Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cold Turkey

I am quitting coffee.  And alcohol.  For maybe a (very short) limited time.  So maybe I should say I am just detoxing?  We'll see.

Coffee has been my constant companion for years now.  I drank my first weak, milky cup when I was about eight years old.  I took a coffee maker with me when I left for college, and between classes I would feed quarters into a horrifying hospital-style "coffee" dispensing machine in the Arts and Sciences lounge.  I worked evenings in a university lab, and my co workers and I would keep a pot going.  I loved loading my drip coffee with powdered Cremora and spoons of white sugar.

When I moved to Arizona, it was the very beginning of the espresso drink craze, and I latched onto that trend like it was a religion.  My best friend worked at one of the trendy little "Latte Shack" drive-thrus, and I would sit in there with her and make myself off-menu coffee concoctions.  When I started grad school, I found myself a sweet barista job at a local independent coffee shop.

About halfway through grad school, I got burnt out on all the milk and sugar, and started French pressing myself massive cups of black stuff.  I took a vacuum flask to classes, latched to my bike with a bungee cord, so I could stay amped all day.

When work took me to end-of-the-road towns in the mountains of Utah or southern Montana or rough towns in Wyoming, I always packed an espresso machine to set up in the hotel bathroom.  I remember a seemingly endless winter project in Laramie, Wyoming that was tolerable only because -- as a college town -- Laramie had a 24-hour Starbucks where I could get my fix before work started at 5:00 am. 

When I started law school, I again wanted a mindless evening job to keep me latched to reality and earning some cash.  So I got another barista position, this time at a fancy (and insanely busy) Belgian coffee shop in SoHo.  I have no idea how many espressos I drank during a typical shift, but I'm willing to bet it was enough to permanently affect my health.

I have had entire relationships based around "getting coffee."  I met my husband in a coffee shop, for crying out loud.  In fact, I have all these amusing life memories that wouldn't have happened without coffee.  Like...I was backpacking alone in central Arizona one time, and I had packed a baggie of instant coffee premixed with sugar.  Some deer ate it while I was distracted, and I was so crushed I almost hiked back out and went home.  I had a huge fight one time when a man I was dating couldn't understand why I needed coffee and refused to keep it in his apartment.  I know these little experiences seem like charming anecdotes from my life, but they really start to take on the qualities of an addict's Rock Bottom, especially considering:

1) Coffee causes muscular tension, and can slow healing of soft tissue injuries.  Recent injury aside, I have a LOT of muscular tension in my body.  I'd like to something more about this than just foam rolling and distracting myself. 

2) It doesn't take a genius with a PubMed login to realize coffee disrupts sleep.  How much?  I'm willing to find out.  I have major sleep issues...so much so that I have lain awake at night calculating how many nights are left in my life (given an average life span, probably about 16,500 ugh).  So much so that even having a newborn was not a major shock, because I was already awake through the night.  I take a prescription for sleep, but I need to get this sorted.

3) Coffee dehydrates.  I already drink a freakish amount of water, like a gallon or more a day.  It was at its worst when I was running outdoors during an Alabama summer and breastfeeding my son.  I couldn't drink enough.  Even now, I feel dehydrated a lot of the time, especially after my morning coffee.  I find myself chugging extra water at night, which keeps me up, which...see Number 2.

4) As I was riding the Vomit Strugglebus this weekend, I couldn't even stomach the smell of coffee.  That right there gave me a two-day head start on this little project.  And if the mere thought of something can nauseate you, how great could it be to consume in quantity, huh?

5) Coffee is expensive.  Which, okay.  We make ours at home, and buy in bulk, but it still makes up a good portion of our weekly grocery budget.  It's not something I'm terribly concerned with, but who doesn't like to save money?

