It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

February 27, 2014

It's Race Week!!

It feels like forever since I’ve done a race.  It’s been since Nov 24th since my last half to be exact.

After basically taking the month of December off, it’s been a long couple of months trying to build my mileage back up.  Add in snow storm, after snow storm and a lot of my miles have been indoors.  Luckily I’ve been able to do my last two long runs outside, which is a bonus, but still I’m not feeling quite ready for this race.
We are heading to Little Rock, AR this weekend.  This will be my second time doing the half, and Jim’s third doing the full (or maybe he did a half in there – I can’t remember).  So yes, we like this race.  It’s a neat little town and a pretty fun atmosphere and it's a pretty close drive from home (about 6 hours).

Here’s the forecast -
I can’t say I’m looking forward to that.  I’ve been watching it all week, waiting for it to change.  It hasn’t changed a bit.  That 80% chance of rain (in the morning) has been an 80% chance since Monday.  They seem pretty certain.  I’ve done one race before with similar conditions.  It was about 45 and absolutely poured the entire race.  It was one of the worst experiences I have ever had!  EVER.  I was so cold and so miserable.  It took me hours to warm up.  It probably didn’t help that I was deathly sick with a cold at the time.  I don't remember ever been that cold.  I’m hoping we get lucky.  There is a storm moving through that will drop temps – I just hope it comes through at like 11. 
Driving home should be fun too.  We are expecting up to a foot of snow in Kansas City on Saturday/Sunday.  So we should have lots of snow to drive through on the way home…good stuff.

Lastly, as many of you know I switched to a Ketogenic diet about a week and a half ago.  I’ve been able to get through some hour/hour and a half workouts, but I haven’t ran a half marathon….with no carbs.  I have no idea how my body is going to respond.  Will I feel great?  Or will I crash and burn at mile 8 or 9.  It will definitely be interesting to see.  My back up plan (great one I know) is that if I start feeling really, really crummy I’ll grab some Gatorade at the nearest aid station and “hope” it doesn’t make me sick.

In spite of several obstacles I’m still really looking forward to the trip/race.  I love when Jim and I get to do short getaways and go do the thing we love together.  It’s always fun.  And no matter what the outcome whether we fall flat on our face, come up with a new PR, or practically freeze to death.  It gives us new stories and new memories to share.
So bring it on Little Rock.  Race weekend is almost here!  And it’s going to be EPIC. –That’s their slogan this year.

February 24, 2014

Ketogenic Living – Week 1 A Success!

Last week I shared with you that I was getting ready to start a ketogenic diet – which is a low carb/high fat diet.  For those that aren’t familiar, your body can either burn carbohydrate or fat for energy.  It takes the body a little while to adapt and burn fat for energy – around 2 to 3 weeks.  This is known as nutritional ketosis.  I have read different things about the amount of carbohydrates required to achieve this.  Some studies say no more than 30 grams, while others say up to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day.  I am trying to stay around 20-30 grams of net carbs per day (carbs minus fiber or sugar alcohols).

So this is not a “no” carbohydrate way to eat.  You can still allow plenty of vegetables and some fruits. As a matter of fact I'm eating veggies with at least 2 of 3 meals, which is probably better than normal for me.  I  know a lot of people think this is just “Atkins” and at its core I suppose it is.  I just think Atkins promotes a lot more artificial sugars and crap eating.  The Atkins bars and snacks are full of GMO ingredients, fillers and artificial sweeteners.  I like to think of this as a “clean”/”Paleoish” version of low carb.
I really am not considering this a “diet”, while I am happy that weight loss is a natural result; that is not my only incentive.  I am really, really interested to see how my body performs in fat burning mode. And I am really trying to break my sugar addiction.  I've only been getting on average around 3 to 5 grams of sugar a day which are almost all naturally occurring in the foods I'm eating.  As I said last week, I'm not sure I will stay with this long term, but I am hopeful that many of the things I am doing will stick with me long term.  I am definitely learning that I don't need nearly as much carbohydrate as I thought I did, and of course none of us really "need" sugar.  I'm not saying I'll never eat a piece of cake again.  I'm sure I will, but I want those things to truly be occasional treats and not weekly or daily.

So, how has week 1 gone?

