Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pound the Alarm

As a child, I was an early riser.  I enjoyed the stillness of the house, as I got ready for school each day.  The older I got, the harder it was to get up.  During my college years, I worked second and third shifts so getting up an hour or two after I went to bed became out of the question.  My night owl ways continued into adulthood and the snooze button became my intimate friend.  

The only time I have consistently woken up early and without the aid of an alarm clock is on my birthday.  Each year, my body instinctively wakes up within seconds of my time of birth, 6:06am.  Most often, no one else is awake so I’m not sure why this occurs; it just does.  Often, I will fall back to sleep, reveling in the magnificence of what our brains are capable of.

When the kids were small and not yet in school, I rarely had a need to get up early and so, I relied on the cries of an infant or a sweet toddler’s voice asking me for breakfast to rouse me from slumber.  For more than the past decade, I’ve needed to get up early to get children ready for school, and poor Joe has paid the price because I am a snoozaholic.  I’ve been known to hit the snooze button so many times that my alarm clock will whimper in defeat after attempting to rouse me for more than an hour.  I set multiple alarms with multiple different ring tones at varying times to ensure that I, GET UP ALREADY!  Joe’s least favorite tones are a Tarzan yell and a lively bagpipe tune.  I’ve hidden alarms in our bedroom so that I have to drag myself out of bed to turn them off in hopes that, once I’m vertical, I’ll stay that way.  

Clearly, I have a problem.  But, in my defense, it is a very rare thing that I am late getting up.  “Wait a minute,” you say, “How can that be”?  Easy.  I have set so many alarms so early that I’ve allotted myself a multitude of snooze slaps before I subconsciously know when it’s time to wake up FOR REAL this time.

“Just go to bed earlier”, you say.  Well, when the kids were little, I/we stayed up later just so that I/we could have a little me/us time to spend with each other or to watch what I wanted on television or to read or to veg or whatever else I/we wanted to do without little people underfoot.  They are now old enough and perfectly capable of putting themselves to bed, but they don’t.  They, like Joe and me, get distracted reading or puttering around on the computer or their assorted electronic devices.  Joe and I, therefore, must be the enforcers of bedtime as good parents are wont to do.  Since their bedtimes get later and later, our “us” time is less and less.  And so, the snooze button gets used more and more, much to Joe’s dismay since he has very little trouble getting up after hitting the snooze button just once.

Bless Joe!  He is such a tolerant man to have put up with my snoozing for as long as he has.   He is also a smart man and a kind one.  As I was trying to figure out what to give up for Lent this year, he cheerfully suggested that I give up my ridiculous over-reliance on my snooze buttons.  I opted for giving up swearing, but I saw his point.  It wasn’t fair of me to continually disturb his sleep by blaring Scottish bagpipes or having a Tarzan yell break the early morning silence and then listen to me as I jerkily slap blindly at my clock or cell phone to turn them off only to repeat the process three or five minutes later, depending on which alarm was going to go off next in the sequence.

 I let out a heavy sigh and agreed with his suggestion.  I dutifully turned off my alarm clock alarms (yes, I had two), changed the alarm tone on a couple of alarms, opting for gentle morning noises that gradually increased in volume, and adjusted the time my one remaining alarm would go off.  I left my Tarzan and bagpipe ring tones on my alarms to get the kids out the door because I still get distracted even if I am vertical. 

On Ash Wednesday, I was up and out of bed before the serene morning interlude even had a chance to rev up.  Days #2 and 3 were the same.  Day #4 was a Saturday – big training days for us and usually also occupied with kids’ activities.  I got up with the alarm and that’s been the trend since then.  I’ve only had a few days when I’ve hit the snooze; that was the deal – no multiple snooze button attacks.  Even on Sundays when I get up at 0500 to get my long runs in before church, I’ve been good about getting up. 

The experts say that it takes six weeks to engrain a habit, be it exercise, eating right, or even not hitting the snooze button.  I’m halfway there but I must say, I’m pleased with the results so far.  I love being up in the morning but then, I always have.  I enjoy the solitude, the stillness of the house.  At dawn, the day holds so much promise and I love watching the sun come up.  I still struggle with the desire to hit the snooze, to snuggle in closer to Joe for a few more minutes, but I’ve learned to resist the urge and just get up.   

