Sunday, February 23, 2014

On Eating Oatmeal, Being Undertrained, and Maturing

Where to start? Where to start? Let's start with this… I quit the nutrition challenge early. I was going to write a whole blog post about this, but since I have some other things to say I'll just summarize: I finally came to the conclusion that I was tired of my longer training sessions sucking. I ate some oatmeal for breakfast before my longer ride yesterday (~60 miles) and it was like I'd swallowed a magic pill or something and my power was magically back to (close to) where it should have been. What a freakin' relief! I swear I was beginning to think that I was just going to suck this year as my power on the bike has been so pathetic. In reality I just needed some oatmeal!

In the end I definitely can say I'm glad I tried that challenge. I gave it 100% effort for 4 full weeks, and in that time, I gained weight and had shitty training sessions. WTF!?! Why do all those paleo zealots talk about how the fat just melts away when you eat their way?? In my case it was the opposite and that part is still VERY odd to me- does not make sense at all. I will admit though that my normal energy levels were more stable and I did sleep well, so it wasn't all bad. I also learned how to make some awesome tasty sugar/grain free meals. Part of me believes that if I was not trying to be an endurance athlete then that would indeed be a good way to fuel yourself. It makes sense with the whole insulin spike thing and all. And its certainly better than they way 90% of Americans tend to eat. BUT, I am now (once again) firm in my belief that carbs best fuel endurance training and racing. I always seem to have to learn everything the hard way by experiencing these things myself… and I'm really glad I did b/c now I will not have to wonder if I'm missing out on some potential performance gain by eating only plants and meat and nuts and seeds. Not.wondering.anymore. Phew!

So I got home from that ride yesterday feeling pretty good, drank my Osmo Acute Recovery shake and thought I'd put that formula to the test… there was a short (10 mile) TT this morning out on the other side of the island… it had been in my head that maybe I would do that but I was waiting to see how I felt and whether or not it was likely to be raining… but the weather report was looking good and I didn't feel bad and the masochist in me was curious about how far off my old FTP power I really am… So last night I cleaned up my bike (first time all year I'm not kidding it was a MESS) and packed my bag and set my alarm for 4:30AM so I could get up and get to the other side of the island in time to sign up for the race.

Fueled by my magic oatmeal (with added honey, AND peanut butter, oh the horror!) I drove all the way out to the end of the road on the opposite side of the island (seriously, it's like the furthest point I could drive and it took almost an hour) and got myself signed up. It was really fun to see some of my old friends and competitors who I have not seen in forever… I got out of my little hermit shell here and was social for a change, which I actually really enjoy but apparently not enough to go out of my way more often… Anyway, my only real goal for the day was to ride as hard as I could and see what my power numbers were at that max effort. I would say that right now I'm nowhere near as fit as I have been in the past, BUT I am not holding onto any deep fatigue either b/c my training has not been very heavy for the last 3 whole months! Anyway, 5' into the race I was seeing power numbers that I couldn't hold last week for 3' intervals… so that worried me a little BUT I figured I'd just hang on as long as I could and see when I fell off the cliff. At the turn-around I felt totally MAXED out, but I hit lap on my garmin b/c I was curious to see how much I would fall off in the 2nd half… and shockingly, I did not fall off at all? It was like, when I went to DIG, there was something there to grab… pretty much the opposite of my racing experiences last year, which I find incredibly interesting. I ended up avg +1w higher on the way back than the way out which was just crazy to me.

