Monthly Archives: January 2009

25 Random Answers About Me and the Marathon des Sables

I’ve been inspired to write up my list answering the top 25 questions about my big event next Monday night. Hope you will be there. (Ripping off both my Coach Earl’s training emails and Facebook chain mails all in one fell swoop).

1. Yes, I am racing on foot 150 miles across the Sahara desert in Southern Morocco.
2. No, I have not had a psych evaluation… recently….
3. Yes, I am hosting a charity event for the kids in the after school program Abundant Waters. (MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 6 – 9 P.M. Irish Repertory Theater, 132 West 22nd Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
4. No, you don’t have to be there at 6 but the doors will be open and the kids will be performing 2 short dances at 6:30 — little bodies have to get back to bed early (as well as old bodies). Afterwards we will have some mixing, mingling and music as well as the opportunity to watch some clips from MDS.
5. Yes, there will be fabulous door prizes as usual – great Theater tix, restaurant certificates, gym memberships, a tennis camp weekend in the Hamptons and a lot more… Show up, you never know you might win something great!
6. Yes, we will be serving refreshments, wine, soft drinks, and snacks.
7. No, we are not partying all night, lights out at 9 p.m. It’s a Monday night, don’t you have to work or train the next day?
8. Yes, the charity is a local after school program for under-privileged kids in Hell’s kitchen. All of the money is going to the charity – none of this is to subsidize my race in any way.
9. No, you do not have to contribute your 401k (besides we know it’s not worth anything right now anyway.) No contribution is too small to attend but please be as generous as you can.
10. No, there are no showers in the desert and yes I will be stinky (as well as the other the 800 other people who are racing.)
11. Yes, I am scared out of my mind.
12. No, I’m not going to be able to run the whole thing – few people can. I will run when I can, walk when I must, crawl when I have to.
12. Yes, there are daily time cutoffs and my goal is to stay ahead of the sag wagon which I understand is a camel named Doris.
13. No, I don’t know why a Moroccan camel is named Doris.
14. Of course you can contribute without attending the event. Visit to make a credit card donation. Checks, cash and IOU’s will be accepted at the door in any amount you can afford. Don’t forget corporate matching gifts. Your donation will automatically be matched by a grant as well.
15. Yes, that is me in the poster.
16. No, I did not make up the poster, my friend Nancy Stahl (a great artist) did it for the charity.
17. Yes, I can use your help, please come to my event and bring a friend with you.
18. Yes, I have a nifty little blog set up with all the details,
19. Yes, I have to carry everything on my back for the race. Hoping to get my backpack down to 20 pounds. That’s looking hard to do.
20. No, I don’t have to carry the tent – they put that up every night for us but I do have to carry my own sleeping bag and all my food and supplies. They give us water only.
21 Yes, day 4 is 50 miles and I will be running in the night across the desert.
23. Yes, of course that scares the chapstick out of me.
24. No, there is no way to acclimate to the heat. It will be up to 120 degrees in the desert. Even Bikram yoga won’t compare to that. At night it plummets to 40.
25. No, it is not all sand dunes. The terrain changes every year. There are mountains and rocks and salt flats. Last year about 20% were dunes.

More questions? Come to my event at the Irish Repertory Theater, Monday Feb 9th. RSVP please so I can buy enough cups!! (You can either rsvp through the event on facebook or to my email or by making a donation at )

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1/28/08 Less Weight More Filling

Wednesday.  Yesterday was feeling a little tired and sluggish.  Shoulder was hurting — I pulled a muscle in it or something.  Just didn’t want to really do anything, was feeling myself walking toward the slippery slope of blahdom.  Then I got an email with pictures of myself from the 1/2 marathon.  I laughed so hard that tears came to my eyes.  That made me feel better and I went down to the gym and had a nice 1 hour run on the treadmill and 10 minutes on the rowing machine. No backpack, just trying to get the blood moving.  Amazing how different it feels to run without that thing on my back.

I am going to make a big sign for myself and keep it on my desk.  LAUGH, darn it, LAUGH.  This is all for fun this is not for money and my life does not depend on it.  It’s an adventure, let it go and stop taking yourself so seriously.  I know I have a tremendous amount of work to do over the next 8 weeks.  I’m prepared to buckle down and do it but for goodness sakes it’s not like there is some big punishment if something goes wrong — it’s just life.