My body is also responding to the new regime.  I can barely keep my eyes open past ten these days.  I get the kids to bed and generally collapse.  This is worse than when they were babies.  Maybe it’s just age - The next thing you know, I’m gonna want to hit the “Blue Light Specials”! 

The things we do in the name of religion.  Ah well, it could be worse…  Inquisition, anyone?

Monday, March 17, 2014


When I was going through chemo, I was first diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma.  After different treatments with only minimal positive effects, my diagnosis was changed to full up asthma, although it was only considered a minor case.  As much as it bugged me, I went with it and dutifully took the medicine they prescribed – two inhalers and Singulair.  One inhaler was a daily, two time a day one and one when I exercised, so almost everyday.  I did this for two years.  I was underwhelmed with the effects of the medicine.  It didn’t seem to help much with my shortness of breath and I still had bouts of wheezing when I raced which my pulmonologist chalked up to a regular side effect of being an endurance athlete.  It’s not.

I’ve tried going off of my inhalers before, but after a week of being really short of breath, I’d realize that I really did need them and start back up again, grumbling the entire time.  This summer, my pulmonologist decided that I could try a different daily inhaler that didn’t have a bronchodilator in it, just a steroid.  “Great”, I thought, “Now we’re getting somewhere.”  And then he gave me the instructions.  Instead of the traditional L-shaped inhaler, the new one was tubular.   That was not the problem.  It was “how” the medicine was administered.  You put the inhaler partway into your mouth and sucked.  Every single time I had to use the inhaler, I felt like I was a “fluffer”.  If you don’t know what that term refers to, lucky you.  For those of you that do, you’ll understand my dismay.

After a couple of months of this, I decided once more to try to wean myself off of this latest inhaler, since it, like it predecessor didn’t seem to be doing much good.  Over a couple of weeks, I slowly weaned myself off of the offending inhaler, all the while still using my rescue inhaler with my workouts as needed.  I also continued to use my Singulair despite my misgivings.   I had only recently found out from a friend that Singulair could cause depression or depressive symptoms in some people.  The pulmonologist neglected to mention this to me when I asked about potential side effects.  I had started to wonder if my flare-ups of temper might not be exacerbated not only by living with a teenager, but also from the medication. 

Since I seemed to do all right without the daily inhaler, I started to also wean myself off of the Singulair.   I was still breathing pretty well and my post-cancer allergy symptoms were kept at bay with just taking a daily dose of Zyrtec.  Whoo hoo!  Two medications down, two to go.  After about a month or so off of the Singulair, I asked Joe if he had noticed a difference in my propensity towards flying off of the handle.  I thought I had “evened out”, but I wanted an expert’s opinion.  Joe is the closest thing to an expert on me as I can get.  Notice a difference?  He definitely had. 

Meds – 2, Gen – 2

Next up was the Zyrtec.  Since it was winter, I figured that was as good a time as any to go off of the allergy meds – no pollens or allergens floating through the air, or so I thought.  I lasted three days off of the Zyrtec.  Coming from a family with a weakness towards seasonal allergies, I shouldn’t have been surprised.  It was still a tied score and a bit of a stalemate, or so I thought. 

I was discussing my self-withdrawal from my meds with my BFF Carolyn a few weeks back.  She has suffered from a multitude of medical conditions for a long time, including asthma, is a nurse and obstinate like me, so I trust her judgment implicitly.  She too has attempted to wean herself off of medications with varying degrees of success.  Having been her “voice of reason” more than once, it was time to check in with her. 

She didn’t seem to have any issues with my self-weaning technique until I mentioned that I’d been using my rescue inhaler almost daily before workouts.  All of a sudden, our conversation took on a serious tone; I shouldn’t be using the rescue inhaler almost daily as it could potentially cause cardiac issues later on.  Apparently revving up my heart rate on an almost daily basis is not a good idea.  Maybe that’s why they have that disclaimer on the Viagra commercials about your heart being healthy for sex.  Perhaps they should put it on the inhaler packaging as well…

“But my heart rate is naturally really low,” I whined.  Seriously, my resting heart rate is in the low 50s.  Not a good idea was still Carolyn’s advice.  “Okay,” I grudgingly agreed.  I would try to not use my rescue inhaler more than a couple of times a week.  So far, so good as long as my workouts are inside.  The few times that I’ve attempted to do a workout outside or a race, I end up very short of breath or coughing and wheezing.  I’ve cut my inhaler usage down to only a few times a week.  Yay, me! 

