September 23, 2012

My red-headed step child

I haven't blogged much lately, because I've been working 10 hour days 5 days a week. I haven't run much lately, because I haven't been feeling well.

I haven't been doing much at all lately, really.

Not my photo
But definitely my fav

Monkey Boy went back to Germany two weeks ago. Before he left, we had a final night out at a local Stir Fry place. I still don't know the exact cause, but my system went fubar that night - enough to make me consider staying home from work the next day (a Friday). I didn't, but it took until the following Wednesday to feel healthy again, and about then I got hit by a mac truck i.e. allergies. I don't like to run with my head all stuffed up. The pressure makes my pulse reverberate against my skull, and I start getting all worried I'll stroke out or something.

Last Monday I felt well enough to run again, and got a good 4 miles in. Tuesday I was up and dressed to run, but when I opened my front door I was greeted with sheets of rain. I don't mind running in the rain. I actually kind of like it... when it's a warm gentle rain, or when I've already put in the better part of my mileage. Heading out into a torrential downpour is not my idea of a good time. I decided this was the exact reason I'd purchased a treadmill, so headed upstairs.

I'm not good at zoning out on treadmills, but I am a sucker for an increased-interval workout. Somehow all my treadmill runs turn into increased-interval workouts. Huh. Wonder how that happens. I actually hit 7 mph - for a 10th of a mile. Then I noticed the rain had pretty much stopped so I trotted my happy butt outside for a speed mile. I didn't make it all the way around my mile circuit, so turned this into intervals as well. Sprint to the next fire hydrant. Walk to the next fire hydrant. Sprint to the next fire hydrant. I love when I feel faaaaast: arms pumping, heels kicking high behind me, hips and torso involved in each stride. I know fast is a relative term, but "as fast as I can go" sure does feel fun!

Because you need a reason?
(source)

Tuesday I also gave blood, which I've only been able to do once before in my life. I keep trying, but there always seems to be some reason the Red Cross doesn't want my blood: I'd been pregnant recently; my boyfriend's sister contracted malaria; my iron was too low... Mostly my iron was too low.

It almost didn't happen this time either. They were doing the blood drive at work, and when I tried to sign up the site wouldn't give me an appointment. I contacted the person in charge, who told me all the spots were full but they could put me on the back-up list. Then, the day before the drive, I got the call! Could I give at 12:30?

Turns out I couldn't!!! They wanted an hour time slot, and I had training at 1:00. I tried to find a time I could switch with someone, but one guy on my team was already scheduled off for his wife's surgery, and the other guy had a meeting right smack dab in the middle of both time slots I maybe could have switched to. I had to bow out. Imagine how pleased I was to find an email in my inbox the next morning, telling me they would take walk-ins. I walked right over! I went through all the questions, waiting for the pinprick and hoping my iron levels were high enough. I was thrilled not to have to sit there and watch my drop of blood drop. They have a machine now, and the machine liked me!

(source)


The next day (Wednesday) I didn't run, because the Red Cross told me no strenuous exercise for 24 hours. Also, I've read blog posts about people who run the day after giving blood. It is never an enjoyable experience.

(source)

About an hour after I started work, I brought the server down for a couple hours. Of course, I didn't realize I brought the server down. Also, I didn't do anything specifically wrong. I used a query in the database I'd never used before, which appeared to run. I didn't write this query. It's one of our stock "use this if you have to do that" queries. The query finished running, but somehow and for some reason it still tied up all the server resources. We started getting clients calling in saying they couldn't access their inventory. I started sending out broadcast messages to Engineering and Management, telling them each new development. About 2 hours later, SaaS came over to my desk and asked me to close down my SQL Server Management Studio. Lo! All of a sudden everyone (included me) could access their inventory again.

I thought the discomfort I felt later was due to lingering stress from dealing with the server issues and being the cause of said issues. My hips ached, which I blamed on the speed work the day before. I went home that night, spent about an hour having dinner with Superman and studying SQL, then crashed.

This is not what I experienced
(source)

I woke up about 2 hours later, and every hour or so after. I could not get warm, even with the heated mattress pad turned on, double blankets, and a very warm Superman to curl up against. The next day I had zero energy, as in I. Could. Not. Sit. Up. I couldn't keep my eyes open. I slept the better part of the day, only fighting to stay awake long enough to eat the soup and crackers Superman brought over for me. I couldn't find my thermometer so I don't know what my temperature was, but I know I was downright miserable. I considered going to the emergency room, but there was no way I could drive. I'm also not big on doctors, so my logic was "this will pass..."

This was not what I experienced either
(source)

Friday I woke up still feverish, sinuses now thoroughly congested, but feeling SO much better than Thursday I was convinced it was probably a 24 hour bug that hung on just a little long. I won't go to work with a fever, but I was able to sit up and work from home a good bit of the day. I don't have a regular doctor, so any thought of making an appointment was instantly 2x as difficult. It would not be my happiest weekend, but I was certain I would be fine by Monday.

