Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I'm feeling like I've finally returned to baseline -- back to normal after medical issues, etc. I think for sure all of that is behind me, and I feel like I'm my normal self again. Hello, self!

So yesterday I went for my my first run (yeah, it took a week, but I'm always very slow to get back in the swing of running, and I know it'll be another 3 weeks or so before I start to actually look forward to and enjoy runs. Until then, I know it will be a struggle with procrastination and highly inflated suffering). It went well, I ran 3 miles on the Martis Creek road (which was pretty much bumper to bumper with dogs and their humans -- and literally lined with little plastic bags full of poop). I took one maybe 2 minute break in the middle (thanks for the autostop feature, Gary the Garmin), and finished in a wheezy mess. I have certainly lost some of my conditioning, but don't think it'll take too long to get it back. This is my beginning. Gary tells me:

Mile 1: 11:19 (aren't I the eager one?)
Mile 2: 13:00 (reality check)
Mile 3: 12:36 (back to the barn)

3 miles, 36.55, I can't complain.

This morning I posted my entry form for the Donner Lake Tri, so I guess I am committed. I have roped my friend Andrew into joining me in this endeavor, thus securing myself a training partner for the next few months. He also posted his entry today. To celebrate, perhaps, we went off to the pool for a swim. I really didn't pay any attention to how much I swam, probably the usual (for now) 1/2 mile. I did, however, time myself using the pool timer -- I don't know that I've every really paid attention before, even when I was swimming more frequently. In any case, my time for 100 yards, swimming at a moderate, easy pace (read: what I always do) was 2:20, measured twice. I have no idea where this falls on the spectrum though I suspect it's probably pretty slow.

I haven't really done much measured biking, so I don't know where I am with that discipline, but at least this gives me a starting point for the run and swim. It'll be interesting to me to look back on this in 3 months or so and see what improvements I have made, if any. I have yet to sort out a training plan, but will follow something relatively strict when I get back home after my trip. Until then, it's all about building up my endurance and strengthening my baseline.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Outside, finally

Spring is certainly making a (probably temporary) appearance here in Tahoe.  The past few days have been warm and sunny, with daytime temps in the 50s and only getting into the high 30s at night.  This wonderful weather boon means, of course, I . . . go shopping!  Spent a small fortune on retail therapy in Reno on Friday, though this is the first time in something like two years that I've bought any new clothes so I feel justified.  Also, the majority of my shopping was at Target, so it's not like I broke the bank.  I think my best purchase was these cycling shoes from REI . . . 

I had been using a pair of cheapo Pearl Izumis for years that I've hated (mostly because they were butt ugly and made my feet -- already large -- look HUGE, but also because they were a little loose fitting and hard to get off), and have lusted after SIDIs for equally as long, and Friday finally succumbed to the call . . . these shoes are awesome and definitely an improvement.

I tested them out yesterday, as Tom and I took advantage of the weather and went for "a little ride around town" with friends. This ride turned into a lovely 16-mile tour around parts of Truckee that I didn't even know existed, and culminated in a visit to the local Brewery (which I, in fact, did know existed). We tried to do a little fire road/single track exploration, but mostly met up with large patches of ice and snow hindering the way.

I forgot my camera yet again, but in the distance you can barely make out my friends pushing their bikes through the snow. Soon after, we turned around and headed for drier ground. We explored some parts of Martis Valley, and whilst winter is still hanging on, the scenery is beautiful.

I think there's all sorts of undiscovered running trails out there . . .

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Getting there

First: Physical Therapy.
My PT guy and I have pretty much definitely come to the conclusion that my knee pain is a result of hamstring tendonitis more than IT band friction, and have crafted an exercise recovery plan based on that.  I have bunches of exercises that I have been ok about doing, and today he added some more.  I have been going to PT for just over a week, and already feel some improvement (not that things were that bad to start with).  I have responded very well to PT the one time I went in the past (for tendonitis in my hand) and seem to be responding well this time.  Actually, I love it . . . some little bit of exercise, then massage and that ultrasound machine.  Yeah, I could be a PT whore, given the chance.  Too bad the PT prescription generally follows an injury; I would just like to randomly go for the attention.

