Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dropping the last 20 - tracking and kicking sugar.

It's time to go into weight loss mode again. I really want to kick these last 20 pounds that are between me and healthy. I've been sitting at 45 lost long enough. I'm looking better, but I'm not looking good. More importantly, I can feel the difference in my running with the weight I've already lost. The potential to lose another 20+ pounds is like a gift of free speed. I'd be a fool to pass on that.

I am the queen of maintaining my weight. Throughout my weight loss journey, I've settled at numerous different weights. I stop tracking what I eat and let things slide a bit. I don't gain any back, but I don't keep losing either. That should serve me well when I get to a healthy point.

I feel like I'm at a solid place to make it happen. I've been very consistent with my training the last week and I'm feeling great physically. Feeling good about yourself is a great motivator. As well, for all that I believe exercise doesn't make you lose weight, it does keep me in the right mindset. It also helps when I'm training 9 times a week, because I always have to be aware of how my nutrition choices will affect my next workout.

There's two main strategies that I'll be employing here.

1. Tracking my food and controlling my portion sizes. For me, this is a key factor that defines the difference between weight loss and weight maintenance. When I no longer need to lose weight, perhaps I will be able to stop tracking most of the time. When I want to drop the pounds, it's vital.

2. Kicking the refined sugar and carbs.

I have a problem with sugar. I won't even try to deny it. Once I go without for a while, I can resist it, but when it's in my system, I want it, and I want more. Some people give into a craving and then they're good. If I give in to a sugar craving, it doesn't satisfy me; it simply makes me want more and more and more.

So, one week NO refined carbs. I've done this before, and it isn't easy. I have to plan really well so that I'm not grabbing food on the go. It means avoiding things like ketchup and most condiments. Fortunately, all the Easter deserts are gone now, and the kids finished their chocolate eggs yesterday (not that they got many; we keep the candy light for the kids.) My husband has left a chocolate Oh Henry egg in the fridge, but he'll take that with him to work tomorrow, right darlin'?

After that, I'll go easy on reading every label, but still no sweets. No chocolate, or rice krispie squares; no pastries or cookies. Fruit is good. Baked stuff, not so much.

Fortunately, I'm already set up for this. I make my own bread and it's whole grain. We only have whole wheat pasta in the house, brown rice, quinoa, etc...

I am currently 198 pounds. On my wedding day five and a half years ago, I weighed 190. When I get back there, I'll throw that wedding dress on and take some pictures.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A bike, a chariot and a big hill

Yesterday, I headed out on my bike again. This time it was Heidi, my hybrid, rather then Bella. As much as I enjoy riding Bella, I've decided that, in the interest of occasionally seeing my husband, some of my training needs to take place during the day while I'm with the kids.

Enter the chariot:
The combined weight of my kids is 75 pounds; the chariot is about 20. With some extra food, drinks and stuff in the back, I am easily pulling an extra 100 pounds behind me. Needless to say, I go a lot slower for the same amount of effort.

Now, I'm not new to pulling the chariot. I biked a fair bit last summer, and the vast majority of it was with the kids in the chariot. And between the two of them, they have only put on a couple of pounds since then, so the effort needed is around the same. The chariot isn't really that hard to pull. I just ride in a lower gear and go slower. There is one situation where the extra weight makes a huge difference though.


There is one large hill along the pathways that I usually try to go down, but not up. There have been times I've had to go up it though, and last summer, I always did it the same way: I got off my bike and pushed.

There was simply no way I could ride up that hill. I'd start pedalling and shift all the way down, but even in the lowest gear, I'd reach a point (usually quite close to the bottom of the hill) where I just couldn't keep the pedals going around. When I started riding my bike to the pool, I discovered that I could ride up that hill without the trailer behind me. I did have to shift into the lowest gear though, and I didn't go faster then a walking speed.

Yesterday, I expected more of the same. In fact, I went down the hill knowing I'd probably have to back up. (There is still ice on the path by the river, and I wanted to see if the path would be blocked there. It was.) I wasn't avoiding the hill. I actually wanted to give it an effort and see if I could get up further then last summer. I figured it would be an extra workout to push it the rest of the way.

