Ironwoman Dreams

If I can do this, anyone can.

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The “Raw”, But Poignant End: A Diet Story

I feel like I am being a bit misleading, writing about the end of my intended two-week raw diet at what would be the actual end of my two-week raw diet, when actually, my two-week raw diet was only one week long. Why? Well, apparently, detoxing after doing an ironman isn’t as good of an idea as I had thought.

Trying to run after an Ironman distance race is an experience. Even when you feel fit and healthy, and like you can actually run a distance, your body surprises you by breaking down mid-way through, or going at a pace much slower than what you’re used to doing. Combine that with a low carb, lower protein diet, and it’s definitely not a good situation. Even now, I struggle to go a full hour, both mentally and physically, and to go at a 9-10 min pace is, at times, laughable at that distance.

I read through one of my favorite raw athlete’s blog FAQ when trying to figure out whether I should continue going raw, and discovered that he took a full year off of training after going raw because, he said, that the detox symptoms were just too intense. I knew I was making the right move by cutting things short.

The good news is that I DID get something out of it. My appetite is regulated, and my monstrous desire for sweet and carby snacks has gone away. My daily energy has returned and my mood has shifted to a much more healthy and upbeat one. I no longer wish to hide from the world and cry, which is awesome.

Further, I’ve decided that I’m going to do Wildflower Long Course again next year, and work on having fun and being fitter, faster and stronger. I’ve started to re-add Pilates to my life, and maybe I’ll do some kickboxing, just to mix things up in the off-season. I’m holding off on any marathons until after Wildflower. Next year, I may do Catalina again in November, followed by the Avalon 50-miler in January. I will always and forever be a runner at heart. Now, if only my body would recover so that I can be one for real again…*sigh* Patience is a virtue.



Raws III: A Healthy Story

(I’m a day behind, but here is my update on how it’s going, from yesterday):


Raw Diet Day 3:

Wow, I’m really surprised at the amount of concern this raw “cleanse” has raised from friends and family, and kind of, I don’t know, sad, I guess, in that people wouldn’t trust me to have done my own research and blindly plunged myself into some unhealthy diet.


I guess I’ll address some of the concerns raised:


1)   It’s not enough calories. Eating so few calories will permanently damage your metabolism. Trust me, between the protein powder, nuts, avocados and fruit, I am getting enough calories, but let’s break it down:


Yesterday, I had:


1 double-powder protein shake with ½ avocado + small banana: 410 calories


1 clementine: 35 calories
21 almonds: 150 calories


lunch salad w/onion, sprouts, tomato, celery, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and red wine vinegar: 250 calories

Melon and grape cup: 100 calories


Peach: 60 calories


Half avocado: 170 calories

Salad with dried cranberries and walnuts: 223 calories

Glass of red wine: 125 calories

Total calories: 1503


Technically, for me to lose even 2 lbs per week, I have consume a net of less than 1200 calories. At 1500 calories, I’m not starving myself. Granted, I don’t have a glass of red wine every night (it was a work function), but still. Yes, it’s a lean diet, but it’s not going to screw up my metabolism, especially if I keep up the vigorous exercise.


2)   There’s too much sugar in this diet because of all of the fruit you’re eating.

Yes, there is sugar in fruit, and sugar is sugar, regardless of whether it’s cake or a banana. However, the difference is in how the body reacts. Fructose does not cause the same spike in insulin as sucrose (sugar) does. Plus, fruit contains fiber and water, which aid digestion.


The truth is that most Americans do not consume enough fruit, so it’s not something I’d eliminate from my diet. Is it a good idea to keep the higher sugar fruits and veggies at a limit? Probably not a bad idea, so keep it to things like berries and melons and save bananas and apples for once a day.


3)   You’re not getting enough protein. This is the one I hear the most, and I completely understand and validate this concern. Again, let’s look at numbers. My breakfast shake contains 32 grams of protein alone. I require around 60 grams. I consumed 54 yesterday, a little short, but not horrible.