Second: The Swim.
In the interest of being a good girl, I took it pretty easy at the pool today.   700 yards, in 100x increments with generous rest periods in between, no flip turns, no attention to time.  Maybe the whole thing took just over 1/2 hour.  I felt I could have gone longer (if not a whole lot faster).  I'm thinking of trying a Master's Stroke clinic, maybe when I get back from Mexico.  I do NOT think I am anywhere near joining the Master's class, but I have never had a swim lesson and think I could benefit greatly from a little critique.

Third: Life.
I work a very set schedule, and have worked the same weekend with the same people for years and years.  Much to my outrage, my weekend has been changed.  I threw plenty of temper tantrums and stomped my feet and dragged my heels when I first found this out last week, but have decided acceptance and moving on are what I need to focus on.  So I pretty much have.  One big result of this unwanted schedule change is my entire race plan of 2009 will have to be rethought and re-planned.  I was able to secure the weekend of my A race (the Donner Lake Triathlon) off, but all of the other races I have planned are now undoable.  Again, I pissed and moaned about this for longer than I would like to imagine, but really should look at it as an opportunity.  To that end, in the next few days I'll hit the internets and find whatever races fit into my new schedule, and will post that revised list as soon as I have it together.  

I just finished my first stretch of work since surgery, and got back home yesterday after 5 12-hour night shifts in a row.  I slept lots yesterday but am still super tired today, and think most of the day will be spent sleeping some more.  I do love to sleep, but am usually not so spent after the week of work.  I slept horribly while working, and am paying the price for the lack of sleep now, with no energy and Tom says I just look exhausted.  So, I feel good for having gotten some activity today, but am switching right back into lazy mode.

However, tomorrow, I RUN!  For the first time since early February!  I am ready!  Or, I will be, once I sleep another 12 hours . . . 

Back in the swing, soon

I haven't posted in forever (nor commented, for that matter) because I've been very busy with work, and really nothing much else has happened.  That's all about to change, though.  I saw my doctor on Monday and have been cleared to start getting on with my training.  Yaya!  He says I can start doing everything, but no lifting, and I must just take it easy with everything for the next two months and not overextend myself at all.  I can do this!  

I am off to PT for the knee this morning, and will be going for a re-introductory swim this afternoon.  Starting running tomorrow, and biking soon after.  I've got tons going on at work, planning my Mexico trip, and just have a million things to do.  I feel like I've gone from zero to one hundred in the past two days . . . at least potentially.  Lots of changes coming up, but I'm really just super psyched to have the okay to get active again.  Hopefully, readers, this will translate into more blog posts and just getting back to myself physically.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Setbacks and frustrations

It's getting warmer out, the snow is melting (until the next big dump, anyhow), it's light out until 7pm (and that's the most awesome thing this time of year) and I am beginning to get super frustrated. I had a very minor little surgical setback which means I am back to no activity (like the trainer or the swim) at least until next Monday when I see the surgeon again. This is just lousy lousy lousy. Granted, I wasn't doing a whole hell of a lot, but I was enjoying what I was doing and now, pffft. Nothing.

On a brighter note (sure), I have been having some light but constant left knee pain for a few months -- no real big deal, if I weren't a runner I would probably just shine it on. However, I know that in a few short weeks/months I will start training rather seriously for the Donner Lake Tri and other races, and wanted to get it checked out now rather than 6 months from now when it is really bad, so off to yet another doctor yesterday for an evaluation. Diagnosis? IT band friction. Now, I'm relatively happy about this, as it seems it's a common enough affliction and reasonably easily treated and managed and I guess it could have been a lot worse. The doc said both my knees are very stable and show no signs of ligament or tendon injuries, but I am quite specifically weak on my left leg and the ITB is the reason why. So, today I am off to . . . physical therapy! for 4 weeks! And I assume I'll learn how to dance with one of those roller tube thingies that everyone hates so much.

So I guess a few months from now I'll be all nice and solid and ready to rock my training, but right now I am sidelined, super frustrated, and feeling like an old lady watching those young 'uns running around.

