Tuesday, February 28, 2006

In the middle of the highway...

Sunday was such a gorgeous day. After our "pancake Sunday morning", I laid out on the balcony as the house finches feasted on the bird seed, pouring over the San Diego maps and planning out the perfect bike ride. Jason had to study so I prepared to make the trip solo. Very brave of me, I thought. After checking the tires, carefully picking my bike attire, and filling my water bottle, I set out. Since the bag under my seat is relatively small, I had to carefully select the bare essentials for my trip. Usually, I carry a spare tube and a patch kit; however, this leaves no room for a cell phone. Fortunately, as I'll get to later, for this trip, I decided a tube and patch kit was redundant and replaced the bulky tube with the phone.

The ride was totally relaxing and peaceful. 68 degrees and calm with barely a breeze, except for the cooling wind I created on my speedy mount. I made my way to a handy, paved bike path, which connects the UCSD area to Pacific Beach. From there, I headed south and connected up with Mission Bay. I then made a giant loop around the entire bay. I took a small side-trip around Fiesta Island, where some time trials are held in the summer. I saw a ton of other bicyclists, which always reassured me. I don't want to go forging new paths, especially since I still find the San Diego traffic intimidating. However, bike paths lined almost every street to reassure me and coax me to keep going.

As I made my way back, I checked my computer. It read 20 miles at this point. Since I don't have my bike legs back yet, I figured this was about right. Unfortunately, I had a hard time finding the bike path I had rode down on. Instead, I stayed closer to shore and headed directly north through Pacific Beach. It was a little crowded with Sunday beach strollers. I had to pick my poison--make my way on the boardwalk with tons of pedestrians, or brave the crowded side streets, filled with cars and no bike lanes (these roads do exist here, believe it or not). Because I hate slowing down, I chose the road, knowing Bluebell could handle it.

As I headed into La Jolla, I made a critical mistake. Instead of sticking close to shore, I chose the most direct route--the straight line--which lead directly up this mountain--literally--Mt. Soledad. 15% grade for miles, twisting and turning, up and up. By the time I had realized what I had gotten myself into, I was already heading up, committed. Point of no return. I stubbornly continued up. I soon found myself gasping for breath. I had to (gulp) get off and walk the rest of the way up that damn hill (mountain). Considering I have a granny gear, I'm embarrassed to admit, this is the first time I have ever succumbed to walking my bike up a hill. If I hadn't already biked 20 miles, I think I could have done it. However, I simply had nothing left. I vow to return and conquer that mountain soon; after my quads stop screaming at me when I go down stairs. But I digress...

At the top of the mountain, I paused and rested. I turned behind me and saw the most spectacular view. The ocean stretched before me endlessly, meeting the blue sky on the horizon in a seamless line, only barely discernable by a thin wisp of clouds. Incredible houses with spacious gardens lined the street I was on, taking advantage of this view on a daily basis. This is what people pay millions for, I realized.

I got back on and continued pedaling, hoping the road would eventually link up with something more familiar. At least I knew I was going in the right direction. I remember stopping to check the tire pressure. My speed seemed so sluggish; surely I must have gotten a flat. Nope. The tires were full. The bike was great. I simply had no legs left. Then, I started going down the other side of the mountain. Windy, narrow, and just as steep. I had to ride the brakes...hard. I hate doing that. I can just imagine the pads wearing out. I had no choice. Normally, I lightly tap the brakes going down to maintain my speed. I had to crank the brakes...for 1.5 miles...my forearms were about to snap by the time I reached the bottom. I think going down was worse than going up.

I definitely had reached the point of no return by now. There was no way I could make it back up. About a half mile down the road, the road ended and became an on-ramp for a divided highway. No shoulder. No bikes. The interstate snaked off of the highway 1/4 mile down from there. Shit. By this point, I had gone 30 miles and had been out for more than 2 hours. I pulled over to a small dirt shoulder to think. I couldn't go back up. I couldn't continue on the highway. I had no idea how to get home. Shit. I pulled out the cell phone....and called Jason. He knew immediately I needed a ride. Why else would I call? He asked where I was. I replied in a meek, defeated voice, "On dirt sholder in the middle of some highway."

