Monday, June 30, 2014

Fitbloggin' Fourteen in photos

This will be my one and only Fitbloggin' recap post, and it will be pretty long.  There will be several other posts that tie into Fitbloggin' but will be more general interest. I hope you enjoy this even if you have no interest in attending Fitbloggin' yourself (in Denver next year). 

Fitbloggin' got off to a rocky start for me. I had a long series of frustrations as a result of trying to save money by taking public transportation instead of a cab from the airport.  I ended up abandoning that plan and taking one of those trolley tours instead. 

I didn't save money, but I did learn a lot about Savannah, which is a beautiful and historic city. The tour was a bit sanitized -- they talked about the importance of the cotton industry but never mentioned slavery, but it was interesting and I found myself repeating facts from it for the rest of the trip.  

I also saw this poster out the window right near my hotel, and it alerted me to the fact that we were only a few blocks from a drag club. Margo Porras, my Fitbloggin' roommate for the conference this year and last (and as long as she wants to room together), was the one who introduced me to Ru Paul's Drag Race, so I knew she would probably be game to see a show.  

Coco Montrese was a contestant on Ru Paul's Drag Race

I filed that information away, checked in, and got the first item on my Fitbloggin' to-do list: A selfie with Alan Ali, the Selfie King.

I spent the whole opening mixer catching up with people that I knew from my first Fitbloggin', like Christine  (DubyaWife), and there were lots of new people to meet, like the world's happiest baby girl.

The baby was a big hit with everyone. Here she is with Martinus, Heather, and her mother Liz (LutherLiz). 

My presentation was on the first day of the conference, and was liveblogged by GingerMantra. I attended a lot of great sessions. You can find all of the liveblogs and session descriptions at the Fitbloggin' website. 

There was a big lunch with RunDisney, but Margo wanted to venture out, and I was happy to join her. The only bad part was that we missed the Fitbloggin' 14 group picture.  

I didn't take a lot of pictures of Savannah, but here is one to give you a sense of the beauty of the city.

Margo and I had lunch at Gryphon and sat outdoors. Our waitress arrived to take our order just as the bells on the nearby church went off for their half-hour-long 1:00 song. Margo decided to capture this on video, and I got this picture that looks nothing like her because she isn't smiling. 

My lunch was beautiful. Because I was keeping my goals in mind, I only ate one of those goat cheese medallions.

Then I went back to catch some of the afternoon sessions. One of the highlights of the weekend was the Ignite keynote, which was a series of short, fun presentations.  They were on everything from "Screw Your Shoes" (about modifying a pair of old running shoes for icy winter running, to a presentation by Roni's mom with pictures of Roni through the years.   I volunteered for a prize competition where I had to recap one of the Ignite sessions from memory. It was Sarah's incomparable "How to Make a Proper Cup of Tea," and I flubbed it in a way that I hoped was funny. I came in third place and won a Soybu yoga wear certificate.

There was lots of time to hang out with friends, including first-place winner Heather.

I was wearing a sequin-front dress by Gwynnie Bee, and it was perfectly appropriate for the group excursion to the Club One Drag Cabaret.  I thought three or four people would go, but we ended up with a group of around twenty. We had read that the early show on Friday was pretty dead, but with us, the room was filled.

I had to go downstairs to get money from the ATM, since it was a cash-only bar, and I got a drink from this bartender. He specialized in drinks with Not Safe For Work names.  The caption on his tip jar is also NSFW.

We Fitbloggers were generous with our tips.  These photos show gorgeous redheaded MC getting some blogger love.

The performer below said, "Y'all are bloggers? Be sure to say that you saw , that's M-O-T-I-O-N, and she was A-ma-Zing." 

She was too, but so were the other performers. This plus-sized queen, , leapt into the splits in four-inch heels later in the show.  She was, of course, not wearing this dress.

I saw Motion after the show and she was nice enough to pose for a picture with me. She looked much taller standing next to me.

