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 , 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!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sunday Stats - 8/6

Current 5-day average weight: 210.1 lb.
Total loss this week: 3.1 lb.

Current 8-point total size: 213.75 in.
Total loss this week: .75 in.

Average daily calories in/out: 2222/2713
Average macronutrients (P%/F%/C%) : 21/29/48

OK, I won't complain. :)

What am I doing wrong?

Today's ride was beautiful, very flat, and cut a bit short. Yet again, I am having trouble with the front derailleur. I decided to turn around when I couldn't get on the biggest or smallest front chainring. I was 'stuck' in the middle.

I'll try to adjust the cable myself this time, but this will be the fourth time it needs adjusting. (I took it in to the shop the other three times.) I've got to find out what's going on. Am I doing something wrong? Is it a bad cable? Is my bike not the quality I thought I was getting? I'm sure the LBS (local bike shop) will make it right if it's nothing I'm doing, but still.

The worst part was that as I was on the shallow part of an upcoming climb, I shifted (early, I thought) onto the smallest front chainring. Or, tried, rather. After refusing to go down, the chain went WAY down and jammed between the chainring and the frame. So, now the paint is pretty hurt down there. Well, who's going to notice except for me and any future potential buyers? I just hope it won't rust. Perhaps I need to look into some sort of sealant.

Anyway, enjoyable ride otherwise. Since it was pretty flat, I got to pretend that I could achieve a 15mph average with ease, spending quite a bit of time in the 18mph+ range on the flats. (I try not to get excited about descent speeds.)

Today's Ride: 15.08 miles in 1:00:51 (with a stop to fix the chain). Average speed: 14.9 mph. Total ascent: 695', total elevation gain from valley to peak: about 150'. (That's about as flat as routes come in Reno!)

Emigrant Lake Hike

We (some Sierra Club people and I) hiked in a lovely area yesterday, starting at Caples Lake and ending at Emigrant Lake. It was about eight miles round trip if you believe the signs, but for consistency's sake I'll pretend I trust my Garmin, which gave a distance of only 7.57 miles. Hmmm... Then again, some new software I found does some "correcting" and believes we went over nine miles! (Yeah, right...)

It took us a little under five hours to hike to the lake and back, but that's with a lot of stops. Net climb was about 800 feet, so this was a perfect hike to get my feet wet on my first "moderate" difficulty hike.

Let's see... any lessons from this hike? Yes, first: I probably need bigger boots, not smaller boots as someone told me before. Second: I must be the most overprepared hiker in the local Sierra Club. Growing up, my parents taught me to be a cautious hiker - pack as if you'll get lost. Extra socks, a jacket, pants, extra food, extra water (or a filter these days)... The list goes on. Now, keep in mind: my list of "must-brings" is much shorter than any list you'll find in backpacking books or on the internet. I must have looked a sight in my bursting day-and-a-half pack, while another hiker had just a fanny pack!

Well, old habits die hard... if at all. I'll just pretend I'm conditioning for a monster overnight hike! (Which, perhaps, I am...)

I also brought a second pair of shoes because it was suggested that switching shoes might help my Plantar Fasciitis (no, I wouldn't normally bring two pairs - I'm not THAT cautious/crazy). I switched for the last mile or so, and my feet felt better - but only because my toes stopped being crammed against the toebox. I don't think I'll need to do that again...

Here are some more pictures. It really is beautiful there. You start off at Caples lake for the first mile or so, then follow a trail which has quite a few beautiful waterfalls (my camera doesn't do waterfalls justice).

Friday, August 04, 2006

(Well, duh)x2

OK, two things to share today:

1: I am an idiot.
2: I am not an idiot.

I will take these in order.

First, my run today wasn't very good. It was supposed to be 5 minute warm-up, 2.25 mile run (no stopping), and cool-down. First, I had to stop and walk very slowly for a minute at the turn-around point. Then, I had to walk three times on the way back, twice due to a side stich. I couldn't figure out why my run was so bad today.

First, I theorized that it's because I rushed out the door when realizing that I was closer to dusk than I wanted to be, which gave my pre-run electrolyte drink no time to settle. Next, I theorized that the heat was getting to me. Finally, I considered that perhaps it was a case of two steps forward, and one step back (it still may be).

On the drive home, however, I suddenly became aware of what you're probably currently mentally shouting at me, my dear observant reader.

I ran yesterday.

Oh yeah, that. Totally forgot. Well, I remembered last night when I was planning to run again today because I 'd otherwise have to wait until Sunday, and decided that 36 hours between runs should be enough just this once. Yeah, no. OK, so I'm an idiot. Run summary will be at the end of this entry, and I have hereby sworn that I will not attempt to run on consecutive days for at least the next three months.

Now, on to the fact that I'm not an idiot.

I went to a specialist today. It's no big deal, and the situation will probably clear itself up when I succeed at my weight loss, though we've still got some tests to go through.

