Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Barre3 28 to Great Challenge

Well, we are about halfway through the 28 to Great Barre3 challenge.  I don't have any nifty codes to share like other people who blog, but I can say this about it:

Man, it's tough.  I'm working on so much right, and the extra challenge of workouts... yike!  But it's been good.  Barre3 is all about working it into your overall life, and it's big on 10 minute breakdowns.  10 minutes here, 10 minutes there.  It's all good.  I'm definitely noticing increases in my core already.  I've been really pushing myself to the edge in those 10 minutes, even if it's all the core work I get in a day.

I am also noticing, as I work on planks, that part of my trouble is that I tend to sag into my shoulders. If I push myself to support myself with my shoulders and to lift myself up, it doesn't hurt my wrists nearly as much.  Yes, I think I'm always going to have some wrist pain in pushup position (because I always have!), but this is making it a lot less.

I've nailed down about 4 workouts a week, instead of the 6 I'm supposed to do.  But hey, given all the chaos, and the fact that I have been netting 10,000-18,000 steps a day in DC and surrounding areas checking on housing options... I'll take it with grace.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Allergy Testing

Today, I had a doctor's appointment.  I've been seeing this doc for about a year now.  She was the one who confirmed that I still had e.Coli when I arrived here last year (the bad e.Coli, not the good stuff that my body was supposed to have), and who has been working with me to use as many natural methods as possible to heal everything that got broken.

By this point in time, I'm feeling tons stronger.  Basically, after a year of chaos and tests and meds and healing, everything is finally pretty much normal... except that I am still very strictly avoiding dairy.

So she had said for a long time that if I got the point where everything else had stabilized and healed, she'd re-do the bloodwork to see if this dairy thing I am facing is a true allergy or just an intolerance.

Because, thanks to genetics, my people are prone to lactose intolerance.  The working theory is that I was probably lactose intolerant without realizing what it was.

What if this whole thing has NOT been a true allergy, but just an over-reacting sick body trying desperately to manage the bad bugs in its gut?  What if, now that that has healed and all the damage that was done seems to be healed, what if now, it's just an intolerance after all?

You know what that means?

It means if I get clear tests back, I can start doing lactose challenges to build up a little bit of tolerance.  We think I might not ever get back what I had as a kid- but no one ever does.  Most people become somewhat lactose intolerant anyway as they age.  But I might regain the ability to eat a little dairy again.  If I could never eat another regular pizza, but I could have a kiddie cone from Carl's in Fredericksburg, I'll take it!

I should know within a week!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Moving... again.

Here we are again.  In one freakin' month, we will have to move AGAIN.  

Let me clarify that this isn't exactly my happy choice!  When we moved in, I'd been under the impression that month to month renting (in the event my contract was extended) would be an option for us.  

Then a month ago, less than 48 hours before our "60 day notice" was due, we got the renewal rates.  A 10% raise in rent with a 2 year lease was one option.  (Um, no.)  Or an over 100% raise for a month to month rate!  Seriously, our rent would have DOUBLED for four months.  Oh, hella no.  

First off, we know already that we don't want to live in Tysons long term.  We feel cooped up, surrounded by plastic and chain stores.  In order to do most of our activities, it's a 20 minute ride to the first access point on the W&OD, or a 40 minute metro ride to the city, or a long car ride.  I feel like we waste hours just transporting ourselves from point A to point B.  We did the math, and between car costs and metro costs, we could afford to pay $500 a month more in the District in rent and utilities, and still break even.  M even suggested we consider selling the car.  (I maintain it's ok to keep ONE car.  I just want to pay it off and drive our little paid-off car until the engine falls out and goes bouncing away down the street.)  

Second, all the stuff we DO is in the District.  

And third, DOUBLING the rent for month to month?  I mean, I've paid a little month to month premium before.  It's what you do when you know that things will be changing and that you shouldn't get into a year long lease.  But DOUBLING?  Nuht uh.  That's so not cool.  

But getting another lease right now?  Also not cool.  I'm in process to find my next call and I'm comfortable with where I am.  I have confidence that I'm likely to have another job secured by February, and I feel the Diocese wants that as well.  So I don't worry about ending up penniless.  In fact, I'm blessed that we have enough money right now that we COULD afford another lease right now.  But since I don't know precisely WHERE I'll be just yet, I don't want to get a place that might land us with an atrocious commute.  Or worse, in the wrong city.  

