Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Race Report: 4th Annual Lompoc Sprint Triathlon 2010

We interrupt the regularly scheduled "Weekly Update" to present you with this race report!  All is well, and not much new, other than my schedule is cinching up with the kids being back in school and all.  And now:  on to the race!

On Saturday, August 14, 2010, I finished my 3rd sprint triathlon: the 4th Annual Lompoc Sprint Triathlon!  The race comprises a 500-yard pool swim at their amazing aquatic center, followed by an 11-mile bike ride out-and-back through the flower fields and a 5K run through the city of Lompoc.  This year's race was a memorial for local business owner Hank Hudson, whose company sponsors many area recreational events.

The Prelude
Why the Lompoc Sprint Triathlon?  I thought it would be a great way to combine my hobby and a parental visit!  I also though it would be much fun for my mom and step-dad to see me race, but it didn't quite work out that regular readers know, my husband had to make an unexpected trip back to Michigan for his aunt's funeral, so I was flying semi-solo on my tri weekend!  I wasn't sure if they would feel up to watching the kids for me, so I had steeled myself to cancel the race if necessary, but silly me: of course they wanted some grandparent time!  And Mr. Handsome-and-Handy lived up to his moniker, as usual:  he packed the kids' suitcase and he made sure my bike and the van were ready for race and trip respectively.  (That's the stuff he normally does before trips and races, but I was extra appreciative of him doing so this time!)

So the day before the race Things 1 & 2 and I did our SF Bay Area to Lompoc road trip!  With kids, this usually takes about 6-6.5 hours...but we hit a lot of traffic during our trip, so it was more like 8 hours.  Ugh!  We did get there in time for the packet pickup, though.  We had dinner at the restaurant Mi Amore, which The Things love for their arcade and their yummy pizza and onion rings!  I enjoyed a nice trip to the salad bar, too.  We did the arcade for awhile, then I was gently reminded that I had a race in the morning and we had no beds set up!  So we went home, got everything ready, I got the kids off to sleep, and then I got to try and sleep before the race.  I'm sure I was a little short on sleep, but oh well!

Racing Day!
...was all-too early, as usual.  But I got up in time to get in a couple of cups of coffee and a piece of frozen coffee cake with peanut butter.  (This was the "Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake" I made, but with a little orange peel + extract - I froze some of the pieces I'd made without the streusel, and they were still great!)

Thing 2 awoke before I went and was a little anxious, so I held her and cheered her up a bit before I headed to my race.  My parents enjoyed their nice grandkid time with Things 1 & 2 while I did my tri thing.  (I have an AWESOME support crew, no?)

I drove over to the Lompoc Aquatic Center, and there it was!  The triathlon transition area, all set up and ready for the big race!  Racing day conditions weren't going to make for pretty pictures, but they were perfect:  overcast, cool, light breeze.

It's a beautiful day!  (For racing, that is!)

I got my gear set up-we had assigned spots, but they were tight and the bike next to mine was intimidatingly nice, so I used my kickstand instead of hanging the bike-and then headed inside for body marking.  We had bibs, but there were no timing chips in this race; race results had only the total time.  The swims were timed, but you had to show up in person to see the posting of the lap swim split.  This race was also different than others by their categories, because the age group categories were based on gender + age range + road bike vs. mountain bike (tires had to be 2" or greater).  Having a mountain-bike style hybrid, this was a great chance to race against similarly-equipped athletes!

I should have ditched my clothes outside and just gone indoors in my suit, but oh well.  I made the all-important pre-race pit stop (thanks, body, for excellent pre-race timing!), then went on into the pool area.

The Swim: 500 yards, indoor pool
The swim was in three heats, and your heat was determined by your self-reported lap swim time on the entry form.  So all the fast, intimidating people went earlier.

Here's Heat 1...

Here's me, wondering what I've gotten myself into...

I was in the third heat.  Silly me:  I though a pool swim would be easy.  Comfort with lap swimming does not equal comfort with racing.  One of these days I'm going to have to do a proper warm-up and not just fuss with my stuff and wander around before the race, and see if that makes a difference on the swim.

