Saturday, April 30, 2005

San Diego report

I'm baaaaack. Got in last night. Left 70 degree and sunny weather to come home to 40s and rainy. Figures. I'm very disoriented and oddly relaxed. It's 2 hours earlier in San Diego and fits my body perfectly since I'm a night-owl. Not so good for coming back to St. Louis though. Slept until 11:30 (late, even for me) and took a nap at 6. It's going to be hard getting back to a routine.
The interviews were awesome. A great experience. I loved talking to people and being the center of attention. It just suits my personality very well. Can I just get paid to interview? I also liked talking science, getting new ideas, and seeing other labs. It was very exciting for me. I really do love my career. Anyway, I have my top 2 choices. I just hope they want me. I was also given two offers, which was nice. It was an awesome experience.
We also figured out apartments, got on some waiting lists, and figured out how much we could get with a student loan. Very productive trip. Pretty busy. Not a vacation at all but I can enjoy San Diego once I move there. Pretty much, we would eat, go to interviews, eat, and sleep.
San Diego was la la land. Weather was perfect. Everything was blooming. Little animals were everywhere. We did get to go for a verrry nice run after my best, most invigorating, number one pick interview. We ran up to Torrey Pines Park, home of a species of pine tree that only grows in two places in the world. It was SO gorgeous. We saw pelicans. Ocean was everywhere. We ran down to the beach and ran on the packed sand back to our hotel. I kept stopping to pick up sand dollars and clam shells. We ran past little birds and sandpipers hunting for tiny morsels as the tide came in. We had to wade through the water at one point where it ran into a little tide pool. I took off my shoes and socks and ran in with Jason following, more hesistantly behind. The shock of the cold water took my breath away when it first hit me. Then, I got used to it, and it felt very refreshing. The water came up to my waist. I felt like just floating away. But, I waded through, put my shoes back on, and kept on running. I loved the spontaneity of it.
When we were done with the run, I waded back into the water. It's overpowering and intoxicating, beckoning me. The waves were crashing in. I found a spot clear of surfers to avoid being run over. The surfers were amazing, twisting and flipping about on top of the waves as if they had wings. How do they keep so steady on an ever-changing surface? I loved the feel of the cold water crashing against me. I wanted to dive in to see if I could still get out past the breakers like I had learned as a kid. You have to time the waves perfectly, and dive under each wave as it comes in, then swim like mad with the undertow to let it pull you out. But this time, I braced myself against the undertow, which pulled mightily against me after each frothy wave retreated. It was really something.
Back to reality. Back to lab and the grind. Back to exercise. We were going to do a sprint triathlon this weekend, but we're totally trashed. We need to rest. I don't know what I was thinking. I, again, overestimated what I could do. Thinking I could get off the plane, and then leave for a triathlon 2 hours away the very next day. No, thanks.
I need to begin a routine again. Gotta work off the buddha belly that's emerging. I blame it on the increased cortisol. It's so hard with everything changing. I'm a little anxious. My dreams are full of potential things to forget and lab things to do. I can't wait to get back to lab and get everything in order. Committee meeting in 10 days. They're going to tell me when I can graduate. I should be nervous but I'm not. Not after what I've just been through.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

San Diego--so far

It's been a few days since I've posted but it's been hard to find internet access with my computer in the hotel I'm in. San Diego is great. It's not exactly a vacation but it's still fun. My first interview went great. My talk was smooth, and I loved the lab. Everyone was friendly and enthusiastic. We've been looking for apartments, and it's exhausting. It's hard moving from a condo to an apartment. I'm going to miss the yard and little things like washing clothes for free. Apartments are astronomical and condos are just not even worth considering. I think we'll be able to find a nice, little place near campus so that's good.

The hotel is nice, within walking distance of Del Mar. It's such a neat, little beach town. It reminds me of Carmel. San Diego is one of the fittest cities in the nation (contrast to St. Louis). Fitness clubs and swimming pools everywhere, and everyone is outside running, biking, swimming, suba diving, and surfing. It's incredible. It's sunny and mid-60s. It's la-la land. People are friendly and everyone is attractive with cute little outfits. Not as much attitude as I would have predicted. I'm impressed. And the food! Oh, my God, the food. And the wine. I think I may start drinking again! The wines and sourdough bread and avocados and, I could go on, it's all incredible. I'm going to be happy here.

It's going to be hard not to play too much. I need to focus on lab when I come. I am spending all my free time reading up on labs for the week and practicing for my interview. Here we go. This week is going to be ridiculously exhausting. Exercising right now has to wait until I've procured the important things for the future. As soon as I get a handle on things, it'll come. It's not bad to take a break every now and then to let your body recharge. Sometimes you just can't help it.

Another thing about San Diego--it doesn't rain. There were like 2 drops yesterday and people freaked out. The weatherman said it would rain all weekend; I guess he meant there would be a drizzle for half-an-hour a day. It's weird. People here are spoiled. Do I ever have to come back to St. Louis. Well, the bunnies are waiting. Oh, and I have this pesky thing called a Ph.D. to finish.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Best moment of the day

Last night, when I got home at 1:30 a.m., my little Taz (bunny) was waiting downstairs for me. He looked worried. He was very glad to see me and when I bent down to pet him, he licked my nose for several minutes to comfort me.

