January 30, 2011

Core Fusion: My New Obsession

Every offseason I vow to do more strength training, particularly core work, but never do. I find it boring and painful. Enter Core Fusion. I heard about this workout from a friend and immediately wanted to sign up. It's a technique combining the Lotte Berk Method, Pilates, core conditioning and cardio. The classes are heralded as one of the best workouts and said to yield unbelievable results.

I finally got the motivation to give it a shot in December, but holiday parties, travel and gluttony interfered. So I picked up the DVD and figured I'd test it out while traveling. I'm not the DVD workout kind of girl, but it seemed acceptable given I'd be out of town. After my first try I was in hideous pain for 3 days and I didn't even do the full body routine. Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I was hooked.

I finally made it to my first class over the weekend and it completely kicked my ass. I can run a marathon, do an Ironman and suffer through hours and hours of training, but I can't do simple, basic core moves. I was reduced to a burning, shaking pool of sweat by the end of class. I was humbled.

I went into class stiff and sore from Friday's long run so by Saturday night I was experiencing a new level of burn. Everything hurt - my shoulders, all parts of my back, my biceps, triceps, thighs, abs and muscles I didn't even know I had. So naturally I got up and did it again this morning and loved every minute (except for the minute or two I almost cried).

I only have 2 more days before leaving town and my one-week trial will end. I'll buy a package of classes to continue when I return and will hopefully have results to report in a few weeks.

January 28, 2011

Sixteen Dreadmill Miles

Snowpocalypse part III struck New York Wednesday and left me stranded at a hotel in the financial district unable to make it home after an event. It also left me unable to do my long run outside today so I had a choice: skip it (just like I skipped the previous 3 days' workouts) or suck it up and run 16 long miles on the dreadmill (aka the treadmill, for those who actually enjoy running indoors).

Thankfully the experience ended up being more tolerable than expected and went by surprisingly fast. I planned to break it up into parts - 6, 5 and 5, with a short break in between, but had forgotten that my programs the treadmills to stop after 30 minutes. So instead I paused for just a minute after each 30-minute interval to record my mileage and mentally regroup for the next one. This ended up working very well because it kept me from taking breaks, forced me to maintain a more consistent pace and made the miles fly by.

So what did I do for 2 hours, 18 minutes and 59 seconds while running?
  • Analyzed the lovely shade of blue the wall in front of me was painted. Note to self: try very hard to get a treadmill in front of the windows next time. You can only read the 5 rules of the fitness facility so many times.
  • Browsed through two catalogs. I figured I could get some shopping done and feel less guilty about throwing the catalog into the recycling without looking at it first.
  • Went through every song on my iPod and had to repeat a few. Must update running mix.
  • Found crafty ways to keep going when my 30-minutes was up, even when there were people waiting. I love breaking the rules.
  • Learned how to text and email on my iPhone without slowing my pace or falling.
  • Sweated approximately 3 pounds of my body weight.
I did 16 miles at an 8:41 average pace, which is pretty good for me these days. I used to be faster and hope to get back there someday, but for now I'll settle for injury-free and average. I'd also settle for the snow melting and the temp staying above 30, but that's highly unlikely. Just 6 more days before my next trip to California!

January 22, 2011

Manhattan Half-Marathon: An Epic PW

I like to think if you're going to fail, do it with flair and have a great story to tell. That's exactly what I did today at the Manhattan Half-Marathon, aka the coldest, most miserable, excruciating, slow, brutal race. Did I mention miserable? Runners love to talk about setting a PR (personal record), but what about a PW (personal worst)?

My friend Beth came up from Philly to join me for a second time at this race. It was 14 degrees and brutal the first time around so why we thought it would be fun to do it again is beyond me. She arrived Friday evening and the revelry began. We had two years of catching up to do over many glasses of wine, and suffice it to say we behaved exactly how one shouldn't behave before a race.

