Did it Work? – My Half-Ironman on Keto

It had been nearly two weeks since my race. Plenty of time to think of what went well and what didn’t. What I would change, and what I would do the same.

I wanted to do this race on my terms, my way. It was a bit of an experiment on myself in a way. I wanted to do the race entirely Keto… no carbs or sugars whatsoever. My training had gone well staying fat adapted, so why wouldn’t my race?

So the big question is…. Did it work?

Well…

I hate to admit it, but no… I don’t think it did. I felt just as crappy during the run as I did last year, but I had far more sugar/carbs last year. So I can’t base my run on lack of carbs, but I think the bike really suffered.

As I mentioned in my last post, I wasn’t too far into my bike before noticing my muscles just were not responding as well as they have in training. They were tired and achy and didn’t want to push up the hills.

A friend who was also doing Keto started introducing carbs back into his diet in the weeks leading up to the race and he had a fantastic race! So I reached out to Danny Vega from Ketogenic Athlete, a podcast that we listen to regularly.

I explained the whole scenario, and he agreed I should have introduced carbs back into my diet in the week leading up to the race and then took in however many carbs I wanted to on race day.

The reason is, because I am fat adapted and my body uses fat efficiently, I could also have benefited from the quick carbs since I would be using both fuels… fat and carbs.

For races under 2 hours long I should not need carbs.

But I am stubborn and have to learn by doing most often. So now I know that the next half Ironman I do will be utilizing carbs as well 😉

Am I Sticking With Keto?

Absolutely!! I don’t believe there is only one way to eat to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but this has been the only way of eating that has me feeling my absolute best.

The Ketogenic Diet was first developed in the 1920s as a way to treat drug resistant epilepsy. In the 1970s, Dr. Atkins introduced this way of eating for weight control.

Today, we know there are more health benefits to following the Ketogenic Diet.

-Recent studies show that ketones in the body can improve cognitive ability in people with Alzheimers. Studies are also being done to see the effects that ketones have on Parkinsons, MS, and other neurological disorders.

-People with severe migraines (not related to tension type headaches) have found relief on the Ketogenic Diet without the side effects of a lot of the pharmaceutical options.

-For people without major health issues, the Ketogenic Diet can help:

  • lose weight
  • improve memory
  • lower blood pressure
  • eliminate cravings

Many people claim that the Ketogenic Diet is impossible to stick to long term. That it is way too restrictive. This may be true for some people, but I have been eating this way for 6 months and I have no problems with it.

Maybe not having as many options in the food I eat makes it easier. I did best in my exercise regime when I had it planned for me by a professional that told me exactly what to do every day.

But what I love most is that I do not crave bread, or sugar, or chips, etc. I do not feel like I am “white knuckling” it, just hanging on until I can eat crap again.

I feel FANTASTIC! I have even energy throughout the day.

With the exception of hormonal zits once a month, my face has cleared up.

So What I am Saying Is…

If you have tried so many diets and nothing has worked for you, give this a try! You don’t know until you try, and give it an honest months effort. Then you will know!

There are a lot of people out there who are still pro-low fat eating. But obesity, cancer, heart disease…. none of these things have decreased since the introduction of the low-fat era!

FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT!

 

Educate yourself. Do your research. Look up studies. Get blood work done before you start and a few months in if that makes you comfortable. Buy books.

I have 3 or 4 Keto Diet books. They give good explanations on why this diet works for many people, but also have many delicious recipes!!

My latest is a buy from Costco, by Leanne Vogel (a Calgarian), called The Keto Diet. She lays it out plainly, and has some fantastic recipes! *To all the Trim Healthy Mamas out there, I found some of her recipes very similar to some THM “S” recipes, with some tweaks “Iced Tea Lemonade Gummies”, “Toasted Coconut Marshmallows”. Eating mostly “S” recipes is very similar to eating the ketogenic way.

So, What’s Next?

Well, in a week and a half I will be doing the half-marathon at the Willow Creek Wilderness Walk/Run in Fort Macleod. That should be interesting given my serious lack of run training.

But I am looking forward to doing a lower key, fun, local event!

Then:

June 9 – Ladiesfest with Kiera (8 km)

June 16 – 83 km bike “Hope with every Pedal” for A-T

 

 

 

 

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So close….

As I write this, I have 9 full days before race day… it is getting so close! The weird thing is I am more nervous about it than I was last year, and I am better trained and weigh less!

Last year I just wanted to finish. I just wanted to survive.

