Monday, October 17, 2011

IMKY here we go again!!!

It's on again! I will be training and competing in Ironman Louisville in 2012!!!

"But Amy, you said you would never do an Ironman and then you said you'd never do another one again!"

True, but I changed my mind. Never say never! If you really don't want to do another one...definitely don't go to your friends' Ironman races and spend hours watching people attain the glory of the finish line!

Feeling bored and wanting another epic challenge with personal improvement, I took the plunge. With other KC friends doing the race, I won't be alone. And I have to say, I'm excited about the challenge.

I have re-mixed my Ironman Video to honor my first Ironman experience and to celebrate a new adventure!!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

1st Annual Kade Meyer Celebration 5K/10K

Here's something you haven't seen from me in awhile...a 5K race report. These days I use them as time trials to assess my fitness or lack thereof! You see where you are, then plug your numbers in to determine training paces a la All in all, considering I have been goofing off the last 6 weeks and not doing any speed work...I'm really happy with how I felt this morning. I averaged about 8:08 per mile.

Most importantly, I would highly recommend this 5K or 10K. It was held at Celebration Park in Gardner and is a fantastic course. The race celebrates the memory of Kade Meyer ~ in September 2010, this wonderful little boy that I never met was killed by a car outside of his Elementary school in Gardner. There was a strong show of support for Kade by the participants, and it was great that they were out there on this beautiful morning doing something healthy and getting their bodies moving.

This story illustrates the grace and strength of his family, friends, and others that carry on without him. It's not just about carrying on, it is also *how* you carry on. It's also about having the support of family and friends (and they are grieving too). There are choices in life, and so often you see people that do not or cannot cope with difficulty and the toll that can take. It can be debilitating or self-injuring (there are examples of this all the time on shows like Hoarders or Biggest Loser). Of course there are natural stages of emotion that people go through after a loss and feelings that continue on, but there is also a choice to make: are you going to curl up in a ball and hide and not live, or do you fight to regain some new and healthy sense of normalcy and live the best that you can?

When there is nothing you can do to change the circumstances that life hands you, you have to reach down deep and be strong. How do you acquire the life skills to be strong? It's always easier said than done. And you wish that people didn't have to have their character tested like that. But it happens. I am thankful for people that dig deep, find the grace to be as strong as they can and live the best that they can under the circumstances. As someone standing on the outside looking in, I can say a prayer for them and let them know that they are not alone, and that they are setting an example of grace that others can learn from.

You can read more about the story at

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Boulder 70.3

After participating in KS 70.3 four times, it was time for a getaway! After checking out the website and pictures (, I selected Boulder 70.3. And as it turns out, two other friends would join in, which made it a lot more fun!

My 2011 KS 70.3 race was pretty hideous...from the choppy, wavy swim to backaches on the bike from a mis-fitted seat to the mess of a run, I wasn't feeling the love and had lost my mojo. Just burned out and was over the longer distance training and races. After KS, I decided to focus just on one thing and put some

effort into biking. After weeks of 100+ temperatures, I did some swimming too but not much running. And those levels of effort ended up playing out according to exactly how much I put into each sport. Shocking right?

The good news is that I was in a more happy place this time, and Boulder is certainly gorgeous. I drove out Friday and arrived shortly before 4pm and went to pick up my packet. The venue was outstanding...really good setup. Parking was convenient, there was ample transition space near the beach. Good stuff. As usual I spent too much money at the Ironman store and got a deep discount on the Boulder 70.3 shirt because they accidentally put last year's participant names on the back...whoops! A mere two hours later, Katrina reported that all the shirts were GONE. But not because they sold out...they took them off the floor. I'm not sure why they would do that, won't they lose money regardless? Maybe they thought that was better than having to explain the mistake to 2,000+ people.

I went to check in at the hotel...Katrina made an awesome choice. We were at the Residence Inn which was 4 miles from the race site! And a mile from Whole Foods. We were SET!

