Saturday, May 30, 2015

Traveling to Savannah, Georgia

I do a lot of work with the international shipping industry, which means frequent travel to cities with harbors.  My favorite one by far is Savannah, Georgia.

Freight ships headed inland on the Savannah River. 
 I have a ton of reasons to love Savannah, some personal, some universal:

1.  My parents lived there for four years after I left home, so it has always been a nice vacation-y destination where I had the opportunity to gain an insider's familiarity.

2.  Because of the tourist crowd, and the presence of a major art school, there are interesting restaurants and a variety of bars and gastropubs.

3.  There is also a great art scene, and a local movement for approachable and affordable art that is so welcoming. 

3.  The whole of downtown is walkable and scenic.

4.  The history of Savannah is unique and so quintessentially American that you learn some fascinating new tidbit every time you visit.  

We spent four days in Savannah last week.  I had client meetings for a major shipping project that kicks off next month, and as soon as I put them on the calendar I decided to take my family along.  So here are some photos, mostly of beer and my son.  We didn't do much of the historical stuff this time around, not because we are charlatans but because we did the graveyards, squares, churches, and museums to DEATH on a visit with my parents last fall.

As soon as we start taking bags to the car, W gets excited. 
Almost immediately after arrival, we walked over to Moon River Brewery.  They have a new "summer porter" that I was dying to try, and it was so light-bodied and toasty! 
Moon River also has an enclosed and shaded biergarten with outdoor games, including this oversized Connect Four set.

My little guy :)
Nate was busy working his way through the different taps, so I decided to try something lighter.  This is their unfiltered witbier, and it tastes just like summer.
We ate dinner at Kayak Cafe, a (mostly) vegetarian place on Broughton near the Savannah College of Art and Design.  This is their famous Kayak Salad, with cilantro dressing.  I would probably eat this every day for a month and not get tired of it.  I'm working on a list of interesting restaurants with good kids' menus and vegan options, and this one will probably go at the top.  It's also incredibly cheap and has great service, which...plus, plus.
The following day was a very busy one for me, as I had a series of meetings starting at 7 am.  My guys walked downtown a bit, then took a break from the heat to rest up for a night out.  Since we only had a few more hours in town, I wanted to do the touristy thing and get beers and seafood on the riverfront.

The view from where we ate, on the balcony at Tubby's Fish House.
If you eat outdoors at Tubbys, the bartender rings a bell every time a ship goes out to sea.  Then, shots of house liquor are $1 for the next five minutes.  We didn't partake this time around, but it's endlessly entertaining to watch the most straight laced business travelers get hosed on well whisky. 
I would also like to add that my son ate an entire order of fish and chips and loved every bite.  Who knew?!
Okay, that's the end of our 40-hours stay in Savannah.  We got up early the next morning and drove to Charleston, then on to visit family in the D.C. area for a little Memorial Day weekend trip.  I have more pictures to share from those places, too.

Hope you guys are having a great weekend!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Workouts - May 25, 2015

First, I want to say how much we are enjoying this cool spring weather.  We've spent the past week outdoors, in parks, biergartens, and sidewalk cafes.


I'm a bit busy with work lately, so here is a quick review of the week's workouts:

May 18 - 24
Monday: two hours of physical therapy, woo hoo
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 4 miles on the treadmill, 10:27 pace, quick lower body circuit
Thursday:  Rest, but did about two hours of walking on an urban tour with my family
Friday:  3.9 miles outdoors on crazy hills, 9:43 pace
Saturday: 4 miles outdoors, again on the hills, 9:39 pace
Sunday: hour-long Crossfit circuit with my nephews, including some hill repeats on my own

So, the good news is, I am back to running outdoors!  The bad news is, I have lost a lot of aerobic fitness for running on hills.  This is totally expected, and probably unavoidable, as I have been "not allowed" to run hills since about April 1.  I am excited to get it back, get the mileage back up, and race again in the late summer.  Again, I had zero hip or knee pain during the week's workouts.  The only lingering issues are some weakness and instability on the left side.  

