Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Biker Bums

If you get a chance today, say a little prayer for my buddy E. She had a bike wreck on Sunday-- nothing too bad, it didn't seem-- just a few scrapes and a raspberry on her abdomen where the handlebars jabbed her. But then several hours later, after being kinda tired and run down all afternoon, she started vomiting.
A trip to the ER resulted in numerous tests and finally an exploratory surgery in which they found a tear in her colon. The surgeons repaired the tear and then put her on numerous antibiotics to help stave off infections that can arise when internal fluids mix in unprecedented fashion.

She'll be recovering in the hospital for about a week.

E is eight years old.

Weigh-Ins (or the lack thereof)

A faithful reader who would likely prefer to remain annonymous recently sent me a message inquiring as to why I haven't posted any weigh-in information in over eight weeks now. "Is that because you've been hanging around a different 'jim?'"

Well, yes and no.

First off, the main reason for the lack of weigh-ins is that I just haven't had a chance to collect the data. I used to weigh myself every Friday morning (and other mornings when I thought of it). I noticed that my weight would fluctuate a good bit during the day based on how hydrated I was, what I'd eaten, etc., but it seemed to be a pretty consistent measurement if I hopped on the scale first thing in the morning.

Since I moved back to Missoula, I've only been around a scale a few times in the mornings, and I just haven't thought to weigh myself. Although I've been working out at least 3 mornings per week, I just meet my friend Jenny at a park where there's no locker room or scale. Twice I've been to the gym to do an early morning spinning class... and haven't thought to weigh in (the scale's in a weird place where I don't walk right by it).

So sorry, but I just don't have any numbers for you.

But, I can tell you how I feel, and what I've noticed. First, I definitely have not continued on the LOSING streak since I moved. And I know I've gained back some of the pudge that I got rid of during my mid-summer crunch to diet and train hard. I have one pair of pants that were just starting to fit well in early August, and now they're a bit snug again. Everything else is still fitting fine-- just not the "honesty pants."

I'd say I'm probably back in the 139-141 range again, where I was most of the past year.

So is that because I've been spending more time with Jim and less time at the Gym?

No, I definitely can't blame him. Here are a few things I can blame:
  • impulsively eating bagels that are so easy to acquire from the bagel shop across the street from my office
  • making lunch dates to get Thai food in the park instead of just having a bowl of soup or a salad for lunch
  • drinking beer on weeknights as well as on weekends (okay, we'll let Jim take some of the blame for that... )
  • once having consumed said beer, making poor choices for dinner (e.g. scarfing down a frozen pizza instead of making fresh stir-fry)
  • scrambling around trying to figure out my new schedule, trying to juggle work, workouts, social life, commuting, etc., and letting meal planning fall down on the priority list... and thus not being as conscious of what I'm eating and often finding myself in the "I'm hungry. Must eat. Now. Don't care what it is" situation
  • taking too much advantage of the "treats" that people sometimes bring to the office (so cruel... just because you get the urge to bake doesn't mean that you can bring it to the office to get it out of your house!)
  • shifting my workouts from hard training-specific workouts to more fun, and slightly less hard-core workouts
  • decreasing my weekly workout time by at least a few hours because of said juggling challenges

HOWEVER, I've now been in Missoula for eight weeks. The thrill of the good bagel shop and other restaurants is wearing off. I've "caught up" with many of the friends I wanted to visit with, and no longer feel quite the urgent need to hang out with folks every night. I'm getting into a new routine of workout times. I've started making meal planning a higher priority again.

And I think that I'll buy a scale to have in my bathroom at home. That way I don't just have to rely on my britches to tell me how I'm doing-- I can do check-ins as often as I want.

For the next few weeks my goal is to just get myself reined in-- not necessarily to diet to lose weight, but at least get back on a good maintenence routine. No beer drinking during the week. Stock up on salad makings, and eat that for lunch. No going out for lunch, or grabbing breakfast from a nearby bakery. Making eating out a special occasion, not a normal thing.

Once I get those habits re-established, then I can work on re-losing what I've put back on!

So, dear reader, I hope that answers your question. Thanks for asking!

