Thursday, September 10, 2015

The New Steed!

So among other things, last week, I had some fun at bike shops.

They did not have fun at bike shops.  But they like to use each other as pillows.  



I'd been in the market to replace my commuter for a while now.  I have a Trek 7100, men's (a high cross bar).  These days, I'm commuting mostly in normal clothes, so I had gotten hooked on the step-thru frames of the Capital Bikeshares so I could ride in dresses or skirts.  But in my neighborhood, Bikeshare is so popular that the docks are frequently empty by the time I go to work!  I will not give up Bikeshare, but I was frequently wanting something that would be available all the time.

I started test riding a few months ago, driving the shops nuts because I research things to within an inch of of sanity.  I rode a couple of frames called a mixte (MIX-tee, MIX, or MIX-eee, we think).  I ruled out stepthrus because they were heavy.

And then I rode a folder.  A folder is a bike that folds up- like Bike Fridays, Bromptons, Dahons, Terns, and Citizen Bikes, to name a few.  In some cases, they can even be put into a suitcase and traveled with!

The DC Metro does not allow bikes on trains during rush hours... but they do allow folded folding bikes!  Since I frequently mix up my commute (between bike, bus, and metro), I like the idea of flexibility.  You know, just in case I'm really tired and want to ride from work to the Bethesda metro, then get off at Tenleytown and not wait for the bus.

What with one thing and another, I now own a lovely used Tern D7i.  It's a great bike with a few commute friendly special features: an internal hub (safe from grit, potholes, and road junk!), a funky covered chain (not a chain guard- a covered chain!  To keep pants clean), and an extra bonus front rack.  I thought I'd hate that rack and pull it off in a day... but I find I'm using it constantly.  It attaches to the frame, so the weight is borne on the frame and not the handlebars.  Unlike the Bikeshare bikes with their baskets on the handlebars, this doesn't affect the steering at all.  I also have a rear rack which has lent itself to the discovery that I can now pack more stuff when I go to work.  On a Bikeshare, I was always working to minimize my load.  The racks mean that I can now ride without worrying about weight or bag size.  HANDY!
Here's that internal hub and covered chain. 

(Because, yes, there were a few days when I took the bus or drove if I had more things than I could fit into a single bag.  I don't need to do that if I don't want to, now.)
And hey, check it out- reflective wheels!

I'm considering panniers for that rear rack, in fact.

But first things first.  I need to get a bell and some lights for riding at night.

Here's my new-to-me Tern!
Overall, my not-scientific review is that the Tern is blowing my expectations out of the water.  I was a little hesitant to get a folder, thinking it might be a one-trick pony.  I took it on metro last Friday just to see how it would handle the job.  Folding it has been easy.  And at my destination, a friendly Metro employee helped hold the gate for me as I carried it out.  He didn't bat an eye, so I guess he sees a few of these each day!  I unfolded the bike and whizzed along to my destination- a store where I replaced my running shoes.

I strapped the box on my rear rack and secured my bag on the front and headed out.

I planned to take the metro home.  But I saw the W&OD trail... a fun, easy trail in DC that is a huge commuting zone.  I did not have water or supplies, so I didn't think a big ride was in the cards. I thought maybe instead of East Falls Church, the stop right in front of me, I could ride to Ballston instead.

So I whizzed along the trails.

And when I got to the signs for Ballston, the ride felt so good I kept going.  Maybe I'd go to Rosslyn, I thought.  

And I kept whizzing along to Rosslyn, past that fun sign where it counts trail users.  And as I approached Rosslyn, I reminded myself that it was on the Blue/Orange/Silver line, and I live off the Red, so I'd still have a metro ride and a train change in front of me... but I was right near Georgetown and maybe I'd just go take the bus.

Here's the folded Tern ready for sitting in the office, with the handlebar still up since I'm trying to figure out how to roll it for short distances.  IT'll never roll like a Bike Friday Tikit or a Brompton, but it'll roll a little bit! 
So I whizzed along into Georgetown where the main drag was clogged with vehicles honking and belching at each other as they gridlocked.  Thinking I'd best get above the fray, I hopped on a side walk, rode up a street, headed down a cobblestone street that I have now nicknamed "The Iron Cooter" for the jolting it hands out, and started noodling up a side road.  I popped out near the library, and realized I had accidentally climbed part of the famous Big Hill of Georgetown.  Whoops!

Besides, I stopped to check the bus arrivals, and the bus was about 22 minutes away in traffic.  I was only half a mile from home.  I could ride half a mile in a fraction of that time.  So I took off, and arrived at home.

Overall...

The Tern has really been surprising me with its comfort and ride-ability.  It's riding like a real bike, even with the smaller tires.  I am pacing road bikes, unless they have e-assist, which is cheating and probably feels really awesome.  I am really glad I spent the extra money to get the Tern instead of the other entry level bike I was considering- the better components and the folding pedals have been totally worth it.

There are a few quirks... I am still getting used to the folding and I am trying to master rolling it.  Technically, you aren't supposed to be able to roll a Tern or a Dahon, but there are videos that demo it, so it must be true!  That would certain make metro commuting a little easier.  And the magnet on the wheels doesn't hold all that strongly.  So I'll probably do a hack of some sort of keep the wheels together.

Overall, I think I'll be very happy on this little bike... and I am actually looking forward to my next trip so I can take it along for the journey!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

EDOW BIke Ride!

So I've been consumed, this past month, with training for a century, a half-marathon, normal work, and organizing the EDOW Ride for Bicycle Saftey.  We  were trying to raise funds to help WABA (the Washington Area Bicycle Association) fund their projects in raising awareness of Vision Zero, the worldwide initiative to elminate cyclist and pedestrian deaths by the year 2024.

Given how many cyclists have been struck and killed here in the Baltimore to DC area this year, this is all too timely.  We all need to respect each other's humanity, got it?  

Anyway:  the Oxon Hill Bike Club's Indian Head Century.  This was going to be a century attempt for me and M.  I'd made several attempts on a road bike to ride a century, all of which ended in crashes and mechanicals.  He had yet to try.  Both of us were somewhat undertrained, and he was riding a newly built up bike. The odds were not in our favor!


I woke up with raging anxiety.  But we got loaded up and headed out to the ride. We found the other EDOW riders and were rolling by about 7:30.  The first leg went beautifully, although I was still fighting uncomfortable anxiety.   At the first rest stop, they give you Egg McMuffins!  Chomp chomp, down the hatch.  Egggs on bread?  Yes, please.  

Here's where our group split up.  One member was preparing to leave for a huge triathlon, so she was riding a shorter ride.  The Bishop was ready to roll, but I had been riding a little faster than her.  So I told her to go ahead with the triathlete and have a nice ride to the next rest stop while I waited for M to get his sandwich.  That all went well, and pretty soon we were rolling ourselves, expecting we'd catch the Bishop at the second rest stop. 

I was riding along, still feeling super anxious, when I could no longer deny that I really, really had to pee.  I have a little bit of a nervous bladder, OK?  Multiple potty visits had not done the trick, OK?  There's way too much TMI in ride reports, OK?  So I looked and looked for a suitable stand of trees that were not also someone's rural front yard.  FInally, I found a construction site with some unclaimed land, and I glopped through the mud to do the necessary.  

That explains how I failed to clip in when I tried to get back on the bike.  M took a look at my shoes, and we spent several minutes digging this cement-like mud out of my cleats!  I was worried the mud would dry in place and cement me to my bike!  We used half a water bottle to wash the cleans as clean as possible.  

And then we were rolling again.  Around Liverpool Road, I had just gone by this totally redneck-y house (cars in various stages of repair in the front lawn, some sort of carcass grilling on a fire, a hairy man in a wife-beater type shirt) when I heard this loud report, like a gunshot.  For a split second, I thought the guy was doing target practice.  But immediately, my back wheel fishtailed!  I was the one who'd blown!  Thankfully, I did not crash.  I grabbed my brakes gently and slowed to a stop.  My tire was indeed flat!  Everyone was really nice, asking if we had everything we needed (which we did), as they rode by.  We changed my flat, and used a CO2 canister to pump it.  

Here's Heroic Tesi working on my tire while I take pictures and calm down after I avoided wiping out during the exciting Tire Explosion and Resulting Fish Tail.  

That's a glove on the ground, and M working the tire over the rim.  

Pro tip: CO2 canisters only give you about half a tire's worth of air.  So I had a pretty mushy tire, and about 10 miles to go to the next rest stop.  Oh well.  It's enough to get you rolling.  

We had to slow way down to compensate for my mushy tire.  Between the bathroom break, the mud cleaning, the flat, and the slowing down, we had added over 40 minutes onto this leg.  I knew we would not catch up to the Bishop today, unless she took a nap at the next stop!  

It was hard work for those 10 miles.  Tires are firm for a reason, and we had some giant potholes and rough road to contend with.  So for 10 miles, I was getting HAMMERED with some major road jolts.  Plus I had to work REALLY HARD.  It's harder to pedal a soft tire!  I was really happy to roll into rest stop 2, and pump my tire.  (Interestingly, my anxiety had gone away entirely.  Premonition, maybe?)

