Monday, July 31, 2006

The laughing wanna-be-yogi

OK, normally when I'm doing Ashtanga (the kick-butt branch of yoga), I'm in exquisite agony. That's what I love, though. There is no doubt in my mind: I am building muscle, endurance, flexibility, and balance. I can't not be, as long as I'm trying my hardest.

Every once in a while, however, I become fondly convinced that my instructor has lost it. "Push your chest towards your toes, while pushing your shoulders back."

Um... do you realize that my chest and shoulders are relatively attached? Where one goes, the other can't help but follow?

Okay, okay, I know what they mean, but sometimes you just have to laugh.

(This is a big improvement, by the way. I've had to temper my determination and perfectionism after ending the first few classes so absolutely physically and emotionally drained that the slightest adjustment would put me in tears of frustrated exhaustion.)

On the flip side, I can't help but smile when she gives instruction for Forward Fold (think touching your toes, but more intently bending from the hips). She never fails to emphasize that our bellies should be pressing against our thighs. "No daylight," she'll admonish.

Yeah! I got that one down! Of course, the belly is actually getting in the way and preventing me from folding forward as much as I probably could otherwise, but man... no daylight indeed. I've mastered that.

Speaking of mastered, I'm mentioning just for the sake of it that I'm getting a bit better in coming down from Push-up Position. Before, I would *always* put my knees down before coming down. Now I'm not putting my knees down at all, but I am kind of flopping down onto my belly and chest at the last moment. (They are nicely padded, after all.) So, far from perfection, but much improved.

OK, my run today was pretty uneventful except for the wind. Man, wind is a bear. Whether running or cycling, wind is a force to be reckoned with. I just had to keep telling myself, "It's making me stronger, it's making me stronger, it's making me stronger." I just have to have faith that I wasn't lying.

Today's Run: 2.62 miles in 36:04. Overall pace: 13:45/mi. Flat course.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sunday Stats - 7/30

Current 5-day average weight: 213.2 lb.
Total loss this week: 1.3 lb.

Current 8-point total size: 214.5 in.
Total loss this week: 1 in.

Average daily calories in/out: 2371/2639
Average macronutrients (P%/F%/C%) : 23/33/42

Not too shabby for having two controlled cheat days. I guess my fantasy of "needing" to adjust my intake of calories upward is officially dashed. Darn reality.

I know it's just over this hill...

So, I cruised around our North Valleys today. Even after taking a tougher route to get there, I hit a particular hill and - instead of turning around like I did last time - climbed it. Part of my energy came from the belief that just over the hill is a connecting road that would make a perfect loop.

I was crestfallen when I saw the sign "pavement ends" - and the dirty, dirty evidence that the sign did not lie. So, I made a left and found another nice loop, even finding a surprise "nature study area" that I'll have to investigate later.

Truth be told, however, the dirt road probably saved me. When I got home and looked at the map, I realized that that connecting road "just over the hill" was still miles and miles and miles away! Well... lucky me that they hadn't completed that connection, eh?

Still, this was the longest ride I've taken thus far (not by much), and I feel like I really am getting much stronger and much better at climbing those hills.

Although, I'm still probably not safe from another conversation like I had recently with someone watching me struggle up a 6% grade hill.

"You're not one of those people who saves their gears, are you?"

"I'm already in the last gear. This is it. I'm not saving anything."


Absolute silence punctuated only by my gasping and panting.

Ah, well. You've got to start somewhere, right? And I still look at it this way: this excess weight is a fantastic training tool. When I drop it, I will shoot up those hills like a rocket!

Today's Ride: 23.09 miles in 1:43:58. Average speed: 13.3 mph. Total ascent: 1049', valley to peak: about 300'.

Hey, look! I've got pictures again! (And yes, I do wear a helmet, (sun)glasses, and a mirror. But I took them off in the hopes of a better picture. Looks like I should have left them on. :)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Two miles - woohoo!

OK, you're going to have to imagine me singing this to whatever tune you like, because let me tell you: I am singing this as I type.