So, we'll see if this little coffee break helps me, or gives me new perspective.  In general, I only drink one or two cups each morning.  On rare occasions, I'll have another in the afternoon.  That doesn't really seem like a lot, given my history of overcaffeination.  But, I already have noticed withdrawal symptoms and other weirdness.  The first night trying to sleep, I felt like I was crawling out of my skin (Googled and this is common, WTH?).  The mornings have been a complete fog.  Day three was by far the worst.

So maybe I'm past the worst bit?  I plan to do this until Saturday morning, seven days, and then see how I'm feeling.  Alcohol too, because why not (although cutting out a nightly glass of wine probably won't do anything for anything except maybe dehydration).  I'll report back. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Workouts and Other Recent Things - April 27, 2015

April 20 - 26
Monday:  Rest
Tuesday: 2000 meter swim
Wednesday: 2.5 mile run outdoors (8:54 pace)
Thursday: 5 mile run on the treadmill (done as a progression, 10:00 average pace)
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rest, but not by design...my whole family was very sick for a few days
Sunday: Still sick :(

I am thrilled to say, I finally got this thing in the mail!

New robot friend.
So far, I've only been able to wear it a bit around the apartment and test out the instantaneous heart rate.  It seems to work pretty well!  This model takes heart rate on the wrist with an optical sensor.  It has a GPS for outdoor sports, and an accelerometer for indoor sports.  INCLUDING THE POOL!   I'm so excited.  I've already adjusted all the settings with my body metrics, stride length, pool size, etc. and now I just need to feel well enough to use the thing.

My one complaint is that it seems a bit large for my wrist.  It's supposedly for women and men, but I have to wear the band on the very smallest setting.  Even then, there is a bit of light leak and I am worried it will interfere with the HR sensor.  That remains to be seen.  Worst case scenario, I will contact TomTom about a smaller band or solution.  I mean...I do have tiny wrists, but I'm not "petite."  There have got to be plenty of female runners just as small or smaller, right? 

And on that same note, I finally hit the gym at a time (Thursday night) when there was no one else in the locker room.  I managed one photo to show you guys 1) these hideous new 1" inseam running shorts in pee-effing-urple, and 2) how pimp is this locker room???!

Too stressed to make a normal face.

Running has been lame lately.  I have worked my way back up to 10-mile weeks, and hope to try for a 12-mile week this week!  It's hard not to feel like it's back to square one.  But, I haven't really lost any speed that I can tell.  I'm mostly just weak on my left side.  I did make it out to volunteer for a track club race last weekend, the Statue2Statue 15k a/k/a the Toughest 15k in the South.

We had an awkward moment when we realized that four out of six of us working the water stop were lawyers.  What are the odds???!

Some of my water stop peeps. 

Less time running has meant more time for taking W to the park.  He's so funny about the swing.  He always asks to get in the swing, says "wheee!," and seems to enjoy it.  Then, he wants to get down less than a minute later.  It's almost like he's checking to make sure he still doesn't like it or something?  Who knows.

Just hanging out.

I've also perfected my naan recipe.  For me, naan is like bacon.  You never say, "man, I wish we hadn't ordered so much naan!"  Because there's no such thing.  Homemade naan is time consuming but worth the wait.  Here it is with some Indian food I made at home last week:

Mama bear, papa bear, baby bear.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Workouts - April 20, 2015

I have not yet made a point of logging workouts on here, other than linking to my Strava account and saying, "I run outdoors every day...check it out!"  I think that is going to change, because, 1) I am recovering from an injury, so I am cross training more than I am running, and 2) I believe the injury is partially due to some imbalance in my training.  So...here are my workouts for the past few weeks!

