Monthly Archives: March 2008

3/31/08 Training Camp #5, Check

Monday.  Ah the feeling of resting and recovery muscles.  Almost as good as the feeling I get when I wake up and realize “Hey it’s Monday and I don’t have to swim, bike or run, yippee!”  I actually feel pretty good considering I just completed my 5th training camp of the season.

We started camp on Saturday at 6 a.m. in the city with a swim up at Asphalt Green.  At the start of the workout the coach said we should not feel exhausted at the end of this swim.   I felt it was a harder workout for me than usual (exhausted would be a stretch).  We worked on the pull part of the stroke.  So with that comes having to pull something.  Like a partner.  That actually was not so bad as my having to keep up with my partner when we had to practice drafting.  My partner was much faster than me.  I had to basically sprint to keep up with her for the first 25 meters and then she just left me in the dust for the second 25.  I really didn’t get the drafting benefit.  But my fault for being so darn slow.

After the swim we packed our cars and bikes and headed up to New Paltz.  Once we got up there we hopped on our bikes for a 4 hour ride.  I have to say it was one of the harder rides I’ve done.  Can’t say it was the hardest because I suffer from pregnancy memory when it comes to big workouts or even races like that.  Once I finish I almost immediately start to forget the pain so I pooh pooh the difficulty factor.  This time I tried to make note.

The ride was broken into 3 sections.  The first section was ride up the mountain and then do out and backs on a hilly road (Clove Rd).  Ride out easy, ride back (uphills) with effort.  I’ve done that road before so I knew already what was coming.  But it was good because one of the coaches coached me through the hills so I really tried to maximize my efficiency.  The worst part is right at the end of the return trip, there is a tiny little lip of of a hill that kills me every time.  I don’t know what I do but somehow I must contract my stomach muscles so hard when I stand and PUUUUHHHHHLLLL myself up and over that little hump that I swear I feel something go snap, crackle and pop right near my diaphragm.  I think that’s where the expression “Bust a Gut” comes from.  (Hmmm, or that could be a reference to the gut strings on a tennis racquet).  Doesn’t matter, I busted it, whatever it is.  Then we had to go back out and do it again, and again.  The moment of cresting that little hill is a 100% effort on my part.  “We do not remember days… we remember moments.”  Ceasare Pavese

We started to head down the big mountain and I was already feeling relieved because once we were down the mountain I knew it was going to be flatter riding.  I was riding and licking my wounds a little from the beating I just received from those craggy little hills when all of a sudden there was a coach telling me to turn right.  Turn right?  What? Huh?  Sure enough, halfway down the mountain was a road and I see my other teammates heading off onto it so I follow them.   We never did this road last year.  I was immediately out of my comfort zone.  This was unknown territory and I started to get very worried.  What have they cooked up this time?  (I had a little vision of my coaches going to dinner parties with their neighbors and instead of talking about stock markets or lawn car woes, they exchange pieces of information about new found torture devices for the visiting athletes.  “Hey we just found a new hill in the area, this one will really crush them.  Has a gravel bed too, you’ll love it!  Dip?”)

And then the hills began.  Not mountains, but good, generous hills.  By now we were nearly two hours into our ride and more than a little fatigued from climbing up the mountain and doing repeats on Devil Road (I’ve renamed it to something more appropriate than Clove Road which sounds much too innocent).  I make it up the first little hill on this new route only to be assaulted by a bigger one.  I see two teammates pull off to stretch.  Oh God, I warned my legs, don’t even THINK about stopping.  But stretching sounded good.  My hamstrings could have used it, but if I stopped I knew I wouldn’t easily get back on.  So I keep clawing up the hill.  Right there I had a moment that I wanted to record.  I actually said to myself “right here, right now, remember this.  This moment sucks.  When you get your post-workout amnesia, I want you to remember this moment as it really is, this is hard, this is taking everything you have to get up this hill.  And… say it again, this sucks.”   Even now as I’m writing this, I don’t remember how terrible it felt, I only remember myself making note of how hard that was.

Then we had a nice long decline — went on for what felt like two miles (might not be quite that long).  At first I was enjoying it.  Sun was shining in my face, the scenery was beautiful.  I thought “Oh, this is a glory moment, when everything feels great.”  Then I realized who had planned this workout, and that I was being lulled into a false sense of accomplishment.  Sure enough, I got all the way to the end of the road and there was a big orange arrow telling everyone to turn around and ride back.  Shoot me.  We have to ride back up that downhill we just came down?  Pedal, Pehhdal, Pehhhdal.  Then one of the coaches who will be doing St. Croix rode with me for a bit and that distracted me from the pain as we were talking about the heat and hills that I would have there.   Then, when I was back to my solo grind, I heard one gal whimper behind me, “how long have we been riding?  Are we almost done?”   I  didn’t have the heart to tell her that we had over an  hour to go.  Moments like that, best to not say anything.  Just look ahead, mind your own pain and pedal.

Finally we got off the hills section and we had one hour left of flat time trial.  Time to just ride as fast as you can after climbing hills for 3 hours.   I honestly did not know how I was going to do that.  But I actually think I did okay.  Once we were off the hills my legs were so grateful that the torture had ended that they were willing to do anything I said.    I think we were all hurting because I passed a couple of people I would never pass (and then we just played cat and mouse for the rest of the time passing each other.)  It was interesting because I knew I couldn’t do another big hill, but I was okay to ride on the flats.

And then we regrouped at the cars and had to put our running shoes on for an hour run.  Yep, a one hour run down a big hill and back up a big hill and then onto a flat.  Finish, turn around and do it again.  Keep doing until the hour is up or you have turned into salsa, whatever comes first.  Oy, I was just going to do the best I could.  I made it down the hill to the turn around point and a coach was standing there telling me to start my watch and time how long it took me to get back up the hill and all the way to the stop sign — exactly 1 mile.   I had to walk up the hill (which I maintain is faster than my run uphill).   Gravity was pulling me backwards and I just had nothing to propel myself forward.  When I got to the stop sign my timed mile was 13:14.  I then had to loop around and do it again, about the same 13:18.  After that I just did out and backs on the flats, I wasn’t going to go down the hill again.  I think the point of the “exercise” was to show us what pace we would probably be running in Lake Placid with the hills.  That’s just shy of a 6 hour marathon and I’m resigned to the fact that will probably be my pace.

