Thursday, March 31, 2005

Top 10 MP3 Songs for Running

1. "Fighter" Christina Aguilera (I'm sorry. It's good for running.)
2. "Let's Get It Started" Black Eyed Peas
3. "Yeah" Usher
4. "Evening Rain" Moby
5. "Paper Cut" Linkin Park
6. "Shout 2000" Disturbed
7. "Ch-check It Out" Beastie Boys
8. "Enter Sandman" Metallica
9. "Block Rockin' Beats" The Chemical Brothers
10. "Crazy in Love" Beyonce

There are so many more, but that's 10. Any suggestions out there?

Getting started with running

Running is an awesome sport, but starting out is hard. It takes at least a month of consistent training before it starts to become easier and feel good. That's why so many people try it, and then hate it. The key is to have patience, be forgiving, and take it slow. Here are some tips for getting started:

1. Take it slow. Follow the 10% rule. Don't increase your weekly volume (mileage or time) by more than 10% at a time. This may be too aggressive for some.
2. Intervals. Try walking and then running. Start with more walking than running. Say 5 minutes walking and 2 minutes running. Then begin increasing the running and decreasing the walking.
3. Alternate your training. Don't do the same route and the same intensity every day. Following a hard run, do an easier, fun run the next day. Mix up trail running, road running, track running, and treadmill running to avoid boredom and injury.
4. Don't forget rest days. It's different for everyone. For me, it's hard to run more than 3 days in a row straight without having a break. You can always cross-train on the off days. Or, just rest! Rest is important.
5. Cross-train. Do activities like biking or use the ellipitical or stair master. You'll be using good running muscles and building them up but without the impact. Do weight training. I started getting a lot faster when I started weight training. It helps. Also, don't forget your upper body for balance. A strong core and upper body helps with running because it can carry itself and help you along. Swimming is great for this.
6. Practice good form. Have good posture when you run. Stretch up tall and relax your shoulders. Shake them out if you need to to prevent them from tightening up. Keep your core contracted to help support your back and upper body while you run. Focus on landing mid-foot or fore-foot, and land lightly with each step, as if you're tapping the ground. The more time spent on the ground, the slower you go. It should feel like you're floating.
7. Have fun! Relax and enjoy. That's why you're doing it, right?

Here are some useful links (don't forget the link in the title!):

Running Equipment

There's no better way to ruin a perfect run than to have old shoes, blisters, or chafing. Here's some tips on running equipment:

Blisters and chafing can ruin a perfectly good run. Also, good running shoes are vital. I can't emphasize that enough. First, ban cotton. No cotton. Cotton chafes and soaks up sweat. It then clings to you and either makes you cold or hot, depending on the weather. A lot of running companies make "technical" clothing for running--lightweight synthetic fabrics that wick the sweat away and keep you dry and maintain a nice temperature. I didn't buy into it until I tried it. Now, I swear by it. There's comparison. In the summer, it's as if I'm encompassed in a cool breeze, and in the winter, it traps warm air and doesn't allow the sweat to cling to you and give you a chill. The same goes for socks--synthetic. I personally love the very thin, double, non-blister Wright socks. They're awesome.
Other pieces of equipment? You're running so you don't need much. But a hat and/or sunglasses for bright days is nice. And sunblock. For long runs, or if you sweat a lot, you can get a fuel belt--lightweight belts that are fitted with water bottles that make it easy to carry fluids for running. I love my fuel belt. I also love running to music so an MP3 player is a must for me.
Also, I have a heart-rate monitor I run with sometimes to make sure I stay in my target heart range. It mostly makes sure I don't go too high on my long, slow runs. It's also useful for making sure you're working hard enough. Most also come with a calorie calculator to track calories burned, which is handy. If you want to get really gadgeted up, you can include a pedometer to track your distance too. Some people even get a GPS to tell them where they are, map their route, how far they've gone, and their speed, but to me this is overboard; at least for where I am now.

Funny health and exercise cartoon of the week. Posted by Hello

word and quote of the day


CODSWALLOP: Nonsense; rubbish

You want me to run how far? 13 miles? That's codswallop!

Quote (in spirit of the ultramarathon):

"If you start to feel good during an ultra, dont' worry you will get over it."Gene Thibeault

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

weight training for beginners

Weight training is a great way to tone up, boost your metabolism, help burn fat, and prevent injury. It's good to focus on your whole body and large muscle groups. This will make you stronger the fastest. It's very easy to do, and you don't need a lot of equipment. To learn more, go to the link above. You might want to get a good book with illustrations since there are a million different exercises to choose from. Or do a session with a trainer, or use the machines at the gym. However, with just a few free weights or a resistance band at home, you can do all the weight training you need in your own bedroom in front of the t.v. How awesome is that? I also love my exercise ball. I can do all sorts of core (abs) exercises on it as well as lots of other things. They're pretty cheap and easy to keep in the house.
To get started, I recommend 30-45 minutes 2 to 3 times a week with 24-48 hours of rest in between sessions. Focus on the entire body. Shoot for 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions for each set. By the end of 10 reps, your muscles should be very fatigued. It should take almost everything you got to push out that last rep. Rest for 30 seconds to a minute between reps.
Always maintain good form (back straight, abs contracted). If you're really straining, lighten the weight. If it's too easy, increase the weight. Experiment until you find what's right. You may have to play with the weight or the type of exercise you're doing. Every body responds differently. Stop if you have any sharp pain. You may be sore the next morning, and that's good. It means it's working!
Below, I've listed my favorite exercises for all major parts of the body. There are countless exercises so experiment and find the ones that work for you. Good luck!

My overall favorites:
1. Push-up: mostly chest, some triceps
2. Bench press: chest
3. Pull-ups: back, biceps; everything for me; the all-time hardest
4. Lat pull-down or rows: lats, back
5. Shoulder raises: shoulders (push weights up over head)
6. Triceps extensions: triceps (backs of arms)
7. Bicep curls: biceps (fronts of arms)
8. For Abs there are a million: crunches on ball and bicycles are my favorites
9. Dead-lifts: lower back; hamstrings (backs of legs); some glutes
10. Squats: glutes; quads (fronts of legs)
11. Lunges: glutes; quads

I want to be brief so as not to overwhelm anyone. I'm not going into a lot of detail on each exercise b/c illustrations are best. Refer to the link for more ideas, and please, ask me questions to clarify anything. Hope this is helpful!

Shredded Knees

I did the final long run of training in preparation for the 1/2 marathon last night. Finished in the dark. I love running in the dark. It's surreal. You can't see the ground, and I get this sensation like I'm floating. Like a weird but comforting dream. 12 miles, and I felt very good at the end. I could have gone farther. Long and slow the whole way. I felt energized and got all sorts of things done afterwards.
This morning was a different story. I feel like an old person with really bad arthritis. I had a hard time getting down the stairs, and I was afraid my legs would fail me getting out of bed. My knees feel shredded. I swear, I can feel the bones inside the joint grinding together when I walk. I have mysterious bruises on my knees too. Don't know what that's about.
My dreams were riddled with thoughts of running and training. Hard-core stuff. An avid runner I know appeared in the dream and presented me with a huge steak--raw. It looked sooo good. I devoured the whole piece of raw meat right then and there. It was delicious. Is this a sign I need to eat more protein?
Plod on fellow training partners.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Top 10 Reasons to go to Graduate School

10. If you don't, you'll have to get a real job.
9. You enjoy the confused look on people's faces when you tell them about your thesis project.
8. You think it will justify your arrogance.
7. You want to experience what it was like to be a slave.
6. You don't know what you would do without classes, exams, and writing papers.
5. You want to spend your entire 20's in the library.
4. You like your relatives whispering behind your back, "He's almost 30, and he's still in school." Like your slow and had to be held back a grade.
3. You love furnishing your apartment with stuff from Goodwill, eating Ramen noodles, and living in the apartment that was such a "great deal" (falling asleep to gunshots from the ghetto 1/2 blocks away every night).
2. You love living in poverty level. Hey, you're in a great tax bracket.
1. What the hell else are you going to do anyway?

