Sunday, October 30, 2011

A case of the blahs

I've been avoiding posting here, because I feel like I'm in a negative mood lately. It's true that the shit has been hitting the fan more than usual in my life, but I also can't seem to shake this slight "I'm overwhelmed so I don't give a fuck" attitude. Paralysis has been nipping at my heels the last few weeks, so what do I do? Go out an run a 10K, because that makes a ton of sense. Now I feel defeated and overwhelmed! Yay me.

I've tried to look at the positives in this race attempt. I went into it  not knowing if my foot was OK enough to actually race. A bad shoe purchase made my foot extra sore. That was a mistake. The idea in my head for the race was that I would use the 10K as a tempo run, which I pretty much did. After the fact, I'm suddenly on my own back for not actually racing the thing. It's a weird feeling, but I didn't even know if I could race a 10K. There were times in the race where I felt completely overwhelmed. Even the nice long hills, which I usually love, seemed daunting, especially with the overly vocal guy screaming out various complaints the entire way. "LEGS, HAMSTRINGS, GAAH, THIS HURTS, UGGH!!" I was overly angry with having to listen to that. God am I pissed that I allowed him to sprint by me at the finish. What's frustrating is that I had no clue how hard to push it, so I kept backing off the pace. I had a slightly faster last mile, but by that time, it was too late. And wow- everyone annoyed me in the race. At one point, I wanted to elbow the guy following a little too closely on the slightly windy section that was run on the dirt. I mean, he had the whole fucking road. I kept thinking, "either pass me or move the fuck over!" Instead, he just sat on my ass. In the past, I would have dropped it into a faster gear and dropped the guy, but I didn't have the confidence or energy this time. I'm hugely disappointed, even though I know I should look at it in a more positive light.

My race report was the following:

warm up + 10K in 46:3X Everything was annoying me, so I knew I was having a bad day. It's my slowest 10K to date. I didn't even make the top 10. Oh well. I got through it, despite the guy breathing down my neck as if it was some kind of national meet, the guy grunting and yelling odd things the entire way and the people who made getting a cup of water into a game of tug of war. I think I muttered fuck a few times and said something about needing to let go to the people at the water station. I was a bit of a grump. Oy. About the only good thing was rallying when a lady gave me some encouraging words at the end. I was about to jog it in when she came up beside me and said, "Let's go!" I can't say I sprinted to the finish, but I did pick it up a little. I finished just a hair in front of her and made sure to thank her for her kindness. I can tell I didn't push hard though, because I was completely recovered by the time I handed my bib number to the race official at the end. I need to learn how to push it again in races. I've got the fear and some mental blah thingy going on. Sigh. Actually, there was more good news. The other good news is that I'm not as crampy and nauseous after the whole cyst ordeal, though last night I had some minor issues after the race. Still, I think any improvement in that dept is good. Another good thing was meeting new and old friends after the race. I even did a cool-down with my old running partner! We haven't run together in years, so it was great to catch up with her. After breaking her foot not too long ago, she ran a little over an hour in the 10K, but she had also run Imogene recently. 

OK, enough of my whining and complaining.

Later in the day, I was able to get my mind off of the not so great race effort by focusing on work. I did notice that my foot was exceptionally sore, but I gave the Dr. a call to see if something can't be done. Later, a friend of mine invited me to go to a fundraiser inducting a few athletes into the new Boulder Athletic Hall of Fame. It was interesting. Had I known that my high school coach would be presenting one of the awards, I might have thought twice about going, but I'm glad I went for a little while. I got to say hello to a few friends and say thank you to Lorraine Moller in person for writing my foreword. She is such an amazing lady and so kind. It was really nice to see her.

My mom is finally home and doing better.

I'll end things here, but I will say that I have been writing, just not much on this blog. Here is the link to another blog post I wrote recently about the SCAR project, something I think is definitely worth mentioning. The manuscript is coming to an end, so I will keep everyone posted about that too.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Not exactly Writer's Block

It's more that I don't feel like writing. Everything is off, and I'm not feeling all that well.