I finished and thought to myself that I got EXACTLY what I wanted/needed out of that… and for the first time in forever felt 100% satisfied with a race effort. Isn't that weird? Last year I was never once satisfied but today I was. I think the lesson there is that it is better to go into a race 10% undertrained than 1% overtrained. Or shoot, maybe 20% undertrained. ;)

One other thing I find interesting is my outlook on my competitors. As soon as I showed up I saw my friend Erika on her trainer warming up. Erika is incredibly strong and right away I knew that if I wanted to win this thing I'd have to ride WELL outside of my current fitness level… (which I did!! But I still did not win!) There was another  gal there too who I sort of recognized from a brief encounter last year and I knew for sure she was SUPER strong as well… And I'm trying to figure out the best way to put this so it sounds the way I mean it… I was stoked those girls were there even though it meant I would likely not win. I find myself having just a ton of respect these days for my competitors who I know to be both talented and hard working and it's a cool feeling. Like I'm maturing or something??

Anyway, I got 2nd and the other gal was a close 3rd. We all laughed and chatted afterward and the vibe was so good (both before and after we knew the results). And we committed to meeting again next week on another TT course for another chance to rip our legs off in competition with each other. It's incredibly cool to have an attitude/outlook like this now because unfortunately I have not always been as good natured when it comes to getting my ass kicked in competition. I like being 40. :)

Oh, one other short little story… there was a young gal there who started ~3' ahead of me and I was catching her the whole time- *almost* got her at the finish line but not quite! I did not know this gal at all but it was so funny… after the race I was chatting with Erika and this gal came up to introduce herself…. and she told me she was totally inspired trying to hold me off there at the end. Then she said something about how she won the 'normal' women's division which just cracked us up… because I guess as masters women we are not 'normal' women?! HA! This gal was 20 (HALF MY AGE) and Erika and I were both like we are old enough to be your mom! That sort of made my day.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I'm 40!

Lordy Lordy I'm 40!

We ended up being pretty drunk yesterday so the motto was more like I'm 40 AND I KICK ASS. Just see the special birthday skirt Nalani made for me because THAT is proof! :)

So if we're friends on Facebook you know how we celebrated yesterday. It took us like a week of brainstorming different options of how to make the celebration epic... Nalani is such a good friend she took off work (on a Tuesday!) so we could do this together. I didn't even have to twist her arm.

Anyway, it was a fun day! I was thinking it would take us like 2:15 to do the whole thing, and I still believe we could do that if we hurried, but we didn't really rush rush through this…

And shoot, by the last beer Nalani was goading me on and making fun of how slowly I was sipping. Call it bonking? Nah. I just wasn't properly trained for the drinking portion of this event! I should have hired Krista as my coach. She would have had me prepared I'm sure! ;) As it was, it took us over 3 hours! Waaay too much chatting and peeing.

I will say though, the 2nd set of 400's in the pool was a trip! It came fairly soon after the 3rd beer... and for the record, I wore my goggles while running the 400m to the pool that round. Classic! Then we did burpees on the wet tennis court b/c we are hard core!

After all that we hopped in the water and all I could think was WHOA. I don't think I've ever been that buzzed while swimming in a pool?! It was fun though and I got cocky, but mostly because Krista sort of gave us a hard time about being able to make 5x400's @6:30 there at the end… To be completely honest, sitting on the edge of the pool yesterday I didn't know if I could do it either, but I suspected we could, especially since we got to put on pads/buoy/bands on that 2nd set. What I really wanted was to descend 1-5, because that to me seemed very much like an I'M FORTY AND I'M A BADASS kind of thing to do. Before we started I told Nalani that if we came in <6:15 on the first one we'd go off 6:20… if not, we'd stick with 6:30… First one 6:13 Nalani flashed a drunk smile at me and 7" later we were off again. My sense of pace/effort in the pool is typically pretty well developed but apparently not when I'm buzzing like that because #2 we came in at 6:04. Shit that was too fast was all I muttered and once again we were off. So #3 we came in 5:58 (that was my goal for #5 I was there way too early!) and that also made 6:20 too roomy of a send-off so we went off 6:10 for the last ones… 5:55 on #4 all I was thinking  was HA Krista thought we couldn't do this I'll show her! Then last one I just wanted to go under that 5:55, which I knew by that point I could do! Was pretty stoked to see 5:45 on my watch for that last one and it made me think that being 40 didn't mean I'm all washed up. :)

In other news, for my birthday Scott is constructing me a chicken coop for our backyard. Lol.