Meds – 1.5; Gen – 2.5.  I’ll take it!

I often wonder why my symptoms have improved so much within the past year.  The doctors have told me repeatedly that all of the toxins and side effects of the medications and chemo should have been out of my system within a year of finishing it all.  If that were the case, my symptoms should have abated well over a year ago.  It was only this fall when I felt like things started settling down again.  Even my arm stopped swelling as much as it used to.  I now only wear my sleeve about once or twice a month.  Perhaps some of us just take longer to get rid of everything? 

On another positive note, after my appointments with Dr. B and Dr. C last month, I have officially graduated to only seeing them once every six months for the next two years.  All of my labs came back fine; my tumor marker even dropped from 12 to 9.  Dr. C did my annual ultrasound (aka, the BC gal’s version of a mammogram) and ordered a bone density screening as he noticed some changes to my posture.  The bone density screening came back normal as well, so I guess I just need to work on my posture for the next six months until it’s time to get another checkup. 

Smooth sailin.  That’s a good thing. :-)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Making of a Ham

For years, Joe and I have been trying to add more and more healthier foods into our already varied diet.  I say already varied because this is what happens when you have one person who lived in Europe and Asia marry another person who, while she never lived abroad, had parents who were foodies before it was cool.   While we don’t go for weird or too far out there, Joe and I have always been willing to try new cuisines.  Our first official date was to an Indian restaurant.  Neither of us had ever eaten Indian food, but we were game and we’ve never looked back.

During our financially lean years, our food choices and variety were a bit limited, as well as my time to prepare them.  This is what happens when you go from being DINKS to being first-time parents on a first-year airline pilot’s salary and a stay-at-home mom.  It was our choice,yes, but the smaller salary than a first-year teacher was quite a shock to the system! 

We did the best we could, but there was a lot of Hamburger Helper eaten in our house during those first couple of years.  It was quick, easy and inexpensive; all things that I needed to feed my family.  I used as much fresh food as I could and even made my own baby food, but our budget just couldn’t swing the organic foods that were becoming vogue.  Occasionally, I’d look at the organic milk prices and gag.  Who in their right mind would pay that much for organic milk??? 

Thanks to some savvy friends, I started thinking that I really should be feeding my kids at least some organic foods if at all possible when Jamie was a baby.  I’d just have to make a few more concessions.   At his nine-month check-up, Jamie fell off of the growth charts.  He was not growing as fast or as much as his peers.  After tons and tons of testing, the docs diagnosed him with short-stature resulting from a benign genetic anomaly.  One chromosomal anomaly came from Joe that in and of itself, causes very few people to stand up and take notice.  However, when it is paired with the Cystic Fibrosis gene that Jamie inherited from me, the resulting side effects can lead to short stature and infertility. 

To give our boy a fighting chance at achieving his maximum height and to rid him and his sisters of as much unnecessary hormones/pesticides, we traded the regular grocery store, hormone-added milk with the organic milk.  Over time, we’ve started adding other organic dairy, meats, fruits and veggies.  While not everything we eat is organic, I read labels more and try to get the least processed food items that I can, except for certain comfort or snack foods like Doritos or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.   :-)

Organic dairy, fruits, veggies, chicken and beef have been somewhat mainstream for a while now.  Living in a small city, I make do with what I can.  As the kids have gotten older and need me less, I have more time to make more and more things from scratch so that helps.  That Hamburger Helper that I used to rely on so heavily when the kids were tiny?  Well, I can make an ever better version from scratch.  Case in point: I went away on my Mommy Girls’ Weekend last year and, when I came home, the kids raged about the “AWFUL” thing Dad had made them.  That “AWFUL” thing -- Hamburger Helper from the box.  When I informed them that I make it for them they insisted the box version was nothing like my homemade version!! 