I ran two miles without stopping.
I ran two miles without stopping.
I ran two miles, I ran two miles,
I ran two miles and I didn't stop!

I know, for most people this is nothing. For me? I don't think I've done this ever in my entire life! All the PE teachers I ever had are now knowingly nodding that I could have run a lot more in their classes. Even my sixth grade teacher (Mr. Sexton) whose advice to always sprint at the end of a run has stuck in my head all these years is now secretly vindicated. (Even though I probably never ran for more than five yards in his class.)

Two miles. Nice. That's the distance of the Virginia City race I'm registered for. I now know I can do it without stopping.

That almost makes up for my miserable bike ride afterward. It shouldn't have killed me, but it did. I know I've done more in the past, but the climbs just knocked me out. Granted one climb was looooonnnnggg. But that's not the one that tore me up. The shorter, steeper ones did. I even thought I did pretty well until I looked at the elevation profile (my Garmin let me down, so I had to use to figure it out. Hey, if it works, you can see my route here, and click on Distance/Elevation to see my pitiful ride.

Ah, well, then again: this ride DID follow a two mile run plus warm-up and cool-down. So, perhaps, I should be a little easier on myself. And, thinking of where I was not so long ago, I should really be proud of myself for doing this without stopping. Really, when considering the extra 70-80 pounds I'm lugging around, I conquered some monster hills! Yeah, I rocked! OK, maybe rocked is a little much, but I didn't suck! Yeah! No sucking here, dammit!

Today's Run: 2.59 miles in 34:01. Overall pace: 13:09/mi. Flat course. (Check this out: without counting the warm-up and cool-down, I went 2.0 miles in 24:04. That's an average running pace of 12:02/mi. Not too shabby, considering!)

Today's Ride: 8.16 miles in 41:33. Average speed: 11.80 mph. (For the record, there were stop signs and stop lights on this route.) Total elevation gain: about 400'.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Lazy Day

I'm just having a lazy day today. Got to bed late last night, so I slept in and didn't get up early enough to exercise before the heat. That's OK, I decided, I'll go in the afternoon... or, evening. Or, tomorrow.

OK, so today became an unplanned recharge day.

I also had some Chinese food today for a controlled cheat, which resulted in fast, uncomfortable bloat. Yech. One day I'll learn.

I was considering joining the LBC for a long ride and picnic tomorrow, but I found out that it's intended for intermediates and above. So.... I think I'll pass. Not sure what I'll do instead. I'll figure it out tomorrow. I could run and weight train or run and hike alone, and then join the LBC for the standard slow Sunday ride. Hmmm...

I'll blame today's bleh-ness on a slightly late and slightly painful visit from Aunt Flo, but I'm not sure that that's exactly accurate or honest. (I know, that was really too much information for you, my dear unassuming reader, but you'll have to sometimes tolerate these sorts of things since this is also a journal for my own use).

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I didn't put down the shovel.

OK, a little background: when I see and hear someone digging themselves into a figurative hole (like the husband trying to make up for a "isn't that skirt a little tight" comment by offering to start taking her to the gym), I often advise him or her to, "Put down the shovel and step away from the hole."

Oh, if only I would heed my own advice. I was so excited to randomly find a newly completed connector street from the back of our community that I went ahead and took the connecting street to the next community. All the way down the hill (did you catch that? DOWN the hill...), I thought, "What am I doing?" But I kept going. So I hit the next community and turned South, thinking that a particular big loop would be gentler somehow, don't ask me how or why.

I continued going downhill. Oh. Hmm. Well. Why stop now? Finally, at the bottom, I headed back towards home. Up. Hill. Took a break. It's amazing how there's no cooling breeze when you're going so slowly. It was much cooler just a little while ago. Started again. Does my GPS really say I'm going 3.5 miles per hour?!? Took another break. At least it's pretty. Started again and nearly fell over just trying to clip in. Twice.

I survived, though I lost count of how many more times I stopped, and really, once I got close to home, I could and should have kept going (but somewhere else this time) to add some distance, but I felt like I had accomplished enough for the morning. Besides, despite now having three different streets out of my homebase, there are still only two ways out: uphill and downhill. Neither looked good at the time.