And the goal still remains to finish the race. There are a lot of things that can happen during a race to prevent a person from finishing…

-panic attack in the water

-getting punched in the face in the water by another swimmer (accidentally of course;)

-really adverse weather

-a bike malfunction that is not repairable roadside

-crashing on the bike

-severe muscle cramps

-heat exhaustion

You get the idea. Sometimes there are things outside of a racers control that prevents them from finishing the race.

So the first goal is definitely to be able to finish the race.

But having trained more consistently and weighing 25 lbs less than when I did St. George last year, I have higher expectations for myself.

This is my results from last year:

Swim – 59:17

Swim to Bike Transition – 6:14

Bike – 3:42:33

Bike to Run Transition – 6:57

Run – 3:07:36

Total Time – 8:02:37

 

I Can Do Better

I believe I can do the swim in about 55 minutes or less. I have not done as much swim training as I had hoped to, but what I have done, has gone well. The biggest thing will be to stay calm in the water and keep moving forward instead of doggy paddling.

Actually my real plan is to get in the water at the same time as Al, and have him “pull” me… he usually finishes in a respectable time so should work out good for me ;D… LOL!

I don’t know if I can improve too much on the swim to bike transition time. The wet suit strippers help get the wet suit off, but then I have to run over to my bike, (a little wobbly from being horizontal for an hour), change my shirt (I like to wear a bike jersey on the bike… just feels more comfortable), make sure I have my water bottles secure, put my helmet on, bike shoes on, and then take my bike off the rack and run to where I am allowed to get on my bike.

Oh yea, and make sure my wet suit, goggles, swim cap, ear plugs, etc, are all put into a bag with my race number on it so volunteers can bring it to the finish area.

Bike

I want to take 22 minutes off the bike and finish in 3:20:00. Even though I have not done any outdoor bike rides this year yet, I have worked hard on the trainer.

I LOVE biking. But last year I had to push my bike up part of Snow Canyon. I was not trained well enough, and didn’t have a granny gear. I still don’t have a granny gear, but I think I am better equipped to make it up there this year!

(Snow Canyon is the picture at the top of my web page. I keep it there not only because it is incredibly beautiful there, but also as a reminder of what I am working towards!)

Then after being grumpy about the walk of shame pushing my bike up a hill, the fast downhill into town was not fast at all. The wind was very strong and was almost pushing me over on the bike, so that I had to pedal going downhill!!

So if conditions are better this year, I don’t think its unreasonable for me to be able to finish in 3:20.

I think I can drop the bike to run transition down to 5 minutes. After putting my bike on the rack and making sure my helmet and bike shoes are in the appropriate bag, I change out of my jersey into a technical t-shirt. Again, this takes extra time, but I like a fresh shirt to start the run to prevent chafing.

Then I put my socks on and my runners, put my visor on and grab my race belt, if I am using it. Still undecided, but I am thinking I can put a salt stick in there in case I get cramps, Advil in case I am really sore, and maybe little baggies of coconut oil in case I feel I need some quick energy from fat.

Run

The hardest part is running off the bike. It feels unnatural and weird in the legs to run after pedaling for 3+ hours. So my first goal for the run is to run the first mile without walking at all. (Lofty goals, I know… ;D)

Right now the forecast for race day is a high of 32 degrees Celsius. I am hoping I can finish before it gets that hot, but it is indescribable how hot it actually gets up on the red rocks. There is usually not a breath of wind out there, and we run on a road that is surrounded by high red rocks. It feels like a sauna!!

That being said, my first priority is to stay safe, and not over heat. So even though I want to run a lot more than I did last year, I won’t risk heat exhaustion to do it.

I will walk if necessary but I want to complete the run in well under 3 hours… preferably 2:45. But considering my lack of run training this is pretty lofty for me.

All these goals puts me around 7:20:00 finish time. I would be OK with that!!

But whatever happens on race day will happen. I just hope I enjoy the day and finish with a smile!!

I will leave you with this video to see what is so great about St. George, Utah!

 

 

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Triathlon Swim Training – My Nemesis

I hate swimming. At least I tell myself that often simply because I am not good at it. I have a very real fear of drowning and have actually had nightmares about drowning. So I always dread getting in the pool that first time when triathlon swim training begins.

Last week Monday Logan and I were ready to go bright and early to the pool. The plan was to be at the pool at 6 am when it opened, but we ended up not getting there until 6:45 because my youngest woke up with a fever and that needed to be looked after first.

It actually worked in our favour though, because most of the early birds were getting out of the pool when we were getting in, so we had lots of room! We did an easy 800m and it actually felt really good!

My breathing was good and I could swim continuously without getting very short on breath. Last year when I started swimming I could do 50m max before stopping for a break… I was constantly gasping for breath!

That was the only swim I got in last week.

