Posts Tagged ‘health’

Race Report: Mini Oly in Caesar’s Creek, OH

The Zoom Multisport Race was my last practice before Muncie’s Half Ironman race (70.3) in July.  I had originally signed up to do a small Olympic but really wanted to do the 1/3 Iron Race.

My coach didn’t want me to do the Iron because I have a nagging glute injury that has plagued me for the past 3 weeks.  Since I had done a Open Water Swim the previous Wednesday and felt great, I was wrestling with the decision of doing the smaller event.

Finally, I decided to heed the advice of my coach and some friends who advised me against pushing it – and thank God I did.  The bike was so bad on my injury that I contemplated a DNF.  That bad.

But let’s start from the beginning.  That morning I woke up 3 hrs before my race to eat breakfast (Oatmeal, fruit, nuts, soy latte) and stretch.  I had already finished my race plan the night before so I was set on what I wanted to accomplish.  Per the usual, I had really bad sleep the night before (anticipation) but I didn’t feel tired or sluggish.

We got to the race and I made it early enough to rack my bike in the 2nd slot of the first rack!!!! A first for me!  It made it SOOO much easier to spot after the swim!  I found another Cincinnati Tri Club member and we chatted until the start of the swim.

The Swim – “Watch out! here I come” – 1:59/100 yd (rank: 12 out of 50)

The Swim went really well.  Some minor leakage in my goggles (my eternal search for the best goggles that don’t hit my eyelashes continues) but I didn’t get kicked or poked this time.  I am getting a lot better (through practice) at keeping my cool in the “washing machine” and sighting.  Whenever I would sense a “freak out” approaching in my mind, I would just sing “Oceans” in my head (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nz3_6QPl6VM).

The Bike – “Ouch, it hurts!” (15.5 mph avg, bottom third)

The transition from swim to bike was great.  Had my HUMA gel, put on my tri biking shoes (no socks), grabbed my helmet and glasses and I was off!  Or so I thought.  The first 10 miles were excruciating.  My glute injury was hurting big time.  I couldn’t reach a cadence higher than 85 without it screaming so I had to mash it out in the lower 80s.  So many things went through my head:  ” I won’t be ready for Muncie, it’s in 2 weeks!!”  “maybe I should quit this bike right now!”  “this is so disappointing”  “why did I have to get hurt right at the end?!”.  I was a mess of negativity and anger.  Then I remembered that part of my race plan was to “be grateful”.  I forcibly smiled at the beautiful scenery, I started appreciating the sunny but cool day.  I thanked God for the strong body he has given me.  I thanked him for creation and for my health.  Then, slowly, my glute stopped throbbing.  A tall guy with black compression socks passed me and he became my focus.  I chased him the rest of the way and I was able to salvage the bike.  Or rather, God salvaged the ride.  This glute injury knocked off a full mph from my race bike pace (16.5) but if I can complete Muncie at the lower pace, I will still be grateful.  I had a HUMA gel every 30 minutes and two bottles of water with Nuun.

The Run – “I freakin’ hate running”  (11:12 pace, bottom third).

I had a quick transition- put on socks and shoes (took off my biking shoes & helmet) and grabbed my hat with my hand-bottle (pre-prepped with Nuun).    I find that I have to take small sips and not gulp water at the aid stations to keep hydrated, so I plan on running with my hand-water bottle in Muncie.

Thank God the glute wasn’t an issue while I was running.  But, let’s be honest, I hate running and running hates me.  I’ve been diligently working on my running since January and have gotten better but my running heart rate is hideous –I averaged 170 during the race – and I was concerned my heart was going to explode.  For Muncie, if I can complete the 13 miles without walking, I am ok with that.

All in all – the race was good, I faced some physical and mental challenges and was reminded of both my weaknesses and strengths.  But all in all, I was reminded to be grateful that, with the grace of God, I am able to complete races and improve my health and wellbeing while setting a good example for my boys that taking time to be healthy is always important.

