Thursday, August 21, 2014

Vacation! And The Triathlete Overplans

Having realized earlier this month that I was about to head into program year having taken approximately zero of my vacation, I figured it was high time the boss made herself take that vacation!  It's a stay cation, mostly, with perhaps a few solo day trips, and perhaps one camping trip if I can talk M into a spontaneous camp out.

With Nation's coming up in a few weeks, I'm feeling better than I have all summer (who knew that food could make you feel good, eh?), but also woefully undertrained.  I felt so low energy and miserable all summer because of the Idiot Nutritionist's goals that I skipped a lot of training days, sleeping away hours in the afternoon.  (Yeah, not cool, really.)

I know I can't make up lost training time this close to the race, so I've been working REALLY hard these last few weeks on cardio in order to do a good healthy taper.

During taper, I'm going to focus on flexibility and strength.  I am going to set a goal of 5-6 Barre3 workouts a week (15-30 minutes in length, focusing on the flexibility and strength ones. There's even several just for runners!).  I always find that being flexible and strong increases my endurance as much as hours on the bike do.

I am also going to do my nutrition coach proud and eat the healthiest damn diet ever.  She has given me recipes for protein pancakes and salads... and I am going to eat so many veggies this vacation!  And drink so much water!  Usually I go into a tri completely puckered up from the sugar overload, but I had a chance to experiment with some new nutrition this year, and I am pretty sure I know how I will eat during the race.  (Picky bar before, Hammer gels and Powerbar Perform on the bar, and whatever liquid Gatorade-like-beverage we get on the run course).  I've learned that my post-e.Coli tummy prefers to not eat anything really solid on the bike or the run right now.

Since I feel my race day nutrition is OK (if not exactly dialed in at this point), I'm going to focus on my day-to-day nutrition, which quite frankly is the bigger challenge for me right now.  I need to really learn how to eat healthy, without dairy, and getting sufficient balances of protein, fat, and carbs... all out of whole foods.

Also over vacation:  I'm going to be using a wedding honorarium to replace few totally worn out clergy shirts (one ripped across the back seam after ten years!) with some cute jersey ones, and I'm going to buy a new work bag for when I need a nice bag to carry around town but want something smaller than luggage.  I'm a little obsessed with finding good things- I don't like to shop, so I take FOREVER to buy something.  Then I keep it forever and ever until the straps literally fray through and my previously perfect work bag crashes into oblivion.  Farewell, O Bag.

I'm also collecting swatches of fabric: M and I are picking out fabric for our upholstery project.  Neither of us has ever done upholstery, so why not start with a full size sofa?

We've also been given tickets to the Nats and the ballet, so we are getting all sorts of culture over the next few weeks.

Expect to see a slew of boring posts about taper training, salad eating, and how the ballet was!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Big Swim, Hard Run, Eat Food.

I did my weekly Big Swim at the Wilson Pool on Monday.  It was delightful.  M was off to a meeting elsewhere, so I walked from Georgetown to the pool.  Considering that I'd been lazing around all day, the lengthy walk (about 2.5 miles) was both comfortable and necessary.

Once I got to the pool, I changed and went for the slow lane.  (The medium lane was pretty full).  I had the very unique experience of catching and passing people on the swim!  This is the first summer that everything really seems to be coming together on that swim, so being able to fight to catch a stronger swimmer's feet (usually M's.  He's fun to chase!), or to pass a swimmer, is something entirely new to me!  Still, it only happens when all elements have pulled together, which doesn't always occur.  I'm definitely very aware of the times when I am positioned correctly and catching the water, and when I slack on my form and positioning.  I don't think I have seen the end of my arm drills and kick board drills.  But it is kind of cool to feel water rushing by my legs when I kick!

I owe huge thanks to Judy from Oregon who coached me in swimming last year, and totally helped me correct some of the worst defects in my stroke!  I was kicking like I was riding a bicycle, and she helped me learn to kick like a dolphin.  I hope she's back into her own groove, too!

