Friday, March 28, 2008

Nutrient Rich and Other Bad Words

I met with Jesse about optimal nutrition on Monday night. The guy knows his nutrition, I'll say that much. Lots of good advice. Hard to follow advice, but good advice.

According to Jesse, this is what is wrong with my current diet:

-too many carbs at the wrong times
-not enough protein
-not enough careful pre, during and post nutrition thoughtfulness
-too much of the wrong kinds of fats

And here I was thinking I wasn't doing so bad....

Well, actually, I knew I had a few major problems with my diet, but I was unwilling to think too much about it. Part of this has to do with my running background. Runners do fuel during workouts, but the ones I know and hang out with pride themselves about not getting too silly and persnickety about it. They love a post-run breakfast with greasy home fries, sausage and coffee. They like a good post-race beer (or ten) as opposed to Endurox. They drink regular Gatorade as opposed to the fancy sports drinks like Accelerade or PowerBar or whatever. This is the culture I come from, and it's also a culture I like and respect.

The problem is, I really want to kick ass in my training and racing. EVERYTHING I read talks about the importance of good nutrition. I felt it was time to start putting forth some effort in this department. Why train more than 10 hours every week if you aren't going to take something important like fueling seriously?

Am I starting to think this way because I'm becoming more of a triathlete than a runner? I think yes. This makes me a tad sad.

Anyway. As we chatted, Jesse ate his "dinner." I know he was going to have some yummy chili after I left (his wife was making it while I was there--made with lean turkey, of course, rather than what I would make it with, hamburger), but as we talked he ate cottage cheese, prunes and walnuts. All I could think was, I can NEVER do this. Kill me now.

In short, here are my must-dos:
  • Fuel before I work out. Often I just jump in the pool or go out for a run in the morning not having eaten. This is bad.
  • Fuel during my workout (esp. when biking and running). I do this, but I guess I have to start using "good" sports beverages as opposed to the Gatorade I buy from the grocery store.
  • Fuel after my workouts, esp. if they last longer than an hour. Sometimes I do this, but not always. I own a big jug of powdered Endurox, but I'm not a huge fan. Guess I need to become one.
  • Give up coffee in favor of green tea. (Yeah right. That one's not at the top of my list yet. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE COFFEE? Okay. I LOVE COFFEE.)
  • More fruits and veggies. Less refined sugar. Easy to say, hard to do.
  • More lean meat, fish and other high protein foods, and start using protein powder in my smoothies. Oh, and start drinking smoothies.
  • No more dark beer. If I'm going to drink it needs to be Mich Light or red wine. Blek. Like with the coffee, I'm not committed to that rule yet. Life is too short to give up coffee and dark beer.
One good thing is that I don't have much weight to lose. Maybe three pounds or so. My body fat is pretty low--something like 16 %--which isn't bad for a woman of my age who's had three kids rather recently. It could be better, but it's not terrible.

I had to go three and a half hours on the bike today. I wanted to go outside, but the hub. had a billion totally justifiable things he had to do (like getting the car inspected--that kind of stuff) so I couldn't get outside without the kiddos. I did the workout in three parts--two 1 hour 20 min. sessions on the trainer, and the last part I did at the gym so the kids could play there. (They have this really awesome rec. room with childcare. Gotta love the YMCA.)

Anyway, as I biked away at the gym, sweating everywhere and stinking up the room, I watched this boy. I think he had cerebral palsy, though I'm not sure. He was with two adults, one of whom I think was his dad because they had the same eyes. The adults were helping the boy to sit at the weight machines and lift a little weight. They would carry him from machine to machine. When the boy lifted he would make these very loud roaring noises. It was both distracting and interesting. I couldn't figure out what inspired the roars. Sometimes they were in conjunction with lifting, but sometimes they weren't. Anyway, at the end of his workout, one of the men placed him in a chair very near to my bike, which was at the end of a row, and then he watched him, holding his shoulder, as the other man went off to do something, I don't know what. The boy (he was in his teens--very tall) kept looking at me, but when I caught his eye he would look away. He didn't have control over his body, but his eyes he moved very clearly with purpose.

I know that people with cerebral palsy aren't necessarily mentally disabled. Think Mr. Hoyt's son, or that boy from My Left Foot. I began to wonder what was going through his mind. Was he used to being stared at by people--or by people looking away? Did it bother him that people make the assumption that he is retarded because he doesn't have control of his muscular system? As I thought this I finally caught his eye, and I smiled at him.