I started up as I always had. You can't build too much speed before the hill because it's already an upwards slope leading up to it with a turn right before. I'm not comfortable taking corners too quickly with the chariot behind me. I started to pedal.

As expected, I very quickly ended up in my lowest gear. BUT, unexpectedly, I was able to keep pedaling. The slow down and stop I was waiting for just didn't happen. I continued up that hill at about the same pace I had been doing it the previous summer without the chariot. When I got to the top, I took a moment and a drink.

I'd done it! I figured I'd be able to eventually ride up that hill a bit faster without the chariot, but I honestly didn't think I'd ever be able to do it pulling 100 pounds. I may not have spent as much time on my bike as I should have over the winter, but those trainer hours haven't been wasted! I am a stronger cyclist then I was 6 months ago.

And, continuing to pull that chariot should count as more hill training. Bring it on!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Some extra strength training...

Yesterday, I headed out for a run. My inlaws were visiting, so I was able to leave the kids with them and head out in the middle of the afternoon.

It was beautiful. I wore a short sleeved short and pants, and truthfully, I was a bit over dressed. I was just cruising along. Sometimes I play a game with myself where I guess my pace before checking my garmin. Everytime I figured I was going slower, but I was holding a pace around 6:10/km. I am quite capable of running at that pace, but usually have to push myself to get it.

I was heading down a hill, debating the rest of my route, when I saw two girls in front of me. The older one was on a bike and the younger on a scooter. The little girl went down the hill, went sideways and completely wiped out. An older lady on the path looked at them, glanced at me and kept walking.

I kept running - as far as where the girls were. The younger girl was 6, and her knees were badly scratched up. The older one turned out to be the babysitter and was 13 - though based on her size, I would have guessed 9; She was tiny. We tried to get the little one to walk, but she just wouldn't. She simply screamed and said her knee hurt so much. Truthfully, I thought she was overdoing it a bit, but at the same time, I'm sure she was in a lot of pain.

Their parents were at work, and I didn't have my phone with me. Truthfully, even with my phone, I couldn't have done a thing, since there wasn't anyone to call. I asked her where their house was, and I inwardly groaned when she told me. About a kilometer (0.6mi) away. Not so far, until you're carrying a six year old girl...

And carry her I did. Up the hill and onto the sidewalks. I tried to distract her by asking about her Easter, but no go. She just kept crying. I'd guess she was 5-10 pounds heavier then Spud, so around 50 pounds. Let's just say, there is a reason Spud doesn't get carried long distances anymore!

My arms felt like jello and I put her down for a minute while we waited at a stop light. Then picked her back up. Finally we got to her house and I put her down. She had calmed down a bit in the last few minutes when told she could have a bandaid and popsicle. I asked the babysitter if she needed anymore help and she thanked me and said they'd be okay now.

While carrying her, I figured that it was the end of my run. I'd be tuckered out and just head home. I was still feeling pretty good though, so I started running again and got a few more kilometers in. In the end, I did a total of 7 km (4.3mi), plus 1 km of walking and strength training. My arms are still sore.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A rite of passage...

Yesterday, I took Bella out for her second time on the road. I decided I should have some photographic evidence of it, so I drafted my husband to come take a couple pictures. I rolled her onto the road and got onto her.

I've been doing pretty well with the clipless pedals. I know that everybody supposedly falls, but I can clip out pretty easily and pretty quickly. I avoided a fall on my first ride when I started tipping the wrong way by clipping out fast.

I told my husband that I wouldn't be falling for the sake of a picture, but he should take a few pictures while I rode off. I clipped in on one side, grinned at him as he made some smart alec comment...

...and promptly fell over.
I guess it had to happen.

The ride after that went well. I started on the pathways and quickly realized that it's not a good place for a road bike. I may not be fast compared to other road bikers, but I'm fast compared to all the pedestrians, casual cyclists and children that frequent the pathways. Plus, they just aren't predictable and don't follow any kind of rules. I rode on the roads through town after that. I think I'll head onto the highways soon. It'll be nice to avoid the constant starts and stops in town.

I'm loving the outdoor rides! I was starting to worry that I didn't like biking as much as I should, in order to do triathlons. I think I was just getting into a slump with the trainer rides. I feel the same way when I do too many runs at the track.

