Monthly Archives: November 2011

11/29/11 A Doctor a Day Keeps….

Tuesday.  I thought I’d be back in NYC by now.   No such luck.  Mom got sick again over Thanksgiving so I was elected (really? was there an election or was I the only candidate that showed up?) to stay and get her to all the doctors we have lined up for the week.  We have a different doctor scheduled for every day.  (Yesterday one of the nurses asked me if I was a nurse because I seemed so knowledgeable —  strangely, I took that as a compliment.)  There is nothing life-threatening here we are just staying ahead of the ball and getting everything fixed while everything is fixable.  Just to make things interesting my Dad took a spill at 4 a.m. and I couldn’t get him back up so the police had to come and help me.   Can I count that as a core workout?   If all goes well I can leave late Thursday just in time for my first practice on Saturday morning. (It may be one of the few practices I actually make as I have to be back here next week for Dad’s doctor’s appointments…)

Training-wise I don’t really mind being stranded here.  I have tons of trails to choose from for running.  I have many routes for riding.  The weather has been great.  I actually prefer training here than in NYC where I feel like a gerbil going around and around Central Park ad infinitum.  I just don’t think I push myself quite as hard without a written work-out plan or coaches appearing out of nowhere.  I just get up and do what I feel like.  But, that’s okay, many workouts to come in the months ahead.

I arrived Thursday in Manchester to do the Manchester Road Race.  I did my 1 minute on, 1 minute off for the first mile (painful).  The second is the longest freaking uphill you can imagine.  I think training for Mont Tremblant should just be repeats of this hill.  I would say it is like running up State Line.  Everybody walks it (except for the super fasts).  Then mile 3 is the downhill on the other side.  I tried to stop and walk some of that but I couldn’t get my legs to stop so I just ran down the hill.  Mile 4 I started to feel warmed up and then the race was over at 4.75.  There’s my problem in a nutshell.  I don’t get warmed up until 40 minutes into the run and by then everyone else is done.  15,000 people show up for this race.  I use the word race very loosely because I had no problem striking up conversations and stopping to listen to bands playing and look at fun decorations.  It’s quite the experience.  It is a great way to start Thanksgiving day even if everyone bailed on me and I had to do it alone.

I was feeling very weak Friday for the first time in a while.  It was part of my cycle so I was okay with it.  I am very grateful for all of the “up” time I have had lately.   The weather was beautiful and my guilt was tremendous.  I couldn’t even go for a walk.  I decided I would not punish myself and when I feel like that I will rest. Period.

Saturday I got up and decided I felt good enough to go for a ride into Simsbury.  I have an easy 30 mile route that I do.  (This is the one where I avoid the big hills on the return and take the chicken-route back).  There is one last hill before I hit my house.  It is very steep but very short.  Even in my “less-than-sparkly” days  I could make it up by just putting it into Granny gear.  Not Saturday.  I just couldn’t do it.  There was no energy in the tank.  But I still managed 30 miles even though .25 miles were walking. I knew I was still not well.  More Iron, more b-12.   Sunday I went to my favorite running loop in the woods around the reservoir.  I wanted to do 90 minutes.  15 minutes in I just had to stop and turn around.  I was too tired.  Home.  More rest.  More Iron, more b-12.

Then yesterday I woke up after 10 hours of sleep and decided to try a run.  Just see how long I could do my 1 minute run, 1 minute walk.  Ta da!!!  I was great. I was really in control and felt fine (except I MUST strengthen these quads).  I had moments of actual running and good form and feeling strong.  I got to the two-mile marker and made the executive decision that a good 4 was better than a petered-out 6 so I turned around.  I was strong right until the end.  I felt good.  I probably could have done much more but I figured sometimes less is best.

I’ve made a radical change in my diet over the last couple of weeks and I think I’m starting to see some progress.  I was rereading the book “Why we get fat” by Gary Taubes and he was going on about carbs and insulin and certain people who have the “switch” that if they eat carbs their insulin spikes and they store everything as fat.  That was a gross paraphrase of a well-structured book.   As in anything in learning, you can hear something over and over again and then someone presents it to you in a way that makes sense and voila you get it.  (Racquet down and back, racquet down and back, OH you mean Racquet down and BACK…)   Carbs don’t make you fat, Insulin makes you fat, but some Carbs spike your Insulin.  And he actually explains in great detail why the old calories in/calories out model is just wrong and he makes total sense.

