Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tommie Copper Compression Sleeve Review

Whether it's aero bars, wetsuits with special coatings, low friction tires, or body hugging skin suits, triathletes are always looking for that magic bullet that will make them faster during the race, and recover faster after the race. Some of these technological advances are a lot easier to prove than others: For example, You can put a rider on a bike in a wind tunnel, adjust their position, and see the difference in how much wind resistance they generate. But how do you measure how someone feels when they're racing or how much they've recovered 3 days after a race?

Therapeutic Compression (essentially wearing a garment that applies either uniform or graduated pressure against sections of the body) has been studied for years in regards to how it helps both healthy and unhealthy individuals deal with conditions from varicose veins to recovery after exercise. It's been used therapeutically long before it was adopted as a potential performance or recovery enhancer for endurance athletes. Most studies agree that compression garments, especially graduated compression, at minimum reduces DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Sorness) which is where that day-after-the-race achy feeling comes from.

Another very popular, albeit less scientifically proven therapy, is copper therapy. Copper deficiency is one of the known causes of osteoarthritis, and it's been shown in studies of athletes that copper in the blood decreases during exercise and is restored with rest. It has been proven in animals that oral copper intake can reduce joint damage progression, but what hasn't been proven beyond anecdotal evidence is if copper absorbed through the skin from contact (ie the copper bracelet), has a positive effect for the wearer. Studies have provided mixed results, with most scientists believing any improvements are attributed to placebo effect. That hasn't stopped people from buying and wearing them and many people swear by copper therapy.

It was with this information in hand that I took on the task of reviewing a Tommie Copper calf compression sleeve. I wanted to see how it worked, what it felt like, and how it stacked up against some competition. I requested a sample from Cassie, their Director of Communication, and she was more than happy to oblige. I received the sleeve a little less than a week ago and have been able to give it a pretty thorough work over.

The first thing I noticed about the Tommie Copper calf sleeve was how light it is. If you've ever worn warm weather UnderArmor, or a sweat wicking T-shirt, it's the same thickness of material as one of those. Further, it shimmers a bit in the light, which might be the proprietary fabric weave with the copper. Finally, it users grippers (like in the bottom of triathlon or bike shorts) in order to hold position on the calf and a flat stitched seam runs up the back of the sleeve; but I'll get to that more in a bit.

While many of the compression therapy companies market their products towards recovery, I've seen an increasing number of athletes wearing these products during races as well. I wanted to understand what difference I might feel wearing the sleeve during training. I wore the sleeve for a 31 mile training ride my wife and I completed this past Sunday. It's an out and back ride, so when we rested at the turnaround, I switched which leg the sleeve was on. I can definitely say that the leg I wore the sleeve on for the first half of the ride felt fresher for the second half than the leg that didn't have it. I repeated this test with a couple of short runs, and found the same results.

No, that's not a hobbit's foot
That left me with a couple of questions: was it the compression, the copper, or both that made my leg feel better? So my next step was to put the Tommie Copper sleeve up against the competition. I got a pair of graduated recovery socks from The Recovery Sock for Christmas. I've primarily worn them after longer workouts, and had only worn them for one short workout prior to getting the Tommie Copper sleeve. Over the past few days I have worn the Tommie Copper sleeve on one leg and a Recovery Sock on the other leg during multiple of the same intensity and distance. And I did one run without either to compare how I felt running with and without them.

What I found is that while the Tommie Copper sleeve and The Recovery Sock both provided additional comfort during runs, keeping my legs fresher, I felt The Recovery Sock did a slightly better job, mostly because it also provides compression around the ankle and foot where the Tommie Copper sleeve stops at the lower leg. I will say the Tommie Copper sleeve did feel lighter to wear and was far more breathable for wearing during exercise. While it is only available in black, the Tommie Copper sleeve is definitely the better choice than my recovery socks for warm weather exercise. Tommie Copper does offer an ankle sleeve, at an additional cost.