I’m making lists right now.  So much to keep track of.  Between my fundraiser on Feb. 9th and the marathon at the end of March.  There is so much to do that my list has sub lists.  Today I’m off to get my velcro sewn onto my running shoes.  The velcro will keep my gaiters attached.  Gaiters will keep the sand out of my shoes in the desert.   I’ve tried a lot of different shoes for this race but I have decided the New Balance 900’s are a happy compromise of a simple, light shoe that does not cause me any knee pain but has enough protection for my feet against the rough terrain.  I got the special pair of shoes designed just for MDS and although they are quite fancy and I will wear them around here for trail runs I think I like the 909’s better.  Sometimes simpler is better.  KISS, keep it simple stupid, keep it simple sweetie, keep it simple and sustainable.

I’m not sure I will be able to come up with an ACK Fact for every day between now and the race but I’ll do my best.  Today I thought I would talk about calories.  Every competitor has to bring a MINIMUM of 2,000 calories per day with them in their backpack.  (Yes we carry every bit of food, clothing, sleeping bag on our back).   The thought of 2,000 calories a day for my total consumption seems ridiculous so I had every intention of bringing something more like 4,000 calories a day.  (At first I thought 10,000 but even I thought that might be a little overkill.)

I’m embarrassed to admit it but I have a deeply rooted fear of going hungry (which is funny because I am in NO danger of starving to death).  I pack lots of extra stuff when I go on a trip because I’m always positive that they won’t have anything to feed me when I get there.  I don’t eat a lot of the same stuff other people eat and it makes me nervous to travel far from NYC where I know I can get something at any hour.  So a week in the desert with all the food I need in a backpack is nothing short of a nightmare!!

At camp we started discussing calorie requirements.  When I actually said out loud that I was thinking of carrying 4,000 calories.  They said that would become really heavy and probably not a good idea.  The basic idea was this, no matter how many calories I bring I am going to be hungry but the more calories I bring the harder it will be to carry it.  I had to find the balance between what would I be willing to carry and how hungry I would let myself get.  So I took out the calculator.

I took one of the dinners that I am planning on bringing and used that as my “base” number.  The dinner weighed 3.8 oz for 280 calories.  It was a good round number for guestimating my pack weight — 73 calories per ounce.

280 calories for one meal and let’s say I want to have 2,800 calories a day for me.  That would be 2800/ 73 or  38 oz.   or about 2.37 pounds of food for one day!  Yikes,  I need to carry with me food for 6 1/2 days.    So 6.5 days about 2.37 pounds per day of food comes to ~ 15.4 pounds of food I will have to carry.  That doesn’t include packaging which will add up and it doesn’t include all the other things I will be carrying like a sleeping bag, sleeping mat, extra shirt, toiletries and compulsory equipment like my flare, compas and anti-venom pump.  Uh oh, my goal of keeping this bag to 20 pounds is not looking too good.

If I went with my original desire to carry 4,000 calories a day would jump up to 22 pounds!!!  That’s before all my other stuff.  No way!!  I’m having a hard time right now carrying 8 pounds (excluding water.)   There is no way I want a 30 pound pack on my back.  I’ll go hungry.  It’ll hurt but I’ll go hungry.  This calorie/weight ratio is the reason everything I pack has to be dehydrated (water weighs too much).  I also have to look for a high calorie/weight ratio.  Fat weighs more than carbs or protein so the higher fat content I can find (that won’t spoil will help me.)  So I’ll be looking for products with a lot of nuts.  It’s hard to do with Vegan food but I’ve found some good stuff to bring.  I may be eating a lot of the same items but that’s what I’ll have to do.

So I will not be one of the people who have to PROVE that I am carrying 2,000 calories a day, they will just look at me and my pack and know that I am carrying enough.  But it is really hard for me to imagine that anyone would try to get by on less than that but I guess if you are out to win (and you are very skinny) that would matter.  For me it is about finding that optimum balance.

