Low Carb for One Year

low carb running

January 2, 2015 will be the one year mark for me changing to a Low Carbohydrate life style. I say lifestyle rather than diet because I don’t just diet and exercise, I train and fuel my body. It is a different mindset. People who look at their food choice as a diet feel restricted and it implies a temporary condition until a goal is reached. For me, food choice is about making sure my body recovers and is able to put it all on the line the next day.

What does low carb mean? For me, it means I consume no more than 50 grams of carbohydrates in one day. I do not eat wheat at all. I don’t eat breads, noodles, rice, potatoes, or tortillas.  I have to watch the sugar content of fruits. I do not drink soft drinks or sports drinks other than Nuun.

I do prepare my meals from scratch. I eat a lot of vegetables, nuts, dairy, eggs, lean meats, and berries. I actually do eat breads and tortillas but I make them from nut flours and flax seed meal.

Since I changed to the low carb lifestyle, I have noticed many differences in my training and in my daily life. First the daily life benefits, I don’t get tired in the afternoons. I feel alert and ready for just about anything during the day mentally and physically. My moods do not fluctuate throughout out the day. I don’t crave sweets. I don’t graze and snack all day long.

Training benefits: my moods don’t swing during my long runs. I recover much faster from day to day. I do not need to consume endless amounts of sugar while running to fuel my muscles and brain. I have increased my pace on my long runs by thirty seconds a mile. I don’t have GI issues during long runs and ultra races.

The other benefit that many people have noticed is I lost 15 pounds going from 130 lbs to 115 lbs. I didn’t switch to low carb to lose weight, it just happened. I know that many people choose to go low carb because of the weight loss benefit, but for me it was purely a training choice.

I will say the first two weeks on low carb were pretty miserable. I felt awful, weak, slow, and groggy. I was hungry all the time and had to eat every two hours to maintain my blood sugar and not get dizzy and nauseous. I didn’t reduce my training at all during this time, which probably contributed to how I felt, but I couldn’t lose two weeks of training.

After the two weeks, I started to feel better. It didn’t happen overnight it was a little each day. The research I’ve read says it takes anywhere from 4-12 weeks to feel great on low carb and everyone is different. The reason it takes so long is your body is changing from burning carbs for fuel to fats for fuel. It needs time to build up enough fat burning enzymes to fuel your body. You are not going to feel great until you have given your body enough time to build fat burning enzymes to burn enough calories to fuel your activity level.

Another thing that was hard initially, is that I would go to the store and see everything I couldn’t eat. It took about a month for me to reframe my thinking to see the things I could eat and look at the situation as an opportunity to learn to cook in a new way. Pinterest and Facebook have been lifesavers in finding low carb recipes that are quick and easy to make.

The final challenge of being low carb is I have a small kitchen in my home. All right, I admit it’s more like a hallway than a kitchen. There is very limited counter space for mixing and chopping vegetables. It is challenge with any food preparations, but particularly with low carb (Paleo would cause this problem form me too). I use a lot of fresh vegetable and make things from scratch so limited counter space is kind of an issue.

If you want more information on low carb athletic performance I suggest checking out the website. The art and science of low carb.

Happy New Year!

Quick and Easy


It’s official, I’ve registered for the Vikingman half triathlon.

The swim is 1.2 miles (1.9km). The bike is 56 miles (90km). The run is 13.1 miles (21.1km). This is double the distance of the Spudman Tri I finished last weekend. I’ve wanted to do an Ironman for awhile. One of the things that has held me back is that I am not willing to stop running ultra’s to compete in triathlons. Last fall, two of my friends agreed to give it a try with me so I wrote up a plan and chose Tahoe Ironman 2015 as our goal race.

Is it possible to train for both an Ironman and 100 mile Ultra events? Guess we will find out.

Now, I’ve got to get faster on my bike.

We all want things to be quick and easy. That’s probably a little off, we want things immediately. Instant gratification is something I see in children, teens, and adults. It applies to all types of desires too. Money, fame, fitness, material possessions, education, you name it people want it and they want it right freaking now.

I fell prey to the desire for instant gratification this week, and I even searched the web for that quick and easy way. It took hours, all right days, for me to come to terms with reality, and accept my fate. I will have to put in the sweat and hours to get faster on my bike. I can’t just buy a new bike (although that would probably help a bit), and I can’t just do a few weeks of strength training, and voila I’m turbo the racing snail on my bike. I have to ride, ride, and ride. I’m going to have to ride hard and fast. I have to push myself with cycling just like I do with my running, if I want to get faster.

