Monday, October 29, 2007

A Creature of Habit!

It's has been so great to be back in training mode and enjoying the first few workouts in this wonderful Fall weather here in the PNW. Saturday was 2 hours on the Wildwood with Stacey working mainly in 3A. Not an easy zone but the powerhouse zone and when it's not worked consistently is actually takes effort to maintain the pace for long periods of time. The best part of a good 3A workout is it's easy focused effort but not enough to leave you feeling drained like you would after a speed session. My 3A is not anywhere near tip top shape but I am pleased with my starting point. Since the entire last week was wonderful weather I was expecting to see big crowds on the trails but to my surprise we didn't see hardly anyone. We got caught up and chatted most of the way. The schedule brings back the rituals and habits I have surrounding running, I just love structure! Sunday was an off day but I woke up with lots of energy so while Bill and Alex were brushing up on Alex's basketball skills I lifted upper body and went to a stretching class. Alex starts basketball season and tryouts were last night so soon our weeks will be very full with school work and practices. I absolutely love to watch the games and Bill loves coaching so were all looking forward to it. Alex measured in at 5'5" at age 11, nothing like being towered over by your 6th grader :)

Gorge Monday was another good run with friends. Susan, Trisha and I did an 8 mile loop and it was another beautiful day in Oregon. The colors are really nice this year because of the crisp weather and lack of rain so it was crunch, crunch, crunch the whole run, very fun! Susan and Trisha are were showing their best tough girl pose during a pause on the Larch Mtn. Trail while they worked on the paw back technique during the blazing smooth downhill heading into Wahkeena Falls. These are a moderate long run workout so nothing very strenuous which means lots of girl talk. We run for about 2 to 2.5 hours then head back home to real life duties. Just enough to refresh your energy for the week.

I have been on Mark's nutrition plan for a week now and can't believe how much energy I have plus I am definitely seeing results. I still cannot eat all the food prescribed but Mark said that was fine just do the best I can. With so many complex carbs I am crazy with energy so I can't wait for my next workout. The first few days were a bit of an adjustment as I battled with little Miss Trouble. Little Miss Trouble is the voice in my head that likes to get me to deviate from my plans. Apparently I have some bad habits :) I like to go running and then on occasion stop at Starbucks for my double tall non-fat 1.5 pump no whip mocha....whew that's a mouthful. But....since I have committed to this plan and nowhere on it does it say, "Starbucks Mocha", my habit has been exposed and has to be shelved. So.....I am driving down the road and little Miss Trouble appears on my shoulder saying things's only 170 calories what's the big deal....yum, yum...can you smell the coffee and feel the nice warm cup?.....let alone the fact that you like the ritual of stopping at Starbucks and seeing all the people enjoying their coffee, smiling and having a moment. While on my other shoulder is little Miss Perfect who does nothing wrong just perched up there nicely giving me a shake of the finger. The rebel in me likes little Miss Trouble but the achiever in me loves little Miss Perfect so the battle wagged as I gripped the steering wheel and drove on by. I have had a couple of other battles with the small voices in my head but little Miss Perfect has won every time. It's been fun and interesting to uncover my habits....ones I didn't know I had. But it's been rewarding to overcome them so all is good. As I approach the end of the second week the habits are gone and the voices in my head are quiet. :) I get pinched and measured on Friday! Meanwhile I am putting all this energy to good use this week with a long stride workout, 10K VDOT race followed by a 2 hour run, 4 strength sessions and a ton of eating:).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My food log and training

After posting about my desired goal of 14% body fat I got quite a few emails requesting my food log. After meeting with a nutritionist last Friday I had to make some changes to my standard eating plan or at least he created a menu for me and there are some significant differences. First he measured my fat himself and came up with 16.86%, can't get much more precise and we talked about all the workouts I do in a week. In my mind I am not doing much running but in his opinion it's a ton and in order to make any changes I need to fuel my body appropriately to burn fat. Now this is all common knowledge, "fat burns in a carbohydrate flame". He spent a couple of days pondering my puzzle and came up with a plan he feels will ensure my goal is obtained.

