Saturday, November 21, 2009

dirty du off-road half marathon: mud mud mud

My Dirty Du Souvenirs:
3rd place prizes - Clif bars and race mug
Muddy wet shoes

Today I did the Dirty Du Off-Road Half Marathon. This was the longest trail race I have ever done and my second one. It rained all day yesterday and was still drizzling this morning so the course was nice and muddy. Really muddy with the kind of mud that sticks to your shoes and makes them feel like weights attached to your feet. Peanut butter mud. The course, at the Rocky Hill Ranch in Smithville Texas, was non-stop undulating hills for a very challenging run.

Besides the mud, the trail was a river of water for much of the way, not to mention there had to be at least 30 water crossings within the 13 miles. At first I tried to jump all the crossings to keep my feet dry, but it didn't take long to realize that my feet weren't going to stay dry. I couldn't jump all of them and landed right in the middle a few times. From then on I came to the conclusion that I may as well just run straight through them with no attempt to stay dry. The cold water rushing into my shoes (and up to my ankles sometimes) felt refreshing. I was lucky that I didn't get any blisters from this. For a lot of the race I was running alone in the woods, with no reminders that it was actually a race event. I enjoyed the peaceful surroundings and had fun.

Finishing in a time of 2:12, I was moving slow by road race standards but it was super-technical and my mind had to constantly stay alert to stay on course and to navigate the terrain. I came in as the 3rd overall female finisher.

I ate Paleo before and after the race (dried fruit, apple, paleo turkey burrito), but had a Clif mojo bar and some Skittles while running. I didn't want to test dried fruit during a race in case of any GI issues and I know the processed sugar stuff works for me. I did my best to stay Paleo and in the ballpark of reasonable Zone quantities today, even though after a tough race I have a tendency to be really hungry and eat a lot. My Zone stats for the day came out to 17.5 protein, 23 carb, 19 fat. That's quite a bit more food than I ate in Week 1 and 2 of this diet, however it's less than I would have eaten on a day like today before I was paying closer attention to quantity. The key food lesson I learned today is that a tough workout is reason to eat a little extra, but not an excuse to binge.

Friday, November 20, 2009

3 month goals

I went to a goal-setting workshop last night at Crossfit Central. Since I'm in the off-season this the best time to sit down and figure out what I want to accomplish in the coming year. I am on a continuous path to athletic improvement, but what about the rest of my life? Where is that going? This workshop made me aware that I really should be setting some goals for myself outside my athletic life - financial, personal, etc. We did a lot of free-writing, brainstorming, thinking about what our lives would look like in our dream scenarios... our dream scenarios with no voices inside telling us that those things aren't possible.

If you want to achieve something you have to have absolute and complete belief that it can and will happen.

We each narrowed down our long uncensored lists to three things that we would like to see happen in the next three months. Then for each one, we wrote down why this goal had to be accomplished in that time. The deadline for these goals and next goal setting workshop: February 18, 2010.

My three goals are:

1. Run Faster.  I love running and I want to see how fast and how far I can go with it. In the next three months: Run a 1:35 at the 3M half marathon in January and a 1:33 at the Austin half in mid-February. All my diet-tweaking and workout plans need to focus on accomplishing this.

2. Start Saving Money to Buy a House. I have a specific goal for an amount that must be in my savings account on Feb 18. I have been thinking about the house-buying thing for a while, but now it's time to get down to business and actually save up the down payment.

3. Laugh and Smile More.  I tend to get very serious and intense and inwardly focused. I forget to lighten up and smile and enjoy life with a light heart. I feel healthier and happier when I take the time to appreciate the nice parts of life.
Some things I plan to do are:
- every day make at least one stranger smile
- when I make my food log each day, write down one thing I am grateful for
- watch more funny movies and/or funny YouTube videos. get a good belly laugh on a regular basis.
Once I get the ball rolling with this I think it will get to be more natural and less of a to-do list item.

Week 3 Reboot... and the Paleo burrito

Week 2 did not go well, and so here we are at week 3. It's time to reboot this nutrition plan to be something that doesn't torture me. The main thing that wasn't working was eating foods in Zone quantities was leaving me with a sense of deprivation and lots of guilt and anger around food. This week I can eat as much as I need to in order to feel good, while sticking with Paleo foods. Here are the guidelines:

1. Paleo foods: vegetables, fruits, meat, nuts, seeds, eggs

2. I can make compromises on non-Paleo and high-glycemic carbs immediately before, during, and after my workouts. If I am going to eat fruit or grains, that's when I should do it

3. Log my food and make sure I am getting enough protein

That's it. I feel a lot of stress gone already and have had a much smoother day without obsessing over when/how much I get to eat next. Tomorrow I am running a trail half-marathon and now I can eat my extra carbs tonight with no stress.

