Tuesday, December 26, 2006

This is Not a New Year's Resolution

OK. 227 pounds (yikes). Can't run more than a quarter of a mile at a time again (sigh). My heartrate takes forever to drop down when elevated (grrr). No one to blame for this predicament but myself.

Years ago, I was like most dieters. I would do everything perfectly but then once I did a single thing wrong, I would throw up my hands and exclaim, "Well, that does it! I might as well eat three pints of Häagen-Dazs super premium ice cream of the coffee variety!"

These days, I know better. Every day is a new day. If I mess up today, I have tomorrow to do better.

For the past two and a half months, I began every day knowing that it was a new day and a new opportunity to take better care of my mind and body. And, every day I would make the same decision: Reese's peanut butter cups for breakfast (or similar) and the day would go downhill from there.

Today, for the first time in a very long time, I went for a run. (I had to go running before January to make it clear that it wouldn't be part of a temporary New Year's Resolution. Yes, I have issues.) During the warm up my lower back complained and it didn't stop. Now, this could be that I'm visiting relatives and my lower back doesn't like their mattress, but I'm not so sure. I hadn't programmed my Garmin because I had two voices in my head. One insisted that I would bound out the front door and run 3.1 miles (5k) without stopping. The more reasonable voice countered that I should be pleased to be able to run in half-mile intervals.

Reality was worse yet: after a quarter of a mile I had no choice but to return to walking. For two miles that's what I did: run a quarter of a mile, walk a quarter of a mile. Including warm-up and cool-down I traveled a little less than 2.5 miles. Most depressing: during my ultra-slow (didn't think I could get slower, did ya?) runs, my heart rate reached the 170's. At the end of the quarter-mile walk my heart rate was - wait for it - in the 150's. Oh, this is not good. Three months ago my heart rate would drop to the 130's within a matter of seconds.

Surprising, isn't it? The weight annoys me enough (but it's not like I didn't know). The inability to run saddens me (but I expected that). What angers me the most? That I've lost this much cardiovascular health.

Maybe that's a good sign.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

"Don't stop now... it's not over yet!"

OK, so I've been AWOL for a long time now. Two weeks. Too much. With my mother in town, rather than giving me the time to exercise without worrying about my psycho-dog, she's created guilt when I spend the time away from her. Or, perhaps, she's provided an excuse. I don't know.

My plan for after she leaves is to return to the gym every day after work. The weather is driving me there. That, and I'm going into withdrawl from netflix discs (I set a video player on the machines).

Now, the question you're surely wondering: did she run last week's race? Of course! I actually think I did pretty well for my first 5k, considering the spottiness of my training up to the race. (I'd only run 3 miles once before.)

I had two friends joining me at the starting line. One sprinted away like a bunny when the cannon rang out (yes, we had a starter cannon), and the other stayed true to her word to walk the 5k while I... um... didn't quite sprint away.

Remembering my struggle from the previous week's century, I made a concerted effort to watch my pace. No faster than 12:00 minute miles; no slower than 13:00 minute miles. A much older man came up from behind me, and I used him to pace myself for a while. At least until he got too far ahead. I told my pride to be quiet as I watched him disappear into the horizon. I had my own race to run, and I was going to run it, darnit.

I played leap-frog with people foolishly alternating too-high effort with recovery walking. Of course, children understandably did this. Certainly, some people may have been walk-running intentionally. I suspect, however, that these two groups were a minority. Of course, that's pretty much what I did during the Virginia City run, so who was I to criticize? I'm just proud of myself that I ran the whole way without stopping. Well, one stop, but that doesn't count. I'll tell you later.

One leap-frogger answered her cell phone and talked for a while. Really? Wow.

A few leap-froggers coincidentally went back to running every single time I caught up with them. Coincidentally, I'm sure. It couldn't possibly be that they figured that they were OK as long as the fat chick stayed behind them. Nah. I even heard one person exhale, "Damn!" when I passed them too soon after they dropped to a walk. I guess they figured out that they might not be able to stay ahead of the fat chick. Poor things. :-)

I think I'm going to have t-shirts made. The front will say: "I'm OK that they're ahead of me." The back will say: "It's OK that you're behind me."

Yes, I had to negotiate with myself. A lot. "Run the first mile, and then you can take a walking break." "No, you don't need to stop after a mile, push through the discomfort." "Remember, this is what running's all about: running when your body is screaming to stop." "You only have a mile to go. Don't you dare think about walking."

Luckily it was a very flat course. Otherwise, I may have told the negotiator in my head to shove it. As it was, it was a successful negotiation. I didn't stop at all. (Yes, yes, we'll get there). In fact, I even kicked up the pace a bit for my third mile despite never having done negative splits before. And, I started a pretty strong kick once I saw the finish line.

Um, yeah. The finish line.

Balloons. People cheering. An announcer even mentioning my (I assume) push to the end. The timing mat.

I pass the timing mat, turned the corner and proudly slow to a walk. Why isn't anyone else slowing down? Then, a voice: "Don't stop now! It's not over yet!" I look up. Oh, man. That wasn't the finish line!

I kick it back up and push. Hard. So hard that I'm a bit nauseated and can't think of stopping to let someone clip off my timing chip, and walk around a bit before returning and stopping for a kind woman to retrieve the chip.

OK, so at least I never intentionally gave up running. I'll have to forgive myself my faux pas. Besides, it gives me an easier PR (personal record) to break at my next race. Next time I'll be sure to look for that big sign showing the time as you finish before I stop. Oh yeah, that. Small clue that you're actually at the finish line.

After grabbing a drink, I returned to the finish line to cheer on my friends (and others) as they finished, basking in the glow of a race well run.

Oh, you want to know how I did? Well, my Garmin reported 38:45. Woohoo! A sub 39 minute 5k for someone who couldn't run 30 seconds not too long ago. Sub 13-minute mile splits on a 5k for someone who got a doctor to write a note excusing her from all running in elementary school (and beyond).

A few days later, my official time changed the sub-39 minute 5k, but didn't change the sub-13-minute pace. The timing chip reported 39:15. I don't quite know why there was a difference. That's still a 12:40/mi pace. I won't complain.

I was also 42nd in my age group, out of 61. Hard to say where I really placed, because they lumped 5k walkers in with 5k runners. I suspect that I was 42nd out of 43. :) Overall, I was 347th out of 543 5k walkers and runners.

It was a very good day.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

This is not a hill!

Seriously, that's what they painted on part of the ride I did yesterday! (Notice that I said "did", not completed. More on that later.) There I was, cruising along, looking occasionally for the little green painted arrows on the ground, when I saw those words (or similar words) fly beneath me.

Hmmm... Sure felt like a hill. Sure, a very shallow hill that's more of a flat molehill, but a climb nonetheless. However, it's understandable that, when you're hosting a "No Hill Hundred", you certainly should deny any knowledge of any hill-like presence.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Actually, the notice really made me chuckle as I stood on the pedals and climbed virtually effortlessly. I'll also admit that standing to climb was probably really overkill for that little non-hill.

The whole ride, including the not-a-hill-hill was really very, very enjoyable. From the human bike stands at the first rest stop for the metric (yes, you read that right: metric), to the very friendly volunteers, to the riders of all shapes, sizes, ages, and bikes, to the uncrustables they served at one of the rest stops, and even to the smiling and waving Search and Rescue folks providing SAG suport, my first official ride was a pleasure.

Let me amend that: it was wonderful until mile 54. I didn't bonk; I had plenty of energy. I'm not even positive that I started out too fast, though I'm considering it. I think my body just wasn't ready for 61 darned miles. My quads were in serious pain. I'm not saying they were sore, or cramping, or even a bit tired. They ached so badly that I had to take a break every one to two miles, watching my Garmin every foot of the way. I had to keep negotiating with myself just to go a little further, then I would take a break. This was also after I had slowed down to 10-11 mph, down from my 14-19 mph for most of the ride.