The primary purpose of recovery gear is of course recovery and I followed the same process of switching legs with the products and wearing each independently over the past few days following workouts. Recovery has definitely been easier because I've been wearing the compression gear during exercise. Wearing the items around the house, there's no doubt the Tommie Copper sleeve has an advantage; it's so light I could easily forget it's even on. The Recovery Sock is very tight (as it should be), and because it doesn't breathe it's probably better for cold nights after a hard workout. Because of this, you can wear the TC sleeve for a longer  period of time comfortably.

The red you see is the tablecloth, the shiny stuff appears to be the copper
There are two problems I have with the Tommie Copper sleeve, first of which being that the sleeve I was sent developed a hole right on the rear seam, about halfway up. It appears that a stitch broke leading to a manufacturing defect that has grown to a hole about the size of half a penny. It doesn't seem to be getting larger, and continues to function well. My wife noticed it well before I did. When I mentioned the hole to Cassie, she informed me that Tommie Copper has a 30 day refund or exchange policy from receipt of your order. They've sent me a replacement sleeve which I will be sure to report on the durability of at a later date.

Secondly, and more importantly, I can't confirm that having copper in it has made the TC calf sleeve more effective than other compression gear without it. The company's motto is "it just works", which I do agree with; it does make my leg feel better from wearing it during and after exercise. However, the primary differentiator for the product is the copper, and I'm just not sure it had any additional effect. I will say that at just $19.99 per sleeve, the price of these sleeves may also serve as a differentiator. Zoot's CompressRX calf sleeves retail for $59.95, nearly $20 more than a pair of Tommie Cooper sleeves. The Recovery Sock are $5 less than the TC sleeve per pair, by comparison.

In conclusion, while the jury is still out on whether or not the copper makes a difference, it's certainly a good monetary value in compression sleeves, and I was overall pretty happy with how the Tommie Copper sleeve worked.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Does this ever happen to you?

So, I've been cruising along with my training, and apart from the occasional small bout of soreness, everything has been going very well. My swimming is as good as it's ever been; plus it's only April, and get to take a swim clinic to work on skills this Saturday. We're just starting to ramp up outdoor bike fitness, but the sun has been shining, we got in a long ride on Saturday, and other than getting comfortable in the saddle for longer periods of time, We'll be biking along at race pace in no time.

But the running; that's a different story. I've been running 3 days a week in accordance with my Couch to 5k training plan, and I have been making some progress. But every time I move on to the next week in the plan, I feel like I'm struggling desperately just to finish the run, and I'm always REALLY slow for the last running segment of the workout. Last night was no different. Now on week 5, I'm doing 1.5 miles in 21 minutes with 15 minutes of going as fast a jog/run as I can sustain, and 6 minutes of super slow recovery walk. I mean so slow, if you could stand still and walk at the same time, that's what my recovery walks are like.

Do any of you really struggle with one of the triathlon disciplines? I read all the time on daily mile about my friends who run like cheetahs for miles and miles and I get to regularly watch my wife turn in sub-8 minute miles like it's walking from one side of a room to another. It's REALLY frustrating that I still struggle so much with running. I'm aware part of those struggles are tied to my weight, and last night was just a bad day. After 2 weeks of very strong portion control and food choices, we went to dinner last night and I got a salad and water for dinner. It was a big salad, but not of say Cheesecake Factory proportions. Somehow, making all good choices for a day, I was STILL up four pounds on the day. Yes, I drank a decent amount of fluids (probably 80 ounces total), but it just seems insane that I would fluctuate that much.

I'm not downtrodden or feeling like I'm not making progress, because I'm having non-scale victories one right after the other (unless I'm running), but man, yesterday was just a brutal day for my mental state regarding my forward path. I guess if it was easy, America wouldn't be filled with obese people who are slowly dying mostly because of what they eat.

Monday, April 25, 2011


I have a stomach bug today, so I'm sitting at home as I type this. It always kinds of sucks to follow up an amazing weekend with a day on the couch. And we really did have a fantastic weekend. It started with my having Friday off as a vacation day, and going for an early morning ride with the team. We have some great teammates and it was nice to get a ride in with them. I didn't bring my run shoes because I didn't think I was ready for a brick that morning, but sitting in the cold while everyone else ran made me wish I'd been a bit more adventurous. It wound up being around 11 miles on the bike, and we had a great time. Plus, I finally saw upper Mystic lake where I'll be doing some swim training this summer.

