Wednesday, January 30, 2008

OSCR Race Report

(sorry it's taken me a while to get this up; I came down with a stomach flu on Sunday afternoon and have been pretty worthless the past several days)

The race was a huge success. Our team of folks skied hard, pushed ourselves in terms of speed and endurance, felt the results of our training, and finished feeling strong and proud of ourselves.

In fact, Mamie won first place in the Women’s Classic Ski for the 10k race! Amy and I tied neck-and-neck for the Women’s Classic Ski for the 20k race! And Kevin placed first in the men’s 30-39 age class in the Men’s Classic for the 20k. *

Or at least that’s what we told ourselves to make it seem more victorious than saying that we were all the very last people to finish in each of the races!!!

You see, there are two different styles of cross-country skis. The ones we used, called “classic” skis, are probably what you’re most familiar with. The skis are long and skinny, have scales on the bottom to give them traction, and the movement is a lateral back-and-forth slide—like all the NordicTrack commercials that used to be on tv! (see video-- we might be slightly faster and more coordinated than this guy, but you get the drift...)

The new, hot style of cross-country skis are called “skate” skis. These are long and even skinnier, are scale-less but need to be waxed according to the outside temperature, the boots come up higher on the ankles, and the motion is more similar to speed skating, a more side-to-side motion in which you push yourself forward.

Skate skiing is faster. Much faster, in fact. It’s simply a much more efficient movement. I was trying to quantify this as we were getting passed (which happened a whole lot! the course consisted of two 10k loops; the winners of the 20k race passed us on their way to the finish line when we were just ½ way through our FIRST lap!). Anyhow, it was taking me anywhere from 6-12 strides to compensate for one stride by a skate skier, depending on the terrain, the skier, etc.

So really, we weren’t even in the same race as the rest of the skiers. As Kevin likened it, it was like trying to race a VW bug in a Nascar race. Your bug may be fast and you may be a great driver, but you don’t stand a chance against the high-performance cars. We had heard that there were classic skiers who raced in past years. It must just be too out of style now, as there was only one other person besides us who skied with classic skis.

Anyhow, to describe the race for you: When we drove through the town of Seeley Lake, the marquis read 1 degree. That might sound cold to some of you, but seeing as how it had been -20 the past few mornings, it seemed quite a bit warmer. It was still and quiet, with no wind and no snow. Just cloudy and cool. Great skiing weather, actually. Without the sun, the snow won’t melt and start sticking to your skis. And you warm up plenty quickly skiing, so staying warm enough is only a challenge when you’re getting ready, registering, lining up, and in the first few minutes of the race**.

Mamie did a great job of being honest with herself and realizing the 10k distance was plenty challenging. Because that race started 15 minutes after the 20k, she had to ski the whole thing by herself. That’s a long time to be out in the middle of the woods in the cold by yourself, so we were super proud of her courage and tenacity to do the race solo!

Kevin, Amy, and I skied the first lap of the 20k together. It was Kevin’s first race of that sort, and so he, like most beginners, got all charged up at the start and took off like a banshee. Amy, who has done some running races and knows better, forgot herself and took off with Kevin. I just slow-poked along in the back, and finally hollered at them that they’d better slow it down or else…

After a few minutes, the starting-line adrenaline wore off, and we all slipped into a pace that was comfortably fast. That is, it wasn’t so fast that we knew we could only sustain it for a few minutes. But it wasn’t as slow as we’d go if we were just out for a pleasurable sight-seeing ski. For me, I spent most of my time in the 163-167 beats/minute heart rate (thanks to Dad and Cathy for getting me a super great heart rate monitor for my birthday!)

The terrain was nice and rolly, with lots of challenging uphills that got the heart rate up and made the legs burn a little, followed by downhills in which it was nice to sit back and coast for a few seconds. The woods were beautiful, blanketed in snow, and we saw tracks of deer, coyotes, snowshoe hares, and lots of other skiers!

At the end of the first lap, Kevin decided to break free and do the second on his own. He’s been skiing a lot on his own this winter, and has worked up some more speed (plus his legs are a good 12” longer than mine!) So we said goodbye, and he pushed hard around the second lap, taking a full 15 minutes off of his time without us to hold him back. Way to go, Kev!

Amy was starting to have a hard time at the end of the first lap, and thankfully had the where-withal to realize that she needed some external motivation. She’d been skiing a bit behind me and Kev for a while (we had to ski single-file or else we’d get run over by the speeding skate skiers who kept whooshing by), and couldn’t hear the conversation. So she’d been left with her own headspace for a while, was starting to get tired, and was having a hard time mustering up the motivation to continue on with the second lap. Thankfully, instead of talking herself into bailing out after the first lap, she hollered up to me, “Carly, I need a pep talk.”

“Okay, I know, I’m getting tired, too. Here’s the plan. We’re going to stop up here at the aid station and eat some Hammer Gels and drink a cup of water. We’ll stretch a little, take 5 minutes or so to rest, and then continue on. Then throughout the next lap we can stop for several short breaks. We’ve already done the first lap in 1:30:00, so we have plenty of time (the cut-off was 3:45:00). We’ll eat several times between now and then to keep the blood sugars higher, and then we’ll feel so great about ourselves when we finally finish. Okay?!”

It must’ve worked, because she was in like a champ for the second round. I realized that we probably went a little too long before fueling up for the first time. I’ve read from several sources that when exercising for longer than an hour and a half or so, one should eat at least 100 calories every 45 minutes or so. The body just simply has a hard time finding fuel after long bouts of sustained aerobic activity. And with one and a half hours of moderate-intensity work at below-freezing temperatures, we had used up any calories that were easily available, and our bodies were starting to have to dig deeper to find fuel. Which is great, mind you. That’s what makes those fat reserves really fly off! But, it’s best to supplement with some simple sugars and electrolytes, as found in gels, bars, and sports drinks.