After getting some ice and Gatorade and snacks, we were on our way to the next stop.  This turned out to be a fun one.  Each stop had lots of good snacks, and the third stop had tomato/mayo sandwiches!  I passed on those because I was dealing with some cramping and pain after my hard effort.  I met a guy who offered me some naproxen sodium.  I thought he meant Aleve until he pulled out a prescription bottle.  But hey, I was really, really hurting and wasting a lot of effort on pain.  So I swallowed a few.  Thanks, stranger who gave me drugs!  You saved my day!  

Disclaimer:  Do not, in general, take prescription drugs offered to you by a stranger.  The rules of life are different when you are both wearing spandex and riding 100 miles.  

At this stop, M met an old friend of his from his work days in a bike shop.  They shot the breeze and admired M's build... until I realized that - between all the delays- we had a hard cut-off coming up!  We had to pass a certain checkpoint by a certain time or we would not be able to finish the full ride!  M's friend jumped on his bike, and M and I took off as well.  The race to beat the cut off was on!  

We had 45 minutes to beat the cutoff in 10 miles, and 1 hour to make the next rest stop.  

As it turned out, this was the most grueling leg of the day.  The weather had heated up, and this leg had the most gruesome climbing of the day- 4 big hills and lots of rollers.  I love riding rollers.  But man, those big hills, combined with me still fighting the last of the pain before the drugs kicked in, plus not having my salt sticks on hand... wow.  I was hurting.  I kept telling myself I'd just get to the cut off, and I was really fighting with myself.  

Part of me wanted to sock it in, to quit, and ride the shorter route.  I was tired, and in pain, and feeling foggy.  Part of me wanted to ride the whole thing because I'd be embarrassed to quit.  Most of me wanted to cry a little because I was feeling sorry for myself.  And we had gotten swept up in a group of riders.  M had talked a little to another guy, and then the group moved ahead while I was struggling up a hill.  M has been riding so super strong, and his jersey had blue and red on it.  As I crested the hill, I saw the group ahead of me, with a blue and red jersey winking out of sight as they rode away.  

"Dammit all", I thought.  "They dropped me, and M doesn't realize it.  I need to keep them in sight so I don't lose him!"  So I turned on the burners and gave it everything I had.  I chased that group of guys up and down every single damn hill in that leg... every awful, long, grueling hill.  I stayed in my big ring trying to keep them in sight.  

I worked so hard that I rode by a bunch of them who were turning left where the different colored arrows pointed out an alternate route.  I kept going, following the orange signs.  FInally, I saw the group leader... AND NO M! 

I asked if he'd seen M.  

"Nope", he said, "Haven't seen that guy for a while!"  Where did he go?  

I turned a corner, and, still not seeing M anywhere in the distance, I pulled out my phone to call him... when he rode up behind me.  

"Where've you been?"  I squealed in delight.  Or at least, I meant to squeal in delight.  I think it came out more in pained gasps.  As it turned out, he'd never passed me.  I thought I'd been chasing him this whole time... and he'd been behind me, noodling away while his crazy wife went ape-sh*t on the big-*ss hills.  

Whoops.  

I guess I'll never know who was in that blue-and-red jersey.  

Well, nothing to do but keep going.  As we would later learn, we had beat the cutoff.  THe cutoff had been about a mile behind us where those other guys had turned off to to follow the other route.  We had done 10 miles in just under 30 minutes, buying us 45 minutes to get to the next rest stop, just 4 miles up the road.  

Key word: Up.  

At the time, I was not paying attention to the word "up".  I had lost count of the hills, and I was more concerned with being hot and tired.  I pulled on my arm coolers (essential items for pale girls like me) to ease my suffering.  I forced myself to suck down a gel.  And we started out to the St. Ignatius rest stop. 

Super Pro Tip:  When you are feling a little almost-queasy on a big endurance effort, for love of sweet baby Jesus and all the angels, force yourself to eat!  I started reviving after I started forcing down gels.  I tend to resist eating, because Ijustdonwanna, but you HAVE to force yourself right at that time.  It helps.  I promise.  

Now, the Indian Head Ride has a famous climb: the Rose Hill Climb, and everyone was freaking out about it.  So steep.  So long.  So hard.  But for me, St. Ignatius stands out as the worst climb.  I didn't realize it was coming up.  After a few nice rollers, the road angled up... and didn't stop.  I crawled up a long curvy hill.  I started doing my count-to-30 trick, where I count out loud to 30 in tough spots.  (The rule is that I can't stop until I hit the number 30, and then I can take a breather.  By then, I'm usually at the top of the hill.  Funny how that works.)  And the road suddenly angled STRAIGHT FREAKIN' UP.  

I stood on my pedals.  I counted.  I breathed.  I sat.  I clicked into my lowest gear.  I repeated that sequence.   And I was really starting to think I was not going to make it up that hill... when I finally crested that bugger.  

The view was tremendous.  Not that I was thinking about it at the moment.  With my last strength, I clicked out of my pedals and gasped to a halt.  I swear that hill must have been a 10% grade.  Or more.  However steep it needs to be for you to think I'm very badass.  

St. Ignatius had a brilliant rest stop.  Grapes.  Fruit.  Granola bars.  And lots and lots of cold Gatorade. (The last stop before this had been out of Gatorade, so I was desperate!)  Lots of friendly people who handed you stuff.  People who hand you stuff are AWESOME when you are hot and tired.  

Around now, M walked up.  He was hurting.  Without Gatorade, the heat of the day was really taking its toll.  He was hot and tired and cramping.  His legs were having a mutiny.  We started stuffing him with Gatorade and bananas, and the girls on the banana table were thrilled to have such an enthusiastic audience of one! 

We checked the map.  That is where we learned we had beat the cutoff for the last turn off, and were within the time limit for the whole ride.  

"I guess we're doing this thing,"  M said.  

"Yep," said I, "but I am going to walk Rose Hill if I need to."  You see, I could see that there was just one more big hill left that day... Rose Hill.  The drugs had done the trick and I wasn't in pain anymore, but my legs were still pretty crampy and tired.  I've climbed mountains on my BMC, so I really didn't feel the need to prove myself with one more hill.  10 hilly miles in under 30 minutes was good enough for me!  And besides, I had a feeling M would walk Rose Hill to spare HIS legs, which were way more crampy than mine.  And I'd rather stick with him and walk than drop him when he was hurting.  You know, love and mushy stuff like that.  

So we rode along, through some fun little rollers and down a huge beautiful downhill.  And rode about ⅓ of the way up Rose Hill, and then it started to hurt.  So I climbed off, and walked the last bit.  Then we hopped back on and rode to the rest stop.  

It was a hot day, and that rest stop was serving icees, or slushees, or slurpees, or whatever you call the sugar-filled ice slush.  It was the best stuff I've ever eaten in forever, I had three cups, and I am pretty sure they have all gotten special angel wings in the various heavens of at least 4 religions for their actions that day.  That is all.  

The root beer slushee is magical.  I stopped feeling discomfort (or maybe my butt had finally gone numb?) and I knew it was nothing but rollers all the way back.  

A simple 10 miles later, we were rolling into Indian Head Village Green.  

Now here's the fun thing about being among the last:  (yes, we were)... there's a lot of great stories.  The people who come in dead last are the people who gutted out the ride.  We are the ones who weathered tummy aches, mechanical problems, missed turns.  We are the crowd who fixed two flats or a broken chain in the field.  We are the ones who toughed it out over cramping thighs.  There are really good stories among the last of us, the ones who were showed some grit when it got tough.  

And we were rewarded with hot dogs, and sandwiches, and fruit, and as much ice tea as we could drink.  Thanks to St James Episcopal who kept handing me food until my plate was full.  

All in all, brilliant ride.  I am thrilled to have my road bike century at last.  M has his first-ever century.  No injuries.  No major ride-ending mechanicals.  No trips to any hospitals.  Just hot dogs.  

I think we should do this again next year!  


































Monday, August 10, 2015

A new route home

Yesterday, I rode my BMC down to Haines Point, a popular, super-flat area of DC.  It was a fun ride.  M rode a Capital Bikeshare bike down so he could get a swim in, and we rode through some Fun Times Traffic of DC on Sunday.  (DC does not have Fun Times Traffic on Sunday.  It has a lot of tourists who don't know how to drive.)

I rode the Haines circuit three times.  On one circumnavigation, I saw a guy on a tri bike.  So I caught him, and dropped him!  That is always fun.  Then a chick on a road bike caught me, and dropped me, and I guess the guy decided to kick it into gear and came back and caught me.  But he never did catch the chick, and none of us caught whoever it was in the pink up ahead.

I decided to ride home a different way to see if it was any better than city streets.  So I went down Ohio Drive, got turned around on Rock Creek, ran across a traffic circle like I was doing cyclocross, and finally came out on Calvert near Open City.

Hmmm... I don't know if I like that route.  On one hand, it is certainly a straighter shot.  On the other hand, the Rock Creek trail is very narrow in many spots, and has a LOT of tourists, and people doing things like enjoying the volleyball courts.  So it's less a RIDE and more of a slow, careful "remember you are in shared space" noodle.  Plus, you cannot ride Rock Creek Parkway.  (No shoulder, way too dangerous) and the trail does not give me any way to get to Massachusetts, which would be a very straight shot.