Eventually, however, he found me, picked me up, hoisted Bluebell onto the bike rack, and took me for a sub and a latte. I was ravenous. Jason comes to my rescue again. He thinks the entire event was very amusing and a bit humorous. It is. If you're not me. I'm still walking around, shoulders slumped with my tail between my legs. To my credit, when I got home and looked at the map, the road I was on does look like a way to get home, only you can't tell part of the road dumps out onto a divided highway. So it was an honest mistake. Moral? Never leave home without a cell phone. Also, when studying maps, pay attention to which roads are unbikeable (such as highways where cars go zipping by at 60+ mph).

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I've been SO tired lately. I'm not sure if I'm going through a phase or recouperating from the move still or what. I don't know if I should see a doc or wait it out. Anyway, I still don't have a doctor here. Sigh. I hate doctor-hunting. I don't really like doctors period. But I haven't really felt as peppy as I normally do.

Lately, I've been trying to get into lab earlier only to have a major late-afternoon slump. I come home around 6 and am too exhausted to do anything but nap. Except my naps are 2 hours and then I don't get to bed early. Then, I wake up early for lab, and the vicious cycle starts all over again. I hate being a night owl sometimes. It makes everything harder and more complicated.

Due to extreme tiredness, I took Thursday off. Friday, I went for an easy run from lab, thanks to a friend at lab who motivated me out of my pre-nap mode. Unfortunately, I didn't make it to the pool afterwards. I just hate the thought of getting wet when it's chilly! I'm such a wimp! For some reason, swimming has the most inertia for me to overcome. Once I'm in the water, it's great. I just have to get into the habit. Anyway, I definitely have to get in the pool a LOT more.

I still feel like I'm just getting back into regular workouts right now. God, it takes forever! I hate how far backwards I've moved since taking a few months off! It's espeically dangerous at this stage b/c, unlike a few years ago, when I knew nothing, I know how much I've lost now. Before, any gain was a great reward. Now, I'm just comparing it to how far I have to go so it doesn't have the same effect. I know I shouldn't do that but it's hard not to. Plus, as soon as I build a little bit of fitness, I have a hard time holding back because I forget that my body still isn't really ready for harder workouts. Then, I end up having some days that are way too hard and the cumulative effects force me to take way too long to recover. I'm having a hard time going easy. I just can't wait to get past this hurdle. I am running a lot better and biking more. I'm also eating much healthier so that's very good. I just have to keep pushing.

Today, we went whale-watching. We went out on this boat into the ocean...which was cool enough in itself for me. We saw all sorts of cool military stuff in the harbor--subs, aircraft carriers, etc. Also tons of sailboats and kayakers. Very cool. Out a ways, we saw 2 juvenile gray whales!!!! We followed them (keeping our distance with the engine on low) and watched them for about 2 hours. It was way cool! We saw them blow spouts in the air and their backs crested in and out of the water. We also saw their tails!!!! 3x! They do this when they dive but these guys were kind of playing because they kept resurfacing! It was so cool. It was really hard to take pics b/c I never knew where they were going to pop up but just seeing them was so cool. On the way back to the harbor, we saw TONS of sea lions. Lying in the sun. They were HUGE! So cool. I loved it. It took a lot out of me though b/c I forgot sunblock and I got a lot of sun. I needed food and a 4-hour nap pronto when I got home. I've been exhausted the rest of the day. (I did manage to clean the apt from head to toe however. Fun Sat. night).

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

healthier day

Okay, well, I still woke up late and took a late afternoon nap. However, I had 3 square meals, and only a light dessert of some cookies (homemade--sent by my mother-in-law for Jason's b-day; how can I resist that?). I had salmon on toast for breakfast, turkey sandwich for lunch, and for dinner, veggies, fruit, and sushi. I also managed to have an awesome bike on the trainer for a solid hour while watching March of the Penguins. That movie was so awesome! The penguins are amazing!!! Babs and Taz watched too. They liked the penguins as well (but not when they made their eerie calling noises).

bunny pics!!!

Taz--"Hey! What's that?"

Babs (above)--"What are you doing? And why aren't you petting me?"

Oscar--"go away...eating....mmmmmm...."

Plodding on...

I'm happy to report that I managed to run a solid 4 miles on the treadmill and lift weights tonight despite an unintended hour nap when I got home from lab and cake for dinner. Maybe it all cancels each other out. Ugh. Just trying to get myself back in shape.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Just got back from nor-cal. It was freezing there! Okay, I'm a wimp. I've been here a month and I can't stand 40 degree weather already. But it was very unusual!

