Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Hill with a Name...Marshall Wall

Thursday was a typical gym day.  I debated taking the day off since I had a big ride planned for Friday but in the end I decided I'd rather take Saturday off as planned.  So I did 25 minutes on the upright bike, followed by back/biceps/core.  For the first time I was able to do a full set of bicep curl "sevens" with a 30 pound barbell.  I love getting stronger and having very tangible evidence of my progress.  Strength training is rewarding that way.  I did my stretching and foam rolled my calves and IT band.  I really focused on my calves because I had cramps again that morning.  I hadn't had any in a while.  I'm back to wearing the compression sleeves as much as possible.

Friday was the big ride.  The hill I'd chosen as my first "big" hill is just outside of town.  I've ridden down it many times but I've always done a loop ride that doesn't involve riding back over it.  When hills are really big they usually have a name in the cycling community.  This one doesn't quite rise to that level, but it's still a good little climb and for me - on this day anyway - it's The Hill, so that's what I'll call it.  It was a beautiful day for cycling, warm but not hot, a little cloud cover and no wind to speak of.  I felt excited to be going on a ride with Miguel.  We got underway and before long we were at the top of The Hill so we stopped for a quick picture.

You can only see about 1/3 of the hill in this picture
As we rode down I tried to push out of my mind how long and steep it felt going down.  After descending The Hill we rode a bit longer and when we'd been riding for about 20 minutes I figured I was warmed up enough to tackle it so we turned around.  As we approached Miguel gave me a pep talk:

Him: This is going to be a piece of cake.
Me:  I don't know about a piece of cake.
Him:  You can do it, no problem.  Just don't look up at the hill, you got this.
Me:  Got it.

I buckled down and started pedaling up the roughly 1.5 mile long hill.  I am happy to report it was totally manageable.  It was hard, I was definitely working, but my heart rate never even went into the 160s.  I was focusing on pulling my pedals up and my right hamstring tightened up a bit, which made me nervous. I started focusing more on using my quads to push and my hamstring was fine.  My speed stayed around 4.6mph most of the time.

Almost there!  That speck on the road is me.
And then, boom, I was at the top!  I really couldn't believe it.  I had marveled at that hill so many times in the car and thought, "I could never ride up that thing."  Never say never.  I was so damn pleased with myself.  Miguel said he had no doubt I'd make it.  Rough stats:  309 feet elevation gain over 1.5 miles.

We didn't have a plan for our route after that so we headed north to see where the road would take us.  We turned down Hicks Valley Road and then made a right on Wilson Hill Rd.  Any road with the word "hill" in it sounds ominous to this cyclist.  But I was feeling confident after my hill success and decided to just see what Wilson Hill Road had to offer.  And it did not disappoint.  I had to work a bit harder on this one, my speed got as low as 4mph, though my heart rate never hit the 160s.  It was much shorter than The Hill, only .5 miles, but definitely steeper.  I even stood up to pedal for a short time just to give my legs a change of pace.  I made it to the top and was again quite pleased.  Afterward Miguel told me he wasn't sure I'd make it. 

We turned around and rode back down and I have to tell you, I was scared.  I had to ride my brakes a lot and my whole body was tensed up.  Not fun.  Back toward Hicks Valley Road and then we made a right on Marshall Petaluma Road.  I'd heard of "Marshall Wall" many times but had never seen it.  I was pretty sure that if we continued down this road long enough we'd hit it.  Marshall Wall is a hill big enough to have a name.  And I wanted it to face it.  I had no intention of attempting it when I started this day, I really thought it was still far off in my future.  But riding up those previous two hills left me feeling at least willing to try.  I figured the worst that could happen is I'd have to turn around.  We rode for what seemed like forever down beautiful, sometimes tree-lined, country roads.  The weather was so perfect it was like the day was custom made for my big ride.