We both felt much better after fueling up, and had a great second lap. We stopped after another 35 minutes and shared a Luna bar, the plunged back in for the final push. Several of the 50k skiers passed us in the last stretches, as they joined back in from their trip to afar. We made sure to cheer them along as they whooshed past, and a few even returned the favor.

We finally crossed the finish line together at 3:06:?? We were the last ones to finish the 20k, and most of the 50k-ers were already back by then. But it was still victorious for us. Team SlowPoke, as we dubbed ourselves, stood our own and finished our races, even against a field in which we had no chance of winning, much less competing. We had several days of skiing together on the weekends prior to the race, in which having the race as a goal increased our motivation to get together and ski longer and harder than we probably would have without the impending race. It gave us all a common experience upon which to look back and laugh. And it earned us the right to go have an awesome après-ski party. (According to my heart rate monitor, I burned 2,805 calories in that time!)

Thanks, Team, for showing up! You’re all winners to me!

* Unfortunately, Scott had some last-minute vehicle traumas and was unable to make it there to meet us. He enjoyed a true cross-country skiing adventure with his dogs through some Forest Service lands back behind his house, then was still a welcoming host for the après ski party.

** I wore a pair of running tights under fleece pants on the bottom, and a light-weight polypro shirt, a light fleece shirt, and a pull-over shell on top. Plus fleece gloves and a hat. Again, I was a little cool to start off, but within 10 minutes was sweating, and was fully drenched by the end!

Friday, January 25, 2008

My New Year's Resolutions

New Years? Wasn't that 25 days ago? Maybe for some. But for me, today is the beginning of a new year. Of a new decade, in fact. It's my 30th birthday, and I couldn't be more excited for such a landmark occasion to spell out some goals for the next year.

In no particular order, I want these themes/goals to guide me:

Live with Intention. Be healthy. Be contagious.

Over the next few days I'll be thinking and writing more about each of these goals. But since this blog is first-and-foremost about health and fitness, I'll start with furter defining my goal to Be Healthy.

This includes several sub-goals, but basically I want my personal health and fitness to guide both my daily life and my longer-term goals. I live in this body. Mind and spirit are housed here, and at least on this earth, must reside here. So my Self is nothing without its Body. They are inter-connected and thrive on one another. If I want to be smarter, happier, more successful, whatever, I need to make sure that my body's with the program. And as my body becomes stronger and more pure, my thoughts and actions will follow.

Subgoal 1: I want to continue to refine the roles of food in my life. Most of the time it is fuel. It can also provide pleasure. But first and foremost it is the fuel that will keep my fire burning. My new Image for Success is thinking about two different fires. In one, the fuel is garbage. As the fire burns it spurts and sputters and emits a caustic smoke. No one really wants to be around this fire-- it has purely a utilitarian function, to get rid of the waste that no one wants. The other fire is in a campfire ring in the middle of the woods, fueled by natural logs from the trees nearby, with a flickering flame enlivened when the breeze blows. This fire is warm and comforting, people want to be around it, and it serves not only the function of providing warmth but also is a gathering place, where conversations are had, songs are sung, and memories are created. We've all been around both of those fires. I want to create my life to mirror the latter. Which means I need to fuel myself with goodness, not garbage. In time, learning to love the good stuff will make it seem more pleasurable than the garbage.

Subgoal 2: I want to continue to challenge myself physcially, to see what this body is capable of doing when the mind and spirit get in sync with it. Thus the list of endurance races I'll be participating in. I want to learn to set goals that are achievable... but just barely. For example, one day last week my triathlon instructor was running along with me, and we were talking about my 3 mile time trial that I did a few weeks ago. "So," he asked, "what kind of time would you like to pull for a 5k this summer?" "Uh, I guess around 28:00," I replied. But then I started thinking about it. I already did a 28:50, without having specifically trained for it, without mentally committing to give it my all until half-way into it, and without the adrenaline factor of a race. Would knocking off 50 seconds be that much of a challenge? Or should I shoot for 27:00?! If I shoot too high and miss my target, at least I will have (hopefully) come within close range, and will definitely be better than I am today. So throughout my 30-year-old phase I'll be working to set good goals and working my tail off (literally and figuratively) to meet those challenges.

More on the other goals soon.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

This Week's Workout Plan

A little bit retrospective at this point... After a 10 mile fast ski through a blizzard on Sunday, the goals for the rest of this week have been to keep moving and keep the muscles and joints loose, but give them a bit of a break to recover and store up some energy for this weekend's cross-country ski race. So here's what I've been up to:

Monday: went on an impromptu x-c ski with a friend up in Seeley Lake-- ungroomed trails, 0 degree temps, sunny and stunningly gorgeous day (I didn't bring my camera, unfortunately, so I can't share the awesome views of the mountains that we got to see); then when I got back to Kalispell I went to the gym and swam ~900 yd

Tuesday: swam for about 30 minutes

Wednesday: Triathlon Class-- we biked for 40 minutes, ran for 25, and then did core work for 10

Thursday: Triathlon Class-- tonight we're supposed to bike and run again; my legs are still somewhat sore from workouts earlier in the week, and I'm definitely not feeling rested. So I'm going to take it super easy tonight (probably walk instead of run).

Friday: REST DAY. As tempting as it will be to go to my favorite Friday morning Power Pump class, I don't need to be doing any weight lifting the day before a race! So I think I'll take myself out to breakfast instead :) It will be my birthday, afterall!

Saturday: The OSCR-- 20k, here we come. I'll put together a race re-cap for all of you next week.

Sunday: Yoga. and perhaps a short easy run or walk to work out some stiff muscles.

