This one’s for The Ladies….

That is not to say that I forbid my men-friends to read it (I would never shun 50% of my readership!), just that you won’t really care.  And I welcome any of my men-friend runners to do a guest post on nipple chafing or supportive briefs.  Really.

But I’ll stick to what I know.

It’s day 3 of my half-marathon training, and I am mentally going strong.  But I noticed this morning on my “ass-crack-of-dawn” run that I was unbelievably winded.  I had been equally winded my previous run at the same trail (Monday) but since it was very warm, I attributed it to the heat.  This morning however, with the beautiful 67 degree temps, this was not quite right.  And then it hit me: I’ve had my period since Monday, and I bet that is contributing to my difficult runs.

I have suspected this before, and now that I am actually training for something that will be a strong challenge to my body, I decided it was time for research. More specifically, I want to see if there s supposed to be a pattern to the days where I feel I can run forever and the days that I feel I can’t bare run another step, and if it is predictable. Not surprisingly, it seems there is.

I found a  few great articles  (this one too) on this topic (please click on the links if you want to read them), but I want to point out that I think it’s very likely that every woman is going to have a different experience.  For example, I have been on the very same birth control for 12 years, so I have my menstrual cycle down to an easy-breezy science.  I know when I am getting it, I know that I will be mildly tired on the Wednesday of that week and I know that it will end Sunday night. I know I will not have bad cramps or spot bleeding after. (Men, stop making that face.  I told you this was for the ladies.)  For this reason, tracking will be easy for me. This month I will note every run I do and how I felt and then will pretty much know what my “cycles” are.  For other women, it probably changes every time, and you will need to track for at least 3-4 months to be able to predict.

Here’s what I think I’ve learned. During the parts of your cycle when you have low amounts of estrogen in your body (apx. days 3-15, day 1 being the day you get your period) you can expect high intensity runs (for example, Speed work and Hills) to have plenty of easy sources of fuel from your body, and you should have no problem with getting the burst of energy that you need to do so. After day 15, when you have higher levels of estrogen in your body, it’s not so easy. Your body changes its metabolism (where it favors metabolizing fat to muscle glycogen), and while you should have longer term sources of energy (so, a long slow run will go splendidly), you may not have the bursts of energy you may want for speed or higher intensity runs (muscle glycogen) readily available. Now that I have this knowledge, I have an idea. Clif bloks if needed. And now that I have put this all together, I feel armed to try to take on my period a little smarter. Or not. I mean, after all, I got all of this info from the INTERNET. Really, I won’t know anything until I try it out.  It could be bologna. Or maybe it’ll just be the mental kick in the ass I need.

Please note: I am not a doctor, nurse or anyone who knows anything about anything.  I am just reporting what I have noticed in myself and read in online sources.  Really I would love for other women to post their experiences.   So, other women runners, have you paid attention to your cycles? Have you noticed anything? Have any suggestions?

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It’s like riding a bicycle…

When I think about my childhood and all of its memories, they feel fuzzy and confusing. Probably because it was a confusing time. Every day I grew a little bit more into myself, even if I wasn’t feeling quite ready to do so. Every day I had to try something new, learn a new skill or experience a new feeling.The only thing I knew for sure was that things would change the next day.

I remember being 11 years old and biking with the neighborhood kids.  We’d race and use the bikes to get to the local candy shop. Once I had two wheels, it was rare to catch me on foot, unless I was going to school or with my parents. I loved my bike. I had not ridden one since I could drive, but I was always convinced that I would remember how.

Just like riding a bike.

Then one day, I decided I wanted to get a road bike, like the ones used for triathlons.

I remember it as though it were yesterday. Straddling my new, never-used before two-wheeler bike, both shiny and promising. The helmet I was embarrassed to wear, but knew I needed because I was told I had to wear it. I picked up my left foot ready to push down on the left pedal and fly off across the Ashokan reservoir.

I didn’t fly. I fell sideways, because my 31 year-old body forgot that it had to balance itself. I guess I remember it like it was yesterday because it WAS yesterday.

I looked up and cleared my throat of the lump that had formed deep within. “Hey, maybe we can lower this seat a little?”

The man-friend looked at me with the look he gives me when he is trying hard to not say, “Are you kidding?!”

“I know it’s not the “right” way, but maybe until I remember how to ride a bike, I could lower the seat so my feet can touch the ground?” I know he loves me because he did it. It went against every ounce of everything he believes, but he lowered my seat and made my bike both less efficient and less scary.

