Kate and I had plenty of time to chat over the past 4 days. With Kate doing a 70.3 next weekend in Lake Stevens and then IMKY in August, I was entertaining her with plenty of nutrition strategy's for her races. I know she will do great despite the hot weather in Kentucky and based on this past weekend, she will rock the 70.3 bike course. I told her I'd give her 100 meters of my swim skills if she would give me 3 min. on a sprint bike course. It was a deal :)
Well, after talking Ironman for at least 2 hours on sunday I knew that something has been missing in my life. I wasn't missing IM after I was learning how to walk again after Kona but ever since I've been able to run and feel strong during a race, I have been getting the IM vibe. Obviously, school is my number one concern right now. Not only is it taking a lot of time but also money. Karel always reminds me that our sports are part of our lives and that is what we do. We aren't professionals by any means but we love punishing our bodies and calling it "training". We also love the process of training and seeing it all come together at a race. Not all races are perfect but we keep coming back for more training so that we can get stronger and faster.
After thinking about the possible IM races that I can afford (meaning, minimal travel) I thought that I could give a try at IMKY next August. Of course being in my homestate of Kentucky and living 21 years in lexington, it would be great to see all my old friends and see some familiar roads. I am 80% sure I am going to sign up for IMKY in hopes of racing the best I can and having a fun race.
After making my 80% decision to sign up for IMKY I told Karel as Kate, Karel and I were eating dinner last night. I didn't come right out and say "Karel, I'm going to sign up for IMKY" but rather, I said "karel, I am thinking about signing up for IMKY. What do you think?"
For anyone who has done an IM or has known someone who has done an IM, it is not an individual race. Although there are many months of lonely training rides, runs and swims there must be support of friends and family. The decision of an IM is one that is made among many people and everyone must be on board. Your children, your parents, your wives/husbands, your boyfriends/girlfriends, your close friends, your siblings, your employees, your boss, your teachers and/or your coach. Today, I called my mom and told her about my 80% decision. Both my mom and Karel were on board with my decision but just like IM #1 (IMFL) and IM #2 (Kona) an Ironman takes a lot of time and energy. Your loved ones must support you when you are heading out for a 6 hour workout, encourage you when you think you can't make it until taper and most of all, understand (and put up with) all the emotions that come with training for an IM.
The decision for an IM is much like jumping into a new nutrition plan.
This weekend Kate had the chance to observe a weekend of eating like Marni...and she survived!!! Seriously, I'm totally normal and I even eat white bread, ice cream and sports bars and I snack after 8pm. Although I think some of my food choices and eating habits are weird, I think we are all weird in some way. However, Kate and I shopped at Publix together for yummy food (PB, raisins, bananas, nuts, yogurt, pita bread and oatmeal) and we ate out together. Sometimes kate would be hungry and I would be fine and other times I would be snacking on nuts and Kate would be napping. We eat different amounts but we both enjoyed eating and being together. We both have different eating habits but we had healthy food at all times.
Kate brought up a great point this weekend. She said that she ate so clean all weekend and didn't really crave the typical foods she eats around a race like a coke or greasy foods after a race. Of course we all love a nice piece of pizza or something sweet after a race but Kate admitted that she felt so good going into the race eating so well. She wasn't stuffed from eating too much and we were both surprised that we didn't really eat a lot. Just enough to stay satisfied and we didn't really "snack mindlessly" or overeat.
This got me thinking that an Ironman and healthy eating are much alike. Do you ever start a new nutrition plan and not tell anyone? I guess it seems silly that you would tell everyone you know that you are cleaning up your diet and attempting to lose weight or just eat more health. You are ready to make the new changes to clean up the diet but friends and family provide food which you probably shouldn't eat on a daily basis. And even if you know it is 2pm and you just ate lunch, available foods should not be left uneaten in the house or at work. It isn't your problem that if food is around, you WILL eat it. Discipline and will-power only work so long until the brain chemicals in the body begin to overpower any sense of your inner strength to avoid chips, sodas, sweets, etc....or for me...BREAD!
I wish that people would not be afraid to eat in a "weird" way. Why do I say "weird"? Well, because that isn't how the rest of the world is eating. Yes, i know it is confusing. How simple would it be if you ate out and all the toppings and sauces were on the side and you didn't have to ask? What if the portions were smaller and you didn't have to feel stuffed after finishing your plate? What if all ice cream was frozen yogurt and the serving size was really 1/2 cup? What if the grocery store provided only healthy options at an affordable price and you didn't have to spend hours reading food labels and deciphering the healthiest, artificial flavoring-free, low sugar/calorie food? And for me, what if restaurants provided vegetarian options that we both filling and healthy....not unhealthy and loaded with cheese or the normal vegetarian option of iceberg lettuce and a few small baby tomatoes for an expensive, non-filling salad. Come on...I'm an athlete and I want to eat and be healthy!
LIfe would be so easy if we were all alone. No kids, significant others, friends or family. Just you and your own eating. You could eat when you were hungry and not be influenced by the work snack table or when your significant other (or you) got home from work. You could have only the best food in your house that you wanted to eat and not what your kids cried for because they saw it on tv (without making this blog too long, if you are avoiding that food...don't feed it to your kids!!!!). You could come home and cook whatever you wanted and only portion to your needs.
This is how I eat. Yes, Karel is hungry when I am not, he craves different foods, yet he eats everything, and Karel loves meat while i enjoy tofu. However, Karel understands the way I eat. Karel came into my life knowing that I stress healthy eating. At first it was a little weird to him that I was so healthy and I had to "special order" all my food. Finally, he realized why I was so picky. Well, #1 reason, I am a vegetarian. That right there is reason for me to have to be very focused on what I am eating and not eating. Secondly, I am an endurance athlete. Timing MY nutrition with my training helps me be a better athlete. This is the reason why Karel wanted to start changing his eating. He wanted to have better workouts, use the right fuels and drop some unnecessary weight. Lastly, Karel and I both know what it feels like to be healthy and to just eat for yourself. It feels great!
I guess my point to this blog is to stress to people that you have to be a little "weird" to eat healthy. Also, don't be afraid and don't keep it a secret. As athletes and exercise enthusiasts, we live in a world that does not cater to healthy eating. We are surrounded by unhealthy food choices and it still surprises me that food portions are getting bigger, unhealthy foods are getting cheaper and to no surprise, Americans are gaining weight.
Focus on your own nutrition and don't be afraid to eat when you are hungry, eat the foods that you know are healthy and to buy only the foods which you consider healthy and you could eat every day without feeling guilty about what you are eating. Don't be afraid to turn down a food that you are offered because you know it is unhealthy or you know you just ate and aren't really in need for food. Remember, food is fuel. Eating to much or at the wrong time may sacrifice a training session or racing performance. Don't feel tempted (I know, easier said than done) to eat more calories than you know you should be eating. Lastly, don't be afraid to eat healthy. It is ok to be a little hungry, it is ok to not feel stuffed after a meal, it is ok to not eat every time you get a craving, when you get bored or when someone else is eating. Also, don't hesitate to include others in your decision to eat healthy.
Good luck on your choice to eat healthy.....and possibly do an Ironman!!!