Archive for July, 2009

Pre-Triathlon Planning

Tomorrow is race day. And I’m kicking myself that I did not take the day off from work today to relax and get ready. I’m nervous just as I was before my last race, but this time I at least have some idea of what to expect…except for the pool stuff. Laundry is done. Tonight I’ll pack my bag with a towel to dry off with and a towel to mark where my bike goes (last time I re-racked in the wrong spot). I’ll have my sneakers all set up with socks inside and my number pinned to my shirt. I’m sure I’ll still feel like I’m forgetting something important.

Tonight, after work, I’ll go register and get my body marked. This will take three hours since the race site is an hour away. Dinner when I get home will be much better than last time. Last time, I ate healthy but I ate too much and felt crummy the morning of the race. I have a much better dinner planned for tonight, but again, I feel like I’ll be eating a little late.

Lots and lots of water today. It promises to be warm and muggy tomorrow morning, not the race conditions I was hoping for but oh well. My biggest concern with the heat is that I will be doing the whole race with my swimsuit on. There’s nowhere to change. I suppose I can ride the bike in just my suit and shorts and then throw on my race jersey for the run (got a new cool under armour heat-tek shirt for tomorrow’s race).

They keep the water temperature pretty cool at the aquatic center. This will probably be a really good thing for the start of the bike ride. I at least won’t be overheated coming out of the pool like I often am when training. At my gym, the pool is a balmy 95 degrees or warmer–bath water.

Another thing I’m not sure about? Run with a hat or no hat? If it’s hot, the hat keeps the sweat out of my eyes but I really hate wearing a hat when I run. It’s not comfortable to me.

They give us sample gels when we register. I think I may use one tomorrow between the bike and the run to refuel. It’s a short race, but in training, on these really humid days, it still takes a lot out of you.

Transitions tomorrow have me a little freaked. The first race, because it became a duathlon, the transitions were simple. This time, the first one will be a bit of a challenge. I ride in my sneakers, so the second transition should be ok, other than jello legs off the bike.

I hope to finish tomorrow in under an hour. But, with the heat and in reality, I’ll be happy just to finish.

And then the rest of tomorrow will be a nice relaxing day. Ok, I feel better now having jotted down my concerns. I plan to do my best tomorrow and just have fun.

And then it will be on to the next one. I’m looking forward to the day where a race doesn’t cause me a week of anxiety!

The Tricky Thing About Weight Watchers Points

I am happy to report I was down 1.6 pounds at my Weight Watchers weigh-in this morning. I’m back on a losing track, which feels much better than the plateau that I was stuck on for three months. I’ve got about 19 pounds to go to get to goal. I can’t even remember the last time I only had 19 pounds to lose. And from my very heaviest weight, about 15 years ago, I’m down 98 pounds. I had lost and gained many times over the years, and had managed to keep about 30 pounds off from that highest number.

This time though will be the last time I lose weight because I’m not gaining it back. I’m down 61 pounds and feel better than I’ve felt in decades.

Anyway, about points. Today’s loss puts me in the  next bracket points-wise. I now get 20 points a day. I exercise a lot so I can always supplement and there’s always the 35 weekly points, but for me, there has been a psychological block about going over my daily allotted points.

A few weeks ago, I decided to pay more attention to what my body wanted to eat rather than staying in my points range. This is hard for me. I’m working on it, but I always want to cut myself off when I’m tracking and the screen tells me I’ve used all my points. I’ve resisted that. And at WW this morning, when I mentioned to the leader that I now lose a point, she told me not to do that. Stay with what I’m doing because it’s working.

So what is it that I’m doing? I actually allow myself a few more points. Not a gazillion or anything like that and not every day. But if  I have a hard workout or I’m just hungry, I eat. And I eat until I’m satisfied. I’ve been concentrating on making healthier choices too. Cocoa-roasted almonds rather than WW candy for instance for a sweet treat. Yogurt and strawberries rather than ice cream. Tomato slices or string beans with sea salt rather than pretzels.

Don’t get me wrong. I still leave room for treats like ice cream or cookies once or twice a day. I’m  trying to limit this a bit more and make sure my food counts. Its tough getting out of the mindset of points, points, points. But I had definitely gotten myself into a point rut, which really slowed things down. And I wasn’t eating enough food to sustain the exercising I was doing.

Weight Watchers is a great program and I owe a lot to the accountability and tools I have gained from it to make better food choices, the inspiration to get off my butt and move, the motivation I get from the leader, meetings and online stuff.

At some point though, we do have to trust ourselves if this is going to be a lifelong commitment. And while it may have seemed counter-intuitive to eat more to lose weight, for me, that seems to be working as long as I make good food choices most of the time. It took me a couple of months to get to this point because I was so worried about going over points. But I have more food freedom now, and by making sure I eat healthy rather than staying in points, the weight has started to come off again. I still track my food every day, but I pay more attention to the buttons that focus on getting the daily requirements.

On a race-training note, I rode 7 miles this morning—last workout before the big race on Saturday. I get to rest tomorrow. That will be nice. Keep your fingers crossed for me for less humidity.