On Sunday, I got to watch my husband run his first half marathon, and he SMOKED it with a chip time of 1:40:09.  I am thrilled for him, because 1:40 was his "A Goal."  Even though he is one of those infuriating naturally fast runners, I am so, so proud of him.  Since I helped him develop his training plan, and participated in the race as a spectator, I will do a race recap for you guys ASAP. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Workouts and a Photo Backlog - May 18, 2015

May 11 - 17
Monday: Rest, two hours of PT in the early evening
Tuesday: 5.9 miles on the treadmill, 9:49 pace
Wednesday: two hours of PT in the evening, apparently they are no longer "taking it easy" on me, also .8 miles on the treadmill for some gait training
Thursday: 2.1 miles on the treadmill, 9:31 pace, and 30 minutes for a TRX lower body circuit
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 8 miles outdoors with the track club!  9:40 pace!
Sunday: hour-long Barre class, and that ish HURTSSSS already

The big news is that I ran eight hilly miles outdoors at the Birmingham Track Club Saturday social, and had no knee pain!  Kathryn, one of my marathon training buddies, was a complete angel and ran the whole thing at my pace, even though it was easy for her.  She kept me distracted with conversation, and it was an amazing help when I was sucking wind on the hills.

Unfortunately, I have lost some aerobic fitness, even though I have spent the past few months being very diligent about it.  I know it will come back in time.  Probably more quickly than I think.  And now, I am dealing with paranoia each time I feel soreness in my lower body.  I am still frightened of running in pain, and I don't want to get back in the same situation I was in last month.  Still, I am very hopeful that the worst is behind me and I will keep getting stronger.

I really missed running the beautiful, shaded hills on the other side of Red Mountain.  I love the feeling of running down the road, feeling the wind, watching the sun rise.  I know it's cheesy, but I will never get tired of it.

Okay, enough of that crap.  Here are some pictures that have been lingering on my phone for whatever reason.

This is my child tasting ice cream for the first time.  It was NOT a hit.  We decided to go to Mountain Brook Creamery for the first time, and...where has it been all my life??!  I think it's going to be our new summer hangout.  W is just going to have to suck it up. 

My husband's birthday carrot cake.  It WAS a hit

My child is ginger.  Deal with it. I think red hair is beautiful, and I am proud that W has the same lovely hair color as so many of my family members, going back for generations.  Sappy, I know.  But I wasn't always so happy about my hair color, and I don't want him to go through that. 

On that note!  I took this picture on Mothers' Day, after I meticulously put on a lot (okay, for me) of fancy makeup, which I never do.  Including the NARS blush that the Whole Entire Internet wears, and some stuff from the Naked 2 Palette that my sister gave me for Christmas. 

W loves stuffed animals.  Handing him one and watching his reaction will never get old.  Ever. 

This kid cracks me up.  Swimming makes him (and everyone) really hungry, so we go straight from the pool to Whole Foods.  He really wanted this meatloaf off the hot bar, for whatever reason.  We never have meatloaf!

I got W some little athletic shoes, and suddenly he's running everywhere and looking about five years old.  Boo.

We're working on some new travel visas, and I had to get W's photos updated.  I am a pro at getting kids' passport photos without a fuss now.  I just bust into Walgreens and start straight ordering people around. 

So there you go!  My parents are back overseas, in a place where they can't get onto Facebook, so I'm taking a lot of these photos to share with them.  You're welcome.

Also, following the carrot cake post, I had a few people ask about vegetarian meals for a family.  I've taken some photos of our meals lately, and I plan to share those soon.  Basically, we all eat vegan dinners 70% of the time. We don't restrict any animal foods in W's diet during the day.  A few nights a week, I make a more traditional dinner with vegan sides and let everyone choose what they eat.  W eats exactly what we eat, no special preparation or other options.  He sits at the table with us and feeds himself, as he has done for almost a year now.  So, I'll condense that stuff into a post, and do another update on the BLW.

