Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Eating for Success

My roommate and I have both felt a little . . . weighed down, so to speak. Before we moved to Virginia in May, we were both working low-wage jobs where high-calorie food was readily available. I ate a few too many hot dogs and taquitos, and she ate a few too many comped meals (not to mention cheesecake slices). We'd been making much healthier decisions since moving, but we were maintaining weight when we really needed to lose some.

We'd been kicking around the idea of trying a stricter eating routine for a short duration, like six weeks. We decided to take the two months until Thanksgiving to lose as much weight as we can. Primarily, we agreed to swap out a starch at dinner (I normally cook a tried-and-true combo of protein, starch, and vegetable) for a second vegetable, and choose leaner meats. We minimized processed grain options (including breads, crackers, and other flour-based foods), and tried to cut out industrialized foods as much as possible (although Emily does still take Weight Watchers frozen meals to work for lunch, sometimes). We also allow ourselves one "splurge" day per week, every Saturday. Normally, Saturdays involve pizza delivery, diet soda, and beer. There may have been a trip to On the Border, as well.

So far, the plan has been very successful! In the past three weeks, I lost three pounds and Emily lost seven. This past week has represented a departure from the plan, however; I think we're both getting a little burned out. PMS may also play a role. We've decided to have a recovery week every fourth week. We don't eat whatever we want, by any means, but we have eaten more, and we bought a loaf of bread the other night. We'll see if this week undoes what we've accomplished in the past month of hard work.

The biggest challenge for me is in balancing my calorie expenditure with my calorie intake. Especially during the first two weeks, I'd eat about the same number of calories on really heavy workout days (i.e. teaching cycling, lifting weights, and a hilly run) as on easy days (i.e. just teaching yoga). I felt weak and tired and unmotivated for a few days, until I remembered that I have to cut caloric intake in relation to my exercise level. Since then, I've felt fine.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Update on Training

This past year's training bordered on disastrous. I lost three months of prime base building time to sickness and injury. I just barely managed to get in enough training to complete a half iron distance race in September. And that was a bit of a stretch. The last 5 miles of my half marathon were sheer torture, and I questioned whether it might be better to sit down and wait for an ambulance to pick me up.

Still, I got through it, and my training has taken a turn for the better.

I did finish the triathlon season with two or three months of consistent, disciplined training. I've been able to maintain consistent running and cross training since my triathlon season ended at the beginning of September. I'm confident in my ability to prepare my body and mind for an Ironman in 2015.

After Rev3 Cedar Point on September 8, I gave myself two full weeks off. The only exercise I did was teaching cycling, yoga, and water aerobics classes. After those two weeks, I started easing back in to running, with a goal of averaging 15 miles per week for the next month. I planned to do a 5k in October, a 10k in November, and a full marathon (my first!) in March. My plan was to see if I could still run (relatively) fast, gradually build a run base again, and start marathon training at the end of November.

I did a 5k a couple of weekends ago, and surprised myself with my time (27:57, after "running" a 3-hour-plus half marathon at the end of my 70.3). It hurt, in the way that races do, but it's such a short-term pain; 5 minutes after crossing the line feeling like death, I was ready to run another one.

I plan to do a 10k the weekend before Veteran's Day, if I can find one nearby. And I'm signed up for the Shamrock Sports Weekend in Virginia Beach on March 20. I'm excited that the sponsor for the race is Yuengling. I love Yuengling lager. It's like PBR, but from Pennsylvania instead of Wisconsin (PBR is from Wisconsin, right?). That will be my first full marathon. I'm using a basic plan adapted from Run Less, Run Faster, plus a four-week build-up from my current 15 miles per week to 25 miles per week. I'm teaching two cycling classes a week and taking one water aerobics class (with a client) for cross-training. That means I'm basically getting paid to train; I'm practically a professional athlete, here.

I've noticed a lot more soreness and cramping, so I'm also trying to incorporate more weight-lifting, corrective exercise, yoga, and self-myofascial-release. You would think that it wouldn't be so difficult to make myself do these things, considering that I am a personal trainer by trade and spend a good amount of my time at a gym. Alas, it's just as difficult for me to make myself get on a foam roller or a weight bench as it is to get my clients to do it.

So that's what I'll be doing for the next six months. I'm eyeing Ironman Barcelona for 2015. I'll let you know when I pull the trigger and plunk down my 650 Euros!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Spinning Workout S&H6 - Chase & Pursuit

Taught this profile a few weeks back at my 6:00 a.m. Monday spin class. It was hit with the group, and it gave me a good workout, so I thought I'd share! Click the link below to download.