Yesterday, I squeaked out time for a run.  Being short on time (it was after 5 and I had a meeting at 7!) I opted for the short and intense version of the workout.  If you can't do your planned training, it's beneficial to go out super hard and short to get SOME benefit.

Sadly, my phone app didn't work like I thought it would, so I don't have my splits.  But based on feel, I would not be surprised if I held down a 9 minute (or even sub 9!) mile for the first 1.5 miles, and then held at least a 9:45 for the last 1.5 miles.  I know I was out for just about 30 minutes, and that the route was just over a 5K, and that the last half is pretty much uphill.  I was really pushing it!

Then I went to my meeting, where we were promised food.  That is when I realized that what I mean by "food" is not what others mean by "food", because they aren't training for a big race!  So I had had my lunch (a nice big salad with beans and pita), and nothing else, because I figured on a big dinner.

The meeting had delicious grapes, nuts, and crackers-and-cheese (of course I couldn't eat the cheese!).  It was a very good and productive meeting, but I couldn't wait to get out of there... I made a beeline to the grocery store, where I probably had the most hangry shopping experience ever!  I started at the spaghetti sauce thinking I'd get sauce to make pasta and sauce (which was a great idea).

Then I thought it would take too much time to boil water and make pasta.  So I revised that plan to vegan pizza.  The store did not have any vegan pizza, and then I started thinking it would take too long to heat up pre-made pizza.  (Yeah, it was getting bad).  That explains ENTIRELY how I ended up with vegan "buffalo wings" and marinara, because they took 2 minutes in the microwave and if I didn't eat RIGHT NOW I was literally about to starve to death in my kitchen, whimpering to a hungry end.

I also ate some veggies.

It was not my proudest moment in nutrition, but I do accept that I allowed myself to get far too hungry!  I need to eat snacks before I am hungry, or else I eat chicken nuggets.  That being said, vegan chicken nuggets are probably not the worst thing I could eat, hopefully.

But I'm definitely going to be making the normal pasta and sauce today for my supper.

I'm also wearing my compression socks and taking today as a cardio rest day.  I'm planning a bike ride for tomorrow, and considering that I am behind on nutrition, I want to give my body a chance to catch up.  This summer has been so rough that I think a little TLC is okay right now, especially this close to the end.

(Incidentally, due to a late meeting today, I am going to be cooking at church, so I can avoid fighting the traffic!  Such is clergy life at times.)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Gleaning the Library: Empty Space in Life

This summer, I've been working on a big project: I'm gleaning my work and personal libraries.  

I always thought I wanted to be the person who had the walls and walls of books in her house, and my dream house as a kid always included a library with a skylight and a fireplace, which would open onto the solarium.  (Preservation was less important than possession, I guess!)  

As I've worked through grad school and gotten more established in my career, I hung onto all my books.  This last move totaled more than 37 boxes of books, between the two of us.  

Yet as I watched the movers huffing up three flights of stairs, and as I later squirreled away the books in my new place, my anxiety just spiraled up.  Quite aside from my fear that one of movers was going to drop dead of a heart attack mid-job, I realized that my philosophy of holding onto ALL THE BOOKS wasn't consistent with the way I was living my life now.   

Ironically, every single book has been opened, and at least parts of it read.  So none of these were books that I bought and didn't read.  It's just that, for many of them, I felt I had gotten my fill out of them.  

My rule for the rest of my house is that if I haven't touched or used it in a year, it goes out.  If I really truly love it or if it's an heirloom, it may stay.  It helps me keep my stuff pared down and easier to pack for my many moves.  More importantly, it gives me breathing space.  I love the feeling of being able to come in and just do something in the house because the space is clear.  I like seeing open space on top of a table.  Or just a single item on the mantle.  I am far from a minimalist... but I am finding that I am resonating with the need to own less STUFF in order to have more room, mentally and spiritually.  

