Interested in hearing what goes on in the mind of a life coach/aerobics instructor? While it can be a bizarre place, it's always entertaining...mostly at my expense. Witness my struggle/dance/frustration/celebration with change as I stray out of my comfort zone and encounter other brave and interesting souls along the way.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Odyssey--And Then What?

I have a few odd training runs left totaling 27 miles before the big day and distance of 26.2. My brother is nursing a strained calf muscle and has had to take it easy the last couple of weeks. I feel fortunate that I haven't sustained a major injury during the countless miles, each step a potential sprained ankle or pulled muscle.

And once I have completed this journey, what then? Do I keep on running? What for?

What happens to your life when the goal is finally reached?

I suspect for me, it will be time for a huge pat on the back and acknowledgement of a job well done. And then? More running, perhaps. Another marathon? I doubt it. Maybe the occasional 5K now and then.

Beyond the physical aspect, I think the most valuable part is knowing that I can accomplish something that I once considered impossible; that I can muster up the self-discipline to stick with a goal and see it through, no matter how painful. This must be applied to my day-to-day life. That will be my crowning glory.

Studies Show...Leafy Greens & Bone Mass

A helping of fiber and antioxidant-rich leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and other green vegetables, may do more than help maintian a healthy weight and reduce cancer risk. A study conducted at Tufts University found that women who ate sufficient amounts of vitamin K, which is found in leafy greens, had higher bone mass at the hip and spine than those who consumed less than recommended levels. Researchers speculate that osteocalcin, a protein that promotes bone formulation, requires vitamin K to function.

Monday, November 29, 2004

The Odyssey--Cold Feet

The temperatures here in Southern California dropped overnight into the high 20s. That is a far cry from the Hawaiian norm of nights in the 70s. This cannot be good for my training. I will be ready to run a marathon in Alaska at this point, not Honolulu.

I started my forced acclimation program today of sitting in the steam sauna for an extended period of time. It was pointed out to me that I should be running in the sauna to really do it right. I'll leave that for the over-achievers.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

LA Story--Sighting in the Real OC

I spotted this license plate on a black Mercedes the other night in Newport Beach: BARBI.

How perfect.

The Odyssey--Fear

While sitting in the dry sauna this morning, trying to loosen up my tight muscles, I realized that the marathon is only weeks away. It is then that a felt a quick stab of fear, my first. Will this be an incredibly painful, traumatic event? What if the heat turns me into a whimpering ball of goo? I recalled the time I nearly passed out after sitting in a steam sauna box (the kind where your head sticks out at the top) for a mere two minutes. I suspect I don't do well in humidity.

Am I, after all these months and miles of training, getting a case of nerves? Yep.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Studies Show...Fruits & Vegetables & Your Personality

Do you lean more towards bananas or cucumbers? Apples or artichokes? A new study published in the Journal of American Dietetic Association found that people who prefer fruits often like different types of food altogether and may have different socal habits than those who prefer vegetables. A study of over 700 people in Chicago found that those who preferred vegetables tended to be more adventurous in their tastes, enjoyed spicier foods and more tannic red wines. They might also eat fewer desserts and enterain more guests.

Researchers believe that these finding may help nutritionists determine the best diet for each individual according to tastes and thus ensure greater success in limiting calories overall if they need to go on a diet.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Odyssey--A Juicy Reward

I picked the Honolulu marathon because, frankly, if I'm going to run that far I wanted it to be somewhere warm and beautiful, with great beaches and even better food. My family all quickly jumped on board and they are using this marathon as an excuse for a winter vacation. Alas, my eldest brother, Andy, and his wife, Rita, who live on the east coast can't make the trip because it is too close to the holidays but we will think of them when we hit our favorite local saimin houses and Leonard's for malasadas. My other brother, Paul, decided to train for the marathon as well, despite the fact that he has a 4-year-old and a 4-month-old to entertain.