Monday, March 28, 2005

Pam Reed approaches the finish at the 2004 Badwater Ultramarathon. On normal days, she can run up to 5x a day. She can't sit still. Posted by Hello

Definition of Insane

The Badwater Ultramarathon, the toughest race in the world: 135 mile race--all running from Badwater in Death Valley (elev. 280 feet below sea level) to Whitney Portals on Mt. Whitney (elev. 8360 feet) takes place July 11-13, 2005. That's July folks. Meaning July in Death Valley. If you survive the extreme heat, you get to tackle mountains next. The temperature drops into the 90s at night. Temperatures in the Mojave desert reach 130 degrees, and the asphalt can reach 200 degrees. Shoes often melt and stick to the pavement. Pam Reed, 44, won the race 2x in 2002 and 2003 (even beating the guys). Way to go! Can you imagine running for 30 hours straight? That's 13,500 calories, folks (at least). 60 minutes had a piece on this race and the crazy people that do it (about 70 each year) last night. For more information, go to the link above, or

In pursuit of the perfect week

I have so much on my mind. I can't focus. Part of it, I know, is that I'm not exercising enough and leaving too much time to think. All I can think about is San Diego, but that's not happening for almost 6 months. I don't want to waste 6 months of my life waiting for the future but I'm having a really hard time staying the present moment. I know it's all about the process of getting there but I really just wish I was there. That I'd already written my thesis and defended. Ugh. I have to do all that. So much pressure.
I feel like there's so many things I have to do that I'm incapacitated and overwhelmed. I don't know where to start. I do but I don't have the energy b/c I'm wasting it all on worrying about the future. I'm so excited it's maddening. I need to focus on the present moment.
I'm also in constant pursuit of the "perfect week." I know I shouldn't use that word b/c it's a very difficult standard to live up to but I can't help it. I had a perfect week once. About 3 months ago. I got everything on my lists done and had a Saturday wide open. Jason and I went out and did whatever we wanted spontaneously. The feelings of ecstasy and satisfaction were surreal.
And now I'm getting depressed because I'm not living up to these expectations. I keep falling short, week after week, and it's unacceptable. But it's Monday. A fresh start. Maybe this week will be perfect. Maybe I will be super-productive in lab, at home, and accomplish many things on all of my to-do lists (yes, I have several). Not only that, but I will accomplish all my workouts: 4 runs (1 of them long), 3 swims (1 of them long), 2-3 bikes (BFC ride this weekend), 2 weight-lifting sessions, and 1 Yoga stretching session. I can only hope. Or go crazy trying.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Procrastination and anxiety disorder, not a good mix

My weekend was much less productive than I wanted. Friday was great. I spent the night at the gym. Did a run and then an exhausted swim. Actually, the swim kind of sucked. I knew I was spent when Jason whizzed past me. Normally, I'm faster (I think the extra body fat helps b/c I'm more buoyant). He asked, "How are you going to swim a mile in an Olympic distance triathlon?" as I stood panting against the wall. I looked at him and gave him a tired smile: "I'll swim it first, before I run." Hah. Touche.
After volunteering for the bunnies on Saturday, I was exhausted. I ate like crap the rest of the day and kept calming down the foster buns. Oscar and the new foster, Cassidy (who's a sweetie to people but not other buns), fought like mad between the bars of their cages. I held each one separately and petted them and talked to them and calmed them down. Oscar finally has calmed down though he's worried about his status and is kind of mad at me. Cassidy has decided she loves me (not a hard one to win over) and runs love-circles around my feet with her tail up every time I come near. She also lets me hold her and pet her. She loves it, the queen that she is.
Anyway, I didn't do anything I had planned on doing. I still need to go clothes and grocery shopping, pick up my bike from the shop, and go on my long run. Panic! 1/2 marathon in 2 weeks. Not time to be skipping the long runs. Luckily, it's staying light longer and the weather is going to be gorgeous on Tuesday so Jason will meet me early in the park for our long, 2 hour, 12 mile run. Ugh. No wonder I skipped it (I took a nap instead).
However, I salvaged some of Sunday. Jason and I gardened like mad. The yard looks great, and I bore a new asshole in mu thumb. Should have been my toes from the long run. Damn. The yard just needs a little fresh dirt and fertilizer. I also cleaned out the closets and bookcases and went through all my clothes. I have about 6 garbage bags for Goodwill. It didn't take long either b/c I "spring" clean like every 4 months. Hey, I try to make the OCD work for me. That's the secret. Hope you all have been more productive than I. Yikes, my anxiety is kicking in big time.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Word of the Day

B.M.I. (body mass index):
your weight in kg divided by your height in cm. A range of 20-25 is considered healthy. 25-30 is considered overweight. Over 30 is considered obese. Some people can have a high B.M.I. and not be overweight (like body builders) since muscle weighs more than fat. A better indicator is your waist circumference, or better yet, your body fat percentage (should be 20-25% for females, less than this for males).

B.M.R. (basal metabolic rate):
the number of calories your body burns just to stay alive without doing any other activities. This would be the number of calories you burned if you were sick in bed all day. A rough estimate can be given from (also in link above). It's based on your sex, age, height, and weight. You can then determine how many calories you need to stay at your current weight based on your activity level. If you want to lose weight, you need to eat less than this number (200-500 calories less a day). Remember, 3500 calories = 1 pound. Creating a 500 calorie deficit through diet and/or exercise will cause a 1 lb. loss a week. You shouldn't plan on losing more than 1-2 pounds a week, and this is pretty ambitious for long periods. It's very simple: if calories in is more than calories out, you gain weight.

Make mine chocolate

To get off the topic of triathlon a little bit, first off, Happy Easter (for those of you that celebrate it)! Second, if you are thinking of getting a cute, little bunny for your kids for Easter, DON'T. They are living, breathing things, and they require care, commitment, and responsibility. That bunny won't be so cute 6 months from now when it's nipping and pooping and peeing everywhere as it goes through adolescence (spaying and neutering takes care of all this). Bunnies are pets that require a lot of care. They can live up to 10-12 years. In addition to food and water, they require routine veterinary check-ups, nail trims, exercise, love, and attention. They don't do well outside, and they don't do well in a cage all the time. I have included a link to the House Rabbit Society website above if you want more information. If you want to get a bunny for your kids for Easter, get a chocolate one. They'll like it better anyway.
On the other hand, for those of you out there who are considering a pet, consider a rabbit. People who are allergic to cats and dogs are sometimes not allergic to rabbits (me). They are affectionate, full of personality, and love cuddling and attention. They can be easily litter-box trained and can be free-roaming in a bunny-proofed house, apartment, or room. Each bunny is different, and there are tons at the shelter that need good homes. My boy bunny licks me, and runs to the doorbell when the pizza delivery guy comes. They clank their bowls on the ground at dinner time. They nudge you when you're not giving them attention. They purr. They jump in the air and kick out their feet in ecstasy when their happy. They play with toys. They display a whole host of emotions: happiness, love, affection, fear, surprise, curiousity, playfulness, tranquility, anger, and stubborness. They are absolutely wonderful, and I highly recommend one for a good home looking for a loving pet.
That's my two cents. Happy Easter!

Friday, March 25, 2005

Amanda Beard

Posted by Hello She's the athlete goddess of the week. Holding the world record (again) for the 200m breaststroke, she won several medals and caught our eye during the Athens Summer Olympics.

