Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wednesday weigh in: week 1

I'm tired, so I'll get right to the point. This week was a bit... inconsistent.

1. Diet: I started out the week at 145. Yesterday morning, I was at 143.2 so not bad, not bad. The only really big thing I had that wasn't part of my plan, until yesterday was Red Robin one night with my hubby.  Those fries though!!!  Yesterday and today, though, I've been travelling for work, either driving or working non-stop. When I'm driving I eat. I use crunchy foods to help me stay awake and alert on long drives. So yesterday,  today, and tomorrow I am "off plan". And then I'm getting right back to it.

2. Exercise: I've got to break this into 2 types, running and other exercise. I've ran at least 1 mile every day, but I didn't get as many other workouts in as I wanted.

  • Thursday: I did a short pover yoga podcast in the morning before work.  I also participated in a local 10k trail run. 
  • Friday: I did a P90X3 workout DVD (Warrior, a full body strength workout) before work, and ran 1 mile on the treadmill after work. I knocked that baby out in 8:45, and was pretty happy with myself. That's the fastest I've run a mile in a long time.
  • Saturday: my day did not go as planned. We spent most of the morning and early afternoon buying a wood stove. Then I had to go to work. By the time I got off work, it was about to rain, so I got in a quick 2 mile run before heading home.
  • Sunday: 10 miles on the coastal trail with my pup. That was awesome.
  • Monday: I slept in. No before work workout. Took a lunch break to run 4.2 trail miles, some much needed stress relief. 
  • Tuesday: I had an early court hearing, so once again, no morning workout. I had to leave the house as soon as my kiddo got on the bus. I was travelling all day, in an area with lots of wilderness but virtually no trails. I managed to find one tucked away behind a National Forest visitors center, and got 1.8 miles in.
  • Wednesday: I stayed at a B&B last night and didn't have an opportunity to workout, plus had to get an early start. Then worked until I got to my next hotel room at 8 pm, and managed to get one tired mile in before it got completely dark. Now I'm updating you guys, and hitting the sack. 
3. Supplements: I mostly got my Vitamin C and calcium in, because I keep themy on my desk in the form of gummies and chews. I only remembered the rest a couple times this week. 

4. Sleep: According to my Garmin, I only got less than 8 hours of sleep Sunday night and Monday night. I NEVER sleep well on Sundays. I need to work on that.

My goal for this week is to try to be a little more consistent.  The only thing I nailed every day is the running. But I've got a busy life, and I know better than to think I should be able to hit all these goals 100%. But I also know I can do a little bit better. 

On a scale of 1-10, this was at least a 9

My piece of Alaska has been pretty rainy recently. This has been one of those falls where you start thinking that it's going to rain until it snows. It does that some years. It rains and rains, then it freezes, and water keeps coming down out of the sky, first as freezing rain, then sleet, then finally snow. The bad part about that kind of fall is that the ground gets so saturated that we start getting big, huge puddles of rainwater everywhere, and things flood. And one day, the puddles and ponds of water freeze. Which means that some spring day, months later, they thaw. And things flood. Ugh.  It's been raining a lot this fall, almost every day recently. It's been driving me crazy.

On Sunday, I woke up, and it was SUNNY. The sky was blue, the birch trees outside my window were glowing in the sun, and I knew it was a perfect day for a longish run. I really wanted to run the Turnagain Arm trail before all the leaves fell, but I knew with all the rain it would be muddy. So I decided on my favorite paved trail around, the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. This trail runs around the west side of downtown Anchorage, along Cook Inlet, and the scenery is beautiful year round.

There's blue,blue sky and blue, blue water:

There's birch trees with leaves turning a golden yellow, bright in the sun:

There's bridges:

And airplanes, because the trail runs past the west end of the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport runways:

That's a lot of entertaining stuff to look at in one 10 mile run. So off Daisy and I went. We started at Westchester Lagoon (because there are port a potties) and my plan was to run to the 5 mile marker and back. The zero marker on this trail in both directions and the connecting Chester Creek trail is at Westchester Lagoon. So if I ran to the 5 mile marker and back, that would be 10 miles.

We made it to about mile 4.3, and saw this mama moose:

(The bit of asphalt you see inches from Mama is the trail I was on)

See how close to the trail she is? She was calm and eating when we arrived, so normally I might have gone past her, but it turned out her baby was on THE OTHER SIDE of the trail, and to get past her, I would have had to walk between her and her baby, with a very excited dog jumping around and barking. As I stood there considering, with a couple of cyclists who had come up within a few seconds of me, Mama Moose started looking at the dog and put her ears back, and was looking much less mellow. Then I remembered that I only planned to run to the 5 mile marker and turn around, so in another 15 minutes, I would be right back in the same spot again but this time with the moose between me and getting home. I decided to turn around early and head back, and then run past Westchester Lagoon another .7 miles or so, before turning around again and heading to the car, and getting my 10 miles in that way.