I read the book and it fits really nicely with Dr. Fuhrman who I really believe in (But I find difficult to make all the dishes).  Over the last two weeks I have eliminated all forms of sugar from my diet AND all processed white flour.  No white bread (I still have two slices of Ezekiel for bfast).  No potatoes (I know!!  Painful!), No rice (shutup! not even brown rice),  No pasta (yeah, I can live with that.)  No sugared drinks (which includes the alcohol I have not been drinking for several months now anyway).  No chips or chip-like substitutes. No dark chocolate (even the good-for-me kind). And I’ve reduced the amount and type of fruits I’m eating.  Apparently fructose is not my friend either though I am reserving judgement on that one.

The difference is I’m not thinking Protein vs Carbs.  According to all sources I get plenty of Protein, I just eat too many simply Carbs.   So now I’m thinking, what will keep my insulin low so it will not turn everything into fat and keep it there?   I have to say that I’ve been doing okay.  I’m not having any cravings.  I feel okay energy-wise (except for Friday, Saturday, Sunday which I’m allowing due to cycle).

So what am I eating?  Breakfast every day has been the same.  Scrambled Tofu (with tumeric makes it look just like scrambled eggs) with mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and spinach and two slices of ezekiel bread with Earth Balance.  A large cup of fresh berries (blackberries or raspberries so far.)

Lunch everyday a huge salad with nuts and seeds, more tomatoes, as much as an entire avocado, balsamic vinegar (which is probably not recommended but I’m doing it anyway.)  I also toss a few extra beans into the salad (I like chick peas).  A large bowl of lentil soup. (I have been making it myself in NYC but here I just grab a can of Amy’s).  In NYC I have a few other soups that I use like a Minestrone and a white bean soup.

Dinner for the last three nights:  large salad with a bunch of olives, tomatoes (I know I like tomatoes), 4 large falafel, a cup of fresh chopped salsa from the deli poured over the falafel, tahini poured on top as a dressing. I am finding Tahini to be amazingly satisfying.  Did you know 2 tablespoons of Tahini has 5 grams of protein?  It also contains the B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. Sesame Seeds are going into my lunchtime salad now too.  Then I have had a banana or an orange with it.  The banana/orange is the next thing to get rid of.  Baby steps.

When hungry I take a handful of raw almonds, seems to do the trick.

So far I have been feeling amazingly well.  I am not feeling craving for bread or rice or pasta at all.  But I need the fats to feel satisfied.  The avocado in the salad at lunch and Tahini at night seal the meal.

Before I left NYC I had already lost about 4 pounds in a week.  I made it through Thanksgiving with minor compromise.  I brought my own Tofu and made an amazing side dish of Brussel Sprouts, Cranberries and Almonds.  I did allow myself one scoop of Vegan Stuffing as my sister-in-law made it especially for me.  I’m strangely not feeling deprived at all.  I’m not even thinking about sugar or bread.  It just goes to show how much of these cravings are just addictions.

I’m now rereading Tim Ferris “The Four Hour Body.”  I’m a little torn as he is anti fruit and Dr. Fuhrman is pro fruit.  But he has some good tips which I will share later. Gary Taubes is more picky about which fruit.  All in all I think simply eliminating all forms of sugar and all refined flour products as well as starchy carbs is a HUGE first step.  I have much more reading/studying to do.  I’m not so worried about how this fits in with Ironman training yet as we won’t get to the hard stuff until February or so.  Right now I want to just control my insulin which seems to be the root of all evil..

Namaste

A couple of picks from my workouts in CT.  I was riding down Barndoor Road and passing a small field I saw what at first I thought were some dogs.  But closer inspection revealed what might be a Llama or an Alpaca or both.  Just hanging out on a sunny day….

I went running on the new segment of the rails to trails in Canton.  Very nice.  Sawdust everywhere from the tree cleanup.  Thousands and thousands of downed trees throughout the state.  Chopped up into woodchips.  Saws left dust all over the trails….

