Monday, August 10, 2015

A new route home

Yesterday, I rode my BMC down to Haines Point, a popular, super-flat area of DC.  It was a fun ride.  M rode a Capital Bikeshare bike down so he could get a swim in, and we rode through some Fun Times Traffic of DC on Sunday.  (DC does not have Fun Times Traffic on Sunday.  It has a lot of tourists who don't know how to drive.)

I rode the Haines circuit three times.  On one circumnavigation, I saw a guy on a tri bike.  So I caught him, and dropped him!  That is always fun.  Then a chick on a road bike caught me, and dropped me, and I guess the guy decided to kick it into gear and came back and caught me.  But he never did catch the chick, and none of us caught whoever it was in the pink up ahead.

I decided to ride home a different way to see if it was any better than city streets.  So I went down Ohio Drive, got turned around on Rock Creek, ran across a traffic circle like I was doing cyclocross, and finally came out on Calvert near Open City.

Hmmm... I don't know if I like that route.  On one hand, it is certainly a straighter shot.  On the other hand, the Rock Creek trail is very narrow in many spots, and has a LOT of tourists, and people doing things like enjoying the volleyball courts.  So it's less a RIDE and more of a slow, careful "remember you are in shared space" noodle.  Plus, you cannot ride Rock Creek Parkway.  (No shoulder, way too dangerous) and the trail does not give me any way to get to Massachusetts, which would be a very straight shot.

On the other hand, I felt kind of badass working my way up the last few hills.  My strength is coming back, and in Oregon, I'd gotten pretty strong on those hills.  So pulling up a hill again without feeling like I'm gonna die... it's a feeling I'd missed.  I even pushed it up the super-punchy steep climb from the Rock Creek trail to Calvert.  Strong is good.

I do think I need to ride my roadie some more.  My bike handling is pretty tentative.  With the return of normal feelings, I'm realizing that I got used to compensating for general weakness and a sense of balance that was a little off.  So now I have to break some bad habits I picked up over the last few years, like constant unclipping and not trusting myself to stay upright.  So some more bike handling work is in the future for me!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Taking my vitamins again A New Protein Powder

So among other things, things are coming together.

BTW, I do know this is the most boring blog ever.  I'm not trying to keep it to educate the world or gain any readers.  It's just that having a public blog helps me stay accountable to my training, and it helps me to look back at my nutrition issues long-term.

Taking my Vitamins: 

  • For several reasons, I decided to start taking a multivitamin again.  

  • I don't think multivitamins are necessarily required for everyone, but you gotta pay attention to your own life.  I don't eat a lot of meat- in fact, I think it's been a little over 3 weeks since I last had meat.  I'm not anti-meat, but I just find myself naturally choosing vegetarian meals. 

  • I nabbed the Alive! brand of vitamin.  Back in the midst of the e.Coli recovery fun, the "Max Potency" version was recommended. I took that plus probiotics for a long time, weaning down slowly as my body recovered.  I know that people doing surgery like lap band or gastric bypass often take the liquid form.  It's certainly more expensive than the average vitamin at the grocery store, but I find it sits well in my tummy.  I feel like it was a significant factor in my recovery then, so I thought the toned-down normal version of it would help me stay healthy now.  

  • Why multivites?  Well, during the Year of e.Coli, I also got overtrained, and I was trying to be all-vegetarian, no-supplements, kale-is-my-sunshine in Oregon.  I lost sight of the fact that nutrition is a big-picture project and that everyone is individual.  You might be able to be a kale-is-my-sunshine no-supplement person, but in cloudy gorgeous Oregon, I should have been supplementing.  I would have still gotten sick from accidentally drinking tainted punch in Mexico, but if I had been supplementing (ahem, and had backed off my training like a normal person), I think I might not have suffered as much damage as I did.  In other words, supplements and science exist for a reason.   I'm not going to make that mistake again.   

