Monthly Archives: March 2010

4/1/10 Sparkly People

Thursday.  So how did Wholey Wednesday go?  Wonderfully.  Very pleased.  Stuck to my plan.  Ate nothing but whole foods for the entire day and I feel quite good about it.  So good I’m going to go for day #2.  (I know on Saturday I won’t be able to stick to it because of training and the need to consume powders and gels but I’m just dealing with one day at a time.)

Back at Ironman year 1 training Winter of ’06, we were all at a New Paltz training camp and the coaches were trying to split us up into groups of people by speed.  They told the fastest people to go into group 1, the next fastest into group 2, then the next fastest into group 3.  The coach paused for a second because he didn’t want to say “the slowest people” into group 4, so he said “the less than sparkly people” go into group 4.  We all laughed and somehow that name just stuck.  We called ourselves the Less than Sparklies.  We even abbreviated it to LTS and in our emails back and forth it just became part of our lingo.  “Any LTS’ers want to meet up?”  “How about LTS get together?”  It’s now years later and we still call each other the LTS group.  An outsider would guess it was just a religious affiliation.  Our little LTS group were as thick as thieves.  We rode everywhere together and constantly looked out for one another.  It never occurred to us to not include one — we rode together, we laughed together, we ate together.  We still have little reunion LTS get-togethers and tell the same stupid er I mean funny stories over and over again.  We never seem to tire of telling them.  Remember that time?…..  Uproars of laughter.  We all had nicknames.  We still call each other by those nicknames.  Princess, Buttercup, Sasquatch, Sunshine, Towanda and Tinkerbell.  (Princess and Buttercup were two guys btw).  Of course we only call each other those names because to the outside world it would sound stupid.  But in the LTS world, we rule so we can call ourselves whatever we want.

So imagine my surprise when I found out about a  website called  I had to check it out based on the name but it turns out to be something very different than what I was expecting.  It’s a website/community of people helping each other learn to eat right/exercise and support one another.  Sounds just like Weight Watchers which has all of that on their website as well.  The only difference is is 100% free.  What?  Yep, 100% free.  I’ve seen quite a few online systems out there but this one is fairly sophisticated.  It has all the features and more of the pay-for-use like Joy Bauer and the like.   There are forums, counselors, online reference tools and one of the big features is their online tracker.  It’s even better than the WW tracker because it gives you a total nutritional breakdown.

One of my problems with WW is this whole idea of counting points.  It has always seemed an unnecessary step.  Basically a point is 50 cals.  But it also takes into consideration fat and fiber.  So plain old 50 calories with 0 gram of fat and 0 grams of fiber is 1 point.  But if you have something that is 50 calories with a lot of fat (say olive oil) that same 50 calories might be 2 points.  But then say you have something with a lot a lot of fiber and the point value goes down.  A stalk of broccoli, for example, approx 60 calories, no fat and 5 grams of fiber becomes 0 points.  Sometimes the values change when you bump up quantities (like if you at a bushel of broccoli it is not going to be 0 points.)  The idea is to try to teach people to select high fiber, lower fat foods so they will get the most bang for your caloric buck.  Most people catch on pretty quickly to the point system but it’s a lot of memorizing.  You don’t memorize the calories/fat/fiber of 2 tsps of olive oil, instead you just learn through repetition it is 2.5 points.  You can use your online tracker or just from looking it up ten times, you learn it.  The game becomes to find as many 0,1 and 2 point foods as possible.  In some ways it is simpler because you don’t have to memorize 3 pieces of data about a food item, but when was the last time you checked a nutritional label and saw “points” listed in the grid?  Most weight watchers members learn pretty quickly that a plain slice of pizza is 6 points. 

I think the reason that WW uses the points system is to get you entrenched in their world.   Once you become a point counter, it’s hard to break it.  You’ll overhear people all the time talking about points  “it was only 2 points!”  About some aspartame laden chocolate treat.   Or lamenting once they find out the number of points in a single margarita.  The points you are allowed each day is based on your age/height/current weight/activity and goals.  So some of the smaller people get very few points.  But WW also awards you extra points for working out.  The idea is they will get you moving with the lure of an extra 4 points that you can eat.  Some of that is imperfect though because they are trusting you to judge your intensity level and I’m not sure it is always right.  Ironically, for me, when I add in all my gels and powders I don’t really get that many net extra points.  I definitely get some but not as much as the shorter workouts when I don’t eat anything.

On sparkpeople I like the idea that they give a breakdown by nutritional value of both macro (protein/fats/carbs) and micro (vitamins and minerals).  You can set up your goals for how many calories a day you want to stick with and also goals within all the macro/micro nutrient breakdowns.

Below is one of the many reports from their site on the food that I ate for Wednesday.  It’s pretty cool.   Of course, there is still one major downside — you still have to measure and track what you’re eating.  Ironically the old programming adage of GIGO (garbage in/garbage out) works for food as well as programming code….


Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Calories Fat Carbohydrates Protein Potassium, K Calcium, Ca Sodium, Na Magnesium, Mg
Almond Breeze Almond Milk, Original, 8 oz 60 3 8 1 180 20 150 4
Old Fashioned Quaker Oatmeal- Plain (1/2 cup dry), 1 serving 150 3 27 5 0 0 0 0
Walnuts, 0.5 oz (14 halves) 95 9 2 2 63 1 0 6
Dates, 5 date 117 0 31 1 272 2 1 4
Figs, dried, 2 fig 95 0 24 1 258 6 4 6
Chia Seeds, 2 tbsp 70 5 7 3 0 10 0 0
*Flax Seed Meal (ground flax), 2 tbsp 60 5 4 3 57 2 0 0
Meal Totals 646 24 103 16 830 41 155 21


Calories Fat Carbohydrates Protein Potassium, K Calcium, Ca Sodium, Na Magnesium, Mg
Baked Potato (baked potatoes), 1 potato (2-1/3″ x 4-3/4″) 145 0 34 3 610 1 8 10
Salsa, 0.5 cup 36 0 8 2 276 4 562 4
Arugula, 2 cup 10 0 1 1 148 6 11 5
Carrots, raw, 0.5 cup, chopped 26 0 6 1 205 2 44 2
Avocados, California (Haas), 0.5 fruit without skin and seeds 144 13 7 2 439 1 7 6
Oranges, 1 large (3-1/16″ dia) 86 0 22 2 333 7 0 5
Pumpkin Seeds, 0.25 cup 71 3 9 3 147 1 92 10
Meal Totals 520 18 87 13 2,157 23 724 42


Calories Fat Carbohydrates Protein Potassium, K Calcium, Ca Sodium, Na Magnesium, Mg
Mushrooms, cooked, 1 cup pieces 44 1 8 3 555 1 3 5
Ancient Harvest Traditional Whole Grain Quinoa, 1 serving =.25 cup dry, 0.13 cup 89 1 16 3 0 0 1 0
Asparagus, fresh, 1 cup 31 0 6 3 366 3 3 6
Lentils, 0.5 cup 115 0 20 9 365 2 2 9
Meal Totals 279 3 50 18 1,286 6 8 20


Calories Fat Carbohydrates Protein Potassium, K Calcium, Ca Sodium, Na Magnesium, Mg
Oranges, 1 cup, sections 85 0 21 2 326 7 0 5
Banana, fresh, 1 large (8″ to 8-7/8″ long) 125 1 32 1 539 1 1 10
Grapes, 1 cup, seedless 60 1 28 1 296 2 3 2
Meal Totals 270 2 81 4 1,160 10 5 17
Daily Totals 1,714 47 322 52 5,434 79 891 99
Daily Goal 1200 – 1550 27 – 60 135 – 252 60 – 136 4500 – 6000 120 – 200 0 – 2300 105 – 175
Chart with no titled

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3/31/10 Wholey Wednesday

Wednesday.  It’s been a long week.  Workouts have been going.  I’d say I’m operating at about 60% of maximum capability.  I still haven’t caught up to speed on anything except, ironically, swimming. 

I know it’s full-throttle into ironman training time when, 1) haven’t played tennis in a month now, 2) back at the massage therapist and 3) have my standing acupuncture appointment back in place.  I remember back to year 1 I used to alternate one week massage, one week acupuncture and that was pretty much how I maintained myself.  In my fantasy world where I really do have  a trust fund I would manage both every week but alas that is not reality.  I am waiting to hear if my insurance will help cover cost of acupuncture which would be  a huge help.

Yesterday I got a great report from my surgical doctor.  He said I was doing very well.  He reminds me a little of Dr. House from the t.v. show, very gruff and impatient.  He was genuinely surprised when  I told him I ran (well okay walked a lot of) a half marathon last weekend and that I’m doing my first triathlon end of April.   He actually smiled.  First time I ever saw him smile.  Instead of seeing him in 3 months he is saying I don’t have to come back for 6 months.  Next week I go to my Endocrinologist.  She will test my blood and tell me how my hormones are doing.  I’m thinking it is also going to be a great report.  She smiles a lot so I won’t have a good gauge on her…

Last week went to acupuncture and he fixed my pinched shoulder and the pulled muscles in my back.  So that’s all good.  I am a firm believer in preventative acupuncture.  Get it fixed while it is a niggling injury and not when it becomes a debilitating one.  

I will say I’m very tired but it is not due to too much working out it is due to not getting a good, solid nights sleep and I suspect my sloppy eating of the last week hasn’t helped.  I’ve had company and I’ve been trying to socialize more and it’s just frankly too exhausting.  I think I’ll just go back to being a hermit.  I need my sleep.  I also don’t like eating out late — it throws me off.  I’ve been consuming a lot of baked goods the last week and it was just making me feel crappy.   I knew I had to do something.  I could feel weight just creeping back on.  Fatigue is the root of all fitness evil — it makes you want to eat more (to get energy), it makes you sloppy in your form (and may cause injury) and it just prevents you from getting stronger because you can’t push your workouts to where you want to go.  A good night’s sleep is everything.

