The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Oh, How Tempting

And I'm not talking about food. While I was at the gym today, one of the trainers overheard me talking about Simply Stu's Tri and she asked me if I planned to do any more triathlons. I responded honestly-- I don't know. Turns out she has a little training business and she is running a "Get Ready for a Triathlon" training program. I know that she has been successful teaching an intro to rode biking program for women, but this triathlon workshop is new. It will probably run on Thursday afternoons this spring, 6 sessions, 2 hrs. each, with 5 or 6 women. It is so tempting, but I think I'm going to say no, for three reasons.
1) Bad timing, even though Thursday is my day off. First of all, I have to work a couple of Thursdays in April, and 2nd, I need to stay flexible in order to visit colleges with son #1.
2) I need to learn how to swim properly before I can think about perfecting my swimming for a triathlon. It's the cart before the horse thing (or is it the chicken and the egg).
3) I don't want to feed the obsession with fitness by taking this training program and then training for a triathlon. Why enroll in this program if you're not going to do a triathlon? and why do a triathlon if you're not going to train for it?
Yeah, part of me wants to do a triathlon because I know I can, even though I'm 50 years old. It's no longer about being fit and feeling great, it's about proving a point. So for now, I think I will stick to my original goal of finding a 10k and riding 50 miles in the bike tour. 'Cause that's about fun and fitness. And I am going to try to teach myself how to swim for real. Total Immersion, baby.

BTW, comfortably sore has morphed into pain even when contemplating walking up a flight of stairs. Spin class last night and trainer inflicted squats this morning. I warmed up this morning on the rowing machine instead of the arc trainer or the treadmill. Thought it might make it a little easier on my sore legs. Yeah, right.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Simply Stu's Wall of Fame

Last night I did a LBWO. Over the last 2 weeks, I have been very inconsistent about my strength program. But I didn't need to back my weights down. I got through a good workout, and it felt really great. This morning I felt it a little bit in my legs, mostly my inner thighs. As the day has progressed I am feeling it more, in my quads, my outer thigh, my butt, just about everywhere, even my abs. Still, I am comfortably sore (as opposed to comfortably numb, I suppose). At least I know I got it right and made it count for something, but I'm pretty sure I can still walk up stairs without excruciating pain.

I sent my tri results into SimplyStu and he replied, asking if this was my first tri, wanting to know my "story." So I sent him the whole story, since he asked for it:

I did a sprint triathlon about 19 years ago. Over the years, I have fallen more and more out of shape. You know the story-- work, kids, house, etc. Although I've never had a big weight problem, it was getting more difficult to keep my weight down and even 1 pound a year was starting to get a little scary. I always loved bike riding but my Trek was very neglected. I even bought a hybrid so I could ride more upright but it always felt heavy. When I turned 49, I thought long and hard about where and what I wanted to be when I turned 50. I decided I had 1 year to turn this around. This is what I did:
I started taking spinning classes. Learned to use a heart rate monitor.
My husband bought me 3 hours of personal training at our gym. I started a strength/weight lifting program. I never lifted weights before this. I still work with her once a week.
I committed to working out 5 days a week. And I stuck to it-- at least 4 if not 5.
I joined the local cycle club and I rode with them almost every weekend thru the fall. I resurrected the Trek and learned to ride with cleats.
I joined the hiking group at the gym. I hiked almost every Sunday thru the fall. ( I survived being attacked by a swarm of yellow jackets-- another story for another day).
I can't believe the transformation--
I lost about 6 pounds (I'm only 5 ft tall, so a few pounds is enough to make a difference).
Reduced my body fat from 25 to 19%. I have muscles that you can see!
I've become much more conscious about what i eat (or don't eat).
I've increased my level of fitness to the point where I can once again finish a triathlon, and not feel totally wasted when I'm done.
I've made new hiking and biking friends.
I bought lots of smaller-sized clothes!
I have tons more self-confidence and energy. There is no motivation like success, and I feel like I can accomplish much more (notice I did not say I can accomplish anything-- I;m much too pragmatic for that). I have never run a 10k, so that is my next goal. I also want to ride 50 miles in the big bike club tour in the fall. I'm even considering putting some time and effort into swimming. It's been months since I swam any laps, and it really felt good!
So this tri came at just the right time for me-- it was really a celebration of a year long journey and the beginning of my next journey.
So, I am a born again triathlete!