Today at lunch, Logan and I went for a swim again and did 1000m. We did a combination of swim, pull, kick, and threw in a few 25 m sprints in there too. Again, I felt great! There is hope for me yet! 😉

Strategies for Open Water Swim

Knowing I have an issue with open water swimming, I have been looking up strategies on the best way to prepare myself.

The issues most people have with open water swimming is all or a combination of these:

  • cloudy or murky water where you can’t see anything
  • cold water (this literally can take your breath away before you even start swimming!)
  • Feeling claustrophobic from the wet suit or from so many swimmers being close to you
  • Fear of becoming disorientated
  • plants or fish that may brush against you

Paul Newsome in an article at www.220triathlon.com suggests slowly exposing yourself to these triggers in a controlled environment. Doing these swims in a local lake with friends as the other swimmers can do a lot to help you practice calming techniques for the real race day!

The things that bother me the most are the murky water, cold water, and the wet suit.

1. The cold water is actually the least of my worries, because even though it can take your breath away when you first get in, once you have a little water in your wet suit, your body warms it up nicely.

But it’s the pace that gets to me…once the group you are in is allowed to get in the water, you have to swim out to the start line, and this makes you have to quickly adapt to the cold water and do a quick swim even before the gun goes off!.

And last year I wasn’t even near the starting bouy before the gun went off…lol! I guess that’s another goal for 2018….get to the starting bouy before the gun goes off for my age group…:D

2. The murky water is my second least favourite thing. When the water is dark or murky, and all I see is swirling floaties in front of my face, and that makes me want to get my face out of the water right away!! I have tried closing my eyes, but that is even more scary.

3. But the worst thing for me is the wet suit. I have a decent wet suit that has a lot of flex through the shoulders and chest, so I should not feel constricted. But I hate things near my neck, and the wet suit comes near around my neck…if it didn’t it would let in too much water and cause drag.

I was also near the top of the weight range for my particular wet suit when I wore it, so hopefully this year I will be a little less and maybe that will help!

The best way to prepare for any of these things is to try get into any lake in the area in April…BRRRR! Also, in a month or so I will get John to go swimming with me once in while to splash and be a nuisance to simulate hundred of swimmers around me.

He offered several times to do that last year, but I would just get mad at him if he did that, so I declined. This year I will try not to be too much of a princess and allow him to splash and push me around in the water :O

Last Weeks Workouts

Last week I did 3 bikes, 2 runs, 1 swim and 1 weight workout. All the workouts went really well, but Fridays bike ride was tough. It was 2x 20 minute efforts at threshold power, and I did not have enough food in me before doing them. I have not had any issues with being hungry during workouts, but when I was done that bike ride, I headed straight to the fridge!!

My runs were OK, but I am going to make more of an effort to run with people this week. Miles fly by when running with friends, but drag by when I run alone!

The plan for this coming up week as far as work outs is pretty much the same as last week. Next week I am going to look for a different weight workout as I am getting bored with the one I have. Good to switch it up once in a while 🙂

 

The Food

The eating went good last week….it’s been really easy so far with the Keto way of eating! I haven’t been tracking what I eat because I have felt good and the weight has slowly been coming off. Yesterday I was 162lbs so half a pound down from last week.

Its not much but still down. And a non scale victory is that I finally could wear my Boise 70.3 shirt for a workout! Truth is it will fit much better with 5 or more lbs off still, but it fit.

(Sorry for the sideways pic…still trying to figure some of these things out)

Saturday I decided I should track what I eat to see if fat/protein/carb macros were close to what they should be. They were pretty close to what I should be at, but I was pretty high in calories.

We have been reading a book by Maria and Craig Emmerich called Keto. There is so much information in there that it is going to take a while for me to get through! What they did say in there that calories still do matter, but not so much in the calories in/calories out way.

A quote from the book:

“Calories and hormones matter; a ketogenic diet is so powerful because it can be used to address both. A ketogenic diet keeps our hormones in balance, which helps us to feel full longer and eliminates cravings – and we can do this while eating fewer calories.” Maria and Craig Emmerich

So this week I am going to try to be more aware of how much and what I am eating. I really hate tracking food because then I have to measure everything. But if my weight stalls or I need a little boost then I think I will have to track things I eat to find out why.

More and more people are jumping on the Keto wagon lately, and have been losing weight, which is exciting! I am happy I am doing this because I feel great and I really do not have any cravings at all, so if it works for others as well, that makes me happy!

 

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70.3 Training – Here We Go!

This coming up Saturday is 16 weeks until Ironman 70.3 St. George. That means that my 70.3 training officially begins! I have been trying to build a decent base, but the last few weeks haven’t been that great. But it is “GO” time now and important that I workout every day. My goal is still the same… I want to have a fantastic race and enjoy it, and the only way to do that is to go into it fully trained!

