Friday, October 31, 2008

I am addicted...

to Trident Sugarless Cinnamon gum!!!



Getting back on track

So, I have turned the page on laziness and sloth.
This morning, I ran 4.05 miles on the treadmill.
I can't wait to set the clocks that this weekend. It means that I will have light for at least another couple of weeks so I can run outside instead of on the treadmill.

One thing I noted is that there is really nothing like the real thing. I guess there is a lesson in that. Running on the treadmill is much harder than running outside. First, it affects speed. I had to run faster on the treadmill than outdoors. 4.05 miles is one of my standard loops and I felt like I was putting in much more effort to do the same distance on the treadmill. And that's even if I am watching a good movie! What is up with that?? At least the movie makes the run go by a bit faster.

So, the past few days I've been eating like a pig. Not really. But it sure feels that way. I have been eating more than I probably should have but it was precipitated by a sense of freedom from having Scary Trainer tell me to add another 200 calories daily. I think when I went down to 1500 calories my brain sort of shut down and my body decided that any amount of cardio was not a good thing. So, now we are back up to 1700. But my body and mind didn't catch up for a few days. So yesterday, I finally broke that cycle and ran 2.5 miles and now, 4.05 miles this morning. The agreement with Scary Trainer is that I will also add another 2 hours to my workout week. I am to go back through the last 5-6 weeks and pick the two best weeks and add 2 hours. So, the best weeks were 5:33 and 5:45 hours, which means I am going to have to up it to around 8 hours. That does not include Scary Trainer, btw.

Tomorrow I have a 15 mile run and Sunday, I had planned on another 5.5 but I'm not sure that I will be able to do it. Our niece is coming for an overnight and after she leaves, we have a brunch and then Chinese class, and then a charity function - all back to back!

But I feel like I am back on track. Holidays are coming and it's good to get some momentum on the right track with the right habits before being tempted by parties and goodies, etc. It's a good thing that I am not a Holiday Freak. One of those people who wait all year for Thanksgiving and Christmas to go bananas with eyes swirling, mouth watering and hanging open, and generally an excuse to go crazy eating, drinking and getting fat. Or those sickeningly sweet people who walk around smelling like pine needles and cinnamon, singing and humming Christmas music! Or are extra nice just because. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT???

In the meantime, I am making my 7th loaf of bread in barely a week!

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bread is out of control

Good grief! The whole bread thing is getting out of control.

I started making bread because I couldn't stand payng $5 a loaf. Then I made pizza bread for Joseph's Dad. And then I felt bad for his *&^%$ vegetarian mother so I made cheese bread.

Then I had a better idea for cheese bread recipe and changed the recipe and made a loaf for my friend Lilly's cute little daughter Emma. And then my friend Debbie needed a loaf. I didn't even now she liked bread!

Now, I have a waiting list! GAH!

I have Scary Trainer, Joseph says he needs some cheese bread, and then there is my admin Paulette, and then our friend Amanda, and then there is Nicole who got wind that I am making bread and has NAGGED herself onto the waiting list. And that is just for the cheese bread.

This weekend, Abby wants cinnamon bread. So I am going to make pecan cinnamon rolls instead and maybe an apple strudel coffee bread. And of course, Lilly brings me all the apples so I will need to make her some. And then Nicole gets wind of that and decide SHE needs apple strudel coffee roll.


I blame all of this on Lilly's cute little daughter Emma.
It's all her fault.


Candidates and Reproductive Freedom

So, I am subscribed to the New England Journal of Medicine. Don't ask me why. It's a long story. But I find it interesting reading.

The latest version had articles pertaining to the election, the candidates, and possible impact in Health Care, Hospitals, and reproductive freedom. They covered everything and distilled it into what we can understand without all the legal jargon and political speak.

The following is about reproductive freedom which is not just a woman's right choose but also a decision to conceive or not to conceive.
"Senator Obama supports a woman's right to choose to terminate her pregnancy, favors unfettered access to family-planning services and comprehensive sex education at home and abroad, and endorses federal funding for the use of human embryos for stem-cell research. Obama opposes requiring parental notification or consent for minors to obtain abortions, the extension of SCHIP eligibility to include "the period from conception to birth,"; and the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

Senator McCain opposes a woman's right to choose and objects to unfettered access to family-planning services and comprehensive sex education. McCain supports the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, favors the extension of SCHIP eligibility to include "the period from conception to birth,"; endorses requirements for parental notification or consent for minors to obtain abortions, and espouses the barring of organizations that perform abortions from receiving grants from the Department of Health and Human Services. He does, however, back federal funding for human embryonic stem-cell research that uses only frozen embryos destined for destruction."
Ok. The article goes on to make a lot of other points which I thought were quite good. But the think that strikes me is that last sentence on McCain:
"He does, however, back federal funding for human embryonic stem-cell research that uses only frozen embryos destined for destruction."
Where does McCain think these embryo's are going to come from? Cloning??? Talk about a whole other set of moral and ethical issues! Just asking the question because it seems a bit contradictory to me.

I have never been a single-issue voter. There are many other things that I consider more, or equally important, to supporting a woman's right to choose. I will say that I could never personally choose abortion but no one made me God. I will not and I cannot tell another how to live their lives. I will never be walking a mile in their shoes. And if I do, I certainly do not want someone else, especially a MAN or a GOVERNMENT telling me what I can and cannot do with my own life, my future, my body, my fetus that is attached to my body and cannot live outside it on it's own.

If I were a single issue voter, the information above is why I would vote for Obama.

Just sayin...


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Living Life Until the End

This is a story about J and V. Two friends I met about 12 years ago from work. They had moved from Canada. He worked with me and his wife was an artist.

They really had no one. They were a bit estranged from their own families and all they had were each other. They were almost unnaturally inseparable. The kind of inseparable where you knew they were soul mates, forever bound from the past and into the future. They lived for each other, sustained one another. Theirs was a devotion and love that I had read about but only witnessed for the first time.

I haven't seen them in years. When J and I worked side by side, we would socialize. Lunches, dinners, and sometimes we and our spouses would go to each others' homes for dinners or parties.

Then work separated us. And like all people, we just got busy. Too busy. We didn't even know that work had separated us, that life moved forward at its own pace, waiting for no one and then we were miles apart. A few years ago, J got relocated about 1600 miles away for the same company. And now... he is still there.

Last Monday, J went home after work. And he found V. In bed. No reaction, no breath nor pulse. No life. He called the paramedics and transported her to the hospital. The initial reaction was that it was coronary related. Then the verdict came back a few days later.

Breast Cancer.

Evidently, she had had it for some time. Being an artist, she tended to treat herself. And in the last month she had taken to her bed with a cough and some pains, hoping to fight whatever was behind the chest congestion.

What goes through your mind when you hear this? What goes through your heart? Rage? Sorrow? Disbelief? An absolute outcry of "NO..."

So it may have been preventable. Many of us get checkups every year to "catch it early" if we can. We all know that it's a crap shoot, this thing call longevity, and we grasp for every moment this life has to offer.

But then there is a small percentage of incurable cancer. The insidious kind with long claws that dig into soft tissue and hang onto its host for dear life. People go through years of chemo and radiation, medication and pain, only to have life for the duration of treatment.

At first we are shocked. And we are terrified. We see ourselves in V. But if you step back and take a deep breath you can see so much more. I was talking to yet another J, who also worked with us way back when, and he said it best.

"She was so sick and she thought she had a damn cold. She didn't know. She went to bed expecting to wake up and shake this thing. She lived. And then she just... died."

And that is what she did. She lived until the very end. Until the moment she died. This is something to celebrate. It is how people used to die in the old days. In the days of our grandparents, and even some of our parents. They died at home, in their beds, surrounded by the people who love them, making peace with whatever God or being protected them, and making peace with death.

And today, when so many of us have railed against death, hanging onto every shred of hope, driven to feel an entitlement to life because of all the news we hear about scientific advances and the old people in Japan who live beyond the age of 110, and the sporadic reports of the exceptionally old here in the United States. We all seem to want that. And so we gasp for air, clinging to hope, waiting for miracles... and in some cases... in many cases... we die anyway... in pain, tethered to machines, invaded by tubes, punctured by needles, and our senses dulled by medication.

So many of us should be lucky enough to have what V had. A wonderful husband, a soul mate, optimism in her outlook, life through all her senses, and kindness in her heart. She flew in her imagination, free and unencumbered. And then... she lived until the last second, to the last breath, her way... until the very very end.

There is a lesson in this for all of us.
What is the cost of hanging on?
And what the benefit of just living?