Powders are a big source of calories for endurance athletes.  They have a very high ratio of calories to ounces.  My Amino Vital, for example, has 107 calories per ounce.  2,800 calories of pure powder could weigh as little as  1.6 pounds.  That’s a big difference.  BUT, here’s the rub, they don’t count powders in the 2,000 calories you have to prove that you have for each day.  So I have to carry 2,000 calories of real food (or some freeze-dried semblance thereof) and then I will carry the rest of my calories in powders to make my pack lighter.  Instead of carrying 2,800 calories in all food which would weigh 15.43 pounds by carrying 800 of the calories a day in powders I reduce my pack weight to 14.17 pounds.   Less weight for the same calories.  It’s all about playing the numbers.  Click here for some more examples.

That will be the other nice thing.  Each day instead of my pack getting heavier, it will get lighter.  As will I….

Well that’s enough math to make anyone’s head spin in the morning.  Below are the pictures that made me laugh so hard yesterday.


The first picture is taken early in the race.  This looks like it still might be the first mile.  It made me laugh because I look like SUCH a dweeb for wearing all this junk.


This is a totally fake smile.  Doing my best Natasha fake it til you make it.  I definitely got a lot of looks from people.


Now it gets really funny.  This picture is EXACTLY how I felt.  Just shoot me, please just shoot me.  This thing weighs a ton.  I love this picture because for once I am not lying to the camera…


And the best of all is the finish line photo.  How funny is this because for the last 2/10’s of a mile I needed help to get up a little bump.  Cross the finish line and I’m all smiles.  What a poser!!!  Hallelujah, Hallelujah.


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1/26/09 It’s Mental***

Monday.   A little creaky today but overall okay.  I would like to say I had a big weekend but these days they are all big weekends.

I got to the pool for swim practice at 6 a.m. Saturday morning.  It was good to spend some quality time working on my stroke — I’ve been feeling negligent in the swimming and biking realms but I keep reminding myself that my focus is on MDS and everything falls into place AFTER that.  They video taped us swimming which will be interesting to be torn apart on the weekend.  The sad part is I felt like I was swimming fine and then they will point out all the things I do wrong — just more for the list of things to work on.

After swim I rode in the park with Ro and Michelle.  We did 3 loops with extra Harlem Hill repeats.  I wasn’t pushing it but I still worried whether it was too much based on my impending Sunday workout.  I had to go out to an art exhibit immediately after so by the time I got home I had been on the go for 12 hours and was tired, very tired.

Sunday was a 1 hour warmup run followed by the Manhattan 1/2 marathon followed by a 1 hour cooldown run/walk.  I didn’t want to go.  The temperature was reading 15 degrees with a wind chill bringing it down to 1 degree.  I was  tired and I didn’t want to put on the layers of clothes and the dreaded backpack but I knew I had to go.  People often ask me what my motivation is to go out and do something like run almost 5 hours in sub 15 degrees with my backpack loaded with 10 pounds including my water.  The answer to that question is very simple, fear.  If I don’t do it, I won’t finish my big event and that just cannot happen.  So no matter what, no matter how much I don’t want to do it I have to do it.

I was mentally kicking and screaming my entire way up to the park.  I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do this.  This is going to hurt, this is going to hurt, this is going to hurt.  I did my 1 hour warmup (with a little walking with a teammate)  and next thing I know it was time to get in line for the race start and boom, we were off.

As soon as I started I was convinced this was going to be one of the worst runs of my life.  First mile all I kept thinking is “this is going to suck big time.”  Second mile “I can’t believe I have to do this, this is going to hurt so much.”  Third mile “any minute now the hammer is going to fall and you are going to feel like crap.”  Fourth mile “geesh, this is getting exhausting worrying about how awful this is going to get, why don’t I just wait until it actually gets awful instead of talking about it??”

My miles were all slow.  12:30’s and 13″s off the bat and then some 14’s.  I was supposed to keep my heart rate at 78% but keep running.  As soon as I hit Cat hill I was sucking wind so much I couldn’t run and keep at 78% and I knew it wasn’t smart for me to be breathing that hard that early on.  So I just let it unfold as it would.  I ran everything except the hills.  I kept it to an easy jog.  I wasn’t racing but I was definitely keeping certain people in my view and decided to not let them get out of sight.  I ran with two other gals pretty much the entire way, each of us passing the other and then being passed.  I had some decent stretches in there.