Have a great week.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Physical Therapy Update: How to Rehab SI Joint Problems, Pelvic Rotation, and ITBS

Let's just go ahead and start this post off right, with a horrifying picture of my left thigh following some deep tissue massage.  The PT warned me that I would have "some superficial bruising."  I think that was most likely an understatement. 


Lovely, I know.  This is the result of an instrument made by Hawk Grips and I would like to note that it did not hurt while it was being used on me.  Fascinating.

Okay, I've had four PT sessions, each one about two hours long.  I am going to Premiere PT, which I really can't say enough good things about.  They really understand athletes, don't talk down to lay people (which I HATE in the medical profession...seriously, grounds for walking out of an appointment), and they are dedicated to doing whatever it takes to get you healthy again.

Diagnosis
I feel like I fully understand my injury now, which is the key to preventing future problems.  Most likely, this originated during pregnancy, when hormones loosen your tendons and ligaments, and added weight and pressure stress your hips.  As a result, the two sides of my pelvis became rotated out of alignment with one another (right hip tilted forward and left hip tilted back).  This is called pelvic rotation.  My sacrum (tail bone) was also pulled out of alignment, with a lower left posterior torsion.  You can see a diagram of this injury type right here.  It is called either sacral torsion or SI joint dysfunction.

Ultimately, all of this misalignment resulted in ITBS (iliotibial band syndrome) on the left side.  The symptoms were general soreness and pinching across my left buttock, and deep aching in my left hip, along with severe and sharp pain across the outside of my left knee.  It was much worse when running downhill or climbing stairs. 

I'm being very specific with all of these descriptions, because this is sort of an unusual injury, and you don't read much about it online.  Also, the ITBS I had is much different from "normal" runners' ITBS, which is a repetitive and progressive overuse injury.  I hope anyone with the same symptoms or diagnosis might be able to find this post and somehow benefit from it.

Treatment
Treatment for the ITBS has focused only on relieving pain and inflammation.  That has meant a combination of ice/heat, electrical stimulation treatments, deep tissue massage, and topical anti-inflammatories.

Treatment for the alignment issues has been a little more focused and intense.  At each PT session, the therapist "sets" my hips and lower back into the correct alignment using physical manipulation.  Some of these adjustments are more painful than others, but with each visit I am closer to proper alignment.  At this last session (the fourth), I did not need adjustment at all.

Prevention
Preventative treatment has been the bulk of my PT sessions, and it has taken three forms:

1.  Correcting my motor habits in daily life,
2.  Strengthening key supporting muscles, and
3.  Retraining my running gait to be more efficient and relieve stress on my SI joint.  

For the first one, I am avoiding crossing my legs, sleeping on my side, or stressing my hips with awkward or asymmetrical postures.  I have switched to sitting with both feet on the floor, sleeping on my back, carrying heavy loads in the center of my body, etc.  It has made a HUGE difference already!

The exercises I am doing include:
"Clam shells" with a TheraBand - 30 supine, 30 on the left, 30 on the right
Standing leg extensions with a TheraBand - 45 in each of four directions, for each leg
Bosu ball lunges - 30 on each side
Lateral lunges on a 4" block - 3x15 on each side
Hip adduction on the weight machine - (40) 3x12
Hip abduction on the weight machine - (40) 3x12
Hamstring curls on the weight machine - (30) 3x12

They also have me doing the elliptical on very high resistance, which SUUUUUUUCKS.

For the running gait, I had a video evaluation based on digital video of my treadmill running form, taken from the front, rear, and side.  I was so pleased to learn I have a nice gait that doesn't need a lot of work!  Such a stupid thing to be proud of, I know.  My stride length and cadence are right where they should be.  My legs are positioned properly in relation to each other.  I have no unnecessary lateral movement in my knees.