When I almost broke down into tears at the thought of the remaining miles, I made the decision: take a shortcut. You're here for fun, I told myself, not competition. Heck, there wasn't a mass start, and the only one with any knowledge of your time is you. If you're miserable, then there's absolutely no one who will benefit. Your longest ride this year, for heaven's sake, was only 25 miles, and you haven't ridden for weeks! Be proud of what you did, and finish with a smile.

So, openly announcing it to some who passed, and nodding to those who saw me going the opposite way from the route, I took a shortcut back. My total distance was 60.92 miles. I'm not ashamed at all. It was just shy of the ride's planned 61-point-something. (Yes, that's a bit shy of a true metric, so sue them and me.)

In case you're wondering how a shortcut only shaved off a fraction of a mile, let me go back to the beginning of the ride: we got lost. Yes, lost. I was blithely following a few riders, chatting along the way, when we saw a sign that said "no outlet". Really? That's pretty odd, since we just began. They kept going, and I turned around. (Heck, they saw the same sign I did, and even commented on it.) We had missed a turn. That's when I started looking for the green pavement markings religiously and checking my cue sheet obsessively. We also added about two miles to our trip.

So, that's why my shortcut still took me to nearly 61 miles.

Not bad. Not bad at all. And yes, I finished with a smile.

Next week: my first 5k. (Oh yeah, my other milestone of the past week: I ran three miles without stopping for the first time on Wednesday morning. Race day, here I come!)

Oh, more good/neutral news: My weight at this time is 205.3 pounds. That's back down 1.3 pounds from last week. This is making me think: perhaps I should stop counting calories temporarily and start listening to my body. If I'm maintaining my weight despite what I think is significant overeating, maybe my body's telling me something my brain is ignorant of: I need more food. I'm not saying that I'm going to do it, but I'm-a-thinkin': maybe it's time to intentionally put the obsessive calorie counting on pause. If I do take an official break (trial separation?) from my scale and calorie-counting software then, of course, I'll have guidelines to get adequate nutrition from fruits, vegetables, and all that other healthy stuff.

It's really food for thought, ahem, so to speak.

OK, onward and forward. I'll see you again next Sunday, if not before.

(Oh, and though I'm not responding directly lately, thanks to everyone's encouraging words and patient tolerance of my little tantrum. They really mean a lot. Seriously.)

Oh, one last thing: I fit into the skinniest jeans in my closet today. The last time I tried to put them on, I couldn't get them around my hips. OK, so they may have been a teenie-bit too tight. But, who cares? They fit, darnit, and I could breathe, move, and even walk around downtown. Yeehaw!

OK, I'll stop babbling now. :)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Checking In

OK, my temper tantrum is officially over, but things still haven't magically gotten better. (And, no, I'm not quitting. I realize that my parting comment last Sunday was a little unclear. I didn't mean that I was leaving. I meant that I'm not myself lately, and that the real "me" will be back some day. Of course, it's the same me, just not as successful and a bit grumpier.)

OK, so let's see how I'm progressing on my IAP. I told a co-worker about it, by the way, who then responded, "But, Karen, you know that Special Education doesn't work, don't you?" Um, yeah. Big help there, thanks. (Actually, this co-worker and I have a habit of razzing each other. And, since our jobs are both virtually inexorably tied in Special Education, I could almost see the bulge left by his tongue hitting his cheek.)

Anyway, drum roll, please:

Healthy Eating: 8 points out of a possible 28. That's 29%.
Exercise: 5 out of a possible 24. That's 21%.

Yowzers. Ouch. OK, let's think about this. It could be much, much worse. It could have been 0% and 0%. Let's give credit where credit is due. I haven't quit, and - despite a rather ugly little fit - I'm still trudging on, albeit nearly as slowly as molassis at absolute zero.

So, where to go from here? Let's see... In Special Education, when a student doesn't make a goal, we have two choices: modify the goal or keep shooting for the same goal. Since I'm a slow, stubborn learner; I'll keep the same goal. So, two weeks from today I'm looking to hit that 40% mark in both areas. OK, let's compromise: one area.

Since a relative is coming into town and will be able to babysit my dog, thus freeing my schedule a bit more since my roommate went out of town, I think this is totally do-able.

One revision to my previous IAP: Wednesdays are a free day. Not just a reward day, but a free day, period.

I'm actually pleasantly surprised at how little my weight has changed. Don't get me wrong; it's not pretty. But, it's not nearly as bad as it could be. Two weeks ago: 205.5 pounds. One week ago: 204.8 pounds. Today: 206.6 pounds. OK, yes - that's almost a two pound gain in the last week. On the bright side, that's actually a two-pound loss from four weeks ago, and I've been having difficulty since going back to work in the middle of August.

Ok, you want to hear the punchline? I have two events coming up in the next two weeks. Stubborn as I am, I'm still going to do them, though not nearly as well as I might have otherwise. On Saturday, I'll be riding the metric (62 miles) in the "No Hill Hundred". Very optimistic, I know. But, since I can do a slightly hilly 20 miler, I think a completely flat 62 miles (with SAG support) is within the realm of possibility. Worst case scenario: I find out exactly what SAG support is.

Then, a week from then, I have my first 5k. Yikes! I don't think that it will be the "graduation" 5k that it was supposed to be. Worse yet, I've invited - nay, pressured - people from work to run it "with" (read: well ahead of) me. Well, I certainly can't back out of that one, can I? And, actually, there's a possibility that I might be actually (barely) able to run a 5k at that point in time. I just have to hope that it, too, is very, very flat. Any chance that it'll all be downhill? OK, didn't think so.

Hmmm.. maybe that's a metaphor for my overall transformation. Maybe that's what I'm hitting this past month and a half: a long, ugly hill. And I'll be over the summit very soon. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe not. Nevertheless, eventually.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Glimmer of Hope

Hi there. This is just a quick note to those of you who may have thought I was throwing in the towel yesterday. I wasn't, and I'm not. I'm just frustrated.

I'm writing this having just came back in from a short run (30 min total, including warm-up and cool-down). I actually wasn't planning on running, but I woke up at 3:20 and after trying to go back to sleep for half an hour, I decided, "Why not," gave my dog a bone to keep her busy, and went out for a quick run. Felt good, but I have a headache now, and I'm not sure why. Poor nutrition, perhaps. Too long since my last exercise, most likely.

OK, time to hit the showers.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I'm absolutely p*ssed.

Beware: this is not a happy post. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

OK, I've tried everything.

I've pushed myself to maintian my previous levels of activity and healthfulness despite going back to work. I've negotiated reasonable levels.

I've held myself to high standards. I've made concessions.

I've demanded only the best. I've realized that I'll never be perfect.

I have done everything I can think of, and it's not good enough.

Oh, no. Don't get me wrong. This is not a "poor me" post. I am absolutely furious at myself. But it's not making a difference.

I've told others in the past that there may be something deeper and that they should possibly seek professional help when they struggle to make or maintain positive changes. I, however, thought that I had exorcised my personal demons and that I had gotten to the point where there was nothing stopping me from improving my health other than laziness and love of junk food.

So, what's stopping me right now? Why, despite not enjoying the food at all, am I eating junk food? Why, despite knowing that exercise GIVES me energy, am I avoiding it?

I. Just. Don't. Know.

Part of me thinks I should shut down this blog. The few that are still reading are certainly not finding what they're looking for in entertainment/inspiration for the last few weeks. Also, these days, I'm certainly not embodying that "spirit" of athleticism that I wrote about in my first post.