And then, after about 6 miles on this road we came upon what I figured must be Marshall Wall.  It just rose up in front of me.  It's a somewhat curvy road so we couldn't see the top.  Miguel was a bit ahead of me and yelled out asking what I want to do.  We'd been riding for almost 2 hours at this point and I'm sure he was thinking I didn't want to ride up another hill.  "Let's keep going".  He pedaled on forward and I followed.  This time I hovered close to 4mph but even dipped down to 3mph.  But I never felt like I might need to stop.  I reached what I thought was the top and called to Miguel, who was a bit ahead of me, "Is this it?"  "No", he yelled back, "about halfway."  Oh boy.  But I was determined.  That morning I'd asked my Facebook peeps to wish me luck and Christal (aka CPAgrrrl) wrote, "You don't NEED luck - you have determination", and boy was she right.  I didn't care that we were only halfway, I was focused on getting to the top.  And get to the top I did.  Rough stats:  427 feet over 2.14 miles.  Miguel snapped a picture of the view from up there.

Looking down toward what must be Tomales Bay.
I felt like I'd ridden to the top of the world.  We didn't know where the road goes, presumably to the town of Marshall but we didn't have a map and weren't sure how we'd get back to the car from there so we decided to turn around.  Riding down Marshall Wall was no fun.  Again with the brakes, my body tight and trying to push thoughts of a runaway bicycle out of my mind.  I actually like these big climbs but I'm going to have to figure something out for the downhill part, I hate it!

So we had about 10 miles to get back to the car.  My legs were feeling fine at first but started hurting when we had about 30 minutes to go.  My energy level wasn't spectacular, but it was ok.  I'd had 3 AccelGels and decided to have one more just to give me some pep for this last little bit and maybe help with recovery.   Here's the elevation profile of our ride:

Full stats and map here

I was so happy to see the car as we came around the last corner.  I was wiped out!  And I think I'm going to do a Half-Ironman?  Guess that's what training is for. At least today I learned I don't have to be afraid of hills anymore.  Not that some hills aren't still outside my reach, like that curvy one up to Bolinas Ridge, but at least now I'm too scared to at least try.  I did some nice stretching before we took off for a much needed meal.  I had been thinking about my eggs and toast on almost every hill.  

mushroom/onion/spinach/cheese/avocado omelet, hash browns, toast, coffee.

The nice thing about a meal after a big time out on the road is I really don't worry about calories.  I just get what I want.  I did ask for butter on the side though, sometimes it seems the toast is swimming in it.  I wasn't able to finish the omelet but I took it home for later (as in, today).

Miguel and I had a date night scheduled for the evening so things were hectic at home as we tried to keep things moving toward bedtime for the kids.  Good thing I had that coffee.    We went out for Italian food.  I had wine and we shared fried calamari for an appetizer.  I had risotto for dinner and we shared bread pudding for desert.   We were very tempted to go home and sleep but we don't go out very often so we bucked up and went...bowling.  We were both so full from our dinner and wanted to move, but just a little bit.

I wish I could say I slept well last night but Marek is coming down with a cold and he woke us up a lot.  Ugh.  Today (Saturday), the big item on the agenda was putting together a playset for the kids.  It is all wood and there were a bunch of parts.  A piece of wood fell and hit me near my eye.  But I'm fine and we got it put together before dinner.  And boy am I tired now!  Anyway, at least today is still Saturday and I have one more day to rest.

Oh, one more thing.  I had a consultation with a plastic surgeon this past week.  I was curious to hear what might be done about some of the loose skin I have on my arms and stomach.  I also asked about a breast lift.  I'm not anywhere near actually having surgery but I was curious about options .  I'm also not done losing weight so I don't know what my body will look like in the end.  The good news is, I am actually very lucky when it comes to the skin issue.  The surgeon said my arms are not bad enough to need surgery and that I just need to live with the small amount of skin that has lost its elasticity.  As far as my stomach, I do have loose skin but nothing that folds over, it's just sort of wrinkly.  A breast lift is not in my future, I have a feeling I'll be just as unhappy with the scars and changes to my body as I am with my current lack of, shall we say, perkiness.  So, if I ever do anything it will probably be a tummy tuck.  But I'll need to feel like I've done everything possible with diet and exercise before I even consider that option.  And I'm far from there.  And then there's the small issue of the money.  It's $9,000 for a tummy tuck.  There are a lot of other things I can spend $9,000 on.  A lot.

So my eating has been very lazy today.  And so is my tracking.  I just wiped out all my weekly extras and almost all the APs I earned on Friday and I'm calling it a wash.  I just don't want to be bothered.   I'll close with a post-ride picture from yesterday.

