I teach a class on Consumer Health at a local college, and last night we were focusing on why the media isn’t always a reliable source of health information. Here are just a few of the reasons:
- Sensationalized aspect of news reporting – they want to pull you in!
- Journalists that don’t have a background in understanding health information and body biochemistry are attempting to sift through information they may not fully understand
- There’s limited time to fact check
- Only utilizing the abstract/press release, and not looking at the remainder of the article
- Journalist and publication bias and background
This morning, I’ve seen several news outlets break with the story “Lose Fat Faster Before Breakfast!
” These articles talk about a study that was published this week in the British Journal of Nutrition
, which looked at the impact of 4 different combinations of activities/breakfast regimens on metabolism and appetite. They looked at fasting then resting, fasting then exercise, breakfast then resting, and breakfast then exercise. The reports are abundant that you’ll burn 20% more fat when skip breakfast and exercise.
Ugh. Not quite. Perfect example of sensationalized media.
I went ahead and got a copy of this study. While it’s interesting, here are my issues (and I should note many of these issues are addressed by the researchers, they’ve just been left out of media reports):
1) The study was done on just 12 men. Not a very large sample size to draw conclusions.
2) Getting deeper – this was conducted on 12 physically active men. Physically active was defined as at least 30 minutes of physical activity, 5 days per week. Considering the majority of our country is overweight/obese and many people even of normal weight are not regularly active, I’m not sure these results can be generalized to the remainder of the population.
3) The articles about this study are reporting that skipping breakfast does not lead to overcompensation of calories later, and eating breakfast led to a greater overall number of calories consumed. However, in this study, they were only looking at energy intake from the breakfast (or lack thereof), recovery drink, and lunch. There’s no information on the remainder of the day, and we know that people who often skip breakfast end up overcompensating later in the day.
4) Whenever you are exercising, your body is using a mixture of carbohydrate and fat to fuel your exercise. This study found that breakfast increased the amount of carbohydrate used as a substrate and decreased the amount of fat utilized as a substrate. However, this difference was not very large. And most exercise physiologists will argue that it is the total rate of energy expenditure, not the exact percentage substrate utilization, that is important for issues like weight management and health (now, there are other schools of thought particularly for certain training purposes, but I'm not going to get into those here for the sake of simplicity). In fact, in this study when we look at the overall
number of calories burned, it was actually higher
in the breakfast exercise trial compared to the fasting exercise trial:
- Breakfast then exercise = 873 calories (3003 kJ) burned (mean)
- Skip breakfast then exercise = 717 calories (3655 kJ) burned (mean)
5) The study did not include any data on the perception of exercise difficulty. I know if I’m going out for an hour run, I’m going to feel better and more comfortable if I’ve had some breakfast earlier. If the hour of exercise feels significantly more difficult without breakfast, that may deter people from exercising or sticking to a training regimen, which would not be good.
6) Many articles reporting on this fail to mention that the exercisers did have a recovery drink afterward. So for those who did skip breakfast, they did still have a mini-meal after their workout and before lunch. The bottom line:
Do what feels right for your body and is geared towards your goals. What I’d recommend you definitely avoid
is skipping breakfast, exercising, and not eating anything until lunch. Odds are if you don’t overcompensate at lunch, you probably will later in the day. If you hate working out with food in your stomach, maybe you want to do a moderate morning workout on an empty stomach and then eat breakfast afterward. If breakfast helps you power through your workouts, though, it’s probably a good idea to eat it. For example, if you’re an endurance athlete getting ready for a 2 hour run, your body needs that fuel. Share with us: Do you eat breakfast before working out?
Last Sunday I participated in the Jamie Fund 5K race. I know, I’m a little late getting this race recap up – sorry! But the race was awesome. This is the 2nd year I’ve done this 5K, and I really like the course, atmosphere, and post-race festivities. Plus, all the race proceeds benefit the Jamie Fund
and iCare Disability Awareness Program.
My husband and I got to the race and met up with some friends who were also running. It was their first 5K in a while, so kudos to them for getting out there and tackling it with us! I know they’ll be joining us for some more in the future.