I could not believe when the alarm went off for 6 a.m. yoga that we actually got up, but it was with Kia, and we knew it would be worth it. It was exactly what I needed to wake up.

Afterward I enjoyed some oatmeal and coffee.

I got this photo with a Ninja Kitchen vendor in the hopes of winning a blender, but no dice.

I went to some more great sessions, including Fitblogger Tough Love, which I'll talk more about later, and then it was time for Zumba with (and friends).

The official Fitbloggin' photographer generously offered to take free head shots of any blogger who needed a new one.  I, of course, jumped in on this opportunity, as did many of the others. 

While I was waiting, I took a selfie to show one of my other Gwynnie Bee dresses. It was so nice to send back those clothes to have room in my suitcase for Fitbloggin' swag. 

At Saturday's reception, there was an effort to set some kind of selfie record by having as many different people as possible take pictures with vegan NFL player Arian Foster

Christine showed off her new DubyaWife tattoo. 

This year's reception was more low-key than last year's, which was nice -- my energy was starting to dip after too much fun and not enough sleep. There was a pro-blogger panel during the reception. I listened for a while but I felt like I had gotten a lot of the information in other sessions. I went out to the lobby for a while to chat with others who felt the same way, then went up to my room to recharge my phone's batteries and my own before heading out to The Olde Pink House for dinner. Everything on the menu looked great, but I didn't want to overload my calorie budget or my financial one, so I ordered a fried green tomatoes appetizer and some cheddar grits. The tomatoes were excellent, but the grits were just okay, so I left a lot of them. The restaurant itself was beautiful, so we toured a little and discovered that it was pouring down rain and we weren't going to be able to walk back to the hotel. We split a cab.

It was another early morning for the Fitbloggin' 5K.  I put on my #wycwyc temporary tattoo: "What you can, when you can." 

Jeff Galloway, who popularized run/walk intervals for marathon training, was on hand for photos with bloggers (mine was taken by his wife Barbara!)  Jeff actually led a run/walk group for the 5K with Alan Ali. I had planned to go with that group, but started with the runners and ended up doing less formal run/walk intervals with Mat

There was a long, sad breakfast where I put off saying goodbye to everyone as late as possible. I had a later flight so after a shower, I went to lunch at Vic's on the River with 5 other women.  I have to say that I think the food was better (and less expensive) than the Pink House's.  I had to try their version of fried green tomatoes, which were heartier and came served over a small drizzle of grits.  I only had two slices -- I gave the other to Erin (Girl Gone Veggie).  I got a grilled vegetable salad to balance out the fried stuff. 

After lunch I still had time to kill before my flight, so I did a little walking and took some more photos of Savannah. 

Then I hung out in the hotel bar with Christine and talked trisuits.  I shared a van to the airport with 5 other bloggers so I saved some money on a cab. There was the cutest Benefit Cosmetics vending machine at the airport. I'm glad I didn't see it on the way in. 

My flight was uneventful, but my husband and I tried two different restaurants on the way home from the airport but found that they were both closing just as we got there.  It was a Sunday night, so we decided to just go to Ann Arbor, where we knew we could find food.  We went to The Jolly Pumpkin, which has a gorgeous rooftop bar. We had a relaxed dinner and then drove home -- it was after 11:00 when I finally got into bed. I'm still not unpacked.

Goodnight, Fitbloggers! See you in Denver! 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fitbloggin' Presentation: Triathlete Chat

The Liveblog by GingerMantra.

My notes:

I wore my trisuit to show that even though it's not the most flattering garment, it's a very practical one. I also wanted to demonstrate how I keep track of my swim goggles and cap before the race. I did put my jacket back on shortly after the photo above was snapped because I'm not immune to feeling self-conscious in spandex, but for the race itself, I don't think about how I look.  I had my Enell bra under the trisuit, and I wear it for all of my runs and races -- managing the jiggle is very important.

