Thursday, April 29, 2010

metaphors and miracles

Every day I get proof that I'm not the brightest tool in the shed.

I mean, I can't even do metaphors right.

As I got on the treadmill tonight I managed to convince myself that I really was going to listen to the Motion Traxx podcast I downloaded yesterday. I felt I'd be taking a chance with the unknown, but I knew I had to give it a try or I'd never know if it was going to help me work out.

I loaded the iPod app of my iPhone and went into the Podcast area. I scrolled down past Dispatches, Quirks & Quarks, The Savage Lovecast and Wiretap, and ... nothing.

Where the hell was it?!?

Oh, yeah.

When I synced my iPhone last night, I forgot to select the Motion Traxx podcast from the list.

Oops.

It all worked out, I'm happy to say. I had pruned my workout playlist before syncing and I'd taken out alot of the stuff I'd begun to find irritating. I'm pretty happy so far with what got left behind.

I'm also very happy with tonight's jog. I stayed at 4.2 mph for the entire 25 minutes and my legs didn't tire the way they'd been doing earlier in the week. I find it odd that my third run each week is always the best one - you'd think I'd be getting more fatigued as the week drags on, but no. I know I could have run longer than I did, but I'm really happy I didn't have to.

As it is, Week 8 will be taking me to 28 minutes. Gah!

The good news? I'm almost finished the program.

Wow.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

even sweat is better than self-pity

I'm sitting here, trying to appreciate that I've just run for 25 minutes solid. I should feel that I've accomplished something large, particularly after Sunday night's fiasco.

Instead, the only thing I feel excited about is no longer having a craving for the chocolate bunny that's been in the refrigerator since the day I ate his ears. Turns out running makes your belly feel full. I like that.

Actually, I do feel one other thing: there's sweat dripping from behind my ear, onto my shoulder. It's pretty intense, actually. Like rain.

Gross.

Anyhoo, the run is past yet I feel like I haven't done anything, despite the evidence that perspiration is providing. Goddamn, I'm weird.

You know, if navel-gazing burned calories, I'd have to be hospitalized for anorexia.

Enough.

Here's a positive note to conclude on:
Today one of our managers returned to work after at least three weeks away due to illness. She noticed right away I'd lost weight.

Now that's cool.

Monday, April 26, 2010

sunday, bloody sunday

Here's what happened:

I intended to have a reasonably productive yet relaxing Sunday. The South African hottie has taught me how much time I've been wasting and I had decided to manage my Twitter and Buzz streams a little bit so that I don't lose so much time keeping current.

It was a disaster.

I made some new lists for Twitter but they only made the situation worse. Now I had 13 columns to create and after adding about seven or eight of them I realized TweetDeck was becoming impossible.

I switched to HootSuite, which is better suited to a large number of lists, but then I became overwhelmed by the very first of my columns when I attempted to catch up on it ... after a week or more of being away.

I jumped over to Buzz, to see if I could get myself in order over there. Bad idea: more chaos.

I decided I'd leave the PC for a while and go paint the baseboards in the spare room. I've been picking away at a refresh of that room since the fall and all I have left is the trim and the ceiling.

I got into the room and removed the painter's tape from my last session. As usual, a few tiny bits remained behind as I tore it away. Tweezers would be the best way of dealing with them but Dotty was in the shower and that meant I'd have to wait almost an hour (she's pretty damn slow in there).

I noticed the baseboards and ceiling needed a wash before I painted. But I couldn't do that while Dotty was in the shower. Bah!

It was definitely one of those days. By the time I got to my run, I felt empty. I didn't want to do it, I couldn't even remember why I'd committed to the program in the first place, and all I wanted to do was eat and eat and eat and eat. Not because I was hungry, just because I wanted the comfort only potato chips and chocolate can bring.

I got onto the treadmill. Even the warm-up walk felt challenging.

I started running. I had decided to try listening to a podcast instead of my music, as the tunes didn't seem to make the time go by very fast.

