Thursday, May 30, 2013

Kombucha! Trail Run. Compression Socks!!

First... KOMBUCHA!  It's a tasty fermented tea drink made using a cool thing called a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).  We've been thinking of making it for... oh, forever, but were always afraid to try it from scratch.  Recently, a kind parishioner gifted me with a scoby, and a kombucha batch, meaning that the first steps were taken care of.  We are starting to drink her kombucha batch, and will be starting out own tomorrow.  SO EXCITING!  And delicious.

Today, we went for a run on the Ridgeline trail, which I've run many times before and always enjoyed. I've run the grueling Martin street climb, and the super fun, nearly flat, rolling terrain from Fox Hollow to Dilliard and down to Willamette.  Lovely trail.

I sorta talked M into coming with me on this one- he was initially thinking I wanted to run at Amazon.  (They have a flat wood chip track- flat, oval, and boring, boring, boring to me today.)  So I took him out to Ridgeline, where I got adventurous and decided to run the direction I've never run before.

This turned out to be STRAIGHT UP HILL and then STRAIGHT DOWN HILL.  So I was either going up or going down and I was working every single second.  Good Lord.  It was a much, much harder run than I thought I was getting into!

Which is why it was cool that I got my REI surprise today!  I had a good-sized dividend, and M said I could spend it this year.  (He got to spend last year's).  So I replaced my bike multitool (now we each have one) and got a pair of compression socks.  I've read as much as you have about compression and how it restores your blood, stretches your leg muscles, boosts your mood, balances your checkbook, and generally benefits you in so many ways.

So I got a pair of Sockwell socks, black, with rainbow stripes.  

Oversharing Feet Alert: 
I know it's oddball, but after big runs, I love to have my feet squeezed.  I've been known to take out my old ballet slippers for yoga, and wrap my feet up with ace bandages while I stretch.  I think it's because my feet are SO flexibly and spread out so much that after a run, the constriction just feels great.  I'm always trying to get my feet squeezed- I don't want them rubbed or massaged, just squeezed.

Well, now you are all off the hook.  I have discovered compression socks.  They provide squeeze from my arches through my ankles all the way up my calves in gradated force.  My favorite is the tightness right around the ankle.  It feels REALLY GOOD and that's a really tough spot to squeeze.  The toes, arch, and heel are all cushioned.  Bascially, it's like a warm cozy strip of heaven wrapped around my feet and leg, and I can't think that my feet have EVER felt so good after a run.

Ain't nothing sore on my feetsies.  Or cold.  My feet are chronically cold (and squeezing seems to help warm them up.)  My feet are so warm and toasty tonight!  FOOTSIE NIRVANA!

In fact, I actually want to run more, so I can have more excuses to wear these socks.  Actually, I want six more pairs of socks.  M won't mind if I spend $150 on socks, right?  Anyone have a black market, cheap source for compression socks?  Because, wow.  I need more.

I think I'll be wearing these on every road trip, train trip, plane trip, and long day at work forever from now on.  It's too bad that they won't look right with my special church shoes, because people might be weirded out when the priest starts officiating in her black and rainbow striped knee high socks, but no shoes.  It'll probably be distracting when I get the polka dot ones and start swinging my happy feet in full view of the congregation.  And I bet the Bishop will be a little put off when I show up for meetings wearing these socks with the pink stripes and Tevas- he might start to wonder if I'll ever wear normal socks or shoes again.

And I just might not, not ever.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Baking more bread, a nice day off, and stretching

Instead of going for a run, we stayed in today.  M is really sore, my run is feeling strong, and I was a bit tired.

Can't imagine why... 

I started, per doctor's orders, to add some dairy back in this weekend.  Day 1: accidental Parmesan in a dish.  Not a great result. Day 2: goat cheese, 1/2 a serving. No reaction.  I thought.  I was a bit sneezy. Encouraged, I tried day 3: goat cheese, 1/2 serving.  Result... Heart burn, and a pretty big respiratory reaction- basically, like hay fever.  

I decided to go off the dairy attempts and call the doc to report these results and see what she wants to do.  In all the reading I've been doing to learn about lactose intolerance, I'm forced to realize that we need to figure out if I'm simply intolerant or if I've developed an actual dairy allergy. That would be inconvenient. 