Good notes of the day.  My nutrition worked fine.  I did 2 bottles of  my Infinit Formula and 2 bottles of plain water along with 3 gels during the ride. I felt like I had energy left for the run.  I didn’t bonk at all.  I sipped about another half a bottle on the run.  I also felt strong enough to finish everything.  My inner hamstrings had started to give out on the last part of the bike but toward the end I adjusted to an easier gear and kept spinning and trusted that it would go away — it did.  So I think it is good that I am starting understand my personal phases of pain and what I have to do to get through it.  My knee didn’t give out on the downhill either time so I didn’t get a chance to work through that but was a good lesson nonetheless.

The other thing I worked on all weekend was my pedal stroke. I definitely pull up on my pedal stroke but I realize now that I don’t start the downward motion soon enough.  If I think of my chainwheel as a clock, I’ve been starting my downward motion at about 1 o’clock.  It should start more like 11 o’clock.  It should feel like you are pushing through 11 right through to 1 but because it is a circle it goes up and over 12.  It’s hard to explain if you are not riding, but it was a missing piece to a pedal stroke of constant pressure all the way through.   I practiced it on the uphills and the flats.  It definitely helped.

 Day one complete. 1 hour swim, 4 hour bike, 1 hour run.  Eat, stretch, sleep and be up, out of the hotel and ready to run by 6:40 a.m. 

Temperature — ridiculously cold, It was like 20 degrees out pre-dawn Sunday morning.  We headed out to run the trails of Mohonk Mountain.  They had already told us that we would be running repeats on a hill called Godzilla.  I think the name pretty much says it all.  The coaches gave an option for those with bad knees or injuries to run a flatter route.  I took the flatter route.  I had done Godzilla last year and basically had to walk up it anyway.  I weighed the benefits I would get from running up and down a very steep hill with the damage I might do to my knees and I decided it wasn’t worth the risk.  I never make it past 8 miles without my knees giving out anyway so with a 2:30 run I knew I was headed for some pain with or without Godzilla.

First 2+ miles were a gradual downhill. The sun was coming up so it started to warm up a bit and was actually comfortable.  But my joints were taking a long time to warm up.  Nothing wanted to bend from my hips down.  It was part cold, part stiffness from the prior day’s activities.  I was really cajoling my joints into cooperating.  Bend a little more, c’mon, just a little more.  Around the 45 minute mark I started to feel some flashes of running.  By 1 hour I was warmed up and keeping a slow but steady pace going but I had to keep reminding myself to engage my hipflexors.  We were supposed to start our pickup at the 1:30 mark and I blew that (I was doing too much math in my head).  So when the coach ran by me a 1:36 and asked how my heart rate was and I said about a level 6/7 he said to pick it up we were in our interval already.   So my calculations to be a the top of the hill to start my harder effort were misfigured and I had to start running hard back up that same 2 mile incline we had run down.  But I was doing okay for me.

Funniest part of the whole day for me was when one of my friends on the team ran by me and said “c’mon catch me” which was a huge joke because he is one of the fastest guys on the team.  But it was good natured.  So he ran ahead and I’m huffing and puffing my way up the hill and then see him go into an outhouse on the side of the trail.  I started running as hard as I could to get to the little outhouse and then I pounded on the wall “HEY!  Do hear this?”  I yelled.  “This is the sound of me PASSING YOU!”  And then then I took off laughing so hard at being able to take advantage of the most opportune moment.  I got to pass one of the fastest runners on the team.  Okay it had to be with him locked in a room with his pants down, but you know strategy is strategy.    Like we say in tennis, part of the game is showing up to the match on time.  If you can’t get that part right, you can’t win.  Later when I got to the top of the hill and he caught up to me again I declared “It doesn’t count if you pass me on the flats, you had to pass me on the uphill!”  

After the 40 minute pickup (which I did the entire 40 minutes at a 10K effort) we went onto a nice flat easy trail for our cool down.  There were a couple of people nursing some injuries and all of a sudden it hit me.  Holy smoke.  I was at 2 hours and 15 minutes and I had not felt so much as a twinge in my knee?  Nothing.  Not only that, nothing in my quads and nothing in hamstrings.  Yes they were tired, but there were no cramps or pulled muscles.  Nothing in my calves either.  Wow, weird.  I really couldn’t get over my knee.  Somewhere in that workout I passed mile 8 (which is were I usually start to feel it go and everything starts falling apart from there.)  But now here I was at 2:15 and from the tip of my head to the tip of my toes, I had no acute pain anywhere.  Tired, sure.  Pain, none.  I can’t even say I had any discomfort (other than oxygen deprivation).  I can honestly say if I had to run more, I could have.  I didn’t want to, but I could.  I even had enough energy.  2 1/2 hours had just flown by.  It was a strange and unfamiliar feeling.

When we finished at 2:30 minutes the coach asked me how I was.  I told him it was a miracle.  I have NEVER, N.E.V.E.R, had greater than a 1:40 run without pain.  And I didn’t even walk up the hill, I ran (well okay, it’s really more of a jog…)  Granted I didn’t do Godzilla but my knee popped out last Tuesday trying to do my speed work on the Oval.  This was a miracle.  “I told you those standing hill drills on your bike were going to help your running.  Believe me know?”  I laughed.  What that guy won’t do or say to get me to stand and climb on my bike.  I was so happy that I truly felt joy in my heart.  I know it sounds corny but for the number of times I have hobbled into finish a workout or a race, to finish feeling strong and confident is an amazing feeling.   Now if I could just be strong, confident and faster that would REALLY be something.

