Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Randomness

1. My son-in-law got a job! OK, so it's just a temporary job with the U.S. Census Bureau, not what a recent graduate with Masters Degree in Civil Engineering would normally want, but times are tough. We're proud of you, Kevin. You never know whose door you might knock on and where it may lead.

2. After years of trying, our neighborhood finally has a Neighborhood Crime Watch program. Of course, I volunteered to be one of the Crime Watch Block Captains. Today I came home from a run around noon and saw a suspicious looking car idling in front of my neighbor's house. Late model sedan, dark blue, Buick Marquis, very dark tinted windows, can't see anyone inside. I decided to extend my cool-down so I could walk past it and note the license plate on the back. Then the driver's side car door opened. Crap! I reached for my pepper spray and prepared for the worst. Oh hi, Deputy P. It was our off-duty sheriff's deputy in an unmarked car.

3. Eeks, can I say I'm LOVING logging my food?! Yeah, I know I'm weird. But I've had some concerns the past couple weeks in training. Am I fueling myself enough for my workouts? Is hunger a good indicator of when I should eat? What the heck am I eating??? With Livestrong's Daily Plate (thanks Jeanne for mentioning it to me), I now know the answers: sometimes, not really, and mostly good but some bad stuff too. It's not rocket science but I think knowing more about my nutrition will help me go further and faster.

4. Cliff Bar rocks! Remember that peanut butter recall a few months back? Well, that caused us to have to throw away a couple boxes of bars we'd bought. But not before I filed for a refund on their website. In the mail recently we got coupons for new bars. But get this, each box contained 6 bars and they gave us 12 coupons per box claimed. Thank you, Cliff Bar. We will most certainly continue to buy your products.

5. Silly sign!! (clickable)

Have a great weekend, everyone, and good luck to all who are racing!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Change is Good

Thanks for the comments on my last post. Funny that DC Rainmaker, a young skinny guy, seemed to be the most calorie conscious of everyone. Then again, he's also lightening fast and vying for a Kona slot!

But hubby Dave has been diligently logging his food intake recently too. Though he's not counting calories per se, he's become much more aware of WHAT he's eating and WHEN, which could do me a lot of good as well, especially in making sure I'm getting enough protein, which is always a concern for me (thanks Irish Blue and Sunshine for reminding me!). A visit to my doc to get some blood work done to make sure I'm not anemic (again) couldn't hurt either. Let's see, what was his or her name again?

Workout-wise, last week was week 2 of base building:

Mon - REST
Tue - 32 mi bike with speed work
Wed - 3150 yd swim, 4.5 mi track workout, strength workout*
Thu - 31 mi bike with speed work, 5.5 mi run @ race pace
Fri - Strength workout
Sat - Brick: 35 mi bike followed by 4.3 mi run (first brick of the year!)
Sun - 65 mi bike @ race pace
*Really should have done this strength workout on Tuesday but I wanted to save my legs for the late afternoon bike speed workout then discovered that I had no legs left - ACK!

See any easy workouts?

Me neither. Very different from what I've done in the past on my own and perhaps why I was feeling so wiped out and started worrying about my diet being inadequate (which it still may be). There's much more focus on quality (speed, power, technique, outfit color -- jk ;-) over quantity. What's also different is that I have NO idea what I'm going to be doing the following week as I usually get my workouts only one week at a time. I cannot obsess about what I don't know, right?

Or can I?

Just for grins, what would I be doing now if there was no Coach Bill?

Well, my next two major races are the Fargo Marathon May 9th and Rock 'n Roll Man, a half iron tri, May 30th. I'd continue my basic marathon maintenance mode of running 2-3 times a week, ride a couple times a week with Dave on the weekend (maybe a short time trial during the week) but try to get to the pool 4-5 times a week come hell or high water in hopes of improving my swimming. If I had any time/energy left, maybe some core work would get done too.

How does that compare with what he had me do this week?