Additional points I’d like to make:

–       It is not a “diet” to try to lose weight (i.e. I am not some Los Angeles body-loathing pseudo hippie who goes raw under the guise of health, when all she really wants to do is eat 400 calories a day and get away with it)


–       I am only doing this for two weeks

–       I am doing this to help with my digestion issues and refined sugar addiction caused by the high-carb Ironman diet


–       I have done this before, for three weeks, and I felt amazing afterward (and during)


Anyway, it’s day three and guess how I feel. I feel great! My energy has returned, full force, and my mood has lifted tremendously. This morning, we embarked on a vigorous, hilly bike ride, and I had a blast. Last night, I only woke up once, so the sleep is getting better.

What amazes me is how good my willpower is. I had read once that willpower is like any muscle, that it must be exercised regularly in order to get stronger. Last night, I attended a work social function, where we ordered from a tasty menu of appetizers. Of course, pretty much everything was cooked. I ordered the salad that had the least amount of extras on it, told them hold the cheese and dressing on the side. I had a glass of cabernet, and munched and sipped while people scarfed delicious-smelling hot food right under my nose. As much as I craved a plate of truffle French fries, I felt solid in the knowledge that I was doing something healthy for myself, and, the truth is, greasy fries are a dime a dozen, but good health is priceless.

As a side note, I really do appreciate people’s concerns and input, because I know it’s coming from a good place, but also know that I would never do anything to physically harm myself. I may be crazy, but not that crazy! 🙂

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Raw: A Diet Story

(Sorry for the lack of pix lately–for random images of fruits and veggies, please see Instagram) ;p

Day 1 Raw Report: In the weeks leading up to this raw diet, I’ve experienced a strong case of post-IM depression. It was all I could do to remain upright and not drag myself around like a midday slug. There were moments when I refused to connect emotionally with anyone at any time. I just wanted to be alone. But, then, when I was alone, I felt crushing loneliness, the kind that almost makes you physically ache.

The night before the morning of my raw “cleanse”, I was up and down all night, having nightmares and existential panic attacks. My alarm sounded at 5 a.m. and I almost, almost retreated back to sleep instead of getting ready for swim class, but I knew that I needed to get back in that pool (“Three weeks off becomes three months off”, Coach Brad had stated, and it rung in my sleep-addled skull).

One small banana pre-swim, instead of a small granola bar. Still, my energy level dropped mid-swim, while we slogged through stroke and bilateral breathing drills again and again. Let me say, for the record, that drills are not my thing, although I did get pretty good at that stupid Shark Switch drill that Holly always managed to stick into those IronTeam workouts.  I will admit that the Extended Doggie Paddle drill that Mikey made us do really helped with my catch and pull, but, still…Grr.

After the swim, I came home and made myself a raw protein shake with raw protein powder, a banana, and this new probiotic coconut water I had picked up at Whole Foods. For the record also, probiotic coconut water is sick. It’s like sticking a straw in a coconut, only to discover that someone has vomited in it. Not doing that again. Nope, nope.

I managed to slug down that whole shake (shudder), and then packed up some snacks to prepare myself for the long journey of potential starvation: one peach, two Clementines and 21 raw almonds. You never know what the day can bring.

This was also the first morning I’d be without my beloved coffee. Let me say, again, for this record, I LOVE coffee. I love how it tastes, how it smells, I love how it gives me that little pick-me-up in the morning, after I’ve been up at some ungodly hour of the morning for a workout. Coffee is my friend, and I was going to have to do without it for two whole weeks. Sadness.

Green tea was a poor substitute, a pale charade of a caffeinated beverage. I was practically falling asleep in meetings later that morning. Luckily, I managed to stay awake through lots of water drinking (and trips to the loo), and by consuming a Clementine and some almonds.

For lunch, I am lucky that our cafeteria has a salad bar and fresh fruit. I grabbed a cup of assorted melons to accompany my spring mix, broccoli, onion, tomato, olive, and sunflower seed salad, sprinkled with lemon juice. To drink, (regular) coconut water.

