UPCOMING EVENTS: Hartford (RI) marathon, Newport (CT) marathon in October,
Soldier (GA) marathon, Pensacola (FL) marathon, and Pilgrim Pacer Marathons (KS) in November

It's never too late to be what you might have been. --George Eliot

This blog is about my journey as an asthmatic, hypothyroid, formerly plus-sized endurance athlete. It's occasionally interrupted with things that have nothing to do with that or whining about my weight and horrible eating habits. "You're never too old to be what you might have been" --George Eliot

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Semester Stress.


After 7 years of teaching I know that this is that time of the semester in which I get super stressed, what with all the parents calling me to find out what their 8th-grader can do to improve their grade and or accuse me of losing work "s/he said s/he turned it in and s/he's never lied to me before."

Deep breaths.

Of course, I'm a parent, contacting Mini-me's teachers to find out there's work to be made up; Mini-me and I growl at each other every night after I hollar, "turn off that TV! Get your schoolwork done!" and he protests and complains behind my back.

Teachers call to complain about how surly he is.

Excuses abound.

Deeeeeep breaths.

In any case it's stress time, and everyone is super hyper and stressed. Kids, parents, administrators, teachers, counselors.

One of the sections I teach is an honors class, so they are even more stressed.
"OhmyGodI'vegotanAminusIhavetogetanAplusohmyGodwhatcanIdo??"

There are parents who decide, at the 11th hour, that they want to have a meeting.

There will be the inevitable student who is transferred in from another state, 2 weeks before the end of the semester.

This is the time of year when I wonder why I'm doing this. I may even start searching want ads.

Deep breaths. Deeeeeeeeeeeeeep breaths.

Thank goodness for running! When I run, I mull things over and they all seem to lose their significance. I lose the nagging thoughts. Like that one that I should have tried harder to reach that one kid. Maybe I should have quizzed them more. Maybe I should give more homework. Maybe I should give less homework. Maybe I should have paid more attention to Mini-me's assignments...

poof! Bad thoughts, all gone, through the magic of hitting the trail with my New Balance 767's a few thousand times.
And in their place, peace and a feeling of good will. I'm good at what I do, and I do my best with what I'm given.

I have 7 more days after today to cram knowledge into little heads. As if they want it. Many of them have already gone on vacation, at least academically. They'll likely stay there until January.

I'll also get a nice little sprint triathlon on Dec. 9th at White Sands. This is actually the start of the 2007 Southwest Challenge Series. A great way to celebrate the end of a semester, the first half of my work year, and after the triathlon, I get my award for 2nd place, Athena division, for the 2006 season.

Then I come back and spend the next two days reviewing for semester exams and then giving semester exams, grading them and, unfortunately, making a few phone calls.

After finals, I'll spend two weeks swimming and running nearly every day, hanging out with Sweet Baboo in bookstores where we'll read and drink lattes. We'll watch lots of movies at home and at the theater. Give each other presents. Have pumpkin pie. By the time January rolls around, I'll be rarin' to go back to work, thinking, "I can't imagine doing anything else. Bring it on."

That will last me until spring break.

...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sunday Long Runs


If you waved and attempted to be friendly on the Bosque trail this morning, I wasn't being a super introvert.

I was really very focused on finding a tree or bush or ANYTHING, and I had finally found a place that was private, and was on my way there.

This was a good run! it was good in the sense that I kept my mile pace at just above a 14 minute mile, although I wish it were faster. As well, I didn't run out of fluid or gel, and was just about worn out when I was done. So, I felt I did my best. I was a little bummed, because I thought the run was 19 miles, but it was only just over 18. (There's something I never would have said two years ago: "It was only 18 miles". Heh.

18.1 miles --> 4:20:07

My goal--and I think it's safe for me to forumulate one now, at this point--is to finish the AZ Rock-n-Rool marathon in under 6 hours, but I don't know how practical that is. My ultimate goal would be to finish it before they run out of medals. And, of course, avoid hypothermia and the medical tent. Yeah. That would be cool.

I carried about 60 ounces of Nuun with me today, and some gel. I think I may switch to Clif Bloks because I can carry them in my cheek and get this continuous slow release of energy without having to fuss with a gel flask or get my gloves all sticky.

After I got back and had my weekly reward (soy gingerbread spice latte at starbucks). On a non-related note, I'm horrified to share with you some nutritional information about Starbucks scones.

You see, each Saturday I would eat one of these delectable delights while sipping coffee with the rest of our workout group, pretty sure it was vegan (Well, all my scone recipes are vegan, but then again, duh, all my cookbooks are, too) but I was at least certain that it was a fairly reasonable post-workout snack.

So here I am, feeling virtuous that I'm eating a relatively healthy treat, until Sweet Baboo gives me the news: The average Starbuck scone ranges from 440 to 500 calories, with 40-50 grams of cholesterol.

To put this in perspective: Not only is a Starbucks scone as high in calories as a QuarterPounder with cheese, but it has as much cholesterol as a sausage McMuffin. Which means, of course, that it has milk and/or eggs in it.

CRAP.

So, anyway...upon arriving home, Sweet Baboo had me sit in an a tub of icy cold water - supposed to be really good for your legs and recovery - but all I could do was kneel in that water.

No matter how much time went by, I could not bring myself to lower my big butt into that icy cold water.

My legs feel better, though.

In any case, I now officially get the spend the rest flat on my back with the flannel sheets, watching "Robots" and eating greasy popcorn. So there.

Next week's LSR: the big 2-0.

...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

2007 Goals.

For the 2007 season, I want to be faster. My 2006 goal was to finish a lot of different events, but now, I'd like to get it done before the volunteers, photographers, and my friends have all gone home.

I won 2nd place in the Athena division for the Southwest Challenge Series for 2006, mainly because I'm slow, but tenacious. (Helen, the champion, is tenacious and fast, which is why she, Helen, is Champion and I'm in second place.)

