Monday, December 31, 2012

The End is Near

As 2012 comes to a close and I look back on my year in running, I'm pleasantly surprised. While the past two months have been a huge disappointment, I actually made major strides as a runner this year. 

Thinking about the year, I opened my blog to see what I said at the end of 2011. I started with a list of accomplishments and things I'd wished I'd accomplished. I was happy to see that in 2012, I did all the things I'd wanted to do but hadn't in 2011 (PR the 10k, break 1:40 in the half). 

In 2012, I'm proud to say I:
Ran 2 marathons 
Won 3 age-group awards (5k, 4 mile, 10 mile)
PR'd in every distance!
Got more involved in the Buffalo Chips, both as a runner and volunteer

In January of 2012, I set a few goals for the year:
PR the 10k  (Check)
PR the half, even if by a few seconds (Check)
Run a 3:55 (or-gasp-a 3:50) marathon (Check, and check!!!)
Generally, be more dedicated and run faster (Check)

As much as I like to PR, the final goal of being a better overall runner is what I'm happiest about. Doing long runs- and even marathons- became less taxing this year. I'm now able to keep up with the Chips I run with on long runs, and I PR'd on a very challenging marathon course in San Francisco. Who knows how well I would have done on a flat course?

A few things I wish I'd done this year:
Run 3 marathons
Qualified for the Boston Marathon 
Not taken over 2 months off

It is reassuring, but still frustrating, that the things I didn't accomplish are all due to my broken leg. I took up a new sport (climbing) that I love, and I paid a bit of a price for it this year. Hopefully I'll be back running sooner rather than later. 

Overall, in 2012 I ran 1128 miles (not counting the run/walking I'm doing now), up from 1042 in 2011. And that was my total as of October 22. I'm sure I would have gotten close to 1400 without the broken leg.

Time for a new year and new goals, coming soon to a blog near you!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

To Get Back to The Point

Sometimes I forget that this is a running blog. Sometimes I want it to be something else: a place for politics and funny things and food. That would likely complicate things, and is certainly a topic for another post.

To get back to the purpose of this running blog, I thought it about time to write a few words on how running is going now that I'm working my way back into it.

In two words: IT STINKS!

In all seriousness, I'm frustrated. I'm oddly zen about it, as I have been since the break. It isn't like the feeling of a poor performance where I know I could have done better. I just can't expect to be back immediately.

I started last week with 1 minute running/4 minutes walking, 4 times, bookended by 5 minutes of walking (30 minutes total). My PT told me to wait a day to see if anything hurt, then up it to 2 run/3 walk, until I get to 5 minutes in a row of running. Well, 1/4 went fine, as did 2/3 a few days later.

Unfortunately, the 3/2 I did yesterday went very poorly. By my third set, my left leg hurt while running. I finished out the 30 minutes, but it was mildly painful. I was advised not to progress in distance if I was in pain, and not to progress if I had pain the next day. Well, I'm two for two on that!

Today, I took it easy on the leg and rode the recumbent bike for 30 minutes (6.5 miles). My left hip is actually pretty sore, so I'm thinking a few days of non-impact activity is called for. I may start back up at 2 minutes of running and 3 of walking to play it safe, before I try 3/2 again.

So frustrating, but not as frustrating as developing a new injury.

Running Makes You Smarter

Photo credit:
We all knew that already, though, didn't we?

An article in the New York Times today (Exercise and the Ever-Smarter Human Brain) discussed studies on the evolution of human physical ability and brain development, and how they are believed to be linked. The researchers posit that the ability to perform endurance athletics such as long-distance running developed alongside advances in mental acuity. In other words, humans evolved to be smarter animals as they evolved the ability to run.

The researchers continue, stating that it stands to reason that exercise has positive effects on mental function, even in immediate, not evolutionary, timeframes. I.E. running makes you smarter.

Don't take my word for it; read the article for yourself here.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Ice is Getting Thinner

Last night, I had the opportunity to see an eye-opening documentary called Chasing Ice. Several local organizations sent our e-blasts about free tickets sponsored by the Kendeda Fund (part of the Tides Foundation), so I thought I'd check it out. I'm glad I did.

Photo Credit:
The film follows a team of scientists-slash-photographers from the Extreme Ice Survey as they plan and implement the huge undertaking of documenting the melting of the world's icebergs, to demonstrate the immediacy and importance of climate change. The EIS team designs pods to be placed at remote locations to capture time-lapse imagery of the ice melting over several years; the first half of the film captures the installation, maintenance, reasoning, and human interest of this immense task.

While the first half of the film takes viewers to remote and beautiful locations, it is the second half of the film that shows how those locations are quickly changing. In breathtaking time-lapse detail as well as video from excursions, we see just how rapidly huge icebergs are melting and disappearing. Huge sheets of ice, the size of five football fields, calve off and sink into the ocean. Environmental contaminants, brought to the ice caps in the air, burn holes in the ice and melt it away. Huge rivers form where ice once ruled.

This is happening right now. While most of us realize that science is agreed that climate change is real, those needing visual "proof" can find it in the images from this film. It is at once breathtaking, beautiful, and absolutely frightening. The main scientist in the film, Jim Blalog, says that in 30 years, when his daughters ask him what he was doing when climate change was rapidly altering the face of the earth, he wants to be able to say he was doing everything he knew how to do.

