what I’d do differently

Portland Century – The Recovery

We got home from the Portland Century about 4:30 on Sunday. All day during the ride I’d have no concept of time. I think it was because we started the ride so early (7:45). I also had no concept of mileage while on the ride. There weren’t any mileage signs posted anywhere on the route–which I think HELPED me a great deal. I showered immediately when we got home and I used the foam roller. It hurt so good. I also wore my compression tights all afternoon, which felt even better.

Then it was time for our massages. Oh heavenly 90 minute massages! It felt amazing. My therapist worked on my lower back, glutes and got the knots out of my shoulders and back. My hamstrings were surprisingly tight and I might have yelped a few times while he was working them out. I fell asleep several times during the massage and when it was over I crashed into bed and slept like the dead. Soooo good!

I slept in on Monday and donned my compression tights while I relaxed around the house. I was so happy I took the day off to recover. I ate breakfast–scrambled eggs, bacon and black beans. My goal for Monday was to eat lots of protein and carbs to aid recovery. Then I headed to the pool. I know I sound like a broken record but SWIMMING IS THE BEST RECOVERY.

I felt great in the pool. I was slow but I wasn’t setting out to set any records in the pool. After swimming I lounged in the hot tub (the best ever) and soaked my sore muscles. A guy in the hot tub mentioned that my form was excellent. He said he’d been pointing out my form to his son who was in the pool with him to give him tips. I’m glad that my form was okay because I felt pretty sloppy in the pool!

Swim Stats:

Time: 59 minutes
Calories Burned: 371
Distance: About 1.25 milesΒ 

After my swim I had a high protein lunch: leftover mac n’ cheese with chopped ham in it plus a generous portion of cottage cheese. I then proceeded to eat a pint of blueberries. πŸ™‚

It may not be pretty, but it did the trick.


Things That Helped in the Century

There were a lot of things that made this bike experience a success. I think having a clean bike with a sparkling bike chain made a world of difference. The lessons on how to shift up hills were valuable too. I practiced for months to prepare for the Portland Century. I started commuting to work by my bike–which I grew to love–and that helped me get more mileage in on the bike. I’d hoped that I would be able to commute to work twice a week and then do long rides on the weekends but that didn’t come to fruition. Weather and timing just didn’t go in my favor this summer. I think I did the bare minimumΒ in training in order to complete the 72 miles but I started to feel it in the end.


You would be amazed how something so small could help so much. I used Chamois Butt’r during the ride. I applied it before we started and reapplied it twice during the 72 miles. You can apply it to the chamois (padding) in your bike shorts, or directly onto your body–butt and girl parts, if you will. It reduces the friction that can cause saddle sores and soreness on your butt during long rides. And it really does work. I had no saddle soreness during those 72 miles (just lower back soreness).

They make many products that do this. Michael uses a product call DZNuts. It’s a little weird at first but it works.


Eating something at every rest stop–and choosing items that were high in carbs and sugar–got me through the Century. I didn’t need to eat GUs at all. I never felt hungry during the ride. I may have made myself eat when I wasn’t hungry at a few of those rest stops but I think that prevented me from crashing.

When I did Reach the Beach I crashed. I hadn’t eaten enough food, I relied heavily on GUs instead. I also wasn’t prepared for temperature changes and even got hypothermia. It was a miserable experience that I did not want to repeat.


I usually listen to music on my headphones very quietly on long bike rides. I’m careful and I make sure it’s low enough so I can hear what’s going on around me. Instead of music this time I made a playlist of “The Best Howard Stern Moments.” I had about 10 hours of the radio show, without commercials, and they were all my favorite moments of the show. Listening to talk radio really helped me. It distracted me from the endless chatter in my brain, the thoughts about my sore body, the doubts in my head on whether or not I could do 72 miles on the bike. It was great!


It’s amazing how something so SIMPLE and FREE can make or break you. Whenever I was starting to feel lethargic or mentally starting to waiver, I had some water and immediately felt better. It’s hard when you are on a bike. Sometimes I get distracted with riding and forget to drink water.


Originally when we talked about how we wanted to do the Century, Michael mentioned that he didn’t want to make many stops. I am glad that we ended up stopping at ALL the rest stops and then stopped along the way (for photos). These stops were probably what helped me stay strong on the bike for the first 60 miles.

Just when I was starting to feel uncomfortable we were at another rest stop where I could walk around, stretch, work out my back stiffness and just rest. I think getting off the bike is important for these long rides.


I packed sunscreen with the vow to use it often. I’m very fair and burn easily. I did not want to end up with a miserable sunburn. There were sunscreen stations at each rest stop as well, which helped me to remember to reapply the sunscreen. I was MUCH better about it this year than I’ve been in past experiences.

