Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Still loving those holiday treats! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Change of Plans

Things are not on track for a January marathon. I've tried to do the longer mileage, but I've reached a point where I think I'm doing myself no favors. I initially started getting worked on because my screwed up biomechanics were leading to overuse injuries that I could no longer work around. The chiropractor and physical therapist have spent six weeks breaking me down and loosening me up so my pelvis would go back into alignment and I've tried to keep doing marathon training during that process, which has been something of a disaster. With nothing where it used to be, my aches and pains have only multiplied.

Now we've reached the rebuilding phase of my therapy. It's hard work. More aches and pains in new places. And while I think I'll be strong enough by mid-January to handle a marathon, I won't have the mileage under my belt to do it with. And one thing I refuse to do is go out there with no certainty that my body is ready for 26.2 miles of running on concrete.

So I'm changing my focus. I'm going to put my energies into getting strong and biomechanically sound. It's base work, really, and it has to all be re-done as if from scratch because as far as my muscles are concerned, I have a new body to work with and nothing is like what it was before. Getting this part right is where my focus should've been all along and not on the stupid marathon.

Live and learn, right? Sure, I'm getting older, but when will I get wiser?

If things go well, I might do a marathon in Austin or Surfside in February.

I had a good Christmas. It's amazing how low-stress the holiday can be when you're not trying to juggle multiple family commitments. With my parents out of town and Dan wanting to opt out of his aunt and uncle's get-together, our only obligation was Christmas morning with his mother and sister, which went pretty well. We didn't stay long enough for me to get bored, thank goodness.

And then we were free! We had some overpriced but very good Indian food and a long afternoon nap. Yeah, it's no one's idea of a traditional Christmas, but we felt relaxed and happy and didn't dread the day as we have in other, more harried years.

In all, it's been a good holiday so far. Low stress, nice weather, no big time commitments so that my sleep/wake cycle has reverted to up-all-night/sleep-part-the-day. My body's clock has never been right and it's nice not to have to fight it for a week. I'll be suffering that first week back at the office, but for now, why worry? God made caffeine because he loves us and to make up for little mistakes like giving some of us bio clocks that think staying up until 3 am is a good idea.

I hope everyone else had a merry Christmas and/or is having a good Hanukkah!

Recent Workouts
Saturday: 1 hour elliptical, 1 hour bike - Carmichael Training Systems: Climbing
Sunday: Rest Day - Merry Christmas!
Monday: 5.25 mile run
Tuesday: 30 min core and legs, 45 min bike - Spinervals 3.0 Suffer-O-Rama

Sunday, December 25, 2005

What is this? Did Santa come? Posted by Picasa
It's a basket of treats! Thanks, Santa! Posted by Picasa
Merry Christmas, Friends! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 22, 2005

For me?  Posted by Picasa
An ornament? That's it? Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Solstice Run

I went for a really nice run today when I got off work. It was just a little five-miler around the bayou trails, but with the sun setting and casting a golden glow over everything, it felt very pretty and magical. The recent rains had washed mud across the lower parts of the trail, but it was dry and the uncertain surface forced me to slow down and look around a bit at the trees, the muddy bayou, the people walking their dogs, at the sunset painting its rapidly fading colors across the sky.

I don't know how fast I ran because I haven't worn a watch since I became injured. Trying to beat a preconceived notion of time is bad news when you're hurt. But I think I was slightly sub-9:00 most of the time.

The bayou trails are really a bad place to try for speed, anyway. The surfaces are too varied and uncertain. There's a spot near the fountain where the asphalt is so badly broken that you don't so much run as dance across that section as you make rapid calculations of where to place your feet where you'll be least likely to twist or break something.

There were quite a few tourists at the bat bridge at Waugh Drive. Funny, I've been running under there for years hearing the bats, smelling the stench of the guano, never seeing anyone other than homeless people. And now that they've put up a few signs about the bats, it's a regular tourist attraction.

There were quite a few runners out this afternoon. Some were dressed for snowstorms, but it really wasn't so cold as all that. Even I, cold-weather wimp that I am, found it warm enough for shorts.

Someone was walking a dog off-leash. I didn't see the owner, but I saw the dog-- a black mutt with a pink plastic day-glo ribbon tied to his tail for easy locating if he darted off into the bushes, I guess.

A nicely-dressed woman was walking home from the Kroger on the other side of the bayou from where I live. She was walking across the Shepherd bridge, a bag in each hand, blocking me from passing on the narrow sidewalk. Luckily a guy in a pickup saw my impatience and slowed down long enough for me to step into the street and sprint around her. It felt good to sprint.

On the last stretch up the hill to the Jackson Hill bridge, I passed a guy who was a fair bit younger than me. No sooner had I passed him when I heard a rustling in the dry leaves behind me. I couldn't let him pass me back, could I? He might be younger, but he was wearing cotton! So I kicked it in a little and by the time I got to the bridge and looked back, he was trudging, looking tired. Ha!

As soon as I got home, my lungs tightened up and I couldn't breathe. One of my least-favorite things about running in the winter. As long as the adrenaline is going, my lungs stay clear, but as soon as I slow down or stop, my lungs freak out and it can take as long as thirty minutes before I'm breathing normally again. Oh well. I'm used to it so it doesn't usually freak me out, which would only make it worse.

A shower, a nice dinner, some blog-checking and a short nap and now I'm ready to settle in with a bit of writing. I was at one of those "How do I want to get from A to B?" places when I stopped last night. Since not much was happening at the office today, I managed to have some good ideas-- ideas that made me laugh because they were evil. I don't know why I enjoy my characters so much more when they're bad than when they're good, but I do.

Lessee… what else? I got nearly all the audit docs collected and copied. If interruptions can be kept to a minimum tomorrow, I should be able to finish up before the holiday break.

Please think kind thoughts for my friend Dalila-- the coolest gal that ever lived. She works for the New York City Department of Transportation and all of a sudden her job is much more exciting than she would probably like.

And finally, a box arrived today for Tidbit from The Busy Bunny. What could it be?

Happy Solstice and Almost-Christmas, everyone!

Today's Workout
5.25 mile run

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Weird Christmas

My mom's father passed away Monday night. Note I didn't say "my grandfather." Technically, he is my step-grandfather or something like that. Although he was kind to me when I was a kid, I didn't grow up with any strong attachments to either of Mom's parents because they were holy-rollers and racists-- a hypocritical combination that I find so obnoxious that I really can't stand to associate myself with such people.

And so I don't regret his passing, but I regret the impact it has on other family members. And it's a weird feeling to have no one left in the grandparent generation, either by blood or by marriage.

I'm also emotionally conflicted by something. You see, he was quite well off. He had only one child, my stepmother, who is a drunk and a spendthrift. She had over $15K in credit card debt last I heard, spent mostly on booze and bankrolling her lazy daughter (my half-sister). And now with the death of one racist, that debt is wiped clean, just like magic! How the hell is it that I can bust my behind and get nowhere while rewards fall out of the sky onto a lazy person like my sister and a woman like Mom who spends 21 nickels out of every dollar?

Yeah, yeah, I know. Life ain't fair. Deal with it.

So the parents are off to California and won't be back until around New Year's. No biggie. When everyone is a grownup, Christmas is when you say it is. Maybe we'll celebrate Three Kings Day instead.

Oddly, my sibs are staying in town. Now, not to diss them any more than I usually do, but if it were my grandparent being buried, you wouldn't be able to keep me off the plane, holiday travel hell or no. I doubt they're staying away on principle, like I am. The fact that the old man probably left them something in his will and their mother could maybe use their emotional support ought to be enough motivation to get their candy asses onto the next plane to the Los Angeles area. Hell, I would've walked to Massachusetts for my grandmother's funeral, had it been necessary. And I knew I wasn't getting a dime and no one needed my strong shoulder to cry on. Up there among my New England relatives, I'm just a novelty.

Sometimes I wonder how I ended up in this family. I swear we share almost no common values. We're all carbon-based forms of life, and that's about it.

No workout tonight. I wanted to do some spinning, but we did a few new things in therapy today and I was a little worried that if I hopped on the bike tonight I would have no way of gauging if what we tried is hurting or helping. So my plan is to go for a run tomorrow if I'm feeling good, otherwise I'll make a date with Coach Troy and do some spinning.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Boss-Man's Party

Well, today was the CIO's party and it went much better than I had expected. I liked my veggie plate okay (it was uninspired, but not dreadful), everyone was in a cheerful mood and the party didn't run on past the scheduled end time. In fact, we ended early and I and a co-conspirator managed to get our afternoon business managers meeting cancelled. Yay!

I left the white elephant exchange with a clock. I'm still trying to decide if it's cool or just weird. Either way, it's very re-giftable if I decide I don't like it after all, which is the main reason I stole it rather than take my chances with the unknown gifts on the table.

I think we're into the homestretch now-- most of the bosses are going to be out the rest of the week and with them gone and no more parties, I'll be able to finish gathering documents for the auditors and settle in to a quiet rest of the week. We're supposed to work through Thursday. Hopefully we'll get sent home early that day. I won't be working very hard, regardless.

I went and saw Mary after work today and she really beat me up good. She told me to stretch my calves more often. For such a dumb, simple little thing that one can do almost anywhere, I sure am lazy about that!