A few minutes later, the man came back and the two men together lifted him up. It was then that I noticed the boy had wet his pants. They carried him to his wheel chair, and they left.
And then I began to cry. Isn't that weird? I still can't explain it. I think it may have had to do with thinking about how my children are so healthy and able--how lucky they are and I am.... But it also had to do with my sadness for him, the boy. I'm sure it would be annoying to him that I felt pity and sadness. Was he humiliated that he had wet his pants? Did he know?

I'm so lucky that I can swim, bike, run--
and lift my children, and control my bladder, and everything else I can do that I take for granted every day of my life.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Time Flies





Saturday, March 22, 2008

I Think I'm Covered

One thing I've been stressed about is how I'm going to get my training in this summer. 

I'm taking the kids to Maine for the summer because we are having an addition put onto our house here in MA. (All three kids are in one bedroom. You can see how an addition might be necessary...) 

Anyway. I'm taking the kids and we are staying at my parents'. I contemplated saddling my mom into watching the kids for the 15-20 hours I need to workout--but--well, frankly, that's a shitload of time. Too much time to ask for even from a devoted Gramma. It felt very wrong to assume she'd being willing or able to do that. The hub. will be up each weekend, and so I can get in some workouts then. But during the week it's all me, all the time. 

I put an offer out to my cousin, Lauren, who will graduate from high school in the spring, and to my two sisters and one of my sisters-in-law to see if I could get a bite. I offered a good chunk of change in exchange for 15 hours a week workout time. Lauren took me up on the offer. Thank God! She is a Texan (San Antonio) and she and her dad come to summer with us each year. She's so awesome with my kids and they totally love her. She beautiful, fun, and patient. I'm so psyched! Plus, she lives in the beach house with us, so there's no commuting etc. involved. I feel enormously relieved. My kids can hang at the beach when I'm out on the bike or the ocean or on a run--and I don't have to feel like a slime for sticking them in all day camp or forcing them to stay inside while I do a treadmill or trainer workout. _____________ 

I had an incredible week of training, and I'm SPENT. I've been building little by little, but this week I made a major jump in hours put in. I can't do a long workout on Easter, so I switched my long bike to Good Friday. For that reason the hours and miles are somewhat skewed. (I log from Saturday to Saturday.) I finished my long bike at like 5 p.m. yesterday, which I did it on the trainer because Friday was wicked cold and had gusts of wind up to 50 mph. Then I got up early this morning to do a 9 mile run. It was still cold and windy and my legs felt like absolute lead. I ran with a few friends who are training for Boston and who had to do an 18 miler today. Thank God they had to go long because the pace was slower than usual as a result. 

 By the end of this I felt like I needed to crawl to my car. In other news, my friend Michael, a runner, broke his running streak this week. He ran every freaking day for 6 years, 4 months and 3 days. That's 2,316 days in a row. He averaged 8.77 miles a day for a total of 20,230.5 miles. That's dedication, my friends. In my mind it's an accomplishment of mental and physical toughness that few of us will ever match in our lifetimes. He's the man.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Living in Zone 1

Our whole lives we are told that doing more, doing extra, working harder, will produce the results we want. It doesn't matter the venue. If you want to excel academically, if you want to become a master of chess, if you want to become a chef, if you want to be a writer, if you want to dance for the NYC Ballet--you must work unwaveringly hard. Nothing comes without hard work. 

Here's the problem. I think that as I have gotten older I have developed an anxious response when I'm not working really hard. I have achieved a few things in my life now--advanced degrees and accolades at work and a few good race times for a girl who genetically belongs in the middle of the pack--but none of these things came easy to me. 

 I remember studying for my GREs, for example, when I was applying to do doctoral work in English many years ago. I study relentlessly. I killed myself studying, taking practice test after practice for months and months. Then I took the test and I did really well. This showed me not that I was a smarty pants, but that if I worked like a dog I could do very well. I studied like a crazy woman because I was so anxious that I couldn't do it--that I couldn't score high enough to grant me entry into elite schools. Studying seemed to be the only thing that quelled the anxiety. When I did do well and did receive entry to do doctoral work, the anxiety continued, because if I didn't work my ass off, it would be revealed that I was actually very average under my high-scoring GRE veneer. 

So I'm anxious when I'm not working hard. Working hard quells the anxiety. It quells the fear that I will be discovered as not really good--just a person of average intelligence and athleticism who works her ass off. Do you see the problem here? You can't work insanely hard all of the time at everything you do, especially when you are a hard core triathlete, a mom of three little kids, and you work full time. You just can't. Or you will--what? I don't know. Lose your mind? Jump off a bridge? Never get out of bed because you just can't get up and do it again? 