HIlls?  No problem!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

If I'm Not in Control, Who Is?

As promised (to myself), I have been very focused on my food intake this week.   I'd really gotten sloppy with the random food encounters as well as the social eating.  My focus has been made easier by reminding myself that these are habits I am freely developing, out of a deep desire to live a healthy, fit lifestyle. 

Exercise continues to go well.  I've been to the gym three times this week and will go today for #4.  On Monday I did 25 minutes on the upright bike (level 8), followed by legs/shoulders/core. The jump squats are HARD!  Oh boy, I have to psych myself out just to get through them.  Tuesday was a treadmill run for 25 minutes.  I'm still doing 6.0mph (which is starting to feel like an "easy" pace) with 7.0mph minute every 5 minutes.  But this time at the end I did 7.0 for 3 minutes (last time was 2).  I feel like I've made a breakthrough with the running in the last couple of months.  I just need my calves to cooperate.  I got some calf cramps this morning.  Anyway, after the run I did chest/triceps/core.  I increased my 3 sets of pushups to 12/10/9 reps.  And I did the last set of 9 at an incline, with my feet up on a high bench.  Oh, and this older gentleman stopped to tell me, "I'm ex-military and I can tell you, you do a nice pushup.  Back straight, you drop down all the way, nice work.  You don't see people doing pushups correctly that often anymore."  That put a big smile on my face for the rest of my workout (if not my day!).  Wednesday (yesterday) was a day off.

I had a little victory last night.  I was out at a mom's club meeting and had planned to eat dinner afterward.  I had a glass of wine (just one) and as the meeting wrapped up I started feeling really hungry and almost ate a piece of the pizza (I said I wasn't going to eat).  I walked over and looked at the pizza, already deciding to have a slice when I stopped myself.  My good friend Michelle was there so I hurried to get some support.  She was great for a quick reminder about why I'm not eating it, including pointing out that it was cold and asking me what my plan for dinner was.  Telling her about the grilled blackened chicken salad I planned to make at home snapped me out of it.  Close call!  Get help when you can people.  Thanks Michelle!!

So I'm going to the gym later today but I'm going light on the bike because Miguel and I have big plans for tomorrow!  I took the day off and the kids are going to daycare.  Miguel and I are going on a road ride.  It's been forever since we've gone on a long road ride together.  And the big news is that I'm working a climb into our route.  Notice I didn't call it a hill?  That's because it's not just a hill, but a continuous, long, uphill climb.  The kind of thing I've purposefully avoided for my entire cycling career.  It's not a crazy climb, more like an intro climb, but it's the first step. But now is the time, I've really been feeling like it's time, to face the music and see how I do.  Tillie (my bike) and I are in a for a treat.  And if I want to do a 1/2 IM (and I do) in 2014, I've got to learn to climb.

Finally, I just wanted to comment on something that came out in the hypnosis session.  When we were all done and discussing how the session went one of the things I said was, "I'm curious to see how this plays out over the next few days and weeks."  William pointed out that by saying I'm curious, it's like I'm an observer of my life, watching to see what happens.  When, in fact, I'm in control of my life.  Good point, William!  And that's been sticking in my mind ever since.  Why did I default to watching myself to see what I'll do, as if someone else is in charge of making these decisions.  My subconscious perhaps?  But who is my subconscious?  Me, of course.  It's all me.  I am in control, I make the decisions.  And when I eat crap, when I eat something I don't truly want to be eating, I'm making that decision too.  I'm making the decision to not make a good decision.  I was thinking about this a few days ago and it really struck me...If I'm not in control, who is?  Well, no one of course, because I am in control.  Maybe that doesn't mean always making my most favored decisions, but it's still me.  If feel like my food intake is "out of control", it's because I made a decision before to let go of control.  I imagine I'm driving a car...these moments when I "lose control" what am I doing?  Looking away from the road?  Letting the car drift in whatever direction it wants?  But I am the car.  There is no separation between myself and my vehicle.  This idea of some outside force, some external thing moving me through space (and putting food in my mouth), I've realized I had this belief in my head.  And so, of course, I want to change this belief.  But even if I am the car, I can still close my eyes and let myself drift.  I can pretend I'm not on a road, that I'm not going somewhere.  But I'm still doing that, I'm the one closing my eyes, I'm the one pretending.

