Saturday, November 5, 2011

Marin County Triathlon Race Report 2011

What a day!  I finished in around 1 hour, 41 minutes, give or take.  I got a little teary at the finish line, which I was not expecting, I was definitely challenged but I had fun facing up to it and felt very grateful for my health and my body.

And now, for more details than are necessary.

I got up at 5:30am, a little later than I wanted (I didn't hear the alarm) but still with plenty of time to get there.  I only had a few things to do before I left - get some coffee, eat breakfast, get dressed, grab my phone, grab my bag, put my bike on the car - I remembered most of them.  On my way to the event I realized I forgot to eat breakfast.  Doh!  So I stopped at a gas station and purchased a Special K protein meal bar.  Ok, back on the road.

I parked a little less than 2 miles from the park and got all my gear ready.  I knew it would be dark at that hour (it was still totally dark last week at 6:30am when I left boot camp) so I'd put a light on my bike.  That was smart because it was totally dark.  A guy followed me the whole way and thanked me for having a light.  More on him in a second.  So I was riding while wearing my gear bag messenger style and it slipped to the side a few times.  It was heavy and moving it back around to my back made me wobble on the bike.  I decided I am going to ask for a tri backpack for Christmas.  But I made it to the park and all was good.

I got in line for number marking and the volunteers asked if we want to number one another to keep things moving faster.  Sure!  I numbered the guy that followed me in, and he numbered me.  He asked if was a pro being that I had such a low number, 11, and I laughed. I appreciated the humor at 6:30am on a cold morning.  After that I headed into transition to choose a bike spot.  It wasn't crowded yet at all so I got a spot right near the swim exit.  I considered setting up near where we take our bikes out but decided I'd rather have a shorter walk in my wetsuit and a longer one with my bike.

A few minutes after I started setting up the person who'd set up in the spot next to me returned and said, "Oh good, I'm glad you're here."  Or something like that.  She went on to say it was her first triathlon and she was very nervous.  Her name is Naomi and she was supposed to do this with a very experienced friend (a person who's actually won some of these things) but her friend had last-minute gall bladder surgery so Naomi was going it alone.  She's done other events, just not a triathlon, so was nervous about the swim part.  I helped all I could, being a sort-of newbie still myself, and did my best to help her stay calm.  That's Naomi, on the right, and that's Marisa, in the middle.  She's one of the staff at TriMore Fitness (the group I did the practice swims with and the "official training partner" of the event).  As you can see from this picture, it's starting to get light out.  This was taken at 7:38 so we're 22 minutes from start, about an hour from our wave.  The guy on the other side of me realized he forgot his goggles and asked if we had an extra set.  I did!  He was grateful and I felt good about being neurotic.

All my gear is set up, I tried to take a picture of my set-up but mostly just got my bike.  Nerves, I guess.  So off we go to watch the first people take off.  It was very exciting, hearing the horn blow, seeing the swimmers take off and come in.  And then it was time for my wave, the female "40 and over" wave.  There were only two female age groups, under 40, or over.  Our wave had pink swim caps.  The younger ladies had blue swim caps.  I was happy with the pink. The men had a third age group in the middle, 35-44. was our time to get in the water so I did.  The water was cold for sure but with the adrenaline I felt like it didn't quite register.  I was too focused on the whole event to put much attention on the water temperature I guess.

So before you know it the horn went off for us, and off we went.  Instead of the small white bouy's I sighted with during practice swims we had huge orange markers.  Made sighting SO much easier and I think I stayed pretty well on course most of the time.  There were a few times that I swam into others but for the most part things were pretty smooth.  I felt good while swimming, a few moments of feeling like my arms were getting tired but other than that I cruised along for 500 meters.  I glanced at my heart rate monitor when I got out and I *think* it said 14 minutes but I can't be sure.

