That feeling when my face almost caves in...

I had that "sinus infection is coming" feeling today.  I felt like I had a rock in my forehead.  The conversation at work went like this:

Me - My face feels like it's going to cave in.
Boss - Are you going to go home?
Me - I'm going to go for a run.  Running will help.

Qat Lady would want you all to know that running makes your sinuses dilate (get bigger).  Therefore, all the crap falls out of them and no longer continues to hurt my face.

I did this route which I'm calling "hills lite".  I made it about a mile shorter than my normal route and took out the hill I affectionately call "mama bear".  I did Papa Bear and Baby Bear with this route. 

For new running music, I accidentally found a group called "the New Pornographers".  Has anyone ever heard of them?  Chump Change and The Laws Have Changed are a couple good songs (although I make no promises about the video)


Thanksgiving: In pictures

Advice from the state of Indiana at a Tollway Oasis on 1-90. Whatever.

There was a black lab puppy (Luna) who entertained everyone this weekend.  She was very sweet and playful but also appropriately not excitable around the boatload of kids that came and went over the weekend.  She was learning to jump when I was there but still falling off the couch with hilarious frequency.
My game playing partner.  She's that happy all the time.  I assure you.  We played Skip Bo, Head Bandz and Jenga.  I channeled the Qat Lady's competitiveness during Jenga and only lost once.
Wish I'd never see that iPad because now I want one badly.  It was a fun toy. I especially liked playing family feud on it.  The web browsing experience is also far superior to any other mobile device I've used.
All the aunties and uncles talking to Brian and Allison (remember them?) and their new baby.  Congrats guys!
Seen in Aunt Joanie's kitchen. 

No Thanksgiving is complete without tons of food and some great wine.  Aunt Joanie doesn't like red wine so she gives it to company (here, finish this bottle).  Thanksgiving dinner itself is all the classics plus eggplant parmesean for my vegetarian cousin and lasagna for all the Italians.

A shopper passed out in the Macy's home section on Black Friday.  Weakling!  (Black Friday is always such and adventure!)

 And then Ragnar sent this to me on Facebook!  What's up?  I know what you did on Thursday too. 

Thanksgiving - the long drive home

6:00am EST I woke up.  (The time zones = relevant.)
6:30am EST I departed from Ft Wayne.  The first few miles were on a small county road.  In the dark.  In the rain.  It blew.  I had one stop in Indiana for gas, probably around 8:00.
Sometime later - I arrive in Illinois and suddenly it's an hour earlier.  I took the beltways around Chicago.  Everyone - the tolls are going up January 1st. 
Wisconsin state line - what the %$&* is up with this?  Did every driver on the road today miss the drivers ed lesson about the passing lane?  Go away.  Over 50% of the license plates I saw in Wisconsin were from Minnesota for cars. 
Shortly before 12pm CST - I stop at exit 69 (easy to remember) at the Pilot-Wendy's for some food.  Two seconds later, I walk back out, get in my car and go through the drive through.  Not one but TWO Mega Bus buses had just stopped there and the lines inside were insane.  I did not get to pee.
3:00 or so CST - I cannot believe I made the drive that fast.  Thrilled to be home.

Shopping - Day One and Day Too Many

Black Friday is always a big deal, just as much about people watching as getting good prices.  It's something of a tradition though.  You can see the reports from 2010 and 2009 for reference.

We hit the mall around 7:30.  Aunt Joanie elected me to drive.  Later in the morning Dad, Uncle Joe, Devin and Kris joined us.  Mom got me some early gifts at Macy's (since I forgot my gift certificates!?!) but we didn't do too much other damage.  In the afternoon the boys went home and we ventured away from the mall and hit smaller strip malls with stores like Stein Mart and Dick's.  Dick's is my favorite.  Nike - why so expensive?  Around 3:30pm the three of simultaneously died so we called it quits.

We came home and had leftover Turkey and lasagna (lasagna!) and then headed to Kris' movie theater to watch Peggy Sue Got Married.  I was unimpressed with the movie.  Sorry.