I hope more of us strive to be able to say the same thing. I know I aspire to do just that.

To learn more and find a location where the film is playing, visit

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I Heart Asics!

I'm one happy lady after coming home to a shiny new pair of Asics Gel-Blur 33s on my doorstep today! I entered a twitter contest from @AsicsAmerica and @boomboomreed, and scored a fancy new pair of free, super cute shoes! I can't wait to try them out!

Back to My Evil Ways

Monday night run/walk 2 miles, yoga.
Tuesday climbing.
Wednesday lunch yoga.
Thursday night climbing. 
Friday, mostly rest.
Saturday morning yoga, run/walk 2.3 miles.

All that to say, I'm getting back to it! I've done a few good 5.11a routes, and I'm even feeling ready to try my hand at a 5.11b. I got over the overhang on the middle wall finally, though I didn't make it to the top of the route yet. I'm feeling much stronger at yoga, and I'm up to 8 minutes total of running within the 30 minute session.

Yay for going overboard!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Quarry Trail: A Beautiful Day in Auburn

The sun may not have been out, and the sky may have threatened rain, but yesterday the hills of Auburn were host to a fantastic day of hiking. After a false start (i.e. me not knowing where I was going), the Quarry Trail appeared. 

Having explored several of the shorter trails near the Confluence, I picked the Quarry Trail both for the sneak peak at the quarry climbing area, as well as for the variety of historical remnants it boasts. The trail is mostly flat, with only the slight occasional grade, which was welcome after last weekend's steep (but short) hike. 

Starting out, the trail follows the water from a high vantage. Soon, the limestone loading docks (what is left of them) mark the side trail to the quarry. I was excited to see the quarry as I hope to climb there soon, but I was not prepared for how beautiful it would be. It baffles my mind that people gutting the earth for raw materials can create such a beautiful sight. A steep hike up through the quarry took us to a shaded path leading back to the main trail, making a nice mile or so downhill diversion after the amazing sight of the limestone walls.

Continuing past the quarry, the trail continues to follow the water, passing a paleontological cave and Murderer's Bar Rapids (which you can more hear than see). The Quarry Trail then meets the Western States Trail, which looks so slight in comparison to the large stature it claims in my mind due to the famous race that traverses it. 
Limestone loading docks
Following the river

After a few hours of strolling, we turned back, and ate near the limestone loading docks. Suddenly, the chill was more menacing than it had been while walking (I had even taken my jacket off for a time), so we set out back to the car. My knee was achey by that point, but I'm happy to report that it feels fine today, even after the five or so miles hiked. The evening trip to the hot tub may have helped my recovery. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Stagecoach Trail

After hearing the word "hike" last night, I woke up this morning itching to get outside. I went in my kitchen, grabbed the trail guides I printed out in the spring when Julia and I started being outdoorsy together, and got to planning.

I picked the Stagecoach Trail, which is in the Auburn State Recreation Area just off the confluence. After a 45 minute drive, I parked and set off on my hike.

Of course, the trail I decided to take today is an 8% average grade, with the highest grade at 23%. It was uphill the entire way! I could definitely feel my lack of aerobic fitness after about 15 minutes.

I'm not sure that I took the actual trail all the way, because I ended up at the foot of the Foresthill Bridge, then the trail I was on hit a dead end. I think I went about a mile each way, and the trail is two each way. There were several places where I could have gone a different direction, so I'm sure I just did my usual and went the wrong way.

When I had walked back down to the confluence, I sat and read for about an hour on the beach. It was just beautiful!

In the Meantime

In my last two weeks of recovery, I had some fun times. Here are a few photos.

Had a fantastic Thanksgiving (two actually) with friends.

Made awesome Star Wars snowfakes (with skilled help, of course)!

Scored the ugliest sweater for this season's parties.

It's A Long Way to the Top

It has been almost a week since I ditched the brace and "started rehabbing" my sad little slowly mending leg. I'm ashamed to say I haven't been getting as much accomplished as I'd like.

I started Monday with a gym session, followed by some overly ambitious climbing. I wore the brace unlocked so I could bend my knee, which made more difficult climbs do-able in theory. In practice, my endurance on non-juggy holds isn't what it was two months ago. I think I got a few 5.10bs done, but struggled on a 5.10d that I should have left alone, and finished up on an adjacent 5.9. I probably embarrassed myself, and should have known better than to be that ambitious on day 1.

I've been doing the few PT exercises I have so far (mostly leg lifts of different sorts), but didn't get back to the gym after Monday due to a hectic work and social schedule. I'm excited to start real PT tomorrow and hopefully get on a faster track.

I took the plunge and went to yoga yesterday morning, and man was it a challenge! Standing poses were noticeably more difficult that I remember, but for the most part I could do everything (albeit a bit modified at times). Of course, it is frustrating to be so far from where I was a few months ago, when I'd finally gotten the swing of yoga. I'm sure it'll come back soon.

In other news, I took another plunge and bought Brooks Pure Cadence running shoes on Friday. I've been wanting to ditch my clunky Asics 2170s and orthotics and try out some lighter, more minimal running shoes for some time. Since I'm not in the middle of training and I am really starting from scratch, now is the time.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Marathon Blues

When I left the CIM finish line at 9:35 this morning, I was excited to get back into running and finish my sixth marathon. I could almost taste it. The rush of watching the finishers momentarily distracted me from the reality of what will come between now and that next finish line. 