 Coach BillMe on my own
Swim (yds)
Speed work?
1 (3150)
4-5 (8-10,000)
At least twice/wk
Bike (miles)
Speed work?
4 (163)
Yes, 2 of 4
2-3 (100-125)
Fartlek or TT, maybe
Run (mi)
Speed work or brick?
3 (14.3)
Yes, 3 of 3
2-3 (20-25)
Maybe a brick
Strength (hrs)
Incl. cardio w/u & c/d + stretching
Full body (4)Core only (1)
Total Hours16:3915-17

Bottom line, I've had some significant changes to my training and a lot has changed as a result. The annoying hammy and shoulder/elbow issues are pretty much history and I'm able to run fast again and swim pain-free. I'm becoming a pretty decent cyclist, which I read somewhere can help me run stronger in tris, but I'm most happy that I'm no longer so paranoid about cornering and riding hard and fast (even in rain and by myself in training) as I was after my bike crash last year and for most of the year too, actually (mental wounds take much longer to heal!). And while I'm hungry for more swim workouts and longer runs, doing less of them was probably the best thing for me, along with the added strength training, so I could allow myself to heal up. I'm sure more will be coming in due time.

Thanks Coach. Also for posting my new workouts and making this upcoming week a bit of a recovery week!

(Photo: Coming towards the finish of a half marathon December 2005. I was getting my butt kicked in training every week back then (my first time doing speed work) and it paid off. Looking forward to being in that kind of shape again this year but with nicer arms :-)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Calorie Counting Dilemma

OK, I admit I'm not one who usually worries much about counting calories. I've been happy as long as I have the energy to do what I want and my weight does not fluctuate too much either up or down. But my current training with Coach Bill is much more rigorous than what I've done on my own in the past and my goals are more performance-oriented. I've got some new friends (muscles) that are being put to the test in speed and strength workouts and being in base building mode, my workouts are getting longer. I'm getting tired of reporting back to my coach that I was tired before a workout even began!

I was thinking I'd start a food log but then realized it does no good if I don't know how many calories I'm supposed to be consuming in the first place. Here's my dilemma:

The Tanita Ironman Body Composition Monitor says I need to consume ~1300 cals/day to maintain my Basal Metabolic Rate (i.e., do nothing but rest and perhaps read blogs :-).

My new Timex heart rate monitor (HRM) is giving me calorie expenditures during my workouts that are considerably higher than various other online calculators based on my weight alone (i.e., 700 vs 420-450 for a 5-mile run, 1340 vs. 1000-1150 for a 33 mi bike ride @ 18mph avg). Doing 2-3 workouts a day, these differences add up quick!

If I google "HRM calories burned accuracy," I get various links to articles and forum posts about HRM numbers often being quite far off, esp. for females (because we have generally higher HRs?). A number of them mention that metabolic testing (resting metabolic rate and VO2) is the only way to accurately determine calorie expenditures and needs.

How do YOU decide how many calories you need to fuel your workouts?

Does your calorie intake vary by the day (say, depending on what workouts you're doing) or does it stay pretty constant throughout the week?

Has anyone undergone metabolic testing? If so, did you think it was worth doing? (I know it's not cheap)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Genie's First Day Out in Orlando

Pick me! Pick me!

OK, Genie, we can go out today. I've got a 60-mile steady pace ride. Yesterday was a hard effort ride on Callie (my tri bike) so it's your turn.

YAY, I'm ready to go. When are we going, huh, huh, huh?

Well, as soon as I load you up with some fluids and fuel. Gotta pump up your tires too.

Genie, my new road bike, patiently waits. It's her first day out in Orlando after having arrived last week from Tucson. The forecast is calling for a partly cloudy day, 70-80 degs, winds 7-13mph. A good day for riding!

The garage door opens and that rascal is nearly out the door before I can get on her. But we go only halfway down the block before I turn back.

Huh? What -- why are we turning around?

Your seat is a bit too high. (Genie whimpers)

Dave makes a quick adjustment back in the garage and we're off again. Genie is beaming. A new neighborhood to roll in, new sights to see and new bikes to meet!

The first one we see is a road bike around mile 6. The rider is a solo female. She's just cruising along and we pass with a courteous "Good morning. Have a great ride." Soon thereafter, though, I see a pace line of 4 guys coming up. I wonder how Genie will react and grip her handle bars a little tighter.

The leader passes on the left and compliments her, "Pretty bike!" "That one's nicer," I say, referring to Dave's new time trial bike, which has the same paint scheme as his road bike but cool HED tri-spoke wheels. Dave recognizes the leader is Joe from Bike Works, whom we spoke to the day before about our bike pump not working properly. He looks pretty much like every other roadie to me but then I notice the Giant road bike (one of the brands that store sells) and figure out who he is.