Monday, September 29, 2008

This Weekend's Race

My, it's been nearly two months since I've done a race. And mentally I'm not in race-mode, as I haven't been in training-mode. But I'm going to do this race anyway, as it's an annual all-women's run here in Missoula.

I'm not a huge fan of the name. And I'm a little bummed that there's only a 5k offered-- in previous years the Blue Mountain Clinic hosted the race and offered a 5k, 10k, or 1/2 Marathon. Last year I did the 10k, and would've liked to do that distance or the 1/2 this year. But I suppose I'll be forced to suffer a 5k this year! (in my experience, shorter races are tougher because you have to go faster-- rather than slow and steady for a longer time)

Jenny and I will be running this, but not together. She's going for a PR, so I'm leaving her alone to do it (if we run together we'll talk the whole time and not run fast enough!). I haven't been doing much speedwork lately, so don't have any illusions of setting a PR. But I do have a secret time goal (I'll let you know what it is if I make it!) I'm going to go as hard as I can go given where I'm at right now. That's my goal.

And, this will be a great Anniversary celebration. This is the first 5k that Jenny or I ever ran-- back in 2006, after we'd learned to run together. It's hard to believe sometimes that I've only been running for 2 years! Who'da thought back in Oct '06 that I would be whining this year that I couldn't do a 10k or 1/2 Marathon this weekend?!

Anyway, if any ladies in the Missoula area or within a reasonable driving distance want to join, please do! See you there!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Earning Friendship

For the past few weeks my friend Jenny and I have been meeting at McCormick Park (near downtown, along the Clark Fork River) at 6:30am (yes, it's still dark) to run and then do some strength training.

Jenny was my first ever running partner, back when we started doing the Couch-to-5K plan together back in August of '06. And she remains one of my favorite running buddies-- she has some grit-- she always shows up, no matter how hard it is to get out of bed or how tired she is from the day before-- which really helps motivate me and keeps me accountable on those mornings when I could easily just hit the snooze bar just a FEW more times! Also, Jenny has a great sense of humor, and we always have something to talk about-- whether it's work/school-related, what we ate last night that's sitting heavy in our stomachs this morning, where we fantasize about going on vacation, what new scores on clearance-rack shoes we've found.... on and on we chat, until the time has flown by and we're done with our run.

But today we paused in the conversation for a bit. The annual Missoula Women's Run is coming up in a few weeks. This will be Jenny's 4th 5k, and for the first time her goal is not just to finish, but to finish under a certain time. She just shared this goal with me on Monday, and asked me to show her what the pace would be like to do the race in that time. So this morning we headed to the track-- a little graveled track along the river trail about 3/4 mile from our starting point. So we jogged to the track nice and slowly, and then kept our easy pace for one lap. 2:51, or about an 11:24 min/mile pace.

Then we kicked up the pace to Jenny's goal pace. No talking on this lap. I was concentrating hard on trying to hit the pace right on. I've realized that since I've started doing pace work, I've gotten pretty decent at "feeling" a pace. My breathing is the best indicator of how fast I'm going, but I can also tell by the turnover of my legs. So I concentrated on those signs, and checked my watch at the half-way point. And when we got to the end, I looked at my watch again: exactly on our goal, which was 2:34, or a 10:17 min/mile pace.

We walked a bit to recover, then did another lap at this pace. This time I had a little better sense of what we needed to do, so I was able to chat. Jenny focused on her breath, and concentrated on what it felt like to maintain that pace for a 1/4 mile.

We walked again, and then did 2 repeats of 2 laps at race pace, again with me talking about race strategies, about how to be okay with the less-than-comfortable pace, about my strategy to focus on my form when things get tough and I want to quit. And Jenny worked on breathing, keeping her legs turning over steadily, and not chewing me out for being such a perky early morning coach :) She did great!

On our slow jog back to our starting point, she told me about how she was at a dinner party with several gals the other night and told them about our morning workouts and how I always come prepared with a plan for the day. "Wow," one of the girls said, "Carly should charge people like $5 a day to come work out with her."

I laughed! I come with my own workout plan every day, anyway. Having someone there to do it with me just adds that much more motivation and fun. But, then again, $5 would add up after a while, and I could buy another pair of shoes...