I'll be back eventually, but I'm taking a break from as many things as possible right now. I suddenly feel inadequate and don't know how to take care of whatever it is that's ailing me.

Friday, October 21, 2011

No more race plans

It's time to stop making race plans. It seems the minute I make them, something catastrophic happens. Well, for me, getting sick is a bit of a tragedy. This time I had my eye on a fun little race that seemed almost perfect for me. The only drawback was that there weren't any big hills on the course. Still, the race is a 10K on soft surfaces scheduled later in the morning on Saturday - nice! And then, without warning, I end up in the hospital Wednesday night. Actually, it was Thursday morning, but close enough.

Fortunately, my running partner persuaded me to go to the hospital and was available to take me. I don't think I could have gotten myself there with this kind of pain in my abdomen. For a moment, I was convinced an angry alien was trying to claw its way out of me. I'm overwhelmed with guilt though, because we hit a rabbit on the way over, and despite this being a clear case of a suicidal animal sprinting from out of nowhere directly into the headlights, it felt like some kind of ominous sign foretelling more bad things to come. Either that or it really was one of those fluke accidents that just sort of happens. Either way, I am still feeling bad that the rabbit was hit.

Pain rated in smiley faces
The whole time I was in the hospital, I kept thinking (besides how the hell am I going to pay for this?), "I wonder if I can get out and go for a run Thursday." There were all kinds of delays, even after the diagnosis of a possible ruptured ovarian cyst was given and I started to feel better. Of course the Dilaudid haze was wonderful early on when the pain was at least an 8 out of 10 on the frowy face scale. Actually, I did cry, which looks like that puts me at a 9 or 10 on the scale, but it was a combination of not wanting to go to the hospital and the pain, not just the pain. Man, that rush of feeling that everything is just fine after the Dilaudid is injected into the IV is something else. Because no cyst was actually found, only fluid in my belly that is usually the result of when those things rupture, they couldn't be sure it really was a cyst, even though all the nurses were convinced it was. I ended up having to be admitted to a room, where I watched The Price is Right and at least one other bad, daytime television show. There wasn't even a magazine around to read. I also slept. I can't believe how much I slept yesterday, and I'm still tired! When I finally did get out, I eventually put my running gear on, only to slowly walk-stagger at an incredibly sow pace to the top of the street and back. That was it, no run at all.

I'm still lacking energy today. It's as if someone slipped some scrambled tranquilizers into my breakfast. I honestly feel like I could sleep all day. Sigh. A friend of mine is convinced this is due to a lack of chocolate. She might be right. I'm not even a full month into my 3 months of no chocolate, and I'm already wishing I would have bailed. Now it's too late. It's like getting into a workout not feeling great, but knowing you're already committed. There's no stopping now, even with the temptation of some fine chocolates from Belgium. Carob doesn't cut it, but I did find some carob confections that are a step above what I've had in the past. Somehow adding coconut oil to anything results in a total upgrade. That's really all I can see that is different about these carob treats compared to others. These have coconut oil in them, and somehow that makes them SO MUCH BETTER. It's still not chocolate-not even close, but they're actually kind of good. Still, carob doesn't satisfy me as much as chocolate. I feel like I'm walking around missing something in my life. It's chocolate. It's not the same rush as a bit of Dilaudid, but it does make my brain go, "ahhhh." Carob doesn't quite do that. I found these treats at both Alfalfa's and the Boulder Bookstore.

Check it out: Heavenly Carob Confections.

So no more planning races, at least for a little bit. If one jumps out at me, I'm not going to make any definite plans to run. I can't afford another illness right now, literally!

OK, wish me luck. I'm about to carry my throbbing head out the door for a little jog. I hope this time I can actually jog and also get past the top of the street.