To you, V.
May you rest in peace.
I will forever remember your smile and when I drink from the butterfly mug, I will smile in memory of you...until I breathe my last breath, living until the very end.

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Ya gotta love Polar

So, I am sitting here at work procrastinating and I get a phone call on my Blackberry. It's Polar calling about my watch that I sent back because the watch fell apart.

I sent it to Polar in Ann Arbor last Tuesday via priority mail, I think.
They received it, took it apart, looked at it and called me to give me an update.
That took about 3 days give or take a few hours and assuming that they don't work over the weekend and assuming they received it on Thursday - after all, Priority Mail works pretty well. Anyway, how is that service?

So, it turns out the:
  1. The wrong brand of battery was put in when I replaced it - it needs to be a Sony or a Panasonic and it wasn't. If it isn't one of these two brands, the watch has some issues. Ok.
  2. Since I didn't send it into the factory to have the batter replaced, the water seal was broken. And Yes, I did swim with it on afterwards. She said she knew it was a pain but I really should send it it. Takes a week but then it's covered under warranty.
  3. And the housing is all broken apart and the water got in and killed the mother board.

But the foot pod is still good so I am trading it in for a new Polar 200 with a new chest strap and watch and they will synchronize the footpod to it. It's a 30% discount so might as well. And I don't need anything fancier, I liked this model just fine.

I also thought about getting a red one but I wear the watch everywhere - to work, to functions, and red might be a little too obvious.
She also said that I need to make sure I wash the strap and the electrodes after every single run and dry it thoroughly or the nodes will get corroded by the sweat, which was already well on its way to happening. She said she walks right into the shower with hers. Hmmm... I might have to try that.

Anyway, she says they will send it out via Priority Mail this afternoon and hopes that I get it by Friday or Saturday. I hope so too because I have a 15 mile run coming up.

The bad news is that I have to go to the track and recalibrate the whole thing again! ARG!!!


Joseph helped me with it last time.
I hope he will help me with the calibration again.
Because I couldn't figure out for the life of me the last time.
This time will be no different.
I am already getting hives from thinking about it.


Marathon ideas

So, I sent out the call for help to my wonderful group of running friends and so I now have the following list of possibilities. I know that most people think I am nuts. If I am, then so be it. I told Scary Trainer last night that I don't worry about much since my goal is to just finish. As for being injured, I know when to pull back and when to stop. I don't have such an ego that I have to finish or die trying. I have no qualms in just quitting if I am on the verge of getting injured.

So the dates in italics are 2008 - 2009 dates have not been published for some of these. But this is a good starting list of likely candidates. If you can think of any more, I welcome your input!

17th - Leading Ladies (SD)
24th - Marathon de Deux Rives (Canada - another country! And I haven't even finished my own yet!!)

5th - Medoc Marathon (France - yet another country heard from! WAH!!! And it's the 25th anniversary!! Double WAH!)
12th - Salmon Marathon (ID)
18th - Maui Marathon (HA)
21sh - Fox Cities (WI)
28th - Clarence DeMar (NH)

11th - Steamtown (PA)
11th - Hartford (CT)
18th - Columbus (OH - and I get to sleep in my own bed in Dublin!!)
18th - Breakers Marathon (RI)
19th - Indianapolis (in)
25th - Ridge to Bridge (NC)
25th - Spinx Run Fest (NC)

15th - Richmond (VA)
15th - Philadephia (PA)
29th - North Central Trail Marathon (MD)

7th - California International Marathon (CA - but I already have a CA marathon!)
14th - Dallas White Rock (TX!)


Monday, October 27, 2008

Detoxifying, destressing, and a new strategy

There is nothing like a good weight workout to detoxify your system and your mind. Especially after the Commute from Hell and a stress filled day at work culminating with a no show staff member from my group.

Although, he did come by to apologize, by the way, which only made it slightly better but it was already done so what can you do. This was the first time I've ever been mad at this person and we've known each other for about 12 years, give or take.

Anyway, so given that I'm having a hard time managing my hunger enough to eat under 1500 calories, and given that my cardio has dropped as a result - in part due to the hunger and in part due to my over-analyzing and some irrational fear of running out of energy on a run(never mind that I have enough body fat last me months in the desert so we won't go there), Scary trainer has decided that I should allow myself to eat 1700 to 1800 calories as long as I add 2 hours of hard cardio effort to the week. So he wants me to go back over my workout log and find two good weeks that I worked out. Figure out how much time I spent working out and add 2 hours to it. But they can't be 30 minute easy recovery run. He wants me to put in a good effort. We're trying to change things up because it seems that the current method isn't working. Sigh...

So, I guess I'll take a look around my workout log, root around, crunch the numbers... all of my favorite things to do! So, we'll see what I can come up with! Yahoo!!!


Unacceptable and Unprofessional

Ok. If you are supposed to show up at a meeting, then you better show up. If you do not intend to show up, you need to tell the organizer. Especially if the meeting is one that has your boss's boss (namely, me) in it. And we spend the first 5 or 10 minutes of the meeting waiting for your sorry ass to dial in!

And do not come by my office 30 minutes into the meeting and expect me to have you come in. Not happening!

Highly unprofessional and unacceptable behaviour.
This is something I cannot tolerate.
It is not only rude but it sends the message that you have total disregard for other peoples' issues and time.

You better have a damn good reason why you blew off the meeting.


Commute from HELL!!!

It took more than a hour to get to work this morning on the Green Line. AN HOUR PLUS!!!!!!!

The propsect of a train commute makes me so frantic in the mornings to try and get a ride with Joseph in the morning. So much so that I will gobble down breakfast practically choking, trip over the stupid dog and then yell at her to get out of the damn kitchen (not to mention her begging makes me want to make dog soup out of her), drop and break glasses and bottles and plates in my frantic pace to get everything done in the morning, even not workout or cut it drastically short, ending up in a daily bad mood - especially bad considering I am not a morning person and I hate FREEKIN MORNINGS to begin with! All just to get a ride into work.

But this morning, Joseph was leaving at 7 and I knew the race was already lost. So I steeled myself and deliberately got into a calmer state of mind, knowing the dreaded train ride was standing between me and work. I guess I could have driven but then I pay $11 to park. Anyway...

It started with a very slow train ride from Coolidge Corner to Kenmore, with extended stopping time at each station. And in the process the train got more and more crowded. Then the train decided to break down at Kenmore. We all got off the train just when another train was coming through, so I managed to squeeze myself in. Then another slower than snails commute to Park Street where I changed to the Red Line. The platform was packed! Then another slow commute to South Station. Thank goodness I only had to go two stops!

So I stayed calm by telling myself that stressing out was not going to make it better. And I knew I didn't have anything to get into work for. My first meeting isn't until 1.

But instead of stressing, I just got pissed! All the wasted minutes of non-productivity. People can barely relate to the fact that I am so busy I can barely return emails or phone calls unless you're on my regular work stream and are on the critical path to my getting something out the door. Or unless you're a close friend who gets it and who I know doesn't want or need anything from me other than a bit of stress relieving banter.

Mondays are always bad. But an hour plus commute? That takes Monday Morning suckage to an entirely new level. And all I can think about were the old days when my commute was an easy 20 minute walk. Alone. WITHOUT PEOPLE!

Sigh... I am going to have to rethink my commute and maybe work from home in the mornings and commute mid-day so it's less crowded. Or work from home more. I don't know what the answer is but iI have to come up with something. As it is, it's going to take a whole day of concerted effort to get pyche back into balance again. And if I can't, then the whole damn week will be off kilter. And if you can't understand that, don't ask because I am not going to explain it. And don't judge unless you walk a mile in my shoes when the whole week from Monday through Friday is nothing but work from the time I get up to the time I get to bed.

No wonder the rat race kills people. It's not work. It's the damn commute!!!

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

The votes are in!

So, I have heard from the masses about my 5 in 5 in 5.

The people who are against include:
  1. Scary Trainer who hates cardio of all kinds but thinks that weight lifting ultras of 5 days a week sounds good.
  2. Chris the Massage Therapist, who's knees hurt for a week if he runs 8 miles in any given time.
  3. And a few other people with knee issues who either can't run marathons anymore or are more well-rounded with biking and swimming
And the people who think this is not a bad idea:
  1. My Hunny Bunny who is reserving judgment (wisely - the man learns, what can I say?)
  2. Crazy Don, aka Marathon Don, aka Grand Rapids Marathon Race Director who has run 170+ marathons, run the continents at least 4 times, and who continues on a rapid pace after recovering from knee surgery.
  3. The lovely Francine, who is the Significantly Attached to Crazy aka Marathon Don
For everyone else, the jury is out, I guess. I haven't heard much else. Given that, I will chug along with this goal in mind.

