Keto Week 3: Sea Change

I’m almost through my third week of keto and while I’m starting to actually feel the fatigue of depleted glycogen stores, I’m still doing really well. I have a lot of energy to do my workouts each day, which is what I was originally concerned about. But it seems that my body still knows and understands the routine so I just soak up the endorphins and ride it out. The fatigue sets in later in the day after the endorphins wear off, and boy is it a doozy. My dinner this week is a baked zucchini casserole made with eggs (of course) and cheese, and all it requires me to do is cut a slice and heat it up in the microwave. Yet when I get home from work I don’t even want to do that. I just want to take off my pants and bra and sit in silence until bedtime. I was supposed to kick-start an evening cardio routine this week but instead I’m letting my body have its moment and postponing that activity until next week. Right now I’m just kind of listening to the signals it’s sending me.

This week’s menu has a modest number of eggs in it – frittata for breakfast, deviled eggs for one of the snacks, and then of course the eggs in the zucchini casserole. I’m working hard to not hate eggs but right now it’s all I can do to get the deviled eggs down. I think I just don’t want deviled eggs anymore. The frittata and casserole aren’t bothering me, but the deviled eggs? I gag as I eat them. Dammit. Which means I need to start reviewing the rest of my meal plan and see if I can modify all the instances where deviled eggs appear. At this point I’m willing to try anything because another six weeks of gagging on eggs does not sound appealing.

One thing that appeared on this week’s menu that’s giving me serious nostalgia are ham & pickle wraps. Basically it’s a thin piece of ham smeared with cream cheese and wrapped around a dill pickle. When I was a kid, this sort of thing was a staple, except that mom used bologna instead and cut them into little “pinwheels.” I would actually take them to school for lunch sometimes, even though the other kids made fun of me for it. Whatever. Y’all didn’t know the joy of all those flavors rolled up into tiny little packages of creamy salty tangy joy. The more adult version of this is cream cheese and pepperoncini wrapped in slices of salami. Same concept, just a different vibe. So if you’ve enjoyed those, DON’T JUDGE. Needless to say, I’m enjoying my morning snack this week. Next week is similar except with asparagus and roast beef in place of pickles and ham. Who knew something so simple could bring so much happiness to my week?

Today I had my regular gyno checkup with my new doctor and it was fabulous. She encouraged me to keep doing what I’m doing which is a nice change from my PCP who seems to not really have much of an idea about things like bedside manner or the human body. One thing we did talk about was the extreme shifts in mood I’ve been experiencing since I switched from my oral contraceptive to the IUD. I always experienced a little bit of a mood shift when I was on the pill but nothing like I’ve dealt with over the past year. When I told her that I currently had a friend who wasn’t speaking to me because I’d absolutely snapped on him for no good reason, she got concerned and said that perhaps it was time to try some medical intervention. Normally they’d put you ON the pill as a starter to handle this, but since I came off the pill for the IUD she didn’t want to reverse the process. So instead she has prescribed me low-dose antidepressants. Yes, I’m now on antidepressants. To control PMS. The official term for what I’m experiencing is “premenstrual dysphoric disorder.” That sounds pleasant.

I’m trying to wrap my head around all this. I’m on antidepressants. That feels so weird to say. I never thought I’d need anything like that, but here we are. Honestly at this point I’ll try anything. When you watch a good friend slip away because you literally cannot control your angry-assed mouth even though your brain is desperately screaming NONONONONONOSTOOOOOOPPPPP, you know you need help. Reading the list of side-effects is kind of hilarious, but from what I can tell this shouldn’t affect my ability to work out, do keto, or function as I usually do. Still, it’s going to be interesting to see what it does do for me. Will I feel nothing? Or will I just feel everything on a more mild level? I’m really ready to just feel nothing for a while, but whatever happens I’m super down with it.

Aside from that, I’m super stoked for this weekend because I have a race! Yay! It’s the Brazen Goonies 5K…yes, only a 5K. I decided that since this will be the first time I run a race while on keto, I should dial it back a bit to see what it’s like running without my precious glycogen stores. Brazen’s trail races are beefy no matter which distance you run, so I’ll still be tackling a pretty heinous hill somewhere around mile 2.5 and I can just see that taking everything out of me in the middle of the race if I’m not careful. So opting for the shortest distance seems like a wise idea. My only true concern is how it’s going to impact me for the rest of the day. I have a wedding to attend plus some other errands and tasks to complete, and I’m pretty sure my energy is going to go right out the window in the wake of the race. We’ll see. I can’t be the first person to ever nap at a wedding, can I?

Keto Week 2 : Death to My Bowels, But Hey, We Have a New Doctor!

I’m not gonna lie. I absolutely love this week’s menu, but I don’t think my stomach is very happy with it at all. Currently I’m sitting here just waiting for the signal to hit the bathroom. Again. For probably the tenth time today.

It was like this yesterday too, to a lesser extent. Because why not?

I feel fine when I eat, and even afterward. But within a few hours my body starts its symphony of groans and squeaks and then it’s just a party from there on out. And I still feel fine while all that’s happening. It’s just…not friendly.