Kickin' my ass, the schizos, and recycling

I was good last night. Relatively. After stuffing myself with Easter candy and taking a 2-hour nap, I forced myself onto the treadmill. I didn't even think about it. Too much thinking means talking myself out of it. I just jumped on, and eeked out 4 miles. Then, I threw myself on the bike for an hour. And cleaned litterboxes. It was late but I did it. And that's all that matters. I have an ambitious weekend planned. We'll see if I can keep up, or if I kick my ass.
It's been raining here all week. How depressing. Plus, our neighbors, the schizos, keep throwing trash in our yard. No, I'm not kidding. We live next door to a halfway house for schizophrenics. Harmless, but a little strange. They throw half-eaten food in our yard. The flowers in one of the porch flowerbox were replaced with a piece of planted pizza last summer. It didn't grow into a pizza tree, much to the disappointment of our neighbors, I'm sure. I've had conversations with one guy who plays classic rock on the guitar. He offered to give me the phone number of Jimmi Hendrix. But all in all, it's not a problem. Just interesting. I guess it's better than the volunteers who collect and recycle the aluminum cans out of our alleyway dumpsters for free. What a nice service though. Very eco-friendly. But really, I'll save how much I love this city for another day. That's a whole other post.

Quote and Word of the Day

"This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time."
--Fight Club movie, 1999 (screenplay by Jim Uhls, director David Fincher)

bavardage: chattering; prattle

Her daily bavardage caused her husband to completely tune her out.

Obesity is a growing epidemic in the U.S. Be different and be fit. Don't become a statistic. Obesity leads to fatal diseases like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, atherosclerosis, and even cancer. Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Alternative exercise

The USDA is now recommending 90 minutes of exercise a day for weight-loss. "Thompson and Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman portrayed the guidelines as an "important tool" in fighting the nation's weight epidemic." The committee recommended: "Everyone should get a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes each day of moderate exercise — brisk walking or bicycling, for example. Losing weight will require 60 to 90 minutes of more intense daily exercise." That seems unattainable. However, it doesn't have to be all at once, and you can incorporate daily activities into your life that doesn't feel like exercise and doesn't take up any more time. Try some of these time-saving exercise suggestions and see what you think:

1. Walk or bike instead of drive, whenever you can.
2. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
3. If you take the bus or subway, get off 1 or 2 stops early and walk the rest of the way.
4. Park farther away from your destination and walk the rest of the way.
5. Remember that carrying groceries, gardening, vacuuming, and scrubbing toilets can be exercise. Put some music on, and see how fast you can get it done! I know it's not fun, but isn't it on your to-do list anyway?
6. Take your dog for a walk.
7. Go to the dance club and dance! (Avoid the drinks--they're just empty calories).

Exercise cartoon Posted by Hello

Word and Quote of the Day


"Mind is everything: muscle--pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind."
- Paavo Nurmi, the late Finnish runner who won 9 gold medals (6 individual) in 1920, '24 and '28 Olympics. From 1921-31, he broke 23 world outdoor records in events ranging from 1,500 to 20,000 meters


copacetic \koh-puh-SET-ik\, adjective:Very satisfactory; fine.

The copacetic run gave her some routine to her hectic day, and she slept soundly that night.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Why I Tri

Many of you may think I'm crazy for spending so much time sweating and toiling on the treadmill or in the weight room. It is addictive, I admit. But I didn't start out doing this much at once. I built it up over time. Maybe if you could understand, you'd give it a tri too!
Before I was active, I felt sluggish and unproductive. Everything was tedious. I had no energy. I was depressed. I had lower back pain from sitting hunched over reading papers and doing microscope work all day. I also suffered from low self esteem and had issues with body image.
Now, all that has changed. I have never felt so alive. Even though today, I'm a little tired and very sore, I've never felt better. I love that sore feeling you get the next day after a hard workout.

1) It boosts your immune system. I haven't been sick for 5 years!
2) It boosts your self esteem. I feel good about myself. I'm accomplishing my goals. I know I can do things I never thought were possible. Talk about a new-found respect for myself. In addition, my focus from body image has been shifted to body function. I feel stronger than ever and love what my body can do, not what it looks like.
3) I have more energy. I get so much done in a day! I'm more productive at lab because it's all about quality. People ask how I can be in graduate school and do triathlons. I need to do triathlons because graduate school is so stressful. It de-stresses me. Then, I'm more focused and productive in school.
4) It's a great de-stresser. After a hard day, I feel dead. Then, I go for a run. Afterwards, I feel alive and refreshed. Anything that bothered me before is put into perspective. When I run, time slows down. (Odd that in order to slow down and relax, I have to run). I enter a spiritual, meditative state and am forced to be in the present moment. I can't think about how many things I have to do today or what went wrong in lab; all I can think about is right now. And that is all that really matters. Afterwards, whatever was bothering me before is usually not as big as a problem. And I often have come up with a solution too.
5) No matter what's going on in my life, I have an activity that I can feel good about. It gives me concrete goals to work towards that I know I can accomplish. So, even if everything else is in the toilet, I always have 1 thing going for me.
6) I sleep like a baby every night.
7) I see things I never would see otherwise. Flowers blooming. Deer, muskrats, egrets, herons, woodpeckers. Whenever I travel, I go running in that new place. It's a great way to explore a new place in a way that you normally don't. It gives you a different perspective and allows you to be more than a tourist. I especially like to enter races in other places. It gives me an excuse to travel and be a part of a different community. The best was a Thanksgiving morning 10K in 20 degree weather in Madision, WI on a trip to see my in-laws. The run was clear, brisk, cold, and exquisitely sunny. I was accompanied by multiple other hard-core Wisconsin runners. It gave me a better appreciation of winter in Wisconsin.
8) No back pain!
9) No seasonal affective disorder!
10) I'm healthier. My blood pressure is very low, and my resting heart rate is in the low 50s.

My challenge to you is to give exercise a try. Do something active, and something you like. The options are limitless. Try it for one week consistently 3-5 times (preferably 2). After 1-2 weeks, see if you feel better. If you do, I'll give you another challenge.

Options (besides the obvious going to the gym):
walking (especially with a friend or dog)--Go about a mile or for about 20 minutes. Keep a brisk pace. Listen to music to enhance the experience.
roller blading
ice skating
volleyball, flag football, softball, golf (no golf cart or caddie), tennis, basketball, or another team sport
swimming, water aerobics, deep water running
aerobics, martial arts, or another cardio boosting class (you can also do it at home with a good video)
jump rope, jumping jacks, stairs, calisthenics
other--be creative!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Injury Prevention 101

I've been told I'm posting too much and my readers will be overwhelmed and not want to read it. However, I have more respect for my readers (few that they may be) than that so I think you can handle it.
First, I just want to say that I feel so good right now. I'm exhausted and sore from working my little tail end off in lab but I feel so fresh and productive because I forced myself to go right to the gym and jump in the pool for a hard swim last night, even though I was here for 11 hours and I didn't get home until after 10 p.m. (Yes, I was familcose.) More on how to motivate yourself and trick your brain into exercising when it's telling you you're too tired to take another step (chances are, you're not).
Okay. Coming from someone who tends to overdo it, I've had a few (none serious though, thank God) injuries. All preventable. All of them frustrated me so much because I know, looking back, I could have avoided them. I've had runner's knee, mildly strained shoulder muscle, strained calf muscle, and a more seriously strained hip abductor.
Here are some guidelines to prevent (hopefully) injuries:

1) Follow the 10% rule.
Do not make up for lost time. Each day is a new day. Remember you body isn't ready to run 5 miles if you're only used to running 2. Do not increase your total mileage or total workout time by more than 10% each week. This may be too aggressive for some people so listen to your body. It's better to do a little less consistently than big chunks every now and then. Also, alternate intense workout days with gentle workout days to give you a chance to recover.

2) Listen to your body.
We feel pain for a reason. It's your body's way of saying, "Stop! Something is wrong!" Listen to that. Stop your workout. If the pain gets worse, call it a day. If it doesn't feel better after a few days rest, see a doctor.

3) Incorporate rest days in your program.
This is when your body heals and becomes stronger.

4) Focus on form. Use your core.
Contract your abs and use your core muscles to support you when you walk, run, bike, or do any type of exercise. This supports your back and your entire body. Stretch up tall. Feel what your body is doing.

