About Me

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Austin, Texas, United States
I'll make you laugh, or break my neck trying. This is usually accomplished with daily bouts of swimming, biking and running. A former "chub-a-holic," I got fit and healthy the good old fashioned way and went from a mid-pack athlete to top age group runner and triathlete. I'm a Writer and USAT Level 1 Certified Triathlon Coach. I guess that makes me part Tina Fey and part Jillian Michaels. Visit my coaching site at www.fomotraining.com

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Cholesterol Numbers

I'm happy to say that I'm still moving in the right direction and my slight panic attack over the "question about my lab results" was nothing. In fact, the P.A.-C was basically just calling to let me know that everything looked fine because she knows how important this journey and experiment has been for me.

While the changes weren't nearly as drastic as they were back in April, I'm happy that they continued to show small signs of improvement. This experiment has been fascinating for me. If nothing else, I've become much more accountable for my health and have shown solid proof that we CAN and do have the natural power to better ourselves from the inside out. There is no magic health pill. In fact, I'm doing what I can to stay away from the pills. People still ask all of the time how I could possibly survive with this plant-strong way of eating. For the most part, it's easy...simple...fun...tasty. If your first reaction is, "I could NEVER do that," then it's probably not for you. However, I'm also here to tell you, that if I can be disciplined enough, ANYONE can be.

The only time it gets difficult is when I'm at a restaurant that isn't necessarily vegan or vegetarian friendly. Nowadays, I don't look at a menu and see what I CAN'T have (It can be depressing). I look at the vegetarian options or the side dishes that I CAN combine to create a good meal. I've had conversations with chefs at steak restaurants who have personally come to the table and created something special just for me. I don't always like being "that girl," but it's a choice I've made at this point. The biggest pain is being the high maintenance one at dinner. I used to be picky because I would only eat crappy greasy food. Now, I'm picky because I eat "healthy food." What an ironic change.

It continues to be a work in progress. I'd say I'm about 95% vegan (dessert, certain foods made with egg noodles or milk, and occassional piece of sushi, etc) It looks like both my weight and numbers seem to be leveling off, which I suppose will eventually happen!

All I know is that it's a great feeling when you get a phone call from your health care provider giving you a personal pat on the back! They're so used to dealing with people who aren't proactive with their own health. Most patients want the pills, the surgery and the quick fix (and we wonder why health care is out of control). I'm choosing to take the natural approach for now and loving every empowering day of it.

Without further adieu, here are the numbers:

