Friday, October 23, 2015

Moving Forward

Hard to believe that racing season is over.  We've been having a freakishly warm fall and it feels like summer hasn't ended and I should be training for something.  I am still training with my coach, I like her workouts and I think I lost too much triathlon specific fitness when I was on my own during last year's off season.  But I've been uncharacteristically  tired, more fatigue than the workouts should be causing.  Heart Rate Variability numbers are holding steady at 'o.k. but not great'.  The prime suspect is that I've stopped taking the birth control pills I was taking for endometriosis and aside from having to adjust to that, the pills were controlling some of my other less fun middle aged lady symptoms that I know no one wants to hear about so we'll leave it at that.  I see the doctor in another couple of weeks.  I'm timing giving up the pills with the appointment so that if I get really sick again like I did last time I tried to stop them then she can see the symptoms and hopefully help.  So far things are mostly going reasonably well but last time it took me until week 4 to get sick and I'm only finishing up week 3.

Some fall color up at Caribou Ranch west of Boulder

I've been trying to work out a long term goal so that I have some motivation to keep up with the off seadon training and so far the best I can come up with is the 2017 ITU Off-Road World Championships in Penticton which is in British Columbia in Canada.  It's not as big a deal as going to Xterra Worlds in Maui but BC appeals to me a lot more than Hawaii and I could drive, take the dogs and Jonny, and it wouldn't cost nearly as much.  Except for all the zillions of fees that USAT charges and I'd have to go with the USAT team.  That part I don't like.  Also the race is 2 years away.  Next year it's in Australia which is waaay too far.  And probably the same problem of icky sticky hot like Maui, let's not even get into the $$$.  On the one hand it gives me 2 years to prepare.  On the other hand it gives me 2 years to get older.  It's on my radar anyway.  And of course there's always the goal of Maui if I could get the money and desire together. 

More Caribou Ranch

I had a few experiments this summer.  Continued on with the Eat ALL the Fat and Very Few Carbs through summer training and it mostly worked great.  Hardest part was remembering to eat and getting in enough calories.  I had some days with bouts of dizziness on standing up if I wasn't mindful to get in enough food but these were easily fixed by eating once I noticed the dizziness.  Heat and hydration may have played a factor as well, hard to say.  I was also experimenting with some intermittent fasting and by that I mean skipping breakfast or delaying it some days and doing morning workouts fasted.  Results were mixed on this and depended on training load and how much I'd had to eat the day(s) before.  Some mornings I had early morning swim practice at the Rez (6:15-7:40 or so) then a run immediately afterwards and some of those runs were tough but food might not have been the issue.  For some reason running after swimming is hard.  For now I've settled on having breakfast mid-morning on most days with the odd day of fasting until lunch. 

The Blood Moon as seen from my neighborhood

I had my yearly physical exam mostly so I could get the blood work which the doctor initially didn't want to order since it always comes up good.  But I pleaded a case and she put in an order for me.  After 1 1/2 years of eating ALL the fat my blood work is still really good.  LDL which is allegedly the bad cholesterol was 70 mg/dL and normal is 80-100.  HDL, the good cholesterol, was 81 with normal being 40-85, up from 68 last year.  Of course we could have the discussion of cholesterol is not even that great of a predictor of heart disease, if you really want to know if you're at risk you should just pony up for a calcium scan.  It's tempting but, meh, I'd have to drive to a Denver suburb and endure some radiation plus the money.  Maybe some day.  The best news was TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone was 1.49 uIU/mL with normal being .465-4.68.  You want this to be low and it was down from 1.74 last year.  I was so hoping for less than 1.5 so yay for that.  I often wonder about my thyroid function and TSH is not the best test, there are better tests but in the absence of symptoms or very many symptoms I'm not going to bother about it. 

Last gasps of fall color at Rocky Mountain National Park

One of my other experiments was giving up caffeine sometime mid-summer or so.  This was in impromptu experiment, my stomach was queasy one morning so I skipped the caffeine for a few mornings and noticed that I felt much better.  Stomach felt better in general and I was sleeping longer and so much more deeply, having freaky vivid technicolor dreams, very cool.  I don't miss it at all though I do have it occasionally if I'm out with Jonny and he stops for it.  I think it's been almost a month since my last cup.  I think it's also helped with that thyroid number.  Adrenal fatigue is a concern for middle aged female athletes and caffeine stresses out the adrenals which then messes with the thyroid so it's not a bad thing to be rid of for now.

First bits of snow dusting up at Winter Park

And still some color at Winter Park

The most recent experiment is with flat pedals on my bike.  This has been awesome, LOVE my flat pedals.  It took me a very very long time to swallow the Kool Aid of clipless pedal way back in the day and for those that don't know what those are, basically a pedal with a gizmo on it that you clip into with bike shoes that have a special matching cleat.  This means that you're attached to the bike unless you twist your foot just the right way to release the cleat.

Clipless pedals.  The silver part is the thing you clip into.  I know it makes no sense that they're called 'clipless' and then you refer to being 'clipped in' but 'clipless' refers to the old school toe clips.

Supposedly you generate more power by being able to pull up on the pedal as well as push down.  But this is controversial and there is no solid proof of this.  In fact there seems to be some evidence against it.  Wish I had known that all those years ago.

