Monday, July 27, 2009

My first size 0

I went clothes shopping yesterday and I found in some stores the size twos were too big! My measurements put me in a size two and most of my size twos fit great, but it was nice to buy a size 0. It makes me feel SO TINY!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

My first Century Ride

I have a goal to do a Century Ride. When I made that goal, it was with the idea that a "century" ride was 100 miles. But they also have metric centuries and that's what I did yesterday.

It was a lot of fun, but very tiring. I went to bed at 8:00 pm and wasn't able to drag myself out until about 9:00 am this morning! Supposedly I burned over 2000 calories too.

My ride actually started when I biked to the Fremont BART station. Then I almost missed my stop! My ride was waiting for me though so we loaded up the bike in his truck and went to Alameda to meet the rest of the gang.

This bike ride was sponsored by Team Alameda, a biking club. It was my first ride with cyclists instead of triathletes. Except for the lack of aero bars and TT bikes, it really wasn't much different.

Well, okay, some of the cyclists were a lot more colorful than I am used to. One guy had on a white and magenta outfit and his bike had magenta stripes on the wheels and his bottles had magenta accents too. I was very impressed and a little jealous. My stuff doesn't match that well and I love to match!

These rides are a lot more social than the rides I am used to -- which are working rides. There was a lot more food too. This is part of why I figured I could make it through. I've only biked about 3.5 hours before and no more than 35 miles, but with a lot less stopping to eat. So I figured the lunch stop would make it more like two bike rides.

I was partially right about this, but our route included going the back way up something called Marshall Wall" (As in, you hit the wall). After that, I was kind of toast. Luckily it was all downhill after that until we hit The Cheese Factory for lunch.

After lunch, two people decided to ride back to the Marin Park & Ride with the SAG wagon. Yeah, that's right. Our ride had a SAG wagon! Jealous? You should be. I thought about it. Not because I didn't think I could do another 20 miles, but because I wasn't sure how long it would take me to do those 20 miles. But I figured I should at least try and, if I got too beat, I could always hail the SAG wagon and cry Uncle.

I started out okay, but got slower and slower and the back of the pack caught up to me as we pulled into the Park & Ride. The front of the pack got there way before that and had a bit of a spread going. So I got to chomp on strawberries and drink bottled water and recover a bit before we all went home again.

All-in-all, it was a good experience. I feel a little more prepared for Waves to Wine in September, too. But I think I need to find a weekly ride that is around 40 miles. Right now I knock off about 20-25 on my Thurs. ride and I'm getting pretty good at that distance. But Big Kahuna is 56 and Waves to Wine is 75 the first day and 50 the second. So I need to build up my distances.

I remember when I was working on doing 13 miles and never dreaming I'd be inching up on 50-100 mile rides. But now I want to be able to do the full imperial Century and, someday, an Ironman.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Alien spit and plastic surgery

A while back I was told by a friend that in another country they call what we call "the foamies" by the name "alien spit." I thought that was a great description!

(For those of you who don't know, the foamies are when you eat too much or too fast and your stomach fills up so your body decided to make tons of siliva in order to break down the food faster. This might work with a normal stomach, but with a WLS stomach, it just makes things worse as now there is spit in there making there be even less room causing even more spit to be produced.)

A few days later, someone took this picture of me at our Podium swim workout and the first thing I thought was: Alien spit!


Don't I look just like those pictures of aliens on the cover of the National Enquirer? Or maybe some weird sort of human bug? It was the bubble of air just about to come out of my mouth that made me think of "alien spit" though.

Another time I think of aliens is when I look at my loose skin. (Which I was quite careful to cut of this picture since I'm really rather vain about my new body, as imperfect as I know it is.) I have this mental image of the scene in Men in Black where Vincent D'Onofrio's character (Edgar?) comes back into the house after killing the owner and putting on his skin. He's got some loose flaps of it around his neck and his "wife" asks what's wrong. Vincent/Alien Bug in Edgar's Skin catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror, gives a grunt and repositions his skin so it fits around his body better.

Wouldn't it be great if it was just that easy?

