Starting from scratch in an elite fitness-blog-world full of expensive gear, and Personal Records she couldn't beat with a car.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The perils of popularity

Sorry I skipped a day there, yesterday was my mother's birthday and today was a wine tour bachelorette party for my Boyfriend's Sister so I've been out and about of the majority of the weekend. My running schedule for the coming week looks similarly chaotic between a doctor's appointment, providing immoral support at the salon for a friend, my regular game night, and the wedding.

I'm really hoping to be able to run tomorrow afternoon, but if I do it will be in some random spot (probably my old neighborhood simply because I know the streets) and then almost directly to the ophthalmologist.
I'm banking on the power of my deodorant and a fresh change of clothing since I don't have time to go home between. I won't be able to run Tuesday, Thursday or Friday so I have to take what I can get. Luckily I don't tend to get stinky after that kind of run and I'm hoping a headband will hide any hair issues but I'm sure I'll be mortified the whole time anyway. Worst comes to worst I will think of it as their punishment for making me take the air puff glaucoma test.

My ankle pain has resolved as far as my ankle itself, but the soreness has now moved up into the back of my calf and left it feeling the same kind of sore as when you get for the day after you get one of those charlie horses that hurt so bad they wake you up out of a dead sleep. I'm hoping a night of sleep and some gentle but focused stretching over the course of the day tomorrow will work that out in time.

Have you ever had to own your grossness in public for a while in order to fit a workout into your schedule?

Day 29 Recipe time! Share your favourite fall recipe!


Easy choice: Garlic Parmesan roasted pumpkin seeds.

I base my methods on the ones posted at Extreme Pumpkins, but I do the seasoning mix to taste. Usually this involves dumping as much garlic powder, salt, and fresh grated Parmesan cheese in to the mix as I think I can reasonably get away with. I used to do other flavors until I found myself wishing I was eating this one instead.

1. Do a mediocre job of separating the goo and guts from the actual seeds. Don’t rinse them or they won’t taste as good.
2. Add salt to the seeds. I suggest 1 teaspoon for every 2 cups of seeds.
3. Add the melted butter. I use 1 tablespoon.
4. Mix the salt (and/or seasonings), melted butter and seeds and then spread them on the baking sheet.
5. Roast them at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes. Stir them halfway through.
6. Take them out and eat them.

Day 30 Your goals for October

My goals for October are
  • run my first 5k race (already scheduled!)  
  • get back into practicing yoga and belly dance
  • speed up my 5k a bit (no definite goals for that yet)
  • figure out and maybe start doing some heart rate training
  • more bloggy goodness

Friday, September 28, 2012

This is what I get for mentioning my strong ankles

My right ankle is not exactly painful, but still very stiff in the aftermath of yesterdays run. It's like if I could just find *turn* the *twist* right *flex* way *pout* to stretch the muscles just on the inside of my Achilles Tendon I'd be set. I still can't find my arnica so I suppose I should  probably slap an ice pack on it for a bit.

I must have stepped or turned on it wrong while I was freaked out about the creeper SUV yesterday since I was fine when I headed out and yet twingey when I finally got my focus back on my run. So perhaps it's good that I don't really have time to get out and run more this weekend.

Tomorrow I'll be walking around a local fair all day with my Mom for her birthday and Sunday I'll be hitting some Long Island wineries as a bachelorette party for my boyfriend's sister, so the entirety of my daylight hours (I assure you, early mornings don't count) are spoken for.

As if I didn't have enough problems being graceful.
Seriously, how come I never trip over things while holding WHITE wine?

September Blog Challenge Day 28 - Have you ever done a home workout video? If so, which ones are your favourite?

Home workout videos were my main form of exercise for a while so I have several go-to videos.

The most enduring one for me has been Yoga Shakti by Shiva Rea. The pacing is great, the setting is breathtaking and inspirational, and it is probably the most functionally flexible workout setup I've ever seen. The DVD is actually made up of an array of mini sections which can be mixed and matched at your whim, or played through on a number of preset paths. Many of the poses are also broken down into levels of intensity, so a single workout can still grow with you over time.

I do wish it was easier to figure out how long a constructed workout will take. There is a second DVD packaged with it which I also remember having some nifty stuff on it, especially in the Techniques section, which gave me information on attention and placement that I feel has subtly but permanently altered the way I approach yoga.

You can almost feel the heat of the sun while watching this video

Tribal Fusion Belly Dance Yoga Isolations and Drills: A Practice Companion with Rachel Brice

A pleasantly stripped down bellydance DVD aimed at drilling some of the core dance movements with a yoga-centric warm up and cool down routine. This DVD offers three workout options differentiated by length (15, 30, or 45 minutes) and a performance at the end.

I really like that it's made up of pure movement drills instead of the usual "learn this combo" setup and the dialogue and sound-scaping is somehow especially pleasant. I have her sequel videos but have not poked at them enough to really comment.

Bellydance for Beginners with Suhaila: Fitness Fusion (Buns, Jazz, Pilates, Yoga) - Honorable Mention

A four volume set that is I think is mislabeled as "beginners" but which still offers plenty to the newcomer. A little more "classic workout DVD" than the other two, but still offering up that bellydance flavor with one or more performances featured on each DVD.