Quirks & Quarks is normally fascinating. The episode I happened to choose, however, talked about a dinosaur fossil and about the impact of dust on climate. The topics were even less interesting than I just made them sound.

I made it 20 minutes into the run. I had five minutes left. And the thought of it really did seem impossible. I just didn't have it. I went into the cool-down, instead. I gave up.

I wanted to cry. I felt disappointed, sad and lost. It was scary and confusing.

I wanted to quit everything. I wanted to quit my job and stay home and eat and read and do cross stitch. I started to panic at the thought of the energy I'd require just to go into work on Monday.

And then I decided it was time to stop feeling sorry for myself. At least now I had something to call on the next time I felt like finishing a run early: quitting felt pretty damn horrible.

I considered doing the run again tonight but then decided to just let it go. I'll chalk it up to experience and just do the next one as scheduled.

And this weekend, I'm buying some goddam running shorts and hitting the damn pavement. If the tunes and the podcasts aren't enough of a distraction, maybe the ditches and the neighborhood dogs will be.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

give up? ain't happenin'.

I've never sweated so much.

I've tried to work this hard, but without a goal (or a program to force a goal on me), it's been too easy to work only hard enough to hurt a little. Now, however, I have a better sense of what it's like to work so hard there is no pain.

The thing is, I haven't really wanted to do the last two runs this week. Tuesday night I was feeling discouraged, as though my efforts haven't been paying off.

(I know, I know; my last post was all about how good it feels that my body is changing. Turns out that was the calm before the emotional storm.)

I ran on Tuesday despite feeling it was futile. Of course I was happy that I did, but I'm still working on my patience.

Tonight I got home and I just knew I was too tired. I'm always tired when I get home from work but I can usually eat dinner and recover pretty quickly. This time, I was so tired I didn't even want to eat.

I made myself heat up some shepherd's pie from M&M and I played a little on the Internet as I waited for the food to take effect.

It didn't happen.

As I lay my head on my pillow at 6:30 I realized I would probably wake up in a couple of hours. I vowed that if I did I'd run. At 8:33 I got out of bed and prepared to stretch.

Twenty-five minutes is a long time to run. It's hard to believe that six weeks ago I had difficulty running for 90 seconds. I burned a record number (for me) of calories tonight: 370.

My friend THG tells me that he gets through his runs by imagining that if he stops someone will hurt one of his family members. I tried that but it didn't really work for me. Instead, I'll stick to my daydreams of sexy clothing and dance floors and an actual ass. I'd love to have an actual ass; my maternal genetics have denied me one of those 'til now.

I'm happy to be running rather than living the sedentary, fast food-filled life I was caught up in before. That doesn't mean I won't lack motivation now and then. Luckily, life experience has taught me how important it is to force myself forward.

By the way, I've sort of figured out what was happening with my left knee. I thought something was rubbing against my fibula but I played around and realized it's actually my fibula doing the rubbing.

As my knee moves the fibula rises and falls; I think it occasionally hits an artery or vein or something else just under the skin. It still causes zero pain and it doesn't even happen every time my knee moves.

I researched the sensation until I knew more about knee tendons and ligaments and bursa than I ever wanted and still found nothing, so I'm not going to worry about it anymore. I figure it'll stop as suddenly as it began.

Of course, if you have any ideas, feel free to pass them along. Just remember: the sensation isn't in my knee and there is absolutely, unequivocally, no pain.

Oh, and I'm weirdly built. Remember: I'm a girl without an ass.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

humpty dumpty in reverse

My body is changing.

The weight isn't necessarily melting off, but one of the changes I've noticed recently is pretty major. I don't know if it's due to my new food choices or to the running, but it's something I had no idea how to manage before now.

At least eight years ago I began to notice that at some point each day, the area marked by the end of my ribcage would swell and become hard, and would last through the rest of the day.

The swelling would extend pretty much down to my belly and nothing I did seemed to change it. I couldn't even tell if it was water retention or something more.

I tried massaging myself to both calm the swelling and try to detect if there was anything inside me that felt odd, but I never found anything other than tight muscle and tissue. Still, the swelling made me look 'matronly'.

