Monday, October 24, 2011

It'll Be Just Like Starting Over

A horrible thing has happened last Saturday. I found myself waking up at close to my regular Work Day alarm clock time.

I'm not a morning person, so realizing I can't get back to sleep at 4:30 AM is disconcerting. Since I have a 6-hour commitment to the personal trainer cert class on Saturdays, I had no time to nap in the afternoon which is my usual schedule.

Remembering my commitment to my virtual running buddy, Ben from Becoming Timberman, I decided to get in a run.

At 6 AM I checked in at and found out that it was 47 degrees. Looking outside, I noticed that it was still pitch dark out there - not even a glimmer of a sun-brightening horizon to be seen. Yes,, I believe you when you say it's cloudy, but it's also DARK. It was an easy decision to hit the treadmill instead of the road.

I opened my workout spreadsheet (yes, old habits die hard and I still plot out everything on a spreadsheet) and checked my runs since I got back from Texas in September... ummm... there were *cough* three multiple entries. All *cough* three*cough* runs were on the treadmill for 47 minutes to fit in a 5K. The last entry was October 1st. Okay, maybe 3 weeks off is stretching that recovery theory. All were at 4.1 MPH, which is mostly a brisk walk and let's keep it at a level 1% grade... did you know that 0 - .5% grade is actually slightly downhill? I read it on the internet so it must be true.

I decided to start out where I,  started out, adding in a 5 minute warm-up and stretch in the front. I noticed that at 4.1 MPH, I can sort of jog so I started doing a jogging pyramid. I would jog for 10 seconds and rest for the remainder of the minute, next minute, 15 seconds and rest, 20 and rest and so on until I reached 35 seconds. Then I went back to 30, 25, until I got back to 10 seconds. Since I haven't been doing any running, this seemed like an easy way to get in that aerobic base mileage and it also made the time go by faster.

Mixed Bag
I wish I could say that I did the pyramid four times and was done but alas, at about 25 minutes in, I felt a serious tightness in my Achilles tendon. This is nothing new but it always feels scary. Not wanting to bag the workout or my tendon, I started walking, dropped my speed down to 3.5 MPH and raised the grade to 4%. This lowered the impact on my leg and was just steep enough to get in a good stretch to loosen it while keeping my heart rate from going too low.

At 36 minutes in, I went back to 4.0 MPH at 1% and did one more jogging pyramid. Then I walked it out to the end, finishing the 5K in 48 minutes and averaged 73% of my maximum heart rate.

That was definitely not as fun as taking a nap.
Saturday, October 15, 2011

What I've Done and Where I've Been

What a month. Last week, just when I thought that I could start training again in earnest, I received a letter from the landlord/management agency that they were going to upgrade the electrical outlets in our apartment on Monday, the 11th.

Unlike most tenants, we have been here over 20 years. If you've ever lived somewhere longer than say, 5 years and had to move, you know how much stuff you can accumulate and that most of it revolves around some outlet. I realized that I would be moving and cleaning stuff all week and I was right. I started Thursday after work, picked up again after Noon spin class on Friday and went right through to Sunday night when I had to finally give it up, get a shower and go to bed. It was a beautiful weekend for riding my bike but the only time I saw the Great Outdoors was when I threw something out at the dumpster.

When I came home from work on Monday, nothing had been touched. I called my husband and he said, "look at the letter - I thought it said today."

I looked at the letter and said, "It says, 'Monday, October 11'. This is the 10th. Do you think we read 'Monday' and they read '11'?"

That was it.

I got home from work Tuesday around 10 AM and saw the electrical truck leaving. I walked in. They had been there and they weren't finished. In fact, they had done more than outlets, they had taken out ceiling light fixtures, bathroom fixtures, electric baseboard wiring, and closet lights.

Since we had only planned on wall outlets getting upgraded , this was a nightmare and a half. They had moved things away from the closets (where you hide stuff) and put them in the middle of the room. Every closet door, every window and the porch doors were wide open. There was nowhere to sit, nowhere to take a nap. My cockatiels were in one of the rooms and it was not warm out that day. They were freaked, to say the least.

Further, the electricians had moved a 4-foot tall plant away from the window to get to a heater and it had toppled over onto my bed. They didn't know where to put my bike that was in front of a closet door so they put it... on top of my couch. They put nothing underneath to protect the couch and they put it with the drive side leaning against the back of the couch. Two for one.

I. Was. Reeling.

I closed the window in the room where the birds were and stayed on the phone with my husband until the electricians returned. I wanted them to know that I had seen EVERYTHING. With a rep from the apartment complex standing by within earshot, I repeated everything I had just seen to my husband and told him I was shaking and needed sleep. Then I left without ever making eye contact or saying a word to them.

I managed to grab my gear for spin before I left but it was only 11 AM and spin was at 5:15 PM. I went to the local mini-mall and hung out at Best Buy, Sports Authority (they now carry the full line of Honey Stinger products) and PetCo where I spent 40 bucks on bird stuff (guilt is definitely an economy booster). I picked up a yogurt, coffee, and ProBar at the grocery store for lunch, ate in my Piece O'Crap car, and then headed back to the gym where I had one of those "DOH!" moments when I realized I could have had a high-in-sodium-and-saturated-fat lunch at the hotel's restaurant for free.

When I got home, for the most part, everything had been put back into place. The first thing I did after checking on my birds was to put my computer back together.

My apologies to those I follow for not being able to comment on your blogs. I've been reading them on my boss' computer but haven't been able to sign in to comment. I'd love to get a laptop but I really need to get a car first.