On Saturday Katrina and I drove the bike course ( It is kind of hilarious to see the profile of the course, because of the squished miles scale it looks like you are biking up a giant mountain and back down. Which could be conceivable in CO right? In reality, it is about 3 miles on the first part of the loop at a 2% grade. Then another 6 miles of 1% upslope, aka false flat. If you look at my mapmyride fullscreen, you can see the profile image is a lot more gentle/realistic:

After that, we went to the race meeting and they announced that Andy Potts was going to be at the Power Bar tent. So we booked it over there and were the first ones. He just walks up and we got to chat with him. He said he trains 30 hours a week, talked about his family, etc. I made some comment about needing to train more/swimming yadda yadda and he asked if I visualized swimming. I said yes, and he joked "you need to actually swim". So true :) He seems like a very down to earth guy and family-oriented. It is fun that he takes the time to meet people. Andy was the first out of the water but then wasn't feeling well after the bike and unfortunately DNF. I could understand how he felt after my race!!!

Race day comes and I was pretty excited, but nervous. The half ironman is still a significant effort. Katrina and I got rockstar parking on the 2nd row and made our way to transition. Unlike KS 70.3, you don't have to leave your bike there overnight. It wasn't that bad getting everyone in there, if you get there early! We got our spots in order and made our way down to the water. It looked calm!!! We met up with Lindsey and waited for our heats.

Once again, the 35-39 men would be right behind my heat. Oh well. I decided to swim WAY out on the outside. They had configured the course to go clockwise from the left side of the beach to finish on the right side in order to avoid having us swimming directly into the sun for a whole segment of the swim. We were only into it for part of one turn, which was still really tough but way better than the alternative. I may have been way too far to the outside, but the beautiful thing one else was there and I had all that water to myself. It was so relaxing and I felt really smooth in the calm water. Every breath, I could see the mountains in the background. Was still thinking about our troops shot down in Afghanistan. I was happy and sad and mad at the same time.

Not really sure how much time it added, but at the first turn I had to swim way back over to the turn. Ooops. But at the next turn, I could see tons of the 35-39 men coming through and I was happy they weren't swimming over me. Really happy.

All in all "okay" but was way off what I was shooting for (low to mid 40's): 48:15

I head out on the bike feeling okay. The first few miles were slow and relaxed and then around mile 9, I let it's downhill and virtually flat for the the rest of the 28 mile loop. Then repeat. The scenery was absolutely beautiful. I was feeling the love. By the second lap, I was tired and it was getting a little more windy. Getting back into the park was scary because there was a huge line of cars trying to get in and only a tiny bit of space for the bikes...and some fast guys were wanting to pass. Scary.

Bike personal best!!!! 3:00:49 (~18.6 mph)

Getting off the bike, I had not yet seen any of the run course. I was going to have to just tough that out, because I knew that I wasn't prepared to "rock it". I did not realize that the entire course was going to be gravel/rocks. It was not easy to run on and actually was pretty uncomfortable. Unless you have tough feet, you don't want to wear flimsy shoes on that. The first lap I tried to go conservative and felt okay. If the race would have stopped after a 10k, I would have been golden. I think the lack of being prepared + the altitude, heat, surface, and long distance burnout just got me.

I will be honest...I wanted to care and try hard, but I just didn't and couldn't. I was done mentally AND physically and walked 90% of the second lap. Lindsey came by and was not feeling the run love either, but she hung in there longer than I did! I wanted to run and get it done but didn't. Was I disappointed in myself...oh a little bit. But frankly, I was thinking about the guys that were killed in Afghanistan and their families, & was feeling sad. Nothing else seemed as important.

I crossed the line and at that point felt totally all likelihood dehydrated despite drinking and drinking and drinking. It was hot. I felt terrible. Katrina was at the finish line and her foot injury had taken a beating on the gravel, so she smartly called off her second lap. It was great to see a friendly face at the finish, because I felt TERRIBLE! The kind of terrible that only throwing up could fix. Sounds fun right? No worries, because now I'm finished with 70.3's for the foreseeable future!!!!

Had a great time in Boulder and hanging out with two of the coolest women I know (that is you Katrina and Lindsey!). I am glad that I did it. Now it is time to adjust to post Ironman and 70.3 life!

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Austin Powers: So I started to work my mojo, to counter their mojo; we got cross-mojulation, and their heads started exploding.

Dr. Evil: Mojo: The libido. The life force. The essence. The right stuff. What the French call a certain... I don't know what.