So I'm not the brightest crayon in the box. It wasn't until Saturday I realized I might be in trouble. I went about my normal weekend, starting with grocery shopping. It completely wiped me. I got home drained and exhausted. I'd purchased a new thermometer and my temperature was in the 99 range. I'd hoped the fever would have broken by then. My real hope was the fever would break by Sunday morning. I researched the exact amount of my health savings account, and how the account worked. I started thinking I might have to go to the doctor Monday morning and be late for work. Not the best plan since with the new hours it's just me and one other guy on Mondays.

Sunday morning my fever was low grade, but still there. I ran a few errands and realized I might really have a problem. I won't get into the gory details, but there was some level of gore. I looked to see if my old doctor is in plan for my new insurance. As the health insurance site searched, a box came up suggesting I go to urgent care if I had flu-like symptoms. Huh! Now there's an idea! I started searching for nearby urgent cares.

This is DEFINITELY not what I experienced!
(original source)

Long story slightly less long, I now am the proud owner of a partially consumed (by me) Z-Pac. My fever was of course at a low when the nurse took it. The doctor thought I just had allergies, since I'd been taking allergy medication to deal with the congestion. Never mind that allergy medication wasn't really working very well, or that I was completely a vegetable Thursday. Whatev. I got my meds, which is all that really matters. Now comes the slow hard climb out of exhaustion.

Apple Zucchini Oatmeal muffins.
My gluten-free baking skills are improving!

I've been talking the gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free (and now soda-free) talk, but not exactly walking the walk. To show how subversive my mind can be, I congratulated myself on a week of being gluten-free. Then I realized I'd been eating my co-worker's pretzels every day. I decided the dairy free thing was pretty silly. I'd tacked it on at the last minute, because I heard Carrie Underwood say in an interview she felt "less heavy" after going dairy free. How's that for conclusive research? So yeah, cheese and yogurt are again my friends (though cheese at least still has to be in moderation). The soda thing is one I've tried before. I've found a way to happily drink up to 3 quarts of tea a day, so that one final lunch-time soda is going away.

None of this was supposed to be obsessive. Funny how it all feels obsessive...

Speaking of obsessive, I refuse to be obsessive about my blog, either. Working as many hours as I currently am, making my morning runs a priority, it's hard to find time to write. I have to prioritize, and the blog falls a distant 3rd right now. That said, I will not be working these hours forever. I expect to get a promotion somewhere around February-March, which damn well better come with a raise in pay. I expect I'll be working overtime at least until the new year, if only because I can't pay all  my bills otherwise. I'll have a credit card paid off at the end of December though, so that will help.

Until I can devote more time and energy toward this creative endeavor, it will have to limp along with the attention levels given a red-headed step child. I hope that's enough to keep it alive, because I really do like writing here.

I guess only time will tell.

September 9, 2012

Monkey Boy, the neighborhood stalker, and other news

Well hello there! Fancy meeting you here! I know, it's been so long! Who knew life could actually get in the way of blogging? So much has happened, even the condensed version is lengthy. Grab yourself a cuppa joe and come on along for the ride!

First, work:

They say no good deed goes unpunished, and doing a good job means you're given more jobs to do. I don't know if I've mentioned it, but I've been busting my butt at work. I rarely take a lunch. I stay late every day. Where the other 2 guys pick and choose which tickets they take, I routinely take the oldest. This means I get whatever they've left behind. The hard ones. The difficult customers. I also regularly help them through the tickets they have, and sometimes take over the ones they don't know what to do with. If we as a team need access to something, I'm the one getting us access. Getting access invariably means I'm the one doing that particular ticket as well.

The good news is I'm recognized at work for the effort I put in. Management has asked me to attend meetings they would normally ask a Lead to attend, and my boss told me they are aware I've "taken a leadership role."

The bad news is, they have no intention of making me a Lead any time soon, even though I'm already doing the bulk of the work. This is partially due to the fact that I've only been there 2 months. When I told my manager the guys had been asking why I'm not Lead yet, he said they were thinking of putting me on a development path after year end reviews. Year end reviews are somewhere around February. So basically they expect me to do the job for another 6 months without the recognition (which I don't really care about) or pay (which I DO really care about). I told my boss maybe we should think about a development path now. He said he would talk to his boss about it, and we'll see.

So I guess I'll see. I'm not holding my breath, but I'm not letting it go either. I'm having a hard time living on my current paycheck. This is one way to alleviate that issue.

Family:

It's been the summer for family. We've met up with cousins from across town, Hawaii, and Michigan. Two weeks ago, Monkey Boy came to visit!
I spent more time hanging out with him than taking pictures of him...
He was in and out most of time, spending time at both my place and his Dad's. This was expected, and I'm happy I got to spend quite a bit of time with him. Mostly we just hung out. Occasionally we went out to eat, and once to a movie. He'll be back for Xmas and New Years, then not again until he's out of the Air Force a year from now. How does the time fly by so quickly?

The time does fly by quickly. Monkey Boy was home for my annual birthday bash, which I share with Superman because his birthday is 4 days after mine. I'm the older woman, you see. By all of 4 days. I don't have any photos of the party because I was too busy visiting with people I haven't seen, in some cases, for years!