I think I walked (as opposed to ran) to transition.  I took off my wetsuit without any problems but I couldn't manage to get my socks on without sitting down.  I was feeling the cold morning air and even shakier because of the swim.  Naomi came running in and I helped her out of her wetsuit.  I finished getting dressed, started up my Garmin, and hit the road.  I have to say the bike was the hardest part.  I've been having issues with my bike shifting in/out of the front baby gear so I was scared to use it and pushed myself harder than I needed to on some of the uphills.  After the 1/2 way turn around I said, "f - it" and put it into the baby gear.  I was going to leave it like that (and maybe should have) but I shifted back into the middle gear during a downhill - but couldn't get the baby gear back during an uphill.  That was VERY frustrating.  I'm definitely taking my bike back to the place where I had it tuned up.  During some of the uphills I was breathing so hard and my heart rate was going crazy, into the high 160's!  During the bike I had a few "bites" from my AccelGel and a few sips of water to keep my energy up and stay hydrated.  That little swim before the bike really puts a strain on you :) 

The other thing that was on my mind were my toes!  They'd been so cold they were basically numb.  I could feel that burning cold pain in my feet and was wondering how long it takes for frostbite to set in.  I started picturing myself in the medical tent due to "cold toes" and started imagining them all black with frostbite, and then wondering what my life would be like with no toes.  That's how cold they were.  Man I wish I'd had warmer socks on.  In any case, I made it back to transition and generally still felt pretty good.

I changed into my running clothes and had a quick internal debate about putting on my windbreaker. I passed on that but I put on the crop workout pants to keep my legs warm and, most importantly, look cuter.  I headed out for the run and knew I was moving like molasses but didn't much care.  The road up and out of the park is darned steep so I had to walk some of that but otherwise I got to running and thought, "I feel pretty good, I think I might be able to run the whole thing."  In my training so far I've never run farther than 2.25 miles so that would be an unexpected treat.  I was wiggling my toes and they warmed up eventually.  I took a "bite" out of a HammerGel and had a couple sips of water at the water stations. At one point I started to get a cramp in my stomach and got worried I might have a cramping issue (and have to walk) but, thankfully, it went away.  As I passed the two mile marker my confidence got even higher.  I got back near the park and there is another uphill, though not as steep as the other, it is longer, and I ended up walking a small part of that but started running again as soon as I was over it.  I still felt pretty good and I was happy to know I would finish.

When I got near the finish I had an unexpected wave of emotion.  I crossed the finish line with tears in my eyes and if my kids had been there I probably would have broke down.  They weren't (took Miguel way longer than he thought it would to try and get there), which was ok.  I got my cool finisher's medal and saw the TriMore tent.  Coach Neil gave me a big hug and I was so busy being emotional I couldn't talk for a second.  Naomi was there too and while the swim wasn't her favorite part she said the rest of the race was great. 

That's it!  Another triathlon in the bag.  1 hour, 41 minutes (official times to come later), 1097 calories burned and a whole bunch of smiling (I couldn't stop smiling on the run).  All my other triathlons were "Tri for Fun" triathlons so even though this was my 4th sprint it felt more novel than that.  And it got me totally excited about doing the olympic distance next year!  (Except the 22 mile bike part, but I think I can fix that with some training and a bike mechanic).  The entry fees are half off if you register this month so I'm going for it.  I've been chasing that olympic distance Marin triathlon since getting pregnant with Marek and I think 2012 will be my year!

So Miguel, my mom and the kids showed up when I was packing up my stuff.  I took a picture with my babies and one with Marek giving me a "high-five" for making it happen.  Mostly he was just interested in the food swag he found in my bag but he humored me for a high five.  Here are those shots:

The one of me alone was thrown in to show how 17.8 pounds lost looks on me.  I'm starting to look like my old new self, if that makes sense.  I didn't mention that I lost .8 pounds last week.  Given all the food (and a few cocktails) that's really good!  Speaking of food, afterward we headed out to breakfast and I had an omelet and helped Myra eat a pancake that was, sadly, way too big for her.  Yummmy.  Nothing like post-race food.

So to commemorate my post-baby return to triathlon Kristy made me a weight loss chart.  I like how there's all the little ups and downs but still with a general downward trend.  So realistic.  But duh, I guess that's because it is real.  I'm feeling very good about my weight, I'm so close to my first mini goal, 178 pounds, and I'm down in clothes size (mostly wearing 12's now, though some are a bit snug still).