Saturday, we hit the pool at exactly the wrong time; between all the families there for swim class, and the folks taking advantage of the holiday weekend it was simply too busy to get in the workout we had planned at the level we wanted. So we finished 1000 yards and cut out. Another sub-30 minute 1k swim is definitely very encouraging, especially with Patriot coming up so soon. We'll really start cranking up the swim volume this week and pick it up again once Season Opener is done.

Sunday was only the second really nice day we've had all year. It was low-60's and sunny, and Rach and I took full advantage. It was our second Easter Sunday as a married couple and we had plans for a nice meal highlighted by brown sugar hams and all the fixins'. But we had to earn that meal with a good hard ride.

For our first long outdoor ride of the season, I was pretty happy with how well we managed, considering it was pretty windy and a lot more distance than what I did Friday. The only thing I didn't like is that it was SLOOOOOOOOOOOW. I guess it isn't unexpected for the first ride to feel that slow; and I'm sure the wind didn't help. I "burnt my matches" pulling Rach through the winds along the river before we turned north towards the Minuteman trail. With the Minuteman being a long false flat (uphill) on the way out, at one point I had to downshift to a low gear and just cruise to rest the legs. I worked hard for most of the ride out though, and we took it somewhat easier on the way back. It's such a beautiful place to ride and there were tons of families out and we even saw 4 couples on tandem bikes!

Easter dinner was great and we really went to town. The best part though is with all the exercise and only the one big meal all week, I am now down almost 10 pounds over the past 2 weeks!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The "You don't look like a marathoner" discussion continues

I want to thank everyone for their feedback on the "You don't look like a marathoner" topic from Tuesday. I like reading what you folks think about some of these topics, because  I almost always think "I wonder if it's just me that feels like this?", and it usually turns out that it's not. I got a response last night from George, (who read the site upon notice from his wife Kacie) that I'd like to share with you here:
My wife alerted me to your post. I give you credit for biting your tongue and for trying to understand why she might have said it (i.e. "this is probably the first race she's ever been around . . ."). 

I thought of your blog when I read Ted King's blog today. Ted's a professional cyclist on one of the best teams in the world. He's a two-time Giro d'Italia finisher. He's from NH, and he was in town (taking a break from his living/training/racing in Europe) for the Boston Marathon. In his blog today, reflecting on what he saw at Boston, Ted wrote, "The diversity of runners is phenomenal – all ages, all body types, all with a different reason or story for doing the race." 

Undoubtedly, Ted is in the top 1% of athletes on the planet, but to him, the fact that not everyone looks like him is a GOOD thing. And I think that it takes an athlete to understand this. The lady at the finish line had never actually crossed a finish line, and because of that, I don't think she gets it.
I am fortunate enough to have met Ted King at an event held at Landry's Bike Shop just down the road from my house last fall on weekend Rach was away with the hockey team. He's a good guy, and that's where I disagree slightly with what George had to say. I don't think it takes an athlete to understand that different people do things for different reasons and with different goals. Ted sees this because he's a good guy, not because he's an athlete. Because I've met plenty of athletes who will probably never understand that. It only takes a visit over to SlowTwitch to know there's a reason why triathletes are sometimes seen as Type A "jerks" who think if you're not fast, and don't look almost too thin, you aren't one of them. (Note: I hang out over there fairly regularly and there are plenty of nice people there, but there are absolutely some prime examples

Instead, I think it's about people's nature and experience. I'm making a lot of assumptions about the lady who said what she said to me, and frankly I've been trying to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she meant it the way it sounded, the way some of the folks at SlowTwitch say it. Maybe though, she's the kind of person whose only exposure to running has been a grandson or daughters track meets and what she has seen on TV, which is almost always the lead pack of uber-athletes. Maybe this lady is a perfectly nice person, but she has a very narrow world view.

Maybe that world view is because of her experiences, and maybe it's because that's what she chooses it to be. The problem is that it's a still too common frame of mind. No, It's not 100% OK to be fat; it's unhealthy, it puts a fiscal burden on our health care system, and an emotional burden on friends and loved ones. But for those of us working to be healthier and stronger and weigh less, being fat doesn't take away the fact that we are athletes.

