October 29, 2010

Is Runner's World Taunting Me?

I recently unsubscribed from Runner's World in a most dramatic fashion. I somehow had been deemed a "VIP," which meant they automatically renewed and billed my subscription without asking me if I wanted it. Said renewal went unnoticed and I got a note from a collection agency... for a $10 magazine!!! Other mags do this, namely Outside, and I find it brazen and obnoxious. I had been feeling like Runner's World was lacking in compelling content and wasn't planning to renew... then I got the notice. So I called and chewed out the customer service agent, letting them know what I thought of their VIP program.

I felt liberated. If you read the magazine long enough it feels like the same topics and advice keep coming around. How much can you say about a single sport after all? Then I noticed a couple stories on the cover of the November issue that intrigued me so I grabbed a copy at the airport. The story that caught my eye the most was "The Last Great Race," a piece about Bart Yasso's final race before retiring from the sport due to chronic Lyme disease. He could barely walk, but managed to conquer the 56 brutal miles of the Comrades Marathon. I also enjoyed the article about minimalist footwear, "Is Less More?" While you aren't likely to ever see me sporting a pair of Five Fingers, I am very intrigued by the notion of going back to basics. After tearing my plantar fascia and essentially starting over, I moved from overdone stability - Asics Kayano, to significantly less shoe - Brooks Ghost, and have been happy with the results. After this latest round of recovery I plan to do one short run each week in a super-light training shoe like the Nike Free. Baby steps.

I'm not racing out to renew my subscription just yet, but thought much of the November issue was worth reading. If you have a little time on your hands like I do, I recommend you have a look.

October 27, 2010

Races of a Lifetime

My blogger buddy Jon recently posted about race bucket lists. We all have them. The races we've dreamed about doing before we leave this earth and for many of us they are the obvious ones - Kona, Boston, Alcatraz. But for others they are surprising and different. I've been amassing a list for several years and posted it as a comment to his original post. I thought I'd share it here:

Ironman Western Australia
Ironman New Zealand
Ironman South Africa
Vineman 70.3
Maraton du Medoc
Comrades (uphill year)
The Relay
Triple T
Boston Marathon
Kona, of course :)

The nature of a bucket list is that you tend to let it sit until that proverbial bucket is ready to be kicked. I've decided I want to start kicking it now, life is short after all right? My first Ironman in 2011 isn't until September. I also have a unique year approaching in 2012 that will make my usual Ironman plans somewhat difficult. So now might be the time.

I'm putting together a team for the 2011 Relay in Northern California. I don't care if I have to fill it with strangers, I will be heading out in a van on April 30 from Calistoga ready for California's longest party. And when 2012 rolls around I plan to be training for the "Up Year" of the Comrades Marathon. This might be the ultimate dream race for me, registering way higher than Kona or Boston. If I can finish this, I truly believe I can do anything.

Then in the fall I'd like to tie things up with a bow by running the 2012 Maraton du Medoc. If I survive the 20 wine tasting stops, oysters and dancing, I might do another fall marathon and declare 2012 as the year of really living. I have no doubt it would be incredibly memorable.

As for the rest of the list? I hope I have time. It's all any of us can really hope for. After all, everything we do in this sport is a gift.

October 26, 2010

An Unfortunate Encounter With Cipro

I was a bit under the weather and needed an antibiotic. My doc prescribed a quick, 3-day dose of Cipro and said I'd be good to go. I HATE antibiotics so I was pleased to hear I'd only have to take 3 pills and put it into the past. I started the course on Friday and took my final pill at brunch on Sunday, still dressed in my Army 10-Miler race clothes.

While perusing the side effects on Friday I noticed a warning of possible tendon rupture. Huh? How does an antibiotic make your tendons rupture? I figured it was one of those bizarre and super rare side effects you can ignore so we proceeded to joke about it all weekend, especially at the race. During the Army 10 I felt an odd pain in my foot and even chuckled to myself, "gee I hope my tendons aren't rupturing." But as it turns out, it's not as rare as you may think so when a doc friend advised me to be careful I reached out to my podiatrist and he agreed. He told me no running for 10 days. What!?! I just started running again!