The therapist does want to work on two changes to my gait.  First of all, I need to eliminate "vertical translation," which is basically how you "bounce" up and down during your stride.  Because of my particular gait, my head, shoulders, and hips should remain level in relation to the ground so I can push off faster.  This also will remove impact from my hips.

Secondly, I need to move toward a forefoot strike.  Getting off my heels when I run will activate my glutes more and take pressure off my hips.  This is something I have been trying to work on over the past several months, but I need to make it a habit. 

I have worked up to feeling comfortable with six or seven miles on the treadmill.  And, I'm faster on the treadmill than I have been before, so I'm hoping that will translate to faster outdoor runs.  According to my therapist, I *should* be able to run outdoors without pain.  Honestly, I think I have PTSD from some of those agonizing runs from late March and it's going to be very difficult to start getting back out there.  I have an easy eight-miler scheduled for tomorrow morning with the Track Club, and I have zero expectations for my performance.  Wish me luck! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Here's Your Long Awaited Post on Body Composition, Active Metabolic Testing, and VO2 Max.

Greetings!  Please prepare yourselves for a lengthy and self-involved post!  To those of you who know me in the meatspace, I beg you to overlook this momentary lapse into immature selfie snapping and First World Ruminations.  To the rest of you, I know what you are thinking, and I apologize for this conduct unbecoming a grown-ass woman.

Ok!  About four weeks ago, I had a very thorough (and very free) battery of tests at my fancy new gym.  They weighed me, measured my height and various body circumferences, and sent electrical current through me.  They took my blood.  They sent me across town to a "VIP Medical Center" to be immersed and weighed while floating in water.  And finally, they made me run on a treadmill at incrementally increasing speeds until I said, "Uncle."  This last bit was done while 1) fasting for 10 hours, 2) wearing a very uncomfortable and too-large heart rate monitor strap around my chest, and 3) wearing a purple neoprene mask with a closed oxygen supply and cords that smacked me in the shoulder with every stride.  Now, I know what you're thinking.  Yes, it was all very, very glamorous. 

I have some lovely test results, phone photos, and thoughts on the matter, which I'll share below.  But first, I'll get the dirty details out of the way.

I am 68.5 inches tall, measured to the nearest quarter inch.  With a laser!  I always thought I was 5'9, but there it is.  Lesson: I wonder how many people don't know their actual height, and therefore have their body metrics calculated incorrectly in their medical records?  Does this stuff matter?  Also, I will probably keep telling everyone I am 5'9. 

On the day of the testing, I weighed 124.2 pounds.  I mention this because on the day of the photos, I weighed 122.0 pounds and I know how much that stuff matters to you crazy body building types.  Lesson: Weight fluctuates, but you already know that.  Also, a quart of water weighs two pounds, so you do you.

My body fat percentage is 18.4% by electrical impedance (hands and feet) and 18.1% by hydrostatic weight.  Lesson: You hear a lot of warnings about the discrepancy between various methods of body fat measurements.  At least for me, the two methods used were shockingly close.  The lab admin running the dunk tank said this was unusual. 

My VO2 max was measured at 42.2.  Lesson: Because of where the metabolic testing fell in my training and injury cycle, I feel like my cardiovascular fitness was on a downswing.  Around the time that I met the Olympic qualifying time standards for swimming, I had my VO2 measured on a stationary bike.  As I recall, it was closer to 55.  Either way, I'd like to get this remeasured one day, but I am also taking into consideration that VO2 isn't really helpful except for knowing whether you are Lance Armstrong or a sled dog.   

My anaerobic threshold is 179, and my lactate threshold is 187.  (I think.  Someone please correct me if I am reading that second number wrong.)  My heart rate zones look like this:
Zone 1: 102-160
Zone 2: 161-168
Zone 3: 169-178
Zone 4: 179-186
Zone 5: 187-206

My HDL ("good") cholesterol is still extremely high.  Like, medical-anomaly high.  Apparently this is okay and my doctor is doing nothing.  Lesson: I have no idea. 