I shared a lane with two gals who were tri buddies who'd come down from Oceano for the race, one of whom had just learned to swim that summer!  I'm in awe, because I think it would be really intimidating to do a triathlon as a new swimmer.  We swam in a circle, with the one gal going first, me second, and the new swimmer third.  She stayed right on my tail, though, so I had to push a bit more than I was used to, and then I started to feel a little breathless.  I switched from front crawl to breast stroke to feel like I could get a little more air.  I even did a couple of lengths with my side stroke.  ( I'm actually a little faster on the breast stroke, but it's awkward when you're sharing a lane.)  The nice part was that other people were counting the laps, so when they signaled that this was my last lap, I of course was finally feeling like the swim was going easier.  My swim time ended up being what I expected: 20 minutes for 20 lengths of the pool, which was about my lap swim speed.

So for the record, I think my favorite tri swim was the See Jane Tri swim:  it was open water in a lake with entry on the shore and warm enough to go without a wet suit.  There was plenty of room to spread out, and no salt water and ocean creatures and scary waves & currents.  Not to mention a little shorter...

The Bike: 11 mile, out & back, flat
I dried off, put on my clothes, and when I got to my bike, I slipped on socks + shoes (thanks to Thing 1 for showing me that tennis shoes CAN be slipped on without needing tying/untying) + water backpack.  I packed the plain water with electrolytes.  I also had my carton of coconut water while in transition and this time carried half of an Odwalla Super Protein bar, which I ate after the bike turn-around.  (They were Thing 1's staple protein when he was a toddler - he refused to eat meat after he turned about a year and a half old, and that phase lasted for several years.)

I loved the bike!  Even with my heavy old hybrid with mountain bike tires, I passed people, which is a novelty for me.  (Granted, most people I passed were also on hybrids with mountain bike tires, or real mountain bikes...I got passed by a road bike or two.)  The route was a little bit of residential, then mostly through flower and vegetable fields, so not much traffic.  We had a slight headwind as we got closer to the ocean, but it gave a sweet tailwind on the trip back!

And like other bikes, on the way out, I saw again on several faces that triathlon sight I love the most:  that awestruck, delighted, "I can't believe I'm doing this! Yeah baby! I so rock!" look.  "Why yes, you DO rock!  Isn't this a blast?" I grin back.

The Run: 3.1 mile, out & back, flat
Oddly enough, nothing fell off my bike this time.  That "stickiness," however, extended to my bike helmet.  I breezed in & out of transition, parking my bike and dropping my water back pack, and ran out again.  I called my mom to let her know I was almost done.  And I was nearly a quarter mile into the run before I realized that I had forgotten to remove my helmet!  So I did the run wearing my bike helmet.  It's always something ridiculous with me and triathlons, isn't it?

The run went smoothly.  Some of the people I passed on the bike passed me back on the run.  (Including one of the gals in my category; drat!)  I ran at a comfortable pace, pushing but not overdoing.  I felt like I gauged it pretty well.  I ate a couple of ginger chews for energy during the run, but I didn't carry water.  They had water at the turnaround, which worked fine, except I unwrapped a chew and kept the wrapper but ditched the chew during the cup-toss.  Luckily I had a spare chew.

And it was back to the finish.  I passed a happy group of spectators, who brandished the sign, "Your butt hurts, because YOU are kicking A**!"  Loved it!  I passed a gal on the final stretch across the parking lot, and as I approached the finish, the announcer did something I never had happen:  she announced me!  Coolness!!!

"Here comes #103," my_real_name ",all the way from" my_town"!"

And I did a little leap-with-heel-kick on hearing that, which got a "Wow!" and then I ran into the final stretch, with a hearty "Woo HOO!" on crossing the finish line.  A couple of minutes later, I stopped the time on my watch at 1:25, which I'd started mid-T1.  So I'd finished it in less than 2 hours, which was my goal for this race.
"She's once....Twice....Three tiiiimes a sprint triathleeeete..."