Now I am collecting races to run.
Anyone have any suggestions?
The criteria are:
  1. Starting in August 2009
  2. Must be a flat or fast or decline course
  3. Must be small. No huge crowds that suck the energy out of your soul. Preferably under 5000 entrants.
  4. But can be a mix of half and full marathoners. Does not have to be big city or "popular".
  5. Must be in a state that I haven't run yet, which would exclude:
    a) Massachuesetts
    b) Virginia
    c) Arizona
    d) California
    e) Michigan
    f) New York
    g) Florida
Every other state is game.
So if you have suggestions, please leave a comment.
I would like the name of the race and the state. If you have a URL, that would be nice but I can google it myself.

So far this week, running has been nothing to crow about.
But then again, this was scheduled to be non-crowing week.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

5 in 5 in 5...


I have this idea for a goal.
5 marathons in 5 months in my 5 decades of life.
What do you think?
I think it sounds good.

I got this idea this past weekend when we were out in Michigan to run the Grand Rapids Marathon (and Half Marathon), and we were hanging out with Crazy Don. The Lovely Francine did a 50 miler to celebrate her 50th birthday. So, no, it's not Don's fault. It's the lovely, quiet, sweet and kind Francine's fault. Who would have thunk it??

Next year I turn 50.
That is 5 decades.
Half a century.
In a different world, that would be considered one foot in the grave.
Not so today.

So, to celebrate the dawning of the next half century of my life, I figured I could do something spectacular.
I think 5 marathons in 5 months is good.
Topping it with a 50 miler at Across the Years would be better.
And maybe I will run the Boston Marathon from Hell would be the icing on the cake. But I am going to have to think LONG AND HARD about this last one.

I told Scary Trainer on Tuesday night.
He didn't think it was such a good idea.
He thinks that runners and cyclists are all crazy to begin with.
But then, he is a weight lifter so he could not possibly relate.
But I did extract out a commitment from him that even though he might not agree with me, he will definitely help me train appropriately to support my running, with my nutrition, etc. And he did admit that I am a rare client. Most of his clients - he can't even pry them off the couch inbetween training sessions.

So, 5 in 5 has a really good ring to it. Kind of flows off my tongue.
I could start in my birthday month (August) or take the whole of 2009 starting from the beginning. But I am leaning toward starting in August.

Now I have to go figure out what the races will be and when I will start.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

2008 Goals - YTD Review

Since it's nearing the end of the year, I decided to take a look at all of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year. And now that I am reviewing them, I kinda think that maybe I should have glanced at them throughout the year because some of these seem like news to me. So here is where I am so far.
  1. Be consistent. Aim for 8 to 10 workouts a week -

    Ok. This definitely did not work. I was lucky to get in 7. We will need to amend this going forward.
  2. Ride 2000 miles -

    HAHAHAHAHA. Yah. Only JUST over half way there. Next...
  3. Run 1000 miles -

    LOLOLOLOLOL!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAH! Not even close! A tad more than 350 miles. But I blame it on my weight lifting. Ahem.
  4. Swim 3500 laps or 175,000 yards -

    ok. This is getting sad. ONly 298 laps. And this is AFTER I bought the wetsuit - of course I did not swim after that. OF COURSE NOT!!
  5. Sign up for and complete a century -

    I signed up for one. I did not do it. Something came up.
  6. Sign up for and complete a duathlon -

    Whoa! I did this one. And I got third in age group. At least it's something.
  7. Read 6 books - think I did that. I am not sure. I remember reading, I just can't remember the names. I'll get back to this one.
  8. Learn 50 chinese phrases and their opposites -

    This was a resounding success. I know more than 50 phrases. I know a lot of words that I can now put together into strings of words that more or less have some sort of intelligible meaning. And I also know how to WRITE! This was a good goal.
  9. Lose 5 pounds and keep it off by working out and journaling what I eat -

    Another resounding success! I got a trainer, can deadlist more than 160 pounds and have lost about 12 poundns - although it does go up and down by a pound or two...
  10. Run a marathon in a new state -

    Not yet. Dang. But I did run another half in Michigan this past weekend.
  11. Go to 12 new restaurants:

    1. Rani Bistro, Hyderibadi (Indian)
    2. Blue Ocean (Korean)
    3. The Bob (American Grill)
    4. Smith &W Wollenski's (Steak)
    5. McSeagulls
    6. The Lobster Dock
    7. The Lobster Shack (in Maine)
    8. Genji Ya, (Japanese)
    9. BT Southern BBQ (ok. I didn't GO there, but they came to me and I am counting it)
    10. Little Anthony's Seafood Emporium (Seafood, in Winchendon)
    11. Pedrin's Dairy Bar (fast food in Adams)
    12. Kaler's Crab and Lobster House

    Okay. There were other but these are the ones off the top of my head. Glad to see that goals centered around eating are getting high marks.
  12. Take no more than 24 rest days except for injury and sickness. This includes traveling for work or pleasure. (This goal can be replaced.) -

    I should have replaced it. Between being sick, worked, tired and injured, I now have a total of 63 days where I did nothing. At least I have one goal that I can improve upon next year.
Okay. So not a lot of the year left but I will keep plugging away and see what I can do...

In the meantime, I need to go back and re-read this.
I can use a good laugh today...

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Week 42 Training Recap

I really hate posting these every week. Such a pain. Such a damn commitment. And we all know that I am a pretty big commitment phobe. It's one thing to be committed. It's entirely different to SAY that I am. IT means I have it hanging over my head and it becomes a chore. And when things becomea chore, I start hating it.

So there you go.
No more training recaps.
At least not in the way I used to do it.
I will give the rigid reporting method a rest and do it some other way.

Last week, was a tough week because of work.
Thank goodness for the half marathon - otherwise, I wouldn't have gotten my miles in.

And for next week, I hope to be able to maintain or do a little more.

That's it for the training report.


Wow. That felt good.


Monday, October 20, 2008

What about the watch?

Ok. A few people pinged me about the watch.

Well. It broke. It was dead. It was no more than an ugly useless bracelet. So I did consider carrying my Blackberry. That Saturday night I mentioned to the Lovely Francine (Marathon Don's Lovely Signifant Other), that my watch was broken. She had an extra watch lying around so I got to use that.

It was a Nike and kinda funny looking but it had numbers and told time. The problem was that I couldn't figure out how to work it. I pushed all the buttons and still couldn't get it to do ANYTHING! So I decided to use it as a time thing.

So for the first time in a very long time I ran with a watch that did nothing more than just tell me what time it was. Any split timing, etc., to be done, I had to do mentally. And we know about mental gymnastics that takes place as we get longer into a run. Right? Yah. So I threw that thought right out the window. And I went with Generally's.

What's a Generally? It's "well, think that was about 6 minutes. So I can take a drink break generally every six minutes. Or so." Or... "I'll walk for a bit when I generally feel like I should." That is a Generally.

So, I did just that. I generally took a walk break every 6 or 10 or 15 minutes. And I generally drank about every 6-8 minutes. I generally took a GU about every 45 minutes. And I generally took salt about every 55 minutes.

It was pretty easy. And I also didn't have my foot pod to tell me that was at mile 7.63 (or whatever) as I passed the 7 mile marker.

And it was amazing. I finished feeling pretty good and the time on the clock was a big surprise. I had hoped to finish in around 2:30 - which would mean a 6-7 minute improvement over Applefest two weeks earlier. Instead, I finished in 2:23 - around 14minutes better.

I might have to try leaving the watch alone in future races.

Now that I am home, I have sent the watch, the footpod and the heart rate monitor to Polar. It looks like the rubber around the watch face came apart allowing moisture into the watch. I am not sure that a watch is supposed to come apart with daily wear like that. At the very least, they should replace the watch for a nominal fee. Of course that means, I will probably have to go to the track to recalibrate the whole thing. Ugh. And I hate going to the track.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tales from Grand Rapids

So I ran the half today.
After pigging out yesterday, I need to run at least that! Then on the run, I remembered that yesterday was my cheat day. But I bet I ate enough for two cheat days. Whatever.