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11/16/11 Peaking

Wednesday. One of the things I like about myself is my seemingly limitless capacity for improvement. I am never at a loss to find goals and projects to work on. If I were perfect, what would I have left to do? My bookshelf would be empty of the multitude of diet books, training manuals and guides to enlightenment. My drawers would not be stuffed with missing parts to power meters, heart rate monitors and bike lights (I can rebuild it, I swear). I wouldn’t be spending time clearing out expired gels and old bars from my cabinets. I would have too much empty space without my two bikes, the trainer, my pilates machine avec les accoutrement,  bosu ball, as well as my meditation equipment the zafu and zabuton. What would I do with all that space and time?

Then of course I have my working gadgets. My garmin 301XT, my blood pressure/heart rate machine, my body fat percentage calculator, my scale (albeit dusty), my power meter, my cateye cadence monitor (two), my smartphone. I’m sure I’m forgetting some. You’d think I was some world-class athlete with all the machines I have to measure and monitor my every waking breath and step.

And now I have a new toy. Training Peaks software. It promises to track my every move as I morph into an athlete. How much I weigh, how I slept, what I was thinking about while I slept, who I was sleeping with, whether that relationship holds promise for the future. (Okay some of those are add-on options available in future revisions.) Training Peaks lets me enter all the food I’m eating and gives me a macro nutrient (fat/protein/carbs) and caloric breakdown. It lets me enter all my workouts with data gathered from any of the devices in paragraph two. It will even report to my coach on how I’m doing if I click a little box to link with him. (Not brave enough to click that box yet.)

I think Training Peaks will start to talk back to me soon like I predict the GPS in my car will one day as well. I wait for my GPS to give up on me and say something like “FINE! If you are not going to follow my directions, I’m not going to speak anymore. Take a left see where that gets you!” This morning I was entering my breakfast into Training Peaks. I don’t really have it down yet so I enter as I go. I was up at 5 am and had a cup of tea and an Ezekiel English Muffin with 1 tablespoon of Earth Balance spread. First step was to define what kind of meal. I dutifully entered it as breakfast and watched as all the red lines started appear telling me how much of my daily allotment I had used up.  I started to panic already.  At 8 a.m. I was hungry so I made 1/4 cup of TVP (textured vegetable protein), 1/2 cup of oatmeal, 1/2 cup of blueberries, 2 tbls of chopped pecans, and 1/4 cup of Almond milk. Again I went to my little tracker and entered everything by clicking and dragging the items into my meal planner. Again I indicated it was breakfast and saved it. At 10 a.m. I grabbed a banana with another cup of tea and went to my tracker. I waited for it to respond “Are you kidding me? Three breakfasts? What kind of athlete are you? We haven’t even hit lunch yet and you’ve consumed 700 calories. Get outside and run six miles now!! Go! Now! GO!” I sheepishly skulked away looking for my running shoes that have crawled under the couch in fear.

I had my running shoes in hand when I passed the computer and see a little button on the screen “calculate your ATP.” What’s an ATP? I look interested. Annual Training Plan. Hmmm, okay, I’ll play. It asks me the date of my A event (it won’t let me put in the B events until I have put in the A event.) I say Mont Tremblant in August. It asks me what kind of triathlete I am giving me a range of 600-1200 hours of yearly training. I decided to be honest and say 600 (though I’m too lazy to actually figure it out). I pressed the button and it did a bunch of computing. It tells me I’m in pre-training (I agree). It tells me base training starts December 5th (right on plan.) And then I scroll down to race day and it shows the hours for the race — 8 1/2 hours. I start to laugh. Then I start to really laugh. You silly, silly program. Did you decide that I must be fast because I ate three breakfasts this morning? Has a women ever even finished the Ironman in 8 1/2 hours? Why do I feel unworthy before I have even hit my first training session of the season?  Of course then I realize that it was probably assuming I was only doing a half Ironman and based on my insufficient training and overeating I would take that long.  I felt so judged.

Suddenly I’m not so worried about training. I’m more concerned about whether or not my new software likes me or not.

Namaste

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11/14/11 Who was that?