Countdown to San Diego

Less than 24 hours until my plane leaves. It's crunch time. Join me and witness this crazy path I'm on to see who wins: Rachel...or....the adipocytes. I'm loopy b/c I was in lab until 1 am last night. That's 14 hours straight. Whew. Those experiments better get me a Nature paper! Anyway, I'm surviving. Lots do do. More to come, including Rachel's essential travel list, exercise and travel, and hopefully crazy San Diego eyewitness updates.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Fighting the insanity

I'm going out of my mind. Stuck in lab again. Is it worth it? Will the experiment work? All for what? So I can go to San Diego and begin another whirlwind? Why do I do this to myself? I just fell asleep at my desk. I'm hungry and sick of my talk and sick of reading papers and sick of doing repeat experiments that never show the same thing twice, and I just want to have a day off.
My body feels like mush. I want to recharge. I was going to run today but never had the chance. I'm hoping to jump on the bike trainer tonight. God, I need to for my peace of mind. I need to muster up the energy. I'm so anxious about the trip, it's exhausting me.
Time keeps surging ahead, and the more I try to slow it down, the more it rushes out of control like pulling on the reins of a run-away horse. I can't remember the last time things seemed slow. I just keep trying to reach the proverbial finish line (these interviews; not death) before I literally break down. It's happened before. I will work myself into an illness. My body will finally make myself stop. I'll get some weird, devastating stomach bug and end up over the toilet for 3 days and be 10 pounds lighter. It's happened before. I can't afford to lose 10 pounds.
I'd like routine. Balance. To be able to workout again regularly. See what happens when I don't work out for a few days? It feeds my insanity. I think I'll be here well past midnight tonight. Better fill up the coffee pot. It's going to be a long one. I miss the buns.

funny hee hee Posted by Hello

Weird dream last night

I promise I will get back to the subject of triathloning soon enough. But I do other things too. I had this very powerful dream last night, and I was wondering if any of you had any impressions on what it might mean. I have weird dreams every night, but this one really affected me.

I start out as a man fighting this war with a group of friends in a mystical, Dungeons & Dragons (which I've never played, but you get the picture) setting. Every time I help win a battle, I get a reward. The size of the reward depends on how much I contributed to winning the battle. We are constantly being chased and always on guard, b/c traps and deceit are around every corner. Trust no one. After winning a particularly big battle, we are celebrating at a tavern, and this squat, ugly man hands me my reward, a gift certificate for one night with a well-known prostitute. I smell a trap and am very suspicious but decide to check it out.
She is in this dark house like a cabin, and I go up the stairs to this room. She's blond in a white dress and gorgeous but obviously way too good for her line of work. We start to kiss but she senses I'm a decent guy and doesn't want to go through with it. I'm a respectful person so we end up just talking, and then, she gets upset for some reason (I think she's upset about her situation) and asks me to leave. So I do, and then I get teased by the group I fight with for not going "all the way" and for wanting to be in a relationship with her.
I get mad and leave the group (all the while there's this war going on). Then the dream shifts, and I turn back into myself (a woman). I go back to the house where the prostitute lives but now she is this very cute man, and we begin an alliance. We are fleeing from an army who is pursuing us. I realize I can bounce very high and escape by bouncing from tree to tree.
I meet back with my ally, and now we are in a romantic relationship. The army dressed in uniform arrives and begins storming the house but they are after me specifically. I reassure the guy and turn into a crow much to his astonishment. I then fly away and act as a spy. I can also swoop down and peck the eyes out of attackers, taking them by surprise. I feel a great sense of power by shapeshifting to a crow and everyone has a new sense of respect for me b/c for some reason, they can't shapeshift.
The whol time there is this gray wolf in the shadows, on the prowl, hunting. I am afraid of him but he isn't after me; he is a friend. I am very respectful of him. I sense he may be protecting me but he is in the distance.

Overall, it was a very weird dream but I woke up feeling very powerful and full of magic, if that makes any sense. Does anyone have any clue what it means?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Things that I love

Okay, I have a hate list so I'd thought I'd be fair and create a love list. These are the odd things I love, not the obvious things, like horses, bunnies, chocolate, rainbows, and butterflies.

1. The smell of B-Me (beta-mercaptoethanol)--a strong mix of sulfur and onions.
(Everyone else hates it. I guess it kind of smells like farts (I don't like that smell). I have a very sensitive sense of smell too so I don't know why I like it. I just do.)

2. Picking my split ends. It's very entertaining.

3. Long car trips. Very relaxing.

4a. Rain. Also very relaxing.
4b. Thunderstorms. The louder and brighter, the better. Very exciting.

5. My yellow couch with pink flowers on it.
(I don't care that everyone else hates the fabric. I love it. Scary thing is that my mom picked the same fabric for her curtains, and I didn't even know until later. I guess all daughters turn into their mothers eventually.)