I knew I had to make a dietary change.  I stared at my wall of books — the way I want to eat when I have enough energy to make shakes out of greens and herbs and salads with lots of veggies and soups and micro-nutrient rich meals.  Some pita bread and humus is not a micro-nutrient fiesta.  It’s fast and easy but it does not make you feel better the next day.  But looking at my book shelf of “Should-do” books (Idon’t even call them “how-to” anymore — they just make me feel guilty).   Let’s see, I have Dr. Furhman’s way — unfortunately don’t have a bale of kale on hand at the moment to throw into my Vita-Mix.  Brandan Frazier’s way ( 100 easy to make recipes if you have things like hemp powder on hand.)  Kathy Freston’s way  (book tags  “practical and spiritual guide”)  too fancy, don’t feel like making crepes and parfaits.   Frankly I was just too tired to deal with the reading, the chopping, the shopping.  Then I stumbled across a blog post from someone who was doing one day as a whole food day.  I thought I could do that.  It felt right and EASY.

So I went down to the market and I just filled my basket with everything easy to prepare and that I like.  Mushrooms, asparagus, arugula, carrots, cucumber, onion for a salad.  Baked potato with salsa (and a sweet potato for the next day).  Picked up some fabulous lentils and fava beans.  Oranges, bananas, grapefruits and apples.  Some grapefruit juice for a little sparkling cocktail.  For breakfast already had on hand oatmeal, figs, dates, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seed.    I made a great huge salad for dinner with baked potato and salsa and I felt the micro nutrients surging through my veins.  Yes, this is what feels right.  Simple, basic.

So I am declaring today Whole Foods Wednesday.  The rule is simple.  Stealing a line from my mother who stole if from Mark Bitman “If it is a plant eat it, if it is made in a plant don’t.”   So for today, no breads, no crackers, no soy products — no prepared dips or spreads (no Vegemite!!  Gasp!!!).  Just any fruit, vegetable, seed, grain that I want.  Potato okay, rice, quinoa okay, spelt barley.  No pasta.  No chocolate, no baked goods (just because it says Vegan doesn’t mean I have to eat it.)  Just the food in it’s most basic form. 

Just for today and we’ll see how it goes.  I had  a great oatmeal breakfast but I have to say I did miss my whole grain bread with Vegemite.    No veggie sushi, no white rice, no dumplings or dough.  These are all my little evil friends.  White flour, white sugar they are in everything.  Just waiting to make you feel lethargic.

Vitamins okay.

So those are the rules.  So far so good, but it’s only 9:30 and I have three deadlines to finish, have to go workout and run some important errands.  I feel better already because I feel like I’m on the right track.  Yeah, I’ll make all the fancy recipes another time.    Today, I’ll be happy with a banana.


Here is an interesting article a friend posted from Runner’s world on a marathoner who is a fruitarian….

Runner’s World Article

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3/23/10 Just Show Up

Tuesday.  Feeling better after a very mentally exhausting weekend.  I feel better now that the half-marathon is done.  Whew, thank goodness that is behind me.  I couldn’ t quite put my finger on everything I was feeling but my friend Colleen sent me a great video (link below) by Elizabeth Gilbert.  So much of what she had to say rang true for me. She talks about finding inspiration and still finding inspiration in the knowledge that your best might be behind you. How do you still seek inspiration? Just show up.  Be present.

So tonight I had to do a recovery run. My legs were still hurting from the half marathon. Don’t remember being this sore in the past — felt more like full marathon soreness. I wasn’t sure if I could go run. Rainy and 45 degrees — far cry from the sunny 70 on Sunday. I headed down to the Farmington River trail for a flat easy recovery run. Forget my legs, it was just what my soul needed.

I was taken aback by the beauty of the mood. Nobody on the trail. Just me and my breath and the rain. The river was flowing rapidly.  I had no expectations. Okay if I just walked. But after a few minutes I tried a little jog and was surprised that I could do it. Nice and easy. Heart rate nice and low. I was running easier than Sunday. How funny. I realized how stressed I had been not just about the marathon — about everything. Work pressure, family pressure, training pressure. This going back and forth from CT to NYC has been getting to me. I never feel I’m at home anywhere.  Never feel rested.  And yet, along the river I felt at home. This is your home. This river, this land. I felt nature talking to me. This river and I — we know one another.  Before the river knew me it knew my father and uncles and grandfather and great-grandfather.  Since 1850 this  river has known my family.  I had to stop and take it in.

I stopped to look at a tree’s branches with small globes of rain sitting on all of the branches. What held those little delicate bubbles in place? Still glass balls, so delicate and transient like Christmas tree ornaments. Then a  duck came flying low across the water and skidded into the water and dove in to get a fish. It was beautiful. I could feel the bird’s freedom. Just do it, be it. Be present. There is no outside world, just do what nature tells you to do and feel the freedom of flight. I wanted to just stay and watch but I had run too far and I knew I had a long run back. One lone runner ran past me and we exchanged small secret knowing smiles that we were being allowed in a secret little world. Nature’s after hours club.

