When I was at Fitbloggin’ I got to meet the cool people at PVbody. They were giving away some pretty nifty fitness duds, including this top which looked kinda silly on me…especially over my pajama top.
but pretty awesome on Junior.
Anyway, they have a great deal going, which reminds me of getting a weekly delivery of CSA veggies-in-a-box. You never know what you’re going to get, but it’s pretty awesome to be surprised. Instead, they send a beautifully wrapped package of workout clothes each month, for not much $$. You know how expensive workout duds can get, right?
I got my first box yesterday. I was jumping up and down. All pretty, wrapped in tissue paper, like a present.
I open it up and it’s a beautiful top! And some pants that looked, possibly, frighteningly too small. Oh well, it’s free returns/exchanges. These are seriously high-quality workout duds.
The bottoms are made by Nux. They are all scrunchy at the bottom (ruching?) and I feel a little dubious.
But I put them on, and …. woweee! They fit!
Mr. McBody came through after I tried them on and said, “O boy! What are you wearing?!?” Needless to say, he approved. 🙂
They are comfy. They are nifty. I’m all excited! And I get another box next month??
So, this is the deal. You, too, can get a box of awesome workout clothes every month. I can vouch for the super high quality. They are worth about $150 per box, but you pay less than $40.ANNNNNND… as a friend/blog reader of yours truly, you can get an extra 20% off. How cool is that. You fill out a little quiz where you indicate your size, the kind of sport(s) you like to do (running/yoga/cycle etc), your favorite colors and styles. Then voila, they put together a box for you, and when it arrives at your house it’s like your birthday. But every month. If something doesn’t fit, it gets returned super easy and free. I was sure those pants were not going to fit me, but I was wrong.
I haven’t been a person who (knock wood) who has had a lot of trouble with sleep. I LOVE sleep and I haven’t generally had much trouble falling or staying asleep. Getting up has been another story.
Anyway- recently the good folks at WeGoHealth invited me to try out a couple of health related apps. I am, as many of you know, a real fan of gadgets and gizmos when it comes to monitoring my health and/or fitness. So I jumped at the chance. Several of the manufacturers and inventors were going to be at the Body 2.0 fair in San Francisco so I wanted to try them out before meeting them in person.
One of the apps that really caught my attention was an iPhone app called SleepTime. The idea is that you put the phone near your pillow, then the app monitors your deep sleep, light sleep and awake times. The deep (REM) sleep is really necessary for health. It’s when all the good renewal happens. BUT if you wake up during a REM period, it can be very disorienting and disruptive.
SleepTime keeps track of your various wake/sleep states, and makes it a goal of waking you up only from light sleep. So if, say, you want to get up at 7:00am, it will track your sleep and wake you up during your lightest phase between 6:30 and 7:00. I learned the hard way that it is MUCH better to get up at 6:30 during light sleep, than it is to wake up at 6:55 from REM sleep.
Pretty much every night for the past week, I’ve woken up (thanks to SleepTime) during light sleep. I’ve been exercising and eating well, and feeling alert and energetic. But one night I set my “window” too narrowly (I designated a 10 minute rather than a 30 minute window). The app did not have any choice but to wake me up during REM. WELL…
I woke up all emotionally jangled. I’d been in the depths of some disturbing, upsetting dream. I couldn’t fully “wake up” no matter how much coffee I had. I had had a full 8 hours so I should have felt rested, but I didn’t. In fact, I felt like crap all day. I made some truly horrible food choices, things I had not eaten in months/years. I chose not to exercise because I was just too exhausted. In fact, it was a total bust of a day until I went to bed again that night. What a wreck.
I was amazed to wake up from light sleep the next morning and feel 10000% better. That next day I made great food choices and worked out and generally felt awesome. It was like (no pun intended) night and day. I’m not kidding!
We all know that sleep deprivation – not enough sleep – can lead to stress, high blood pressure and weight gain from increased cortisol (stress hormone). I never thought I had an “issue” with sleep because I knew I slept “enough.” But it’s about quality, not just quantity.
I’ve been in touch with the folks at Azumio, Inc (who make the app). They also make some other nifty health apps called Instant Heart Rate, Stress Check and Stress Doctor (biofeedback to decrease stress – cool huh?). I will be reviewing those later on. Anyway, these apps are all free. I encourage you to download them and try them out. People who leave comments here after trying one of the free apps are eligible to get a code for an updated, more nifty version. Give them a try!
Popchips always has a great presence at Fitbloggin and this year they were out with their silly photo booth which was lots of fun. They also had many samples of their tasty new Tortilla Popchips (yum!) for us to try. I loved the Chili Limon ones.
Anyway, the generous Popchips people have offered up a CASE (12 packs!!) of these yummy snacks for one of my blog readers, as well as provided some delicious recipes to share that have particular “pairings” with the various new flavors.