Another part of me says that I should keep the blog up. That whatever state I'm in will pass, and I'll want to look back later on these dark days with fond sympathy for the troubled me.

The second part wins, if only for the glimmer of hope it represents.

So, though the blog will remain, and I plan to post at least weekly, I bid you all a sort of adieu. But, in saying "goodbye", I hope that you will check back occasionally, and that you will return when I do. So, rather than goodbye, I'll use the German phrase that - literally - means until we see each other again:

Auf Wiedersehen.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Special Athleticism

OK, first, since it's Sunday, I should say something about my current status. I've plunged from 205.8 pounds (5-day average) to a shocking... wait for it... 205.5 pounds. Um, yeah. So, I don't think there's any need to post my measurements or any other details. Oh the bright side, I haven't gained any weight.

I'm still struggling in dealing with the "real world" for my activities. Despite my silence, everything did not go smoothly over the past few days. (I'm confessing now. That counts for something, doesn't it?) I'm really having a difficult time in eating properly and keeping active with my work hours.

It recently hit me: if I teach special education, and know to celebrate small steps in my students, why don't I do the same for myself? I mean, really! When we have students who never turn in ANY homework, we may set a goal to have the student turn in 50% of homework. Why can't I do the same thing for myself?

So, in that vein, I'm writing an IAP (individualized athleticism program) for myself. (Students in special education receive individualized educational programs). So, let's run through it.

Present Levels of Performance: I start strong on Sunday or Monday, and fizzle by Wednesday or Thursday, in both activity and healthy eating. For the past two weeks, I've completed 7 out of 24 training activities. That's 29%.

For healthy eating, let's set two "points" per day. I make it within my caloric bounds: 1 point. I eat healthily with reasonable macros and nutrition: 1 point. I do both: 2 points. So, for the past two weeks, I've earned 9 points out of a possible 28. That's 32%.

Strengths and Concerns: Strengths... strengths... yeah, ok. Well, I'm quite the pleasant person and I get along well with others. I rarely run with scissors. Concerns: I'm afraid of continuing slippage and undoing everything I've worked so hard to achieve.

Goals and Objectives: Ok, based on my present levels of performance, I'll shoot for nutritional and activity compliance of at least 40% for the next two weeks. That means completing 10 of my scheduled 24 activities and earning 12 out of 28 possible nutrition points.

Modifications and Accommodations: Hmmm... This is a hard one. Students may received shortened assignments or "time out" passes, but I don't see anything I can steal for my IAP. They might also get preferential seating or a behavior plan. Yeah, can't see anything here. I reserve the right to add these later, though.

Justification of Placement: We, the IAP team, feel that Karen's performance has declined sharply after re-entering the working world this fall. Rather than allowing her to continue this decline, possibly ultimately resuming to couch potato-ness and suffering the shame of needing to pull all of her "fat clothing to give away" back out of the guest room closet, we feel that it would benefit her most to temporarily reduce her own requirements and expectations so that she can develop a base of success from which to build.

There we go. My very own IAP. Special At, here I am.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Two steps forward...

OK, first I'll 'fess up: I did not run on Friday. In fact, I almost overslept! Well, that's the way it goes. My calories were perfectly in line for no activity, though, so that's OK, just not ideal.

Yesterday, I rode an extremely slow ride with the Procrastinating Pedalers. It was a lovely ride, and I'll surely go back. Just not at 10-11 miles per hour.

(Pettiness follows.) I was a little irritated when the leader of the ride turned to the two thinner girls (about my age) and commented that they could probably have gone much faster. Hey! What about me?!? I could have done that extremely flat route at at least 14-15 mph! What's with the assumptions? (Ok, I feel better now.)

Moving on to today: no ride, no run. I will do yoga before the day is over, though. I know I said that I'd be doing some bodyweight training, but self-consciousness is getting to me. This training means that I'll have to go to a playground or other place that has bars I can hang off of. I'm building up to this. It's taking more courage than I expected. For today, I think yoga is a fair substitute.

Overall, I'm beginning to wonder about my workout goals. I'm trying to continue a pretty aggressive schedule despite school starting back up. Maybe I need to cut it down a little bit so I can stop feeling like a flake every other day. Then, if I work out more than planned, it's a bonus. Score!

Finally, here are my current stats. Sadly, it's been exactly four weeks since I posted these, but the good news is that this lag makes them look better than they might have otherwise.

Current 5-day average weight: 205.8 lb.
Total loss since a month ago: 3.8 lb

Current 8-point total size: 210.25 in.
Total loss since a month ago: 1.75 in.

Average daily calories in/out: 2204/2562
Average macronutrients (P%/F%/C%) : 19/32/47

OK, far from ideal, but I'll live with it.

Sneak preview: I went to see the specialist again. I've got a few things to say about that visit. That'll be mentioned either tonight or tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Cheating... at Blogging

First, I want to point out that I've updated my schedule over to the right. This schedule begins Friday (we have "Parent Night" tomorrow).

It should be worth noting that I'm trying an experiment with my weight training. Rather than pumping iron at the gym, I'm going to try "body weight" training for a while. I'm starting waaaaayyy at the bottom of the skill levels and, due to an overabundance of the requesite body weight, will probably creep very slowly up the levels. But, really, it somehow makes more sense and is certainly a bit more holistic than resistance training with weights. My only concern is that not very many women seem to do it. Still, at the very least, it should make for one or two interesting blog entries.

Now, on to the cheating: I actually posted the following over at cool-running, and - rather than retell the story - have copied and pasted it here. Feel free to skip if you've already read it, as if you need my permission.

I've heard many times that we data-geeks don't need our fancy GPS watches with HRM, workouts, et al. Perhaps, in the long run, they're right. But, if I didn't have my beloved Garmin this morning, I might have been late to work!

I ran a new route not far from my neighborhood this morning (leaving from my front door). I've biked that particular path, but only one-way - I always come back a different way.

So, there I am in the dark having "run" (ha!) up a hill (for the first time during training), enjoying my run back downhill, when I eventually notice that the darkened houses don't quite look familiar. I look at my handy GPS tracks on my watch and find out that I took the wrong leg of a fork that I didn't even realize was there when coming from the other direction!

My trusty GPS guided me right back to the path I needed without having to backtrack. (Even if I had backtracked without the Garmin, I might still have had trouble discerning exactly where I was supposed to be and go.) Whew!

Yeah, yeah, sure... I know that the purists out there will just tell me to dump the GPS and just pay more attention to where I'm going. Go ahead and say it if you must, but my Garmin now sits on an even higher pedestal then before. Gold pedestal. Security system. Barbed wire all around it. With a framed "Ode to my Garmin" close by.

Now, pardon me as I create a new spreadsheet.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

For the cynics out there

OK, I know what a few of you thought: Sure, she got off her butt and ran and biked at the end of a three-day weekend. But what will she do when she has to work out around school again? Will she really drive right by the two McD's, Jack in the Box, and Wendy's from work to home without grabbing an easy dinner? How do I know that that's what you were thinking? Because I thought it myself, of course.

Well, so far so good. I got up this early and did a little yoga with my good friend Steve Ross, and then hiked this evening with the Sierra Club. My food also continued to be what I call reasonably clean. (Forgive me, I'm still recovering over the unintentional battle of the value [or crappiness] of a particular cereal.)

Here's the bad news: I may not have the time or energy to blog very much. So, I may miss a day here and there of blogging, but I'll continue to be honest. If I'm doing well, I'll share it. If I falter, I'll come out and say it. After things settle down a little at work, I'll try to return to daily entries. But really, I'm sure you'll all agree: If something's gotta give, let the blog suffer. :)

Monday, September 04, 2006

No, please don't make me have that piece of chocolate!