We went back to the hotel, grabbed our bikes and went out for a flat recovery ride.  This year it really was a flat recovery ride (I remember last year was not so flat.)  It was actually fun because all the fast kids were slowing down so the slower people could ride with them.  I ride faster on the flats anyway so it was an easy ride for me and at the end of the ride I ended up taking turns drafting off a gal.  I thought that was a fitting way to end the last New Paltz camp because the two of us ended the first camp doing the same thing.  Total ride was only 1 hour and I felt good enough that if they wanted me to spin for another I could do it.  I couldn’t climb a hill though, that would have killed me.

For day two I also felt I did my nutrition right.  I brought one water bottle with me with a full serving of Infinit and I also took two gels.  I probably should have taken more fluids but it was so cold that I think my sweat rate was a little lower.  I got the calories in and later on the bike I just kept sipping away on plain water so I think I got some hydration back.  I didn’t bother to take any extra calories in on the short bike ride because I was already planning on having French Fries for lunch!

As far as the rest of the food went I found myself in my hotel room with no computer and no pen to write down everything I ate.  So I did the next best thing, I sent myself a text message with all my food notes.  So now I can just enter all my food for the weekend into my tracker because even though I worked hard, I know how easy it is to blow the caloric lead.  I want to get right back into my rhythm of shopping, chopping, cooking and tracking because I’m just 1.6 pounds away from hitting my 45 mark and I really want to get there.

All in all a successful camp.  I had no problems, no drama, no injuries.  I worked hard.  I tried to push myself and stay engaged in my efforts.  I’m also tried to really pay attention to the process and how I feel at each different stage.  Right now I’m feeling pretty good.


Body awareness not only anchors you in the present moment, it is a doorway out of the prison that is the ego.” Echhart Tolle, A New Earth

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3/28/08 Another Notch in the Belt

Friday.  Well another week under my slightly-shortening belt.  I didn’t lose any weight this week but I didn’t gain much either (+.2 which means I should have exhaled before I stepped on the scale.)  But I’m okay with it.  Now that I’ve finished 10 weeks of tracking (5 with point values and 5 without) I’m starting to see a pattern.  It seems I have a week or two with a minimal change in weight and then one week with a bigger loss.  -3.4, -.2, -.08, -2.8, +.2, -5.4, -1.6, +.6, -2.6, +.02.    So instead of having a steady loss each week it goes up and down.  Still net/net it is ~15 pounds and that averages to ~1.5 a week and I’m just fine with that.  Plus 10 weeks of tracking may be my personal best!!!  I’m much more intent on establishing new habits than praying to digital Gods.

I had strange experience this morning.   I’m trying to make plans for my upcoming trips to Florida and St. Croix and I have to gather some clothes for the trip.  Although I’m down 15 pounds I seem to have plenty of clothes to wear.  In the first pile, I have the clothes that finally fit me correctly even though I have been wearing them (now they look how they were supposed to look.)  In the second pile, I have the clothes that were just a little too tight and now they fit.  But I have a third pile of clothes that are getting to look a little sloppy because they are just a little too big.  I wanted to replace a couple of those items so I went to to see if I could get some inexpensive summer t’s and extra workout clothes.

On (and other sites) they have something called the virtual model.  You enter all of your measurements and they come up with a computerized model for you to try on clothes.  It’s really more of a gimmick because I don’t think it looks anything like me, but it’s fun to play around with for a minute or two or to at least get a bigger picture of proportions of an outfit without having to go to a store and try stuff on.  I logged in and noticed that the weight had my old weight from about 15 pounds ago but honestly I don’t recall buying anything from that website in at least a year so all the measurements I had entered were from some time ago.  I haven’t taken my measurements in a long time so I figured I should update everything.  The results were pretty shocking.

Since the last recording, I’ve lost 3″ across my chest, 4″ from my waist, 3″ from my booty, and 2″ from each of my thighs (though can’t tell by looking at them).   Now I know that these numbers were from last year and that in addition to losing weight I have definitely changed body shape a little too, but nonetheless 4″ from my waist is pretty big.  (I had actually checked my waist in the fall so I’m only 2″ less on my waist from the fall but 4″ from earlier last year). 

I’m most pleased with the waist measurement because Dr. Oz says in his book You on a Diet, “For optimum health, the ideal waist size for women is 32 1/2 inches: once you hit 37 inches, the dangers to your health increase.  For men, the ideal is 35 inches and the dangers to your health increase once you hit 40 inches.”    Although I am still overweight, it is a big relief to be in the optimum waist range again.  (Thank goodness he doesn’t give an optimum number for the hips otherwise I would be in BIG trouble!)

Then there is the news that came out yesterday about “having a big belly in your 40s can boost your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia decades later.”  That was a shocker and a wake-up call.  Here is the full article  Not bad enough that you have higher risks for heart attacks, now we have to worry about dementia too! 

Today at our meeting we were talking about trigger foods.  It was very interesting for me because pre-January I would have had no problem identifying my trigger food — cheese.   One bite of cheese and I’m face first in fondue.  (Other favorite expressions: “First bite, Fatal Bite” or “one bite is too much a thousand bites never enough.”)

Since giving up dairy, however, I have found my cravings in general are pretty much gone.   Eliminating dairy also naturally reduces intake of some of dairy’s best friends — sugar and white flour.   Without all of those I find my red light food list has really shrunk to just one food — French Fries, lol…  (There will always be some vice I guess, lol.)

This morning I played a game of tennis.  I lost but I was okay with it.  I was hitting okay, just making a few too many unforced errors.  I was very happy with how my knees felt.  I had a lot of bounce in my legs and was really able to get down to the ball and run everything down.  Now why couldn’t I have had bounce on TUESDAY during my run?  I had no knee pain at all.  I still haven’t figured what made my legs so tired on Tuesday but let’s hope they hold out for this weekend.