Do you want a case of Popchips coming to your house? I bet you do!! So get on it! The deadline is this Wednesday, October 10th at 3:00pm PST.
Leave a comment here telling me which new flavor of Popchips you’re most excited to try, and what you’ll pair them with. (be creative)
And for everyone — Popchips has teamed up with chef Aaron Sanchez to share these recipes.
My favorite was the ceviche with the Chili Limon chips. Doesn’t this look good???
Ceviche with chili limón tortilla popchips
Usually the fish in a ceviche is trimmed into large chunks, but for scooping up this tangy-sweet version with brightly flavored and spicy chili limón tortilla popchips, I’ve trimmed the fish into small cubes, 1/4- to 1/2-inch in size. The result not only makes a ceviche that’s perfect for scooping, but also a speedy version that “cooks” in the fresh lime juice in less than an hour.
Makes 6 servings
1 pound fresh halibut filets (or any firm-fleshed white fish, such as haddock, red snapper or sea bass), diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup fresh lime juice (from approximately 8 to 10 limes)
1 fresh red Serrano chili, seeds discarded, chili thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 small mango, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 scallion, white and green parts thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1. In a medium-sized glass bowl, combine the fish with the lime juice, Serrano and salt. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours. The fish cubes will “cook” in the lime juice until they are opaque.
2. Half an hour before serving, stir the mango, scallion, cilantro and olive oil into the ceviche. Cover and refrigerate 20 minutes to let the flavors meld. Serve with chili limón tortilla popchips for scooping up the ceviche.
Grilled Chicken Cemitas and Garlic-Chipotle Love with salsa tortilla popchips
These sandwiches are like Mexican subs—overstuffed with all sorts of goodness, bursting with flavor, and topped with a mind-blowingly delicious sauce of roasted garlic pureed with smoky chipotles. Have a lot of napkins on hand! salsa tortilla popchips bring a crispy counterpoint to all the juicy sandwich fillings and a bright flavor that can withstand everything going on inside that bun.
Makes 4 servings
For the Chipotle Love Sauce:
1 cup of canola oil
12 garlic cloves
3 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
zest of one lime
2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Cemitas:
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 ripe Haas avocado
Juice of 1 lime
4 cemita rolls or hamburger rolls with sesame seeds
1 cup refried beans, warmed (from 1 15-ounce can)
8 ounces Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese, grated
Sliced ripe tomato
Thinly sliced lettuce
Fresh cilantro leaves
1. Make the Chipotle Love: In a dry medium heavy nonreactive sauce pot place oil and garlic cloves and cover with foil and place in 300 degree oven for 45 minutes till garlic has browned and become soft. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Then place remaining ingredients and cooled garlic oil mix in a food processor and puree till a smooth paste.
2. Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill with the lid down for 10 minutes on high.
3. Split each chicken breast in half horizontally and lay each piece between two pieces of plastic wrap. Pound each breast half until it’s one-quarter inch thick (if you don’t have a meat pounder, use the bottom of a small saucepan). Sprinkle each piece with salt, pepper and cumin on each side.
4. Mash the avocado with the lime juice and season with salt, and warm the refried beans on the stovetop or in the microwave.
5. Grill the chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes, turning once. Set aside and keep warm. Split the buns and brush lightly with olive oil. Grill, cut sides down, until just golden brown, about a minute.
6. To assemble each sandwich, spread the bottom half of each toasted roll with a quarter of the mashed avocado. Top with a chicken breast, then spoon on a quarter of the refried beans. Divide the cheese among the sandwiches, and top with tomato, lettuce and a sprinkle of cilantro. Drizzle on a generous amount of Chipotle Love and top with the remaining bun half. Cut each sandwich in half before serving.
And the winner is….Suz!!Congrats, Suz. Please email me your postal address so I can let the Popchips folks now. Thanks everyone for participating!
One of the things I have loved the most in this past year has been bringing people along on their first official race. Mary joined me in her first 5k at See Jane Run; Sofia joined me in the Color Run (and went on to do her first half marathon and is now training for her first full marathon — WOOHOO!) and this past weekend, my friend Ericka threw her fears to the wind and joined me in the wackiest race of all – the Muddy Buddy. I don’t even remember how this happened; but I think it was via a Facebook post when I thought she was joking about joining me. Ericka has been my workout buddy with our beloved trainer DJ for several years now – we have sweated together plenty, but she has always declared herself “not a runner” and she was content to cheer me on from afar. I actually have no idea what came over her, but I was so psyched!!
Ericka and I have both had our health battles recently. We celebrated our 50th birthdays, and then I got diabetes and she was hit with Graves disease. Our combined age is 105 (!!!) which put us squarely in the “Women Masters” category for this race. I reminded her that we are in a tiny percentage of 50-year old women with chronic diseases who are participating in athletic events at this level.
