Sunday, September 28, 2008

"AT" REHAB, "AT" TRAINING: The next 6 weeks

Photo thanks to Photo Everywhere

Here's my rehab and training program as prescribed by my physical therapist. I'm just about to start Week 3. All miles are walking. I started slowly but am up to 3 - 3.5mph now. I get to do a 2-miler this week!!!

Week 1: 1-mi X 3 -- Total Miles: 3 (Done!)
Week 2: 1-mi walk X 4 -- Total Miles: 4 (Done!)
Week 3: 1-mi X 3, 2-mi X 1 -- Total Miles: 5
Week 4: 3-mi; 2-mi; 1-mi -- Total Miles: 6
Week 5: 3.5-mi; 1.5-mi; 2-mi -- Total Miles: 7
Week 6: 2-mi X 4 -- Total Miles: 8
Week 7: 4-mi; 3-mi; 2-mi; 1-mi -- Total Miles: 10
Week 8: 4-mi X 2; 2-mi X 2 -- Total Miles: 12

I have a tentative schedule right up till the last week of March. I'll post more of it another time. I'm planning to start hiking the Trail on April 1. No jokes, please....

Friday, September 26, 2008


Don't know if you remember (I do know it'd take me forever to find the post), but awhile back I decided to focus, not so much on weight loss but on waist size, since my muscle mass might throw off my BMI (not that I'm that muscular, but I do have some...) Also, waist/height ratio is now being used as one of the markers for cardiovascular risk -- you're supposed to be at no more than 0.5 on this, preferably less.

When I started, my waist was at 30.5 inches, my ratio exactly 0.5, and was going to aim for 28 and a ratio of 45.9 (I'm 5'1".)

Well, my waist is currently 27.5 and my ratio is 45.8.

This puts me in very good standing. My BMI, although not stellar, is at least "normal" (below 25) at 24.2 (started at 27.4.) However, as I said, you can't always tell from that, if the person has muscle; I'm not Ms. Atlas or anything but I've been doing upper-body work all summer, as well as isotonic/isometric stuff in PT to help maintain my leg strength in the absence of running and biking.

Maybe I should mention that I've lost an inch from my hips as well, in addition to other areas where it may or may not be desirable to lose but we all know that a girl's best two points are always the first to go when weight loss happens.

Since starting controlled-carbohydrate eating, the beginning of July, my HDL (the "good" cholesterol) has skyrocketed from 43 to 76 (supposed to be over 40); my triglycerides (one of the "bad" blood fats) plummeted from 128 (supposed to be under 100) to 56.

Unfortunately, my LDL and total cholesterol went up. A lot. Not sure what happened there, except that the leap in HDL would drive the total count up, but as for the LDL, I don't know why that went up. It was supposed to go down on low-carb.

My total cholesterol/HDL ratio is better than it was before. So's my LDL/HDL. Ratios are considered at least as important as raw numbers, and my ratios improved. My doctor doesn't like my total cholesterol and LDL, though. I don't either. Seems like something is working but something else isn't.

So I'm keeping my carbs low to hopefully maintain my great HDL and triglycerides, but doing away with the beef, bacon, butter and whole eggs I was eating, going with very lean meat/poultry/tofu and monounsaturated fats (e.g. olive oil.)

And as I progress in my exercise again -- with increased biking and walking moving up a mile or so a week, I should see some improvements that may have been frustrated by my relative lack of activity all summer.

Weight? Which is supposed not to be so important? It still matters to me. I'm having a hard time shifting the emphasis off it. I lost 11 pounds in the first month of low-carb. Then when I started adding to my carbohydrate intake (often by cheating with ice cream and candy, I will admit.... addicted, can't stay away) I regained 3, but I have maintained that weight. So I'm 8 pounds below where I started almost 3 months ago.

I love that 2.5 inches off my waist.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


OK, I've let this slide for awhile. But now I want to get back to that trip to 100 consecutive pushups.

On Monday, I cranked out 46 in a row, new PR. This was after a week or so of doing none, and haphazard bursts of them in the two or three weeks before that. I haven't been following the program.

So I started again today, sort of randomly choosing week 4. Sets go like this: 21, 25, 21, 21, max possible (at least 32.)

I did the first 4. I'm in my rest interval before going for the max. I'll let you know how I do.

OK! May I have the envelope, please? Drum roll..... 35! 3 above "minimum max" after having already done 88, total of 123.
I do better to wait 2 or 3 days in between pushup days. So my next one will be Sunday or Monday. On that day, the schedule calls for: 25, 29, 25, 25, max (at least 36.)
We'll see.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I've got the food dehydrator running with smallish amounts of foods to reconstitute/recook and eat to see how they turn out. A sliced-up orange (will eat that w/o rehydrating), some cooked lentils (to see if they cook faster after being precooked and dried), brown rice precooked in the same way for instant rice on the cheap, and a recipe for pesto I found in Trail Food, a really nice simple book I found at the library.

I'm getting a yen to pack up my pack and a week's worth of food, ask our campground owner/manager/my boss for a tent site, and live in my tent out of my backpack on dried food cooked on my camp stove for a week. Because (confession time here) I've never done it for more than overnight.

Well... maybe 5 days. That's about what I figure between town trips on the Appalachian Trail.


I seem determined to demolish my feet this summer.

A week ago today, Steve and I were walking into a sidewalk restaurant, and I stepped on an uneven crack and rolled my ankle.
When we were seated, I asked the server for a bag of ice, which I kept on my ankle while we ate. When we got our check, she had handwritten on the register tape, "Ice Bag $20.00." Steve gawked, "$20 for the ice bag????" I looked at the tape and said, "No, she's joking -- see, the total is still $24.95." He let his breath out. When the waitress came back, I asked her, "Who's the wise guy?" She laughed and said, "Did you like that?"

It reminded me of the Neiman-Marcus Cookie Recipe story: The woman so enjoyed the chocolate-chip cookie in the NM restaurant that she asked if she could buy the recipe, which the server said she could for two-fifty, and when the woman got her bill, her credit card had been charged two hundred and fifty dollars for the recipe. The story has been relegated to urban-legend status, but the cookies are incredible, and you should click the above link, follow the recipe, and make yourself some.

Anyway, for the past week, I've been ICE'ing my ankle. RICE = Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation; I've been doing all but the "rest" part, since I'm "resting" already due to my tendonitis rehab, and my physical therapist wants me to continue the rehab program as much as possible even with the added complication of the sprained ankle. It's not a really bad sprain. Just a little swelling and soreness, no bruising. If I weren't already injured, if I'd been training normally, I'd have skipped running for maybe 2 days and then gone back to business as usual, which my therapist agrees with in this case, since business as usual is an every-other-day one-mile walk plus stretches.

So here I sit after today's one-mile walk, with my ankle squooshing a bag of frozen peas up against the side of the desk, so I can multi-task. At least I'm not on the computer at the expense of treating my ankle. When I'm done blogging, I'll elevate it.

This week's training program:
1-mile walk on 4 days; 2 upper-body workouts; biking as tolerated (yay!)

Next week:
1-mile walk on 3 days, and one TWO-MILE walk. Hoo!! Plus upper-body, and biking as desired.

I am SO relieved to be past the merely more-or-less-ambulatory stage. Now as long as something else doesn't happen....

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Showed up for my 9:00a.m. physical therapy appointment, and found out it wasn't till 10.

So I went to the gym, 15 minutes away. A warmup round of presses with 8-pound dumbbells, then into pushups. Must be tired from yesterday, I could only manage 25. Over to the cable row, did 20 with arms together at a low-ish weight. Then I hopped on the stationary bike and pedaled 5 minutes, level 7 of 25, 90rpm's average.

Then another set of pushups. Wow.... maybe it was the vigorous biking that got my blood pumping. I passed 25 easily and went to.... drum roll please.... FORTY SIX! The highest number of consecutive pushups I've done yet. 46!!! Yay!!!

Back to the bike for 3 minutes, then 25 more pushups. Bike again, then 29 pushups for a total of 125. I like my numbers to be rounded off -- 5's, 10's, or a multiple of 3, an OCD-type of thing -- and had some confusion over the 29. Should I do one more and make it 30? But that would give me a total of 126 and I like 125. But for 25 I have to make that last set 29, which doesn't end in a 5 or 0. GACK!!! I left it at 29, total of 125, the world didn't come to an end.

In PT at the correct time, warmed up for 7 minutes on the treadmill, reaching 3.5mph for the last 30 seconds, then all my stretches and calisthenics. I'm doing eccentrics in a leg machine, one leg at a time at 20 pounds. Today was a "How many can you do" test and I managed 55 with each leg. I imagine I'll move up to more weight next time.

I get to walk one mile 4 days this week. And I'm cleared now for biking as tolerated, no restriction on mileage or gearing.... just common sense in not going all out.

Things are looking up in the tendonitis department.

Then back home to a quick lunch, cleaned the shower houses and a few other areas from 1-3, home for a break, then off to care for Thomas, the 2-yr-old son of the managers, from 5-9.

Tomorrow I plan a 1-mile walk and a bike ride. I hope.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Photo by Darrell Cavey at

So after wanting for 2 years to do this world's most difficult half-IM, being excited about it for months, registering in February, being devastated to be out of training with tendonitis for the summer.... the race was today. I'd tried to put together relay teams with myself as the swimmer, but two attempts fizzled out. I did the swim anyway, and turned in my chip. My first-ever DNF in 24 marathons, 2 previous half-IM's, and 2 full Ironman's. But I swam.

Last night I put my wetsuit on for the first time since IMFL 2006, to make sure it still fit. This morning was my first swim in it since that race 2 years ago. Somewhat dejected and non-motivated at the start, I didn't bother warming up. I'd considered, when the alarm went off, not even bothering to go to the race. But I was here, and in my wetsuit. I waded in knee-deep, realized the water wasn't all that cold (I've trained for 2 IM's in Deep Creek Lake and know what it's like), stuck my face in the water to make sure my goggles didn't leak, and hung out waiting.

The start was delayed 20 minutes because of fog. When the cold lake is warmer than the air, folks, there will be fog, and it will take a while to lift.

I should have warmed up. I'd forgotten about the in-water start; treading water sometimes whups me more than swimming. I was breathing hard when the gun (horn, whatever) went off.

For the second time ever (first was at a sprint tri after I'd already completed 2 half-IM's without problems) I panicked within the first few yards. Couldn't breathe. Heart pounded. Lungs burned. Treaded water. Oops, that doesn't work... dog-paddled, breast-stroked. Gonna drown right here in my old hometown lake in a full wetsuit. Looked for a boat. Swam to a kayak (why was that easy?) and hung on getting my breath. Figured that, when I could breathe, I'd swim ashore.... I was going to DNF the race no matter how far I swam or didn't swim. I shouldn't have bothered to come anyway.

Holding onto the same kayak was another woman who'd also freaked in the first few yards. She was frantic. It was her first time EVER in a wetsuit and she thought she was strangling. She was clearly hyperventilating. The kayak guy and I talked to her and got her to slow her breathing. She said she couldn't do the swim. I asked her if she could go to the next kayak, about 50 yards. She thought she could. I wasn't sure I could. I didn't say so. So we set out. I thought of swimming ashore and quitting. She did backstroke, breast-stroke, treaded water, made it to the next kayak. My breathing was OK now; she continued to have trouble. I said I'd stay with her and we did the whole 1.2 miles like that, pretty much kayak to kayak, with a lot of rest stops. It took an hour and a half. She made it. We hugged. She got her bike and continued the race. I dried off and turned in my chip.

So I DNF'd, but it had turned out not to be a useless swim after all. I'm really glad I could be there for her.

I spent the rest of the day walking back and forth to my car (total of 4 miles, parked a mile from transition, I'm only supposed to walk 1) to get/drop stuff; then cheering for racers, helping direct traffic when boat-ramp users competed with racers, and waiting for my friend Holly, whom I'd seen in transition but otherwise missed coming and going, and who put in an awesome day in the International distance.

I'm glad I went and now, reading others' reports, I'm salivating over my next chance to scale The Wall and Big Savage Mountain. 2010 if I do the Appalachian Trail next year; 2009 if I don't make it.

Except I'll make it.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Short version: I walked a mile! I did it! I walked a mile!
Long version:
After a whole weekend of being antsy about this day, resisting the temptation to go out and do just a little to stay loose and reassure myself that I actually could do this, I woke up this morning so excited I was almost trembling.

The day I've so looked forward to, prepared for with intensive training since June: My very first one-mile walk since June 19 when bilateral Achilles tendonitis, with a small tear in one, put me out of the running.

I dressed carefully: my favorite race shorts (a pair of very old, very soft, very thin cutoffs); my Appalachian Trail t-shirt; my new Brooks Adrenaline ASR trail-running shoes with my new custom orthotics; my SmartWool hiking socks. Except.... oh, gad, where is the other sock??? I just did laundry, is it still in the laundromat??? I couldn't find it. Luckily I had a pair of Danskin Now synthetic running socks (can't find a link) that were OK with my shoes.

Put on the sunscreen, drink a pint of water, grab the GPS to measure my distance, leash up Journey (who was thrilled to see my preparations, which she remembers from before we were both sidelined), and out the door to the expo: our campground store, where I bought "energy cells" (AA batteries for the GPS, it's way low and I don't want to take any chances. Journey was OK with being tied to a porch support while I was in the expo.

There was a long wait, at least it seemed long, at the start while the GPS tracked the satellites. I fumed. Journey panted. Finally the legend appeared : "Ready To Navigate," I hit the start button on my watch, and we were off.

I had to be careful not to go out too fast. Too fast and I blow my chances of finishing. I do not want to DNF my first mile. Slow, easy, relaxed. But it was tempting to try to make some tracks and finish with a good time. I had to hold myself back.

Down the campground lane, around the cul-de-sac, backtrack, take a left. Uh-oh. A hill. I thought this course was flat.... that hill's got to be close to 2% and 20 meters long. My coach (physical therapist) told me to pick a flat course for my first venture. But.... hey, I've been doing little hills like that all summer just working around this campground. Let's try it. Slow and easy. Relax your legs. Let them swing naturally. This is doable. Yay! The top! No pain!

Now a little off-road section; thankfully the course is planned around the next little rise. Cross the grass to the pavement again. Uh-oh, a little twinge in my left Achilles. Stop at a picnic table, put my heel on the bench, stretch out my calf. Don't panic. You've had this before, even just sitting around.... we can't say the activity is doing it. You get it now and then. Don't panic.

Moving again now. Dang, I forgot to stop my watch. Looks like a minute and 10 seconds that I stopped. Remember that number. I'm past 1/4 mile now, 9:15 (including the stop, plus pee stops for Journey.) Not too fast, not too slow, perfect. Now go nice and steady.

Onto another off-road section, flat and grassy. It feels soft to walk on and doesn't challenge my ankles at all... that's good. Back to the cul-de-sac, around the loop, half a mile now, good point to stretch again just as a precaution while Journey plays with a Labradoodle. She forgets what we're about and doesn't want to leave him. Back now towards that hill, but this time I turn before the hill and backtrack to stay on the level course. Around again, over the short grassy space, past the picnic table where I stretched, back over the long grassy section, around the loop. Uh-oh, a little pain, maybe 2 out of 10, in my left soleus. Stop to massage and stretch it. There, that's better. Whew, sun's coming out from the morning overcast, feels hot.... glad this is a morning event. But I'm doing well, don't even have to increase my breathing.

Home stretch now. GPS says .92 mile. My excitement had calmed once I got moving, but now it returns: I'm going to make it, I'm going to make it! I'm going to finish! I feel myself putting on a kick: I've been doing 2:00 miles (that's hours, not minutes) but I see the speed function on the GPS climb to 2.4mph. I'm gonna do it! I can't help the kick. I'm so excited! I've made it!! I did it!! I did it!! I walked a whole mile!! Without running! I walked the whole thing! While I did stop for those couple stretch breaks (and Journey's pit stops) I kept my moving pace steady and averaged 2 miles per hour. Perfect pace for next year's hike.

Distance 1.00 mile
Clock time: 28:08
Watch time: 25:10
Place: 1/1 overall

Came home to a breakfast of turkey wraps -- deli turkey slices around dill pickle spears, a post-race favorite -- hydrated with another pint of water, and now it's off to get a restorative massage (physical therapy appointment.)

I am so happy!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Why is it that:

When you're biking and your head itches, it itches under a solid part of your helmet where you can't scratch it instead of under a vent where you can?

When you're biking or running on a narrow country road and a car is coming toward you and another one is coming up behind you, the point where they meet is right where you are?

When you're in the supermarket and someone has stopped with their cart, they've always stopped right in front of what you need?

When you get up in the morning you decide not to use the computer until you do your stretches, take the dog out, and eat breakfast, but then you decide to do just a very quick email or weather check first and an hour later you're still on the computer, your stretches undone, the dog not walked, and breakfast now out of the question, and you have to scramble to get to work on time?

And how did I manage to LOSE a CD-PLAYER BOOM BOX in the 30-foot camper we live in? It's not in here anywhere. I take it with me to clean the shower houses; all I can think of is I left it in there and someone lifted it.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


A food dehydrator.

I've been thinking about getting one, to preserve leftovers and extra garden tomatoes (we live in our RV but have a little plot in the managers' garden.) I also thought I might dry food for my Appalachian Trail hike, but wondered if it might be easier just to buy Ramen and instant potatoes en route.

Not any more. I got the dehyrator and the sliced tomatoes came out so well I got totally turned on. Ten good-size tomatoes dried down to about half a sandwich bagful. Are they ever good! Super-concentrated tomato flavor just like.... yeah, sun-dried tomatoes.

I dehydrated a pint of cherry tomatoes (dried down to half a cup) and YYUUMMMM..... sweet little tomato raisins! A really novel GORP addition!

So I'm trying other stuff. I cooked up a bagful of kidney beans, stored a couple servings in the fridge, and dried the rest. Only took about 3 hours, and while they dried to about their original size at purchase, they rehydrate in minutes..... Instant Dried Beans! They came out a little mushy but excellent for quick soup or even gravy. Next time I'll stop the long cooking just before they're done, and see if they hold their shape and substance a little better.

Right now I've got a chicken/cabbage dish in the dryer: chicken chunks, cabbage, chopped onion, sliced garlic fried up olive oil and spread in the dryer. I learn something each time: It doesn't work to combine chunk protein and a leaf vegetable. I just had to rescue the completed cabbage to keep it from charring to ashes before the chicken gets done. Kind of like microwaving -- food pieces have to be the same size and thickness for even processing. And they do burn if left too long; there are dehydrators with temperature controls but mine isn't one of them Vigilance substitutes for technology for a lower price tag.

However, four thigh/drumstick chicken legs and a whole small head of cabbage, which barely fit in the frying pan, are now going to fill a sandwich bag. 4 single-serving main-dish meals in one sandwich bag! My next purchase is going to be a Seal-a-Meal....

I'll rehydrate stuff for taste/useability testing, and then I'm ON for making my backpacking meals. I'll pack 'em in boxes for Steve to mail to me every couple weeks on the trail. I'm not carrying 2 weeks' food at a time, probably just a week's worth, and will buy stuff in towns in between mail-drop pickups.

This is getting to be fun, and I'm starting to think I might actually make it to the starting line.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I haven't posted since my bike crash. But I survived. The bruises are even gone. It only cost $35 to repair my bike (only the gear hanger was bent, nothing destroyed.) I had an extra helmet in case someone wanted to ride with me, so I didn't even have to buy a new one. The shoulder I thought was just scraped, was in fact mildly injured.... couldn't swim or do pushups for a couple weeks. The thigh that just kind of stung right after I crashed and that I thought was just sporting a little road rash.... well, here's the picture of how that went. In EMT class years ago, I learned that a bruise the size of your fist represents loss of about 10% of your blood volume.

Achilles Tendonitis update:

I'm still not completely pain-free, but I got custom orthotics last week (still adjusting to those); a new pair of trail-running shoes today; on Monday, I get to start a walking program.

Week 1: walk one mile, 3 days on alternate days, flat terrain. Upper-body training at least 2 days a week on non-walking days. Then each week I get to add 1 mile to the week's total mileage, for the next 8 weeks. After that, I get to transition into running and HIKING, assuming all goes well up to then. My physical therapist wrote a disclaimer at the bottom of the training program: "This is not a complete program, nor does it ensure you will complete hiking the Appalachian Trail." LOL!!! I'll be tickled pink just to START, and THRILLED TO DEATH to make it to Harper's Ferry, WV (close to home and slightly less than half the Trail but considered by hikers to be the "psychological halfway point") and ECSTATIC to make it to Maine.

Although it's cotton, I just might have to wear my Penguin Brigade shirt with its motto: "The miracle isn't that I finished; the miracle is that I had the courage to start." Hmmm. Not for hiking during the day -- my backpack would cover it up. But for hanging around camp in the evenings, and sleeping.... yup, I think I just came up with something. It's been autographed by most of my closest running friends. Wish I could send it around Blogdom for more signatures. Hmmm, maybe I can. A chain-mail kind of thing. I send it to someone, they sign it and send it on to the next.... I have ideas cooking like crazy.

It does remind me of marathon training, where my primary goal is always just to get uninjured and healthy to the starting line. Everything else is gravy. That said, I have never DNF'd through 24 marathons and 2 IronMan triathlons.

I'll be having my first DNF, though, at SavageMan next Sunday. Since I'm out $145 for the registration fee whether I participate or not, I might as well get some schwag out of it. Packet pick-up will net me a swim cap. There's no reason I can't swim 1.2 miles. I haven't done that this summer but I've swum 1800 meters a couple of times, which is close.

If there's a participant's shirt (as compared to a finisher's shirt), I don't see why I can't wear it if I complete the swim. I participated. And I've been through hell instead of training for it.

I've toyed with doing T-1 and starting the bike, quitting at the foot of (i.e., not attempting) the Westernport Wall. There's no way my tendons or training would handle that. Because of them, this summer I've avoided hills altogether. That comes at Mile 19. I haven't done more than 12 miles this summer, and not even that, in fact no biking, for the last 3 weeks. Damn tendons.

Maybe if I do 10 or 12 or 15 miles a couple times between now and then.

Maybe I shouldn't even take my bike.

I SOOOO wanted to conquer that Westernport Wall and get my name engraved on a brick to be inlaid in the road.

I SOOOO wanted to complete the full course of the "World's Most Savage Triathlon." It was going to be my one of my three compensations for not hiking the AT this year. I honestly haven't had any compensation at all. Everything has gone down the drain. The new granddaughter I gave up this year's hike for? The one who was my reason for and my main compensation for not hiking? Her parents are splitting up. Three months after a new baby. So although Sarah and her big sister Abbie are wonderful, and we love to see them, it's not really that much fun to go up there to visit them, with bickering, separation, etc. The third compensation was, I'd be near the AT in VA and MD and could do overnights and 3-day's, getting the hang of what works and what doesn't.

So my summer has been like this: PT (physical therapy) instead of AT (Appalachian Trail) because of AT (Achilles Tendonitis.) Kids fighting and splitting up with a baby and a 5-yr-old with special needs.

So no running. Little biking (kind of tendon-y, the pedal motion.) No hiking, not even the overnight shakedown hikes I looked forward to, after the 20-mile round trip over the Roller Coaster section (5,000 total feet of climbing over 10 miles, both directions), that screwed my tendons. New-baby-family fun for her first 3 months, although there was a tension and heaviness that I knew wasn't good, even before the announcement was made.

Funny how Appalachian Trail and Achilles Tendonitis are both AT.