I began the project thinking I'd sell all the books to Amazon.  Until I learned that Amazon won't take most of them, and of those they will take, I'd get pennies on the dollar.  Yes, there are thousands of dollars invested in the books over the years.  But I realized that I was happier to get the weight of the books out of my life via a nearby book donation program than I was waiting for any money to come from them.  The open, breathing feeling I am getting with every shelf I glean down from double packed to single rows is worth its weight in gold.  

I've been scanning my old notebooks and making an annotated bibliography of books that I am "on the fence" about.  That way, I guess I can feel confident that I can find the resource again if I need it, and in the meantime, it is taking up just organized electronic space.  I can let go of the physical weight.  ANd far from making me more anxious that I'm losing a resource, I am finding it is like magic: releasing my long-held anxiety with each book I let go of.  

We got rid of an extra car this year, because we wanted to live lighter on the earth.  We live in a flat instead of renting a house because we like smaller spaces.  I guess my childhood dream of the solarium-library has changed.  Somewhere in the last few years, it faded away and was replaced by small, open spaces.  

How does this relate to triathlon?  Well, it's not very sporty.  I wonder if, perhaps, in this year of recovery after having e.coli, if maybe the e.coli did more than just destroy my ability to digest dairy.  Maybe it also changed my perception of what I had to have around me in life in order to feel like I had enough, and was happy.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

I Fired The Nutritionist

You probably saw this one coming. 

After getting home from the horrible bike ride, I got in touch with a friend who is a tri coach- in fact, we met when she also lived in Eugene and owned the tri shop and ran the tri club we went to.  I told her about my nutrition woes.  She looked at my plans from the Fancy Nutrtionist.

Short story: my meal plan was only well balanced and ample, if you are a lethargic flea.  There was just no way I could have met my quotas or sufficiently fueled my body eating that way. At the end of the day, I was clocking in at around 1200-1300 calories... My doctor's had an RD whose starting suggestion had been 2000.

So I hired my tri friend to help me learn proper nutrition, and for the last week, I just ate what I wanted. I ate the protein pancakes she suggested for breakfast, because they are yummy.  I ate salads and nuts because I like salads and nuts. I ate apples and peanut butter.  I had a few pita sandwiches.  And I have myself a week off from tracking.  And weighing myself.  

I've got issues with control, and with controlling eating, and ultimately, a lot of what I was having to do with the nutritionist was just triggering a lot of very scary and uncomfortable behaviors for me.  That's just not a good place to be.  Very happily, my tri friend also has been through eating issues, and she knows how to help me be healthy without getting trapped in a cycle.  

I did a run, and two swims, and a few barre workouts.  I helped a friend paint her house.  Mostly, I walked a lot.  And I didn't track any of it, although I let my Shine track it for me.  I was disappointed to not get very many points for house painting! M points out that I was mostly just standing or sitting while I did cut ins.  I tried to explain that even though I was sitting, I was sitting on the roof of a house!  

That  should count for more, right? 

By yesterday, I realized that for the first time in months I was home from work and didn't feel like taking a giant mega nap.  I hadn't needed a nap for a few days, actually.  

Firing the nutritionist was probably the best thing I've done this summer.  I just hope I can salvage enough of the season so I can race this race and not just finish it! 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A High and Low Week

 I'm rather conflicted about the total outcome of this week, and am even conflicted about my cats' efforts to be around me.  They are being very cuddly, which either means they want me to feel better or they want me dead.  It's hard to tell with cats.  I think it may be the former, as I got them new cat food and a special toy that gets filled up with catnip.

Anyway.  I have two highs for the week.

My first was a really good swim at the Wilson pool, and a few other swims at the apartment pool.  I feel like some things are coming together in my swim, which is nice, given the limited amount of swimming I'm able to do.

