Monthly Archives: April 2016

Taking in my pants

I mentioned to a friend that I was taking in a pair of my agility pants, and she asked me how I did it. Hence this series of commented photos of the process.

This is the middle back of the pants (outside) before I did anything at all.

taking in 1

And this is the inside middle back before I did anything.

taking in 2

The next step was to sew the drawstring in place so I could use it after I was done. The way I did it, it won’t slide through the middle back, but I know from experience that doesn’t matter. I just zigzagged across the sides where I planned to cut.

taking in 3

Next I cut a triangle out of the middle back that was a little less than the amount I needed to take in.

taking in 4

Then I overlapped the two sides and zigzagged one side on top of the other. I went over the seam twice to make it strong.

taking in 4half

No, it’s not the classiest or neatest job ever, but I always wear a sweater or a t-shirt over my pants, so no one but my dear readers will ever see it. Besides that, I’d be way less embarrassed for someone to see that seam than I would be for my pants to fall down while I’m running!

More changes…

I was looking for a photograph of Rush running with me, and realized that I had pretty much exactly the same photo over multiple years (thank you, Joe Camp).

So here goes:

This is from 2007, running with Dancer about six months after my knee surgery:

Photo by Joe Camp

Photo by Joe Camp

This one is from 2014, running with Dancer:

Photo by Joe Camp

Photo by Joe Camp

And finally, we have April 2016, where I’m running with Rush:
Rush Diana March 2016


Yesterday I cancelled my monthly Weight Watchers plan. I’ve considered doing that for months now–since December–but I wanted to be sure. In December, Oprah (who apparently no longer needs a last name) announced that she was buying 10% of Weight Watchers and she was endorsing their newest plan (their plan changes fairly regularly, usually about five years behind the current research) and she had lost 26 pounds. Amusingly, announcing her weight loss has now made it relevant investor information and she has to disclose her weight loss to everyone or no one, because it has become insider information. After all, if she were to gain some of the weight back, Weight Watchers stock would then go down, in theory. It gives public accountability for weight gain a whole new meaning, doesn’t it? I mean, a few people read my blog and a few of those people might be sad for me if I gained some weight back, but it’s not like I have to disclose it in my quarterly earnings statement.

But I digress.

When Oprah took up WW and the newest plan was announced, suddenly it was all about “a new healthy you” instead of about practical weight loss. The information sessions weren’t about fitness and nutrition, they were about checking in with your inner needs and psychological health. There were a few minutes at the end of each meeting where the leaders got to try to sell us WW snacks and crackers, all in lots of crunchy plastic that divided them into “two-point treats” and similar processed bullshit. Costco sells 100-calorie snackpacks, too, but they don’t try to claim they’ll help you lose weight and that they’re secretly good for you, even if they do contain quinoa.

I hate processed food. It’s mostly designed to be addictive, lots of sugar and salt. Here, for example, is one such product. Note that the first ingredient is sugar.

What a brilliant idea WW has! They sell you food that is bad for you while they are pretending to help you get healthy. It makes sure you keep paying those membership fees, even while they make it harder for you to reach your goals.

And meetings? You come to a meeting, you sit down in a chair, you listen to a conversation about food, and you leave. Will someone explain to me why meetings don’t include a group walk? Why WW’s centers don’t have walking groups?

The meeting that tipped me over the edge was a half hour on how to use spices when cooking. Seriously? This is not a good use of my time.

The problem I had then is that I’ve enjoyed having a support group–I like some of the people in the meetings (not the ones that are in denial about their food issues, but the ones who are actually trying to change their lives), and I like the Monday morning accountability.

I went looking for something to take the place of WW, and I found an online sports nutrition group aimed at female tri-athletes (and other serious female endurance athletes–cyclists, swimmers, runners). It’s been a joy. I hate this cliche, but it applies: “I have found my tribe.” If I say that I’m struggling to figure out what I can eat before I bike and swim so that I don’t bonk, there are actual answers, that involve real food. I even asked for advice about those long agility days–and got an answer I’m looking forward to trying.

There’s a month-long (quite pricey) introductory program. I will be posting details once I finish the program.


Me, not the dogs.

So I started running again (I was a competitive runner in my twenties) so I could get to where I can keep up with Rush. Now I’m running because I enjoy it, because I feel restless if I don’t–and I really enjoy the occasional race, too,. I started swimming again (I swam on my high school team and my college team–I was an “also swam” but I showed up and occasionally came in third (if there were only three swimmers in the event) and sometimes that single point for third meant we won as a team, so not all bad)) to balance out my muscles from running and agility and reduce my likelihood of getting injured. I started biking again (after spending my elementary school Sunday mornings wandering the countryside on my bike while my parents and sister slept in) because I want to bike with Jay and because I wanted to bike the beautiful Oregon Coast and find out about bike touring.

You see where this is going, I hope? I’m running and competing, I’m swimming, I’m biking. Yes, I signed up for a triathlon. Triathlons, it turns out, come in different distances. The Ironman is a sufferfest of a 2.5 mile swim (usually in a lake or ocean), 100 mile bike, full marathon (26.2 miles). I’m not doing that. I’m doing what’s called a “sprint triathlon”. That’s the shortest version–kind of the triathlon version of Couch-to-5K. This one is a 500 yard pool swim (20 lengths, that’s all), 12 mile bike ride, and a finishing 5K run. It’s the first weekend in May. I signed up for it partly because I had that weekend off from agility, so why not do a triathlon?