I picked up my left foot again and went a whole few feet without putting my feet down. I suddenly wasn’t so sure I could do this. It took me about a quarter mile of getting a few feet, then stopping, moving a few feet, and then stopping before I remembered the skills I had used so often as a child. I got used to the steering (much more sensitive than I remembered!) and the breaking (much more efficient than I expected!) Within a few minutes I had the BIGGEST grin on my face.

It’s love.  Me and my bike.

Yes, baby. You can raise the seat now.

Now, this is no kids bike, by any means. It’s a road bike, meant for speed and fitness, so it’s a bit of a different animal. I’ve never owned a bike with gears, and I certainly have never pedaled a bike above 20mph or up GIANT hills. I cannot wait. I only did a short ride over the weekend, due to a cloudy sky and the fact that I wanted to get a run in before it rained, but I am excited to go for a longer ride next time.

Toe clips, though, is an idea that will take some time to get used to.   Maybe next year.

We now rejoin this blog, already in progress…

75 Degrees and endless Sun in sight.  I am loving this weather.

Weather is a weird subject these days. Things seem very volatile with earthquakes and tornadoes causing massive amounts of destruction and death in seemingly safe environments. Snow piled high enough in the Tri-State area to cause concern this winter, and the two weeks of endless rain we recently had were just plain awful. I am hoping we’re past the worst of the transitional weather and can welcome in a period of calm weather patterns for some time.

WTF? Whose blog was that?!?!

So, I just moved into a lovely new apartment in Kingston, NY. I threw out and gave away all my old junk, and am easily falling more and more in love with my new apartment every day. That’s my measure of knowing that I am on a good path, if every minute that I breathe I am happier in a situation. Last night was the first night that I decided not to be unpacking or cleaning or socializing and simply sat down on the couch and ate pizza and watched TV. It was a nice change of pace, to be comfortable doing nothing.

Of course, I did wake up at an ungodly hour to go for a morning 5 mile run, so…I guess it’s a good balance.

It’s probably a good time to put this blog back on track, and go back to talking about un-running. This summer’s running season will be spent training for my Half Marathon in September.  The week of June 27th starts the 12 week training program by my favorite anal retentive running trainer, Hal Higdon.  For now, I am maintaining 15-25 (depends on my schedule) mile weeks, as I have done through the winter, and have added in short biking sessions (3-7 miles), which seems to be helping my knees. I am also taking swimming lessons for cross training (read: Next year’s blogs will be about Triathlon training). But for now, the biking and swimming are just for fun and for weight loss. Oh, right. I will be training again, which means paying attention to optimum weights (which I NEVER achieve, but I am over it) etc.

I do, however, get to eat more carbs ; ) It’s a trade off.

She will be mine...

I’ve decided that my goal for the half will be three-fold. 1) Not to die. 2) To try desperately to have fun. 3) 2 hours, 50 mins. I used Runner’s World’s training calculators to pick a speed that I felt was both challenging and attainable. This will mark the first time that I run a race with a time goal in mind. We’ll see how it goes before I determine if it will be my last!

On a side note, Molly  is ending her long seasons of training and hitting the pavement for her first HIM (Half-Iron Man) on Sunday. This girl has untiring amounts of dedication and drive, though I am not sure that the word untiring should be used at all  when speaking of a Half IM. I get tired just thinking about it. I’m proud of you, Lady! And anxiously await pics of your smile as you cross the finish line ; )

I am sitting in my cubicle at work.

I have carefully measured my coffee consumption, starch ingestion and limited the number of veggies I am allowed to eat in a day before going home.

I am hoping that no one needs to see me today. I jokingly have been referring to it as my “protective shield” for the last few days but…

I cannot stop farting.

I just came back from Mexico and along with the hangovers, few extra pounds and questionable hours of missing time came the worst case of stomach grossness since I came back from Costa Rica last year. Will I ever learn?

I knew what I was doing as I would suck back one caipirinha after another while lazying around the pool reading a book, or after taking a walk along the absolutely beautiful ocean. I know. Your heart is breaking for me.

It was the ice, and I knew it. But I really wanted that Cachaça. It’s not so popular stateside, and I LOVE it. And to drink it lukewarm would be like eating Jello before it can mold, I’d be missing the point. So I just drank them super-fast so that not much of the ice would melt. Of course, this would make me want another one pretty quickly so….This plan was flawless. And certainly not a recipe for disaster. Or drunkenness.