Paleo Invention of the Day: Paleo Burrito
Take one large collard green leaf and put it flat on a plate. Put deli sliced turkey breast on it (4 oz is good). Add shredded cabbage, spinach, and whatever other raw veggies you have. Top with 1/2 an avocado and Sriracha hot sauce. Wrap the collard green around it like a tortilla and voila! A Paleo burrito!  Deeee-licious!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Ok, I'm deep in week 2 of Paleo/Zone and here is my food log from yesterday:

7am: 2/3 c. oatmeal, 4 egg whites + 1 egg, 9 walnut pieces
8a-4p: 4 oz turkey, 3 oz tempeh, 24 pieces walnut/pecan, 1 sweet potato, 1 small apple (grazed on this all day at work)
4:20p: 3 oz tuna
4:45p: 5 cups spinach and greens, 1 1/2 cups okra, 2 cups cabbage, 6 oz tofu, 5 tbsp avocado (yummy delicious big! vegan! meal)
7:45p: Mixture of nuts and shredded coconut flakes, 1 oz turkey, 2/3 cup oatmeal
ZONE BLOCK TOTALS: 15 protein, 12 carbs, 24 fat

This was a rest day, so I did no exercise and was ok on this amount of food. I got pretty hungry by the end of the work day but made it home and had the tuna snack immediately while I prepared my real meal.

Today was a normal workout day with a one hour intense run and crossfit workout and didn't go so well for eating. I am having some serious doubts about this diet, particularly the Zone part.

Doubt #1:  When I do endurance workouts and need carbs before, during, and after the workout I use up almost all of my 12 carbs for the day, which means that I am unable to have any additional veggies for the rest of the day. Also, I don't like to use my glutamine recovery supplement (Hammer Recoverite) anymore because I would have to waste too many carbs on it for zero eating pleasure. Silly. My old diet had at least 500 calories more veggies per day, great for anti-oxidants and reducing inflammation. Since my family has young-age cancer genes, I need all the veggies I can get right now.

Doubt #2:  I have basically replaced beans, quinoa, brown rice, and sprouted grains with meat and eggs. Not only is that an environmentally unsustainable way to eat, I am no longer getting all the nutrients and fiber. As far as I'm concerned, meat and eggs are merely nutrient-free blobs of protein that are high in cholesterol. I am now getting less nutrients and less fiber than before. Regularity has become a problem. How is this good?

Doubt #3:  I am seriously struggling with the fact that this is taking all the pleasure out of food, previously one of my main sources of pleasure in life. The portions are so small and sometimes I would almost rather not eat at all than have a tiny portion and have to fight myself to not eat more. Physiological distress reduces weight loss anyway so I wonder if it is even worth putting myself through this?  Anyone ever heard of orthorexia? Obsessive-compulsiveness about eating healthy foods, tending towards not eating enough. This diet seems to be setting me up for that and I can definitely see how that type of mindset forms.

Bottom Line:
I am committed to doing this for 30 days. I would like to lose about 5 more pounds of fat. After that, I am leaving myself open to the option of switching back to vegan and eating high fiber unlimited veggies again.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Week 2 - Figuring out natural foods during long workouts

I've definitely leveled-out this week. I'm not hungry all the time and feel better overall. Saturday I went on a 3 hour trail run/walk and I ran about half of it. I went to Rocky Hill Ranch in Smithville, TX and explored the mountain bike trails. It's beautiful single track, both hilly and flat. Next weekend there is a trail half marathon there, and I was also actually checking out the course for that.  Thumbs up - definitely going to do it :) Sunday I rode my bike for 2:30 and did some intense hill repeats on Mesa Dr. here in Austin. I was amazed how strong my legs were on that hill since I've really only been practicing hills in spin class for the past 6 months.

As part of Paleo, I'm trying to transition to more natural energy sources while working out... i.e. gels and sugary processed bars are out.  So far Larabars and apples are working well. I'm excited to try some other things to see if they are just as good as the processed stuff. I went to the store and got dates, raisins, and dried apples to test out next weekend. I'd much rather use whole foods for re-fueling anyway and have only used the gels out of convenience.

One difficulty I'm having is that when I work out in the neighborhood of 2-3 hours, I need a significant amount of carbs during and immediately around the workout in order to make it through. However, with the Zone prescription I am on of only12 carb blocks per day, almost all my carbs are used during the workout and then there are none left to use on veggies in post-workout meals and meals later in the day. I consider the veggies key to recovery and getting anti-oxidants to reduce stress. On long workout days, it really doesn't seem possible to limit myself to 12 carb blocks. 16 is the minimum I was able to do and even then I felt like I was skimping on what I needed.