So, here are some things I noticed today white running the Grand Rapids Marathon:
  1. Running with the 4:44 pace group was ok until one of the pacing leader people started loudly telling stories about various bowel movement episodes during various races he has run. He finally shut up at mile 7 when the marathoners veered off. He also loudly talked about how he is doing the half on a 6-mile long run. Uh... not a good role model, are you??
  2. Gummy bears on the road make for an interesting obstacle course. I didn't want sticky gummies on the bottom of my shoes.
  3. A race that finally gets it. It gets that you need to take a gu or powergel BEFORE mile 18! In fact, they had one early on in the course and I knew that had at least one more later.
  4. I'm glad that I run on concrete and asphalt at home because this course is run on concrete and asphalt. My feet didn't hurt as much as two weeks ago at Applefest. So I should be good to go for Philly in about a month.
  5. I can actually speed up in the last 3 miles and I won't die. Although I did entertain the notion of slowing down and just walking it in. I'm glad I didn't because I shaved 14 minutes off of my Applefest time. 2:23 ain't shabby for my second longest run in a year.
  6. The view of a swirl of falling leaves against the backdrop of the woods on a bike trail was beautiful.
  7. There is nothing like finding a $20 bill on the course and having everyone around you cheer. And using the opportunity to let them know you should give away found money to turn someone's misfortune into into another person's fortune. And then having that chance at the finish to donate to Operation Pillow Lift for our troops.
  8. And then there's Neil Sauter, the stilt guy who runs on stilts to raise money for cerebral palsy of Michigan. I can't imagine the awkward gate and the ensuing aches and pains from it, not to mention the weight of the stilts and the balance you need to for 26.2 miles.
  9. I love a race that has beer, chili, hotdogs and chips, all free, at the finish line.
  10. And there is nothing like a Race Director who stands at the finish line shaking hands with every finisher and hugging almost every female runner. :o)
  11. And the medals were heavy, substantial, quality.
  12. And finally... There is nothing like being hugged at the finish by the Race Director, a big bear hug. And having him put the medal around your neck!

The day was perfect.
The course was perfect - it was quiet with some spectators here and there since it was mostly on quiet side streets and a bike path through the woods. The solitude was contemplative and I felt like I was going for a meditation run, only a little faster than usual.
Size of the field was perfect - around 2500 people, no huge crowds to suck the energy out of your soul.
The city was friendly and the event staff was terrific! Of course, being friends with the race director, I got to see them up close and personal. It kinda made me wish I could be a part of the group.
The weather was perfect even though there was a light breeze that picked up every other mile. Of course, we won't mention the headwind the last 3 miles. Ahem.

And the Y that was race central was awesome and the showers were incredible! There were family showers where you had a whole shower, toilet, sink, mirror, chair, to yourself. And they supplied towels! Just like being home and having your own bathroom.

And there was even a decent expo!

This race got it right. Everything from packet pickup to the pasta dinner to the race and then post race food and activities was darn near perfect. They had thought everything out! And this is what happens when the Race Director runs marathons all over the world and had a chance to see all the successes and messes.

I know I'll be back to do the full marathon one day.

Next year sounds good.


Dead dead dead

It's race day.
And my watch is dead.
That means no mileage.
No heart rate.
No time.
No knowing when to drink or take walk breaks.

I might have to carry my Blackberry.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

What a week!

All I have to say is PFFFFFFT!

No time to do anything!! Early morning meetings. Who has a meeting at 8 am?? Uh. The Boss's Boss. And how about getting grilled that early in the morning on the budget for 2009? And I am not a morning person. And I can't stand financials and accounting stuff even on a good day. Of course, it went relatively well considering the current climate. But I still have some work to do coming out of that meeting. ARG!!!!! How many times can you present the same damn thing??? Apparently not enough. And that was one 10 hour day out of the week.

Then another day to the NH office delivering some pretty bad news to a couple of people. They had been warned of the bad news but it's still never easy. They ended up consoling me! And I still have one more person to talk to and he's in Texas. I'm trying to figure out how to be in two locations on the same day.

I am so stressed out that my entire central nervous system is shot. Thursday night was the last high volume day of lifting for this four week cycle. And I could do the 40-lb dumbbells like the week before. Amazing what stress does to you without you realizing it. Insidious.

Now we're off to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to run the marathon and half marathon there. I hate cutting it this close - the race is tomorrow. But work is life right now. I am worried about the connection in Atlanta. So I am carrying everything on. I haven't done that in years and I've forgotten how easy it is. But of course, I had to cram all my toiletries into a quart size plastic bag! I had to change the interlock for a zip top bag so I could squeeze in the very last cubic centimeter. And of course I had to leave my hair mousse at home. I'll have to suffer through flathead all weekend. ARG!!

On the workout and eating front, bad and worse. I didn't run yesterday or today. and my eating is shot. Knowing that you are self-sabotaging is the first step. The next step is to stop and I can't seem to take that next step. So when I get back, I'll be upending my diet and eat the same thing for as long as it takes to break the cycle.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Santarpio's Pizza

This one deserves it's own entry.

Let me get set things straight. I love Pizza. I have always loved pizza since I was about 13 years old. That was the year I was invited to a birthday party at a local pizza place where we had all the pizza we could eat, courtesy of Parents With Money.

I had no idea what it was, this thing called Pizza. Yes. I was 13. No. I had never had it. Which word was unclear?? Good. I didn't have it because I was Korean raised by Korean parents and we did not eat pizza. Period.

So, anyway, I will never forget it. It was clear as day. We sat at long wooden benches - sort of like picnic tables. And it was indoors. And the smell. OMG! The heavenly smell of I don't know what. And then along came the pizzas. All large. One after another framed by the silver rims of the pizza pans. Meat and cheese, and oh! the SAUCE! Tangy and succulent. Thin crispy crust. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. I can still smell it. Even today. I think I had gone to heaven that night. And I must have had the equivalent of 2 large pizzas, all by myself.

And to this day I have had a love affair with pizza. I even started to make my own pizza. But most of all, I like to seek out new places, now styles but I always come back to the thin crust with the succulent sauce and layers of cheese. The other toppings are nice to have but the basic requirement remains the same.

And so... fast forward many years until a couple of years ago when I was having a discussion about Pizza with my friend Tim. Tim is a big burly guys, sort of like Jeramiah Johnson. He is quiet and gentle and works with some environment thing. He is amazing. He can speak eloquently about any topic - from fishing to the local ecology of grasses, the ecosystem of Thompson Island, and maple syrup harvesting and making. He is also a fellow foodie and fell in love with my stove. This big giant of a man covets the simmer feature of my dual heat Wolfe gas stove top with it's electric conventional/convection oven.

And so, we were talking about pizza. And he mentioned that one of his favorite places was Santarpio's.

ME: Huh? I've never heard of it.
TIM: It's in East Boston.
ME: Where?
TIM: In East Boston. A dive of a place. Off the ramp before you get to the airport.
ME: Really. Why don't I know about it?
TIM: If you love pizza, you have to go.

So, after two years of obsessing, and whining every time I remembered it, after my long run this past Saturday, I came home to find Elizabeth the Niece and my Hunny Bunny nowhere to be found in the house. There was a half empty bowl of chili on the counter. Doors were left open, things we left in an undone state... sort of like they had left in a rush... Hmmm... it was a bit eerie. I felt like I had been Left Behind...

I went upstairs and changed. I came down to the kitchen and as I was foraging around, in walk Elizabeth the Niece and my Hunny Bunny. Elizabeth had a flat package in her hand that was covered in a brown paper bag.

Wah-lah... pizza from Santarpio's!
Lots of chatting and explanations, all of which was over my head. All I could fixate on was the pizza. One circle of perfection. I could tell it was different right away. The crust was thin and so perfect, and it looked thicker than it was. And there was cheese on top. And I couldn't tell what was underneath.

We sat down and I bit into a slice.
It was indeed perfect.
It was so... different... from the other pizzas I've had.
It was so different from The Upper Crust - my local favorite.
There was just something about it.
They layered the meat, the veggies, on the bottom, then topped it with sauce and then the cheese.
The crust was not burnt, it was flaky and crispy.
You could taste the sauce and the hot peppers, each on its own, and together as a combination.
The sauce was succulent.
The cheese was just enough.

One more question for perfection was done.
Pizza perfection could be crossed off my list.

And now, we will have to go there for a meal. A real sit down at Santarpio's to take in the ambience and get a flavor of the local scene. That would perfect the Perfect Pizza experience even more.

And I have to say that I have the best Hunny Bunny in the entire world... The Best.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Nothing like hot bread

Ok. I couldn't wait. Joseph and I tackled the loaf and I sliced into the loaf.