Plus, no matter what I look like, I will be a marathoner come 9/11.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I like charts and graphs

This past weekend my buddy Dan and I went on our annual gambling trip. It's the last weekend of fun, food, and debauchery before triathlon season heats up. Dan and I had a great time, I won some money, and we went for a fantastic hike on what is marked as a "dangerous/extreme" hiking trail. I figured they were probably overstating, but it turns out they were right, this hike was fairly extreme with some very steep climbs, especially for a couple guys who aren't exactly mountaineers.

Despite the fact that I had on the wrong shoes and that we were high enough that the hawks were circling at eye level, we had a great time doing it. Doesn't really apply as training, but sometimes just doing physical activity is it's own reward. I'll post some pictures once Dan gets them to me. 

I ran and biked on Monday and last night i hit the pool for a solid workout. My original goal was to see where I was for my 1/4 mile swim, because that's what is on tap for Season Opener. Most of my swims lately have been the tail end of a two-a-day, so having the pool as my only workout was going to give me the best gauge of fitness I've had in a mile. Let's just say I was happy with how it came out:

That's right, I'm a badass
So I did a 400 swim in 9:38. The best part? I wasn't even close to going all out. I find there's a very big difference between me at 100% effort and me just swimming strong an even pace. Going all out, I could drop the first 50 yard time by 15 or so seconds, but I'd be a good bit slower on the second 50, and maybe 30 or more seconds slower for the full 400. Doing it as I did last night, I got a time I was happy with, without strong pushoffs and I had plenty of energy left.

When I finished the 400, I set my sights on a mile, which I pulled off 49 minutes, even with a little rest between intervals (1x400, 1x500, 1x600 1x200), I decided to see if I could fit the full Half-IM swim inside an hour, and I managed to, just barely at 57:50. Definitely some major progress.

Oh, and I don't know if I mentioned it, but I didn't gain any weight on my casino trip (even though there were some pizza & cheeseburgers involved). In fact, I've lost weight week over week for the past couple weeks now. It's been a pound here or a half-pound there, but it's been significant forward progress especially with the first race of the season closing in.


- Got a lot of positive feedback on yesterdays post both here and on Facebook. Thanks so much for the kind words, and sharing your thoughts. I love comments on my posts, so feel free to share, or ask questions, or tell me I'm wrong awesome... whatever.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"You don't look like a marathoner"

I don't know how many of you watched or followed the Boston Marathon yesterday, but both the men's and women's races were absolutely terrific contests, neither of which was decided until the last 2 blocks of a 26.2 mile race. Plus, the USA went 2 and 5 in the women's race, with 5th place finisher Kara Goucher just a few months off giving birth and probably would have won with higher fitness had she had a few more weeks training. In the Men's race, Ryan Hall paced the race for the first half, and finished just off the podium in 4th.

It was a gorgeous day here in Boston, and with the perfect weather came some fast running. Because the Boston Marathon course is a point to point race, and because it's slightly downhill in total elevation; races run on the course do not count towards the world record. If they did, both the Men's and Women's world records would have been set as well as the American record in both races. It was an amazing day of racing all around, and Rach had the day off to watch it while I snook time for updates during the workday.

Which is why I waited until today to post this particular story, because I didn't want to put anything even the least bit negative out yesterday.

My buddy Dan and I went on our annual gambling trip this past weekend, and we spent Saturday night and Sunday in the Boston area. Sunday Morning. we went over to the race expo to wander around a bit, and Dan wanted to see the finish line of the race. Dan asked me to take his picture at the finish line, and while we were in the process of doing so, a woman came up to us and said "Excuse me, are you doing the race? Because you don't look like a marathoner".

I was flabbergasted. What do you say when someone says to you "You clearly don't belong here", based totally on appearance. Frankly, my immediate impulse was to say "Are you a bitch? Because you don't look like one". I bit my tongue and responded that my friend was merely a tourist wanting a picture, and then I tried to stammer out something about being a triathlete and having done a Half-Ironman. I'm sure I sounded like an idiot, and I felt like less than nothing.