6. Cleaning. Especially on New Year's Eve.
(I find it very relaxing and refreshing. I feel like I'm accomplishing something. I tried to spring clean in March but I couldn't b/c I had just done it a few months ago, and there was nothing to do. I was actually disappointed.)

7. Hot, naked women.
Oh, God, did I just say that? Oops. I'm going to get in trouble for that one.

8. Snakes
I love all animals whether they're cute and cuddly or cold and slimy. They're all cute to me.

9. Raw Oysters
They are soooooooo good. However, they made me sick 4x last year (stomach flu). I later found out they are often contaminated with the Norwalk virus, explaining all the stomach flus I got last year. Although it was a great weight-loss plan, and I love oysters, no thanks. I gave them up.

10. Steaming hot showers
What can I say? I love heat and hate cold. I like the water so hot that my skin turns bright red.

11. The number 3.
Very symmetrical. The only odd number that easily balances.

12. Working myself to physical exhasution.
Nothing feels better.

13. Being the center of attention.

Hot female athlete of the week

Logan Tom--US Olympic volleyball player; What a goddess. Posted by Hello

Sex as Exercise?

Well, I put up a new poll for the week--more G rated. I guess the jury is in. Sex is exercise. I guess that's an incentive for all of us to get out there and exercise!

P.S. Better to exercise with a partner.
P.P.S. Remember, the longer the exercise, the more calories burned. ;)

So sick of lab

I'm still in lab. It's torture. My brain hurts. But I'm so anxious about these interviews all I can do is go to lab and work. And work. And work. So here I've been until 10 pm every night for the past 7 days. I'm getting exciting results (potentially) that's driving the insanity further. That's good. My job talk feels more practiced too. Ugh. I'll be glad when all this is over and my life returns to normal.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

George is my Indian pony for Halloween 1999. Posted by Hello

4 months ago

4 months ago, I put George down. I feel like I killed him 4 months ago. Every night since then, I have been plagued by guilt-laden dreams of killing him. Sometimes they start out happy. He is galloping around in a green pasture, pain-free. But in the end, he always has to die, and it's usually my fault. I have to kill him. And it always seems unjust. I kill him because he's indispensable, and there are other George's, or becuase even though he's fine now, he will die eventually anyway so I rob him of life.
I had one dream that I can remember where he was happy and whole throughout the whole thing. Sometimes in my dreams, I'm looking back in retrospect, and I realize if I had only taken him home with me and kept him in the house, he would have been okay. In my dreams, it seems like killing him was a huge mistake, and a veil has been lifted from my eyes, and all of a sudden I can clearly see my mistake. I feel stupid for not having realized it all along.
In reality, I don't know what to think. I have this dreaded guilt buried in the pit of my stomach, and I don't know how to get rid of it. I just want to hear him neigh for me one more time. I just want to rub his soft velvety nose again and let him lick my hand. I want to stroke his ears and stratch the itchy place on his neck one more time. I just want to know that I did the right thing, and that he is in a better place now. I wish he could communicate with me. I guess I'm asking for too much.
My horses are all gone now. My George is gone. A piece of me is missing. And I'm moving on. Quickly. And there's nothing I can do about it but accept it. Without horses, I am not myself. What happens when you die? George was a such a special soul.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Not enough time in the day

As usual, I've bitten off more than I can chew and overestimated how much I can do. I forget that there are only 24 hours in a day. I've been in lab about 12 hours a day for 2 weeks now. I'm drained of energy when I come home. Here it is Saturday, and I'm in lab. Saturday night, excuse me. The rest of the day, I volunteered for the House Rabbit Society and cleaned bunny cages.
Right now, my career is top priority. I need to do my best at these interviews. I leave for San Diego Thursday. 5 interviews, one right after the other. I've never done anything like this before. I'm terrified. I have a lot of preparation to do. Research the labs, prepare questions, predict questions, prepare a fluid talk, and do it for 5 very different labs.
At the same time, I have a very important, probably the most important, committee meeting on the 10th of May. They will tell me if I can defend in time to move with Jason to San Diego. Or, if I have to wait until later in the fall and stay in St. Louis while Jason begins his graduate program in San Diego. Or, if they have no fucking clue when I'm ever going to graduate. So, I have to prepare that talk, convince them I should go in August, and do as much goddamn possible research as I can between now and then to wow them with all my data. And pray that the adipocytes cooperate. The bastards. Differentiate! Differentiate! Please! I'll feed you extra serum. Anything. Anything.
So, my triathlon training has taken a backseat for now. God, my body is craving a good workout session. I want to be achy and sore and exhausted. Physically exhausted. I hate the achy and mental exhaustion. There's just not enough time in the day for everything.
All I can do is the best I can. I will do what I can. If I'm not in the shape I was in last summer, that's okay (and I'm not). I feel myself slipping away, and I have to let it go. I am confident I will get it all back and more once everything settles down into a pattern again. I have to be patient and fight this overwhelming anxiety that's been plaguing me; it exhausts me needlessly.
I'm worried about the triathlons I'm doing this season. My goal is just to finish and not die in the process. I won't be as strong as last year and I have to accept that. It's SO hard because I know I can be better. I'm not used to doing something at less than 100%. I try so hard to have my cake and eat it too; I hate picking and choosing. But I will have my cake and eat it too in the end. You'll see. Give it time.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Word and Quote of the Day