Plus, now what the hell do I blog about?!? I didn't run yesterday, didn't swim today, won't bike tomorrow . . . how exciting! I guess I'll post my recipe for golumpkis and other regional delicacies until I can actually do something once again.

Friday, March 13, 2009

More swim, more bike . . .

I'm getting a bit of a rhythm going, finally. Yesterday I was back at the pool, swam 1000 yards in 100 x's. I mostly did breaststroke and a few with a kickboard. I couldn't help myself and did a few hundred yards freestyle, but very relaxed. I couldn't feel anything bad or different or anything telling me I shouldn't be doing that (except the voices in my head, you know who you are), so I felt ok with it. It felt really great to swim again, and I had forgotten how relaxing swimming is to me. I don't think I am pushing it too much to be swimming overhand, as long as I keep my effort and intensity minimal (that I can do!).

Today I was back on the trainer and whew! what a workout that can be! I had the bike in the lowest gear and the resistance set to low and it was still a big effort. I did half an hour at a slow, steady speed and that was enough for me. I got the cadence sensor all hoooked up and synced with the Garmin*, only to find out that about 60 rpm is about all I can manage at the moment. Even that got my heart rate up to 150. I am out of shape!

*I've named the Garmin "Gary" . . . the obvious reason being the happy alliteration. Mostly, though, it's earned that name because years ago I was stalked by a man named Gary and, like him, the Garmin knows everything I do -- happily, without the scary creepiness factor. (And Gary, if you're reading this (o please no!), just because you didn't actually break anything when you entered my locked apartment through the window while I was sleeping doesn't mean it's NOT "Breaking and Entering", motherfucker!) This footnote was inspired by Chic Runner, who also thinks this story is hilarious. I know, right? Time + Tragedy = Comedy, yet again!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Trainer try-out

I've expanded my activity list by 100%! Today I got my (so wonderfully awesome) road bike set up on my borrowed trainer up in the loft, and took it out for a spin. Initially I was like, Hell no this is way too hard, then Tom came along and said, Gee, it might be a little easier if you had it in a lower gear . . . yeah. It was quite a bit easier and, really, more than I had hoped for. I popped in the Spinervals with Iron Girl DVD and proceeded to spin along in the easiest gear at a snails pace for, oh, 15 minutes. I'm sticking with the Gently, gently train of thought, even though I really wanted to pound out those intervals I just pedaled along slowly. If all goes well, next time I'll bump it up to a half an hour.

I'm pretty impressed with the trainer. Even though I only rode for 15 minutes, and easy at that, my heart rate was up and I busted out a little sweat. I can see how you could really hammer on the thing. I can also see how you could get real bored real quick, but I guess that's what TV is for.

So I've got the little cadence thingy that goes with the Garmin Forerunner, and will get around to putting that on, along with a heart rate monitor, before my next ride. I know my cadence is lousy and I'm always pushing too slow in too high of a gear, and I'm hoping the cadence monitor will help with that. Plus, another gadget! Makes me happy!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gently, gently, gently . . .

I guess I am back in the swing! I made it to the pool and really enjoyed myself. I swam 800 yards, alternating 100 yards of breaststroke with 100 yards of kickboard, finishing in about 40 minutes. Super slow indeed! I really wanted to do more (like, um, actually swim!) and/or faster, but took it all really gently and slow, reminding myself that I do, indeed, want my temporarily-delicate insides to stay where they are supposed to.

I think it will be an interesting journey over the next few months to see how I do staying within my doctor's guidelines. Now, I have a lazy streak a mile and a half wide (maybe it's more like a lazy highway than just a streak), and part of me has, if not enjoyed, than tolerated rather well the last few weeks of imposed inactivity. It's NICE to have justification for sitting around watching reality TV at 2 in the afternoon. Having said that, I am starting to get itchy to DO SOMETHING! and I have a feeling this desire is going to get worse as time goes by and the weather gets warmer. I'm already wondering if 3 months of limitations really means 3 months, or just 2 months and change.