I have done a few “fun runs” of 5ks recently, and they truly have been fun for me. But I knew this one was going to be tougher – including off road biking on a mountain bike, likely hills, and those crazy obstacles. If there’s one thing I don’t feel super confident about, it’s my upper arm strength. However, I told Ericka that our aim was to FINISH, and to finish was to win. I really believed that.
We are both writers, and we needed a team name. She came up with “Dirty Wordsters” (haha). I made us matching team shirts (thanks to watching my daughters make dozens of them for their crew team in the past 6 years) and she decorated the bike with dirty words like “filth” and “slime.” We so clever!
Mr. McBody and I picked up Ericka at 5:30am and we drove down to San Jose to this park. Lily’s husband, who grew up there, had already warned me it was “pretty hilly.” Since he was a varsity triathlete at Cal, this was something I took very seriously. Ack. HILLS. Not my favorite.
We got there, jumped around to warm up, visited the PortaPotty, and tried to relax. But I was hecka nervous. I heard the race announcer say that the first mile was “straight uphill.” NICE!
We were in the last wave to start, the “Women Masters.” (ie, the old ladies) I was relieved to see other women our age. It’s not often you go up to other women and ask, “How old are you?” but I did just that and when the other women said “53” I jumped up and gave them high-fives. Yeah baby, we rock. I was feeling pretty fierce and ready.
We moved on up and saw the other waves taking off. We saw some people walking their bikes right from the Start line. I kept saying, I’m gonna walk, I’m gonna walk, but then when I was at the Start and I saw everyone on their bikes, shame took hold of me and I was like, well, I’ll ride, until I can’t. I’m actually glad I did.
The starting horn went off and I got on the bike. I was glad to make it up a few hundred yards before it just got TOO steep. At that point I’d say 90% of the participants were walking, pushing their bikes. Damn that bike was HEAVY. Pretty soon the “runners” were overtaking us (bike members went first, then runners). But they weren’t really running either. Like I said, it was hecka steep. And it went on. And on. I felt like I was eating dust, just heaving for every breath. It went on for a full mile. Just up. And up. And up. It felt pretty darn grim.
At the top of the hill was our first obstacle, and time for me to leave the bike in the “Bike Drop” for my buddy. Of course she had passed me by, walking! We climbed on this spiderwebby thing, up and over. I got a tad bit freaked at the very top, but managed it OK.
Then it was more rolling hills, run, bike, obstacle. Each of us had 3 bike parts and 3 running parts. I was jealous that her first bike was this gorgeous downhill section! But then I got to run that as well.
What can I say? It felt long. It felt really, really hot. We were out in open fields with NOTHING out there but for a dirt trail. But it was okay. There were lots of other people around us – ie, we weren’t being left in the dust – including what seemed to be many younger people (what???). We kept passing the same folks off and on.
The obstacles, which I had been nervous about, weren’t too bad at all. There was a mud tunnel, which I have to say we were very prepared for. We do a lot of low crawling and walking in our trainer workouts. The high things were not so bad. Until the very end (I’ll get to that).
The entire course took us about an hour and a half (OK, exactly an hour and a half)! Which had been my optimistic estimate. I’d looked at other race results and saw that many women our age were coming in between 1:30 and 2:00. So I was hoping for 1:30 at best, and well, whatever it took, as long as we finished.
For the final leg, Ericka was on bike and I was on foot. She had to wait for me for a while because we were supposed to do the final 3 obstacles, including the Mud Pit, together.
Eventually I showed up. We were both pretty tired, but stoked that it was almost over. The first obstacle was a some sort of giant ladder climbing thing. (I think) Not bad. The second one was a rope climb over this blue wooden wall. It didn’t LOOK that bad. I grabbed the rope. Then started to walk up. Hahahaha. The wall was covered in something very slippery — lard? butter? soap?? In any case, we tried and tried and after a few minutes just looked at each other and said, “Uh-uh.” We walked around it.
Then it was time for the infamous MUD PIT. Ooooh boy!! I will say that the cold wet mud felt REALLY GOOD after all that dry dusty heat. We crawled under the flag ropes like a couple of mud puppies. Laughing.
Then we had a little female mud-wrestling moment.
Then clambered out. I don’t think I’ve ever truly understood the word “clamber” until then.
Then we ran through the finish holding hands. Then we got our medals. We were PSYCHED!
Then it was shower (aka garden hose) time. Boy did we need that.
To say that we were filthy was an understatement. But that was the point, right? It was darn hard. It was challenging. We really, really pushed. But in the end I am proud to say that we came in with 43 other teams behind us, most of them younger than we are. That made me feel really good. Not bad for 52 and 53, huh?