On the other hand, I felt kind of badass working my way up the last few hills.  My strength is coming back, and in Oregon, I'd gotten pretty strong on those hills.  So pulling up a hill again without feeling like I'm gonna die... it's a feeling I'd missed.  I even pushed it up the super-punchy steep climb from the Rock Creek trail to Calvert.  Strong is good.

I do think I need to ride my roadie some more.  My bike handling is pretty tentative.  With the return of normal feelings, I'm realizing that I got used to compensating for general weakness and a sense of balance that was a little off.  So now I have to break some bad habits I picked up over the last few years, like constant unclipping and not trusting myself to stay upright.  So some more bike handling work is in the future for me!


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Taking my vitamins again A New Protein Powder

So among other things, things are coming together.

BTW, I do know this is the most boring blog ever.  I'm not trying to keep it to educate the world or gain any readers.  It's just that having a public blog helps me stay accountable to my training, and it helps me to look back at my nutrition issues long-term.

Taking my Vitamins: 

  • For several reasons, I decided to start taking a multivitamin again.  

  • I don't think multivitamins are necessarily required for everyone, but you gotta pay attention to your own life.  I don't eat a lot of meat- in fact, I think it's been a little over 3 weeks since I last had meat.  I'm not anti-meat, but I just find myself naturally choosing vegetarian meals. 

  • I nabbed the Alive! brand of vitamin.  Back in the midst of the e.Coli recovery fun, the "Max Potency" version was recommended. I took that plus probiotics for a long time, weaning down slowly as my body recovered.  I know that people doing surgery like lap band or gastric bypass often take the liquid form.  It's certainly more expensive than the average vitamin at the grocery store, but I find it sits well in my tummy.  I feel like it was a significant factor in my recovery then, so I thought the toned-down normal version of it would help me stay healthy now.  

  • Why multivites?  Well, during the Year of e.Coli, I also got overtrained, and I was trying to be all-vegetarian, no-supplements, kale-is-my-sunshine in Oregon.  I lost sight of the fact that nutrition is a big-picture project and that everyone is individual.  You might be able to be a kale-is-my-sunshine no-supplement person, but in cloudy gorgeous Oregon, I should have been supplementing.  I would have still gotten sick from accidentally drinking tainted punch in Mexico, but if I had been supplementing (ahem, and had backed off my training like a normal person), I think I might not have suffered as much damage as I did.  In other words, supplements and science exist for a reason.   I'm not going to make that mistake again.   

  • I also nabbed the Nordic Naturals Vitamin D.  I've been supplementing that for a month and a half now, since my doc says I have a whopping D deficiency.  I've been learning about Nordic Naturals in my Secret Solace Job at the dog and cat nutrition store, and I figure if I would support feeding it to my pet, then I should support the human version for me!  We will see if I feel a big difference between that and the regular grocery store vitamin D gummies.  

  • Yes, I know I'm a grownup, but I get the gummy versions of vitamins because I hate pills.  Don't judge.  

Getting my Protein: 


  • I also decided to change up the protein powder I use.  I've been using a pea protein since I learned I was lactose intolerant.  I used whey protein sporadically for a long time, and quite naturally had a near-constant upset stomach.  I knew protein was important for so many things, but I hated how horrible the protein supplement made my tummy feel!  

  • Duh.  Once I switched to a dairy-free formula, I stopped feeling crappy all the time.  Vega was OK, but it felt a little sweet and grainy to me.  Ultimately, I liked that pea protein basically disappeared into my smoothies.  All the benefits, and it was invisible.  (And yes, protein did keep me full and happy.)

  • I am going to try a hemp protein.  I'd been seeing some articles about it having the full amino acid profile.  Again, I don't eat very much meat, and that means, as a slacker-tarian who is mostly vegetarian/some days full vegan, I don't get those amino acids.  I do need to supplement them.  Amino acids are good for us!

  • Besides, I'd also been reading about hemp and those amino acids and its ability to combat fatigue.  I've been waking up kinda tired, especially with super tired feet and legs.  Since I have a job where I stand up a great deal and I'm pretty active, that's not very comfortable.  So I'm going to try the hemp protein to see if it really does help with fatigue!  

TRAINING: 


  • As far as training:  going OK.  The Galloway method is challenging, and interesting.  

  • I'm finding I have a pretty big form issue:  I don't lift my knees enough.  Or, well, at all.  I have a perpetual shuffle.  And I have no kick.  At all.  So I need to learn to cycle my legs more, and that might help me break through this speed plateau.  

  • My endurance is coming along nicely, but the shuffle step is really holding me back.  I notice, on trails, the problem disappears.  Probably I'm so busy reading the trail and looking for obstacles to leap over that I don't think about "PAIN!  AGONY! THE BONES OF MY LEGS ARE BEING HAMMERED THROUGH MY SPINAL COLUMN!" like I do on the side walks.  Running is not all that comfortable, even with good shoes.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

What a break!

Well, it's a good thing I just blog as a way of keeping a training journal these days or else I'd be a very delinquent writer to my hordes of readers.  (Hi Uncle T!) 

It's been crazy busy here.  I keep having thoughts of posts, but never actually get around to sitting and writing.  I'll be working from home this afternoon, so maybe I can schedule that in? 

One thing I did about a month ago was pick up a second job at Wylie Wagg.  I've joked for a long time about a "secret solace job" where no one knew what I did, so I'd have a break from you know, caring about people.  So I help people buy dog food and I pat their pups.  It's actually quite relaxing.  I know it won't be a long term thing, but it's fun for now.  If I get into grad school or go full time in a job that is going to have to go away.  


I'vee been biking, running, and organizing a ride.  In particular, I started and quit two training programs for my half marathon.  I quit the Couch 2 5K programs which several runners recommended for speedwork, because I found they were just too slow for where I am.  I am not fast by any stretch, but I wasn't that slow or out of shape.  So I started a different program based on a game board, but it required too many days of running (4-6) and I need time to bike and to do strength and core training.  

So last week, I discovered the Galloway method, which is based on about 3 days of running with two short and one long run a week, using a run-walk model and occasional speed trials.  That leaves me time to bike and strength train, and fits me much better.  It's hard enough to be challenging (it gives me  an idea of how hard to go if I have a given time goal), but not so hard I feel I can't do it.  

Saturday took me on a long run through Rock Creek Park where I finally hit some gorgeous real trails.  We are really lucky to have Rock Creek in this town!  But man  was it hilly!  It was nice, though, to hit the final, flat homestretch and finish strong. 

Also nice was remembering to grab my Stick and roll out my hamstrings.  I've been horrible with stretching and actually had a huge knot in my left hamstring that would have been major cramps for a few days... but within a few minutes of rolling, I'd released that knot and have had no problems.  Note to self... take the time to stretch and roll! 

In other news, the thyroid medication experiment continues.  I was told it could take 6-8 weeks until I noticed big changes.  The last few days, it feels like something switched on.  I've been much warmer and had much more sensitive toes and fingers, and I've had a strong thirst drive.  My  doc mentioned that was something I might expect.  People with a slow thryoid often have little to no thirst mechanism, so when it starts returning to normal your body starts wanting what it has been missing.  But I still have problems with plain water, so I have been drinking coconut water and fizzy water whenever I can.  

That's all the news that fit to print before 3 incredibly busy days kick off.  Ah,, who do I kid?  I'm 4 hours in already with two and a half more days to go!  I have 3 services, 1 premarital session, two meetings, finishing up the publicity and getting the registration live for the bike ride, getting things ready to cover the Rector's vacation, and handling all the regular pastoral stuff that rolls through.  So I'm a busy,k busy girl this week!  

In happy news: the best money I spent last week (now that we are emerging from our years of deprivation and poverty!) was tickets to the Star Wars Day game!  I got tickets in our new favorite spot- super high aobve the field but a gorgeous view of all the action and easy access to snacks.  I still like nice low seats from time to time, but I won't deny that those high seats, with the shade covering, is nice when you have easy-burn skin like mine!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Breakfast Soup (recipe at end. Oh, yeah, recipes!)

The last two days, I've been having breakfast soup for breakfast.  One of my favorite breakfasts ever was been grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.  Ever since the lactose intolerance, the grilled cheese is out of the picture, which leaves me needing more soup.

(I don't generally do fake cheese sandwiches.  They just aren't as good.)

Breakfast soup, you say?  Made with broth?  Won't the sodium drive my blood pressure up and send me to an early, very salty grave?  

True.  Most people have to restrict their salt, watch their sodium intake, and be careful of processed food since most of us consume way, way too much sodium.  This can be bad for a lot of reasons.

I seem to be the one person in the universe whose doctor tells me to make sure I add salt to dishes!  Over the last year, I've been experimenting, and indeed, we have confirmed what I have suspected (and what my first tri coach suspected) for a while: my body does not hold on to salt.

I have no idea why.

This could be the most awesome or the worst thing ever.  On one hand, I can eat all your nachos since it won't bother me a whit.

On the other hand, I get such disapproving stares when I go for the salt shaker.

And really, Breakfast Soup?  Is that some weird thing like cereal with toppings and you're just trying to trick us like all the other sites promising creative breakfast and just re-hashing normal breakfast?