First, there was no hole in the middle! The rising time was perfect. Now I have to remember how long I had it rise! Dang.
Second, the consistency was soft and pillowy. And so WHITE. Definitely WHITE BREAD. Hmmm...
Third, it was so light and fluffy but it was not without mass. No. Instead, it had a certain paradoxical firmness to offset the fluffyness.
The bottom crust was perfect. The top crust was a little thicker than I liked. But since I don't eat crust, not even on a good day, any kind of crust thicker than paper thin would be too thick for me. Joseph didn't seem to mind it though.

We ate it fresh, still warm, with a little Brummel & Brown over it. Okay. I had a LOT of Brummel & Brown over mind. Ahem.

And as I put it into the plastic bag, it looked a bit forlorn, with one if it's ends cut off, showing all that white. And all I could think out loud was, "OMG! It's half gone already! ACK!" To which Joseph laughed and said we only had two slices out of it.


Now I must find a way to turn all that WHITE into something more Multi-grainish in color.


The staff of life...

Bread. There is nothing that resonates Home and Hearth like homemade bread.

My first foray into bread making was when I was about 12 years old. I found a recipe from God only knows where, laid out all of my ingredients, and went to work. The result was nothing more than fake food made of cement. I think I may have dropped it on the floor and it didn't break, chip, crack... in a word I had basically invented the currently hot field of Fake Food. Oh... if I had only known and had parlayed that into millions marketing plastic and clay sushi, hot dogs, ice creams, steaks, and... breads.... But I digress.

Having had no examples in a mother or a grandmother or an aunt, not even the Nice Neighbor Lady next door, no one taught me the fine art of bread making. I had no one to tell me that you had to have the right temperature, and about all the kneading and folding, and rising, and punching, and kneading and folding, followed by more rising and punching. So, instead of the pre-requisite 6 hours of "working," I made my bread in about... oh... an hour? And thus, the Fake Food...

I set aside bread making for what I thought was forever. I would ferret out the best breads I could, finding little bread bakeries, be it locally, or in Spain, Ireland, Greece... and I would marvel at the complex simplicity and the years of history that went into the simple loaf or roll in my hand.

Then came the era of the bread machine. And the memory of that first and last time I made bread, always fresh in my mind, made me roughly shove the ghastly idea of bread making back to the deep dark recesses of my brain. And every once in a while, it would open the door a bit, and peep out at me. This went on for a few years until I relinquished and bought a breadmaker. It was wonderful! It did all the work for me. It took an ungodly LONG time, which made me realize just how long it took to make bread by hand. But there it was, my loaf of bread. Golden, fluffy, square, with a little hole in the bottom.

Ugh. That damn hole. And the squareness of it meant I had to cut the loaf in half, which meant that it was now long and thin. So I started to think about making the dough and baking it a normal oven in a regular loaf pan. And wah-lah! The result was magic!

And now, I have my breadmaker back out. I watching it knead and rise over the course of 2 hours. Then another 30 minutes to rise to more than twice it's size, into the oven for another 50 minutes, and a beautiful loaf came out of the pan. Just beautiful.

The immediate critique is that I used a convection setting. Next time, I will use the regular conventional oven setting. I think I let it rise too long. I asked Joseph how long and he said that it would pretty much keep rising and make a big hole in the middle. Oh. Uh oh. I haven't cut into the loaf yet but if there is a hole, I need to lesson the second rising time. And it think it's a tad too brown so the crust may be thicker than I wanted it to be. I won't know until I cut into it. And if it is, then next time, I will lower the heat just a tad.

But all in all, it's a beautiful loaf. Absolutely amazingly beautiful. This time, I made a potato bread. Next time, will try to find a way to infuse the bread with butter and garlic throughout the loaf. Still trying to figure that one out.

Every loaf of bread is perfect in it's imperfect glory. I guess that is why I like artisanal breads so much more than the soft store-bought bakery-factory kind.

Ok. Time to go cut the bread....


Week 41 Training Recap

This last week was a good week for exercise. I finally went over 25 miles running. Yahoo! It was not such a good week for the weight loss. I got down to almost my goal weight, ended up overeating (and subconciously know that I was) and went back up the same two pounds. I can't describe the feeling I had when the realization of self-sabotage came to the fore. I am still trying to find the right words... So this is what last week looked like.

Monday: 30 minutes recovery in the morning. Scary Trainer in the evening! Nice run in the morning. It's getting colder. High volume week with Scary Trainer started off with a bang.
Tuesday: 30 minutes recovery run in the morning. 30 minutes done. Yes!
Wednesday: 45 minutes easy run in the morning. 62 minutes in the morning. I felt really really good. GAWD! It's getting cold out in the mornings!!
Thursday: 30 minutes recovery run in the morning. Scary Trainer in the evening. Decided to take the morning off and rest. Glad I did because Scary Trainer sessions was SCARY! Covered in sweat. I hate high volume week!
Friday: 30 minutes recovery in the morning. 50 minute so on the biked. Freaked out from my 2 pound gain. Also a bit sad about it.
Saturday: 10 miles or 60 minutes. Depends on how the massage goes in the morning. 10.75 miles. It was a really good run. I was a little tired at the end. One lesson that I learned. Never ever mix Accelerade with whey protein. I got so nauseous after an hour that I had to go to the convenience store and ended up with a bottle of plain ole Smart Water. Unreal! Oh my massage got pushed back to Monday.
Sunday: 10 miles or 60 minutes. It depends on whether I managed to get my long run in on Saturday. 4.05 miles after Chinese class. I didn't tie my Polar footpod on tight enough so it said I only ran 3 miles. Pfffft! Thank goodness I run the route all the time to know it's 4.05 miles! Sheesh. Every little inch counts. I ran it harder and faster today than I have run it all year. Seriously. I really wanted to try and move my body forward a little faster than usual. It was very good.

Total Running Miles: 25.2 miles (record: 26.9 miles)
Total Biking Miles: 13.0 miles (record: 67.8)
Total Swimming Yards: 0 yards (record: 3300)
Total Strength Training Days: 2 times
Total Workout Hours: 5:45:52 of cardio plus 2 hours with Scary Trainer
This coming week is the week leading up to the Grand Rapids Marathon on Sunday. Another long run on the weekend. It should be okay. Don't what the terrain is like or what the weather will be. I am hoping for a temperate 55-60 and a slightly downhill course. Right. So this coming week will be interesting because it is also my heavy lift week. So many wrenches, aren't there?
Monday: 30 minutes recovery run in the morning.
Tuesday: 30 minutes recovery bike in the morning. Scary Trainer in the evening.
Wednesday: 30 minutes recovery run in the morning.
Thursday: 30 minutes recovery bike in the morning. Scary Trainer in the evening.
Friday: 30 minutes recovery in the morning.
Saturday: Rest day. Time to travel. I hope we make the connection in Atlanta...
Sunday: 13.1 miles or more depending on how I run the tangents at the Grand Rapids Marathon and half marathon. It had better be NICE WEATHER!!


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Open Letter to My Friend

Let me ask this. What is your life worth?

So many things to consider when you value your life. I am not talking about wanting to live, being afraid of death, or choose life over death. I am talking about life-long sacrifice. The insidious sacrifice of one's self, dignity that pervades some relationships. The kind that sneaks up on you, that eats away at the edges of your psyche, a low-grade nagging feeling that something is not right but you can't put a finger on it. It's not just one action; it's many. It's not just one week; it happens over months and years. It's not the action itself but the MEANING behind the action. It's the kind of sacrifice that makes you think of alternatives - divorce, separation, quitting, giving up, giving in.

How do you value your life? How does it affect your outlook on, and hope for, the future? Where will be you going? What else is there to anticipate - it can be as good as it can be bad. Does it make you feel as if there is nothing you can do? Is there despair and hopeless? A discontented acceptance of the so-called inevitable?

And how do you value the lives of your children? Especially when they watching and absorbing through every fiber of their being without you ever knowing it. What value lessons are you teaching them? Not just by talking to them about life and what is wrong and what is right, but by giving in or giving up. No amount of talking and lecturing to them about the value of their lives and their esteen can undo the silent teachings of living the example. Do you fight for them? Do you fight for yourself?

When you are married to someone that cannot learn, that promises but cannot keep them, that has a compulsion to do something that will jeopardize your esteem, your reputation, your career, all the hard work you have put into the great success you have had... what does that say about their regard for you? And that is the real question. How do they value you? And how will you allow them to value you? And therefore, how will you value yourself.

That is the real question. It is not a matter of listening or talking, of the lack of passion or the arguments, the difficulty of life together with someone who cannot and will not listen. But the real question is, do you give up yourself, your whole being, the very existence of who you are, just to satisfy their compulsion or their weaknesses?

