Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Side planks: an oddity.

I'm supposed to be doing side planks (chiro says it's good for me and my running) so I've been doing them--holding each side until exhaustion.  Well, I wasn't timing it or paying much attention really... just plankin' away and going to my mental happy place to avoid thinking about how hard planks are.  Today he told me to start timing them, so I did.

Get this, I can hold a side plank for a minute and 15 seconds on my right side, and only 27 seconds on my left side.  What the what?

He said 60 seconds would be my goal, and told me that when I reach 60 seconds we'll have to make planks harder.   Wth do I do now, now that I know that I'm this uneven?? Just stop doing planks on the strong side?  I guess I'll have to wait to see what he says.

This is starting to all come together.  I mean, I put 16 more lbs on my right foot vs. the left one... right side I can hold a plank more than double left side... right hip is the one that's effed up and hurty...  right ankle is one that slightly overpronates... maybe if I can balance out these muscles some stuff will get fixed and future problems prevented.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Run recap

Am I glad I got out there in spite of the temps: yes.
Should I stop my bitching and whining now? yes.  sorry guys.  There was a point when I felt like I had something to prove and I'd be out there running even if there was a freaking hurricane, blizzard, -11 degrees, whatever.  Somewhere along the way I just kinda feel like I don't have anything to prove any more (maybe the marathon made me feel badass enough?  I don't know).  So I fully admit that I'm not as badass of a runner as a lot of the runners I run with, because I *will* either wuss out and rearrange my running schedule if it's TOO too cold or else complain about it miserably.  Ha.

I only did 5 instead of the 10ish I should have done, but I could no longer feel my butt and the girl I was running with was doing 5 so... I made excuses.  I might do a longer run tomorrow.

It wasn't snowing or anything but my eyelashes, eyebrows, and hair froze (see above photo).  I probably would've been a walking ice-woman had I done my full 10 miles.  The first 2 miles were rough as I was worried about one of my toes that I couldn't feel, but then I got some circulation goin' and felt pretty solid for the rest of the run.

Running in negative temps...

... is not really my thing.  It's -3F right now (actual temp, not windchill) and I have to go lead another pacer run.  Maybe signing up for this was a terrible idea, cus I have to subscribe to other peoples' insanity instead of doing what I normally do for a run (no way would I run right now... I've done a run when it was -11F before and it was terrible!!!)

Such is life I guess.  Maybe I'm just really really stressed (true fact) and tired (also true).  Can't wait to get home and get back in bed for a little bit before tackling all of this crap I have to do.  For now, time to man up I guess.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

So, what I've REALLY been up to...

I've been a terrible running slacker for the most part for the past couple of weeks... between the cold weather and the Los Angeles trip and then coming back and feelin' lazy... meh.  I've been running maybe 3 days a week, and my hip is killing me again (blah).

Anyway, I haven't been TOTALLY lazy.  Get this.  I met a guy who owns a bouldering gym (!) and this gym is only 4 blocks from my apartment (!!!).  So I've been rock climbing my face off.  It's a co-op gym, where people pay a fee and then get a key and can go climb anytime they feel like it.  This guy's been letting me go for free, and he put up a few easier problems for me to work on.  The people there are super-cool... it's mostly guys in my age group (I have yet to see a girl there, but there are at least 7 of them who are members), and lots of them are grad students of various kinds (some med students).  The owner is really talented and designs and makes his own climbing holds, and sells them across the country.  He and the other climbers there are incredibly strong badasses.  I have witnessed some unbelievable feats of strength and maneuvering and am very jealous.

Omg though, rock climbing is so awesome.   Talk about stumbling into a hidden-away secret of a gym, and right by my apartment, too.  It's in an old garage with no signs on it or anything so you'd never know it's there.  And it's a really, really good gym... tons of walls, and they're changing the holds out all of the time so it's always new and different.  The floor's covered with old mattresses and these pads you can drag around for underneath spots you want more padding in case you drop off.

The first few times my arms were absolutely blasted afterward... like to the point where I could hardly grip anything.  I think I'm already getting a little bit stronger, but now the limiting factor is the skin on my hands--it's raw, and ouch.  Hopefully this will turn into callouses soon.  Last night I went climbing from like 1130 - 1:00am (yes that late...after an evening nap I was wide awake) and I had to stop before my arms were fully tired because my hands were a wreck.  I seem to have a blister in addition to the raw spots.  Blah... I want to climb more!

So I'm obsessed with building some upper body strength and learning more about some climbing maneuvers and getting better at this.  It's an incredible workout and uses your legs and abs too.