The Post-race
So I got a bystander to take my picture, and I headed over to transition to pack it up.  There weren't a lot of bikes left.  The first timer guy with the nice bike in the rack next to mine was long gone.  I ran into the two gals from the swim, and they both had a great race and are rarin' to do more!  (Me too!)

Mentally, this was a much easier race for me than the Treeathlon.  I didn't have all those negative, inferiority thoughts trying to worm their way into my brain.  The joy was back, in force!  Maybe because the last race taught me that if I'm not going to approach this from a "just for fun" stance, it's not worth it.  Maybe it was finally talking and writing about my frustrations about wanting to get faster and better and move up to the next level, the Olympic distance (2x a sprint distance), and maybe even beyond someday; letting it out sort of "freed" me to just enjoy where I'm at again...I'll keep gradually working toward getting there, and if I get there, I get there.  If I don't, I'll have good health and fitness and some great stories, which are the real prizes.

Physically, I must be in better shape, because I was not totally laid out after this race.  I'm not sure if it was post-race euphoria or more effective fueling during the race, but I had enough gas left in the tank to actively do the recreational swim with the kids for a couple of hours at the pool!  And amazingly enough, I had NO post-race headache!!!  (My last two triathlons, I had some real skull-splitters afterward.)

With Things 1 & 2 at the pool.  
Thing 2 is happy I'm wearing a 2-piece like her (a post for another day...).

The Race Results
The race results were posted promptly, a few days after the race (

I was in the “MJ” category (female, 40-49, mountain bikes), and I placed 3rd of 6 in my category.  I was within 5 minutes of the first place finisher in my category!  Yes! (furious arm-pump)  My total time was 1:39:06, which is my best time ever.  It’s almost impossible to compare races, but my time was better than my “See Jane Tri” time, which had a shorter swim but a hillier bike and run.  I noticed that of all finishers (only two people didn’t finish), everyone finished in under 2 hours, which is a pretty fast race overall.  The top finisher finished in 56:27, to give you an idea of the time spread.

I have to give mad, mad props to the organizers and volunteers of the event and to the officers of the Lompoc Police and the California Highway Patrol who helped! Everyone was so nice.  There were officers and staff at every intersection, stopping traffic and helping us to have a safe, enjoyable race.  MMMMMMMMWAH!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Weekly Update, 8/18/10

I am...

Back from my travels, and happy that Mr. Handsome-and-Handy is, too!  My semi-solo parenting weekend-I had help from my folks-went well.  The kids were great during the trip (and the long, long drive there and back again).  The Lompoc Sprint Triathlon was SO FUN!  I had a fantastic time, and I'm working on the race report.  Mr. H&H's trip was a solemn one, but he did enjoy spending time with his family during the trip.

Not making much progress on my reading.  I didn't get much reading done.  I did enjoy Foodie McBody's excellent post, "Double Book Review: Battle of the Spiritual-Eating Stars."  Darned if her insightful review had me flip-flop a bit on which book was better!  Although, I'd still recommend them both, with the caveat that one or the other may resonate better with a person.  One thing I forgot to mention in my comment over there was that although Ms. Roth talks a lot about her retreats and the positive feedback she received from those who attended, I didn't feel like I missed out, or needed to go sign up for one.  Maybe because I get so much from interacting in the healthy living blogosphere.

Not 100% on my training plan, but I'm okay with it.  Here's the DM chart.  Road trip and "re-entry" played a bit of havoc with my training plan.  I'm going to Cardio Sculpt class today, and I'm going to hit the last Pilates class tomorrow...I just wasn't in the up-before-the-crack mode yesterday.

Sustaining weight and good blood glucose levels.  No change in weight.  7 day overall average was 103 and 7 day fasting average was 107.

I want to...

Work on my running.

Enjoy the last week of kids' summer vacation.