Well, like I said I'm not 100% in this for the weight loss, but I did lose 7.5 pounds in week 1!!  And for someone who has been struggling to lose weight well that is AMAZING!  And no I'm not starving.  I am averaging around 1800-2000 calories a day.  Normally if I "diet" I eat around 1400-1500 calories even when I'm working out a lot.  I am always starving and the weight loss is minimal.  So, I'm eating more, feeling fuller and losing weight.  It's pretty nice - and my fat content is high - around 100-150 grams a day.  Which is totally unheard of.  I literally eat coconut oil, olive oil or Irish butter with every meal. 

Now, from what I've read you lose more water weight on a low carb diet the first few weeks then other eating changes because when you eat carbohydrates your body stores water, but when you eliminate them it lets that water go.  So, I know the majority of my weight loss this week is water, and that's ok.  It's just nice to see the number on the scale change.  Also, do to the water loss you are encouraged to increase your sodium intake the first couple of weeks so you don't feel really bad.  Which I did.

I actually felt great last week.  I expected to feel tired and run down, irritable, etc.  But I felt great.  My energy levels were high and my mental focus was GREAT!  I normally feel groggy and tired in the late afternoon and I had none of that last week.  I was also able to get through all of my workouts without any major issues.  I had 3 hard bikes last week of at least an hour.  On Saturday I biked for just over an hour, ran for 15 minutes, and then swam for 45.  I got through it.  On Sunday I had an 8 mile run which I did at a decent pace for me of about 11:30.  I will say that while I feel like I have plenty of energy for the workouts, my muscles do feel fatigued.  This was expected.  I am basically carb depleted but my body isn't processing fat for fuel well yet.  But, even though I felt fatigued I was able to mentally push through so that is good.

My favorite thing I've discovered is "Bullet Proof" Coffee.....AMAZING!!!  You basically take fresh brewed coffee, add in Irish butter and coconut oil and blend it in a blender.  It makes it smooth and delicious.  I  mean delicious!!  I thought it would be gross, I will admit, but no it's wonderful.  I am using a little bit of whole cream in mine and a packet of stevia as well.  I want to wean myself off the cream, but whole cream has no sugar, so it has fat, so it's not too bad.  I just don't know that I need all of it.  Technically if you look up "bullet proof" coffee, it's a specific brand of coffee that is mold/toxin free.  I actually ordered some but haven't started using it yet. 

That's probably enough for now.  If you have any questions for me feel free to e-mail me at  I'd be glad to answer anything.  I love experimenting and so far I'm really enjoying this experiment.

I won't lie though - today is the first day I've felt a little energy depleted.  I know this won't be an easy journey or process.  I am curious to see how I do for my half marathon this weekend.  I'm a little nervous about that one.  Time will tell!

February 17, 2014

A "Maybe Crazy" Experiment

What if I told you that you could:
  • Lose Weight
  • Reduce Your Risk of Cancer
  • Improve Performance
  • Have nearly unlimited energy stores
  • Basically never bonk again during an endurance including an ultra marathon or Ironman
  • Build lean muscle
  • Have better mental focus
  • Eliminate hunger and cravings
  • And More
Well you'd sign right up?  Right?  Kind of sounds like an infomercial doesn't it?

Well it's not new, it's been around for a really long time.  It's just something I have NEVER considered before.  A low carbohydrate/sugar and high fat diet.  Think Atkins - I guess.  I never really read that much about the Atkins diet, but I imagine it's similar.  It is known at the Ketogenic diet.  You restrict carbs to around 20 to 30 a day and get the majority of your calories from fats - including olive oil, avocados, and coconut oils and butters just to name a few.  It does allow for moderate fruit and most vegetables besides starchy or root vegetables like potatoes and corn.  By restricting the carbohydrate intake you induce nutritional ketosis - where your body starts using it's fat stores (basically unlimited) instead of glycogen stores for fuel.

As an endurance athlete I have been programmed to believe that carbs are good.  Carbs are required to maintain glycogen stores.  Once you run out of glycogen you bonk right?  So you keep ingesting carbs all throughout an event, which often leads to stomach upset and other problems.

Anyway, I'm not here to sell anyone on this.  Frankly, I am not sure I am sold on it.  But I am intrigued, very intrigued and I am willing to give it a try for a month to see what it's all about.  So, I just thought I'd share what I was learning with you.  I am always intrigued by the science of our bodies.