5) Hit the weight room. Strengthen your functional muscles.
We all have physical weaknesses. I have weak hip abductors (outer hips) compared to my adductors (inner thighs) (this is common for the ladies). This puts more strain on my inner knees and is a recipe for runner's knee. It also has contributed to every single one of my injuries. Therefore, I work on abductor strengthening exercises and avoid adductor ones in the weight room. I also work on large muscle groups by doing bench press, pull ups, push ups, and rows. Even if you only run, you should still try to work on the muscles that running forgets about to have a balanced body. I like to especially focus on my core (see above). I'll post a section on weight training later because there's a lot to this.

6) Make friends with a massage therapist and physical therapist.
I was able to recover 100% from my injuries by working with these two invaluable people. My physical therapist was able to identify my weaknesses and give me exercises to work on them. My massage therapist worked on my strained muscles and any tightnesses. Although relaxing, a good sports massage should be somewhat painful to really get all the kinks out. But it hurts so good! I swear by those massages now!

7) Warm up
Your muscles are cold when you start exercising and until they loosen up, are more susceptible to injury. Begin a run by brisk walking or slow jogging and gradually increase the intensity. A warm up should be low intensity and last for about 10 minutes. It should be specific for the activity you are doing. For a swim, I usually alternate breast stroke, back stroke, and freestyle at a slow pace, focusing on my form and incorporating some drills until I feel warm and loose. It also makes the work out more enjoyable because it allows you to just relax and ease into it.

8) Stretch
There's a lot of controversy on whether stretching helps prevent injury and the jury is still out but athletes as a whole believe that consistent, daily stretching is key to preventing injury in the long run. It improves flexibility as well, which means your muscles can generate more power. However, it doesn't really help to stretch cold muscles before a workout. You can opt to stretch after you warm up, but before your work-out but I prefer to stretch after a work out. It is part of the cool-down and helps me relax. Try stretching the muscle gently for 10-30 seconds 3x. Do not overdo it b/c you can tear the muscle. Also, do NOT stretch a torn muscle b/c it can tear it even more. In addition, I really love stretching before bed for about 15 minutes every night. Or, do it every morning. What a great way to wake up! You could even do it in the shower to help those achy muscles!

5) New running shoes that fit like a glove
I injured my knee by running down a steep hill in old running shoes. Then I bought a different brand to "experiment" and injured it even more. It took 4 months to fully recover. Once you find the brand that works for you, avoid changing it. When you've put about 300 miles on those shoes, replace them! It doesn't seem like much, but it makes a huge difference! Another note about running: it places a huge impact on your joints. To help alleviate this, I alternate treadmill runs with road runs. Believe it or not, the treadmill is a relief to my joints after road runs!

If you do get injured, before the doctor can see you, follow the old adage: RICE=rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Works like a charm. This recipe healed my strained calf muscle within a week or less. Also, I've been icing my legs after a hard run, and it helps cut down on soreness and swelling the next day. Some elite athletes plunge into an ice bath after a hard workout. Yikes!

Hope this helps! Stay healthy out there!

Not a dead bunny. Just Babs rolling over and begging for attention and pettings.  Posted by Hello

Quote and Word of the Day

Aerodynamically the bumblebee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn't know that so it goes on flying anyway.
--Mary Kay Ash

A double ironman. 4.8 mile swim,224 mile run, and 52.4 mile run; Anyone who does this needs psychiatric help!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Quote and Word of the Day

"Why aren't you signed up for the 401K?"
"I'd never be able to run that far."
--Scott Adams; Dilbert (4/2/01)

Fartlek (n.)--Swedish for "speed play", a type of loosely structured interval training for runners, cyclists, and in-line skaters. It combines anaerobic segments with aerobic ones. Said to build strength and speed. (also relieves boredom)

Feeling energetic when Black Eyed Peas' "Let's Get It Started" started playing, she decided to pick up the pace and do a 1/4 mile fartlek.

Lokelani McMichael set the Guinness Book of World Records mark as the youngest woman ever to qualify for and complete the Ironman triathlon (2.4-mile open-water swim; 112-mile bike ride; 26.2-mile run). The 27-year old native born Hawaiin has completed 8 Ironman triathlons. Something to definitely aspire to (and lust after).
Posted by Hello

Sunday, March 20, 2005

10 miles, 1000 calories, and 14,850 heart beats later:

After a nice, relaxing breakfast and a hot cup of coffee, I pulled myself from the chair and started getting ready. Better now than never. I felt sluggish and groggy, certainly not revved up for a 10-miler. Taz was napping underneath the table, and Babs was stretched out sunning herself under the chair with her white belly exposed. It was all I could do to pull myself away and not join them for an all-day nap-fest.
I filled my fuel belt bottles with Propel and chilled them in the freezer. Strapped on my heart-rate monitor, and checked the weather. Mid-40s. Chilly, but perfect after a little warm-up. I pulled on my socks and tied my shoes. Re-tied them so the laces were just right, applying even pressure throughout the top of my feet. Stretched. Stretched some more. Yawned. Jason, my husband and training partner, bounced up and down a few times. He looked much more energized than me.
"Do you feel RAAARGH?" he prodded me.
"No. I feel mew."
Fully equipped with our fuel belts, MP3 players, and heart-rate monitors, we stepped outside. For one of the simplest sports that exists, we were certainly gadgeting it up. The cool, early spring air hit me unexpectedly through my California-raised thin skin. I began walking quickly to warm up. It was sunny with just a hint of a breeze. Perfect running weather.
We began running with the short, springy strides of the first steps of a run. I adjusted my heart-rate monitor and checked it. It instantly sprang to 158. Guess I should have done a little more this week. I worried that my VO2 max might have taken a hit from the time off. Cautiously, I slowed my pace slightly. I had to last for 10 miles.
We ran down the street, passing other Sunday strollers in jackets and scarves, walking their dogs. I noticed the white, yellow, and purple crocuses and daffodils popping up in our neighbors' yards. Young male robins with sleek black and red feathers darted across my path, competing for the best territory to stake out before mating season officially began. Just arriving from their northern migration, it was a clear announcement that spring was here.
As we hit the running path, my stride lengthened and settled into an automatic, rhythmic pace. My mind drifted, and I felt enveloped by a meditative, surreal state. I had warmed up and entered the beginning of my runner's high. The park was teeming with runners, walkers, bikers, roller bladers. Alone, with friends, dogs, baby jogging strollers, couples, groups. Many of them passed me. Frustrated, I held back. On another day, I would have passed them or at least picked up the pace, but not today. Controlled and restrained, I maintained my heart rate, which was already creeping up. I would forget, and speed up; suddenly, my breath would shorten and I would begin to gasp. Glancing down at my wrist, I saw I had reached 170. Way too high. I slowed; my heart rate dropped to 165. Still high, but I felt comfortable so I let myself stay there.
Jason and I were chatting away. I started to get the familiar stitch on my left side that I get whenever I talk too much on a run. Running is the only time I don't talk very much. I began breathing deeply and exhaling sharply. The stitch spread from under my rib cage to down my left hip. After about a mile of deep breathing (and not talking), it subsided. Thank God, stitches are the worst thing when running, second only to gastric distress.
We reached Skinker and took another swig, waiting for the lights to change. 3 miles down; no problem. I felt good, and I was feeling better and better as we went along. We crossed Skinker and began the long climb up Forsyth. An older runner passed me. By this time, I had replaced my competitive instinct with respect, and I glanced at him as he floated by. A cyclist hammered up the hill. I slowed to maintain a pace and focused on pushing up the hill. Now, we were running on sidewalks, and my joints were beginning to complain a bit from the increased impact. We reached the top, and I felt like celebrating because I still felt good. Intramural softball teams were playing in the baseball fields to our left. Players in the dugout screamed and cheered as one of their teammates hit the ball towards the far end of the field.
Now we had reached Wydown and begin the long gentle curving descent. At first, it felt great as I let gravity carry me along. I began to pass a few runners, boosting my spirits a bit. My heart rate dropped as I floated effortlessly down. About halfway down, my knee and hip started whining a bit. I ignored it easily. The pain began to worsen, and I scooted into the bike lane, where the asphalt softened the impact. I never thought I would think of asphalt as "softening".
I saw the lights on Skinker up ahead change to green. We'd never make it. I didn't want to wait for the next light so I sprinted ahead. Pretty stupid. We made it across just fine, but my heart rate was up to 175, and I was panting. And I was at the base of another long hill. I struggled up the entire hill, fighting both the hill and my heart rate. Oh, well. It was a good fartlek. Sometimes I can't hold back the thoroughbred inside me.
We began the windy, hilly return through the southern side of Forest Park. I grimaced as my tiny needles stabbed my knee on a sharp descent. Then we reached the zoo, and I happily allowed myself to be distracted. The parking lot was filled to the brim with cars. I peeked in between the gates and got a good look at the zebras with their vibrant black and white stripes. They dozed lazily in the sun, swishing their tails lackadaisically at imaginary flies. The sight of the zebras perked me up and I passed two more people (not that I was counting).
At mile 8, I got to see the horses out in the paddock as we ran past the mounted police stable. A cop on his little dun Quarter Horse walked by. A chestnut gelding with shortly pulled mane pricked his ears towards us and craned his neck over the fence. He looked frisky, alert, and ready to run. Maybe he was jealous he couldn't come with us. I still felt pretty good except for the knee. Maybe 13.1 miles wouldn't be so bad in 3 weeks.
As we headed out of the park, we passed by the fishing pond. Some dedicated fishermen sat on the banks, wrapped in jackets and scarves. They looked cold. I can't imagine they were catching anything. We stepped around several groups of ducks, roosting in the grass. I knew I would soon see dozens of little ducklings swimming behind their parents in the lake.
We finished our last hill and began the final mile back towards the house. I had done 9, I could do 1 more. I was back on the sidewalk and ignoring the pain. I concentrated on picking up my feet and knees and avoiding the tired runner's shuffle. I couldn't control my feet very well. My brain was trying to make them run but my feet didn't want to leave the ground. I reached a numbness and some sort of rhythm, and then the house appeared and I was done.
We rushed in the house, grabbed ice packs from the freezer, and I laid on the ground with my legs covered in ice. I promptly fell asleep for the next few hours. Except for my knee, I felt very good. However, I was spent. 10 miles was enough. I couldn't have done 3 more. Not today. But I know in 3 weeks, I will be able to. It's all in the head.
Note to self: do not take naps with sweaty heart-rate monitor still on. I have a nice red rash on my chest now. Great.