My serve was okay but again a lot of unforced errors and that just boils down to practice time which I really won’t be able to put in until after Placid.  I realized that I really missed playing those 7 a.m. tennis games — it was always a great way to start the day.  I made note that after I retire from Ironman training it will be great to get back out on the early morning courts again.

We had an easy endurance swim assigned for today.  I cut it to 30 minutes because I had spent so much time serving beforehand and we have another swim tomorrow at 6 a.m. (oy!)  I’m happy that I’m able to play but I can feel when it’s starting to push my shoulder too much. 

After swim tomorrow we are off to our final boot, er  I mean training camp in New Paltz.  Hours and hours of biking and running and then some more biking and running.  That should be good for another notch in the old belt!


Article in today’s NY Times about runner’s high.  I get biker’s high, but I guess I don’t run fast enough to merit a runner’s high, lol.

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3/27/08 Skill Building (Shirataki Noodles)

Thursday.  Well whatever was “bugging” me Tuesday/Wednesday seems to be gone.  I took yesterday as an extra rest day from training because I just didn’t feel right — I was still very cold and I had a strange headache.  Of course I felt terribly guilty about missing a training day (was the first training day I have missed in quite awhile.)  But I think I have learned that sometimes if you just give in to your body the demands won’t be as bad as you think.  If you don’t give in, then sometimes the demands get worse.  I figured I got off cheap with taking one day off instead of letting it turn into something requiring more time.

Although I didn’t do my swim workout, I did run the tennis clinic in the morning.  It didn’t require much physical effort on my part because there were 4 players so they did all the hard work.  They are a very responsive group so that lifted my energy a bit.  But, at the same time, by skipping my swim workout I didn’t earn any activity points so I was a little nervous about staying in my point range.  (I’ll admit, in addition to training for the Ironman, earning some extra activity points is a huge motivator to get out and sweat every day!) 

This morning I woke up feeling just fine.  Not tired, not cold and my knee seems to have popped back into joint.  So I got on my bike and met the team for our 5:30 a.m. workout in the park.  We have finished with our strength training segment and are starting our speed work segment.   I brought out my race bike (Tina) a little early this season.  I figure I’m doing St. Croix half ironman in 5 weeks so I better start doing more hill climbing on my race bike.  Same work as previous weeks, Intervals, but this time we were to ride as fast as we could while keeping it in an optimal gear for 95 rpm.   I was still big chain ringing it but I admit my race bike is a lot easier than my clunky old road bike.

The group got split up fairly quickly.  Soon it was me and my two rabbits once again chasing each other around the park.   I pass them on the flats and they whiz by me like I’m standing still on the hills.   Once again we had a great coach/trainee ratio (5 of us and two coaches).  Although we love the ratio, there is very little place to hide.  And once some people split off it was only the three of us (who are pretty even) with even less room to hide. 

During one loop I had one of the assistant coaches riding right behind me barking at my heels the whole way.  (Apparently my M.O. is I back off on the uphills and she was intent on not letting me do that.)  Each loop we had to swing around and repeat Harlem Hill.  It was much harder for me to start the interval with a hill instead of finishing with a hill, but I did my best.  By the third full loop my quads were screaming at me.   But that’s okay, I  could barely hear them over the wheezing sound of my sucking wind anyway.  Of course the coach said he wanted to see me sacrifice more on the uphills.   I guess I could let out a little blood next time… lol

On a food note, yesterday turned out to be an interesting day calorie-wise.   By the time dinner rolled around I had a measly 3 points left for the day.  3 points is nothing (150 calories, give or take.)  Okay, so it was going to have to be soup and salad for dinner. Blah, boring and would that be enough? (Because of course I am in danger of starving to death any second….) But blech, I hate “HAVING” to eat soup and salad — that makes me feel like I’m being punished…  Once I start feeling punished it’s a short hop to take a ride on the train to indulgence town.

Then I realized I had some asparagus and thought I’d make some asparagus “fries.” They make me feel like I’m eating something much more substantial (whether my activity actually required something substantial or not).  I started to debate whether or not I wanted to use up my last 3 points on some pasta or brown rice. Then my aha moment.  I realized that I stopped by Westerly Market and I had picked up some of the Shirataki Tofu Noodles that a gal had talked about after the meeting last week. PERFECT!! This is exactly the right time to try them. I had purchased the spaghetti style.

I roasted my asparagus as usual (15 minutes in my toaster oven at 400 degrees). I don’t put anything on it — just line the toaster oven pan with tin foil and roast the asparagus for 15 minutes. (I do chop off the drier ends and if they are thick stalks I take a veggie peeler to them quickly — thin stalks I don’t bother.)

While they were cooking I gently rinsed the Shirataki Tofu Noodles and let them totally dry by gently tossing in a strainer.

In a non-stick skillet on medium-high I put some onion and garlic with a spray of Pam. Points 0.

I added some celery (1 stalk) and Shitaki mushrooms (1 cup chopped) and another quick spray of Pam (honestly not even sure if I needed that). I just kept tossing everything until they were cooked through and lowered the heat to medium-low. Then I added the roasted asparagus and chopped it in the pan. Everything was looking good. So far total points ZERO. (I could have used any vegetables I had in the fridge).

Then I added an entire package (8 oz) of the drained and dried (well, not wet at least) Shirataki Noodles. I thought for sure they were going to fall apart and turn to mush as soon as I added them. Nope. They were just fine. I lightly tossed them with a large squirt that Rooster hot sauce and a package of soy sauce (from Chinese take out). I tossed everything over the medium-low heat until thoroughly mixed.

I put it on a large white plate. It looked HUGE.  I took a taste and was pleasantly surprised.  Not bad, in fact, pretty good.  I might try some different spices next time but for a asian style feast, not bad at all.

