Saturday, 27 June 2015

Food Planning

I've always noticed I've done better maintaining or losing weight when I've been more prepared with buying and prepping food. For someone who worked in a kitchen prepping food for years and actually likes to cook I'm not so good at this. I get stuck in a rut. I cannot wait when I am hungry or I get angry. I end up cooking the same easy fast meals, if you can call them that, all the time. Cereal for dinner is not a meal! A pint of ice-cream is not a meal!
I'm currently going lighter on the exercise, to have a break and also to let my back heal properly before jumping back into working out. I always find it easier to lose weight when not exercising so much because I'm not hungry all the time. On the other hand not exercising also means I can't eat as much as I'm used to, so time to really watch what I eat!
Technology to the rescue. Instead of old pen and paper planning I decided to go with an app. I always lose my paper plans and shopping lists. I got Pepper Plate (free) which lets me import receipes, plan meals and make a shopping list on line or on my iPad.

I've had fun finding new things to try out. I'm trying to be realistic in my receipe selections. Would I eat it? Is it lowish calories? Is it made from real unprocessed foods? How much will all this stuff cost? Is there enough protein in it? Even with my selection process I've ended up scratching my head at some of the ingredients...liquid smoke (how is that even possible or non-toxic?).
I like that I can use the iPad as my cookbook when I'm cooking, it's not just a glorified social media source. 
Last night I made some crunchy zucchini with chickpeas and other good stuff. It was fun to make something new and nice to remember that I actually like to cook. So far so good. 
This weekend I'm going to work on preparing some meals or at least the longer parts (like baking a potato) and continue to try new recipes. If anyone has any good, simple vegetarian/vegan recipes feel free to share!!

Friday, 26 June 2015

Training week starting June 22nd

So I left my updates last week when I was in too much pain to do anything other than lie on the floor for most of the week. I couldn't even sit in a chair. Now I'm trying to let my back heal properly but its reached the point where I need to move to loosen it up and test it out.

Woke up too sore to do anything

30 minutes in the indoor pool at 7am. The pool was COLD but nice, especially when I spend >90% of my time too hot lately. I enjoyed the swim more than usual. Normally I'm tired from running when I swim, now I think my crazy mind is crying out for any form of exercise ha ha.

30 minutes walking with the pup in the evening and a little splashing in the river with his buddy to cool off.

30 minutes swimming at lunchtime in the outdoor pool. This was heaven. The first time in a long time that I was sad to leave the pool. The water was beautiful and the sun was shining, all 92 degrees of it. My shoulder was a bit tired after yesterday but I figure its a good way to build it back up while waiting for my lower back to be ready for weights again.

Rest and a little dog washing

30 minutes in the outdoor pool at lunchtime. It was 97˚F so the water was really nice. I'm starting to think that I could convert to swimming in the summer. So much better than barely staying a step ahead of heat stroke.

Martina was going to work for a short while so I went along and hit the outdoor pool for 45 minutes (and around 2100 meters, I think)  in between thunderstorms. It rained for a few laps, the rainwater was cold compared to the pool and even colder compared to the 95 degree air. 

Rest if you exclude the four miles I walked around the mall trying to find a dress for an event in a couple of weeks. My back has felt the best  today. I'm happy that it's continuing to improve and my time in the pool isn't hurting it.

I'm kind of proud of myself for making the effort to stay active this week instead of letting my back be an excuse but to be honest it was easy. Maybe my problem with swimming is the indoor pool, I'm so spoilt I want to swim outside all the time! I'm going to try a short run tomorrow and see how I do with that. If it's ok I'll mix it in with swimming for another week or two until I'm back to my usual schelude. Hope everyone is doing well :) 

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Another week of lost training

I've had a very bad run of luck lately. After driving home all day on Sunday from WV last weekend, my back decided it had enough. My shoulders were fine but I seem to have compressed a different nerve in my lower back. Monday and Tuesday were agony. I was maxing out the amount of ibuprofen I could take with little effect. Then day by day it's been getting better. Yesterday was my first day with without any pain relief and today I managed to mow the garden. My right hip and lower back is still very tight but it doesn't feel like I'm being stabbed anymore. 
I don't think I'm ready for a run or weight lifting tomorrow so I'm gonna go swim and maybe it'll loosen it up a bit more. A soon as I'm ready guess what I'm gonna work on back!
In a funny coincidence Martina has back pain too. She got a mole removed from her back and now has six stitches. As I've gotten better I've tried to do as much as I can around the house and I'm now officially the nurse of the house. It's been a funny week here with us both hobbling around lol.
I'm really happy to be feeling better, back pain is no joke. One thing I'm not sad about is not being out running in the heat. We are having a record breaking June here in SC. The highs most days this week are hovering around 100 and the lows in the high 70s. Crazy, right? 
I'm a little worried about running in that heat when I'm back to 100%. How on earth did I marathon train all of/part of the last two summers! If I was that hardcore once I can do it again. 
I hope everyone is enjoying the last bit of their weekend :)

