Thursday, October 25, 2012

Arrived in Mexico!

Yesterday's flights were charming and delightful in the way that only air travel is.  After a 3AM wake-up call, the kindest people in the universe (John and Susan) picked me up at 3:30 AM for a ride to the airport. 

I was thrilled to find out that I was going to be bumped from my Houston to Mexico city flight.  No, really, I was thrilled.  It came with a travel voucher, so with M still residing in Harpers Ferry, WV, my little vagabond eyes went "cha-ching!" as I plotted ways to use my voucher for a visit!  Plus, I have enough friends in Houston and little enough shame that I absolutely would have called one of them and thrown myself on their mercy.  Sadly, this was not to be, as other people missed their flights in Houston and I couldn't get bumped after all. 

But first things first.  I got to the Eugene airport before Security even opened.  And then my flight left before Full City opened.  This means I got a thing of vending machine water, and I was pretty mellow because I figured I could stop in Denver and grab breakfast.

That flight went faster than anticipated and we landed early.  That's when I found out that my next flight was boarding in 10 minutes.  So I started walking... and discovered the new gate was approximately eight miles away from the old gate.  So I kept walking and walking. And walking.  And walking.  My Osprey Porter (the one I got for England this summer) continues to impress- easy to carry, quick to convert into a backpack, and small enough that not a single flight attendant gave me grief. 

That flight was also non-notable, except that thanks to the short layover, I only had time to go to the bathroom and no time to get a bite to eat.  No problem.  This was a short flight asn I would soon be in Houston, getting bumped and having lots of time.   The most interesting thing on this flight was a seat neighbor who ignored me completely, but was playing this fascinating looking game on his iPad. 

Along came Houston.  As I got off the plane, I discovered my next flight had begun boarding 10 minutes ago, before I'd even landed.  Cha-ching.  I decided to get to the gate, and to grab a bite to eat after I'd collected my winnings for being so kind and gracious to be bumped.  I saw a nice old man waitig to get on the plane, and the gate agent took my info.  I was thrilled.  Look, I'd get to help a nice old man. 

Then it happened.

The gate agent said, "Wait, the other person is missing their flight too.  Hold on, I bet we can get you on this flight." 

"Oh, that's okay," said I.  "This nice old man really seems like he wants to go on the plane, and I haven't eaten at all, and I've got a flexible schedule.  Really, I don't need to be there until tomorrow!" 

"No, no, no," they said, reassuringly.  Really, they could have been much more brusque.  "You have priority!" 

Bummer.  The one time I don't want it, I'm the most important person ever.  Which explains how I ended up crammed into a sardine can next to a very round woman, who was very upset that I had made my flight, and had very pointy elbows and made quite a point of overflowing into my seat at every chance.  She'd drape her clothes over my armrest, put her feet into my foot section, and shift herself to talk to her seatmate until she was half in my seat.  I had a hard time getting stuff from the stewardess, she was taking up so much space!  Really, it was not even the physical space as much as it was the emotional and mental space.  Hmph. 

My biggest worry was that, since I was arriving a day before the main group because I couldn't get any Thursday flights, that the Sisters wouldn't know to pick me up.  That was not a problem, and I was met at the airport with my name on a sign, and taken in a taxi to the convent.  I knew myself well enough to not risk Vespers in case I got sleepy, and dinner came quickly. 

Dinner... authentic Mexican food cooked by people who have no qualms or desires to Americanize anything.  Can we say happy tummy?  Yes, we can say happy tummy.

The night was rather restless.  Between the warmth, the humidity, the over-abundance of blankets, and my general nature, I didn't sleep well at all until nearly 4AM when I finally dropped off for good.  I woke up around 9AM their time, which is about 7AM Oregon time.  So I guess I fell asleep around 2AM Oregon time.  Not terribly terrible. 

I woke up with a killer headache, but a little Aleve took care of that.  I know that, at this altitude, I need to be super careful to force hydration. The sisters are worried I have high blood pressure due to the travel to the altitude (many of their guests have elevated blood pressures on the first day or two) so they gave me "fig leaf tea" and strict orders to drink, drink, drink.  They are also feeding me like a Portuguese great-grandma.  So I will not starve for sure!

Not sure what sort of email or internet access I will have, so updates from the Vagabond as I... err... vagabond about might be erratic.  Especially since I left behind my iphone charger!  Really, I remembered my other chargers and the charger bases... I cannot BELIEVE I left the iPhone charger home.  I must have dropped the cord as I packed stuff.  So annoying.  We'll see if I can borrow another classmate's when they arrive later.   

Friday, October 19, 2012

Who ordered the life chaos?