All of this would be solved, I think, if I could just convince myself that it doesn't matter one iota what the rest of the world believes about me--about my ability to parent, to teach, or to be an athlete. Truthfully, the world doesn't give a fart about me, anyway, right? It is too busy trying to manage its own host of issues to concern itself with whether I am fraudulent or not. I need to let go of the anxiety that if I am not training all the time, really hard, I will still be a good athlete. I need to remember that quelling the training anxiety beast will just make me feel worse when I try to slay the bad mommy beast. I need to embrace that rest is good, and that if I do rest, I will still be okay. I need to allow myself to lead most of my life in zone 1, and save the high zone training for special times.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


It has come to my attention (courtesy of the hub.) that my bike is transgendered. Her name is the Black Stallion, but she is, of course, a lady. hmmmm. What to do? Rename her? Allow her to continue being this way? Not that I have a problem with it... I could change her name to Black Beauty. She could therefore still be nicknamed The Black and she would still be named after a famous literary horse known for her speed and grace. Of course Black Beauty was nicknamed Beauty, not The Black. Only the Black Stallion was called The Black. This is a problem.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Chipmunk 5k for ALS Race Report

The forecast the night before the race was not promising. Heavy rain and wind were expected. Argh. Still, it was a 5K, right? It only would last a little over 20 minutes. How bad could heavy rain for that amount of time be? (Don't answer that.) 

The truth is I was motivated to run this little race for two reasons: 1. It is a 5k. The only other racing option I had this weekend was a 5 Miler. I really wasn't feeling up for 5 miles. 3.1--much more appealing--and I had to race because it was on the schedule. (Never disobey the schedule.) 2. I thought the competition might be less fierce at this race than the 5 miler. I figured right. The Chipmunk 5K for ALS was put on by high school students, and the majority of its participants were, unsurprisingly, students, and the parents of said students. I figured, vainly, that I might win it. 

Here, alas, I figured wrong. 

Back to the night before. I packed about a million different running outfits to be sure I had what I needed given the forecast--and also given that the forecast is nearly always wrong. This packing process took a long time. 

Andy was extremely annoyed at my need to have everything match. In his mind only losers match their running clothing. Humph. Well, he's not a chick. What does he know? The next morning I left the house too late. The kids wanted this or that, and I was already feeling guilty about leaving on a Saturday morning so I kept giving into their demands until I finally got totally freaked out that I could possibly miss the opportunity to warm up, or worse, miss the opportunity to get the all important coffee, so I took off. I

 got my usually DD coffee and my egg and cheese on an English and set out. Upton is a good 50 minutes away from where I live. It's very rural and pretty, but the drive out there left a lot to be desired. It was rainy, foggy, muddy and well--March. Just depressing. Still, I listened to my novel (Dark Angels, Kathleen Koen), drank my Java and was at peace. It took me awhile to find the Nipmuc Middle School. This was okay with me since it was raining and cold and I really didn't want to get out of the toasty car. I finally reluctantly found it. I got my number and visited the bathroom a few times. The cafeteria (were registration was held) was full of high school boys and girls and their parents. I saw very few road racing types. Good, I thought. Very good. I went to warm up and the rain, previously pounding like you wouldn't believe, let up. Very good again! 

As I ran I kept my eyes peeled for my competition. I spotted two potentially dangerous women. Rats. At around 9:55 I headed out to the starting line. There was only one person there. What? The race was supposed to start in five minutes! The lone person was one of the women I had seen running during my warm up. 

"Where is everyone?" I asked. 

"They don't want to get cold and wet," she answered. 

"Um, right. But this is a race," I continued. 

"Where's the race director?" 

"He's inside too," she said. 

 Oh shit. This could be bad. Maybe this race was a little too rural and noncompetitve? I made small talk with the runner woman for a little while and tried to figure out who she might be. The details: From R.I. Ran this race last year. Just coming off a foot injury. Not running Boston. 

"What are you planning to run for a time?" she asked. AhHa! So she was checking out the competition too! Should I tell her the truth, or freak her out with some outrageous time I could never really get? It is, after all, a little brazen to go right out and ask... 

"About 21," I said, deciding on the honest approach. 

"Oh, great,"she replied, relief clearly visible on her face. Fuck. I wonder how fast she is. I won't ask. She wants me to ask. Bitch. 