This Past Week…

I only did 2 workouts this past week, but I enjoyed them both ;). Tuesday morning I ran with Becky and it was absolutely beautiful out! There was no wind, the sun was shining, and I believe it was only -6 degrees Celsius…perfect running weather!

Thursday I did a bike workout on Trainer Road that had three 9 minute reps that were just above my threshold. Between each rep was 6 minutes easy spinning, so plenty of rest. I really enjoyed this workout and will probably do it often.

That was all I did for exercise. Because I work casual, I don’t always know which days/nights I will be working ahead of time. So I ended up working Wednesday, even though I didn’t plan to. This will probably be the hardest thing in the next four months…getting my workout in no matter what happens that day.

This Weeks Workout Plan

Because I am weak muscular wise, I really want to have regular weight training in my plan. I have been trying to find a reasonable plan to go with my swim, bike, and run training that will not overwhelm me.

I came across Mark Allens (six-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion) 12 recommended strength exercises for triathletes who are over 35, have limited training time, and want to guard against injury.

They are:

  1. Lat Pulldown
  2. Leg extensions
  3. Leg Curls
  4. Bench Press
  5. Squats
  6. Lateral Dumbbell raise
  7. Calf raises
  8. Dumbbell Pullover
  9. Backward Lunges
  10. Bicep Curls
  11. Tricep Extension
  12. Leg Press

And sit ups are recommended often as a strong core will keep me in good form through the whole race!

To start off with, I will do 1 set of 15 repetitions of each of these exercises 2 days each week. This will probably add a half hour to my workout, so I will try to do it on days that I have a little more time, as long as it’s not two days in a row.

Monday – Strength Training and 1 hour bike

Tuesday – Run 3-4 miles with 2 minute hill repeats ( possible noon swim)

Wednesday – Morning Swim (if I didn’t do a noon swim Tuesday), 1 hour bike

Thursday – Strength Training and 3 mile run

Friday – Morning Swim and 1 hour bike

Saturday – 5 mile run

Benefits of Strength Training for Triathletes

Strength training is highly beneficial for every single person, no matter what your age. But, as a person ages, it is even more important.

In our 30s and 40s we start to lose muscle mass, but in our 50s, we start to lose it faster. But even if you are in your 50s or older, it’s not too late to start weight training! You can significantly slow the process, and keep yourself active as you age!

I recently watched a video on Facebook posted by Crossfit Pincher Creek , about a 65-year-old Grandmother doing crossfit because she wanted to be able to play with her grand kids.

If that isn’t motivation, I don’t know what is!

But triathletes often neglect strength training, because, well, they are already training for 3 disciplines with swimming, biking, and running. To train properly, a person needs to be doing each of these 3 disciplines at least 3 times per week…so that is already 9 workouts per week!

And, understandably, most do not want to add a couple more workouts to that load.

But, from what I have read, it is totally worth that extra two workouts per week.

When we are training and racing, we put a very heavy workload onto our legs. During the bike, we push hard gears to go fast, engaging our glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. And when we run, we are using these same muscles, but in a different capacity.

Swimming uses all upper body strength and core muscles. When we swim, we are working our chest, back, biceps, triceps, shoulders, forearms….seriously a great workout!

Even if you are not training for a specific event and just looking for an exercise that is easy on your joints and provides a good cardiovascular workout, I highly recommend adding swimming to your exercise routine every week.

That being said, I hate swimming. I am like a rock and sink rather than float. When I am in a race situation, I usually wear a wet suit because the swim is typically in a cold lake.

A wet suit make you more buoyant, and so the legs easily stay afloat while swimming. So when I am in the pool, I will often put a pull buoy between my legs to keep my legs up and then only use my arms to pull me through the water.

This is a harder workout, because I am not using my legs to kick and help propel me through the water. But it benefits me when it comes to race day, because when participating in a triathlon, I want to save my leg muscles for the bike and run!

 

When we have imbalances in our muscle strength and in the tendons and ligaments supporting these muscles, we are leaving ourselves more prone to injuries.

Women tend to have more knee and hip issues than men, so it is even more important for me to strengthen these areas so I can keep doing the races that I want to do. Bring on the squats, lunges, calf raises, etc!

When we strengthen these muscles and tendons, we are not only able to stay healthy and injury free, but our endurance and speed can increase as well! I am counting on this….;)

Weigh Day

Well, this morning I was pretty nervous to step on the scale. After my little 2 1/2 day sugar/carb fiesta, and gaining 5 lbs, I was hesitant to see what the number was.