Over the following few hours, I hung out with the Chips who ran CIM, from our fastest finisher at 2:44, to the group I train with at 3:38. The limping and vivid race recounting reminded me of my race finishes, and fed my desire to get to the finish line once again. 

As the sun came out over the Capitol, and more Chips migrated over to the tent, something peculiar happened. My longing to get to the finish line gave way to jealousy towards the finishers, for their achievement of running what for most was a good race in horrendous conditions. I stated to think about how I would have been so well trained for this race, and how I would have the badge of honor of a decent finish time despite the conditions. Had I run, I probably would have lamented the conditions for depriving me of the BQ I sought (which I'm assuming I would have missed). Not having run, I lament that I didn't get the experience of running in the downpour and 40 mile per hour gusts that today's race boasted. 

Hearing the race stories, and the talk of next races, I started to lose my earlier excitement thinking of the road ahead of me. Since I started running marathons, I haven't taken much time off after each race. Usually, I have an immediate target, and for most races, it has been less than eighteen weeks after my last race. For the most part, I recover for a week from one race and get right back into training. 

With my current situation, I don't have momentum to start from. I haven't run, or done any cardio at all, for six weeks. My left leg has lost a significant amount of muscle mass, and my right leg probably has lost some as well. I haven't had the opportunity to test this theory, but my balance probably isn't great, I'm probably not too stable, all meaning that my stride probably isn't in too great of shape. 

Unlike previous times when I've started training, I can't 'start out slow' with 30 mile weeks. My doctor specifically told me I can't even start with 15 mile weeks. I have to start run-walking, and gradually build up mileage. My cardio cross training is similarly limited, with rest days built in to make sure I don't develop an overuse injury.

Thinking about all this made me feel pretty down, and really didn't make me too excited to start running (even after the excellent morning rush of the finish line). Run-walking and aiming for a short distance race in a few months aren't things I normally aspire to. I feel like less of a runner, less of an athlete, for having to start from scratch.

At the same time, I feel like a horrible whiner for thinking this way. I've been so good over the past year or so at not being a pessimist, and not worrying about things that don't matter. Obviously, recovery matters, but it isn't something I should let myself get this upset about. People, including my coach (a world class athlete, no less), suffer much worse injuries and much slower recoveries than I'm faced with. I just broke my fibula, which only supports 8% of one's body weight. Sure, my leg muscles atrophied a bit, but my range of motion is mostly intact, and my connective tissues didn't suffer any damage. I really don't have anything to complain about.

The most important thing for me to do is be positive, work as hard as I can without overdoing it, and take solace in the fact that I'm done with my six weeks. Well, I guess I should say I'm done with the first six weeks. I have many weeks ahead.

There's No Place Like Home

If there was any worry that I wouldn't be motivated to run after my extended layoff, the past hour has extinguished that idea completely. I showed up early to the CIM finish line to watch the elites finish before starting my shift at the Chips chow tent. I've never really been a spectator before, so I didn't really know what to expect.

Watching the top men finishers approach the finish, soaked and in obvious pain from the cold, wet conditions, have me the strangest feeling. I got an incredible urge to be soaked, achy, and an hour from finishing marathon number six.

That intense desire is more for the incredible feeling at the finish line. That combination of pain, sweat and accomplishment is unrivaled by anything else. Watching the elites finish CIM with the most agonized race faces on gave me that peculiar, teary-eyed longing for my own finish line.

In a word, I'm an addict. There's no place like a marathon finish line!

Top male (back) and male relay (front) finishers approach the finish line, at 2:13

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Day of Reckoning Has Arrived

Tomorrow, thousands of people will run the California International Marathon. I won't be one of them. It is still surreal that something I was so excited about, working so hard towards, is going to come and go so easily.

I haven't been biting my nails all week watching the weather reports of an upcoming "stormageddon," and neither have I been carefully planning and executing a pre-race-week meal plan. I haven't been making sure I get extra sleep, and I haven't been checking and re-checking my gear and race fueling plan.

I worked the Expo today, staffing the Buffalo Chips booth where we weighed in the Clydesdales and Athenas, and sold Chips gear and memberships. I started off by picking up my race packet and turing in my timing chip. I perused the booths, feeling much like an interloper, only recognizable as such from the waist down (and not recognizable when in front of a table).

The fact remains that it'll be a while before I'll be as well-trained, as ready to make a BQ attempt, as I was the day before I broke my leg six weeks ago. Fresh from three nearly-back to back marathons in a year, I was handling milage well and really making strides toward achieving my speed goals. Maybe it won't take as long as I think to get back to that place, but I don't want to assume it will be easy. Maybe I shouldn't be a pessimist, but I really don't want to have my hopes up and just be severely disappointed when I can't run a sub-1:40 half or a sub-3:50 full in the next six months.

On the plus side, tomorrow's CIM brings an opportunity to support my team. I'll be at the finish line Buffalo Chips booth feeding our finishers, hearing their race stories. I have quite a few friends with high goals for tomorrow, and I'm excited to see how they do.