Above and beyond the personal satisfaction I will get out of completing this mystical distance, my mother has offered to take my brother and me out to dinner at an incredibly nice restaurant if we finish all 26.2 miles. The restaurant is Orchids at the Halekulani Hotel. I have been dreaming of eating there for years.

This alone, will sustain me at around mile 22 when my legs feel like bricks heading around Diamondhead. This has kept me from calling it quits. You can see the way to my heart, right?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Odyssey--It's All Relative

Today was my first day of exercise since the marathon, um I mean, 24 miler on Sunday. Let me tell you, after running for nearly 4 hours, anything else, by comparison, is INCREDIBLY EASY.

I really tormented my one-hour cycling class participants tonight. They were dying and I felt great! Haha, what an awesome feeling.

The question is, how long will this high last? 2 more days? A week, tops?

Ah well, I'll enjoy it while I can and my class participants will surely get their money's worth.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Studies Show...Mineral Water & Cholesterol

Do you like your water with or without bubbles?

A recent study in Spain found that women who drank 1 liter of carbonated mineral water per day lowered their cholesterol by 7% and their LDLs, or bad cholesterol, by 15% in 2 months. Their good cholesterol (HDLs) increased by 8%.

Researchers think that the minerals and carbonation may help your body metabolize cholesterol.

In Spain, when you order water in a restaurant, they almost always ask, "Sin or con gas?" (With or without carbonation.) Now, sound like a great reason to reply, "Con gas, por favor."

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Odyssey--24

Can I just say that all that pasta and those Irish potatoes that I ate yesterday really paid off? And boy, I made fun of those goo packets several months ago, but I was so happy to slurp that stuff down 1, 2, and 3 hours into the run.

The first 3 miles were by far the worst. I started at the local high school track. It was early. It was cold (38F) and it was windy. 2 miles into it I couldn't help but think, "This stinks and I've got 22 miles left to go!" Let me tell you, negative thoughts do NOTHING to boost your energy.

But gradually my body warmed up and by mile 4 I was cruising at a 9-minute mile pace.

I moved on to cover 18 miles of road, admiring the blankets of fall leaves that finally succumbed to the previous night's storm and now littered the trails and sidewalks. Every once in a while I would think something like, "OK, I've covered 9 miles and still have 15 left? There's no way I'm going to make it." That's when I would fire up the mp3 player and use music to distract me into returning to a more peaceful frame of mind.

For the final 1.5 miles, I ended up at the track once more and found that I was still strong enough to maintain my 9-minute mile pace! Amazing since the time I ran 22 miles, I was staggering along at about a 10.5-minute mile pace at the end.

24 miles in just over 3 hours and 47 minutes.

Today I am eating anything I want.

The Odyssey--Dress Rehearsal

Today is my final dress rehearsal for the Honolulu Marathon. To that end, I am trying to duplicate my strategy for race day as much as possible. Too bad I woke up this morning and discovered that a small storm hit unexpectedly during the night. Rain is welcome as it rains most days during the winter in Hawaii, but the temperatures plummeted to the mid-30s and I can see snow in the nearby mountains and foothills--something I'm not likely to encounter on Oahu. This means slipping on a few extra layers today.

But I am ready to rumble! I've got my geeky runners pack fully stocked, complete with water bottle and goo bottle, filled with 4 packets of tropical fruit flavored liquid carbs. I've got my mp3 player and a somewhat optimistic attitude.

Time to hit the road!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Odyssey--Carbo Loading

Tomorrow is my last big run before the marathon which is just 3 weeks away. Because my last long run of 22 miles was a bit of a disaster, I am taking no chances as far as food is concerned. The night before the 22-miler I made the mistake of eating mostly protien and few carbs because that's what we had in the house. I paid a horrible price the next day when I "hit the wall" and had to struggle both mentally and physically through the final 6 miles.