But no, we have to decide to live with our extra skin or get plastic surgery. Personally, I'd like to avoid PS. I'd rather spend the money on something fun like a new car or a new bike. Also, I don't want to deal with the scarring and the downtime and the pain and the risk.

But I hate that I look like a shar pei some days when I've worked so hard to get my body into such fantastic shape. It's not that it's a bit wrinkly or saggy. I expect saggy boobs and some poof around the tummy at my age. What I didn't expect was having flaps of skin that fold over my bras and hang down my face like a bulldog. I hate this flap that hangs over my midriff too. I want to carry a sign "I don't need to lose 5 pounds; that's loose skin and muscle separation and I can't do anything about it!"

Anyway, it's been particularly bad this week, for some reason. Other times, I think I look fine and will not need PS in any way. But lately those times are fewer and the times I feel like a freak are happening more and more. So I've been thinking about plastic surgery more and more.

I've decided to give it six months and then see how much of my skin has recovered by then. Maybe by then money will be less of an issue too. Though I'm sure there will be some new gadget I'll want more. Like an all-carbon fiber bike with Dura-Ace components. Or a kick ass laptop computer.

Then again, giving my inner skinny bitch the body she deserves is definitely one of my goals and, if it takes plastic surgery to get that....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Getting back in the groove

I can't believe how hard it's been to get back into the groove after my vacation.

While on vacation, computer access was limited so I just wrote down my food and didn't put it online. So I had no idea how I did until I got back. I also didn't workout much. I had planned to do a workout every day before the race, but it just didn't happen.

I did okay on the food, it turns out. Up until the race, I was eating no more calories than normal. But, as the week went on, I didn't make my protein goals most days. Now, to some extent, this was part of the plan -- I was trying to do a bit of carbo-loading before the race. But it also wasn't part of the plan because I wasn't really thinking about what I was eating, but eating "whatever I wanted". My fat count went pretty high too.

Interestingly enough, my carb counts were fine. Until the race. Race day I burned tons of calories, of course, and ate a lot, but not as many as I burned. But my carbs were through the roof due to the sports drinks. Again, this is according to plan and hasn't been an issue in the past.

The next day we went home.

Where I expected to get right back into my routine. But it's been hard. I've been eating a lot more every day than I was before I left and some of it is not hunger-based eating. My carb count is slowly rising each day too.

I've also been skipping some workouts. Again, this is somewhat according to plan as I usually take it easy the week after a race. But I was surprised how hard it was to make myself to go track on Tues. and swim on Wed.

It's like taking a week off from my normal routines has completely killed them. I've seen this happen to other people, but I didn't think it would happen to me!

Anyway, I hope to be back in the groove by the end of the week. I'm happy that not closely monitoring my eating worked fine while on vacation, but less happy that my eating seems out of control now.

I think I got into the mode of thinking that I swore I wouldn't -- that I can eat anything I want because of all my workouts. But, of course, this week and last I didn't work out as much, and also I'm burning less and less calories with each workout as I get more fit.

For some reason I'm not in a big panic though. I'm not sure what that is exactly, but maybe how well I did in Tahoe is giving me confidence that I can work this out eventually even if I'm going trough some rough spots right now.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Donner Lake International Triathlon

No socks were harmed in the running of this race!

Well, it was bound to happen… my first disappointing race. I think it was the altitude. It didn’t impact my actual performance that badly, but it impacted my ability to think quite a bit and that led to many minor fumbles that added up. I got through it, but it was messy.

I’d list what went wrong, but it might be easier to list what went right.

So… I didn’t drown in the swim. I didn’t have a flat tire or crash on the bike. I didn’t bonk on the run (though I came perilously close). I finished the race with all numbers and all socks intact. My T2 went well. I passed people on the run. I got hit with no penalties.

Other than that… pretty much everything that could go wrong did.

It started in the parking lot – I was getting my stuff out of the car and dropped my bike! I don’t think it was permanently damaged but the front wheel did stick for a while until it worked itself out.

Then, setting up in transition, I forgot my last potty break. I figured it was no big deal and I wasn’t going to undo my wetsuit after it took so long to get on, but later on I was sorry for that decision.

I also didn’t do a 15 min. warm-up jog like I normally do. I decided to warm up in the water, but it’s hard to fully warm up just paddling around.

