired run at all, but I did it.

Wednesday morning I had my Pilates session with Erica and I was so tired I thought there was something wrong with me. How could I be THAT exhausted after only a 1 hour 15 minute workout the night before? What kind of iron girl was that? Granted I didn’t get a tremendous amount of sleep, but I never do so I couldn’t figure it out. By the end of the session I did feel better. Pilates really seems to be a great cross training for me. I really feel it releases and realigns everything. And, it is surprisingly difficult. Every week Erica seems to take great joy in coming up with a new exercise to torture me. This is a picture of the stupid box that tortures me:

It’s not bad enough that I am already nervous to rely on my core strength to balance in some precarious position — I have to do it on top of a box while holding onto some straps. I’m often terrified but Erica doesn’t even indulge me for one second. “Uh-huh, just do it.” It usually works like this: the first time she makes me try something I shake and get so nervous and say I can’t. The second time I try it and make some lame attempt for two seconds to hold the position. The third time on I will try to at least get into the position but it takes weeks before I actually can do it. We do one exercise called short spine (not on the box). I swear she must have thought I was so dense because I couldn’t do it. Then one day I just got up there by accident and she said “that’s it!” I was so surprised “oh, that’s what you wanted me to do?” It is not that I’m so stupid, it is I’m so nervous because I’m not on the floor and there are moving parts underneath me and my legs are attached to straps that are pulling me. I don’t trust my core to be the only thing holding me up. This is a picture of what short spine looks like (no that’s not me!):

Now I’m very comfortable with short spine, but it took me awhile to believe in myself.

Usually after I leave the studio I get a little mad at myself. I get mad because I waste time with the theatrics of “oh, I can’t, I’m weak, I don’t have any balance.” Instead what I should do (ooh, there’s that should word) is get quiet, get centered and visualize. The second or third time I get so annoyed with myself that I summon my courage and force myself to try. I haven’t actually fallen off anything yet. And, unfortunately, since Erica has seen me master poses that I swore I could never do, now she doesn’t even pay attention to any whining. I guess that is good, but now I’m worried she’s going to make me hang upside down by a strap or something.

Building confidence in myself as I’m physically changing is hard for me. I’m actually shocked sometimes when my body steps up and does something of which I was convinced I was incapable.

Wednesday night I had a great swim!! Huge breakthrough. I reduced my stroke count from 20 to 16!!! 16!!! I’ve never, ever, ever, ever, ever broken 19. We had our warm-up and then we did a couple of laps counting our strokes. 20 again, as usual, always the same. No matter what I do. Jay stopped me after the warm-up and said “your right arm is not going deep enough. Your left arm is perfect. Now I want you really drive that right arm extra deep like it is a spear stabbing a fish.” So I did. I drove that right arm down like a spear. 17 strokes. I almost jumped out of the pool! I was high fiving Jay, I couldn’t believe it. He said “perfect — it looked perfect!” Then they asked us to do it again and try to reduce the number of strokes. Then I did it in 16!! Even now, sitting here writing this I can’t believe I did it. I don’t know if I could do it again. I was high.

After swim practice Earl said “you looked great.” I told him I went from 20 strokes to 16. He was so excited. He said “It’s looking really good. He said we have one final little adjustment to make on your breathing. You are breathing a little too late, so every other stroke you are dropping a bit. We’ll work on that next week but for now try to concentrate on taking your breath as your arm is coming out of the water and not as it is entering back in.” Not exactly sure what that means, but I’ll try it today when I do my laps. I’m so excited. Two and a half years ago I couldn’t finish two laps. This season I may actually get faster. All those drills for the last year are finally starting to work. Amazing…

Last night they asked me to speak at a TNT information meeting. They just wanted me to talk about why TNT is important to me and I said sure I would come up with something. I spent some time yesterday reflecting on my experiences over the last two and half years. I remembered not being able to swim a lap in the pool. I remembered not being able to make it up the Westside hill in Central Park (never mind around the reservoir.) I remembered falling on my butt the first time I tried to clip into my bike pedals. When I finally got up to speak I said “two and a half years ago I sat where you are sitting and I didn’t even know what a triathlon was. Today I stand before you as the mentor captain for the Spring Triathlon teams. I’ve completed 11 triathlons (10 Olympic, 1 sprint), 4 Hudson river races, logged at least a thousand miles on my bike, run 4 half marathons, completed the New York City Marathon and am now training for my first half ironman. I can’t begin to tell you how much this blows my mind.” I think Scott was actually proud of me. He sent some of the people who were afraid to do their first triathlon over to talk to me after the meeting.

