Saturday, August 31, 2013

Returning to Working Out

So I'm not sure if its just dust and ragweed allergies, smoke from the forest fires, general poor air quality in the Willamette valley, symptoms of overtraining, a random cold, or just plain old stress, but I've got a lovely minor head cold.  

It started with a junky nose (and I swear I thought it was smoke).  Original plans had been to do some camping this weekend, but M is still in Maryland, so no sweet little backpacking trip after all.  By Friday, I had swollen ankles, which I thought was odd.  I'm recognizing that water retention is how my body says it is way over tired, especially these last few months.  Of course, the really deep blisters are finally finishing up healing.  Without being graphic, let's just say it was like having burns on my feet.  Things are better now. But I only just started doing regular Barre3 workouts again.  It's not like I was doing backflips and really stressing out! 

I. Am. Frustrated! I hope that it's just stress.  I'll scale back the Barre3 from 40 minutes to 20-30 minute sessions until this passes. 

From the reading, what I've been going thru in recovery does sound a lot like what others describe in overtraining (that led to development of food allergies,) and I know the only cure for that is rest and patience.  But darn it, I'm not doing any more races this year! I'm just doing core work and stretching.  

I hate being patient and relaxing.  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Whoa, yeah, so, new car!

So I don't know what you have been doing, but my last few weeks have been a little whirlwindy. 

I bought a car.

It was unexpected, to say the least.  

Long story short, this happened to my beloved Beetle.  

It was not our fault.  It was totaled. No one was injured, thank goodness. And of course, that's the most important thing.  Thank you, solid Beetle, for being so supersafe 

But then there is me needing a decent car. We are going back to one car, and if you are going to be a one car couple, it needs to be awesome.  Our dodge was not awesome.  It was driveable, but I didn't feel comfortable in it like I did my Beetle.  Meanwhile, I hate, really hate, car shopping.  I don't like the notion of having two car loans.  And here we were trying to sell our Dodge and keep our reliable Beetle as our one car.   

So much for that bright idea.  (I drove the Dodge for a few weeks.  I prayed a lot.)

After several weeks and lots of negotiating, here he is: 

So shiny! 

Important things to know about car buying:

1- if you hate the redesign of your favorite car model, you will be buying used.  I drove nine other models of cars, but nothing drives like my Beetle.  I do hate the redesigned Beetle, so I knew I'd be looking at older ones, and I was ok with that. 

2- Certified pre owned is the only way to go. I have a power train warranty on this hottie. My previous Beetle-CPO, 10 years, and no problems. Here's to 10 years with this one!   

3- you can have your own mechanic check it out.  Sure, it cost me some change, but at the end of the day, the inspection warned me off one car that had $1400 in critical repairs needed, and alerted me to the one problem with this (it was missing a fender liner, which the dealer is replacing).  Totally worth the price.

4-walk away. The power of walking out is huge.  I walked out of dealerships several times.  You don't have to take anything less than the deal you want.  Hang in there. You are the consumer, and you have the power. Also, if you are hungry, go get a sandwich. Do not test drive or negotiate hungry. 

5-not every used car salesperson is smarmy.  I ended up really liking the guy I bought from.  I felt respected. He wasn't pushy.  Near the end, his manager was pushing him to close the sale for higher than I wanted.  I was getting close to walking.  My sales guy got some numbers for me, signed in the car as a loaner, and had me take it for the entire afternoon, solo.  I got to talk to some friends without any sales guy breathing down my neck, do some paperwork with the bank so I knew my exact terms (file under 'knowledge is power'), and drive it like I owned it. I came back and the salesguy gave me the deal I wanted. That solo ride sealed the deal.  

At the end of the day, I'm sorry that my faithful old Beetle was squashed.  I realized I missed it.  I lucked out in finding this one, and am very thankful to have what should be a trouble free car for a number of years. 

I just wasn't ready for my Beetle days to be over.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Did Spanish make me healthier?

When I first got to Oregon, I did not speak any Spanish.  I only speak a teeny amount now, just enough to manage a service and say hello, but that's about it.  But still.  I embarked on a mission to learn Spanish. 