While I could easily get organic beef and poultry, although not cheaply, I could rarely find organic pork.  That was tough because this family LOVES pork – ham, bacon, chops, roasts, bacon, bacon, bacon, you name it!  I mentioned this in passing one day to my massage terrorist to which he commented that he had a friend that raised organic, free-range pigs.  Well, glory be! 

I started out tentatively, getting some organic pork sausage.  After that, we went “whole hog” and split the cost of a pig with friends who were also trying to go towards a more organic lifestyle.  I started clearing out the freezer to make room for our half of a piggy.  Being true to form in my love for animals, I felt badly on the day that our porker was taken to the processor – translation: butcher.  Ernest, our processor, is a good old Southern gentleman.  I missed about every third word when he called to discuss what cuts of pork we wanted.  Having never ordered up a half of a pig, I was clueless.  I told him that we’d like some chops, some ribs, ham, bacon, and ground pork, but I’d leave the details up to him.  When I hung up the phone, I told Joe I had no idea what we were going to get. 

When the time came to go and get our piggy parts, we piled all of the kids into the car and drove the forty-five minutes to Ernest’s shop.  We wanted the kids to know kind of where their food came from.  Ernest, we discovered, has a soft spot for kids.  Jamie was crashed in the car having just returned from a Boy Scout function and Michelle was frantically working on homework, but Josie was all eyes and ears.  Ernest was in his element.  He took her and Joe and me through the coolers where there were carcasses of wild pig, deer and cow hanging.  We went past two Muslim gentlemen who were busily butchering a goat and peered into the “parts” bin.  Josie asked intelligent questions and was interested in everything from the carcasses to the equipment Ernest used in his craft. 
Freezer full of Fred 
Fred, as we had christened our pig that gave his life for us, took up one and half shelves in our freezer and was, when we did the math, much cheaper than even the non-organic pork from the grocery store.  The chops were thick, as was the bacon, and the hams were HUGE, but alas, uncured.  We got everything that we asked for and even a few extra bones in case I get a hankering to make some split pea soup, which, unless my parents come for a visit soon, I probably won’t.

As I’ve mentioned, we love ham and bacon, but I had no idea how to cure a ham.  I got on the Internet to see if anyone else did though.  Sure enough, there were several sites that guaranteed that I too could easily make my own ham and bacon!  All I needed were a few simple ingredients and some time.  The only thing I didn’t have was saltpeter aka, pink curing salt.  Enter Amazon. <g>

I thawed out a ham that was bigger than the cat, made my brine, stuck the ham into the largest stock pot that I owned, stuffed it into the fridge and prayed that in a week’s time, I’d have a ham and not a ten pound botulism infested hunk of organic pork.  After the allotted time, I pulled it out of the stockpot.  It looked like ham, but it still needed to be cooked.  I slathered it with brown sugar and maple syrup and put it in the oven to cook slowly throughout the afternoon.  Hour by hour, the house began to smell more and more like ham.  Dinnertime came and we sat down to taste home-cured ham of Fred, mashed potatoes and asparagus.  Fred was oh so delicious and no one died of botulism.  It truly was as easy as the websites made it out to be and the result was so much cheaper, tender and healthier than what we could have bought in the store.   Despite initially being so far out of my cooking element, I had done it. 
One very large thawed ham

One brine

Deposit the ham in the brine.

Put in the fridge for a week.

After a week, rinse off the brine.

Cover it with brown sugar and maple syrup and slowly bake it.

Paired with taters and a veggie - delicious!

Next up… home-cured bacon.
Bacon ready for its' brine.

Homemade deliciousness!!!!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tonight, I'm sleeping with Batman!

The bad news is that I didn’t get a PR and that I got a gash to the head right before the start of today’s race.  The good news is, tonight, I’m sleeping with Batman!

Today we ran the Museum of Aviation’s Half-Marathon for the sixth year in a row.  We have run it every year since we moved here.  It was my very first ever half-marathon, so I’m a bit nostalgic about the race.  It wasn’t pretty, but I even did it the year I was going through chemo.  We usually have a big gaggle of friends from our Crazy Joes team and it’s loads of fun seeing everyone out on the course.  Invariably, we have one or two people doing their first half or full marathon.  Being the consummate cheerleader, running them in or cheering at the finish line is my favorite part of the race.   This year, I got to run in my fellow BC buddy Jane as she ran her first half, on her birthday nonetheless!