This time, I'm determined to be prepared. This means...carbo loading! Hence a generous lunch of beef ravioli followed by a dinner at an Irish pub. How many carbohydrates can you find at an Irish pub, you ask? How about Irish soda bread, brown bread, mashed potatoes, french fries, boiled potatoes, and even french fried sweet potatoes. I almost ordered a baked potato on the side but realized that might be overkill.

Tomorrow I am destined to run 24 miles. May the running gods smile down on me.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

It's Just Aerobics

I hit the track at 6am this morning and ran 9 miles and then subbed a step interval class and a spinning class in the afternoon. Ooooh, I am feeling my age.

My legs felt like cement pillars during the step class, but I did my best to portray myself as an energetic individual whose sole purpose in life is to dazzle and inspire others to stay in shape.

One woman, who frowned the entire class (and that's OK), came up to me at the end and said, "You're so energetic." She did not say this in a complimentary way. She said it as though she found this extremely annoying. She said it as though she thought I was energetic just so that I could make her feel worse about how unenergetic she felt. She said it as though I had boundless energy and that I had never felt a twinge of muscle tightness in my life.

This was painful to hear. Much like when another woman once said to me that I was "just too happy."

Of course you can't tell them that you're exhausted, that your legs feel like lead, and that if you weren't obligated to teach, there was no way you'd have set foot in a gym.

And so I did my best to tell her that the members in class inspire me and give me energy, that I couldn't do it without her. She seemed to accept this with some satisfaction as she turned away and left me with one more class to teach.

FYI to you aerobics enthusiasts: we, the instructors, are generally not there to compete with you or make you feel bad by comparison. It's just aerobics and we are all just getting together to jump around in a group and take some of the sting out of exercise by socializing and having fun.

How happy do I sound now? Boy, I feel like the anti-aerobics instructor.

Must be time for bed!

The Odyssey--Piece of Cake

I'm at the point in my training where running 9 or 11 miles is easy.

I find that fact very bizarre.

I often flash back to a time during my high school track and field workouts where I would argue with the coach about having to run 3 miles. I was a sprinter and long jumper, not a long distance runner, I argued. 3 miles seemed ridiculous.

And now 11 miles is a piece of cake.

Still, I am acutely aware that 11 miles is not 26.2 miles. Not even close.

Isn't it amazing how in high school, everything seems so difficult or unfair. And then you travel forward 10, 20 or 30 years and you shake your head and think about how good you had it. It goes to show you that it's all relative.

Studies Show...Homo Sapiens & Running

OK, so this isn't so much a study as a new theory that was just released. Researchers at Harvard University and the University of Utah recently presented their findings that the ability to run long distances was the driving force shaping the modern human anatomy. They concluded that more than brain-size or tool-making ability, the human species was set apart from its ancestors by the ability to jog mile after mile with greated endurance than any other primate. Basically, they're saying that humans were born to run. And not just run, but to run long distances, like marathons.

Haha. After reading this, I don't feel quite as insane, what with all the marathon training I've been doing (see The Odyssey).

Note that this theory is quite controversial. Experts in biomechanics, human origins, and comparative anatomy aren't ready to simply accept it without much debate.

(source: Los Angeles Times, November 18, 2004)

Monday, November 15, 2004

Studies Show...Lifestyle & Insomnia

Have trouble getting the right amount of sleep? Experts at the Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders and Reseach Center tracked the behaviors of individuals to discover which habits promoted better sleep. The findings? Insomniacs were twice as likely to smoke or drink alcohol before bedtime and tended to drink more often. They also typically slept in longer on the weekends than weekdays.

Their advice?

*Avoid exercise within 2 hours and eating within 2-3 hours before bedtime.

*Try to go to bed and get up at the same time everyday.

*Use your bedroom only for sleeping. If you're awake for more than 30 minutes, get up and do something somewhere else.

*Turn the alarm clock towards the wall so you're not tempted to peek at the time during the night.