I just want to note here that I think when you are running, your heart is so busy circulating blood to your muscles and lungs that it forgets about your brain. This decision should not have been hard to make. But we stood there for probably 5 minutes looking at that moose before I figured out what to do. I mean, really.

Mama moose + baby moose + barking dog = DISASTER!!!!
(Danger, Will Robinson!) 

That's a no brainer. Anyway, we did turn around and follow plan B, and the rest of the run went smoothly. I had Tailwind in my hydration bladder, and drank about a liter, which is less than I should have had, but not disastrously so, given the length of the run. I also had a Honey Stinger Waffle at about mile 5. My times were not bad at all, either. When considering only moving time  (not counting stops to let Daisy poop, or pee, or drink, or sniff other dogs, or stops for me to take pictures or look at moose) my  fastest mile was 9:29 (!!!), and my slowest mile was 10:50. I wore my new-ish Hoka Conquests, without my orthotics. My feet didn't hurt, my leg didn't go numb, and I didn't get shin splints. I think my feet, ankles, and legs are finally maybe getting to the point where I don't need the orthotics anymore. That is something I am very glad for. I felt great throughout the run. I think Daisy enjoyed it too:

Daisy's post-run nap

I think this run was a total success!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wednesday weigh-in: Ready, Set...

So, a couple of posts ago, I talked about how my weight has creeped up in the last year or so, and how I think it has negatively affected my performance. I made a plan to work on getting leaner and stronger, and that begins today. My goal is to check in every Wednesday and see how it is going. My plan is going to have 4 components: diet, exercise, supplements and sleep.

1. Diet: Research consistently shows that (duh) diet is the #1 thing that affects weight, much more than exercise does. You simply can't outrun a poor diet, as my gradually increasing weight shows. So for the next little while, I'm really going to focus on the quality of my diet, and be very careful about what goes in my mouth.

About 3 years ago now, I lost about 45 pounds using Take Shape For Life. I was so impressed with the results and how easy it was once I got started, that I became a health coach for their program so that I could help other people lose weight. (Disclaimer here: I am still an independent health coach for Take Shape For Life.) Anyway, its worked for me in the past, I know the program, and I like the food, so that is going to be the basic plan I am following. The typical TSFL plan calls for a person to eat 5 of their meal replacements (using Medifast or the new, premium Optavia meal replacements), one optional snack, and one "Lean and Green" meal that you prepare yourself every day. There are over 90 different meal replacements, including your typical shakes and bars, soups, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, crunchy things like pretzel sticks, and several different baked things, like a brownie, chocolate chip cookie, blueberry muffin, or a cheddar cheese and rosemary biscuit (that one is one of the new premium Optavia meals, and it is to die for).  Besides the fact that the food actually tastes good to me, I like it because all of the meals are quick and easy to prepare, which is super important for me because with my hectic job, I am always on the go. I can stash a bar in my purse, and completely avoid the drive-throughs (totally my downfall) when I don't have time for a real meal. OK, unintentional infomercial over.

The typical 5&1 plan is intended for people that don’t really get a lot of exercise. It can support about 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity exercise, but if you are regularly doing more than that you are likely to find things going badly, because you are simply not taking in enough calories to support the increased effort. Because of this, I am going to be eating more than what the plan calls for. Depending on the day, I will simply be adding extra protein, eating an extra meal replacement or two, or adding an extra Lean and Green meal. On days where I am doing long runs, anything over an hour, I will be supplementing with running fuel in the form of Tailwind and/or chews, Honey Stinger waffles, etc, during my run. I also plan on drinking a high protein shake right after those runs when I can. This is a low carb / low fat / high protein meal plan. While I am on this plan, there will be no sugar, no bread, no potatoes, no pasta, no rice, yada, yada. This is a pretty restrictive plan, but I know I can follow it, because I've done it before, for a much longer period of time. I don't do as well with less restrictive plans, because I'm not all that great at moderation. If I'm going to do something, I'm all in. If I'm going to run a race, it might as well be a marathon or a 50 miler. If I'm going to eat pizza, I'm having 2 or 3 slices. I'm not good at "a little bit". I'm an all or nothing kind of girl.