Tomorrow also brings the Buffalo Bash, our annual holiday/awards banquet. I didn't attend last year,  since I didn't feel like a "real" Chip yet, which makes me all the more excited to attend this year.

Next year, I know I'll run the San Francisco Marathon in June. I know I'll be able to finish in under 4:00, and I hope I'm able to PR. Aside from that, who know. Maybe I'll be able to run a spring half, but I doubt I'll run a spring full marathon like I'd planned. I very unlikely to both complete my 10 marathons by 30 goal, and qualify for Boston. Qualifying for Boston seems more likely. 10 by 30 was an arbitrary, Monk-ish goal anyway...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The End is Near!

As the end of my six week recovery was fast approaching, I was becoming alarmed that my leg still hurt. The worrier that I sometimes am, I started to think maybe I had torn something, or maybe the poor fit of my leg brace was slowing my healing somehow. I took advice from a few knowledgeable folks, and sought a referral to sports medicine, assuming I wouldn't be able to get in until well after my six weeks were over.

Surprisingly, I got an appointment for a this past Monday, after receiving a referral last week to the doctor Julia recommended (her "knee person"). I went in, got new X-Rays, and learned that my bone is healing just fine, and I will be able to go brace-free starting at the six week mark! The doctor confirmed that I didn't tear anything, and I should be able to start weight bearing exercise fairly soon!

Despite my initial excitement, the discussion I had with the doctor about activity was a bit sobering. I have to wait until I'm pain free (and not just for a day) before doing strenuous exercise (like running). I can start on the stationary bike, with 5 minutes at a time, rest a day to see if it hurts after the fact, then incrementally add time. I can go for long walks. I can do yoga, but not anything requiring deep knee bending until I've worked back into it for a while.

When I'm pain free, I can run, but I have to start very slowly. Like run for a minute, walk a minute, and don't progress in mileage too quickly. I'll be lucky if I'm running a mile by the end of the year! The doctor said that I should be fine to tun the San Francisco Marathon in June, and I get the feeling that anything much sooner than that is really out of the question.

I had considered a March marathon, and perhaps the Davis Stampede half in early February as my first race back. I thought February would give me a good amount of time to get my speed back, but now I'm not so sure.

Time will tell how fast I am able to get back into running. I don't want to be too conservative and waste time, but I also don't want to get an overuse injury (ITB, etc.) from trying to come back too fast. I'm already a bit frustrated, but I'll just have to deal.

The good news is, I should be able to get back into climbing almost immediately. I'll wear the brace at first to prevent knee banging, but adjusted so I can bend my leg. Hopefully I can get back on some 11a's by the end of the month, and get back on track to try my hand at lead climbing soon!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Adventures of the Overly Active

Julia is staying with me for the long weekend, and we had great plans for the great weather. After Thanksgiving with her family yesterday (where we both ate waaay to much), we were going to start with a trip to Pipeworks today. Tomorrow (maybe Sunday) we'd head to Auburn Cliffs, where Julia and one of our friends would climb, and I'd be the designated photographer and snack lady. I've been itching to climb in Auburn since it opened about a month ago, but outside climbing is a little too dangerous for my current condition.

Well, as luck would have it, Julia called me from a morning errand this morning. I thought she would be telling me to meet her at the gym for some climbing before we headed to Mari's parent's house for Thanksgiving #2. Nope, not today. She was stuck in her car, unable to move, not sure what was wrong.

Photo credit:
I picked her up,  and we headed to the doctor in Elk Grove. One diagnosis of a pulled lat later, and our weekend plans were dashed. She's out for at least a week. In all honesty, I probably could do a better job of taking it easy and not climbing until I see the doctor next. But I did want to climb a bit at the gym (of course), and going to Auburn just to hang out sounded fantastic. Oh well.

We were such a sight at the hospital. I pulled up to the passenger unloaded, hobbled from the car, and helped Julia get out by lifting under her arms. Walking into the hospital, we both were slow and labored in our walking, but with very different gaits. We kept laughing at ourselves. It is so not funny, its funny.

People keep saying to me that the broken leg is a sign that I should take it easy. I don't buy that. Julia doesn't either. We work hard, we push ourselves, and sometimes we have setbacks. But we don't let that stop us.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving baking time!

While many of my friends were Running to Feed the Hungry this morning, I was baking cranberry bread. No, this isn't my usual, whole wheat banana cranberry bread (with low sugar and fat). This is the real 1:2 sugar to flour ratio classic. It is going to be delicious. Yesterday, I baked a pumpkin pie to take to Thanksgiving at Julia's house. Crust from scratch, all butter! It looked so flaky and delicious when it came out of the oven.

 It is probably a good thing that I've been feeling a little chubby for the past few days. I got a good workout in and climbed on Tuesday, but still woke up feeling blah on Wednesday. Hopefully that feeling will help me reign my eating in at Thanksgiving #1 today, and Thanksgiving #2 tomorrow.

It is a beautiful day out, and I wish I could go for a run. Or go to nature and just walk around. Another week and a half, and I'll be closer to doing those things again. I'm sure I won't be super stable or have much endurance when I start out, but it will be so much better than being couch-bound most of the time.