Superman shares my father's birthday. How has it been a year since we threw Dad that fabulous 70th birthday party he almost didn't let us throw for him, and how has it been almost a year since he left us? It boggles my mind.

Running:

I've been running off and on since I last blogged. I learned I have a neighbor who runs. I've taken to calling him my neighborhood stalker, because it seemed for a while every time I went out to run, I ran into him. He appears to be a very nice guy, but I kind of like my solo runs. I also do not have time to chat after my run, because I have to get ready for work. I have a hard time saying no, so I have yet to tell the man this. Instead, I found myself all dressed up to run, and not going anywhere. I didn't want to run into him so I didn't run at all. That's not going to work!

I did do some long runs in the parks on the weekends, both with and without Monkey Boy.

He complained for 2 days that his calves were sore from this run
The deer have been out in force lately. I've had multiple sightings on every trail run.
Can you see them?
No zoom on this photo. I was that close!
I did start running in the mornings again this past week, neighborhood stalker be damned. If I have to I'll put my headphones on and be anti-social. It's so awkward when he lives right across the street!

Eating:

After several weeks of eating like a teenager (i.e. everything in sight), I decided I really need to re-evaluate my food intake. I'm going back to sugar free and gluten free. I'm also cutting out dairy, which is not really much of a stretch for me. Mostly that just means no cheese and no ice cream. Which really doesn't mean NO cheese and ice cream, because I refuse to be obsessive about any of this. I can and will control what comes into my house, what I make for the meals I make. I fully intend to be a bit lax when I'm not doing the cooking. Yes, I can be pretty certain a piece of bread will have gluten no matter who's cooking. I'm a big believer in special occasions meriting special consideration, though. I'm not going to turn down a piece of really good birthday cake, although I might turn down a piece I don't think I'll enjoy. No sense going off the wagon if I"m not going to enjoy it!

I've spent this entire weekend processing food. I chopped up and froze a ton of vegetables left over from last weekend's party. I also chopped up and froze about 10 cups of collards. I planted 4 plants this year, and found I got tired of collards rather quickly. They went and got overgrown since I wasn't eating them, so I had to do something. I gave quite a few to Superman, froze a bunch, and there are still leaves on the plants to donate to my Mom next weekend.

I had to re-trellis my monster tomato plant, which gifted me with 7 more large, almost ripe tomatoes for my trouble. I've re-trellised this thing twice now, and lost a few tomatoes in the process. Next year I'll know to just use the wooden trellis from the start. I apparently have a magic tomato spot, and my tomato plants quickly outgrow the cages I've tried to use the last two years.

While re-trellising my tomato monster, I also strung up a framework for my raspberry patch. I have a raspberry patch and a strawberry patch, both of which have kept me happily in breakfast fruit for the past month and more. I get about a handful of each, every morning.

I also trimmed back my grape vine. I planted this thing two years ago. It got kicked over the first winter, and I didn't think it survived. When it did, I was thrilled to see even the single bunch of grapes it produced. I was slightly less than thrilled to find the birds ate all but one of those grapes. This year the grape vine made up for the single grape I got last year.
This is about half what I harvested
I ended up with almost fifty 1.25 to 1.5 cup baggies, which does not include the quart or so I ate while cleaning and packaging them! I'm thinking of adding a few more trellis to the two I now have, but I'm not sure what I'd do with all the grapes if the vine grows into them. Right now I have a refrigerator drawer full, and a freezer drawer full as well. I've been juicing them, then using the juice to sweeten things like oatmeal and these:
My first ever attempt at canning
Monkey Boy left me a large bag of grapefruit, and I was concerned I wouldn't eat them before they went bad. I've been gathering glass jars to store food in, because glass just keeps food better than plastic. I figured that out when I started making Refrigerator Oatmeal (a large batch of which I also made today). Anyway, getting and using the jars has had me thinking about canning, but I didn't have the jar grabber and thought it was more complicated than it turned out to be. I'll probably eat these a lot quicker, now they're already peeled and spoon-ready. 

To recap, Monkey Boy is now back in Germany, I'm running even though I may yet run into the neighborhood stalker again, I'm going gluten, dairy, and sugar free, and while it turns out I'm something of a farmer I'd rather shoot photos of deer than shoot the deer.

Hopefully it won't be quite so long before I see you again. Thanks for stopping in!

August 19, 2012

There's a war going on up in here!

For the last few weeks, my eating has been out of control. Eating out. Pizza and cookies at work. Ice cream several times. I've been above a comfortable weight since before I started working, but to every over indulgence I said "meh." "Whatever." Inside, a small part of me was screaming "Noooooooo!"

That small part of me fought back this past week, and took my wallet hostage in the process.

I'm quite poor right now. The new job barely pays enough to cover my bills, credit cards, and the student loans which have now come out of deferment. I spent my 401K, my reserves, and my savings being unemployed, and racked up a few credit cards along the way. I cannot afford new toys.

Late Monday night, I found myself once again looking at the Body Media site. You'll remember part of the reason I purchased  a heart rate monitor was because I wanted to know how many calories I actually burn in a day. I chose the wrong heart rate monitor for that. I learned about the Body Media Fit Link from this post, and was instantly fascinated.