I thought about my running. I felt ready to try to run harder. I ran until I couldn’t breathe and my legs burned. Even though my muscles were sore I felt ready to try to take it to the next level. I thought of what Elizabeth Gilbert said “And what I have to, sort of keep telling myself when I get really psyched out about that, is, don’t be afraid. Don’t be daunted. Just do your job.” So I will take a deep breath. Do what I have to do. Drive back and forth, in and out of two towns, two lives. Keep your business alive. Keep training because training is your glue.  The next couple of weeks I have a bunch of doctor’s appointments and I’m expecting all good results but there is a lot of stress going in and out of doctor’s offices and getting scans and pokes and prods and then those dreaded days of waiting for the doctors to call you back and say you are fine. No reason not to expect top grades but… If I didn’t have my training goals I would fall apart. So I will arrive at my workouts with full presence. I will show up and be inspired.


Video from Elizabeth Gilbert  Thanks Colleen!
Click Here for the Elizabeth Gilbert Talk

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3/21/10 Chicken Preservation

Sunday. Embrace your inner chicken.  Can’t take credit for the line, was advice from one of my coaches after I confessed that I was very worried about today’s NYC Half Marathon.  It had been haunting me for several weeks.  Could I do it?  What if I couldn’t finish?  What if I couldn’t make the cutoff?  What if I just don’t have what it takes anymore (anymore? that would presume you had what it takes at one time – oh be quiet.)  Nervous, worried, ridiculous.  This is a road race, this is for fun.  Why are you worried?  I can’t really answer that.  It’s all wrapped up in a complex package tied with strings of expectations, disappointments, a shaky nervous feeling that I’ll never quite be strong enough again — that maybe I’ve just been knocked down one too many times.  Not sure I really had the strength to get back up.  And why of all things was I making my first race back a half marathon?  What’s wrong with me?  Why couldn’t I do a nice 10k or even a 5k?

I think I did absolutely everything I could to ensure that I would have a shot at a good race.  I got my former teammate Deanne to go out and do my “long” ride on Friday morning instead of Saturday.  As a side note I have to say that Deanne is such a good sport.  We try to ride on Friday mornings and she never complains about any whacky thing I tell her we are doing.  “Today we are going to practice standing, ’cause the coach wants me to practice standing”  so we do loops in the park with standing intervals.  She’s a swimmer now and doesn’t really keep up with the biking, but no problem, you want to do standing?  We’ll do standing….  Let’s do an ITT time trial in this section — as fast as you can, go!!  Okay, let’s do a time trial.  This week I said “we have to prove that I’m faster in the big chain ring, here are the tests we are going to do.”  Slight rolling of eyes, “okay, I’ll follow you.”  Always willing to go along with whatever hairbrained idea I come up with.  Good sport.

Friday afternoon I decided it was time to call in a masseuse.  I haven’t had a massage in a long time but I had a lot of muscles hurting — pinched nerve in my shoulder and some muscles called the QL or something like that were making me feel like someone was stabbing me in the back with a knife.  There was only so much Bosswellan cream could do.  Time to start breaking up the tightness.  I wasn’t counting on the massage to actually make me feel worse.  Saturday morning I woke up nauseaus (massage or pre-half-marathon fear?)   I went to swim practice only to get in the water and discover that I couldn’t raise my arm.  Made it about 20 feet and had to get out of the pool.  That was a big waste of time.  I felt terrible.  Depressed, achy, you name it.  No way I could do a half marathon in the morning.  You must. I can’t.  You wimp.  Yes, yes, you are right I’m a wimp and I give up.  Let me just go home and sleep for century.  I give up.  I can’t do this anymore.  I can’t do a half marathon.  I can’t.

I finally got up and headed out to pick up my race packet.  Why bother?  You’re not doing the half marathon.  Time to take up a new venture.  Why don’t you just start playing bridge?  What’s wrong with that?  (Sudden flash to my Boss at the Bergen Record saying I’ll make a great secretary one day (while I was trying to be a reporter…))  Nausea, anxiety.  Please, can’t I have another month or so to get ready?

I gave my coaches my plan.  I’m not wearing the team colors.  I’m not going to wear the timing chip.  I can’t bear to see the number.  I’m nervous, I”m scared, I’m a big chicken.  “Embrace your inner Chicken” my coach writes back with a funny picture.  Yeah okay, I’ll embrace my inner chicken.  Visions of feathers flying everywhere.

All Saturday I toss and turn over whether or not to wear my chip.  I don’t care about the time, I just want to finish.  I’m not using this as a qualifying race so I don’t care if NYRR keeps track.  There is no reason to wear the chip.  Just do the race incognito.  Nobody has to know.  If you can’t finish you can just duck out.  If you can’t make the cutoff nobody has to know.  It will be just you and your bruised ego slinking back home.   I couldn’t put my finger on why this wasn’t sitting right.  Why this felt dishonest.  I have said several times, if people don’t want to compete, don’t put on the chip, simple as that.  I knew I wasn’t competing.  I didn’t care about this time.  But that wasn’t really true, I cared immensely about the time.  It mattered more than anything to make the cutoff.  This is stupid, it’s a run.  A 13 mile run, why is it so important?