2. Exercise: Right now, I run. Every once in a blue moon I will pull out my yoga mat and do yoga, but mostly, I run. I need to do more stuff.

I am still running at least one mile every day. Once a week I try to get a long run in, and I try to do 3 to 6 miles or so a few times a week. Now, I need to add strength training and flexibility. For flexibility, I love yoga, and so I plan to add yoga 3 times a week. I will be doing strength training 2 to 3 times per week. I have a little bit of time, about 45 minutes total, that I can use for working out after my 13 year old gets on the bus, before I go to work. I plan to use that time every day before work, except on days where I have to go in early. Sometimes I will have court early in the morning, or like tomorrow, I have to be there a few minutes early for a meeting that starts right at 9 am.

3. Supplements: With Take Shape For Life, each meal replacement is fortified with vitamins and minerals, so that if I am eating 5 meals a day, I don't need to take a multivitamin. But I do take specific supplements. I have low bone density, so I take calcium and garlic (which contains manganese). I take Vitamin D because pretty much everyone in Alaska has a Vitamin D deficiency, a Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C, magnesium, glucosamine for my joints, and fish oil for my connective tissue. I don't remember to take them terribly regularly, and I want to get better at that. Most people's diets, including mine, don't include enough of these things, especially for athletes that are placing high stresses on their bodies, and I think that if you give your body the things it needs to maintain itself, you are less injury prone.

4. Sleep. I am a night owl. I tend to stay up late, but then I am always super tired in the morning, because I have no choice but to get up early. I know good, sufficient sleep is critical both for recovery, and for weight loss. When I am too tired, my body (or maybe my brain, lol) really craves carbs as a source of quick energy, when what I really need is sleep. My goal is to get 8 hours of sleep each night, which means I need to be lights out by 11 pm.

SO... with all of that said, how am I doing today? Well, I went back to bed today after putting my son on the bus, instead of working out. But yesterday I did yoga, and the day before that I did a 30 minute strength training routine (Insanity Max:30 Tabata Power).  Tonight I ran 2 miles on the treadmill at the gym, in 19:23.

Because I overslept, I didn't weigh myself this morning, but based on my weights the last few mornings, I would guess I am right around 145, so I am going to use that. We will see how this week goes. I plan on posting an update every Wednesday, and I will call it the Wednesday Weigh-in. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Gold Mint trail

On Saturday, I needed a place to do a midlength run, and I wanted to take Daisy with me, since she hasn't had a chance to run with me very much. The sun was shining and it was pretty warm out (about 63 degrees), so I decided that we needed to do some trail running. Hatcher Pass is always beautiful, but winter comes early up there. I figured there would not be too many more opportunities to run up there before the snow fell, so that's where we went. 

I decided to do the Gold Mint trail for several reasons. Its beautiful and the first several miles are very runnable, with lots of water for the dog. Also, it isn't very far up into the mountains, so I figured it would still be pretty warm. I was right about that, it was 61 degrees at the trailhead, only a couple degrees cooler than the valley below us. Perfect running weather.

Lots of other people clearly had the same idea I did, as the parking lot at the trailhead was packed and we saw lots of people (and lots of other dogs) on the trail. Daisy had to stop and socialize with every dog we saw, and play in every puddle and stream and beaver pond, so we stopped a lot. 

My original plan was to run to the 4 mile marker and back. We were doing pretty good, but just before the 3 mile marker I stopped and bent over a little to untangle Daisy's leash, which had become wrapped around her leg. (Warning: TMI) Anyway, as I bent over, my mouth suddenly was filled with stomach acid, and I felt like I was going to vomit. Ewww. I hate throwing up worse than almost anything, and I will do just about anything to avoid it. Anyway, I didn't know why I suddenly felt like that, since my bending over wasn't really that dramatic, I started to worry that maybe I was getting sick, and there is no cell phone service out there, and you know, I started being a worrywart. I decided to turn around at the 3 mile marker instead, just in case. 

We made it back to the trailhead without incident, or further stomach issues, though. 

I love this trail.  Like I said earlier, the first 4 miles or so are very runnable. The first mile is wide and gravelled, and then it narrows gradually to single track. 

The scenery is always beautiful, regardless of the season, with lots of mountains, and the trail pretty much follows the river.