Later on today, I start the first of six 6-hour class sessions for my personal trainer certification. I'm hoping this will be finally be the catalyst that gets me moving in the right direction this winter because right now, this punk seems to be going nowhere real fast.
Thursday, October 6, 2011


Over the weekend, I started reading about Chia Seeds. They were popularized by the book, "Born to Run" which is, unfortunately, not about Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band but rather about the Tarahumara - a Native American tribe of people that live in the remote Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. They are noted for their ability to run 50 - 100 miles every day and (this is important) they enjoy it.


I haven't read the book so I have no idea why they'd all be a bunch of Dean Karnazes except perhaps there's really nothing else to do where they live. I went online to the Massachusetts public library website to place a hold on the next available copy.

At the moment, I'm more interested in homemade energy gels and bars so my attention was drawn to what the Tarahumara (they refer to themselves as the Raramuri) eat and drink. According to all of the superior and unbiased reporting on the internet (oh, I slipped into sarcasm there,) this is supposedly one of the key components of running without a sports store nearby to sell you packets of GU. One food/fuel source is Pinole which is a type of corn meal that is dry roasted. The modern version is mixed with honey and cinnamon and then either ate or drank, depending on your needs. Tesguino or "corn beer" is a high carbohydrate beer that is very low in alcohol content It's a big part of their culture during harvest season and also featured during Easter week. Another fuel mentioned is Iskiate which is a drink made with chia seeds.

These seeds, like everything else that every fad-diet promoter wants us to believe - are "THE" answer to all of our problems. They supposedly:
  • Are High in Fiber
  • Promote Hydration
  • Ounce for ounce, have more iron than spinach
  • Are SUPER high in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
  • Slow the absorption of carbs in the body, thereby extending our energy stores, enabling us to run/walk/cycle/swim/feel full longer.

Most websites that talk about Iskiate say something like this:

"Iskiate, or chia fresca, consists of chia seeds dissolved in water and seasoned with lime and a dash of sugar."

I found the seeds in the organic section of my local grocery store. Following the suggested recipe, I put a tablespoon of chia seeds into cold water, added some agave nectar, about two teaspoons of lime juice and, feeling daring, threw in a slice of candied ginger. I put the glass into the fridge to let the seeds dissolve while my husband and I discussed whether or not these seeds were the same ones they were selling at pets As Seen On TV (they are).

The seeds don't dissolve. They definitely germinated and that process formed a gel around the seeds, but there are still seeds... LOTS of seeds.

Okay, what did I miss?
"Chia seeds form a gel with water thus suspending the particles and making it a little less awkward to drink."

Okay, so they're not going to dissolve. That made me feel better but I still felt "awkward" about drinking it.

I also read that this recipe is a great energy drink in the morning. Ummm, sure it is. After all, it has sugar in it. Just about the time I decided that I can drink this concoction in the morning before I go to work, I read the following...

"Chia seeds contain hydrophilic colloid that helps for better digestion and the nutrients from the seeds are metabolized efficiently and quickly to the blood stream, resulting to immediate nourishment of the body...."

WARNING: Nearing Google Overload. Nearing Google Overload.

Is it just me, or did I just read, "better digestion..metabolized efficiently"? To me, with 1-ounce of chia containing 11 grams of dietary fiber,those types of phrases mean I should probably wait until I get home to drink this where I have access to a private bathroom and more toilet paper -just in case.

When I got home from work about 10:30 AM, I took the drink out of the fridge, stirred up the seeds, and downed it. The only flavors I tasted were the lime, ginger and the sweeteners. Even though the seeds are supposed to have a nutty flavor (yeah, imagine that,) there wasn't enough taste to the seeds for me to form an opinion but I'll admit that they did slide down rather efficiently. Then I sat on the couch, waiting to see if I had any adverse reactions to this super-bad ancient energy-boosting beverage, and while I was waiting, I fell asleep. So much for endurance testing.

Observation number one - There is no substitute for sleep.

My research continues.
Next Gen Endurance Athlete
Saturday, October 1, 2011

Met One Goal

Guess what? My Piece O'Crap car finally passed inspection! Yes, it took 2.5 months of fighting with our local National Tire and Battery to get the parking brake to work... and they never did, but the SpeeDee Oil Change (where I got the sticker) fixed NTB's mistakes in one day.

Conclusion, NTB can give you great tires, just stay away from them when it comes to brake work.

Even the mechanic at SpeeDee said not to put any more money into the car (which we've known all along) and figured I might get another year out of it if I "baby it." That said, I doubt the upcoming New England winter knows how to baby a car but at least the mechanic gave me referrals to two places where I can get cheap and reliable used cars if the same scenario of The Legend of the Money Pit Car tries to play itself out again before I can put together financing for a new one.

Now that I can drive around without worrying about being pulled over because of that blasted Rejection sticker, I am starting to get rolling on my training routine.

I added two spin classes to my week, giving me a total of three which will help keep my cardio amped as my on-road cycling mileage decreases with the seasonal changes. I can add in the pool sessions next week and I might actually be able to meet up with people for group rides although I was just noticing that the next two Sundays feature rides out of my car's "baby zone." At least I can still head on over to the Blackstone River Bikeway for some mid-week riding fun.

Of course, the one thing I can always count on here in New England is inconsistent weather patterns. Last night, the forecast for today was for an "occasional shower." What actually happened was an occasional let-up of some hard core downpours. So instead of getting in local hill repeats in-between rain droplets this morning, I opted for the comfort and safety of the treadmill at the clubhouse (put the emphasis on "safety" as that "comfort" thing only applies for the first 15 minutes I'm on the contraption, then I'm just as soaked as if I had worked outdoors).

How much fun can a Red Sox fan have in one week? Kind of ironic that they would "DNF" their season, too. Oh, well. At least no one will ever accuse me of being an over-paid prima donna.