2008 HDL (Healthy Cholesterol): 104
April 2009 HDL: 83
Sept 2009 HDL: 80

2008 LDL (Lethal Cholesterol): 140
April 2009 LDL: 119
Sept 2009 LDL: 110

2008 Total Cholesterol: 259
April 2009 Total Cholesterol: 218
Sept 2009 Total Cholesterol: 213

April 2009 Risk Ratio 1.43 (Below 3.2 is safe)
Sept 2009 Risk Ratio 1.37

Vegas Bike Babe

The above video shot at Interbike in Vegas last week pretty much sums up the experience I had with Erin. It was exhilarating, fast, unexpected, a huge learning experience, and so much fun! Erin and I were innocently walking the floor and were stopped and asked it this handsome little daredevil could "jump" us. Who were we to say no?!
This trip came to me somewhat unexpectedly and is one of the main reasons I quit my "daytime" job. My friend Erin owns a cool company called Grease Monkey Wipes (individually wrapped degreasing cleaning wipes for you or your bike)...Can you tell I practiced our elevator pitch a few times? She was going out to meet with a couple of distributors and walk the show floor making potential partnerships, relationships and connections. Over breakfast a couple of weeks ago she asked if I wanted to go with her... Ya think???
Needless to say, with very little warning, I was off to Sin City with Erin for Interbike 2009! Can I just say we made a great team?! It wasn't because we partied our little butts off...Quite the opposite in fact. The only money I spent gambling was one quarter that I found in the airport on our way home (I lost). We were a great pair because we were ultra BORING :-). Our exciting adventures involved eating at our hotel buffet and going to the crit races at Mandalay Bay. We watched the Women Pros and Industry Race, but left half-way through the Pro Male race. We did wait in line for one after-party...for all of two minutes...and then realized that our comfy beds sounded much more appealing than a free glass of bad champagne.
On Friday, we hit the EXPO floor again meeting new people with interesting (and not so interesting) products. There was the Hoo-Haa Ride Glide, Forze Power Bars, hybrid bikes that fold into your luggage, bamboo bikes, cruiser bikes, electric bikes, carbon bikes, and my new favorite nutrition product, Clif Rox. There were apparel companies, nutrition companies, bike companies, you name it. There were also cycling celebs--George Hincapie, Eddy Mercks, Floyd Landis, and tri studs walking around. Now, I'm definitely not a technical bike geek, but it was pretty fascinating getting to see and talk with the designers of Kestrel, Guru, Litespeed and so many more. Like the car industry, these engineers were there to justify and explain just how much sleeker and faster the 2010 bikes are compared to the 2009s. (as if the 2009s are now pieces of shit).
Erin and I had time to kill on Friday before our flight home and attempted to find a cheesy Vegas tour. Unfortunately, none were leaving in our narrow time window. What did we do instead? We rode the monorail from hotel to hotel like a couple of homeless train-hopping thugs :-) Look out Vegas...We are crazy!
Not only was it a blast and inspiring to hang out with the great mind of Erin, but it was a huge learning experience for me to learn a little more each day about how this industry works. In many ways, it's a huge money making corporate industry, but the small companies (like Grease Monkey Wipes) are also there busting their asses trying to make an impression on distributors, reps, shops, etc. In many ways, it's like the entertainment industry. You have to look good and make the biggest impression. It doesn't necessarily matter how good your product is sometimes. For every major company with dozens of staff, there was a small one-person show trying to make it happen just the same...and those are the people I'm rooting for every time!

Passing out samples and generally being seen! Grease Monkey Wipes were very well received and several industry magazines have already raved about this product. I have a feeling more great things are coming for this company!

Riding the monorail around the Vegas hotels. Dork.

Be on the lookout for Clif Rox! They look and taste like malted milk balls. Yum!!

Erin took the Nuun Gorilla challenge and passed! By the way, their new banana flavor rocks!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My Blog Guilt Trip Worked!

Ahhh...The Power of the Internet and Email!

The beauty of being in the same triathlon group as your physician's P.A.-C is that you can stalk them and send them emails :-) Carol did get an email from me this morning and did see my blog wondering if was dying.

And she called :-) Alas, I am alive and well. She had nothing but positive things to say about the results. All in all, the levels look good (exact numbers at the office) and, overall, remain very similar to what they were five months ago.

Am I a poster child for healthy living? Somedays. Do I plan to keep up this way of eating? Of course. Do I plan to cheat every now and then?? No doubt...especially when Whole Foods has their peanut butter gelato.

Question About My Results?

OK...trying not to panic here...

I had my blood drawn a couple of days ago for cholesterol check #2 since I adopted the Engine 2 diet back in March of this year. My initial 6-week check back in April showed positive results and the total cholesterol number heading in the right direction. Here was my initial report. Five months have passed and I'm anxious to see if the progress has continued as I've waved the vegan flag and sustained the plant strong way of eating.

At 5:00pm yesterday (7:00pm Austin time), I noticed I had missed a call earlier in the day.

"Hi Carrie. This is Dr. XXXX's office. I have a question about your lab results. I'll try you at home, but give me a call if you get this message."

SHIT! You can't do that to me!! You can't leave me hanging all weekend like that!!

Two messages left at home were just as vague. One nurse left a brief message that my lab reports "looked fine" with no specific numbers given. Another message from the P.A.-C (same woman who called my cell) indicated she had a question. In full disclosure, I know the P.A.-C from my triathlon group. She knows I train for Ironmans and she knows I was doing the "vegan-thing." Perhaps she had specific questions about that.

Still though...Now, I have to wonder for the next two days.

"Am I dying?"

"Did my cholesterol go up?"

"Is she disappointed with the results?"

"Am I going to be a poster child for healthy eating?"

"Should I be on statin drugs?"

"Can I have pizza? Sushi? A Big Fat Steak?

"Has all of this been worth it?"

