Monday, April 28, 2014

Week 5

Already! How time flies, whether you're having fun or not! Here's this week's goal:  

Week 5: Continue Week 4 habits. Add: Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. However, since some people find it hard to drink that much water, you could change this to fit YOUR MAXIMUM healthy amount.  

Should be easy, right?

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Another thought about the Hop Hop Half I ran (jogged/walked/slogged/sprinted) in last Saturday:

I was regarding it as a training opportunity, not a competition, but still I ended up doing better in  the more competitive moments of the race. This happened several times throughout the time I was there, but most notably at the end.

What happened, you ask? What are you talking about?

This is it: Some people would be way behind me and apparently decide that passing me was going to make them feel better. I could hear them coming up on me, jogging along, speeding up, feet flapping on the pavement, and when they would get barely past me, like 5 paces beyond, they would slow down.

I would think, Are you kidding me? And of course, then, being the slightly competitive person I am, I would jog past them. But because I'm not a jerk, and also because I was really appalled at their behavior, I wouldn't stop when I got barely in front of them, but keep going and going and going.

I want to ask Madame L, "What's wrong with these people?" But I know the answer: They're just thoughtless jerks who are trying to push themselves to do better.

And one more thought about it: Because I was regarding it as a training opportunity, most of the time I was able to focus on my breathing, pacing myself, and figuring out how to do better next time. Still, when I found out I came in fourth in my category, less than 4 minutes after the one who came in third, I realized that I *need* to do much better next time. (And BTW she was one of the ones who passed me like that, after I'd stopped to help a runner who was pushing a baby stroller with her fussy 8-month-old baby. Snark.) Anyway, eventually I'll want to finish in less than 1-1/2 hours, like the woman who finished first in my category.

I've already signed up for two upcoming half-marathons, and for these next ones I'll be running with a friend who has already had lots of experience with running events, including a marathon. We won't be staying together---she's way faster than me---but we'll be a support for each other at the beginning and end. And maybe we'll even get to do some training together in coming weeks.

Only a few hundred yards to go, and after Jason took this, he ran alongside me to encourage me to keep running, even though I was more beat than I remember being ever before in my whole life. And it worked. Thank you!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Okay, For Week 4:

Thanks for those two suggestions. Let's go with both of them. So, this week, let's:

---Add a new exercise to our training workouts;

---Set a higher goal for ourselves, more than we've done before or more than we used to think we were capable of; and

---Re-commit to our current goals, like trying one new healthy recipe and tracking our food intake.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Week 4 of Challenge

Here's our goal for Week 4:
Week 4: Continue Week 3 habits. Add: Exercise a minimum of 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week. This can be as simple as brisk walking. The goal is to raise your heartbeat. If you're feeling a good cardio workout, working up a sweat, increased heart rate, it counts. Also, the more that you can vary your exercise routine the better. So, do cardio one day and weights another. Try different forms of exercise (i.e. an elliptical one day and swimming another). Try to establish a routine. If you must, you can split this into three 10 minute segments for a total of 30 minutes.
However, my question is: Is this too easy for us? All of us are already exercising at least 30 minutes per day, aren't we?  Problem is, I don't know what else we might set as an alternate goal for the week. Any ideas?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hop Hop Half

So, today I did my biggest so-called cross-training exercise so far: I completed the Hop Hop Half Marathon on Marine Drive in Portland.

See the photo below from the Web page with the giant dancing bunny? Well, he was there again, and a lot of runners wore cute bunny costumes.

It was a lot of fun, for awhile. And when it was over it was a lot of fun, too. And then I went home and I'm glad I did it and I'm glad it's done.

And one more thing: thanks to Jeff, without whose help I couldn't have done it. And that's all I have to say about that.

Wait! Look at this photo from last year's run: Looks like Val, doesn't it?!? But I'm pretty sure she wasn't there.

Friday, April 18, 2014


Thanks for the recipes for Week 3! (See comments on Week 3 post.) 

The only new thing I've tried so far this week isn't even new, but it does use a mashed-up banana and some applesauce. It's that oatmeal snack recipe from Madame L, but I cut it in half this time and put in cinnamon chips, and it was delicious. I also used sugar (slap my hand) and I think that's one reason it tastes so good. Also, when I put the dough into the muffin tin, I used canola spray instead of cupcake liners, so the bottom of each of the muffin things was nice and gooey and with bits of cinnamon chips.

It reminded me of pineapple up-side-down cake, so I've decided I'll try something similar, maybe on Sunday, making a kind of pineapple version of this, with pineapple chunks and brown sugar at the bottom of each of the muffins. It will be so nice and gooey and sweet, and I won't feel guilty because it will have FRUIT in it!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Thanks for the Support and Encouragement!