Crap, the warm-up is over ...

Instead of letting them pass by us, Dave starts picking up the pace to ride alongside Joe. Genie's gears and wheels began spinning faster. The guys that were behind the pace line leader are now behind me. My heart rate starts climbing.

Whoa, Genie! These other guys are not probably riding 60 miles. Slow down for goodness sake!

She ignores me. She knows she's made for group riding and instinctively tries to keep up with the others. A couple miles later I'm already feeling the burn in my legs and my HR was nearing 170 (the HR I tried to maintain during yesterday's hard ride!). I began to worry what was going to happen later in our ride. None of that seemed to bother Genie, however, who rolled on fresh as a daisy.

At the next intersection, mile 10, Joe and the other 3 guys regrouped while Dave and I continued on ourselves. Whew, we can ride our own pace now. Or so I thought ...

Within a mile, Joe and one other guy blow past us. We try to hold off the other two slower guys but Dave is having some difficulty sustaining the power he wants and tells me that he wants to stop after the next major intersection to drop his seat down a bit. Genie gets impatient, decides to see how close she can get to the two guys ahead and takes off past Dave. I'm down in the drops hanging on for dear life!

We make it through the intersection, pull over and stop to wait. The other two guys that were ahead of me are just circling around waiting too. Then Dave rolls by with the two slower guys in tow and motions for me to continue. That bastard is not stopping after all!!

I now have to hammer to catch up to everyone (Lesson learned: Better to keep spinning slowly while waiting rather than stop completely). Genie settles in back of the pace line moving at 22-23 mph. A mile or so later, the two slower guys get dropped but Dave decides to go around them and Genie follows.

Dave, we're going to regret this later! No, Genie. NOOOOO!!!

(No answer from either)

At mile 18, thankfully, we reached a T intersection where we turned left while the other guys went right. Finally, FINALLY, Dave and I settled into our normal long ride pace. And, luckily, the damage was not as bad as I thought it might be. We finished our 60-miler OK, though the second half of our ride was mostly into the wind and not as fun. Why is there seldom a pace line when you want one?

All in all, a good first day out with Genie but she's going to have to learn some discipline around other bikes!

(Note: Four years ago, I didn't know what a pace line was. I was struggling to just ride in a straight line and clip out of my pedals!)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How NOT to Do a Track Workout

Forgive me Coach, it's been four years since my last track workout.

It started off good. I got there early, making sure I gave myself extra time to find the track. A few others were there already but Coach Bill wanted me to go ahead and do the workout he prescribed for me vs. what the others would be doing. OK, no problem, it looked simple enough:

10 min warm-up and 10 min cool-down
In between, do twice:
3 min @ 80% effort, 2 min recovery
2 min @ 85% effort, 1 min recovery
1 min @ 90% effort, 3 min recovery

From there, things went downhill.

We've had unusually cool weather up until last weekend so I've been spoiled running in 60-70 degs. Last night, however, it's 82 and kind of windy. I got started on my warm-up and notice immediately that my mouth is incredibly dry and my contacts are freaking out. Behind my sunglasses I'm blinking and winking like mad trying to get some extra moisture to them. On my first lap, I see a sizable blurry object on the track. I go around it but on the second lap, stop and discover that it's someone's shirt, which I move onto a fence nearby so no one (i.e., me) trips on it.

By the end of my warm-up, though, I can see fine and my thirst is not so bad. I take a big swig of water from my bottle anyway, stretch and see that everyone else in the running group is now warming up running in the opposite direction that I just ran. Oh yeah, I forgot about doing warm-ups and cool-downs in the CW direction. Oh well ...

But now people are running *towards* me as I'm about to begin my intervals. I check with Coach about track etiquette, passing and such, and he says, don't worry, they'll be done soon. Just run on the inside number one track and move to the outside during your recoveries. You'll be running faster than them.

What? Ha, no way. You haven't seen me on a track lately.

But his words did elevate me as I set off on my first 3 min interval. Umm, what effort level was I was supposed to run again?

One lap later I'm huffing and puffing hard and check my watch. Yikes, only 1:30-something? There's NO FREAKIN' WAY I can keep this up for another minute and a half. But I'm too stubborn to do anything but try my best to hang on. I finish a little shy of two laps.