  • I also nabbed the Nordic Naturals Vitamin D.  I've been supplementing that for a month and a half now, since my doc says I have a whopping D deficiency.  I've been learning about Nordic Naturals in my Secret Solace Job at the dog and cat nutrition store, and I figure if I would support feeding it to my pet, then I should support the human version for me!  We will see if I feel a big difference between that and the regular grocery store vitamin D gummies.  

  • Yes, I know I'm a grownup, but I get the gummy versions of vitamins because I hate pills.  Don't judge.  

Getting my Protein: 

  • I also decided to change up the protein powder I use.  I've been using a pea protein since I learned I was lactose intolerant.  I used whey protein sporadically for a long time, and quite naturally had a near-constant upset stomach.  I knew protein was important for so many things, but I hated how horrible the protein supplement made my tummy feel!  

  • Duh.  Once I switched to a dairy-free formula, I stopped feeling crappy all the time.  Vega was OK, but it felt a little sweet and grainy to me.  Ultimately, I liked that pea protein basically disappeared into my smoothies.  All the benefits, and it was invisible.  (And yes, protein did keep me full and happy.)

  • I am going to try a hemp protein.  I'd been seeing some articles about it having the full amino acid profile.  Again, I don't eat very much meat, and that means, as a slacker-tarian who is mostly vegetarian/some days full vegan, I don't get those amino acids.  I do need to supplement them.  Amino acids are good for us!

  • Besides, I'd also been reading about hemp and those amino acids and its ability to combat fatigue.  I've been waking up kinda tired, especially with super tired feet and legs.  Since I have a job where I stand up a great deal and I'm pretty active, that's not very comfortable.  So I'm going to try the hemp protein to see if it really does help with fatigue!  


  • As far as training:  going OK.  The Galloway method is challenging, and interesting.  

  • I'm finding I have a pretty big form issue:  I don't lift my knees enough.  Or, well, at all.  I have a perpetual shuffle.  And I have no kick.  At all.  So I need to learn to cycle my legs more, and that might help me break through this speed plateau.  

  • My endurance is coming along nicely, but the shuffle step is really holding me back.  I notice, on trails, the problem disappears.  Probably I'm so busy reading the trail and looking for obstacles to leap over that I don't think about "PAIN!  AGONY! THE BONES OF MY LEGS ARE BEING HAMMERED THROUGH MY SPINAL COLUMN!" like I do on the side walks.  Running is not all that comfortable, even with good shoes.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

What a break!

Well, it's a good thing I just blog as a way of keeping a training journal these days or else I'd be a very delinquent writer to my hordes of readers.  (Hi Uncle T!) 

It's been crazy busy here.  I keep having thoughts of posts, but never actually get around to sitting and writing.  I'll be working from home this afternoon, so maybe I can schedule that in? 

One thing I did about a month ago was pick up a second job at Wylie Wagg.  I've joked for a long time about a "secret solace job" where no one knew what I did, so I'd have a break from you know, caring about people.  So I help people buy dog food and I pat their pups.  It's actually quite relaxing.  I know it won't be a long term thing, but it's fun for now.  If I get into grad school or go full time in a job that is going to have to go away.  

I'vee been biking, running, and organizing a ride.  In particular, I started and quit two training programs for my half marathon.  I quit the Couch 2 5K programs which several runners recommended for speedwork, because I found they were just too slow for where I am.  I am not fast by any stretch, but I wasn't that slow or out of shape.  So I started a different program based on a game board, but it required too many days of running (4-6) and I need time to bike and to do strength and core training.  

So last week, I discovered the Galloway method, which is based on about 3 days of running with two short and one long run a week, using a run-walk model and occasional speed trials.  That leaves me time to bike and strength train, and fits me much better.  It's hard enough to be challenging (it gives me  an idea of how hard to go if I have a given time goal), but not so hard I feel I can't do it.  

