Thursday, September 10, 2015

The New Steed!

So among other things, last week, I had some fun at bike shops.

They did not have fun at bike shops.  But they like to use each other as pillows.  

I'd been in the market to replace my commuter for a while now.  I have a Trek 7100, men's (a high cross bar).  These days, I'm commuting mostly in normal clothes, so I had gotten hooked on the step-thru frames of the Capital Bikeshares so I could ride in dresses or skirts.  But in my neighborhood, Bikeshare is so popular that the docks are frequently empty by the time I go to work!  I will not give up Bikeshare, but I was frequently wanting something that would be available all the time.

I started test riding a few months ago, driving the shops nuts because I research things to within an inch of of sanity.  I rode a couple of frames called a mixte (MIX-tee, MIX, or MIX-eee, we think).  I ruled out stepthrus because they were heavy.

And then I rode a folder.  A folder is a bike that folds up- like Bike Fridays, Bromptons, Dahons, Terns, and Citizen Bikes, to name a few.  In some cases, they can even be put into a suitcase and traveled with!

The DC Metro does not allow bikes on trains during rush hours... but they do allow folded folding bikes!  Since I frequently mix up my commute (between bike, bus, and metro), I like the idea of flexibility.  You know, just in case I'm really tired and want to ride from work to the Bethesda metro, then get off at Tenleytown and not wait for the bus.

What with one thing and another, I now own a lovely used Tern D7i.  It's a great bike with a few commute friendly special features: an internal hub (safe from grit, potholes, and road junk!), a funky covered chain (not a chain guard- a covered chain!  To keep pants clean), and an extra bonus front rack.  I thought I'd hate that rack and pull it off in a day... but I find I'm using it constantly.  It attaches to the frame, so the weight is borne on the frame and not the handlebars.  Unlike the Bikeshare bikes with their baskets on the handlebars, this doesn't affect the steering at all.  I also have a rear rack which has lent itself to the discovery that I can now pack more stuff when I go to work.  On a Bikeshare, I was always working to minimize my load.  The racks mean that I can now ride without worrying about weight or bag size.  HANDY!
Here's that internal hub and covered chain. 

(Because, yes, there were a few days when I took the bus or drove if I had more things than I could fit into a single bag.  I don't need to do that if I don't want to, now.)
And hey, check it out- reflective wheels!

I'm considering panniers for that rear rack, in fact.

But first things first.  I need to get a bell and some lights for riding at night.

Here's my new-to-me Tern!
Overall, my not-scientific review is that the Tern is blowing my expectations out of the water.  I was a little hesitant to get a folder, thinking it might be a one-trick pony.  I took it on metro last Friday just to see how it would handle the job.  Folding it has been easy.  And at my destination, a friendly Metro employee helped hold the gate for me as I carried it out.  He didn't bat an eye, so I guess he sees a few of these each day!  I unfolded the bike and whizzed along to my destination- a store where I replaced my running shoes.

I strapped the box on my rear rack and secured my bag on the front and headed out.

I planned to take the metro home.  But I saw the W&OD trail... a fun, easy trail in DC that is a huge commuting zone.  I did not have water or supplies, so I didn't think a big ride was in the cards. I thought maybe instead of East Falls Church, the stop right in front of me, I could ride to Ballston instead.

So I whizzed along the trails.

And when I got to the signs for Ballston, the ride felt so good I kept going.  Maybe I'd go to Rosslyn, I thought.  

And I kept whizzing along to Rosslyn, past that fun sign where it counts trail users.  And as I approached Rosslyn, I reminded myself that it was on the Blue/Orange/Silver line, and I live off the Red, so I'd still have a metro ride and a train change in front of me... but I was right near Georgetown and maybe I'd just go take the bus.

Here's the folded Tern ready for sitting in the office, with the handlebar still up since I'm trying to figure out how to roll it for short distances.  IT'll never roll like a Bike Friday Tikit or a Brompton, but it'll roll a little bit! 
So I whizzed along into Georgetown where the main drag was clogged with vehicles honking and belching at each other as they gridlocked.  Thinking I'd best get above the fray, I hopped on a side walk, rode up a street, headed down a cobblestone street that I have now nicknamed "The Iron Cooter" for the jolting it hands out, and started noodling up a side road.  I popped out near the library, and realized I had accidentally climbed part of the famous Big Hill of Georgetown.  Whoops!