We chatted more. She has teenagers at home. Okay, so at least she isn't in my age group. A few minutes later another woman, also clearly a runner, ran up the hill. I got her chatting too. Then the brazen woman (woman number 1) asked this new woman what she's planning on doing for a time. "About 21," replied the new woman. Fuck again! 

Finally, at about 10 past 10, a large mass of people began walking up the hill to the starting line. A few cops appeared in their Upton police cars. The race director walked to the front of the crowd. The crowd was small--maybe 70 or 80 total--but still this guy couldn't command their attention. He shouted something and then smiled and went to the side. All of the high school boys crowded the front line. I chatted it up with two 13-years-old boys who by no means looked 13 (more like 10), but I didn't tell them this. I DID tell them they better not beat me, or they'd hurt my old lady's feelings. They seemed unmoved and unimpressed, and clearly hoped, for the sake of their fragile, underclassmen reputations, that I stop talking to them and shut the fuck up. sigh. Whatever, I thought. Little shits. I'm gonna kick your prepubescent butts. (Not that I'm competitive or anything.) 

The ineffective race director suddenly shouted "GO!" and I jumped. Then, after a moment, I figured out what was going on and began to run. The two runner women leaped out in front. So did the 13-year-old boys, and every other high school boy for that matter. I tried not to panic. I began sucking wind immediately. This, I suddenly knew, was going to be PAINFUL. Races are always painful, of course, but 5ks really hurt, and I always forget this until I'm in the midst of one. Mile 1: 6:40. Cool. Not too bad. But I was tired. Way too tired. 2.1 more miles seemed like an awful lot. I slowed. I began to get that "who cares" feeling. The two women were far, far ahead. They were still in sight, but basically uncatchable given my current level of fatigue and pain. Fuck. 

But then something fabulous happened. All of the high school boys began to slow. I began picking them off not one by one, but in large groups. As I passed each one I could feel each trying to stay with me, then, after a few moments, giving up and letting me go. Ha! Mile 2: 7:14. Okay. That's lame. I could run faster! I was feeling energized now; in pain and legs burning, but still energized. Maybe this race wasn't all lost. Maybe I would snag 3rd. Maybe I could pick off a few more of these h.s. boys. I charged on. 

With about .5 to go I passed two boys who really didn't want me to pass them. They stayed with me, let me go, then re-passed me. This happened a few times. Finally, they were toast. I sailed ahead in glory. I hit mile 3: 6:50. Only .1 to go. With about 200 yards to the end I began my kick. I felt strong. I wasn't going to PR, but I would place. Then those two evil boys I had passed earlier sprinted by me. I hate that! Little shits. I finished in 21:19, about 6:52 pace. I was 2nd in my AG (20-39) and I was the 4th woman. Turns out there was a h.s. girl ahead of me too, but I didn't know it. I don't begrudge her placing, though. I'm psyched she beat so many of those h.s. boys. And still, you gotta love the small, rural 5k. I placed well even though I didn't run my best race. The woman with teenagers at home won it in 18 something. The h.s. girl did a low 19. Woman #2 broke 20 by a few seconds. I did beat the two 13 year-old boys. The End.

Friday, March 7, 2008


Yesterday I was helping Jordan with her homework. (Don't get me started on the fact that my first grader has homework.) We were working on the mystery word of the week, which turns out is measurement, and we were quite absorbed in the task. Basically you have to unscramble the word and also find as many words within the word as you can. I had just found mature and nature and I was pretty psyched. Nothing like Mom doing homework for her kid, eh? Okay, so here's the real story. As I am praising myself for finding mature (note the irony) Jordan says, "Mom, where are Noah and Lara? It's pretty quiet." (Nothing like the child doing the parenting, eh?) "I'll go check it out," she said, and she trotted away. I think I mumbled and continued my quest to find words out of the word. "Mom? I think you better come in here," Jordan said a moment later. My heart dropped. Shit. I raced toward her voice. They are in the bathroom. They are both totally naked. The handsoap and a cup of soapy water are on the floor. They have their toothbrushes in their hands. Water and soap are everywhere. "What are you doing?" I asked. Noah was gleeful. "We're washing our pees!" I'm incredulous. "With handsoap and a toothbrush?" "Yeah!" Lara cried, and proceeded to put the toothbrush between her legs and started to scrub. Noah followed suit, dipping his toothbrush in the water and using it to well, you know. Oh. My. God. _______________________ 

