3.18.2015

Oh, look...it's 2015!

Procrastination has gotten the best of me...plus the usual Winter doldrums that had me not feeling much like writing anything.  A week of warmer temps, sunshine, and rapidly melting snowcover always light a fire under my ass.  Not a raging inferno, but a happy little campfire, at least.  We've managed some outdoor rides (2 days ago I was in SHORTS, even!!) and I'm starting to give serious thoughts to yard work and what things to plant for 2015.  Milkweed to bring in more Monarch butterflies, for certain.  I missed them last year...not sure if it's the loss of milkweed that kept their #s so drastically low or the severely delayed Spring.  I suspect a combo of the two things.

11 weeks of progress
This Winter has found me keeping the workouts particularly low-key...The Sufferfest workouts have been few and far between and runs have been at a steady, ploddy pace.  It's not that I don't have races to train for -- I do -- but intense workouts and 400-500 calorie/day deficits don't support those sorts of efforts.  What they do support is nearly 16#s lost since Jan. 1.  I started at 158.5 and am currently sitting at 143.6#s.  I was busting out of my size 8 Lucky Brand Jeans, but am comfortably wearing some 6s, now.  Though Lucky's are pretty forgiving.  I think it will be another 5#s before other 6s in my "skinny wardrobe" (you know, the clothes a size or two too small that everyone has in plastic tubs, the back of drawers, and buried in the closet in hopes that they will fit in the future) will comfortably fit.  Maybe I'll see 4s at goal.

I'm suspecting that the lack of hardcore workouts won't hurt me much.  Dropping 10% of my body weight is no small feat and certainly should help make my get-along a bit speedier, especially once I do start doing more speed-specific training.

Once we return from our Spring Break trip in a few weeks I'll be making the transition from primarily ketogenic carbohydrate intake (think Atkins induction...high fat, moderate protein, tons of low-glycemic veggies, salads, etc.  Almost entirely whole foods) to a somewhat structured carb-cycling routine.  For now the Summer race season plan is to stay low-carb/low-cal on my easier workout days and reserving 1-2 days/week to eat at least maintenance calorie level calories and carbs.  These days will be scheduled around my hardest workouts and race schedule.  Once at goal I'll likely stay there by simply not eating like I have a feed bag strapped to my face.

My goal weight is 13#s away, 130.  Plugging my stats into body composition calculators puts me at 18-20% body fat at that weight -- depending on potential muscle loss (which often happens with the calorie deficit necessary to lose weight, unfortunately).  I'm hoping I'll break even on the muscle mass loss, since harder training always gives me an increase, so anything I lose should be regained, especially once I start with the higher calorie days.  If I comfortably fit into a size 4 at goal it will be with 5-6 more #s of weight on my frame than the last time I was in that size...because last time around (about a decade ago) I was "skinny fat."  This time around I'm going to be skinny FIT!!

I picked a pretty wise year to finally make this weight loss happen.  DH had major bunion surgery right around Christmas, so he was in recovery mode for a couple of months.  We're both working back to full fitness status.  As a result we are downgrading our tandem gravel road race in 10 days from the 36 mile option to the 21ish mile one.  We still are in strong podium contention...next year a spot on the 36 mile podium will be ours, no doubt!  Especially if we're both smaller people in 2016.

My most recent photo in the link below was ~2 years ago, at nearly the same weight I currently claim.  I think in another 3#s I'll need to photo document the 140 mark.  It's been a VERY long time since I saw that # on the scale.

12.30.2014

It's been a while...

Over a year since I last felt compelled to post anything.  It's also been just over a year since my far-too-young nephew passed away after a short battle with a brain stem tumor.  And only 5.5 weeks since my dad died after his own short battle (from diagnosis in early Oct. to death) with metastasized colon cancer.

To say the holidays have been made brutally depressing for my family would be a gross understatement.  We're auditioning a new holiday to make our own.  The family joke is now that we'll replace Thanksgiving/Christmas with Arbor Day.  That we're able to find any humor through all of this is pretty solid proof that we're a bunch of Viking badasses!

Life for the rest of us must go on and if there's one thing we've learned from my dad's short illness its that preventative medicine is of the utmost importance.  At nearly 70 he had never undergone a single colonoscopy and hadn't been to the doctor since his stroke ~7 years ago.  Denial doesn't prevent cancer or make it go away.