I found this realization rather entertaining because I know the truth of it completely I tell all the runners that I coach, if you want to get faster you have to run faster. I tell my children, others, and myself that nothing comes easy. You have to work for any goal worth achieving. Sky, my thirteen-year-old son, believes that he should be able to do everything instantly. Why does he believe this? Because he can understand the mechanics of how things work in his head. Unfortunately, what we can imagine in our minds does not translate immediately into the real world.

How great would it be if the Matrix movie idea of acquiring new knowledge and skills were true? Being able to just plug into a super virtual world/computer and have the mental and physical ability to do all that we can imagine would be phenomenal. I’m not so sure I would want all the outlets in the back of my head and spine though.

However, the value of many things is found not in achieving the goal, but the journey in reaching it. Reaching a goal requires strategies, time, dedication, ambition, and sacrifice. All of us have struggled and fallen flat on our faces, but we get up, and we are better people for it. We learn the value of both material and immaterial objects by having to work toward them.

And so it begins…


Left to right: Me, Mike, Katie, J$, Mike 2.0, Katie 2.0

Spudman Triathlon

Total time: 2:43:14

Swim 0.93 miles (1.5k) 21 minutes

T1 5 minutes

Bike 24.8 miles (40k) 1:18

T2 4 minutes

Run 6.2 miles (10k) 45 minutes

Spudman was an excellent first triathlon. A few of my friends were also participating, and I had friends thee supporting me.

We arrived in Burley, Idaho around 5pm and Swiss Miss and Gadget Gnome setup our tent on the golf course next to the river while I went and got body markings and checked in. J$ and I took our bikes and cycling gear to Transition One. We picked a spot where we could get in and out pretty easy.


Next was dinner with Gadget Gnome and Swiss Miss.  We went to a local soup sandwich and salad shop because I couldn’t eat the prerace dinner on my low-carb diet. After dinner, J$ and I took our running gear to Transition two and set it up. Gadget Gnome suggested we line it up with something outside of the transition area so we could find it. We lined it up with the Ice Chest.

Gadget Gnome told us about spotting while swimming and following the current. He is a river guide and knows a little about reading rivers. We sat in awe of Gadget Gnome and his great white beard.

040 Snake River

We all snuggled into our sleeping bags as the sun ducked behind the mountains. At four in the morning, the high school volunteers arrived. They did not use their inside voices. I suppose since they couldn’t see the rows of tents and sleeping athletes they just didn’t exist. As the sun came up, they quieted down.

Swiss Miss and I snuck out of the tent trying not to wake up her son and the Gadget Gnome.  Coffee is a necessary item in my prerace checklist and Swiss Miss had scoped out locations the night before.  I slammed my coffee fix mixed with chocolate isopure whey protein, pulled on my rubber duck suit, and prepared for battle.

EZ was in wave two at 7:10 am. We went down to the water to see her start. She was psyched. Once the gun went off, wave three filed into the corral. I was in wave three. I got into the water right off shore and waited for them to give the one-minute warning. At one minute till start, I swam out to where the current was. I didn’t want to get in too early because the current would push me across the starting line, or I would waste a lot of energy fighting the current to stay behind the start line.

The gun went off, and I glided through the water. I love the feeling of swimming, it’s the closest thing to flying you can get (jumping out of a plane is falling not flying!) I bumped into a couple of other swimmers, but it wasn’t a big deal. As I climbed out on the beach, I unzipped the rubber duck suit and made my way over to my bike.  I sucked down a Mama Chia pouch for some calories while I dried my feet, put shoes on, and buckled my helmet.

I had been warned that there are thorns in the gravel beside the road. I didn’t want to start with a flat tire. Sopping wet, I carried my bike out to the road and clipped into my peddles. Freaking Freezing! I was able to maintain about 20 mph on the bike. The bike is  my weakness in a Tri. I just don’t love the bike. I knew going into this that I had not spent enough time on the bike to get a good time, but I would be all right. I kept my cadence about 90-100 rotations per minute and resisted the urge to gear up to get more power, but a slower cadence, which would have sapped my legs for the run.

Tons and tons of athletes passed me on the bike. I was frustrated and humbled by their speed. It has also encouraged me to spend more time on the bike. Of course, the whole time I am thinking, oh it’s because my bike isn’t as awesome as theirs is. No, it is because I don’t ride as much as they do end of story.

I rolled into transition two and couldn’t find my stuff on the rack. I wandered for about a minute and then remembered the Ice Chest! Thanks Gadget Gnome, saved my scrawny butt yet again.  Pulled on my shoes and hat and out I went for the run.