So here I am, taking yet another running hiatus. I've had enough injuries to last me a lifetime so I don't need another. I had an incredible ride today. It was my first time outdoors in over 2 weeks and I immediately ran into one of the peloton riders so we did a loop and a half together before being overtaken by the full peloton. He encouraged me to jump in so I did, but I was feeling like I did back in the early summer when I could barely keep up. I hung on for a loop and then let them drop me, there was no way I could keep up after doing zero for a week and not being on the bike for so long. But the ride was great, I averaged nearly 19mph over 20 miles so I'm still better off than I was at the start of this season. If my tendons don't explode I should be back in business shortly. And there's always the pool...

October 24, 2010

Where in the World is Kristin?

Well friends, this may have been the longest hiatus I've taken from posting, even longer than the time I deliberately took a hiatus. I've had two of the busiest weeks imaginable, both on the work and personal fronts, so sharing updates took a backseat. Unfortunately training also joined it in the backseat this past week. Here's what I've been up to:

Week of October 11

Work, work and more work. After that magical weekend I headed into a not-so-magical week. I had a huge event Wednesday that required a huge rehearsal Tuesday and a late night Monday. I fought back by squeezing in as many workouts as possible, making me feel like I retained some level of control. I had a good run Monday morning, a little over 4 miles at an 8:47 average. I've been struggling to get my old run pace back and have been stuck at the 9-minute pace for awhile so I was happy. Tuesday was an early start and late finish so I did a quick 30 minutes on the trainer with hard intervals. Something is better than nothing right?

After surviving the event and two 14-hour days, I caught up a bit on Friday with an hour on the bike and more intervals before hitting the road for State College, PA for the Tussey Mountainback Relay. I'll do a full post on that this week, but until then, here I am with my fellow runners on "Team Dude, Where's My Van?"

Week of October 18

Nothing to see here folks. I'm not sure what happened, but nothing happened on the training front. I was very sore from the relay (surprisingly I must say) so Monday was a bust. But after the soreness wore off, I never really got back into the swing of things so I blew off the entire week and focused on social plans instead, including a 6-course pig dinner and a night at my favorite restaurant in NYC, Marea. I don't regret it, but my waistline regrets it a little.

I flew to Washington DC Thursday for a long weekend with my sister and the Army 10 Miler, one of my favorite running races. After the week of doing nothing, I was a little nervous about how I'd feel. I also had to go on antibiotics Friday and spent Saturday at a wine tasting. Add to that the fact that I have only run a handful of times since IMWI and it was a recipe for disaster. But thankfully it ended up being a beautiful day to race and I felt fantastic. I finished in 1:26:05 (unofficial), only 3 minutes slower than my first time here in 2008 and just over an 8:30 average. I'll take it.

I'll also do a post on the race this week as I go into catch-up mode. I have yet to do my Ironman Wisconsin race report so that is also slated to come shortly. Here's hoping I can stay on the wagon.

October 10, 2010

The Perfect Weekend

How often can you say you had the perfect weekend? I've had some good ones, and even a few perfect ones, but it's been awhile. Even though I was heading into this one somewhat unplanned, things fell into place and I'd say it was pretty close to perfect.

The weather was gorgeous so I biked and ran Friday, totally pain free. A friend was free and eager to join me at a new restaurant that just opened this week. A different friend was only blocks away so I met her for a drink first.

An incredible Saturday ride ended up coming together with my friend Dan. We spend five hours riding and talking, enjoying a beautiful fall day. I barely noticed the time we spent pedaling.

Today I rode again, this time solo but still really great. I was forced off my planned route due to a parade and was thoroughly proud that I used my GPS to find a new route and not end up lost in New Jersey. And then tonight while cleaning and prepping for the week, a friend stopped by to pick something up and we ended up drinking wine and chatting for a couple hours. It was far more fun than going out and totally unexpected.

I think the beauty of the offseason really hit me this weekend. We work so hard for so many months and deserve to take a break. For me the break is not a break from the sport so to say, but a break from the obligation. I want to ride my bike whether I'm training for an Ironman or not. I rode 132 miles this weekend simply because I wanted to. Yesterday we tackled 70 miles and every hill we could find... but just for fun. Today I took it easy, avoided the hills and just enjoyed the feel of riding. Because I could. Because I didn't have anything else I needed to do. What an incredible feeling.