Today was Jason's 30th b-day. We had a delicious filet mignon dinner with an awesome cabernet wine, fruit, sourdough bread, asparagus, rice with soy sauce, and then fudge cake with vanilla ice cream (candles, icing and all) for dessert. I even sang "Happy Birthday." Then I gave him his gift--a verrrry nice Burberry watch--stainless steel band with a gorgeous champagne face. He really liked it. It was fun.

I've been getting back on track, workout-wise. At my parents, it was freezing and raining. (Also, the coyotes kept me up every night with their bone-chilling, eerie howling). However, I eeked out a 3 mile run on their treadmill after a large lemon chicken dinner followed by generous slices of pumpkin pie for dessert. With a pumpkin pie-laden belly, running was hard, but I did, and that's all that counts.

I saw one of my old friends that I hadn't seen in years. She was one of my bridesmaids, and we went to junior high together. It was so awesome to see her! She's done all these cool things; I'm really in awe. She offered to run with me Sunday morning before I flew back to San Diego. I never would have gotten up to do it otherwise. My mom got me out of bed 10 minutes before my friend got there. Am I 16 again or what? I threw on my running clothes, ate some dry cereal and was ready. It was a tough 4-mile run, but the time passed so quickly because we chatted the whole time. It was great. We ran to this park where my mom used to take me as a baby to feed the ducks. It's along this creek, which was really swollen and angry b/c of all the rain. Also, because the dirt was so moist, the smell of eucalyptus was really thick; I love that sweet, musty smell.

My dad has been bike riding a lot and loves it. He hates running and weight-lifting but riding makes him feel like a kid, and my mom gets off his back about exercising. I am happy because I kind of turned him on to it. He has a Specialized Allez. He loves how it's red and goes really fast. He also puts panniers on it and goes grocery shopping--totally awesome. He just got a bike rack so he can go biking in really rave places. I'm trying to get him to join up with this fun bike club so he can get out more; it's always easier to go with other people. Anyway, I'm excited because he took me to all the bike shops when I was there; he's looking for his 2nd bike already! A trail bike. He really loves the Specialized Rockhopper. I'm so proud of him. He wants it to climb up these steep mountain trails around the house. I'm encouraging my mom to get a bike so they can go out together but she needs confidence. I want her to get a cruiser--she'd be comfortable on that. And my dad could go out with her on some gentle trails with his mountain bike.

Oh, I'm forgetting the best part! They're getting me a bike so when I visit, I can go riding with my dad!!! I figured we'd go out on the road more than anything (plus, it's so easy to rent a mountain bike when you need one) so I decided to go with a road bike. Let's see, nice, comfortable road bike---hmmmm. I decided on the Bianchi Brava--it fits me awesome since it runs a little small (for men); it's steel--comfort, yes; weight? who cares? Components aren't that great but for the price and the amount of time I'll ride it, it totally works!!! Besides, I can always upgrade later. I can't wait!!! I could even sign up for a century ride while I'm there!

Speaking of biking, Jason and I finally took Asphalt and Bluebell (respectively) out for a ride this afternoon (much needed). We went exploring, and it was great! We headed up the coast (gorgeous) and then turned inland, making a huge, 20-mile loop--kind of figuring it out as we went. I had to stop and ask for directions at a gas station once; they were so nice. It was a great confidence builder (and workout). Note to self--need more warm biking clothes, esp. pants. It gets breezy and chilly here, especially at sunset!!!

I spoke to my sister the other night. She may visit for her spring break! I'm so stoked!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Unintended R&R week

I have been incredibly lazy this week. I basically took an unplanned R&R week. Oh, well. I guess, in a way, I was due for one. Tomorrow, I'll be flying north to visit my folks in the Bay Area for the weekend. I'm hoping to do some trail running, pool swimming, and maybe even some biking while I'm there so I should be able to get active.

I hope this time off has served me well and primed me for more activity as opposed to causing me to lose substantial fitness. I'm on such a tentative cliff right now. I'm just starting to build fitness again after those few months off. It's such a slippery slope. I can't believe how hard it is. When I was a raw newbie, every gain was a new gain, so everything was motivational. Now that I'm an old-er newbie, I know how much I've lost and how far I have to go so it's hard to look at it from the perspective of a new beginning. But that's what I need to do. Each day is a new day. A new opportunity. I have to push away what I know and pretend I'm starting from scratch.