Now, if you're still reading, you may have noticed that I have yet to post any pictures.  Frankly, I'm hoping you won't make it to the bottom of the post.  In order to further guarantee you will run out of patience before reaching the lurid sports bra photographs, I will now share actual scans of the test results.  I did not get the print out from the "dunk tank" (ie. hydrostatic weight pod), because I was soaking wet in a fancy medical spa and I forgot.  Sorry.  I "scanned" these with my phone.  What can I say, I'm a busy person.  Sorry again. 


Here is the heart rate zone information, based on my treadmill/gas mask/chest strap experience.  The trainer wrote some helpful notes in the margin reminding me to spend 80% of my time in zones 1 and 2.  I probably don't do this.  Lessons: Basically, I can run up to about 7 mph (that's an 8:30 pace for those of you playing along at home) without being "winded."  I can run up to 8.2 mph (7:20 pace) before my body is like, "eff this, wolves are probably chasing us."  I used this chart for conversions, ignoring the part about the incline.  Also, I probably run too fast most of the time.  But it's just so fun!

I also want to point out as a super important lesson that my heart rate zones are SO SO DIFFERENT from what you get if you use the traditional "220 minus age" calculation method.  If I had relied on that method, I would have been slacking on my training.     


This photo has basically the same information (along with the trainer's notes AGAIN exhorting me to slow my running down).  But it also shows what energy source I am using for running at different speeds.  I guess the ratio of inhaled/exhaled gas allows them to calculate these numbers. Lessons: Apparently, I am an "efficient fat burner."  I haven't done anything in particular to get this way.  I eat a mostly plant based (read: "high carb") diet and I get regular cardiovascular exercise.  That's about it.  I know this type of YAY FAT BURNING is having a moment right now and there is a lot of trendy broscience that has people eating butter during races.  Mostly the type of people who run in sandals.  I don't participate in this, and I'm not trying to lose weight, so I'll probably go on eating candy corns during races.  


VO2 max table.  Lessons: I am not a sled dog.  Even if I were 13 years old, I would still be in decent shape.  Ok.


The gym also used my torturous treadmill run to make this "custom warmup" for me.  It's allegedly going to get me in "fat-burning mode" for the actual workout.  The trainer also said some stuff about this being the reason the first few miles of a run feel like a dance with Satan.  Lessons:  I probably don't warm up enough.  I blame this on not having hours a day to work out, but that's probably not a good excuse.  I will make an effort, especially for races.

Are you still reading?  Probably not.  Okay, let's take a moment here at the end to enjoy some photos.  I beg you, instead of thinking, "hey, here are some photos of Rheagan, who is hardly awesome, wearing summer gym clothing!" please think, "hey, here are some photos of a human body for which we know exact biometrics and isn't that interesting?!"  And yes, I put low-rent watermarks on these.  I will probably also post them elsewhere.


I am not flexed at all in this photo.  The electrical impedance machine indicated that I have a lot of lean muscle mass in my lower body.  My legs are JACKED, yo.  I want to point out that even though various fitness and bodybuilding forums (forae?) indicate women can have visible "abs" around 17-21% body fat, mine aren't really except for the top. 



Yes, you can be a fast runner, and have a relatively low body fat percentage, and still have "extra" on your legs.  I love my legs, and I don't really tend to think about specific body parts as problematic or whatever, because that sort of detaches them from your personality.  I mean, these legs belong to me and they do a fine job.  But I see a lot of blog posts and ESPECIALLY posts on fitness forums where women point out "problem" areas or want to spot reduce or whatever.  And I just want to make it clear that the goals you see on those sites may not be achievable for your body type.  Even if you reach a decent level of fitness. 


Again, here are my abs.  I think this one is important because people are always talking about how pregnancy destroys your midsection or you can never "get it back."  This is pretty much how I looked before pregnancy.  If anything, I have more lean body mass and I am stronger.  