This week is full fledged Oly training now, so no more neglecting my bike. Not all of them will be outdoors on Bella. Some will be on Heidi (the hybrid) with the kids in the chariot. If need be, there will be some on the trainer too, but now that I've got the taste for outdoor riding, I'm going to do it as much as I can.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A new training plan and a fresh start

As my post half marathon recovery week comes to a close, I'm getting geared up to start my next training plan. My first couple training cycles were great. I rarely ever missed runs (all my previous training cycles have been run focused). This one, not so much. I fought the winter doldrums and got sick time and again. While pacing was a problem in my half, missed training was at least as big an issue. It seemed like I was always trying to do "make up" runs, but those make up runs pushed other runs right off the plan anyways.

Now, it's time to start fresh, and I'm feeling great about it. I'm up before the family and having a quiet breakfast. The sun is shining. The forecast is for 15 degrees today (59F). Nobody is currently sick in my house, and I'm optimistic that we'll stay mainly healthy.

I start my new training plan tomorrow, and I'm feeling great about it. It is the first triathlon focused training plan and I am so ready. I took Bella, my road bike outside for her first time on Friday and loved it. Running is meshing with me right now, and I'm just feeling the rhythm. I'm starting to really feel the water and feel "right" when I'm swimming.

Things are good.

Happy Easter everyone!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Three things Thursday

It's been a while since I've done a TTT! It's about time.

1. I've been taking it easy this week after the half marathon. Perhaps a little too easy. I need to get back into the routine of getting my regular workouts in. I've picked a plan to work towards my Olympic tri now, and it officially starts on Sunday!

2. Speaking of triathlons, it's only 6.5 weeks until I do my first one! That's less then two months, and I will have completed a triathlon!

3. I'm thinking I need to do another sugar detox. My diet hasn't been horrible, but it hasn't been great either. I know that losing a few more pounds will help me race faster, and be easier on my body. I've been maintaining at about 198 (staying in onederland at least), but it's time to knock it down to a healthy point.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Calgary Police half marathon 2011, race review

So, yesterday I finished my first half marathon. Hear that? I finished!

How did it go? Well, to put it simply, it was a mixed bag. Some good, some bad, some easy, some brutally difficult. (If you want the summary and results, feel free to skip to the end.)

I woke up bright and early. The race was at 8:00am, and I set my alarm for 5:30. That gave me time to eat breakfast and get everything together without having to rush.

When I looked out the window, this is what I saw:

One of the first things that I did was check the road report. I live outside the city where most nearby races are, so this means a 20 minute highway drive to get into it. Normally, not such a big deal.

Yesterday, the road report said the following:
"Highway alert: Cochrane RCMP are advising that due to very heavy snow and ice Highway 1 eastbound and westbound is treacherous and almost impassable. Travel is not recommended on Highway 1 from Cochrane to Calgary. Highway 1A from Cochrane to Calgary is also treacherous and travel is not recommended in this area either."
Now, having made the choice to live outside the city also means we sometimes choose to stay outside the city when the roads are bad. Almost any other plans would have been canceled with the roads in those conditions. But, this was my first half marathon, and I really wanted to do it.

Having said that, I didn't take the decision to go on the highway lightly. The highway report was had last been updated the night before, so it could have changed. The worst section is usually the hill that takes you out of town. There are points midway up and at the end of the hill where you can turn around. If the hill was okay, the highway probably would be too. I was driving our commuter car, which has snow tires, and I tossed a shovel and some kitty litter in the back (in case I got stuck somewhere).

This part of the story is pretty anti-climatic. The drive in was fairly easy. One lane of the highway had been plowed and sanded at some point. I kept my speed down, and aside from one moron who buzzed past me (in a no passing zone), everyone else on the road did too.

I got to the race with time to spare, walked around a bit, used the washroom. About 10 minutes before the race start, I decided to get out there and lined up. Apparently everybody decided the same thing at the same time. There was a huge press of people going out the doors, so it was very slow going. Finally, I was outside, but I still had to get around a little barrier to get to the start line. Everyone else needed to as well, so at least we were going in the right direction. There was a countdown and then the starting horn was blown. I was still nowhere near, but we were moving in the right direction at least.