Monday, November 19, 2012

All Roads Lead to Rome

The Spirit of the Marathon II, set at this year's Rome Marathon, is in production. I'd be excited to see the film anyway, but I'm extra excited since I ran the race they filmed! Sneak preview below...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Food Stamp Challenge: Aftermath

If you haven't noticed, I didn't post anything on the seventh day of the 7 Day Food Stamp Challenge. As I had been noting for several days leading up to the final day of the Challenge, I was hungry, beat, and crabby. I wasn't feeling up for anything.

The bottom line: I bagged the Challenge after completing six days. I wouldn't say I successfully completed those six days, because I felt awful by around the third day, which continued up until I gorged myself on the day I quit the Challenge. When I got home on Wednesday, I didn't even want to think of how I would pack a lunch for my all-day meeting that would fit within the Challenge. Plus, they would be serving food. It would be a long day. I had done enough.

What did I learn? Well, I probably spend more on food and don't think about how much of it I eat, at least from a financial standpoint. Sure, I don't buy super-expensive stuff by most standards, but I snack when I want and buy quality food. I wouldn't be able to do that on a food stamp budget. I would probably eat more rice and beans, and less Greek yogurt. I would still eat oatmeal, but I would likely omit the walnuts and raisins for cost reasons.

I'm hoping that this little experiment didn't set me back. I worry that the old saying that starving yourself just makes the body hoard calories once normal eating resumes. In any case, I've been eating a but less than normal since ending the challenge.

All in all, it was an interesting six days. I'm happy to be back to eating again.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Food Stamp Challenge Day 6

On Day 6 of the Challenge, I ate the following, which wasn't nearly enough:


Surprise! I had oatmeal with raisins and walnuts, and coffee as usual. I added a small glass of almond milk because I was pretty hungry when I woke up. It didn't help too much. $1.04.


I had a spinach salad with garbanzo beans, carrots, tomatoes, and cheese on the side. Spinach was pricey, so this came in at roughly $2.08.


I goofed, and didn't bring my Clif bar with me to my afternoon series of meetings. Lucky for me, they had snacks so I didn't starve. I had a small plate of bread, cheese, and grapes. I'm going to estimate this at around the same cost as much cheese, crackers and lunchmeat lunch, since it roughly resembled it in size. $1.87. 


For dinner, I made a nice big panful of fried rice with tofu zuchinni and peas. This will be dinner tomorrow as well. All this for $0.79 per serving!

How did I do?

Today has been rough. I continue to be hungry and irritated, and I don't know if I can make it another day. I'm sure if I didn't know this would end after tomorrow, I'd buck up and come up with a workable solution to my hunger pangs (switch up food), but having the end in sight I'm not planning to change. I did modify my post-leg-break diet to include a heaping serving of brown rice tonight, though, due to hunger. I've been staying away from too many carbs since I'm not as active, and have been getting much of my carb intake from vegetables. I was just too hungry today.

On the Challenge side of things, I came in over budget by $0.88 today due to the estimated cost of my snack and lunch. I have $5.13 left of my $34.30 for the final day of the Challenge.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Another Brick in the Wall

Amidst the Food Stamp Challenge and my resulting lightheadedness, I've neglected to keep up with the true purpose of this blog, or posting about fitness. I actually took a big step yesterday, and climbed for the first time since breaking my leg!!!

Photo credit
I talked with a few folks at the gym, and found out it isn't uncommon or frowned upon for the less-abled to climb, with protective apparatus attached (i.e. my leg brace). I texted Katie, my climbing colleague, and we met at Pipeworks on the Veterans Day holiday for some climbing.

It turns out that Katie didn't like the idea of me belaying her, since if I caught a fall I might tweak my leg. She was thoughtful and supportive, though, and belayed me for quite a while after doing her cardio workout.

I started with a short 5.5, to see how I would do. I was immediately surprised by the different feel of climbing with one fully extended, non-useful leg. I used my arms a lot more. After another 5.5, I seemed to get the hang of it. I moved on to two 5.7s, then a 5.8 on the slab wall, and finished with a 5.9.

I definitely had an interesting technique. I used my arms to pull more than normal, and would pretty much hop from foot hold to foot hold on my right leg. Sometimes, I would match with my left leg and just put enough weight on it to allow me to get to a higher right foot hold, but often I'd hop. I employed the leanback a lot, and today am really feeling it in my core.

I'm super excited that I climbed, and even more excited to go back and do more routes soon. I don't think I'll go much above 5.10a or so for now, but that should be challenging enough. I was at Pipeworks today, and stuck to my weight and core routine, which is improving as well. I'm getting better at the assisted pull-ups every time I go it!

Food Stamp Challenge Day 5

Four days down and three to go! Here is what I ate on Day 5, Tuesday, November 13:


Same old oatmeal with raisins and walnuts, with coffee. $0.94. I thought I'd take a new picture today.


For lunch, I had leftover pesto pasta with edamame and peas. I also had a cup of tea (not pictured), bringing the total to $0.86.


For a snack, I had the last of my pricey non-fat Greet yogurt with an apple and a little honey. $1.85.


For dinner, I had Huevos Rancheros with salsa, and a piece of sprouted wheat toast with pomegranate jelly. $0.81.


Since I had a bit of extra money today, and I went to the gym, I'm having a snack. This is the first time I'm eating after 6PM, aside from my dinner last night when I was soooo hungry that I had to leave a meeting to get home and eat. My cheese and crackers cost $0.73, leaving $0.17 cents for the day.