Phonophobia - a phobia of phone calls, or conversations or noises, which are perceived as stressful

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Way to go, Jason! Posted by Hello

Here I am running the Saint Louis 1/2 Marathon (5276). The arch is a nice touch. Posted by Hello

List of Random Things I Hate

Because I'm so good at hating:

1. People who take the elevator to go DOWN 1 floor. Argh!
2. My alarm clock.
3. Slow drivers (cliche)
4. Bicyclists who don't stop at red lights (they make it harder for the rest of us who choose to follow the rules).
5. Bush (I fear prosecution so this is number 5, but in reality it's #1.)
6. Guns
7. Stupid people
8. Stupid people with guns
9. The South (Sorry, I'm just being honest.)
10. Short days and cold winters
11. Cold weather
12. Cell culture
13. 3T3L1 adipocytes
14. St. Louis
15. Olives
16. Cooking
17. Answering the phone
18. Talking to strangers, esp. on the phone (I'm weird, okay?)
19. S.U.Vs
20. Soccer moms

Me at the Silicon Valley 1/2 Marathon (in October). I know it's pixelated but I'm not buying the stupid things so this is what I'm stuck with. You get the idea. Besides, I look like a dork. Not my best picture. Coming soon! Pictures of me at the St. Louis 1/2 Marathon (hopefully looking much better).  Posted by Hello

Anxiety and other random thoughts

Feelings of guilt under control. Feelings of anxiety? Well, working on it. I didn't sleep so well last night. Kept thinking about all I have to do, waiting for the alarm clock to go off. I HATE the alarm clock. I try to wake up before it goes off (at least to turn it off before rolling over and going back to sleep). I'm not a morning person.
But today, I was successful. Woke up before 7 and worked out. Did a good weight lifting session. I'm trying to work off the pudge that snuck up in my middle (I see it even if others don't). The buns came down and played with me while I worked out. They're so cute. They think I woke up early just for them. A little distracting though. Afterwards, they even followed me back upstairs to keep me company while I changed for lab.
Anyway, I'm mad I didn't do 2 workouts last night but I didn't get home until 9:30. After dinner, I was exhausted. I'm trying to make up for it by doing 3 today (don't do this; it's bad). You're not supposed to make up time for missed workouts but I don't listen to common sense.
I gave a practice job talk to the lab today. It felt really rough, but everyone was very supportive and gave me useful comments. I'm so nervous. I leave 1 week from today for 5 interviews in San Diego. I lied. I'm not nervous. I'm terrified. What's the worst that could happen? Lots of things. I could break down and start crying. I could throw up on the P.I. I could pee my pants. I'll try not to think about those things. Now, I'm exhausted after the adrenaline crash I experienced after giving the talk. Post-traumatic talk syndrome (P.T.T.S.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Confessions of guilt

I have to confess that I'm far from perfect. The problem is, I expect myself to be perfect. (And my sister thinks she's OCD). I took Monday and Tuesday off, and I feel overwhelmingly guilty about it. But when I got home, it felt so good just to lie down with the bunnies and watch t.v. So I did. And I've been eating ice cream sundaes (Rocky Road sprinkled with semi-sweet chocolate chips) and sometimes having several Pepperidge Farm cookies (double chocolate Milanos) on the same day. Then I feel guilty. When don't I feel guilty?
Problem is, no one seems to think it's important that I restrict sweets from my diet, or worry about my weight, my body, or how much I exercise. And I know I don't need to and some other people do; that's just genetics. But I do anyway. Sometimes I obsess. That's just me.
I've gotten a whole lot better since I've shifted my goals away from body image and more towards body function (races and triathlons). It's made me happier. But, like I said, I'm not perfect. There are days when I have body image issues and want to count every calorie. There are days when I push myself too hard for the wrong reasons. Sometimes, I expect myself to do 2-3 workouts/day 6 days/week. I feel like a failure if I don't do 3 runs, 3 bikes, 3 swims, and 2 workouts, plus stretching, plus bunny care, plus lab stuff (which always comes first). It's hard not to want to do everything all in one day.
For some reason, running cures all. I stopped what I was doing in lab (I have a ton to do so I'm in late tonight) and went for a run. Perfect weather (low 60s). Enough to be a little chilly in the beginning and not overheat once I got going. I just poured it out. Every inch of my body focused on go, go, go...speed, speed, speed. 4 miles of a trance-like state where I felt like I was flying. My muscles pounding on the ground. My lungs heaving, panting, gasping for air. I ran and then sprinted until I was red in the face. People gave me a curious look as I ran by, and I totally didn't care. Now, I feel calm. The anxiety is gone. I feel purged. That's what running can do for me.