With Beth at our final celebration spot

We went to sleep around 12:30am slightly inebriated and set the alarm for 30 minutes before the race. I'm not sure if I simply selected the wrong time or if I thought we'd be magically teleported to Central Park, but it was never going to get us there on time. Plus we had to pick up our numbers and timing chips at a completely different location before 7:30. I was awakened by Beth saying, "Kristin, it's 6:54." We had seconds to decide if we'd attempt to make it or do what we really wanted to do, which was go back to sleep. But our adventurous sides won and we dressed and ran out the door in 10 minutes flat. A very impressive performance.

Best pre-race dinner EVER

Wearing yesterday's makeup and still feeling a little buzzed we realized we'd have to skip number pick-up and go straight to the race. We wouldn't have official times but neither of us cared. We suddenly bought ourselves enough free time to stop for coffee, an absolutely brilliant decision. We sweet talked race officials into checking our bag even though we had no official proof we were racing and strolled to the start about 10 minutes late. I was in denial I'd have to drag my hungover self around Central Park twice and then just for fun, run an extra mile.

The race went exactly how you'd expect it to go under these circumstances. I started out at a respectable 8:50 pace but spent too much time fighting back the urge to vomit so I eased up. For an idea of how my stomach felt, check out this blog on the running phenomenon the blogger coined "burfing." I settled into a consistent 9:15-9:30 pace, a full minute slower per mile than I should be running. My legs felt like lead and I saw my life flash before my eyes on the hills. Then somewhere around Mile 5 my pace went from ridiculously slow to glacial. I could barely move myself forward. I actually thought about bagging the race after one loop but the thought of sitting around in the freezing cold waiting for Beth made me push on. I hit 13.1 miles in about 2:05:00 and completed 14 in 2:14:00.

The positives about this race:
  • About every 20 minutes I burst into laughter at the memory of our crazy morning and the crazy night that got us there. It was priceless. I think my fellow runners thought I was insane.
  • The 14 degree temp sobered me up lightning fast.
  • By Mile 9 my hangover was completely gone.
  • One year ago I couldn't run. I was still fighting through the final phase of recovery from my torn PF. Even a miserably cold hangover run is a gift.
  • You can't take everything so seriously. Having a fun night with a friend and managing to do the race, even if not ideally, is far better than not enjoying and embracing life's moments.
  • I shared it with a good friend and will definitely remember this one.
And the best thing of all is the brunch we ate afterward. This, my friends, is reason enough to drag yourself out of bed and go for a run. It was followed up by a two-hour nap and a very relaxing evening in pajamas with the cat. So in the end, this might have been the perfect day.

All mine, and I had a donut for dessert

January 19, 2011

California Dreamin'

What a weekend. I couldn't take time away from fun and sun to blog so you'll have to settle for the brief summary: it was AMAZING! The weather couldn't have been more perfect and the running was spectacular.
Sun setting in Ventura

I logged more than 20 miles including a 14-mile trail run in Sycamore Canyon that culminated with 30 minutes in total darkness and an encounter with a large animal... Coyote? Mountain lion? Who knows, but it made me run faster despite having no ability to see the ground.

Driving to Santa Ynez

We went to Santa Ynez wine country and hit some of the "Sideways" spots. We walked on the beach, watched beautiful sunsets and drank tons of wine. And I slept in. A lot. Does it get any better?

Sideways tour - no Merlot!

I'm now even more thankful I'm doing the LA Marathon. I have incentive to keep up the training and get back to sunny California. But it looks like I won't have to wait that long, there are already plans for another Winter escape next month!

January 13, 2011

Escape From Winter

What a crazy week. One minute it was Monday and then suddenly it was today and I was on my way to California for a long, sun-filled weekend. I'll be north of Los Angeles where I'm expecting the daily temps to exceed 70 degrees. I may have only packed two things suitable for that warm but I don't care. I'm so tired of being cold! This is a much-needed break that will include some beautiful outdoor running. And hopefully a lot of wine drinking.

Be jealous my friends. Very, very jealous.