To that end, at the pool today I saw a flyer for a training program for the upcoming Donner Lake Triathlon. It looked really awesome, complete with track workouts, swim lessons, all kinds of biking classes, lots of clinics and group runs and rides and swims. 16 weeks for $300. My only concern (despite the medical ones) is that I will be in Mexico for most of April (trying to better my lousy spanish) and will thus miss the first 4 weeks. I don't know what kind of deal breaker that might be.

In any case, I dropped them an email outlining some of my concerns, and guess that I'll see what they have to say. It sounds really intriguing . . .

So, I'm glad to have at least gotten my feet wet at the pool today, and am looking forward to more slow, gentle workouts coming up soon. I think I'll get my bike set up on the trainer in the morning and give that a spin, too. Running is still a few weeks off.

A Lame Day

I made it to the pool yesterday . . . and picked up the schedule.  That's it.  Lame.  However, I will make it today as there is lap swim from noon till 2.  

On the other hand, I cooked like a fiend, went out and had a social time last night and hopefully made some new connections with people.  This is a good thing for me.

It was 6 degrees this morning.  I am glad that I have some legitimate excuses not to be running out in that brutal cold.  I am very very ready for spring.

This is a great representation of a boring post.  But at least I got something up there.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


So I know everyone was doing this last month but here I am, late to the party.  Steve at Steve in a Speedo?! Gross! was kind enough to throw a few questions my way and, hey!  I get a post out of it.  Bonus!

Interview Questions:

1.) What's your best and your worst race experience? Explain.
My best experience was probably my last race, the Death Valley Borax Half Marathon.  Why?  Well, I PR'd with the amazing(!) time of 2:25, a huge improvement over my previous half.  What really made it a great for me, tho, is that upon finishing, I really felt like I had done my absolute best.  I had RUN every step of the race and really *felt* like a RUNNER when I finished.  Plus, the setting was just mind-blowing and Death Valley is a place that I enjoyed immensely and can't wait to return to.  

I haven't actually had a "worst" race experience, I think mainly because I tend to look at races as something to have fun with and not something where I actually expect to compete with other people.  Racing seems to mostly be a motivator for me, a goal to train for.  Any race I can start and, sometime later down the road, finish, is a good experience for me. 

2.) What was the race that got you "hooked?" Explain.
My first race, which was a super-sprint tri.  I just totally dug the whole race scene, the event, the rituals of packet pick-up and putting the number bib on, etc. etc. etc.  I had never done any kind of race (outside of sailing) before this event, and as soon as I finished I was, like, "What can I do next?"  Hooked.

3.) What race or event are you most looking forward to this year? Why?
I am totally looking forward to the Donner Lake Triathlon.  Why?  Because it's in my home town (this is supposed to be an advantage, yes?), because I actually have a friend (whose ridiculously fast, but I'll forgive that) to train with, but mostly because this race represents the biggest challenge so far for me.  Not only is it at the untested Oly length, but it is NOT an easy race, with the bike leg having a huge amount of elevation gain and loss and the running leg being almost 7 miles.  And there's all that swimming, too, most of which is also uphill (or so it seems).

4.) Which animal would you love to be for a day? Why?
Hawk.  Flying.  Fast.  No question.  I once witnessed a hawk streak after a mouse or something, and the damn thing just folded its wings into itself and came out of the sky like a bullet and I swear it sounded just like a jet.  Amazing.

5.) If you had to pick a current game show to be on, which one would you pick? Why?
Is Who Wants to be a Millionaire still current?  I always thought I would rock on that show, because my mind is filled with useless facts that do me absolutely no good in life, but would give me a good shot at a million, I think.  Plus, I have lots of smart friends.

To play along:
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by giving you five questions. (I get to pick the questions.)
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Kitchen Adventures -- Brazilian Shrimp Stew

While thinking of things to post about, I decided to document some of my kitchen adventures.  I enjoy cooking quite a bit, and a few years ago went from not being much of a cook to being pretty successful with simple recipes.  Tom is always a willing test subject, and happily eats just about everything I cook.  I made this last night, and he said it was one of the best things I've ever made -- high praise indeed, especially for such an easy recipe!