Dane on Deadpool
My hubby, kiddo, and I continue to do our best to avoid the same future fate.  Bikes and running shoes and goals of improving our diet and keeping up on our medical screenings have become necessities, not luxuries.  Dane ran cross-country this Fall and now has a new room-to-grow cyclocross bike (from 3rd Coast Cycles) for any 2-wheeled pursuits he hopes to pursue.  As soon as it's a bit warmer we'll get out for some gravel road rides and we'll encourage him to consider applying his running and cycling to a duathlon or two in the coming year.

The 20#s I needed to lose have now grown to closer to 30 (sitting at 158.5 as of yesterday's weigh), in large part due to stress eating over the past few months.  At nearly 42 years of age I know the longer I wait to rein-it-in, the more impossible it will be to get the weight off AND keep it off.  So more than any specific race/PR goals I have the goal of making weight loss my #1 priority, even if that means scaling back on training effort.  It's tough to put out hard efforts on a caloric deficit and tends to lead to "reward" eating, so my focus will likely be more on slower, steady efforts and less speed.  A lighter body will make the speed come without extra effort, so eyes on that prize is key.

I will still likely participate in many of the same events as last year...several sprint distance duathlons, an olympic distance, cyclocross, gravel tandem with the hubby, and ODRAM.  While I podium'd or even overall placed in all of the dus and the tandem races, that was largely the result of really small fields.  In the future I'd like to place better, faster, and feel less like I'm cherry-picking and doing well simply because I showed up.

10.22.2013

Huh...?

So I spent the last 4ish days feeling really...off.  Vertigo, nausea, lethargic, sinus stupidity, "general malaise."  Several people in my circle of local friends have been battling colds, so I had suspected that maybe I was coming down with something, but never really did.  I had that sore throat that generally precedes a cold, but then never got truly sick.  A few days ago I did a bike ride with a bunch of dudes on a semi-hilly route.  The sort of terrain that doesn't typically faze me too badly...but I felt just really horribly out-of-shape and lacking any ability to attack hills in the least.  Everything pointed to impending viral attack, but nothing really materialized fully.

I suspect it's simply been my body's way of saying "WTF is all this new shit you're throwing at me?!"  I'm guessing that the vertigo and nausea were common side effects of Prometrium.  Fortunately I feel pretty "normal" today.

I also just started Symbicort for my asthma.  My allergist wasn't all that impressed with the effectiveness of even high doses of Qvar (similar drug, but lacking long-acting bronchodilator--simply an inhaled steroid), so is having me switch.  I must say that I'm very suspicious that my recent cold-like symptoms could be due to this med.  I was on a similar medication, Advair, for maybe 8-9 months several years ago.  And was sick all the friggin' time!!  The worst effect of that was chronic oral thrush.  Fortunately I can use a spacer device with Symbicort, which should help with that.  I hope it doesn't beat my immune system up as badly as Advair did, though.  It really sucks when the "cure" is worse than the illness.

Today I'm generally feeling a lot more like myself, so hopefully any negative effects from the Prometrium are behind me.  It can take a cycle or two for a woman's body and natural hormone levels to settle-down with this stuff.  In the short term it can actually cause a woman's system to pump out even higher levels of estrogen.  This peri-menopause business is not for the weak!  I have my fingers-crossed that the next cycle will be a little easier to bear.  But even if I have 3-4 "off" days/28 I can deal with that.  It still beats the alternative.

And I never did hear back re: the ovarian cancer screen blood work I had done, so I am assuming that no news is good news.  I'm still pretty weirded-out by the thought of a kiwi-sized cyst in my belly, though.  I hope that sucker just shrinks on its own.  At this point if it doesn't seem like it's going anywhere or if it appears to grow I will have it and its defective ovarian buddy removed sometime in the coming month or two.

I've lost 3-4#s since this was taken...still need less ME, over
Now I need to feel solid this weekend -- I have races both Saturday (gravel road on the back of our tandem with my hubby) and a cyclocross race on Sunday.  The Halloween race.  This year I hopefully don't have a jacked-up back.  I'll be wearing the "costume" I bought for that race last year and never ended up wearing.

I have lost some weight in recent weeks (like maybe 4ish #s, or so).  Running and biking on calorie deficit are also likely to blame for my craptacular workouts.  I have to keep reminding myself that the end result will be a faster runner and cyclist, even if it means sacrificing many months to less-than-stellar training.  I've got about 16#s left to lose.  On my shorty frame that will make a big difference and likely have me dropping 2 sizes.  Now to behave myself over the holidays...

