My Experiment

Over the course of the past few weeks I have been experimenting with nutrition to see how it affects my personal sports performance.  The result of this experiment amazes me.  I’m simply reporting on my findings.  This experiment has nothing to do with environmental, political, religious, or personal views.  What you choose to eat is your business. 

I have compiled my runs and documented what I ate in the twelve hour period prior to each run.  I chose my runs instead of my rides since its a consistent and steady effort.  My rides have too many inconsistent variables such as stopping at traffic lights and things of that nature.  Here are my findings:

This is a 7×800 interval effort after eating meat and dairy for dinner followed by a vegan breakfast.  No running power data is available.

This is a 7×800 interval effort after eating fish with avocado, sweet potato, and cauliflower for dinner followed by a vegan breakfast.  The image shown on the right is the data from the running power meter. It shows that I had to stop during the recovery intervals due to muscle fatigue.  I actually felt victimized by my own planned workout.

This is a 7×800 interval effort after eating a plant based regimen for two days straight.  Not only did I surpass my targets but I still had more energy after my workout and did not feel at all depleted.  This surprised me because it was warm and very humid (98% humidity).

I have plenty of data from plenty of other runs but it all results in the same conclusion.  I chose these examples because they are the same exact intervals on the same exact course.  I have data that shows a faster run a week before a slower run and many inconsistencies due to nutrition.  It’s fascinating.  Eating a plant based regimen enhances my sports performance.  Not only do I perform better at cycling and running but I have more energy.  Over the course of my seven week stay at home order I reduced my caffeine intake.  I have more energy drinking less coffee.  I’m more alert, I solve puzzles seconds faster, and I rarely nod off at my desk (that was a somewhat regular occurrence prior to quarantine).  I feel less sore and my legs rarely feel heavy.  

When I first started this experiment I was eating animal products a few times per week.  Over the course of this experiment I reduced my intake of animal products.  I now eat no animal products.  My decision is based solely on how I feel.  I feel much better than I ever have before.  I’m not at all interested in consuming animal products.  I’m not saying that I’ll never tear into a juicy skirt steak ever again but I have no interest in feeling sore and sluggish on a regular basis.

I encourage you all to explore your own curiosities, whatever they may be.  This life is too short not to seek the answers to the questions in your minds.  If you do conduct your own experiment please share your results with me, I’d love to hear all about it.  I’m always ready and willing to learn something new.  I hope you are all staying healthy and safe.  Thank you all so much for reading!

 

 

Quarantine

 

I’ve always worked. I’ve been working since I was a teenager. I had three months off back in the summer of 2010 but I’ve come to regret how I spent my time. Back then I was a smoker and I had no interest in exercising. I spent my days in front of my big screen. I did other things that summer but nothing compared to how I would spend my time nowadays. I often dreamed of what I would do with that amount of time if I had to do it over again.

I’m not saying that I’m happy that a pandemic broke out but I was happy to be able to have time to myself. I did everything that I should have done back in 2010. I spent my mornings either cycling or running and my afternoons either reading or watching movies. I read “Let Your Mind Run”, “Shut Up Legs”, “The Incomplete Book of Running”, “Eat & Run”, and “A Life Without Limits”. I watched a lot of Running and Cycling Documentaries as well as the inspirational movie “St. Ralph”.

I had fun adventures while cycling and running. I enjoyed the minimal car traffic and took advantage of roads that I would normally avoid because of heavy traffic. Every day was not a beautiful and cloudless day with perfect weather but I enjoyed them all the same, despite all the damn wind we were having. On one of my rides I was just a couple of miles from home when I came to a roadblock due to a car fire! Once it was established that the driver was perfectly safe and that it was his company’s car, I took pictures. The car was ablaze and there were mini explosions within the fire. It was crazy!

I normally run a half marathon distance on Sunday at tempo heart rate with ten second hill sprints at the campus nearby but it was converted into a Covid-19 testing center. I started running on a quiet, hilly road nearby instead. I normally start my runs with my legs feeling like lead logs before they finally warm up after three miles. One day I felt amazing from the very start of the run until the end and it was my second fastest half marathon distance. My fastest half marathon was at the Celebrate Life Half Marathon, a hilly race upstate. I pushed my heart rate to the max at that race and had a PR by about four minutes. This run was at my tempo heart rate and was about two minutes slower that the race.

The runs after that started the same as they usually did with my first thoughts being “I feel like crap and I’m dying”. I decided that that one day was just me having a good day. It wasn’t until three weeks later that I put it together. I was reading Eat & Run by Scott Jurek. I normally don’t judge people but I saw him as a scrawny vegan… until I read his book. I always thought of vegans as tree hugging wild environmentalists. Scott Jurek is none of those things. In the beginning of his book he wrote about eating barbecued meat! He is not opposed to eating animal products, he simply chooses not to. He wrote about how much better he felt on a plant based regimen. I loved how open he was about his life and searched for movies with him in them. That’s how I stumbled upon “The Game Changers”. This movie showed me how the body metabolizes different foods and contradicted everything that I thought I knew.