One day, while working with a yoga instructor, she noticed it. What was amazing at the time was that she, too, experienced it. I'd never known someone who taught yoga who had anything other than a well-toned body, but here she was with the same tough belly that extended out from under the bottom of our bras (near the diaphragm?).

The thing is, in the mornings the swelling isn't usually there, so I know it's a consequence of something I'm doing through the day. The yoga instructor and I had talked about it being stress-related (another reason I tried the massage), as though we were holding in all the emotions and anxieties of the day.

Well, for at least the last week, maybe two, the swelling is completely gone. It doesn't show up at all. The first day I noticed it, I couldn't believe it would last.

I showed the South African hottie on Friday and even he was happy for me (it takes a lot to impress that guy, believe me). I can even pull in my belly muscles enough that I can envision myself in a bikini, someday soon.

For the last week I've been aware of how good my belly feels under my clothing, how comparatively flat it is and how it doesn't feel heavy with pressure. It's an unexpected bonus from the changes I've made.

I've been hoping that the issues with my back would resolve as quickly but no luck. There's so much going on with my spine I'm not really surprised, though. And I can't deny that overall, I'm in much better shape even in that regard.

One of my legs is half an inch longer than the other, I've got flat feet/fallen arches, the area over my sacrum is constantly - and very noticeably - puffy, and I'm susceptible to tension headaches as a consequence of all the imbalances and their impact on my neck muscles.

I sound like a freak, wha? Lordy.

Anyway, I find that the exercise helps to loosen things up and take away a lot of stiffness and discomfort, but it's not 100% and I wish it were. Maybe in the long term....

Finally, one of the wackier things I've been experiencing is this: for the last two days, when I step with my left foot it feels as though something is sliding up and down on the outer side of my knee. I've looked at a bunch of articles and images at Wikipedia and my guess is the area affected is near the top of my fibula. The sliding feels like an elastic band, so I'm guessing there's a tendon or ligament involved, but I can't figure it out exactly.

I didn't notice it that much during my run tonight, but it's quite remarkable when I go up or down stairs. There is zero pain, so I'm not concerned, but I am curious. I did take a bad step during one of my recent runs (Tuesday? Thursday?) and felt something sharp and unpleasant in what I would call my inner ankle, but that pain was completely gone the next morning. I just wonder if they're related.

All in all, I'm falling apart ... but less so than I was before I started Couch to 5K.

I can't ask for more than that.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

i'm gonna work harder

I sent a text message to the South African hottie from my iPhone a few minutes ago. It read,
"I just ran for 20 minutes solid, bitches!"
I might be feeling a little cocky.

And yet the run was so easy I'm a little disappointed in myself. I set the treadmill for 4 mph, not wanting a repeat of the near-crisis I had last week. I definitely could have gone higher, so I'll put it at 4.2 mph on Sunday, when I start Week 6.

Actually, maybe I'll try 4.5 mph again. I've peeked at the first run and it's something like two fives and an eight, so it's worth a try. Besides, I'm feeling cocky.

In related news, my calories are too low for today. I have almost 700 left in my budget. I've baked some pitas to a crispy state and plan to hit the hummus while I watch Survivor.

Oh, and speaking of which, guess what showed up during the last three-and-a-half minutes of my run, when I was finally starting to think about finishing? You've got it.

Beyonce's got damn good timing.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

on battlestar galactica they said "frak"

I just finished eating the ears from my Easter bunny.

Yeah, it's a couple of weeks after the fact but I've been resisting it because of my new healthy regimen. Lose It! told me I had a little buffer tonight so I went for it.

The ears weighed about 25g, which isn't much, believe me. It might fit in two measuring tablespoons, I guess. Even so, those two or three bites had seven grams of fat and more than 14 grams of sugar.

And guess what?

It didn't even taste as good as I thought it would. It totally wasn't worth it.

I guess I'm over sugar.

Yay!