So many people asked me, “WHY on earth would you voluntarily sign up for something like that?” And looked even more incredulous when I answered, “Because I’d never done one.” Ha ha, I know, most people haven’t, and have no desire to. But for me, it’s about changing it up, finding new things to do to stay active and most importantly to have fun.
What’s the wackiest, craziest or most fun race you’ve ever done?
Summertime is usually a kind of sparsely-populated time around Weight Watchers. A lot of people are traveling, on vacation, or just not in the mood. Maybe they’re out earning lots of activity points. But at any rate, it’s not usually one of our busiest seasons. But this year, for whatever reason, my Wednesday night meeting is hopping. Last week was a huge one. I had over a dozen “celebrations” (where people are recognized for milestone weight losses, from 5 lbs on up) and the most fantastic one was Henry, who celebrated his 100 lb (actually 103 lbs) loss. (and counting)
Henry joined about a year and a half ago. At first he just charged out of the gate with huge losses every week. Then things started slowing down. Then he hit a plateau. And his weight went up a bit. And up. It went up and down. But through it all, he never stopped coming. Even when things were not going the way he wanted, he smiled and said, “Well, I’m here.” He came to meetings no matter if the scale told him good news or not.
A few months ago, we had a “Success Stories Live” event, in which we profiled several really successful members from our local group. One of Henry’s relatives was featured. At that night, he came up to me and said, “I’m going to be one of those people up there” (being featured) next year. And I saw that look of absolute determination in his face. From that night on, he just dove back into the program one hundred percent. It has been amazing to watch. Once he decided, it was pretty much all but done.
I could not be more overjoyed for him and his family. He first joined because his baby son had some medical issues. He wanted to be there to be a good role model, to provide for his family and to prevent health issues in himself. He is doing that all in such an amazing way. Add this to the face that Henry WORKS IN AN ICE CREAM STORE and also is a cake baker. Whaaa? Yes. He is a professional baker who works in an ice cream store and he just lost 100 pounds.
(side note: he actually baked the delicious wedding cake for my triathlon buddy Lily’s wedding this weekend!!!!)
It is so inspiring to have Henry sitting in our meeting room, which is one reason I think the meeting is busting at the seams, especially for a summertime meeting. We have had to bring out extra chairs the past couple of weeks, which is great. The energy is high and the contagion of his success is spreading.
Every year, Weight Watchers staff have a special event with awards and recognitions and stuff. There is a special award for leaders who have had members who have lost 100 lbs or more during the previous year. I have never gotten that award. It’s really only a small handful of leaders who do. I have looked around at those leaders and thought, those members have really stuck with it. It’s a huge milestone and it takes so much dedication and commitment. I’ve had people come in with the goal of losing 100 lbs, but at some point they have drifted off. Henry is the first person I’ve had who has hung in there through many ups and downs. I am fully confident that he will reach his final goal this year. I’m so happy for him and proud of any part I may have played in his achieving it.
Truly one of the highlights of my Weight Watchers career.
Finally – an old fashioned blog post that isn’t a race recap! How ’bout that! I’ve been so busy lately at my newish job – which I really like – but which requires so much paperwork that often at night I am catching up on doing that rather than blogging. I’ve missed it.
Anyway, today I was having an awesome run in the cool foggy woods (we are soooooo lucky to not be in the Heat Wave) and I was mulling over a couple of things (great things to do during a run). I ended up doing several kick-ass hill repeats, which made me feel so strong and happy. And I realized that part of the reason I was doing hill repeats is that last night when I went to see President Obama (!!!!!!!!!) I ended up running into two of my triathlon coaches, Holly and Mark. It was so great to see them. We were all pumped up for this fantastic event.
I think seeing them stayed with me a little bit this morning. So when I saw a hill coming up in front of me, I didn’t slow to a walk as I generally do. I charged UP the hills, especially the steepest ones. And it felt so good. And I felt like part of me had been sparked by seeing them last night, and remembering the hill repeats we did during training, and I wanted that feeling again. I often don’t push myself hard when I’m alone. But I felt “triggered” somehow – in a good way- to do this, thinking of the ways they had pushed me beyond my (perceived) limits.
At Weight Watchers, we often refer to the word “trigger” in a negative way; ie “trigger foods” are those that can start an avalanche of bingey or unhealthy eating. We eat one cracker with peanut butter and before we know it, the jar is gone, or we’ve then gone and eaten half the pantry along with it. Stuff like that. But in this case, I felt like I was “triggered” to do something positive, to do something MORE than I would’ve done without it. I felt kind of shot out of a cannon this morning. And I think it was a combination of things. I was still all high from seeing the President. I had been in contact with my triathlon training coaches. I remembered seeing the TNT Marathon team in the same park on Sunday, and this sign.
