30.8.11

Facts and Figures

There are two kinds of runners in our house. One who keeps records via a trusty garmin and plans their schedule obsessively; One who sticks to some vague idea of distance, runs without a watch, and is, of the two, a better runner. Yes, I am the fact keeping, figure analyzing runner and can't understand how Stu doesn't even wear a watch - he just checks the clock before he goes and when he returns. I wasn't always so hardcore. But then I got a Garmin 405 for my birthday in March and voila - all the good info I could care to know. Like, exactly how fast was I going when I crashed my bike?


I try not to be too obsessive about my stats but when I come home and I can see that I ran an 'easy' 12k at a 5:52 average pace, I think, nice, that'a girl, you're getting really good at this. But you have to be careful with that kind of thinking and knowledge. Because knowing leads to cockiness and then you go out too hard on your next run and then I'll be writing a post called flunk and fail. On the bike I can see my cadence - get it up, get it up - I coach myself. And those aren't the only stats I can see. I can track my shoe kilometres, see how many I've put in on the trail vs. the paths. Handy when I'm contemplating purchasing new ones. I can look at the calendar and see that I put in five hours of training last week. Those are mere minutes when you think there were over a thousand finishers for Ironman Canada on the weekend moving continuously for over nine hours.

It's not just running or biking stats these days. Our lives are consumed by numbers. Converting grams to ounces, tracking calories, measuring everything we eat. Thank you Apple for our iphones and the apps which have come in so handy. Right now we're using My Fitness Pal to keep track of our calories. It's great because 1. it was free and 2. you can scan bar codes. The app allots me 1470 calories/day if I want to loose .5 lbs per week. This doesn't include exercise so some days I can eat more if I have a long workout.

I know though you really want to find out if this eating plan is actually working. I have been over the recommended 1200 each day and have averaged about 1550 over the last three days. I won't know until tomorrow (weekly weigh in) for sure and I think my number will be skewed due to the arrival of a good ol' bloating inducing, water retaining period but I think it's working. Overall I am feeling really good on this plan. I feel lighter, I'm not as gassy or bloated, and the feeling is mutual with hubby. I am tired of salads. The real answer tomorrow with a new statistics bar with the update.

24.8.11

Feeble - Spartan Sprint Race Review

Here we are, team In4It, all smiling and optimistic about the course ahead. Some of us trained more than others - at least, we pushed our bodies in manners we thought would help us. I can't speak for my teammates, only myself, but this course made me feel feeble, physically and mentally. Truth be told this is why this post has taken so long and is actually only been written due to a specific request for a race review. If I had my way I wouldn't be back to dwell on the subject as I'm trying hard to put the race behind me. But you need to know this: Stu finished 38th overall out of over 1100 people. He should be writing this review not me, he's amazing at this stuff.

Coming off an amazing high from the Warrior Dash I had high hopes and expectations for myself at the Spartan. I knew before we even arrived that the obstacles were going to be harder. I knew when we arrived they were hard by the number of the competitors on the course we could see doing burpees. The obstacles were in this order:

1. Fire jump (lame)
2. Hay bale scramble (pushed people outta-my-way)
3. Tunnel (more like greenhouse)
4. Up and over a rock (my best obstacle)
5. Bucket carry (f-me!)
6. Balloon blow up (huh?)
7. Brick haul (where I used my assets)
8. 8' Wall (where Lisa put the men to shame)
9. Horizontal climbing wall (not doable by anyone less that 6' tall)
10. Mud crawl under barbed wire (not really muddy)
10. Balance beams (must practice)
12. Cargo net (could have been higher)
13. Javelin toss (no skill here)
14. Spartan dodge