I came home to a husband who was complaining about not feeling well. Grrrr... He says he's not sure if he's coming down with something or if he just ate too much calamari at his boss's luncheon. Well, he better not get me sick is all I have to say. Isn't there some sort of law that contagious spouses must stay at the Motel 6 until they're well? Didn't I read that somewhere?

No workout tonight. I got home pretty late from Mary's house and I was starving and now it's nearly 9 o'clock and I'm going to try to do some work on my novel early so I can maybe get more than my usual five hours of sleep.

I need my rest - calamari poisoning might be contagious!

Today's Workouts
* Carried 40 lb bag of bunny litter up to the third floor.
* Tried to escape while Mary dug her elbows into my calves - ouch!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sentimenal Day

Even though lots of things were hurting today, I decided to do Coach Troy's evil two hour interval video, Have Mercy.


Well, maybe it's the weather, maybe it's hormones, maybe it's the stress or the holidays, but I found myself feeling sentimental this morning. And that's always a bad road for me to start down. I get to thinking about places that will never be quite the same for me, about things I would like to do or that I wish I had done, about people who totally rocked my world and how strange and cruel it is that life, just ordinary life, drives a wedge between what we want and what we end up with.

None of which is to say I regret my choices. I'm not into regrets. I try to make the best decisions I can at the time I make them and no one can do more than that. If some of the decisions are bad, so be it. Plenty of my decisions are good ones.

It's also not to say that I'm unhappy with where I am now. Anything I would change about my life would be a minor upgrade, not a major overhaul. I have all the basics. Anything else is window dressing.

In other words, I have no cause for complaint. I'm not unhappy. It's just that every now and then a bit of random sentimentality creeps in and I find myself wishing I could have everything I wanted instead of merely anything.

So I figured it was a good day to beat myself up on the bike a bit. Get good and tired, damage a few brain cells if possible, have a turkey sandwich, follow it up with something sweet and gooey, then take a nap.

Which is where I'm at right now-- tryptophan-enhanced, nodding off at the keyboard and ready to curl up with my kitty and a good book.

Not a bad way to spend a sentimental Sunday afternoon.

Today's Workout
Sunday: 2 hour bike, Spinervals 9.0 Have Mercy

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Gray, Rainy Morning

The alarm went off. I took out an earplug and listened. Outside, it was pouring. I reset for 30 minutes and went back to sleep. Half an hour later, I repeated the exercise. Still pouring. Another 30 minutes and it was still raining and I couldn't put off my workout any longer.

So it was an indoor cardio kind of day.

Probably just as well, since my hip and IT band are really sore. I don't know if it's a good or bad sign. Does it mean the new treatments are moving things into place and this is just a normal growing pain, so to speak? Or did something go wrong? More on that after my next appointment, I guess.

Anyhow, this was a scheduled low-mileage day anyway, so it was all destined to turn out okay.

To minimize boredom, I followed a program of 30 minutes elliptical, 30 minutes treadmill, 15 minutes stair stepper, then repeat all three pieces and call it a day.

I managed to find two good long magazine articles to read on the elliptical machine, so that made the time go by pretty fast. I stayed in the 188-194 steps/min range, which I consider good for longer cardio work.

I did intervals on the treadmill, which is another boredom-delaying trick. I did 2 minutes at 9:00 min/mile pace, 2 at 8:30, 1 at 8:00, then repeat over and over while watching CNN. For my pace and stated goal of a 2.5 hour total cardio workout, this type of interval schedule, with no speedwork, was perfect.

I did nothing special on the stair-stepper. Fifteen minutes isn't so bad. I flipped through an old Smithsonian magazine, but I don't read well on the stair machine.

In all, it worked out pretty well. Various body parts started cramping and hurting on the run, but only toward the end of each session, so it was okay and I was able to finish. I noticed that my right foot was turning inward a bit and when I tried to analyze what was happening, I noticed that my whole right hip is tipping inward toward my center as I run. There's definitely a slight shift in that direction and it must be what's causing the IT band and knee issues because I noticed the same problem last weekend when my knee started giving me problems. I'll have to report this to the doc and PTs on Tuesday.

I really need to get a 21 miler under my belt next weekend if I'm still going to do this marathon. The fact that my hip and IT band are so tender this weekend worries me, as does the way my long run ended last week. I'm going to set up a massage appointment with Mary for this week and give the long run my best shot next weekend and see what happens, I guess.

As an alternate, I'm considering the Surfside Beach Marathon in February. It's a small beach run about 60 miles south of here and it's gotten good reviews. It sounds like one of those small, laid-back little venues where you quickly make friends with everyone. They also have a half marathon which I'm trying to convince Dan to do with me, whether or not I do the Houston marathon in January. Dan says he'll be too busy helping prep for the West U Warmup bike ride, which is the day after the Surfside Marathon. But I think I've got some room to debate that with him. I need to find out if he's really locked into an all-morning commitment, or if he's just making an excuse.

In other news, I think things are winding down at work, finally. The auditor wants various things, but it's at the stage where I get a call or an email and I go hunt down what he wants and take it to him. No more three hour interviews, thank goodness. Two of my three mandatory parties are over and I have my white elephant gift for Monday's party. After that, I think a lot of people will be out and I'll have some time to get things done without the phone ringing all the time. I'm being pestered a lot in these last few days before the holiday break, but it's all small stuff-- vendors wanting payment status, bosses wanting report updates, employees with questions about vacation time, etc.

My dad got into town last night and my brother had a birthday, so all is well in family-land. I sent my father one of Tidbit's picture books in November and he brought it home to show Mom. Now she wants one.

The Indian food was good today, the cat seems back to normal, the bunny has discovered the pleasure of lounging on the sofa and my writing is going steadily although it's been over a week since I had one of those days when I was really on a roll. Sometimes writing is a slog-fest, just like running.

And that concludes today's report.

Recent Workouts
Thursday: 45 minute elliptical (no running permitted - decompression day)
Friday: scheduled rest day
Saturday: 2.5 hour cardio (1 hour elliptical, 1 hour running, 30 min stair-stepper)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Can we rest yet? Posted by Picasa


I'm decompressing here a little, in more ways than one.

The biggest part of the audit is over. There are a few things that I still need to collect, but I have confidence that I can track them down-- they're silly things that aren't even typical audit documents, so I'm a little perplexed. But compared to what the auditor could've asked for, I think I'm in good shape. So if my boss can refrain from pestering me and if the phones will do me a favor and work properly (they were flaky today), I think I can get everything finalized on Friday or early part of next week.

A few other workplace frustrations have come up and I'm feeling pecked to death in some cases, just plain confused in others. I'm starting to suspect one of my bosses of being in the early stages of Alzheimer's. Seriously. Too many weird things have happened recently. But then, I think we're all tired, frustrated, forgetful and just trying to get out for the holidays, so maybe I shouldn't read too much into it.

We're doing some new things in physical therapy. The big one is spinal decompression in the lumbar area. We're trying to loosen my left hip, which has remained tight in spite of some of the other things we've tried. The decompression treatments have already made some noticeable improvements to my flexibility. We're helping things along with some trigger point massage treatments through the tight area of the lower back, both hips and both IT bands. We did some good work around the knees today and found a lot more tightness in the right IT band than I had realized was there. But I haven't been allowed to run this week because we're waiting to see how my body responds to the decompression. I'll run Saturday-- about 12 miles or so, and see how that goes.

We had our department Christmas party today and I sat with my assistant and a few of her friends and I got caught up on all the gossip. Working in a university IT department isn't nearly the circus that a restaurant is, but we have our moments.

So all I want now is for my one boss to remember what he says and does from one day to the next, for the other boss to quit nagging in me in her Mommy Voice for not sending documents to her that aren't on her must-send list (or at least not get snarky with me when I call and ask what docs she wants) and to find the missing property forms that are merely duplicates of the forms I already gave the auditor, but that he wants to see anyway. Oh, and it would help if my phone works tomorrow.

I can't believe I only get one week off for Christmas/New Year's this year. I'm gonna need a lot more than that!

Recent Workouts
Tuesday: 30 minute elliptical
Wednesday: 45 minute bike, Spinervals 4.0 Muscle Breakdown
Thursday: 45 minute elliptical

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Recovery Day

Quads and hamstrings were hurting today, more than they did after my 18 miler two weeks ago. Weird. I guess my body just wasn't up for it yesterday. Funny how that happens. How do Pam Reed and Dean Karnazes do it?

I was up ridiculously late Saturday night writing but dragged myself out of bed around 10 am this morning anyway and soon after Dan left for the gym, I started slowly getting things set up for a spin session. Except -- oops -- the pump was in Dan's car and my rear tire was beyond questionable. It needed some air or I wasn't riding.

So I changed into "real" clothes and ran some errands that I had planned for after the workout. And since Dan was at the park by the time I finished up I went by and got the bike pump. Success! I put air in the tires and I was in business!

My knee did okay until the last half hour, when there were a few times when it acted like it wanted to lock up on me. It clicked a few times, but it wasn't painful. I'll be glad to get it looked at and in the meantime I'm trying to find the problem spot with the tennis ball but haven't been successful yet.

