KettleWorx Day 1

On Friday, I received a kettlebell in the mail with a dozen DVDs. I've always been a "gym rat" kinda girl, never really one to do fitness or aerobic videos in the comfort of my own home. I don't know, I guess I've thought: "man, I don't know why they are talking to me because if I reply they can't hear me" attitude toward personal trainers on the television. Regardless, I figured I should give it a go and began with the first DVDs in the stack: the Six-Week Body Transformation challenge using the KettleWorx kettlebell.

The 10lb bell was actually the perfect size for me. I was a little unsure at first, because I consider myself a pretty strong gal, but by the end of the first workout I was sweaty and could feel that my muscles were a little worked. The first workout was from the Core DVD. The DVDs are well organized, and each week has its own chapter workout. I am a beginner KettleWorx user, so I started with the beginner DVDs. I hate that word: Beginner. In actuality, the KettleWorx DVDs don't use that terminology. So, I guess I'm not a beginner. I'm just going through the body transformation.

I watched the Intro DVD on Friday, and learned the basic holds, positions, and postures for the proceeding workouts. I got a feeling that Ryan Shanahan, the fitness expert and personal trainer to the stars, was from Canada. He told his viewers to make sure to put the cat away, and I laughed. Anyway, this morning I started the Core DVD. Funny thing, really had to lock the cat up. I had to mute the video halfway through because it was repetitious, and I get annoyed with that easily, but the music in the background was actually decent and not too cheesy. Adam turned on his Blade soundtrack for me. The first intro workout was really good, and when the twenty minutes was up, I was glad to be done. I was hot and sweaty, but I felt really good. My lower back is actually a little tight now. I was excited at how Ryan promoted good posture and the importance of keeping the core tight and the hips/back from swinging. It was also really great how quickly the workouts transitioned. I felt as though I were doing a true circuit workout in the gym with free weights, but I was doing it in the comfort of my own home.

Unfortunately, I have some issues from the get-go with the "Fat Free in 42" e-book that came with the KettleWorx kit. I've never been a big proponent for the fat free diet, and I really like my ice cream. I found that some of the diet goals that the e-book sets for individuals aiming for weight-loss were unrealistic at best. It is not a good idea, in my opinion, to all-of-a-sudden get rid of all "bad foods" from your diet. It's not practical, and it sets individuals up for failure. Plus, there is no evidence that a fat-free diet is even healthy! I think it's incredibly important for those using the KettleWorx program to not just do this single routine three times a week for six weeks... because what will they do after that? Those using the program should also be doing aerobic exercises once a day, like thirty-minutes of running, walking or spinning, in addition to the kettlebell workouts. Fortunately, there are more DVDs than just the Six-Week Body Transformation series, including 10-minute workouts, advanced KettleWorx, and Ultimate Body workouts. If I hadn't received these other DVDs, I'd be led to believe that, after six weeks, I should have the perfect body and wouldn't have to do anything else. There is a serious life-changing goal established if you want to lose weight and live healthy. One can't just work out for six weeks and eat fat-free and think their life is better.

I also don't really know what to say about some of the people in the Fat Free in 42 e-book. One woman looks larger than me, and it claims she has 10% body fat (having lost 25% from just using the kettlebell). If she really had 10% body fat, she'd #1) be unhealthy and #2) have crazy awesome ripply 8-pack abs. Even when I'm down to 14%, I look skinnier than the girl in the e-book. Also, the e-book highlights a woman who lost 40lbs... because the pre-photo is when she's pregnant! Yeah... duh, she lost 40lbs because she had a baby. Not a very good example.

So, for the sake of my own sanity, I am going to ignore the advice of Ryan Shanahan about the fat-free diet (I couldn't possibly go ice-cream free for six weeks, no matter how much fat I want to burn off my body). I am also going to be doing other stuff besides kettlebell workouts, but I'm very interested to see if my core tightens up with the addition of this new cross-training. I'm going to track my body transformation using photographs once a week. Let's see what happens :-D!

Photos from day 1:

Disclaimer: I am not planning on using KettleWorx as my only training. I am currently training for marathons and triathlons, so this is only a supplement to my normal training schedule.

Great Northern Brick Workout

Ian, Adam, and I headed up to Eagle Harbor this afternoon after work to check out Brockway Mountain Drive. A lot of people venture to Brockway by car, and snap a few photos at the top of Eagle Harbor (it's really shape like an eagle!) and the surrounding mountains. I've been to Brockway countless times. It's typically windy, but the eagle-eye view is just incredible (are you catching on to the eagle theme here?). Although we didn't spot any white-headed birds this time, we did make our way through one of my most favorite places in the Keweenaw, and we did so on bikes.