I sat down and put everything into my online tracker. Total points for this HUGE dinner = 0, ZERO, Nada, Zilch, Nothing.  There were no calories to speak of.  Amazing!!  Now am I saying I would eat these pre-race or something?  Heck no, but on a night when I haven’t really earned any calories, this is a great option.

I still had left over points so I added an apple for dessert and some air popcorn.  I felt like I got away with robbing the points bank!  This is the link to the shiratki noodle site.  Ingredients are safe too.

Tomorrow is my WW meeting.  I’m not feeling any lighter this week, but that’s okay, I’ve stuck to the plan and I’ve maintained my points.   I’m really getting into a groove on tracking and sticking with this.  In fact I am very pleased with how I’m sticking with all aspects of training — mental, physical and spiritual.   As long as I’m ultimately going in the right direction and I’m building habits and skills for a lifetime, I’m okay with whatever appears on the scale or clock.  I have training camp this weekend and I’m pretty sure they’ll sweat something out of my sorry patooty anyway.


Anytime I complain about Harlem Hill or even THINK about going over my points allowance, all I have to do is look at this picture of the “Beast” in the St. Croix Half Ironman.  That should shut my mouth for both instances.the_beast.jpg

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3/26/08 Recovery Schmovery

Wednesday.  Explain this.  Last week was recovery week.  I did everything I was supposed to do.  I did active rest — made all my workouts nice and light, didn’t push anything.  I stretched, I slept, I did my best to recover.  By the weekend I was feeling pretty good.  I did an easy “Muffin ride” to Nyack with one of my teammates.  We cruised up to Nyack, ate a muffin (egg salad for me and shocked to find it was 8 freakin points!) and we cruised back.  3 hours forty five minutes, easy peasy no problem.  Sunday morning I did an easy run with Colleen and Mo, nothing hard at all just giving my legs a little run to keep them in business.  Monday I stretched and rested.  I was the model recovery week athlete.  I ate my fruits and veggies and I hydrated.   So now explain this, why was I totally zonked yesterday during my run?!?!?  No fair I say.  No fair at all.

I corralled a couple of my teammates to meet me in the park at 5:30 to do our extra ride outdoors.  We took it very easy.  We did three, super easy, conversational, high cadence, small ring, easy gearing loops of the park.  It was really cold but everyone of us wore the right clothing.  Nobody forgot their second pair of gloves or balaklava.  Four of us just did our work out and even cut it short opting not to do a 4th loop for this week (next week we’ll do four).  I came home, changed and immediately got on my reformer for a thorough stretch.  I did fifteen minutes of quad, hamstring, glutes.  I never give myself such a thorough stretch after a hard bike (even though I should) and this was NOT a hard bike.  I should have received extra credit for being the perfect (there’s that word again) athlete in training.

It was chilly out so I waited until lunchtime to go out to the park to do my speed interval running workout.  Oh my goodness.  I couldn’t believe how stiff and disjointed I felt.  I was truly shocked.  I did my usual walk up to Columbus Circle, no big deal.   I started jogging up to the reservoir and I knew I was not feeling “sparkly” to say the least.  My legs felt like stumps.   Weird, why would that be?   I tried to be patient and give myself whatever I needed for my warm up.  “You’ll warm up once you hit the westside hill, that’ll get you moving.”  It took me 19 minutes to get to the reservoir.  It usually takes me about 17.  That’s a pretty big difference even for a warmup jog.

Then I had to head back down to the circle behind the delacorte theatre to do intervals.  Basically I had to keep doing loops around the “track” until I turned into peanut butter.   Two loops (1 mile) as fast as I could go (5k pace), then 1.5 loops, 1.25, 1 and 1/2 and 1/4 loops with recoveries of half the distance in between.  The goal was to do a faster pace by a couple of seconds on each interval.   I was trying to move but I couldn’t on the first mile.  It turned out to be an 11:30.  11:30?  I haven’t done an 11:30 in a long time.  But my legs just wouldn’t go.  Then I recovered.  The next couple of intervals were better but not by too much.  I didn’t even get close to a 10:30 or better.  By the last interval my left knee started to hurt and I had to make the decision whether to go on or call it a day.  I tried to massage my knee and stretch, no good, it was out of joint.   What the heck happened?  I didn’t do the final short sprints — I just left and ran back to Columbus Circle, stopping every once in awhile to try to get my knee to go back in place.  (Miraculously, today it is fine back in joint.  I forgot I should go do the rowing machine when that happens…. darn.)

I was stumped.  Even before my knee went out, I was zonked.  It couldn’t have been the morning bike — we did such an easy spin it was ridiculous.  It wasn’t that I didn’t take recovery week seriously, I took it very seriously even telling people to go ahead last Thursday when they were intent on doing fast laps.  There was no reason in the world for my legs to be tired.  I’m still stumped.

Then I got cold.  I tried to make a habit of stopping at the grocery store when I leave the park so at least once a week I will have stocked up on some supplies.  I think I let myself get too cold because the rest of the day I couldn’t shake the cold.  I had the electric blanket on, the heater blazing, three sweaters and two pairs of socks.  I was chilled to the bone.  Even this morning I woke up thinking “enough of this cold weather.”  Even though the temp was in the 40’s I just feel cold.  (That’s still considered cold, right?) I don’t know maybe I’m coming down with something but I don’t have any other symptoms other than apparently I can’t run anymore and I feel cold.  What ailment is that called?  The running shoe flu?

Food has been going well.  I have continued to document and track.  I’ve been shocked with the points values of a few items.  8 pts for 1/2 an eggsalad wrap at Runcible Spoon.  I used to have that all the time last year — no more thanks.  On the other hand I had a strange craving for pineapple yesterday after my run (let’s add that to the list of weird symptoms) so I bought two containers of pineapple at Westerly.  I weighed them and found each one to be 6 oz.  I ate them both (that’s a lot of pineapple).  When I plugged in the points it said that the 12 oz of pineapple was only 2 1/2 points!!  Wow, that’s a bargain.  That’s a huge amount of food and only 2 1/2 points?!?!   I had also bought some vitamuffins and had one of those.  I was shocked to find a vitamuffin is only 1 pt.  It’s not a huge muffin but it’s much bigger than any one of those 2 point bars and its full of fiber and well, like the name says, vitamins.  Good bargains at twice the points.

