Thursday, January 30, 2014

First Step is Admitting I Have a Problem

OK, I admit it...I love gadgets!

I also admit that I am a HUGE data geek! I love collecting it and analyzing it...even it I'm not always entirely sure what it means ;-) Learning what it all means is part of the fun.

Today I was updating my weight on my Garmin Connect profile (to reflect my starting weight at the beginning of my experiment) and noticed that there are a lot of fields that I could potentially be capturing and tracking. All I need is the Tanita BC 1000 scale...

Note that the weight shown is from 2010 (it's probably fudged LOL)

Body fat? Bone mass? Muscle mass? Metabolic age???

What??? Why do I not have this information?

I need this data!!! I want to know!!!

I would love to be able to track this and see how numbers improve or change as I lose weight. Maybe having this data would help keep me focused on my goal.

Tanita BC-1000 In Depth Review by DC Rainmaker (Great reviewer of all things tri)

Special Section for HS

Valentine's Day? Anniversary? Just because you LOVE me?

Tanita BC-1000 at :-)

That's a lot of money for a scale with no display...but I still want it ;-)

I was just kidding about you getting this for me...I know you just put new batteries in our old, boring, yucky scale that only tells us our weight. You would have no interest in knowing your muscle mass...right? LOL

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Back to the Base-ics

If you search the Internet long enough you can find just about anything that will support your theories…

Too Slow

I have no doubt Mark Allen knows what
he's talking about
Recently I read an article by Mark Allen (six-time winner of the Ironman World Championship) that stressed staying in your aerobic or fat burning for the first 10-12 weeks of training. Based on his formula, I needed to keep my heart rate below 134. 

This proved to be easier said than done. Last Friday I did a 10 mile run with HS and managed to maintain an average HR of 134. In order to maintain this HR, I ran a 12:21 minute per mile pace. UGH!!! I didn't think I could do this for 10 days let alone 10 weeks. There had to be a better way.

Google Search

This unbearably slow pace is what lead to today's Google search. I can't remember my exact search criteria, but it had something to do with base pace being too slow.

I found the following two part article by Paul Carmona. For what it's worth, Paul Carmona is a lawyer who has completed 33 marathons and 30 triathlons (from sprint to Ironman distance). Does this mean he does or doesn't know what he's talking? I don't know, but I like what he has to say and it supports my theory that I'm running too slow! LOL

Carmona's two part-er does not depart from the fundamentals stressed by Mark Allen. The main difference is in part 2 where Carmona offers a more customized way of calculating your HR range. Carmona's method takes into account your resting HR. Look at this example Carmona uses…
Let’s say for the purposes of illustration that our runner is a 40 year-old who attains a maximal heart rate of 175 on the hill test. Next, she averages 55 beats at rest. HRR is maximal heart rate minus resting heart rate. In this example, 175 minus 55 is 120. That is her “heart rate reserve,” 120. In other words, she can go from complete rest at 55 beats per minute to a maximum of 175 beats at very hard effort. 
Generally, the recommended zone for aerobic training is 65%-78% of HRR. For our example, where the HRR is 120, we arrive at these numbers:
  • 65% of 120 = 78 
  • 78% of 120 = 94 
However, you have got to add back into these numbers the resting heart rate. Thus, for our runner whose resting heart rate is 55, the zones are: 
  • 78 + 55 = 133  
  • 94 + 55 = 149
Voila! Her target training zone for aerobic exercise is 133-149. Now, compare that range to the simplistic method above (220 minus age x 60%-80%), which yielded zones of 108-144. The 133-149 zone is much narrower, and is tailored specifically to her own resting and maximal heart rates. 
I have a pretty good idea of my maximum HR based on my Garmin averages and the field tests that Coach James has put me though. If there is any doubt about those numbers, my recent VO2 max test at the University of the Pacific should put those to rest. The only missing piece to this puzzle will be my resting heart rate.

For today's 5 mile run, I borrowed the HR range from Carmona's example…why not? It's better than walking my run. My moving pace for the run jumped to a speedy 10:58 minutes per mile. Ok, maybe that's not exactly speedy, but it is much more do-able than 12:21…I'm just saying.

For the next week, I am going to be recording my resting heart rate as soon as I wake up. Maybe my results will get me a few extra bpm ;-)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Experiment Almost Derailed (Day 18)

As you know, I am doing a 5 week experiment in which I cut out all sugar and grains, I don't count calories AND I don't weigh myself. I have stuck to these rules until last night's VO2 max testing at the University of the Pacific. Before the students started the testing, they had to collect certain statistics...including weight. Not only did this break my "no weighing" rule, it went against all of my standard, self-imposed weighing rules...

  1. I only weigh myself first thing in the morning before eating or drinking ANYTHING (Last night's test was at 5pm... after a day of eating as well as drinking lots and lots of water UGH) 
  2. No clothes allowed (I was fully clothed last night except for shoes SIGH)
  3. Because the weekend usually includes a cheat day (or two), I NEVER weigh myself on Mondays. I like to have a couple of days for my body to normalize. I also tend to retain water after my Sunday long runs. (If you haven't guessed, or don't have a calendar handy, yesterday was a Monday BLEH).

Yesterday was a perfect storm... a weighing "no-no" trifecta...something that could potentially send me off the deep end into Skittle-town if the number on the scale came back high enough that I would be unable to explain it to my very fragile self. Oh, let me add a 4th "bad" was a medical scale...guaranteed to be at least 5 lbs. heavier than my home scale.