And those great recipes, Neva! I'm looking forward to trying both of those smoothies.

I see on Ellen's training blog that Neva also sent her an email message answering her questions about the nitty-gritty day-to-day training for the Huntsman 140.  Ellen asked, "How many miles should I be doing in a week? How much should I increase distance from week to week?"

I'm pasting that advice here:
It's a good idea to have some cross training and/or resistance training a couple of days a week - on those days you don't ride at all. It's also a good idea to have a day (I use Tuesday) to do some kind of interval work. That is, after at least 10 minutes of warming up, doing 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 intervals of 30 seconds up to 5 minutes (depending on your base and where you are in the season) with recovery in between of at least the same amount of time as you did the interval. One of the things you're working on is increased leg speed and/or increased resistance - higher gear or up hill. On that day, you're not doing a lot of time or distance on the bike, but you're training your muscles to take up oxygen and recover.
A typical schedule might be:
Monday - resistance training and cross training - 30 minutes. The cross training should be gently aerobic. This is not the time to push. The work was in the resistance training.
Tuesday - Interval work - 50 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes, minimum 10 min warm-up and cool down.
Wednesday - resistance training and cross training - 30 minutes.
Thursday - a "moderate ride" - not too long or hard, but not too easy either. How long you can go will partly depend on your schedule, but it's nice to get between 1 and 2 hours in.
Friday is a recovery day - 45 minutes to an hour at the most of very gentle cross training, e.g. walking or jogging slowly, or spinning easily on the bike. Heart rate shouldn't go above 120.
Then, Saturday, you do the long ride. If you're able to ride with a group, you'll probably get pushed - I know I did last year. The term "moderate" took on a new meaning. But I wanted to keep up, so I was going pretty hard. And I got stronger and faster as a result. The increase in distance from one Saturday to the next Saturday probably shouldn't go up more than 10 miles per week. Today the "long distance" riders went 60 miles. Two Saturdays ago they went 50, and last Saturday they eased off at 35. Then Sunday, you rest or do something very gentle, like walking or spinning for 45 minutes to let the muscles work the lactic acid out.
This is what I've been doing, more or less.  Sometimes I've made Thursday or Wednesday into a recovery day, instead of Friday. I haven't been taking long rides on Saturdays yet, but did ride with Jason part of the Banks to Vernonia trail Saturday.  We didn't do the whole thing because his back was giving him problems. Then I was going to do more on my own, but got a flat tire, so that ended the day for me. (Yeah, I know there are people who can fix a flat tire and go on riding, but those people do not include me, not a back tire, not on that day.)

Also, I've been keeping up with Laura's blog, in which she writes about her training and, most recently, about some movies about cycling. 

I totally agree that watching movies like the ones she mentioned are good for motivation and inspiration. I watched a couple of movies,*** thanks to her sending them to me, last year, and they were wonderful. So I'm looking forward to watching these ones, this year.

(***The Flying Scotsman and Bicycle Dreams, both of which are available from or to borrow from me---Just let me know!)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Beginning Week 3 of Challenge

Here's this week's goal in the 8-Week Challenge:

Week 3: Continue Week 2 habits.  Add: Find a new way to prepare some healthy fruit or vegetable that makes it more enjoyable (i.e., edible). And share this with the rest of us.

BTW: You don't have to be participating in the 8-week challenge to share recipes with us! I really need all the recipe ideas I can get, especially for vegetables. 

The "personal sized baked oatmeal snacks" that Madame L shared have turned out to be a satisfying and easy-to-carry snack. I'm going to make that recipe again, but this time cut the recipe in half and use sugar or honey instead of the "natural" sweetener I used last time. 

I'm also going to add cinnamon chips to half of them and chocolate chips to the other half. Obviously this a departure from the no-sugar origins of the recipe, but I don't care. I have to be able to chew and swallow the things if they're going to do me any good! 

Also, I'm still not going to add the optional ground-up flax seed to the recipe because I don't like the way it tastes in bread and muffins. 

But we were talking about veggies and fruits, weren't we. Help! Give me recipes!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Today's Training

So far: Carrying heavy stuff up the stairs from the garden.

Later: Running and biking.

Yup, that's it for now.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What If Nothing Is Impossible?

One of my Facebook friends shared this inspiring story, and I'm sharing it here:

Concluding line: "Whatever challenges you face in life, if you think you can make a difference, we say you can."

Monday, April 7, 2014

New Schedule

Sometimes you have to make some changes, and I've started with a new schedule: Instead of going to spin classes at 5:30 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, I'm trying the 9:00 a.m. classes.

I just haven't been getting to bed in time to get enough sleep to face those sessions and then have enough energy to face the rest of the day.