Before you read any further I will give you this disclaimer: it gets ugly. Not happy and peppy, ugly. I was mentally and physically doing really good until the bucket carry. As the volunteer kindly passed me my buckets he said 'oh, those are heavy'. I should have traded buckets. I am not weak but I could barely lift these things. Then some chick says, 'if you can't move get out of the way'. Where the f am I supposed to go? Have you not noticed the course is a single track and passing is impossible? At this point I become physically and mentally defeated. The buckets clearly are not all the same weight and this frustrates me to no end. I wait part way up the long hill for Lisa knowing she isn't too far behind. We walk it like nearly everyone else, blow up our balloons and head on our way. Brick pull. Those suckers were heavy but doable. I am now just a ways behind Lisa and hope my cardio will pull me through. 8' wall. No rope, no mini ledge half-way up. So, I do burpees, 20 of them, instead of even trying the wall. Plus it's only about 5' wide and there's too many people lined up. I hate burpees. Lisa however takes one amazing leap and is up and over the wall; Jaws of men drop everywhere. Carry-on, it's only 20 burpees, mentally trying to pep myself up (not really working). Have I mentioned it's blistering hot out (27 or so degrees) and there has been NO water on the course? So we arrive at the horizontal wall climb. Essentially this is impossible by anyone less than 6' tall because the grips are over 5' apart. This course is not girl-friendly and I'm seriously discouraged because I didn't come here to do burpees, I came here to do obstacles and feel good about myself and now I don't and I just want to yell the F word really loud and tell someone this is stupid and I quit. Mud crawl. This isn't mud but whatever, it's not burpees. Balance beams. You get only one try? 20 more burpees. Cargo net. No burpees. Javelin toss - missed, 20 more burpees. So I did 80 burpees before I managed to cross the line not caring if the Spartans knocked me flat on my feeble ass.

Part of the problem was my mind-set was already thrown off by the extreme disorganization before the race. Package pickup was a gong show. Finding the start wasn't really all that well marked - and I couldn't imagine having to be bused in from McMahon. Bag drop was small and chaotic. Five minutes before our heat we found out we needed wrist bands from COP. The start of the course had two tight corners in less than 50m. The course itself was nice except that it was single track and so you couldn't pass - thus I ended up walking when I could have been running. The obstacles were tight/small/not wide and you were often lined up waiting to do them. At the end of the race there was water - but you had to pour it yourself. It was hot, I was cranky. I know so many other people had a great time but I didn't. Would I go back next year? I don' t know. There was so much to be desired - equally weighted buckets, better pre-race info and organization, doable obstacles for the short. Yes it was the Spartan's first time in Calgary but it wasn't the first race they've ever hosted so all the pre-race disorganization shouldn't have happened. Am I being too hard, maybe. But I've helped organize quite a few races and I've seen much much better from first timers. The race is over though, it's behind me, and yesterday Stu couldn't keep up with me on the bike so that clearly means I am not feeble.

Here we are post race, a little muddy and a lot weary.


21.8.11

Food, Glorious Food

I have come to conclude that if I'm going to schedule myself healthy that includes not only subscribing to a strategic and thought-out running program but also to a arranged and calculated eating plan. Well ok, Stu concluded this when he brought home a book from the library recommended by one of his co-workers. I am on-board though. And when you get to bring home such a lovely bounty from the farmer's market, who can't help but be excited!

By no means are we junk-aholics in this house. We don't buy chips, pop, candy. We eat our veggies, lean meats, fruits, whole grains daily, weekly, monthly. We don't cook with excess fats. We are though, most likely, eating portions we assume to be appropriate. Or snacking off M's tray. The plan calls for a daily balance of carbs (50%), proteins (25%), and fats (25%). And when I say carbs that's not strictly from cereals and breads, but carbs from fruits and veggies too. It's a good plan, a balanced plan.

So, a plan. I like the plan, except... The plan calls for roughly 1200 calories a day. Mallory eats more than that these days! Stu weighs 50lbs more than me so logistically he needs more calories than I do. Stu is lean at best, I don't need an emaciated husband. There are formulas out there to decide your base calories - what your body needs to simply function, not necessarily move - about 10x your weight in pounds. Ok, already over the 1200 calorie/day recommendation. Then there's the calories needed to move around - I am chasing a toddler after all, x20% of your base. Then, there's the calories I burn exercising, an hour is roughly 450 (if not more!) Therefore this plan is about 800 calories short of my daily expenditure. I'm going to lose a pound every 4.5 days! Hmm, I don't think so.

I find the plan comes up short with veggies & fruits - so I'm going to add those in as I see necessary. No one got fat eating bananas right? I will continue with my full fat milk, cheese, and yogurt. If whole grains are good for you then why aren't whole milk products? Blah blah blah calories and fat - a cup of whole milk vs. 1% yields only 50 more calories. Butter per volume has no more calories than canola oil. I ranted previously about fat and the (thankfully) changing mindsets with regards to animal and saturated fats. Saturated fats aren't the whole story when it comes to your cholesterol numbers, as seen below from my recent blood work.