I’m also peeing a lot. I mean…A LOT. I noticed at the end of last week that I was starting to pee more frequently despite not really increasing my liquid intake at all. The frequency has intensified throughout the week and now I’m probably peeing about once an hour. My water bill is going to be LIT next month. I’m going to guess this is a side effect of not having all those carbs in my body. The tissues are only holding onto so much water and then the rest is just finding its way downhill as fast as possible. Which is cool – means I’m not going to get bloaty at all. I only worry that I might end up dehydrated? But so far that’s not happened either. I should probably Google all this before I end up with actual issues.

My favorite thing on this week’s menu are these little tiny sausage cheddar balls I get for my afternoon snack. They’re super simple – pork sausage, sharp cheddar, an egg, and parmesan as the binder. The balls themselves are truly tiny – about the size of a large grape. I get three of them per snack but honestly I could eat the entire batch of 21 balls if you let me. They’re THAT tasty. This is coming from someone who in general is not a huge fan of sausage. I’m more of a bacon girl, if you hadn’t noticed. But these sausage cheddar balls could become a new staple for me. I’ll probably buy a huge bunch of sausage and sharp cheddar next week and just make a ton of them to keep in the freezer. The macros on them are perfect for keto, and they taste good hot or cold (as I discovered a couple of days ago when I forgot to microwave them before eating). So they’ll be nice to have on hand as a quick-grab snack in the future.

 

Scale-wise I’m a little worried that I’m going to see too huge of a drop in weight this week due to my…erm…stomach issues. Not that I will complain, but I’d prefer my weight loss to come the right way rather than the alternative. I’m trying to only step on the scale twice a week – Sundays at home and then Wednesdays right before I meet with my trainer at work. My trainer only wants me to weigh myself once a week but honestly I think having at least two points of data a week is helpful for tracking trends and being able to put a stop to anything (or kickstart something) before it gets out of hand. I wish I’d had the balls to weigh myself more frequently over the summer when I was gaining the weight back. That would have probably at least put me in cessation mode. Hindsight. *sigh*

 

I’m feeling less stressed today than I have been in a couple months and it’s a very nice feeling. My motivation isn’t fully back up to speed yet but I’m finding it in fits and spurts. Better than nothing? That being said, I am in a weird space right now where I know there’s some things I need to take care of but I also can’t be bothered to do anything about it. Like I’ll walk through the kitchen and go “Oh yeah, dishes need to be handled.” And then I just…don’t. Mind you, we have a fucking dishwasher. It is THAT easy for me to do dishes. Yet…there they sit. My incredibly patient roommate has taken to washing a few by hand each day to just not make it worse. Lord if my mother read this right now, she’d be on the phone in a heartbeat reading me the riot act. Mom, forgive me. You know I didn’t inherit your tidiness gene. I take after dad completely. Stacks are my friend.

 

13th Doctor Rainbow Shirt

13th Doctor Overcoat

Last night I decided that I deserved a little treat for handling my first two weeks of keto so well. So I snagged these two beauties from Torrid. If you haven’t already gotten your heart completely taken over by Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor Who, FIX IT. You need this in your life. I’m a fan of strong female role models and she’s the newest one we didn’t realize we needed. If you don’t watch Doctor Who at all, I’m not sure what’s wrong with you but you might want to get that looked at ASAP. Some of the best science fiction television out there since Stargate SG-1. Seriously. Get on it.

Keto Week 1, or How I Learned to Hate Deviled Eggs

Do keto, they said.

It’ll be great, they said.

You get to eat lots of cheese and eggs and meat, they said.

If you’d told me a week ago that eating 42 eggs in the span of a week would effectively ruin eggs for me for the rest of eternity, I would have scoffed. How could anyone stop loving the goodness of deviled eggs in all their forms? Surely not!

Well. It’s true. Right now if I never see another egg again, it will be too soon. (and sadly my upcoming week’s menu also has eggs, but FAR LESS – only 14)

The good news is that I survived my first week of keto and weirdly I had no carb cravings, though I suspect those will appear next week once my brain figures out that I’m really really serious about this not-eating-carbs thing. My energy is at a moderate level despite likely being close to glycogen depletion but that’s more likely due to me having enough endorphins to spare every day after my workouts. I’m sure I’ll start to feel the impacts of my diet this coming week as I completely consume all my glycogen and start to switch over to my alternative fuel tank. I’m looking at you, belly.

Bad news is that for seven days I ate three eggs as an omelet for breakfast and another three eggs deviled for snacks. That’s six eggs a day. 42 eggs in total. I officially can’t stand the idea of eggs existing on this planet anymore. Which is unfortunate considering this coming week my breakfast is an egg, sausage, and cheese casserole that actually looks pretty bomb. Maybe it’s just the deviled part that I’ve grown averse to? No clue. All I know is that I actually gagged when trying to eat my last batch of deviled eggs today. I had to do one of those “hold your nose while you swallow” things to get it all down, followed by a HUGE swig of water. I’m feeling urpy just telling you about this.