Lessons must be taught. And they hard hard to teach and hard to learn. The question is not whether you should give up or give in. The question is... how do you value yourself?

You have a space in this world that no one else can take away. And when someone tries to diminish your value - in this world, to the world, to you children, to yourself - you must not give up too easily. We often ask what battles are worth fighting over? The answer I always give is, the hardest ones. And this is the hardest fight of all. And it's the one worth fighting. Your value is worth defending.

You are loved. You are important.


Going back down

.2 pounds down from yesterday. Now that I know that I can sabotage myself, I will carry that in the front of my mind and be aware of my own self-enemy. I am also taking a closer look at my food log. The rice is killing me. Time to back way off of the rice again. A small slice of bread is less calories and I bet it will curb my carbo cravings. Even a biscuit it less calories then a serving of rice!!! I bet bread will take the edge off my desire for carbs just as well as rice - and won't leave me craving more!

Today is long run day. 10 miles. Last longish run before Grand Rapids next weekend. I want to run a faster time next week than I did at Applefest. I can't say that I want to run a stronger race because I ran pretty strong. Especially if you consider that was my longest run for the year, with the last one being under 9 miles.

Today is also cheat day. This is good because I fueled up for the long run. It's amazing how less daunting nutrition on the run is when I understand fueling better - fueling before and after - which means fueling during isn't as nerve wracking. I had a pretty big breakfast - eggs, bacon, toast with yogurt butter, orange juice. I'll wait an hour and go out. During the run I'll just carry salt, one Hammer Gel, and a 24 ounce bottle of Accelerade and protein powder mixed. If I run out of liquid, I will replace it with Water. And this will carry me through.

It's a beautiful day. The sun is shining. And for the first time in a very very long time, I have a weekend that is relatively relaxing. Now, that is NOT to say that I don't have things to do - meeting people for dinner tonight, studying Chinese later, a run to the grocery story and to the Korean food store, a Chinese class tomorrow morning followed by a 5 mile run, make bread, make apple dumplings... lots of things. But the massage got moved to Monday and I've decided at the last minute to take Monday off. Amazing what a three day weekend can do to reduce your stress. I think everyone should have a three day weekend regularly. I am starting to become of a proponent of the 4-day 10-hour day week. Most of the people I work with already work 10-hours a day and then some. But it's 5-days a week. It's so important to have some down time and the more I have it, the more I crave it. Also, the difference in my productivity is very noticeable once I have had a chance to destress and recharge.

Well, I am looking so forward to the rest of the weekend that I might actually clean up one of the rooms. The question is, which room....

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Friday, October 10, 2008

What am I afraid of?

Okay. I am going to give voice to something that I don't know what I am afraid of.

So, about 4 days ago, I lost enough weight to be only 1.4 pounds from my next milestone. After hovering a pound or two about it for about 2 months, I finally got back down to .4 of a pound above my lowest weight this year since I started this program.

So the next couple of day, I am pretty good about eating all day, and then dinner hits and I overeat. Not by 10% or 20% but by about a full 100% of what I should be eating for dinner. Yesterday, I had gained a pound. Same thing happened last night. This morning, I am back up another pound. Now I am sad to say that I am right back up 2 pounds, right back to that hover point.

Realization of something going on was slow. It started last night with Scary Trainer when I told him that I was really hungry since the half marathon last weekend. But he looked at me and said, "your body should be over it since it was 5 days ago." Hmmm... No comment.

Then last night I came home and had a bowl of chili with some rice (should not have had the rice), and then I had another bowl of rice with some salmon with hot sauce (should not have had second dinner at all). And then I saw the scale this morning and it hit me. I had sabotaged myself pretty good. I had done myself in. And I also realized that somewhere hovering in the background I knew EXACTLY WHAT I WAS DOING. And it's not like I couldn't stop myself because I think I could have. And it wasn't that I didn't care because I do. It was more that I was making myself go back to where I was before and I didn't know why. And then I thought, I am afraid.

I have no idea what I am afraid of. No idea. The weight I am trying to reach, I haven't seen in about 5 years. FIVE YEARS! That period of my life had a lot of turmoil - a LOT of personal issues, I had been promoted at work and was standing in front of EVPs, SVP;s, being mentored on the fast track. I was living in a small apartment with my Hunny Bunny who was also going through some things of his own - much of which I I just sat by and witness since it really had nothing to do with me. And I had my own apartment 20 minute walk away that I was paying more for rent than I have ever paid to basically use as a giant furnished model apartment that held most of my stuff (along with a storage unit). It was a time of turmoil. A big roller coaster. I was strapped in, holding on for dear life and hoping the damn thing didn't derail.

And then out into the calmness of the rest of the my life. Somewhat calm. Since then it's been non-stop go go go, making some of the biggest purchases of my life, a brownstone and a Victorian being renovated, moving, unpacking, settling in, more stuff at work...

So, what am I afraid of? Going back to the early days? The days of the Big Bad Roller Coaster? Maybe.

Now that I am aware of my self-sabotage, I can do something. But it's a scary dark place. Actually it's not that dark. It's just dimly lit and the only bright light is the warm shiny glow around the face of my Hunny Bunny.

I have to remember that. And lose the 2 pounds that I gained in the last 4 days. And then the 1.4 pounds on top of that to make it to the next milestone.

I have to remember this moment.
I need to stop being afraid.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Things I think about while Running

I might have to take a week off to catch up on my Chinese. ONE WHOLE WEEK.

My new clothes I bought a month ago no longer fit. I now have to spend more money to get them tailored. Sheesh.

How the hell am I going to maintain while I am in Ireland for work in a few weeks? ARG!!! I hate traveling. It totally cramps my style. It's one thing to travel alone, but then I am traveling with an ENTOURAGE!!!

I need to run every single day. It feels so good.

I can't run tomorrow, I need a rest. Maybe I will bike.

My fat cells are moving. They are sloshing. My fat cells are secreting fat molecules. There they gooooo.... slosh slosh slosh....

Tighten the core, tighten the core, tighten the core...

I have to remember to send Cher a birthday card. I bet I forget.

I would love to not work. I would love it.

What would I do it I didn't work? Let's see. Run, go to the pool, go to the gym, read books, cook up a storm, have cooking classes, go to cooking school, walk everywhere to my errands instead of driving since I have more time, make bread, look for a part time job....

Breathe breathe breathe

Step step step

do do doooo, da doo do doooo, da do do doooo, da do doo dooooooo, da doo doo dooooo, da dooo doo dooooo, da doo doo doooo da dooo doo doooooo...


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Workout thoughts

I thought it was worth mentioning a few observations I've had lately.

First, the run this morning was really good. I started out a bit sluggish, but then, I always do. This is especially true in the cold and we all know that it's getting colder!

Second, my holding calories down and adding running has made me come down to my almp-st lowest weight since starting this program in January. In fact, I am 4/10 of a pound away from it. Actually, that was yesterday. This morning I was up a pound because I was starving yesterday for some reason. But today, I am back on track.

I think I was really ravenous because I ran 13.5 miles on Sunday and I was in calorie deficit that day. Which means I've been in major calorie defict and my body would have none of that. So yesterday, my hunger took over my brain and I had more dinner than I intended, massive amounts of sipping from Joseph's wine glass, and ice cream for dessert. Yes. ICE CREAM! Banana Ice Cream to be exact. I LOVE Banana Ice Cream. I had about a half cup. And this morning I was up a pound but that's okay with me. I think I needed that to get over the deficit hurdle. In no way did I regain all that I burned off on Sunday, which is the key consideration.

This week, I am managing to run or bike every single day. This weekend is a 10-mile step back long run. And next weekend is the Grand Rapids Half Marathon. Another calorie deficit day. Although, our friend Don the Race Director has a penchant for really good beer. At least I can carbo load in style, right?

The other thing that Scary Trainer and I agreed to, anything longer than an hour, I can take in GU, or Gatorade or other nutrition DURING the run as I need to. I still need to log it and I can't take in all the calories I burn off but I can uptake my nutrition to make sure I can go the distance. What a relief. How to handle these long runs was really messing me up. And I know that if I burn off 1200 calories, there is no way, I can ingest that much during the run. Last week, I think I good one Hammer Gel which was 88 calories along with a 120 calorie carbo drink. And I burned off almost 1200. I made up for it right after the race with a nice cup of apple crisp and then at the cookout with a couple of beers. I still was about 1000 calories under for the day.

Ahhh... the beauty of the long run.
I love it.


Time for a bit of belt tightening

Ok. I wasn't going to do it but now I have to.



Strangely, that did NOT make me feel better.