Does anyone who knows me not know I am gadget girl? And that I like data? This thing measures your movement, temperature, and electrical conductivity, which helps it track how many calories you burn in a day. It also tells you how well or poorly you slept? Count me in!
I originally thought it kept track of heart rate as well.
I was mistaken.
This thing is also expensive. Count me out! I've been drooling over it since the beginning of August, though. Then Monday happened, and now there's this:
all it took was a coupon and a late night...
I don't know if it's due to the Fit Link device, or the return to running as my main form of exercise (over the P90X and Insanity), but I had a better exercise week than I've had since March. The eating? Meh. At least the last 2 days have been good.

It definitely acts as a reminder that I have goals and I"m trying to do something here. It's not tight, but I'm constantly aware of it on my arm. That may be the best benefit yet.

So the plan now is to run every morning, then roll out and do ab work, push-ups and pull-ups in the time between finishing my run and getting ready for work. The ab work is from the video series. I also do at least one video a week, usually Yoga, stretching, or Kenpo when I'm at Superman's in the morning.

Running every morning. I think I finally figured out what my problem was with running too much or too hard. I've been focusing on making sure my glutes are firing when I run. I ran almost 19 miles this weekend, without injury, hip, or knee pain. I ran more miles this week than I have in any week since March. No pain, other than tired glutes!

In addition, this past week I've  been using the handicap stall in the bathroom at work to do push-ups on the bar. I know. That stall is not for able bodied people. However, we almost never have anyone visit the office who doesn't work there, and no one who works there needs that stall. I'm not comfortable doing push-ups in my cube, and I haven't found a better place. Also, I can't do a real push up yet anyway.

That's about all I'm doing at work, to move. I walk on my little half hour lunch, but I rarely take my little half hour lunch. Mostly I sit at my desk from clock in to at least a half hour and sometimes an hour after I'm supposed to clock out. I get up to go help the other guys, who sit one and two cubes away from me. One of them laughed at me for putting a reminder to stretch on my calendar. Considering how engrossed I get, and how much sitting I'm doing, it's necessary!

As for real life, I'm very excited to see Monkey Boy, who's home on leave starting this coming Saturday. I'm also working on getting everything together for Superman's and my annual birthday bash over Labor Day Weekend. I'm trying to decide if the purchase of several large tissue boxes and ping pong balls will be worth the promised hilarity, if I can get people to participate in my little game.

I'll let you know how that goes!

August 12, 2012

Putting the wheels back on

The last few weeks I've been less and less motivated to move, to follow the exercise program I set out for myself. I would plan out the workout week over the weekend, but only follow a day or two before giving up. This week I didn't even halfheartedly try to follow through toward the end of the week. 

I have all sorts of rationals and reasons why I haven't done what I said. Honestly, they all contribute, but ultimately in every case I could have said "no, I'm going to do this anyway!" instead of "meh, not today..."

I'm putting the wheels back on the bus this week, and doing well overdue maintenance as well. 
Not the bus I had in mind!
(source)
After reading THIS POST, as well as THIS POST, and knowing I have not been able to donate blood for literally decades because my iron is always too low, I added a ferrous sulfate supplement to my regime. I used to be a supplement addict, and would take about 15 pills a day. I'm down now to just a few. Biotin has proven to help with weak and splitting finger and toe nails, which are a result of my auto-immune disease. Vitamin D, my family is historically deficient in. This is even more important now I'm hardly outside anymore because of work. I take 5-HTP because it's supposed to help me sleep better. I'm still a horrible sleeper, so I don't have any concrete evidence this works. I like to think I'm up fewer times in the night since I began taking it though, so there's that. Now I take Iron as well. That, methimazole for the auto-immune disease, and the periodic allergy med is all I take. 

I haven't changed the exercise plan for this week, other than cancelling Monday's morning workout. I have to visit my local bank to see if they can help me reduce my mortgage payments. It seems having a low mortgage because I own a condo instead of a house is a detriment. If I refinance through a large mortgage company, I'll have to pay $500 or so above the higher interest they use to cover closing costs. I don't have $500. I'm told a small local bank can do things the larger finance companies cannot, and I happen to have accounts at our local credit union, so we'll see. 

I've gone back to counting calories. Not in an obsessive "I ate a cracker, I need to record that!" but in planning out my weekly meals. I do all my cooking and preparing food for the week on the weekends. This week I got rid of the crap in my house and started fresh.

BreakfastRefrigerator Oatmeal. Mine is Apple-Pumpkin-Almond Butter with several other additions thrown in (like Bob's Red Mill 5 Grain cereal with flaxseed plus Grape Nuts, instead of oatmeal). Being incapable of following a recipe as written, I tracked everything I threw in using MyFitnessPal's recipe section. It comes out to about 240 calories, 39 grams of carbs, and 13 grams of protein. 