My other high was finally- finally!- getting my toy- the Misfit Shine.  I'd been saving my pennies for a few months, and was excited to get my toy!  I love toys. I have the Cobalt Blue one.  I especially like that I can hide it.  I've hidden it so far for a bike ride and for church, so I could track secretly without it being a big deal. But it's pretty enough to wear out, as well. So far, I've hit my goal every day, and so far, I really like that it's helping me be honest about whether I'm being active enough.

My lows were big ones.  I think they are both nutrition related.  I've been working with a nutritionist since May, and I just don't think it's working out for me.  I feel like I'm spending hours debating what and when and how to eat, and I almost never meet the quotas I'm supposed to eat.  This is making me highly anxious and deeply frustrated.  I like to Get Things Right, so consistently failing day after day upset me so much.  I feel crummy and exhausted and kind of queasy pretty much all the time.  I've heard of "low carb flu", but the nutritionist hasn't told me to be aware of anything like that.  So if I'm supposed to be feeling crummy for a few weeks, she hasn't mentioned it.  Honestly, I'm finding more information about low-carb eating and PCOS diets off the freakin' internet, and that bothers me.  A lot.  Especially when I ask if there are any books or resources I should be reading.

My other low was an epic low.  I had a really, really, really horrible ride on my beloved BMC.  I almost feel like Gilad from LifeCycle will come take my bike away, I suck so much right now.

I went out on one of my new favorite bike rides- the Anacostia hills.  The first week, at least I completed it.  Yesterday was perhaps the worst ride I've had since the e.Coli was at its worst- I couldn't even make it out of the District with the group.  I just had zero juice in my legs.  There was one gradual incline that I was grinding away at about 6MPH on.  That's slower than my running pace!  And on a road that was all but flat!

After about 25 minutes, this killer feeling of nausea and light-headedness had come over me, which would dog me for the rest of the ride.  It was so bad that I was walking hills and fighting back the pukes (and perhaps crying a little too.  I'm telling you, it was bad!).  We got to the Cemetery which has a few loops... and I felt like I was swimming in a thick molasses sea- I was so anxious I could barely breathe.  I couldn't turn the pedals over.  I couldn't will my bike up the hills.  My hands were shaking with tremors.

I love my bike.  I love to ride.  I love the freedom I feel when I ride.  I've never felt like this before- almost panicky.  (And the tremors were freaking me out.  But I didn't want to tell anyone because I was feeling paranoid that they'd make me stop riding.  Paranoia- also not like me!)

M started asking me what I wanted to do, and trying to make decisions felt like I was trying to do trigonometry in my head- it hurt!  I may have gotten angry and snappy.  Poor M- trying to reason with the hysterical angry girl who was busy yelling at him.  (Dude probably should have stopped in Eastern Market and forced me to eat a sandwich...)  Finally, I opted to bail on the ride before the end, as I was beginning to be afraid I wouldn't be able to hold down the puking any longer.  (In the end, there was no puking on the bike yesterday.)  

I went home, where M made us tuna sandwiches (of which I inhaled two, at a speedy that is sort of terrifying and also so, so sad).  And then I went to bed and slept for three hours.  And that is just NOT normal!

Let's not dwell on my dinner of a vegan meatball sub.  By that point, my body was just screaming "CARBS, SWEET JESUS, GIVE ME CARBS YOU F**KER!"  After the vegan meatball sub, the lightheadedness and nausea finally, blissfully, resolved.

I felt awful, because I was still trying to obey the nutritionist, who commanded me to not eat extra food.  And usually, I'm REALLY GOOD at controlling my intake.  But I just didn't WANT to control things anymore.  

I hate feeling like crap in general, but I especially hate feeling like crap when I'm working hard to feel better.  I've accepted that this year is going to be a rehab year, but seriously, several months into working hard, I should be stronger and faster.  And all the nutritionist stuff has done has gotten me incredibly frustrated, slower than ever, and three pounds heavier.  I hate feeling like I'm dragging the group down.