Shopping: Day Two Too Many:  Aunt Joanie wanted to go out again today to an outdoor mall that we almost went to yesterday.  I did serious damage in Bath and Body Works (I know have soap for the next couple years) and helped Mom get some gifts for Dad.  Then we went to Bed Bath and Beyond where I got an early Christmas gift of a stock pot with pasta insert.  I also got a new bath mat to match my new shower curtain.

After shopping Mom and Dad headed home and I sacked out on the couch.  We watched some football, basketball, and played some games (Jenga and Headbandz).  I'm looking forward to trying out my new toys, and thinking about all the soup and broth I can make now! 

My own "Turkey Trot"

Also known as Why can't my phone just work right?

I tried out a new workout today.  Since the last marathon was so bad, and apparently I'm doing another one next year (ask me about Dublin), I decided I needed a new strategy.  I read up on the Galloway method and decided to give it a try today.  I wanted a long Turkey-burner run, around 8 miles.  I haven't run that far at once since the marathon. 

Last night I downloaded the RunKeeper app, the only app I've found that let's me program intervals into it.  I played around a little bit last night and then headed out this morning.

Phone - oh this damn phone.  When any app that uses GPS runs with any other app, particularly apps that play music, everything freaks out.  Sometimes the music player pauses.  Sometimes a new music app will just open (besides the one I was using).  Sometimes it opens a new playlist.  But the most frequent problem is the phone just restarts while I'm running.  Annoying!  I think it's related to the GPS because every once in a while when I have just GPS the phone does the same thing.

The run - The run itself was actually very nice.  I do not feel like I ran eight miles this morning so that whole "your legs recover while you're moving" thing must be a little bit true. 
 My aunt and uncle live in a subdivision out in the country.  The big main roads are definitely not runner friendly.  Obviously there are no sidewalks out here but there is no shoulder on the roads either.  So I stayed in the subdivision where the speed limit is at least posted as 19mph.  (The cars don't go that slow, but they do go slow-ish and there were only a couple cars in the subdivision.)
As you can see, I wasn't too concerned about pace.  That time also includes an, um, "stop" around mile 4.  (Glad to know my stomach issues are still with me.  Also glad there are woods here!)  I ran 5 minutes and walked 2 minutes as my 'interval'.  I liked the idea and liked that the app on my phone told me when to stop and start.  (Before the phone freaked out and restarted.)  Sadly, I can't use my phone in the next marathon because I'll be in Europe, and I can't use my phone on all my long runs because the battery won't last so I might need to practice this with a watch instead.  (I'm looking for an excuse to get a Garmin...)  I liked the running and walking.  I'm hopeful it will make long runs more manageable (meaning I'm not up the whole night before dreading them).  We'll see.


The Turkey was awesome.  We made "fat free" gravy which means me and Aunt Mary had to sit there with a baster and suck all the oil off the top of the turkey juice from the pan.  Then the bottom "good stuff" was used for the gravy.  I had a ton of gravy over the turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing.  I also had sweet potato casserole.  Food I plan to have as leftovers but didn't try during the main meal include lasagna, creamed corn, apple sauce, and homemade pasta sauce.  Yum!

Shopping - I almost convinced Aunt Joanie that we should hit Macy's at Midnight but alas, I failed in my resolve.  Our plan is to leave tomorrow at 7am and hit the mall.  There's not a lot of shopping energy this year so we'll see how we do.

PS - This is my 1500th post!!!


New 'running log' and (hopefully) losing more weight

Here's a look at the one I used for the 2010 Twin Cities Marathon.  The one I used for 2011 was pretty similar only I kept a weekly average of my weight as well.  For Dublin 2012 (oy), I'm changing it up. 

I'm breaking my 'miles' down into running, walking and elliptical.  For the past three years I've done all three kinds of workouts and counted them towards my miles.  Because of the heat this summer, the elliptical played a big role in some of my longer mileage.  (I think that hurt me in the end.)

I'm also tracking my cross training, something I've tried before and failed at miserably.  It helps this year that I have a cross training plan (it's called Circuit Class and Pilates).  I'm tracking the type of cross training and the minutes of cross training.