Around mile 5 I had to admit the nothing was really hurting.  I had no knee pain, no muscle pain and it didn’t feel as cold as last weekend.  Harumph, it was probably going to be terrible the second loop.

It was hard when everyone I knew was lapping me but I knew I was working as hard as could based on my level of fatigue and I was already an hour in before I even started.  But I was really confused as to why I wasn’t hurting more.  Finally I just had to admit that my knees were not hurting and my legs were not hurting and as much as I was expecting the hammer to hit me on the head, it wasn’t coming.

Stephanie met me at the bottom of the park with hot tea to refill my bottles and ran with me for a little bit.  I felt fine except for breathing too hard going uphill but I think that is just going to be me getting used to the weight of the backpack.  Steph left and I went off to finish my lonely second loop.  Almost everybody was ahead of me and it was just a small group of back of the packers who had set out onto the second loop.

Even though I was doing mostly 14 minute miles due to my walking breaks, I felt pretty good.  Now my only desire was to finish it up so I could do my cool down hour and get this entire workout over with.  I just wanted to put in my time.

I was only 2/10ths of a mile from the finish and was feeling okay and trying to pick up my pace when I saw the little bump — not even a bump, a little rise in the road by the summerstage.  I knew I would have to walk it but I didn’t want to, I just wanted this overwith.  Right at that moment my friend Felicia was running toward me.  I told her I needed help.  She tried to give me water.  No I had gallons of water and food and everything, I just needed someone to run with me up this bump so I wouldn’t stop.  I have no idea why this became so important to me.  I was close to 3 hours but I wasn’t worried about time.  I just didn’t want to stop and I didn’t think I could do it without help.  It was very unlike me.

Felicia was great and ran with me and tried to get me to calm my breathing because it was very labored.  It was only about 50 yards and I told her I was okay but she chose to run the corner because I had forgotten that the finish was on an uphill.  I was grateful for the support.  It surprised me because that is not like me.  (I remember once at Westchester Tri, years ago, grabbing Steph from the cheering crowd and made her run up a little hill with me while she was wearing Flip Flops but other than that, I don’t ask for help.)

For some reason the fact that I needed to ask for help bothered me.  It made me feel like I was a weakling or something.  If you can’t make it up a bump in Central Park what are you going to do in the desert?  I don’t like to appear to need help.  It’s one thing if people run along and cheer and try to motivate you but usually I’m pretty adamant about wanting to do it myself.

I just couldn’t understand what made me grab Felicia to run with me?  Perhaps I was bonking and didn’t know it?  What would be the big deal if I walked up that last little bump?  I walked up all the big hills, who really cared?  My head was in some strange place of not wanting to stop but I didn’t think my body could keep up.   As soon as I crossed the finish line I thanked Felicia and went to cheer in my last teammate and then finish with another hour for cool down.  By the time I got home it was a few minutes shy of a 5 hour workout with my backpack and I probably got in only about 20 miles — yeesh.

Last night we had our South Harlem Bike Club (SHBC) annual awards dinner.  This is a little club we founded in 2004 from a bunch of us who did St. Anthony’s triathlon.  We have a virtual club where we keep track of what everyone is doing and at the end of the year we vote and give out crazy awards to one another.  SHBC has been very supportive of me over the years.  They came out to ride me home from my Hook Mountain Debacle of ’07 and they were there at Lake Placid Ironman to cheer me up that final hill and were there behind the finish line waiting for me.  We have no rules and there are no formal meetings but we do have team uniforms!

We have a lot of really excellent athletes in SHBC.  Not only in their speed but in their understanding of endurance sports.   I remember training for Ironman my first year and talking to then about just not being able to comprehend that the training I was doing was going to get me ready for Ironman — I had so far to go.   I remember one gal Karin told me that the progress of fitness is not through a steady rate of increase.  Fitness increases exponentially as in little jumps, she explained.  If you can run one mile today and you increase 10% you can run another 1/10th of a mile. But like compound interest, as long as you keep the money in the bank you earn interest on your earned interest.  So when you get to running 13 miles, a 10% jump is 1.3 miles.    So it doesn’t really matter where you start as long as you keep making incremental increases based on where you are now.