The only part of this where Rush–my personal trainer–is helping me is the 5K run. Fortunately, I have human friends who are meeting me at the pool and biking with me, and Jay and I are biking too.

I find that many people react to these things by saying, encouragingly, “you can do it!” which always makes me wonder if they secretly think I can’t. I’m pretty sure my friends are not that two-faced, so I think it’s just sincerity speaking. Still, it makes me squirm a bit. I don’t think I’ve ever failed to finish a competitive event I’ve started (well, I’ve walked Rush out of a few agility runs, but I’m not counting that, because that’s about our teamwork, not my fitness), and I don’t really commit to things I’m not prepared to finish. I have scratched out of events before I started–illness or injury–but that’s common sense.

So yes, I can do this.

But when I signed up, I stupidly really didn’t understand about the training involved. The hard part of triathlon, as I’m given to understand it, is the consecutive nature of it. You swim, and then–when you’re done swimming and your legs are tired–you get out of the pool and you go bike. And then–when you’re done swimming and biking and you’re even more tired–you run. So in training, you don’t just go to the pool and swim, you go to the pool, you swim, and then you bike. Or you go for a long bike ride and then you run.

I’m working on this concept, and I’m stunned by how fast my fitness level is improving. I took last Thursday off and “just” walked the dogs (three times, but not long any one time). Friday I ran with Rush, then biked over to the pool, swam, then biked home, including up the hill from hell (Yamhill St. from 78th to 72nd). Saturday I ran a 5K race on Mt. Tabor, despite being tired from the day before, and still finished well under my previous best time for a Mt. Tabor 5K (the courses are all slightly different, but they all involve a long downhill and a long climb). Sunday Jay and I biked from home to Gresham, out the Springwater Trail, twenty-four miles total (and the hill from hell at the end), and then I changed quickly–four minutes total–and ran Rush… and my pace was better than Friday’s. Apparently it does make a different to have thoroughly warm muscles… Who knew?

In other news, I had my body fat level tested last week. I’m composed of far more fat than I’d hoped, so I still have a good bit of weight to lose. At a pound a month… well, this could take a while. That’s okay. At least, today I think that’s okay.

Dealing with Feeling Discouraged

It’s Monday morning after a fourteen-run three-day AKC trial, and I’m feeling more than a little discouraged. In fact, I’m thinking cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate (it’s cool this morning).

Why so discouraged? Well, I’m still struggling with those last five pounds, but this morning, because I ate rather less carefully over the weekend, it’s not those last five pounds–it’s those last seven pounds. Yes, my weight is up, not down. I have reasons (not excuses, which are different): I had the flu, my weight was way down (3 pounds from these last seven), I felt horrible, I nourished my soul and I ate too much. The flu kept me from running much (not at all for multiple days, in fact). I’m pretty much over the flu, and now I have to get “back on track”… Back onto my I’m-losing-weight-so-fucking-slowly-I-can’t-stand-it track. Seriously, I know losing a pound a month is better than gaining a pound a month, but really? I want it to be easy (don’t we all?!) and it’s just not. (Screaming in frustration.)

And then there was the agility. Okay, I’ve spent four years now working toward being the handler Rush needs and requires. And on Friday, I managed it for two runs, one in FAST and one in Jumpers. We won Jumpers, beating border collies and fast Dobermans. That was great, and the run was a pure pleasure, but I had three runs with multiple faults and stupid mistakes and sometimes Rush makes me feel like a complete idiot. And then Saturday was worse, with the only clean run being in Time to Beat, and even there, we’d have had a refusal if refusals were called in T2B. I just wasn’t there for him. And Sunday was worse than that. I felt like a train wreck, dropping old rusted pieces on the tracks as we went. Rush jumped over the a-frame contact for maybe the second or third time in his agility career; he had not one but two flyoffs from the teeter, which he has never done before. (Sunday he did a perfect teeter.)

Sooooo…. not on track on the diet part, dropping rusted parts on the train tracks in agility. Feeling old and fat and slow. And unsuccessful. And did I say slow and fat? And old? Especially old. (My son reminded me that he’s turning thirty–which he considers old–in September. Yeah, if he’s old, what am I?)

Feeling desperately discouraged, in fact. Like what I’m doing just isn’t enough, and I don’t know what else I can do. I log every bite I eat and I mostly eat pretty carefully, and I’m running and swimming and biking to get fit and fast enough for Rush, and he just keeps getting a little bit faster and a little more insistent on perfect handling.

I can catalog a few really good things about the weekend: my knees held up, despite walking a total of 72000 steps over the three days (and I biked and ran on Thursday too). I was fast enough to make it to a blind cross before the last jump–a triple–in Jumpers on Sunday (but I only pushed for it because I’d already blown the Q). I successfully sent Rush to his leash on every single run of the 14 runs. I won a free three-day entry to another trial. Pieces of every single run were good. Our last run on Sunday, despite not Qing, I managed to set a really nice line for the first 15 obstacles. Of course, then he took an off-course tunnel and then missed his weave entry, but… fifteen obstacles is pretty good, right?

From here, where? Well, I guess I’m back to doing what I’ve been doing. I’m going to go for a run, to burn calories, keep Rush fit, try to get faster, and enjoy some time in the woods on my favorite bit of trail. A short run, then off to the barn to try to get Rush to fly off the teeter again, just so I can remind him that he’s not supposed to do that. And then reward him when he does it right the next time. At least, that’s the plan for this morning. I can plan for success, right? Even if I’m old and fat and slow, with a fit fast dog who needs me to be a much better handler than I am.