Sunday, April 29, 2012

Recipe For Roast Duck

Yesterday was a nice, hot Texas day.  The only thing that was missing was the deep humidity of Florida.  Apparently, I can't feel dry heat.  I would have told you it was high 70's or low 80's (try low-mid 90's) when I headed out for my long run with speed work in the middle.

I did not bring any water since there are water fountains on the trail and I hate carrying anything.  This is fine if it is under 90 degrees but not so fine for what we had yesterday.  I started the run feeling ok, though I had to slow myself down a few times (ease off the gas, you've got a long way to go!) but as things progressed, fine became a memory.  During the third interval, I felt myself blow up and I ended up walking between the third and fourth and after the fourth before the balance of the mileage.  I had passed several water fountains early on because my stomach was upset but later regretted that.  I got really thirsty during the second interval but didn't find water right away.  By the time I spotted one, I was really getting desperate.  I ran up to it only to find it broken, as was the next one I found.  At this point, I knew I might be getting into some trouble.  I kept running but my pace dropped to a crawl.

I eventually did find one… after close to 5 miles.  I got a drink and headed over the bridge.  Of course, lapping water at a water fountain did not give me enough to replenish what was lost.  By the time I got to the other side I was toast.  I started walking frequently and was REALLY lightheaded.  I came to another water fountain, then another maybe a quarter mile further down, where I also ate a gel.  Right after that one was a water station run by a local business (there are a number of these in Austin).  At that one, I was able to drain a cup of water.  This added up to a second wind, unfortunately there was no water for the remainder of the run… another 3.5 miles.  By the end, I was struggling to jog a few minutes between walk breaks.

When I got back to my car, I drained a bottle of water and immediately got stomach cramps.  That actually didn't surprise me so I wasn't too worried but it was a while before I could get my recovery drink into my stomach.  Eventually I did, though not in the recommended thirty minutes.  It was more like an hour and a half.  I then cancelled my plans for the evening and went to bed early.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you roast a Duck!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Deep, Heartfelt Apology

Well, I spent a week in Tulsa and before I left I spent a day appreciating Tulsa.  This is something I rarely do.  I travel to different cities because they host a horse show, work like a crazy thing, and leave without ever seeing the city.  Years ago I went to the Tulsa horse show and found it the city to be… undesirable.  I wrote a blog entry likening the feel of the city to the baleful stare of a refugee.  The first six days I was in Tulsa did nothing to change my mind.  The final day, however, made me realize that I owed this city an apology.

Real life Mater seen on a street in Austin
My long run on Friday took me down Historic rt. 66, which is lined with junkyards, pawn shops, and buy here-pay here lots.  I did not see any members of the cast of "Cars", though 'Mater may have a cousin or two residing in this vicinity.  As a ran, crunching along on broken glass, navigating the curb most of the time because there was neither a sidewalk nor a shoulder to speak of, I lost all interest in the historic qualities of the route.  Most of my remaining runs were in a tiny park near the campground.  It was two large sink holes with a gravel path along their edges.  It wasn't scenic and the path was only about .3 mi, but at least it was free of traffic and broken glass.

The last day, however, I ventured outside of my 2.5 mile radius and discovered something.  There is a beautiful city with a lot of great offerings waiting for anyone who wishes to simply cross the river!! Since I couldn't get a camper spot at the park in Austin where I had my reservation until Tuesday, I did my long ride in Tulsa and then went exploring a little bit.  I didn't get pictures of some areas but did stop at one point for photo ops.

I discovered a few things.

1.) Oklahoma?  NOT FLAT!!  1145 ft of elevation gain in my little 40 mile ride from exactly three hills.  Not the Alps, but seriously?  NOT FLAT!  I was whizzing down one of the hills at one point when I felt the back of the bike go all wobbly.  Flat tire… at 36 mph.  Awesome.  I got nearly to the top of the next rise on that flat since I didn't relish the idea of climbing that thing from a standstill before I had to stop to change it.  I recently upgraded my tires and this was my first flat on them.  I must have struggled with it for 20 minutes before I finally wrestled it off the rim.  Apparently the key is to use all three tire levers together and scream obscenities at the top of your lungs!  I ended up having to cut the ride short since I didn't have the time (or the water and nutrition) to be out for an extra half hour.
And I thought "Oh, how cute!  A little hill in OK!"  

2.)  Oklahoma?  Not bland.  The road was, at worst, completely useful and at it's best, totally beautiful.  Lush greenery and blooming trees made it easy on the eyes and tough on the sinuses.  There were parks everywhere with stunning landscaping, natural areas that were lush and emerald green, a fabulous paved bike path that wound along the river and offered a perfectly civilized place to get some mileage, though speed was reduced to accommodate tight turns and short, steep climbs, the worst of which was at the end of the trail right before it turned to dirt for the mountain bikers.