A bunch of adipocytes. (what Rachel feels like today) Posted by Hello

Hot female athletes of the week

Olympic athletes: Logan Tom--volleyball player; Amanda Beard--swimmer; Haley Cope--swimmer; Jenny Adams--long jump; Amy Acuff--high jump Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

1/2 marathon course i did. Posted by Hello

Periodization continued...

I can't believe how good I feel today. I'm recovering faster and faster. I'm barely sore. Just a little calf pain. Knees feel fine. Didn't hurt at all to get down the stairs. I took yesterday off just in case but I'm ready to plunge back into it today.
I am currently restructuring my workout schedule to start my next cycle (see today's word--periodization). I am excited about the change and looking forward to it. I'm chomping at the bit. I can't wait to put the work in and go to bed exhausted and sore at night. I love that feeling. I guess this is a sign that I'm well rested. I feel go..go...go. All systems go.
I need to get my body geared up for the triathlons coming up. There are 3: Race for Sight May 1st, Memphis in May (biggest race) May 22, and Rec Plex Tri June 19th. I can't wait. The bike is the longest segment so it should be emphasized the most. I'm getting ready to ramp up the bike, increase the swim intensity, and decrease the running. Up the weight lifting since it's pretty important for swimming and biking.
It's hard not to run as much. If you haven't noticed, the run is my favorite. It's so simple. Put your shoes on and go. Plus, it's the easiest for me. I'm long and lean so I'm built for running. I don't have real muscular legs so I have to work hard to build power on the bike. I don't have real muscular shoulders and I lack the extra fat most good female swimmers have for buoyancy. I'm a pretty good swimmer and an intense biker, but I need to push it. I'll get there. I'm proud of the muscle I do have. I had to work really hard for it.
No signs of overtraining or burn-out for last season. I'm really learning the art of less is more.

Word and Quote of the Day

Word of the Day:
the process of varying a training program at regular time intervals to bring about optimal gains in physical performance; training is divided into segments of time, or periods, annually or in mixed phases over the course of a yearly cycle or in mixed phases of 8 to 12 weeks.
Planning periods or cycles within an overall program promotes long-term training and performance including variations in training specificity, intensity, and volume.
Basically, it prevents boredom, overtraining, and plateaus so you are always challenging your body.

During the off-season, most triathletes plan their periodization for the next year.


"I TRI; therefore, I am."

More healthy, yummy foods

I forgot a few. Believe it or not, some foods that have been demonized are deceivingly good for you. Here are some that I can remember:

1. white rice--actually contains more folate than brown and is fairly low on calories and quite filling; mix with brown rice for more fiber

2. popcorn (air popped)--it's the movie popcorn that's bad b/c it's loaded with butter and oil; homemade air-popped corn is filling, low-cal., and full of nutrients, fiber, and complex carbs.

3. baked potato--demonized because of it's close relative the french fry, the baked potato is low cal and very filling. Eat the skin--it packs the most bang for the buck. Go light on the butter and skip the toppings.

4. avocado--loaded with good-for-you fats, use it as a substitute for mayo on sandwiches

Monday, April 11, 2005

My favorite healthy foods for the week

I go through phases of what I crave (I believe it's my body telling me what I need) but one thing never changes; I love to eat. So I eat well. It makes my body feel good when I fuel it well. My grocery bill is outrageous but, hey, food is important.

1. sushi--full of omega-3-fatty acids; the kind that prevent heart disease; also great protein and low calories (don't like raw fish? try broiled salmon--another favorite; baste it lightly in terriyaki sauce for more flavor)

2. eggs--only 70 calories a pop, these guys are filling and chock-full of protein; eat them scrambled, boiled, sunny-side up, or in an omelet

3. spinach (spinach + eggs = delicious omelet)--extremely healthy and delicious! great as a salad, steamed, boiled, or on a sandwich; Popeye was right; spinach makes you strong. Plus, it's full of calcium, folate, and other great vitamins (and only 45 calories a cup!)

4. bananas--filling and full of potassium and magnesium; these fruits are great for your heart and perfect for a pre-workout boost; they're easy to digest so you can literally eat and run to stave off exercise-induced hunger

5. oatmeal--I love the instant Quaker maple brown sugar oatmeal in the morning; full of soluble fiber; it keeps me full all morning

6. skim milk--delicious and great for the bones. Calcium and protein anyone? I especially love skim lattes (the caffeine gives me a great boost for workouts). Between Jason and me, we go through 2 gallons a week. We've already downed a half-gallon since Saturday.

7. low-fat yogurt--an awesome snack and also a great source of calcium, especially for those of you who are lactose-intolerant. The acidophilus culture in the yogurt helps digest the lactose and may also prevent indigestion.

8. lean beef--my weakness. only 1 more gram of fat than chicken, it's not as bad as people think. Plus, it has all the iron and protein hard-core exercisers need to replenish their systems. remember, one serving is the size of a deck of cards.

9. Terriyaki sauce and frozen veggies--a great way to get your veggies and maintain taste. Add some rice. It's soooo good.

10. other. Variety is important so mix it up and try new things. Nothing should be on the "forbidden" list. I love chocolate so I make room for some every other day. Almonds make a great snack with good-for-you fats, vitamins and protein. I also love granola bars for a pre-workout snack. I snack all day long so I'm never starving. It's when I get starved that I make bad food decisions. Have fun, and eat up!