As it stands, I seem to be able to tolerate a tiny amount, but I'd better be prepared for a stuffy face.  

So today, I started researching dairy free options in breads and fast food.  So you know, that day when you have no choice but Subway and Burger King, what do you eat? I've saved the info pages to my browser so I can check it on the go.  Shockingly, I find I cannot have breaded chicken sandwiches, the Burger King veggie burger, or ONION RINGS!! 

While doing that, I made another round of no-knead bread, using extra gluten and a flour mixture, and some extra yeast. We shall see how it turns out!  

I also made gravy from nutritional yeast. M got excited about vegan baking and he wants to make some biscuits and gravy.  So I needed to find some recipes, since sausage gravy isn't really my thing.  While there are some great mushroom gravies out there, what I had I hand was nutritional yeast.  High in B vitamins, which keep your vegetarian system humming along, it's a good idea, don't you think?  

I used the recipe from the original Farm cookbook, which is worth the read for the hilarity alone.  The writing is a scream.  And I like the gravy.  It flavors with a soy sauce, so it had a nice salt and "darkness" to it.  I can't explain the darkness other than to explain that it doesn't feel like lightweight, non-food.  Perhaps umami is a good way to describe it. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Senior Citizen Hours

Senior citizen hours are setting in early this season.  All week, I've been crashing by 10!  Normally I'm wide awake until at least 12 midnight, but all I've wanted this was a fluffy bed starting around 10 until 7 am.  That's a lot of sleeping!  It's been a big build week, plus a lot of writing and work stuff, so it makes sense. I'm working brain and body.  

In the height of the season, I go to bed early- 10 pm. I guess I'm building well if I'm tired! 

In dairy news, I tried 1/2 oz of goat cheese this morning with good results. No immediate pain and agony.  Some very delayed possible effects so we will keep taking it easy.  

I refused to do my formal weigh in this morning.  I went to the group and it was great- positive and informative.  But I had looked on my home scale before going and I was four and a half pounds heavier than yesterday.  That is all water weight.  I had a very salty celebration dinner with M and it was worth every hard earned bite, but it led to lots of water weight.  How much?  Well, after eating normally all day and drinking like a fiend outside in the desert in July, I'm two pounds lighter tonight, fully dressed, after dinner.  

I did not need the formal scale this morning.  As they say, "ain't nobody got time for that". 

My friend likes to say that if the scale will mess with your head, just stay off it.  

I didn't need the scale this week.  I needed that long bike ride, my happy M, and the "cry me a river" problem of my work pants getting so loose that I will have to stop wearing them soon.  

Friday, May 24, 2013

A 40% Chance of Rain Is Still a 60% Chance of Sunshine!

Today I checked off part of my Oregon bucket list- riding the 242 highway to the Dee Wright observatory! I've wanted to ride this for over two years but the starts have never aligned. 

Technically, the stars were still not aligned- the forecast had turned cold and called for a 40% chance of rain. But after talking it over, we decided to brave it and see what it was like in real life.  

I am very glad we did, because we saw this. 

Sure looks like terrible weather, eh?

We decided to ride the east side, from the ranger station to the top.  

We suited up, and I was glad for every bit of fleece and wind breaking stitch. I was actually borderline too warm near Sisters, but I knew I'd want all the clothes once we made altitude. 

For the curious about bike fashion, I wore socks, my solid bike insoles (I have mesh ones for hot weather), my Trek women's bike shorts which are super-comfy, fleece tights, a base layer, a jersey, my fleecy arm warmers that I've had for so long that the logos have worn off, and an ear warmer instead of a headband. Bringing beanies wouldn't have been a bad idea.  I had one set of full gloves.  M was definitely too cold in his half gloves, and even I could have used more wind breaking in my gloves.  And I stuffed my wind breaker into a seat pouch. That definitely saved my bacon on the way down. 

A little man-bragging here. It was M's first mountain climb on a road bike. He's only been seriously cycling since we got together and I've always been the more hard core. Riding up a mountain is pretty hard core. He ROCKED it. Nice steady climbing. 

Then we got to the top.  

Near the top is the time that the ride really turned cloudy. Soon after this picture I pulled out my windbreaker. Even so, we were stopped long enough to cool down and get chilly. We went to the top of the observatory. 

How cold was it? 