I'm very excited about the 2007 season for two reasons.

First, I think I figured out that for the past year and a half, I've been running completely wrong.

I thought I was running right. Whenever I would ask Sweet Baboo (who, I'm convinced, straps on a jetpack when nobody is looking; his "slow and easy" training runs are the 8 minute range and he's 6'2" and 215 lbs!) he would say, "your legs need to go out behind you" I tried that, sort of. I think I tried it without bending my knees, just kind of kicking my legs straight back.

I felt completely retarded.


I read stuff about proper running form, and that I needed to make sure that my feet hit the ground below my body. The only way I could figure that out was to stretch out my legs and leap forward so that I landed on my feet, with them right below my body.

That just hurt my knees, and boy, I just wasn't getting any faster.

But at the Turkey trek halfway point, for whatever reason, I started running differently. The only way I can describe it is that I started concentrating my effort on my hams pulling my heels up behind me instead of pushing my toes out ahead of me. It felt a little strange at first, but then, suddenly, I started speeding up, and was actually pulling ahead of people. (People who were running, not walking.)

WoW! I tried it again today, and my "slow easy" run was around 45 seconds faster per mile.

Woo-hoo! maybe I can make my age-grouper debut at the Polar Bear a memorable one. Don't know if I'll be calling people out to half irons, like Nytro does, but I do have this fantasy...

I'll share it with you...

In my fantasy, I'm soooo fast that people say, in hushed voices, "Gee, I'm glad she isn't in my age group!" I get to the finish line and there's still a photographer there to take my picture. There's even some post-race food left. I get to cheer some of my friends to the finish for a change. I even cheer Sweet Baboo in (yeah, right.)

Hey, it's my fantasy. Don't mock me.

Second, I figured out that I'm not getting enough protein. I've been getting enough protein for someone who isn't training and doing endurance events, about 30-40 grams a day, but I've read estimates of protein requirements that range from 0.5 to 0.75 grams per pound of bodyweight for endurance athletes. That means for me, at 153 pounds, I need between 77 and 114 grams a day. I'll make a safe estimate of around 90.

So starting this week, each day, I throw a cup of ice, a cup of soymilk, a quarter cup of isolated soy protein powder, a banana and an orange into a blender, and half of it goes into the tummy and half of it into the fridge for my breakfast the next day. This gives me an additional 55 grams of protein each day above what I was already getting.

I'll be my own guinea pig. Time will tell what my self-imposed experiment will do.

...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Nutrition, part 3: What I know about carbs.

What I'm going to share that I know about carbs really is applicable to endurance events. When I speak about those, I'm talking about events that last longer than 2 or 3 hours.

First, you should only eat solid food no less than 3 hours before the event begins.
I've read this in so many sources that I can't even count, including peer-reviewed journals, elite professionals, and sports publications. After your pre-race meal, all nutrition should be in liquid form. There are several reasons which I'll get to as I blather on about this.

Some researchers believe you should probably not have ANY carbs within an hour of the race. There's a lot of information to support the idea that carbs taken within and hour or so right before a heavy event can have negative effects on performance, including a rapid rise in blood sugar, which releases too much insulin, process the sugar super fast, and can cause a sugar crash. It can also interfere with how your body burns its fat for fuel. I used to grab a gel right before hitting the water. I wonder if this is why on occasion, my swim sucked so much. This might be something you have to experiment with.

How much you need.
When we're at rest, we usually have enough carbs stored and available to fuel up to 3 hrs of exercise. All this is stored in the blood, muscle, and liver. When you eat your pre race meal, which again should be at least 3 hours prior to the race, it should have about 75-100 grams of carbohydrates. After this, endurance athletes need 40 to 75 grams of carbohydrate per hour, depending on who you ask, (one estimate I found was 1.2 – 1.5 grams of protein per kilograms of weight; divide your weight by 2.2 and then multiply by 1.3 to get a good estimate).

How much you need also depends on how hard you're working, your body size, level of fitness, et cetera, and it also depends on what you're doing. That last part is really important when planning for a long course triathlon. For instance, cyclists can drink lots of liquids, while runners might not be able to handle that much fluid.

If your event lasts longer than 2 hours your carbs should be be in liquid and semi-solid forms, especially for running. Some racers can tolerate solids when cycling, but if you do, you should stop eating solids three hours before beginning the run.

What form carbs need to be in.
For the best, fastest and most effient use of nutrients, with less chance of stomach distress, liquids are best. Getting your carbs in liquid form is best for absorption, rehydration and it means you get a steady flow of sugars than you would in solid form. It's also the easiest and most convenient way to get a calorie and nutrient dense fuel.

Solid food can't beat liquid food supplements. When you eat too much solid food, your body has to re-route the energy and blood that your hard-working muscles need to digest the food. This taxes your body and can result in a feeling of bloating and/or nausea.

What to eat.
When carbs are absorbed, your body converts some of it to stored fuel for your muscles (glycogen) and some for immediate use for your muscles (glucose). Most of the sugars we eat are simple sugars, and they're either short-chain or long-chain molecules.

Short chained molecules are "simple" sugars. They include sucrose (table sugar and corn syrup), fructose (fruit sugars and honey), glucose, and/or dextrose. You'd think they would be best, since "simple" sounds like something that would be easier for our bodies to break down, wouldn't you?

But, no, it doesn't work that way. The shorter the chain length a carbohydrate source the harder it is for your body to absorb it. This is because it have the right chemistry to match up with your stomach has in it. So, when you eat these simple sugars, even if they're in the right concentration to give you the calories you need each hour, they usually sit in your stomach undigested, causing stomach upset.

In order to be absorbed better, they have to be diluted a whole bunch by water, BUT, if they're dilluted, then they don't give you enough carbs for the fuel that you need.

