Monday, September 30, 2013

Not Exactly the Workout I Expected

So I pulled out the trainer today. Between really starting to feel better and all the rain, I have a bit of an abundance of energy at moment.  A few people have commented on my improvement in perkiness, so I guess all the clam soups and clam pasta sauces are helping.  (My fondness for the Spiralizer continues apace. No zucchini is safe around me these days! OOoo, maybe I'll make a raw sauce for lunch tomorrow...) 

As I was setting up the trainer, I headed downstairs to change into bike clothes.  I flipped on my bedroom light.  And there, in the corner, near my BED, was the largest, blackest, hairiest spider I have seen inside in Oregon.  

I may have shrieked a little.  

Ok, I screamed like a little girl.  

And then this is where I usually call M to save me.  Unfortunately,my amazing brave triathlete spider-saving spouse is out of town being a dutiful son, so I was on my own.  

This involved more shrieking and a large shoe and some pounding.  The body was so big it was still lumpy. So I sprinted upstairs and grabbed my vacuum.  And I vacuumed it up, and then dumped it into a garbage bag, and put it into the garage. And then I vacuumed the house and the stairs. 

I know that plenty of people wish I would save spiders, and honestly, I've come a long way from "squish and scream". Now it's scream and hope for my manly man to save me.  Spiders are good for the world, but I just can't handle them in bed with me!  

After all that, I decided maybe save the bike for tomorrow, since what with the screaming and vacuuming, it took about 45 minutes plus time to scrub the kitchen.  

What? I find kitchen scrubbing to be good therapy! 

Friday, September 27, 2013

First Run Back

So I went for a run, because I was getting curious to know how my iron plan is working. 

First of all, it's not surprising that my iron was down in the dumps.  I've been tracking my food for a bit using a new app called My Fitness Pal.  While it has a slightly dorky name, it tracks more nutrients than LoseIt- such as iron.  Basically, even WITH spinach, kale, a multivitamin, and every iron-rich veggie I could think of, I don't come near the RDA of iron.  

So on a day when I added a clam sauce to that mix... I came within 20% of the RDA of iron.  So I am adding iron-rich food as much as possible, and if this keeps up, I may consider a small iron supplement or changing my multivitamin to one with more iron in it.  Clearly, my body needs it. 

Today's run was actually pretty good.  For most of the run, I felt pretty strong.  My heartrate, in particular, was almost 20 BPM lower than my summer runs, for the first half of the run!  Clearly, the extended rest is doing something.  

I did get tired much more quickly than normal, so I pretty much pooped out on my second half.  So I guess I"m rebuilding.  It would help if I have something to rebuild FOR...

So now I have a goal!  My sister and I have agreed to run the Manchester Road Race in November!  It's a huge, famous race on Thanksgiving Day in Connecticut, and since we all decided to go to Connecticut this summer (because all the family will be in town and we want to meet my cousin's new baby, arriving any day now!), and my sis has run Manchester before, we thought it sounded fun.  It'll be cold!  So I will need my thermal tights, and might have to find a nice thermal sweater. 

But I think I should wear my Ironman 70.3 finisher hat, don't you?  

I am going to work on the running for a week or so before deciding what I want to shoot for in terms of pace.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

Spicy Lentil Stew

So over the weekend I got one of these at the church parking lot sale.

My dear mum had given me one when I was in seminary, but it was a super mega size one that could cook for about 20 people.  I gave it away to my church secretary several parishes ago because she was cooking for soccer teams, literally.  

But then I spent the last two years blowing things up in the pressure cooker, and cooking beans in my rice maker, and then I read an article about a slow cooking triathlete. With my long work hours plus my training time, I want good healthy hot meals when I get home from rainy training runs or rides.  And M likes to cook but not all the time. He'd like easy hot magical meals sometimes too.  So when I noticed this one, I figured it was worth the $5 at half price time.

Today, I made this. It is clean out the fridge time at our house, aka the end of the month when I decide to eat down the fridge and pantry before I do a stock up grocery run.  I try to use all the odds and ends I can. I had a recipe for a goodness soup, and a recipe for spicy lentil stew, so I decided to combine them and eliminate the dairy ingredients to see what happened.  

Worst case scenario, I figured we have great vegan pizza in this town.  

It started like this.

It came out like this.

This is my story.  