I was super excited to get my bib number – 33. Anyone who’s ever raced with me knows I like bib numbers with 3 or multiples of 3 for good luck. Yep, I’m superstitious like that. I also always drink a diet pepsi on the morning of my races. I know, it sounds crazy, but us athletes have our quirks.
The course was fast and flat through local Mansfield roads. I knew I wasn’t going to do fantastic in the race – I’ve been struggling a bit with speed the last month – but I always give it my all. I pushed hard in the first mile, clocking a 10:24 mile. That’s pretty good for me, because I’m normally a 12 minute per mile runner. Second mile I slowed a bit with 11:29, and then picked it back up slightly for an 11:17 in mile 3.
My finishing time was 35:01, with an overall pace of 11:16/mile. All in all, I was super happy with my performance. That’s a pretty good 5K time for me. After the race, we headed over to Casey O’Conors where we were treated to some post-race appetizers and indulged in a few beers...
.. And I was so excited to get my first Shipyard Pumpkinhead of the season, complete with cinnamon sugar on the glass – yum!!
Anyway - time to look for some good fall races – only a few 5Ks or 10Ks though. I took a lot on my plate this summer and had a road race, cycling event, or triathlon just about every weekend. I’m looking forward to having a little downtime (and going to zumba and some other classes; I like to change it up during the off-season)!
My goal for next year is to finish a 5K in under 32 minutes. Think I can do it? We’ll see! I’d love to hear from you too - What are your goals for exercise and fitness?
and NY Times
reported on a study last week saying the results found 2 minute sprints led to the same calorie burn as 30 minutes of continuous exercise (over the course of 24 hours), I was excited. Super excited. 2 minutes?! That’s an amazingly short time for the same calorie burn as a 30 minute bout. I even posted the media's take on our facebook page, under the (obviously false) assumption they'd read and interpreted the study correctly.
And of course, it was too good to be true. At least the way the media reported it. I finally got my hands on a copy of this study today, and here’s the real breakdown of the exercise routines used in the study.
Both exercises started with a 7 minute warm up. After the warm up, the continuous group did stationary cycling at a workload equal to 70% of VO2 max for 30 minutes. After the warm up, the sprint group did an 18 minute routine that included 30 second cycling sprints at a resistance of 10% of body mass, followed by 4 min of light cycling for recovery. So basically, we’re comparing a 37 minute total continuous workout versus a 25 minute total sprint workout (when you include the warm-ups).
During the exercise and after 24 hours, the authors measured oxygen consumption, which is an indirect measure of metabolism (the number of calories you’re burning). They found that even though oxygen consumption was 150% higher during the continuous exercise compared to the sprint, after 24 hours there was no difference in total oxygen consumption
between the 30 minute exercise and 2 minute sprint over that period of a day. Basically, the boost in oxygen consumption was higher after
the sprint exercise which balanced out the higher oxygen consumption found in the continuous exercise during
the activity. Translation:
Yes, HIIT can help you become healthier, help boost your metabolism and help you lose weight. And yes, technically there were 2 minutes total of sprints (four 30-second sprints) - but it was a 25 minute total workout between the warm up, sprints, and light cycling for recovery. HIIT is a great form of exercise, but you’ll need more than 2 minutes total to reap the benefits.
PS: We just sent our 2012 Challenge
participants some more detailed information about this concept and some awesome sprint workout ideas to complete this week. Not a part of our 2012 Challenge? Sign up today
! You'll get nutrition and fitness info emailed to you each week with a related challenge for you to tackle in your own life.
Aren’t the Olympics such an exciting time? The greatest athletes from all over the world come together attempting to perform their best and represent their country – there is something both exciting and humbling about it. What are your favorite events to watch?
I love the track and field events and the weightlifting events. As someone who will probably never place first in a race or lift some crazy amount of weight in a clean and jerk, I’m amazed at the feats these athletes accomplish. All their hard work, practice and determination come to light in this major event. And it’s really exciting that this year, one of my husband’s friends from college, Ruben Sanca, is in the Olympics for the 5000 meter (5K) race!