Last week I brought home 4 little chicks from the local Feed Supply store. My hope is that one day I'll be able to go out back and collect eggs from happy free range chickens in our yard! I really don't know *anything* about raising chicks and chickens but there's a lot of info online about that so I'm learning! We were all quite excited about our new chicks when we first brought them home. Ozzie especially.

We named them right away… Big Red, Eleanor, Snow, and Chocko. You can probably guess who is who.

Anyway, we thought we did a good job cat-proofing the brooder. Scott mentioned to me that Ozzie seemed to be obsessed with watching those chicks but honestly it didn't worry me because I didn't think he could get at them when the lid was on. But a little while later (like a whole hour after we brought them home) I went into the garage to check on those chicks and found that our cat-proofing skills were no match for Ozzie's instincts… he was inside the brooder, with Snow in his paws and the other 3 chicks huddled together and peeping their little brains out in the opposite corner. Holy crap I wasn't really sure what to do!?! Moana hadn't seen any of that and I thought it best if it stayed that way so I quickly got rid of the evidence and said nothing and then made a point to lock Ozzie out of the garage. Of course later Moana noticed that Snow was missing… Oh no she must have escaped?? Maybe we'll find her tomorrow sweetie... it's time for bed…

Next morning first thing Moana wanted to go look for Snow… we looked but couldn't find her… So sad! But in some sort of Valentine's Day miracle, while Moana was out to breakfast with her neighborhood friend, I found Snow version 2.0 at the Feed Store. Moana shrieked so loud when she came home and heard the news (We found Snow!!) all was right in the world. :) So as of now all 4 chicks are alive and pooping thriving so stay tuned for some chicken raising stories in the coming months. :)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lessons From The Olympics

OK so I'm not like a big winter sports fan. Hello, I made a choice to live in Hawaii! Snowy mountains have never been my thing. I tried skiing once as an adult and ended up walking sideways in my skis down the bunny hill b/c I was petrified. I cannot even comprehend some any of the things these athletes are doing while flying down mountains (backwards OMG!). I've just sort of been staring at the TV every night with my jaw dropped open and a look of disbelief on my face. Sometimes I shake my head and gasp out loud... shit! 

That said, I can understand mindset and sportsmanship while competing. And because of that, there are some moments that have really stood out and made an impact on me as both an athlete and a coach.

#1 Has to be Shaun White. OK so I haven't like followed his career or anything but have read a few negative tweets and articles about him… I don't feel like I have enough grasp on any of that to comment but what I will say is this- that guy showed incredible sportsmanship the other night when he got shut out of the medals in the half pipe. The results of that event were all over the news the other day so I knew how it all ended before I watched the prime time coverage… I watched anyway mostly b/c I was curious as to how he would handle losing. I sort of ASSumed that he would be pissy about it (maybe because I would have been??) but instead the first thing he did was go genuinely congratulate the guy who won. It was amazing and his ability to be gracious in defeat has been a highlight of the Olympics for me so far. My respect level for him went through the roof when I heard his post-race interview… no excuses… just It wasn't my day. We could all learn from that example. He remains a champion in my mind.

#2 Without talking about any athlete in particular, I've noticed that the athletes who smile the most seem to be the ones who are performing the best. Siri Lindley asks her athletes that a lot DO YOU LOVE IT?? And you can tell from the look in their eyes before they start (especially the ice skaters) if they feel like they are thrilled with the opportunity to do what they love on a world stage… vs those who put a ton of pressure on themselves and look scared to death before they even start and then get out there and fall. It's not like a 100% correlation or anything but it's pretty obvious if you really watch. Since I don't know any of these skaters I play a little game while I'm watching… I study their faces before they start and then guess whether or not they're going to nail it. So far I've been pretty good at calling it based on that one observation. Interesting. Turns out, you gotta LOVE IT! And not fear failure.

