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


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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.