We'll see how this goes. So far, it seems to be helping.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Challenge of the Fittest

Just got this email message from AA Sports, the organizers of the Spring Classic Duathlon, with the subject line "Challenge of the Fittest":

30th Annual Spring Classic Du

Thank You Athletes!

Thank you to all of the participants who came out Saturday morning to take part in the 2014 Spring Classic Duathlon. 
Way to charge hard in the elements with wind gusts up to 38 m.p.h.!
There's nothing quite like battling the temperamental NW spring weather, on top of tackling the course, for a strong way to kick off the season!

Kudos to everyone for charging hard, 
and Congratulations to the Top Overall Performers:

Top Overall Male: Birkin Owart, Ellensburg, WA, 1:14:21
Top Overall Female: Janet Howard, Portland, OR 1:29:02
Top Overall Masters Male: Brian August, Portland, OR 1:23:23
Top Overall Masters Female: Angela Allen, Portland 1:35:03

Look at those times---something for me to shoot for, in the future!


Beginning Week 2 of Challenge

Here we go for our second week! We'll keep our Week 1 habit of tracking everything we eat, and we'll make sure to eat at least 3 vegetables and 2 fruits every day.

Maybe we can start thinking of the Week 3 goal, too, as we eat our fruits and veggies: finding a new way to prepare these healthy foods so we'll enjoy them more and be even more motivated to make eating fruits and veggies a regular part of every day, even after the 8-week challenge is over.

This second week I'm also going to restrict my intake of sugary foods. I find that they don't really satisfy whatever need I think I'm satisfying with them, and just make me want more. Writing down what I eat has helped, but I need to go further.

Also, I've detected this really bad habit in myself: I decide not to eat a banana or piece of toast or baked sweet potato (for instance) because I read somewhere that they're as bad for me as eating plain white sugar. Then, later, and not even that much later, I feel like I want something sweet, so I eat some candy. (Bonk on side of head!) Should've had the healthy and naturally sweet food, which would have left me feeling more satisfied and less like I needed a sweet!

If anyone has any thoughts, advice, personal experiences, or suggestions about this, I'd love to hear (read) them. Also, today I'll be spending more time with that book "The Craving Cure" and if I get some more helpful ideas from that, I'll share them here.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Today's Spin Class

As Robert taught this morning's 7:30 spin class, he made some comments that inspired me to work harder as the class continued and motivated me to keep working harder in the classes I'll be taking in the coming week.

He said, for one thing, "Fitness is not a hobby, not something you just do when there's nothing else to do, not just a temporary weight-loss plan. Fitness is an essential part of your way of living."

He said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "Where do you want to be next week, next month, next year? Set a goal and figure out what you need to do to reach that goal, and then do it. This applies to all of your life, not just here in the gym. And what you do here affects the rest of your life. Even little changes you make here, even gearing up one small gear, challenging yourself a little more, improves your fitness level and improves your life and your ability outside of the gym, too."

Toward the end of the class, he gave us some words of praise: "The vast majority of the people who come to this gym aren't really making progress on their fitness goals, not doing what they need to do to make that progress. But you people in this class, you are among the small minority who are. And that's because you come in here and try hard and work hard. This group consistently works longer and harder over a longer period of time. You're enthusiastic, and it shows, and it makes you better. Now go out and share that with the people you know, and you'll make a huge difference in the world."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Can Running Cut Your Lifespan?

Yeah, right. Here's another reason I don't believe those "reports" about "research" on health, diet, and exercise.

The tease says, "A little running, good. Moderate running, even better. But high-mileage running may lead to a shorter lifespan, according to new research."

And here's the article on WebMD, titled "Too Much Running Tied to Shorter Life Span:

About a third of the way down the page, the article admits that the "study" "... didn't find any differences that could explain these longevity differences."

In other words, the researchers used data that they couldn't even analyze. This is, unfortunately, very typical of medical and biological studies. And, as I've mentioned before, Madame L is going to have a lot to say about this.

In fact, Madame L is probably going to sponsor a Dear Reader Contest in which she invites her Dear Readers to submit the most outrageous claims about medicine, supplements, diets, exercise, and whatever (beetles? snowflake formation? snake-skin eruption? snake-oil-selling? whatever!), along with their own totally made-up possible reasons for the results.

For instance, for this study on running, I wish the WebMD people had inserted some basic information into their reporting, such as what the actual life spans of the longer- and shorter-distance runners supposedly are. Repeat for emphasis: What was the actual lifespan difference?