There were some of very noticeable changes. One, I generally eat no more than about 15% fat and many times lower and he felt that was not enough given the output of fat burning activity. He bumped my fats to 24% but all good fats. Second, my calories for the day's when I am only running for an hour stay the same at 1965 per day but on the days I am running more or the intensity is high it goes to 2465 per day. Third, all my simple sugar carbs were replaced by very complex carbs. Forth, the variety of foods I get to eat is awsome. He would like me to follow the plan and then monitor the outcome every two weeks. Of course I was more than willing to give it a try for 6 weeks. I can't call this a diet because I am eating a ton of food and my biggest challenge is getting it all in. With so many complex carbs making up my carbohydrate portion instead of simple ones, I am full! The last time I was on a food plan was after being pregnant and trying to lose the pregnancy weight I gained from endless amounts of apple pie. So far, I have not been able to eat all six meals per day. I thought I ate a lot of good complex carbs but now it's apparent I did not, at least not enough to full my body for the activity I am doing. If I go in next Friday and no changes have been made then he will make modifications. He asked me if I thought lower body fat would boost my performance and I replied, "I have no idea". He asked me why I am seeking this goal and I replied, "I just want to see what it's like to be at 14% and if my performance is better than that's just icing on the cake". He said, "fair enough, let's have at it".
Here is the daily food I was eating before I met with him:

Now this is what I am eating:
As you can see the total calories are the same but the makeup is different. How is this impacting my workouts? I have only had 2 hard workouts since making the changes but so far I have one big observation. When I start my run and am doing the warm up phase I feel like I am lacking energy and have thought I might be getting sick, that's how sluggish I felt but once 20 minutes has past I am on fire. It's quite a dramatic difference in how much energy I have at the start vs. the middle and end of the workouts. My first impression is that since I am lacking the simple sugars I used to have I don't have the quick energy....sorta of like a gel type of energy but once the body starts to use the complex carbs and fat I feel great. I need to have more data points before I can firmly draw this conclusion. The menu was created for me personally, for my body weight, fat % and my output with regards to running and lifting so of course everyone would be different.

Training has started so I've had my first speed workout and after my sluggish warm up where I was wondering if I would even be able to do the speed work I felt awesome and had a ton of speed forcing myself to back off. This weekend will be my first outlined long run with my HR monitor and I am looking forward to it.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Blue Lake 15K - We didn't have any fun, yeah right!

Having a dream last night about something flooding must of had something to do with the down pour we were having all night long. When I got up this morning it was raining hard and the wind was howling pretty loud as well. I laughed about the comment I got on Friday from a lady at my gym. I was working out and a Jamie asked me what my plans were for the weekend and when I told her I was going to run the Blue Lake 15K a gal said, "I ran that race last year and wind was blowing so bad it was awful and my time was terrible because of it". I thought to myself bring on the wind because my time will be slow with it or without, the purpose of this run is to see how slow I really am so a little wind will be no big deal. Let the slaughter begin!

The race started at 11:00 so no need to be in a hurry. I picked Stacey up at 9:30.......she was open to a good kick in the butt.....and we headed out to Blue Lake to meet Kris and run for our lives. Last year when we got the bright idea to run a few short road races Stacey sprung a hamstring so we wanted to be good and warmed up. Warming up is only for fast folks (so we thought) and we never made it part of our pre-race routine but after Stacey's torn hamstring we learned our lesson. Kris was doing the 5K so she could get a good baseline for her M-Pace and T-Pace runs. We weren't having any fun warming up.....yeah right, we were laughing the whole time, pretending we were road runners. Kris inquired about our predicted finish times and I told her I would be pleased as punch to do 9 min. miles while Stacey gave me the standard...."Ronda.....come on". I had a couple of good excuses, first I was so sick this week and didn't run after Tuesday, not sleeping without a good shot of NyQuil, laying around coughing and blowing my nose was at least one good excuse. Also, the fastest I have run since mid July was about a 9 min. mile :). Kris had no idea how fast she could run because she has never run a 5K! So......all of this made us just laugh harder. We got a good 25 minutes of warming up then lined up.

Go! Stacey and I are off just getting in the groove but at the short quarter mile turn I see that I am 4th woman, oops too fast. Soon I am passed by a couple of girls and we hang together for about 3 miles. They keep looking back to see how close I am and it must be disturbing to see the girl carrying a water bottle and dressed like she's going to freeze to death right on their tail. At about mile 4 here comes Stacey flying by all three of us and ask her, "what are you doing"? She yells, "breathing hard"! I try to hang with her but can't. I look down at my watch as see that I am running 7:40's! Hmmmm, I think I might be able to hold this pace when just 24 hours ago I was rolling my eyes at the wind comment and now I find myself tucking behind people to avoid any wind related slowing. :) As a reward for working hard thus far I gave myself a GU.....a nice prize for running fast. So here I am at my first road run since January last year running faster at 9 miles than I ran 1 mile in July.....all very curious but it seems to be fine, only slight coughing from my cold.....things are looking good. What supposed to be good slaughtering turned into a really descent run and I am only a bit sore in the back end. I don't know where I finished but I think it was 6th girl and second in my age group scoring me a lovely red ribbon. Stacey finished 1st in her age group along with Kris who was 2nd overall girl and first in her age group so both of them got a very nice blue ribbon. My time was 1:12:47 which is 7:50 pace. The best part of the day was how much fun we had, belly laughs the whole time topped off with a great lunch at some organic only whole food place that Kris and Stacey took me to. Sorry, I can't remember the name. Stacey you can post the name in comments :).