Maybe they were so good that they want me to be a spokesperson for the vegan cause (ha ha)

Ugh...Time to play the waiting game! I'll let you know Monday morning! Fingers are crossed!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sending More Troops

It was all over the news last night that we may be in danger of losing the war in Afghanistan if President Obama doesn't send more troops. The conditions are deteriorating. (quick shout out to OSU friend Leslie who just said goodbye to her husband Grant for a year as he is one of those brave soldiers who fights on our behalf). How did it get this far? How have most of us become so oblivious? Yesterday, I had my own realization while visiting the doctor about my on-going hip problem. It's becoming time for me to "send more troops" as I'm discovering that my conditions are also deteriorating quickly.

Oh, I've fought and won many battles this year including personal records in the Half-Marathon distance, Half-Ironman distance and even the Ironman distance. Unfortunately, even though I won those hard-fought battles of pride and athleticism, realization is sinking in that I'm currently losing my own measly war.

For the past year, my little nuisance of random leg numbness has now turned into a constant burn, tightness and sometimes "catching" of the hip joint in the socket. The pain used to dissipate immediately after a session. Now, it's a dull pain I live with constantly. Plus, the pain points continue to change--lower back, outer hip, IT band, groin. I'll have a great day and think I'm getting better so then I'll follow that up with 3 days of cycling and one day of running, which renders me useless for the next several days. I lamented to the doctor that I'm beginning to sound like a 90-year-old woman. We both chuckled, but it's true. How can this be happening?!

We briefly discussed my own battle plans at this point. I'm sad to say that I have to shut it down for a while-almost completely. Some light swimming is ok (where tolerable) as is some yoga and core that doesn't involve hopping, jumping, squatting, etc. The main purpose is to try to get rid of some of the inflammation that is now keeping me up at night. The anti-inflammatories work well, but they are not solving the problem.

Beyond that, I'm going to try some airrosti body treatments--similar to ART, which will hopefully loosen some of the crap in my hamstring, glute, etc. In the meantime, I also begin researching and interviewing orthopaedic surgeons. This war won't be a quick one unfortunately. Surgery is still my final option, but an option to consider nonetheless. It's another battle tactic in my own little war with my body.

This blog won't turn into a pity party or an information website about hip labral tears. Those types of websites already exist and I'm certainly no resource for this type of information. I just know what I'm going through currently and will share my thoughts and feelings as I make these upcoming decisions. The last two days, frankly, have been pretty crappy, but they are nothing in comparison to the real battles that some people face.

Ironically, I heard a quote last night that life is full of "little surrenders" to achieve success. You have to give things up in order to ultimately succeed. Surrender of any kind is a tough pill to swallow, but if it gets me in a better place in the long run, I'll wave that temporary white flag.

But know this...more troops are on the way. I may be losing this battle right now, but I will not lose this war.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dirty White Girl

Remember that game you would play when you would identify your "porno name" as the name of your first pet followed by the street you grew up on? Well, friends, I do have the mother of all porn names. My award winning porno name is COCOA CUMMINGTON! (for real)
And now....Cocoa Cummington is "coming" to to a Vegas Showroom near you!

I don't drive a windowless white van, live in the remote woods of Montana, or hang out near school playgrounds (although I do live across the street from one), BUT I do have a bit of a fetish. Like most people who ride bikes or even look at bikes, there is a fascination with the gears, the parts, the colors, the weight, the set-up, etc. I'm addicted to bike porn. What better way to indulge in this "fantasy," than by attending the annual Interbike Trade Show!

Thanks to the chiding of my friend Erin, I'm hopping on a plane with her next Wednesday night to attend the biggest Bike Porn fantasy festival in the world! Also like most people, I don't really understand the technical aspects of every bike and the seat angle that is supposed to maximize my propulsion. (it even sounds sexy saying that!) I do, however, love the atmosphere of a bunch of athletic geeks like myself who will also be drooling over the 2010 models of their favorite bikes... Over 1200 booths fulls of bikes, gear, nutrition, apparel, etc. await! Basically, we're all a bunch of perverts, right??

My dear friend Erin owns this cool little (soon to be huge) company called Grease Monkey Wipes and I'll be hanging with her because she's awesome...and very persuasive.

So, if you see me wandering around with a strange look in my eye, it's probably because I want to hop on a new bike and do a little of this:

Guys, Give it up for Cocoa Cummington on Stage 1!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Media Maven Has Struck Again!

Does anyone get the Universal Sports network through their satellite or cable provider? Unfortunately, our friends at Time Warner Cable have not made this channel available in Austin and they had an hour-long recap on this year's Ford Ironman Coeur D'Alene (that hubster and I completed with miles of smiles).

I've been told now by two people that I make a cameo crossing the Finish Line. Who?? Me?? Seeking out camera attention?? However could that be?? Actually, usually I am the one looking for the cameras, but in this case, I was clueless--probably because after 11 hrs and 46 minutes, the last thing I wanted to do was flash my pearly whites for a national TV crew. Oh, who am I kidding?! If I would've known there was a camera, I would've hammed it up even more than this:

In any event, Universal Sports is rebroadcasting the special THIS SUNDAY, September 20th at 3pm Eastern/2pm Central. If anyone has the capability of recording it and burning it to a DVD or, God forbid, a VHS tape, I would be eternally grateful. I'm really anxious to view my 15 minutes...err...15 seconds of fame on National TV (or the 300 people that actually get the Universal Sports Network).


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Calling in favors...anyone have access to an attendee badge next week at Interbike?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Keeping Disappointments in Perspective

Well, they did it again. My beloved Ohio State Buckeyes blew another big game and lost to USC last weekend! Sadly, it's becoming a recurring theme with this team. I like to refer to the Buckeyes as my "problem child." No matter how much they hurt and disappoint me, I still love them. However, hubster and I agreed to show them a little tough love. We swear, we're never going to a "big game" again! (until the next one, I'm sure).

While it felt like a total sucker punch to the gut, we definitely put this stupid sport of college football in perspective. We had an amazing time in Columbus and, for once, we weren't there in the dead of winter freezing our booties off! The weather was absolutely phenomenal--such a false tease for the other six months of the year! While it was pouring rain in Austin, we were sitting outside on patios actually enjoying the sun and a mild breeze. We saw friends and family and we were able to actually the exercise outdoors without dying of heat exhaustion. Shawn had a great 16 mile marathon goal pace run and I--well--I put one foot in front of the other.

There's no doubt about it. Life is full of disappointments--whether it's an injured hip or a devastating football loss. However, as always, the good times and the love and support of others always prevail. I just need to pick another college football team.

We went to visit our friend's Bob and Tracy. Gee-I wonder how we knew which house was theirs?!

We've been married over two years, but my Mom has kept the top of our wedding cake in her freezer since May 26, 2007. We decided to cut into it and it was tasty!!

It wouldn't be "home" if I wasn't hanging with my Greasy Wop Italian cousins spelling out the infamous O-H-I-O while tailgating before the game. Even Tony Soprano would be proud. I know our late Grandma Sergio is!

How can I be disappointed with a long weekend like that?!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

So, Like, What Do You Do Now?

My last triathlon of the season is in the can and I'm happy to know it was a decent effort. I kept calling it my "parade race," one that I would relish and enjoy. Trust me, I did enjoy this race, but I also grimaced my way through it and worked hard as hell for 2 hrs 37 min!

1500m Swim: 32:41 That's with no wetsuit since they weren't legal. Two years ago, I swam it in 34:something WITH my wetsuit...making progress slowly but surely in the swim. I was 17th out of 53 in my age group on the swim. Again, I used to consistently be in the bottom 10%. Progress, Patience, and Consistency...

T1: 3:47 apparently I was getting my nails done! Actually, it was an abnormally long run to the run out through sand and then through half a parking lot before we could mount the bikes! My HR was redlining in transition!

40K Bike: 1:12:57 or 20.4 mph...I'll take it even though I was secretly hoping for 21+mph. I also was trying to keep something in the tank for the run. 9th out of 53 in my age group on bike.

T2: 2:08...again, it was a long run through the sand back to my bike rack, but I was taking my sweet time with my shoes.

10K run: 46:08 or 7:26 overall pace. Good enough for 6th in my age group. A couple of observations. My hip was toast going into the second loop. Basically hanging on towards the end. Part of the course was on uneven grass and I was being a bit more cautious. Two years ago, I averaged 7:02 for the 10K!! The course was all on roads as I recall. Plus, my bike and swim were both slower. Oh yeah, and my hip wasn't torn :-) Still, though, I'm very proud of that pace given the fact that I've done ZERO speed work in four months. Literally...

I'm also proud of my brother-in-law who flew in from CA to do his first-ever triathlon! He didn't even bother with a sprint distance and just kicked his new "career" off at the Olympic distance level. He reminded me so much of all of the reasons why I love this sport...

Fear...learning how transition works
Upset tummy on race morning...always bring your own roll of TP
Swim Anxiety...trying to silence the evil voice that says you shouldn't be out there
Exhilaration...I finished the swim!! Time to ride my bike!
Childish...There's nothing more fun than riding your bike fast and the Austin Tri course is perfect for doing just that.
Pain...I have to do another loop???
Heat...doing a race in the mid-90s is priceless
Determination...hearing people calling your name as you run by
The Last Turn...How awesome is the feeling of running down Riverside and making that turn to the Finisher's chute?!

We were all exhausted, but had such great stories to share with my in-laws who came up to watch both of their sons (and their wacky daughter-in-law) compete. Brett was sore and exhausted the next day, but was already looking up races and talking about stepping up his training schedule. Did I mention that the three of us are already signed up for Oceanside 70.3 in March 2010?!?

The Austin Triathlon marked my last major race of the year that included a couple of Half-Ironmans, a Marathon, and a little Ironman thrown in as well. Because of my hip pain, I officially withdrew from the USAT Half-Maxx race in Oklahoma City and chances are slim that I'll be running the California International Marathon in December. My goal now is to recover, heal and stick with some short stuff until the end of the year...easy on the mileage and on the joints.

As for the hip, still plenty of unknowns...I still managed to average a great 7:26 pace for the 10K portion of the race, but not without my usual "locking up" and "dead leg" sensation. I did have to walk for about 10 sec at one point just to get the right hip to calm down. People have asked a ton of questions and have expressed so much care and concern. For that, I'm grateful....truly blessed. At this point, I'm proceeding with conservative care and and am on prescription anti-inflammatories. That certainly helps with the pain and irritation, but it doesn't ultimately fix the problem. A cartilage tear is still torn and won't heal itself. A few friends have mentioned alternative therapies including airrosti that I'll be exploring over the next few weeks. I also received several good stretches and exercises to build strength in my glue and hips. In the meantime, it's lots of yoga, massage, swimming, resistance, core and some short bike rides (god bless the Computrainer)!

2009 is in the bag and I couldn't be happier. Thanks to T3 and Erin Baker's Wholesome Baked Goods for getting me to the start and finish lines! Thanks to hubster for existing in real life. I wake up everyday thinking that he MUST be a figment of my imagination. Nope...he's the real deal.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Like Quasimodo in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," I'll be dragging my lame ass around the Austin Triathlon course on Monday morning! Sadly, I'm beginning to see the resemblance...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tri to Be a Weirdo Vegan

What's your favorite?
What got you into this in the first place?
Do others have a problem with this?
How do you handle being around non-users?

Just a few of the questions I heard tonight at my first ever meet-up with www.veganaustin.org. Equal parts social group and support group, I officially joined the last week and attended my first outing tonight. Fortunately, it was at the all-new (and dangerously close to my house) Beets Cafe and I was actually able to ride my bike on over there in less than 10 minutes...Super sweet...

In many ways, we're freakish outcasts and kinda embrace that dorky role. Story of my freaking life...Kinda like being in the drama club in high school. We have "our thing" and it's nerdy and weird, but we kinda dig it. I'm still so new to this that when I tell people, "I'm vegan," I still feel like a total poser. I'm about 95% there after all. (However, I do think I lost my vegan card last week at Whole Foods when I was sporting my "Dairy Free Love" t-shirt while ordering gelato!) Yep--call me a big fat hypocrite. I can't help it. They had peanut butter gelato and I've never tasted anything better. So there--I'm not so hippy-trippy and birkenstocky after all.

The food at Beets was spectacular...Pizzas, burgers, fajitas, chalupas, smoothies, salads...all vegan and all raw living foods. Yeah--I know--it sounds about as yummy as roadkill (ironic) to most people. How can I have a pizza that isn't cooked?! God damn you people are weird...

I'm embracing my new-found weirdness. After all, isn't that what we're supposed to do in Austin? By being "weird," I'm actually trying to fit into the norm in this town.