April 6 - 12
Monday: One hour spin class, extra stretching
Tuesday: Three easy miles on the treadmill, 9:20 pace
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: 2.7 mile run around my neighborhood, 8:57 pace
Friday:  Rest
Saturday: 4 mile run at the Birmingham Track Club spring social, 9:50 pace (very hilly and I tried to run "safe")
Sunday: Rest

April 13 - 19
Monday: went to yoga with my friend Rebecca, then lazed around in the pool :)
Tuesday: 5.6 mile run through my unfortunately hilly neighborhood, major IT pain at mile 3, so I walked the rest
Wednesday: 2000 meter swim
Thursday: Rest (we went to my parents' for the night)
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 2 mile warmup on the treadmill, 10:00 pace, weight training (squats/pullups/deadlifts), 1000 meter swim
Sunday: 2.5 miles on the treadmill, 8:48 pace; one hour of TRX training

As you can see, things have been pretty mellow the past few weeks.  I have been trying to work in plenty of rest and take it easy on the running intensity.  Today, I have another appointment to check the progress with my left leg, and I will update.

I also bought a multi-sport GPS watch and heart rate monitor, so I can get more information out of these indoor workouts and swims.  Of course, I had to search around to get the BEST deal on it.  That means it is being shipped from the West Coast and it isn't quite the color I wanted, but whatevs.  I will share my new gadgetry when it arrives ;)

I know I also said that I would share my V02 max and comp testing, but I'm just not organized/bored to get that together yet.  Soon!

Some Recent Photos

...that I thought you might enjoy.  Life has been very engrossing and full lately, and that's a good thing!

Spring time means drinks on the patio at Paramount.

And playing on neighborhood sidewalks.

Taking photos of W's Easter outfit as he RAN by.

Who doesn't love bow ties?

This is his eating face.

At our church egg hunt, W got 28 eggs!!! I couldn't believe it...he figured it out immediately, and he was unstoppable.  Hilarious.

Beautiful spring sunsets from our kitchen window...a huge pick-me-up while I cook dinner.

This is MAJOR...W is taking swim lessons!  I am so happy for him, and I am really trying not to be one of those swim moms who want their kid to live their glory, but HE LOVES IT!!! 

And the pool is really close to Whole Foods, so we have been having lunch there after.

As an aside, my stylist used body art henna on my hair, and I love the results.
From the front...yes, I have a bad case of RBFS.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

How to InjureYourself in 10 Easy Steps

Well, here it is.  The run where I injured myself for real, for the very first time.  March 21, 2015.  Although this injury was slow and cumulative, this run is the one where the proverbial shit hit the fan.  (Promise, I will limit my profanity on the matter to that single instance, but I am VERY tempted to use a great deal more.)

I am only now able to write this post, because I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  So, I have prepared this nice instructional guide for any of you who may be worried you love running too much, or who need a two-three week break.

1.  Run a full marathon.

Come off of it like NBD, have some celebratory beers and junk food, and check out your spring calendar full of awesome races you are going to STOMP.

Feels good!

2.  Head out for a three-mile "recovery run" two days later.

All your training buddies are doing it!  Who cares if your hamstrings feel like ground meat!  Just do it, right???!  Go ahead and roll your ankle on this run because, sure.  Feels good!  Wear the marathon t-shirt.  You rock.

3.  Wait two days and try to run again.

Feels horrible, right?  Left hamstring hurts so bad it's almost numb?  No problem!  Just jog home and summon some of your nonexistant patience.  LOL.

4.  Go on an extended business trip where you sit on your rear for 14-16 hours a day.

Be sure to drive a lot.  Eat sparingly or not at all, depending on when you have the time.  Do some hour-long jaunts on hotel treadmills set to 0% incline and tell yourself you are fit.  Feeling good, my friend!

5.  Lose your foam roller somewhere on the business trip.

Oh well.

6.  Once you're home, hit up an eleven-mile group run.

Make sure it is hilly as Hades.  No one shows up to run your intended pace???  FEAR NOT!  Just play slingshot with the 8:00 min/mile group.  Feel totally out of control?  Good!  You are right on target!  If you have some shooting pains in your left hip and hamstring during the run, just ignore them.  I really can't stress this enough...KEEP RUNNING THROUGH THE PAIN.  During this run and over the weeks that follow, you must ignore every signal your body is sending to try to get you to back the eff off.  Running is good for you.