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Trip to Miami Whitewater Park

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Lucas and the Lily Pad

I continue to be amazed at Cincinnati’s series of parks!  Seriously, they are awesome!.  This time we visited Miami Whitewater, a very large park, which included a medium-size lake, a splash pad and playground.  People can rent paddle boats and even stand-up paddle boards!   There were some small motor water vehicles there but not enough to disrupt the nature-watching.  The park also boasts nature trails but we were too tired from canoeing/paddleboarding in the lake and later attending the splash pad to check them out.  While on the lake we found a huge Lily pad (which I had never seen before), it was beautiful!

While I was on the paddle board, I overhear two women on a paddle boat talking (the sound in the lake carries!) and the conversation went like this:

“I would like to try that paddle thing but I don’t have the balance”

“Yeah, it looks really hard”

“I think I would fall in the water!”

I tried to pretend I couldn’t hear their entire conversation and nonchalantly paddled on by.  Ha!

After being on the water for a while we loaded the canoe/paddleboard in the car, had a snack and then the boys went to the splash pad.  They said it was their favorite yet!

Miami Whitewater is definitely worth a (re)visit!

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Paddleboarding

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Dry Park

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Wet (Splash Pad)

 

 

Camping at Stonelick Park

The beachSince we had such a great time camping at Lake Kincaid a couple of weeks back, we decided to take advantage of the summer time we have left by going camping again. Before Lake Kincaid, we had come from a long camping hiatus because our last camping experience, while fun, was exhausting. We took SO much stuff that I was still cleaning stuff from the trip three weeks after. In addition, every time I went to the basement, the camping stuff was not put away and it cluttered our basement. All in all, it was a lot of work for just a little bit of camping time and didn’t seem worth it.

Well, since I’m on sabbatical, we decided to try it again  and that’s where our nice experience at Lake Kincaid came in. Our criteria for location is simple – has to be no more than 1.5 hrs away from home, so if it’s a disaster or it rains, we can just drive back, no harm no foul. It also has to have a lake so we can use our canoe and paddleboard. Ideally, it should also have a pool or beach or hiking trails or something to keep our kids occupied.

Stonelick park met all those criteria and had the additional bonus of being 30 minutes away from us, so it was an easy pick.

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It wouldn’t be a good story without a complicating factor though, now would it?…

This week I overdid it. Dennis says that my “planning” side signs me up for things that my “execution” side can’t always deliver without going through some pain – and he’s right. This week I wanted to study with the kids, clean the house, take care of the 5 foster kittens (who make a huge mess), cook, do groceries, prepare for camping trip, help my friend who has newborn twins and volunteer with the boys at the Foodstore Vegetable/Fruit fields. Oh and I’m also recuperating from a chest cold.

My Thursday started with working with the boys to redo our basement’s play area (moving multiple tables, organizing toys, putting things away etc) and I finished that task with a sore back. Then it was off to Kentucky to help my friend who has twin newborns and two older boys. My friend needed help organizing her basement and we spent 4-5 hours doing that. By the time I was driving home, my back was in agony. Then on Friday, we were heading back to Kentucky, this time to help in the Giving Fields. The Giving Fields is a United Way supported charity that provides fresh fruit and veggies to the area’s Foodbanks. The fields only have one employee so they basically work through volunteers (I discuss it in more detail here).

After the volunteer activity I had a laundry list of activities that I was supposed to complete to get us ready to go camping but I couldn’t do any of them. After putting the boys down for a nap, I crawled into my own bed with four ice packs for my back.

Since my back was hurt, Dennis and I decided to leave the canoe at home since there was no way for me to help lift it without hurting myself. We brought the paddleboard since it’s light. I am definitely feeling the need for a couple of no-task-days. Where I don’t have to do anything, or go anywhere. Where the boys and I just rest. I need it. My back definitely needs it.