Saturday, March 19, 2005


I have been bad, bad, bad. The drill seargent in my head is getting very angry. I guess I needed an R&R week (rest and relaxation to avoid overtraining). I know I can justify it. I've been distracted with the news of moving to San Diego. I've been crazy busy in lab. Training got pushed down on the priority list. Not getting home until 10 pm at night from lab certainly saps my energy, and I felt dead the rest of the week. But I definitely took a few extra days to myself. Today, after lab, I had a nice, relaxing massage. Afterwards, a restorative nap. I'm thoroughly pampered.
Okay, okay, I've been bad. So what? A few days off won't kill me. Tomorrow is a new day. I'm beginning to feel jittery. Insomnia is setting in. Restlessness. I feel like a heroin addict going through withdrawal. Maybe that's a bit dramatic, but exercise is addictive.
Tomorrow, I'm going to push this behind me and get back to myself. Get back to a secure, comforting routine. I'm not moving until late summer, maybe fall. I'm not going to put my life on hold that entire time. I'm going to continue living my life here, and enjoy my last spring and summer in this city (stinking, rotton city that it is--more on that another time) as best as I can. Each day is a fresh start, a new beginning.
The 1/2 marathon is in 3 weeks. That means only 3 long runs left. Tomorrow, I have a 10-mile run scheduled. I'm programming my MP3 player, refrigerating my Propel and getting my fuel belt ready. Get the ice bags ready (actually frozen veggies work best). The temperature will be in the upper 40s to low 50s. Perfect. I'm well-rested and uninjured. In fact, I may feel so fresh tomorrow, I may have to hold myself back. I just hope I didn't trigger my body into an early taper. I'm still learning the art of this training stuff.

Help! I'm famished!

Triathlon is a great way to get into better shape. But diet AND exercise are important when it comes to losing weight. Losing weight is hard! And everyone's body is different so what works for one person won't work for another. But here are some pointers to help get you started.
First, there are some of you (especially females) out there who are at a healthy weight and DON'T need to lose anything! So, for those of you, appreciate how terrific you are! Instead of focusing on weight, focus on other factors as you get into better shape. Focus on how you can run farther and faster and how strong you feel. Focus on what your body can DO, and not what it LOOKS like. That's way more important and rewarding. Check out your heart rate and blood pressure and watch it drop over the weeks of cardio training. Don't be surprised if you gain weight as you increase muscle mass. That's fine. You're not gaining fat b/c your jeans will still fit the same.
On another note, as you begin training more seriously, you might need to eat more because you're burning more calories and increasing your metabolism. I'm like this. I eat 6-7 small meals a day every 2 hours or so. I try to plan them out so they're healthy, small meals. It's when I get voracious that I make poor choices. When I do a 10-mile run, I burn 1000 calories right there so I need to replenish them. It's not uncommon for me to eat 2500-3000 calories a day.
However, it's important to listen to your body's cues and hunger pains, and only eat when your hungry. Unless you're an elite or professional athlete, you do not need to worry about changing your diet. Just focus on eating healthy and listening to your body. You don't need a bunch of Gu or energy bars unless you're doing an Ironman triathlon. Otherwise, if you're trying to lose weight, you'll just eat what you've burned off and be back where you started.

Okay, here are my tips to help you get started (remember--I'm not a professional so see your doctor).

1. Small, consistent changes over time.
You have to do this for a lifetime so forget dieting. Try doing small things that are easy changes to make. Make 1 change a week and be consistent. Focus on eating HEALTHY instead of less. For instance, try switching to skim milk instead of whole. Losing weight is hard, but you shouldn't have to go hungry. Ever.

2. Moderation. There is no such thing as a forbidden food.
Nothing is off-limits. However, some foods are calorie-dense and don't fill you up that much so you want to eat less of them. Allow room in your daily calorie-budget for your favorite foods (like chocolate--my favorite!) I like to think of total daily calories like the money I have in the bank. I have a daily allowance. I choose what to spend my calories (money) on, and when they're used up, that's it; I don't get any more food. So if my limit is 1800, I better choose wisely so I'm not hungry by the end of the day.

3. Calories in-calories out=total net calories (what you'll gain or lose)
It doesn't matter WHAT you eat; it's how MUCH. If you eat lettuce all day long but end up eating more than you burn, you'll gain weight. So forget all the diet stuff.

4. Have a plan. Keep a food journal.
This is absolutely the best way to keep track of what's going in and what's being burned off. You'll be surprised at how much you eat when you're not hungry and may not even realize. I've included a link above to help calculate the number of calories in the food you eat and how much you burn when you exercise. It's a good place to get started. Note when you eat because you're bored or have had a bad day at work. For instance, I love ice cream after dinner late at night so I try to replace this with another enjoyable activity, like taking a bath or petting the bunnies. Also, try brushing your teeth and waiting 20 minutes. If you're still craving food, then you're legitimately hungry. Learn to eat only when you're hungry.
Plan out what you're going to eat the night before. Pack lunch and snacks when you go to work. I bring a healthy microwaveable meal, a turkey sandwich on wheat bread, apricots, bananas, granola bars, apples, and yogurt. The key is to never go anywhere without having some food with you. Then, you never have a chance to get famished and run to McDonald's.