I am afraid to look at my 401K. Years of savings could be down the tube.
Luckily, the market has proven to be resilient and has managed to rebound. Maybe not in the same way as prior to a downfall but with lessons learned, it manages to hike back up that mountain to ever higher increases. I have to remember that before I run around like Chicken Little.

Interestingly, the market is not always an indicator of the economic health of this country. We could, in fact, be economically better than the market that is falling. I know it doesn't not seem to be the case right now and many people are struggling. But not ALL people are, and there are still jobs and we still have one of the highest standards of living in the world. It's the truth. And if you don't believe me, you can choose to go live for a year in some other country. You might be surprised that your cousin will die of some disease waiting for approval for heart surgery on that universal health care government-run plan in another country. The grass is always greener but SOMEONE still has to get in the dirt and well... get dirty.

Anyway... I think it's going to get worse before it gets better. This did not happen over night. It took many years of nurturing and growing the seeds that were planted maybe 10, 12 years ago. Yes. That many years ago. Hmmm.... let's see... who's administration was that again?... Yeah. Thought so. This is similar to the whole Bin Laden thing. But I digress.

And then there has been the manipulation of the interest rates and playing God, keeping the numbers artificially low. Okay. I don't know much about anything but I do have some smidgen of common sense. If I play God, and since I am NOT all knowing, I am bound to screw up almost everything else that is related to my playing God. Right? Yah. You give it a try and see what happens. Anyway... this is the only country in the world where everyone feels that they have the RIGHT to own a home. The RIGHT. An Entitlement as an American to own a home. Okay. Let's say they are right. The problem is that YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO AFFORD IT! And in the last few years, people have lost sight of the definition of affordability. And with the interest rates low, the dollars devalued, and for so long, it was bound to burst out of the small box that it got smashed into and ooops... there go the interest rates... oops, there go the payments... ooops ooops ooops.

I know this is only a sub fractional facet of the issue, because as I said, I don't know a whole hell of a lot on this topic of money and the economy. But the people who talked the common man into thinking uncommon thoughts should be strung up. The people who are now crying fowl because they can't AFFORD their payments have a responsibility for all these issues too. What do you do with them? Lock in the interest rate at the payments they signed up for. Disappointing for them, I know, because now that the institutions are being "helped" (no one is getting a free hand here, folks), they are expecting some sort of charitable largess at the expense of all the other people who did make wise decisions. Uh... no... that is not going to happen. You made your bed... Anyway, locking in allows them to keep their homes and the institutions who gave them the loans deserve to make a little less if anything at all even if the interest rates rise. And if they made too many of these loans on the backs of the common man, they will be in the red and they may go under. MAY go under. It's still not definite. And those that do go under? Let them. We will then know who did most of the dirty deeds.

Anyway, the market will come back. I have to be confident of that. Otherwise, I will take all my money out and put it in the basement somewhere. Or the attic - it's dryer.

And as for me, I am going to tighten my belt a bit. Thank goodness I have a freezer full of food! No ramen noodles for me. Yet.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Chinese is a frikkin lot of work!

I don't know what I was thinking. I guess I wasn't. I didn't think it would take this much time! After about 7 months of sort of fluffing around, I've spent the last 3-4 weeks buckling down. I am studying about an hour a day. Okay. Not every day. But I try and some days are better than others.

"Buckling down" means that I am going back to the first lesson and reading and writing every dialog, reading every single note, practicing writing every single dialog and each of the vocabulary lists. Then going to the workbook and doing those exercises. That doesn't even include the extra words I learned in class, or the extra words scatter throughout the textbook and workbook that I've noted down. I have to go back and find the characters for those still!

I am at Chapter Four. Comfortably. Just today! It took me about a week of work to master chapter four. Okay. Semi-master. A. WEEK. GAH!

I am now only 5 chapters behind. FIVE.
But that doesn't consider the fact that even though I am behind, I am having homework due five chapters ahead of where I am comfortable! FIVE!

And now we have listening exercises that Laoshi sends us via email. We have to listen, repeat, translate, answer the questions. And let me tell you. THOSE CHINESE PEOPLE CAN SPEAK FAST!

The first listening exercise was 3 nminutes of sheer hell. Took me about 20 replays and 30 minutes.

The second listening exerise is about 5 minutes of sheer hell. I am only half way through. And I am thinking, WHAT ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT???

So the first listening exerise I turned in, I had three missing sentences because I couldn't understand what they were saying. They were TALKING TOO FAST! So Laoshi hands my homework back to me with the script transcribed in Chinese Characters. Only I can't READ HER HANDWRITING!!! I gave it to my friend Lilly to see if she could help. She could, but she says, "oh, that's sloppy handwriting." Well, gee. I never would have guessed. I guess it's the equivalent of our own script handwriting. All the strokes are CONNECTED!!! Okay, not for nothing, but I am NOT off writing characters in blocks yet. In fact, even when I was learning Korean, I never moved off of block letters. Even in English, even today, I STILL WRITE IN BLOCK LETTERS!!!

I am doomed.


Monday, October 06, 2008

I wonder if it's raining yet...

I better get up out of my chair and look out the window.

Just when I butt was starting to grow roots...


It's gonna rain...

You know why?
Because I forgot my umbrella!

The forecast said rain this afternoon.
And I forgot to check for my umbrella.
I checked for the trash to check out.
I checked my Chinese homework.
I checked for the kitty cat's food and water.
I even checked for my lunch and muffins for my friend Lilly.

Do you THINK that I would have checked for my umbrella?
Of course not. Too easy. It's right there in the coat closet.
Or right by the front door.

I might have to run across to South Station to see if there is an umbrella that I can buy.
Because the walk to the Channel Garage about 10 minutes away could mean that I melt in the rain.



Sunday, October 05, 2008

Week 40 Training Recap

This was a pretty good week. I did something every single day. And I finally managed to break the dreaded 9 mile long run barrier by making myself run the Applefest Half Marathon even though my longest run of the year was just under 9 miles.
Monday: 30 minutes recovery in the morning. Scary Trainer in the evening! Biked for 35 minutes (9 miles). Scary Trainer in the evening. Had a pretty good workout. It was medium volume day and I went up in weights again. Yahoo!
Tuesday: 30 minutes recovery run in the morning. 40 minutes on the bike (10.5 miles).
Wednesday: 30 minutes easy run in the morning. 30 minutes easy. I could have gone for an hour but I needed the ride into work and I needed to get into work early because I have a 5 hour Meeting From Hell (MFH) this afternoon.
Thursday: 30 minutes recovery run in the morning. Scary Trainer in the evening. I rested in the morning because I had to get into work early to do work that I didn't get to until 4:30 PEE EMM! Scary Trainer in the evening. It was good, anyway.
Friday: 30 minutes recovery in the morning. 3.13 miles in the morning.
Saturday: Applefest Half Marathon in the morning. I can't believe the lack of training I've done for this race. 13.53 miles. It was a half marathon by I didn't run the tangents perfectly even though I tried. Still, I did much better with that than I usually do.
Sunday: 30 minutes recovery in the morning. Bike 11.5 miles as a recovery.

Total Running Miles: 19.1 miles (record: 26.9 miles)
Total Biking Miles: 31.0 miles (record: 67.8)
Total Swimming Yards: 0 yards (record: 3300)
Total Strength Training Days: 2 times
Total Workout Hours: 5:33:19 of cardio, 2 hours with Scary Trainer
I am looking forward to the week of training coming up. It's going to get a little trickly because it's high volume week with Scary Trainer.
Monday: 30 minutes recovery in the morning. Scary Trainer in the evening!
Tuesday: 30 minutes recovery run in the morning.
Wednesday: 45 minutes easy run in the morning.
Thursday: 30 minutes recovery run in the morning. Scary Trainer in the evening.
Friday: 30 minutes recovery in the morning.
Saturday: 10 miles or 60 minutes. Depends on how the massage goes in the morning.
Sunday: 10 miles or 60 minutes. It depends on whether I managed to get my long run in on Saturday.


Cooking Cooking Cooking

What a day! Phew! Lots O' Cooking today!

First, my Hunny Bunny made his World Famous Beef Chili. YUMMY!!! We had it for dinner with onions, shredded cheese and chopped tomatoes on the side. And just to cool things down, we also had mini baby cucumbers. Yummy yummy yummy!

While the Chili was cooking and my Hunny Bunny went for a run, I started making banana muffins. I made about 2 dozen of those. And since you can never have enough muffins, and since I had a little more mashed banana left, I got the fresh frozen strawberries out of the freeze and made Banana Strawberry muffins. Yummy yummy yummy!!!