During the 2 minute recovery, I walk slowly over to my water bottle and empty half of it into me. Dam, that was definitely not 80% effort level. What to do next time?

Well, that's easy. I can't possibly run harder so I'll try to run at 85% effort as I'm supposed to!

Another lap later, I'm feeling as I did before and struggling to hold on for just two minutes this time. ARGH! I'm killing myself!

And one very short recovery minute later, I'm off again at supposedly 90% effort, only I don't have time to figure out what 90% is and just go as hard as I can. Hey, it's just one minute, right?

For 60 LOOOOOOOOOOONG seconds I'm deeply regretting this decision. But, luckily, I now have a nice long 3 min recovery to drink up and regroup.

My next set of intervals was much better paced but there were some new challenges. For one, soccer balls from the infield (bunch of kids practicing) seemed to be rolling onto the track more often so I always had to be on the look out for them. Two, the other runners were now on the track too and some of them didn't seem to know/remember about moving over on their recoveries. And I couldn't think of what I was supposed to say to get them to move over (On your left? Coming through?) and ended up just blurting out, "Heads up, Heads up!" One woman gets out of the way and apologizes. Another one just uses her arms to cover her head ... Three, I got a darn side stitch during one recovery interval, very unusual for me.

So, I managed to survive but few things seemed to go right for me. I even ran the cool-down too fast just thinking about all my goof-ups. But, at least I ran that in the right (CW) direction.

PS - Anyone know what you're supposed to say to get slower people to move over on the track?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Meet My New Friends

Well, not really new but they've been hiding for a while and are back!

Of course, my muscles are nothing compared to many of you swimmers and gym rats out there, I know, but this old bag is feeling like she belongs in the pool and at the gym much more. And that confidence, along with having finally kicked that annoying cough, has helped me to a good fifth week of training:

3 full-body strength workouts (feels good to feel strong)
2 swims (4900 yards - one on my own, one with a group - wanting to swim more!)
2 runs (14.35 mi - one 10-miler and a 4-miler that wasn't supposed to be speed work- Oops!)
2 bike rides (80.2 mi - one 25-miler and one 55 miler mi - Both by myself since Dave was on travel. Not as fun but I got them done).

Overall, there are definitely some cool things that I can do now that I couldn't do a couple months ago:

  • Swim with no pain. YAY!!!
  • Three sets of 25 full body push-ups with little difficulty.
  • Lunges (one-legged squats), even with 10# dumbbells in each hand.
  • Run hard with no hammy pain and few worries. W00T!

    Unfortunately, there are also some uncool things I can do if I'm not careful:

  • Forget to eat and/or bring food and screw up my workouts.
  • Fix a hole in a bike tube and create 2 new ones trying to put the tube back in the tire. DOH!!
  • Get sucked into running 7-minute miles with no warm-up whatsoever. Not smart!
  • Come home from a strength workout, get carried away doing yard work and end up with doubly sore muscles.

    Anyway, my first phase of iron training, 5 weeks of building a muscular base, has been completed. I'm very pleased with the results. Coach Bill says my shoulders look much stronger and Dave says my butt is noticeably smaller :-) I think/hope if I can keep from getting injured this year, I just might have some speed left in me yet.

    Next up: Base Building!
  • Wednesday, March 04, 2009

    Photo of My Parents

    My sister just sent me an old photo of my parents. I'm not positive but think it may be their wedding photo.

    The reason I don't have any family photos is that I never asked for any. I really didn't like or want photos much until I started blogging. My sister, however, does a lot with photos for her business. She's got some old family photos but the majority of them are probably in storage at my brother's house where my mom lives now. Maybe someday I'll get some copies made.

    Random Childhood Memories

    Unfortunately, I have no pictures of me or my family as a child but there are some things from my childhood that have definitely shaped me. Thanks, Mom & Dad.

    Do It Yourself (DIY) - When something needed to be done around the house, we kids helped my dad do them. I was the oldest, my sister was 14 months younger and a brother came several years later. We did yard work, cleaned out gutters, painted, replaced roof shingles, mixed cement and built retaining walls. I once thought it was really cool that a concrete block was like a sponge and watered one until it got so heavy that we couldn't pick it up. Oops! I take pride in being a mostly DIY person but now let Dave do all the heavy lifting (as well as the laundry :-). He does not like heights anyway.