Besides, I stopped to check the bus arrivals, and the bus was about 22 minutes away in traffic.  I was only half a mile from home.  I could ride half a mile in a fraction of that time.  So I took off, and arrived at home.


The Tern has really been surprising me with its comfort and ride-ability.  It's riding like a real bike, even with the smaller tires.  I am pacing road bikes, unless they have e-assist, which is cheating and probably feels really awesome.  I am really glad I spent the extra money to get the Tern instead of the other entry level bike I was considering- the better components and the folding pedals have been totally worth it.

There are a few quirks... I am still getting used to the folding and I am trying to master rolling it.  Technically, you aren't supposed to be able to roll a Tern or a Dahon, but there are videos that demo it, so it must be true!  That would certain make metro commuting a little easier.  And the magnet on the wheels doesn't hold all that strongly.  So I'll probably do a hack of some sort of keep the wheels together.

Overall, I think I'll be very happy on this little bike... and I am actually looking forward to my next trip so I can take it along for the journey!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

EDOW BIke Ride!

So I've been consumed, this past month, with training for a century, a half-marathon, normal work, and organizing the EDOW Ride for Bicycle Saftey.  We  were trying to raise funds to help WABA (the Washington Area Bicycle Association) fund their projects in raising awareness of Vision Zero, the worldwide initiative to elminate cyclist and pedestrian deaths by the year 2024.

Given how many cyclists have been struck and killed here in the Baltimore to DC area this year, this is all too timely.  We all need to respect each other's humanity, got it?  

Anyway:  the Oxon Hill Bike Club's Indian Head Century.  This was going to be a century attempt for me and M.  I'd made several attempts on a road bike to ride a century, all of which ended in crashes and mechanicals.  He had yet to try.  Both of us were somewhat undertrained, and he was riding a newly built up bike. The odds were not in our favor!

I woke up with raging anxiety.  But we got loaded up and headed out to the ride. We found the other EDOW riders and were rolling by about 7:30.  The first leg went beautifully, although I was still fighting uncomfortable anxiety.   At the first rest stop, they give you Egg McMuffins!  Chomp chomp, down the hatch.  Egggs on bread?  Yes, please.  

Here's where our group split up.  One member was preparing to leave for a huge triathlon, so she was riding a shorter ride.  The Bishop was ready to roll, but I had been riding a little faster than her.  So I told her to go ahead with the triathlete and have a nice ride to the next rest stop while I waited for M to get his sandwich.  That all went well, and pretty soon we were rolling ourselves, expecting we'd catch the Bishop at the second rest stop. 

I was riding along, still feeling super anxious, when I could no longer deny that I really, really had to pee.  I have a little bit of a nervous bladder, OK?  Multiple potty visits had not done the trick, OK?  There's way too much TMI in ride reports, OK?  So I looked and looked for a suitable stand of trees that were not also someone's rural front yard.  FInally, I found a construction site with some unclaimed land, and I glopped through the mud to do the necessary.  

That explains how I failed to clip in when I tried to get back on the bike.  M took a look at my shoes, and we spent several minutes digging this cement-like mud out of my cleats!  I was worried the mud would dry in place and cement me to my bike!  We used half a water bottle to wash the cleans as clean as possible.  

And then we were rolling again.  Around Liverpool Road, I had just gone by this totally redneck-y house (cars in various stages of repair in the front lawn, some sort of carcass grilling on a fire, a hairy man in a wife-beater type shirt) when I heard this loud report, like a gunshot.  For a split second, I thought the guy was doing target practice.  But immediately, my back wheel fishtailed!  I was the one who'd blown!  Thankfully, I did not crash.  I grabbed my brakes gently and slowed to a stop.  My tire was indeed flat!  Everyone was really nice, asking if we had everything we needed (which we did), as they rode by.  We changed my flat, and used a CO2 canister to pump it.  

Here's Heroic Tesi working on my tire while I take pictures and calm down after I avoided wiping out during the exciting Tire Explosion and Resulting Fish Tail.  

That's a glove on the ground, and M working the tire over the rim.  

Pro tip: CO2 canisters only give you about half a tire's worth of air.  So I had a pretty mushy tire, and about 10 miles to go to the next rest stop.  Oh well.  It's enough to get you rolling.  

