Day 120 – Cut short by carbs

30 04 2010

Yesterday’s 10-mile run fell a mile short due to an experiment. I’ve been trying to find the right energy/blood sugar boost to get me through longer runs. I’m picky about this…don’t want anything that’s going to slosh in my stomach, and eating gummies, Gu, etc. makes me want to hurl. I picked up Dex4 at Target. It’s flavored glucose for diabetics packaged in a small, 2 oz. plastic bottle meant to quickly raise low blood sugar with 15 grams of liquid carbs. Seemed perfect to fit into my running skirt pocket for chugging.

At mile 4, I downed my “Berry Burst Liquid Blast” and kept moving. The taste was tolerable! But a half mile later I felt a bit nauseous. Too fruity… At mile 6 I was running by my house, where I stopped to check my blood sugar on the porch — it was just under 100 — good to go for another 4 miles. By mile 8, cramping knives hit my stomach and had me sprinting home in pain. No way was that 10th mile happening. And so much for my stomach for the rest of the day.

This is why trial and error is key to my long runs (only three left ’til the race). Now I know Dex4 is not an option. Monday’s Denver Post had a relevant article: “You can fuel your body like an athlete: Timed carbohydrates and liquids will keep you running strong”

“‘Athletes who run more than 90 consecutive minutes must continue to refuel the muscles and the brain with carbohydrates,’ says Bouquet. ‘About 30 to 60 grams (100 to 250 calories) of carbohydrates per hour from ‘go-gurts,’ dried fruit, frozen grapes, sport drinks, gels and bars, and even jelly beans will do the trick.’…Fluids are vital during a race as well to prevent dehydration that can drastically affect performance, says Bouquet. She recommends switching back and forth between water and sports drinks — 6 to 10 ounces every 15 minutes — during endurance events to supply fluids as well as essential electrolytes (especially sodium).”

I’m reminded why 9+ miles (more than 90 minutes for me) has always been intimidating. Even non-diabetics have to worry about this as the article describes:

“So it’s important not to ‘bonk’ — the term used to describe what happens when muscle fuel (glycogen) is depleted and a runner ‘hits the wall.’ The brain cannot burn fat for energy, says Bouquet; it needs carbohydrates before and during strenuous events. Otherwise, blood-sugar levels drop drastically and cause disorientation and other symptoms of hypoglycemia.”

My next experiment includes a handheld water bottle called an Amphipod that has a pouch for my glucose tablets (sticking to solid form). Thinking I’ll fill it with Gatorade to sip along the way to give me extra carbs and electrolytes. Will try to grab a few waters at the stations on the course — but I’m fearful of the “stomach sloshing” and needing to pee! Will try out the Amphipod on my planned 12-mile run Sunday — the longest practice run before the actual race on May 16.

To those readers who have done a half marathon or more — please share what you ate and drank along the way. I’m very open to suggestions… My two-mile recovery run today will be a nice break. Hands-free with no food or drink required!


Day 97 – Moved by chefs

7 04 2010

I love the Food section in the Denver Post on Wednesdays almost as much as I love food itself. It’s filled with new restaurant reviews and inspirational recipes I clip and save with best intentions to cook.

Today, I read this Associated Press story: Celeb chefs launch healthy food drive about the momentum Jamie Oliver (see my Day 88 – Revolutionary food post), Rachel Ray and others are creating to get people to eat better for a healthier lifestyle.

Another article: “Quiet chef’s book a commanding work,” ironically, opens with: “Before chefs were entertainers and celebrities, they were craftsmen…” got me thinking about how these new, celebrity chefs-on-a-mission are so brilliant for coming out of the kitchen and onto the screens to influence people.

To change the habits of an overly obese nation, you go to where the people are — to West Virginia if you’re Jamie Oliver. Then you go straight to their living rooms where they’re watching the tube: the mother of the TV dinner, fast food commercials and sedentary evenings often blamed as a root cause for our unhealthy nation.

So if they can’t pull the plug on the flat screens, at least they are creating reality shows about overweight people competing to shred the most pounds and entertaining chefs are cooking real, healthy food. Michael Pollen wrote a book about it (see Day 27 – Rules to eat by post), but I’m guessing a lot more people who needed the information saw it on Oprah versus reading the book.

It’s all fine — use the best means, including the first lady and television, to move a nation to move more and eat less junk! Ironically, I turned on the TV tonight to do Classical Stretch for arms, legs and abs. (I admit I really couldn’t live — or exercise as readily — without the idiot box!)