2 cups lentils.
Roughly chop all these veggies into chunks. I peeled them too.  
-3 stalks celery, two carrots. 
-Half onion. 
Enough water/stock to just cover the mixture.  I used Better than Buillion made slightly weak.  We are scientific here.  

Cumin, sage, oregano, and chili flakes, about a fat tsp of each.  I like spicy, so you can add more or less spicy according to taste.  I didn't need salt, but I did add pepper.  
You could add miso at the end if you like. I like miso, myself.

Optionals: (these were in my fridge- you can add any, all, or none of these.) 
I fennel bulb.  
Zucchini. (Half ish? I used the leftover ends after I was done spiralizing my lunch zucchini.)
Beet.  (I know, I hate beets, but I had one and I figured i wouldn't see it in the end product). 
Napa cabbage (about 1 c?) 
Bell pepper end (the rest was in my salad). 

Cook on low all day. Try not to freak out like I did.  The house won't burn down.  Trust the slow cooker.

About an hour from dinner, taste things. They should be cooked but not totally mushy. Crank that puppy up to high.  

15 minutes before dinner, purée the stew.  I used a separate blender, but smarty pants people say it's ok to use the hand blender.  Next time, I'll do that.  

Serve with crusty roll or in my case, a quick vegan stove top dumpling.  I bet if I had thought of dumplings earlier, I could have puréed the soup and added the dumplings when I got home. As it was, I used a stovetop griddle to cook them like wet sloppy English muffins. You could also put it over brown rice or maybe quinoa, if you like. 

I kept one serving of soup for tmrw, and put five into the freezer.  I had two servings tonight. I'm calling a serving four of my 1 cup ladle scoops (so four cups, or one big soup bowl), and my recipe calculator says that is 131 calories, 62% of your RDA for vitamin A, 6% of calcium, and a whopping 16.8% for iron.  You get 1 gram fat, 507g for potassium, 23.2 g carb, and 9 G protein.  

Next time, I think I will add some fat like some olive oil or coconut oil.  It was massively tasty just as it is, but I had this as a main supper dish.  Obviously, this is way low in fat, and as an athlete, I find my body really needs those extra fat calories. (I had two servings, and I'm stuffed, and still 500 calories under my "limit" for today. I need more!).  This would also be great for adding ribbons of dark greens- I might do that for Lunch tomorrow.  Just make ribbons of dark greens and stir them into the puréed stew.  Pretty, AND vitamins! Maybe I'll add that drizzle of olive oil tomorrow, too.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Climbing Steep Things, And Why I Bought Canned Clams And A Slow Cooker

So far this week, I had friends to visit from Back East, so I took them all over Eugene.  We explored a new way up Spencer Butte. I had been told of a second, higher parking lot route to the top of Spencer Butte.  All this time, I had thought that the only way to get the reward of the view at the top of the Butte was to HIKE THERE, as in, from a trailhead on Willamette Street or Fox Hollow, or for the punishment-loving, as a trail run/hike from Martin Street for more than four miles of super-steep pizza-earning motion.  

Turns out there is actually a huge parking lot, just up Willamette Street.  The trailhead in question has portapotties and two options to walk to the top of the Butte.  So all this time I thought that all Eugenians were badasses: well, most of them are slackers who start at this high trailhead.  The first option is 1.3 miles of a nice gradual (I guess) climb.  

The second option is ".6 miles- steep", according to the trail marker.  Guess what way we went?

You know what?  They aren't kidding about the steep part. 

The lower part of the trail had staircases built in.  Here, it was too steep for staircases!

The walk concludes with a scramble up this.  And then we watched sunset approach before we opted to book it down before darkness completely overtook us.  

My hopes of doing the descent with my dignity intact faded as we found a shortcut.  Two of the three of us, including yours truly, opted for the kindergarten-style crabwalk AKA "scooting down the mountain on your bottom".  It was highly efficient, if highly undignified.  Thankfully, the parking lot was deserted enough that I could safely drop trou and change my pants into a clean pair of trousers that I had in my Beetle!  

Oh, the shame.  

In other news, I think my attempts to get more vitamin D and iron into my poor flagging system is going well.  I've been informed that one should not take one's calcium supplements too close to an attempt to get iron into one's system.  I had been taking my calcium supplement first thing in the morning with my spinach smoothie- so my attempts to be good and follow doctor's orders was actually foiling my attempts to get all my nutrients through food.  So I started delaying taking my vitamins until lunch time, and at breakfast, I'm noshing on things like a spinach smoothie or some cereal with apricots and dried mangoes chopped up (fruits with lots of iron).  