Other tips:
1. 3500 calories = 1 pound
2. complex carbohydrates (think fiber) and food with high water content fill you up more without giving you all the calories (e.g. brown rice, fruit, apples, oatmeal).
3. low-fat dairy fills you up with less calories too (skim milk, low-fat yogurt, certain cheeses--mozzerella).
4. lean beef and chicken are full of great protein that keeps you full and happy, but the portion sizes should be smaller than carbohydrates (think the size of a deck of cards)
5. avoid simple sugars (sugary cereals, white bread, candy)
6. forget soda or sugary juice drinks--if you want something other than water, drink diet. Otherwise you're just wasting calories.

Hope this helps! Please let me know if you have questions.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Quote and word of the day

Quote of the Day:

"The secret of success is having the courage to begin in the first place."

Michael Pate - Clydesdale Triathlete; Copyright When Big Boys Tri 2003

Word of the Day:
Brick (n): a double workout, usually a nice long bike ride followed by a fast run of short to medium length. The purpose is to simulate race conditions of jumping off the bike and running full speed. Your legs need to get used to that rubbery feeling you have for the first mile or so after getting off the back.


"What sorts of equipment do I need?" you might ask. Surprisingly, not a lot to begin with. Start with the basics. Then, if you really like it, you can go from there.

1. Running shoes
Go to a specialty running store. The shoes won't cost anymore than if you get them on-line, and they have running experts to watch how you run and fit the shoe to your foot. This has prevented so many injuries for me. Running in the wrong shoes is a recipe for disaster. Remember to get new shoes after 300-500 miles or so (usually about 4-6 months, unless you're a marathoner). They won't look worn but the cushioning will be shot. It makes a huge difference. I got really bad knee problems from running in old shoes (only 9 months old). New shoes, happy knees. Once you find the shoe that works for you, don't change it. Your feet will thank you. Also, running socks are important. Find a non-cotton, wicking fabric; this will prevent blisters. Makes a huge difference, believe it or not.
2. Bike and helmet
You don't need a fancy bike. If you have a mountain bike, hybrid, or old commuter bike, use it. If you get more serious, you can always trade up. I will be honest; a road bike is ideal. Speed is the key, but if you're just doing it to have fun and finish, who cares? Take it to a bike shop and get a good tune-up. Get it fitted too. This will help prevent injuries. I would recommend switching the tires from the knobby thick kinds to the thin, road-like tires to help you go faster. Otherwise, your legs will be exhausted by the end. Also, put the strappy-thingies on your pedals to make your pedal-stroke more efficient. Then, you can pull up and down. Your legs will feel like they're going in circles, not pumping up and down and just pushing.
3. Bathing suit, goggles, cap, and pool access.
The pool is often the most intimidating part for new triathletes. Many local YMCAs have master's swim classes. Master's doesn't mean "expert." It simply means, "adult." These are great for learning how to swim correctly and are also a lot of fun. Check out your local pools. I have listed a good link for finding a pool in your area. Freestyle, or crawl, is the preferred stroke in a triathlon. It's the fastest and most efficient. However, you will see a lot of people doing breaststroke and backstroke. The swimming phase is commonly the most difficult for triathletes. Remember, you don't have to be an expert swimmer b/c there are 2 other phases! In your first triathlon, you will see people resting on the wall or jogging through the water. All this is perfectly allowable. You just can't get help from another person, or be pulled by a boat. But stopping and resting is perfectly acceptable. Many people do it. And believe it or not, your freestyle WILL get better so keep trying in practice!
4. Race suit
For a sprint triathlon, you won't have time to change from your bathing suit to your bike clothes in the transition. Most people were a triathlon outfit that is made for all 3 phases. I wear a tri top and tri shorts. They can go in the pool, but the shorts have a small pad to help cushion my butt on the bike. If it's cold, I pull on a shirt in the transition area after the swim.
5. Miscellaneous
Sunglasses (also good for keeping bugs out of your eyes on the bike), sunblock, visor, lots of fluids in water bottles that you put on your bike (I like Propel instead of water; it makes my tummy happier)

That's all you need to get started!!!

More on racing and training later. Hope this is a good start.

How to give it a TRI

There are many resources to help you get started. You can try my Tri Newbies link on the sidebar. There's a ton of information out there. However, here are a few suggestions.

To get started with training:
1. Take it slow.
If you've been a couch potato, don't overdo it. Your body isn't used to it. 30 minutes of activity 4-5x a week is fine for the first few weeks. You'll know when it's time to increase when it feels easy.
2. Set your goal.
Training is best if you write it down. Write down your goals and map out how you are going to do it. If your goal is to finish a sprint triathlon, plan on giving yourself 8 weeks or more if you've never done one. (A sprint is the shortest distance offered in triathlon, usually consisting of a short pool swim 300m-500m (6-10 laps in a 25m pool; 1 lap is down and back), a short bike (10-17 miles), and a short run (2-4 miles).
3. Build a plan.
Now, figure out how much time a week you have for training. You will want to build up to doing each sport 2x a week to maintain fitness and build endurance. You should not need to do more than 1 workout a day, although you may find it easier to do some days with 1 workout in the morning and 1 at night. Make sure you give yourself days off! Your body gets stronger when you rest and allow your muscles to recover.
Plan the types of workouts you will do. If you have 2 swims, 2 runs, and 2 bikes a week, figure out how you will spend your time in the pool, on the bike, or running. I usually like to mix it up. Follow hard training days with easier recovery days. For instance, if I do a distance swim and a hard run one day, I might do an easy bike the next. That way, I'm not overtaxing my body and I'm challenging it in different ways. This allows for faster recovery. There are a million types of running, swimming, and biking workouts you can do. Keep it simple to start with, and go from there.
4. Sign up for your race.
This will commit you and motivate you to stick to your plan. There's no excuses after you sign up for a race. Look on or local websites. I have listed a good link above to help you find local races in your state. There are many sources on the web to help you find local races. You can usually sign up for them on-line.

Get outside and start training! Don't forget to have fun!

Give it a Tri!

For those of you out there who are thinking, "yea, it'd be nice to exercise more and swimming, biking, and running sound fun, but I could never do a triathlon; that's insane!", don't give up so soon. It's a lot easier than you think. Anyone can do a triathlon. You don't need that much equipment, insane amounts of time to train, or a ton of talent and ability. Most important, no matter what you do, do something! Get out there and be active!

The positives are:
1) you never get bored from doing the same ole' thing.
2) you'll be training your ENTIRE body, which prevents injury and makes you strong all over
3) you'll have lower body fat, cholesterol, heart rate, and blood pressure so you'll live longer
4) you get to be outside and enjoy the great outdoors
5) It's fun!
6) If someone is ever chasing you, you'll be able to outrun them on land, sea, or bike
7) you'll have a sexy, ripped body to die for!

The negatives are:
1) You'll have more laundry.
2) Your grocery bill will rise.
3) You'll get big, ugly blisters and callouses on your feet (kiss your foot modeling career goodbye).
4) Your nails will all be chipped and cracked from the chlorine (forget nailpolish, pedicures, or manicures; waste of money).
5) Your skin will be a combination of scaly dry from the chlorine and oily break-outs from the sweat and sunblock.
6) You have to go to bed early and wake up early, even on weekends.
7) Even though you go to bed early on Saturday night, you still may end up throwing up come Sunday morning.

See? The negatives are nothing! Come on, and give it a tri! (More on how to tri later).

Thursday, March 17, 2005

quote and word of the day

"If God invented marathons to keep people from doing anything more stupid, the triathlon must have taken Him completely by surprise."
P. Z. Pearce

BONK: (verb) when an athlete completely runs out of energy, a.k.a. "hitting the wall" or "trashed". Not to be confused with a similar term used in British dialect, which can be translated into some American dialects as knocking boots, or doing the wild thing.

Because Rachel had slacked off on her training, she completely bonked in the race, pulling to the side to vomit before passing out.