I've been struggling with fuel first thing in the morning. I don't really want to eat when I first wake up, but I need to eat something if I'm going to push myself for an hour or more before work. I made brownies filled with more raisin and date than brownie, but it turns out I don't want cookie first thing after waking up. I tried Clif Bars for breakfast too, but again, no cookies please. I'm hoping the oatmeal will work better. For one thing, it's supposed to be eaten cold. This means I can have a few spoonfuls, put it back in the fridge and do my thing, then eat a bit more if necessary.

Lunch: This is actually little more than a snack. I'm a grazer, and like to snack all day. I mixed up a bean salad with a bit of every dried bean I could find in the store, added sauteed onions and green peppers, then tossed the whole thing with some mild salsa. It's meant to be eaten cold as a grab-and-go I can eat at my desk. This way I have time to walk on my lunch, which is only half an hour anyway. If I don't walk at lunch I barely move from my desk, which is not good.

Snacks: I lean toward a whole food lifestyle, but there are some things I find REALLY hard to go without. I currently have a stash of crackers at work, portioned out carefully so I'm less inclined to binge. I've allotted myself one portion per day, plus 2 portions of grapes as snacks throughout the day. 

On the drive home, if I'm going to run before whatever is on the calendar that evening, I'll have half a Clif Bar. Cookie is ok later in the day. I just have to make sure I portion it out before, or I will eat the entire thing. I really don't need that much fuel for the one or two little miles I'll have time for. I just need to not be starving when I get home, so I'm not eating a big dinner instead of running.

Dinner: This is something along the lines of a Quesadilla, with spinach and mozzarella cheese on a Flatout. I'll cook them in my little sandwich maker so I don't have to butter them up. I've had that thing for years, and don't think I've used it once. It was a gift from the last place I worked, for sticking around 5 years. Because the sandwich is also barely above snack portion in calories, I've added a serving of long grain brown and wild rice. Two snacks = dinner!

Everything is nicely portioned out in my fridge. 
I have no intention of becoming a food blogger, as you can tell from the lack of glossy close-ups of every meal. Because I subjected you to my meal plan and did NOT include pictures, here's one of my little friend who helped me shop.
I found him while in the dairy aisle. He must have been there, hanging on my cart the whole time. After checking out, I made him climb up on my bag, from which he climbed up onto my hand as I walked out to the parking lot. I blew him off onto a bush, figuring he could find his way home from there, and walked home reflecting on good karma. 

August 4, 2012

I believe...

And the angels sang...
(source)
I believe...
I believe if I run frequently, I don't have to take my thyroid medication.
Because of the above, I tend not to take my medication. Problem is, I haven't been running much lately. My runs have also been increasingly piss poor, which of course does not entice me to run more. I blamed allergies and the heat. Why did it take until my run this morning to remember yet again that my thyroid issue is the result of an AUTO-IMMUNE disease? What are allergies? A reaction by the immune system to protect your lungs/body from foreign objects in the air. What happens when my immune system goes haywire? I experience increased allergic reactions, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure...

I believe...
I believe my fatigue of late is due more to my thyroid issue than the workouts I'm doing.
I haven't been running much lately because I'm really liking the P90X and Insanity workouts (though more the former than the latter). I'm still tweaking the schedule to fit in as much as possible, but I don't have time to do everything. Running fell by the wayside in lieu of sleep.

I've been sleeping a lot lately. 8 and 9 hours a night, which is insane for me. I usually wake up on my own after 7 hours. I thought at first this was because I'm working out more, but in reality that's not the case. I blew off 3 days of workouts this week so I could sleep in.

I think, because I'm not medicating and I'm not running, my body is working overtime. I'm reminded of Char, a blogger from Australia who writes My Life's a Marathon. Char has been struggling for about a year with what (if I remember correctly) was diagnosed as over-training. She would get physically ill from running. She would also get incredibly fatigued. She would actually NEED a nap in the middle of the day. The cure for her has been to keep an eye on her heart rate while she runs. She's not allowed to let it get too high, or she pays the price later in the day.

My heart rate runs very high when I'm not medicated or running (as has been the case of late).

I believe...
I believe there's a way to do it all.
This past week's schedule was built around the idea that I don't do well waking up before 7am. I also found things like housework were not getting done on the previous week's schedule. I cut the pre-workout run so I could wake up a little later, and also keep the cats from pissing on my carpet because their littler boxes weren't cleaned.

I hoped to make up those morning runs after work and on the weekend, but running after work has yet to happen. I almost never leave work when I'm supposed to. By the time I get home I'm starving, I now have 3 days of standing 8-o'clocks, and the heat has been oppressive.

I think I figured out a way to run in the evenings. It will take planning and preparation. I'll have to pre-pot, as my Wow friends say. I already do some of this by preparing my meals on the weekend, so I just have to grab the appropriate tupperware at the appropriate time.
This takes care of the heat problem. Amazon.com is amazing. Who knew you could order air conditioners delivered to your doorstep (or Superman's doorstep, as the case may be). I bought 2, and can now run in the comfort of my own home. Ish. Treadmill running will never be my favorite, but it will work for the time being.

The evening runs have to be non-negotiable, like brushing my teeth or taking a shower. Otherwise I end up taking medication I don't want to take, that costs more what with the Dr. visits and testing involved in obtaining said medication.