Quote and Word of the Day

"Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb. "

Sir Winston Churchill

PR--Personal record. Few of us will ever set a world or national record, but anybody can establish a PR. Any time you've recorded a time over any distance (even odd distances in training), it becomes your PR. Every time you run that course or distance, you will have an opportunity to better that PR. Going after PRs can be fun; most important, it can be motivational.

When Rachel ran the 1/2 marathon on Sunday, she set a new PR.

Race Report

All I can say is, when's the next one? It was awesome. So much better than I imagined. Race conditions were perfect. We lined up at 7:00 a.m., all 10,000 of us. The sun had just risen. It started in the low 60s and steadily progressed to the low 70s by the time I finished. A fine haze covered the sun, blocking its intense rays. A light breeze cooled my face.
After the gun fired, we had to wait at least 5 minutes before we could begin moving forward, slowly, crawling, inching along with the masses. Soon, we were all jogging. Jason and I darted in and out, trying to find a spot where we could pace.
Everyone was energetic and in good spirits at the beginning. Screams and shouts of enthusiasm reverberated off the walls as we ran through tunnels and under bridges. The echoing hoots and hollers reminded me of a roller coaster ride. I smiled but remained quiet. I needed to conserve energy.
We funneled through the gates of the brewery, ran past the plant, past the stables. The stale, thick acrid-sweet smell of brewer's yeast stung my nostrils. I wrinkled my nose. Not what I wanted to be smelling at that moment. A bit nauseating.
Then we tromped back toward the Arch. I felt like I was on a tour of St. Louis. Morale was high and we chatted with strangers as we ran.
Then we began the long, slow ascent up Market. Jason and I had trained up Skinker and Forsyth so we were prepared. My legs welcomed the change of terrain. Once Market turned to Forest Park, we seemed to go on that road forever. We passed our house and started nearing the hospital where the lab is. The masses had spread out and grown a little more quiet. Crowds on the sides cheered us on.
Then, we turned and headed back, and I felt a wave of euphoria pass through me. Mile 10, and I felt great. I had a runner's high. I fell into a pace, took a swig of Propel and marched onwards. I picked up the pace. Mile 12 flew by. 1 more mile. I still felt good. My knees were hurting, but I had felt this before and easily ignored it. Consciously, I picked my knees up a little higher to avoid the runner's fatigued shuffle.
That last mile dragged on forever. Then I saw the finish looming ahead, and I gave it all I got. I crossed the finish line in good time, shaving a minute off my previous time. Plus, I felt strong and happy. I could have run farther. It was awesome. I enjoyed the post-race euphoric bliss for the rest of the afternoon.
It's been a little hard to get down the stairs but I still feel relaxed. I feel like I've turned a new page. I loved that run. There was nothing else I was supposed to do at that moment but run. It was so pure. I couldn't think about anything else, not the future and San Diego, nor what I hadn't done in lab or in the gym the previous week. None of it mattered. Nothing mattered except that moment and each step and enjoying the run. So primal. Instances of life molded together to reach a finish line.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Think of me on race day. Posted by Hello

Word and Quote of the Day

"The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."
--Thomas Paine

volant • \VOH-lunt\ • adjective
1 : having the wings extended as if in flight -- used of a heraldic bird
2 : flying or capable of flying
3 : quick, nimble

She hoped her legs would be steady and volant on Sunday in order to carry her swiftly over the 13.2 mile run.

Stressed out

This week has been terrible. I feel so overwhelmed with all the different things in my life. I haven't been able to exercise, and I'm freaking out. Normally, exercise is what keeps me sane and calm. But after working 12-14 hour days and getting home at 9 or 11 p.m. from lab every day, I'm wasted.
And the few days I've been getting home at 6, I nap until 8, wake up, eat, take another nap until 11, tuck the bunnies in, and go to bed. I then sleep for 10 hours straight. What's up with that? Mono? No. Simple exhaustion.
I guess I should be happy. We're moving to San Diego. I have 5 interviews, one of which I know will be the right lab for me. My next committee meeting is set, after which, hopefully, I'll know when I'm defending. My mentor seems to be pleased with me overall, at least, today. She tends to be quite moody. My research is going well, at least, this week. Again, quite moody. Things are moving forward.
But I'm freaked out. Things are moving too fast, and I don't know how I'll be able to get it all done. 5 interviews in 7 days seems like a lot. Then, a committee meeting 10 days later. With an overnight triathlon (the one thing I'm looking forward to), squeezed in between.
What if I bomb the interviews (unlikely, I can reason)? What if we can't find a place to live? What committee tells me they don't know when I will finish and that we need to meet again in August to decide when it will be (my worst fear; just tell me August or December; I need to know a DATE). I hate this lack of control. What if my research doesn't go as planned (happens all the time) and things take much longer, and I don't have much to say to my committee in my progress report? What if all the work I've done to making my body awesome goes to shit, and I lose all my confidence, and turn into a big, amorphous blob?
God, I have a 1/2 marathon this Sunday, and I don't feel ready at all. I need to feel Raargh! I feel less then Mew. I have major pre-race jitters. I feel like curling up in a ball. When I woke up this morning, I didn't even know where to start with everything I have to do. Solution? I rolled over and went back to sleep.
All I can say is I'll be happy when May 10th is over.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