Then, as we got closer and closer to the gun going off, I realized I really needed that potty break. And not the kind you can do in a wet suit or on the bike, if you catch my drift. But, by the time I accepted it wasn’t nerves or gas, it was too late.

I started the swim in the middle of the pack, which worked well for me in the past. This time, I couldn’t really get going. I couldn’t breathe and my brain wasn’t working. A couple of times I almost breathed underwater because I got confused. I’m sure it was the lack of oxygen. I did eventually settle into a rhythm and I didn’t have a big problem with sighting as sometimes happens to me. But for the last five minutes or so, my calves kept cramping up.

I swam through it and the cramps stopped as soon as I hit dry land, thank goodness. I was somewhat distressed that my swim was so slow, though, as it’s normally my best event. I did manage to pass a few people from the wave ahead of us, reminding me that no matter how bad I think my swim is, there are always people who do much worse. There were even a few people hanging off kayaks, which I hadn’t seen happen before in prior races.

I told myself that the swim was over and my problems were mostly over. Then, I couldn’t get out of my wet suit!

First, the neck flap kept moving back into place when I tried to unzip it. I’d separate the velcro, reach around for the zipper line and pull and nothing would happen. I’d reach back up and the neck would be velcroed back in place. I did this THREE TIMES before I got smart enough to hold the flap open while I fumbled for the zip.

At this point I was back in T1 and still had my wet suit mostly on as well as my cap and goggles. I could NOT get the suit over my watch even though I had put my watch on under the suit. Eventually I got that sleeve back up, took off my watch and then got the suit off the top. I struggled with the feet to the point of panic. Someone offered to help me, but I was afraid of a penalty so I made myself calm down and get that damn thing off.

Socks and shoes went on super-quick and I was off. I thought about going to the potty, but with my horrible transition, I didn’t want to spend the time. I figured I’d find a port-a-potty on the bike route and it would be quicker than running so far off course as the bathrooms were.

Then, I dropped my bike again in the sand leading out of T1. I also didn’t mount at the (unmarked) mount line as I was looking for a sign or some chalk on the ground or something.

At this point, I figured my T1 time was going to be in the six minute range and just hoped it wasn’t in the ten minute range like some people do. I was thinking my swim could have been as long as 40 minutes too. Ugh.

But my bike computer said 8:41! Our wave was supposed to go off at 7:55 but it has been closer to 8:00 so the entire swim and T1 fiasco must have only taken around 40 minutes total. I’m capable of doing the swim in 35 min or less so I could believe that. Plus, I always think my swim takes longer than it does when the numbers get posted.

The first part of the bike course was tough as I expected. I had biked it the day before as a warm-up and I knew I could do it, though. I was going a bit slower than the day before, but I got to the top of Donner Pass and even passed someone.

I then moved on to the “flat” portion of the course. However, at one point I was going 36 mph because the “flat with rolling hills” part of the course was largely downhill. That part was cool. Coming back – largely uphill – was not.

In particular, I had a strong urge to go to the bathroom for the last five miles of the out part of the course. I was looking for port-a-potties along the way, but couldn’t find any. This having to go really impacted my power in my stroke, but I figured I could hold out until the turnaround. Surely there’d be one there.
But there was not.

So there I was off in the wood imitating a bear. Thank goodness for pine cones!

I realized on the way back that I was not taking in enough nutrition. I only did three of my four planned gels and I barely finished one bottle of fluid. So I started pushing more fluids, though it was probably too late and it probably caused me problems on the run.

But going back down the pass was awesome. I just flew. Not having to watch out for cars let me go faster than the day before. I did almost lose my number from off my bike helmet. I was relieved when I figured out what the noise was as I thought my brakes were failing!

I did my required “foot down” stop at bottom of the hill and ran into T2.

Where my husband was waiting asked me if everything was okay. Not a good sign. (And not the only person to say that to me during this race.)

My T2 transition went smoothly though. I did feel sluggish, but I knew from past experience that I was in and out in less than two minutes. I did have trouble finding the Run Out (it hadn’t been marked prior to the start of the race since it was also the Bike Out) but it didn’t delay me too badly.