That was when I had my great epiphany. OMG! The night before that awesome run I had eaten Tofu Pad Thai, the date was on my billing statement. I always eat overnight oats made with almond milk before my activities. That was it! I ate plant based foods and benefitted from it. I started experimenting with different foods, including seafood. My best efforts were after eating a high protein plant based pasta with either tofu or seafood. My favorite thing to make is butternut squash sauce with dill, it’s delicious. I make a lot of Thai inspired food loaded with vegetables. I’ve always eaten a wide variety of food so I was prepared to switch it up. If you season food properly anything will taste great.

In the middle of all this I had been researching the Stryd footpod for running power metrics. I read an in depth review that focused on the training aspect of it instead of the technology itself. That sealed the deal for me. In TrainingPeaks the only unit of measurement or progress is pace. Pace is dependent on so many factors. The Stryd footpod also has wind detection as well as efficiency metrics. There are times that I’m running slow but working harder and vise versa. It’s important to me that I know what my actual efforts are. I have learned so many fascinating things about myself while analyzing the data it provides after my runs. For instance, I use less power to keep my heart rate from shooting up when I climb up hills and more power going downhill to keep my heart rate from dropping too low. So, basically, in order to keep my heart rate even I have to climb slowly and power down a descent. The data is very interesting.

Between eating a regimen conducive to making gains and analyzing my running power and efficiency metrics, it’s almost as if I became faster overnight. My Critical Power (running ftp) has shot up since I started using the footpod. All of my running training is coming together. I was experiencing many inconsistencies that I’m no longer having.

Of course I’m also having cycling gains. I have a lot of work to do on the bike to get to where I want to be but it’s coming along and I feel much better riding. Just like my runs, I feel good from beginning to end. There were times on my rides when I couldn’t figure out why my hard work wasn’t adding up to me putting out power. The answer was simple, it was my shoes. My winter cycling boots don’t have a stiff sole like my spring/summer shoes do. For a couple of years I couldn’t figure out why I slowed down, again it was the shoes. I was wearing cheap shoes with more padding in the sole. When I bought new shoes with a stiffer sole last summer my riding dramatically improved. My confidence is going up and I feel better about myself.

What does a lady do to boost her confidence even more? A makeover of course! A friend of mine posted herself on Facebook doing her hair. I hadn’t trimmed my hair since 2012 and my ends were straight out nasty. My grays were running rampant and I’d done nothing to stop them. I felt ashamed of myself. She was using a hot air brush. I looked into it and that brush blows hair out straight in twenty minutes! I bought one. I also bought a set of scissors and hair dye. I trimmed and dyed my own hair. Not only do I feel much better about my appearance but I feel empowered from being able to do it by myself.

I’m not happy about the pandemic but I am happy about being able to hit the pause button and reset my life. I learned and grew tremendously in the seven weeks that I was off. I have absolutely no regrets about how I spent my time. I was extremely productive and forever changed. I hope that all of you are heathy and safe. No matter what you have going on, every day is an opportunity to grow and make positive changes. Thank you all for your continued support and encouragement. As always, I thank you all very much for reading!

San Diego, California

 

As a broke girl from Queens I’ve always dreamed of traveling all over the world.  As the years passed and my bank account failed to grow I then started to dream of traveling all over the country.  After more years had passed I then started to dream of simply seeing the west coast.  In the past 10 years I only took a week off from work to get married and go on honeymoon.  I took weekend getaways but I didn’t take time off for vacations.  

Over the winter my friends Mr. & Mrs. Scuba Cyclist came to visit.  We met for dinner and they told us all about their life on the west coast and how nice it was.  It all sounded wonderful.  They invited me to come visit. They’ve had a few friends come to visit them and they love entertaining.  They had no plans for February so I searched their area for half marathons going on around that time and found The Mermaid Half Marathon, an event for the ladies.  I’ve never done a ladies race and decided to visit them surrounding the event.  

The race was on the morning of Saturday, February 8th.  I flew in on Thursday morning and spent the day with Scuba cyclist preparing for our super fun extended weekend.  We stopped by the military base so I could get a cyclist’s visitors pass to be able to ride through the base.  There was a wait so we went to lunch at a nearby restaurant on the water.  The food was delicious and everyone on the west coast are really nice and laid back, so much different from the uptight people of New York!  When we returned to the base there was a short wait and we were able to get my pass fairly quickly.  We went for delicious ice cream afterwards before going to pick up my race packet.  

We sat in rush hour traffic on the way back to her place and I was freezing.  She had the air conditioner on in the car but it wasn’t all that cold.  Luckily I had bought a Navajo blanket when we were by the water so I used it in the car.  I felt like crap.  Shortly after we got back to the house we sat down to a very nice dinner.  I started to warm up a bit.  Since we’re the same height I borrowed Scuba Cyclist’s bike, she had it adjusted for me with the email I sent her from my last bike fitting.  After dinner we prepared by bike for our ride the next day.  That night I slept like crap, I was fighting something.  I was worried that I’d flown across the country just to be laid up sick but, thankfully, that was not the case. 

