Sunday, December 31, 2006

Wrapping up

The end of a season, like the end of a year, is an artificial milestone.

It's the end of the spreadsheet I created last February to track my workouts. But it isn't the end of those purposeful workouts - the goals shift over time as some are accomplished and some are just retired, but there are still goals to reach.

My cycling and outdoor swimming email aliases are on hiatus, but they'll be put to use once more in the spring.

And my cute little skirts for running and biking have been pushed to the back of the dresser drawer, making room for long pants and tights and thick gloves. But when I catch a glimpse of them, I know they'll be there for me when it's time.

I've got medals and race numbers and pictures and even one trophy to remind me of the past season. But I really don't need them, because I have all my friends with whom I shared all of the fun and hard work of the season. This week, as many of them are on vacation and I'm working out at the gym near my house instead of the Pro Club, I miss them so much and I can't wait for things to get "back to normal" - meaning, back to work, back to routine, and back to that spreadsheet - so I can get back to seeing my friends every day and sharing our fitness and lifestyle goals.

I could list a bunch of accomplishments I might have had this season, but instead, I'm going to list my friends. I got to encourage each of them and be a part of their successes - and ultimately, that's what 2006 was about for me. 2007 might be more focused on improving my own racing, which may cost me some time with friends when I need to complete workouts that don't necessarily work for them. But here are some highlights from 2006:

Regan lost 80 pounds and completed her first triathlon.

Aleks had an incredible year, with the completion of her first half-marathon, triathlon, and full marathon.

Nancy and Sarah, after years of running, completed their first half marathons. I'm so excited to say that both plan to run more.

Wendy completed a half-Ironman (after worrying she wouldn't be able to make the cutoff of 8 hours - which she did with plenty of time to spare) and PR'ed in a marathon by nearly half an hour.

Kathy completed a half-Ironman and is learning that she really is a runner - and she's well on her way to meeting her goals for her next event.

And Danielle gave and gave and gave: informally mentoring our group, supporting each of us with information and advice, and being there to cheer us on at most of our races.

So the year might be over, but who cares! We're that much closer to next season now!

2006 Events

DateNameEvent typeResult
Feb. 26Chilly Hilly33 mi rideFinished
Mar. 26Mercer Island Half Marathonrun race2:06:21
Apr. 23Daffodil Centurycentury rideFinished
May 14Kirkland Half Marathonrun racePR: 1:57:30
June 3Issaquah triathlonsprint tri1:31:14
June 17Flying Wheelscentury rideFinished
June 18Cascade's Edge Triathlonoly tri3:12:25 (flat tire)
July 9Seafair Marathonhalf marathon1:58:07
July 15Seattle to Portland (STP)double centuryAvg speed 17.1 mph
July 23Lake Stevens 70.3Half-iron tri6:33:57
Aug. 20Danskin trisprint triPR: 1:21:39
Aug. 26Lake Samm- amish triathlonsprint tri2nd place in AG; 1:21:07
Sept. 23Black Diamond triathlonhalf-iron*6:37:27
Sept. 30Endurance 50marathonFinished
Nov. 5NY marathonmarathon5:00:20
Nov. 11Winter Pineapple Classic5K with obstaclesFinished
Nov. 26Seattle marathonmarathon4:39:19
Nov. 5Diva Dash5K and 1KGoal: Run with my 3 year old!
* Bike course was 62 miles long

Friday, December 29, 2006

Uh oh. I might be a skier

My profile says I'm a snowboarder, and I really want to be a snowboarder.

I mean, the clothing is much cooler.

But, unfortunately, I haven't improved on snowboarding since my first season. I got to an intermediate level and stayed there - despite the weight loss and massive increase in cardiovascular capability.

And my skiing skills keep improving.

A couple of years ago, on one particular steep intermediate run, I had to traverse from one tree border to another and almost fell on every turn. This morning, I still had to make turns, but much tighter than before.

On an advanced run, though, I was doing the full-traverse thing. But that's okay - that run was way steeper than I should have been on (that will teach me to not pay attention to signs). I didn't fall, though, and I didn't completely freak out.

Also, I always get nervous getting off the lift on my snowboard. On skis, I'm so much more relaxed. And I rarely fall when I'm skiing. I just feel more comfortable - and safer at higher speeds.

Being completely honest, I think I was meant to be a skier, not a snowboarder. And I think if I want to improve my skiing skills even more, I should hang up the board for a while.

So anyway, I skied this morning. Matthew and I had a fabulous plan: Get to the ski area before it opens. Get in the lift line before it opens. Ski hard for a couple of hours, and leave when the crowds get heavy.

Well, it worked perfectly. They opened the lifts early, so we got to ski from 8:45 until 11:15, when the lines started getting longer. We stood at the top of the mountain and saw the completely full parking lot, and knew it was time to go. Fortunately, we were exhausted - six runs per hour will do that to you.

And my diet has been good today! 1384 calories and it's 8:30 p.m.! If I don't eat again, I'm golden.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A bit of wishful thinking

Today I had to get my driver license renewed.

My old license looks nothing like me. My hair is short, black, and in a bob; I'm wearing glasses; and my face is a lot wider.

My weight is a lie, too. I said at the time I weighed 150; really I'm quite sure I was more like 175.

So today I fudged the numbers just slightly: my scale this morning said 143.4 - better than yesterday's 146! - and I told the woman at the Department of Licensing I weighed 135.

My goal race weight for Ironman Canada is 130. So 135 really is a reasonable number for me; plus, when I weigh 135, I'm really happy with myself. I'm going to get there - and beyond!

Today I went to the gym near my house with Danielle. I did 30 minutes on the eliptical, 30 on a recumbent bike, and strength training. SO BORING.

But yesterday after I posted I didn't eat anything else - despite being up until past 11 p.m. - and today so far I've made good food choices.

(That reminds me: Danielle just loaned me the movie "Freaky Friday," with Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis. There's one point where Jamie Lee Curtis' character yells to Lindsay's, "Make good choices!" It makes me laugh so much every time I see it - which is a lot, because I have small children who like to watch the same movie over and over and over again - both because I say the same thing to my older kid and because it's what I tell myself every day.)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Back to fat

So...about all my plans for hard-core dieting after the NY Marathon. Yeah. That lasted a week, and a lovely week it was, with my weight dropping to a comfy 136.

Well, I don't know what caused such a huge backslide - running another marathon, perhaps, holidays, and general rebellion (in part brought on BECAUSE I could wear tight, sexy dresses comfortably - it put me into a place where I talked myself into believing I could eat and drink what I wanted today, because I look good!) - but today my weight was exactly 146.

Okay, so it is that time of the month (sorry for the TMI) and it is just after Christmas, but it's not cool. Not at all. And especially since the week after next I'm going on vacation in the Caribbean and I want to wear shorts and tank tops and bikinis. :-)

But fixing the damage is so much harder than causing it.

So here's the plan: I'm keeping it simple. Eat 1500 calories per day. Burn 500 calories per day in exercise. Lose one pound per week.

So far today (including dinner), I'm at 1350. Hopefully I can control myself and not eat anything else today.

Danielle said something interesting to me yesterday: The enemy of "great" is "good." I don't want to settle for looking "good" and being "good" (in terms of race performance) - I want to look "great" and be "great."

I tossed the cake, banana bread, and cookies that were in the house. There's still candy, but not good candy, so I'm not that tempted by it yet. But if I get there, I will get rid of that too. And today, we skied all day, but brought our own lunch so we didn't have burgers and fries in the lodge. And apres ski, I had an americano, not a mocha. Little victories - they'll add up on the road to great.

Monday, December 25, 2006

10-mile shape forever

For the rest of my life, I want to be able to wake up in the morning, eat a banana and a cup of coffee, and go out and run 10 miles.

The pace doesn't matter, and obviously if I'm sick or injured I can have a pass for the day. But in general, I want to always be in good enough shape to run 10 miles.

So I haven't run 10 miles since Nov. 26 - a month now! - and that makes sense, given my recovery from the marathoning season. But when my friend Kathy said she had 10 on the schedule for Christmas Eve (she's training for the Arizona Rock N Roll half marathon - her first half outside of a half-Ironman!), I was all about going with her.

Yeah, it's not really part of my base training; the distance is too long and Kathy's pace - about a 10-minute mile - is faster than my middle-of-zone-2 goal - but close enough. And like I said, I need to be able to always run 10 miles.

Danielle came too, and we had a fabulous negative-split run out and back on the East Lake Sammamish Trail. Before the inevitable rain, too (that started once I was safe and warm in my house).

My average HR was 158, so slightly out of zone 2 for me, but I felt great the entire time. (I actually felt lower than that - I think my HRM is off. Needs new batteries.) And while running 10 miles didn't quite give me a free pass for eating what I wanted the rest of yesterday and today, it did remind me that even when I'm feeling kinda fat and yucky and have been eating things that I shouldn't, I'm still an athlete and a runner and a little discipline on the eating will get me to where I need to be.

And on that note, I'm doing the Fat Cyclist bodyfat challenge, so I have to lose some weight. For real this time. If I don't, I owe the Fat Cyclist a copy of season 6 of 24 (not out yet - when it comes out, I will have to ship it to him). And sure, it's honor system, but it might be a good little stimulus to remind me where I need to be in 2007.

Friday, December 22, 2006

I almost ditched the workout

But I didn't.

I find it quite amazing that I can bag my diet so easily, but miss a workout and I freak out! Or I have to consciously force myself not to freak out.

Who am I, again?

Today's workout SUCKED. I did 30 minutes on the Stairmaster (stepmill), then 30 on a recumbant bike. I read a magazine while listening to my favorite music, but the lack of friends to work out with made it so boring. But not boring enough to not do!