By the time I returned home, I was exhausted. I didn’t even have the energy to tidy my apartment. Sloggy, slow, still depressed, and feeling bloated, I mashed an avocado with some lime juice and garlic, and smooshed it into some raw kale for dinner. I ate the remaining peach for dessert and felt disgustingly full.

Today (Day 2), has been slightly better. My sleep was still crummy, but my mood is a little bit elevated, so that’s good. I’m hoping that getting a good night’s sleep will help regulate things a bit. I have a bike ride slated for tomorrow morning. We’ll see how it goes…

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The Weighty Aftermath: A Post-Ironman Story

When I started this journey, I definitely had an image of what an IronWoman looked like –rippling abs, lean, strong limbs, sun-kissed skin—but, as time stretched on, I discovered that chiseled muscles were a lot harder to get, and that extra fat was a lot easier to gain than I thought.

You might say: Whaaatt? You burned, like, 12,000 calories in a single weekend, and you GAINED weight?  How is that even possible?!?!

When you look at things from the perspective of how much exercise you’re putting your body through, it seems unfathomable that a person could ever eat that many calories. Still, as we all know, those pesky calories can add up, and, if you’re not careful (which is difficult to be when you’re training , and I’ll explain why), you will end up consuming more calories than you burn, even (and especially) in the final weeks of training.

During the first 3-5 months of Ironman training, I began to lose a bit of the bulge that I’d accumulated over the holiday season (I stepped on the scale in December, only to be greeted by quick and dirty 10 lbs of post-marathon flub).  While training continued to ramp up, I started to feel a bit more “back to normal”, size-wise. I followed my cravings, and, mostly, my cravings steered me toward healthy foods, like protein-packed salads, or low-carb items like meat (I was never a big meat eater before, but I craved steak like crazy).  Most of what I craved wasn’t heavily fatty or carb-y, although I did enjoy dessert more often because, heck, when else would I get that kind of caloric “freebie”?

Somewhere along the way, something began to change. I began to crave carbs like a ravenous sugar monster. Sweets, cookies and pasta didn’t stand a chance against my crazy appetite. I could eat a huge plate of pasta and NOT be disgustingly stuffed afterward, merely pleasantly satisfied. It was a problem. My body began to respond, and puff up, and my jeans got tighter.  At first, I told myself that maybe it was just water weight from all of the electrolytes we’d been consuming, but pretty soon, the weight gain was undeniable. This past month, I had to squeeze to button jeans that had previously been baggy on me.

Why did things switch? Well, I am not a doctor, but I have a theory. While cycling, triathletes must consume a cocktail of calories, carbs and electrolytes, typically in liquid format, and, on really long rides, some of us also consume some kind of high-calorie bar. We consume, on average, about 300 calories/hour on that bike. For a five-hour ride, that’s 1500 calories of pure sugar.  Yes, we need it, and yes, we use it, but that sets the body into motion for craving high levels of sugar to sustain itself.

During the week, my body screamed for sugar. On top of that, the sheer amount of exercise caused the hunger beast to rear its head 24/7. At times I would eat a full meal, only to have the wild hunger beast clawing at my stomach an hour later. It was insane.

It wasn’t so much what I ate on weekends, but what I ate during the week, that, I am pretty sure, caused me to pack on weight. Work’s cafeteria became a way for me to dive into all of the forbidden foods I would never have consumed regularly pre-IM training: creamy fettuccini alfredo, savory crepes filled with cheese and egg, burritos with cheese and sour cream, au gratin potatoes (you get it—the cheese and carbs are kind of my thing). At night, I could gulp down a whole package of organic whole grain mac & cheese, or a huge plate of cheese ravioli. And let’s not forget dessert: a giant cookie every day at lunch, and some sort of chocolate or ice cream at home.

No, I didn’t really try to curb my eating habits while training. I had come so far after my binge eating problem to train myself to listen to my body and what it was craving, that I didn’t want to be unnecessarily hard on myself. It wasn’t like I was gaining a huge amount of weight, and, by the time I realized it, the season was almost over anyway. I figured, “Eh, let me have this one time in my life to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. When am I going to have this opportunity again?”

