Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hats off to those who are hardcore enough to train on a treadmill

I spent the weekend in Minnesota with family.

I did my long(ish) run on a treadmill. I was supposed to run 14 miles. I don't think I did that much although I can't be sure. I did complete 2 whole hours on the treadmill and really ... that was enough. Enough for perhaps forever.

An entire suitcase of coats. Packed and ready to go. Also hats and gloves.
Seriously ... my hat's off to people who train for marathons on treadmills. It's mentally really challenging for me.
Preparing to face the cold in my new winter coat.

The forecast was so cold that I didn't even pack for running outside. I did have a brief moment when I was walking from the car to the hotel where I thought I should have but then the wind blew and I was freezing and I knew I could never do it.

This was the temp outside when I started. Brrrrrrrrr.

This is the torture chamber.
 The weather inside the workout room was actually steamy. In fact after 3 miles I stopped. I thought I paused but in fact I had to start the machine fresh so let's say stopped. I inspected the thermostat and it was set at 74 which with heat is hot. Why is that 74 in air conditioning freezing... but with heat roasting hot. I adjusted the thermostat figured out how to turn on the tv and started again.

It was so steamy and I was alone that I did something I never do. I decided to run without my shirt. I shut the blinds so as to not create an awkward moment between myself and a hapless traveler walking to their car outside. Then of course 2 minutes later a guy came to workout in the hotel. Oh embarrassing but I just kept going complete with belly jiggle. Tee hee. Sorry anonymous guy in the gym for having to put up with my belly jiggle.

I stopped a few more times during what totalled up to be 2 hours. Once because the treadmill stopped (they only go an hour) once because my kids came in to "help." and once because I was unable to figure out what I had done on my phone and the music had stopped. It all became very confusing. But I'm pretty sure I made it 2 hours. I can't rely on either the watch or the treadmill to account for that though because of the watches inability to travel and then the fact that I kept stopping the treadmill.

This was the reward. We'll take one giant donut please. Oh and a bunch of other sweets too. This is at Mello-Glaze in Minneapolis which is clearly the best bakery ever. Thanks to Devon Palmer for showing us the light.
My watch doesn't travel well. It took 20 minutes to power up in Minnesota. 20 minutes to power up back in Miami and then it said it would take 1 hour to transfer data. Of course at the end of that hour ... transfer failed. Oh me oh my I wonder why I use this thing sometimes.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

If it looks like a treat and it tastes like a treat then clearly it's a healthy recovery drink? ...wait what?

The alternate title to this post could be - why I will never be sponsored by Chocolate Milk. That's a shame because I know a few people on the team and they are great. Plus I would love to have somebody else pay a registration fee or two.

I'm a skeptic
If something seems to good to be true it probably is. It's my nature to challenge things that don't sound like they can/should be true. I then went on to study journalism which while it's hard to imagine by today's press I was taught to basically question everything.

I don't believe chocolate milk is a health food.
Gasp! What is this blasphemy!

If you watch any sports show including the recent broadcast of the Ironman World Championships you'll hear that chocolate milk is scientifically proven to be the best recovery drink out there. But I for one am not a believer.

Now, I'm not a doctor, not even a Phd, I'm not a trainer, I'm not a nutritionist I'm not an elite athlete. But in my house chocolate milk is a treat. It's a dessert.
I have this on my mind because in the last month I've had this discussion with a personal trainer, a coach and even a friend who is a Phd candidate in exercise physiology and all of them started by saying they thought it was a good recovery drink. This in my opinion is some serious brainwashing.

I don't often do research for a blog post but when I do my kids think it's delicious.
To make my point I bought some things that are nutritionally similar to chocolate milk. Take a look:

170 calories, 11 sugars, 2 protein, Milano cookies not known as health food.

160 calories, 60 from fat, 14 sugars, 1 protein Oreo cookies ... not known as health food.

170 calories, 45 from fat, 23 grams of sugar, 8 grams of protein ... chocolate milk a healthy food?
This is my favorite. Chocolate ice cream which is of course very similar to chocolate milk but find me anyone saying a chocolate milk shake is healthy. 140 calories, 16 sugars, 7 grams of fat and 3 grams of protein.

But there's science!
I used to work in a software company and we sponsored various speakers. One of the speakers had a saying which was,  "if you beat up numbers long enough you can get them to show anything. " His point was related to stock investing that you should look closely before letting somebody handle your hard-earned money (good advice) but it works well here too. Just because somebody says there is science doesn't mean that there's good science behind it. In fact because I'm a sceptic the more people quote science the more I doubt them. But that's because I'm a debbie doubter.