October 8, 2010

Detox Wrap Up

Now that the end of a long week has arrived, I wanted to share the results of my detox. This wasn't an extreme approach, no special drinks or juices, no fasting, no supplements. I simply wiped my diet of sugar, refined grains, processed foods and essentially any unhealthy excess. I followed a plan consisting of three small meals with three snacks in between, all made up of vegetables (spinach, arugula, asparagus, tomatoes, edamame, red peppers, cucumber, sweet potatoes), protein (chicken breast, salmon, egg whites), fruits (apples, oranges, berries, limited bananas) and a small amount of grains (brown rice, sprouted grain bread). Each meal was between 200-400 calories and the snacks were about 150-200. Because everything was healthy, my daily calorie intake was much lower than normal, but I felt relatively satisfied.

The first two days of a change in diet like this are hard. I had a headache (mostly because I shunned coffee for two days... I don't recommend it), a hollow feeling in my stomach and was tired. But by the third day I felt incredible. I was sleeping like a rock, had a high level of energy and nailed a hard bike interval workout after a relatively low consumption day. I wasn't missing sugar at all and wasn't feeling deprived.

Weight loss was not my goal in this, but I did lose a couple pounds. I dropped nearly two almost immediately, likely from spending the better part of Monday in the loo shedding the pound or more of fluid from my previously inflammatory diet, plus I was drinking a tremendous amount of water. I then gained a pound back, and even more oddly felt a little bloated on Wednesday. But as of today, the total weight loss for the week is 1.6 pounds.

The more interesting outcome is the change in my tastes and desires. I love almond butter, but used to find it a little bland without a drizzle of honey on it. But after two days of detox, almond butter tasted pleasantly sweet, like I could truly enjoy the flavor since I wasn't eating artificially sweet things. And the biggest eye opener was yesterday. My detox ended when I went to bed Wednesday night and yesterday I ordered cupcakes for my team at work. I had a cupcake myself - a big, 700 calorie sugar bomb - and it made me feel ill. I was unable to eat for nearly four hours after, developed a headache and was nauseated the rest of the day. A week ago, that cupcake would have seemed like heaven.

I'm aiming to follow the approach about 80% of the time. I did this most of last summer and lost a great deal of body fat and felt better than ever. But while I'm an athlete, I'm also a foodie and I'm not going to restrict anything in my life 100%. Instead I'll make choices, and hopefully it all balances out in the end. Today I'm eating super cleanly in anticipation of a spectacular dinner. A friend and I are checking out Osteria Morini, a new restaurant in Soho that just opened on Monday. It should be just the right anti-detox for a perfect Friday night.

October 6, 2010

Oh, The Irony

Junk Food: The New Weight Loss Diet? - US News and World Report

As I close on Day 3 of my detox I find this article incredibly ironic. I haven't had any sugar, refined grain or processed food since Monday and even gave up coffee for a couple days. All with a goal of changing my eating habits for the better. The professor featured in this article did exactly the opposite: he went on a junk food diet to prove weight loss is simply calories in, calories out. And it worked! He lost 15 pounds eating Twinkies and other sugary snacks.

While he's not advocating we exist on Hostess products, he is making a valuable point. There is no magic to weight loss. It takes discipline, whether it's the choices we make about the foods we eat or being more aware of the amount we eat. I, for one, think it would be ideal to accomplish both.

October 5, 2010

Training For... Nothing

As the blog name implies, I am in fact lazy. I may have done three Ironmans in 12 months while juggling one of the busiest year's of my life, but deep down I have a strong desire to sleep late, eat muffins and spend my free time on the couch. This side of me took over during the last offseason and I spent the entire spring and early summer cursing my indulgent lifestyle and lack of fitness. After a somewhat miraculous comeback and huge PR in Wisconsin I was fueled with motivation and had a million offseason goals swirling through my head - improved running form, increased bike speed, Michael Phelps-like swimming, more strength training than you could dream of. I muddled through my recovery weeks hitting about 50% of the workouts and not feeling an ounce of guilt over the other 50%. That's what recovery is for. But as of Monday, the beginning of a new month, I vowed to step it up and make this offseason a valuable one.