I'm not looking forward to this week. The internal auditor is coming on Tuesday and Thursday-- a three hour meeting each time to evaluate my department's compliance with business policies during the past fiscal year. Yuck. There are so many things I think he's going to find. Last year was a terrible one for me because I lost an assistant and was not allowed to re-hire, the assistant who remained was sick all the time and they changed departmental business practices on us, keeping me in meetings all the time and delaying a lot of our paperwork to where we were often out of university business compliance by the end of all the shenanigans. Oh, I'm going to have a lot of fun trying to explain all that to the auditors! I wonder if I should just submit my resignation now and get it over with.

But at least the worst of it will be over by mid-day Thursday. And then it's three days of mandated holiday cheer as I attend Christmas parties Thursday afternoon, Friday afternoon and mid-day the following Monday. Nothing like feeling you must attend to make you feel like celebrating!

Today's Workout
90 minute bike - Spinervals 5.0 Mental Toughness

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Run, Interrupted

Today was supposed to be the first of two 20+ mile runs in preparation for the marathon. My first plan was to wear my GPS and try some different routes, but it was so cloudy out that I decided not to risk an uncertain signal. So I stayed close to home, which turned out to be for the best.

I started with a run to Memorial Park. Usually it's very crowded and tries my patience, so I figured I'd do it first, while I was still fresh. As it turned out, it wasn't crowded after all. In fact, there was reduced runner activity on all my usual routes, due to the 30K being held Sunday in Sugar Land. I've often thought about doing that race, but have never heard anything good about it, so I've always skipped it.

I enjoyed my two loops at Memorial, then decided to run up Memorial Drive to Chimney Rock and thus spare myself having to do two loops later at the bayou. Halfway into the park-to-Chimney Rock part of the run, a coyote came running out of an empty lot ahead of me, crossed the busy road (narrowly escaping getting run over) and disappeared into the yard of a fancy home. A few seconds later, it came back. Then it crossed the street yet again and this time I didn't see it any more.

It was puzzling and a little disconcerting. I've seen coyotes in the evening in the park, but never at 9 am crossing a busy street in a pricey neighborhood. I sure hope no one is leaving small pets outside!

The Chimney Rock portion of the run went well and once I was back inside the 610 loop, I stopped at the Memorial Park picnic loop (where the cyclists ride) to use the restroom. I noticed that a trail has been newly asphalted nearby and the roof of the restroom building has been extended. (It used to be a semi-open design.) Unfortunately none of the improvements have included supplying soap to the restrooms, which is probably just as well since no one has fixed the sink faucets either, so you can't wash your hands anyway.

That meant I had to stop at the Shell station later to wash up.

From there I did an out-and-back to the River Oaks country club. That was nice, but I was starting to hurt. Calves were crampy, hamstrings were tight-- we all know the drill, right? But just before I got back to the bayou trails where I would do my last four miles, my right knee tightened up without warning. It was the same problem I've had off and on since August, but this time there was no warning, no cramp in my hip and down the outside of my leg, just a sudden tightening and pain in the knee. So I walked when I had to and ran when I could until I got to the trails and the bench by the first water fountain. I stretched and massaged the area for a few minutes, then had some water and decided to see what would happen if I tried to continue. I did okay at first, but now the other knee, feeling ignored I suppose, started tightening up. So I stopped and rubbed it, too. Dammit. I ran okay again for maybe an eight of a mile before the right knee tightened again.

I stopped. I could keep stopping to stretch and massage and probably find a way to finish the planned route, but was that really wise? What was I trying to prove? Who was I proving it to? Was it worth the possible cost?

I swallowed my pride and walked home.

Tonight the knee feels fine for walking and standing with the weight distributed evenly between both feet, but when I move my weight all to one foot, the knee hurts in a crampy sort of way. I don't think this is a true injury that has to keep me from the marathon, but after a good 18 miler just two weeks ago, it's a big disappointment. I thought I'd made so much progress! You can bet I'm telling my physical therapists about this! Good thing I'm already being treated-- I'm sure they can fix me up if I can just give them all the right info, and we still have over a month to work with.

There's plenty of time, but I'm starting to get nervous about all this.

Recent Workouts
Thursday: 45 minute elliptical
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 18 mile run, cut short from 22

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Bunny In A Box Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Bike Therapy

Wednesday was a much better day. Very busy, a few annoyances, but nothing too bad. It helped that my boss was out. It's easier to get things done without the boss.

Just think how productive our country would be if there were no bosses!

Oh, wait. I'm a boss, too.

Never mind.

Even though I got home late and hungry again tonight (physical therapy ran late), I forced myself to just have a small snack. Then I waited an hour, set up the bike and did a hard 45 minute spin session. I don't know if it was the music I used, the workout or both, but I felt great afterwards!

It's late and I haven't written a thing tonight, so I suppose I'll be up later than I would like, but that's okay. And I've got a lot to do tomorrow, but tonight I'm feeling like that will work out okay, too.

Thanks, everyone, for wishing this grumpy bunny well!

Today's Workouts
30 min core and legs (physical therapy)
45 min bike, Spinervals 7.0 Uphill grind

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Piling On

Okay, so we're into Day 2 of nuisance-level bad luck. While it is not to be confused with real, genuine bad luck, it's still a pain in the butt.

The boss was getting on my nerves again today, asking for lots of silly stuff ahead of an even sillier meeting. Ahem, exactly why do I have to keep reporting on project budgets that are no longer part of our department? And no, "We're doing it for OtherGuy," doesn't cut it. I've been in meetings with OtherGuy and he hates your reporting template, boss. Hate, hate, hate, you hear? He throws these reports in the trash. I've seen him do it! Just admit we're doing it because it gives you the illusion for a few more weeks that they didn't take the project away from you and give it to someone more competent.

Then around lunchtime I got a call from my other boss. We're usually friends, but today she pounced on me using her Angry Mommy Voice and asked a lot of rapid-fire questions about a contract I sent her last week. Not having a copy of it nearby, I couldn't answer her questions, so I simply asked what she was unhappy about, wrote everything down and said I'd fix it right away.

Feeling like a total idiot, I started on her laundry list. But I was puzzled. She was asking for documents I hadn't had to submit in years. She was asking about weird things. Time warp things. Who was crazy-- me or her?

I figured it was me until I went to the Contracts Office website looking for a particular document. I couldn't find the darn thing anywhere! I called the Contracts Office secretary, who laughed a tinkly little laugh and said, "Oh, that's not on the Frequently Used Documents list yet. Try looking third from the bottom on the 1999 docs list."

Uh, excuse me.... 1999?

As it turned out, the contracts forms and procedures had changed. Now, part of the blame for not noticing the change is mine. When you've clicked the same link for years, though, you sort of expect to keep getting the same document unless someone tells you otherwise. You don't expect that they will change the fine print because that's not the part you look at every time you fill out the form. You're thinking about the vendor name, product, dollar amount, etc. Not re-reading the fine print each time. But no, the fine print had changed and things had been taken out. Things I had to add back in by printing additional forms. From the 1999 docs list.


Well, at least I'm not crazy. And when I talked to the Contracts Guy for our area (who had made the same mistake I had and also gotten Angry Mommy mad at him), I suggested that maybe, just perhaps, he could maintain a list of current required addenda and email us whenever there's a change to documents and procedures. Just a thought!

Then when I got home I found that the cat had had diarrhea in the closet. Good job, Pix. So I cleaned that up and since he's been having intermittent problems of this nature for awhile now, it was off to the vet with him. $165 later they had no diagnosis and no recommendations. Don't you hate it when you spend money to find out nothing is wrong? It's such a dilemma-- I'm glad everything seems okay, but for $165 I at least want a few Latin-based medical terms to get thrown around, you know? Maybe some frowns and pondering? Or is that extra?

I got home late, hungry (hadn't eaten since 11:30) and in need of my athsma meds. And now that I've eaten and can breathe again, it's late enough that I'm not sure I'll digest my dinner in time to get a workout in.

That'll teach me to be too grumpy to work out yesterday. I should've gone for a run.

But my attitude was better today, so that's something. We're making progress!

Today's Workout
Cat Wrestling-- Small Pet Carrier Division

Monday, December 05, 2005

Just Another Tricky Day

Okay, I'll start by 'fessing up. I probably jinxed myself by expecting today to suck. And you know what? It did.

It was cold and windy out.

I was grumpy.

I'm totally stressing over the next two weeks, which include at least two three-hour meetings with the auditors and three mandatory office holiday parties, in addition to my usual round of meetings and appointments. I must bring food to one party, a gift to another and the third runs late and is hosted by one of the highest mucky-mucks at the university so I can't skip out early. You know, I like holiday parties and sharing as much as the next person, but once celebration becomes required, the magic is gone. It's just G O N E.

My day was broken into hard-to-manage time chunks by three meetings.

All the meetings required driving.

One only lasted fifteen minutes, after I went to the trouble to drive there, park and walk in the cold wind to the building where the meeting was being held. Fifteen minutes! And then another walk in the cold back to the car, etc.

The last meeting went past 5 pm. I work 7 am to 4 pm and was already unhappy that someone had scheduled me as a required attendee, even though that time block was marked "Out of Office" in Outlook. Now, I ask you, why bother putting my schedule in Outlook for all to see if people are going to schedule me anyway during times marked "unavailable?"

None of the three meetings I attended were in any way remotely useful, helpful or even interesting. They just used up time that I would've rather spent preparing for the audit.

My boss did and said some things that really pissed me off.