I’m feeling really good. For several weeks now I’m aware that I do not feel tired, feverish or anything. I feel fairly energized. Whatever had been lurking for so long seems just gone. I’m still taking my Vitamin Code raw vitamins.  I don’t know if it is a coincidence or not but right around when I started taking them I started to feel better. Could be unrelated but I do believe that your body will tell you what you want. I look at those bottles of vitamins and I take them without a second thought. I think they work. Oh and I’ve also refrained from coffee except for that one time and it’s been several months without any wine or booze — I’m not even interested. Funny thing I just realized that since that one cup of coffee I don’t seem to be craving it anymore either. So I guess a big portion of that was psychological.

Let’s see, Thursday I played tennis with John and about half way through my knee popped back into place. For weeks I’ve been hopping around playing tennis on one leg and just as it freakishly popped out, it popped back in. No pain. I decided to play tennis with John again on Friday to test it out and it felt good. I also felt like I was really starting to hit the ball hard. Felt really good. Even John commented on it. Because I felt my knee could take it I was able to really torque my core and let ‘er rip.

Felt so good on Friday after tennis I joined up with Amy and Jan for a couple of loops of the park later the same morning on my bike. I knew if I tried to keep up with them I’d get exhausted and that dizzy, someone-just-hit-me-upside-the-head-with-a-plank feeling. So we just did our own thing. About a mile in I knew right away that I could keep going. Energy was there. I wasn’t killing it but I did two loops and on the second loop I did two extra repeats of Harlem Hill. Only problem was I couldn’t stand. As soon as I stood I felt my knees scraping bone on bone and I just sat back down. I knew I had done a lot on my knees with the tennis and I just finished with seated climbs. I was really out of breath and I felt okay. I was happy as I rode to meet the gals for coffee because I absolutely knew I could do another loop even two. What a difference from last month when I felt so exhausted on the bike.

Saturday I went out for a 4+ mile run/walk. Again I was shocked that I was okay. Granted I’m only doing a 1 minute jog, 1 minute walk but I was able to keep it up the entire time and I didn’t feel exhausted. What the heck is going on? I’m just so happy.

Sunday I walked to Central Park did my 1:1 jog/walk up and around the bridle path and back down. And I felt FINE? This is crazy!! Not a single tree moved that wasn’t supposed to be moving. My head was clear. I was slow as a poke but I didn’t need to stop. I even walked home from the park and it didn’t even occur to me to need to grab the subway or a cab or a strange passerby for support. And this is the really crazy part, I didn’t even need a nap afterwards. I was just fine.

I have my regular session with Marlie on Monday mornings but the club called last night and said they needed me to play with Gail at 9 (slowly inching my way back into their rolodex for last minute hitting). I said okay I would do both. I would have an hour in between to rest, I would be fine. I met Marlie at 7 and I thought I was hitting well for the ground strokes but we are now working on some of my approach volleys because I’m sometimes missing the put away in games. She says I’m ahead of the ball. I know a big part of it is my movement. I’m still a little hesitant to move and then once I’m moving I’m rushing. I have to be moving before I think that it is time to move. Then my serve was all over the place. I was rushing, rushing, rushing.

When we were finished an old tennis friend of mine Pilar had shown up to hit with a pro and the pro didn’t show up. I volunteered to hit with her for a half hour until the pro showed up. Pilar hits harder than any man in the club. She is over 6 foot tall and I still can’t figure out how she does it because she is so freakin smooth but that ball comes sailing into me at 100 mph and she makes it look like she is barely hitting it. It is all I can do to get my racquet on it and back. Thank goodness we didn’t have to play a game because I felt like I was playing a game of whack-a-mole, no sooner did I get a ball back than another was sailing into me like a missile. But I felt good that I could give her a bit of a workout and warm her up until the real show arrived.  (I have to hide the fact that I’m out of breath by going to find the extra ball even though I have one in my hand.)

I had a half hour to run upstairs and make a fast protein shake before my next match (yes the tennis club is in my building as is my pool and gym). Gail and I used to play all the time years ago but as I am on frequent sabbatical from tennis and she’s on frequent sabbatical in Switzerland it’s been awhile. I was warmed up. I had no excuse but she wiped the court with me. There were opportunities for me to even it up but I was making just too many errors and she wasn’t. Playing a game is very different from hitting. I can actually feel my brain shift. All of a sudden I have to NOT hit the ball to her. I was still rushing and making a lot of errors. But it was okay. I was not getting upset because I just knew that it is now time for me to stop doing drills all the time and start playing matches.  Give her a headstart.  I’ll start taking back those games one at a time.  Let her feel confident.  That’s right where I want her.  I’m a much better underdog than leader of the pack.