We had to slow way down to compensate for my mushy tire.  Between the bathroom break, the mud cleaning, the flat, and the slowing down, we had added over 40 minutes onto this leg.  I knew we would not catch up to the Bishop today, unless she took a nap at the next stop!  

It was hard work for those 10 miles.  Tires are firm for a reason, and we had some giant potholes and rough road to contend with.  So for 10 miles, I was getting HAMMERED with some major road jolts.  Plus I had to work REALLY HARD.  It's harder to pedal a soft tire!  I was really happy to roll into rest stop 2, and pump my tire.  (Interestingly, my anxiety had gone away entirely.  Premonition, maybe?)

After getting some ice and Gatorade and snacks, we were on our way to the next stop.  This turned out to be a fun one.  Each stop had lots of good snacks, and the third stop had tomato/mayo sandwiches!  I passed on those because I was dealing with some cramping and pain after my hard effort.  I met a guy who offered me some naproxen sodium.  I thought he meant Aleve until he pulled out a prescription bottle.  But hey, I was really, really hurting and wasting a lot of effort on pain.  So I swallowed a few.  Thanks, stranger who gave me drugs!  You saved my day!  

Disclaimer:  Do not, in general, take prescription drugs offered to you by a stranger.  The rules of life are different when you are both wearing spandex and riding 100 miles.  

At this stop, M met an old friend of his from his work days in a bike shop.  They shot the breeze and admired M's build... until I realized that - between all the delays- we had a hard cut-off coming up!  We had to pass a certain checkpoint by a certain time or we would not be able to finish the full ride!  M's friend jumped on his bike, and M and I took off as well.  The race to beat the cut off was on!  

We had 45 minutes to beat the cutoff in 10 miles, and 1 hour to make the next rest stop.  

As it turned out, this was the most grueling leg of the day.  The weather had heated up, and this leg had the most gruesome climbing of the day- 4 big hills and lots of rollers.  I love riding rollers.  But man, those big hills, combined with me still fighting the last of the pain before the drugs kicked in, plus not having my salt sticks on hand... wow.  I was hurting.  I kept telling myself I'd just get to the cut off, and I was really fighting with myself.  

Part of me wanted to sock it in, to quit, and ride the shorter route.  I was tired, and in pain, and feeling foggy.  Part of me wanted to ride the whole thing because I'd be embarrassed to quit.  Most of me wanted to cry a little because I was feeling sorry for myself.  And we had gotten swept up in a group of riders.  M had talked a little to another guy, and then the group moved ahead while I was struggling up a hill.  M has been riding so super strong, and his jersey had blue and red on it.  As I crested the hill, I saw the group ahead of me, with a blue and red jersey winking out of sight as they rode away.  

"Dammit all", I thought.  "They dropped me, and M doesn't realize it.  I need to keep them in sight so I don't lose him!"  So I turned on the burners and gave it everything I had.  I chased that group of guys up and down every single damn hill in that leg... every awful, long, grueling hill.  I stayed in my big ring trying to keep them in sight.  

I worked so hard that I rode by a bunch of them who were turning left where the different colored arrows pointed out an alternate route.  I kept going, following the orange signs.  FInally, I saw the group leader... AND NO M! 

I asked if he'd seen M.  

"Nope", he said, "Haven't seen that guy for a while!"  Where did he go?  

I turned a corner, and, still not seeing M anywhere in the distance, I pulled out my phone to call him... when he rode up behind me.  

"Where've you been?"  I squealed in delight.  Or at least, I meant to squeal in delight.  I think it came out more in pained gasps.  As it turned out, he'd never passed me.  I thought I'd been chasing him this whole time... and he'd been behind me, noodling away while his crazy wife went ape-sh*t on the big-*ss hills.  


I guess I'll never know who was in that blue-and-red jersey.  

Well, nothing to do but keep going.  As we would later learn, we had beat the cutoff.  THe cutoff had been about a mile behind us where those other guys had turned off to to follow the other route.  We had done 10 miles in just under 30 minutes, buying us 45 minutes to get to the next rest stop, just 4 miles up the road.  

Key word: Up.  

At the time, I was not paying attention to the word "up".  I had lost count of the hills, and I was more concerned with being hot and tired.  I pulled on my arm coolers (essential items for pale girls like me) to ease my suffering.  I forced myself to suck down a gel.  And we started out to the St. Ignatius rest stop. 