And some days, I should throw my exercise plan away and just go out and have fun! Go for a hike, shoot some hoops, do something different. It's hard for me to do because I'm very organized and am always following a plan. I feel I can't do something different, unless I planned it. Pretty spontaneous, huh?

Another thing I've realized...if I got my workout done first thing in the morning, I could have the rest of the day to myself. Then, I wouldn't be so tired and tempted to skip at the end of the day. Plus, during the late afternoon, I could even fit a 2nd workout in and be done with everything by 8. I guess it's hard for me to believe that could happen but it sounds so enticing! I'm going to try to start doing that.

What are your best tips for getting up early in the morning?
(I have a terrible time!)

Hot female athlete of the week

seeing as the winter olympics are going on, I thought it appropriate to search for previously undiscovered (by myself) female athletes to look up to. Kari Traa--oh...my...God! What a beauty! And, jeez, can she ski! I'm totally rooting
for her!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Stop and Go

I'm having a hard time getting consistency with my workouts. After last week's race, I was a bit tired. But instead of doing some easy workouts, I ended up crashing for 2 days. By Wednesday, I felt so guilty that I wasn't following my training plan to a T that I tried to make up for lost time. Big mistake.

I felt totally recharged so I did a 4 mile run with 2.5 miles on the track. I felt a little sluggish during the run but I headed over to the pool anyway afterwards for a hard swim. I had a great swim workout. My endurance and form is coming back, and I can finally swim freesytle sets of 500m without having to rest in between. I slept like a baby and came into lab the next day very sore and tired.

Nonetheless, I brought Bluebell (my precious road bike) and my bike clothes. I took off at 4 since it was a light day and headed north up the coast on Torrey Pines. It was so gorgeous. Traffic was heavy but I had a nice bike lane all to myself. I had to be very catious, however, since all the drivers seemed to me suffering from massive overdoses of road rage. The wind coming off the ocean was very strong, and I had to brake on this very steep descent to 30 mph in order to be comfortable and stay in control. Coming back, that hill kicked my ass. It took my 10 minutes on my lowest gear (and I have a granny gear) going 6 mph to get up that damn hill. My lower back was screaming by the time I reached the top.

That wiped me out so I cancelled my other planned workout for the night since I was so beat. I woke up the next a.m. sore from head to toe. I decided to be wise and rest Friday. (I was going to do an easy run but Oscar got gastric stasis and an emergency run to the vet on Friday evening wiped out any plans I'd had; he's recovering nicely since I caught it early; he hates taking his meds!)

Saturday, I was going to be so good today! I've been tired all day! Part of it is probably because I was forced to pop a Zyrtec last night due to a whopping case of allergies after coming home from the vet. It reacts with other drugs I'm taking and makes me incredibly dizzy and groggy for the next 24 hours! Sucks! So I've basically been walking around like a zombie all day today, sleeping, and getting mad at myself. Grrrr! It's hard to look months down the road and do small, consistent workouts without overdoing it. But I know I'm steadily gaining fitness. I know what I have to do. I just have to be disciplined and make myself do it.

Moral of the story?
Don't be a slave to your workout plan. If you overdo it, back off. Think of your plan as more of a guideline rather than fixed in stone. It may seem like it's holding you back in the short run but you'll make bigger gains in the long run, with less injuries, and be happier for it.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

What are your favorite songs to exercise to?

I'm thinking of making a playlist on iTunes. I love my shuffle. Music makes such a difference, especially when I run. I admit, I used it today during the race since it was such a low-key run. The songs were great. I started off with "Busy Child" by the Crystal Method. This was followed by "Roses" (Outkast), "My Humps" (Black-Eyed Peas), "Hollaback Girl" (Gwen Stefani), "Right There" (Chingy), "Trip Like I Do" (Filter), Romeo (Basement Jaxx), and I finished to some song called "Supersonic" but I don't know the artist.

Question of the Day:
What's your favorite music to exercise to?

10k super run

I had an awesome race this morning. I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30. Surprisingly, I was actually hungry. I ate a bowl of cereal and a banana, selected a pair of shorts and a long-sleeved running shirt. I love the shirt because it's made of this "technical" fiber that wicks away sweat. It keeps you warm on chilly mornings but you never get overheated.

