Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Saturday’s long run, or, why I’m better than all of you

The thing about doing a spring race is that you have to train during the winter. For many that’s a pleasant little jaunt in California surrounded by green and sun. We hate them.

 For the rest of us it’s running in the snow. Running in the snow is all about attitude – you expect the worst, you prepare for the worst,  and as you run you work on your justifications for shortening the training session. Timed runs are better than mileage runs as there is at least an end to the horror – 20 km can be pretty open ended in a storm. Happily Saturday was a timed run of 2 hours, out and back along the waterfront from our house.

I will take this moment to praise the city of Toronto for keeping the Martin Goodman trail maintained in the winter. The joy of a ploughed and salted trail just a couple km from our house can not be underestimated. I can’t wait to get into some of the city’s ravine trails and back to Hamilton for forest trails but for the next couple months as the snow piles up I’m thinking the waterfront will work just fine.

I started out with the required attitude. I got down to the lake, into the driving snow just as Fatboy Slim’s “Right here, right now” came on the shuffle. “Yeah”, I screamed (inside words, not outside – that was later)  “this is how PBs are made baby. Sub 14 hour Ironman come to me honey”. I turned into the wind, appreciating the plowed route, put a stupid smile on my face and headed out. For a bit. The snow was picking up as I came across the city workers at the end of the plowed portion. I stopped and thanked the perky guy running the plow noticing that I’d run out of pavement before my hour was up. But I’m a Canadian, an Ironman, a woman, so there’s nothing to do but suck it up.

It was only about a km to my turn around point and I figured the snow would just force good form on me as I’d have no choice but to keep my knees up. Besides k-os appeared on my playlist and if he could get out of Somalia and make a career here well then I think I could run through a little bit of snow. (NB, k-os isn’t K-Nan but I didn’t clue in at that time, I'm pretty freaking white after all.) Didn't really matter in the end as whoever I was listening to didn't last as long as the snow drifts did.

I did get to the bridge only to turn around and see my night in shining armour astride his plow. Yup, city employee boy had caught up to me and laid down some lovely pavement for my return trip. Off I went smiling and happy and very much premature.

I don't know why I expected that the plow could keep up with the snow - it clearly couldn't and I was back in the drifts. I considered cutting up away from the lake to a major street that would take me home faster. It wouldn't have plowed sidewalks but at  least the wind would be less nasty. But, it was a 2 hour run, damnit, and there was not going to be any cutting it short. It's only week 2 - there's plenty of time for that coming.

Alex and Mad-Dog Englishman Dave were doing an hour run and as I had left the house about an hour earlier I started to look for them at their turnaround point. Dave appeared, swearing, which is ok as he is English and they did invent profanity after all. He screamed something about L3 above the wind, I smiled and didn't make eye contact. Dave's off alcohol for the month and there's no telling what might happen. Alex, who most assuredly isn't off the alcohol, pulled up in a considerably less than L3 speed. Alex had 2 social occasions on school nights the past week and wasn't enjoying running on that. I pretended to do an interval with Dave but secretly just turned around and headed back with Alex. I'm not going to say it was anything but a tough slog through snow, the music kept playing, probably perky little happy songs. It finally ended at home with chocolate milk.

No pictures, we all know what white looks like.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why do we accept so little for ourselves.


The Canadian government just lowered current recommended physical activity standards to 150 minutes a week. HUH??

I’ve read over and over again how that the three factors most important in maintaining a healthy body weight are:
breakfast every day
a low fat, high carbohydrate diet, and
7 hours of exercise a week, equivalent to walking.

Why has the Canadian government accepted such a lesser standard for our citizens?

Growing up in Canada we always knew that we were thin and Americans were fat. Then we got fat, but, Americans got fatter. That was kinda the deal, right. Now we’ll all fatter and south of the border they’ve progressed to obese and I have noticed now that when I leave the city, even in Canada, I see obese people. If that sounds like “I see dead people”, well, that’s pretty close to the truth. Obesity kills and before it kills the body, it kills quality of life. We should all rise up in spandex to kill obesity before it kills us. We can take it, it gets short of breath so quickly after all.

For some reason people my age (40’s) accept that activities like shovelling snow will result in them being physically wiped out for a couple of days. Why does this not trigger an alarm?

I think that we have, as a society, completely lost a sense of what our bodies were made to do. When 150 minutes a week of exercise is published as an acceptable standard then we have some pretty short memories. How is that “normal” for bodies that a scant couple generations ago grew their own food, carried water, and hunted long distances from home without an ATV?

I walk 2 hours a day, to and from work. That doesn’t wipe me out, I hardly notice it. I’m pretty sure that in the developing world, that’s a regular commute to school or work.  If I want to take transit to work, at rush hour, I would have to leave the house at about the same time as I do to walk. Coming home, I can get the streetcar and be home in 30 minutes. It takes 50 minutes to walk so that extra 20 minutes in the evening is not a big deal and it gives me half of the 60 minutes that I need to maintain a healthy weight. Mornings don't cost me more time to walk so why not do that and save the $2.50 fare. Starting out years before I even knew what Ironman was, I could have, like so many others, assumed that I didn’t have time to walk to or from work but, looking into it I discovered that I did. We can all find those opportunities if we start looking – but nobody looks.