Oh, my fuel belt fell off on the way out and I realized my race belt was hanging off my hips and not my waist because I’d lost weight since the last time I wore it. That actually cheered me up a bit, particularly as everything seemed to be staying on once I got it really fastened.

Then I got the urge to go to the bathroom again. Crap. But at least I’d run this route before and knew it was full of bathrooms and port-a-potties.

I staggered off and got my running legs back faster than normal. Yeah! I also started passing people. Double yeah!

Now, one was walking and one was staggering (I think he had something wrong with his knees), but it was better than nothing. Plus, one of those guys I had seen heading back on the bike route as I was heading out. So I made up mucho time on him and it couldn’t have all been on the run as we weren’t even a mile into it.

It was pretty hot at this point and this part of the run was mostly without shade. At mile two they sprayed me with a hose and that felt good. At mile three I found a port-a-potty and discovered that this time that urge was largely a mental thing, just like I’d tried to convince myself back when it wasn’t mental. So I wasted time on that for nothing.

By mile four, I was hurting. But I had passed more people, so I just kept going. I did dial it down a notch in order to get to the end without bonking. I also realized that, once again, I was not taking in enough nutrition. Whenever I drank from my fuel belt, it would make me a bit nauseous so I was relying on water on the course. They had run out of Heed so I wasn’t getting electrolytes. There were no more hoses passed the first aide station either.

So I made myself drink my drink and I just kept plodding along, passing a few more people. It helped to know that there were at least six to ten people behind me. When I got to mile six, I let out a whoop and started pouring it on. I was beat, but I figured I could maintain the higher pace for another half mile.

I staggered passed the finish line at about 4:47 and change on the race clock. Wait a minute! My wave left 55 min. after the clock started so that means I finished in under four hours just as I had hoped! Maybe my race wasn’t as crappy as I thought it was.

Most of the food and drink were gone by the time I finished and I was not feeling right in my tummy anyway so we went back to the RV to chill. I desperately wanted to nap, but the bedroom in the RV was too hot. It also turned out I had sunburn on my back.

Later on my family dragged me out to Reno for dinner. I think I was out of my mind to agree to that, but at least the casino was air conditioned. This is where I discovered some sort of weird blister on the ball of my foot. I still can't figure out how I got that. Unlike the sunburn, which was from not realizing my new tri top didn't cover that part of my back. So now my back is raw and my foot has a hole in it.

When we got back from Reno, I saw the race results were up. I was excited to see my times… but my name wasn’t listed anywhere. I emailed them to ask them to straighten it out. I got no reply, but the next day my name was on the list… as DNF! I was so pissed.

I wrote again and now I have times for everything, but they say my total time was 4:23, not 3:53 as I had thought. I guess that means the race clock was started with the first International wave and not the first Sprint wave. Which means I didn’t make my four hour goal. Bummer.

They also say my swim time was 40 minutes. It could have been, but my bike computer said it was 8:41 as I ran out of T1 and our wave didn’t leave until about 7:59. So, if you add my T2 and swim time to 7:59, it gets you about 5 min. past that. I suspect they started the clock when our wave was supposed to go off (7:55 am) and not when it did.

My bike time is a few minutes more than my bike computer said too, but the bike computer doesn’t run when the bike is standing still and I did have that potty break. I guess it could have been a full three minutes long even if it didn’t feel that long.

It really annoys me that I can’t trust the times, but it annoys me more that I had a crappy race and didn’t make my time goal. Because I suspect that 4:23 is “close enough” to what I did based on my informal clock watching throughout the race.

My age group results were 8th out of 10 – last of the finishers, 10 out of 10 in the swim, T1 and bike and 4th in T1 and 5th in the run. Yes, I ran better than I swam or biked! That’s pretty wild for me. Even if the two DNFs below me really finished like I did, I still had a great run.

Overall I finished 434 out of 446. I was 421 in the swim, 445 in the bike and 400 in the run.

Yes, that was 400 -- a full 34 slots above my overall finish – I definitely had a great run. I think training for the half-marathon is really helping me.

My swim was about normal for me and my bike was worse than normal though not out of line with my training run in Del Valle two weeks ago. It’s a shame because I’ve improved a lot on the bike, but this particular course didn’t show that.