Driving home, I found I had a taillight out and my brake lights weren't working, although luckily we had a spare bulb and a spare fuse and Dan and I got everything working again after we got home. But that meant we spent an hour out in the carport, in the cold with flashlights frickin' around with stuff. Okay, at least we got it fixed, but I was soooooo hungry and cold!

I couldn't log onto anyone's blogspot blogs this evening.

The salad I had for dinner was wilty.

My cat is looking at me funny.

Yes, I'm grumpy.

And my attitude today was probably no help.

I'm going to do better tomorrow. I promise.

Today's Workout
Nothing. Too grumpy.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

'Tis the Season

I have done my first bit of holiday decorating!

On Thursday I got home late and found a UPS note on my door. I couldn't think what it might be, since I hadn't ordered anything recently. Hm. So I picked it up on Friday and it turned out to be a big square white box from a place called Winterworks. It was addressed to both me and Dan. My parents haven't discovered online shopping, have they? I got it inside and opened it up, with the assistance of a curious white rabbit who wanted to know more about that nice pine smell emanating from the box.

It was a wreath!

A nice big one, too!

I looked at the card inside and it was from my aunt and uncle in Connecticut. Hooray!

Isn't it great to get an unexpected gift?

I wanted to put it on my door, but didn't feel like looking for nails, so I took a picture off the wall in the hallway and put it there instead. I fluffed out the branches and voila! Instant Christmas!

I guess this means it's time to break out Tidbit's decorations for her cage. She likes to get into the holiday spirit, too. It's also getting about time to order her Christmas basket from Busy Bunny.

It's hard to feel like it's December when you can wear shorts outside, but we have a cool front moving through and that should help make it feel more like the holiday season. Also, the round of Christmas parties is beginning at work. The IT Managers' party includes a White Elephant gift exchange. Call me Scrooge, but I find those really annoying when they're not optional.

So it looks like between meetings, auditors and mandatory Christmas parties (gotta show my face and be a team player) I won't be getting much done this month. I know that's the sort of thing I'm supposed to be happy about, but I'm not.

Maybe one of those Christmas ghosts needs to come pay me a visit, hm?

Today's Workout
Sunday: 90 min bike, Spinervals 14.0 Totally Time Trial

Saturday, December 03, 2005


This weekend snuck up on me for some reason. Usually I'm looking for Friday by about Wednesday and this time it was here before I knew it.

I hope this happens more often!

It wasn't a particularly busy week, although I had my usual run of silly meetings, irritating phone calls and budget matters to ponder. I also got to prepare a contract. Ho-hum.

In physical therapy we're starting to work on my core. Yuck. They gave me a new exercise which, when done correctly, is pretty tiring if you do all the reps they ask for. And then they put you on a machine where you have to add balance to the drill and do it all over again. Yes, I'm hurting!

But they also did adjustments and a little massage work on me, which I promptly ruined by going for a run around the bayou. Smart, aren't I?

I did about fifteen miles this morning, a step back off my 18 miler last weekend. I thought this would be an easier run, but it wasn't. It wasn't my massage week and I've been slacking on my nightly stretching routine, so I guess I got what I deserved. I'll have to try to fit an appointment with Mary into my schedule this week because I'd like to do something between 18 and 20 next weekend.

I got an email from the Houston Marathon saying they're 75% full. I guess it's time to sign up!

Recent Workouts
Tuesday: 45 minute bike, Spinervals 3.0 Suffer-O-Rama
Wednesday: 5.5 mile run
Thursday: 45 minute elliptical, lots of core
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 15 mile run

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Holiday weekends are exhausting! Posted by Picasa

Sunday Run

Today's plan called for an eighteen mile run. It wasn't what I really felt like doing, but you don't get train for a marathon with a bunch of twelve-milers, right? So I started out with a bayou loop, feeling pretty good. Then I did an out and back to the River Oaks Country Club and got attacked by a butterfly as I passed the house with all the organic flowers and grasses out front. I must look pretty dangerous if I'm scaring the butterflies! Then I headed up Memorial Drive to Memorial Park, starting to feel a little crampy through my hamstrings. But I managed okay, did my loop, returned to the bayou park and did a reverse loop back home. The last few miles were not pleasant, but I held out okay. The weather was warm, partly sunny and breezy, and other than a few mud puddles from Saturday's downpours, the trails were clear. Best of all though, my hip didn't hurt!

That's right-- the hip that has caused me problems since August did not hurt!

I think we've made some biomechanical progress here!

Plenty of other things hurt, but only the things one would expect on an eighteen mile run. Honestly, I had been scared to take on this distance and half-expected that I would have to cut things short around fifteen. But this was a very solid run and I think I can go ahead and pay my marathon registration with confidence. I had been putting it off just in case I didn't make much progress with the physical therapy. But things are obviously moving along well. Thank goodness I've always responded well to medical treatment!

Let's see, how was the rest of my holiday weekend?

I managed to do two Thanksgiving dinners without overeating or disowning any family members.

Friday evening Dan and I went to see the Johnny Cash movie Walk the Line with some cycling buddies of ours. We went for a late dinner after and I played it safe with a salad.

Saturday it rained like heck and I did an hour on the bike followed by some core and upper body work.

Today was my eighteen-miler, followed by Indian buffet.

It's been a very nice holiday weekend: food, friends, family, exercise, naps, and I got a lot of writing done, too. I had meant to update my blog roll since I have so many new cyber tri-buddies, but I have a feeling I'm not going to get to it tonight, since I still have to iron, do a few things in the kitchen and write a page on my novel.

Well, considering how slow I'm moving tonight, Monday might have to be a rest day, so there's always tomorrow!

Recent Workouts
Saturday: 1 hour bike - Carmichael Training Systems video "Climbing"
Sunday: 18 mile run, 3 mile walk

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving! Posted by Picasa

Thanksgiving Run

I was woken up by the cat about fifteen minutes before my alarm was due to go off. Because it's a holiday and I'm supposed to be happy today, I decided to let him live.

I got in about 45 minutes of elliptical work in the gym before someone came in and decided to blast a TV at full volume. I guess it's because I haven't watched more than the occasional cable show for years that I can't stand network programming. It moves too fast, it's too loud and it makes me anxious. My world usually moves at a more thoughtful pace.

So I finished up my elliptical workout, trying to tune out the hyper-kinetic television, and then changed into running clothes. I headed out on the bayou loop, enjoying the sunny skies and warm weather. Songs from the previous night's show were running through my head, so I had a gospel accompaniment to my run. Not bad. Very peppy and motivating.

When I got to Sabine street, on a whim I decided to go downtown and check out the Thanksgiving Day parade. What fun! I marched in the parade four years in a row in high school band and had seen bits and pieces of the parade on TV sometimes but had never actually gone to see it in person. Is that lame, or what?

As it turned out, it was pretty hard to see much of anything beyond the bigger floats and balloons because of all the crowds. But I was able to move around and find spots where I could peer between people and see clowns, people on velocipedes, dancers, cheerleaders, etc. I especially enjoyed the bands, which brought back a lot of memories.

What wouldn't I and my high school friends have paid for a warm Thanksgiving parade? It seemed it was always cold, the wind whipping between the tall downtown buildings as if we were in a wind tunnel. Although I wasn't in the same boat with the woodwind players, trying to move stiff fingers across tiny keys, it still wasn't easy for me to perform with cold hands. I have a picture of me carrying the triple toms in the 1984 parade - my senior year. The picture sits on a bookshelf not three feet from my computer, and it's one of the few pictures of me I bother to display. (If I want to look at myself, that's what mirrors are for.) Anyone looking closely at the picture would see that I was holding my sticks in a strange way-- hands choked up higher than they should've been. That was because I was so cold I couldn't feel my fingers and I was scared of dropping a stick on the parade route. Drumsticks bounce on the drum heads and the key to fast sticking is learning to control the bounce. Numb hands are no help and those toms are so big and bulky that if you lose control of the bounce and drop a stick, it's gone. There's no way you can pick it up.

Anyway. So I watched the bands and made lots of mental notes. Baton twirlers seem to be back in style. Flag twirlers seem a little less popular than they used to be. I saw no rifle twirlers at all. The one drill team I saw wasn't very good. People in the crowd cheered when they stopped and did a brief high kick routine, but I wasn't impressed. My high school had one of the best drill teams in the state, one that a Rockette wouldn't have been embarrassed to have on her resume. We percussionists mocked them, but it was all cooler-than-thou bravado. We really did respect what they did and most of the time we even played the right cadences for them. With seven years of dance lessons under my belt, I probably respected the drill team most of all, although I was probably also a harsher critic because I knew enough to be able to notice the little things. They nearly always got those little things right though, much to their credit. If our band had been as disciplined as our drill team, we would've been state champions.

Wow. See what kind of memories can get dredged up when you take a little half mile detour from your running route?

I had gotten downtown late, near the end of the parade, so Santa's sleigh appeared just about the time I was starting to think it was best to get back out on the trails. So I headed back to the bayou park and finished my run, thinking of marching bands, turkey dinners to come, and still hearing gospel songs in my head.

Oh, happy day! Oh happy, happy day!

Happy day, indeed.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Today's Workouts
1 hour elliptical
6.5 mile run

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Gospel Christmas Thanksgiving

Tonight we went to the Ensemble Theater with one of Dan's friends from work. Joyce is a well-connected local actress and runs the box office at one of the university theaters, so when she said she could get us tickets to the preview of the Ensemble's annual Christmas show, we were pretty excited. Years ago when Dan was a theater major, the Ensemble was one of the places he worked lights, and for awhile it was one of his steadiest gigs. I really miss all the comp tickets we used to get!