I got off the court with 2 1/2 hours of singles under my belt all before 10 a.m. Then I got my work done for two different clients, my kitchen cleaned, went to the grocery store and now I’m updating my blog. WHO AM I????? This is crazy. No naps, no exhaustion. I feel like if you needed me to go hit some more balls I could do it (though I think my knees are a little achy and could use some cartilage if you have any extra hanging around.)

The funny part of all of this is one month ago I was thinking forget it. I’m never going to be able to train again. I am just too tired all the time. Plugging away at my little workouts, fading fast through all of them. And now all of a sudden, here I am awake!! Feeling fine. Not just for one day. Not just for one week. It’s been since October 24th that I’ve felt good. Ready to work. Ready to workout.

Talk about perfect timing. Today I get an email from my coach reminding me that we are starting training for Ironman on December 3rd and a bunch of questions I had to answer. Yikes no excuses. I can’t tell him I’m not ready. Because I’m ready. I can’t believe I’m ready.  Let ‘er rip.

Namaste

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11/9/11 Freak Storm

Wednesday.  Finally a moment to update the blog, but only a moment.  I feel obliged to report my weakness.  I broke down.  I had a cup of coffee.  I know it doesn’t sound like that big of a deal but I was really trying hard.  But there is only so much that you can throw on a person before she cracks.

Apparently few New Yorkers were following the massive power outages in CT.  It was bad.  There are still people without power.  My family was without power for 8 days.  My brother and his wife were able to rough it with the use of a big old fireplace and a small generator but we all thought my 91 and 93-year-old parents would not do well in the 20 degree overnight weather.  So we shipped them off to stay with me.  In New York.  In a one bedroom apartment.  Nuff said.  The goods news is we are still talking to one another.  I drove them home on Monday and got a look first hand at the damage.  Soooo many trees down.  In all my years I’ve never seen so much damage from one storm.

We had a bad scare on Wednesday when I had to take my Mom to the emergency room.  Lots of drama on finding someone to look after my Dad while I took Mom to the hospital (brother-in-law arrived in town just in time).  Long story short and many tests later she has colitis and they gave her some antibiotics and she’s feeling great.  We get home at 2 a.m. I’m exhausted.

So my week was off.  Bad sleep (after three days on the floor with my sleeping bag from Marathon des Sables I bought an air mattress).  Bad eating.  I was looking for path of least resistance of finding food to please all including other brothers who came in to visit.  Inadequate work outs — I got out for a couple of walks and one really bad game of tennis where I got whooped AND my knee hurt.  Nothing going right.  Trying to stay in the moment.  Trying to minimize the number of times I had a melt down. When I finally got my folks back home, that’s when I finally gave in and had a cup of coffee. But I only had one and I went right back on the wagon. Ironically through all of this I was not tempted even once to have a glass of wine.

At a certain point I just had to look at the week and say well that’s what it was/is and that’s the best I could do.  I am, as it turns out, only human.

The guilt I feel that I have not worked out hard enough, not lost enough weight (and I’m fairly sure I packed on a few pounds this week) is something I will just have to learn to live with.  Not every week is going to get me closer to my goal.  The line of progress is a squiggly one at best.

Sunday was the NYC Marathon.  All of the Abundant Waters gang did great. Our runners raised over $15,000 for the after school program.   Krissy and Claire (two of our runners) came to visit with the kids.  I snapped some pics: Click Here to view Abundant Waters Runners with the kids. I was proud of each and every one of them and I can’t believe I ever ran a marathon. It looks so hard!!!

Goal for this week is to find my way back onto the track. Get some running in. Find my focus. One foot in front of the other.

Namaste

There was a lot of devastation to the trees around our house.  None upsets me as much as our beautiful old apple tree.  I don’t know how old it is exactly but my great grandparents settled on the land in 1854 and it was there when my Dad was born in 1918 so it’s at least 90 maybe even 100 years old.  And I’m not sure why this is bothering me so much other than I have so many years of memories surrounding this tree….