In addition to my weight, I'm tracking my calories on this log too.  I tracked my calories in my 2010 training for almost the entire training.  I lost about 15 pounds and plateaued my weight loss right around the taper for Twin Cities Marathon.  I don't know if I can really make myself track calories for the next year (literally).  I am going to see how long I can make it work.

Calorie-counting: I'm back on the bandwagon.  For those of you who haven't tried calorie counting, here's my thoughts (and why I decided to try it again)

On the positive side:
  • A calorie is a calorie.  100 calories of bacon is not judged different than 100 calories from a banana.  No "you can't eat that".  Only portion control.
  • I found some really good, lower-ish calorie foods the first time I tried this.
  • It helped me understand what I was eating and what filled me up for a lower 'calorie cost'
  • It helped me understand if I took a second helping or splurged on potato chips, just how bad (or not that bad) the damage really was going to be.
On the challenges side:
  • When I cook at home, I have to measure and weigh everything.  (Go buy a kitchen scale.)  Putting butter on toast?  Measure it.  Pouring cream in your coffee?  Use a measuring spoon.
  • It's impossible to accurately count calories when someone else cooks for you.  To make it work I try to breakdown the ingredients I'm eating.  It works for things like sandwiches (two pieces of wheat bread, 4 slides of turkey breast, etc) but not so much for things like "sweet potato casserole" where everything's all as one and I can't see the recipe.  Sometimes I just have to guess
  • It's impossible to accurately count calories at restaurants.  Most of the bigger chains do have their calorie information online, but the little local restaurants around here - not so much.
  • It's hard to count calories of snacks and fingerfoods I eat throughout my day.  (Some people would use this as a tool to stop eating that crap.  Whatever.)

For those of you still interested in calorie counting, there's a few ways to do it.  The "old fashioned way" of just writing everything down on paper is always a possibility.  Write what you eat, how many calories and do math.  For those of you with internet, smart phones and ipods:

  • Lose It is my personal favorite calorie counting app.  It started as an iPhone/iPod app and has moved over to Android as well.  There's a webpage you can visit if you want to see the pretty graphs on a normal size screen.
  • My Fitness Pal is pretty popular. I tried it and would have liked it but I was already married to Lose It and didn't want to re-enter my entire food and recipe library into a new program.  I became a beta tester for the Android version of Lose It to avoid that issue.
  • The Daily Plate (from LiveStrong) is another popular app that some friends have tried.  I've never used the app but I have searched the site when I needed calorie counts for things like "sushi rolls" and other random foods.

if by "two inches of snow" you meant "ice everywhere"

Saturday was the first measurable snow of the year.  It topped out around two inches at my place and I just stayed inside all day.  (And taught Dad how to use Skype!)

When I finally emerged from my cocoon this morning, there was snow covering some things but really a lot of ice.  On the sidewalk.  In my parking lot.  In the road.  I saw a plow/salt truck driving by but it wasn't salting or sanding anything.  Boo. I was thinking if Minneapolis looks this bad, I wonder how St Paul is doing.

Once I got my bearings and remembered how to drive in this crap, I headed over to my farmer's market - Holiday Market edition because it will truly be the last time I get awesome bacon until next May 20 when the farmer's market opens for real.  (Stupid short growing season in Minnesota.)

I decided to try to hardboil the remaining eggs I purchased from the co-op this week.  I can't remember the last time I've even tried to make hardboiled eggs.  For some reason, I always screw it up.  I'll refer you back to this post as a reminder that I'm generally a good cook but some processes elude me.  I don't know how this batch turned out.  I'm hoping they will be my food for Wednesday when I'll need all the protein I can get.

I spent a fair chunk of the day updating my 'running log'. (What else was I going to do?  All my sports teams lost and I finished my book yesterday.) 
If you're keeping track 'my teams' playing today were the Bengals (Cincinnati), the Vikings (Minnesota) and The Purple Aces (Evansville) whom I track because my cousin is a coach there.
I keep a speadsheet of my workouts, mostly becuase I need something to tell me how many miles I need to run each week, how many miles is my long run, and how many weeks to the marathon.  I was having a hard time finding a way to reflect my new and improved cross training routine (thanks to Circuit, Pilates and High Intensity Water Running).  My plan is to record minutes of cross training and type of cross training.  I also want to get back on the weight-loss bandwagon so I wanted a way to track weight and calories.  It looks good for day one.
Here's what it looks like for week one, day one.  Not all the boxes are filled in because I'm not quite to the point where I can post how many calories I've eaten today and how much I weight. 