Suhaila's workouts are VERY glute driven and her glutes are pretty famous all on their own. She feels that glutes are the core of belly dance and has developed her own style around that idea.

Seriously, it's like they're sentient

Clearly there is something to this glute idea as she is AMAZING.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Stranger Danger!

Well today was officially scary. 

I was a little under a mile into my run on a nice long wide  neighborhood artery type road when I noticed a newish dark blue Suburban style SUV slowing as it passed me. People seem to have a vested interest in not hitting me (which I appreciate) so that didn't bother me overmuch at first.... except that the SUV never sped back up. 

I noticed that the driver pulled to about 50 yards past me and started pacing me, and after about a block or two of pacing me they pulled sloppily off to the right side of the road, stopping (but not parking) less than two blocks south of a forced left turn with a lot of foliage and no houses right at the corner (the outside corner seems to be some sort of municipal property).

I maintained speed but made a sudden left turn at the next block I passed after I saw that they had pulled over, and watched from around the corner as they immediately pulled back into the lane and drove away.

Clearly, the picture of subtlety.

I keep my phone on my left arm in an armband so I immediately switched my phone to video camera mode and started recording. I described why I had the phone on record, what I had seen, and how I was changing my route to account for the scare and stuck to main roads for the rest of the run (which was pretty hard, and kind of owie). 

Of course I didn't realize until hours later that since the camera was on the *back* of the phone and the microphone was tucked in my bra along with the right earpiece, so I now have an excellent video of the inside of my armband with accompanying audio of my right boob.

At least the idea was there, and I will set up my phone better to account for that in the future. I've always been a bit iffy about that corner but now it's right out. I may also alter my route to avoid a couple of other less populated sections for a bit. Actually I can think of one route tweak which may also avoid a completely insane intersection I currently go through, so at least that's helpful.

Day 27 Do you use any meal replacements or shakes?

Does cheese count? I replace dinner with cheese on the regular, but other than that no meal replacements. I use Clif bars as midday snacks quite a bit though. I've calorie counted in the past to reasonable effect, but right now I'm finding I'm doing really well with just eating better food.

My run today: 5K run with warmup and cooldown walks
3.17 miles at an average of 11:53 per mile -  total time of 37:42 

My right ankle and knee were kind of... tweaked? for much of the run. Not enough to effect me much at the time but now I'm noticing it in my ankle and I'm deeply annoyed to be missing a nearly full tube of Arnica gel. The weird thing is my right wrist is also hurting, so maybe I slept stupid or something. 

I spent so much time distracted by the creeper car and trying to work my phone without killing myself that I'd call this one of my worst days out. I also didn't cool down and stretch after as well as I should have today or Tuesday.

I wasn't sure when I went out I was even going to do a full 5k today but by one mile I knew I was committed, so there's that. I don't think I'm going to be able to run again until Monday due to my weekend plans which has me kind of annoyed, but we'll see if I can fit something in.

Now THIS is my idea of motivation

Forget balls, grab life by the viscera!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Reason vs Decision

I'm always on the lookout for new blogs and while I'm still on the fence about VanessaRuns overall, I did find this really striking:
I actually believe that there is NO good reason for running 100 miles. But I also believe that I don’t need one.
I love the distance. I love training for and running 100s. And that is enough. I don’t need to lose weight from it and I don’t need to earn money from it. I just need to run.
We live in a world now where everything requires a purpose and an explanation, otherwise it’s useless. Exercise must have a direct benefit in order to be worth our time. Not surprisingly, we are more sickly and sedentary than ever
Instead of going outside, we sit around and reason that there is not enough of a physical or financial benefit in ultra running. But I believe ultra running is more of an art, not a job.
Nobody asks:
  • Why we go to a ballet
  • Why we listen to an orchestra
  • Why we visit art galleries
  • Why we appreciate music
Or for that matter:
  • Why go to a movie on opening night?
  • Why watch a sunrise?
  • Why pet a puppy?
There is no logic or reason behind these things, but they feed our souls. They make us human.
And ultra running makes me human. It’s the one thing I don’t need to explain. And I don’t think I should be asked.
There's more to her post and I do believe it's worth reading. I've done some pretty whacked out things in my life for no reason beyond "because I want to" or "because it's the right thing for me right now" so I'm feeling a lot of resonance with her words.

Why am I running?

Well I enjoy that I'm getting fit, but given my initial knee woes there are other ways to get fit that would probably have made more sense. I enjoy that I'm getting out of my cave but I could just as easily go fly kites or go fishing for several hours a week. I like the community but there's a whole lot of bars or knitting blogs and gathers to be found (not that I bar hop, kite, fish, or knit, but whatever).

As I mentioned in yesterday's post I haven't always picked the things that  make "the most sense" for me to focus on. Relying on the power of logical motivations has not always been the strongest source of personal drive for me (says the ex-smoker). Then again if we always had that kind of discipline we'd be living highly structured lives in a Brave New World style dystopia and research psychologists would be really bored.

I am running because I want to run.

Ultimately that is the solitary thing that has made the difference between doing it and not doing it. How many times do we say that we want to do something that we think will be positive (losing weight, quitting smoking, joining that book club) but all the logic and reasoning in the world means bupkis until you actually make that decision. Was there any reason not to make the decision earlier? Probably not really, except that you just didn't.

Though I will say that anyone who doesn't understand the logic or reason behind petting a puppy apparently has a different understanding of what the word "puppy" means than I do.

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

-Bernard Baruch (frequently miss-attributed to Dr Seuss)

Randomly: I got my first friction burn yesterday! The belt I use to hold my house key (and mace) rode up to my waist and as I ran it rubbed a nickel sized spot on my mid back raw. I felt it stinging in the shower but couldn't see it until today because a) I'm rather blind (especially behind me) and b) it is on a tattoo.

I'm strangely jazzed by this.

Day 26 What is one area of your fitness that you’d like to improve upon?

While flexibility has probably always been my main focus, I think the thing I'd most like to improve on at the moment is my endurance.

I do find this to be a pretty funny juxtaposition with the rest of my post above but I guess if I like doing something raising my endurance means I can do it more!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


A bit of administrative monkeying today, I have a cleaner shinier new look and a nifty Daily Mile widget there on the right side. 

I don't know why my mileage is wrong, apparently I am not allowed to have a fitness-based social network work for me the right way. This is the fourth one where I have had to open some sort of help ticket. I have an email in to support so hopefully they'll find my other 25 or so miles somewhere along the line.

I am listed under Jogging Jawa on DailyMile so feel free to find me there!

September Blog Challenge Day 25 What is something that you do well?

This one actually got me thinking for a bit. I am a collector of hobbies and tend to get to a pretty decent point at most things I do so there's a number of things I could mention. I think I will take a wider view however and say that something that I do well is focus.

When I set my sights on something it pretty much happens.  
I research it, I practice it, I do it, it gets done. 
End of story.

The problem is that I don't seem to get to choose what it is that catches my attention. As much as I would like to turn my Eye Of Sauron-like focus to things like making more money, going back to school, or having amazing yogini shoulders; more often than not I get caught up in the minutia of 16th century embroidery or finding the best tools for foam decorator pumpkin carving.

I am REALLY happy that my current focus is running and that I am doing so well with it, but I must admit I am somewhat fearful of what happens when the bubble bursts. I hope that it is established as enough of a habit that is is simply a regular part of my life when the next shiny thing comes along.

On a bizarrely related note: I knew that a healthier fitter lifestyle would change my life for the better and give me the ability to do things stronger, faster, and better overall, but I did not expect that to extend to my liquid chugging abilities.

I'm not the biggest fan of water or drinking liquids in general.  It will take me HOURS to down one cup of coffee, and I LIKE coffee. In order to actually get water into me in something resembling a reasonable time frame I have started downing it in one shot like cough medication. 

Usually my limit is 8 oz at a time but I appear to have leveled up recently. I got up super late Sunday and had a lazy breakfast (to put it lightly) so to make sure I was set up to run later in the day I ended up chugging all of the water I would normally have had over the course of the morning. Below is my 24 oz water bottle with 8 oz and time markings.

Where the "magic" happens
I drank all of the missing water in one shot! I'm not sure what my new-found abilities will bring, but I like to think it's a result of my body getting better at using oxygen so I can hold my breath for longer. 

Seems legit, right?

My run today: entirely self directed!
3.13 miles at an average of 11:43 per mile
Today was my fastest 5k at 35:27

I did not count warm up and cool down in my stats at all (about a mile between the two) and hit my goal of running straight through for a full 5k for the first time! A slight side stitch throughout made breathing a bit hard and my second mile was mentally the hardest but I'm not sure why. This was about five minutes more running than I have done in one stretch before so I expect to feel this tomorrow.

Once again I thank whatever is responsible for my continuing ankle strength as by all rights I should have twisted my left ankle rather badly on a large flat rock about 1.5 miles in.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Candy and coconuts

Woohoo, The Cheerleader started a blog!

Anyone who is reading me should immediately go check out Running on Candy......Fueled by Sugar, Rainbows and Glitter. I do not think it will take long to see why spending time around this woman has been such an inspiration to me (and so many other people we know).


September Blog Challenge Day 24 Have you ever fallen for a fitness “gimmick”?

I was going to say "no" because I research the living daylights out of my hobbies and dont tend to have a lot of money to throw at completely random unproven crap. But then I was also going to post about my first experiment with coconut oil as a food instead of a beauty product, so... maybe? 

image via

Coconut oil has gotten a really bad reputation based on the amount of saturated fat it contains, and to be sure the descriptions of the chemical laden processing methods for regular grades of the oil give me the screaming heebie-jeebies. But as we're starting to find out from more and more sources, the fat vs health story is not so cut and dry as we once thought, and source can play a big part in the relative healthfulness and safety of a food.

Once a Villain, Coconut Oil Charms the Health Food World

Is Coconut a Superfood? 
Abstracts from Peer Reviewed Literature on Coconut Oil (website's words, not mine)

No completely clear cut answers yet, but I have found that every time I go back to basics and ditch the over-processed products offered as the norm in our society I end up happier and healthier for it. I'm a butter over margarine, soap over sanitizer, yogurt over belly meds kinda gal, and I notice that in the long run the science always seems to prove me right.

Coconut oil has long been a staple of my external beauty routine, perhaps it has a place internally as well? I for one am up for giving it a shot. So that being said, on to the important part - dinner. 

I decided to have a pair of artichokes tonight (today being Meatless Monday and all) where typically I will have just one. My usual accompaniment is melted butter, but for the last few years I've been (admittedly lazily) experimenting to find a way to cut down on the amount of butter without cutting down on  nommability (that's a technical term) and usually I default to a bit of olive oil with some salt added. This NEVER does the trick though and I always feel subtly gypped. It tastes off, and bland, and somehow even greasier than plain butter.

Today I happened to catch sight of a jar of coconut oil in my pantry as I was looking for bay leaves and I thought perhaps I'd try that instead of the olive oil. The result was PURE DELICIOUSNESS.  The butter coconut combination reminded me of coconut shrimp (a favorite) and the hint of sweetness added a great counterpoint to the artichoke. 

I'm kicking myself for taking so long to crack open that jar. I don't know if I want to eat it by the spoon-full as suggested in some places, but I do plan to use it in a LOT more foods. 
I'm not about to stop getting my cholesterol tested though.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Couch to 5K? CHECK!
My run today: C25K week 9 day 3  - LAST ONE - BOO YA I MADE IT!!!!
3.43 miles at 11:39 per mile.

Per Nike today was (again) my fastest 5k so far at 36:00 (including about 5 minutes of walk time during warmup) and my fastest 1K so far at 6'40"

I managed to get the Garmin working how I wanted this time and only recorded the time that I was actually running.

My actual run was 2.71 miles in 30:06 minutes with an average pace of 11:06, a best pace of 5:38, and an average HR of 184 bpm

I was going to get myself this Bondi Band in celebration, but my boyfriend is getting it for me instead. We consider our mutual love of Batman to be the catalyst of our relationship, so what more fitting reward?

Na na na na na na na na HEADBAND!
Cheaper than a dinner out and way more helpful in the long run.

I was mildly disappointed  in the Couch to 5K app for ending with pretty much no fanfare whatsoever. They can take the time to add in the "Halfway done"s "Almost there"s and "Just keep going!"s but they can't add in a final "You did it!"???

I know finishing the C25K program "should" be reward enough, but I was really hoping for some flying Kremlin type action.

Why yes, I do REALLY like Tetris.

My next run will be an attempt to actually RUN for a full 5K.
We'll see how that goes!

Signed up for the Great Pumpkin Race Virtual 5k/10k run which benefits the The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team In Training via RunningInSanity. That will be on or about October 13th. I appear to have missed out on the option to get the orange and white polka dot Bondi Band along with my medal but hopefully she'll get some more.

September Blogging Challenge Day 23 - How many hours do you sleep at night?

Ugh. Even reading this question is depressing. I REALLY do not do well with less then 7 or 8 hours a night, yet I am an extremely nocturnal person with an 8 to 4 job.

It is a continuing problem.

I can be pretty functional on six hours a night, not happy but functional; five hours is my dead minimum. Anything less means I end up so tired I have to slap myself every couple of minutes in the car in order to get to work alive, and spent the majority of the morning wanting to vomit all over my desk. If I try to balance things out with coffee you can add a healthy splash generalized anxiety in to that mix.

(Photo: Jupiterimages)
Given that my alarm is set for seven am on weekdays that means functional Jawa bedtime is officially one am. What I find is that I naturally want to hit the sack approximately 1:30 to 2:30 in the morning (later if I'm in the middle of a project); so keeping my own hours is a no-no.

Luckily(?) I'm usually sleep-depped enough that when I go down I go down HARD, so insomnia is NOT an issue.

I do however do my best to make things up on the weekend and will do whatever I can to get a minimum of eight hours of sleep, but as I am still nocturnal that often means my day doesn't even start until well after noon.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

September Blog Challenge Day 22 - For that three hour fitness tour

What would you put in your fitness survival kit?

Water - because, duh, water.

Sneakers - running is the thing I'm most excited about doing at the moment

Music - a means of portable music has been my most reliable source of sanity for my entire life.

Yoga mat - it's the easiest way for me to stretch out and it's probably the thing that has been most balancing for my body. I always go back to yoga.

Coconuts - I dunno, they seem pretty handy on Gilligan's Island.

If you were stuck on an island how would you equip the coconut gym?

 What active/fitness related things did I do today?

Sad to say not a damn thing. I woke up very tight overall with an especially tight muscle wrapping from my lower back over and around my hip and had a lot of plans for the day, so I opted to do the last C25K run on Sunday.

Instead I saw some good friends, ate an egregious amount of blue cheese in the company of other good friends, and watched a horror movie.

Friday, September 21, 2012

It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion...

September Blog Challenge Day 21 - Are you a coffee drinker?

Just reading the question makes me want coffee.

I like my coffee like I like my men... roasted and ground fresh daily in small batches???

It's funny; though I think of myself as a heavy coffee drinker - I only drink one small cup a day. I just can't tolerate the caffeine anymore. Apparently there's only so much caffeine buzz one body can take in one lifetime and I pretty much blew my limit before twenty five. I am no longer able to handle the epic coffee drinking I did in high school and college when I drank POTS of coffee every day (if it was too hot for coffee I opted for Mountain Dew).
Coffee Buzz by Terry Border

There was a point in time around my mid 20s that I sort of accidentally quit caffeine; I was depressed and unemployed and I wasn't TRYING to quit caffeine, but, well...

Admittedly not terribly funny when it's ACTUALLY your life
Between minimal caffeine intake for a few months and some heavy anxiety problems I became extremely sensitive to it and unless I had a way to burn it off quickly I could pretty much guarantee a panic attack from anything over 6 oz of coffee. Once I got a job again I could not bear the idea of a working life without coffee. I've weaned myself back on to it slowly over several years, but I still have to be extremely careful not to overdo it.

I was actually up to two cups a day for a while but often didn't finish the second and certainly didn't need the caffeine, so I've recently cut back down to one.

Oh, small note: happy over 500 page views! Woohoo!

What active/fitness related things did I do today?

Nothing yet, but the plan for this evening is to bring the Boyfriend and the Former Housemate to Super Runner's Shop in Huntington to get their gaits looked at and to start looking into a bad weather/trail shoe for me. Then onward to dinner at a Mexican place, maybe some Fro-Yo, and probably ending the night with some live music.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wherein I am thinking about Jason Statham the whole time

Per this page as a 33 year old woman my *max* heart rate should be 177
or 206 minus 29 (which is 88% of 33)

According to my Garmin my *average HR while running today* was 188 (my max was 194). I appear to be knocking it out of the park!!! ...but alas, overclocking is NOT the aim here.

If I am going for 80% of my max HR since the article later posits that "between 70 percent and 90 percent of its maximum is generally accepted as being optimal for improving and maintaining cardiovascular fitness" I should be aiming for a HR of about 140. I suddenly get why SUAR complains about how slow she has to go to stay in target HR. I assumed that because I'm such a beginner I couldn't possibly be going "too fast" for anything but apparently I was wrong!

Sitting at my computer about 20 min after working out my phone had my HR listed at 97. Apparently I'm still in warm up range EVEN AS I BLOG. How efficient of me!

What was that about target heart rate zones again?
Jason Statham - Crank
September Blog Challenge Day 20 List your 5 new-to-you healthy food options

  1. Water - hey don't laugh, I've always hated water but I now drink it almost exclusively (my only other regular drink is one daily cup of coffee). I still drink it more like taking medicine then quenching thirst, but whatever, it's working.

  2.  Quinoa - I grew up eating a lot of pasta, so having something healthy I can just dump something on top of and call a meal is a REALLY big help for me. Also it's tasty, fun to pick out of my teeth, and reminds me of bug eggs, which is all AOK by me

  3. Homemade Greek yogurt - I've been lazy about this the last few weeks but I try to make regular batches and have a few oz with a bit of jam and/or some trail mix stirred in every day. I'm not a big cook so the fact that I take the time to make and strain this is a testament to how good it is. It is a completely different creature than store bought (soooo much better, but be careful because you wont be able to go back) and it really helps me with the lactose intolerance, which is one of the banes of my existence.

  4. I feel like I'm starting to reach here, but Clif bars have been a helpful recent addition to my diet. They're still a bit sweeter than I'd like but it's a useful enough way to get something reasonable into your system quickly.

  5. Blueberries - My boyfriend (who is, not incidentally, shaven headed, Anglo, muscley, and square jawed... I might have a bit of a type) is SUPER into blueberries and I was never big into them before but they are growing on me (not literally, that'd be awfully Willy Wonka-esque). He does a simple blueberry and soymilk shake every morning and I have to admit it's not a half bad way to start the day
My run today: C25K week 9 day 2 (only one more day!!!!)
3.51 miles at 11:24 per mile.

Per Nike today was my fastest 5k so far at 36:20 and my fastest mile so far at 10:47

Pushed myself a bit more today, I was really feeling it in my glutes in a good way and my head was buzzing for a while after I got back. I kept finding myself saying "you don't feel any worse then you did 10 minutes ago, you're fine, keep going" and for whatever reason that worked.

I messed up with the GPS so I only got 1.5 miles recorded but for that portion my average pace was listed as 11:03. Initially I messed up getting it started and later trees were interfering and making it beep constantly. I have to remember that just because it's showing data doesn't mean it's recording it. The signal loss beeping was pretty annoying so I will be turning off the auto pause and just manually starting the run on the watch when I actually start to run.

Have some more gratuitous Jason Statham. Sexypants AND a former world class diver!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It's the most wonderful time, of the year...

Day 19 What is your favourite fall workout?

Hmmmmm, favorite fall workouts, lets see...

Pumpkin picking! Or maybe jumping in leaf piles! Marathon carving sessions!

Seriously, this took about four hours straight. Loved every second of it.
I have more in my pumpkin carving toolbox than most (non homeowners) my age have in their whole home toolbox. Yes, I said pumpkin carving toolbox.

What was that, I should focus on stuff that gets my heart rate up?

Oh, in that case it would definitely be the horror movie marathons and shopping for Halloween decorations. Last minute costume crafting counts too, I think.

Ok, for real though.

I don't honestly know. I'm just too new at this.

Running is the first real "get out and do stuff" physical activity I've done since my teens. I will say as much as I love sort of existing serenely in the hot weather, 90° at 95% humidity in metropolitan NY air quality is not ideal for aerobic exercise. The cooler temps and rustling in the trees are making my runs approximately a bazillion times better, and aside from worrying about hidden tripping hazards I'm REALLY psyched to be running through the falling leaves soon.

What active/fitness things did I do today?

Nothing workout-ish, mostly I stuffed myself with random snacks for no apparent reason (though it may be hormonal). I'm not normally into sweets and I've gone for chocolate twice today so something in my system is clearly tweaked.

I did get some totally snazzy stuff from The Cheerleader including the heart rate strap that goes with my new watch, a visor (because she had an extra one and knew I wanted one for rainy days, seriously, how cool is that?), and a shirt from the local running group she has been organizing. 

I don't call her The Cheerleader for nothing.
The woman is a running ambassadorship and enabling juggernaut! (and now you can follow her at RunningOnCandy!)

She and I also share the brain of a twelve year old boy (I keep my half in the work fridge).
We have a sort of immature crudeness based telepathy.

I've decided to go ahead with limiting the Garmin readings to just when I'm running, but I've been a bit stymied trying to figure out what my cutoff pace should be. After digging through a LOT of Nike+ entries I think I'm going to go with 14:00 as I seem to be keeping things up around 12:00 or 12:30 while running with the occasional dip or peak, and I seem to walk slower than 14:00.

I'm also trying to decide if I want to set a minimum pace alarm but that should probably wait until I have a few runs recorded without my warmup/cooldown time throwing the numbers off so I have a better idea of my actual pace.

Tomorrow I start with the heart rate strap!

Did I mention I'm a hummingbird? Per one of the iPhone finger sensor apps I was playing with a few weeks ago I appear to have a resting heart rate comparable to a chihuahua on amphetamines.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Garmin is go!

Celebrated my LAST WEEK OF C25K (holy crap!) by trying out my New(used) Garmin Forerunner 305 for the first time today and it was pretty snazzy! I bought it off of The Cheerleader after she decided to upgrade so I don't have the heart rate strap in hand yet (it's hiding), but I think I have more than enough stuff to look at for the moment anyway.

I spent about half of last night trying to get used to picking through the menus and confusing myself about all sorts of things, until finally I was so out of sorts I just stopped altogether and loaded up this highly soothing picture of a baby spotted skunk to reset the switches on my brainmeats.

Ridiculously soothing image shamelessly yoinked from Cute Overload

Having restored my brain to functionality (yes, for real, beats taking a cigarette break) I was able to sit down, read through the manual, and actually learn things sufficient to finish setup instead of just button clicking myself into a confused tizzy. I literally spent the entire evening poking at it in some way or another last night and I still barely feel like I have the slightest handle on what I can do with it. It was definitely overwhelming at first, but once I calmed down I could see that as a sign that I will be able to grow into this thing for a long time to come.

I was very surprised at how quickly I got used to wearing it, and I didn't pay much attention to it at all as I was running. Though it may help that I very commonly wear large bracelets on my left wrist (wearing them on the right interferes with computer use too much). It may also help that we were amping up to tornado conditions and watching for flying tree limbs and kicked up road debris was a more immediate issue.

I looked at my pace a couple of times and noted the degree of synchronicity between the audible mile markers given by Nike and those given by the watch (not dead on, but close). It did also occur to me that I now had an even BIGGER chunk of change strapped to my left arm and it may be worth obscuring some of that if I can. I might have looked at the watch more toward the end of the run but my phone decided to keep pausing my music and turning on voice control for no apparent reason (I think because I had baggied it in my armband to protect from rain). It's has however been awfully cool poking at the various graphs and metrics now that I'm back home. I feel a little lost in this glut of info, but I can tell I'm going to have a lot of fun with it in the long run.

The main setting I'm trying to decide on at the moment is whether I want to set it to ignore any time spent moving slower than a certain pace so that my warm up and cool down time isn't affecting my overall pace. One the one hand since my goal as of next week is to start running for the entire 5K and see what kind of time I can do it in that will be handy, but by the same token they don't pause the race when you take a walk break on race days. I will have the phone for backup though.

I will say that I feel Garmin (and MapMyRun now that I'm mentioning it) have made a SERIOUS oversight in how they share info on their social sites. I do not mind at all sharing the nitty-gritty details of Who What When Why and How, but people really do NOT need to know about the Where. Both Nike+ and Active have the ability to turn on or off sharing options for maps and I feel this is an essential safety feature. I plan to contact both sites about this issue.

Do you run with technological assistance?

What are your favorite and least favorite features?

Would you set a minimum speed for readings if you had the option?

How do you feel about the location sharing issue?

September Blog Challenge Day 18 Does Nike’s ‘Greatness’ ad exploit fat people?

I feel that pretty much all advertising is based on manipulation and exploitation in some way or another, advertising exploits people. Full stop. I don't think that this manipulates fat people any more than typical Nike ads exploit fit people (as products or consumers).

They're using an actor with a specific look to sell a product, just like any other advertisement, but it is an unusual take given our culture's obsession with appearance. I do applaud their willingness to take a chance on a different look and a different method, and to use a more broadly uplifting narrative rather than a generally unattainable one, but in the end never forget they're still still hawking a product.

That being said, whether it's exploitative or not (it is) I do feel that the message that it is sending about determination and will is still both positive and more generally accessible and that is worth keeping out there.

My run today: C25K week 9 day 1 (holy crap again!)
3.13 miles at 12:47 per mile. (full workout per Garmin 3.48 miles at 13:16 per mile - I planned a longer route and walked the remaining 0.35 miles)

Added bonus info (since I feel I can trust the Garmin more than the phone) -
Top pace 7:03 !!!
Average pace of the splits where I was actually running 12:26

A bit harder to keep pace today but I'm finding my breathing is getting MUCH easier. My phone kept spazzing toward the end of the run and pausing my music to turn on voice control (I think it was due to being in a ziplock baggie IN my armband) so I was pretty distracted. New water bottle worked very well on most counts but I may have to drill an air valve in it as I get VERY little water in each pull.

I didn't have enough to go all out at the end (I lie, I had it but I didn't commit it), but I did commit enough to pick my speed up considerably for the last minute and a half and finish at a strong pace.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Just another Meatless Monday

I am a part time vegetarian - one seventh of the time.

Mondays to be precise.

I'm not morally opposed to eating meat, but I am opposed to wasteful killing and the conditions in which the animals are kept in the process, and am also trying to get a better handle on exactly what it is I am eating.

When I was in grad school I became very sensitive to nightshade plants and soy due to my high stress levels and after a confusing several months I finally figured out that I could expect to either read labels, or treat hives.

There are so many additives and so much processing between raw materials and plate that being an educated eater can be pretty eye opening. If you've never paid specific attention you would not believe how much soy there is in pre-packaged food, but there was a point in my early 20s that I could tell you within 10-20 minutes of eating it whether a food contained soy or soy byproducts (soy lecithin was the worst) so I got a very personal sort of education on the subject.

At the time I was just way too stressed to deal with much beyond "will this make me itchy". Those sensitivities went away as I got older (they only show up on occasions when I am immensely stressed), but watching for problematic ingredients is still second nature.

In February 2010 I saw the video below, a TED talk entitled "Why I'm a Weekday Vegetarian" (title links to the original site posting, but I could not get that to embed directly).

From the TED site:
We all know the arguments that being vegetarian is better for the environment and for the animals -- but in a carnivorous culture, it can be hard to make the change. Graham Hill has a powerful, pragmatic suggestion: Be a weekday veg.
Weekdays is a bit of a stretch for me, but the general idea of "every little bit helps" is still sound and so I decided on Mondays. I don't think I would ever transition to full vegetarian (especially now that I'm dating a weight lifting protein-avore), shrimp, pork, steak, and my mom's turkey are just too awesome, but I do think this has given me a much better appreciation for what it is I'm eating. It's hard to balance things financially but I would like to start moving toward more ethically sourced foods.

In truth I probably don't eat meat more than three or four days a week on average anyway (hooray for cheese!) and many people just seem to assume I am a full time vegetarian.  I did have had the occasional botch in the beginning (mostly long weekends where I just plain forgot what day it was until halfway through breakfast, also Rice Krispy Treats), however other than one family birthday dinner where I wasn't about to make extra work for my Mom I haven't willfully cheated once. Sure I could swap out for another weekday in a pinch, but if it were easy all the time I think I'd be missing the point.

If things are giving up their lives so that I can get nourishment it's worth it for me to be mindful of that.

I am a lot more aware of just how many things I eat which I just took for granted actually have animal protein in them. Soups are a big one for me. Restaurants, parties, and the like can be a bit challenging, but it's forced me to try things I never would have bothered with otherwise. I will say it is much easier getting a straight answer as to whether something contains animal than whether something contains soy. It helped that one of my dearest friends (and housemate for most of the last two and a half years) is a vegetarian who happens to be an amazing cook. I don't have her mad kitchen skills (or much of any kitchen skill, truth be told) but it helps to know what can be done outside of salads and soy protein.

I will however say I might well have starved to death if I was still sensitive to peanuts.

September Blogging Challenge Day 17 - Your most embarrassing fitness story

Thankfully I don't have anything too terrible lurking in my fitness past. The only thing I can really think of was a yoga class in college where I ripped a finger nail off spectacularly in mid forward fold.

We were doing a very active fold which involved swinging forward from the waist and sweeping our finger tips along the floor. I kept my nails very long at the time so when I swept my hands I managed to hit the pinky nail JUST right to rip it off about halfway down the nail bed. My entire body spasmed from the pain and as I was mid-forward sweep my hamstrings took the brunt of it.

I think I might have actually fallen over from the pain but the details are thankfully hazy now.

The copious dripping blood took most of the mystery out of the incident for the rest of the class but it was still a bit mortifying. Not to mention that this was the Friday of a weekend long Sci Fi convention on campus and I had volunteered to do a job which involved walking a constant circuit of the convention activities for the entire weekend.  Totally an awesome time when you can barely walk for days!

Fun note: I ended up working my way up through the ranks of that convention eventually to run it years later, and that job was one of the first things I axed of when I got senior enough.

What active/fitness related things did I do today?

Nothing active as of yet, but I DID buy a used Garmin Forerunner 305 with heart rate strap from The Cheerleader so I suspect most of the rest of my evening is going to be taken up poking at that.

That's TOTALLY fitness related!

Do you have any self imposed dietary limit? Why did you choose to do this?

Have a good fitness botch story to share?

Do you have any devices you use to monitor your fitness?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Water bottle problem solved... with one teensy drawback

The green bottle on left is the one I took with me the last several runs. It has an approximately 22 oz capacity, a flip top lid, and a freezable insert thingy (not shown) for keeping your water cold. It also has a clip which I have attached to a silicone cause bracelet (Go Army, in this case) so that I can drop and recover the bottle easily whenever I need my hand free. 