On a totally different note, I want to thank everyone for their responses to my last post. I guess I didn't realize how loaded it was, and how stressed, upset and most of all, guilty I felt until I wrote it. The strange thing is that the day after I wrote that post I got Triathlete Magazine in the mail. The editor's note was on sandbagging!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


How secretive are you about your training? Do you tell the truth when someone (a NON triathlete) asks you how much you train or what you are doing for training? Who do you downright lie to about your training? I ask because I find myself lying about my training -- a lot. A colleague asks me where I'm going after work and invariably I'll say to run errands. I am never running errands. I am going to the gym. Or I am going running and I'm changing into my running garb at Starbucks. When my mother-in-law asks if I have been running lately I will tell her no, life is too busy. I have laid off the training. I don't want her to know. I think she thinks I'm sick. If my BEST friends (who don't train) ask me about my training I may not lie, but I will blow it off. Oh, it's fine. You know. I love it. I've been trying to get in the workouts I feel I should. So how are you? I don't mention I have a coach. I don't mention I just dropped thousands on a bike. I don't mention that I think about racing and training when I'm alone in the car, or when I get bored at work, or in the middle of the night when I can't sleep. I don't mention how much I want to KICK ass this season. I don't mention that on my bookshelf I have about two dozen books on triathlon, sports nutrition, mental training, running, swimming technique, biking workouts, strength training etc. I don't mention that I have a blog. I only have one non-training friend who knows about my blog. She only knows be/c I can trust her to still love me. My parents don't know. My siblings don't know. My neighbors don't know. My friends don't know. Only you know. And worst of all, maybe: When I work out after school I never go home first and park in my driveway. I change at the gym or at Starbucks or in my car and do a workout from some random parking lot somewhere so that the mommies in the neighborhood won't see that I'm running instead of picking up my babies from daycare in a timely fashion. ________________________ 

Why? Why do I do this? I don't really know. Here are some possible reasons: 1. (the biggest.) It's selfish. I'm selfish. I don't want people to know I'm selfish. Every moment I'm training or thinking about training I should be spending with my kids or thinking about my kids or loving my kids or working with my kids. 2. Because they don't get it. They meaning everyone who doesn't run, bike or swim or all three--for fun. And I don't want to explain. 3. Because I want people to like me. ____________________ 

Most of the time I feel like I am hiding who I truly am. This is the end of my confession.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Forward March

March isn't one of my favorite months. It's still cold and snowy here in New England, and when there isn't snow on the ground it's muddy and brown. This year March arrived like a lion with snowfall all morning of the first. Today, though, it's more lamb-like. For my run this afternoon it was 48 degrees. I could've worn just a light long-sleeved shirt and shorts. But I didn't. This is another thing I don't really like about March. The weather is so variable. You think you'll need your winter garb, but then you sweat to death in it, or because yesterday was balmy you are fooled into dressing too skimpily and freeze your ass off. March is also a very LONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNG month in school. Here in Boston we joke about getting up March Hill--an illusion, of course, to the infamous Heartbreak Hill (which isn't really that bad, I must note). 

The good thing about March, though, is that by the end of the month the nice days start to outnumber the nasty ones--and before you know it, it's spring. And I absolutely love spring. I begin to ache for the site of a blooming crocus at this time of year. Do crocuses grow in other parts of the country or are they just bulb/plants for northern climes? This weekend I spent quite a bit of time training. Can you believe it? 

On Saturday I rode for three hours on the Felt/on the trainer. I'm a little bruised. But it's okay. Really. I forgive The Black because it's not really her fault. My crotch just isn't broken in yet. Know what I'm saying? The ride went faster because I decided to go to Fast Splits to ride with some people there. I met a few people I hadn't before and had a good time chatting with everyone. The only downside was that the consensus was that 80's music wasn't acceptable listening fare, so we listened to the radio. Blek!  

On Sunday I did a super hilly 9 mile run--this time listening to my cheesy 80's tunes the whole way. Then I had a long 1.5 hour recovery bike. I understand the logic behind recovery bikes, but I LOATHE them. Recovery, in my mind, is a nap--not spinning for 1.5 hours! This weekend I also got my hair colored. I decided against the blond streak, and just went dark. The hub. thinks it looks a little Joan Jett-ish--but I like it. It can't be all that different than before because my kids didn't even really notice. Either that or they are so used to me changing my hair color that they longer even blink when I do so! 

 This is what the kids do when I'm blogging! Observe Noah's purse. He's going to love these pics when he's older. They are all going to the ball, I was told. I'm boring tonight. I'll try to be more zippy tomorrow. Ciao!