Howdy all. You were starting to give up on me, weren't you? Truth be told, I think I started to give up a little on myself as well. Saturday, no doubt, I couldn't blame myself for remaining fairly comatose. Sunday, though, I meant to go cycling with the local bike club and didn't. So today, when I didn't get up early enough to go work out before the warmth of day, I began to worry. Was I going to return to my inactive lifestyle?

I admit, I had given in to Jack in the Box and Snickers over the past few days, but that was supposed to be temporary. But, as the morning wore on and I remained in my pajamas, I had to wonder: Was my plan for temporary refuge in convenience food and inactivity (except for during work) going to backfire and lead to a permanent return to the unhealthful lifestyle I was escaping?

At 6:09 pm today I had my answer: absolutely not.

In fact, I had the same thought that I've had in the past when eating fresh fruit for the first time in a long time: Why had I deprived myself of this joy? That's what the title is referring to. Today, I realized again that training is a pleasure, and I shouldn't deny myself that pleasure.

Stepping out to run again, I felt alive. The stress of planning for tomorrow ebbing, my body and mind being once again pushed to complete a purely athletic task, I encountered the zen-like joy of play. Really, that's what all of this is, I realized. Play. Why deny myself this?

Sure, it's hard, difficult, and painful sometimes, but overall, it's wonderfully rewarding. I'm so glad to be back.

Surprising myself, I successfully met my own challenge and ran 2.5 miles without stopping today, despite the break. My average running pace was 12:48 min/mile. Not too shabby, I think, all things considered. I returned to a particular part of the river that I hadn't run along for a while. I was surprised at how much farther I was going to meet my current distance! (Bonus!)

I was well and truly drained when I returned to my car, however. I sat for a while, drank, enjoyed some Sport Beans, and gazed out at the park for a while, relishing the feeling before changing to go out for a ride.

My ride wasn't quite as successful. That run really sapped my energy (good!), so my ride was much slower than it normally might have been. Still enjoyable, and - since it was dusk - I think I got to sample some new bugs today for a protein boost. It did feel good to get back on the bike. (It's been way too long from cycling). I'm really going to have to work that back into my schedule.

Unfortunately, today showed me that I'm not ready for a 33 mile hilly ride on Saturday. Instead, I'll do the flat beginner's ride. There's a possibility that I'll get some well-needed tips on group riding during that ride, so perhaps it's for the best.

Since I'd neglected my "Sunday Stats" for a while anyway, I'll post those again this coming Sunday. I'm relieved to see that I've gained back surprisingly little weight over this past week.

Ah, once again: it's good to be back.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


OK, the 12-hour days are getting to me. So, I've accepted that, until Friday, I will be taking a break from training and obsessively tracking my food. I have committed that I will be back by (and possibly before) Monday.

Who knows? Though I suspect I'll be too wracked by stress, my body might even be able to do some serious recovery during this time so I may come back even better and stronger.

Until then.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


It just hit me as I'm hitting the sack so I can get up at 3:30 tomorrow morning in order to run, relax, and return to school bright and early. (Probably won't get up quite this early in the future, but this is the first day of school, so I want to get there nice and early.)

The point: didn't do my Sunday stats for the second week in a row. Oh well. It's not pretty, anyway, so it can go one more week. Until tomorrow!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Stop the Music! Or, at least, turn the volume down a little...

OK, here it is: my first race report. First, I really enjoyed the drive out. Dressed to run in the cold, sipping my electolyte drink slowly on the way, I watched the sky lighten as I drove to the East. Somehow, it seemed fitting to be driving toward the rising sun as I head to my first run. It felt good. (Don't worry, this doesn't change.)

When I reached the location of the race, I was a bit surprised to see very few people milling around, even though packet pickup had started about fifteen minutes ago (45 minutes to the start of the race). So, I cruised around the neighborhood for a while before I parked and picked up my packet. Yes, very few people indeed.

Wearing my running tights, shorts, and a long-sleeved shirt over a no-sleeve shirt (all wicking, of course, and the forecast said 53 degrees at start time, climbing to 55 an hour later.), I temporarily topped it off with my school's sweatshirt and went in to pick up my packet (t-shirt, bib number and safety pins). Hmmm... is there supposed to be anything else? Probably not, but somehow it seems odd to call this a "packet".

After dropping off my t-shirt and sweatshirt in my car, and while walking around to warm-up, I pinned and repinned the number in what must have been six different places, including trying to be cool and pinning it to my shorts leg (no, didn't stay there).

During this time, I talked with one of the volunteers by the chute. They had 70 participants last year, and were hoping for more. 70 participants for three events: 2mi walk, 2mi run, and 10k run. Oh, it's hard to blend in with that! I hoped for many more participants. We ended up with 64 in the end. No, I'm not missing a zero or two. Sixty-four. For all three events.

I also noticed that it felt much warmer than I expected. The sun helps a lot, so I switched to my tight shorts layered with loose shorts and got rid of the shirt under my long-sleeved shirt. Good decision, I think.

It was actually really fun at the start. We all (all three events at the same time) lined up in front of the crosswalk which would be our finish line and listened to instructions. I joked with people by me about my fear of finishing 10 minutes behind the second-to-last runner, and shared Sam's story which - as well-intentioned as it was - was not necessarily reassuring when I heard it yesterday. She had finished last once... right in front of the ambulance!

It was a nice, relaxed atmosphere as we chatted and then applauded a late-comer who we held the "starting gun" for. In fact, there was no starting gun. I think she even said "On your mark, get set, go!" as our starting signal. In retrospect, the whole thing, from the 2 mile perspective, felt a lot like a bunch of grown-up kids who got together to race. Not that it's a bad thing, mind you.

We took off. I actually wove around a couple of people at the start, surprised that the take-off was so slow. They were just more patient than me, and I quickly ended up behind many of them again. Did I mention that the race started uphill? A shallow hill here, but a hill nonetheless. I ran for the most part, but set the rule for myself that I was more than welcome to walk up hills. So, I took a walking break and a pair of walkers passed us. That's OK.

The course started straight up the road, then the 10k and 2mile people split in opposite directions. Suddenly, I looked behind me and there was no one there! In fact, the police car monitoring the corner drove off! I was last already! Wow. I thought I was in the back-middle of the pack, but they must have all gone for the 10k! Last already, oh, this was too much to take!

Regardless, I kept pace with the two (older) walkers and two young kids who alternated between sprinting and walking. I have to be honest here, with the hills I resorted to the same poor strategy. My GPS data shows me that my run segments sometimes went up to 7mph! (OK, so much of my running was downhill, but still!) As a 12- to 13-minute-miler, this was much too fast. I probably would have run more if I hadn't tried to run so fast to make up for ground I lost walking the hills.

After a while, I passed the female walker (downhill, of course). She shouted, "You go, girl!" My brain didn't function well enough to think of intelligent answer, so I just grinned and laughed.

After a while, I caught up with the two children. At first, everytime I got close, they set off in a short run. Eventually, I guess, they realized that that wasn't going to work and I ended up passing them too. Woohoo! Take your victories where they come, I always say.

Here comes my only complaint: shortly after this, I sprinted down a steep hill, turned right, and was already at the chute! Oh, no! I typically sprint the last 400-500 feet, and I didn't get the chance! So, my time is probably a little shy of what it may have been. But, not bad. I aimed for sub-25 minutes. I was still sub-26 minutes. (I missed the official time, but my Garmin says 25:25.)

Considering the higher elevation and the hilly route, I'm really not disappointed at all in my time. I sat for a while, clapped as the two kids and the walker came in. I wasn't last, after all. Well, good for me. I waited a while for the 10k'ers to finish, but didn't see them come so I went inside, went to the restroom, and grabbed some refreshments.