The slow shuffle continued and finally we were at the start line. Everyone started running once they crossed the starting line, and we were off.

My plan going into this race had not been to go a certain speed or faster. It had been to go a certain speed or slower - at least for the first half of the race. I know when I start out too fast on long runs, I tend to crash towards the end. My goal was to hold a pace of about 7:00/km (11:15/mile). I never said I was fast! But, that is a pace that I know I can maintain long term.

The problem is, I didn't hold back on my pace. I kept checking my garmin, and seeing that I was going too fast. I kept reminding myself that I should slow down. Yet, it felt so easy. I felt like I could keep going forever at this pace, and it was somewhat downhill. I finished the first four km in 6:37, 6:48, 6:43, 6:52.

Shortly into the fifth km was where we started hitting some slightly steeper (and icy) downhills. This is when I saw the first person go down. He had a few people helping him, and then about 10 more people crowded around to see if he needed more help, completely clogging the pathway. Don't get me wrong, if someone needs help, you should give it to them, but if they already have help, there is a certain point where offering creates more problems then it solves. It's something that's even taught in first aid classes: disperse the crowd.

Shortly after, the second person down was me. Going down another hill, and my legs just went out from under me. I'm not even sure exactly how I fell, but I actually ended up on my hands and knees rather then my butt. The guy behind me almost tripped over me, and truthfully, I think he was more shaken up about it then I was. I did a quick self assessment and decided that I might be bruised, but I wasn't injured. At this point, I decided I needed to throw any time goals I still had out the window, and just concentrate on finishing the race in one piece.

Despite this, I still finished kilometers 6-8 too fast - below 7:00/km. It wasn't a conscious decision. More a case of: I felt comfortable running at this pace and didn't reel myself in.

While passing Heritage park, I saw somebody in cross country skis going the other direction. I think his method of travel was a lot more appropriate out there then running shoes. In some spots the snow was packed down by the earlier runners, but not evenly. In other spots, it was deep and loose, like sand. Then there were the icy sections, particularly on the downhills. This race course had a lot of up and down, so there were a lot of those sections. A big part of the course, there were essentially 2-3 tracks made, but they felt just a little too narrow to get a proper stride in.

Sometime after 10 km, I realized that I really had started out too fast. I was tiring, and I was only halfway done. I knew I had more in me, but it wasn't easy anymore, and I had slowed down.

It seemed like every time I turned a corner, there was another race volunteer warning us of a slippery section. It was work every hill we had to go up, and no benefits going down because of the ice.

Finally, we got to the big hill out of the weaselhead. More people were walking up this hill then not, and I followed suit. I figured if I ran it, I was going to need to walk afterwards to recover anyways. At this point, the most challenging part of the race was over, as we were pretty much back onto roads. Yet, there were still about 6km left to go.

I ran at a decent pace for km 16, but looking at my garmin stats, I can see that it pretty much fell apart after that. I started alternating with a walk/run. My legs just didn't want to move, and even when I was running, I couldn't keep the pace up. I knew I was so close. I knew there were only a few kms left, but I just couldn't seem to make my body move.

Despite this, I still managed some smiles. As much as I hurt, I knew I was finishing. I knew that it wouldn't be long until I had finished a half marathon.

Those last few kilometers were a fight. For every second I gained going too fast in the first eight, I probably lost 10 seconds in the last five.

Finally, I turned the corner and saw the finish line. I knew I didn't have much of a sprint left in me, so I kept trudging along at the slow run I was doing. Then I saw my kids and husband waiting for me. I hadn't known if they'd make it because of the roads, but seeing them there gave me the strength to push the speed and finish with a smile on my face.

After coming across the finish line, somebody handed me my medal and a bottle of water. I then made my way around to where my family was waiting for me. I didn't feel like I had any strength left. The medal was still wrapped up in plastic, so I told me husband to unwrap it and put it around my neck.

And with that, I completed a half marathon.
I think the facial expression in this picture is somewhere between joy and suffering...