On the numbers side, I’m down from 218 to 209.6. Betting most of that is water loss of course – it’s too soon for my body to be just burning up all the fats. But like the start of any change in a diet, it’s helpful to see that big jump to get you feeling like you can actually succeed at this. So I’m pleased while not letting it get completely to my head at the same time. Next week will be a little more of a struggle as I will probably only lose a couple of pounds. Eyes on the prize, y’all. Eyes on the prize.

I was supposed to run the Urban Cow 5K this morning but forgot to set my alarm and overslept a bit. I woke up at 7am and the race wasn’t supposed to start until 7:50am but I had a brief conversation with myself about how much did I really want to throw on my close, dash up to Sacramento (30 minute drive), and get there just in time to start? No surprise, I didn’t really want that at all. I’m the person who is always freakishly early for their races because I want to ease into my morning. Getting there at the last second was not the least bit appealing. So I rolled over and went back to sleep for another hour before heading to my parents’ for a few hours. I think my body appreciated the extra sleep. I didn’t even feel guilty about the money I’d wasted on a race I didn’t run.

In two weeks I have the annual Brazen Goonies run. I’d originally registered for the half but after having a serious discussion with myself last month about how prepared I really felt (hint: not very prepared at all), I downgraded to the 10K which is perfect. I want to feel like I’m getting my ass lightly kicked by the course. Downside is I don’t get to partake of that glorious post-race spread that Brazen is known for, including my all-time favorite mint It’s-Its. I’ll probably pack a fat bag of beef jerky in my pack to start snacking on after I finish to help avoid the temptation.

I’m already on the lookout for more races to tack onto my fall and winter calendar. I have the Davis Turkey Trot 5K in my sights for my PR attempt, and then another couple of potential races in mid-December, one a 5 miler and the other a 5K. And then of course I’m pondering the Brazen New Years Eve and New Years Day runs. It’s been a couple of years since I ran either of those and I think it’s high time for me to return. Their 10K course at Lake Chabot is one of the greatest ass-kickings I’ve ever received from a course. Yes, I’m that special kind of sadistic. Trail runners are kind of like that.

I’m doing my best not to turn my eyes too far forward into 2019 because then I’ll start getting myself wound around the axel about all sorts of new goals and I really want to stay focused on the handful I have picked out. Soon enough though I’ll have to think about registering for my Boston Qualifier attempts and that’s daunting enough.

Why have I chosen to put myself through this?

Oh right, because I’m weird.

How Moxie Got Her Groove Back

I was doing so great at the beginning of summer. I’d gotten my weight down to 199 pounds, I was doing 50 burpees a day for fun, I was running every day, and life just generally felt great.

And then I went into a slump.

I can’t rightfully say what exactly caused the slump. I’m not really sure, to be honest. But there it was. And it was a weird roadblock that stopped me dead in my tracks. I stopped regularly working out, I stopped trying to eat properly, and I just felt completely unmotivated to do anything. I do know that a big part of it was the increasing bunion pain I’ve been feeling over the months since Boston, and while I tow a very solid line about not pushing through actual pain, I do also believe that if pain from certain activities is causing you to falter, you need to simply find other activities to replace those until the pain is resolved.

Clearly I didn’t do that.

But I also believe the slump was very much mental and emotional. I was drained on both fronts and I had no idea how to get my groove back. Even my usual motivational music did me no good.

Last week I finally got tired of all the garbage in my head that was bringing me down. You know how it gets when you start to actually listen to the voices that tell you that you’re gross, you’re ugly, you’re unlovable, and you’ll never be anything other than what you are right now even though that’s what you desperately want more than anything else in the world. Well I was sick of hearing myself say all those things and think all those things and believe all those things. So I stepped on the scale because I’d avoided it since the middle of August, and I faced the music. 218. Oof.

I’d literally gained almost 20 pounds in two months. A little of that was caused by eating like an asshole, but a lot of that was me not working out like I used to and not adjusting my calories and macros to match. I knew better and yet I didn’t do anything to shift. In fairness, I was feeling really…down? I guess that’s the best word to use. So like many people, I allowed food to comfort me. I still made smarter choices, but I didn’t reduce portions or calculate my meals like I should have. And there you have it.

So I sat down and made a plan. I needed to get my eating back on track, explore new options for workouts, and set goals for myself that I actually wanted to reach rather than felt I was supposed to reach.

I kicked off today with a 9-week run through the keto diet. I’m not a huge fan of keto overall, but I do appreciate the principles of it, especially in terms of exploring how it fuels my body while also helping me to break from the carb-loving lifestyle I had settled into wayyyyyy too easily. I already have my menus planned out for the full nine weeks and nothing on it looks scary, although I can tell you right now, I will likely come to heavily dislike certain ingredients by the end of this experiment (beef and eggs, I’m looking at you). Even though the menus I received had different meals each day, I decided that I function best when I just meal prep for the whole week and don’t need to think about anything, so I selected one day’s menu and made that my meals for the full week. Once I get this down, I may mix it up to prepping twice a week to keep the boredom factor from setting in. But for now, seven days of the same thing feels like the best way to roll.

I’m guessing you’re going to hear me whine about my food a LOT over the next couple of months. I’m sorry in advance.

I also realized that I wasn’t happy with my fitness goals. Certainly I want to take a hard stab at qualifying for Boston and I know that a large part of getting to that point in a year and a half (if I end up needing the One City Marathon to be my BQ race) is both weight loss and lots and lots of speed training. But that end goal wasn’t motivational enough in my mind. I need smaller chunks to distract me from that bigger picture for a little bit so that I feel like I’m progressing in some way. Earlier this year I smashed three huge PR’s at the 10K, half marathon, and marathon distances. I realized I’d sorely neglected my 5K PR and at this point I can’t even remember what it was other than 36 minutes and some change. (I tried to check the race website and they only keep history up to a couple of years. BOO.) So I’m eyeballing my fall and winter race options for tackling a 5K PR, hopefully a race that is smaller but still well-managed. Shooting for a PR on the longer distances is a bit easier to deal with because they tend to scare away folks who simply want to idle their way through the course. 5K’s are the sandbox of the race world and everyone loves to show up with strollers and children and husbands who didn’t really want to be there in the first place but got guilted into it. This equates to a verrrrrry slow start and a lot of dodging for the first half mile until the field starts to thin. For a longer distance that lost time can be easily absorbed. When you’re trying to hammer out a mere 3 miles, it can mean death to a PR.

SO. I’m currently on the lookout for a 5K that doesn’t give me hives. If you know of one, give me a shout.

I’m also looking to change up both my lifting and my cardio routine. I’m shifting my lifting – yeah that was terrible – to focus less on powerlifting and more on overall physique work again, which I love. Lots of glorious hypertrophy circuits. My cardio is a bit harder to pin down – I want something that is going to keep me interested rather than get me annoyed. As much as I hate to say it, I think I need to seek out some dance-style videos and see if that grabs me. I generally just don’t like cardio classes regardless of style, so my pickiness is my Achilles heel. Should be fun sorting this one out.

I guess I’m sorted for now. I don’t know what will happen between now and the end of the year but I look forward to getting my groove back. I need it so much, for both my physical health and my mental health. I’m starting to talk to my cats like they’re actual people. In case you were wondering how dire it is.

Yeah.

Stolen Joy and the Reality Behind “The Virtues of Hard Work”

I was all prepared to come here today and dissect my race results and strategy for yesterday’s Shamrock’n Half Marathon. That was my plan going into the race – get on Monday morning and do a bit of a look-back at what went well, what needed some work, and whether or not I felt ready for the Boston Marathon. But today, post-race, I find myself in a different headspace.

Not to bury the lede, but not only did I complete yesterday’s race within the goal time of 2:45:59 that I’d set for myself…I actually BEAT my goal by over 5 minutes, clocking a final chip time of 2:40:13. Being that my previous half marathon PR was 2:59:19, a pace improvement of almost two minutes per mile is incredible. Especially considering the last half marathon I’d run prior to this one was last year’s Shamrock’n Half with a 3:49:57 (which, as you recall, was a hot-as-balls race day that made walking a half seem like the better option to running it). I should be walking on fucking clouds today.

But I’m not.

Within an hour of my finish, I was called pompous and selfish. I found out that my running is apparently a joke and an inconvenience to others. As I read these words while sitting in stopped traffic on the Yolo Causeway, I felt all my energy drain away. I turned down the radio I’d been happily singing along to, and I contemplated these words for a minute before bursting into tears. I worked so hard for my results and instead of feeling great about my accomplishment, I now felt like an asshole.

Maybe it’s because I don’t talk about my training much. Maybe it’s because the only time people hear anything about my running is when I’m declining an invitation to something. Maybe I talk more about it than I realized and people are just tired of hearing about it. No clue. But I feel like people need to know and understand what it’s truly like to chase down a goal, especially in the face of so many people who feel like you shouldn’t be able to do the things you do. People who feel like your only place in this world is to be the charming fatty who makes everyone laugh and pays for everything.

So let’s talk a bit about what I had to do to earn that 2:40:13 that I should be so incredibly proud of and completely overjoyed by.

To begin, I started my training late after getting sick over the holidays. I should have been running upwards of 20 miles a week by Christmas, but a bout with bronchitis kept me from really starting to get into things until New Years Day. So I started behind the 8-ball compared to the rest of my Boston teammates, who are all 7-10 minute/mile runners by default.

I also started New Years Day at 223lbs. This was a huge blow considering I’d gotten down to just a hair over 209 prior to getting sick. I was supposed to be at almost 200 by the new year and now I was essentially starting all over again. A crucial part of being able to increase my pace involved me losing a sizeable amount of weight before Boston. And runners lose almost no weight while training for a marathon because a huge component of being able to train those long miles is eating calories in a volume that will fuel those runs. I was basically looking at a thoroughly uphill battle.

I can only afford to work with my personal trainer once a week, though he’s been incredibly generous in terms of helping me hone my other workouts, assess my strategies and results, and provide me ongoing encouragement. So for literally all but one workout a week, I am completely on my own. No support system. Nobody working out with me. Nobody pushing me. It’s all me, on my own. Alone.

What does my workout schedule look like?

Monday through Thursday, I’m doing three workouts a day. I start with my strength training, which consists of all of my lifting, and follow it up with fast-paced running for anywhere from three to five miles. I circle back later in the day and do either core work or speed work (wind sprints on the treadmill). Fridays are my only rest day, and it’s a complete rest which is great because it means instead of focusing on workouts, I can focus on cleaning my house. So not really a complete rest day, but at least I’m not in workout clothes. Saturdays start with a long run at 7am for which I am up by 4:30am so I can make sure I get my pre-run breakfast down and digested. Later that day I do some light yoga to make sure I’m appropriately stretched from those long miles. Sundays are a mixed bag of hill work, core work, and occasionally either a slow bike ride or gentle walk around the neighborhood to keep myself loosened up.

Because sleep is essential to both performing well during workouts as well as weight loss and maintenance, I am off the computer by 9pm and asleep by 10pm, Sunday through Wednesday. I allow myself a later bedtime on Thursdays because I can sleep in a bit on Friday mornings, but I am in bed and asleep by 9:30 on Friday nights for Saturday morning training. Saturday is another allowable late night unless I have a race the next morning. Then I treat it like a Friday night. Keep in mind that I am up at 5am Monday through Thursday for work, with a 60-90 minute commute each way, plus a 9 hour work day in between. This means I get home at night and have just enough time to eat dinner and work on things like fundraising, training strategy (which involves a lot of number crunching), and daily household tasks before doing my pre-bedtime stretching and going to sleep. And again, I do almost all of this completely alone. I don’t have fitness classes. I don’t have running buddies. I don’t have lifting partners. I have a personal trainer I see once a week for 45 minutes. The rest is all 100% alone, with nothing but my brain to keep me going.

How about nutrition?

Since the start of the year, I’m on 8/16 intermittent fasting with a 24hr fast on Sundays. This means I eat every day from 10am to 6pm, and once I eat breakfast on Sunday I don’t eat again until Monday 10am. The exception to this is my Saturday long run because 10-20 miles with nothing in me is tantamount to death.

I meal prep every Sunday and eat the exact same thing six days in a row, with my Sunday breakfast being the only thing that changes. And even that stays the same literally every single week – four eggs, scrambled, topped with grated sharp 2% cheddar; two slices of low sodium center cut bacon; potatoes in some format cooked in the air fryer; a slice of whole grain toast with a thin layer of Smart Balance and some homemade blackberry jam; and a tall glass of Milo’s No-Calorie sweet tea. Because I am training as a runner at the moment, all my weekday meal macros are almost evenly split percentage-wise, though I try to keep my protein just a tiny bit higher than fats and carbs. I eat three meals and two snacks, and for supplements I take a daily multivitamin, a D3 supplement, and BCAA’s for post-workout recovery. I don’t pre-workout. I don’t pop pills. I don’t use any magic substances. Saturday morning long runs are fueled by PB&J, pretzels, and the occasional gel or chew, with a few licks of BaseSalt in between.

A sample menu looks something like this:

  • Breakfast: Spinach frittata muffins (whole eggs, egg whites, spinach, onions, tomatoes, spices)
  • Snack 1: Coconut macadamia protein ball (raw protein ball made from dates, macadamia nuts, almond butter, rolled in coconut)
  • Lunch: Grilled chicken breast and steamed broccoli (literally a chicken breast seasoned with sodium-free lemon pepper, and plain steamed broccoli)
  • Snack 2: Cottage cheese parfait (cottage cheese, handful of mixed berries, smattering of chopped walnuts)
  • Dinner: Turkey burger and spinach (seasoned 97% lean turkey patty, whole grain bun, feta cheese, sliced avocado, with a giant pile of spinach on the side)

If you see me eat or drink anything unusual, it’s because I’ve planned for those “treats” by changing what I eat elsewhere in the day and adding extra miles or extra minutes to my workouts to compensate. For example, on Super Bowl Sunday, I knew I would want a few beers, so I ran five miles before breakfast, adjusted the size of my breakfast by eliminating the potatoes and toast (carbs), and drank plenty of water ahead of time so I wouldn’t also get hungry and eat a bunch of shit. The only thing I snacked on were some plain fresh veggies someone brought for veggie dip.

What does all this amount to?

It amounts to zero free time. It amounts to me having to decline a lot of social invitations. It amounts to no time for any real self care. It amounts to quite a bit of stress. It amounts to days where I’m literally too tired both physically and emotionally to deal with anything, but I don’t get down time because there’s a $20,000 price tag and 26.2 miles hanging over my head so I just keep pushing forward.

But it also amounts to being ready to complete the Boston Marathon within their required time limit. It amounts to bringing in $20,000 of much-needed money for cancer research and patient support. It amounts to 20lbs lost and 2 mins/mile faster pace gained within the span of just two months.

Maybe I’m not your cup of tea. Maybe you really don’t want to hear about my running or my fundraising or any of that. I’m cool with that. There’s probably shit you’re super into that I couldn’t care less about. But I’ll guarantee you this: I would never ever judge you for it, especially if I don’t have all the facts. What you are into makes you uniquely you. The least I can do is try to understand and support your goals. If you want to know my goals, just ask. We all know I have no problem talking.

For now, I’ll simply try to find my joy again. I need it so badly at this point in the process. I earned it. I deserve that much.

When In Doubt, Crunch the Numbers…

I’ll admit, I’ve been getting into my own head lately about my Boston strategy. Which isn’t entirely unusual for a runner. When we’re in the thick of serious training, we tend to focus on our race goals and try to aim for them as best we can. But it’s been a very long time since I’ve had to put a strict level of serious thought into my training because I’ve been fortunate enough to run a lot of races with incredibly liberal course time limits. That’s not to say that I languish or get lackadaisical about my training, but for the most part I’ve been able to afford myself a large margin of error. Boston is a different story altogether.

You could argue that a six hour time limit really is a ton of time to finish. True. Very true. Sorted out into an even pace, this is a 13:45 mile. Not hard to beat with proper training, right? But it’s still a daunting idea being that I have a tendency to start out too fast, and end up flagging mid-course if I’m not careful. This happened to me during my second time running NYC and twice running the Santa Rosa half, to the point that I actually cramped from Achilles to knee on both legs. Something I wouldn’t recommend to or wish on anyone on the planet. I have photographic evidence of what it looks like to sprint across a finish line with both legs in full cramp. It’s…not pretty.

So I’ve spent the better part of this week really trying to hone my Boston strategy and trying not to psych myself out at the same time. I know I can do this. I do. I really really do. But I can’t help letting my mind wander over to the What Ifs. What if I can’t control my speed during the first few miles that are a nice downhill? What if I get to Heartbreak Hill and it’s worse than I ever imagined? What if I don’t hit my nutrition right and I bonk? What if I pause too long at a water stop or have to pee or try to let myself enjoy the course too much? What if…what if…what if…

It’s exhausting.

I’m not stupid. I will not waste this golden opportunity I’ve been given. I’m hitting all my training, I’m hitting my nutrition. I’m focusing on the right things. I just need to trust that I’m on the right path and come race day, I’m going to knock it out of the park like the champ I think I am.

What if?

I can’t keep letting that into my head.

What if?

I’ve worked so hard on trying to lose a fair amount of weight to help naturally increase my speed by virtue of fat people not moving as fast as less fat people. But it’s been a verrrrrrrry slow journey and that’s starting to eat at me. I can’t let that do me in now, though. Trust the training. Trust the nutrition. The rest will fall into place. Right?

What if?

I have my three test races lined up prior to Boston. This weekend is the Davis Stampede 10K and I have a very strong goal of beating my previous 10K PR of 1:19:55. And there’s a very good chance that I’ll be able to do it with little problem if I stick to my strategies I’ve gleaned through my training over the past two months. In a little over three weeks, I have the Shamrock’n Half Marathon where my goal gets a bit tighter and I’m aiming for an almost 15 minute PR on a course that is quite unforgiving. And then the weekend after that is the Whale Run 10K where I will try not to push for a PR as I have to do a total of 14-16 miles that day for training and I don’t want to overdo it, but damn if I don’t want to see what I can do on the course where I currently hold my 10K PR. But what freaks me out is that after the Shamrock’n Half, there’s a mere five weeks until Boston. If I do terrible at Shamrock’n, what does that mean for Boston? How will I fix things in just five weeks?

See how easy it is to get in my head?

All I can do is trust my training. Trust my nutrition. Trust myself. I can do this. I’ve crunched the numbers. I’ve got a strategy to test that makes me happy. I feel really good physically. My knee isn’t my enemy, and for once I’ve taken stretching and rolling in stride instead of fighting it.

I trust myself.

I can do this…?

I can do this.

Treat Yo Self

I’ve been having a rough time lately. Between stressing over fundraising, stressing over training, stressing over nutrition and weight loss, and stressing over personal stuff, I’m just wound up tight enough to do some incredible collateral damage if I’m not careful. So last week when my tax refunds deposited into my account, I did some responsible stuff with the money, but also took a moment to send myself some gifts from Amazon. Nothing big or super frivolous. Just small treats carefully lifted from my vast array of Amazon wishlists. I took the time to purposely select varying lengths of time for deliveries so that I’d be guaranteed a treat waiting for me every day when I get home.

I have to say…it was a really good plan. Each day I’ve had a little something to look forward to, and I refused to check my e-mail to see what would be there each day, letting my shitty memory assist with the element of surprise.

For your amusement, here’s some of the goodies I’ve received since then…(you can probably sense a self-empowerment theme here…)

Quick Banana Bread Oatmeal

As you well know, this time of year I’m usually going full bore with the baked oatmeal, trading off between my favorites of blueberry ginger and orange cranberry. But since I don’t really have the energy to try and veganize my recipes, I’m going with something a bit more simple and straightforward. Tasty oatmeal made fresh in the microwave every morning, it is!

Yeah, so my banana was brown-ish. Sue me.

This has already become my new go-to breakfast recipe, and I’ve only eaten it twice so far. Cribbed from a recipe found in Shalane Flanagan’s Run Fast. Eat Slow.: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes, I’ve made a few tweaks based on personal preference and also calorie/macro needs. Increasing or decreasing the amount of oatmeal you make at one time is fairly easy if you need to adjust for your own numbers. But honestly, it’s breakfast. You should be packing yourself full of energy first-thing in the morning! (says the person who has to force herself to eat on race mornings…)

As always, I have a strong preference for steel-cut oats because I like my oatmeal to have texture. But you can make this with regular quick oats if you’re into that sort of wallpaper paste experience. I’m not judging you or anything, but. Y’know. *stares at you*

Zapping this with the banana already in the bowl may seem strange, but trust me, it’s a crucial part of the process. The banana cooks down really nicely and blends into the oatmeal, ensuring you get maximum banana bread goodness in every bite.

 

Quick Banana Bread Oatmeal

Mmmmmm…….banana bread……

serves 1

1/2 cup quick-cooking steel cut oats (Bob’s Red Mill for me)
1 medium-size banana
1/8 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons raisins

Place your dry ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Now, at this point it’s entirely up to you whether you want to add the raisins before cooking or after. It’s really a texture/hydration preference. You’re fine either way you go.

Slice the banana and add it to the bowl. Follow with 3/4 cup of water, and stir until everything seems relatively well combined.

 

Cover the bowl with a lid of some sort (I use these containersfrom Sistema) but leave it open for venting. Microwave on full power for 2 minutes. Once it’s done, stir, replace the cover, and let it sit for a couple more minutes. And voilá! You have yourself some seriously tasty oatmeal.

Going Vegan for 22 Days, Plz Send Fake Bacon

After much sobbing and gnashing of teeth, I have succumbed to the recommendation of trying the 22 Day Revolution diet nutrition plan. If you haven’t heard of this yet, it’s a plant-based nutrition and fitness program made famous by Beyoncé and Jay-Z in collaboration with fitness and nutrition expert Marco Borges. Apparently they dropped a shitload of weight in a seemingly unreasonable amount of time and looked fabulous upon doing so.  While I’m pretty sure my results won’t be quite as spectacular, I’m always game for a change-up from my usual meal prep routine.

The concept behind the 22 Day Revolution is simple: in theory, it takes 21 days to break an old habit and make a new one stick. So theoretically after

The traveler has come. Choose and perish.

three weeks of eating vegan, I’ll feel so amazing from being fully plant-powered that I’ll never want to go back to meat. Having been vegan once many moons ago, I can tell you that I have no interest in being meat-free, nor do I feel like I’m somehow going to be magically broken of my meat-loving habits. As both a runner and powerlifter, I find that animal proteins provide me with the optimum level of energy and muscle building for my personal goals. Your mileage may of course vary, but that’s not unusual. Some of us are carb efficient and some of us are protein efficient, and I happen to fall into the latter category. And for me, animal proteins work best. Also, bacon is tasty. So there’s that.

I opted for the three week lunch-and-dinner fresh meal delivery option. My logic was this: it was going to be easier for me to adhere to this for three weeks if someone else did all the heavy lifting, I was more likely to stick to it if I paid that much money for food (the cost even after a fat discount code I was provided was $9.71 per meal), and I could easily come up with vegan breakfast options that would satisfy any cravings I had that the lunches and dinners didn’t provide. The meals are delivered in batches of seven days for the first two weeks and then eight days for the last week, vacuum sealed in individual recyclable trays for ease of use. Easy peasy.

Except that I didn’t count on these meals being so bean- and legume-heavy. There is not a fruit in sight, save for tomatoes and squashes, nor is there any tofu or TVP. This is because soy is considered the devil’s seed apparently. Which okay, fine. No worries. But that also means I’ve got a long road of bean-fueled farts and shiitake-masquerading-as-beef ahead of me. Fun times. I’m calling it right now: It’s a good thing I hit Costco the other day and bought a massive pack of toilet paper.

Image of cardboard box

Rainbow Dash laughs at my impending doom

So my first week of food has already arrived (they ship every Wednesday for delivery on Friday) and I’m both excited and terrified. Nestled in a tightly-packed box of thick ice packs and insulating Styrofoam were my 14 Week One meals, each labeled with which day and which meal they belonged to. I’m trying not to be judgmental about some of the meals based on their looks, buuuuuuuuut…I suspect there will be a couple of things I’m going to literally have to choke down. I’m looking right at you, eggplant.

My daily plan will break down into three meals and two snacks, which is a bit of a shift from my usual five full meals. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m already sure I will miss my nightly casein. I’d say that my gut will appreciate the break, but, y’know…beans and legumes and quinoa, oh my! No rest for the weary GI tract. Breakfast will be steel cut oats and the snacks will consist of fresh fruit and almonds, and I’ll likely hold onto this for the duration of the 22 days for simplicity’s sake. Let’s see how long I can carry that on before I chuck my oatmeal against the wall.

Tonight I dine on a last supper of something laden with meat and cheese. Tomorrow I enter the Thunderdome. In 22 days we’ll see if I emerge victorious or if I have been beaten to a pulp by my own body. May the odds be ever in my favor.

Weekend Recap and Challenge Prep

I always have a great time visiting the coast and it’s not uncommon to feel a bit of remorse when I have to leave it behind yet again. This weekend was definitely no exception. One day I’ll move there permanently. I have a stronger connection to the Mendocino coast and the entirety of the northern Hwy 101 corridor than I do to anywhere else on this planet. I must go where I belong! But first…working all the kinks out of life as it currently exists. Bah humbug.