Jerry Springer on Austin Powers: You know, what have we learned here today? Perhaps it's that no one can take your mojo. You can look around all you want, but what you're really trying to find is on the inside. Take care of yourself, and each other.

Austin Powers: I've lost my mojo.

I think I got my triathlon mojo back! We'll soon see, as I will be doing my "last" Half Ironman for awhile. It's time to mix things up, all this long distance stuff is hard work. Not that there is anything wrong with hard work, but it's time for fun and something different. How long have I been saying that I want to try some other things but I never get around to it because I'm doing long swim/bike/runs all the time??? A long time...4 years. I want to crank out some shorter races and focus on power again...and maybe some speed! Relatively speaking of course.

So going into this last 70.3, I'm actually stronger on the bike than I have been in a long time thanks to some group training rides. I'm feeling "okay" about my swim. My running not might be "okay" as well. I guess we'll find out!

KS 70.3 was possibly my worst race ever, and it's time to celebrate and have some joy & fun. After KS, there is nowhere to go but up right?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Paleo Pear Pie

I have quite a few friends that adhere to the Paleo Diet For Athletes ( I do not follow it strictly (I like Greek yogurt!!!) but work on incorporating as much of it as I can as often as I can. Being involved in triathlon, I have to fuel wisely while also balancing trying to enjoy life (and great food...and pizza).

One thing that I know is that I love desserts, and maybe I could find some that are a bit better than others. Enter tonight's experiment: Paleo Pear Pie.

Crust: Blend together via processor
1/4 cup almond flour (160 calories: 14 g Fat, 6 g carbs [1 g sugar], 6 g protein)
4 medjool dates

1 pear chopped (100 calories: 26 g carbs [16 g sugar])
1/2 cup pecans (377 calories: 39 g fat, 7 g carbs [2 g sugar], 5 g protein)
2 tbsp Agave nectar (120 calories: 16 g carbs [15 g sugar]) the less you can use, the better.

Total for entire recipe: 757 calories (53 g fat, 61 g carbs [34 g sugar], 11 g protein.

Now, of course you have to divide that into more manageable portions :)

Two would be pretty large sized and 378 calories each. Three portions would be more ideal...only 252 calories and a lot of flavor. Notice that this isn't low fat, but you have to have some...and this source is nuts so that is a better fat than others.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


After my abnormal, horrific, panic-filled, epic KS 70.3 swim (24 minutes slower than my goal time and much time spent hanging on to boats in the choppy / 35-39 male infested waters)...I really want to redeem myself and get that swim PR at Boulder 70.3.

So tonight I had one of the best swims maybe ever! Over the last few months, Kathy Boyd helped me with my high elbow/body roll, arm position, and hand entry. I had to figure out what to tackle next!

Over the weekend I was checking out and got ideas to try some new things with my catch and pull. It immediately felt different and like I was pushing more water than ever before. It felt as though I was moving through the water more efficiently and faster. It immediately took seconds off my 50/100 times without expending any more effort than usual. Towards the end I got a bit tired, but still felt decent.

I will continue to work on this...I've really grown to love swimming over the last couple of years but I really want to make a breakthrough and get faster now.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

We all start somewhere...

There was a day when I had not run more than 1 mile in my life. Everyone starts somewhere right? Where will the journey take you?

News from my dad:

"You know that great picture of Amy finishing the Ironman Louisville last year? She had her arms up and was smiling. I put up my arms and smiled too this morning when I finished my nonstop 2 mile / 25 minute run. Everyone in the gym was wondering "what the h*ll is that guy doing?" It wasn't an Ironman (26.2 miles running/2.4 miles swimming/112 miles biking) but I felt great about finishing it anyway. A 12:30 pace. From now on I will run for 25 minutes or more. I will work on improving my pace time and distance in each workout."


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Live, Laugh, Learn

Right after KS 70.3, all I could think was that this day happened for a reason and I'd learn whatever I need to from it.

