Thursday, October 18, 2012


Several people have asked me questions recently about nutrition.  I have to make it very clear...I am NOT a nutritionist.  I don't remember if I heard it, or if I read somewhere that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist but you have to be licensed to have the title "dietician".  Well...I did some research today and found that to be incorrect, at least in the state of Alabama.  (See the rules and regulations here.)  So...let me state again, I am NOT a nutritionist.  I'm not a dietician.  I'm just a person who eats food!  :D

Here are some things I believe.

You have to eat if you want to lose weight.

Yes...that's what I said.  If you want to lose weight, you have to eat food.  If you try to stop eating your metabolism will slow down, your body will not know when to expect you to fuel it again so it will start storing everything as fat.  Now, you have to be smart about what you are eating and when and how much...but not eating does NOT work.

Losing weight is not (usually) a simple matter of calories in/calories out.

That's's nutrition not mathematics.  Back when I first started running I couldn't understand why I wasn't losing weight.  I was accurately counting everything but it wasn't working.  Well, come to find out the types of foods I was eating were causing me to basically retain water.   (Yes, water...not food.  That saying "you aren't retaining water, you're retaining food" sorta ticks me off...)  When I cut out those foods, I lost weight.  It's very important you understand, I kept the same AMOUNT of calories, and I cut out "good-for-you" foods like milk, garlic (not many calories lost there), eggs.

When I eat those foods now, I can gain 2-3 pounds in one day.  Those 2-3 pounds are NOT due to excessive calories (1 pound is 3,500 calories....I can tell you I'm pretty sure I haven't had 10,500 in a day, ever).  You need to know what works for your body and what doesn't.  Naturally if you are eating more than you are burning you will gain and theoretically vice versa, but that equation is too simplistic for such a complex process.  And, going back up to my first point, if you reduce intake too much, your body will store what you eat and you could end up gaining weight when, on paper, you should be losing.  Part of the reason you may gain is the "calories out" portion is going to be wrong.  If your metabolism slows down, you won't be burning as many calories as you think you are.  And, if you restrict too much, you're bodily functions will shut down and you'll die.  (Cold hard fact of life.)

If you want a healthy body, you have to give it healthy fuel.

If you have a car that runs on unleaded gas but you decide to put diesel in it instead, it won't run very long.  However, if you put gas mixed with a little water, it will run, just not very well.  Everyone knows you have to eat food to live, but a lot of people eat the "wrong" kinds of foods to allow their body to function at its best.  Everyone is different.  I do not think our bodies are "one diet fits all" so I am NOT saying you need to follow a "boxed" plan.  However, I am saying you need to be a student of what works for you.  Some people I know function at their best with a higher protein diet, others seem to do better going vegan.  The key is to know what works best--FOR YOU--and to DO IT.  This requires you to 1) pay attention to what you are taking in, 2) pay attention to the results and 3) follow through.

I remember when I was a teenager.  I went to see a dermatologist for typical teenage acne.  I wanted him to give me a list of foods I shouldn't eat.  He told me there are no foods that cause breakouts.  I told him I noticed every time I would eat chocolate my face would break out.  He said, "then don't eat chocolate".  I remember asking him why he couldn't just tell me that in the first place; he explained  chocolate doesn't cause everyone to break out.  He also said it may not be causing my breakouts; it may have been merely correlated in timing.  (Maybe it was hormonal; the same thing that was causing the breakouts caused the chocolate cravings.)

That doctor said the same thing I've been hearing my whole life-I need to know my own body better than anyone else, because I live in it.  Although there are some absolutes, after all, no one can live off rat poison!; there is far more grey area than black and white when it comes to food.  How many calories I need to eat, what kinds of foods will upset my digestive system vs rev me up, how long it takes for my stomach to process food to avoid intestinal distress during a race....these kinds of things (among others) are what people have to figure out for themselves.  Yes, there are some good guidelines and some starting points that work for a majority of people, but what works best for you requires a level of self awareness most people simply do not care to have.

