Wednesday, July 25, 2012

If Sugar is the Devil... Then I was Surely Headed to Hell

I am pretty sure this is what the devil looks like!
It’s been a long time since I blogged... last year when I was training for the Augusta Half Ironman I wanted to share the ups and downs, but there were so many, I lost control of time.  This year, I am determined to keep more control,  fit in as many workouts as I can and share some of the successes and challenges.  If I did have time to write last year, I might have complained here and there about the weight gain.  Yep.  I gained a few pounds while swimming, biking and running.  And it wasn’t muscle.  Unless muscle settles in your rear end!

How??  Well, I recognize one thing I didn’t do last year was focus on my diet.  I worked on my nutrition while I was biking and running, but never focused on the rest of the day.  Once upon a time I thought if I was  working my tail off,  I’d be able to indulge.  I know I am not alone because you’ve seen  those shirts -- I run for wine/beer/chocolate...  But for me, that theory just isn’t working well.

So with the recommendation from a Facebook friend who amazingly transformed herself - I’ve started to do some serious reading.  And guess what?  Sugar is the devil.  This isn’t news to me.  Not at all.  I’ve been told I need to cut sugar and carbs several times -- and the thought alone made me quiver.  I’d almost get angry at the thought of it!  But last week, something clicked.  Call it an Aha! moment.  And the thought of not pushing myself to be as healthy as I can reasonably be depresses me.  Why would I not at least try?

I hesitated to write about this, because I am just starting this journey.  And it is going to be done in baby steps.  Not sure how far I will get, but already I am starting to feel better by making different choices.  I still ate a Little Debbie Zebra Cake the other night -- definitely the devil’s spawn!  And there will be wine and coffee in my present and future, but maybe fewer mojitos and more glasses of herbal tea.  

Even though I don’t carbo load on bagels and pasta daily, or eat cookies and cake every day -- I consume far more sugar than I realized.  Fat free milk has 12g of sugar per glass - the same as a serving of fat free Fig Newtons!  And a serving of Zebra Cakes - 32g!  I only had one and I wondered how they fit 16g of sugar into two bites!  Basically, from everything I have read, you should aim for less than 5g of sugar per serving. (And probably stick to one serving!) That Zebra Cake just wasn’t worth it.

Have you cut sugar from your diet and seen results?  What’s your motivation?  Like I said, I am taking baby steps.  I have a lot of devilish behaviors, and some I actually need to correct!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Life After Augusta

It’s been more than a month since I crossed the finish line in Augusta, and I am still sitting here catching up on LAA (Life After Augusta). I learned something about training for a Half Ironman – that weekly schedule doesn’t leave time for much else in your life. Clearly that includes blogging!

For some reason, not having the time or energy to blog bothered me more than the dozens of other things that got pushed aside (things like house cleaning, yard work, appointments…) Why? I guess it’s the same reason I took more than 500 pictures during training and maybe as many during the race weekend. It’s a chance to document the incredible journey, but also to connect with others who have either shared similar experiences or hope to someday.

I can’t tell you the number of blogs I’ve written in my head during weekly three hour bike rides in the hills! And they were good! But by the time I finished riding, drove home, showered and finally sat down at my computer, all I could usually muster was a Facebook update – or a 140 character Tweet! And usually a couple of pictures!

My energy level was definitely at the Facebook and Twitter level after most training days, but the experiences were larger than life.

  • The day my rear derailer cracked in half as I was climbing Sugar Loaf Mountain – and I was saved by my hero in the Prius (Sheri!) and Prince Charming on his Yamaha!

  • Finishing the Puzzle Run 10K and the Moss Park Olympic tri with new personal records…

  • Crossing Lake Conway with Megan guiding me across on the kayak – and returning the favor on the way back..
  • The hundreds of miles I shared with Megan and my incredible team mates – including a very fun Sunday (Sept 4) at Vision Quest singing and dancing while riding our stationary bikes for 3 hours! I recapped that moment many times during the race!
  • And of course finishing 70.3 miles – and meeting my goal of still standing and smiling at the end…(There was a moment when I skidded out on the bike, got run over and had a flat…I think I may have stopped smiling for a few minutes. But the second I was back on the bike – I was smiling again!)

Just recapping each of these experiences makes me miss the routine of training, and the time shared with my teammates. But LAA has a lot of positives to it. I remember minutes before my swim start, my friend and teammate Terri looked at me and said, “if we can do this, you know we can do anything.” She is right! It’s proof that if you put your mind to something, it’s absolutely yours for the taking. That’s a lesson I hope will resonate with my children – and give them the confidence to reach further than they think possible... Leaves me thinking, what's next?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sleeping Your Way to Success

Ask any professional athlete and they’ll likely tell you sleep and recovery are the most important parts of their training. But there’s obviously more to it, or we’d all be London-bound in 2012. So let’s assume that in between all those naps, there are some pretty intense workouts too. But considering their level of intensity and experience, how does this “sleep your way to becoming a better athlete” routine apply to an average newbie like me?