Now that real training has started I am happy to not be so slow! I really was expecting 9's. November 3rd will be my 10K VDOT race where I will establish my starting M-Pace and T-Paces for the season. I am definitely coming into it a ton higher this year so that's good news and bad news. The good news is there is concrete improvement in my fitness, the bad news...all my paces are going to be faster.....ouch those track workouts are going to be killers! I can't wait!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Manic Monday's continue

Monday in the gorge has been a great way to bounce into Fall. It's also just plain fun to run on Monday's with the girls and get all caught up on the priors weeks happenings not to mention one killer workout to start the week. Yesterday Susan, Trisha and I did a 2.5 hour loop and climbed 2,700 feet....we worked hard! Again we were treated to a day with a rain free start and just a drizzle near the end. The colors are changing fast and becoming more beautiful each week as we peer off in the far distance only to see snow on the high mountains.

Our 4 day vacation in Disneyland was great but I came home really sick with some nasty cold. I felt it on my run yesterday but pushed hard anyway which leaves me suffering even more today. I have a bad habit of not being very good to myself when I am sick, I just pretend I'm not, continue on with my normal plans then find myself walloped! You would think by now I would have learned a lesson but instead I have decided to just accept this bad habit :). Alex had so much fun at Disneyland and one of the best moments came when we entered the park and as we were walking up main street he says, "mom, can't you just feel the magic?". Of course I said yes and he went on about how wonderful he felt, it made me giggle and remember how great is was to be a kid. Speaking of kids......Bill is just one big kid, he loves Disney just as much as Alex and they ran me into the ground. We were there when the parks opened and we hustled around all day till almost closing. That meant 14 hours of lots and lots of people and stimulation. I came home and woke up in the middle of the night thinking I was being attacked by some fuzzy Disney creature to find it was my cat.

This week I find out about my 2008 training plans when I have my call with Coach Scott. I am so excited to see what's in store for next year. If I don't get into WS I will most likely go to Bighorn 100M with some friends. I have wanted to do Bighorn but WS100M was more of a priority but now it's looking like I will get my chance to check out this course with the WS100M lottery being so tight. I have worked with Scott for 3 years now and every year he comes up with new and exciting workouts that he has researched and practices himself. I have never been bored! It seems like forever since I have regimented training and I am craving it, I guess that's the whole purpose of a break.

A couple of other things that have kept me busy are weight training and Hagg Lake Trail Runs. I have been in the gym 4-5 times a week working out hard. I was reluctant to share this but decided if I did I would be more disciplined so here it goes...... I had my body fat measured with a comprehensive caliper system which pinches far to many spots on your body :). I feel the results were pretty accurate because I have had it measured a ton using various methods. I am fatter than I would like to be :). The system measured me at a high of 17% and a low of 16%. I would really like to have it say......high of 14% and low of 13%. I know that 17% is great for my age and I don't feel like I need to lose any weight however I would really like to get down to 14% and see what that is like for racing....more muscle mass is the key to seeing 14% so lots of time in the gym. I put myself on a fat reduction diet which still has me eating quite a lot of calories but the focus is composition of the meals and timing. I get to eat 1965 calories a day max. and I eat a 20%,65%,15% protein, carbs,and fats ratio. I have to eat every 2 hours so about 6 meals a day. Now I won't be able to do this when I get back into serious training around January because the calories are just too low to maintain strength and stamina during training. So.......I am going to do this for the next 1.5 months or 6 weeks and see how it goes. A few key elements to making this work are measuring all my food using a food scale (Stacey bought me one last year for my birthday) and logging all my food. Wow....measuring my food is an amazing eye opener. Let's just say it's a good thing I run because I clearly have no idea about portions! Logging my food is no big deal because once I started it was easy because I generally eat the same things. So far I have gotten lots of ahh haaaas. First, I don't eat often and I don't snack therefore eating every 2 hours is not easy for me. I prepare most of my meals so the preparation part is easy but making sure I have all the food I need with me during my day is hard. I used to eat a lot of protein, around 30% which is not a good ratio for an endurance athlete because you train your body to burn protein instead of carbs which takes a lot more energy. I found I don't eat enough during the day and generally would eat way to much at dinner with the family. I have had to "back away from the fork" as Micheal would say during dinner. Over the next 6 weeks I am sure I will uncover other tid bits to share but for now that's all I have. The question is.......can I be this disciplined?????? I think so :).