I steeled myself for the results....drum roll... 150.5. Only half a pound heavier than my weight at the start of the experiment. On January 10 (a Friday, after 5 days of clean eating), I weighed in (on my home scale) at 150. The fact that it was virtually the same number last night in the lab was a good sign. I really, really wanted it to be lower though.

The Test

Such a ratty little pony tail...I need a hair cut
I don't know the exact protocol for the test, but I'm pretty sure it was something like this...

  1. Allow test subject to warm up for 10 minutes at a comfortable pace. This will give them the false impression that this test isn't going to hurt.
  2. Fit the subject with a plastic mask attached to a tube. Crank the mask tight until the subject begs for mercy or you hear the skull crack.
  3. As soon as the subject is comfortable breathing into the mask/tube, clamp off their nose and watch the panic in their eyes. Fun times!
  4. Start the test.
  5. At predetermined intervals, ask subject, who is completely wrapped up in trying to breath through a tube, to rate their perceived exertion. (WARNING: They'll probably just make something up so you'll go away and they can get back to focusing on breathing).
  6. Did the subject say they still think it is easy? HA! Increase speed.
  7. Continue increasing speed until subject admits that anything more would be considered "difficult". At this point, start increasing the incline. BWAH HA HA HA!!
  8. Continue this torture until the subject admits they can endure no longer or until they fly off the treadmill and land in a heap.

Fast feet
Stop! Stop! Stop!

I glanced at the computer screen after I tapped out and saw that I had been tortured (not counting the warm-up) for over 27 minutes. HS said I was at a 14% incline. WOW! After test ended, I kicked myself a bit for not pushing myself more (HS felt the same way about his test) but I was seriously concerned that my legs would hold out at that incline.

You see, I am not a "hill" runner and to trying and run at a 14% incline was quite a struggle for me. My hips and glutes were begging for mercy. Seriously, my biggest fear was stumbling and shooting off the back of the treadmill. Fear vetoed my ego and I asked to stop the test. Boo :-(

Oh, well...maybe there will be a next time...

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Not Quite Meat and Potatoes

While my "experiment" has me avoiding sugar and grains, I'm also trying to steer clear of other foods that may be a little too high in carbs…foods such as mashed potatoes. Luckily, I have found a delicious substitute…mashed/creamed cauliflower.

Consider this, a medium head of cauliflower is only 150 calories (Yes, I know I'm not counting calories during my experiment…this info is for anyone that is). It also has 29g of carbs and 11g of protein. One medium potato has about 160 calories, 37g of carbs and 4g of protein.

The recipes is quite simple…chop up the cauliflower into little pieces and boil until mushy soft.

Strain the cauliflower when done...

In my recipe I add about 1/2 cup of non-fat Greek yogurt and some grass fed butter…then I mash it up.

I like to mash the cauliflower on the stove to help thicken it...

Ok, I was a little indulgent last night...I put some extra butter on my serving :-)

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Incredible, Edible Egg (Experiment - Day 15)

My sugar and grain free experiment with no calorie counting or scales continues. This morning started with a very Atkins-like breakfast of bacon and eggs. While I may not be counting calories let me just say that this breakfast is only 280 calories…right in the ballpark of my standard meal plan…

2 eggs (70 cal ea) & 2 strips of bacon (70 cal ea)

Since I've started the experiment, I have eaten eggs almost every single day. If it's not fried eggs (in butter) for breakfast, it's hard boiled eggs for snack.  You may think that I am on the path to a Lipitor prescription, but I beg to differ. After reading Grain Brain, I am confident that eating eggs every day is not detrimental to my health!

Check this out this excerpt from Grain Brain...
Still afraid of eating eggs? Not me.

Exercise for the Day

Today is my "off" Friday, so I'll be heading out on a long, slow run in the morning instead of the afternoon. I'm going to program the Garmin for a maximum HR of 138 so this run may take a while :-)

The Hardest Training Day of the Week (Experiment Day 13 & 14)

Thursday is my day off. It's my rest and recovery day. It is also the most difficult day of training. When I'm not doing something I fear I'm going backwards. Of course this isn't the case, it's just part of my neurosis :-)

Wednesday - Day 13

I was lazy and ill-prepared on Wednesday in terms of food. Breakfast started with non-fat Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries.I don't choose non-fat because of the calories, I choose it because I was raised on non-fat dairy products and it is extremely difficult for me to even stomach low-fat dairy. So, it's always non-fat for me.

My morning snack was a grapefruit, this is standard for me. Lunch, however, was vanilla Shakeology. This used to be one of my go-to meals, but I would at least put a banana in it or something to bring up (yes, UP) the calories. 160 calories, very low fat, low glycemic, 16g of protein is a great's not a great meal. I was dipping into my afternoon snack of pistachios within an hour! Not good. When it came time for my afternoon snack, I ate the remaining nuts and drank a big glass of water...unfortunately, I felt like I was starving. Definitely not enough fat today!

When I got home, all hell broke loose! I stuffed my face full of nuts like a deranged squirrel. I chased this with some cheese and pastrami and then some artichoke hearts...and then some more nuts and another grapefruit. By the time my head registered that I was full, it was too late and I was feeling like crap. Great! Just in time for swim practice.

Thursday - Day 14

I learned my lesson yesterday and started the day with a little more in terms of calories and fat. I had a 2 egg omelette with Canadian bacon, cheese and asparagus...cooked in grass fed butter. Guess what! I didn't feel like I was starving!

The rest of the day was much better and my appetite stayed in check.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Grain Brain - Review

Put down the sandwich and read this
This book started off strong and offered a lot of information that was easily understandable. Of course, I'm already a believer in the low carb diet as a way to lose weight, so I didn't take much convincing. HS and I dropped a considerable amount of weight back in the day on the Atkins diet and we were surviving on steak, cheese and pork rinds (more or less LOL).