Ruben previously went to the University of Massachusetts Lowell and was on the track team with my husband. Ruben immigrated from Cape Verde to the US when he was 12, and has dual citizenship in both countries. He is representing Cape Verde at the games as one of the country’s only 3 athletes in attendance.
Here's Ruben! A friend snapped this from the television during the opening ceremonies parade of nations.
Ruben is crazy fast. He and I both competed in the same half marathon once – the 2011 New Bedford Half Marathon (nice course if any of you ever decide to do that race). Ruben came in 1st place with a time of 1:05:25 – that’s a 5 minute mile pace for 13.1 miles. I came in 2,203rd place with a time of 2:25:36 – a solid 11:15 minute pace, which is actually pretty fantastic for me – but I think it’s safe to say I won’t be making the Olympics anytime soon. To give you an idea, his pace would be like my all out sprint that I could hold for maybe a minute. And he does it for an hour. I’m amazed by him and all the other athletes out there that can push their bodies to this level.
With that, we at Inspired Wellness Solutions wish Ruben as well as all the other athletes that have worked so hard to be at the Olympics the best of luck as they compete!
Ever been confused my fitness magazines or exercise articles? Here’s a quick refresher course on the terminology often used by personal trainers, exercise physiologists, and those who compete in endurance events. If you’re new to running or triathlon, these may be quite helpful!
Foot strike – This refers to how your foot lands during running. Ideally you should land on your mid-foot – not on your heels (more common) or toes (less common).
Overpronate – This is when your foot rolls inward when your foot strikes the ground in running. Overpronation can make you more vulnerable to injuries. Stability-type shoes can help to correct overpronation.
DOMS – Delayed onset muscle soreness. A soreness that can occur 24-48 hours after you exercise.
Cadence – Most commonly referred to when discussing cycling, this refers to rate at which you’re pedaling (or the number of times you pedal per minute). Ideally, athletes try to maintain a fairly steady cadence. If you find yourself slowing down pedaling, consider shifting down to a lower gear so you can maintain your cadence.
Glycogen – The form of carbohydrate stored in your muscles that gives your body energy for workouts. When glycogen stores run low in long events, athletes may feel themselves “hit the wall.” That’s why it’s important to take in carbohydrate through fuel sources during exercise lasting longer than 60-75 minutes.
Bib – This is your race number. You pin it to your shirt or wear it on a race belt. The photo below is my bib number from the North Shore Tour de Cure!
Body marking – In triathlon (not road races), your arms and legs will be marked with your race number using a marker.
Gun time – The time the clock says when you run across the finish line.
Chip time – Your actual time based on when you crossed the starting line and when you finished. In big races or triathlon, you’ll almost always have a timing chip (usually built into your race bib or that straps on your shoe or around your ankle). Smaller races where everyone crosses the start around the same time may not have a timing chip.
Transition – The 4th part of triathlon. This is the time between the swim and the bike and between the bike and the run when you must transition into the new sport. Between the swim and the bike, you’ll put on shoes, your helmet, your race number, and grab your bike. Between the bike and the run, you’ll re-rack your bike, change from bike to run shoes (if you have different ones for each), and take your helmet off.
Before the race, you'll set up your transition area with all your gear (see photo below).
Cross-training – This refers to a workout day where you’ll choose another exercise rather than the one on which you focus the majority of your time. For example, runners may cross train on the bike or elliptical. Fortunately for triathletes, the nature of having to train for 3 different disciplines means that you’re essentially cross training anyway.
Tempo run – This is a run done at a relatively tough pace, usually just a little slower than race pace. Some people call it “comfortably tough.” For example: you may do a warm up, run a few miles at tempo pace (the specific number of miles will vary based on your race distances and goals), and then do a cool down.
Speedwork – These are structured workouts that usually involve a warm-up, set distances where you’re working at fast speeds, and recovery time. They may involve hills, intervals, and/or track workouts.
Fartlek - This is a Swedish term meaning “speed play” – a form of interval training. Rather than set intervals though, a fartlek workout is more unstructured and spontaneous. Start out with a 10 minute warm up run, and then start adding some speed – run as fast as you can until the next stop sign or pick a speedy pace and maintain it for two minutes. After each speed burst, return to a comfortable running pace to recover. Add in multiple intervals and switch up the speed and distances throughout the workout.