Marathon - yes, I've picked a new marathon and also volunteered to lead a trip to get there?!?  (Honestly I had to pick a race or designing my new workout spreadsheet would've been for nothing.)  Ask me about Dublin people!

Sadly, even Facebook recognizes how hard it is to winter train.  Thanks Nike Running. 
To begin my new marathon training (remember when I swore I was done with this), I headed over to the gym for some 'speed work'.  I did a "pyramid interval".  I ran 2 laps, walked 1 (we'll call it 'recovery'), ran 3 and walked 1, ran 4 and walked 1, ran 5 and walked 1, then 4 and 1, 3 and 1, 2 and 1.  6 laps is a mile at my gym.  (Yes, our indoor track is that big).
 As always, higher means "faster" not uphill.

I had some really good running music to get me through the workout.  The better the beat, the more I liked the songs.  Here were some of my favorites in the rotation today:

  • O.A.R. - HeavenI don't wanna go to heaven if I can't get in.
  • Rihanna - S and M(I am done linking to that video.  Just listen to the song instead.)
  • Fatboy Slim - Praise YouWe've come a long long way together.  I always imagine my shoes and my iPod when I hear that line.


Heat: maybe so, maybe no?

The heat in my condo building and the two attached to it is not working?  Working?  Semi-stable?  There was something about a broken pipe, the something more about jackhammering of the floor.  A neighbor said I shouldn't have heat in my condo, but I do.  (I hope I'm not breaking anything.)

I did "high intensity water running" at the Y again this morning.  The class was mercifully way less crowded than last time.  And I worked a little harder, so I felt like it was even more of a workout.

I'm getting my winter running songs together.  (We assume I'll start running again eventually.)  I found a list of favorite workout songs and decided to look for new music.  Kudos to the list-makers because this is a very eclectic mix of songs.  There were a few I already knew, most I didn't.  Some of the ones I didn't know but want to try out are:

What I learned from listening to all these songs on YouTube is that it's annoying when directors use all this time to setup the story of the video before actually starting the song.  Whatever.  The song should speak for itself.  Just play the music.


In which I am the least supportive coworker ever

Today was generally frustrating.  Let's say there was a situation.  I had a solution.  A third party blamed my solution for causing the problem.  Quantum mechanics were not involved.

The Qat Lady stopped by to celebrate her clinical being complete (thank god).  Her last day of clinical was at a place where I knew a staff person.  I was all "tell Stephanie I say hi" and told Qat Lady how nice Stephanie is to work with.   Qat Lady shows up at my office (across the street from her clinical site) and says "Stephanie had the same reaction about you".  Very nice!

Then, all of a sudden, one of my coworkers turns white, gets lightheaded and starts throwing up.  So coworker number two and supervisor are all concerned, and being supportive.  I, on the other hand, heard retching, shut my door, and turned the music up all the way.  (Yes, see how nice I can be.)  When I came out of hiding a while later I could smell the sick and saw supervisor walking around with cleaning gear.  Apparently, sick coworker got more sick. Then coworker number two had what I'll call a sympathy puke.  (I'm so glad my door was shut for all the mayhem.)
I'm not saying who did what, but these are some of my coworkers.  For an explanation of the outfits, read here

At the end of the day I hit the streets with Team:Work.  Go and buy a reflective vest please.  Here's the one I use. I had originally planned a run up the hill, becuase both people who came tonight like that route, but one person needed a shorter route because she had a late meeting.  So we saw the neighborhood instead.
 This route is about 3.5 miles, but because of doubling back I did just over 4 miles tonight. The people from Team:Work tonight were walkers so I used the opportunity for a speed workout.  I ran until it was time to turn on a different street.  Instead of turning, I ran back to the walkers, then walked with them until after each turn.  That way we never got too far away from each other and we all got the workout we wanted.
The green line is my speed.  It was all over the place, but the 'speed running' bursts are faster than I normally go, mostly around 10:00 miles.