He loved my story, made sure he included it in the results he posted on the website as a "Must Read". I really do appreciate the recognition and that serves as motivation to keep things going. In fact, over the last 2 days I've been taking the time to prepare food, pack lunch for DH and myself, and get to the gym for the UBWO. I've even been thinking about trying to learn how to swim for real and becoming a real triathlete. Ahhhh, so many miles, so little time. It's a thin line between fitness and obsession. And sometimes those miles get lonely. So, for now, I'm aiming for a 10 k (and 50 miles in the fall bike tour).

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Images of Midtown Part 1

The other day I packed my camera to work and took some pix on my way in and during lunch. Midtown Manhattan, through the eyes of a commuter.

Born Again Triathlete

About 19 years ago, I did a sprint triathlon. I don't remember my time or very many details. I remember my DH made me drink ALOT of water before and after the race. And I remember the look on my dad's face when he saw me coming across the finish line. And I remember feeling pretty darn proud of myself. This time, I was kinda on my own. I drank alot of water, without being reminded. Dad is gone, but he was with me because he taught me to take care of myself. And hot damn, I sure had that same feeling of pride. I did the whole thing indoors at the gym, and when I finished, I considered yelling "I just finished a triathlon and next week is my 50th birthday!" but I refrained. It felt good enough to yell it out in my head. But when I get the T-shirt, people will know that I am a triathlete (so don't mess with the girl). Now, there is no motivation like success. Spring will spring very soon, next week we change the clocks, bike club rides are scheduled. I want to get out there, run and ride, feel strong. Bring on the hills!! Next stop: 10K.
Here are the details:
1/4 mi swim 12 min, 15 mi bike 61 min, 3.1 mi run 38 min for a grand total of 1hr 51 min. I'm not and never have been a speed demon. The upside is I have plenty of room for improvement.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Worldwide Triathlon This Weekend

I can do this: 1/4 mile swim, 15 mile bike, 3.2 (5 k) run. Split the events over 2 days if you want or need to. Inside or outside, change the distances, just commit to doing a triathlon over the weekend. What a great idea! What a great way to celebrate my 50th birthday. P.S. Big Toe update: arthritis and a bone spur, to be treated conservatively. Anti-inflammatory (Aleve) 2x/day x 7 days, begin taking glucosamine, soak in epsom salts 2x/day, tape big toe to second toe when working out, OTC orthotics (this may not work- tried a few and they were uncomfortable). No restrictions on running, but avoid high heels (as if I wear high heels to begin with).

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Eye Candy v. Curves

The spinning studio has 2 rows of bikes, and I usually set up in the back row.  Yesterday there was a very buff and fit gentleman in the front row, and he was no youngster.  In fact, he was probably pretty darn close to my age!  I have to admit, I was enjoying the view.  I know there was no way I could catch him on a bike going nowhere, but I was motivated to at least have him feel my presence, to let him know that I could chase him down if we were on the road.  OK, so that’s a fantasy, I’ve never been fast, but that fantasy sure got me going nowhere faster than usual!  It gave me an extra boost of energy that I was able to take home with me.  Nice.  

At one point I looked around the room and in this particular class, the women outnumbered the men 2:1, and some of these ladies are very fit, slim, and well, HOT!  If I was a guy, I would probably be looking at these ladies with a different pair of eyes.  So how much of a distraction is the opposite sex when you are working out?  I am happily married to the same man for 20 years, but I can still look and have an occasional fantasy.  This works out in his favor, I assure you! For me, the eye candy is not a distraction, it is “entertainment” and somewhat motivating.  On one hand, I would hate to belong to a women-only gym like Curves.  I love thinking “I could spin this guy into the dirt.” On the other hand, I would like a women-only weight lifting environment .   I have gotten over feeling intimidated by the men-dominated weight room, but that was a big hurdle. But I do feel isolated and I am unlikely to ask any of the men for help or advice.  So here is what I am proposing.  Every gym should set aside times when the weight room is off limits to men.  Even the trainers should be women.  Create an environment that is far less intimidating and far more supportive for the ladies, from the beginner to the experienced competitor.  And if the men complain, just wait it out for a month or so until they see what their wives and girlfriends look like and feel like!  They can take step and pilates classes during these times.  Hmmm, I think I am going to have to stuff the suggestion box!!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Shelly v. Belly

Scene 1-- Grand Central Terminal, Shelly and her evil twin Belly are taking the escalator down to the food court.