And it does blow my mind — the ever expanding capacity for improvement. It is like a never ending staircase. I’ve put my sites on reaching the landing only to find the staircase turns and continues onward. Every step forward reveals how much more I can do. I entertain ideas now that two and half years ago would never even cross my mind. Now I’m not afraid of finishing, now I want to get better. I want to get faster. This is a huge step forward for me. Moving out of the “just here to finish” to the “I want to beat my time from last year.”

I’ve still been working on the visualization techniques and it seems to be helping a lot. I’m really trying to focus in and see who I am and what I can be with a new mind. Sometimes it is a little overwhelming, but sometimes, like when I finally get into that new Pilates Pose or when I reduce my stroke count I seem glimpses of what I might become. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. But once again I’m witnessing that confronting what scares you is what makes you stronger.

Namaste

I’ve used this quote before, but it is one of my all time favorites — I actually have it framed and on my desk.

“You must do the thing you think you cannot.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

p.s. that reminds me to tell you about the trapeze class someone is trying to talk me into. oy vey!!

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1/15/06 Happy Anniversary (PTC day 13)

Yesterday I gave blood for my friend Matt who was in that terrible cycling accident last month. I was nervous about my iron level, but guess what? 14.6 which is EXCELLENT (12.5 is the low end you can’t give). That’s two full weeks of taking my iron pills so I’m happy about that!!

Yesterday was also my 1 year anniversary with WW. My total weight loss is not what I wanted, but it is definitely better than what it would have been if I had not done WW. In 2005 I lost 21 pounds (it had been 31 but I started gaining after Napa in October and was losing traction fast.) That just shows me that had I not been going to my weekly meetings and at least trying to stay on plan that I would have gained all of my weight back and then some. I lost 2 pounds this week on WW but last week I was up 3, so net/net as of Friday is was 21 pounds since January 14th 2005.

I can’t blame WW — there is no flaw in their plan. When I follow it I lose weight, when I follow the when-i-want-what-i-want (WIW-WIW) plan I don’t. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about myself this past year in WW which, in my book, is worth so much more than weight loss. I was very lucky in getting two great leaders. Had I never met Marianne one year ago yesterday I never would have stuck with the plan. Because she made me stick up my hand and pledge, “No matter what, I will not quit” I probably would have left after two weeks. She used the magic word with me. I may be many things (and today I will try to not criticize myself) but I am NOT a quitter. For whatever reason that word has always been a magic word for me. I will not quit, I may crawl across the finish line but I won’t quit.

When Marianne retired I figured it was all over. She was the only WW leader I had met that didn’t annoy me. Luckily one month before she retired I had gone to a meeting at a different location because I didn’t want my group to know I had gained weight. That’s when I found Maggie and I started to study the psychology of weight loss. I have had so many AHA moments in the last six months with Maggie that I feel like I’ve been in psychotherapy. We have a particularly smart group and every single week I learn something about myself that I find surprising. I find myself repeatedly asking “I do that to myself? Why?”

The who, what, where and whys of fitness never cease to confound me. We are complicated creatures — constantly struggling and dealing with the compounds of psychology and physiology. The journey of discovery — the journey to finding out who we are — is called life. I’m not going to wake up one day and suddenly find my issues with food are over. I’ve had them for 46 years, what makes me think they will be gone tomorrow? I am who am I am; now I just have to learn to work within the parameters of self-knowledge.

