Monday, May 21, 2012

My First Triathlon Experience - As a Volunteer

On Saturday I got up at 4:30 am. Not for a race I was running in, but to head out to Team Magic's Cedars of Lebanon Triathlon to volunteer.

I wanted to volunteer for a Tri before actually completing my first one to take some of the mystery out of my own race day. It was my first time being on the volunteer side of a race and it was actually really fun even though I didn't I went out by myself. I could see myself volunteering for other races in the future - it was that fun!

Since they were short a few volunteers, I did a variety of jobs - from unloading post-race food from cars, to body marking participants, to directing racers on the run, and helping break down the finish line and transition area after the race.

Body marking was actually a fun job - I mean actually getting to write on people's skin with a permanent marker? Awesome!

Tip #1 (especially for the ladies): shave the night before or morning of the race. I know this seems like common hygiene sense, but I am not really one to shave my legs every day (men, of course, you aren't required to shave - lucky!) and I feel it would be a little less awkward to let someone mark me up if I have smooth legs!

Back of the transition area just before the start of the race.
Another mental note I took was to not unrack my bike from my car until I've picked up my packet and have my credentials to enter the transition area. At most races only participants are allowed in the transition area. At this race if you hadn't picked up your packet yet, you had to go down to the pool deck to get your race packet, thus passing transition and then back tracking. Something small, but a detail that can make race morning go smoother.

Just before the race started, I moved to my place where I would be for the race. I was stationed at the run exit/finish entrance to direct racers where to go as they exited and then again when they came in for the finish line. So in my opinion, I got to see one of the best parts of the race - after they get off the bike and are starting the run. Most racers Saturday looked really strong, so I have high hopes with my upcoming bricks planned I will perform similarly in my own race.

So, for each runner that came out of T2, I would say something like "stay left, in between the cones". I even had an official looking vest AND a flag (too bad no picture evidence). Surprisingly there were about half a dozen racers that tried to turn right even though A) I verbally said left to everyone and B) I was blocking the right exit AND there was a sign with an arrow pointing left. Goes to show you how discombobulated you can get during a race!

Another funny story was the lead racer coming back from the turnaround on the run. He goes, "I thought this course was flat!" It was funny to see even the fastest guy out on the course making jokes and having a good time. I think that's one of the things I enjoyed most about volunteering - seeing all of these participants, whether they were the lead of the pack, middle of the pack or the last racer on the course, having fun, smiling, and accomplishing a goal they set out to do.

The final racer was a man who had a double leg amputation. His wife and son had been waiting for him near the finish line and the race staff had given them permission for his son (around 3 or 4) to run the finish line with him. I still get tears thinking about this moment in the race - it was so special to witness him taking his son by the hand as they crossed the finish line.

Another Tip  - As one of the race participants was leaving I asked why a lot of people brought their stuff in those large plastic painter's buckets. He was so kind to indulge me by describing how 1) it's helpful to sit on when putting your shoes on and 2) you can throw your gear in it as you finish each leg so you can keep everything organized. So say after your swim leg, you put your shoes on (while sitting on the bucket) then you flip it over and throw your goggles and swim cap in it. It was a helpful hint I think I'll use.

He also told me to only compete with myself at my race - don't compete with others on the course. A good reminder to run my own race.

All in all it made me super excited for my own race - although I'm only 2 weeks into training, I feel ready. I know by time July 21st rolls around I will be ready to accomplish the distance. Oh, and next time you participate in a race - thank a volunteer. It felt good when people thanked me as they walked to their cars!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weigh in - heart's just not in it

Last Week's weight - 236.6

This Week's weight - 240.0

3.4 lbs GAINED

89.2 lbs lost since June 2010

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't ashamed of the 240s creeping back. But another part of me doesn't really care. I need to reevaluate what I'm doing here. To tell you the truth, my heart just hasn't been in this weight loss thing lately. And if you've ever tried to lose weight you know your heart has to be into it to succeed.

My heart is into the fitness part of a healthy lifestyle, but not the nutrition part. Unfortunately the nutrition is the important part for weight loss.

I'm headed to the beach later this week. I hope a few days away will recenter my priorities. Or if the priorities in my heart are different than those in my mind, I can figure out how to balance it. It's time to make something happen either way.

I'm done with this roller coaster ride.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I'm in love...with chickpea salad (recipe)

I'm in love.

Not with a, no this is much more special than that.

It's mashed Chickpea Salad. And you will be in love too.

Am I the only one that loves a good scoop of chicken salad? Despite 90% of the population's aversion to celery I love the crunch and flavor it gives the creamy mayo induced, protein filled, perfect lunch plate.

BUT....I don't know if I've talked about it much here, however, I have been "off" meat for awhile now. I'm not vegetarian - and I HAVE eaten it since this mood struck - however it doesn't ever sound good to me. At least in my own kitchen.

Last week, I ate at The Wild Cow. Nashville's neighborhood vegetarian and vegan friendly establishment. On this fateful night, I ordered the chickpea salad (made with veganese) as my side item and OH EM GEE I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since then.

It tasted like chicken salad - only with chick peas! Besides hummus, I've never been a huge fan of chick peas, so I have no idea what made me order this, but I'm glad I did.

I immediately started googling recipes that night to find what I thought would be a similar one found at The Wild Cow. Ding..ding..ding...I found this one.