Oh, and I was totally right about the butt-kicking Danielle gave me yesterday. I woke up with incredibly sore hamstrings - probably from the zillion squats and lunges - but was that enough to deter me from working out?


Now if only I could discover why I'm so driven to exercise and apply that to eating properly!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Danielle kicked my behind!

I set my alarm for 5 a.m., thinking I would go to the gym at 6, do an hour of cardio, then take a circuit training class for more cardio and some strength training.

Yeah, right. Even though I went to bed early last night, I just couldn't get motivated to get up.

When it was late enough, I called Danielle to see if she was going to teach her 10 a.m. circuit training class. When she said yes, I decided I'd do that.

(What about work, you ask? Heh. Nobody is in the building, and I have very little I can do without other people. So, I'm doing what I can, but not working super-hard or long right now.)

So I hit the gym at 9:40 for a few minutes of cardio before the class. And oh my goodness, Danielle had a HARD class planned. Basically, three minutes of high-intensity cardio (though I kept it lower than I would have, because of base training) followed by three-four minutes of strength training. We did somewhere around a zillion squats and lunges, bicep curls, tricep pushups, overhead presses, and other exercises. It was pretty crazy.

I'm not sore yet, but boy is it coming. I guess I deserve it with all the bad eating I've been doing. (Weight this morning = 142).

In fact, I've been hesitating to write the last part about backsliding - about recovery from backsliding. I'm in a backsliding time right now and although I know what I need to do to fix this, I have been unwilling to actually do it. But maybe today. Maybe today.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

So. Cold.

I'm not sure what the deal was with today's weather. My car temperature gauge said 38 degrees, which is reasonable, right? But it was spitting rain - kind of heavy mist - so no matter what, you got soaked. Nancy and I agreed we'd rather run in a downpour. At least then the weather doesn't pretend to favor you.

We ran for just over an hour, and I was so cold at the end that I just stood in the hot shower for what felt like forever. I didn't lift today because, frankly, the gym still smells like my dirty workout clothes and more than half of it is still without power, so I just wasn't into it. Thank goodness it's base training time!

I think today will be my last run for at least two weeks. I need to rest that foot - it's sinus tarsi syndrome, for anyone that's curious - and hopefully a couple of weeks of no running followed by a cortisone shot will send it packing. We'll see.

Oh, and after yesterday's post about how to prevent backsliding, I went home and baked a ton of cookies for my co-workers. There goes that rebellion thing - again! (At least it proves I'm human, right?)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Backsliding 102: Prevention

Since I wrote the post Backsliding 101, I've been thinking about how to follow it up with some real-world advice (and reminders to myself) of what works to prevent backsliding and how to recover from it.

Here's what I've got.

About Diet
1. Learn the calorie counts of all of your favorite fast-food (and restaurant) meals. Along with that, figure out what you can order at every single restaurant that you might be tempted to go to. I challenge you to find a fast-food or other restaurant that doesn't have at least one reasonable choice. Don't kid yourself - there's always a good pick. You may not want to eat that item, but knowing that you can - and should - will help you make the right decision most of the time.

2. Along the same lines, figure out how many calories are in your favorite things to cook - especially bake! My favorite cookies are - seriously! - 170 calories EACH. Imagine if I bake them, eat some dough, taste a couple of cookies, then bring them to work to share and have another. It would be way too easy to add a full 1000 calories to my diet that day - and am I really going to work out an extra two hours to pay for that?

3. Cultivate the ability to make special requests when it comes to food. This applies at restaurants and at your friends' or family's houses. You've got to be able to ask for what you need (things like, can that dish be made without butter, or, can we have chicken breast instead of steak at dinner Friday night?).

4. Learn how to say no. No, you don't need a drink. No, you're not hungry right now. I'm sure your mashed potatoes are the best in the world, Grandma, but I wouldn't like some right now.

5. Learn how to moderate. Yes, Grandma - I'll have a little taste. Let me get it myself, I don't want to be a bother! (Then take only a mouthful!)

6. My friend Sarah gave me this piece of advice: The first bite tastes the best. Subsequent bites just aren't as good. So don't eat them. Don't clean your plate just because you can.

7. Eat slowly. Be the last one to finish eating, and leave food on your plate.

8. Remember that saying "no" right now doesn't mean saying "no" forever. You don't have to eat every brownie or bowl of ice cream that becomes available to you; you can say no and still have that treat later on, when it's appropriate. When I was on the 20/20 program, I said no to a ton of yummy treats - and two and a half years later, I don't regret not having that slice of cake at my kids' first and fourth birthday parties. I'm still here, and doing just fine, thanks.

About Exercise
1. Don't do any form of exercise you don't enjoy. Experiment until you find something enjoyable, or some way to enjoy something not enjoyable (like, audio books or reading or watching TV or DVDs).

2. Have an adequate supply of workout clothes so you never have the excuse, "But my shorts are in the washer!"

3. Find friends who will do your exercising with you. And do not trade your exercise play dates for going out and drinking play dates! Where will you find these friends? Meet them at the gym (Nancy just started talking to me in the locker room one day, and Aleks got the courage to approach her in a class they both took to ask if she could come along on our runs. Be bold!).

4. Block your exercise time out on your calendar, and do not be flexible with it. One thing stuck in my head more than anything else from the 20/20 Lifestyles weight-loss program, and it's this: If I don't exercise or cut my exercise time short, I only cheat myself. My husband criticizes my lack of flexibility here, and probably because I'm so exercise-obsessed, I could afford more flexibility. But until it becomes habit, keep that time sacred, do your full workouts every time, and don't cheat yourself.

5. Build variety into your workouts. Yeah, you've got to like everything you do, but you don't have to like it all equally. You can love running and like cycling and do both - cross-training is important for your body. Likewise, lift weights. It will help you with everything else, and make your arms and legs look really hot. :-)

About General Lifestyle
1. Toss all of your fat clothes - and I mean ALL of them! And do not, under any circumstances, buy clothing that is either too big for you (because those jeans are so cute, and the store only has a size 8, and it's close enough, right?) or shop when you're feeling fat. If you gain too much weight, you need to go naked until you lose it again. (Okay, kidding here - but don't keep fat clothes around, because you will use them!)

2. Meal track forever. Whether you write it all down or keep a running tally in your head (and I recommend writing it down), don't ever stop consciously thinking about what you eat. After all, your body doesn't stop responding to calories in, calories out!

3. I know this one is in all the silly magazine articles, but it's true. Do what you can to be a tiny bit more active. Every time I go to the grocery store or the mall, I park far away. My six-year-old son used to complain, but now he's gotten so used to it that when my three-year-old daughter was whining about having to walk, my son actually said, "You should feel lucky that you have those strong legs to walk on! Some people don't!" Yeah, that's pretty much an exact quote of what I said to brainwash him. So we walk a few extra steps, I rarely use a stroller for the three-year-old (carrying her around a mall is great exercise!) and we generally try to get some physical activity every day.

4. Prove to everyone you're tough. This is especially cool if you're a woman. Yesterday I helped carry a six-foot-long, probably 100 pounds box with my son's Christmas present -an air hockey table - from the car to the room where we're trying to hide it. I'm not letting a man - my husband - tell me I can't do it because "I'm a girl." I'm so strong that I don't need to run for help when it comes to lifting or carrying or whatever things people think only burly men can do.

5. Oh yeah, and about that air hockey table? It cost about the same thing as a Nintendo Wii system, another thing the kid asked for. Air hockey may not be the most physical game around, but hey - it's better than video games and DVDs. Those things have their place, too, but if I can give my kids toys that involve physical activity - like a snowboard (what we got the boy for his fifth birthday) or a bicycle (the girl's third Christmas), I sneak exercise into both their and my life and we're all better off.

This is a pretty good list. There's one more part to the Backsliding series - and it's about recovery. That's for next time. :-)

Weird day at the gym

The Pro Club doesn't have all of its power back, so really more than half of it is closed. This put a wrench in my workout plans, obviously.

I had planned to do a spin class at 9:15 a.m.; yeah, I'm working this week, but I was going to go in a bit late.

The spinning room doesn't have power, though, so I had to go in the main fitness center and do cardio. I did 30 minutes on an elliptical trainer and 30 more on a recumbent bike while I caught up on my Britney Spears gossip. Super-fun.

The gym smelled horrible. Maybe partial power doesn't allow for the fans to be on or something, but there was a stench in the air that usually isn't there.

But, I did my thing, and it was fine. And I've eaten fairly well today, too!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A little lack of motivation

Yes, I'm talking about me! Really!

I realized something today, after not working out Friday or Saturday.

If I don't have friends to work out with, I don't really feel like working out.

It wasn't always this way. I used to go running - even up to 14 miles - alone. And I'd be happy to ride my bike alone or go to the gym.

But now, after so much time with so many fabulous friends to exercise with, I'm not really interested in doing it by myself.

Fortunately, Danielle asked me to run with her this morning, so the weekend wasn't a total waste. And this is definitely the time of year for me to miss planned workouts if I don't feel like doing them.

I really was surprised to see, though, that without my buddies I'm not so interested. So you see, friends! My obsession is all your fault! :-)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

If you need to reach me...

I have no Internet access from home. However, since I do have (and have had) power throughout this storm and the aftermath, I'm safe and at home. I can get my email through my cell phone, but only at the address in my blogger profile (my other address, for those of you who have it, isn't accessible right now).

But we're all safe and fine and we're even warm. If you need a place to stay or a shower, call or email me!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A rock 'n roll day!

So today is awesome.

First off, 5:40 a.m. I've got not one, not two, not even three - but FIVE running partners! That makes six of us total this morning, for those who are math-impaired. Isn't that awesome?