In other electronic-dependence news (a.k.a. my iPod)…and in honor of “40 days to go ’til my 40th,” I’m compiling a list of 40 favorite songs for race day entertainment to get me through approx. 130 minutes (that’s 10-minute miles for the half marathon if all goes well). If you have a suggestion, please send it my way…

My top 40 song of the day is “Prayin’ for Rain” by Soulhat (a favorite band from Austin that I listened — and ran — to in my Atlanta days). I’m dedicating this song to trading the inches of snow we woke up to in Colorado for spring rain showers! And you can run to this song in rain, snow or shine…

Day 88 – Revolutionary food

30 03 2010

My week started with a “just get-it-done” exercise day — fitting in a Classical Stretch on Monday. I’ve been seeing a lot of Naked Chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and was surprised to see his reality show that started airing on CBS last Friday is based in Huntington, West Virginia — a few hours from my hometown. He put his first Jamie’s Kitchen in the U.S. there, because it is one of the unhealthiest places in the country. Community members can go there to learn about food and — very importantly — how to COOK. (In defense of WV and my loyal blog-reader friends who live there — not everyone is unhealthy, and I personally grew up eating very fresh vegetables from my mother’s garden and my grandma’s kitchen.)

In the U.K. Jamie’s similar kitchens helped change the eating habits of residents and improve school lunches. I applaud his efforts. And he’s a smart guy for building a brand out of this cause and promoting the fact that unless the government helps out with policies and funding, change won’t be in the picture.

Lots of good info. and recipes on his website — including this quote:
“We just need to rediscover our common sense: if you want to curl up and eat macaroni and cheese every once in a while – that’s alright! Just have a sensible portion next to a fresh salad, and don’t eat a big old helping of chocolate cake afterwards.”

Day 77 – My meat eater

18 03 2010

Hungry tiger at the Denver Zoo

Zach and I went to the zoo this morning while the spring weather is still here and he has his mornings free. Sadly, there is snow blowing in soon… and next year, my little buddy will go to school all day. That is starting to hit me and make me feel bad for not always making the most of our mornings.

A quick trip before kindergarten gave us time to watch the seal and tiger feedings. The zoo keeper (is that the official title?) strategically placed raw meat on logs and rocks around the tiger’s outdoor space. Then the giant was let out on a carnivorous treasure hunt! Zach watched in amazement as the tiger made his way to all the piles of hide-and-seek meat. And then he told me he could be a tiger — and just eat meat all day.

Oh my son… I have been trying so hard to stuff more vegetables and fruit into you lately. Being a tiger must sound like a dream! I can barely get you to eat one color a day, not to mention 5 servings. Even just eating fish like the seal would be better than your meat and carb diet…

Anna, on the opposite side of the garden fence, will eat almost whatever you put in front of her. She would be fine as a vegetarian giraffe — eating greens like a champ. She will snack on raw peppers, carrots, fruit of all colors and will also eat meat like a tiger.

I have made the same meals for both kids for six years. Pink and blue plates with the same choices. Are they really just programmed so differently? I was a picky eater as a kid (maybe still…), so I often wonder — is Zach the oddball, or is Anna?

I think I have to chalk it up to one-out-of-two-ain’t-bad logic and just keep slicing apples, peeling oranges and sneaking squash into the spaghetti sauce. Maybe we can have a treasure hunt for grapes and green beans?

Right now we just need fresh groceries — or we will all have to become carnivores living out of the freezer. The closest grocery store is 8 miles away, which makes it tough to fit into my day. I should have just literally run to the grocery on my afternoon run, but I happily stopped at 6 miles. There is a meeting tonight about a grocery store finally opening in our neighborhood, promising fresh, local produce and organic choices. And lucky for Zach and other tigers in the neighborhood — there will also be a butcher!

Day 32 – Happy Heart Health Month

1 02 2010

Turns out February, with all of it’s heart-adorned decorations, is annually declared as American Heart Month by the President. A good thing when, according to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and the greatest health threat to women in the United States. Each year cardiovascular disease accounts for one in three women’s deaths.

My dad survived a heart attack at age 49. His father died of one at age 48. Neither of them were overweight, and they ate a generally healthy diet – especially my dad who has never been a smoker. With my gene pool and gender against me, I am conscious of heart health, and have had special scans as part of diabetes research studies through my endocrinologist. My cholesterol and blood pressure are fantastic…but given my family history I’ve always been concerned about what might change in my 40s. Yet another reason for this daily exercise project! (Did Classical Stretch for core and hips today on my rest day from running…)

Daily exercise is, of course, high on the list for heart health, along with the diet changes that I’m trying to focus on — more fiber, less fat. Here are the top changes I’ve made in the last month:

1) Oatmeal for breakfast (steel-cut, real deal)
2) Agave nectar (to sweeten tea, oatmeal, etc.)
3) Less red meat (try for once per week max)
4) More fruit, less processed carbs for snacks (apples vs. crackers)
5) More skim milk (2-3 glasses a day vs. 0-1)

These changes made my list because I like these foods. I’m not trying to make myself eat raw carrots and rice cakes, because that is a huge struggle for me. But eating more food that you actually like — and trimming some things out — doesn’t seem so bad.