AND OMG! LEFTTURNREALFAST- I found a store that carries little ficelles ! As I have said before, when it comes to bread, I'm all about the crust. Well, a ficelle is a long skinny baguette that's almost all crust. They are PERFECT for me! I can't wait to buy one soon. Mmmmm Bread.

The one I saw in the store was even thinner than this one, which looks almost like a regular baguette, but you get my point.

BTW, I saw I had a few grammatical errors in a few of my posts. Sometimes I get too in my head when writing and forget to check for little things like subject-verb agreement. I'll try to do a better job about correcting those things.   :/

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Bread Blog or a Blog Roll?

Apparently I need a camera. It seems that many pictures are what makes a blog popular, especially if the images are of things you like to eat- some oatmeal, a cup of fruit or dessert in various stages of being eaten. It's supposedly even better if these things are healthy. Of course I can't leave out bread in what's considered the best in the blogging world. Bead seems to be a big hit. People get all excited about it. It's not quite the same as chocolate, which can cause people to become more than a little obsessed, but lately all things doughy seem to generate extreme interest. Therefore, the following is a toast (get it?? toast?) to bread.

I found the funniest blog post the other day in a blog called Bread for the Boys. Actually it's the title that's funny, not the actual post. The post is called The Yeasty Boys. I know it's not horribly exciting, but I found the name cute. Plus, the recipe and photos are nice. I've become intrigued with bread after making fun of people who post a slew of images of rolls and slices of bread and toast in their blogs. Of curse, these are generally the same people who think that everyone is interested in seeing the same bowl of yogurt, fruit and cereal that was in the last 20 posts. It's always a thrill when the bowl is tilted at a slightly different angle, or the author uses raspberries instead of blueberries. That's a thrill. It's possible that my story about pulling bread innards out of my Ciabatta rolls wasn't a highlight of this blog, so I'm on a mission to do bread some justice, while testing the theory that pictures of bread make a blog popular. Still, I'm challenging myself to write a post about bread that will be more interesting (hopefully) than posting a ton of images like this:


         It's not gourmet magazine, but it seems to generate an incredible amount of interest.

When I was in France, my mom and I had some fabulous bread. It's not uncommon to see people in the evenings on their way home from work, carrying a fine baguette with the end missing. The end is my favorite part. I think I have already explained that I'm all about the crust. Being from France, my mother often brought home french goodies from a local gourmet shop. It was natural that I grew up consuming baguettes instead of Wonder Bread. In addition to my quest to find LeNotre in Paris, a shop that carries some of the best chocolates in the world, my mom and I were determined to find the world famous Poilane bakery. After giving up on LeNotre after several days of not being able to find it, we stumbled upon it in the antique district. The chocolates were, indeed, phenomenal - by far some of the best I have ever eaten. Eventually we found Poilane's Bakery too. I remember walking in and being overwhelmed by the beauty of the boules. We bought two boules (I love that word)- one to eat in France and one to smuggle back to the United States. We also brought back loads of chocolate, cheese and a few other items. Getting through customs was a little tricky. I thought I might have to pretend that the aroma coming from the stinky cheese was my dirty socks, but the guy in charge merely laughed and said, "what, they don't feed you in the United States?" I responded with, "Not this kind of food!"

Beautiful Boules of Bread

Bread in Europe, as I have said before, is not like bread here. There are a few places in Boulder that make exceptionally good bread, but in general, it's hard to find. I can't stand squishy bagels, soft baguettes and English muffins that lack those little holes. What I do like are bagels that are hard on the outside and chewy with air holes on the inside. Baguettes should be crunchy on the outside and light and airy on the inside, and English muffins need to have holes, people!

For this next part, let me use the the Ciabatta roll as an example, because I'm into that kind of bread lately. I'll take you through what I consider to be the best and the worst when it comes to this yeasty baked good.