No.  Breakfast Soup is not normal breakfast.  I don't like sweet breakfasts.  I have tried oatmeal and Cream of Wheat and grits and polenta and every other mushy cereal out there, and universally, in the morning, they remind me of snot.  At night, I've been known to make a steamed oatmeal topped with fresh fruit.  I make polenta for dinner sometimes.  But in the morning?  Get behind me, Breakfast Satan.

I typically feel a little queasy in the morning.  This can make eating or working out a challenge. Things that work in the morning tend to be eggs and vegan sausage, or an avocado quarter or half topped with salt and seeds, or a PB&J with extra salt sprinkled on it, or Breakfast Soup.  I've found that my easily queasy tummy settles down with a little salt hit.  So Breakfast Soup makes a lot of sense.


Breakfast Soup is super easy.  You can use anything you have in the cabinet that you like.  Do you have chicken noodle or minestrone?  Eat that.  You can use anything you have in the fridge.  Made a nacho soup for dinner last night?  Have some more for breakfast.  Who cares?  (We all eat cold leftover pizza for breakfast.  Why not soup?)

But what about when you have not made soup in a while and there's no soup cans in the cupboard because you just happen to make most of your stuff from scratch?  Well, here's a recipe for a quick and easy soup.

One-one-one soup.  My  mother calls this the One-one-one recipe.  Just remember: One (ish) of everything. 

Time: 10-20 minutes.  Basically, while the coffee is perking and you're yelling at your kids to get their backpacks or asking your spouse to feed that cats that morning.  

You need:
-1 TB of butter (or 1 pat). I use Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks which works great.  Not lactose intolerant and prefer to use real butter?  Go for it.  Not a butter person and want to use coconut oil?  Try at your own risk.  I made this once with olive oil and it was oily.  
-1 TB flour.  Any kind, except I have not tried this with gluten free flours.  I wouldn't use quinoa flour for this, because of the grassy smell.
-1 cup broth.  (I use full sodium broth, because of me, but you might need reduced sodium). 1 cup usually does the trick, although if the veggies are dry or you like a more liquidy soup, you might want a little extra water.
-1 cup veggie.  Any kind of cooked veggie.  If it's not pureed, it should be in big chunks.  Today, let's use tomato.  You can use tomato sauce, crashed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, pureed tomatoes, tomatoes with spices in them, whatever works.  Most other kinds of veggies work great too.  Try this with pumpkin in the fall.  Trust me!
-Bonus veggie.  I often throw in a handle of spinach or kale.

To make: 
-Get your saucepan going over medium high.  
-Melt the butter.
-Throw in the flour, and stir it around until it sops up all the butter.  Keep stirring madly.  The flour should look like a thick slurry, like thick cement.  Keep stirring until it smells a little nutty.  This step usually takes about 2-3 minutes.
-Add the broth, while stirring frantically to prevent clumps.  I usually use a small stream or a heavy drizzle for the water, if that helps you visualize.  Once you have a thin slurry or a thick broth...
-Add the veggies. Give it a few more stirs to incorporate it all.

Now if it's a pureed veggie:
-Stir to incorporate, and bring to a gentle boil.  When it's hot through, it's done.

If it's a chunky veggie: 
-Do you like your veggies chunky?  Then bring to a boil, and when it's hot through, it's done.
-Want a smoother soup?  Grab your hand blender, blend it into a nice smooth soup, bring it to a boil, and when it's hot through, it's done.

Finally, if you like bonus veggies: 
-See that spinach/kale/collard/argula/dandelion greens in your fridge you've been ignoring?  Yeah, it's judging all of us as it slowly dies.  Quick, grab it before it wilts anymore, [rinse it if you need to],  and toss it in the soup.  Stir it around for a few minutes while it wilts and cooks.  When it's hot, it's done.

End story: It's delicious and makes me happy.  Please don't complain if this doesn't fit your morning schedule 'cause of work/kids/school/dog.  I don't have kids, I have a short commute, and we split animal duties in my house.  This works for me, and if you enjoy, great!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

More Speed. Bikeshare! New part time job.

So I am clipping away in the speed training.  After talking to some running friends, I jumped ahead in the program to the point where I felt I was physically.  The first three weeks were SO slow.  So I'm now doing week 4 and even if I don't gain major speed, I feel like I'm regaining form.

I'm thinking that next, I'll be adding weight training to my workouts, like I used to do in Arlington, where I would be out biking or running and would stop into the gym, do a 20 or 30 minute weights and stretch circuit, and finish my workout biking or running or walking home.

While at a work event, there was a silent auction, and I won the Bikeshare package.  Oh, of course, I had to pay for it.  That's the purpose of an auction, right?  But I WON THE AUCTION!  And it was a full package to a year's subscription to Capital Bikeshare.  I've been thinking about trying Bikeshare for a while now, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity.

Besides, the package came with a helmet, socks, a t-shirt, a seat cover, and a really cool bike tote bag that is marketed as a helmet purse. Personally, I don't care who sees my helmet (it seems to almost be a status symbol to tote a helmet around this town!), so I use the bag as a nice smallish work tote.  It holds my lunch and my iPad, and my personal stuff, and it's freaking adorable.  It looks like a little red Cyberman!

Don't you think?  Bag here.  Cyberman here. Mine is a red small bag.  It's the sort of thing that I would not have bought on my own (without a ton of dithering and months of debate) but that I would have wanted badly.  So getting both bag and Bikeshare membership... it was a great deal!

I've already been riding all over the place, trying bikeshare in all sorts of shoes (I rode today in heels, with my afternoon errands in the front basket!).  It's already proved it is worth it.  I have managed to get around some terrible traffic, and avoid a metro fire/shutdown, and it's erased any reservations I had about going to, say, Whole Foods for a speciality ingredient.  It was SO FAR AWAY.  But on a bike, it's about 10 minutes instead of 25.

Finally, one month of ¾ time work was plenty for me, and I swiftly lost my mind with all the spare time.  The first few weeks, I slept a little more and cleaned the apartment and cooked and shopped and then I died of boredom.

What with one thing and another, I decided I either needed a part time job or a volunteering gig to get me out to see PEOPLE.  I went to check out an animal shelter (because puppies, people.  Let's be real) and fell in love with a puppy.  As I was considering whether to adopt her, I wandered into this brand new pet store near my home and next thing I knew, I was applying for a part time job there.  So this week I start at the Wylie Wagg!  I'm really excited, not just because it's a job (and extra money means vacation fund) but because I really like the team and the philosophy.

I start Thursday, and I'm really thrilled to have a totally non-religious form of income for the first time in, oh, forever.

It'll be fun.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Speed Training. Hopefully the last of weird health. New commutes.

I'm typing this in the dark while M gets some sleep.  I'm using an app called Flux to dim the screen and prevent blue light from disrupting my circadian rhythm.  I realized about an hour ago that a certain someone had not sent me something they had promised earlier this month, and it leaves me angry, anxious, and frustrated.  It is actually all going to be OK.  But right now, I'm pretty upset that a simple task didn't get done.

Meanwhile...  In preparation for this half-marathon, I decided I wanted to shoot for a speed goal... 9:15 minute miles or better.  This is about what I can hold on a very good day for a 5K.  So I'd have some serious training to do.

Part of it is that, frankly, I slowed WAY down while struggling with e.Coli.  At my best, before Leadman, I was holding easy low 8 minute miles, with a few 7:40somethings thrown in during a hard effort.  I think I can regain that.

So I've started doing a speed work program.  Bascially, I grabbed the old Couch to 5K app... and quickly realized that weeks 1-3 were boring as hell.  So I skipped to week 4, and eliminated the walking in favor of a jog.  So it's jog and run instead of walk and jog.  We shall see.  Mostly, I need to reestablish both a habit of training and a slow-fast pattern.

I'd been chugging away at one speed for so long that I've forgotten how to do the old speed work.  I miss my "garbage runs", when I used to sprint garbage can to garbage can for intervals, and my old hill workouts, which were "run up the hill until you are about to die and then turn around and jog down until you catch your breath, then run up the hill again".  It was tough, but I had the size 8 butt and quads of steel that proved that I was a pretty damn good middle-of-the-pack-works-more-than-she-works-out-and-is-friends-with-a-chef athlete.

Aspirations, right?

Anyway, weird health.  Ultimately, I wonder if someday I will look back on the whole e.Coli episode and be thankful it happened.  I ended up with a really good doctor who understands my body.  It seems that- even after everything else is back to normal- my thyroid is just barely symptomatic as a misbehaving body part.  While I don't blame my thyroid for all my ills, I won't deny that since adding a tiny dose of medicine to my morning, my anxiety has plummeted, my energy has rebounded, and my joint pain has been melting away.  (Also melting... some poundage.  And occasionally, me.  I'm actually experiencing sweating these days, as if I were a person with a metabolism.)

From what I read, sometimes after a major illness, a person's endocrine system can get messed up and need some support to recover.  Some people need that support for the rest of their lives.  Some people only need that support for a short time.  But I think the e.Coli either accelerated or unveiled a problem that could have lived in the shadows for a long time.  So perhaps I should be grateful that this one big illness might have shown light on a problem that could have very negatively affected me over the course of the next decade of my life.