Scene of the crime : )

We stayed at this beautiful all-inclusive resort in Mexico and managed to successfully do almost NOTHING for 6 days and 5 nights except for eat excessively, drink excessively and shift the ratio of hours spent sleeping to exceed the hours spent awake. In short: It was heavenly. And now, back in reality, it’s a little bit smelly. And humorous. And embarrassing.

No human should ever create these smells. If anyone has a remedy, I am all ears.  Just tell me over the phone, vs. coming over to see me.

Until further notice.

A lobster who will never be named Oscar.

Most people view lobster as a luxurious food.  Sexy images of butter sauce dripping off the meat  and finger licking after eating each indulgent buttery bite. It’s thought of as a treat for an occasion, or a vacation “must have” in a place such as Maine or Newport.

I grew up Kosher, so as a kid I never had lobster or shellfish. As an adult, someone has just thrown an oversized cooked BUG on my plate and I am supposed to cut open its shell, take out its insides, scrape off  its slimy eggs from what I assume to be a crotchal region of some sort (do Lobsters have a crotch?), and suck out the tiny bits of meat that are in its appendages.

Can I have a salad instead, please?

Really, I shouldn’t be invited to the lobster prepping portion of the evening. It starts with me thinking that I want to see them squirming in the box.  I cringe at the clicking and moving around that are just not noises or actions that I want my food to make.  In fact, I’d rather my food not make any noise. Then, when one tries to climb out of the box, I scream, which makes the person currently trying to dump a bug into a boiling pot cringe, which makes the lobster apparently cringe. See? We are eating something that has the capacity to cringe.  And I get yelled at for it!

The problem is, I can’t be reminded that my food wasn’t always food.  I have issues with this. I was once a vegetarian for three years when a friend innocently pointed to a ham, turkey and roast beef sub I was eating and said, “So, you know, three animals died to make that sandwich.”

Since the man-friend quite likes lobster, I would not be shocked for us to end up with a pet lobster one day.  Y’know, when he tries to bring home some live ones for dinner.  He can cook his.  I’ll name mine Oscar.

So, the lobster never to be known as Oscar is now plopped on my plate at a dinner party in honor of my man-friend’s 37th birthday. There’s a lot of wine already consumed, and even a bottle of Patron which has gotten a bit of a workout.  The four others smile with delight, and expertly crack open their bugs.

I freeze.

I also eye some potatoes and asparagus across the table, wondering if I can hide the bug under those, and not have to eat it. I then start to plot putting it back onto the pile of lobsters in the queue for round two when, “Here honey, let me help you.”  The man-friend reaches over, cracks open the shell and pulls out the meat in expert fashion before I can say anything.  He then puts it back on my plate.

I see a slimy film on the meat and say, “What’s that?”

“Eggs?” He shrugs. This confirms my initial thought.

 I cannot eat this.

Luckily, the bottle of Patron did its job and suddenly my best-friend appeared.  Drunkenness. On everyone’s part.  The laughter, conversation and the fact that the meal was shared with loved ones overpowered any of the negativity that may have been oozing from my face.  I did eat some of the lobster and fully agree that lobster tastes good. It’s just not an easy food for me to eat.

The dinner was quite wonderful, and I got to celebrate the birth of my favorite person ever with the woman who made it all happen. Besides, not eating the lobster left plenty of room for delicious birthday cake.

From Sake Bombs to Matzoh Balls, and Everything in Between…

So much to blog and so little time.  Okay, top 5 memories from the last three weeks:

1) Sake bomb introduction.  “Hello there pitcher of beer and sake wine decanter.”  The best invention (and the host of the evening ) might be the all you can eat Sushi restaurant in Tribeca called Ashiya Sushi. I won’t lie, the sushi is good, but not wonderful, but don’t go there for the Sushi.  The secret is, this is one of the few all-you-can-eat sushi joints that BEER AND SAKE is INCLUDED. Take my lead and go with 20 of your closest friends and chase each piece of Sushi with a Sake Bomb!  For those who don’t know the recipe for a sake bomb, it is FANTASTIC.  You take a sake glass and fill’er up. Then, you fill a pint glass to 3/4 full.  Then, you carefully arrange the sake glass on a “bridge” of your chopsticks, which you lay on top of the glass.  Then, you smack the table, the sake cup falls into the Pint Glass, and you drink the whole thing.  Obviously, you need to be with the right group of people for this place AND you need to plan to be drunk, ’cause if you aren’t drunk, you’ll be the only one.  THAT is never fun. And, for another reco, follow up this experience by booking a private karaoke room at Duet 35  for you and your friends.  Both of these plans made for a very fun Asian-themed drunk-fest!