Finish hat #3 and get cracking on hat #4.  I'm much happier with the pattern I'm using.  Maybe it's partly the yarn, which will work better post-hospital for the preemie babies, but I'm going to try and adapt the pattern for the hospital-friendly yarn.

Finish reading Savor.

Sustain weight and good blood glucose levels.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Weekly Update, 8/11/10

I am...

Sad for my husband and his family.  One of his aunts passed away this past weekend.  I didn't know her very well, but I know that his family was close to theirs, so he and his brother are traveling to Michigan for the funeral.

Happy I went back to my regular metformin dose.  Whew! All systems back to normal...or as normal as it gets around here.  For this past week, 7-day fasting was 105 and 7-day overall was 110.

Done listening to Women, Food, and God and stalled out on Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life . I'm not sure I have much new to say about them right now that I didn't say last week. WF&G was pretty good. I liked the point about food being a teacher - especially if one struggles with food issues. I definitely identified with the compulsive overeater subtype of "permitter" (whereas "restricters" tend to crave structure and rules around eating, and then binge when those rules prove to be impossible to follow 100%).  She also discussed "The Voice," a composite voice of authority in our heads, which is funny, because those authoritarian parts of Savor are the ones that irked me.

So I'll be curious to see how this plays out in my eating habits.  One thing from WF&G that I have already done all along was to not have the notion of "forbidden foods," which can (for some people-like me) make you only want them more. When I started out this time around, I had a guideline for what I needed to eat, and there were many foods I chose to not eat on a regular basis, but I never said, "I am never going to eat Food X ever again." I think that, for me, this worked really well.  I learned to limit things that weren't in my best health interest without it being a cause for revolt.  (Scary diabetic consequences are pretty powerful motivators.) Some things were easy for me:  I didn't miss white bread, pasta, rice, breakfast cereal, and the like.  I missed artisan bread, like sourdough; we don't buy it anymore, but if we're out and there's some and I feel like it's worthy, I'll have a little.  Other things were a regular habit.  For example, when I was in my initial frenzy of getting healthy habits, I stopped regularly drinking diet cola. I used to have at least 1 can a day, but I figured while I was highly motivated to flip my habit energies, why not try throwing this one in there, too? It stuck, because I had my tea and such, and nearly every place has either water or unsweetened iced tea, so there was always a good substitute.  I had some more serious binge eating issues (e.g., driving through Burger King and stuffing down a hamburger or two on the way home from work, when I knew dinner was waiting), and I think the shock of hitting my personal rock bottom was needed to switch that.  (Well, and Mr. H&H getting a truly nasty-tasting burger at Carl's Jr. during a road trip, which turned me off of all fast food burgers except In & Out.)  And yet, I still feel like I'm dealing with that mindset at times, even if it's not the amounts or the type of food I used to eat regularly.

Speaking of rock bottom, Christie O. has an excellent interview series with Tara Costa of The Biggest Loser over on her blog; Part 1 discusses how transformative hitting "rock bottom" can be.  (Though we still don't have to *like* it.)  You know what else is kind of funny?  It's almost like my diabetes diagnosis gave me an excuse to be particular about things I ate, and in general, an excuse to take better care of myself in general.  Oh, and over at Refuse to Regain, Barbara Berkeley also touches on rock bottom, although now I'm wondering if the above paragraph sounds like sad-sack "Queen for the Day" talk.  (Do I get a crown, a cape, and a blender now? ;-)

Training! As I said last week, I don't think I've ever followed a training plan exactly, but I do like having a guideline. Here's this weeks's training:

Were I "on plan," I would have had more running in there, but Cardio Sculpt absolutely fried my legs for a few days.  I need to talk to the instructor before I go to next week's class and get advice on how to modify what she's doing, because I can't meet my race training goals if I'm limping around for days after a strength workout.

I want to...