 So, here we are, at post-Ironman weight, a number of which I have no idea, because I never step on a scale (I’m guessing 15 lbs, since it takes 15 lbs to go up one whole pant size). Still, it’s not the kind of weight where it’s very noticeable to the outsider, the kind of weight where mean girls talk behind your back about the expansion of your rear view. Ideally, I’d like to drop 20-25 lbs to be the best me I can be. Here’s the rub: the cycle of carb addiction. While I’m no longer consuming vast amounts of sugary beverages every weekend, my body still likes carbs a bit too much and wants me to eat them.

I’ve dealt with this before, when breaking my binge eating cycle (also mainly due to carb addiction), and I’ll go about changing my habits the same way that I did before. For two weeks, I will go on a raw food “cleanse” (I hate that word—it’s so hippie dippy), to eliminate all of the effects of the processed and refined sugars and foods in my body. It worked magnificently last time, and I was able to crave healthy foods again afterward. Unlike crazy L.A. dieters, I don’t expect any huge weight loss, but if that kick-starts me and makes me feel a bit less bloated and gross, then, yay.

It’s not any strict diet, but simply raw fruits, veggies and nuts, in unlimited supply (except for avos, coconuts, nuts and bananas, which can be really caloric), with a naturally sweetened, low sugar protein shake (made with water or juice) for breakfast, plus plenty of sleep and regular exercise. Any condiments are limited (although red and white wine vinegar and lemon are sometimes okay).

Afterward, I will incorporate cooked foods, spices and more proteins for a week, and, eventually, will go back to eating select whole grains, and even the occasional treat, listening and keeping an active dialogue with my body to figure out whether I really NEED a certain food, or whether it’s just a passing craving.

Luckily, the exercise will be ramping back up as well. Last week, I had a fun hour+ long bike ride with friends (and Coach Brad, who made us do one Amalfi hill loop-grr), and this morning I got in a 25-min run (which was much less painful than I thought it would be). This week, it’ll be swimming, more running, more cycling, and maybe some Pilates thrown in, just to mix it up. Let the reverse taper begin!


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Lost In A Dream: A Post-Race Story

One of the most common ailments of Ironmen and women is “The Post-Ironman Blues”, usually a combo of melancholy, restlessness, and mental strife that comes after devoting your mind, body and spirit to something for nine or more months, only to have it all end abruptly after one colossal tidal wave of a day washes over your life and strips it bare again.

The hilarity I find in this is that we spend these nine months fantasizing about what our lives will be after it’s all over, and we have “all of the free time in the world to do whatever we want.” I dreamed of re-organizing my apartment, taking hikes with the dog, getting back into Pilates, painting, taking woodworking classes, music concerts, going to art shows, enjoying the beach, and so much more. One week post Ironman, I have made no moves to do any of these things. I still can’t get enough sleep. Furthermore, this void, this nothingness, feels unnatural. I thought that I could go back to being the me that I was before I started this. The truth is, I cannot go back. Something in me is forever changed. I don’t know what that means, and how I can fit into the “normal” world again, but I guess that it’s safe to say that I feel a little bit lost.

The only thing that I have planned is a marathon, because I know for certain that running is a part of me now, but what else? What next? Who am I? What do I want? These questions I never thought that I’d be asking myself at 33 years of age. I thought that I’d had these things figured out before now. Now, without that looming goal in front of me, and all of the little goals in-between, I’m having to re-define myself.

Of course, people keep asking whether I’ll want to “seek revenge” on the Vineman course next year. While there is a part of me who wants to know what it feels like to cross an Ironman finish line, I felt happy with everything that I accomplished. I have no regrets out there on the course. If I hadn’t finished the bike course, I would have been filled to the gills with regrets, but I accomplished what I set out to do. So, what next? Do I pick out another Ironman and set my sites on it, or do I find other goals and come back to it later?

It’s all a big question mark, but I do know that I’m no longer the same person I was when I started this journey. I am more patient with myself, more grateful, and tough as nails, to boot. I can do anything that I put my mind to. The world is my oyster and I have a feeling that there are still a lot more pearls to discover about myself.

What now?

What now?