5K = 3.1 miles
10K = 6.2 miles
Half marathon = 13.1 miles
Marathon = 26.2 miles
Sprint Tri = ¼ to ½ mile swim, 10-15 mile bike, 3-4 mile run (distances may vary based on the race)
Olympic Tri = 0.9 mile swim, 22-28 mile bike, 6.2 mile run (distances may vary based on the race)
Half Ironman = 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
Ironman = 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run
DLF>DNF>DNS – This is a common phrase used by runners, cyclists, and triathletes. It stands for dead last finish triumphs did not finish which is still better than did not start. A great motto to use going into races – it doesn’t matter what place you come in, because you’re already doing more than everyone sitting on their couch at home.
This past weekend, I completed my first Olympic distance triathlon at Mass State! That’s right – a 0.9 mile swim, 22 mile bike ride, and 10K (6.2 mile) run. I had started to train for an Olympic distance tri last summer, but after my apartment fire I lost my bike and didn’t have anything to ride with. So I couldn’t wait to tackle that challenge this year.
The race took place out at Lake Dennsion in Winchendon, MA. It was about an hour and a half from Mansfield, but luckily it was a little later start at 9AM so we didn’t have to get up super early. I did the Saturday race which was a co-ed race, but there was also a Sunday race that was a women’s only one (great if you’re a female racer nervous about a tri and would rather race only with the other ladies).
The swim was great, aside from the slimy stuff on the bottom of the lake that we had to stand on while we were waiting for the gun to go off, haha (it was an in-water start). But obviously that's out of anyone's control. I felt awesome during this swim – much better than the MWCC sprint tri I did two weeks ago, where I felt like I was having trouble getting into a rhythm and breathing at the beginning.
This was also the first race I’ve used my wetsuit in. My wetsuit is like a second layer of skin – it takes me about 20 minutes to get that thing on, all the while I start overheating and sweating profusely. Apparently, the wetsuit people don’t understand that not all women are a size 2 with a flat behind. Getting that thing over my butt is quite a process. If any wetsuit manufacturers are reading this: please invent one that fits curvy women!
The plus side to the wetsuit is it definitely helps with swimming smoother and buoyancy, so it makes the swim feel a lot easier! Someone gave me the tip of standing off to the side in the water to get the wetsuit off. Most people run and take it off at transition, but it’s actually easier to slide off in the water when you still have a layer of water between your skin and the suit. It’d be tough if you’re trying to do it when masses are getting out of the water, but for a back-of-the-packer like me, I’ve got plenty of room to take it off in the water.
Next part was the 22 mile bike, which was great. It was a single loop course, and there were some great stretches of roads between turns where you could pick up speed. A few hilly parts that tested the legs, but overall I felt great on the bike. Ate my Stinger waffle (yum!!) and had a bunch of Gatorade during it to keep me fueled for the run.
The 10K run is where I started to get tired. By that time, the sun had come out and it was probably somewhere in the upper 80s or maybe even low 90s. It felt HOT. Luckily, along the run course they had some ice cold sponges to cool your body off with which felt great. And a few spectators from houses along the run had hoses out to spray us down which was nice too. I couldn’t wait to reach the turnaround point, because there’s such a mental satisfaction when you know you’re finally heading back in the direction of the finish line.
Along the last few miles of the course, I knew I was one of the last few racers (it’s pretty easy to figure that out when you don’t see anyone behind you after the turnaround, haha). There was a medic guy in a golf cart type thing with a stretcher that stopped alongside me three times during the run to make sure I was okay. Yes sir, I’m not injured or dying, I’m just slow, haha! (In all seriousness though, it’s good they had him stopping to check because it was hot and I could see how people might need help).
I crossed the finish line very proud of finishing my first Olympic distance race, and was greeted by volunteers with ice cold towels to drape around my neck and some watermelon – amazing!