Later in the Ironman season I started to really understand it.  All of a sudden 60 miles felt like a warmup and 13 miles felt like a normal run.    I still think about that when it comes to MDS.  How does my 9 hours over a weekend translate to 7 days in the desert?  It will happen in jumps.  (Or in leaps as in leaps of faith…)

I took the opportunity to tap into my SHBC friend’s head again last night and I told her how worried I was about having to do something so lame as ask for help to get up a bump when I was going to be out in the desert and would need to be much more self-sufficient — I was not going to be able to ask for help running up a hill.  Once again Karin explained to me that I asked for help because help was available.  “But I won’t be able to ask for help in the desert.”  I bemoaned.  “That’s right, because it won’t be available.  But whatever help you do find in the desert you’ll use that too.  You’ll use whatever resources you have.  Today you had a resource available to you and you used it.”  There is something about the way she explained it that made me feel better — like I wasn’t entirely lame for asking for help.  It remains, however, embarassing.


One of my friends complained at the party that I don’t talk enough in my blog about the details of the race and she had no idea about some of conditions I was describing at the awards ceremony. We agreed that I would start a new feature in my blog called the “ACK Fact” of the day (named for my friend AnneChris).

So today’s ACK Fact:  At MDS there will be approximately 800 participants and we will sleep in open-sided tents which are transported and erected each night by the race directors.  We have to carry everything we need for the week including toilet paper.  There will be 3 latrine tents set up at camp each night to be shared by 800 participants.  Basically a hole is dug in the ground, two feet plates are  set down to mark where you have to go and that’s it — you line up your feet, squat and go.  Four cloth walls make the tent.  Many people do not bother to use the tent and just go wherever.  You have to bury your toilet paper.  It gets very windy and often pieces of used toilet paper float through camp.   There ACK, are you happy and sufficiently disgusted?   No?  I cannot post it here because it is too disgusting but if you have the stomach for it (don’t do it) you can search for “marathon des sables toilet.”  I cannot bring myself to post that video here but I will post a link to a much less graphic version Click here for pic of a MDS bathroom tent.

**Today’s title is compliment of fellow SHBC’r, TL’er and Rumble Girl Mo.

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1/23/09 Overwhelmed and Verklempt

Friday.  Had a mediocre run last night with the team.  It wasn’t bad but I wasn’t sparkly.  Good news is I had no pain of any kind other than sucking wind.

I did my usual walk to the park and 1 mile warm up.  We did some drills before our workout started.  Then we had to do 1 mile repeats in progressively faster speeds around the lower loop, marathon/half marathon/5k or better.  I went out too fast on the first one.  Even though it was only an 11:46 I could tell I was breathing too hard.  I had taken 2 pounds out of my backpack so I was running with 6 pounds + water  (apparently I was running with 13 pounds including the water last weekend and that was a little much.) Quite honestly, who cares about 6 pounds?  I’m still up about 15 since Ironman so what difference does 6 make?  (Actually I guess that means I’m +15 +6 so that would, in fact, make a difference.)

Second mile I did 11:49 which was not faster but I figured the first mile was not marathon pace for me either.  The third mile I did 11:30 but I was sucking wind and I didn’t look too sparkly doing it.   Yikes, that’s not too good for me.  Where’s my 10:09?   I haven’t seen that in quite some time.  I felt like whipping off the backpack just to see if I could do better but I realize it’s all relative and it doesn’t really matter.  Marathon des Sables is not about how fast I can go it’s about how long I can go.

Despite my lack of speed it was fine because I was surrounded by my pals.  Even though we are not really at the same paces we are in the same vicinity and that is much better than being left in the cold.  Had a nice walk home from practice with my bud Mo.  I got a chance to talk about how excited I am about the response to my fundraiser.