I have always believed in a diet of moderation.  I eat mostly whole foods with lots of fruits, veggies, lean means and slow release carbs like quinoa, steel cut oats and brown rice, etc.  I allow myself treats too.  Unfortunately my "treats" have been far too frequent lately. And my diet is not on the right track right now.  I've been eating a lot of sugar and carbs...way too much.  I did to break the cycle.

So I knew I needed to start cutting back on them. So about a month ago, I did low carb for a week kind of hoping to break the sugar/carb cycle and then slowly let them back in - I let them back in the minute I was done.  In the meantime, I have been reading a lot about the connection between sugar and carbs and cancer.  Did you know that many cancers actually feed on sugar?  That's what they give cancer cells in lab tests to get them to grow - glucose.  Scary.

I also found out about a friend of mine who was moving to this low carb/high fat diet.  Why was she doing it?  She has breast cancer.  She is foregoing traditional chemotherapy and radiation and treating her condition with diet.  She is under the care of a doctor.  It is believed that without glucose in the system for cancer cells to feed on you can basically "starve" the cancer and therefore eliminate it. 

There is tons of information out there on this, but here is on article if you are interested.  I also just finished reading "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance" which basically talks about how/why low carb can be used effectively for endurance athletes (available on Amazon).  It was a super quick read - a bit technical, but I thought it had some really good information.

If I try to share everything with you here this will end up being very lengthy, so I will just start with this and share more with you during my journey.  I have decided to give this a try for the next four weeks.  It takes your body approximately 2 to 3 weeks to "adapt" and get into what is known as nutritional ketosis.  I'm not sure this will be a complete lifestyle change for me forever, but I am hoping it will help me eliminate the unnecessary sugars and carbs from my diet in the future.  But who knows, this could be the one thing that works for me.  I do believe every body is different.

Has anyone out there ever done the low carbohydrate thing for any real length of time while also training/racing?  I'd love to hear feedback from people.

Until then, I'll keep you posted!  Today is day 1!

February 06, 2014

It's the Newest Craze Sweeping the Nation - Shovelometrics!

You've heard of all the exercise fads Insanity, P90X, Pilates, Yogalates, Plyometrics the list goes on and on.  But have you heard of the most recent craze? 

Introducing Shovelometrics.  It's a high intensity full body workout.  How can you try this newest craze?

1.  Live somewhere with a miserable Winter.
2.  Get lots and lots of snow.  We are talking a foot or so.
3.  Get out your shovel, and push, lift and throw!

It's that easy!

I know many of us across the Country have had some serious snow fall this winter.  We got a foot of snow here over the course of two days.  Jim was out of town (very convenient).  So that meant I had to shovel, shovel, shovel if I was going to be able to get out of my driveway.

On Tuesday as the snow feel I shoveled the driveway completely clear - twice.  It took me about an hour each time.

Wednesday morning I awoke to another 8 inches of snow on the ground with up to 2 foot drifts in some places.  So another two hours of shoveling.

And that my friends has pretty much been my workout for the last two days.  On Tuesday morning I did a 45 minute run in the morning and then shoveled for two hours later in the day. I was totally exhausted Tuesday night.  I woke up with back, shoulders, neck and arms aching....only to have to do it all again.  And it was worse than ever.

So yesterday, I shoveled some more and pretty much called that my workout.  I have to say I've used muscles I haven't used in a long time.  It really is a good workout, especially for the upper body.  But it also engages the core and legs.

Before and Afters of "Round 3" It's hard to capture the magnitude.

I'll cycle tonight, but I won't be happy about it.  I'm still pretty sore and tired.

How about you guys?  Have you been out there shoveling?  Did you replace one of your workouts with a shovelometric workout?  I was supposed to swim last night, but the gym was closed, and frankly I couldn't have lifted an arm if I had wanted to.

And to my International followers or those of you who live in say Arizona or Florida. Well for now, I just don't like you.  Please don't comment on how hot, or nice it is in your next of the woods right now....or I might just cry.

In other news, in just 9 days I myself will be sitting on a beach soaking up the rays and out of this miserable weather.  I couldn't be more excited!!!

