Defeated and nauseous

I filled my CamelBak yesterday. Orlando and I stopped at Whole Foods last night on our way to dinner so I could pick up the Vega gel I use during long runs. I had a simple dinner, never anything spicy or fancy the night before a long run. We were home by 8:30 and I took out my running clothes, made my chia overnight oats for the morning and prepared my pre-run drink. I thought I had the Vega Pre-Workout Energizer I usually drink before a long run, but I couldn’t find it so I substituted it with something called Carb-igniter that I got at some running expo. I set my alarm for 3:55 and I was in bed and asleep by 10. I felt good mentally and physically. I was ready for my 22 mile run in the morning.

My alarm went off and I was up. I followed my pre-run rituals. The Carb-igniter was a little funky, but I drank it. I set out just before 4:30. It was still dark, but so peaceful. I started out feeling great. I knew it wasn’t going to be a fast run for me, but that was ok as long as I was running a comfortable steady pace.

I chugged along. I grabbed a gel at mile 5 and after just a taste my stomach turned. By mile 7 I was so nauseous I could barely stand to sip water. I walked most of mile 13. As I turned onto a road littered with shops, gas stations and restaurants I told myself I would just run to McDonalds where I could use the bathroom. Sorry if that’s TMI!

As I exited McDonalds I tried to convince myself I was feeling better so I set off at a slow jog. Nope the nausea was right there and felt stronger. I knew there was a convenience store less than a mile away so I told myself to just keep going until I reached it. I figured I could by a small package of plain crackers and maybe that would settle my stomach. No such luck. Every cracker was covered in some kind of cheese, jalapeño flavoring, pizza flavor or other equally nauseating topping.

Back on the road and about 6 miles to go. I ran a nice downhill as I neared mile 17. As soon as Map My Run announced mile 17 I started crying. I felt so sick. I was close to home at this point. I didn’t want to give up, but the run downhill jostled my sick stomach even more. I slowed to a walk and weighed my choices. I kept walking and as I reached my house I was just shy of 19 miles. I couldn’t go any further. Of course my legs were sore by this point. I crumbled in tears as I took off my sneakers and my water pack. I have never ever walked so much on a long run. I have never not made the distance I set out to run. Damn Carb Igniter! I know that’s what caused the nausea. Never stray from what normally works when you’re training. I should have known better.

So I ate some saltines, had a little pity party, and then I called my sister for some support while I walked those last 3.22 miles. I should have kept going because in a real marathon you don’t get to stop at home if things aren’t going well. I hung up with my sister after about a mile and a half. I spent the next mile and half reminding myself that this bumpy road I’ve been on full of inconsistency, doubt, and challenge is just part of life. This too shall pass and I will be a better person for it.

Week in Review: 3/15/15-3/21/15

All my intentions to blog this week fell to the wayside so instead I’ll wrap it all up in one long post.

Sunday, 3/15/15

I started the day with a 15.30 mile run. I felt like I couldn’t get my legs moving, but my heart was in it all the way so I pushed through. I actually ended my run at the grocery store. Did my shopping for the week and had Orlando and Carlos come get me!

Sunday afternoon Carlos made his First Reconciliation aka Confession. They don’t go in the confessionals anymore. Instead our parish priest invited priests from neighboring parishes. There was a mini mass led by our priest and then the kids are led over to one of the priests to confess their sins. Once they finished they returned to their pew to do their penance. Carlos was very serious. He had a doozy of a sin to confess. I will leave it at he called a friend a really bad word.

After church we went to lunch with his best friend, Tyler, and his family. Tyler came over after and while the boys played I got to work in the kitchen.

Food for an Army...or a week

I made a batch of quinoa, brown rice, roasted zucchini, brussels, butternut squash, hard boiled eggs, made a few sandwiches for Carlos’ lunches, a pot of Mozambican beans, chopped up raw veggies for soup later in the week, cut up pineapple and cantaloupe. I was on fire!! It was awesome.

Monday, 3/16/15

Back to work. I saw a couple of patients. I went for a lunchtime 3.40 mile run because the sun was out. I felt a little tight in the quads after the long run, but otherwise my legs seemed to move a lot easier. In the afternoon I had a Webex meeting about Safety and Security. The instructor was intense. I feel like I have call for back up before entering a building.

Tuesday, 3/17/15

Carlos had his 8 year old physical at the pediatrician’s office. All went well. He is healthy and growing as he should. I love his pediatrician. The office is small and cozy. There is almost never anyone in the waiting room. Th doctor is reasonable, intelligent and laid back. He also makes Carlos feel very comfortable. Plus he does a lot of world travel so we always spend a little time catching up on our respective travels.

Tuesday nights are coffee nights with my friend Kate while our boys are at karate. It’s one hour I look forward to all week even though we are often together other times during the week.

Wednesday, 3/18/15

I had to go to Worcester in central Massachusetts for a work meeting. I finished up around 12:30 thankfully and headed home. My friend, Colleen, came over in the afternoon to go for a run. It was incredibly windy out, but we made it 3.69 miles.