I've taken the liberty of rest days on my optional bike/swim days due to a busy week. When given the choice between an extra 1.5 hours of sleep or a spin on the trainer, I'd rather sleep. Unfortunately I had my first missed run this week, a missed a run this week, a progressive 5-miler slated for Tuesday. I was exhausted in the morning and getting home at 9pm made it very unappealing.

I'll be in California for the next 4 days and then I'm off to Cincinnati for business. It will be 40 degrees cooler and I'll be back on the treadmill so I plan to make the most of this weekend!

January 9, 2011

Hard to Swallow

You'd think after a week of consuming the same juices day in and day out that I'd wake up Saturday morning and hit the bagel shop as a reward for all the discipline. I was pretty hungry Friday night due to the morning run and staying up really late, but surprisingly I woke up Saturday with barely an appetite. I waited about an hour and finally had this:

Green apple with almond butter

I made it through about 3/4 of the apple and was stuffed. I decided to stay off the caffeine so I had a cup of decaf and hated it. What happened to my taste buds??? I had a banana about an hour later and lunch about 2 hours after that. Lunch made me very happy:

Brown rice, avocado and poached egg with hot sauce

Sounds strange but tastes amazing. It's become a go-to snack, especially after long workouts. The avocado's creamy texture and the spicy hot sauce were such a pleasure after all that juice.

I had a big salad and half a baked sweet potato for dinner and had to call it a day. My stomach wouldn't accept anymore. I hit just under 1,300 calories, which is low for an athlete, but good coming off a 1,000 calorie per day cleanse. I also treated myself to two glasses of barolo. After not having a drink for a week I deserved it. The wine went straight to my head, seems I'm now a cheap date.

My long run was today and to say it was cold would be an understatement. I know it's waaaaay colder in other parts of the country, but I'm a New Yorker and I can only handle so much. It was 29, which doesn't seem bad, but the feels like temp was 17 and that was due to the icy wind gusting off the East river. I had to change directions when the wind finally ripped my hat off and I felt like I was running straight uphill. I was pretty flat given the lack of glycogen stores, but managed to stay just below a 9:00 pace average for 12 miles, about 20-30 seconds per mile slower than my usual. But I rank all of my runs on pain level and today, there was none. My feet seem to be cooperating for now.

January 7, 2011

Cleanse Day 5: The End

Well, I did it. I stuck to the plan, I didn't cheat and I didn't sleep in and skip my training either. I opted to only do the running this week since my swimming and biking are active recovery at this point and my coach didn't want me burning precious calories. But I nailed the 3 run workouts that fell within my cleanse and logged 17 miles.

Today was another 6 mile run, an effort I was honestly a little skeptical about. Everyone warned me that my energy would be at rock bottom by the last day and there was no way I'd be able to run nearly an hour. I woke up feeling pretty flat and as I jogged to the gym (it was snowing and slippery, yet again) I felt pretty wretched and my legs burned walking up the stairs to the locker room. I figured I'd aim to hit 3 and call it a day. But after easing in I felt fine and my energy actually improved toward the end so I decided to go for the full 6 and pick up the pace. It's still way slower than the pace I usually run, but considering I'm consuming 1,050 calories per day I was pretty happy.

I stopped at the market to buy some avocados, something I am very much looking forward to for tomorrow, and decided to pick up a bunch of vegetables to help ease me out of the cleanse. As I put them away, I had my first pangs of sadness that I couldn't eat them. I'm still not hungry, in fact I have zero appetite, but that arugula looked so good and I imagined it drizzled with my really good olive oil and fleur de sel. I stood right next to the pastry case while waiting to pay and even that didn't phase me, which means it's a good thing this cleanse is almost over. Vegetables should never be more crave-worthy than cake.

January 6, 2011

Why Cleanse?