And here's a photo showing that from the side, I am a completely ordinary looking woman.  I see a lot of photos from this angle where the subject is inhaling, expanding her rib cage, elevating a hip, etc. to create a concave stomach.  I don't think those photos are fair.  


Here's a photo to show that I need a better camera.  Just kidding.  I am attempting to show my calf muscles.  I see a lot of (mostly male) anguish online about calf definition.  So here are the calves of a lady runner with ~18% body fat.  For science.  I like how you can also see cellulite on the backs of my thighs.  If you are hoping to get to some particular body fat percentage to get rid of your cellulite, you may need to adjust your goals.  Just saying. 


On that note, I decided to also share a more detailed picture of my upper legs.  I know I've been standing on a soap box for the back half of this post, but no one ever really shows athletic women's legs this way.  Most of the time, you have the option of seeing a photo like this and hitting "delete."  Or untagging.  Or not sharing.  And I think most people do.

So there you go.  Again, forgive my indulgent behavior with this post.  Every time I started typing it up, I would think about how these issues are reserved for people with healthy bodies, clean water, plenty to eat, and a safe place to live.  If you are sitting here thinking deeply about these things with me, we are all truly lucky. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Workouts - May 11, 2015

I continue crawling my way back to running fitness following my injury.  I still have the sacral torsion and slight ITBS, but the pelvic rotation seems to have been corrected.  I am doing physical therapy twice a week.  I have good days and setbacks, some painful runs and some weirdly normal runs.  I am still hopeful, working hard, and trying to be patient!

May 4 - May 10
Monday: two hours of physical therapy, which involved some not-too-challenging resistance work
Tuesday: 3.9 miles on the treadmill, 10:00 pace
Wednesday: two hours of physical therapy, with some more difficult resistance work
Thursday: 3.7 miles outdoors, 9:17 pace
Friday: 2500-meter swim (basically one hour of swimming)
Saturday: 2 miles on the gym treadmill, 9:44 pace, an hour of Ashtanga yoga
Sunday: 5 miles on the home treadmill, 10:02 pace, VERY hot and my HR was all over the place

TomTom Multisport Cardio GPS Watch (Continued!)
In case you were wondering, this is what it looks like when you wear a HR monitor for a vinyasa-style yoga class:

As it turns out, it is a decent aerobic workout, just like I always suspected.  I did feel a little weird wearing a GPS watch to the yoga studio, but whatever, it was for science!  Fortunately, the studio is inside my gym, so a lot of people come directly to yoga from the gym floor.

I also wore the watch for Friday's swim.  I decided to spend a full hour in the pool, and I ended up with 100 laps in the 25 meter pool, which was oddly satisfying.  I am an efficient swimmer, so this was not a challenging workout.  I was probably in aerobic zone 2 or 3 for the duration, and I only took a few short breaks at the lane end.

The TomTom is great in the water.  It is easy to read underwater (although I need to alter my stroke a bit to see the face).  I didn't notice any weird drag, and the band stayed secure.  The casing is very water proof, and water just beads up on the face (not sure why I was worried about this!).  It does a beautiful job counting laps.  I tested this with both flip turns, which I use for freestyle, and breaststroke open turns.  I followed the advice on the DC Rainmaker blog, and kept my turns very "crisp" to avoid errors with the accelerometer.  No complaints.

I will note that the lap count is affected by sloppy turns or stopping at the end of the lane.  Each time you stop without a flip turn, the watch "shorts" you a lap.  I found this is easily fixed by either 1) not stopping at the lane end, or 2) ending the lap with a flip turn and then stopping after the push off.  It's not always possible to do a swim workout without stopping AT ALL, because goggles come off, you need to start an interval set, etc.

And this is not a complaint, but the HR monitor does not function in swim mode.  You have the option of using the watch in freestyle mode while in the pool instead.  Basically, you have to choose whether to count laps or record HR data, but not both.