(Same statistic goes for triathlons, I think!)
So that combination of “triggers” (as well as getting a text message from a running buddy this morning) all conspired to get me going, out the door, on the trail and not only on the trail but doing hill repeats. And it reminded me of how important it is to be part of a community that shares my healthy and active goals. It pops up and helps me in so many ways.
Another phrase we use at Weight Watchers is “anchors.” Anchors are positive reminders, people, thoughts or images that “anchor” or ground us and keep us from floating off-track or away from our goals. But I also thought about feeling an anchor as a heavy weight, sometimes dragging me down, keeping me stuck to couch or bed or routine.
Triggers and anchors. They can help us or hinder us both. What are yours?
Well, it’s been quite a time for spontaneity around here. I had such a good time at See Jane Run last weekend that I was all excited to do See Jane Tri in the fall. But lo and behold, it’s the same weekend as Fitbloggin’ 2012. BIG conflict! No way I am missing Fitbloggin’ so I was all bummed out about that. Then Pubsgal told me about the Mermaid Tri/Du that was happening – in like 4 days. GULP.
I went through SO many mental contortions this week leading up to the race. First, I thought I’d like to do the duathlon (my first) because I just didn’t have time to get a practice swim in. It was in the Bay, and could be sort of choppy and salty, and who knows how that would go, especially given my not-stellar swim performance at Wildflower. So I was thinking, cool, I’ll just bike and swim.
I have never done a duathlon before. I think I was pretty unclear on the concept. The website had course descriptions for “Duathlon First Run” and “Duathlon Second Run.” I thought… we got to choose which one to do. Hahahahahha! But no. The first run is in place of the swim. Then you bike and run again. OOHHHHH.
I didn’t figure this out until Thursday night, when I proceeded to have some kind of weird tantrum meltdown. I didn’t wannnnt to run twice! Even if it was only 1.5 and 2.5 miles! So then I started contemplating changing my registration to the tri. I went to race packet pickup on Friday afternoon and they told me I could change even at the Very Last Minute on Saturday morning. I decided to go over and check out the swim course. I saw a bunch of VERY gnarly looking waves and I decided right there, NO WAY.
I was very happy to get up this morning (at 5:00am) and know I was only going to bike and swim. Mr. McBody was feeling kind of low because of a recent bug he’d had, so I told him to stay home and rest. (famous last words) Last night I had packed my little gym bag with all my stuff, but then this morning I thought, I have a tri bag. Maybe I should bring my tri bag. (“But you’re not doing a tri, isn’t that overkill?”) and on and on. I transferred the stuff into the tri bag, put the bike in the car and took off.
I was about halfway to the course when some synapses smashed together and I remembered the little tiny manila envelope with my RACE CHIP in it. Which I did not remember putting into my tri bag. AGHH. I pulled over to the side of the road and frantically pawed through my bag. NO ENVELOPE. I called Mr McBody who was enjoying his rest, and started caterwauling about not having my race chip and that he HAD TO BRING IT TO ME RIGHT AWAY. My friend Christine happened to be working as a registration volunteer at Mermaid, so I also frantically called her and she said they would not give me a replacement chip, that it was coded to me, and I needed mine. So poor Mr McBody got in the car after locating the little envelope in the gym bag.
I was a bit of a basket case when I got to the course. The parking lot was filled up at that point, so I had to park several blocks away. This was ALSO one of the first local races I was doing all by myself with no support crew or person to drop me off. Of course at that point I was infinitely grateful that 1) I had a tri bag; and 2) I had practiced biking with it on at Wildflower. Yay! I very comfortably strapped it on and rode the few blocks to the transition area. I racked my bike and got my stuff all set up and then went to the intersection to wait for Mr. McBody. He got there about 15 minutes before the start and then went back home to rest for real.
This was a smallish race, so things were not one hundred percent clear. I wasn’t quite sure where the Du run was supposed to start, but I followed what looked like a semi crowd and got to the inflatable start thing. I was a little concerned that there was no timing mat underneath it. I still don’t quite get how that works. A bunch of women all crowded together under the thing on a very narrow path that fit about 4 across. I was in the “over 40” start. Then they counted down and the air horn went off, and… there we went.
The first run was actually pretty pleasant. I was going at a nice pace and nothing hurt. It wasn’t bad at all. Sometimes I have a lot of pain in the first mile and I was worried that might be the case, but it was pretty comfortable. I got back to transition and got ready to get on the bike. I knew that my transition was going to be longer than some peoples’ because I was changing from running shoes to bike shoes. Now that I’m used to wearing clips, I’m pretty attached to them (no pun) and didn’t want to risk getting my dumb shoelaces caught, which has happened to me more times than I can count. So I sat on the ground and changed shoes. Changed headgear. Found my gloves. ARGH. They were inside out from the last time (Mt. Diablo?) and all knotted up and I probably wasted two minutes untangling them and getting them on my hands. (NOTE TO SELF!!!!!! Put the gloves right side out before the race!!!!!!!!!!!) I saw Christine cheering for me as I ran toward the bike mount area.