When I went back out, I saw walkers still finishing! Oh, wow! I learned later that the male walker in front of me was the first place male walker and the woman behind me was the first place female walker. I had really misjuded my place!

OK, ready for this? I finished first in my age group! Now for the punch line: There were two people in my age group! So, there was at least one runner behind me. Wow. I didn't get the railroad tie they were giving away as awards. There's something for authenticity, I think, so I can't get accept award for only beating one other person. (Don't worry, none of the winners before me were there, so they didn't notice me not coming up to claim my award). Besides, I have what I needed: I wasn't last overall, and I wasn't even last for my age (and gender) group!

To the best of what I can figure, I came in 10th out of 11 registered runners, though I think some walkers ran for at least a little at the beginning. (I was told I'd be lynched if I tried that!) For what it's worth: the top walkers never ran.

Sure, I didn't run the whole way, but after seeing those extreme trail-runners walking, I don't have a problem with walking breaks on hills. So, I have a snazzy t-shirt and my first official race number. Most importantly: I have the experience and had a great time. Now, to get to that first 5k...

Friday, August 25, 2006

Cue the Theme from Chariots of Fire

OK, tomorrow morning's the morning. My first official run. I've talked about it nearly incessantly with friends and coworkers. My roommate looks more and more nauseated every time I mention tomorrow's race. What fun!

There's no doubt in my mind that I'll finish. I'm even okay with finishing last. In fact, I expect it. My biggest fear is that I'll finish ten minutes behind the second-to-last person!

I think I've gotten everything ready. The forecast for the official event start time is 53 degrees. That's actually a little cooler than when I run in the early morning, so I guess I'll dress similar to how I do then. The difference is that the sun will be out, so I'll probably be a little warmer. Oh, the agony. Well, I'll bring clothing options with me so I can do a quick-change if I see everyone else in shorts instead of tights. I'll trust that they know something I don't.

In addition to the clothes and shoes, I've got my Garmin/HRM, sunscreen, an extra hair tie, a vented hat, and safety pins. On the advice of the experienced, I'll be there about an hour early, get my race packet (still disappointed that they didn't send it out to me), put my race number on the FRONT, get in line for the potty early, and start at the back (of the runners). I'll also be sure to warm up gently before the race, of course. Nobody online mentioned it, but I'll also bring a change of clothing for after the race. Thanks for the good idea, Sam.

Alright, I guess it's bed time. We atheletes need our rest, you know.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Tapering, Carbo-Loading and the 11 Hour Work Day

This morning - for the third day in a row, I'll have you notice - I got up shortly after 4:00. I went out with the intention to run a nice, slow, easy mile. It's probably unnecessary, but I decided to do a little mini-taper before Saturday's organized run. This is the first time I ran without checking my Garmin every thirty seconds. I knew the route, and the running came SO easily that I just ran without constantly thinking about my speed, progress, or distance.

In the end, I ran 1.49 miles in 19:40, for an average pace of 13:11 min/mile. Perfect. Really! For a slow, easy run, I couldn't ask for more. For how easy it was, I seriously thought that when I looked at the data I'd find out I ran over 15 minute miles!

Since I'm tapering, I figured I should also do some Carbo-loading. (I know, I know, it's really only for athletes doing endurance events of over 90 minutes, but I'll pretend anyway.) So, after researching, I set a goal of having 70% of today's and tomorrow's calories come from carbs. I would also eat at, or around, maintenance.

Breakfast was perfect.

The end.

Oh, you're still here? Ahem. Well, then. Truth is, things are crazy. School starts on Monday and there are TONS of things to do before then. Breakfast was at 6:00, and I didn't eat again until 11:30 despite constant labor. All I could do was go through a drive-thru and eat on the way to the conference across town that I had to be at by 12:00. McD's it was. Famished, I ordered 2 cheeseburgers, large fries and a large diet coke. I ate (inhaled) one icky cheeseburger and a handful of fries. When I arrived, I left the rest in the bag on a trash can, hoping someone needy would find it.

The next time I ate? About 7:00. I worked eleven hours straight today. Don't even think about asking me to cook dinner. Chinese food it was. TOO MUCH Chinese food. I'll regret this tomorrow. What am I talking about? I regret it now! My calories actually are surprisingly OK. I'm only 300 calories above maintenance, which I can live with. The worst part: 40% of my calories today are from fat! Ucky!

If you listen closely, you might be able to hear my stomach churning unhappily as you read this.

Now, I'll end with a happy note. Here's the fortune cookie I got: "Your dreams are never silly; depend on them to guide you." Nice. New rule: From now on, I'm going to eat my fortune cookie first.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Review of Garmin Forerunner 305 + Comparison with 301

OK, I know you all have been waiting with bated breath for my review, and after posting mini-plugs for other gear I decided to get my act together and post my review for my new Garmin Forerunner 305, including comparing it to my wounded 301. And, being stuck at home as I am every Wednesday, I figured now was as good a time as any.

Warning: this is the first product review I'm attempting, so it will probably ramble with no apparent organization. Yes, just like everything else I write.

First I have to make a correction to something I said before: the new 305 is NOT heavier than the 301. I just weighed them both on my digital scale, and discovered that the new one is 4 grams lighter than the old one. I'm genuinely surprised, as the 305 still feels heavier to me!

On the note of size, I'd say they're about the same overall, but the narrower, more watch-like look of the 305 makes it much more attractive on the wrist. It also looks better when strapped to my bicycle's handlebars; it could almost pass for a typical cyclocomputer. However, be aware that the 305 does not come with the nice foam kit for mounting the watch to the handlebars. You could probably work around this, but I feel lucky that I can use the materials that came with my 301.

At first I thought I'd prefer the velcro band of the former model, but the change to a rubber(?) band with a buckle is an improvement. Overall, it's a much classier-looking unit.

Though you'll typically have your heart rate (HR) chest-strap within close vicinity to the unit, I have noticed an improved connection between the two parts, as I'm able to separate them more than before and not lose HR signal. It also picks up the HR much more quickly than the older model. This is nice.

Also, the button placement is much better on the 305. It took some time to get used to, and I thought I'd hate it at first, but I love the fact that I don't accidentally press pause or, worse yet, lap when merely adjusting the unit's placement.

I haven't used the available training feature with which the Garmin can beep (read: yell) at you for training at too high or too low (ha!) a HR since over a year ago when the 301 wouldn't let me run for more than twenty seconds without screaming - I mean beeping - at me, even after long walking breaks. However, I'll pass on that many people are annoyed that the 305 doesn't emit two different alarms when your heart rate (or speed) is two high versus two low, forcing you to look at the unit to decide whether to speed up or slow down. Again, I have no experience with this, but it seems to me that this is a pretty valuable feature that the 305 appears to be lacking.

It comes with the same disappointing software as the 301, so there's no difference in planning advanced workouts or reviewing past workouts. Side note: if you have a GPS, be sure to check out SportTracks, a fabulous piece of software. It's currently donation-ware, and I'm definately donating.

Here's a big complaint with advanced workouts: the new menu system makes it HARDER to get to "today's workouts" than before. Why, oh why did they do this? If I planned on doing a particular workout today so much that I scheduled it in the training software, I shouldn't have to wade through numerous menus to get there. In fact, there should be a key-combination shortcut there!

I'm a bit disappointed and concerned with the new charging/docking system. I suppose they did it in order to make the unit waterproof, but I'm worried about the connections wearing out. I'm also a bit annoyed that I have to carry the dock around with me if I want to be able to charge it from any USB cable with an appropriate jack. Sure, the docking cradle is pretty small, but it's an extra hassle.