It was important because it would mean that I wasn’t beaten.  And for the last year I have felt beaten.  I have felt like every time I try to get better, fitter, faster, stronger something comes along to knock me down.  First couple of times you get back up because that’s what you are supposed to do.  Sooner or later you have to question why am I doing this to myself?  Grab a pack of smokes and go hit the pub.  There is a nice easy life to be had.  You do not have to keep humiliating yourself, just wrap it up already.  Game over.   Know when to say enough is enough.  I’m not putting that stupid chip on.  That stupid chip is going to tell me I’m too slow, I’m too old, I’m too weak or sick.  Done.  Not wearing it.  I finish the last big of my wheat grass drink and energy drink from the juice bar.  Go to bed.

Sunday morning I wake up ready for inventory of everything that is hurting or queasy.  How’s your shoulder? Eh it still hurts but I don’t really need your shoulder to run.  What else?  Your back? Well it’s not really that bad and if I slather some Boswellan cream on it, it should feel okay.  How are your feet? Okay.  Your knees? Fine.  Your stomach?  Are you still nauseous? Er no.  Okay, put on the shoes and let’s go.   I couldn’t find a single excuse.  I put on my shirt, shorts, shoes, race number, glasses, water bottle.  Ready to walk out the door.  One last thing.  I knelt down and attached the timing chip.  You’re an Idiot. I know.  I see Eleanor Roosevelt standing in the corner nodding approvingly.  You be quiet too Eleanor.

Weather gorgeous.  People happy.  I’m dreading this.  I’m not sure I can make it around the park, how am I supposed to do 13 miles?  I won’t even make it up the westside.  I should just go home now.  Bang, the race starts and everyone is quickly leaving me in the dust.   A few teammates from my corral waive as they go by.  Syonara, I think, I won’t be seeing you for the rest of the day.

I spent the first four miles waiting for the piano to drop on my head.  Any minute you are going to be tapped out.  Not enough energy.  Your knees will give out at mile 8 like they always used to.  Your quads and hamstrings will start to tighten up.  Any minute now, any minute now.   Why isn’t it happening?  I’m paying close attention to my heart rate.  I want to keep it at 145 but let it float to 147/148.  If it hits 150 I start to walk until it goes down.  Geesh did I notice how nice the weather is?  I’m going over an inventory like the guy does in the book “Born to Run.”  Am I bending my knees?  Am I lifting my feet?  I add my own, am I leading with my hips and lifting out my chest?  Check, check, check.  I had two water bottles and planned on each one lasting me about 6 miles.  Now I’m working my way up Lasker Hill.  How did that happen? First bottle runs out at exactly mile 6.  I ditch it.  Not to worry, any minute everything will come crashing down and I won’t be fast enough to make it out of the park without them pulling me.

I start to think about the timing chip and why did I put it on?  I realize it is because of my inner chicken.  Yes it’s a big chicken but it is MY chicken.  This may turn out to be the most abysmal race of my life but it’s my race and my life and I’m not going to apologize to anyone for my result.  Leave my chicken alone.  Yes I may stumble, crawl or cry my way over the finish line but it is my chicken and my finish line.  Go worry about your own.  That’s why I put the chip on.  Not just because I cared about the time but I care about honoring myself.  I’m not going to short change my experience for anyone expectations (and the only person with expectations is you know who… the chicken herself.)

I turn onto 7th avenue.  This should be the easiest part but now I’m working harder.  I keep walking each time my heart rate hits 150.  Maybe I should go until 155?  No stick to your plan.  Just stick to your plan.  150 you walk until it gets to 145.  If it’s 145 you run.  Any minute now everything will start hurting and you’ll want to pass out so just keep going as long as you can.

How can I be at 42nd street?  Shouldn’t my knees be giving out?  I’m not going fast and my 12 minute miles have turned into 14 minute miles with the walk breaks.  I see Mo.  I almost sneak by her but she sees me.  Okay make her run with me.  We start working our way down the westside highway.  My heartrate keeps bolting up to 150.  Unfair.  My legs are not dead but I feel my heart start to beat too hard and I keep to the walk at 150.  Maybe the next race I’ll go with higher but I’m nervous and suddenly 13.2 miles seem like a long way to go.

We pick up Espo on the way.  Mo and Espo running ahead of me because I don’t want to be distracted.  Darn, 150 again?  What should I do?  Should I just ignore it and keep going until I pass out?  just stick to the plan this time.

Then I see Felicia.  Poor Felicia.  She always sees me at my weak points.  This is my first race back.  It means something to me, I don’t know what, but it means something.  Run with me.  Mo and Espo on my right, Felicia on my left.