I'm sure the lady was the mother or grandmother of someone doing the race, probably a fit young person who has run since middle school, and this is probably the first race she's ever been around where non-traditional athletes participate. But that's another "qualifier", and I don't understand why I have to use one in the first place.

What does a marathoner look like?

Is it this?

Or this?

Or this?

Or this?

Personally, I think it's this

Maybe I shouldn't have let this bother me, because truly, I'm not a marathoner yet. I won't be racing my first until September. But insert "athlete" for "marathoner", and it's a much bigger discussion. If we judged every person by what they looked like, and not what they were capable of, something tells me this guy wouldn't have made quite the impression on the world that he did.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Random Facts about me

I see the facebook lists people make where you do 30 days of pictures or list a fact for every letter of the alphabet, or whatever, and I think those are fun but basically sort of arbitrarily defined. So I'm going to make my own list of facts, most of which are actually indeed true facts about yours truly.

- I wear size 11 1/2 shoes from basically any manufacturer, but I have always had wide feet.

- I can gain 6 pounds in one day without hardly eating. I re-did the 10k time trial lactate test last night out in Springfield and when I got home I had a couple baked chicken legs, and a finger of peanut butter. Got on the scale at the end of the night, and I was up 6 pounds for the day. 3 pounds were gone this morning, but a hard workout and some extra fluids can sure throw off the weight loss numbers pretty easily.

- I love broccoli, like cauliflower, and will eat either cooked or raw. I mostly do not like carrots, though I like them cooked when they're soft. I also developed a love of spinach later in the past few years,

- May favorite movie of all time is Return of the Jedi (I like it when the good guys win). Runners up are all other Star Wars Movies, Indiana Jones, When Harry Met Sally, Notting Hill, The newer James Bonds (Brosnan or the new guy), Mystery Alaska and Miracle.

- I do not like onions in any situation except on McDonalds cheeseburgers, and only flaked or slivered.

- I like peas, and green beans (why is this list mostly about food?)

- I like apple juice, but not apples. The skin gets in my teeth, which is just gross.

- My favorite fruit is Blueberry but I also like strawberry, bananas, Kiwi, and grape.

- I was very interested in flying jets for the Navy as a kid. I went so far as to meet with a recruiter about Naval ROTC following my ACT. I would have had to retake the test raise my math score, and I was too tall to fly the jets I wanted to anyways. (I did however just recently get 7 kills in a flight simulator at the Mall of America, so I feel like I got my revenge).

- The accomplishment I am most proud of is being lucky enough to have gotten Rachelle to be my wife.

- My biggest regret is not taking my health seriously until my mid 30's; all this weight never had to be put on in the first place.

- I someday want to race an actual road bike race. I mean it can't be any harder than a mountain bike race or an Ironman, I just need to get skinnier.

- I loved to read as a kid and I still do, but I feel like there are things I'd rather do. I love to read short articles and the occasional short story.

- My favorite books of all time are The Lord of the Rings and associated books, The Dragonlance Chronicles, and Half Nelson, Full Nelson. No grown up books have captured my imagination the way the books of my youth did.

- If I could do anything I want without worrying about money, I'd volunteer a lot and probably run a hobby shop. I volunteered at a food bank as a kid, and it's one of the things that really made me see how much we as a people should be willing to help each other.

- I love model trains and sports cards. I have a tendency to spend too much in the stores related to those hobbies so I have to be careful with them. I'm slowly building my train layout that I plan to be the layout of my lifetime.

- I used to be a computer programmer before I do what I do now, and I miss it sometimes. There are times when I've thought of writing a computer game or creating software for a task I need to do. The amount of time it would take to do that is something I just don't have these days.

- I really love the upper peninsula of Michigan and if I had my druthers we would already live there. Probably on the southern side, close to Mackinac.

- I want to do a really long bike ride, over 100 miles, and I'm getting that wish fulfilled this fall.