Got on the bike. The route was two loops of absolutely flat road. Which sounds lovely on one hand (it kind of was) but also, flat courses means no downhill and less chance to rest. (my butt) I remembered doing this EXACT course when I was training for the first tri, and it was really, really hard. I remember having the hardest time stopping, starting and turning. I got really tired. It was super hard. I may have almost cried. And I almost cried again this time because I could see how very far I’ve come in less than a year. That was pretty awesome.
The bike ride was good. I enjoyed it. AND I got to utter three words that I have NEVER ONCE SPOKEN during a bike race, ever: “On your left.” Yeah, I passed people! Sure, a ton of people (more than I can count) passed me, too, but people, I have NEVER passed a SINGLE PERSON on a bike. Ever. Until today. So imagine my shock and thrill when I realized I was going to actually do so, maybe a dozen times. It was exhilarating! Woo hoo!
I rode into transition and saw my buddy Lily with her sweetie and sweetie dog, jumping up and down and screaming my name. That was so awesome. Then I changed shoes and headgear AGAIN and went to do the second run. OMG. I had to pee so bad! SO BAD. I knew I wasn’t going to make it but a few hundred yards. Thank goodness for portapotties. But that was a minute or two. Then I got on the path and started running for real. OH the pain! I mean pain! My feet and calves were cramping up and just felt like they were saying “oh hell no you don’t!”
The 1.25 mile out before the turnaround were really, really uncomfortable. I was hobbling, walking, running like a penguin, just trying to find any kind of comfortable position. I just knew I had to run it out and let things loosen up. I stopped and stretched out my Achilles against a light pole. I took more walk breaks than I wanted to. But damn. Then I got to the turnaround and I was like, Come ON, just a mile more, you can DO this. I fiddled around with my iPhone and tried to find the most uplifting, motivating music I could find. Found the song “Safe and Sound” that had been the soundtrack to the video I did with Big Blue Test last year. I think of this as my “Lily” music. I knew she would be at the finish line with Ed and Mosely.
It wasn’t until I was almost at the finish chute that I started feeling good, I mean without pain. I felt like I was going to be able to bring it in strong. So when I got to the last 100 yards I just poured it out. I finished under 2 hours, which seemed like a good thing. Better under than over, right?
Instead of a medal, they gave out cute little necklaces. I like! Very much!
So that was it, my first duathlon. I’d say it was pretty good! It was definitely a heck of a lot more challenging than last week’s 5k. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t killer. And it made me think about what people have said, that there are truly no “easy” races. The faster you get, the more challenging it is because then you’re wanting to place (I do not see this in my future). But no matter what, you’re always pushing yourself to do your own personal best. I put my best out there today, I had fun for the most part (except for a few unfun moments) and I was really glad I’d done it. Another first, done!
Have you had any recent firsts lately? Tell me all about it!
I went into this training weekend for the Wildflower Tri with a great amount of trepidation and maybe some (?) dread. It was already conflicting with a conference that is very important to me and that only takes place every two years (and in California, which never happens!). My buddy Lily wasn’t going to be there because she was in Phillly accepting this huge award. (GO LILY!)
I performed at the conference on Thursday and got to see a friend/author give the keynote speech. Then on Friday morning I had to hit the road early so I could get to the campground while there was still daylight. Yeah, they call Wildflower the “Woodstock of triathlons” because there are thousands of people camping out foot to nose, and there’s a ton of mud and maybe rain and no hotels for miles. I mean MILES. It just isn’t feasable.
I thought that the campground place was only 3 hours away from where the conference was in Southern California (MAN do I live in a huge state!) but it turned out to be six hours away.
Luckily I got there in time to set up my tent while it was still light out. I was feeling just a teeny bit cranky because I was so sad to leave the conference, but I guess I’m one of those “love the one your with” people because pretty soon I was able to shift gears/transition (haha – puns intended) into being with the team and my mentees. We all chipped in to make a group dinner and then we had a meeting with all the other Bay Area TNT tri teams who were there for training weekend. There were a LOT of folks there! I got introduced to the two (TWO!) other people doing the Sprint/Mountain Bike distance, along with Coach Tom, who was going to be our personal coach for the weekend (nice thing about doing sprint, you get a ton of personal attention!). Everyone else was either doing the Olympic or the Half Ironman. I was not wishing I was in either of those groups.