Also, ask me about Dublin!


Running on my weekend

Friday was apparently everyone's day off.  (Thank you, veterans, for your service.)  I headed to the lake in the late morning for a run.  Whoa circuit training and Pilates must be paying off becuase I don't normally run that fast.

The first mile includes waiting for a walk like at Cedar Avenue.  The fourth mile (the only other one over 11:00) includes walking for a minute or two when I heard my time after the third mile and panicked a little bit.

It was a gorgeous day at the lake, so I made sure to take some pictures before heading home.

Saturday I had all kinds of plans.  I got up and ran with Beth.  I hadn't seen Beth since a brief moment two weeks ago when she ran by and gave me her gloves at the Monster Dash.  We discussed my prize for being the most organized friend *first friend to register* for the Dreidel Dash.  I also got to hear all about her family and planning for a Bar Mitzvah.  (Congratulations.)

The rest of my plans (Pilates; a walk; grocery shopping; cooking; laundry) were put on hold when I got one of the most impressive (read: miserable) headaches of my life.  It didn't start out as a migraine although that came eventually.
You know in cartoons when Wile E Coyote goes up into the church bell and then Road Runner dongs the bell, how Wile E Coyote's whole body vibrates with the bell, in a most painful manner.  That's how my head felt.  Throbbing.  All freaking day.  I took strong medicine which helped marginally at first but much more when the night wore on.

Sunday I woke up and was thrilled to find my head stopped vibrating and the migraine was mostly gone.  I had a bowl of granola and then like two hours later was starving again.   I got too used to eating eggs and bacon for breakfast apparently.

I did the grocery shopping today.  And the cooking.  I was in the mood for greens (I have no explanation) and was also in the mood for stuff that didn't necessarily have to be frozen.  (Not all things freeze well.  It limits my lunch options.)  I perused the internet and finally decided on Couscous, Lentil and Arugula Salad and Asian Slaw with Tofu and Shitake Mushrooms.  Because I can't leave a good thing alone, I altered both recipes.  (No tomatoes!)  The second recipe, I actually boiled chicken legs and threw the chicken in with the tofu.  This is more for me becuase when I take this to work for lunch I need more protein than soy alone can provide.  (My body laughs at soy.)  I also wound up with some stock from the chicken and bones so I'll use that for something sooner or later.

As a bonus to my weekend, my Co op had Passion Fruit, possibly the best food ever in life and almost impossible to find in Minnesota.  Ever.


Circuit and Pilates and Water Sports. Oh my!

 In honor of the 'post marathon slump'... I'm still not running.  I have somewhat gotten back on the exercise bandwagon though.

I got my introduction to the killer workout that is circuit training last Saturday when my neighbor tried to kill me with a circuit class at her boxing gym.  Monday, I went to the circuit class at my YWCA.  In some ways it was easier. (Read: no burpees!)  In some ways the class was harder.  Mostly because this class is seventy five minutes and boxing-gym class was fifty minutes.  I had a really nice time and I think I'll incorporate it into my routine.
Burpees are from the devil.  

My favorite 'station' was the box jump.  I realized that I'm still a gymnast at heart because I can't even think about jumping without swinging my arms in a complete circle.  (You know what I'm talking about.)  I noticed I had an easier time with the box jump, probably because I did know how to swing my arms.

Pilates is right after the Circuit Class, and a couple people just stay for both.  (That's actually how I found out about Circuit to start with.)  I've really liked Pilates so far.  I learned that to do two classes in a row I probably need a long sleeve shirt for pilates and I definitely need to bring clean socks to put on after pilates so I don't have to put on the sweaty ones from circuit again.
I so hate this exercise.  Maybe one day I'll be really good at it and then I will love it.

'High Intensity Water Running' is a new class the Y is trying out.  It was quite popular this morning.  I'm hoping it won't be as crowded next week.  We all agreed there wasn't enough room.
The person who teaches it is a runner and it's billed as a way to 'get miles' without the pounding.  I liked it but couldn't really tell if I got a good workout or not.  Usually I can tell I had a good run by how exhausted I am; not the case with anything in the water.  I think I'll try it at least one more time.  Is it wrong to hope some of the other people aren't back next week?