Here is the tree in the spring, doesn’t bear fruit anymore but does have beautiful blossoms in the Spring:

Apple Tree

Pre Storm Apple Tree Blossoms

Post Storm Apple Tree


Post Storm Apple Tree

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11/2/11 Aced That

Wednesday.  Just got off the phone with my new doctor.  I didn’t like him last week when he was implying that  I need a full body scan (which means more radiation.)  I like him now because we discussed my latest blood test results and he saw the same thing I did.  Progress.  Finally.  Finally.  Some PROGRESS.  It has been 2 years and 4 months and finally my antibody numbers turned around and are heading the right direction.   My last doctor had kept telling me not to worry, she had seen it take three years but being the type A person that I am I wanted them at zero on my first test.  Instead they were slowly creeping up.  45, 48, 50, 56.  I was freaking out.  Wrong way!   Wrong way!!   Well guess what?  They dropped to 38.  That’s almost 20 points!!  We want them to zero but I’ll take it, even my doctor said 56 to 38 is a significant shift.  It really shows my thyroid cells are leaving (or they are already gone and my antibodies are finally figuring it out.)

And, ANd, AND, get this, my Iron went up too.  Yep it went from 26 to 38!  Okay that’s still low by normal standards but it is not under 20 like it was last year.  It’s not even anemic.  Very, very pleased.  I told my doctor I was pleased.  He said he was pleased.  I said I don’t think I need a body scan.  He said let’s not rule it out but if your numbers keep going down — he’ll agree.  I said I think my medicine is at the right level.  He said he agreed and we’ll keep it just as it is.  See I’m not hard to please, just agree with everything I say.  So I’m really happy.  And over the last month I have really felt a shift.  I have felt better.  I still have moments of exhaustion and I can’t workout too hard yet but overall I’m feeling good and now I’m just going to keep riding this train.

So what have I done differently?  Well since my reboot I have not had any alcohol or coffee.  Who knows if that has anything to do with it but I do feel it has been helping me keep on track.  And I feel more even.  Less spikes throughout the day.  So for now I will continue until I don’t feel a need.  I don’t even think about alcohol but I have to say I still think about coffee every single day.  I really want to stay off coffee until I don’t think about it any more.  It kind of pisses me off that I want it so badly…

A green, a grain and a bean.  I’ve been doing that for lunch or dinner pretty much every day.

Frequent green juices.  I’ve kind of laid off making my own because the health shop in my lobby makes a great green juice and it’s not that expensive and let them clean up the mess.  I haven’t had one everyday, but 3-4 a week.

And my pills.  I have found these vitamins and these are the first ones I have felt have any real effect on me.   These are my new vitamins that I don’t seem to have any problem taking.  I think your body knows if something is working and it will lean towards it.  Vitamin Code for Women. And I am also taking Raw b-12.  Plus I take an Iron pill or two depending on how I feel and I am going to start up with D-3 again as the daylight hours have been shifting.

So I will continue with this regime as so far it is pretty easy to handle and I will keep tweaking.

Works out going so/so. On a tennis break this week.  Have gone on two runs. One turned into a walk. I’m trying to do 5 miles three times a week. Just trying to get my feet on the trail.  A little off schedule since my folks are with me this week.

This week was the first week that I actually felt good enough to actually think that maybe I can in fact do a triathlon next year. I have some doubts about an ironman but I’m going forth with faith. I signed up for Escape from Alcatraz as they rolled over my spot from last year and did not charge me a penny. I thought it would be rude to not take them up on their kind offer. I think I can do it. I’m starting to feel the glimmer. A lot of work to do but one inch at a time until I get there.

Terrible storm in CT last week and my home town was one of the hard hit. We had to evacuate my 90 year old parents and I brought them down to NYC to stay here until the power returns. I don’t know how the people without electricity are handling it. Already five days without electricity, heat and water and they are talking about it not coming back on until Sunday night! I just can’t even imagine what these people are going through. Meanwhile it’s me and my folks crammed into my NYC apartment. But so far so good. I’m making it my mission to cure them of all their ills while they are here.

It’s a good day.

Namaste

 

 

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