St. Louis is "Number 1"

I can't help it. I have to vent a little. Now that I'll be leaving soon. Here's a list to illustrate how St. Louis wins many national contests:

1. unsafest city
St. Louis was #1 for the most unsafe city (city with the most crime) in the nation for 2002. It's been competing with Detroit in subsequent years, and it was a close game, but it seems the Detroit criminals won by a hair. St. Louis has 150.2 crimes/1000 capita in a city of only 350,336 people. This includes murders, rapes, assaults, and muggings. Fun, fun.

2. worst in health and fitness
Two independent publications ranked St. Louis as the worst for a) men's health and fitness (Men's Health) out of 101 cities and b) women's health (Self) out of 200 cities. These studies were based on number of people that exercise, availability of parks and health clubs, safety, health insurance, pollution, and obesity rates. Yea! Go us! We're the most unfit!

3. Along the lines of health and fitness, St. Louis is one of the fattest cities in the nation, in the top 5.

4. Also, St. Louis has a reputation for being known as the "syphilis capital of the nation." It also leads the U.S. in gonnorrhea. Now that's a hard competition to win.

5. Pollution/Allergies
St. Louis also ranks among the nation's top 25 worst cities for pollen (Multidate/SDI) and the nation's top 20 for worst air quality due to pollution (Environmental Defense). It's also one of the nation's worst for environmental toxicity. In addition, it ranks number 13 in the nation for worst diesel emissions (Clean Air Task Force). Because of this, it is one of the nation's worst places to live for asthmatics.

6. The local jurisdiction of St. Louis ranks among the worst in the nation for legal fairness.

7. Finally, (no surprise here) St. Louis ranks among the nation's worst rates for population loss among large U.S. cities (12%) as evidenced by the many abandoned, falling down buildings littering the streets of the city. Hey, I want to leave too!

Viva St. Louis!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Accomplishment of a near-perfect week: it's never enough

Well, I came very close to accomplishing a perfect week. Working out that is. I'm discovering that there really are only 24 hours in a day, no matter how hard I try to extend it. Focus on one thing, and something else gives. However, I am following some sort of a routine that is giving me comfort, and I feel like I'm on track.
Weekly report: 3 runs (22 miles total), 2 swims, 2 bikes, and 2 weight lifting sessions. Not totally perfect, but pretty good. I'll take it. What it's really missing is some good quality stretching.
Now as I enter my taper in the final week leading up to the 1/2 marathon, I can work on stretching and getting lots of lab stuff done. My interviews are coming up. And my committee meeting. Those are the most important, but the race-stuff allows me to relax b/c I'm trying to use it more for fun and less for competition this season. For this reason, I'm not nervous about the 1/2 this Sunday. I'm looking forward to it. It should be great.
Went for the first inaugural outdoor bike ride yesterday. Remembered why I hate biking in St. Louis as I had 3 near-collisions with careless drivers. I almost got sideswiped 2x and backed into once. It put me in a really sour mood. I got a raving case of bike rage. Unfortunately, I don't think it helps to scream, "Fuckhead!" when someone almost hits you. At least, it didn't seem to help for me.
I'm almost done with the spring gardening now. It's gorgeous. Our compost was rich, moist, and black. Full of juicy earthworms that looked like they had come straight from Chernobyl. Of course, all the robins just thought we were feeding them, and I had to keep shooing them away.
Now, I'm trying to focus in lab. Feeling overwhelmed with everything. We saw an incredibly bright, glaring shooting star streak towards the horizon Saturday night. It was incredible considering we were in the car driving into the city and the sky was full of light from the city, haze, and clouds. It came out of nowhere, and it was so bright, it made me shudder. Think it's a sign?

Quote and Word of the Day

"Exhaustion is the shortest way to equality and fraternity."

A short period of light training that immediately precedes a peak race and is undertaken to allow the body to fully recover from and adapt to the preceding hard training.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

on fire

I've beet my lethargy, at least for now. I've been on fire. Getting all sorts of things done. I bought a suit today for my interviews in San Diego! I'm so excited/nervous. I also keep sending e-mails to this one professor who won't respond. I have nothing to lose. I just want him to tell me yes or no. One way or another. Respond, dammit!
My trick has been lists. Yes, more lists. I guess I didn't have enough. I have a list of my daily tasks down to the hour. I get as much as I can done. Of course, it's never enough. I won't be able to spend the 5 hours in lab today like I wanted because of suit shopping so that will have to be done tomorrow (there goes the gardening until another day). I want to do it all.
My pursuit of the perfect week will be very close this week. Close enough. Tomorrow will be a great bike ride. Outside! Yeah! After all winter indoors. It will be sunny and 70 and spring tomorrow. I can't wait. I have so much I want to do. I guess it's time to revise my lists. Afterall, it's been a few hours since I looked at them.
Anyway, after my 12 mile run on Tuesday, I worked out and swam at the gym on Wednesday, took Thursday off to get my hair trimmed, biked and ran on Friday, and ran and swam today. It was awesome. I did a 6-mile tempo run on the treadmill followed immediately by a 1-mile non-stop swim in the pool. With the new SwiMp3 player. I was exhausted. I got so thirsty, I was trying to drink as I exhaled underwater swimming laps. It didn't work out so well.
Hope everyone else has been productive too. Tomorrow will totally screw up my system b/c we lose an hour. My body can't even handle it now. I need to gain 3 hours!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Top 50: List of My Personality Traits