Somehow I have to balance this with running and not just do my usual thing in which I become totally obsessed with some new feat of awesomeness at the expense of all others.  Heh.  But I ran Saturday and yesterday and I'm about to head out now... and tomorrow night is the thursday group I'm still runnin'.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pace Group Leading, & "Four things"

So I headed out to Dublin (a Columbus suburb) this morning for my first time at being a pace group leader!  It was a ridiculously early morning, and the wind is SO COLD out there in Dublin--there are no buildings or trees to block it, it's just this cement wonderland of a suburb.  I'm supposed to be pacing 10:30 and these two women who already knew each other were going to run with me.  There was a pretty large group running an 11:00 pace and about 4 people running the 10:00 pace.  We started running and these women who were going to run 10:30 were going pretty fast... my watch had us at around 9:15 for the entire first mile.  I don't know if since I'm pacing I'm supposed to point out "oh hey we're going a full minute and 15 seconds too fast" or what--they seemed to be experienced runners and had their own garmins and seemed to know they were running that fast, so I just kept my mouth shut and eventually dropped off the back.  Oddly, I wasn't feeling that tired at that pace... I just didn't feel like doing it (lazy).  So I ended up running with the 10:00 pace group, some really friendly people, and it was a good time. But a very cold run.  And, I only did 5.  I guess if there's no one who wants to run 10:30 I'm off the hook?  Still getting a sense of how this works...

Hopefully the pace group leader thing is going to get a little more comfortable as I get to know more people.
As a fun little non-running aside, I was tagged by Alison over @Physically Philosophical to do this little 4 things meme.  So, here are my answers!

Four TV shows I watch
Hell's Kitchen
Millionaire Matchmaker
Man vs. Wild
Reno 911! reruns

Four things I'm passionate about

environmentalist causes
being the best damn teacher and mentor I can be

Four words/phrases that I use too much

I know right?
for what it's worth..

Four things I've learned from the past

choice is more powerful than circumstance
there's something valuable to learn from even the worst experiences
i can do things i didn't think i would ever be able to do
hindsight is always clearer.

Four things I'm looking forward to

finishing grad school
summer weather!
having an apartment with a dishwasher!
some job security

Four things I love about winter

(this is a tough one cus I flippin' hate winter!)
feeling extra badass on runs while others sit inside or use a dreadmill
eating soup
kitty is more snuggly, and she loves the winter sun through the window (in summer the trees block it).  Happy kitty= happy me.  Here she is lovin' some sunshine:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Trail Run + City Run

In the past two weeks I've had two new "firsts" as a runner: 1) I did my very first long trail run; and 2) I did my first run in a serious urban environment.  I've done some runs around cities and parts of cities--Columbus Marathon started in downtown Columbus, I ran around Louisville, I ran around DC... but downtown Los Angeles took it to the next level.

So first, the trail run.  For a long time I've avoided trails because I dislike the amount of attention it takes to run on a trail; it always seems to me that you have to be constantly watching the ground and alert so you don't wrench your ankle on something.  And, well, I like the mindless monotony of plodding along on a nice flat paved road.  But one of my running buds is getting into trail running pretty seriously and she invited me along on a run she was doing at Darby Creek Metro Park just outside of Columbus--the photo here is taken from the park's website.  We headed out around 330, and boy was it cold--what a day for a run.  But the trails there were beautiful:  one of the better parks I've seen around here.  There were some hills, and parts of the trail go alongside Darby Creek.  We did 7 miles through the woods and then did our last 4ish on this out and back flat trail.  Well, in theory it was a flat trail, but what it really was is a packed limestone path that had recently thawed and refrozen with deep footprints and bike tire tracks--it was a terrible running surface, and we'd thought this was going to be the easy finish to our more difficult woods running.  It took a lot of attention and also got increasingly freezing cold and dark; we ended up making our planned 13 mile run into a just-over-11-miles run so we wouldn't get locked into the park.  All in all, though, I would say that this trail run was a great experience and I'm not adverse to doing more trail running.  I do only have road shoes and no trail shoes, though, but it seemed fine in road shoes.  I was worried about the little air pocket thingies in the heels of my shoes getting punctured, but they were fine.  This run overall made me feel pretty badass and awesome.

Then, Friday and Saturday this weekend I was in Los Angeles for a conference.  At one point on Saturday to combat stress I threw on running clothes and went for a little short 3 miler around downtown LA.  The notable thing about this run--and why I'm considering it my first "serious" urban run--is that my garmin would not get consistent reception due to the tall buildings.  I turned off the auto-pause so it would stop pausing constantly, but I really have no idea if the distance it measured was accurate or not because it kept losing reception.  I don't know how city-runners do it.  Also, I don't know how city-runners get any kind of steady running in at all, as there are so many street crossings and such.  For awhile I was doing a stoplight run, where at each corner I'd just turn whichever direction had a walk signal, but I started to get worried that I was going to get all turned around and confused so I nixed that plan.  I had a contingency plan in case I got lost--I put a credit card in my sports bra in case I had to take a cab back or something, because I had a limited time to run and a very important place to be 2 hours later--but I was able to find my way back.  Also, on this run I saw a taxi accident and the ensuing craziness of ambulances and fire trucks shortly thereafter.  Yikes.