This week's schedule looks something like this:


Today's run was supposed to be 8 miles, with another 8 miles tomorrow. That didn't happen, and is not going to happen. I took my thyroid medication yesterday morning, last night, and again this morning, and I still felt the effects of the disease. I've let it get out of hand, which is a huge no-no.

I believe...
I really like the iFitness Belt, even though I didn't think I would.
I decided to run the park near my house. The park is only 2.5 miles, but I figured I could do two 4-mile loops, stopping back at my car for a fresh bottle of water and fuel if necessary.

I've had the iFitness belt for quite a while, but never tried it because I equated it with the water bottle belts I've used and hated in the past. This is nothing like those. It is elastic and fits snugly so it doesn't bounce around. I only used it to hold my phone and keys, so it was almost unnoticeable.

I'm very much liking carrying a water bottle as opposed to the camel back. My back can breath. I can pour water over my head of necessary.

I found myself on Energizer Bunny's favorite trail (or at least one of them) for the first half of my run.
I like how only the right half of this picture is in focus. At least it gives you an idea of the terrain I encountered. I knew it would be hills, since that is the definition of this park. I didn't know how the hills would tire me out. I ran 4 miles and decided I did not want to run another 4. I walked them instead.
Maybe climb would be a better word. I found this path and couldn't resist.
This was halfway up, when I had to stop and take a break.

I'll be out again tomorrow. I've changed the ambitious goal to 6 miles instead of 8. Those will not be on the park hill, either. The rest of the week looks like this:
The times are relative, and this does not reflect the evening runs I'll be doing. Also, the yoga is a placeholder since Superman and I have not yet cashed in the Groupon. Hopefully that will happen soon, though it may wait until September when he's no longer working the bike shop. I'm not a fan of either stretching or ab work right now, even though I know it's important and good for me. Case in point, I haven't done the stretching yet for today, and I'm about to sign off and get ready for a party...

July 29, 2012

I can't hang, but I'm hangin' in there

When I left you all last week I was setting out on an optimistic adventure of insanity. I'd worked out a schedule of 30 minutes running, followed by an hour of either Insanity or P90X every morning. Thursday had an hour and a half of yoga with no run. Saturday would be a long run, followed by an hour of stretching.

I created a 4 week schedule: 3 weeks hard and heavy, plus a step-back week of lighter recovery-type workouts. I planned to basically go through the motions at first, focusing on getting to know the workouts and not hurting myself in the process. Getting to know the workouts is a misnomer, since I'll repeat very few of them this month. I should really say something along the lines of "get an idea what I'm in for." I have several workouts to choose from for each muscle group, which is how I have the week divided. The schedule is still evolving (and subject to change based on real life events), but looks something like this:
I just added the PM workouts Friday. They started out as additional miles toward my 1K goal, but that darn life thing makes evening running difficult. The ab workouts don't take as long, and I need core strength as much as I need additional mileage anyway. Also, I need more stretching than I originally billeted. I believe if I stretch more I will hurt less, both from exertion and from being broken. I'll have to get the mileage in either by running faster in the morning, or by running longer on the weekends. I can and will occasionally fit an evening run in (like tomorrow, before my new standing Monday evening event begins next week). I might also be able to throw down a speed mile or two here or there on the treadmill, depending on if I actually get off work on time (which hasn't been happening).

Not surprisingly, this past week's schedule didn't exactly play out as planned. I am much weaker than I like to think, specifically in the upper body and trunk area. Duh. That's why I'm doing this insanity. I'm also broken, which I have to keep in mind and work around.

Monday I woke up knowing how to fix a leak that had water coming into my basement, so since it looked like rain I did that instead of my run. After, I did P90X Chest and Shoulders with my wimpy little 1lb weights. I didn't want to hurt my back right off the bat, and I didn't know what to expect. This week I'll be using the 5lb weights.

Back when I was in Tae Kwon Do, I could do tons of push-ups. Right now I can't even do them well on my knees, and did not do all the ones in this program. I probably would have done a little better if I hadn't played with my new 5lb weights the day before (thank you again, Aunt Gertie!).

Tuesday I ran 2 miles. I planned to do the Plyometric Cardio + an ab workout, but found I really only had time for the cardio. I'm not good at plyometrics, which is basically a lot of jumping around. I also don't have the right shoes. My running shoes are all minimalist, which means not a lot of cush or support for jumping. I do have one pair of shoes with more cushion, which I will try this week. I am not inclined to purchase yet another pair of shoes at this point, so if those shoes don't work I may not be doing a lot of the plyometrics. I was able to get a pretty good workout without the jumping, but that's mainly because I'm so woefully out of shape.

Wednesday I also got in 2 miles, then did a legs and back workout.
My new toy
I've wanted a pull-up bar for quite a while. I've wanted to be able to do pull-ups for probably 20 years. When I saw the P90X back workout required one, instant gratification girl went right out and got one. I'm pretty pitiful, but I have fun playing just about every time I pass it in the hallway.

