All posts by Laura K

Spirit, heart and rhythm....

Priorities…250 days until the Ultra

End of Training Week 3 Jan 6. 250 days left to train for the Ultra.  Watching Youtube videos of people finishing the Killington Beast got me out of bed during my last trip to Phoenix and down to the gym out of fear.… people saying that they couldn’t imagine having to do double what they just did…I say there is no hard race, just bad training 🙂 and I remind myself that I do best in the long, grueling type of events.  My old friends didn’t call me S.A.D. “Self Abuse Director” for nothing!  Below is a “memo” I found from high school from my buddy Dave who would find me running alongside the road in sleet storms during High School…


Went back to work Wed Jan 2 and immediately had to organize logistics to fly to JFK and commission our part of a microgrid system Thurs and Friday.  I’ve got customers calling our CEO about impact to the larger project.  The cover picture shows two of our battery systems on top of the future TWA hotel at Terminal 5, JFK airport. Nowhere else I’d rather be on a cold night at midnight than testing and looking at oscilloscopes!  (this is really true – it is fun and I love my job)

img_2681 img_2648

Last time I was down there on the Turner construction site, I got in trouble for not having my OSHA 10 so I spent 6 hours on Jan 1 doing the training, 5 hours Jan 2 and another 2 Jan 3 before passing my test 30 minutes before getting on the airplane!  Admittedly, I could have done a better job doing that over the holiday break.  I had a fantastic break through – just back from 3 weeks on the road and loving every minute of being at home with Kenny and his family.

So, I missed 3 days of my training because of this.  I also had brought all my lunch meals for the two days and got screwed up leaving them in the construction trailer and while on the job site roof, they bought food around 10pm for everyone and I ate a chicken parm sub – definitely NOT in my nutrition plan.  TOTAL FAIL.

The truth is I could not have worked harder though and work was the right call this time.

I am determined to breakthrough this maintenance phase I’ve been in since June and make some real progress in getting leaner and stronger.  Here are my STARTING Pics from this morning.  If I don’t start losing fat, I am dropping macros next week:

Comparison from over a month ago below – I have gotten way stronger arms (as viewed from the front anyway) since I’ve been able to lift more but not much different.

For now, I’m back on track with workout done today, food prepped for the week and a plan to help with my back issues.  I HAVE TO FIX MY LOWER BACK SORENESS!  I made a posterior chain workout routine and had my physical therapist take a look/comment on it.  I’m working it and hoping to make some progress…It’s still hard to put on my socks every morning!


Clean eating, honest reporting and en route to badass and an ultra finish,




The gear you need…and then comes the work

The following is a summary of the gear necessary (so far) for my ultra training and for managing nutrition:

Clothes – Running, Cycling, Crossfit

  • Bike shorts – I am biking in week 3 and my bottom still hurts!  My athletic girlfriend says use triathlon shorts and do not wear underwear….
  • Compression tights – I am a fan of Athleta and having tights with an easily accessible pocket to pull your phone in and out of during runs (NOT the zippers).  If you get tights going just below knee, make sure the lowest band is 2″ wide or it can cut into your leg/back of your knee.  If under 25F, I’ll wear my pair with fleece inside else these are good for normal winter days in New England.
  • A good sports bra – nothing moves in this thing!  I get this “Anita” bra – no underwire WHICH WILL CHAFE AND HURT YOU! at Copley Mall at a store called Rigby and Peller.  If you have underwire, use body butter or something or you will get a burn eventually.
  • I’ll wear cotton shirts for crossfit workouts but if running or hiking, I’ll wear wicking shirts.  I’ve found that one long sleeved shirt plus one medium weight fleece is all you need down to 10F with hat and gloves.
  • I’m in love with smartwool shirts although they have to be the lightest weight to wear to crossfit and you don’t want to get too hot running.
  • I don’t wear gloves unless its below 32F.
  • Good socks – I love Thorlos and also just bought some smartwool and balega socks to try out.  Thorlos have the most cushion so are good for walking around the house and seem to be the least tight as well.
  • Shoes – I like minimalist shoes and use innov8


Running Gear

  • Night visibility equipment:  hand torch with front and rear lights, clip on lights (my favorite are the smiley faces), a high vis vest I also wear in the daytime on every run, a light “harness” which blinks and changes colors, headlamp.
  • For tracking of heart rate, running foot cadence (pace in foot strikes/minute) I am using a Wahoo TICKR chest heart rate monitor that feeds data to a Wahoo Runfit App.  Results for Runt app in first pic and results for fitbit in next three.  RUNFIT is better because fitbit heart rate doesn’t seem accurate once it is high.  The results below are for the same run –

HR issue:  RUNFIT says avg HR 127 with max 154, FITBIT says avg 145 with max 164.

RUNFIT also gives you minutes/mile by mile, cadence and a map of your run. I LOVE that RUNFIT will talk to me and tell me every time I hit a mile and my HR and last mile time in additional to overall time.

FITBIT has a better map showing each mile point.

The problem with using your phone GPS (either with Fitbit or Runfit) is that it runs the battery down fast – I have an iphone and before a 70 min run today, it was at 60% and barely lasted the run.  This will be what forces me to switch over to a Garmin device with longer battery life when workouts get longer!



Cycling Gear

  • You don’t need this specific trainer but I got a KICKR Core Smart trainer that I bought with the appropriate cassette (rear gears) for my bike.
  • My Specialized Ruby bike (without rear tire)
  • Application I use to do runs and be with other humans vs. alone in my basement is Zwift.
  • Using the Zwift application on my phone, I mirror results to the tv through Apple tv.
  • The Zwift phone app (or on your computer) will find any sensors you are using and your smart trainer.
  • Wahoo TICKR heart rate monitor- if it isn’t picking up your heart rate, move the sensor down on your body.  My bra was blocking it for awhile before I figured this out.
  • Wahoo cadence sensor (for pedal turns/minute).  The RPM shown in the application without this sensor is not your pedal turns.
  • Sweat Towel
  • Extension Cord to charge your phone and a phone holder to put onto the bicycle handlebars

Overall Setup (we also have a Concept2 Rower):


From the left, a Wahoo cadence sensor (this is one piece only, no mating piece needed to determine cadence), iphone charger and handlebar holder, appletv, wahoo TICKR heart rate monitor.


Other miscellaneous Gear

  • A good journal is indispensable – there doesn’t seem to be one answer to recording all that you do…cycling is in wahoo app (which uploads to strava), crossfit is nowhere I like, running is runfit (which uploads to Strava).  I use a journal to document things I am learning and all I do day to day along with my wall calendar for high level.
  • Jump rope for warmups
  • Fitibit Charge to stay connected with my family – we have weekly step challenges I love plus I was using it for running when I just cared about distance and mile pace which it does a great job at.  Fitbit also give you cool, uplifting messages in the morning when you put it back on after a shower!  It is NOT waterproof
  • A weight bench, 45 lb bar when I have to do a strength or crossfit type workout at home
  • Pullup bars upstairs on a bedroom door
  • Ring rows next to the weight bench


  • Last but not least, a good bed!  We just spent a ridiculous amount on a Sleep Number bed with adjustable base so we can go into zero gravity position.  Got it yesterday and you can see us with cat below trying it out.  Sleep Number can have adjustable hardness by side.  We returned a Tempurpedic memory foam mattress we had just gotten.  A good night sleep is so important!


Meal planning stuff


  • Food scale and for travel, a portable food scale and collapsible measuring cup
  • Protein powder and shaker bottle with ball or something to help powder mix (i do it with just water)
  • LEAK PROOF containers – I use Six Pack Fitness Containers shown above
  • Good olive oil – I recommend my neighbors’ who imports it (and I know good olive oil from living in Italy) – Johnny Madge
  • Bathroom scale


Hope this helps as I’ve been struggling to accumulate all this stuff over the last year!


and BTW unrelated to OCR, but this is the best camp chair ever that is foldable and super lightweight:


There are no excuses – no hurt shoulder – no lack of equipment – it is just me and the 250 days until the race…


Taking the Shoulder out for a Spin!


Rotator cuff shoulder surgery was June 11, 2018 and I got my final surgeon’s clearance on Dec 7.  It is healed but not at full strength.

Well, it has been an exciting few days as I have achieved quite a few firsts since shoulder surgery doing the strength workouts – goal is to increase weight slowly then if no shoulder pain, increase again.  The mental issue is that there is no prescribed way to go from not doing these to knowing when you can do them and how much weight to use post surgery.  I decided to take the shoulder out for a spin!  I never know if I’m being smart or wimpy with what I do (or don’t do)…. Huge results this week:

  • First time doing Back squat with weights – did 105#, 10 reps (a little challenging)
  • First time doing Wallballs – 150 total with 8# ball.  Very excited about this! Favored right arm a little on catch and push up.
  • Increased Bench press – 75# (easy)
  • First time doing Dead hangs with full weight (no scap pullups yet) – 30 reps.  Needs a good warmup to settle in with partial weight at first – hard to make it comfortable but did it.  Hung from the bar for 2.25 minutes.
  • First time 25# kettlebells 3×12 reps.  Note that early Dec I tried lighter KBs and stopped because I could feel a twinge in the shoulder and now nothing!  What a difference a few weeks makes. patience (not my strong point)

Also, the pose running method started to make more physical sense as I change from a heel striker to a foot ball then heel kiss kind of gal.  I could actually easily do the ball/heel sequence best while running leaning against a wall – this was great as I know what it’s supposed to feel like now.  I also realized that you have to pick up your knees (do proper pose form) to make it work.  Loved that I had a running routine focused on just practicing this (and the sore calves to prove it!!).

Since I’ve been running, I’ve also had some pretty bad lower back soreness (causing me to dread putting on socks in the morning as it’s so stiff) and despite doing a long list of posterior chain mobility, it took this video below to fix it in 5 minutes!!  I’ll be doing all of these daily from now on as well as continuing my other mobility work.  I was working these two painful areas with a lacrosse ball earlier to no avail (as he states in the video!).


It’s also been fun to put myself in different gears for once – for a long time I just run with one speed (and OK, get gassed out during the shuttle runs we do sometimes in crossfit) and my new coach and workouts have me varying pace with heart rate.  Two examples below.  First is when I run pretty easy, then do a few accels.  Second was my pose running practice starting at a lower HR and then moving into a higher one for the end of the run.



I am also back into my strict nutrition plan using the RP templates.  Treating almost all days as light days for now as I try to cut back a little. Have been stagnating at ~140 lbs for a while now.  This picture on my fridge is helping me make the right nutrition decisions….I ate perfectly for 7 months and have been struggling being super strict the last few months but think I am back now.


Meditation:  I’ve been reading this book and starting to practice for 10-20″ a day.

real happiness.jpg

  • First time I was scattered and all over the place – 10 min was very hard.
  • Second time 10″ was a snap and went by quickly with a good idea that came to me
  • Tried 20″ which was difficult and ended up the last 3 min under a blanket by the fire but did the 20″.

Loved the quietness though and sitting in front of my crackleflame log (which Kenny says doesn’t belong in the state of NH).

Following the rules:  This my thing.  I’ve always been good at studying and doing the work.  I was not a good student this week –

  • missed the Monday workout because it was changed from a rest day to a work day and I didn’t read the updated schedule carefully enough.
  • Did the wrong strength workout (turns out the Monday one) a different day so am doing a makeup of the Wednesday one on Saturday.
  • Thought the 10 x 1′ on 1′ off intervals meant 10″ of them not 10 reps so I ended up doing the last 3 on the bike as I wasn’t going back out in the cold rain again.  The cover of this blog is me after the run workout with all my lights, running on icy roads in the cold, cold rain.

Having the time of my life 🙂  Dark night, icy road, cold rain – bring it on!


Clean eating, honest reporting and en route to badass,


Perils of Technology and Cadence vs. Heart Rate – Dec 23, 2018

My first official week of training is complete.  Right in the middle of it I got a really bad cold so was out for 3 days sleeping – trying to convince my coach I am not a slacker…. after the Run and Bike tests, I got a first pass at my target heart rate zones and spent the last two days trying to train in the lower part of the zones.  I totally get it, most people go all out all the time and overtrain so Z2 will seem lower than I think/lower than I normally run or bike.


Endurance Training Zone

Metabolic Training Purposes

per Zone

Perceived Exertion

per Zone


per Zone


Heart Rates

per Zone

Zone 1 (Z1) Recovery, Warm-up, & Cool-down Very light; you feel like you are doing nothing < 61% < 93
Zone 2 (Z2) Extensive Aerobic Endurance Training Comfortable; you feel like you could go all day 61-70% 94-106
Zone 3 (Z3) Intensive Aerobic Endurance Training Manageable; you feel you are working, but you feel no pain 71-80% 107-121
Zone 4 (Z4)

Anaerobic Threshold Endurance Training

Hard; you feel burning in your muscles and chest 81-90% 122-143
Zone 5 (Z5) Lactate Tolerance Endurance Training Very hard; you are in pain and want to stop > 90% > 144


Endurance Training Zone Metabolic Training Purposes

per Zone

Perceived Exertion

per Zone


per Zone


Heart Rates

per Zone

Zone 1 (Z1) Recovery, Warm-up, & Cool-down Very light; you feel like you are doing nothing < 61% < 103
Zone 2 (Z2) Extensive Aerobic Endurance Training Comfortable; you feel like you could go all day 61-70% 104-118
Zone 3 (Z3) Intensive Aerobic Endurance Training Manageable; you feel you are working, but you feel no pain 71-80% 119-135
Zone 4 (Z4)

Anaerobic Threshold Endurance Training

Hard; you feel burning in your muscles and chest 81-90% 136-150
Zone 5 (Z5) Lactate Tolerance Endurance Training Very hard; you are in pain and want to stop > 90% > 151

This is how I did:

Bike – supposed to do an hour in Z2 ~100 bpm at a 90 cadence (right foot) with a few accels into Z3 ~115.  I used Zwift and a NYC course which had some unexpected steep hills so had to change midway through…


HR = 114 avg (vs. target 100 bpm) and I did manage to keep it ~100 for some of the time.  But it had to be so easy that sometimes my w/kg (level of effort on bike) was so low the app thought I had stopped!  I don’t have a good cadence monitor for bike yet but we did metronome for a bit and I was way slower than 90 with right foot.

Run – this felt way further off despite a serious attempt to run slow.  Mind you, I had just watched a youtube video where a trainer who was explaining pose method was making fun of crossfit folks who did their runs in the middle of a metcon almost shuffling out the door.  I really struggled keeping my form OK (knees higher, cadence 180) and my heart rate low.


Avg HR/bpm = avg 123 with max 158. (vs target 104-118/151).  Note fitbit avg = 145, max 167

Cadence per TICKRx 153-157 (vs. target 180).  During accels I was at 180.

Also, runfit app didn’t seem to display right so I eventually gave up and just tried to run slow and relaxed to see what happened in the end.

Conclusions/Lessons Learned:  I need to learn how to run/ride easy and how to use this technology !

Official Training Day 1: Run Test

Dec 17, 2018 Official start of training for the Spartan Killington Ultra Sat Sept 14!!

Food: Following RP template base, this was a light day

Workout:  Run test (pic above after) per my coach

Completed 3.2 miles in the dark with my hand torch and smiley lights:


Gear:  Used new TICKRx heart rate monitor using Wahoo Runfit App.  I did an experiment of data from Fitbit vs. TICKRx and here’s how it compares. In summary Fitbit is about 10 BPM slower than TICKRx and does not provide cadence data:

Fitbit used with Fitbit app
(started first, shutoff last)
TICKRx used with Wahoo Runfit App
Mile splits 9:43 mile 1
9:25 mile 2
9:08 mile 3
Avg pace/mile 9:22 9:12
Heart rate avg/max 147/160 157/169
Dist 3.18 3.22
Total time 29:50:00 29:39:00
Cadence no data 155 SPM
How I felt Great although slugging down 20g protein powder in vita-coco made me feel a little queasy!

I also have both uploading to Strava so wanted to see what happened.  Only the fitbit uploaded for now…..

AAARGH!  I was trying to see if I could break the 9:00 min mile barrier and did a mile in 9:00…..I did mile 2 and because the runfit app talks to me each mile with my pace (finally!  have been trying to have fitbit do that for months) and heard mile 2 was 9:21 so really tried to pick it up.  My fastest time before this for a mile was 8:54 and had 9:07 at the end of six miles around Sept.

I am always scared.  Was scared before I did this – don’t know why as worst that could happen is I go out too hard and die, which would be a lesson learned based on what pace I was at.  I’ve done this distance a ton of times.  Ben Bergeron classifies fear as being a fear for your life/safety (which despite being dark was not) or a fear of not belonging to the pack.  Since I am not really part of a running pack, not sure that these categories are accurate.  Maybe I’m just afraid of failure even if it is just me looking – and I firmly believe in the wise saying that Success (or courage) is moving from failure to failure with equal enthusiasm (quoted from Churchill, Lincoln?).  I liked Ben Bergerons statement about not worrying if you’re nervous before something as it just means your body is getting ready – that made me feel better last week when I had to speak at an energy conference!

I got my first indoor trainer a week ago, the KICKr CORE and have it and our rowing machine setup downstairs with TV so that I can use the Zwift racing app.  I have no idea what the parts of a bike are called how to change a tire, patch a tire and am still confused on the gearing.  I did a 20 mile Zwift ride through London and got stuck on a hill trying to figure out how to lower the gear….need a cheat sheet for left vs. right gears and top/bottom levers on each side.   Took us a few hours to get it assembled and setup with Zwift, and then more time to see how to upload to Strava.

My butt is killing me today.  I need something to hold my phone on my bicycle handlebars and need to try to sync the cadence tomorrow during the bike trial as I believe the TICKERx will get that data vs. buying a cadence sensor.


Here’s to day 1 in the books and a little stretching/yoga to follow!

Clean eating, honest reporting and en route to badass,


Shoutout to the BHE: Best Husband Ever

Kenny Donahue has listened to me every morning for the past year as I weigh myself and make a few comments in the morning, as I put on my fitbit and read out loud the little motivational message it gives, as I catcall him every morning while he’s in the shower, as I tell him every day I am so happy I am back to normal and puts up with me coming home after 8pm because I’m working out after work and have a two hour round trip commute, eating a limited set of food (much of which he doesn’t eat so we are cooking separately a lot), having patience while I’ve done physical therapy every night rolling around in the living room, helping me weigh and cooking me food per my plan being supportive, and being so self confident while I surround myself with a set of jacked men as my support team 🙂

My handsome, sweet, funny, smart, gentle man – thanks babe!



StrongerU vs RP Templates and The Domino Effect

fire and fuel

I made a presentation for a lunchtime learning at work called “Fire and Fuel” attached.  I didn’t geek out on details of macros in that but will here.

StrongerU philosophy is simple foods, follow your assigned macros (grams of carbs, fat, proteins per day eating whenever and whatever you want as long as you get within 5 g of the targets).  You have to log everything (I use myfitnesspal), report in weekly to your coach with your sleep, how you feel, what macros you ate every day, weight daily (used to calculate avg weekly weight and compare to week before), and bust/waist/hip measurements periodically.  Coach will adjust you or advise you based on your progress.  Lessons learned after doing this for a year:

A few reflections and The Domino Effect after deciding to lose weight – all kinds of other good things started happening:
  • I think this shoulder surgery will result in me being better than I ever was before (especially with mobility) as I also have my physical therapist as part of my team who will help me with more than just getting my full range of motion (95% back) and shoulder related strength back (next gate to pass before being able to lift heavier weights in Dec).
  •  I am also tracking workouts and splits – I pretty much PR every week which is easy to do starting from where I am!  My running is getting better all the time and actually fun again – has been a while!  Losing 45 pounds can do that
  • Details of when to/how often to eat in general don’t matter – total calories is most important for weight lost
  • Must track macros.  Without the data and consistency, it’s a waste of time.
  • Food is way more important than working out to losing weight – that’s why I was so confused when I started after seeing little progress after a year of crossfit
  • Food management helped me recover way faster – an incredible amount faster actually.  I used to get destroyed at XFit and hope to go 5x a week without issues now.
  • I was overeating thinking I had to eat more while working out and found out I recovered better and it didn’t matter when I cut back
  • Blaming weight gain on middle age metabolism is B.S.
  • Got a fitbit to track activity.  LOVE LOVE LOVE my fitbit to understand activity levels and found comraderie because my family and I challenge every week for the most steps thru the app.  Best feature I didn’t realize I needed was sleep tracking.  I don’t get enough – need to work this still.
  • Power of habit – being active daily vs. setting a target of 3-4x a week (which is easy to postpone).  Got this idea stuck in my thru a Ben Bergeron Chasing Excellence Podcast – a series I love and you should check out
  • I have a lot to learn
  • I feel like I am back to where I was back in 1998 (please tell me you were born then!) when I was in great shape.  Although I think I’m actually better than that now(!!) once I gain back the strength after shoulder surgery – have run further and probably lifted way more thru crossfit than I did then.  There will be no more “I used to” – being able to NOT say that was my main goal.  I have survived middle life and stepmotherhood and come out better on the other side (well, I’m still in middle life 🙂
  • I can’t keep crap in the house or I’ll eat it and if I cheat, I cheat too much so expect to be strict or off; however, my “way off” isn’t really that far off these days.  You can see Monday where I meant to eat one of the belgian chocolates I brought back and ate like 5 instead.  I’ve learned occassional celebrations, etc won’t matter but to make it an exception vs. every day
  • Consistency in workouts and nutrition will get you to badass.  Funny as  I also heard it since then from other sources (ie. great podcast on Tim Ferriss how where he interviews Ryan Flaherty – who coaches folks like Serena Williams and works for Nike now)  (You would like this and it gets pretty technical – I had to look a bunch of stuff up – he ties deadlifts to speed).  Ryan was saying your body will adapt to the stresses based on the shape it is in – so I just need to keep running and doing crossfit while maintaining good nutrition and I will look better.  I am on it and committed.
  • Learning it is OK to be a little hungry – that is like a revelation.
  • It rubs off – some folks I work with are inspired and making changes to their lives as well.  I started a series called “Profiles in Awesomeness” and am interviewing/putting out articles on folks who made changes, why, etc and started a work movement called “Get moving” to help inspire/help others who want to be more active.  We plan to do company races and build community thru that.

RP templates – You put in data, pay ~$100 and download them.  Basic philosophy is also macros but broken up by meal and also with modified macros based on if you have a rest day, light /moderate/hard workout day (ie. more carbs for harder workout days).  Eye opener is that crossfit is considered a light day!

During the weight loss phase, I was at around 1515 calories.  Using the Inbody scan results I got last week, I need 1475 calories/day just to maintain my basic metabolic functions and I am at 24% body fat.  Test results shown below:

weight chart 9-1-18InBody Scan - Nov 14 2018

When I downloaded RP templates, comparison of assigned macros to my last StrongerU macros in grams attached… this explains why it feels I am losing weight again!

StrongerU REST RP Light RP Mod RP Heavy
carb 150 120 125 200 230
fat 60 55 55 55 55
protein 125 125 120 120 120
total calories 1640 1475 1475 1775 1895

It took all last week to get used to the RP templates because of the following:

  • Breaking up my carbs better by meal included changing my breakfast!  this is huge!  I have been an oatmeal, milk, berry, maple syrup breakfast person forever.  Now on light days I am eating egg white omelets with tomatoes/spinach and something I LOVE – wheat toast with butter and a little raspberry jam.
  • Love two meals between breakfast and dinner as I had been scrapping by with an Rx bar – with my long commute, I often don’t eat until 8pm and it is a long time between noon and 8!
  • Changed my pre/post workout so am now slugging a scoop of protein in coconut water instead of an Rx bar.
  • Toast and protein before bread is new but fun as I love the toast.
  • RP meals have a “handful of veggies” per meal excluding peas/corn/corn which count towards carbs – this is a change but easy to do.  My lunch used to be a frozen mix of veg and now I am more selective in what I’m including and adding vegetables to breakfast.

What I don’t like with RP:  lack of fidelity around total grams/day so it is harder to meet the exact numbers (which I know are always an approximation anyway) and tracking of different macros/day makes it harder to program into myfitnesspal.  It also requires knowledge of the following week and a commitment to do what you say every day so you eat all the meals appropriately.  Not a bad thing if you want to have good habits!

Clean eating, honest reporting and en route to badass,