My goals for this race were:

1. To finish with a smile on my face.

I nailed this one. I finished, and I smiled. :)

2. To pace well, finish strong, and enjoy the scenery.

We'll call this a learning experience. I didn't pace well. I didn't trust or follow my plan going in, and I paid for it. With shorter races, you can get away with poor pacing a little more. Not so much on the longer distances... I did enjoy the scenery though.

3. Not let the things out of my control get to me. (Such as icy pathways or congested areas).

I did pretty well with this. I pretty much accepted the poor conditions and rolled with it (or fell with it). I recognized it was difficult, but I didn't get bitter about it. I caught myself getting annoyed a couple times when people stopped to walk in groups, but I just carried on with my race and didn't worry about the seconds it cost me.

In the end, I completed the half in 2:40:08. (I let my garmin run for a couple minutes at the end by accident, but this was my actual chip time.)

I've always maintained that you learn more from the tough races and runs then the easy ones. This is a perfect example of that. Did I run the perfect race? No. Would I approach it differently next time? Yes. Am I glad that I did and will I do it again? Absolutely. (Preferably with less snow.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Off to the races!

It's race day! This one is an early race, starting at 8:00am. I'm up by myself enjoying my breakfast and a bit of peace around 2 hours before the race starts. We made the decision to have my husband and kids at the finish line, but not the start. It's just easier and less stressful not to wrestle Spud and Sweetpea out of the house so early.

I want to thank everybody for all the words of encouragement along my journey. After reading some of the comments on my goal setting, I was reminded to have fun. I've actually decided to edit my goals slightly:

(The parts in italics are the new parts.)

1. To finish with a smile on my face.

2. To pace well, finish strong, and enjoy the scenery.

3. Not let the things out of my control get to me. (Such as icy pathways or congested areas).

I'm one of the lucky ones that actually loves running. I need to remember that when I race.

See you all on the other side of the half marathon!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Setting goals for my first half marathon!

So, with my first half mary coming up in two days, it's time to get real and consider what my goals are for it.

I'm not setting a time goal for a couple reasons: 1. It's my first of a new distance. I don't intend to ever set time goals when I'm doing a brand new distance. 2. I think the time is far less important then the execution. I fare better in focusing on how I execute a race then I do focusing purely on the time I finish it in.

This may be a tough race. For one thing, it's supposed to be a challenging course, with a fair bit of elevation in the second half of it. For another, the weather conditions are far from ideal. The temperature is likely to be a bit below freezing. That, in itself, wouldn't be so bad. The non-ideal part is the fact that it's been raining and snowing the last few days. And, it hasn't been warm enough to melt any of that accumulation. On the plus side, the race organizers have said that they plan to sand icy areas, so hopefully it will still be in good shape.

I picked up my race package today - race package meaning shirt and bib. I can't say I'm a huge fan of the colour, and the sleeves are too short. That surprises me actually. I know I'm a tall woman, but considering it's a unisex shirt, I would have expected longer sleeves.

Anyways, without further ado, my goals for this race are:

1. To finish.

2. To pace well and finish strong.

3. Not let the things out of my control get to me. (Such as icy pathways or congested areas).

That's it, that's all!

Two days from now, I'll have finished a half marathon! Who'd have thunk it?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Some pictures

I thought I'd share some photos from my run this past Sunday:

Now, it is currently snowing. The weather forecast for Saturday's race used to say 9 degrees (48f) and sunny. It now says 0 degrees (32f) and snow. Rumour has it that part of the race course is under water...

The good news is, this is my first half marathon. So, even if I have to slow down to wade through water, it will still be a personal best. Or perhaps, I can swim through it and consider it an early triathlon?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How about a bit of speed?

I've been concerned all along that the tri swim course I'm doing is making me a better swimmer, but not a faster one. Last night I got proved dead wrong on that count.

September was when I first proved myself capable of swimming a straight 500 metres, and I did it in 15 minutes, 30 seconds.

By the end of December, no matter how hard I tried or how much I swam, I was able to cut less then a minute off that time, finishing it in about 15 minutes.

I timed myself a few times early in the course, hoping the first few technique improvements would make a huge difference. I still couldn't go faster then 14 minutes, so I decided to stop screwing myself up by timing myself, and go back to focusing on technique.