It's sure been chaos as the program year gets underway, and I try to make my life work all by myself while my M continues working 3,000 miles away.

I don't think I like the bicoastal couple thing as much as I thought I would be OK with it...  

I'm experimenting with a new type of program, a panel discussion event on Sunday afternoon.  Previously, the Sunday afternoon events were single speakers, and we'd arrange a fully served meal.

This time, because I'm worried I've been overtaxing my cooks with all the events they've done and all the ones coming up, the committee wanted to try it potluck style.  It could be great... or it could be a colossal failure.

I fear colossal failure.

This could be control freak issues, but also probably has some roots in my perfectionist tendencies.  If things aren't perfect, I get very upset, usually because I fear someone will be mad at me.  As a committee, we know it might take a few events to work out all the bugs.  But I just want everything to be perfect the first time!  And it won't be!

I'm also leaving for Mexico for a language immersion in a week.  No matter how much I study, I don't feel like I've studied enough.  I've been listening to Spanish language CDs to get my ear used to the language, I've been studying my vocab so much I feel like I'm in high school... and still I feel like my mind is made of water.  Nothing is staying in there, and every time I see one of our Spanish congregants, all my language work flees out of my head, leaving nothing but "Nos vemos!" left behind.  ("See you later!")

Not to mention that I'm way behind on my laundry and if I don't do laundry today, I'll be going to Mexico wearing a pair of fleece lined running tights and an old camping sweater.

Hopefully, Mexico will help relax me just a little.  On the bright side, I did find Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day in Spanish, and have been working on translating that.  Because I know the story so well, it helps me feel grounded and in control.

Hmmm... is there a control freak theme developing?

Meanwhile, M is still in Harpers Ferry, being a stellar intern and earning huge kudos from bosses.  And the federal government is a giant mess and freezing hiring until after the election.  F* the government and our stupid congress' inability to work together to do anything, let alone pass a budget.  (Really, Congress, I have very little patience with you right now.)  Stuff like that is affecting my personal life a great deal!  If Congress would have passed a budget, M could get a job, and then he could finish his fellowship and come live with me again.

I always said I wasn't the type of girl who NEEDED a man.  Cue damsel with blousy top and bosom, drooping into the arms of some muscular stud.  First of all, I am far from damsel-esque and I totally don't have the rack to pull off a heaving bosom.  But I've found I really do miss him.  I like having another person around the house.  And while he's messy... well, the truth is that I'm pretty lazy when I'm lonely.  And that's why I still have my race belt and Camelback on my table from last month.

Maybe I should be cleaning today?

At least I got a nice run in yesterday.  The rains have returned to Oregon, which is how we say, "Winter is coming!" in Oregonese.  It means that the next six months are going to be an adventure like a live-action puzzle, as I bring various workout pieces to work with me so I can shoehorn in outdoor playtime whenever the weather lets up for an hour or so.

The last few days I have woken up to thick, pea-soup fog outside my window of my house in the hills.  But it has burned off to leave gorgeous cool, clear blue sky by afternoon. So yesterday, I got all hopeful and tossed some running stuff into my Beetle's boot.  And as the afternoon was winding down, the weather peaked to perfect, so I headed out for a nice run on the Ridgeline trail.

Trail running makes me feel so super-star!  All that leaping over roots and plugging away uphill makes me feel so fast and heroic.  Granted, I'm probably running 14 minute miles, but I *FEEL* superhero-tastic, and that's what's important.

One friend tries to remind me that it's not the speed, it's finishing the event.  The sage within nods, sagely and wisely.  But the perfectionist whines that I could be faster, thinner, stronger, smarter, richer, living in a bigger house, doing a PhD, and home cooking pancakes from buckwheat I grind myself.

Maybe the running helps me run away from that perfectionist little twerp within.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Finally... HAPPY RUN!

It's entirely possible I might have had an epiphany this weekend.  Trail runs are super-fun.  I went running on trail and hit that happy runner's high that everyone talked about... where not only did I have plenty of leg left, I actually wanted more running once I'd stopped.

It was so weird.

We've all known for a long time that I am simply not a natural-born runner.  All those long, lean gazelles who breeze across pavement with huge smiles and tell me that the "running is the best part" kill little bits of my soul every time.

I am typically just miserable on the run.  Short runs.  Long runs.  Late evening.  Midday.  Early morning.  Well-fed.  Not fed.  High on caffeine.  Hydrated on the purest water. It's pretty much just a sufferfest, no matter what.

With lots of hard work, I've gotten to the point where- when I push it- I can hold down an 8:02 mile on a flat surface, with lots of huffing and puffing and quite possibly some crying.