There were a lot of experienced triathletes in the session in addition to some newbies.  Unbeknownst to me, a Team USA duathlete was in the session. She mentioned that she won a race, but I didn't know what race it was -- maybe I should have asked?

I have posted some resources to the Pinterest board above and would love suggestions on what other resources would be useful.

My takeaways:

Swim: Practice, practice, practice. Find a master's swim group if you can.  Join a local triathlon club so you can train in open water -- it's not safe to swim in open water alone.  Practice as much as you can so you feel confident.

Bike: Train and race on whatever bike you have for your first race. Spin classes are also good for bike training.  IF you are going to buy a bike, buy a road bike.  Get fitted at a local bike shop. Don't buy a hybrid or mountain bike just for a triathlon -- you will be disappointed when everyone passes you.  Consider toe cages or clipless pedals (which is confusing because you "clip in") to add power to your bike leg.

Run: It's totally okay to walk all or part of the run segment.  Smile at other runners when you need a lift -- most will smile back.

Overall: Have fun. Especially for your first race, don't worry too much about your time.   No matter how slow or fast you are, you are a triathlete.  You can always improve for your next race.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pre-Fitbloggin' updates: Quarry Ridge Triathlon

Because I was doing a triathlon on Wednesday, my normal weigh-in day, I went to another center to weigh in on Tuesday evening. A weird artifact of the Weight Watchers app seems to be that if your weigh-in week starts on Wednesday, then it gets confused if you weigh-in on Tuesday. My Tuesday weight replaced my last week's weight on my graph, and since I lost the 1.2 I gained last week, it's as if it never happened. 

On  race day, there was a thunderstorm. USA Triathlon rules require waiting an hour after the last thunder or lightning before start. The weather radar looked ugly, so we were all setting up without knowing if we were going to actually get to race. We were all feeling a little goofy.

I set up my transition area leaving all my shoes in the plastic grocery bags I used to keep them from getting dirt all over my triathlon backpack. Plastic grocery bags are so useful for triathlons that I'm surprised that some company hasn't started to market specialized logo versions to triathletes for $10 each (triathlon gear can become an expensive habit). 

I was glad when the rain started to lighten up so I could take a photo of how to set up a transition area for my presentation at Fitbloggin'.  Usually I set the helmet the other way and put my sunglasses inside, but it was still raining so I flipped the helmet to keep my sunglasses semi-dry.  You can see that there is not a lot of space for each athlete -- think hand towel, not beach towel. 
Here I have my sunglasses and helmet on my bike's , my (under the helmet), my bike shoes and running shoes (with socks inside), a shirt to throw on over my trisuit with the number pinned to it, and a towel and a bottle of sports drink (Skratch Labs Pineapples) for transition.  

My goals for this race were really modest. I'm still recovering from my hamstring strain, so I hoped to do well on the swim and bike and just survive the run. I didn't even wear a watch so I wouldn't worry myself with how slow I was.

I have to be honest -- I still get anxious before every race. When the weather was bad, I started to half-hope it wouldn't go because I was nervous. But then the sun came out and I was ready to race. 

It was a time-trial start, which meant that we arranged ourselves on steps based on our expected swim times (I put myself near the beginning of the second step, estimating 9-10 minutes for the swim). It was only a 400-yard swim with lots of turns so it got pretty crowded in the water.

I felt pretty good coming out of the swim. The bike leg felt hard -- I kept getting passed by people who were slower swimmers than me but faster cyclists. I have been doing mostly women's-only races, so the fact that the field was half men was probably part of my sense that I was going slower than usual -- I actually averaged more than 17 mph on the bike, according to the partial results I saw on race day. I'm still waiting for the full results to be posted. I slipped getting off my bike and almost fell, and the officials laughed when they heard me drop an F-bomb.