Saturday took me on a long run through Rock Creek Park where I finally hit some gorgeous real trails.  We are really lucky to have Rock Creek in this town!  But man  was it hilly!  It was nice, though, to hit the final, flat homestretch and finish strong. 

Also nice was remembering to grab my Stick and roll out my hamstrings.  I've been horrible with stretching and actually had a huge knot in my left hamstring that would have been major cramps for a few days... but within a few minutes of rolling, I'd released that knot and have had no problems.  Note to self... take the time to stretch and roll! 

In other news, the thyroid medication experiment continues.  I was told it could take 6-8 weeks until I noticed big changes.  The last few days, it feels like something switched on.  I've been much warmer and had much more sensitive toes and fingers, and I've had a strong thirst drive.  My  doc mentioned that was something I might expect.  People with a slow thryoid often have little to no thirst mechanism, so when it starts returning to normal your body starts wanting what it has been missing.  But I still have problems with plain water, so I have been drinking coconut water and fizzy water whenever I can.  

That's all the news that fit to print before 3 incredibly busy days kick off.  Ah,, who do I kid?  I'm 4 hours in already with two and a half more days to go!  I have 3 services, 1 premarital session, two meetings, finishing up the publicity and getting the registration live for the bike ride, getting things ready to cover the Rector's vacation, and handling all the regular pastoral stuff that rolls through.  So I'm a busy,k busy girl this week!  

In happy news: the best money I spent last week (now that we are emerging from our years of deprivation and poverty!) was tickets to the Star Wars Day game!  I got tickets in our new favorite spot- super high aobve the field but a gorgeous view of all the action and easy access to snacks.  I still like nice low seats from time to time, but I won't deny that those high seats, with the shade covering, is nice when you have easy-burn skin like mine!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Breakfast Soup (recipe at end. Oh, yeah, recipes!)

The last two days, I've been having breakfast soup for breakfast.  One of my favorite breakfasts ever was been grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.  Ever since the lactose intolerance, the grilled cheese is out of the picture, which leaves me needing more soup.

(I don't generally do fake cheese sandwiches.  They just aren't as good.)

Breakfast soup, you say?  Made with broth?  Won't the sodium drive my blood pressure up and send me to an early, very salty grave?  

True.  Most people have to restrict their salt, watch their sodium intake, and be careful of processed food since most of us consume way, way too much sodium.  This can be bad for a lot of reasons.

I seem to be the one person in the universe whose doctor tells me to make sure I add salt to dishes!  Over the last year, I've been experimenting, and indeed, we have confirmed what I have suspected (and what my first tri coach suspected) for a while: my body does not hold on to salt.

I have no idea why.

This could be the most awesome or the worst thing ever.  On one hand, I can eat all your nachos since it won't bother me a whit.

On the other hand, I get such disapproving stares when I go for the salt shaker.

And really, Breakfast Soup?  Is that some weird thing like cereal with toppings and you're just trying to trick us like all the other sites promising creative breakfast and just re-hashing normal breakfast?

No.  Breakfast Soup is not normal breakfast.  I don't like sweet breakfasts.  I have tried oatmeal and Cream of Wheat and grits and polenta and every other mushy cereal out there, and universally, in the morning, they remind me of snot.  At night, I've been known to make a steamed oatmeal topped with fresh fruit.  I make polenta for dinner sometimes.  But in the morning?  Get behind me, Breakfast Satan.

I typically feel a little queasy in the morning.  This can make eating or working out a challenge. Things that work in the morning tend to be eggs and vegan sausage, or an avocado quarter or half topped with salt and seeds, or a PB&J with extra salt sprinkled on it, or Breakfast Soup.  I've found that my easily queasy tummy settles down with a little salt hit.  So Breakfast Soup makes a lot of sense.

Breakfast Soup is super easy.  You can use anything you have in the cabinet that you like.  Do you have chicken noodle or minestrone?  Eat that.  You can use anything you have in the fridge.  Made a nacho soup for dinner last night?  Have some more for breakfast.  Who cares?  (We all eat cold leftover pizza for breakfast.  Why not soup?)