Also, I’m getting old. Apparently.

Back to camping – Stonelick is surprisingly not “woody”. On the plus side, their campsites are huge ( a plus, especially after Lake Kincaid, where we basically were on top of our neighbors) but it doesn’t have much of “nature” as it relates to camping at the edge of some woods. We rented a “premium” site (usually meant for RVs and super close to the water). The site was at a cul de sac which the boys used a lot for scootering. There was also a dock and the boys spent a lot of time asking some poor fishermen questions. The next day we went hiking – the trails were very nice and the opposite of the sites. They were covered in old growth trees that were huge and created a big canopy. Given the low light in the bottom, it prevented large shrubs from coming up and we had only low level plans competing for the foot paths. In addition, some Boy Scout troop maintained patches of it and did a really nice job. During the walk we identified, birds, wildflowers and insects but the highlight of the hiking was the mushrooms. We even saw “chicken of the forest” which apparently tastes like chicken if you cook it.

After the hike, we went to the the lake to swim, play with the sand and paddle board. I was worried about hurting my back further when paddleboarding but the immediate emotional lift from being in the board superseded all else. Paddling in a calm, beautiful lake is amazing. Two other water “vehicles” (a canoe and a kayak) stopped by to ask me questions about the paddleboard (since they had not “seen anything like it before”).

Dennis took the boys out on the paddleboard once I came back and we quickly packed up when it looked like it would rain.

The other highlight of the trip was the “outside movie”. On our way to hike, we found out that they would be playing “Madagascar 3” on an outdoor amphitheater. We took the boys and sat on our towels to watch the movie while munching on popcorn that the park provided! Pretty sweet.

On Sunday, we went on another hike but this time got pretty eaten up by mosquitoes. Still, all in all, I love nature hiking as a family!  Stonelick is a definitely “do again” place.

Nature Studies and Other Things

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I am a fan of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education and really like her views on the importance of nature studies. She argues for every day interaction with nature, to understand and familiarize children with their surroundings. I really like the idea of my children being as comfortable outdoors as they are inside – and channeling their experiences into being good stewards for nature. While I am personally comfortable with the ocean and ocean creatures. I am not super comfortable with forests and, particularly, bugs.  Charlotte’s Nature Studies will double as education for the boys and as ideally will pave the path for my increasing comfort as well. Right now, I am at best mistrustful and at worst disgusted by creepy crawlies in forests. While I love and appreciate birds and trees (at a distance), having an ant, for example, climb on me really does creep me out.

So, I trudged up to Target and got the kids and myself some sketch pads, magnifying glasses and colored pencils. I also dug up our binoculars and old digital camera and we were ready! We biked to our closest hiking area (get some exercise in, chi ching!) and then hiked for 30 minutes. The experience was definitely positive although we did run into three Daddy Longlegs spiders  attacking an earthworm –which made my stomach turn– but the boys were unfazed. One of the boys took pictures of everything, which I will not post here because, believe me, it was gross.  The other boy entertained himself by using the binoculars but the wrong way – and refused to look into them the right way -so I just let him enjoy the moment unbothered. We walked for a while, called out interesting bugs or plants and watched the river once we got to the end of the hike. I sketched a big maple leaf in my pad but the boys weren’t hugely interested in sketching.

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Nature Studies supplies

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Our first sketch! Rough but it does the job!

As I was sitting down to sketch, a huge bug with pincers started climbing on my thigh and after I shook it off, I hastily stood up. Guess this “fall in love with the forest” will take me longer after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The boys were happy with our little adventure and I think they will be game for the next one!IMG_2149

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Transitioning into a Vegan Lifestyle

In about a week or so I will have been vegetarian for 2 years.  It will also be my 5 month anniversary of being vegan.  Veganism, according to Wikipedia is: “the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, as well as an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals.”  