Until then, I'm thinking warm and sunny thoughts and dreaming of summer.

Picture taken during my last vacation in 2010 (Turks and Caicos)

February 05, 2014

How Far is Too Far? - Biggest Loser Edition

Like many of you I love, love the show "The Biggest Loser".  It inspires people to realize that you can make a difference in your life.  A lot of people think they can't exercise because they are overweight, or they can't make a change, but this show pushes away all the excuses and in the end we are blown away with the transformations.

But, last night's winner who is 5 foot 5 (according to the Internet) weighed in at 105 pounds, which is considered underweight.  She is extremely thin, but she is also an athlete.  I know some very thin runners. 

It does make you wonder.  Did one eating disorder turn into another eating disorder like bulimia or anorexia.  What did she do to lose this weight?  Was it really healthy?

I have no idea how the show monitors the contestants after they go home or even while they are at the Ranch, but I have a feeling she took extreme measures.  I don't know if it was just to lose the weight or if it was to win the show.  Either way.  Not a good image for the show.  You can clearly see Jillian's shock in the video.

It will be interesting to see what the Biggest Loser does with this one.

What do you think?  Is she too thin?  Is it up to us to judge?  Probably not.  I suppose a Doctor should determine if she is at a healthy weight.  I just hope the show didn't push her into a dangerous new cycle.

"Weigh In" - What do you think?

February 03, 2014

I'll Call January a Success!

Well thank goodness we are through January - that puts us another month closer to Summer!  I can't wait for warmer weather when I can go outside and run with just shorts and a tank.  Not to mention bike and swim outside!

January was mostly good.  I definitely feel like a triathlete again.  I'm still not swimming as much as I need to, but getting in the pool at all in January is a step in the right direction.  It's starting to feel much better.  Those first few swims were just miserable with arms and lungs burning, but I'm starting to find my rhythm again.  Which is awesome!  My first outdoor tri is in early May and I'm already a little concerned with the how cold the swim is going to be.  I think we are in for a COLD one unless we get a warm-up soon!  I'm hoping to do an indoor tri this year as a "warm-up" race to really see where I'm at.

Anyway, back to January.  So here are the totals for January.  Not bad for a re-building month

Swim: 1.79 Miles (4 Swims) 2 hours 1 Minute
Bike:  172.63 Miles (11 Bikes) 12 Hours 3 Minutes
Run:  67.76 Miles (15 Runs) 14 Hours and 4 Minutes
Bricks: 3 Total (1 Bike/Run Only; 2 Swim/Bike/Runs)

I wasn't really good about tracking my strength training/core work, but I've been doing this a minimum of 2 days a weeks!  So all in all a great month of training.  I still need to be doing a lot more, but I'm getting there.

I also had a really encouraging 10 mile run on Sunday (technically Feb).  The roads were totally ice covered, so my options were to go run on an indoor track or treadmill it.  I decided on the lesser of two evils - the indoor track.  Luckily the track wasn't too busy.  It is totally mind numbing to run around and around in a circle on a 1/14 mile track.  You feel like you are never getting anywhere - 14 laps to a mile = ugh.  Luckily I have a Garmin footpod to help track my mileage instead of trying to keep up with all those laps.  I'm not sure I could accurately track 140 way. 

Anyway, while I realize the terrain is a little easier since it's totally flat I was really happy with my overall pace and stamina.  I would run a mile and then walk one lap, so it helped break the run up a little bit. I was able to maintain my pace pretty well the entire 10 miles which was really encouraging.  My last few long runs I've completely run about of steam after about 7 or 8 miles and finished the last few miles way slower than I started, but not Sunday!  My last two miles were actually faster than the most of my miles for the run.  Winning!

I have a half marathon coming up in just under three weeks and I was starting to get a little worried, so this was a nice confidence builder.  It seems like FOREVER since I did a race.  I'm really looking forward to it, and hoping we'll have nice weather.  It's been a truly miserable winter.

So how is your training going?  How are you dealing with this Winter weather (if you have it)?

I'll leave you with a hysterical video if you haven't seen it.  If you have ever ran a marathon, you will totally be able to relate to this!

And here we go with those "almost" numbers again.  I'm at 98 FB "Likes"...98!  Let's make it 100 please :)  So if you haven't already will you please "like" my page?