But what about when you have not made soup in a while and there's no soup cans in the cupboard because you just happen to make most of your stuff from scratch?  Well, here's a recipe for a quick and easy soup.

One-one-one soup.  My  mother calls this the One-one-one recipe.  Just remember: One (ish) of everything. 

Time: 10-20 minutes.  Basically, while the coffee is perking and you're yelling at your kids to get their backpacks or asking your spouse to feed that cats that morning.  

You need:
-1 TB of butter (or 1 pat). I use Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks which works great.  Not lactose intolerant and prefer to use real butter?  Go for it.  Not a butter person and want to use coconut oil?  Try at your own risk.  I made this once with olive oil and it was oily.  
-1 TB flour.  Any kind, except I have not tried this with gluten free flours.  I wouldn't use quinoa flour for this, because of the grassy smell.
-1 cup broth.  (I use full sodium broth, because of me, but you might need reduced sodium). 1 cup usually does the trick, although if the veggies are dry or you like a more liquidy soup, you might want a little extra water.
-1 cup veggie.  Any kind of cooked veggie.  If it's not pureed, it should be in big chunks.  Today, let's use tomato.  You can use tomato sauce, crashed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, pureed tomatoes, tomatoes with spices in them, whatever works.  Most other kinds of veggies work great too.  Try this with pumpkin in the fall.  Trust me!
-Bonus veggie.  I often throw in a handle of spinach or kale.

To make: 
-Get your saucepan going over medium high.  
-Melt the butter.
-Throw in the flour, and stir it around until it sops up all the butter.  Keep stirring madly.  The flour should look like a thick slurry, like thick cement.  Keep stirring until it smells a little nutty.  This step usually takes about 2-3 minutes.
-Add the broth, while stirring frantically to prevent clumps.  I usually use a small stream or a heavy drizzle for the water, if that helps you visualize.  Once you have a thin slurry or a thick broth...
-Add the veggies. Give it a few more stirs to incorporate it all.

Now if it's a pureed veggie:
-Stir to incorporate, and bring to a gentle boil.  When it's hot through, it's done.

If it's a chunky veggie: 
-Do you like your veggies chunky?  Then bring to a boil, and when it's hot through, it's done.
-Want a smoother soup?  Grab your hand blender, blend it into a nice smooth soup, bring it to a boil, and when it's hot through, it's done.

Finally, if you like bonus veggies: 
-See that spinach/kale/collard/argula/dandelion greens in your fridge you've been ignoring?  Yeah, it's judging all of us as it slowly dies.  Quick, grab it before it wilts anymore, [rinse it if you need to],  and toss it in the soup.  Stir it around for a few minutes while it wilts and cooks.  When it's hot, it's done.

End story: It's delicious and makes me happy.  Please don't complain if this doesn't fit your morning schedule 'cause of work/kids/school/dog.  I don't have kids, I have a short commute, and we split animal duties in my house.  This works for me, and if you enjoy, great!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

More Speed. Bikeshare! New part time job.

So I am clipping away in the speed training.  After talking to some running friends, I jumped ahead in the program to the point where I felt I was physically.  The first three weeks were SO slow.  So I'm now doing week 4 and even if I don't gain major speed, I feel like I'm regaining form.

I'm thinking that next, I'll be adding weight training to my workouts, like I used to do in Arlington, where I would be out biking or running and would stop into the gym, do a 20 or 30 minute weights and stretch circuit, and finish my workout biking or running or walking home.

While at a work event, there was a silent auction, and I won the Bikeshare package.  Oh, of course, I had to pay for it.  That's the purpose of an auction, right?  But I WON THE AUCTION!  And it was a full package to a year's subscription to Capital Bikeshare.  I've been thinking about trying Bikeshare for a while now, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity.