As a side note, Los Angeles was nothing like I expected; I didn't really have time for sightseeing since I was there for such a short time, but it seemed very sprawling and spread out, and when my flight got in I was shocked by how brown the sky was... so much pollution.  And the downtown area seemed kinda dirty and ick.  My experience of San Francisco was very different than my Los Angeles experience... I can say that I think I'd live in San Francisco (in spite of how cold it seemed there), but probably wouldn't live in Los Angeles.  Maybe there are better parts of the city that I didn't see, though.  I didn't get to do the Hollywood tourist thing, and I didn't make it to the ocean.  I did, however, see the very very tiny Hollywood sign from my hotel window (not my photo, but pretty much it looked like this, just a bit smaller!)

Facts are facts, and I really like my little flat paved bike path in Columbus where I run.  I guess I'm a bit spoiled as it's kind of the best of both worlds... a flat even surface that goes through woods and parks and along a river, and down by the city if I want to run in that direction.  And no cars.  But the trail run was nice.  I'd do it again.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Green curry is the BEST.

Confession:  I have a huuuge obsession with Thai green curry.  There's a restaurant around here called Bamboo Cafe that had some of the best green curry I've ever had.  And Sam and I once made this killer homemade green curry.  That stuff was so good, but a TON of prep work and it totally trashes your kitchen. Also the smell lingers forever... my ex insists that his coat this winter still smells like curry from when he came inside my apartment last year after I'd made it (he's prone to over-dramatization so somehow I have trouble believing curry smell lingers for a full year... but it does stick around for awhile).

Anyway, let's get real... there's not always time to make a really involved dinner and also I'm poor and also I'm lazy.  But I've found a way to make a perfectly satisfactory green curry quickly and on a budget.

Why is this relevant to running?  Well, I don't know really, but the new year may bring some vegan food posts as well.  But it's sort of relevant because people constantly rave about the positive benefits of coconut products (coconut oil, more specifically) for endurance athletes--Brendan Brazier puts coconut oil in a lot of his sports drinks/recovery drinks, for instance.  And coconut water is good for hydration--better than sports drink.   Coconut milk apparently has its advantages as well, and there's a can of it in most green curries.  So if I wanna engage in some green-curry gluttony I'm not going to feel too bad about it.  I also buy the lower fat coconut milk.  And for the record, coconut is pretty much my favorite smell and favorite flavor of anything.

Enter the magic:  this stuff.  I've bought a jar of the red curry paste before and hated it, but I think that's just because I hate red curry (how someone can hate red curry but love green curry, I have no idea, buuuut... yeah).  It's $2.50 at my local grocery store  and it's also clearly labeled vegan

Here is what you do to create deliciousness:
A grain of your choosing (brown rice, quinoa) or some rice noodles
1 package tofu
1 14-oz can coconut milk (i used lowfat)
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. agave nectar or some other sweetener
This magical jar of curry paste--you will use 1-3 Tbsp.
vegetables that might be good in curry (I used a package of baby bella mushrooms, cut into quarters, a red bell pepper, and arugula--I know, weird)
1 or more hot peppers (I used a serrano but it wasn't hot enough for my liking)
fresh cilantro or basil if you wanna feel fancy

  • Start making brown rice, quinoa, noodles, or whatever you want.
  • Sautee the tofu in a large skillet in either coconut oil (if you keep the temp low) or olive oil.  
  • When the tofu looks slightly brown, add the mushrooms and any other veggies you're putting in that you don't want to be hard and crunchy.  I kept my peppers out until the end because I like them crunchy.
  • Pour in the coconut milk and add the curry paste, soy sauce, hot pepper, and sweetener--let it simmer for a bit (10 mins?)  Taste it and see if you want to add more curry paste or sweetener.
  • Add the rest of the veggies and stir.
  • Serve it up!  I put brown rice in the bowl, then a big pile of arugula and poured the curry over it so the arugula would wilt.
For coming sort-of from a jar, this is really good.  It's not as potent as the fresh stuff we made, and it doesn't have that subtle heat-building effect that the curry from Bamboo Garden has... but the flavor is nice.  Man, I love green curry.

In unfortunate news at this very moment after writing this post, I just realized that while the ingredients are normal, innocuous, and seemingly not heavily processed, the sodium content on my beloved curry paste is through the roof... 550mg for 1 Tbsp.  If you put one Tbsp in and then eat half of what it makes, I guess that leaves you around 225mg, which still isn't great. I just put 2.5 Tbsp in mine so I'll probably have a sodium-related coronary tonight now.  In the future I think I'll stick with 1 Tbsp and then add some of my own fresh ginger to pump up the flavor.  For how rarely I eat sodium-filled packaged foods, though, now and then probably isn't going to kill me.

Make curry!  It's awesome.