So Jenny and I started joking about how her friendship MUST be worth the $5 a day that she would pay me for my workouts. So my pseudo-coaching is really just how I'm earning her friendship :)

But you know, the real vale of our friendship is completely priceless.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Week In Review

Been busy. But amongst juggling a busy work schedule, household chores, cooking, and sleeping, I managed the following:

6:30 am: run workout w/ Jenny: after a 10 min warmup, do walking lunges for 1 min, run for 5, and repeat 5 times; then situps, pushups, and hamstring/glute presses

after work: groundwork/training with our 2-yr-old horse (getting him ready to start riding)-- this is fairly active work

6:15-7:30am: bikram-style yoga class
5:30 pm: hour-long mountain bike ride up the Rattlesnake with Kevin

6:30 am: a Women's Health track workout with Jenny
5:30 pm: biked home from work (15.5 miles), then 1 hr of work with my horse

doh- got lazy and had Jim drive me to work instead of riding my bike; was nice, though, since we've both been busy and haven't seen each other this week-- so we had coffee and a bagel, then both went to work; the rest of the day I was busy-- thought I'd have time to sneak in a run in the afternoon, but ended up being gone to the Swan until 5:30, then had ameeting from 6-9pm. so no workout today. lesson learned-- get it in first thing in the morning, 'cause you may not always have time later

6:30 am: 40 min run with Jenny, followed by 15 min arms & abs work

and the rest of the week's plans:

this afternoon- ride my bike home, then work with my horse

Saturday- ride bike back to town to the Farmer's Market; then meet Mamie, Jenny, Megan (and others?) for a hike up Squaw Peak (7 mi round trip, ~2000' elevation gain... I see this peak from my house every day but have never hiked it, so this will be fun!)

Sunday- ??? help Jim work cows, or find something else fun to do if he's still finishing haying

Yep, a nice week with fun activities. It's nice not to be in full training mode right now, and to just enjoy doing a variety of random activities. But never fear... I'm already starting to set some new goals for races in 2009, including the Snow Joke 1/2 Marathon in Feb!

Sometimes Walker Rides

A few photos from last weekend...
Sunrise over our horse pasture as I headed out to catch our trusty steeds early Saturday morning.
Jim and our friend Charlie heading out to gather the cattle that were pastured at the High Meadow Mountain Ranch in Ninemile. 60 cows and their calves, plus 2 bulls, all needed to be gathered, sorted, hauled home to get shots for the calves, and then taken out to fall pasture.
Charlie in the distance pushing along his little bunch of cattle. who was moving my bunch while I was taking pictures?! ;)
Early Sunday morning, gathering pairs at home to take to fall pasture.
Jim watching intently as his "girls" filed through the gate into to the corrals.

We successfully accomplished the mission. But there are still 3 more little groups of cattle that still need the same treatment-- gather, sort, vaccinate, move to fall pasture. So that's what we'll be up to over the next few weekends... once haying is done!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Planning for the Week

Since I started my new job, every Monday morning, I've sat down and typed out my intended work plan for the week. This is something that's done by all 7 people in my office. We cc each other, and thus have a good idea of what everyone is working on, what we need to discuss as a group in our Tuesday staff meetings, etc.

It's also the time that I schedule my workouts for the week. And since I'm now entering Week 6 of my new job/new lifestyle, I'm starting to (hopefully) get a better idea of what's going to work and what isn't, in terms of my time committments, energy levels, and the likes.

One thing I do when figuring out my week is to check the weather forecast to see if some days will be better than others for biking (e.g. no wind!), or for doing yoga (e.g. rainy afternoon), etc. This week's forecast: friggin' gorgeous. Every day. Highs will be in the low 80's, lows in the low 40's. Clear skies. Calm. Fantastic. This weekend was the same-- stunningly beautiful blue skies, crisp cool mornings where sweatshirts feel oh so good, starry nights. This morning on my run I started a little before daybreak, but my path was lit by the full moon. When I turned around and headed west, I got to watch the moon sinking over the western hills as the sun creaped up and lighted them from the east. Incredible.