Besides, the package came with a helmet, socks, a t-shirt, a seat cover, and a really cool bike tote bag that is marketed as a helmet purse. Personally, I don't care who sees my helmet (it seems to almost be a status symbol to tote a helmet around this town!), so I use the bag as a nice smallish work tote.  It holds my lunch and my iPad, and my personal stuff, and it's freaking adorable.  It looks like a little red Cyberman!

Don't you think?  Bag here.  Cyberman here. Mine is a red small bag.  It's the sort of thing that I would not have bought on my own (without a ton of dithering and months of debate) but that I would have wanted badly.  So getting both bag and Bikeshare membership... it was a great deal!

I've already been riding all over the place, trying bikeshare in all sorts of shoes (I rode today in heels, with my afternoon errands in the front basket!).  It's already proved it is worth it.  I have managed to get around some terrible traffic, and avoid a metro fire/shutdown, and it's erased any reservations I had about going to, say, Whole Foods for a speciality ingredient.  It was SO FAR AWAY.  But on a bike, it's about 10 minutes instead of 25.

Finally, one month of ¾ time work was plenty for me, and I swiftly lost my mind with all the spare time.  The first few weeks, I slept a little more and cleaned the apartment and cooked and shopped and then I died of boredom.

What with one thing and another, I decided I either needed a part time job or a volunteering gig to get me out to see PEOPLE.  I went to check out an animal shelter (because puppies, people.  Let's be real) and fell in love with a puppy.  As I was considering whether to adopt her, I wandered into this brand new pet store near my home and next thing I knew, I was applying for a part time job there.  So this week I start at the Wylie Wagg!  I'm really excited, not just because it's a job (and extra money means vacation fund) but because I really like the team and the philosophy.

I start Thursday, and I'm really thrilled to have a totally non-religious form of income for the first time in, oh, forever.

It'll be fun.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Speed Training. Hopefully the last of weird health. New commutes.

I'm typing this in the dark while M gets some sleep.  I'm using an app called Flux to dim the screen and prevent blue light from disrupting my circadian rhythm.  I realized about an hour ago that a certain someone had not sent me something they had promised earlier this month, and it leaves me angry, anxious, and frustrated.  It is actually all going to be OK.  But right now, I'm pretty upset that a simple task didn't get done.

Meanwhile...  In preparation for this half-marathon, I decided I wanted to shoot for a speed goal... 9:15 minute miles or better.  This is about what I can hold on a very good day for a 5K.  So I'd have some serious training to do.

Part of it is that, frankly, I slowed WAY down while struggling with e.Coli.  At my best, before Leadman, I was holding easy low 8 minute miles, with a few 7:40somethings thrown in during a hard effort.  I think I can regain that.

So I've started doing a speed work program.  Bascially, I grabbed the old Couch to 5K app... and quickly realized that weeks 1-3 were boring as hell.  So I skipped to week 4, and eliminated the walking in favor of a jog.  So it's jog and run instead of walk and jog.  We shall see.  Mostly, I need to reestablish both a habit of training and a slow-fast pattern.

I'd been chugging away at one speed for so long that I've forgotten how to do the old speed work.  I miss my "garbage runs", when I used to sprint garbage can to garbage can for intervals, and my old hill workouts, which were "run up the hill until you are about to die and then turn around and jog down until you catch your breath, then run up the hill again".  It was tough, but I had the size 8 butt and quads of steel that proved that I was a pretty damn good middle-of-the-pack-works-more-than-she-works-out-and-is-friends-with-a-chef athlete.

Aspirations, right?

Anyway, weird health.  Ultimately, I wonder if someday I will look back on the whole e.Coli episode and be thankful it happened.  I ended up with a really good doctor who understands my body.  It seems that- even after everything else is back to normal- my thyroid is just barely symptomatic as a misbehaving body part.  While I don't blame my thyroid for all my ills, I won't deny that since adding a tiny dose of medicine to my morning, my anxiety has plummeted, my energy has rebounded, and my joint pain has been melting away.  (Also melting... some poundage.  And occasionally, me.  I'm actually experiencing sweating these days, as if I were a person with a metabolism.)