One of my main goals in life is to remain healthy and fit throughout my life. I don't want to be feeble and confined to a rocking chair in my old age. I want to be racing. I want to be the 70 year crossing the finish line to a round of applause from the youngsters. What I hadn't given much thought to was my mental capacity at 70. Reading this book will make you think about it and it will scare the hell out of you!

Rating - "Tired Legs" (see previous post for rating system)

This book started of strong and was very engaging. This may sound odd, but during the early chapters I found it hard to put the book down. I know first hand that too many carbs in my diet gives me a "sugar hangover". I have also suffered from extreme bloating and fatigue from eating more than my fair share of french bread. While I knew all of this was going on, I didn't make the connection to what it was potentially doing to my brain. Grain Brain spells it out for you in clear, understandable language.

Before reading this book, I read Fitness Confidential and had already sworn off sugar and grains. Grain Brain cemented my resolve. After a week without the sugar and grains, I noticed that my belly bloat was gone and that I was also able to focus better at the fog had lifted. I think my noticeable results along with all the fascinating facts I was reading in Grain Brain made the book that much more interesting.

However, the last 25% of the book started to drag on and covered things like meal plans and recipes. I skimmed through this section just to see what they were suggesting...nothing earth shattering in my opinion or much different than how I normally cook. Grilled fish with veggies for dinner? Stop the presses!

Official Summary

Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD.

Published Sept. 17, 2013

"The devastating truth about the effects of wheat, sugar, and carbs on the brain, with a 30-day plan to achieve optimum health.

Renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, blows the lid off a topic that's been buried in medical literature for far too long: carbs are destroying your brain. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthyones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more. Dr. Perlmutter explains what happens when the brain encounters common ingredients in your daily bread and fruit bowls, why your brain thrives on fat and cholesterol, and how you can spur the growth of new brain cells at any age. He offers an in-depth look at how we can take control of our "smart genes" through specific dietary choices and lifestyle habits, demonstrating how to remedy our most feared maladies without drugs. With a revolutionary 30-day plan, GRAIN BRAIN teaches us how we can reprogram our genetic destiny for the better."

Next Book

NOTE: My daughter suggested that I write a book about my triathlon experiences. Since there are already books about couch potato triathletes, old triathletes, working mother triathletes etc., I was going to write about the perimenopausal triathlete. UGH! Pamela Fagan Hutchins beat me to it! 

Hot Flashes And Half Ironmans (Women's Health and Triathlon) by Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Published April 29, 2012

Middle-aged Endurance Athletics Meets The Hormonally Challenged

Women get older, dammit, and sometimes it sucks, especially for women who pride themselves on athleticism and an adventurous spirit. Hot flashes. Weight gain. Sleepless nights. Yes, it can be hard, but middle age doesn’t have to be a flashing red stop light. It’s perfectly acceptable for women of a certain age, a certain level of hormonal imbalance, and a certain amount of cellulite to don spandex and even enter the rarefied sport of endurance triathlon.

In fact, there’s a huge advantage to aging: much of the potential competition drops out in favor of the couch and a remote control. And the endurance high? The elation of dietary purity and discovering you can have arms like Madonna? The Zen of goal attainment? Better than a good Shiraz buzz. Once you get past the ugly mood swings, chafing on your girly parts, and a “kill your own mother” craving for sleep and a hot Cinnabon, that is.

Pamela Fagan Hutchins has been there and done that, with lessons learned and sense of humor (usually) intact. She completed her first triathlon at 39 and her first Half Ironman at 40. She has her eye on an M-dot tattoo in 2014.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Experiment Update (Days 8 - 12) and Ego Boost

My last "experiment" update was on January 15th...a week ago. I guess I lost track of time because I was spending so much of it running, riding and an excruciatingly slow pace. Why the slow pace you ask? 

Well, I read this article by Mark Allen (of Ironman fame) about base training... here's the link so you can read it yourself...

According to the formula in this article, the upper end of my heart rate zone for developing my aerobic capacity and my ability to burn stored fat is 134...maybe 139 if I push it. It also suggested keeping it about about 80% of this! OMG! Do you know how slow I have to run to do this?

Friday - Day 8

I ran 10 miles trying to stay in the correct HR zone. My average heart rate was 143 and my average pace was  11:39 minutes per mile. Not only did I not stay in the correct zone, but my run took me nearly 2 hours...almost half an hour longer than the week before.

Food wise...everything is going good. Rings feel loose, mind is clear. Still eating more nuts than I probably should.

Saturday - Day 9

Started the day with a ride from Stockton to Tokay High School for swim practice. Nancy and Matt joined me and HS for this freezing cold trek. Average HR was 119, so that was good.

My toes were frozen by the time we got to Lodi and I was dreading getting into the water. I placed a kickboard on the edge of the pool and sat on it so I could dangle my feet in the water and not freeze my butt too. To my surprise, the water felt extremely warm...I could have sat there all day like that. Unfortunately, it was still chilly outside and I began shivering. At that point, F'n James yelled at me (yes, he yelled at me LOL) to get in the water. Ugh!

I hopped in expecting to freeze to death but instead, it felt like a warm bath almost as good as when I stuck my feet in! Why can't it feel like this all the time? Seriously, I miss summer sooooo much. I would rather run in 100+ temps than swim when it is cold outside.

Swim workout
James had a workout planned for us. I did the yardage, but switched the kicking set to strictly swimming (foot is still achy and prone to cramping during kicking sets). Unfortunately the workout ended and I had to get out of the pool and back on the bike. Luckily, things had warmed up a bit and we made the ride home without any frozen body parts.