M had to chip ice out of his cleats. 

The ride down was fast with me holding it in all the way- the road at the top is windy and narrow and I didn't trust myself to open it up for top speed. It was windy enough that my windbreaker was acting a little like a sail!

We got to the bottom.  

Great ride, but I was sure cold! We got back to the ranger station, and high-tailed it to the nearest coffee shop for the hottest liquids they could give us! 

All in all, awesome awesome ride, and definitely a ride that every cyclist in Oregon MUST do. I am so glad we did it!  

Overall, the greatest victory of the day was mental.  Don't you hate that feeling when you talk yourself out of doing something? You convince yourself that it isn't worth trying or that the timing isn't right and next thing you know, a big chunk of life or adventure has sailed by.  We took the risk to at least attempt the adventure and it turned out awesome. (Of course, we would have bailed if it had been bad weather at the start point or if it has been snowing or raining in the passes on the way there. This is your safety disclaimer, Mom!) We just went for it, and the chance paid off in spades!  

And in other news, I was really, REALLY happy to have warm, dry socks waiting for me in the car.  

That was a cold and awesome bike ride!  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Swimming and swimming

I've been in the water a lot this week.  I spent a lot of time doing the poolside drills and kickboard drills as my coach has instructed me.  For the first few weeks, every swim workout left me with really tired outer legs and a frowny face of tired abs. But now the abs feel better and I'm starting to feel my body position in the water. I think my shoulders are loosening up a bit. Or my arms are getting stronger. One of those. 

My fastest time for a length thus far has been 54 seconds... Faster than my previous time, that's for sure! 

In other news, I am still working on the dairy thing. On Sunday, I haplessly stumbled into some hidden dairy in a veggie burger. Curse you, veggie burgers! It was Wednesday before I was feeling normal.  

Today I accidentally got some Parmesan in a dish of otherwise delicious spinach. (The chef didnt realize that Parmesan was on the verboten list for me, poor lady!). It seems to be a mild reaction,but here comes the heartburn and the stuffy nose.  Yeah, stuffy.  Noses seems to be part of the reaction for me.  So now we are trying to figure out if this is a lactose intolerance or a casein intolerance. That means it could be milk sugars or the milk proteins triggering me.  On one hand, the casein intolerance means a lot more restrictions for me, long term.  But I'm a little frustrated by how easily I am being triggered right now.  

Tomorrow is a big bike ride!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Rest Day and Picnic Day

I've been having a sad few days: my beloved Beetle/Bikemobile is in the shop.  Its timing belt broke.  This damaged my pistons.  Now it is getting fixed.  On one hand, HUGE repair.  On the other hand, still cheaper than buying a new car.  Poor Beetle.  

In other news, I found myself REALLY tired this week.  It was a build week, but by Saturday, I was so beat that I took an extra rest day and a giant nap.  Saturday and Sunday I did nothing but walking.  Happily, I'm just two pounds away from my first goal weight, which means I am well on track to hit my "racing weight" by next month.  

This is week Three of the Strict-Dairy-Free Fast.  I was SO GOOD and SO SAD at Pentecost at church yesterday: we get this lovely, sugary, delicious cake to celebrate.  And I turned down every bite because I couldn't know if it was dairy free or not.  Good for my waistline, yes, but damn, I wanted that cake!  I weep so much for the lost cake. 

Then we went to a youth picnic.  I look forward to this picnic, and we were having it at a new venue- instead of at church, at the Wayne Morris Farm.  I thought it was delightful- fire pit, counters, space for a grill, so all in all, fairly easy to use.  Huge field to play in.  

My colleague, in charge of smores, got special gourmet dairy free chocolate so I could have a smore too!  And my other colleague brought several varieties of potato chip, including one that he read the label for to be sure it was dairy free.  And I brought fake vegan cheese (jury is still out on how it tasted...) and gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free rolls, and veggie burgers.  
This is me in the morning, feeling responsible.  I posted this to Facebook in case anyone saw my facebook page without having seen me at church.  

Alas, I did not read the veggie burger labels.  They were VEGGIE BURGERS FOR PETE'S SAKE! Who'da thunk that VEGGIE BURGERS had dairy in them?  

That's right.  