Being that the race is in January, it is almost always cold.  I don’t mind; I enjoy running in the cold.  This year was no different.  The temps were in the twenties when we started and rose to the low thirties when we finished.  No biggie.  That’s what trash bags are for.  I actually wore mine longer than normal, keeping it until mile four because I decided to leave my jacket behind (more on that later). 

In addition to the unusually cold temps we’ve been having, we’ve also been having a lot of rain this winter.  So much so in fact, the road on the back side of the run course got washed out.  That’s a lot of rain!  Because of the washed out road, the race officials had to reroute the course.  Instead of making a loop of the base, we did an out and back.  This is bad.  Not only did it make the course a bit boring <Boo!>, but also the marathon course is normally a Boston Marathon qualifier.  The new course could not be certified, therefore, no Boston qualifying.  Double Boo!

This morning dawned cold and windy, just how windy we were soon to find out.  I dragged Joe out of bed at 0500 to come with me to volunteer for packet pickup.  I did my stint passing out packets with smiles and words of encouragement.  We then posed for the Team Crazy Joes pre-race picture that, as Team Mom, I always cajole, nay guilt everyone into doing.  And then, it was almost go time.

I went to put something in my bag that was stowed under one of the jets on display (Only at a military race do you stow your bags under a jet, right?).   As I stood up, I whacked my head on the nose of the jet.  I whacked it so hard and as hardheaded as I am, my eyes started watering and I saw stars for a second.  Being the medical professional that I am, I immediately started a self-assessment.  I knew the date, time, where I was and all those general orientation questions.  I was not dizzy or nauseated, but I did have a headache, go figure.  Alrighty then.  I said a little prayer that I didn’t begin vomiting or have a seizure on the course and it was go time. 

Joe received a set of Batman jammies from his Endurance Nation teammate and secret Santa Shannon for Christmas.  He was subsequently tripe-dog dared to wear them for a race.  Joe will do just about anything for a good, so it was game on.  Since he’s been plagued with heel pain from his plantar fasciitis, he knew there was no way he would PR.  Instead, he said he would pace me.  Yay!  Not only would I be running with Joe but I’d be running with Batman.   How lucky can a girl get? 

Before the race, I told Joe that I’d really like to try for a PR.  I’d have to run about 8:45s to get a PR, something that I knew I could easily do for a 5K and could do on the treadmill, but was unsure if I could sustain on an outside run.  Turns out, I couldn’t.

I did fine on the first three miles.  And even mile four wasn’t too bad, but then we hit the WIND!  Joe doesn’t think the wind was that bad, but he must have been running in a different wind than the rest of us.  Everyone else that I spoke with after the race spoke of the same wind to which I refer.  At mile nine, the leg cramps hit, but rather than admit it to Joe, I kept running, just slower than I had been.  Our buddy Jerry passed us on mile ten.  There aren’t many people that I don’t mind passing me in a race but he’s one that it didn’t bother me.  I tried to step it up on the final mile and was cheered to see our friend Josh (who graciously took my water bottle) and heard several others cheering me on.  As I rounded the corner for the last push to the finish, I did a lot of self-motivating talk and scanned the finish line for my Brownies who were volunteering at the finish line.  As I crossed the finish line, I was engulfed in a sea of little faces pushing water, tissues, hugs and a medal at me, all of them talking at once.  What a rewarding way to end a race!  Poor Joe.  I don’t think anyone but Josie even noticed that he crossed just a second behind me, his Batman cape fluttering in the wind. 

As with any race, I goofed up some things, but I was happy with other things.  I goofed up by not starting to eat my bananas a few days before the race to ward off cramps.  I should have done more outside running than I have to prepare myself for running in the wind.  I did fuel and hydrate well during the race, but after running more than a dozen other half-marathons; I think I’ve figured out my system there.  I was appropriately dressed; I am a freak in that I really don’t mind running in the cold.  And, after running this race for five years previous, I finally ran up the hill on mile ten.  THAT was a huge milestone for me!