I had a good week in the eating department and that definitely showed up on the scale….164.5 this morning! That means I lost the 5 lbs I had gained, plus 1 more.

I am feeling really good, and am excited to see how my body responds to the heavier workout load this week!

I hope you all had a great week, and are sticking to any New Years Resolutions you may have made, remembering it is all about the lifestyle change, not short term change!

 

 

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Ironman 70.3 St. George – My Goal!!

Goals. We all need them to succeed at something, but the hardest part is staying focused on our goals! I am sharing my goals with you to keep me motivated and going in the right direction, and at the same time, hopefully motivating you to begin or continue your journey in fitness as well!

Where my story begins

My husband, John, began doing triathlons about 10 years ago when a friend convinced him to enter a local triathlon. The tri bug bit him hard! He did a couple of sprint triathlons and then jumped right into the half ironman distance, and the full ironman distance!

I loved being at these events. It was so inspiring and motivating to be around all of these people, of all ages, pushing themselves to finish the event they had spent so long training for. And I wanted to be one of them.

When I was 6 months pregnant with our last child, my husband bought me my first road bike. That first year I didn’t even take the bike off of the trainer, and didn’t use it a lot. But the next year, I went out for a ride with a group of friends, on a non windy, beautiful evening. I LOVED it!!

I signed up for a nearby sprint distance triathlon, with an open water swim. I sink more than I float in the water, and I had not practiced swimming with a wet suit….and the water was cold! So I wore a wet suit (a borrowed one that was a bit small…), which helped keep me afloat, but I panicked, felt I couldn’t breathe, and swallowed a whole lot of lake water flavoured with sea doo exhaust. But the bike was so much fun, and the run was OK too.

Fast forward a few years. I finally gather up the courage (with a lot of encouragement from my husband and friends) to sign up for my first 70.3 distance half ironman event in Boise, Idaho, 2014. Training was fun, and the race was fantastic!! I took a few years off and then decided to do Ironman 70.3 St. George, 2017. This is one of the harder 70.3 races, but I had fallen in love with St. George, Utah, when John was doing the full Ironman there. When it switched to 70.3, he continued to race in St George, and our kids also looked forward to our yearly trips there. My friend and training partner who is around the same pace as I am, also signed up. But somewhere along the training season, my motivation fell off. I did not train consistently, and I gained 15 pounds over the year. (I blame it on the rum and eggnog;) Then my friends husband was diagnosed with cancer a few days before the race. Here I was, ready to start a hard race, fat and untrained, and not having my friend able to do it with me. To say my race sucked would be an understatement. But I finished within the time limit and swore I would NEVER do that race again….

Where I am going

I am going to Ironman 70.3 St. George, on May 5, 2018. It does not sit well with me to leave a bad experience in such a beautiful city! I need a re-do. I am determined to succeed. Success to me is maybe different from what success is to someone else. I think we can all decide what success means to us individually. When it comes to triathlon, some athletes simply would like to finish, and finish in the allotted time. Others would like to beat a previous time, or even place top ten in their age group. For me, success at Ironman St. George would mean

  • Finishing
  • Finishing with a much better time than last year
  • Have more fun than last year!!

The first goal is always to finish (though I did want to quit before I hit the first bouy on the Ironman 70.3 St George swim…) Even if I have a crappy race, I want to finish. But it would be so much fun to get a better time AND enjoy this beautiful but tough course!

How I am going to get there

I will get there with a plan. As of Saturday, I have 25 weeks until race day. I will spend the next 9 weeks building a good fitness base and putting some focus on weight loss. Because as much as I know I can do the race at 170 lbs….. I really dont want to. It jiggles a lot, and the jiggles start to hurt a lot. Besides, I really want to be one of those 70 year olds doing Ironman someday…that’s the only chance I will have to make it to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii :D. And if I break my body because it’s carrying too much weight, then that’s not going to happen.

After I have spent 9 weeks fitness building, I will start 16 weeks of triathlon training. I will figure out the specifics of that plan closer to when that time comes, but it will probably involve swimming three times a week, biking three times a week, and running three times a week. Maybe I will fit in some strength training in there too.

Training with friends is so much more fun, so I am going to definitely work that in! And they can call me out on here if I bail on them….that should keep me from canceling…

 

So….

I am planning to post weekly on my progress or (hopefully not) my lack thereof, both in the training department and in the weight department. I will let you know what I have learned, what I still have to learn, and post pictures along the way. I am excited to do this and hope you will enjoy the journey as well!

Remember, you CAN do this too, so join me and let me know how you are doing on your fitness journey!

 

 

 

 

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