It’s not just the number of people who are stepping up to donate or pledging [between donations and pledges I’ve raised over $2,000 so far] it’s also the amazingly generous spirit of donation and desire to help that have left me feeling overwhelmed and verklempt.

My friends are beyond amazing.  They are rallying together to donate, promote and help me put together amazing little goodie bags and raffle prizes.  Restaurant certificates, theater tickets are just the tip.  The number of people who sent me emails yesterday “send me your address, I got you 100 gym passes, 100 magazines, 100 hand creams, 100….”   My jaw is just permanently slacked and I’m constantly brushing the tears from my eyes.  Everybody is so willing to help.  It’s an Obamanation of charity.  (Groan, okay, okay, I’ve been waiting to use that word so sue me…)

The Abundant Waters event is making me feel very different about the Marathon des Sables.  As difficult as it is going to be (and believe me I have yet to read a single blog that doesn’t describe how disgusting camp is and how grueling but beautiful the desert is), I’m really starting to appreciate all the many facets of this journey.  It dawned on me that being able to appreciate the wide range of emotions is part of the gift.  No, I don’t enjoy the fact that I can only run an 11:46 with my backpack on while sucking wind, but I do enjoy the fact that I am in and aware of the process.  This is the “stuff of it” as my Lit prof used to say.

When I look back on Ironman I remember it through several different angle views.  I remember certain workouts with the team — my Thursdays with my rabbits, biking out to Ranger Station and then doing running repeats from ranger station out onto 9W when the weather was hot and disgusting.  Camps — I remember the first time climbing those hills.  More hills. Laughing and making great friends.  That’s just one memory bank angle — the process of training and the experiences that went with that.

Then I remember my friends.  Oh lo, my friends are the best friends in the world.  From helping me get ready, cheering for me and then helping me through my emotional and physical recovery — for two years, I can’t imagine being more blessed.  I was often (and still am) overwhelmed and verklempt at what seemed to be endless sources of generosity and caring.

Of course I remember parts of the race itself but those are more like flashes.  I remember the swim seeming almost a non-event, no big deal – but I do remember what it felt like and certain moments out there.  The tortential rain hiding the tears streaming down my face as I rode 112 miles in flash floods and shouting at God.  The utter fear of failure I had to face (I still use that mantra I discovered on mile 3 “just try, you have to banish doubt and just try.”)   Then the last excruciating 2 miles that seemed longer than the preceeding 138.

All of these angles collectively make up my memory of  my journey to the Ironman.  That’s why these endurance events are so special.  It’s not one day.  It’s not one event.  It’s the whole journey that we go through to get there.  It’s the gamut of emotions.  Doubt, fear, disappointment, relief, joy, exhilaration and hope.  You cannot beat the emotional arc of endurance sports.

And so the journey to Marathon des Sables is forming in my memory already.  I can say without a doubt I am more afraid of this than anything I have ever set foot out to do in my life.  From little fears like 800 people and only 2 latrine tents, to big fears of collapsing in a sand dune and nobody finding me until it is too late, these fears are building a spectrum of emotions that will be a big part of my memory.

But, I’m also going to have my memory of this event that goes with it.  How my friends all stepped up to rally for this very worthy charity.  I am just simply blown away by the generosity of all of my friends — whether it is their willingness to come work at the event, finding me prizes through their contacts or simply writing a check in a very bad economic climate.  I will not forget.

Of course the one part of this memory yet to be fulfilled is the race itself.  I can’t think about it too much because when I do I just double over and think “what the heck have I gotten myself into?”  This morning I just laughed and realized it’s a roller coaster, you have to let go and open your eyes to really enjoy this ride.   Let go, let go, let go.


From my WW meeting today:

“Don’t stuff your face, face your stuff.”

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1/21/09 A Brand New Day

Wednesday.  I think I’m all better.  I didn’t get to yoga yesterday morning which disappointed me but I got a tremendous amount of work done yesterday while watching/listening to the inauguration.  I decided to take action on behalf of our new president and my hope for change in my country (which starts with change in me.)  So I went down to the gym and hit the treadmill.  (I know, not exactly the kind of change Obama had in mind but, hey, we each do what we can.)