Ciabatta bread should be light. It shouldn't feel like a cinder block in your hand. The outer crust should be rustic, fairly hearty and crunchy, none of that soft bullshit. I don't want to be able to squeeze my bread like a roll of toilet paper on a T.V. ad. The insides should not be compressed or overly soft. Instead, the brinnards (yes it is now a real UD term!) should be slightly chewy with plenty of air holes. Here's a good example of the inside of a Ciabatta roll:

Check out the holes! Awesome. 

Here is a not so good example of the innards:

Blah- look how compressed this shit is! 

Here's an example of how the crust should be:

Mmm - nice and crunchy!

And here is a crust that's not appropriate for this bread:

AAK! It's anemic and under-cooked. I bet it's all mushy too. 

Nothing beats good bread with a bit of butter. To me, it's often better than cake, though there are a few cakes that do make me swoon.Still, this kind of bread toasted with a pat of butter is divine.

That's all I got at the moment. As soon as I get a camera, I'll start posting images of cereal and sandwiches... Don't hold your breath though.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Getting there

It's amazing to see how editing can make a HUGE difference in writing. I've had several people contribute to my manuscript. It's getting to the final stages. I feel pretty much done with my part, but there is still work to do with what the editors have suggested. It will be formatted, and then it's off to my agent for round...I think I've lost count, but another round of submissions to publishers. I have a good feeling about this.

I decided to offer another excerpt from my book.

I'm very overwhelmed at the moment, and when I get this way, I often go into paralysis mode. I'm trying to take one task at a time, but I'm getting stuck wanting to do nothing but hang out on the internet for distraction. Unfortunately, I have had to try to get my ass in gear, despite everything going on including my cold, my mom having to have surgery and my lack of motivation.

Last night my cat attacked a roll of toilet paper. I had just watched American Horror Story, so seeing the slayed roll in the middle of the floor in the bathroom was a little eerie, especially before the light was turned on. I'm glad that my cat is willing to take great risks for me though. Somehow it's reassuring that he would attack the toilet paper and leave the remains for me to see. Yeah, he has my back.

Here is the first part of Chapter One:

Chapter 1: My So-Called Life

“An illness is like a journey into a far country; it sifts all one’s experience and removes it to a point so remote that it appears like a vision..” -Sholem Asch

On an exceptionally cold February night in 1997, after a series of seizures, I was rushed to the hospital with chest pain and shortness of breath. At the age of 30, I weighed 80 pounds. I wasn’t expected to make it through the night. However, to everyone’s surprise and amazement, including my own, I pulled through. It was obvious that I needed help, but since none of the nearby eating-disorder treatment facilities had any openings, I was moved to the hospital’s cancer unit for three days in order to stabilize. I found it disturbingly ironic that I was surrounded by people fighting for their lives, while I was slowly killing myself.

Starvation is considered one of the most slow and painful ways to die. The body can last a long time without food. Typically, people who starve themselves don’t die from an actual lack of food, but from related complications. As the body starts eating itself to keep the brain functioning, muscles and organs begin to atrophy. Organ failure or a heart attack is a common end for anorexics.

The entire time I was in the hospital, I was prodded, probed and tested. I was hooked to an intravenous saline drip in order to regulate my electrolytes. I slept in short shifts, a few hours at a time throughout both the days and nights, taking Tylenol for the excruciating headaches that manifested as my body fought for equilibrium. I ate even less than I had been eating before hospitalization, and I was exhausted from all the blood draws and tests being performed. The longer the lab-rat routine continued, the weaker I became. At one point, a nurse led me to a shower where, after just a few minutes standing on my own, my legs started to quiver beneath me. Once the fastest high school athlete in all of Colorado, there I was, unable to even stand on my own two feet. I sat down on the shower’s built-in bench and cried as the water splashed over my skin.