- I'm going on my annual casino trip with my buddy Dan for the next 3 days. I may or may not blog this time depending on how busy we are. We're definitely planning some new things for this trip, and I'll be working out each day.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

5 months until the Ironman

Yesterday was 5 months until Rev3 Cedar Point. Last year, I was training a little better than half-assed until after I DNFed at MA State Triathlon, when the fear of god set into me that Timberman was only a month away and trained really hard. Not to be braggy, but I feel like my training is going pretty well.

Aside from the fact that I need a few more outside rides to transition my bike fitness from indoor to outdoor ready, I feel like I'm close to the place I want to be in terms of fitness for the NE Season Opener. Sure I'd love to be a super fast runner and swimmer, It's going to be a little while before those things happen. Based on where I started the year, and the training reset in February, I am pretty thrilled with my progress.

I mentioned yesterday that I didn't lose any weight this weekend, but following last nights hard run followed by what turned out to be a slow swim, I woke up this morning down another 2 pounds. I still have a little ways to go to reach where I started the year, but I still have almost 4 weeks to keep working my weight down.

Last nights run isn't fast by most peoples standards but I was pretty thrilled. Without the warm up or cool down included in the distance, I ran as far as I had including warm up and cool down the week before. I was still pretty tired and as the image below attests, my speed drops off quite a bit in that last 5 minute run. My stamina is getting better though, and I'm hanging pretty regularly around the 11 min/mile mark on the first 2/3rds of the run.

My expectations are not that I'll be able to run all of the Rev 3 marathon, or even run all of the Patriot Half-Iron run. But I will be in better shape for every race I enter than I was for the same distance race last year. Obviously I didn't do a full-Iron distance race last year, so any shape I'm in (round is a shape, people) is still better than not doing it.

In fact I'm feeling so good about where I am with a month left until Season Opener, I'm ready to put some goals in place for the race. The distances are the same as last year (1/4 mile swim, 10 mile bike, 5k run), and here is a reminder of how I did last year:

Swim: 18:59
T1: 6:32
Bike: 56:50
T2: 3:22
Run: 45:33
Total: 2:11:13

I freely admit to not training very well leading up to last years race, but the only one of these that is excusable is the T1; because I was significantly worried my wife could be in an ambulance trying to fight off hypothermia. The rest of that was either poor training or poor preparation for a race that I knew was likely to be very cold.

Here's what I expect for this years times:

Swim: 12:00
T1: 3:00
Bike: 40:00
T2: 1:30
Run: 39:00
Total: 1:35:30

That still won't put me on a podium, but its a lot better than last year, and I hope I'm being conservative on both the bike and the run.


- 5 months til Rev3 Cedar Point means I'm only 4 1/2 months away from the fundraising deadline. Derek Hill, winner of the raffle I did a few weeks ago sold some of the prize items he didn't need and made an additional $67 donation to the cause. On top of being a generous human being, he's also working on some weight loss of his own, and a major league sports card junkie. It's an understatement to say we have a lot in common, and I was happy to know him even before he started donating towards my fundraising. 4 1/2 months might seem like a while, but right now I'm more concerned about hitting this goal than the preparation for the race itself.

- Tomorrow afternoon, I'm going on my annual casino trip with my buddy Dan. We're visiting the Foxwoods area again, hitting the 3 casinos there and enjoying some "dude time", though not in a Brokeback Mountain kind of way (not that there's anything wrong with that). Now that I am familiar with their gym equipment I'm coming better prepared to train while we're there. The weather is expected to be quite good, so I'm looking to run outside. My bike will be in the shop beginning tomorrow, so I'll be making use of the indoor bikes for my riding. Sadly their pool isn't big enough to do much with, so I'll have to make up a swim this weekend.

- If you haven't heard Lance Armstrong has sworn off Kona for this year. He's looking to race the Chicago Marathon not long before that time, and it's pretty hard to do both of those events. He's certainly doing all the training necessary to make the transition to full-iron triathlon. I still think he'll do a race or two before the end of 2011. Love him or hate him (or anywhere in between) his appearance in big time triathlon is good for everyone (except maybe the people waiting until the last minute to register for races he enters) in the sport. And then there's this new YouTube channel related to Armstrong twitter handle @juanpelota under which he posts triathlon related stuff.  Pretty funny.