Thursday, 3/19/15

I’m going to vent a little about a work issue. I often have to work with an interpreter because most of my patients are Spanish speaking only. I have begun getting more comfortable with my Spanish and I am able to go alone if someone can speak/understand basic English too. Since I’m new and I haven’t met the patients yet I always take an interpreter for a Spanish speaking patient the first time. My interpreter was supposed to meet at my house shortly before 9:30. We had three visits scheduled. She didn’t show up. I texted her, no answer. I called her and was nonchalantly told she ran out of gas. By the time she arrived to my house 30 minutes later she was very apologetic. Although I was irritated, I tried to be understanding. However, I don’t really understand how someone runs out of gas in this day and age. I was frustrated that she didn’t call me when it happened. Technically if the interpreter is accompanying us then we both have to go into the visit together.

I accelerated the first visit a little and managed to make it to the second visit on time only to find no one home. The interpreter called the patient’s phone, no answer. She reached her son only to be told he forgot to tell his mother about the visit. Ugh! We were able to complete the third visit early and returned to see if the second patient had returned. No such luck.

I ended up taking the interpreter out for coffee to make up for the way the day started. I know she didn’t mean to be late. I just would have appreciated a phone call. We chatted over our coffee and ended the day on a positive note.

After finishing up some work at home I decided to go for a run because it was so nice out. I managed to do 3.47 miles with an unusually great time for me these days. I thought about the marathon a lot. I am really beginning to visualize myself running it.

Carlos had Garage Band class after school. He takes a class which teaches the kids how to use the Garage Band app to make their own music. He thinks it’s awesome. Orlando and I both went to pick him up because at 4:30 the school was hosting Evening Share for the students to show off their school work. Carlos is writing a lot of stories. We saw his report on the Earth’s mantle. He showed us what he’s currently working on in math. He goes to Montessori so the math is extremely different from anything I’ve ever learned. It’s tactile and visual. He is doing division right now in 2nd grade.

We are so proud of Carlos. It was wonderful to see his face all lit up as he showed us around the classroom explaining what he does during the school day.

Friday, 3/20/15

A rather uneventful day. We had a monthly statewide Webex meeting first thing. I had one patient to see after that.

In the afternoon I had a call with my boss. She walked me through a rather complicated situation that came up regarding one of my patients this week. My boss is terrific. I’m really lucky to be on her team.

While working from home in the afternoon I prepared a big pot of lentil soup for dinner. Super easy because I had already chopped the vegetables on Sunday. Orlando and I loved it. Picky Carlos was not thrilled.

Carlos and I went over my aunt’s after dinner to drop something off to her and visit for a bit. It was snowing out, but fortunately it was not expected to accumulate to more than an inch or so.

Saturday, 3/21/15

I procrastinated my long run until 10am. The snow was still coming down at a good clip. It was really sticking thankfully. I had to get going because I was running the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day 10K Road Race at 1pm. This year the road race was going to be a fun run for me. No PR, no powering up the hills, just fun with friends who were running the race for their first time. So I had to get in a long run before the race. I ran 10 hilly miles around home with the snow in my face almost the entire way. How is that even possible? Surprisingly the 10 miles zipped by. I felt awesome.

I made it home with just enough time to take a quick shower so I didn’t offend my friends during the race! We might as well just walked from my house to the start of the race which is about a mile and a half away because we had to park almost a mile away. This race is huge. It was my fourth year running it and by far the most enjoyable. I wasn’t wearing headphones so I could hear the roar of the insane mass of spectators along almost the entire course. I stayed with two of my friends the entire way. There was a group of 5 of us running, but two shot ahead at the beginning and just ran with it.

Holyoke St. Patrick's Day Road Race 2015 T-Shirt

Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Road Race 2015 T-Shirt

This year’s was the 40th anniversary of the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day 10K. Running legend, Bill Rodgers and the inspirational running team, Dick and Rick Hoyt were participating in the race. Unfortunately I didn’t actually see any of them.

It is hugely popular, totally wild and by far the most awesome race I run every year. It’s a sea of green everywhere you look. People are dressed in a variety of costumes. I saw one guy dressed as Gronkowski from the Patriots, with a Gronk mask, the team shirt and fake plastic buttocks?!! Spectators were hopping onto the course to smack his ass. I saw a guy dressed as a banana which was actually more suggestive than the Gronk costume. There were hundreds of green tutus on men and women. Of course there were superheroes too. You get offered water, beer and jello shots at the water stations.

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After a gray morning with thick slushy snow raining down wouldn’t you know it stopped completely as I finished my long run. By the time the starting gun went off the sun was shining. I call that the luck of the Irish!

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Winter Outdoors

Carlos was born in December. I remember that winter was fairly mild so I took him outside from the time he was 2 weeks old almost every day. I would bundle him up in his car seat and take him for walks. The fresh air was good for both of us.

I’m almost always cold. My family thinks I’m ridiculous as I walk around the house with my space heater carrying it from room to room. Winter was always a time to hibernate. Since Carlos came along I have learned to embrace winter. If I can’t move to Arizona or Mozambique then I better learn how to enjoy the winter.