Average heart rate on the ride home = 122

Pistachio crusted salmon with veggies for lunch
HS and I treated ourselves to a nice lunch... no counting calories, only made sure I didn't touch the pitas!

Sunday - Day 10

After church, HS and I were back in Lodi for the Speedstar ride. There was a big turn out (the best so far) considering the NFC playoff game was in a couple of hours. Paul was back, and Eric and Rosa joined us for the first time. James announced that he was tapering for the Olympic Club 1500 SCM meet and therefore would not be taking the lead. I wasn't taking the lead either, unless everyone wanted to go really, really slow.

Football game? What football game?

Another group photo (without me)

Sad selfie because I'm always the photog
Eric, Paul and Anthony took off as soon as we got out of town. I had to fight every fiber in my being that screamed "Go get them!!!"

Nope, not going to chase...gotta stay in my HR zone (which averaged 138 for this ride).

Speedstar by tpengilly at Garmin Connect - Details

Picked up some Wing Stop on the way to watch the Niner's lose...stuffed my face with chicken wings and later on a bun-less cheeseburger. While this decision was sugar and grain free, it left me feeling bloated the next two days.

Monday - Day 11 (MLK Holiday)

That triathlon isn't going to train for itself!

With this in mind, HS and I headed up to Folsom to get our youngest out on the bike (she's doing Barb's race with me).

I am utterly green with envy. In the pic below we are walking our bikes through their apartment complex, across a small stretch of lawn and then onto the bike path. It was that close! No loading the bikes in the car or navigating through less than bike friendly streets to get to our destination. Nope. It was right there! Right within walking distance!

It was probably less than 100 yards

Mother-daughter photo op
We ended up riding for 40 miles. Our pace was slow and that was just fine with me. We were out on the trail for nearly 3 hours and my average HR was 118.

American River Ride by tpengilly at Garmin Connect - Details

Tuesday - Day 12

Tuesdays are reserved for the Fleet Feet run. Normally this is a speed workout for me as I chase the younger runners through the route. Tonight was different because I was going to try and keep my HR low. This wasn't too difficult during the early part of the run, but as the group thinned out, I watched Nancy and HS leave me behind :-(

This sucks!

I wanted to chase them down so badly. Its one thing to run alone because you are out in front, it is a totally different feeling when it's because you are so far behind.

Eventually HS became worried since it was dark and waited for me. He had a hard time running as slow as I was going.  My average HR was 146 and my average pace was 10:52 minutes per mile...I guess this is a successful run, even if my HR was a little on the high side.

Fleet Feet Run by tpengilly at Garmin Connect - Details

Now for the Ego Boost

As we were waiting for the Fleet Feet run to start, a woman walked into the store and over to our group...

Woman: "Oh so this is where all the people I see running come from" (or something along those lines) 
Group: (Me, HS, Nancy and Tony Vice) Nod in agreement 
Woman (leaning towards me): "Do you mind telling me how old you are?" 
Me: "46" 
Woman: "Oh! Killer body. Wow." (or something along those line...ask my witnesses!)
I'm not making this up! I swear! Ask my witnesses!!!

Also, I would be a liar if I said that her comment wasn't a HUGE ego boost!  Thank you, thank you,  thank you Ms. Unknown Woman!!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Scale is Beckoning - Experiment Day 5 & 6

Now that I have announced that I am NOT going to weigh myself until Feb 14 all I can do is think about weighing myself. I did get my starting weight last Friday, but that's it…no weighing…no scale dictating my emotions…UGH! I just want a quick peek! My rings are getting loose!!!!

More than a handful?
Experiment Recap

  • No sugar
  • No grains
  • No scale
  • No counting calories

Day 5 (Tuesday)

Breakfast was beans & 2 fried eggs, I had a grapefruit for snack, Shakeology for lunch (sorry, but I didn't have anything prepared and it's low glycemic). My afternoon snack was 2 hard boiled eggs and I had a handful of filberts when I got home. Dinner was a turkey burger, salad with blue cheese dressing and some peas & carrots with grass fed butter.

My workout today was the usual Fleet Feet run. 5 miles. I really, really, really miss running when it's warm. Cold weather is not my thing. On top of that, my run seemed sooooo slow. I could really feel the all the time on the bike.

The only thing I can say about tonight's run is that I was consistent!

Fleet Feet Run by tpengilly at Garmin Connect - Details

Day 6 (Wednesday)

Ok, to be honest about my "handful" of nuts…they are pretty big handfuls and although I am not counting calories, I think I've been going a little overboard. Therefore, today, I dialed it back a notch and didn't go hog wild. I even skipped the cheese today. Here's the recap…

Breakfast was PLAIN Greek yogurt with frozen organic blue berries (I'm dying without my agave syrup). My morning snack was a grapefruit. Lunch was two small, overcooked (oops!) chicken breast fillets. HS texted me today to see why his chicken was so skinny LOL.  My afternoon snack was about 1-2 oz. of filbert nuts. As soon as I got home from work I started dinner so we didn't have to eat after swim practice.

Dinner was beef and broccoli (flank steak and fresh broccoli). Like I said, I'm not counting calories, so this isn't some low calorie dinner I made just for this experiment. This is a dinner I have cooked many, many times for me and HS. The only difference tonight is that I didn't serve it with rice.