So the nutritionist is about to be my former nutritionist, and I'll be starting work with someone else very soon.  I know I need help to figure out my PCOS and dairy issues.  But this was so obviously not the answer.

I'm just sorry that I had to learn that on a bike ride.  This particular epiphany has tarnished my happy place.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Ultimate in First-World Problems

Today I faced a giant First World Problem.  Have you heard of those?  They're things like "I hate it when the wireless router doesn't reach all the way to the couch in my dorm" or "It's the WORST THING when Starbucks is out of my favorite breakfast sandwich".  A First World Problem doesn't hurt us- it's just annoying and inconveinient.  In the grand scheme of the universe, it's pretty small potatoes.  A FWP is the sort of thing that I think my paramedic big brother could kick some sense into me about.  

So for a few months, I'd been saving my pennies to purchase a fitness monitor.  You know those.  They are the little devices people wear which tell them if they are doing enough exercise.  Quite frankly, it will keep me honest.  My default mechanism is to do, say, two pushups, "OOOOONE!  TWOOOOOO!  Oh, wow, good workout.  Man, I'm beat now."  So a little robot drill sergeant living on my wrist sounds like a good idea to me. 

I opted to buy the Shine.  Every monitor had good points and bad points, so it came down to what I thought was the prettiest.  I'm a girl, and might have some crow genes.  SPARKLES!! PRETTY!  That was the Shine, far and away.  All that remained was to pick the color. 

This is where the FWP kicked in.  

Target had Shines, and their website showed a pretty color called Wine.  PRETTY SPARKLE DEEP RED!  Ooooooo!!  I ran down to the nearest Target on my lunch hour, where they had Shines but not Wine color.  Boooooooo.  The nice clean employee told me that the Target in Seven Corners had two Shines in the Wine color.  So I went back to work, answered email and phone calls, and debated out loud (to the amusement of my coworkers) whether I should go to Seven Corners (wasting gas and energy and time) to get what is essentially a toy. 

Remember SPARKLES and PRETTY?  It's been a while since I had enough money for discretionary SPARKLE PRETTY purchases.  

It might be a toy, but it was a toy I was very excited about and dammit, I want my toy today!  The reality was that the toy was available in other colors, but I wanted the exact color I wanted.  I do admit that this causes me guilt, as I'm used to selecting what's available from the on-sale bin, so buying brand new, exactly what I want, does not come naturally to me.  

So, already feeling a little guilty and slight ridiculous, off I went to Seven Corners, where two grimy employees stood before me, scanning yet another wrong-color Shine box with their laser Target gun.  They then start this (now that it's several hours later I think it's hilarious) exchange in which they ask me repeatedly for the "DCPI" number.  I think this is a number that Target uses to track their items.  I have no idea where to find it, and if it's not online, I don't know it. They kept telling me that the DCPI number was necessary and since they didn't have it, they couldn't look for the item I wanted.  I may or may not at one point have said, "This is actually not very helpful. I don't know what a DCPI number is.  That's why I'm asking you!"  Their reply?  "Oh.  Right.  Well, we need that DCPI number.  Maybe you can guess it?"   

Around then, I opted for the option of leaving in a huff and going to Best Buy, which I usually avoid because it freaks me out.  According to the internet, Best Buy had Shines and I could order my number 2 color choice and have it delivered next week.  

By this point I was both in a huff and feeling really quite ridiculous.  I'd driven 15 minutes through rush hour both ways, I had a sermon and other work still waiting to be written, and I hadn't gotten my damn toy!  (Plus I was hungry and wanted my sermon-writing coffee.)  

This is where I got a little Overprivileged White Chick.  I mentally composed a sternly worded email to both store managers, complaining that employee number one sent me on a wild goose chase and that employees #2 were grimy and incapable of fixing a simple problem driving me to their competitor.  I'm sure by the time the mental composition was complete, the complaint letter was Dickensonian.  