So then I go to spinning class because Danielle was teaching, and I listened to good music while spinning in a low-key sort of way (base training, yeah).

I was really nervous about work. It's been pretty awful lately, and today there was a big meeting that determined the fate of two of my features for the next release - features I really want to keep in the product!

So I had to argue - in a room of all men, of course - in favor of my features. And it wasn't easy. But an hour and a half later, I walked out of the room successful! Both of my features (that had been cut - this was the appeals meeting) - were approved.

THEN - I resolved a problem I had with a co-worker who had been very, very mean to me. I spoke to him directly and we worked it out. I know I feel a ton better.

So basically, I'm super-happy today. I hope you all are too!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Can't run, can snowboard

So I hurt my foot three months ago. And as any regular reader of this blog knows, I did a half-Ironman and three marathons in the last three months.

Obviously it doesn't hurt that much. But it does hurt every day. So yesterday I finally got it together and saw the podiatrist.

He told me not to run for two to four weeks. Uh, yeah. Maybe. So I got up this morning, ran six miles with the girls, then did a two-mile run on the treadmill to check my max aerobic pace.

I'll start that two to four weeks later. Maybe at Christmas, because it's a hectic time. We'll see.

Anyway, the max aerobic pace run? I did my two miles in 22:35. YUCK. It was painful to run that slow. But hopefully this will give me a baseline, and when I repeat the test four weeks from now, I should be faster.

On to snowboarding. The doctor did say I could board, so I went up this morning with some guys from work. It was incredible! Alpental is closed Mondays, and there was a storm Monday night, so there was two nights of accumulation. The snow was thick but light - deep powder. Of course, I'm a terrible powder boarder, but it was so amazing when I did get into a rhythm and could just float down the mountain. Those moments only happened when my co-workers weren't watching, though.

The doctor said skiing is better for my foot than boarding, because the foot is locked in place, so I'm likely going to ski the next time conditions aren't so ideal. But today rocked!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Just one beep

I'm back on the exercise wagon! Interestingly, I didn't feel really compelled to exercise this weekend - but I guess that's good.

Today I had no trouble staying in the right HR zone during indoor cycling. But then I lifted weights with Aleks, and my heart rate got up to 152 (the alarm goes off at 150) while I was doing overhead press. Maybe I need to do less weight.

So...nothing very interesting to say today.

But hey, check this out!

From left, me, Danielle, Regan, and Wendy - yes, we do have clothing that's not gym-appropriate! :-)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Does dancing count as exercise in base training?

Before you ask: No, I didn't wear my heart rate monitor. :-)

But oh my goodness, if I hadn't had 8 Cosmopolitans and one HUGE Long Island Iced Tea, I'm sure I would have burned enough calories to have replaced a full base-training workout. But instead, since I drank myself silly (which is silly in and of itself, since I'm silly regardless of how much alcohol I've had to drink), I probably just barely broke even.

Was it worth it? Actually, I think so. It's so rare that I get to dress up, put on makeup, do my hair nice, and go out and party. And this party was actually pretty good! (It was my company party, and since I'm part of the same group that just released that Zune thing, they pretty much pulled out all the stops and put on a really great division party.)

However, I know there's photographic evidence of my lack of reserve ... so it might not be worth it when I see how incriminating the photos are! Then again - I'm fairly certain when the stories start tomorrow at work about who did what at the company party, I won't be the most interesting to talk about. By far. :-)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Slightly better, still frustrating

Running in the right heart rate zone takes away some of the joy of running. I don't feel free to just go and play - it's not like dancing or snowboarding, it's like work.

But I pretty much did it - I think I exceeded my HR cap three times - once because we had to sprint to get across the street before a light changed - but my average ended up being 142, so I was good there.

I'm really looking forward to the end of base training. Already. That's pretty sad, huh?

Oh, and yesterday Danielle played "Canned Heat" in indoor cycling - which of course spiked my HR immediately out of zone because, well, when that song plays, I've got to dance!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Backsliding 101

So yesterday Regan and I were talking. And she asked a question: Why is it so easy to backslide on the 20/20 lifestyle, if the lifestyle is so wonderful and we enjoy it so much? (20/20 Lifestyles is the name of the weight-loss program we both did.)

She's got a point: Our bodies feel great when we eat properly and exercise, and our self-confidence increases when we know we look good and when we can do things we never thought we could.

However, it's easier to backslide than to stay on track. Here's why, in my opinion.

1) Food is everywhere. When don't we include food in our events - from an afternoon of shopping to a full day of meetings to cookies and hot chocolate after playing in the snow. Eating is ingrained in our culture and part of the enjoyment of everyday life.

2) There's always an excuse not to exercise. I'm tired, I'm sick, the kid is sick, work is busy, I need to do X, Y, Z. I can do it later.

3) We believe other people get to eat what they want. I watch one of my co-workers eat a burger, fries, cookies, and non-diet soda every day for lunch. He doesn't gain weight. When I sit next to him and just look at his food (with lust in my heart - for his food, of course), I gain a few ounces.

4) We get sick of the discipline required to maintain the lifestyle. The 20/20 lifestyle imposes a rigidity against which we sometimes want to rebel. I talked to a friend who did 20/20 then gained back...oh, I don't know, maybe 100 pounds! A lot, anyway, and he said pretty much he just didn't care. He didn't want to make the effort anymore. On 20/20, you're constantly thinking about your calories and your exercise and your heart rate and a zillion other numbers. All that structure is just ripe for rebellion...and see point #1, there's always food around for when you are in those moments.

5) We get annoyed with the knowledge we have. It's incredibly frustrating sometimes to know that a tablespoon of olive oil is 140 calories, and adding that to my two slices of bread before dinner in a nice restaurant nets me a total of maybe 340 calories - before I even eat the entree or dessert! Oh, and to burn 340 calories I need to exercise hard for 45 minutes. Seriously, this is so selfish, but I hate that McDonald's prints the number of calories on their french fry containers. I know fries are gross - but for those five minutes after the fries are cooked, if they're perfectly salted and taken out of the fryer at the right moment, there's some incredible magic that makes them the most delicious things on earth, and the last thing I want to know is how many empty, stupid, soon-to-be-regretted calories I'm consuming. (But honestly, it wouldn't matter if McDonald's didn't print the calories on the boxes, because I learned the numbers during 20/20 and I unfortunately can't forget them.)

6) But finally, and I think this is the big one, we think we're more powerful than the temptation of food. We have lost weight and we have the tools to do it again; knowing we can gives us a false confidence that we can eat what we want today and fix it tomorrow.

WE CAN'T. Now I know, somehow I've kept most of my weight off for two and a half years. I think I've been successful at that only because I'm still fascinated that I can swim and bike and run - all in the same day sometimes, too! I'm still entertained by seeing my muscles in the mirror when I lift weights. And I'm still amazed that I can go to a regular clothing store and buy anything I want because I know something will fit me (as opposed to when I wore a size 14/16/18/20 and either had to hope the extra-large fit me or shop at stores with "women's" sizes).

The 20/20 office considers me a success. In fact, I just was asked to appear in their brochures touting the program, and I'm happy to do it. I've definitely changed my lifestyle, and I've definitely kept the weight off. But it's work every single day, and so far it hasn't gotten easier.

So I think we backslide because temptation, laziness, excuses, and cockiness trump our best intentions and the good feelings eating right and exercising produce (because eating sugar and drinking alcohol and eating McDonald's fries produce good feelings too ... at least for a while).

I'd love to close this post with a list of things we can do to counter our backsliding. Alas, it's not that easy ... but I'll think about that too and see what I come up with. Or you can tell me what works for you, and whether this rings true for you, too.

Running slow is not tolerable

And I love a hyperbole.

Seriously, today I ran with Kathy, and thank goodness she likes me a lot, because running with me was AWFUL. A run that usually takes us just about 60 minutes - it's 5.5 miles - took 75 minutes. Given some time out for the street lights, that's about a 12.5 minute mile.

However, I realized I was making a mistake. I was thinking that I needed to cap my heart rate at 138, but actually, 138 is the middle of the range I need to stay in - it's 68% of my max. I can safely go as high as 75% during this part of training - so that gives me up to 152. And that makes perfect sense - Maffetone's formula puts me at either 149 or 154, depending on whether I give myself 5 extra beats per minute because I have been exercising for two years and making progress (the reason I waver here on whether I deserve those extra beats is that I kind of think I would have made progress no matter what I did, since I came from absolutely nothing).

So 152 is the new cap, but the target HR I will work to maintain is still 138. It seems reasonable, and doing that will allow me to run slowly, but reasonably on flat ground. I'm sure I'll still have to walk hills, but I can deal with that.

Today, with the cap at 138, I had to walk teensy hills I couldn't even feel, but obviously something in my body did.

I tried to go back to dieting yesterday, and yesterday was good. This morning I went to the grocery store and stocked up on healthy foods for the fridge in my office. Then I ran an errand for my husband, picked up lunch for him (and a reasonable lunch for me, too), but also a piece of apple cake for him...and then I proceeded to eat it. BLAH. Why did I do that? (Although it was way yummy.)

One step forward, two steps back.

Nah, two steps forward, one step back. I'm still on the right path and moving ahead. I hope.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Playing games to keep in base training zone

It's day three of formal base training and I found myself in Josh's spinning class this morning. Fortunately his music was boring (because it didn't inspire me to work super hard), but the plan - one strength song alternated with one speed song - was entertaining enough to make me want to play along.