10.17.2013

The Honeymoon is Over

While our trees are about at peak Fall color, we're also getting a taste of true Autumn weather -- not "Indian Summer," but Fall slop.  Last night our weekly Weds. Night Gravel Ride was semi rained-out. We managed >20 miles, but it was hard-fought, slow, cold, and wet.  There were a lot of UNfun moments on the back of the tandem with bald tires, too.  Downhills through loose, gravely mud are scary.  Uphills on the same terrain are extra hard as the wet sand-slop sucks at our tires.  Add to that the fact that it's dark and spitting in our faces.  Running in the rain is mostly pretty fabulous.  Biking in it...not horrible if it's Summer, but in the low-50s it's challenging to not become horribly chilled.

Monday night was also a gravel road ride from the impending bike shop.  Most of us ended up underdressed, so we were actually colder by the finish of that ride than we were last night.  One of the difficulties of dressing for the weather in the Spring and Fall is that the temperature swing from the beginning of a ride to the finish can be pretty drastic.  It's easy to be over or under-dressed, depending upon whether one is riding in the early AM or just prior to dusk.

Me, MC, Heather, Kaat
Sunday was another fun Kisscross cyclocross race and redeemed a course that I really loathed last year (and was the straw that "broke" this camel's back for about 3 weeks, last season).  It was also the first race for our 3rd Coast Racing team with legitimate kits!  We only had 5 gals in the C race (which has me pretty bummed.  I think we had about a dozen women in the first race of the season, but it seems like 4-5 is the number of C women competing most weeks.  I think that's about half the # of competitors we were seeing for most of last season.  I can't help but wonder if the relative difficulty of the course for the first race has a lot to do with this.  There were several individuals on brand new bikes who have never been back.  Even as a semi-experienced CX racer I was not thrilled to see courses that so heavily favored mountain bikes), but we placed 1, 2, 4 (that was me in 4).

Scott's first B race...my hubby in hot pursuit!
I believe we still have 3 races left, including the Halloween race in about a week-and-a-half.  My goal is to simply not be the last C woman for any remaining races.

I had a lot of fun shooting our team members during the B race.  I think I'll be bringing my big ol' DSLR to all of the races in the future.  Contemplating a new lens, too.  My 50mm is too short and doesn't yield the sort of depth-of-field results that I like, even shooting at f/1.8.  My 100mm does a nice job, but I have to stand WAY back...and then people invariably end up standing in front of me, not realizing the chick with the camera a mile from the action is actually shooting.  My short Tokina zoom is nice for portraiture, but too slow-focusing for sports.  A fast Canon zoom would cost as much as a new bike.  So I'm eyeballing a fast 85mm Canon prime lens.  Christmas is coming!

Still no word on the ovarian cancer blood test I had last week, so I'm assuming no-news-is-good-news. Were my results positive for a cancer marker I'm certain they would have called me, already.  I have an appt. in a couple of weeks with an OB/gyn surgeon.  I really hope they recommend simply taking that ovary and its big cyst buddy out as soon as cyclocross season is over.  I'd probably even be fine with leaving the uterus in place if there was no evidence of anything too amiss, at this point.  Removing the ovary would be a no-big-deal recovery.  Even laparoscopic or vaginal removal of my uterus would likely have me down for a month, minimum.  And right now we're planning on an epic New Year's Eve bash at Casa Bikestra™ with our 3rd Coast Racing teammates.

And a lot will probably rest on how well the Prometrium (bio-identical progesterone) works to eliminate/minimize a lot of miserable peri-menopause and endometriosis symptoms.  I'm hoping this stuff is like a miracle drug.  So far I'm 3 doses in and have 0 side-effects.

Speaking of miracle drugs, I visited the allergist yesterday.  They want to do further deep-skin testing to screen for mold, trees, and grass.  I have a feeling I would trigger at least 2 of the 3.  My mom has mold allergies.  And Spring is generally Hell on my sinuses.

The allergist is also starting me on Symbicort, since even crazy high doses of inhaled steroid (Qvar 80mg, 2 puffs 2x/day) aren't putting my lung function where it should be and I have "obstructed" lungs.    Symbicort is steroid + long-acting bronchodilator.  The steroid brings down airway swelling and the bronchodilator further opens airways (like a rescue inhaler, but for more than a couple of hours).  The funny part of this is when they ask me how my breathing feels to me I always find it to be pretty decent, but the spirometer tests tell a different story.  My lung function has been so awful for so long that I don't even have any concept of what it would be like to have acceptable air intake.  I have to wonder what I'd be capable of with normal lungs...