A few people have asked why I'm doing this cleanse and what the benefits are so I thought I'd share more about that today. I have been wanting to do this for quite some time, but being an Ironman triathlete logging 15 or so hours of training a week means you can't even think about it. I did two Ironmans last year so there was never a good time and it kept getting put off further and further. It would be suicide to attempt it in December during Holiday mania, so the first of the year felt right.

I've had 3 really fun months of offseason life, doing all of the things you can't do or aren't supposed to do while training, which included drinking too much, staying up too late and eating all the wrong foods. If you don't take a break, you'll go crazy, so I have no regrets (well, except for maybe the 10 pounds I gained... oops) but there comes a point where you just need to start over. Enter the cleanse.

There are many types of cleanses you can do ranging from fasts where you consume primarily water to nutritional cleanses that are largely food based. I wanted to really take a break so I opted for a liquid nutritional cleanse so I wouldn't be in total calorie deprivation and experience serious detox symptoms. Breaking my caffeine addiction was bad enough. The idea behind cleansing, particularly liquid-based cleanses, is that by allowing your body to divert energy away from digestion it can work harder to clear your system of toxins. Cleansing is also a spiritual tradition in many cultures, usually done as a fast.

My hope was that I would come out of this experience feeling refreshed, feeling like I rid myself of bad offseason habits, and have a different appreciation for food. I also wanted to feel I had accomplished something because besides the training conflicts, I avoided this because I thought I couldn't do it. I didn't think I had the discipline and as it turns out, I do. I don't think there is anything more satisfying than doing things you thought weren't possible.

I am just about done with Day 4 and my second day of liquid only. I feel really good, still no cravings and I'm even less hungry than before. Someone asked me today what my first solid food would be on Saturday morning and I honestly hadn't thought about it. You can't break a cleanse with a huge meal so I imagine it will be something simple and small, and just might include that almond butter I was thinking about yesterday.

January 5, 2011

Cleanse Day 3: Surprising Willpower

I completed Day 3, which was also my first day of juice only. I was concerned about how I'd feel without any solid food and ended up pleasantly surprised. The day started with an incredible 6 mile run. I slept like a rock last night, most likely due to ridding my system of caffeine, and woke up immediately when my alarm went off. I was a little nervous based on yesterday's run, but was told to pull the plug early if I needed so I gave it a shot. I deliberately slowed the pace and unlike yesterday, I wasn't desperately waiting for it to end. I felt great and for lack of a better word, really calm. I had about a quarter of my first juice immediately after and waited until 9 to start the rest of the day's schedule.

I felt really good all day. My energy level was strong and the caffeine detox symptoms seem to be gone. And for the first time in this cleanse, I wasn't hungry at all aside for the time between Juices 1 and 2 from the run. I also realized I haven't had any major cravings yet. I did have a lovely thought about almond butter for a fleeting second, but it passed as quickly as it appeared. I don't feel deprived and the sense of satisfaction from doing this and sticking to it is really satisfying. I felt pretty toxic from the past 3 months of offseason living and needed a break. This is giving it to me.

It's one thing to sit in my office with the door closed all day and not look at people's lunches, but it's another to put myself in a place where I'm surrounded by food and drink. I joined a girlfriend for a drink after work, which included her drinking two beautiful glasses of wine in front of me while I sipped green juice and still water with lemon. I can't even have sparkling! People were eating all sorts of deliciousness around us and I realized I didn't mind. I didn't feel cheated and wasn't at all tempted. That was the best feeling of all.

I know I'm being judged for doing this while training for a marathon, but I had decided to do this long before the marathon was even happening. My training and racing are really important but they aren't the only things in my life. A friend really challenged me on it today and I told him this is something I needed to do for me the person, not me the athlete. Sometimes we have to make those choices and for now, I don't regret this one.