Run, come on legs, we know how to do this. We do this all the time. Gadget Gnome had warned me that it takes a while for the legs to change from the rotation of the bike to the movements of running.  It took about a half mile for my legs to remember how much they love to run. I kept telling them, “This is your game, get in there and act like you can play!”  They responded and I was able to maintain a 7-7: 30 minutes per mile pace for the run.

044 I’m done!

Would I do it again? Hmmmm. Absolutely!

The appropriate question after I finish a race is how many more have you registered for? My typical pattern is to get home from a race, unpack, shower, stuff my face full of ice cream and pie (Race day= cheat on low-carb diet day), and register for another race.

So what is next? My heart is set on The Vikingman Half Ironman. Go big or go home, right? Who’s in?

Open Water Swim

polarbear1130 Image by robaquatics.com

Crap, I’m going to be late, I think to myself. Tapping my fingers and listening to my audiobook doesn’t make the traffic go any faster. Orange barrels dot the side of Interstate 15 as they do every summer. I just don’t understand how this road needs construction every freaking year. I’ve been making this 25 mile drive to and from work every day for seven years and every year there is road construction.

“I might be a little late,” I text Jeff.  I drop all my stuff onto my kitchen counter. The dogs dance between my feet as I try to remember everything I need to take for my first open water swim.

I open the door and they propel their bodies on their three-inch legs around the corner of the house along their well-worn trail in the grass, streaks of black and apricot fur and flapping ears.

Trisuit, check.

Goggles, check.

Swim cap, check.

Flip-flops, check.

Clothes to change into after the swim, check.

I think that’s it. One third of a cup of dog food is trickled into each little bowl. The screen door rattles as Ignacious jumps on it. “Hey mom let us in.” Annabelle yips and then sets her tail wagging causing a rippling effect all through her miniature body.

I hate to leave them right after I get home. It breaks my heart. They’ve been waiting for me all day.

“I’m sorry guys. I have to get this swim in before the race,” I said looking from Ignacious’s emerald green eyes to Annabelle’s golden brown ones.

Jeff, Mike, and I drive up to Pine View Reservoir, Jeff voicing his concerns about the swim, and me silently contemplating mine. We park at the dock. Putting on the wetsuit was not as bad as I had made my think it would be. I’ve totally got this, I think to myself. The swim of the triathlon has me nervous and has been a major obstacle to me registering for any tri. I feel crowded in a lane with one other person. At the tri, I’ll have to get in with two hundred other people around me, kicking and circling arms.

With flip-flops thwacking my heels, I walk down to the edge of the water. I feel like a whale in my borrowed wetsuit. It is a size too big for me, which means that water will be getting inside. Mike points to a white buoy out past an island.

“I think if we swim out there and back it should be about a mile,” he says. It looks really far away.

“That one way out there?” Jeff asks. He’s as nervous as I am. Breathing deep, I slip my foot into the luke warm water my toes seeking the rocks I know are going to be on the bottom of the lake. Soft sand wraps around them instead. I take a few steps feeling with my feet. I find the rocks, and then I find the edge where the earth drops away.

I glance back at Jeff who is getting in with as much trepidation as I am. I grin at him, crouch, and reach out with my right arm gliding along the surface of the water.

Art told me I would float with a wetsuit, but wholly crap I’m like a rubber ducky!

I stretch my left arm out and put my face into the water. One, two, three breathe. One, two, three breathe. I catch my arms dropping too early and try to hold it up, but my body is rolling to each side more than usual. My arm drops to try to balance me out.

Slow and steady, get your body under control, I tell myself. I relax and fly through the gentle waves. Rolling to my back I check to where Jeff and Mike are, I’m not waiting. Rolling back over, I stroke toward the bouncing buoy.

Every so often, I pull my head up out of the sienna colored water and lock onto the buoy. Once I reach it, I turn around and roll onto my back. Clumps of white cotton lie scattered in the sky as it does on my living room floor after the dogs have gotten a new stuffed toy.

The shore rises to meet me much sooner than I wanted. I stand up and water runs down my legs. Jeff and Mike are starting back toward shore from the buoy. Waiting for them to come back in is not my idea of fun, so I get back into the water and swim out to them.

Once we are all three on shore, we go up to the truck for some watermelon and water.

“We ought to swim out to the point on the island and back just to practice a little more,” Mike suggests.

The sun is setting behind the mountains when we reach the small island, as it dips below the peaks we slip back into the darkening water and race back to the mainland.

The swim was a huge boost to my confidence. My own wetsuit arrived today, and I’m going to try it out on Saturday. The gentle rolling waves is calling to me…