Definition of Like Me:

  • Been training at a novice/pre-intermediate level on and off for 4 years
  • Shows modest improvement over a year’s time
  • Easily 10 pounds overweight
  • Nutrition needs work / Sleep habits terrible

The good news for me is I have loads of room for improvement! And it seems sleep is the easiest area for me to address, except I’m both a night owl AND an early bird! For the past year or so, I average between 4 – 5 hours of sleep a night. But If I listen to athletes like Jarrod Shoemaker and Robbie Ventura, this is exactly why I haven’t gone pro yet!

So after some constant ribbing about my 2am Facebook postings, I decided I want to sleep my way to success! Oh – I couldn’t resist!

Sunday evening: Head on pillow 11:30 pm / Wake up at 6:30 am
  • Monday Morning: SLEEP HANGOVER It was a recovery day, so didn’t do a real workout. I basically showered and started working. Felt sluggish the entire day.

Monday evening: Head on pillow 11:30 pm / Wake up at 6:30 am

  • Tuesday Morning: Figured out that I can’t sleep that much and then just go straight to the desk to start working. Mowed the lawn before showering and starting work. Felt so much better – and was more rested for our 6:30 pm track practice

Tuesday evening: Head on pillow 12:10 pm / Wake up at 4:30 am

  • Wednesday Morning: I fell off the wagon! Why on earth did I think it was a good idea to go to VQ training after a hill repeat workout the night before??? Oh right – I had no choice. I really felt tired and sore. But I think it had more to do with the training than the sleep factor.

So how is it working so far? Well, I didn’t get any rounds of applause at my cycling class this morning. But I also only got 4 hours of sleep last night. So I have to demonstrate better discipline. But I have no fear! My Facebook horoscope gives me hope! (And no – I didn’t find it at 2 AM!)

Today's Taurus Horoscope: You will have a lot of interesting insights and impressions today, and if you take the time to listen carefully to what your body is telling you, you may find a practical and affordable solution to a lifestyle, dietary or healthcare problem.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Going around those walls...

“The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.” Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Someone call 911. My body was apparently hit by a very large truck, filled with angry elves, who took turns kicking and punching me while I slept. That’s exactly how I felt like when I stepped out of bed at 5 o’clock this morning.

The longer distances of training for the Half Ironman have caught up with me. Funny thing is, this week I started to feel a little more confident about my ability – especially on the bike. There is not one discipline I am really strong in, but the bike gives me hope! I am currently slow – but I think by September I might be upgraded to less slow! For me, that is a relatively short amount of time to see improvement.

So here I am, feeling more confident, actually starting to wonder which Half Ironman clothing I might buy at the Expo. What kind of 70.3 sticker will I get for the car?? What will I EAT when the race is done?? And then today... Instead of feeling like I’m at top of my game, I was feeling more like the bottom of a car tire! (Actually I think my car tires covered less miles than me this week!)

I’ve trained for enough races to know that crappy days and brick walls are all part of the formula. Someone reminded me, “It’s a triathlon, it’s supposed to be hard!” Thankfully, I’ve also experienced the complete euphoria of finishing a personally challenging tri. So I can dig deep and remind myself, those walls were just meant for someone else who doesn’t want this badly enough.

(*Celebrating with Caroline after my first triathlon - Pineapple Man June 2008)

Monday, July 4, 2011

If Only... How To Improve Your Tri Experience

The other day my friend was talking about how he could improve his triathlon finish time. As he looked over previous race times, the conversation went like this: “You see here, if I could just get faster on the bike – I could really improve the overall time. And look here on the run, you see, all I need to do is increase the pace and stay consistent.” And then, as he looked at the swim times, “If I could just get a bit faster in the swim… then I’d really improve my time!”

The magic formula – just get faster in all three disciplines and you will improve your time! Genius!

If it were only that easy…

There are definitely other factors that play into improving your triathlon performance. Nutrition, sleep and proper recovery. These are areas that I have flat out neglected. Over the years, I’ve never gotten the rhythm right. In fact, I’ve been pretty lousy about it - evident when I ended up in the ER after collapsing at the Women’s Half Marathon in November. The cause – dehydration. Probably also didn’t help that I didn’t sleep very much the week before, and not a wink the night before.

Jarrod Shoemaker, 2008 U.S. Olympic triathlete, says proper sleep is the most critical part of his training. Robbie Ventura, former pro cyclist, told a group at David’s World Cycle, sleep and rest were the most important part of his improved performance. There must be something to this sleep thing! But oddly enough, going to bed on time can be more difficult than getting up at 4:30 AM for a training!

Tonight – I will be in bed by midnight. Improvement indeed! (more like 12:30 - but that's still improvement!)

Another thing Jarrod swears by is massage therapy. In an interview earlier this year, he told me about craniosacral therapy. He described it as one of the most relaxing and beneficial massages – especially the night before a race. This unique massage/ therapy somehow removes the tension and anxiety from his body, unlike anything he had experienced before.