I woke up feeling refreshed.  Since I was doing a half marathon the next day this ride was gonna be more chill, at a tempo pace.  I had no intention of actually racing the half marathon but I didn’t want to run on depleted legs either. Riding tempo suited Scuba Cyclist just fine, she enjoys just riding.  She took my on a very nice route along the coast through the seaside towns.  It was all very breathtaking.  It was mostly flat except for a coupe of hills in the military base.  There was a spectacular view of the mountains.  We visited the sea lions that sunbathe on the pier.  I took pictures of amazing water views at a few places along our ride.  I didn’t want the ride to end but I was getting tired as the first half of the ride was into a headwind.  

That afternoon we all visited the farmers market.  I love shopping on the street, I always have.  I also love eating on the street but that’s a whole other thing.  My friends did their regular shopping and I bought essential oils.  I started aromatherapy in my essential oil diffuser while I sleep and I’ve been sleeping deeper and waking up feeling more rested.  We went back and had a sensible meal and I went to sleep at a decent hour.  

In the morning I got ready and Scuba Cyclist dropped me off at the race before heading to the gym.  She didn’t ride that day because my race was along her riding route and the roads were blocked off.  On the way to the race I felt the familiar pang of my stomach.  I used the bathroom before leaving the house but, yea, I was about to have one of my pre race porto potty episodes.  At least it was before and not during the race…. After that I lined up and chatted with the other mermaids, they were all very nice.  None of them sized me up, acted catty, or acted like competition.  These ladies were all very positive and friendly.  

The race itself was very nice and scenic.  It was a bit windy and the course was in the sun but it was a lovely day for a race.  I spent some time running behind and with a very nice lady.  We chatted a bit and, it turns out, she’s also from NY.  She currently lives in San Diego and, I later learned, spends a good amount of time encouraging female athletes.  Although I wasn’t racing I wasn’t exactly taking my time either.  I actually came close to having a PR but that would come at a later race.  I was on vacation and I was there to have a good time.  I did push the final 5k as I always do but this time it was tough and I had to back it down a bit.  The nice lady and I met again at the results kiosk and chatted a bit.  She told me about Stryd, the running power meter footpod.  I was intrigued and that started my research into running with power.  Gathering more information about my runs could only help me as pace is dependent upon many factors but I’ll get into all that on my next post.  Yes, I plan on writing some more 😉

After taking part in some of the finish line festivities I made my way back to the lot at the  starting line to meet up with Scuba Cyclist.  It was a mile walk back to the lot and I was dance walking because a good song came on.  She was happy to see that I was having fun and I told her all about the race.  We went back to the house and got ready.  We went to the brewery for lunch and then went hiking up a mountain.  The only other time I went hiking it was freezing out and there was a lot of ice.  It was nice to only worry about navigating the steep uphills and descents while maneuvering around the rocks and stones.  The view from the top was spectacular.

That night it was ladies night at a friend’s house.  It was nice to meet her friends and learn more about life in California.  It was a late night but, since it was raining the next day, I was sleeping in.  I woke up feeling like crap.  As the day went on it was clear that I had a cold.  It was just as well that it was raining because my legs were toast.  We took an hour drive to the vineyard for lunch and wine tasting once Scuba Cyclist returned from the gym.  The Vineyard was so beautiful and all the wines we tasted were amazing.  It was a very fun way to spend a rainy day.  We were planning on having more wine with dinner but none of us were into it and we drank water instead.  We went to bed at a decent hour but I still woke up feeling like crap.  

It was raining again and Mr. Scuba Cyclist offered to take me to a nice running spot while the Mrs. was at the gym. It was beautiful.  There was a light rain but running in the rain never bothered me.  I did a nice zone 2 run or at least I tried to run zone 2 up a mountain.  The downhill was certainly at zone 2 though. I stopped a couple of times along the run to take pictures as it was one of the nicest places I had ever run.  That was the last thing I did in San Diego.  Just like that my visit had come to an end.  Once back at the house I bathed and got the rest of my things together.  Scuba Cyclist dropped me off at the airport and she even packed a meal for me to take on the plane.

I’m ever so grateful to my friends for giving me the opportunity to visit the west coast.  I’m also grateful to have visited before the world shut down.  Not long after my visit all hell broke loose with the pandemic and nobody went anywhere.  I thank my friends for being excellent hosts and making me feel welcome in their home.  I’m deeply grateful to have been trusted with her top of the line bicycle, I treated it like royalty.  

Through cycling I’ve made friendships with truly wonderful people, people that I may not have met otherwise.  I’ve made friendships with people that don’t care that I’m a BrokeLadyCyclist and that means the world to me.  In a time of materialism these wonderful people see me for who I really am.  Thank you to everyone who has been kind to me. Thank you to Mr. & Mrs. Scuba Cyclist for everything, including repeatedly picking me up when I was down.  I hope you all stay healthy and safe, thank you all so much for reading!