So, you look to longer chained carbs, called "complex sugars" are absorbed better. They include starchs and other sugars, such as the famed "maltodextrin." These are so well absorbed that you can even make a super high concentration of carbs in a fluid and still be able to absorb it well. Now, you might have a problem with maltodextrin if you're really sensitive to corn products, because although it can be made from any starch, most of it in the US is made from corn.

To complicate matters, signs and symptoms of hyponutremia, electrolyte imbalance, and carb problems can all include nausea, dizziness, and vomiting, so it's really important to experiment in training and under similar conditions to what you'll experience on the course.

So, in summary: liquid fuel that includes long-chain carbs, or sports gels, making sure you can drink enough to stay hydrated and get the amount of carbs you need per hour. (don't forget electrolytes, either)

To summarize this in a personalized fashion (including what I've learned about hydration and electrolyte in my previous posts), here's the worst mistakes I made this year, using my two half irons as an example:

When I did the Olahoma Redman, I drank a few bottles of electrolyte fluid on the bike, but not nearly enough to keep me hydrated. Certainly not enough to overcome the fluid loss on the swim, nor the fact that it was really windy out.
On the bike, I ate some shot blocks, but probably nowhere near what I needed to continue to fuel my carb needs.
When I got to the run, I'd been racing for nearly 6 hours. On the run, I ate two gels. That's it. Now at this point I was not only really dehydrated, I was running out of fuel. When your fuel load gets really low, one of the things that can happen, according to the Lore of Running, is that your brain tries to protect itself (brains use a lot of fuel) by making you want to quit. I basically stumbled drukenly to the finish line, with a body temp of 95.6 and was in the med tent with an IV in my arm pretty soon after.

At Soma, I did things differently. I did have a gel before I started, along with a bunch of water. On the bike, I drank several bottles of hydration fluid (Perpetuum) made of electrolytes and maltodextrin. I drank it continuously. When I ran out, I drank bottles of water, and for every bottle of water I took a gel and an electrolyte cap.
On the run, I sipped gel and about a cup of water every mile, and took some electrolytes ever hour or so. If my stomach started feeling sloshy, I lowered my intake of water just a bit, and when I started to feel nauseated (my body likes to get nauseated when it has too much sugar in it) I skipped one of my sips of gel.

I finished Soma a little over an hour earlier and in much better shape than I did the Redman.

So that's what I know about carbs. Again, I want to stress the importance of testing these principals in training more than once, using similiar conditions as you expect on race day.

good luck, and have a great race!

...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The year of FIRSTS.

I'm very excited about how 2006 is wrapping up.

It was the year I did my very first Olympic distance triathlon, my very first Half-iron triathlon, and got a run split down to 10 minute/mile.

But all this pales in comparison to what I accomplished today.

Today,



for the first time in my life...


(music swells)


I made...



(light slowly brightens, music swells louder, a female voice sings high and magestic above the chorus...)


I made a pie crust.


Hey, DON'T LAUGH AT ME; this is HUGE.

I've put off doing this all my life. Every year I SAID I would make one. I said, "this is it. this is the year." Then, I would chicken out, head to Whole Foods, and buy one.

It's also the first year that I made our holiday roast.
A squash stuffed with wild rice to me is just not Thanksgiving. I want something with stuffing, something juicy and sort of meaty. But vegetarian roasts are insanely expensive for what you get (a tiny lump of roast to feed a Clydesdale, and athena, and 5'10", 170-pound growing 15-year-old Mini-me.)
Like the pie crusts, I've said every year that I would make one. But this year, I made one, after, again promising each year that I would and then crapping out to go to whole foods. For non-Vegans, this is again HUGE, a lot like doing your very first Turkey, all by yourself. I made the Yuba and everything. The recipe comes from the Seitan and Gluten cookbook I have, but it's a lot like the recipe here.

So why all this efficacy all of the sudden? could it be from triathlon and the related, "gee, I wonder what else I can do?" Maybe. Maybe I'll start doing all those others things I've been putting off forever, like my master's paper and my level III teaching endorsement dossier.

or maybe not.

Anyhoo, this morning, we all (three of us) got up and did the local Turkey Trek. At the treak I ran into fellow outlaws Pirate and Her People. Her People did the .4K - they are too cute to be believed. Pirate showed me her new toy, the Ipod shuffle., and I got to experience techno/athletic toy lust.

I. Want. One.

I did about an 11:00 mile at the Trek, not bad considering the first half is completely uphill. It was a nice way to start off the day of gluttony. All procedes go to a local food bank. And, another first - I was in the middle of the pack instead of the back. (thanks to all the walkers and strollers that showed up to make that happen). Mini-me kicked my butt and beat both Sweet Baboo and I.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

...


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Nutrition & Hydration Part 2: Electrolytes, the other white metals

Most of what I'm writing about these days many of you might already know, but I want to go ahead and put it down because I read, and read, and read, and, hey, maybe I can share some information with someone who doesn't already have it. it's the Geek teacher in me, I guess.

I've spent a lot of time not only studying sports nutrition on my own, but also nutrition in generally because I'm soley responsible for the nutrition of three big-boned endurance athletes in our household.

First off, muscles can only contract in the presense of calcium, potassium and sodium. That isn't just important for your legs, but as well for the biggest and most important muscle, your heart.

Second, did you know that for each liter (about two pints - see my earlier post on hydration) of sweat you lose, you lose a whole BUNCH of electrolytes? Here's some numbers for you (Lower numbers are based on a research report; higher numbers are based on information I received from Gatorade.)
Per liter of sweat lost:
800 - 1500 mg of Sodium
200 - 390 mg of Potassium
20 - 120 mg of Calcium
5 - 48 mg of Magnsesium

Obviously, this may depend on a lot of factors. For instance, I don't sweat much, and when I do, it's not very salty. Sweet Baboo, on the other hand, actually gets crystals of salt right on his face when he sweats.