As for Hagg Lake Trail Runs (25K and 50K) Stacey and I have scheduled the event for 2/23/08. Our date was approved today and we are getting applications ready for distribution. Last year we had a record number of participants and exceeded our 350 limit. This year we will not allow the race to go over the 350 mark. We are looking forward to another great year for the kick off event for the Oregon Trail Series!

Congratulations to my trainer and good friends Marlin (green underwear) and Jamie (orange suit) who won first place in their divisions for bodybuilding and figure. They both have worked super hard and transformed their bodies. Not ultra runners but definately crazy and inspiring!

Next up Blue Lake 15K on Saturday, hopefully I will be feeling better but I going no matter what.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Seems like time is flying by! Every time I get anxious to have a rigid training schedule I have to remind myself that it's just around the corner and it will be here sooner than I think. I know this because that is how it goes, dreaming of the future then poof your smack in the middle of the dream. On another note, this month is full of birthday's! In fact, the next three months are full of birthday's of most my family and friends. Everyone I know except Micheal and Steve are going to be another year older in the next couple of months. I wonder how come most everyone I am around has a birthday between Sept. and early Dec.? Interesting........Happy Birthday!!!!!

My Glute Medius is coming along nicely. The Jane Fonda's are working making it very sore and fatigued but in a good way. I have been noticing less compensation during my runs but after about 2 hours of sustained running it's pooped and all my bad habits come back. Saturday I followed Susan out to Banks/Vernonia for a run. She was planning on 4 hours of flat faster running and I was only doing 2 hours. The Banks/Vernonia trail is a rails to trails project out in the city of Vernonia. I am not sure how far this paths goes but I believe it's at least 20 miles on near flat paved path through the woods. The State Park has been upgraded and a ton of work has been done to restore the path and make it a family park complete with cabins and camping. I haven't been out there for over 4 years and was surprised at how nice it was. In addition to the main path with new mile markers they have added some side trails to create small loops. It was about a 40 minute drive from Portland but if your training for a flat fast race this would be a great place to spend some time. The day turned out to be beautiful with the Fall colors and absolutely no people on the path. We clocked a pretty good pace which will come in handy for the 20th when I run a 15K road race. Getting leg speed up is a priority right now and it is hard and pun intended :). I am expecting to be slaughtered at this event by those speedy road runners but Kris, Stacey and I are all looking forward to the challenge and I am sure many many laughs.

Monday was Gorge day but we ended up hitting the Wildwood instead as Alex was home with a cold. We did my usual 7.14 mile loop and had a great time. The fog was amazing as you can see in this picture of Trisha running up firelane 1. BTW, Trisha has decided to do her first 50K! She will be joining a big group of us at Chuckanut Mountain 50K, one my favorite early season races, yeah!!!! She has gotten so strong since we first started running together and she has a great attitude for challenges. I see ultra running in her future and she has a great support system in Darin. As a side benefit I will get to run with her more!

Tuesday Stacey tried to kill me on her 6 mile loop from her house. We get to talking and before I knew it I was in 3B chasing her up the hill. I am craming a ton of excerise in because I will have 4 days of absolutely nothing but vacation ing with the family.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Gluteus Medius

(the orange area is the Gluteus Medius)I have been so fortunate to not be saddled with injuries but I have been dealing with a pain in the butt! Since April I have had a nagging pain in the the lower area of my rear end on the outer side near the insertion of the lateral hamstring. It has been nothing more than an annoying ache that creeps up after a good leg workout at the gym or any kind of speedwork from tempo runs to track workouts. To deal with this I have stretched and iced but chose to ignore it for the SLAM because I felt I didn't have time to make it a priority and I could run through it. Now that I am on a break from any specific running schedule I thought I would get to the bottom of it and do what I needed now to correct it since resting nor icing seemed to cure it.