The weekend kicked off with an overnight stay in Cloverdale, which I admit I mostly love because it means I get to visit Plank the next day at the end of our morning walk. They make the best almond milk chai latte I’ve ever tasted in my white American life. With fresh nutmeg grated across the top for good measure. If I lived in Cloverdale, this is where I’d be every single morning. They also make a mean scone (so far I’ve tried their bacon cheddar and their cheddar green onion scones) and their daily shrub is so refreshing, it makes me sad I can’t get it on eternal tap in my home. I’ve successfully tracked down some pretty good shrub recipes so perhaps I’ll take that on in the coming weeks, especially considering there is currently a glut of apple cider vinegar chilling in my pantry, taking up a lot of precious beer storage space.

The salmon barbecue itself was a lot of fun as always, with nice warm sun, cool breeze, and delicious food to make pretty much any person happy. I started my day with a morning training run of 75 minutes. I was on track to complete a 10K, but The Boyfriend decided to join me and he cramped up at about 3 miles out, so we had to turn around and head back, putting us at almost exactly six miles. Apparently the gym he goes to says that RUNNING IS BAD, MMMKAY? and he has zero muscle stamina/endurance even though they’re constantly working out. This frustrates me because even bodybuilders and Crossfitters do some running as part of their routines, so clearly it’s not a useless exercise. However, his gym is built around that whole “we’ll help you lose X amount of inches in X amount of time!” gimmick, and running is NOT a weight loss endeavor. So of course to them, time spent running is wasted when the person could be doing yet another 100 burpees. I can’t be completely mad because for their gimmick and their purposes, it works. But for long-term health, it is flawed from end to end. But that’s another rant for another day.

The funny thing about the barbecue is that we tend to go around 2pm, so we’re eating a late lunch/super early dinner, and our bodies get all weirded out by this and don’t know how to behave. So we end up taking sudden naps as soon as we get back to our hotel rooms, followed by waking up craving more food even though we’d eaten only a couple hours before! We satisfied ourselves with really good clam chowder from The Q, one of the places we loved during the Clam Chowder Tasting back in March. Totally hit the spot and got us warmed up for fireworks (but also kind of made me want to take another nap. Damn comfort food!). I meant to get up this morning and go for a walk with mom to work off all this eating, but that didn’t happen in the least bit. I hit the snooze button, rolled over, and snuggled back to sleep. Eh, I’ll work it off in the gym tomorrow, right?


Clean Eating Challenge Prep

Tomorrow is the big day! Usually I would spend the day before doing a ton of prep – chopping veggies, separating out ingredients into freezer bags, etc. – but since I just got home from an extended holiday weekend, and I’m working from home tomorrow, I’m saving the physical prep until then. But today I’ve firmed up the menu and guidelines prep so I’m ready to roll!

I’ve made a couple of substitutions for ingredients and meals on the menu for a couple of reasons I’ll explain here, but they’re all still done in the spirit of clean eating and so they stick as close to calorie and clean eating requirements as possible.

  1. During Week One, there are several mornings where chia puddings are called for. Because I have a partial container of Greek yogurt in the fridge and I hate being a food waster, I’m substituting in Greek yogurt and a homemade quick granola on those days. Week Two will still have all its breakfasts intact. I’ll circle back and do the Week One chia pudding recipes after the challenge is over so I can give you an honest opinion of them.
  2. Any place in the menu that calls for butternut squash has been replaced by sweet potatoes because the price of butternut squash was ridiculous this week and I don’t think we should be breaking the damn bank when we can keep with the vibe of clean eating for a little less scratch.
  3. Any place in the menu that calls for spaghetti squash has been replaced by actual whole wheat pasta because I have a race Saturday evening and I need the complex carbs of the whole wheat pasta. While pasta doesn’t directly qualify as true clean eating, it is still pretty damn close. Plus if Buzzfeed can consider sliced cheddar clean eating, then goddammit I’m calling pasta clean eating. SO THERE.
  4. All portobellos have been henceforth stricken from the menu because fuck no. Take that shit and shove it. There is nothing more disgusting on this planet than portobellos masquerading as bread or meat. Go away. I’ve substituted lettuce leaves for bread and just eliminated portobellos from one recipe entirely, no substitution (wasn’t necessary).
  5. I’m using kale and spinach interchangeably on a few recipes because I have several bags of frozen spinach that really ought to be utilized before I start bringing in other stuff, so for some of the “serve over kale” recipes, I’m using spinach as a pinch hitter. This falls completely in line with clean eating, and although kale is more of a big league leafy green than spinach, I’m still getting many of the same vitamin and mineral benefits. And I’m cleaning out my freezer at the same time!

My goal is to have pictures for you each day, but you’ll have to forgive me if that doesn’t happen. I’m pretty sure by the end of week two it’s going to be a lot of “I ATE IT AND IT WAS FINE. TRUST ME.” Not to mention that you can only see so many photos of smoothies before you’re like WE GET THE PICTURE, ASSHOLE.

If you have any questions along the way, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment or shoot me an e-mail. I’m always happy to jam on this subject.