By then, I pulled into Best Buy.  I went in... and lo and behold, even though the web service said that my #2 color had to be special ordered, they had FOUR of them on the shelf, AND they were on sale!  So I got exactly what I wanted, AND for $20 less, AND TODAY!  It's a BRAND NEW TOY!  HURRAY! 

And then I went to the coffee shop, where I worked for a few hours on my sermon (idea still gelling and I hope I can get the draft going today!) and considered what a ridiculous thing it would be to send my sternly worded Dickensonian complaint to either Target manager.  

First off, my toy ended up costing me $84, plus gas and aggravation.  Aggravation is my own problem and choice, no one else's.  Though, as a Portuguese girl, no one can do aggravated like me.  Was $84 for a toy really worth potentially getting those employees into some hot water?  At the end of the day, I got what I wanted.  It's time to let it go.  

I still feel a wee bit silly and guilty over the whole thing, though.  

I make such a huge production out of the simple task of buying myself a toy.  Seriously, the guilt is Old School Catholic, and I'm not Catholic!  

I'd waste energy being mad at the evil souless corporation that is Target, even though a complaint would not change a damn thing.  (Knowing your power, baby!)

There's real problems in the world out there.  Israel bombing non-combatants in Gaza.  Refugee children being sent away from their families to beg asylum on the borders of our country.  Me having to say "no" to every single request for emergency aid today because I had so many desperate people to help this month that I'm clean out of aid (and yes, I don't know how many are actually legit).  These are the days I really miss the ED at the hospital for its cold dose of actual problems in the real world.  

Getting my knickers in a twist for something as FWP as my fun new toy?  Let's just say that I'm grateful to live in a peaceful enough area that I can reflect long enough to realize the silliness for what it is.  What do you say we focus on helping fix the big problems in our world, being as healthy as possible in our own little microcosms, and let it be for all the little stuff so we have the right energy at the right time for the big stuff?    

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Swimming at the Wilson Pool

Mondays are busy days in the summers at our house.  We are both preparing for the Nation's Tri, and I'd had very limited swimming opportunities.  Namely, I could go to my apartment's pool, which is nice and clean, but usually really full of kids.  All I want is to do my laps.

So yesterday, after a trip to Fredericksburg, we decided to try to get in a swim workout before yoga.

Wilson pool in DC... is... awesome!

First of all, if you live in DC, you get FREE POOL ACCESS!! How cool is that?  I hope that our plans to move into the District come to fruition soon, because wow, I want free pool access.  As it was, we forked out $7.

It is true that if we are not already planning to be in the district, we would not head in just for the swim.  But since we were heading to free Bicyclespace yoga, it was fine.

Second... this thing is HUGE! It's a full competition pool, meaning it is 50 meters long and has deep water.  The "shallow end" is a little over 5 feet, and the deep end is diving-deep.  It was definitely a cool pool to swim in!  Let's just say that those long lengths gave me one hell of a workout!

It was a good swim overall.  I really felt like some things are finally coming together in my swim.  I was sharing a lane with 4 other people, and I didn't get lapped, and a few times, I would draft off someone to hold their feet.  The people in the fast lane the next lane over did consistently beat me, but I managed to keep them in sight.  Overall, I was very happy with this swim and feeling like things are starting to feel right.  Body placement, hand movements, kicks... whew.

Now I just want to work on endurance to finish up the distance happy and not dying.

In other news, we are considering changing nutritionists.  I'm just not seeing or feeling the results I hope for, and it's felt a little like I've had to remind her of the limitations I'm stuck with (no dairy) and my preferences (prefer not to eat meat, unless you show me that I'd really be better off!).  One of the suggestions was to just sub out meat with an equal amount of tofu, and regular yogurt with soy yogurt.  Unfortunately, that takes me even further in the wrong direction from the quotas she wants me to meet.  So I think I'll be back on the prowl for nutritionists soon.