I became vegan after reading Alicia Silverstone’s book “The Kind Diet“.  In this book (which I recommend), Alicia argues that you can’t be fully supporting and helping animals unless you transition from vegetarian to a full vegan.  Why? Because cows are fully mistreated and tortured to feed us all the milk and cheese that we want to consume.  They are kept perpetually pregnant, their calves are taken from them pretty much after birth to be slaughtered for veal and they are impregnated again.  They are milked by machines and pumped full of hormones to produce up to 20x the normal amount of milk that they would in their natural habitat.  After 2-3 years the cows are so spent that they are not even good for human consumption but they go into other animal feed or into pet feed.

Net-net, as an animal lover and one who had made the choice to be a vegetarian because I fundamentally disagree with how we treat animals in industry farming and the horrendous effect it has on the environment (pollution, deforestation, water usage, to mention a few), that I decided to try becoming a vegan.

Now mind you, I had told Dennis on multiple occasions that “I wouldn’t ever be able to become a vegan” because I believed the lifestyle to be “extreme”.  Dennis wasn’t too excited about the idea and we even had a discussion about it.  His concern was how we would maintain a half-vegan household and the increased difficulty of eating and living vegan.

That issue became a moot point after we saw the movie “Forks over Knives” (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!) in Amazon movies and realized how BAD milk/cheese was for your health and your body.  It stopped being just an “ethical” issue and became a true “health” concern for us.  What we realized is that in parts of the world where animal products are not consumed (or consumed in small quantities) people rarely die from heart disease, cancer and diabetes.  But in places where people consumed huge quantities of animal products, those diseases were the  leading causes of death.  Dr. Greger, from NutritionFacts.org, has an incredibly enlightening and eye-opening presentation that discusses the medical proof of the bad effects of animal products on our bodies and our health.

Dennis became a vegan right after we saw that movie and hasn’t looked back since.  I have to say that I am beyond amazed that he not only went vegetarian (no meat) but full on vegan pretty much cold turkey.

Here are our observations so far:

1.  Weight Loss – we each have lost between 13-15 lbs each!   We lost them little by little ( 0.5 or 1 lb per week).  The irony is that I have been trying to lose 8 lbs for about 10 years.  First it was the college weight gain then it was the baby weight.  Dennis and I tried all kids of diets (South Beach Diet, Paleo, the General Mills diet, Weight Watchers) and we would lose about 5lbs and then immediately gain it back.  Those paltry pounds were painful to use, we were hungry, cranky and would “fall off the wagon” constantly.  The whole thing was difficult, frustrating, time-consuming (tracking calories) and left us feeling guilty and insecure.   This was different.  We lost this weight naturally,without “trying” to diet.  Our level of satisfaction with our body skyrocketed and we felt confident and comfortable in our clothes.

2.  Clarity of Thought– after a week of being vegan, both Dennis and I noticed that we were thinking more clearly.  I can’t explain why but we both experienced this interesting effect.

3.  No ups and downs in energy– The “typical” 3 pm energy drop disappeared and we were more even keeled through the day.

4.  Better cardio  endurance-even though our exercising consistency has left much to be desired (especially after our second son was born), whenever we got on the treadmill we were able to go faster and further that we had before.  Dennis even noticed it when shoveling snow, something that used to tire him out, didn’t anymore.

5.  Food adventures– One of Dennis concerns when we became vegan is “what will we eat?”.  Going from meat-eater to vegetarian is relatively easy because you just take out the meat of the dishes.  When you go vegan, now you have to think about milk (including the milk protein “casein” which is in EVERYTHING including “veggie” cheese).  I went to the library and found a ton of books and started experimenting!  I got acquainted with vegetables and fruits that I wouldn’t have touched before -because I didn’t know how to cook them.  We adopted an adventurous mind-set and set out to try different recipes.

Now the challenge will be our 2 boys – one who is starting school next year- and how to maintain a vegan lifestyle with them in elementary school.  Stay tuned!