So how has it gone? Honestly, it's been a bit of a struggle. I'm a person who is incredibly motivated by a big goal, or fear of that big goal. With my next important race almost a year away, the little voice in my head tells me to hit snooze when the alarm goes off and tells me it's ok to skip my workout after a long day.

I'm proud to say I've ignored the little voice and dragged my sleepy self out of bed in the dark, cold and rain yesterday morning to ran. Sure it was only for 25 minutes (hey, I'm still recovering) but it made me feel rather accomplished. And tonight when the voice told me to lay on the couch and watch Law & Order I instead put the bike on the trainer and banged out intervals. If I can just get into a groove, I think I will make it through this offseason in far better shape.

Does anyone else struggle with motivation this time of year?

Day two of the self-imposed detox is complete. I'll share the results once I survive the full three days.

October 3, 2010

Fall Fun Detour

I recently posted my Fall Fun schedule, a series of activities to keep me occupied during this lengthy recovery phase. The first activity happened as scheduled and actually ended up being much bigger than anticipated. But the second activity fell off the plan due to a lack of friend wanting to wallow in the mud and a sudden dip in temperatures that made wallowing in the mud sound about as fun as a root canal. Instead I rode with a new friend and it was the first ride in a very long time that was done purely for the joy of biking. It didn't matter how far we went, how long it took, what my HR was, how many carbs I consumed (cinnamon chip muffin anyone?). We just rode, and we even started at 9am instead of the 7am I'm so used to.

I had a little detour at the beginning after riding over a nail and flatting instantly. In all my years cycling this has never happened to me. I felt a little bump as I rode over it and about three seconds later I felt the disturbing feeling of my rim scraping the ground. I was on the George Washington Bridge, thankfully almost all the way across and about a half mile from a bike shop. Have you walked a half mile in cleats pushing a bike with a totally flat tire? It wasn't fun, but could have been significantly worse. We lost about an hour total and were back on the road, enjoying 50 miles on a beautiful fall day.

I'm still not fully recovered but feel I've come a long way. If the rain holds off this week I'll be attempting a Prospect Peloton ride to see where my fitness stands. If the weather lets me down I'll reluctantly get on the trainer and do the intervals. At least there won't be any nails.

I prepped my Monday detox food tonight so I can kick things off in the morning. I'm pretty excited and already feel a little better knowing I'm doing this. I got a little half-bottle of wine to toast my last toxic night and serve as a cook's helper for all the prepping. I'm aiming for Monday - Wednesday for sure, and if I feel good I'll go through Thursday. After that I'll stick to the general rules but will allow myself a little more slack, including another glass of wine. It gives me something to look forward to.

October 2, 2010

Goodbye, Recovery

Tomorrow will be exactly three weeks from Ironman Wisconsin and I couldn't feel more out of shape than I do right now. At first recovery is delightful. I enjoyed sleeping in, having a Sunday that included brunch as my big activity and having my "long" workout be 1.5 hours. But inactivity breeds inactivity and I'm starting to feel the need to get going again.

In addition to being minimally active, I've been eating and drinking everything I shouldn't. It started with my usual race-week and post-race indulgences, but it's a slippery slope and I've now turned into a sugar-craving beast and feel awful after every sweet morsel. Exhibit A to the left, an ice cream made with beer that we had as our second dessert last night. After a couple low points last week involving an entire bag of M&Ms and two Nutella pizzas I decided it was time to clean the diet back up. After all, I have that offseason goal to lose 13 pounds, which is now 14 thanks to my recent lifestyle.

I thought about doing something extreme like a juice cleanse to break the bad eating cycle, but was concerned I'd be too low energy to continue workouts. So instead I'm going back to my no sugar, no refined grains, no processed food diet and will kick it off with 3-4 days of lower calorie, extremely clean eating. Absolutely no exceptions. I'm even going to skip the coffee in an attempt to detox the system a little.

I did my first post-race run last night and it went well. It was only 20 minutes but was pain-free and my legs aren't feeling fatigued anymore. I had a good ride Wednesday and a solid interval ride in the park today as well so I think I'm ready start again. I'm hoping to re-join the Prospect Peloton next week and see if I can keep up.


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