Last fall, I went to Mexico for a language immersion and learned a TON.  It definitely helped me make a leap in my Spanish comprehension- I finally "got" the idea of verb endings- and helped me really start to understand the culture.  On the downside, I picked up a bug and came home with E. Coli.  Several weeks of antibiotics later, my tummy was free of bugs. 

Around then, my GI issues flared up with a vengeance.  For a long time,  I was managing with Lactaid, antacids, allergy meds, and decongestants, desperate for relief.  Everything from lactose issues to tooth cavities to IBS to an ulcer was tossed around.  

By July, after some fun rounds of tests, my doctor had diagnosed a dairy allergy.  He thinks I had a natural, mild intolerance that was severely aggravated by the food poisoning and perhaps a little over-training.  

Since then, I have noticed a host of things.  I haven't had a single episode of acid reflux since July.  I have stopped taking allergy medicine.  I have developed this weird super-smell sense, which actually isn't that great of a super-power when one must walk through downtown, but it's pretty cool when sitting on the back deck of your house.  

Most interestingly, I have always had issues with backwards bending yoga postures.  Usually, anything involving back bending or inversions gave me a problem.  I'd get queasy at best, and at worst, would have a big surge of acid reflux.  Usually, I'd also get dizzy.  

As my body heals from the tri, I've been doing Barre3 to regain flexibility and maintain strength, and have tried a few back bending postures.  No problems at all.  Even things like triangle postures, are having zero effect on me.  I am not sure if it's that I can breathe so much better all of the sudden, or that since my body isn't busy fighting off the dairy anymore, it has the energy to devote to things like balance and digestion.  

It's pretty neat, all the subtle ways I'm finding my body is healing itself.  I still hold out hope that I'll be one of the people who heals all the way and is able to tolerate dairy again some day, because there's a lot of delicious ice cream out there.  But I'm really grateful I had the doctor who got the proper diagnosis and told me to not eff around with this.  It's been a struggle, but things are really looking up for my poor gut.  

The way I figure it, if I had never studied Spanish, I'd never have gone to Mexico. I'd not have gotten E. Coli, and I wouldn't have gone to the doctor.  I wouldn't have gotten tested.  So, indirectly, studying Spanish made me a healthier person.  

Gracias, espanol.  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Life Stress

So, you know how I mentioned that Life Stress might have been a factor in my body freaking out and developing a dairy allergy?  

Life stress is hardly abating! 

I have learned that developing food or skin sensitivities is actually a known issue with endurance athletes, whether we are training to do an Ironman or to climb Mt. Everest.  A sweet high-level athlete has also shared that for her, her pregnancy was the thing that pushed her body into a gluten intolerance.  It is sometimes a symptom of overtraining, so I think I really need to commit to a nice gentle fall.  I rode to and from work yesterday, and was all tuckered out, even though the riding weather was perfect.  

So for this fall, my commitments are to get my body used to its new diet, and stretch and lengthen and do all that good Pilates and Yoga stuff.  And slowly, ease back into the biking.  

As for Life Stress... 

The shortest version of the story is that my beloved Beetle is no longer with us in this world, and now I must car shop. 

Car shopping is one of my two least favorite things to shop for, the other being trousers.  When shopping for trousers, I always have a terrible time finding cuts and fabrics that make me look lean and strong.  Most trousers are not cut for muscular women, and my mighty biking legs end up looking like chubby sausages.  Considering that I have actual, visible muscle, I KNOW I'm not a chubby sausage, but it is so hard to believe that when the mirror screams otherwise.  That is why I haven't bought new trousers to replace the ones I bought three years ago when I weighed about 25 pounds more, and it's getting awkward when female friends remark on how loose my clothes are and I can grab whole handfuls of extra fabric.  

Car shopping makes me feel like that.  Despite the fact that we have weathered this recession and this layoff reasonably well (without getting behind on a damn thing and managing to save every month), this extra expense makes me FEEL POOR.  I hate this recession, and I have been calling it a DEPRESSION for a long time.  In a good world, I would want people who have been through awful circumstances: chronic illness, layoffs, emergencies- to have a few years of GOOD LUCK.  We need some jubilee, where everything is forgiven.  And I guess that we need to start with forgiving ourselves, and accepting that less-than-ideal terms right now will be better in a few months.