(Note to those of you who have been tuning in for Friday's Weigh-In's: Because of this week's impending race, I have not been dieting quite as much as in the past few weeks, trying to make sure I'm well-fueled and ready to rock. So I'm not expecting any losses this week. But we won't know, because I'm not even going to weigh in. As stated above, because it's a rest day, I won't be going to the gym on Friday morning to do my weigh-in. So you'll just have to wait til next week!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Words of Encouragement

It's a bit of a hectic week, so I haven't had time to write a post yet (though I've been thinking of them in my head!). So to tide you over until I get a chance to sit down and type, here's a recent email from my Dad giving some words of encouragement in response to some of my recent confessional posts about my struggles with making healthy eating decisions:

When I was 21 years old and in undergrad school I weighed as much as 212 pounds. Some of that was due to being laid up with a bum knee, but I never got below 190 until, at age 33, I decided to stop looking like the Pilsbury Doughboy. I lost the weight the right way (gradually, and by developing good habits such as eating breakfast in the morning rather than late at night) and got down to about 165. I'm up a little from that now but not so much that I can't get back with minimal effort.
Since that time 25 years ago there has never ever ever ever been a time when I could permit myself to eat what I want whenever I want. It is to this day a constant battle, but one which I take pride in winning. It's become fun to say NO to temptations. When the doughnuts come out at work (and I work around lots of cops!) I decline and say something like "thanks, but I'd rather shoot some crack". You just have to learn to do and say little things like that to get around the urges.
I think you're doing great, and you look great as evidenced by the ski picture from last weekend! Love you, Dad

You know, I've always thought of my Dad as the paragon of fitness and good eating-- ever since I can remember, he's been relatively trim and fit, he makes it a priority to exercise several times a week, and he eats healthy but tasty foods (and has great taste in beer!) I never realized that this lifestyle that has always seemed natural for him didn't actually come naturally. He had to work at it, and still does. So this email really meant a lot to me, to know that he probably understands my struggles more than I previously thought.

How about you? What kinds of tricks do you have to resist temptations when they come about? Who are your role models in terms of health and fitness? What kinds of things can you learn from them about how they make exercise and fitness decisions?

A little food for thought...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Deciding to Tri

(Note: thanks for bearing with me as I keep changing my color schemes... I'm searching for just the right one!)

So, folks, if you may have noticed, there’s been a new race posted to my list of upcoming events: the Summit Solstice Triathlon on June 15. Yep, that’s right, I’ve decided to try the big T. It’s been coming, I’m sure you’ve guessed, since I started swimming. But I haven't been totally convinced that I wanted to try a triathlon-- mostly because the swim portion seems like a weak spot for me and because I don't really want to kick out a bunch of money on gear (especially the bike stuff). But finally last week that I made the leap and decided to give it a try.

As I’ve mentioned, I started swimming shortly after my Half Marathon in November, in hopes of finding a way to keep up my cardio fitness without doing quite so much running (because I was a little tired of it after my big race, because winters are tough for finding time/places to run outside, and because I didn’t want to feel like a gerbil on a treadmill or elliptical more than once or twice a week!). So I took to the pool and started making baby steps, errr strokes. I actually was using a Beginner Swim Plan that’s somewhat similar to the Couch-to-5K plan I used when I was first learning to run).

So around the first of the year I decided to sign up for the Aquathlon at the Pond, a race in Frenchtown (just down the road from our house), which entails a 1000 yd swim followed by a 5K run. I know the 5K is totally do-able now, but the swim is a daunting distance, and will keep me diligent in my training.

Hoping to get some good instruction, I signed up for Adult Intermediate Swim Lessons at my gym. Turned out, I was the only one who signed up, so they put me in a class with two beginners. While the instructor tried to accommodate, it became quickly obvious that she is much more skilled at teaching the beginner levels, and admitted that she wasn’t sure she could help me.

That evening, a little bummed after my much-anticipated lesson, I remembered my yoga instructor saying something about a Triathlon Training Class. So I inquired at the gym and found that yes, there was one being offered, and there was an informational meeting about it the next day. That was last Wednesday, so I went and checked it out.

The instructor is a local school teacher/triathlete who’s been running for over a decade and triathloning for about 5 years, and just completed his first Ironman last summer (e.g. much more credibility, in my mind, than the lady who teaches beginner kids’ swim lessons!).

So, I signed up for the class. We had our first real sessions this week. There are several other ladies in the class, a few of whom have completed a few sprint-distance triathlons, and some of whom have not been on a regular fitness routine in a while but are willing to try and want to get in shape. So I feel like it’ll be a good group to work out with, and a good way to get to know some folks in the Kalispell area where I work and live during the week.

We’ll be meeting on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and will do combinations of biking, swimming, and running, and some core work. For now, it’s all indoors, but once spring rolls around we’ll be heading outside for some workouts.

So, heck, I’ve been running and loving it, I’m swimming and starting to make progress, and I’ve always felt pretty confident and strong on a bike. So why not tri?

(By the way, this means I'm now on the hunt for some gear. Especially the kind that doesn't cost much, as I'll be spending plenty on entry fees, new shoes, padded bike shorts, etc. this year. But if anyone has or knows of a used road bike and/or wetsuit, I'd love to find those things at a discounted price. So keep your eyes out.)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Call Off the Whaa-mbulance

Well, folks, I think maybe I cried wolf too soon yesterday. After posting and icing all morning, I went out for a walk during my lunch break, and my knee felt fine. In fact, the weird sensations I'd had there had moved down into my calf, which was just sore. Hmm, that's weird, I thought. I had decided earlier in the day to at least stop by the gym and tell my Triathlon Class instructor **more on this later** that I wouldn't be working out today. But by the time I got to the gym, I had no pains whatsoever, no swelling, etc. So I decided to try the bike for just a few minutes and reassess. No problems. So I continued on with the remaining 30 minutes, then even ran 2 miles, all with no problems.

Was I pushing my luck? Probably. Was it worth it this time? Yup. I had a good workout, and realized that sometimes pain may be displaced or otherwise weird. My calf is still a little sore today, but the knee and everything else feel just fine.

Just as I was so proudly touting that the more you get to know your body the more you can understand what it's trying to tell you... Yeah, maybe not always.