Here are my random musings about being bummed out during my race and for 30 minutes afterwards:

I'd find things to laugh about. Like the pre-swim chat the announcer was having with our swim wave as we waited to go in the water. He said he had made a mistake announcing that there were no coed heats...ours was the only coed swim heat of the day so maybe we could make some dating matches. The only thing was....we 35-39 women were paired with the 18-24 men. I called out, yeah we could date these guys...if we're Cougars! We could have been the Cougar swim heat. Then the announcer said to each wave when the gun went off...see you back here soon! Me, not so much!!!

A bad race can make a good story.

I think about the girl on the run course with the really huge smile on her face. After we finished and were picking up our equipment, I told her that I really appreciated her smile when I wasn't feeling good, and asked her what she was thinking about. Pizza, she answered. Awesome.

Thought about the awesome volunteers from KC Multisport and everyone cheering. They made a lot of effort to be out there. The volunteers were there before 5 AM.

Another club that made a great impression was Columbia (MO) Multisport...they had a camping site and were out in full fun force cheering on their members. And they cheered for me too...which I really appreciated. They were really cool. I think we should do a club mixer with them!

I wondered if this Half Ironman was actually harder than my Ironman, and couldn't decide. Okay probably not :).

Thought about all the really serious issues in the world, which this one was not. Perspective please.

If I had quit, I would not have FINALLY received my finisher medal from Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington. That alone was worth any bad day. If you quit, you could also miss out on something amazing.

Mind over matter is a very very interesting exercise. It's weird.

The bad days make you appreciate the good ones a lot more.

It's not good to sell yourself short. You have to believe in yourself and do your best (whatever that is) any given day and let the chips fall.

You can't be too hard on yourself or think one bad performance totally defines you as a person. It doesn't. Life goes on and you figure out how to go from there.

I need to figure out what my goals are and should be for the rest of this year and next year.

I need to figure out a strategy for better dealing with power swimmers pummeling me.

Need to have some FUN, and I think that means some group training and trying new things. Also, some new scenery which I will have for my last two triathlons of this year.

Be happy for your friends and celebrate their success! If you are feeling down, it will make you feel better. How would you feel if a bummed out friend didn't feel happy for you?

It's also funny, because in this experience a few friends shared some of their heinous race experiences...and I have to say mine is not as bad!!! There were PLENTY of bad things that didn't happen to me. No flat tires, no bike wreck, no vomiting in the water, no major equipment malfunctions. Maybe I feel more lucky after all.


Winners never quit, and quitters never win

Kansas 70.3 ~ Swim 1.2 Miles; Bike 56 Miles; Run 13.1 Miles

2008 was the inaugural year for KS 70.3 and the race was cancelled during the run due to lightening. I had two miles left to go, so my total time didn't reflect the complete distance. I was hurting that day, and can only project that my final time would have been approaching 7 hours.

I learned a lot about what it took to prepare for the event (I wasn't) and came back to give it another go in 2009 where I took a bit under 3 minutes off of my swim, 5 minutes off the bike time, and maybe 20 minutes off of the run. Finish time was 6:37:05, after adding more time for transition was ~23 minutes better than 2008.

2010 was a great season. I completed the Kansas course in 6:10:38, 27 minutes faster than 2009. Every segment except transition #1 was a personal best. I took 2 minutes off the swim, almost 16 minutes off my bike time, and over 7 minutes off of my run. I appreciate that day more now.

Now 2011...possibly the worst race ever in my 11 years of triathlon. Okay, that might be pushing it..."one of the worst". Top 3 worst? Whatever it was, it was not good.

This was my fourth time at Ironman Kansas 70.3. That could be the first clue that there is something wrong. After completing Ironman Louisville (Swim 2.4 miles, Bike 112, Run 26.2) last fall, I probably should NOT have signed up for this race. Most of my Ironman friends (or maybe 90%) were re-charging this year and doing other things. I needed to mix things up a little bit and take a break, but I didn't. Instead, I decided to try to break 6 hours for the half Ironman! That would be a lot of hard work. I've been doing triathlons since 2000 and put a lot of pressure on myself to improve race after race, year after year.

Did I mention that the half Ironman costs $225? So I went through the motions of training thinking that I was still going for this goal. But my heart wasn't really in it. A week before the race I had a burnout meltdown and decided to try to focus on trying to have as much fun as possible and on general fitness. And that I'd still do the race.