From what I read, sometimes after a major illness, a person's endocrine system can get messed up and need some support to recover.  Some people need that support for the rest of their lives.  Some people only need that support for a short time.  But I think the e.Coli either accelerated or unveiled a problem that could have lived in the shadows for a long time.  So perhaps I should be grateful that this one big illness might have shown light on a problem that could have very negatively affected me over the course of the next decade of my life.

Finally, new commutes.  I started my new job at a new parish, and it is 2.6 miles away.  So this month has been all about trying the various ways to get to work.  Ideally, it is inexpensive, saves the planet, and preserves my sanity.  (And is fairly reliable... meaning that if I walk out the door at 8:15 on a Monday and get to work by 9, I want that to happen on Tuesday and Wednesday as well!)   Ironically, driving my personal vehicle might be the cheapest solution on the surface.  But it means isolating myself in a tin can and driving through some pretty clogged traffic and dealing with a series of forbidden left turns, which is tremendously frustrating.  And I swear, a lot.  Way more than a priest ought to.  Metro is OK, but not my ideal.  In the last month, I was on an escalator when it broke down in Bethesda.  I found out later that they closed the station due to over crowding after that, so if I had been 10 minutes later, I'd have been toast.  I also was lucky to miss the station fire.  It seems the bus might be the most relaxing route.

Luckily (ha ha) I also won an auction that included an adorable satchel and a year long membership to Capital Bikeshare.  So Bikesharing is now mine.  I'm actually really excited to try that.  There are stations everywhere near me, and near work. I'm thinking I might take the bus to Friendship Heights (past the worst of the Wisconsin traffic), snag a bike there, and ride the remaining mile to the nearest station across the street from my job.  Since trips of 30 minutes and under are free, my only cost will be for the bus.  And thus I get to keep my personal vehicle off the road, get outside and breathe (polluted humid city) fresh air, and get some exercise while commuting.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Half Marathon- Goal Set!

I signed up for the Hartford Half Marathon in October!

You might remember I had a goal of completing a half marathon this year.  Well, here I go.  Goal set.

I know I can do 13.1, as I've already done it in an Ironman.  I want to be able to do the entire half at a strong pace and finish well.  I'm shooting for a 9:15 pace.  Yes, it's "slow" for me, the fastest I've ever held a 10K was an 8:45, so this will be a good goal.

I have a training plan I like, so I will start following that.  And yes, I have already put an app on both my iPad and on my phone that are counting down the days.

My friend K the Powerful Blonde will be pacing me.  She's become quite the badass runner, and is doing the Marine Corp Marathon, and this race falls on a day in her taper when she should be doing a 13 mile run.  Boom.  My goal pace is her take it easy pace- perfect!  My sister is also doing the MCM, so she may run as well.  But her pace is way faster than mine.

For extra bonus points, it's also my cousin's wedding weekend, so we opted to take the train to avoid any holiday nonsense on the roads.  We get that Monday off for Columbus Day (the worst federal holiday due to the guy being honored, but hey, I'll take the day off for what it's worth).  So running that half means I get to eat all the wedding food.  And we're a Portuguese family, so you know there'll be great food.

Now that my health seems to be pretty stable, I'm looking forward to a good year of training... the first consistently good year since the year I did Leadman.  (Which was the year before I got e.Coli and all the stuff hit the fan.)

I am still going to be swimming and biking.  Because I like to, and because they are free since I have all the gear.

I do need to replace my shoes (I'll be sticking with On because I like them), and probably invest in some more socks, and possibly a pair of running shorts or two.  I only have one skort right now, so I really do need some more shorts so I can rotate stuff faster.