It’s especially important when biking to put sunscreen on the back of the neck and shoulders, plus the ears.Β I reapplied sunscreen several times throughout the Century and that prevented me from being miserable. I did get some color but I’m not nursing a horrific burn.


Having a partner riding with you to offer moral support is a must. When things get hard you pull each other through.

When things are going great you have someone at your side to share the happy memories!


What Would I Do Different For Next Year

Each organized ride, training session and even my running races, teach me something new. I learn that I am strongΒ and can accomplish anythingΒ I put my mind to. A good part of cycling and racing is mental. If I can handle the mental challenges of these events I can succeed. So what would I do differently and what do I need to work on?

  • Strengthen My Core
  • Get More Mileage In

I think if I focus on strengthening my core that will help with back discomfort on the bike. Getting more mileage in will also prepare me for longer bike rides. My hope is that I can continue commuting to work as long as the weather holds up.

QUESTION: What’s your favorite way to recover from hard activities?

How to Lose Weight – Week One

Disclaimer: I’m not a dietitian or doctor. I did not go to school to get a degree in Nutrition. Please see your doctor before starting your weight loss journey. But there’s a saying…would you get your haircut by a bald barber? While I may not be a doctor, I did learn a lot while losing my 100 pounds. That being said, I’m starting a new weekly series about how to lose weight.

This new weekly post will be tips and suggestions on how to lose weight. A lot of the emails I get from readers are “How do I lose weight?” and “Where do I start?” Where to start is both HARD and EASY. So this series is really about how I would lose weight if I could do it all over again with the things I learned along the way. The way this will start is with baby steps.

Step One – Measure Your Body and Weigh In.

Sure this will be a hard thing to do. Being faced with the reality of hard, cold numbers is depressing. But it’s important to have some sort of base numbers to track your progress.

One of the things I regret the most about my weight loss journey is NOT MEASURING MY BODY. I just used the scale as my only barometer for weight loss. Measuring and seeing the inches lost would have made the process so much better. Whenever I hit those plateaus on the scale I bet you anything that I was losing inches instead of pounds those weeks.


Plus, if you can find a place that you can get a body fat analysis I really recommend that. I’m not talking those archaic calipers either–those aren’t accurate. But sometimes doctors and weight loss businesses have a machine, or a special scale that will give you your Body Fat % for a nominally fee. I’m curious what my Body Fat % was when I was 250 pounds. If I took a guess I’d say 40%?


Step Two – Count Your Calories

…WITHOUT any dietary changes. Do not start restricting your calories this week. This week you are just becoming AWARE.

When I first decided that counting calories was how I would lose 100 pounds I wrote down my calories for one day without making any changes.

I remember I started logging my calories on a small Post-It Note that I attached to my microwave. I was floored when I realized that I reached 2,000 calories by lunchtime that one day I counted! That was quite the eye-opener–and I ran out of space on the Post-It. I knew I had to make drastic changes in my lifestyle and the next day I woke up with an iron-clad resolve to eat 2,000 calories or less. It was a struggle.

I had to figure where and how to cut excess calories and what foods I could eat that satisfied me without going over 2,000. More on that in the coming weeks.

Step Three – Get a Journal

This will be a food and exercise journal to track you progress. On page one write down your starting weight and starting measurements. Page two should be your first attempt at counting your calories without making any dietary changes. Just be aware of where you are starting from.

If you’d rather do all of those things digitally there are ways to do that. If you have an iPhone there are Apps you can use (I use My Fitness Pal). If you want to track it on the computer you can set up an Excel spreadsheet (which I did to record each week’s weight) or you can log in at Spark People. There are lots of ways you can do it to make your life easier. (As a side note, for 2 years that I was losing weight I wrote all of my food in a journal by hand. It wasn’t until later that I used the phone app.)

Step Four – Set a Goal

Setting a realistic goal is an important aspect to this equation. The idea of losing 100 pounds was scary, overwhelming and daunting. I decided to start with 50. My goal was to lose 5o pounds before my brother’s wedding. Having a specific date (that was REALISTIC) helped immensely. It motivated me to work harder, it motivated me to keep going when I plateaued and I reached the goal of losing 50 pounds in less than a year.

In your journal on page three make a list of goals. Examples:

  • Lose 50 pounds
  • Consistently work out 3 days a week
  • Get to a size 10 jeans

Your goals should be something that you really want and they will be used to motivate you when times get tough. There is no judgment about your goals. They are individual and personal.

As you can see, Week One does not recommend any exercise or dietary changes yet. Week One is all about Awareness. The hard work comes up next.

In the coming weeks I’ll share more tips and suggestions on how I should have lost the 100 pounds. The way I did it worked for me. It was a slow journey and I think I could have done it a little better in a lot of ways.

250 Pounds
145 Pounds


Check back next week for Week Two.

QUESTION: Are you ready to start your weight loss journey? What have been your biggest barriers and roadblocks?