Most of them do.  Shortly after eating what I THOUGHT was my delicious dairy-free meal, I became aware that something was going wrong.  By the time M and I were driving home, my poor tummy was in full blown cramps and turmoil.  Two doses of alka seltzer and a night's rest later, I feel a bit like I have a hangover, and I am much, much more educated.  

I gotta read ALL those labels. Like this.  

Oh, look, there it is.  CURSES!  CURSES, I tell you!

This was the week I was supposed to start reintroducing dairy products to see how I do, so I am going to count that as Attempt #1 and file it under GIANT FAIL, subcategory, Dry Milk Powder.  I'll try some goat later this week, and see what happens.  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

McKenzie View Bike and Biking to Work

Yesterday we met up with LifeCycle for another Wednesday ride.  This one followed a totally new-to-me route- riding McKenzie View from the other side!  I've ridden a lot of these roads, but never in this order, so it was really fun to go backwards.

Overall, I felt really well fueled.  In the midafternoon, I started raging for a snack.  Of course, with the strict lactose-free diet at the moment, I am eating mostly at home, or sticking to strict vegan when out to avoid lactose entirely.  (One more week...)  Imagine my delight when I found out that Full City (my favorite coffee shop) has vegan snacks!  One of the baristas was even vegan herself, so she guided me to the vegan products.  I ended up having a big blueberry-nut muffin.  I wondered if that was why I felt so supercharged all afternoon!

The ride didn't feel particularly grueling.  It was a nice easy 40 miles.  I think the ride up the back half of McKenzie (going towards Coburg) is easier than the climb in the other direction.  I didn't realize it til I was on Coburg again, but I'd spent the whole day in my big ring.  So really, nice lovely easy ride.  I felt really good after getting off the bike.

M was about ready to eat anything that stayed still long enough for him to sink his teeth in.  Even after two gels, he was begging for gummy bears.  So we stopped by Chipotle, and then by the grocery to get me more Vitamin B12 and him some gummy bears.  I'm trying to figure out if sublingual B12 or a regular B-complex is the right set of vitamins for me.  We shall see!

Today, we biked to work.  I am still waiting for my Beetle to be fixed.  M wanted to get out of the house for a while.  So we rode to my workplace where I took care of Thursday afternoon things and waiting for them to call me about my Beetle.  (Nothing yet!) I got worried that I would be too hungry to bike home, so I made myself eat a sandwich.

Unfortunately, something in the sandwich didn't agree with me.  I did not check to see if the bread was dairy-free, and ended up with some of the lactose-related problems.  (Upset tummy, headache, acid reflux).  I guess I'll have to be super careful about stuff like that for a while yet.  Either that, or riding home in full rain gear was a little bit of overkill (the rain stopped as we headed out, so it was not a rainy ride after all) and I overheated.  One of those two!

Just enough time now to relax, make dinner, and prepare to watch the finale of The Office!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Working on my Swim Kick

All we did yesterday was go to the pool and work on our kicks.  Back and forth and back and forth.  On the kickboard.  Kicking away.  

My legs continue to be sore this afternoon.  Because, wow, that is a lot of kicking that happens there.  Eeek.  

And my abs... my side abs and my upper abs are creating a frowny face of unhappiness with me, and yet I courageously continue to sit upright.  

That's right.  Booyah.  

But in other news, the pool has an awesome playground, so I got to play on some playground equipment.  How many activity points do I get for all that upper body work?  

Now in exciting news, I think I get to go to REI and buy a toy.  M has said that I can use the dividend this year for me because he got to use it last year for him.  So I'm deciding what else I should get!  I used part of it to get a pouch that attaches to my running belt to hold things like gels and my phone and my keys.  Stuffing that stuff into my socks or under the leg bands of my shorts just wasn't working for me.  

So what else should I get?  Decision, decisions!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Staggering through the hills

So my long day at work didn't quite go as planned.

I thought I'd be able to slip out inbetween services and events and get a swim done.

Instead the to-do list blew up, and in the end, I decided to stay for just a little bit of the event, then slip out early and tackle the rest of the weekend to-do list.

My Beetle remains in the shop.  We pray for its little sick Beetle soul.

So since I didn't get my swim in today (booooo!) I went instead for a run in the hills.