But in the meantime...

I keep thinking, "What kind of roof racks will I need on the new car, whatever it is, so I can rack the bikes?"  

Do I have my priorities straight, or what?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Race directing

I am feeling a little like a super-powered race director right about now.  I started my morning with a green smoothie that any race director would approve of (bananas, almond milk, and collard, if you would like to know.)  I have a potential announcer on the line, and I should have my official approved permits in hand any day now.  I am working diligently on getting announcements ready.  Tomorrow, I call about those permits and get my route ready, and next thing, it's working with the race company to create a registration website.  All this has been single-person, behind-the-scenes work, but soon I will be about to roll into stuff that will be publicly visible.  

This might be the single most exciting thing I've gotten to do for a non-profit organization.  I've RUN charity races before, but to organize one?  Whew.  It's wild.    

I now have actual volunteers for my Race Day Team, so I think I am going to get them VOLUNTEER shirts so they can be extra cool.  Soon, it'll be time for our first Team Meeting.  Oh, yes.  There will be an agenda.  When I ran my first meeting at St. Mary's for parents of our pilgrims, I handed out an agenda. I thought I was going to be canonized on the spot.  My people love organization and agendas and getting things done.  

Like a RACE BOSS.  That's me.  

I've started having urges to ride bikes again.  I still think I'm on a break from running, but I am getting back in the saddle, as long as I am careful about that left heel.  It's healed, it's just new skin and I should be careful with it.  

Today I learned the sad truth that Sriracha potato chips, which I love dearly, are made with a large amount of dairy products.  I gave them to a fellow sriracha lover, and mourned their departure.  

So I made cheesy tofu bites and a sushi rice roll for dinner to soothe my sorrowing soul.  Yes, yes, even I recognize how lame that looks in writing, but it was much tastier than it sounds.  Trust me.  

In interesting news, I have learned that apparently, late-onset food allergies are not uncommon.  I am grateful to know that I am not a freak of nature.  In fact, it seems that it is a known phenomenon among endurance athletes, especially those who train through illnesses or major life stress or who are pushing for their first major event.  It's not exactly common, but it happens: the athlete develops an intolerance or allergy to a previously tolerated food.  So between Leadman, separation, food poisoning, flu, and Ironman, it makes sense that my body figured out a way to rebel.  

That's the good news.  And many people do recover fully, although it takes a very long time- typically eight months to a year.  The bad news?  Many other people find this is a life-long change.  Only time will tell with me! 

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Nice Slow Weekend, Race Plans, and BIke RIde

We've had a bit of craziness in my house lately, so M has been doing some solo running while I have been concentrating on starting to do some stretches.  It's only been the last few days that I have started to feel like I had my old energy levels back. 

I'm going to work on getting my new nutrition rules in order, which means working really hard on upping the protein without any dairy help, and focusing on getting my carbs from veggies.  Still, a huge change.  

I led a lovely field trip yesterday for my parish to The Grotto in Portland.  It is best known as a Catholic shrine and home to a monastery, and also a place where they put on an unbelievable Christmas Lights display.  However, it is one of those places that transcends religion.  You can get plenty of RC stuff in the bookstore and they do have a number of services, but I do not feel at all out of place wearing my collar or just being on the grounds.  I went to walk the labyrinth, and M and I walked to the paths several times, and then spent some time in the meditation chapel. 

The meditation chapel was far from meditative yesterday, as The Grotto had just finished services and was crawling with kids.  Kids asking questions about everything from who the statues were to what was for dinner.  But I think I am more than happy to sacrifice the meditation chapel once in a while.  Because the alternative to a very busy chapel filled with kids' screaming is a dead chapel filled with silence.  

The elevator to the cliff top.  (Clergy friends, you get in free.  Everyone else is 4.50 for grownups and 3.50 for over 65s.)  

The labyrinth.  I can't wait until St. Mary's has our own!!

Some surprising color in the midst of the gardens. 

