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
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
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!
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.

July 8, 2012

No WONDER my legs are tired!

Grab a cup of coffee and prepare to set for a spell. This weekend was jam packed!

The weekend started with my favorite: a run in the park. For the past few weeks, my runs have been approximately an hour to an hour and a half. No long runs, just set the timer for half an hour and turn around to retrace my steps when it goes off. They average about 5 miles, 3 to 4 times a week (unless I miss hearing my alarm and accidentally run 6.4 miles).

Don't ask me why I decided in the middle of this heat wave that it was time to start running long on the weekends. It's not like I'm training for a race or anything.

In my usual gung-ho fashion, I first considered setting my timer to an hour. Luckily, I realized the inherent idiocy in running 2x as far as I have been, my first time running long. I opted to set my timer at 45 minutes. I also opted to run the bridle path instead of the paved bike path. I figured the dirt path would be easier on my joints. I did not figure in the increased difficulty of running through the woods as opposed to around them.
The adventure begins!
It was probably 85 degrees when I started. The plan was to run through the shaded woods to stay cool. That did work, for the most part. I followed the path, which surprisingly stayed relatively straight. No landmarks or turns to worry about. Whenever I did encounter another path, I simply chose the wider one and stayed in as straight a line as possible.

Until it no longer became possible.
Dead end!
I had no choice but to take the nearest path veering from this one.
A lot of the terrain looked like this
I did not run every step of the way. I ran most downhills and straight-aways. In the beginning I ran the uphills as well.

About 3 miles in, I ran out of shaded woods.
Like hitting a wall of heat
The field was beautiful. There were butterflies and birds. This is where I ran out of gas, though. The heat sapped it right out of me.

This did not stop me from ignoring my "time-to-turn-around" alarm, which went off at some point after 3 miles. The path went through the field, then around the edge of the woods and along the river, so there was some shade. I decided I would turn around at 4 miles, for a grand total of 8.

It was hot enough, I first tucked my shirt up under my sports bra, then took it off. I'm sure I was a pretty sight for the few people I encountered on the path.

I ran until the blood pounded in my head, walked until the pounding subsided, then ran again. This is what happens when I get overheated. My sinuses swell and I feel every heartbeat reverberate through my skull.

At 4 miles I began retracing my steps, looking forward to shaded woods again.
I think this is where I got turned around. I don't remember the turn that first took me up under the bridge. When I came back out from under it on the way back, the path T'd. I went to the right. Thinking back, I'm pretty sure I should have gone to the left.

I ran ahead, blissfully ignorant of my mistake. I took every wide path, looking to see that the path would have been the straightest choice had I come from the other direction.

At this point I was extremely overheated, enough to consider dunking myself in one of the water crossings. I'd actually started looking for a path down to the river, but it was moving too slowly and had foam on the top of the water. I couldn't bring myself to take that plunge.
Neither deep enough, nor running fast enough
to make me comfortable jumping in
I finally did find a crossing I was comfortable climbing into. I took pictures, but my finger covered half the frame. The water moved quickly, and there was a pool that came up to about mid-calf. I stood there for several minutes, splashing water over my arms and legs, and completely soaking my hair. It made me think of creek-walking as a child, which made me smile. Once my core temperature dropped, I started running again.

I came upon a path crossing I didn't recognize. I couldn't determine which path was wider, nor which would have been the straighter choice. They both curved into the path I'd just come down. I started wondering if I'd taken a wrong turn.

It wasn't long after, I found myself here:
Yes, that's the same dead end from earlier in my run, and I encountered it coming from the same direction.

Now I knew I'd gotten turned around, though I wasn't sure where. I also wasn't sure where I was in relation to my car. I had my iPhone with me. I use it as an iPod and GPS, but it's not connected to a network since we switched carriers. It has GPS, but apparently not a map app (something I've fixed, now). I'd left my real phone in the car. I was effectively lost.

I turned around and headed back the way I'd come... again. I'd crossed a paved path, though I knew it wasn't the main one. It led to a picnic area, which I assumed would lead to a main road. I was correct, and lucky that this particular picnic area also had a map.
By this time I was exhausted, still somewhat overheated, and no longer trusting my brain to work correctly. I studied that map for a good 5 minutes, walked away twice and came back just to make sure I knew where I was going. Then I stopped and asked a nice older couple for directions, figuring they knew the area. They told me to go in the opposite direction from where I thought I should, after studying the map. I was more confused than before, and not looking forward to another couple miles on my feet.

My GPs announced 8 miles as I walked out to the road. Looking in the direction the couple told me to go, I saw a considerable downhill just 30 feet from the picnic area entrance. Looking in the other direction, I thought I recognized an intersection with wooden signs. I decided to take a closer look. As I approached the signs, I saw the path I'd turned off onto last week. I knew where I was! Even better, I knew how to get back to my car. I was right in the first place, after looking at the map. The couple was wrong.