Shelly: I'm hungry, and if I'm going to the gym I should eat something now.
Belly: Yummy!! Look at all the green cookies and cupcakes for St. Patrick's Day.
Shelly: I'm not eating that junk.
Belly: But you're hungry, buy something you'll enjoy!.
Shelly: Didn't anybody teach you about "empty calories?"
Belly: Calories are calories. And you're going to the gym, you can burn those calories off on the treadmill.
Shelly: Eating junk food gives me food hangovers. And as a vegetarian, I need to think about getting some protein with those calories.

Standing at the Hale and Hearty Soup counter--
Shelly: small spicy lentil soup please.
Belly: that's gonna make you thirsty, better get a Snapple.
Shelly: Snapple, that's 50 g of sugar and over 200 calories
Belly: OK, Diet Snapple.
Shelly: hmmmm.... Can I have a bottle of water with the soup please?

Final score: Shelly 2/ Belly the Evil Twin 0
Stayed tuned for more action packed adventures of Shelly and Belly

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

March 13, 1971

Last night the Allman Brothers Band celebrated the 35th anniversary of recording Live at the Fillmore East.
Set 1:Statesboro Blues, Done Somebody Wrong, Stormy Monday, You Don't Love Me, Hot'lanta, In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed, Whipping Post
Set 2:Mountain Jam, Woman Across The River, *Desdemona, *Come And Go Blues, *The Sky Is Crying, *Jessica,Encore:@The Weight
*w/Chuck Leavell, @w/Susan Tedeschi
Set I is the double album (start to finish) of "Live at the Fillmore East."

This show was awesome. The band was tight-- Derek and Warren traded centerstage and their guitar lines weaved in and out, with 3 drummers providing the rhythm. Greg can still sing, but prefers not to. Elizabeth Reed was totally hot and The Weight with Susan Tedeschi singing was the perfect encore. Derek Trucks has become an incredible lead guitarist, he was really off the charts. It was a spectacular performance. I really enjoyed this one.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Another Notch

Heading into the homestretch, my birthday is March 31. This last week has been less than ideal. Today DH and I had to go to a funeral, which required 4 hours in the car. I planned to get up early and go to the gym, but that just didn't happen. I only worked out 3 times this week, and I definitely miss those endorphins!! Tomorrow I am going to see the Allman Brothers (yeah, still love rock and roll), so I won't be working out. I do plan to finish out this challenge with renewed commitment and energy. Usually when I miss a few days I get to the gym with tons of energy. That's how I plan to start the next 50 years!
After running 5 miles yesterday, I started thinking about a) running on the roads (yes, running up and down the hills, stop being such a wimp) and b) running a 10K. I'm thinking about it, haven't made the commitment yet. I worry a little bit about the stress on my soon to be 50 year old knees. And with spring just around the corner, I know I am going to crave my bike (with new Terry Butterfly saddle which is my birthday present). What a terrible decision-- does the 50 year old lady train for a 10 k or does she ride up and down the hills on the black Trek? OK, so I'm not choosing between the NYC marathon and a century ride, but I'm pretty proud of myself. I know I am far more fit than most women my age, and I know there's lots more room for improvement. The warm weather yesterday really got me psyched for spring. As Emeril says, time to "kick it up another notch!"

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Birthday Saddle

It's been ordered, and it shipped. I will soon be riding with my butt on a Terry Butterfly Tri saddle. I'm psyched. It's my birthday present from DH and sons #1 and #2.

Check out Terry Bicycles. They prdouce bicycles, components, apparel, and even jewelry for women only.

Today is going to be a gift-- mmid-March and temps close to 70. Son #2 has plans to work on a school project with a classmate of the opposite sex. I don't think it would be appropriate to leave them alone for large periods of time and DH is in Florida visiting his mom. A nice bike ride just may not work out. May have to settle for a run.

Friday, March 10, 2006


I have lost all faith in America. Why is Kevin in the top 12? WTF is going on, America?? The French are laughing at us! Starry Starry Night should have sent him back to Levittown, to the HS cafeteria where he can work on being a chick magnet. He should be on American Doofis. The only way I can hope to recover from my disappointment is to go to the gym, plug into my iPod, and run a few miles while listening to some talented people sing. Well, at least they got rid of the Brady kid (Will Makar). They got that one right!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

What's Inside YOUR Gymbag?