It's really the most amazing thing. A regular crystal garden grows, right there on his face.

Sodium and Potassium. But back to endurance nutrition during races. Potassium and Sodium are pretty important to have while racing, because if you don't replace them and then drink a whole slew of water, you can get cramps at best, and hyponatremia at worst. I've never had muscle cramps before, and not because I'm some sort of electrolyte Goddess, either. Nope, I figure that I haven't had them because I'm either 1) lucky, or 2) I don't really go all that hard.

Probably the latter.

Sodium you can get from salt. Potassium is something that can mess with your heart rythem (I always spell that wrong. It will do you no good to correct me.) so you don't want to mess with it. Foods with high sources of potassium include OJ, potatoes, and bananas, among others. Now you know why you see so many oranges, bananas, and potatoes at races. They are endurance superfoods.

Calcium. Did you know that after about age 30 your body slows WAYYYY down in storing calcium in your bone? Whenever it needs some to do stuff, it goes and gets it from--you guessed it--your bones. Then, like a spoiled child, it doesn't put it back when it's done, so you actually go into a net negative amount as you age. Your body also takes it to stablize the pH of your blood when it's too acidic, but I don't know as much as about that as I'd like to, so I won't comment on it much further.

It's been estimated that nearly 1/3 of adults have lower bone mass, called osteopena. Most don't know it unless it developes further into osteoporosis, which can cause bones to break just by falling down, OR they start engaging in activites that put undo stress on their frame, and start developing stress fractures. So, if you're involved in endurance sports, you've got more than a couple reasons to get your daily Calcium (and vitamin D). There's also calcium in dairy products, too, but be careful: there's cholesterol in them as well, even the fat-free ones.

Now here's what I know from being a degreed rock hound: Calcium, in mineral form, is one of the most abundant minerals in the earth's crust. Calcium doesn't "expire" - none of the metals (sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron) do. If you can get a deal and get them for half price because they've "expired," go ahead and grab 'em, so long as they haven't been exposed to moisture.

As well, there is an increasing number of drinks fortified with calcium in it, like OJ (which also gives you potassium!) It's absorbed even better along with vitamin C, so try to take it with vitamin C. Calcium can interfer with iron absorption, so if you use supplements, take them seperately. Iron is important because it transports oxygen in your blood (you blood is red because, basically, it's "rusty") so you don't want to get low on iron.

Magnesium. Not really an electrolyte, but essential nonetheless. Problems associated with low magnesium include anxiety disorders, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis.

In any case, you want to make sure you replenish those. In workouts lasting less than an hour or so (none of my races qualifies) you probably don't need to worry so much during the race, but replenish afterwards.

So check those labels. Make sure that your hydration includes a bit of all four of those metal ions we call electrolytes. (Shameless advertising, I admit. Since I got 3rd place in the contest, I get a free months' supply, but I was already using it anyway.)

On Friday, after I've spent a day stuffing myself silly, I'll write about what I know about carbs. Have a great Turkey Trek/Trot, and have a great Thanksgiving!!

...

Another slice of dead bird, mom?

I did 1000 meters of the slowest swimming I think I've ever done in my life. EVAR. Then I went and bought the cheesecloth to make my holiday roast. Today is day 1 of the cooking madness that is Thanksgiving, and I'm cranky.

Number one son called and said he's not coming up from Ft. Huachuca after all. Didn't get his pass request in on time. Number two son is all bummed out now. like teenagers need a reason.

Ever wonder what vegans eat at Thanksgiving? Well, among other things I'm cooking today (Lots of strange, exotic things) is this weird pie that I make out of a large squash that Sweet Baboo grew in the back yard. It's called - get ready for this - pumpkin pie. We also eat strange, other-worldly things like green bean casserole, corn pudding, sweet potatoes, and a stuffed holiday roast.

We just wont' be eating the mascot.

No carcasses on my table, nosiree!

Sorry. I really get cranky when I cook all day. >:-( For any omnivores still reading this, you might think that my anti-turkey stance is all about the one that traumatized me as a child. It's not.

The following may not make sense if you're not Vegan...

First off, I'd like to give a shout-out to some of my vegan peeps out there: Jennifershmoo, Susan V, Josh L., Speed Vegan, and Veg*Triathlete. Tomorrow many of you will be under some sort of scrutiny regarding your diet.

Be strong. It's only one day.

E.g., "OH, sweetie, can't you have some Turkey (or ham)? Just this once? I/grandma/we spent all day cooking it....you don't want to make me/grandma/us feel bad, do you?"

Yep, the old guilt trip. It's coming

I'm desperately trying to make my first batch of Yuba, to wrap around my first ever home-made rolled stuffed seitan holiday roast. Jeez, the ones at the store and $ and there's NO LEFTOVERS. Hey, does anyone know how to simplify this process? Making Yuba, I mean. Yikes. You won't believe how much soymilk I've used so far. If you do, email me! It's all sticky and won't hang in nice sheets.

...

Store clerks and cheesecloth.

This isn't about nutrition or anything like that, it's just a general it's-almost-Thanksgiving-and-Mom's-gone-insane kind of rant. Store clerks are also part of this.

What the hell is the deal with cheesecloth?

About a year or so ago, I was cleaning out my pantry, and I came across a package of cheesecloth. My mom had always kept some in her pantry, so I kept some in mine, and the unopened package had been in there forever. I couldn't fathom why I would ever actually use it, aside from making cheesecloth ghosts, so I tossed it.

Now, of course, I come across recipes about every week that require it, and I can't ever seem to find it, so I usually abandon the idea of making the thing.

The latest one is one that I really want to make, so I headed to the local Sprawl mart to get it. I wondered up and down the baking isle until I found a clerk, and asked him where I might find it.