Finally, new commutes.  I started my new job at a new parish, and it is 2.6 miles away.  So this month has been all about trying the various ways to get to work.  Ideally, it is inexpensive, saves the planet, and preserves my sanity.  (And is fairly reliable... meaning that if I walk out the door at 8:15 on a Monday and get to work by 9, I want that to happen on Tuesday and Wednesday as well!)   Ironically, driving my personal vehicle might be the cheapest solution on the surface.  But it means isolating myself in a tin can and driving through some pretty clogged traffic and dealing with a series of forbidden left turns, which is tremendously frustrating.  And I swear, a lot.  Way more than a priest ought to.  Metro is OK, but not my ideal.  In the last month, I was on an escalator when it broke down in Bethesda.  I found out later that they closed the station due to over crowding after that, so if I had been 10 minutes later, I'd have been toast.  I also was lucky to miss the station fire.  It seems the bus might be the most relaxing route.

Luckily (ha ha) I also won an auction that included an adorable satchel and a year long membership to Capital Bikeshare.  So Bikesharing is now mine.  I'm actually really excited to try that.  There are stations everywhere near me, and near work. I'm thinking I might take the bus to Friendship Heights (past the worst of the Wisconsin traffic), snag a bike there, and ride the remaining mile to the nearest station across the street from my job.  Since trips of 30 minutes and under are free, my only cost will be for the bus.  And thus I get to keep my personal vehicle off the road, get outside and breathe (polluted humid city) fresh air, and get some exercise while commuting.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Half Marathon- Goal Set!

I signed up for the Hartford Half Marathon in October!

You might remember I had a goal of completing a half marathon this year.  Well, here I go.  Goal set.

I know I can do 13.1, as I've already done it in an Ironman.  I want to be able to do the entire half at a strong pace and finish well.  I'm shooting for a 9:15 pace.  Yes, it's "slow" for me, the fastest I've ever held a 10K was an 8:45, so this will be a good goal.

I have a training plan I like, so I will start following that.  And yes, I have already put an app on both my iPad and on my phone that are counting down the days.

My friend K the Powerful Blonde will be pacing me.  She's become quite the badass runner, and is doing the Marine Corp Marathon, and this race falls on a day in her taper when she should be doing a 13 mile run.  Boom.  My goal pace is her take it easy pace- perfect!  My sister is also doing the MCM, so she may run as well.  But her pace is way faster than mine.

For extra bonus points, it's also my cousin's wedding weekend, so we opted to take the train to avoid any holiday nonsense on the roads.  We get that Monday off for Columbus Day (the worst federal holiday due to the guy being honored, but hey, I'll take the day off for what it's worth).  So running that half means I get to eat all the wedding food.  And we're a Portuguese family, so you know there'll be great food.

Now that my health seems to be pretty stable, I'm looking forward to a good year of training... the first consistently good year since the year I did Leadman.  (Which was the year before I got e.Coli and all the stuff hit the fan.)

I am still going to be swimming and biking.  Because I like to, and because they are free since I have all the gear.

I do need to replace my shoes (I'll be sticking with On because I like them), and probably invest in some more socks, and possibly a pair of running shorts or two.  I only have one skort right now, so I really do need some more shorts so I can rotate stuff faster.  


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Massage curing my ailing foot

Last week, after getting a bit of bad news, I decided to run through my anger. I'd been easily running the 5K loop around the block, but I needed to step up my mileage, or, you know, start following a training plan, if I want to nail that half marathon this year.  

Anger running is not necessarily good for one's training. I was so mad and upset that I ran 8.2 miles at an 8:37 pace.  That's pretty slamming.  But I have been paying for it all week with a sore foot.  

I'm also walking to the metro every day, and usually getting way over my Shine points (time to step up the shine points now!) so I have also been putting lots of mileage on my feet, and not always wearing the best walking shoes.  I'm still vain enough to default to cute-ish and "goes with outfit" over "sensible to walk several miles in". 

My left foot started protesting loudly on Monday.  The big toe joint ached, the arch felt crackly, and it just felt sore and puffy and tired.  It is very frustrating when the rest of your body says "Gooooo!!!" 

I finally got a massage (best priest gift ever!).  And the massuse went to work.  First he spent about half an hour on the bag of marbles that was my upper back.  He got his elbows in there and it was actually a little uncomfortable... Until the moment that something popped and it felt like a whole line of firecrackers went off in a row down my back and things unlinked and I swear my sinuses opened up.  

Tension, much? 

Finally, he went to work on the calves and feet.  And as he was working on my left foot, there was a similar crunching sort of pop and that feeling of a warm liquid being poured around inside, which I associate with the release of a muscle knot. My big toe shifted position (hadn't even noticed it was not where it should be!) and the arch stopped aching immediately!  

So somehow... I either dislocated my toe, or I had a huge muscle knot in that foot.  But the massage seems to have fixed it up.  I might be thinking about more regular massages in the course of training...

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Birthday dinner for M

Today is M's birthday, and so I'm cooking up a feast. We've been noticing an Italian market nearby, so I stopped in for some authentic ingredients for a decidedly inauthentic , vegan lasagna. He's done with his vegan challenge, but I don't think any man would complain about lasagna!  Besides, I really wanted to try the Thug Kitchen ricotta filling.  I've been missing lasagna since I had to give up dairy a few years ago.  So it's a double win! 

I went to the gym for Balance Body where the instructor has amazing shoulders, a perky attitude, and the endurance of a hawk.  She just kept going like she would never stop! At the end of class, one lady lay down on her mat! It was a good workout. I Am mad that I left my Shine home, though. All that walking and the gym, and no Shine points for it! 

Things are really settling down here in DC.  I had this awful dream the other night where I dreamed we had moved into a new place... It had linoleum and carpet floors, and was in a basement, and it had 1,300 square feet, which more than we've ever had.  But I kept running from room to room, crying and asking the movers to stop moving our things because I'd changed my mind about moving.  I dream ran back to our current place and was lying on the floor trying to keep the movers from taking the rug, shouting "We can't move! We have wood floors!" when I woke up in a hot sweat. The bedroom was stifling. I stripped off my jammies, changed, and opened all the windows I could before I flopped down on the futon in the breezier room (the main room).  

It's true that our current place is a postage stamp, and the kitchen is weeny, and the water in the shower has a bad habit of sometimes going SCORCHING HOT then FREEZING COLD... But I love this postage stamp!  And the wood floors.  

Well, I better go wash up.  Lasagna assembly begins soon.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Rude Shopkeepers! Nice Drycleaners!

Today's adventure is brought to you courtesy of the fact that M drank all the coffee and I did not buy more coffee at the grocery store because reasons, OK?  (Mostly that I didn't know we were out of coffee because M makes the coffee in the morning, because I'm so not a morning person and I'm kind of dead to the world for the first hour after waking up.) 

I decided, since I needed coffee, that I'd head out to the new Starbucks just down the street.  I'd pick up my dry cleaning on the way.  So out I went, and on the way to the dry cleaners, right next to the fabulous liquor store, there was a sort of tchotke store.  You know them- the sort of place that sells flasks and $500 chess sets and super adorable cutesy baby clothes and that no man is ever allowed to set foot in because everything is so pretty and frilly. 

So I went in.  I'm looking for some new stationery.  I like to have pretty stationery on hand, because I like to send handwritten notes to people from time to time.  My stash is just about out, and it's time to get some new stuff.  I like nice crisp notecards with a detail like an image or an initial on them so I can use them for many purposes.  Once I splurged on this gorgeous set of paper with a single bumblebee embossed on it.  I used it for a year before I ran out and every single time, I loved writing on that paper.  

This frou-frou shop had all sorts of items, and a rather paltry selection of stationery.  Not a deal breaker... I did find a set of color-it-in postcards that I thought some of my friends might enjoy.  

And then I heard it... laughing, chatting.  I look over my shoulder, and all the shop workers are clustered in a small group, talking to each other.  

I continued to browse.  I found a few stationery things scattered throughout the store.

No one came over.  No one came to ask me what I was looking for.  

I kept browsing.  I picked things up.  I put things down. 

NO ONE CAME OVER!! 

Now I have worked retail.  M has worked retail.  One of the big things is to ASK people if you can help them, or what they are looking for, so you can assist them to actually find what they are looking for.  

We used to get Secret-Shopped at the Sears where I worked (I really liked working for Sears, by the way).  And the Secret-Shoppers would inevitable ding us if we didn't come over to talk to the customer.  

So this shop in DC... HORRID customer service!  I was actually pushing the door open on the way out when someone finally called out, "Thank you!"  I looked at the group, and they were already back to talking.  

So they did have some potential stationery options.  But no one talked to me, or showed me if there were other options, and that's the way you lose a customer.  I felt like I was invisible to them.  And I won't be going back there any time soon. 

Now on the other hand, the dry cleaning one door down... they have WON themselves a customer.  They cleaned a quilt for me, for more than $25 cheaper than the same quilt was cleaned in Tysons Corner.  They were affable and immediately greeted me and they said nice things about the quilt.  So I'll be taking a dress to them for alterations.  

All in all, I'm really, REALLY getting to love my neighborhood.  Grocery store.  Drycleaners.  Tailor.  5K loop.

We just did some rearranging in our apartment, which I call the Beautiful Postage Stamp, because it's TEENY.  But it's getting to be so cosy and lovely... I don't want to leave!  I love my view and I love this neighborhood.  Maybe we should just stay and hope that the universe comes to its senses and stop selling the homes around here for $1.4 million...  