And I'd like to suggest that the fact that long-distance runners have "shorter" life-spans than people who run less than 10 miles per week could be errors in self-reporting.  Maybe the people who said they ran more than 10 miles every week are really sitting on their couches eating marshmallows and watching soaps, elevating their heart rates by feeling that intense anxiety over who is going to cheat on whom in the next episode. Or whatever. I don't know. I haven't watched a soap since I was a little girl visiting my grandmother, who regularly watched General Hospital.

Also, I'd like to know how they determined the lifespans of the "average-46-year-old" participants in the study. Did they call them on a special grave phone later? I'm imagining the conversation:

Researcher: Hello, Mrs. Jones. So glad you could accept this call.

Mrs. Jones: Yeah, uh, The Evil One Himself said I could talk to you since it's all lies anyway.

Researcher: What? [long pause] Er, there seems to be some static. [another long pause while we hear the chief researcher tell the questioner, "Get on with it! Ask the question!"] Yes, okay, Ma'am, we see that you died at age 46.75, of cardiac arrest, while you were running a marathon.

Mrs. Jones: Yeah, you like that? That was my best lie, I mean, story, ever. A Days of Our Lives Marathon, with my sister Ruth, she's 10 years younger than me, but check your records, she died the next day. She'll tell you she never took an NSAID in her life, too.

And so on. You get the picture. Label me a skeptic. Along with Madame L and most of the thinking world.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Why I Said No Supplements Required

Here's why I changed the Week 6 goal for our modified 8-week challenge, which I wrote as:

Week 6: Continue Week 5 habits. Add: Take supplements each day as recommended by your doctor or other health professional, including dieticians (but not including information from magazine and newspaper articles). 

I've just read too many articles in my local newspaper (not to mention the many women's magazines I see in every doctor and dentist office I visit) that say things like this one, from this morning's Oregonian with the headline, "Diet drinks are bad for heart":
Compared with women who never or rarely consume diet drinks, women who consumed two or more a day were 30 percent more likely to suffer a cardiovascular event and 50 percent more likely to die of related disease, according to research presented at the American College of Cardiology's 63rd Annual Scientific Session, which winds up Monday.
Researchers analyzed diet drink consumption and cardiovascular risk factors from 59,614 participants in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study, making this the largest study to look at the relationship between diet drink consumption, cardiac events and death, the Amercian College of Cardiology reports.
Diet drinks were defined as 12 ounces of diet sodas and diet fruit drinks.
Dr. Ankur Vyas, fellow, Cardiovascular Diseases, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and the study's lead investigator noted that while he and fellow researchers found an association between diet drink consumption and heart problems, the research did not find that the drinks cause the heart trouble.
Please note the final line: "...the research did not find that the drinks cause the heart trouble."

This is so typical of "reporting" on scientific and medical research that it's hard for me to believe any stories I read about these topics any more. At least this article provides links to the research, researchers, overall study, and so on.

Wait, you're saying: This article isn't even about supplements. My answer: Right, because life is short and I have other things to do besides look up all the articles with conflicting "facts" about how good or not good vitamin and mineral and other supplements may be for you.

This article is just to demonstrate how, in general, these types of articles can be misleading and therefore should not be used to guide your choices in diet, nutrition, exercise, or, really, anything else in the whole world. 

(My pal Madame L is going to write sometime soon about why she doesn't even trust all of those studies when they're reported originally, before they're mangled by news organizations and PR people looking for a nifty headline.)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Foolish Fads for April Fool's Day

Since my friend told me this morning about the April Fool's Day joke played on her and a bunch of other people at her gym, and how she had been looking forward to an exercise class with Richard Simmons, I went to his Web site and found this great article about fad diets and exercise programs.

If you don't want to follow the link, here are some bits from the article:
Look folks, when it comes to losing weight, there's an old adage that has so much truth to it.  If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!  Come on, lose weight without exercise?  Puh-lease!  During the 40+ years I've been helping people lose weight, I can't think of a single person who was able to accomplish it and reach their goals with-out exercise.  Eat all you want and still lose weight? ...
Losing weight successfully takes hard work, dedication and commitment!
...Losing weight successfully and keeping it off takes hard work, dedication and commitment.  Nothing makes me angrier than seeing the latest zany weight-loss product show up on TV.  They play on our emotions.  They play on our desire to lose weight.  They play on our desire to feel good about ourselves.  But, at the same time they're playing on all those things, they're also PREYING...on our pocketbooks...
On this first day of April, I want you to concentrate on doing the right things to lose weight the right way.  Don't let those weight-loss scams FOOL YOU into falling for their phony promises.  There's another old saying I'm sure you'll recognize: A fool and his money are soon parted...  Stick to losing this weight the right way, which means controlling your eating habits, getting those workouts of yours in everyday and keeping that strong, positive attitude.  
So true, and so well said! And no joke!