He stared at me blankly, and then every thing he said after that was punctuated with a question mark. "What is 'cheesecloth'"?

"It's um, well, it's really loosely woven fabric. I think they used to make cheese with it, but now it's used in cooking. Baking."

"Maybe it's in the baking area?"

Together we stared at the baking area, which I had already checked, and found that indeed, in the last 2 minutes, nobody had put any cheese cloth there.

"Maybe it's in the cheese area?"

Sigh.

I went to work and asked the home ec teacher and she said, "Oh, honey, you have to get that where they keep the paints."

Oh, of course! The paints! Why didn't I think of that? Silly me.

%&()@)$!

So, tomorrow, I'm headed to 1) The gym for a swim, 2) hardware store, to get cheese cloth and, while I'm at it, the last part of the project that is Sweet Baboo's Christmas present, and 3) Sunflower Market, to find out how much per pound the soy protein powder is since I can't find my receipt. I tried calling to ask how much it was, and was told, "well don't sell that here."

"Yes, yes you do, I just bought some yesterday."

"Oh, really? hey, do you remember how much it was?"

Sigh.

then, I'm headed home to begin preparing the holiday feast. My oldest son is coming home from the Army to spend thanksgiving with us. I haven't seen him in almost 2 years. My youngest son is wildly excited, as he has grown nearly a foot since then and is intent on challenging Oldest son to all manner of athletic contests. Number 1 son can't leave the base until 5 am and is taking a bus, so we actually won't have our Thanksgiving until Friday.

after I'm done with today's craziness, then I'll be posting part II of my nutrition compendium. part 2 will be on electrolytes.

...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Food, er, water for thought for multisport

I've been giving some more thought to hydration issues as of late. I had such a bad experience at the Redman, and a much better experience at Soma.

I've tested various things out in training, but you never know what doing the swim, bike, and run will do to compound any minor issues. As well, I've gotten increasingly interested in ultrarunning (Yeah, I know. Insane. )

so these are the things that occupy my thoughts these days. When sometime occupies my thoughts, I study the hell out of it. So, I've been reading and studying.

I've also been noticing. I've noticed that if I get dehydrated--and it doesn't take much, just a couple percentage points loss of weight--I get cranky and headachy, my legs ache, and I feel a little nauseated. I never used to notice these things. It's like I'm hypervigilant of anything that affect performance.

Did you know that you lose up to two cups of fluid while swimming? Holy crap! you flounder in the water for an hour or two on a long course, and you come out already a pint or two behind.

Problem is, you don't even know it. Something about hydrostatic equilibrium pushing your blood volume around, so that you don't feel thirsty, or something like that. So for a long course, if you're as slow a swimmer as I am, by the time you hit the bike, you're already a pint or two low.

Then you hit the bike, where you can lose up to quart of fluid per hour. Obviously, there's some wiggle room in there for individual variation and weather conditions. Here in the Southwest, where most of my races are in west Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, I go ahead and err on the overly-hydrated side. Currently, I've got a profile design aerobottle, but for IM-Loo (I like that nickname) I've got my eye on this duel-drink thingy from Podium.

Now, here's my challenge. If I drink too much when I run, then I cramp up. Seriously. I get side cramps and then I whine like a baby and slow to a shuffle even slower than my usual. So, I have to make sure that by the time I hit the run, I'm already well-hydrated, so that I can just top off every mile or so by sipping a few ounces each mile.

For my long runs, I got a hydration vest. Actually, Sweet Baboo discovered it and got one for each of us. I don't like holding things when I run, and for long runs I'd rather not have anything around my waist. It holds about a liter and a half of fluid (around 3 pints of fluid) in a resevoir, has a space for a 20 ounce bottle, gel pockets and pockets for ancillary items as well.

...next up: comments on nutrition.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday LR

Today's Objective: unsupported long run of 16.8 miles (the route that Sweet Baboo has mapped out for me), which is longer than I've ever run in my whole sad, couch-potato life. In particular, I have to take everything along with me, since there's no source of anything along the route. Not even bathrooms.

The weather: 38 degrees in the valley, warming to 55 during the run.

The strategy: Bring my own stuff, and alternate 10 minutes running with 5 minutes walking. During each walk, take one shot of gel from a flask and 3 mouthfuls of hydration.

The stuff:

Results:
Success. I got a little tired toward the end, as this run was a tiny bit longer than I'd anticipated, but I never got thirsty, and I never bonked, and my weight stayed the same. My feet don't hurt, but my left hammy aches a tiny bit. I did it in 3:50. Afterward, I was famished! I had a large iced tea lemonaid, large protein smoothie, bowl of potatoes, and some vegan sausages.

Next week: 18 or 19 miles. I may be trying homemade energy gel from Ellie's recipe. There's also this recipe, this recipe, or this recipe. I'll keep you posted.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Be true to who (and what) you are.

If you've gotten a comment on your blog lately from "Geek Girl," by the way, that's me. I've changed my blogger name. I never did like "Double Barreled," (sorry Michael) and decided to go back to my college nickname.

I got this nickname because after my divorce I was living in a town of 200 people in rurual South Dakota. At that time, my friends and I would say, over pizza and beer, "I wish I could go back to school," but I was the one that actually did it.

As well, I announced to my friends (after my divorce) that I would only date men who were at least as educated as I was. They kept trying to set me up with friends of theirs who were, I can only delicately say, quite rural, and somewhat uninformed.

I learned from more than one failed relationship that one gets tired of hearing, during every argument, "Okay for you, Miss Smarty-smart. Miss college girl. You think you're so smart, don't you, Miss college girl?"

In any case, whenever my friends and I were out drinking, a serious, studious looking man would walk by, and my friends would say, "Hey, Geek Girl, there goes your Geek Guy!" and the name stuck.