After the third day of tests, the doctors told me they wanted to keep me in the hospital a few more days to run even more tests. I was no expert, but the problem seemed pretty obvious to me: My body was malnourished and completely depleted. In short, I was too thin. More tests, it seemed to me, were not going to reveal anything more about my condition, so I threw a minor tantrum and was released. Sleep deprived, emotionally spent and bruised from all the IV’s and other needling, I headed home. The freedom of merely being outside in the fresh air after three solid days of being stuck in the hospital was overwhelming.

There are people whose lives are complicated by some kind of addiction all around. Many of these people are in denial or accept their addiction as part of who they are, often adhering to the adage, “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.” There are others who live with the agony of knowingly operating below their true potential, yet are unable to change. They are intelligent and honest, open about their self-inflicted enslavement, yet completely frustrated by their inability to stop their self-sabotaging behavior. However, there are a lucky few who see beyond their addiction, finding both the courage and the astounding strength to break free from their addictions and jump full force into the unknown territory of recovery.

Heidi is one of these lucky few. I met her shortly before I wound up in the hospital. Over time, she became my mentor and my friend, my counselor and my inspiration. Radiant and strong, Heidi is the kind of person who lights up the room when she enters, a goddess if there ever was one. Her compassion and wisdom go far beyond the realm of what is considered normal in this world. I was immediately drawn to her.

When she was young, Heidi was bulimic. Over time, she forced herself to throw up so much that the acid from her stomach began to irritate her esophagus. At one point, she vomited so much blood that she nearly died right there on her bathroom floor. As she lay with her head on the floor, half passed out, Heidi decided she didn’t want to die, that there had to be a way out. And just like that, she stopped binging and purging. It’s almost unheard of to have the bravery and the will to do something like that, but Heidi had an idea that a brilliant destiny and a better life were awaiting her. She became one of the few women I know who fully beat an eating disorder. I know a lot of women in various stage of recovery; a few have found a way out. Heidi is one of these few.

The rest of the chapter deals with my low point and how I got there. Really, I just wanted to post something of interest, because while I have been working on the rewriting and editing, I haven't been blogging anything substantial lately.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Oh Hai!

I've been avoiding blogging lately. Meanwhile, other bloggers are aggressively posting pictures of pieces of bread on their blogs, which seems to generate great interest from readers while slightly irritating me. Speaking of bread, there's a long and interesting debate about bread insides unfolding on my facebook page. I have even submitted a possible new word to the Urban Dictionary on behalf of a friend because of it. He coined the term "brinnard" which is bread innards. He also wants to make round croutons, which I think is a brilliant idea. Anyway, I hate the soft squishy insides of rolls, so I feel the need to gut them. I'm all about the crust.

This is day two of 0 mileage. I've been sick with a cold. I was having an OK week in terms of running, while the rest of my world was falling apart. There was a race on Saturday that I was considering running. Unfortunately, I woke up with a sore throat and a fever. I went from:
Maybe I can run the race
I should just do a hard workout instead
Actually, I don't have the energy, so I'll just run easy
How 'bout a quick little jog/walk
I should stick my nose out the door or go for a walk
Ahh fuck it, I'm going back to bed. It's raining anyway. Who wants to be out in this crap?

I had some not so good news about my foot. I will talk to the Dr. again next week. I don't feel like going into detail, but I will say that it's the joint just in front of where I had the surgery that is now the issue. It's something that I was told could be a problem once my foot adjusted to a new position after the surgery. Still, I was really hoping it wouldn't come to this. Now I've got bone on bone when my arch drops too low, which happens pretty much each step. That, and I have a trapped nerve, which I suspected after the surgery.

So I'm in a funk, and my mom is in the hospital after having surgery. I got a few days off work, so this is basically my vacation, sitting home doing not a whole lot. But I needed it.

Tomorrow will be better, I'm sure.

I'll have more to say at a later date.