I met up with my husband and we watched the awards ceremony. Now, I always race in the Athena category for triathlon – it’s a category for women 150+ pounds (there’s also a similar category for men called Clydesdales with a weight requirement). Sounds silly, but by the laws of physics it takes more effort to get your bike or body to move when you’re a heavier racer – so these categories give you a chance to compete against athletes with similar body weights as you; a leveling of the playing field in essence.
Normally, there are about 5 to 15 Athena racers at the different events that I’ve done. Imagine my surprise when I found out I was the ONLY Athena in this race – so I “took 1st place” in my division! Haha, I know – a bit of a default win (especially since I was one of the last few racers!) – but I’ve never won an award at any race or got to stand on the podium before, so I took the award with a huge smile on my face and was pretty excited about it.
Overall time: 3:37:57
Swim – 40:20
T1 – 3:27
Bike – 1:32:10
T2 – 1:19
Run – 1:20:42
Any of you competing in any triathlons or other races this summer? I’d love to hear about them! Leave a comment and let us know what you’re doing.
Happy National Running Day! Today, the world celebrates the love of this amazing form of aerobic exercise. If you currently don’t have a steady exercise routine, running is a great way to start being more active. It can be done anywhere and at any time of the day, and only requires a good pair of sneakers!
Wondering why is running so great for you? Consider the following…
- It’s a cardiovascular champion! Running will have your heart beating fast in no time. It strengthens the heart and increases the capacity of blood circulation.
- You’ll burn some serious calories. Minute for minute, running is one of the best calorie burners out there. A 160 pound person will burn about 600 calories running for an hour at 5mph. This isn’t a super speedy sprint – 5mph equates to 12 minute miles, a pretty comfortable pace that beginners can aspire to reach.
- It helps your bones and muscles. Weight bearing exercises like running help put resistance on our bones, and can thus maintain their strength of your bones. Running also increases the strength of the muscles in your legs, hips, and core.
- There’s quick adaptations (at the beginning, at least!). You will be amazed at how quickly your body can adapt to running when you get started. No doubt it will be tough at first – you might feel your lungs burning a little bit, your muscles might ache, or you might find you have a little back ache from getting used to the posture for running. But your body will quickly experience what’s called ‘neuromuscular adaptations’ that help you become more adept at finding a good rhythm for you. Soon things you once deemed “impossible” will be in the “possible” realm.
- Runner’s high! There’s truth to this common phrase. Exercise releases endorphins and can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Plus, tackling running goals that you set for yourself can give you a sense of pride and accomplishment.
So today, I challenge you to get out there and run! It might be for a half mile or it might be for 5 miles – just get out there and do what you can. If you’ve never run before, start by alternating small segments of running with longer segments of walking. As you continue to exercise regularly in the future, you can drop the amount of time walking and increase the amount of time running.
That’s right, it’s my 27th birthday today and in celebration, I wanted to share with you 27 simple tips for overall wellness. Some of these are tips coming from the RD/personal trainer side of me, while others are just items I’ve come to learn along the way. Enjoy these feasible changes that anyone can incorporate into their life – and I hope you’ll choose to do so!
1) Carry a water bottle. It makes it easier to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day, and it’s cheaper and better for the environment than buying bottled water.
2) Visit local farmer’s markets. They’ll have fresh produce at great prices that hasn’t traveled thousands of miles to get to you.
3) Look at the glass half full. Optimism isn’t a false sense of reality; it’s choosing to make your reality a happier place.
4) Model healthy habits for your children, both for nutrition and fitness. They do look up to you as a role model, even though they might not always show it. The photo below is a good friend of mine and his daughter stretching together!
5) Keep your brain in tip-top shape by reading often.
6) Skip fad diets. If you see products that promise you’ll lose “x pounds in y days”, cure your chronic diseases, or eliminate hunger – they’re lying.
7) Move your body! Avoid sitting too much - get up during the day, even if it’s just for a few minutes, to move around. Schedule regular exercise into your days.
8) Choose a new fruit or vegetable each week to try. You’ll have fun looking at ways to prepare something and might discover a new favorite.
9) Get regular check-ups and have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked. These issues, when caught early, can often be addressed with simple lifestyle changes.
10) Cut down on sugar sweetened beverages. Most don’t provide any good nutrition for our bodies, and can easily be replaced with water.