Thursday's have an hour and a half of yoga on the schedule. This is the P90X version, which gets rather advanced. I didn't even get through half of it, though I probably would have been ok if I'd stuck it out and modified what they were doing. The first 3rd of the video is a lot of variations on sun salutation, which means you're down on the floor, then up on your feet, then down, then up, then down, then up... I couldn't get back up as quickly as they could, so my stretches were rushed and I was frustrated.

Thursday's video also broke me for a short while. There's a portion where you're in downward dog, you swing your leg up behind you, stay there for a moment, then come through into runner's stretch. Every time I swung my leg up behind me, my lower back popped. I was aware of the popping, but didn't think too much of it until later that day at work. If you remember this post, I recently had an issue where something was pinched or pulled or something in my groin. Well that's what happened again. Whatever popped apparently inflamed something, and something pulled or pinched in a way that made walking quite difficult.

I realized, while walking was difficult and painful, the longer I walked the easier it became. This is why Friday I went for a walk instead of running and doing the workout on my schedule. I walked about 2.5 miles, and was almost normal by the time I got home. Unfortunately this did not fix the issue, and I was quite uncomfortable every time I stood up throughout the day. I spent a lot of time trying to stretch the area out, which helped a little. It wasn't until Saturday morning I thought to use my Rumble Roller to try working out some of the other kinks from the week. That somehow did the trick and I was able to walk pain free!

I had a long run on tap, but was not inclined to tempt fate with the groin issue, even if it was feeling better. Also, Friday night I got a text from Energizer Bunny, saying she and a portion of her brood would be at my local pool Saturday morning for a swim meet. My local pool is literally the other side of my back yard, so I couldn't not go!
My niece in the orange cap, getting ready to swim backstroke
My nephew has a sweet freestyle stroke
I spent the morning walking back and forth and all around the pool area, following and chatting with Energizer Bunny. This was a far better workout than a long run, considering the state I was in.
Can you tell we're sisters?
Last night was a karaoke night, which did not involve anywhere near the amount of dancing I usually do. It was fun though, with Goddess and Mo Mo.

Today I spent cooking up a mess of pasta with garden tomatoes, making my own little version of hummus with a variety of beans + pesto, and taking another stab at a cliff-type energy bar. Except I just now realized I forgot the protein powder.

Brownie mix with 1 cup sugar free applesauce instead of oil, and 1 egg. 2 cups chopped mixed nuts (no peanuts since I'm allergic), 2 cups chopped dates. 2 cups chopped raisins. 1 cup instant oatmeal. 1/2 cup flax seeds. 1/4 cup chia seeds. Bake in mini muffin tins for about 25 minutes.

I've been trying to find a quick, easy fuel source for my early morning runs. Clif bars are too much for me that early in the morning, but lately my runs have petered out at about the 2 mile mark and I think it's a fueling issue. These are about two bites, small enough I can eat one just before I head out the door. They are mostly healthy, and have enough fuel for a short run. I can then eat another when I get home to fuel the 2nd portion of my workout.

July 22, 2012

Insanity as a lifestyle

The week of insanity is over. As Dr. J, Aunt Gertie, and my Long Lost Cousin +1 head toward their respective homes, those of us who live in the eye of this week's storm are slowly working toward recovering a sense of normalcy. It will take me a few days to catch up on sleep and get all the chores done that got pushed aside to visit here or there.

I loved having Ninja Teddy Bear visit for the week. We caught up and had fun hanging out. A week is a good length of time for a visit. By about the 5th day I find I'm longing for the peace and quiet of my usually empty house. I still enjoyed his company, and my guess is the constant stream of activities exacerbated the feelings of claustrophobia. We've decided he'll come and visit for a week again some time relatively soon. Just not this month.

Most of us refused to make any concrete plans, preferring to go with the flow, but in the end the run-down of the week went something like this:

Sunday: The Paleontologist's 5th birthday party, which I only attended the adult portion of. I told you about this earlier in the week.
Image (and stegosaurus hat) courtesy of Mom
lorrieknitsandsews
Monday: Dinner at my Aunt B's, which I did not attend. I figured by the time I arrived after work, people would be starting to think about leaving. It didn't quite turn out that way, but at least my staying home meant Long Lost Cousin didn't have to meet everyone at once.

Tuesday: Dinner with Long Lost Cousin +1.
Image also courtesy of Mom
lorrieknitsandsews
I don't remember the last time Long Lost Cousin came into town. Rather, I remember the time frame, but I didn't remember him. It was wonderful to meet and get to know him and his friend.

Wednesday: Aunt Gertie and I met up with Long Lost Cousin +1 and Aunt B for another dinner out.This was my chance to get to know Long Lost Cousin better, as the head count was smaller. This turned out to be an adventure finding the restaurant, and then another adventure finding our way home. I think I missed every single exit I was supposed to take to get us home, which turned an hour drive into 2 hours, at least.

Thursday: Cousin K's baby shower was out at Aunt' B's. Again, because I work later in the day, it didn't make sense to drive over an hour to get there, only to stay an hour or so before turning around to drive home.