Thursday, 18 June 2015

New River Gorge, WV

I decided to drive home from the Hatfield-McCoy Half Marathon via a different route, one that would take us near the New River Gorge. This contains a national river. National parks I've heard of, national rivers thats a new one for me. Either way its a beautiful part of the Appalachians with lots of options for hiking, rafting and climbing.
After a 2.5 hour drive to the New River Gorge we picked a trail that would give us a decent amount of time out of the car without being too exhausted to drive the further 5 hours home. We also wanted a trail to give us a good view of the New River Gorge Bridge. For a long time this was the longest arch bridge in the US, now its the fourth biggest. Either way it looked cool. We picked the Long Point Trail. This was a nice hike though the forest that eventually emerged onto a rock outcropping with a great view of the bridge and the surrounding valley. It was also my first chance to test out my new camera!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Hatfield-McCoy (River Road) Half Marathon, West Virginia 2015

This weekend gone past I added another state to my 50 states adventure, West Virginia. The Hatfield-McCoy race like I'd mentioned before is themed around the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud. Like the feud all of the races take place over two states, Kentucky and West Virginia.
There was a full Marathon, two half marathon courses (first and second half of the full course) and a double half challenge. The double half challenge was essentially designed for 50 staters and/or Half Fanatics, as two halfs back to back but timed separately, to pick up two states or extra races. Personally, I'd rather run the full and call it a full marathon but thats my preference. 
Most clubs allow you to pick which state, you want to count for a race, if it takes place over two states. My race started and ended in West Virginia, so thats what I'm calling it as, especially since I have many options for races that I'd like to do in Kentucky versus not so many in WV.

I was a bit nervous going into this race as my training has been not that great. Besides my shoulder I've been really struggling with the heat and humidity...a 10 mile run the other week was almost the death of me...I may have laid on a park bench for a while to recover, ha ha. The race was no different than running in Columbia as the temperatures ended up much the same and the humidity was awful as well.
We drove up on Friday, stopping in one of my favorite cities, Asheville, for lunch. Then another few hours driving through the mountains. We got to Matewan, WV by 5pm and found our accommodation for the weekend. Accommodation choices for this race are severely limited. 1,000 runners split between two tiny towns leaves people fighting for beds. The local fire station even sets out cots that can accommodate a good few people. Since we had the dog with us those options were even narrower...I couldn't find anything that would allow a fuzzy cocker spaniel. Cue the search for camp sites. Everything was over 30 minutes away but then I found a 'Welcome Center' that had primitive camping. It was hilarious, it was a replica train depot (pretty cool) that we pretty much camped outside, about 15 feet from a railroad track. A real working one. At least 10 trains a night passed and I almost had 10 heart attacks a night lol. Thank goodness it had bathrooms.
After setting up camp we went to the Belfry High School for packet pickup. I got my number and t-shirt (which I really like).
There were a few vendors but nothing major. They had a pasta dinner and some entertainment set up in the High Schools gymnasium but I skipped that. A Hatfield and a McCoy showed up, shotguns and all.

The race the next morning started, less than a 5 minute walk down the road at 8am. It could probably have used an earlier start to allow for cooler conditions but this sleep deprived zombie was glad of the later start.  After a picture with my fellow Half Fanatics we were off and straight away passed onto Kentucky. Within a mile or two sweat was dripping off me. A few miles after that I started to see wet footprints, sweaty wet footprints. At least I wasn't the only sweat monster. The race was well prepared for the heat tho, all of the drinks had ice in them and several aid stations had giant coolers of ice so runners could grab some. I walked though all the aid stations drinking lots and towards the end of the race when I felt like I might be overheating I walked for longer to hold ice to my neck to cool my poor brain down a bit. Later on at the finish a few people collapsed from heat exhaustion so I was glad I played it safe.