Today I’m tired even though I got plenty of sleep.  I’m just not sure what’s going on.  During recovery week I felt fine, now I’m tired?  That makes no sense.  It’s like a delayed response.  I’m just going to keep on moving and hope my body figures out what it is doing by the weekend when we have our final New Paltz training camp.  I’m sure they’ll find many ways to make it “fun” for us.  Meanwhile this morning I have another tennis clinic to run, and then down to my swim.  Tomorrow looks like we might be rained out of an outdoor bike and that might be a good thing for me.

I’m reminded of an article by Danny whatshisname the Chi Running Guy in an newsletter last week.  He was saying that everyone has good runs and bad runs.  But no matter what you can always take something away from the workout — a chance to practice technique or a chance to learn something.  You just have to look for it.  I keep trying to look for what was the reason I had such a crummy run after being so “good” for a week.  The only lesson I could come up with is sometimes life is just not fair.


I’ve posted this one before but it makes me laugh so…


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3/21/08 Sticking to a Budget

Friday.  Recovery week is coming to a close.  Today was an easy swim (1600 meters).  Good thing too because the pool was CROWDED with everyone who had off from work for Good Friday. 

WW was good today.  I was feeling fairly confident going over that I was down a pound or two and I was down 2.6.  That felt just about right.  The .6 was to wipe out last week’s up .6 and the 2 pounds to be distributed over the two weeks.  I felt I ate adequately, healthily and within control.  I documented everything and the numbers on my tracker supported exactly what I should have lost.  I’ve lost 15 pounds since January 1.  I’m happy with that. 

I am aware that I am riding a huge wave of momentum.  The better I do the more driven I am to continue.  But I know too well how it feels to be on the opposite side of that momentum.  Negative momentum.   I fought the process for a long time.  It didn’t seem fair.  I definitely felt like I was being unjustly punished and I really resented the effort I had to put in to lose even 1/4 of a pound.   I certainly tried to stick to plan but a lot of the time it seemed like a battle of fighting cravings and hunger.  It seemed like a huge amount of time and effort for such little results.  Then a couple of good weeks with baby steps (Kaizen!) of scribbling down everything I ate and starting to choose the right foods and I finally found a wave starting to develop. 

Today our meeting leader was talking about the feelings of resentment.  She equated it to shopping.  We all have to live within a budget.  Some of us have tighter budgets than others but nonetheless we have a certain amount of money we can spend before we go into debt.  When we walk into a store and see a dress we want but sees that it is much too expensive for our budget, we don’t walk out of the store, stomp our feet and start crying “it’s not fair!”   We don’t moan about it, we look for some other way to afford it.  We might wait for it to go on sale, we might select something else, we might just forget about it.  Tracking points works much the same way as budgeting our money.  You look at a piece of cheesecake and think “is this worth going into debt for?”  If it is, go for it.  If it isn’t don’t stomp your feet and declare it unfair, you’ve just made a decision based on your budget, not on fairness. 

In my opinion the debt is only half the story.  I think if you are fighting biological cravings and hunger it is much harder to get out of debt.  I think of biological cravings and hunger as an exorbitantly high interest rate on your credit card.  You don’t lose as quickly as you want because you are fighting two things at once — the debt and the interest.  For me (and I can only speak for me), purging myself of processed sugars and fats as well as the hormones and chemicals found in milk products was like transferring my balance over to a 0% interest card.  Now I’m just trying to pay off the debt which is MUCH easier if I am not trying to tackle the interest too.  I’m not saying it can’t be done, I just think it is just much harder.

There was nothing hard about last week that I can’t repeat again this week.  For right now, I’m just putting money in the bank and saving for  that rainy day when I have a huge shopping trip planned.


“Money grows on the tree of patience.”

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3/20/08 Turning Technique into Habit

Thursday.  Still in recovery week so there is not too much exciting training stuff to share.  Tuesday I ran up to the reservoir and did two easy loops and back down.  I was surprised how stiff my muscles were but I took it easy and just kept telling my legs “don’t worry, nothing crazy happening.”  They remained suspicious until we hit Whole Foods.

Yesterday I ran the tennis clinic again.  Only two ladies this time so we did a bunch of two on one drills and then played some Canadian doubles.  Both of them are well into their retirement years and I was very impressed with how fit they are.  They were running down balls, attacking the net.  I would say 60 is the new 50 but I know a lot of 30 year olds who couldn’t run that fast.  I also appreciate the fact that even though they are in their post-retirement years they are open to working toward getting better.  And why not?  If you have another good 20 years of playing tennis, why not try to get better?  Heck if you have another year of playing tennis, why not try to get better?  Heck if you have another year of doing anything, why not try to do it better?

After the tennis gig I went to the pool for my 1600 meter swim.  I added a few extra laps because I wanted to get up to 45 minutes.  I did some drills and then I did my 1600.  Nice and easy, I practiced going slow and giving myself enough time to really concentrate on every aspect of what I was doing (once I speed up it all kind of goes where it wants and I’m not coordinated enough to concentrate on two things at once).  Interesting article in today’s NY times about how a faster swimmer trains slowly  

One of the most interesting tidbits I took away from this article is that he is an accomplished swimmer and he STILL thinks he needs to work on his technique.  Top tennis pros still work on their strokes.  There is always room for improvement.   It might be about getting stronger, faster, more efficient or even just smarter.  One of the women yesterday noted of herself “I constantly make the wrong decision about WHEN to come into the net.  She didn’t need me to tell her she just needs to work on it.