Only swam 1,200 yards tonight, but that's OK. We got a chance to work on some really good drills that will hopefully payoff in the summer. My SWOLF score went down too! Lowest score to date…36!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Experiment - Days 3 and 4

Yesterday (Day 3) the weather got a bit blustery so James called off the Speedstar ride. This was fine with me because I was still chilled from Saturday's ride. So, instead of heading outdoors, I set up my road bike on the trainer and pedaled my way through the 49er vs. Carolina game.

Sore Muscles vs. No Fuel

HS and I were up early for church and had some greek yogurt with fresh berries. I figured that I would need the carbs from the berries for the Speedstar ride. After we got home and I found out the ride was called off, I really didn't think too much about what I should be eating. I simply grabbed a bottle of water and started riding.

The first 15 minutes on the bike were legs were super sore. After the first hour, I realized that my legs were more tired than I hopped of the bike and got some food. This is one of the benefits of riding on a can eat and ride and not worry about crashing! I finished off the rest of the berries and had a couple handfuls of macadamia nuts (remember, I'm not counting calories). This was enough to get me going again and I was able to get another hour + on the bike.

Dinner consisted of grilled salmon, mashed cauliflower, and salad…and some more nuts afterwards.

More Low-Carb Info

I am still reading Grain Brain. It's building an even bigger case against eating too many carbs. My concern remains that it will become exceedingly difficult to train without a sufficient amount of carbs.  If I stick with Vinnie Tortorich's plan of "no sugar and no grains" I can still get carbs from fruits, vegetables and legumes. The question remains, how many carbs do I need???  My experiment will hopefully help me figure this out.

I was discussing Grain Brain with a co-worker and he commented that he and his wife sort of do "paleo". I've heard about this diet, but figured it was just another trend. After a little research, I realized that Paleo is just another type of low-carb way of eating. Paleo, Atkin's, Grain Brain, and Fitness Confidential are more or less all preaching the same message… your body wasn't meant to run on processed foods, sugars and grains.

After getting a better understanding of Paleo, I Googled "paleo triathlon" and found a lot of information…too much for me to digest right now, but it could be beneficial to learn a little more. Here is a link to a pretty good article...

Beside getting more than my fill of low-carb data, I continued with Day 4 of my experiment…

  • No sugar or grains
  • Not worried about fat or calories
  • No scale (even though I'm very tempted)

Breakfast consisted of 3 links of chicken breakfast sausages and 2 fried eggs. Snack was a grapefruit. Lunch was 1/2 a piece of salmon and a bag of baby carrots. Afternoon snack was 2 hard boiled eggs, followed by some nuts and cheese after I got home from work. Dinner was a salad with left over steak and blue cheese dressing…followed by more nuts (OK, I am really getting into this not counting calories thing).

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Field Test - (Experiment - Day 2)

Started the day with a glass of FRS, a cup of bullet proof coffee, two eggs and two slices of pepper bacon. At 7:45am HS, Nancy and I headed to James' ranch to do a field test. Is it a good idea to ride 13 miles plus an additional 7 or so miles before doing a field test? I don't know…what I do know is that it is not a good idea if it is FREEZING outside. I'm not sure if it was actually freezing, but it was pretty darn cold…all I could think about was being done and getting home.

We got to the ranch a bit early, so I ate one of the mini Babybel cheeses I brought. Eventually, everyone was there and we headed out to James' test site (HS and I did this same course back in August).

Field Test

I was MISERABLE on the ride out to the test site… it was overcast and cold. I was shaking by the time we arrived at our destination.

January 2014 vs. August 2013

The best thing I can say about today's test is that I was consistent. Unfortunately, I was no where near as quick as I was in August 2013. I didn't even get my heart rate up. Maybe it was the cold :-/

At least James is enjoying himself!

After the test was over, we took a shorter route back to the ranch and then headed back to Stockton.

As we came down Thornton Rd and neared Estate Dr., I started to feel a little light headed. I had eaten another Babybel cheese after the test was over, but I was getting a little worried that maybe I didn't have enough gas left in my tank to make it home.

Test Strips

For shits & giggles, I broke out the keto-sticks I had left over from my Atkin's diet days. In case you don't know what they are, you pee on them and they will tell you if you are in ketosis. What is ketosis you ask? Here is a brief explanation I stole off the internet…
Ketosis is a condition in which levels of ketones (ketone bodies) in the blood are elevated. Ketones are formed when glycogen stores in the liver have run outThe ketones - acetoacetate and β-hydroxybutyrate - are used for energy. Ketones are small carbon fragments that are the fuel created by the breakdown of fat stores.
or how about this description…
A lot of people are confused by the term "ketosis." You may read that it is a "dangerous state" for the body, and it does sound abnormal to be "in ketosis." But ketosis merely means that our bodies are using fat for energy. Ketones (also called ketone bodies) are molecules generated during fat metabolism, whether from the fat in the guacamole you just ate or fat you were carrying around your middle. 
I had potatoes with dinner last night. If you've ever done Atkin's, you know it can take a couple of days after your last serving of carbs before the test strips will show you in ketosis. After riding appx. 50 miles today, I came home, did the test…strips showed a trace amount of ketones. Amazing! Did I burn through all of my glucose stores?

Of course, this could also be part of the reason my speeds were slower…not sure…the experiment continues...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Experiment - Day 1

Today is the first day of my weight loss / energy experiment. I am calling this an experiment (instead of a diet) in an attempt to keep myself engaged for the next 30+ days.

Experiment Recap:

What I am Going to Do
  • I am going to weigh myself on Jan 10 to get my starting weight. 
  • I am going to eliminate grains and sugars from my diet whenever possible.
  • I am going to exercise at least 3 times a weeks for a minimum of one hour.