Countdown To Race Day

This morning, I did my last brick workout before my upcoming Mini Mightyman triathlon on Saturday. I’m as ready as I’m going to be. This morning, though, my training felt really off. It was quite possibly the most humid morning I’ve gone out to train, so I biked 3 and ran two. It was already 74 degrees with 90% humidity at 6:15 am, I hadn’t eaten enough this morning, and I was so overheated, I had to walk twice during the run. I inhaled 32 ounces of water as soon as I walked through the front door.

The last run/bike bricks I’ve done have ended up in a pulled muscle in my hip, so I was kind of babying this one too. I didn’t want to get hurt 3 days before race day. At least today, I didn’t feel the pulling in my hip as much. I think that’s because I finally have the bike positioned correctly (handlebar extensions – six inches of reach that make a HUGE difference!).

Tomorrow I will probably bike one last time (unless it’s rainingin which case I’ll swim) and Friday is a day off to let my muscles recover for race day.

I’d like to finish this race in under an hour, but I will be happy with just the finish. My times should be better there than they’ve been in training: 1) because there are no hills on this course (and there are hills on my training routes that really slow me down on the bike and the run and 2) adrenaline usually helps in these situations. 🙂

I’ve learned a lot and come a long way since my race in April. I’ve trained better for this one and I’m not tapering nearly as much as I did the last time. This is a relatively short race, and it really wasn’t beneficial to take a few days off before the race last time. I have a better handle on what I should be eating and I’ll make sure I have a gel for between the bike and run if it’s really miserably hot out, so I’m fueled and hydrated.

I’m familiar with the run/bike course and we even hit the pool there once to swim. The swim was canceled the last time so that leg and the transition that follows it will be new and interesting. I’m looking most forward to the swim, since I’m confident in my ability in that discipline! I’m certainly not the fastest, but I’m a solid swimmer and I’ve always done well endurance-wise.

I feel ready, and I know my toughest critic will be me. I want to finish respectably. I have to remember that finishing is respectable.

I’m already planning my next race after this. Same park, same pool, longer distances, on Sept. 13. The Trek Women Triathlon Series – 1/4 mile swim, 9 mile bike, 3.1 mile run. All girls. I think that will be huge fun!

They have races all over the country. Check it out here: http://www.trekwomenstriathlonseries.com/index.htm

Getting Fit? Which Exercise Is Best?

In my quest to get fit, I’ve done lots of reading and research. Other people’s struggles. What works for them. The best shoes for my feet for running. The best exercise routine. I read the information and try to take away what I find most important. The stuff that will help me with what I want to do.

There seems to be two hard core exercise camps, and then a bunch of us in between. The cardio people (of which I am currently one) and the strength training crew (I aspire to strength training but am not quite there yet). What amazes me are the fanatic fringe in these camps. The cardio people who say you have to do cardio…it’s the only way to lose fat. Nothing else will work.

And the strength training folks who say you have to strength train because it builds muscle, which ups your metabolism. Nothing else will work. I read one strength training article that went so far as to say cardio is bad for you because it makes your body more efficient and if you ever have to stop your body will basically become a big blob again. I don’t know. I knew a weight lifter guy once who stopped lifting weights and he turned into a big blob too.

For me, I knew I needed goals to get fit, so I started training for triathlons. I like to swim, I can bike, and now I can run. Without something to train for, I knew I wouldn’t be regimented about exercising. For some reason, a healthy body was just not enough to get me into the pool or even into my sneakers.

Race training works for me. I have a goal. I work toward it. I feel like I’ve accomplished something when I complete a race. I look for a bigger goal.

What I’m doing, though, isn’t going to work for everyone. It’s not going to work for most people.

But something can work for everyone. For the strength trainers, it’s lifting weights. For the cardio people, it’s walking or running or swimming or…. For yoga people, it’s yoga… you get the idea. I’m betting it’s really best to do a little of all of those things.

Bottom line is if we’re going to get fit, we have to move, even if it’s just from the couch to the front yard at first. Even if it’s dancing to your favorite song in the living room.

I’ve found something that works for me and I’ve stuck to it for a year. It’s challenging, not boring and ultimately, fun. I do a little of other stuff and I plan to add more. But this was where I needed to start.

Whatever the fanatics say, I’ve lost weight, built muscle tone and have more energy. And when I take a day or two off, I don’t turn into a big blob, but I do look forward to getting back to my training.

Do what works for you. Do what you are going to stick to and enjoy. Do something that will challenge you and that you can build on. Have fun. And don’t listen to what everyone else has to say. That’s my prescription for a good exercise program.

New Running Music

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I wanted new music to go running with this morning. I love the music I run with now, but I’m getting a little tired of it, even though I change it up each time out. I jump around a lot, from Chris Daughtry to Gavin Rossdale to KT Tunstall to Collective Soul and Matchbox Twenty.

So last night before I went to bed, since I needed to charge my ipod anyway, I decided to download the latest Chris Daughtry album off of iTunes (at 11:30 at night). I owe a lot to Chris Daughtry. His first album got me walking, and then running, and well, here I am. For me, the tempo is just what I need to keep me moving, and I like his music.

