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! 

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