All we needed was just four more months to let things come to completion in God's time.  And I have confidence that things ar about to break open.  But in the meantime, here we are, seeking a four month long place to stay with two kitties.  SO irritated.  Really, SO irritated.  

With one month to go to find a place to live, I know it'll be ok.  But I'm frustrated by the impermanence and the transience.  I sort of knew this was a risk of the clergy life, and I knew this was a risk of the Interim life, and while I love interim work and how exciting it is, I don't love this stage of wondering what happens next.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I'm not a cat person... but...

Today, we take our little Origami cat to the vet to have his belly palpated.  By "little", I mean 15 pounds.  So he's sort of a big guy.

A few weeks ago, we noticed he was straining in his litter box, and then he started peeing on his little bed, which is NOT like him.  He was listless and stopped jumping up on the furniture.  When he was found lying underneath the couch and refusing to come out, we knew things were very wrong.

Off to the vet, where they diagnosed a urinary blockage and Origami spent three days being cathed and staying at the Chez de Vet.  He is back to normal now, and is eating special prescription food which (hopefully!) will dissolve the stones in his little kitty bladder.  He'll then switch to a different prescription food for the rest of his life, which will hopefully prevent stones from reforming.

Man, has this been an education.

I don't believe in doing extraordinary interventions on most animals.  Sure, surgery to repair a broken leg, or bladder stone surgery on a 2 year old if their life expectancy is going to be 15-18 years.  But bladder surgery on a 13 year old cat when it'll only give him 2-5 more years, and when the vet says the surgery will be pretty major on an old man like this?  Nuht uh.

Learning that Origami had a major illness that could kill him, and that might still kill him if this treatment doesn't work, and that surgical options are not wonderful... I was startled at how much that scared me.

Sure, I say I don't like cats.  I don't appreciate their hair.  The purring constantly is a little odd.  The way that Snowbeast wakes me up at night by petting my face is just creepy.  And when they walk around talking to me with their little meows, I just don't understand.

But I did learn that I really do like THESE cats.  It was so awful to talk with M about when we stop interventions and at what stage we'd decide to let Origami go if he wasn't healing. I don't like knowing that my kitty is hurting.

And now that he's home, I can rub his little head and see how much grey has crept into his fur, and I can struggle to convince them that the all-wet-food diet they've been switched to is really the best for them.  I can wonder how anyone could ever give up their senior animal to the shelter (which happens ALL THE TIME when people decide old animals are too much trouble or too painful to care for).  And I can hope that his remaining years are pain free and healthy.

I'm not a cat person.  But I'm definitely Snowbeast's and Origami's person.

No worries about Snowbeast.  He is eating the prescription food too because it's too hard to monitor two separate feedings for a bonded pair.  But he's had no issues so far.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

28 To Great

So today, I am going to do another round of the 28 to Great Barre3 program.  I discovered this fabulous group while I was living in Oregon.  It's a barre-based workout program using bodyweight and light hand weights, Pilates and yoga moves, and tons of repetitions to strengthen and tone.  I find it is super-helpful as a cyclist and a runner and swimmer.  It works me out, but doesn't break me down so I get leaner, more flexible, and stronger but I can still do a big ride or a run without dying.

The last time I did it, I followed the meal plan.  And while the meals are yummy, I am in a different place nutritionally right now.  I'm working closely with a coach to get the right balance of nutrients into my body (plenty of good vegetarian protein, good carbs, good fats), and to learn to eat dairy-free without resorting to fake food or crying.

So this time, I'm going to follow the 28 to Great workout plan and my coach's meal coaching.

Last time I did the 28 to Great, I was still struggling with e.Coli, so I was not very consistent with the workouts, and I was pretty sick from the illness, so I was fighting anemia, low vitamin D, low vitamin B, and a host of other minor nutritional deficiencies.  Now with the e.Coli all healed and my body built up to a strong baseline, I don't have that uphill battle to fight.  So I'm expecting to really concentrate on the workouts a a strong person.

I want to regain my core strength (I used to have abs!) and to get strong enough to do a plank and some pushups.  Arm strength.  Chicks can have it, too!  Ideally, I'd like to work my way back to a baseline of how strong and fit I was the year I did Leadman.  I climbed a mountain on my bike.  That's what I'm looking for.  And then from there, I'd like to get even more fit.

M wants to do some obstacle course races.  I want to do another half-Iron next year, but I'm also intrigued by those obstacles.  I always thought they'd be too hard for me, and then I watched him and his friend do one.  And I thought, "Yeah, I could do these..."  and "If THAT girl can do it, hellayeah, so can I."