I usually take a look at a recipe, see what ingredients are needed, and take most of the rest as a suggestion and cook it the way I feel. This particular recipe, on the other hand, was prepared almost exactly as directed, with a few exceptions.  

I was at Trader Joe's the other day and saw some frozen langostinos, which I had never heard of before.  Billed as an "inexpensive" alternative to lobster they can be substituted for lobster, shrimp or crab in any recipe without any real modifications.  I bought a bag, came home and did some internet searches, looking for just the right recipe.  I came up with this one at Epicurious.com and was off to the races . . . 

Brazilian Shrimp Stew

First, I assembled all of my ingredients.  In addition to the langostino substitution, I also used "lite" coconut milk in place of the hugely fat- and calorie-laden regular stuff, without any untoward effects.

Here's the langostinos in their lemon-garlic marinade.  They come from Trader Joe's precooked at $8.99 per pound (not exactly inexpensive . . . )  Right out of the bag, they taste like a cross between lobster and crab -- sweet, kinda buttery and with the texture of crab.  Tasty!

After I put up the marinade, I saute the onions and peppers, and here I puree the canned diced tomatoes.  I really like the extra flavor in the Hunt's Fire Roasted Tomatoes, and almost always use them when the recipe calls for the canned variety.

Here they are together with the chopped cilantro, cayenne and some salt.  After simmering for 15 minutes or so . . . 

. . . the sauce has thickened up quite nicely.

Then comes the addition of the coconut milk, which I would never have thought of myself.  After this, I add the langostinos and 4 more tablespoons (!!) of cilantro.  Here the recipe calls for dende (palm) oil, but I skipped that entirely.  Once the langostino is warmed through, we are DONE!

Served over white rice, this meal was truly delicious!  The flavor was amazing, and you could taste each individual ingredient in each bite, without everything getting muddle into "yeah, it's tomato sauce".  Lemon, garlic, tomato, cilantro, seafood.  Yum!

As far as the langostinos go, they were quite flavorful too.  I thought they were a little on the tough side, but Tom disagreed -- he loved them.  In the future, I'd like to try this with shrimp.  In any case, this was an excellent meal, delicious and super easy to prepare.  The recipe says it'll serve 6, but I think the yield is more like 3 -- and that's without leftovers.  Trust me, you'll want the leftovers.  Next time, I think I'll double it.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I am STILL alive!

Though you wouldn't be able to tell from my posting (or commenting) of late. Bad blogger! Not since February! Yikes. I have no real excuse, but do have some explanations. I had a bit of scheduled not-so-major not-so-minor surgery towards the end of last month and that effectively knocked me out of life for a while, and blog posting was really the last thing on my mind. I have been reading lots of stuff, but not inputting anything (sorry to my readers -- all both of you!). In any case, said surgery is really going to impact my training for the next 2 months or so when I can't really do too much, too fast, too hard. Usually not the best patient, I am determined to follow doctor's orders to the letter, and whilst I can soon start running, biking, swimming I can only go really, really easy. For 2 more months.

On monday I am going to start swimming. I haven't been in a pool for over a year, so it should be interesting. I am limited to only easy, slow breaststroke for the next 2 weeks, so won't be putting down my usual blistering pace just yet. I plan getting my trainer and bike set up in the loft for some very easy spinning next week too. I can't yet run at all, I think that'll be another few weeks yet. I don't know that any of this will actually do me any good (I gained about 5-7 pounds the day after I stopped running back in the beginning of February), but I figure at least it'll get me in the mode of working out again. Plus, I am starting to get a little antsy and haven't been sleeping all that well and a little irritable, and I think a lot of that can be traced back to lac of exercise.

So I'm back on the blogging map, readers! I've got that old interview from Steve to respond to (even though that interview thing is SO last week), and am slowly catching up on the over 600 (!!) posts sitting in my Google Reader. I know you've all been waiting on the edges of your seats, breathlessly hoping that I would post again . . . well, here I am (and hopefully I'll manage another post before, say, 2010).