What I am NOT Going to Do

  • I am NOT going to weigh myself again until Valentines Day.
  • I am not going to count calories.

Starting Weight

Got on the scale this morning…first time in over a month. I avoided the scale during the holidays due to the fact that I was eating cookies, candy, bread, crackers, chips, etc. like they weren't going to be available in 2014. I would also like to note that Aunt Flo is in town, so know that I am retaining some water weight.

…or makes you crazy!

Ok, now that I've made all of my excuses…here is my starting weight….

150 lbs.

OMG! Ok…Tracy…settle down…back away from the edge…

I guess the good news about starting heavier (up 3-5 lbs.) is that I will have more to lose. My ultimate goal is 135 lbs. I would be happy to get to about 142 lbs. by Feb. 14 - the end of this experiment. If the scales moves in the right direction during this experiment, without any detrimental affects to my training, I will continue on this path.

First Day Plans

Started the day with a cup of bulletproof coffee and half of a 5 egg omelet with canadian bacon, red onions and cheese…cooked in butter. 

I plan on going on a 10 mile run this morning and possibly doing P90X Yoga in the afternoon.

Not sure what lunch will be, but I think I'll grill some salmon for dinner and serve it with brussel sprouts.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

My Experiment (I'm not calling this a diet!)

After completing several triathlons, including a half-iron distance race, and a couple of marathons, I am comfortable in calling myself an "endurance" athlete. As such, I have always believed that I need carbs, lots of carbs (Can you say Skittles?), in order to fuel my training and to get me through races. Last year I covered over 2,700 miles and burned over 190,000 calories... but my weight remained relatively unchanged. In fact, there was a slight increase when I got on a peanut butter and honey kick.

I would say that my diet is relatively healthy...lots of lean meats, vegetables, fruits, whole grain bread, quinoa, wild rice, non-fat dairy...yadda yadda yadda. I aim for around 1,800-2,000 calories a day (I do allow myself "cheat" days/weekends). Based on my diet and the amount of training I do, you would think that I would be stick thin...but I'm not. In fact, I'm still carrying an extra 10 lbs that I just can't seem to shake.

Recently, I have been bombarded with data from Facebook posts, magazine articles, and books (Fitness Confidential and Grain Brain...just to name two) about the detrimental effects of sugar and grains. Google would be amazed at the info out there, especially about the "inflammation" caused by sugar/bad carbs. I don't think the explosion in obesity and diabetes in this country is unrelated!

Just one of many recent Facebook posts about sugar

Personal Experience

All of this info has really gotten me thinking. I've done the Atkin's diet before and it was great for weight loss. For me, it was probably one of the most effective diets I have ever done.  However, I wasn't training like I do now...honestly, I think I was only doing the elliptical a few times a week. What would happen if I take Vinnie Tortorich's advice from Fitness Confidential and "STAY AWAY FROM SUGAR AND GRAINS"? Can I lose weight and still train? Will I "bonk" on my long runs?

No So Fun Facts About Me
  • I get really bad sugar hangovers (puffy eyes, headache, brain fog)
  • I cannot eat one piece of bread. It is a really soft, fluffy, delicious, slippery slope ;-)
  • I can gain 5 lbs overnight after a pasta dinner
My Experiment

From "Grain Brain"
I am about to embark on an experiment to see if I can cut out the bad carbs (sugar and grains) and still train effectively. I have a very simple list of things I am going to do and not do. The main difference I see between this plan and Atkin's is that I will still be getting some carbs in the form of fruits and veggies.

What I am Going to Do
  • I am going to weigh myself tomorrow morning (January 10) to get my starting weight. 
  • I am going to eliminate grains and sugars from my diet whenever possible.
  • I am going to exercise at least 3 times a weeks for a minimum of one hour.

What I am NOT Going to Do
  • I am NOT going to weigh myself again until Valentines Day.
  • I am not going to count calories.

Why I am Going to Do This
  • Lose weight
  • Increase energy & performance
Obviously, it is going to be very easy to tell if I lost weight or not. The reason I am not going to weigh myself during this experiment is because I have learned that numbers on the scale (good or bad) can derail my plans.
  • Weight goes up: "Screw this! I've starved myself for the past week so I can gain 2 lbs??? I'm eating!!!"
  • Weight goes down: "Yay!! I deserve a treat!! I'm eating!"
Judging increased energy and performance may be a bit more subjective. I will be tracking my workouts on my Garmin and will look for decreases in running/biking speeds or distances.

If you would like to join me in this experiment, let me know. Here is a link to Vinnie Tortorich's FAQ page about removing sugar and grains...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fitness Confidential - Review

Since I spend a good deal of time and money reading triathlon and fitness related books, I figured I would review what I read and post it. Of course I needed to have some sort of rating system and this is what I came up with...

1.  PR - This book is worth your time and money. Entertaining, full of useful information, or both. Reading this book may inspire you to set a new PR.

2. Tired Legs - You know that feeling where you just sort of struggle to get through a workout...reading this book is sort of like that. You know you need to finish, so you press on, but you wouldn't say it was your best effort.

3. New Goggles - Save your money for a new pair of goggles and use the time you would have spent reading this book swimming.  Not worth your time or money.