This morning our group bike was cancelled due to weather but a small group of us showed up to ride anyway.   We did a recovery ride around the park — 3 big loops, 2 lower loops.  Easy gearing.  The weather report called for rain but it was 57 degrees so I figured I would rather be a little wet and ride out doors than indoors on my trainer.  Ironically, the entire time we rode there was no rain (wet roads but no rain).  There was also nobody in the park so it was an eerily calm morning out there.  Just the seven of us spinning around the park.  The faster kids eventually split off and I just finished with my regular riding partner, having a chance to actually chat and ride for once.  Can’t say I got my Thursday endorphin rush that I’ve come to love but I got some good pedalling in.

I was three days behind on updating my online tracker and it was making me nervous.  Last night I forced myself to enter everything (it took a grand total of 10 minutes).   I had been measuring and writing everything down but I hadn’t calculated the points.  I was so relieved to find that when I finally put everything into the computer that I am right on track for the week (I even have points left over!).  I feel good so I am not expecting to be up (but then again I wasn’t expecting to be up last week either.)  I think I operate a little too close to the edge when it comes to my points but for right now I’m okay with that.  If I see the scale creeping up too much, I’ll pull in the reigns a little tighter.  I’m really pleased to see that I’m starting develop little tricks and habits that are sticking whether I am counting points or not. 

I think one of the biggest changes I have made is that I now measure EVERYTHING.  I know exactly how many ounces, tablespoons, teaspoons I eat of everything.  I think that alone has made a huge difference.  There is a big difference between one tablespoon of Almond Butter and two.  It’s a hundred calorie difference but it wouldn’t seem like much if you were just sticking your spoon into the container.  Olive oil, too I measure out my daily 2 teaspoons instead of the free form pour I used to do.  That’s a lot of calories that can sneak into your diet with zero effort.  I’m also eating a ton of fruits and vegetables.  I think it was Saturday when I found myself out of fresh fruit and I was surprised.  What?  No apples?  Oranges?  Bananas?  I eat huge salads now and I’m Queen of all vegetables that get roasted.  I now go through the produce aisle looking for victims for my roasting pan and silkpat.

I’ve gotten into the habit of sending myself a text message or an email when I am eating something outside of the house and have no place to scribble it down.  Takes a second and then later I can record it.

Of course, not to stand on a soapbox about it, but it has been two full months since I have had ANY dairy.  No milk, no cheese, no sourcream, no yogurt, no butter no dairy of any kind.  It has made a huge difference in my food cravings.  I basically don’t have any anymore.  I havn’t been craving anything really.  When it comes to dessert I grab an orange.  At first I was getting Tofu replacements for all of the 2 point ice cream bars but even those just fizzled out.  I eat soy pudding pretty with a banana for a special dessert.  I don’t even THINK about cheese and that was a major part of my diet. 

I’ve been successful in limiting my alcohol to Sundays and even that seems to be under control.  I have my red wine on Sunday and I don’t even think about it the rest of the week.

Just like concentrating on my technique in my multi-sports, I work on technique in the kitchen too.  Learning to spray instead of pour, dip instead of soak, have vegetables be the star of the dish instead of the accent.   I’m starting to grab the same things for meals but they are healthier items.  I can’t even remember the last time I ordered in.

Whether I am practicing my timing of my tennis toss or my holding the water on my swim stroke or full rotation of my bicycle pedal or measuring and entering everything into my tracker, I’m practicing technique that I hope to turn into habit.  There is no real end to it, it’s all just practice to be a little better every day and one day you look up and find you’ve been doing something automatically without even trying.


We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”  


(Do you think he ever had to track points?)

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3/17/08 You’re Stronger Than You Think

Monday.  Deep exhale and say “Ahhhh,” recovery week, finally!  About midway through last week I started to feel that a recovery week was due.   Tuesday’s hill repeats, Thursday’s over-gearing and a HUGE brick on Saturday (not to mention some swim sessions in between) called for a nice recovery.

Saturday we had a 1.5 mile swim time trial at Asphalt Green.  I was only seconds slower than my time trial from the same time last year.  And, I swam 1.5 miles on Friday as well.  No shoulder pain during or after either of my swims.  That’s about as good as it gets so I’m really pleased with that.  My swim time is another story, but I’ll keep working on it.  To be honest, if I repeat my swim from last year’s Ironman I’m okay with that.   I’m officially not worrying about that leg of the event which is nice because last year I was very worried about the swim.  Sure I’d like to knock a few minutes off but I’m more interested in knocking time off of something that will have a bigger impact, like my run!

After our swim time trial we went home and grabbed our stuff to meet over the GWB for a big Key Workout (Key workouts are ones they don’t want us to miss.)   This was going to be a brick (bike/run) so I had to pack my running shoes, extra water bottle and carry it on a backpack to the practice (some people just tied their running shoes to their handlebars.)

My race bike, Tina, was fresh out of the shop.   She had just received a whole new handlebar and aerobar set (yes it was expensive but it was for my piece of mind).  I was having nightmares after her aerobar rest pad broke that there was a hairline fracture elsewhere in the handlebars (they were scratched from the accident).  I also put on her correct wheels with the correct cogset (I had the cogset for my road bike on her by stupidity last time).  So I dragged Tina all spiffed up out for her second big workout.

It usually takes me 45 minutes to ride from my apartment to over the George Washington Bridge.  On Saturday it took me an hour!!  I got on my bike and I was pedalling, pedalling, pedalling thinking wow I’m tired!!   I was riding 9 mph up Riverside drive, I couldn’t believe how slow I was going.  I just chalked it up to tired legs from the weeks event.  I was praying they would warm up.  

Since I arrived to the meeting point late, the team had already left for Ranger’s station.  I figured by my calculations if I kicked it I could catch up to the slower members of the team.  So I pedalled and pedalled but I wasn’t going anywhere fast.  My heart-rate was high.  I was trying but I couldn’t move.  What the heck was going on? 

