Friday, May 18, 2012

Mixed Bag

I'm a total mixed bag of emotions lately. When was the last time that I blogged? Didn't look before I started this post, but I think it was a couple of weeks ago. At any rate, what's been going on?

For starters... This finally happened. FINALLY!!!!!

Cheers! Celebrating with sparkling peach faux champagne. 

20 months of graduate school... DONE! I earned an M.A. in General English Studies from Northern Arizona University last Friday. Now I'm eligible to teach more than basic writing at my community college! ENG 102, here I come!

I can't tell you how excited I was (am) to be finished. You think 26.2 miles is long? This felt like the longest marathon ever, and I can't tell you how many times I wanted to QUIT. Doing homework on planes, in hotel bathrooms (while everyone else slept--didn't want to disturb them), on vacations, during classes that I taught (when my class was testing or writing), when my kids were sick next to me on the couch, etc. There was never really a break until now! I am so grateful that I had the support of my husband throughout it all, and I'm happy that the boys got to see their mother graduate from college (again). Education is a lifelong pursuit, and I hope that getting a glimpse of this academic achievement of mine drove that point home to them. 

Or not. Who am I kidding? They were mostly excited by the non-alcoholic beverages we had before the commencement ceremony. 

Other exciting things...

I've been trying to eat clean. Want to know what I just ate for dessert?

Chocolate mousse made with avocado. What the what?

Believe it or not, it's actually pretty good. I got the recipe from a friend in Baltimore and decided to try it when I got home. Here it is if you're feeling adventurous:

Sheryl Crow’s Decadent Raw Vegan Chocolate Mousse
2 large ripe avocados
1/2 cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup agave nectar, plus more to taste
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 pint fresh raspberries, or whatever berry you have on hand
1. Cut a ripe avocado in half. Use a big knife to grab the pit and turn to remove. Spoon out the meat of the avocado and then blend to break it down a bit.
2. Add in cocoa powder, agave nectar, vanilla extract, and almond extract and blend for 1 to 2 minutes, making sure every part is included.
3. Refrigerate overnight and serve in martini glasses with garnish.
This Sunday was supposed to be the Pasadena Marathon, but instead, there is no marathon for me and I'm single-momming it while my husband is schmoozing folks in TX for his next (potential) set of orders. ((Sigh)).
On a good note, I did another test run this am, and it was a roaring success. It was exactly the type of run that I was hoping for. I ran 4 pain-free miles at a little under a 9 minute-mile pace. SUCCESS!
Am I jumping for joy?
I'm happy, but I can't say that I'm wildly enthusiastic, to be honest.
Would you be thrilled running in this for the next 4-5 months?
I'm relieved that my injury seems to be clearing up, but at the same time, I'm bummed that I'm entering survival mode for the next several months. Summer running here is awful. As I've lost some fitness, I'm also unsure of my goals and my direction. There's also the consideration of how I ended up injured in the first place. It's apparent to me now more than ever that I really can't afford to neglect my strength training. I truly was enjoying my ever-increasing mileage... What to do for balance though? I'm not sure that I can do both: lots of miles and lots of weights. Over the past 5 weeks, I've been putting in some quality hours at the gym, and I've really enjoyed the weight training and the new strength classes that I've been doing. I'd love to continue to keep up that aspect of my training, but doing both is a huge challenge. It's going to take some time to figure it all out. Not to mention that my boys are out of school in 1 week, which adds a whole new challenge to everything.
So much to think about... There really is never a dull moment in this girl's life!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Not Quite

So my running attempt last Saturday was a big, fat flop.

5 miles.... At the end, a little voice said, "Let's not do that again anytime soon," and I gingerly walked back home and proceeded to ice my back.


It served as a reminder that the injury process is a lot like potty training. 1 step forward... 2 steps back.

This week has been another step forward. I'm back on the Alter G and able to do 70% of my body weight with pain level = nuisance

The tricky thing with the Alter G, however, is that running 8:50 min/miles sans nearly 40 pounds of body weight (70% of about 130 pounds) actually feels like I'm running 10:00 min/miles. So to try and continue to keep up my cardiovascular fitness, I'm incorporating the ARC Trainer in there as well. That thing kicks my ass. The plan for now is to do 2 days of AG, 1 day ARC Trainer, repeat. I may do some pool running on Sunday. We'll see.

I've also been hitting the weights hard. And core. Here is my new favorite exercise. I like to do it after doing a few minutes of regular planks and/or crunches.


And no. I can't get to Z yet.
(I do it with both of my knees off the ground.)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Adventures in Injury

What to say since the last time I blogged? Well, for starters, Pasadena is OUT. It's ok. I've made my peace. I decided to let it go, since the whole point of the race was to PR for a better chance at getting into Boston 2013. I could do the half, but there really is no good reason, to be honest. Sure, I'm out $90 for my race fee, but if you factor in the gas, lodging, and food costs of the weekend... I'm actually saving money in the end.

My back is getting better. Slowly but surely. I went out of town last Friday-this Tuesday (for my godson's First Communion and to visit family in Chicago) and took 5 days off. I did do some core/hip/glute exercises a couple of times, but that was it. My back felt rough, and over the weekend, I went through a period where I felt like I had piraformis syndrome. What the hell?!?! At any rate, that dissipated. Today was the first day that I woke up feeling NO PAIN. Yay! Of course, as the day has gone on, my pinch-y/twing-y back sensations have been noticeable but not terrible. It hasn't precluded any of my cross-training. Today, I managed to try out a machine called the ARC Trainer in my gym.

Looks like a more horrible version of an elliptical. But it's not!

This thing was awesome. I mean, don't get me wrong. Machines SUCK! But I got a great workout on this beast. I did an hour of the "Pike's Peak" program, so my ass felt like it was going to spontaneously combust by hour's end (one could only hope... no such luck). I also noticed that it was easier on my knees and that my feet didn't fall asleep like they normally do on an elliptical. Sweet!

You Tube has a great video on the ARC Trainer that explains the physics and such behind this machine. I highly recommend it if you are laid up and would like a break from the monotony of other machines (elliptical, bike, etc), as well as pool running (which I've been doing... in my backyard pool! Yikes! BORING!).

Tomorrow is a test 4-miler to see how everything holds up. I'm hoping that with continued core work/weights and chiro trips ( X 3 per week) that this will be cleared up by the end of the month. Fingers crossed!