So it's one month to really focus on strength.

And month #2 of relearning how to eat with my nice coach.  WHO MADE ME A SPECIAL RECIPE FOR TOMATO SOUP THAT I CAN"T WAIT TO EAT!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Doing the Scary Thing

Today, I finally completed the Big Scary Project I'd been thinking about for over a year.  I'm part of a group called The Young Clergywomen Project, and we have a section of that project which partners with Chalice Press, meaning that we can submit book proposals.

I started thinking up the idea for a book over a year ago.  But because it was partly grounded in a life situation which was constantly in flux, and because I'm the age that I am, and because I did not want to be the pretentious hipster who writes a memoir at 35, I dithered and dithered for over a year.

Finally, at a conference this summer, in a workshop, I let the idea go into the wild.  And since then, there have been multiple conversations and scenarios which convinced me that the book I was thinking of had some real application and need.  So I took my drafts and notes and worked them into a proposal.

Which then sat on my computer from July until now.  So I plunked myself down at a coffeeshop (a secret one on Capitol Hill that my mentor and friend introduced me to.  Seriously, if I ever worked at that church, it would be because the church is awesome AND because this shop was right down the road).  I wrote and tidied and spell checked and standardized margins and finally saved it once-and-for-all...

And then decided I would let it sit for a few more hours or days or maybe a week until I could check it over again.

But then I thought, "why, self, why?"  If this thing was truly something I was being called and motivated to do, and if it was timely and if it's really relevant like I am making an argument for, why wouldn't I send it?

Fear?  Was I really going to let shyness and fear and the nagging conviction that I'm really not good enough to do this stop the email?  It's just the first step after all.  And now it goes into committee.  And I know this press wants us, but they will not let a lousy book go out, so I don't have to fear that I will let bad work out into the wild.

No, I was just fear filled.  Because I'm an extroverted introvert- I love being around people and talking and keeping up a prattle, but I am an expert on keeping things light and surface depth.  My CPE groups used to bemoan how I would never really share deeply or "go deeper" into an issue.  So the idea of spending an entire book "going deeper" with what could be hundreds or thousands of readers...?  Terrifying!

Also terrifying?  Knowing that if this gets accepted, that we will have to share more details about a very painful and sad time in our lives.

Also terrifying?  Knowing that there will be folks out there- some will be jealous, others will be contemptuous- who will make unkind remarks about me and my work.  I will not have uniformly kind and constructive critics, and I know that if this becomes a real book, there will be people who will openly disparage my work and my experience.

That is scary, indeed.

But I thought about it, and I decided I would never really know the truth if I never sent it out to begin with.  The work was done for right now, and waiting another week or another day or another hour wouldn't change anything except for me to find another comma subtract or another sentence to reword.  And those of us who create know that you can do those sorts of tweaks for ever and ever, and never really finish.

It was time to be finished with this part of the work.

So I opened up the email program, attached my file, and hit send.  Off it goes into the wild world of committees.  Bye bye, baby bird book proposal!

PS- to answer questions: 
First, it gets read by the committee.  They may say yes, or they may say no. 
If they say yes, it goes to the Press we work with. 

THEY may say yes, and enter into a contract with me, and I get to WORK. 

They may say maybe, and ask for the right of first refusal.  In which case I write the book, and give them a completed manuscript, and when it's done, they decide if they will publish it.  The last TYCWP book was completed under this option, and it's FABULOUS.  

They may say no, in which case I go home and make a double martini and huddle on the couch for a week.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Nation's Tri Race Report: Race Day

Race Day did not dawn at all, for we were up at 4AM.  I told my family I wanted to be out the door by 4:30.  I am frequently the first person at races.  What can I say?  I'm a nervous racer and I like my extra time to lay things out.  

We had both spent time the night before packing bags and choosing gear.  Despite M's teasing and threats, he had already picked out all his food, so we were not going to be in for a repeat of the Half-Marathon Madness.  

I even had a food plan.  I knew what I was going to eat and when.  We found an easy parking spot in a location I will never share so that no one else can park where we parked.  (Hey, we were going to get blocked in by the road closures, anyway).  The plan was to send our gear bags back to the house with my parents after the race, and M and I would walk/ride to the Metros and metro home with the bikes.  


The first snafu happened as we were heading towards the race.  My mother, who was my special needs person in charge of handling my cochlear processor, caught a snippet of the verbal announcement and said, "They just said you can't wear your bike cleats."  That obviously made no sense so I immediately decided my mother was just insane in the pre-dawn periods, and ignored all the rest.  Hey, we make dumb decisions at 5AM, OK?  