The buns (hope they all get along): Oscar (left), Taz (center), Babs (right). Aren't the kids cute? Posted by Hello

well-rested and california dreamin'

I've been told my last few posts have been sort of depressing. I'll try to be more uplifting. My time spent in the cold room proved fruitful. I had gobs of purified protein. Now onto the next step. Plus, spending long time periods in cold temperatures increases your VO2 max so it might help my endurance (I'd rather run, personally). I hate cold weather.
I've been spending a lot of time sleeping, much to the dismay of the buns, who miss snuggle and story time. (I don't care if you don't believe me. They LOVE story time. Especially Lemony Snickett's "A Series of Unfortunate Events.") They've been kind of mad at me, especially for vacuuming, but at least the litterboxes are clean, and the hay is off the floor! I'm going to start bonding grumpy, big, black Oscar with my baby girl, Babs, and Tazzer-schmazer-mookie bear (aka Taz). Yes, they all have nicknames.
Anyway, I'm well rested, and it's time to start getting the triathlon training back in gear. I went for a nice, relaxing run yesterday. I have to remember not to play catch-up for the last few days. I have to maintain my running base for the 1/2 marathon in April. And, I have to start increasing the bike for the Memphis in May triathlon coming up. I'm excited about those races. I bought new shoes for the 1/2 marathon, and I'm breaking them in on shorter runs. My feet are mad at me. I love my callouses. I need to build them up to prevent blisters. Guess I'll never be a foot model. Jason and I also need to et wetsuits for the Memphis in May triathlon b/c it will be in a lake, and it will be cold. We need to practice swimming in them too. Hmmm. Another glorious expense that will make Jason happy. By the way, if any of you are thinking of getting an iPod for running, Don't. They SUCK. I'm on my second one, and it crashes every time I run. It's going back. I hate it. I'm back to using my good ole' trusty MP3 player. It SUCKS!!!
Because of the move to San Diego (hopefully in August), my big races are scheduled for early in the season this year. It's only my second season, but I'm hoping to improve. I'm moving up from sprint to Olympic distance, baby! I want to get comfortable with that before I even start thinking half-Iron-anything. I think I will end my season early this year to get well-adjusted with the move and not overwhelm myself. Then, I'll keep working on my base and maintain my fitness so as not to lose anything. If I'm ready for some smaller races that I can enter last-minute later on, then fine. But nothing big, except for the 1/2 in April and Memphis in May. Next year, I can plan more races, if I choose. I have to hold myself back; I can get a little overzealous!
I'm so excited about the move to San Diego, it's all I can think about. I've booked plane tickets, a rental car, and a hotel for the last week in April so we can find a place to live, financial aid (poor students and expensive cities aren't a good mix), and hopefully, a postdoc for me. I've read all the vacation guides on San Diego so I know all about the beaches, scuba diving, triathlon stuff, biking, running, zoo, animal park, and Sea World. The really important stuff, right?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

On the left is Lakeshore Path in Madison, WI in January (where I went to undergrad). COLD!!! This is where I feel like I am now (St. Louis).
On the right is the Mayan Rivieria, south of Cancun, Mexico. GORGEOUS!!! This is similar to where I'll be moving (San Diego). Posted by Hello

Word of the Day

famelicose: (adj); often or very hungry

The combination of triathlon training and toiling in lab left her feeling famelicose.

Quote of the Day

"I've got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom."

Thomas Carlyle

Exhausted and incoherent

I'm tired and having a problem forming complete sentences. I didn't get home from lab until 10:30 last night. Rushed back this morning, only to still be working at 7:00 pm tonight. Oh, well. Triathlon training is out the window. I can barely feed the buns. That's how it goes sometimes. However, my experiments are working well so that's good. Hours in the cold room produced gobs of purified protein. Yeah! Plus, my IPs are pleasing my P.I. She's talking about making figures for her progress report so that's very good. I'm still waiting on people to respond about post docs in San Diego. I've already heard a favorable response from one. It's happening so fast. I just want some sleep. Unfortunately, the bunnies were very loud and playful last night. Babs and Taz decided to play "Yukon Jack" on the cardboard "Cottontail Cottage" they have (as Jason put it), and Cokie rolled the garbage can all over the bathroom at 2 a.m. I just want a good night's sleep and some fairy to change litterboxes and wash clothes for me.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Word of the Day

compulsive longing for travel

Their dromomania incited them to plan several trips to California.

Quote of the Day

"I have accepted fear as a part of life, specifically the fear of change, the fear of the unknown, and I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back, turn back, you’ll die if you venture too far."

Erica Jong, U.S. author. In an essay in The Writer on Her Work, ch. 13 (1980).

A Swiftly Turning Planet

This weekend was a big turning point. 2005 is a big year for me and my husband. I'm a 5th year graduate student on the verge of setting a defense date. My husband, Jason, is a research assistant at the Federal Reserve, interested in pursuing a career in economics. He applied to several economic PhD programs across the country for the fall of 2005. I, then, convinced my committee that I should defend by then so I could move with Jason and begin my postdoc in our new location.
So the verdict is in. Jason has received notification back from the programs and we've looked into the best place for both of us. San Diego, here we come! We'll be moving there late August to begin our new lives at UCSD. It's crazy exciting and terrifying at the same time.
Now, I have to actually find a lab out there. Get interviews and convince them I'm worthy. Find a place to live that won't bankrupt us. Set a defense date!!!! (most important) What's exciting is that San Diego is a mecca for outdoorsy stuff like triathlon and everything you could imagine. Jason and I can pick up scuba diving again!
On another note, we ran in the St. Patrick's Day race this weekend and kicked butt. I took a minute off my time from last year. I was too tired the rest of the weekend to do much else.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Quote of the Day

"In the beginning, the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move."

--Douglas Adams
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Word of the Day

Gilravage (v.)-- 1. to eat and drink intemperately; to guzzle; to feast riotously; to indulge in high living; to act extravagantly in any way
2. to celebrate noisily; to go on a rampage; to romp; to indulge in noisy merry-making; to create a noisy disturbance.

After a long, hard week, Rachel gilravaged exuberantly until sunrise.

My training hours. My friends think I'm such a nerd.  Posted by Hello

Battered, bruised, and sore as hell

I think I may have overdone it the past couple of days. I feel like I've done 10 rounds. I'm sore everywhere. My ribs even hurt. Last night, I biked for an hour while watching Survivor. Quite nice. Then, I strapped on my new SwiMp3 player and jumped in the pool to swim a nice mile. It was awesome. I like swimming to music. Again, quite nice.
I was in good spirits, but tired when I got home and had to change litterboxes and vacuum the house. I was exhausted when I fell into bed but still didn't sleep well for some reason. This is very unlike me. I think I was so sore I couldn't get comfortable because it hurt to lay down. My pulse was elevated again when I woke up. I think I need a day off. I want to get fitter but I don't want to get injured or overtrain. So I'm taking a day and seeing how it goes.
Tomorrow is the St. Patrick's Day race anyway so I'll be nice and fresh for it. It's going to be cold! In the low 30s. I'm a wimp. I like it in the 50-70 range.
I also banged my elbow on the staircase railing and have a big bruise this morning. Yipee. I'm sort of a klutz.
Okay. Back to work. Lab is picking up again. Hooray!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Quote of the Day

"When you have insomnia, you're never really asleep, and you're never really awake."
--Fight Club, 1999, screenplay by Jim Uhls, director David Fincher

Word of the Day

Omphaloskepsis (n.)-- contemplating one's navel as an aid to medition.

In a deep state of omphaloskepsis, I didn't even notice when my mentor, horrified, walked in to discuss my latest results.