So we went to check out the Ensemble's Christmas offering, "A Pure Gospel Christmas: Coming Home."

It sounded very promising to me because I like gospel music. And in this respect I sometimes wonder if the African American churches don't have a better grasp on Christianity than most other churches. After all, if you really believe all that good stuff about having your sins forgiven and getting to have everlasting life in a dandy place like Heaven, why wouldn't you want to clap, dance and sing about it?

Makes sense to me.

But I digress.

Even though it was a full house, it was obvious that this was just a preview and they were still ironing out the wrinkles in the program. Microphones weren't always set right, making some singers hard to hear. A few light cues were missed. The only child performer was nervous and it affected his first solo, although he relaxed as the evening wore on and I think with a couple more shows under his belt he'll do fine.

I thought the script was pretty heavy-handed at times in its church and family messages. Of course those are the messages I had expected to hear, but there were a few times when they brought in the backhoe for a job that could've been better done with a trowel, if you know what I mean.

On the positive side, there was a lot of talent up on stage and the sets and costuming were very nicely done. The music was great and had the audience swaying in their seats and clapping most of the evening. Some audience members were really getting into it toward the end, standing up, shouting "Praise God!" and "Let your light shine, brother!" in the way they do at the Black churches. And finally we were all standing, clapping, stomping our feet. It was so much fun.

After the show, Dan and I took Joyce to a late dinner at one of the downtown Vietnamese restaurants. It had been a long time since I'd had Vietnamese food and I had missed it. Joyce told us about a recent audition she did for the part of a nurse in the upcoming Andy Warhol movie, Factory Girl. If she gets the part, I'll mention it and if you see the movie you can keep an eye out for our kind theater ticket benefactress.

Recent Workouts
Monday: rest day - deep tissue work
Tuesday: 1 hour elliptical
Wednesday: does clapping and dancing count?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Product Review: Spinervals 13.0 Tough Love

This is the big one-- Coach Troy's three hour monster of a workout. I've wanted to try it ever since I heard it was in production and I finally got my chance today.

This workout was not without its false starts. I had a dickens of a time getting my DVD adaptor to work, and then I had some problems with my mp3 playlist on the computer. But finally all systems were go!

This video is quite a departure from the early Spinervals, which mainly consisted of short hard interval sets. Tough Love is all tempo work with no sets shorter than six minutes and two long sets of 30 and 20 minutes of non-stop pedaling, although the constant gear-changing helps a little with the OMG factor. On these longer sets, I chose to count songs rather than count minutes, and it turned out to be a pretty good strategy for me. Looking at the clock just makes things worse, sometimes.

Because I'm supposed to be in my cycling off-season and my legs weren't feeling too good today, I made no attempt to hit the cadences Troy asked for. Not that I usually can, but I typically push harder than I did. Even so, it was a tough workout. Like all Spinervals, of course, it's as tough as you want it to be, but even when you're not trying to push the pace, it's a killer by the time you get into the last 45 minutes. So near and yet so far! Troy says this video was designed to be part of an Ironman training plan and I can definitely see how if you try to hit the high cadences he demands and then go for a run afterwards, you'll be ready for an Ironman course. Okay, maybe not Lanzarote or Lake Placid (killer hills), but Florida or Wisconsin, no problem.

So if your Farmer's Almanac is predicting a lot of rainy days this spring or summer, go order you a copy of Tough Love! And for the love of God, don't plan on doing this video with the music. Play your own.

Today's Workouts
3 hour bike - Spinervals 13.0 Tough Love
3 mile walk

Weekend Run

Another rather unpleasant run.

This one stared well-- thirty minutes on the elliptical machine, zipping along at a comfortably aerobic 195 cadence. I felt so good I thought this boded well for my scheduled run.

But once I was on the trails, the normal pounding of running got to me in a way it doesn't usually. I ran on the grass as much as I could, which helped a little. The first bayou loop ended up okay, then I did a little out and back to the River Oaks Country Club. I think it was this all-concrete stretch of my run that put my legs in a grumpy mood because my second bayou loop was no fun at all, even on the grass.

Well, that's just how it goes sometimes. It's also a good reminder not to skimp on my massages. This week was my regular massage week but I've been unable to keep a standing appointment with Mary because of all the weirdness at work this fall. This was the first week it was a problem and I couldn't get in. I thought it wasn't that big a deal because my legs felt pretty good, but obviously my legs had a different idea about the matter after about mile 7.

I'll make sure to see Mary this week, no matter what.

In other news, due to some bureaucratic reshuffling at the office it looks like my workload might lighten up a bit, which would make it feasible to do lunchtime workouts and have a standing appointment with Mary every other week, like I used to. This week won't be much of a test because after Monday most of the big guns will be out for the Thanksgiving holiday and I'll end up with a light schedule by default. When the documents approval process has been shut down for every level above middle management (me) things get pretty quiet at the office. You can almost hear the crickets chirping.

A good time for a massage.

I better schedule that appointment with Mary! And maybe one with my hairdresser. I haven't been able to get in to see him either and I sure do need someone to do something with this mess.

Recent Workouts
Monday: 6 mile run
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 1:15 bike (Spinervals 14.0)
Thursday: 1 hour elliptical
Friday: rest
Saturday: 30 minute elliptical, 13 mile run

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Look! It's a book about me! Posted by Picasa
I'm a published writer now! Posted by Picasa
Author! Author! Posted by Picasa
What a great story! Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 14, 2005


After such a fabulous mid-week run, I was of course selected by the karma deities to have a difficult weekend.

I knew I was in trouble when I got out of bed Saturday morning. My quads hurt, my hips and lower back were tight… even my shoulders hurt. It was not going to be a fun morning. But I grabbed my towel, water bottle and a magazine and headed downstairs to do my hour on the elliptical trainer. I couldn't get my cadence over 186 without feeling like I was in a sprint and usually I can zip along in the high 190s. Oh well. We do what we can, right? I did 30 minutes, took a little walk break, tried another 30 minutes and was bored silly after 15. So I took another walk break, did my last 15 and was done with that portion of my modified marathon program.

I went back upstairs, played with the bunny for a few minutes (she's fascinated by my running shoes), grabbed my fuel belt and was off to the trails! Surely, I thought, running would prove to be a little easier than elliptical, if only from a psychological standpoint.

Surely not.

Every concrete-legged step felt like it was it was going to be my last. Nothing hurt, but I felt like I had woken up on the wrong planet-- one with a much bigger gravitational pull than my friendly Earth. But there was nothing to be done but clump along, slow and clumsy around the loop, hills and all. My original plan had been to do only one loop, then go up to Memorial Park and back, but I changed my mind and simply did the loop again in the opposite direction. Then I tacked on an extra mile so I could hit my mileage goal and went home.

Yuck. For such a beautiful fall day, that sure was a miserable run.

But I thought surely a nice icing session followed by a hot shower, massage and stretching session followed up with all my favorite menthol creams and gels plus a few supplements and a good night's sleep would fix me up for Sunday, right?

Surely not.

The next day I was hobbling around like someone had put tacks in my slippers. But hey, a little spin session always helps loosen things up, right?

So I set up the bike on the trainer, not without some difficulty because Dan had used it with his bike earlier in the week and now the settings were off. But I got that fixed and then thought I'd set up my DVD player and use my new Spinerval video. Well, somehow I neglected to make the mental connection that a TV manufactured in the early '90s just isn't equipped to work with a DVD player. Duh. Have I really had that little TV for so long? Where does the time go?

And since by now I was of no mind to move operations to the living room, I stayed low-tech and popped in a tape instead. I did a lot of slow steady spinning-- all my legs were willing to give me-- and tried to tell myself that it was good for me. And it probably was because even though I decided to call it a day after 90 minutes, I feel much better today. And I've ordered an adaptor for the DVD player, too. So it wasn't a loss by any stretch.

My favorite guy was working the massage booth at Central Market when I went to get some lunch after my spin session and he cleared up a lot of the problems in my neck and back, which helped me sleep a little better last night. He was even able to do some work on my hips in spite of the limitations of a standard chair massage.

I had a nice walk with Dan in the evening and finished off the weekend with a little writing and a half hour session of stretching and using the foam roller.

So here it is Monday and I feel pretty good. Not one hundred percent, but good enough to go out and see if I can ruin all this progress with a run later. We triathletes are a crazy bunch!

Recent Workouts
Saturday: 1 hour elliptical, 11 mile run
Sunday: 90 minute spin, 3 mile walk

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


We drive to the park trading yawns all the way. Darkness comes early now and in the orange glow of the streetlights the shadows of the trees sprawl in strange patterns across the trail. I do a few perfunctory stretches and begin my warmup walk. A sudden howl breaks the evening's stillness. Another joins it, then several more.

It's the coyotes. Alone they don't bother me but in packs, agitated over some perceived canine insult, they make me nervous.

I'm not the only one who feels this way. A man has been lounging on a bench talking to his girlfriend but how she drags him toward the car as he protests, "But it's only dogs!"

Three lanky young men lope past me. I can tell they're talking about the coyotes because one of them jokes, "I'll just stay in the middle."