My First Review - Fitness Confidential

Rating:  PR

What I Liked:

  • This book is FRESH and by that I mean it was published Dec. 2, 2013.
  • Entertaining true life stories about famous clients and stories about the author and his adventures in ultra racing...still trying to figure out who the actress was that needed to lose 35 lbs ;-)
  • The book was not muddled up the with boring workout routines or diet plans. Case in point. I LOVE Tony Horton, but his book Bring It wasted a lot of space (and my time) going over stuff I already got from P90X. Fitness Confidential provides a link to the author's YouTube channel so you can actually watch people doing the moves correctly.
  • I found the author's approach to nutrition and weight loss to be reasonable. He recommends that you give up sugar and grains in order to drop weight. I would have thought this was impossible to do and still maintain my triathlon training. However, the author's experience as an ultra athlete shows that it is possible.  
  • The book was an easy read, but still provided a lot of valuable information.


A little something extra… Fitness Confidential ended with a  recap of the author's successful finish of the Furnace Creek 508. I love a good race report and this one did not disappoint. If you want to know more about the 508, other than that it's a 508 mile bike race, check out the event website…

Next Book

Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD.

Published Sept. 17, 2013

"The devastating truth about the effects of wheat, sugar, and carbs on the brain, with a 30-day plan to achieve optimum health.

Renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, blows the lid off a topic that's been buried in medical literature for far too long: carbs are destroying your brain. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthyones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more. Dr. Perlmutter explains what happens when the brain encounters common ingredients in your daily bread and fruit bowls, why your brain thrives on fat and cholesterol, and how you can spur the growth of new brain cells at any age. He offers an in-depth look at how we can take control of our "smart genes" through specific dietary choices and lifestyle habits, demonstrating how to remedy our most feared maladies without drugs. With a revolutionary 30-day plan, GRAIN BRAIN teaches us how we can reprogram our genetic destiny for the better."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Have Faith

Today's message at church was titled "Leaving a Legacy of Faith". It was about passing on faith to our children and it discussed what we must model and teach about faith. Three things in this message really struck me (especially given my recent bout of negativity):

1) BELIEVING when I don't see it. Of course, this is about believing in God when we don't get to see him, but it made me think of my training. I've got to believe in my training even if I'm not seeing the results.

2) OBEYING when I don't understand it.

3) PERSISTING when I don't feel like it.

The third item really struck home as I have definitely NOT been feeling like it.

Good-Bye Funk

Today our group did another Speedstar ride. As we passed a cemetery, +James told +Hot Stuff to check out the names on the grave stones. Seriously? You want us to ride a bike and read graves at the same time??? I'm not that coordinated, so I took a quick peek and went back to focusing on going in a straight line. The first and only name I saw was "Funk".

That's it! Funk is dead and gone! Bye-bye funk.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

First Race of the Year - Good Thing it Was Free

I didn't do this race last year, but I did do the "paid" race two weeks later…same distance, same course…a lot less people…

Last year my time was 56:18. I did not expect to beat that time today. It's not that I think I'm slower than last year, or less fit, but I was being honest with myself about my current state of mind and how I was feeling and knew it wasn't in the cards for me today.

My time today (according to my Garmin…since this race is free, there is no "official" timing) was 1:01:37… a little more than five minutes slower. The funny thing is, I wasn't upset about this. I have alway been afraid of the day that I didn't beat a previous year's time, but I was ok with it.

Perhaps I didn't race as hard as I normally do. Maybe it was my lack of energy. I have no idea.

I do know that I was feeling my recent 90 minute spin classes on the bike…even the small hills were painful and brought me out of the saddle.

F'n James snapped this pic of my finish
Funny thing about the picture above. It was freezing this morning…36 degrees when we left the house…low 40's when the race started. As HS pointed out…it was no where near as cold as CIM. However, to me, after a certain point…cold is cold. I was bundled up with a long sleeve Nike sweater and gloves to start the race.

After the bike, I was feeling pretty toasty and decided to take the sweater off…easier said than done. I don't know how much time I spend in transition trying to get the sweater off while leaving my tank top in place, but it didn't work and eventually I pulled everything off. To my dismay, the tank top was twisted and turned inside out. I was this close to saying "screw it" and running in my bra. I slowed down and got the tank back over my head…at that point it could have been backwards or inside out…I didn't really care.

After all is said and done, I'm glad I did this race… and I think I'm looking forward to my next race…whatever that might be ;-)

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Perfect Fat Storm

Today I feel like I weigh 300 lbs. I feel bloated, sluggish and have no desire to ever race or work out again. I am praying that this is just a temporary feeling...

How I feel today

Stupid Aunt Flo

Part of my problem is Aunt Flo is late...or at least I think she is...I'm pretty sure she is. You think I would track this better (I've been dealing with it for over 30 years), but I don't. Usually I just track things by race dates. Last time it was clearly before CIM because I remember being relieved that I wasn't going to have to worry about issues during the race. With that time frame in mind, things should have happened by now...but they haven't.  (For all you comedians that want to suggest that there could be a bun in the oven, there isn't!) My guess is that it's a little thing called perimneopause. Not full blown menopause...just the start of the fun...

According to WebMD, during perimenopause Aunt Flo can be lighter, heavier, more frequent or less frequent. Great! I just absolutely LOVE inconsistency. The way my luck goes in terms of Aunt Flo and racing, she'll show up sometime tomorrow morning around 9:15am...right after the start of the duathlon. UGH!

Fresh Jeans

Know the best way to make yourself crazy when you are already feeling crappy? Pull a pair of jeans out the dryer and put them on. Ok, if I was feeling fat before, I'm really feeling like a hog now! Just a slight tightness in my jeans has me debating whether or not I want to call in sick to work.

Lack of Exercise

It's not as if I completely stopped working out, but in my mind, it's been an eternity since I've had a good workout. Seriously though, I did a 90 minute spin class on Saturday, followed by a 22 mile bike ride on Sunday. Monday was a 3.5 mile run followed by a P90X3 workout. I did not workout Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Of course, this has probably resulted in me packing on at least 20 pounds! I've got to do something today or I may go insane.