Well, that's it for me.  I'm feeling kind of pooped so I plan to go to bed early tonight.  Times like these I sure wish I had a jacuzzi!  Thanks for all your support and for cheering me on.  I plan to continue to amaze and delight you with my weight loss triumphs and triathlon glory!  - laying it on a little thick I guess, maybe it's all those post-race emotions taking over ;)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Holiday Rule - and 5 ways I use it to keep the winter weight at bay

It's getting cold outside and that can only mean one thing...comfort food!  The number of unexpected encounters with food has been inching up lately and that's got me to thinking about my eating/food plan for the holidays.  My current plan is this: When it comes to the holidays, eat whatever you want.  What?!  "What kind of plan is that", you ask.  Easy.  There are only a handful of holidays.  Because, by "holiday", I mean the actual, post-office-is-closed, family comes over, holiday.  That would be Halloween (optional, depending on how strongly you feel about celebrating), Thanksgiving, Christmas (or insert other winter holiday here), maybe New Years Eve (unless you're like me and it stopped mattering years ago) and..well, that's sort of it.

Sure, there are other holidays throughout the year, but it's the winter holidays that really get us.  I think it's this mixture of cold weather, family, parties (as in, alcohol), and good food that can undermine our best intentions.  The power of the winter holidays to tempt us is why I came up with my food plan, "The Holiday Rule."  Yes, I actually call it that.  And I already told you all you need to know to follow my plan.  When it comes to the holidays, eat whatever you want.  On that one day.  So, how does the holiday rule help me get through the holidays without gaining weight?  Here's how I use it to keep my momentum up.

1.  I get to enjoy the holidays, feel like I am indulging just like everyone else, without guilt.  Because I plan to eat whatever I want on that day, I don't feel regretful about it.  Not even a little bit. In fact I sort of rejoice.  My day has come, I can relax, indulge, not worry or judge, or do any of the other food related craziness I might ordinarily do in the midst of all that food.

2.  I got this tip from a friend - I remind myself that my body does not know it's "the holidays".  If I eat a warm sticky bun for a snack it will still be 425 calories, and we all know the effect that will have on the body. The fact that it's December and cold outside doesn't change that.  

3.  I sometimes compare what I'm tempted by to the food I will eat on the holiday.  Now this is a tricky one that must be used sparingly because, well, I don't want to spend too much time daydreaming about food.  In any case, what I do is look at the tempting food and ask myself if it's as good as the food I'll have on, for example, Christmas.  Usually not.  It might be good, but it can't compare to my mom's cheesy egg souffle she always makes for breakfast.  Or Gulliver's corn.  Nope, this isn't special, it's just store bought cookies.  Move along Michelle. 

4.  Aside from the actual holidays there are other times when I might indulge a little (though not a full no-restrictions holiday day).  Some examples are the work holiday party, a friend's holiday party, my kid's holiday party...are you seeing a pattern here?  A party.  So at other times, like when I run into a pile of chocolate dipped biscotti at the office, I ask myself, "Is this a party?"  No, it's not a party.  I am not indulging just because it's Tuesday and there are biscotti.  "This isn't a celebration, there's no reason to indulge", blah, blah, blah, you get the idea.

5.  When I am tempted by food on days other than the holiday, let's say a pumpkin pie turns up at my kids playgroup, I can remind myself that my time to indulge will come, it's just not today.  This reassures me that I'm not deprived, that I'm not going to miss out on pumpkin pie for the rest of all time, but that it's just not happening today.

I used this approach when I was on Weight Watchers too.  I would just count the day as having used up all my daily points and left it at that.  And you know what?  I kept losing weight.  The holiday plan works for me!  Everyone has a different approach to how to deal with the increase in temptation around the holidays, I think the point is that we have some kind of approach, that we prepare ourselves. 

Ok, that's it for me.  Wait, how can I not triathlon is in 2 days!!! I'm getting SO excited!  Next time I post might be a race report.  Unless I get ambitious and blog again before then. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Good Morning Boot Camp!!

As you might have guessed Halloween did indeed throw a wrench in my workout plans.  After a super-fun evening with the kids I just couldn't drag myself away from them to go to the gym.  Our son stayed up later than usual and, well, it was just such a fun family time I didn't want to miss it.  These are the kinds of decisions time-pressed moms who are trying to exercise face all the time.  No worries though - not only will one week of less than planned workouts not derail me in the long run, it might also be good given that I'm doing the sprint triathlon on Saturday.  More on that in a minute.