I am already working on a ridiculously detailed post about my VO2 max, active metabolic, and body composition testing.  I even took some very ridiculous photos of my legs and abs which I figure I will go ahead and post for the sake of science.  YOLO, right?  (Edit: You can view the completed post right here).

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Recipe: Vegan Carrot Cake


First of all, some things you should know:

1) I developed this recipe myself, over several years.  It started as a mutant version of Alton Brown's Good Eats carrot cake, and then never looked back. Every single year for the past five, I have made this cake for my husband's birthday.  He's vegan.  It's his favorite.  

2) The cake is vegan, but it doesn't have any frankengredients and is totally recognizable and enjoyable for omnivores. I am not one to obsess over the vegan categorization...the (store bought) icing on this cake has sugar (bone char) and palm oil (Orang-utan habitat).  Adjust your version as you see fit. 

3) It is not a "light" cake.  It has a heavy crumb, and it is very rich with pecans, carrots, and coconut.  As a bonus, this means the cake isn't delicate or temperamental.

4) I have some really ugly concrete counter tops.  Also, I drink water constantly.  Both of these feature prominently in the photos.

Vegan Carrot Cake

Wet Ingredients:
2 C unbleached cane sugar
2 T molasses
3/4 C Earth Balance, room temperature
3/4 C apple sauce
1/2 C silken tofu, whipped (I use a Ninja blender)

Dry Ingredients:
2 C all purpose flour
1 t iodized salt
1 t baking powder
1 t ground cinnamon (I also add a pinch of ground cloves)

Final Ingredients:
2 C raw carrots, peeled, trimmed, and grated (again, I use the Ninja blender)
3/4 C raw pecans, chopped finely (love my Ninja!)
1/4 C coconut (raw, sweetened, grated from the baking aisle)
1 t raw ginger, grated on a rasp (optional)

Add the sugar, molasses, and Earth Balance to a mixing bowl and combine them with an electric mixer on medium speed.  The resulting mixture should look like coarse beach sand, not "creamed" as in other recipes.


(Note: The cane sugar and molasses combination at this ratio is a substitute for brown sugar, which you can use if you'd like.  I just don't keep it on hand because it does poorly in the humidity).

Add the apple sauce and tofu, and blend on medium until well combined.  (Another Note: the tofu is a substitute for four eggs, which you can use if you eat eggs!  The texture of the cake is so rich and dense that the difference isn't that noticeable).  Add the dry ingredients to the top of the wet, then stir them with a dinner fork to combine them.  This is a lazy alternative to combining dry ingredients separately.  Again, the cake doesn't really need it.



Prep your carrots and throw them in the blender or food processor.  Here are my carrots, which ended up being way too many carrots:


And here is what the carrots look like after they have been grated in the Ninja:



Don't juice them, but get out all of the large chunks.  If you end up with too many grated carrots, just make carrot slaw by adding vinegar, mayo, raisins, and parsley.  Or make too many carrots on purpose.  Your call. 


Measure out the carrots, pecans, and coconut, and start to combine everything by folding with a fork.  Get out your ginger nub and grate it directly into the batter as you go.  This cake can handle it.


Use Earth Balance or vegetable shortening to do this to two 8" nonstick cake pans:


Add the batter, and fill the cake pans to within 1/2" of the rim.  This cake doesn't rise much, so you can fill them quite high.


Bake the cakes at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes.  The centers should be solid, with no browning on top.  Once they are out of the oven, allow them to cool in the pans for 10 minutes (set a timer), then turn them out to finish cooling completely. 


Ice and serve!  My husband is crazy about store bought icing.  And hey, Christina Tosi agrees that it is a culinary treat, so who am I to argue?  We use Betty Crocker Cream Cheese icing, which weirdly enough is vegan (but contains conventional sugar).  You could use any icing recipe you like, or none at all.  The cake freezes well and even makes a great breakfast pastry if you toast it.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Workouts and Other Related Ramblings - May 4, 2015

Yeah, I know this is technically a day early.  But I have already designated today a rest day and I want to get it out of the way.  I have a LOT of things to ramble on about.  And no photos, sorry. 