This is one of those "every Michigan cyclist must do" rides. Living in the Keweenaw, it's almost shunned to not have at least attempted it. Some are brave enough to do this crazy mountain road after riding all the way from Houghton on their two-wheels. The three of us decided to throw down our first real hill session of the summer.

We started at the Harbor, and cruised past Lake Bailey to the east base of Brockway Mountain Drive. Once we got there, the hill seemed less than intimidating. It barely climbed for the first two miles, and I feared what was ahead of us. Sure enough, the climb began, and it didn't stop for four more miles. We climbed nearly 1000ft in 2.5miles. Not too bad... except the hill seemed to never stop! We took a corner, and there was more climbing. Another corner, another hill. Sure enough, it wasn't until I couldn't see any trees that we had reached the top. Not too bad, my quads were burning, my lungs ached, but I knew we weren't done. We then decended the rest of the way into Copper Harbor, where we stopped, juuuust after the Mountain Drive merged into M26, turned around and went back up.

The second time up was interesting. It started with a much steeper, much more difficult (15% grade) climb. We basically were out of the saddle and hammering away until we got to the crest. By the time we got to the undulating hills at the top, my quads were screaming barfies. Unfortunately, the road isn't in that great of condition either, so the ride down would have been more fun had it been smooth and not full of pot-holes. It was alright, though. We dropped the hammer on the way back, too, and I think my spedometer read 35mph on a section at some point. Sweet! Check out the ride here.

We then proceeded to throw down a slow transition (hey, we had to change shorts!) and threw on our shoes for some "recovery" running. Luckily, I brought my new Brooks Trances and not only did I look good, I felt great! :-D It was a nice, easy pace for the first half, through the Nature Conservancy trails near Eagle Harbor, which offered us a few more climbs. We popped out on the road and headed back towards Brockway, and at the turnaround decided to throw down some negative splits. My last two miles were 7:20 and 7:26, respectively, and I even told myself to slow down more on the last mile. Not too shabby. Not too much of a recovery run, though.
Check out the run here.

We then took an awesome ice bath in the Harbor, which is freshwater Lake Superior. I was surprised it wasn't colder. I would say I was surprised at how warm the water was, but I can't go that far. It wasn't warm... just not 5C that I thought it was... We were hoping to get some grub from one of the local restaurants (Fitzgeralds), but by the time we finished running and were cleaned up, it was 9:30. Taco Bell sufficed!

Race Report: Liberty Half Iron Triathlon

Well, after much delay, I'm reporting on the half ironman I did two weekends ago (June 13th) at the Liberty Triathlon. This was such a fun entry into the triathlon world in a beautiful part of the Midwest. The race had a great support crew, extraordinary fans, and some pretty inspiring racers, too.

The group of us (seven total) left Friday morning from Houghton in The Bike Shop's Dodge Sprinter van. It was a comfortable ride, and those in the back watched two or three movies during the ride. We stopped in Duluth at Amazing Grace Bakery for lunch, and they made me a huge, delicious chicken salad on greens. The bread smelled and looked delicious, too. We didn't linger too long in Duluth, though. We arrived just after 4 to the hotel for packet pickup. Leiah was there, too, so it was really perfect timing. She followed us back to the campground (we stayed at Baker Park) where we set up tents and rolled around on our bikes for a little while. Some of the guys went to St Paul to watch the professional cycling races, and Leiah, Ian, Adam, and I went to Leiah's boyfriend, Jared's, to have dinner. He made a delicious spaghetti and I was definitely satisfied. We went back to the campground around dark and headed to bed.

The early rise of 5am was easy, because I was a little anxious. I wasn't that nervous, though, which was nice. I had a few handfuls of peanut butter puffs (Envirokids) and drank some water, got ready for the race. We took our gear to the transition zone as early as we could, and got ourselves marked. I went with the Trances, even though I hadnt ran much in them... only a few miles. Before I knew it, there was only half an hour before race start. Then fifteen mintues. The starter had us gather on the beach for the staggered wave starts. We were the fourth to go- all of us except Leiah- and I knew I just needed to swim my own race and get into a rhythm. The way out was nice and calm, the waves were to our back. I got into a nice rhythm indeed, but found myself getting T-boned by some other swimmers that had temporarily lost their direction. I then realized I had to pee. I tried to go, focused on it and everything, to no avail. It didn't take long to get to the Olympic turnaround, but the long-course turnaround took forever. I took the turn wide, and was being overtaken by swimmers in white caps (the wave behind me). I didn't let it bother me, though, and tried to stay focused. I got out of the water and my legs felt tired, it was hard to run, but I tried to control my breathing while taking off the suit. I got to my bike and noticed that Andrew was already taking his bike off the rack. It surprised me that he beat me out of the water, but I grabbed my bike, put on my helmet and shoes, and rolled out of T1.