So off to Clinton Lake I went on Sunday June 14. My pre-race plan went flawlessly and smoothly. I put on my wetsuit and talked to other racers. The water didn't look that choppy.

Getting into the water was quite the rude awakening. It is hard to say if it was worse than the Kansas City Tri the last two years...the swells were quite large. Swimming out the long rectangle buoy course, the waves were coming at us from the left (east). Up and down - if you get seasick it wasn't a pretty picture (yes, people vomit in the water). I could deal with that, but when the wave of muscular 35-39 year old males came up behind us churning and powering through the water I totally panicked. I have recovered from panic before, but getting bumped, kicked, grabbed, and mauled was too much at the time. I felt claustrophobic and started hyperventilating. So for the first time ever, I grabbed the nearest boat and seriously pondered quitting. I had a LONG way to go still and it wasn't seeming super fun. It seemed kind of dangerous actually.

The people on the boat gave me a pep talk and I closed my eyes, calmed down, and stopped hyperventilating. I thought surely I could find a way to finish this. So off I went.

This time, I'm swimming further to the outside so I have my own water. I feel relieved and finally turn the corner to get halfway. But then the waves were coming right at us, which is much worse than if they are from the side. They were literally smacking me in the face hard when I turned to breathe. That was just insulting! Another wave of 35-39 power males were coming through and I panicked again. I tried to make it to the nearest boat but they were going away from me helping someone else. So I just tried to tread water and/or breast stroke and figure out how I was going to calm down again. Then the other boat came over and I could hang on there to do that. I looked at my watch...halfway through it was 30 minutes and my goal time was 40 minutes or less. Sigh. What did my time matter at this point...the swim PR wasn't going to happen.

So my next goal was, I could get through this swim and then decide if I wanted to stop. So I started swimming again. I could see the buoys to my left and thought, awesome. The only problem was, they were the wrong buoys. The waves had pushed me across the entire course back to the first buoy line. A gal in a kayak let me know I should go back to the other buoys. Sigh.

I made it to the finish...over an hour in the water. 22 minutes slower than my goal. I didn't run through transition like I normally would. I tried thinking that maybe I could still *kind of* salvage this. Or maybe it could be like a training day and I could just try to enjoy myself as much as possible. So off I went on my bike.

The bike was probably my best segment of the day. Sure I was 13 minutes slower than my best time but that was WITH stopping 3 times to stretch out my back because the seat I had been trying out (and should have taken back off!!!!!) was KILLING my lower back. It ached bad. I relaxed at times and was cruising back into transition thinking...well I don't HAVE to do the run. I can still quit if I want to.

I knew that as soon as I got off the bike, my back would be fine. I still could relax and just not worry about my pace. So off I went. The first lap I did a training pace and actually felt decent.

Then the second lap started. By that time, all the earlier heats with fast people were finished and it looked like EVERYONE was leaving. And "EVERYONE" was wearing their medals because they were finished already. That was annoying, and kind of depressing. I should have been finished by now.

I had already come that far though, why not just finish? Crossing the finish line would still be fun. That is always a good feeling. So on I plodded.

I walked quite a bit on the run and threw myself a pity party. Reminded myself to buck up (get some perspective for gosh sake...there are people out there doing this race with serious physical disabilities, what about my friends that would love to be out there and cannot be because of injuries, etc) and would have moments of clarity and get moving. I mean really, let's put this into perspective. Life will go on, this is not a major problem, and my time for that event would not define me as a person. So maybe it's kind of a hitting rock bottom kind of day (relatively speaking) what. I'd still get a big medal and I didn't waste my $225.

During the second lap, I saw Ben Schloegel at his campsite and told him I was having a bad day. He walked with me and gave me a pep talk, asking me if I was giving the best I had in that moment...I answered no. But I could still do that for the rest of the race. He gave me a slap on the tush and off I went. I thought...did that just happen? and ran the rest of the way. Funny.

I sprinted down the finish line and tried to look okay for my finisher photo. Then I looked up and saw who was going to put the finisher medal around my neck. It was Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington. I started crying again. The past two years...I missed her at the finish line because of bad timing. She signed my poster in 2010 "See you at the finish line" when I told her that I missed her in 2009. But then I missed her again. Not this year...after all of that she was there!!!! Hours after her finish, she was there to give finishers their medals. She could have been back at her hotel chilling. But she was there for us. I was blabbering something like "It's you, you are really here!!!" and gave her a hug. She is the coolest, nicest, most excellent Champion.