How did I do?

I noticed today, more than other days, that I was hungry. And irritable. Some people call it "hangry," for hungry+angry. Whatever it was, it was no fun. I'll be glad when this challenge is over, but I think I am benefitting from the challenge. For example, I may be irritated, but I've lost the 3 or so pounds I gained after breaking my leg and not working out for a week (and only doing a few short workouts a week since). Score for that!

Food Stamp Challenge Day 4

On Monday, November 12, I ate the following:


Oatmeal with raisins and walnuts, with coffee. $0.94.


Two rye crackers, turkey lunchmeat, pepper jack cheese, and carrot sticks. $1.87.


I went to the gym and had an evening meeting, so I took one of my standby Clif Mojo Bars, and a banana to hold me over until my late dinner. One note- I would never eat a banana this ripe in real life. I might freeze it and use it in a smoothie, but I wouldn't eat it plain. Yuck. Total for the snack was $1.18.


Another old standby, pesto pasta with edamame and frozen peas, was brought into the rotation today. The pesto is from a friend's garden. This is a very affordable meal at $0.70.

How did I do?

On Day 4 of the Challenge, I came in $0.21 under the $4.90 budget. I actually felt better than previous days, but I may just be getting used to the reduction in calories. One interesting thing I realized at the end of the day is that, aside from the pizza I had early in the week and the lunchmeat, I'm eating meatless meals for the most part. I tend to eat a lot of vegetarian and vegan meals, but I didn't consciously decide to do that for the challenge. I guess these meals are my standby choices for affordable meals. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Food Stamp Challenge Day 3

On Day 3 of the Food Stamp Challenge (Sunday, November 11), I ate the following:


Surprise, I ate oatmeal with raisins and walnuts, and drank a cup of coffee. $0.94.


I had Huevos Rancheros without the cheese, and added a piece of sprouted whole wheat toast with apple butter. Yum! $0.81 for the meal.


For dinner, I had two rye crackers with 3 slices of (nitrate-free) turkey lunch meat, pepper jack cheese, carrot sticks, and a bowl of kale. Pricey meal at $2.36, but it tasted great!

How did I do?

On Day 3, I came in $0.79 under budget, for a total of $4.11! I'm $0.79 ahead in the challenge, back from over budget in Day 1 finally.

Food Stamp Challenge Day 2

Today I'm going to do my best to stay within the average $4.90 per day budget, and hopefully make up for the extra I spent yesterday. Here are my meals for Day 2, Saturday, November 10:


Same as yesterday, old fashioned oatmeal with raisins and walnuts, with coffee. $0.94 total.


Huevos Rancheros! Two eggs, 1/3 can of black beans, a little salsa and about 1/2 oz of pepper jack cheese. Super cheap at $0.80!


I had my tasty but pricey yogurt and banana again, totaling $1.38.


I had my kale salad again, with garbanzos, tomatoes and carrots, but skipped the raisins. Total $1.27.

How did I do?

On Day 2 of the Challenge, I stayed within budget at $4.39, with $0.51 left over. I'm still running a deficit, but doing much better to stay on track for the challenge. In terms of my eating habits, I am eating far less than I normally would. I usually have a morning snack and afternoon snack, and they are often more substantial than yogurt and a banana (i.e. I'd add granola). I'm sure that is somewhat good for me, since I'm not as active, but it certainly makes me think about how much I spend on food and take it for granted when I just go grab something from the cupboard.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Food Stamp Challenge Day 1

My goal for the Food Stamp Challenge is to eat as close to how I normally eat as possible. I'll be cutting out the occasional trips to Weatherstone for coffee and happy hour beers, but otherwise I'd like to see how my usual food choices stack up against the budget. For day one, I'm just eating normal meals, counting the totals, and then I'll adjust if needed for Day 2 to stay within the weekly budget of $34.30.

During the Food Stamp Challenge, I'll post my meals daily here to catalog how the challenge is going. Here is Day 1:


Old fashioned oatmeal (bought in bulk at Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op) with walnuts, raisins, and almond milk. Plus, the very necessary cup of coffee. Oatmeal and add-ins $0.70, coffee $0.24, for a total of $0.94.


Non-fat Greek yogurt, with a banana and cinnamon. The banana is cheap at $0.19 but the yogurt is pricey, bringing the snack to $1.38.


Kale salad with garbanzo beans, carrots, raisins and tomatoes, all purchased at Trader Joe's. Total for the meal is $1.49, leaving only $1.09 for another snack and dinner if I want to stay within the $4.90 daily average. Yikes!


Yesterday (before starting the challenge), I made a Newman's Own pizza that I had in the freezer. I got it on sale, but it still works out to $1.66 per serving (1/3 of the pizza). At least it's healthy...for pizza.

How did I do today?