I look around. No sign of the coyotes, but I can still hear them growling and baying at who knows what from behind the trees and brush.

But none of that is why I'm out here tonight. It's time to get down to business. I approach the quarter mile marker at a brisk walk and break into a slow jog. My legs feel fresh and springy. They want to run.

Patience. Wait.

My legs don't want to wait. They speed up. I don't have my watch but it feels too fast. Slow down.

My legs don't respond.

Okay. But don't go any faster. Not now. Wait.

The next quarter mile marker is ahead. Okay. Now!

And we take off. My pace feels light, quick, effortless, like this is what my body was born to do. Like I could do this all night, run forever across gravel punctuated by oddly cast shadows and dead autumn leaves. Only my lungs limit me. This hasn't happened in so long-- my legs running strong, surpassing my lungs' ability to give them the oxygen they need. This is what it feels like to have everything in alignment, the body working toward one purpose only-- forward motion.

After half a mile I slow down. Walk a few steps. Then a slow jog. Deep breaths. Almost immediately the legs want to go again and at the next marker they get their chance. I continue on around the looped trail like this, half a mile on, a quarter off. I fly past people who look far fitter and faster than I could possibly be. Why are they so slow tonight? I dart between walkers, people with children, people with dogs. I wonder if they're worried about the coyotes.

The last half-mile set. I have to make it count. I take off again, tired this time, but still nothing hurts except the things that are supposed to be hurting by now-- lungs burning, a little knot under my ribcage tightening into a cramp. Push on anyway. Nothing comes easy. You have to work for it.

Breathing too fast now. Breathe deeper, breathe slower but don't slack off on the pace. A tall blonde wants my part of the trail. She has that long easy gait that covers a lot of ground with very little effort. I can't compete with her on stride or grace, only on power. I ask my legs for a little more and they laugh and give it to me as if the tank is limitless. The rest of my body may be working hard, but my legs are having the time of their life, skimming over the ground like it's easy. Like it's always been easy. As if it always will be.

Light and quick, the ground rushes away behind me.

And the coyotes howl at the moonless night.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Still Life with Rabbit Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Tour de Doughnut

This was an interesting little ride. There was a 28 mile doughnut-eating race and a 55 mile organized ride, so the start had a good mix of amateurs and experienced riders. This led to a lot of boring PSAs about bike safety at the ride start and then a thirty minute delay while they waited for some of the fog to burn off. The fog wasn't really all that bad but I guess they figured with so many newbie riders focused on eating Krispy Kremes at every stop, they didn't want to take any chances.

I had an intermittent ache in my hip and thigh for the first fifteen miles and considered switching to the 28 mile route. But when I came upon the route split, I went toward the 55 without even thinking. I guess that solved that dilemma, didn't it?

It turned out to be a really good ride for me. There was a bad patch into some headwind on a rough road, but you kind of have to expect that sort of thing and it was only about ten miles. I've experienced worse. The rest stops on the 55 mile loop had no doughnuts which was kind of a rip-off, but I wasn't planning on eating any anyway, so I guess I have no grounds for complaint on that score. The skies were overcast for awhile and we had some misting rain, but otherwise the weather was nice, although a little warm and humid for this time of year.

I finished strong with a 17.3 average over the course-- not bad for me.

I had a minor misadventure in the parking lot afterwards when I managed to lose my keys and finally found them wedged under the hatch of my RX-7, sort of trapped in between the hatch and the frame. What an amazingly dumb thing to do! Well, at least when I do something stupid, it's creatively so. And I was able to release the hatch from a switch by the driver's seat, so it all worked out.

Unfortunately no post-ride nap for me! I was in a late meeting last Friday with a guy who is too important to be ignored but who only half-communicates so that whatever you bring him, it's not really what he wanted. He needed revised budget numbers and additional information on a few things by Monday morning and since I was late for a P/T appointment that Friday and my entire day Monday is going to be the equivalent of one long useless meeting, I had to do the work this weekend or suffer the consequences. So I took my lunch up to the office and was very productive. I was so productive in fact, that I'm half-tempted to see if I could re-work my schedule to have a half-day off during the week and work a half-day on the weekend.

I read a couple weeks ago that interruptions at work have an effect on concentration equal to a lowering of the IQ or smoking pot. Ha! I believe it! All the more reason to try to avoid the ringing telephone and all the people who drop by my office with their silly questions. Quit lowering my IQ!!!

No wonder I feel so stupid at the end of the workday.

So maybe a half-day on the weekend is the way to go. It would be the only time of the week I would have a chance to sit at my desk and feel smart!

Recent Workouts

Sunday: bike, 55 miles

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Pain and Pilates

Okay, so I thought pilates was kind of like an intense form of yoga or something. I went to Monday morning class, did everything the instructor did and paid for it with intensely sore abs through Thursday. Ouch. Well, I've been slacking a bit on my core work, so it wasn't a huge surprise. So I went again Friday morning and we did some of the same moves, plus some others we hadn't done Monday. This time I backed off a bit and didn't try to do all the more advanced moves. I thought I was being conservative.

Instead, pain and stiffness started settling in around early evening, in spite of my having gotten a massage, an adjustment and some Fun With Electrodes therapy. By bedtime I was so stiff I could barely stretch and was hoping desperately that I would feel better in the morning.

I didn't. But I finished my workout anyway. I had wanted to go a little longer, but managed to suffer through the same workout I did last weekend. It would have to be enough. With the Tour de Doughnut on my Sunday schedule, I couldn't afford to run myself into hopelessly intractable knots. Just about everyone with a bike in my little circle is going to be riding on Sunday and I don't want to get dropped, no matter how good my excuse.

I babied my legs after my run and they seem to have responded well to all the ice, stretching and massage. We'll see how the morning bike ride goes. I have a feeling it's not going to be one of my easier rides, but I've been looking forward to this one for awhile and it's the next to last local ride before winter, so I'm going and if it's a sufferfest, so be it.

My treatments are coming along nicely, although I haven't been able to schedule all of it yet-- there's two parts to my plan and only so many hours in a day. I've been completely slammed at work, so badly that I'm going to have to do some time at the office after my Sunday ride, so when am I supposed to find time for extra treatments? But I'm also not sure that I can even pay for all of this. $30 co-pays add up fast. I was only a couple months from having my credit card paid off, too. Isn't that always the way of it? Just when you think you're about to finally get in the clear, something happens.

But there is hope! I've noticed that the place I've been going offers gift cards. I'm torn. Ask my parents for a gift card for Christmas and hope they don't screw it up? Knowing them, they'll just buy me a new comforter or something. Or should I lie in wait outside the establishment, jump people and take their gift cards? Hm. Decisions, decisions….

But seriously, I'm going to do whatever I need to do and if this fixes things once and for all, it will have been worth it. You can't put a price on a healthy body. It's crazy what even a couple of weeks can accomplish in repairing biomechanics. I can feel the difference when I run, but the change is most noticeable on the bike. My right knee used to drift in toward my top tube, no matter what I did. Now I get equal power from both legs without even trying.

Yes, once my body gets used to all these changes, I think I'll get a little free speed. But the real benefit will be long term. I refuse to grow up to be one of those old ladies who can barely totter around the house. Whatever I have to do now will be worth it.

Recent Workouts

Monday: Pilates, 45 minute elliptical
Tuesday: Speedwork, 10 x 400
Wednesday: Bike, Spinervals 2.0 Time Trial Special
Thursday: 4 mile run
Friday: Pilates (ouch!)
Saturday: 1 hour elliptical, 9 mile run

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Boo! Happy Halloween! Posted by Picasa

My Achy Breaky Back

If I had thought I could cut back on my appointments with Mary to help pay for my physical therapy, I was wildly mistaken. Stupid me. Getting things put back in their proper alignment and training them to stay there is causing muscles I didn't even know I had to whine, tighten up and just plain hurt! It's like now I go out for a run and my glutes and adductors say, "Hey, what's with the pelvis? It used to be over there and now… ?"

Muscles don't like change. My cat is rather the same way, but I can't lock my muscles in another room when they start to annoy me. Too bad. It might teach them a lesson.

Nevertheless, progress is being made and I've been told that there's no reason not to keep training for a January marathon. Since I've had to back off my training these past two weeks, I'm feeling a little cynical, but anything can happen and I know I just need to relax and trust my body to adapt to treatment.

I'll be talking to the orthopedic surgeon on Monday about my x-rays and we'll see what comes out of that conversation. I'm always a little hesitant to talk to surgeons because their answer to problems is… surgery. I think we're way too eager to cut people open in this country and I'll need a lot of convincing before I go that route anytime before my sixties, if then. One thing I've always been able to count on is my body's rapid response to non-invasive treatment. If the damage to my hip can be stabilized or even partially reversed, me and my DNA are totally up to the task.

In the meantime I'm anxious to get the MRI referral approved and see what those pictures look like. That should clear up a lot of matters. I've been given overly pessimistic diagnoses before based on x-rays, so my mental focus for the present is on getting my biomechanics corrected so we can limit further damage. I'm barely restraining panic at forty treatments at $30 co-pay apiece, just when I was only a couple months away from getting the credit card paid off and resuming student loan payments. But what can one do? As I pointed out to a friend, if this had been caught ten years ago, it would've cost me a lot less than it's costing now. If I let it go another ten years, it will cost me even more than today.

Such is life. A constant little treadmill of earn and spend.