And by being attached to the bike you risk not being able to unclip in time if you fall.  This has happened to me several times, happens to pretty much everyone.  I also don't like having my knee and foot locked into one position.  So when I read an Xterra pro recommending flat pedals to someone as a way of improving skills and pedal stroke I was all over it.  Pulled out some of my old school zillion year old flat pedals, put on a pair of running shoes and I was off.  SO MUCH FUN!  I was sold immediately and ponied up the $$$ for some new school flat pedals.

The silver bits are studs that grip into special shoes with grippy rubber.  You can wear whatever shoes you want but I love my grippy rubber shoes.  These pedals have more surface area than my old school pedals as well which helps a lot with keeping your foot from slipping off.  I love the freedom from the bike and feel so much more confident on descents and even some techy uphills where I formerly would have unclipped.  I also love being able to switch my foot position around which takes stress off my knee and allows me to place my foot so the are where I had surgery is not taking the brunt of the force as it was with the clipless.  There's even a guy who has written a manifesto about the flat pedals.  He is maybe more passionate than I am but I'm pretty excited with this experiment.  I've been on a half dozen or so rides now and it's early days to say if I'm faster but the flats sure are a lot of fun.  I may switch back and forth so I don't completely lose the muscle memory for the clipless but maybe not.

I gave up the idea of going to UKI Nationals.  21 1/2 hours is too much driving.  But we continue to practice with our training partner.  Strummy is still going strong and loves it.  I signed up for DOCNA trials in Nov. and Dec. because that's all there is except for AKC and NADAC and I'm not doing those.  Hopefully Strum will be able to do USDAA in January.  So far he's showing no signs of slowing down.

Boulder Rez - Strummy votes it 'Best Place to Run Your Buns Off'.

Phew, that's all for now.


  1. Anonymous7:21 AM

    I just stumbled across your blog when you commented on JillOutside and I'm glad I did!
    I like how you focus not only on the activities, though I have to say in the beautiful scenery of CO they are so much more appealing than here in Germany... But I like the health part as well, especially now that I'm once again struggling with knee pain when running. Excited to read more from you, this actually makes me wanna take my bike out right now, tho I've been cross country skiing both days this weekend and more than sore.
    Btw: I was thinking about getting those flat pedals for my bike as well. I've been using clipless for almost one year and I feel exactly the same about them as you; not being able to move my feet on the pedals is uncomfortable even though it gives me a bit more power biking up hill. I noticed that since I started using clipless I've been mainly biking on the roads and not as much off-road as I used to. So I guess it's time to change 'em!

  2. I still love my flat pedals and I think they do help with knee pain, being able to shift your foot position to use slightly different muscles/tendons/etc. I also have knee pain when running, had surgery some years ago, still working on fixes for my knees. Things like plyometrics and surprisingly a parkour class I took last year seem to help. Just need to keep up with it better.

    Your blog looks good too, added it to my blog roll, always love to read about other areas of the world and see other people's trails. I've been to Britain a bunch (husband is from Scotland) but not much of the rest of Yurp. Maybe one day.

    1. It seems like every runner has knee problems, but I feel I'm too young for surgery yet. I might have to go and see another doctor or somebody who is specialized. This year I did more biking and I don't get knee problems from it (clipless and for the last couple days on flats) even though I was doing a lot of downhill. Same with cross country skiing - no knee problems....
      Plyometrics sounds interesting as a possible treatment. Always open for new ideas!

    2. Yeah, avoiding surgery is the best option. I had a cyst and surgery was really the best option. The surgery did help a lot though recovery was longer and harder than I expected. Now I have a meniscus tear in the same knee and don't really want to open it up again for a repair. I've been limping along with it for about 5-6 years or so now, can't run as fast or far as I'd like to but I can run a bit. Every once and a while the meniscus flips over and I can't run at all but eventually it flips back on its own. Used to have a chiropractor who could fix it with a quick adjustment but he's moved (retired?) I'm having trouble locating him. I'll only go for surgery if it becomes unbearable.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I'm with you on that! With not even thirty years I'm too young for a surgery even tho the doctors say I could do it, but I can still run a bit and I'm still hoping to find a way to stabilize my knee so I won't need a surgery. And recovery always takes longer then what the doctors tell you! 5 years however is a very long time! It doesn't affect your biking however? I'm only slowly accepting that not running, but possibly biking will be my sport. I'm enjoying it and try to spend as much time on my bike as possible, but currently the bad weather and the fact that I don't have those epic trails right in front of my door make me miss running where all I had to bring is my shoes and I was good to go... Oh well.

    1. My knee surgery was maybe 10 years ago to remove a cyst, I didn't have a meniscus tear when they did the surgery. About 5-6 years ago I started having knee pain again and worried that the cyst had returned which they can do. An MRI showed a meniscus tear this time but only a partial and the surgeon did not recommend opening my knee up again for such a tear. So I live with it. The pain is from the tear, not recovery from the old surgery. I can hike and bike, running is more of a problem. But yeah, biking is such a hassle compared to running and there aren't a lot of trails in the Boulder area that allow biking and they're often crowded.