January 4, 2011

Cleanse Day 2: Interesting Ups and Downs

Here is a glimpse of Day 2 of the cleanse.
  • 5:45am - Wow, I felt pretty good despite the fact I had to get up 3 times to pee in the night. Oh, and I did have chills on and off again.
  • 6:15am - Out the door for a run. Would I really be able to do it? First couple miles weren't so bad, but I eventually had to slow the pace down.
  • 7:15am - Oh. My. God. I couldn't feel my legs and when I finally stopped I had a massive head rush that took a few seconds to pass. But I did it! Five miles and not an entirely embarrassing pace.
  • 9:00am - Had my first juice, it was like sweet nectar from heaven even though it's essentially a ground up salad. I felt amazing. Who needs coffee???
  • 11:30am - Time for juice #2 and I was starving. Felt fine within minutes of starting it.
  • 12:00pm - Oh boy... is that caffeine withdrawal setting in? It felt like someone was squeezing my head and I was still hungry. And tired. And crabby. And couldn't focus. Not good.
  • 1:30pm - Thank god for juice #3. The caffeine symptoms were subsiding as well. I felt better. Not great, but better.
  • 3:30pm - Juice #4 and all was right with the world. I was suddenly awake, headache was gone and I no longer felt like gnawing off a finger.
  • 5:30pm - Had my first solid food, a small raw "juice bar." I actually held out 30 minutes longer than needed.
  • 7:30pm - My final dinner. Tonight's was a yellow bell pepper and thyme soup and a collard wrap with lemon-herb vegetables. Nothing is cooked, everything is cold, but surprisingly good. I'm holding out for my tiny dessert, cinnamon mousse.
As of right now I feel good. I had a couple rough patches for sure but thankfully each passed quickly. I have no doubt I'll have some serious challenges in the next few days given this is my sole nutritional content.

I'm not sure if it's all the vegetables or just the satisfaction of having the discipline to do this and resist temptation, but it's making me feel amazing. Not in a physical sense necessarily (not yet), but as an accomplishment. I've often considered myself too lacking in willpower to handle a challenge like this.

I'm going to attempt a 6 mile run tomorrow. I'm running a mile outside and the rest at the gym in case I don't feel well. My coach told me to see how I feel and pull the plug after 4 or 5 if I'm not up to it. Fingers crossed, hopefully this mousse has some agave nectar in it!

January 3, 2011

Fresh Start

Today it began. The cleanse I've been contemplating, but could never seem to find the right time or enough courage to attempt. Starting a cleanse immediately following the holidays isn't the best timing due to the higher level of detox, but it's perfect for kick-starting the year on the right foot. I eased into it ever so slightly by cutting my coffee intake to one cup (vs. the 2-4 roasty cups I prefer) over several days, not eating any meat after my 5am burger on New Year's Eve/Day, increasing my fruit and vegetable consumption, and throwing out every bit of food that would tempt me. I was ready.

I'm doing the Blueprint Cleanse and am starting with 2 days of Juice 'til Dinner and then will advance to 3 days of the Foundation level cleanse, which consists of only juice. The 2 days of juice with a small amount of raw, vegan food will make the 3 days of juice a little easier to stomach. Or so I hope.

Blueprint makes it incredibly easy to cleanse, all you need to supply is the willpower. My first 2 days arrived Sunday afternoon neatly packed up. It was scary to see 2 entire days worth of food in such a small box.

Here is what a day on Juice 'til Dinner looks like. When I transition to Foundation I'll have the same 4 juices here, plus an additional green juice and a cashew milk, which I hear tastes like pure heaven after all of that juice.

I'm aiming to stick to this 100%, I even gave up coffee and so far am not suffering from the awful withdrawal symptoms. There are "cheat foods" listed for the juice days if you really can't take it, but I plan to do my best to see this through. I know I'll feel a million times better at the end of the week. Once I finish the Foundation cleanse I'll ease out over the course of another week, starting with mostly fruits and vegetables and slowly adding foods back in.

My training may suffer a little due to diminished energy levels, but I'm going to do my best to keep it up at a lower intensity. I had a challenging 10.5 mile run yesterday so I opted to give the legs a rest today and take a long walk with a friend instead.

Send some willpower my way!


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