Now, before I get to my rant I want to point out: I really like this doctor. Great sense of humor, and he could put up with my, well, "issues". And, of course, I totally agree with his recommendation: I need to lose weight if I want to be healthy.

But the following message goes out to all doctors, everywhere: I am not an idiot. Neither is any other adult overweight person. We don't need to hear yet again that the way to lose weight is to exercise more and eat less.

We know, we know, we know.

In fact, I'd say that we overweight people are the biggest experts in what's necessary to achieve weight loss. We have either chosen not to follow the simple formula, for any of a number of reasons, or there are other issues preventing our success.

So, please pay attention, all medical professionals. Here is how the conversation should go from now on: "You're going to need to lose some weight. Do you have any questions about healthy weight loss? Would you like some guidance?"

Nice, clear, simple, and you're not treating us as if we're recovering from a traumatic brain injury.

OK, sorry, but it's obviously not the first time that it's happened to me. Though, I have to say my primary doctor was worse. When I went to see him to get checked out at around 200 pounds, down from 254, he asked me what I was doing to lose weight. Afer listening, he proceeded to criticize it and tell me to stop the weight training and focus on cardio. I think it was shortly after he heard my jaw thud to the ground that he backed up and said, "Of course, what you're doing is working, so who am I to say anything?" Ya think?

And then, when I went to see him for my annual, about 25 pounds heavier (but still not at 254), and knowing that I was already losing weight again, he proceeded to tell me that I should eat 1500 calories a day to lose weight. (At least he didn't say 1200.) When I paused and then said rhetorically, "Oh, you mean if I don't exercise," he continued with, "Well, you'd have to exercise an awful lot to lose weight at 1800 calories a day."


Please note: I've been losing weight at an average intake of about 2200 calories a day. Yes, I know I'll need to continue to reduce my intake as my weight goes down (unless my activity continues to increase), but if I had taken my doctor's advice, I'd be stark raving mad(er).

So, all together now: "Overweight people are not idiots, and are not to be treated as such."

Today's Run: 2.84 miles in 39:49. Overall pace: 14:00/mi. Running pace: 13:14/mi. Primarily flat course.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Runnin' Runnin' and Runnin' Runnin'

OK, I'm back! After thoroughly enjoying a recharge day yesterday, I woke up ready to run, and not just because I had a new toy to try out.

In fact, when I thought for a minute that I had misunderstood my roommate's schedule and I wouldn't be able to run after all (someone always needs to babysit my slightly psycho dog), I actually became very annoyed! Lucky for my roommate, I quickly figured out that I had *just* enough time to get in today's scheduled run.

Somewhere on today's route, I enjoyed an interesting little shift in attitude. Maybe it's because today's training run is the last run in the C25K (couch to 5k) where the plan includes interrupting my run to walk. Maybe it's because of my reaction to the idea of not being able to run. Maybe I've just lost it. But, whatever the cause, today is when it happened: I felt like a runner. I feel like I can stop saying, "I'm training myself to run," and start saying, "I'm a runner."

Yeah. I'm a runner. I like that.

Today's Run: 2.84 miles in 38:44 (including warm-up and cool-down). Overall pace: 13:37/mi. Running pace: 12:06. Flat course.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Uh oh...

OK, a pattern may be forming. I didn't get up early enough to run this morning, and then chose not to run when I later had a chance because my legs were just absolutely worn down from yesterday's hike. The wisdom of a coolrunning forums guru rang in my ears, quoted as closely as I can rememer: "Exercise doesn't make you stronger. It messes you up. You need to rest to recover and get stronger. Otherwise, you just get messed up."

Now.... I don't know if I really needed to rest today, since I would have been working different muscles in different ways running from yesterday's hike, but it felt right to rest today.

Tomorrow you bet I'll be running, because I got a new toy - My Garmin 305! (The screen on my 301 has been slowly and surely deteriorating since it tried to commit suicide by leaping out of my hands onto the concrete step four feet down. I really didn't want to upgrade just yet.) I'll post a review as soon as I've given it a fair shake. There are already some things I like and somethings I'm a bit irritated at. (Like, can you believe it - it's actually bigger and heavier!)

One last thing, just for smiles, here's a video that presents a different way to use treadmills:
OK GO - Here it Goes Again. Don't sue me if you try it and get hurt, though. But make sure you get three friends to join you, or you'll just look weird(er).

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Morning Slacker - Evening Hiker

OK, so I didn't get up early enough to go cycling this morning as planned, but I'll blame that more on procrastination for an assignment I had to get completed for my class, rather than laziness.

This evening we did a nice hike behind Patagonia. Most of the hike is flat, but the beginning is brutal. You gain about three hundred feet in a little more than half a mile of switchbacks. That's some heavy-duty panting making it up that ascent. Overall we did over five miles (didn't turn on my Garmin in time... again) in 1:43, not counting breaks. Overall elevation gain: 300 feet.

OK, short blog/slow news day. Until tomorrow.