There are a few bridges, and some boardwalk:

This run was a lot of fun for both of us, and only a half hour drive from my house. Daisy was a dirty, tired pup at the end of it. Proof positive that it was a good run.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Not quite where I wanted to be... but I have a plan

This summer, I ran several races, and had expectations of my performance for each one. All summer long, I ran, and for each race, my evaluation of my performance was "did not meet expectations". I thought I had set reasonable goals, but was not able to meet any of them except the Trent/Waldrun half marathon in May. On that race, I wanted to be faster than 2:20, and my time was 2:18:18. That was awesome.

In June, I ran the Anchorage Mayor's Marathon, and wanted to be faster than 5:00. My time was 5:26:43. That was a miserable race for me.

In July, I ran the Angel Creek 50, and DNF'd at mile 30.

In August, I ran the Anchorage Runfest 49k, and wanted to beat 6:00. My time was 6:24:01.

In September, I ran A Day at the Beach, a 12 hour race, and I really wanted to get 50 miles, but I knew that everything would have to go perfectly for that to happen. My B goal was to do at least 10 laps, or 43 miles. I ran 41.7.

I didn't have a terrible summer. I did work A LOT, which not only made me fall really behind on blogging, but was part of the performance problem, I think. Other than that, though, it was actually a really good summer and I had a lot of fun. My mom came to visit:

And so did my 21 year old son:

I did a lot of running (I only missed 4 days),  and some backpacking:

I had a lot of fun this summer. And even during my races, I was having fun. Well, with the notable exception of the Mayor's Marathon in June. (You can read about that here).  I think there were a few things going on this summer though, that negatively affected my performance.

Maybe one of the biggest factors was work. I worked A LOT of overtime this summer. There were so many day where my training plan called for, say, an 8 mile run, and I was lucky to get 1 or 2 miles after a late day at work. My job is also super high stress, because the decisions I make have huge impacts on peoples' lives, It is really difficult for me, sometimes impossible, to not work the long hours. And both my family and my running suffer when I do.

Another factor was my diet. As many of you know, I lost a significant amount of weight a few years ago, and I've mostly kept it off, by becoming active, and mostly staying away from fast food and junk food. In the last year or so, though, I've let that slip a lot, and I've put on 10 to 15 pounds. Hauling the extra weight around has to affect my speed.

The other factor, that really is probably a big one, and that I let myself forget when I get frustrated with my performance is that I am really new to running. I ran some the summer of 2014, but 2015 is when I really started getting serious about it. I ran my first marathon just a year ago. And 3 of the races where I didn't do as well as I wanted this summer were firsts in terms of distance for me.

When I ran the Angel Creek 50, I'd never run further than 28 miles. That day, I ran 30 or 31 miles, and DNF'd because I got lost in the fog, and then slowed down so much I could not meet the cutoff.

When I ran the Runfest 49k, that was the first ultramarathon I had ever completed, and the furthest I'd ever run on pavement. I also ran the last 10 miles of that race with excruciating foot pain, and still was less than a minute per mile off my goal time.

When I ran the 12 hour race, that was the first time I had run further than 31 miles, and the first time I had ever run a race for time, and the setup was completely different than I had experienced before. Like really, I should be freaking proud of myself for running over 40 miles. Not beating myself up because I missed 43 miles by less than a mile and a half.

SO, I have a plan. It's sort of got 3 parts.

1. Manage my nutrition and training better. Get more strength workouts in, make time for longer runs, get enough sleep, and get back in control of my diet. That's the physical aspect, and one I can take total control of.

2. Manage my time better. Work smarter, not harder. Find ways to get things done faster, so I have to work less overtime. And sometimes, even if I don't get everything done, leave work anyway. It will still be there tomorrow, most of the time. I've been doing this long enough to know when it is really important enough to stay late for.  This not only gives me more time for my fitness, and for my family, but it will also reduce my stress.

3. Give myself a break. At mile 37 of the race this weekend, I was feeling all disappointed in myself, because I knew I wouldn't have time for another lap. I decided I wasn't going to run any more races until I got stronger and faster. But you know what? Instead of feeling disappointed, I should have been so amazed at myself. I was running MILE 37 of a race, and I was STILL RUNNING. I was still smiling, and I was still enjoying the run. At that point I had run 7 miles more than I'd ever run before, and way farther than most people ever will or could run. Why I let that negative self talk in, I don't know. I have to learn to be kind to myself.

And really, when all is said and done, I had a great summer. I spent time with family, I spent time outdoors in this beautiful Alaskan summer, and I did a whole lot of running. I just haven't had time to blog about it all yet, but I will. I'm grateful for all that I was able to do this summer, and I'm already planning next summer's adventures...

Oh, and there's a trail marathon coming up...