It's lovely as a general water bottle, but for running? Frankly, it sucks.
  • The size is too large for my hand so I get hand cramps 
  • it's overly heavy when filled but overly sloshy when not
  • I don't like cold water so the chill pack thingy is a waste(admittedly nice for days at the beach and the like though)
  • the hole is too small so I feel like I never get enough water out for the amount of time I'm holding my breath to drink
  • I have to tilt my head back to drink so I lose sight of the road and always get water on/up my nose  
  • the lid is going to take one of my teeth out. 
And this is the least awkward of my water bottles!

Now witness the power of this fully armed and operational water bottle

And so I perused the sporting goods during a trip to Target (ostensibly to check out the Halloween stuff) and found the most perfect bottle EVAR... except for one little detail. 
  • It's a reasonable 12 oz capacity so it wont be too heavy
  • a nice narrow bottleneck so I should be able to hold it comfortably
  • an old school Lunch Box Thermos style pop up straw so I can drink from it naturally with my head forward
  • a sturdy loop I can attach a lariat to for quick hands free recovery
  •  a chic, classy, 360° silk screened Disney/Pixar Cars logo (I hated that movie). *sigh*
That's what I get for having wee tiny child hands I suppose.

The good news is that the Go Army cause bracelet fits around it perfectly... so looks like it's time to start collecting cause bracelets for a ghetto hack silicone bottle cozy!

September Blog Challenge Day 16: How do you measure your fitness progress?

First and most direct; I measure my distance and time via both the C25K and Nike+ apps on my phone and try to keep in mind the relative effort I am putting into each workout. Compared to when I started I am doing pretty much twice the distance at one and a half times the speed with less effort.

Second: I see the way my clothes fit. In five months I have gone from nearly needing a new wardrobe to digging stuff out of the back of my closet that I probably should have gotten rid of years ago.

Third: I do things that would have been exhausting six months ago and they are simply a good effort. Spending days moving house, walking around a museum for a day, dancing to every song until last call.

Fourth (and probably most abstract) I look at my forearms and wrists: when I am fit I have delicate (but not scrawny) forearms with fine boned wrists and a pleasant level of musculature. Despite my small size I feel that my arms look willowy and refined. When I am starting to add too many pounds my forearms become soft and featureless, my wrists become a dimple on the way to my hand.

I get it when my body adds weight to my midsection, that's where people naturally gain weight; but when fat starts distributing to spots like my wrists and the backs of my knees I know that I have simply exceeded capacity. As the finer structures in my body re-emerge I feel like I'm literally emerging from some sort of shell or cocoon.

My run today: C25K week 8 day 3
3.26 miles at 11:38 per mile (full workout per Nike+ 3.67 miles at 13:00 per mile - I planned a longer route and walked the remaining 0.41 miles)

New route beat the pants off of the old one, beautiful houses, wide roads, fewer crazy intersections, there was even a horse pasture! No horses out, but there was also a LARGE dropping on the road nearby, so either the horse farm is active or someone in the neighborhood has a pet bear.

My pacing is getting WAY better and I dropped into my stride very early. I still feel like a bellows from breathing so deeply but that is starting to feel a little more natural too. I almost started running again to finish out my route when the C25K workout ended but I figure there is plenty of time for that sort of thing later.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

September Blog Challenge Day 15 (veggies) and a loving plea

What are your 5 favourite vegetables?

I quizzed a few people and we agreed that garlic probably shouldn't count as it's mostly used as an herb, and avocados are fruit even if they kind of feel more like a veggie. I still feel they need an honorable mention because man oh man can I down an astounding amount of either one.

I do love me some vegetables and generally prefer them raw or steamed.

I'd say top of the list are probably:
Artichokes - steamed with butter
Asparagus - baked with salt, oil, and shaved Parmesan
Snap peas - raw, they really were way better when I was a kid though
Carrots - raw - my parents used to joke I was going to turn orange if I didn't back off of the carrots
Spinach - my fave is how my Mom used to make it, cooked in beef broth with a large amount of sharp provolone cheese melted over the top at the end. Really though, I don't think I've met a spinach preparation I didn't like

One of my fave meals (apart from a block of cheese and some crackers) is a steamed artichoke with melted butter for dipping the leaves. People think artichokes are a pain to cook but they don't have to be.

Cut off the top of a large firm (washed) choke and a bit (or all in my case) of the stem, invert on a steamer basket over water with some added salt,  a bay leaf, a squirt of lemon and a small handful of pepper corns.

Steam on medium-ish until a knife will slide easily into the base (about 20 min), allow to cool, proceed to om nom nom. I will sometimes use olive oil to extend the butter a bit so I use a bit less, but I like to add a bit of salt if I do that.

Pic from this page, mainly because I really want to try it with that lemon-butter.

What active things did I do today?

I was hoping to do my final run of the week today but life intervened so that will be tomorrow.

Today I joined friends in honoring the memory of a wonderful woman. Every life is fragile, but some people just leave a big damn hole in the world when they go.

There are many bricks that build the path to a longer healthier life, an active lifestyle is only one aspect.

Please, pay attention to your body, check yourself for changes, and get checked.