Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bod Pod

Yesterday I got into the Bod Pod at the U to have my body composition analyzed. Wearing a sports bra and bike shorts and a swim cap thingie to hold my hair tightly, I sat in the machine as it measured the air I was displacing and calculated my density. I was surprised to find out that my body fat is only 16.8% - less than 19% is "very lean" for a woman in her 30s. They recommend that a woman have 12-15% fat minimum to be healthy. I had done a hand-held impedance measurement back in April, and it said 22.8%. However, I have lost 5 lbs since then, and the hand-held units are not nearly as accurate as the Bod Pod.

I'm wondering what to make of this measurement. Was it off because my tight biking shorts held in my flabbiest parts (hips & thighs)? If it was, that would make some sense to me. If not, would it be foolish for me to still take off another 5 lbs to see how it impacts my racewalking performance? I think I am going to proceed with my original plan, which is to lose 5 more lbs and see how I do. That would put me at 140 lb at 5'8", which should be a perfectly healthy weight (BMI is still over 20 - which is normal, not too thin).
Today's workout: 10 min warm-up and cool-down, with 30 min at 85% MHR in between. It was tough, but I hung in there and got it done. I feel pretty good now, though I'm a little tired from not enough sleep last night and the night before.

Projects at home: did some canning last night, which kept me up late. The pears and plums on our trees are ripe, so I did some whole plums and also made plum sauce, which is really yummy. I will probably serve it on pork tenderloin in the wintertime. Also finished editing and compiling our home videos from December until July, and burned 7 DVDs to give family members.

News of the totally ridiculous: at the Maverick on 9th East and about 3rd South, they were advertising "Snickers 29 cents with 44 oz beverage purchase". Yikes. The Snickers alone is 7 points, and the 44 oz Coke is 10.5 points (just looked it up). 17.5 points, for a SNACK. For comparison, when I am maintaining my weight, I get 26-27 points per day, plus 35 distributed over the week. So that would be over HALF my daily points just on a snack. No wonder Americans are fat. We consume stuff and have no idea just how bad it really is. Or we do know, and we blow it off because we feel we deserve the treat. I used to do it, too, and still would if I didn't keep a close eye on things.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Track intervals

Did a warm-up and flexibility drills, then:

3 x 1000m then 400 m with 2 min rest in between. I tried to do the 1000m in 5:30 and the 400 m in 2:12, but ended up with the 1000m in about 5:38-5:40 and the 400 m in 2:13-2:15. It was really pushing to do it that fast - my lungs were burning. But I finished the workout, felt great, and don't feel too tired now, so that's good. It was a good workout. Cooled down and stretched.

Met a nice older gentleman named John at the track today, and he asked me a whole bunch of questions about racewalking. I told him about the Wasatch Walkers, and referred him to the website. Maybe he'll join!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Racewalking lesson

I had another tutorial with Jennifer today, who came armed with a video camera. Actually, I am mostly pleased with the result. My form is looking decent, though there are still lots of things to fix. But for the first time, I think I really look like a racewalker.

My left knee is pretty straight and is looking great. My right knee is a problem, however. It is definitely not straight enough. When I plant my heel, it is pretty good, but then as it passes under my body, it gets a little bent (quite visibly so in slow-mo, not so much sped up). I am really going to have to work on this, and Jennifer did give me some good tips.

Despite the "soft" right knee, Jennifer did think I would pass muster in a judged walk. She thinks I'm "legal". I'm not so sure that I am, though it is hard to tell at full speed that my knee is bent. I have the feeling that an eagle-eyed judge might spot it. Well, I've got at least until next year to fix it, since I'm not doing any judged races until then.

Next race might be the Boise Women's Fitness Celebration on September 22nd, but only if we can find someone to watch the kiddos for the weekend so that we can go w/o them. At least that's what Loren is saying right now... so we'll see.