I'm so excited for this week, and psyched that opportunities for great outdoor fun abound. I haven't gotten the schedule fully figured out yet, but one thing is for sure: Jenny and I have committed to meeting at 6:30am Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for a 30-45 min run followed by some strength training for 15-20 minutes. Other things I'd like to do this week: bike to work (~16 miles), and run/hike a 5.5-mile loop that goes up Mt Sentinel to the M, then across the face of the mountain on an old dirt road, then down a gentler grade back to the University district. The weather will be perfect for whatever I decide.

Hooray for stupendous weather! Horray for lots of options in my "workout plan."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Non-Race Report... The Weekend I DIDN'T Do Garden City

Oh, what a glorious non-race weekend it was! I was so incredibly glad that I got to use my fitness and training and apply it towards an activity that was decidedly un-stressful: backpacking!

Here's my report, in the style of a race report:

We had originally talked about leaving on Friday afternoon after work, heading up to Holland Lake to car-camp for the night, then packing up and backpacking in to Upper Holland Lake on Saturday morning. Well, Jenny had to work til 6 or 7, Kristina had to run home and get her dog, we still needed to get some last-minute things, and it was starting to seem a little stressful (oh no!). Then it started raining. Which, to me, was a clear message from the Universe: Don't go camping tonight.

So we decided to all sleep in our nice warm beds on Friday night, then pack up our nice dry gear on Saturday morning, drive to the trailhead, and start hiking all nice and fresh and dry and non-stressed. Good call.

First Leg:
We hit the trail at about 10:30 am. It was quite chilly at the trailhead, and we all had on our fleeces over top of long-sleeve polypro and t-shirts. Jenny outfitted her dog Lucky with his own backpack (containing the dog food and her lunch), and Kristina donned her dog Maggie with a matching pack (containing the dog bed and some food). Jenny's other dog Dallas lucked out and was the only one in our 6-member party who didn't have to carry anything. So she officially got to be our Lead Scout.

The trail was flat for about 1/4 mile, but then started its climb. By the third switchback or so we were stripping off layers. The trail winded across the face of the mountain for a while, giving us great views of Holland Lake and the Mission Mountains to the south, then headed into a deep canyon where we were blessed with the roar of a rushing river and glimpses of lush vegetation surrounding us.

The trail criss-crossed the creek a few times as it wound on up the mountain, and in a few spots passed by some spectacular swimming holes. But alas, swimming was not a part of this endurance adventure... it wasn't THAT warm!

Eventually we reached the lake and wandered around for a bit looking for the perfect campsite. We found a nice big spot on the northern end of the lake, and decided it looked like a great place to spend some time.

We dropped our packs and began pulling out gear. Tents went up in a flash, we set up our beds and unloaded our gear, and then, all set up, sat down for a snack.

And got cold.

As long as we were moving, the low-60's temperatures were great. But being still damp from sweat and inactive, it was just not tolerable to sit around. And it was only a little after 2pm, so we decided to go for a "day hike" up to Gordon Pass, about 2.5 miles up from the lake.

But in order to leave our camp unattended, we had to hang our food. Bears are abundant in the area, and we'd even seen fresh bear tracks on the south side of the lake. So to keep them out of trouble, and to make sure we'd have dinner when we got back, we knew we had to get our food out of their reach.

The recommendations are to have your food at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet away from the trunk of a tree. Well, that's all fine and easy to do if you're in a forest with great big trees with great big sturdy branches. But we were in an area with smaller trees, most of which were subalpine firs, which have smaller-diameter branches that swoop to the ground. They're beautiful trees, but not so hot for hanging food. And so we decided to deploy a method that I used to use when working in Glacier:
1. climb up Tree A, wrap the rope around the trunk about 15 feet up, and tie it off
2. climb down the tree
3. find a rock, tie your rope around it, and pitch it over a branch that's about 15 feet up in Tree B, about 10-12 feet away from Tree A
4. wrap the rope around Tree B
5. now you have a rope stretched between two trees; pull the rope down enough so that you can tie your food bag onto it about 4-5 feet away from Tree A
6. tug on the loose end of the rope to hoist the bag into the air
7. tie off the loose end on a nearby branch, log, etc

Sounds simple, right? Yeah, not so much. Read this for an idea of how the process REALLY goes.

So, we finally got our food hung, packed our day packs with water, snacks, jacket, cameras, etc, and set off for the pass around 4:00.