I also started drinking OJ, because the Vitamin C helps one metabolize iron.  

I also got these bad boys, and am trying to work them in once or twice a week.  These are reportedly LOADED with good-for-you iron. 

In addition to all that, I'm back to doubling up on my vitamin D.  I spend so much time outside, that I stopped taking it when I ran out of it, and as my doctor reminds me, due to my indoor job plus my dwelling in Oregon plus my faithful application of sunscreen, I just don't get nearly enough vitamin D.  

Since starting the Vitamin D again, plus changing the time I take my vitamins, plus adding the extra foods, I have started sleeping a bit better (always a challenge for this chronic insomniac!), waking UP better (as in, waking up feeling like I've rested, plus waking up pain-free), and have noticed my swollen feet finally returning to size.  That's right- after TWO MONTHS during which I had loosened the straps and laces on all my shoes to accommodate my first-injured-then-swollen foot, I was just yesterday able to cinch my shoes tighter again!  

I noticed on our recent hike up the Butte and then on our walk around at the Dee Wright observatory that I feel like I can breathe better.  I don't feel like I'm gasping for air.  I wish I had been wearing my heart rate monitor, because I feel like my heart rate is spiking less.  Best of all, my hands and especially my feet are getting warm again!  My feet had been both swollen and achingly cold for the last two months and suddenly, they are warm and toasty again!  

I think it was a good thing to get the blood test from the doc.  It sure got me some good answers!

I think it'll be time to start working in some bikes and runs this week to see if the iron and vitamin D are really helping.  Hopefully, it was just a nutrition problem!  Maybe I can spend this fall dialing in my nutrition so I can focus next season on speed goals. 

At the church Parking Lot Sale today, I scored this puppy: 
One of my new favorite bloggers is Frayed Laces, who seems to eat pretty much like I do, and suffers similar body issues to me (low iron and such!) and she posted a delicious looking set of FOUR slow cooker recipes, including two vegetarian ones!  So I am going to try them out to see if I like slow cooking.  I'm also going to try beans in it.  I love keeping beans in my freezer, but I hate using the pressure cooker.  After 2 years, I am still blowing up beans no matter what I do.  Another famous bean method involves the slow cooker... so we shall try this and see what happens!  If I hate it, I've only spent $5 on it! 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Iron solutions

So at the end of the story... 

My iron levels are low, but not so low that I need to do artificial supplementation.  I need to be careful to add extra iron into my diet and see how that goes.  So starting as soon as I can muster up the energy to go to the store, it's clams and molasses for me for a while and seeing if that can boost my iron levels back to where they should be.  

It's not the iron that's a problem, so much as the ferritin. If I understand this correctly, ferritin carries iron around and puts it where it needs to be when you need it.  Low ferritin is kind of an endurance athlete problem, or at least one we should be aware of.  

So I'll be eating lots of clams for a while and stuff and we shall see how things progress. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lining up Volunteers, Sponsors, and The Spiralizer

This week, I started lining up sponsors.  Some are big, some are small, and I'll be super excited to have them all! I also gave out a ton of reminder cards at the Pearl District Block Party, and hope that many of those people will sign up.  Not many people have signed up yet, but I usually wait until the week of a 5k to sign up myself, so I don't blame them for waiting.  I'm hopeful that this late season race will bring some interested parties in.  

I also got part of my already-amazing volunteer team confirmed.  Water stops. Finish line.  We are almost entirely good to roll, volunteer wise! Volunteers have lined up the Tshirts and are checking their schedules to see if they can be bike chasers.

What, bike chase?  What is this, a real race? Oh, yeah.  We are so legit. 

In other news, it is kind of hard to type with a 15 lb cat draped over your arm, but he is purring, and otherwise so miserable.  M is out of town, and this cat pouts SO MUCH without his Big Cat, M.  

In recovery related news, my tests came back with a few low levels, especially of things like iron, which explain the near-constant fatigue.  So I get to follow up this week to see what exactly I do about this, because psychologically, I'm done with the resting stuff. 

I also bought a Spiralizer this month.  It's a kitchen gadget that turns veggies like zucchini and carrots into long strips, like a veggie pasta.  It's very big in the raw food world, and I've been intrigued by them for years.  I just never got around to actually buying one.  