S&H6 - Chase & Pursuit
Nothing at All - Third Day (90 BPM)
Sober - P!nk (91 BPM)
Love the Way You Lie - Eminem (87 BPM)
Fistful of Sand - The Bravery (103 BPM)
Take on Me - A-Ha (168 BPM)
Walk This Way - Aerosmith (104 BPM)
Midnight Show - The Killers (140 BPM)
Acqua 'nfunn a Via - Enzo Avitabile (93 BPM)
Toxic - Brittney Spears (143 BPM)
Even Flow - Pearl Jam (103 BPM)
Feel Good, Inc. - The Gorillaz (144 BPM)
For a Pessimist, I'm Pretty Optimistic - Paramore (206 BPM)
City of New Orleans - Arlo Guthrie (76 BPM)
One Sweet Love - Sara Bareilles (100 BPM)

Spin & Smile!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Race Report: Glory Days Grill XC 5k


I found this race in the local, free running magazine, Run Washington. One of the great things about living in such a dense, metropolitan area is the multitude of resources available to niche groups. One of the downsides is all the people. But I digress.

This 5k is held in Centreville, about a half hour drive from where we live. My roomie, Emily, wanted to do the race with me. Race day goal number one was to wake her up early enough for us to drive to Centreville, pick up our race packets, and warm up (she's not usually an early riser). The day was cloudy, cool, and rainy, which I consider perfect weather for an October XC race.

We got lost trying to find packet pick-up, because I trusted GPS for directions over e-mailed instructions from the race directors. I really need to ween myself off of Google Maps. When we pulled in to park, I realized (thanks to the signs warning that XC meet parking would be $5) that this race is held as part of a larger high school XC invitational. I love watching high school and college XC meets, so I was excited to (almost, kind of) be a part of one.

Packet pick-up included a very nice, day-glo yellow, dry-fit T-shirt and a commemorative race pin. Not bad, although the entry fee was more than I'm used to for a 5k ($35). There were a beautifully excessive number of porta-johns at the race site. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. I made use of them multiple times before, during, and after my warm-up. I'd had a lot of water (and maybe a beer or two) the night before.

During my warm-up, I noticed a stocky, Asian woman about my age. She wore running shorts with a matching singlet, and held herself in a--how do I put this delicately?--gay way. I'm serious. She was clearly a lesbian. I'd found my nemesis (please note that this was because of her age, not her supposed sexual preferences).

We got to line up in the staging area for the race. I bounced around, trying to stay warm, like a happy bunny while Emily stood staring at me sullenly. She still wasn't quite awake. We finally got the call to take our marks, then we were off. I held back in the first 150 meters, letting the faster runners go in front of me. Most of the first quarter mile went downhill, and I enjoyed stretching my legs out. The race was laid out in three loops, each about a mile long. I imagine that's because the high school races are run at different lengths for different groups. The ground was soft, not too muddy, although there were a few sloppy puddles that we all had to run around. There were a few short climbs, and some absolutely brutal long ones. It was a cool course, and I enjoyed it.

I started off at a comfortable pace, and ramped it up through the first lap. I passed a lot of people, including my nemesis, within the first mile. I never saw my nemesis again, either, so I did not choose well in terms of race-long motivation. The second mile took a lot out of me; it was mostly uphill, and some of the hills were quite steep. I made up as much time as possible on the downhills, and I was getting passed now and then. There was a little boy who looked about seven who ran right past me. He stayed within reach the whole time, but the one time I tried to pass him, he put on a little kick and kept me away. What a competitor!

One woman, a short, slight, black woman whom I passed in the first mile, came back to me somewhere around the end of mile 2. She passed me, but I kept her within reach. I passed her back on a long, downhill section, but she was able to stay in touch, too. I gradually ramped up my pace to try and drop her, but she kept with me. Finally, I had given all I could at that faster pace, and I had to pull back. She passed me and ran off. It was great, though! It felt like I was actually racing someone, and she definitely pushed me to run faster than I would have run without her!

I crossed the line in 27:57, and felt like I'd given all that I could. I used this race as a measurement tool. I've done slow, zone 2 running almost exclusively this year. My 10k times in my olympic races have been upwards of an hour, and my half marathon time at Rev3 Cedar Point . . . I don't even want to talk about it. I haven't trained myself for hard, fast running, and I've kind of forgotten how to push myself to that level of pain. So I wanted to get a reading on how fast I could run a short race, at this point.

I exceeded my expectations. I was really hoping to be able to run in the low nines, and I managed to run almost exactly nine-minute-miles at this race, on a challenging course and off-road, no less! I'm very happy with my performance. I won 2nd in my age group (F25-29, taking into account that two of the top three overall women were in my age group), and my time would have placed me well in the 30-something categories, too. The 40-somethings, though, were all 21 minutes in change. I would have been way out of contention if I were 20 years older! Isn't that amazing?