Well, I came in at $5.47, a full $0.57 above my daily average of $4.90. I'll have to make that up by being more cost effective during the rest of the Challenge. Today's meals were all healthy, and reflect what I eat most of the time. I would have usually had another snack (or two, who am I kidding?), but I don't think I'll go to bed too hungry at my current activity level.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Join the 7 Day Food Stamp Challenge

My excellent colleague Katie Valenzuela is spearheading the 7-Day Food Stamp Challenge. The challenge is to live on $4.90 per day, the amount a typical food stamp recipient receives in our area. I was originally not going to participate, because the running, climbing, and yoga require a lot of quality calories, and I wasn't willing to compromise nutrition or performance. Since I'm not really active right now, I'm happy to take on this challenge and see how well I can eat on $4.90 per day.
The details of the challenge are copied below. Will you join me? Go to the Challenge Facebook page to sign-up!
Join the Sacramento Hunger Coalition, a project of the Sacramento Housing Alliance, for the 7-Day Food Stamp Challenge! This event starts on November 9, 2012 and ends November 15, 2012 - exactly one week before Thanksgiving.

Commit to eat only $4.90 in food for at least one day during the Challenge, and to sharing your stories, recipes, photos and videos on our Facebook event page to help raise awareness about hunger in our region. Besides raising awareness, we also hope this event will help generate year-
round support for food banks, who often serve food stamp clients when they cannot make ends meet.

This event will culminate in a press conference on November 15, 2012 at 9am at River City Food Bank. If you can, please consider joining us and donating healthy food or the money you saved during the Challenge.

Guidelines for Participants:

- Spend no more than $4.90 per day, per person. This includes both food and beverage.
- Try to only eat food you purchase for the project. Do not eat food you already own (this does not include spices or condiments) unless you factor the cost of that food into your daily budget.
- Avoid accepting free food or beverages from friends, family, or at work, including at receptions, briefings, or other events where food is served.
- Most importantly, be sure to share your stories, recipes, photos and videos!

Co-Sponsors Include:
- Awake at the Whisk
- California Emergency Foodlink
- California Food Literacy Center
- Health Education Council
- River City Food Bank
- None Go Hungry
- Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op
- Sacramento Vegetarian Society, Grange #850

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Don't Stop Believin'

While most people rushed home to watch election returns, or headed to election parties, I headed to Pipeworks for post-leg-break workout two. I was admittedly frustrated after workout one last Friday, so I was hoping to get in a good one tonight.

I started again with curls, shoulder press, extensions, dips, flys, and added bench press with free weights. I moved to the seated row, lat pull down, and rope pull down. I did more fluid lifting this time, without really taking breaks. Last time I didn't want to over-do it and be sore, but I wasn't afraid of that this time.

Next, I took on the assisted pull-up. And I nailed it. I added some assistance, and ended up doing 30 pull-ups with different grips. Yessss! Now I just need to work to lower the assistance to get to a real pull up.

After all that I still had time before the Buffalo Chips Board meeting, so I went to the mat and did planks and push-ups.  Again, I didn't really rest. I actually felt my heart rate go up, so I got into the aerobic zone! Admittedly, it wasn't for very long, but I will take what I can get.

All in all, I had a pretty good, stead 40 minute strength and core workout. It felt great, and I felt much more on my game than last time.

And I didn't feel like a beached whale.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Next Race?

When I broke my leg, I experienced a bit of dissociation. After crying in front of two doctors, I pretty much blocked out that I am missing CIM this year (as well as my last prep race, the Clarksburg Country Run half marathon). I should be upset, but I've pretty successfully separated my current self from my self that is obsessed with racing.

I've done this so successfully, in fact, that I don't have another race planned. My initial thought was to not pick my next race until I get the brace off and see how well I'm doing. Why sign up for something when I might not be able to do it? What if it takes a long time to get back, and I foolishly signed up for a March marathon? That would be devastating.

I started to question this strategy a bit last week. I was in a meeting, and had someone who is pretty familiar with my running ask me when my next race was. No matter what I said, he didn't seem to get that I didn't have a next race planned. At the time, I honestly wanted to punch him (I would never do that). But after talking about it with someone else, his logic started to make more sense.

If I wait until I start trying to run in December, I might be conservative and not plan a race until I feel 100%. I might miss opportunities to push myself by having races to test my fitness and set goals. I will certainly miss out on most marathons if I wait to register, because they fill up so far in advance.

The opposing theory is that I'll sign up and either find out I can't train enough for the race, or be stubborn and train too hard and injure myself. That would be bad. But is there a middle ground?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Elusive Pull-Up

I've been coveting the ability to do a real pull-up for a few months. Back when Julia was still in Sacramento, and teaching me to climb, she took me to the weight side and told me I should do pull-ups to help gain strength for climbing. Of course, I couldn't do one.

Photo credit
Back in elementary school when we did the Presidential Fitness Challenge, I wasn't able to do a pull-up. Who am I kidding, I wasn't able to do most of the tests. I don't know that I've really tried to do a pull-up since, and I still can't.

When I was in San Jose in September, with a few months of climbing and a rapidly growing set of back muscles, I tried the pull-up again. (Side note: maybe one of the issues is lack of consistency) I still couldn't do one, but if I started on a box and jumped a little, I could do about five before being wiped out. Progress!

As I lamented in my last post, I am back to not being able to do a pull-up. It may be the lack of ability to get a jump start, or the fact that I'm on crutches.

I'm still fixated on being able to do real push-ups. I was a bit thrown off this morning when I saw this article in the New York Times Magazine (via the Twitter feed of @KatherineTarbox). The title immediately caught my attention: "Why Women Can't Do Pull-Ups." Hey, I thought, maybe I am just not meant to do them!