Monday, April 6, 2015

Holy Saturday: Lighting the Fires and a Great Moral Victory

My Holy Saturday started out fairly well.  I ran a meeting and then I ran a run.  I'm managing a very, very cool project that I can't QUITE go public with just yet, but I will soon!

For the run, I decided to go through the Rock Creek parkway.  I discovered the parcourse (think parkcour type stuff) and meandered along.  I skipped running through the Zoo (which is the shortest way home) and instead took the longer route that resulted in a few oddball turns, running past a "closed to pedestrians" sign.  Ultimately, I netted 5.7 miles according to my Misfit Shine app.  I don't have an idea of pace, but that's because I don't have a fancy Garmin style watch.

Then I got ready to head out to Holy Cross for Easter Vigil.

I was pretty excited this year.  I was supposed to be long gone, as the Interim, but the stars aligned so I got a bonus Easter.  And that means...

EASTER FIRE!

You might know that last year, the Easter Fire literally fizzled.  I got nervous, tweaked the recipe at the last minute, and put it out in the yard too soon, so when I went to town with my cool Oregon survival tool, the sparks shone out brilliantly in the dying twilight for the merest of moments before fizzing out with a tiny scream of doomed hope.  I had to light it, last year, with... a lighter.

BOOOOO-RING!

This year I was determined to succeed!  And because my survival tool was all packed away, it meant I had to succeed with nothing but a mini camping flint.

Plus it was windy!

This year, I practiced all week.  I fine tuned the recipe.  I did the recipe exactly like I should, and at the last moment, just before lighting, I heroically fought down the urge to add STILL MORE flammables at the last instant... (that was what did me in last year).

Two strikes of the flint, and the fire roared into existence!  There was applause and not a few people said it was the coolest thing they'd seen.

That's one way to drop the mic on your last day at work.


In "funny DC stories"... I had a great moral victory on the way to work.  I had just driven away from home when I remembered that I'd forgotten the parchment paper I'd promised to bring in, so I sped around the block to run and retrieve it.  Just two blocks from my place, traffic came to a standstill.

I KNOW, right?  WORST THING EVER.  It's SATURDAY, people!

As I inched forward, I saw people pulling around this giant SUV parked in the right lane, just sitting here, BLOCKING EVERYTHING.

Me being me, I was mere nanoseconds from leaning on my horn and yelling an encouraging phrase meant to help the offending driver learn to move their vehicle in a more expedient manner, when (thankfully) I noticed it was not one, but several black SUVs.  Black Suburbans, specifically.  Black Suburbans with some very nice young men standing outside in suits.

That's right.  That would be the Secret Service.  Apparently, Michelle Obama likes to get her workout on at a particular studio, and sometimes goes to the gym in my neighborhood.  All the tourists were out to see her come out from her workout, and yes, the Secret Service does rather block traffic in their Suburbans when the Obamas are up here in NW.

SO, at the end of the day, I DID **NOT** HONK AND YELL at the Secret Service.  That probably would have been bad.  I got around them and noodled away to get to back to my apartment, where I ran upstairs at warp speed, grabbed the forgotten parchment paper, and ran outside at even faster warp speed to jump into my car and speed off BEFORE Michelle Obama came out of her workout and shut down Wisconsin again by driving home to her house.

I beat the Motorcade!  And I didn't CUSS at the Motorcade.

I'm freakin' heroic, that's what I am.  Boom.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Good Friday, Good Runs

I started Good Friday with running the 5K loop I discovered (mostly flat and pretty fast) in the opposite direction.  Basically, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Nebraska create an almost perfect loop that goes through some DC-quiet neighborhoods.  (For me, that means not overrun by tourists).  It took me, again, about 28 minutes, meaning that I'm starting my ramp up- even without a race to prep for!- at a faster, stronger pace than the last year.  Thank you, Andrew Giant Muscles, Devin Super Fit, and Michelle Power Strong!  They kick my butt... but clearly, I needed kicking.

I will definitely be continuing to do the strength work at the gym since obviously I need someone else to kick me in the rear to get me to lift harder and stronger.

Today, I started the day with a meeting for the Bike Project for which I'm the Project Manager. Some of you might be following the tragedy where a Suffragan Bishop hit and killed a cyclist.  It's a pretty bad case, all around.  So a lot of cycling Episcopalians, being horrified by so many aspects of the case, want to do SOMETHING positive.  What happened was and will continue to be horrible.  But can we use our energy to create something that can benefit others?  We think so.  We are organizing with a century group to be part of a large ride, and will be focusing on bike safety.  So I had that meeting early on. The Core Team will be a good group.

Then I went for a run.  I've been seeing signs for trails going to the Rock Creek Parkway, and naturally, I thought, "YAY! Trails!"  I had visions of the old Ridgeline trail from Eugene- the one where you basically park your car and suddenly you are running on a different planet.  I always felt so badass and happy running that trail.  It's the trail that converted me from a running-hater to a person who just realized that I'm a trails girl.

Well, the Rock Creek Parkway is no Ridgeline trail.  It's largely paved, and pretty open, and a wee bit crowded, but it's at least a trail.  It's more like the Fern Ridge trail, Oregon readers.  Since I had lots of happy time biking and running Fern Ridge, I will not whine about Rock Creek.  It was pretty good and I'll spend a lot of time there.

Overall, I did about 5.7 miles in about 1:05, counting uphill slogs, waiting for traffic, and standing around looking at my phone at the map, trying to figure out which way to turn.  (Ok, and petting that family's adorable golden retriever.)

I am getting a little desperate for some real dirt trails out here.  Come on, East Coast!  Give a girl some dirt!  If you know of any, please do tell me!

Alternately, if you want to give me a plane ticket for two weeks in Oregon, I'll come out on Monday with all my running stuff and I'll get my fill of Ridgeline, Fern Ridge, up in the mountains, and out to the Shore.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Thursday in Holy Week

Thursday is the first of four days of controlled chaos.

I arrived at work today several hours later than the start of office hours, due to the fact that I will be doing a service at 7:30PM and won't be leaving before about 9ish.

I spent the morning tidying up a few things and puzzling over taxes and then being really, really mad that my tax program hadn't saved my taxes so now I have to do them ALL OVER again.  Grrrrr....  I also spent part of that time estimating my 2015 taxes so I can guesstimate our monthly income after taxes.  Why?  Well, because now I can color-code the home budget.  Duh!  With both of us having normal, stable jobs again, at last, I can finally do things like budget projections so we can achieve our goals!

ANYWAY:

Almost as soon as I arrived at work, I also discovered that I've completely lost my Maundy Thursday sermon and all its notes.  So I have to write this thing from scratch in 4 hours.  NOT exactly my preferred method of writing!

I am also discovering that something about Holy Week makes people SUPER nice to clergy.  I'm wearing my collar today (um, services, hello!), and people are smiling and waving and holding the doors and letting me go before them in lines.  It's weird.  Yes, I checked my fly and made sure my hair was combed.

People, you are creeping me out.  Now go and sin no more.

I better go write that sermon.  Again!

Approaching Normal

Yesterday was April 1st, which is a day when a lot of not-naturally-funny people try and pull elaborate jokes and pranks.  Most of them fall completely flat.  (Yeah, that would be most of all the politicians' attempts at humorous tweets.  Please stop, politicians.  You aren't funny.  Just go to work and get sh*t done, already.)

Outside, away from the Washington Post telling me about various pranks (which was super annoying), it was a lovely day: sunny, cool and warming up with the gentle promise of a spring coming our way.  (Someone told me it was supposed to be in the 30s again later this week.  STOP WITH THE LIES, ALREADY, WEATHER PEOPLE!  FREE THE SPRING!)

I opted to skip the gym in favor of a shake-it-out run.  You know, the sort of thing where you head out just to see how well you are doing after months of being indoors on dreadmills and spin bikes and doing boot camps.  Yes, I missed both Barre and yoga, which I really enjoy, but OUTSIDE!  YAY!

If I head down Wisconsin towards Tenleytown, turn left on Nebraska, and left on Massachusetts, I have an almost perfect 5K loop.  In even better news, it took me about 28 minutes.  My heart rate averaged under 150 BPM until the last leg where there's a gentle incline and it edged up into the low 160s.  This is actually fabulous.  The e.Coli situation totally screwed me up, and flat 5K runs last year were taking me 35 minutes with lots of pain and wacky heart rates.

In other words, this sort of pace is approaching what I was running as I started my Leadman season, which was probably my best season so far.  I think I can do some good builds and see if I can't get those 7:30 miles back.

I was pondering that as I trotted home.  Part of my brain was thinking, "Eh, I do think I can use that route to do some speed work!"  The other part of my brain was realizing how much more normal and how much better I'm feeling, at last.  I had a rough time with that e.Coli and trying to figure out how to feed a lactose intolerant body!  I can't believe it took this long to figure it all out.  I'm a little relieved and a little frustrated, because I wish I had figured it out faster.

Spending all that money working with the Idiot Nutrition Coach last spring didn't help anything.  She may have set me back several months, with the whole stupid no-carb, no-calorie thing.

I'm super grateful to have worked with my Fueled and Focused coach, who may have saved my bacon.  I don't want to think how bad things could have gotten if not for her.