The main study behind chocolate milk being good for recovery was performed on 9 cyclists and showed that Gatorade was more effective as chocolate milk in recovery. Gatorade has no protein so I'm not sure where the legend of the marvelous 4:1 ratio came from but I think that's snake oil too.

Now as a person who once took a statistics class I would personally toss this whole thing out because there were only 9 participants. But I'm not a statistician either so read it yourself and do what you want with it.

For fun you can google chocolate milk myth - you'll find many articles better written than mine. 

But you need a recovery drink? Right?
For me I usually fuel with real food. I'm very lucky that I can usually come home and eat a meal and so that's what I do.

Today I'm actually trying a recovery drink (because I had one at home to try). Also my kitchen is kind of empty. I'll let you know what I think some other time. I will say this it is sadly not quite as delicious as chocolate milk or chocolate ice cream.
It is plenty sweet but not as yummy as chocolate milk.

Infint - 300 calories, 0 fat, 22 sugars, 15grams of protein. mixed with about 20 ounces of water.

So in the end... do what you want. But if you try and tell me that chocolate milk is health food I may cackle wildly and suggest we go to Dairy Queen for a blizzard instead.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Harriet Anderson - that's who motivates me this Monday

Like many people I watched the NBC coverage of the Ironman World Championships in Kona this Saturday.

After a busy day I made it home just in time for it to start and I watched it with my daughter. My son who was walking with his cub scouts joined us about 1/2 way through.

The most motivational part for me was hearing the story of Harriet Anderson.

I guess she's a bit of an iconic fixture on the west coast for endurance events since I found an article on Athleta dating from 2009 about her. I think she was 78 this year when she finished.

My daughter is 10. She said during the coverage, "that's older than grandma." It is but just.

Her Grandma - my mother-in-law is active for her age. But a vigorous outing is shopping at the mall. She's currently cruising in Europe which is great. She would be wowed to hear about what Harriet Anderson did this October. I know I was. I won't have to tell her because I'm sure my daughter will.

She finished just before all the cutoffs and this is apparently her 22nd or 23rd trip to Kona. It's wildly impressive. But for me the most impressive thing was that she fell on the bike and kept going to finish. As I said before she's 78.

Why is the fall so impressive? Because, I think most 78-year old women are worrying about tripping in there homes and being too frail to get up with a broken hip if they trip on an uneven surface and Harriet fell on the bike and kept on going. Her bones are still apparently plenty strong to keep going. She is doing something right!

I definitely want to be like Harriet when I'm 78.
The quote is from Fireman Rob (who also inspires me) and this is my kids finishing my first half-iron with me. Immediately after finishing my son stole my water because he was so thirsty (from spectating and running .1 mile [smirk]) I do hope hope are inspired to do attempt hard things throughout their life. In other news my daughter now refuses to wear this shirt which cracks me up.

I know endurance sports are not for everyone but I love them and I hope to be out there chugging along at that age I really do.

And with that I'm off to do my 8-mile recovery run. In other news ... you might be training for a marathon if you say ridiculous things like 8-mile recovery run.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Me and Joe ... Trader Joe's that is

I may have a grocery disability. I am seriously stumped when it comes to shopping in unfamiliar stores.
Trader Joe's Welcome to the psuedo - tropics.

I also have buffet anxiety which is why I never go to buffets and quite possibly why I haven't ever been on a cruise ship. But I digress.

The new Trader Joe's opened in Miami. It is 1 mile from my house. 1 mile. Sooooo close I could bike there except they haven't put up a bike parking spot ... I'm hoping there's a yet in there but I actually have no idea.
Not good - lentils are good for soup and burgers not so much chips

When they opened it was a zoo. Parking was a nightmare ... towed cars, news stories you name it. So I waited a while till the hubbaloo died down. But when my tri-friend Nick came all the way from a different county recently to go there I figured it was probably safe for me to make my 1 mile journey. :-)

I knew it would take me a loop to get my feel for the place. So I did an exploratory loop and discovered that ... it's not that big.

I was mainly there to get something for us for dinner. That was the plan.

On the second loop I found the main departments and sampled some Turkey Pot Pie. It was yummy. Then on the third loop my brain finally kicked in and I was able to make some choices.
after I found this on my 3rd loop I was a little happier

The people who work there are nice. The wine section is enormous the beer section tiny. But I think it will all be okay :-)

Apparently I have to go back and get cookie butter. Wish me luck.