They should do this on Entertainment Tonight. Everynight, they should open another star's gym bag and do an inventory. What do you think was inside Hillary Swank's gymbag while she was getting ready for Million Dollar Baby? What was in George Clooney's gymbag after filming Syriana and he had about 30 pounds to lose? Does Phillip Seymour Hoffman have a gym bag?

So here's the exclusive inventory of the contents of the gymbag owned by VergenceRanges-- after she ate the Peppermint Stick Luna Bar.
1 pair Nike sneakers (notice the yellow band for the Lance Armstrong Foundation), 1 pair wonderful Sidi bikeshoes, 1 pair Nike flipflops for the shower (I try to avoid buying Nike products, but I guess I haven't been too successful with that strategy), 1 complete set workout clothes, 2 towels-- 1 small for sweat management and 1 big for shower, 2 water bottles-- 1 small for most gym activities, 1 big for the big spin, 1 bathing suit in desperate need of replacement, 1 silly swimming cap, 1 pair swimming goggles (these 3 swimming items seldomly used and always find their way to the bottom of the bag), 1 HR monitor in homemade carrying bag, 1 pair headphones, and assorted hair/shower and other items usually classified as "health and beauty." Wow, pretty darn exciting!
So, no sooner do I get this posted then I see a column in Sports Illustrated about what's in some basketball player's gym bag. Hey, I thought of it first!! But this guy's gymbag was more like his traveling/carryon bag. So he had books, iPod, video games, etc. That's cheating!!

Friday, March 03, 2006

I am a Regular

Once again, I am spending 2 days sitting around the house waiting for town inspectors, plumbers and propane tanks. I have been assured by the plumber that I will be cooking on my new gas range this evening! I'll believe it when I smell the pizza. Yesterday I was very cranky. The inspector came but left without telling me whether or not the gas line "passed." I only have one electric skillet but dinner required 2 skillets, so I had to cook sequentially instead of simultaneously. And the boys are doing some computer realignment (son #2 gets basement computer, son #1 gets son #2's computer, and laptop floats between basement and other locations) and there was this constant low level bickering all evening. Plus the schools were closed-- snow day, so the 3 of us were in the house all day. That's not a big deal-- I barely saw them except when I offered to make waffles (another electric appliance that does not require stovetop or oven). I didn't get to the gym. My trainer cancelled our morning appt. because of the bad weather (she travels from fairly far north). I could have gone to the gym early and gotten home before the snow became an obstacle, but it was so warm in bed! DH will be home on the early side today and I am hopeful we will both workout this evening. Then I can come home and cook on my new gas range!! Yippee!!

Which brings me to the point of this post-- I am a regular. My trainer told me that the gym has about 2400 members. Now, those members are pretty spread out-- there are the tennis people, the racquetball people, the swimmers, the "group exercise" mothers of small children, the spinners, and the weight lifters. Of course there is some overlap, usually there's a primary activity plus weight lifting. You would think most of the membership comes through the fitness center-- weight lifting plus all the treadmills, bikes, ellipticals, etc. But most of the time, I see the same people, at least the same "core" group in the fitness center. I call them the regulars. I don't know their names, but I can describe them to my DH and he usually knows who I am referring to ("she always wears Yankees clothes and she dances on the treamill"). I had the realization, that I am one of these people! If they ever think about it, then I am one of the people that they see regularly in the fitness center. If I had to take a guess, I would say there's about 100 of these people. I am an "after work" regular. There are "before work" regulars, morning regulars (the aforementioned mothers with small children), and the afternoon retired regulars. At most that probably adds up to 1000 people. That means there are 1400 irregular members who are not getting the most out of their gym memberships. I guess that's how gyms make it work. Sign up lots of people and hope at least half of them don't show up so the regular members don't complain. Even though I use the gym at probably its busiest times (evenings and weekend mornings), I never feel it's too crowded. I rarely wait for a piece of euqipment or a shower. And I like seeing the same people, somehow it is comforting and reassuring. Some of them are even my friends! So I am a regular and proud of it! Do they have a Life is Good T-shirt for us Regular Gym People?