Our coach Dave is a real joker. Even though our swim practice was not supposed to begin until 10:00am, he woke us up at 5:30am by blasting the Darth Vader theme song and walking around the campground with his boom box. NICE. I took my sweet time opening my eyes to the darkness and crawling out of the tent. It was freezing. BOY it was freezing. Like, 37 degrees freezing? And we were going to go swimming? Right.
We did manage to get out of the tents, make some coffee, blink in the sunrise, and get a good breakfast in in plenty of time. I guess that was the point. Coach wanted to make sure we had ample time to go to the bathroom (always very important on race morning!), get all our gear organized and get our heads on straight.
We headed down to the lake around 9:15 for a little pep talk and swim clinic and to get our wetsuits on. I met up with Coach Tom and the other sprinters. He pointed out the orange buoy which we were to swim around. The mile buoy was pretty much out of sight. I was very glad that was not my destination. I wriggled into my wetsuit and swim booties, my Squid Lid and goggles, and hoped that I was not going to have any major panic attacks or breathing issues. Then we waddled out to the pier and jumped in the lake two by two.
It was cold. But it wasn’t PAINFUL cold. People were shrieking and freaking out all around me. I just bobbed around, got my bearings and started in on my “gentle-kind” swimming routine. All I can say is that it wasn’t impossible, and it wasn’t easy. It just was. There were a few moments when I got a little ragged around the edges and I could hear myself struggling a little, breathing wise. I got to the buoy okay. The trip back to the pier seemed to take freaking forEVER. I could see the little figures of coaches standing on the pier, and for the longest time they didn’t seem to ever get any bigger. But I managed to get there and clamber back onto muddy land.
I stripped off my wetsuit, put on a dry top, helmet, got my bike and was ready/nervous to start out on the mountain bike part.
It was just about 10 miles, but.. mountain bike. Hills. Bumpy stuff. Ack. Coach Tom met up with me and the other two women and he was just so reassuring and calming. He’s a big tall bearish guy and very, very calming. He said, “we’re just gonna go out there and have fun.” He was going to be our personal tour guide of the Mountain Bike route and just show us all the turns and changes. I was so so nervous and anxious about this part. In my head I was thinking, if this doesn’t go well, then I’m done. I’m just gonna drop out of racing altogether (for the Wildflower) and I’ll come back as a cheerleader only. We took off. The first part was nice and flat, along the lake, very scenic. OK. Good start. Then we got to this pretty steep hill. I went to switch gears and… switched in the WRONG DIRECTION. Um. Which ground me to a complete halt and I had to get off and push, panting. Boo.
Next hill, I knew better, so I was able to grind up the hill, really hard breathing, but I made it. YAY! More ups and downs, trail riding, bump bump, rocks and holes and sticks and stuff, but I dealt with it. Then there were the hills. They looked like this.
You can see that there are two really big uphills there. They were… intense. But I just set my bike into the lowest gear and counted. One to ten, over and over. I really tried to dig deep. I knew that if I stopped, or got off, my legs were going to protest and that would be the end of it.
And you know what? I stayed on the whole time, through both those big hills and then the final one at the end. See the super steep downhill? That was crazy steep DOWN at the very end. I bawled my face off on that whole downhill. I couldn’t believe I had done it. And I realized that doing the Mountain Bike Tri was not the wimpy thing I had thought. It had taken pretty much all I had. By the time I got down to the parking lot finish I was a huge blubbery mess.
I really have to thank big Coach Tom for seeing me through that day. He was patient, and reassuring, and kind, and I knew that he believed in us. He was a real Ito-Whisperer and I was so amazingly grateful. I found him by his car and bawled some more. And then I felt like I could really do it, and that it was just right – not too hard, not impossible, but not a piece of cake either. It was a pretty overwhelming feeling given all of my doubts and fears this time.
Yeah, my teammates ended up doing the Olympic and Half Iron distances. They’re a bunch of rockstars. But it doesn’t take away how good it felt to be doing the race that felt right for me right now.
It felt awesome to go back to camp and take a lukewarm (brrr) shower.
Getting through that bike ride/swim combo was soooooo huge for me. Huge! The hugest! I am now really looking forward to the tri on May 5th. It’s gonna be awesome. I am also realizing that maybe the Sprint is “my” distance. I don’t have to worry about bonking or getting super dehydrated. (plus, I did remember to hydrate and fuel well this time) I can really challenge myself without half dying. I can feel proud of it.
I had the opportunity to talk to quite a few people this weekend about my “downgrading” to Sprint distance and I’ve come out feeling so much more positive and confident about it. It’s not a stupid wimpy thing for losers. It’s STILL A TRIATHLON. It’s still a challenge. It’s still freaking badass. I had just lost sight of that when I got all caught up in comparing myself to others and even to my own self. But this weekend proved to me that it’s still a real accomplishment and something to be really proud of. I want to thank all the people who reiterated this to me, who showed me kindness in all of my uncertainty. It has meant the world to me.