It started with sledding. It’s one of our favorite winter activities. I dare you to try not to smile when you’re sledding. Impossible!! I have been taking Carlos sledding since he was 1. The hills have gotten bigger, steeper and make my stomach lurch a little, but still impossible not to smile. It is also the one winter activity we can all do as a family. My husband is like a kid again when he sleds. He is always volunteering to take Carlos and his friends sledding.

When Carlos was 3 my sister bought him 3 ski lessons for his birthday. The program was called Ski With Me I’m Three. It was fabulous. Carlos loved it! I really wanted to try it, but the next few winters I think we only made it out a couple of times for him to take a lesson. Last winter Carlos took a lesson and then spent the afternoon going up and down the smaller area of the mountain for beginners. The second time we went I finally took a lesson. I loved it! At the beginning of winter this year I rented skis for Carlos because it’s much cheaper than renting them each time. In late November I hit up the tent sale at the mountain we usually go to and decided to buy myself some skis. We took advantage of the discounts being offered that day and bought season’s passes too. We have already been a handful of times. I have no clue what I’m doing, but it’s fun and feels great being out there. We typically ski at the smaller area which has a J-bar that takes you up to the top. I am a disaster when it comes to getting off the chair lift. I think I need a lesson on that alone. Carlos is doing great though. Orlando is afraid to try it, but he loves coming with us. We are working on getting him to agree to take at least one lesson before the end of the season.

When Carlos was 4 he started a Learn to Skate program. Unfortunately the program was extremely unorganized. It was a mass of children on the ice with only a few instructors. He spent the entire time doing his own thing which was basically walking back and forth across the ice on skates. I started taking him myself to the public skate hours after school. It had been many years since I skated, but it was kind of like riding a bike. I got right back up there and while I’m no Dorothy Hamil, I manage to stay upright. One afternoon at the rink I met a guy who coached a skating program for adults at UMass Amherst. I joined the program and was really enjoying it until I got unbearable, painful shin splints from skating. I couldn’t believe it, with all the running I was doing it was skating that caused the shin splints. There is a lot of pushing into the lower legs and my shins couldn’t take it. I had to stop going to the lessons, but I still go skating with Carlos for fun. I have my own skates and I keep them in the car just in case. Carlos has since joined a different Learn to Skate program which is phenomenal. This is his third year and he is doing great. They learn all different techniques and now are doing mostly stick and puck drills.

Winter hasn’t stopped me from running. Sometimes it is tough to get motivated to get out there, but once I do I’m always surprised at how great it feels.

Orlando and I went snow shoeing a couple of years ago and I would love to try that again. We snow shoed up a local snow covered mountain. It was so peaceful and beautiful.

This weekend we are in Lake George. It’s a ghost town in the winter, but the lodging rates are a bargain. We are staying a condo rental. It’s very cozy and comfortable. We’ve enjoyed lounging by the fireplace, but we’ve been getting outdoors as well. Yesterday morning I went out for a chilly, but scenic run by the lake. Later in the morning we went tubing. It was a first for all of us and we loved it! It’s like sledding turbo charged. We had a blast. Then we went down to the frozen area of the lake. We wandered around checking out the ice fishing holes and sliding around. There is something so refreshing about breathing in the winter air. It just feels cleaner.

Carlos plays outside almost every day even in the freezing cold temps, snow and sometimes rain. I don’t force him to, he wants to especially if it’s snowing. Embracing winter has made it possible for all of us to stay active and healthy throughout the winter.

Baystate Half Marathon

On Sunday, 10/19/14 I ran my first race since my injury last April. It was an amazing experience, unlike any other race I’ve run. Over the last year my good friend Kate got bit by the running bug. She declared herself a winter runner and endured the nasty frigid weather this past winter to keep up with her training. She was training for a spring 5K. The plan was to run it together, but I was injured two days before the race.

The morning of the 5K it was pouring out and unseasonably cool. Kate didn’t seem to mind the weather. It reminded me a little of my first 5K which was also on a cold rainy day. I cheered for her as the race got under way and I was there at the finish line. I am not sure who was more excited! I was grateful for the raindrops because they masked my tears as she crossed the finish line. Those darn finish lines!

Finish lines are emotional and also infectious. Kate decided her next goal was to run the Hartford Half Marathon in early October. We put a training plan together to start in July. I was very hopeful that I would be healed and able to run the race with her by that time.

Half marathon training began as the summer really heated up. I was still not really able to run for more than a mile and Kate absolutely hated running in the summer heat. It was difficult on her breathing and she simply didn’t like how it felt. Also it was challenging to fit in the training runs with the kids home for the summer.

As Kate’s self-appointed “running coach” I suggested backing off on long runs over the summer and just doing what felt comfortable. This applied to both of us. We began incorporating strength training “boot camp” sessions into our routine once a week since we could do it while the kids played or were at camp.