2) Went for 3 really good, longer training runs.  They were the first 5+ mile runs I had done since my knee started acting up, and they went quite well.  There’s nothing like a spring day long run with beautiful scenery to back it up. This makes me smile.

3) My bike came!  And she’s super pretty.  I cannot wait to hit the roads with Molly!  The man-friend put her together (with a little help from Kingston Cyclery) and now I am ready to hit the road!  While awaiting her arrival, I have been doing brick workouts at my gym using the treadmill and the exercise bike.  I gotta say, if you have never done that, it’s a fabulous experience in balance and determination the first few times you give that a go.  (A brick workout is a bike-ride following a run.) You have to balance your desire to step off the bike and go shower with your desire to NEVER MOVE YOUR LEGS AGAIN! They will feel like bricks, and you’ll contemplate spending the rest of your life standing still.  The first time I experienced this, I FORGOT that what I had just done was a brick workout. I was just biking following a run on the treadmill to help my knee issues.  I hoped off the bike following a three mile run and an 8 mile ride and…fell.  And laughed.  There’s always laughter.  I then remembered what this was (from hearing stories from others) and stretched.  Eventually I was able to walk again. It’s a good kind of pain though, and I am happy that I am now ready to take the act of biking out of the gym.  Open road, here I come!!  And I mean that quite likely literally too, so I bought a first aid kit and tools.

4) High-Fay-ave!  Have you seen the movie Borat?  I can’t lie, I am more than a little bit of a prankster.  On a whim one night, while laying in bed, I decided to tell the man-friend that Linus (my overly anxious chihuahua)  gives high fives. “But only if you request it of him using the accent from Borat.”  I demonstrated a few times, and then forgot.  It’s a little ridiculous to think that my dog responds to any word at all, let alone throwing in a language barrier. The truth is, Linus does give high fives, but only when he lies on his back, paws in the air, and you put your hand up for him, already kinda near his paw, and he has to only stretch a few inches.  I think it’s more of a protection mechanism.  It’s certainly nothing I have taught him, but I think it’s cute, so I’ve encouraged.  But you don’t have to say a word, and you certainly don’t need to use a Kazakstan-ian accent.  What language do they speak there anyway?!?  Regardless, I had forgotten about it until a few days later I hear the man-friend in the other room say to the doglet, “HIGH-Fayve” with an outstretched hand.  Tears fell.  Belly laughter.  Days worth of smiles for me.  It was great.

5) The Passover Sedar.  I went to two of them this year (which beats the previous years zero) and found that sometimes religion can be enjoyable.  I have nothing funny to say about this.  Just truth.

My apologies for the lack of recent blogging.  I’ve been traveling for work, and just downright exhausted.  But don’t worry, the bike is bound to cause ridiculousness (have I mentioned I’ve never ridden a bike with varying speeds??) , and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Good times, Good fun!

Post Races "Recovery" Drinks!

I can’t say that I really earned the tower of empty beer cans, or the mass quantities of good ole’ BBQ/Soul food from The Smoke Joint that were consumed following the NYC 13.1 run in Flushing Meadows park, this past weekend, but I sure had a good time at the day’s festivities.

Two new friends and I ran the 5K race part of the festival, which was very fun. I myself did it at a leisurely pace and enjoyed the sunny but cool run through the park.  There were tennis courts and soccer fields and the Queens Museum of Art. Marching bands played to cheer folks on, and passers-by smiled and clapped.  It was just an enjoyable time.

The man-friend and a few other running buddies did the half marathon, so they DID earn the beer and the BBQ.  And while, as you know, I am not a time competitive runner, ALL of my buddies BEAT the times they wanted to!!! My good friend Dan also came down to join in the camaraderie and assist with the good times.  It was the perfect race to kick off the running season and get me excited about running again.  Now I am STOKED about training for my half in September.

In other interesting news, I did “crack” and buy a road bike.  I did not, however, break the bank. I bought it from bikesdirect.com, and the man-friend wants to give-it-a-go at putting it together for me. So, it may ride backwards.  Or accelerate when I squeeze the brakes.  But sometimes love is about riding a bike backwards or without being able to stop to make your partner happy.

See?  Who says I am not a good girlfriend? Pfft.