I didn't have any Vegenaise, but I'm not vegan so no worries there. What I did have is the sinfully delicious Duke's Mayonnaise....oh yeah.

Here's my recipe based on the one above. You can, of course, substitute your own light mayo (or Vegenaise) for the Duke's, but why would you?

1 can Chickpeas
2 Tbsp Duke's Mayo
1 Tbsp Hellmann's Dijonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped celery (or sweet pickles if that's your thing)
2 Tbsp finely chopped red onion
1/2 tsp EVO
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

1. Drain and rinse chickpeas, mash to desired consistency (I think it works better if there's not much "bean" shape left).

2. Add all ingredients and mix. Refrigerate a few hours to let flavors "meld".

A 1/2 cup serving is about 175 calories and 5 grams of fat. Not so bad if you pair it with a few Wasa crackers, baby carrots and canteloupe.

Not too bad considering some grocery store chicken salads can run 280 calories and 25 grams of fat.

I see a summer staple created here! What's your favorite go-to easy, summer meals?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Weekly Weigh in

Last Week's weight - 236.4

This Week's weight - 236.6

0.2 lbs GAINED

92.6 lbs lost since June 2010

So, I haven't tracked any food for 2 weeks and I've gained the last two weeks - correlation? I think so. Honestly, I think it could have been a worse gain considering this week at work I ate how at a burger place (complete with fries and a chocolate malt), went for pizza with friend, and indulged in commencement activities on Friday (a donut breakfast, catered lunch, and celebratory margaritas). I rounded out my week with Taco Bell, pizza, and more margaritas last night (thankfully, I did 2 workouts yesterday).

This week it's back to tracking. I leave for vacation in 2 weeks and until at least then I'm off alcohol. This is a main theme in where my weeks go wrong (among eating out too much and too many sweets) It sure makes life more boring, but I need to get back on it if I ever want to be at a healthy weight.

More importantly, I will complete my first week of Triathlon training today. I just need to get in a bike ride despite the rainy weather. So far, I really like it. I am really enjoying the pool, and if I didn't have a half marathon I was planning on doing in 6 weeks plus the bike to contend with, I'd be swimming a lot more than my current schedule allows.

If I can get my eating under control, my training schedule will certainly allow me to drop some more fat and tone my body overall.

At some point, I need to move forward again. This wavering in the balance is not doing anything for me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

First swim - Triathlon Training

Monday was the big first swim for Triathlon training. If you follow me on Twitter, you've probably seen me complain about lack of ability to find a comfortable swimming suit. My torso is long, I'm plus size, and I carry a lot of weight in my midsection. Oh, and I have a lot of back fat/extra skin I want to hide back there. But finally I found one. A few weeks ago I tried on a size 18 basic solid tank suit from Reebok. It fit, but it was snug and a little tight, pulling down on my shoulders. I decided to keep looking, but to use it as a back up if I didn't find anything else. Well, after hours of dead end searches on the internet (you really CAN'T find EVERYTHING on the internet) I went back into Dick's Sporting Goods on Sunday. It was a different location than my previous visit. Low and behold they had a size 20 in the same suit I tried on before. It fit slightly better than the 18 and I decided to plop down the cash to get it.

Into the pool I went.

I recruited Jenne to come with me because I have a lot of social anxiety issues when I am trying something new or put outside of my comfort zone. Good thing she was there because I probably would have chickened out after I got into the water. All of the lanes were in use and we had to share (my worst nightmare). I sat at the side of the lap lanes telling Jenne I couldn't do it for a few minutes until coerced me into jumping in a lane. Of course, the guy in our lane wasn't following the rules (my worst pet peeve) and I forced him to run into me swimming so he would get the point. (Note: It is my understanding when sharing a lap lane you should swim "circles" or stay on the right side - just like the road - but maybe I'm wrong.)

The first two laps were a little uncomfortable. It turns out I wasn't breathing correctly while swimming. Did you know you're supposed to release your breath into the water when your face is down? Yep, exhale in the water (blow bubbles) and inhale when you tilt your head to the side. After a little breathing lesson, I was off for my second set of laps.

I'm grateful I'm fairly comfortable in the water. I've been swimming in rivers and lakes since I was 6 months old. I grew up on boats at the Lake of the Ozarks and sand islands on the Mississippi River. I learned to water ski when I was 4 and 1/2. I swam competitively for 2-3 years in childhood. And even given all of that, there were times I struggled. I felt clunky, struggled to find a rhythm, and at some points exhaled too much and thought to myself, "oh I can see how people freak out in water now."

I took 11 laps with breaks in between every 2. There's a lot of work to do, but the good part is that I enjoyed it. I'm already looking forward to my next swim. And looking forward to an open water swim when the time comes.

Next step is to figure out a biking schedule. It's sort of a pain to load up the bike for a <10 mile bike ride, so I may utilize some of the spin classes at the Y some days, but I'm not sure yet.

Needless to say, I'm pumped about Triathlon and can't wait until July 21st!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Weigh in

Last Week's weight - 232.0 This Week's weight - 236.4 4.4 lbs GAINED 92.8 lbs lost since June 2010 Apparently I'm not done with the roller coaster yet. I overate, made bad choices, and binged on Oreo cookies. All while no exercise happened. A gain was imminent. I'll pick myself up again and make it right this week. The only thing I did positively this week was join the Y in advance of Tri training beginning this week.