When in doubt, just run more.

7.  Do a couple of rushed little training runs.

If you don't have time to run, just run really really fast.  Shoot for 2-3 miles at your anaerobic threshold.  Shock yourself with a couple of 6:30 miles.  No biggie.  Take Advil until you run out of it.  You are still super fast from marathon training, and there is no way you need a break.

8.  Race a hilly half marathon.

Just put yourself out there!  Pull off a not-so-great time, but don't worry.  The important thing is that you enjoy yourself.  And forget about your leg pain.  By the final mile of the race, you should be telling yourself, "I really need to work on hill training!"

Smile!  You have poor instincts!

9.  Take three days "off" and then run some hill repeats.

This actually works best if you are on a trip to an unfamiliar area, and the only safe place to run is a quarter-mile hill.  Just run up and down it until you are drooling all over yourself.  Your legs are fresh and rested, so this seems like a good idea, too!

10.   Top everything off with a ten-mile hill session.

This should be done at a moderate/hard pace, preferably while underdressed.  Run with a group, and pick a few guys who are slightly faster than you.  Spend the whole run trying to keep up with them.  By mile eight, you should be feeling your left leg again.  Once it starts to hurt, run one more massive hill before you decide to head back to your car.  If the GPS says 9.62 miles, you should definitely keep running to see that even 10.00.

Birmingham, I love you but you're bringing me down.

Success!  You can now enjoy a few weeks of limping like the Tin Man and slowly feeling your sanity slip away as you well and truly, finally have to rest.  If you've followed this plan correctly, you should have a strained femoral hamstring tendon, a strained piriformis muscle, and ITBS.  JACKPOT!  Make sure to budget several hundred dollars for the pool membership.

Of course, I write this in jest.  After the ill-fated March 21 run, I immediately backed way off.  I eliminated all running except weekly three-mile test runs on flat terrain.  By no means did I take the time "off."  Instead, I cross trained by swimming, biking, and stair climbing.  As an unintended bonus, I joined a fancy pool/gym and had a full round of complimentary fitness testing (VO2 max, body composition, metabolic efficiency...more on all of that later).  I started weight training again, which has been an immense help.  Finally, nineteen days later, I ran three miles pain-free.  Then, a few days later I ran four.

I feel cautiously optimistic about things.  I am glad I had the humility to stop what I was doing before I did more than strain some soft tissues.  I have found that I often don't identify and respect physical pain the way I should.  Moral of the story:  know your limits.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Our Week: March 28 - April 3

So...this week included most of Holy Week.  Because Nate works for the Church, it meant a lot of shuffling around with the car and W, some very late nights, and some planned and unplanned deviations from our schedule.  We had a fun trip planned for the weekend, but it didn't work out for a variety of reasons.  Boring!

Also boring:  I'm injured and taking some steps back from the high intensity and volume in my running schedule.  I plan a separate post on that before too long.  For now, I'll just say that YES things are finally improving, and I've been able to do some short runs without pain.  I made some early mistakes with the injury...I kept running on it, I couldn't properly identify the problem, I didn't understand what was wrong, and I had real difficulty dialing back on the running.  It's been a major adjustment to change the way I approach something that is so meaningful and enjoyable for me, but I'm handling it.

Okay, on to the photos!

My son's ginger hair...#nofilter, I guess?

My own ginger hair...#nomakeup haha.
The Mexican grocery continues to be amazing, because of this pan dulce.

I MADE MY OWN NAAN!!!!  And lamb biryani, and roasted cauliflower, but that is less exciting.

Then I discovered that naan is a breakfast food, too.

Breakfast is kind of a big deal at our house.  Here is Nate's flawless French toast.

Nate was out for the Good Friday service, so W and I had a two-person pizza party.

And then we had a pajama party.