Monday, April 11, 2011

0 for 3

There's a famous sports quote that goes "Second place is just the first loser". When you're actually in a position to win, as opposed to just being happy to be a competitor as I usually am; it's very much the right way to look at things. That's why seeing Michigan lose in the National Championship on Saturday felt like such a kick in the gut. After a sterling performance on Thursday, they just couldnt pull out the win on Saturday, even after taking the game to overtime. For both Rach and I, it was a reminder of the heartache of 3 weeks ago when her team lost in the women's national championship game.

Having a favorite team make it to both Men's and Women's national championship hockey games is great, but going 0 for 2 in those games wasn't the most fun thing ever to be sure.

My other goal for the weekend was to lose weight while I was gone. That was the 3rd strike, so to speak. But I do feel like there was some kind of moral victory there as well as I didn't gain any weight either. I weighed this morning before breakfast what I weighed on Friday before breakfast. It does mean I lost another 3 days of weight loss time before the NE Season Opener which is now just less than a week away.

I was pretty careful about my food choices for the most part; I only ate fried food for 2 meals, and I had vegetables at every meal except breakfast, during which I had fruit. I had dessert only once, and I had regular soda only once. Not perfect, but so much better than I've been during previous vacations. I made conscious choices at every meal to be careful of portion size and content.

I also managed to get workouts in on Friday and Sunday. 30 minute high intensity rides matched to a set fat-burning heart rate. Cadence never fell below 86 and maxed out at 106. I also swam twice on friday, though the second time was little more than goofing off. I didn't run this weekend; but we walked a lot! Several trips around all 3 floors of the Mall of America made me wish I had a pedometer  to track my mileage. My feet were pretty sore still on Saturday morning and I only had my worn out shoes so I figured better to skip a run than potentially cause an injury. I'm doubling up on workouts with a run and a swim on my normal rest day (Monday) to get that extra time back.

I'm really getting excited that we now have just a month left until race season starts.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Frozen Four

I'm going to be gone the next few days, in Minnesota for the Frozen Four. I have 2 goals; watch Michigan win the national championship, and come home weighing less than I left.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Work hard, lose weight, win contests

I will probably never be mistaken for a "gym rat". I don't mean that because of my appearance, simply the hours I spend training will probably never have anyone label me as someone who loves to work out. 

Sure, unlike a year ago today, I no longer hate running. I'm still not any good at it, but I don't completely hate it. Because I have a lot of things that I am slightly innately talented in, when I'm not good at something I usually don't put in the effort to get better at it. That's why though I am still quite slow, I'm also fairly proud of the fact that I continue to work on my running. 

Last night, I went to the gym to run; it rained a lot yesterday and there's no point in getting my new running shoes wet just for training. Week 4 of my Couch to 5k has 16 minutes of running in a 30 minute period. Last night, I did 2.5 miles in the 30 minutes. That's about what I have previously been able to do at race pace, but these workouts are include a fair amount of recovery (aka not fast) walking in between runs. My goal is still to be able to run a 30 minute 5k, and I'm making progress.

I followed that run up with a 42 minute swim. I had originally planned to swim for an hour with a goal of breaking 2100 yards inside the hour. Rach let me know before we left the house that she was planning on us swimming this morning, so I backed off last night and only did 1500 yards. I was on pace to be very close to 2100 inside an hour. I did a 300 yd warm up, then did 12x100 with 15 seconds rest each lap. I didn't do any cool downs, because my last couple hundred were plenty slow anyways.

I ate ok yesterday. Not great, but ok. I did a bit of stress eating, and I need to cut that out. Between a tough day at work, and learning Rachelle's brother will likely be in the hospital until at least Wednesday, and may need surgery to repair the problem with his lung, it was a tough day. Not only may Alex need surgery, but even without the surgery, he and Rachelle's dad may not be able to join us for the planned trip to the Frozen Four this weekend, which would really stink. We don't get to see them often enough as it is, and with Rach's dad and I becoming lawbreakers together (we trespassed on train tracks at the women's frozen four to get a good look at some trains), I am hopeful we can get into more mischief this weekend. 