A quick rundown on Tuesdays gym visit.  Couch to 5k, Week 9/Day 3, Intervals on ye olde treadmill.  Was feeling *really* good when I realized (about 2/3 of the way through) that I didn't have the elevation set to 1 like I normally do.  Amazing the difference that makes.  Upped it to 1 and finished out my 30 minutes, still feeling pretty good.  I ran the last 30 seconds at 6mph, which was fun.  The run was followed by chest and triceps, core work and 2 minutes on the stair climber.  I am holding the line on that stair climber in that if it starts to become miserable, I get off.  The whole point was a good little boost at the end of my workout.  If I start hating it, the "good" part isn't worth it.  So, 2 minutes was enough.  I wrapped up with some stretching and headed back home.

So, on to today.  You might notice that I'm blogging quite early today, Wednesday, my day home with the kids.  They are still sleeping and normally I would be too.  But I saw an ad for a boot camp that meets in my town and decided to try it out - first class is free so I had nothing to lose.  The neat part (depending on your own definition of "neat") is that it meets at 5:30am!  Whoa, that's early.  But early enough that I can be home and in the shower before Miguel has to leave for work.  Perfect.  Today I have a mother's club meeting in the evening so this is even better for my schedule than normal.

My alarm went off at 0'dark thirty, aka 5am.  I got out of bed and took about 10 minutes to wake up enough to get dressed.  The boot camp is less than a mile from my house so I only needed 2 minutes for travel time. I had a couple bites of banana but skipped the coffee until later.  I layered on the clothes and headed out the door.  Since signing up yesterday I had a few thoughts about being able to keep up but in general I figured I'd do what I can and that's all I can do.  I'm not a super competitive person so I figured I wouldn't feel too bad if/when I pooped out early.  In any case I wasn't having too many concerns.  Changing my clothes 1/2 naked during transition (in triathlons) has pretty much wiped out any self consciousness I used to have.  Also, I'm in 1/2-way decent shape, which makes a big difference. Enough about the inner workings of my neurotic brain.

I arrived at the high school where the boot camp is held and it was coooold.  I had a fleece on that I figured I'd take off at some point when I warmed up.  I never took it off.  My car said it was 43 degrees.  I know that for people in snow states that's practically a spring temp but for this California native - cold!  We started out by running around to warm up. We did various strength and core moves with brief periods of running in between.  We also did these rope workouts where we'd grab these giant ropes and "whip" them up and down, or sideways while in a 1/2 squat. Sometimes we'd run in between and other times we'd do jumping jacks or, more painfully, jog in place with your arms in the air.  At one point after several rounds of rope "whipping" and arms-in-the-air jogging he had us run around with our arms in the air.  Ouch!  We wrapped up with some stretching and I left feeling awake and alive.  A nice feeling at 6:30am.  And I was very happy with my ability to keep up.  At one point we did bench dips and I got nervous, I didn't think I could do them. But John just told me to dip just a little bit and I'd be ok.  And I was.  Boot camp, check.  I got home and Miguel was just getting out of the shower, the kids were still asleep, and the house was quiet.  There was something very rewarding about knowing my workout was done before my little ones even woke up.

So, do I want to do this again?  I think I do.  I like that on Wednesdays I don't have to worry about going to the gym in the evening.  But what I like even better is that it mixes things up.  It's a really different type of workout than what I normally do.  And he does different routines all the time so it's guaranteed to stay a challenge. There's a living social special right now for one month of unlimited classes for $40.  But I can only go on Wednesdays, all the other days I have to be in the shower by 6:30am so I don't think it would work. Besides, I've got a pretty full gym schedule as it is.  So John, the owner/trainer of the program, said he'd do 6 months of once-a-week classes for me.  I have to decide today if I want to blast out a month of two-a-days, boot camp in the morning, gym later, and really go for the gusto!  I'd have to leave boot camp a few minutes early to get ready on time for work.  Or just buy once-a-week and keep it as a Wednesday option.  I'm leaning toward the latter but we'll see.