3.)  Oklahoma?  Not all apple pie.  The architecture of the city was fabulous.  There was a great deal of obvious European influence.  Many of the apartment buildings had stucco exteriors with cast iron balconies, decorated with flowering plants, giving the impression of the streets of Italy.  The houses were interesting and diverse, many of which looked like they could have been plucked from the streets of Amsterdam or an English countryside.  Of course for every adorable Tudor, there was a noble old Colonial to remind you that you are in the heart of the United States.  I am afraid I did not get any good pictures of this.

4.)  Oklahoma?  Not a refugee.  But the sadness that I picked up on the first time was still there.  The heavy presence of Native American history and heritage is both proud and poignant.  Make no mistake, time does not heal all wounds.

Here is a day in Tulsa, OK in pictures:

Rose Garden

Gardens and Mansion

He let me crawl up to him and snap his pic!

"Do you mind some hills?" the LBS guy says...

Cool rocks

Bench... in case you get tired.

Love this 

On another note, I have posted about the scale free lifestyle, as have a number of others whose blogs I follow.  Here is another person weighing in on the subject.

When I was almost back to Austin, I stopped at a rest area and was reminded why I LOVE this city...

 So concludes the trip to Tulsa, OK.  Tulsa, you have my deepest apologies.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Post You Should Have Read Last Week.

Written on 4/18/2012:

I don't currently have a working internet connection so I am working in a word processing program and this post may be slightly out of date by the time you read it.  Still, I am finding that the act of writing these posts is so cathartic that I have become fairly dependent on blogging for sanity (sounds like a charity event)!  Acquiring a portable hot spot (and for that matter a new iPhone) is on the to-do list.

As I posted last week, I headed back to Austin.  It was so good to be back in my home city.  It is the most fantastic place I think I have been.  Of all he aspects of my crazy life that I appreciate the most, it has been the freedom to live wherever I want.  I am truly blessed to be able to really follow my heart.

I am also really grateful for certain things in my life that are really working on my behalf right now.  This year and last, with this week being no exception, has been a true trial.  I have felt like I was on the ocean in a storm for much of it.  Stability and predictability have become distant memories.  Instead I have been forced to learn to navigate without any help, to be my own support network, to find things like stability and comfort within.  Through everything, training has been something of a life raft and my training (Thank you DW!) has become True North.

When I got home this past week, I found that the duplex had several water leaks inside the walls.  While I was gone, black mold has taken over large areas of wall behind the washer and dryer, and in the spare bedroom.  Quite a few of my belongings were destroyed and now there is a legal battle looming on the horizon with the landlord.  I am not going to go into details but I think I am coming from a pretty solid position legally, however the idea of going to court just makes me tired.  The worst part was the fact that much of what was destroyed held great sentimental value.  All of my remaining horse equipment (helmet, chaps, boots, etc.. the things I have to have to swing a leg over a horse.), family photos albums, all my childhood photos including the only photos left of me and my father, my entire art portfolio which chronicled my development as an artist and a person throughout my life, rare books I had collected throughout my life… all gone.  Essentially, all my ties to my past, my previous interests and the roads I no longer walk, were destroyed.

I moved out of the duplex and fully into the camper.  When it was done, I allowed myself to feel it.  I was surprised to find myself crying… a grief that felt like it had come from someplace much deeper than the loss of some paper.  It seemed appropriate and for a change, I didn't fight it.  I guess I was saying goodbye.  My life has been boiled down to a 200 sq ft living space and a 10x10 storage unit.  Still, as I trundled down the road yesterday on my way to the next horse show, Airstream bouncing along behind me, I couldn't help feeling kind of free.  I have my pups, my bike, my running shoes, and a place to crash at the end of the day.  I have everything I NEED.  I have only memories of the past and whatever I chose to make of my future.

There was an article in a trucker magazine at a truck stop on the way to Tulsa titled "Triathlete Trucker".  This man, Siphiwe Baleka, has integrated triathlon training and life as a trucker, taking advantage of the unique opportunities, and negotiating the considerable challenges the lifestyle presents.  I am not a trucker but I could really relate to his struggle.  I was also really inspired by his ability to adapt on the move to his surroundings, working out in picnic areas, truck stops, or on a cardboard mat beside his truck.  He took it to another level, developing a workout DVD for truckers, a database of YMCA pools and selling protein bars.  It was great to be reminded that it can be done, the excuses are just that… excuses.  Life really is what you make of it.

I had a really good run tonight.  As usual, DW was right.  LOSE the data.  I have relaxed, started enjoying the runs and have been working on using my body in a relaxed, but athletic way.  When I do this, then pick up my cadence, I can actually get somewhere in a hurry!  I am just not fit enough or strong enough to sustain it…YET.

On another data related note, I did get on my scale when I got home and discovered that I had managed a perfectly respectable weight loss for the winter months. I then packed the scale up and left it in storage.  Regardless of what it says, I am happier when I focus on making good choices a lifestyle, especially since I am finally starting to relax and really enjoy those changes.  Overall, I feel like all of these little things are baby steps towards a healthier, happier, more whole and balanced life.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Back Home, Sort Of.

I did it!  I made it!  WEF 2012, Pin Oak and Spring Gathering are all in the books.  I dropped my helper off at the airport, packed up the camper and headed for Austin today.  I plan to be running the town lake trail first thing tomorrow morning and out on the bike anywhere I can later in the day.