In the meditation chapel, looking out at the view.  Seriously, I could spend an hour here when it's quiet.  In January, M and I did just that.  It is really a thin place. 

I snuck a picture of the church from the back pew!  There are bays of candles on either side, and the services take place in that little cave.  You can buy candles in the gift shop for various saints.  Next time, I think I'd like to pick up one of the little car rosaries for my rosary collection. 

Of course, we followed all this with dinner.  Several hours of walking around meant I earned my dinner, right?  Huge shout out to McCormick and Schmicks, who were so kind about my new friend, the dairy allergy.  They even sent the manager out to let me know that my spouse's chicken wings DID have butter, to let me know I shouldn't share that dish!  They also made my mussels without the butter.  They were delicious. 

Meanwhile, in race organizing, I have gotten our event on the national calendar and am rolling out the advertising.   I got our images, so this week, will start working on the posters and in-house designs for T-shirts and posters, and hopefully race medals!  I also plan to research race medal places, T-shirt vendors, and get a few more sponsors committed! 

Also this Sunday, I am going to bike ride to the parish picnic!  I haven't decided what to ride yet (the BMC or the Trek) since I'll be riding with a group who may or may not be riding fast.  Besides, I still have to wash the BMC.  I am shocked to realize that it's been several weeks since I've ridden.  It's NEVER been that long.  So I was really tired!  But I will get a burger on Sunday, so that is a good reason to ride, right? 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Dustiest Hike Ever

This past Sunday, after a very exciting and busy Friday and Saturday, we needed some decompression time.  Luckily, we have friends who might be the most relaxing people ever.  I don't know what it is about them, but after spending time with them I always feel like I've had this spiritual massage and been rubbed down with love and care. Seriously, they are awesome.  And it's the strangest thing because all of us are facing some pretty major life stress... 

At any rate, we have been talking about camping so we went to scope out some camping spots.  LAst winter, one of these friends and I went snow shoeing and loved the spot so much we thought it would be wonderful camping.  We returned on Sunday.

Let's just say it would be horrible camping.  The mountain that was deliciously cold with a 10 foot snowpack was scorchingly hot.  The delightful easy trails marked at eye level in the snow were actually two feet deep in scrubby brush with sparse signage way over our heads.  We finally found some OHV trails... Which were ankles deep in sandy dust!  Yeah, we got a little dirty.

But it was an adventure, dammit! 

We worked our way in for a while until we got to a less dusty section to sit and have a picnic.  We had all brought veggies and dips and bread, so it was a super healthy extravaganza spectacular.  Delicious.  

And then we all agreed to try camping elsewhere.  

On the way home we stopped to see some waterfalls.  As soon as we approached, we were greeted with a blowing mist that was a perfect natural air conditioner.  We strolled along, put our feet in the icey cold river, and let the mist wash the dust out of our throats.  

Perfect jump shot, no?  I am terribly vain about this one! Good job to M and his fast iPhone fingers! 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Two weeks out

So I am two weeks out from this race. 

In the meantime, I've had a number of great conversations with friends and relatives.  Some of them have been through food allergy things. Another one competed in bike stuff.  All are saying the same thing: your body is telling you it is too stressed out right now!  So take a rest and no more tri training for awhile. 

So I think I will be doing some Barre3 stuff.  I still can't wear my bike shoes, so I'm off the bike and out of the water until that blister injury fully heals.  At the worst, it was the size of about half my thumb, and as it heals, it's been acting more like a burn than a blister.  So it was a downright war wound, as one person said.  Ouch, baby. Ouch. 

After two weeks, I am finally starting to feel near normal energy levels returning. After a lot of reading of other tri blogs, I think I came pretty close to overtraining which is basically physical and mental burnout. And tri is so mental.  So a nice long break is not just a good idea, but it's one that I am seeing in blog after blog right now. Pros recuperating from rough seasons and injuries major and minor. Age groupers who had life stress like moving and PhDs.  Several people just raced slower than normal and need a  good break.  So I am joining that club for a while. 

Lots of news to come in the next few weeks about the Trees for Tilori 5K!  This is a very exciting project.