Even with the only average eating, I still lost another pound, which means 5 pounds in a little over a week. My portion control is now to the point where I'm getting hungry between meals again, and needing small snacks to get through the day.

Oh, and the last thing; I won a contest. This will surprise almost no one who is a regular reader. This mornings tweets testify to this fact. First is the Loving the Bike tweet congratulating me, following by Bengi's response:

Name redacted to protect the funny...

So what did I win and how did I win it? Loving the Bike had a contest sponsored by Grease Monkey Wipes. They wanted to see "dirty pictures" of people with their bikes. I've only really been truly dirty on my bike a couple of times, and thankfully I have some good pictures from the Landmine Classic where I took a header and got covered in dirt. Here was my winning entry:
I think they just really liked my smile
People have often asked me how I am so lucky; some of that I can't control, but the one thing I can control is that I make the effort to enter. You can't win if you don't play. In this case I won a canister and a box of Grease Monkey Wipes. Now I don't have to worry about Rach's reaction when she sees me carrying the bike into the bathtub.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I finally had a HEALTHY weekend...

The past few weekends haven't really gone according to plan in terms of being healthy; I did fine with the workouts, but not so hot with the food intake. I was training hard, but it was like I was always playing catch up because of the amount of calories I was taking in. In fact, it was exactly like that. I decided this weekend needed to be different, that I was going to come into monday weighing the same or less than I did on Friday. No more weekend weight gain.

Friday night put a small crimp in my plans, as I had to take Rachelle out for dinner at a French restaurant near our house that I've been promising to take her to forever. This was her official birthday dinner (delayed by almost a week), and while I wasn't perfectly behaved (hello, dessert), I had more vegetables than I did meat or starches.

And that is the only bad food report for the entire weekend. I actually LOST a pound over the weekend.

Here's how good I did; Sunday, I even made a healthy double cheeseburger. 2 turkey patties, low-fat cheese, miracle whip light, and fiber one bread. 12 points, plus a bunch of fiber, so un-officially more like 10. And I didn't even eat the fries Rach baked for me with it. With a small breakfast, and a healthy light lunch, I had points left over at the end of the night and went to bed a little hungry.

The training also was strong this weekend, and with nice weather, I even managed to get in an outdoor bike ride on Saturday. This confirmed my suspicions that while I was somewhat indoor bike fit, my outdoor cycling has a ways to go. It also confirmed my bike is sorely in need of a tune up, with a pretty decent wobble in my front wheel. I purchased a deal on Tippr last week that provides a bike tune-up for $30 that includes everything from truing the wheels to taking apart the drive train and cleaning it. Plus, the company even provides a concierge service to pick up/drop off your bike when they fix it.

Back to the training for a minute; now that I'm using Training Peaks, I can track all of my workouts in a single place. Here's what last weeks workouts looked like in total:
This pie looks good enough to eat...
6 1/2 hours in training time for the week, but it could have been better. I missed one swim workout due to the shortened weekend pool hours at Fitrec, and my runs are usually half of what my training plan says as I am still working through my Couch to 5k plan. I started week 4 on Saturday, and it nearly doubled the amount of time spent running from week 3. Between that and the big dinner on Friday, let's just say this wasn't my fastest run ever, but I get another shot at it tonight.


- I finally got a chance to make good on my matching funds pledge for my Team Fight fundraising. Now I feel comfortable again asking people to give towards my goal. 

- Having 50 degree weather 2 days in a row made me feel spoiled. We're back into the rainy 40's this week again, so I'm taking advantage and sending the bike off for service today. I'll use the bike at the gym for my riding workouts during the time it's gone.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools day wasnt all that funny...

I had a great day yesterday, with a nice1 hour ride at the end of the day. Today, has not been so great

 Let's see, I think it happened in this order:

- It snowed last night, and after highs in the 50's this week, the high today was about 35
- The hamster bit me hard enough to draw blood when I fed her this morning
- Work was literally one of the most difficult days I've had in a long time, and I feel like my brain is jello
- Rachelles brother had a medical emergency and had to have emergency surgery. He's doing well now, but it was a weird end to a weird day.

We're going to dinner then hopefully to the gym, and to forget about the rest of this day.