I also wonder what I'd be capable of with a leaner bod.  I'm working on that.  I'm down 5#s in about the past month or so and about 4#s over my lowest recent weight -- back when I was newly out of my long-arm cast.  I'm currently about 16#s from where I'd like to be (130#s).  I think I'm going to start doing photos at 5# intervals -- in the same sports bra/shorts -- to see just how transformative those pounds lost are.  I'm at that point where every few pounds can be pretty apparent on a relatively small frame.  Even with the 5-6#s I've lost in the last couple of months I'm seeing my midsection flatten and my face looks slimmer (bat-wings are still stubborn as hell).  Keeping motivation in the face of tasty eats is crucial!!

10.11.2013

Kiwis (the fruit, not people from NZ) are dumb.

2 days ago I had a message on my voicemail to call my OB/gyn's office back re: recent pelvic ultrasound (aka "dildo-cam") results.  The ultrasound had been ordered by the PA I recently saw to get a look at some small fibroid(s); to help determine whether or not I need a hysterectomy or if simply adding 200mg of Prometrium™/bio-identical progesterone will combat annoying-as-hell peri-menopause symptoms.  First thing yesterday AM I talked to one of the nurses at the office and she said I have "a 'kiwi-sized' 'cystic mass'" on my right ovary.  Oh joy.

The term "cystic mass" is horribly ambiguous.  Anything cystic in nature falls under this umbrella.  By definition ovulation creates a cyst.  But cysts can be benign or they can be cancerous.  At my age and given my history of endometriosis it's highly unlikely that it's "the big C," but still...until I know for certain, yeah, my brain keeps going to worst-case scenarios. And since the blood test they do to try to narrow things down can throw false positives when a woman has endo, there's some probability that I won't know anything for sure without removal and biopsy.  I had lab work done yesterday, but have yet to hear anything.  The waiting is gonna suck. I have an appt. with an OB/gyn on 11/4...I'm guessing if the blood work comes back sketchy that we'll be scheduling surgery. That may be the case either way (I may just opt to have this ovary and my uterus out now. I'm 40 and done with baby makin'). Looks like I might be missing the last cyclocross race (or two) of the season for the 2nd year running if the doctor determines that surgery needs to happen ASAP. If it doesn't appear to be cancerous or in any other way risky I'll likely schedule surgery as soon as CX season is done.

This finding does explain some various symptoms I've had over the past few months, the bulk of which I chalked-up to the stress of moving.  I'm guessing this cyst developed right around the time we moved, so 6-7 months ago.  At this point I'm guessing the doc is going to recommend surgery or waiting a month or two to see if there is any change, assuming it's a straightforward cyst.  If it's a cyst caused by endometriosis (an endometrioma, which is my suspicion), then it will almost certainly require surgery.

I've even lost close to 5ish pounds in the past month or two without huge effort...I should be overjoyed by this, but it makes me sorta nervous, as I've never ever had an easy time losing weight -- certainly not without obsessively logging every morsel that passes my lips.  Unexplained weight loss is a symptom of ovarian cancer (but so is exhaustion and I've not had that in any noticeable way, which is greatly reassuring.  In fact, some of my strongest runs all year have been in the past week or so, thanks in part to blissful and cooler Fall weather).  Fuck me to tears if the only way I can drop pounds is to have a potentially deadly tumor on-board.  Seriously...just fuck that!

Bikestras™ on our bicycle built for 2!
I hope whatever is going on that it's not something that will require going under the knife ASAP (assuming that it's not cancer.  In the event of cancer I, of course, want that evil out of me yesterday!).  DH and I are registered for a gravel road race on our tandem...this would be my first ever gravel race AND race on a tandem.  It's only about 2 weeks away.  This would be my last shot at a big race in 2013.  The long-course duathlon I had recently been registered for was cancelled due to lack of registrations and volunteers.  Bummer.  I was really looking forward to it and feel pretty strong (for me) on uphills after our JDRF century ride in the hills on the Natchez Trace near Nashville.  I was looking forward to representing 3rd Coast Racing (in our swaggy new kit, seen at right) with at least an age group podium spot.

We've been taking out the tandem most Weds nights with many from our 3rd Coast Racing team (we rode this past Monday night, too, so lately I've been logging most of my bike miles on the back of the tandem in the dark...it's a surreal experience much of the time, for sure).  I'm over the worst of my earlier abject terror.  Super-fast steep downhills with loose gravel/sand still have me feeling about to shit myself, though.  I don't know if it's helpful that I can't see where we're going or not.