So with my little tweaks, more fruit and veggies, full fat dairy, I figure my calorie consumption will likely be an extra 200 calories/day on top of the plan. I also intend to have a recovery snack post working out. This will be roughly 250 calories - a cup of chocolate milk plus a yummy homemade recovery cookie.


So what's the point of doing the plan if I'm not going to follow it to a tee and I'm going to ignore half the advice? Because the foundation of the plan is still good - portion control, more frequent and controlled snacking, and a meal plan so there's no more 'what's for dinner?'. Even adding in full fat dairy, more fruit and veg, and the recovery snack, I should still have a daily deficit of calories yielding some weight loss but hopefully some body fat % loss in particular. We start on Wednesday for good and are going to do a two week trial to see how we feel - hungry, starving, more energy? Mostly I can't wait to dig into those veggies - look out radishes, here I come!

17.8.11

Form

Today was that run we all hope to have, the one where after struggling for a few kilometers, runner's high suddenly kicks in. Ahhh. Today was that run that I wish I didn't have to come home to go to the dentist but rather that I could have kept running and running and running (that would equate to three more kms in case you were wondering just how far I thought I could keep going.)

One thing I'm constantly trying to mind these days is my form. Am I standing up tall? Yes. Am I striking mid-foot? Yes. Cadence? Um. Leaning from the ankles? Um. Exactly what am I referring to? Good form - as described in the video below.




This isn't the first I've seen about good form. Runner's World put out this article with regards to form and I thought, man, me, run like Ryan Hall? He's a freakin' white Gazelle, there is no way I'm ever going to bound around the asphalt like that and have hang-time between strides. I have never counted my steps but I can tell you that even with runner's high there was no way I was hitting 180 steps, I was running much too slow, though surprisingly fast, for that this morning. So I have to pick when exactly I'm going to put it all together - posture, mid-foot strike, cadence, ankle lean. Speed work I imagine but who can even begin to imagine counting to 180 when you're trying to remember to breathe? Even trying to count 45 steps in 15 seconds seems near impossible. And the ankle lean. Oh the ankle lean. Theoretically if I lean then my turn-over should be faster. I think about it though and I'm afraid that I'm going to smash my face into the pavement from the excess gravity. See, men, and most elite women runners, they don't have a busty chest. I'm not saying I'm the bustiest girl on the block but when you lean the girls forward they do have a little weight behind them that just wants to go down, despite the best sports bra in my repertoire. But ok, my husband doesn't snivel about my chest so why should I? Maybe he can come run behind me and count my steps - if he can keep his eyes down and focused where they should be that is ;). And well, if I can't count steps or lean appropriately then I'm quite happy to have runner's high and do 11k in 1:02.

14.8.11

Fantabulous - Endure: Run Woman Show Review

The word fantabulous as supplied by Lisa for the 50 F post challenge has this to say about the word: It carries the same level of importance or "extreme expression" as Ginormous - aka, greater than it's original singular elements.

That is exactly what Endure is, fantabulous. I was so glad I got to experience Melanie and her amazing work. Keeping up with Melanie and her beautiful form, running strong and graceful, she led us through the park on paths and through fields. With those same paths being so close to home and ones which I frequent these days I saw them in a whole new light and now will return to them with a fuller sense of purpose and power. Melanie's narrative was intelligent, hilarious, poignant. I laughed with my fellow participants (we were not merely spectators) and took moments to use Melanie's narrative as introspect on my own life. Endure is the monologue of Melanie Jones that takes us on her 26.2 journey and the life which brought her there. Using the marathon as both a metaphor for life and honest realism of what it takes to run that far, her work not only speaks to runners who have been or going through training but also to any person who has, is, or will overcome personal trials which force us to find our true selves. Endure helps us see the lighter side of life and understand how our reactions are honest decisions to be in control of our lives. As we walked back from the final scene to Eau Claire, Graham the production manager caught up with me and asked me to sum up the show in one word. I chose humanity. I chose humanity because every person has raw emotions, not just runners. Emotions which we can either tap into and direct into positive energy or the alternate - a few of whom we saw lingering on the banks of the Bow river. I left Endure empowered to run. I also left empowered as a runner - proud to be part of that tribe. There's one show left and I strongly recommend you get the remaining few tickets before they're gone.