I'll say that, despite my trail-running fiasco in the pretty heavily-wooded Lassen area, the GPS reception is much improved. It also picks up adequate satellite signal more rapidly. It's obviously not perfect, but no small GPS unit ever will be. Altitude calculation is not improved, but let's face it: GPS is the worst way to determine altitude. If you want to know altitude, get a GPS with an altimeter/barometer.

If you're upgrading from a previous model, I'll warn you: you'll be annoyed with the software. I expected to just tell the training software to change the "user" of the 301 to using the 305. It refused. Instead, I had to create a new user, export all the workouts and history from the old user and import it to the new user. Shabby programming, in my opinion, forcing an unnecessary work-around.

Finally, the display on the 305 was poorly thought out. Others have said this. On the 301, while you have pace and some other data as the main display, you could read your HR in the upper right corner in smaller font. Let me emphasize: you could read your HR. On the new model, despite the fact that the screen is virtually the same size, they've made the font so small you'll think you're going blind. You can change the display options to work around it but, again, you shouldn't have to.

I am considering getting the optional cadence sensor, which is only compatible with the 205 and 305, so this may be a significant benefit to the new model for cyclists. A foot pod is in the works, but I'm very disappointed with its reported limited function.

So, overall, I'm very happy with the 305. I still wouldn't have upgraded from the 301 if I didn't have to, and wouldn't recommend current users of the 301 upgrade unless they have particular needs, because I feel the improvements really don't warrant the extra money, especially when taking the annoyances into consideration.

So Far, So Good

OK, day number two of having to get up at a respectable hour, having to look like a decent human being by a particular time, and having to be at work, and I again got up again shortly after 4:00. (Go, me!) Realizing that I had to be at the school earlier than I had planned and had some prep to do even before then, I gave myself "permission" not to do the yoga I would. (Oh, yeah, I need to change my workout schedule on the sidebar. I'll do that soon.)

Surprisingly, I went ahead and did the "shortest" of my yoga anyway (25 minutes). Yay for me! Tomorrow morning I'll do a short run since I'm racing (ha!) on Saturday. (I've been inviting people to come watch me pant and crawl across the finish line, but warning them to be prepared to wait about ten minutes after everyone else finishes.)

On another note, I'll confess: I was surprised that no one commented on my weight loss yesterday. You'd figure that, after two and a half months of vacation, people would notice a weight drop of 25 pounds. Well, today a couple of people commented. Interestingly, one person, instead of commenting on my weight loss, told me that my top was flattering. Well, I'm sure the shirt I've had for well over a year is much more flattering now than it was back a few months! (I thought.) And, thanks. (I said.)

I know, I know, I shouldn't even feed off of comments like this, or wonder about the lack thereof. This is more about fitness and quality of life than vanity, after all. But, you do have to realize that I'm only human, and I have the typical frail ego that feeds quite hungrily off of compliments. I don't think I'm alone in this.

No, I'm not fishing for compliments here, especially because I haven't posted a recent picture. But, maybe you could consider going out of your way to compliment someone during your day tomorrow. I'll do the same. Just a thought.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sweet Morning Darkness

It was dark. Very, very dark. And I'll tell you about it at the bottom. First, I've got to catch up for the past two days.

Sunday: we went on a trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park. It was quite beautiful, and I enjoyed a run and a ride... sort of. First, I ran. Simple enough, I thought. We're staying at a lake, and I'll go running around the lake. Then, when I almost made it to the other side after just my five minute warm-up, I realized I'd have to rethink my plan. I took a trail, but that went almost straight uphill, so I certainly wasn't going to run that! So, between various wanderings, I jog-walk-hiked for about 25 minutes. But, I really did get a taste of the draw to trail-running when running downhill! I might have to really give that a shot one day. Reasonable distances, of course.

My Garmin flipped, too, claiming that I went absolutely no distance for my first fifteen minutes. Then, suddenly, it told me that my workout was done, because I had traveled over five miles! (No, no I didn't.)

Next, I went for a ride. Haha! Out of the campground, I had two choices: uphill or downhill. Not being a [complete] idiot, I figured I'd better go uphill first. Less than five minutes and half a mile into my ride, I thought about calling it quits, but figured there was no way I could return to the campground after less than ten minutes on the bike! (Probably less than six minutes, because I'd just cruise downhill.)

After some more climbing, I looked at my Garmin (working OK on the road) and saw I had gone 0.91 miles. OK, I could make it to 1 whole mile and then turn around. After negotiating a few more times (and taking a few long picture-taking breaks), I made it a little more than three miles out (and over 600 feet straight up) and decided to turn around when I realized I'd crested. Whee! The ride down was fun! I only hit 33 mph on the way down, but what exhiliration. And, what fun to know that I had conquered a - for me - monster hill! I shouted about my accomplishment to the unhearing world and even whooped once or twice. And, OK, I only averaged a little over 12 mph not including stops, but so what. That was hard! All three photos in this entry are from that bike ride. I LOVE the shot I got of the clouds! (Saved for last at the bottom.)

Yesterday: I rested. (Hey, work started today, so I deserved another recharge day).

Today: I got up at 4:15 and ran. For the first time, I completed my 2.5 miles without walking. Oh, it was hard. When I started, I thought, "This is wonderful. It's actually cold, it's beautifully quiet, I have solitude and the stars, and I'll definately make it the whole way. After the first mile, my confidence began to waver. In fact, I began negotiations - if you make it 2 miles, you can walk from there. You have to do 2 miles, because that's what you're doing Saturday. Then - do 2.25 miles, because you've done that before, so you can do it again. Finally, I tricked myself to complete the whole 2.5 miles, even "sprinting" the final 400 feet. (Sprinting here means a whopping 6 to 7 mph). Woohoo!

Sure, it took me 32:19 to run my 2.5 miles, for an average pace of 12:56. But, hey, I'm still sub-13-minute miles. That's not too shabby for a fat chick, I think. (Please don't correct me if I'm wrong. Grant me this bubble.)

Lessons learned on today's run: it's very, very, VERY dark when there's a new moon just two days away. It's also very beautiful. I briefly glanced at the stars (no stopping!) and marveled. Beyond that: wear gloves when it's cold! My hands were warm at the end, but for much of my run my legs were too warm and my hands were too cold. That brings me to my last lesson: wear running tights, not pants, when the temperature is in the 50's. I went shopping today and took care of both the tights and the gloves (as well as a few other not-needed-necessities, of course).

I should probably mention that I took precautions for running in the dark. I ran with a lit red armband (Nite Ize) and a newer addition to gear: my Lite & Motion hat with an LED. Wow, that LED is almost as good as the heavy flashlights I used as a child! I expected it only to be good enough so that others could see me, but it really worked as a flashlight on my head! Oh, and my shiny-new Road ID also got its first taste of sweat today. It's very nice, and I much prefer it to carrying around my driver's license.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


No happy post today. Sorry. I woke up this morning and decided to skip the 5 mile hike I had planned to do with the Sierra Club. Then, after I realized that I could ride and/or run today, I procrastinated my way around those.

I've also been eating poorly today. No absolute junk, but nothing really good, either. I've also eaten a full 1,000 calories above maintenance. Ugh.

It's just a temporary funk, I'm sure, and tomorrow's another day.

FYI: Since I'm going on a trip tomorrow, there won't be any new posts until Monday or Tuesday.

Friday, August 18, 2006

I've got lights!

OK, after a recent ride in which I was caught out in the dark/dusk without lights, I decided to buy a decent set of headlights and a good taillight. The set I got, by Sigma, seems decent enough for riding out in the true dark, and as a bonus: it came with a little LED light which I can carry when I'm "at risk" of being out in the dark but I don't plan on it.