The week before the kids went back to school Kate and I talked about the race. Neither of us were feeling great about how our summer training went and we were a bit nervous to run Hartford on October 11th. I looked up other fall half marathons and we decided on the Baystate Half Marathon a week later in Lowell, MA. Somehow having that extra week to train made us both feel better. We set up a new training plan and as soon as the kids went back to school we began with a new focus.

Kate struggles with asthma. This causes her some anxiety during her runs. For the last couple of weeks of summer I encouraged Kate to work on her breathing rather than pace or time. The goal was to run comfortably focusing on breath exclusively with emphasis on taking in air slowly and evenly and breathing out fully through the mouth. By the time we began incorporating long runs into our training again Kate was feeling more confident with her breathing.

The rest of our training went very smoothly. Our long runs were amazing. We ran by time rather than distance with the ultimate goal of completing a 3 hour run before the race. This was Kate’s goal time. Most of our training runs were on hilly terrain. The 3 hour training run involved a detour off of our intended course, traffic along the roads we ended up running, wind and rain. Kate did an incredible job on that run. It was a very consistent pace with few stops. I was confident at that point that she was ready for the half marathon even though we still had two weeks of training left at that point.

The half marathon training was as much for me as at was for Kate. My Achilles felt better by August, but there was a phantom like discomfort and a twinge of fear every time I set out for a run.  I’m not sure if Kate understands how grateful I was for the opportunity to run with her. For all of the years I have been running, I have never run with a friend. Running with fear of re-injuring myself was extremely stressful, but having Kate running next to me was a comfort. If something happened I wouldn’t be alone. Along the way something else happened, I learned to really enjoy running with someone. I looked forward to our training runs and I miss them now that the race is over.

Kate and I made a weekend out of the race. After our boys’ soccer game on Saturday, 11/18 we drove out to Lowell together. We picked up our packets at the race expo. I am a total running geek. I love the expos, but usually I’m rushed along by my husband and son who aren’t into the experience of wandering around running gear, demos and products. Kate and I were looking forward to taking in the whole expo, but it was small and rather uneventful. So we checked into our hotel room and found a local place for dinner.

I think we were both feeling a bit nervous about the race. Being the rock stars we are we were in bed by 9 o’clock! I got up bright and early around 5 to begin my pre-race rituals. I really am a running nut! I forgot how much I missed my Vega Pre-Workout Energizer drink that tastes like ass, but makes me feel like I just had three cups of coffee. I also welcome any opportunity to eat an entire packet of Justin’s honey roasted peanut butter with my pre-race banana. We headed out around 6 a.m. because we weren’t exactly sure about parking and road closures.

Of course we found the parking garage fairly easily. We followed the flow of runners to the Tsongas Center where they were having race day packet pick up. Kate wanted to exchange her shirt for a different size so we went in and were thrilled to find that they were allowing the runners to hang out and use the facilities. It was chilly outside, but all signs were pointing to great running weather.

 

Ready to go

Ready to go

We hung out until it was time to line up. The race started promptly at 8 a.m. It’s a big race with a large number of full marathoners. The Baystate Marathon is known to be flat and fast so it is a great qualifier for many Boston Marathon hopefuls. We were lined up on the right for the half marathon and full marathons were on the other side of the barriers to our left. I was hoping Kate didn’t notice my eyes tearing up during the national anthem #runningdorkalert. I felt so grateful to be running again and especially to be racing.

Starting line at the Baystate Half Marathon

Starting line at the Baystate Half Marathon

However, this race was about Kate. I was there to offer support and to pace her to finish at her goal time. I had a plan, but I didn’t tell her because I didn’t want her to argue! I knew she was more than capable of finishing the half marathon in under 3 hours. I wanted to push her a bit in the last half up to mile 12 to make sure she had a cushion of time during her last mile. We set off at a steady pace, but a little faster than normal. I kept checking in with Kate. I encouraged her to slow down if necessary. I didn’t want her to lose steam before the halfway point.

 

Along the course

Along the course

We ran with another woman for quite a while. The three of us chatted easily. She was running alone and we all cheered each other on. It was a double loop course so when we got to the halfway point we had to run the same course all over again. Kate was doing great and by my mental calculations we were right on track with a sub-3 hour time. By mile 10 I think she was getting a bit annoyed by my Katie Couric-like chipper positivity and my torture encouragement. The course had a few hills, but nothing close to what we encountered in our training. Kate was doing better than she knew. I really pushed her throughout mile 11 and 12 because I wanted to afford her that cushion for her last mile. I don’t think she liked me much, but when we reached mile 13 and I announced that we now had 20 minutes to run that last mile I think I was back in her good graces. I encouraged her at the end to finish strong and surge over the finish line. I was beaming as we ran down the chute and the time clock came into my sight.

Kate’s official time was 2:53:40!!! She ran a solid, consistent race. It was an amazing effort for her first half marathon. I am so proud of her dedication and commitment to training for the race. I was truly honored to be a part of her experience. I’m hoping this is just the first of many races to come.

 

 

9-22-14 to 9-25-14

Monday, 9-22-14

Morning: Dropped Carlos off at school and started the day with a 3.07 mile run and yoga. I have been to a couple of Margaret’s yoga classes before and she is a powerhouse of energy. She is a blend of confidence, poise, class and calm. She has such a graceful way of presenting her classes. On this day she told us the story of her fish and the theme of the class became moving like fish. It sounds weird, but it lent a different spin on getting into and holding postures. Margaret is tough, but in the most genuinely caring way. She “picked” on me a lot, but I also learned so much.

Afternoon: The rest of the day was busy. I got my hair done, did some errands, ate lunch and before I knew it I was returning to pick up Carlos. We raced down to his old school where he now attends religion class, CCD, a couple of Mondays a month in preparation for his first communion in the spring. He will be making his first communion with his friends from his previous school.

Tuesday, 9-23-14

Morning: Mammogram

Afternoon: Walked 1.66 miles

Evening: Met with my Peace Corps friend, Lili, for dinner in Natick, MA. She just got a job in Kenya and will be leaving in a couple of weeks. I’m so excited for her!! We met at a little vegetarian/vegan restaurant called Green Leaf just off the Mass Pike. I had the Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas (From the menu: Sweet and spicy filling of black beans and sweet potatoes wrapped in thinly sliced zucchini, topped with enchilada sauce and baked. Served with avocado and lemon. Drizzled with maple-balsamic glaze.) For dessert we shared a raw vanilla pistachio cake and coconut rice pudding. The food was amazing!

Wednesday, 9-24-14

Morning: I walked 3.5 miles with Kate

Afternoon: My mom came with me to Carlos’ school to pick him up. He stayed late for his first Wilderness Camp. This is an after school program that runs every Wednesday for 8 weeks. They go for nature walks, learn to distinguish different plants and insects, play games, etc.

We went to Carlos’ swimming and diving lessons. Then my mom took Carlos home so I could meet a friend at the coffee shop. My friend Marion actually works on the same unit as the occupational therapist, but we have never seen each other at work. We met at a colleague’s party. Her son was living in Russia at the time and was working for a Russian soccer team as their web master. Orlando and Marion hit it off and started talking soccer. Then Marion and I realized that we shared a love of travel. We get together a few times over the year usually when her son and his family are visiting, but we also try to fit in a couple of evenings where we just get together to gab. It was great to visit with Marion.

Since the weather was perfect I decided beforehand I would run home from the coffee shop which is only 2 miles so my mom dropped me off after swimming. It certainly was ideal running weather, so refreshing and a great way to finish the day.

Thursday, 9-25-14

Morning: Long run day!! Kate and I ran 9 miles in 2:03:54. This is her second long run on our new training schedule. It went amazingly well. Her breathing was no problem and her pace was steady and very consistent throughout the run. We ran at the bike trail so we enjoyed the flatness of the terrain. We ran and talked and the run seemed to take no time at all. I’m so proud of her!!

Afternoon: As if the run wasn’t enough Kate and I decided to get the boys together after school and walk while they played. They light saber battled while we walked the track at the college near her house.

Evening: Packed for our weekend away. Took a short nap before work.

 

9-17-14 and 9-18-14

Wednesday, 9-17-14

I met a friend for coffee in the morning after dropping Carlos off to school. This is the mom of a friend of Carlos’ from his old school. I hadn’t seen her all summer so it was great to catch up.

After that I had plans to meet Kate for a long run. It has been so much fun helping her to train for her first half marathon. The summer was really tough for her because of the heat so she scaled back her training. Kate recently mentioned that she was struggling to get her breathing under control so we decided that we would really emphasize breathing this week particularly during the long run. She admitted that she was getting very caught up in her pace/mile and even felt some competition from an acquaintance who just began running.

I think it is so discouraging for new runners to worry about pace. There seems to be a lot of concern about minutes per mile. I had always run alone and was very reluctant to discuss running early on so I really had nothing to compare my time to. There are almost always time goals going into a race, but mine were very personal and private. Running and particularly running races has become much more common. With apps like Map My Run it is easy to view friends’ progress. This can create an unhealthy sense of competition.

To avoid unnecessary stress related to distance and pace we are focusing on overall time running with a goal of working up to a three hour long run before the half marathon. Kate and I ran a very consistent 7.32 miles in 1 hour 42 minutes. The goal was 90 minutes with a slow cool down. Her breathing was in control for most of the run and when it became an issue we took short walk breaks to get it under control. If she continues to train this way I think she is going to exceed her expectations on race day.

For me this is a great opportunity to get back into long runs without any pressure to improve my own time. I am running at Kate’s pace which will also help me to avoid injury during this training. It’s been a fun change running and chatting with a friend. since I’m so accustomed to running alone with music. Honestly the 90 minutes flew by.

Later that afternoon while our boys were at swimming lessons we took advantage of the gorgeous weather to stroll another 2.06 miles around the pond at the college. I’ve been trying to include more walking into my days. I think it’s a great way to include mindful activity that isn’t forced or stressful. I enjoy it alone, but it’s more fun walking and talking with a friend.

Thursday, 9-18-14

I started my morning with a nice 75 minute Vinyasa yoga class. I love yoga and really hope to begin doing it more regularly.