Felicia starts to run with me.    Don’t let me walk any more for the last 1/2 mile.  (I later see my HR peaked at 162 which had to be in that last stretch).   I try to get Mo to run over the finish line with me — for some reason I wanted it to be momentous. They won’t let her come but that creates a diversion for Felicia to slip into the final shoot with me.  I just didn’t want to be alone.  I needed someone to experience this with me.  It’s a big deal.  It wasn’t a fast half-marathon but it was a half-marathon where I stuck to my plan, I stuck to my form, I had no aches or pains, just some heavy feeling legs — it was my I’m-back-so-take-that-half-marathon.   I think my decision to back off at 150 was right for today.  Anything more and I might have done some harm.   As I get more fit I will be able to go faster at that same heartrate, I just have to be patient.

I just wanted to break 3 hours.  My final time was 3 hours and 9 seconds.  9 seconds, ouch, I had plenty of 9 seconds throughout the course.  But it wasn’t 3:01, it was 3:00.09.  I’m going to have to take that.

My fastest half marathon to date was 2:35.  My slowest was, well 3 hours and 9 seconds. Today.  But it was MY 3:00.09… well, my and my chicken’s…..


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3/16/10 Move The Hamper

Wednesday. Another Suburu maintenance appointment blog update. Gives me a minute to myself while they change my oil and rotate my tires. Life in the burbs can be so civilized and relaxed.

Feeling pretty good except for a small, pulled, mystery-muscle in my back. I have no idea how I did it (though I suspect trying to master the elusive pretzel stretch/pose might possibly be the culprit.) It’s one of those weird muscle pulls that I don’t feel until I try to stand up. It smarts and then goes away. When I try to poke around to find exactly where it is, no can do. Very strange. I’ve been using my Boswellin Cream on it and it makes it feel better.

Friday was Weight Watchers. A good meeting. I was down 1/2 a pound which doesn’t sound like much (and it isn’t) but as long as I’m not gaining I’m happy. I find these weeks where I am half in CT and half in NYC hard to get a rhythm going. I really understand how hard it is for people who travel. There were about 2 or 3 things I think I should have cut back or omitted which wouldn’t have resulted in much more of a loss (if any at all) but I’m finding more and more it is about completing intention more than actual weight loss. My intention is to live a healthy, moderate life. When I don’t live my intention I’m disappointed in myself. When I grab something mindlessly because it is quick and easy, I am not living my intention.

One of the topics at the meeting was about making the program work for you. Everyone talked about how they customize WW to be what they need it to be. I agree that customization is key but I also know that certain steps are there because they work. Tracking for example. When I track I have a much higher success rate than when I don’t. I hate tracking so I spend a lot of energy working around it. Planning meals in advance so I don’t have to write it down later. Looking for filling or core foods (which are the healthiest). But bottom line, when I track, I lose. I just hate to track. So I have to find a smarter way to track.

I told my favorite story about how years ago I read a letter to Ann Landers or Dear Abby. In it a person wrote in complaining about her husband’s nightly ritual of taking off his socks and dropping on the floor two feet from the hamper. “Why can’t he just walk over two feet and put the socks in the hamper?” The writer lamented. Ann Landers wrote back “Move the Hamper.” On my gravestone I want them to chisel two sayings. “Without Struggle there is No Growth” and “Move the Hamper.” I say it to myself all the time. Stop fighting yourself. Work the way you work. Move the hamper. Lean in.

Training has been okay. I thought this last week was hard because I was tired. This week we get a recovery week and I plan on taking full advantage. Had a little creative workout on Saturday. It was pouring rain and we had to do a swim and a 1:45 run in the rain. Even though it wasn’t that bad out when I got up I just couldn’t do it to myself. I felt a need for a little kindness after a couple of hard weeks and I just knew that if I ran in the rain and cold I would get sick. I’ve been feeling pretty good and avoiding catching colds so far and I just couldn’t do it. So I made up my own workout. Move the hamper.

I started with the swim workout I didn’t do on Friday. So 1:15 minutes of drills and workout laps. Some of my laps were not bad at all. I had a bunch of 1:01 and 1:02 for my 50 yards. I’m trying to get under a minute and when I started swimming at the beginning of the season I was at 1:10’s. I chiseled 3 seconds off by incorporating a kick from my left left and I’m not sure what chiseled the other 5 seconds off this week but I was feeling pretty good. By the end I was back to some 1:07’s but no 1:10’s. I was pleased.

Then I went to a spin class. New instructor never had him before. The workout was called Interval Spin. I figured that meant fast and slow intervals. It basically meant we are going to stand and sprint until you puke and then give you one minute break. I have never seen anyone with as high cadence as this guy had. I’m not even if it is good to go that fast — seems unnatural. I was hanging on but wasn’t expecting all that standing. Good for me, I need work on my standing. I shouldn’t call it standing, it’s running on the pedals. Class was only 45 minutes but I got there 15 minutes early and did a warm up spin to make it 1 hour.

Then I went to the treadmill for an hour run. Wow, that hurt. Really hurt. It wasn’t my first brick of the season but it was my first triathlon. I forgot how much the swim could take out of my legs particularly since I had been doing some kicking drills in there. With the added standing on the bike, my legs were screaming. Okay, so I’ll be walking some of St. Anthony’s in April. This was not easy. I finished with 10 minutes on the rowing machine just because I like the rowing machine.