I wrote up a challenging but do-able training schedule for that race today, and I'm excited to get going on my workouts! I'll keep you all informed about them.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hair whorls and handedness

I came across a very interesting study after reading an article in this month's Parents magazine. The article said that handedness (left, right, or ambidextrous) and the direction of the whorl of your hair (counterclockwise or clockwise) are controlled by the same gene, and that people with a counterclockwise hair whorl (8.4% of population - that stat was not in the article - I looked it up later) have a 50/50 chance of being lefties/ambidextrous. I thought that this had to be a bogus article, so I looked up the paper and lo and behold, it is actually true. At least, after I read the paper, I was convinced. There is a more accessible article for the layperson that says the same thing (a review of the scientific paper) if you want to read that instead.

For the biologists out there, it works like this: R is the gene for being right handed and having a clockwise hair whorl, and it is dominant. r means you are a random recessive - it is unspecified whether you are left handed/ambidextrous or right handed, and it is unspecified whether your hair whorls clockwise or counterclockwise. RR individuals will be right handed, and will have clockwise hair whorls. Rr individuals will also be right handed, and will have clockwise hair whorls. rr individuals have a 50/50 chance of being right handed (and a 50/50 chance of being left handed or ambidextrous), and have a 50/50 chance of having a clockwise hair whorl (and a 50/50 chance of having a counterclockwise whorl). If you are a lefty, you MUST be rr, and if you have a counterclockwise hair whorl, you also MUST be rr. If you are a lefty, you have a 50/50 chance of having a clockwise hair whorl (and 50/50 of counterclockwise). If you have a counterclockwise hair whorl, you have a 50/50 chance of being left handed (and a 50/50 chance of being right handed).

Why in the heck are these genes connected? The author speculates that because skin (hair whorls are on the skin) and neural tissue (handedness is neurologic) both are derived from the embryonic ectoderm layer it is simple for them to be controlled by the same gene. Sounds reasonable to me, but still odd. Nature is pretty weird sometimes!

So why do I care? Well, turns out that BOTH Loren and I have counterclockwise hair whorls. Weird, since it's relatively uncommon. We both happen to be righties, but apparently we had a 50/50 chance of being lefties, as do both of our children. Calvin seems to be pretty darn ambidextrous, so I would not be surprised at all if he turns out to be a lefty or ambidextrous. As for hair whorls, Calvin's is counterclockwise and Michelle's is clockwise, as predicted by the genetic model.

EDITED 8/21 - Somehow last night I looked at Loren's hair wrong... he has a clockwise whorl. Calvin and Michelle are as reported, so Loren's genotype could be Rr or rr, since Calvin is clearly rr. Michelle could therefore be either Rr or rr, since her hair is clockwise. Interesting... we'll have to see how it all pans out.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Imaginative play

Calvin is getting so imaginative with his play - it's delightful to watch. Today as I type, he is playing with his train set. He knows all of the Thomas characters from the books we read him, and he is imagining Sir Topham Hatt directing his railway. He's also playing with the cargo part of the train set, moving little balls up a ramp by turning a crank, and watching them go down and into the freight car. He is telling them "please" and "thank you" as they go up and down. Too cute! It's past the start of nap time, but he is so absorbed that I hate to make him take a nap.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Morning workout

I went to Liberty Park this morning for my workout, planning to meet some other Wasatch Walkers there. However, none of them could make it (many are doing the Provo Half Marathon tomorrow). So I slogged through a solitary workout, and it was OK. The new shoes were GREAT. My lactate threshold workout was EVIL. After my warmup and flex drills I did 2 laps of Liberty Park at 85% MHR in about 29 minutes. Slow, and painful. Ugh! I am really feeling the 2 weeks off of lactate threshold workouts. I'm sure it will come back. Tomorrow I plan to do a track workout to do some speed work. We'll see how it goes. I want to shoot for 5:30/km for my next 5K (Wasatch Walkers is having a 5K on 9/15). That's a lofty goal, as my last 5K was 5:45/km, and I only have one month before the next one, but we'll see.

I have GOT to get back into gear for the remaining races I want to do this season. I am heavily leaning toward the Boise Women's Fitness Celebration on Sept 22nd if some of the other walkers will go w/me to share expenses, and if I can get Loren some help w/the kids. Or maybe Loren and the kids will come too? Not sure yet.