When I was 12 and diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, the doctor and nutritionist made me keep food logs to be sure my daily insulin dose was correct. You had to count “exchanges” for each meal based on portions – long before nutrition labels came along. This made a teenage food log rebel out of me! Adding my insulin pump in my 20s meant I could eat just about anything, as long as I calculated the carbohydrates pretty closely. But no more logs!

Looking at the American Heart Association site, I actually found this fruit and veggie log that I am going to try for a week. I especially love fruit and serve vegetables most days for dinner. (Confession: in tonight’s rush to kids’ basketball and ballet, we had tacos, and I didn’t even have time to add the lettuce or tomato…) But 5 a day? Am I getting that recommended amount? I doubt it… I haven’t tracked it in more than 20 years. So in the name of research experiments and Heart Month I’m going to – at least for this week.

Day 27 – Rules to eat by

27 01 2010

I need to remember to check the weather forecast more closely. Following my running plan, I did a Classical Stretch episode and a very long walk with my energetic lab today. Had I known a snow storm was coming tomorrow – when I am supposed to run 5 miles – I would have swapped those days. Can I run in the snow for that long? Will let you know…

I have an ever-growing list of books on my reading list that I am determined to get through this year. I read ABOUT books online and in the Sunday paper all the time, but rarely allow myself time to sit and read. In the name of research, I requested a sizable stack from the library’s bookmobile — the great RV that pulls into my neighborhood weekly since we’re 10 miles from a library. I guess even well-read people are lazy!

The first in the stack was Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, which everyone in the U.S. should read asap. He also wrote The Omnivores Dilemma and In Defense of Food (still on my reading list).

This Huffington Post article by Pollan – “‘Food Rules:’ A Completely Different Way to Fix the Healthcare Crisis” gives you a great preview.

I really read it in under an hour and may read it aloud to my husband, so he is more on board with the changes I have gradually made in our pantry over the last several years. He complains about higher grocery bills, less meat in our dinners and MY longstanding rules outlawing high fructose corn syrup. This book should prove to him that I am not a crazy mom needlessly robbing our children of the pleasures of our youth like Pop Tarts and Lucky Charms. Pollan says he wrote the book as a shortcut for those who won’t wade through thicker books on nutrition. Perfect for those of us who want to simplify our diets AND our lives.

A few of my favorites:
“#7 – Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grade cannot pronounce.” My third-grader (who loves raw peppers, fish, rice cakes and salad) will like testing this one!

“#20 – It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car.” My kindergartener (who loves anything from a box with a prize) will detest testing this one!

Day 12 – Soda saga

12 01 2010

As I type, Scott is in the living room trying out one of my recorded “Classical Stretch” shows. He is a very strong runner, but wants to add more stretching to help with some frequent pains.

Today, Miranda is stretching on a golf course, so that seems like an okay guy thing to Scott. I’m not sure he’s ever done some of these moves before! Ooops – I’m not supposed to watch!

Today reminded me that in Colorado beautiful sunshine can interrupt the bitter-cold of winter (December was the 7th coldest on record here since they started writing things down) and almost feel like spring. 55 degrees called for a 4-mile run through my neighborhood. I would love to get to 5 miles by Sunday – we shall see.

Since I work on the computer and read a lot of news to make a living, I tend to get distracted by random articles that I need to share. Today, I found this blog with an ad running in New York City to encourage people to give up soda and other sugary drinks. It’s pretty gross, but if you ever drink soda, you should watch: I am pretty sure I should show that to my kids in case they want to start drinking soda.

As a diabetic, I am proud to say I have only had one non-diet soda in the past 27 years (accidentally, when I bought the wrong package of Sierra Mist a few months ago – and wow did that spike my blood sugar quickly). I am trying to cut back on diet soda too – thinking I’ve had enough Saccharin, Nutra Sweet, Splenda, etc. to cause some internal damage I hope I never have to see on YouTube. 

Changing eating habits is a constant goal for me — but that’s a whole blog for another day. I am finding that daily exercise helps me drink more water, choose an apple over crackers for a snack and think twice about what I pull out of the fridge for family dinners. Maybe my whole family will end up healthier thanks to my little project. Especially if Scott makes it to the end of this stretching show and watches the soda ad!