Nicknames are funny things.

It didn't help that I partially paid my way through by teaching people how to use computers and setting up their new computers for them. Now I teach math, science, and statistics.

I don't teach computers, because I can't stand all the whining. Not from the kids, from the adults. (I've been coding in raw HTML since around 1995, and while it's true that I occasionally peruse lists of osbscue utilities to use on my computer AND I frequently work in COMMAND mode (formerly known as DOS) that fact is that when I hear someone, anyone, start to mutter or complain bitterly about the computer they are using at that moment, I start looking around for a window through which to escape.)

But I digress.

I'm nearsighted, but I can't wear contacts; so I wear heavy-framed glasses. I take them off when I do my evening Sudoku puzzles, and I have a bad habit of muttering things while listening to research findings such as, "well, that may be true, but I would like to see the data," or, "how did they operationalize their variables?"

I may celebrate the whole thing by putting a plastic pocket protector in the gel pocket of my new skinsuit.

I'm proud to be me.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

An honor just to be nominated.

I was stunned and gratified earlier this week when I got the email at work from Sweet Baboo that I was nominated as one of the top 10 tri blogs for 2006. I didn't say anything about this earlier because I didn't want to shamelessly plug myself in the voting, but the contest is over and soon, I'll find out if I won some free Nuun products. Yay!

I started this whole thing in 2005, about 40 pounds ago when I made the decision to try to be healthier, and thought that perhaps I could share what I've learned/am learning with others along the way.

I'd like to say thank you not only to the people who voted for me, but for those of you who leave me all the encouraging comments and helpful suggestions from time to time. You guys ROCK!

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Gear review. Sorta. (RUNeRVALS)

Well, it's not really gear, but it did save me from myself and my apalling laziness.

Unlike Nytro, I don't hate running but I do still suffer the vestiges of a former life of sloth. It's pretty difficult to get my butt out from between the lovely flannel sheets that Sweet Baboo put on the bed yesterday.
Mmmmm. Flannel.

Anyway, this morning I got up and it was 34 degrees out. And, it was dark as pitch.

A warm, flannel-sheeted bed is much nicer than a dark, windy cold morning. And, as I am the Queen of She Who Would Rather Be in Bed on any given day, this was not good.

Not good at all.

Dark? I'll do it!

Cold? I'll do it!

Dark and cold? No way. Turn the light off, go away, and leave me alone. Oh, and have a nice run.

Normally I would just sit in bed and perseverate on how dark and/or cold it is outside, and promise myself that I will do my workout AFTER work (yeah, right.)

OR I would do my very favorite procrastination activity: pfutzing around, looking productive while I searched for this or that piece of equipment that I must have before I can start running, until, lo and behold! it's just too late to go running, and well, gosh, now I have to shower and get ready for work...

But not today. I have to get ready and training for that marathon on January. My visit to the medical tent at the Redman is still fresh in my mind, and I don't want a repeat of that in any other venue. Ever.

So, after staring out at the black, cold morning I finally decided I had to something, anything, or Rock-n-Roll Arizona is going to KICK MY ASS.

About a month ago Sweet Baboo picked up these Run-e-rvals DVD's at High Desert Bikes. They had ordered them by mistake and gave him a pretty good deal. We've tried the Spin-e-rvals DVD's before and like them.

I hit the treadmill and put in the first one, "Easy Intervals". It was 35 minutes long, and it was a hell of a workout. First, you start out at a brisk walk, and then raise your speed to YOUR base running pace. It takes you throught several intervals in which you work your way up 3 mph over your base pace. The next set take you up to 3% incline while running your base pace. Finally, the last set takes you up to 3 mph over your base pace AND 3% over your regular grade.

As you can probably figure, you can continue to use this even as you progress, because you start out at YOUR base pace and incline, and then take it to intervals over that. Between each interval, you run back at your base pace again.

In the end, I was dripping sweat on the treadmill, breathing heavily, both windows were open and the fans were a-blowin'. Sweet Baboo, who normally likes his room temp around 50 deg. F, started shutting windows.

But I felt great! Since it was only 35 minutes long, I went ahead and continued after it was over and ran at just over my base pace for another couple miles before climbing down and getting ready for work.

Hey, if you've got a treadmill and aDVD player, get this DVD. It's awesome. I'm not so disciplined that I can do intervals on my own without coaching, anc coach Troy is pretty cool. Maybe these will speed me up a bit, too, so that I can be "tales from the middle of the pack".

Pretty soon I'll try the other one we have, "Up, up, up! the Hill climber!" It's 55 minutes, so it's going to be a hell of a workout.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Thinking positive thoughts.

Today I leapt back into marathon training, in earnest. As with any long run, it's a time when my thoughts flow freely from one subject to the next. Today, I was thinking about people that piss me off.

Then I started thinking about reframing things; in teaching, we try to "catch" children doing something good, so that we can encourage good behavior instead of only paying attention to the bad behavior.

With that in mind, I'd like to thank anyone and everyone who did any of the following this week. Give yourself a pat on the back if you did any of these:

  • Thank you for using the proper container to throw away your waste.
  • Thank you for staying to the right, and passing on the left, whether you did it on the highway, in triathlon, or in a hallway.
  • Thank you for cleaning up after your dog. Or your horse. Or your child.
  • Thank you for bringing a leash. And using it.
  • Thank you for parking your large vehicle in an appropriate spot, instead of one that says "compact car."
  • Thank you for telling me I looked great when you passed me in the race.
  • Thank you for staying and cheering on the other finishers.
  • Thank you for fixing that hole in your muffler.
  • Thank you for taking the baby out of the theater when he got hungry and started crying.
  • Thank you for stopping and asking me if I was okay when I tripped and fell on my face today on the Montano bridge.
  • Thank you for holding the door open for someone else.
  • Thank you for offering someone your seat.
  • Thank you for volunteering.
  • Thank you for smiling at me, and telling me to have a nice day.
  • Thank you for for thanking the volunteers, instead of yelling at them.
  • Thank you for asking that cyclist if they needed help changing their tire.
  • Thank you for letting that other car in front of you in traffic.
  • Thank you for postphoning your phone call when you were in public.
  • Thank you for thinking of others instead of your 'rights'.
  • Thank you for stepping away from the doors with your cigarettes, so others didn't have to walk through a cloud of smoke.
  • Thank you for repeating yourself to someone who couldn't hear well, instead of saying, "oh, never mind."
  • Thank you for telling me I looked nice.
  • Thank you for trying to make someone's day brighter.
  • Thank you for trying to make someone's life easier.
  • Thank you for trying to be healthier.
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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Witty Kitty loves my knees.