I wouldn't call this an injury because it didn't keep me from performing in the sport I love. However, with speed work and leg workouts coming in the near future I knew it would become an injury very quickly. This pain in the butt turned out to be caused by an extremely weak Gluteus Medius muscle on my left side. I am the queen of compensation which most ultra runners are due to the prolonged time it takes to complete an event but there is healthy compensation and non-healthy compensation. To get around the pain I would swing my left leg around vs. propel it forward. I knew I was doing this because on the forward landing of a stride I would have a slightly pigeoned toed landing meaning I was rotating my hip to the outward position. Also, when doing any one legged squats or performing lunges my hip would noticeably rotate out, in other words.....collapse. When I did these exercises or speedwork which requires an elongated stride I would end up with pain.

At my gym they have a physical therapy office so I went in to ask for an evaluation to determine the source of pain. They have a free sports night where a doctor comes and along with the physical therapist do an evaluation. Within about 5 minutes of muscle testing it was so obvious my left glute medius was non-functioning forcing all the small rotators, abductor magnus and lateral quads to do all the work to stabilize my hip. The pain in the butt was a very worked periformis and deep rotator. I am so lucky I haven't torn the deep rotators but I think I was saved by the SLAM because I wasn't in full blown training like I was during the Spring. If I had continued with the hard leg workouts, track and tempo on top of back to backs with hill repeats I most likely would have been "injured"....hurting so bad I couldn't do the sport I love.

They tested the muscle by laying me on my side, have me flex the medius then they applied pressure with their hands and forced me to resist against that pressure. On the right side.....bring it on.....all day that sucker is solid. On my left side I couldn't even hold the contraction more or less any resistance.

So........for the last week I have been assigned exercises daily. I call them my "Jane Fonda's". You know the old exercise videos complete with high cut one piece outfits accessorized with leg warmers. Jane would lay on her side and lift her leg up over and over again. Now this is not that simple, you have to be in the exact right position and since I am the queen of compensation this is very hard because all my other muscles want to take over. Let alone the fact that it's so weak it fatigues after about 15 leg raises! I would have never guessed this was my problem because I am well endowed in the back end but I guess it's not all muscle.......ha, ha, ha.

As of today I am already feeling progress and when I ran downhill I could feel my left side trying to stabilize. I know it sounds crazy but it's true. The Physical Therapist couldn't believe I have made it this long with it being so atrophied, but I know I have been compensating so I am not surprised. I can also deal with a lot pain which again is probably an attribute of most ultra runners. I don't know anything about muscles from a clinical standpoint but I know we use our back side a lot as runners and especially runners who climb and descend. He told me the Glute Medius is the "runners muscle" and when it's powerful we can propel ourselves much better.
If that is the case and my left side is non-existent and my right side could be stronger then when I am done doing the "Jane Fonda" I should be really fast.......right???????? I doubt it but at least I won't have a pain in the butt!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Did I miss Fall?

One of the things about the Pacific Northwest is the wonderful Fall season with all the great colors. It seems our Fall season has come and gone in less than a week. Generally September is a great month for running because it's still dry on the trails and the leaves begin to fall creating a blanket of crunchy colors. The rains are already here with this September being a record rain fall since 1996 and that record was set in just a few days of rain which means it poured! I was woken up by the crashing sound of rain on the roof which leaves me busy wiping down wet dogs as they enter the house. It's just crazy but since there's no time to sit around and stay dry how about a run? On Monday's I have been going to the Gorge after dropping off Alex for school. Trisha and Susan have come along on the last two Monday's making for a perfect way to start the week. There is nothing better than friends and trails and when they can be mixed it's just plain fun! Ultra got a bit out of shape this last Summer while I was busy doing the SLAM so she has been out with me almost every run. She is quickly getting back into shape and dropping those unnecessary pounds she is sporting. The first Monday Trisha and I were out it was brisk and sunny but within just one week it got wet and lots of leaves were gone from the foliage. We marveled at how fast it happened.

Last weekend I met Tom and Susan for a run in the Coast Range. This area is within a 30 minute drive of Portland and has a ton of great trails winding through the hills. The maps for the area are not great so it's best to go with someone who knows the ins and outs of the trail system. Tom spends a lot of time exploring out there so he treated us to the Gales Creek Trail right off Hwy 6. The trails in the Coast Range are in great shape and seem to lack the general blow down of areas more east of the City so the trails are always open and mostly free of snow in the winter. Anything above 4000 feet out there will be covered but the lower areas stay clear all year. Warning........if it's raining in Portland it's then it's usually pouring in the coast range so be prepared to get wet! Susan is in WS100M this next year since she is two time loser. She is really committed to training and is already planning her Spring and how to juggle family and training. On Saturday she started practicing her downhill running and I believe she did a mini back to back. This will be her first 100M race so I am excited to see her go through the process and finish WS100M in 08.