I would have loved to have gotten a PR, but after thinking long and hard about why I don’t push myself just that little bit more, I shared my theory to Joe.  I think I’m afraid to push myself from fear of injury and fear of a full-blown asthma attack.  I’ve had so many injuries in the past few years that I’m now more timid during races and in training.  I don’t want to backslide.  Prudence over folly I say.

I am always short of breath for several days after any half-marathon I run.  In fact, I started coughing within minutes of crossing the finish line.  I had used my inhaler before the race and had to do so again shortly after the race.  After we got home I coughed almost non-stop for two hours before my lungs started to settle down.  Talk about an abdominal workout on top of a cardio workout! 

A couple of years ago, I asked my pulmonologist about my shortness of breath after races and he laughed and told me that he’d probably feel the same way.   Even though the shortness of breath and coughing are a nuisance, I can deal with both if I can continue to race.  I’m afraid if I push myself even more, I’ll throw myself into a full-blown asthma attack out on the course and wind up in the hospital.  I love to run, but that’s not a cost that I’m willing to pay.  I feel a bit wimpy saying that, like I should be able to “handle” or “control” my asthma better, but I guess with age comes wisdom, right?

All I know is… tonight; I’m sleeping with Batman! :0)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Channeling My Inner Zebra?

As athletes, we all have our rituals and checklists.  Certain clothes need to be worn and aren’t worn for several weeks before the race just in case there is a cataclysmic breakdown of all washers and dryer in a six state radius of one’s race.  Bags need to be packed with the precision of a NASA employee sending someone to the ISS. 

And then, there’s the nutrition…  When you’re young, it’s not as big of a deal.  You can eat pizza and drink beer until two in the morning, get up and race the next day like it’s just another day at the office.  Not so when you’re middle-aged or beyond.  Meal planning starts days, weeks or sometimes months before the race.  We all know that fiber is usually our friend.  Not so a couple of days before a big race.

Fiber + big race = big dump… in a port-a-potty… out on the course…       where TP is not always accessible.   Not fun. 

Yes, as athletes, we’re a quirky bunch.  Joe saves his checklists from races and we eat the same thing (if possible) the night before a race – “Dad’s Easy Chicken”.  He has me write some phrase of the day on his arms before his Ironman races.  And, Joe has instilled in me the need to get a good night’s rest two nights before the race, because he says that’s the sleep you race on, not the sleep from the night before your race.  My buddy Stefanie paints her toenails bright pink and her fingernails black to remind herself to be tough, but to have fun.   Don and Megan eat cinnamon rolls for breakfast together on race day.  I wear something pink, to remind me to remember those that can’t race.  Coffee and McDonalds on race morning are also popular with our crowd.

As I showered today I was thinking about all the things we do in hopes that our races will be easier, that we will be faster, stronger, better.  As luck would have it, I was rinsing out the zebra-print headband at the time.  “I know,” I thought, “I need to come up a visual cue that will help me stay in my box and focus during my races this year.  A fun animal print would be good.”  

Now, those that know me and know my wardrobe will tell you that while I love bright colors, I’m not a pattern kind of gal.  Being as petite as people tell me I am (I’m not that small, people!), I generally stick to solid colors or small patterns.  And things must match!  I loved Granimals as a kid.  There is a reason my scuba instructor called me Gap Girl. 

The only reason that I even had a zebra print headband was because it was included in a multi-pack of headbands.  Since I was wearing purple and black workout gear today, I figured it “went” well enough.  But, I digress.  Back to my newly formed and soon-to-be-instituted ritual –an animal print something or other to make me feel bold, to make me feel, strong, to make me feel fast…  Yeah, I know.  A girl can dream.

What’s the fastest land mammal?  A cheetah.  “That’s it!  I’ll find some fun cheetah-print item to wear when I race,” I thought. 

But then I started thinking about cheetahs.  While they may be the fastest land mammals, they are sprinters and peter out after only a few short minutes of work.  I am a distance athlete.  I need to swim and bike and then run some more to reach the finish line.  And, when you look at a cheetah’s success rate, it’s pretty paltry.  Only fifty percent of a cheetahs hunts are successful.  And really, how many of us really look like the human version of a cheetah?  Well, yeah, Chrissie Wellington or Meredith Kessler do and Andy Potts or Jesse Thomas, but I’m talking about regular real people, not pros or genetic anomalies.   