However, with a max HR of 138, pretty much every time I got into it, I had to stop. I turned the alarm on so I could hear the beeps when I went over 138. The HRM beeped six times. Next time, I'm going to shoot for five. (Well, I'm going to shoot for zero, but realistically, it's work to slow down, so I'm going to do what I did when I learned to snowboard: each run down the hill, I wanted to fall one fewer time. Now, each time in class, I want to hear one fewer beep until I get down to no beeps.)

So anyway, I tried something different to keep my HR down: Whenever it got to 136, dangerously close to the high limit, I deliberately relaxed my upper body and focused on deeper, slower breathing, but kept my legs moving at the same cadence that they had been going.

It actually worked to drop the HR by a couple of beats and put me back into a safer zone. So that was good!

Then I lifted weights, and unfortunately, overhead press took me out of my HR range. Guess I need to drop the amount of weight I do there until it get easier and it doesn't raise my HR so much.

I'm meal-tracking today. I had a difficult day at work on Friday and it threw me completely off track, and then the weekend came and it's hard enough to be on plan when it's not the weekend, so here's to a fresh start today. I think my weight is probably 141 or 142; back to where it likes to stay, but not where I wish it were.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Base training: here I come!

Today was my first day back in the gym. I haven't taken three days in a row off....pretty much ever, since I started getting in shape.

However, I highly recommend it. For the first time after a major event, my first workout back felt good! I felt strong and happy, not miserable and barely able to breathe.

So what's different? I am beginning a formal period of base training, to last until March.

I reset my HR monitor so that it beeps when my heart rate gets over 138 bpm. For me, that's nothing - I can breathe through my nose at that HR!

The idea here is the Maffetone protocol. Basically, every workout is done with a completely aerobic heart rate - for me, I'm sticking to 65% of max or less. It says that if you follow this protocol over time, you'll get faster WITHOUT any interval or puke-inducing type work.

It also says you're not to do weight-lifting during this period. I am continuing my weight-training, but not working muscles to true fatigue and doing a whole lot of balance and core work - general strength, not muscular development.

Finally, I'm working on my diet. I'm back to using FitDay, though right now just trying to keep the calories reasonable. I'm still thinking about whether I can cut out all dairy, beans, and whole grains. I know I'll see immediate weight-loss benefit if I do, but I know I won't stick to that kind of diet for the rest of my life, so maybe I should practice healthy eating in general every day. I don't know, I'm still deciding.

Anyway, today I did Danielle's circuit training class. I was successful in keeping my HR where it belonged, but in doing so, only burned 250 calories. I think that will be the hardest part of base training - how do I deal with the lower calorie burn?

Answer: Eat less and lose weight so it no longer matters! Easier said than done...but here we go!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I was tired yesterday, so I left work at 4:15. I wasn't sure I could make it home without coffee, so I went through the drive-through Starbucks.

It was my mistake. My normally 30-minute commute at that time of day took an hour and 20 minutes - and then, as soon as I got to the kids' school to pick them up, the snow started.

It was POURING snow. Seriously. I've never seen so much snow come down at once - and I lived in Massachusetts and the East Coast for 21 years, then when I moved here, where it rarely snows, I started snowboarding and spending as much of the winter as possible in the mountains. Yesterday was amazing.

One mile from my house, with three kids (my two plus the neighbor's) in the back seat, my car decided it would no longer go up my hill. I was stranded.

To make a long story short, after a harrowing half hour in the car and a tow by some guy who didn't know what he was doing, my car was left at a parking lot half a mile from home with a broken transmission and the kids and I got a ride with some friends.

So clearly today I didn't go to work; school was closed, so we walked for about a mile or so in the snow (I had to carry Camille most of it) and played outside.

This is all a really long way to say I didn't do any formal exercise, but I did walk and play with the kids, and my body pretty much feels about as normal as it did Saturday - before I did the marathon.

A few people have asked me how I can do three marathons in two months. Well, Dean Karnazes did 50 marathons in less than two months, but that's a goofy answer. The real answer is I'm in excellent shape and I didn't "race" any of these runs. I ran them fairly comfortably; on the Endurance 50 marathon I was uncomfortable because my calves cramped, but was otherwise okay; on New York I felt pretty good the whole way; and on Seattle, I only felt bad when I forgot to eat. I think had I raced and pushed myself for a PR, I would not have been able to run as many.

And that's a reasonable trade-off, I think - I could be the fastest possible and really need tapering and recovery time and proper nutrition every day, or I could just enjoy what I can do at whatever pace I'm feeling at the time and do it as much as I feel like. It's a valid way to be.

That said, I'd like to qualify to run Boston, which means I need to be able to run 26.2 8-minute miles. That will take weight-loss and a heck of a lot of hard work. And some day, I'll be ready to focus on that and get that done.

But for now, I can look back at this marathon season and say Wow! I had a lot more fun than I expect to when my focus is going fast, not enjoying the experience and being with my friends.

Monday, November 27, 2006

In desperate need of recovery

I'm done.

Done with saying I need to recover and not doing it. Done with adding races to my schedule. Done with increasing workout duration and intensity just because I feel like it.

Everything hurts and I'm exhausted and I just want to sleep.

And develop an addiction to Tylenol PM. (Okay not really; it's not physically addictive anyway, but it does create a nice groggy sleepy feeling.)

Tomorrow I start back on an appropriate diet; today I feel like I still need to eat a little more than usual, so I'm doing that.

I've asked my husband to support me in this; to remind me that I'm not supposed to work out for more than an hour a day (not including weights, which I won't start back on this week at all) and to help me keep the bad foods out of our house.

So we'll see how things go. I don't plan to run this week. And I'm not letting my heart rate get over 138 at all until 2007 (unless I'm snowboarding, in which case I can do whatever I want).

I'm just so tired. I've never felt this worn out before.

But recovery will make me come back stronger, right?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Seattle Marathon Race Report

I'm going to try to be brief, because this was Aleks' day, so you can read her race report for the details.

It was snowing when Aleks picked me up this morning, and it's snowing (and accumulating!) now. In between, we had rain with a few breaks, and one point when we thought the sun might try to sneak out, but it didn't.

Obviously, it was cold. But at least it wasn't windy.

The marathon went pretty much as I expected it to. I didn't feel perfect even from the start, but my heart rate was right where it belonged for the distance and really stayed there all day, with little spikes for the hills. My legs felt heavy, especially my quads (which was weird, since my hamstrings hurt from snowboarding. Maybe there's some compensation going on there), and the top of each foot going into each leg hurt from just a few miles in until...well, they still hurt. I can't flex my feet or toes.

But all the pains I woke up with - hamstrings, the usual pain in my right foot, the bruise on my left foot - disappeared when we started running.

Aleks and I both wore our pink running jackets, so we got the "Go Pink!" yells throughout the course.

I brought with me Aleks' music and an external speaker so we could play it and sing along during the boring out-and-back parts of the marathon and a piece of paper - which thankfully didn't get so wet that the ink blurred - with all of Aleks' friends good wishes. (That includes Jessi, Kate, and Wes from the blogging world - Aleks was so excited to hear from you guys as well as her running partners and roommates!)

I think the best thing we had, though, was Latosha at three different points on the course to cheer us (and everyone else) around. Just the sight of her green hat perked us both up - what an amazing friend to come out and cheer on such an awful day!

We finished in 4:39 - 9 minutes slower than Aleks had hoped, but given the conditions and how tough the course really is, I think it was great. I know I had a really good time...although now I'm really tired.

Oh, one other thing I need to remember for future races: I need to have a better eating plan than "bring some food and eat it sometimes." I started to really lose it around mile 23 - after being perky and happy for hours before. I had a GU. Five minutes later, I was back to myself. But in those 10 or 15 minutes before the GU kicked in, oh my goodness. I was miserable. I don't need a lot of calories while running, but I do need them - and regularly. Eating when I remember to isn't good enough!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Exit expectations

10 or so hours from now, I'll be starting my fourth marathon - third this fall.

Except there's something different this time. I'm calm. I'm completely unconcerned about what may or may not happen tomorrow.

I have every reason to be concerned; I have a bruise on the top of my left foot, a pain in the top of my right foot that I've had since Sept. 16 (yes I will see a podiatrist soon), sore hamstrings from snowboarding yesterday, and a groggy kind of I-ate-too-much-during-holidays feeling.

But I'm not worried about any of that.

It's like the time I interviewed for my current job. I had a great job. I didn't care one way or the other if I were offered the job at Microsoft. So I was relaxed and calm and passed the full day of interviews with flying colors.

I don't expect that I'll pass tomorrow with flying colors. The weather isn't looking great and my body isn't in perfect shape for this.

But tomorrow isn't about me. It's about Aleks. And I think that by dropping my expectations, I can help her meet hers.

And that's what will be so incredibly satisfying about tomorrow.

Bring it on!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Some people have it...

And some people don't.

"It" in this case is a natural grace while snowboarding.

I started my weight-loss in February of 2004, and once I started, I don't think I got back up on the slopes at all. That wasn't a great season, and I was really focused on working out in the gym.

Due to a horrible season, I didn't board much until last winter. At that time, I decided that certain things - like pushing my board on the snow with one foot out, tightening my bindings, hopping through flat parts of runs - were a lot easier with me weighing a lot less. But other things - like actually snowboarding - was pretty much the same - and that is to say, my skills are mediocre to fair.

I was pretty disappointed that suddenly I wasn't awesome. I honestly thought I would be.

And then today, something odd happened. I brought the wrong snow pants for my hubby - a pair that he's gained too much weight to fit into. So that was annoying, but he switched pants with a friend and was good to go. But it made him feel kind of bad.

When he snowboarded, though, he still looked so graceful and effortless. He glided through snow carving perfect turns, never losing his balance. He has a distinctive style, so I can always recognize him coming down the mountain. And he looks exactly as he did eight years ago when he first took me snowboarding. (Seriously, I know this is my husband and all, but it's really hot. He looks great when boarding.)

Without knowing what the difference was for me between boarding fat and boarding thin, he said that even though he's gained maybe 20 pounds, boarding is just as easy, but the other stuff - the same stuff I found easier when I lost weight - was what was hard for him now.

I guess I should take some lessons if I really want to improve. But natural grace and ability? They don't come for free just because you lost weight.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

An open letter to Aleks, 5 days and counting

Dear Aleks,

I just read your most recent blog post, and feel compelled to respond.

In your post, you discussed goals - and how you're throwing away the numbers and focusing on "the experience" - since at the Seafair Half Marathon, you met your time goal but didn't "experience" the race.

Well, let me tell you this: Seafair, though it's a fabulously-run event, is not a race to experience. It takes you through ugly, boring parts of Bellevue and there really is nothing to focus on except your running.

And what I am reading between the lines of your most recent post is FEAR.

I think you know you don't have to be afraid of your friends thinking less of you if you don't meet whatever arbitrary time goal you set or we believe you can achieve.

I think you're afraid of how you feel about yourself if you don't meet your own high standard.

But remember this: You have trained well. You look incredibly strong - even when you say you don't feel strong. Your natural pace is quite a bit faster than 10-minute miles, and though I'm going to try to keep you around 10s for the sake of comfort and "the experience" I am confident that under good circumstances, 4:22 or even faster is completely within your grasp.

That said, there is much that's completely out of your control. The weather, other runners, the course, availability of water and fuel along the course, and random things your body may just decide to do the day of your race. You've dealt with all kinds of obstacles and issues during your training; hopefully those things will prepare you for the unexpected. But I am sure the unexpected will happen, and it could be things that help or hurt your race. Who knows.

Take comfort in how well you've trained and how strong you are. Remind yourself that you are indeed a distance runner now - you don't need a marathon under your belt to prove it.

One of the things Danielle always does for me when we run or ride together is point out parts of "the experience" - rabbits on the side of the road, a pretty flower, a cool pair of shoes on another runner. I'll be doing that for you.

I will also provide you with mile split times if you want them (meaning, you ask for them) and keep my mouth completely shut about times and numbers if you don't. I'll even run up ahead at the two places on the course where they have clocks and cover them so you don't see if you just want to run on RPE (rate of perceived exertion - my recommended method, not that I've actually taken this advice and done it myself).

And I've got a few surprises up my sleeve as well; you will not be able to help enjoying "the experience" - whether you're out there for four hours, five hours, or six hours.

I meant it this morning when we were running and you were pulling away from the group (as usual) that you are a stronger runner than me. You have an efficient stride, a strong pace and best of all, a great attitude. I think you could use some more self-confidence, but I'm guessing this marathon will help provide that to you the way it did for me last year.

You're so ready - let's rock this Seattle Marathon course!

(By the way, my blog reader friends: yeah. I'm running the Seattle Marathon to support Aleks. Yay!)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Do you need a coach for 2007?

So, any regular reader of my blog knows that Danielle rocks. Seriously. Here's why:

Do you know why she's smiling like that? It's not because she just met her Danskin goal. It's because just ahead of her, out of the camera's eye, was one of her athletes, crossing the finish line in a full-on sprint - meeting HER Danskin goal. Look how happy she is, and how proud.

Now who wouldn't want someone like that on their side (or, more commonly, by their side)!

Danielle has a degree in exercise physiology and is a USAT Level 1 Triathlon Coach, plus she has a bunch of certifications in fitness instructing, personal training, and yoga. She can custom-design a training plan for you, provide ongoing e-mail and in-person support and lead group and individual workouts. Seriously, without her, I would not have been this confident and successful.

So, if you want to contact her, you can email her at dw.mail @ comcast. net - or email me and I'll give you her phone number.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A couple of quick updates

Yesterday I had complete and total diet rebellion. If it is food, or somewhat resembled food, I ate it.

That said, my weight was normal this morning. Whatever.

Also yesterday, I had a fabulous run! I finally felt good again - we did just about 5.5 miles, but man, what a difference from Sunday!

Today I did indoor cycling with Danielle and I think it was the best class ever. Great music, great fun, and I worked really, really hard. So I'm feeling pretty rockin' right now!

Work is getting crazy-busy, which leaves me much less time to blog or read other people's blogs. However, next week I'm completely off of work, which means skiing and exercising as much as I want. Yay!

Monday, November 13, 2006

My season, by the numbers

I haven't posted a season wrap-up, because my season hasn't felt over yet.

But now that I'm just exercising, not training, I guess it is over. So here are some numbers from the season, probably only interesting to me. At some point I'll probably post actual learnings from the season, and goals for next year and beyond.

Races: 11
Half marathons: 5, including two for half-Ironman triathlons
Triathlons: 6
Marathons: 2
Organized bike rides: 4

Percent of training completed, Feb - Nov. 5: 101
Average hours of training per week: 12.2
Max hours in one week: 18.25
Minimum hours in one week: 8
Hours swimming: 44
Hours biking: 227
Miles ridden (on bicycle, doesn't include in spinning classes): 2800
Hours running: 158
Miles run: 1,000 (approx)
Total hours trained, Feb. 6 through Nov. 5: 429
Calories burned: 193,050 (approx)

Best result in a triathlon: 2nd place in AG, Lake Sammamish, August 26
Times I ranked "13" in a race: 5 (Cascade's Edge age group, Lake Stevens age group, Danskin age group, Lake Sammamish overall women, Black Diamond age group)
Fastest 5K run: 24:40
Fastest bike split: Danskin, 21.3 mph average - 12.4 miles

Long run, hungry girl

Yesterday the girls and I ran somewhere between 12 and 13 miles. I thought I could stick to the eating plan I've been doing so well with - after all, I even stuck with it Saturday night when I went out to eat with my friends and I got a chicken breast and a salad! But no. Participating in endurance events and attempting to diet DO NOT MIX.

So, pretty much, I ended up eating a couple of bad things in an attempt to stave off my hunger, and then I had book club last night and ate whatever I wanted. So when the scale said 140.4 this morning, there was no surprise.

However, it's okay. Today I'm back to the plan.

Fruit. Vegetables. Healthy fats. Protein. I'm going to allow myself a tiny bit of dairy in the form of milk in my coffee (though if non-dairy creamer is available, I'll prefer that). And this plan goes from now until Thanksgiving. And then it takes a break for Thanksgiving day, Saturday night before Thanksgiving (pasta feed at my house prior to the Seattle Marathon) and Seattle Marathon day. Then I'm back. 135 pounds (consistently!), here I come!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Winter Pineapple Classic 5K "Race" Report

They gave us timing chips.

We all laughed. What's the point of a timing chip when...

Two people on your team are recovering from a marathon?
One person on your team hasn't run in months (okay fine except once six weeks ago)?
There are "unknown obstacles" along the way?
The reason for doing this event was to dress up, act silly, and hang out with friends?

But we dutifully put the timing chips on our shoes anyway.

My friends and I fielded two teams today: Princess Power, consisting of Danielle, Latosha, Aleks, and Regan, and HodgePodge, consisting of Wendy, her husband Eric, my husband John, and me. The race was allegedly 5K, but we all thought it felt shorter, with obstacles your team has to get through together.

It took a long time to get started; this is the first year this event has been done, and the race bottlenecked at the final big obstacle. Race organizers did as good a job as they could have under the circumstances, but we started probably 40 minutes after our start time (team start times were staggered to prevent bottlenecks) and even so, had to wait more than 20 minutes at the final obstacle. But who cares? I might look up our times when they're posted, but it will be out of curiosity, not because we were competitive.

And as I said to Wendy at the end (and she told me I had to blog this), I wish there had been more obstacle and less course. Running was okay...nothing hurt, per se...but the first mile felt just like a seventh or eighth mile on a regular day. Nothing hurts, nothing is too terribly tired yet, but the legs don't quite feel fresh.

We had fun, though. We ran by some girls with pom-poms right at the beginning, and I yelled to John (who took off on a sprint - he's not so good at pacing himself yet), "Watch out for those cheerleaders! They're the first obstacle, trying to sucker you off-course!"

We had to crawl through tires, run around cones and ladders on the ground, and jump through tires. Pretty fun. Then we got to a cool obstacle: there were two walls we had to scale, only using our bodies to do it. The first wall was low enough to grab the top and kind of haul ourselves over, but the second was taller than me (5'3"). So somehow John throws himself over, then Eric made a little step with his hands for me and pushed me up and I got myself the rest of the way over. Wendy used the same method as me, then Eric levitated or something to get over.

The final obstacle, where the racers got backed up, was a rope ladder thing to climb (like something you'd see on a playground). We had to climb up, get ourselves over, then climb down. I went first. It looked deceptively easy, but once I was climbing, I realized I had to hold on tight and keep my balance. Then getting over the top was really scary - I got that feeling in the pit of my stomach like I was going to fall. And when I did get over and was on the way down, I was really close to the middle of the grid, which is more wobbly. I was glad to be done. Both Eric and John flipped themselves over at the top and said they felt no fear. Men!

I didn't get to see Princess Power run - since the obstacles were secret, the race organizers kept the teams waiting for the start inside a building. But it was cool to hang out in the morning with the gals. They wore cute purple-and-pink plaid skirts and tiaras, of course. The boys with Wendy and me said no pink and no tiaras, so we wore blue, red, and green leis instead (the event had a Hawaiian theme).

In other news, my weight this morning was 136.2 and I successfully resisted temptation twice today: Aleks brought bagels this morning and I only had a small piece of John's, and after the race we went to Starbucks and I didn't get a peppermint mocha. (I did have milk in my americano, but only a little. I know I said no dairy, but Starbucks doesn't have non-dairy creamer.) So I'm on my way to 130 pounds! Life will be perfect then.

Oh wait. It pretty much is now. :-)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Green tea latte or espresso latte?

My friend Kathy, who reads this blog, sent me a diet question a few weeks ago. I thought I'd post the question and my reply here.

Kathy asked: Which drink is better at Starbucks: A tall non-fat green tea latte, or a double tall non-fat espresso latte?

The green-tea latte breaks down like this:

130 calories
27 g carbs (26 of sugar)
6 g protein
0 g fat

The espresso latte* breaks down like this:
114 calories
18 g carbs (16 of sugar)
11 g protein
0 g fat

* Starbucks doesn't provide info for a double latte; to get the exact breakdown, I subtracted the data for one ounce of milk and replaced it with one ounce of espresso, the typical size of a shot.

So, assuming the caffeine content is the same (I have absolutely no idea if it is, but Kathy's friend told her it was; she had switched to green tea lattes thinking it was healthier, then learned it may not be), the choice is the espresso latte.

Now, obviously there's a 16 calorie difference here. But that's not really the reason why the espresso latte is better. You can burn 16 calories by parking further away at the grocery store or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. (Of course, if you always add 16 calories to what you're eating, eventually it adds up - but pretty much it's negligible for most people.)

The espresso latte is better because of the source of the calories. There are almost twice as many calories from protein in the espresso latte, and more than one-third fewer calories from sugar. Sure, I know that the way to lose weight is to consume fewer calories than you burn - and that's regardless of the source of those calories - but you also have to take into account the effect the calories will have on your body.

Carbohydrates spike your blood sugar. Your body produces insulin in response to it, and your blood sugar drops. This is why you feel a surge of energy from sugar, but then you crash. I know a lot of people here at work who operate on this cycle: go to the kitchen. Get a Coke. Drink it. Go back to the office. Code for half an hour. Return to the kitchen, feeling hungry. Find a cookie. Eat. Return to coding. It's interval training for weight gain!

But there's a fine line to walk here. Our bodies need carbohydrates - the brain needs sugar to operate! (Trust me on this one. I've seen my poor diabetic husband have hypoglycemic seizures due to low blood sugar. Not pretty.) So to stave off that feeling of hunger, we can combine carbohydrates with protein and fat.

Both protein and fats have a longer cycle - you don't peak, because they don't really raise your blood sugar, and your body takes longer to process them. So even after the carb rush has come and gone, protein and fat stay in your system and keep you satiated.

I have a rule: no carbs without protein. That even goes for the worst-possible carbs - banana bread, cake, ice cream, etc. It really helps to stop the sugar high/sugar crash cycle. It may seem somewhat counter-intuitive - I eat EXTRA calories when I eat the bad calories - but it's to prevent me from feeling starving an hour later and saying something like, "Hey. I ate ice cream today. The day is ruined. Might as well eat a brownie now!"

(Which everyone who knows me knows I actually have said before, but presumably less often than I would have had I not had the carbs + protein rule.)

So honestly, the best possible thing for Kathy to do with her espresso latte might even be to not do the non-fat milk thing and instead go for 1%. That way she gets a little more fat for just a few more calories, and she'll be even less likely to crash and need more sugar. Plus, it tastes better!

Thursday, November 09, 2006



I guess this is typical of me. I do a race, and all I can think about is the next race.

So in part it's good that New York was a pretty long trip for me; I couldn't work out Monday (though walking all over the American Museum of Natural History was a good way to stay loose the day after the marathon) and Tuesday was my first day back at work and I was just too busy catching up.

But I did try to work out yesterday. I took Danielle's indoor cycling class at noon. She looked fresh as a daisy, as usual! I thought I felt okay, but as soon as I started riding, I realized I wasn't.

Every time my heart rate would get over 145 (so not even 75% of max HR), my legs would ache and I would have to slow down or remove tension on the flywheel. And every time we were out of the saddle, I got a pounding headache.

So I took it easy and burned just 350 calories or so. I forgave myself by saying it was the first workout after a big race, travel, a time change, etc.

That headache, though, stayed with me - so much so that despite having a dozen people over the house for Bible study last night, I excused myself and went to bed. At 8:15, leaving my dear husband to finish hosting, pay the babysitter, get the kids in bed, and clean up the kitchen. Plus I left him with all the morning stuff - make the boy's lunch, pick out the girl's clothes (the boy wears a uniform, fortunately), etc.

However, the upside of going to bed at 8:15 was that I was wide awake before 5 a.m., ready to go meet the girls for a run. I got out of bed tentatively, not sure the headache was really gone. It was. So I was off to the gym.

We got a slight break in the rain, but we ran just four miles today. And oh my goodness. The first few steps HURT. My right hamstring and both glutes were not excited to be running. Plus, I got a cramp less than half a mile in, and it stayed with me the entire time.

We did four miles in about 44 minutes - that includes stops at streetlights, but it was a hard run for me.

And what do I do when I get back to the gym? I start thinking about what MORE I could do to work out. 45 minutes didn't feel like enough!

I made myself get in the shower instead, and I'm not going to let myself go back to the gym until tomorrow, when I will again try to do a low-key recovery workout.

But it's so hard! I want to be able to go, go, go all the time! Rest is for the weak!

Or smart. Rest is for the smart. (But I'm not smart!!!)

Okay, I'll try to be. But it's just so hard!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The "week two" diet

So now that my season is over (yes, expect a season recap soon!), it's time to really buckle down on the diet. I know I was using FitDay fairly faithfully for a few weeks in October, but I let that fall down when the NY marathon approached, and now it's time to get back to being serious about my diet.

So I'm going back to "Week 2" of the 20/20 Lifestyles program, the diet and exercise plan on which I lost 60 pounds two and a half years ago. Here's what the diet entails:

I am allowed to eat the following things:

Protein (preferably lean; white chicken and turkey, fish, and lean cuts of pork and beef)
Vegetables (except potatoes, peas, and beets)
Healthy fats (nuts, olive oil, peanut butter)
Sauces/dressings where the sugar content is less than 4g/serving

I need to eat these things in the following distribution. Each meal has to contain protein, fat, and carbs.

Breakfast: 300 calories (approx 14 grams of protein; 30 grams of carbs; 10 grams of fat)
Lunch: 400 calories (approx 35 grams of protein; 40 grams of carbs; 10 grams of fat)
Snack: 100 calories (approx 5 grams of protein; 15 grams of carbs; 3 grams of fat)
Dinner: 400 calories (approx 35 grams of protein; 40 grams of carbs; 10 grams of fat)

This gives me 1200 calories per day. I can go up to 1400 calories if I'm hungry and need to increase at a meal, but pretty much if I'm this limited in what I can eat, I'm going to end up eating much higher volume foods - so I'm less likely to be hungry than if I were eating, say, banana bread and candy. :-) Seriously - if you have to get a majority of your calories from vegetables and berries, you have to eat A LOT. So your tummy stays full. It's a great trick. Too bad it's more fun to eat banana bread.

So here goes! The plan is to do this until Thanksgiving, then enjoy Thanksgiving, then go back to this diet until the end of the year (with reprieves for parties and Christmas Eve and Day). In January, we'll see how I did. I do have a Caribbean vacation coming up in January...gotta look good in a bikini!

Oh, one other thing: Halloween was insane for my kids. They got a ton of candy from trick-or-treating at Microsoft and in the neighborhood. So Wednesday night, before we left for New York, I made an offer: I'd pay them 25 cents for each Halloween-sized candy bar they turned in to me, and for smaller items, two for .25. I figured I'd owe each kid $10 or so.

Well, instead, each child made piles worth $1 with all of their candy, then proceeded to take out 8 or 9 pieces each, and turn in the rest to me. I owed each child $27.25!!! That means each one turned in 109 pieces of candy. (This was after whatever they ate Tuesday night and Wednesday before we made the deal.)

The moral of the story: My kids have learned something. Toys are more permanent than candy, and candy is unhealthy anyway. Just a little bit is enough! Yay!

And I learned something too: Next time, offer .25 for two or four pieces, not just one!

Monday, November 06, 2006

New York Marathon Race Report

New York is an incredible place to run!

So, I never actually lived in NYC, but my sister did, I lived upstate for four years during college, and I spent a bit of time both working and hanging out in the city. I always found it lonely and unfriendly, honestly. Something about SO MANY PEOPLE everywhere just made me feel so isolated - by myself in the midst of thousands of people every time I went anywhere in the city.

But yesterday, what the NYC marketing people say about the city was completely true. It became like a small town, with everyone out supporting the runners - and it didn't matter that I passed by hours after the leaders, those New Yorkers cheered for me as if I were first. Crowd support was incredible.

And you know, athletes supporting each other was incredible too. I had tears in my eyes when I passed the double-amputee, pushing himself along on crutches. And a few blind runners. And more than a few people running "in memory of" a loved one.

I've already said New York wasn't about a PR for me. It was about soaking up the spirit of the city and enjoying the company of my friends. And, now that it's done, I'll also say it was about one more thing for me: it was about trying to be the kind of person and the kind of friend I want to be. And in that, I think I was moderately successful.

So here's a recap of the entire day - I want to remember it forever.

I spent the night at Danielle's friend's apartment near Columbia University so my family wouldn't have to drive me to NYC at 4 in the morning. Danielle and I woke up on time, and except for a mad scramble to find her earrings that she had accidentally tossed in the trash can, made it out of the apartment close to on time - but not quite enough. So we had to run four or five blocks to the subway station, fuss with the ticket system, go down the wrong side so we were on the uptown tracks, not downtown, race back up and over, and barely got on the train before the doors closed. Wendy got on the same train a few stops down, so in all we met up fairly easily.