Last night, we did a timed 500 swim. I finished it in TWELVE minutes, and EIGHT seconds.

I did it almost 3 minutes faster then I could do it four months ago when I started this program. That's 20 percent! A potential 3 minutes off my sprint finish time, and 9 minutes off my olympic.



Sunday, April 10, 2011

Who holds you accountable?

Yesterday, Krissy and I were going for a run. It's a regular Saturday thing for us, and we almost always do it together unless one of us is out of town for the weekend. (Okay, let's be honest: unless she is out of town for the weekend. My life just isn't that exciting.)

Yesterday though, it wasn't just a run. First we made a stop off at the used toy and clothing sale happening in town. The sale was a bit later then we usually run, but we wanted to go there before running so that we didn't drip sweat everywhere. We spent around 45 minutes looking at cute clothes and checking out the toys. When we were done, Krissy left carrying a bag of clothes and super cute boots and I had scored a great deal on some books and a couple toys.

We didn't feel like running. Truly. It was that feeling where you just don't want to and you would rather go for coffee.

We couldn't though. Because our friendship isn't built on enabling each other to fail. When one of us whines about not feeling like running, we don't validate their excuses and tell them it's okay to skip it. We tell them they should go out and do it anyways. We both know that the feeling of completing a run is amazing even when you didn't feel like it before. Even when you have to fight to do it the whole way.

The other reason that we couldn't skip it was because neither of us could go back home if we didn't run. Our husbands are fabulous, and have no problem hanging with the kids to give us some time. But, if either of us went home before running, we better have a sprained ankle or a broken leg. They'd call us on it and probably send us back out the door.

So, we ran.

It was a tough run. I learned some lessons yesterday about fueling and hydrating properly. I'd eaten breakfast at 7:00, and we started our run at 11:00. I hadn't bothered to bring a water bottle because we were only doing about 6km (3.7mi). Problem being, I wasn't properly hydrated beforehand either.

We got through it though. We kept up a decent pace. We even ran up a couple hills. It was a battle the entire way. I was feeling low. I wasn't bonking, but I think I was in a pre-bonk state towards the end. It didn't feel good, but I actually think it was good to experience it.

In the end, we finished strong and with a smile. We did go for our coffee then. Then we went home, sweaty and in need of showers, having completed our run.

It is great to have people in your life that hold you accountable. In order for any of those people to help you, there is one person that is the most important: yourself.

You have to be the one to choose your goals and your strategies. You have to be the one to decide you want to do it and follow through. Having a support system to help you is a huge advantage, but they are useless if you don't take the first steps. It would create huge stress on a relationship if one person is always pushing the unwilling other one . Nobody wants to be the friend that is always asking about a run and always being turned down. Readers don't stick around blogs where the author is constantly in a "poor me" phase.

Everybody needs a push sometimes, but first you have to make the decision to push yourself. Make it public and ask for help. You'll find that once you start helping yourself, there are countless people that will be there to support you along the way.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Like a snake

Today was a great day. The weather has warmed up, and it's feeling like spring. We have a pass for the zoo, so we took the opportunity to go there with friends.

One of the key parts of a zoo trip is a stop at the playground. Truly, there are days I think we got a pass so that they can play at the playground. I do have to admit that it's pretty cool. It's three levels high with tunnels and climbing spots. Perfect for kids. There's one section that's "recommended" for children 6-12 years old. Of course, as a tall and brave 4 year old, Spud loves that section.

I was watching Sweetpea in another section when I heard it. Loud, scared crying. No doubt that was Spud. I also was fairly certain that he fortunately wasn't hurt, but scared.

It took me just a moment to locate him - right at the top. He sometimes gets overwhelmed when there's too many people around. I never got a straight story, but the best I figure, there was too much going on, he was high up and he freaked out.

Next thing was to rescue him. I tossed my bag down, and climbed in. Back and forth on these little level-step type things. Fortunately, there weren't too many kids in that section, so I made quick work of it.

Once I got to the top, I was able to calm Spud down and convince him to go down the slide. He calmed down pretty quickly after that and went to play in the toddler section with his sister. (Though I have no doubt that the next time we are there, he'll be back in the big kid section.)