Take the time and effort to get to know your's the one you'll have the rest of your life!

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Atomic Man 70.3 Race Recap


It was an in water, wave start with the young men starting first, then the masters men, then all the women.  As I started swimming, I knew I was going out WAY too fast.  The director made a point to caution us against that.  Instead of reverting to breast stroke a bit to catch my breath, as I have done so many times in the past, I just made a conscious effort to calm down and to keep on swimming.   I had the urge to look behind me to see if I was the last one... but before I knew it, I was passing a man!  Then another man!!  I told myself there was no way I was the last woman.  As I was headed back to the beach it felt like my timing chip was coming off my ankle.  When I got out of the water, before starting my second swim loop, I was trying to fix it when the course marshal came to my rescue and re-strapped it for me.  I know a few people passed me then, but at that point, I didn't care.  I believed fully I wasn't going to be last out of the water, and that I could in fact do another loop.

When I got out of the water, both times, I heard someone cheer for me!  What great motivation to be called by name at a race!  I was very discombobulated coming out of the water.  I wasn't thinking well.  I knew I needed to get my wetsuit off, but my brain wasn't fully functioning.  Running up the hill to the transition area I was trying to remove my watch so I could strip off my wetsuit, while taking off my goggles and swim cap.  The timing mat was at transition so that's where I stopped my watch.  I finished the swim in 48:13 (for comparison, my OLY was 45:17 so I have improved!).  ((Looking at the results, it appears there were only 4 or 5 people behind me in the water.))


When I got to transition, instead of focusing on speed (as I usually do), I was focused on being comfortable.  I had arm warmers out, but decide not to wear them.  On the swim I wore my tri shorts and sport bra with the wetsuit, so I put on a bike jersey for the rest of the race.  When I put on my sun glasses, they were fogged up already so I stuffed them in my pocket.  I also had a Bonk Breaker*** that I had planned to eat on the bike that I put in my pocket as well.

When I'm in transition I don't typically even notice if any other bikes are there.  I don't look around to see where I'm at in comparison to anyone else, I'm usually just focused on getting out of there as fast as possible.  This day was no different, but about the time I was getting my helmet on two of my friends were leaving with their bikes.  I knew they had gotten out of the water before me, but I was THRILLED that I was as close to them in the swim as I was.   My T1 time was 2:00.  That's a "long" time for me considering where the mats were and how small the area was.  It's not a bad time, but I really felt like taking the bit of extra time to calm down was going to be helpful in the long run.  I don't think it mattered.  I think I'd rather be fast and then calm down on the bike.  :D


Because Coach Eric MADE ME bike out of the transition area the day before the race, I had my bike gears exactly where they needed to be to help me get up the hill we had to start on.  I would NOT have been in that low of a gear if I had not practiced this.  So, when I got on the bike, I knew exactly what to expect.  We had ridden the first couple of miles and I knew the course was hilly, but I didn't know to what extent or for how long.  I have the tendency to freak myself out about hills (I know, shocking, right?) so I decided this time that it didn't matter what the course looked like, I was doing the race no matter what.  I knew Eric was preparing me for what was to come.  I knew I had just ridden a CENTURY (109 miles thank you very much...OH MY GOSH...I haven't written about this yet!!...well, it had a 3.5 mile CLIMB at about mile 40).  I knew I was going to be able to ride up anything that could be on that course.  Well...I'm not going to lie.  It wasn't easy.  However, it wasn't nearly as hard as the climb on the century ride I just did a few weeks back.

Bike Course Elevation from my Garmin data

As it turns out the first seven miles or so where the worst, but none of it was "flat".  It was basically a big "T" where we went out 7 miles (did I mention they were hilly?), turned right for about 3 miles, turned around for 17, back again for 17, then turned right after 14 to go back to the start on the same 7 (still hilly) miles.  At the first turn around I really needed to go to the bathroom.  I didn't want to stop, even though they did have a por-o-potty.  I tried to make myself pee on the bike (yes, I really did), but ...that wasn't the only reason I felt like I needed the latrine.  I hoped the feeling would pass, or at least wait until I got started on the run.  By the time I got down to the second turn around, I thought I was about to bust....but there was no port-o-potty there (there was a convenience store, but NO WAY I was going to that much effort).  So I rode 17 miles wondering if I would make it back in time and beating myself up for having bodily functions I couldn't control!

