Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tour de Palm Springs

Workout:
56 mile bike ride in 4:20
5 mile run in 43:44


The the start of any run, from a 5k to a marathon, carries with it an excited, nervous energy. People walk around in a sort of trance, distracted by their own personal goals, hopes and doubts. They're looking to get in their pre-race fuel, use the restroom one last time (the lines!), stretch and find their start wave, corral or friends. Now imagine all of that going on with as many bikes as there are people.

I completed my very first organized ride last Sunday, the Tour de Palm Springs. I was more nervous than excited and had the same type of doubt that I had before my first marathon. Prior to this, the farthest I had been on my bike was 45 miles. And, I planned to follow this ride with a 5 mile run, to make it part of my training.

My Mom and I left Yucaipa at 6am. The drive out there was beautiful, and we were able to park, pick up my registration packet and mill about the other 7,000 riders just after sun rise. Instead of a bib with a race number, we were each given a bracelet. Yellow=100 mile (or, century) ride, orange = 56 mile ride, green = 25 mile ride. I wore orange. I found out that the jersey wasn't included and quickly shelled out $75 for one. I have no idea why they are so expensive, maybe it's all the handy pockets on the lower back. In there I stuffed 3 of my favourite flavors of Gu, lip gloss and two 500mg tylenol pills.
Mom snapped some pics as I was swept up in a sea of fellow riders, all walking our bikes to the start. It was at this time I realized what I'm sure everyone else already knew: we would be riding with traffic.
We started in waves, with the century riders leaving just after 7am. I left at 8am and the first few miles reminded me of trying to drive 80 in the fast lane, stuck behind a ton of people determined to abide by the speed limit. Unlike a run, I had no timing chip. It took me 15min. to cross the start, and I couldn't go my normal pace for at least 10 miles because there were so many people. We took up one lane of a 4 lane road, and the more experienced (and frustrated?) riders weaved in and out of the cones that were set up, or went into the second lane to go around the slower riders.


I wasn't concerned about my time, and took it easy. It was on a steep uphill around mile 15 that I noticed that I was in the lowest/easiest gear possible was still hard. I looked at my other gear on my left handle bar and noticed it was in the middle. I usually just shift with my right handle bar and leave the left one in what is called granny gear. But when I took it to the bike shop the day before they must have adjusted that. So I shifted that back, and it was back to normal. About an hour in, we had spread out and I was feeling good.
It was sunny and beautiful out there with long stretches or open roads and not too many cars. Until we joined back up with the century riders. They had diverted off to make it a longer course and when they joined up with us it was again a sea of bikes. Police were out directing traffic, but it was a near pile-up at one light because the more experienced riders who were going at least 30mph suddenly had to come to a stop. Riders put an arm out, bent and pointing down to signal a slow or stop and call out 'slowing' or 'stopping' to help avoid being rear-ended. They also point at objects in the road as they pass to help people behind them avoid running over them. I don't do any of that of course, because the only time I take my hands off is to grab a drink from my water bottle.


There were three SAG stops at miles 18, 32 and 44. I flew by the first one, because there were way too many people and I still had gatoraide. We had climbed quite a bit, so miles 22 - 32 seemed to be mostly downhill. Which for me means just over 20mph. Other riders were flying by, in higher gears, still pedaling. I stopped at mile 32 and refilled my water bottle and had a few snacks and was back on the road.


The remainder of the course was in traffic, without cones. This was my very first time riding on streets with a group of people. We made some turns going from the far right lane to the left-hand turning lane, through traffic. It was fun! I was feeling really confident clipping out and stopping, almost like a real cyclist. Until mile 51. 


I was with a group and the light changed to red. I clipped out with my right foot (always my right), braked and came to a stop. I'm not sure what happened next, but I fell over. I think I was a bit out of it and tried to put my left foot down. I fell over to my left, hard. Someone asked if I was okay. Falling never really hurts that much...mostly it's just embarrassing. As the light changed to green, I clipped back in and tried to go but my seat was twisted 3 inches to the left! I let that group pass by and pulled over to the curb. Worried that I wouldn't be able to finish, the first person I asked in the second group had an allen wrench and fixed my seat. Whew!


I finished the last few miles strong. But every so often one of the century riders would pass and I realized I was going fast...for me. They were much faster, even though they had already been almost twice as far.


As I neared the finish I saw Mom waiting for me. I crossed the line and she met up with me, eager to hear how it went. But after 4 hours and 20min. on my bike I wasn't much of a conversationalist. Plus, I wanted to get back to my car as ASAP as possible and change into my running shoes.


After riding for 56 miles I wasn't sure what my pace per mile would be for my run. But I wanted it to be fast. So I put on Lil' Wayne and booked it. Stuntin' Like My Daddy always works, no matter how tired I am.

I was so surprised that I finished my first mile in just over 8 minutes! This made me determined to keep each mile under 9 minutes. I was running the last bit of the course, facing all the riders who were still coming in. I finished the 5 miles with an average pace of 8:45! Mentally, this gives me a lot of confidence for my 1/2 ironman because the ride was the exact same length, then I will need to follow it with a 13.1 mile run. I know that I can do that now, if I just go slower. But, a fast pace for the run portion would be nice...it's always good to finish strong!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

More scientific proof that running keeps you healthy!






How Running Benefits Your Body

It's All Good

More scientific proof that running keeps you healthy.By Amy RushlowImage by John HerseyFrom the February 2011 issue of Runner's World 


Scientists have discovered the fountain of youth—it's running. Studies continue to find that hitting the roads improves health and well-being. "The biggest benefits come from vigorous exercise like running," says JoAnn Manson, M.D., chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Here are the latest reasons to lace up.
LOOK AHEAD
People who run more than 35 miles a week are 54 percent less likely to suffer age-related vision loss than those who cover 10 miles a week.