Remember, kids: if you're not good at climbing hills, don't start a ride by cruising downhill at 35 mph. It's only asking for trouble.

No weight training today; I had a massage. ?Estoy pobrecita, no? Don't worry, I'll make up for it tomorrow. Oh, hey, did you notice? I finally figured out how to put up my weekly schedule in the sidebar. Take a look.

Today's ride: 11.95 miles in 1:00:21. Average speed: 11.9 mph. Total ascent: 1015', elevation change from valley to peak: 600'.

Yeah, OK, so maybe I wasn't Greased Lightning. But that's more climbing than I've ever done in a much shorter time span than my most similar ride. So there.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Morning run and what the ???'s up with my heart rate?

I don't know... I just can't get pictures uploaded anymore. I'll have to problem-solve that when I have more time.

Anyway, I had a pretty good run today. 3/4 of a mile without stopping? Been there, done that - for the first time today, at least. But I did it twice, for what that's worth. (Last time doing the program, I stopped shortly after completing 1/2 mile without stopping.) Though I should be intimidated about Friday's run with 2 miles without stopping, but I actually am looking forward to it. The only thing that will prevent me from running Friday is my left knee. It's starting to have some tinges of pain, but it hurts more when walking than when running. I'm icing it now as a precaution and if it's not better by Friday I think I'll have to give running a break.

My heart rate was really weird today. You'd know what I mean if you could see the graph... Oh, how nice it would be to be able to upload pictures... Anyway, it's a nice smooth line wavering between 160-170 while running, but when I did the walking portion, it fluctuated wildly between 134 and 220?!? I'd think it just shifted out of place, but it smooths out again during my second running portion. What the hey? Really weird.

Today's run: 2.65 miles in 37:22. Overall pace: 14:06/mi. Flat course.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Morning Ride in the High Desert

I got my behind out of bed early today (after all, I really don't "have" to do anything until noon or so - oh, how I'll miss summer break) and hopped on the bike around 7:00. I beat the heat just perfectly. I thought I was doing much better than the last time I tried this route, but I averaged a much slower speed. (But, boy, did I book on the way back downhill!) I also lost about a mile on my Garmin because I stopped to take pictures (which, for some reason I can't get to show up in this blog!!!) and forgot to start it again! Oh, when will they make these devices smart enough to know they should turn on even when I forget to turn them on?

For the past many years, I decided that I would stay and teach in Reno for about five years, then move somewhere where it's green in the Pacific Northwest. Well, I'm beginning to appreciate the beauty of the desert. (Additionally, I'm repeatedly being told by people or live and/or lived in the Northwest that the weather hinders enjoyment of outdoor activities. It does take rain to make things green, after all.)

Here in Reno, there are little forests, vast valleys, a beautiful river, and within driving distance... well, you name it, it's there. Heck, I can even learn to kayak when I'm ready (and I will be)! Plus, tons of California cycling and running events are within driving distance.

I may just stay here beyond my five-year plan.

Unfortunately, I had to cut my ride short, as my chain was rubbing against the front derailleur again, and I'm afraid of doing damage if I keep riding it like that. I wonder if it's something wrong with my riding and/or shifting style that causes this. It's the second time I've needed it to be readjusted. (They said it's really just the cable needing tightening, but same difference.)

Today's ride: 8.30 miles in 35:51. Average speed: 13.9 mph. Total ascent: 431', total elevation gain: about 190'.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Frankenstein's shake

No, I haven't taken up drinking pea soup in a glass. For today's breakfast and a cardio recovery shake, I used a free sample of something called 100% Greens & Whey. I knew it wouldn't be pretty because it's, well, green. So I went ahead and threw color-caution to the wind, adding another shake mix, a banana, strawberries, Coromega (orange omega-3 supplement), and blueberry yogurt.

Blind people would probably love this shake. It tasted great. I, however, wonder how I'll be able to pull the other half of the shake out of the fridge tomorrow and drink it without thinking, "It's alive! It's alive!". Do you see the little bits of thingies floating through?