The bike felt great. I stayed aero as much as I could. It didn't take long to get passed by Adam, Caleb, and Jon. I tried to stay focused here, too, and just go my own race. I tried to stay as close to 20mph as I could, and my Garmin Forerunner was telling me my instantaneous velocity. My front bottle (Cee Gees Podium Quest) was filled with Kona Kola Nuun and Cytomax (separate tanks). Its position between my clip-ons was great; the straws were right near my mouth so every downhill was a chance to refuel while staying aero. I got into a rhythm around mile 5, and although I felt good, I held back. Some of the hills, I'd give'r a little, but I was still holding back. I munched on some Honey Stinger Chews and had a gel within the first 90minutes. Turns out, gels are not the best for the bike; my bars were coated in stickiness. I'll stick with chews from now on. Just before mile 40, Andrew passed me. Weird. I thought he was out of the water first? Turns out he was, he had a mechanical near mile 1. I wasn't worried about keeping up with him, though. He's a damned good Roadie. I kept pushing, on to lap 2. I was by myself for some of it, catching up to people ahead of me and dropping them. There was a guy that would go back and forth with me. I'd try to push hard when I passed him so that we weren't drafting. After the second lap, my legs still felt good, but the 9 miles out-and-back was tough mentally. "When is this damned turnaround?!" I kept thinking, I even said aloud, to someone else. But, after the turnaround, it was (mostly) all downhill back to T2, and I was putting the hammer down.

I got off my bike and put on my shoes (no socks) and grabbed my flask of Kona Kola Nuun. Racing out of T2, I headed straight to the bathroom slightly off the course. I tied my shoes as I peed, and hobbled my way out of the bathroom up the woodchip hill to the run course. My legs felt funny. My breathing was off. I tried to control it and stay forward and in control. I eventually regained a normal breathing rhythm and then saw Adam ahead. When I got to him, he was walking, and I walked wiht him for a few dozen yards. He was having chest tightness, so I handed him my flask for water and made sure he was ok before I took off again. I soon caught up with Ian, and Ian was close to Caleb. I grabbed a water and/or Coke at every station, walked a step or two (or more) while I drank it, or threw the water over my head. When I got to mile 6, I saw Andrew and Jon coming toward me. They weren't that far ahead. I was counting the women that also passed me on their way back, and figured I was in contention for a top-twenty spot by the time I got to the turnaround. I tried concentrating on my stride and turnover, and at around mile 9, I passed Andrew. I wasn't really gunning for Jon, because I knew he was a strong runner, but I started to hear someone behind me gaining. Around mile 12, a woman passed me with a 28 written on her left leg. She was in my age group! I let her go a little, but when I realized that I wasn't in that much pain, I was mad at myself for letting her get ahead. What if she is #3 in my age group? So I started pushing it a little more and got in her pocket. We navigated down the woodchip path to the lake, and she held back. I passed her effortlessly, and encouraged her to push with me, but she didn't. I had so much speed coming into the end stretch and my legs felt awesome and fresh. I crossed the line, and I wasn't heaving or hurling myself across. I felt really good!

I ended up finishing in 5:23, 3rd in my age group and 12th overall for women. I ran a smart race, and I loved the way I felt when I finished.

After the race, I had my blisters cut off and taped up (no socks = baaad blisters) and cheered on my teammates. We sat around the grassy waterfront for a few hours, and the guys got their legs wet in the lake (ice bath!). We wrapped up the race with some burgers and awards, and headed back to the van. A few of the guys stayed around camp, and the rest of us went to TGI Fridays for some recovery food. It was an early night, all of us were wiped out. We weren't in a rush to leave in the morning. We stopped again in Duluth on the way back, this time at Burrito Union. So good.

To wrap up: I am in love with triathlons. I was a little apprehensive at first. I didn't want to admit that I would like the three-sport world, but my experience thus far shows promise. I'm still not giving up my world of running, though.

Run happy!

Are you ready yet?

This weekend will be the start of a new chapter in my athletism: My first triathlon. I am really excited, because its just outside of the Minneapolis/St Paul area and I will get to spend time with some really awesome friends. I rode the QRoo for group ride tonight, and it was smooth and comfortable. I felt like the hills were easily manageable, and I felt confident in the aero position... for the first time outside! Making progress... I'm also somewhat nervous. What if I forget my goggles? What will I do if I flat? Twice? And how to do I wear my hair? Seriously, it's at a weird length and won't all stay in a pony tail under my helmet. HELP!