I was really happy with this course, the organization, the race amenities (the pictures they took are amazing, and free!), and the atmosphere of the race. Something about going off-road seems to make people a little more laid-back; I've noticed it at XC races and at CX (cyclo-cross) races. There was none of the preening that I've seen at other races and from other athletes (cough, triathletes, cough), and there's no high-tech or expensive gear to show off. I think XC and CX races might be my favorites.


By the way, Emily finished in 33:38 in her first 5k, her first XC race, and her second event ever!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Weekly Updates, Whatever Happened to Those?

You might assume I forgot that I ever had a blog.


I didn't forget; I just lost the motivation to post. I suddenly realized that, in spite of my earlier aspirations, I have no desire to be a social media rock star, or to have a wildly popular blog, or to achieve any level of fame at any time ever.

That said, I do appreciate those of you who read my blog, and I'll continue to post (more regularly, even).

We moved on May 17. Since then, I've done two international distance triathlons, one half iron distance, and a 5k. I'll write up race reports on those with what I can remember of each race. Here's a preview: they were all difficult, I was undertrained, my times were way slower--some of my slowest ever--but I still managed to come away with a few awards. Easy age group, I guess.

I never really got my feet under me with training this year. First there was the cat-scratch fever scare, then the twisted ankle. Between those two medical interruptions, I had absolutely no base building this season. By the time I was back to a point where I could ride and run, we were in the process of moving. After the move, I was able to train regularly--I hardly missed any workouts! There were still inconsistencies, mostly because I was trying to establish a routine in a completely new area. And after losing most of the spring to sickness and injury, all I could do was put in as many miles and as much time as possible, and hope it was enough to get me through.

It was enough, but just barely.

Anyway, I'll leave that to the race reports. I'm just realizing that I have a lot to catch up on, so I'll split it into multiple posts. Here's a preview of what I have coming:

Sunday: race report for Glory Days XC 5k (my most recent race)
Monday: a new FREE CYCLING WORKOUT! It's been forever since I've published one!
Tuesday: info on my current training plan and upcoming goals
Wednesday: info on my current eating plan
Thursday: recipe for a "semi-splurge" meal--a fancier meal that takes longer to prepare but is still reasonably low-cal and incredibly delicious
Friday: maybe a Friday Funny, like Steve in a Speedo does. We'll see.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Weekly Update: Weeks 2-4

Ah yes, training. It has not been going well.

I got sick again, and that took me out for a good week. Then I was fine, and started training again, when I twisted my ankle badly during a thirty-minute run. I stayed off the ankle completely for three days, then went back to work. It's been a week and a half since the injury, but my ankle is still black and blue and swollen. I'm not going to be running anytime soon!

Also, I moved to Virginia. My "roommate" got a job with CapitalOne--a very good job!--and so I quit QuikTrip (which did not make me sad at all) and moved out here with her. We are living in Falls Church, just outside the Beltway, in a beautiful area with plenty of trees. There's a Trader Joe's, a library, a park, and a running store just a short walk away. This area has beautiful running and biking paths, along with what seems like a vibrant running and triathlon community! One of the top women's rugby clubs in the country is in D.C. Basically, this is the perfect place for me to live.

I don't have a job yet, and my "roommate's" job pays well enough that I need not rush out to find employment. If you live in D.C. or the surrounding area and know of anything, I'd appreciate any help in finding employment.

I'm strongly considering a doctoral program in physical therapy, and will start looking into available programs in this area next week.

I feel like the world has opened up once more, and it's full of possibilities!

Thank you all for supporting me and reading my blog!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stuff I'm Using: Saucony Guide 7


I got these shoes for free as a promotional item from Saucony. I did not pay for these shoes. I'm still trying to decide whether or not the free stuff I got through my Dick's job was worth the pain and suffering of working there.

Anyway, the Guide 7. Normally, I don't like stability shoes. I prefer to run in neutral shoes, even though I'm a moderate overpronator. Since there's no real evidence to support running in corrective footwear to prevent injury, I figure I'll run in whatever I want, and work on strengthening my lower-body kinetic chain, instead.

However, these are the best shoes I've ever run in. They have the perfect amount of cushioning for me, they have a moderate amount of stability that isn't particularly noticeable, they don't feel overly heavy or built up. My feet felt happy, running in these shoes.

I love running in Saucony shoes (even when they give me blisters), and the Guide 7 reminds me why. In these, I forget all about shoes, socks, and gear, and focus solely on my run. These shoes are what all running shoes should aspire to be.

My one issue with these shoes: I loathe the colors. I think it's the pink. I don't mind the blue so much. But they feel so good on my feet, I'm willing to overlook the colors, and plan to do the majority of my running in these shoes for the foreseeable future (I have a pair of Mizuno Wave Sayonara for speed training that I'll review soon). And when I wear out my free pair, I will buy another pair (in a different color). Thanks, Saucony, for changing my mind about stability shoes.