Whew!  This is important stuff.  This is the kind of thinking that led to the very real changes in how I view exercise and physical activity.  Funny how I still harbor these false beliefs though, about other areas of my health.  Ok, I gotta run.  Thanks for listening :)

p.s.  I may not lose any weight this week but my pants are getting looser.  Woot!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cooking up Some Fun

Ahhh, Sunday.  Sunday is a pretty good day of the week, right?  Except for it being the day before Monday.  The weekend has been a good one.  I went to the gym on Friday and had a fabulous, amazing, awe-inspiring workout.  Maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but not much.  It was awesome.  I finally increased to Level 8 on the upright bike and I was still able to go pretty hard.  Level 9 might not be too far off.  I'm kind of excited at getting closer to 10.  Who doesn't like a round number?  After the bike I did chest/triceps/core.  Pushups are funny, some days they are pretty easy and then others they seem friggin' hard!  But this day they were easy, which was nice.  I just felt so strong and fit during my whole workout, which is always a nice feeling.

Friday night Miguel went fishing so it was just me and the kidlets hanging out at home.  Oh!  I almost weigh in.  Up .8 to 153.6 pounds.  No surprise there, considering how I've been eating.  The gain is motivating me to eat better this week.  Miguel had to work on Saturday (yesterday) but that didn't stop me from taking the kids to a pool party at a friend's house.  I still get a little self conscious with the whole bathing suit thing but nothing, and I mean NOTHING like I did in the past.  It's more like a passing thought, "Oh, I'm going to be in a bathing suit in front of other people.  I wish I were more fit but thank goodness I'm as fit as a I am!"  And that's about it.  Can you imagine?

I took a fruit salad and had planned to only eat that but I got hungry and ended having a mozzarella stick, 1/2 a bagel, and a few bites (as in 3) of a cinnamon roll cake thing.  I tracked it all and saved some points by having a Fage and fruit cup for lunch.  The "snacks" were 8 points and my "lunch" was only 3.  We had big plans for dinner.  Last year a friend and I (Hi Michelle!) cooked up a fun Indian food themed dinner.  This year we tackled Thai food.  We're talking authentic ingredients, made from scratch Thai food.  We made a salad, green curry chicken and vegetables, pad Thai, and rice.  Michelle made an amazing lemon grass rum drink and we had coconut ice cream with grilled bananas for dessert.  Can you say yummy?!  And who knows about the points.   So I just used what some of my biggest meals ever have been and went with 57.  That wiped out all my weeklies but left me the 5 APs I'd earned at the gym on Friday.  So that was it, my one social, off the charts meal for the week.  I have one more outing where food will be around, my mother's club board meeting on Wednesday.  But I've already decided to eat dinner before I go and skip the pizza and alcohol.  Besides, I can live off the memories of that amazing Thai dinner for at least a week.

Today, Sunday, I had thought about maybe doing a drop-in swim class with TriMore in the morning.  But it started at 8am and I just wasn't up for an early morning after those lemon grass cocktails.  So instead we hung around the house with the kids for a while and then took them on a fun outing to the candy store.  I had to taste a few things so I counted 4 points for that, hopefully that covers it.  After that I came home and changed for the gym.  I drove to the gym and then did an outside run from there, doing 4.5 miles in a bit over 46 minutes.  I averaged 5.9 mph, or a 10:10 minute mile pace, which I was happy with considering it being an outdoor (non-treadmill) run and that there's a hill. 

After the run I started on back/biceps/core work but I ran out of time.  I had to get home because Miguel has a soccer game.  So I did everything at the gym that required a machine and then finished up at home.  That's another reason I like free weight/body weight exercises, I can do them at home if I have to.  I stretched and foam-rolled my calves and IT band and then sat down for a snack and some computer time.  Whew!  How's that for a weekend?  I know I'm happy with it.  And now, to buckle down for the rest of the week and hopefully, hopefully, see a good size loss this week on the scale.  Or any loss.  I'm easily pleased.