The girl who helped me while I was picking out lights was cute. There I am, looking at the shop's higher-end halogen lights when I ask her opinion. She holds up a little pen-sized light and tells me that it's popular. Yeah, I'm sure it is, but it's not quite what I'm looking for, is it? :)

I haven't tested out the "real" headlights yet. I'll give an opinion after I do. (Speaking of which, I still haven't done that Garmin 305 review yet...)

Well, it was a short ride today up in the North Valleys. 11.88 miles in about 47 minutes. Average pace: 15 mph. The hills really felt harder today, though. I don't know - I'm just a bit more tired than average lately. It could be my food choices... I'll have to try tightening my nutrition and see if I feel better.

Ah, and I almost forgot, I want to note my "position" at bikejournal.comI'm currently in position 3,658. This is a pretty cool site, by the way, and you can be competitive... kind of. Unfortunately, you're a bit lost in a sea of other riders and it's difficult to really develop a competitive streak against so many other names. Nevertheless, it's fun to play with. Oh, and I am angry at Buggs. He/she is the only name I've noticed and remembered, and he/she really left me in the dust recently! It's not over yet, though...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Week 7's a Killer!

I don't know, I'm just having such difficulty with week 7. It should be challenging, but do-able. I've done 2.25 miles without stopping/walking - why can't I run 2.5 without stopping/walking? I did run in the afternoon again, so that could be a problem, but I don't think it was just the heat. Anyway, I've decided that I'll stick with the week 7 run until I can do it without walking on three separate runs. I'll either get there because I've gotten better, or I'll get there because I'm utterly bored, but either way, I'll do it eventually!

Today's run (not including warm-up and cool-down) was 2.5 miles in 32:21, which makes an average pace of 12:56. Considering the walking breaks, that's not too bad.

Instead of weight training today, Io did yoga at home again for the first time all summer. I just love "Inhale" with Steve Ross! It's difficult, and child pose is my friend even when the people on the show are doing
half moon pose, but it's simply enjoyable. Certainly, I won't replace all of my weight training with yoga, and the show could never replace yoga class where an instructor can fix my errors, but it's a nice change of pace.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Calorie burning machine

There's a saying - you either eat to ride or ride to eat. Today I rode (and hiked) to eat. And boy, did I enjoy it. I had a real coke and in-n-out... and I still have a healthy 1200+ calorie deficit for today! (Yeah, I know, you purists are cringing at the thought of those empty and/or greasy calories, but come on - how wonderful to have a cheat day without cheating!)

So, today's ride:over 27 flat miles along the river. You see that picture? You'll probably have to click on it to enlarge it, but look at the turquoise wavy line with the arrows on it. That's the route I did today. I went edge to edge in Reno proper. Kind of cool, eh? (I started somewhere in the middle, went West to one end, then East to the other end, then West again to get back to start.) I only went 14.3 mph, but I had to share most of my route with other riders and walkers, and even a fisherman who suddenly decided to cross the route, causing us to almost collide!

Speaking of collisions, there's a bee out there that's either deceased or really scared of bicycles. As I was riding along, I felt a thwack! and figured a really big bug hit my upper arm. When it wasn't getting any better, I saw a bee on my arm, getting ready to sting me (I don't think it actually stung me, but who knows). I may have been a bit forceful when I brushed it off. Poor bee, what a way to go.

This evening I joined the Sierra Club, and we went to the Mt. Rose waterfall. It was about a four mile hike, and we absolutely booked! (The leader was trying to beat sundown.) Time for another lesson: it's cold at 9,000 feet! I showed up in my normal shorts and wicking t-shirt, stepped out of my car, and realized my mistake immediately! It's at least a good thing that I didn't wear my normal Tuesday-night tank top. But, really, the irony: the most over-prepared hiker finds herself in high-altitude cold without a jacket. Ah, well, next time I'll know better.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Then again, maybe not...

A few days ago, I had a brilliant idea. Rather than running on the streets of my neighborhood and the nearby industrial area, I'd take off on a dirt road that starts not too far from my house. Sure, why not?

Once on the dirt road, I notice a pile of clothing on the ground. Hmmm... And then a second pile of clothing, this pile having a woman's bathing suit in it - well, probably just some trash that got blown around. Next, a toothbrush lying on the ground. Yeah, I started to think the same thing you're thinking. It wasn't clear until I turned around to come back and saw an encampment made out of a blue tarp under the bushes.

Yeah, maybe this isn't the place to be running on a regular basis. Don't get me wrong; I have nothing but sympathy for the homeless, but I'm not an idiot. I was a bit surprised because we're pretty far from downtown, where most homeless live, but I later realized that this spot is really close to the bus route.

So, back to pounding the pavement, except for those times that I drive to a local trail good for running.

Today was a really tough run, though. In fact, I ended up walking most of the 2.5 miles + warm-up and cooldown. At one point, I figured that if I can't run, I might as well go home early, but decided that I came out to go 2.5 miles, and I was going to go 2.5 miles, even if I walked it. So, I alternated running and walking to my comfort level, completing the 2.5 miles in a rather depressing 38 minutes. But, I did finish. That counts for something, right?

After long walking breaks, I'd resume running, but I'd be forced to go back to walking very quickly. I don't think that it was hot, but my legs were just shot, and I felt miserable. I developed a headache in short order, and even felt nauseated while trying to really push myself. It could be that 72 degrees is too hot for me without shade, or it could be that I just do much better on an empty stomach. I'll have to figure it out eventually.

So, two steps forward, one step back. This one just felt like three steps.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sunday Stats - 8/13

The piper does not take checks. But, sometimes he'll cut you a discount.

Current 5-day average weight: 209.6 lb.
Total loss this week: 0.5 lb.

Current 8-point total size: 212.5 in.
Total loss this week: 1.25 in.

Average daily calories in/out: 2294/2791
Average macronutrients (P%/F%/C%) : 18/35/46

Full disclosure time: In addition to taking two days off from exercising/training, I, um... well, let's put it this way: when I'm writing into the wee hours of the night, there's just a need for Jack in the Box. Working late and Jack's chicken strips. Somehow they just go together like peanut butter and jelly. This peanut butter and jelly-ness continued on for the next 36 hours, through some AM/PM stops and a Burger King stop.

Luckily, I have a much healthier mentality to my diet/nutrition and weight loss these days. If I have a day (or two) here and there where I take in too many calories, it's no big deal. I won't even bother "making up for it", because that'll just frustrate me. I have to be reasonable, though, and know that I'm not going to enjoy the same weight loss. And, I may have weight gain. That's OK. I'll pay the piper and go on with other, healthier days.

You just don't know how big an improvement this was over other days where I'd just chuck it all and dive into cheetos, Haagan Dazs, and fast-food living if I slipped up just a teenie bit.

All in all, I don't mind "only" losing a half pound this week. Additionally, I'm pleasantly surprised at the loss in size. Life is good.

Vengance - Or, at least, Improvement.

OK, first some background: On April 29th of this year, I joined a bike ride sponsored by the local school district's wellness program. I wore jeans, weighed 226.5 pounds, and rode my "comfort" bike. I had ridden along the river before, and figured I'd be fine for a semi-flat ride.

Sure, I was fine... for the first five minutes. After that I was passed in short order by every single other rider. Have you ever seen those cartoons where a ship is sailing away and gets covered up by a wave once in a while? Every time you see the ship between waves, it gets smaller and smaller as it disappears on the horizon? That's how I felt. With every successive hill, those other riders were getting further and further away. I was frustrated, miserable, and - let's face it - angry. Angry at myself, and angry at the leader for abandoning me. I know; he didn't, and it was impossible to get lost. It just really felt like I was left for dead or, at least, impossibly slow.

Today I revisited the scene of my despair. OK, the jeans have been replaced by a cute bike outfit, I have lightened my personal load by about 16 pounds, and the comfort bike has been replaced by a much more appropriate Iron Horse. But still, that can't account for all of this. Let's face it - I'm stronger and healthier.