I am going to bring some into work for my friend Lilly and her two little munchkins, Rachel and Emma. I remembered that last time her husband caused a ruckus between the two girls because he snuck one for himself. So, this time, I added a few extras just in case. I'll also take a few into Scary Trainer tomorrow night. They turned out really well, I think.

Then it was time to make some stir fry for work the rest of the week so I ended up baking a Trader Joe's Marsala chicken. Then I took a bag of the Trader Joe Asian Stir Fry Vegetables, cooked it up in some olive oil, add a spinkle of chicken broth to prevent sticking, and then added the Marsala Chicken that I had chopped up. It yielded about 4.5 cups of really good lunches for next week!

I won't be cooking until next week. I am thinking of baking bread.


Breaking the long run barrier

I finally did it. I broke through the dreaded barrier for the long run. The one that you just can't manage to get past. It can be 6 miles, 8 miles, or longer. For me, it's been the 9 mile barrier.

The longest run of the year for me has been just under 9 miles. The longest duration for running has been about 2:50. Yah. A REALLY slow long run was had at when we went to Boothbay at the end of August.

So, on little training, a wing and a prayer, I decided to go through with the Applefest Half Marathon. 13.1 miles of relentless, unstoppable hills. Small decents, constant inclines, steep downhills, and slow uphills. But I knew I had to go through with it even though some people thought it might be unwise. Those who didn't say anything, I know, were sort of just watching me. Knowing that I didn't want any of their opinions.

But I knew that I had strength in my legs from all the Scary Trainer workouts. I also knew that I had some sort of endurance. I just needed some distance. And I wasn't worried about speed. And it worked. I basically noticed all the months of strength training coming to a head to take me over the hills. My feet hurt from not running too much - wasn't used to the pavement and pounding. But the usual aches and pains didn't overwhelm me. Instead, I noticed that I started to get a little tight around mile 9 or 10. But no real pain. And then I noticed that my legs continued to run pretty easy because my core was engaged. And when I got tired, I would tighten my core and run easier.


After the race, I treated myself to a bowl of apple crisp. I didn't care. I figured that a 1194 calorie expenditure deserved a little replenishment. After eating the crisp, of course I felt so much better. We ended up at Debbie's house for a wonderful BBQ with some other people who had run the race, as well as a few friends who decided to come and hang out just for the food. I don't blame them. Debbie always puts out a pretty good spread. And this year, since she is on a diet, she ended up giving all the rest of the food to everyone to take home. That was too funny! She didn't want any of it in the house. And I do not blame her one bit!

So, next week, I am shooting for a 10 miler to taper for the Grand Rapids Half Marathon the following week, and if I do it right, I should feel good for that one.

Now all I need is a little distance on my legs, and then some speedwork afterwards.

I am a sucker for punishment.


Friday, October 03, 2008


On my way home from the gym last night, I passed by a pizza place. The only customers were two people, a man and a woman, who were standing there and talking to each other.

She was about my age and looked it. No makeup. Not exactly well coiffed.
He was leaning down and she was smiling and flipping her hair.
I know she felt beautiful.

Everyone deserves to feel beautiful.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

I hate this time of the year

Budget time. Bonus prep time. But this year, it is worse. Everyone has new processes to follow, new tools to use, a new philosophy is being rolled out, the old way of doing and thinking is out the window, we are all struggling to embrace the change in a very short amount of time.

I didn't work out this morning to get to work a little early.
I had ONE THING on my desk to do.
And I had only ONE MEETING on calendar, outside of my Boss's weekly staff meeting which is pretty quick (which turned out to be NOT quick today!).

And finally at 4 PEE EMM O'CLOCK, I finally got around the that ONE THING that I had on my To Do List for the day. 4 PEE EMM!!!

What would people do if I didn't ever come back to work?
What would they do???

Oh. Find someone else's doorstep to wait on, someone's else's doorway to walk back and forth in front of, someone else's email to flood, someone else's IM to ping, someone else's phone to leave messages on...and someone else's time to clog.

And so... it goes.

But I did end up having a great workout with Scary Trainer tonight.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Week 39 Training Recap

Well, I don't know what to say but that last week was just crazy. Work was crazy. Home life was crazy with events and training. And then there was Gramma's death. And I had to take Friday off and take the Amtrak down (LOVE Business Class)which was the start of my Diet Demise. Joe picked me up from the station in Pittsfield (I mean, WHERE THE HELL is PITTSFIELD??) and we drove to the funeral home for the wake. And then it was off to Joseph's parents' house and a dinner of apple cider donuts, a glass of scotch, and a slice of day old pizza. Yes. It was a lovely day.

And then there was Saturday. Off to the funeral home again to sit around wonder what we were doing there. And then into the line of cars to the church. A whole hour service during which I ran to the ladies room while everyone was up getting Christ's body and blood and all that transmutation thing (no, I am not Roman Catholic, I am Confucian, Buddhist, Anglican Catholic - all of which are very lenient about what actually sends you to hell and going to the ladies room in the middle of service is not one of them). Then it was time to go to the cemetary. Then back to the church for lunch which was basically pasta, alfredo sauce, etc. Of course I HAD to have that banana cream pie. ARG!!! It's my favorite and I hadn't had it in YEARS and there it was calling for me. So...

After the Church lunch, we went to the Flag Pole ceremony at Uncle John's house. The biggest flag pole you have ever seen. It looks like one of those monument government flagpoles. You see, Uncle Mike works for the state. Uncle John wanted a BIG FLAG POLE. Uncle Mike says, "A big one? I can get you a BIG ONE." And down the street comes the state flag pole moving truck - which I assume is also a BIG TRUCK to carry the BIG FLAG POLE - and there you have it. The BIG FLAG POLE dedicated to the veterans of the Family at the Homestead that has been there for over 250 years. Of course they had a cookout and I had to taste the baked beans! GAH!

We met some of Joseph's long lost cousins. The Aunt and Uncle had moved out long ago and the kids (5 of them) had been raised "outside" and well, they were NORMAL! And then we find out that two of them are heading to Boston to stay God-only-knows-where so they could catch an 8:30 am flight on Sunday. So...

We are off to Boston because we have convinced them to stay with us since we are only 20 minutes from the airport. By the time everyone gathered, we were exhausted. We decided on take out pizza and I chowed down. I ate because I was tired and hungry and the Diet Demise had happened and it was almost over. So I ate with free abandon.

Of course, I didn't exercise. Of COURSE NOT! And so... this brings us to last week's recap.

Monday: 30 minutes recovery in the morning. Scary Trainer in the evening! Got on the bike and rode for 30 minutes in the morning. Scary Trainer in the evening. Made me wish I had rested in the morning. Sheesh.
Tuesday: 30 minutes recovery run in the morning.27 minutes in the morning. The legs were saved from Monday's Scary Trainer workout. Thank goodness! But the entire back half of my body... jeeeeeez!
Wednesday: 30 minutes easy run in the morning. Scary Trainer in the evening. My entire back half of my body HURTS from the weights on Monday. Since I have Scary Trainer in the evening, decided to back off for the morning and skip the run.
Thursday: 30 minutes recovery run in the morning, 4.05 miles in the morning. What a great run it was!
Friday: 60 minutes easy run in the morning. Nothing. Gramma's wake.
Saturday: 75 minute easy run in the morning. We have a cookout in the afternoon at a friend's house. Nothing. Gramma's funeral.
Sunday: Run for 90 minutes after Chinese class. Another messed up schedule! We are hosting a cookout at our house in the afternoon for Joe's tri club.4.02 miles. At least it's something.

Total Running Miles: 10.4 miles (record: 26.9 miles)
Total Biking Miles: 7.8 miles (record: 67.8)
Total Swimming Yards: 0 yards (record: 3300)
Total Strength Training Days: 2 times
Total Workout Hours: 2:33:25 of cardio, 2 hours with Scary Trainer
So, this week has been better so far. I am managing to do something. It's another crazy week but manageable. One thing... life always gets in the way. The key is to focus focus focus and maintain maintain maintain. FFFMMM FFFMMM.

Monday: 30 minutes recovery in the morning. Scary Trainer in the evening!
Tuesday: 30 minutes recovery run in the morning.
Wednesday: 30 minutes easy run in the morning.
Thursday: 30 minutes recovery run in the morning. Scary Trainer in the evening.
Friday: 30 minutes recovery in the morning.
Saturday: Applefest Half Marathon in the morning. I can't believe the lack of training I've done for this race.
Sunday: 30 minutes recovery in the morning.