    Exercise - I remember seeing my dad do sit-ups in the morning and walking briskly to/from the bus stop or BART station (about a mile away) on weekdays. Being a former gymnast in high school, he could also do pull-ups and pull-overs on horizontal bars, handstands and flips that put us kids to shame. I've always wanted to be in good enough shape to do the things that he could do. Maybe some day ...

    Independence - My mom didn't know how to drive, had no friends and her English skills were limited. When we got sick or injured at school, she'd walk over to pick us up and we had to walk home then take the bus or a taxi to go to see a doctor, if necessary. If something around the house was broken/new that required reading instructions to fix/use, she often had to wait for my dad or the kids to help her. She made me want to be very independent, and I still hate going to see doctors.

    Money Matters - Despite her limitations, my mom was a good money manager. I remember her clipping coupons and using an abacus to balance the checkbook to the penny each month. We rarely went shopping except to buy groceries, other necessities and Xmas gifts. A couple times a year we went out to eat as a family to a shopping mall food court, which the kids loved because, one, we could ride the escalator and, two, get a variety of tasty dishes. I am also very careful about saving and spending. Even Taco Bell is a treat when you rarely eat out.

    Making Cutbacks - My family of 5 lived in a modest house with one bathroom. Sometime during the late 60's or early 70's, California had a major water shortage. For many weeks (months?), we had a very restrictive bathing schedule, were saving bath and laundry water in order to flush the toilet and using water from washing fruits & veggies to water plants in our yard. I'm not sure if every family went to such extents to conserve water but I know cutbacks can be made, not only in water usage but in a number of things, when times get tough.

    Outdoors - Fishing was the number one family recreation for us. It was simple: grab the poles and tackle box, get or bring some bait (digging for worms was a blast!), and head over to either Berkeley Pier or Lake Chabot. We rarely caught anything worth eating or taking a picture of but loved spending hours trying. I love the outdoors and really don't need much to enjoy myself.

    Hard Work - My dad always used to always tell us how he washed dishes to get through college. He graduated with a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering and later attended Stanford to do some graduate work. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to tell him before he died how proud I was of his accomplishments but am grateful he taught me to work hard to achieve my goals and not expect help from others.

    Competing - All throughout school, I was expected to bring home "A's" and to be one of the top students. I started taking lessons in keyboards (accordion then later piano) at age 7 and competed in a big Northern California Music Festival every year until I was about 16. The desire for perfection and to be one of the best is very ingrained in me but as I've gotten older, I've realized it's not good to always be like that. It's a work in progress.

    Sunday, March 01, 2009

    Proud New Parents

    Nine months ago, we decided to make some new additions to our family. It's been a long wait but they're finally done and this past weekend we went back to in Tucson, AZ, and saw them for the first time.

    Dave's new road bike with a Shimano Ultegra build. He wanted a brightly colored paint design that resembled blobs of a lava lamp flowing down his bike. (clickable)

    My new road bike with a Shimano Ultegra build. I got the design that he didn't like, actually. It's similar but more refined/feminine looking and with yellow instead of blue. (clickable)

    We went out for a 55 mile test ride on a moderately hilly route (2300 ft of climbing). The carbon frames absorbed a lot of road shock and the new kids performed every bit as well as we hoped they would. WEE!

    Here's Dave coming up a hill. What a beautiful day to be out for a ride!

    As usual, my bike frame is too small to carry two bottles on the frame so I added aero bars to be able to carry an aero bottle in front and to have the option to use the bike for (non-ITU) tris. Why not show it off?

    It'll take about a week or so for the new kids to arrive in Orlando. Meanwhile, Dave just hired Coach Bill (my coach) to help him get in shape to be my iron cycling partner. Of course, he already enjoys riding but not usually over 80 miles and definitely not in hot & humid conditions. Is that love or what? Good thing his life insurance policy is up to date ...

    Workout-wise, week four went considerably better for me than week three:

    3 full-body strength workouts (noticeably stronger and starting to see more muscle definition)
    2 swims (5700 yards - not as fast as I'd have liked but felt MUCH better than last week!)
    2 runs (21 mi - no speed work this week, just two distance runs - no complaints)
    1 bike ride (55.8 mi - fun test ride in Tucson)

    One more week of building a muscular base and then I switch to my base phase of training. Tomorrow I will catch up on my blog reading!