OK, so it was more of a staggering through the hills.  I called it "hill intervals" on my GPS tracker.  That means that I run uphill until I can't, then I turn around and walk downhill until I recover a tiny bit, and then I re-run the section again.  It is miserable.

But it really helps.

And then I did two stretching routines.

And M made seasoned rice and this amazing curry dish.  It was delicious and there was tofu.

So it was not the workout I wanted, but I am content with the workout I got.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Nice Long Run, After Which I Get Wild At Keystone Cafe

Today we both got a jumpstart on the day. And in dairy-free news- my tummy feels awesome, and even my chronic workout rhinitis seems remarkably reduced. I haven't had a tummy/intestine attack since Tuesday (when the strict dairy-free thing started) and I can't recall feeling this good for this many days at once. Let's hope this continues!

After an early out-of-the-house call, I started from the Trader Joe's shop on Coburg and ran back to downtown Eugene via the bike path. The first mile (right off Coburg) was highly sketchy thanks to the large population of tramps and bridge people. Perhaps I'm a prude, but isn't 9AM too early to be smoking your pot? The cat-calling is uncomfortable to run by, as well.

Overall, (once past the Sketchy Gauntlet), the direct route was too short and direct so I actually ran toward Springfield a few miles before I crossed a footbridge and headed back to Eugene.

As I got into Alton Baker park, I noticed how many runners were out today. There sure were a lot of people out enjoying the sunshine. As in, a LOT.

Then I noticed a large number of those people were wearing capes. And most of them were running in the same direction as me. And I glanced over my shoulder, and saw many of them wearing race numbers.

And that was how I discovered I was inadvertently running bandit in a race!

As we approached the finish line, I jumped off the path and ran on the grass so I'd avoid the finish line time markers (I did pass under the START markers, but there was no way to run around the whole race set up by that point- it blocked the entire path and I didn't know any alternate route to get from where I was to where I was going).

I looped a few more loops while I waited for M to get out of his Bikram yoga class. Then we went to eat breakfast.

After that, we headed to Eugene Running Company where I met my next pair of shoes: Brooks PureFlow 2. They aren't zero drop (yet) but they are definitely more minimal than my current pair. I think the guy said they were 4%? As I've gotten stronger, I find I've wanted less and less shoe. I still want to "test drive" the Zoots tri-specific shoe, but I think the Brooks will be mine by this week. They were full of bouncy, good feeling fun. Yeah, I can't believe I just said that about a running shoe, either. Even though I can't have the cute purple ones- they ran narrow, so I have to get the special wider black ones. But those are just wide enough to give me space while still providing just a little bit of squeeze and support to my big floppy flipper feet.

If you are ever in Eugene: head thee to Keystone. It drives me crazy and is a hole in the wall, but it's also a special Eugene treasure- extreme people-watching, a HUGE vegan menu and arguably the best biscuits and gravy in town. I got super adventurous today, though. Instead of ordering my usual (the biscuits and gravy), I ordered a vegan Powerhouse! It was a bed of rice with baked tofu and veggies, all topped in nutritional yeast gravy.

Is YOUR Episcopal priest that wild? That's right, I didn't think so.

Best part of it (in addition to getting to eat a boatload of tofu, which is my favorite food!) was ordering off the HUGE vegan menu. I am being very faithful to the doctor's orders to avoid ALL dairy for three weeks, and it can be complicated. I find that ordering vegan at restaurants seems to be the safest.

A word about food issues: in general, I don't pitch a fit about food stuff. I eat mostly vegetarian, but I also eat what I am served. This last week, I was handed down strict dairy-free orders. And while my tummy has been blessedly better since Tuesday with no awful attacks, it's also been quite the week in learning to eliminate or sub out ingredients, and figuring out how to tell people that the dairy thing is not a preference, it's a rule. It feels different than saying "I normally eat vegetarian" because with that I know that I can 'cheat' and have the bacon if I want to, and it wouldn't make me sick. But right now, I literally can't have dairy or I will get quite sick. It feels like TMI or melodrama right now to say, "Oh, I have dairy issues".

I wonder how you folks with food intolerances handle them?

Friday, May 10, 2013

242 Attempt Aborted... So sad!!!

Oh woe is me. Woe resides within my house.