I reminded myself that I was coming off a couple of continuous weeks of training and my big secret that makes me happy is that it doesn’t really matter any more. I’m doing all of this stuff for me and wherever I end up I end up. I have no expectations or worries. Ironman Canada will simply be a day of fun. I’m just finding the joy in training and not worrying about peaking or performance. It is what it is. I yam what I yam. Nothing to prove. Just grateful to be out there.

I’m back up in CT. Spent Monday back at UCONN medical with my Mom and Dad getting more dental work. I was tired by the end of the day. My Sister-in-Law called and wanted me to go to a spin class with her. Eh, it was supposed to be a day of rest but I didn’t really workout that hard on Sunday and I knew I would not be working out on Wednesday so move the hamper, work with what you have. Think outside of the box. I was pleasantly surprised. I had a fun spin class and got a chance to hang with my sister-in-law in a non-hospital setting. I felt strangely invigorated.

Much work today but finally, finally 50 plus degree weather. Calling for a beautiful, easy run and a light spin on my bike. Light, light, light because this Sunday I have that stupid half marathon. I really don’t know how I will pull this out out of my hat but it will be what it will be. By hook or by crook I’ll cross that finish line. Just have to think outside of the box and move the hamper.


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3/11/10 Bye Bye Tiger Balm

Thursday. Quick post because I don’t want to forget my cure in case I find myself with sore legs again. I found this tube of cream I bought when I was up at Kripalu, it’s an Ayurvedic cream called Boswellin Cream. I was desperate yesterday because all the muscles in my legs were sore and I had to drive for 2.5 hours. I decided it couldn’t hurt to try it. I couldn’t believe it. Within seconds I felt it seeping deep into my muscles and all the way deep, deep into the knot on my butt. It was amazing. It felt a lot like bengay or aspercreme — that warm seeping feeling and it had a little bit of that same kind of smell but not quite as bad. I put a little on my knees last night before I went to bed and this morning I got up and no more muscle pain and very little knee pain. The label says it is good for arthritis. I’m giving it 4 stars and just ordered a boatload more. No more tiger balm for me. This stuff really did the trick. I’m in love.

Had a great ride this morning. Few mechanical probs with my bike but nothing a tune up won’t fix. I worked hard, my muscles worked hard, my heart rate was appropriate and I felt like I got a good workout. That’s all I ask for. Appropriate muscle and systemic fatigue and appropriate heart rate for the effort. Helped to have 45 degree weather for a change. It felt normal. I was happy. Amazing how the world looks better when you don’t have a pain in your butt….or need to take a nap halfway through a workout.

Praying for rideable weather this weekend. I am signed up for Berkshire Brevet Series St. Pat’s 100K Populaire on Sunday. It’s the first in a series of long rides in a sport called Randonneuring. Which is long-distance unsupported endurance cycling. I had never even heard of it until a couple of months ago. I’m very excited because I think this is what I’m supposed to do (after Ironman and after the Gobi Desert). This is the shortest one — 100k (60 miles.) Then the next ride is 200k and then the distances keep going. I don’t think I can do more than the 200k while training for Ironman but I’ll take it one week at a time. I’m still getting hip to the lingo, but from the Randonneur’s website I’m learning a brevet is a min of 200k and then they increase all the way up to 600k or more. There is the famous Paris-Brest-Paris 1,200k which must be completed in 90 hours. There is also a Boston-Montreal-Boston one, how cool would that be? I’m not saying I’m in anywhere good enough shape to do any of these and probably won’t happen during Ironman training but reading the blogs of Randonneurs — these people ride their bikes 100 miles a day just in commuting to work! Plus it is all self-sufficient. You have to take care of yourself with food, water, maps, etc. This is very exciting to me. It’s long distance endurance cycling. I might be good at that. Or I might have fun just trying. Anyway there is a large community of Randonneurs in Westfield MA which is about 45 minutes from my house in CT. I’m signed up for this Sunday. Hopefully it won’t be raining (because I’m not sure I’ll do it in the rain).


Check out this breathtaking 2009 Brevet de Randonneur des Alpes. It’s long but you don’t have to watch too much to get the gist.

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3/10/10 Bike Week

Wednesday.  Really?  It’s Wednesday?  How did that happen?  I’ll keep it short ’cause I’m too tired to write long.  (Okay you don’t have to cheer out loud, quiet muffled sighs of relief would be fine.)

I’ve been going back and forth to CT to take care of my parents. Dad seems stable enough now so time to turn focus onto Mom.   Mom just turned 90 last Wednesday and is doing amazingly well for a 70-year-old never mind a 90-year-old.  But parts break down after the warranty and there are things that have to get fixed.  Took Mom to the hospital on Monday for surgery on her hand (Dupuytren’s contracture which is hereditary, yeah! Something else to look forward to!)  She’s without use of her right hand for two weeks which will make it tough for her to take care of my dad.  So we have another battalion of nurses and home health aides coming through to try to help out.  They are all wonderful but as much as it is great to have the help they are still outsiders.  After the right hand heals we have to do the left.  I’ll head back to the city as soon as the next batch of prescriptions are filled so I can update the daily pill organizers — a new bi-weekly duty.  I think Mom looks great for 90, she looks better than most 60 year olds and with her fixed hands she’ll be back on the golf course and out putting me by Spring!