Just before I got to both turns my IronMan friend, who was just ahead of me, yelled out that I better hurry up if I was planning to catch up to her.  As bad as I wanted to catch up--and pass her--I HAD to stop.  I don't know how much time it cost me because I wasn't willing to look.  Let's just say, the stop was well worth it no matter how long it took.  When I got back on my bike there was a guy I had played a serious game of leap frog with earlier just in front of me, along with several other people I had already passed.  So I started picking people off, in search of my friend.  As I passed the guy I said, "tag you're it" to which he replied, "fair enough".

As made the right turn to head back up those hills I didn't have anyone in sight.  It was just me and the road.  On one down hill section (not a steep one), I saw a big, beautiful doe standing in the middle of the road.  About that time I could hear a car coming from behind me.  I was scared to death.  The deer might run for me, the car might swerve to miss the deer, the car might hit the deer, throwing it onto me.  I started yelling, "RUN DEER RUN!!!" and waving my hand up and down like a crazy person.  Thankfully it ran off (away from me) and the car slowed down so no harm was done to anyone!

As I was headed up one steep section.  I was huffing and puffing, scared to death I would slow down and fall over (and hurt my bike).  I rounded a corner and came upon a man walking his bike up the hill.  I couldn't speak as I passed him.  I'm sure I sounded like an asthmatic trying to take in oxygen.  He smiled at me and said, "you are stronger than I am".  I couldn't speak.  I wanted to say, "no, I'm just afraid if I tried to stop I would hurt my bike so I have to keep going!"  I was rewarded when I got to the top with the thrill of getting to go DOWN!!  (Although I haven't quite gotten used to going down full speed so I do brake a little bit and I sit up a little which also slows me down.)  My top speed during the whole race was "only" 32.9 (I've ridden faster than that before, but not many times).  My fastest average mile of the race was 23.6 (not the same mile).  I rode 19 miles in the 19+ range but my average over the whole 56 miles was only 17.3 (it was 17.4 in NOLA...but it was flat there).

When I got back to the dismount line I was actually a bit scared to stop.  The day before in practice I grabbed my front brake a bit too hard causing my back wheel to come off the ground-a good bit actually!  The dismount area was down a little incline so I knew I might have a hard time stopping well.  So I slowed down a good bit, remember to stay on my back break more than my front, and didn't have an issue.


T2 was rough for me.  My stomach was giving me fits, I knew if I had a good run I would be well under my expected finish of 6:30, but I also knew the run was hilly.  I had only taken in about 100 calories on the bike (EFS Liquid Shot) and I could feel a spot rubbing on my ankle (I thought it was the timing chip, but it was my shoes).  It was hot by that time, but I didn't want to take off the cycling jersey and there was a man standing in transition putting on sun screen (something I did not do before I got on the bike...I did have it out but I did not want to take the time).  My thoughts were JUMBLED to say the least.  I knew going in I wasn't going to focus on speed so I didn't change my laces speed laces, and I took the time to put on my race belt and hat in transition (things I usually do on the run).  I usually go into both transitions very clearly focused but not that day.  I do NOT like feeling like that at all.  T2 ended up being 2:56.


As soon as I started the run my left shin muscle (the anterior tibialis) started hurting.  Bad.  I've had this happen before and I knew if I stopped and stretched it that it would stop hurting.  I didn't want to stop because the run was a two loop course (two out and backs) so I knew Eric had to be coming back from his first loop any second.  I did NOT want him to see me walking!!  AND, I wanted to catch, and pass, my friend.  But, in those three miles I ended up stopping a few times to stretch it out.  I also used this time to take in some more Liquid Shot***. 

I LOVED this run course.  You get to see everyone at least once, but most people twice.  It's country back roads that are really neat to run on.  There was VERY little traffic out there to contend with, and everyone was driving super slow.  And...I do actually like to run on hills much more than I like to run on flat road.

As soon as my leg loosened up, my stomach started throwing a fit.  I prayed for a port o potty, and asked several people if they knew if there was one at the turn around point...until I got a definitive "no"!.  I seriously contemplated going in the woods...but I had a bad feeling toilet paper was going to be necessary.  Just before the turn around I saw my friend.  I told her I was coming for her and she told me I wasn't going to catch her!

Just before the second turn around I saw my friend again and told her, "I'm going to go to the bathroom then I'm going to run you down!"  To which she replied something like that wasn't going to happen because she was running really fast.  About that time a sweet kid asked me if I was going to want Gatorade, water an energy gel or some chomps at the aide station.  I said, "no...but I need you to see if there's anyone in line for the port-o-potty and if so, I need you to beat them up for me!!"  This sweet boy ran up ahead of me and then yelled out, "you're good, it's open!"  I yelled back as I ran in, "THANK YOU--I LOVE YOU!"  I wish I could say when I came out I was ready to go again...I wasn't.  My stomach did NOT feel good.  (This is a result of a lot of different factors, not just race day nutrition...), but I knew I didn't have long to catch my friend.

Run Course Elevation Profile from my Garmin Data I stared running again...there was that guy I played leap frog with on the bike again!  He was doing a walk run thing, but his run was pretty fast so I was having a hard time catching him.  I did try to "run my own race" and stay in the moment, but there is something about RACING someone that really motivates me.  (Someone I can see.)  As he started walking again, I passed him and said, "you'll catch me when you get your run back on".  He laughed and said, "oh, no.  I'm coming right now!"  We chatted just a bit, basically he said he was cramping and I said my stomach was giving me fits.  I told him I was trying to catch a friend and I really needed him to stay in front of me so I'd have a rabbit to chase at least until I caught up to her.  I told him I expected him to make me hurt because I had been trying to catch him for a while and he was a much faster runner than I am.  He played his part well...I only managed to pass him once when he was getting Gatorade, and only caught up to him one other time after he passed me again.

At the last turn around I saw my friend.  She was getting water and told me, "you are out of time".  At that point she only had about 3 miles to go, I had about 4.  I started giving it all I had (that was my fastest mile at 9:11).  I wasn't able to maintain that pace, but I kept looking at my watch trying to do math.  I wanted to finish under 6:30 so bad but I knew I had to run those last 2 miles under 10 minutes to make it.  (I hadn't been running that strong up to that point and still had a hill to climb.)  Thankfully my rabbit was in front of me so I mentally grabbed on to him and held on.  The finish is mercifully down a nice hill.  The whole time I was running in I was scanning up ahead, hoping against hope, to no avail, I would see my friend.  My rabbit found another gear, as did I (but his was turbo charged).  As he crossed the finish I heard the announcer call out his name.  I had to laugh.  With a name like DeBardelaben, there's no telling how they were going to say my name.  (Dana Deb-a-deb-en...uh...Dana D!!)

After the finish line

Eric was waiting to give me a big first words, "how long has (my friend) been here".  He told me only a couple of minutes.  It's funny because her first words as she crossed were, "I beat Dana!!"  She not only beat me for the first time, she beat me by SIX MINUTES!!!  It was almost all on the swim and some on the bike.  Although I made up some time on the run, it wasn't enough on that day.  I told her I wasn't going to let it happen again!  We love each other.  We were cut from the same competitive cloth so it's GREAT that we both get it and can be like that with each other.

As it turned out...because it is such a small race, made up of mostly men, I won 1st in my age group, and my friend won first in her division!  The prize was a super cool transition mat!  No more towel for me!

It was funny, the guy I was playing leap frog with, my rabbit, was telling someone after the race he saw me come out of the bathroom from the bike and he intended to hang on to me, until I got to the first hill and (he said) I "took off like a bullet" and left him behind.  That, coupled with the comment from the guy walking up the hill really gave me a boost.   But the truth is, it will always come back to what I'm choosing to believe is true about myself.

Post race thoughts

All in all...this was a GREAT race.  I'm very pleased with my performance.  Yes..I said it, and this is the day after the race (although it hasn't been a full 24 hours yet, the depression hasn't set in fully...maybe reading this will serve as a reminder).  I was a little slower on the swim that I had hoped to be.  I had hoped it would be 45 minutes but when I tack on the time it took to get out of the water, get my chip restrapped, get back in and the time it took to get from the swim to the transition area, 48:13 doesn't seem too bad.  Although my transitions were slow for me, they weren't slow comparatively speaking.  I'd really like to have a power meter so I could have some hard data to compare, but since I don't, I'll just have to remind myself NOLA was flat (but windy) and my average speed was basically the same.  I'm just going to continue to get faster on the bike as I get more comfortable riding it. (BTW, another thing I haven't written about...I got a new bike!!)  The run was slower than what I would have liked, but I did run negative splits, and, even with the hills and the leg and stomach issues I only ran it about 4 minutes slower than NOLA.

This time next year I will be in full recovery mode from IronMan Lake Tahoe.  That is very hard to believe!

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon! 
***A note about race nutrition.   I do not have this figured out yet.  I haven't had many REALLY long training days to practice this and there are so many factors to think about with food/hydration and electrolytes, I don't think I've ever gotten a good handle on it.   Consequently I usually have a variety of ideas.

Atomic Man Half--Thoughts and Pre Race Recap

I always get depressed after a big race.  I didn't think it would happen this time, but I can feel it starting to wash over me like a drizzling rain.  When it's drizzling, you don't really notice you're getting wet, not like when it's pouring down rain.   There are a lot of reasons this happens.  I used to blame it all on being upset with my performance.  No matter how I did I wasn't happy.  However, this time is different.   I'm not terribly unhappy with my performance.  That's not to say I haven't already analyzed the things I need to do differently next time, but I'm pleased with what I did yesterday.

When I went to NOLA, I expected to finish in 6:30.  I hoped I would do better, I was going to be satisfied with anything better than 6:45, but I honestly expected to finish right at 6:30.  This time I really wasn't sure what to expect.   Hurting my knee earlier in the season caused me to be out of training for about a month, then I had so much going on with taking my daughter to college, going to do Hood to Coast, going to Rhode Island for my USAT clinic...and the list goes on.  I can honestly say I've been able to get about 80% of my training in, but only for the last month.  Let me be clear, a month is NOT long enough to effectively train for a half IronMan!  But, I also believed I had a decent base I could fall back on.  I wasn't ever worried about not finishing the race, but I wasn't sure 6:30 was realistic all things considered, especially looking at the course.

I haven't ever done a pre-race workout on the course.  My workout plan calls for a 20 minute swim/20 minute bike/20 minute run workout at transition, but this is only my 2nd race where it really applied, and it was raining and practically storming at NOLA so all I did that was was run 20 minutes.  Saturday I was with a friend who is training for her second IronMan (I need to come up with a name for her), as well as my coaches.  I didn't want to swim but had to do it anyway.  I didn't want to ride my bike but had to do it anyway.  By the time we got to the run my knee was hurting for some strange reason so I didn't want to run...I did run, but ended up walking quite a bit because I didn't want to "really" hurt myself the day before the race.

After the pre-race workout, I really didn't know what to expect at the race.  I wasn't swimming well and my knee wasn't feeling 100%.

Race morning I was strangely calm.  I have pretty much stopped having pre-race jitters.  Excitement, yes; jitters/nerves no.   But...I did NOT want to start swimming.  I didn't want to get in the water in the first place--it was COLD out there.  I was afraid I would be last out of the water.  This was a small race with only a few women (maybe 40 at most) and it's a tough course so the majority of people who show up aren't playing around.