I grabbed my bag and went to watch my kids (I was there with a friend, so it's not like Sweetpea was totally unsupervised during this time.) A man stopped me briefly and told me:

"I was really impressed. Number one, that you knew so quickly it was your kid crying, and number two that you slithered up there so fast, like a snake."

First of all, I'll say that recognizing Spud's cry was easy. I don't think it's that impressive for a parent to recognize their own child's freakout. Then there's the snake part...

I had a sudden realization that when I weighed 45 pounds more then I do now, I would not have found it so easy. That space wasn't designed for an adult. It was designed for children, and the tightness of the space reflects that. I'm not going to be too dramatic and claim I'd never have been able to rescue my son before. I'm sure I could have. But, it would have been a struggle. Today, I simply did what I had to do, and it was pretty easy. Heck, if it wasn't for the angry stares I'd probably get from other parents, I could have fun playing in there all on my own!

This blog is no longer about me shrinking, but I don't forget where I came from. For a long time, I didn't take care of myself. My body reflected that. My abilities reflected that. Everyday life was different.

Today, I make different choices, and every once in a while, I get reminders. Reminders of how far I've come. The weight I've lost allows me to do things I couldn't do before. Today, it was to quickly climb to the top of a play structure to help my son. In a week and a half, it will be to run a half marathon. From there? The sky's the limit...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bike repair course

Yesterday, I loaded Bella (my road bike) up and headed to the University to learn how to take care of her. The most complicated maintenance I'd done prior to this course was pumping up bike tires. Although I'd been shown how to change a flat, I had little confidence in my ability to actually do it if I needed to.

My husband had suggested bringing Heidi (my hybrid) along instead, but I figured that Bella was the one that I really needed to know how to take care of. I could still apply everything to Heidi later.

When I got there, I ran into Nicole and her husband, Jarrett.

Nicole and I. I wasn't having a very photogenic day, but she looks great.

Nicole was taking the course because she had about the same level of repair experience as I did, and Jarrett was taking the course because he wanted to see how fast he could change a flat. ;)

Turns out my fears of being the only female and the only one over the age of 22 were quite unfounded. Aside from Nicole and I, there was one other female in the class of 7. I would guess that nobody was under the age of 25, let alone 22. This wasn't a class of university students.

When the instuctor, DJ, started, I wasn't too sure initially. He seemed really nervous and I wondered if this was the first class he'd ever taught. Within a few minutes though, he got into a groove and seemed more comfortable. He knew his stuff, and was good at explaining it. I asked all kinds of basic questions while he was showing us how to change a tire. Possibly annoying some others in the class, but such is life.

The lights kept going out. They were on a motion sensor, so whenever there wasn't enough movement, they'd turn off. They required large movements of people walking around, rather then just smaller movements of us bent over our bikes working on them. Whenever they'd go out, we'd all wave our arms in the air and they'd go back on.

It took me a bit of time to change my tire. I had to redo it, as I was almost done and DJ came over and did something that pulled the valve out a bit. I didn't mind though. I don't remember things from seeing them. Doing them is what cements it in my mind. I actually believe myself capable of fixing a flat now, and since I still have a trainer tire on my bike, I'll practice at least one more time before taking Bella on the road.

After that, we were shown how to break and put back together a chain. Then on to cleaning and lubing.

I'm glad we covered this, as I really had no idea what you lube other then the chain. Again, one of those basic things that I needed to know. The bike he showed us on had Shimano Ultegra components. They were shinier and more expensive then my 105 components, but they looked basically the same, so I was able to clearly see and understand what he was talking about.

I kind of got lazy on the degreasing job. Since Bella has never been on the road, she's pretty darn clean. I didn't bother using the chain cleaner and only did a very basic job on the gears. I'll practice this job on Heidi though, since she's not nearly that clean.

Me pretending to degrease Bella with a rather crazed look on my face.

Overall, I'm really glad I did the course. Basic? Yes. But exactly what I needed. In many ways, bikes aren't really that complicated and I'd like to gain the ability to take care of my own. For now, this course will get me through the season and let me deal with emergencies on the road. In the future, I hope to learn more and possibly take a more in depth courses.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Give me a break already!