Mom soaking up a bit of sun after her surgery.  60 degrees and sunny seemed like a luxury.

Training right now is hard, hard, hard.  I didn’t play tennis last week or this week.  I couldn’t run on the court if I tried.  I’m barely making it up the stairs.  My butt hurts and my legs hurt.  Muscular sore.  Did I mention my butt hurts?  I had two really solid weeks of training and then this past week kind of knocked me out.  I really don’t understand why I’m suffering so.  I did ride my bike 4 times last week and maybe one too many hills in CT on my Thursday ride.  We had a big workout on Saturday that knocked the stuffing out of me.  We had a 1 hour swim in the morning (no big deal, lots of drills) then we had a bike ride on 9w with repeats of state line hill and then time trial repeats.  There was a lot of wind and I was trying to catch up to everyone. I think I put in a long, hard effort for maybe more time than I realized.  I still can’t figure out what did me in.  I felt okay while doing it (though I was complaining that it was hard) by the ride home I was feeling okay.  I ended up doing 64 miles in 4:50 which sounds very slow but I was only going 2 mph on the uphills.  I think my problem came with how I handled my recovery.  I think I needed to stretch about 3 hours longer than I did.  I also think I needed more water.  My muscles don’t seem to be bouncing back.  My knees ache.  Or maybe it was the 26 miles on Thursday the second part of which was basically all hills.  Maybe I just did too many hills…  One thing about northern CT, there is no shortage of hills.

I did a short achy, painful walk/run on Sunday.  I did about 90 minutes but I couldn’t run up anything.  I was doing that Charlie Chaplin walk.   There was no way I could do the 12-14 miles assigned walk, run or crawl!  My legs were shot.  I went home to stretch some more.  Wasn’t feeling the response from my legs.  And my butt!! My butt just hurts!!

I figured Monday after my Mother and my Tour de Hospitals Connecticut I would be able to go do something.  Eh, no….  I was exhausted and still hurt.  Lots of stretching and muscle spray and rolling around on the floor trying to work out the kinks.  I know I’m supposed to rest when I feel exhausted but after two days I start to feel the guilt creeping in.  I took too many months off, I’m still trying to catch up.  Though I know it doesn’t work that way, I still feel it.

Yesterday I knew I had to run even if I didn’t want to.  Got to train my legs to run no matter what.  This is Ironman.  Legs feel shot after 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike, nobody WANTS to run a marathon.  We were supposed to do hill repeats.  There was no way I could do hill repeats.  I decided to try for my long run again.   I did 11 ugly miles.  I say ugly because I couldn’t get any speed going and I had to take a 1 minutes walk break every 9 minutes which then turned into 2 minutes walking after 8 minutes of running. I haven’t felt this kind of leg exhaustion since, since, well the last time I trained for Ironman.   But there were a lot of good things about the run.  First, I did 11 miles.  To date I have not passed 8 miles.  I went way over 90 minutes which had been a barrier as well.  With the walking and all it was about 2 1/2 hours to complete the 11 miles (which is not very good for me speed wise but endurance wise it was a breakthrough.)  I found a new trail along the Farmington river and round trip it is exactly 11.2 miles so that can be a new benchmark run for me.   And I did it on tired, tired, legs. So I figure if I went out on rested legs, early in the day instead of 3:30 in the afternoon, with good nutrition, I should be able to do 13.2 miles in week and a half?  I’m registered to do a half marathon but I know I don’t have the capability to race it, I will just try to finish it.  (And this is different from my other half marathons how?)  I also think an important trick in getting me to do long mileage is to do an out and back with no way to get home other than run.  Central Park is too easy to talk myself out of it.  But when I’m 5.5 miles out into the woods in Farmington, there is no C train to hop on.  It’s just me, myself and aye yi yi yi did I mention my butt hurts?

I just finished “Born to Run” by  Christopher McDougall.  I’m trying to incorporate some what they write about.  One line (that I’m sure I’m butchering) is “start with easy ’cause if you don’t get anything else at least you have easy.”  Eventually I think you are supposed to add, light, quick, free-flowing and a bunch of other stuff.  I was struggling to get the easy part down.

I am waiting for the dishes to finish, the laundry to finish, the prescriptions to be filled and the home health aides to show up all in between fending off client emails with a lot of “we’ll get right back to you”s.  Then back in the car for ride back to NYC.  I think the trick to handling everything is to compartmentalize and to only focus on the task at hand.  If I think of everything that has to get done it seems impossible.   One task at a time, one mile at at time.  Life is Ironman.  Ironman is Life.  Right now all I can think about is the jacuzzi at my health club and how divine it will feel to just sink into warm bubbling water for a decade or so….


Get ready for a lot of quotes from “Born to Run”:

“You don’t have to be fast.  But you’d better be fearless.” 

That’s going on my fridge….

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