#3 Speaking of not fearing failure… It appears that if you wanna win, you gotta get out of your comfort zone and GO BIG! I find it interesting that I've heard several times that athletes in those slope style events are throwing those huge tricks but have never done them before… That guy who won the first gold medal of the games… young guy… Ya why not? The Olympic Finals seems like a good time to try a new trick, no? Result, gold medal. Nice work, man! I think the lesson there is to let go of your fears, believe in yourself, and GO FOR IT when it matters.

I'm sure there are like 100 more lessons we can gleam from watching these athletes… But those stand out for me so far!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

In My World This Week...

Waiting a whole week between blog posts leaves me with so much to say, though really none of it is very important. But whatever! Here's what's been going on in my world and between my ears...

~Parenting has become ever so slightly a ton easier since we moved into this neighborhood. Primarily because we are now in a neighborhood with other kids and Moana is old enough to play with them. Specifically, there are 3 other little blond girls who live within walking distance and the 4 have become best buds. This morning one of them came over, grabbed Moana and said "Let's go play with Lexie and Macy!" And off they went! Bye bye Sweetie! Have fun! They mostly just play dress up and pretend they are princesses, which is appropriate since the neighborhood we live in is called Castle Hills. Anyway, besides the fact that for much of the weekend my house is quiet (unless the Princess Posse chooses our castle for the tea party), it's gratifying as a parent to be able to provide an experience like this for your kid. I love how social Moana is... making friends is exceptionally easy for her and my hope is that it stays that way... at least until she becomes a teenager and the girls all get bitchy.

~Speaking of the house and neighborhood, my first banana tree is planted. Likely won't get any fruit off of it for like a year but hey, gotta start somewhere! My old neighbor told me that banana trees are hard to kill, which I think he meant as a negative thing (like once you plant them you can't get rid of them) but I took that as an excellent sign that maybe I won't accidentally kill it. Most of my baby papaya trees have died. I think I didn't plant them deep enough because the wind pretty much blew them over. :( Live and learn. Next time Mark gives me little budding papaya plants I'll dig deeper holes for them. In good news, I do have a solid amount of herbs and greenery out there... enough that I was able to spice up/flavor the cauliflower 'rice' I made last night 100% from our yard!

~New addition to our animal house coming on Thursday... I found a 'Feed Supply' store here in town that sells baby chicks for $4/each... they expect new ones to hatch soon so I reserved 3 and we pick them up on Thursday! Not to be Debbie Downer or anything but since this is our first attempt at raising chickens, I'm sort of assuming at least one might not make it so that's why I opted to get 3 (hoping at least 2 will live?) It wasn't really so each cat could have one. Scott's job this afternoon is to create a little home with a heat lamp for them for their first few weeks. Then we'll have a few weeks to work on building a coop for them in our backyard- ideally something that repels cats- and then what is it, like 18 weeks before I can go out back to get my eggs for breakfast? Something like that I think. Will let you know how it goes!

~It's been super wet/soggy here the last 2 weeks or so and I have (almost) completely failed at making myself go ride my bike in these conditions. I rode once this week and ended up a complete mess and it was not fun.

~In good news, I don't mind running in the rain. My 'training plan' this year so far has gone something like this: Wake up, look out the window. Is it raining? >Go run. Is it dry? >Go ride. Let's just say this week I have run quite a few more miles than I've ridden. At some point I'll probably start freaking out about how far behind I am when it comes to bike fitness, but for now I'm enjoying running in these conditions.