I have to say that this is the first race where I questioned why I was doing this. That’s how tough it was. I’m getting over it though.

Now I’m back to my normal “I did it!” mode of thought. Plus, I’m kind of psyched about how well I did in my run. I’m really curious to see how I’d do at this distance with a less tough course and not at altitude. Too bad there isn’t room for another race in my calendar before The Big Kahuna.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thin air

I decided to run around Donner Lake on Wednesday. When I first started out, I couldn't breathe! But I got over that and was able to make it around at a pretty normal pace for me. It was supposed to be my long run for the week so I was supposed to do it at 11:30, but I actually did it at 11:17. Of course, that's just my average pace. My actual pace was all over the place including under 10 min. and over 14!

I did kind of crash at the end, but that was more due to the heat. We're having a heat wave! What is it with me and triathlons and heat waves? We had one for my first tri too. It's supposed to "only" be in the high 80s on Sunday.

Today I'm going swimming and tomorrow I'm going biking. Hopefully I've acclimated a bit to the altitude and won't have such a rough time of it as I did with the running.

I'm actually pretty hopeful I'll be able to improve on my time from Wildflower. I want to finish in under four hours this time. The earlier I finish, the less I'll have to deal with the heat!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Protein Muffin Recipe

People have been asking for my protein muffin recipe so here it is:

Basic Recipe
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup protein powder (any flavor - chocolate & vanilla work well or something that goes with the type of muffin you are making such as banana for the banana nut version)
1/3 cup sugar or sugar substitute
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix, pure pumpkin)

Banana Nut:
2 mashed bananas
1/2 cup nuts (I generally use pecans and sometimes put in more than 1/2 cup)

Blueberry:
1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

Pumpkin Raisin:
1/2 cup more pumpkin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins

Pre-heat oven to 400 F

In large mixing bowl, mix dry ingredients. Make sure protein powder is mixed thoroughly. Add in wet ingredients and sitr until the mixture is completely moistened. Batter may be lumpy.

Grease muffin cups or line with paper baking cups.

Fill full sized muffin cups to 2/3, for mini-muffin cups, fill to top

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean. Around 20-25 min. for full sized muffins, 8-12 min. for mini-muffins

Makes 10-12 full sized muffins or 30-36 mini-muffins

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Baking up a storm

I went a little nuts tonight baking things. I made three different kinds of protein muffins, my normal banana nut and two new ones: pumpkin and blueberry. I haven't had a blueberry one yet but the pumpkin ones came out a little over-moist. I also used chocolate protein powder in them when I'd planned to use vanilla or orange. But I think they'll be okay and I will continue to tweak the recipe. The blueberry looked good, but I was too full to try one. I'll do that tomorrow.

Then I made some protein bars. These are "no bake" recipes that I got off the web from someone at Obesity Help. I had tried two before -- a "nutty fudge" bar and some protein "balls". I was underwhelmed, to be honest.

The protein balls were actually okay in taste. The problem is that they are very sticky and revert to that state within minutes of being out of the freezer. Also, if I had made them according to the recipe, with real peanut butter, they would have been astronomical in calories and fat. I used PB2 instead and they were still pretty hefty in the calorie and fat department.

The "Nutty Fudge" bars were slightly nutty and hardly fudge-y at all. They also were very high in calories -- and I made 12 bars from the batch, not the eight the recipe called for -- and they were also kind of greasy. I should have figured on that when I saw the recipe called for 1/2 cup of butter!

Tonight I looked for recipes with much less butter in them and also that would use up some of the stuff I had laying around the house. So I made a sesame bar that is supposed to not melt in your purse and a chocolate bar that actually is chocolaty. It has cream and Bakers chocolate in it along with chocolate protein powder so it didn't have as much butter. I suspect it has more butter than I'll be happy with, but I'm hoping it will be "in the ballpark" and I can tweak the recipe to my liking.

I'm fairly certain I will be unhappy with the nutritional composition -- because I have high standards -- but hopefully not as unhappy as I was with my first batch. A quick eyeballing of the ingredients didn't show any red flags.