Have I ever told you about Witty Kitty?

Witty Kitty really loves muscle rub.

I mean, (and let me be crystal clear in what I mean)

WITTY. LOOOOOOOOOVES. MUSCLE RUB.

whenever I put any sort of muscle rub - it doesn't matter what kind - on my knees, as I did today after doing strides for 2 miles - she goes crazy for my knees.

She rubs her face on them, she licks them, and if I get up and walk around the house, she trots along behind me until I settle down some place, and then she goes back to making out with my knees.

If I put on extra-strength Ben-Gay, she really goes ape. Don't know why.

Just thought I'd share. I was a good girl; I did 22 miles of running this week, and I have the cat hair all over my knees to prove it.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

A slave to the scale.


For those of you with the Y chromosomes who may not be in the know, I'm going to share a couple of secrets about the female sex that may cost me my PMS priveleges.

Today's post is brought to you courtesy of the bathroom SCALE, which I'm convinced is demon-posessed. That damned scale. I might merely consider it just wildly inaccurate, if it weren't for the fact that its readings matches the scales at the gym and the doctor's office.

Every day, like a lamb to the slaughter, I'm drawn to it. I drift over to the scale (right when I get up, and after I've peed, of course) to see what news it has in store for me. Yesterday I got on the scale and it read 151, and it was a good day. It had been creeping down slowly since the post-Soma Bloat subsided. I felt good. I felt sassy. Woo-hoo! 151 pounds!

I went for a short run, then went to work. I ate normally. I drank normally. I lived normally.

Then, today, it read 156.5. CRAP!

Why I suddenly shot up nearly six pounds isn't nearly as interesting to me as does the answer to the question, WHY does this BOTHER ME SO MUCH ?

After packing away my size 14's - 18's to donate to Goodwill, what I have left is a myriad of mainly sized 12's and some fat day clothes. "Fat day clothes", for those of you with y-chromosomes, are those items with loose and forgiving waistbands, and/or dark colors, which are "slimming," and/or they may be something we happened to be wearing one day and more than one person remarked about how nice we looked. That outfit then becomes the "wear-this-when-I-feel-fat-and/or-hideous-outfit." They are never form-fitting. They never, ever, ever have horizontal stripes.

I know, on a rational, intellectual level, that my weight is appropriate for my height, and I think that five pounds is about the same weigh as a 32-ounce bottle of Cytomax. I know this. I also know that I'm healthier than most other 40-somethings out there. I've done two half irons, dammit! You would think that I would be all down with my bad self, full of self confidence and efficacy. I further acknowledge that the images portrayed by the modeling and fashion industry are freakishly disporportionate, given that wearing a size 12 allows them to categorize me as, "plus-sized". I know its unreasonable.

Despite knowing this, as I told a friend yesterday, I've often found myself dreaming wistfully about being described as "willowy".

Usually, however, I'm described as "sturdy," or the dreaded, "stocky"

As in, "She'll be useful around the farm. She's from sturdy stock."

Just what every woman wants.

Our social system has done a real number on me, so that even when I dress in coordinated clothes that are draped appropriately about my frame, the image that stares back at me is Jabba the Hut. It doesn't matter if I just completed a half iron-man or half of a package of bakes Lays, I'm bombarded with message on daily basis: "Skinny=good. Not skinny=bad". "Have a big mac. Drink it down with some slimfast." "Love the skin you're in. Just make sure it's covering a size 2 frame." "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful" (and I'm paid for it, and you're not)

None of this has ever had enough affect to give me an eating disorder, just enough to make me feel bad about myself.

I don't know if I'm unusual in this regard, as in, "body dismorphic disorder" or if this is something that lots of women experience and just don't talk about. I think, at times, that Sweet Baboo worries that I'm unsually unhappy about my appearance. I wonder if that's the case?

This isn't some attempt to get comments on how I shouldn't worry about how I look. I'm genuinely curious as to whether I have some kind of body dysmorphic disorder or if this is a common phenomenon.

Comments, ladies? (Or guys?)

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Back to training, another new goal.

It's been almost two weeks since Soma, and I'm surprised at how slow my recovery was.

First, I had to wait for the usual swelling to go down (no matter how often Sweet Baboo reminds me that it will happen, and no matter how many times it does happen, it's still disconcerting to basically run my butt off for nearly 8 hours and then immediately GAIN six pounds, after particularly grueling endurance events).

Second, it took over a week before my legs didn't feel oh, so tired.

Last week was kind of a bummer week - I had all this free time, as it was recovery week, and wasn't quite sure what to do with it. It was nice not to get up early and run every day, but on the other hand, it felt unnatural.

At work, it was back to business as usual. It always seems so quiet and weird after a major event. There are no more acalades at work. The other teachers, as well as my 8th-graders, are used to the whole endurance events thing, and are no longer impressed. They have accepted that I am completely insane, but as long as I teach and don't scare the kids, they don't care.