I decided to give myself a break and NOT wear my backpack on the treadmill.  There was no real reason I couldn’t run outside other than I’m just getting a little tired of ten layers and Central and Riverside park — I needed to shake it up a little.  I used to hate the treadmill.  Now, an hour and half seems like nothing.  I was also shocked at how soft it felt.  Compared to running on rocks and yaktrax it felt like I was running on clouds.  I swear I could barely feel my feet touching the rubber.

I also guess and hour and half is longer than the average workout because when I started there was nobody there, the machines filled up, three people came and went and then it was just me again.  By the end of my workout I felt just fine, like I could keep on running and all that nonsense about not being able to run with my pack was behind me.  I had enough energy to hit the rowing machine for ten minutes  (to try to strengthen my back and shoulders) and then I hit the pool for an easy 20 minutes just to remind myself of how to swim.  I did another 10 minutes of stretching in the Jacuzzi before I hit the locker room.  A nice recovery-style workout.  Thursday night will be the hard run with the team.

I decided yesterday was also the day I would start to hit the sauna.  One of the gals I met at camp said she used the sauna as a training tool for her hot weather workouts.  I figured I would just go and sit in it for 15 minutes and see how it went.  First minute — fine, second minute — okay, third minute — my it’s very hot in here, fourth minute — I should have brought something to distract me, fifth minute — get me out of here I can’t breathe!!!   Hmm, me thinks I have some acclimation work to do. I’m going to try to just go sit in there as often as I can working my way up to actually moving around in there.  There is not much room to actually do any exercise but I guess that’s why they invented Bikram yoga.

I’m feeling rested and ready to continue to rumble.  I set up my blog for my donating to the charity I am fundraising for MDS (thank you to all who contributed already!).   I am in love with the poster my friend Nancy did for me.  I’m getting it blown up and framed.



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1/19/09 Yes We Can

Monday.  I’m here, call off the dogs.  Was just a long, hard week last week.  I ended up taking 3 days off Sunday, Monday and kind of Tuesday.  I say kind of Tuesday because I did go to yoga class but left 1 hour into it.  I was exhausted and demoralized and I don’t know, just feeling all around crappy.

I think in retrospect (because I’m feeling better now) it was kind of a perfect storm situation.  I did a hard week at camp, started to come down from that and hit the winds of hormones and my system just crashed.   I try to be forgiving but I have a big goal looming ahead so  I also want to be realistic that I just don’t the luxury of taking a week off when I only have 10 weeks to get ready.

By Wednesday I was able to force myself to climb on my trainer and ride my bike.  I printed the workout  we were supposed to do and after five minutes chucked it and just rode while watching Oprah “Best Life” episodes and mumbling a lot about “what a bunch of crap.”  I did feel a little better after that.

On Thursday I did go out to do my run but I ran during the day instead of with the team so I could go to a concert (nurturing that so-called social life I’m supposed to have).  I’m now supposed to be wearing my backpack for all my runs and I’m to have 5-7 pounds in it this week.  I have to say I found it really hard to run with that backpack on with actual weight in it.  I kept getting a good pace going then all of a sudden I was strangely out of breath and would have to slow down or walk. But I managed to eek out 1:30 hours somehow — it was cold that much I remember.

Friday I had a lovely little elliptical workout — only 40 minutes on hills.  What a treat.  That was fun.  I had it on the highest hills and I put it on level 6 for added resistance.  It was only 40 minutes so I got to really pump it out.  40 minutes?  What’s that?  I can do anything for 40 minutes.  I was too embarrassed to go back to yoga class (I go back tomorrow) so I did my pilates reformer at home.

The weekend was the killer.  I had to do 8 1/2 hours with my backpack.  I got about 1 1/2 running the rest walking on Saturday for 4:15.  Then on Sunday is was an awful mishmosh of run 10 minutes, walk 3 minutes, cry about my back pack being too heavy for 2 minutes, repeat.  I made the huge mistake of wearing my yaktrax because the roads were slushy but when I got to Riverside park I ran too much on the hard road.  By the two hour point my feet were killing me and I yanked the yaks off (too little too late).  I finished the last 2:15, running, limping, whining up and down the Westside path.  I put the capital P in Pathetic.  Even got to have my friend Jac drive by and yell to me!  There is no hiding in this city.