In more chipper news, I've revamped my training schedule. Key features include morning pilates and weight training classes, a Monday yoga option, daily swim or pool running options and no more naps. I've loved being able to take a daily nap, but I'm getting home later now because of the PT sessions and Dan is going to bed earlier, which locks me into an inconvenient enforced quiet time. So I’m going to experiment for a couple of weeks with this new schedule and see how it goes. I think it will increase my flexibility in training options, which is precisely what I need right now, when I can't be sure on any given day just what kind of workout I'll be up for. If after a 2-3 week trial run I find I just can't adapt, I can always go back to the old schedule, right?

Well, it's late and I'm feeling snackish. If you haven't tried the new Clif Nectar bars, check them out! Good stuff!

Recent Workouts
Tuesday: 10 x 400
Wednesday: 35 minutes elliptical
Thursday: weights
Friday: rest
Saturday: 1 hour elliptical, 30 minutes treadmill, 6 mile run

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

New shoes? Posted by Picasa
Better than shoes-- apples from Grandpa! Posted by Picasa
Thanks, Grandpa! Posted by Picasa

X-Rays and OMG

I went for my first physical therapy consultation on Tuesday. I was anxious to get started, so it wasn't easy to hold back and submit to x-rays and various range of motion tests. This was a simple problem, right? Give me some stretches and exercises and let's be on our way!

But no, they didn't do anything to start my treatment. Instead they took x-rays, requested a $30 co-pay and told me to return the next day. I was annoyed, since they obviously weren't going to find a soft tissue injury on an x-ray. But okay, we'll play the game your way and see what happens.

I returned today and was ushered into a tiny consult room that had my x-rays on a darkened viewing screen. I was asked to sit, watch a video and wait for the doctor. The video was all about the hows and whys of chiropractic care. Now, I'm not entirely against chiropractic therapy, but I don't think it does nearly as much as its most devoted proponents and practitioners claim. I also think that it's nearly useless if it's not done in conjunction with massage and physical therapy, to prevent recurrence of problems. I've met responsible chiropractors as well as those who just want to keep you coming back and dropping money, so I'm always on my guard when someone starts talking about the wonders of spinal adjustments.

So I watched the video distractedly, wondering if I'd made a terrible mistake in choosing this particular place, this particular doctor. I had chosen her because she was ART-certified, but maybe I should've gone back to the guy I saw two years ago, who would've had me doing things with elastic bands by now.

The video ended. Still no sign of the doc. I was bored out of my skull in that tiny room, so I decided to flick the switch for the x-ray screen and take a look at my pics.


There it was, so obvious that even this pre-med dropout could tell at a glance what was wrong-- bone loss and joint degeneration in the right hip socket.

I nearly jumped out of my skin! Where was the doctor? I needed to talk to someone about this RIGHT NOW! I peeked out the door. Someone who obviously didn't work there was chatting about the Astros with an aide in the hallway. Grr. Shut up, people! The Astros are toast and I've got a REAL problem here!

I spent what seemed like forever in that room, alternately squirming in my seat, pacing around and staring at my x-rays in shock. The one of my neck looked pretty bad too-- no curve to the upper spinal column. No wonder I always have headaches and tight shoulders. But I've learned to live with that. This hip, though… When will someone come and TALK to me???

Well, finally the doc came and I pounced on her, insisting we cut to the chase and talk about what the heck is up with this right hip. She confirmed what needed no confirmation, that the x-ray showed signs of joint deterioration and she said she was going to get me a referral for an MRI. Based on the result of that, a talk with an orthopedic surgeon may or may not be necessary.

Okay, okay, I know a guy who does Ironman on a DuPont hip, so even in the unlikely event that this is a worst-case scenario, we're still okay here, and better to have caught it now than later, collapsed on the road with a pelvic fracture during a marathon or something. Since I didn't even start having localized pain in the hip socket area until a couple months ago, I'm feeling optimistic. It's quite likely that the x-ray looks more serious than it is due to the weird angle caused by the misaligned pelvis. That's what I'm hoping, at any rate.

But… damn, how did such a thing happen? Running didn't do this. My weekly mileage is low and I substitute joint-saving elliptical sessions for a lot of my scheduled runs. Strong bones and joints run in both sides of my family. Hell, even my cavities recalcify, so there's nothing intrinsically weak about my body.

You don't get problems like this x-ray is showing after only five years of training. This is a problem that was decades in the making. I think it was those seven years of ballet classes as a kid which twisted my knees, which altered my Q-angle on one side, which made one leg functionally shorter than the other for most of my life. I don't remember a time when I didn't have a pop in my right hip. It had to have been those ballet classes and all my childhood efforts to achieve perfect turnout in spite of the fact my body was never designed for it.

On a positive note, the doctor pointed to things she could fix within a very short period of time, such as my rotated pelvis. She can fix that with some spinal manipulation followed up with physical therapy. It will get rid of the lubar-sacral pain I've had for awhile and take pressure off the hip, relieving that pain as well. And as a bonus she promised she could restore a normal curvature to my neck, which would cure my chronic headaches and tightness through the shoulders. Well, that would be nice. I bet it would help my swimming, too.

We had a long chat about treatment plans and goals and she did a couple of adjustments and some electrotherapy on my pelvic area. That sonic boom you heard around 5:30 pm, Central time, was my neck getting adjusted. I can look up a little bit now. Would you believe I haven't been able to throw my head back and look up at the sky in… oh, I don't know how long? It's been so long that I had come to think it was normal.

So the moral of this little tale is to withhold your skepticism if someone wants to do a bunch of tests before starting you on even the most basic physical therapy regimen. The problem you think you have may just be a symptom of something quite different.

Recent Workouts
Monday: rest
Tuesday: speedwork: 10 x 400
Wednesday: 35 minutes elliptical

Monday, October 24, 2005

Low-Volume Weekend

With my hip and IT band no longer aching, I decided to keep the volume low this weekend and just take things easy until I could see the PT. So Saturday morning I did an hour on the elliptical trainer followed by an hour on the bayou trails. Other than some asthma, I felt pretty good, but I didn't want to push my luck so I didn't let myself get tempted to run longer.

Sunday I went for a bike ride with Dan and his friend Neal. I almost didn't go because I was so short of breath in the morning. Stupid fall allergies! I went up to the maximum on all my meds and tossed back two cups of super-extra-strong coffee. By the time Neal arrived I practically needed to be scraped off the ceiling and I was needing go to the bathroom every ten minutes, but hey, my lungs were clearing and that's what mattered.

We drove to Tom Bass Park in Pearland and followed part of the route used by the annual winter West University Warm-Up ride. As far as routes go, it's pretty good except for the last ten miles, which is through a busy business area and along a freeway.

It was a beautiful day to be out riding-- sunny and cool as if the weather gods had suddenly remembered us after all and decided to give us a little taste of what people in other climes take for granted before the gray rainy days of winter set in. Dan hadn't ridden since the little 31-miler we did on the Fourth of July, so I was surprised when at mile 17 we turned into a headwind and he picked up the pace. Call me crazy, but my ride philosophy is to not go sprinting into headwinds until the last 10-20 miles of a ride, when I know I've got plenty in the tank to see it through to the end. But Neal seemed to think Dan was issuing some sort of a challenge and I finally got irritated with both of them for turning up the volume so early like that. I was even more annoyed when we turned out of the wind and they both slowed down to 16. What was that all about? So I passed them, cruised a few miles at a comfortable 19-20 mph and waited for them at the store that marks the halfway point.

I stuck with the guys for a little bit after that because I wasn't completely certain of the route, but once we were on the long straightaway that would take us almost to the park entrance, I went out on my own again. We were back into the wind at this point and still fifteen miles to go, so I settled in for a long dull session of battling gusts, watching for road kill and waiting for the overpass that would mark the entrance into the dangerous business district.

Once beyond the overpass I slowed down because there were more cars to watch out for and the shoulder quality wasn't as good-- lots of bumps, gravel and debris. I also wanted to give the guys a chance to catch up. And finally Neal sprinted up to my shoulder and told me to pull over at the next gas station. I looked behind me and yes, Dan was back there, but I knew something must not be right if we were stopping now, with only about seven miles to go.

As it turned out he was exhausted and had a nasty hamstring cramp.

And that, gentle reader, is why it is a bad idea to sprint into a headwind at mile 17.

I followed Dan for a couple miles after we left the gas station, just to make sure he was going to be okay. But once we were out of the business district and onto the feeder road with the park just a few miles up, I pulled ahead of him. Neal and I had a good hard ride the rest of the way to the park in the increasingly blustery morning and Dan hung in not far back. He's lucky to have so much natural talent on the bike. I can train and train and train and he can still match or come close to what I can do with no training whatsoever. It would be discouraging if I were the sort to look at it in that light.

We had a nice rest of the day. I bought us some deli food from Central Market, we took a nap, we went for an evening walk at Memorial Park and watched a movie. I would've liked to have done more marathon-specific training this past weekend, but I've succeeded in loosening my hip up a little bit (it makes fancy popping sounds now) and I just keep reminding myself that training myself into a ruptured tendon isn't going to help matters.

So why do I feel like such a slacker?