For we planned and anticipated with joy the Riding of Highway 242,
Currently closed to cars And open only to bikes.
Truly do I tell you, we planned, even unto the buying of Picky Bars and hearty breakfast.
Bikes were loaded with glee onto the racks on the roof
Of the Beetle which heretofore had never been sick a day in its life.

Such woe was to strike as has never been known in a Beetle before.
For still 32 miles from Sisters, our erstwhile starting point,
Where they do have delicious sandwiches,
As I drove down the highway, the red light shaped like a battery
Flashed before mine eyes.

It flashed, I tell you, it flashed, and as it flashed, I did utter,
"Uht oh, that's not normal" as my power steering cut out.
I didst pull over, and the engine ceased to run.
I calleth the tow truck, and after waiting for two hours
In the volcanic red dirt, where we considered the meaning of life
And drank our Gatorade,

We were towed home where we rode our bikes home to get the other car.

Why, cars, oh why must you die when I take such good care of you?
Even though I haven't washed you since the fall...
You still get regular oil changes and now old-age checkups.
Truly do I weep much, for my beloved Beetle is sick,

And the 242 highway and my dreamed-of summit at the Dee Wright observatory
Remains but a pipe dream, drifting away in a clouded Oregon sky.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bike Ride!

Today, M and I went out for a ride with a new group.  I was all full of new-group nerves and so nervous, but there should have been no worries.  We were riding with LifeCycle's Wednesday club ride.  It was full of nice happy mellow people who are all early in their season, so we have a nice happy mellow day.

We rode the loop that I call the "Hutch's Loop".  LifeCycle says they change it up weekly, but tonight's ride was essentially the same loop that Hutch's rides on Monday: the Lorane climb, followed by the section that Strava calls the "Lorane Speedway", and then into a nice big loop.  We all did the "long loop"section- I've never done it before, but it was a really nice extra loop.  I think I'll start doing that all the time now!

I felt good and fast and strong on this ride- I was able to hold the wheel in front of me without any major surge-and-fades that always plagued me before.  My BMC has really transformed my life!

The only tough spot was on this long slow hill on Crow, my legs just decided they'd had enough and totally pooped out of power.  Specifically, the parts that were tired from swimming yesterday pooped out and for a few minutes there I felt like I was pedaling with jelly legs!  I chatted with another rider about triathlons and drank my drink, and after a few minutes my body grudgingly decided that I wasn't going to get off and take a nap, so it might as well recover.  And then everything was fine for the rest of the ride.

In other news, as I continue to struggle with this new lactose intolerance issue, I get to spend three weeks doing a totally lactose-free diet.  I've been having increasing issues for a few years now, but it all got abruptly worse since the E.Coli in Mexico and the Flu earlier this year.  The question is whether this is going to be a permanent or a temporary problem.  Lactose is in EVERYTHING, and I love doing things like putting cheese on my pasta.  And my favorite dessert is yogurt and fruit.  See what a problem this will be?  So there's a lot of creative re-thinking going on here in this house.

On the bright side, since cutting out all dairy, my rhinitis issues are MUCH much less and I haven't had any episodes of the horrible stomach pain (and other fun symptoms of lactose intolerance, which I encourage you to Google.  Not really...), so I am overall feeling better than I had been feeling for a while now.

I'm pretty frustrated with my weight-loss efforts at the moment.  I am stubbornly stuck at this awful plateau, so I am going to concentrate hard on hitting my nutrition goals and getting my activity in.  Specifically, I think I need to do more morning activities to get my metabolism going in the AM.  It stinks, but that's what I think I have to do.  Of course, between all the Life Stress and the Lactose-Intolerance Stress, the stubborn weight could just be my body's way of preparing for flight-or-fight.  So I have to convince my endocrine system that I am not trying to kill it, so it'll release that extra weight.

At the end of the day, I got an amazing bike ride in with some really fun people, so I'm calling this a win for the day!

Swimming! And those pesky side ab things that hurt!

Ach, my legs and abs. When I woke up and thought about sitting up in bed this morning, I strongly considered death as a viable option. Whoa. For a "short distance" swim, it completely worked me over.

A friend of mine is a super duper swimmer, and when I shared my swimming woes with her, she offered to coach me.