Just now, Caleb asked Adam if I'd ridden my bike in a while. Why? Because my tire pressure is about 40psi. Who knew you had to check your tires every time you went out? Turns out, he said, I'm not a cyclist. But am I a triathlete? I suppose we'll see on Saturday morning, when I'm treading water in Lake Independence around a bunch of other athletes with blue caps on their heads and butterflies in their stomachs. Until then, I'm signing off. See you on the flipside, when you will find out just how long this chapter will be.

Who's your Go-to-Girl?

A few weeks ago, I nominated a friend for a Mountain Hardwear sweepstakes known as "Go To Girl." The jist?:

'Mountain Hardwear and Montrail are giving away head to toe gear for you and your Go-to-Girl! 4 weeks, 4 sets of gear. Mountain Hardwear and Montrail join forces to celebrate the inspiration and motivation women provide each other to climb, bike, hike, swim, surf, trail run, and paddle. We want to know who that Go-to-Girl is that motivates you! Give us 300 characters on who motivates you and include a photo.'

So, I nominated one of my MegaTough Girls, and proceeded to forward the info to the group. Between the MegaTough Girls, it was incredibly hard to pick just one... but luckily there are four rounds of prizes! Coincidence? I think not.

Then, last night, I got a call from Jess. She won! She had nominated me as her Go-to-Girl, and each of us will get a full outfit from Mountain Hardwear. I'm pumped! Each of us get a full outfit from the Explore Collection:
  • Trailhead Long Sleeve Shirt
  • La Rambla Short
  • Canyon Hiker Hat
  • Montrail Molokini Flip Flop
Here's the profile that's on Mountain Hardwear's page:

Jessica B's Go-to-Girl...

My good friend Megan Killian is the epitome of strength. Marathon runner, rock climber, biker, Nordic skier and soon-to-be Iron(wo)man. Beyond her physical prowess, she's pursuing her PhD in engineering! What an amazing WOMAN -- a true inspiration and definitely my go-to-girl for motivation.

So, if you have a go-to-girl and want to nominate them, Mountain Hardwear is running this competition all summer long! Check it out here.

Why I LOVE being an ID'er

Recently, I was accepted to be a Brooks ID athlete. It is a great reward and honor to be a member of such elite, strong, and encouraging group of athletes. At first, I was excited to get the stuff I love at a discounted price. But now, I can see that it is WAY more than that! Recently, we've been in discussions about the Marathon Maniacs and the pros and cons, who's in, who's not, and so on. I didn't know they existed until my second marathon in Washington (Whidbey Island), in which I had a not-so-awesome encounter. However, my fellow teammates have demonstrated to me that they aren't all that bad (hey, some of them are phenomenal Brooks IDers), there's just a few rotten apples here and there.

Here's a brief correspondence, in which I had described my first Maniac encounter, and a wonderful woman gave me encouragement:

Me: it is my goal to run 50marathons in 50states before I am 50- which is a lofty goal for most- but in a crowd like this it's "nothing special."
Her: Dude, don't discount that awesome goal. Indeed it is SOMETHING special!
Me: My fastest marathon thus far was my first, a 3:22, in which I spent the entire first half chatting,...
Her: And that kind of speed, especially with the first half at your self-proclaimed "not at fastest effort", is something MORE special. Rock on, sister!

The encouragement in this group is outrageous. I absolutely love it, and I am really excited to mingle with the group members and plan my future races around what they are doing. It would be so awesome to have another ID'er at my next marathon or 10K. To meet these people in person is something I am looking forward to!

So, whether you're a new runner, or you've been running for fifty years, there are some great people out there waiting to meet you on your travels through the running world. If it's your first marathon, or your thirtieth, if you are a little scared, running alone, whatever; just keep your head up. Look around; someone is there to support you. Ask if you have any questions, smile if you are feeling good. My teammates and I- we'll be there to smile back.

First Women's Cycling Night

Last night, Portage Health had its first Women's road biking sessions of the year. I am excited to be leading the group this year, and it was so great to see so many ladies show up. The group ranged from beginners to experienced, with 10 ladies total for the first outing (plus Arnie as our sag). Not too bad, especially since it started to rain on us occasionally. Felt good, though... right?
After a brief introduction of the group and some roady tips, we were on our way!

Giving some tips riding in a group on the road.

What attentive listeners! ;)

We started at the SDC at Michigan Tech and headed down the waterfront trail to Canal Road. Canal Road is a great route because it is one of the "more flat" routes in the area. That being said, there are still some hills to climb. Check out our route here: Breakers and Back
(Note: this GPS route includes a brief "turn-around" that I did around Schmidts Corner, as well as my route home from the SDC at the end of the ride)

Having a good time

We've got some speedsters in the group

Almost done!

Hope to see everyone out next week, where we'll start at the Portage Health campus in Hancock.