Recent Workouts
Saturday: 1 hour elliptical, 1 hour run
Sunday: 50 mile bike, 3 mile walk

Friday, October 21, 2005

Doctor Thinks I'm Smart

I'm not too happy with the way this hip-ITB thing is progressing. I think it's related to my sore lower back (sacroiliac area). But which problem is causing the other is not for my un-MD'd brain to figure out.

I went to see Mary on Tuesday and she fixed me up pretty good, but there's only so far a massage can take you sometimes. Even a good one. A short run and an elliptical session later and I'm sitting here at the office with an aching hip again, wondering how far I should run this weekend, or if I should even run at all.

So I looked up some PTs online, checking that they were on my insurance and that they were close to home. I picked a first and second choice, then called my doctor's office. I explained everything to the nurse, making sure to use all the correct doctor-speak that I learned in Physiology class. I also reminded her that my doctor had referred me for physical therapy in the past. I said that I would be happy to come in if the doctor didn't want to refer me directly, but could she please check?

Well, miracle of miracles, an hour later and here's my referral coming over the fax machine! And I can go to my first choice PT, just a few blocks from home. Hooray! My doctor has always treated me like I'm pretty savvy and this confirms her confidence in me.

The last time I had physical therapy (for my Q-angle), the PT had noticed some pelvic instability but we hadn't been able to get approval for treatment at that time. So now I can get the whole thing fixed. Even though I will probably have to back off my marathon training plan a bit, I have a feeling I'll get a little free speed and endurance out of this.

Houston Marathon, here I come!

Recent Workouts
Wednesday: Speedwork, 6 x 800
Thursday: 45 minute elliptical, plyometrics

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Luke's Locker/Koala Health & Wellness 20K

Doing a bike ride and a run back to back sure highlights the simplicity of running. It took me half an hour and a sherpa-load of stuff to get out the door for yesterday's bike ride. This morning took 15 minutes and one little plastic bag. Yes, there's a reason I often balk at going on bike rides. I can be out the door and done with a run in the time it takes just to deal with all the stupid bike gear!

Okay, so I was up at 5:45 am, after going to bed around 2:00 because I was waiting up for Dan, who had gone Tejano-clubbing with his professor and classmates as part of a music appreciation assignment. (It's a Tejano music class.) Even without much sleep, my legs felt a little better than they had the night before. Not really springy, but not like concrete weights, either. So that was good.

I had to circle a couple of times before finding a place to park downtown, only to find that the box to put your money in wanted $6 instead of the formerly-ubiquitous $5. I had a $5 but no ones! Luckily I was able to get some quarters and I was in business. I tried to give my savior her choice of Hammer Gel flavors as trade, but she wouldn’t hear of it. Thanks, girlfriend! May your good deed this morning come back to you a hundred-fold!

I now had about 45 minutes until the race start at 7:00, so I walked the few blocks to pick up my chip, tied it to my shoe, then wandered into a hotel to use the restroom. The hotel staff were being very nice not to kick us all out. I made sure to wipe down the wet counters in the restroom, and I hope everyone else was similarly conscientious so we will be welcome again next year. Heck, I'll wipe down their floors in addition to their counters if it means I don't have to use one of those disgusting port-a-potties!

It was still about 20 minutes to gun time, so I wandered back to the car, applied a little body glide where it would do the most good and applied a heavy coating of menthol cream to my knees and IT bands. Now that I was all set, I made my way toward the start, getting there just in time for the announcements, which were mercifully short. Then came the national anthem, which I did not help sing because my nation deserves better.

And then we were off!

I can't really say much about the race because it was pretty uneventful for me. The hardest part was just holding myself back because I really wanted this to be a training run, not something I pushed hard on. With as many crampy spots in my hips and knees lately and my history of anterior tibialis tendonitis during marathon training, not to mention my history of injuries on this race, I just wanted to do a nice, steady pace, not too easy, not too hard. But that's so difficult to do when people all around you are excited and testing their limits! The announcers keep calling lower and lower minute per mile times at each mile marker and it's hard to pull back and not just go for it. I got a little help in my determination to take things easy when my hip started nagging at me around mile ten. It wasn't painful so much as it was just giving me the odd little whisper and nudge, as if to say, "Hey, remember me? I'm still here!"

Yeah, thanks.

But by that point the race was almost over. I picked up my pace very slightly on the last mile and a half and called it a day. I wanted to laugh when a volunteer at chip removal wanted to know if I could lift my foot high enough to set it on an upturned bucket so she could clip the plastic tie. I guess a lot of people really did run hard today if she was asking that question! Then again, I heard a lot of huffing and puffing in the first few miles. That always worries me. I have to bite my tongue not to turn and point out that if you're struggling at the 5K point, SLOW DOWN!

After I got my chip removed, I got my bottle of water, found the shirt tent, got a size small (hooray!) and signed up for a massage. The line at the massage tent moved quickly but that was because the complimentary massages were so short-- only about five minutes. I don't even know if it really helped much.

I wandered around the post-race area for a little longer, hoping to see some friends of mine who I'd seen out on the course, but I couldn't find them. No big deal. It was 9:30 and time to go home. I went by the finish line on my way toward the car and helped cheer a few of the back of the packers in. Funny, but their time wasn't much better than my first 20K time, four years ago. What a difference a few years of training and experience can make!

I'm satisfied with my time of 1:54. It's not great, but it's about where I wanted it to be under the circumstances. I rode hard yesterday and I'm still recovering from last weekend's 17-miler and hip/ITB debacle, so a 9:12 pace over 12.4 miles is quite acceptable.

What a busy weekend! I'm a total slug for months and don't sign up for a single thing and then I go do an organized ride and a race in the same weekend. I guess we don't do anything in moderation in this sport, do we?

I'll be back to my usual slacker self next weekend, though!

And I'll end this post by congratulating Shelley on her Ironman Kona finish and Nancy on her Baltimore Marathon! You ladies rock!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Riding for Literacy

Read all about it!

Bike the Bend for Literacy is a nice little ride out of Richmond, Texas, Fort Bend County. I did it last year when they held it at the end of August and in spite of the late summer heat, I liked it. It wasn't one of my planned bike rides for this season because they moved it to the same day as the Goliad ride. But since Dan had too much going on for a weekend in Goliad to be practical, the Ride for Literacy was a nice alternative.

The ride started from the Technical Building at Wharton Junior College. It's a good place for a small ride like this-- lots of parking, a big clean building with no long lines for late registration, packet pickup or restrooms, and a table of bagels, fruit, gels and water set up outside in the shade. The shirts were pretty cool and there were some nice goodies in the swag bag, including samples of a joint and muscle cream called Bio-Freeze and some Energice, which I've been wanting to try. Energice is a gel that can be eaten room temp, but they recommend you freeze it and eat it like a Popsicle. Good idea for here in the South! Too bad summer's over, but I checked my calendar and it looks like we'll have summer again next year, so I'm holding onto these Energice samples!

We got a late start because there was an accident on the route and the cops asked the race director to hold us up a bit, but we finally got started around 8:15.

Because it was a small ride I had no trouble seeding myself toward the front along with the other riders doing the metric century, ahead of the slowpokes who were just out there for the scenery, but behind the serious speedsters. We had gone just over a mile when we got stopped by a train, and it was a long one! Luckily it was also moving at a pretty good clip, so we didn't have to wait too long.

The ride took us through nice horse country, cotton fields, and some attractive neighborhoods. The ride signage was excellent and the rest stops were frequent and fully stocked. There were also enough big gas stations on the route that if you really wanted a flush toilet and hand washing facilities, you could have them. Yes, I took advantage of this.

For the first half of the ride, the winds were moderate and mostly at our backs. So of course that meant that we'd have headwinds after awhile, and sure enough about an hour and a half into the ride, the winds started picking up and by the time we were on the popular Fulshear-Simonton route, we were in for some long, slow stretches with either headwind or gusting crosswinds. Yuck. I suppose I could've done some drafting, but I really don't like to do that because it will only spoil me for triathlon.

The last 15 miles were the worst, as my abs and the muscles around my knees started protesting all the activity. Yes, I've been lazy on my ab and knee work for a few weeks and now that I've started up again, everything's a little sore. No big deal at the office, but one tends to notice these things out on the road.

Luckily that last 15 miles is nothing on a psychological level, so it was just a matter of holding on to the finish. Around mile 50 someone told me the course was measured long and to expect it to be 65 and not 62 miles, but it actually came out to about 61.5. Back at the parking lot, I slathered one of my Bio-Freeze samples around my knees and on my lower back, which has been hurting a lot since I got lazy on my ab work. Let me tell you, that Bio-Freeze is good stuff! By the time I got home I felt great!

In fact, I felt so good I went and did late registration for the 20K race tomorrow!

Uh, yeah. Now I'm wondering if that was such a good idea. My legs feel pretty heavy tonight, and even though I hadn't intended to actually race the 20K, I'm wondering if it's really what I should be doing at all. It's been a jinx race for me in the past, always leading to some sort of injury.

So we'll see how things go tomorrow. I'm not racing. I'm really, really not. It's just that I was going to run 12 miles anyway, and since the race goes past my house and over part of the route I was going to run anyway, it seemed silly not to sign up. I will, however, take full advantage of the post-run massages tomorrow. No matter how long I have to wait.

Recent Workouts
Monday: 45 minutes elliptical
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 4 x 1 mile speedwork, total mileage 5.25
Thursday: 15 minues elliptical, 30 minutes run, easy pace
Friday: rest