Super Pro Tip:  When you are feling a little almost-queasy on a big endurance effort, for love of sweet baby Jesus and all the angels, force yourself to eat!  I started reviving after I started forcing down gels.  I tend to resist eating, because Ijustdonwanna, but you HAVE to force yourself right at that time.  It helps.  I promise.  

Now, the Indian Head Ride has a famous climb: the Rose Hill Climb, and everyone was freaking out about it.  So steep.  So long.  So hard.  But for me, St. Ignatius stands out as the worst climb.  I didn't realize it was coming up.  After a few nice rollers, the road angled up... and didn't stop.  I crawled up a long curvy hill.  I started doing my count-to-30 trick, where I count out loud to 30 in tough spots.  (The rule is that I can't stop until I hit the number 30, and then I can take a breather.  By then, I'm usually at the top of the hill.  Funny how that works.)  And the road suddenly angled STRAIGHT FREAKIN' UP.  

I stood on my pedals.  I counted.  I breathed.  I sat.  I clicked into my lowest gear.  I repeated that sequence.   And I was really starting to think I was not going to make it up that hill... when I finally crested that bugger.  

The view was tremendous.  Not that I was thinking about it at the moment.  With my last strength, I clicked out of my pedals and gasped to a halt.  I swear that hill must have been a 10% grade.  Or more.  However steep it needs to be for you to think I'm very badass.  

St. Ignatius had a brilliant rest stop.  Grapes.  Fruit.  Granola bars.  And lots and lots of cold Gatorade. (The last stop before this had been out of Gatorade, so I was desperate!)  Lots of friendly people who handed you stuff.  People who hand you stuff are AWESOME when you are hot and tired.  

Around now, M walked up.  He was hurting.  Without Gatorade, the heat of the day was really taking its toll.  He was hot and tired and cramping.  His legs were having a mutiny.  We started stuffing him with Gatorade and bananas, and the girls on the banana table were thrilled to have such an enthusiastic audience of one! 

We checked the map.  That is where we learned we had beat the cutoff for the last turn off, and were within the time limit for the whole ride.  

"I guess we're doing this thing,"  M said.  

"Yep," said I, "but I am going to walk Rose Hill if I need to."  You see, I could see that there was just one more big hill left that day... Rose Hill.  The drugs had done the trick and I wasn't in pain anymore, but my legs were still pretty crampy and tired.  I've climbed mountains on my BMC, so I really didn't feel the need to prove myself with one more hill.  10 hilly miles in under 30 minutes was good enough for me!  And besides, I had a feeling M would walk Rose Hill to spare HIS legs, which were way more crampy than mine.  And I'd rather stick with him and walk than drop him when he was hurting.  You know, love and mushy stuff like that.  

So we rode along, through some fun little rollers and down a huge beautiful downhill.  And rode about ⅓ of the way up Rose Hill, and then it started to hurt.  So I climbed off, and walked the last bit.  Then we hopped back on and rode to the rest stop.  

It was a hot day, and that rest stop was serving icees, or slushees, or slurpees, or whatever you call the sugar-filled ice slush.  It was the best stuff I've ever eaten in forever, I had three cups, and I am pretty sure they have all gotten special angel wings in the various heavens of at least 4 religions for their actions that day.  That is all.  

The root beer slushee is magical.  I stopped feeling discomfort (or maybe my butt had finally gone numb?) and I knew it was nothing but rollers all the way back.  

A simple 10 miles later, we were rolling into Indian Head Village Green.  

Now here's the fun thing about being among the last:  (yes, we were)... there's a lot of great stories.  The people who come in dead last are the people who gutted out the ride.  We are the ones who weathered tummy aches, mechanical problems, missed turns.  We are the crowd who fixed two flats or a broken chain in the field.  We are the ones who toughed it out over cramping thighs.  There are really good stories among the last of us, the ones who were showed some grit when it got tough.  

And we were rewarded with hot dogs, and sandwiches, and fruit, and as much ice tea as we could drink.  Thanks to St James Episcopal who kept handing me food until my plate was full.  

All in all, brilliant ride.  I am thrilled to have my road bike century at last.  M has his first-ever century.  No injuries.  No major ride-ending mechanicals.  No trips to any hospitals.  Just hot dogs.  

I think we should do this again next year!  

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.