In other news, I succeeded in getting up in time for a 7:00 morning run, but it was already too warm for my taste about half-way through.

I do have to say, it's fun trying to figure out what people are thinking when they not-so-subtly and not-so-briefly stare at me. Yesterday, for example, a man pulling out of a side street looked at me on my bicycle as if I had two heads. I don't have any active theories on what he was thinking.

But today, when a truck actually slowed down to get a better look at me stretching, I developed a list of possibilities:

a) Ew, look at that fat girl trying to exercise.
b) Wow, look at that beautiful plus-size woman exercising where we can enjoy the view.
c) Is she really wearing a skirt for running?
d) Wow, that skirt's a little short! (This last could be good or bad.)

All in all, however, I have to say: despite all my fears of being looked upon negatively, all I see are smiles around me. Another benefit of running.

Stats: 2.45 miles in 34:47. Overall pace: 14:12/mi. Flat course.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sunday Stats - 7/23

Current 5-day average weight: 214.5 lb.
Total loss this week: 2.4 lb.

Current 8-point total size: 215.5 in.
Total loss this week: 2 in.

Average daily calories in/out: 2295/2653
Average macronutrients (P%/F%/C%) : 21/33/47

Hmmm... that's a lot of weight loss for not a lot of caloric deficit. (Mathematically, I should have lost a little less than a pound.) Two possibilities: either I'm still catching up from that period where I was gaining (gaining!) weight despite a deficit, or I'm not giving enough credit for calorie burn for my activities.

I tend to undercount exercise. For example, I refuse to believe that I burned 879 calories on today's ride, so I pretended that I rode at only 12 mph and gave myself credit for 728 calories. I simply was not pushing myself that hard. (We won't even talk about the Garmin's ludicrous claim that I burned 1233 calories! The Garmin is known to be WAY off with calorie counts. [It's also known to underreport distance, but I like that.])

Well, I'll give it another week and if I'm still losing so much more quickly than I "should" be, I'll start trusting the actual calorie burn estimates more.

Verdi Ride with LBC

Despite aching feet (who needs feet to ride, anyway?) and bizarre dreams pointing to secret self-doubt, I joined the local bike club (LBC) for their Sunday Slower ride. We did what's apparently the staple for this particular day and time: the Verdi ride.

I did much better than the last time (solo). I'll confess that part of that may come from the push and drive of being in a group ride (and maybe a teenie bit of drafting), but I'll take the rest as credit for developing strength and stamina. Last time, I had to stop twice (once during a climb, and once at the summit of another climb). No stopping today! I also had a faster overall speed and a lower average heart rate. Yeehaw!

Unfortunately, I pushed "start" on my Garmin about a mile into the ride, so the numbers are a bit off.

Stats: 19.39 miles in 1:19:01. Average speed: 14.7 mph. Total ascent: 947', total elevation gain: about 350'.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Plantar Fasciitis and Bug Bites and Sunburn, Oh My!

And yet, it was wonderful. Go figure.

We did a wildflower hike today. Which means that most of the hike was painstakingly slow, but beautiful. (But don't dare ask me to identify a single wildflower or I will have to hurt you. The names went in one ear and out the other. I liked looking, though.)

We began at the Caron Pass Information Center off of Highway 88. We went up to Frog Lake, then Winnemucca Lake and had lunch. A few of us then continued on to Round Top Lake. Total distance: 6.28 miles. It's hard to say how long it took us. My garmin, after cutting out for auto-pauses, said we were on the move for over four and a half hours. Walking or standing around looking at flowers, that's a long time on the footsies. Total elevation gain: about 700'.

Hence the title. My Plantar Fasciitis is killing me (thank goodness the heels don't take any pressure when cycling as I'm joining the local bike club for their slower Sunday ride tomorrow), I've got some weird bug bites around my ankles (ant bites?), and I'm sunburned despite spraying sunscreen twice. Ugh!

The last mile down was pretty miserable because my feet absolute ached. I'll be paying for a while with the bug bites and sunburn.

Still, I wouldn't trade a minute of it.

Oh, and sorry for not having any wildflower pictures. I made the mistake of being frugal with battery power (forgot extras) and thinking I'd be able to zoom in on the flowers in more scenic shots. Um... don't try that yourself. Take close-ups.

Early morning runs: If you plan it, you can do it (at least once).

Surprising even myself, I did an early morning run. On a Saturday, no less!

When I went to bed, I told myself: at 4:00, you will wake up and go running.

At 4:00, I woke up. I don't mean that I woke up just enough to hit snooze, roll over, and go back to sleep. Well, sure, I did all those things, but I was much more awake. By 4:25, I realized that I was so awake that I may as well stop playing games with my alarm and go out and run. (That, and I negotiated with myself that if I didn't run today [because I recharged yesterday], I'd have to do week four yet again.)

It was wonderful. Hearing the crickets out the window, I decided to leave my ipod at home and run "pure". Sure, it was tough, especially because I went a little optimistic and included a very small hill which forced a short unplanned walk, but it was incredible. Started in the dark, ended in the morning light. Fantastic.

Stats: 2.60 miles in 37:44. Overall pace: 14:29/mi. Flat course with one small hill.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Oh, there's my school!

OK, I'm absolutely bushed (good!), so I'm not going to say much. My day began by getting up a little later than I should have to completely avoid the heat and leaving from my house and heading up towards my school (where I work). I was a bit intimidated by the first climb that I knew I'd have to take, and actually took a little side-route to kind of warm up. ("Warm up" in this context means "build courage before facing the hill".)

I then approached the hill which, unfortunately, comes right after a stop light. A teenie way up the hill, I veered into an empty parking lot to continue "warming up". I then returned and made it up the rest of the way. Tired, hot, and sweaty, but I did it without stopping or "warming up" again.

Then I was reminded that there are quite a few more (smaller) hills. Oh, yeah. Undaunted (hey, I already climbed the worst), I continued along, resting only at the top of one hill for a few moments (here, moments = minutes).

At one time, I looked up at a sign and realized, "Oh, this is the street for my school!" Don't get me wrong, I knew I would make it because it's only a little over five miles away. I was just surprised that I made it so "quickly". Turns out, it was a little under half an hour (yes, mathematicians, that's only about ten miles per hour, but I'm climbing most of the way). I could do a half-hour commute to work every day... I just have to figure out how to make myself presentable once at work. Our school doesn't have working showers.

Ah, well. I continued on and the lesson for today is this: construction trucks kick up a lot of dust. Yuck! At least I know that dust doesn't have any calories.

Stats: 14.61 miles in 59:53, Overall speed: 14.6 mph. Elevation gain: 200 feet. (Oh, my - is that all?), total ascent: 640 feet (that sounds much better!)

In the early evening I went to the gym and did my normal routine: 15 minutes on the elliptical, full-body weight routine (still unknown to you, but I'll fix that eventually), and some time on the stationary bike (only 12 minutes today - very, very easy).

OK, maybe I did write a bit more than I expected. One can babble quite a bit in exercise-induced delirium.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Oh, go slower. I get it now...

My, oh my. My alarm clock woke me up at 5:00 this morning, as I was planning on going out running before the heat. Little did I know that those blasted thunderclouds lingered all night long and insulated Reno enough that it was a balmy 74 degrees outside! OK, I can stand running in moderate temperatures during the day, but at 5:00? I just couldn't do that on principle.

So, after watching Eureka for a while (very good show, by the way), I went back to sleep. The cost of such luxury? I had to report back to the gym to do my running today. The treadmill has always been more difficult for me than running outside, and my trepidation was only increased by the fact that I was unable to complete a day from week 4 of the C25K last week.

So, I thought about it a bit. Why am I able to run a solid half mile outside, taking over six minutes, while I am unable to run five minutes on the treadmill. It's the speed, dummy! I hear over and over and over again on the coolrunning forums that speed kills newbies. Sure, I knew that, that's why I slowed down last week and tried to run the five minutes at 4.8 mph, rather than my typical treadmill speed of 5.0. But, if I look at my outside paces, I'm running at an average 4.7 mph (not counting walking). Hmmm... what if I slow the treadmill down a bit more?

Success! I did the three minute intervals at 4.8 mph, and the five minute intervals at 4.5 mph. Well, there ya go.

Additionally, I do my best to always keep the treadmill on a minimum of a .5% incline and, though I was seriously considering dropping down to no incline, I maintained the incline for the whole session. Double success!

After that, I did just fifteen minutes on the stationary bike, which doesn't count toward cycling mileage because I'm some sort of purist, I guess.

Stats: Oh. Well, I guess I won't count the treadmill mileage either today, because I lost the little slip of paper I wrote the details on. Oops.

One final note - I noticed that with the evidence of a comment I can no longer call you "my dear imaginary audience". I'll have to come up with something new... "my dear illustrious audience"? Hmmm... I'll have to think about that. Regardless, I have to say: thanks for the support!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hike: San Rafael by Basque Monument

Hard to believe these pictures are from Reno, isn't it? This is a lovely little canyon we (the Sierra Club) hiked in this evening. I've been there a few times, but never knew how far back the trail went. Wow. Absolutely beautiful. Of course, we had to share with mountain bikers, but since they helped build the trail, that's only fair. We went 3.7 miles in 1:43 with less than a 200 foot elevation change. It was a bit slow for such a flat hike, but considering that the heat wave hasn't broken yet, I didn't mind one bit.

No weight training today; my father needed help. I'll really have to make up for it on Thursday.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Do Bugs Have Calories?

I know I ate some bugs. I just know it, but I'm not counting any calories they may have given me; I'll count them as bonus protein. Regardless, here are two lessons I learned today: I need a stronger light if I'm going to do any cycling in the dark, and I'll never, ever, ride without glasses, no matter how dorky I look with clear suglass lenses. Possible bugs in the nostrils and mouth are bad enough. In my eyes? Perish the thought.

Now, on to today's activities. I trained at the Truckee River, beginning in Idlewild park and working west. I cycled right after I ran.

I completed another Week 4 run (from Cool Running's Couch to 5k) at possibly the slowest pace imaginable. The important point is that I completed it. It was deadly hot today, so I concentrated on monitoring my pace. I just didn't want to get slower than 4mph, and I didn't. Well, once or twice, perhaps. Stats: 2.51 miles in 36:52. Overall pace: 14:40/mi. Flat course. (I'm counting the walking parts, including the warm-up and cool-down.)

My intentionally easy ride is tough to measure today. My Garmin went a little bezerk. It claims I went over 24 miles in 38 minutes. Oh, my! Comparing it to the last time I did this ride, however, gives me much more reasonable numbers. Stats: 9.09 miles in 38:29. Overall speed: 14.17 mph. Flat course.

Oh, and I forgot one other lesson. Never, never ever, yell out, "On your right," even if they're over to the left and you're just trying to warn them that you'll be zipping by. I yelled it out, and they moved to the right! Argh, almost a crash, and it really would have been my fault, because I suppose they expected me to say, "On your left." I was just trying to be nice, really.

Finally, I should mention that I went out with clipless pedals today for the first time. Very nice. I can see how they really help you work in complete motions, though I'll have to confess that they surely did not make me improve as a cyclist. I'll have to consciously work on pulling as well as pushing before I can make that claim.

From a spiritual perspective, however, I must say that clipless pedals have a bit of a Zen influence. You're no longer a rider on a bicycle. You are part of the bicycle. You've connected with the machine, and become one with it. It's a nice feeling.

My First "Race"!

I signed up for my very first race today! It's the "Silver Run" in Virginia City on August 26. It's only two miles, so it'll be a good stepping stone for my first 5k, which I will undoubtedly sign up for soon.

I suspect that the 2-mile run is too small to have a Clydesdale/Athena category. And, sure enough, they don't have one, as far as I can tell. Of course, they didn't ask my age in the registration, so I won't be "categorized" until race day.

Oh, I can't wait!

Now... to find a bike event to sign up for...

Team Hoyt

Here is more information about Team Hoyt, the father-son team featured in the video "Can".

I'm going to look at this website whenever I feel like I can't do something, or feel as if I'm fighting a hopeless fight. Again, my accomplishments will always be dwarfed by theirs, but I'd say that even the "winners" of the triathalons and marathons that the Hoyts compete in come in second to these champions.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

I wept (true inspiration)

This video is absolutely incredible. It's called "Can", and you'll see why.

As a teacher and an aspiring athlete, I am simply awestruck. I am humbled in knowing that I will never achieve what they have achieved. And yet, this video will undoubtedly inspire and push the most jaded person to reach new personal heights. Have tissues handy.

Recharge Day (On the ninth day, she rested.)

So, the hardest thing I can do lately, or so it seems, is take rest days. I know you've only just met me, so it seems like all I've done is go on one lousy hike, but the truth is that I've exercised everyday for the past eight days, in some form or another.

Part of what bothers me, I suppose, is calling them "rest" days. So, from here on out, they'll be called "recharge" days. That sounds much better.

Now, before any critics out there begin to criticize that I'm not planning enough recharge days, please know that I'm trusting my crosstraining to give my body opportunity for "active recovery". If I cycle hard one day, I'll run the next. Different muscles, you see? In theory it should work. If and when it doesn't, it'll change.

Sunday Stats - 7/16

So, every Sunday I'll post some basic stats. Unfortunately, the easiest concrete numbers come from weight and size. Cardio health and strength gains will come from daily journaling.

I'll break down the unclear stats this time, my dear imaginary audience, but I won't break it down as thoroughly in the future.

Current 5-day average weight*: 216.9 lb.
Total loss this week: 1 lb.

Current 8-point total size**: 217.5 in.
Total loss this week: 1 in.

Average daily calories in/out: 2443/2939
Average macronutrients (P%/F%/C%) ***: 19/33/45

* - I average the current day's weight with the previous four days for a 5-day average. I hope that this lowers the freak-out margin due to natural weight fluctuations.
** - This is the total, in inches, of the measurements of my neck, bicep, forearm, chest, waist, hips, thigh, and calf. At this weight, trying to go by body fat percentage is pointless.
*** - I'm aiming for 20-25% of calories from protein, 25-30% from fat, and the rest from carbs. Looks like I was a bit off this last week.

Hike: Tahoe Rim Trail North from Spooner Summit

OK, so my plan was to hike Saturday so that I could still bike with the local bike club Sunday morning. But, of COURSE I'd want to challenge myself. So... I challenged myself enough that I killed my legs and realized that I couldn't stand to embarass myself by trying to cycle with them Sunday morning. Ah well, live and learn.

But, I have to say, this is my greatest hiking accomplishment thus far: 6.68 miles round trip, with about 1100 feet in elevation gain. That makes it a strenuous/difficult hike (8.9 on a scale of 0-10+) according to this cool calculator from that I found on Yay! That's the greatest distance AND the greatest elevation gain in my adult life. Woohoo!

I ate a good macro-nutrient-balanced breakfast (but only 315 cal), then had 1/2 Clif bar before the hike, had the other half about a third of the way through, and then had a PB & J sandwich before the last leg of the descent. I think I found a good balance of food to maintain energy.

One new thing on this hike, however: for the first time I can remember, my legs began to feel worn out before my lungs. This might be good. Of course, this might be due more to the yoga I did Friday night than to improved cardiovascular ability.

My primary goal for the hike was the first summit - about two miles in. But I felt so good after my rest there, and became so blindly optimistic that I had overcome most of the elevation gain, that I went ahead and gave Snow Valley Peak a shot. Um, yeah.

When I quickly came across a beautiful mini-meadow with lovely yellow flowers, I took it as a sign that I did the right thing. I was supposed to go on. Nevermind what Alan (a wonderful older long-time hiker I ran into on the trail) said: that I should hike at a comfortable pace and basically respect my limits. If he could go on, well then so could I, and I was going to make it 3.5 more miles to Snow Valley Peak. Nevermind that the first 2 miles were pretty hard for me. I could do it.