1. I love and live by lists.
2. I'm a night owl.
3. I'm afraid of sudden loud noises.
4. I'm afraid of talking to strangers on the phone, but not in public.
5. I talk a lot, especially when I'm nervous, and I talk fast.
6. I'm usually pretty outgoing.
7. Along the same lines, I'm an extrovert (and I love to be the center of attention).
8. I've been described by others as "intense." I like to think of it as "passionate."
9. I have a lot (too many) interests.
10. I love to do a million things at once.
11. I tend to be overly dramatic and exaggerate.
12. I've experienced a lot during the short time I've been here.
13. I spring clean several times a year.
14. I've spent New Year's Eve at home cleaning and organizing. And I liked it.
15. I've lived in 5 places in my lifetime. I will have lived in 7 or 8 by the time I'm done.
16. I went to 3 different high schools.
17. I've owned 3 horses, 3 cats, and 3 bunnies.
18. 3 is my favorite number.
19. I've gone scuba diving in Cozumel.
20. I've been called the "bunny whisperer."
21. I'd rather spend money on a nice racing bike or high-quality treadmill than jewelry or a car.
22. I've been called a bleeding-heart liberal.
23. I feed the birds AND the stray cat who waits by the bird feeder (hey, a full cat doesn't want birds).
24. I've also rescued baby birds and saved drowning earthworms.
25. If sleeping were an Olympic sport, I'd be a multi-time gold medalist.
26. I also have many vivid dreams.
27. I love flying in my dreams.
28. I didn't see snow falling for the first time until I was 16.
29. I hate cold weather, and I get cold VERY easily. My hands and feet are always cold.
30. I love star-gazing and cell-gazing under the microscope. They feel like the same thing. Staring at things we know little about.
31. I've walked on a frozen lake.
32. I've never seen Goonies.
33. I have a weakness for chocolate.
34. I've cried during the Simpsons.
35. I love gardening at night. When you wake up in the morning, everything looks transformed.
36. I hate it when people get on the elevator to go up or down 1 flight of stairs. C'mon!
37. I'm addicted to lattes. Skim milk. Starbucks. I know it's a waste of money.
38. I love swimming in the ocean.
39. The coldest weather I've ever run in was 16 degrees F, but -2 with the windchill.
40. I love how vivid the sky is at night when it's extremely cold.
41. I get very restless and anxious with too much free time on my hands.
42. I read stories to my bunnies, and I talk to animals.
43. Horses are my favorite animal.
44. Blue is my favorite color.
45. I hate stew. I also hate pork.
46. I love sushi.
47. I also love raw oysters. But they were the cause of 5 stomach flus I had last year.
48. I've had Camplyobacter. It was the sickest I've ever been in my life. I lost 10 lbs in 5 days.
49. I get dizzy and light-headed when I stand up too fast.
50. I plan on living until 100. In good health and quality the whole time too.

In memory of George.

My noble George--eternal spirit and infinite heart. Posted by Hello

Word and Quote of the Day

Today's word and quote are horse-related, my first love and passion.

dres·sage: ( n.) The guiding of a horse through a series of complex maneuvers by slight movements of the rider's hands, legs, and weight.
[French, preparation, training, dressage, from dresser, to set up, arrange, train, from Old French drecier, to set up, arrange.]

I used to ride dressage. It was the only time that I completely lost myself and became transformed into one creature--half horse and half human. We moved as one, my aids imperceptible to the observer. We had an almost psychic connection of harmony as I sensed his movements almost before they happened, and he sensed my cues before I gave them, timelessly, effortlessly, a million neural circuits firing. Each muscle that tensed, on him, on me, nothing was missed. I could feel his feet and where they were landing beneath me (so lightly, like feathers), and I could direct each footstep and tell it where to land. I could see his eyes, out of the corner of my eyes, liquid, trusting, content. His ears, cocked to the side, half on me, half on where we were traveling. They bounced slightly with each step in a relaxed tempo. There was a rhythm, a harmony, as his coordinated movements carried me atop his powerful, swinging back, with me, lucky enough to harness that power and bridge it to the elegance and delicateness he was capable of. My goal, in the end, was to relax my body and receive his signals, and get out of his way to showcase this magnificent creature and lose myself in his wonder.

"When I bestride him,I soar. I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes."
--William Shakespeare. King Henry V.

(I miss you George. I think about you every day. I hope you're happy...wherever you are.)