I listened to the preview of a couple of the new songs and figured, I’ll like this. And I bought it. I was all excited about having new music to run with this morning.

When I went to download it though, my computer (which is kinda old) told me I needed to update to iTunes 7.6. Sigh. I go to update. Did I mention my computer is kinda old? Well, it’s slow too. I get a message that I need Windows Service Pack 2 before I can upgrade to iTunes 8.2. I go back and find iTunes 7.6 and attempt to upload that one. Now it’s like 12:15 am. Nope. Still need SP2 to upgrade to the latest iTunes.

So I attempt the Service Pack upgrade. My computer is not happy that I’m trying to throw all this new stuff at it, but it chugs along, initializing. Finally, updates start, I wait, and crap, the message tells me that I need the original XP cd. Yeah, ok. Did I mention that my computer is old? Do you think I have any idea where this cd might be? Now it’s 1:00 am, so I give up and go to bed.

But now I’m bound and determined to have new music this morning for my run. I wake up, get dressed, go to Walmart and buy the cd again, come home and head back to the computer. I upload the music, download it onto my iPod and I’m all set to go. It’s hot today…. and now it’s 8:15 am. I wanted to be done with my run by 8:00. I throw my stuff on, head out the door, and turn on my iPod. Nothing. Not even the old stuff. Argghhh.

I come back downstairs, re-sync my iPod. Ok, old music, no new music. Now, I won’t even leave the driveway until I find it. Finally, ah, a song I don’t know all the words too! My iPod didn’t sync in the order I had set up, but it was there.

Yay. Went for my run, it was a great one (2.5 miles in 26 minutes) , and  I really enjoyed my new tunes.

I’m wondering where I burned more calories? Actually running or fighting with the computer all night?

Goldilocks and the Three Bikes – A Triathlon Tale

cyclingI have a triathlon coming up in a week. And I have yet to find a bike I am comfortable with. I would be Goldilocks in this tale. I’m blonde, maybe not young, but hey, use your imagination.

My first bike was just too big. And the seat was too hard. And while I rode it in my first race, it freaked me out because my feet didn’t come anywhere near the ground and I felt like I had no control. And the seat hurt my butt…a lot. Gears were smooth and the bike was fast. It was a great bike, but not the right fit.

My second bike (and by the way these are borrowed bikes while I’m trying to figure out if I like this triathlon thing) is too small and the seat is too…are you ready for this?…soft! This bike is a girl’s bike so my feet do hit the ground, and while the bike is actually the right size, I can’t seem to keep the seat raised, so there is very little leg extension. Makes hills really tough. And the gears are fussy. And the extension between the seat and the handlebars doesn’t put me in the right position for racing. I’m too upright and the resistance is slowing me down (and trust me, I’m not that fast to begin with). Plus, the memory foam seat that I first looked at as a godsend hurts my tailbone. Go figure. I will probably, however, ride this bike in this race if I can get the seat thing figured out, cause I don’t know that I can afford a new one just now.

I need a bike that’s just right. And I will be going out to shop for one this weekend. Not too big, not too small. A soft, but not too soft seat and just the right cycling angle.  After all the right equipment is everything!

And then we can all triathlon happily ever after.

By the way, my bike knowledge is extremely limited so I’m open to suggestions! Nothing too pricey though.

Mind Over Matter

So yesterday, my doctor removed my crutch. As I mentioned in my last post, I have heart palpitations, an irregular heartbeat, tachycardia, whatever you’d like to call it. Basically, I can feel my heart beating a lot of the time, which at the very least is annoying, and at its worst is a little scary. I’ve been on a beta blocker for two years to keep my heartbeat more or less regular. Losing weight and exercising regularly has changed the composition of my body, and the beta blocker was causing my heart rate to drop precipitously when I’m in a resting state. On an EKG yesterday, my heart rate was 32 beats per minute. No, I’m not in a coma.

But the rate was sufficiently low enough for the doctor to tell me to stop taking my medication— immediately. I asked if I should continue exercising until I see the doctor again on Friday, and her answer was a resounding yes. That would at least raise my heart rate. My concern though is that would also trigger the palpitations again.

So this morning I went running. Or running/walking, I should say. Which kind of bummed me out. I am also having a slight issue with a muscle in my hip, which was all twingy this morning too. But more than that, my concern was that I would set my heart off on its funky beat again, a feeling I do not like.

So I ran. And then when I was feeling even a little winded, I would walk for a minute or two and then run again. All told, I probably only walked a half mile of a 2.5 mile run and I tried to run the rest of it at a faster pace, which was the plan for today’s run anyway.

I was frustrated with myself though. I haven’t let getting winded slow me to a walk in more than a month now. This morning though, I let fear get the better of me. I won’t let that happen again.

So far, no palpitations. And my heart rate has been holding steady at about 50 beats/minute. It was considerably higher after running this morning. It will take another day or two for the medication to be fully out of my system. But for the rest of this week, while I’ll stay alert, I won’t be letting a little thing like fear of heart palpitations slow me down again.

I have a race in less than two weeks after all.