This resolve quickly gave way to, "I can go halfway to Snow Valley Peak - that will be at the original 2 miles plus 1.75 -> 3.75 miles. I'll turn around then... if I still want to."

3.34 miles in, it became, "I can turn around now."

No harm, no foul. Truth is, Alan is pretty wise. The final mile was pretty miserable for me, even though I was going downhill. Alan's words will stick with me - respect my limits.

Still, I have higher limits now! 6.68 miles at 1100 feet elevation gain.

Finally, I just have to tell you that while I was on the trail, I saw crazy people! No, I wasn't becoming delusional in my enjoyable hike-induced hiking. I had the good fortune of hiking while Ultra-Trail Runners were having an event. Get this: 50k, 50 miles, 100k, and 100 miles. You've got to be kidding! It will be a proud day, indeed, when I run 5k. Maybe one day I'll shoot for 10k. That's enough. No need for an extra power of ten, and no need to move away from metric in running. 100 miles. One. Hundred. Miles. I'll tell you what, they have my respect.

I respect institutionalized crazy people, too.

Oh, and I hereby thank the runners that thanked me when I stepped off the trail to yield to them. I know it's common courtesy, but it's nice to be appreciated and be acknowledged. Courtesy works both ways, and it certainly works well when sharing a narrow trail.

Footnote: that calculator I linked to considers my hike to be strenuous only for novices. For experts, it's easy (a mere 3.9). OK, so when does one switch from novice to expert? Who knows. I suppose that there should be some middle ability level, but it's always easier to criticize than to do better. So, for now, I'm sticking with novice, making it a strenuous hike. I feel better about that.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Who do I think I am?!?

Wow, this was a long time ago. A lot of time passed since I started, abandoned, and revived this blog. Be sure to check out my revival (Clearing Out the Cobwebs) and my later progress photos (these are the same links as in the sidebar). Anyway, here were my first thoughts upon the launch of this blog:

OK, so how can I be a fat athlete? Truth be told, I suppose my use of the term "athlete" is a bit fanciful if I were to limit myself to the binding constraints of the English language. I, however, am taking a different tact: I am referring to the spirit of an athlete.

It's probably a bit ironic that after spending so much of my life avoiding unnecessary activity (the singular exception being cycling in my youth), I now attempt to embrace the athletic lifestyle. Yeah, so deal with it.

So, at 34 and 216 pounds, I'm running, cycling, weight training, hiking, and yoga-ing. (There really should be a verb for that.) My ultimate hope is that as the term "athlete" becomes more true, the term "fat" becomes less so. Yes, for the record, I'm watching what I eat, but the emphasis is now on eating the right foods, and just enough to fuel myself while allowing for moderate loss.

Oh, and the term "Athena"? No, I'm not naming myself after the great Goddess. For those in the "know" the term Athena refers to a female cyclist or runner that weighs over 150 pounds. I do believe I qualify. Well, if we overlook the being a cyclist or runner part. Please refer to the discussion of "spirit", above.

Now, my dear imaginary audience, please join me on my journey. Oh, but skip the next few paragraphs unless you want to be bored witless. I, however, feel I must provide the following for the sake of completeness, as I'm beginning this blog well into my conversion.

My heighest weight ever was 254 pounds. From September 2004 to July 2005, I reduced my weight to 195 through food control bordering on OCD, weight training, at home yoga (which I now know barely resembled yoga), and training myself to run. See the semi-before and semi-after picture below. (Before is 247 lbs, and after is 200.)

Yeah, good work, eh? Unfortunately, I then went back to my summer job (oh, the joys of being a teacher), proceeded to revert to my slovenly, fast-food loving ways, and "enjoyed" the corresponding weight gain. (Peaking since at 230 pounds.)

So, after a few half-hearted and failed attempts, I embarked on this current journey on June 12, 2006 at the weight of 224 pounds. I'm currently enjoying life at 216.

But again, weight loss not my primary focus. A fit lifestyle is, and I'm certainly doing that right now. But, I've bored myself, so I imagine that you, my dear imaginary audience, are weeping tears of utter weariness. As such, I'll save my exercise schedule and other fascinating details another time.