I was no longer running at this point. The bike path was another mile and a quarter, all uphill. When I got back to my car I'd traveled 9.25 miles, nearly 2x my standard run of late and a good 3 miles farther than I've run in a very long time. The car temperature said 95 degrees, in the shade. By the time I got to the freeway, it said 101.

I was supposed to go to my Mom's after my run, to lay a tile border around her kitchen counter tops. After my little adventure, I begged off. I wanted nothing more than a shower, lunch, and a nap.

I didn't nap. After my shower and lunch, I ended up spending the rest of the afternoon driving from place to place to place, trying to find an air conditioner. I'm always late to the party when it comes to air conditioners, and I did not find one in my price range. Just as well, since the heat appears to have finally broken. We didn't even hit 90 today.

Last night I went out singing and dancing with these folks:
Photo credit goes to Superman
This one too.
MoMo and Super Sayan Man were there too. I just don't have pictures. I was too busy wrecking my voice with songs that are >< that much too high for me to sing, and jumping/dancing/making a fool of myself. A fabulous time was had by me!

Once I got up and moving this morning (not the easiest thing after hitting the pillow around 4am), I headed to my Mom's to finally get the tile border done. 4 hours on my feet, going up and down stairs, in and out of the house. It only took one trip to Home Depot today, though at least 2 other trips happened in preparation.

Then I came home and cooked up a storm. I cooked the beans I'd been soaking since yesterday afternoon. I chopped a bunch of vegetables and added the beans and sunflower seeds to make salads for this week's lunches. All I have to do is add the dressing each morning.

I also cooked up my dinner for the week. This particular recipe is reminiscent of the Mother's Messes I made for my kids. Basically, the recipe for Mother's Mess is as follows:

Take whatever you have in the fridge/cupboard.
Throw it all into a pot or baking pan
Add cheese
Cook until done

This mess was layered biscuits, potatoes (boiled and mashed with plain yogurt, with cheddar cheese mixed in), bacon, onion and collards cooked in the bacon grease, and an egg + cottage cheese mixture to bind it all together. Not the healthiest, but wonderfully tasty!

And that was my weekend. Now I"m headed to bed so I can get up and run in the morning on tired legs. We'll see how well that goes. At least it should be cooler.

July 4, 2012

This run dedicated to Dad

I've been thinking about my Dad a lot this week. More than usual, if that's possible.

I happened to drive by the funeral home Saturday, which I don't normally do. It was the last place I saw him, and it made me cry.

I had a programming question from work. In the past I would take that as a reason to call him, whether he could help me with it or not. 

He stole the 4th of July family party from me. At one time we had all the summer gatherings in my back yard. For some reason, my Dad decided one year he wanted the 4th. Even when it moved to Big Bro's house due to construction at his, the party belonged to my Dad. He grilled steaks, burgers, and chicken like it was his job. This year it's back at his house where it belongs, though it will never be the same without him. 

We have video he and my Mom took from their first few years of marriage. The only recent video we have of him is from last year's 4th. He was, as usual, telling a funny story. 

On yesterday's run, I inexplicably turned to run along the railroad tracks. It was not planned, as I don't plan any of my run routes right now. I think I heard the train, hit a red light, and went with it. 

Pictures through plastic on an iPhone = not the best
My Dad and trains are synonymous in my mind. I hear a train, I think of Dad. 

I thought about his home repair projects, including the one I recently completed.

I thought about his career.

I thought about his love of sports, his kids, and of course, trains.

All the while I ran along with this train, which moved slowly down the tracks. The train moved only slightly faster than I ran, almost as if it was leading me on. 

I ran out of my neighborhood. Out of my comfort zone. 

When the tracks veered away from the road I was on, I decided it was time to start heading toward home. Because I hadn't yet heard my "time to turn around" alarm, I instead made a left that would take me in the general vicinity of my neighborhood.

Shortly thereafter, I crossed these:

The train was nowhere to be seen. Gone. Destination unknown.

When I pulled out my phone to take this picture, I realized I missed my alarm. Car and train traffic had apparently drown it out. I don't know when it sounded, but it was certainly before I finished running with the train. Had I heard it, it would have interrupted my memories and brought me out of my reverie.

Standing on those train tracks seemed the perfect circumstance, that I had arrived in that place at that time. That image was exactly what I needed at that moment. I had greeted and embraced the memory of my Dad as I ran with the train. Looking down the empty tracks, I was able to let a little more of him go. 

Instead of turning around, I opted to continue the way I was going and complete a loop to get back home. In the end, I ran a total of 6.4 miles. I'd only planned to run somewhere near 5.

My Dad still influences me. His memory drives me to reach for goals, to succeed, and even to surpass his own accomplishments. He never would have run a single step, not to mention 6+ miles. However, he was indescribably proud that I do. It won't make my decisions for me, but the knowledge that my Dad would be proud will influence me for the rest of my life.

As it should.