And in the category of 1st world problems. This is how my cleaning lady puts my kitchen floormat back after cleaning. I tell her every week,  "please put it in front of the sink," and every week she shoves it over in the corner. Drives me batty. Then again she does clean it and therefore I'm being a whiny baby.
seriously doesn't this look "off"  grrrr....

Monday, November 11, 2013

Looking for a smaller 5k and 10k in Miami ... where did they all go?

I'm in my second week of marathon training.

My marathon training program has all this "lingo" and stuff like HR1 -which means Heart Rate zone 1. And then it has speedwork which is in terms of 5kpace and 10k pace and Tempo runs which refer to Marathon Pace and Half Marathon pace.

So, here's the conundrum. I know my HR zones. I know my recent marathon pace and half-marathon pace. But the last time I did a stand alone 5k or 10k was a very long time ago.

A few weeks ago I started thinking that I wanted to run a 5k and 10k just to get an idea of my time for acurate pacing. And I think it would be fun. I wanted to run the Waterford 5k but my son had a soccer game at the same time. It happens. It looks like that was a fun event. Footworks puts on a good race :-)

Where are all the races?
Since I couldn't do Waterford I looked for others. But you know what ... there really aren't many or any that I can find. It could be that my searching skills are craptastic. I checked which used to have a massive list of nearby races but now seems to just have their own races. I also checked which had the next race as the Miami marathon. I have since learned that the Key Biscayne Lighthouse race was Sunday ... not sure why I didn't find that on my radar. This is why I think it might be where I'm looking. I did find that Irun has a 5k and 10 k the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. I'll probably do that since it's next.

Also I should add I don't really want a color race, a glow race or a mud race. Just a road race, thanks.

Are there any small races anymore?
And here's my next issue. Ideally I'd like to find two not-massive races.   I know camraderie, fellowship among racers are big these days and that's good because all of the races I found are giant. The Turkey Trot for example which I am signed up for thank you very much is 5,000 racers. It's not always fun to race with 5,000 of your closest friends. Also it's something we'll do as a family running together so it won't really be my race and so it doesn't achieve my goal of figuring out my pace.

Why would I want a small race? Well because it's easier to find your own space to run for one. And two it's more about head-head competition. There is an anonymity about racing with 5, 10 or 15 thousand runners. You're really running by yourself. But with a few hundred racers you quickly know who your competition is and you can race - head to head the them. Actually now that I write it down it's really all about having space to run. I don't love weaving around other folks the whole time. I'm not going to win or anything but I like to not feel like I'm going to trip if I go faster than a slow walk. I would like to race with say 200-500 of my running friends. When I started racing in Florida there were 5ks all the time all over. A few big races and lots of little races. Now I can't seem to find any small races.

Why a race?
Well of course, I can just go run my own 5k. But that's not really the same is it? When you run competing with somebody you push yourself a little harder. That's part of what makes it fun. 

So help me out here. Where are there more small races friends? Where are the runs listed these days for South Florida? Have the small runs gone underground or have I just lost my searching mojo?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

10 isn't a magic number

Today I ran 6 miles. It was great.

I've been running more this week than in the recent past. All my runs this week were zone 1 which is very slow but today I just ran. Not breaking any speed barriers mind you but also no annoying beeping when my heart rate went up.

I used to try to keep my long runs above 10 miles. I did this because it was sort of a training threshold. If I can run 10 miles then I'm still in good shape kind of thought. So I would always try for 10 even if it hurt unless I really hadn't been running at all.

One of my training buddies ran 10 today - he said the last 2 were tough. I ran 6 and felt good the whole way. I wasn't feeling guilty or anything about needing more miles. I could have run 10 - that's true. I guess I know now that I can probably almost always go out and do 10 slow miles. But the magic is gone. Today I did 6. No pressure for more - which was very nice.

Next week will be more after all there's a marathon coming up. So I'm just going to enjoy my six and move on.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Apparently I require making payment to be tortured ... I mean strength training

This post is hugely overdue. I keep meaning to take photos to go with this post but even with all my photographic training (and I do have a lot) I cannot apparently remember to take photos at 6 am when being put through my strength training paces.

The Tri-gospel according to Amy:

Actually according to urban legend it is gospel according to decathlete Bruce Jenner (Back before he married a Kardashian and therefore was worth listening to). Swim with swimmers, run with runners, Cycle with cyclists, strength train with strong people ... maybe.