11) Find a stress management technique that works for you. Try boxing, running, meditation, journaling, knitting, getting a massage, or any other activity that might help you calm down.
12) Choose natural whole foods over processed foods.
13) Travel often. Whether it’s day trips to new places around your home state or flying across the world, traveling opens your eyes to new things and makes you feel more fulfilled. That's Iceland, Maui, and Prague in the photos below.
14) Stop the negative self talk. Love your body and appreciate everything it does for you, regardless of your weight.
15) Wash your hands often.
16) Create a reasonable budget for yourself or your household. Incorporate a mix of saving and spending. Being able to save up for something and pay for it upfront makes it that much sweeter knowing there’s no debt to come home to.
17) Brown bag your lunches. It’ll allow you to create healthier meals and will save you a lot of money compared to eating out everyday.
18) Bike or walk to errands in a reasonable distance from your house. It saves money, reduces your carbon footprint, and increases your weekly physical activity.
19) Don’t worry needlessly about minor mistakes and other people’s opinons. In Bernard Baruch’s words, “those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter.”
20) Smile and laugh. A lot. As you can see below, I tend to have no trouble with this ;)
21) Get outside a lot. Fresh air and sunshine can always improve a bad day. Be sure to wear sunscreen.
22) Teach your kids about where food comes from. When I ask a child where we get milk, I love when they can answer “a cow” instead of “the store.” Visit a farm and let them see the animals or pick some produce (strawberry season is right upon us)!
23) Focus on experiences with your loved ones rather than materialistic pursuits. You’ll come away with many more memories and much less useless crap.
24) Make the switch from refined grains, like white bread and white rice, to whole grains like wheat bread and brown rice.
25) Make family fitness fun. Go on outdoor hikes, family bike rides, jump on a trampoline, or compete in a “Just Dance” competition on Wii.
26) Eat fish. It’s got lots of omega-3 fatty acids for heart and brain health.
27) Sign up for a race. It might be a 5K, marathon, triathlon, cycling event, swimming race – anything. You’ll be amazed at the sense of pride you feel when you complete it!
Cheers to happy, healthy living!
National Trails Day falls on the first Saturday in June each year – coming up in just a few days on June 2nd this year! Trails give people a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of city or suburban life and explore the wilderness. It’s a great chance to experience the peace and tranquility of nature, while also getting a great workout in. There are trails for people of all abilities, from mostly flat walks through the woods to hikes up large mountains!
Visit the American Hiking Society’s website
to find organized events in your state for National Trails Day. You might come across a hike, walk, horseback ride, geocaching event, or more! There are some volunteer opportunities too where you can help clean up trails – a great way to give back to the community.
Here are a few local events to highlight for those of you in Massachusetts:
- Leominster, MA - Join the Leominster Trail Stewards for a sponsored 4 mile hike along the Nashua River through several interesting wildlife habitats on Sunday, June 3rd from 12-3.
- Milton, MA - Join LL Bean as they organize a group full moon hike to the summit of Blue Hills at 7PM on Sunday, June 3rd. This event is currently full, but many times people cancel at the last minute so it can’t hurt to add your name to the wait list.
- Westborough, MA - Sudbury Valley Trustees will host a celebration and tour for the brand new trail loop on Walnut Hill in Southborough. Meet at the Sawink Farm Trailhead on Walker Street in Westborough on Saturday, June 2nd at 10AM.
Though I won’t be celebrating National Trails Day this Saturday – I’ll be doing the Escape the Cape Triathlon instead – I will be tackling some trails later in June when I visit California. The one I’m most excited for? Yosemite’s 4 mile trail! Interestingly, this trail is longer than 4 miles and is about 9.6 round trip. It brings you up to Glacier Point in Yosemite and I can’t wait for the amazing views!
Are you planning on walking or hiking any trails this weekend? Anyone want to share their favorite trails? We’d love to hear from you!
On Sunday, Terry and I participated in the North Shore Tour de Cure
. This event is put on by the American Diabetes Association and helps raise funds to support diabetes education and research. We were especially excited to participate in this event since my 7 year old cousin, Ben, has Type 1 diabetes. He’s got such a great spirit about it, so we thought it would be awesome to raise money that will go towards hopefully someday finding a cure for diabetes.