Then: 9.5 miles with some rolling hills in 50 minutes; average speed of 11.3 mph. (It's also important to note that I was working my butt off trying to keep up with them.)

Now: those same miles in 35 minutes; average speed of 15.7 mph. I may have been able to go a little faster if I really wanted to.

Ah, how sweet it is. After finishing the loop I did back then, I grabbed my camera and rolled back through the loop in the opposite direction, completing the 19 mile double-loop in about 1:12. I'll admit, those hills are still a bit challenging to me, and are even harder from the other side, but I've improved significantly, and now have cold, hard evidence. Yay, me!

On the way back, I snapped some picures so I could show you the beautiful view from the hilly portion. Sure, much of Nevada may be desert, but look at what beauty lies within 20 minutes of Reno. Also, speaking of pictures, I finally set up a flickr account. The link to my flickr page is listed on the right, under "links".

Oh, and unless someone complains (haha), I'm dropping the run and ride summaries at the bottom of entries, and including anything note-worthy in the narratives.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

... and I'm a recovering data addict.

OK, so before I get to today's hike, I have quite a bit of updating to do. I'm going to skip the stats for previous days. If, when I'm looking back at this entry years from now I really want to know what I did with numerical clarity, I've got plenty of places to go.

So, what have I done since we last 'spoke'? Well, Tuesday I biked a wonderful 20+ miles, then hiked up at Galena creek with the Sierra club. A full day. Then, I started on that paper I told you about.

Wednesday I did... nothing. Except type.

Thursday I did... nothing. Except let my brain recover from typing.

One day I'll stop procrastinating on papers/reports. Really. The problem is just that I keep getting away with it! Well, except for some stress and bags under my eyes. (Oh, and if my professor for this course happens to be reading this in some bizarre coincidence, I'm talking about another paper for another course. Really. You see nothing here.) (Do Jedi mind tricks work over blogs?)

OK, so, on Friday... my Garmin's batteries were dead! Oh, heavens! I made it to the other side of the smoke from a nearby fire, all ready to run and cycle, and my Garmin is dead? What to do? Seriously, I'm a data addict. It actually ran through my head to pack it all up and go home, just because I wouldn't have the semi-exact data that my GPS gives. I have issues.

So, what did I do? Luckily, I had run that river path before. I did exactly the route I was unable to successfully complete last Friday... slightly more successfully, but not perfectly. Simple enough. Hey - my watch has a timer, right? Su'nough. I did it old school, even though I've never run without my GPS. Seriously, I think I had my Garmin before I ever ran last year! No wonder I almost teared up when my 301 broke! (Speaking of tearing up, I'm missing my 30gb iPod video. I lost/misplaced/had it taken yesterday afternoon. Talk about withdrawl!)

Moving on. After my run, I biked, timed my ride, and figured out how far I went using the wonders of mapping software on the internet. Though it has its annoying quirks, and is missing some really basic features, I really like
toporoute.com , just because it'll follow roads for you so you don't have to click the map 30 times to trace a half mile on a winding road.

OK, so I cheated and got all the data I wanted without my Garmin, but c'mon - I'm making baby steps here.

So today? I made sure the Garmin was completely charged for today's hike to Marlette Lake. :) I don't know why, it always has a different length for hikes than the rangers and map guides have. So, I'll go with the official book's info: 10 mile round-trip, 900 feet elevation gain, total hiking: 4 hours, 15 minutes.

Yes, you read that correctly. I hiked ten miles today. Another personal milestone... so to speak. I'll tell you, I had a hard time on the way up. More than once I thought about the fact that I'd still have to make it back to the car and wondered if I might be better off turning around at the 2.5 mile mark... 3 mile mark... (OK, I can do one more mile) 4 mile mark... (Well, only one mile left). And hey - there's the lake!

Actually, I caught a glimpse of it before this shot. It's really a little special when you first view a destination lake. It's a little bit of a tada! moment, with the curtains being slowly unveiled. You can even pass other lakes, and it's nice, but nothing special. But the moment the clearing opens up to your destination, well... that's something!

My feet ache, of course, and I'm not looking forward to those first few steps tomorrow morning. (Plantar Fasciitis is almost always worst in the morning, after the calves and tendons tighten up overnight.) But, I think even my feet are getting conditioned to handling longer and harder hikes. Yay!

OK, I think I've tortured you with enough babble. You are still reading, right? OK, as your reward, here are two more pictures. One's another view of Marlette Lake, and the other has a [short] story benind it. I saw a squirrel climbing a tree, but then he (she?) ran to the other side when he saw me. I tried to sneak up on it, hoping I could catch a picture from the other side. Just when I gave up and went back to plodding along, I saw him. Unfortunately, he saw me, too! He panicked, fled, and dropped his - lunch? I felt horrible. The least I could do is take a picture of his lost booty. I've never seen a pine cone stripped like this. It's a bit interesting, I think. Your mileage may vary.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


No, I haven't fallen off of the face of the earth. Nor have I fallen into a huge vat of Ben 'n' Jerry's. I've just been paying the price for procrastinating on a written assignment for a graduate course I took over the summer. I'll be back tomorrow. Also, I still have to log Tuesday's bike ride and hike.

Until later...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Decisions, decisions...

I had a decision to make this morning: start over at the beginning of week 6 in the C25K or give day 3 another attempt. I chose the latter, and finished, but it was slow and I struggled a little. I'm wondering whether I'm really ready to do week 7 on Wednesday. (Today I ran for 2.25 miles without stopping. Week 7 has me running 2.5 miles without stopping.)

I'm really motivated to finish the program before school starts on August 23 but I don't want to push myself too hard. I made the decision that, once school starts, I'll take a month off from "training". Meaning that I'll run and cycle enough to maintain current levels, but I won't push for improvement. I'm already questioning that decision, but I think I'll be under enough mental and physical stress during the first month that I don't want to ask my body to accept any increased load. This is a bit of a pre-emptive strike against burn-out while returning to work. I'm not sure what I'll do about weight training and yoga, though. It seems difficult to not progress in those.

So, decisions, decisions. Perhaps I'll "unofficially" attempt the 2.5 miles and, if I need to stop at 2.25 miles, I'll just pretend I meant to do the shorter run all along. Yeah, that'll work, and I may just surprise myself.

Yoga class was very... productive today. I was beginning to wonder. The instructor had "adjusted" my poses so little during the last few classes that I developed a few theories.

a) I am amazingly close to perfect after just one tough class
b) I am so amazingly out of whack that she doesn't know what to do with me
c) I am so amazingly sweaty when yoga-ing that she can't stand to adjust me (well, it gets hot!)
d) I am surrounded by more novicy-novices that need her attention more than me so I'm able to blend in

Ok, well it's clear that the answer is mostly d, with a little bit of a and b mixed in every once in a while. I'll pretend it's not c!

Anyway, today took care of it, and she dashed any and all illusions of grandeur that I may have had. Of course, I'm very happy to receive criticism... it's just that sometimes the adjustments seem so impossible to follow.

"Yeah, I can bend that way - if you don't mind staying there and continuing to pull my elbows. Because the instant you let go, they're just going to spring back. In fact, when you do let go, you might want to get out of the way quickly. Just in case."

Today's Run: 2.25 miles in 28:45. Pace: 12:48. Flat course. (Now that I'm running solidly without walking breaks, I'm no longer going to include the warm-up and cool-down times and distances in the totals.)

Oh, and my bike shop seems to have found the problem with my bike cable! It's not my fault! It's not their fault, either, though they apologized repeatedly. In any case, it seems to be fixed... now I only have to hope that what they found to be the problem really was the problem!