A good example of knowing who I am is knowing I am not someone who can bake anything and have it around. Yesterday I made some whole grain cornbread. I made it from the Hodson’s Mill mix of whole grain flour, low fat milk, one egg and I tblspoon of oil. I ate 90% of it. Why? I was hungry but more important it was there. I could so I did. I couldn’t portion it out. So for right now that is who I am and I have to deal with that. No more baking (since the same thing happened last week when I tried to make bran muffins — I ate six right out of the oven.) I would never go into a cafe and order six muffins (albeit small ones) and eat them. In a cafe I recognize normal portions, in my kitchen I do not. This is one aspect of who I am right now. Next year I may have conquered that but right now, I’m working on it.

Who I am has changed over the past year. Just yesterday I was out for a run (I’ve had two really good runs this week on my own. I also had two really good Pilates sessions and two really good swim sessions this week. I had one kind of lame cycling session. With my one hour of tennis where I got totally blown off the court this week only totaled 8 hours of workouts. I needed a little more cycling in there but they were good workouts. I’m on the verge of being someone who would workout on her own even if I was not training for something. That is mind blowing. I actually enjoyed my runs this week and thought on a couple of occasions “ah this must be what Missy feels like when she runs — it’s not painful it is a release of energy.” I haven’t felt that in the past — working out has been a duty. Now it is becoming a want-to-do activity instead of a have-to-do activity. (I said becoming; I’m not there quite yet!)

This process of discovery has been a hard one. I have spent a full year looking in a mirror of my inner-self and trying to recognize the ever-changing reflection. This has been the hardest part of the journey for me. Food, alcohol, smoking, shopping, gambling — all of the “great” addictions I’ve experienced in my life are merely distorted reflections of myself. There is something else trying to get out, something else I am trying to come to terms with and when I am disappointed in myself I let it out in some other way. I think my biggest problem is to stop the judgment and criticism.

Somehow in my life I decided I was inadequate. Somehow I decided that I was never measuring up. I always thought I was just lazy. With a little effort I could always be better, stronger, faster, fitter, smarter, richer, and thinner. It was never enough to just be. If I was not on the road to somewhere I was nobody. I was defined by my accomplishments and if I didn’t have enough of them then I wasn’t enough. Five years ago when I started to downsize my business I started the process of learning that it is okay to just sit and be. I don’t have to make my company into a fortune 500. I don’t have to own a house on the beach and in the mountains. I don’t have to work 90 hours a week to prove that I am successful. Stress does not equal success. If you have to work that hard all the time you are doing something wrong. (Just as in running effort does not equal speed). I learned that and I believe it.

In my fitness life I have a tendency to put the same judgments I had in my previous career-driven life. Always admonishing myself that I should be faster (my company should be bigger), I should be thinner (my company should make more money); I should do more (get more clients work more hours). My desire to reach some arbitrary bar of success (determined by whom I don’t know) distorts my perception of my own achievements. It’s not enough to have run my own business for 13 years — it’s not on NASDAQ so it can’t really be that important. It’s not good enough to run the marathon in 6:20 — only 4 hours or better count because that’s the number I read in some magazine. It’s not good enough to lose 21 pounds in one year because a chart tells me I need to lose 30 more. I am ruled by arbitrary numbers that tell me I am below the line. Under average. Lowest percentile. And when I can’t deal with the fact that I have not pushed myself to get above the line I distract myself with whatever is around, food, booze, cigarettes (thank god not for 5 years now) or whatever else is handy.

Distract is the right word. I don’t think I self-medicate as much as distract myself from the constant chatter in my head “you should be doing blah, why aren’t you blah, you are capable of blah yet you don’t.” Then come the criticisms. “You must be lazy since you don’t blah, you don’t try hard enough because you don’t blah, and you are never going to achieve happiness because you don’t blah.” “Yeah, yeah, I know I know, leave me alone” I say to myself as I distract myself with a tin of cornbread.

In 2006 if I can do nothing other than turn off the self-recriminations I think that will be a huge success. Positive self-talk is one of the eight weight watchers tools. That is my goal for 2006 — to master positive self-talk. That and to do five half-marathons, two half-ironmans, and at least two century rides. Hey, I said I’m a work in progress…..

Namaste


“People assume that happiness stems from collecting things outside of yourself, whereas true happiness stems from removing things from inside of yourself.”
The Dalai Lama

This is the key — it’s not about the stuff or the achievements — it’s letting that all go and just be. Now the question is just how? How?

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