So I am going to be doing some reading on the Exchange Program, which my doctor still recommends.  I think Cristina from F&F really helped me a lot, and now I want to learn more.  I picked up Diet for Dancers (don't read the back cover.  It's horrible.  But inside, it's got tons of great information and FINALLY explains the Exchange program in a way I can understand).

Try not to get fixated on the weight stuff in the book.  I am finding it really helpful to learn about the Exchange program side of things.  It's explaining how to break down foods to get the exchange values, which is something I had not been understanding, as well as how MANY exchanges you should get throughout the day, which is also helpful.  I'll look forward to puzzling this book out over the next few weeks to see if this helps me with achieving balance.

In other news, I'm a little sore from the run, and debating whether I should go for another one this morning before heading off to work.  I'm going in late as I have the first services for Holy Week tonight... and I'm really debating if I should wear myself out a little or take the time to clean the kitchen.  In either case, I know that next week I have tons more time!




Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why REI is Awesome

So today I went to REI to get a flint, so I can make fire on Saturday evening.

While there, a friendly REI employee came up to me and asked if I was finding everything.  I said yes... and asked about the flint I was holding.  He pointed out the lighters and mentioned, correctly, that they are much more effective.  He told me a very, very funny story about tinder and fire building.  Take away lesson: Tinder should be dry.  Flints take practice.

"But", I said, "I really need the flint.  Because I have to start a fire the old-fashioned way on Saturday. It's for Easter Vigil."  I slipped that in there real quick.

It didn't faze the guy.

"Ah.  So what are you using for tinder?" he replies, fingering the packets of tinder and cotton and woodshaving.

Well, actually, I have a secret recipe involving salt and flammable substances... no, that I'm not going to post on the internet.  If you know me, you can email me and I'll send you the Secret Recipe for Easter Fire.  It's AWESOME.

"I've never heard of using salt before..." he says, slowly.

"Well, it burns hot and fast, and it's out in a few minutes.  Just enough so I can light the candles," I say.

"And not so much that you set the church on fire?" he says, without missing a beat.

"Yes!"  say I.  "Burning down the church is a horrible way to start a service!"

"Not to mention that it's against the law," he points out, accurately.  "It's a federal offense to burn down a church.  That would probably put a damper on Easter Sunday.  'Priest arrested for burning down church with Easter fire'.  You know fire trucks, cop cars, so much trouble."  He looks at me, considering his next question.  "You know, [redacted flammable substance] evaporates pretty fast.  How are you going to handle it?"

I explain that, last year, [redacted flammable substance] was actually a problem.

He gets a little gleam in his beady eye.  "I know!" He sprints off to the travel bottle section.  You know, the spot where you find the travel shampoo and stuff.  He picks up a cheap, tiny squirt bottle.
"Just large enough for what you need, to add a little extra to the fire pile.  You can probably, you know, slip this up your sleeve.  AND THEN!  If you strike that flint just right, you can have a flamethrower!  An Easter vigil service flamethrower!  A really tiny one!"

"Yes!" I reply with joy!  "A tiny, Easter vigil flamethrower so I can not set the church on fire but have a really cool fire!"

I did not high-five the dude.  But REI is awesome.  Because their staff don't bat an eye when a priest walks in and explains that she needs to start a fire.  Most people would at least give me the side-eye.  But not these guys.  Hurray for REI!

In other news, now I really, really want to go camping!


Wednesday in Holy Week

Wednesday is when things start to heat up.

It's my niece's birthday, for one thing.  My FIRST niece!  I have two (so far) and this is the first child of my generation in our family.  My brother now has a teenager in his house.  Wha ha ha ha ha ha!  

Today, I have a baptism meeting, a final bible study, and a car to pack.  My sermon is drafted.  All the food we can imagine cooking is cooked.  And we even did the laundry.  

No services for me today, but I have to make sure that EVERYTHING is locked and loaded for the next four days.  That means finalizing two sermons.  I'm a pro.  I can do this!  (Hell, yeah, I took today off the gym to give my feet a rest.)  

M made a yummy noodle soup for dinner.  I picked up a sorbet for dessert, when I dropped off a quilt for cleaning.  That's responsible, right?

I sent M to bed because he was REALLY tired- tired enough that he did not want to fold the laundry at all.  He was started to randomly click through shows and movies on Netflix.  

I had zero inclination to sit on the couch for an hour folding while he aimlessly clicked channels and fought sleep.  So I sent him off to bed and he grumbled and groused, and as of now, he's been sound sleep for nearly 2 ½ hours.  I'm off to join him shortly.  EXCEPT I'M A TOTAL NIGHT OWL AND EVEN PLAYING ALL THE CALM SLOW MUSIC IN THE WORLD CAN'T CALM ME DOWN ENOUGH TO SLEEP!  WHOOO!  PARTY PRIEST!  

Yeah.  It's a good thing I have a fairly flexible schedule, because this night owl thing would BITE if I had an early shift all the time! 

I've always been glad M and I like to go camping.  It was a fun vacation in our early days.  You, too, should go camping with your potential spouse.  When we used to go camping, I would see how he behaved at the end of a long walk day, and I figured out early on what he's like when he gets tired.  Sometimes I don't mind hanging out with a sleepy guy.  

But today, I really needed clothes folded, and I wanted to get it done before all the wrinkles set.  This girl needed her undies and clergy shirts ready for this week!  So I had the living room to myself and watched TV while folding, and then did a few boring financial things.  I paid off one bill and started working on the budget for this coming month.  I bet you can't stand excitement!  

I have more to do.  But I'm in a good place this minute, right now.  


Tuesday in Holy Week

On Monday and Tuesday, Holy Week is a little lighter (at this particular parish).  My work revolves around working on my sermon for Easter and Good Friday, and (this year) cleaning up my office and getting things ready for the new Rector.

But I know it's going to get CRAZY in a few days!

M volunteered to make food and to ensure that I would not starve between now and Easter.  But, given that he's working full time now at his Dream Job in the Archives, some of our make-ahead work is a joint effort.  Especially when I factor in that my schedule really is more flexible.  (Says the girl sitting here, waiting for the muffins to finish, at 9AM, when most of you are probably already at your office.)

He's in charge of everything from here until Sunday, when he will cook the leg of lamb I have christened "Wooly Wally", which is currently residing in our freezer.  It will be an adventure!

Between last night and this morning, we have teamed up to make:

-Broccoli rabe
-rice
-dry fried tofu
-seitan (M says "wheat meat".  I say "SATAN!" in an evil hissing voice)
-hardboiled eggs
-baked sweet potatoes (okay, microwaved sweet potatoes.  Whatever.)
-sun tea.  (Still waiting to see if it gets hot enough on our Eastern window)
-AND cranberry lemony muffins.

We still think we might make banana bread bars from my friend Cristina's Fueled and Focused site.

We also have raw zucchini and the makings of a quick marinara in the cupboards and fridge.  Raw zucchini can be spiralized, giving us lots of yummy noodle like things but without the heaviness of regular spaghetti.  Personally, I like to mix the zucchini noodles with regular noodles if I'm really hungry.  I often add nuts or vegan "neat balls' when I have them for protein, but my personal favorite is just tofu chunks.  I just love tofu!  (Sorry.  I know it's oddball.)

I discovered, recently, something I'd learned long ago but lost my confidence in until I spent the last months of 2014 working with a food coach.  I don't like to eat a lot before a big workout!  Whether it's a bike ride or a dance class, eating less makes me feel faster.  I re-discovered this in a big way by accident when I was running late to Boot Camp with Andrew Giant Muscles, and didn't have time to have my normal snack.  I grabbed a bottle of sports drink (I'll explain sports drink some other time.  I have reasons, OK?), and threw a gel in my pocket in case I got the hungry shakes on the way home.

During the workout, I was conscious of an empty tummy... but I was lifting heavier and running faster than normal.  Huh.  And I didn't get the hungry shakes.  I got home, showered, and made a salad with lots of stuff on top.

I remember, "back in the day, you whippersnappers", how I'd head out on a ride with maybe a Clif bar and a bottle of Gatorade, and two hours (or four) later would roll home.  I'd be hungry, but I was a lot faster than during later years when I was carefully trying to figure out what to eat when and to track every calorie. I usually had some cash or a debit card in the event of FOOD EMERGENCY.

When I started training for tris, I think I needed to experiment with the gels and chews.  My coaches wanted us to eat enough to fuel ourselves, so I'd eat when I was told to eat... even if I wasn't hungry.  (And then working night shifts, I'd be hungry for the wrong things at the wrong time!)  I think it's a good season now to relearn my own sense of hunger and enough.  As my friend likes to say, "Food is fuel!"

Speaking of which, I have a lunch to pack!

And then I have to drive to work so I can go to REI and get some flint to start a fire.  Because Easter Vigil, that's why.  It's the day priests love because we get to START FIRES!



Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday in Holy Week

Last week got hectic.  My friend was here with her baby, and two of us aunties had volunteered to babysit.  None of us are related by blood, so we have made the decision to be a family.  My friend is an only child, so she had to pick and choose Aunties.  I have to say, the Other DC Auntie and I pretty much rock the auntie gig.  The child in question is brilliant and super advanced, and he totally knew he was with amateurs.  So he was very, very well behaved. 