I am not a cheetah; I identify more with zebras.  Just for fun I pulled up a couple of websites about zebras to do a little research.  My favorite was this one from Kids Konnect:
According to the website, zebras have excellent eyesight (For seeing the course clearly, my dear.), great hearing (The better to hear the competition coming up behind them, my dear.), and excellent sense of taste and smell (To smell the competition’s fear and to taste sweet victory, my dear.). It stated that zebras are short, stocky, social animals.  Zebras were sounding more and more like me than the lithe, beautiful solitary cheetahs. 

Next I checked Google to see how fast zebras and cheetahs could run.  Here’s a nifty little website although they don’t have cheetahs as one of their highlighted animals.  According to this website, zebras can run up to forty miles per hour.  A cheetah can go from zero to sixty in less than three seconds, but remember… its’ success rate for kills is only about 50%.  Talk about good odds for the zebras, especially when you take into consideration that the cheetahs aren’t always targeting only zebras.  I’ll take the zebras’ odds any day.  I know.   I know.   What about when you factor in the kill rates of lions with the cheetahs against the zebras?  I still think the zebras would be ahead of the power curve, and have you EVER seen ANY lion-print accessories?  Work with me here.   

 So, based on my not-so-extensive or scientific research, I think that when I compare animals in the animal kingdom; I am more like a zebra than a cheetah.  Look for my super-cool zebra print accessories that I’ll be sporting this season.  I hope that it’ll make me faster.  If not, I’d better practice my dodge and weave technique to avoid the cheetahs out on the course.

Friday, January 10, 2014

My New Coach

This year, in addition to my other New Year’s resolutions, I’ve added one to be better about doing core work.  I’ll admit it: while I’m almost fanatical about completing my prescribed run workouts, I’ve been really bad about consistently doing core work.  This is the year I’ve committed to try to do something about it.  The experts say that it takes six weeks to get a habit engrained in your brain.  Here’s hoping.

For the uninitiated, core work is basically a fancy way of saying abdominal work.  After three babies and four-plus decades, my core ain’t what it used to be.  I’ve been wondering for a while if some of my endless injuries couldn’t be even slightly the result of a weak core.  And, everything you read these days indicates that to get faster and stronger, you need a strong core.  Okay.  Okay.  I get it.  Time to work on the core!

As much as I used to lament my rest days, now I cherish them.  Ah, a rest day!  I can be a slug.  Well, not really as those of you that know me know, but you understand, right?  No workout clothes are required, but there’s always something on my plate, so get showered, get dressed and out the door.

While my current training plan calls for two rest days each week, it also has the caveat that I should be doing core work on those days.  Huh?  No more complete rest days?  It’s just twenty minutes, but to my brain, that’s still a workout.  But, do I even bother to dirty some workout clothes for a measly twenty-minute core workout when I just as easily pull the clothes I wore out of the hamper from the night before?  That’s what I usually do to walk the dog anyway.  One problem solved. 

Problem number two: what core workout do I do?  There are so many out there, but this time, in hopes that I’ll stick to it, I’m gonna do my own thing and go with what feels right for that particular day.  I plan to do a combination of yoga and traditional abdominal work with maybe some Pilates thrown in for good measure.  I miss doing a traditional yoga class, but there hardly seems time for it anymore with all the other workouts each week.  Plus, I haven’t found a class at a good time for me.  And lastly, I miss my old yoga instructor in Miami.  He was great and his workouts always kicked my butt, in a good way.

Coach Joe is great for the running, biking and swimming questions and concerns and for the motivation that I need.  He, like me though, hasn’t been great about doing consistent core work.  It was time to bring in a fresh face so, in addition to Coach Joe, I have a new coach this year.  My new coach doesn’t say a whole lot, but he’s demanding and gets right up in my face when I’m struggling.  His gaze is steady and reproachful when I’m starting to tire.  His praise and motivation, when given, help me to laugh and smile, a huge plus when my muscles are on fire or about ready to give out.  Occasionally, he will deign to stretch with me but, like all good coaches, he has his own times to work out and his own workouts that he strictly adheres to.  Oh, and I forgot to mention, he’s really ripped and, I think, quite handsome. 

Meet my new coach: