Thursday, April 29, 2010

Activity log

Going back to the activity log format for a bit.

4/29: AM: strength building, PM: 3.63 mi run with Michelle at a 11'10" min/mi pace

4/28: swimming (first time in 4 months!), 1100 yards, 1'09" min/lap. The pool wasn't nearly as cold as I remembered... it probably helps that it's April now instead of December.

4/26: treadmill running, 1.1 mi at 10'38" min/mi and 2 hours of climbing with Annie, Mike, and Matt. There's only one song that makes me tear up every time I hear it, and it came on in the middle of a climb. Needless to say, I didn't nail that route.

4/24: Belle Sherman Elementary 5K, 29 minutes for a speed of 9'21" min/mi :D

4/22: AM: weights, abs PM: running with Michelle, 0.96 mi at 9'19" min/mi, 0.21 at 10'22" min/mi & climbing with Mike and Annie

4/21: weights, abs

4/20: running speed work, 1.37 mi at 8'54" min/mi, 0.49 at 8'25" min/mi

4/18: running with Asti, Erik, and Daisy the dog, 1.68 mi at 10'58" min/mi, 0.43 at 10'13" min/mi

4/16: running speed work, 1.28 mi at 10'20" min/mi, 0.48 mi at 8'58" min/mi

4/15: running with Michelle, 2.67 mi, 28'55", 10'47" min/mi

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lunch recipe

I'm sick and tired of eating quinoa and kidney beans. In order to salvage my appetite, I decided that I needed to find more exciting meals to eat at lunch time. I stumbled on an unexpectedly good "recipe" that I thought I'd share. It's easy to make in bulk and then eat throughout the week.

quinoa*: 1/3 cup per serving
amaranth*: a couple of tablespoons per serving
pesto*: 1-2 tbsp per serving
beans*: 1/3 of a can per serving

Cook the quinoa and amaranth with salt to taste for about 15 minutes (2:1 ratio of water to grains), and then mix in the rest of the ingredients. It's a recipe that's easy to adapt to whatever is in the fridge. This week, I used chickpeas, olives, pinenuts, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and feta*.

*iron source

Monday, April 12, 2010

Skunk Cabbage report

It took 12 weeks of training and running 10-20 miles per week, but I made it. I learned a lot about how to train (have a schedule!), I made some mistakes (iron is important), I spent lots of quality time running with my friends, and I am now in the best shape of my life. All the hard work paid off and I finished faster than I could have predicted.

Half marathon results: 2:22:14, 10'52" minutes per mile, 429/465 overall, 98/108 for my age/sex bracket, 200/226 overall for women.

That's not bad for my first real running race, but I have to admit, I was a lot happier with my results before I saw all the ranks. I just have to remind myself that it's a great time for me (amazing, really) and that now I have a personal record that I can aim to beat next time. Most importantly, I had a lot of fun and enjoyed every minute of the run.

I'm especially proud of my training partners. We worked really hard for the past few months and it showed. All of us were able to run the entire distance without injuring ourselves and each of exceeded our own expectations. Remarkably, all of us want to do it again, and some crazy folks even want to double it for a full marathon.

Race stats:
  • Food: 2 packages of goo consumed along the run. That stuff is magic.
  • Water: I was the only person that I saw carrying a gatorade bottle by hand, but it was so worth it. The 4 water stations would not have sufficed.
  • Weather: mid-50's, sunny (amazingly, I have tan lines), slight wind
  • Body parts that hurt the next day: left ankle, right knee, both quads
  • Vitamin I: 1 so far
Notable training milestones:
  • August 2009 (~8 months ago): first time running a mile since high school
  • October 2009 (~6 months ago): first time running 5k
  • January 2010 (Week 1 of half marathon training): first time running 4 consecutive miles
  • March 2010 (Week 10 of half marathon training): first time running 8 consecutive miles
  • April 2010 (half marathon): first time running 13.1 consecutive miles
  • Miles logged so far: 244
I know I'm repeating myself, but seriously, thanks to everyone who's cheered me along, virtually or in real life. I'm lucky to have so many great people in my life, especially those who ran the 10k or half marathon, came out to watch, and helped celebrate.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Half Marathon Training: Week 12

This week was a tapering week. We did our normal run on Tuesday and a short run on Thursday, and then spent a few days resting before the half marathon. I also decided to temporarily stop taking my iron pills because they're making me feel really sick. A break from the nausea and from running helped me feel energetic and relaxed before the half marathon.

1.5 hours of climbing at the wall with Matt. After three weeks off, my arms felt like spaghetti.

Tuesday Michelle and I ran 4.86 miles through the Plantations. We managed to follow the route that Ben showed us over the weekend. My pace was 11'36" minutes per mile. I carried water for this run and did a cooldown afterward before heading back inside. No post-run wonkiness.

Wednesday I did a little light weightlifting in the morning before work.

Thursday Michelle and I went for a quick 2.81 mile run around campus and Beebe Lake. Both of us were feeling lethargic so we ended up walking the last part. We're both looking forward to some well deserved rest after the half marathon is done.

Friday-Saturday Rest.

Half Marathon Training: Week 12
Week of 4/5/10 red=incomplete; green=completed

stretch & strengthen4 m run3 m run or cross2 m runrestresthalf marathon

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Iron continued

After two days as an omnivore, I can officially say: BLECH. I've calmed down and decided to re-evaluate my diet for what seems like the umpteenth time this year. I realized that there are number of places where I can easily double or triple my iron intake without relying on meat. For reference, the recommended daily allowance is 18 mg. And yes I eat the same exact meals 5-7 days a week.

Breakfast A quick glance through my breakfast cereals revealed that different brands in my cupboard vary between 1 and 9 mg per serving. Other brands like Grape Nuts or Total go up to 16 to 18 mg per serving. One tablespoon of molasses in morning coffee is another 7 mg, although iron is not well absorbed when taken with coffee or calcium.

Lunch I switched to protein and iron fortified pasta years ago, so that earns me a healthy 4.6 mg. I started adding beans to my pasta last month, but the 'serving size' of 1 cup is too much for lunch. However, grains like amaranth and quinoa are loaded with iron in much smaller serving sizes and can easily be boiled along with (or replace) pasta.

Dinner Man I wish my burritos were more nutritious. But eating veggies, beans, rice and/or tofu wrapped in a tortilla gives me tons of fiber and fills me up before I've consumed enough food. I discovered today that I can throw the same veggies into my favorite Indian lentil soup -- sambar -- for 7 mg of iron. It turns out that the Indian diet I grew up on was amazingly high in iron so perhaps it's time to go back to my roots.

On a related note, I got more test results today and more not-so-good news. My ferritin level (a measure of stored iron) is 5 ng/mL (normal is 10-291). Watch what you eat, people in cyber world!

For a list of vegetarian iron sources, see here.
For a discussion of iron for triathletes, see here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Iron and exercise

I gave into my craving and I ate my first hamburger in a decade. It was delicious. But more than that, for the first time in a long time, I was satiated by a single reasonably portioned meal. I was getting worried by the fact that I had no appetite after my long runs. It wasn't because of lack of hunger. I just wasn't hungry for tofu, beans, or any other veggie protein. None of those things felt substantive enough after a really hard workout. This is the first time in all my years of vegetarianism that I've craved meat, so I took the hint.

I got my blood tests back and I do indeed have low iron levels. In fact, they're lower than they were a month ago, and that's despite my best attempts to eat a well rounded iron rich diet. I know that the quick and easy fix is to take iron pills. But I can't help but feel that it's my diet that is inadequate, and that's a problem that can be fixed by changing what I eat. I'll probably combine both approaches and start taking iron supplements as well as add a small amount of meat back into my diet.

The key point here is to listen to your body. I've increasingly had problems with nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness, and loss of appetite during and after exercise. I've also been frustrated by my inability to improve my performance. I have no idea how much of that is related to blood iron. But from my reading I've come to realize that endurance athletes carefully monitor their blood iron levels. Anemia is quite common, and being a female vegetarian put me at high risk. Rigorous exercise increases your iron requirements up to 30%, and vegetarians must consume twice as much iron as omnivores because non-haem (plant derived) iron is absorbed half as well as haem (animal derived) iron.

Related reading:
Women with low iron have impaired physical performance
Iron status and exercise

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Half Marathon Training: Week 11

I decided to shell out the $10 for my copay and scheduled an appointment to get a proper blood test done by a doctor. My metabolism has been f***ed up lately and it seems worth getting things in working order before embarking on triathlon training. I'm amazed at the different metabolic requirements between sports (see stats below--- I finally understand why runners are so skinny). I think my body will appreciate a balance of swimming, biking and running. Only one week of half marathon training to go!

Some interesting stats from this month's 'Runner's World':

Activity (Calories burned per mile/Calories burned per min)
Running 5 mph (108/7.87)
Running 10 mph (108/16.87)
Walking 3 mph (85/3.12)
Cycling 16 mph (18.57/3.82)
Cycling 23 mph (36.2/13.35)
Swimming 2.56 mph (330/12.95)

*Cycling faster apparently burns more calories per mile because wind resistance becomes a factor, whereas running burns the same number of calories per mile whether you go fast or slow.

Monday-Wednesday Rest.

Thursday After 3 days off, I was itching to run again. Michelle and I went for a 4.05 mile run through the Plantations. My pace was 10'43" minutes per mile. It was bloody hot outside (75F!!) and I was too thirsty to run any further. Now I remember why I always ran in the morning last summer.

Friday Decided to recalibrate my iPod since it's been a bit wonky lately. Before work, I ran 1.8 miles up and down the East Hill Rec Trail at a 9'59" minutes per mile pace.

Saturday Annie and I took advantage of the beautiful weather to ride our bikes to Taughannock (10 miles each way) for a barbecue. Riding on my trainer is not equivalent to riding outdoors, especially after the wind picked up on the ride home. I felt very out of shape.

Sunday Michelle, Annie, Jaroslav, Ben, Maddy (the dog), and I ran through the Plantations. It was fun running with a different group. Ben showed us some dirt trails behind the Plantations that took us down to the creek and back up. I did 5.15 miles at a 11'15" minute per mile pace.

Half Marathon Training: Week 11 (modified)
Week of 3/29/10 red=incomplete; green=completed

stretch & strengthen5 run3 m run or cross5 m run + strengthrest60 min cross10 m run