In other walking news, the Sports-Am website (a local group that hosts lots of races) has a link to the Wasatch Walkers website on their front page now!!! Wooo-hoo! Publicity for our club!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

New shoes!!!!!

I am VERY excited about these shoes. My friend the urban princess will not get it, since they are definitely NOT a fashion statement, but they are now my favorite pair of shoes. They are REAL RACEWALKING SHOES. Yes, truly made for racewalking. They are not running shoes that will do for racewalking - no sir. These are the genuine article, made in China (where some of the world's best racewalkers reside) and imported to the USA by a couple of racewalkers here, who graciously made them available to other racewalkers.

I am going to try them out tomorrow, but meanwhile, note the wonderfully low heel, the light weight, and the nice flexible yet supportive sole. I am in shoe heaven! Hey, they even arrived in a Barbie shoebox - how fun is that!?! :)

Lots o' photos

First, some photos from the Deseret News 10K, before & after the race (it was a bit warm and muggy, even though the race was from 6-7am!).

Then, some vacation pictures:

Alex, Loren, and Erica with Calvin & Michelle; Dennis and Loren's mom w/the kids

Me & Loren at Crater Lake; waterfall along the hike to Green Lakes, Mom and Dad with the kids, the kids with my cousin's daughter, Sierra

Monday, August 06, 2007

Back from vacation

Hi, I'm back! We enjoyed a great vacation to Lakeport, CA (where my mother-in-law and her husband reside) and Sunriver, OR (where my mom's family reunion took place). The kids did awesome in the car for many hours. We drove 5 hrs the first night, then 7 hrs the next day, and then stayed in Lakeport for 3 days. Then we drove 7 hrs to Sunriver, and stayed there almost a week. Then 5 hrs to Boise, and 5 hrs back to Salt Lake. 29 hours total, and no significant problems. The DVD player was a godsend, for sure - Calvin enjoyed watching Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder, Arthur, Baby Beethoven, and more. We enjoyed listening to two audiobooks - Echo Park by Michael Connelly and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Two very different books, but both quite worthwhile.

The vacation itself was wonderful. I loved having a break from the kids in both places we visited. My mother-in-law and her husband are great w/kids, and had a blast with them. My mom's family enjoyed them a lot as well, and Aunts Sue and Kate especially liked their time w/the kids. My dad got in lots of babysitting time and said it was the highlight of his trip. Me, I liked canoeing, biking, hiking, and sightseeing. We hiked a 9-mile round trip to Green Lakes (near Mt. Bachelor), canoed on the river (Little Deschutes? Deschutes?) through Sunriver, biked around Sunriver, and drove to Crater Lake for a day of sightseeing and a short hike. It was awesome. I also got in some serious hot tub time, some reading, and some fun cooking with Aunt Kate. Cooked 3 meals for the family, and it was great to cook w/o kids underfoot.

More books... I started and finished the new Harry Potter book while on vacation, and it was great. If you haven't read it yet, you will NOT be disappointed. I loved all of them and can't wait to introduce the kids to them when they are old enough. In the more serious vein, I have almost finished American Jesus by Stephen Prothero. It's a history of all things Jesus in America, from Jefferson's ideas about Jesus to the Mormon Jesus to Jewish thoughts on Jesus. It's very well researched and full of interesting tidbits that help me to understand more about how and why Americans picture Jesus in certain ways. Recommended reading if you are interested in they whys and wherefores of American religion - whether you are an atheist or a Christian or something else, it will help you to understand things a lot better. Finally, I am reading a good ol' Puritan classic The Mortification of Sin by John Owen. I had been wanting to read it for a while, and then Jonathan offered it on loan, so I took him up on it. I wanted to finish the whole thing while on vacation, but am only about 1/3 of the way through it. That's OK, as I'll continue and will finish soon - it's not a very long book.

Now back into the routine - off to work tomorrow, which I'm actually ready for and looking forward to, believe it or not. I also need to write up a training schedule for my next race... however, I'm not sure what I'm going to do next, so that complicates matters a little bit. I will be thinking about it this week. Any suggestions??? :)