An impromptu reunion

I woke up this morning unable to move after yesterday's double dose of workouts.  Wow.  Circuit training apparently needs to be part of my life.

First thing I did was reset my bedroom clock, and alarm, and sleep for another hour. 

I had a breakfast date with my former roommate from Semester at Sea and her sister.  Holly was in town from Milwaukee and her sister came up from Tennessee to spend some quality time at the Mall of America.  (You know who lives right by there?)  The mall opens later on Sundays so we had plenty of time for a nice breakfast at Marias.  I still knew Holly well enough to recommend the hot chocolate.  (It is really good there, and worth it for those who aren't big on coffee.)

Then we headed over to the Sculpture Garden
This is the Spoon Bridge, sort of the landmark of Minneapolis.  (St Louis has an arch, San Fransisco has a bridge, this is our thing.)  I think Holly and I both have almost the same hair as we did 10 years ago.  Apparently we have similar fashion tastes too.  

You've seen pictures of the sculpture garden on this blog before.  You've also seen former Semester at Sea people here and here.

Post marathon slump - part two

I did okay after the marathon and kept running and working out.  Turns out my natural slump is three or four weeks later.  And I'm basically okay with it.  (I did work pretty hard to get in marathon shape.  I've earned a break.)  The slump doesn't usually last long.  Normally by Thanksgiving, I'm back to running 6 or 7 miles in the morning.

Today, in order to break the slump, Neighbor Mia wanted to take me to a "core class" at her gym.  Turns out "core class" means "circuit class" and anyone whose ever been to a circuit class knows that really translates too "this class will kick your butt, even if you can run a marathon".  Add on to it, this is a circuit class in a boxing gym.  So yeah, I was pretty much dead.  It was a very challenging class and a good workout.

It got me thinking about doing a circuit class at my gym.  There is one that starts around 6pm on Mondays, before Pilates.  That'd be a long workout, but I could do it.  Then I saw there's a "water running" class in the pool on Wednesdays and I thought that would be good too.

Mia also wanted to try out Pilates at my gym, so I brought her along.  It was actually a really big class today.  (This is why we get places early.)  It was a nice class, totally different from circuit training, but also a good workout.

I heard from a friend who is in town for some fun at the mall of America.  I reminded her that I live very close to the mall so we worked out a time to get together tomorrow.

Then, I caught the cleaning bug.  I'd been looking at my shelves for a while, thinking the desk-like shelves really no longer served a purpose and should just go away.  For a refresher, I had a 'desk' situation as part of my wire shelving when I was in grad school and had this great old computer.  (And by "great old computer" I mean "POS".)
 Oh Toshiba...  Anyways.

The shelving was just useless and taking up space.  Taking apart the shelving requires an engineering degree and My Pooky Bear.  But the pieces I wanted to take off were actually easier to get at.  (Read - I didn't have to move the television.)  So I gave it a go.
 Here's another view of the old setup.  I have the computer on, and I actually had speakers "mounted" on the wall.  (Mounted means hanging on stick-on hooks that will surely rip off paint when removed.)
Here's roughly what the shelving looked like before I started the remodel process.  I'd already taken things off the top shelves before realizing I should document this in case I really did need Pooky Bear's help to get stuff back together.
When you see the entire shelving unit up close, it makes sense why I had to remove the two shelves over the television in order to remove those lower, seemingly unrelated shelves on the right.  This is why you need an engineering degree for these shelves.
 The finished product, before I put everything back on the shelves. 
 And the truly finished product, complete with guitars, speakers, blankets and pictures.

I cannot believe I took those shelves apart today.  That is what we call impulse cleaning.  I did some more impulse cleaning and my place looks pretty good.

The Qat Lady and I had originally made plans to have lots and lots of wine at her place tonight.  Sadly her school work got in the way and she suggested dinner instead.  We wound up at Cafe Biaggio where I'd never been.  We had a bottle of wine, some excellent food, and a lovely relaxed evening.