My running shoes and socks were soaked -- I should have left the plastic bag on top. I did the run leg as run-walk intervals -- I ran until I felt like I couldn't run, then walked. My toes and hamstring were both bothering me a little so I walked more than I would have liked.  I got a lot of "keep going," and "you're looking good" from the other runners, which gave me the distinct sense that I was not looking good. I got over myself, though, and smiled at the other runners as much as possible and tried to keep my spirits up.  It was a rough slog.  I had to stop to take off my socks because my feet were so swollen that I didn't think I could take it otherwise, and that helped me speed up a little. I would guess my run was 40 minutes or more because of all the walk breaks.

Overall, it was not my best race, but I liked racing in the evening -- it was cool to be relaxing at the after party watching the sun set.  I had a beer, which tasted like the best thing in the world.  The only thing that felt better than the plastic chair I was sitting in was my hot shower later.

The thing that makes me feel great about this race was that I could decide to do it and just do it -- I had been training enough to be ready to finish a tri with two weeks' notice.  I hadn't done a lot of run training, which showed, but I felt very prepared for the swim and the bike.

I'm planning to do another event in July on a similar course.  We'll see how much I can improve by then.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Fueling summer fun with Blue Diamond Almonds

Note: I was provided with a can of Blue Diamond Toasted Coconut Almonds and a bag of the Blue Diamond Blueberry Almonds through the Blue Diamond Tastemakers program. The ideas here are all my own.

Almonds are one of my favorite snacks, and since I started doing Weight Watchers again, I am always looking for low-points snacks that are satisfying and have enough protein to keep me fueled, especially as I have been ramping up my summer training. So I was happy to get two new flavors to try. I love natural almonds, but it's fun to mix things up with some new flavors.

After my run today, I refueled with a yogurt bowl that included chocolate-flavored nonfat Greek yogurt, fresh blueberries, and 14 chopped Toasted Coconut Almonds. This was a 6 PointsPlus snack that tasted almost like a sundae and packed 16 grams of protein. It has been hot so I also had a tall glass of water.

My husband, who is a berry fanatic, claimed the Blueberry almonds for snacking in his basement man cave while watching the U.S. team in the World Cup. 

While I was out shopping for dinners for the week, I was thinking about Fitbloggin' -- I leave Thursday and wanted to plan some healthy snacks to take along. I found my favorite flavor of Blue Diamond Almonds -- Dark Chocolate -- and decided to make up some 2-PointsPlus snack bags (12 of the Dark Chocolate or 14 of the Toasted Coconut).  I packed up a few of each and have them ready to drop into my carry-on. 

How are you fueling your summer fun? 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bike makeover: A story in photos

I love my cruiser bike -- I have had it for about two years now.  When I bought it, I got a cheap basket on sale.  I liked the look of a liner bag inside a bike basket, so I used an old tote bag I had -- then I could pick the tote up to carry it when I got where I was going. It was a cheapskate solution, and it worked really well for a while.


The problem with the basket is that it was held on by little leather straps that went through the basket weave, and either I overloaded it or it wasn't sturdy to start with, and it started to break apart. The basket was a lot less stable as a result. Someone who knows how to repair baskets might be able to fix it, but that someone is not me.

Vickie wrote recently on her blog about getting a cruiser with a wire basket that could be detached for carrying things like water and other supplies. I researched for a while and decided I wanted a white basket, to go with .  I ordered , because they had good reviews.

The basket arrived and had very simple instructions that were easy to follow. The only thing that took any time was realizing that I didn't need the rubber shims included with the basket, that it actually fit better without them.

I also ordered a cute liner/tote bag from an Etsy shop called Bicyclette. They had a lot of cute designs, but I had to go with my favorite color -- purple. I especially liked that there was a pocket just the right size for my iPhone.

I also got a couple of bonus items with the bag:

Now I'm all ready for my Mackinac Island adventure! We plan to take my cruiser and my husband's (much less cute, but very functional) bike.

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07