Transition my focus to running training. School starts in a couple of weeks, so next week will be my last week of Pilates for the summer.  Yesterday's class didn't seem quite so excruciating, but there was still plenty of stuff I hated doing.  Teasers and roll-ups, for example.  I think the instructor was pretty good at correcting form, but she didn't really take a lot of time to demonstrate or explain modifications to some of the more advanced moves, and I often felt kind of left to wriggle on my own and find something that worked for me.  I also think the class would have been more enjoyable if done to music; we only had the instructor counting.  That said, this class made me want to get my own exercise ball and do some of the exercises on my own.  (I liked the one where we tossed the ball up and caught it with our legs, and there were others that were kind to my lower back, yet still felt like a good abdominal workout.)

I do feel like it has made my core stronger, but it sure hasn't flattened my abs at all.  In fact, I compared my measurements at the end of July with those at the end of January of this year.  Although I was only 1 pound up, my waist was up 2 inches (!) and my bust was up 1.5 inch (like I needed that); my ribcage and hips were unchanged; left thigh was down .5 inch and the right thigh was up .5 inch.  Now, some of that was undoubtedly PMS fun, but sheeeeesh.

Maintain good health.  Doing the usual stuff.

Finish the Lompoc Triathlon!  T-minus 3 days!  Crikey!  I though this event might need to be cancelled with Mr. H&H gone, but my mom said she'd with watching the kids while I do this, so it's still on.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Weekly Update, 8/4/10

I am...

Going back to my regular metformin dose.  On advice from my doctor, given my stable a1c number, I tried cutting my metformin dose back to one pill per day, taken in the evening.  After 3 fasting numbers that were much higher than I wanted to see (117, 120, 121) and a post-meal number I hadn't seen in a long time (158!), I decided to go back to my regular dose.  Guess that extra 500 mg just gets me where I want to be.  From what I read, when one cuts back on metformin, there's an immediate rise, followed by a gradual rise over a couple of weeks.  I figured that if things went up in just a week, I sure don't want to see where they end up after two.  (FYI, for this past week, 7-day fasting was 113 and 7-day overall was 119.)

Still reading Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life and now listening to Women, Food, and God.  Interesting books, these two.  From what I've read so far of Savor, I can now see what intuitive eating people mean when they say it's not the same as mindful eating.  Savor, it seems to me, is definitely written to people whose weight is affecting their physical health, although its principles can be extrapolated to anyone looking to be more mindful about their eating.  However, it is also geared toward people seeking a program and tips, because it does offer a sort of program.  Their program seems more geared toward those starting out on the journey, although even those just starting this program may have long ago--even before achieving morbid obesity--cut out "sugary sodas" from their diets.

One assumption that I'm finding kind of annoying with Savor is that everyone who is overweight is in ill health and is suffering.  I am currently considered, by BMI chart standards and waist measurement standards, "overweight." (Yes, I know, BMI is not necessarily the optimal measurement, but I think doctors and the like use it to answer the question, what "weight" is "overweight" over?)  I don't feel like I'm suffering (although who knows?  I might be masking my deep existential angst with too many nuts), and I'm enjoying good health.  I feel strong and vibrant.  Contrast this with Women, Food, and God, where the assumption is, weight is not a health problem...unless it is a health problem.

Women, Food, and God is not what I would have expected at all, given the title.  I had some reservations about reading it.  I'd say it's more of a spiritual than a religious book, which for me was a pleasant surprise.  Listening is a good way to receive this work, although sometimes I just zone out listening to Geneene Roth talk (she tends to speak in abstracts), and I find myself having to backtrack.  Her work reminds me quite a lot of Martha Beck's Steering by Starlight; even their voices sound alike!  I just finished listening to Part 1.  A lot of what she said about the "urge to bolt" and dreading the pain of anticipated (potential) bad things (that aren't happening...or aren't likely to happen in a long time, if ever) made me think to myself, "Oh, wow.  I'm not the only one who does that."  (Oh, and she mentions Pema Chodron, always a plus in my book.  I found her audio book Getting Unstuck to be particularly valuable at a time of my life in which I was feeling very stuck indeed.)