We drove 15 minutes down towards Sea World. It was in the low 50s and very foggy. I love that kind of weather for running. There were tons of people lining up on the start line. All sorts too. Some had baby strollers. Old, young, big, small. Some parents ran with their kids. The announcer gave out useful race strategy tips and another spokesperson led a group warm-up and stretching regimen. So cool. This area is SO healthy. So many opportunities at your fingertips.

I felt quick and strong on the run. The weather was perfect. It was a new route by the bay and there was lots of motivation from all the people around me. I felt totally relaxed and at peace the whole way. I truly enjoyed myself. I felt much better than the other day. I may be slower than I used to be but I think I'm having more fun. I was proud of myself for pacing myself and running the whole way without blowing up. It was a great confidence builder. I was really impressed with this little 10-year old boy who ran next to me the entire way! What a trooper!

Afterwards, I scarfed down 1 and a half bagels at Einsteins and went back to bed. I guess I must have pushed it a little too hard because I was SO exhausted. I took a 5-hour nap! I'm a little sore but nothing too serious. It was fun. I'm planning the next one!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Training Approaches

This year, I'm doing more solo training. I found, in the past, when I joined groups, I became overly stressed with performance. I've decided to focus more on enjoying myself. Because of this perspective, my workouts have been more about having fun and getting some exercise. I've actually been working out more! I think it's because of my new outlook and also because of where I am.

When I go out, I go sans watch, heart rate monitor, or cyclo-computer. I use my perceived exertion effort as my indicator of how hard I need to push it. On a scale of 1 to 10, I try to keep it between 5-8. I think it forces me to listen to my body more and stay more in tune. That way, I can rely on my body to coach me and tell me how hard to train and not have to feel guilty on bad days or rely on a heart rate monitor. It's been working so well!

The other day, I went for a canyon trail run with Jason. It was in the a.m., a time of the day I hate to train. But I went out. For some reason, I felt like I was running through molasses the whole way. I tried to push it at first, feeling frustrated and angry with myself (typical for me). Then, I started paying attention to my breathing. I was gasping and soon developed a stitch. I realized I was going to have a hard time no matter what I did. However, as long as my heart rate was up, I was getting my work-out so it still counted. I decided to slow up and enjoy myself. I actually had to walk a few times. As soon as I felt better, I'd break into a jog. I did the best I could. For the first time, I still felt like I'd accomplished something after a bad workout. I wasn't frustrated or angry. I actually felt at peace. I had listened to my body. What else can you do?

I actually took the next day off. I was very tired and really needed to catch up on my sleep. Then, today, I biked to and from lab. It was a great workout, especially on my mountain bike. But I felt like I had more energy, and I felt stronger! Major accomplishment. I have felt SO out of shape after all the time I have taken off. After lab, I swam in the pool. Again, I felt energized and strong. It's funny how some days, your body responds so well, and you can just go while on others, you have to force yourself just to keep moving.

Tomorrow, I have a 10K. I'm excited. I'm just going to have a good time. I don't really care about time at all.

Question(s) of the Day:
What is your training philosophy?
How do you listen to your body during workouts?
When do you push yourself?
When do you hold back?
What makes you take a day off?

More Apartment Photos!

Apartment Photos!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Busy, better, tired

Today was so much better. First, I had an orientation meeting, which gave my day structure. Then, I got to do a little cell culture with one of the senior techs, which was awesome. During lunch, I got to eat with one of the postdocs and discuss career goals a little. Afterwards, I talked with one of the other postdocs about his project, and he went over it with me in great detail for at least an hour. He was very patient. I asked lots of questions. Actually, it was really interesting, and it gave me ideas and made me feel included. One of the other techs already has plans for me for Wednesday. I have another orientation (sigh) in the morning, and then I get to go out to lunch. Yipee! Afterwards, I'm going to practice i.p. injections. I love doing things with my hands instead of reading all day. It's so engaging. Anyway, the time passes more quickly, and I am beginning to feel more involved. Plus, I know I'm doing everything I can, and it's going to take time to get up and moving. Meanwhile, I'm trying to get a handle on all the papers I'm reading while I have a chance--filing, entering them into EndNote, outlining, etc. It will really help me get started. I'm learning a ton about atherosclerosis and macrophages! It's really cool.

I am feeling better and stronger during my workouts though I have a long way to go. I biked on the trainer for a solid 45 minutes today. That's an improvement for me. Plus, I took a nap and ate dinner first so I really had to motivate myself. Steady and little and often. I have a 10K this weekend. Yikes.