I won't know for sure how they'll turn out until tomorrow when the stuff is done chilling and I can sample some. It's also close to midnight so it's unlikely I'll have time to run the nutritional numbers tonight. If they turn half-way decent at all, I'll post the recipes, along with any caveats I may have as to fat, protein and carb content.

The same with my protein muffins. I have promised to post the recipe before, but just haven't been 100% happy with it yet. But it's time to follow through and stop aiming for perfection.

So tomorrow. Or maybe the next day. But soon. I swear!

Thank goodness for port-a-potties

Today I decided to do my long run out on the recreational trail instead of in the gym. It was nice out when I started, but very soon into the run I had the feeling of having to go. I told myself it was just gas and would go away because that's what had happened in the past. But if felt different so I was really just engaging in hopeful thinking.

I managed to last most of the way out but on the way back I was in big trouble and I knew it. I kept looking for bushes to duck behind but there were only trees. Not discrete at all. I thought about leaving the trail and going in search of a gas station but I didn't want to get totally off track and possibly take longer to do that than to get to the little park where I was 90% sure there was a port-a-potty. (It was the 10% uncertainty that was making me look for bushes and think about gas stations.)

At one point, I wasn't even sure I'd make it there, but I did and there was a port-a-potty and a drinking fountain to wash my hands in afterwards! I normally hate port-a-potties, but I almost kissed this one. It was actually a pretty nice one as it was made to hold a wheelchair.

I was in there longer than I liked and I missed the button to pause my Nike+ so it impacted my average pace. When I got out, I figured it was all over and proceeded to run home. I did feel a bit dizzy at first, but I had plenty of sports drink in my fuel belt so I just went nuts drinking it for the next three miles.

When I got to exactly 10, I stopped. Then I walked home for the rest. It took me two hours to do 10 miles and another 30 to walk home one mile. I was totally beat and not feeling good at all.

When I got home, I proceeded to live in the bathroom for another hour, even vomiting at one point. Which, since there was nothing in my tummy, was not pleasant at all.

I finally took an Immodium-D and between that and running out of stuff to get rid of, everything settled down eventually.

I really hope this was triggered by the new gel I tried today and is not going to be an ongoing issue, because it was the pits! It's bad enough that I feel like crap as soon as I go over 6 miles, but if I have to deal with this kind of stuff on a regular basis, I don't think I'm going to make it training for the longer distances.

But the silver lining is that the entire episode put me down 2.5 pounds instead of the normal .5 pound I lose after exercise. It puts me in mind of the infamous line from The Devil Wears Prada: I'm one stomach flu away from my goal weight.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I'm driving myself crazy

I'm still weighing myself every day and I think I need to stop. I'm driving myself crazy with it.

Ever since I started weight training, my weight has fluctuated a lot more. I've had weeks where the scale went up instead of down and then other weeks when it went down by a lot -- as much as three pounds! And this week I've gone up half a pound a day since my all-time-low of 113 on Monday.

At the calorie level I'm eating at -- around 1650 calories a day, I should be losing at about a pound a week, perhaps slightly less and that's what my average weight loss has been. My formulas and spreadsheets and online calculators all tell me to eat in the 1800-2200 range. If I'm losing about a pound a week at 1650, then 2150 is about right for maintenance.

Yet whenever I eat 1700 calories or more a day, I feel bloated and the scale goes up. It's always down by Monday, my official weigh-in day, though. Plus my clothes are getting looser, not tighter. I also feel like I'm eating a lot more than I used to. But when I crunched the numbers, my average daily calories for so far in July were actually slightly less than my average for the back half of June.

So, clearly, my perceptions are not matching up to reality. But the scale is reinforcing my perceptions and not reality.

On the one hand, I really don't want to lose any more weight. I'm really happy with where I am now. On the other, I wouldn't mind having a bit of a "cushion" in case I experience the dreaded "bounce back" and, also, whenever I try to eat more than 1650 calories, I feel like I'm force feeding myself. It's uncomfortable physically.

I know I need to learn to eat to my hunger and trust that my body will make me as hungry as it needs to be to be a healthy weight -- whatever that turns out to be. But I also know that I absolutely DO NOT trust my body.