The course for the first half course looked pretty standard (we drove most of it on our way to Matewan), nice scenery but lots of highway running, with one ginormas hill.  The second half was more entertaining. The first few miles were on what would be called a lane in Ireland. A narrow road with room for a single car. 
After 3.5 miles this became more like a trail with loads of gravel and another mile after that it was truly a trail with lots of stones and mud. I really enjoyed this part. Concentrating on the placement of my feet made me think about something other than the heat, it was a nice challenge. Then we emerged onto a golf course and ran across a wooden swinging bridge. 
I'll freely admit I freaked out a little on this as the gaps between the slats were wide and gave me full view of the ground 30 feet below. I would have been much better off running across but I tiptoed and coached myself along at a walk. After this we went on to highway running. The highway was a little rough at points. All along the course signs were up welcoming back previous participants.
There were a good few runners in the River Road Half but it was never over crowded but I don't think I was ever on my own for too long either (a nice balance).
There were lots of hills on this course but I'll take lots of little hills (and terrain changes) rather than one long giant uphill and downhill. I talked to some runners later who thought the course was really hard but I think if the heat was out of the equation it really wasn't bad at all. As I mentioned the aid stations were on point, I especially liked that towards the end, lots of them had cut fruit and gels. At mile 9 I had the best piece of watermelon I've tasted in my life and then a mile after than the best grapes. The volunteers were fantastic all around and this was a well organized race. 

I eventually stopped worrying about how I'd hold up to the miles and the heat and really enjoyed the run. Although I walked more towards the end, to cool off with ice, I felt really strong throughout the entire race. Other than a slight tightness at my collarbone my shoulder issue did not rear its ugly head.  I managed to reel in a few people in the last couple of miles.
The finish was in the small town of Williamson, WV. The race organizers were geniuses and set out shaded long tables and chairs along the finishing strip, keeping lots of people around despite the heat to cheer everyone on. Cheer they did. I came in alone to a massive cheer from the crowd...I've heard less noise from much larger crowds...maybe they were hitting the moonshine :)
The biggest cheers were for the kids races though, too cute!!

  My finish time was not so awesome 2.17.17, well over 20 minutes longer than my PR but I was very conservative with my pace for this race. I think everyone else was too because I got 3rd in my age group. DID NOT expect that. Finishers all got a moonshine jar and because I placed in my age group I got a label for the top to commemorate it. I thought this was a nice way of giving age group prizes without racking up a lot of extra expenses.
There was tons of fruit and drinks at the finish as well as massages. I eventually wandered off and spent 30 minutes trying to find a shuttle bus, when I did a really nice lady drove me the 20 mintues back to Matewan. I had a sink wash (yes no showers at the camp site), changed and then headed back to Williamson for the festivities. We had lunch at a nice little cafe, listened to some music and then cheered on some runners. After that we drove around (with wonderful AC) to some of the feud sites.

Thankfully an old guy that I think worked at the Welcome Center told us about showers at the other camping area near the trail heads. Dude, I didn't think I smelled from that much of a distance! Well we headed up there and I ended up showering in the mens bathroom...the women's shower did not work. I locked the door and had the fastest shower ever (cause I was paranoid someone was going to ask me why the hell I was in the mens). Either way I felt great after. The next day we drove off in search of hiking and the long drive home.
The race was amazing and meeting the local people was fun. The camping was different than our usual state parks or professional campgrounds. West Virginia was certainly an experience. We'll be back again for some more hiking soon. after all the driving we had made our way through 7 states in one weekend.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

West Virginia, Mountain Momma..take me to the finish

I'm very excited to road trip tomorrow to WV for the Hatfeild McCoy Half Marathon. This has been on my to do list from last year. Although it seems like forever since I headed of for a race weekend it really hasn't been that long but it is the first time we'll be camping this summer.
 This race is themed around the feud between the Hatfeild and McCoy families, it consists of a reunion weekend with a full marathon, two half courses and the double half marathon (essential a full timed in halves). A Hatfeild actually organizes the race. It should be fun!! As the race motto goes it'll be 'no feudin', just runnin'.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

The long road to getting a second dog--spoiler we aren't there yet

This guy loves being around other dogs and now the urge for a second dog has come bounding out of nowhere. 
Maybe because now that he is two (and a bit), we've realized we have raised a pretty great dog. What's better than one dog...two together. I'd love to get a female (to prevent any fighting) Cocker Spaniel. 