We all moan that we haven’t got time but can recite 2 hours worth of TV plot points and contest results watched the previous night. We moan that we’re getting older ignoring all the people around us who haven’t accepted the idea of killing our bodies off prematurely. People treat me like I’m some sort of super human because of what I do. Pleeeease. I was never on a school sports team, I usually didn’t even get a bronze in fitness testing, I’m scared of any game that involves balls; volleyball gives me the whillies. Actually I’m scared of any team games because I know I can’t keep the rules straight. But, I would not accept physical weakness and ill health so, I ask, why does anyone else? I just don't get it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The point of the whole thing

I’ve been having pretty good success incorporating the new WW program into my lifestyle. After a week on, (down 1 ½ lbs) having eaten all my daily points, my extra points and my activity points I did find myself going to bed hungry Sunday night. Not optimal as I woke up at 3 am hungry still, and possibly a little annoyed with snoring husband. I headed downstairs and had a bit of chocolate milk (recovery food of champions) which took away the edge and got me to morning’s breakfast. The hunger continued through the morning at work. Breakfast filled me but there was still this little voice asking for more food please once the stomach was no longer filled with fruit and whole grains. I ignored the voice and made a far too small lunch of chicken, brown rice, chick peas and tomatoes. It was tossed with a lovely cilantro pesto but, I think I didn’t add enough fat to make it satisfying and I ended up sitting at my desk an hour later realizing that I really needed a cheese sandwich. Sigh, not a great choice, the cheese sandwich, but, there was no sense in continuing to get more and more hungry.

Dinner was a very hearty serving of pot roast, mashed potatoes and green beans and this little Ironman went to bed with a very happy body.

Lesson learned, even though last weeks training was minimal for me, Mondays are always a hungry day when training so, there is no sense in trying to conserve points for later in the week. I have plenty to eat, almost 100 extra this week from the walking to and from work, 3 hours of running planned, half an hour (min) of swimming, and a pilates class.

True confession, I was met by a co-worker this morning with a container of brownies. He makes his own, he’s a very good baker, two were consumed and duly noted in the log. Je ne regrette rien. (9 years of French, don’t like to brag or anything – of course, the husband, a product of French Immersion schooling weeps when I try to speak it).

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Snow Run

Out today for the inaugural 2011 long Saturday run. 2 hours of alternating between my dog pulling me forward to catch up with the guys, pulling my dog along as she got tired and bored, and bursts of off leash fun in the snow. It was hard to get a picture of her as she didn't sit still for long. You wouldn't sit still for long either if your bare ass was hovering above a foot of snow. Setting out was great, the snow was coming down but it was fluffy and light and easy to run through. Coming back as the day warmed the snow got heavier and I ended up that cursed "running on sand" terrain. There were a few walk breaks but not too much potty mouth, except from the dog, of course. Tomorrow a swim is planned in the morning to loosen out all the bits that got worked today.

The WW plan is just fabulous so far. I'm loving the iphone app, it makes staying honest very easy, and the program has not left me feeling hungry. I spend a lot of time thinking about the finish line next November and what I have to do to get there earlier. Mostly though I just enjoyed the waterfront on a snowy day.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Well now I've gone and done it.

Yes I have. Thirteen years after my first successful run at it I'm back with Weight Watchers. So, you say, quite rightly, gosh, if you were successful then isn't needing to go back the definition of unsuccessful? And no, it's not. To begin with, although clearly far away from optimal racing or modelling weight, I'm still within single digit jeans and I don't get breathless bending over to tie my shoes (true story-that's what took me there the first time) but I am far away from where I need to be to be faster. I'll look better for sure, and that's not trivial, but, damn it, mostly I love endurance sports and I want it all to be more satisfying and nothing would be more satisfying than a sub 14.5 hour finish next November.

I'll be back in a minute, I'm right now indulging myself and seeing the finish line with, say, 13:41 on it...hmmm...sub 14 hour finish...

Little plug for Weight Watchers here - they've changed the program to, in my eyes, make it much more doable for serious amateur athletes like yours truly. There are more points credited for working out so that, whereas previously, I would get only about 50% of the calories expended for extra food, now, I get close to 100%. Now, if you're just starting out on your life change, and you are getting yourself up to say a 30 minute walk most days, sorry, I don't think you need, or should, have those extra calories, but, if I'm training 10+ hours a week then, damn it, I WANT DESSERT ON SATURDAY NIGHT AND I DESERVE IT.

So, it's public, it's on a blog that a couple of people might actually read. I really am not setting a goal weight since body composition is what's key, but I want to be at least one size smaller by my 50 miler in May. If I can only maintain that with the 3500 calorie gorge-fest that is Iron training then I can live with that, but, I'm going for 15 pounds, 2 sizes, sub 14 hours.