So, I've got three workouts done for the week.  I plan to go to the gym tomorrow (Thursday) for #4 and then do something light on Friday just to keep warmed up.  Then, Saturday is the triathlon!!!  I know it's getting close because every time I think about it I get a little jolt of adrenaline.  Eek!  I'm excited and nervous.  The weather forecast is looking better.  They were forecasting rain for Saturday but now they are showing a nice big sun with "Cold AM" and "breezy" as the descriptors.  Better than rain is all I'm thinking.  You see Saturday is sandwiched by rain so I'm hoping this weather prediction holds.  And I'm glad I'm not doing the Olympic on Sunday.  Having my first road ride in the rain during an event does not sound ideal.  But if it rains on Saturday, so be it, I'll be there giving it a go either way.

Well, that's all for me today.  I should close with a few pictures of my kiddos at Halloween, right?  Oh, I stood by my promise to eat NO candy, but I did eat my fair share of cupcakes, pizza, cookies, etc and a fun Halloween party with the kids' playgroup.  Oh well, the holiday rule applied.  I'll have to blog about the holiday rule next time.  And yes, Myra had two costumes.  They were just too cute!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bike, Run, Bike

Man, I was SO tired yesterday (Saturday) afternoon and evening.  It was to be my second day off from exercise for the week and though the swim clinic was exercise I still counted it as a day off.  That's probably why I was so tired.  At least I hope so.  I got a good night's sleep last night and woke up today feeling ready to face the day.

I took the kids to watch Miguel play soccer this morning and then we all headed to a birthday party for one of the players.  There were several bowls of potato chips and unfortunately I acted like a Survivor contestant who'd been living on slugs and crickets for a week.  I peeled myself away from the chips eventually but not before making a serious dent in the chip bowls!  Oh well, what's done is done.  Also, for lunch they served hot dogs.  I had one with all the fixings.  I felt fine about that.  One hot dog on a bun is not a bad choice.

The good thing was I got a lot of exercise today.  Miguel ended up coming home earlier than expected so I had two hours to do my thing.  I rode my bike to the gym (17 minutes) and then quickly changed into my running gear.  I headed out for the 30 minute run and got a taste of what I'll be facing next Saturday.  My legs weren't so thrilled to be running.  And I started getting some stomach cramps early on, though they never developed into anything serious.  My GI system is still not back to normal and it's been over a week.  I hope it's normal by next weekend.  I was a little slower than my last run but did my 30 minutes and was happy.  Back at the gym I did back, biceps and core work.  I skipped the stair climber given that I still had to bike home.  I also skipped the big hill and took the route with the easier hill.  All told I was exercising for two hours straight, which is hopefully enough time to cover the triathlon.  I got home, stretched, hopped in the shower and then geared up for the kids just as they were waking from their nap.

I feel pretty good.  My shoulders and arms are a bit sore from the swimming yesterday and weight training today.  My legs feel good though.  I wrote out my plan for exercise this week but who knows what will actually happen.  I have two evening commitments plus Halloween.  Cherelli pointed out that I should probably do a little something on Friday, just to keep my body primed for movement.  Friday should be a good day to get a little gym time.

Happy Halloween everyone!  My candy plan is to buy some give-out candy tomorrow and then take it to work on Tuesday and unload it.  Marek can keep his but it will be gone by week's end.  I will try to keep in mind what I told myself this time last year.
"Sometimes the justification for giving in to a craving comes down to some version of "I deserve it." If I break that down though, it doesn't make sense. It's a trick, not a treat.

What I deserve is to feel good about my body. What I deserve is the ability to move and be active. What I deserve is to be free from the aches and pains that come with extra weight and lack of muscle strength. What I deserve is to have what I truly want, not what I think I want in this moment."
That's powerful stuff.  I should put that on a tape and play it for myself when I'm faced with chocolate.  A good coincidence is that I shouldn't be facing any big hormonal monthly-cycle cravings this coming week.  Those would push me over the chocolate waterfall!  I might have to go for an all out candy ban for next week, just to prevent any slippery slides.  We'll see.

Well, that's it for me.  Thanks for stopping by.