Why another purebred dog?
 I have nothing against mutts, I grew up with them. However, even though each dog is different some personality traits and mannerisms shine through in breeds time after time. This is important to me because owning a dog when you work 9-5 can be a pretty selfish thing. To offset that I want a dog I can train and make comfortable, so there is no separation anxiety, who like Boomer will happily sleep for the day while we work but be ready to go adventure in our time off. I know cocker spaniels and knowing a dogs tendencies and being able to read them makes training easier. If I was at home all day I'd get any breed/mix/mutt.

There are two main considerations for us:
Money: if anyone ever tells you dogs are cheap just get one, they LIE! A puppy costs money upfront (from a reputable breeder $700-1000, from a shelter here $300-400). Then a puppy needs to see a vet every 2-3 weeks until it is 4 months old, at a minimum of $40 a visit (if you are lucky). Then it needs to be be neutered or spayed (anywhere from $20-subsidized to $500). Now that Boomer is grown he still probably costs us on average $100 per month. The love you get in return is priceless but you make a lifelong commitment to an animal so it best to go in with your eyes open. 

Time and changes: Boomer was a crazy puppy. We had to watch him every second of the day. No corner was left unturned, no cable, sofa or rug unchewed. Getting up 2-3 times a night for the first month or two was not so fun either. Travelling would also be affected with a puppy as I wouldn't board it overnight while young but it's difficult to travel with one until they've finished all their shots. That beach trip to the Keys (planning for Oct) might be a bit less adventurous as a result. Even an older dog will need time to adjust and involve a lot of training.

I'm looking at two main avenues:
 1.) Obviously buying a puppy. However, now after my first dog I realize what an industry exists around puppy breeding and not always with the dogs interest in mind. A good breeder rarely makes money off dogs when you take all the expenses into account, hence the steep price tag. Those puppies that are so cute and cheap probably come from a puppy mill, as corners will be cut to produce a puppy at that price. We've found a breeder that, rarely breeds, health tests all her dogs and breeds for quality. While I'm not so worried about a champion pedigree, I am about how the breeder treats all her animals and then the health of the puppy I might buy. Yes it's expensive but that price tag comes with peace of mind.

2.) Adopting a slightly older dog. This reduces the expense--no puppy shots or spaying. Then it's also lovely to be able give an abandoned animal a second chance.  However, an older dog is not as mouldable and may suffer side-effects of having been abused. When I see dogs like this I'm looking for a confident easy going personality. That is easier to work with than a very timid dog, plus Boomer really does not get along with submissive dogs.

 We've seen two dogs now (one even breaking the female rule). They both were cute, of course, but came with serious health issues. One was likely to die within two years due to serious heart problems. Not good when we want to have Boomer bond with this dog. 
The most recent, Alanis, was heart worm positive, something we didn't know until we met her. The rescue pays for the very expensive treatment but for the 3-4 months she'd be getting the treatment her heart rate would have to be kept low. No running, playing or anxiety of any sort. So playing with Boomer would be out and so would travel. In the long term the worms may have damaged her heart so running (with me) and hiking would probably be out for life. It was very hard to say no to her as she had the exact personality we are looking for. She is even a bit of a talker like Boomer. But our household is not the best environment for her recovery and long-term we wouldn't be able to be very active with both dogs.
Alanis is at Pawmetto Lifeline in SC if anyone would like to adopt or sponser her

It's going to be a long road to find a cocker in a rescue that does not have temperament or health issues. It feels selfish to not take the sicker dogs but someone will adopt them. Maybe when I'm older and my lifestyle has changed a little I'll take the sicker ones. Both times we've looked at rescue dogs has been honestly heartbreaking. I've carried around a cloud of depression for days after saying no. I'd take them all if I could but it's got to be a good fit for us and them.

It seems like the process of getting a second dog is going to take forever but maybe that's the way it's meant to be, they aren't disposable toys. So until a puppy is produced by a good breeder (may be waiting a year or more on this) or we see a good fit with a rescue dog we are playing a waiting game. We'll  get there eventually!

Monday, 1 June 2015

Good shoulder news

I'm so happy! I went to the physiotherapist. I have a trapped nerve due to a lack of flexibility(?) in my upper spine.  A lot of it coming from my posture at my desk, sleeping and even during exercise. No tears in any of my muscles. I now have a ton of mobility and strength exercises to do and need to seriously be aware of my posture until everything approves. The good news is that the physio encourage me to run and lift..just to watch my posture while I do it. Woohoo! Best of all if the exercises improve it I don't have to go back and he didn't charge me for the consult...I seriously owe the man a beer.