But this does seem like the week for injuries... Robyn whacked her knee a good one (nice visual image.. see comment on yesterday's post!), another friend is having neck/spine issues and starting to see a chiropractor, Jordan is having some weird wrist issues associated with massive amounts of pull-ups, etc.
Injury from over-use or mis-steps is the biggest downside to training for athletic events. There are so many benefits-- health, happiness, etc-- that outweigh the possible costs. But still, it's somethign to keep in mind and to be careful of. Train wisely.
Somehow the stars are aligned for some funky mis-haps this week, so watch your steps! But still have fun.

Monday, January 14, 2008

This Week's Workout Plan

The focus this week was again to be Endurnace, where every other day I was hoping to get in some longer workouts that would keep my body accustomed to working hard for longer periods than usual. As you know, the OSCR ski race is next weekend, where I'll be trying to ski at a quick pace for 2-3 hours. So this week was supposed to be the last week of endurnace conditioning, and then next week would be a taper week, to cut back the workout length and intensity about 50% to let my energy build up for the race.

However, I got a monkey wrench thrown into the plan on Monday in Boot Camp class. We were doing an interval set where you shuffled around the bench (ala football player shuffle) for 8 counts, then did 4 jumping jacks, then change directions. Some how on one of the shuffles I took a weird step and felt a slight tug in my knee. I didn't think too much about it, except reminded myself to stay focused and not get out of control with those movements. I finished the workout, and then went on to bike for a while. But when I got home I was feeling some weird sensations in my knee. So I iced it for a while and went to bed.

Yesterday morning my knee was a little stiff and just odd feeling, but I wasn't able to give it any TLC because I ended up having to snowshoe for about 4 hours for work thorugh deep, rough terrain. It was definitely a good workout. My knee didn't bother me, but again it was a bit funny feeling last night and again this morning.

As I write, I have it propped up and am icing it (I filled my sandwich baggie full of snow!) It doesn't really hurt, it just feels a little weird when I walk around. Drats. It's often hard to tell-- am I actually injured, or is it just sore?

The more I work out and train and get to know my body, the more I'm able to tell the difference between injury and discomfort. I know that this one, whether I like it or not, is an injury. Not bad, thankfully. But perhaps one that could get worse if I ignore it and keep going with my workouts as planned. It's tough to give up on my plan for the week, though-- I was looking forward to a bike and run this afternoon. And I was looking forward to burning lots of calories. But I'd also like to keep doing it for a long time, and I know that if I injure myself worse, I'll have to take more time off.

So, I'll be modifying my workout plan for the week. Today I'll grudgingly take a rest day, keep icing, and do some light stretching. Tomorrow, depending how it feels, I'll probably swim, since that's really easy on the knees. Power Pump weight lifting on Friday? I doubt it, just to be safe. But hopefully by the weekend I'll be up for a ski. I really think that I just lightly strained or sprained something in my knee, and that with a few days of care it will heal up nicely. But what a bugger.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sliding down the slippery slope

No, I'm not talking about yesterday's fun 9-mile ski that I did. No, I'm confessing my Moment of Weakness that I just had, where Bad Carly won without contest.

First of all, I'd decided that today would be my No-count day, where I wouldn't worry about my calories and would allow myself one day to eat freely. Pretty much every diet plan that I've seen that seems to work for folks long-term recommends a cheat-day or free-day once a week. So, since today's my rest day, I figured the two would complement one another to make for a nice Sunday.

The morning began as I'd planned... I got up 1/2 an hour before Jim needed to get up so that I could make coffee and breakfast (I know, I'm too sweet... but actually the gesture was in thanks to him for making the coffee and quietly slipping out of the house yesterday, letting me sleep in, and also not perstering me to go check cows with him at midnight). I'd bought one of his (and my) favorites-- a tube of orange sweet rolls (just bake and slather with icing). I had 3 rolls and 2 strips of bacon. Bad, yes, but not horrible. Especially considering that today's lunch is salad, and dinner is bbq sandwiches with slaw and beans (I made the slaw with fat-free yogurt and low-fat mayo, and did the beans from scratch with much less sugar and fat added as what you'd normally find). So even though I knew the day was going to be a splurge, it wasn't going to be too bad. And I was mindfully splurging-- not counting, but also planning ahead to make sure I didn't do too badly.

Then I had to run to the bakery to get some buns for sandwiches, and as I approached the counter to pay, I saw a pan full of brownies in the display. "I'll take these buns and one of those brownies," I said. Before I knew it, I'd hopped in the car and devoured 2/3's of a very large brownie. Ugh!!!!!! What was I thinking?! I didn't need that at all. It wasn't even all that good! And now I feel like crap, both for mindlessly falling for something totally crappy, and because it's sitting in the bottom of my stomach like a bomb. Crap.

It makes me wonder if starting off the day with crap is a worse idea than I thought. It always seems that once I start eating badly, it just continues on, and I somehow rationalize decisions by saying "well, you've already killed the diet for the day, might as well keep eating crap." But actually, the decision wasn't even that conscious. It was seriously like the Bad Carly alter-ego just took over everything, fueled by her sweet roll and bacon grease.

I think I'll try avoiding that slippery slope in the future, and even on my No-Count days still try to start off the day with a healthy breakfast.

(Note to my dear readers... if you ever feel like posting a comment, either to give an Atta-Girl, or to say "way to go, dumbass", you can do so by clicking on the "0 Comments" at the bottom of the post, and then type in what you have to say; you can sign up for an account, or just do it as "anonymous" and sign your name to the end of your comment.)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Dining Out

You've seen me mention Qdoba, the cali-mex restaurant that sits smack in between my gym and my apartment. They have good, quick food and super tasty salt-lime tortilla chips... many nights I drool as I drive by there (especially after a swim!) Especially when living and cooking by myself on weeknights, it's awefully tempting to swing in and grab a burrito and some chips. But in the effort to A. not spend a lot of money eating out, and B. lose some of my extra body mass, I try to limit my Qdoba stops to one night every 2-3 weeks. This week was one of those weeks.

In past stops I've typically ordered the following (I'll refer to this later as Meal A): a "Naked" Chicken or Pulled Pork Burrito (naked meaning without the tortilla, so it's just a bunch of stuff in a bowl-- I was trying to be healthy and cut some calories), including cilantro-lime rice, pinto beans, meat, and pico de gallo or salsa verde, and often I'd say yes to the cheese and sour cream; then-- here's the bad part-- I'd also get a Large order of chips and queso (a warm, spicy cheese dip).

This week when I stopped in, I pre-meditated my order. I'd say no to the cheese and sour cream, and would also skip the queso. That would cut a lot of the fat out of the order, but still allow me a little treat with the chips. My will-power to resist the unhealthy choices was boosted when one of my class instructors from the gym came in and got in line behind me!
So here's what I ordered this week (I'll refer to this later as Meal B): A "naked" chicken burrito, with the rice and beans and both salsas, but without cheese or sour cream, and with a Small order of chips.

What's the difference, I began to wonder? Does this really matter that much whether or not I skip the queso or the tortilla? While in line, my instructor and I were chatting about how the tortillas pack in so much extra-- in fact, he said he'd looked online at the nutrition information and saw that they were more than 300 calories each! So that prompted me to check out the nutrition information on the website. Here's what I found, as it pertains to my two meal choices:

Holy smokes! My previous meal was nearly 1700 calories!!! Compare that to the ~2000-2200 calories a day that I typically burn-- that doesn't leave much room for anything else to eat all day without going way over (and we know what eating more calories than you burn can lead to...). I was also astounded to see how much that tortilla would change things. Even eating a regular burrito without the additional fat (cheese, sour cream) makes for a nearly 900 calorie meal. Not bad if you're burning a ton, and/or if you're okay with maintaining your weight. But if you're trying to shoot for a ~1400-1500 calorie/day diet to lose weight, the burrito is not as "healthy" of an option as you may think.

The point of this blog post isn't to make you feel guilty about your burrito stops. I know too well that there are just too many great burrito shacks in Kalispell and Missoula (and I'm sure elsewhere) that are quick and easy and tasty for those of us who are constantly on-the-go. I'm not advocating we Band the Burrito. Just order wisely. Think about what your goals are, and how you can make your burrito addiction work with them :)

The other point was that there's tons of information available on the web to help you make informed decisions when eating out, especially if you take a little time before-hand to do some research. I've found that many of the national chains have information available on their websites. There's also a site called Healthy Dining Finder that lets you search for restaurants in your area, then shows you the best choices from their menu. For example, did you know that the Country Dinner Platter of Chicken 'n Dumplins from Cracker Barrell is one of the recommended meals (at just around 600 calories)? I was pleasantly surprised. See, "eating healthily at a restaurant" doesn't just mean "order a side salad with no dressing!"

So, with the weekend nearly here, have fun going out to dinner one night. Do your research and make a pre-meditated choice of what to order before you get there, and then enjoy your meal with the satisfaction of knowing that you made a good decision. You can still treat yourself-- just do it mindfully!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

This Week's Workout Plan

Since the week's nearly over ;)

Monday: I did Rose's "Boot Camp Basics" class, in which we did lots of high-intensity intervals using the step, with lower-intensity recovery bouts; we also did some squats, lunges, and deadlifts with weights, and then hit the floor for some ab work; I also tried out a swimming class, where I swam maybe 200 yd (I was the only one who signed up for the Intermediate class, so they lumped me in with the Beginner class; we spent most of the 1/2 hour learning to blow air out of our noses and float on our backs... not exactly what I was hoping for)

Tuesday: 4-4.5 mile "easy run" that I referred to in Wednesday's post

Wednesday: (for work I forgot my snowshoes and ended up post-holing in knee-deep snow up a 1/2 mile long hill; that was a good 30-min cardio/leg strength workout I wasn't planning on!); then I biked for 25 min and ran for 15 min with a Triathlon Training class (perhaps a better alternative to the swim class)

Thursday: I did my Power Yoga dvd this morning; this afternoon I'll do 25 min on the elliptical, then hit the pool for a 900 yd workout (Week 2, Workout 3 if you follow this link)

Friday: 25 min run then Power Pump weight-lifting class

Saturday: long ski! Sunday: Rest!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Self Exams... they're not just for breasts :)

I’ve been doing a little bit of evaluation of my running performances here lately, and have been reading up a little bit about form and training and such. I thought I’d share a few realizations/experiences.

These are my time splits from my 3 mile on Sunday:

Looking at the times, I see a few things. Perhaps I started out a little faster than I needed, seeing as how I dropped off after the first mile. But more importantly, I see proof that when I committed myself to digging in and running that third mile, I picked up my initial pace (I wasn’t totally convinced when I started if I was going to do 2 or 3 miles, but about 2/3’s of the way through the second I decided to not be a pansy and back out of that third mile). That to me is evidence that 1. I’m pretty sure that I could have done that second lap faster and taken more time off of my total; and 2. If I decide to dig, I can find something there.

That realization-- that I can dug deep and it showed-- helped keep my spirits high and my focus sharp yesterday afternoon as I did a solo run (i.e. I left my music behind and only hung out with my thoughts!) in the snow on a hilly route. I had it scheduled to be an “easy run,” or one in which I kept my pace fairly slow and actively recovered from some harder workouts in the past few days. My intention for the day’s that run was to run with intention and stay focused. I find it’s easier to stay focused when I’m running hard than when I’m doing a slower-paced run! For longer runs—10k’s, half marathons—the pace is slower than for a 5k, but I still need to learn to stay focused on my technique, so that I’ll know when to pull out my last energy cards.

Speaking of technique, when I was looking again at our Finish Line photo from the Outer Banks Half Marathon, I noticed that my posture is less than perfect. If you notice, I’m almost in a squat position, where I'm really sitting back on my leg and letting my knee lead, instead of letting my chest and hips lead (see Robyn, for comparison). I was tired, and had stopped using my core to hold me up and project me forward. Thus by slumping, I was putting more of my weight on my legs with each step, thus making my quads and glutes work harder, which was making me more tired, which was making me slump more…. a vicious cycle. My slumpy form also helps explain why I was getting a bad cramp in my ribs, and why when Robyn reminded me to “remember [my] yoga,” the pain lessened—for at least a few moments, I breathed deeply and elongated my core, allowing my lungs and ribs and internal organs more room, so that they weren’t all pressing on each other and sending out sharp pangs.

Oh, so much to learn. I used to think that running meant you just sucked it up and ran. But there’s so much more to it. You have to learn pacing, you have to work on your form, you have to figure out your ideal stride, and on and on. But that’s actually why I’m still doing this. If I just went out and jogged the same route every day at the same pace, I’d get bored and quit in a month. I’ve always been one to thrive on challenge. For now, running poses innumerable challenges.

Bring ‘em on.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What's for Lunch?

How to achieve a negative calorie deficit for the day without being hungry. That's the topic of today's discussion. Trying to plan meals that are healthy, balance, and will keep me full and give me energy to work out, yet contain about 1400-1500 calories (so that I can burn about 2000 in a day and, if I do that every day, burn an excess 3500 calories a week, which equals one less pound of body fat!)... not an easy task.

I find that if I take the time to plan what I'm going to eat for the day, and log that into FitDay, it helps me stick to my plan and know where I can add or need to drop things from my menu. Here's an example from today:

Breakfast: Smoothie: 1/2 c each plain yogurt & milk; 1 banana; 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (300 cal)
Snack #1: ½ pb&j (1 piece bread; ½ Tbsp b, ½ Tbs low-sugar jam) (160 cal)
Lunch: 1.5 cups homemade vegetable soup w/ ¼ cup diced cooked chicken (125 cal); spinach/red pepper salad with lemon-dill-yogurt dressing (40 cal)
Snack #2: orange (65 cal)
Dinner: 1 medium chicken breast, baked in a foil package with spinach, celery, onions, garlic, herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil; ¼ cup (uncooked) brown rice (550 cal)
Dessert: 1 cup no-sugar-added hot chocolate (60 cal)

I used FitDay to come up with the calories in each of these foods. In addition to calories, the program also shows me how many grams of protein, carbs, and fats I am taking in, and what percentage of my total calories comes from each of those categories.

With the meal plan listed above, I see that I have planned about 1290 calories for the day, which is a little under what I’m shooting for. So where could/should I add on? Well, let's look at what I'm eating in different categories. First, I've got lost of veggies included today-- spinach, carrots, celery, tomatoes-- what with the vegetable soup, the salad, and the add-ins to the chicken packet for dinner. I'm getting lots of good vitamins. I also have a banana and an orange, further boosting the vitamins. Fruits and veggies are all-stars; they add lots of goodness with little punch to the pooch (the stomach pooch, that is). So I have a good balance of fruits and veggies.

How about protein? I have 107 g protein, which is about right. I’ve seen recommendations that active adults should have 0.4-0.6 times their weight in protein per day. If you’re actively stressing your muscles and adding weight training to your routine, you may want to bump that up to 0.8. So for me, the 0.6 - 0.8 range is 84 - 112 g protein a day. I'm right there.

I definitely don't want to add any more fat in (and since it's a weekday I steer away from calories from alcohol... save those for a weekend treat). So that leaves me with carbs. I'm trying to shoot for 60-70% of calories coming from carbs, and 20% or less from fat. Nutrition advisors keep pointing towards whole grains, fruits & veggies, and other complex or low-GI carbs-- those that will fill you up and provide slow, long-lasting energy release, as opposed to quick-release carbs (sugars, refined flours, etc) which get digested faster and cause more peaks and crashes for your blood sugar. As long as these types of carbs make up the majority of your carbs for the day, you'll keep your energy up but your blood sugar level, which will help stave off hunger and keep your metabolism slowly cooking along.

As it is, I have about 38% of my calories coming from protein, 49% from carbs, and 13% from fat. Not bad… so that tells me that if I want to add something else in, maybe it would be best to add in some complex carbs (a piece of bread, a toasted pita, or some low-fat croutons in my salad at lunch would work) in order to balance out the ratio.

Whew, that's a lot of work. Do I do this every day? No. But when I'm trying to lose some weight, like I did last spring and like I'm doing now, it seems to be the best way for me to really maintain a high awareness of what I'm eating. And once I do it for a while, it becomes habitual to eat a good balance of good things, and helps Good Carly make informed decisions to overpower the temptations that Bad Carly tries to present (like if somebody comes by with a plate of Lil' Smokies and fudge again...)

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Starting Block

So, after spending the morning on Saturday reflecting on what the last year meant to me, I spent a bit of the day on Sunday determining where that puts me now. Being the scientist that I am, I know that you can't measure change unless you have baseline data. Since I'm interested in making changes to my body size/shape as well as to my running abilities, I figured I should take some measurements to see where I am right now.

Body: I hopped on the scale Friday morning, so that's the weight I'll use as my baseline weight. Then I dug out a measuring tape and took some measurements from the three places that I'm most interested in seeing change in-- I measured the distance at the largest part of my waist, hips, and thighs. It's not fun; it's not flattering. But hopefully it'll help me measure changes a bit more wholistically than just looking at weight changes. The numbers were:

Weight= 141.4, Waist= 31.5", Hips= 39.0" Thighs=24.0"

Running: I have heard Robyn mention doing time trials several times, but have never really understood what those were, or why I should try them. But after talking with her on Saturday, she had me slightly convinced that they're a good way to measure your improvement. Basically, for a 3-mile time trial, you warm up with a nice jog for 15 minutes or so, and then run 3 miles as fast as you can, and see how long it takes. So, after disappointingly finding that it was too icy to do my long run outside yesterday, I hit the track at the gym and did a time trial. Again, it's not fun. It's not easy. In fact, it's hard. Especially the last mile. But I kept telling myself "This is what makes you better" ("This" being pushing through the discomfort in order to accomplish a goal; "better" meaning faster at running, plus more adapted to dealing with difficult situations in running and in life). The results were:

3 miles= 28:50 (28 minutes, 5o seconds; which is, by the way, over a minute faster than my 5k time 9 months ago!)

Okay, so there's a big slab of honesty to start off a Monday morning. Now anyone who reads this blog will know where I stand, and can tell when I report back in a few months whether I've made any progress. How's that for holding myself accountable?!

2007 In Review...

(written on Sat am)
Well, it's now almost a week after the New Year, but this is the first chance I've really had to sit down and reflect on what that means. I figured that before trying to figure out any new goals, maybe it would be helpful to think back on what I've learned and done and gained in the past year. So here are some thoughts:

Some things I learned in 2007:

  • I learned that I can control my body size through intentional exercise and conscious eating—note the key words “intentional” and “conscious”
  • I learned that I have multiple running speeds (when I first started, I was either running or not; now I have lots of different tempos I can call upon)
  • I learned that if I diligently follow a training plan, I can accomplish a previously un-thinkable goal (e.g. run 5k in under 30 min; complete a half marathon)
  • I learned that training plans vary somewhat, but the principles are basically the same: if you want to run farther, gradually build up to running farther; if you want to run faster, you have to train at faster paces (pretty simple stuff, on paper!)
  • I learned that getting pepped about a run beforehand makes the run much more fun (and it’s especially great when your friends give you a send-off with high-fives and the Rocky theme song!)
  • I realized that for a 13.1 mile Half Marathon, the .1 is the hardest part of the whole race
  • I learned that there is a wealth of information about running, training, etc. on the internet; some of my favorite sites: Runners World, Cool Running, Run MT (for Montana running events)
  • I also learned a lot about exercise, nutrition, and general health from Women's Health magazine (the only magazine I've ever read cover-to-cover!)
  • I learned about my caloric outputs for different exercises, as well as the caloric values of foods that I eat; this has been paramount in helping me make decisions about what to eat; my favorite website for this information is FitDay
  • I discovered that my previous idea of portion sizes was often much larger than the recommended portion size (do you know what a ½ cup of ice cream really looks like?!)
  • I also discovered that especially that fibrous/whole grain foods are much more satisfying/filling than their more-processed counterparts
  • I realized that I hate power gels; I also learned that they’re the most handy snacks to pack and eat on a long run, and thus I’m working on acquiring a tolerance for them
  • I learned that post-race meals with your race buddies are some of the best meals you’ll ever have; and that your running buddies are some of the best friends you’ll ever have

Things I accomplished in 2007:

  • Ran the following races:
    Run for the Trees (5k) in 29:55
    Rattlesnake 5k (actually it was more like 5.5k): 33:03
    Blue Mountain Women’s Run ("10k"… actually 11k): in 1:09:56
    Outer Banks Half Marathon (13.1 miles) in 2:23:09
  • Dropped my weight from in the mid-to-upper 150’s down to the lower 140’s, and maintained it for >6 months
  • Strengthened my relationship with several friends through running and working out together
  • Started a blog to keep my friends and family informed about my life, especially as it pertains to health and fitness; raised the Accountability bar for myself by publicly disclosing my goals, workout schedules, eating habits, etc.
  • Worked out a life/work balance that allows me to have a good job that I enjoy and that challenges me, have a good relationship, train for endurance events and maintain a my fitness level, get enough sleep, and still spend time with friends; it takes some pre-planning to fit all of that in, but it can be done (especially if you can double-up, e.g. workout with friends, sleep with partner, etc!)

Thanks to all of you for being my friends and supporting me in 2007. This next year I look forward to keeping the ball rolling, and to upping the bar just a bit more. Keep reading, and keeping sharing your stories, workouts, recipes, tips, etc. And join me on a training run, or find a goal for yourself, and I’ll join you for it!

Friday, January 4, 2008

62 Random-but-True Facts About Me

  1. I'm 5'1.5"
  2. my boyfriend (Jim) teases me that only short people care about 1/2 inches(he's 6'1")
  3. watching animals nearly always make smile/giggle
  4. my horse's name is "Monster"
  5. I used to be a vegetarian, but now I hunt big game and work on a cattle ranch
  6. I'm originally from western NC
  7. I decided to move to Montana while drinking a beer with my best friend Robyn our senior year of college
  8. I have no desire to live anywhere else
  9. I was a "band geek" in high school (clarinet)
  10. I was never much of an athlete
  11. I hardly ever exercised in high school, and rarely in college
  12. I once pitched so terribly in a softball game that I actually threw the ball BEHIND me
  13. I've backpacked over nearly all of Glacier National Park
  14. I think toads are cute
  15. I have a scar from where a wild lynx bit me
  16. I have lots of other scars, too, from various (mis)adventures
  17. I love getting letters in the mail
  18. my favorite tv show is The Biggest Loser
  19. my tv has a 4" screen, a broken antenna, and is in black-and-white; I don't watch it much
  20. I ran my first full mile when I was 28 years old
  21. I ran my first half marathon a little over a year later
  22. I swam my first 100 yards a few weeks after that
  23. I signed up for my first triathlon just after turning 30
  24. my default beer is Bud Light in a bottle
  25. my favorite color is green... most days
  26. laughing is one of the best feelings in the world
  27. I love folks who are witty
  28. I have a Master's Degree... In Science!
  29. My brother and I used to love listening to Dr Science on NPR on our way to school
  30. my job title is "wildlife biologist," but somehow I spend most days at a computer
  31. I've always been overweight or chubby-- as long as I can remember
  32. I've learned that the mind is nearly always stronger than the body
  33. I wouldn't mind my body being a little stronger, though!
  34. pushing myself physically and mentally is fun... to an extent
  35. I love to eat
  36. I struggle greatly with eating-- especially portion control
  37. if I could travel to anywhere in the world it would be to Nepal or Mongolia
  38. my dad reads my blog rather religiously
  39. my mom doesn't have a computer, so I sometimes print off posts and mail them to her
  40. I hate sand... but I love seafood
  41. I lose my wallet several times a year
  42. I love telling stories... especially with Jim
  43. I call my pillow-top queen-sized bed my "Princess Bed"
  44. Jim argues it's the "Prince Bed"
  45. I've always been really motivated to challenge myself and succeed at my goals
  46. I have little tolerance for those who aren't motivated
  47. thin, pretty girls still intimidate me
  48. my dream job these days is to be a stay-at-home mom
  49. that's so not going to happen
  50. I rarely stay awake for a full movie
  51. my friends have lots of nicknames for me (Curls, Chuck, MightyMidget, Montucky, etc)
  52. I love being called nicknames
  53. most of my best friends live far away
  54. I wear jeans and t-shirts and don't wear makeup to work
  55. sometimes I don't even brush my hair
  56. I always set the alarm for earlier than I have to get up
  57. artificial smells really bother me (e.g. perfume, air fresheners, new shower curtains)
  58. I can bake bread from scratch in a wood-fired stove
  59. I worked 2 seasons as a cook in back-country hunting camps
  60. I like to plant vegetable gardens
  61. but hate to weed
  62. I love taking quizzes in emails and magazines

Thursday, January 3, 2008


One of the best things about getting hooked on endurance sports is the community of folks who want to support and/or join you in your pursuits. Since I've started running and entering events, I've had several different friends join me: Jenny and Amy have run several 5K's and Amy did a 10K with me, Robyn jogged along with me for the 1/2 marathon, Mamie and Kev and Katie have all biked along with me on some of my longer training runs, and now my mom and her husband are interested in doing a 5K! It's fun to exercise with friends, and great to think that I'm helping to inspire others to get healthy and have fun doing so!

Not to say that my friends are totally willing to join me all of the time. In fact, sometimes I have to be pretty persistent and persuasive to get them to buy into my crazy schemes. See below for an example of me trying to convince Amy that we can and should do the 20k part of the OSCR (am I persuasive enough? If so, you should join us!):

From: Amy
Sent: Tuesday, January 01, 2008 12:40 PM
To: Walker, Carly
Subject: moment of panic!

Hey,I just had a moment of panic...I was checking out your blog and proceeded on to the OSCR website. I checking out the times for the women in the 25k and the slowest 2 hr 49min (I think). Anyhow, I believe all these people are skate skiing because we are doing about 6 miles in 3 hours or a little less. Is there going to be anyone at the finish line when it takes us 6 hours to finish the race? Is there anymore people doing the classic ski in the 10k race??? Maybe we should call the phone number and find out if there are any classic skiiers. I don't mind coming in last but twice the time of the other racers they might just put a dnf next to our names:) What do you think?amy

From: Walker, Carly
Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2008 8:10 AM
To: 'Amy
Subject: RE: moment of panic!

Have no fear, dear Amy. We won’t be left stranded. First, it only took us 2.5 hours to ski the 6 mile loop the other day, and that was on ungroomed trails. So I don’t think we did too badly there. Without any more effort, Kevin and I skied 6 miles in 2 hours on groomed trails two days before, and that included a 15-minute photo shoot at the top (by the way, Kev, send me those photos when you get a chance, would ya?). So I think it’s reasonable to count on averaging at least 3 miles/hour. I mean, heck, that’s slower than the pack test!

Anyhow, I called Lynn Carey, the coordinator of OSCR, and talked with him about it. I told him that we are very novice classic skiers who have no illusions of racing, but are just in for a good challenge. He totally encouraged us to come along, and said it’s a fun time. As you learned from Steve Clark, they no longer run the OSCR from Ovando to Seeley (bummer), but instead do it all on the Seeley Ski Trails. There are three different distances: a 10K loop, a 20K (twice around the 10K loop), and a 50K. (Apparently they decided to do a 20K instead of a 25K and just make it two loops, because they were suspecting that some people were cheating and skipping the extra 5K loop in previous years.)

So if we do the 20K, that’s about 12.4 miles. The race will start at 10:15am, and they want to have everyone done by 2pm. So that means we’ll have 3 ¾ hours to complete the 12 miles, i.e. we need to ski about 3.3 miles/hour. I think it’s totally do-able, especially if we save the picture-taking and whatnot for the end! After the race, they’re having a big Chili feed at the Community Center that everyone’s invited to. Mmm.

They’ll have registration forms online in a few days ( and want folks to sign up early so they can order the right size t-shirts (yes there are t-shirts… why else do we enter races?!)

Yeah, we’ll probably be the slowest goobers out there. But hey, it’s a good way to 1. Get a t-shirt, 2. Burn some buns, 3. Celebrate my 30th B-day, and 4. See some guys in spandex (ew!) - carly

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year's Eve Ski Trip

Amy, Craig, and I went skiing at Lolo Pass on New Year's Eve day. Amy had called the hotline to check on snow conditions there, and thought she had misunderstood the lady to say there was 6 feet of snow. We'd been up there just 2 weeks before, and there was less than 2 feet then. But, as you can see from the photo of the parking lot, she wasn't mistaken (for scale, Craig is roughly 6'4" and is standing on the plowed parking surface; I'm standing on a snow berm next to him). Holy snowbank!

The skiing was nice, but definitely tougher with several inches (8-ish) on top of the groomed trails. It was pretty sticky, and we weren't able to glide much at all, so the 6 miles took us nearly 2.5 hours to complete. It made us a little nervous to think about doing 16 miles for the OSCR-- even though those miles will be on groomed trails and will have more downhill bouts.

I estimated that trip burned nearly 900 calories. Not bad. Of course, I ate those all back-- and more-- at dinner later in the evening (stuffed mushrooms, Asian cabbage salad, tri-tip steak and crab legs, baked potato, whole wheat crescent rolls, and O'Henry bars (chocolate, honey, peanuts, etc)).

It was a great day, and a great way to end out 2007. Hope you all had a good one, too!