I feel like my body has cheated on me in the past and is now claiming it's changed. Maybe it has. It probably has. The signs are there that it has. But the trust has been broken and it's not easily going to be rebuilt.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Shape up with the Slow, Fat Triathlete - A review

First of all, don’t let the title of this book fool you. This is not a book about how to become a triathlete or a mega athlete. It’s not a “how to” book or yet another “get a fantastic bod with minimal work” book, either. There are no pictures of exercises or schedules for when to do crunches and when to do cardio.

Instead, it’s a series of essays about fitness, each one of them in turn funny, touching and containing useful information (and sometimes all three at once).

I wish every person who has ever said to me “I know I should exercise, but I hate it” would read this book. It will change your thinking about moving your body and maybe even your life.

It starts with the basics – first the mind. Yes, the mind! Your mind is your best exercise tool. Changing how you think about exercise is key to making it part of your life. It also contains good tips for how to find a sports bra that fits, how to fuel during exercise, tracking your exercise data, where exercise fits into the grand scheme of your life, and a host of other topics, all important in your quest to shape up.

Even if you love to exercise, like I do, you should still get this book. It’s a great read and it will remind you of why you started exercising in the first place and maybe show you some ways you’ve gone astray as you’ve gotten caught up in your quest for fitness perfection and obsession with PRs.

I definitely learned from it – it made me think about why I exercise and what I get from it and I even picked up some tips on how to collect better data to keep track of my progress.

Jayne is a great writer and her books are warm and witty and enthusiastic. They are reassuring that you can really do this exercise thing, be it taking a dance class or signing up for (and completing!) your first triathlon. This book is no exception.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Cadence, bikinis and hair loss

The summer edition of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly wouldn't be complete without talking about bikinis. Guess which section they'll come in!

The Good:

This week, I got to practice cadence. A lot. We worked on it at track for running and I got 95 striders per minute the very first time just like I was supposed to! I was shocked because the other times I've worked on this, I did not get it. Not sure what happened between now and the last time, but I think learning to run faster and working on not over-striding both contributed.

I worked on this a bit on my regular Thurs. bike ride as well and then again on Saturday during my "New to the Sport" workout. This time something clicked with me: muscling up the hill in the hardest gear I can get away with actually makes it a lot harder to get up the last bit. I've been reluctant to shift too soon on the hill in the past because I was afraid I'd get into my easiest gear too soon and then have no where to go. But it turns out that shifting sooner actually works better because you don't waste energy on the lower part of the hill.

So I practiced that today on my "conquer Del Valle hills" ride and I was able to do the entire 27 miles without walking once! What a different 6 weeks, 15 pounds and 20 degrees (cooler) makes. Not that I wasn't bone tired afterwards and not that there weren't times when I was pedaling very, very slowly, but I got through it all and now I feel really prepared for the Donner Lake Tri in two weeks.

The Bad:

There really isn't anything bad. I know I've been whining about maintenance and I expect I'll whine a bit more before it's all over, but in general things have been good.

Now, I am still losing hair. I kid myself that it's slowed down to about 10-15 hairs a shower, but when I count it's still 25-30 just like the last time.

The Ugly:

Mini-Mac talked me into buying a two-piece bathing suit a while ago. She calls it my bikini though I think it's probably not small enough to really qualify. On the other hand, it shows enough. I'm self-conscious in it even though I used to wear a two-piece when I was morbidly obese. My theory at the time was that I was going to look bad in any suit I wore, so I might as well get one that was easy to pee in. Plus, the ones I had mostly covered my tummy so no one could see my gallbladder scar. The one I have now shows everything.

So Mini-Mac talks me into going swimming. Then she talks me into wearing the two-piece. Because I look "hot" in it. Then, as I'm putting it no, she proceeds to babble on doing her best to make me feel as bad about my body as possible. First, she loves my "melting candle" because it makes me unique. (This is my skin flap that's between my breasts and belly button.) Then, she goes on about this woman at the pool who is my age and wearing a thong when she shouldn't because her ass sags... just like mine. (But, she claims, this isn't anything I should be upset about, because I'm not wearing a thong.) Then she tells me that my "vagina" is showing.

At this point, I should have strangled her, but I was afraid of going to jail. I don't think she should count on that to save her if she does it again though.