Sweet dreams.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Odyssey--License to Chow

I forgot the mention that when I purchased my geeky runner's belt at the running store yesterday, the salesman and I got to chatting about...running. Turns out he's a marathon veteren and has coached high school and college track and cross country teams for 12 years. So I asked him for advice on what to eat before a marathon because everybody I ask has a different opinion. He said and I quote, "Basically eat as many carbs as you can the week prior to your race."

Haha! At last, in these Atkins-crazed times, permission to eat as many carbs as I want! Fortunately, Hawaiians know the value of carbs. Their traditional plate lunch ALWAYS comes with 2 scoops of rice and 1 scoop of macaroni salad on the side.

That man definitely made my day.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The Odyssey--Warriors, Come Out and Play

Each step in this whole marathon process seems like a rite of passage. In the beginning, I resist certain truths, like the need to carry water during long runs and the whole Gu thing. Eventually I cave in because I realize I am just being stubborn or, well, resistant. Or maybe I'm in denial about the fact that I am about to run a very, very, very long distance in the near future and that cannot be approached in a cavalier manner.

This leads me to today. I broke down and bought one of those fancy runner's belts made especally for covering long distances. It is equipped with an ergonomically shaped water bottle as well as a Gu bottle so that I don't have to fumble around with multiple little packets and the resulting trash that I don't want to discard or carry. When I put this thing on, I feel as though I am suiting up for something serious. Like a battle.

I am now an official running geek. Hey, it beats staggering around at mile 20 bonking my head off or suffering from severe dehydration. I mean, I'm stubborn, but I'm not stupid!

Studies Show...Optimism & Longevity

Seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty may pay off in terms of a longer, healthier life, according to new research.

The study shows that older people who described themselves as highly optimistic have a lower risk of heart disease or death from any cause over nearly 10 years compared with people who are very pessimistic.

Researchers say depression has long been known to increase the risk of death due to heart disease, but less is known about the effects of an optimistic attitude.

The results of the study appear in the November issue of the "Archives of General Psychiatry."

Researchers say there are several factors that may explain the link between optimism and longer life. For example:

* Optimism is associated with more physical activity, moderate alcohol use in women, and less smoking.
* Optimism is associated with better health in general. People in poor health tend to report more pessimism.
* Optimists may cope with stress differently and more effectively than pessimists do.

(Source: WebMD.com)

Sunday, November 07, 2004

The Odyssey-The 100-Mile Club

I've been thinking more about the fact that I have run more than 300 miles in about 3 months. This astonishes me and I'll tell you why.

When I attended Suzanne Intermediate school back in the late 1970s, the Physical Education department had a thing called the 100-Mile Club. This meant that, once a week, the PE teachers put out cones on the playground which outlined a quarter-mile distance and set us loose to run laps while they, no doubt, enjoyed an easy day of zero instruction and much gossip. All they had to do was hand each of us an old poker chip for every lap we completed. At the end of the period, the chips were collected and our laps were noted and put into the "system" which I'm sure involved a legal pad, pencil, and eraser. We had 2 years to reach the illusive century distance.

I never made it.

I think it ended up with something like 86 miles. I still have my 75-mile t-shirt, but never came close to getting the sweatshirt that said, "100-Mile Club: I Made It!" I think my t-shirt says something like, "So close and yet so far." Nah. That's too cruel. More likely it says, "I'm Almost There." For an over-achieving, straight-A student, never being able to say, "I made it!" was quite a crushing blow.

2 years to run 100 miles. Didn't really come close.

And now, more than 20 years later, to run an average of 100 miles a month for 3 months straight...it boggles the mind.

They still run laps every week at the Jr. High. And damned if I didn't see a kid running around the neighborhood the other day with the coveted 100-Mile sweatshirt in exactly the same design that I remember. Must be a retro thing. Great, now I'm so old that fashions from my glory days are retro chic!

Friday, November 05, 2004

The Odyssey--The Incredible Marathon Diet

I remember when I first decided to train for a half marathon back in 2002. At that point in my life, I think the farthest I had ever run was about 6 miles, so 13.2 was an incredibly daunting distance.