Change of Diet

As I have mentioned in other posts, I have started reading Fitness Confidential. The author recommends not eating sugar or grains. He also says you shouldn't shy away from eating fat (good fat). I've also come across several articles about this exact same topic in the last week. I know I need to stay away from sugar (bye-bye Skittles) and have been working on it. Even Costco is getting in on this action...check out page 52 in the current "Costco Connection" - Weight Loss Tips for Women Over 40.

So I've changed up my diet a bit and have been eating more cheese and nuts. Do you know what eating too much cheese and too many nuts does to your system? I mean, Aunt Flo usually slows things down a bit, but things have completely stopped! This is not helping my bloated feeling. Ugh. I think I'll make some green juice this weekend to add to my diet. I've got to find a better balance for my system.

Goals Needed

So here I am feeling fat, bloated, and slow. I don't want to work out and I don't want to race...

Today, after I droned on and on and on about my bad attitude and lack of motivation, a coworker asked if I had any races planned. I said that I had Barb's Race in July, but nothing in the near future (other than tomorrow's duathlon). He suggested that my blah feeling about working out may be due to a lack of goals (aka races)...that maybe if I had a race to train for that I would feel like working out again.

"I don't even feel like racing!" was my response.

He's probably right though...maybe having a race to train for will snap me out of this funk. I don't know, maybe tomorrow's race will help...or maybe being able to get back in the water on Monday will do it...fingers crossed that something does the trick...I am soooo tired of feeling like this.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 The Year in Review

2013 was a great year in terms of training and racing. I made some new friends, completed races that were inconceivable only a year ago, and had an awesome time in the process! I am looking forward to 2014 and all the fun that lies ahead…thousands of miles and thousands of smiles (ok, I know that sounds super corny, but it's true!)

Here is my year in review...

Top 3 Blog Posts

2013 was the year I became a "real" triathlete and started blogging. (My favorite sign at Barb's Race was "Have you read my blog?" LOL

Out of the top three posts listed below, I would say that my Barb's Race race report is my favorite. Reading that post takes me right back to the day of the race. However, my story of "fat to fit" was the clear leader...

  1. My Journey from Fat to Fit (Who doesn't love a good ol' fashioned "See how fat I was" story?)
  2. Lodi Masters Triathletes (All about the team)
  3. Barb's Race - Race Report (Biggest race of my life)
My Year in Stats

Yes, I may be 5150!
These stats are based on my Garmin data. I would say that in most instances I wore my Garmin…I probably captured 90% of my workouts. If there was ever a workout that got skipped, it would be swimming. Since we drive to Lodi to swim, we would usually be too far from the house to go back and get it if I forgot it…and by too far, I mean more than a block away from the house LOL (HS isn't big on going back for forgotten items). 

Also, I messed up the "multi-sport" mode at a few races that also didn't get recorded.

  • 88 activities
  • 63 miles
  • 96 hours
  • 18,543 calories 

  • 75 activities
  • 1,268 miles
  • 89 hours
  • 65,582 calories 

  • 142 activities
  • 933 miles 
  • 140 hours
  • 103,809 calories
Stockton to Honolulu is 2,459 miles. My goal for 2014 is to go this distance and then some ;-)

My Races

2013 wasn't all triathlons (although I did 7 of them), I also did 2 trail runs, 2 duathlons, and 6 running (road) races. Thank goodness for… it keeps all my race stats handy…

Looking back at my triathlons, I'm not sure I really want to do anything different in 2014…although I'm still on the fence about Ice Breaker (I really don't like being cold). I guess since 2013 was my first full year doing triathlons, I have a strong desire to go back to each race and see how much I have improved.

I've already signed up for Barb's Race and am looking forward to racing with my teammates as well as with my youngest daughter. It's going to be great seeing friendly faces out on the run. Better toughen up your palms ladies, there's going to be lots of high 5's!

Another race that I am definitely doing again is the California International Marathon…sign ups start in March! I also am thinking about the Pacific Grove triathlon in September.

Lessons Learned
This is what :19 seconds looks like

I know I've learned much more than this over the last year, but these are my favorites lessons...

  • Seconds matter!!! Missed 1st place in the Tri for Real #2 by :19 seconds. Missed qualifying for Boston by :04 seconds at CIM. That is going to be in the back of my mind at every race in 2014.
  • The bike won't roll all the way to the bottom of the hill. Hills scare me. In fact, I haven't successfully ridden to the top of the hill at the Angels Camp course. Three attempts, three walks to the top. I did make it to the top of Chalk Hill twice, but it was quite a challenge. My biggest fear is rolling back down the hill. Of course, HS has pointed out numerous times that I would crash way before the bike actually made it to the bottom of the hill. Thanks, Honey!
Angels Camp - This is NOT a "rolling" hill!!!
  • Don't make eye contact! If you don't want to attract attention (and a hard set) from Coach John, don't make eye contact and don't sit on the wall too long!
  • Goat heads are not your friend! One of my favorites rides is the "Pancake" ride out to Korth's Pirate Lair on the Delta Loop. However, at certain times of the year, goat head weeds rule the road and will make your ride miserable. On one particular ride, I got two flats and ruined a pair of cleats (from so much walking/running).

Goals for 2014

Simple, measurable goals…no doubt about success or failure:
  • Complete Barb's Race in less than 6 hours (missed it by 2 minutes in 2013)
  • Make it to the top of the hill at Angel's Camp riding my bike, not walking it.
  • Complete CIM and get my BQ time