I weighed myself this morning: I'm now down 1.6 pounds. I entered it into Lose It! and the app promptly revised my daily calorie allotment ... downwards! But only by about 11 calories, so I'll barely notice, especially since I find myself consuming on average about 300 fewer calories than I'm allowed each day.

It's not deliberate, this lack of topping out. In fact, as I look back to my first week with the app I see that I took in even the teensiest bit too much energy (11 calories). The week after that was 463 calories below my allotment and it's been downhill ever since, mostly as I consume foods that are more nutritional and filling. 'Cause I'm just not hungry. And when I am, I eat.

As for Couch to 5K, last night I got the most delightful surprise!

(Hint: anytime I use the word "delightful", I'm being sarcastic.)

My session went from three five-minute runs (Sunday) to two eight-minute runs!

Honestly, the first thing that popped into my mind when I opened Get Running and saw the agenda was

What

The

Fuck?

But I did it. I really did.

The first eight minutes were at 4.2 mph and the second were at 4, just in case. I had to push hard during the second run with just three minutes left, but I made it. I pushed and I made it.

And then I came upstairs, got on my computer and looked up the next session.

Oh, goodie!

(Hint: ... oh, never mind. You know by now.)

That's right: on Thursday I get to run for 20 solid, undoubtedly mostly-excruciating minutes!!!

Yep, another WTF moment.

Honestly, I think most of my shock comes at the notion that I can actually do it. And I know I can; the program may have blown my mind (and legs) (and lungs) in Week 4 but overall I've been able to do what it tasks me to.

And that's pretty damn WTF.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

so many numbers

I have officially lost one pound.

I weighed myself this morning and all I could think was "it's about time". I do hope this bodes well for the next few weeks. I need the pay-off.

Tonight I started Week 5 of Couch to 5K and that means three runs of five minutes each. I did it at 4.2 mph, making it tough enough that I had to push myself through the last three minutes of the last run but not so tough that I had to lean on the treadmill just to get through.

Five minutes was definitely much easier to get through this week than last. That kind of improvement has been my general experience all along and it relieves my mind of some anxiety regarding my diet. I've worried that I'm not getting enough protein (I've averaged 70g/day this week, for example) or that I'm not eating enough (to lose a pound a week I'm supposed to consume 1506 calories per day, but I'm 1,743 calories under budget since Monday), but I'm definitely gaining endurance and strength, so I'll relax a little on those things.

The data I've mentioned, by the way, comes courtesy of Lose It!, a great little iPhone app that's really helped me see my food more clearly. Once I got used to some of the nutritional values and adjusted my intake of certain foods, I found that I was even able to afford a treat every few days.

I'm not going crazy with that, mind you. I'm just having the occasional small piece of cake (Happy 71st Birthday, Dotty!) or a medium dub-dub from Tim's.

The other app I rely on for this program is Get Running (Couch to 5K). It remains my favorite overall but I've begun to notice a few minor glitches. I know the developer occasionally reads my entries so I'll take advantage of that to mention them.

The voice-over for Get Running made a slight boo-boo during the intro to each Week 4 session: instead of explaining there would be two runs of three minutes each, she said they'd be two-and-a-half minutes long. That pleased me as I'd been dreading the thought of three-minute runs coupled with five-minute runs, and I can assure you the pleasure was mashed into a bloody pulp with each step I took during the last 30 seconds of those runs.

Next, I've been under the impression that the pause/stop/forward/reverse tools at the bottom of the main screen are for managing whatever tunes I've got playing during the session. They didn't work on Sunday, however, when I decided to skip a song from my playlist; instead, I had to open the iPod controls to do it.

Like I said, neither issue is a big one. I can live with them, in fact. I just know the developer wants a perfect product and I'd like to help with that if I can.

I'm also finding - and this isn't the app's fault - is that I need more visual stimulation to distract me while I run. I'm obsessing over the time each running period takes and I'm sure that makes them feel longer than they are. I'd love to watch something on my iPhone and still get the audio cues from the app, but it's probably better if I just bring a magazine to the treadmill from now on.