9.8.11

Field (in a 400m Track)

Yesterday morning I found myself needing to stretch my legs out and go for a run. My thought was that if I ran an easy 3k then returned for a cold bath that the soreness from the uphill climbs and the downhill descents would ease away. As I jogged around Surrey I stumbled upon a high school field - in a 400m track. Perhaps it was the excess oxygen running near sea level or perhaps general insanity but I had to employ a whole lot of will power to keep myself from running repeats around the track. I'm sure with the fatigue from the Dash repeats would have been embarrassing and well downright stupid. So I plodded back to my brothers oh so craving some speed.

Thankfully (I think, I might be speaking too soon) I am going to start the Run Less Run Faster program. Running three times a week - one a track workout, with two cross training sessions (biking!) seems right up my alley. And, conveniently the program is 18 weeks - perfect for Vegas!!! Yep the hubby and I are heading down for four nights of child free vacationing. While the plan calls for some initial mileage more than I think I'm capable of in the first few weeks, I'm going to try my best and ramp up steadily so I'm hitting the targets by the last 12 weeks of the program. The runs I'm most worried about are the long slows. I just don't do either well, especially the slow part. I think it is definitely time to secure a running buddy or two to get me through. The other option is to do the miles on the trails where I know I'm slower. This will also give me the advantage of running more hills thus building strength. Or I will stick to a bit of madness and mix it up. After all, I can't be totally structured and predictable can I?

I rarely get a good race photo if I even get one at all. Somehow though I mustered a smile and a bound for the camera during the dash and so I got this decent photo. I actually look like I'm enjoying myself don't I? Some other notes on the dash - my garmin was way off. It registered a distance of 3.42. With this distance and a time of 34:43 I was dejected. But! When the results with our paces were posted we realized the course was actually 4.94km. Phew! I then am super happy with my time and was in the top 10% in my age category. Even better, hubby was super fast. He was 10th overall in his age category, 101 for all the men, and 108th finisher overall - out of 4000! I can't wait to be back running on home turf. We went on a shopping spree at Ice Breaker so I need to test out all the new gear.


7.8.11

Fierce - Warrior Dash Race Recap- He Said She Said



On Saturday we raced the Warrior Dash in beautiful Whistler. It was hot and sunny and festive. As I ran the race with hubby and brother I thought I'd do a race recap in a he said she said style. SB is Stu (hubby), JP is Jared (bro), and KB is me.

Pre-Race Thoughts

Nervous? SB-no, JP-no, Kb-no. Excited? Hell ya!

Obstacle you were most looking forward to based on the course map?
SB - Tight rope over the ravine or the rappel down a cliff
JP-Rappel down a cliff
Note - sadly there was no rappel down a cliff.
KP-Tight rope over the race
Note - sadly there was no tight rope over water. Wtf?

Obstacle you were least looking forward to?
KP - Crawling through the mud
SB - Crawling through the mud
JP - Tight rope walk (which as noted didn't happen)

Other pre-race thoughts (before arriving)
KP - I got this
JP - We are going to be late, Mario Andretti mode
SB - I am putting this in 4x4 to keep up with Mario
Note - I had told Jared we had to check in at noon, not start at noon, thus we were doing a stomach sickening speed up the sea to sky hiway.

Pre-Race thoughts upon arriving.
JP - omg look at that hill, the environment was super fun and people looked like they were having a blast.
KB - holy f that hill is going to kill me, I don't got this. Great band, amazing tunes!
SB - This is awsome (with a goofy smile and head bob to the music)
Note: you could hear the music the entire race - fantastic!!!

The Race


How far up the hill did you run before walking it?
KB - farther than JP, but only by a few steps I think
JP - 400m? next year, I'm going to be doing some serious hill training
SB - just over half I'm hoping
Note: the hill was a kilometer long and this picture can't do justice to how steep and long it really was, you think you can see the top - wrong!

Favorite obstacle
SB - over/under because people were struggling and I had my height to just leap the overs
JP on the wall hop - I'm wall hopping like a convict escaping from prison (note, there was some barbed wire involved in the obstacle)
KP on the wall hop - I nailed it and I wasn't even tall like hubby, I was passing the men. Thank goodness for my triceps!
JP - the cargo net - higher than I thought; it was challenging; but i thought, man if you fall and get your arm caught, you could dislocate your shoulder or crack your arm.
KP - slip and slide!!! Seriously when do you get to dive head first down a ski hill at an alarming fast pace and crash into hay bales. I did hurt the butt very near the sensitive girl parts on the rock when I flipped to my back side to slow down. Ouch. Note: both the boys ran down the slip and slide - I don't get it, this was supposed to be fun right?