First of all!

April 27 - May 3
Monday: 4 miles on the treadmill, unsure of the pace because it was my first treadmill run with my new watch!  I had some issues with the upload, but it's all fixed now.  I also did abs after, but who really counts that.
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 2.9 miles outdoors, 9:16 pace
Thursday: TRX upper body workout, 3.5 miles on the treadmill, like an 11:00 pace because I wanted to really fully warm up my leg and go easy
Friday: a generic "vinyasa" yoga class that *SURPRISE* focused on the hips!
Saturday: 7 miles on the treadmill (!), 10:33 pace (9:50 pace after the warmup)
Sunday: Rest

The Stupid Injury
Guys.  Guys!  The seven-mile treadmill run is HUGE!  On Tuesday of last week, I was cleared to run on the treadmill ("go nuts").  I am really working to make use of the HR zone information I got at my new gym, so I wanted to spend an hour on a moderate run.  Not once during this run did my leg hurt!  Huge success.

I am very excited to relay this information at my physical therapy appointment in the morning.  Things could be finally turning around.  I had a bit of an emotional setback last week after an appointment with my fancy new sports medicine MD.  She said there is more going on with my leg than just typical ITBS.  It is still soft tissue, and still treatable, but not something that simple rest will fix.  The left side of my pelvis is functioning out of alignment with the right, and some tendons are loosened.  All of this is possibly due to the fact that I am small and I birthed a big baby in the not-so-distant past.  Rats.  My doctor was very encouraging, though, and said it would be an easy fix with four weeks of very intense physical therapy.  I'm ready to ROCK the PT.

I am trying not to dwell on it, but the next race in my track club's 2015 series is an eight-mile trail combo about nine weeks from now.  I don't want to be a hero, and I have discarded any time goals or egotistical thought about this.  But, I would love to be able to run it from start to finish.  We will see.

The Coffee Thing
I went a full eight days with zero coffee.  I'll just give you the long and short of it.  I had withdrawal symptoms, which peaked at day three and then got better suddenly.  I no longer had the dehydrated feeling that plagues me most mornings. I (think I) slept better?  Probably.  This morning, I had a small cup after breakfast, and I don't think I'll be doing it again for a week or more. 

The TomTom Multisport Cardio
Love it.  Heart rate monitor works like a charm, despite some fit issues with the watch band itself.  The treadmill calibration is a little wonky/still a work in progress.  The features are just incredible, after using a no-frills Garmin for so long.  It really is a lot of watch for the money.  I had some problems with the upload to Strava, but I figured it out.  If anyone is having issues linking TomTom MySports to Strava, message me, and I will give you some detailed help.  I solved the problem as well as developed a few workarounds in case this happens again.  I still haven't tested the watch in the pool, but hope to get a swim in this next week. 

Active Metabolic and Body Composition Testing
I promise to share.  Soon.  I just managed to get good jpegs of the information sheets showing my results, so I will at least post them with some commentary.  I have been thinking about the body composition/"dunk tank" stuff and I'm not sure I will post it at all.  It has detailed information about my body, which 1) is sort of...a weird thing to make public, right? and 2) probably isn't very informative for my audience.  I also really hate it when bloggers post irrelevant information about their height or weight or aspects of their physical lives in a context that doesn't inform.  Do people still use the word "trigger"?  Would this stuff be "triggering"?

I suppose I could talk some about the results and compare them to how I actually look, because I know that is something that would appeal to a broad audience.  I could also talk about my habits with diet and exercise and how they likely translate into the results.  But either of these spins on the matter would likely involve some serious navel gazing and possibly photos of my physical person.  And I'm just not very vain.  Thoughts?  (Edit: I pulled the trigger, and you can view the completed post right here).