Second Leg:
This round was much faster than the first! With only about 10 lbs instead of 45-50, we were able to hike faster and enjoyed the lightness that we felt. The trail went uphill, but at a nice easy grade. We were able to walk pretty quickly and still have good conversation.

As we wound up the canyon, we began to see signs of higher elevations-- most notably some whitebark pines, which only grow in subalpine areas. I love seeing these trees, as they're signs that good views abound!

At the pass we ran into two gentlemen who had been backpacking since Tuesday, and were spending their last night there. They took our picture at the wilderness boundary sign. We also had Kristina pose for a "Baby on Board" shot, as she's 4.5 months pregnant! Then we wandered around looking at the views for a while. It was surprising warm at the pass-- the sun was shining, the wind was calm, and it was warmer than where we'd come from!

But alas, our bellies were urging us to make haste for camp, and so we soon scampered back down to the lake, yakking and cackling all the way (note: we did NOT see any bears or other wild critters... they could've heard us coming for MILES!)

This tranisition was between camp and hiking again. Let's just say we took our time :) As it had rained most of the night and was pretty cool in the morning, none of us were extremely motivated to leave our toasty sleeping bags and step out into the dampness.

But finally I'd had all the laying in the tent I could stand, so I got up, retrieved our goods from the tree, and began boiling water for coffee and breakfast. The other gals got up shortly thereafter, and we all huddled around the stove drinking coffee and eating oatmeal and chatting. Dallas took a morning swim... brr! That dog LOVES the water.

Eventually we made our way towards the tents to start packing up. We shook off as much rainwater as we could, stuffed our bags full again, and finally hit the trail at the early hour of 11am.

Third Leg:
From Upper Holland Lake, we hit a trail that took us through a series of switchbacks for about a mile as we wound up, up, up the mountain. We stopped for a few photos along the way, but mostly kept chugging up, enjoying the chance to get warm (I, obviously, was plenty warm, and stripped down to my tank top, despite the 50 degree weather-- I don't wearing sweaty shirts!)

After a while the trail mellowed out, and we followed a winding path through subalpine forests and rocky outcrops. Kristina and Jenny, who are both bird biologists, were excited to hear and see some white-winged crossbills. These birds, I learned, are rather nomadic in nature. They typically stay in larger flocks and travel around to find the best food sources. They may breed at varying times of the year, depending on the resources available, rather than just in the springtime like most birds. Cool.

After birdwatching for a bit, we rounded the corner and headed down to Sapphire Lake. Again, Dallas raced ahead to make sure she could get a good swim in (see photo). The rest of us, deeming 50 degrees and cloudy inappropriate weather for swimming, opted to just find a good spot for lunch. As we were dining, the clouds rolled in a little more, and it started graupling on us (graupling? yes. see #8 here) Brr, chilly. 50 was a high estimate, I think. Good thing our lunch consisted mostly of sausage, cheese, crackers, nuts, and dried fruit-- get some fat in us to stay warm!

We didn't tarry too long at the lake, as it just wasn't all that pleasant. Again, we were thankful to get to hike uphill for a while to get warmed back up. Soon, however, we came to The Notch-- a place where the trail shoots through a notch in the mountainside. All of the sudden, we left the cloudy, precipitous backcountry, and found ourselves on a south-facing slope speckled with sun and overlooking the Swan valley. La-ahhh!

The trail stayed high for a few minutes, and then started its plunge down the face of the mountain. It was steep and winding for several miles, and by the end we were really looking forward to not having to walk downhill anymore-- especially with packs on. But no one got cranky, or had to stop, and we reached the car in good spirits. The sun was shining on us, and we enjoyed losing our loads.

We ran into the fellows we'd seen at the top of the pass the day before, and they offered us their last beer-- a tall can of Coors. Yes, banquet beer! Since Kristina was pregnant, and Jenny was driving, I took one for the team and accepted the gift graciously. They got their just rewards, though, in the form of chocolate milkshakes at the Ice Cream Place in Seeley Lake on the way home.

So all in all it was a terrific weekend. Great to spend time with friends. Awesome scenery and by-golly-we'll-take-it weather. Fun laughs, good exercise, and no stress. Just what we all needed.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I haven't written a post in a while. Quite a while. As you may guess, it's because I've been struggling with juggling.