I put the camper into a midtown park and plan to keep staying in it while I move out of my duplex.  I have a week to accomplish this and I will need to keep from falling into a funk.  I expect a firestorm of conflicted emotions once this begins.  I love that place but I calculated that I have spent $9000 in duplex related expenses since the last time I laid eyes on the place.  That money could have done a lot of good in other areas of my life or purchased a seriously sweet bicycle!!  Right now, I am in a place in my life where it just does not make sense to have a brick and mortar home.  That said, I am still determined to identify Austin with home.  It is going to be a little tough to keep from feeling rootless but I have accepted my current life circumstances and am willing to make some sacrifices for the sake of my future goals.

After that, I have a light one or two weeks in Tyler, followed by another two weeks split between Austin and Houston.  I am hoping that I can quickly begin to reap the rewards of a trimmed down lifestyle and keep my focus forward.

I went clothes shopping yesterday and found that I have dropped another size in jeans.  That left me feeling really good about my body and my weight right now.  It's not that I am at my goal but instead, I feel like I have made definitive forward progress.  In that respect, this winter was a resounding success.  I had a multitude of setbacks, from pneumonia to insomnia, and yet I have to look behind me to see where I was five months ago.

I think this week is going to be the start of working on building speed in the run.  I have been asking for this (sometimes politely and occasionally throwing a tantrum) for a while now.  DW has kept me firmly in check because he felt like the potential for injury was just too great.  Now, according to our last couple of conversations, he is more confident in my ability to handle it.  I am both thrilled and wary.  Past experience has taught me to watch what I wish for.

Regardless, a new chapter begins this week.  I am optimistic, but with a certain caution that comes with surviving an a$$ kicking... and the last five months have been a MOST PROFOUND a$$ kicking!!

Deep breath... BRING IT ON!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Crazy Weekend Leads To Divorce!

This week was a crazy intense week at the horse show.  Another braider, who had a huge list, went down in emotional flames and everyone had to step up to close the gap.  That, along with several bailouts due to last minute changes to the ring schedules meant that I braided much more than usual.  I have two very unhappy hands right now.

Technically, these are the same hand.  The other is holding the camera.

I kicked the week off with a massive spasm in my left trapezius muscle that ended up getting my lat in on the party.  Not only did it prevent movement of the arm and head, it clamped down on my broken (long ago and badly healed) ribs so that breathing became a form of torture.  I ran to the nearest massage envy and got one of the worst deep tissue massages ever.  I will say that the guy managed to release the spasm but since he felt the need to grind his elbow into cold muscles with no effort to build up to maximum pressure, I spent the rest of the week healing the damage that he did.  I was totally out of action Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

However, on the upside, I had a nice run on Friday and again today.  The really big thing here is that today's run was after braiding all night, then cleaning the camper since I have someone flying in tonight and staying with me this week.  No seriously, after braiding all night... that is HUGE!!  It is unprecedented for me to have this much energy after braiding, much less after the biggest week/weekend I have had since last July.  My nutrition and hydration were spot on this weekend but more importantly, I got sleep.  Not just some sleep... enough sleep.  I rocked 8-9 hours every day this week.  By the end of the week, I almost felt like skipping my morning coffee!  Normally, when I get sleep, I see a massive jump in my run performance but since this weeks runs were fresh off and injury and fresh off a night of braiding, only being off my best pace by 30 seconds seems pretty damn good.

I saw this today and thought it was a good reminder of why it is ok to be wherever I am right now, fast or slow, fit or... otherwise.

....for a very, very, very long time!

Now according to various online sources, losing ten pounds would drop 20 seconds per mile from my pace.  I figure I have roughly 30 pounds to lose, give or take, so I am forfeiting a minute per mile.  I have been fairly mellow about my diet lately.  It has felt pretty balanced so I am hoping that I can allow myself to continue on this (very comfortable) path for a while and still see results.  I am, at present, having to actively resist the urge to become aggressively focused on my diet, which I don't doubt would yield results and make me even more nuts.

Speaking of nuts, I have a confession.  I love them.  I cannot be trusted with them.  They are my one true downfall.  I am beginning to think that I may have to divorce them, and their buttery offspring.  Raw nuts, roasted nuts, mixed nuts, single nuts, every variety of nut butter.  If they are near, I will eat them to the exclusion of everything else.  I am talking about a complete loss of control.  Now, I have come to the realization that buying peanut butter (or any other nut butter) and taking it home is a really bad plan.  I had been limiting myself to brief, single serving liaisons with my love while on the road (note: I am always on the road) but even those clandestine meetings have proven to be a gateway back to dysfunctional relationship land.

SO....  Peanut butter, my darling, it cannot be between us.  I am leaving you once and for all.  I love you but you hurt me.  You tempt me with your crunchy goodness and then you leave me bloated and broken.  I deserve better than this.  I deserve the love of another, one who will be as kind to me as I am to him.  I am leaving you for Asparagus!  Leave and never return!!

WHO doesn't love ROSIE!!