Thank God that my friend Kristen was right by the finish line. She helped me just by being there, and also distracted me that I could feel happy for her and her super awesome finish. She had a very short time to make a big life and economic decision about whether to claim her championship spot. It would be a further huge time commitment, and expensive to travel across the country to do it. And then thanks to Lindsey...she helped me brush it off.

I need to re-evaluate how to have some fun and mix things up...11 years of racing is a long time.

It's all good. More about what I learned later...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

2011 Kansas City Triathlon

2011 race #2 is complete ~ Olympic distance Swim 1500, Bike 24.6 miles, Run 6.2 miles. Woke up at 4 AM after sleeping through the tornado warning last night. The race was at Longview Lake, which is a great venue although sorry to say the roads are in pretty bad shape. They look and feel due for a redo, and might impact a future race at some point.

I think the conditions were pretty similar to last year...the water was pretty choppy with 15+ mph winds. 360 Olympic distance finishers ~ 78 women and 282 men.

Swim 1500 meters: 36:29 (-3:41) For me it went a lot better than last year although we had to fight our way back to the shore through the 'waves' again. I had one choking episode after swallowing water but managed to recover. To get my composure back, I had to sidestroke a couple of times to calm down. For most of the race I had my own water except this girl and I couldn't seem to get away from each other heading back into shore. I think the waves were pushing me off course too ;) This split meant a lot to me because it was last year *after* this race that I hired my coach Kathy Boyd, and I was hoping that everything she taught me would pay off in my swim splits. I wanted this PR a lot.

T1: 2:39 (-0:26) Spent a little too much time recovering from being freaked out by the swim and not enough time hustling! It's always fun and "interesting" trying to take off that wetsuit.

Bike 24.6 miles: 1:20:17 (-0:59) Can't really argue with a faster split than 2010 BUT...okay I'm hard on myself. Still working on getting the power back after spending all winter and spring on the marathon. Just have to put in the work! Love that south tailwind heading back to transition. There were a couple of moments of scary crosswind action, and I realized that I'm really bad at cornering. Note to self, do not take that rocky turn back into the park too fast. Scary! My life flashed before my eyes.

T2: 1:11 (-0:18) Put on the shoes, grab the stuff and go. Put on the hat and race belt on the run. Feeling decent.

Run 6.2 miles: 58:57 (+2:27) First lap was okay but then I had to do another. Ugh. Was not feeling the running love today as you can see from my slower split. They changed the run course from pavement to that soft packed surface like the Trolley Trail and it was still really wet from all the rain.

So that's it...I feel happy about a personal best, but I wasn't tough enough on the run. I have been having some really good run workouts, so it was kind of not a fun surprise :)

Lots of friends got personal bests today...a great day!

Monday, April 25, 2011


Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break. ~ William Shakespeare

Tom and I met because I had a bike wreck in the 1999 Corporate Challenge duathlon, and one of his BFF's sent me a get well card. Thus our paths crossed.

Saturday night I happened to see his post on Facebook that he was really looking forward to his vacation in June. He bantered with friends and I thought how fun ~ not too much longer until that vacation...I hope he has a great time. Looking back now, I couldn't help but wonder if that particular post made an impression and stood out for some reason.

Today I learned that Tom passed away Easter morning in his sleep. He was only about 3 years older than me. It's a shock. There is a disconnect...'but I was just reading about his vacation and what he was up to. How can this be?'.

I didn't know him like a best friend, but I know that he was a very nice, friendly, decent, intelligent, and interesting human being. Wish that I knew him better. I feel really sad for his close friends and family. It's just flat out sad.

Life is so unpredictable. And sometimes fragile. It just reminds me to appreciate every day, every little thing, and the people that I love. Can't hold back on that.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Don't Supersize Me

There are 610 calories, 29g fat, and 77 g carbs in a McDonalds Super Size french fry "serving". Add a Super Size soda (42 oz 410 calories) and say a Big Mac (540 calories) and that totals 1,560 calories. That is approaching or equal to a WHOLE day's worth of calories in just one meal.

Making healthy habits a way of life: we have smart phone apps (I use Calorie Counter on Android) and websites that make it easier than ever to get calorie/nutrition information and to keep a food diary. Until you develop a new "normal" and develop knowledge about portion sizes and healthy options, keeping a food diary can be very eye opening to see how quickly things can add up - calories, sodium, carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

From my dad...Supersizing and the 'thrifty gene':

"That distinction [of inventing supersizing] belongs to a man named David Wallerstein. Until his death in 1993, Wallerstein served on the board of directors at McDonald's but in the fifties and sixties he worked for a chain of movie theaters in Texas where he labored to expand sales of soda and popcorn - the high-markup items that theaters depend on for their profitability. As the story is told in John Love's official history of McDonald's, Wallerstein tried everything he could think of to goose up sales - two-for-one deals, matinee specials - but found he simply could not induce customers to buy more than one soda and one bag of popcorn. He thought he knew why: Going for seconds makes people feel piggish.

"Wallerstein discovered that people would spring for more popcorn and soda - a lot more - as long as it came in a single gigantic serving. Thus was born the two-quart bucket of popcorn, the sixty-four-ounce Big Gulp, and in time the Big Mac and the jumbo fries, though Ray Kroc himself took some convincing. In 1968, Wallerstein went to work for McDonald's, but try as he might he couldn't convince Kroc, the company's founder, of supersizing's magic powers.

" 'If people want more fries' Kroc told him 'they can buy two bags.' Wallerstein patiently explained that McDonald's customers did want more but were reluctant to buy a second bag. 'They don't want to look like gluttons.'

"Kroc remained skeptical, so Wallerstein went looking for proof. He began staking out McDonald's outlets in and around Chicago observing how people ate. He saw customers noisily draining their sodas and digging infinitesimal bits of salt and burnt spud out of their little bags of French fries. After Wallerstein presented his findings, Kroc relented and approved supersized portions and the dramatic spike in sales confirmed the marketer's hunch. Deep cultural taboos against gluttony - one of the seven deadly sins, after all - had been holding us back. Wallerstein's dubious achievement was to devise the dietary equivalent of a papal dispensation: Supersize it! He had discovered the secret to expanding the (supposedly) fixed human stomach.

"One might think that people would stop eating and drinking these gargantuan portions as soon as they felt full, but it turns out hunger doesn't work that way. Researchers have found that people (and animals) presented with large portions will eat up to 30 percent more than they would otherwise. Human appetite it turns out is surprisingly elastic which makes excellent evolutionary sense: It behooved our hunter-gatherer ancestors to feast whenever the opportunity presented itself allowing them to build up reserves of fat against future famine. Obesity researchers call this trait the 'thrifty gene.' And while the gene represents a useful adaptation in an environment of food scarcity and unpredictability, it's a disaster in an environment of fast-food abundance when the opportunity to feast presents itself 24/7. Our bodies are storing reserves of fat against a famine that never comes."

Author: Michael Pollan
Title: The Omnivore's Dimemma
Publisher: Penguin
Date: Copyright 2006 by Michael Pollan
Pages: 105-106

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Feeling Little Rock's Vibe

2011 marked another year where I did something I said that I wouldn't do: a marathon. In 2010 it was Ironman...said I'd NEVER do an Ironman, which is swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, followed by a MARATHON. On November 14, 2010 I signed up for my first solo (non-Ironman) marathon in Little Rock. I wanted a goal to carry me through the winter, wanted to see what doing a marathon would be like after NOT biking 112 miles, and needed an Arkansas destination in my quest to visit all 50 states.

It was a wise decision, though a little challenging getting through winter's snow and ice. Leawood and Olathe's trail-clearing prowess saved me numerous times. The idea of spending any time (let alone over an hour) on a treadmill is MOST unappealing. I went to a few a la carte Runner's Edge sessions and scored big on the random inquiries "so what race are you training for?"...I found a big KC group going down there for the race (including some that I knew and people that I didn't know). It turned out to be a lot of fun! That plus my aunt Kristen going down there with me...which was helpful too. I swung through Springfield to pick her up and off we went.