~I just said I'm enjoying running, and for the most part I am, but the last few miles yesterday I would NOT have expressed it that way. I bonked hard and it was ugly. I kinda of thought it might happen as I knew I was taking a risk going out to run for 2+ hours with no fuel... But I haven't bonked on my 90-100 minute runs and I can ride 2.5 hours without fuel now no problem so thought maybe I could do that on the run now too... I thought I'd try anyway, knowing full well that I was at risk of walking home... Not sure if it was just the combo of all the miles I've been running recently or what, but yikes. I breifly broke my 'no sugar' thing after that run and made myself an Osmo Recovery shake which was absolutely fantastic by the way. More on Osmo coming in another post (after I have more experience with it), but I'm psyched to say that the Coeur Team is sponsored by Osmo this year so I'll be using that exclusively as my hydration strategy going forward and I am seriously looking forward to experimenting further with it once this no sugar challenge thing is over.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


It's February! Sort of an exciting month for me, given that it's the month I will turn 40. FORTY. Part of me is super proud to turn 40 and feel like I'm in such a good spot in my life, but still, FORTY sounds so.damn.old and how is it that *I* am that old already??

I know I know... tons of women are awesome at 40, even better than when they were 30... and I think I fall into that category too... I can honestly say that at 40 I'm in a better place all around than I was when I turned 30! But it's still just weird because 40 sounds old but I don't feel old.

And even at 40, I still find myself trying to learn more about anything and everything! I find myself more than ever wanting to challenge some of my own personal long held beliefs... So I experiment on myself and pay attention and see how it all works out. With the Nutrition Challenge I took on a few weeks ago my current experiment has me eating lower and lower carb diet and while all my previous experience and knowledge would lead me to believe I'd be bonking left and right on all my workouts, experience right now is disproving that, which I find quite interesting.

I'm not like in ketosis or anything (and don't worry I am NOT starving myself!!), but my carb intake recently has been limited mostly to fruit and maybe 1/2 a sweet potato here or there. And in the first 7 days I ate this way I definitely finished workouts with less energy than I started, but this past week I've noticed a shift for sure. I feel quite steady energy all day, even during shorter workouts of higher intensity, and have experienced no bonking at all. I get tired still, but it's not the type of tired that feels like it could be cured by a Coke... it's more the type of tired that is cured simply by rest, you know? I think there is a difference.

Yesterday morning we swam 5K. The intent of that- since it was a long workout- was that it would all be relaxed effort but as it goes when 4 athletes are swimming together, it all ended up being a race harder than I intended... part of me was happy that I was capable of putting out a decent effort for that long, but then since I was trashed for the rest of the day, I'd have to admit that it was too hard of an effort given my current fitness level in the water. BUT it didn't feel like I needed sugar to fix it. So I think that's a plus!

I'm still doing a lot of my running at MAF and it's super cool to watch the improvement come little by little. I've repeated the same 'long' run route the last few weeks... watching HR and strictly capping it at MAF which requires walking up some of the longer/steeper hills... Frustrating at first for sure but SO WORTH IT when you see how much better you feel a month later! First time I ran this route (3 weeks ago) it took me 1:46. The following week it was 1:42, then last week 1:39 and today 1:37! Same HR each time. Today I could feel I was moving along faster than before but it wasn't harder which was super cool. And since it's all at MAF I know I'm running at an effort that allows my body to utilize mostly fat for fuel... In an experiment of N=1, I'm purposely choosing to skip carbs before and after just to see what happens and how I feel and surprisingly (shockingly, really!) I can say I feel fine! I definitely remember a time when I would have taken a gel for any run of 90' or more but I don't feel like my body requires that anymore which is pretty cool. I am consuming a much higher amount of fat and protein and still a TON of plants so I don't feel like I'm depriving my body of nutrition, but I am withholding added sugar that I've always believed athletes NEED to survive. Turns out, at least in my case, I don't need sugar like I thought!

I don't envision myself trying to race without carbs this year, and when I start doing higher intensity training sessions I'll make sure I am fueling them so I can get the most out of myself, but for right now I am enjoying this little fueling experiment. I definitely don't think all athletes need to experiment with this, but right now I'm enjoying my ability to disprove some of my own long held and very firm beliefs about nutrition and fueling...