My next event is going to be the Polar Bear sprint triathlon at WSMR the first week of December. This is the first triathlon of the 2007 Southwest Challenge Series, and I'm signing up as an age-grouper.

That's right. age. grouper.

Now that the post-Soma swelling is gone, I've been consistently around 153 pounds each morning, and I'm just now beginning my marathon training plan. (I'm almost in the "normal" range for my height. woohoo! )

So now, 10 days out from the Soma half IM, I'm just now feeling like I'm back in running form. The first long run I did on Sunday, a week out, was--ugh--slowwwww. My left hamstring was bothering me a little, too. I actually think my new shoes are too tight.

So, it's back to the training grind. I'm into my training plan for my first full marathon in January, the ROCK-N-ROLL ARIZONA. Basically, I'll be running four days every week, gradually increasing up to about 42 miles a week before tapering. Whew.

Sweet Baboo is doing rock-n-Roll with me. The Jonster, the kid formerly known as Mini-me, demanded to be allowed to do the marathon as soon as he heard there were 40 cheerleading squads on the course. Unfortunately, at age 15, he can only do the half-mary, but it will be his first. I checked with his cross country coaches and they both agree that he can safely do this, so it will be a family event.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Seen and obscene around Albq.

Maybe you can figure this out, because we sure haven't.

Note bumper sticker that says, "Silly boys, trucks are for girls."
Note the brass balls hanging on the back of the truck.
Just what is the overall message here???

...

Pessimism

<--My take on the current state of politics.

Scandals.

Dirty politicians.

Negative campaigns.

Ugh.

No matter who wins, as a teacher, I know I'm gonna get screwed.

and so are my students.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Recovery Week

Today when I got up for my first "recovery run" (there's another one of those things I never thought I'd say) it was 28 degrees out, thus violating my it's-too-hot-it's-too-cold comfort zone, so I hopped on the treadmill for my first post-season treadmill run. In all honesty, I get pretty wheezy when it gets that cold out, so I become a mouse on a wheel, including all the curious cats that can't fathom why I'm running so fast to nowhere.

It's actually a pretty sweet deal. Sweet Baboo has arranged an area next to the kitchen, to accommodate my apathy and whining so as to further his goals of never being a widower. He leaves me no excuses (damnit).

There's a treadmill, trainer, weight bench, space for stretching, two windows that provide a cross breeze, ceiling fan, and small TV with a DVD player. Next to the TV are several exercise DVD's, including stretching, spinnervals, runnervals, and aerobics. I'm pretty hard pressed to come up with excuses of why I can't work out, other than, "I don't wanna!"

This morning's out with tired, protesting legs, but they started feeling pretty good after a while. I only did a couple miles.

The nice thing about running on the treadmill right before school is that Mini-me can ask me questions when he needs to. The downside of this is--you guessed it--Mini-me can ask me questions if he needs to. And he does. Copious questions. It's like trying to talk on the phone. Suddenly, there's all these urgent things that must be addressed and answered. Now. Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom?

(Did I mention Mini-me made the JV swim team at his school? I'm immensely proud of him, as any triathlon freak of a parent would be. Also, he was the only under-20 to qualify for the Southwest Challenge Series, thus winning the division for the 2006 season. )

I'm considering my goals and races for the 2007 season. So far, I know I'm going to do the Rock-n-roll Arizona marathon and IM KY. Besides that, I'm tentatively planning the following:

  • the Fiesta de Albuquerque Marathon, in April
  • EITHER the "Run the Caldera" marathon or some 50K race whose name I forget that's north of here
  • the Rio Rancho Duathlon
  • Several Olympics and sprints in the SWCS.
  • Husband and former arch-nemesis-turned-friend Helen and her husband are trying to talk me into some Triathlon festival in Show-Low.
  • Possibly SOMA again. It was a fantastic season-ender.
I just want to say good luck to all the folks that are probalby in or on their way to Florida for IMFL as we speak. Rock on!

...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy World VEGAN day!

I don't usually preach to others. This is one of two days that I will gingerly step onto my soapbox (the other one is annual MEAT out day).

Most of the time I live and let live. After all, if you don't care what you put in your body, why should I? I've even had people tell me, "Gosh, you don't seem vegan, you almost seem, like, normal!"
Then again, think of how many of us triathletes send non-triathletes screaming with our preaching of how much better we feel since you started swimming/biking/running. Well, I have the same types of feelings about my diet. If I influence one person to adopt a planet friendly diet...maybe it's worth the time it took.

Yes, I know meat is yummy. I grew up in a chicken-fried south. I've had the Outback Special. I've had stuff smothered in cheese; I've had crab cakes, veal, frogs legs, escargot...

and yet...

...yet I reached the point where I believe I have no right to cause the death or confinement of a living thing because I like the way it tastes, or because provides some nutrients that can be had by other means. We have evolved, and so should our diet, to one that doesn't cause suffering, pollution, and wasted resources.

Clearly I get the nutrients I need. During my first season as an athlete, I have completed 20 sprint triathlons, 2 Olympic Distance triathlons, 2 half marathons, and 2 half-iron triathlons.

A weak, pasty-faced Vegan I am not.

I also love to cook, and there's plenty to eat; otherwise, I wouldn't need to run to keep from having the largest butt on earth.

Here are some links for you. As well, any of these website will have links to other sources of information about a plant-based diet.

Recipes:
Vegan Lunch Box
Shmooed Food
Vegan Porn
Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
What Do Vegans Eat

Other Vegan athletes:
Vegan Athlete
Organic Athlete
Veg*Triathlete
Speed Vegan
Scott Jurek
Brenden Brazier

The book that started it all, and why I became a vegan
VEGAN: The new ethics of eating (free download, in pdf)

Environmentalism and Veganism: Eating the Earth (free download, in pdf)

Physician's Committe for Responsible Medicine

(Misty, gently stepping off her soapbox, for now.)

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