Intrigued, I scheduled an appointment with Emily at West Orange Massage Therapy. It was two days before my first triathlon this year; I was in the middle of car buying negations; and I basically felt like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. We started with a basic muscle loosening massage… I chatted away, telling her about everything and anything until…. All of a sudden she did something to the back of my neck, and within moments I felt this release. Emotions and stress – as if they were tangible particles inside me – seem to rush through my body and pour out the back of my neck. It was truly like nothing I had experienced before. I wanted to tell her how amazing this was – but I literally could not speak. My body was so relaxed, I couldn’t talk! This was an absolute first in my life!

The following days I thought about the massage – and the emotions I felt afterward. I clearly needed another one – and soon!

My name is Colleen, and I am addicted to craniosacral therapy! It is by far the most relaxing therapy I’ve ever experienced. If you haven’t tried it – I really recommend it.

Now – did it make me a better triathlete? Not sure yet. Has it made me a better mom? A better car-buying customer? And an overall less stressed human being? I’d definitely say yes!

If you want to try it - now is the time! Living Social is running a deal (July 4th and 5th) for 50% off for new customers. (All massages and facials - not just carniosacral!)

Let me know what you think! And if you’ve had it before, how would you describe it?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The journey to Augusta.... starts with a mess!

There are moments I wonder, what the hell have I gotten myself into? Today, I had a few of those moments.

I can’t really explain why I have a desire to complete a half Ironman race. It’s more of an emotional tug than a logical reason. Because if I sit back – I can’t see much logic to swimming 1.2 miles, biking 56 m and then taking on a half marathon (13.1 m) all in the same day – with just a few minutes transition in between. Certainly there are many on my team who seem born to do this – I am not one of them.

I’m not playing the defeatist or the “woe is me” character in this story by any means, but I will say I am incredibly surprised to be sitting here in my kitchen, with sore legs from climbing and sweating and huffing through 30 miles of hills this morning on my road bike. On legs that were already a slight bit sore from yesterday’s 10 mile run on Clay Road. Surprised because this is not a lifestyle I grew up with or intended to jump into. Anything with the name Ironman was not something ordinary people talked about – never mind signed up for!

So when the idea of doing the 2011 Augusta race started floating around in my head – it seemed part ridiculous and part premature. But the thought wouldn’t go away. And then I went to the Florida Half Ironman at Disney to cheer fellow teammates on. The people I saw crossing the finish line were depleted. They were emotional. Their friends and families were emotional. Some were in pain. But they all did something that was truly extraordinary – they finished 70.3 miles! I was sold.

This vision flashed in my mind many times on Saturday as I completed one of my most satisfying runs ever. Mile 8.5 I picked up my pace. The endorphins kicked in as I looked over rows of incredibly dark green orange trees, caught a glimpse of the lake and waved at a field of cows. They didn’t wave back, but I didn’t care. I was on a runner’s high. And all I could think was I KNOW I CAN COMPLETE THIS RACE.

That feeling of confidence/self awareness/joy was a small, but truly significant moment. Why? Because that moment helped me finish that bike ride today. And that moment will get me back on those hills one morning this week. And that moment will keep me on track towards the goal. And every time I think, “What the hell have I gotten myself into?” I’ll think back to that eighth mile on Clay Road; which, ironically enough, was big old mess!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Please accept my apology...

Dear Running,

It’s been a while since I wrote. But I think it’s necessary we clear the air. I have to admit lately we haven’t spent much time together. And I get the feeling you aren’t happy with me. I know, I know – you don’t want to hear the excuses. Because let’s face it – I found time to do just about everything else. (I even gave up sleep to fit it all in!) But sometimes it’s just very hard to find time for that run.

But you know what’s harder? Fitting in my favorite “skinny” jeans after I choose to spend an entire week drinking and partying like a teenager and avoiding that early morning run. Yeah. (Okay for the record – I call them skinny jeans – but that is a relative term. Not sure these hips would ever, ever be referred to as skinny! But you get my point!)

I noticed today, as I ran a slow but enjoyable seven miles that something felt slightly different. Did I leave something in my pockets? No. Clearly I must have packed something else in my fuel belt. Nope. What on earth…Oh – it was just my rear end! Apparently Running, you hold a grudge. And you aren’t subtle about it (Let’s face it – Shakira says it best -- these hips don’t lie!!)

So let’s make a deal. I admit that in December and January I relied on my Saturday and Tuesday staple runs, and anything else was gravy. Hmmm... Bad word choice. Any other run was a bonus. No more. I vow to spend at least four days a week with you Running. And in honor of Valentine’s Day – we are going to break out of our rut. Let’s reignite that passion! At least once a week I will either run some place new – or run with someone new. And I will hold myself accountable to this for the rest of this year. (The latter may be challenging. I might find myself pairing up with a stranger on the trail – but my new running group is quite large, so I may not have to go the stranger route till at least May!)

So Running – if I do this, and promise to even throw is some biking and swimming, will you please give me hips like Shakira’s? No? Okay. How about just letting me wear my skinny jeans again?


Woefully Sorry in Windermere