Even during the Megapoop diaper changing episode.  Don't ask me how a teeny baby can produce a mess that size.  Remind me to nominate the inventor of baby wipes for sainthood.  And I don't think a certain lawyer will ever casually suggest that we use her office for baby changing ever again.  

We did Palm Sunday yesterday.  We did the Dent Davidson percussion Passion.  It's amazing.  It's funny- on one hand, the service ends with death and the silence and the only sound is the ringing of the triangle as people depart.  But on the other hand, the readings went so well, I wanted to go high five all the other readers.  

My favorite part yesterday was the moment where Judas tries to give back the silver for betraying Christ.  All of us reading Judas agreed that the guy was unfairly smeared by history.  He was doing his best.  So we got together (secretly!) and we made a plan to get fake silver coins, and at the critical moment, when the Priest casually dismissed us- "What is [your guilt] to us?  That's your affair!", we threw the coins down.  The little, flimsy bag split open and coins rolled everywhere.  The other readers were all shocked.  In two services, the "priest" furtively picked up some of the coins.  In each service, some people were angry or surprised by the anger of Judas.  It was BRILLIANT.  

So now I'm off to Holy Week... and also my final week in this interim, before I start my permanent new gig.  I have an office to pack.  

I am also going to end my Facebook fast, because I think I have achieved the goal.  I have a working plan for Facebook in the future and it involves a lot of simplification.  

Plans for the future?  Well... I'm not yet ready to talk through them, but I have some big ideas for this coming year.  I'm looking forward to my two weeks off between jobs to get some of those plans in motion. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Discovery of Trails!

I've written before about my love of trail running.  I loathe the dreadmill.  I am sort of okay with roads... but I associate them with pounding and tight hamstrings and sunburns.  I run because I must and because it's good for me and because I hope that one day I'll become good at it.  

But trails, I love.  The Ridgeline was my regular route in Eugene.  Sure, there was also some nice trail around Amazon park.  But I loved the Ridgeline.  So I've spent the last year being pretty grumpy that Tysons Corner had just about zero unpaved trail runs.  And don't try to tell me something is trail if it's paved.  That's a manicured park. 

Last Friday, I decided to go for a run.  I had an errand to run in Dupont Circle, which was a short bus ride or a good walk away.  So I tied on my running shoes and ran down instead, doing a pretty strong set of miles to get to the knitting store.  I literally RAN my errand!  (ha ha ha ha!) 

Then I realized that I was about 1.5 miles away from my gym, and that Andrew Giant Muscles was about to begin the Wreck'em Boot Camp Class* in 15 minutes.  I thought if I pushed it, I could just barely make it... so off I went! 

As I started out, I realized that the run TO Dupont was all downhill, and this was going to be all uphill.  So I quickly started bargaining down the class, thinking I'd beg off the sprints or the leg raises in favor of extra stretches and crying.  I defend the crying.  I was sprinting(ish) uphill.  You'd be crying too.  

But then my GPS led me to a deadend... right next to a bunch of ambassadorial residences.  You know, the big huge houses marked with no trespassing signs that you are just certain also have tripwires and secret security and random electric fences around to keep riff raff like me out?  

Luckily, I saw the small sign and a trail-like area that suggested it might be an entrance into a park.  And lo and behold, I found myself dropped into Dumbarton Park.  So I ran through Dumbarton.  I slowed to a walk a lot, so I could check my app and be sure I was still pointed in the right direction or to kick some extra mud out of my shoes.  I don't know how long I was in the park... just that I lost track and I had a blast.  

I got to the gym at 12:12, too late to join the class (so I did stretching, abs, and weights) but I consider it a win over all.  I have finally discovered trails, near my house!  That makes me so happy I could scream.  

And I'll definitely be more cheerful about going running now.  In fact, I pulled my trail runners out of the closet.  




*Not the teacher's real name, nor the real class name.  Just what I call them in my head. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Whoops... 10 day break?

Whoops.  Just realized it had been a 10 day break since my last post. It's not that I haven't thought of possible blog topics.  It's  more that I haven't been near a computer, and haven't had a notebook handy, and was perhaps a little too busy playing games on my phone during the commute to do any scribbling.  Hm.  Simplicity fail, perhaps. 

In the meantime, there's been several positive developments.  I'lll say more over time, but it suffices to say now we are embarking on a period of normalcy in our lives.  That will be so nice, indeed.  It's been a complex journey.  At last, we are able to think about "well, in a year, we should think about buying a house..."  (I have no doubt that we could get approved for a mortgage right now.  But I do want a little more financial security and a small downpayment before that. I don't want to rush something about important as our home!)  

I've stayed off Facebook for Lent, but I have definitely been tempted to go on quite a bit.  I always said that I was on Facebook because it kept me connected, but truthfully, when I reach for it or think of checking it, it's always for a mindless break.  So that has me thinking about why do I really want Facebook in my life.  Do I just want to see people's cute baby pictures?  Or do I want to use it for actual networking?  If it's the latter, then I might have to unfriend family and friends to keep from getting sucked into the reel of goofy articles and baby stories.  If it's the former, then it might be time to unfriend work-only colleagues.  But I think this practice has taught me that having Facebook be both work and fun at once is overwhelming and annoying.  At the end of Lent, I will definitely be doing some major gleaning.   

In the time I've saved from being off Facebook... welll, on one hand, yes, I'm knitting more even though I just frogged a whole project (frogging is when you 'rip it, rip it, rip it' out) because my gauge was a half size off.  But it'll go back together quickly now that I have replace my needle with the right size.  

I've definitely worked out more.  I do the strength classes pretty regularly, and I've started adding in runs.  On one hand, it is beneficial and I love the steam room.  I ma go to the gym sometimes just to earn some steam room time!  On the other hand, I am also thinking about MyFitnessPal.  I'm trying to drop a few pounds by summer, and calorie counting is good and not good.  I find I really miss the WeightWatchers plan where you count points, not calories.  That seemed to help me make right choices more often.  I feel a little frustrated when MFP shows me that I should eat another 1000 calories at 7PM, thanks to the hard workout I just did and the walk there and home.  But  it's just not practical.  So I'm taking a break from tracking while I establish the habit of just working out again.  

And finally, the lactose program seems to be working.  I have had a few times when I tried something that would have been on the very strict no-list... and been OK.  (Most recent success: Cadbury Creme Egg!)  I'm still going to keep my life mostly dairy-free, but I think I can start to relax a little.  I still haven't tried cow dairy, but sheep and goat seem to be OK in small amounts.  However, in the meantime, I've found so many other options... that I don't think I miss dairy the way I did in the beginning.  I don't miss random ice cream any more and I don't sorrow over pizza like I did in the beginning.  It was certainly a very hard change... but I think I've adjusted.  

I'm off to finish some writing for tomorrow... and then I am going to meander off to the store to pick up a few somethings. 


Thursday, March 5, 2015

DC Snow Day

So whaat do you do in 700 square feet on a  snow day?  Both of us are home from work, and for me, it's yet another freaking snow day.  I do like my Metro commute, but Metro often slows or stops in Weather, which means that commuting out to the suburbs can sometimes become impossible due to anything from "cold temperatures" to "cracked rails", even if in the city, the underground part of Metro COULD be running.  

Aiyah.  

So far today, I have made Thug Kitchen biscuts and lentil gravy, Mark Bittman "How to Cook Everything" French Bread dough, and baba ganoush.  I had to roast an extra eggplant (I like my baba ganoush more eggplanty), and the dough takes its time to rise, so it's a good snow day experiment.  M plans to make salsa. I should also put on a pot of rice since I like to have brown rice on hand.  I've gotten totally hooked on the Thug Kitchen brown rice and edamame breakfast bowl. 

On the breakfast front: I've realized that on mornings when I commute on an empty stomach, I get way more motion sick than when I have a little something.  So I've been trying to eat SOMETHING before leaving the house.  It's hard because I just don't feel hungry early in the morning.  We both like the Fueled and Focused energy bars that our friend Cristina has created.  (We crumble them up and pair them with almond milk or sometimes sheep yogurt.)  

There was a car accident on the street below earlier- looked like a Tbone awhere at least the striking car left the scene.  It's the second Tbone I've seen in the last 16 hours on Wisconsin NW.  Seriously, people, rain and snow are slippery and shiny and make it hard to see.  Slow the eff down.  4 Wheel Drive does not mean you can drive like it's a normal day out there.  And, frankly, no matter how careful you are, sometimes bad stuff happens.  (AKA, accident.)  

As for the rest of the day, in between the slow cooking (beans, rice, bread, salsa), I'll do a little work (the last remaining dregs of my to-do list), do some cleaning and tidying, and probably binge watch Outlander.  Which means I'll have a VERY free Friday and Saturday.  I'm  getting a pretty serious case of cabin fever here, and Virginia does not have an easy escape to the wild ocean like Oregon did... Eeeekkk!  

Which means I'm hitting the place where giving up Facebook is a little challenging.  I used it to occupy mindless time, but now, I have to FIND OTHER THINGS TO DO!  It's not go-outside-and-play weather.  My piano is in storage, my viola is at my office, and I only have 200 books and a sweater to knit to keep me busy.  WIthout Facebook, I can't eavesdrop on other lives and see what they are up to or vaguebook and whine about our weather.  I repeat... Eeeeekkkk!!!