Until I did.  


It's about 1/2 a zucchini in each photo.  (And less than 1 carrot).  
This is my biggest mixing bowl! 

A raw "pad Thai" with a peanutty sort of sauce and tofu. It fills up my generously sized salad bowl.   I left out the cabbage from the recipe.  Then I ate this for three days straight.  It's that good.  I got this recipe off, who is an awesome triathlete and genius (she does have a PhD, in fact).  I wish I could link to it, but I think that the Blogger app does not allow me to link just yet. 

So then I made a hot sauce with veggie sausage (tofurkey), canned tomatoes, and rawmesan cheese.  It works beautifully.  I've been eating this since yesterday, and pouted my way through my delicious califlower "rice" stuffed peppers at lunch because I am so obsessed with the zucchini stuff right now.  

So new tool, new toy.  Look for me to start inventing recipes soon!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Race directing, volunteers, and WTF, heart rate?

So race directing is clipping along.  We have a great Tshirt guy, a wonderful volunteer committee, and some sponsorships being lined up.  So cool.  

Registration is now live!

Now I gotta work on race photos! 

In recovery news, things are going well.  I got a little lazy about checking all ingredients (I think I got nailed with b
y a  bread or by some buttered potatoes, so I am accepting this game is not over yet with the dairy issues.  

Oddly, I have been noticing that running and biking is both easier and harder. The physical exertion doesn't feel that different, but the
Heart rate and exhaustion afterwards is crazy weird.  Basically, my heart rate is spiking much higher, much faster, and taking longer to come down.

I have a follow up this week to get some bloodwork, but I suspect I'll be told to continue taking it easy. 

With that said, it's off to get some eggs.  I never get tired of eggs.  

Friday, September 6, 2013

One bike

Today I went for my first bike ride since the race. I must be cruelly unfashionable right now and wear tall socks so that no seams rub against the tender pink new skin that is patchworking my heel.  That was sure a very deep blister!  

The bike was lovely.  Humid, of course.  We had a ton of rain yesterday, but the weather is still warm and we live in the Willamette Valley, so air just sits.  Very brown, since we are in the brown season.  Stinky at times, because I ride by sheep farms and sheep are very, very smelly.  But overall, I had a magical tailwind most of the time and held a 17mph pace.  Even the hill climb to get home wasn't bad- I granny geared it, of course, but my heart rate didn't spike through the roof and I did not feel as though instant death awaited me with every pedal turn.  

Maybe the month-plus resting has been good?

My tummy felt mostly ok, though I was craving kale throughout the ride.  Guess the body wants more greens for breakfast. So I'm going to make myself some kale chips for later. I've realized that I still must be super careful about the dairy issues.  There are no signs of resolution so far, so I am not going to be one of the fast bounce-back-to-normal people.  I got a little lazy last week about checking ingredients, and got nailed by something (probably a burger bun or a sauce).  It's just not worth the GI issues or the stuffy face or the heartburn that comes with my body's freak out.  So yesterday at the Italian place, I had to change my order. The waitress discovered that they make the gnocchi with cream, so I had to change to a penne.  Deep sigh.  But the sauce was delightful and spicy, and awesome if you are used to a spicy bite when you go Italian. (Says the Italian girl.). 

I'm off to make some miso soup and drink all the Gatorade I didn't drink on my ride and hydrate myself.  It was a good ride, and I am happy that I don't seem to have lost any speed, strength, or fitness in my month of total slacking.  

One run

The other day, I went out for my first run post-race. I guess I'm finally feeling not-burnt-out. 

I headed right back in to change my socks to high-waters. All the new tender pink skin on the back of my heel does not like anything rubbing right now. 

It was a slow run, but I didn't feel wrecked.  It was ok.  

Now it is time for some biking! 

In race organizing news, registration is now up! You can make donations as well as register to run or walk. So exciting!  Need a link? 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

More adventures in Race Organizing

Last week, my trusty T Shirt volunteer and I headed out to get some Tshirt prices!  Then I informally polled other runners to decide on a price, and opted for low pricing to make more people interested in running or walking.  

I hope to have a link to our registration site very soon!  

So much of the work right now has been behind the scenes, but very soon I will be shifting into public, visible work and announcements will be comings like wildfire!  

My most exciting sponsor is still Road ID, but I hope that we will have other sponsors that I can publicly announce very, very soon!