We rolled into Little Rock and I thought it was so cute! I was feeling Little Rock's vibe. The metro area has around 900,000 people. Aunt Kristen and I went to packet pickup and then drove over to see the State Capitol building, and then to the national historic site/museum Little Rock Central High School. This was the site of the nation's first school integration after Brown vs Board of Education struck down "Separate but (not) equal".

The visit to Little Rock Central High School was deeply moving. The museum is excellent and includes photos and video, as well as context of our culture and the Civil Rights Movement at the time. The video kiosks overlook the actual school (which is still operating) and it was surreal to see the present day site compared to the video of the mobs and military on that site where history took place in 1957. Nine black students attempted entry to the school several times unsuccessfully before President Eisenhower intervened. The mobs & threats they faced were beyond is hard to imagine how these 15/16 year olds faced it with the grace and convictions that they did. They just wanted a better future, and thank God they believed that they deserved to have a better opportunity. They changed history. I thought about them during the "suffering" and "perseverance" tend to be themes for me during marathons. And perspective. To see more about the Little Rock 9 and the adults they became, see

So pre-race night comes and the KC running crew hit downtown Little Rock and we ate at the Dizzy Gypsy, which was a really unique cool place. Our meal of choice, pasta of course. We got back pretty early and I went over my race instructions and gear. I was ready to go!

Race morning was overcast and about 32 degrees...I chose 'less' rather than more and went with capri tights and a short sleeve with a long sleeve layered over that. No hat and no gloves. By the end of the race it became sunny and was mid-40s. PERFECT conditions for a marathon!!!!

My main goal was sub 5 hours and to NOT LET THE RACE BREAK ME. I executed my training plan, which included everything up to 22 miles (one 20 miler, one 22 miler). So now it was going to be a mental battle, and I didn't want to "break" mentally (which can mean give up / not try / etc). The Ironman marathon did break me a bit...I recovered but it wasn't pretty and I didn't execute the run like I really wanted to.

I ran with Renea and Angela from KC and we start out conservatively and had fun chatting. The first 13.1 to 14 miles are "easy"...I felt strong and really great. I tell myself how great I feel and enjoy that positive feeling while it lasts. The first part is fun...the scenery, the crowds, the experience. It's all good. A random weird fact...I didn't stop for a "pitstop" the whole time. I was well hydrated and drank at every station, but kept telling myself that my body was going to absorb it and sweat it out at the perfect rate. I didn't want to stop and jeapardize my goal time!

We run through many historical areas in town, by the capitol, high school, and Governor's mansion. The Governor is out to greet us. Lots of fun bands playing along the way.

After 14 miles, a little fatigue sets in. Miles 14-15 are a big hill that just goes on and on. Which for me is fine because I'm a hill runner. Bring it! Actually running back down the steep downhill after that was more difficult because of the angles on my muscles.

After that from 17 on it is mostly flat with an out and back where you can finally see a lot of the other runners. Now even more fatigue is setting in. It's sunny and warmer now. And around mile 18, the "wall" comes or "pain cave" where it is fatigue with way more discomfort. My legs feel a little stiff...lactic acid buildup? Not so much fun anymore. But I achieved exactly what I wanted to...I didn't give up and I hung in there. I wasn't quite as fast, but my pace didn't fall off the cliff either and I was investing the effort and fully engaged.

Getting to mile 22 lifts the spirit a bit because then you are counting down...but it is major fatigue time. The whole race I had been doing an 8 minute run/1 minute walk ratio but had to keep going the last 3 miles...I just couldn't stop anymore. It hurt too much.

There was one more hill and then the lipstick station. I grabbed a lip gloss but kept going and was SO ready to be finished. Overall I was really happy with my race. After I crossed the finish line, I'm just in a massive hurt locker...I can barely walk and feel exhausted and stiff. Not fun!

Overall, worth it though for the learning & character building experience. And I met my goals! That's why I do it...and for fitness of course. There are other fun aspects the people. I had a great time with the KC crew. Little Rock is a great race...highly recommend. The marathon finisher medal is enormous!

Marathon 1,811 finishers & half marathon 2,921 finishers