The question is, then, if I'm truly okay with where I am, then why am I bothering with these books at all?  Good question.  Part of it is curiosity, seeing if there are any new learnings or practices that I can apply to "sustaining" to make it come more naturally to me, other than the mechanical stuff I've already applied to how I eat.  (Which I think is why I felt a little disappointed by parts of Savor.)  Right now, I feel like I tread a wobbly, narrow, "just good enough" line of  healthy vs. not-so-healthy reasons for eating, if that makes any sense.  In WF&G terms, I still "use" food for non-hunger/nutrition reasons more than I'd like to admit: bonding with others, making myself feel better when I'm in a funk or bored, or even simply out of habit.  (I'm finding my food blog to be really useful in helping me identify these uses.)  I've gotten more "in control" of how I use food, but I want even better for myself.  We are all physically dependent on food, but does being mentally/emotionally dependent on it serves me?  I don't think it will for the long haul.  I know there are no guarantees, but I really want to learn all that I can to help me sustain good health.

Glowing (and *blushing*) in the Spotlight!  The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans' "Sister Spotlight," that is.  Thanks, Christie O., that was such a lovely surprise! (Did you know that she has a shiny new blog?  It's called  Average Moms Wear Capes, where Christie O. lets her cape flap loud and proud, and encourages others to do the same!)

Enjoying the fruits of Mr. Handsome-and-Handy's culinary creativity!  See Monday's entry on Pubsgal Eats for Mr. Handsome-and-Handy's "Chicken ala Jacques."  It's lovely!

Training!  Thanks to the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans' "Ask Coach Joe" article, I found a very doable-looking training plan, and he provided good advice for those training for half marathon distance. (At least for starters...I'm not looking too hard at those 10 milers near the end!)  It's one he wrote for Self magazine (click here to view).  I like that his plan has a day for strength and a day for cross-training built into it, because it meshes well with my fitness fickleness.  I don't think I've ever followed a training plan exactly, but I do like having a guideline.

So I skipped Pilates yesterday morning in favor of a run and a swim, because I hadn't gotten in a swim during the past week.  It was great!  My run was a new route, through the park near the pool I swim at, and out to the trail near the bay.  Where I saw this sign, which cracked me up and made me stop and take a picture.

This sign isn't as much of a non-sequiter as you'd think...  (There's a driving range behind the trail.)
...But then, I've got an active imagination!

I want to...

Keep gradually improving.  I want to stick as closely as possible to Coach Joe's plan and be ready for the 1/2 marathon.  There are a whole boatload of people doing this event, from what I've read, and my motivation to go was mostly social, so I'm not exactly looking to this event as a serious race.  Still, I want to be prepared and be able to finish it.

Maintain good health.  I realize there's a belief I've been sort of clinging to, in spite of the evidence to the contrary.  I think part of why I may eat too much or when I'm not feeling hungry is because I worry about going hypo.  It makes sense to monitor blood glucose levels when I'm working out hard, but the thing is, there is no evidence to support that I'm at risk for this.  My blood glucose levels have been within a reasonable range for the last year and a half, and I'm only taking metformin, which-when taken without other diabetes meds-does not cause this.  (Insulin and insulin-producing oral medications do this, so if you're on those, this does not apply to you!  Read more about hypoglycemia here.)  I think it would be good for me to figure out the balance of waiting until I'm feeling hungry vs. the practice of eating smaller meals more frequently, so I won't eat too much and have my blood glucose levels get out of range.  I am probably eating too much food.

Be ready for the Lompoc Triathlon!  The excitement is mounting!  I received my registration confirmation on Monday!  Woo hoo!!!

Sponsor Lori!  Did you know that Lori at Finding Radiance is using her cycling super powers for good and is doing the metric century "Camp Challenge" ride on September 12?  (I think most of you read Lori's blog, so this probably isn't news, but I was excited about her doing this!)  It supports Double H ranch in Lake Luzerne, which provides services to children who have life threatening illnesses and their families.  Read all about it here.  Way to go, Lori!