I made it to the team just as they were about to head out on the first of three, twenty minute ride segments.  I tossed the backpack I was carrying that had my shoes and extra water under a tree and set out to join them for our ride.   One of the assistant coaches stopped me and asked, “what’s that noise coming from your bike?”   I didn’t know, I was exhausted already and I was so consumed with trying to catch up with everyone I hadn’t noticed any noise (and with my headband and helmet over my ears I don’t hear too well anyway).  I tried to listen and then I heard it too.  I got off and checked everything.  Lo and behold, my back brake was rubbing.  Every so slightly but it was rubbing.  Great, I just rode 1:30 minutes with my brake rubbing.  No wonder I was exhausted.  I fixed it and took off to try to catch everyone.

My heart-rate never really came down.  I was definitely feeling a little stressed from being late and trying to catch everyone.  When we finished the bike we had to change into our running shoes and start three, thirty minute run segments.  When I started my first run segment, my heart-rate was very high for me (157 where 146 is what I consider my running a 10k pace).  I know in a race situation the right thing to do would be to walk until I got my heart-rate down but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to train my legs to run right after biking.  I had to run up a very slight incline but those first 10 minutes might be right up there with hardest portion of any workout I’ve ever done!

My legs were shot.  My lungs were working overtime.  I felt like I was running on tree stumps up a mountain.  Oh boy, I was not looking forward to an hour and a half of this.  But I knew once I got up onto the main road it would flatten out and if my heart-rate didn’t come down then  I would walk.  I just wanted to get that muscle memory into my legs of this is the transition from the bike to the run and you know what to do.  My legs were not too happy with me.

The second leg of the run was down a steep hill so I opted out of that.  I mean there is pushing yourself and then pushing yourself over a cliff.   I had to weigh the benefits I would get from doing that right now and although it is something I want my legs to be prepared for come race day, my knees had a rough week and I just felt keeping it to the flatlands was the right thing to do so I turned around and went back up the main road.

Third leg of the run I actually started doing some running instead of that weird little tree stump shuffle.  I was actually relieved.  Ah, there is is, takes me a long time but I do find the groove eventually.

I did my nutrition well, calorically speaking (Infinit in my bike bottles) but I learned a couple of good lessons about other nutritional products.  I learned I can’t run and chew a bag of Cliff Shot Blocks!  They are way too complicated!  I’ve used them on the bike and didn’t have many problems with them but trying to chew this big gummy cube while running was hard!  I also learned that double shot espresso gel is just gross.  Technically I could just run with my Infinit formula but I want to have some backups.  So far in my previous session all I have found that I like and can manage are Sportsbeans and plain gu — no flavors — followed by an immediate glug of water.  Of course I can always rely on my $4 a pop Enervitene but I’ll save those for races.

I couldn’t believe how hot it got while I was running.  I had on trishorts, a thin, short-sleeved under armor top and a light long-sleeved workout shirt.  I was sweating and it only 50 degrees!   Did I really do workouts like this in 80 degree weather last year?   Is St Croix 1/2 Ironman really only six weeks away?  That is going to be really hot.

Speaking of St. Croix, here’s a weird note.  Not nervous about being able to finish a 1/2 Ironman at all.  Of course I am totally conceding that I may have to walk up the Beast and I may have to walk some of the run if it is hot and hilly but endurance-wise, no problem.  I can swim the 1.2 miles, bike the 56 and run the 13.  The only kicker is that heat and the hills, those will bring me down a lot.    But I have six weeks to get even fitter and stronger and I will keep in mind that St. Croix is my “fun” race not an “A” race.  I will worry about performance at Tupper Lake.  I’m looking forward to doing a race — as I said to my ride partner yesterday, the thing about doing triathlons is that in every race somewhere during the bike I always think, what a great way to spend a day.  Swimming, biking (eh running, the necessary evil) with people around you handing you water while you get to basically play.  What more could you want?

In in a weird, sick kind of way, I enjoyed my big workout on Saturday.  I think a big part of that comes from being so grateful that I can do it at all.  I ran into one of my old coaches from a couple of seasons ago who was out doing the workout with us.  He asked me how I was and I told him I’m 100%, it felt like a long climb out of the hole but there is nothing I can’t do now and I’m right where I was last year if not even a little better in many ways.  He said he understood as he has been in similar situations and has often marvelled at the capacity of the human body for recovery.  I agreed that it was a pretty phenomenal process — how the body heals, in its own way and in its own time.   Just thinking about that fills me with a deep sense of gratitude and awe.  So in the end looking back at the workout where I suffered but I felt strong and capable I realized that I had (in that weird, sick kind of way) a good time out there.  I actually enjoy the process of training, it’s fun and rewarding on many levels.  (And let’s be honest, nothing wrong with a little endorphin high too.)

After our run we had to get back onto our bikes and ride home.  All I kept thinking was Why oh why didn’t I drive over the bridge?  The coach kept telling us that a light easy spin would help our legs recover.   Ugh.   As I pedalled toward the bridge my right inner hamstring started cramping along with my left calf.  Wonderful.  Where’s my car when I need it?

By the time I hit Riverside Drive all the cramps in my legs went away and I rode home with two of my favorite teammates.  We rode by a bike race which was cool and we chatted as we looked at the architecture on Riverside drive and the sun was coming out.  I had to make note that we were all blessed to be able to do all of this.  It truly is a miracle that we are healthy enough and have the opportunity to celebrate our lives and the great gift of our physical resources.  Time from bridge back to my apartment, 45 minutes easy pace.  (Note to self:  ALWAYS check brake pads before leaving.)

Sunday I did an okay ride out to Piermont and back.  We should have gone further but my ride partner got a flat and that held us up a bit (along with a stop at the bike shop to get her parts).  In the end we put in 48 miles which seemed unfortunately short because I was ready to ride longer.  But, I had company coming for dinner so I had to turn around.  While I was cooking I had to chuckle to myself,  wow, 48 miles doesn’t seem like very much?  You’ve come a long way baby.


“Always remember Pooh, you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

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