I had gone to Lake Tahoe for a management retreat and was changing for the evening in my hotel room. Because it was October and Indian Summer in the Bay Area, I hadn't worn my jeans in a few months. However, that night the cold mountain air made long pants and a jacket a necessity. Here's the thing...I could BARELY squeeze into those jeans. And these were pants that used to be comfortably loose on me. At that very moment, I felt driven to run a race in January that friends were already training for.

Flash forward to the present day and my quest to run an entire marathon next month. I have trained for 3 months and I weighed myself the other day. After running roughly 309 miles (yes, I am keeping track), I have lost a total of...wait for it...one pound. One measley pound! I think I will be lucky if I don't GAIN weight during this process.

Now I will admit that I feel great. I feel strong and I can't say that my pants don't fit. They just fit, um, differently.

Still, you'd think that 300 miles of pavement pounding would at least shake 5 or 6 pounds off the old body!

(Ugh, this is the first time I added up the mileage. 309! That's crazy!)

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Studies Show...Gardening & Strong Bones

Just what we all needed...another good reason to get out and rake the leaves. Researchers at the University of Arkansas studied the bone mineral densities and physical activity levels of more than 3,000 women and found that gardening was second only to weight training in boosting bones. “Yard work involves pushing a mower, digging holes, pulling weeds, and carrying soil, dirt, or gravel. These are all strenuous, weight-bearing activities that build bones,” says Lori Turner, lead author of the study. People were also more likely to stick with gardening as an activity vs. more traditional forms of exercise because they consider it a leisure activity with the added benefit of a beautiful yard. Hmmm, fight off osteoporosis and grow your own organic veggies at the same time!

Monday, November 01, 2004

The Odyssey--22 or Dr. Atkins Never Ran a Marathon

Again, this is simply a really, really looooong distance to run. I can't think of anything else I do for 3-1/2 hours consecutively that wouldn't drive me insane, except maybe cycling.

At this point in the game, I see the wisdom of these long runs purely as a form of dress rehearsal. I am learning each and every time the distance grows longer.

This time it was all about carbohydrates. How did carbs become such a dirty word? Now I don't know this for sure, but I feel very confident in saying that Dr. Atkins could not have been on his own diet and trained for a marathon at the same time!

It was a GORGEOUS fall day yesterday, and with the time change, I had gotten a ton of sleep the night before. I was cruising for the first 17 miles and actually feeling GOOD. And then...I hit the wall. Now mind you, I had been drinking plenty of water and had fueled up with a gel before the run and then 2 more during. But at mile 18, I was literally running on empty. There was simply no fuel left in my stomach.

The last 4 miles became a mental war between the nearly overwhelming urge to quit and the sheer stubbornness of will to finish the distance. At one point, with 3/4ths of a mile left to go, I had to talk myself into it by stopping for a long drink of water and then saying, OK, just 400 meters more and then I can give up, and then, just another 200 meters, and on and on until I had covered the entire distance.

What went wrong? I realized that I had eaten mostly protein for dinner the night before and just a bit of carbs. Please don't think I'm on a diet. (Frankly, the whole Atkins thing makes me nuts.) It's just how it worked out according to what food was in the house.

I have learned a great lesson from this experience. My brother and I will definitely carbo-load on December 11th. I am thankful that I didn't wait to find this out on the marathon day. Ouch! That wouldn't be pretty. Not to say that I am home free yet, but at least I can scratch one more thing off the list of uncertainties.

Studies Show...Cold Tempertures & Productivity

Now a good reason to justify turning up the heat! In a small study conducted by Cornell University researchers at a large insurance company, huge productivity increases occurred when the office temperature was increased from 68 to 77 degrees. Output jumped 150% while errors dropped by 44%. Head researcher, Alan Hedge, commented "When people start feeling chilly, they get distracted, their body and mental processes slow down, and as their hands get cold, they lose some dexterity."

Don't let the Cold Miser in your office argue with you about pennies saved as winter approaches.