Basically, I have no fear of the water- pool, open water, not a problem. I float very well. My problem is that I'm slower than mud. If I raced a glacier, I might beat the glacier. That's about it. My swim was so slow that in the Rolf Prima last year, I was among the last five out of the water. In the Leadman, I was actually shocked- because of my little freak out at the start of the race, I flipped over and started doing the backstroke. I ended up going so fast that I did this backstroke the whole way. I came out as fast as the people doing the crawl. There were actually so many people in the water after me. That was fun.

But it also meant something was very wrong. Most people are not faster in the backstroke.

My upper body stroke could use a few tweaks, but that actually wasn't the real problem. My friend looked puzzled for a few minutes and then looked at my legs. She gave me a kick board and asked me to kick side by side with her. She swam away. I remained stubbornly in place, kicking like the world was ending.

Here's the problem: picture the movement you make when you are stomping on a box to mash it up for recycling. Updownupdownupdwn. That's pretty similar to the movement I was making as I tried to swim kick. Meanwhile, as I got near the end of the pool lane and maybe got a little tired, my kick would drift to the side- imagine the movement you make when you are walking in a park and go to close to the pricker bushes, and must kick the bushes off. You kick to the side, gingerly, shrieking all the while.

Thankfully water drowns out the shrieking.

I once tried a "dolphin kick" for a week or so but I don't think that person described it correctly. They said "keep your legs straight and kick like a wind up toy". Shocking, keeping my knees locked and kicking with straight legs was also not effective.

So my friendcoach taught me a new way of kicking where you keep your knees sort of loosey and the tops of your feet feel like they are pushing away water. And you also loosen up everything else.

All of a sudden, I am moving through water. I'm going to practice kicks and then slowly start laps again.

This new kick sure takes a lot out of me. On one hand, I am moving through the water at what feels like a much after rate than before. On the other hand, these muscles have never swum like that before. My legs and especially my abs and my side abs- what do we call those again? obliques?- are exhausted!! I just hope I can build up my stamina for the crawl by July! I also have some running stamina to build (three more miles to my base) by July. So I should in short order have legs of steel.

You'll be welcome to call on me for all your kicking needs. I'm expecting to field calls from the local police department for door-kicking-in, and from random friends needing pricker bushes side-kicked, with a side of shrieking.

Friday, May 3, 2013

While I was at Clergy Conference...

So I spent my week at Clergy Conference.  All the Episcopal Clergy in the Diocese of Western Oregon gather to spend a few days with other colleagues and to get some clergy-specific education.  This year, I brought running clothes and figured I'd get some nice pretty runs in.  We were, after all, at the lovely Oregon Gardens in Silverton.

Sadly, the front desk informed me they don't let people run in the gardens during the day.  So I could not go into the gardens.  I guess running people distract other people from horticultural appreciation?

Instead, during the three day conference, I got in two runs.

Run #1 was just a quick 30-minute "trash can run".  That's what I call this workout I invented where you run intervals from trash can to trash can.  The name makes me giggle and the intervals distract me from the misery.

Because somehow, in the last three years I've been going to the Oregon Gardens Resort, I have never noticed that the driveway is one giant long soul-crushing uphill.  Wowch.

Run #2 was infinitely more interesting.  One of my colleagues has gotten her Certified Personal Trainer creds, and was offering boot camp. She decided it would be fun to bring in some more people by offering up a pre-boot camp run.  Which she then scheduled at 6:30 AM.  That's in the morning.  Like, at dawn.

I promptly decided to skip it as Amma don't do that pre-dawn stuff.  Sure I used to get up at 4AM to do open water swim workouts in CT, but that was an act born of desperation.

My colleague would not be deterred.  First, she enlisted my boss, who is a RUNNER's runner.  He runs because he enjoys it and finds it fun.  I can usually turn him down cold when he comes up with crazy ideas like "Wouldn't a pre-dawn run be fun!"

So he enlisted three other young women and EVERYONE totally ganged up on me and peer-pressured me into coming out for a delightful cool predawn run through Silverton, where we discovered that one certain mom (whose been my work buddy since I got to Oregon) is totally badass at charging up hills.

Then we did boot camp.  And then I ate lots of breakfast.

All in all, I am very pleased and happy with getting those extra runs in.  Running while traveling is new to me (I only started doing it last year while I was on pilgrimage with the SuperRunningTeen), but it's actually really fun.

I will need new running shoes next month.