On Sunday morning we had our practice run. My race distance is only 2 miles, so a mile out and back. When I got to the turnaround arrows I just wasn’t ready, so I kept going, including a big gnarly hill. I did a total of about 4.5 which felt good. On race day I will definitely just do my alloted 2 but it felt good to push it a little on Sunday. I left the race course feeling good and excited about what’s coming on May 5th. Woo!
I can’t believe it’s been more than a week since returning from my TNT Yosemite event weekend, and this is the first chance I’ve had a minute to sit down and recap it. I have to do it today before the memories completely fade!
I have to say that this experience with TNT was completely unique from all of my other seasons. Instead of facing the Big Weekend with some degree of anxiety, dread, fear and adrenaline, I went into this one thrilled to be going on what felt like a weekend vacation. In beautiful Yosemite! Yay!
At sort of the last minute, Junior and her housemate F joined me for the weekend. Junior hadn’t been to Yosemite since she was about eight years old and she was very excited. We arrived just in time to get to the snowshoe fitting and then the Send-Off (pre-event) dinner.
The mood at the dinner was festive and relaxed. People had made flags with their honorees’ names on them and they were draped along the wall, a good reminder of Why We Were Doing This.
Coach Carolyn gave us our instructions for meeting up, carpooling to the SNOW at Badger Pass, meeting up with our respective guides, and taking a picture at 11:11. We were divided into four groups based on exertion level. I was in the “Mighty Mo” or ‘moderate’ group which would later prove to be not-so-moderate, but still just right. I had just done that Tinkerbell Half, and was about to re-enter triathlon training, so I didn’t need to prove anything at this hike.
We did a little candle lighting ceremony and then blew them out as a symbolic gesture to “snuff out cancer.” We were thinking about one of our honorees, my mentor’s husband, who had been planning to come to Yosemite, but was in the hospital back home following some complications. It was a reminder of Coach Carolyn’s words about life not always going as planned. Randy had grappled with deciding to come to the event weekend, but the doctors had reassured her that her husband would be safe and cared for in the hospital. This lady has been through so much.
When we woke up, these nice mats were outside of our hotel room doors:
After breakfast we drove out to Badger Pass. Yosemite is so breathtakingly gorgeous, pictures can never really do it justice.
We got up to Badger Pass and there was SNOW! We put on our snowshoes… which took about half an hour of grunting, moaning and dealing with buckles and such. Finally… ta da!
Then we split up into our respective groups and headed out with our guide. UPHILL. Going uphill on snowshoes at 7,000 feet elevation is… well, it’s no walk in the park. I was winded after about twenty yards.
It was also pretty darn cold, in spite of the sunny weather. Here’s teammate Dorothy holding a hand warmer packet up to her frozen nose. Nose warmer?
At 11:11am we found ourselves near what looked like a giant flaming snow cupcake. You see how my mind works.
Here’s our trusty guide Zach, who was infinitely patient with our sometimes high-maintenance (ahem) group of women.
We got to the top of the ridge and had us a nice lunch break on the sunny rocks. This is not something you get during marathons and triathlons!
It was so pristine and beautiful up there!
On the way back down, we separated out to do solo meditations for a few minutes. I found a tree to lean on and just soak up the peace and quiet for a while. It was one of my favorite parts of the whole hike.
We got back down to the lodge after about five and a half hours of snowshoeing. Which felt “just right” in terms of a damn good workout, a beautiful hike, but not horribly painful. I had gotten a good day’s work in there.
When we arrived down to the Valley we got the sad news that Randy’s husband had been transferred to the ICU and was in very grave condition. My buddy Jon volunteered to drive her down to the hospital, over 4 hours away, so she could be with him right away. This is what team spirit and our mission is about.
The rest of us celebrated the end of our season and our hikes, thinking of them and sharing a moment of silence.
The next morning we walked up to the beautiful Yosemite falls for some photo ops.
Then it was the amazing Ahwahnee Hotel for their insanely delicious brunch. What a way to wrap it all up.
With this event, I earned my Team in Training Triple Crown pin for participating in three different sports: marathon, triathlon and hike team. It felt good.
Hike Team was very very different from other “endurance” events but it was a welcome change of pace and something I’d definitely do again at some point. They have incredible hikes to the Grand Canyon and other stunning locales.
I’m not fundraising for the Triathlon team this season because I’m mentoring the team and will be putting my efforts toward supporting my mentees. This is the last chance you’ll have to support me and my amazing team until… next time. 😉
All in all, it was a beautiful, active, inspiring experience. I recommend for anyone who is interested in being part of an active team that’s working for a good cause. Thumbs up.