As we got closer, we could hear the full announcement.  The swim was canceled, and we would all start with the bike.  (That was the "no bike cleats".  You had to run into the bike zone as if you had just done the swim:  no bike gear at all.  The only difference is you'd be dry, not wet.)  It turned out that the hard rain had caused a sewage overflow, and the Potomac was filled with raw sewage.  A few kayakers who later posted to Facebook shared that the water was beyond nasty.  

Having just spent the last year getting over e.Coli, I was very disappointed to not get to swim, but OK with it in the end.  I really do think the Nation's organizers make the right decision.  Considering all the novices at this race, you have to err on the super safe side.  And the not-gross side.  


Well, we all know how happy I am on the bike.  There was one spot early on in the bike loop where I hit that magical spot of speed and perfect gearing where the bike just feels it is humming underneath you.  It's been a long time since I was strong enough to hit that spot, and I thought, "Oh, hello, happy place. There you are!"  

The olympic was a very well marked double loop with an out-and-back section.  I was worried because I hadn't had time to go to a course briefing, but I needn't have worried.  It was SO CLEAR in the markings.  

I actually forgot my bike computer!  So I had no idea how fast I was going at any point.  I knew I'd have to ride by feel.  I went out pretty hard, and stayed in beast mode all through that ride.  I still notice just how slow I am on hills (where did my strong hills legs go?!), so I have an area to work on for next year.  Arlington hills, you are mine.  But on a flat, I'm pretty strong.  And in the head wind, I just hunch into my drops and settle in to suffer for a bit.  Head winds I can handle.  

I spent a fair amount of time passing, and a fair amount battling for space.  The one drawback was a few passes in the no-passing zone, and a few passes on my right.  There's rules for a reason, and if you were in a bind, and HAVE to pass on the right (I had to a few times, when there was a slow person hanging out in the left lane), but I hate being passed on the right when there's space on the left.  In particular was this one Rev3 girl on a tri bike who was NOT happy that I was passing her, and didn't want to give up the spot.  So she'd battle back and come up on my right.  Really, chickie.  You're on a tri bike.  I'm on a roadie.  I've passed you.  So drop back, regain some energy, and come back and pass me on the left like a good girl.  Give yourself a few minutes to recoup and you'll put time on me, but just this constant battling is sapping your energy- especially when I'm still in my saddle and you are standing.  I finally dropped her on the out and back because I was just a stronger rider.  But she came and caught me on the run.  Because that's just how it works. 

Over all: I had a 1: 21 on the bike (about 18 mph).  Not my fastest (which was 20mph on the same course 2 years ago), but not my slowest.  I did my best on that bike course though, and at least I didn't slack off for a minute.  


I had decided I would go all out on the course, just to see what I could do.  That being said, my run legs take forever to come in.  And after really going all out on the bike course, my legs were quite whiny.  But I battled through the initial pain and (yes), laziness.  I decided to cover up my watch and run by feel.  I'm debating if that was a good idea or not, because the mile markers were so clear, and I wonder if I had run by the watch, would I have felt that I could pep myself up any more?  

My run legs had settled by mile 2 and I settled into what felt like a hard pace.  Not as hard as I ran, say, Rolf Prima (on dirt) but harder than I ran this course a few years ago.  I was fretting about my shoes a bit.  I'd been lacing my ONs all summer, and switched to the speed laces the night before the race.  Yes, yes, yes, don't change things right before a race.  I know, I know.  I did it.  And I suffered for it.  The ON speed laces just don't give me the support I've come to expect from those shoes.  So I'll need to try different speed laces next time.  


I finished in 2:30:54.  Far from my fastest time (a 2:14 something a few years ago), it was also not my slowest times for those two events.  So I'm OK with it.  Considering how sick I was with e.Coli and how awful the nutritionist was and what a big set back the beginning of the summer was, I'm content with not-the-greatest, not-the-worst.  

My goal for next year: stay healthy, get stronger, and demolish this time for a PR.  

Races I'm considering:  we both want to do Eagleman (a half Iron) in Maryland, and I am interested in the Quassy Rev3 (why not a CT race where family can watch?), and M wants to do another couple obstacle course runs, which could be fabulous since I could have a goal to work on upper body strength for!  I was chatting with his best friend about wrist pain and pushups, so I think I have some ideas and it's high time I stop whining about upper body strength and regain some power.