My ever-so-talented Picasso rendition of a triathlon. Posted by Hello

Early bird, burning lamp, and Zoolander moments

I slept like crap last night for some reason even though I was dead-tired. I have that sleep-deprivation headache today that only be cured by massive amounts of caffeine and ibuprofen. However, I was able to semi-accomplish waking up early for the first time in over a week. I'm such a habitual night owl that this has been my biggest challenge and my #1 New Year's resolution for the past two years. Of course, it helped that Jason (my husband) got up first, turned up the heat and turned on the lights, radio, and shower. I sort of stumbled head-first from the bed to the shower. But, hey, I was up by 7 and into lab by 8:30.
Our morning was slightly slowed by a few startling events. The bedroom started flickering all of a sudden, and then the floor lamp started sizzling and popping. Red sparks flew from the top. Then, everything got dark, and the lamp started smoking. Jason ran over to unplug it. We had to open windows. It stunk up the whole house! That was weird. Ghosts, or something.
I've been a little slow all day. Not a good day to start new experiments. Oh, well. Things in lab are starting to pick up, thank God. I've been having these Zoolander moments. At breakfast, I was joking about what I would leave to Jason in my will:

"Don't get your hopes up. I'm not planning on dying antime soon." --Rachel
"But, remember. I make all your meals and coffee." --Jason
"I can't eat if I'm dead, stupid!" --Rachel

Not one of my brightest moments, but at least we had a good laugh.

I'm sore today. Had a great weight-lifting session last night and awesome 4 mile treadmill run with hill and speed repeats. Injury-free, knock on wood. It feels so good after knee problems, a strained hip abductor, and a strained calf muscle. Again, knock on wood. My heart rate was elevated this morning. Hopefully, just b/c I didn't sleep well.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Quote of the day

"You hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that; it's called Everybody, and they meet at the Bar."
--Drew Carrey

word of the day

Scobberlotch: to loaf around and do nothing in particular
Justin sleeps until noon only to get up and scobberlotch around the apartment and play video games.

Gastric Distress

I was much more successful with my exercise program last night, although I have been having a hard time balancing energy levels and eating patterns. When I want to excersice, I'm at lab. When it's time to excercise, I'm hungry or taking a nap. However, I was able to steal a small nap for only an hour last night. Then, I stuffed myself with spinach-goat chesse croissants and took off for the gym.
Bad idea. I jumped on the treadmill, feeling very sorry for anyone on the elipitical behind me. I had planned on going for 4 miles, but after 3, I just couldn't hold back anymore. I did an emergency stop and ran off for the bathroom. Luckily, I felt just fine afterwards and was able to jump in the pool for a good qualilty swim session.
Gastric distress has hit me more than a few times. On a treadmill, it's not such a big deal. In the middle of Forest Park on a 10 mile run, very big deal. There has been more than one incident where I've had to dash off and use a hidden tree or bush. My husband has a new saying now, "Does Rachel shit in the woods?" Ha ha. Very funny. Anyway, I have discovered a new runninng invention--the pre-emptive Immodium, taken about 20 minutes before a long or intense run. An absolute requirement before any big race. Or, I could just not eat before I run, but I get so hungry!
Everything else on the homefront is good. Cokie has forgiven me for clipping his nails last week and did 5 excited binkies (athletic leaps and bucks in the air) for his lettuce and banana this morning. The new, replaced iPod hasn't broken down again...yet. I'm up to 2 gigs of songs on it. 38 more gigs to fill. Lots of strange dreams last night, some about 20 lb raccoons chasing bunnies, but I don't need to get into that.
I'm excited and ready for the 5 mile St. Patrick's Day Race this Saturday. A lot of my friends are doing it. It should be a blast. And chilly. There's free beer at the end. Just what a runner wants with a H.R. of 180 gasping for air at the end of a race.
I should get back to work if I ever want to graduate. Luckily, things are picking up here so I won't be going out of my mind with boredom (a very rare occurrence, but it drives me just as crazy as having too much to do for some reason...odd).

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

A great, big adipocyte (what I'm turning into). Posted by Hello

Feeling like a great, big adipocyte

I went home last night with good intentions. I was going to bike and then go to the gym as the early crowd thinned out and jump in the pool. I was full of energy when I stepped in the house. I quickly did my evening chores, fed the bunnies, did clothes, went through the mail. Then, I had some coffee and a light pre-workout snack, some rice and veggies.
Afterwards, the toil of a long day at lab trying to invent things to do during another slow week and the postprandial (good word of the day) fatigue set in. I decided to lie down on the couch, just for a minute. Before I knew it, the clock said 9 pm, and my disposable contacts were fused to my eyeballs. I have to break the habit of these evening naps. The rest of the evening consisted of playing with the buns and putting more songs on my iPod, which I have up and running again. (We'll see if it can actually run during a run). And I still couldn't resist a great, big Rocky Road sundae, sprinkled with chocolate chips and dripping Hershey's syrup, topped with 3 cherries. It was so good. At least it was Grand Light and not just Grand.
Chock it all up to that time of the month. It always seem harder to resist the chocolate temptation about now. I feel so bloated. I think I will turn into an adipocyte. Then I can do experiments on myself. Do you think I will be able to graduate early with this strategy?

Monday, March 07, 2005

Two of my snuggly buns, Taz and Babs. Posted by Hello

Long Run

I was pretty successful in sticking to my workout plans this weekend thanks to gorgeous weather that would have put me to shame if I had chosen to stay inside and sloth on the couch. Sunday we went on a 10 mile run. I wasn't sure if I could do it, and I was pretty ragged by the end, but I did it! I was able to maintain about 9 minute miles on average, better than I felt like I was doing. I wore my heart rate monitor and kept my pulse (or tried to) below 170 the whole time, averaging about 160. It felt comfortable. Plus, my iPod crapped out on me at mile 2 so I had to go without music for most of it. Good training for race day. I was fine.
I've been pretty slack on the swimming. My SwiMp3 player is coming today so that will be great incentive to get in the pool more. I can't wait. I don't feel sore today and I'm not injured! That makes me happy. I iced both legs for 20 minutes after yesterday's run. That seemed to help a lot.
As far as a bunny update (not triathlon related--but hey, they're cute), Paddy Bear seems to enjoy Lemony Snickett's tales of "A series of unfortunate events." I got to volunteer at the main foster bunny house on Saturday and clean out the baby bunny cages. 6 babies plus Mom makes 7. They are SO disgustingly cute. And just flat out disgustingly dirty too. But they're fun to play with. It's nice to come home to a clean house with my snuggly buns that are litter-box trained.

Last winter with my animal friends George, Babs, and Taz Posted by Hello

Friday, March 04, 2005

first post

Trying to stick to my work-out plan has become increasingly more difficult. After 3 pieces of delicious chocolate cake at work, I feel sick to my stomach and am vowing never to eat again. That's what I get for denying myself of chocolate for a week. I'm trying to get up the motivation to go for a short run but it's all I can do to not put my head down on the desk and take a postpranadial nap. That fact that I work in a lab that studies obesity and insulin resistance doesn't temper my guilt either. Oh, well.
I'm very excited about the 1/2 marathon at the beginning of April for which I'm training. The first one I did was on Halloween of last year. An overzealous training plan strained my left hip abductor 3 weeks before race day. I did the race anyway, barely. I'm hoping this time will be better. My goal is to feel good running it without being injured. So far, so good; knock on wood.
I'm also excited about the Memphis in May triathlon. It will be my first Olympic distance triathlon. Swimming a mile non-stop in a lake? We'll see. At least I won't have to worry about flip-turns.
Meanwhile, at home, the house is overrun with bunnies. My obsessive-compulsive tendencies keep it clean despite their attempts to destroy my efforts. They are litter-box trained at least. I also think my doctor would approve--they're great at destressing and lowering my blood pressure at the end of the day. My bunnies, Babs and Taz, use me as a jungle-gym when I lay down. My 2 foster bunnies, Oscar and Paddington, love story-time before bedtime. Yes, they are like my children. I'm starting to introduce Oscar to Babs and Taz to see if they will get along. It took 6 months for Babs and Taz to bond so we'll see. I'll have to be extra careful since Oscar is 10 lbs. and Babs and Taz are only 5 and 4, respectively.