Friday: Long Lost Cousin +1(who will have a better nick name next time I talk about them), visited other relatives, so my siblings and I got together at Big Bro's. It was not the full group, and did not turn out the way I'd hoped, but still nice to catch up and visit. Sometimes it's weird hanging out with family, almost as if I didn't grow up with these people.
Dr. J, courtesy of Superman
Saturday: Nephew VMan's high school graduation party.
I have to find names for so many people now!
Cousin, Mom (in pink) Aunt B, Big Bro.
Best pic yet of Long Lost Cousin
who has a brother, so I really need to come up with a better name!
The party boy/graduate, VMan
Now that the week of insanity is over, I'm planning on adding another insanity back into my life. I ate out a lot this week, since apparently that's how my family prefers to gather. I also didn't work out at all, after a failed run attempt on Monday. Every other morning when I would be running, I was trying to catch up on sleep from staying up too late and not sleeping well in the heat. Even after I thought I caught up on sleep, I found myself exhausted and not wanting to get up in the morning. Hopefully an early bedtime today will set me straight.

I'd better get set straight, because tomorrow I start the Beachbody Insanity program again. I'm actually going to mix it up with some P90X workouts as well. The Insanity is a lot of plyometrics, which is jumping around. The P90X uses weights and is less... active? That's not the word I'm looking for. Dynamic is probably better. They both are very hard core workouts. They both are very different types of workouts.

Thanks to Energizer Bunny and Aunt Gertie, I'm obsessing. I know it didn't go well for me last time I tried Insanity, but I think I've got a better handle on what I'm capable of now. I also think a wide, varied range of workouts will help keep me from getting injured. I still don't want to give up running, so I'm working out a schedule that lets me do everything (that doesn't sound like me at all, does it?). My mileage will drop off as I get further into the Insanity, mainly because I only have so much time to dedicate to exercise. I'll figure out what to do about that later, once I see how this goes. I'm a little concerned about making my 1K goal this year, which I haven't given up on yet, but I figure I'll be able to run longer distances once I build muscle and strength with this program. We'll see how that pans out. If everything works out as planned, I'll be doing variations of this program for a long, long time.

The schedule also has one day a week dedicated solely to stretching, which I think will help tremendously to stave off injuries. In addition (because I'm nothing if not all in) Superman and I have a Groupon for 6 months of yoga (1 class per week), which we should be starting soon. I've tweaked the schedule so I can yoga on the one rest day, and have another stretching + workout day about halfway through the week.

I'll let you know how it goes.

July 17, 2012

The week of insanity begins!

All photos credited to Superman (except the ones I say are mine).

The week of insanity started off Saturday night, with Super Sayan Man's birthday. We met at TGIF and ended at karaoke. Go figure!
Superman likes to get all artistic with the light.
He does this well.
Finding a song at the new (to me) karaoke joint
The birthday boy!

Sunday morning, Superman and I were supposed to take our first yoga class. We purchased 20 classes each, for less than $2.50 per class, from Groupon. The deal is we have to use them within 6 months of the first time we go, though, which means we have to commit to going every week. So far, the schedule has not been conducive to that commitment, so we keep pushing back the start date. We have until October to start, and I'm beginning to think that's exactly when we will.

While we were not attending yoga, my nephew (The Paleontolgist) celebrated his 5th birthday at the park. Luckily for me, this was one of two parties. He celebrated with family later in the day.

I'll let the pictures tell the story:
My long lost cousin T and her new husband
with Superman in the background!
T's sister Lizzie
T & Lizzie's dad
I took these last 3 photos on my cell phone, to add them to the newly acquired contact information I'd just received. These are the "Parma People," for whom I don't yet have nicknames. The Dad is the son of my grandmother's brother, on my father's side. To us, they are just "family" and possibly "cousins." We lost track of them probably 30 years ago, and have only recently become re-acquainted.

Aunt Gertie rode the motorcycle in from Florida,
arriving Saturday evening.
The birthday boy!
Captured!
And flying!
Sister EB got in on the flight action, too
It's never dull, our family gatherings!
Yesterday the family went out to my Aunt's to meet a cousin from my mother's side, whom we haven't seen in 25 years. He lives on the other side of the country, so that is a little more understandable than the Parma People situation. Starting work at 10am rocks, but getting off at 6:30 makes meeting up an hour or more away just a little difficult. I would have arrived at dinner about when everyone was starting to think about getting home. Actually from what I hear it wasn't quite like that, but it still would have been an hour+ drive, to stay an hour+, to turn around and drive an hour+ home. Luckily, this cousin is in town for the week, and I will meet him tonight at another dinner.

I could say the festivities have screwed with my running, but that would be a lie. Well, maybe yesterday's run I can blame on the party food from Sunday. Today's lack of run I'm blaming on the heat which kept me from sleeping most the night. At this point I'm calling this a "step-back" week and not pushing myself to run. I've been building mileage the last few weeks, and while that mileage is not considerable by anyone's measure, my body begs to differ. I will still run this week, but not long and not hard. At least until Saturday, when I fully intend to attempt another 10 miler. I know you can't wait to hear all about THAT.