Hell, I've got two-plus years of unread Vanity Fair magazines sitting in our spare room. If I weren't such a doofus I'd have realized before now I could kill two birds with one stone.

Oh, well. I'm slow, but I get there eventually.

Friday, April 9, 2010

math makes it worse

Nobody knows better than I do how big a doofus I am.

I've been whining about how fast I should be going during the running portions of the Couch to 5k program and all I had to do was turn to tha mathz.

The ninth week is nothing but run. Each session lasts 30 minutes. To run 5k in 30 minutes I have to run 10 kph.

How simple was that?

*sigh*

I dig out my trusty AppBox Lite app to do the conversion, and that's when I learn I should be running at 6.2 mph.

Oh, fuck.

Seriously, how else can I respond to that?

Considering I had to support myself on the treadmill during the five-minute portions of two of this week's runs - when I was running 4.5 mph - this was not good news. In fact, after Monday and Wednesday I realized I should slow my pace to 4 mph to successfully complete the last Week 4 session (it worked, by the way).

The upside is having two goals instead of one. They are: 1. to get to the point where I can run for 30 minutes non-stop; and 2. to get strong enough to run for 30 minutes at 6.2 mph.

Breaking the goal into two parts means I can take the pressure off this time around. It also provides an explanation for the lack of dramatic weight loss. Besides the exercise I've been counting calories for the last two weeks using Lose It!, another iPhone app, and I should be losing one pound a week. That hasn't started to show yet, partly because my sodium intake has been a tad high and I'm undoubtedly retaining water. Now that I understand I'm not exactly running at race-pace I feel a little less frustrated about the (missing) results.

It's difficult to believe I've finished four weeks of the program, however. I feel proud that I've made it this far and I'm excited the time has flown by so fast.

Monday, April 5, 2010

cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater

I cheated.

But only with my arms. My legs still did what they were supposed to.

Week 4 of Couch to 5k is evil. It's exponentially tougher than Week 3, which I've already complained about. In fact, now that I think about it, I've seen every new week as profoundly more difficult than the previous one, haven't I?

That's pretty lame.

Still, here's the deal for the fourth week: I ran for three minutes (easier than last week, but not by much), walked for one-and-a-half, ran for five minutes, walked for two-and-a-half, ran for three, walked for one-and-a-half, then ran a final five.

You've got to admit: 16 minutes is quite a bit different from nine, which is all I did last week.

But I cheated this time.

For the last two minutes of the first five-minute run I held on to the treadmill. For the second five-minute run I held on for the last two-and-a-half.

I don't think I would have made it otherwise. It could be that I psyched myself out, it could be the four light beers I drank yesterday (Easter with family - need I say more?) took too much out of me, it could be that 16 minutes is quite a bit different from nine.

I'll find out on Wednesday, when I do it again.

Friday, April 2, 2010

a triple play

Well, the last run for this week is done. I had to wait to do it this morning because I didn't eat last night's dinner in time to work out before Dad and Dotty started watching their evening movie, but with today being a holiday it wasn't difficult to fit into my day.

All that's left is to do some laundry and figure out if the South African hottie and I are going to take an overnight trip later.

I spent last night consuming television programs: Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, 24.... And then, just as I was about to sleep, a friend IM'd me to let me know he'd been thinking of me lately.

Yes, he's in his 20s.

Yes, he meant it in 'that' way.

Yes, he'd been drinking.

*sigh*

Still, this one's different. He's a great guy, really kind and generous. He's easy to talk to and when I first met him I actually did consider him as a potential object-of-affection. He plays poker for a living and he's articulate, intelligent and thoughtful.

But dammit, he's in his 20s. And I can't help but think that his parents are essentially my peers.

Besides, I'm not interested in mixing it up with anyone but the South African hottie. Oh, and Nestor Carbonell. Or even Hiroyuki Sanada.

(And I adore Michael Emerson, of course, but he's too good for me.)

I'm an equal opportunity slut, but only if they're over 40 and have worked on LOST.

Seems like monogamy is in my future after all.