Dumbest Obstacle
A consensus on the fire leap. There were roots and rocks on the course that were more challenging.

Hardest Obstacle
If you can count the hill that at the beginning then that's it.
KP - The run through the spraying water was tough. You couldn't see and had no idea what you were stepping on, I was definitely nervous going through that section but I charged on. Essentially it was the snow makers turned on spraying water, it was thick and wet.

Was the mud crawl really that bad?
KB - it was fine until the guy next to me flung his arm and through mud into my face
SB - apart from the glob in the eye it was manageable
JP - no no, they could have made the crawl under the barbed wire longer

Are we doing it again next year?
Abso-freakin-lutely!!!

Overall the race was really well organized, marked, and staffed/volunteered. Things we learnt for next year: bring garbage bags for dirty clothes, bring towels to dry off after being sprayed down, wear your sandals to get hosed off. I can't wait for the Spartan Sprint in Calgary in two weeks!

2.8.11

Fat - The Good and the Bad

The Good

I love fat, in food that is. Real fat - the animal kind (meat and dairy) or natural nut oils. It seems as though the news about fat isn't all that we've been told for the past Here are two great articles on fat (one link, one below). I hope that after reading both you re-think your relationship with the food you eat. Fat in and of itself in naturally occurring forms in not bad for you. I know this because as posted in an earlier blog my total cholesterol is insanely low while my HDL (good) is really high and LDL (bad) is again, low. Fats are vital for brain function, for nerve conduction, for vitamin and mineral absorption, for satiety, and so many other things. Did you know that the majority of calories in breast milk are from fat and over 50% of that is saturated? Now by now means am I advocating a high fat diet. I am though advocating for a diet that has a balance of healthy fats - especially as an athlete.


The Bad

There are two numbers on my scale. One which I accept, and one which I cringe at. I am comfortable with my weight but my body fat % - not so much. Why? Because according to the charts I'm on the high end of average and a good number of points away from even being considered athletic. Worse, I'm even closer to being considered obese according to the charts even though I have a healthy BMI. Over the years the scale has rarely budged in this department and I have to wonder, why? And I have to wonder - am I really that fat? And if I am, then where is it hiding? Thankfully I have found this disclaimer on Wikipedia with regards to our scale:

Also reducing the reliability of this method is the variation between models of the BIA devices: for instance when comparing outputs from a Tanita scale to an Omron Body Logic handheld device the Tanita scale overestimated the percentage body fat in college-aged men by 40% and in college-aged women by 55%.

Phew. Wait. That means I could have have a body fat of approximately 10% less than what the scale shows. And hey, that puts me on the border of athletic and fitness on the percentage chart. According to the calculation on the Wiki site using my BMI I'm well within the Athletic Range. Well, I'd like to be hopeful that that could be true but I'm realistic. Using six different online calculators and the scale my average % comes out 3% less than the scale so what does that tell you? Squat all. What does it tell me? I need to work my butt off, literally. Here's the thing though, from way back when (pre-baby)- three years ago - I had a nice little chart to measure my weight, body fat, circumferences of various body parts and at my lowest weight, four pounds less than now, my body fat was only 2% less than it is currently. What gives? For now, that is the number I would like to see shrink. I am hoping that as I ramp up my mileage again in training for another half-marathon it'll help out.

So to answer where it's hiding, it's not hiding at all. Darn.

Flee

Sometimes you just need those selfish minutes or hours to yourself, especially as a mom, especially if you're spending over 72 hours with most of your extended family. In my case I took 23 fleeting minutes on Sunday morning to escape into the beautiful surroundings of our campsite. Sure the trails were designed for off-road vehicles but they suited me just fine. I set off down a rocky path to quickly turn off onto a softer trail which led up-up-up. Exhausting but well worth every wind-sucking step. I guess I just assumed I'd be able to set out at pace but alas, in the mountains there is elevation to deal with, something I hadn't factored until about 4 minutes into the run. Terrain and elevation aside those 23 minutes were just what I needed to come back refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the weekend with patience and sanity. From my favorite authors and blog, Another Mother Runner, I love the quote: The more I run, the less I want to run away.