But I immediately thought of Julia, who can do pull-ups like a beast. As I read the article, my initial excitement faded. The article explains that short stature boosts one's ability to do pull-ups, as shorter people are stronger than taller counterparts, all other factors being equal. Plus the obvious factor of less length to pull-up.

Well, I'm short, but I can't do a pull-ups. Strength is one of the largest contributors to ability to perform the exercise, so maybe I just need to get a bit stronger. I'm working on that.

The final blow dealt by the article was the discussion of body fat. My favorite topic. Lower body fat increases one's ability to perform pull-ups, due to decrease in mass relative to muscle. It is basically the same argument for why leaner runners run faster. I'm keenly aware of how much faster I am when I approach my ideal weight (113 or so), than when I am closer to the higher end of my "fit" range (116-118).

The article said that men can get into the 5% range for body fat, where women bottom out at 10%. I would be a skeleton at 10%. I think in June when I was last tested, I was right around 18% (I honestly don't remember, but that seems right). I was also 113 or so then...

So the bottom line: strength training and getting leaner are my best options for pretty much everything I was to accomplish, including the pull-up. But they might not get me all the way there with the pull-up. I'm going to forget the article and still go for it. Being a girl shouldn't be an excuse.

Friday, November 2, 2012

And I'm back?

After work today, I went to Pipeworks to see what kind of workout I can get in (safely) with my leg broken. I actually feel pretty good about what I did, but man was it frustrating.

Since I can't bend my leg, I know that cardio is pretty much out of the question. I was hopeful about the rowing machine, but I think I'd have to hold my leg suspended, and that doesn't seem like a good idea just yet. Realizing this, I stuck to strength training for now.

Remembering my days of strength training from a few years back, I started with the usual curls, shoulder press, dips, and flies with 5 pound weights. Sure, I could do it with more, but not only do I not want to bulk up, I also want to be able to get around on crutches tomorrow.

I did a bit of awkward looking around for a while after the initial few sets, searching for what else I might be able to do. I settled on seated bench press, seated row, triceps pulldown with the rope, and lat pull down.

I was very excited when I saw that the stand up ab machine had pull-up attachment. I had really wanted to start working on doing real pull-ups. I was doing sort of jumping pull ups before. I got on the machine, tried to pull myself up, and my left side just hurt, so I got off. That was disappointing.

I found an assisted pull up machine a few minutes later, and tried that, but my left side still hurt. Maybe when I let that cool down for a few days I can try it again. I really really want to do pull-ups. Real bad.

I went to the mat area and did a bunch of push ups, planks, and crunches. I felt like a beached whale trying to transition between exercises. I'm sure I looked pretty pathetic.

I decided after a few sets on the mat to go get water and sit on the couch. I was frustrated that I couldn't do pull-ups, cardio, or competently switch between exercises on the mat. I'm usually good at everything in the gym, and it is super frustrating to not be able to do something well.

I went and got water, sat on the couch and checked my email for a while. It was actually pretty chill on the couch, and I think next time I'll bring a book and do reading between sets so I ca get more of a workout in.

I went back over and did one more set of everything, then crutched it over to the locker room to weigh myself. The scale wasn't exactly zeroed, but I weighed in at about 118. I was around 115 (I think) a few weeks ago on that scale, so I guess I haven't done too poorly so far. I mean, I'll go apeshit if I get above 120, but I think I can manage since I'm going to be getting to the gym. Also, not being on Vicodin will really help, since I was eating more to balance the horrible feeling it was giving me.

So, I'm back, I guess. I'm frustrated to not be able to do much, and super frustrated to watch people climb. I kept thinking that maybe I could climb. Maybe I can, when my leg stops hurting. 5.7s or something, where not using my left leg and just letting it hang wouldn't make me fall off. Falling would probably not be a good idea, since I might run my leg into something.

I have to remind myself that at least I just broke my leg. I should be back, albeit at a lower level, in four and a half weeks. A little more than a month. It won't be too much longer...

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Photo credit:
For the first time in probably seven years, I haven't worked out in over a week. I feel like I'm made of Jello. I may be imagining it, but I feel like I've gained ten pounds. At the same time, I think my leg is already shrinking. Waaaa. Okay, whining over for now.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I know this is a running blog, but...

This video is too good not to share on every social media platform I belong to. A group of climbers who took on El Capitan, for the first all-disabled ascent. Wow.  Seriously inspiring. "The right attitude and one arm will beat the wrong attitude and two arms. Every time."

Good Morning LA

Here is my delayed post about my impromptu morning run in downtown LA. The hotel gym wouldn't let me in without ID, so I just left the building and went for a run. No watch, just me and the streets. I'm not usually a creative person, but for some reason, those streets inspired me that morning. I just had words flowing through my head, when normally during runs I think about all the things I have to do today, or tomorrow. It isn't much, but here it is.

Right on Flower
Downtown gives way to decrepit shops of indeterminate vocation
Light Rail carries commuters in pink and blue collars
Under the freeway, a series of blue bivouacs protect inhabitants from the morning
Large blank walls menace, rows of shiny new cars gleam
Over the freeway, red lights blaze as drivers merge
Is it the lack of food and coffee, or is the smog making me dizzy
Good morning LA

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