It’s Big E time here in Western Massachusetts! OK I’m not actually that excited about it. The Big E, is said to be the largest fair in the northeast. It opens every September and runs for 17 days. There are buildings dedicated to each of the New England States, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont…no New York is not part of New England! The fair showcases agriculture, animals, musical performances, a midway of rides and games and butter. Yup butter! Each year there is a new butter sculpture on display. Go ahead click on the link to see this year’s butter sculpture, you know you want to! There are also parades including a Mardi Gras style parade where you can catch beaded necklaces. There is an old colonial village you can tour. There are horse shows. The Better Living Center is a mecca of goods including my favorite, the Vitamix demonstration.

However, for most people the big attraction is the food. Each year there is something even more disturbingly unhealthy than last year. It’s not exactly a vegan’s dream dining experience. I definitely do not go for the food, but according to friends and family that love “the fair,” I’m weird! Everyone I know that attends the Big E each year goes for some specific treat or two or three. This year it seems that bacon is the most popular item. Bacon ice cream, chocolate dipped bacon, fried dough topped with maple syrup and bacon, and more I’m sure. If you’re a bbq fanatic you might love the pulled pork parfait. It’s all the fixings plus the pulled pork all in one handy dandy cup! And if you’re feeling particularly undernourished or maybe you just ran a marathon go for something deep fried, anything, literally anything you want like an Oreo, banana, Kool Aid (I don’t get it), peanut butter and jelly, cheesecake or butter. Yup butter…deep fried butter! No not your thing? How about the Craz-E Burger, a bacon cheeseburger served between two halves of a grilled glazed donut. Last but not least you absolutely cannot leave the park without eating a famous Big E Cream Puff.

Not exactly a vegan’s dream dining experience. In fact all I ate was a free packet of dried cranberries. I get the whole YOLO (you only live once) mentality, but I’d be concerned about making it out of the Big E alive if I were some of these folks.

 

 

 

9-10-14 to 9-14-14

Where do the days go?

Wednesday 9-10-14

I’m starting to get my running mojo back. I decided to run up Mt. Holyoke and then hike my way back down. I ran up the access road to the top rather than the trail because I am still being over cautious about injury. It was an awesome feeling making it to the top. It’s not a huge climb and only about 1.65 miles to the top, but it really gets the heart pumping. I took in the view from the top and then strolled down the trails for a total of 3.15 miles.

Panoramic from the top of Mt. Holyoke

Panoramic from the top of Mt. Holyoke

I practiced a little trail running on flat stretches of trail. It was a leisurely hike down. As I was getting close to my car I greeted an older man who was walking his little furry white dog. The dog was bounding along quite happily. We said hello and then the man informed me that 6 months ago the dog was paralyzed! I said well she’s made a remarkable recovery and now I can tell you all about the dog, the man’s daughter who lives in Maine, his workout schedule, etc. People love to share their stories with me! This summer at our favorite little local lake, Carlos ran into a friend from school. When I walked down the small beach to get him to go home I met his friend’s grandmother and her friend. The grandmother’s friend suddenly began explaining that she was wearing a big floppy beach hat because she was in menopause and taking hormones and didn’t want to get a sunburn. I learned all about her daughter who was a new Chemistry teacher and more about menopause. It’s amazing what people will share!

Later in the afternoon I had a phone call to make and I was doing some computer work at a coffee shop near the bike trail. It was a gorgeous day out so I decided to walk and talk. I was surprised that I ended up walking 4.35 miles. I moved for a total of 7.5 miles.

Thursday 9-11-14

I have been itching to do a long run, something more than 5 miles. I had plans to run with my friend Kate, the one I will be running with in the Baystate Half Marathon next month. However, things didn’t work out quite as planned. I left the house and decided to run in her direction. I ran 4.47 miles before meeting up with her as she got delayed by a couple of unplanned issues. We then did some hill work and a mini boot camp of lunges, squats and tricep dips. The weather was really undecided, it was grey and gloomy, but a bit muggy and breezy. Rain was imminent and of course as we headed back to do more hill work it began raining. We decided to just get back on the road and run to my house. Luckily the rain fizzled out.  I ran another 4.04 miles for a total of 8.51 miles!

Back at my house we indulged in a little homemade facial. I made a face scrub out of almond oil and coconut sugar which smells divine! We cleansed our faces with my new Beauty Counter cleanser and then did the scrub. My skin felt so nice and smooth!

Little known fact…I really wanted to be an esthetician when I was in high school. I used to practice doing facials on my friends and family. I was so interested in it my mom took me to the Elizabeth Grady School in Boston for a tour and informational session. Of course once my friends started looking into colleges I wanted to do the same. I am still interested in skin care, but these days I am more interested in how to care for the skin as naturally as possible by eliminating chemically laden products in exchange for more natural organic remedies. Something tells me at some point my career path might come full circle.

Friday 9-12-14

I have been itching to get back into strength training. I hit the gym after bringing Carlos to school. I didn’t have much time, but managed to fit in a good 45 minute session including a quick warm up on the bike. I am aiming for one day a week at the gym.