We took the shuttle bus from the NY Public Library to Fort Wadsworth Park. This was probably the hardest part of the day - we got there around 6:30 or so, but the race didn't start until 10:10. They make you do this because they have to close the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge and all athletes need to be on the other side - but basically, you sit around on cold, wet grass for hours before you run. They had food, coffee, tea, and water - and of course Porta-Potties - but it was pretty hard sitting there in the cold, shivering and feeling my muscles stiffen up. I had worn a throw-away sweatshirt plus my winter jacket that I would put in my checked baggage an hour before we started running, a long-sleeve running top and my running jacket, plus two pairs of gloves (one throwaway, one real), but I was still cold.

The time passed quicker than I thought it would, though, and eventually it was time to line up. We walked to the foot of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, and then, as Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" blared, the gun went off! We were running!

So if you look at the elevation profile of NY, the biggest hill looks like the first bridge. Biggest, though, is extremely relative - and when you typically run in Seattle, there are NO HILLS WHATSOEVER on the NY marathon race course. Seriously. So that was a huge boost of confidence for me - I know I'm strong on hills, but I also know that they do make my heart rate rise, just like anyone else, and I was somewhat concerned that hills plus the amount of time I'd be on that course could combine to make me uncomfortable.

However, because there was the slight incline for the first mile, something unexpected happened: I warmed up. Enough that between miles 1 and 2, I shed my gloves, ear band, and jacket. I was unwilling to part with them (unlike so many other runners - probably for the first five miles we were dodging dropped clothing), so I shoved the gloves and ear band into the jacket pocket and ran with the jacket around my waist. We knew Wendy's sister would be around mile 7 and we could drop things we wanted to keep with her.

So when I warmed up, Wendy warmed up even more. She had been debating tights vs. capris all morning, and because of the cold morning, went with tights. Well, turns out that wasn't a good choice for her - she runs warm, unlike me, so by mile 2 she was HOT whereas I was just comfortable, maybe slightly on the cool side (perfect for running). Our plan had been to run 11 minute miles for the first three, until the crowd thinned out, then pick it up. When it was in theory time to pick it up, though, we couldn't. Wendy was hot and uncomfortable, which made her heart rate rise, and 11 to 12 minute miles was where we needed to stay if we were going to stay together.

Here's where it got hard for me. I was running so effortlessly. It felt great. But the crowds were so thick that it wasn't all that easy for the three of us to run side-by-side. So I was slightly ahead...and I kept getting further ahead, and having to slow down and wait until Danielle and Wendy caught up with me. After a while, this got pretty frustrating. I realized very early on that 4:20 was going to be impossible...and even 4:30 slipped away in the first few miles.

8 miles down, and don't we look lovely! (Me, Wendy, Danielle)

So we saw Wendy's sister between miles 7 and 8, dropped my jacket off with her, and got a decent boost from that. The next thing to look forward to was seeing Eric, Wendy's husband. He was supposed to be around mile 11 with a fabulous gift for Wendy: shorts! After some confusion around where exactly he was going to meet us, we did find him and Wendy changed from tights to shorts, right there on the sidewalk in Brooklyn. We had our little pink skirts on over our tights, so she was somewhat covered, but it still drew more than a few interested glances our way. Wendy also ditched her white Princess shirt - which was SOAKING wet, I picked it up off the ground to give to Eric - and ran in a bra top. Danielle decided to be in solidarity with Wendy and run in her bra, too (a pink one, of course), but I knew John would KILL me if I ran in just a bra, plus I wasn't warm enough to really want to. So I kept my clothing on. :-)

Wendy said she felt so much better in shorts and her bra top, so I was hoping we'd be able to pick up the pace a little bit. I asked her whether she wanted me to do the math and give updates on how we were doing. I do this in every race I run, from my 1-mile time trials to the marathon. It's one of the ways I keep my brain occupied during running. I play with fractions and percentages and make predictions and figure out how fast I'd have to run to come in at X time, etc. At this point, she was still interested in hearing our pace and predicted finish time.

But we really weren't speeding up much. When we hit the halfway point on the Pulaski Bridge, heading from Brooklyn into Queens, I saw 2:30 on my watch. So I knew then that we were likely looking at a five-hour marathon.

Realizing that, though, took away some of the frustration I had been feeling up until the halfway point. I'd run 13 miles in two and a half hours. There was no way in the world that I was going to PR, or see 4:20, or see 4:30. I had really set 4:30 as the "acceptable" time for me to run with my friends, and it wasn't going to happen. So I had to tell myself to just suck it up. To stop caring about what other people think of my time. To live in the moment I had, right then in New York. It was going to be over sooner rather than later and I'd only have the memory. I didn't want the memory to be of being annoyed at my pace or my friends or anything other than the joy of running comfortably amidst a crowd of supportive people and with great friends.

I still felt fabulous at this point. My legs were starting to feel somewhat heavy, but my heart rate was low and I was fully able to talk, laugh, yell, and sing. And skip, and dance. So I did all of those things throughout the second half. There was one thing that happened around mile 16, on the Queensboro Bridge. I had gotten ahead again of Danielle and Wendy, and then you go through this really dark part of the bridge (felt like a tunnel, but I'm not sure it actually was). During that part, I could barely see even with my sunglasses off, so I just kept running and slowed down to wait for them to catch up when we got back into the light. When Wendy and Danielle caught up, Danielle said, "We were just talking, and we don't want to hold you back - so why don't you just go ahead?"

NO! I just got so annoyed that they would suggest it. (I'm not annoyed now - I just was in the moment.) I had already resigned myself to whatever time we got, and was trying to re-focus my time goals on Wendy's - she had said she wanted to come in under 5 hours and make the New York Times (they publish the names/times of the people who run the marathon in under 5). So I just said, in a annoyed tone of voice, that I wasn't going to leave them. But I wanted to know whether I should encourage Wendy or just shut up. I guess I thought that encourage was what was wanted, though I'm less sure now.

So from that point on, I made more of an effort to stay side by side with the girls. Amazingly to me, the crowds of runners were still thick - really, it never thinned out at any point on this race. I hadn't ever experienced that before (though this is by far the biggest race I've ever done). I started making phone calls to whoever I could think of - John, my mom, Aleks, and later, we called Latosha and Regan for some over-the-airwaves encouragement. Danielle and I started monitoring Wendy's eating more closely - she was getting snappy some of the time, and we weren't sure if she hated us or was close to bonking.

My fueling strategy, by the way, was perfect. I did a pack of Jelly Belly Sport Beans just before the race started, then after the first hour, then every 45-50 minutes thereafter. I used course water and didn't carry my own. I knew with the cooler weather I'd be okay without the extra weight and water.

John was waiting for us around mile 17. He was up on top of something snapping pictures, and I made him come down and give me a kiss. Then I had to run faster to catch up with the girls.

Left to right, Danielle, me, Wendy

The last five miles were definitely the most fun for me. I had completely let go of the time goal, because by this point I was sure we were going to come in under 5 hours. So I just danced to the tunes from the "best DJ in the Bronx," then I did the twist while running when we crossed back into Manhattan, and I sang and was generally a goofball for a while. Then I had a great idea at mile 22: at mile 23, we'd all eat our last bit of food, whatever we were using, and we would dedicate the mile to a co-worker of Wendy's, who had told her she "didn't look like a runner."

So we ate, and I dictated a letter to the co-worker. It went something like this:

Dear co-worker,
As I run between miles 23 and 26.2 in New York City on this gorgeous marathon day, I look around me and I see many people. Some are fat, some are thin, some are tall, some are short, some are old, and some are young. But we all have one thing in common: we're going to finish this race today. And you, sir, could probably be here with us, running from mile 23 to 26.2. However, you would have gotten to mile 23 by car, bus, or train - certainly not by your feet.

Love, Wendy, who doesn't "look like a runner" but certainly is!

So we continued through Central Park. John saw us a few times and took our picture (though I only noticed him once), and Eric apparently saw us too and took pictures as we approached the finish line. At this point, I was back to doing some math - and I realized that we might not make 5 hours without a strong push at the end.

I didn't know John was there until we had passed by!

At mile 24, we passed some porta-potties. Wendy reminded me that she'd been so good and hadn't stopped to go! I said I was going to congratulate you, but I didn't want to give you any ideas. And she said that we'd come this far without, she could certainly hang on until the end now.

We definitely picked up our speed the last few miles, passing many, many people. We were dodging around folks - there were quite a few walkers by now, but people still filled almost all the available space. The last half mile came and we knew we needed to go all-out to make 5 hours. I couldn't believe what Wendy was able to put out. We picked up the pace dramatically with the finish line in sight - at 400 meters to go, I thought we had four minutes, then realized it was only 2, and was just yelling at Wendy to go, go, go! She turned to me and yelled, "I'm going as fast as I can!" Um, oops! I shut up and just kept running. I was running hard now too, but not as hard as I could have - my max HR for the day was 175, and I'm sure that was right at the finish. (That's fairly low for me - my max HR overall is 202, so I'd expect to see a full-on sprint to the finish hit at least in the high 180s, if not 190 or so.)

Sprint to the finish

We crossed the finish line together. I looked at my watch. 5:00:25. We hadn't made it. But I did hold out a little bit of hope - I thought we were 8 minutes back from the clock (meaning, took us 8 minutes to cross the start line from the time the gun went off), and I knew the clock said 5:07 something when we crossed. I figured my watch could be off by 25 seconds over 5 hours, right?

Wrong. My official time was 5:00:20. So I missed being in the New York Times by 20 seconds. Wendy said afterwards something like, if only I had put my shorts on faster...but really, it's not about that. It's too bad we won't be in the NY Times - I had wanted to be, and in fact, never once did it occur to me that I would come in over 5 hours until mid-run yesterday - but ultimately it's meaningless. (Update: The NY Times must have had additional space, because they published the names of everyone who finished under 5:05. But still - it's cool, but not that important.)

So I didn't run my fastest yesterday. It was certainly my most comfortable marathon, and that says something big. Today I'm somewhat sore, but not incredibly so, and that's great. I hope my friends still love me after yesterday - I feel like I tried really hard to not be so competitive (and it's definitely not competition with them, it's with myself) and tried to be a good friend and supporter. Danielle stayed with me on the Seattle marathon last year when I know she could have run faster. Finishing with her meant the world to me. Yesterday, I think I paid it foward to Wendy.

Finishing with my friends was more important and just more RIGHT than finishing alone, in a lonely city, surrounded by tens of thousands of strangers. I can't honestly say I feel 100% good about the actual number: 5:00:20. But I can say I feel great about my choice.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Off to New York!

I'm leaving tonight, and SO excited!

Probably won't have much time to blog between now and when I return, but feel free to track me (and Wendy and Danielle) on Sunday!

My race number is F8163, and you can watch the race live here:

I think they have an athlete tracker, so you can check up on us (the race starts at 10:10 a.m. eastern, but I don't expect we'll cross the start line until maybe 10:30? Who knows).

They also have email updates every 5K, so you can really track us if you want to! If you watch the video thing, you'll be in for a treat: three princesses in our pink skirts!

We're planning on running a 10-minute mile throughout, so in theory should finish in 4:22. But ultimately we're going to finish it together, so if it takes us 5 or 6 hours, so be it! (But it won't. Wendy and I ran together this morning - 4 miles in about 40 minutes - and she could hardly believe it, especially since there were two fairly good sized uphills, and no significant downhill. So I know she can do a 4:22. And I know I can have more fun with my friends than without, anyway.)

Monday, October 30, 2006

I take it back!

Yesterday I was somewhat unhappy because it was a rest day. I thought some more about what I wrote - wanting to run NY faster - and reconsidered, for two very important reasons.

First: I thought about my best runs ever. They weren't alone. They weren't PRs. They were barely even timed! But they were with my friends.

I imagine that if we get a nice, brisk day in New York, the air will remind me of growing up (pollution and car exhaust aside, I love the smell of fall). The sun will shine down on us as we cross bridges we'd only ever traveled on by car before, and it will continue to chase us as it peeks through the tall buildings. Silly men will whistle at the three girls in pink skirts, and little girls will hold out their hands for us to high-five as we run by. We won't be looking at watches or heart-rate monitors or split times - we'll be checking the pulse of the city and soaking in that energy together. No feet or legs or sides will ache. It will just feel FUN and we won't even want it to end, not even when the finish line is in sight.

And second: While I would never attempt to change the plan at this point, how dare I even think of it when Danielle has stayed with me in BOTH of my marathons when I slowed down and she could have gone faster. Am I really so competitive that I could be so callous?

I am so blessed to have great friends with whom to experience this marathon. I better never let myself forget it again.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Itching to run

Yesterday was my last run longer than an hour before the marathon... and it left me feeling like I'd failed to complete it. I first had just six miles on the schedule, but Wendy had 8, and given our route and Aleks' 18 on her schedule, 9 just made sense. But I was sad to be done, and I didn't feel like I'd run enough. I really can't wait for New York! I don't feel like I haven't trained enough. In fact, the opposite is true. I want to run 26.2 NOW, not a week from now.

A week from now it will be over. I don't want it to be over, but I want to be in the moment today.

I think this is how a taper is supposed to feel.

Anyway, I woke up wanting to run today, but Sunday is family day and the last two were totally not, so I didn't even try. But I did start playing with the idea of running a late-winter marathon... maybe February or March, to try to PR.

See, while all along the idea of running with my friends has been really appealing, now that it's down to the end, my competitive self is rearing its ugly head and saying, "How can you PLAN to run a marathon slower than you ever did before?"

I want to run with Wendy and Danielle, I really do. But I also want to push myself and see how fast I could be on race day.

So the compromise with which I cheered myself up was the idea of finding a winter marathon and running my heart out.

Well, I mentioned it to John over breakfast. Let's just say the reaction wasn't positive.

He's going to have to sacrifice a lot for me to become an Ironman, and I guess he was looking forward to me not racing for a little while and chilling out. In theory, my Ironman training season begins in March.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure I can really chill out until then.

And when I do get back into racing, John really wants me to work hard at the shorter-distance races - running 5Ks, doing sprint triathlons. And those goals interest me, too, but right now I'm about the endurance. He knows for 2007, Ironman Canada is it - he's not trying to change that - but I know he hopes this is the one Ironman event for me, then I go to something else entirely.

Maybe I will. After all, there's just so much I want to do! Multi-day bike rides (like, those really long ones - 600 miles or whatever). Climb Mt. Rainier. Run to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite. Adventure racing.

But right now, I just want to run.

Why isn't Sunday here already???

Thursday, October 26, 2006

When other things suck, at least there's exercise

So, a couple of things aren't right.

The Bible study I host is focused on marriage, and I'm learning more and more what a bad wife I have the tendency to be.

Work has gotten insane. I work on the largest software development project in history. And I can't even keep a single machine running well for more than 24 hours. This is SO INCREDIBLY WRONG for this time in the product release cycle.

And last month was pretty bad for my hubby's new business, so I have some financial concerns that I don't really want to deal with.

Last night I only slept four hours...and even those four hours were not good sleep.

So I thought about staying in bed and not meeting the girls for the 5:30 a.m. run that I had planned (normally we've been going at 6 on Thursdays - and yes, 30 minutes makes a huge difference). But I realized that sleeping slightly later and not running would probably result in a worse day anyway - so I dragged my bottom out of bed and went to the gym.

On the way, my coffee was too hot to drink and there was nothing good on the radio.

But in the locker room, I see Nancy's vest hanging over her locker, then Aleks comes bouncing over in her pink jacket, then Kathy shows up with a big smile, and stuff just feels better.

We ran 6 miles (one hour) on dark, quiet streets long before our families, friends and co-workers even got out of bed. And for the moments when I was with my friends, running comfortably in perfect running weather (52 degrees or so), things felt right.

Back when I was much younger and I occasionally smoked pot, I'd conduct a little test to see whether I was high enough: Can I laugh at or ignore the worst problem I'm facing? Does it matter right now, in this very moment?

Happily for me, exercise produces that same feeling - the escape into another world, at least for a short time.

But it also gives me something else: when I do come back to the real world, full of marriage, work, and financial troubles, I bring something of that exercise world with me. I'm just a little more calm and I have just a little more perspective. It mellows me out and takes away some of the aggression and anger I might otherwise feel all day.

So things aren't really that bad. Nothing really sucks. And I can push forward and work on the little problems in my life, just like I push forward and become a better swimmer, cyclist, and runner. Drug-free, too!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A conversation with my mother

My mom read my blog yesterday and told me she better not show up in it. Well, that's like telling me the oven is hot! Of course I have to touch it!

But seriously, she said a couple of things I want to write about.

First, and she's said this before, she asked me why I don't just cut down what I eat, and therefore not have to exercise so much. I was like, hmm. Stop doing something I like, so I can stop doing something else I like? That doesn't seem to make sense.

So she said, "Well, I still have this mentality that exercise is pain - not fun!" And I told her I was terribly sorry for her.

In Dean Karnazes' book Ultra Marathon Man, which is really a fun read, he also equates pain with exercise - and goes a step further. He actually says he enjoys the pain.

I don't enjoy the pain. I endure it when appropriate for the fitness gains (when I say pain, I'm talking running my mile or 5K time trial or pushing hard up a hill on my bike or doing those last couple of reps of bench press). But the vast majority of my training doesn't induce pain - it may result in a high heart rate and heavy breathing, but it feels fun - especially when I'm with my girls! I mean, we could be out drinking margaritas and eating chips and salsa and gossiping. Or we could be together, running on a brisk fall morning and kicking up leaves like little kids. Chips and margaritas sounds okay, but running is just so much better - all the social benefits, plus the health benefits!

And then, eating. I love to eat. I always have. I remember being in kindergarten and getting a snack when I got home from school - two cookies - then getting a second snack when my little sister woke up from her nap - two more. I felt slightly guilty about it even then, but I was able to justify it to myself somehow. So I was pretty much a compulsive eater early on. My mother has never loved food like that. In fact, when I was an overweight teenager, to make myself feel better about my mother's naturally thin body I would tell myself - and her - that she was really anorexic, so she wasn't healthy either. But I was always jealous that my mother and my sister could share clothing, but I was too fat. And today, I'm kind of jealous that my mother doesn't love food like I do. It would be so much easier to eat for fueling only; I could weigh and measure everything and eat perfect meals if yummy food didn't mean something to me.

So I remind myself that my mother isn't out running marathons. But honestly, I wish she would - I would love to share with her the joy that I've gotten by getting and staying fit. (She does exercise, but she appears to have mental blocks about running.) Too bad she's 3,000 miles away.

And I also remind myself that now that I'm thin, even though I still weigh more than my mom and my sister, it's not about numbers on the scale (which today were weirdly low, especially given the 470-calorie slice of Starbucks Maple Pecan Streusel Loaf I ate last night, while enjoying a coffee and hot chocolate with Gabriel, who was telling me all the reasons he doesn't believe in Santa Claus - how sad!). It's about what I can DO. And I can do a lot that I never thought I could!