So this weekend, I was  at the Episcopal Church Women retreat for St. Mary's.  Traditionally, one of the highlights of the weekend is a little three mile hike around Suttle Lake.  This year, after the hike, two of us decided to run the hike backwards.

Holy tamales.

We hit this beautiful set of dirty dusty rollers and it was just such an easy run.  For once in my life, I actually felt as if I was not going to die.  I have no idea how long it took us or how fast we went.  I actually ran without my heart rate monitor or stopwatch.  I know.  CRAZY!

I get so wild in the off season.  

The next morning, we got up early, two of us, and went running again.  I had a miserable night, being way too hot in my down mummy bag.  I am not a morning person on my best days. But this was really fun.  (After I woke up a little.)  We climbed a big hill and ran through some gorgeous open trail, with views of sunrise over the nearby mountains and deer and flowers and all sorts of postcard-perfect nature stuff.

Then we went on one of those long slow climbs that is usually a total soul-sucking experience.  Usually long gradual hills kill my desire to live and bring out all my swear words... but this one actually wasn't dreadful.  It was a climb, but it was so gorgeous I think I forgot to suffer until it was too late.

I didn't even say a single swear word, out loud.  (But I sure thought a few especially when my sneaker picked up a few rocks and twigs that got jammed right against my Achilles tendon.  Ouch.)

And I think I realized that I must be a trail runner.  All my best runs have been trail runs.  And all the misery is on the road.  So it's going to be off the road for the rest of the fall for me, and off to seek out the best trail that Eugene has to offer.  Because when I'm leaping over rocks and tree roots, it's like having a superpower.  Kinda cool.

But don't tell anyone I actually said anything about running was remotely cool, or I'll lose all my cyclist street cred!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Care and Feeding of a Vegetarian Endurance Athlete

Sadly, no pictures because I'm still updating my Iphone.  I fought the update because I didn't want to lose my Google maps, but finally went for it so I could get Do Not Disturb.  Plus I'm lazy.

I managed to scrape out a few hours downtime today.  In this season, when I have programs kicking off right and left, it gets pretty busy at work and it feels like it is hard to break away.  I have Vestry tonight- it's the elected board of an Episcopal Church and I must make my Assistant Rector Command Appearnce!  Seriously, our Vestry is great.  They run tight meetings and are really fun to be around.  But when I have Vestry meetings (or any night meeting, and on weeks like this one and last week where I'll be working Friday and Saturday), rather than come into the office 9AM to 9PM, I flex my time so I can do things like get groceries and wash laundry.  I tried to hit the post office today but the line was out the door, so no packages shipped.  (Sorry, M!)

Things are feeling pretty good in the off-season.  Today, I managed to shoehorn in a short speed run (24 minutes as hard as I could).  I've decided to not use my GPS trainer app for the fall, but just run by feel for a while.  I want to just have fun and enjoy the good weather while it lasts.  There's plenty of time to do mile splits.  

In other news, I made a crazy pizza last night.  I've been reading Thrive, by Brendan Brazier.  He's a vegan Pro triathlete, so I figured he'd know how to feed endurance athletes.  The problem I run into with most diets and meal plans is that they just don't have athletes in mind, so either the calories are just too low, or the carbs/protein/fats aren't balanced for an athlete's needs.

I have been really excited to find Thrive and NoMeatAthlete, since they are both vegetarians (or vegans) and endurance people!  I feel like I can finally relax and eat without doing a ton of math or planning or substituting.  They talk about nutrition (what we eat to have healthy bodies) and fueling (what we eat to make our training sessions the best they can be), which makes sense to me right now.

So the crazy pizza I made from Brendan's book has a gluten-free "crust" of quinoa and seeds with a tomato sauce and veggies, which are then baked over a lower heat of 300F for a long time.  I didn't know what to think about that crazy-looking "pizza", but it was delicious.  If you like your veggies, you'd be happy!  I love an excuse to have huge slices of extra veggies.

The only drawback is that it is incredibly bulky, so it takes forever to eat.  I might be late to work this morning because it's taking forever to get my pizza eaten.  It's 5PM... seriously, it took me all day to finish eating that thing!  It was hard to be hungry for "snack time" because I was so full from that pizza... which was delicious in case I didn't mention that.  Just huge.

So I think I'll be experimenting with Thrive recipes, making energy bars from NoMeatAthlete, and trying to be super-flexible in both mind and body.  (I've also been doing yoga and Pilates at night to loosen up my stiff muscles, and work out those crampy calves.  Good results so far with no spasms or cramps, even after today's hard, hilly run.  Since I normally cramp easily, something is going right!)