From ESPN here is the quote attributed to Bruce Jenner.

The secret to Jenner’s success was his preparation. In the 1970s, most decathletes trained with other decathletes. Bruce Jenner, however, trained with some of the world’s best athletes in each of the 10 decathlon events. "If you train with a decathlon man," Jenner told Dave Anderson of The New York Times in 1976, "you can’t visualize that you can do much better. But if you throw the discus with Mac Wilkins or throw the shot with Al Feuerbach, then they’re 20 feet ahead of me. You learn much more that way."

Fitness Together
I met with a trainer from Fitness Together last several Friday's ago. I was referred by my friend Cristina, better known as TriathlonMami. She loves them. They love her.

I met with the owner. He's nice and smart and approximately the size of a semi-truck (which is a good thing when shopping for a strength trainer, in my opinion). Then is a team of trainers you actually work with I met with Brian. He's from Ohio - we talked about roller coasters. They are good guys. But neither one of them are triathletes. It was a good workout. I was sore for maybe 2 days.

So did I sign up. Not immediately. Here were my concerns.

First this program is very expensive even with the TriathlonMami discount. 

The pro of personal training is: you have an appointment and you show up and they put you through the paces and if you do what they say you get stronger.

The con of personal training is: it's not priced to do forever. It's very expensive and when you have a one year plan. It just doesn't make sense. Unless you are very wealthy (which I am not).

So for one week I said, I'll do it myself. And you know what ... I didn't. It's just too easy to put it off.

The inner conflict
But I will say this Personal Training works. I used a personal trainer like this after I had each of my kids.  But that was a temporary thing 3 months once or twice a week with the goal of get skinnier. My plan now is two strength workouts a week for a year to get faster at Ironman Chattanooga (and anything in between).

Then I got an email saying I found you a partner so it will be half-price. And I grabbed it. I had my first session a few Monday's ago at 6 am. The trainer is a woman named Gabby. I now have 3 Gabe's in my life. Geez that's a lot.

Now I've been going twice a week since I started. I can't tell if I'm any stronger than when I started. I have learned that I don't know how to jump rope. I am not good at slamming the huge weighted ball (apparently I need more anger). I'm not terribly coordinated when it comes to exercises that are across my body (think left knee to right elbow), oh and today I almost dropped a bar which was quite exciting for everyone around.

But I've been going - I have the appointment and I've been going so I hope that's good.  My only open question is when you choose your plan for strength training is it important that your trainer understand endurance sports? I have a big maybe for this. In endurance sports we not only need strong muscles but we do a lot of thinking about what's called the power to weight ratio which means mainly that you want to be strong but light and lean all at the same time. Also since what I do is a series of super repetitive actions my strength routine should definitely be designed to strenghten the muscles I use and the supporting muscle groups to reduce the chance of injury. I'm not totally sure that this is the way my strength routine is being designed at the moment.

But I'm not very strong at all now so one month of general strength training is not going to hurt me at all. We'll see where I go from there.

Monday, November 4, 2013

And so begins marathon training

October was a full month of kleenex, cake, candy and wine
I feel like October (through this past weekend) was a non-stop birthday party and endless series of drinking events (with a side order of drippy noses and a cough). But that's over and now it's time to train for a marathon in March.

This is my son and his friend on Halloween at school but it's also kind of how I think we all feel after such a busy month!

Thank goodness
I  had a great month and I'm thankful for my great family and great friends but I am ready to get back to going to bed at 8 (and not because I'm sick) and just having an uneventful month.

I have not been in a pool in 3 weeks because of the cold. But this past weekend the kids had a swim meet. My daughter swam 50 Fly which we both agree I wouldn't even begin to complete and she also swam 100 free in 1:40 which isn't even close to winning the race but is just about as fast as I can go. That's nuts. I'm very proud of her. 
We write her events on her arm. 

Perfection at a swim meet
Each of my kids made every event and was not disqualified for any illegal turns. Neither of my kids cried. Okay well Dyl started with a few tears from being nervous before the 200 free but that's it. This for me is perfection as a swim mom. Well hopefully next time - no tears at all.

No more Tears
My kids and I are both exhausted. Last night after 2 days of swimming and a party we had to do my daughters science experiment. She was so exhausted she cried. Full crying. When she spilled some water. I think that we as a family have discovered our limit. Early bedtimes for all of us all week.