On the bright side, Lorraine Moller has written the foreword to my book. I am thrilled. I've also had time to work a bit on the manuscript. It still needs quite a lot of work, but it's getting there. It's more complete and polished now thanks to some suggestions and edits from various people.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Racing after the fact

Holy crap I have fallen out of the blogging mode lately. Actually, I haven't had time or energy, so I'm putting off what I *should* be doing in order to get a post written. I don't even feel like a writer lately. I don't feel like a runner either, but I'll get into that later. This is a time where there are too many things not going right, but nothing is tragically wrong. I *should* be happy, but I'm not really getting the urge to smile much these days. My foot is better but not at all 100 percent, and my pelvis is a tad off as a result. I'm doing hard workouts faster, but it's not even close to where I'd like to be. Too many things in my life are in limbo, and it took me days to make edits and rewrite 2 chapters. At this rate, I might be done next year. I really need to pick up the ball, get on top of things and discontinue the slack here.

This is off the topic, but I will get back on track in addition to achieving all those other things about doing better that I mentioned. ...  Sometimes I read people's blogs or hear runners talk about the causes of their injuries, and can't help but think that there is so much denial floating around. I'm sure I do it too. In fact, I know I do. However, there are people who are clearly and obviously out of balance in their lives who will go into great rationalizations about what specific mineral or vitamin they are lacking or getting too much of rather than admit they are doing something else that is the real culprit. For example, there's this anorexic chick who keeps insisting that her injuries are due to not enough potassium in her diet, as if eating a banana will stop the stress fractures. Actually, if she would eat a fucking banana, I think everyone would feel better. My point is that I doubt that the injuries she gets (and she gets quite a lot) are from a lack of potassium. This girl is visibly underweight and trains like someone aiming to run the HardRock 100. And if anyone says anything, she will become completely defensive and start rationalizing about how it's not a lack of calories. Yes, we know, it's all about the potassium. Uh huh. Do people like this really think they are fooling anyone? I have to wonder.

Most people around her have given up hope that she will do things differently. They assume she will continue to go down the same path expecting different outcomes. It's true that she will likely continue to over-train and under-eat and blame the potassium for her injuries. I know how it is. I used to do something similar, only I never blamed a mineral for what I was doing to myself. Still, I get it. It's odd that I tend to have more hope when it comes to others, but what if someone else is going down the same road, and suddenly they DO veer left and surprise the heck out of everyone? It's always possible. One can always hope, even if it seems impossible.

Very quickly, I was going to run the Rocky Mountain Shootout, but I got too much in my head. I did a hard workout with hill repeats on Tuesday, and started to feel a bit sore and off the day before the race. Actually, everything felt wrong, and I kept thinking that I would make an ass of myself running with those ladies. I mean, these are collegiate runners in their prime doing fast workouts, and some are Olympic caliber. So I slept in and ran the course after the fact. It was hot, and I felt like I kind of slacked in parts (another slacking issue, yes). However, the effort, especially considering that it wasn't a race, wasn't too terrible. I ran 27:42, and that included a few seconds where I had to stop and tie my shoe when it came undone. I guess if I hadn't stopped, I might have run at least 5 seconds faster or so. The time with the shoe tying fiasco would have put me in about 131st place or so, which sounds horrible but at least isn't LAST place! Here are the results of the real race. it's one of those things though where I *should* be happy with how things are coming along, all things considered, but I'm feeling limited and frustrated still. And now today all I want to do is crawl back into bed. I know if I get moving I'll probably feel better, but my head is being a Debbie Downer lately. Uggh.

I'm day 4 into the no chocolate thing. It's amazing how a little piece of chocolate can make things better. What's the saying? Dip it in chocolate and it will be fine? Something like that. That yogurt shit and carob are alright, but nothing compares to chocolate, nothing!

OK sorry but this just screams this video:

Sob. Chocolate...Oh how I miss you.

Well, I have more to say, but it's already almost 10AM, and I have too much to do again on my day off. I'm hoping to do a race or two in the next month or so. I'll hopefully get back into blogging more regularly too. I did create a blog for SmithKlein Gallery. It's just a fun little thing, but I hope people enjoy reading it.