So, after a fun snow day on Saturday, Sunday came around and we all got sick. Sweetpea had been sick on Thursday with a gastro bug of some sort. I had hoped it would be an isolated incident. Sadly, not so much. I guess we were just incubating it for a while. Saturday night, my husband got sick (he needs a blog name...), then Spud woke up sick in the morning. I waited until the afternoon before coming down with it myself.

The good part: less then 24 hours later and I'm feeling largely better. My insides feel rather abused, but nobody is using them as a punching bag anymore. I think I may even be able to make my swim program tonight.

The bad: with two weeks to go until my half marathon, it hit me on my long run day. There was even beautiful weather and it would have been a great day for running. I've missed a LOT of long runs this training cycle because I keep getting sick, and that's considering that I've trained through the easier illnesses.

It looks like I should be able to do my long run on Wednesday, and I think that will be my last one. It will probably just be 18 km (11.2mi), since my last long one was 16km (10mi). I'm not thrilled about that. I had hoped to be running 24km (15mi) for my long runs by the time I got to the half. Having said that, if I can run 18km, I can run 21.1km. Being as it's my first half mary, the main goal is to finish. I'll set a personal best regardless.

I'm hoping the warm weather will help end the string of illnesses. I'm also starting to consider what I can do to minimize them. Everybody knows about handwashing. I am also thinking I need to prioritize sleep time. Going to parks rather then play places with the kids should help, which is where the warm weather comes in. We'll do the flu shot again next year. It's the first year I skipped it in many; I've been sick way more and I'm pretty sure at least two of the "plagues" I got hit with were the flu.

What do you do to stay healthy?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Yesterday Mother Nature decided to do an April fools joke - a day late. We got about 15 cm (9 inches) of snow. I was supposed to run in the morning with Krissy. When she emailed me to suggest the track, I didn't hesitate. Running in that stuff would be like running in sand. Plus, I have HTUFed lots this winter and run in weather as cold as -30c (-22f). I'm done with it!

It was a challenging run, one of those ones where you have to push through the whole thing. Thank goodness I had company for it! We finished our 6km and even ran our final lap the fastest ever. (Admittedly I felt a bit like I needed to puke after the final sprint, but that went away shortly.)

I then took Spud to his swimming lesson - which he passed! The kid is a fish. He's passed three levels in one try so far. Most kids repeat them multiple times - given that these are the preschool levels. He was already the youngest in his current class... At the age of four, he can swim better then I could a year ago.

When I got home, my husband suggested playing outside with the kids. I would have happily hibernated the rest of the day away. For all the snow though, I had to admit that it wasn't actually that cold outside. It was just below freezing.

The snow wasn't quite the right consistency for snowmen, but by packing it instead of rolling it, we managed a decent one.

Snow angels with Sweetpea and Daddy...

We had a mini snowball fight. Spud tried to pick up part of a snow man for his weaponry, but found it a bit heavy...
I might not be in any of the pictures, but I was there! Behind the lens. We all had a blast in the snow. I still hope it's the last snow of the spring though!

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools!

Yeah, we're not moving, but I got some of you... No hard feelings I hope.

I love where I live. Yeah, the winter can be hard, but I see mountains out my front window and can drive to them in less then an hour. And, as my husband is fond of reminding me, we don't get natural disasters in this climate. ;)

A big move

This past winter has been hard on me. I won't deny it. It seemed like one of the worst ones we've had and the unrelenting cold days really got to me. There's another reason that it probably was harder to deal with. One that I couldn't really discuss right away.

The fact that it may be the last one.

We're moving!

My husband's work has an office in San Mateo and he's been offered a position there. Never heard of San Mateo? Neither had I. It's quite close to San Francisco and in a very different climate then Cochrane, Alberta.

It wasn't a decision we made lightly, but now that it's made we're going full steam ahead. He's going down there for a business trip in a couple weeks, which will also be a house hunting trip. We have our own house to put on the market, so I've been doing some serious decluttering and we're getting rid of all the baby stuff.

I expect this Canadian girl and family to be fully transplanted by the end of July.

Right in the middle of summer. It figures...