In my attempt to try to REFRAME my negative thoughts into a positive, I will say this.  As lamo as I was, I would not say die and I guess that counts for something.  I think I covered around 34+ miles for the entire weekend which sounds not so good for 8 1/2 hours but my whining had to be worth extra caloric expenditure. (Actually come to think of it 8.5 is probably what I would do 34 miles in — 26.2 for 6 hours, then another 2.5 for 8 more?  That’s about right with my run/walk/crawl a marathon method.)

I am here.  I am feeling better.  I will rest when I’m dead or 12 weeks from now, whichever comes first.

I have to run the half marathon this weekend with extra mileage and that freakin backpack on my back.  But I want to do it because what doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.  Added bonus is not only does the backpack feel heavy, I get to look like a poser too.  There is no hiding my workout as I lumber through the park with my my luggage rack.  Everyone keeps stopping me and asks what I am training for — my demise, I respond, I’m training for my demise….

Oh okay, okay, I’ll stop being negative…. My knees don’t hurt, how’s that?  And look at my smile in the purty picture….


My picture:


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1/14/09 Laugh or Cry

Wednesday.  Had a bit of a systemic crash yesterday.  Feel a little better today but still a little low.  I guess all the endorphins and serotonin racing around my system for the last week had to end sometime and I definitely felt the dip yesterday.  I’m really tired, been having trouble sleeping (two Tylenol PM helped me sleep 7 hours last night but I still feel tired), and have a major kink in my neck that just won’t go away.  I think the combination of the physical exertion and the mental stress (self-induced) put me in a high-alert state last week.  On Monday I was still flying high.  Yesterday I think my body figured out that it was no longer in “survival” mode and just kerplunked.

I know I have to work out today.  I know I will feel better afterwards.  It’s just going to take every last bit of gump to get up and do it.

I did a little research on serotonin (the chemical that makes you feel good) and of course there is no one thing they say to do to get it back up there.  (Short of taking anti-depressant drugs and I’m not sure I need that quite yet.)  Supposedly I need to get my Tryptophan levels up — Tryptophan makes serotonin (isn’t Tryptophan the stuff in Turkey?).   They don’t know for sure what make serotonin levels drop and there is no exact foods to eat to increase it but they do say eating carbs and less protein will leave behind more Tryptophan which in turn will make more serotonin.  Unfortunately the carbs will also cause an insulin rush and then another crash.  Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.  Frankly I need to do more research on it (or someone with an actual medical degree needs to do it.)

Plenty of stories out there about post event depression.  It’s common after people spend months training for a sport and then all of a sudden they just stop.  There is the mental and physical let down.  I only did one week of camp but I think I was very amped up last week.  I was very nervous about the camp and then became increasingly nervous about the event.  When I finally had a full night’s sleep in my own bed I think my body realized it was “safe” again and went into shut down.  I really want to go back to sleep but I’m going to try to fight it and get down to the pool or something.

I popped an extra load of vitamins this morning.  I had a good breakfast.  I know if I just jump on my bike for an hour I’ll feel better but after a DISASTROUS yoga class yesterday (I actually had to leave the class early) I know that it is going to take some fight to get back up to normal.

All is not lost though. Apparently I still have  a good sense of humor about myself.  I was watching some videos they took of me at camp and I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically at these pictures.  There is something very funny about the way I run (waddle?)  I can tell I’m working hard and really trying but it just looks like I am chasing chickens around a barnyard.  I think because I lean too much from the waist that I look like I am reaching for something.  Anyway I plod along, avoiding the rocks and letting out a woo hoo and it just makes me laugh.

When I look at these videos I laugh and think “well nobody told her she can’t do MDS ’cause she’s just going about her business.”    Like the finish line video from Ironman these videos crack me up.  Maybe it is the contrast between my intensity and lack of technique.  You can put the Sahara hat on and put on the back pack but you are still a middle-aged wannabe…  I laugh with myself, not at myself….  I’m just going to watch these a couple hundred times until I laugh my serotonin levels back up.


Okay watch this one and I dare you to not laugh….

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