Later I met my oldest and dearest childhood friend for lunch. It was a belated birthday lunch for me. It’s always nice to catch up with her as we don’t see each other too often. She is a busy nurse practitioner with 4 sons! She had 3 of her boys long before I had Carlos. As kids we used to talk about how we would live next door to each other in California and have children at the same time. Well by the time I got pregnant with Carlos I figured that dream was long gone. Ironically she got pregnant a few months later with her fourth son. Carlos and Domenic are great friends and although they don’t see each other often they act as though no time has passed when they do get together just like their moms. Now I just have to figure out how we are going to live next door to each other in California!

Saturday 9-13-14

I brought Carlos to soccer practice in the morning and went for a run while he was there. It was a really enjoyable 4.36 mile run. After practice we went home so I could shower. We picked up our farm share, went to Barnes & Noble to pick up a gift card for a birthday party that afternoon and back home for lunch.

The birthday party was for one of Carlos’ new school friends. He loves to dance and takes dance lessons. His mom said he really wanted a dance birthday party so the studio let him have the party there. The two dance instructors spent about a half hour teaching the group of kids a short dance to one of the songs in the most recent Muppets movie. Then the kids performed the dance for us. They had cake and ice cream in the lobby area before going back into the dance room for another performance. The dance instructors put other music on and led the kids in a little freestyle dance party. It was nice to see the boys participating too and having so much fun. My husband is a great dancer and Carlos has inherited the natural rhythm that every Mozambican boy seems to be born with thankfully!

Sunday 9-14-14

I ran 4.40 miles at my happy place, Ashley Reservoir, for a much needed run after work. At home I whipped up my favorite black bean and corn salad for an afternoon barbecue. Carlos had skating at 11:30. At 1:30 all went to the barbecue at the house of one of his class mates later in the afternoon. This new school is very small. There is a strong sense of community. This family invited the entire class over to get to know the families. The teacher and one teaching assistant also came. It was a beautiful afternoon. There was tons of homemade food. The company was enjoyable. It was so nice to chat with everyone, get to know the parents and kids a little better and make ourselves more visible. Carlos is settling in very nicely and we are beyond thrilled with the transformation we have seen in him in the short time he’s been back at school.

We love Montessori and what it is doing for Carlos, but we are quickly becoming aware that not everyone shares our enthusiasm. At soccer practice a boy from Carlos’ old school told him that his mom won’t let him go to Montessori because they let you learn whatever you want to and that’s not right. There have also been a few quips made to me by parents about the lack of structure in a Montessori classroom. I don’t say too much other than to encourage people to visit a Montessori school before criticizing. I tend to preface any discussion about Carlos’ new school with, “Montessori school is not appropriate for all children, but it is a great fit for Carlos.”

So how was your week/weekend?

 

Redefined

My relationship with food has been dysfunctional for as long as I can remember. This injury has forced me to realize that my relationship with running borders on disordered behavior too. I believe things happen for a reason and if anything good came from this experience it is that my relationship with fitness and food has been positively redefined by this injury.

Initially I took up running to help me lose weight after having my son in December 2006. The weight didn’t fall off like I’ve heard from others, but gradually over the course of the next 6 years I lost about 75 pounds. For the past 2 years I’ve bounced up and down about 5 pounds depending on where I’m at in my race training. Sadly endurance training does not translate into weight loss for me. It actually causes weight gain usually near the end. The truth is, running a lot makes me hungry!

I have found that over the last couple of years training for long races has essentially helped me to maintain my weight. Though the food I was eating got healthier and less processed, my eating behaviors hadn’t drastically changed. You can overeat on fruit, vegetables and nut butters! There really is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

In the back of my head has been a nagging fear. I worried that if I couldn’t run the weight would come pouring back on me. When I stopped running in late April I knew I would have to pay close attention to what I was eating. The injury has consumed my life and most of my time was spent tending to my foot. If I wasn’t cautious I knew I would start gaining weight quickly.

Almost immediately the scale jumped up a couple of pounds and within a couple of weeks my weight reached a number that was simply unacceptable. When I tell you I gain weight by looking at food it’s no joke. Weight loss for me is a very slow and challenging process, but weight gain is effortless and instantaneous. I began weighing myself every few days to keep things in check. I jumped back into diligent food tracking either on my fitness pal or in a paper journal. I began weighing and measuring my food more consistently.

My weight reached its highest in over two years, but then it came back down to the weight I’ve been at since last fall. It’s not my ideal weight, but I’m healthy and energetic. I have about 15 pounds to lose to be within my “goal” weight range.

Years ago a setback like this would have definitely resulted in a massive weight gain. This injury taught me a very valuable lesson. I don’t need running to maintain my weight. The cat is out of the bag…it is not really the running that’s been keeping my weight in check, it’s the habit I’ve created to move my body everyday. Just because I couldn’t run didn’t mean I couldn’t move. I swam, water jogged, did yoga and lots of strength training. Instead of wasting more of my precious time going to and from the gym I learned how to strength train at home using little more than my 5 pound dumbbells, a 20 pound Kettlebell, a yoga mat and an exercise band. For the first time in my life I’m doing real push-ups! I can hold planks longer each time and my yoga balancing poses are getting stronger. I am excited to start running again. I’ve missed it so much, but I’m also really motivated to keep up with the new workouts.