I'm now in Week 4 of my new job. The work is terrific, and I'm so tickled that I got this position... but there's a lot to learn, and my brain has been feeling very full of new information of late. It's made "extra curricular" thinking much more difficult. i.e. I've been finding myself not at all interested in sitting down at a computer to compose a blog post when I get home in the evenings. Plus in the past few weeks I've had several evening meetings that have lasted until about 9pm.

And with this career change has come a change in many other parts of my life. I'm no longer living the "bachelorette" life I was during the week when I was in Kalispell this last year. No, now I have a boy to come home to (and also to tempt me into snuggling and sleeping in rather than getting up early to work out). And with someone else to eat with, I've been more motivated to cook meals besides just a bowl of soup or cereal for dinner. Then add to the mix all the great friends I have here in Missoula, who are terrific to hang out with, and I've been enjoying the chance to be social-- even on weeknights. For example, I've recently gone to an African Dance class with friends, had a picnic down by the river one evening, have met friends to go to Out To Lunch in downtown, etc. It's been so nice to get re-connected to several folks who I've only seen sporadically for the past few years.

And then add into this mix the fact that getting to work now includes a 20 min drive plus a 5-10 minute walk, rather than the 5 min drive I used to do.

Oh yeah, and for some reason at the end of the first week of this new melee, I thought it would be a good idea to add an Olympic Distance triathlon into the mix. So I've also been trying to do some last-minute long rides, runs, and swims.

So, yeah, I've been a little busy. Thus the lack of blogging.

That and, well, I've really been re-thinking my decision to do the Oly Tri, and hadn't until this weekend made up my mind about it.

Here's my thinking, in a nutshell:

I considered this race earlier in the spring/summer, and thought it might be something I'd want to do. But, I looked at my schedule and the fact that August is usually a busy fire season in MT (which, thankfully this year it wasn't; that, and my new job doesn't involve fire work)... but I decided that I couldn't commit to training for the race given the timing. I'd kind of kept in my mind the thought that maybe I could try it, though, if fire season wasn't too bad.

So when Roni prodded me (again) after the Whitefish Tri (when I was super high on endorphines after finishing the race), I said "sure, I'll do it." And you know, I could do it. I physically could complete the race, I know it. And like I said before, it might be good just to gruel through that distance this fall so that next year I'll have a better sense of what it's like and I can train better for it.

But here come the "cons": I haven't trained for that distance! Thus I know it would be a slog. I'd be mentally unprepared, if not physically, and compared with times from folks the last few years, I'd definitely be near last. Now, I'd be okay with that position IF I knew it was the best that I could do. But being last or near last because of lack of preparation just isn't acceptable for me.

So the thought of the race, and the pressure to keep training has really been adding a disproportionate amount of stress to my already stress-full situation. (Not that stress is a bad thing, necessarily... I do best with a moderate amount of pressure!) But I just haven't been looking forward to my workouts, because they're geared toward an event I don't want to do.

That and, well, there've been too many other fun things to do besides do some last-minute training for an event I don't want to do.

So the last straw came last Thursday night when Jim said, "hey, I have a 3-day weekend, too" (he RARELY gets days off, especially not 3 in a row!), "so do you want to take the horses up to the Mission Mountains and go camping & fishing this weekend?"

My first thought was YES! That's one of the things I enjoy most in life... riding horses. in the mountains. with Jim.

Followed by, oh, but I have to do a Swim/Bike Brick on Saturday and a long run on Sunday.

So I decided not to do the Oly this year. The reason I race is to have fun, and to give myself good goals to work towards. This race just wasn't shaping up to be fun, and definitely hadn't served the purpose of being a long-term goal to help keep me on track with exercising.

So this weekend, I'll instead be going backpacking with two of my girlfriends. I was really glad to be able to say yes, I'll go! when they asked, instead of no, I have a race this weekend.

I'll send a "Backpack Report" rather than a race report. And I'll do some thinking along the trail about what my next longer-term race goals will be. But for a while, I just wanna have some fun and let exercise be a little less structured and regimented while I make some life transitions.