KEEP THE BEAT
Runners who log a weekly run of 10 miles (or more) are 39 percent less likely to use high-blood-pressure meds and 34 percent less likely to need cholesterol meds compared with those who don't go farther than three miles.


FUNCTION WELL
Men who burn at least 3,000 calories per week (equal to about five hours of running) are 83 percent less likely to have severe erectile dysfunction.


BUILD BONE
Running strengthens bones better than other aerobic activities, say University of Missouri researchers who compared the bone density of runners and cyclists. Sixty-three percent of the cyclists had low density in their spine or hips; only 19 percent of runners did.


THINK FAST
British workers were surveyed on a day they worked out and a day they didn't. People said they made fewer mistakes, concentrated better, and were more productive on the day they were active.


STAY SHARP
A study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reported that women who were active as teenagers were less likely to develop dementia later in life.


SLEEP TIGHT
Insomniacs fell asleep in 17 minutes on days they ran, compared to 38 minutes on days they didn't. They also slept for an extra hour on days they exercised.


SNEEZE LESS
People who exercise for an hour a day are 18 percent less likely to suffer upper-respiratory-tract infections than those who are inactive, according to a study from Sweden. Moderate activity boosts immunity.


BREATHE EASY
Researchers had asthmatics do two cardio workouts and one strength session a week. After three months, they reported less wheezing and shortness of breath.


LIVE LONGER
A review of 22 studies found that people who work out 2.5 hours a week are 19 percent less likely to die prematurely than those who don't exercise. A separate study found that active people have a 50 percent lower risk of premature death.

Copied from the original article.



Monday, February 7, 2011

Jeans & Genes

Do our genes determine the size of our jeans? No! And, having the thought that they do is detrimental to weight loss/fitness goals! Because we are not going to change something, or even attempt to change something, if we believe it to be impossible; a lost cause.

The national obesity rate is one clue to the big role that environment can play. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 65 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, a 16 percent increase in fewer than 10 years. Genes have been around as long as human beings have, but the current obesity epidemic is brand-new, according to this article from Women's Health on inherited traits. 

One simple explanation, says Cummings, is the supply of calorie-rich food in our culture. "A couple hundred years ago, not many people had ready access to a lot of food, so only those with an extremely high susceptibility to weight gain became overweight." Today, for a few bucks, even someone with skinny genes can buy enough food to supersize herself. "We are living in an environment for which our genes just weren't designed," Cummings says.
While there is certainly a genetic disposition determining where we store excess fat (hips/thighs vs. tummy for example) and even a genetic component to how easily we acquire muscle mass, we cannot gain weight without consumption! We are not genetically predetermined to be fat or thin: our weight is a reflection of our lifestyle and that calories in/calories out equation. Believe that you have the power to change it, and you CAN!

For most of my life, starting when I was a teenager, people told me how lucky I was because "You can eat whatever you want!" And, I believed it. I was just born that way, or so I thought. But in truth, I always ate home-cooked meals, and small portions. My family never went out to eat, and we had fast food on occasion - a handful of times a year. I also ran track/cross-country junior and senior years, running six days a week.


But in my early 20's I didn't run or work out on a regular basis. And guess what happened? I gained 37 pounds! Yes, 37 pounds! I was 115lbs in high school, and percentage wise, that is a lot of weight! Also, no longer living with my parents, my eating was nowhere near as healthy. So I started training for my 1st marathon in 2002, thinking the weight would magically disappear. But, it did not. I actually ran 10 marathons without loosing ONE pound.


I did not see any results until last year, when I started modifying my diet. I am not currently on a diet - there is a difference. It's a lifestyle change...not temporary. Since then, I have lost 27 pounds!


Now, when people tell me "You can eat whatever you want!" I explain "But, I don't eat whatever I want!" 

Winning the Genetic War Despite the slew of new research indicating that certain body shapes are largely preordained, it's by no means a fat sentence. At the end of the day, you're in the driver's seat of your own life and the navigator of your own body. "No matter what your genes or your environment might be, you can't gain weight unless you're taking in more calories than you're expending," Kahn says.
In other words, while you may not be able to change being apple-shaped, it's certainly well within your power to be the healthiest, fittest apple possible.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's hard to look sexy in a helmet...

Workout:
Swim: 1500 yards, 55 min.

Bike: 15 miles, 1 hour, 5min.
Run: 1 mile, 9:09




Great ride today! Windy!!! But, got up to 20mph on flat road for 1st time!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

January Totals

Workout:
3 miles in 25:40min.


My co-worker and friend is also training for a 1/2 Ironman and posted her monthly totals, prompting me to look up mine. I was surprised to find that I'm not too far behind her! I had a laundry list of reasons to NOT go on my run tonight, including the fact that totals were higher than I expected. But I just got back from my run and as always, feel fantastic!


Here are my monthly totals for January:


SWIM      9,800   yards in 7:16:00 min
BIKE        113.5   miles in 11:15:44 min (13.6 mi/hr)
RUN             46    miles in 7:00:20 min (9:08 min/miles)


With the increase in my level of activity (this is way more than when I just ran!) I'm finding that some days, I'm constantly hungry...especially if I start my day with a swim. While complex carbs are important for sustained energy and simple carbs are good pre/post workout, protein is really important for muscle recovery. Fortunately, Muscle Milk is delicious! I'm having one-two scoops of this almost every day.


My breakfast: 2 scoops powder, 8-10oz. of cold coffee, ice & banana in blender. Yum!