I have issues with food and running from them isn’t going to resolve them. I’ve made great progress in overcoming the issues that kept me obese for so long. Being injured forced me to face the food demons head on. Each time I confront my relationship with food it loses some power over me. I hope to someday be in complete control of food. I am a work in progress.

In the midst of all of this I’ve had some interesting conversations with Carlos lately about nutrition. A couple of weeks ago at his school carnival kids could win a large bag of chips or 2 liter of soda. I just gagged a little writing that and I’m furious about it, but I’m told this is tradition and the kids love it?! I could write an entire post about this, but my point in mentioning it here is that I made the analogy that our body is like a castle and we are the king or queen of the castle. Do we really want to let harmful things inside our castle? If I’m advocating for Carlos to give his body the royal treatment then why shouldn’t I do the same?

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” Jim Rohn

Forward Motion

The curse of December is upon us. Well it always used to be a curse for me. For years I basically washed my hands of any attempt at weight loss during the holidays. You know the old “I might as well just start fresh on January 1st.” Last year was a turning point for me. It was the first year that I did not gain weight over the holidays. If I remember correctly I may have even entered the new year a pound or two less.

Last year I went into the holidays with a slightly different mentality. I enjoyed holiday treats here and there, but I didn’t go totally crazy. I was also marathon training which doesn’t typically mean weight loss, but I was very active throughout the month of December and into January. 

This year I’m taking an even more proactive approach. Christmas came early for me. My husband and I never exchange gifts for birthdays or holidays. Instead we feel free to gift ourselves certain agreed upon luxuries at any given time of the year finances permitting. Today I signed on with a personal trainer for 12 sessions. Along with our sessions she is helping me to design a fitness plan for the rest of the week including strength training activities I can do on my own at the gym.

I love running, but it’s time for a bit of a change. I will continue to run for fun, relaxation (yes I run to relax!!) and stress relief, however, I’m not currently training for anything specific. I also recently bought a Groupon for a local yoga studio so I will throw that into my fitness regimen for the next 10 weeks or so. My fitness goals are to improve my flexibility, increase my strength and continue to improve my speed. 

I have also decided to meet the holiday food frenzy head on. Seriously this time of year really stresses me out. God help me I love treats and working in a hospital can be a nightmare. The doctors buy gourmet gift baskets, patients’ families bring in food for the nursing staff, the nursing staff brings in sinfully delicious treats for each other. I’ve got my boxing gloves on this year and I’m going to punch most of it away. I control what goes into my mouth not the other way around. I will allow myself to enjoy only the treats that really really interest me. No wasting my time on those Russell Stover chocolates when there are Lindts Dark Chocolate truffles awaiting.

Having a plan doesn’t mean I won’t indulge here and there, but my goal is to keep chipping away at the last 13 pounds I have to lose before finally reaching my Weight Watchers goal weight. I’m not going backwards this holiday season. It’s forward motion from here into the new year. 

Ten

My little guy started preschool in September.  I opted to send him Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for a half day.  I drop him off around 7:45 (school starts at 7:50) and pick him up at 11.  He goes to school only a few miles from the reservoir I typically run around.  It is quite convenient.  I have been diligently going to the reservoir almost school day after I bring Carlos to school.  We have had a great fall and it helps that I like running in cooler temps.

I was running one loop around the reservoir which is about 3.5 miles.  Lately I have been craving more especially on those gorgeous mornings.  I have been doing two loops around when I can.  This morning I decided to do my long run of the week and made it a 10 miler.  I ran three loops around the res.  It was perfect running weather.

Who am I running 10 miles, 7 miles, even 3 miles?  I can’t even explain how I feel when I am out there on the trail.  Sure I have bad runs.  Today was a great run.  There were moments when the mental aspect of running tried to slow me down or make me stop, but I kept pushing through.  I finished one loop and took a water break.  When I set out on the second loop I felt excited about doing 10 miles. I get lost in my thoughts at times and then I can’t believe how far I’ve run.

I had set my water bottle near a tree at my starting point.  I took another water break after the second loop.  There was not one ounce of me that wanted to abandon the ten miles I had set out to do.  My iPod was set at a new favorite running tune ready to play and I set out for my final loop.  My legs felt so strong.  My breathing had settled down to a regular, comfortable rhythm somewhere in the first loop.  The sun was out but the air still really cool.

I finished my run around 9:45 am, jetted home for a quick shower, made a green smoothie and then headed back to get my son from school. Since it was an early release day I had to be there for 10:45.  In less than 3 hours I accomplished my long run and so much more.

Now I am sitting in my sister’s kitchen.  She lives outside of Boston.  We were in need of some sister time.  So we are off to Elephant Walk shortly.  I can’t wait.  I am starving!!!