We decided to participate in the “Gran Fondo” – a 100 mile century bike ride course. Now, I suppose when I decided to tackle my first bike ride longer than 20 miles, I probably should’ve a) chosen a shorter distance, or b) chosen a flat course. Of course, that’s not necessarily my style – I love a challenge. Though I got a little nervous when I read the course description as follows:
“Some said the 2011 route wasn’t tough enough. Some said it wasn’t epic enough. Some said we didn’t climb enough. That has all changed for 2012. The 100 mile Gran Fondo is unique to the North Shore Tour de Cure and this year we will up the ante as the Gran Fondo heads north to the big hills of Southern New Hampshire for a truly epic event. Bring your teammates and the climbing gears!”
And then got even more nervous when I saw this course route…
Tried to put nerves aside but was definitely feeling anxious the day before! The night before the event, Terry and I decided to get a hotel closer to the start so we wouldn’t have to get up at 4AM to make the drive to the north shore. We ate a nice pasta dinner at the restaurant and then hung out watching TV while I got our snacks all ready for the next day. We knew we’d need some good sources of quick digesting carbs during the ride, so we packed up things like dried cranberries, gummy lifesavers, fig newtons, and pretzels. Plus we threw in some slim jims for a little sodium boost (these are my favorite for a quick salty snack on a really long ride).
Alarm went off at 5:30 and we were up, dressed, and ready to go in 15 minutes. Grabbed some bagels on our way to the start, checked in, did some last minute bike checks, and before we knew it, the time came to start. The ride started at 7AM – the pics below are from just a few minutes before the start; we're ready to ride. And yes, I got made fun of throughout the ride for my long socks (which you can't see) and that gray sweatshirt, but it was a tad chilly when we started and I like to be warm! I did toss the sweatshirt around mile 16 when it warmed up though.
Here’s my quick recap of the miles:
- Mile 0.3: Already way outpaced by everyone else, haha! I knew I’d be slow, but thought there might be some other people who were going slow too.
- Mile 16: First rest stop. Felt great and kept a much quicker pace the first 16 miles than I thought I would.
- Miles 24-37: Or as I call them, HELL. As you can see from the course route I posted earlier, these were some insane hills. I am awful at climbing hills. This led to me going all of 3.8 miles per hour up some of them and hoping I wouldn’t start rolling backwards.
- Mile 50: Almost started to cry. Saw another hill after I thought we were all done.
- Miles 65-75: Back and shoulders started to get sore, but the terrain leveled out and the riding felt much easier on my legs.
- Mile 78: At the rest stop before the “bail out” option where you could ride down a side street and cut your route to 79 miles. We were going slow, and I knew we wouldn’t make the cut off time, but the SAG wagon guys told us that we were keeping good pace and we should keep going. So we decided to keep on the 100 mile route!
- Mile 83: Hurt my knee. Don’t know if I did something specifically at that point or if it just caught up to me from all the earlier climbing, but at this point every downward stroke on the bike just created shooting pain to my knee. The next few miles were very slow because of this.
- Mile 90: Last rest stop. Support vehicles were being cut off, so we were given the option of continuing on unsupported or take the ride back. Because of my knee, Terry urged me to take the ride. While I normally would’ve pushed through a little pain, this was bad enough that I decided I should take the ride because I didn’t want to end up getting stranded miles from the finish! Terry went on to finish unsupported (which as it turns out, after we made this decision, the guy from the other SAG wagon decided he wanted Terry to have support and feel comfortable the whole way so he volunteered more of his time that day to follow him into the finish – what an awesome guy!).
- Mile 100: Terry finishes!
All in all, it was a very challenging and tough day for me but very rewarding! Of course, I was upset that I didn’t make it all the way to 100 miles, but I figured 90 miles is still pretty darn amazing and kept my knee from getting hurt further. I’m happy I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone for this event, and it made it more worthwhile being for such a great cause.
Post race smiles in the car getting ready to drive home!